Religion, terrorism and caste oppression in South Asia

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“Religion, terrorism and caste oppression in South Asia”

Thursday, 25 August, 2016 starting 5:15 pm

 at Institute of Advance Legal Studies, University of London

Spread across South Asia is a group of forgotten people numbering in the hundreds of millions. Despised by their countrymen and viewed as subhuman, even the shadows they cast are believed to be cursed. These people are the Dalits, the lowest of the low. Mostly, nearly 300 million live in India. For centuries the Dalits - or Untouchables – are at the bottom of Indian society. They have been subjected to most degrading and dehumanising abuse. The caste system (Varna) is an integral part of Hindu religion and Dalits are beneath the Shudra and rejected right from their birth.

At London Institute of South Asia (LISA) we are deeply concerned about the plight of Dalits and the indigenous people of India. Apartheid came to an end through a movement of people of many nations with one voice and one message – that apartheid is wrong. We believe that the injustice of the Dalits is the biggest human rights issue in the world today. It will take a similar movement of ordinary people to tackle this extraordinary oppression that has affected millions of people for thousands of years. The injustice of the Dalits is the biggest human rights tragedy in the world today.

It is indeed dreadful how in the name of religion, people have justified apartheid, slavery, religious extremism. It is appalling how the world is not paying enough attention to religious intolerance and extremism in form of Hindutva in India. India is too big to be ignored and so is the issue of Dalits and minorities.

Eminent leaders, scholars and Dalit activist will be discussing this issue: -

  1. How and why in the name of religion, people have justified apartheid, slavery, religious extremism, and caste based discrimination?

  2. What can be done to establish Dalit Rights?

  3. Is Hindutva a real threat to Dalits, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Adivasi of India? If so why enough pressure has not been put on Indian government to contain the rise of religious extremism in India? What can be done?

  4. Is it possible to annihilate caste?

  5. A separate electorate for Dalits – will this help?

  6. How do you see Dalit freedom in 2020?

  7. Why world forum like the UN and various human rights organisations have failed Dalits?

  8. Analyse and discuss solution(s) to eliminating caste-based discrimination? What should be the role of UN its affiliated bodies and world powers in tackling this issue?

On our panel we have some eminent scholars and activists:-

VT Rajshekar (Writer, intellectual, activist and founder of Dalit Voice based in Manglore India)

Professor Kancha Ilaiah ( Academic, writer and activist at Maulana Azad National Urdu University Hyderabad, India

Alan Hart- Chair ( Researcher, author and a presenter worked as a correspondent for ITN’s News At Ten and the BBC’s Panorama )

Clive Hambidge (Human Development Director at Facilitate Global a London based human rights NGO)

Eugene Culas (Director Voice of Dalit International)

Robert Gallimore ( Teacher, researcher, documentary film maker)