Opinion | The Specter of Caste in Silicon Valley

In line with the lawsuit, Mr. Iyer, one of many Brahmin engineers at Cisco, revealed to his different higher-caste colleagues that the complainant had joined a high engineering faculty in India by affirmative motion. When the Dalit engineer, the lawsuit says, confronted Mr. Iyer and contacted Cisco’s human sources to file a criticism, Mr. Iyer retaliated by taking away the Dalit engineer’s function as lead on two applied sciences.For 2 years, the lawsuit says, Mr. Iyer remoted the Dalit engineer, denied him bonuses and raises and stonewalled his promotions. Cisco’s human sources division responded by telling the Dalit engineer that “caste discrimination was not illegal” and took no fast corrective motion. Mr. Kompella, the opposite Brahmin supervisor named within the lawsuit, changed Mr. Iyer because the Dalit engineer’s supervisor, and based on the swimsuit, “continued to discriminate, harass, and retaliate in opposition to” him.In 2019, Cisco was ranked No. 2 on Fortune’s 100 Finest Workplaces for Variety. The know-how large acquired away with ignoring the persistent caste discrimination as a result of American legal guidelines don’t but acknowledge Hindu caste discrimination as a legitimate type of exclusion. Caste doesn’t characteristic in Cisco’s range practices in its operations in India both. It reveals how the Indian data know-how sector usually operates in willful ignorance of the terrifying realities of caste.In “The Different One %: Indians in America,” a 2016 examine of individuals of Indian descent in america, the authors Sanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur and Nirvikar Singh estimated that “over 90 p.c of migrants” got here from excessive castes or dominant castes. In line with a 2018 survey by Equality Labs, a Dalit-American led civil rights group, 67 p.c of Dalits within the Indian diaspora admitted to dealing with caste-based harassment on the office.Within the backdrop of caste supremacy within the Indian diaspora in america, when higher-caste Hindus usually describe and demonize Dalits as “inherently lazy/ opportunistic/ not gifted,” even apparently innocuous practices like peer critiques for promotions (Cisco and several other different tech firms function on this mannequin), can flip into minefields, ending in job losses and visa rejections for Dalits.Nearly each Dalit individual I spoke to in america, after California filed the lawsuit in opposition to Cisco, requested to stay nameless and feared that revealing their identification as a Dalit working within the American tech trade crammed with higher-caste Indians would break their profession.These phrases additionally ruled my life till 2016, after I determined to publicly reveal my caste identification and “come out” as Dalit. Rising up “passing” as a dominant-caste individual in India whereas hiding my “untouchable,” caste I lived in the identical concern that stops most Dalits from articulating their harassment and asserting their identification in India and america.

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