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Press Release

Response to the report ‘Caste System’ by the HCUK

Single Equality Bill soon to be presented in the Parliament for discussion, is designed to outlaw discriminations based on colour, race, religion, gender and age. Various organisations in the UK are campaigning to include Caste Based Discrimination (CBD) into the Single Equality Bill. But the Hindu Council UK produced a report to oppose its inclusion in the bill. The contents of the Hindu Council UK (HCUK) report are nothing but a travesty of facts, misleading and full of inaccuracies. Whenever somebody starts talking about discrimination based on caste, Indians particularly Hindus become defensive and tend to sweep this problem under the carpet and accuse others for giving bad name to India as a whole and to the Hindus particularly. That is exactly what happened with the Hindu Council UK report. Rather than condemning this evil and work to eradicate it, Hindus are cleverly defending it and accusing some of the organisations and individuals for either getting financial aid on the name of caste or converting Dalits to other religions. The report has been produced to exploit and take advantage of British ignorance about Caste origins and its evil practices to divert their attention from including the Caste Based Discrimination (CBD) into the Single Equality Bill.

India is perhaps the only country where a section of society is considered inherently so low and inferior that their mere touch pollutes others. Consequently they are forced to live outside the villages. Caste has become like a water-tight compartment from which neither anybody is able to escape nor enters into it. One is born into a particular caste; he/she will die in it. There is no way the castes could be exchanged. One born as an Untouchable will die as an Untouchable. It doesn’t matter how much wealth or status one has acquired in life, he/she will be looked down upon with contempt. Because of the religious sanction behind it, Hindus are following the tenets of caste, a graded inequality as a matter of their religious duty. For thousands of years, the notion of high and low, inferior and superior has been ingrained into their psyche. But Dr. Sharma has ascribed the ill-effects of caste discrimination to the British Raj and the various invasions and foreign rules in India, forgetting that the origin of Caste lies in the Hindu scriptures like Rig Veda, Gita, Ramayana and Manusmriti, which pre-date all foreign rules.

The doctrine of Hindu Karma maintains that whatever deeds are done in this life will be rewarded in the next life. Therefore to be saved from inferior rebirth, one has to follow one’s caste dharma (duties). The sacred literature provides ample evidence that respect for caste duty is one’s primary obligation. For instance, a Dalit’s hope of rebirth into higher caste lays in his perfect obedience of his caste duties and accept life time servitude of higher Castes.

Caste is a very complex problem. Though it’s a Hindu phenomenon, it has contaminated every religion whosoever came into contact with Hindu religion. Consequently all religions in South Asia are suffering from this disease.Caste is an institutionalised social discrimination. It doesn’t exist only in Indian subcontinent but has become a global problem. Unfortunately this evil system has also crept into the British society and is being spread rapidly. People from the Indian sub continent, who live in large numbers in the UK, practice the caste system. Caste is often advertised in the Asian periodicals for matrimonial purposes. Marriages are arranged in their own caste and sometimes they lead to forced marriages. The stigma and pressures attached to inter-caste marriages has given rise to suicidal tendency and other psychological illnesses. Either one or both involved in inter-Caste relationship are often subjected to verbal abuse and violence from other family members. Most of the religious places are cropping up on the caste basis. Caste is glorified in the popular music. CBD takes place by calling names such as ‘Choora’ and ‘Chamar’. These words are as derogatory as somebody calling ‘Niggar’.These names are traditionally associated with scavenging and leather which are considered low and dirty in the Hindu society. Though caste discrimination is wide spread amongst the Asian community, people are not coming forward to tell their stories in case they are looked down upon by others and lose respect. There are many caste Indians who firmly believe that their intelligence is inherited genetically via caste superiority. Caste is very much ‘alive and kicking’ within the Asian Diaspora. But the Hindu Council UK refuses to accept the reality and claim there is no such thing in the UK.

In the Hindu Council UK (HCUK) report, Dr. Sharma has carefully selected a few isolated verses from the Hindu scriptures to justify his argument regarding the division of society. He implies that 'chaturvarna’, (other name of caste) was not a bad thing at all. Doing this he justifies the division of society based on caste. The author mischievously overlooked hundreds of verses which condemn Dalits to their lowly status and directs the followers to keep them in that order. The report totally refuses to accept the ground reality and ignores their sufferings being inflicted from centuries and contradicts respected works done by various human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Anti Slavery Movement, Minority Rights Groups etc.

Because of globalisation and advancement in media, nobody is able to hide suppression for a long time. The Hindus, who have been successful in hiding this problem from the outside World for such a long time, today stand naked and exposed. In desperation they have produced an inaccurate and false report to oppose the inclusion of caste based discrimination in the forthcoming Single Equality Bill. If they are sincere in their efforts to oppose caste prejudice, they should be in the forefront for its inclusion in the bill so that this evil doesn’t spread and is nipped in the bud. Instead they have chosen to attack those organisations and individuals who are raising their voice against this menace. Clearly it reflects that they want to keep status quo and are not very keen to eradicate inequality based on caste.

To counter the misinformation and fallacy of their argument Mr. Chanan Chahal’s response Evil of Caste’ is a detailed examination of Hindu Scriptures and every point raised is rebutted and discussed.

The Hindu Council has chosen the path of being economical with truth. If they are a little sympathetic to Dalits and oppose caste discrimination, they should have made a public apology for the historical injustices done to the Dalits. The former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair has apologised for the British role in Slavery. Sadly, Hindu Council lacks intellectual honesty. Hiding behind a religious sentences or pointing fingers at others does not change the ground reality. Every Hindu has to be open about caste and understand what this has done to Indian culture, history and image and reputation and moreover to 150 million Dalits. Blaming foreigners for caste is nothing new. It is a discredited claim straight from the fundamentalist Hindutva school of thought.

Hindu Council’s deceptive attention is further exposed when they published a fabricated Statement from the Shri Valmik Sabha Southall. It is an unrepresentative view of the community and therefore they are guilty of manipulation. The actual statement from the said organisation has been reproduced in Mr. Chahal’s response for reader’s examination. The desperate attempt exposes HCUK and clearly shows the level they are prepared to go to stop the issue of caste being raised

Asians are making their mark in education, health, social services and industry where they have risen to a place of authority. In their managerial roles, they will be in a position to hire and fire and will be able to exert a lot of influence in matter of recruitment and promotions. That is the area where the Caste prejudice becomes so destructive and Dalits need protection from legal system. That is why there is a need to include caste in the Single Equality Bill.



- Arun Kumar


On behalf of

Federation of Ambedkarites & Buddhist Organisations, UK



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