In recent years, the Hindu diaspora in the United States has found itself at the receiving end of a deepening discourse surrounding caste. As this narrative amplifies, there emerges a pressing need to discern the intricacies of caste within the Hindu-American context, distinguishing between informed perspectives and manufactured malice. The evolving discourse raises critical questions: How accurately is caste represented in American conversations? And to what extent do these narratives resonate with the lived experiences of Hindus in the U.S.?
Hindus: The ideal immigrants
Hindus, who have made the United States their home for the past many decades, have frequently been characterized as “ideal immigrants.” This designation is rooted in multiple pieces of evidence. They traditionally keep their religious observances within the confines of their homes, ensuring that their practices don’t encroach upon the public sphere. Financial responsibility is evident in their consistent tax compliance. Observations suggest they don’t engage in riots, nor do they indulge in illegal activities such as the narco trade.
This community’s societal contributions are manifold. A strong emphasis on family values reinforces their commitment to nurturing and raising responsible citizens. Their professional achievements are noteworthy, with many excelling as doctors, engineers, and scientists. The corporate world has seen numerous Hindus ascend to leadership roles as CEOs of multinational corporations. In the academic arena, they are prominent as scholars and educators. Furthermore, the entrepreneurial spirit thrives among them, evident in a plethora of successful businesses they’ve established.
Given such exemplary attributes, one might wonder how such a commendable “minority” can be subjected to criticism or suspicion. How do you pinpoint shortcomings in a group seemingly so law-abiding and constructive?
Enter Caste – a topic that has become Far-Left’s latest fixation. When intrinsic faults are challenging to locate, external narratives, such as caste, are brought in to shift the discourse.
The Emergence of Caste Discourse in America
In recent academic and political discourse, the term “caste” has emerged as a novel inclusion within the American lexicon. Following its introduction, its prevalence, and pertinence in discussions have noticeably persisted, indicating a sustained interest in and examination of the concept.
In the sociopolitical context of India, Dalits have been notably vulnerable to outreach efforts by Christian missionaries. Interestingly, a parallel, though distinct, narrative can be observed in the U.S., where Far-Left sections of Christians have shown a burgeoning interest in the Dalit cause and issues related to caste. Notably, this interest often manifests without a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of the caste system.
Proponents of anti-Hindu sentiment have coalesced, methodically crafting a strategy that seeks to sideline and challenge the legitimacy of Hindus. This becomes evident as one notes a diverse cohort of groups in the U.S., ranging from progressives to Muslims, Sikhs affiliated with the Khalistani movement, feminist entities, and even some individuals of Hindu origin with critical views on Hindu practices, have displayed an increasing alignment with Dalit-centric narratives and causes.
CSU’s Contentious Caste Amendment
In 2022, a noteworthy decision emerged from the California State University (CSU) board of trustees. They approved an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement, integrating “caste” into the non-discrimination clause present in faculty contracts. This decision was not without its challenges. A petition, signed by approximately 90 CSU faculty members from a diverse array of ethnicities and religious backgrounds, was in opposition to this change.
The concerns voiced underscored the potential implications of such a policy. As this policy distinctly targets Indians, the Indian community expressed apprehensions about further divisions in an already minority group. Concurrently, there arose allegations suggesting the manipulation of specific Dalit representatives. Accusations hinted at the orchestration by certain academic and activist entities to portray Hindus in a negative light.
Furthermore, the procedural inclusivity of the decision-making process came under scrutiny. Critics highlighted the Board of Trustees hearing, alleging a lack of representation for those opposing this policy change. Indian faculty, students, and activists were not invited. The few who received invitations to voice their concerns claimed that they were notified at the eleventh hour and were subsequently allotted limited time for their presentations. This process raises questions about representation and equity in decision-making forums.
The Controversial Roots of SB403 Legislation
In May this year, the Assembly Judiciary Committee of California approved a bill with the primary objective of prohibiting caste discrimination. Should this legislation gain approval in the Assembly, California would be distinguished as the first U.S. state to enact such a law, as per regional media sources.
Proponents of the bill contend that manifestations of caste discrimination have resulted in numerous workplace challenges. These include wage discrepancies, pervasive biases, and, in certain instances, outright harassment. Their arguments are founded on the assumption that by addressing caste in legislative terms, these challenges can be mitigated.
The bill labelled SB403, was put forth by Senator Aisha Wahab. Intriguingly, the decision to introduce this legislation was influenced predominantly by a singular research endeavor: a caste survey facilitated by Equality Labs. It is pertinent to note that this survey, conducted in 2018, was the cumulative effort of merely four individuals.
Equality Lab, headed by Thenmozhi Soundararajan, is the brainchild of George Soros, who has been using wealth to break societal structures worldwide. Thenmozhi Soundararajan was mentored by Huma Dar, a provocateur-par-excellence of Pakistani origin. Dar is known for promoting Khalistan-Kashmir agendas maintaining active ties with militant groups linked to these factions. Public financial records show how Soundararajan received grants from Soros even before establishing Equality Labs in 2014.
So, in a nutshell, the caste discourse in California was advanced by a Muslim senator, predicated upon a survey that was the cumulative effort of merely four individuals. Given the evident concerns surrounding Equality Lab’s affiliations, expecting neutrality and objectivity in its endeavors is wishful thinking.
Selective Reporting: From Neha Singh to Aldrin Deepak
Left-leaning American elites frequently exhibit selective reporting when addressing issues of caste-based oppression in India and the US. A discernible trend sees these quarters providing extensive coverage to incidents where individuals from marginalized castes face disparagement from those of so-called ‘upper castes.’ An illustrative instance would be the wide dissemination of an incident involving an ‘upper caste’ man’s denigration of a lower caste girl. Neha Singh, bearing a distinguishable upper-caste surname, recounts an instance from a decade prior wherein an individual, purportedly from an “upper caste,” remarked, if anything, Neha Singh should consider herself fortunate to have reached America. Assuming this narrative’s authenticity, it prompts further inquiries. How have other ‘upper caste’ Indians engaged with her? Does a singular experience from ten years ago warrant a generalized notion or establish a recurring pattern? The extrapolation of a trend from an isolated event demands a critical analysis. Her version appears on over a dozen Indian and American news websites.
Aldrin Deepak’s narrative, originating from Kollegal, Karnataka, frequently remains overshadowed. His early life was colored by the derision stemming from his maternal Christian relatives due to his father’s affiliation with the “Holeya” jati. Despite his father’s conversion to Christianity to wed Aldrin’s mother, Aldrin, raised within Christian traditions, was not spared from the jeers and degradations extended by Christian family members.
Following his mother’s untimely demise, Aldrin’s father married a Hindu woman. Aldrin warmly refers to her as his “second mother,” crediting her for introducing serenity and joy into his world. This change catalyzed Aldrin’s exploration into the wealth of the Hindu heritage, a legacy that had been obfuscated by his maternal family. Enthralled by its artistic and theatrical expressions, the grandeur of its temples, and the fortitude emanating from its Vaishnava customs, he felt an intrinsic connection.
Aldrin subsequently relocated to the U.S., where his “Dalit” background remained inconsequential in both social and professional domains. However, he remains overlooked by advocates in America who focus on caste dynamics. Aldrin’s life trajectory, which deviates from the commonly propagated notion of Upper Caste Hindus oppressing Dalits, challenges the standardized narratives, rendering his experiences unfavorable to their agenda.
Narratives aimed at fostering animosity between Dalits and Upper Caste Hindus frequently secure space in prominent newspapers and policy institutions. A particular article, provocatively titled ‘Educated Dalits Are Mobilising Against Upper Caste Antagonism, Rise of Hindutva Forces,’ was featured by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. This piece lauded the Bhima Koregaon conflict of 2018, which erupted during an annual event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. In this battle, the British, with the support of soldiers from the Mahar community, defeated the ruling Peshwa Dynasty. However, due to the colonial history of British atrocities, many view this battle negatively as a reminder of British colonial oppression. Subsequent investigations unraveled that the tumult was not solely a spontaneous outburst of sectarian tensions. Rather, it was significantly influenced by certain leftist radicals. The recognition and circulation of such accounts, especially without comprehensive scrutiny, speaks of the inherent bias.
Narrative vs. Reality: Unpacking Caste Discourses
The prevailing discourse surrounding Dalits can be addressed by elucidating the authentic meanings of “Jati” and “Varna.” However, engaging with fervent agitators on this matter is a fool’s errand. The U.S.-based caste narrative operates on the assumption that Hindus in the country practice discrimination towards their compatriots based on caste distinctions. Incidents implying even minimal derogatory treatment of Dalits, be it through mockery, distancing, or shaming, often receive amplified media attention. Regrettably, there seems to be no diligence in verifying the veracity of such claims.
The transplantation of these dynamics into the American context amplifies these complexities. Many American discourses, influenced by superficial investigations, risk perpetuating misconceptions about the Hindu diaspora. The inclination to generalize based on isolated incidents, often without due diligence in cross-referencing, is a growing concern. This approach can inadvertently mask the diversity of experiences within the Hindu community. It is paramount that discourses surrounding caste remain informed, sensitive, and open to multifaceted perspectives, lest they further entrench misunderstandings and perpetuate hatred.