What did the bill SB403 introduced against purported “caste discrimination” in California in 2023 achieve? 

For longtime California residents like me, it revealed the underbelly of hatred against Hindu-Americans by so-called crusaders of caste equity. It exposed the fact that using the false bogey of caste discrimination, there were groups dedicated to targeting the law-abiding, hard-working and well respected Hindu and Indian American community in California.

That it was a pan-America push to show Hindus in a bad light was also exposed. 

Why do I call it a false bogey? Because when asked to produce ANY conviction on caste discrimination, the groups championing caste protections, were unable to do so. The one legal case they banked on as proof of caste discrimination was the Cisco lawsuit filed by the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) on Sundar Iyer, which fell flat on its face and was withdrawn by the CRD.

It’s not lost on the Hindu-Americans how the entire community was labeled as rapists, murderers by senator Aisha Wahab and how our religious texts were repeatedly abused by the activists with impunity.

A more important outcome from this farce of a bill was that it awakened the Hindu-American community like nothing else before. The outrage at being labeled “casteist” was palpable among the diaspora and like a wounded animal, the Hindu community fought with everything at its disposal to have the bill vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom. 

Those divisive and hateful attacks on Hindus continue till date. One of my biggest surprises was understanding what is being pushed as “casteist” behavior. This is where it gets alarming!

The narrative has taken on such extreme vitriol, that mere personal lifestyle choices like dietary habits are being looked at through the lens of caste. A prime exhibit is of  faith groups and Indian vegetarians being labeled as “discriminating” against the others labeled lower caste in the US. 

In response to this ludicrous attempt at labeling Indian vegetarians as casteists, a small group of Hindus in California from diverse backgrounds including humanities, technology, business owners, education put together an experiment that was loosely based on Jane Elliott’s experiment “Blue eyes, Brown eyes”. Jane’s experiment showed how bias and prejudice has a direct negative impact on the cohesiveness of society.

The experiment involved an adult playing the part of a teacher, who was tasked with creating false divisions between young unsuspecting students. We wanted to see how much effort it took for a person or group to manipulate a neutral or cohesive society by deliberately sowing seeds of division, with the intent of causing strife and animosity. This experiment was to mimic the role of these agenda driven activists, who have been trying to break up the Hindu-American society with false claims of caste discrimination.

The teacher was the only person who had knowledge of the experiment, while the young students had no idea. The only guidance given to the students was to be themselves, and interact normally – which they did.

What came out as a result of the experiment was eye-opening, but not completely surprising. We saw students who were friends just 10 minutes before the experiment, passing rude comments against each other . And they did this simply because they were taken through a segregation process that had one set of students being told that all their problems were due to the other set of students – just like is being done by the so-called anti-caste activists.

Watch this VIDEO, to see for yourself how the experiment played out.

Play Video

This trope of caste discrimination accusations in the US will continue, with activists stretching the facts as they look for media attention to gain popularity and win accolades, under the pretext of advocating for human rights. The media and possibly elected officials could fall prey to the propaganda being disseminated about caste discrimination even though any such proof of discrimination backed by data is missing.

Which is why it’s important for the Hindu-American community to remain vigilant and united against divisive forces and to continue educating our elected officials and the wider American society about the inherent universal value system embedded in the Hindu way of life.

Author bio: Deepak is a California resident who likes to dabble in citizen journalism and blogging. His area of interest is things that affect the Indian diaspora in the US. He is a liberal at heart, a traveler and an amateur photographer.