Annie Namala, a Dalit activist for New Delhi’s Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion was a featured columnist for the National Post this December, taking questions from Canadian readers curious about India’s Caste Hierarchy when it comes to cultural discrimination of a people, especially women.
India had long passed a law against discrimination based on Caste Hierarchy, but it seems the law is toothless with a political will to stop it.
Her Q&A response from readers was tepid at best, surprising since Toronto where this story was published has the largest East Indian population (300,000 plus) in Canada. I decided to pick up her story to the masses to see if British Columbia’s citizens are curious enough about India’s Caste Structure to query Ms. Namala’s story for her to answer.
I have included similarities at the end of this story with Canada’s culture, including our own version of a caste heirarchy with New Canadians and Canadians. I am sure many will identify with it and see certain similarities between the two in some form practised today.
While British Columbia is only 2nd to Ontario when it comes to a large East Indian population, Surrey, BC has the largest population.
It’s been said a Hindu caste system exists in Canada, regardless what Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration state to those wishing to immigrate to Canada. New Canadians are told in no uncertain terms they must embrace the diversity and multiculturalism that is Canada. Certainly for many of us, it seems a failed Trudeau inspired Liberal experiment when Canadians today see one sided political correctness denied with their own Canadian culture. Merry Christmas for example replaced as Happy Holidays and the banning of christmas trees in some cities.
Defining a Caste as a tenet of Hinduism, begs the question, is not a Caste system just a form of discrimination practised by other cultures, including our own? In Canada, we just call it by a different name.
Bottom line, it’s just a form of “discrimination” plain and simple! Whether discrimination is religion or cultural based or another form, it’s needs to be identified as a ” major cancer on society” seemingly with no cure, with the extreme cases resulting in honour killings practised by some cultures. While it seems treatment is widely available globally, it’s only practised by a few, including Canada.
A Montreal based studies group polled 2,000 new Canadians of all ethnic backgrounds of their knowledge of Canada. Surprisingly 82% of those polled indicated a strong knowledge of Canadian History, assumably based on the Canadian Immigration exam in which 75% is a passing grade.
This poll shows while many have high marks in their knowledge of Canada, some seem to reject certain aspects which may go against their old world values.
The Caste system, a religious doctrine does not only extend to East Asians. Many a non western culture bases their first response when meeting an individual by first asking what their religion is, where do you hail from, what does your family do for a living, and ending with what neighbourhood do you live in? All these questions were then formulated into an impression if that person wished to associate with the individual or not.
In Moscow, Russia, a job applicant must include a headshot, in some cases a full length photo of themselves to a prospective employer before even being granted an interview, the younger and more attractive, including no children and unmarried the better your chances.
If one is to aspire to a government position in Moscow, Russia, along with a head shot of a photo, including a full length shot of yourself, is another prerequisite. You have to have been born in the city of Moscow. Holy 1950s Batman!
In Canada not too long ago, the saying “The wrong side of the tracks” was a worrying response when answering a question from parents when a new playmate was asked where he or she lived.
The wrong side of the tracks, a term where lower class workers lived, versus the other side where the middle class white collar set resided is an term still used to this day.
Some of us older than dirt may recall a parent asking their adult children what was the religion of their girl or boyfriend, their chosen career, including their family background. In the case of Irish Catholics or Jewish families, a wrong response would elicit everything from fainting spells to a family cardiac, a comedic relief seen in many TV and Movies even today.
While every parent back then, including some today wishes their child “marry up”, reality is, all may not be of the same faith, be doctors, lawyers or millionaires, they are too far and few between. Perhaps great expectations seem to mask reality when many persons take as gospel the ludicrious reality TV shows treating our youth. Shows such as Who wants to marry a millionaire, American Idol, X Factor, ad nauseum. Life is not a Beer Commercial, though advertisers wish you to believe it.
While all this certainly makes an impression on Canadian youth and new Canadian youth as valid, it is derided by parents of strict religious or cultural doctrine as decadent and morally reprehensible.
Canada used to have similar cultural mores in the pre and post 1950s until the groovy 1960s where TV shows were heavily censored before airing, as well interracial dating and interracial marriages was a big NO, NO in entertainment and real life. To go against convention of the day whether it be lifestyle choice to interracial relationships would get you ostracized and in some cases hung by your neck.
Thank god those days of long ago are behind us as a Western society in accepting all are equal. Though I surmise in the Deep South of the U.S and religious zealots, it is still not widely practiced nor accepted.
Today, Canadian society insist on a separation of religion and state. This does not sit well amongst other non western cultures who immigrate to Canada, such as East Asians and Muslims who adherence to their religious doctrines and culture is thousands of years old, regardless what Canadian society and its laws dictate or the Citizenship exam states.
Many of these cultures will fight tooth and nail to keep their beliefs when becoming citizens of Canada, regardless of the consequences, including honour killings, this, despite what is said that these are just a small percentage of incidences. Is a few still too many in Canada or anywhere else in the world?
The death of a child by the hands of their own family or extended family for the sake of honour is unfathomable to Canadians.
When Canadians hear in the media about the honour killing of a child based solely on the fact the teen only wished to fit into Canadian society shows us that regardless of how high a passing grade a new Canadian gets on their Citizenship exam, many new Canadians feel their religion and cultural laws will always trump Canadian laws.
Canada Justice seems unable to define what constitutes an honour killing versus what is murder? Ludicrious as this sounds, is not the end result is a dead child or mother?
Is it possible these Lawyers enjoy dancing around with judicial semantics, by dragging out the obvious to eternity in order to get their client a reduced sentence? It appears to be the case when their dance partner plays the race card or cultural – religious tune. This is when the phrase “all are equal in the eyes of the law” sticks in Canadians craw, when clearly the law is not equal to all!
Today, even Canada has it’s own form of caste system with Canadians, the difference being we just don’t go killing our children or parent based on religious laws for interacting with someone else of a different faith or culture.
Our Caste system is our dirty secret, we like to call Discrimination.
Canadians cannot claim our Canadian society is free and clear, when reverse discimination, ageism, healthism, handicappism, sexism, racism, language discrimatory laws all illegal in the eyes of the law. Elitism and cronyism are illegal to a degree, though all are discrimatory against the neer do well or affected.
All the above seem to be a mainstay of acceptance in Canadian society, while for many Canadians, these discriminatory practices bar many when it comes to employment, social standing, housing, bank loans, to getting out of the poverty rut.
Though some Canadians falsely scream discrimination when their career in “professional loafism” is questioned, our society still provides their necessities in life. Occupy Activists, I am directing this one at you!
Discrimination is something Canadians need to work at, even though Canadian law states it’s against Canadian law on the Canada Citizenship and Immigration exam, doesn’t mean New Canadians will adhered to it.
Laws must be brought down hard against those who contravene our laws. Complacency has no place in society, it seems no one complains until it happens to them, for fear of retribution, embarassement and publicity. Is it no wonder many fail to report it.
The issue facing our R.C.M.P. organization today are female officers whose courage under duress are suing their employer for sexual harassment by fellow officers, with many female officers being thrown into the spotlight and their reputations being questioned in court and in the media. Certainly hypocritical when these Officers are sworn to protect it’s citizens from harm and uphold Canadian Law, just don’t count on getting any protection for yourself under the same circumstances, nor from your fellow officers or your employer. It seems many a criminal issue stem with the British Columbia R.C.M.P. Was there a hiring and ethics issue unforseen or ignored during the screening and hiring process? How disheartening.
Hopefully a change with a new R.C.M.P. head may change things for the better and improve morale. Though little comfort for these female officers and too little, too late perhaps!
I wonder how many of these female officers or women of a similar fate show a deep empathy for a Canadian muslim woman who was raped and demanded her face to be covered in her trial against her accuser? By the way, she was denied her request by the Supreme court judges, you know these types, the ones who dress up like Santa Claus!
While India has laws against practising the Caste System of discrimination, it is still ongoing far worse than anywhere else, with little retribution against those who break the law. The similarities with discrimination so common appear to prevent after the fact, instead of stopping it in its tracks.
Canada, like other Western countries hide discrimination better and when caught, seem to pay cursory lip service to it’s affected citizens.
In ending, sorry for bringing about bad tidings, but it had to be said.
Merry Christmas, and especially a prayer and blessings for Annie Namala for stating the obvious to the clueless of the world.