Just two days ago the BBC put on its website the ominously entitled “What is India’s caste system?”. A rhetorical question indeed because anyone familiar with the BBC’s constant anti-Hindu bias would already know exactly where that sort of vitriol was headed; blame directly apportioned to Hinduism, Hindu beliefs, Hindu civilisation and especially Hindu texts. With India wracked by protests around caste reservations in state jobs, and who qualifies for them, the BBC has once again emerged from with the age-old racist colonialist stereotypes in order to brainwash its readership and viewers, and most likely avert their attention to the now open knowledge that this venerable British institution has for decades protected and indeed promoted paedophiles and career rapists like Jimmy Savile from within its own ranks under a code of dishonour.
Therefore in trying to examine why the Haryana Jats and the Patels of Gujarat were asking to be classified as lower caste in order to qualify for state job quotas, the BBC avoided looking at the inequities of the reservations system itself, and instead took the well-worn path of blaming Hinduism and its inherent caste system for the whole problem.
It may come as a shock to many but this liberal bastion of the British establishment constantly wags its finger at the former colonial subjects which Victorian luminaries such as Rudyard Kipling portrayed as somewhere between child and monkey in culture and intelligence. If anyone read’s the BBC’s views on Hinduism they could be forgiven for thinking we are still back in that era.
The first thing which should draw our attention is this reference to three thousand years. It is in keeping with the Aryan Invasion Theory invented by Indologists to justify British rule. While other crackpot racist theories are confined to the lunatic fringe of extremist politics that the liberal BBC propaganda chiefs shun as much as they love their organic skimmed milk lattes, with regard to Hindus these offensive and derogatory racial fantasies are taught as fact.
It is these same theories of an Aryan race which led Himmler to abduct blond-haired and blue-eyed Polish children to be included in his master race as part of the Nazi lebensborn programme. This fact alone should concern us about the so-called expertise on Hinduism and the recent caste protests by Jats in Haryana.
Fortunately the new industries such as coal and steel took up the slack as the dispossessed flocked to urban centres to create slums similar to what we now find in India, and which the BBC blames on the caste system. Of course one only has to read Dickens novels such as Oliver Twist and David Copperfield to get a sense of the desperate poverty suffered by these oppressed masses under the extreme social stratification which was contemporaneous with Britain being the leading industrial power.
Only by political reform which granted vote to these toiling masses, and piecemeal legislation which stopped child labour such as chimney sweeping, and put in essential work insurance and other employment protection, did Britain and other countries ever achieve anything amounting to quality.
Manusmriti, widely regarded to be the most important and authoritative book on Hindu law and dating back to at least 1,000 years before Christ was born, “acknowledges and justifies the caste system as the basis of order and regularity of society”.
The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Many believe that the groups originated from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation. BBC
Actually the Manusmirti is a law book not a sacred text. Even if it was, it leads us into another interesting fact. The BBC enhances the monotheistic quagmire in which it is trapped and infected. From the time of the Protestant Reformation religion was seen as based on text. All else was ‘culture’. Sacred and profane were thus two mutually exclusive entities. Only in this context could ideas such as secularism and atheism as we now understand it arise. It would seem odd to other cultures and civilisations.
This however did not stop the colonial ‘experts’ from trying to fit other peoples into their mould. So there had to be a sacred text for every ‘religion’. For the constructed concept of ‘Hinduism’ this could at times variously be the Vedas, or Bhagavad Gita. But when apportioning blame on Hindus for caste, nothing worked better than the Manusmirti. This flawed idea conveniently ignores that law books such as this reflect norms at a certain point in time.
They are not its origin. Being a law book one would then assume that this predetermined bifurcation into profane and sacred would classify Manusmirti as a secular document – just as ancient Indian scientific advances such as decimal number, zero and works of astronomer Aryabhata are de-Hinduised and given a modernist secular gloss to make them acceptable. But then treating Manusmirti in the same manner would of course not allow the blame on Hinduism, as the BBC requires.
Yet the same criterion is scrupulously avoided when discussing other ‘faiths’. At various times the sacred books of Christianity and Islam have been used to justify slavery. Indeed the former Confederate slave states that seceded from the Union to retain their ‘peculiar institution’ are known today as America’s Bible Belt. This region was hostile to equal rights for African-Americans, and indeed remains the most conservative part of the nation, even propounding that creationism be taught in schools as parallel scientific fact.
Has the BBC found a comparable Manusmirti Belt? It must surely exist if caste is a problem and this book apparently is the reason behind this and much else which plagues modern India? Yet the BBC would never argue on the same basis that slavery is an inherent part of Christianity and Islam. After all these are contrasted as religions of ‘equality’ as opposed to the hierarchy in Hinduism.
Often criticised for being unjust and regressive, it remained virtually unchanged for centuries, trapping people into fixed social orders from which it was impossible to escape. Despite the obstacles, however, some Dalits and other low-caste Indians, such as BR Ambedkar who authored the Indian constitution, and KR Narayanan who became the nation’s president, have risen to hold prestigious positions in the country.
In reality it was fluid. Castes rose and fell. Society was not fixed in some stupor, no matter what the Orientalists preached, and continue to preach. The very fact that Ambedkar, from the Dalit caste of Mahars, could write India’s constitution should demonstrate this. After all who wrote the constitution of America?
A group that included slave owners such as George Washington. English law traces its idea of freedom in an unwritten constitution to documents such as Magna Carta. But Magna Carta was forced onto King John by the nobles who wanted to curtail royal power, not establish an egalitarian state.
The BBC in its usual anti-Hindu narrative glosses over some important facts. The Jats in Haryana want reservation quotas because as with social changes in England under eighteenth century enclosures, farming is becoming a decreasing career option. The actual social basis for this Orientalist view on Hinduism and caste is changing. While the BBC and other western media have been transfixed on this turgid Orientalist warped bias on Hinduism, that society has moved on.
Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state and has had Dalits as chief ministers; Kalyan Singh and Mayawati. With all the talk of right-wing Hindu extremists dominated by the high castes running India, fact is that Narendra Modi hailed from a poor family from the Ganchi community, which is classified as OBC (Other Backward Caste). At age 14 he was working on a tea stall to support his impoverished family. By contrast, at age 14 David Cameron was basking in the playing fields of Eton, one of the world’s most prestigious private schools. There could be no greater contrast today when comparing the elected leaders of two of the world’s democracies.
Indeed by this constant propaganda of Hinduism as an evil caste system we might ask what ivory tower and exclusive gated community the commissars of the BBC inhabit? If we compare just with India’s neighbour, Pakistan, the picture could not be more stark.
In 1947 this was the richer part of the subcontinent. With the secession of its eastern wing as Bangladesh, Pakistan should have pulled streaks ahead of India. Instead this country has been dominated for decades by a nobility and top military brass from the landowning feudal castes of Rajputs, Jats, Arains and Awans. The Bhutto family for example are Rajput. The Muslim Dalit castes of Massalis and Deendars rarely get beyond being offered menial jobs. Can this be blamed on Hinduism, when Pakistan is a Muslim majority country and a self-declared Islamic state?
But even if we look at the BBC’s own home the social barometers are stark. In the aptly named book ‘Unjust Rewards’ Polly Toynbee and David Walker wrote in 2008 of the widening chasm not just between rich and poor, but between the rich and the super-rich.
In Britain today wealth buys privilege and political power, to the extent of those not so fortunate. The odds are heavily stacked against social mobility that was once possible just two decades ago. By the early 1990s, one in three children were living below the poverty line, relegating Britain to near the bottom of developed countries. Yet in 1979 it was one of the more egalitarian developed nations. The social fabric is being torn apart as gangs provide the surrogate community and family for those despised as social untouchables in modern Britain:
“We need people to clean hospitals, care for the elderly, check out at supermarket tills, clerk the offices, labour on building sites, assist the teachers and sweep the streets. We can’t do without them, yet their paltry pay devalues the work they do, and the poor have been excluded. They live in an archipelago of estates that are feared for their disorderliness; their children are consigned to schools the rest take pains to avoid.
The contours of this other world are varied but its inhabitants, a third of the nation, hold too little power now to command respect and few are now represented by power-broking trade unions. They have become the butt of snobbery by the new middle class, mocked as chavs, Spudulikas, hoodies and low-lifes, portrayed as drunken scroungers on the TV series Shameless, their tastes laughed at in class-shock reality shows such as Wife Swap. Though most people in minimum-wage jobs strive hard, these unrepresentative, grotesque images encourage a smug sense that all the poor are ‘people not like us’. ”