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South Asians find voice against caste discrimination in UK

Indian-born MP Virendra Sharma wants caste prejudice to be outlawed under Equality bill. MP for the Indian-dominated London suburb of Southall, Sharma reportedly said he was certain the populace, especially in parliamentary constituencies dominated by people from the Indian sub-continent, would like to see caste discrimination outlawed in the UK.

Sharma also insisted the draft bill designed to promote social equality must also endeavour to erase caste-based discrimination among South Asians in Britain.

The plea came at a time when the British parliament began a second round of discussions on the “Equality Bill”.

The bill aims to consolidate nine existing equality laws into a single law. The intention is to tackle disadvantage and discrimination based on race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief.

Sharma said the government must add caste prejudice to the list. He was reportedly of the belief caste-based thinking was "built into the social fabric" of the estimated 3.5 million South Asians living in Britain, constituting nearly 5.7 per cent of the population.

"Whether you are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Sikh, if you have come from the sub-continent, you have caste built into your social fabric," he is reported to have stated.

Sharma asserted it was all the more important to bring in legislation on caste following apprehensions that increasing number of private Indian companies, launching operations in Britain, may inadvertently import caste-based practices.

"There are more and more Indian companies coming here. They are bringing in senior managers, who are in a position to recruit – that is where the problem comes in. They can tell your caste from your surname,” Sharma argued.

He claimed so many complaints he dealt with in his Southall constituency office had something to do with caste prejudice.

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