Ten Key Points of the HAF Report on Caste Ten Key Flaws with the HAF Report on Caste
Editor's Note: First statement is made by HAF the second statement to refute is made by concerned scholars of Hindu community. Editor will add minor corrections and modifications only in the second.
1. The key message of this report is that caste-based discrimination is not intrinsic to Hinduism, and that the solution lies within the eternal teachings of Hinduism. FALSE: The process and methodology by which the HAF report was produced directly contradicts the first key point that solution lies within the eternal teachings of Hinduism.
The report has been produced by lay people and academics without the involvement of those knowledgeable about the subject. HAF Report calls for re-analysis and rejections of teachings of Hinduism. Such analysis should not be endorsed by an advocacy organization like HAF.
2. The report acknowledges that caste-based discrimination is a complex ongoing problem in India that is distorted by political maneuvering. FALSE: Two out of twelve Presidents of India are from the so called “lower caste” of HAF report. Some discrimination!!! HAF Report has itself caused dissensions and political maneuvering in the Hindu community. Besides, HAF has not defined nor explained what is meant by caste based discriminaton and what constitutes it.
3. HAF believes that caste-based discrimination in India is a domestic issue that should only be handled by the Government of India, and that the U.S. Congress, United Nations or any non-Hindu foreign body has no locus standi to interfere in this matter. FALSE: By acknowledging and announcing caste issue as a human rights issue (a notion that was opposed by even the secular Indian government), already the report is being bandied about on Christian missionary and Islamic web sites. It is suspected to be used by US Congress and UN Human Rights Council to interfere in Indian and Hindu affairs. This statement by HAF is disingenuous.
4. HAF fully acknowledges that there have been and are on-the-ground efforts by Hindus in India to eradicate caste-based discrimination. FALSE: If the efforts are being made in India, then what is purpose of HAF report now? Also, while the report spends pages and pages listing incidents of alleged and unsubstantiated caste-based discrimination, it does not give due attention to the grassroots work being done by many Hindu organizations and leaders—an odd oversight for a purported Hindu advocacy organization that claims to be providing a Hindu perspective in this report.HAF is unwittingly siding with the "caste, curry, cow stereotype" critics of Hindus.
5. This report is a tool to counter countless school textbooks that represent caste as a rigid and hierarchical system that is inseparable from Hinduism. False: At numerous places the report HAF itself has equated caste as birth-based and hierarchical which is what is taught in textbooks, one such example “The caste system, as it has developed in the Indian subcontinent, is a birth-based hierarchy”. Page 12 Why deny and sugarcoat the reality of Jati, Varna and Kula as practiced in India by using Western derogatory terms in a copy-cat manner, if HAF is representing Hindus, to protect their interests and take on the advocacy role? If you have advocates like this, you don't need adversaries.
6. “Caste” is derived from the Portuguese word “casta” and is not equivalent to the varna/jaati tradition in Indian society; HAF is NOT suggesting an end to the varna/jaati tradition, but an end to caste-based discrimination and birth-based hierarchy. FALSE: Throughout report HAF has conflated Varna with caste, one such example is “Since members of all the four castes are the children of God, they all belong to the same caste” page 143. Why then use the word "caste" at all if it is not equivalent to that which is practiced in Hindu society. The statement no.6 is one of the glaring example of conceptual confusion in the HAF report.Besides, one can easily grasp the Christian influence in writing this report from the phrase
"children of God."
7. HAF acknowledges the substantial role played by the British colonial regime in solidifying a rigid caste system in Indian society. FALSE: The HAF report is likely to rigidify the caste mindset of the Western world even further, as this report has brought a receding problem to the fore for no apparent reason so far away from India in the USA. Some Americans are likely wonder if Hindus in USA practice Caste system. Why blame the British for demographic recording of census of the Jati, Varna and Kula if HAF too conflates these with "caste" like the British did?
8. Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste presents “a” Hindu perspective on caste-based discrimination, not “the” only Hindu perspective. FALSE: One false perspective improperly produced by a Hindu Advocacy Organization that has presence in mainstream US media and that which is in contact with and influences the US Congress will cause major harm to the Hindu causes and interests. HAF perspective is not even "a" Hindu perspective as it is heavily influenced and contaminated by the non-Hindu and anti-Hindu elements.Do not be surprised if Americans all over start asking for your caste after this report becomes part of the American mainstream.
9. Prior to its release, this report was peer reviewed by approximately a dozen external reviewers, whose suggestions may or may not have been incorporated. FALSE: The process has been opaque with no disclosure of who these “reviewers” were and which comments were rejected and why. This statement ignores the criticism by 100+ scholars at World Association of Vedic Studies (WAVES; an academic body with high reputation) Conference in August 2010. HAF is also refusing to participate in the 2011 WAVES Conference being organized on this topic.
Some of the reviewers have withdrawn from and severely condemned the process and the Report because HAF told them that only cosmetic edits and no significant substantive changes would be accepted. Without revealing the qualifications, training, experience
and the status of the "reviewers," the mere number "dozen" has no meaning.
10. The statements by 13 religious leaders and organizations are not endorsements of HAF’s report, but rather statements against caste-based discrimination provided to HAF prior to their review of the report. Some of these same respected leaders have endorsed the report after its release.
FALSE: No major Hindu religious leader has endorsed the report. But, on the contrary, the following leaders have asked HAF to withdraw the report: Swamiji Dayananda Saraswati (Convener of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, who was listed as one of the endorsees of the Report), Dr. Pranav Pandya (Head of All World Gayatri Pariwar), Sri Puthige Swamiji of Udupi, Swamiji Ramdev, and Pujya Pejavar Swamiji (one of the heads of the Udupi Matha) has also expressed displeasure about the HAF report. Also, elsewhere on this blog there is a description of one who was noted to be a hyporcrit with example of his "caste-based" discrimination on the American soil well illustrated.