In March 2010, a study conducted among the Asian British citizens confirmed: “There is clear evidence from the survey and the focus groups that the caste system has been imported into the UK with the Asian diaspora and that the associated discrimination affects citizens in ways beyond personal choices and social interaction.”
Britain may soon declare caste prejudice unlawful under laws against racial discrimination – becoming the first country of the world to do so. The House of Lords had already passed the Equality Bill empowering the government to treat caste as ‘an aspect of race’ in March this year leaving just one more step of getting it passed by the House of Commons to be enacted as law.
The Hindu caste system, like the Jewish superiority, is a religion-rooted racism. There are over 200 million lower-caste Hindus (known as untouchable or Dalit or Harijans) in India while close to 20 million living in other countries especially in the western countries. According to the Hindu religious philosophy, like Hindu women – were created to serve the upper three-caste Hindus (brahmin, kashtari and vaish).
Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who has been idolized as the champion of the cause of the low-caste Hindus – has been exposed as a hypocrite, who believed that Africans were no better than Dalit.
Last year, United Nations had declared caste-based discrimination as human righ violation. Several Christian groups in India has also raised the issues of discrimination in churches based on caste system.
Avinash Pandey Samar, a research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) in his research article, titled Casteism Is Racism, writes:
“Sadly, Indian caste system has proved itself to be one of the worst, if not the worst, system of social stratification for maintaining and perpetuating social hierarchies. Most probably, humankind has never devised a more comprehensive system of keeping a section of society under perpetual subjugation amidst inhuman conditions. It has never devised a worse way of dehumanising fellow human beings and reducing them to being mere labour force devoid of any dignity leave aside rights. Everything said and done, when it comes to committing atrocities on people, the caste system has proved itself to be far more clinical in brutalising its victims than race and not less.
The argument of the Indian government that caste based discrimination should not be included under the category of racial discrimination because it is making serious progress in the issue by having protective laws and positive discrimination fails miserable in the wake of data produced by its own agencies.
For example, the number of crimes against people belonging to the Scheduled Castes as per records of the National Crime Records Bureau of India, a body of ministry of Home Affairs, went up to 33615, an increase of more than 2 percent from the preceding year. Or the fact that the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act does not get applied even in such ghoulish cases of caste based atrocities as in the killing of a Dalit family in Khairlanji while committing brutal rapes on the women speaks volumes about the seriousness of the efforts of the government
The second argument of Indian government, unfortunately backed by a few leading sociologists, was that since ‘race’ is a not a meaningful biological category in India and all attempts of profiling different castes along racial lines have fallen flat. Their claim is that even if caste is based on descent it is entirely different from race.
Even if the discrimination against the Dalits is intra-racial, the consequences for them are no less brutal than that in racism. On a more fundamental level, the lack of ‘scientific’ evidence may prove the absence of ‘race’ in India but not the absence of ‘racism’, an ideological structure based on the belief of superiority of some people because of birth and inferiority of others because of the same! And there is no doubt that this ideology is becoming stronger day by day despite all the attempts of Indian government to put an end to this ‘evil’ practice.
The seriousness of the government on the issue speaks for itself in its acts. After all, the government’s dogged opposition to the inclusion of caste based discrimination does not come out of some failure to understand the ground realities out of sheer ignorance. It reflects the mindset and the psyche of the government and the people manning it. The stand of the government emanates from that pre-modern, barbaric and regressive social structure of caste that rules the country under its democratic façade. A facade that gets exposed more often than not by the deeds of all organs of the state, including its judiciary.
It is hard to believe that even judiciary can do that but even a cursory glance on its track records bear out the fact. Be it the highly misogynist and casteist verdict in Mathura rape case ((Tukaram V. State of Maharshtra, AIR 1979 SC 185) when the Supreme Court overruled the decision of the Bombay High Court convicting two policemen for raping Mathura, a 16-year-old girl because of the fact that the girl was an ‘illiterate and orphaned tribal girl’ and was of loose character by implication to the recent verdict of Maharashtra High Court in Khairlanji massacre, the judiciary has proved itself complicit in letting the government off its responsibility of abolishing caste based discrimination.
At times, ubfortunately, it has went all the distance to be part of the perpetuators ad not only accomplices of caste discrimination. Like in the infamous and stinking observation of the trial judge in the Bhanwari Devi rape case in 1995 that because Hindu scriptures do not allow upper caste men to touch a low caste woman, the accused could not have raped the Dalit victim. This case and many others have put our constitution to shame.
And that is why, compartmentalising the issue of caste into the ‘scientific’ and ‘cultural’ aspects and then prioritising the scientific ones to assert that caste is not race is not only incorrect but in fact a deceitful attempt to violate the spirit of the constitution of India if not the letters itself, and should be fought against from within and outside.
As a matter of fact, the meaning of the term ‘descent’ has been expanded to include ‘discrimination based on caste’ ,by the general recommendation number 29, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) 1969. Indian government will do well to remember that it is a signatory to that convention along with more than 170 other countries…..”