Press Communique

A Clarion Call to Enact an Anti Racial Law and a National Diversity Policy

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Control Arms Foundation of India in collaboration with Multiple Action Research Group and India Habitat Centre successfully conducted a panel discussion on UN Convention on Racial Discrimination: Time for India to Enact an Anti-Racial Law and National Action Plan on Racial Discrimination and Ending Sexual Violence on 5th December 2016 at Amaltas Hall, India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi.

Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network and General Secretary, Control Arms Foundation of India, speaking about the event said that the objective of the event is to unravel the issue of racism as well as ending sexual violence and act on it soon. Further she highlighted that after the Nirbhaya case in 2012 and the formation of an Anti-rape law, rape in India has increased. Lives of young infants as young as 3 months old are not secured. Every 22 minutes, a girl child, woman or a young boy is sexually assaulted.

Ms Anju Talukdar, Director, Multi Action Research Group, said that crime against women has doubled but the conviction rate has dipped. Recently, the conviction rate of rape is only 25%. Huge problem is with prosecution. Indian legislature only identifies rape by strangers as a crime although she noted that 95% of rape cases are not done by strangers. In this situation, Legal reforms are not the actual problem but the implementation of it.

Racism is not in the narrative but it is very much in the attitude and behaviour of the people. People cannot keep going to the high courts, and therefore there should be a statute in place. Legal reforms are a must. Lastly, she stressed that the start should come from us because as a democracy every good law in India comes from people.

Mr Ravinder Singh Pal said that we only look at national security as State security but rather we need to reconfigure that to public safety. The ties between the executive and the legislation should be made stronger in the country, e.g. the policing system and parliamentarians to ensure accountability. Public reporting by the media should also be strengthened.

Mr Nafees Ahmad, Assistant Professor, South Asia University, talked about reasons why we need an anti-racial law and said that implementation is a major problem, denial of CEDAW cannot be accepted. He questioned what the national government has done in this regard. They have ignored the Northeast of India and negated multiculturalism. And added that it is only with political motives and during election period, the issue of racism is picked up. Further he suggested, calls for a change in law enforcement agencies, change in legislature – both prevention and protection, change the education system, in order to understand the nation inculcate the history of Northeast India.

Mr Siddhartha Tripathi, Assistant Professor, Delhi University, argued that there are two dimensions of racism in India external and internal. Indians are also victims of racism in foreign countries but we have also become perpetrators of racism in our own country against our own countrymen. He emphasised on the issue of racism in India as being similar to that of an ‘invisible wound’. He called for sensitisation programmes to tackle the issue of racism. He further said that racism is learned and taught, and what can learned, can be unlearned.

India is a land of great diversity consisting of 29 States and 7 Union Territories. The term "Unity in Diversity" has often been used to promote country’s immense socio-cultural diversity and to bind people and states together as one. India has diverse communities settled in vastly different regions. It is extremely important to support and protect diversity because by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice, and by fostering a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic."Diversity" means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating difference.

There is a need to work on following things to address the racial discrimination issue:
The need for research to define the parameters of race and racial discrimination in India.
Awareness raising campaigns to comprehend discrimination in institutions and in everyday life.
Intensifying public education to incorporate tolerance and promotion of respect for other ethnicities.
Increased political participation in state of the marginalized societies.
A separate law which addresses the various socio-cultural-political and economic types of discrimination.
The need for accountability of law enforcing agencies.
Mechanisms to increase reporting, investigation, documentation and monitoring of cases of racial discrimination.
Programmes to provide reparations for the victims of racial discrimination.
Training programmes for public officials.
A National Diversity Policy against Racial Discrimination as an alternative plan to address racial discrimination.

The event was attended by government officials, academicians, journalists, researchers and civil society representatives.

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