caste discrimination doesn’t take place in the UK?
widespread is Caste Discrimination ?
difference have you made so far?
members do you have?
Who is Dr
B. R. Ambedkar?
What is CasteWatch UK?
UK is an independent and voluntary organisation. Its membership
is drawn from all community groups. It is a non-denominational,
non-sectarian and a secular organisation.
main aims are to raise awareness of Caste discrimination in the
United Kingdom and to strive for appropriate legal, social and
What is Caste?
Caste is a
system of social stratification. Sociologists define
Stratification as ’structured inequalities between different
groupings of people’.
associated primarily with cultures of the Indian sub-continent.
The term ‘Caste’ itself is not an Indian one, coming from the
Portuguese casta, meaning ‘race’ or ‘pure stock’. Indians
themselves do not have a single term for describing the caste
system as a whole, but have a variety of words referring to
different aspects of it, the two main ones being varna and jati.
The varna consists of four categories, each ranked differently
in terms of social honour. Below these groupings are the
so-called ‘untouchables’, - those in the lowest position of all.
The Jati are locally defined groups within which the caste ranks
are organised. Jati is coupled with one’s occupation and the
meaning of varna in Sanskrit is ‘colour’ that signify a social
category or a social classification. It is used to enforce a
social stratification but does not mean colour of skin.
of ‘structured inequalities’ arose out of the interaction of
different races co-mingling in ancient India and the rise of the
priestly class. The priestly class in their search for an ideal
society formulated a hierarchical social order, placing
themselves at the top as agents of Brahma(god) and ascribing to
each occupation notions of purity and pollution. The social
hierarchy was further strengthened by imposition of severe
penalties on those transgressing rules governing their
occupation. A dogma of pre-destination was devised carrying
religious sanctions where communities were treated inferior or
superior on grounds of birth. This dogma rested on the
proposition that those in the lower social strata are there as a
result of having committed sins in ‘former lives’.
consequence of immoral actions in 'former lives' those born in
the lower social strata must do penance in this life. If they
perform their duties in this life as prescribed by their jati
then the individual will be rewarded by being born in the higher
social strata in the ‘next life’. Once born into a jati you die
in the same jati. The caste system is devoid of all notions of
vertical mobility and hence is distinct from a ‘class system’ in
which vertical mobility is permitted. Caste is a system of
What is Casteism?
discrimination (Casteism) is the worst form of racial
discrimination. Racism is based on color of skin(inter-racial)
whereas Casteism combines inter-racial and intra-racial forms of
Casteism is religiously sanctified racism.
Surely Caste discrimination doesn’t take
place in the UK?
Yes it does.
As you know, over the last few decades there has been a gradual
increase in population of those who have arrived in United
Kingdom from the Indian Sub-continent. These communities have
settled here and also brought with them their own social habits,
norms and religious customs such as the institution of Caste.
evidence to suggest that Casteism is gradually and firmly
embedding itself into British society. A BBC Radio 4 programme
“Caste-Divide in Great Britain” broadcast in April 2003
highlighted the following issues:
are given a glib overview of Casteism in schools, that fudge the
underlying religious tenets and unjustness of the caste system.
The curriculum makes no attempt to explain that casteism
surpasses apartheid in terms of “applied discrimination”.
barriers are creating problems in places of higher education
with large number of South Asian students;
number of the Indian Diaspora are actively perpetuating caste
system in United Kingdom.
INTER-CASTE MARRIAGES ARE FROWNED UPON, IF NOT FORBIDDEN
PLACES OF WORSHIP ARE DIVIDED ON CASTE LINES
ARE BULLIED IN SCHOOLS THROUGH NAME CALLING. SOMETIMES THIS
LEADS TO VIOLENCE
MASQUERADES AS ENTERTAINMENT IN PUNJABI BHANGRA MUSIC. THIS KIND
OF MUSIC S REGULARLY BROADCAST ON RADIO AND TELEVISION
MANIFEST ON THE FACTORY FLOOR; PUBS AND CLUBS USUALLY THROUGH
CHAUVINISM AND SOMETIMES DIRECT DISCRIMINATION RESULTING IN
How widespread is Caste Discrimination ?
According to the 2001 census,
out of the various ethnic minorities present in Britain, there
are around 149,000 Buddhists; 558,000 Hindus and over 1.6
million Muslims; 336,000 Sikhs.
Although, no quantifiable
research has been done on Caste Discrimination in the UK, over a
million people are affected – at least in notional terms.
Caste manifestly plays a part
at least amongst adherents of Hinduism and Sikhism – despite
Sikhism being an egalitarian faith. Amongst the Muslims it takes
a form of Clan rivalry and manifests in honour killings when
social rules are breached.
What difference have you made so far?
Please see History of CasteWatchUK
How many members do you have?
secular organisation, CasteWatchUK has attracted support from
numerous individuals and organisations who provide significant
input in varying degrees depending on the issue that need to be
tackled or highlighted.
include Parliamentarians, academics, journalists, economists,
community leaders and those working in the field of social
Who is Dr B. R. Ambedkar?
Ramji Ambedkar is internationally recognised as the emancipator
of the Untouchables and the chief architect of the Indian
Constitution, within which are enshrined values and special
protection for the development of the downtrodden masses. Dr
Ambedkar championed the civic and political rights of the
Untouchables and ushered a social revolution based on
once wrote of the ideals of a social democracy. He said that, "A
democratic form of Government presupposes a democratic form of
society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value and
would indeed be a misfit if there was no social democracy".
Addressing the Plenary Session at the Round Table Conference
held in London on 20th November 1930 chaired by the British
Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald to discuss Indian Independence ,
Dr Ambedkar impressed on the British that it must be recognised
that Indian Society is a gradation of Castes forming an
ascending scale of reverence and a descending scale of contempt
– a system which gives no scope for the growth of that sentiment
of equality and fraternity so essential for a democratic form of
Government . It must also be recognised that while the
intelligentsia is a very important part of Indian Society, it is
drawn from its upper strata and although it speaks in the name
of the country, it has not shed the narrow particularism of the
class from which it is drawn.