A pernicious and prejudicial narrative about “caste” has been poisoning the waters in Silicon Valley of late. It is a construct that has no basis in historical or present-day reality, but springs directly from colonial-era atrocity literature, which was used for centuries to slander Hinduism as an inherently oppressive and unjust tradition.  

A small cabal of employees at Google has been milking its privileged access to mainstream publications to peddle this appalling construct. What they’ve achieved is to platform hate against Hindus under the guise of pursuing “equity”. Somehow, it’s considered acceptable for highly articulate activists educated at America’s most elite schools to target a little-known, widely misunderstood minority faith whose followers are mostly vulnerable immigrants—all in the name of fighting against oppression. 

As further evidence of institutional bias against Hindu employees at Google stands a petition now being championed by the Alphabet Workers Union. It’s unfortunate that AWU, which declares itself the voice of all Alphabet employees, has blatantly assumed a partisan role for the benefit of a select and motivated subgroup.

 

AWU’s leadership is clearly biased in favor of the privileged few they interact or identify with, because they readily embrace the Hinduphobic narrative about caste without even pretending to investigate the Hindu side of the story. Their discriminatory approach and slanted advocacy have been evident ever since a public hearing held by the Human Rights Commission of Santa Clary County, California, in April 2021.

On that occasion, Mr. Chewy Shaw, Vice Chair of the AWU, testified as an “expert” on caste discrimination among technology workers. Mr Shaw spoke passionately about the discrimination he claimed was rife against Dalits. However, in response to a question just a few minutes later, Mr. Shaw admitted that he had not personally met any Dalits, but only “heard” stories about the discrimination against them from others. You can hear an excerpt from his comments here.

What’s noteworthy is that the AWU representative– like others who echoed his unfounded biases– referred to a certain survey by Equality Labs as the source of his data. Let’s remind readers that this one solitary survey has been the only data source cited in any claim of caste disrimination in the US to date. That it continues to be cited is astonishing, given Equality Labs’ obvious lack of expertise with objective data gathering;  the hopelessly flawed methodology underlying its conclusions; and the outright rejection of its results by mainstream think-tanks like the Carnegie Endowment, whose 2021 survey of Indian Americans showed that over 75% of Indian Americans have little or no awareness of “caste”, among their social networks. 

The complete, unedited replay of the 7-plus-hour public hearing at Santa Clara county can be found here, with opening remarks from Mr Shaw beginning at 38:49, and his revealing response about never having directly interacted with any Dalits at about 55:30.

We hope AWU will do a better job of educating itself, perhaps by reading more about “caste” from authentic decolonial perspectives. We also invite them to engage with and listen to the voices of their silenced Hindu colleagues, most of whom are too scared to speak up against the workplace bullying they face. As an employees’ union, they should be especially sensitive to the need to support workers disadvantaged by their immigrant status, stifled by the fear of losing their visas, and lacking savvy familiarity with the process of influencing public opinion in the United States.