India`s caste system needs to be destroyed: Meira Kumar

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said the caste system in India has cuased "unimaginable harm" to the society and needs to be destroyed completely.

PTI| Updated: Oct 10, 2013, 22:56 PM IST

London: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today said the caste system in India has cuased "unimaginable harm" to the society and needs to be destroyed completely.

During a special lecture at Cambridge University?on `Parliamentary Democracy in India`, she spoke out against the stranglehold of caste and religious politics on the country`s electoral system.

"Caste system has caused and is continuing to cause unimaginable harm to the society. It needs to be destroyed completely and not encouraged to tighten its grip on our electoral system...Religion is another factor which plays a role in our elections," Kumar said.

"I firmly believe that any communal approach or activity is not beneficial for our secular fabric," said the daughter of former Indian deputy prime minister Babu Jagjivan Ram, who she described as a "crusader for social justice".

Kumar, who was invited by the vice-chancellor of the University to address students and academics, went on to trace the roots of the country`s political system.

"Democracy in India has, to some extent, emerged out of a mass movement of mind boggling dimensions, the kind of which, the world had not seen before," she said.

"Its depth and strength will grow with years because it has the support of the common man. He wants to continue his participation. In free India it gives him a sense of empowerment. Come elections and the man who otherwise did not count, suddenly becomes the most sought after," Kumar said.

The Speaker of the Lower House of India`s Parliament was on her way back from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting in Geneva, where she led the Indian delegation and highlighted concerns and views on behalf of the country at the forum of 162 sovereign state parliaments.

The senior leader was also invited to a special event hosted by India`s acting high commissioner to the UK Dr Virander Paul, in central London last evening where she addressed a gathering of diplomats and UK-based non-resident Indian entrepreneurs and business leaders on the India-UK relationship.

"This is my second visit to the UK in the last two years and I am glad to witness the rapid progress that has been made in our bilateral relationship. India and the UK are strategic partners. This partnership is rooted in age old ties and interlinked histories," Kumar said.

"Our multicultural societies have many commonalities, especially our unflinching commitment to democracy, human rights, rule of law and secularism. We seek to further cement our cordial relations," Kumar said.

"I am not surprised that India is the fifth largest investor in the UK. It is also the second largest creator of jobs in the UK. Your country is the third largest investor in India," she said.

"I am confident that together we will be able to take this engagement to still greater heights," she added.