India denies ‘caste’ as factor of gender inequality

India denies ‘caste’ as factor of gender inequality

This draws angry reaction from civil society organisations

India on Tuesday changed the word caste to “social origin” in the draft Asian and Pacific ministerial declaration on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment at conference under way here to review the goals of the Beijing platform for action 20 years later.


The text will be finalised over the next two days after the Ministers from the region debate on it.


When the Asian and Pacific conference on gender equality and women’s empowerment opened on Monday, India did not object to the word caste in para 12 of the draft text which reads, “Recognising that gender-based discrimination occurs in and of itself and that it is often linked to other forms of inequality related to such factors as age, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, health, disability, class, caste, sexual orientation and gender identity, occupation, migrant and legal or other status, and that the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination can compound experiences of injustice, social marginalisation and oppression.”


However, on Tuesday when the para was reviewed for objections along with para four on the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” which was replaced with the phrase, “men and women in their diversity,” it was pointed out that India wanted the word caste replaced and this was indicated by Indian officials at a group meeting to sort out objections in the two paras raised by some countries.

There were no issues on this subject raised by other countries and the change was accepted. Observers present during the smaller meeting to discuss the para said it happened very suddenly and the matter was not raised earlier.


The large number of civil society organisations present reacted with anger at the change and said it was not the first time that India had refused to acknowledge caste at a U.N. meeting.


‘Not the same thing’

Activist and writer Ruth Manorama told The Hindu that “social origin” is not the same thing as caste. She said “para 12 addresses inequality and sociologically the words social origin do not mean caste. This is a para that talks of discrimination and caste is the longest form of hierarchy leading to inequality. Caste exists in the subcontinent and other countries.”


“If the Indian government wanted to change the word caste, it could have used a United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination definition which says ‘descent and work-based discrimination’ instead of social origin,” Ms. Manorama said. “The word caste is in the Indian Constitution, so why replace it here,” she asked. By doing this the government was denying caste as a point of discrimination, she added. At the U.N. World conference on racism, in 2001 in Durban, India refused to accept that caste-based discrimination amounted to racism.


Indian embassy officials refused to comment on the matter and the government representative, Additional Secretary Preeti Sudan was not available for comment.




44 p.c. of rescued bonded labourers are from north India

44 p.c. of rescued bonded labourers are from north India

Periodic intervention by voluntary agencies to rescue bonded workers not withstanding, bonded labour is prevalent in many districts of Tamil Nadu in rice mills, brick kilns and other places.


Details of prevalence of bonded labour, obtained by Evidence, a Madurai-based non-governmental organisation, using the Right to Information Act, for the period from January 2010 to June 2014 reveal that 44 per cent of rescued workers were from Orissa and other northern States.


Most of the released workers belonged to Scheduled Castes and many employers had engaged children in their units. But no arrest had been made during the period even after registration of cases.


According to the RTI data, 864 bonded workers were rescued from nine districts during the period. They included 52 children (below 14 years) and 420 women.


Tiruvallur district accounted for the highest number of 509 bonded labourers, and 379 among them were from North India. Interestingly, there are no bonded workers in The Nilgiris, Theni, Tiruchi, Tiruvarur, Tuticorin, Karur and Dindigul districts as per the data. According to the applicant, data could not be obtained for Cuddalore, Madurai, Nagapattinam, Sivaganga, Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram, Ramanathapuram and Krishnagiri districts.


Though the laws are clear that a rescued bonded labour shall get Rs.20,000 and 2.5 cents of land, a survey conducted by Evidence indicates that only six persons among the 864 had received Rs.20,000. As many as 165 rescued labourers got Rs.19,000; three of them were given Rs.2000 each; 690 labourers received just Rs.1,000 and three could get 2.5 cents of land each.


The replies under the RTI Act also showed that 551 persons were engaged in rice mills, 106 in brick kilns, 78 in sugarcane cutting and other menial jobs. According to A. Kadir, executive director, Evidence, 131 cases had been booked against the employers but not a single person had been arrested.




NHRC pulls up Tamil Nadu on manual scavenging

 NHRC pulls up Tamil Nadu on manual scavenging

Taking suo motu cognisance of a photograph published in The Hindu, the National Human Rights Commission, on Tuesday, issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government on the continuance of manual scavenging in Chennai. 


The photograph, showing a labourer cleaning a manhole without protective gear, on Santhome High Road, was published in the city pages of The Hindu on October 27.


A report on the steps taken to implement the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, should be submitted by the State government within eight weeks.


‘Manual scavenging violates the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution. It is considered to be one of the worst surviving symbols of inhumanity and untouchability. People engaged in manual scavenging are often dalits, who are still considered to be untouchables by many people,’ NHRC observed.


The commission also said it viewed the prevalence of manual scavenging as a serious threat to human dignity, and abolition of this practice should be taken up as a national mission. 


‘It appears the authorities concerned are totally indifferent to these responsibilities and are allowing such an inhuman practice,’ NHRC said.



High Court slams police, Home Ministry for poor policing in Delhi

High Court slams police, Home Ministry for poor policing in Delhi

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on city police and the Home Ministry, saying there is no policing in the National Capital. “The Home Ministry and Delhi police are ‘playing badminton’ with issue of appointment of 14,000 police personnel,” the court made this caustic remark.

In the suo motu case taken up after the December 16 gangrape case, the court had been informed that police strength had to be increased, but the decision hasn’t been taken so far. On Wednesday, the counsel for the Ministry of Home Affairs said that the Centre has told Delhi police to ‘review’ the number of people to be appointed. Court of justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and justice Siddharth Mridul pulled up the bureaucracy for lack of proper policing in Delhi.

In a related PIL on women’s safety, the court also asked the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) to monitor whether the Delhi police crime teams actually carry the scientific investigation kits to crime scenes. The court observed, “I have never seen a proper investigation kit in any of the cases.”

- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/high-court-slams-police-home-ministry-for-poor-policing-in-delhi/#sthash.33eEIJFm.dpuf


HC orders government to form committees against trafficking

HC orders government to form committees against trafficking

PATNA: In a landmark judgment, the Patna high court on Thursday ordered for constitution of village/ward- level anti-human trafficking panels. A division Justice of V N Sinha and Justice Prabhat Kumar Jha also ordered the government to upgrade Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya from Class VIII to XII as early as possible to ensure better educational facility for the girls even in remotest areas of the state.

The court pronounced the judgment while hearing a PIL filed by ‘Apne Aap Women Worldwide Trust India’, an NGO engaged in rescue and rehabilitation of victims of flesh trade.

The bench said in its judgment, “It is directed that at every village/ward of gram panchayat/urban agglomeration, including red light area where anganwadi centre is already established, village/ward-level anti-human trafficking body be constituted within a reasonable time not exceeding two months from the date of this judgment.”

This committee will collect data concerning the children in the age group of 0-18 years residing within its jurisdiction, such as birth, gender, family’s income, status of the child attending anganwadi school and to draw plan for the care of each child under its jurisdiction, and submit monthly report to the block or district-level committee.

These committees, in turn, will analyze the data provided by the village-level committee, take remedial action and submit report to the social welfare directorate for further remedial action and the directorate shall upload the data on its website for annual social audit by an independent agency.

The court said it shall be the village-level committee’s duty to ensure proper education for each child in that village. “If the database … is not maintained by the village-level committee, the directorate and the social welfare department shall take appropriate action and will ensure maintenance of database and required vigil over the activities of every child and his guardian by not only the village-level committee but also by the directorate,” the court directed.

The court also directed the DMs not to grant licence for travelling theatre or ‘nautanki’ without proper scrutiny. The DMs and SPs were asked to maintain a list of NGOs and social workers engaged in rescue and rehabilitation of trafficked victims.

In order to protect and provide vocational training to the trafficked victims, social welfare department should establish protective homes and corrective institutions in each district, the court ordered. “To begin with, the department must establish one protective home, corrective institution and one-stop crisis/Nirbhaya centre in each district as early as possible,” it said. This arrangement will go a long way in preventing trafficking of children and child marriage, the court observed.