Valmik Sabha Demands Apology
Shri Guru Valmik Sabha Southall UK has demanded an apology from the Hindu Council UK. So what is behind this unusual demand?
Post Hindu Council UK Report, Shri Guru Valmik Sabha UK sent a letter to the Hindu Council UK asking for an apology for the insult offered to Shri Guru Valmik Ji as well as distortions contained in the Hindu Council's Report.
Hindu Council with its various interconnected Hindutva organisations, have nothing to offer to UK Dalits. This is continuation of historical tradition in which the 'high' caste Hindus offered nothing but servitude to the so called lower castes. It may offer hypocritical 'equality' to chosen few but that would be in keeping with its assimilation tactics in theory but giving very little if nothing in practice.
Hindu Council UK is in a state of denial regarding the caste discrimination in both India and in the UK. Whilst the caste Apartheid in India is well documented, discrimination based on caste in UK is not. This situation is bound to change as Dalits both in India and in the Diaspora will demand their rights with more and more effort.
Hindu Council's report on the caste system has come under attack from various Dalit and non-Dalit Groups. One such group is Dalit Solidarity Network-UK which is part of an international network campaigning for recognition of the problem of caste discrimination and action for its eradication. DSN has closely co-operated with the British Government
The Hindu Council has adopted some strange tactics for opposing all such measures. For example the Hindu Council has accused the DSN of an attack on Hinduism. Hindu Council should have taken the trouble to read Ambedkar before they made this accusation, they could have saved themselves the bother of writing something which had been refuted more than half a century previously.
"There are people who argue that caste can be abolished from Hindu society. I deny that. Those who advocate such a view think that caste is an institution like a club or a municipality or a country. This is a gross error. Caste is religion." from Mr Gandhi and the Emanicapation of the Untouchables - page 43.
Caste is of course cornerstone of Hinduism, which was also the law in the past even during the Muslim and the British rule.
We would like to add that it was Hinduism that had taken upon itself to declare Dalits as "born slaves, polluted and their women fit for not even marriage - only as vessels of pleasure". These scriptural diktats are reflected in the modern Indian society as bonded labour, untouchability, atrocities on Dalits, devadasis temple prostitutes and the constant threats to Dalit women's honour. Hinduism had hardwired such diktats in its scriptures as the Hindu elite benefited from such oppression imposed on Dalits. The following copied from the Human Rights Watch organisation report provides some idea of the ground reality in India
Over 100,000 cases of rape, murder, arson, and other atrocities against Dalits are reported in India each year. Given that Dalits are both reluctant and unable (for lack of police cooperation) to report crimes against themselves, the actual number of abuses is presumably much higher.
India's own agencies have reported that these cases are typically related to attempts by Dalits to defy the social order, or demand minimum wages and their basic human rights. Many of the atrocities are committed by the police. Even perpetrators of large-scale massacres have escaped prosecution.
An estimated forty million people in India, among them fifteen million children, are bonded laborers, working in slave-like conditions in order to pay off a debt. A majority of them are Dalits.
According to government statistics, an estimated one million Dalits are manual scavengers who clear feces from public and private latrines and dispose of dead animals; unofficial estimates are much higher.
The sexual slavery of Dalit girls and women continues to receive religious sanction. Under the devadasi system, thousands of Dalit girls in India's southern states are ceremoniously dedicated or married to a deity or to a temple. Once dedicated, they are unable to marry, forced to become prostitutes for upper-caste community members, and eventually auctioned into an urban brothel.
To have some idea of the caste discrimination in the diaspora, please follow this link for a briefing paper prepared by the international Human Rights Clinic, New York, University School of Law.
We have taken the liberty of reproducing 2 paragraphs from the above briefing paper in order to illustrate the strength of caste in Diaspora. This should not come as a surprise, as we in the UK are but a pale reflection of what goes on in India. In the age of golbalisation Asian people in the UK are but an extension of the family back in India. In such circumstances it should not come as a surprise that caste is alive and well in the UK. It should be noted that "caste no bar" is a coded term for the socio-economically equivalent castes and it does not apply to Dalit castes when the term is used by the so-called high castes. And when the Hindu Council in their Report talks about preference to marry within one's own caste it is another euphemism for family/relative/caste peer pressure to marry within one's own caste on threats of ex-communication, which is one of the most powerful social weapon which has been tested for over thousands of years. In this instance for the caste discrimination to disappear in the Diaspora must remain a "distance dream".Â
The area where discrimination is most common amongst the South Asian diaspora is the social prohibition against intermarriage between castes. Although this is less prevalent than in India and views are changing amongst second and third generation members, matrimonial sections of the ethnic and wider press still show a preference for marriage within oneâ€™s caste. A glance at many of the matrimonial websites demonstrates this as there is a section for caste in the profile. Many suitors do list their caste although a few say it is â€œno bar.â€Â At the Suman Bureau, one of the UKâ€™s oldest matrimonial agencies, caste is still a strong factor. Many lower caste members would prefer to marry someone from the same background, for fear of being victimised. In the UK, even those who do not have their marriages arranged, are taught the importance of staying within oneâ€™s caste. Those who ignore this can find themselves cut off from their family andcommunity. In the US, it is perceived to be easier to marry outside oneâ€™s race in the US rather than outside oneâ€™s caste.
This is also reflected in the matrimonial ads placed in Malaysia by the minority Indian community and marriage brokers may be expected to take caste into account when finding suitable matches. One researcher observed that, "Caste has, indeed, such a strong hold in marriage matters that inter-caste marriages between different categories of higher caste status sometimes do not take place with parents' approval, much less between higher and lower caste members. Abolition of caste discrimination in this area remains a distant dream."
In such cases for the Hindu Council to claim that caste systen is some kind of a lifystyle choice is a question of not what the actual truth is but what the Hindu Council UK wants others to believe.
It is in this context, that Hindu Council's attempt to portray some Dalits as working with the HinduÂ Council and therefore portray Dalits as Hindus has backfired. Hence the Valmik Sabha's demand. Kudos to Shri Guru Valmik Sabha.