India seeks to dilute Para 73

Durban, Sept. 6: The Indian government began moves to water down Para 73, which seeks to include 'discrimination based on birth and work' in the declaration of the World Conference Against Racism.

When Para 73 was opened for discussion on Wednesday night, the chair said "India has raised certain objections on the language of the Para and sought changes." It ruled that India was permitted to propose an alternative. Given the breathing space, the official Indian delegation convened a closed-door meeting to revise the Para 73 and came up with the addition of four words. UN sources said the additions would not be agreed to by the developing nations.

The Indian version of Para 73 states: "...urges States to ensure that all necessary constitutional, legislative and administrative measures, including appropriate forms of affirmative action, are in place to prohibit and redress discrimination on the basis of race, colour, national and ethnic origin and that such measures are respected and implemented by all State authorities at all levels."

This version replaces the words "discrimination on the basis of work and descent or national or ethnic origin" with the words "discrimination on the basis of race, colour, national ethnic origin descent".

The issue may come for discussion later on Thursday. India wants to make the issue much more controversial and, hence, unresolvable.

Meanwhile, the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights presented a victim of caste discrimination as witness here. Manimegalai, a Dalit women from Tamil Nadu, shared her plight with a forum set up to hear personal grievances from victims of human rights violations.

Murugasen, Manimegalai's husband, was elected president of the panchayat in Melevalavu, Tamil Nadu, but, because he is a Dalit, the upper castes said he wouldn't last six months.

Murugasen and seven other Dalit men were separated from non-Dalits and brutally murdered on a bus. Witnesses feared coming forward with information and the police claimed that the men responsible disappeared. Only after three years of protests by Dalits were the men arrested.

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Referred by:Benjamin P Kaila
Published on:7 Sep, 2001
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