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The Observer: British ‘failing India’s lowest caste workers’

Oliver Morgan
Sunday June 24, 2007

Leading British companies are being accused of supporting a system of apartheid in India by failing to ensure that they treat members of the country’s lowest caste equally.

The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), which campaigns on behalf of the caste, pejoratively known as ‘untouchables’, says UK companies with operations in India are not monitoring their staff and are refusing to sign up to positive action to combat the problem.

Dalits are often excluded from work in India and do not have the educational opportunities available to India’s middle classes. The IDSN has approached Standard Chartered, which employs 15,000 people in India, HSBC (25,000), Shell (10,000), Barclays and ICI and asked if they monitor recruitment and workforces. It also asked them to sign up to the 10 so-called Ambedkar principles, which enshrine affirmative action against discrimination.

In most cases, the companies said they had global non-discrimination employment policies which required them not to ask about caste backgrounds. HSBC said it had started monitoring in April, and had signed a non-discriminatory code monitored by the Confederation of Indian Industry.,,2109899,00.html and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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