- Equality Labs’ 2018 survey on caste violates every rule of professional and objective polling. The rush to enact policies based on it casts doubt on the integrity of decision-making.
- Anomalous sampling: Brahmins make up 33% of the volunteer respondents, but only 4% of Hindus in India. No explanation is provided of where the extra Brahmins come from.
- Anomalous results: Only 2% of Brahmins report caste-based discrimination (CBD), vs. 12% in India. Groups other than Dalits and Shudras report 8% of total CBD, vs. 52% in India.
- Such major issues raise serious questions as to the objective validity of this report. A separate unbiased professional survey must be conducted to validate this report.
The following review is informed by the author’s experience directing a professional survey of 8,000 households in India, with a questionnaire designed by a Stanford media professor and fieldwork and analysis conducted by the well-known marketing firm ORG-MARG (now part of Nielsen Media). The survey was nationwide, multilingual, in-home, and statistically designed and interpreted.
The Equality Labs survey  shares NONE of these professional attributes.
- There is no evidence of the use of Statistical methodology in the report.
- The questionnaire is not designed by survey professionals.
- The respondents are all volunteers interested in a specific outcome.
- There was nothing in the survey methodology to prevent a volunteer from responding multiple times with different answers or from faking to be someone they were not.
- Online survey – respondents could be anywhere in the world.
Thus, there is no assurance that the survey is a scientifically valid, representative, or rational basis for any kind of policy or law. Any corporation or agency would not dare to make far-reaching changes based on a survey like this.
And yet, one organization after another has rushed to act on this report’s chilling and horrific conclusions without even once thinking to confirm them.
Why is this? Because the report’s conclusions seem tailor-made to reinforce the false pejorative statements about caste in sixth-grade textbooks that Hindus object to. This report has given the textbook falsehoods a new lease on life.
This survey has made great waves in the world of politics and policy. It has been able to indict the so-called “upper caste” Hindus without a grand jury and convict them in policymakers’ eyes without trial, cross-examination, or rules of evidence. This survey is so sloppy and unprofessional that it was rejected as evidence by a court.
Making sweeping changes in civil rights law that affect only one religion, without any critical examination of the single supporting document, is troubling for a democracy devoted to equal rights and the rule of law. Even more disturbing is the arrogant dismissal of justified Hindu requests to make the changes “facially neutral .”The powers that be “know” that caste is an ancient fossilized evil, and that’s that.
Given this unhealthy and unwise rush to judgment, this review aims to point out some very serious issues with this report in one place for easy reference.
Against Scholarly Consensus
Overall, the tone and tenor of this entire report is troubling. Old tropes about caste and pejorative, evil terms like apartheid are used as neutral background material. No attempt was made to seek input or dialog with experts who hold a different view. The background material is highly dissonant with the Wikipedia article on Caste. 
In fact, the report makes no scholarly pretense. The Executive Director of Equality Labs (“EL”), Thenmozhi Soundararajan (“TS”), is not a social scientist. She is on record, in videos, speeches, and documents, making atrocious, hateful, and false statements about Hindus and Hinduism, obviously designed to offend and inflame.
Clear Errors of Fact
The report refers to Dr. B R Ambedkar as “the author” of the Indian Constitution, but there was no such person. The Constitution was a group effort by the Constituent Assembly. Dr. Ambedkar chaired the drafting committee, and his staff produced draft articles later debated by the Assembly. This may sound like a nit, but it speaks to the level of professionalism and integrity in the report.
Secondly, for whatever reason or motive, the introduction features obsolete colonial propaganda rather than the factual situation. The consensus of scholars (see Wikipedia, above) is that jatis and varnas were fluid, unenforced self-identities, not inescapable lifelong straitjackets. The historical record shows many Shudra kings, dynasties, sages, and epic authors. The report simply papers over the facts.
The process of sample selection is deeply flawed. The respondents are anonymous volunteers required to disclose their caste. That’s it. Nothing prevents people from (i) filling out the survey repeatedly with different entries, (ii) inventing, exaggerating, or minimizing claims of discrimination, (iii) lying about their caste identity, and (iv) submitting fictional horror stories. The uncontrolled, unaudited sampling, with the possibility of multiple and exaggerated claims, makes the results meaningless.
An example of a major, inexplicable sampling anomaly follows.
Sample Corruption: Brahmins
In this survey, 33% of the sample consists of self-identified Brahmins. Yet according to Pew Research, based on a survey of 29,999 Indians, only 4% of Hindus in India are Brahmins. To have ten times this ratio of Brahmins flood the US and volunteer to be counted as perpetrators is both humanly and statistically impossible.
Possible explanations for this major anomaly: (1) the alleged perpetrators, Brahmins, are eager to show off their dominance and submit multiple entries; (2) the alleged victims, Dalits, identify as Brahmins to inflate the latter’s numbers. In either case, if the self-declared caste is faulty, the entire sample is hopelessly corrupted. The report’s authors seem completely unaware that Brahmins are a tiny minority.
A Fictional Static Society
Every society on Earth is dynamic. The report itself notes dramatic changes in US attitudes towards race. However, the introductory narrative of caste implies that it has been frozen for thousands of years. That’s like claiming that Christians burn witches at the stake and every Christian is out to find witches. It’s laughably out of date. Only those brainwashed to believe a frozen Hinduism will believe it. Unfortunately, frozen Hinduism is exactly what is taught to Americans in middle school.
According to Pennington  of Oxford, 19th-century evangelicals determined to show the evils of idolatry propagated fraudulent images of “a fabricated Hinduism crazed by blood-lust and devoted to the service of devils” (p. 77). This report propagates fraudulent images of an evil Hinduism frozen in time. TS, the report’s director, has spewed hateful nonsense against Hindus and Hinduism on YouTube. 
In fact, Hindu society has continually changed due to migrations, new ideas, internal reforms, education, industrialization, and government policy. For example, half the school and college seats are reserved for disadvantaged Hindus. As a result, more Dalits and Shudras have come to America in recent years. Figure 18 of the report shows this data without any mention of the reservation policy.
The level of caste-based discrimination (“CBD”) in this report is shocking but entirely unverified. Subsequent professional surveys by Pew Research in India, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (“CEP”), and the Coalition of Hindus in North America (CoHNA) in the US did not support its sensationalist claims. The difference is that this report is produced by a small fraction of Dalits motivated by anger. The team did not attempt to obtain a representative sample.
In summary, given (a) unscientific methodology, (b) corrupted samples, ( c) lack of statistical control, design, or validation, and (d) the director’s documented hate and lies against Hindus, quantitative discrepancies are only to be expected.
The Perception Gap
In general, perpetrators and victims perceive very different levels of discrimination in society. For example, in a 2021 US survey by Pew Research , 46% of blacks, but only 14% of whites, say that blacks face “a lot of discrimination .”The greater than 3:1 gap in perceptions indicates that perpetrators are in denial.
Surprisingly, perceptions of CBD in India are much lower and more uniform. A 2021 Pew survey of Caste and religion in India  found that 19% of upper castes, 27% of Dalits, 23% of tribals, and 17% of “other backward castes” say that “Dalits face a lot of discrimination .”CBD in India is not a flaming war between castes.
Anomalous Caste Distribution
As indicated in the Qualitative section, one-third of this report’s volunteer subjects are Brahmins, compared to only 4% of the Hindus in India. Similarly, 36% of India’s Hindus identify as Other Backward Castes, but only 9% of this report’s volunteer subjects identify as such. These stunning anomalies call for an explanation, but none is provided.
The flood of Brahmins and almost no reported CBD suggest that Brahmins are the prime discriminators, consistent with Dalit mythology. But wide disparities in CBD experienced by different castes begs the question, how do people detect a person’s caste? There are no reliable external indicators. How can someone know someone is a Brahmin and, therefore, not to be messed with? It’s not like race!
Personal exposure to CBD
According to the 2021 Pew survey, 20% of Dalits, 19% of tribals, and 18% of other backward castes, 13% of Brahmins, and 12% of other upper castes report experiencing CBD in the past 12 months. These are averages across five geographic regions. CBD in India is not especially vehement against Dalits.
The subject report differs vehemently from this relatively evenhanded situation. Thus, 67% of Dalits, 12% of “Shudras,” 1% of Brahmins, and 0% of Kshatriyas and Vaishyas reported experiencing CBD in the workplace last year. For some inexplicable reason, CBD in the diaspora targets ONLY Dalits.
In chart after chart, the subject report shows very high CBD against Dalits and relatively negligible against Brahmins. The extreme case is physical assault, reported by 26% of Dalits and 0% of all other categories. Does the perpetrator ask the victim’s caste before deciding to hit them? Or do Dalits have some cultural propensity to assault each other? The report doesn’t say.
Possibly Fabricated Data
Physical assault reserved for Dalits
As mentioned already, the report shows only Dalits reporting physical assault. This is impossible – caste cannot be the only reason for a physical altercation. If an altercation occurs, the victim will NOT ask the attacker his caste. It is also impossible that non-Dalits never do anything to provoke anyone’s anger. Arguments, fights, physical attacks, and so on are universal human behaviors.
The Vegetarian Hoax
A large majority of Indian men of all stripes, including Brahmins, eat meat, and most of the women do. Parties that mix vegetarians and nonvegetarians are ubiquitous and happen all the time, regardless of the caste distribution. A simple phone call to any Indian wedding caterer will confirm this. Indian cuisine – created for the upper castes – is rich with nonvegetarian dishes of all kinds, and Indians don’t abhor Muslims or Christians because of meat. Nor do they abhor anyone based on caste.
Hindu shastras do not explicitly prohibit killing or eating meat; the injunction is only against killing cows. Kshatrityas are specifically shown hunting and killing animals in the Hindu legends. Animal sacrifices have been part of Hindu rituals. On the other hand, Buddhism abhors violence against any animal. Yet, in India, almost 90% of Dalits self-identify as Buddhists. How can nearly all Dalits be nonvegetarian? The report does not even notice this contradiction, much less explain it.
The generation of Indians born in America has changed their food preferences towards healthier choices, such as minimizing red meat, for health reasons, environmental reasons, and often due to peer pressure. Caste has nothing to do with it !!
Fake Caste Disparities
According to Figure 10 of the report, 67% of Dalits and 12% of Shudras have experienced CBD in the workplace. That’s a very significant disparity for which there is no explanation. The problem is, despite the typical assumption that Caste must somehow be visible, it is not. Presumed indicators, such as skin color, hair, height, or meat-eating, can NOT differentiate Dalits from Shudras. The only way to differentiate is to ask the person. Not even his papers will tell you. These numbers must be fake.
This rather obvious flaw has not been noticed because Americans think of caste as an analog of race. But race is instantly visible, whereas caste is invisible.
It is clear from the above that the Equality Labs survey greatly over-represents the number of Brahmin respondents and CBD against Dalits and greatly under-represents CBD against everyone else. This is in comparison with the Pew survey, which is the gold standard in the world of survey organizations. Secondly, it implies some magic indicator of caste carried by everyone with a caste.
It must, however, be said that the EQL survey does not claim to be scientific or professional. It is a self-selected, non-statistical survey commissioned, executed, and managed by anti-Hindu activists. Decision-makers uncritically accepted it because it was the first of its kind, and its conclusions were explosive. It is somewhat understandable that it was hailed, not questioned by the academic community. It was also actively propagated and evangelized by TS, the chief protagonist.
The people accused of horrible crimes were nowhere in the picture. The US academic establishment calls anyone who objects to the denunciation of Hindus a Hindu nationalist, a term just above “Nazi,” and shuts them out. For five years, the EQL’s demonization of Brahmins spread like cancer, unopposed, while they were denied any voice in the matter. There is no equal protection outside the courts.
Another important point is that the Pew survey came out three years after the EQL survey. Therefore, EQL did not have an opportunity to question or revise its results in light of the Pew report. Nevertheless, it makes sense to regard the Pew survey as the standard because it was far more granular (30,000 subjects as opposed to EQL’s 1,500), professional, and statistically controlled.
The attitude, prejudice, and anti-Hinduism displayed by EQL’s Executive Director TS must also be considered. They parallel the beliefs of the DMK, an anti-Brahmin political party in Tamil Nadu, India, which recently called for the eradication of Sanatan Dharma, the core of Hindu teachings. TS also works with Khalistanis, a fringe group dedicated to the Balkanization of India. Her attacks on Hindus and the Hindu religion parallel those of EVR, the hero and founder of DMK who advocated for the genocide of Brahmins.
The EQL survey, then, cannot be expected to be a valid scientific exercise. It was not intended to be such. It was created to turn hate into data.
This paper started as an academic exercise. But it soon became clear that we were dealing with unverified data that appeared to be corrupted or fabricated. Despite the great commotion caused by the EQL report, NO academics made any effort to validate the results by comparing them with a much larger, later, professional survey. This speaks to the widespread Hindudvesha prevalent among “experts” on Hinduism.
It was shocking to see out-and-out shameless anti-Hindu propaganda in videos made by TS, the survey’s director. The lies presented as fact were reminiscent of the inhuman accusations made against Jews for centuries. That they are accepted in America is extremely disturbing. The anti-Hindu venom widely presented as fact in media stories and academic papers may be a prelude to much worse.
How can Hindus prove that this survey is troubling and quite possibly fabricated? It is very costly to mount a media campaign, and the biased media can and do simply ignore criticism by refusing to publish it. The establishment’s power and use of the Nazi accusation are enough to silence Hindu critics.
Hindus should consider the courts, where the person accused can’t simply ignore the accuser, and clear rules of evidence and precedents apply. Even well-established laws have been found unconstitutional and terminated. Recently, the high-flying company Theranos, whose board members included a Secretary of State, was found to be based on lies. Equality Labs cannot be impervious to scrutiny in the court of law.
- Caste in the United States — EQUALITY LABS
- Caste system in India – Wikipedia
- Was Hinduism Invented Britons, Indians, And The Colonial Construction Of Religion Brian Pennington K. OUP : Pitambara Kartha : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
- Who is behind the caste legislations in North America? A peek into their track record – YouTube
- Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation | Pew Research Center
- Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation | Pew Research Center
How the chart data was rationalized between the Pew and EQL reports
X-axis categories follow Pew Research and the Government of India. Equality Labs data is converted to them as follows: Dalit=SC [scheduled caste], Shudra=ST [scheduled tribes], Other+Adivasi=OBC [other backward castes], Brahmin=B, OGC= Vaishya+Kshatriya.