26 Feb 2015

Shankars' triumph after more than twenty years





If perseverance has an example then it must be the Shankhar family, who have overcome a big challenge in Australia. On the 19 February 2015 after almost two years of constant failures the Shankhar family have finally received orders from a Magistrate’s Court to get rid of their childrens' derogatory caste name ‘Kami’. Throughout this period of perseverance, looking for a solution, they remained unshaken by procedural difficulties in a country like Australia. Their determination was unique. While many stepped down from the challenge they kept on pursuing their original surname. Back in 2013 here in Adelaide, the family even surnamed their newly born daughter as Shankhar, even when their own surnames were still Kami.

Kami as much as is close to the word ‘Kam’ which means work, it is also close to the words ‘Kama’ and ‘Kamaiya’. Kama is a direct sexual reference meaning people who are sexually overt, while Kamaiya means bonded labourer. Whatever the source of the name in the past, today it is frequently used to mean so-called low caste individuals in a derogatory way and used almost synonymously with the word ‘achhut’- or untouchable. The sexual, social and spiritual impurity that is implicated by the word ‘Kami’ is well known.

In Adelaide, Australia the name has been used in public causing serious embarrassment and there are also reported derogatory uses of the all-inclusive classifying word in certain caste discrimination cases closely followed by Cohesion Matters. In other words it is used to classify and ridicule so-called low caste people even today, right here in Australia. For that reason alone, trashing that word through a Court of Law will go down as a memorable victory.