Caste, Death, Honour and The Argumentative Indian

Death came to holy places – those of the highest, Brahmin, and the poorest and lowest castes were treated equally and without discrimination by god’s law of nature with these floods.

The Indian Army have done an honourable job in trying to rescue the victims of the floods in India. They are the pride of the nation. As with the Gujarat earthquake a decade ago, Sewa, and so many UK organisations have started raising funds.

Last Sunday, over 500 of us did a charity run raising funds for widows and orphans in India organised by Lord Loomba. Yet all the while, all day long, I read emails from a few, but circulating among all the major heads of all the major Hindu Organisations in the UK, about how Indian members of the House of Lords are essentially useless and ‘self-elevating’.

Never have I seen so much anger, as there is on the issue of caste-discrimination legislation. Not anger on corruption, not on dying children, on inadequate nutrition for children, on the rape of women in Delhi.

But on caste, there is co-ordination, and god help you if you disagree with those who don’t want anti-caste discrimination legislation – you will be called names, you will be considered a traitor to your Dharma. You could, like Baroness Flather, have helped erect the Memorial Gates to honour Indian and Commonwealth soldiers in the two World Wars – it won’t matter – you will be addressed ‘Flather’ and a Hindu-hater if you favour anti-caste discrimination legislation.

Your achievements as the first Indian Peer, let alone woman Peer, the funds you raise will matter nothing at all. Not your age – turning 80. Your former profession, teacher. Nothing. You are a Hindu hating scumbag to these emailers.

And who will come to their defence? My Dharma did not teach me to behave like this to elderly ladies. I must be a different kind of Hindu. She is my sister. So call me a scumbag Hindu too if you wish. You only degrade yourself. As do those who watch silently on.

I remind those who attack Indian Peers the words spoken of Gandhiji at his funeral, killed by a Hindu for not being Hindu enough, ‘The object of this massive tribute died as he had always lived – a private man without wealth, without property, without official title or office. Mahatma Gandhi was not a commander of great armies nor ruler of vast lands. He could boast no scientific achievements or artistic gift. Yet men, governments and dignitaries from all over the world have joined hands today to pay homage to this little brown man in the loincloth who led his country to freedom. Pope Pius, the Archbishop of Canterbury, President Truman, Chiang Kai-shek, The Foreign Minister of Russia, the President of France… are among the millions here and abroad who have lamented his passing. In the words of General George C. Marshall, the American Secretary of State, "Mahatma Gandhi had become the spokesman for the conscience of mankind, a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empires." And Albert Einstein added, "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."

Don’t attack your own. Titles are platforms for taking money from the rich to give to the poor – as we do in the Loomba Trust for widows and orphans.

Alpesh Patel

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