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England – a Country with Royalty – Wants to Ban Indian Caste System

England – a Country with Royalty – Wants to Ban Indian Caste System

The rigid social stratification in India known as the caste system has brought some old and musty prejudices to the United Kingdom.

Oh wait — didn’t the U.K. already have old and musty rigid social stratification? You know, the earls and lords and dukes and barons or whatever it is fox hunters call each other over there, culminating in the Queen and her tabloid-fodder brood?

Nevertheless, a growing coalition of Brits wants to ban caste discrimination — the kind brown people practice against each other. There is no mention of abolishing the white nobility system the privileged have long used to keep other whites (and growing numbers of racial minorities) down. Apparently it is okay for the overwhelmingly white government to base membership in the House of Lords on the station of a person’s parents, but not okay for Indians to do the same to each other. Irony, anyone?

The hypocrisy beggared belief when the first arm of government to approve the anti-caste legislation turned out to be the House of Lords itself. It was like a proclamation: ‘only WE may discriminate based on ancestry. Everybody darker than ‘peach’ in the Crayola box must never believe themselves superior to anyone.’

To be fair, it’s true that the caste system is more insidious and damaging than a class system. According to an organization called CasteWatchUK, “Caste is determined by birth and cannot be changed. In a class based system there is ‘vertical mobility’ but this is denied in a Caste based system.”

Before I dig myself a bigger hole by pointing out everyone’s moral blindness, I’d like to take a station break here to announce that England is my favorite country outside of New York City (which might as well be its own country). I recognize that it is just as hard to pull oneself up by the boot straps in the U.S. as it is in the U.K. Just like the Brits, we over here on the western side of the pond are also prone to discriminating based on ancestry (although we measure primarily by financial assets, not whether a monarch gave your forebear a new name and a fairy-tale touch on the shoulders with a magical sword). End of station break.

Opponents of the proposed legislation argue that it is unnecessary because Indians do not discriminate against each other based on caste in the U.K. Apparently this contingent believes the trip from Southeast Asia to the United Kingdom washed away everyone’s caste and rendered them one big undifferentiated brown horde.

And maybe it did — in the eyes of white residents of Britain, who are unlikely to understand or care much about caste distinctions. But that doesn’t mean that those distinctions lost any vitality or importance to Indians. The BBC has found that the U.K. is home to caste-based discrimination (CBD), telling the story of a woman from a relatively low caste who routinely faces prejudice from other Indians in England.

Even the U.K. government acknowledges the occurrence of CBD. A spokesperson explained that the government opposed the proposed legislation banning CBD because it is not “the best way to tackle the incidents of caste-related prejudice and discrimination that have been identified.”

Speaking in favor of the legislation, a Labour spokesperson agreed that CBD is a problem in the U.K. “Studies confirm the caste system exists in the U.K., with over 850,000 people affected,” she said, “and the associated lack of caste mobility is inconsistent with moves to encourage a more cohesive society.” She called CBD a “known but hidden problem.”

It looks like the House of Commons will pass the ban and CBD will be officially outlawed in the U.K. But that is not the end of the battle: after passage comes enforcement. After all, India banned CBD in 1976, but it is still an everyday fact of life in many areas of the country.

Let’s see if musty old Britain is the right environment for killing off ancient systems of social stratification. Somehow I doubt it.


Related Stories:

Are We Living in a “Caste” Society?

In India, Women Killed for Relationships Outside Their Caste

God Help the Queen: A Monarchy Under Attack


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Photo credit: iStockphoto

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1:04AM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

I live in UK and have personally come across people of Indian Origin who practise caste system and Untouchability in UK. It is sad but does exist in UK.
Different caste people are not allowed to certain homes and jobs and marriages are based on caste, among Indians.
The sad thing is it still exists and results in the highest level of human sufferings and killings which is ongoing.

5:39AM PDT on Jun 9, 2013

i think what could be read between the lines is.....this is actually hurting many individuals on a daily basis....caste system etc are sucky,they always have been, they divide and separate people instead of embracing someone based on who THEY are as an individual!!! ridiculous sad but true, so ingrained into society for others blah blah blah geesh ruby do not be so quick to judge a writer holee smokes!!

9:42AM PDT on May 6, 2013

Indira Gandhi banned dowry's but they still exists and contribute to thousands of wife burnings every year.

1:37AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

Awkward ignorance here. Just to clarify as SO many Americans get confused. Britain and the Commonwealth has the Royal family. England is one country within that. England is NOT Britain. Britain is Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England. It really annoys the Scots, Welsh and Irish when people refer to Britain as England or vice versa. England is not an interchangeable term with Britain and if it was your favourite place you should know that. I'm assuming this article is a joke because I would hope Care2 wouldn't publish something this misinformed! Unfortunately some people might read this and actually think that we're ruled by our monarchy... So before anyone jumps to conclusions please do some research, yes we have rich people in our country and yes people used to fox hunt... until it was BANNED! Also, do some research on the House of Lords and the House of Commons and our government in general. By the way, you do know that we don't all have afternoon tea at 4pm everyday too right?

4:06AM PDT on Apr 26, 2013

Lead by example...? (remove the Royalty and Nobility).... yeah, right.

8:47AM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

So what is the purpose of this article, if any?

5:48AM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

Having spo0ken with Ms Hoffman via Twitter, I can confirm the tone of this article is meant to be taken as JOKING
So there you go, not very clear at all and has the majority of commenter's annoyed by the article.
Maybe make things like this clearer in future Care2?

5:35AM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

lol, what a nonsense article

3:17PM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

Why is it that so many here aren't even reading correctly the article? It is NOT about the Caste system per se. That is an ongoing problem in India and is for the Indians to address.

This is about the continuing application of the Caste system by some immigrants to the U K.
No different to the extremist Islamists who wish to impose their moires into any society to which they flee from their own repressive countries. As Salman Rushdie said. with words to the effect. "Why do they flee from a oppressive culture then insist on bringing all that baggage with them?"

8:39AM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

someone remind me NOT to read any more inaccurate and factually incorrect 'articles' of bad journalism from this Piper lady again
I live in the UK and couldn't be more insulted by her use (or misuse) of language!
Royalty is in our history going back hundreds of years so why does that even come into the conversation when she is talking primarily about the Caste System of India.
The article just smacks of sarcasm and sheer nastiness, rather than trying to get to the bottom of an issue or support/deny an issue.

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