VII. Article 4: Eradicate propaganda inciting caste-based discrimination

Article 4: States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention…

In its periodic report, India indicates that “[n]o cases have arisen under the…legislations for inciting racial disharmony or disseminating ideas of racial superiority.”146 The absence of such cases must be questioned in light of the existence and activities of the Sangh Parivar, which serves as the umbrella organization for Hindu nationalist organizations in India, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), and the VHP’s militant youth wing, the Bajrang Dal. In addition to being responsible for discriminatory attacks against Dalits,147 these organizations disseminate propaganda targeting both Dalits and religious minorities.148 While these organizations bear collective responsibility for widespread violence against Muslims and Christians in India,149 these abuses are outside the scope of this Report. Concerning the dissemination of anti-Dalit propaganda, D.B. Parmar, a Dalit social worker in Gujarat, told Human Rights Watch in 2003 that the VHP had circulated pamphlets demonizing Dalit community members and calling on VHP members to attack Dalits. The VHP has also actively promoted community enmity between Dalits and Muslims.150 The political wing of the Sangh Parivar, the BJP led the Government of India in alliance with other parties between 1998 and 2004;151 this close relationship is indicative of both a failure to condemn groups that disseminate caste-based propaganda and potentially of the requirement under Article 4(c) of the Convention that State Parties shall not allow public authorities or institutions to promote or incite discrimination. 

146 Government of India, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Periodic Reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CERD/C/IND/19, paras. 58-63.

147 Illustrative of the discriminatory attacks led by the VHP, on October 16, 2003, in Jhajjar district, Haryana, five Dalit youths were lynched by a mob, reportedly led by members of the VHP in the presence of local police officials, following false rumors that the Dalits had killed a cow—an animal regarded as sacred in the Hindu religion. Nearly a month later five people were arrested, prompting a backlash by villagers who pelted police with stones and blocked off roads for nearly a week. The VHP reportedly also forced shops, businesses, and schools to close in protest of the arrests. A local leader of the VHP was widely quoted in stating that he had no regrets over the incident and that the life of a cow was worth more than that of five Dalits. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2003, p. 240, (accessed February 7, 2007).

148 The Sangh Parivar and the BJP’s Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) ideology has also led these groups to conduct a campaign of hate against Muslim and Christian communities, which has included the spreading of discriminatory propaganda and violent attacks against Muslims and Christians. See, e.g., Human Rights Watch, We Have No Orders To Save You: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat, Vol. 14, No. 3(C), April 2002, pp. 39-46. Christian institutions and individuals have, for instance, been singled out and targeted for their role in promoting health, literacy, and economic independence among Dalit and tribal community members. A vested interest in keeping these communities in a state of economic dependency is a motivating factor in anti-Christian violence and propaganda. Human Rights Watch, Religious Intolerance and the Rise of Hindu Nationalism, (accessed February 7, 2007). Discriminatory attacks have also been carried out against minority religious communities in the name of fighting religious conversions of Dalits. “Tod-Phod: A Credo that Works,” Times of India, July 2, 2000.

149 Human Rights Watch, We Have No Orders To Save You: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat, Vol. 14, No. 3(C), April 2002.

150 Human Rights Watch, India, Compounding Injustice: The government’s failure to redress massacres in Gujarat 2003, p. 58, (accessed February 7, 2007).

151 Human Rights Watch, We Have No Orders To Save You, p. 39.