On the 5th March 2013, in London, a religious fundamentalist, in what can rightly be described as the most insidious and potentially devastating of hate crimes, attacked the life and livelihood of my children. He threatened to destroy their professional advancement, the rewards of honest endeavor, the spiritual and religious evolution, which is the expectation of every Hindu and of many peaceful contented persons. He threatened them their place of respect and dignity in society. Indeed the human rights and very well being of my children was assaulted by this assailant. His assault was calculated. It was manipulative and it was premeditated. He chose his location and timing with diligence and his weapon was one that had been carefully precision engineered over many decades by historically the most violent of religious fundamentalists, and in the use of which he was fully trained.
A ‘Real World’ Hate Crime Scene
The hate-crime scene had been set. His co-conspirators were also prepared, having been briefed in the dark corners of the palace, having been given ample opportunity to prepare their own ammunition and choice of weapons and having been briefed on the strategy itself. They too took up their places to both help prepare the minds of the gathering and also to launch their projectiles in support of the impending assault. At a time of tranquillity, in a setting when the assault was least expected, he deployed his lethal projectile and at his signal. His co-conspirators launched their volleys in rapid succession, raining down a hail of hatred upon the wholly unsuspecting victims.
Once the weapon had been deployed and the assault completed, the settling emotional and intellectual dust revealed three casualties – every Hindu ever born (including my children) and yet to be born had been injured, the reputation of all British Hindus lay slaughtered, and the dignity and reputation of the institution itself as a seat of “evidence based debate & reasoning” had been, in the eyes of all rational observers, crucified.
The masterful assailant who executed this act of religious persecution, was Baron Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford. The scene was the British House of Lords. The devastating weapon, a favourite of centuries of Hinduphobics and other spiritually corrosive “assassins of indigenous traditions”, was the word CASTE. “
The Anatomy of the Hate Crime
On the 5th March 2013, a debate was underway in the Upper Chamber of the British Parliament. A debate on the Governments proposals concerning Business and Enterprise. It was a dry and business like subject, one which hadn’t drawn particularly significant interest from outside of the House. But it was a debate that was well attended and was important for the Government to see successfully concluded.
Lord Harries of Pentregarth stood to participate in the debate and introduced what has since become commonly known as the “Lord Harries Caste Amendment”. In the hour that followed, in a performance worthy of the best of Shakespearean actors, Lord Harries demanded, pleaded, cajoled and implored the gathered Peers to rush to act and to protect 480,000 of her Majesty’s subjects who did not have the protection of the Law and suffered on a daily basis.
Lord Harries demanded that the word Caste be swiftly added to the list of “protected characteristics” already included in the Equality Act of 2010, i.e. Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage and civil partnership, Pregnancy and maternity, Race, Religion or belief, Sex, and Sexual orientation.
What followed was a masterful execution of “vilification and denigration by association”, co- ordinated with generous helpings of entirely unjustified indignation, self-righteousness and the unrelenting flagellation of the British Hindu community. With manipulation and orchestration worthy of Machiavelli, clothed in cloying false piety, Lord Harries skilfully and deliberately misrepresented data, which if true, branded 50% i.e. 1 in 2 of all British Hindus, as being guilty of being born prejudiced, perpetrators of discrimination on a daily basis.
The baton was eagerly taken up by Lord Inderjit Singh, who deceitfully and in a manner of betrayal reminiscent of the quintessential traitor Raja Jaichand, brought shame to both the Sikh and Hindu tradition by abandoning Satya, “Reality” in a thinly veiled act of religious persecution.
This perfidy was achieved by misrepresenting the fully humanist teachings of the oldest scriptures of humanity, the ancient Vedas. In a speech which brought shame to the memory of Guru Teg Bahadur (Tyagi Mall) revered by Hindus and Sikhs alike, Lord Singh wielded hearsay and religious prejudice itself in successfully connecting Lord Harries’ unevidenced, fabricated deluge of Hindu crimes directly with the Hindu scriptures, completely avoiding the inconvenient truth that over 90% of the cases referred to in the report being contemptuously brandished under his nose by Lord Harries, named his own Sikh brethren and their institutions as guilty of the self-same charge.
In a parade which called longingly to the glory days, when Bible brandishing Anglicans delighted in pouring contempt on Pagans and Heathens alike from their elevated pulpits, Baroness Lady Thornton, who co-sponsored the amendment, pronounced: “Studies confirm the caste system exists in the UK, with over 850,000 people affected”, not for a moment feeling the need to consult census data or evidence.
Lord Deben called to a mythical imaginary past, populated by those Anglican British saviours who had magnanimously passed legislation to protect non-whites while the former Bishop of Oxford, was that day standing as the saviour of the downtrodden brown folk of India, the so called “Dalit” community.
Lord Harries basked in the glory of being the Saviour to whom the community, whose largely converted Anglican descendants and their Anglican co-religionists, had turned in despair. With arms outstretched, they beseeched his Lordship to free them from the shackles of the notoriously discriminatory British Hindu community with its abhorrent Hindu caste system, or so everyone was led to believe.
An honourable Lord of Pakistani descent, Lord Sheikh launched into a further targeted act of Hinduphobia, whilst completely overlooking his own traditions’ ongoing genocide of minority communities, a tradition which has seen Christian, Sikh and most noticeably Hindus, ethnically cleansed in multiple acts of genocide, in both Pakistan and Bangladesh, in even this decade. In the spirit of public service both Lords Deben and Baroness Flather, flamboyantly prideful in their air of Lordly infallibility and supremacy, concluded by pouring scorn and contempt upon democratically elected representatives and the religious leaders of the British Hindu Community.
The remaining Peers bathed in the joy of their most rejuvenating and nourishing pastime, shouldering Kipling’s ‘White Man’s Burden’ and saving the British Hindus, the dark skinned heathen of the 21st Century, from the ravages of their uncultured unbridled passions and prejudices.
The members of the Lower House led by Labour MP Virendra Sharma, a few weeks later regaled their audience with tales of woe and sorrow, tales which inconveniently conflicted with the grass roots experience and personal evidence of many MP’s, critically even those from the most Indian of constituencies, and which conflicted also with my own experience of having lived in this country for over 50 years.
Lord Harries’ assault reached into the very heart of my home and disrupted the tranquillity of my family and my community, it cast a cloud over my children’s future, British children born in Ascot and educated in British schools in Berkshire, and fully decent gentle members of our British community.
The Official Statistics on Hindu Community in England
As a member of the British Hindu community that with only 2% of the population, contributes 6% of GDP, has the second lowest rates of arrest, trial or imprisonment at 0.5% i.e. only 421 Hindus in prison nationally (after British Jews’ 0.3%) I was stunned to learn of this allegation against us.
According to the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics, of all ethnic minorities in Britain, the British Hindus had the highest rate of economic activity in 2011 whilst suffering disproportionate levels of institutional prejudice and discrimination. Scholars state that the Hindu community in the United Kingdom, and Europe in general, has consistently faced discrimination in immigration policies adopted by the local governments.
In local councils, construction or expansion permits for Hindu temples and community centres have been turned down for years, while Muslim mosques and Christian churches have been approved by the same councils and built.
Nearly 50% of Hindu children, both boys and girls, in British schools have reported to being victims of bullying for being Hindu and their religious heritage.
To emphasize the level of discrimination, the recent much publicised Hate Crime policy, focussed entirely upon the Muslim and Christian communities on all the 40+ pages, with no mention of discrimination to the Hindu, Sikh and other non-abrahamic traditions a single time!
All of this and yet, with NO reliable evidence, no social impact analysis, no public consultation and no genuine participation from the targeted minority community – how was it possible that such a Hindu phobic amendment had found its way to the floor of the House of Lords?
The impact of this legislation, the unrestrained hatred towards and denigration of my minority religious community and also the torrent of pain being expressed by so called “Dalits”, all caused me to stop, dumbfounded in my tracks. A detailed review of the process which climaxed that day in the Lords, uncovered even more deeply troubling and wholly unexpected revelations.
In today’s sadly not so Great Britain, a Britain where in 2016
- a Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has been condemned in the strongest of terms for initiating an illegal war, amidst calls for him to be tried as a War Criminal,
- where a Chief Constable is on record as declaring that there are probably in excess of 750,000 paedophiles inflicting incalculable harm upon vulnerable citizens at this very moment,
- where the latest report reveals that in excess of 50% of all girls are sexually harassed in schools,
- where surveys have indicated that 1 in 3 of the indigenous British population are racist,
- where we are now on the 4th attempt to conduct an Enquiry into the INSTITUTIONALISED sexual abuse of vulnerable adults and the wholesale grooming of Hindu, Sikh and White young girls spanning a period of 30 years,
- where the Church of England is on record as admitting that it has repeatedly failed to protect vulnerable children entrusted to their care,
- where the Archbishop of Canterbury has accepted that sexual abuse, Bullying, Sexism and Racism are rife and are systemic problems in the ‘by law established’ Church of England,
- where Parliament has been rocked by a succession of scandals concerning abuse and bullying…
How on Earth was it possible, in the midst of all of these devastating social and religious challenges, with so much work for decent Parliamentarians to deal with, that the British Hindu community would be been singled out for such generous attention and be targeted for such an insidious corrosive assault?
The Labour Party, the traditional darling of all British Indians, was approached but in response, they deployed the ultimate ‘weapon of mass compliance’ (traditionally very sparingly used as a coercion of last resort, used only to force MP’s to toe the party line despite their own assessments). The draconian 3 line Parliamentary Whip itself was summoned to ensure that this legislation was passed, carried on a wave of indignant self-righteousness, without detailed Labour party scrutiny nor consultation with its Hindu community representatives, and yet there was no reliable evidence to support the dire need nor the desperate urgency, merely Lord Harries’ masterful manipulation of the Parliamentary process.
The famous Anglican fundamentalist Wilberforce, in 1813 addressed the Commons saying “Our religion is sublime, pure and beneficent, theirs (the Hindus) is mean, licentious and cruel.” Whilst James Canning standing tall on the Anglicans belief in their own superiority, told a gathering of Hindus, “You are all a parcel of poor ignorant semi barbarians, you do not even understand your own language and system as well as we enlightened Englishmen who have been at regular Grammar schools…” All whilst Bishop Heber was crafting a hymn chanting “The heathen in his blindness, bows down to wood and stone…can we whose souls are lighted with wisdom from on high, can we to men benighted, the lamp of life deny”? Judging from the words of Lord Deben, one has to ask whether the ‘racist orientation of old’ of the House of Lords, with its assumed superiority over even grass roots community organizations, is still alive and well, thriving and active covertly if not overtly. Has so little changed in the Upper chamber in over 200 years?
Who Created the Modern Version Caste System and How
I wondered about the consequences to Interfaith when it became common knowledge, that the Caste system which Lord Harries was railing about, was itself an official creation and imposition of white Anglican Colonialist missionaries. There were indeed then, as now a very small minority of decent men, who abhorred their own creation seeing its destructive effect, whilst continuing to impose it.
The Lords did not refer to the annotation made by the white Anglican ML Middleton “We pigeon holed everyone by caste and if we could not find a true caste for them, labelled them with the name of hereditary occupation. We deplore the caste system and its effect on social and economic problems, but we are largely responsible for the system we deplore. ML Middleton, ICS, Superintendent of the Government of India, in the Census 1911 Report for Punjab and Delhi (Vol. 15, Part I, p. 343).”
Lord Harries, graced with the mantle of academic rigour associated with a Dean of Kings College, moulded in scholarship by Selwyn College Cambridge, and a Gresham Professor of Divinity, can be expected to know what most informed Hindus know, that amongst the educated Hindus it is accepted that the Anglican plunderers, known romantically as “Colonialists”, created the modern day caste system in India. In doing so in India, the social engineers of the Anglican Church were recreating the horrific power structures which they, as the religious and moral force in Victorian Britain, had also created in Britain and successfully inflicted upon the British population in the 18th and 19th centuries.
And here in the 21st century, an Anglican Bishop was once again, blackening whole swathes of a minority British community, using the same philosophy, only this time he was bringing home one of Colonialist Britain’s most successful exports, the concept and ideology of Caste.
“The British colonial administration supported and sustained, she argues, the caste system because it echoed the subtle and deeply entrenched social hierarchy already prevalent among the British themselves. Subsequently, the colonial state deliberately raised the caste consciousness of the sepoys of the Bengal army, encouraging Brahmins among them to regard themselves as elite and to become more particular about the preparation and eating of their food. Doniger has noted that the notions of caste, which in India had traditionally been relatively fluid and secondary, became rigid because the sepoys were made to understand the caste as being central to their notions of self identity and respect. Subsequently, the idea that the caste is the basis of the Indian social order and that to be a Hindu is to be a member of a caste became a dominant colonial axiom (Doniger 2009).
The answer to the question “Who created the Caste system?” is that the Anglican Jihadis of the British Raj created the Caste system. The Church of England is both responsible for its existence and to be held accountable. Are they also responsible for manufacturing the concepts of untouchables, dalits, etc?