Helots and Sudras

The Sudra varna of the ancient India, have been compared to the Helots of the ancient Spartans. No Spartan would intermarry with the Helots. Helots were disarmed but the Spartans, like kshatriyas were trained killers to perfection. Whereas the Ephors declared a state of war once a year, under Indian caste system the Sudra could be disciplined in a very violent manner at any time. It can be seen that with the exception of the pollution taboo of untouchability, which came later, the early Sudra servitude does bear some comparison with the helots of the Spartan state.

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Japan - Untouchability in

Untouchability in Japan

The concept of hinin (non-human) was first used in the Nara period (710-784) when a member of the nobility was labelled a non-human for taking part in a treacherous plot against the Emperor. In addition, those who escaped from labour or other services to the Imperial family were caught were also referred to as non-humans. Later, persons for economic reasons became beggars, vagrants or vagabonds were also called hinin.

There was a list of eta-hinin which in the order of prestige ran like the following; local chiefs of ghettos, blind masseurs, dancers, plasterers, monkey-showmen, stone cutters, umbrella makers, river boatmen, mountain guards, material dryers, writing brush makers, straw raincoat makers, puppet showmen and brothel madams.1

Hinin thus was originally a person in Japan who was disobedient by way of struggling for power or was completely powerless and was living on the edge of society and law. In either case he or she represented a threat to the existing law and order.

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Untouchability - Theories of

Untouchability – Theories of

There are many theories about the origin of untouchability. These theories range from historical, political, cross cultural anthropological, sociological, theological, economic and combination of many of these.  The fact that there are so many diverse explanations may mean that all such explanations lack some core understanding of this pollution taboo. It may be that the truth is a combination of correct aspects of many such theories. Examining some of these theories allow us to look at their strengths and weaknesses. It would be difficult to look at all such theories; nevertheless three broad categories of the most important ones are examined below.

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EIESR Report and Future of Caste in UK

National Institute for Economic and Social Research’s (NIESR) has recently issued a report confirming that Caste and Caste Discrimination exist in the UK. The Report by Hilary Metcalf and Heather Rolfe is titled Caste discrimination and harassment in Great Britain and was published officially on 16 December 2010.

A single line which may be very easily missed in a report Summary  is perhaps the most telling.

The line is:

Relying on the Indian community to take action to reduce caste discrimination and harassment is problematic.

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NEISR Report Shows Caste Discrimination in UK

National Institute for Economic and Social Research’s (NIESR) has recently issued a report confirming that Caste and Caste Discrimination exist in the UK. The Report by Hilary Metcalf and Heather Rolfe is titled Caste discrimination and Harassment in Great Britain and was published officially on 16 December 2010. The Report was commissioned by the UK Government.

The full report is avilable here.

A summary of the report is also available here.

Some of the excerpts from the summary are given below:

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