Caste, Racism and the UN Resolution

Hats off to the Maoists in Nepal for taking the caste question to the UN level. This is in sharp contrast to the stance taken by the Indian government all through. During the World Conference Against Racism in Durban (2001) India had opposed equating the caste system with racism and the then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee had gone on record stating that:

“There were misconceived attempts by some NGOs to equate racism with caste-based discrimination which is based on birth and occupation and has nothing to do with the race of a person.”

Earlier this year in April the Indian government had succeeded in having caste discrimination ignored in the resolution during the World Conference on Racism held in Geneva. One can, of course, debate the technicalities of equating caste and racism but then racism has always been used in different senses and there is no reason why the definition cannot be extended to include caste disrimination. After all, the UN does not define racism per se, and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racism Discrimination states that:

the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life. (source)

There is a slight change in terminology this time, and the verbage in the draft resolution used is “effective elimination of discrimination based on work and descent” rather than racism. Maybe this will do the trick!

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5 thoughts on “Caste, Racism and the UN Resolution

  1. Pingback: Caste as Human Rights Violation « sotosay

  2. The most unfortunate part of Indian Social System is that most of the Indian treat casteism & caste based discrimination as useless as India is a developing force and is in the process of moving forward, but when it comes to speaking against it, they prefer to remain mum allowing this system to continue. The basic reason that Indian don’t want casteism to be eradicated is that the caste system provide all castes (except shudras) with the satisfaction that millions of people of other castes are lower than them in the social hierarchy. Hence it helps all castes to prefer to keep mum for selfish reasons. This vested interest has allowed the caste system to continue. It is left with Dalits only to grumble who can not even fight due to their inherent weakness as a result of exploitation for ages. Indian Govt., like Nepal should accept casteism as a racial discrimination and make efforts to eradicate these discripencies. This will allow India to become a real big international giant, which otherwise may remain a hoax.-Jogi

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