Caste discrimination – Lord Avebury

Guest Contributor
rally in parliament square

Lord Avebury at rally in parliament square

In the closing days of the session that has just ended, the Government were defeated twice in the House of Lords on an amendment to the Equality Act, inserted into the Enterprise Bill, to make caste a legally protected characteristic.


Ministers then gave in, so that after years of campaigning by organisations representing the Dalits in the UK – numbering more than a hundred thousand people – they will have the same rights under the law as those who suffer discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

An amendment to the Equality Bill in 2010 had given the Government power to add caste to the list of protected characteristics by order, but in the three years that followed, Ministers offered a series of excuses for refusing to invoke the power.

There was no consensus for the measure amongst those likely to be affected by it, which turned out to be the whole of the Hindu and Sikh communities and not those on the receiving end of discrimination.
There was insufficient evidence of the extent of this type of discrimination, though research they themselves had commissioned from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research had uncovered that evidence. Moreover, they acknowledged that if there were only a few cases, the victims were entitled to protection.

There were other solutions such as education and conciliation, they said, which could be a more proportionate response. But many of us are old enough to remember similar arguments being used against protection from racial discrimination, before Roy Jenkins’ legislation of 1976.

And finally, it was suggested that compliance with this proposal would impose disproportionate burdens on industry, a spurious argument since caste is being treated as an aspect of race, with which employers are familiar.

But now, following the Government’s concession, the Secretary of State is required to bring forward regulations to include caste as an aspect of race within 2 months of enactment of the Enterprise Bill.
Contrary to the feelings expressed by some Hindu and Sikh organisations, this is not a reflection on their communities as a whole, any more than the prohibition of racial discrimination is a reflection on all indigenous Brits.

Caste discrimination may be rare in the UK, but it would be remarkable if a practice that has proved difficult to eradicate in south Asia was not part of the cultural baggage that some migrants brought with them from the region.

Society’s condemnation of the phenomenon, outlawed under the Indian constitution since 1950, is now belatedly also part of UK law.

4 comments for “Caste discrimination – Lord Avebury

  1. maude elwes
    30/04/2013 at 11:18 am

    This is another attempt at division by those who come to this country dissatisfied with its tradition and laws as they are.

    What will bringing this into British law do for those who don’t suffer ‘cast distinction’ or even understand its concept in race. This is another import along with other unacceptable social expectations found wanting in the British way of life right here. The Commonwealth is an entity unto itself. We already have laws against discrimination or the tormenting of one person against another we do not need more ‘legislation.’ The legislation is already there.

    Where this lobby needs to look is back where this all began and turn their energy on removing this nonsensical situation from its roots. It is not a British pastime, it is a cultural issue far removed from this island.

    What next? Who will be the special group of tomorrow costing us all a fortune? It is simply another money making, suit finder or fight between social deviants to be taken up and forced on the people of this country. It was brought here, again without the people of this country having much knowledge of what they were in for or with our permission to inject. Let Tony Blair and his crew sought it out and pay for its problems himself. Get his money to fund the social services and the quango that is gong to be in force from this new victim cry. This is a matter for the society in which these people group. They were born into it in their country of origin. What possible reason do we have for adopting a separate and ‘special’ group of 100,000 when we could pick hundreds of thousands of reasons to make our own traditions less painful for those who originate from these islands. And who, in the main, are happy with it here as it is.

    Which, I will remind you, is why they are seeking another way out of this political stalemate we have by turning to UKIP in their droves. We will end up stuck with that crew because of actions like this insanity. And you will all be to blame, yet, you will, as you do now, deny responsibility.

    How any of you managed to get academic notoriety is the biggest enigma this country needs to investigate. As it is this that is taking us to the dogs of defeat.

    All we are fit for now is as poodles of the American war machine and harbouring the drones they savor. Whilst trying to hide it from us all who will be put into danger as a result of it. Why are we wasting time with this when we have real issues to worry about and deal with urgently.

  2. MilesJSD
    30/04/2013 at 4:10 pm

    The qualifying-question always to be returned to is surely
    “How equal are individual human-beings; and in what order of priority are human-beings’ Lifeplace Needs & Hows to be decided and provided ?”
    (Quite distinctly and independently separated from Workplace needs & hows).

  3. GaretHugHowell
    30/04/2013 at 6:53 pm

    Society’s condemnation of the phenomenon, outlawed under the Indian constitution since 1950, is now belatedly also part of UK law.

    The phenomenon of caste or the phenomenon of its condemnation? I am still not clear on the subject. Must try harder.

    The phenomenon is that in India it was institutionalized whereas in the W Europe for example it was done much more discreetly.

    How can people who discriminate themesleves by being untouchable, complain about not being touched?

  4. MilesJSD
    04/05/2013 at 2:34 pm

    Alas! the “cultural baggage” we are still leaving in all countries inclouding England, Scotland, Wales, Ulster, and ‘Greater-London’,
    is that every member of the British Establishment, right down through every member of the middle-classes and upper-working classes,
    is several-times more than one-human-being and must be remunerated as a number-of-human-individuals.
    As one ‘Blagger’ might advise:
    “Stop kidding yourself and everybody-else that you are more than just one human-being” !

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