The caste system was integrated into the British governance system between 1860 and 1920 in India. The British and Indian government’s used the system to serve there own interest – primarily to create single society with a common-law that could be easily governed as noted by Sanjoy Chakravorty Professor in College of Liberal Arts at Temple University. Integrating the caste system helped Britain and India to control the population and to interject new rules to further strength it’s capabilities.
The caste system has many layers of which colourism is one. The lighter Indian you are the more accepted you become, the darker you are the more obstacles you face. This type of discrimination is being challenged now but back then, it was accepted as the norm.
Did you know that the British population is affected by caste. Although not deeply layered, we know that colourism definitely exists. My mother once told me that being a light skinned Black women would see me do better than my dark skinned school friend. She said that employers will look at me more favourably because I was light skinned which in their mind made me closer to white. I didn’t understand why she said it at the time, but it became evident as time went by. One could argue that religion and standing in society also plays a part in creating a caste system that lives in the shadows without challenge.
Are we put into caste system when we are looking for employment. When you fill out the forms to identify your race, religion, sexuality on an equality and diversity form, is this form characterising you to identify your suitability? This of course is not what it is mean’t to do. Those questions seeking to find out the background of your family is this a way to identify socioeconomic status of the person? We can only deduce that categorisation does play a part in selection.
As humans we have an innate preference to categorise people. Unfortunately in doing so we alienate people and we cause emotional stress to those who don’t fit into the category. We only have to look at what is happening in some organisations, why the Equality Act 2010 is needed, moreover, it needs to be further tightened. I went to parliament this year to see the unveiling of a equality act review which was conducted by Dr Suriyah Bi, she produced the research document Equality Act 12 Years On, to highlight the need for more protected characteristics to be added. Those are, socioeconomic background, homelessness, weight, accent, immigration status and caste. It was this report that got me thinking about caste and colourism, it is an area that isn’t spoken about openly but we know it exists.
As we are coming to the end of National Inclusion Week, let us recognise that it’s about acceptance. At Synergised Solutions of which I am also the managing partner we work on the principles of Equality, Diversity and Acceptance. To include, is to make room, too accept, is to embrace and welcome everyone.