Monthly Archives: March 2013

Important !! ERR Bill. Take Action Now !

18th March 2013


Parliament , London SW1

We have already heard that the government looks likely to turn down the amendment despite its overwhelming majority in the House of Lords. Below and attached is the letter and email you could send to your local MP to urge them to support the amendment in the ERR Bill and vote for its acceptance when the Bill reverts to the Commons.

We need as many MPs as possible to vote on the day from across the House.

We anticipate the Bill will return to the Commons after Easter and will need to be passed by May 7.

Please write to your own MP.

That this House supports the majority vote passed in the House of Lords to outlaw caste discrimination in the UK by including caste as an aspect of race in the Equality Act 2010; notes the UK’s international human rights obligations; and calls on the Government to reconsider its position and to uphold the essential British value of equality and justice.

Hit the link for a copy of a standard letter which can be used to lobby your MP

MP template letter and brief

BY POST: Print out the letter and address it to your MP. Add their name above the address of Parliament and add your own address at the top right so that they know it’s from a constituent.  You can find out who your MP is at:

BY EMAIL: You can copy the letter into an email and send it to your MP electronically. You can email your MP by going to:

Also we need them to sign EDM 1183

It would be great to hear back from you when you have sent the information to your MP so we can keep track of how much of an impact we are making as a network.

‘The Ongoing Atrocity of Caste’

11th March 2013

Dalit Solidarity Network UK are delighted to be partnering with Human Rights Watch to screen the acclaimed documentary on abuses against India’s Dalits, Jai Bhim Comrade, as part of the 2013 HRW London film festival 2013.

The film will be followed by a Q & A session with the film’s maker,  Anand Patwardhan.  Showing at 6.15pm on Wednesday 20th March at the ICA Cinema in The Mall, London.

For the trailer and tickets (£10/£8 concession) hit the link below :

The film is in English, Hindi and Marathi with English subtitles.

Dalit Groups Win the Day, Monday 4th March 2013

5th March 2013

Outlaw Caste Discrimination in the  UK 

We want Justice Now!

This was the rallying cry from the 100s of protesters that assembled outside Parliament Square on Monday 4 March to protest against the UK government’s decision NOT to legislate against caste discrimination – despite provisions enabling it to do so in the Equality Act 2010. Our government has continued to fail to provide the necessary legal redress and protection for victims of caste discrimination in the UK.

In its long awaited response to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research report (published 2010), on Friday 1 March 2012 the government released a statement that it would not enforce legislative measures, but instead introduce an educational programme to address caste discrimination in the UK

This, despite the fact that the NIESR report specifically recommended legislation to provide explicit protection, summing up that educational measures were unlikely to work.

So why ignore these recommendations, why ignore the voice of the Dalits who have consistently demanded legal recourse as being the only way to get justice ?.

In the end, Dalit groups won the day as the protest culminated in a House of Lords amendment to legislate against caste discriminating.

Members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dalits, Lords Harries and Avebury and Baroness Thornton, joined by Lord Deben from the Conservative Party moved an amendment in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to bring caste in to the Act as an aspect of race – thus outlawing it in the UK.

Photography : David Bonitto

[ All photography : David Bonitto ]

hit the links below to view more pics



The debate began at 4.36pm with a powerful opening statement from Lord Harries – saying that he found the government’s decision to go down the education not legislation route was ‘disappointing and genuinely distressing’ and going on to state that such a programme could be ‘highly counter productive’. Lord Deben was clear “I do not think it a worthy decision’ and he was ‘not convinced by the government’s argument’.

Lord Avebury asked ‘why should caste be treated differently…to any other protected characteristic’?

The government response was not a surprising one. On behalf of the government Baroness Stowell recognised that there is some evidence of caste prejudice and discrimination taking place in the United Kingdom. However the government’s view is ‘this education programme, which will explore all the issues, not just those covered by discrimination legislation, is an appropriate and targeted way of dealing with incidents related to caste’

Baroness Shreela Flather, who is a Hindu of Indian origin quite pertinently asked: ‘Who is going to educate whom? We have put down so many things under education that I should think they could fill a whole blackboard. Without legislation, I do not understand who will give this education and who will be educated.’

The Minister however did go on to state ’The Government are largely in accord with the aims of this amendment. We all want to see an end to caste-based prejudice and discrimination. We are not closing the door to legislation. We have no plans to remove the power from the Act, and we will leave it there in case new evidence emerges…’

We are still wondering how much more evidence there needs to be. Plenty has now been amassed over the past 10 years and documented from the Dalit Solidarity Network UK report in 2006, to Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance in 2009 and the National Institute’s ‘robust’ report in 2010.

The amendment went to a vote at 6.05. And we had a result! 256 peers voted for the amendment – with support from all sides of the House and all parties; 153 voted against. At 103 votes in favour, it was an outstanding and comprehensive victory.

We know that other discrimination legislation did not change hearts and minds overnight. What they did do was to begin to change behaviours. Only when we had a law to protect and made certain discrimination morally and legally wrong did we see a change in attitudes. Lord Deben ended his speech by imploring the government ‘…do not fail the Dalits’.