California’s Progressive Stance on Discrimination Awaits Newsom’s Approval.
California legislators, in a groundbreaking move, have approved a bill that places the state at the forefront of the fight against caste discrimination. The bill is designed to shield individuals originating from countries such as India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, filling the gap left by prior anti-discrimination laws. The bill’s final ascent into law depends on the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom.
The wave against caste prejudice has been gaining momentum in the state. A notable case from 2020 saw state regulators taking action against tech giant Cisco. Allegedly, two Indian managers from higher castes had been involved in unjust practices, offering a Dalit engineer a reduced salary and inferior employment conditions. Furthermore, in 2022, California State University distinguished itself as the pioneer university system to include caste in its anti-discrimination framework.
Despite these positive steps, the state hasn’t been devoid of caste-related atrocities. Lakireddy Bali Reddy, a Bay Area landlord with substantial wealth, was convicted in 2001 for the heinous crime of sexually abusing multiple women in India based on their caste. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for his actions.
The caste system, which has its roots entrenched deep in ancient Hindu society, segregates people into predetermined social categories. Those at the bottom of this hierarchy, notably the Dalits, endure extreme hardships, facing issues ranging from subpar living conditions to being coerced into degrading jobs. Despite India legally prohibiting caste-based discrimination over seven decades ago, the Dalit community continues to be subjected to physical violence and socioeconomic deprivation.
Aisha Wahab, a California state senator and a pioneer as the first Afghan American woman elected to any US public office, championed this bill. In her statement, Wahab highlighted the universal values the bill upholds, declaring, “This bill is about workers’ rights, women’s rights, and civil rights. This bill is about ensuring the American Dream is accessible to all those who pursue it.
”The bill’s ripple effect is evident. Numerous top-tier US educational institutions have incorporated caste in their anti-discrimination protocols. Earlier this year, Seattle made history by becoming the first US city to unequivocally ban caste-based discrimination.