(The Asian Independent)
RESS STATEMENT – 01 July 2020
This is a great precedent set by Californian regulators legal action against Cisco Systems Inc., that is accused of not protecting an employee subjected to Caste discrimination by two other members of staff. This type of discrimination is no surprise to us. Casteists have had a free run for millennia to discriminate against Dalits. They’re now being found out by effective equality laws of the host countries that are shining a light on the vile practice of Caste-based discrimination.
The UK Government must take action and outlaw Caste discrimination in the UK. We have a law already agreed by the UK Parliament in April 2013 ready and waiting. Relying on case law as the UK Government is advocating, is just not good enough.
We have been campaigning to outlaw CBD for decades. Our 2009 report ‘A Hidden Apartheid Voice of the Community’ during the passage of the Equality Bill was an important piece of evidence at a critical time. Like in the USA, Caste has migrated with the diaspora. Now second and third generation British born are still identifying with Caste as a BBC documentary ‘Do Hindus have a Caste problem’ broadcast last year and the recent The Sunday Times article on Caste algorithms in the marriage website Shaadi.com have demonstrated. Added to the early migration is the migration since the 80’s of highly skilled, mostly Indians, with some bringing their Caste prejudice with them.
In the last year alone, ACDA has been involved with three Caste related Employment Tribunal cases. Two settled out of court and agreed financial and remedial settlements. This included the company concerned in one case publishing on their website that Caste-discrimination is part of their equality law framework. The case that proceeded to a hearing at the Employment Tribunal in 2019 found Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and others – Respondents ‘unlawful acts of harassment, discrimination, victimisation and protected disclosure detriment were part of a series of linked acts and/or a discriminatory state of affairs which lasted until Mr Meshram’s dismissal’. The ET judgement was inconclusive on the Caste-discrimination per se but the judges noted in the Judgement they were ‘surprised by the tenor of the Respondents’ evidence on Caste and ethnic origin and the noted the Respondents’ witness’ reluctance to give any evidence about Caste. This was expected. The lack of legal clarity meant the burden of proof fell on the Claimant who had no funds and was unable to secure legal representation.
Not all Caste discrimination cases go to the courts. Earlier this year, we challenged a large local NHS hospital in England about guidance it had published on its website called ‘CARING FOR A HINDU PATIENT’ The leaflet included words and phrases like “Harijan”, “Untouchable”, and “low Caste”. It referred to “Brahmin”, as being “highest Hindu Caste” and lumped together “menstruating women and mourners” and Dalits as “ritually unclean and therefore untouchable” in the same appalling document. The hospital swiftly removed the guidance after we wrote to them setting out our concerns. The hospital told us the leaflet had been published a few years ago but couldn’t tell us who’d drafted it or approved it for publication. Without the law, we won’t have the level of change of behaviours that is required to stop the Caste practices creeping in.
In the private sector it’s also welcome news that both Twitter and YouTube recognise Caste hate speech as being unacceptable and say so openly in their guidance. Facebook also recently announced their new policy on hate speech will also include Caste. It’s time for the annihilation of Caste.