Now in this programme we have this delightful installment:
In keeping with the traditions of the BBC, full blame was laid on the explicitly ‘Hindu’ caste system. In fact the presenter used these exact words:
“This ancient Hindu system of social stratification disadvantages not only lower caste Hindus, known as Dalits, but Christians and Muslims as well.”
How is that possible? The mainstream discourse is that Dalits convert to these supposedly egalitarian faiths to escape the inherent prejudice in Hinduism.
Yet according to BBC Radio 4 Sunday, an ancient Hindu system is responsible for problems faced by those who are not Hindus.
“Because in India we have reservations based on caste, for the Dalits, the low caste Hindus, there are some jobs put aside for them and some educational opportunities as well.
Now what’s happened in the last few years is, that’s been extended to some other religious communities like the Sikhs, and also to the Buddhists. But it’s not there for the Christians and the Muslims and that’s why they’re having this protest because they say this is so totally unfair.
Why is it there for certain communities and not there for other communities, for whom some of their populations are equally economically disadvantaged?”
Let us stop there and examine what Tandon said, especially the last comment. He says “economically disadvantaged”. So is this is a socio-economic issue or a religious one?
Is the BBC so blinded by its very own anti-Hindu prejudice that it blames this explicitly ‘Hindu’ caste system and later admits it is actually a social problem which is hardly unique to India.
In fact right now with the row over former prime minister David Cameron unashamed nepotistic nomination of peerages to the House of Lords, and how even Labour’s Shami Chakrabarti has got in in the act, as well as the cosy relationship which businesses exploiting workers on zero hours contracts enjoy with Westminster, it is happening in the BBC’s very own back yard.
Presenter and Tandon then replay the age old colonialist myth of a rigid social structure dominated by Brahmins, which is hard to get rid of and create what Tandon calls a more equal and “secular” society.
But how does ‘secularism’ mean more equality? Did it work under communism where the party apparatchiks had their own luxurious housing and special privileges? Look at North Korea for your answer.
How about France where the extreme laicism has not stopped the growth of deprived urban estates known as banlieus? What Tandon means by ‘secular’ is de-Hinduised. So a less Hindu India will mean a more equal India? But look at India’s neighbours. Have they achieved more equality?
In Pakistan, the Bhutto family with all their espousal of socialism counted their estate not in hectares by kilometres. That is not an exception in a country where zamindars not only own the land but the enserfed peasants who toil on it.
Are the BBC going to blame some distant Hindu legacy for that? It is however strange that India has kept its democracy through thick and thin and not succumbed to military rule as in Pakistan and Bangladesh, or civil war as in Sri Lanka. Yet you never hear Hinduism praised for keeping India democratic.
“I think you are right. Because this current government of the BJP under the Hindu nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi, is seen as a high caste government, we have seen in the last few weeks an increasing number of attacks that have taken place within the Dalit community.
So whilst on the on hand you are going to have the Christians and you’re gonna have the Muslim communities protesting on Wednesday, Black Wednesday because of the discriminatory way that they feel reservations are based on the system of caste, you’re also having huge demonstrations from lower caste Hindus across the country saying the government needs to do more to protect them.”
High-caste Hindu government? Modi was from a poor background who had to leave school and start work at fourteen. Hardly a privileged background!What is more he is from the Ganchi community of Gujarat which is classified as being OBC (Other Backward Caste). Yet to the BBC all this is irrelevant. Modi leads the BJP and that equals high-caste Hindus. Case closed. Unfortunately not because Modi is hardly an aberration in the BJP.
Dr Udit Raj is a long time social activist fighting for the rights of Dalits. He was born in Ramnagar, Uttar Pradesh into a low caste Hindu Khatik family, and is also the National Chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations. Raj formed the Indian Justice Party in 2003 and the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations on 2 October 1997 and, in 1996, also established the Lord Buddha Club.
Udit Raj, in the tradition of the Indian Dalit leader and author of the Constitution Dr Ambedkar, converted to Buddhism in November 2001 alongside thousands of followers. Raj had formed partnerships with Christian organisations including the Indian Social Institute and the All India Christian Council. Raj has worked with prominent Christian leaders, such as John Dayal and Ambrose Pinto as well as with Muslim leaders such as Maulana Mahmood Madani, general secretary of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. Then on 23 February 2014, he joined the supposedly high caste Hindu BJP. The Statesman reported on 4 March 2014:
He also said the Bahujan Samaj Party had done little to help expand opportunities for the Dalits in the government and the private sector, and lashed out at Mayawati, the supremo of the BSP and Dalit icon.
He said that her pro-Dalit policies only helped her own community, the Jatavs. Back in 2011, Arpit Parashar reported in Tehelka:
Indeed Jatavs committed caste violence against other lower castes such as Valmikis, and Mayawati herself used the caste names of Dusadh and Khatik in a derogatory manner. Much of the caste violence in India is actually between various Dalit, OBC or Scheduled Caste communities.
Reservations are the means by which one guarantee a lucrative job with housing and other benefits. It is less about equality and more about who joins the ranks of the elite and can look down on the colonial subjects. As with skin colour after the British Raj, the faces may change but the structure remains intact.
Of course none of this was heard on the BBC, which continued with its policy of actively excluding the Hindu perspective and just blaming Hinduism for India’s social problems – even when it is the Christian and Muslim leaders who admit that these are caste problems that their religion cannot solve.
So they ask a supposedly high caste Hindu government to help them where by the BBC’s admission their own supposedly egalitarian faiths failed. Can this absurdity go any further?
Well yes as it happens. Being the BBC, it was never mentioned how in India there is personal law for Christians and Muslims. Anyone wanting a secular common code is denounced as a Hindu nationalist. Yet such a common code exists in western democracies with no concession to religion.
It is not just the French republic that has these principles. Modern Turkey was founded as a such a sate with secular and not religion legal code. Yet to ask the same in India is denounced as Hindu fundamentalist. The next interesting thing is about these reservations. Who designed them and excluded Christians and Muslims? Some Hindu nationalists and extremists? High caste Hindus?
The Hindu Code Bill covers Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and indeed anyone who not a Muslim, Parsi, Christian or Jew. It was drafted by a committee under the chairmanship of Dalit icon DR Ambedkar himself, which anti-Hindu demagogues always like to quote when it suits them. But the whole point of having affirmative action for Dalits was that it was Hinduism which supposedly oppressed them.
If Christians and Muslims demand the same privileges then it must a social and not a Hindu issue. Hence this continued use of a ‘Hindu’ caste system is nonsense. If it were a Hindu issue then there would be no need to extend reservations because these religions that supposedly preach quality would have solved the problems they now encounter.