Dr Shashi Tharoor, MP, introduced the Anti-Discrimination and Equality Bill 2016 in Lok Sabha on 10 March 2017. I have advised him on the contents of the Bill. News coverage of and interviews on the Bill can be found here.
The Bill is an effort to respond, among other events, to Rohith Vemula’s tragic suicide, which has put the need for an antidiscrimination legislation back on the political agenda. India is amongst the few regimes with a constitutional commitment to a liberal democracy that nevertheless lack a comprehensive, multi-ground, antidiscrimination legislation. It seeks to realise Dr Ambedkar’s vision of a discrimination-free India. The Bhopal Declaration issued in 2002 seeking to chart a new course for Dalits welcomed ‘winds of change the world over’ towards inclusion and diversity and against discrimination. A conversation on the need and shape of an antidiscrimination law began after the Sachar Committee recommended it in 2006. While the UPA government did briefly consider setting up an Equal Opportunity Commission, the idea was quietly buried. Antidiscrimination law remains a key demand of groups representing women, gays, lesbians, transgendered persons, and persons living with disability. The policy debate on an antidiscrimination law has been going on for about a decade. It is hoped that the existence of a draft Bill will give concrete shape to this conversation and draw attention to details. The Bill should now be sent to a parliamentary standing committee for scrutiny and revision after a wide public consultation.