Caste Aside; or, only some Hindus celebrated Diwali today


We here in Britain; English, Welsh, NornIrish, and Scots pride ourselves on obeying the Law. We expect those who come into our country to obey our Laws as well, but we are routinely useless at making sure that the Law is obeyed by all. As with many, I dislike intensely certain of these Laws, but because I am English, because I was raised and educated to accept that the only way to alter or change a Law was through the Democratic process, through political discussion within Parliament, and legitimate pressure from outside, change can be slow, too slow for some: but strangely enough, too fast for others

There are three names I wish to push past your eyes this morning, they are Pooja and Ajay ­Chandhok, and Permila Tirkey. You have probably never heard of any of these people, but, if as so many times past, you Google them, you shall find that Permila Tirkey was imported like a trussed turkey into the U.K. under the guise of ‘domestic servant’ by  Pooja and Ajay ­Chandhok. This professional couple, brought Permila into the UK to look after their new twins; to cook, to clean, to work all the hours which they demanded, whenever they wished, for virtually no reward at all.

 

Now Pooja and Ajay are not vicious criminals, they did not virtually enslave this young woman deliberately, they did not even think that the manner in which they treated Permila was unjust; they treated her as they, and literally millions of ‘upper-caste’ Hindus have treated Permila, and the 200-odd million Indians like her, have been treated for literally centuries in India. Long before British India, long before the ‘Raj’ ruled with British indifference; the ‘Untouchables’ were treated with disdain, disgust and even with a vicious ferocity because the ‘dirty Dalit’ had the impertinence to even cross a Brahmin’s path or shadow. The Caste system is Hindu in origin, mainly religious in nature, but, because of a steely resolve that nothing will ever change, Hindu India still holds 200 million Indians, but also ‘Dalits’, as unworthy of anything but the dirtiest and filthiest of tasks.

As an aside, I watched a first-class six-part BBC documentary on the Bombay (Mumbai) railway system, and how the trains are maintained, cleansed, segregated into women’s only carriages for their own protection and filled to crammed capacity, as the ordinary carriages are; but with the added virtue of not having any strange man’s body crammed up against yours on purpose. Unlike most BBC docs., the film showed the whole shebang, the trains designed to be maintained by ill-educated people, so that the average worker could understand how to renew or maintain vital safety equipment so easily accessible that virtually no skill was needed for the task The film also showed the huge expanse of the station itself, built mainly under Victorian-time British design and supervision, but allowing for Indian needs and traditions as well. It showed the Dabbawalas, the 50,000 carriers of the city workers’ luncheon meals from home to office; it displayed the modern signalling and switching arrangements needed for the vast network of long, short and commuter trains: in other words, nearly everything to do with the Bombay railways was shown, or explored. One thing, and one thing only, was shown as part of the general make-up, but wasn’t explained or explored; perhaps on purpose. The small army of female cleaners who literally swarmed onto the trains and track to clean the day’s sewage, filth and garbage were filmed, but the whole story was left unsaid. What was not explained was the fact that all these women, young, old, long service: were all employed for that service only: there would never be a promotion to a more gentler task, no sign that they would be moved to a different role. No folks, all those women, probably well-paid by Indian standards, will never be allotted any other role besides cleansing the toilets and the carriages, the filth on the tracks and the sewage on the lines because they were all ‘Untouchables’!

Some here at ATW may ask what the problem is? Has the young woman been freed? Yes, she has. Has she been compensated for her unjust detention and forced labour with a heavy fine from the couple who virtually imprisoned her? Of course she has. So why the fuss, why the post detailing foreign religious beliefs and civil arrangements in a country far away? Well, it seems as though the Hindu Caste system has been imported into Britain, and some 500,000 Dalits are routinely discriminated against because of the accident of their birth.

We have in Great Britain the Equalities Act, whereby no-one can be treated, in the workplace or indeed most everywhere else bar private homes, as less than equal to the next person. Whereas in general, equal treatment is guaranteed by Statute, the ONLY area where this is not the case is that of Caste Discrimination. Hell, they even held a consultation on whether Caste Discrimination should even be brought into the Act. Naturally, people like Satish Sharma, chair of the National Council of Hindu Temples want nothing to do with Caste legislation, stating that ‘its got nothing to do with Hinduism, its all the fault of the British’, which is a bit strong, even from a Brahmin.

I wrote myself some time back on the Dalits, and I finished with this observation:- I listened to the weasel words of the Brahmin contributor to that Sunday Programme, and I could not help comparing my thoughts to those of the great Playwright and Author himself, when he wrote, “Firstly, let’s kill all the lawyers’” Not, of course, because I wished that man evil, but because he spoke of the ‘great complexity’ of the problem; of the ‘great difficulty’ in removing this disgraceful, lunatic and truly hurtful religious discrimination from a large number of people who are suffering innumerable insults because of who their antecedents were some centuries ago!

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