Tag Archives: Racism

Caste Discrimination in Australia


Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had rightly said that wherever these upper caste hindus will go they will bring caste system and discrimination with themselves.

It’s a prejudice that’s been outlawed in India. But now it seems caste discrimination could be creeping into daily life in Australia.

Mitra and Rita Pariyar came to Australia three years ago, believing they would leave behind the prejudice they faced in Nepal. They were wrong.

A recent lunch in Sydney revealed how deeply ingrained the couple’s caste status is — even among friends.

“The only burgers left were beef burgers and what my friends told me was that it was alright for me to pick up the beef because I was an untouchable and therefore I shouldn’t really mind about it,” Mitra says.

“But I felt offended about it because I consider myself as much a Hindu as they are.”

Mitra and Rita are Damais — members of one of Nepal’s lowest Hindu castes, otherwise known as untouchables.

Mitra says they’re frequently the targets of jokes by other members of the Australia’s Nepalese community.

“It’s almost a part of their lingo that they use these derogatory terms. You are damai, you are as black as a kami, these comments are common. So the upper caste people might not feel it, they might use it as a form a joke, but it badly hurts us.”

Employment discrimination

Two weeks ago, Rita was interviewed for a job. She says the interview was going well — then the Nepalese interviewer learned her surname.

A week later, Rita called the manager to confirm her start date.

“She said No. And I said why? And she said no reason, I am going overseas, like that. And I feel that I am low caste, and that’s why.”

But the discrimination extends beyond employment prospects.

Mitra says their low caste identity also isolates him socially within the Nepalese community.

“The discrimination or the exclusion is more subtle – they won’t say ‘you are low caste, get away,’ but it’s more likely that I am not included in family events, and functions and festivals. There is more open and more formal sort of segregation as well, that’s because caste associations are creeping in in the country.”

“They use these derogatory terms, ‘You are damai, you are as black as a kami’ – these comments are common. So the upper caste people might use it as a joke, but it badly hurts us.”

Raj Azad agrees caste discrimination is happening in Australia.

He is a Dalit — a caste so low in India that it is not recognised officially in the country’s social hierarchy — and has found the discrimination he faced in India had followed him to university in Melbourne.

“In my class I found two boys arguing with each other and they were using different caste names to abuse each other.”

“Indians are really good at identifying the castes of each other.  They microscopically peel it layer by layer and then they come to know and that is what hurts me.”

Monash University researcher Lavanya Raj says when Indian Australians realise she’s a Dalit — also known as an untouchable — they change the way they behave towards her.

Her flatmate was from the highest caste, Brahmin, and when he found out her caste their once friendly relationship turned sour.

“Once we were just having a discussion and I was supposed to give him some money – some money that we use for the house to buy stuff,” she says.

“When I gave it to him, he put his hands out as if he was going to take it but then something told him in his mind that probably he should not touch me, and he withdrew his hand and asked me to keep the money on the table.”

“I was extremely angry and I threw the money, not exactly on him but somewhere near him and I walked off.”

A widespread problem

Many South Asian countries have outlawed caste-based discrimination, while in Britain, caste is recognised as a form of discrimination under its equality act.

John Kennedy is president of the United India Association, a group representing many Indian-Australian associations in Sydney.

He acknowledges caste is increasingly creeping into Indian-Australian communities, but he rejects the practice.

“Casteism, yes I can see that certain communities have started their own caste-based associations in Australia, and I can see that it is being practised in Australia,” he says.

“But as an Australian citizen I don’t want this to happen.”

“If racism is not allowed in this country, why should casteism?”

There are around 100 Australian-based Hindu temples and their priests all belong to the Brahmin caste.

Co-founder of Sydney’s Helensburgh Hindu temple, Natarajan Iyer, says currently there’s no need to appoint priests from lower castes.

“99 per cent of them will be Brahmins.  If there is a need we may consider it.  Right now, we are not in that sort of a situation.”

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The law in other countries

Caste discrimination is outlawed in many South Asian countries, including India and Nepal. Other countries affected are taking steps to address the issue.

Britain’s House of Lords adopted an amendment outlawing caste discrimination in 2013.

So far, a caste discrimination case has not reached the Australian courts.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane says there is no legal mechanism to address complaints for caste discrimination in Australia.

“If racism is not allowed in this country, why should casteism?”

“If there is discrimination that involved caste alone, then it’s by no means clear that we would accept the complaint. Caste is not specifically covered under the discrimination law that we have at the federal level.”

Professor Simon Rice from the Australian National University College of Law says caste-specific laws are not needed in Australia, as it is covered by other legal mechanisms.

“I don’t know that we need to legislate specifically for caste. Race covers a whole range of characteristics- skin colour, for example, nationality, ethnic origin, caste will just be another one in the list.”

But Mitra says specific recognition of caste-based discrimination in Australia would help to stop its spread.

He says it would also help vindicate those members of the community experiencing caste discrimination.

“If racism is not allowed in this country, why should casteism?”

With Raymond Selvaraj and Kulasegaram Sanchayan from SBS Radio Tamil

Source – SBS

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Filed under Caste Discrimination, Casteism, Dr B R Ambedkar, Latest

“I Have a Dream” for Dalits of India


There is no nation of Indians in the real sense of the world; it is yet to be created. In believing we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into thousand of castes be a nation? The sooner we realize that we are not yet a nation, in a social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us. – Dr B R Ambedkar

As all of us welcome year 2012 and greet each other with open arms, I visualise a dream. I have always said that I am a dreamer. Yes, I do have a dream, a dream (Begumpura) that Guru Ravidas saw about 650 years ago for everyone or a dream (Utopia) that nourished by Dr Ambedkar or I have a dream that Martin Luther King Jr. saw for the blacks of America. Here is my dream for Dalits of India almost along the same lines what Guru Ravidas, Dr Ambedkar, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others saw for better world.

I have a dream that one day; Dalits will break the chains of caste discrimination and free themselves from the chains of slavery that has ruined Dalits for thousands years. Yes, it’s my dream to see casteless society. I do also dream that Dalit houses won’t be set on fire or Dalits won’t be boycotted anymore. Dalits won’t be killed for the same name as of upper caste people or Dalits won’t be forced to change their names or Dalits won’t hide their names to escape caste discrimination. I also dream with open eyes that untouchability will become history and there will be no untouchable.

Searching for a Dream? (Photo Credit: Ravi Shankar Suman)

I have a dream that one day; for Dalits justice won’t be delayed or justice won’t be just another word or justice won’t be alien to Dalits. I anticipate that Dalits won’t be told to wait, wait and wait bit more for justice; a wait that always meant never. A day won’t be far when everyone will be treated equal and will live with dignity and pride. That will be the day, when Buddha will smile upon India again!

I have a dream that one day; Dalit women won’t be paraded naked, raped or forced to commit suicide for nothing wrong. Not only the Dalit women but whole women society will not be forced to do menial jobs. Women won’t be disrespected, exploited, neglected or won’t be treated as a sex-object only in Indian society. I dream that one day, equality will come in all spheres and women suffering will come to end.

I have a dream that one day; Dalit students won’t be made to sit separately in classrooms, or won’t be discriminated and forced to commit suicide in schools and colleges. A day will come when Dalit students won’t be purified via sprinkling cow urine on them and Dalit students’ seats won’t be left unfilled in schools and colleges. No Dalit student will be forced to do cleaning work in schools, no student will deny food cooked by Dalit cook and Dalit students will be able to use the same playing grounds as other caste students do.

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Filed under Caste Discrimination, Casteism, Dalit-Bahujans, Dr B R Ambedkar, Equal Rights, India, Women RIghts

Upcoming Movie: “Shudra – The Rising?”


Now you can watch this movie from here.

I believe till now everyone might have heard about the upcoming movie on Dalits of India, i.e. “Shudra – The Rising?” In case you have missed the news, here is the news! Movie is produced and directed by Sanjiv Jaiswal and movie will be of 120minutes. We all know we can’t express the pain and suffering of Dalits in 2hours movie but still I believe it’s an ideal runtime for a movie and it will be advantageous.

Movie: “Shudra- The Rising?” Poster

A bit of storyline:

Movie is based on story of 250million people born as untouchables (and today’s Dalits) in Hindu caste system and subjected to humiliation and slavery since ancient times. When aryans came to India with the intention of looting, they enslaved the peace loving natives. Manu – Hindu guru – imposed laws on untouchables and barred them from reading, writing and listening holy mantras. Natives were treated less than human, impure, unclean and were forced to do menial jobs.

In the movie you will see, Shudra denied water, (Dalits still fight for such rights) a Shudra child’s nose chopped off for chanting mantras, (Dalits are still not allowed to enter many temples in India), a pregnant Shudra women forced to sleep with upper caste people (Dalit women still are raped on Day to day basis in India) and many more heart touching scenes – the only crime of theirs – they are born untouchables.  Movie seems to be based on real events, if not real I bet, you might have heard such incidents once in a while in your life-time. It is believed that nature took ages to make man out of animal, but it took moments for certain men to make their fellow human animal again. “Shudra – The Rising?” highlights the depth that evil human mind can succumb, to cling on to power and supremacy.

Recently, the “Shudra – The Rising?” team has received screening Invitation for “Shudra – The Rising?” from South Asian Film Festival which will take place June 13-17, 2012, in Vancouver, and in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada.

My best wishes to the team

I strongly believe that movies on social issues should be made and given more emphasis. Sanjiv Jaiswal has chosen an important issue of caste discrimination, which has ruined millions lives and hopes. After watching trailers of movie, I can say that it’s a sincere effort by the team to put forward the caravan of Dr Ambedkar. I wish the team a grand success!

P.S.: Movie is going to release in Feb. 2012 and you can visit the movie site at http://www.shudrathefilm.com for latest updates. You can also follow producer and director – Sanjiv Jaiswal – on twitter at @sanjivjaiswal and join the facebook page of the movie at http://www.facebook.com/pages/SHUDRA-the-rising/102558246496607

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Filed under Buddhism, Caste Discrimination, Casteism, Dalit-Bahujans, Dr B R Ambedkar, Equal Rights, Reality of Hindu Festivals