Mainstream, VOL LV No 17 New Delhi April 15, 2017
Can Great Britain Discipline Caste Supremacists?
Wednesday 19 April 2017, by
Caste discrimination is not expressly prohibited under the UK equality legislation, although section 9 of the Equality Act 2010, as amended, requires the government to introduce secondary legislation to make caste an aspect of race, thereby making caste discrimination a form of race discrimination. The Coalition Government initially indicated that this legislation would be introduced in Parliament during the summer of 2015. (House of Commons Publications and Records, The Equality Act 2010: Caste Discrimination, November 21, 2016)
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, left for his successor, Theresa May, a festering legacy while demitting the august office. It is caste, an Indian cancer, threatening to invade British society. During the long course of colonial rule, the British in India never ever showed respect or concern for caste. Generally they were more keen to de-fang and kill it. They ridiculed and lambasted caste in various ways. But the migrant Hindus have almost turned their ‘home’ into a fertile ground for caste which can pejoratively be described a passive conquest of Great Britain. Cameron lobbied for the caste supremacists in his campaigns in the run-up to the British general elections of 2015. This underlines that they failed to put down caste even though that it has assumed a monstrous dimension there. Now they have either to defeat the cancer or suffer and live forever with it as an Albatross cross around their necks. If they defeat the cancer, the Dalits in the isle, more populous today than the upper castes, will happily stand by the British in their upright resolve. In 2013, section 9 of the Equality Act 2010 was inserted into the statute book by Parliament to make caste an aspect of race, and caste discrimination, a form of race discrimination. Queen Elizabeth had assented this amendment. The Hindu game-plan now is to derail the reforms.
British Dalits have been campaigning ever since for enforcement of the amended provision of Equality Act 2010 to redress discrimination they routinely face on the soil of UK. The Dalits are at loggerheads there with the Hindus as a result. The Hindus’ strategy seems to deny prevalence of caste in UK and have indulged in a blatantly false propaganda calculated to frustrate the secondary amendment in Parlia-ment. If they succeed, Britain will be the ultimate sufferer. In the comity of nations, the country will be known as the only state under the sun to shelter, harbour, and finally nurse a cancer that is at the root of discrimination, injustice and inequality in the face of fierce and sustained opposition from a section of its citizens.
Victim of Discrimination
Permila Tirkey got Justice
If therapy is administered with single-minded determination, make no mistake: the cancer will die down sooner than expected. The signs and symptoms are telling. A British Labour Tribunal has awarded a degree for compensation amounting to £183,773 @ £11 an hour favouring a tribal woman, Permila Tirkey, from Bihar in the ‘first caste discrimination’ case. The BBC news bulletin on September 22, 2015, captioned “Woman awarded £184k in ‘first caste discrimi-nation’ case”, announced that “Permila Tirkey, 39, was discriminated against because of her ‘low caste’. This is the first successful case of its kind in UK adjudicated against a Hindu couple, Pooja and Ajay Chandhok, her employers. The verdict has driven home the point unambi-guously that if the British political establishment today wants to strike down caste discrimination and end the caste system there, it will die in no time. The findings of the Labour Tribunal brought out the following:
[[<> (1) She worked an 18-hour day, seven days a week;
(2) She slept on a foam mattress on the floor;
(3) She was prevented from bringing her Bible to the UK and going to church;
(4) Her passport was held by the Chandhoks and she had no access to it;
(5) She was not allowed to call her family; and
(6) She was given second-hand clothing instead of choosing her own clothes.
In the BBC broadcast, the fiendish mentality of a privileged Indian against a poor working woman, victim of ‘violation of dignity’, came out in bold relief. This cannot make India proud. Tirkey’s barrister, Mr Milsom of Cloisters, said: “The government’s original rationale for refusing explicit prohibition of caste-based discrimi-nation was that there was no evidence of it taking place in the UK.” He said that the Tribunal’s “damning findings” had left that stance “untenable”, adding: “Where such discrimination exists its victims must be protected.”1 In the first place, why was Permila Tirkey recruited by the Chandhoks and taken to UK from Bihar? The Tribunal found that the woman “was acceptable to the respondents as their domestic servant, not because of her skills but because she was, by birth, by virtue of her inherited position in society, and by virtue of her upbringing... a person whose expectations in life were no higher than to be a domestic servant”.2 (Emphasis added by this writer) This is how first-world Indians degrade their country’s third-world citizens. Depraved as they are, these privileged men and women are virulent campaigners against the law for equality in UK. They strenuously claim to be treated at par with the White men but subject fellow underprivileged Indians to grotesque treatment. They have earned high publicity and attention abroad as being savages.
The Chandhoks have proved one point that India zealously guarded since the last two centuries as a secret. Mass illiteracy, mass ignorance and mass lack of awareness are goldmines for the Chandhoks and their ilk. The tribal woman has been deceived and deprived a sum of about Rs 1,49,00,000. This is the net gain of her British employer. A handful of them consider themselves to be the heaven-born guardians of the masses of the country. With careful calculation, they ensured that the universalisation of education was frustrated. Illiteracy, ignorance and blinding darkness keep the masses enveloped for ages for the benefit of the Chandhoks and their class. The British Labour Tribunal noted that the employers were looking for “someone who would be not merely of service but servile, who would not be aware of the United Kingdom’s employment rights”.
In India, tribal or Dalit women or men, when victimised, mean nothing to the big moneybags or caste supremacists. Nobody in authority is ready to record complaints from the victims. Day in and day out the victims face indignity in innumerable ways. Non-payment or under-payment of wages even at rates officially fixed are too common in India. The law-enforcers are actually protectors and patrons of the law- violators in India. But in UK the Hindu felons have been ordered to pay unpaid wages. Here lies the undesirable or unpredictable danger for the defenders of caste. In their country, they could have browbeaten, incarcerated even killed their victims and got away with it.
David Cameron did not implement the amended provision of the Equality Act 2010 in 2013 on the plea of wider consultations. He shelved enforcement of the law till the general elections 2015. The consultation has not started yet. And Hindus along with their lobbies have launched an all-out war against the Dalits to defeat every effort to make caste discrimination a punishable offence in UK. Falsehood, prevarication and white lies on an unprecedented scale are their plank in the anti-caste law campaigns which strangely did not embarrass Cameron and the pro-Hindu lobby.
The Indian Forum on British Media organised a debate in a committee room of the House of Commons on November 23, 2016. The debate was attended and addressed by pro- and anti-caste activists. The anti-caste supporters furnished horrific details of caste crimes committed against Dalits and other low caste Hindus in Britain.3
On January 18, 2017, the BBC reported the debate under the caption, “Why are UK Hindus against a caste law?”4 The bulletin described caste as “the world’s oldest surviving forms of social stratification”. However, some British Asians (read Indian Dalits) said they still experienced discrimination due to their caste. So, why, did the BBC ask: “Are so many Hindu bodies in the UK opposed to this being made illegal?” The upper-caste Hindu, with an angelical face, deny incidence of caste-based discrimination against Dalits there.
Fortytwo-year old Sudesh Rani, a Ravidassia, belonging to the lower end of the caste system from Bradford, while shopping at a super-market in the Home Counties two years ago, was subjected to abuses and discrimination. Two upper-caste women called her “a low caste chamar (a derogatory term used to describe an individual belonging to a low-caste), a dirty bitch”. Her son thereafter “kept asking— ‘Mummy, what is a dirty chamar? Is that a swear word?’” For any mother this is a heart- breaking experience. In an effort to sensitise the public, BBC exclaimed: “Cases like this highlight why caste legislation is needed in the UK.” Any right-thinking man will be anguished at such abuses Hindus can routinely hurl at Dalits and then deny it as an offence. In fact, every British Hindu firmly believes, like their country cousins, that he holds an unchallengeable and irrevocable licence in perpetuity to abuse, humiliate, harass, exploit and even kill, with immunity, a Dalit or a tribal without any rhyme or reason anywhere under the sun! Such men strangely also believe that they carry licence from their home to elsewhere across the globe, and no question will be asked about its divine sacredness and infalli-bility.
Blind Opposition from Upper-Caste British Citizens
One of the loudest British Hindu voices is that of Satish Sharma, chair of the National Council of Hindu Temples, in anti-caste campaigns. No Hindu temple ever has been liberal or free of bias, orthodoxy and hatred against the lower castes. He has invented a novel interpretation of caste. According to Sharma, “caste has been put around our necks”. Who have done it? “Our scriptures and our recent history up until a few hundred years ago didn’t have this caste system.......” Articulating the British Hindu attitude, which is firmly against the proposed legislation, Sharma said: “There is no justification for caste-based discrimination,” adding further that “the caste system has nothing to do with religion”. India’s popular daily The Hindu quotes him as saying that caste legislation on discrimination will be a “recipe for disaster”. 5 They do not believe that actually it is the caste which is the recipe of disaster.
Perhaps the Englishmen today are not as proficient in the fourfold caste system and religion as their forefathers during the life and times of the colonial rule. One would be at a loss to understand why the Rig Veda, Geeta,Ramayana,Mahabharata,Smirtis, etc. spoke so intensely, passionately and unfailingly of caste, if it was not a part of religion? Why did the Rig Veda propagate the chaturvarna vyvastha—Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra?
Satish Sharma is blind to see caste-based discrimination in UK. He feels there “is a lack of evidence for caste discrimination in the UK”. In fact, he lacks honesty to admit the truth.
Sir George Birdwood, ICS and a judge of Calcutta High Court, at the fag end of the nineteenth century, is quoted in the Discovery of India by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru: “So long as the Hindus hold to the caste system, India will be India; but from the day they break from it, there will be no more India. That glorious peninsula will be degraded to the position of a bitter ‘East End’ of the Anglo-Saxon Empire.”6 In their own circle men like Sir Birdwood were taunted as “Brahmanised Englishmen”.
London-based actor and activist Saundevan Aparanti asked: “Why there is so much opposition to the legislation which will guarantee human rights of the most vulnerable? Will there be opposition to rape? Will there be opposition against race?” Trying to allay the fears of those who thought that the anti-caste legislation would be detrimental to religion Aparnati said: “Caste supremacists are only obsessed with caste supremacy by any means possible including the use of religion... If anyone brings religion into the base it’s the caste supremacists, not the victims. For the victims it’s justice.”7
Bob Blackman, the Conservative MP for Harrow East, and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Hindus, felt that “The issue of legislation on caste has generated more interest and more involvement [from the UK Indian community] than any other issue I have ever encountered.” He opposed the legislation against caste discrimination as a punishable crime. The survey by an organisation of Trupti Patel, President of the Hindu Forum of Britain, found scant evidence of caste discrimi-nation. She was apprehensive that the legislation would — by making the young aware of their caste for the first time — create segregation, and even encourage people to make unfounded complaints against their employers. Patel is currently a Minister in the Theresa May Cabinet. A protagonist of caste, this was expected from her. Entrusting the accused with the task of daroga for prosecution and judge for trial of the of the crime committed by him is no wisdom! In such a situation the verdict is predictable.
A British scholar, John Zavos, believes that the organisations (comprising the National Council for Hindu Temples that represent 350 temples, Hindu Forum of Britain, Alliance of Hindu Organisations) campaigning for the Hindus, have collaborated in opposition to the parliamentary developments. In a statement in March 2013, the constituent organisations of the Alliance argued that the legislation was an ‘insult’ to ‘the progressive, peace-loving contributors to the economic vibrancy and prosperity of the nation ...the best integrated community in the UK’.8 Logic and argument of economic vibrancy and prosperity under the colourful package of development in India too helps sweep civil rights and human rights coupled with social concerns under the carpet to the advantage of the exploiters and privileged who are caste supremacists.
Government in Predicament
The National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) is the British official institute that had surveyed the incidence of caste discrimination against Dalits in UK in 2010. Its report furnished a sound basis for outlawing caste discrimination as a punishable crime in UK. The government now wants to go against the findings of its own organisation without valid reasons and justification. The Government Equalities Office released abstract of research findings no. 2010/8 under the heading “Caste discrimination and Harassment in Great Britain” as follows:
“Caste discrimination and harassment has not been explicitly covered by the British discrimination legislation. However, the Equality Act 2010 includes the provision that, by order of a Minister, caste may be treated as an aspect of race. This research was commissioned to help inform the Government whether to exercise this power. The research sought to identify whether caste discrimination and harassment in relation to aspects covered by the discrimination legislation (i.e. work, education and the supply of goods and services) exists in Britain. Evidence suggesting such discrimination and harassment was found.” [Emphasis added by this writer]
The aforesaid document, based on survey and study, furnished the evidence that caste discrimination or harassment relevant to the Equality Act 2010 had occurred.
These related to:
• work (bullying, failure to recruit, promotion, task allocation);
• provision of services (the provision of personal care, access to a day centre); and
• education (pupil on pupil bullying). Other examples relating to education (bullying by teachers and refusal of a place at a school) were also identified.
Evidence on other caste discrimination and harassment was also provided. The study identified cases where the evidence suggested that caste discrimination or harassment outside the remit of the Equality Act 2010 had occurred.
These related to:
• voluntary work (dismissal);
• worship and religion; and
• public behaviour (harassment in public places).
Caste discrimination and harassment were also reported in respect of political activity. At the extreme, caste prejudice and harassment resulted in violence.
The Hindu Council, UK issued a formal reaction on these findings on August 18, 2012. The Council’s logic in a nutshell was that “there is discrimination on various grounds such as race, gender, disability etc., and often, legislation is necessary in the interest of fairness to victims of discrimination. However, extending the scope of the Act to include caste within its scope in Britain without substantial evidence will be a big mistake. The approach should be to commission a proper research in the first place and then take measures through better education. As the report clearly acknowledges, there is no evidence to suggest the existence of large scale discrimination based on caste in Britain. Therefore we feel that to yield to the pressure group and to include caste within the scope of the Act will only rekindle the dying issue of caste.”9 Is the issue too easy to deny or bluff?
Participating in the debates George Kunnath, a lecturer in Modern Indian Studies at Oxford, pointed to the entrenched nature of the caste system and its ability to travel across both religious and geographic boundaries to pro-foundly impact communities worldwide. “It might express itself in different ways but caste discrimination is there,” he said. The campaign was not an “anti-religion stance” but about the “Dalit struggle for freedom and dignity....” “Britain will send a strong signal to the world that it does not tolerate discrimination,” contended Kunnath.
Speaking in support of the anti-caste legis-lation, Satpal Muman, Chair of Caste Watch, UK, criticised “the lies” being spread about the implications of the legislation by the pro-caste Hindu lobbies. “This is not about invading the religious and cultural space. It is purely targeted at discrimination in the public sphere.” He emphasised that “[protection against] caste discrimination is a human right”, underscoring that even if a small section of people believed in “the caste system it had an impact on the lives of people”.
Satpal succeeded in highlighting the ugly undercurrents and conflicts of caste, vilification, threats, intimidation against opponents and pamphleteering in the UK elections 2015 resorted to by the Hindus. These are usual homegrown vices carried by them to UK. He also informed that the Members of British Parliament, who had authored the caste legislation, were specifically targeted. Newsletters and leaflets were circulated. Newspaper reports emerged of people being physically attacked by the opposing people in North London. A letter written by an alliance of Hindu organisations, dated March 20, 2014, stated: ‘The word caste must not remain in Legislation, its continued use is an act of anti-Hindu racial and religious violence and prejudice of the highest order.’ On May 8, 2015 a newsletter was written advising Hindus as follows: ‘With the elections coming up in the UK there are many organisations and parties that are encouraging Hindus to be active by voting in this general election.’ It said: ‘But do not let it to be a blind vote. You should know the issue. For Hindus, for Sikhs and the Jains the caste laws in the equalities act is one of the biggest issues facing in this election. It is a main feature of the Dharma Rakshacampaign.’ It means that introducing caste in the legislation is an attack on the Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. The newsletter encouraged its supporters to ‘seek out MPs and vote against for supporting the caste legislation’. There was also a manifesto in 2014 issued by the Hindu Council, UK. In section 6 it stated that the “Hindu Council seeks repeal of the caste legislation”.
For the first time in the history of the British elections, according to Satpal, caste became a major factor when a section of Hindus and Sikhs, in the name of Dharam Raksha
protection of religion—launched a vociferous campaign to vilify parliamentarians. The caste supremacists accused the Archbishop, one of the champions of the caste legislation, of launching propaganda and ‘religious intolerance’. Raksha of Dharma, we must candidly admit, is incomplete until and unless religious institutions of the opponents are smeared. They further accused the British Parliament of a continued ‘colonial mind-set’, serving prolonged vested interests and ‘taking sides with the British colonialists and Christian propagandists.’10 Lo and behold! The devil is reciting the Bible! Obscurantists have taken fullest advantage of liberal democratic values, free speech, liberal environment and institutions there.
It is time Great Britain kills the monster straightaway; else the country will deeply repent. We may paraphrase what the afore-mentioned Sir Birdwood had said to portray the future of the isle. “So long as Britain resists the caste system, Britain will remain Britain, but the day they break from it, Britain will no more remain Britain. That glorious island will be degraded into a ‘obscurantist and orthodox West end’ of the Hindu country they once ruled. Make no mistake: the Hindus will turn it into a garbage dump.”
1. BBC, “Woman awarded £184k in ‘first caste discrimination’ case”, September 22, 2015.
3. M Ghazali Khan, ‘Caste Supremacists Oppose Anti-Caste Legislation in Britain’, The Milli Gazette Online, November 28, 2016.
4. Vishva Samani and Athar Ahmad, “Why are UK Hindus against a caste law?” BBC Asian Network, January 18, 2017.
5. The Hindu, ‘British Indians divided over anti-caste law’, London, November 25, 2016.
6. Quoted by Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, OUP, Third Impression, 1983, p. 247.
7. M Ghazali Khan, ‘Caste Supremacists Oppose Anti-Caste Legislation in Britain’, The Milli Gazette Online, November 28, 2016.
8. John Zavos, Representing British Hindus, posted on 20/08/2013 at 10:19 am. In Public Spirit.
9. Hindu Council UK Comments on the NIESR publication—‘Caste discrimination and harassment in Great Britain’ by HCUK Webmaster on August 18, 2012.
10. M Ghazali Khan, ‘Caste Supremacists Oppose Anti-Caste Legislation in Britain’, The Milli Gazette Online, November 28, 2016.
The author is a retired member of the IAS and former Vice-Chancellor, B.R Ambedkar University, Muzaffarpur, Bihar. He may be reached at biswasatulk[at]gmail.com