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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, February 23, 2001: Human Rights Watch has criticized the Indian Government for discouraging debate over caste-based discrimination. The New York-based rights groups says Delhi is trying to avoid discussion of the issue at a major United Nations conference on racism in South Africa in August. Smita Narula, spokeswoman for the group, says Indian officials argued against including the topic of caste at a meeting on the conference agenda in Tehran earlier this week. The lower-caste Dalit community and a number of other South Asian groups are lobbying for the caste system to be discussed at the South African meeting. They argue that more international attention is needed on what amounts to hidden apartheid. Human Rights Watch says the caste system inflicts great social harm.