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Designed to Fail? Foundations of the Laws on Caste in India, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the United Nations

In examining the presuppositions that have led to the formulation of laws on caste at cross-jurisdictional and international levels, this project re-orients research on caste and law.

The UK, the EU and the UN have recently adopted processes to consider whether and how to address caste in legislation that recognises it as a form of discrimination. Contrary to popular belief, these developments do not take place in the context of a lack of legislation on caste in countries like India. In fact, caste legislation in India goes back 150 years and has been widened and strengthened consistently over the past 70 years of Indian independence. Ironically, the strengthening of caste legislation has seemingly gone hand in hand with the deepening of caste conflicts in India. If international legislation addressing caste is to succeed, it must answer why Indian legislation has failed. In examining the presuppositions that have led to the formulation of laws on caste at cross-jurisdictional and international levels, this project re-orients research on caste and law.

Principal Investigator: Dr Prakash Shah, Queen Mary University of London

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