California Caste Bill SB-403: Suppression of Hindu Voice by the Media

Hindus are being railroaded in the “Land of the Free”

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Much has already been written about California’s SB-403, a bill that purports to legislate against discrimination on the basis of caste. The Hindu American community has pointed out time and again that the Civil Rights Act already bans discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” and, therefore, adding “caste” to the list makes no sense whatsoever. Its voice has been completely ignored by California’s lawmakers.

However, what really troubles the Hindu community is that not only the California legislature but also the news media have refused to report their side of the story. Even our letters to editors are being willfully suppressed by the media.

Here’s one of the many such examples where Hindus are being denied a platform to voice their concerns.

Letter to the editor – Submitted to The Independent, Livermore, CA, on May 11, 2023

SB403-A Bill That Institutionalizes Discrimination Against Hindu Americans

Dear Editor,

As a Hindu American, I am writing to register my opposition to SB-403.-Discrimination Based on Caste. I oppose this bill because it is based on discriminatory intent, it is not practically implementable, and there is scant evidence of caste discrimination that necessitates such a bill.

This malicious bill is founded on the notion that people of South Asian descent can be subdivided into two categories: the oppressed and the oppressors. Many people who fall into the so-called oppressed category do not want to be assigned such a label. Such labels negate and invalidate the success these people have achieved through hard work and persistence. Secondly, by implication, the bill designates all South Asians not belonging to the oppressed category as being guilty of oppression. This baseless generalization is bound to result in the profiling of these people and create potential negative consequences in various aspects of their lives, including employment, education, etc.    

Not only is there a malicious intent underlying this bill, but the bill is not implementable. Proponents of the bill intend to apply the principles underlying the bill to alleged caste discrimination involving people of various cultures. However, caste is not a clearly defined term, and its meaning varies across cultures.   So, how do the proponents of this bill propose to identify the caste of the parties involved in an alleged instance of caste discrimination? The most likely outcome is that the principles of this bill will be used exclusively to deal with alleged caste discrimination involving people of South Asian origin. People belonging to the so-called oppressor category will be profiled and prosecuted under this law.

Lastly, there is minimal reliable data on caste discrimination. The only reliable survey on caste discrimination was published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  It found that discrimination based on caste was insignificant, and even in the rare instances of caste discrimination, the perpetrator of the discrimination was not of Indian origin. The only other data comes from dubious groups such as Equality Labs, whose survey has been shown to be unreliable and biased by the findings of the Carnegie Endowment’s survey.

Based on the arguments outlined above, I implore the Governor to veto this bill, as good judgment does not seem to be prevailing among state legislators.


Venkat Nagarajan   

Venkat Nagarajan is a Bay area based economist, and a Ph.D. student at the Hindu University of America