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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Hinduphobia, anti-immigrant bigotry, and anti-Bharat forces unite to inject the caste discourse in US Academia

Bharat’s Constitution has caste-based reservations but even though its chief architect Dr Ambedkar based the Constitution on the British colonial legacy, he too wanted caste reservations to last for no more than a decade or two. Unfortunately, vote-bank politics has prevented caste reservations being phased out even after seven decades.

Globally too, the colonialists, aided by vested interests and Break-Bharat forces, have been using the caste narrative to disparage Hindu Dharma. Now, these forces have even managed to inject the caste discourse into policy-making in some US universities. Such a development threatens to become a tool that can be misused to harass and demonize Hindu diaspora in the US.

Already, within Bharat, we have the SC/ST Act which is said to be draconian and susceptible to being misused to settle personal scores against individuals. With similar policies outside the country, as is being attempted in the US, Hindus will face the challenge of having to face new fault-lines which could cause unnecessary conflict among fellow Hindus. So-called higher caste Hindus could face similar problems that the SC/ST Act in Bharat presents.

Ironically, this movement to inject caste in the discourse was initiated in California, the state from which Nicholas B Dirks hails. Dirks, a former Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, carried out an exhaustive analysis of caste in Bharat and presented his views in the book Castes of Mind. The book asserts that:

Rather than a basic expression of Indian tradition, caste is a modern phenomenon–the product of a concrete historical encounter between India and British colonial rule. …under British domination, caste did become a single term capable of naming and above all subsuming India’s diverse forms of social identity and organization.

The discourse on caste in the US began when Equality Labs, considered to be a fringe outfit, released a caste survey in 2018. Per the pgurus article, the “so-called” caste survey that the organization conducted was unscientific and far removed from lived reality and lacked academic credibility.

Yet, in two years, a caste and race stranglehold gripped the narrative in an uncanny unfolding of synchronicity…

In June 2020, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued Cisco systems, alleging that Cisco engaged in unlawful employment-related practises. The lawsuit was based on a claim by Cisco’s Bharatiya-origin employee of facing caste-based discrimination from two Bharatiya-origin managers in the company. Cisco rejected the claim of discrimination.

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) strongly protested against California state’s action asserting that the state‘s definition of Hindu Dharma was in contradiction to the precepts and beliefs of a large number of the religion’s own adherents. HAF said that the lawsuit “violates the religious freedom rights of Hindu Americans.”

The objections put forth by HAF against the lawsuit include:

  • California has unconstitutionally defined the Hindu religious doctrine, and perpetuated false and dangerous stereotypes equating caste-based discrimination with Hinduism and Hindus.
  • Not only is California’s definition unconstitutional, it’s wrong: The core of the Hindu belief system is that the Divine is equally present in all and hence discrimination against anyone or group violates this teaching. Every religious tradition of Hindu dharma rejects caste-based discrimination.
  • California’s failure to provide any definition or workable method to determine anyone’s caste will lead to more discrimination.
  • California has also blown a dog-whistle for anti-immigrant bigotry.
  • California also perpetuates racist European theories about caste: California’s claims about Hinduism and its conflation of caste with race and colour, stem not from Hindu understanding of their own religion and history, but rather from the misinformed and misrepresentative assertions by Western Europeans.
  • California is targeting its Californians of Indian descent.

Summarizing its objections, HAF said it was based on “wrongly tying Hinduism and Hindus to the abhorrent act of caste-discrimination”:

It denies them equal protection and due process based on their national origin and religious affiliation by uniquely targeting them in the absence of any universally accepted understanding of what “caste” is or proof of widespread discrimination on its basis.

In September 2021, Cisco filed a brief asking for arbitration in a US Appeal Court.

In a more recent development within the state of California once again, the California State University (CSU) announced that it would include caste in its anti-discriminatory policy. The CSU’s announcement specifies that “caste-oppressed” students will be able to report an “anti-Dalit” bias which, per the University is a “regular occurrence” per “many students.”

This move has been opposed by over 80 of CSU’s faculty members. The faculty opposing the move consider it to be overreach since policies that protect against discrimination are already in place. They also point out that such a move would single out Hindu Dharmics for policing.

… the new policy would unfairly target a minority community for policing and disparate treatment.

Adding caste as a specific and separate protected category would apply only to the faculty of Indian and South Asian descent, they said.

“The addition of caste is a misguided overreach given the existence of comprehensive policies that already protect against various forms of discrimination” said Praveen Sinha, Professor of Accountancy at CSU, Long Beach.

We cannot but oppose the unique risk that CSU’s move puts on us as they add a category that is only associated with people of Indian descent such as myself and thousands of other faculty and students in the CSU system. It is going to create divisions where they simply do not exist,” he added.

Speaking against such a move, Sunil Kumar, Professor of Engineering at the San Diego University said:

“As a faculty member of Indian origin, I am well aware that discrimination is a daily reality for many students of varied backgrounds, and there is a robust mechanism to address all such complaints under the existing laws and the CSU policy,”

Lawyers of HAF also sent a letter to the CSU Board of Trustees opposing the move.

Responding to the news of such a policy being announced on campus, one twitter user said that documented evidence of a widespread problem of ‘caste discrimination’ is needed prior to having such a policy. He also asked why not then also have a policy against hatred of ‘kafirs’ that radical Islamists are known to harbour.

A US resident of Bharatiya origin maintains that the move is the result of woke forces and fringe Dalit organizations allying with anti-Bharat Muslims and Khalistani Sikhs:

On why there is no necessity for campuses to specifically have a policy for caste, he clarified that the Civil Rights Act already subsumes different types of discrimination

The same Hinduphobia that motivated hosting the “Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH)” conference drives this recent attempt to inject the caste narrative in US Universities and is yet another effort to show Hindu Dharma and Dharmics in a bad light.

The move would only serve to target professionals of Bharatiya origin in the US, specifically Hindus. Bharatiya diaspora in the US are considered the most accomplished and successful. They are also known to be law-abiding and model citizens. Attempts to inject caste discourse stem partly from jealousy of this successful group of immigrants and from anti-immigrant bigotry as well as racism.

Anti-Bharat and anti-Hindu forces are, as the twitter user above states “piggybacking on White liberal woke revolution on campus.”

Another factor that partially propels such attempts is the tendency of the colonially brainwashed institutions of governance in Bharat to self-flagellate. As we said in a previous post:

At a recent event, Justice Chandrachud said that the Constitution ‘didn’t just transform us from colonial subjects to free citizens, but also undertook a massive challenge of confronting a polity that was plagued by oppressive systems of caste, patriarchy and communal violence.

This approach of Hindu Dharma being projected as a faith that is constantly in need of reform and one that must endlessly carry collective guilt for alleged oppression and patriarchy has not helped the country or Hindu Dharma to gain respect in the world and such self-flagellation has contributed to the worldwide Hinduphobia. On the contrary, the two Abrahamic faiths that have a history of numerous genocides and other oppressive and misogynistic practices are allowed to be free from such labelling and collective ‘guilt tripping’.

The only solution to such constant attacks on Hindu Dharma and Dharmics therefore is authoring our own narrative instead of allowing colonialist racist forces to define us.

This is why Shri Rajiv Malhotra’s suggestion to Bharat to build a Grand Narrative needs to be taken very seriously.

(Featured Image Source: AnInjusticeMag.com)

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Anuradha
Anuradha
Writer, Editor, Researcher

1 COMMENT

  1. Birth Based Caste is a superstitious system, however Varna was the original system, in Varna there was no upper or lower, people chose the work of which they are qualified for and according to Bhagavad Gita, anyone can be a Brahman (Teacher), Shatriya (Warrior), Vaishya (Trader), Shudra (Labor) based on knowledge and skills:

    🔹In Bhagavad Gita 4:13, Krishna says that he created different Varnas (Profession) on the basis of one’s Karma (Activity) and Guna (Quality).
    🔹Bhagavad Gita 5:18 “The truly learned, with the eyes of divine knowledge, see with equal vision a Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater”
    🔹Bhagavad Gita 9:29 “I am equally disposed to all living entities: there is neither friend nor foe to Me: but those who with living sentiments render divotional service unto Me, such persons are in Me and I am in them.”
    🔹Bhagavad Gita 18:41 “The duties of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras are distributed in accordance with their guṇas (quality) and not by birth.

    Caste is a Spanish and Portuguese word ‘casta’ which stands for ‘Breed’ or ‘lineage’.
    During earlier times Caste use to be Varna (Profession) and based on merit and not by birth, I can give you instances from the ancient times, where a so-called modern day “lower caste” moved to “upper caste”, e.g. Guru Valmiki, Kabir Das was from a shudra family but became a brahmin based on merit, etc
    and btw Ravana was himself a Brahmin knowledgeable person from Northern India but because of his notorious activities he got punished by Rama (believed to be an OBC if we abide by caste categorization).

    Lastly, you have to understand the British motive behind imposing caste:
    The Caucasians (Europeans) created Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, Africa, to divide and control the native population, and for this reason, the Rwanda Genocide occurred.
    The same attempts and inequalities Europeans also tried to create amongst Indians by separating Northern India and Southern India into “Aryans” VS “Dravidians” and further dividing Hinduism into 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes.

    And also read about Herbert Hope Risley who created casteism, racism in Indian society by one’s facial features and skin color, and Bishop Robert Caldwell who propagated the “Aryan Invasion” in Southern India to convert “Dravidians” into Christianity.

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