PRESS STATEMENT – EMFoundation – 27 July 2018
In line with our consultation advice offered on 14 May 2017 the Government has ruled against Caste legislation, which we held to be a divisive measure, but instead have opted for the emerging case law on any caste discrimination.
This is wholly complimentary to our advice given on 14 May 2017 and fully compliant to the needs of a just legal redress in case of any caste discrimination.
The case law is already there under the ethnicity subset of race in the Race Relations Act 1976, which is now consolidated under the Equality Act 2010 and has now been tested in two or more cases.
Both the Baigraj case and the Tirkey case were brought under caste discrimination where the Dalits as an ethnicity group were successful in bringing their cases for caste discrimination in English courts. The Tirkey case was actually an employment tribunal case but caste discrimination was successfully added to the case as an additional factor. It is another point that caste discrimination was not proved but the Court was able to consider caste discrimination under the law. The Baigraj case too was successfully brought under these case law provisions in the courts though the case did not conclude due to police disclosure technicality. However both these cases, although caste discrimination could not be proven, were successfully brought into courts under case law jurisdiction. This is the emerging case law.
Some of the Ravidassyia community members had argued for the legislation because they think it will be expensive to bring cases under Case law but we will extend our hand and resources to represent them in any discrimination case, if genuine enough on preliminary review, as any discrimination cannot be condoned or brushed under the carpet.
As we had informed in our last advisory statement that it was the Indian Christian Dalit groups who started this divisive campaign against our increasingly uniting Indian Hindu and Sikh communities as far back as the year 2000 and they continued their campaigns for this legislation as they had adversary religious and political motivations. As recently as January 2018 I was involved in a debate organised by Caste Aside under the Chair of the Warwick University in London, where the Ravidassyia community came across ‘warm’ towards me – some even hugged me afterwards for they liked what I had said – the Indian Christian Dalits however on the video link shown by Caste Aside vilified Hinduism and its scripture with caste being inherent in it as an evil problem.
The Indian Christian Dalit groups of Dalit Solidarity Network (DSN) and Voice of Dalit International (VODI) said the following, or words to the effect, against Hinduism:
“The Rig Veda divides people by high and low castes and with Brahmins as the Head of the body and Shudras or newly coined word Dalits as the feet of a person, that Hinduism in its most ancient scripture discriminates, it is evil.”
My response to their attack was that this could not be further from the truth:
“The human body is described as Purusha (Person) and the Earth that sustains it as Prakriti (Nature). In Hindu tradition Lord Shiva is likened to be the Purusha and his wife Goddess Parvati to be the Prakriti which when joined represent the One Being the infinite Brahm the absolute God, without name and form but associated with the first sound of Brahm at the creation of the Universe, Om or Omkar (Sikhism). In the Rig Veda the human body starts from top as the head for education (Brahmin’s vocation), the arms for defence (Kashtryia as warrior), the stomach for sustenance (Vaishya for merchant/farmer), and legs & feet for labour work (Shudra as labourer). Another Rig Veda verse says there is no one of higher or middle or lower status in the functioning of the Purusha, the person. And here is the conjoining spirituality: it is when the feet of the Purusha (i.e., of a Human Person) actually touch the earth which is Prakriti (Nature) that the spiritual civilizational cycle becomes complete for a fulsome society – the most highly learned person (‘Head’ in the Rig Veda analogy) can only find completeness through humbleness (‘feet’ in the Rig Veda analogy).”
This is something which is beautiful to the Hindus from the Rig Veda, a tenet of our interconnectedness to nature, ecology, Mother Earth but which the Indian Christian Dalits were using to condemn by using the caste hierarchical structures developed later through the passage of time. The Rig Veda’s Varna system of Vocations is the basis of what has been shown to be an enduring civilisation of the last 10,000 years because it was primarily based on ‘spirituality’, an eternal concept, a civilisation based not on acquisitions and materialism. Of course the Varna system developed into a hereditary Jati or Caste system later and along with it the hierarchies of a materialistic world but that does not mean the spiritual elements are totally lost. Today still you will find Brahmins, who would only live on alms and donation as a rule of their Dharma, if you donate them money they ask for its ethical route before accepting it. But the materialistic challenges are of course there and these are bound to take cultural roots also but it was wrong of the Indian Christian Dalits (DSN and Vodi) to condemn a world-religion’s holy book to advance their adversarial missionary agendas. In fact later I wrote to tell them that they were inciting religious hatred against the Hindu religion and then that video clip ceased to be shown and their campaign too quietened down, but the Warwick University in London witnessed it all.
The Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn MP and the Reverend Lord Harries, both of the Dalits APPG, and Baroness Sheila Flather, a secularist who comes from an Indian Colonial Raj wealthy merchant upbringing and has always been contemptuous of the Hindu commoner here vilifying even our national voluntary led faith bodies like the Hindu Council UK, were all staunchly vociferous proponents of the Caste legislation and may I please suggest that they learn from the present Government and their consultation which brought an unprecedented number of 16,000 respondents upon which the Government based its conclusions fairly and completely, not to mention qualitatively. The Reverend Lord Harries, otherwise a compassionate Christian though seemingly dispassionate to the British Hindus and Sikhs, would be well advised to target his calling to sort his own House in order first – please see our Integration Report on our website – www.emfoundation.org.uk – where the inequalities under the Equality Act 2010 remain rife.
Keith Porteous Wood, a long standing director of the Secularist Society which essentially rejects all religions says the Government’s response is to appease high caste Hindus – I always found him to vilify Hinduism and Christianity quite easily while he’d think twice about targeting other religions – but this could not be further from the truth. The Ravidassyia and Valmiki community members we work with are evidently pleased with the outcome. He deals with Indian Christian Dalit groups like the DSN and VODI – Ms Meena Verma of DSN, and a prominent Indian Christian Dalit, started her campaign in 2003 and started going round to our Ravidassyia and Valmiki temples to incite them of Hindu discrimination against them is short-listed to be the 2018 Secularist of the year. She runs the Secretariat of the Dalit APPG, All Party Parliamentary Group.
Shri Sat Pal Munan of Castewatch UK used to be a friend until he became Chair of Chastewatch UK and befriended Meena Verma of DSN and then suddenly he started lobbying for caste discrimination legislation. But his Ravidassyia community members who work with us reject Castewatch UK and I can safely say that the vast majority of the Valmiki community reject Castewatch UK as an organisation that does not represent them or their views in any way. Even the Castewatch UK’s previous Chair Shri Davinder Parsad after he left Castewatch UK had a very conciliatory meeting with me where he had warmed up to our stand of non-legislation though he said he could not issue a joint statement with me to that effect because of his past relationship with Castewatch UK – I went to listen to his own case of discrimination offering help but it turned out to be non-case and he himself ‘made-up’ with the person he thought had discriminated against him. This is a prime example of how our community cohesion works.
We are grateful to Prime Minister Theresa May and her Government for respecting our work on community cohesion and our communities’ integrative unity – including our very own, lovingly own, Ravidassyia and Valmiki communities – into the wider British culture we all love and in which we are brought up to aspire to equality for all.
We would welcome a repeal of this caste clause as soon as the Government is able to carry out its proposed next step, we are grateful to Lord Popat to have mentioned in the House of Lords the need to repeal the Caste clause. Caste in Britain is effectively an identity of a group of surnames, which is also expiring, and those Hindus and Sikhs who wish to keep that identity, perhaps it gives them some notional safety, do not discriminate against any of their fellow beings but rather they help each other out – you cannot legislate against peoples surnames, you cannot almost criminalise peoples surnames. But if someone does discriminate under what may be caste identity, (a group of surnames), then we have an emerging case law now to deal with it, as it should be with societal issues like these: Case Law which rigorously pursues a just outcome in what is a world-class British justice system.
Here are the links to the Government’s full response:
Penny Mordaunt MP the equalities minister’s statement: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-07-23/HCWS898/
Anil Bhanot OBE
[A Founding Member of Hindu Council UK – the Ravidassyia community and the Valmiki community has always been part of HCUK at the Director/Executive level, and these are some of the reasons I still remain in HCUK to simply ensure the right Governance and Representations are adhered to in line with our founding principles.]
Note: Contact Coromoto Power Febres (firstname.lastname@example.org) at EMFoundation on 020 8810 1664