‘Meltdown!’: Hindu Group in US Opposes California University’s New Policy Against Caste Discrimination

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California State University. — Source: California State University/Facebook

Hindu American Foundation (HAF), with rightwing inclinations calls the move “arbitrary and unnecessary”.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – The addition of caste to its anti-discriminatory policy by the California State University has not gone down well with a section of the Hindu community in the United States as one group, Hindu American Foundation (HAF), with rightwing inclinations calling the move “arbitrary and unnecessary”.

PTI reported that 80 faculty members of the University, which last week became the first university system in the US to come up with such a policy, opposed the announcement in an “urgent” letter to the university administration including State Chancellor and Board of Trustees .

“There are more than 600 Cal State faculty of Indian and South Asian origin who would be rendered vulnerable should the collective bargaining agreement be passed as currently written,” the HAF said in a statement, adding that the policy change would be used to “discriminate against and target only Indian & other South Asian faculty.”

The California State University which boasts of 23 campuses made the addition vis a vis caste to the policy against discrimination after there were complaints of bias by Dalit students of south Asian origin.

NBC news quoted Prem Pariyar, a Dalit Alumnus of CSU, originally from Nepal, saying “I experienced caste discrimination in every sphere of my life”. He claimed that he has had no place to express his frustration when he is targeted with micro-aggressions.

 

The experience affected Periyar so much so that he made it a point to use his efforts to make change at CSU. He joined a network of students and started activism around policy against caste discrimination which led to new addition last week. He has also testified at a senate meeting on discrimination and abuse he faced for being a Dalit.

A 2016 research by Equality Labs, a civil liberty group that advocates from Dalit rights in the US, found that 25% of Dalits have faced verbal or physical abuse based on their castein the country. One in three Dalits reported discrimination during education.

HAF, in its letter, however, said “discrimination on the basis of caste is exceedingly rare”.

On the other hand Equality Labs termed the policy change a “win” as it expressed gratitude to activists, students and faculty for their efforts.

 Journalist Raqeeb Hamid Naik who has been tracking Hindu nationalist groups in the US termed HAF’s response a “Meltdown!” Naik’s investigative reportage has exposed how the Hindu nationalist groups in the US lobby in their favour to make changes in curriculum and use money to influence American politicians.

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