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Navya Shastra reacts to US House Resolution on Untouchability

Troy, Michigan--July 27, 2007--Navya Shastra, the international Hindu reform organization, whose goal is to raise awareness of and eradicate caste-inspired discrimination in Hindu society, acknowledges the good intentions behind Concurrent Resolution 139, passed in the House of Representatives on July 26, but once again questions whether the resolution will have the desired effect.

The United States and India have a strong relationship that extends across many spheres of cooperation, premised on shared values in the equality of citizens and the sanctity of the rule of law. While Resolution 139 acknowledges this, it fails to note the positive steps India has taken to eradicate all forms of social discrimination, including the longstanding policy of reservations for former untouchables in educational institutions and in public sector employment. It also fails to take into account the very many Dalits who have risen to high positions within the Indian state, including a former President of India, the current Chief Justice of the Indian Supreme Court, and the current Chief Minister of India’s largest state.

In addition to government programs, many private citizens and local organizations, both secular and religious, within and outside India, are actively engaged in combating social prejudice. Failing to acknowledge these agents of change may create a defensive reaction among the Indian people, and thwart the ultimate aim of the Resolution.

On the other hand, the Resolution’s mandate to US businesses to abide by a non-discrimination policy is most welcome, and we urge US businesses to implement hiring practices similar to those laid out by India’s lawmakers which strive to represent India’s diverse population.