‘A disease’: Caste discrimination in Australia is on the rise – but some are fighting back

As migration from south Asia booms, Australia’s human rights commission is looking at stronger measures against caste-based discrimination

When Rakesh Kumar migrated to Australia from Punjab in India 16 years ago, the discrimination followed him. Before he could even enter the house he would be staying in he was asked: “What is your caste?”

“I said I’m Chamar,” Kumar says. The term is a Punjabi equivalent of the Dalit caste.

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‘Cultural appropriation’: discussion builds over western yoga industry

Practitioners fear Indian culture has been ‘suppressed by colonisation’ while some question accessibility

Yoga has been a big part of Nadia Gilani’s life since she was introduced to the practice by her mother at the age of 16. A few years ago, after various personal struggles, she became a full-time yoga teacher.

But almost immediately, she realised not only were most yoga teachers and students in the UK white, but the accompanying wellness narrative has divorced yoga from its 5,000-year-old roots.

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Discovering Britain’s first Asian MP | Letter

David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre was the first, not Dadabhai Naoroji, says Tony Berrett

David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre (1808-51) was the first Asian MP, not Dadabhai Naoroji, as Dr Peter Chadha and Zaki Cooper claim (Letters, 25 October). Dyce Sombre was elected for the borough of Sudbury in 1841 and subsequently expelled for fraud at that election. The story is now widely known, being the subject of Michael H Fisher’s The Inordinately Strange Life of Dyce Sombre (2010).

Dyce Sombre may be regarded as a more controversial character than Naoroji, but that is no reason to forget history.

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Manchester Museum to reopen with ‘ordinary folk’ co-curating new gallery

Director says it’s ‘time to tell new stories’ as people from south Asian diaspora contribute experiences

A museum with a dizzying, encyclopaedic collection that spans Egyptian mummies, dinosaur skeletons and live Costa Rican frogs is to reopen next year after a £15m revamp – with a promise to be more inclusive and imaginative.

Manchester Museum has about 4.5m objects from around the world, a mix of exhibits from natural sciences and human cultures all under one roof.

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Britain’s first Hindu prime minister is destroying Tories’ pitiful vision of diversity | Pankaj Mishra

We should quickly abandon wishful thinking in order to be truly ready for Rishi Sunak

The world has watched in appalled fascination as the UK’s ruling party scrapes the bottom of its human resources barrel: it found there its first Black chancellor of the exchequer and then, to clear up his mess, its first Hindu prime minister. Yet exultant noises from India as well as Britain would make us believe that some historic milestone has been reached.

Hindu supremacists have pounced on the possibility that Rishi Sunak, a self-proclaimed devout Hindu, is a desi bro, even an undercover agent of the “Global Indian Takeover” – the title of a once regular feature in the Times of India. Evidently, he observes upper-caste taboos against beef and alcohol and always keeps his statuette of Ganesha, the guarantor of worldly success, close to him. “Indian son rises over the empire” was one typical headline in India this week.

Pankaj Mishra’s most recent book is Run and Hide: A Novel.

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Sunak’s rise is thanks to the Tory Hindu revolution. Labour, look and learn | Mihir Bose

There is a complex story behind his arrival at No 10. The Conservatives worked hard to erase a hatred that went back to the era of Churchill

Rishi Sunak’s arrival in No 10 is a more complex story than that of the first brown man to hold the highest office in the land advertising the diversity of our country. It is the result of a remarkable revolution in the Tory party’s attitude to the Hindus, which illustrates the complex nature of postwar Asian migration to this country. It should also ring loud alarm bells for Labour. The Tory Hindu revolution has seen it convert from a party that, historically, hated Hindus – and that is not too strong a word – to one that has pivoted enough towards the Hindus for the community to lose its old fear of the Tories.

The Tories may not like being reminded of their hatred for Hindus, but inside No 10 Sunak will be unable to miss the portrait of the man who articulated it: Winston Churchill. As recorded in the diaries of Churchill’s Downing Street secretary, John Colville, on returning from Yalta in February 1945, “the PM said the Hindus were a foul race, ‘protected by their mere pullulation from the doom that is their due’. And he wished Bert Harris [head of the RAF Bomber Command] could send some of his surplus bombers to destroy them”.

Mihir Bose is an author whose books include The Spirit of the Game, How Sport Made the Modern World, and From Midnight to Glorious Morning? India Since Independence

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Under our monarchy, a deeply unequal world flourished | Letters

Readers respond to Afua Hirsch’s article calling for Britain to confront the painful truth of its colonial past

Afua Hirsch’s article explicitly describes the everlasting damage created in the name of colonialism (This is a Britain that has lost its Queen – and the luxury of denial about its past, 13 September). I saw first-hand the ongoing horrors and cruelty of this in the 25 years that I worked for the international trade union movement in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific islands.

Land was taken over to grow food for the west so it got used to having cheap pineapples and mangoes all year round. Rubber and palm oil plantations in Malaysia destroyed soil and reduced the amount of land for domestic farming. Mines ruined people’s lives and created civil disturbance in Papua New Guinea – the list is endless.

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‘Top of the world’: Black climbing team makes history as first to scale Mount Everest

Seven members reached the summit with the hope of inspiring the next generation of Black outdoor enthusiasts

The first all-Black climbing group to reach the summit of Mount Everest was recovering back at the bottom of the mountain on Thursday and celebrating a journey to the “top of the world”.

Seven members of the US-led team made it to the top of the mountain in one expedition, greatly increasing the number of Black people who have summited the world’s highest peak from 10 to 17, out of about 10,000 in total.

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Afghan surgeon who fled Ukraine says he was treated differently at Polish border

‘I’m not blond,’ says Ruhullah Haji, who was stuck at crossing for three days but managed to join family in UK

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and later building a life in Ukraine, Ruhullah Haji has been displaced by war twice in 34 years.

So when the heart surgeon made it to Britain after fleeing Russia’s invasion, he was desperate for security and the right to remain as a Ukrainian. Many other Afghans have struggled to secure such rights since the fall of Kabul last year, and remain in limbo.

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All wars horrify us, but it seems not equally so | Letters

Readers respond to an article by Nesrine Malik about how the invasion of Ukraine has been viewed differently to other conflicts across the globe

Nesrine Malik’s comment has one further compelling dimension to it: seeing this horror in Ukraine and all conflicts through the eyes of children (Let the horror in Ukraine open our eyes to the suffering of war around the world, 1 March). Fright, despair and bewilderment are etched on every face that appears on TV or in the papers. Adults should be ashamed of what we are doing to these innocents all over the world. Malik is right. We are appalled by what is happening in Ukraine, yet appear to ignore or be indifferent to other conflicts.

Millions of children are frightened and starving to death in Afghanistan because of sanctions imposed upon a new government. Millions are frightened and starving in Yemen, where western arms support allows Saudi Arabia to cripple food supplies. Children in Syria are frightened and hungry as the civil war drags on. Iraq is failing and the children suffer. In Africa, starvation and fear permeate the continent in places such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. And everywhere the faces of children are a fierce and damning testimony to adult behaviour.
Michael Newman
Shefford, Bedfordshire

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People of colour fleeing Ukraine attacked by Polish nationalists

Non-white refugees face violence and racist abuse in Przemyśl, as police warn of fake reports of ‘migrants committing crimes’

Police in Poland have warned that fake reports of violent crimes being committed by people fleeing Ukraine are circulating on social media after Polish nationalists attacked and abused groups of African, south Asian and Middle Eastern people who had crossed the border last night.

Attackers dressed in black sought out groups of non-white refugees, mainly students who had just arrived in Poland at Przemyśl train station from cities in Ukraine after the Russian invasion. According to the police, three Indians were beaten up by a group of five men, leaving one of them hospitalised.

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‘We’re all hip-hop family’: the artists fighting to get Afghan breakdancers to safety

Nancy Yu, AKA Asia One is drawing on the hip-hop movement’s activist roots to help a group of artists and their families escape the Taliban

A veteran of the hip-hop scene and internationally celebrated breakdancer, Nancy Yu – AKA Asia One – has her fair share of people contacting her looking for advice. But the message she received in 2019 from a young Afghan was a little different.

Frustrated by his breakdancing crew’s inability to get visas to perform internationally, Moshtagh* was wondering if Asia could help. “He felt they were really good, but they felt, like, invisible to the world,” she says. “I liked him. He wasn’t trying to bug me or say ‘we need this right now’ … He seemed rather humble and honest.”

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Dutch officials drop case against Rijksmuseum over ‘racist’ word

Decision to avoid word in exhibition on Indonesian independence led to accusations of genocide denial

The director of the Rijksmuseum said he was “happy” as Dutch prosecutors announced they would not proceed with an investigation into complaints over a newly opened exhibition on Indonesian independence, the first of its kind in Europe.

The exhibition, Revolusi! Indonesia Independent, at the Netherlands’ national museum, has been a source a controversy since one of its curators, Bonnie Triyana, said the term “bersiap”, or stand by, would not be used in reference to the violent upheaval that followed a declaration of independence from the Dutch state.

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New Chanel chief could signal end of ‘colonialist approach’ to fashion

Leena Nair joins brand from Unilever where she was first Asian, first female and youngest HR chief

The announcement of Chanel’s new chief executive this week marks a departure for the French luxury brand, one that is being praised as a landmark for diversity within the industry.

Leena Nair makes moves from being the global head of human resources at the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever, where she had worked for 30 years, to taking the reins at the 112-year-old fashion house founded by Coco Chanel.

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