Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life



Caste off: The plight of Christian Dalits in India

Published by U.S. Catholic, March 2013

Franklin Caesar Thomas and R. L. Francis both attend Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi. Though the two lay activists with similar backgrounds may be polite on Sundays, they don’t like each other.

Like 70 percent of Catholics in India, Thomas and Francis are Dalits—untouchables. For thousands of years, Indian society has been structured by caste, divided into four main groups and thousands of sub-groups. A family’s caste still largely determines one’s social standing and opportunities, and Dalits fall at the bottom. Continue reading “Caste off: The plight of Christian Dalits in India”

Caste First, Christ Second, for Some Indian Christians

Published by Religion Dispatches, July 9, 2012

John Yesunatha Das describes himself as buffalo color. His dark skin makes him recognizable as a Dalit, or untouchable, in India, and it’s caused the Pentecostal pastor trouble over the years.

His seminary, for instance, didn’t consider him for positions upon graduation, even though, as he says, “I was one of the brilliant students” and would be in leadership right now if it weren’t for his caste. Continue reading “Caste First, Christ Second, for Some Indian Christians”

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a (Hindu) match

Published by The Washington Post, Huff Post Religion & Religion News Service, April 20, 2012

Hands at Indian wedding

Kamna Mittal and her husband moved to the Bay Area soon after they were married in India in 2000. In addition to being in a new country, the couple were new to each other. Their marriage had been arranged.

“When you go for an arranged marriage,” she said, “it’s a total gamble.”

Now a mother of two, Mittal counts herself lucky that it worked out, but 12 years later, she wants to help Indian-American singles in the Bay Area meet directly.

Turns out even love can use a little help every now and then, and the age-old practice of arranged Hindu marriages is getting a 21st-century makeover. …


Tibetan refugees fear India’s crackdown on activism

Originally published on RIGHTS blog, March 31, 2012

NEW DELHI — India has hosted the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan followers for 53 years, but new strains between the Tibetan refugees and their hosts became evident this week with the arrest of more than 250 activists ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to New Delhi.

Indian police also placed the entire Tibetan community in Delhi on house arrest, closing down the refugee camp Majnu Ka Tilla following the self-immolation of a 27-year-old Tibetan exile. Continue reading “Tibetan refugees fear India’s crackdown on activism”

The Fire Next Time: Tibetan Protests Spread

Published by Religion Dispatches, March 28, 2012

DELHI—Shibayan Raha had worried that this would happen. At a protest against the upcoming visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao, a 27-year-old Tibetan exile lit himself on fire and ran past the podium before police and other activists could douse the flames. Continue reading “The Fire Next Time: Tibetan Protests Spread”

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