UNITED KINGDOM, April 20, 2013: (HPI Note: This report was sent in by Bharti Tailor, firstname.lastname@example.org).
The groups who are considered ‘Low caste’ on whose name the legislation on case is being brought in spoke out today to say that they do not want the legislation (being proposed in the British Parliament). “All the groups enjoy protected status and enjoy the privileges that come with this in India.” said Mukesh Naker of the British Hindu Voice a Leicester-based organisation. “However they are fully integrated into the British Indian and the wider British community in the UK and feel that there is no need for legislation on caste grounds in Britain.” “We were brought up as equals, we know our history but it has never restricted our present and certainly does not hold an influence on our children and grandchildren’s futures.” said Jitendra Mistry President of the Prajapati Association of the UK who represents 25,000 potters and carpenters from the state of Gujarat.
Manish Amriwala General Secretary of the GAKM who represent 25,000 people from the Gujarati Mochi (Cobblers) in the UK said “Why are Labour MPs legislating for something that they admit hardly occurs? Why are they not legislating on class discrimination, which is more prevalent and effects all the population of Britain? This legislation on caste will lead to caste profiling, identification of people along castes lines and permanently stigmatise many groups across the country. It will bring caste into forefront when there is so little of it in the minds of the people. We appeal to British politicians to think hard and long before embarking on legislation over here that has done much harm in India; where it has become ingrained and permanently a marker on people’s records.”
Until this issue was brought to his notice last week, Jawahar Patel of the Koli community, like many people in the UK was not even aware what his caste was. Now he has read up about it and feels that the legislation will lead to caste entering the psyche of many. He feels it is best left in the past, in the History books. The children born in the UK after the 1970’s do not know what caste is. In one or two generation they will even forget their roots as to which village, town or State their forefathers came from.
The groups are angry that the Labour Party has used this issue as a political tool and are trying to rush it through without due diligence, when there is no initiative to event talk about the issue of class in the British context. Shila Tailor President of the Darji Community who represents 2500 people in London, noted, “The NIESR report on which the politicians are jumping to act was inconclusive. Who did they consult? Because it seems that not a single person was interviewed from any of the communities we represent.
The Anti Caste Discrimination Committee, The ACLC is a task force which has come together solely for the purpose of stopping caste being institutionalized in Britain. It is made up of 56 groups representing 344,569 people who are saying that legislation on this issue will do more harm than good and that the equalities legislation in place in Britain is adequate for all needs accept class. Of the 344,569, approximately half are people who would be classed at ‘low caste’ in India and be in the Scheduled and Backward class categories and in receipt of positive discrimination measures. However in the UK the communities are fully integrated and they feel there is no need for positive discrimination or legislation on the issue of caste.