Caste Discrimination in India


Professors Smita Narula and Jayne Huckerby listen as an IHRC student speaks at the launch of CHRGJ’s report, “Hidden Apartheid”

More than 165 million people in India continue to be subject to discrimination, exploitation and violence simply because of their caste. In India’s “hidden apartheid,” untouchability relegates Dalits throughout the country to a lifetime of segregation and abuse. Caste-based divisions continue to dominate in housing, marriage, employment and general social interaction—divisions that are reinforced through economic boycotts and physical violence.

Working in partnership with the International Dalit Solidarity Network, India’s National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, and the Gujarat-based Dalit grassroots organization Navsarjan, IHRC works to hold the Indian government accountable for its systematic failure to respect, protect, and ensure Dalits’ fundamental human rights.

In 2007, for instance, the IHRC issued a series of statements and a report based on its analysis of India’s failure to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure Dalit rights, despite the existence of laws and policies against caste discrimination.  The report Hidden Apartheid—which was produced in collaboration with Human Rights Watch—was released as a “shadow report” in response to India’s submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  IHRC also participated in proceedings related to the Committee’s review of India’s compliance with the Convention and presented the report’s findings.

Relevant Documents:

Report:  “Hidden Apartheid: Caste Discrimination against India’s Untouchables” (2007)

Briefing on “Hidden Apartheid” (2007)

Letter to Indian Prime Minister (by HRW and IHRC, 2007)