Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Caste-based discrimination

Delivered in Plenary - 10 October 2013

Mr President

Caste discrimination is clearly unacceptable. It is a serious human rights violation and it is for this very reason that this Parliament has been calling for action to address caste-based discrimination ever since 2007. However, we must, when addressing the issue, take into account the entrenched cultural and historical roots that caste has in certain societies, particularly in India, where we are up against 3 000 years in which the Hindu caste system has been the basis of organising family and society. We must also not fail to recognise the great efforts that the Indian Government has made to tackle this problem, where we can point to a whole host of positive discrimination policies that are in place to address the historical injustices of caste discrimination, schemes which apply right up to the highest levels of government, including a former President who was a Dalit.

This report raises some very crucial issues but, ultimately, I am afraid that I cannot support some of the potentially disproportionate and heavy-handed remedies that are suggested, so I and my Conservative colleagues abstained.