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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014

World

We no longer feel weak: British anti-caste campaigner
Dipankar De Sarkar, Hindustan Times
London, April 27, 2013
First Published: 00:12 IST(27/4/2013)
Last Updated: 00:14 IST(27/4/2013)

The rest of the world must follow the example set by Britain and outlaw caste discrimination, the Indian-origin man who led the successful British campaign said on Friday.

“Wherever there are Asian communities, they can now cite the precedent set by Britain in order to get the law changed in their own countries,” Davinder Prasad, who heads CasteWatch UK, told HT. On Tuesday, the British lower house of Parliament agreed to activate section 9 (5) of Equalities Act in order to outlaw caste discrimination.

The section provides for a minister to “amend the statutory definition of race to include caste.” Although the upper chamber voted twice in favour of the move, the lower house dithered until the Business minister Vince Cable announced the government U-turn, saying caste in future would be treated as “an aspect of race.”

Countries where Dalits are campaigning for similar legislation include Canada, the US, Germany, France and Italy, said Prasad, who is from Delhi. An IIT Kanpur alumnus, he works as for an aerospace company and has been a driving force in the British campaign.

As recently as in October 2012, Prasad became a victim of caste violence himself, when he returned from giving evidence at a caste discrimination case one evening to find all the windows of his house smashed. “Our people felt suffocated,” he said on Friday. “But now we no longer feel weak.”

There are no reliable statistics, but campaigners say around 40-50,000 people may be at risk in Britain. The bill has received the formal assent of the Queen.


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