caste x shilpa x artificial intelligence
9 march 2018
Protest outside mac, Birmingham (2015) for Tagore’s Dance Drama: Valmiki Pratibha following a negative portrayal of Guru Valmik via
1) UK caste violence
I personally find that brown Brits overcompensate when it comes to disillusions about caste and community, even in general. Not so long ago someone dear to me experienced terrible casteist abuse in the workplace - even the completely uneducated white onlookers joined in on labelling them “poor”. Let’s not forget that there ought to be an added responsibility in the UK of educating yourself and your peers regardless of where you plop on the scale.
While it may be accurate to say that in some circumstances reactions to caste in India in comparison to Non-Resident Indians in the UK are less dramatic, to claim that caste does not exist is quite simply a brown-faced lie. We cannot eradicate a problem we pretend isn’t there.
In the same way we feel pain about racism, why are we not delving further and looking at the same prejudices reflected within our own communities?
2) 12 years an untouchable:
What about the 12 years in between? whats happens to those lives lost? What happens to the effects of those people hurt? It goes without saying that an initiative such as this is slow-burning help, but laterisn’t enough for right now. We need to caress today’s atrocities and do the most in the interim. We need to have more open, pan-world discourse around this very real topic. Are we questioning this enough, my high-caste allies?
gay superhero (2017) still
3) Computering human emotion
The number of stories about low-caste people turned away at the door of a police station or overlooked by so-called higher-caste allies is rife - even the American horror stories you hear about white perps being given leniency for physically performing racism just because they’re white. The idea that casteist abuse can be tracked and recorded is one thing, but what then is done about that as recompense is entirely another. It also doesn’t seem to alleviate questions surrounding what the police and/or government are actually doing about caste-crime at the moment and what they would do differently going forward. Surely, not reporting crime is the same as doing nothing about the crime reported? Iffy.
Accountability measures must be followed through or I’m ripping up the digital map.
4) Questioning accountability
The other day I was performing my ritual of watching Grey’s Anatomy with my mum and she turned and asked me if I thought doctors were angels. I scoffed and said no. The same goes for the police or literally anyone for that matter. We automatically assume that authority figures like the po-po are the truest solution to problems of crime, forgetting of course that often it’s the same people exercising their authoritative freedom to discriminate. How can I trust that my low-caste folk will get the security and social freedom they deserve just because you have a shiny new map?
5) What constitutes casteist crime?
How can we monitor the subtleties that are embedded in everyday language? An eradication of the crime means wiping out anything as casual as a thoughtless, passing remark at work to acts as heinous as systematic rape. It means looking at all aspects of caste discrimination - reworking song lyrics, monitoring ridiculous newspaper marriage proposal ads, maybe not trying to force a family member into jilting their low-caste lover.
While this sounds like a promising initiative, I am ultimately dubious. The Caste System is said to have been around for thousands of years - people have been born into suffering for thousands of years. What about this will change conditions for low-caste communities and how can it be ensured that this is not just for India but pan-world?
Before anything, it’s a crime in itself not to know what the Caste System is. Even further? Pretending you don't. Map that.