By Revd. B J
21 September, 2005
Solidarity Network UK Report 2005 entitled Caste Discrimination and
the Private Sector incorporates some startling information to prospective
investors in South Asia. The Corporations while planning to out source
some of their operations for example to Mumbai, Bangalore or any such
South Asian city is invited to draw their attention to the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the Conventions of the International
Labour Organisation (ILO) to which most countries had committed to.
In a post-enlightenment;
post-modern world it is sad indeed to witness that human kind still
has to deal with issues such as race and caste conflicts. Human attitudes
sadly seem to have not much altered! It seems, at least in majority
of people both in the developing and the developed world, education
has not done much to make this paradigm shift. Caste discrimination
continues in employment, education, healthcare, housing, land rights,
and the criminal justice system. This Report however, is trying to advance
The Ambedkar Principles [A set of Employment Principles entitled after
the prestigious Dalit leader Dr. B.R. Ambedkar] with the aim
that it would equip foreign investors to address caste discrimination
in South Asia.
According to this
Report caste discrimination in India affects over 260 million people.
At least 50 million others are affected in other countries of South
Asia and Japan and several African countries. On the basis of an investigation
conducted by the UN Commission on Human Rights in April 2005 - this
Report believes on the positive side, that resistance to discrimination
on the basis of caste is growing. However, it also tempers the enthusiasm
by observing: Dalits are threatened, beaten, or even murdered
as they defy the dominant caste structures. [Emphasis mine]
practice of restricting mobility of labour across caste occupation and
thereby not permitting re-adjustment of employment opportunities is
still alive. This Report finds that Caste becomes a direct cause
of much voluntary unemployment among high castes and involuntary
unemployment among the low castes.
24, holds a masters degree in economics from Gujarat University in Ahmedabad.
The best job Vaghela could get was one done by generations of his family:
32, another sweeper, who has a degree in commerce. This job is
for life he shrugs, But it was my fathers life. Our
parents had a dream that education would mean we would not have to do
the jobs they did. It did not turn out that way.
Chandra Bhan Prasad,
a writer who has inspired many new affirmative action programmes in
India is quoted to have said: If Oprah Winfrey had been born in
India she would have remained chained to poverty rather than become
one of the worlds richest women.
Shyam Babu, a research
fellow at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute notes: No one can tell from
your appearance that you are a Dalit. The same cannot be said of African
Americans. Its more subtle, he points out. Once you know
some ones name and where they are from, most Indians can identify
your caste. The basic bigotry is the same: you assume an entire ethnic
group is incompetent.
visible in the public sector. A qualified Dalit journalist was not given
the opportunity to undertake television work.
In India there is
not a single Dalit millionaire; not one news paper editor nor a newscaster
even the university professorships are closed to Dalits!
Dalits or those
discriminated against by work or descent (as UN puts it)
are also found in Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Similarly
affected groups exist in Japan, Somalia, Senegal, Nigeria and number
of other countries.
This Report underlines
the issue of human rights abuse in the contemporary world by giving
the figures of those who are at the receiving end. There are some 180
million Dalits in India, another 90 million Scheduled Tribes (STs)
who suffer similar plight. Altogether its estimated some 300 million
people affected world wide by this dehumanising form of discrimination.
This Report recommendation
Private Sector Companies
which are operational in or out sourcing to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka
or other countries of South Asia should endorse the Ambedkar Employment
Trade Unions should
seek to bring pressure to bear on international companies.
of South Asia should adopt anti-discrimination legislation, ensure it
is applied, and include all those in caste-affected communities, of
whatever faith, in that legislative protection.
The UK and other EU Governments should include discussions of caste
discrimination in all their contacts with the countries of South Asia
as an essential element in the battle against poverty and for human
Adopt the Ambedkar
Principles in their development and other operations in South Asia.
On a personal level,
one would benefit, in teaching the next generation of South Asians (Particularly:
India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal) the incompatibility and the irrationality
of caste, race, gender, human sexuality and all forms of discrimination
and human rights abuses. What stops us from believing that humans are
created in the image of the Divine? The slave-chains would be broken
in the generations to come, as Bob Marley prophesied, when only we emancipate
our selves from mental slavery.