India junks caste at race meet
Geneva, Aug. 6: Backed by several countries, India has succeeded in keeping caste-related issues out of the agenda for a forthcoming world conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The meet takes place in Durban later this month and will be inaugurated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Despite lobbying by many NGOs and Dalit groups, the issue had been kept out of the agenda being finalised at the preparatory committee meeting here. Savitri Kunadi, India's representative at the UN, said the member-countries were not supportive of the issue being discussed.
Some NGOs were still attempting to ensure that the Dalits issue gets reflected in some form or the other - for instance "discrimination on the grounds of work and descent.'' This formulation was also unacceptable to India as there was no justification in raking up the issue when the government had provided constitutional safeguards for the protection of Dalits.
In fact, Pakistan, which had raised the issue of caste-based discrimination at the United Nations Sub-Commission of Human Rights on several occasions, was also trying to play down the matter this time.
Various Dalit groups, with the support of Europe-based NGOs, world peace councils and the World Federation of Democratic Youth, raised the caste factor in meetings of the commission of human rights.