The world’s largest English-language newspaper, The Times of India, called the UN’s stance on caste discrimination an “embarrassment” to India, and the BBC World Service aired a live debate programme on caste discrimination on 29 September.
Following the side event on caste discrimination during the 12th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, several media reports have sparked an international debate about caste discrimination as a human rights violation. Blogs and commentary boxes are booming with reactions from readers inside and outside South Asia.
The Times of India wrote on Monday 28 September that Nepal is “breaking ranks on the culturally sensitive issue” by welcoming the idea of UN involvement in combating caste discrimination. The article described the positive attitude of the government of Nepal to the UN principles and guidelines on caste discrimination is “radically different from India’s stated aversion to the internationalization of the caste problem”. The positive reaction of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Nepal’s support for the event was called as an “embarrassment” to India.
The international media have also picked up on the story. The BBC World Service aired a 50 minute live radio debate with scholars and activists about caste discrimination. Mr. Paul Divakar from the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in India was one of the main speakers who pointed out the need for a comprehensive framework to tackle this form of discrimination and role of the UN in this regard. A BBC blog following the broadcast has created a vigorous debate on the internationalisation of caste discrimination.
The Daily Telegraph published an article on 29 September which, although full of factual errors, has received massive attention and been reproduced in a large number of regional and national newspapers. IDSN has produced a brief commentary to correct these errors, some of which have subsequently been corrected in the reproduced piece.