Article published in 2013


(The Caste Lobby in UK: Should Caste Discrimination become a law in the UK?)

Throughout history people have challenged and fought one form of suppression or other. Human beings have always tried to dominate their own species and non human species. This urge to dominate can be noticed amongst toddlers in nursery schools. At every step in an individual’s life one will have to fight many battles. By fighting these battles an individual discovers his or her inner strength and scales new heights. At some stage in our lives we have all faced prejudice and human nastiness! However we do not allow these problems to develop into a victim psyche. Caste is a fact of life in India just as class is a fact of life in UK. The Hindu caste system is based on the idea that there are four psychological types of human beings. The intellectual, warrior, mercantile and artisan type.  An individual born in any one of these types of families will be genetically prone to excel in his or her psychological type. In a class of thirty students all four types of individuals will be found. These four types of people working together would form the basis of a progressive, healthy society. None are considered higher or lower. However in any long established tradition and Hinduism has a history going back tens of thousands of years, negative and corrupt practices creep in. The caste system became an instrument of oppression. Hinduism has a very robust system of producing reformers who challenge the established orthodoxy. Unfortunately India was colonized first by the Mughals for almost 800 years and then by the British for almost 200 years. For almost a thousand years Hindu thought process stagnated and the colonial occupiers sought to divide the society wherever possible.  By the beginning of 19th century a renaissance took place producing brilliant reformers and freedom fighters. From spiritual leaders like Swami Vivekananda to political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi all urged the masses to challenge the victim psyche and fight for their rights. In 1947 when India became independent caste discrimination was outlawed. A huge programme of positive discrimination in favour of oppressed classes is in place in jobs and education. The lower castes or the Dalits have held some of the highest positions in the country and continue to do so. A lot more needs to be done. In a democratic country like India change comes through evolution not revolution. Those of us living in UK wish India well in its attempts to eradicate inequality in all its forms. What baffles us is the raising of the caste issue in UK. A vociferous lobby is claiming that caste discrimination is rampant in UK.  If one takes a close look at the statistics provided they do not inspire much confidence. It seems people who were contacted were already of the mindset that they are victims of caste discrimination. Aspersions have been cast over teachers, doctors and nurses without any proof whatsoever. These professionals have no means to defend themselves. They are guilty on grounds of shaky statistics. If anyone who is being discriminated against it is the vast majority of Hindu professionals and businessman and women. A radio station manager is accused of demoting a person due to her caste. Without hearing the manager’s side of the story how can an individuals account be accepted as a case of caste discrimination? Calling someone derogatory names on grounds of caste is certainly wrong just as it is to call derogatory name on grounds of race. But how do you legislate against a small minority of people shouting abuse? For caste discrimination to exist here in the UK the dominant caste would have to wield an absolute economic and political power. The approximately 2 million Hindus in the UK have no such clout. This country already has quite robust anti discriminatory laws. Hindus would not be able to discriminate against anyone in the allocation of jobs, education or any other field even if they wanted to. No one is barred from Hindu temples in UK. So why one wonders is there a clamor for introducing caste in British politics? Caste discrimination law will be a meaningless law. The new government is keen to dismantle unnecessary laws and it would be prudent to scrap this wholly unworkable and phony proposal. On the other hand if the government does go ahead with making caste discrimination unlawful in UK it will be a pyrrhic victory of the caste lobby as it will not change anything on the ground neither will it impact India in any negative way. It seems that some individual almost revel in being victims! Blaming others is sometime an attempt to hide our weaknesses and failures! This country has given us all ample opportunities to prosper.  All you have to do is abandon the victim psyche!

Nitin Mehta MBE

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