IDSN July Newsletter

International News

The European Commission takes up the fight against caste discrimination The European Commission conducted a 3-day regional workshop on Indigenous People, Minorities and Dalits in Dhaka, 15-17 June, 2009. Read the full IDSN news item on the workshop and EU commitment »

New IDSN/European Commission Study on, “Caste-based Discrimination in South Asia” The study, commissioned to IDSN by the European Commission, gives an overview of the situation, responses and ways forward. Download the study as a PDF »

Article published in New Europe on Caste Discrimination and the need for the EU to act: Read the full article in the influential magazine »

The European Union asks UN High Commissioner on Human Rights about plans to eliminate caste discrimination Following the High Commissioner’s update to the Human Rights Council in June, the Czech Republic, on behalf of the European Union, took note of Ms. Pillay’s commitment to addressing caste-based discrimination during her country visit to India and Nepal in March, and asked the High Commissioner to “elaborate on the plans of her office in contributing to the elimination of this form of discrimination.” Read the full EU statement here »

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women recommends further study on Dalit women At the 11th session of the Human Rights Council in June, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Ms. Yakin Ertürk, presented a number of cases on violence against Dalit women to the Council and proposed that this particular group was studied in more detail by the future mandate holder.  Read the full council resolution on this issue here »

UN Treaty Bodies and caste discrimination In May-June the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) expressed concern about the “continued existence of caste based slavery” in Mauretania and urged the State party to “take all necessary measures to eradicate slavery”. With regard to Bangladesh, the Committee was concerned about how vulnerable groups of children continue to face discrimination and disparities, including “children […] on the basis of social origin, or other status of their parents”. Download the reports and recommendations from the Committee’s website »

UN Committee affirms that UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights covers caste discrimination. The UN Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (CESCR) adopted General Comment No. 20, affirming that discrimination based on ‘social origin’ and ‘birth’ in article 2 of the Covenant, refers to descent-based discrimination, “especially on the basis of caste and analogous systems of inherited status” (para. 24 and 26). The Committee recommends that “States parties should take steps, for instance, to prevent, prohibit and eliminate discriminatory practices directed against members of descent-based communities and act against dissemination of ideas of superiority and inferiority on the basis of descent” (para. 26).

Amnesty International: Dalits are among the main victims of torture in India In an open letter to the Home Office Amnesty International highlight the fact that Dalits are commonly victims of torture in India. More information on Dalits and torture can be found in reports on “Torture in India: A State of Denial” by the Asian Centre for Human Rights, and “Torture and Impunity in India” by People’s Watch Tamil Nadu, which expose this issue in detail.

International Church Anti Racism Conference calls for action against caste discrimination The international conference, “Churches against Racism”, delivered a strong message stating that they called for action with and on behalf of the marginalized, the poor and those facing exclusion. Read the full IDSN news item on the conference »

Main National News


National Consultation on the Right of Franchise of Dalits As a follow-up to the work of the National Dalit Election Watch during the Indian Elections a consultation was held in New Delhi on the 25th of June. Read more about the consultation here »

Supreme Court ruling brings India a step closer to ending manual scavenging The campaign to end manual scavenging by the 2010 Commonwealth Games just got a push from a recent Supreme Court Decision, holding Government appointed District Collectors responsible for failing to eradicate the demeaning and hazardous practice. Read the full IDSN news item on the ruling »

Study on Indian Government budget allocations for Dalits by NCDHR coming up The study is forthcoming; however there have been some press reports on the preliminary findings already suggesting that Dalits are being short changed.

Cyclone Aila – Preliminary Report available on discrimination in relief work The cyclone, which struck India and Bangladesh in May caused massive damage, particularly to Dalits. The report, by the National Dalit Watch-NCDHR team, describes relief efforts in the first days after it hit and the problems involved. Download the report here »

India: Selected Press Clippings Registration of cases of violence against Dalits has soared in Uttar Pradesh– Express India; Orissa’s Forgotten Dalit Christians – NDTV; A Grain Of Good Sense: Legislating against hunger is a great idea that needs expansion to take scheduled castes into consideration – Outlook India;Government working out welfare plans for over 5 million Mahadalits in Bihar – Times of India

New working papers published from the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS) The papers available are:“Dalit Children in Rural India: Issues Related to Exclusion and Deprivation”, By Nidhi Sadana; “Dr. Ambedkar’s Strategies Against Untouchability and the Caste System”, By Christophe Jaffrelot; “In the Name of Globalization: Meritocracy, Productivity and Hidden Language”, By Surinder S. Jodhka et al.; “Will India’s Attainment of MGDs be an Inclusive Process”, By Purnamita Das Gupta and Sukhadeo Thorat; “Urban Labour Market Discrimination”, By Sukhadeo Thorat, Paul Attewell and Firdaus Fatima Rizvi
All the working papers are available for download from IIDS here »


Nepali Dalits are given a helping hand in the Government’s new budget The new Nepali Government budget proposal presents bold new provisions to fight caste-discrimination in Nepal, including financial assistance for stigmatized inter-caste couples. Read the full IDSN news item on the budget.

Soap opera on caste discrimination in Nepal is proving a big success The soap opera, which portrays the trials and tribulations of a Dalit family in Nepal, pivoting around the story of a difficult inter-caste romance, has been a big success in the country. Learn more about the soap opera produced by the Jagaran Media Center here and read the article on its success here.


National Consultation on building Dalit movements held in Dhaka On 17 June Nagorik Uddoyg (NU), support organization of the Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement, organized a national consultation in Dhaka, at which experiences from building  Dalit movements and international solidarity work were shared by Durga Sob (FEDO), Henri Tiphagne (Peoples Watch) and Rikke Nöhrlind (IDSN).


Pakistan’s Dalits must stand up and be counted When Pakistan conducts its National Census in October, Pakistani low-caste or sub-caste members are strongly urged to register themselves as Dalits rather than Hindus. For while they may be considered ‘untouchable’, they must not also be made invisible, when the population is divided into categories that will determine what reservations, development initiatives and means of political participation will be made available to them. Read the full IDSN news item on this issue »

Sri Lanka

New working paper on Caste Discrimination and Social Justice in Sri Lanka – written by By Kalinga Tudor Silva, P.P. Sivapragasam and Paramsothy Thanges and published by IIDS can be downloaded here »

Events/ Deadlines coming up

Human Rights Council side event on “discrimination based on work and descent”: As a follow-up to thepublication of the final UN report on discrimination based on work and descent, a public side event is being planned at the 12th session of the Human Rights Council in September to inform about the findings and recommendations of this comprehensive study, including the content of the draft UN principles and guidelines on this issue. Date and venue to be confirmed.

The second session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues, Geneva, 12 -13 November 2009: This session will focus on “Minorities and Political Participation” by drawing on the expertise and information shared based on national practices and personal experiences from various stakeholders, and will aim at developing a set of principles or guidelines for improved and more effective political participation by members of minority groups, including Dalits. Read more about the Forum »

Sri Lanka, Yemen and Mali will be examined by the UN Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights in November 2010 (pre-sessional working group in May). Find more information here »

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