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  • Caste discrimination case goes to the courts

    by Sunny
    23rd August, 2011 at 10:03 am    

    Very interesting (and worrying!) story in the Daily Mail (via Shariq):

    An Indian couple who met at a legal firm have become the first in Britain to claim ‘caste’ discrimination, saying they were forced from their jobs following their marriage.

    An employment tribunal was told that solicitor Amardeep Begraj, 33, was from a higher caste than her husband Vijay, 32, the practice manager.

    He belonged to the Dalits, formerly known as the Untouchables because of the nature of their work in roles such as cleaning, pest control or scavenging, and the lowest class of people according to the ancient Indian caste system.

    Mrs Begraj has told the tribunal that a senior colleague warned her against marrying Mr Begraj because people of his caste were ‘different creatures’, while he was told his position at the firm was ‘compromised’.

    What’s worse is that both are of Sikh background, which theoretically eschews the caste system as false. I hope she wins the case. Urgh.

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    1. sunny hundal

      Blogged: : Caste discrimination case goes to the courts

    2. Brit-Asian Girl

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    4. Nikeel Kazmi

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    5. Barbara Spence

      In the UK! In 2011! Good grief. Good luck to them. MT @sunny_hundal: Caste discrimination case goes to the courts

    6. Dave Harris

      Blogged: : Caste discrimination case goes to the courts

    1. Sarah AB — on 23rd August, 2011 at 10:39 am  

      There was quite a bit of coverage of this in the Times a week or so ago - I think they made it a bit of a campaign - I was thinking of posting something on it but was on holiday so didn’t get round to it. I think there was some implication that violence might have been threatened too.

    2. Sarah — on 23rd August, 2011 at 11:25 am  

      Yuck. Is this really 2011 in Britain?!

    3. Refresh — on 23rd August, 2011 at 11:48 am  

      I hope they win exemplary damages.

      ‘What’s worse is that both are of Sikh background, which theoretically eschews the caste system as false.’

      Its not theoretical. Why is it that despite their ‘beliefs’ people reach for the gutter so easily?

      The caste system is a staging post to slavery, a grave injustice against the poor.

    4. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd August, 2011 at 1:37 pm  

      I know it’s not the same but if I can use my short chalk comparison, caste prejudice isn’t exclusively an Indian thing. Class prejudice is still alive and strong among the kind of rich wankers that last weekend, while in my suit at the Grand hotel, asked me if I was the taxi driver…

    5. Sarah AB — on 23rd August, 2011 at 3:08 pm  

      Kismet - yes, I cross-referenced it in my mind with the way in which the social class you are born into in the UK will have a huge effect on your life chances, even though it’s not codified in the same way the caste system is. And racism is a still more obvious parallel. An important additional point, which I’ve just remembered, is the move to make discrimination against someone because of their caste illegal in the UK.

    6. Optimist — on 23rd August, 2011 at 3:10 pm  

      The Daily Mail claims that,

      Dating back to at least 1500BC there are dozens of different castes based on race and religion, with most of these represented across Britain.

      But this issue was discussed in detail on 27th June, 2011 in the post by Rumbold
      and I had commented as follows:

      “Although some scientists in India recently tried to use the DNA testing to prove that caste system perhaps had racial origins, and according to some, thus perhaps the prejudice more acceptable, but those scientists only showed that there were no racial differences and thus it was purely based on, as suggested by Karl Marx, the ‘division of labour’.

      “The primitive capitalism in India used this method, giving rise to social segregation, but the British colonialists attempts to further develop capitalism by the use of Cornawlis’s Permanent Settlement Code, and the general ‘divide & rule’ policies, really entrenched the system.”

      As I said before, it’s a terrible social system but its not based on race. However, some racists would like it to be so, so that they can claim that we are all racists, which is not true.

    7. Optimist — on 23rd August, 2011 at 3:27 pm  


      I hope they win exemplary damages.

      I totally agree with you. Its best to ‘nip in the bud’ this sort of nonsense which only diminshes our abilty to fight racism.

    8. damon — on 23rd August, 2011 at 6:57 pm  

      Its best to ‘nip in the bud’ this sort of nonsense ….

      Optimist? It’s well entrenched.

      Them Daily Mail readers comments are something else.
      Britain in all it’s opinionated glory - for good and ill.

    9. Optimist — on 24th August, 2011 at 9:38 am  


      I meant in this country - we have to stop any more cases like the one reported where people from supposedly ‘high caste’ who have the power over people supposedly from ‘lower caste’ and are using that power to discriminate against them.

    10. Kamal — on 24th August, 2011 at 10:38 am  

      ‘What’s worse is that both are of Sikh background, which theoretically eschews the caste system as false’

      The law firm they worked for is run by 2nd / 3rd uk generation Sikhs, this is no suprise at all for anyone from the Punjabi community even the Gudawaras in Coventry and no doubt elsewhere are run on a caste basis.


    11. damon — on 24th August, 2011 at 12:06 pm  

      Optimist. There’s only so much the wider society can do to change people’s attitudes. I presume that when it comes to Hindu people marrying in Britain, the other family’s cast has nearly always been a consideration. I know one Indian Brahmin woman who wouldn’t dream of marrying down.

      Anti-discrimination politics have failed in many areas. It has led to a culture were it was said outside the court yesterday that Dominique Strauss-Kahn only got off the charges because of racism … and you can’t do much to change people’s minds on that. A culture has been set in place where such grievances cannot be assuaged easily.

    12. Optimist — on 24th August, 2011 at 1:32 pm  

      damon -

      As you know that ‘prejudice’ and ‘discrimination’ although related but are entirely different spheres. While ‘prejudice’ is related to people’s attitudes, ‘discrimination’ is based upon power; people with power being able to discriminate against people without that power.

      Although the society can not easily change people’s attitudes, as you put it, but it can easily enact laws to stop discrimination and enforce those laws properly.

      When you say, ” Anti-discrimination politics have failed..”, are you saying that the existing anti-discriminatory legislation has not been applied as robustly as they now appear to be applying laws against theft and looting against the recent rioters?

      If that’s what you mean then I am in complete agreement with you.

      As regards to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, one can only assume that dropping of the case had some element of racism involved.

      If you compare the case of Julian Assange with the above case then it becomes quite clear. One of Assange’s cases is based on the allegations that he had sex with a woman he was in bed with while she was asleep. The woman admits to having had consensual sex with Assange earlier on but appears to say that she did not agree for him having sex with her while she was asleep.

      Now, this may have been a horrible experience for her but could not just a sincere apology from Assange done the trick? Does he deserve to be delivered to the FBI/CIA so that they can have him extradited, sorry ‘extraordinaryly renditioned’ to some third country to be ‘tortured’ ?

      Whereas in the case of Strauss-Kahn, even the prosecutors have admitted that there is DNA evidence that a ‘hurried sex act’ took place. Here the poor woman, who was NOT in bed with him, had not had consensual sex with him prior to her accusation, says that it took place without her consent and yet the rich, powerful and famous man is let off.

    13. damon — on 24th August, 2011 at 2:57 pm  

      Well (as usual) I disagree with most of what you say Optimist.
      The Tarique Ghaffur Metropolitan Police racism charges show what a mockery the whole thing can become.

    14. Optimist — on 24th August, 2011 at 3:06 pm  

      damon -

      It must be very nice living in your ‘ivory tower’.

    15. Sajn — on 28th August, 2011 at 1:49 am  

      Hate to be a party pooper but what if their case isn’t as clear cut as they make it out to be? From the article it doesn’t seem as if the Tribunal has ruled on this case so why does everyone simply accept their side of the story?

      Similarly, how do you know that the DSK case was dropped because of the race of the accuser? Every article I have read suggests that it was dropped because her story had inconsistencies.

    16. Solent Singh — on 10th September, 2011 at 10:36 pm  

      Hang on a minute. Use your brains now people. The fella in question has a HINDU first name and a HINDU surname. Just because it suits Sunny’s purpose to make out the fella is a Sikh and Sikhs are very very evil indeed it doesn’t necessarily make it so.
      After reading some of the comments here I reckon its the case of the blind leading the blind. Sunny could pretty much make up any stuff he wants and many of you here would lap it up like a ….er…blind person that laps things up.

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