Friday, August 14, 2020

After 73 Years of Independence, Caste-Ridden India Remains Dominated by Minority Brahmins

After 73 years of independence, a small upper caste Indian minority retains near monopoly of the highest ranks in both the Indian government and the private sector. A few well-educated Indian Muslims and low-caste Hindus can not escape caste-ism even when they move to work in Silicon Valley.  Over two-thirds of low caste Indian-Americans report being discriminated against by upper caste Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley, according to a report by Equality Labs, an organization of Dalits in America.  Dalits also report hearing derogatory comments about Muslim job applicants at tech companies. These revelations have recently surfaced in a California state lawsuit against Silicon Valley tech giant Cisco Systems.

Upper Caste Domination:

It is not just the 220 million Dalits (untouchables), or the 190 million Muslims, or the 110 million from “scheduled tribes” (Adivasis)  who are under-represented, but also the 40-50% of Hindus who come from the widest tier of the pyramid, the shudras or laboring castes, known as Other Backwards Classes (OBCs), according to a report in The Economist Magazine. Here's an except from The Economist:

"Out of the 89 highest-ranked civil servants in the central government, according to a recent survey, just four are not upper-caste Hindus, and not one is an obc. Two-thirds of the Supreme Court’s 31 judges and more than half of all state governors are high-caste Hindus. When the home ministry recently formed a panel to revise the criminal code, its five experts were all men, all from north India and all from upper castes. The trend is just as stark outside of government. A study published last year of the mainstream Hindi and English press revealed that out of 121 people in senior jobs, such as editors, all but 15 were upper caste. Not a single one was a Dalit."

Indian Caste System


Caste Discrimination in Silicon Valley:

The few well-educated Indian Muslims and low-caste Hindus can not escape the upper caste domination even in Silicon Valley. Over two-thirds of low caste Indian-Americans are discriminated against by upper caste Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley, according to a report by Equality Labs, an organization of Dalits in America. Dalits also report hearing derogatory comments about Muslim job applicants at tech companies. These revelations have recently surfaced in a California state lawsuit against Silicon Valley tech giant Cisco Systems.


Religious Discrimination:

Both caste and religious discrimination are rampant among Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley. Back in 2009,  there was a religious discrimination lawsuit filed  against Vigai, a South Indian restaurant in Silicon Valley. In the lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, Abdul Rahuman, 44, and Nowsath Malik Shaw, 39, both of San Jose, alleged they were harassed for being Muslim by Vaigai's two owners, a manager and a top chef — a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

According to the complaint, restaurant personnel regularly used ethnic slurs such as "Thulakkan," a pejorative term for Muslims in Sri Lankan Tamil dialect, to harass the two Muslim cooks. Also according to the complaint, restaurant staff were encouraged to call the plaintiffs by names such as "Rajan" or "Nagraj" under the pretext of not wanting to upset customers who might stop patronizing the restaurant if they heard the men referred to by their Muslim names.
Modi in Silicon Valley

The complaint also stated that the plaintiffs were forced to participate in a religious ceremony despite telling the owners it was against their Islamic beliefs. The complaint alleged that the restaurant owners insisted on their participation and proceeded to smear a powder on their foreheads, making the religious marking known as a "tilak."

Upper Caste Silicon Valley

"Dominant castes who pride themselves as being only of merit have just converted their caste capital into positions of power throughout the Silicon Valley," says Thenmozhi Soundarajan of Equality Labs. Vast majority of Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley support India's Islamophobic Prime MInister Narendra Modi. Modi held a huge rally at a large venue in Silicon Valley where he received a rousing welcome in 2015.

Caste vs Race in America:

Contrary to The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) that includes discrimination based on caste, most Indian-Americans argue that race is not caste . Dating back to 1969, the ICERD convention has been ratified by 173 countries, including India. California’s lawsuit reinforces that caste is race. It will now make it harder for companies to ignore caste discrimination. While the US has no specific law against the Indian caste system, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed the lawsuit against Cisco using a section of America’s historic Civil Rights Act which bars race-based discrimination. Here is an excerpt of an article published in TheWire.in on the lawsuit recently:

"In October 2016, two colleagues informed John Doe, a principal engineer at Cisco, that his supervisor, Sundar Iyer, had told them that he (Doe) was from the “Scheduled Castes” and had made it to the Indian Institute of Technology via affirmative action. “Iyer was aware of Doe’s caste because they attended IIT at the same time,” said the case. The suit says that, when confronted by Doe, Iyer denied having disclosed his caste. In November 2016, Doe contacted Cisco’s HR over the matter. Within a week of doing so, Iyer reportedly informed Doe he was taking away Doe’s role as lead on two technologies. Iyer also removed team members from a third technology that Doe was working on and reduced his role to that of an independent contributor and he was isolated from his colleagues, the lawsuit says. In December 2016, Doe filed a written complaint with HR on the matter."

Summary:

Indian society is caste-ridden. A small upper caste Indian minority retains near monopoly of the highest ranks in both the Indian government and the private sector. after 73 years of India's independence. Caste discrimination is also rampant among Indian-Americans and NRIs (Non-resident Indians) in Silicon Valley with 67% of low caste Indians reporting being victims of such discrimination in workplace. Muslims also face employment discrimination in some of the workplaces dominated by Indian managers. California state has filed a lawsuit against Silicon Valley tech giant Cisco Systems alleging caste discrimination.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

India Remains Poor Hungry and Illiterate Decades After Independence

Indian Muslims Worse Off Than Dalits

Bigotry Bedevils Silicon Valley Indian Restaurant

India Ranked as Most Racist in the World

Indians Admire Israel and Hitler

Caste Apartheid in India

Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India

Who Killed Karkare?

Procrastinating on Hindutva Terror

India's Guantanamos and Abu Ghraibs

Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

Growing US-India Military Ties Worry Pakistan

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

22 comments:

Rks said...

Riaz Bhai, your are ignorant of India's society. So it will be better if you comment on Pakistani society, where Hindu , Sikh and Christian girls are forcibly kidnapped and converted to Islam and the whole nation closes its eyes. Did you ever discuss this issue in any of your blogs (and you claim yourself to be a Pakistani blogger).

Hindu religion is a very fair religion. It has survived persecution of Islam (unlike Iran or Egypt) for 1000 years and Christianity for 200 years. Still 80% of India is Hindu. Some people got converted by the Muslim invaders... like what is going on in Pakistan- forcible conversion...

Hindu religion is a fair and evolving religion. We self-correct. We are giving huge amounts of reservations in ALL jobs, college seats , scholarships and other benefits to people of lower strata for the last 70 years.


Please highlight any such measures taken by Pakistani government for minorities. In fact Ahmedis are treated like dirt and killing them is "righteous" for all Pakistani Muslims and their government.


India has a huge population of Sudras, Vysayas and Brahmins, because they did not participate in wars. Only Kshatriyas fought wars. So others were saved of the terrible fallouts.

Riaz Haq said...

The Global #Dalit , The Indian #Black : Prof Cornel West In Conversation With #Indian Dalit Scholar Suraj Yengde. Yengde and his #African-#American mentor from a long and robust tradition of Dalit-Black solidarity. #casteism #India | Outlook India Magazine https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/india-news-independence-day-special-whos-indias-george-floyd-heres-exposing-a-racist-india/303552

Cornel West: Well, first, I would like to say that it is a blessing to be in dialogue with my dear brother, Suraj…that we are part of the rich legacies of Ambedkar and W.E.B. Du Bois, that we come together as voices, as figures, as persons who are willing to live and to die for that quest for truth, beauty, goodness and justice that sits at the centre of what Ambedkar and Dubois stand for. Now, we are in a unique historical moment in terms of the spiritual decay, moral decline, and relative transition of the American empire…moving to a low point, unable to regenerate the best of its democratic tradition. And the Chinese empire, ambiguous, still too repressive, still too locked into forms of domination, but escalating its economic production, trying to elevate itself against tremendous difficulties, until the pandemic hit. Then there’s the Indian and the Russian regimes, trying to sustain themselves. Brazil much further on the side. The UK and France, crucial, but in many ways remaining middling. Therefore the fundamental dynamic taking place in our moment has to do with those four fundamental regimes. All of them, of course, are shot through with forms of repression and domination. But all of them are also shot through with marvellous forms of resistance and critique. And you and I are trying to keep track of the radically democratic streams, the ones genuinely empowering those that Frantz Fanon called ‘the wretched of the earth’. This is why I think our dialogue is so very important. I'm looking at it through the lens of a Black people who have been so thoroughly exploited, degraded and dominated and yet still producing so many freedom fighters and love warriors. You are looking at it from the rich, deep heritage of Dalit brothers and sisters, right there at the centre of the Indian regimes, the ways in which Brahmin supremacy has always lost contact with the humanity of Dalits.


Suraj Yengde: It's very interesting, even looking at the past century. I see Du Bois as someone who really fashioned twentieth century political thought. That man never stopped, his pen never stopped…you would have needed an industry to provide him ink!

Cornel West: (Laughs)

Suraj Yengde: And now, in the modern era, in the 21st century, what we see is the politics of Ambedkar and Du Bois resonating, almost 100 years later. I look at this era as someone who has lived a few decades of the 20th century, linking up to the arc of their inspirations, their energies…now that needs to be carried on to the next century. It is no accident that Du Bois and Ambedkar carried so many resonances, though it couldn’t come to fruition as much as we might have expected. But now, if they were to relive, the possibilities and connections would be so strong! Not only because there are vocabularies that can connect us more confidently, but also because of the unfinished business of love that they, our ancestors, inaugurated. One of the parallels we see is of course the Dalit and Black Panthers…the civil rights spirit that the African American public sphere as well as private sphere brought to us, and similarly, the land rights movements led by Dalits. The Dalits are the most landless people of India, 77 per cent of them don't own any land, which means they have been virtually permanent refugees in the Indian nation.

zen said...

Btw, Modi on one hand has done some window dressing by choosing a Dalit President (who constitutionally is a rubber stamp). He also sees untouchables etc. as a good vote bank augmenting his traditional upper caste voters. I am afraid that Muslims are the lowest caste in New India

Riaz Haq said...

The Sanskrit word "varna" means "color, tint, dye or pigment" in the Mahabharata. Varna contextually means "colour, race, tribe, species, kind, sort, nature, character, quality, property" of an object or people in some Vedic and medieval texts. Varna refers to four social classes in the Manusmriti.

The Europeans translated "varna" to "caste"

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varna_(Hinduism)

Anonymous said...

Mr. RKS.

1: Would a dalit agree with you that Hinduism is a fair religion?

2: If Hindu culture was capable of self correcting it would have gotten rid of caste system long time ago. It wouldn't have needed British interference to get rid of satti custom.
3: Do you know that Hindus have become a minority in Arunachal in last 50 years. No one is forcefully converting them now, so why are they now only 39%?

Zamir

samir sardana said...

The Photo of Brahma misses out the depravity of the man !

Incest with his daughter ! It is worth noting that the Caste system is linked to his "body organs".dindooohindoo

Dandy Sugar Daddy Doodle Brahma raped and married his daughter Saraswati - and justified the same from the Vedas ! And the Dalits have STILL NOT insurrected against the Hindoos !

" 8. On seeing his beautiful daughter Padma, Brahma was sexually excited. He wooed his daughter and wanted to copulate with her. How could a daughter give consent to her own father? Padma refused. Brahma could not give up his desire. He began to quote the Vedas to convince her that there was nothing wrong in having sex with anyone, anytime, anywhere for the sake of giving birth to a child. " ( Puran )

This is the Vedic verse Brahma quoted to justify incest :

Mathara Mupathya, susara Mupatithe, Puthrartheetha.

Sagamarthi, Napathra loka, nasthee thath.

Saravam paravo vindu ha, dasmath Puthrar tham. Matharam suransathee Rehathee

( Vedas, cited in Puran )

Translated this verse means " This is the sanskrit sloka Brahma quoted to his daughter. The sacred verse enjoins, that for the sake of a child one can enjoy her own sister or daughter, without any sin attached to it. ( Puran )"

samir sardana said...

let us look at the BIG PICTURE !

No Story of Dalit oppression is complete w/o Brahminism
No Story of Brahminism is complete w/o Brahmins
No Story of Brahmis is complete w/o Ade Shankara !

And who is this clown ?

Shankara, from Kerala – a Shaiva exponent of “pure nondualism (Advaita)” and idealism – who was “a Shiva avatar” and “had sex with the wife” of a Dead King, after “entering into the body of the dead king”.

Madhavacharya called Adi Shankara “a bastard & a son of a harlot” who copied, edited and pasted Buddhism” and repackaged it, for the Hindoos.dindooohindoo

He was born of a widower,and thus,was taunted as a "bastard" and also,mocked for his mothers chastity (or lack thereof).

At that time,India was ruled by Buddhists who mocked,abused and ostracised Ade Shankara,on account of the above traits.So what did Ade Shankara do ? He wrote his Magnum Opus,wherein he targeted Women (complex of being born of a widow,with no clear lineage),Dalits (who mocked him,as Buddhists) and Buddhists (who called him a "bastard").

Ade Shankara destroyed Buddhism and Buddhists,and said that women had a status lower than that of a cow,and the Dalits had a status,lower than cow dung !

This is the BIG PICTURE of the Indian Maimonides (in terms of stature - not intellect).The Dalit persecution,is the product of the diseased and complexed mind,of this Brahmin !

But this ain't it !

This man used his yogic powers to enter the body of a dead king (Parakaya Pravesa),and had sex with the wife of the dead king - for a long,long,long time !

He then journeyed with his disciples to a city in which the king, named Amaruka, had died, and employing the ‘science of entering into the body of another’ (parakayapravesavidya), he revived the body of the king, which was lying on the funeral pyre. ‘The yogic power (yogabalam) of the teacher, which was joined to his subtle body, entered the body of the king, and that connoisseur of yoga (yogavit) guided his breath upward from the toes. Leaving his body via the fontanel, he slowly entered the body of the dead king via the fontanel…’

Reanimated by Shankara’s presence, the body of King Amaruka rose from its funeral pyre, and with it, Shankara quickly mastered the erotic arts through extended love-play with the principle queen

People ask - Y is Hindooism doomed ?

Y ? They say Y was Hindoosthan enslaved for 2000 years by invaders ?

I say that the entire Hindoo Pantheon and the crazed dementia of Jallikattu and Kali worship,is all a copy and paste from the Assyrians,Babylonians,Sumerians,Persians,Nubians and Kushites

People say - No - don't say that - it breaks me heart !

I present the copy and paste of the Indian Maimonides !

Ramanuja called Shankara a “crypto-Buddhist” (prachanna -bauddha).Sample the “copy and paste” of “Shankara the Shiva avatar”

– As per Buddhism,the “world is Sunya-tattva” (non-existent) and Sankara says, the world is “mithya” (non-existent), devoid of past, present and future.
– As per Buddhism,the way to achieve nirvana is “prajna-paramita” (knowledge of reality),and Sankara says that “tattva-jnana” (true knowledge of reality), is the method to attain moksa.
– As per Buddhism,”Sunya = Prajna-paramita-sutra = mano-vacam agocara = The Sankaras Brahman”.
– As per Buddhism,liberation = “removal of samvrti” (the veil of illusion), while for Sankara it is = “removal of veil of ignorance”

BIG PICTURE ! It is all in the HISTORY of THEOLOGY and the PSYCHOLOGY of the ARCHITECTS of THEOLOGY.

Riaz Haq said...

For 70 years, #Dalits have been denied freedom of religion through 1950 Presidential Order that denies job/education quotas to #Muslim or #Christian converts despite ample evidence that they suffer hardships equal to #Hindu untouchables. https://scroll.in/article/970613/for-70-years-dalits-have-been-denied-freedom-of-religion-through-a-presidential-order via @scroll_in

This month marks 70 years from the passing of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, which aimed at ensuring that Dalit communities would be able to fully enjoy the fundamental freedom and rights protected under the Constitution of India. However, Paragraph 3 of the 1950 Presidential Order prevents Dalits communities from exercising one of the most basic of human rights, the right to freedom of conscience and belief.

The 1950 Presidential Order identifies the caste communities who have experienced extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of the traditional practice of untouchability. These castes are also referred to as Scheduled Castes or Dalits.

These Dalit communities were singled out for deserving affirmative action benefits under various government policies, including education and jobs. Dalit communities also have special protections under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and political reservation in various forums.

Paragraph 3 of the Presidential Order, however, limited the classification of Scheduled Castes initially only to Hindus. Due to the political activism of Sikh and Buddhist communities, the 1950 Presidential Order was subsequently amended to include Sikhs in 1956 and Buddhists in 1990. The 1950 Presidential Order, however, continues to leave out Dalits who converted to Islam or Christianity from its ambit, despite ample evidence that they suffer equal hardships as other Dalits communities.

The rationale seems to be that Islam and Christianity are more egalitarian religions and therefore a Dalit would not face the same discrimination in their new found faith. Sadly, however, Dalits converting to Islam and Christianity found that their “Dalitness” clung to them and followed them, even after their religious conversion.

In May 2018, Kevin Joseph, a Dalit Christian youth, was murdered by his wife’s relatives in Kerala. His only crime was that he had dared to love and marry an upper caste woman. Principal sessions court judge C Jayachandran noted in the judgment that the motive of the murder was caste prejudice. Sadly, this was but one of many incidents.


In the 1992 landmark judgment of Indra Sawhney and Others v Union of India and Others, the Supreme Court noted:

“Though Christianity does not acknowledge caste system, the evils of caste system in some States are as prevalent as in Hindu society especially among the converts. In Andhra Pradesh, there are Harijan Christians, Reddy Christians, Kamma Christians etc. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, there are Pillai Christians, Marvar Christians, Nadar Christians and Harijan Christians etc. That is to say all the converts to Christianity have not divested or set off themselves from their caste labels and crossed the caste barrier but carry with them the banners of their caste labels. Like Hindus, they interact and have their familial relationship and marital alliances only within the converted caste groups.”

Riaz Haq said...

Why is the RSS supremo always a Brahmin?


https://www.quora.com/Why-is-the-RSS-supremo-always-a-Brahmin


Pralip Narzary, Have researched RSS.
Answered October 29, 2016

Because people in senior cadres are mostly higher caste Hindus. They were the first people who took up the cause of uniting the Hindus. They have been at the forefront right from the birth of Hindu movement - for example Savarkar, Hedgevar both were brhamins. Higher castes have been influential everywhere - just have a look at the list of PMs of India - Modi is probably the second non-Brahmin PM. Look at the caste composition of your teachers - I am sure more than 70–80% would be from higher caste - so its not that the RSS does not let anyone else become supremo, Prof Rajju bhaiya did become RSS supremo. So it is all about availability of able people in the top cadre. Modi worked hard and now he is the PM. Had he not worked hard and Advani or some other higher caste BJP guy become PM, people would be asking question, why is BJP’s PMs are always higher caste - but the same question has never been asked from Congress, despite the fact Congress’ PMs and Presidents have always been from higher castes. I think once OBCs or SCs or STs are in majority in top cadre, you will witness a dalit or OBC or adivasi heading the RSS.

Riaz Haq said...

Unrepresentative US Congress dominated by old white male millionaires. #democracy #UnitedStates #Congress #Elections2020

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1301243188934443013?s=20

Millionaires: Congress 51%, US Population 5%

White Men: Congress 77%, US Population 31%

Women: Congress 20%, US Population 51%

Over 55 Years: Congress 67%, US Population 28%

Riaz Haq said...

#Dalits bear brunt of #India's 'endemic' sexual violence crisis. #UttarPradesh has the highest number of reported cases of violence against Dalits but there's been a spike during the #COVID #pandemic. #untouchables #Caste #BJP #Hindutva https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/16/dalits-bear-brunt-of-indias-endemic-sexual-violence-crisis

A spate of brutal rapes and murders of young girls in a single district of India over the past month has provoked outrage and exposed the ongoing use of sexual violence as a tool of oppression and revenge against lower caste communities.

Over the past month, the Lakhimpur Kheri district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has witnessed four incidents of girls being raped and brutally murdered. At least two of the girls were Dalits, the lowest caste in the Hindu system of social hierarchy, who were previously referred to as “untouchables” and cast out from society.

Last week, a 14-year-old girl Dalit girl was found hanging from a tree in a village, having been raped and murdered. Just a few days before, a three-year-old girl was raped and strangled to death.

Advertisement
On 14 and 24 August, two girls, a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old, were both raped and killed in Lakhimpur Kheri.

“These cases of extreme sexual violence are more examples of the dominant caste wielding power over Dalit women who are perceived as weak and vulnerable and available,” said Manjula Pradeep, director of campaigns at the Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network.

She added: “Dalit women are seen as impure and deprived when they access basic amenities but their bodies are also used as objects to take revenge on the Dalit communities and keep them oppressed. With more Dalits demanding their rights, these kinds of incidents we have seen in Lakhimpur Kheri are increasing.”

Local activists said the assaults carried out against the Dalit girls went ignored by police until the issue was raised by activists and members of the opposition political party, who said the incident of the 13-year-old had “shaken humanity”. Activists have also struggled to enter the village to intervene in the cases as upper caste members of the village had reportedly blocked access.

The state of Uttar Pradesh already has the highest number of reported cases of violence against Dalits but during coronavirus lockdown there was a reported spike of attacks on Dalits by upper caste Thakurs. However, no arrests have been made.

“The recent spate of rape and murder cases in the Lakhimpur Kheri district indicates an endemic problem of sexual violence and the state government needs to do much more to address this crisis,” said Divya Srinivasan, a south Asia consultant for women’s rights organisation Equality Now.

“In many instances, sexual violence committed against Dalit women and girls is perpetrated by men from dominant ‘upper castes’, who use sexual violence as a tool to assert power and reinforce existing caste, social and gender hierarchies,” said Srinivasan.

Srinivasan emphasised that these entrenched hierarchies of power gave attackers of Dalit women a worrying sense of impunity. Assaults on lower caste women were rarely investigated or prosecuted, and in the case of Dalit victims, rarely prompt much media coverage or public outrage.


'If you saw her body, you will never sleep again': despair as India rape crisis grows
Read more
India remains the most unsafe country for women in the world, with a woman raped every 20 minutes. Lower caste women in particular bear the brunt, with little to no access to justice. It first came to light in a 1999 report by Human Rights Watch that documented how Dalit women in Bihar were raped and then had their breasts cut off and were shot in the vulva.

Official statistics show that at least four Dalit women are raped in India every day, though the real number is thought to be much higher as the communities often do not report the rapes due to pressure from higher castes or because police refuse to file the cases.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #caste system is ruining lives in #SiliconValley. Over 90% of #Indian techies in #US are upper-caste Indians and they are making life hell for over 250 Dalit techies working in firms such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple & Netflix. #Hindutva https://zd.net/2RQNg05

It may seem bizarre that the caste system, a centuries-old system that organises and stratifies human society, continues to play a heavy role in deciding which Indians prosper and which don't within a space many consider to be an uber-meritocracy -- the US tech landscape.

A recent lawsuit against two Indians, filed by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing on behalf of another Indian, has made waves over the past few months for all the wrong reasons. It has illuminated how the Indian caste system has terrorised one of the most marginalised groups in India.

Except, this time, it is happening in the US tech industry, a place that people normally associate with egalitarianism and a thirst for talent regardless of colour, race, religion, or any other creed.

Caste is a 2,000 year-old system for classifying society in the Indian subcontinent -- or whatever other definition that can be used for the geographic spread that was depleted and then amputated by British colonial rule.

In this stratification, the priests -- or the "Brahman" class -- were at the top, the warriors or "Kshatriyas" came next, the merchants or "Vaishyas" formed the third tier, while labourers, artisans, and servants, known as "Shudras", came last and essentially served the other three castes. Of course, it's not so simple -- in reality, there are over 5,000 castes and over 25,000 sub-castes in India, spawned by sheer geographical, cultural, and religious diversity.

What is homogenous across the country, however, is another category that exists completely outside of the caste system, on a rung so low that if you were forced to come up with the worst moral and physical degradations that you could think of, they would in all likelihood pale in comparison to what has transpired in India over centuries and continues to do so today.

These people that are deemed to be on the lowest rung are the Dalits. Self-named, Dalit means "oppressed", but they are also referred to by Indian society as "achoot", or, "untouchable". Dalits have historically been involved in occupations such as working with leather, cleaning sewers, or killing rats and were therefore considered "spiritually impure".

Not so long ago, if a Dalit saw a higher caste walking down the road, they would have to flung themselves to the ground to not contaminate the upper caste (UC) person with their shadow. Violaters would be beaten, often to death, and incredulously, they still are today.

All across India, Dalits -- who comprise at least 25% of the population, or a staggering 400 million people -- are barred from drawing water from the wells of UCs. Dalit children are either denied education or cannot study with UC peers; their villages are separate and hence, they are forbidden from walking through upper caste ones; they cannot eat where UCs eat; they cannot pray where UCs pray and God help them if they marry out of their caste. Their woman and children are physically and sexually abused on a serial scale.

If a person is born as a Dalit, they will die a Dalit, and their children are almost certainly destined to a life with no upward mobility.

While many scholars contend that the caste system became more inflexible under the British, who transformed it into a rigid, more easily governable structure that privileged Brahmans even more, others say this narrative is just an attempt by upper-caste Indian Americans to rewrite history books and erase any mention of Dalit oppression. While the British Raj did have a complex, destructive effect on caste, India's pre-modern history was also most definitely defined by castes.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s engineers have thrived in #SiliconValley. So has its #caste system. Only 1.5% of Indian immigrants in #UnitedStates are #Dalits or members of the lower-ranked castes, but they face insults and discrimination from upper caste #Hindu colleagues. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/27/indian-caste-bias-silicon-valley/?tid=ss_tw

Whenever Benjamin Kaila, a database administrator who immigrated from India to the United States in 1999, applies for a job at a U.S. tech company, he prays that there are no other Indians during the in-person interview. That’s because Kaila is a Dalit, or member of the lowest-ranked castes within India’s system of social hierarchy, formerly referred to as “untouchables.”

Silicon Valley’s diversity issues are well documented: It’s still dominated by White and Asian men, and Black and Latino workers remain underrepresented. But for years, as debates about meritocracy raged on, the tech industry’s reliance on Indian engineers allowed another type of discrimination to fester. And Dalit engineers like Kaila say U.S. employers aren’t equipped to address it.

In more than 100 job interviews for contract work over the past 20 years, Kaila said he got only one job offer when another Indian interviewed him in person. When members of the interview panel have been Indian, Kaila says, he has faced personal questions that seem to be used to suss out whether he’s a member of an upper caste, like most of the Indians working in the tech industry.

“They don’t bring up caste, but they can easily identify us,” Kaila says, rattling off all of the ways he can be outed as potentially being Dalit, including the fact that he has darker skin.

The legacy of discrimination from the Indian caste system is rarely discussed as a factor in Silicon Valley’s persistent diversity problems. Decades of tech industry labor practices, such as recruiting candidates from a small cohort of top schools or relying on the H-1B visa system for highly skilled workers, have shaped the racial demographics of its technical workforce. Despite that fact, Dalit engineers and advocates say that tech companies don’t understand caste bias and have not explicitly prohibited caste-based discrimination.

In recent years, however, the Dalit rights movement has grown increasingly global, including advocating for change in corporate America. In June, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a landmark suit against Cisco and two of its former engineering managers, both upper-caste Indians, for discriminating against a Dalit engineer.

After the lawsuit was announced, Equality Labs, a nonprofit advocacy group for Dalit rights, received complaints about caste bias from nearly 260 U.S. tech workers in three weeks, reported through the group’s website or in emails to individual staffers. Allegations included caste-based slurs and jokes, bullying, discriminatory hiring practices, bias in peer reviews, and sexual harassment, said executive director Thenmozhi Soundararajan. The highest number of claims were from workers at Facebook (33), followed by Cisco (24), Google (20), Microsoft (18), IBM (17) and Amazon (14). The companies all said they don’t tolerate discrimination.

And a group of 30 female Indian engineers who are members of the Dalit caste and work for Google, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco and other tech companies say they have faced caste bias inside the U.S. tech sector, according to a statement shared exclusively with The Washington Post.

Riaz Haq said...

Caste discrimination: India must disown parts of ancient texts that contradict the Constitution
Just as the West is re-examining its colonial and slave-running past, India should identify treatises that are anachronistic.

https://scroll.in/article/976824/caste-violence-india-must-disown-parts-of-ancient-texts-that-contradict-the-constitution

The ancient Varna system separates the three twice-born (Dvij) groupings – Brahmin, Kshatriya, and Vaishya – from the Shudras who constituted the lowest rung. All ancient authorities concurred that caste was assigned to a person at birth and could not be changed; with each caste was associated a profession; and all castes were arranged in a hierarchy.

All the Dharma sutras and Dharma shastras asserted that the main task of the Shudras was to serve the twice-born (Apastamba Dharma Sutra I.1.1.7-8; Mahabharata, Shanti Parva 60.28). To assure their servility, they were assigned a low ritual status. While a number of sanskaras or rites of passage, from conception to cremation, were prescribed for the high-rankers, they were prohibited for the Shudras who were not permitted to chant Vedic mantras (Manu Smrti X.127).

They could recite the phrase “Namah Shivay” but were not allowed to prefix “Om” to it, notes P V Kane in his History of Dharmasastra.

If a Brahmin committed adultery or rape, merely a fine was imposed on him (Manu Smrti VIII.385). However if a Shudra had sexual intercourse with a Brahmin woman, he was to be executed no matter whether the act was consensual or not (Vasishtha Dharma Shastra 21.1). If a Brahmin reviled a Shudra, he paid a small fine (Manu Smrti VIII. 268) or nothing at all (Gautama Dharma Sutra XII.10). But in the reverse case, a Shudra’s tongue was to be chopped off (Manu Smrti VIII. 270) .

In the case of killing a Dvij by a Dvij , reasonable prayashchit (atonement) was prescribed. For killing a Shudra the prayashchit was the same as for killing a frog, cat, dog, mongoose, or owl.

As the Hathras case demonstrates, the practice of degrading the lower castes has continued into the present.

In 1848, Jotirao Phule was insulted by Brahmins for being a part of a marriage procession notwithstanding the fact that he had been invited to it by his Brahmin friends. In school in the 1890s, Bhimrao Ambedkar was not allowed to sit with the other children inside the classroom. He had to bring a gunny sack from home and sit on it outside. In the 1910s, Meghnad Saha, who would grow up to become an internationally acclaimed astrophysicist, was not permitted by upper-caste fellow residents at the Calcutta’s Government Eden Hindu Hostel to dine at their table and participate in the annual Sarasvati Puja.

The economic exploitation and oppression of Dalits and crimes against Dalit women are facilitated by the low ritual status assigned to them. Just as the West is re-examining its colonial and slave-running past, India should also identify those parts of ancient texts that are now anachronistic. It should treat them as archives and disown them as living heritage.

Riaz Haq said...

How Big #Tech Is Importing #India’s #Caste Legacy to #SiliconValley? Jatav’s #IIT classmates quickly identified him as #Dalit. He’d been educated in Hindi-language schools, and his English was poor. His clothes were shabby. He didn’t have a smartphone. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-03-11/how-big-tech-is-importing-india-s-caste-legacy-to-silicon-valley

For all the IITs’ proficiency at training and placing students, though, the coders, programmers, product developers, and engineers fanning out to global tech bring with them the troubled legacy of India’s caste system. On campus, students are surrounded by—and in some cases participate in—a culture of discrimination, bullying, and segregation that targets fellow pupils from India’s Scheduled Castes, also known as Dalits. The IITs officially discourage such harassment, but the prejudice against these students remains quite open.

Caste in India speaks, as race does in America, to centuries of social, cultural, and economic divisions. Unlike in the U.S., though, India has since 1950 had a national system of affirmative action designed to undo the legacy of bias. Among its provisions are ones that help Dalits and other oppressed groups get into and pay for college. For nearly half a century, IIT admissions have been subject to a reservation system that’s still hotly debated on the campuses. In recent years, the schools have opposed attempts to extend affirmative action to faculty hires, arguing it would dilute the quality of the applicant pool and undermine their meritocratic image.

The IITs are notoriously cutthroat, starting with the admissions process. Some 2.2 million people have registered to take the 2021 entrance exam, to vie for roughly 16,000 slots. About 15% of those are allotted to students from the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and another 7.5% to applicants from the Scheduled Tribes (STs), indigenous people who’ve faced marginalization and whose status has also been formalized by the constitution. To fill those slots, universities sometimes offer seats to students with test scores below the cutoff point—though not as far below as is commonly assumed.

Caste-based resentment at the IITs can run high. In one video posted on YouTube in 2018, a student poring over a pile of books is labeled “GEN,” for general pool, while the two students sleeping nearby are identified as “SC” and “ST.” In another post circulated widely among IIT groups last year, a student suggested Covid-19 should also give preferential treatment to the marginalized groups. “My dear Corona,” it said in Hindi. “In every sphere SC/STs get first preference. So if you can, please look into the same.”

Dalit IIT graduates who’ve managed to land jobs in the U.S. say that such attitudes can be found there, too. Last year a Dalit graduate of IIT Bombay filed suit in the U.S. against Cisco Systems Inc. and two of his fellow alums, saying he’d experienced caste-based discrimination at their hands while the three of them were employed at the company. The accompanying publicity prompted a wave of complaints about caste discrimination in American tech—allegations that seemed to blindside the industry.

Amit Jatav, a Dalit from Karauli, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, remembers catching “the IIT bug” in high school, where he excelled in chemistry, physics, and math. His father, an elementary school teacher, and his mother, a fieldworker, scraped together money from relatives and local lenders to send him for a year of test prep. He took the entrance exam in 2017 and got into IIT Delhi on his first try.

Jatav’s classmates quickly identified him as Dalit. He’d been educated in Hindi-language schools, and his English was poor. His clothes were worn and shabby. He didn’t have a smartphone. In an environment where entrance exam scores are status symbols, Jatav had placed relatively low, marking him as a “quota” student. He heard loud comments saying he was at IIT only because of his “category” instead of “earning it rightfully.” He wasn’t invited to study groups, dinners, or social events.


Riaz Haq said...

Swami Shashi The political Hinduism of Shashi Tharoor – Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd



http://www.kanchailaiah.com/2018/05/28/swami-shashi-the-political-hinduism-of-shashi-tharoor/


Tharoor’s book is the very opposite of mine, and not just in its title. I said I am not a Hindu because of the inequality by birth of different communities within Hinduism, as enshrined in the caste system that pervades Hindu scripture, morality, ritual, social organisation—really the entire Hindu worldview. The very theory of caste goes against the fundamental principle that all humans are created equal. I also criticised Hinduism’s negation of the values and labour that go into productive work, which it stigmatises and reserves for oppressed castes, and the resulting maltreatment of productive communities, including Shudras and Dalits (the book referred to both under the collective term “Dalitbahujans”). Tharoor, by contrast, talks of restoring Hinduism “to its truest essence, which in many ways is that of an almost ideal faith for the twenty-first-century world.” He celebrates it as “a religion that is personal and individualistic, privileges the individual and does not subordinate one to a collectivity; a religion that grants and respects complete freedom to the believer to find his or her own answers to the true meaning of life; a religion that offers a wide range of choice in religious practice, even in regard to the nature and form of the formless God; a religion that places great emphasis on one’s mind, and values one’s capacity for reflection, intellectual enquiry, and selfstudy; a religion that distances itself from dogma and holy writ, that is minimally prescriptive and yet offers an abundance of options, spiritual and philosophical texts and social and cultural practices to choose from.”



Tharoor does not seem to have read my book, despite choosing a title that echoes mine. He does not engage with my arguments anywhere. He also ignores some far more important thinkers on Hinduism. Among Shudra writers alone, the tradition of critiquing the religion goes back at least to Jyotirao Phule, the Maharashtrian social reformer whose 1873 book Gulamgiri, or “Slavery,” was a stinging critique of Hinduism and the caste system. In 1941, Dharma Theertha published The History of Hindu Imperialism, another serious assessment of Hinduism, and came to conclude that it oppresses all Shudras. Although Dharma Theertha was a Nair like Tharoor, he refused to describe himself as a Hindu.


How does Tharoor come to a different view of Hinduism than any Shudra writer of great prominence before him? Simply put, it is by not applying any critical or analytical thinking. His main strategy of persuasion is not argument, but repetition with rhetorical flourishes of a two-in-one premise and conclusion, stated already in the very first paragraph of the book where he describes Hinduism as “that most plural, inclusive, eclectic and expansive of faiths.”



The book’s first section, largely autobiographical and titled “My Hinduism,” is strangely silent on aspects of Tharoor’s own background, including his caste. It is also very selective in its citation of holy texts, while whitewashing Hindu history and sidestepping many of Hinduism’s sharpest critics. The second section, “Political Hinduism,” blames only Hindutva groups for mixing Hinduism with politics, pretending that Tharoor’s own Congress party has never had anything to do with that kind of politicisation. The third section, “Taking Back Hinduism,” disguises a proposed return to Tharoor’s “essence” of Hinduism as a step forward rather than back.



Tharoor admits that he does not write as a scholar of Hinduism, but it is obvious that he does not even write as a sincere autobiographer. That leaves him writing as a politician—a politician who wants to keep one foot each in two camps, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.



“why am i a hindu?” Tharoor asks. Because, he answers, “I was born one.” This raises the question: with what status was he born into Hinduism?



Riaz Haq said...

Swami Shashi The political Hinduism of Shashi Tharoor – Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd



http://www.kanchailaiah.com/2018/05/28/swami-shashi-the-political-hinduism-of-shashi-tharoor/

Traditionally, the basic work of the Nairs, as of many Shudra castes, was agriculture, but the caste system that allotted them this work also denied them land rights. Over the centuries, the Nairs moved away from their typically Shudra occupation, and under the influence of Brahminism entered into a unique relationship with the dominant Nambudiri Brahmins. Well into the nineteenth

century, Nair women lived in sambhandham with the Nambudri Brahmins’ younger sons. This was a form of sexual slavery, with the women denied marital rights and the men freed from obligation towards any children of the union, and it had full spiritual and religious sanction under the caste order.



Like other oppressed castes, under Brahminical hegemony the Nairs were also denied the right to education. That restriction was loosened with the arrival of British power, but with that control over education in Kerala fell largely into the hands of Syrian Christians. In 1914, the Nair leader Mannatthu Padmanabha Pillai established the Nair Service Society, with a view to gaining educational autonomy. The organisation runs a number of institutions of learning to this day, and has been crucial to making the Nairs the most educated Shudra community in India today.



Pillai was a reformer of the Nairs, but not a reformer of society as a whole. In response to the Nair’s historical oppression and humiliation, the Nair Service Society chose not to reject Brahminical social organisation but to further Brahminise the Nair community. The organisation asserted that it was a Hindu group, and aggressively propagated the religion. Tragically, the Nair Service Society never helped in the uplift of other oppressed castes. Instead, Nairs have participated in those castes’ continued persecution, and have played only a marginal role in anti-caste movements. Tharoor is a carrier of this legacy.



“I am the product of a nationalist generation that was consciously raised to be oblivious of caste,” Tharoor writes, recounting that his father dropped “Nair” from his name, “moved to London and brought his children up in Westernised Bombay.” He congratulates himself for how even after he entered the “caste-ridden world of Indian politics … I did not deliberately seek to find out the caste of anyone I met or worked with; I hired a cook without asking his caste (the same with my remaining domestic staff) and have entertained all manner of people in my home without the thought of caste affinity even crossing my mind.” He recalls his “own discovery of caste.” While he was at school, an older boy cornered him near the toilet to ask “what caste are you?” Tharoor replied, “I—I don’t know.” The other boy continued, “You mean you’re not a Brahmin or something?” Tharoor writes, “I could not even avow I was a something.”



Tharoor acknowledges that he holds a privileged position: in today’s India, only great wealth and social advantage, combined to permit a private Englishlanguage schooling, can allow anyone the pretence of being innocent of caste. In Tharoor’s case, it exposes his social ignorance, while his roundabout treatment of caste suggests an unease. If he had been a Brahmin, it is likely Tharoor would have owned up to it matter-offactly. By disregarding his Nair heritage and his caste’s struggle against subordination in the Hindu order, he obscures how he came to be in his privileged position. As a result, he makes it seems as if caste can be shrugged off, where for the vast majority of Indians the attempt to break free of it has been, and is, a bloody struggle. To write in this way about the religion that created the caste system is unethical.

“It is difficult to pretend that Hinduism can be exempted from the problems of casteism,” Tharoor states at the start of a passage examining caste in general, yet taken as a whole that is exactly what the passage does.

Riaz Haq said...

Swami Shashi The political Hinduism of Shashi Tharoor – Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd



http://www.kanchailaiah.com/2018/05/28/swami-shashi-the-political-hinduism-of-shashi-tharoor/


Tharoor’s book is the very opposite of mine, and not just in its title. I said I am not a Hindu because of the inequality by birth of different communities within Hinduism, as enshrined in the caste system that pervades Hindu scripture, morality, ritual, social organisation—really the entire Hindu worldview. The very theory of caste goes against the fundamental principle that all humans are created equal. I also criticised Hinduism’s negation of the values and labour that go into productive work, which it stigmatises and reserves for oppressed castes, and the resulting maltreatment of productive communities, including Shudras and Dalits (the book referred to both under the collective term “Dalitbahujans”). Tharoor, by contrast, talks of restoring Hinduism “to its truest essence, which in many ways is that of an almost ideal faith for the twenty-first-century world.” He celebrates it as “a religion that is personal and individualistic, privileges the individual and does not subordinate one to a collectivity; a religion that grants and respects complete freedom to the believer to find his or her own answers to the true meaning of life; a religion that offers a wide range of choice in religious practice, even in regard to the nature and form of the formless God; a religion that places great emphasis on one’s mind, and values one’s capacity for reflection, intellectual enquiry, and selfstudy; a religion that distances itself from dogma and holy writ, that is minimally prescriptive and yet offers an abundance of options, spiritual and philosophical texts and social and cultural practices to choose from.”



Tharoor does not seem to have read my book, despite choosing a title that echoes mine. He does not engage with my arguments anywhere. He also ignores some far more important thinkers on Hinduism. Among Shudra writers alone, the tradition of critiquing the religion goes back at least to Jyotirao Phule, the Maharashtrian social reformer whose 1873 book Gulamgiri, or “Slavery,” was a stinging critique of Hinduism and the caste system. In 1941, Dharma Theertha published The History of Hindu Imperialism, another serious assessment of Hinduism, and came to conclude that it oppresses all Shudras. Although Dharma Theertha was a Nair like Tharoor, he refused to describe himself as a Hindu.


How does Tharoor come to a different view of Hinduism than any Shudra writer of great prominence before him? Simply put, it is by not applying any critical or analytical thinking. His main strategy of persuasion is not argument, but repetition with rhetorical flourishes of a two-in-one premise and conclusion, stated already in the very first paragraph of the book where he describes Hinduism as “that most plural, inclusive, eclectic and expansive of faiths.”



The book’s first section, largely autobiographical and titled “My Hinduism,” is strangely silent on aspects of Tharoor’s own background, including his caste. It is also very selective in its citation of holy texts, while whitewashing Hindu history and sidestepping many of Hinduism’s sharpest critics. The second section, “Political Hinduism,” blames only Hindutva groups for mixing Hinduism with politics, pretending that Tharoor’s own Congress party has never had anything to do with that kind of politicisation. The third section, “Taking Back Hinduism,” disguises a proposed return to Tharoor’s “essence” of Hinduism as a step forward rather than back.



Tharoor admits that he does not write as a scholar of Hinduism, but it is obvious that he does not even write as a sincere autobiographer. That leaves him writing as a politician—a politician who wants to keep one foot each in two camps, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.



“why am i a hindu?” Tharoor asks. Because, he answers, “I was born one.” This raises the question: with what status was he born into Hinduism?

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu Sect Is Accused of Using Forced Labor (mainly #Dalit) to Build #NewJersey Temple. #US federal agents raided the massive temple in Robbinsville, N.J., as a lawsuit charged that low-caste men had been lured from #India to work for about $1 an hour. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/11/nyregion/nj-hindu-temple-india-baps.html#click=https://t.co/Oz8nDR3CRo


Federal law enforcement agents descended on a massive temple in New Jersey on Tuesday after workers accused a prominent Hindu sect of luring them from India, confining them to the temple grounds and paying them the equivalent of about $1 an hour to perform grueling labor in near servitude.

Lawyers for the workers said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Hindu sect known as BAPS that has close ties to India’s ruling party and has built temples around the world, had exploited possibly hundreds of low-caste men in the yearslong construction project.

The workers, who lived in trailers hidden from view, had been promised jobs helping to build the temple in rural Robbinsville, N.J., with standard work hours and ample time off, according to the lawsuit, a wage claim filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. The majority are Dalit, the lowest rung in India’s caste system.

They were brought to the United States on religious visas, or R-1 visas — temporary visas used for clergy and lay religious workers such as missionaries — and presented to the U.S. government as volunteers, according to the claim. They were asked to sign several documents, often in English, and instructed to tell U.S. embassy staffers that they were skilled carvers or decorative painters, the complaint said.

Lawyers for the men, however, said they did manual labor on the site, working nearly 13 hours a day lifting large stones, operating cranes and other heavy machinery, building roads and storm sewers, digging ditches and shoveling snow, all for the equivalent of about $450 per month. They were paid $50 in cash, with the rest deposited in accounts in India, the complaint said.

“I respectfully disagree with the wage claim,” Kanu Patel, the chief executive of BAPS, told The New York Times, while noting he was not in charge of day-to-day operations at the site.

Lenin Joshi, a spokesman for BAPS, also disputed the accusations, saying the men did complicated work connecting stones that had been hand-carved in India. “They have to be fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. In that process, we need specialized artisans,” Mr. Joshi said, saying this work qualified the men for the visas.

“We are naturally shaken by this turn of events and are sure that once the full facts come out, we will be able to provide answers and show that these accusations and allegations are without merit,” Mr. Joshi said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu youths taunt an #Indian #hockey player's family in Uttarakhand, saying #Dalits in the team were to blame for the bronze-medal play-off defeat. India’s 200 million Dalits are regular targets of discrimination and often deadly abuse.
https://aje.io/k4zgmy via @AJEnglish

India’s hockey captain Rani Rampal has criticised the “shameful” racist abuse of a team member’s family, saying it was damaging the country’s quest to boost its sporting image.

India saw a hockey renaissance at the Tokyo Games with the men taking third place – their first medal in 41 years in a sport where they have won a record eight Olympic gold medals – while the women were narrowly beaten by Great Britain in their bronze medal play-off.

The women’s best-ever Olympic performance was tainted by abuse of the family of Vandana Katariya, from the so-called “lower-caste” Dalit community that has faced generations of discrimination.

Youths taunted the family at their Uttarakhand state home saying the Dalits in the team were to blame for the defeat. The family has said that threats were made, too.

“It’s such a bad thing,” Rampal told reporters. “We put our life and soul into it, struggle and sacrifice so much to represent our country and when we see what is happening – what happened to Vandana’s family – I just want to say to people please stop this religious division and casteism.

“We have to rise above this. We come from different religions – Hindu, Muslim, Sikh – and come from all parts of India. But here we work for India.”

The 26-year-old Rampal, whose own father pulled a cart to feed his family, added that it was “such a shameful thing when we see that people behave like this”.

While the team had felt “so much love from people” despite not winning a first medal, she said that lessons had to be learned to end such abuse “if we want make our country a sporting nation”.

India’s 200 million Dalits, once known as the “untouchables”, are regular targets of discrimination and often deadly abuse.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi opposes #caste census in #India. A caste count could cause fissures in the #Hindu vote, which the #BJP has managed to consolidate in recent years, despite deep divisions that underpin the party's plank of Hindu unity. #Islamophobia_in_india https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-58141993

Major opposition and regional leaders have met India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to argue in favour of counting caste in the country's census.

"A caste census will be a historic, pro-poor measure," Tejashwi Yadav, a leader of the regional Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party's decision not to do so has sparked a political maelstrom.

Hinduism's deeply hierarchical and oppressive caste system, which dates back some 2,000 years, puts Brahmins or priests at the top, and Dalits (formerly untouchables) and Adivasis (tribespeople) at the bottom.

In between are a multitude of castes - it's hard to even say how many because there is no list that has enumerated them all.

But there is a swathe of lower and intermediate castes, which are roughly believed to constitute about 52% of the population, that are recognised as Other Backward Classes or OBCs.

While India's census, which happens every 10 years, has always recorded the population of Dalits and Adivasis, it has never counted OBCs.

Now, several political parties, including BJP's allies, are demanding a caste census - essentially a count of OBCs. However, the government has refused.


------------------

Caste is a crucial factor in every Indian election, from the village council to the parliament. More so in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP's power and popularity rest on a delicately forged alliance of castes, and especially those in the OBC category.

A caste count could cause fissures in the Hindu vote, which the BJP has managed to consolidate in recent years, despite deep divisions that underpin the party's plank of Hindu unity.

The government has also argued that it would lead to the perpetuation of caste identities - but lower castes say that identity is a reality they grapple with everyday and only the privileged can afford to overlook caste.

Critics say there's another reason for the BJP's reluctance. Counting OBCs would reveal what a large proportion of the population they make up, but how little of it comprises upper castes, who nevertheless dominate politics and bureaucracy, because of centuries of privilege afforded by wealth and education.

Riaz Haq said...

Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
Inbox

https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece



Benign Brahminism
Considering that caste is an intrinsic part of the Hindutva world view, a session was dedicated to the theme. Gajendran Ayyathurai presented his paper on “Systematic Blindnesses: Hindutva, Benign Brahminism and the Brick Wall of Caste/Hindu Identity”. In his argument, “benign Brahminism stands for how Brahmin-male claims of Hindu identity, Hindu culture and Hinduism have come to be legitimised in the Indian and Western academy’s theories, institutions and practices that superimpose and mask the latent and manifest forms of caste/casteism”. Bhanwar Meghwanshi, who quit the RSS as he became disgusted with its casteism, explained in Hindi that “Hindutva is not a religion or faith but is a communal political ideology that is based on brahminical Hinduism that wants to turn India from a secular nation into a Hindu rashtra”. Basing his argument on his own experience, Meghwanshi asserted that “the lower castes do not have any role in determining the strategies or politics of the RSS, instead, they are exploited and weaponised against religious minorities”. In her presentation, the philosopher Meena Dhanda said it was possible for caste “to be included in the legal definition of race under the [U.K.’s] Equality Act of 2010”.

Also read: Hindu right-wing organisations in the U.S avail themselves of low-interest loans offered by the SBA

In a session on “Gender and Sexual Politics of Hindutva”, the film-maker Leena Manimekalai showed a clip from her incomplete film Rape Nation, which partially looks at the stories of survivors of sexual violence during the communal carnages that took place in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar in 2002 and 2013 respectively. Arguing that sexual violence is at the core of Hindutva, Leena Manimekalai said: “Hindutva has redefined nationalism as a genocidal impulse to rape and murder non-Hindu women. It is a celebration of toxic masculinity.”

The transgender studies scholar Aniruddha Dutta showed in his presentation how the BJP’s rise had even affected the Hijra tradition where there has been a transformation from a “syncretic Indo-Islamic tradition to a more orthodox version of Hinduism”. The Dalit feminist P. Sivakami critiqued Hindutva as having “no vision for Hindu women except that it intends to prepare and reorient them against their imaginary enemy, i.e., the Muslim man, thus diverting her from her real struggles”. The feminist scholar Akanksha Mehta segued from this presentation, stating that “notions of gender and sexuality rooted in caste and race are crucial to the Hindutva project” even as she compared the analogous role of women among savarna (caste) Hindus and Zionists.

Hindutva and its relationship to nationalism was the theme of the session titled “Contours of the Nation”. The focus was on the operation of Hindutva in Kashmir, the north-eastern region and the Adivasi-inhabited areas of central India. The anthropologist Mohamad Junaid examined the “spectacle of domination” of the Hindutva state, characterising it as “primarily an anti-Muslim state”. He also spoke about the long history of Hindutva in Kashmir, tracing it to the land reforms of the 1950s, which were a challenge to “Hindu sovereignty”.