IDSN October Newsletter

International News

Time to tear down the wall of caste: In a press release issued by Human Rights Watch, the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights and IDSN on 9 October the organisations urge governments to respond to the call from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to end caste discrimination. Read the press release and click here for press clippings

Opinion piece by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: In an unprecedented statement by the principal UN human rights official, Navi Pillay said that “the time has come to eradicate the shameful concept of caste” and appealed to the international community to “support these efforts as it did when it helped put an end to apartheid”. Read the opinion piece

Nepal backs UN guidelines on caste discrimination: During the 12th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the IDSN and a number of international human rights groups organised a side event on the draft UN principles and guidelines for the elimination of caste discrimination. The Government of Nepal, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU presidency and Dalit representatives made supportive statements at this event. Read more here and download the UN principles and guidelines

Boom in international press coverage: Caste discrimination reached the headlines in the wake of the side event in Geneva and the High Commissioner’s opinion piece. BBC, the Telegraph, the Times of India and Reuters News Alert were among the media outlets reporting on the issue. Click here for press reports

Call for South Asian organisations to work against caste discrimination: On 3 October, the Asian Human Rights Commission and the International Dalit Solidarity Network issued a joint statement on caste discrimination as a response to the recent media attention following the side event in Geneva.

Dalit activists meet UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: During the session of the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Dalit representatives had a 45-minute meeting with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay. Click here to read more

Caste makes children vulnerable to sexual abuse: A new report from UNICEF states that children in South Asia are “more vulnerable to sexual abuse and other forms of violence if they are subjected to discrimination, neglect and disadvantage related to their caste, ethnicity, gender and economic status. “ Click here to download the report

UN Rapporteur equates descent-based and racial discrimination: The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mr. Githu Muigai, encourages an international recognition of descent-based discrimination as a form of racial discrimination prohibited by international law. In a recent report to the UN General Assembly, he also mentions that he has re-issued requests for country visits to India, Nepal and Bangladesh – but without reply. Click here to read more and here to read the report

Main National News


PM Singh finds low conviction rate ‘shocking’: On 7 September, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his shock at the low conviction rate for cases of atrocities against Dalits. Click here to read the PM’s statement and here for a briefing note on the SC/ST PoA Act

India’s UN flip-flop on caste and race: In recent years, India has vehemently resisted attempts to link caste and race in a UN context. However, it was not always so, the Times of India reports. In 1965, India actively lobbied for inclusion of caste discrimination in the Convention of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).Click here to read the article and here for a background paper on caste and descent in international human rights instruments

Report – Half of India below poverty line: An expert committee set up by the Ministry of Rural Development says that 50 per cent of Indians live below the poverty line if the criterion of calorie intake is taken into account. This figure is relevant to many Dalits. Click here for a news article and here for the full report

Caste inequalities contribute to child mortality: The infant mortality rate in India is higher than in its poorer neighbours Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A new report from Save the Children attributes part of the blame to caste inequalities. Click here for a news article from Reuters and here for the full report

Dalit mothers plagued by discrimination: Maternal mortality rates in India are alarmingly high, and according to a new report from Human Rights Watch, Dalit mothers are particularly vulnerable. In Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, caste discrimination is an ingrained part of the medical system. Read more here

HRW documents police brutality: A report by Human Rights Watch reveals a wide range of human rights violations committed by the Indian police. The report “Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse and Impunity in the Indian Police” also documents the particular vulnerability to police abuse of traditionally marginalised groups, including Dalits. Click here to read more

Access to secondary education unequal: Enrollment of Dalits in the secondary school system is well below their share of the population at large. According to a new World Bank report on Secondary Education in India, the dropout rate for Dalits is also considerably higher than the national average. Click here to read the report

Activist demands separate category for Dalit women: The well known Indian Dalit activist, Ruth Manorama, is seeking the creation of a separate category for Dalit women in official documents and planning, The Hindu reports. Click here to read the press report

India – Selected Press Clippings: Uthapuram Dalits get relief – The Hindu; Now, a quota in graves too! – The Times of India; NREGS not caste in stone – The Hindu; Dalit literature reflects oppression – The Hindu; Dalit Christians to walk out of Eraiyur village – Express Buzz


School teacher dismissed for defending Dalit students: When she spoke out against discrimination of Dalit students at the Shree Saraswati Lower Secondary School, Ms Pushpa Karki, faced abuse, threats and, ultimately, dismissal. Read the Asian Human Rights Commission appeal here

Dalit woman priest works silent revolution: In her youth, she was not allowed to enter her village temple. Now, 43-year old Sukmaya Rokaya is a priest at a temple in Kathmandu. Click here for press report


New IDSN publications: In recent weeks, IDSN has published two booklets containing the Ambedkar Principles and the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination Based on Work and Descent. To download these important documents from our website, please click on the links above. You can also e-mail to receive a copy of the booklet(s).

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