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The Caste Divide

By Naresh Puri

05 July, 2004

This is a transcript of BBC radio programme which was broadcast in
April 2003.

[John Cleese] "I look down on him because I am upper class".

[Ronnie Barker] "I look up to him because he is upper class".

The British class system as parodied by John Cleese and the two
Ronnies in the Frost report.

[Ronnie Corbett] "I know my place". [Laughter].

Since the end of the Second World War, the class system has been the
butt of many jokes, but it's been the enemy of politicians such as
John Major who aimed to bring about what he described as a truly
classless society. But there are many who argue that there is now
another equally potent but imported form of social hierarchy taking
hold in Britain - and that's the Indian caste system.

"Caste has caused division and it does cause social devastation. The
problem is that nobody has accepted the problem within this country.
Caste is one area which is totally swept under the carpet".

"I don't feel hurt by the racial discrimination. It's the caste
system, which makes me feel absolutely disgusted. People of the same
stock, people from the same continent, people with the same problems,
they practice the caste discrimination and they make you feel

"Our Indian people have come to England, they go to America, they go
to Canada, they go to all over Europe, but unfortunately, wherever
they go they take caste system with them as well".

The voices of British Indians who've made their home in contemporary
multicultural Britain. Yet today, they still feel they can be
victimised because of the caste system. Caste is often associated
with rural India - a time and place at odds with British Society
today. It's a system of hierarchy in which birth determines who is at
the top of the social ladder and who is at the bottom. For many of
the nearly 1 million Britains of Indian origin, the caste system
continues to exert a powerful influence over their everyday lives. It
can determine who they can marry, who they socialise with, which
temple they pray at, and whether they will have any respect amongst
their peers. But it is still a subject which within the Indian
community here are unwilling to discuss openly. At the heart of this
discomfort are a group of people who are considered to be beneath the
rest of society - the Untouchables. There are now an estimated
200,000 people from formerly Untouchable backgrounds living in the
UK. They include second and third generation Indians many of them who
don't want to categorise themselves as Untouchables, but find that
others do. Brother and sister Rama and Parveen are one such example.

"There's trouble everywhere. You can go to Derby; you can go to
Birmingham. Go to the student nights and you see it. Someone will get
called a name and it will all kick off from there, and then get what
you will call a ruck on your hands". [Rama]

"Yah. I wasn't aware that this caste thing existed in my community.
It meant nothing to me until I went to university, and then suddenly
my caste was more important than the degree I was doing and the
person I was. It wasn't what are you doing? What sort of person are
you? It was what caste are you and then I'll decide if I want to be
friends with you". [Parveen]

So basically even in this day and age you still got abuse?

"We get treated like lower class. They believe they are the tractor
drivers and we are their farm workers, we pull out the potatoes while
they eat". [Rama]

And they refer to the traditional high caste of Hindu society, the
Brahmins whose job it was to pursue knowledge whilst the Shudras at
the bottom were traditionally occupied with menial work. Untouchables
often called chooras and chamars were considered even beneath this -
falling outside the system altogether. The routes of Rama and
Praveen's experience lies back in India where the State legally
outlawed the status of untouchability in the 1950s. But traditional
hostility towards Untouchables remained. Many first generation
British Indians clearly remember these experiences, such as Ram Lakha.

"Back in the school, back in India, we were not allowed to drink
water from the same pitcher. Somebody had to pour the water onto my
hands so I can drink whereas others could pick up the glass and drink
it. I had a rotten bag which I used to push all the books in. People
used to drop mud, bricks, leaves and everything into my bag but I
couldn't do much about it. I was beaten up by the kids because they
thought I was not supposed to be
equal to them".

Although British Indians don't have to contend with such severe
discrimination, experiences such as Ram Lakha's have permeated Indian
cultural memory and continue to exert a potent force on relations
between castes in Britain today. That's because unlike the class
system the notion of pollution is at the heart of the Indian caste
structure. Bhikhu Parekh a Centennial Professor as the London School
of Economics and the Chair of the recent commission on the future of
multiethnic Britain.

"Those people who are engaged in work which one considers as dirty
like collecting human dirt which was not only seen as very menial,
but also activities which could spread disease. These people were
kept at a distance because they were sources of infection if you
like. So there was a moral pollution because they were not good
enough to other things. There was physical pollution because they
dealt with human dirt and therefore these people were regarded as
those people not to be touched. Hence they came
to be called Untouchables. The British called them depressed classes
and Ghandi called them Harijans (children of God) and today they call
themselves Dalits which means the oppressed".

The routes of the caste system and untouchability might seem to lie
in ancient Hindu culture dating back some 5000 years. But there is an
increasingly held view that it was the encounter between two
hierarchical cultures a few hundred years ago that gave us the caste
system we've inherited today. Judith Brown is a professor of Hinduism
studies at Oxford University.

"The British who actually went to India in the late 19th and 20th
century were very much from one social world in Britain, the
professional administrative class or the officer class in the army
and that slotted like another caste at the top of the hierarchy. They
found no difficulty in understanding a hierarchal society because
they came from near the top of one themselves".

"The later part of the British rule turned caste into the basis of
Hindu society. They took an extremely rigid and static view. And
therefore they created the illusion that caste was premolar that they
have always existed and from 1931 when British made caste as one of
the important issues to collect data in the census it became rigid.
Once people felt that they had identified themselves as belonging to
caste a or b, they somehow had to stick to it".

And another result of that interaction between these two cultures has
resulted in this - Southall in West London one of the numerous
established areas across the country today. It's a place where more
than 50 years of migration has created a town which local people
fondly refer to as Little India. As another Asian part of the UK
they've brought with them their cultural landscape, music, their food
and their own brand of shops. And of course, they have also imported
religion and social values too. When mass migration took off in the
50s, the vast majority who arrived were men who left their families
behind. Initially caste had little impact on their lives. But as
large scale migration continued in the 60s and 70s, caste acquired
greater significance. Parminder Singh is a former deputy chair of the
Commission for Racial Equality.

"As the size of the migrant community increased, particularly in
terms of families joining their breadwinners, caste became a
prominent issue because once the families are there then the question
arises of people trying to find partners for their children. It is in
this context that caste got its traditional significance".

And today many second and third generation Indians are still
encouraged to have arranged marriages where their partners are from
the same caste as them. Even those who don't have their marriages
arranged are taught the importance of staying within the boundaries
of caste. Those ignoring this can find themselves cut off from family
and communities - as this young man who wanted to remain anonymous
found out:

"I met [somewess?] and just like started meeting each other and
started falling in love slowly. Then we just thought we should get
married. Her parents didn't agree. I'm quite educated. I had good a
job, worked for banks. They would only oppose us because they thought
they were of a higher creed or caste than myself. Nothing else. Her
parents started beating her up. One day her dad beat her up so much
that I had to take her away from that house. Her back was like full
of bruises and everything and I took her to the doctors. I was like
under so much stress that how could people do this to their own
daughter. They are like willing to hurt their daughter. They are
willing to throw her away just because they think the person she
loves is lower than them".

You were both totally cut off from her parents?

"I didn't stop her from seeing her parents but she would say that
like you are not allowed to go there, let me go myself this and that.
So I let her do it, but deep down I was thinking if they don't accept
me as your husband, you're doing the same thing. I let it all go
because I didn't want to put pressure on her. So eventually they just
brainwashed her and ruined our marriage".

Was it caste that ultimately broke down your marriage?

"Yes, caste. Silly caste system". [Ends]

"How old are you?

I'm 28 years old".

Here at the Suman Bureau, one of Britain's oldest matrimonial
agencies, many second and third generation Indians still come for
help in finding a life partner. Caste is still a strong factor
according to the owner Parar Bagawar "People are still mentioning the
issue of caste and bringing it up when it comes to marriage and
generally it is the lower caste that are sort of outcaste is the word
simply because people don't want to marry into a lower caste. And
then we also find these days that those who originate from a lower
caste prefer to meet someone of the same background because they know
that they will perhaps be victimised so to say the fact that they are
of a lower caste. The first generation are still around and have very
strong beliefs and to some extent they have put those beliefs into
their children as well".

"If somebody came and said he was an ex-Untouchable I think many
progressive Hindus, however they may try to get rid of caste, would
somehow feel they were superior and this man was inferior and that
their daughters and sons shouldn't marry. But if you look at the rest
of the Hindus, there the caste system is in decline. There is a great
feeling here and as in India that unless Hindus unite they will not
be able to make much progress. So middle and higher caste are
beginning to unite. Roughly, I would say that nearly 25 percent of
the Hindu marriages here in Britain are taking place across the caste
barriers". [Bhikhu Parekh]

But that change at the top does not seem to be filtering down. For
those from the lower caste, marriage from outside their communities
remains fraught with difficulties. There is evidence that some of
them are changing their names to disguise their backgrounds. Parar

"It does become a big problem. We've seen it a lot for example that
in the Hindu community. There are a lot of Sharmas all of a sudden
which is supposed to be a Brahmin very high caste. And the way you
actually find out the reality is you ask them the roots where they
originate from and that is when you actually establish that they are
not as Brahmin as they say they are".

So, on a lot of occasions you're not simply a marriage bureau, but
you have to investigate people? "Yes, we do for some clients. If they
actually need us to then we can advise further. Normally it means
going to deeper into the roots of where they originate from what
names have been used in the past".

But many people in Britain are no longer prepared to hide their

[Recording of someone speaking in Punjabi.]

A religious service being conducted in Punjabi. But this isn't taking
place in a mosque or a temple - it's a Christian church in
Wolverhampton. The majority of recent converts here are former
Untouchables. There are now over 100 Asian Christian congregations in
the UK stretching from Glasgow to Southampton. Pradeep Sudhra is the
Chair for the Alliance for Asian Christians and preaches to low-caste

"It is not the Dalit or the down trodden person who needs Hinduism;
it is the Brahminal and philosophical Hinduism that needs the
oppressed people in order for their system to work. And really to be
quite frank, I'm quite pleased that people who've been oppressed all
these centuries are finding their own ways. I seek anyone unashamedly
and preach to them in freedom in Jesus Christ. And if the Dalit are
set free from that oppression because of my preaching about Jesus
Christ, then I thank God for it".

A lot of Hindus say you are taking away Hindus from the fold of
Hinduism in the name of Christianity. You get hate mail?

"The air becomes blue when you read some of the hate mail I get, but
then that's part of life. If in my dying or in my living I see even
just one little child set free, then thank God for it".

But this attitude concerns many Hindus in Britain who point towards
the controversy surrounding the issue of conversion in India. Their
Christian missionaries have been attacked and some have lost their
lives amid growing anger at mass conversions of low caste Hindus.
[Nolekant Bringal] represents the British section of Hindu Parashad,
an organisation which is at the heart of the Hindu nationalist
campaign in India

"We have great respect for Christianity. There are good churches and
we work with them here and in Britain but we do have certain fears.
There are some Christian movements, evangelical movements, whose
agenda is to convert and that breaks our Hindu society because
conversion by attacking another religion by exploiting the ignorance,
is something to be discouraged. Hinduism is reformative. It goes
through reformations. If there are bad practices which have crept in,
we appeal to modern Hindu society to reject them and reform".

While the VHP is keen to distance Hindu from caste prejudice, many
people are worried that the consciousness of caste has also crept
into a religion which was mean to bring about equality.

[A Sikh prayer.]

A reading from a Sikh holy book the Shri Guru Granth Shab. Sikhism
was founded in India in the late 15th century by a former Hindu Guru
Nanak, a strong opponent of the caste system. Those Hindus at the
time who converted to the new religion were attracted to its
egalitarian message. Suresh Grover is the chair of the National Civil
Rights Movement:

"Sikhism was a rebellion against the Hindu caste system amongst other
things. It was a rebellion against autocratic regimes that existed at
that time. That is why everybody as a was Sikhism is called a Singh
and woman is called a Kaur because you couldn't distinguish the caste
system, but Sikh people talk about the greatness of the Gurus but
they never talk about the manner in which Sikhism was evolved to
tackle caste. So the fundamental lesson of Sikhism is never

Many Sikhs now accept that their faith which was originally intended
to breakdown the caste barrier has in fact absorbed them. The Sikh
peasantry known as the jats believe they occupy the top position of
the social ladder. Indeed many jats such as Balbir Grewal who heads
Southall's Guru Granth Shab temple are proud of their caste heritage.
She is a rare voice amongst the Indian community who is willing to
speak out about the importance of
maintaining a caste identity.

"My father used to tell me you are born jat and you will die a jat.
Everybody be proud of whatever creed caste they are and I think we
should stick to it. It's like roots. How can you plant a tropical
plant into a cold country? It has to be in a tropical country
otherwise you are lost. We are already lost in this country by
eastern and western cultures and if
this carries on the time will come nobody will know which background
religion or
caste they come from".

And the importance of maintaining a caste identity has not been
ignored by the young British Sikhs.

[Bhangra singing and music]

In fact it has been central to the development of Britain's Punjabi
dance music bhangra. Bobby Friction hosts Radio 1's Asian underground
music show. "On a purely bhangra level there are many songs about jat
pride, about the life of a jat, almost jat nationalism is running
rampant in bhangra music now to the point where every bhangra album
that comes out Britain has at least one track that alludes to the
power of the jats. One of the most famous bhangra songs is ever is
`Putha jatta de' which mean we are the sons of jats and we are proud
of who we are and what we do".

[Bhangra music]

But why are the young British Sikhs so committed to the idea of a
caste identity? One event in recent Sikh history may offer an

[Old radio broadcast in English]

"The crisis involving Sikh extremist in Punjab has come to a climax
in a bitter pitched battle between government troops and Sikhs
holding out in their holy shrine in the Golden Temple at Amritsar. In
heavy fighting which, began last night 300 hundred people have been
killed - 250 of them Sikhs".

The hostility between Indian troops and Sikh separatist militants
ended in the invasion of the Golden Temple in 1984 was the watershed
in modern Sikh history. Bobby Friction says the rising tide of
nationalism in India translated into a stronger caste consciousness
amongst young Sikhs. "The Sikh nationalist movement in the 80s was
jat-led. Their politics were specifically designed to appeal to the
jat masses. Now when that filtered
back to England, I think a lot of jats in England became more
nationalistic. There were a lot of human rights atrocities committed
by the Indian Government. About 90 per cent of the men whose lives
were lost were jat. A lot of the militants started playing on that.
It first started out as our Sikh men are being killed and it
literally came down to the Indian
government is killing our jat men. So it didn't actually help the
cause of no caste in our religion".

[Sikh prayer]

A growing awareness of caste amongst both Sikhs and Hindus in Britain
has let to another phenomenon - the building of temples based on
caste. A large number of Sikh and Hindu temples across the UK are now
run along caste lines. Members of each caste attending their very own
temple. Guru Ravidass Gurdawara in Bedford is one such Sikh temple
which caters for former Untouchables known as Ravidassis. They
worship their own guru - Guru Ravidass, who championed rights of the
Untouchables and his birthday is the biggest yearly event within the
community. According to Gurmail Singh Chambers who is one of the
Trustees of the Temple:

"This is what you can say is our Christmas Day today. So as far as
the Ravidassi community is concerned once a year the whole of the
community get together to celebrate Guru Maharaj's birthday
celebration and it will go on all day today until 6 or 7 o'clock.
There will be fireworks tonight and the whole of the building will be
lit up".

This is the big day?

"This is the day. This is the day I would say".

The temple is a lavishly constructed building costing nearly a
million pounds and is equipped with a gym and a community centre. But
Mr Chambers says the decision to build their own temple came out of
necessity rather than choice.

"When I came to England in 1964, I noticed that there was a need
because when I talked to the older people they told us that there was
a Sikh gurudwara here but we were no not really treated as equals".

What did people say to you?

"People used to say `Eh chamar va, ethokaur passe lelo othe pass bar
nekal do".

So basically they were saying `Take their money and then kick them
out of the temple'?

"Yes. So we started hiring halls and in 1974 we bought our own
building. That was in Queens Park, the old Methodist church".

But there are many amongst the Indian community who feel the
proliferation of temples along caste lines is creating profound
divisions. Suresh Grover from the National Civil Rights Movement:

"Lots of local authorities give permissions for temples to be
developed. And if you look at any Indian area in this country, they
will allow not just a temple run on the basis of Brahmins but all
lower castes. In fact what it does is consolidate and
institutionalise caste discrimination".

We contacted several local authorities in Asian areas across the UK
with existing temples. They confirmed that specific questions about
caste are not asked when they make the decisions to give grants to
local communities for temples to be built. They say that it is a very
difficult situation to monitor.

Here at the Valmiki temple in West London built for a group of former
Hindu Untouchables, caste divisions have led to a very public rift
within the Hindu community. The Valmikis who attend the temple out
rightly reject their roots. Piaralal Sobah is the cultural secretary
at the temple.

"Hinduism is a very wide term not meaning religion, it means people.
If we are applying Hinduism as people, then yes, we are Hindus. But
if we are saying we are Hindu religion then we are not because the
Hindus have not accepted us for a long time. They have not now, and
they never will. So how can you say we are Hindus? No".

"I have been at many meetings where the Valmikis or the chamars or
the ex-Untouchables strongly disassociate themselves from Hindu
society and would have nothing to do with it. That trend is there.
But I would have thought that this kind of isolation will sooner or
later break down because there will be enough common interests to
bind us together. For example if the Valmikis isolate themselves and
they don't achieve well educationally or economically then they will
have to fight for equal opportunities, therefore they will have to
unite with other high caste Hindus and so on. So I would have thought
the compulsions of politics will force them to come closer". [Bhikhu

That compulsion to bind has not always been successful in uniting the
British Indian community. When it comes to life in the private
sphere, whether it is marriage or worshipping in a temple, those from
the lowest castes feel they have been held back because of their
place in the social hierarchy. And that sense of alienation has also
spilled over to public life as well. Ram Lakha is a labour councillor
in Coventry and from a formally Untouchable background:

"I became first a councillor in 1989. My name was put forward by the
Labour Party and members of the Labour Party but there was a lot of
resentment on my selection. One of the relatives came to tell me in
the pub when we were having a pint. He came to tell me that such and
such person came to say `Why are you going to vote for him because he
is a chamar'. So there was some kind of whispering campaign within
the membership and though I got through the first time, they
increased the Labour Party membership. It was
unfair the way it was put in. Members didn't know they were members.
They were brought in to vote me out. They did the next year. They
could not stomach that a person like me should be a community leader
for them when they are from a so-called high caste. They had to wage
a campaign to get me out. And I was out".

Were you bitter?

"I was bitter. It is natural. But I knew that if I just keep showing
the bitterness, that's what they want. So I found another ward where
there were no Indians and that's where I came in and there was not a
single member of Indian. I succeeded from there. I am still there
from a long time".

But these allegations are denied by Gordon Wright who was the
secretary of the Labour Party's Northeast Coventry constituency at
the time: "There's no way people would have recruited people to come
in specifically to vote against Mr. Ram Lakha. One has to remember
that at that time there was a conflict between the moderates in the
party and those that we considered to be the left wingers of the
party. He was regarded as a
left winger. He was deselected because he was on the wrong side at
the time".

And obviously you are talking about politically and not caste-wise?

"Oh no, not caste-wise. I mean I did know that there is a caste
system for Hindus and some of a higher caste would look down on those
considered to be of a lower caste with some disdain but certainly
nothing was ever brought into the open on that. If there had been a
campaign about it, but certainly, I would have acted upon it. But
what one Asian says to another in a conversation has really nothing
to do with me".

"I think white colleague are aware of the issue. They know that this
is going on in the Indian community but they also know that they need
the votes because I don't have that many votes in our community,
neither Ravidassi or Valmiki community. We haven't got that many
votes city-wide were are a very small community. So they need the
votes. The democracy is mobility in that sense". [Ram Lakha]

And it is not just politics where accusations of caste prejudice
abound. Many members of the lower caste feel that leaders of the
Asian community are not doing enough to counter caste discrimination.
In fact some go even further in their criticism of community leaders.
Davinder Prasad is from the Voice of Dalit International, a group
which campaigns for the rights of former Untouchables.

`I find some people who are heavily involved in promoting racial
equality, they are fighting campaigns to promote equality in Indian
and English people, but the same people, when it comes to their
brothers and sisters they are the people who are promoting caste
discrimination of their own people"

Davinder Prasad recalls one key incident in his local city Coventry
which involved a booklet under the guidance of local councillor

"I wouldn't name the person but he is a Brahmin councillor who was
the chairman of the social equality department of Coventry City
Council. This booklet `A guide to minority ethnic customs religions
and aiming systems in Coventry's was issued by his department in
1995/96. Now it describes the Hindu caste system `Caste is inherited
by birth and one cannot change or leave one's caste. Hindus in
Britain may wish to observe the caste system and wish to avoid dining
and intermarriage with members of other castes'. It's unbelievable
this booklet was coming out of Coventry City Council - a government
agency. If this was published in any Indian government department or
office the head of the department there would have had to resign".

That draft booklet was eventually withheld and Coventry City Council
issued an apology. The councillor in question who devised the text of
the booklet, Prashotam Lal Joshi, was not placed on any disciplinary
action. But when we contacted Mr Joshi with regards to the incident,
he began by saying he regretted the decision to make a reference to
the caste system:

"I regret that because that has done a lot of harm on the way things
are developing people belonging to higher caste are placed in a very
difficult position. When I was a councillor a document was produced
where there was only very small reference towards Untouchables and
they created the allegations. These castes have become very
sensitive; they're very vocal. Difficulty in defence that lot can be
said but there are very few people
that have come forward".

[Recording of children playing in playground.]

The emphasis on cultural diversity has nowadays led to schools like
this one teaching as many as four or five religions to its pupils.
Hinduism is one of the religions taught as part of the curriculum at
secondary school. Students are given an introduction to the main
caste groups within the Hindu tradition and taught that a hereditary
system where birth determines one's place in society. Many former
Untouchables such as Davinder Prasad find this extremely

"It is very unfortunate. My children come home and ask me `What are
we?" and I have to explain to them that we are not in the caste
system and it confuses them because as a part of that national
curriculum in schools as a part of Hinduism children are being taught
about their position in the caste system. Unfortunately, our people,
most of them, were illiterate, they did not have any clue about
government education systems and first generation Asians,
particularly those of the high caste educated back in India, they had
a change to get involved with formulation of schools' curriculum's
and schools educational policies. Somebody has knowingly done this
and we want to undo it".

We asked the Department for Education for a response about the
continuing presence of caste in the national curriculum but they
declined to comment directly on the issue. However, they wish to
point out that recent introduction to citizenship as a subject on the
national curriculum, pupils are given a distinct opportunity to
develop an understanding of the nature of prejudice but many like
Judith Brown believe that it is the responsibility of those within
the British Indic community to bring about change in educational

`It is in a sense, up to Hindu communities of Britain to put pressure
on those who make the national curriculum. It is very difficult if
people who are outside the tradition have to try to describe it
without help from those inside. The problem with Untouchables, that
even here in Britain they tend to have come from such deprived
backgrounds in India, it takes a while before they are in a position
to be able to exercise clout and leverage in
the public sphere."

[Recording of bhangra music.]

In today's multicultural Britain it may be hard to believe caste can
exert such a powerful influence. The values of meritocracy are at the
heart of contemporary British society - values that most people
believe that whatever their background they can succeed through their
own efforts. And many within the British Indian community believe
that a classless society cannot truly exist when a caste system is in
place. But Bhikhu Parekh sees no contradiction here. He believes that
it's possible to subscribe to the notion of meritocracy and still
retain a caste identity:

"The evolution of caste here is proceeding along the same lines as
caste in India. Caste becomes more like a civic association; a
network of from where you can get capital, a network where from you
can get your clients if you are setting up a business, a network of
people who will canvass for you in local or national elections. Full
stop. In other words what people are now doing with the caste system,
they want to get rid of its unacceptable
dimensions like restrictions of marriage or dining. Take full
advantage of and immobilise its full potentialities which will stand
them in good stead in country and therefore caste in some form is
bound to stay for a long time because people see advantages in it.
And I can see that it is a good rational negotiating strategy".

However, other such as Suresh Grover remains spectacle about this
kind of rational strategy. He feels that unless caste prejudice is
recognised as a form of institutional discrimination, it will remain
a potent form of racism within the Asian community

"No form of behaviour which deliberately leads to people being
marginalised and treated as subhuman should be tolerated by a society
which believes in universal rights. The reason why it has been that
good because there isn't an understanding of multicultural there
isn't an understanding of pluralist living and thought in our
community. People see Indian communities as homogeneous, one form of
religion, one form of ideas. Those notions have to be destroyed. So
if there has got be a relationship between the British State and the
Asian community, that understanding has to be that we believe in
human rights. So the Government are judged by it and held
accountable. But also those who say they are leaders of the Asian
community are tested on the same basis to see if they offer universal
rights to others and that should be the measure of their
understanding of racism in this country. Not simply dealing with the
issue of white racism but dealing with prejudice and discrimination
within their own communities".

But for Davinder Prasad and the many others, who have traditionally
been outcaste by Indian society, gradual institutional change may be
too slow in coming. As they enjoy unprecedented affluence and move up
the economic and educational hierarchy look forward to a Britain
where a caste system cannot survive.

"We can survive ourselves. We have got our own places of worship. We
are trying to re-discover our own history and we will not be bullied
or dictated by high caste people. This is the thing some of the high
caste people are finding it difficult to accept. But I tell you, this
will happen in the future, and they won't have a choice. This century
is going to be our opportunity. We will have qualification, we will
have education. With education we will have power. This century is
going to be our century.
[Flute playing.]