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Victory of Ambedkarite groups as the first law to stop caste discrimination is passed in USA

by Trend News
6 minutes read
Victory of Ambedkarite groups as the first law to stop caste discrimination is passed in USA.

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant along with other leaders of the South Asian community in the United States (USA) introduced the first such law in the country to ban caste discrimination on 24 January 2023 It was aimed at considering caste discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, sex, religious creed and nationality. On February 21, Seattle became the first US city to end racial discrimination after the local council voted.

The move addresses an issue important to the region’s South Asian diaspora, especially the Indian and Hindu communities.

This law passed in the US is being widely appreciated in the Indian peninsula and it is believed that this law will open the way for similar new laws to be brought in India in the coming time as India’s caste system is in competition with the world of rigid social stratification. One of the oldest forms.

Indian American Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant said that the fight against caste discrimination is closely linked to the fight against all forms of oppression.

The ordinance, introduced by Kshama Sawant, a member of the Indian-American Council, also aims to provide more protection for Indian Dalit workers in the city.

Steps taken in response to discrimination

The move comes in response to the rising issue of caste-based discrimination in the United States, especially in sectors such as technology, manufacturing and service industries. It aims to address the region’s racial discrimination, largely concentrated in the Greater Seattle area, with more than 167,000 people of South Asian descent living in Washington.

When the law was introduced, the move was strongly supported by Sameer Khobragade, tech activist and member of the South Asian American community, Raghav Kaushik, tech activist and member of the South Asian American community, Hasan Khan, human rights activist and others.

What will be the effect after the law is implemented?

The implementation of this law will curb discrimination on the basis of caste in relation to hiring, tenure, promotion, workplace conditions and wages in businesses. It would also ban discrimination in public accommodations such as hotels, public transport, retail establishments and restaurants. Apart from this, this law will also prohibit housing discrimination in rental housing leases and property sales.

Let us tell you that this is not the first time that the issue of caste-based discrimination has been addressed in the United States. Harvard, Brown, California State University and Brandeis University have all previously taken action against race-based discrimination and included it under their non-discrimination policies.

The initiation of this ordinance has been accomplished with the support of the Indian-American community. Anil Vagade, an Indian IT activist in Atlanta and member of the Ambedkar International Center, called it a significant achievement in terms of bringing the issue to political forums for discussion.

Wagade cited the 2020 Cisco case, where a Dalit worker was harassed and transferred from a project by an upper caste man after his caste background was revealed, as an example of the need for this law. given. Despite complaining to the Human Resource Department, he was not heard. The activist then contacted the Department for Fair Employment and Housing, now renamed the California Department of Civil Rights, and presented the race-based discrimination she faced to the authorities.

The council has passed the bill discussing its merits with the public. Consequently, the introduction of the ordinance serves as an important step towards addressing and combating race-based discrimination in the US.

Why is protection against racial discrimination an important issue in America?

Even after nearly seventy years of independence from colonial rule, casteism still prevails in South Asia. It cannot be denied that the unequal legacy of caste shapes every aspect of social life, from education to marriage, housing and employment.

Caste discrimination still plagues all South Asian societies including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. To this day, the oppressed castes continue to suffer this stigma on the basis of perceived social and intellectual inferiority. This is especially true of Dalits, a broad term for the community that is at the bottom of the caste ladder and has been bearing the stigma of untouchability for years.

It is not hidden that Dalits are facing widespread violence, humiliation and exclusion. The ugly realities of caste inequality and discrimination also shape the lives of South Asian communities in the diaspora.

The events that exposed racial discrimination in America

In the US, two lawsuits in the past years highlighted the prevalence of racism that exists far beyond the borders of South Asia. The first lawsuit was filed against software company Cisco Systems in June 2020.

The victim complained to the California Department for Fair Employment and Housing that two supervisors from a privileged caste background (upper caste) in the company had engaged in activities of caste discrimination against her (a Dalit caste employee) and removed her from a project was given.

The second case was filed in May 2021 against the Hindu trust BAPS (Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha), a non-profit organization that has a 501(c)(3) organization status since 2009. The case was highlighted by lawyers representing a group of Dalits who claim they were brought to the United States under R1 visas as religious workers and forced to work on a Hindu temple in New Jersey. was forced to. Both the lawsuits bring to light the practices of caste discrimination and exploitation in America.

(Rajan Chowdhary is a journalist by profession. The views expressed in the article are his own. The Trend News does not endorse his views.)

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