What is Caste

Caste in basic terms is a hierarchy of people within a community with those at the top having a perceived sense of superiority compared to those who are seen to be beneath them.  It is artificial, has existed for centuries, divisions can be based on occupation and levels of purity, and is a means of maintaining power and control by those higher up the ranking.

The UK’s 2010 Equalities Act defines Caste as:

“a hereditary, endogamous (marrying within the group) community associated with a traditional occupation and ranked accordingly on a perceived scale of ritual purity. It is generally (but not exclusively) associated with South Asia, particularly India, and its diaspora. It can encompass the four classes (varnas) of Hindu tradition (the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra communities); the thousands of regional Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Muslim or other religious groups known as jatis; and groups amongst South Asian Muslims called biradaris. Some jatis regarded as below the varna hierarchy (once termed “untouchable”) are known as Dalit”.

Caste discrimination

This is the discrimination by one person or persons against another based on where they are with the caste hierarchy.  It can be by a person from a perceived higher caste against someone from a perceived lower caste or vice versa.

Evidence for Caste based discrimination (CBD) in the UK is avalable in numerous independent and Government-commissioned reports including those by the:

  • National Institute of Social and Economic Research – ‘Caste in discrimination and harassment in Britain’ (2010)
  • Dalit Solidarity Network UK  – ‘No Escape Caste Discrimination in the UK (2006)

Report Caste Discrimination Click here