Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/762/16568

From The Socialist newspaper, 24 April 2013

Caste discrimination: MPs side with oppressors not oppressed

Senan, Tamil Solidarity international coordinator

Hundreds protested outside parliament on 14 April to demand the outlawing of caste oppression in Britain.

A 2010 attempt to illegalise the discrimination suffered by many of South Asian origin was rejected by all three parties.

This time MPs again voted against adding caste discrimination to the Equality Act by 307 to 243.

In 2010 parliament accepted a compromise motion from Labour left John McDonnell to undertake research, which has now been published.

Outrageously during the recent parliamentary debate ministers, led by Lib Dem equalities minister Jo Swinson, continued to claim there is insufficient evidence of the extent of caste discrimination.

Not only has ample evidence been uncovered by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), hundreds of victims of this horrendous discrimination were outside parliament at the time. Further devastating testimonials were reported in the press.

The NIESR research showed caste-based discrimination in schools and workplaces. In one incident a student was refused entry to a school.

There are many complaints of upper-caste carers refusing to provide care for oppressed-caste patients.

Recently the tribunal case of Vijay Begraj, a victim of caste discrimination at work, was thrown out as the judge was given information that she claimed could have impaired her ability to provide an 'impartial' judgement.

During the case stones were thrown at the house of director of Castewatch UK who gave evidence.

There have even been murders related to mixed caste marriages in the past and mixed couples who want to marry still receive death threats. But the government refuses to take action.

While caste oppression can be largely invisible to wider society, it causes enormous pain to those subjected to it.

An estimated 400,000 'low-caste' people live in Britain. Swinson and those who opposed the amendment argued for education and not legislation to challenge discrimination - but both are necessary.

Caste is a remnant of feudalism, where society was divided into hierarchical groups, castes. People are forced to assume their caste by birth.

Hinduism acts as the backbone in preserving the caste system but it is also defended by those who enjoy the resulting privileges, such as those from the upper caste and those who use caste division to advance and defend their own interests.

Although caste discrimination is illegal in India, hundreds of low- or oppressed-caste people suffer every day.

Government allies

The debate revealed that the government, in defence of the status quo, is working closely with the very organisations that fuel caste oppression; the Hindu Council UK, the Hindu Forum of Britain and other organisations that are led by high-caste Hindus.

While claiming they don't practice 'untouchability', the Hindu Council defends it. A Hindu Council statement attacks those who criticise untouchability while ignoring discrimination in their own countries.

Incredibly they claim that: "There are now record levels of homeless people in the UK, who are analogous with the outcastes of Indian society.

"British menial workers seldom interact socially with those of the higher echelons". Of course poverty and inequality must be challenged in every instance.

Conservative MP Alok Sharma, who has travelled to South Asia to promote trade links, defends the Hindu Council vehemently.

He argues that "class discrimination exists, as do other forms of discrimination, but we follow other approaches for those, rather than legislation".

The accusation that class discrimination is often confused with caste discrimination is used by the Hindu elite to gain support.

They rely on the ruling class's ignorance of South Indian society, portraying Hinduism as a monolithic religion and India as a country of Hindus.

Atrocities committed by British imperialism in South Asia have also been used to argue that no one from Britain has a right to meddle in these affairs.

This is combined with the idea that 'communities' should have a certain level of autonomy.

In reality this means that an often conservative and right-wing leadership is consciously promoted by the main parties, New Labour in particular.

This has provided 'stewards' to maintain what Labour sees as block 'community' votes, and to hold back resistance to the discrimination working class and poor black and Asian people suffer in Britain.

However Dalits and other oppressed caste people in Britain have begun to raise their voices and to protest against the promotion of upper-caste Hindus by the government.

The growing protest has pushed some Labour politicians to act, at least providing lip service to their cause.

Neither the equality bill nor any anti-racial laws cover caste discrimination, leaving victims unable to challenge it legally.

Outlawing caste discrimination will encourage the victims of caste discrimination to come forward as happened after the outlawing of race discrimination.

However, as with legislation against racism, the law itself will not change the conditions and prevent discrimination.

In fact there is no doubt that the ruling class, unless stopped, will continue their collaboration with the feudal elite from each 'community', promoting inequality for their own economic and electoral interests.

See www.tamilsolidarity.org for a longer version of this article

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 24 April 2013:


Anti-bedroom tax

Stop the bedroom tax - Hands off our homes!

Organise to bin the bedroom tax

Waltham Forest victims of bedroom tax are 'up for a fight'


Socialist Party NHS news and campaigns

Stafford hospital: Massive march in support of NHS

United show of opposition to NHS cuts in Dewsbury

NHS: What we say


International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: Workers and Socialist Party


Socialist Party news and analysis

Break with Thatcher's legacy! - Socialist policies needed

Stop Gove hacking our school hols

Times Rich List: Super-rich get richer ... again

Why we're standing against cuts

20 years after murder of Stephen Lawrence

Scottish TUC supports 24-hour general strike against austerity

Edmund Schluessel elected to NUS executive

Caste discrimination: MPs side with oppressors not oppressed

Them & Us


Socialist Party workplace news

Unite - build a fighting union

Angry workers protest outside Ford's UK headquarters

The battle goes on at Thera

Usdaw: End the partnership!

Workplace news in brief


The Socialist; readers' comments

Cold, hungry, young and homeless

Responding to distortions about Liverpool's socialist council


May Day

May Day 8-page greetings supplement


 

Home   |   The Socialist 24 April 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Discrimination:

triangleFighting sexism: Positive discrimination - yea or neigh?

triangleAustralia: massive yes vote for marriage equality

triangleBosses say 217 years to close pay gap - workers' struggle can close it now!

triangleThe fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

triangleRefreshing, anticapitalist - but little pointing a way forward

Caste:

triangleTamil Nadu mass protests against state repression

triangleItaly: Establishment routed - workers alternative needed

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Opposing caste and race based politics

triangleIndia: student death exposes caste oppression

Britain:

triangleYork Socialist Party: Britain in 2018

triangleHackney Socialist Party: Britain today - How can austerity be defeated?

triangle100 years since women won the vote

Asian:

triangleNew play celebrates Grunwick strike

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Building trade unionism among Black and Asian people

India:

triangleCapitalism v cricket

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

14/2/18

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil youth march for justice

14/2/18

Foreign Aid

Oxfam scandal: we need democratic aid and working class solidarity

14/2/18

TUSC

Building support for Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in the local elections

14/2/18

EU

What we saw: Tory-Blairite EU love-in

14/2/18

Rents

Rent doubles in a decade: cap rents, build council homes!

14/2/18

Public ownership

McDonnell says Labour would put services 'irreversibly' in workers' hands

14/2/18

NHS

We can win the fight for the NHS

7/2/18

Labour

NHS - build the fightback

7/2/18

Labour

Corbyn's left must seize the advantage in Labour's civil war

7/2/18

Haringey

Haringey: now's our chance for a no-cuts council

7/2/18

Refugees

90 feared dead after migrant boat capsizes

7/2/18

Outsourcing

Capita in crisis: bring all outsourcers back in-house

7/2/18

Trump

Trump v NHS

31/1/18

NHS

NHS: use the 3 February protests as a launch pad for a mass movement

31/1/18

Davos

Capitalists fear for their system at Davos

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999