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Activists support "Untouchables" at big conference in India


Anti-globalisation activists who have gathered in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) for the World Social Forum have rallied for an end to discrimination against minority groups, such as those born into the Dalit caste in India.

SBS Television News reports:

Dalits occupy the lowest rung in the Hindu caste system, and, despite affirmative action policies for the past few decades, they still find it hard to move up.

"We have seats reserved for us in colleges and in Parliament, but getting there is difficult because most Dalits are poor and have to work to get through the day," said Jollana Dinan, a Dalit from southern India.

The caste system was outlawed in 1955 but remains prevalent.

Dalits have marched through the streets of India's financial capital with their feet chained to symbolise oppression.

"We have rights too," read a placard held by a member of the untouchable caste.

In Bihar, a poverty-stricken and lawless state in India's north, caste disputes have accounted for more than 5,000 deaths in the past decade.

Around 100,000 delegates from around the world have converged upon Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, for the annual forum, which this year includes seminars on racism, caste and labour.

SOURCE – FULL STORY:
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21 Jan 2004