The caste system is not relevant in Guyana

Stabroek News

July 19, 2003

Related Links: Letters on 'Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana' death
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Dear Editor,

Dr. Kean Gibson in her book titled, ‘The Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana’, states that the Hindi caste system is geared towards oppressing Afro-Guyanese. In Hinduism, she claims, Indians consider Afro-Guyanese as bad and Indians good.

I have to disagree with her perception of what Hinduism is and how the caste system operates. The caste system that came from India in no way plays a significant role. In the traditional Aryan Indian Caste system, there were four major castes. In this caste system, the upper caste was separated and enjoyed superior socio-economic and political reputation as compared to the lower castes.

However, this system is no longer dominant in India or in the rest of the world. Today, the world still experiences a form of caste structure where persons who are rich, choose to keep their wealth in their family or circle of friends. That means that a rich man is hardly likely to have his daughter marry a poor man.

The concept of good and bad are traits found in all persons. But, in her interpretation of Hinduism, there is no room for an in-between concept. Someone is either good or evil.

This can never be accurate. It is a known fact that there is a little of both good and evil in everyone. This is evident in our daily lives of dealing with people.

Additionally, there are no unique traits found in any one racial group. We can find people from all races with different beliefs and values.

Another erroneous point to note in her theory is that she fails to mention Guyanese of mixed race who represent almost 15 percent of our population. If the caste system is still practiced, how do Indians view persons of mixed races or persons who are from other ethnicities than Afro-Guyanese?

Yours faithfully,

Elizabeth Reid