Category Archives: News

We are recruiting!

14th May 2024

We are recruiting for a new Director and Office Administrator.

The Dalit Solidarity Network is a small human rights organisation working to eliminate caste-based discrimination in the UK and South Asia. 


We are now seeking a part-time Director for 3 days/week to: develop and deliver of DSN-UK’s overall strategy and objectives; provide strategic leadership to influence the policy and practice of key stakeholders to further DSN’s vision of a ‘world without caste discrimination’; and to lead overall management of DSN-UK, including management of DSN-UK staff, its finances and other resources.

London-based but hybrid-working arrangements (from home and on site) will be considered.  Deadline for applications: 13 June 2024. 

Please apply at: The Guardian or CharityJob

Office Administrator:

We are now seeking a part-time Office Administrator for 2 days/week, initially for one year with a possibility of renewal. 

London-based but hybrid-working arrangements (from home and on site) will be considered.  Deadline for applications: 13 June 2024.  

Please apply at: CharityJob

Anti-Legislation Lobby want ‘caste’ to be replaced with ‘class’

30th April 2019

Our Director, Meena Varma, appeared on Radio 4’s Sunday programme, to discuss the Guidance Document on Caste Discrimination, which is shortly due to be published by the Government. At present both sides are unhappy with what has been produced. Satish Sharma of the National Council of Hindu Temples has argued that the use of ‘caste’ brings up an association with Hindus and implies that the religion is discriminatory. Instead, they would like to see the word ‘class’ put in its place – however, there is a vast difference between the two terms. In response, Meena stated that there is no definition of ‘caste’ in the current Guidance, and while the pro-Legislation groups continue to lobby for caste based discrimination to be enshrined in law, it is essential that the final document clearly explains to both service users and victims what their rights are. You can find the article at, starting around 19 minutes 22 seconds.

Celebrate Zero Discrimination – end caste-based discrimination

1st March 2019

Today is March 1st and we mark the celebration of Zero Discrimination Day. Set up by UNAIDS, it is an annual day celebrated by the UN and other international organisations. This year focuses on tackling discriminatory laws around the world.

With the strapline ‘Saving Lives, Leaving No One Behind’, it is a timely reminder that however far we think we have come in progressing past discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste, gender, sexual orientation or disability, there remains much to be done around the globe.

Theoretically, there are a number of human rights treaties (including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) that states are obliged to adhere to, but differing cultural norms, political wrangling and a rising nationalism seem to trump the moral position that all of us are equal. However, there is more to this than being just another day that NGOs can use as an excuse for a campaign: there have been some significant successes achieved by focusing their efforts.

Although progress is undoubtedly being made – for example, in 2018 same-sex relationships were decriminalised in India – it is important not to rest on our laurels. In the case of India, while the issue of sexual orientation is finally being confronted head on, the protections against caste-based discrimination are being eroded: the reservation system that gave ‘untouchables’, now more commonly known as Dalits, better access to education and employment has recently been diluted by the government’s decision to allow a quota of impoverished so-called ‘higher’ caste citizens to benefit as well. In effect this has downplayed the centuries of discrimination suffered by 25 per cent of the population, forced to do the most menial and dangerous of jobs for little or no pay, and ostracised by the rest of the community, to the extent where they are not allowed to share the same drinking water, study in the same schools or live in the same area.

Dalit Solidarity Network UK is part of the UK BOND Caste and Development
group which is soon to launch a new report on Caste and Development: Tackling Discrimination Based on Work and Descent. A caste-sensitive approach is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030 Leave No-one Behind. And its aim is to advance the SDGs for many millions of people across the world who would otherwise be overlooked.

So, despite the temptation to ignore the wider issues of the world, Zero Discrimination Day still has a major part to play on the road towards a global egalitarian society, and as individuals it is incredible what our actions can collectively achieve.

UK Government will repeal caste law

13th August 2018

The Government Equalities Office have finally published the results of the six-month public consultation on Caste in Great Britain and Equality Law, determining whether ‘caste’ should be included in the Equality Act 2010.

The consultation, launched in March 2017 and finished in September 2017, has at last been announced, one day before the beginning of Parliament’s Summer Recess, leaving little opportunity for pro-legislators to respond in a timely manner. Consisting of 13 questions, the crux of the matter was to find out whether caste discrimination should be included in Statue Law or remain under Case Law.

Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary for Women and Equalities, stated in parliament yesterday that “The Government’s primary concern is to ensure that legal protection against caste discrimination is sufficient, appropriate and proportionate.” Consequently, any future instances of caste discrimination will have to rely on case law. Her full response can be found at

After over 16,000 responses – well above the average – tragically, the government have concluded that ‘caste’ is already covered under ‘ethnic origins’ and that including the term in legislation is both unnecessary and divisive. In all, 8,513 respondents favoured relying on case law, 2,885 were in favour of legislation and 3,588 rejected both options; 1,113 respondents didn’t know or were not sure which option would be most appropriate. While pro-legislation campaigners have emphasised that this is not an issue of religious persecution, the Hindu and Sikh lobbies have seen it as just that. And despite the government’s reassurance that the analysis would be qualitative rather than quantitative, it appears that certain voices have been louder than others.

The consultation analysis seems to doubt whether caste discrimination exists in Great Britain, but this in itself creates a ‘Catch-22’: how are victims meant to report this type of discrimination if the crime is not recognised? The role of the government should be prophylactic, and clearly condemn caste discrimination in all its form via legislation, rather than waiting to see if any victims are brave enough to endure a court system that at present has only one piece of case law to reference.

Meena Varma, Director of DSN-UK, has expressed her extreme disappointment over the result: “It seems that the government has decided that the issue is not significant enough to ensure legal protection. The victims of this form of discrimination will continue to suffer, as the government refuses to acknowledge that the problem exists. Emerging case law cannot provide enough protection for those subjected to caste discrimination. It usually takes years and a mountain of cases before case law stands any chance being upheld in court. The tragedy in all of this is that it will continue to be a hidden problem as those seeking help will believe that there is scant legal recourse for them in Great Britain.”

For full details of the Government Consultation Response and Analysis, go to

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism visit to the UK

23rd May 2018

The Special Rapporteur (SR) on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, on Friday, 11 May 2018, concluded her official visit to the UK and issued her end of mission statement. During the visit the Special Rapporteur met with the UK government and Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales representatives. Ms Achiume also met with civil society in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast.

Dalit Solidarity Network UK made a submission to the SR prior to her visit to raise the issue of caste-based discrimination and attended meetings in London to further discuss the issues of lack of protection against caste-based discrimination in the UK. The SR took a note of it and included a paragraph in her end of visit statement:

‘In my consultations, it emerged clearly that most stakeholders largely view the formal UK legal framework governing equality and hate crimes positively. There are some exceptional concerns however, including: the decision by the UK Government not to bring into effect the provisions in the Equality Act 2010 regarding socio-economic inequalities and intersectional discrimination; and concerns regarding the legal status of caste-based discrimination.’

The Special Rapporteur will present her full report on the country visit to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2019. Ms Achiume will continue to accept submissions on the situation in the UK until November 2018.

In the meantime, we continue to wait to hear back from the government on the outcome of the Caste in Great Britain and equality law: a public consultation.

‘Dalit theology on caste Discrimination’ event in London

21st May 2018

On 25 April 2018, DSN-UK in collaboration with Amos Trust, Churches Dalit Support Network and with the support of the Methodist Church held an event in London on “Dalit theology on caste Discrimination”. Among the special guests was DSN-UK patron Revd Dr Vincent Manoharan from Tamil Nadu in India. As a keynote speaker Vincent spoke passionately about discrimination faced by Dalits in India. He outlined that Dalits face social, economic and political discrimination and violence.

A study undertaken in 2004 in the state of Andhra Pradesh, which status still continues, revealed that more than 140 forms of untouchability practices exist against Dalits, right from the remote village to metropolitan cities.”

Vincent highlighted that Dalits face various forms of atrocities, including:

killing, stripping naked/molesting/raping of Dalit women/pushing them as jognis-the temple prostitutes, forcing Dalits to eat / drink inedible or obnoxious substance like human excreta, maiming of limbs, destructions of homes and threatened to vote or not to vote to a particular candidate during elections”.

Dalits also continue to face deprivation as majority of them are poor, struggling to access basic goods and services such as land, education, employment, food, health, drinking water etc. Moreover, despite the reservations, policies and programmes directed at improving the situation of Dalits, their voices remain unheard and underrepresented in India’s politics.

Vincent also observed that caste-based discrimination against Christian Dalits exists with the Church in India. He noted that Dalits face discrimination within the hierarchy of the Church as well as in the Church based institutions. He ended his presentation by looking at the ways to end caste-based discrimination within the Church through practical theology.

Other two speakers were Dr Elizabeth Joy from the Churches Dalit support Network and Rev Dr Jacob Devadason.

The event in London was followed by two other events, in Birmingham and Manchester, where Vincent spoke on the same topic.

We are very thankful to the Amost Trust for their assistance in organising the events and Methodist Church for their support, without which these events would not have happened.

Caste in Britain by Annapurna Waughray

29th March 2018

As we continue to wait for the outcome of the public consultation on Caste in Great Britain and Equality Law, which closed on 18 September 2017, Economic & Political Weekly published an excellent article Caste in Britain: public consultation on caste and equality law by Annapurna Waughray. The author provides insightful commentary on why the UK government has not adopted a legislation outlawing caste-based discrimination in the UK yet and concludes that ‘Legislating against caste discrimination in the UK is not only contentious, it has become highly politicised’.


The author notes that ‘The next step in the legal regulation of caste discrimination in the UK is the government’s response to the public consultation. Its importance for the development of UK equality law and for legal treatment of caste discrimination in the diaspora cannot be underestimated’.

DSN-UK director shortlisted for a ‘Secularist of the year 2018’ award

19th February 2018

We are delighted to share that DSN-UK Director, Meena Varma, has been shortlisted for a ‘Secularist of the year 2018 award’. The award ‘recognises a campaigner or group for an outstanding contribution to the secularist movement’. The NSS’s council of management selected the shortlist from nominations which were submitted by its members and supporters. The winner of the prize will be announced at the Secularist of the Year luncheon on Saturday 24 March.

Meena has been nominated for her work as Director of Dalit Solidarity Network UK in challenging ‘caste’ discrimination – through research, academic work and public advocacy.

Meena said: “I am so honoured to be even nominated for Secularist of the Year 2018. The campaign to end caste discrimination is a global one and we stand side by side in solidarity with so many including the National Secular Society. Caste discrimination is a human rights issue and can only be addressed when it is seen through a lens separate to religion and when the rich and powerful are not the only ones to have the ear of governments.”

Over the last 10 years Meena led DSN-UK. The nomination reaffirms her strong expertise in caste-based discrimination issues in the UK and South Asia.

“Caste Aside” documentary

12th February 2018

A thought provoking documentary – ‘Caste Aside’ is due to be screened once again in London at SOAS University, on 27 February 2018. The documentary has been wonderfully made by highly talented producer, Priyanka Mogul and director, Damiano Patrucci. It features both pro and anti-legislation arguments on caste discrimination in the UK. ‘Caste Aside’ features DSN-UK Director Meena Varma, Dalit rights activists, Hindu community leaders, academics and lawyers, as well as those who feel they have been discriminated against on the basis of their caste here in Britain.

As we continue waiting to hear from the government on the outcome of the Caste in Great Britain and Equality Law: a public consultation, the screening and the panel discussions after the screenings offer a platform to hear both sides- their arguments, worries and experiences. From the last discussion hosted by Warwick in London and Warwick Policy Lab it became apparent that whilst pro-legislation activists are concerned about the protection of Dalit rights against caste-based discrimination and access to justice, the anti-legislation side remain concerned about such legislation’s impact on their communities and perceived attack on the Hindu religion. The arguments about the Vedas at the event and its potential inclusion of caste discrimination did divert the discussions to Hinduism. However, it has to be highlighted that as religious freedom is protected by the Human Rights Act the proposed legislation will not interfere with religious freedom and does not target any particular religion.

Those advocating against caste-based discrimination, including DSN-UK, agree that the most effective way to outlaw caste-based discrimination is to add caste to the Equality Act 2010. They believe that there is no guarantee that case law will develop to recognise caste as already covered by the existing laws. This uncertainty makes bringing a claim expensive, stressful and uncertain, and such burdens would likely be reduced if caste is simply inserted into the Equality Act 2010.

Those interested in the caste legislation in the UK are encouraged to visit and (the resources section).

DSN-UK patron receives OBE for his work to eradicate slavery

16th January 2018

Long-time supporter of the struggle for Dalit rights and campaigner against slavery, Dr Aidan McQuade, has been awarded an honorary British OBE order for services to the elimination of modern slavery. Aidan has devoted his life to the struggle to eradicate slavery and has been one of the most vocal and forward-thinking proponents of measures to address slavery across the globe.

Dr Aidan McQuade is a patron of the Dalit Solidarity Network – UK (DSN-UK) and through his many years as Director of Anti-Slavery International, has also been very involved in the work of the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN). Dr McQuade has been an invaluable contributor to the campaign against caste-discrimination, as a source of expertise, advice and an active driver of advocacy.

“We are thrilled to learn that Aidan is being awarded an OBE for what is truly a major life’s work to move towards a world free of slavery,” said DSN-UK Director, Meena Varma. “His unwavering commitment to tackling the discrimination that underpins slavery, is invaluable to the struggle to end it.”

The direct link between caste discrimination and slavery

Dr Aidan McQuade has persistently and continuously raised the clear linkages between slavery and caste discrimination – referring to it in many articles and presentations as ‘caste apartheid’ – in relevant global fora and in the global media. He has made valuable contributions to addressing caste-based slavery and labour abuses over more than a decade. He has always made a point of the need to address the structural inequalities that underpin slavery and has fought tirelessly, not only for the elimination of slavery, but also against the discrimination and inequality that continue to facilitate its existence.

The caste-related issues that Dr McQuade has addressed over the years include Dalit children working in child labour, labour rights legislation in caste-affected countries, manual scavengers, caste-based prostitutions and pervasive caste-based slavery practiced across many industries including in garment factories, brick kilns, domestic service, agriculture and many other industries.

Putting slavery on the global agenda

In 2015 the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were drafted and Dr McQuade contributed to the campaign to ensure that direct attention was given to modern slavery in these goals. The campaign resulted in a specific target of goal 8 calling for immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour to be taken and, and by 2025 to end child labour in all its forms.

Dr McQuade has on many occasions spoken at the UN level and through global statements on the need to address caste-based slavery and caste-based discrimination, and has continuously called for greater regulation of international business to reduce slavery in global supply chains. He was also instrumental in advocating for a new international protocol on forced labour that is considered a milestone in the fight against slavery, as well as the passing the Modern Slavery Act in the UK.

Dr. McQuade recently stepped down from his role as Director of Anti-Slavery International, but will continue to be a patron of DSN-UK. He is already a much sought-after expert consultant on the issues. And most recently, he has completed his first novel – An Undiscovered Country.  

We wish Aidan all the luck in the world for his future life challenges and opportunities and thank him for the support and commitment he has shown over the past decade to ending the global ‘caste apartheid’.