Indian 'apartheid' condemned
Human Rights Watch has criticised the Indian Government for stifling debate over caste-based discrimination.
The New York-based rights groups says Delhi is trying to avoid discussion of the issue at a major United Nations conference on racism in South Africa in August.
Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Smita Narula says Indian officials argued against including caste at a meeting on the conference agenda in Tehran earlier this week.
Lobbying for inclusion
The lower-caste Dalit community and a number of other South Asian groups are lobbying for the caste system to be discussed at the South African meeting.
They argue that more international attention is needed on what amounts to hidden apartheid.
Human Rights Watch says the caste system inflicts great social harm, including the sexual abuse of women and children.
No final decision has yet been made on the agenda.
Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Tehran meeting that no country or region could claim to be free from racism.
The conference has been organised to mark the International Year for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.