The council and caste – Caste discrimination becomes a political battle in the US

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Source: The post is based on an article The council and caste – Caste discrimination becomes a political battle in the US” published in Business Standard on 27th February 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed & Developing Countries on India’s Interests.

Relevance: protecting caste in the US

News: Seattle has become the first US city to ban caste discrimination after its local council voted to add caste to the city’s anti-discrimination laws.

What are the implications of this measure?

Some Indian-Americans argue discrimination on the basis of descent or ethnicity is already illegal in many parts of the US and specifying caste focuses more on Indians or Hindus.

Moreover, two different groups of critics have emerged:

First or the right-wing in India sees this attack on caste as essentially an insult to India or to religious practices.

Second group worries that the addition of caste into the law might reduce the attractiveness of Indians and Indian-Americans to companies in the US because US corporations fear lawsuits more than anything.

They also fear that caste discrimination might become ground for action in court. There are already few cases going in the court. For example, one Dalit engineer is suing Cisco for discrimination on the basis of caste.

Hence, this kind of cases might affect Indian-Americans in getting job in the US companies.

What is the way ahead?

Even though there are issues with protecting caste in the US, it is a fact that caste discrimination exists everywhere. Therefore, it should not find a place in the US also and it must be treated on a par with racial and gender discrimination.

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