Caste discrimination has racial overtones

Publié le par hort

http://economictime s.indiatimes. com/ET-Debate/ Caste-discrimina tion-has- racial-overtones /articleshow/ 5753231.cms

Caste discrimination has racial overtones
2 Apr 2010


It is ironical that in 21st century, New Delhi is not ready to concede that descent-based discrimination is a social curse in India. It is a signal that no degree of modernisation can change the upper caste mindset and exclusionary governing culture in the country.

In Durban in 2001, the clamour of several Dalit groups to take up the issue with the UN in its conference against racism (WCAR) was turned down for want of empirical evidence to treat caste as a form of discrimination. Curiously, the so-called Indian delegation of ‘courtier’ MPs (reportedly all Dalits) also certified the GoI stand that there was no caste discrimination per seand the government was sensitive to address Dalit issues through legislative mechanisms and affirmative action. Nevertheless, the UN appointed a Special Rapportuer to India to explore the nature and extent of discrimination in caste hierarchy.

Subsequently, there were extensive research activities and, today, a plethora of empirical evidence on descent-based discrimination is available in organisations like the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies and National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights. What else is left for policy officials to debate further? How many more generations will it take to introduce correctives in the tradition of hierarchical domination?

Those viewing equation of caste with race as a chimera will agree that they coalesce when it comes to practice, be it exclusion, inequality, institutionalised prejudices or discrimination. Sixty-five years are proof that the menace of caste discrimination cannot be fought locally as it is getting fattened while cannibalising on the very notions and institutions that were believed would weaken and eliminate it.

Caste discrimination has acquired racial connotations blatantly violating human rights, therefore, it needs to be addressed. As a large secular democracy committed to social justice and as a signatory to a number of UN human rights agreements; it is morally and legally binding on New Delhi to accept responsibility, at the international forum, for the continuing discrimination against Dalits and its failure to dispense them due justice.

(The writer is Director at Dr KR Narayanan Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies)

 

http://beta. thehindu. com/news/ states/tamil- nadu/article4102 47.ece

Even Indian diaspora not free of caste bias, says Raja
Special Correspondent
CUDDALORE, April 26, 2010


D. Raja, National Secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), said that the caste system and untouchability are deep rooted even among the Indian diaspora.He was speaking at the State conference of the CPI at Chidambaram near here on Saturday to mark the birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar.

In an era of neo-liberalism, Dalits were put to hardship and the new economic policy had worsened their plight. Mr. Raja said that communists were fighting social ills and if Ambedkar were alive, he would have associated with the communists because he had striven to create a casteless society.

State Secretary of the CPI, D. Pandian, said that caste had become inalienable from birth to death. Even after conversion, it would not fade away. Horrendous crimes were committed in the name of “honour killings” to do away with youngsters who married ignoring caste delineations. Unless a genuine social transformation occurred, it was difficult to eradicate untouchability, he said.

Veteran communist leader R. Nallakannu deplored the double-tumbler system and denial of entry to temples that still existed in Tamil Nadu. Mr. Nallakannu said that the Dalits could not wage a solitary battle; they had to align with like-minded organisations.


India's castes: Don't ask, don't tell, don't count?
For the first time in 80 years India may get a true tally of an ancient system.
GlobalPost
By Jason Overdorf
June 5, 2010


NEW DELHI, India — The 2,000-year-old Hindu caste system remains the most powerful force in Indian society.

Friendships, business ties and marriages live and die according to its dictates. Political parties carefully script their election tickets according to its mathematics. And an increasing number of government policies — including spiraling quotas for government jobs and university education — follow its logic.

But it's not polite to talk about it, and might even be dangerous to quantify it.

Yet in an unexpected turn, earlier this month the coalition-leading Congress Party led by Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh caved to pressure from opposition leaders and agreed to add a survey of India's myriad castes to the 2011 census, which began April 1. Weeks after the decision, jostling and debate rages on as India's politicians reflect over the potential upheavals that may result.

Many here fear that a new understanding of the various groups' numbers could disrupt the current political structure, while the upper crust fears another wave of escalating quotas will make it even more difficult for a young upper caste person to get a university education. But the momentum of caste politics makes a reversal seem impossible.

Broadly speaking, the caste system has Brahmins and Kshatriya at the top of the social order, followed by the trading castes known as Baniyas and scores of laboring castes such as the Yadavs, and beneath them all the erstwhile untouchables, whom the constitution calls the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

[Watch this video on how untouchables in Delhi are coping with the economic changes of India]

But the last official tally of the different groups was done in 1931, and present policies are based on extrapolations from those figures. An official count will no doubt have far-reaching and unpredictable implications.

Significantly, the caste census promises to determine just how many people belong to the country's so-called “Other Backward Classes,” or OBCs, who have made dramatic political gains since the Mandal Commission was formed “to identify the socially or educationally backward” in 1979.

Publié dans War-Racism

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