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Should the Caste System be Enshrined in English Law?

April 5, 2017

Main points:

- Law should protect against ALL forms of discrimination tested in law courts.

- Separate legal protection against “Caste” in English Law can be counter-productive.

- Sikhi rejects the Caste System and educates against all forms of discrimination.

 The Government is consulting “on how best to ensure that there is appropriate legal protection against caste discrimination.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

    The suggestion is that the protection can be given, either “ (a) by formally making caste an aspect of race in the Equality Act 2010 or (b) through developing case law in the courts and employment tribunals.” It is clear that by formally making caste an aspect of “race” in the Equality Act 2010, the system will be defined and enshrined in English Law. Is that desirable or wise?

In this game of caste politics, few pause to reflect on the outcome. It seems that while legal protection is being sought specifically against caste discrimination, the law stops short of banning the Brahmanic-Manuwaadic Caste System itself. The related study commissioned by the Government and undertaken by Hilary Metcalf and Heather Rolfe at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), glosses over the root cause of caste discrimination, which is firmly embedded in the Varan Ashram Dharma i.e. “sanatan” or ancient Vedic system, one of the main pillars of Hinduism.

To quote Prof. Gurtej Singh of Chandigarh: – “Hinduism is a caste based faith built painstakingly around the firm belief in human inequality and the notions of purity and pollution that attach to individuals by birth. Its rituals are grounded in the proposition to afford unlimited privilege to the ‘higher’ castes to exploit the labour and persons of castes deemed inferior. It has a hierarchical system of exploitation built into religious practises and ends up in Brahmins exploiting all other castes. “

Sources inform us that according to Rig Veda (X-10, 11 & 12), when the devtas divided the “Pursha” (universal being), then its mouth became brahman, arms khatri, thighs became vais and feet became the shudras (untouchables). Accordingly the work was divided between these four varanas as: brahman to teach Vedas and do yags and religious rituals etc and to receive charity; kshatrya or khatri for armed defence, to rule and to give charity etc; vais, the main work-horses doing agriculture, trade and looking after animals; and shudra -our main topic – to serve the three above by doing the most menial and degrading jobs.

To legislate against caste discrimination, it will be necessary to define what is “caste” in law. In other words, our next generations, who, otherwise are mostly ignorant or do not care much about caste, will be made aware by the law about what caste is! Is that wise? The Sikhs are faced with a dilemma!

Sikhs should stay aloof from the caste politics being played between Hindutva organisations representing Brahmanic high caste interests – regrettably supported by some Sikhs playing Indian politics – and those accepting and even promoting their caste labels while seeking protection under the law.

Perhaps the best Sikh response would be to let case law protect against all form of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

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  • Published: 133 days ago on April 5, 2017
  • Last Modified: April 5, 2017 @ 1:40 pm
  • Filed Under: News & Views