The Australian Greens have recently incorporated ‘caste discrimination’ into their pre-existing Anti Racism and Multicultural Policy. This progressive move now positions The Greens as the party recognising caste as a form of racism.
Previously, the National Anti Racism Framework, organised by the Australian Human Rights Commission, had acknowledged caste-based discrimination as a facet of intersectional racism. The Greens’ motion to include casteism as a form of racial discrimination was presented by Haroon Kasim, Co-convenor of The Greens NSW Multicultural Committee.
The decision to include caste discrimination in the Greens’ policy was the result of extensive internal deliberations over several months. Notably, there was opposition from certain segments of the Indian community who contested the classification of caste discrimination as racism. Concerns were raised that this categorization might have adverse effects on the Indian population at-large. Kasim countered the opposition with a single question: “Are most Indians, caste oppressors?”
The groundwork for this pivotal inclusion was laid by the “Coalition Against Caste,” a collective of anti-caste activists. This coalition has been actively advocating for the eradication of caste-based discrimination in Australia. Several prominent organizations contributed to this cause, including Ambedkar International Mission (AIM) Australia, Periyar Ambedkar Thoughts Circle of Australia (PATCA), and Sri Guru Ravidas Sabha (SGRS).
The step taken by The Greens reflects a growing recognition of the complex interplay between caste-related concerns and broader issues of racism and social equity in Australia. “Casteism is harsher than racism in the western world. It’s often invisible and also layered, making it very complex,” says Haroon Kasim.
Australia has a rapidly growing Indian diaspora population and it is very important to counter casteism, which is the root of all forms of discrimination among Indians. While there is a lot more work to be done, this move of recognising casteism as a form of racism, acts as a precursor, encouraging the rest of the Australian political parties to follow suit.