IDSN September Newsletter

International News

WCC: “Casteism is a sin”: The central committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on its member Churches to “end any discrimination and exclusion of millions of people on the basis of caste”.  In a statement passed on 2 September, the WCC described caste-based discrimination as “a sin”, “a crime” and “the worst form of human rights violation”. Read more here and click here to read the full WCC statement

Dalits subjected to modern slavery: Bonded labourers in South Asia are predominantly Dalits. The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery highlights this link in her report on forced and bonded labour. Click here to read more

Call for global action on UN guidelines for the elimination of caste discrimination: The IDSN urges the UN Human Rights Council and affected governments to support the new comprehensive legal framework developed by the UN to eliminate caste discrimination. These UN principles and guidelines will be presented at a side event on 16 September during the 12th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The event is supported by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Click here to read more and click here to download the UN principles and guidelines

More UN information on IDSN website: The IDSN website has now been updated with more information and guidance on how to make use of the UN Special Procedures, including how to submit complaints about human rights violations. Click here to read the information

Main National News


Dalit children protest against manual scavenging: Some 1.000 Dalit children took part in a protest rally against manual scavenging in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on 17 August. The event was organized by the local NGO, Navsarjan. Please click here for press clippings and the Minority Rights Group news report

India leads sub-Saharan Africa in hunger and malnutrition: More than 200 million people in India do not have enough to eat. According to a report from the campaign group Navdanya Trust, the figure is higher than in sub-Saharan Africa. Lower castes and certain ethnic minorities are discriminated against, pushing them further into poverty and starvation. Click here to read more

Report: Dalits excluded from essential services: Dalit children and women are facing serious discrimination in education and health services in the state of Madhya Pradesh, says a recent report by the NGO Jan Sahas Social Development Society. The report, which was financially supported by UNICEF, received considerable press coverage and led to some government action. To download the report,click here and read press reports here

Corporate India urged to become caste-sensitive: The leading Indian business conglomerate, Tata Group, has decided on a policy of “positive discrimination” towards Dalits. These efforts are described in a comprehensive survey on caste issues in the private sector, published by the magazine BusinessOutlook. The article ‘Bite the Caste Bullit’ urges corporate India to become caste-sensitive in order to integrate more Dalits into the work force. Download the article here

National consultation on Prevention of Atrocities Act: A number of Dalit organisations – under the leadership of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) – have initiated a process of national consultation on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. They are arguing for an amended version of the act, which was adopted 20 years ago, as well as stricter implementation. Click here to download the Act

Professor Gail Omvedt joins IGNOU: The US born sociologist, Gail Omvedt, has joined Indira Ghandi National Open University (IGNOU) as Prof. B.R. Ambedkar Chair on Social Change and Development. Professor Omvedt is a highly respected researcher on Dalit issues and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS). Click here to read the press report

Urgent appeals from the Asian Human Rights Commission: The AHRC has launched several urgent appeals on behalf of Dalits living under social boycott conditions in various Indian villages. In one village, 125 Dalit families have been forced to leave after asserting their right to vote in parliamentary elections. In another,163 Dalit households are affected by a social boycott which prevents them from finding employment, and in a third village, 35 Dalit families face the same predicament. The AHRC Urgent Appeals page includes other cases of caste discrimination – please click here to read more.

India – Selected Press Clippings: Welfare of Dalits is mere lip service – Hindustan Times; Caste taunts by teacher drives 66 girls away from school – Times of India; 56 Dalit families are facing eviction – The Hindu; All for one: Atrocities against Dalits – Indian Express; Dalits won’t take it lying down anymore – Hard News; Govt struggles to implement quota – Indian Express; Round table held on Dalits – Express Buzz


UN report recommends Dalit participation: The new Human Development Report on Nepal by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) urges the country’s political parties to include more members of excluded castes. Download the report here and read more about the situation of Nepalese Dalits in another UNDP document on the Dalits and a new constitution.

Forced and Bonded Labour in Nepal is the title of a new advocacy brief by Anti-Slavery International. The report focuses on bonded labour in agricultural, brick kiln and domestic work sectors. It mentions discrimination against Dalits as a particular problem. To read the full report, click here


Steps sought to protect Bangladeshi Dalits: Dalit activists in Bangladesh demand of the government that immediate measures are taken to protect their basic rights. The demand was made at a workshop titled ‘Problems of dalits and deprived community and what is to be done’, jointly organised by the Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement and the ‘Moulavibazar Tea Community Indigenous Front’.

Demand for special quotas in higher education: DALIT, an NGO working in the Southwest and Northwest regions of Bangladesh, has called upon the government and university authorities to ensure special quotas for Dalit students. The demand was made at a press conference in Khulna on 30 August. Click here for press report


Dr. Sono Khangharani first Pakistani Dalit to receive highest award: Pakistan’s highest civilian award has been conferred to Dr. Sono for his tireless efforts to improve the lives of the rural poor in Sindh Province. It is the first time in the country’s history that a Dalit receives the award. Click on these links to read a full List of award recipients and a Profile of Dr. Sono Khangharani

Solidarity network condemns attack on Christian village: The attack took place on the 30 July when a mob set fire to 72 homes of poor Christians in district Toba Tek Singh, Punjab province. Two days later the mob returned and reportedly killed seven people. The Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) demanded that the government take immediate action against the perpetrators. Click here to read the full PDSN statement

Events/ Deadlines coming up

Invitation to write articles and book reviews: The South Asia Research Network on Caste Based Discrimination invites articles and book reviews on a number of themes with special reference to Asia. The themes include caste atrocities, caste and disability, gender issues, and religious minorities. The Network is hosted by the Indian Institute for Dalit Studies. For further information, please contact Sobin George or click here to learn more about this initiative

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