The first employment tribunal to deal with caste discrimination was dismissed recently after the judge ‘recused’ herself from the case. Sound like an ‘excuse’? With it, caste discrimination appears to have been ‘rescued’.
The caste system, a brutal remnant of feudalism, is based on discrimination against certain ‘groups’ who are considered to have a lower status in society.
According to news reports a young ‘inter-caste’ couple in Coventry faced systematic discrimination – 110 alleged instances – due to the ‘oppressed-caste’ background of the husband.
Vijay Begraj was allegedly called derogatory names relating to his caste status. A colleague told him he was lucky to have a job as a solicitor because in India he would be a cleaner.
When they sought justice, the couple found that they could not rely on the capitalist justice system.
The windows of the house of an anti-caste activist who gave evidence were smashed. The case collapsed after it was reported that two police officers involved in the case met the judge to hand her documentation.
Threat to lives
Caste violence is a real threat to lives. Last December in a small rural village called Dharmapuri in India 268 poor people’s huts were burned down by a violent mob of upper-caste men. Every year there are tens of thousands of victims of this brutal bigotry.
One prominent proponent of caste discrimination is the infamous Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi of the right-wing BJP, now tipped as the next prime minister of India and favoured by western governments for his implementation of neoliberal policies.
Caste discrimination exists in the South Asian communities in Britain. Hindu-only schools, promoted as part of the government’s undermining of state education, are run by upper-caste wealthy individuals and discriminate against those from an oppressed-caste.
Some Hindu temples in the UK prevent oppressed-caste Daliths entering the inner parts of the temples.
Inter-caste marriages often suffer violence. And, like Vijay, many oppressed-caste workers face prejudice in the workplace. This must be fought.
The Socialist Party says no to all discrimination on the basis of caste, race, sexuality, sex, religion, disability and all other forms of discrimination.
Caste discrimination must be recognised and challenged, including with trade union action.