SPECIAL THANKS TO DSN UK

especially to Mr.Balram Sampla (Vice-Chair of DSN.) for letting me publish the articles/matter!

(Prem Kumar Chumber) editor@ambedkartimes.com


VIOLANCE WITH IMPUNITY

AGAINST DALITS IN INDIA

   That this House notes with grave concern the on going violence with impunity against Dalits in India (Formerly called ‘untouchables’); recalls the tragic murder of Surekha, Priyanka, Sudhir and Roshan Bhotmange in Khairlanji village in September 2006; regrets the chronic deficiencies in the investigation and the lack of prosecution of negligent police officers involved in the case; notes that official figures record approximately 26,000 atrocities against Dalits every year; notes that this statistic is unlikely to represent the true extent of violence; further notes a recent study on untouchability in rural India finding that Dalits faced discrimination in their access to police stations in 28% of villages and in their treatment in police stations in 32% of villages; notes the European Parliament Resolution of 1 February 2007 on the human rights situation of the Dalits in India; recognises the existence of legislation to protect Dalits from caste-based violence and  humiliation in India; and calls upon Her Majesty’s Government to make representations to the Indian Government to urge for the effective implementation of laws protecting Dalits from violent attacks. 

Meena Varma (Coordinator)

Dalit Solidarity Network - UK

www.dsnuk.org

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 OBC RESERVATION

IN NATIONAL INTEREST

Mandal commission says giving representation to 52% population of OBC’s is in the national interest of thecountry.Reservation Rashtrapita Jotiba Phuley and Rashtranirmata Dr.B.R.Ambedkar are the fathers of Concept of Reservation’. They gave birth to the concept of reservation. So reservation is not a mere phenomenon or mere instrument to get, to secure some jobs in the Government. Reservation is the matter of participation in the governance of the country. Reservation is nothing but representation in the Governance. We get reservation through Constitution. Article 15(4) and 16(4) talks of reservation (Representation) Article 15(4) Nothing in this article or in clause 2 of Article 29 (protection of minorities) shall prevent the state from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes. Article 16(4) Nothing in this ‘article shall prevent the state from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class citizens which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under the state. Under the 1950 Constitution of India, 15% of educational and civil service seats were reserved for "Scheduled castes" and 7.5% for "Scheduled tribes." Root Cause of Mandal Commission Dr.B.R.Ambedkar was in favour of giving representation to Other Backward classes while drafting the constitution of India. Because he was of the opinion that besides SC/ST’s there are vast castes which are backward and needs representation in the governance of the country. But there was so much oppose from all angles and it was asked who the backward classes are? As they were not having separate identity Dr.Ambedkar put provision of forming a commission who will identify who are these castes which needs representation. This Article 340 was the root cause of Mandal Commission Article 340 (1) The President may by order appoint a commission, consisting of such persons as he thinks, fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the union or any state to remove such difficulties and as to improve ‘their condition and as to the grants that should be made, and the order appointing such commission shall define the procedure to be followed by the commission. Article 340 (2) A commission so appointed shall investigate the matters referred to them and present to the president a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper. As per this article of the constitution which was implemented in 1950, the first Backward Class commission was set up by a presidential order on January 29, 1953 (3) years after the implementation of the constitution due to the social movement pressure of Dr.Ambedkar) under the chairmanship of Kaka Kalelkar Its terms of references were to:Determine the criteria to be adopted in considering whether any sections of the people in the territory of India in addition to the SC and ST as socially and educationally backward classes. 2 Using such criteria it was to prepare a list of such classes setting out also their approximate members and their territorial distribution. 3.Investigate the conditions of all such socially and educationally backward classes and the differences under which they labour and make recommendations 1. as to the steps that should be taken by the union or any state to remove such difficulties or to improve their economic condition, and 2.  as to the grants that should be made for the purpose by the union or any state and the conditions subject to which such grants should be made; 3. Investigate such other matters as the president may hereafter refer to them and 4. Present to the president a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper. Kaka Kalelkar commission adopted the following criteria: 1.Low social position in the traditional caste hierarchy of Hindu society. 2. Lack of general educational advancement among the major section of a caste or community. 3.Inadequate or no representation in government services. 4. Inadequate representation in the field of trade, commerce and industry

     The commission submitted its report on March 30, ‘1955. It had prepared a list of 2,399 backward castes or communities for the entire country and of which 837 had been classified as the ‘most backward’. Some of the most noteworthy recommendations of the commission were:

1. Undertaking caste-wise enumeration of population in the census of 1961.

2. Relating social backwardness of a class to its low position in the traditional caste hierarchy of Hindu society,

3. Treating all women as a class as ‘backward’;(As Manusmruti denied the equal status to women with men and put them in the fourth varna)

4. Reservation of 70 per cent seats in all technical and professional institutions for qualified students of backward classes.

5. Minimum reservation of vacancies in all government services and local bodies for other backward classes on the following scale: class I = 25 per cent; class II = 33˝ per cent; class III and IV = 40 per cent Shri. Kaka Kalelkar, the Chairman, took a rather equivocal stand on the issue, though he did not record a formal minutes of dissent, in his forwarding letter to the President he opposed the important recommendations made by the commission. But this report was not accepted by the Central government on the ground that it had not applied any objective tests for identifying the Backward Class.Thus, there was a need of second backward classes of commission.

Mandal commission The Mandal Commission in India was established in 1979 to "identify the socially or educationally backward." It was headed by Indian parliamentarian Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal (B.P.Mandal, hence named as Mandal Commission) to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination, and used eleven social, economic, and educational indicators to determine "backwardness." Members of Mandal Commission o  

Shri. B. P. Mandal- Chairman, Shri.R. R. Bhole Member, Shri. Dewan Mohan Lal-  Member,  Shri. L. R. Naik-  Member,    Shri. K. Subramaniam-  Member Objective of Mandal Commission

1. To determine the criteria for defining the socially and educationally backward classes

2.  To recommend the steps to be taken for their advancement.

3. To examine the desirability or otherwise for making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in their favour.

4.  To present a report setting out the facts found by the commission. Methodology of Mandal Commission Some of the important measures taken in this connection were

1. Seminar of sociologists on social backwardness.

2. Issue of three sets of questionnaires  to State Government and the public

3. Extensive touring of the country by the Commission, taking evidence of legislators, eminent public men, sociologist

4. Undertaking country wide socio-educational survey (A socio-educational field survey was organized under the panel of experts with M. N. Srinivas as chairman).

5.  Preparation of reports on some important issues by specialized agencies.

6.  Caste Study, village monographs and study of legal and constitutional issues, Analysis of the census data etc Criteria to identify OBC The Mandal Commission adopted various methods and techniques to collect the necessary data and evidence. The commission also adopted 11 criteria which could be grouped under three major headings: social, educational and economic in order to identify OBCs.

The 11 criteria’s are as follows: Social Criteria (4 * 3 = 12 points)

•       Castes/classes considered as socially backward by others.

•       Castes/classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood.

•       Castes/classes where at least 25 per cent females and 10 per cent males above the state average get married at an age below 17 years in rural areas and at least 10 per cent females and 5 per cent males do so in urban areas.

•       Castes/classes where participation of females in work is at least 2 per cent above the state average. Educational Criteria ( 2 points each, total 6 point)

•       Castes/classes where the number of children in the age group of’ 5-15 years who never attended school is at least 25 per cent above the state average.

•       Castes/classes where the rate of student drop-out in the age group of 5-15 years is at least 25 per cent above the state average.

•       Castes/classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25 per cent below the state average. Economic Criteria (1 point each, total 4 point)

•       Castes/classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25 per cent below the state average.

•       Castes/classes where the number of families living in kuccha houses is at least 25 per cent above the state average.

•       Castes/classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half a kilometer for more than 50 per cent of the households.

•       Castes/classes where the number of households having taken consumption loans is at least 25 per cent above the state average.

All castes, which had a score of 50 per cent (i.e., 11 points) or above by applying the 11 criteria were listed as socially and educationally backward and the rest were treated as ‘advanced’.

By adopting this multilateral approach the commission was able to cast its net far and wide and prepared a very firma and dependable database for report.

Findings and report The commission estimated that 52% of the total

population (excluding SCs and STs), belonging to 3,743 different castes and communities were ‘backward’. Figures of caste-wise population are not available beyond. So the commission used 1931 census data to

calculate the number of OBCs. The population of OBCs was derived by subtracting from the total population of Hindus, the population of SC and ST and that of forward Hindu castes and communities, and it worked

out to be 52 per cent. However, only 27 per cent of reservation was

recommended owing to the legal constraint of the Honorable Supreme court ruling that the total quantum of reservation should not exceed 50 percent. These recommendations in total are applicable to all recruitment to public sector undertakings both under the central and state governments, as also to nationalised banks. All private sector undertakings which have received financial assistance from the

government in one form or other should also be obliged to recruit personnel on the aforesaid basis. All universities and affiliated colleges should also be covered by the above scheme of reservation. Although education is considered an important factor to bring a desired social change, "educational reform" was not within the terms of reference of this commission. To promote literacy the following measures were suggested:

1.      An intensive time-bound programme for adult education should be launched in selected pockets with high concentration of OBC population;

2.      Residential schools should be set up in these areas for backward class students to provide a climate specially conducive to serious studies. All facilities in these schools including board and lodging should be provided free of cost to attract students from poor and backward homes;

3.      Separate hostels for OBC students with above facilities will have to be provided;

4.      Vocational training was considered imperative. It was recommended that seats should be reserved for OBC students in all scientific, technical and professional institutions run by the central as well as state governments. The quantum of reservation should be the same as in the government services, i e, 27 per cent The above reservation should also be made applicable to promotion quota at all levels. Reserved quota remaining unfilled should be carried forward for a period of three years and de-reserved thereafter. Relaxation in the upper age limit for direct recruitment should be extended to the candidates of OBC in the same manner as done in the case of SCs and STs. A roster system for each category of posts should be adopted by the concerned authorities in the same manner as presently done in respect of SC and ST candidates. According to 2001 census, out of India's population of 1,028,737,436 the Scheduled castes comprises 166,635,700 and Scheduled Tribe 84,326,240, that is 16.2% and 8.2% respectively. (The SC/ST population has increased as per the census of 2001). There is no data on OBCs in the census. The implementation of Mandal commission will lead to a reduction of social and educational backwardness and give a chance to live to the backwardness and give a chance to live to the backward classes who constitute 52% of the population of India. When 27% reservation of jobs and educational seats is given for people constituting nearly more than 52% of the population. But those who constitute less than 15%(higher castes who are getting 100% reservation for the last 1000 years)grab 100% of power - and that is supposed to be in the national interest, etc. Brahmins who are 3.5% of the total population enjoys 100% representation in the Union Cabinet, in Secretariat positions, in Governors' and Vice-Chancellors' and ambassadorial jobs, that does not raise even an eyebrow of the so-called casteless society wallahas! 'Caste' cannot be used to deny social justice to a vast majority of the people; neither can caste be allowed to be used to maintain privileges and positions grabbed and retained by a microscopic minority (3.5% Brahmins) for thousands of years. The struggle against caste cannot be side-tracked to perpetuate the domination of the higher caste. The struggle against caste is the most intense from of class-struggle in the Indian situation. But the main thing is that besides reservations, the Mandal Commission has recommended certain structural changes. The Commission has sharply focussed on the fact that a large majority of the OBCs live in villages, that they are poor farmers, or farm labourers or village artisans whose 'business' has been completely destroyed by the Batas and Garwares. These rural poor are today completely under the control of the rich farmers and traders who have reduced them to a state of slavery. Their conditions cannot be change takes place in the relations of production. The Commission wants a change in the private ownership of the means of production both in industry and agriculture. Even if the existing laws in the statute books are enforced ruthlessly and impartially, it would give considerable relief to the poor. At least, the strange hold of rich farmers will be loosened, if not broken. The Commission recommends that the Ceiling Act and other land reform statutes should be vigorously enforced. The SC/ST and the OBC solidarity let it be understood, unites 85% of the people, suppressed, exploited and condemned to a life of degradation and humiliation. The Mandal Commission has opened the visa of such powerful consolidation of the exploited people. The struggle for land which in effect would also become the struggle for the liberation of the poor from the dominant rich in rural areas, is also linked up with the struggle for survival of rural artisans. They have no land, or very little of it, and their traditional occupations have been ruined by the invasion of big companies. The Commission has recommended that separate financial institutions should be set up to help them organize their occupation on a cooperative basis. These cooperatives must be controlled only by the rural artisans. Furthermore, these rural artisans must be given training in the use of modern instruments, modern methods and style. A comprehensive charter of demands for the entire rural OBCs, those in farming and rural artisans, based on these recommendations of the Mandal Commission, could galvanize the rural masses into a concerted action. There is yet another dimension to the prospects opened by the Commission. The Commission has broken fresh grounds and has carried out its investigations into the conditions of the backward sections among Muslimsand Christians, thus transgressing religiousdivisions. The Commission has shown, with substantive evidence, how backwardness-social and educational-prevails even among religious communities which avowedly do not believe in caste. They believe in the equality of man. Yet there exist divisions of 'high' and 'low'. The Mandal Commission recommendations for OBCs are applicable to all 3743 castes, thus the struggle for the recommendations of the Mandal Commission can unite

all the exploited and oppressed masses irrespective of religious divisions. Their struggle against high caste domination and exploitation can become the struggle against capitalist-landlord exploitation and therefore a struggle for equality and social justice.

Members of village vocational communities who want to set up small-scale industries on their own should be given suitable institutional finance and technical assistance. In addition, similar assistance should be extended to those promising OBC candidates who have undergone special vocational training. In this regard, separate financial institutions should also be established.

  It was also considered imperative that all state governments should create a separate network of financial and technical institutions to foster business and industrial enterprise among OBC as a part of its overall strategy to uplift them. To implement all these recommendations, Central and state governments should form separate ministry On 30th April 1981, Mandal Commission was submitted to

both the houses of parliament but former prime minister Indira Gandhi and after that Rajiv Gandhi cleverly ignored it. The Supreme Court gave its verdict in favour of the implementation of 1990 order of the Union Government, providing reservation in jobs. So from 1992, a part of

the recommendations of the Commission is being implemented. Supporters of the Mandal Commission argue that national unity should be on the basis of justice for all castes, and that both traditional varnashram and post-independence Congress Raj had worked only to the benefit of brahmins and other privileged minorities. They also argue that reservations are essential to the uplift and empowerment of people from less privileged castes.Note : Creamy Layer The Income limit has since been raised from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs.2.5 lakhs w.e.f. 09.03.2004 vide DOP2T O.M, No.36033/3/2004-ESTT(Res) dated 09.03.2004.

Regards

Ashish

April 6th, 2007

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DALIT SOLIDARITY NETWORK UK

and Minority Rights Group International

 

PRESS RELEASE:

 

 

NEPALESE DALIT WOMEN SPEAK OF VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION AT HOUSE OF COMMONS MEETING 28TH NOVEMBER 2006

 

On Tuesday 28 November at an historic meeting in the House of Commons, London , Nepalese Dalit Manju Badi, from an ‘untouchable’ caste branded as prostitutes, gave first hand testimony on the extent and depth of the violence and discrimination Dalit women face in everyday Nepalese life. Dalits are considered the lowest of the low in the brutal caste system that rigidly divides South East Asian society. There are approximately 1.2 million Dalit women in Nepal - around 12.3 percent of the female population.

 

Manju Badi was abandoned after 12 years by the father of her three children. He never told his family she existed and the couple lived apart. The same thing happened to Manju’s mother before Manju was born. Now Manju’s children face a life in poverty and without citizenship rights because their higher caste father will not admit they are his.

 

Nepalese Dalit filmmaker Anita Pariyar screened her documentary on the lives of Dalit women in Nepal . Nibha Singh, Nepali human rights activist, presented further evidence, on how Dalit women are forced into child marriage, are blamed for bad luck, have been forced to eat human faeces and that they suffer exploitation and violence from ‘higher caste’ men outside their communities as well as domestic violence in their own homes. Dalit children are consistently excluded from school and the community has little or no recourse to social justice. As Manju’s experience shows, they are affected generation after generation.

 

Durga Sob, President of the Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO) of Nepal urged the British government and international community to support the full participation of Dalit women in the political change sweeping Nepal at this time and to ensure their representation and strong voice in the new Constituent Assembly and political structures. She stressed the need to ensure that Dalits without citizenship are able to freely register as Nepali citizens in order to fully participate in the upcoming election and cast their vote. Independent monitoring by the EU or International community of the participation of Dalits in the election is essential.

 

Most importantly the Dalit Women highlighted the action that all Nepalese Dalit women are taking daily to change their own and the lives of their communities, to secure a life free of discrimination in Nepal . They call upon the Nepalese government to end caste and gender discrimination in all spheres of public and private life and to ensure that comprehensive laws to protect their rights are fully implemented and impunity against violence and discrimination is stopped – now.

 

For further information please contact:

Gina Borbas – Coordinator

Mob:  07710 146788

 

DALIT SOLIDARITY NETWORK UK

Tel: 020 7501 8323 Email: dalitsnuk@yahoo.co.uk

Registered Charity Number 1107022

 

Dalit Solidarity Network - UK
Thomas Clarkson House, The Stableyard
Broomgrove Road, London SW9 9TL.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7501 8323
Fax: +44 (0)20 7738 4110

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The Hague Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity

 of Dalit Women

 

The Hague, 21 November 2006

WE, the participants of the Hague Conference on Dalit Women ’s Rights, held in The Hague on 20 and 21 November 2006, after deliberating upon the issues of Discrimination, violence and impunity against Dalit women, adopt this Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women.

 

In South Asia “that is, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka “Dalits have endured discrimination based on work and descent for centuries, and this discrimination continues today. The Dalits “known as  untouchables or outcastes “number around two hundred and sixty million people in South Asia . On account of their caste, they experience discrimination, social exclusion and violence on a daily basis. Although economic growth in the region has been strong over the past decade, caste disparities remain and are in fact increasing. The situation of Dalit women in these countries needs urgent and special attention. They constitute one of the largest socially segregated groups anywhere in the world and face systemic and structural discrimination thrice over: as Dalits, as women, and as poor.

 

Systemic Discrimination, Violence and Impunity

 

The caste system declares Dalit women to be intrinsically impure and untouchable, therefore socially excluded. In class terms, the vast majority of Dalit women are poor; many are landless daily wage labourers who are systematically denied access to resources. As women, they are subjugated by patriarchal structures. Due to this intersectional discrimination, Dalit women are specifically targeted for daily, egregious acts of violence, in particular for sexual violence, including the Devadasi system of forced and ritualised prostitution. On account of their ‘ impure ’ caste and poverty, Dalit women comprise the majority of manual scavengers, that is, labourers who clean human excrement from dry toilets. When they assert fundamental rights, Dalit women are targeted for punitive violence by dominant castes. Due to patriarchal notions of community honor residing in women, dominant caste violence against Dalit women functions to punish the entire Dalit community and teach Dalits a lesson of obedience to caste norms. Moreover, Dalit women are discriminated against not only by dominant castes on account of their caste, class and gender, but also by their own communities on account of their gender. Dalit women have less power within the Dalit community in general.

When considering discrimination and violence against Dalit women, one can state that impunity is the key problem Dalit women face today – not only while seeking legal and judicial redress for violence, but also while attempting to access and enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms. Perpetrators enjoy virtual immunity from prosecution for violence against Dalit women, as the police, who themselves often harbor caste prejudices, willfully neglect to enforce the law. Not only the police, but perpetrators and their communities use their political, social and economic power to silence Dalit women, thereby denying them access to justice. The nature of collusion between state and dominant.

The Hague Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women

 

Caste actors are such that the modern rule of law has no place in the hierarchical order of socioeconomic and political power relationships, as caste-based power supersedes state-derived executive authority.

 

Assertion by Dalit women

 

Dalit women today are not simply passive victims; the current mood is not one of mere acceptance, but one of determination to ‘ transform their pain into power ’. In fact, they have been active throughout history, though often this has not been recognised and recorded. They have been actively involved in the anti-caste and anti-Untouchability movements. Today they are the strongholds of the Dalit movements in thousands of South Asian villages, and are often at the forefront of struggles for basic human rights. They continue to play a critical role in the movements for land and livelihood rights and against Untouchability, pointing to the potential for their self-emancipation, given adequate support.

They are making their mark as independent thinkers and writers in the literary world by critiquing dominant caste ideologies. They participate today as visionary leaders in the local governance institution by asserting their rights. While they continue to struggle against structural discrimination and exclusion, violence and impunity are systematically unleashed by dominant castes to keep them in their place.

While recognising the gendered nature of caste discrimination for Dalit women, these women have turned their †suffering ’ into one of ‘ resistance ’, actively participating shoulder to shoulder with men in their communities in the anti-caste and anti-Untouchability movements. They have simultaneously contributed to the welfare of their families, sustained their communities given their labour for producing food and wealth for their countries. In this regard, Dalit women build their identities on a culture of resistance against the hegemonic culture of the caste system, expressing their defiance and revolt

Against the caste, class and gender discrimination that oppresses them. This assertion of distinct identity and simultaneous forging of a collective identity in multiple struggles marks the Dalit women s movement in various ways.

 

Human rights of Dalit women

 

The countries where caste discrimination persists are party to most of the relevant human rights instruments: the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). These treaties provide equal rights for men and women. As these countries are also party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), governments have a specific obligation to make sure that women can realise their human rights. It is generally accepted in international legal standards that governments have to do more than just pass laws to protect human rights. Governments have an obligation to take all measures, including policy and budgetary measures, to make sure that women can fulfill and enjoy their fundamental rights. Equally importantly, governments must implement these laws, policy measures and programmes to fully discharge their obligations under international law. This includes an obligation to exercise due diligence in punishing those who engage in caste-based discrimination and violence.

 

Millennium Development Goals and Dalit women

 

In 2000, one hundred and eighty-nine countries accepted the Millennium Declaration and agreed to take the necessary action in order to attain eight specific goals: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1. The realisation of human rights of Dalit women will have a substantial positive effect on the realisation of the MDGs. This is because Dalit women are extremely poor, and make up two percent of the world ’s population. In India, for example, 60 million children do not attend primary school; a disproportionate number of these children are Dalit girls.

1 The MDGs are: 1) reduction of extreme poverty and hunger by half; 2) primary education for all boys and girls; 3) gender equality and empowerment of women; 4) reduction of child mortality by two-thirds; 5) reduction of maternal mortality by three quarters; 6) combat HIV/aids, malaria and other diseases; 7) clean drinking water and 100 million slum dwellers above the poverty line; 8) more aid, fair trade, less debt.

The Hague Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women

 

International Conference on Dalit Women ’s Rights

 

Over the years Dalit women ’s organisations and movements have increasingly voiced their specific concerns and asserted their separate identity, calling for solidarity from the International Community.

 

The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 saw for the first time international recognition given to the discrimination faced by Dalit women. Dalit women also played a crucial role in the World Conference against Racism in South Africa in 2001, where Dalit issues were brought to the fore of the international attention. Following the National Conference on Violence against Dalit Women in Delhi on 7 and 8 March 2006, Justitia et Pax Netherlands, Cordaid, and CMC as members of the Dalit Network Netherlands (DNN), in collaboration with the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR, India), the National Federation of Dalit Women (India), the ALL India Dalit Women's Rights Forum (India), Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO, Nepal), the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) and other Dalit and Women ’s rights organizations, responded to the request of Dalit women and organised the International Conference on the Human Rights of Dalit Women on 20 and 21 November 2006 in The Hague, The Netherlands.

 

Focus of international conference

 

Caste, class and gender discrimination prevents Dalit women from enjoying their basic human rights, particularly to dignity, equality and development. Atrocities and violence against Dalit women are both a means of sustaining systemic discrimination, as well as a reaction when particularly Untouchability practices and caste norms are challenged or not adhered to. Impunity for this discrimination and violence is then used as a means to preserve the existing caste and gender disparities. Before Dalit women can enjoy their human rights, and before the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved,

Discrimination, violence and impunity must stop.

 

Therefore we, the participants of The Hague Conference on Dalit Women ’s Rights, call upon the respective governments in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to take seriously the voices of Dalit women as they explain their specific situation, to support them in asserting their rights and to ensure Dalit women and girls are brought on par with the general population in terms of overall development (e.g. poverty reduction) within a period of five years. We call upon the international community to undertake and support every possible measure to fight the widespread discrimination, violence and impunity committed against Dalit women.

Recommendations

Recommendations to the respective governments of Nepal , India , Pakistan , Bangladesh and

Sri Lanka:

• Disaggregate all criminal, economic, social and political data on the grounds of gender and caste.

• Evolve and implement a comprehensive strategy to address impunity and ensure criminal justice for Dalit women.

• Grant powers to make legally binding recommendations to relevant National Human Rights Institutions to establish an independent complaints and monitoring mechanism to address the discrimination and violence against Dalit women.

• Enact domestic violence (prevention and protection) laws that acknowledge the unique

Vulnerability of Dalit women, allocate adequate resources and ensure a comprehensive

monitoring mechanism with representation of Dalit women for effective implementation of these laws.

• Provide support to establish informal organisations for Dalit women to freely discuss the social, domestic and development issues in their own community and to strengthen leadership within local governance structures.

• Mandate proportional representation of Dalit women elected into parliaments, legislatures and local governance systems, including equal distribution of other minority groups, such as Joginis/Badis (India/Nepal) irrespective of their faith, and provide adequate budget allocations in this regard.

The Hague Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women

• Restore lands earmarked by governments for Dalits and register them in the name of Dalit women or jointly with men, and also acquire and distribute surplus lands by implementing and Reform Acts and distribute lands to Dalits in proportion to their populations in each country.

• Issue legal title to lands possessed and enjoyed by Dalit women and men, in the name of Dalit women or jointly with men; grant each Dalit family five acres of land registered in the name of Dalit women; allocate and distribute sufficient budget for the purchase of land and distribute to Dalit women; ensure payment of equal and living wage to Dalit women without discrimination;

• Ensure Dalit women enjoy equal access to and share of common property resources, in particular water resources, and provide budgetary support to create common property for their own.

• Enact appropriate legislation to prevent displacement of Dalits and alienation of their lands in the name of development projects and schemes in the context of economic globalisation.

• Eradicate the practice of manual scavenging and the jogini system and enforce rehabilitation policies and programmes for their alternative livelihood and sustenance.

• Implement laws that prohibit bonded or forced labour.

• Allocate sufficient budget for full primary and secondary level education of all Dalit girls,

including funds for staff in schools and infrastructure, and vocational institutions

 

• Ensure reduction of pre-natal mortality, infant mortality and maternal mortality among Dalit women on a time-bound basis.

• Provide assistance to launch a national campaign of caste sensitisation and elimination of caste, class and gender discrimination.

Recommendations to the International Community, to the United Nations and the European

Union:

Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

Having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and all other relevant UN Conventions;

Having regard to General Recommendation XXIX of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in particular to paragraphs 11-13;

Having regarded to and reinforcing the urgency of the ongoing UN study on a Discrimination based on Work and Descent and the development of Principles and Guidelines for the effective elimination of this form of discrimination, we call upon:

The international community to ensure that the large gap is closed, at the latest by 2015, by achieving targets of the Millennium Development Goals for the population in general and Dalit women and girls in particular, through providing additional measures for Dalit women and girls to realise their right to development on par with others.

The United Nations Human Rights bodies and mechanisms, the United Nations organizations, intergovernmental institutions and organizations, the European Union, bilateral aid agencies and international non-governmental organizations to give full recognition and effect to the content and the recommendations of The Hague Conference on the Rights of Dalit Women;

The international community to express its outrage against the caste-induced, systematic practice of Untouchability and atrocities against Dalits in South Asia in general and against Dalit women in particular.

These institutions and bodies to raise the issues and concerns of Dalit women at all levels and to involve and introduce all necessary measures, and to support and secure the implementation of the recommendations of this Declaration with a sense of great urgency.

The Human Rights Council to address the issue of Untouchability and violence against Dalit women and men and the impunity related to caste practices and discrimination.

 The ILO in its annual Global Reports on fundamental labour rights (no child and no forced labour, non-discrimination in employment and the right to association and collective bargaining) to highlight and propose measures to fight the systematic violation of these fundamental rights as far as Dalit women and girls are concerned. 

ARUN KHOTE

National Media Secretary

NATIONAL CAMPAIGN ON DALIT HUMAN RIGHTS (NCDHR)

Add: 8/1, South Patel Nagar, NEW DELHI- 110008 (INDIA)

Mobile: 91# 9350183802 Ph & Fax- 91#11-25842249, 91#11-25842250

E Mail: arun@ncdhr.org ncdhr@vsnl.net Website: www.dalits.org www.ncdhr.org  



PRESS RELEASE

Copenhagen, 24 November 2006


"WE WANT TO TRANSFORM OUR PAIN TO POWER"

International Conference seeks urgent action

on discrimination and violence against Dalit Women

 

Dalit women from South Asia are determined to "transform their pain into power". That was the main message of the two day international conference held in The Hague on the 20th and 21st of November 2006. It was the first international conference to discuss the issues of discrimination and violence against more than 100 million Dalit women. In "The Hague Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit women" the participants urged the governments of Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as the international community to support their struggle.

In South Asia, Dalits “known as "untouchables" and "outcastes" - have endured caste discrimination for centuries. The situation of Dalit women, one of the largest socially segregated groups in the world, is shocking. Dalit women are among the poorest; they face ‘triple discrimination€™, as Dalits, as women and as poor. The caste system declares them intrinsically impure and “untouchable” and generally they are subjugated by men. Dalit women comprise the majority of manual scavengers, labourers who clean human excrements from dry toilets. Dalit women are targets of extreme violence, including sexual assault and forced prostitution.

Violence and impunity
In the City Hall of The Hague Dalit women presented shocking and heart-breaking testimonials about the violence perpetrated against them and the impunity which followed. Authors of the study "Dalit women Speak Out - Violence against Dalit women in India" presented their findings of a three-year comprehensive study on forms, magnitude and the systematic pattern of violence which is accompanied by equally systematic patterns of impunity. The study revealed that only one percent of perpetrators are convicted in courts.

Physical and sexual violence against Dalit women is not only systemic, but also affects the majority of Dalit women. The study documents how rape, murder, physical assault and humiliation of Dalit women are intentionally used to maintain the oppression of the Dalit community by the dominant castes. Impunity is the key problem that Dalit women face today when they try to seek justice after violence is perpetrated against them. As stated in the Hague Declaration: "Perpetrators enjoy virtual immunity from prosecution as the police, who often harbour caste prejudices, willfully neglect to enforce the law".

Often, Dalit women have protested and resisted although that has not been recognised and recorded. However, defiance is increasing. "Dalit women today are not merely passive victims; the current mood seems to be not one of mere acceptance, but determined to transform their pain into power", the Hague Declaration empathically states.

The Hague Declaration
In the Declaration the participants of the Hague conference call upon the governments of Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to support the women in asserting their rights. The governments are called upon to address the failure of the justice system to protect Dalit women and to implement measures to close the vast socio-economic gap between Dalit women and the rest of the population. The recommendations include: implementing an independent complaint mechanism to address the atrocities against Dalit women; establishing organisations to discuss social, domestic and development issues in their community; taking strong measures to give land to Dalits, which is to be registered in the name of Dalit women (or jointly with men); eradicating practices of manual scavenging and the Devadasi system of ritualised prostitution; allocating sufficient budget to full primary and secondary education of all Dalit girls and ensuring the reduction of pre-natal mortality, infant mortality and maternal mortality among Dalit women. The participants also urge the governments in South Asia to launch national campaigns for the elimination of caste.

International community should act
The participants in the Hague Conference also call upon the international community, including the UN human rights bodies, the UN organisations, the EU, bilateral aid agencies and NGOs to act upon the recommendations of the Hague Declaration. In particular they are asked to express their outrage at the caste-induced systematic practices of untouchability and atrocities against Dalit women. It also calls upon the international community to ensure that, at the latest in 2015, the large ‘development gap’ (e.g. in terms of poverty) is closed between Dalit women and girls and the ‘general population ’. Finally, the ILO is asked propose measures against the systematic violation of the four fundamental labour rights where Dalit women and girls are concerned.

Following the National Conference on Violence Against Dalit Women in Delhi on 7 and 8th March 2006, Justitia et Pax Netherlands, Cordaid and CMC in collaboration with the Dalit Network Netherlands (DNN), the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (India), the National Federation of Dalit women, the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) and other Dalit and Women ’s rights organizations responded to the request of Dalit women and organized the International Conference on the Human Rights of Dalit women on 20 and 21 of November 2006 in The Hague, The Netherlands.

For further information please contact:
Stephanie Joubert, Dalit Network Netherlands: +31 610753170
Paul Divakar, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights: +91 9910046813
Rikke NĂśhrlind, IDSN: + 45 29700630


DALIT SOLIDARITY NETWORK UK and Minority

Rights Group International

PRESS RELEASE:

 

NEPALESE DALIT WOMEN SPEAK OF VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION

AT HOUSE OF COMMONS MEETING 28TH NOVEMBER 2006

 

On Tuesday 28 November at an historic meeting in the House of Commons, London , Nepalese Dalit Manju Badi, from an ‘ untouchable ’ caste branded as prostitutes, gave first hand testimony on the extent and depth of the violence and discrimination Dalit women face in everyday Nepalese life. Dalits are considered the lowest of the low in the brutal caste system that rigidly divides South East Asian society. There are approximately 1.2 million Dalit women in Nepal - around 12.3 percent of the female population.

 

Manju Badi was abandoned after 12 years by the father of her three children. He never told his family she existed and the couple lived apart. The same thing happened to Manju ’s mother before Manju was born. Now Manju ’s children face a life in poverty and without citizenship rights because their higher caste father will not admit they are his.

 

Nepalese Dalit filmmaker Anita Pariyar screened her documentary on the lives of Dalit women in Nepal. Nibha Singh, Nepali human rights activist, presented further evidence, on how Dalit women are forced into child marriage, are blamed for bad luck, have been forced to eat human faeces and that they suffer exploitation and violence from †˜higher caste ’ men outside their communities as well as domestic violence in their own homes. Dalit children are consistently excluded from school and the community has little or no recourse to social justice. As Manju ’s experience shows, they are affected generation after generation.

 

Durga Sob, President of the Feminist Dalit Organisation (FEDO) of Nepal urged the British government and international community to support the full participation of Dalit women in the political change sweeping Nepal at this time and to ensure their representation and strong voice in the new Constituent Assembly and political structures. She stressed the need to ensure that Dalits without citizenship are able to freely register as Nepali citizens in order to fully participate in the upcoming election and cast their vote. Independent monitoring by the EU or International community of the participation of Dalits in the election is essential.

 

Most importantly the Dalit Women highlighted the action that all Nepalese Dalit women are taking daily to change their own and the lives of their communities, to secure a life free of discrimination in Nepal. They call upon the Nepalese government to end caste and gender discrimination in all spheres of public and private life and to ensure that comprehensive laws to protect their rights are fully implemented and impunity against violence and discrimination is stopped – now.

 

For further information please contact:

Gina Borbas –Coordinator

Mob:  07710 146788

 

DALIT SOLIDARITY NETWORK UK

Tel: 020 7501 8323 Email: dalitsnuk@yahoo.co.uk

Registered Charity Number 1107022

 
Dalit Solidarity Network -
UK
Thomas Clarkson House, the
Stableyard
Broomgrove Road
, London SW9 9TL
.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7501 8323
  Fax: +44 (0)20 7738 4110

 


LEVELING

THE PLAYING FIELD

 

Caste Discrimination and the Ambedkar Principles.

 

Seminar Report on Social Responsibility of Foreign Investors in South Asia

Sponsored by Amicus and Lloyds TSB, July 2006

 
U.K.6.bmp

DALIT SOLIDARITY NETWORK UK

 

Statement from Amicus

 

The systematic discrimination of Dalits is a severe human rights violation. The continued caste injustice suffered by millions both in India and the uk remains an unacceptable reality in the lives of people considered “untouchables”. We are proud to support the Dalit Solidarity Network UK in their campaign to end caste discrimination.

 

It is with pride that Amicus has sponsored the seminar to launch the Ambedkar Principles. Not only is it important that there is increased awareness of the problems faced by the Dalit community, companies must also address their responsibilities in preventing caste discrimination.

 

David Fleming, Amicus National Officer

 

 

Statement from Lloyds TSB

 

Dalit solidarity network UK is seeking to fight caste discrimination via the adoption of the Ambedkar Principles and I offer congratulations with respect to all the efforts they have made to further the opportunities of those who are deprived and discriminated against.


Richard Stockdale, CEO Lloyds TSB, India

 

 

 

OUR SPECIAL THANKS TO AMICUS AND LLOYDS TSB FOR SPONSORING

THE SEMINAR

 

CONTENTS

 

Title/ Authors

                                                                                                                          Pages

(1)  Introduction

Rodney Bickerstaffe, former General Secretary of Unison and Trustee of DSN-UK    4-6

 

(2)TheAmbedkarPrinciples and their Development                                               7-8

General Oonk, Dalit Network Netherlands

 

(3)TheContextfortheSeminar                                                                                 9-12

Tara Brace-John, Dalit Solidarity Network UK

 

(4)HumanRightsandtheResponsibilityof Companies                                                                                                             13-16

Marie Busck, Danish Institute for Human Rights

 

(5)  Affirmative Action in German Business Enterprises in India

                                                                                                                               17-19

Walter Hahn, Dalit Solidarity in Germany

 

(6)A Business Perspective:  Viewsofa Western CEOR aised in India                       20-23

Richard Stockdale, CEO Lloyds TSB India

 

(7)  A Parliamentary Perspective: Work on Caste Discrimination in the UK House of commons 2005/6 Rob Marris MP, Wolver Hampton South West and Member of Parliamentary Trade and Industry Select Committee

 

(8)  Addressing Caste Discrimination in an International Context

Baroness Royall, Spokesperson for the Department for International Development in

the House of Lords 26-28

 

(9)Conclusion: The Way Forward                                                                          29-30

David Haslam, Chair of Trustees, Dalit Solidarity Network UK

 

(10)ListofSeminarParticipants                                                                                     31

 

(11)PublicationsofInterest                                                                                            32

 

 

OUR SPECIAL THANKS GO TO PROFESSOR JOHN HARRIS AND CHRIS LEE FOR HELPING US ORGANISE THE SEMINAR AT THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this report are the authors’ own and may not reflect the vies and opinions of DSN-UK

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION 

Rodney Bickerstaffe, former General Secretary of UNISON and

Trustee of Dalit Solidarity Network-UK

 

The Dalit Solidarity Network (DSN-UK)

 

The DSN-UK has been highly active in relation with government, companies, INGOs, trade unions and churches since it was set up in 1998 by a number of concerned individuals and organisations.  It has grown in strength and is now well known for its advocacy on behalf of Dalit people in India and the other countries of South Asia who suffer from ‘untouchability’ & caste discrimination, and those discriminated against by work and descent in other countries. 

 

 

The name Dalit, drawn from the Marathi[1] language, literally means ‘crushed’ or ‘broken’, but more generally means ‘oppressed people’. It was a name that the Untouchables in India took for themselves after rejecting the name Harijan and was greatly popularised by the Dalit leader Jyotirao Phule and the Dalit Panther Movement in Maharashtra, India. 

 

DSN-UK uses the name Dalit in an inclusive manner to address all those who suffer from social exclusion based on caste, caste like practices and discrimination based on work and descent. This includes both the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes who are India’s most oppressed communities.

 

The scheduled castes are the outcastes and are not part of the caste system. They are assigned to occupations deemed too defiling for other castes such as manual scavenging (cleaning dry toilets), sweeping, disposing of corpses, skinning and tanning of animal hides, making footwear, digging graves etc. They are thought of as polluted and polluting and therefore left out of mainstream society[2].

 

The scheduled tribes or indigenous people are ethnically different from the scheduled castes and also suffer from untouchability. They are known as Adivasis and are discriminated against on the basis of work and descent and not because of caste as the scheduled castes are.

 

Dalits find upward mobility impossible due to systematic discrimination at all levels[3].

 

 

Our colleagues particularly in India, but also from other South Asian countries, now send us a constant stream of information, via the internet, which details the ongoing harassment, discrimination and violence against Dalits. This rather makes a mockery of the fact that India received the highest number of votes in the election to the new UN Human Rights Council earlier this year. 

India has been negotiating for a seat on the UN Security Council for sometime now. With the continued blatant abuse of Dalit human rights, we would argue that India does not deserve a seat on the UN Security Council until it combats caste discrimination more actively.

 

Since DSN-UK has brought caste to wider attention, most government ministers and civil servants dealing with India in DFID, the Foreign Office and the Department for Trade and Industry are now aware of caste discrimination. We are pleased that Baroness Royall presented DFID’s views at the seminar. Also, the recent report of the Parliamentary Committee for Trade and Industry recommends that the Government refers companies investing in India to the Ambedkar Principles. This follows the example of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs in an advice booklet published in October 2005.

 

The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN)

 

The IDSN was formed in London in 1990 and has grown in strength and influence.  It is currently based in Copenhagen, with two full-time staff and one intern.  It has been extremely active in relation to the relevant UN bodies and agencies, the EU and other appropriate institutions.

 

IDSN remains active and effective due to the support and involvement of the Solidarity Networks in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, as well as the UK.  Largely through IDSN's campaigning, the UN Commission for Human Rights initiated a three-year study on caste-based discrimination. IDSN will continue campaigning to ensure that this study be completed under the auspices of the new Human Rights Council.

 

Our Private Sector Focus

 

There is an existing ‘reservation policy’ in India, which was introduced in 1947. This is confined to the State and State-supported sectors that provide employment to only about 10% of the working population. Since 90% of the jobs are in the private sector, there has been a demand for a similar reservation policy for the private sector too. Liberalisation has made the private sector a more dynamic source of employment and growth while at the same time large numbers of Dalits are in danger of becoming unemployed[4].

 

The debate on reservation in the private sector which entails a quota system is presently raging in India. It is quite plausible that in the near future there will be legislation in place to support this. This legislation might or might not directly address foreign companies in India, but it will surely have an overall effect on the business community one way or the other.

 

The discourse of merit versus social justice seems to have lost its bite with companies recruiting by normal procedures not being so thrilled with the merit of their non-Dalit candidates[5]. Dalits are beginning to assert that they are as capable to participate in the private sector if only they are given opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. DSN-UK along with IDSN felt that our work should focus on motivating foreign investors to become conscious of caste discrimination and expand the scope of their recruitment to consciously include Dalits.

 

What DSN-UK is proposing is a policy of positive or affirmative action which is voluntary and which is both economically and socially a healthier option. We feel that it would be prudent for companies not to procrastinate and instead kick-start the transition to more inclusive policies. 

 

Our proposal is not based on a quota system which business feels will hurt meritocracy but on a system of conscious inclusion. The Ambedkar Principles suggest numerous ways in which the Dalit work force can be strengthened to enable them to compete among equals.

 

Our work focuses on encouraging the private sector to become conscious of caste discrimination.  We have been in dialogue with a number of British and other European companies investing in India. After the first UK Seminar on the private sector in the autumn of 2004, DSN-UK developed the Ambedkar Principles, drawing on race equality principles developed in the UK and USA, international business and human rights initiatives such as the Global Compact and the OECD Guidelines, internationally agreed labour rights of the ILO and the Sullivan Principles which were drawn up during apartheid in South Africa. Comments were sought from the Dalit communities, the private sector, unions and NGO’s in order to develop a set of Principles that would not ask of companies more than they could offer, but which would be true to the grim reality of the caste system. 

 

They are named after Dr Ambedkar the Dalit leader who despite being from a very poor background, obtained doctorates in law and economics from Columbia University in the United States and the London School of Economics (LSE). It is for this reason that the LSE graciously accepted to host the seminar.  

 

We hope the launching of the Ambedkar Principles will pave the way for more companies to use them as a guideline in formulating affirmative actions that will address the challenging issue of caste discrimination in a vigorous and effective manner. We also hope that this report will become an important reference for those working against caste discrimination in the private sector.

 


 

 

Rodney Bickerstaffe - Former General Secretary of UNISON and Trustee of Dalit Solidarity Network UK, chairing the seminar as Baroness Royall - DFID representative in the Lords, presents the governments initiatives regarding caste discrimination

 

 

 

THE AMBEDKAR PRINCIPLES AND THEIR DEVELOPMENT

Gerard Oonk, India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN)

 

 

As caste discrimination in South Asia is permeating all aspects of life, foreign investors often play a role in reinforcing caste discrimination, even if not consciously. Their employment policies might be biased against Dalits or might have a negative impact on livelihoods of Dalits.

 

 

The Principles

 

It was with this in mind that in 2003, DSN-UK began to discuss the idea of providing the private sector with a system by which they could address caste discrimination. They took advice from NGO's, private sector representatives and trades unions and developed the set of Principles which were named after Dr Ambedkar.

 

In September 2004 the draft Principles were discussed at a seminar with representatives of unions, employers and investors in London. This first version of the Ambedkar Principles dealt with employment related issues, aimed at an active non-discrimination policy and affirmative action to tackle the big gap between Dalits and non-Dalit Indians.

 

Based on the Ambedkar Principles, the Dalit Solidarity Networks in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands initiated the first discussions with companies operating in South Asia, to persuade them to seriously examine their own relation to the caste issue. The process was to include making an assessment of their corporate impact on Dalits as well as formulating a policy and implementing practices that would be beneficial rather than detrimental to them.

 

During the International Consultation on Caste-Based Discrimination in Kathmandu from November 29-1 December 2004, the role of the private sector and the Ambedkar Principles were discussed by a broad range of stakeholders, including caste affected groups, international agencies like the ILO, academics and NGOs. Based on this input, an amended version was then sent around for comments to a range of organizations. Between 18 and 19 October 2005 the new draft was discussed again at an international meeting of IDSN member organizations in the Hague, Netherlands.

 

Important new input came from Professor Sukhadeo Thorat from the Indian Institute of Dalit studies (IIDS) and the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), India. They argued that the impact of companies on Dalits was not limited to employment practices, but also related to land, capital, consumer goods and product markets as well as supply contracts. The misappropriation and exploitation of land and local resources to the detriment of socially excluded local communities was highlighted as something that companies should not in any way be involved in. Measures like Dalit-inclusive charitable support to community programmes and support for the teaching of English to Dalits were also recommended. It was decided in the Hague to introduce additional principles into the Ambedkar Principles to address economic and social exclusion. 

 

By the end of 2005 when the last comments were in, the ‘The Ambedkar Principles:  Employment and Additional Principles on Economic and Social Exclusion Formulated to Assist All Foreign Investors in South Asia to address caste discrimination’  were finalised and launched formally at a seminar organised by the DSN-UK in London on July 20, 2006. The Dutch government now recommends Dutch companies operative in India to sign up to the Ambedkar Principles as an integral part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

 

The Ambedkar Principles were used as an important basis for the Dalit Discrimination Check (DDC), a self-assessment tool for companies, regarding their impact on Dalits. The DDC was developed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the International Dalit Solidarity Network.

 

While the Ambedkar Principles are voluntary, there is at the moment a big debate in India about the need for compulsory reservation of jobs in the private sector. Most corporate houses and organizations like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) are against mandatory quotas, but Dalit organizations are strongly in favour. The government is still considering its options.

 

However everybody agrees that Dalits should be getting more opportunities in the labour market of the ‘organized sector’ of the economy. The Ambedkar Principles are meant to achieve this and more. Forced by law or not, foreign companies operating in India – if they want to be considered as socially responsible - cannot afford to behave in a way that is detrimental to Dalits and other economically and socially excluded or exploited groups. They cannot continue to deny them the opportunities that many other people in India increasingly have. 

 

U.K.2.bmp 

 

 

From Left: Richard Stockdale - CEO Lloyds India, C Gautam - General Secretary of Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations (FABO), Singh Bahal - Backward and Minorities Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF), Marc Willers - Barrister, Rob Marris MP - Member of Parliamentary Trade and Industry Select Committee and Trustee of DSN-UK

 

  

THE CONTEXT FOR THE SEMINAR

Tara Brace-John, Private Sector Project Officer, DSN-UK

 

Background

 

The Indian State has been constitutionally empowered[6] to “promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes[7] and the Scheduled Tribes[8], and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation”. The State has used a two-fold strategy to achieve this aim:

 

1.      By providing legal and constitutional safeguards against discrimination[9]

  1. Reservation policy[10] in the State and State-supported sectors

 

There has been a significant increase in the number of Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) government employees since the inception of the reservation policy but this is for a population of over 250 million Dalits (167 million SC and 86 million ST in 2001) who form a quarter of India’s over one billion population.

 

 

Government employment under reservation

Year

SC

ST

Others

1956

212,754

22,549

1184748

2003

540,220

211,345

2517780

National Commission for SC and ST and Annual report of Department of Personnel, India

 

Percentage share in government employment

Year

SC

ST

Others

1956

14.98

1.59

83.43

2003

16.52

6.46

77.01

Thorat 2005, Working paper: “Persistent Poverty – Why SC and ST stay chronically poor”, Department for International Development (DFID), UK

 

Employment under reservation in public sector undertakings

Year

SC

ST

Others

1970

40640

12309

494680

2003

296388

138504

1198106

Thorat 2005, Working paper: “Persistent Poverty – Why SC and ST stay chronically poor”, Department for International Development (DFID), UK

 

Percentage share in public sector undertakings

Year

SC

ST

Others

1970

7.42

2.25

90.33

2003

18.15

8.48

73.37

Thorat 2005, Working paper: “Persistent Poverty – Why SC and ST stay chronically poor”, Department for International Development (DFID), UK

 

Percentage share of employees in public sector banks

Posts

1978

2000

SC

ST

Others

SC

ST

Others

Officers

2.04

0.34

97.62

12.51

4.22

83.27

Clerks

10.32

1.82

87.86

14.88

4.76

80.36

Sub staff

16.25

2.09

8167

24.47

6.25

69.28

 National Commission for SC and ST, India

 

Unfortunately the reservation policy does not extend to the private sector, which in relation to the State and State-supported sectors is a big player. According to a recent survey by the Indian Government, 76% of the workforce is engaged in the private sector and only 24% is employed in the State and State-supported sectors[11]. Set against this fact is the looming danger of the State and State-supported sectors shrinking while the private sector further expands.

 

Recognising the importance of the private sector job market, the Indian Government has set up a ‘Group of Ministers’ in 2005 to develop an Affirmative Action Policy[12] for the private sector. Be it in India or the UK, affirmative action is unlikely to take place voluntarily and legislation will be needed to support such a policy. Public awareness and civil society action need to ensure implementation of any affirmative action policy in the private sector. Key civil society actors should also be involved in the monitoring of this policy implementation. All these measures will have to happen both in India and in the companies’ countries of origin.

 

Foreign investment is high and on the increase in India as it is perceived to be a stable country with a high growth rate. Economically, India is a ’happening’ country.  But it is important to point out that the country is socially so backward that every institution, modern and old, is entrenched in the caste system. India’s rigid examination system, systematic limitation of entry, various forms of discrimination linked to caste and limited educational opportunities, has limited the field of recruitment[13]. Even a company or institution which claims to be ‘non discriminatory’, inadvertently gets co-opted into the morass of caste and class that still forms the bulwark of Modern India.

 

DSN-UK’s Advocacy

 

DSN-UK believes that it is crucial to continue highlighting this danger internationally. We hope that in the future, institutions will become culturally sensitive to the ramifications of caste in peoples lives and adapt their policies to suit a plan of affirmative action that can successfully and efficiently deal with the issue of caste discrimination. In view of this, we organised a seminar for the purpose of:

 

a)      Further raising the issue of caste discrimination among companies, banks, government departments, unions, NGO’s and academic institutions and

b)      To launch and promote the Ambedkar Principles for employment, economic and social rights

 

Expected Outcomes of the Seminar

 

  1. Increased awareness of caste discrimination among companies, banks, government departments, unions, NGO’s and academic institutions
  2. The Ambedkar Principle will begin to be used by companies, banks, government departments, unions, NGO’s and academic institutions to develop affirmative action policies that will address the issue of caste discrimination
  3. The Ambedkar Principles might contribute to future supportive legislation in the UK and in other countries

 

Seminar Proceedings

 

Participants at the seminar were from the business and NGO sectors, government, unions, community representatives, academics, and research scholars. All the presentations and discussions were lively and from a wide spectrum of thought and experience. The experience of viewing the film I am Dalit, How are you? which was produced by the International Dalit Solidarity Network, helped participants to understand the harsh realities of being a Dalit in India today.

 

The business perspective was presented by Richard Stockdale, CEO Lloyds TSB India, and stressed on the importance of education for Dalits as a way out of poverty and discrimination. He also proposed emotional intelligence as a part of the curriculum and championed the development of new educational plans along these lines.

 

The Government view which was presented by Baroness Royall, DFID spokesperson in the House of Lords, further reiterated the importance of education.  She emphasised the UK Government’s commitment to this cause and drew our attention to the large amount of funds that the UK government had directed towards the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)[14] educational plan in India which is a bid by both governments to increase educational opportunities for Dalit children and to counter the economic reasons for the high drop-out rate among them.

 

In his presentation, Professor John Harriss, London School of Economics, felt that it was crucial to go beyond “just education”. He was basing this opinion on a very personal and first-hand experience of Dalit rural realities that spanned over 20 years. His example of a Dalit village which had a school earlier than another caste village, but still had very few educated Dalits, was a stark reminder to all of us that caste discrimination needs to be combated at various levels. Professor Harriss was of the strong opinion that educational interventions need to be supported by investment in non-agricultural rural activities which will bolster and simultaneously strengthen the local economy, thereby encouraging and enabling parents to send children to school instead of out to work. 

 

David Haslam, Chair of Trustees DSN-UK, Walter Hahn from the German Dalit Solidarity Platform and Rob Marris MP, Wolverhampton South West and Trustee of DSN-UK all spoke of the importance of networking and the need for lobbying on Dalit issues in Europe and in the UK. They gave us an update of the achievements and developments in Parliament and the Solidarity Networks and the progress they had made in awareness raising on caste discrimination. David also briefly spoke about future plans and suggested numerous venues of cooperation between the private sector and NGOs.

 

Marie Busck, Danish Institute for Human Rights introduced the group to the Dalit Discrimination Check (DDC) that has been developed by her organisation and urged the companies which were represented to participate in testing it. The companies also had an opportunity to interact with her after the seminar in a specially organised meeting. Here they were able to further clarify their thoughts about the DDC and develop a better understanding of the required procedures.

 

Conclusion

 

The seminar is just a small step forward in the struggle against caste discrimination. Governments, companies, unions and institutions are becoming aware of the enormity of the manifestations of the caste system and this in itself is already progress. However, there is still a very long way to go in terms of policy.

 

U.K.3.bmp 

 

 

The Ambedkar statue today is a symbol of Dalit political mobilization.  It is very often one of the first outward symbols that will appear in a Dalit village which believes itself to be a political entity. It remains a symbol of Dalit Power. It is no wonder that it is also the first target in inter-caste discord and is very often desecrated with human excreta, cow dung or even a garland of old slippers! Therefore the necessity for Ambedkar to be under lock and key, almost 60 years after Indian independence! (Photo: James Smith)

 

 

 

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RESPONSIBILITY OF COMPANIES

Marie Busck, Danish Institute for Human Rights

 

Few companies today question their responsibilities regarding the environment or health and safety at the workplace. Human rights on the other hand, have traditionally been seen as a political issue with governments as the greatest potential violators of rights, but also as the entities with the responsibility to protect and promote the same rights. For that reason, human rights have, until recently, been downplayed in the debate on corporate social responsibility (CSR).

 

This perspective change forever with a number of high-profile cases during the 1990s, in which companies suddenly became embroiled in complex human rights issues. Oil companies, for example, have been accused of complicity in human rights violations in Africa and Latin America, and companies in the clothing industry which have outsourced their production to Asia, have been criticised for the poor working conditions of their suppliers. Companies responded to activists’ pressure and the media coverage and started to include a reference to human rights in their codes of conduct or general business principles. However, while there may be a dawning recognition of the importance of human rights, companies are still confused about what their responsibilities actually are, and how they should go about implementing a systematic policy in this area.

 

 

The Human Rights and Business Project (HR&B Project)

 

The HR&B Project was established in 1999 as cooperation between the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), the Danish Confederation of Industries (DI)[15] and the Danish Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries (IFU)[16], to address the challenge of making human rights operational in a company context. The project represents a rather unique example of the business and human rights communities working together.  The main research is carried out by DIHR, while DI and IFU offer the business perspective to the research.

 

All three founding organisations meet once every 3 months to discuss project activities, examine ongoing activities and to plan for the future. This coalition helps DIHR secure regular updated information from the companies even on a daily basis and ensures that the work of the HR&B Project remains dynamic and relevant to the needs of business. Lately the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions[17] and Danish International Development Assistance (Danida) have also joined the Board.

 

The HR&B Project strives to combine the expertise of the human rights research community with the experience of business in order to develop concrete achievable human rights standards for companies, and to help companies live up to those standards in practice through training and advisory services.  One of the main activities of the HR&B Project is the development of practical and operational tools for the implementation of human rights in a business context. This includes country risk assessments, decision maps, issue papers, and the Human Rights Compliance Assessment (HRCA).

 

Human Rights Compliance Assessment (HRCA)

 

The HRCA is the key tool produced by the HR&B Project and has been developed over a period of 6 years, involving more than 100 human rights experts, NGOs and companies. It is a diagnostic tool designed to help companies detect potential human rights violations caused by the effect of their operations on employees, local residents and other stakeholders. The HRCA is intended to help companies systematically address human rights and avoid violations.

 

The entire tool runs a database containing more than 350 questions and 1400 corresponding indicators, developed from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1966 Dual Covenants, and over 80 other major human rights treaties and conventions. The HRCA is designed as an interactive computer programme that allows the company to select the relevant questions and tailor the HRCA to their needs.

 

The HRCA furthermore constitutes a database on which more specialised checks can be developed, focusing on a specific issue or country.  This specialisation will often take place through the development of a Country Risk Assessment (CRA) with the cooperation of NGOs that specialise in certain human rights issues.

 

 

The Dalit Discrimination Check (DDC)

 

In 2005 the HR&B Project conducted a country risk assessment on India. The objective of the India country risk assessment was to identify the main human rights risk areas from a corporate perspective. The risk assessment showed that caste-based discrimination constitutes a wide-ranging human rights problem, which affects the lives of over 250 million people in India and that companies are at great risk of violating the human rights of Dalits when operating in or sourcing from India. Even though the Indian government has introduced formal protections by law, caste discrimination remains endemic and is accompanied by strong patterns of impunity.

 

The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) commented on the India country risk assessment and subsequently DIHR and IDSN decided to engage in a partnership with the aim of developing a specialised version of the HRCA that specifically addresses the issue of caste discrimination. The purpose is to provide a practical caste discrimination tool that will help companies which operate in India or source from India to avoid engaging in discriminatory and abusive acts against Dalits, directly or indirectly. The specialised Dalit Discrimination Check (DDC) will be accompanied by a set of explanatory guidelines on how to confront caste discrimination and how to use the DDC. Finally, the process will include the organising of a workshop where the DDC will be formally launched.  

 

The DDC will be designed to serve as a support tool for companies that have signed up to the Ambedkar Principles or in other ways obliged themselves to conduct business in a responsible manner. The DDC will deal with Dalit discrimination in the company’s own practices as well as in the supply chain. It contains approximately 25 questions in the following categories:

 

  1. Employment Practices: deals with the rights of the individuals employed by the company or seeking employment within the company
  2. Operational Practices: deals with the rights of the individuals employed by the company or seeking employment within the company
  3. Utilities and Services: deals with the rights of individuals using essential goods and services which are provided by the company, such as educational, housing, and medical facilities
  4. Supply Chain: deals with supply chain issues

 

The draft DDC is now ready for testing. The consultation and testing process will be carried out in the autumn of 2006 and will involve a number of European companies which operate in India. The final DDC will be launched by the end of 2006.

 

Procedure for Participation

 

Companies that have accepted the invitation to participate in the consultation and testing process will be asked to register as users to the DDC and thereby will be provided with a password that gives them access to the programme. The tool comprises of the following:

 

1.      The Dalit Discrimination Check (DDC) This is the heart of the tool and it contains approximately 25 questions. Each question is supported by an explanatory paragraph specifying why it is an area that the company should pay attention to. A list of ‘suggested indicators’ is provided to help guide the user in determining whether or not the company is in compliance and how to answer the overall question. The section is divided into two parts; one that specifically focuses on the discrimination issue and one that more broadly focuses on supply chain management and deals with issues such as child, forced and bonded labour – all being areas that particularly affect Dalits.

 

2.      Briefing note on caste discrimination This section provides an introduction to the DDC and the complexities embedded in caste discrimination. It also addresses the reasons and importance for companies operating in India to tackle caste discrimination.  

          

3.      User’s Guide This section provides a practical instruction on how to use the computerized version of the DDC.

 

4.      Suggestions for promotional activities This section does not directly form a part of the DDC. It has suggestions for how the company can promote and support the human rights of Dalits within their sphere of influence.

 

When testing the DDC, companies are asked to make a general review of the information provided in the sections above, focusing in particular on the following:

 

ˇ      Are the questions and indicators in the Dalit Discrimination Check clear, concise and comprehensible?

ˇ      Do you find the questions and indicators reasonable and relevant?

ˇ      Where do you think the greatest challenges are for following the standards in the DDC?

ˇ      Are there any issues that need to be covered more substantially?

ˇ      Is the briefing note on caste discrimination clear, concise and comprehensible?

ˇ      Does the briefing note provide you with a good understanding of the complexities involving caste discrimination and how a company should approach the issue?

ˇ      Does the user’s guide provide you with adequate instruction on how to use the DDC? 

 

While running the DDC in the computerized version, companies are also asked to consider the functionality and the features of the computer programme such as:

 

ˇ      Do you find the structure and features of the computer programme clear and useful?

ˇ      Should additional functionalities/features be added?

 

Our aim is to develop a practical, effective and user-friendly tool for companies, and any input and suggestions for improvement will be highly appreciated.

 

Future plans

 

Subsequent to the consultation and testing process, a meeting will be scheduled where the participants will meet with a representative from the Human Rights & Business Project and the International Dalit Solidarity Network or a relevant national Dalit Solidarity Network. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the testing process and the feedback from the company.

 

When we have met with all companies and received all the feedback from the company testing and consultation, the input will be incorporated into the DDC and it will then be finalised. The DDC will be launched at a workshop by the end of 2006. Companies that have participated in the consultation and testing process are invited to participate in the workshop and present their experiences from using the DDC.

 

Upon completion the DDC will be freely available for companies and others to use. Further information about the DDC and HR&B Project can be found at: http://www.humanrightsbusiness.org

 

 

 

 

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From right: Walter Hahn - Dalit Solidarity in Germany, Professor John Harriss - London School of Economics, Savio Mahimaidass - National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights and Marie Busck - Danish Institute for Human Rights

 

 

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN GERMAN BUSINESS ENTERPRISES IN INDIA

 

Walter Hahn, Dalit Solidarity in Germany (DSiD)

 

Introduction

India is now experiencing an economic boom and for Dalits to benefit, the existing public sector quota-system should be extended to the private sector, thus securing at least some of the jobs, which are now at risk. By doing so, Trans National Corporations (TNCs) and medium & small companies will send out a message that they too believe in equality and equal opportunities for all. 

A reservation policy for employment as affirmative action in the private sector could become an important instrument to enable the participation of Dalits in the Indian economy and thereby help them integrate into society. Private companies should have social responsibility and help Dalits to overcome both their poverty and the stigma of not being full members of society.

It is insufficient to just set up and fulfil quotas based on the percentage of Dalits in the general population. It becomes necessary to initiate additional measures to integrate Dalits and improve their chances to compete in the private sector, e.g. to train and promote them to higher positions so they can fulfil their roles with full competency and efficiency.

 

Advocacy with German companies operating in India

In view of this Dalit Solidarity in Germany (DSiD) wrote to 33 large and medium sized German, Austrian and Swiss (German speaking) companies in December 2004. All these companies had already signed the Global Compact and have growing investments in India (subsidiaries, branches, joint ventures).

The letter described the problem of caste-based discrimination of Dalits in Indian society and how present economic trends threaten any role that they might play in the private sector.  DSiD asked the business enterprises their views and enquired if they would be prepared to voluntarily adopt reservation in their employment policies. The letter also asked for suggestions and ideas for alternative affirmative actions that would tackle the issue of caste discrimination e.g. scholarship programmes for children of staff, support of schools, establishing nurseries within the company etc.

The purpose of this inquiry was to get a sense of what companies think about caste discrimination, their willingness to adopt affirmative action, and any ideas they might have for increasing the number of Dalit employees.

 

General responses to the letter:

 

ˇ        Very few companies responded immediately but after 4 reminders, 32 of the 33 had responded, showing that most companies tried to avoid the issue for as long as possible.

 

ˇ        The responses in all cases were from senior management, e.g. Personnel manager or CEO.

 

ˇ        None of the companies could provide disaggregated data on the caste composition of their employees. They claimed that caste was not an issue in recruitment. They also said that caste was not recorded during any stage of the recruitment process.

 

 

 

The responses of the companies can be divided into four categories:

 

Rejection

 

Ř      5 companies rejected the suggestion of affirmative action for reasons of cost, or/and lack of interest. Unaxis, a Swiss company, indicated that they already support some downtrodden groups and marginalized schools. However the company is presently financially unstable and has had to cut costs.

Ř      All five can be characterised as middle or smaller business enterprises (Hako, Faber-Castell, Lappgroup, Suessen and Unaxis).

 

Open attitude but holding Indian partners responsible

 

Ř      16 companies indicated agreement with the idea of affirmative action in principle. Amongst them were Allianz, Bosch, DaimlerChrysler, Deutsche Bank, Lufthansa, Henkel, Novartis and some smaller companies.

Ř      Most explained that they do not have the competence or authority regarding the employment policies of their partners in India. It is the Indian company that is responsible for the recruitment of employees.

Ř      Another additional reason given for non-interference in employment policies is that Indian partners are more familiar with local and cultural conditions. They felt this task should be handled by their Indian colleagues.

Ř      Five companies (Allianz, Bosch, DaimlerChrysler, Henkel and Otto) stated they had an anti-discriminatory policy and that they do not discriminate by nationality, race, sex or religion and therefore caste.  This is their worldwide policy. They maintain recruitment only on the basis of qualification and performance. They were hesitant about “positive discrimination”. DSiD is still pursuing the dialogue with these companies. 

Ř      7 companies (Allianz, Deutsche Bank, DaimlerChrysler, Bosch, Henkel, Klüber, and Würth) gave DSiD the contact details of their Indian colleagues.  The Coordinator of DSiD visited 4 of them at the beginning of 2006. He met with the CEO and/or Chief personnel officer of Bajaj Allianz, Daimler Chrysler, Bosch and Klüber. Below is the outcome of the discussions.

 

o       They remained sceptical about reservation in employment from their own experience, though they expressed sympathy and concern for the situation of the Dalits and recognised the need to help them.

 

o       They wanted to support schools or vocational training institutions and wanted DSiD to be involved in these efforts. 

 

o       The idea of special ‘coaching’ and promotion schemes to enable more Dalits to be employed was rejected on the basis that trade unions will not allow such a form of “positive discrimination”.

 

o       The companies were open to the suggestion that a small study on the caste composition of the staff should be carried out. DSiD is organising this. Discussions will resume based on its findings.

 

 

 

 

Endorsement

 

Ř      Klüber (specialist in high-performance lubricants – a small company with a staff of around 200 persons) explained that they have had a policy of reservation in employment for some time. 

Ř      TÜV Rheinland (around 50 staff) is open to the idea and would like to implement a reservation policy. 

 

Adhering to legal regulations

 

Ř      7 companies indicated that they don’t want to endorse a policy of reservation in employment at present, as there is a heated debate going on in India. They support the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and if reservation becomes a legal requirement, they will willingly adopt it. 

 

 

FUTURE PLANS

 

ˇ        We are now sending the Ambedkar Principles to many more companies in an effort to initiate a dialogue with a wider section of private sector enterprises. 

 

ˇ        We are also trying to get 2 or 3 of the more willing companies to undergo the Dalit Discrimination Check.

 

 

U.K.5.bmp

 

 

Multi-storey buildings tower over shanty slums in India’s capital city Delhi (Photo: Nidhi Sadana)

 

A BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE

THOUGHTS FROM A WESTERN CEO, RAISED IN INDIA

 

Richard Stockdale, CEO Lloyds TSB , India

 

This seminar seeks to improve the conditions of the outcastes and ethnic groups within India, collectively called as Dalits. In that respect the aims of the seminar are in particular to influence private sector investors and employers in India to adopt policies which give Dalits more opportunities to raise themselves and enhance their future prospects.

 

Caste Discrimination – its nature and its challenge

 

India is a major sovereign and nuclear power, with the largest active democracy in the world, populated by many millions of educated and astute citizens. The dichotomy is however that whilst India’s main institutions are well developed, there are still large areas of underdeveloped backwaters, particularly within rural communities, where notable progress has not been felt and where caste discrimination is particularly high.

 

Caste discrimination is certainly not an issue lost on the Indian nation itself, with clauses included in the Indian constitution regarding the ‘abolition of untouchability’. Whilst the overall issue of educational and private sector reservations in India is a hot and divisive topic, with sides well defined and for the most part vociferous, this recognition of caste injustice is well repeated across India and indeed in July 2006, in connection with a ruling on inter-caste marriages, a Justice of the Supreme Court of India, stated “inter-caste marriages were in fact in the national interest as they could be a potent weapon to destroy the caste system, which is a curse of the nation.”

 

Whilst there are few in India in positions of real authority who would wish to actively defend the institution of the caste system, the system exists, entrenched in whole segments of Indian society, particularly in rural areas, where it has been embedded since the advent of Hindu mythology and religion.

 

At its mythological and religious inception the caste system was meant to be a community team effort, with different castes complimenting each others efforts, rather than a discriminatory DDC, which sadly, and perhaps not surprisingly given human psychology,  it has subsequently developed into.

 

A particularly sobering fact is that the Dalit segment of Indian society equals some 25% of the population. Given the Indian population represents approximately 20% of world population, then the Dalit population of India equals 5% of the total population of the planet.  Hence it is important to always have a long term perspective. 

 

Recognition of the ills that the caste system produces has only existed for a tiny fraction of the period that the caste system itself has existed, and the technological progress of India over the past few decades has made this focus ever more imperative. This major time mismatch, combined with the fact that India is a federation of many essentially conservative cultures, serves to impress upon us the necessary delicacy of touch and action that must be applied in any strategies to dissolve the impact of the caste system, without risking the shredding of Indian societal values and upsetting the sensitive balance of Indian politics.

 

The complexity of the task is further exemplified by the fact that within any grouping as huge in number as the Dalit community, there has inevitably developed cases of active discrimination within Dalit sub-groups, quite apart from the scattered cases of Dalit discriminations against non-Dalits. However isolated these cases are, they need to be recognised. This realism should not stall or sour efforts to tackle Dalit issues, but it should compel us to ensure that we understand the full spectrum of the issues and not be surprised by any eventuality.

 

Suggestions

 

Generally, if Dalit Solidarity Network UK (DSN-UK), its friends and its supporters are to make the necessary headway in achieving their goals, then in my view they must incorporate but also look well beyond the central stream approach of the Ambedkar Principles and into a range of multi-strategic solutions, integrated and executed well over a two or three generation timescale.

 

We should not allow ourselves to almost exclusively focus in any one area of mitigating action. But rather we must develop programmes that reach holistically into the heart of the Dalit community and engage Dalit and society issues, separately and in combination, across their broad spectrum.

 

A holistic strategy around creation of sustainable self-generating opportunity has to be the key. The need is to be able to place in the hands of the Dalit community this key which they then use to develop themselves, to unlock their potential and thus to enhance their position on an ongoing basis.

 

Real lasting change must be driven by more than top-down Supreme Court judgements. It must emanate from a cross societal acknowledgement of the issue and the need for correction, vibrantly driving change both from top-down and bottom-up, until there is a confluence of both.

 

Education:

                  To create this twin dynamism, the imperative is to focus on the empowerment of Dalits through quality education. The essence of the Ambedkar Principles acknowledges this, but can a relative handful of educational institute and private sector reservations alter the fundamental balance of opportunity for 5% of the planet’s population?

 

The right of access for all Indian citizens to educational institutions maintained by the State is enshrined within the Indian constitution. However, given the levels of illiteracy in certain areas of India almost 60 years into independence, there has to be a question over the ability of families in deprived areas to commit the resource of their children to an educational process which is often not of a type which they discern will add value for them in their daily lives.

 

That issue has to be addressed through ever more robust education, delivered in a consistently reliable manner, with specific focus on the teaching of English reading and writing skills. English, given the nature of its international gateway, is a sound conduit to commercial advantage in India. Plus, computer skills and literacy software programmes, transmitted in a mix of English and regional languages and dialect.

 

There are a range of Indian-owned companies doing excellent work in the child and adult literacy field, some using traditional teaching routes and some focusing on bespoke software tools. It is possible that some of these companies may be willing to act as ‘Indian Champions’ and as action conduits for the Dalit Movement, as it expands its efforts at school level.

 

To support these Indian Champions, it could be appropriate for the International Dalit Solidarity Network to look at promoting the twinning of schools in the base countries from which Dalit Solidarity Networks operate, with Indian State schools in Dalit or deprived areas, to seek to generate partnership, support, funding and inspiration to maintain the issues of Dalit and deprived sector education among public priorities.

 

Emotional Intelligence:

                                     Additionally, given that Dalit minds and IQ represent 25% of India’s total IQ resource and that we know that IQ is set at birth and is unchangeable, there has to be a case for a focus in Dalit and deprived area State schools on the systematic and committed teaching of a powerful personal development DDC, known as Emotional Intelligence (EI).

 

EI unlike IQ can be entirely taught and positively and actively develops the individual personality for self good and the good of society. This tool, only really developed within the past 15 years, is already well entrenched with many  Trans National Corporations’ human resource development programmes and is starting to be recognised in India, where two seminars have already been held on the subject in Bangalore and Mumbai during June 2006 and a further seminar is to take place in Delhi in September 2006. 

 

EI teaches how to understand the agenda of others, engage with people, assign priorities and seek routes to achievement. It can enthuse a person to understand how to succeed and encourage the desire to do so. To no longer unquestionably accept the vagaries of existence, but to understand how to motivate and to strive competitively to better oneself.

 

The additional benefit is that EI has as a central core, the appreciation and inclusion of the agendas of others. This in itself is a powerful tool in the lowering of corrupt tendencies and discrimination. EI is entirely teachable and in illustrative terms, if the IQ is the car engine, the body is the person and wheels are the progress through life, EI would represent the drive shaft, optimising the transition of energy into progress.

 

So one suggestion I would make is that DSN-UK should be encouraged to reinforce its Ambedkar Principles with a concentrated effort to engage Federal and State Governments to implement a structure of teaching EI to Dalit and deprived children across junior schools. This could take place first at the age of 7 when children are increasingly cognisant, but still absorbing ideas and influences fast, again at 10 when their life principles are solidifying and again at 14, as most leave school and make life choices, however limited these may be at present.

 

Given the Dalit and deprived focus of the exercise, these schools will be almost exclusively State schools and within the remit of State Governments, who generally exercise tight control of their syllabi. These Authorities will need to buy into the concept. For this, realistically, DSN-UK would require the efforts of senior and respected Champions within India. Also, most international companies operating in India and most top-flight Indian companies have vibrant corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes and a willingness to assist with funds, time and organisation.

 

Better funding will produce training resources, for teachers themselves to be soundly taught the principles of EI, in order for them to pass on this knowledge to their students and also allow for proper checks & balances and inspections to ensure governance around the EI teaching programme.

 

Meritocracy:

                      We must avoid the temptation to focus on a quick-fix solution or to stifle the meritocraticly driven efforts of corporate India, as it seeks to compete in a global market. It would be counter productive for the overall Indian proposition and would be likely to be rejected by most mainstream international Indian business houses. MNCs must be good corporate citizens, but it is hardly realistic to expect them as commercial concerns answerable to shareholders, to disregard meritocratic standards.

 

Instead the Dalit community should expect to receive the kind of assistance that will enable it to grow into a self-sustaining and widely participating bloc of wealth and value creation, within the greater Indian society.

 

There is already an economic and demographic trend in India where large numbers are progressively being elevated into a more affluent grouping. The question is how many of these are Dalits; the realistic answer is probably as yet, few.

 

I am no economist, but intuitively and in addition morally, I know that this should concern us. Again admitting my non-economic background it seems to me that in a cyclical manner, if this phenomenon continues it will eventually include the Dalit bloc. But when and how many?

 

Raising Morale - Sport:

                                            Sport is one possible way of achieving the raising of morale and demonstrating oneness within India. The Dalit community, by and large, is physically tough, used to rigorous physical labour as is necessary in, say the world of athletics. A sobering thought is that, with a population of 25% of the planet’s humanity, in the last Olympics India achieved only one silver medal.

 

  • Is this adequate focus on the use of available human resources?
  • Did anyone focus on training Dalit athletes, or has this been thought a natural preserve of the higher castes?
  • It is worth reflecting on the experiences of Kenya and the manner in which some in the farming community have raised Kenya’s international prestige, with stunning middle and long-distance running abilities

 

Conclusion

 

My wish is not to prescriptively focus on any short comings in the Ambedkar Principles, which would be unworthy, self-defeatingly negative and entirely inappropriate, or to focus on just one or two big ideas, but rather to present my view that empowerment and advantage of Dalits is best achieved by a medium to long-term holistic approach, engaging all available resources, internationally and within India.

 

DSN-UK has a real role to play in assisting India to engage in a programme which India, from its constitutional base and demonstrated by its recent Supreme Court judgement is already fully aware that it has to execute,.

 

As I see it, the greatest gift that DSN-UK can give to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes of India is to act as a lightning rod for change. But this will require DSN-UK to engage in a complex programme requiring time, organisation, government co-operation, tenacity, inspiration, patience, forbearance and finding.

 

But if there is no appetite for such an endeavour, why are we here at all? I believe that Dalit Solidarity Network UK given their determination to date, is fully up for such a challenge and I wish them well as the task is faced.

 

 

A PARLIAMENTARY PERSPECTIVE

WORK ON CASTE DISCRIMINATION IN THE UK HOUSE OF COMMONS 2005/6

Rob Marris MP, Wolverhampton South West, Member of Parliamentary Trade and Industry Select Committee and Trustee of DSN-UK

 

Jeremy Corbyn, the energetic MP for Islington North, London, and now the Chair of DSN-UK, despite the many other demands on his time, has been doing a large amount of work on the issue of casteism. As a new Trustee of DSN-UK, I have tried to assist.

 

We continue to be inspired both by the courageous resistance of Dalits themselves and by the hard work done in the UK and other countries to try to abolish this unacceptable oppression.

 

Both of us are the only two UK Members of Parliament who consistently devote time to the issue – so far.  Nevertheless, we remain optimistic that we shall attract a few more MPs, as word gets out.

 

Early Day Motions are a way for backbench MPs to show the government their feelings on issues of importance.  On 20 July 2005, Jeremy tabled EDM 648, which stated:

 

“That this House welcomes the three-year study on caste discrimination agreed by the UN Human Rights Commission in April 2005; notes the concerns expressed in recent International Development Committee and Department for International Development (DFID) Reports about the continuing threats and violence against Dalits resisting caste discrimination; urges the Foreign Office and DFID actively to support the UN study, including financially if necessary, and to work vigorously in the EU and beyond to end discrimination by work and descent; and further urges the Department of Trade and Industry to encourage all UK companies operating in India to adopt the Ambedkar Employment Principles aimed at overcoming such discrimination in India and elsewhere.”

 

We are grateful to those MPs who have signed – but there are only 27, which show just how far we have to go to explain, and to build support.

 

Then, on 22 November 2006, Jeremy led a 90 minute debate in Parliament, on Caste Discrimination Overseas:  the UK Government’s Policy.  Several MPs participated in this debate, to which the then Foreign Office Minister Douglas Alexander responded with a number of commitments.

I am on the Parliamentary Select Committee responsible for scrutinising the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI).  On 22 June 2006 we published our report on Trade and Investment Opportunities with India.  Part of our research for that report involved a visit to India.  When there, I questioned business leaders about casteism.  Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, they were tight-lipped. However, the questions did have two benefits:  firstly, asking the questions shows that outsiders are watching what is going on in that vast country.  Secondly, the other UK MPs on the Select Committee had their eyes opened to the scale of the problem.

I was delighted that the Committee agreed to include the following in our report:

“97. A particular difficulty of the market in India is the issue of caste. This is an age-old system built on discrimination based on work or descent. It persists widely in India today. Historically, there have been four main castes in India, plus the Harijans (formerly known as 'untouchables'). Pursuant to the Constitution of India, they are formally referred to as 'Scheduled Castes'. They are about 17 per cent of the population of India. In addition, there are 'Adivasis': that is, individuals who are ethnically distinct, as indigenous peoples. They are formally referred to as 'Scheduled Tribes'. They are about eight per cent of the population of India. Together, these two groups are often today called both ‘SCs and STs', or 'Dalits' (literally, the oppressed). Despite legislation, and provisions in the constitution of India, outlawing caste discrimination, both groups still face tremendous discrimination”.

“98. We recommend that UK companies operating in India should be careful not to break the letter or spirit of these laws and preferably, they should take note of the 'Ambedkar Principles', launched by the International Dalit Solidarity Network, and look carefully at their recruitment and employment policies in India

The UK government must, by tradition, reply to this report – including the recommendations – within 3 months.  I await their reply with great interest.

On 27 June 2006, when the issue of events in Nepal came up in the Commons, I put a Question to Foreign Office Minister Ian McCartney MP: 

“Rob Marris (Wolverhampton, South-West) (Lab):  One of the factors driving the demand for political change in Nepal is the widespread existence in the country of casteism — discrimination based on work or descent.  What recent representations has my right hon. Friend made to the government of Nepal on the abolition of that pernicious and unacceptable form of discrimination?

“Mr. Ian McCartney:  I have not been involved in any detailed discussion of that subject, but it is an issue of human rights and their abuse that has to be dealt with, not only in Nepal but in other countries.  It will probably form part of the work programme that we will agree over the next two meetings of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.  It is one of the matters about which serious reservations have been expressed.  I assure my hon. Friend that the matter is one that the Foreign Office will be involved, with the international community, in efforts to deal with it.”

Ian did not know I was going to ask this Question, and his reply demonstrated that he has a knowledge and sympathy for those suffering from casteism.  I congratulated him and aim to arrange a formal meeting with him soon.

 

ADDRESSING CASTE DISCRIMINATION IN AN INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT

 

Baroness Royall, DFID representative in the Lords

 

 

Caste Discrimination in India

 

Caste discrimination is not just experienced in South Asia; it affects communities across the world. But just taking some head line statistics from India alone, I have been particularly struck by the practical implications of identity based discrimination on people’s lives today. So-called ‘untouchable’ or Scheduled Castes, as they are classified by the Indian constitution, constitute 20% of the rural population, but 38% of the rural poor. They also constitute 14% of the urban population, but 37% of the urban poor.

 

Discrimination on the basis of caste identity constrains the human rights, livelihoods and life chances of millions of men, women and children. Dalit children are more likely to die before their fifth birthday; they are less likely to go to school, to benefit from clean water or to receive free school meals. Once they grow up, they earn less, and are less likely to get a decent job or to own land. 

 

These are not isolated incidents. They represent a systematic injustice and routine violation of the most basic human rights of millions of individuals. This is why I am particularly pleased to be participating in the seminar and to talk about the international implications of caste discrimination, and how each and everyone of us has an important role to play in addressing this issue.

 

This seminar marks an important follow up to the Adjournment Debate on caste in the House of Commons last December. My colleague Jeremy Corbyn MP, Chair of Dalit Solidarity Network UK, has been actively involved in activities to raise awareness about the experiences of Dalits for some time. We believe that the framework of international covenants and national legislation outlawing discrimination based on descent is an important step towards its elimination.

 

Government and the Private sector

 

The British government is committed to ensuring that businesses takes account of the social and environmental impacts of their activities worldwide, and follow the principles outlined in the international instruments on Human Rights.  We and the European Union are committed to ensuring that human rights are respected, and believe that the best ways to do this are to share our concerns with other governments, and to raise awareness of responsible business behaviour world wide. 

 

This is also sound in practice. The Department for International Development’s new publication ‘DFID and the Private Sector’, for instance points out that socially responsible practice have a direct and positive impact on a company’s productivity.

 

I am sure you are aware that the UK government endorses a range of international activities designed to encourage responsible business behaviour. As a sign of its commitment, we have had a Minister for corporate social responsibility for many years. In addition to promoting best practice in the UK, the Government is involved with a number of international initiatives pushing for responsible business practices. .

 

Through the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Government supports and promotes the OECD Guidelines for Multi National Enterprises. These are a baseline for corporate behaviour to help such companies design their own corporate codes of conduct.  Later this month, the Government will publish its response to a stakeholder consultation on enhancing our arrangements for upholding the Guidelines.

 

The Government, through the FCO, also strongly supports the UN Global Compact. Kofi Annan’s initiative is an agreement with business to uphold and promulgate a set of ten principles, including the promotion and observance of human rights, as well as environmental protection and anti-corruption.  Principle 6 is particularly relevant here, as the Ambedkar Principles outline, in that it requires supporting companies to eliminate discrimination in employment.

 

Government to Government Initiatives

 

Through our work with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), we are encouraging India to comply with those ILO Core Conventions it has already ratified, including on forced labour and discrimination. 

 

In addition to our support for international conventions, we encourage open debate internationally about discrimination. During the UK EU Presidency for instance, the Prime Minister led the EU/India Summit in Delhi last September, an EU-India Joint Action Plan was agreed which identifies key areas where the EU and India agree to work together. One area was human rights. The first meeting took place in December 2005. It will be for the Finnish Presidency to follow up this dialogue in 2006.    

 

But I am also aware that international commitments, and legislation outlawing caste, as experience in India has shown, while necessary, are not sufficient to eliminate discrimination. It is not easy to implement actions to counter it, as our experience in the UK of tackling race and gender based discrimination has shown.

 

Caste Discrimination in the UK

 

We have however learnt a great deal from that work, and many of the lessons may be relevant in a different context. In the UK for instance, we are now familiar with the concept of institutionalised racism. Our experience has taught us that even when there is political commitment; it is not easy for governments alone to tackle entrenched behaviours and forms of discrimination.

 

Action has to take place on a number of fronts. In the UK, legislation to outlaw discrimination, has been combined with strong legal safeguards, in the home, on the street, and in the workplace, awareness raising within society in general, and proactive policies and initiatives to level the playing field for disadvantaged groups at work and at play. The Dalit Solidarity Network UK’s recent report on the situation of Dalit communities in the UK has produced some important information which may need to be looked into further.   

 

DFID and Caste Discrimination in Nepal

 

Although we are less familiar with the idea of institutionalised caste discrimination, we do know quite a lot about what might work to reduce entrenched prejudices and to change behaviour.

 

My Right Honourable colleague, Gareth Thomas MP, in the Department for International Development has met representatives from the Dalit Solidarity Network UK on a number of occasions to discuss how DFID takes account of discrimination against Dalits in its programmes in Asia. They also address the issue in their policies and programmes.

 

The Department considers the challenges facing Dalits as just one of the many faces of social exclusion confronting poor people across many parts of Asia. The experiences of just one office, Nepal, will give you some interesting insights about how the British Government overseas is supporting efforts to tackle caste discrimination through a range of different approaches. You will see there are some similarities with the way in which we are tackling discrimination and institutionalised racism and sexism in the UK.

 

In Nepal, Dalits remain at the bottom of the caste hierarchy, and comprise about 13% of the population. Although a National Dalit Commission was formed in 2002, this had no legal basis. The present new Government in Nepal declared Nepal a country free of untouchability only a few weeks ago. This is a major step forward. 

 

DFID Nepal places emphasis on supporting government and civil society actions to reduce all forms of discrimination and exclusion. Exclusion on the basis of identity in Nepal has become an increasingly important political issue. Many now understand that it is at the root of the problems that have beset the country in recent years.

 

An increasing number of people in government, as well as among the general public, now realise that social exclusion can’t be solved merely be targeting welfare efforts to particular excluded groups. Additional action is required to enable government and other institutions to be aware of their discriminatory practices and change them. Some people in Nepal also now recognise that it is important to support disadvantaged groups to organise and mobilise to fight for their rights. As you will know, effective and confident advocacy requires new skills and knowledge. 

 

To this end, DFID Nepal has supported the ‘High Level Committee on Reservations’ in developing recommendations for affirmative action and reservations for women and Dalits in the civil service, political bodies and key sectors such as health and education.

 

It is also working closely with UNDP and other donors to support the design and implementation of the national poverty and analysis framework, which will disaggregate data on the basis of gender, caste and other forms of discrimination. This will enable the government, civil society and donors to assess progress against agreed targets to improve social inclusion.

 

Alongside this, the office supports the development and strengthening of national level excluded groups’ organisations to improve their voice and influence with government and public opinion. To this end, they have been supporting the ‘Dalit Empowerment and Inclusion Project’, which is implemented through the Dalit NGO Federation, and which aims to build the capacity of Dalit organisations to engage in political and public debate. The office part funded the International Dalit Solidarity Network Conference in Kathmandu in 2004.

 

As you can see, today’s seminar is just one part of a multi-layered, international effort to reduce and ultimately eliminate discrimination and exclusion on the basis of caste. I hope the discussions in the seminar are helpful in pointing the way forward in addressing this complex and important issue.

 

 

 

 

 

THE WAY FORWARD

 

David Haslam, Chair of Trustees, Dalit Solidarity Network UK

 

Neither Government policy nor legislation in India and the other countries of South Asia has seriously affected the deep-seated system of caste discrimination.  Those Dalits who challenge the system are vigorously and sometimes brutally put down.  The relevant legal, political, judicial and educational authorities in India seem neither to have the will nor authority to address the depths of the problem.

 

Outside bodies - governments, NGOs, companies and trade unions have a particular opportunity, with one foot inside and one foot outside the country, to raise searching questions, probe more deeply into social and economic structures and in their own practices make absolutely clear that they oppose caste discrimination. They have both a moral and practical responsibility to do this. All of them together would certainly 'punch above their weight' in producing a long-term effect in the sub-continent of South Asia.

 

The South African experience has shown us that discrimination can be destructive both morally and commercially. The commercial argument is two-fold. 

 

Ř      Firstly, if a quarter of a billion potential consumers are excluded from a decent education and employment opportunities, it results in substantial lost possibilities. 

Ř      Secondly, tension to the point of low-intensity conflict and political instability in many areas of India is clearly bad for economic growth.

 

When earlier this year the new DSN-UK Chair, Jeremy Corbyn MP, asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) whether they monitored the caste composition of their staff, the Minister, Dr Kim Howells, responded that they did not. But he went on to add:

 

“Our posts in India are equal opportunities employers and have a recruitment policy that is open to all, regardless of caste, ethnicity and religion”. 

 

That is a highly disingenuous answer.  Companies and INGOs have, however, told us the same thing.  It is absolutely crucial to take on board that one cannot engage in a non-discriminatory manner where there is systemic discrimination and offer 'equal opportunities', without taking positive action to level the playing field.

 

We believe the Ambedkar Principles offer the correct direction in this process.  We recognise they place demands on a company, but how could it be otherwise?  This is the responsibility of global business in a global economy.  Good morality - as was shown in the anti-apartheid campaign and is now being demonstrated in relation to climate change - is good business. 

 

 

Our first priority is for companies to endorse the Ambedkar Principles.

 

If it is not possible to do this immediately, companies can do the following:

 

  1. Carry out the Dalit Discrimination Check to make an evaluation of where they stand on Dalit issues
  2. Initiate a study on the caste composition of their staff
  3. Undertake awareness raising and training for company personnel

 

 

Other suggestions

 

  1. Support Dalit communities either through Dalit-led NGOs or their own Trusts or Foundations
  2. Involve Dalit representatives in the kind of monitoring suggested in the Ambedkar Principles
  3. Target Dalit communities for investment or charitable assistance 
  4. Set up Dalit-targeted recruiting schemes in universities
  5. Share best practice regarding tackling caste discrimination

 

If companies find it difficult to be caste-specific in such initiatives they must at least be 'caste-aware' recognising that, unless they are genuinely engaged in such projects, Dalits may again be marginalised.  Investors need, as DFID is doing in the 'Education for All' initiative, to disaggregate data along caste lines and monitor activities in a manner that it is apparent to all that caste discrimination is being tackled.

 

Specific suggestions for banks

 

Banks have a particular opportunity in relation to the legal requirement in India called 'Priority Sector Lending’ (PSL).  They could decide to focus PSL towards Dalit communities in numerous different ways. For example:

 

  1. Make loans available at very low interest rates to Dalit entrepreneurs
  2. Set  targets for Dalit loans, even agricultural ones
  3. Small Scale Industries (SSI) advances can specifically target Dalit entrepreneurs
  4. Create scholarships for Dalit students and contribute to strengthening schools which target Dalit children
  5. Set targets for ‘Advances to Weaker Sections’ (domestic banks have a target of 10% of Net Bank Credit) which again can also specifically target Dalit communities
  6. Help Dalit communities set up food and agro-processing units
  7. Micro credit activities through Dalit organisations or directly to Dalit communities
  8. Support State and Non-State organisations which work with Dalit communities

 

The challenge

 

Although this will be something of a learning process to start with, in the long run, companies and banks only stand to gain. Companies and banks need a clear action plan (as the Ambedkar Principles suggest) if they are to progress in the area of caste discrimination. DSN-UK and IDSN are willing to be involved in the awareness raising and training for staff that will form an important part of this process.

 

To have endorsed the EEC Code of Conduct, or the Sullivan Principles, in the context of 1970s South Africa - before everyone climbed on to the anti-apartheid bandwagon - would have been both a prophetic act and one which would have labelled an agency or company as a real leader.  Our question therefore is - and this goes for Government Departments and INGOs too, 'Who wants to be the real leaders in the context of South Asia?'  Who will be among the first to endorse the Ambedkar Principles?  The Principles are named after one of the most remarkable men of the last century, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, a man who, with his four doctorates and twenty volumes of writing - like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela - pointed the way towards creating true human community. Are we prepared to follow?

PARTICIPANTS LIST

BANKS
1.  Richard Stockdale Lloyds TSB
2.  Kirtan Patel Lloyds TSB
3.  Ivor Godfrey-Davies HSBC Holdings plc
4.  Chris Smith Standard Chartered Bank
5.  Bettina Khan Standard Chartered Bank 
6.  Philippa Birtwell Barclays Bank plc 
UNIONS
7.  Rodney Bickerstaffe Unison / War On Want
8.  Saba Mozakka AMICUS
9.  Joni McDougall GMB
ACADEMICS
10.  John Harriss London School of Economics
11.  Omar Khan Oxford University
12.  Nidhi Sadana Jawaharlal Nehru Institute, India
13.  Gyan Pandey Emory University, USA
NGO'S
14.  Aidan McQuade Anti-Slavery International
15.  David Griffiths Christian Solidarity Worldwide
16.  Kathryn Ramsay Minority Rights Group
17.  Paola Uccellan Amnesty International UK
18.  Rosemary Morris Friends of India
INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES
19.  Walter Hahn Dalit Solidarity Platform, Germany
20.  Marie Busck The Danish Institute for Human Rights
COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVES
21.  Singh Bahal Backward And Minority Communities Employees Federation
22.  Vinod Joseph Solicitor, Lawrence Graham LLP
23.  Ravi Kumar CasteWatchUK
24.  Sher Sunar Nawa Jagriti
25.  C Gautam Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations
26.  Savio Mahimaidass National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights
27.  Marc Willers Barrister
INVESTMENT AND RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS
28.  Neville White Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group
29.  Dawn McLaren Ethical Investment Research Service
PARLIAMENTARIANS
30.  Rob Marris MP Member of Trade and Industry Select Committee
31.  Baroness Royall Government spokesperson for DFID in the House of Lords
MEDIA
32.  Ann McFerran Independent Journalist
33.  Anjali Kwatra Christian Aid, Asia Journalist
DSN-UK
34.  David Haslam Chair of Trustees
35.  Gina Borbas Coordinator
36.  Tara Brace-John Private sector Project Officer
37.  Balram Sampla Member

 

 

 

 


PUBLICATIONS OF INTEREST

(1) Thorat, Sukhadeo, Aryama, and Negi Prashant, Reservation and Private sector – Quest for Equal Opportunity and Growth, Rawat Publications, New Delhi and Jaipur and Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi (2006) (2) Thorat, Sukhadeo, Caste System, Economic and Market Discrimination – Reflections on Theory, Concept, and Consequences, Ambedkar Journal of Social Development and Justice, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar National Institute of Social Sciences, Mhow, Volume 12 (2004) (3)
Madheswaran, S and Thorat, Sukhadeo, Labour Market Discrimination – A Critical Review of the Methods of Measuring Labour Market Discrimination, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies Working Paper (2006) (4) Thorat, Sukhadeo, Reservation Policy for the Private sector – Why and How?, Occasional Paper Series I, Department of Sociology, UGC Special Assistance Programme, University of Mumbai (2005)

    Thorat, Sukhadeo, Affirmative Action Policy in India – Nature, Dimensions and Emerging Issues,   Concept Paper, Overseas Development Institute, London (2005) (5) Thorat, Sukhadeo, On Reservation Policy for the Private sector, Economic and Political Weekly, (June 2004) (6) Thorat, Sukhadeo, The Varna of Efficiency, The Economic Times, New Delhi, (October 30th, 2004) (7) Thorat, Sukhadeo, Job Reservation in the Private sector, The Economic Times, New Delhi, (June 15th, 2005) (8) Thorat, Sukhadeo, Is Reservation in the Private sector Warranted? The Economic Times, New Delhi, (September 7th, 2005)  (9) Thorat, Sukhadeo & Umakant, Caste, Race and Discrimination: Discourses in International Context,  Rawat Publications (2004)  (10)  Negi, Prashant, ‘Affirmative Action – Diverging Perspectives’ www.esocialsciences.com (2006) (11)  Darity, William, Jr., Economics and Discrimination, Volume I, The International Library of Critical Writings in Economics, An Elgar Reference Collection, Aldershot, UK and Bookfield, US (1995) (12)  Darity, William, Jr., Economics and Discrimination, Volume II, The International Library of Critical Writings in Economics, An Elgar Reference Collection, Aldershot, UK and Bookfield, US (1995) (13)  The Nature and Forms of Affirmative Action in Selected Countries, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (2005-2006) (14) Weisskopf, Thomas E., Affirmative Action in the United States and India - A Comparative Perspective, Routledge, London and New York (2004) (15)  Mungekar, Professor Bhalchandra – India's Economic Reforms and the Dalits: an Ambedkarian Perspective, the 2002 Dr Ambedkar Memorial Lecture at Manchester University, Ambedkar Institute of Social Change, Mumbai (Second Edition 2004) (16) Dismantling Descent-Based Discrimination: Report on Dalits’ Access to Rights, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights www.dalits.org (2006)  (17)  No Escape: Report on Caste Discrimination in the UK, Dalit Solidarity Network UK (2006 (18) Grey, Mary – The Unheard Scream: The Struggles of Dalit Women in India, Centre for Dalit Studies, New Delhi (2004) (19) Haslam, David - Caste Out: The Liberation Struggle for the Dalits in India, CTBI (1999)

“I have seen the effects of caste discrimination first hand and talked to those who suffer from it. Caste discrimination is India’s elephant in the room. Foreign investors need to be willing to ask what the elephant is doing there, and when is it going to be dealt with”


Jeremy Corbyn MP, Chair of DSN-UK

 

I am grateful to Jeremy Corbyn MP, Chair of DSN-UK, and others for raising awareness within the government of the insidious nature of caste discrimination, and for identifying areas where we might work together to reduce potential abuses of basic Dalit human rights”


Baroness Royall, DFID Spokesperson in House of Lords

 

 

Important Links

 

International Dalit Solidarity Network: www.idsn.org

National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights: www.dalits.org

Danish Institute for Human Rights: www.humanrightsbusiness.org

Dalit Panchayat Movement: www.dalitreds.in

 

 

WE APPEAL TO COMPANIES TO ENDORSE THE AMBEDKAR PRINCIPLES AND TO ACT AGAINST CASTE DISCRIMINATION

 

Please write to the Private Sector Project Officer expressing your interest, psg.dalitsnuk@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

Patron Trustees of DSN-UK

 

Singh Bahal

Rodney Bickerstaffe

RT Revd John Gladwin (Bishop of Chelmsford)

Revd David Haslam

Jean Lambert MEP

Rob Marris MP

Professor Mary Grey

 

 

 

 

U.K.6.bmp

DALIT SOLIDARITY NETWORK UK


Thomas Clarkson House, the Stableyard, Broomgrove Road, London SW9 9TL

Tel: +44 (0)2075018323 Fax: +44 (0)2077384110 Email: dalitsnuk@yahoo.co.uk

Registered Charity Number 1107022

 

EDITED BY: TARA BRACE-JOHN, PRIVATE SECTOR

PROJECT OFFICER,

psg.dalitsnuk@yahoo.co.uk



[1] Marathi is the language spoken in the state of Maharashtra in North Western India

[2] Thorat and Umakant, 2004, Caste, Race and Discrimination: Discourses in International Context, IIDS, Delhi

[3] ibid.

[4] Thorat, Sukhadeo, 2005, Affirmative action Policy in India – Nature, Dimensions and Emerging Issues , Concept Paper, Overseas Development Institute, London

[5] Gail Omvedt, Beyond Quotas, Times of India, 12 May 2006

[6] Article 46, A Directive Principle of State Policy

[7] Formally known as Harijans or Untouchables

[8] Indigenous people who are ethnically different form the Untouchables

[9] Even though the institution of caste has not been banned, certain laws have been formulated by the state to protect victims of caste-based abuse and atrocities and to provide compensation

[10] Quota based affirmative action

[11] Government of India Economic Survey 2005-06, Economic Division, Ministry of Finance, New Delhi. India

[12] Some of the affirmative actions taken by the Government of India in the public sector so far include *relaxation of minimum age for entry into the service *relaxation in minimum standard of suitability within reasonable limit (subject to minimum qualification) *relaxation in fees *pre-examination training *separate interviews for Dalits and Adivasis *provision of experts from Dalit or Adivasi backgrounds in selection committees etc.

[13] Gail Omvedt, Beyond Quotas, Times of India, 12 May 2006

[14] Shubhajit Roy’s article in the Indian Express on August 19, 2006, reported on the Auditor General of India declaring that a large part of the SSA funds meant for education programmes was actually spent on Hindu ceremonies, air conditioners, mobile phones, repairing bungalows, school grants to 2,369 “non-existent” schools in Jharkhand alone, text books for “ineligible” students and many such “un-budgeted” activities. States like Bihar still have a teacher-student ratio of 1:130. Also 75,884 schools have only a single teacher, 6,647 schools have no teacher at all, and a shocking 40% of 6-14 year olds still drop out of school.

 

[15] DI is Denmark’s national employers’ confederation representing more than 6000 companies.

[16] IFU is Denmark’s Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries.

[17] Landsorganisationen Danmark (LO)


PRESS RELEASE

 

 

DALIT FREEDOM NETWORK - FRIENDS OF INDIA 13 WARNER ROAD, BROMLEY, KENT, BR1 3RR

Tel: 0208 464 7879; mobile:  0771 007 7871

 

Dalit leader, Dr. Udit Raj met British M.P’s

And church leaders to push through reservation in the private sector.

Christians and human rights activists are asked to support World Religious Freedom to be held on 14th October in India.

 

London, 14th sept, 06

 

                                      The president of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations, Dr Udit Raj, met British Parliament Members, Jeremy Corbyn and Rob Marris urging them to ask the British Government to issue necessary directions to UK investors to provide reservation to Dalits.  At the same time the UK Government should pursue with other western countries to do the same.  Since Jeremy Corbyn and Rob Marris are in the select committee of British Government dealing with foreign investment, we have requested them to pursue this issue.   In addition, Dr Udit Raj also asked them to look into violation of Religious Freedom in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.    Freedom of Religion is like any other social problem such as human trafficking, drug menace, child labour, and therefore members of Parliament are rightly urged to take up the matter with the India government as well as at a global level.

            The All India Christian Council and All India Confederation of SC/ST organizations have decided to hold a ‘Religious Freedom Day’ on 14th October 2006 at Nagpur, India.     The messiah of Dalits, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar quit Hinduism along with hundreds of thousands of Dalits on 14th October, 1956 at Nagpur.     This is the Golden Jubilee of Religious Freedom.  There cannot be a better day than this when Ambedkarites, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs and Muslims all come together to raise their voice.   World Religious Leaders, US Congressmen, Human Rights Activists, actors and actresses of Hollywood are going to participate at the event.      He said that this is going to hit the headlines all over the world.    Rosemary Morris, Dalit Freedom Network, David Griffiths, India advocacy desk officer  of Christian Solidarity Worldwide,  David Haslam of Dalit Solidarity Network, all based in London are working hard with full spirit to mobilize the support of Europe to the cause of Religious Freedom.   Yesterday, Dr. Udit Raj along with Rosemary Morris and David Griffiths met high officials of the Archbishop of Canterbury and appealed that the Christians in UK should work with Dalits of UK in the interest of Dalits of India and Religious Freedom.  Ambedkar Buddhist Organisation of Birmingham had responded positively to work with Christians in England, said Dr. Udit Raj.  Dalits are being mobilized from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattishgarh to come over to Nagpur and choose the religion of their choice since they cannot do in their respective states because of anti-conversion law.

                On 12th September, 2006, Dr Udit Raj along with David Griffiths, Rosemary Morris met officials of the European Commission and European Council to deliberate on the severe violation of human rights happening in India.   Most importantly, they met a member of European Parliament Jan Mulder from Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and Eoin Ryan TD MEP, Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Development and urged them to take up the issue in the coming summit with India, to this they have responded positively.    It is not only in the interest of Dalits and Christians in India, but investors as well.     Unrest and violence always jeopardise the economic activities.   Naxalism, a brand of communist militancy, is increasing fast in India and more than 100 districts are infested with it and in those areas it has become next to impossible to have investment and carry out normal economic activities. Why this is happening is precisely that Dalits are deprived of wealth, jobs and dignity. Even India government sees it as a social problem.   To provide reservation to Dalits in private sector will help in establishing better law and order and social harmony.      Dalits are deprived of rights of land and whatever government has distributed to them, the so called upper castes do not allow them to have position.

         Dr Udit Raj said that western countries’ governments, NGO’s and human rights activists have failed to understand the caste system in India, and whatever resources and help are rendered to India through them, they are not reaching to Dalits.     Rosemary Morris was astonished to learn that the so called upper castes are getting a lot of governmental and non governmental help on behalf of Dalits, but Dalits are not even aware of that.  She pledged that she would fight till Europeans understand caste discrimination in India and would see through that aids go to needy Dalits and deprived people.

 

                                                                                                                          (Rosemary Morris)


Press Invitation

 

Hundreds of Dalit activists as well as Dalit organisations, led by National Conference of Dalit Organisations ( NACDOR), from all over the country will demonstrate against the brutal and gruesome killing of four members of a Dalit family by the upper caste villagers in Khairlanji, Bhandara district in Maharashtra last month. The inefficiency of Maharashtra government in tackling the issue and bringing the culprits to the book is shocking beyond expression. Nagpur is burning and so are other areas of Maharashtra where Dalits feel a sense of betrayal by the political class as R.R.Patil, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, rather than taking action against the culprits, expressed his apprehensions of a 'Naxal' hand in the violence.

 

Dalits in various parts of Vidarbha had been demanding justice for the family. A simple push to Shard Pawar by the Australians has become a prime time national obsession yet the brutality and indignity heaped upon the Dalits in general and in Khairlanji in particular attracted our attention only when the Dalits took to the street. We feel the government must be reminded of its human rights obligations under the constitution as well as international treaties.

 

Therefore, Dalits have decided to protest against this indifferent bureaucracy and the government of Maharashtra, which has no will to act upon the incident. Instead, the government continues to shield the culprits. Jantar Mantar protest is therefore a major decision by various Dalit organizations in the India Social Forum beginning today. The shadow of Bhandara killings will be there in the dalit discourse during the ISF summit. And rightly, Dalit organizations wish to show their solidarity with the struggling masses of Bhandara and other parts of Vidarbha.

 

As a mark of solidarity with the Dalits in Khairlanji village and to remind Maharashtra government to fulfill its constitutional obligation, major Dalit organizations led by National Conference of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR) will stage massive demonstration at Jantar Mantar at 11.00 am on 10th November, 2006.

 

In the evening at 4.00 pm, the Dalit organizations along with human rights activists from all over the country will carry a candle light procession at the India Social Forum grounds symbolizing Dalit dignity and revolt against the patriarch cal brahmanical values.

 

You are requested to depute your colleague to cover both the events.

 

For National Conference of Dalit Organisation