Sunday, July 12, 2020

Caste Discrimination Rampant Among Silicon Valley Indian-Americans

Over two-thirds of low caste Indian-Americans are discriminated against by upper caste Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley, according to a report by Equality Labs, an organization of Dalits in America. Dalits also report hearing derogatory comments about Muslim job applicants at tech companies. These revelations have recently surfaced in a California state lawsuit against Silicon Valley tech giant Cisco Systems.


Religious Discrimination:

Both caste and religious discrimination are rampant among Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley. Back in 2009,  there was a religious discrimination lawsuit filed  against Vigai, a South Indian restaurant in Silicon Valley. In the lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, Abdul Rahuman, 44, and Nowsath Malik Shaw, 39, both of San Jose, alleged they were harassed for being Muslim by Vaigai's two owners, a manager and a top chef — a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

According to the complaint, restaurant personnel regularly used ethnic slurs such as "Thulakkan," a pejorative term for Muslims in Sri Lankan Tamil dialect, to harass the two Muslim cooks. Also according to the complaint, restaurant staff were encouraged to call the plaintiffs by names such as "Rajan" or "Nagraj" under the pretext of not wanting to upset customers who might stop patronizing the restaurant if they heard the men referred to by their Muslim names.
Modi in Silicon Valley

The complaint also stated that the plaintiffs were forced to participate in a religious ceremony despite telling the owners it was against their Islamic beliefs. The complaint alleged that the restaurant owners insisted on their participation and proceeded to smear a powder on their foreheads, making the religious marking known as a "tilak."

Upper Caste Silicon Valley

"Dominant castes who pride themselves as being only of merit have just converted their caste capital into positions of power throughout the Silicon Valley," says Thenmozhi Soundarajan of Equality Labs. Vast majority of Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley support India's Islamophobic Prime MInister Narendra Modi. Modi held a huge rally at a large venue in Silicon Valley where he received a rousing welcome in 2015.

Caste vs Race in America:

Contrary to The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) that includes discrimination based on caste, most Indian-Americans argue that race is not caste . Dating back to 1969, the ICERD convention has been ratified by 173 countries, including India. California’s lawsuit reinforces that caste is race. It will now make it harder for companies to ignore caste discrimination. While the US has no specific law against the Indian caste system, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed the lawsuit against Cisco using a section of America’s historic Civil Rights Act which bars race-based discrimination. Here is an excerpt of an article published in TheWire.in on the lawsuit recently:

"In October 2016, two colleagues informed John Doe, a principal engineer at Cisco, that his supervisor, Sundar Iyer, had told them that he (Doe) was from the “Scheduled Castes” and had made it to the Indian Institute of Technology via affirmative action. “Iyer was aware of Doe’s caste because they attended IIT at the same time,” said the case. The suit says that, when confronted by Doe, Iyer denied having disclosed his caste. In November 2016, Doe contacted Cisco’s HR over the matter. Within a week of doing so, Iyer reportedly informed Doe he was taking away Doe’s role as lead on two technologies. Iyer also removed team members from a third technology that Doe was working on and reduced his role to that of an independent contributor and he was isolated from his colleagues, the lawsuit says. In December 2016, Doe filed a written complaint with HR on the matter."

Summary:

Caste discrimination is rampant among Indian-Americans and NRIs (Non-resident Indians) in Silicon Valley with 67% of low caste Indians reporting being victims of such discrimination in workplace. Muslims also face employment discrimination in some of the workplaces dominated by Indian managers. California state has filed a lawsuit against Silicon Valley tech giant Cisco Systems alleging caste discrimination.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Bigotry Bedevils Silicon Valley Indian Restaurant

India Ranked as Most Racist in the World

Indians Admire Israel and Hitler

Caste Apartheid in India

Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India

Who Killed Karkare?

Procrastinating on Hindutva Terror

India's Guantanamos and Abu Ghraibs

Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

Growing US-India Military Ties Worry Pakistan

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

21 comments:

samir sardana said...

For the dark skinned South Indians who profile and harass Muslims - it would be a revelation from them to know what the Hindoo Scriptures think of the dark skinned or black skinned Indians !

This deep rooted inferiority complex could explain their treatment of Muslims.This is Part 1 of the Tri-ology !

 South Indians are the "Sinful creatures" of Earth

 The Mahabharata, Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: Section CCVII

 I shall now, O son of Kunti, speak to thee about "the sinful creatures" of the earth. Listen to me. 2 Those men, O king, are "born in the southern region" and are called Andrakas, Guhas, Pulindas,Savaras, Chuchukas, "Madrakas"

 South Indians are the "dirt of every nation"

 The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 45

 The Madrakas are regarded on Earth as the "dirt of every nation". So the Madra woman is called the "dirt of the whole female sex"

 South Indians are "not creatures of God"

 The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 44

 They are "not creatures created by the Creator". Being of such low origin, how can they be conversant with the duties ordained in the scriptures? The Karashakas, the Mahishakas, the "Kalingas", the"Keralas", the Karkotakas, the Virakas, and other peoples of no religion, one should always avoid.’

 South Indians are the "lowest of mankind" till they are "dead and beyond"

 The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 40

 He that hateth us is a Madraka. There is no friendship in the Madraka who is mean in speech and is the "lowest of mankind". The Madraka is always a person of wicked soul, "is always untruthful and crooked". It hath been heard by us that till the moment of death the Madrakas are wicked.

 South Indians are the "dirt of humanity"

 The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 40

 The Madraka is always the "dirt of humanity".

 South Indians are "degraded into Sudras"

 The Mahabharata, Book 13: Anusasana Parva: Anusasanika Parva: Section XXXIII

 The Dravidas, the Kalingas, the Pulandas, the Usinaras, the Kolisarpas, the Mahishakas and other Kshatriyas, have, in consequence of the absence of Brahmanas from among their midst, become degraded into Sudras.

Farooq A. said...

How can they identify one as lower caste? Is it just because one had dark skin or some other connections?

Riaz Haq said...

Farooq: "How can they identify one as lower caste? Is it just because one had dark skin or some other connections?"


Story started back 20 years to ITT Mumbai, India when they didn’t see the guy's name on the general merit list, and so figured that he had been admitted to the prestigious institution via reservations, India’s affirmative action program for Dalits.

https://thewire.in/caste/cisco-caste-discrimination-silicon-valley-dalit-prejudice

Riaz Haq said...

Anti-#Dalit Slogans in #Delhi Anti-#Muslim Pogrom: ‘Bhimti Hai Kya? Kaat Daalo’ (Cut Down #Untouchables): "Kapil Mishra tum lath bajao, hum tumhare saath hain. Mullo par tum lath bajao hum tumhare saath hain. Ch***ro par tum lath bajao" #India #BJP #Modi https://www.thequint.com/news/politics/northeast-delhi-riots-dalits-muslims-hindutva-kapil-mishra-bjp

(Kapil Mishra, you attack with sticks, we are with you. Attack Muslims with sticks, we are with you. Attack Jatav Dalits with sticks, we are with you. Attack Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ with sticks, we are with you)

-------------------
Kapil Mishra said ‘Those who clean toilets in our homes, should we place them on our heads?” The crowd replied “Certainly not!”
Complainant

--------------

These were some of the slogans being chanted in Northeast Delhi on the afternoon of 23 February, according to a complaint received at the Delhi Police Headquarters a day later.

The Quint has accessed several such complaints related to the Northeast Delhi riots which indicate that the anger of one section of the pro-Hindutva side wasn't just towards Muslims and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters but the Dalit community as well.

The complaints also allege that the police was an active party to this.

This story will provide excerpts from three such complaints, in addition to a video of self-styled Hindutva leader Ragini Tiwari in which she can be seen calling for a Dalit activist to be "cut down". The story will also provide views of several experts on why such targetting of Dalits took place during the Delhi riots.

Complaint 1: Dalits Attacked and ‘Casteist Slogans Raised by Kapil Mishra’s Supporters’
This is one of the first complaints related to the Northeast Delhi riots, filed on 23 February, the day when violence broke out.

“Today on 23.02.2020 since around 2'o clock in the afternoon, attempts were made to disturb peace and harmony. To disturb the peace a mob of 20 to 25 people were raising provocative slogans and chants like ‘Kapil Mishra, you attack with sticks, we are with you. Attack Muslims with sticks, we are with you. Attack Jatav Dalits with sticks, we are with you. Attack (Bhim Army Chief) Ravan with sticks, we are with you’

After some time, Mr Kapil Mishra along with few of his henchmen who were armed with guns, swords, tridents, spears, sticks, stones, bottles etc gathered there and started chanting communal and casteist chants and slogans.

Thereafter Mr Kapil Mishra began giving an inflammatory speech wherein he said, "Yeh hamare ghar toilet saaf karne waalo ko kya ab hum apne sar par bithayenge" To which his henchmen replied "Bilkul nahi".

Kapil Mishra said ‘Those who clean toilets in our homes, should we place them on our heads?” The crowd replied “Certainly not!”
Complainant


“After this Mr Kapil Mishra said ‘Yeh mulle pehle CAA aur NRC ko lekar protest kar rahe the aur ab yeh aarakshan ko lekar bhi protest karne lage hain. Ab to inhe sabak sikhana hi padega’

(Till now, these Muslims were protesting on CAA and NRC now they have started protesting on the issue of reservation as well. They need to be taught a lesson.)“

This refers to the blockade carried out by anti-CAA protesters on 23 February in solidarity with the Bharat Bandh called by Bhim Army on the issue of reservations

“Cars were stopped and cars belonging to Muslims and Dalits were identified and Muslims were called anti-nationals and mulle whereas Dalits were hurled casteist slurs and their cars were vandalised and they were physically assaulted.

Mr Kapil Mishra was inciting the crowd by airing his gun in the open and shouting ‘don't leave these bastards. Today we need to teach them such a lesson that they forget how to protest”.

In response to this Mr Kapil Mishra and his henchmen in a well planned conspiracy started assaulting the individuals belonging to minority and Dalit communities, which caused fear in these communities.”

Riaz Haq said...

Upper Caste #Hindus dominate #India's #SocialMedia: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on Brahmins: “(T)he Brahmins....is not only an intellectual class, but it is a class which is held in great reverence by the rest of the Hindus.” #Hindutva #Modi https://theprint.in/opinion/indias-oppressed-groups-had-high-hopes-from-internet-but-upper-castes-got-in-there-too/463431/ via @ThePrintIndia

The Oxfam-Newslaundry report shows how upper castes dominate Indian newsrooms. But journalists like Rajat Sharma, Sudhir Chaudhary and Rahul Kanwal have also emerged as influencers on digital space

---------

Journalists with the most Twitter followers in India are mostly upper caste Hindus. Out of the 20 most followed, 19 belong to the upper caste. There is no one from the SC, ST or OBC category. Seven of them are women, and Rubika Liyaquat is the only Muslim person on the list. It appears as if the Internet and social media haven’t really been the upending force that they were imagined to be. Social media today isn’t the big equaliser promised of a decade ago.

In 2011, I was teaching a course on new media at New Delhi’s Indian Institute of Mass Communication. I would tell students that they could do journalism if they only had Rs 10 and access to a cyber cafe. The Internet, at least in its early years, seemed like it would be a democratic medium. As Scott Gant, author of We’re All Journalists Now, argued, “Freedom of the press now belongs not just to those who own printing presses, but also to those who use cell phones, video cameras, blogging software, and other technology to deliver news and views to the world.”

So, when the era of blogs and social media platforms ushered in, there was all-round euphoria that the media matrix of the big four — huge capital, veto power of the advertisers, dominant ideology, and government control — can now be challenged by millions of ‘nobodies’.

In India’s context, the David in this case were the subalterns — Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, and the other backward classes — who were not represented at all in the legacy newsrooms, at least certainly not in leadership positions. But 10 years down the line, the Internet hasn’t really democratised anything and just replicated social hierarchies online as well. The Oxfam-Newslaundry report, released in August 2019, has empirically demonstrated how caste-ridden, hierarchical structure is persistent in Indian newsrooms.

Digital media too isn’t a democratic space
My hypothesis when social media became a tool in most people’s hands was that the voiceless underclass of India will finally express themselves in a massive way in the digital space, because they have countless stories to tell and the financial threshold to own a media platform has been lowered.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s #Iran romance endures despite the huge gap between hype & reality in ties but costs of neglecting #Arabian business are far higher than a lost railway contract in Iran. #Chabahar #GCC #Arabs #SaudiArabia #UAE #Modi #Pakistan https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/chabahar-rail-project-india-iran-relations-us-sanctions-c-raja-mohan-6515415/ via @IndianExpress

The theory of the case in Delhi for an extra-special relationship with Iran rests on a number of claims — historical connections, civilisational bonds, energy supplies and regional security. All these factors are of far greater import in India’s engagement with the Arabian peninsula. Millions of Indian immigrants in the Arab nations, massive hard currency remittances from them, and the density of commercial engagement with the Arab Gulf outweigh the relationship with Iran. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have, in recent years, extended invaluable support in countering terrorism and blocked attempts to condemn India in the Muslim world.

The sources of this curious inversion in India’s intellectual imagination are many. But first to the latest anxiety in Delhi about the loss of a railway contract in Iran. Large countries with major foreign investments and projects win some and lose some. That is part of doing business in other countries. Then there is no escaping the political risk associated with foreign projects. And politics — both domestic and international — is all-consuming in Iran.

The sanctions regime imposed by the US has crippled the Iranian economy. It also targets third countries that do business with certain Iranian entities. India is careful not to attract the US sanctions. India did gain an exemption from the US sanctions regime for its participation in the Chabahar port project in Iran. But they don’t apply to some of the partners suggested by Iran in the railway project. Iran would like India to break the US sanctions regime. A prudent Delhi is resisting that temptation. It would rather lose the railway contract than get into the raging crossfire between the US and Iran.

Sections of the foreign policy elite, however, see India’s Iran policy as a continuous purity test for Delhi’s “strategic autonomy”. They expect Delhi to conduct its relationship with Iran without a reference to either a cost-benefit calculus or Iran’s troubled relationship with others with whom India has important partnerships. For the romantics, it is about proving Delhi’s friendship with Tehran by defying the US.

No government in Delhi can buy into that proposition. The criticism of the NDA government today is similar to that directed at the UPA government in 2005 over its stance on Iran’s covert nuclear programme. As the US mounted pressure on Iran to come clean 15 years ago, there was a strong view in Delhi that India should cast its lot with Tehran. But pragmatists pointed to one of the preconditions for the India-US nuclear deal — Delhi’s strong commitment to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Backing Iran in its nuclear confrontation with the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), they warned, would mean killing support in the US Congress for the historic civil nuclear initiative signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush in July 2005.

Riaz Haq said...

#Tech giant #Intel fires #Indian-#American chief engineer Murthy Renduchintala for production failures. Murthy's ouster marks increased pressure on Intel after disastrous admission last week that knocked $40 billion off its market value https://theprint.in/economy/intel-fires-its-indian-origin-chief-engineer-murthy-renduchintala-for-production-failures/469393/ via @ThePrintIndia

San Francisco: Intel Corp. ousted Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala, the executive in charge of the company’s vast chip-design and manufacturing organization, less than a week after saying it has fallen further behind rivals in production technology.

The executive will leave Aug. 3, and his organization will be split up and led by other leaders. Intel said it was making the changes “to accelerate product leadership and improve focus and accountability in process technology execution,” according to a company statement on Monday.

Renduchintala’s departure marks an escalation of the pressure on Intel’s leadership following a disastrous announcement last week that knocked more than $40 billion off Intel’s market value and caused multiple analysts to question the future of its manufacturing organization, which has been a cornerstone of the company’s semiconductor dominance for decades. The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker on July 23 said its plants had failed to keep up with the most advanced chip-production technology, signaling that the man tasked with fixing persistent production issues had failed.

When then-Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich hired Renduchintala from rival Qualcomm Inc. in 2015, he was lauded as someone with the experience needed to upgrade Intel’s design efforts. But the two leaders’ extensive recruitment of outsiders led to an exodus of longtime Intel senior executives during Krzanich’s tenure. That became a hindrance when Krzanich was subsequently dismissed for an illicit workplace relationship, leaving an absence of internal candidates ready and qualified to replace him.

After a seven-month search, Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan reluctantly took the CEO role, placing the company in the hands of another outside recruit. Renduchintala was one of those passed over the for top job.

Executive reshuffles and maneuvering for higher positions are part of corporate life. But throughout Intel’s more than 50-year history, the company has seldom looked outside its own ranks for leaders and has maintained an approach of developing its own executives. Another pillar of the chipmaker’s success has been to manufacture its own products, bucking the industry trend of outsourcing. Intel has argued that manufacturing and chip design should be done together, shunning rivals’ approach of focusing just on design and letting third parties do the building. The company’s message was always clear: Intel has the most advanced plants, and that goes a long way toward making the best processors.

Maintaining that innovative advantage became Renduchintala’s job when Swan promoted him to the chief engineering role, but any sense of progress regaining its edge was destroyed last week when the company said the latest technique for building the most advanced semiconductors was a year behind schedule. That gives rivals the opportunity to appeal to computer makers with their own versions of the pitch that’s been so successful for Intel in the past: Their products are made with technology that’s years ahead of the competition. The latest setback followed a multiyear delay in Intel’s efforts on the previous manufacturing process. The company’s stock slumped 16% on Friday and fell 2% more on Monday.

Riaz Haq said...

Yet another case of Indian managers favoring Indians emerges, this time at Intel


https://indicanews.com/2019/10/02/yet-another-case-of-indian-managers-favoring-indians-emerges-this-time-at-intel/

A Korean American engineer has sued chipmaker Intel Corp for allegedly allowing its Indian managers to illegally favor Indians in hiring and promotions, the far-right news outlet Breitbart reported.

According to Hoseong Ryu’s lawsuit filed in California, “Throughout the course of his employment, Ryu has worked in an environment with management that favors employees who are from India or of Indian or South Asian descent and disfavors employees who do not fall into that category”.

The suit said Intel’s actions occurred in circumstances “that give rise to a reasonable inference of discrimination” based on racial and national origin.

The suit comes at a time when a growing number of Americans and legal immigrants argue that Indian managers and recruiters are excluding young and experienced Americans from jobs in the country’s software industries and favoring Indians instead.

The evidence of routine discrimination is piling up amid multiple lawsuits, testimony from sidelined Americans, and statements from Indians.

“I have had four on-site interviews since being laid off and interviews with 18 people during those interviews,” a US graduate told Breitbart News Sept 30. “A full 13 of them appeared to have been born in India and only one seemed to be likely US-born. That may have been partially bad luck … Still, it seems to point out a risk of one nationality getting too high a representation in the hiring process.”

zen said...

riaz, commenting here after a long time..

While this CISCO caste thing got some news attention, I am afraid that blatant discrimination against Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular at teh hands of Indian (origin) managers in West goes unnoticed.

In Germany I personally knew a Modi fanatic manager from Mumbai who wouldn't give CVs of Muslim a second look. Luckily, locals do not have that level of prejudice.

Are there Muslim civil rights orgs in USA monitoring the situation?

Riaz Haq said...

Even as India urbanises, caste discrimination remains rife
Cities are segregated, and inter-caste marriages are vanishingly rare


https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/07/23/even-as-india-urbanises-caste-discrimination-remains-rife

In the (Indian) government as in the private sector, the highest positions remain a near-monopoly for the three top tiers or varnas of the broader caste pyramid: the brahmins or priestly class, the kshatriyas or warrior class and the vaishyas or merchant class, who between them account for perhaps 20% of India’s 1.3bn people. It is not just the 220m Dalits, or the 190m Muslims, or the 110m from “scheduled tribes” who are under-represented, but also the 40-50% of Hindus who come from the widest tier of the pyramid, the shudras or labouring castes, known as Other Backwards Classes (obcs).

Out of the 89 highest-ranked civil servants in the central government, according to a recent survey, just four are not upper-caste Hindus, and not one is an obc. Two-thirds of the Supreme Court’s 31 judges and more than half of all state governors are high-caste Hindus. When the home ministry recently formed a panel to revise the criminal code, its five experts were all men, all from north India and all from upper castes. The trend is just as stark outside of government. A study published last year of the mainstream Hindi and English press revealed that out of 121 people in senior jobs, such as editors, all but 15 were upper caste. Not a single one was a Dalit.

Just as positive discrimination was supposed to equalise workplaces, it was hoped that demographic change, such as migration from villages to cities, would break down caste rigidities. Optimists pointed to greater mixing as people of multiple castes were often obliged by circumstance to share the same city wards. Stubbornly, however, statistics have shown that intermarriage between castes remains rare: just 6% of all couples at the most recent count.

An analysis of housing by a team led by Naveen Bharathi of Harvard University has revealed a striking persistence and, in some cases, an intensification of caste segregation. Using census data for 147 cities at the level of blocks rather than wards, and accounting not just for broad caste categories but for jati, which is to say the 5,000-odd subcaste “communities” that tend to marry among themselves, Mr Bharathi’s team found that segregation by caste in Indian cities is comparable to that by race in American ones. Whereas 60% of blocks in Ahmedabad, the biggest city in Gujarat, housed not a single Dalit, some 80% of Dalits lived in just 10% of the city. Inequality in Ahmedabad as measured by the Gini coefficient was more extreme than in Johannesburg, the most unequal city in South Africa, the world’s most unequal country.

Yet amid seeming stasis, Mr Bharathi also found a great deal of churn. “Barriers are breaking in cities, but it’s not the big barriers between castes,” he says. “It is the subcastes that are dissolving.” As the association of family names with traditional professions, which evoked some memories in villages, makes ever less sense in cities, there is less of a taboo around marrying into adjacent jatis within the same broader caste. At the same time, says Mr Bharathi, class differences are growing stronger. “If you zoom in on a Dalit slum, you will find that poorer Dalits don’t intermix with Dalits of slightly higher status living right next door.” Ambedkar, who assumed that the positive discrimination he prescribed in the constitution would end millennia of caste oppression, would be perplexed. ■

Riaz Haq said...

In yet another instance of alleged caste discrimination at an IT firm in the US, a former Indian-origin employee has filed a lawsuit against the American unit of HCL technologies — HCL America — alleging unlawful termination by a superior based on caste. According to a Moneycontrol report by Swathi Moorthy, the former employee filed a lawsuit on March 25, alleging that his superior Srinivas Chakravarty, a Kamma Naidu by caste, discriminated against him, a Kapu Naidu.

https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/after-cisco-hcl-sued-former-indian-employee-us-over-caste-discrimination-130118


The lawsuit has been filed in a superior court in California, according to Moneycontrol.

Kammas and Kapus have a history of differences that have also led to clashes, especially in the city of Vijayawada. More recently, the issue of reservation for the Kapus in education and jobs in Andhra Pradesh's government sector has heightened tensions between the two communities.

The former employee, who joined HCL in August 2018 in the US, alleged that the discrimination started in October 2018 when Srinivas Chakravarty joined the team as his superior.

As per the lawsuit, the former employee, in the capacity of a technical architect, worked on designing chips for companies like Intel and that he received appreciation for his work from Intel as well.

The lawsuit states that once Chakravarty joined, he started rating the employee poorly on weekly and bi-weekly reviews and was very critical of his work and even allegedly shouted at him during one-on-one review meetings. Chakravarty also allegedly did not take action when a fellow colleague called him ‘black’ due to his complexion, as per the report.

The former employee claims to have also complained to senior management, but to no avail.

He was then allegedly put on a performance improvement plan, made to work on weekends and was eventually terminated ‘for missing a day that he called in sick’ even after he cleared the performance improvement plan.

He also allegedly reached out to HCL for mediation, but when he received no response, he obtained a right to sue letter from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and then filed the lawsuit.

The employee told Moneycontrol that he came to know that Chakravarty was terminated soon after the lawsuit was filed but could not independently verify.

This instance has come to light soon after the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in California in the United States, on June 30, sued technology major Cisco and its former managers alleging caste-based discrimination at the workplace against a Dalit Indian-American employee. The federal lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), alleges that two former managers discriminated against the engineer because he is a Dalit.

He allegedly received less pay, fewer opportunities, and “other inferior terms and conditions of employment because of his religion, ancestry, national origin/ethnicity, and race/colour,” the lawsuit stated.

"It is unacceptable for workplace conditions and opportunities to be determined by a hereditary social status determined by birth. Employers must be prepared to prevent, remedy, and deter unlawful conduct against workers because of caste,” DFEH Director Kevin Kish said in a statement.

In both the lawsuits, a report by Equality Labs was quoted. ‘Caste in the United States’ report in 2018 was based on a survey done by the organisation, which had 1,500 respondents. The lawsuit against Cisco noted that according to the report, 67% Dalits surveyed felt discriminated against at the workplace in the US.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #caste system is ruining lives in #SiliconValley. Over 90% of #Indian techies in #US are upper-caste Indians and they are making life hell for over 250 Dalit techies working in firms such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple & Netflix. #Hindutva https://zd.net/2RQNg05

It may seem bizarre that the caste system, a centuries-old system that organises and stratifies human society, continues to play a heavy role in deciding which Indians prosper and which don't within a space many consider to be an uber-meritocracy -- the US tech landscape.

A recent lawsuit against two Indians, filed by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing on behalf of another Indian, has made waves over the past few months for all the wrong reasons. It has illuminated how the Indian caste system has terrorised one of the most marginalised groups in India.

Except, this time, it is happening in the US tech industry, a place that people normally associate with egalitarianism and a thirst for talent regardless of colour, race, religion, or any other creed.

Caste is a 2,000 year-old system for classifying society in the Indian subcontinent -- or whatever other definition that can be used for the geographic spread that was depleted and then amputated by British colonial rule.

In this stratification, the priests -- or the "Brahman" class -- were at the top, the warriors or "Kshatriyas" came next, the merchants or "Vaishyas" formed the third tier, while labourers, artisans, and servants, known as "Shudras", came last and essentially served the other three castes. Of course, it's not so simple -- in reality, there are over 5,000 castes and over 25,000 sub-castes in India, spawned by sheer geographical, cultural, and religious diversity.

What is homogenous across the country, however, is another category that exists completely outside of the caste system, on a rung so low that if you were forced to come up with the worst moral and physical degradations that you could think of, they would in all likelihood pale in comparison to what has transpired in India over centuries and continues to do so today.

These people that are deemed to be on the lowest rung are the Dalits. Self-named, Dalit means "oppressed", but they are also referred to by Indian society as "achoot", or, "untouchable". Dalits have historically been involved in occupations such as working with leather, cleaning sewers, or killing rats and were therefore considered "spiritually impure".

Not so long ago, if a Dalit saw a higher caste walking down the road, they would have to flung themselves to the ground to not contaminate the upper caste (UC) person with their shadow. Violaters would be beaten, often to death, and incredulously, they still are today.

All across India, Dalits -- who comprise at least 25% of the population, or a staggering 400 million people -- are barred from drawing water from the wells of UCs. Dalit children are either denied education or cannot study with UC peers; their villages are separate and hence, they are forbidden from walking through upper caste ones; they cannot eat where UCs eat; they cannot pray where UCs pray and God help them if they marry out of their caste. Their woman and children are physically and sexually abused on a serial scale.

If a person is born as a Dalit, they will die a Dalit, and their children are almost certainly destined to a life with no upward mobility.

While many scholars contend that the caste system became more inflexible under the British, who transformed it into a rigid, more easily governable structure that privileged Brahmans even more, others say this narrative is just an attempt by upper-caste Indian Americans to rewrite history books and erase any mention of Dalit oppression. While the British Raj did have a complex, destructive effect on caste, India's pre-modern history was also most definitely defined by castes.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s engineers have thrived in #SiliconValley. So has its #caste system. Only 1.5% of Indian immigrants in #UnitedStates are #Dalits or members of the lower-ranked castes, but they face insults and discrimination from upper caste #Hindu colleagues. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/27/indian-caste-bias-silicon-valley/?tid=ss_tw

Whenever Benjamin Kaila, a database administrator who immigrated from India to the United States in 1999, applies for a job at a U.S. tech company, he prays that there are no other Indians during the in-person interview. That’s because Kaila is a Dalit, or member of the lowest-ranked castes within India’s system of social hierarchy, formerly referred to as “untouchables.”

Silicon Valley’s diversity issues are well documented: It’s still dominated by White and Asian men, and Black and Latino workers remain underrepresented. But for years, as debates about meritocracy raged on, the tech industry’s reliance on Indian engineers allowed another type of discrimination to fester. And Dalit engineers like Kaila say U.S. employers aren’t equipped to address it.

In more than 100 job interviews for contract work over the past 20 years, Kaila said he got only one job offer when another Indian interviewed him in person. When members of the interview panel have been Indian, Kaila says, he has faced personal questions that seem to be used to suss out whether he’s a member of an upper caste, like most of the Indians working in the tech industry.

“They don’t bring up caste, but they can easily identify us,” Kaila says, rattling off all of the ways he can be outed as potentially being Dalit, including the fact that he has darker skin.

The legacy of discrimination from the Indian caste system is rarely discussed as a factor in Silicon Valley’s persistent diversity problems. Decades of tech industry labor practices, such as recruiting candidates from a small cohort of top schools or relying on the H-1B visa system for highly skilled workers, have shaped the racial demographics of its technical workforce. Despite that fact, Dalit engineers and advocates say that tech companies don’t understand caste bias and have not explicitly prohibited caste-based discrimination.

In recent years, however, the Dalit rights movement has grown increasingly global, including advocating for change in corporate America. In June, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a landmark suit against Cisco and two of its former engineering managers, both upper-caste Indians, for discriminating against a Dalit engineer.

After the lawsuit was announced, Equality Labs, a nonprofit advocacy group for Dalit rights, received complaints about caste bias from nearly 260 U.S. tech workers in three weeks, reported through the group’s website or in emails to individual staffers. Allegations included caste-based slurs and jokes, bullying, discriminatory hiring practices, bias in peer reviews, and sexual harassment, said executive director Thenmozhi Soundararajan. The highest number of claims were from workers at Facebook (33), followed by Cisco (24), Google (20), Microsoft (18), IBM (17) and Amazon (14). The companies all said they don’t tolerate discrimination.

And a group of 30 female Indian engineers who are members of the Dalit caste and work for Google, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco and other tech companies say they have faced caste bias inside the U.S. tech sector, according to a statement shared exclusively with The Washington Post.

Riaz Haq said...

Caste discrimination: India must disown parts of ancient texts that contradict the Constitution
Just as the West is re-examining its colonial and slave-running past, India should identify treatises that are anachronistic.

https://scroll.in/article/976824/caste-violence-india-must-disown-parts-of-ancient-texts-that-contradict-the-constitution

The ancient Varna system separates the three twice-born (Dvij) groupings – Brahmin, Kshatriya, and Vaishya – from the Shudras who constituted the lowest rung. All ancient authorities concurred that caste was assigned to a person at birth and could not be changed; with each caste was associated a profession; and all castes were arranged in a hierarchy.

All the Dharma sutras and Dharma shastras asserted that the main task of the Shudras was to serve the twice-born (Apastamba Dharma Sutra I.1.1.7-8; Mahabharata, Shanti Parva 60.28). To assure their servility, they were assigned a low ritual status. While a number of sanskaras or rites of passage, from conception to cremation, were prescribed for the high-rankers, they were prohibited for the Shudras who were not permitted to chant Vedic mantras (Manu Smrti X.127).

They could recite the phrase “Namah Shivay” but were not allowed to prefix “Om” to it, notes P V Kane in his History of Dharmasastra.

If a Brahmin committed adultery or rape, merely a fine was imposed on him (Manu Smrti VIII.385). However if a Shudra had sexual intercourse with a Brahmin woman, he was to be executed no matter whether the act was consensual or not (Vasishtha Dharma Shastra 21.1). If a Brahmin reviled a Shudra, he paid a small fine (Manu Smrti VIII. 268) or nothing at all (Gautama Dharma Sutra XII.10). But in the reverse case, a Shudra’s tongue was to be chopped off (Manu Smrti VIII. 270) .

In the case of killing a Dvij by a Dvij , reasonable prayashchit (atonement) was prescribed. For killing a Shudra the prayashchit was the same as for killing a frog, cat, dog, mongoose, or owl.

As the Hathras case demonstrates, the practice of degrading the lower castes has continued into the present.

In 1848, Jotirao Phule was insulted by Brahmins for being a part of a marriage procession notwithstanding the fact that he had been invited to it by his Brahmin friends. In school in the 1890s, Bhimrao Ambedkar was not allowed to sit with the other children inside the classroom. He had to bring a gunny sack from home and sit on it outside. In the 1910s, Meghnad Saha, who would grow up to become an internationally acclaimed astrophysicist, was not permitted by upper-caste fellow residents at the Calcutta’s Government Eden Hindu Hostel to dine at their table and participate in the annual Sarasvati Puja.

The economic exploitation and oppression of Dalits and crimes against Dalit women are facilitated by the low ritual status assigned to them. Just as the West is re-examining its colonial and slave-running past, India should also identify those parts of ancient texts that are now anachronistic. It should treat them as archives and disown them as living heritage.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's "Untouchable" #Dalits Face Discrimination by upper #caste #Indians in #US: “I was slowly pushed out of the Indian social circle among my colleagues, and then my errors were magnified by a Brahmin boss who made it difficult to keep working there" http://entm.ag/ZGuzNN

When Nitesh (name changed on request) immigrated to Michigan to work for a Fortune 500 company, he was unaware that caste prejudices would follow him from his hometown in southern India.

The 44-year-old ended up working as a tech specialist at a company employing many high-caste Indians. Nitesh is a Dalit, a member of India’s lowest caste, once referred to as “Untouchables.” He enjoyed his job and got along well with his colleagues until one of them found out about his background.

“I was slowly pushed out of the Indian social circle among my colleagues, and then my errors were magnified by a Brahmin boss who made it difficult to keep working there,” he said. I hung on long enough to get a green card and moved to the Silicon Valley, but many companies there were headed by casteist Indians, who had a problem with working with a Dalit: I stopped hiding my caste.”

Most senior executives in the U.S. of Indian origin come from privileged high-caste backgrounds, with less than 2 percent of Indian immigrants belonging to lower castes. Nitesh and others interviewed by The Vertical say caste-based discrimination is rampant around the country.

According to study conducted by U.S. non-profit Equity Labs, two out of three Dalits reported unfair treatment in the workplace, and 60 percent of Dalits reported caste-based derogatory jokes or comments.

Last July, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a suit in a federal court against Cisco Systems for allegedly failing to prevent discrimination and harassment against a Dalit engineer.

“I walked out on this kind of behavior, but with the queue for green cards getting longer each year, those on H-1B visas deal with discrimination,” Nitesh says. “I started a marketing technology company in North Carolina and there’s been no looking back for me.”

Nitesh employs 30 people from several backgrounds. “Getting away from the Indian community was a blessing for me,” he adds. “Americans do not ask you your last name to deduce your caste and place you in a hierarchy.”

Nitesh says he hasn’t faced discrimination from white Americans or any minority group in the U.S.

Entrepreneurship as a tool of empowerment
Maya (name changed) came to the U.S. in 2008 on a T visa, which allows some human trafficking victims to remain in the country for up to 4 years, provided they help law enforcement investigate and prosecute their traffickers. She has since managed to acquire permanent resident status and now runs an Indian food catering business in New York City.

“We have a wide range of clients and I provide traditional food from Gujarat, but the dishes are modified for non-Indian clients to suit their palate,” she said. “Although the pandemic affected my business, we have managed to stay afloat.” Maya learned English after moving to the U.S. and employs 10 people.

“I find having my own business both liberating and empowering,” Maya adds. “Being a woman and a Dalit made it far worse for me in India, but here it is easier to blend into a wider multicultural society.”

In India, women from the lowest caste are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and sexual violence. On average, ten Dalit women are raped in the country every day by higher-caste men. Most of the offenders get away with their crimes.

Not all the Dalits that this publication spoke to wanted to hide their identities. Vijay Shanker, who is originally from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, moved to the U.S. as a professional in 2000 and became an entrepreneur six years later. He founded h3 Technologies, an information technology solutions company that focuses on consulting, product development, and staffing.

Riaz Haq said...

How Big #Tech Is Importing #India’s #Caste Legacy to #SiliconValley? Jatav’s #IIT classmates quickly identified him as #Dalit. He’d been educated in Hindi-language schools, and his English was poor. His clothes were shabby. He didn’t have a smartphone. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-03-11/how-big-tech-is-importing-india-s-caste-legacy-to-silicon-valley

For all the IITs’ proficiency at training and placing students, though, the coders, programmers, product developers, and engineers fanning out to global tech bring with them the troubled legacy of India’s caste system. On campus, students are surrounded by—and in some cases participate in—a culture of discrimination, bullying, and segregation that targets fellow pupils from India’s Scheduled Castes, also known as Dalits. The IITs officially discourage such harassment, but the prejudice against these students remains quite open.

Caste in India speaks, as race does in America, to centuries of social, cultural, and economic divisions. Unlike in the U.S., though, India has since 1950 had a national system of affirmative action designed to undo the legacy of bias. Among its provisions are ones that help Dalits and other oppressed groups get into and pay for college. For nearly half a century, IIT admissions have been subject to a reservation system that’s still hotly debated on the campuses. In recent years, the schools have opposed attempts to extend affirmative action to faculty hires, arguing it would dilute the quality of the applicant pool and undermine their meritocratic image.

The IITs are notoriously cutthroat, starting with the admissions process. Some 2.2 million people have registered to take the 2021 entrance exam, to vie for roughly 16,000 slots. About 15% of those are allotted to students from the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and another 7.5% to applicants from the Scheduled Tribes (STs), indigenous people who’ve faced marginalization and whose status has also been formalized by the constitution. To fill those slots, universities sometimes offer seats to students with test scores below the cutoff point—though not as far below as is commonly assumed.

Caste-based resentment at the IITs can run high. In one video posted on YouTube in 2018, a student poring over a pile of books is labeled “GEN,” for general pool, while the two students sleeping nearby are identified as “SC” and “ST.” In another post circulated widely among IIT groups last year, a student suggested Covid-19 should also give preferential treatment to the marginalized groups. “My dear Corona,” it said in Hindi. “In every sphere SC/STs get first preference. So if you can, please look into the same.”

Dalit IIT graduates who’ve managed to land jobs in the U.S. say that such attitudes can be found there, too. Last year a Dalit graduate of IIT Bombay filed suit in the U.S. against Cisco Systems Inc. and two of his fellow alums, saying he’d experienced caste-based discrimination at their hands while the three of them were employed at the company. The accompanying publicity prompted a wave of complaints about caste discrimination in American tech—allegations that seemed to blindside the industry.

Amit Jatav, a Dalit from Karauli, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, remembers catching “the IIT bug” in high school, where he excelled in chemistry, physics, and math. His father, an elementary school teacher, and his mother, a fieldworker, scraped together money from relatives and local lenders to send him for a year of test prep. He took the entrance exam in 2017 and got into IIT Delhi on his first try.

Jatav’s classmates quickly identified him as Dalit. He’d been educated in Hindi-language schools, and his English was poor. His clothes were worn and shabby. He didn’t have a smartphone. In an environment where entrance exam scores are status symbols, Jatav had placed relatively low, marking him as a “quota” student. He heard loud comments saying he was at IIT only because of his “category” instead of “earning it rightfully.” He wasn’t invited to study groups, dinners, or social events.


Riaz Haq said...

Swami Shashi The political Hinduism of Shashi Tharoor – Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd



http://www.kanchailaiah.com/2018/05/28/swami-shashi-the-political-hinduism-of-shashi-tharoor/


Tharoor’s book is the very opposite of mine, and not just in its title. I said I am not a Hindu because of the inequality by birth of different communities within Hinduism, as enshrined in the caste system that pervades Hindu scripture, morality, ritual, social organisation—really the entire Hindu worldview. The very theory of caste goes against the fundamental principle that all humans are created equal. I also criticised Hinduism’s negation of the values and labour that go into productive work, which it stigmatises and reserves for oppressed castes, and the resulting maltreatment of productive communities, including Shudras and Dalits (the book referred to both under the collective term “Dalitbahujans”). Tharoor, by contrast, talks of restoring Hinduism “to its truest essence, which in many ways is that of an almost ideal faith for the twenty-first-century world.” He celebrates it as “a religion that is personal and individualistic, privileges the individual and does not subordinate one to a collectivity; a religion that grants and respects complete freedom to the believer to find his or her own answers to the true meaning of life; a religion that offers a wide range of choice in religious practice, even in regard to the nature and form of the formless God; a religion that places great emphasis on one’s mind, and values one’s capacity for reflection, intellectual enquiry, and selfstudy; a religion that distances itself from dogma and holy writ, that is minimally prescriptive and yet offers an abundance of options, spiritual and philosophical texts and social and cultural practices to choose from.”



Tharoor does not seem to have read my book, despite choosing a title that echoes mine. He does not engage with my arguments anywhere. He also ignores some far more important thinkers on Hinduism. Among Shudra writers alone, the tradition of critiquing the religion goes back at least to Jyotirao Phule, the Maharashtrian social reformer whose 1873 book Gulamgiri, or “Slavery,” was a stinging critique of Hinduism and the caste system. In 1941, Dharma Theertha published The History of Hindu Imperialism, another serious assessment of Hinduism, and came to conclude that it oppresses all Shudras. Although Dharma Theertha was a Nair like Tharoor, he refused to describe himself as a Hindu.


How does Tharoor come to a different view of Hinduism than any Shudra writer of great prominence before him? Simply put, it is by not applying any critical or analytical thinking. His main strategy of persuasion is not argument, but repetition with rhetorical flourishes of a two-in-one premise and conclusion, stated already in the very first paragraph of the book where he describes Hinduism as “that most plural, inclusive, eclectic and expansive of faiths.”



The book’s first section, largely autobiographical and titled “My Hinduism,” is strangely silent on aspects of Tharoor’s own background, including his caste. It is also very selective in its citation of holy texts, while whitewashing Hindu history and sidestepping many of Hinduism’s sharpest critics. The second section, “Political Hinduism,” blames only Hindutva groups for mixing Hinduism with politics, pretending that Tharoor’s own Congress party has never had anything to do with that kind of politicisation. The third section, “Taking Back Hinduism,” disguises a proposed return to Tharoor’s “essence” of Hinduism as a step forward rather than back.



Tharoor admits that he does not write as a scholar of Hinduism, but it is obvious that he does not even write as a sincere autobiographer. That leaves him writing as a politician—a politician who wants to keep one foot each in two camps, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Riaz Haq said...

Swami Shashi The political Hinduism of Shashi Tharoor – Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd



http://www.kanchailaiah.com/2018/05/28/swami-shashi-the-political-hinduism-of-shashi-tharoor/

Traditionally, the basic work of the Nairs, as of many Shudra castes, was agriculture, but the caste system that allotted them this work also denied them land rights. Over the centuries, the Nairs moved away from their typically Shudra occupation, and under the influence of Brahminism entered into a unique relationship with the dominant Nambudiri Brahmins. Well into the nineteenth

century, Nair women lived in sambhandham with the Nambudri Brahmins’ younger sons. This was a form of sexual slavery, with the women denied marital rights and the men freed from obligation towards any children of the union, and it had full spiritual and religious sanction under the caste order.



Like other oppressed castes, under Brahminical hegemony the Nairs were also denied the right to education. That restriction was loosened with the arrival of British power, but with that control over education in Kerala fell largely into the hands of Syrian Christians. In 1914, the Nair leader Mannatthu Padmanabha Pillai established the Nair Service Society, with a view to gaining educational autonomy. The organisation runs a number of institutions of learning to this day, and has been crucial to making the Nairs the most educated Shudra community in India today.



Pillai was a reformer of the Nairs, but not a reformer of society as a whole. In response to the Nair’s historical oppression and humiliation, the Nair Service Society chose not to reject Brahminical social organisation but to further Brahminise the Nair community. The organisation asserted that it was a Hindu group, and aggressively propagated the religion. Tragically, the Nair Service Society never helped in the uplift of other oppressed castes. Instead, Nairs have participated in those castes’ continued persecution, and have played only a marginal role in anti-caste movements. Tharoor is a carrier of this legacy.



“I am the product of a nationalist generation that was consciously raised to be oblivious of caste,” Tharoor writes, recounting that his father dropped “Nair” from his name, “moved to London and brought his children up in Westernised Bombay.” He congratulates himself for how even after he entered the “caste-ridden world of Indian politics … I did not deliberately seek to find out the caste of anyone I met or worked with; I hired a cook without asking his caste (the same with my remaining domestic staff) and have entertained all manner of people in my home without the thought of caste affinity even crossing my mind.” He recalls his “own discovery of caste.” While he was at school, an older boy cornered him near the toilet to ask “what caste are you?” Tharoor replied, “I—I don’t know.” The other boy continued, “You mean you’re not a Brahmin or something?” Tharoor writes, “I could not even avow I was a something.”



Tharoor acknowledges that he holds a privileged position: in today’s India, only great wealth and social advantage, combined to permit a private Englishlanguage schooling, can allow anyone the pretence of being innocent of caste. In Tharoor’s case, it exposes his social ignorance, while his roundabout treatment of caste suggests an unease. If he had been a Brahmin, it is likely Tharoor would have owned up to it matter-offactly. By disregarding his Nair heritage and his caste’s struggle against subordination in the Hindu order, he obscures how he came to be in his privileged position. As a result, he makes it seems as if caste can be shrugged off, where for the vast majority of Indians the attempt to break free of it has been, and is, a bloody struggle. To write in this way about the religion that created the caste system is unethical.

“It is difficult to pretend that Hinduism can be exempted from the problems of casteism,” Tharoor states at the start of a passage examining caste in general, yet taken as a whole that is exactly what the passage does.

Riaz Haq said...

California student body demands ban on caste-based discrimination
‘Historic’ resolution passed by student association at California State University calls for adding caste in school’s anti-discrimination policy.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/16/california-student-body-demands-ban-on-caste-based-discrimination

While taking cognisance of incidents of discrimination faced by Dalits on campuses, the student association said the addition of caste within CSU’s anti-discrimination policy would further reiterate the school’s “commitment to diversity, equity, and support for those most systemically marginalised”.

Interestingly, the resolution was authored by a higher caste student and backed by three other students from different racial and religious groups.

“This was a joint inter-caste, inter-faith and multiracial coalitional work,” Manmit Singh Chahal, 20, a California Polytechnic State University student and lead author of the resolution, told Al Jazeera.

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An association representing nearly half a million university students in California, United States has passed a resolution seeking a ban on caste-based discrimination faced mainly by the Dalit students, with rights groups calling the move “historic”.

Formerly referred to as “untouchables”, Dalits lie at the bottom of the complex Hindu caste hierarchy and have faced socio-economic oppression for decades. India officially banned untouchability when it adopted its constitution in 1950, but the practice continues among the South Asian communities, mainly Hindus.

Last week, the Cal State Student Association (CSSA), the country’s largest four-year public university system representing 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system, passed the resolution with 22-0 vote in an online meeting, supporting the addition of caste as a protected category against discrimination.

The students’ body directed the University Board of Trustees to add caste in the system’s anti-discrimination policy and provide resources to its staff members to better their understanding of caste.

“Current CSU policy prohibiting discrimination includes many of the identities intertwined with caste but does not protect from caste-based discrimination specifically,” the resolution said.

The resolution cited a survey by Equality Labs which said 25 percent of Dalits reported facing verbal or physical assault based on their caste in the US.


“One in three Dalit students report being discriminated against during their education in the US, two out of three Dalits surveyed reported being treated unfairly at their workplace in the US,” the resolution said, adding that 60 percent of Dalits reported experiencing caste-based derogatory jokes or comments in the country.

“All of these inequalities associated with caste status have become embedded in all of the leading South Asian American institutions and they extend into American mainstream institutions that have significant South Asian immigrant populations,” it said, noting that such discrimination “has long been overlooked by American institutions”.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu Sect Is Accused of Using Forced Labor (mainly #Dalit) to Build #NewJersey Temple. #US federal agents raided the massive temple in Robbinsville, N.J., as a lawsuit charged that low-caste men had been lured from #India to work for about $1 an hour. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/11/nyregion/nj-hindu-temple-india-baps.html#click=https://t.co/Oz8nDR3CRo


Federal law enforcement agents descended on a massive temple in New Jersey on Tuesday after workers accused a prominent Hindu sect of luring them from India, confining them to the temple grounds and paying them the equivalent of about $1 an hour to perform grueling labor in near servitude.

Lawyers for the workers said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Hindu sect known as BAPS that has close ties to India’s ruling party and has built temples around the world, had exploited possibly hundreds of low-caste men in the yearslong construction project.

The workers, who lived in trailers hidden from view, had been promised jobs helping to build the temple in rural Robbinsville, N.J., with standard work hours and ample time off, according to the lawsuit, a wage claim filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. The majority are Dalit, the lowest rung in India’s caste system.

They were brought to the United States on religious visas, or R-1 visas — temporary visas used for clergy and lay religious workers such as missionaries — and presented to the U.S. government as volunteers, according to the claim. They were asked to sign several documents, often in English, and instructed to tell U.S. embassy staffers that they were skilled carvers or decorative painters, the complaint said.

Lawyers for the men, however, said they did manual labor on the site, working nearly 13 hours a day lifting large stones, operating cranes and other heavy machinery, building roads and storm sewers, digging ditches and shoveling snow, all for the equivalent of about $450 per month. They were paid $50 in cash, with the rest deposited in accounts in India, the complaint said.

“I respectfully disagree with the wage claim,” Kanu Patel, the chief executive of BAPS, told The New York Times, while noting he was not in charge of day-to-day operations at the site.

Lenin Joshi, a spokesman for BAPS, also disputed the accusations, saying the men did complicated work connecting stones that had been hand-carved in India. “They have to be fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. In that process, we need specialized artisans,” Mr. Joshi said, saying this work qualified the men for the visas.

“We are naturally shaken by this turn of events and are sure that once the full facts come out, we will be able to provide answers and show that these accusations and allegations are without merit,” Mr. Joshi said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Dalit Scientists Face Barriers in #India's Top #Science Institutes. About 17% of India’s population, Dalits who are officially referred to as “Scheduled Castes” in government records. #caste #Apartheid #Hindutva #Modi #Brahmin https://undark.org/2021/07/26/dalit-scientists-face-barriers-in-indias-top-science-institutes/ via @undarkmag

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1419710594815434757?s=20

Interviews with young Dalit scientists, along with a growing body of academic work, detail the obstacles Dalits still face on their path through scientific training. Those barriers begin early: Just getting into science and engineering education has been a challenging and uncommon choice for Dalit students in the first place, according to Wankhede, the educational sociologist. “Science education is very expensive. Highly inaccessible,” he said. Students pay higher tuition rates for science courses than in other areas, because they are required to take additional classes to do experiments. And to keep up with their coursework, science students often pay for instruction in pricey private academies called coaching institutes, something many Dalit families cannot afford.

For those Dalits who make it into elite scientific institutes, cultural barriers remind them of the caste divide. During his time at IISc, Thomas found that his lower-caste and Dalit sources identified reflections of upper caste culture throughout the institute. Thomas focused on the Carnatic music concerts that Brahmin students organized. Traditionally, Carnatic music, a type of classical music, has long been the domain of Brahmins in southern India. In one instance at IISc, after the singer finished her song, the Brahmin audience continued singing, showing their familiarity with the art form, writes Thomas. But such events alienated researchers who were not Brahmin. One saw Carnatic music as a “symbol of domination” and said he preferred “folk songs and songs of resistance by Dalit reformers.”

“The mindset remains extraordinarily Brahminical in these elite institutions,” said Abha Sur, a historian of science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has written about caste and gender in Indian science. That mindset, she added, tacitly aligns itself with caste hierarchy: “There is implicit devaluation of people that continuously erodes their sense of self.”



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EVEN AS DALIT researchers like Sonkawade and Kale recount fighting against casteism, many upper-caste researchers describe themselves as caste-blind, or beyond caste — a phenomenon, critics say, that has made it more difficult to address ongoing disparities in top scientific institutions.

In 2012, social anthropologist Renny Thomas joined a chemistry laboratory at the Indian Institute of Sciences to study caste dynamics at the institute, arguably India’s most elite science university. That year, he interviewed 80 researchers, and later observed a cultural festival celebrated at the institute. Again and again, Thomas found, Brahmin researchers denied that caste existed in their lives or on the campus. “Caste!?? Oh, Please! I have nothing to do with caste,” one molecular biologist from a Brahmin family told Thomas, according to a paper he published last year. “It never registered in my mind.”

Such claims aren’t limited to academic science. In a 2013 paper, University of Delhi sociologist Satish Deshpande argued that for many upper-caste Indians, caste is “a ladder that can now be safely kicked away,” but only after they convert those high-caste privileges into other forms of status, such as “property, higher educational credentials, and strongholds in lucrative professions.” Many Dalits, Kale said, would also like to forget their caste. But upper-caste people, he added, “don’t let us.”