Coalition of Hindus of North America

Over 125 Diverse Businesses, Organizations and Temples Write to California Senate Judiciary Committee Opposing SB-403, Which Targets South Asians and Other People of Color and Violates Their Civil Rights.

Date: April 24, 2023

Subject: Coalition Letter from 125 Plus Businesses, Organizations, Temples Opposing SB-403


To the Honorable Members of the California Senate Judiciary Committee:

We, the undersigned, who represent a broad spectrum of businesses, organizations and temples from various religious and cultural backgrounds, urge you to vote NO on Senator Aisha Wahab’s SB-403 Bill[1] which proposes to add “caste” as a protected category in California.

SB-403 is biased against minority groups and targets South Asians, along with other people of color such as those from other regions. We fear the bill will encourage religious profiling and stereotyping of a minority. We believe it advances baseless hateful narratives against these communities by legalizing a presumption of guilt and turns a long-standing bedrock principle of American justice on its head. If passed, the bill violates the civil rights of South Asians and other people of color and denies them equal protection and due process.

Existing laws (both at the federal level and in California) already provide protections against discrimination under categories such as national origin and ancestry, both of which have been interpreted as inclusive of the various characteristics that might be associated with caste such as ancestry (lineage), culture and ethnicity.

Far from being an example of progressive anti-discrimination legislation, to the best of our knowledge, this is an unprecedented legislation in post-1965 Civil Rights Act America that would create a new crime of which only one targeted demographic and social group can be found guilty. This is profiling at its worst and reminiscent of Jim Crow era discriminatory laws in several states.

Below are some important reasons why you should VOTE NO for this bill.

  1. While admitting that existing California laws CAN provide protection against any such discrimination, the bill still pushes to include “caste” as a special category by alleging, without any proof, that California has a “grave caste discrimination” problem. The bill’s proponents continue to cite the 2020 lawsuit by the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) against two Indian American engineers. However, it bears repeating that after nearly 3 years of litigation, the case against the two engineers has been dismissed.[2]
  2. The proponents of SB-403 have also cited the recent California State University (CSU) action to add caste to existing anti-discrimination categories, but CSU’s policy has already resulted in a lawsuit being filed against the Chancellor of CSU and its Trustees in a Federal District Court for the unfair and disparate treatment of members of the Indian and South Asian communities and adherents of the Hindu religion.
  3. There is no universally recognized definition of “caste” anywhere in the world. Yet, the bill attempts to define the category based on false assumptions pushed by groups and activists known for their bigotry. It also attempts to create the false binary of “oppressor” and “oppressed” simply based on self-identification of one group while presuming other people of South Asian descent guilty by default if they don’t identify as such.
  4. How does the state of California plan to adjudicate these complaints or determine someone’s “caste?” There are thousands of “castes” and social groupings within South Asia. Many vary based on the different states or provinces within each of the eight countries. Any litigation around “caste” discrimination will come up against strict guidelines set by the Supreme Court for Title VII claims[3], subjecting the state to costly litigation and legal imbroglio. In fact, such an experiment is a stark reminder of the racist and colonial policies implemented by the British to rule Indians and advance their inherent prejudice against the native “savage” population.
  5. As seen in public appearances by Senator Wahab, the bill is heavily dependent on false narratives supplied by biased special interest groups such as Equality Labs who are known for their bigotry and hate speech against the Hindu American community — openly calling for Hinduism to be dismantled and publicly calling millions of Hindus “rapists” simply due to their birth. In March 2020, Equality Labs attacked the extremely popular Hindu festival of Holi by falsely claiming that the festival celebrates the burning of a “low caste” woman and in which men advance violence against women, including throwing semen[4]. Such hate should not be mainstreamed by a state as committed to diversity as California is.
  6. There are several well documented problems with the Equality Labs “survey” as laid out in various articles[5]. Indeed, the quality and data of this report were challenged comprehensively back in 2018[6] when it was first distributed. More recently, a 2020 survey on Indian Americans by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace[7] called out the survey’s flaws, indicating the following (emphasis added):

“This study relied on a nonrepresentative snowball sampling method to recruit respondents. Furthermore, respondents who did not disclose a caste identity were dropped from the data set. Therefore, it is likely that the sample does not fully represent the South Asian American population and could skew in favor of those who have strong views about caste. While the existence of caste discrimination in India is incontrovertible, its precise extent and intensity in the United States can be contested.”

In its own report, Equality Labs acknowledges that its study was not statistically tested for significance (page 39, “Caste in the United States”)

  1. SB-403 would create perverse incentives to ostracize and discriminate against Indian Americans, particularly Hindu Indian Americans. For example, corporations and other organizations might be less inclined to hire Indian Americans and South Asians more broadly because of perceived exposure to additional litigation risk in matters of employment discrimination especially given the complex and vague nature of this new legal protected category[8]. We already have one real-world example from UC San Diego where their Ethnic Studies Department announced a policy that would target “caste-privileged” South Asian scholars, students, and administrators by deprioritizing their hiring and admissions and attacking them as casteist.[9]

We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination, including caste-based discrimination, and firmly believe that there is no place for prejudice and mistreatment of anyone in our diverse and pluralistic society. Fortunately, federal and state laws already provide protection from discrimination under categories of national origin, ancestry and religion which is sufficient to encompass any alleged caste discrimination.

As such, we strongly urge you to not adopt any laws that would unfairly target the people of South Asian descent or origin, along with other communities of color, subject them to additional scrutiny, leave them vulnerable to bullying in schools, provide perverse incentives to disfavor hiring of South Asian and particularly Hindu Indian Americans, and deprive them of their fundamental civil rights in the workplace and elsewhere. 

We urge you to Vote NO on SB-403.



The Undersigned

In Alphabetical Order:


1. A5 Corp

2. Adobe Minimart

3. AIM for Seva

4. AK’s Dance studio

5. Akshaya Patra

6. Ambaji USA Shree Shakti Mandir

7. Ambedkar Phule Network of American Dalits and Bahujans (APNADB)

8. American Hindu Federation (AHF)

9. American Organization for Development of Bihar

10. Anupa, Inc

11. Arsha Vidya Pitham

12. Aseem Digisol

13. AV Universal Corp

14. AVA Retail, Inc

15. Avino Capital

16. Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Parivar (BAYVP)

17. Bayside Yard Parties

18. Behind Every Temple

19. Best Western Antelope Inn & Suites

20. Bihar UP Jharkhand United of North America

21. Bollywood Rhythms

22. BPO Systems Inc.

23. Brass Bell Inn

24. California Happy Teeth Family Dentistry

25. Cloud Decisions, Inc

26. Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA)

27. Config Consultants Corp

28. Dalit Samaj of North America

29. DashIT Consulting LLC

30. Drishtikone


32. Durga Temple of NJ

33. Durga Temple of VA

34. El Camino Automation Services

35. Family Doctor Direct

36. Federation of Hindu Associations

37. Federation of Hindu Mandirs

38. Flora Coatings Inc.

39. Folsom Hindu Temple and Cultural Center

40. Garey motel

41. Gateway Inn Red Bluff

42. Gita Jayanti

43. Gokuldham Haveli

44. Hero Life Sciences Inc

45. HindiUSA

46. Hindu Americans of San Diego

47. Hindu Community Center

48. Hindu Society of Inland Empire

49. Hindu Speakers Bureau

50. Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of the Rockies

51. Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago

52. HinduAction

53. Hindupedia

54. Inc.

55. India Awarenss Foundation

56. India Community Center

57. IndiaFacts

58. Indic Press

59. Indo-American Community Federation (IACF-USA)

60. IntefaithShaadi

61. ISSO Shree Swaminarayan Temple LA

62. Jain Foundation

63. Jain Society of Greater Cleveland

64. Jaya Hanuman Temple and Cultural Center

65. Joy and Assoc. Dba Home America

66. Kailasa San Diego

67. KaramVeers

68. Kerala Hindus of Northern California

69. Khalsa Care Foundation

70. KnowYourRoots Foundation

71. Kosha

72. Krishna Insurance Services

73. Luvanya

74. Mandir

75. MentorCloud, Inc.

76. Metropolitan Asian Family Services, Inc.

77. Modesto Group Inc

78. Motwani Jadeja Family Foundation

79. National Alliance of Indo-Canadians

80. Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam Temple and Cultural Center

81. Nuphoton Technologies, Inc.

82. Organization of Hindu Malayalees

83. Pragnya Cultural Society

84. Prashanthi Properties LLC

85. Radha Krishna Mandir & Cultural Center

86. River Comics

87. S4 Consulting

88. Sanatana Dharma Kendra

89. Sankara Eye Foundation USA

90. Sarada Majumder CPA

91. Shanti Mandir

92. Shanti Om

93. Shiva Vishnu Temple Cleveland

94. Shiva Vishnu Temple San Diego

95. Shoonya LLC

96. Shree Swaminarayan Satsang Mandal

97. Shri Suryanarayan Mandir

98. Shri Yoga Vedanta Ashram

99. Simi Valley Mandir

100. SMAP Foundation

101. Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple

102. Sri Ramakrishna Universal Temple

103. Sri Saibaba Mandir

104. Sri-Sri Enterprises LLC

105. Swaminarayan Mandir, Downey

106. The Saraswati Sangam Project

107. TOKII Toothbrush

108. TriDevi Sanatan Mandir Inc

109. Twig AI – SaaS for Customer Support

110. Tykhe Inc

111. Umesh Savani Tax Services

112. United States Hindu Alliance (USHA)

113. United States-India Relationship Council

114. Uttar Pradesh Mandal of America

115. Vaishnav Samaj of Southern California

116. Vasavi Seva Foundation

117. Vedic Cultural & Spiritual Center

118. Vedic Cultural and Spiritual Center of San Diego (VCSCSD)

119. Vedic Education and Devotional Academy

120. Vinay Kruttiventi Foundation

121. Vivaanika

122. Washington State and India Trade Relations Action Committee

123. Winsai LLC

124. World Hindu Coalition

125. YogaAyurvedaOrg Inc

126. Zip & Flip Real Estate Services

[1] SB-403 Discrimination on the basis of caste


[3] University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, Supreme Court of the United States, Docket No. 12-484 (June 24, 2013)

[4] Web Archive of a Medium article (now deleted) published by Equality Labs, “Why Do We Say No to Holi?”

[5] “Anatomy of a Dishonest Survey”, Medium article

[6] “Recrimination or Reconciliation?”, India Abroad Op-Ed

[7] “Social Realities of Indian Americans: Results from the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey”, Survey by the Carnegie Endowment

[8] “The Caste Train and the Witch Hunt of Hindus”, Op-Ed in India West Journal

[9] See statement titled “UC San Diego Ethnic Studies Statement against Caste and Caste-based Discrimination” by UC San Diego Ethnic Studies Department while announcing winners of the Undergraduate Essay Contest of 2020-2021