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California accuses Cisco of job discrimination based on Indian employee's caste (reuters.com)
358 points by sahin 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 592 comments

"At Cisco, the unnamed employee reported Iyer to human resources in November 2016 for outing him as a Dalit to colleagues. Iyer allegedly retaliated, but Cisco determined caste discrimination was not illegal and issues continued through 2018, the lawsuit states."

If this is accurate, that's pretty messed up. If a private company, especially one of Cisco's stature knew of any form of harassment and then decided that this type of harassment is fine because its not technically illegal they should be punished. Harassment at work for any reason is never ok, work should be a space where you are judged on your productivity level and attitude, not on the place of birth of your ancestors.

From what a friend has said to me, the situation is fairly similar to the discrimination people of colour face (slavery, jim crow, segregation, economic mobility, interracial marriage, lynchings, human right violations) and what native americans face (land rights, economic mobility, cultural assimilation and destruction) ... except this is in the asian context with added peculiarities. The distinction between the classes is made by the last name and skin colour like how you would discriminate between italian, spanish, irish, german, danish ... on the basis of their name as people look similiar despite all of them being clubbed under "white" and "christian".

On paper discrimination shouldn't happen but IRL it does everywhere.

It doesn't say it was fine - nor that it wasn't reprimanded or that they weren't told to stop. ...only that it ultimately continued anyway.

We shouldn't jump to conclusions. If it went to legal, I would venture to guess that people were at least told to cut that shit out. Legal isn't very tolerant of these things because they know there's liability exposure even if it's not illegal.

Readers who are not from Indian subcontinent may find this difficult to understand or beleive, let me throw some context.

Indian caste system is probably the longest running abuse,racism, human rights violation in the human history. Even,now in some parts of the country people from lowest caste are made to carry human waste on their head[0].

After independence,thanks to rights offered by constitution & reservation by governments to repent the sins; many from lower caste were able to get educated.

Inequality is often perpertraited by people at the top of the food chain and in the case of caste system its been Brahmins and those acknowledged by them. Brahmin patriarchy is the deep state in India, do a quick search about top CEOs in India, Majority of Company auditors are Brahmins so the company/tax laws are often dictated by them (I just stated one example of brahmin patriarchy w.r.t context of the article).

Ask the lower caste team members of any large IT company in India e.g. TCS, Infosys led by a Brahmin manager(who is not an atheist); you'll hear about discrimination they face.

At the same time, Ex.Brahmins (Brahmins who have denounced their affiliation to caste system) have been one of the top voices in support of human rights & equality this includes freedom fighters, newspaper publishers, several leading luminaries, economists, Nobel laureates and top scientists who have left India for good.


> Ask the lower caste team members of any large IT company in India e.g. TCS, Infosys led by a Brahmin manager(who is not an atheist); you'll hear about discrimination they face.

Is the religious component that large? I'd assume that it's simple ingroup/outgroup, like most discrimination.

You don't need to believe that your group is special by divine ruling, you just need to believe that you'll get a better personal outcome if you strengthen people that are like you, as they'll hopefully do the same for you.

Good question, this needs dwelling deep into the ideology of caste system.

1. Like many other religion, basis of caste system in Hinduism is that lower caste people came from supposedly less important organ & upper caste people came from more important organs.

2. People from upper caste perform cushy jobs, have access to education and all amenities. People from lower caste literally have to carry shit of upper caste people on their head. Obviously caste is hereditory!

Now any tell that to anyone who says 'Hinduism is not a religion', they would say 'Caste system was not hereditory, but way of job management'; but they will have no answer or tell a lame excuse when you ask them "Why caste attrocity exists till date, would you help uprooting caste system and make it illegal? or better will you let your son/daughter marry a lower caste person?"

And there are people who staunchly believe in the caste system as the core of their belief system, so much so that honor killings happen even in western countries by people of Indian/Subcontinent origin; Yes honor killings happen in India almost every other day.

So yeah, casteism cannot be taken apart from religion/ideology.

> Brahmin patriarchy is the deep state in India, do a quick search about top CEOs in India, Majority of Company auditors are Brahmins so the company/tax laws are often dictated by them

So which company/tax laws are anti Dalit? The only law about casteism is ridiculously anti Non-Dalit. They can jail anyone with just a complaint, no proofs are required. You have to fight in the court to get out of jail, not go in the jail.

>You have to fight in the court to get out of jail, not go in the jail.

Do you mean that jail where two-third of prisoners are Dalits, tribals and from Other Backward Classes (OBCs), 19% are Muslims?[0]

Or are you talking about the prison/judicial system which is statistically proven to be Brahminical[1].



No idea, I know for a fact though that no laws for upper castes to jail anyone in a lower caste without fighting in courts first.

You are painting only one sided picture and that's obvious from username you have chosen.

India has 1bn+ people, you can't generalize this. There are bunch of Brahmin people at higher level who actively work to uplift others and they do this without being atheist. There are 12 types of beliefs defined in Indian spirituality, it's not binary as in atheist vs believer.

Also, food for thought - are all Brahmins in India are still privileged to earn status of CEOs and managers? The amount of caste based reservation in education to jobs - it's hard for Brahmins to get a seat in college or take a job nowadays, still if these people are on top - do you think it's only some privilege? You are wrong here.

Please provide both the sides on platforms like HN or some brahmins in india will have to have their own version of BLM - "Brahmin Lives Matter"

> India has 1bn+ people, you can't generalize this.

Have you seen the matrimonial ads in India?

Why am I getting a feeling that you are a Brahmin and you are not happy that people from lower castes have their own quotas in govt jobs/education.

may be the reason why you are getting this feeling is that racist instinct.

and no, I'm not unhappy for the said reason. If you read my comment properly, I was pointing out the fact that mentioning only one side of the story, because one fell victim to the caste system, on a forum like HN is wrong as it provides very different picture. Most of the people reading this have no clue what it's like. Be responsible.

>because one fell victim to the caste system

[0] Is just the caste violence, even for that data is not complete[1].

Should we talk about discrimination then?



Why are you using a throwaway account, are you ashamed to admit that upper castes in India have subjugated lower castes or are you just ashamed that everyone else on HN now knows about India's dirty laundry?

Shame is good, it will help you change.


> Why am I getting a feeling that you are a Brahmin is this NOT caste discrimination? 'feel' a person to be a brahmin and victimize ?

As a former employee of Cisco and having been in the Silicon Valley for 10+ years, I can say that I have witnessed extreme casteism and nepotism in Cisco. There was a saying I heard a few years back that one of the criteria to get hired in one of the Cisco guaranteed acquisition spinoffs is that you wear a thread (called Janeu - worn by high caste Hindus over their shoulder and hidden inside shirt). If there is one company in the valley where HR is totally absent and managers form a clique to abuse employees, it is Cisco. It is polluting the entire valley with its casteism and also by exporting its incompetent managers to other companies.

As far as I understand, you’re supposed to wear that thread in a way that would keep it hidden when wearing normal work attire. If that’s so, how would others know you had one? Would you secretly flash them at each other like a gang symbol?

The thought of middle aged Indian dudes flashing white threads at each other just made my day, thank you

I have seen some Indians when they are peeing they will first pull the thread over their ears and then pee, after they wash their hands they will put back the thread under their shirt.

that thread is bit long to carry and comes in between when you sit to take a dump in Indian style (squatting style). Hence it's suggested to put it on left ear to keep it up.

If anyone interested in knowing more about this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanayana

I am an Indian and have been in US for many years. There is one thing I have noticed among brahmins, during their Naturalization process many of them change their last names to Iyer or Iyengar (two sects of Brahmins).

I am referring to guys from the southern part of India where I am from. Its not a common practice there.

My interpretation of this is these folks have a perceived sense of superiority feeling about their caste and having it in the last name is a form of boasting.

In South India there has been a social movement in the last few decades to allocate quotas for "lower" caste members in universities and govt jobs to stop the domination of brahmins (merits, or lack there of, of the quota system is whole different topic). So having Iyer or Iyergar as last name would be frowned upon/judged endlessly there. May be they feel a sense of freedom here in US that prompts this behavior.

The quota system is actually called 'reservation' and it's not specific to South India.


Though the percentage of the seats reserved varies with each state.

the atrocity is prevalent in the entire nation?!

The social movement started several years ago. Its called the quota system and it has been enforced at various levels of government jobs and education. People just get promoted with no regard to their actual performance in all kinds of government jobs. This type of reservation on the basis of caste is regressive. What about someone who is supposedly from a "higher" caste but is still not economically well-off. Such people have to work much harder than their counterparts who receive concessions on their performance. Once you are in the university this doesn't stop. For most government universities the fees are different for people from reserved, non-reserved categories - meaning that someone from a poor background but with "higher" caste label has to work harder for opportunities for education and also has to bear a financial burden once you cross these hurdles. Think from the perspective of a middle class "higher" caste member of society - why should someone like that bear the high tax burden of the country when their kids won't receive much of the benefits. Any talk of scaling back this historical policy screw-up (Mandal comission report / VP Singh government) is vehemently put down. Just look up how the previous government reacted when doctors protested against the extension of caste-based reservation to postgraduate medical education. This is not even partisan. Even in current government one politician said something similar in very derogatory terms leading to him losing in the elections. Reservation should be granted on the basis of economic condition only because the point is economic upliftment. There should be policy that grants economic parity but I don't think the country has resources for satiating revenge.

Fair points. I don't have historical data, but my observation is that the issue of brahmins controlling/dominating lot of sectors was a real problem at some point and the reservation system was a populist response that did provide some benefit for oppressed castes, but created a whole bunch of other problems and unintended consequences. And its still remains such a hot button populist issue no political party would dare implementing the required reforms. The unintended consequence is the emigration of a lot of people from the "higher" castes. I guess its hard to say if it had any material impact on India's progress but the "higher" caste population that doesn't have the means/resources to emigrate is put in a real difficult situation.

iyer or iyengar is their traditional surname probably. same way as a family name in the US. why discriminate against iyers because they want to have a surname of their choice? most folks would be proud of their surnames. Is there a community that feels horrible about their surname?

> Is there a community that feels horrible about their surname?

Yes, dalits. Read the rest of the comments to understand why.

No, these are not the traditional surnames. What I am referring to is a practice of legally changing the last name (typically father's or grand father's name) to Iyer or Iyengar. To me its a clear on your face statement that the person belongs to that caste and wants to flaunt it.

I am someone who was born a hindu dalit and I am so ashamed of sharing that identity of mine that I am posting anonymously. For someone wondering what the Hindu caste system is, here is a primer.

Hindus believe that humans are like dogs and they have a breed. So a person who is born in a higher caste is of a better breed than a person born in a lower caste. Numerous genetic studies have found no significant difference amongst Indian castes. The moment an upper caste person realizes that you are a lower caste, you will be made fun of and ridiculed. Caste is also tied to your last name, so when a Hindu person says his full name he is telling his First name and his Caste. Which is why brahmins will be the first ones in a group to say their full name, while dalits will only meekly say their first name. The entire religion and caste system was built to make people feel shameful of their last name. In fact, some last names of lower castes are commonly used as abuses by upper caste.

It is the worst form of discrimination known to man and it's horrible how hindu society openly supports and promotes it. While slavery lasted only for a couple of hundred years, caste system has been going on for millennia. Dalit atrocities are common in India even today and everyday 10s of lower castes dalits are raped, killed , tortured and humiliated just because they were born a lower caste Hindu. Upper caste hindu managers openly look down on lower caste hindus, even in the US , and will discriminate against them. Caste shame is also inbuilt in a lot of Dalit hindus and they themselves feel embarrassed while even saying their full name.

One of the best things I did after coming to this country was to convert to christianity and a few of my dalit hindu friends have done too. Upper caste hindus have no problem seeing a converted christian as their equal, but they would still regard a hindu dalit as inferior. Hinduism has a huge conversion problem even in India, and it is the fastest shrinking religion in the world.

I have been living in the western hemisphere for the past decade or so, and it bothers me that other Indians to this day try to find my caste and try to argue that their caste is superior than mine. One of the reasons I avoid making Indian friends abroad. I have a feeling many of these Indians living in the west for a good amount of time have much narrower minds than most Indians living in India these days.

I cannot agree more. I feel the folks living in cities in india are much more broad minded than indians who have migrated to US long time.

Tell them that there is nothing superior about misleading people using pseudo science such as astrology.

Could you tell me where (city) and when did this happen? Not denying caste-based discrimination but the society around me is also fairly 'hindu' and I have never seen them promoting casteism.

A number of people won't do anything to "promote" casteism in public. They do behave in that fashion though.

Yes. Caste-based arranged marriages could be one example depending on how one sees it.

> Numerous genetic studies have found no significant difference amongst Indian castes.

Indian jatis have usually been endogamous for over a thousand years. We’re talking genetic differences as large or larger than between Ashkenazim and Poles here. Less than one in-marriage per generation.

> Genetic Evidence on the Origins of Indian Caste Populations

> The origins and affinities of the ∼1 billion people living on the subcontinent of India have long been contested. This is owing, in part, to the many different waves of immigrants that have influenced the genetic structure of India. In the most recent of these waves, Indo-European-speaking people from West Eurasia entered India from the Northwest and diffused throughout the subcontinent. They purportedly admixed with or displaced indigenous Dravidic-speaking populations. Subsequently they may have established the Hindu caste system and placed themselves primarily in castes of higher rank. To explore the impact of West Eurasians on contemporary Indian caste populations, we compared mtDNA (400 bp of hypervariable region 1 and 14 restriction site polymorphisms) and Y-chromosome (20 biallelic polymorphisms and 5 short tandem repeats) variation in ∼265 males from eight castes of different rank to ∼750 Africans, Asians, Europeans, and other Indians. For maternally inherited mtDNA, each caste is most similar to Asians. However, 20%–30% of Indian mtDNA haplotypes belong to West Eurasian haplogroups, and the frequency of these haplotypes is proportional to caste rank, the highest frequency of West Eurasian haplotypes being found in the upper castes. In contrast, for paternally inherited Y-chromosome variation each caste is more similar to Europeans than to Asians. Moreover, the affinity to Europeans is proportionate to caste rank, the upper castes being most similar to Europeans, particularly East Europeans. These findings are consistent with greater West Eurasian male admixture with castes of higher rank. Nevertheless, the mitochondrial genome and the Y chromosome each represents only a single haploid locus and is more susceptible to large stochastic variation, bottlenecks, and selective sweeps. Thus, to increase the power of our analysis, we assayed 40 independent, biparentally inherited autosomal loci (1 LINE-1 and 39 Alu elements) in all of the caste and continental populations (∼600 individuals). Analysis of these data demonstrated that the upper castes have a higher affinity to Europeans than to Asians, and the upper castes are significantly more similar to Europeans than are the lower castes. Collectively, all five datasets show a trend toward upper castes being more similar to Europeans, whereas lower castes are more similar to Asians. We conclude that Indian castes are most likely to be of proto-Asian origin with West Eurasian admixture resulting in rank-related and sex-specific differences in the genetic affinities of castes to Asians and Europeans.



Please don't take HN threads further into religious flamewar. If you have corrective information, that's great, but provide it neutrally.


Did you even open the link I posted, dont accuse blindly

Lots of unchecked rampant generalizing and evidence-free racism from new accounts in this thread towards Hindus and Indians.

So now anecdotes spilling vitriol are allowed?

No, they’re never allowed. If you see any feel free to flag it appropriately, although please do try to presume good faith where possible.

Of course not. But what are the posts you're referring to? As far as I can tell, most of the discussion in this thread is by Indians, Indian expats, and people of Indian background, sharing their experiences. But I haven't read the entire thread.

How about this one? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23697939

Replace Hindus/Muslims and Casteism/Terrorism and would you allow this if someone claims they are Muslim.

I know there are contentious issues in this thread, with people naturally falling on both sides, and I am too ignorant of Indian society to know what all the lines are. But I don't read that comment the same way that you do. To me it's primarily a report of the commenter's experience as a dalit, and a very interesting report actually. I suppose it includes some phrases that, in a different context, would cross the line and deserve moderation replies, but the context matters a lot. I don't think "anecdotes spilling vitriol" is a fair description.

I totally see your point.

> To me it's primarily a report of the commenter's experience as a dalit, and a very interesting report actually.

The generalization without evidence is the problem. We should not give into false generalizations just because they are "interesting." This is the kind of thing over time leads to things like "All Xs are bad."

My point is that generalizations (false, true) of groups tend to incite emotion that end up dragging things down.

Appreciate the response here and your moderation.

Remnants of Hinduism. These incidents do happen, but they are rare and almost non-existent compared to Hinduism. Churches openly hold discussions on how all humans are equal.Also Jesus was born in a poor family, which would have made him a lower caste hindu if he was born in India

If caste is beyond religion in India, then why did Ambedkar leave Hinduism and urge all of his followers to do so.

Can you tell me one other religion which has the concept of caste in religious scriptures?

> Churches openly hold discussions on how all humans are equal.

That's not exclusive to Christianity. Universal equality is a basic tenet of Hinduism (including non violence towards all living things not just humans). I will not get into a debate of what is "Hinduism". I also don't disagree that some people do face a lot of discrimination. Sadly, the old generation needs to die off for this stuff to be behind us.

> Can you tell me one other religion which has the concept of caste in religious scriptures?

They may not be having caste-based discrimination but they do have other forms of discrimination. That's why you have terms like heathens, heretics and kafirs.

While I agree that Hindus have more of this caste-based discrimination, a simple search shows that it's not exactly uncommon in other religions in India.




Funny you mention heathens, heretics and kafirs. All of these are people who are non-believers in their corresponding religions. Dalits are actually believers in Hinduism. No other religion in the world discriminates against the very people who chose to adopt it, except Hinduism.

I'll reiterate, it's very rare in other religions and uncommon. Mostly remnants of Hinduism. But ask an average muslim or a christian his caste and he will say that he doesn't have one.

> But ask an average muslim or a christian his caste and he will say that he doesn't have one.

Aren't there Shia/Sunni divisions and even centuries long wars?

Not exactly castes, but probably worse.


Also see:


It’s the same a catholic and Protestant.

Those terms do mean non-believer but they are also applied to followers with slightly different beliefs. Consider protestants, shias, ahmadiyas etc.

> But ask an average muslim or a christian his caste and he will say that he doesn't have one.

Almost 80% population of India is Hindu. It's obvious that relatively less number of muslims and even less number of christians are gonna talk about caste.

“Cisco determined caste discrimination was not illegal”

Holy shit if there was ever a red flag on an employer and their HR it’s this.


“We have determined that whilst we pay lip service to getting rid of good ole US style bullying and discrimination we are ok with non-US people bullying and discriminating against each other in their own cultural way as long as it doesn’t break the US law.”

I can add Cisco to a company I’d never work for.

As a Brahmin (the highest of the caste system) I think the whole caste system is stupid.

This is one of those things that my parents tried to enforce on to me, but it didn't work, and if/when I have children they will be taught to consider themselves not Brahmin (because my wife isn't even Indian).

Thankfully I grew up with the Western world schooling system where equality is continually preached. When I was old enough to think for myself, I realized I cannot be better than anyone else just because of birth. In the context of BLM, sometimes it is hard to see that our continual strive towards equality is indeed somewhat working. (It just has a very long long way to go.)

>At Cisco, the unnamed employee reported Iyer to human resources in November 2016 for outing him as a Dalit to colleagues. Iyer allegedly retaliated, but Cisco determined caste discrimination was not illegal and issues continued through 2018, the lawsuit states.

I wouldn't expect HR to side with the lower level employee as generally HR groups are there to protect the company.... but I would wonder what their findings were that found it wasn't illegal.

I'm guessing they concluded that the employee's caste is neither race nor national origin.

But I'd expect the state to argue that discrimination against an indian caste is inherently national origin based discrimination since they're unlikely to treat any non-indian as they would a dalit, and even if they did they'd be then discriminating on the national identity of the non-indian (ie, treating non-dalit indians better) OR treating all other indians as bad as they'd treat the dalit indian (unlikely, since Iyer is indian)

> But I'd expect the state to argue that discrimination against an indian caste is inherently national origin based discrimination

That would be stupid. Caste discrimination is pretty obviously not national origin discrimination. But it is race discrimination! Race and caste are identical concepts -- you get them from your parents.

(It is, however, not discrimination against a race that is recognized by American law.)

there is racial discrimination in India on top of caste discrimination. People from the north eastern part of the country look more "asian" than "indian" folks in the south look different and darker, both groups especially Asian looking citizens are heavily discriminated against.

Exactly. It would be like discriminating against black people but only those named after somebody on our (USA's) currency.

This is the buried lede in the article: they didn't deny the allegations, simply determined that it wasn't illegal (!)

Well, retaliation is illegal even if they believed the initial complained wasn’t illegal. Of course, discrimination is bad for businesses and they should have taken action against the managers anyway.

>simply determined that it wasn't illegal (!)

juxtaposing with

>Cisco’s workforce includes thousands of Indian immigrants, most of whom were born Brahmins or other high castes.

well, wolves determined that eating lambs is ok :)

so, mobbing is not illegal in the US?

This didn’t protect the company very well... someone in HR ought to catch the flack on this too.

Discrimination is bad for businesses. Not just if it hits the press, but those employees being discriminated against aren’t going to be as productive as those being encouraged. Fire bad managers. HR works for the company, not middle management.

>Fire bad managers. HR works for the company, not middle management.

HR doesn't have a way of seeing the discrimination happening. The managers say X candidate is good so they get hired and then they get promoted because the managers give them good reviews. HR can't tell if the candidate/employee is actually good because they rely on the managers for that. And it's very dangerous waters for them to start making accusations about discrimination in hiring. Both because it can be seen as targetting the managers based on their race and admitting that the company is discriminatory in hiring.

I also don't know how it was at Cisco, but my first job all the lead developers except for one was Indian. How can you punish them if they're all doing the same thing? You can't exactly fire all your leads and if you punish one you risk them all quitting.

And is it really bad for business? Indians make up a huge part of the IT landscape. If the majority want to discriminate then you can either hire them or the smaller pool of people that don't. Most companies will choose the first. Often they don't even know they're making that choice. They hire one and then that person recruits from their network and is the gatekeeper for other hires. If that person discriminates on caste they will likely hire others that do as well.

HR seems to work as much for the powers to be and the status-quo as they do for the "company". As one German career consultant famously said: "Companies don't have interests, people do. And the most important people for your career are your managers". As much as I hate tjyis statement, for all practical purposes it is true. Very short-sighted, as almost all big business scandals show. But still true.

If I was HR why wouldn't you just fire the manager and move on. I mean whether it was legal or illegal the optics look terrible.

> If I was HR why wouldn't you just fire the manager and move on.

Because HR generally doesn't have arbitrary hiring and firing power, and because their job in most firms is to protect, first, the company bottom line from unacceptable risk of legal liability for employment actions and, second, the company’s management (who presumably are looking out for the bottom line in other ways).

It would seem to me to reduce the risk you fire the manager.

Depends. The manager can always turn around and come after you, and usually managers have more investment put into them so if you look at it from just a numerical perspective it might be worse to do so.

Reducing risks regardless of level isn't HRs job, and something which is neither an explicitly protected category or one which there is case law identifying.as implicitly within the ambit of one of the explicit categories isn't a concern.

Some master-level mental acrobatics I assume? Because, if you work really hard to convince yourself, a caste is neither race (at least for white folks, all castes are Indian aren't they), nor Religion (they are all Hindu, right?) or sex (as long as you don't distinguish between men and women). So everything is fine, and we (HR), don't have to do anything, case closed, back to lunch.

Happy to see the thing blowing up, so.

EDIT: Fixed Hindi to Hindu

Nit: Hindi is a language, a Hindu is a person who practices Hinduism

Thanks! I knew there had to be something wrong in there!

I am an Indian and this is one of the reasons I didn't move to US (among other reasons).

My own brother is part of an Indian clique, which is, believe it or not exclusive only to members of our own caste. He has been living in US for almost 20 years and all his friends are from our own caste.

It bothers me that Indians in US follow all these customs and superstitions blindly after being so educated and having travelled the world. But then moving to California doesn't mean travelling the world of course.

Maybe I misunderstood you, but moving in USA just to have most or all the friends from your own country is not emigrating, it moving part of India in US. It is usually expected that when you emigrate you blend in with the country where you emigrated, bringing with you cultural diversity, not creating ethnic bubbles.

> but Cisco determined caste discrimination was not illegal and issues continued through 2018

How this shit is legal.

To give you a concise answer, USA Federal law only prohibits discrimination based on the following characteristics:

Race. Color. Religion or creed. National origin or ancestry. Sex. Age. Physical or mental disability. Veteran status. Genetic information. Citizenship.

Anything else you can think of is a legal reason to discriminate

you could argue that caste, is a combination of color+religion+origin/ancestry combo... it has a racial + religion + ancestry undertone.... i.e. it is something you are 'born into'.

Sure. But maybe to complex for most people. And more often than not, people seem to be quite happy with excuses to not do anything.

I would say caste is ancestry based discrimination

But not national ancestry, which is what is protected.

I remember HR training circa 2010 specifically taught me that I could discriminate individuals based on their Sign of the Zodiac as that was not a protected area.

Moreso, it's not yet illegal because the problem is an imported one entirely.

Calm down with your cultural imperialism. /s

Seriously though, would something as foreign to US be a protected class?

People have tried to bring caste politics into Britain and failed miserably.

The intent is not social justice, but to splinter the Indian community in the US by legalising divisions and forcing them to declare it in their documents.

As a child growing up in south India where we do not have caste names, I became caste conscious only in high school. Friends and class mates, some of them from wealthy, powerful and privileged families would point out how all they need was a B grade to get in a college of their choices. Whereas I may not even if I got all As.

It is not that I come from a "high caste", my ancestors were refuges of islamic invasion and were subsistence farmers. It is just that one needs the political clout to be classified as a backward caste to enjoy the many benefits of being classified as one including college admission, scholarships and government jobs.

In hindsight I am happy that I made it without reservation, because I do feel less like a free loader.

Ironically, my parents did give me a first name popular among brahmins and in hindsight I do see why some Christian teachers might have been especially harsh on me.

Stop promoting hate & divisions, especially if you are in a position of power.

It sounds like cisco found discrimination but decided that it wasn't technically illegal and therefore to let it continue. Whether they end up being correct on the legality, that's very shitty behaviour.

As a cisgender hetherosexual male of European descent (that's apex privilege tier in case it's not obvious) I can't help notice that the things that keep the Indian caste system alive are Brahmins opining against it at every opportunity while prepending their statements with 'As a Brahmin...' and the fact that promoting Brahmins makes sense for many companies with significant Hindu workforce because other castes naturally defer to their authority and in many cases this is pretty much all you want from a line/middle manager.

On a not totally unrelated note, the quota for scheduled caste (SC)/scheduled tribes (ST) in India has had the unintended effect of discriminatory behaviour towards them by non-SC/ST. E.g. if the cut-off marks for getting admission in a college course come out to be 165 for non-SC/ST category and 135 for SC/ST (depending on the no. of seats/no. of candidates/ranking etc), the non-SC/ST applicant who got 150 and didn't make it, isn't going to super happy that an SC/ST applicant who got 140 marks got into the same course. This results in resentment of SC/ST students/applicants/workers who have availed the quota system for courses/jobs etc.

Further, the fact that such a quota system was supposed to be for a fixed/limited period for upliftment of such groups, has been renewed again and again for vote-bank politics and that has caused even more acrimony. This has nicely played into the politicians' dream of dividing people into clusters that they can manipulate.

As an American I never really understood how bad the caste system was until I went to an Indian restaurant and arrived a few minutes before it opened for dinner.

The owner, an Indian gentlemen, invited me into the restaurant rather than making me wait until it opened. He was exceedingly polite and even offered me a complimentary cup of tea while I waited for the restaurant to open.

Then he barked something in an Indian language (I would presume Hindi but I don't know there are a lot of languages spoken in India) and a small man who looked older than he probably is came out of the kitchen with the tea for us.

He would not look us in the eye. He had only a few teeth.

I didn't realize until after I left the restaurant that the Indian family who owned the restaurant probably brought their lower caste servants from India with them to labor at the restaurant.

The whole thing made me feel terrible and I haven't been back to the restaurant since.

> I didn't realize until after I left the restaurant that the Indian family who owned the restaurant probably brought their lower caste servants from India with them to labor at the restaurant.

Are you sure what you saw was caste discrimination? It may have been a person taking advantage of an illegal immigrant, something that several people and companies in the US are accused of every year.

Report them.

I thought about it, but I am not sure what I would report them for.

For example, in the US you can legally bring your unpaid servants to the US on a B-1 visa.

Conversely, if he is a paid employee and legally migrated with the family then there is nothing to be done about it.

Maybe this should also reveal why impactful innovations don't occur much in India - where the majority of the population (~97%) is classified as 'untouchables', 'dalits', 'lower caste', 'most backward class', 'backward class', 'other backward class' and treated badly and discriminated - no wonder the large population in India is busy dealing with their socio-economic condition rather than freeing up their mental bandwidth to innovate on socially impactful ideas!

From India, working in software product companies since late nineties. My experience all in India, other than couple of years in USA very early. Have worked in companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon etc in India.

To be honest I'm amazed at all the top level comments around caste, surname etc.! In my career never came across such situations.

At places like Microsoft, Amazon etc the promotions and perf eval brutally gets fought over during calibrations time. All in open, one manager against another, supported by data - who shipped what, how well, who could have done better, and so on. The last thing one would bring about is 'caste', 'surname' etc., even whiff of it would have pulled down the managers among their peers and their managers (typically group head), before even reaching to HR.

I'm not sure what kind of companies all these people worked at. Just so that HN readers does not get a skewed view - in my two decade plus experience I did not see any evidence AT ALL in those FANG+M companies and also do not hear in startups from my friends.

This is misinformation. in india when you ain't growing you start playing victim card in order to gain more attention. this isn't a news. this is just an internal fighting.

British Caste System isn't active in india https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrTUp2mKbWs

That is simply untrue my friend. I haven't watched what you have shared yet - sure some people might play victim card when they can't grow - but to dismiss the plight of millions of people is unwise.

I am ashamed that a few bad people give a bad name to us all. It reinforces the cast divide and enables a section to trumpet about the bad Indian culture or bad Hindu.

It's despicable and I fail to understand how educated and technical people can still practice something so inhuman.

To the people saying nothing has changed in India, no, so so much has changed, there are many more intercaste marriages and anecdotal but like 50% of marriage news I hear are all intercaste. Casteism is on a decline as far as I can tell. The young generation seems to care about these things.

Also people saying Indian parents don't allow to marry anyone with a lower caste are being selective. Indian parents don't allow to marry anyone outside their "own" caste whether they are higher or lower, practised by both "lower" and "upper" caste parents.

How many of the 50% of your anecdotal data is brahmins/upper-castes marrying dalits?

Have your heard of honour killings where a dalit family killing the upper caste bride or groom?

Don't really know any brahmins, my friend circle has Dalits and other upper castes. My sister's friends have examples of Brahmin-Dalit marriages, I know Dalit-Dalit, Dalit-Non Dalit marriages. All are economically well off whether Dalit or non Dalit and I get to discuss this online only. We do have discussions about reservation and it's effects however. My Dalit friend chose to fight UPSC in general category as a matter of pride and principal, he didn't want a freebie.

Hindu upper caste are unnecessarily oppressed. the victim is not named. Let us consider this fair. Assume that the lawsuit is frivolous, then how is it fair to name the accused. Here accused would be the victim. California has not acted fairly.

Caste is a complex subject, the word itself is imported from Portuguese and the system itself is a copy of the European system - Royalty, Clergy, Merchant, Landlords, Artisans, peasants/labourers.

There is nothing "Indian" about the caste system, certainly nothing to do with "Hinduism" where even rocks, tree, animals are considered divine.

The modern caste theory was synthesised by British scholar by putting together two separate ideas that existed in the Indian culture.

"Varna" - found in one of many law books called manu-smrithi used by some kingdoms at some point in time. It postulates society and a nation's strength lies in the four pillars of society based on the type of powers and responsibility a person has based on where he/she fell, nowhere does it make the claim that it is by birth. I have never known anyone who has actually read the Manu-smrithi nor have I even seen one, so much for the theoretical indulgence.

And it is very practical and fair in that harsh laws apply to people of power like royalty, clergy, teachers or landowner for crimes committed.

The "jatti" on the other hand evolves naturally based on the work passed on from father-son and communities based on profession, marriage. In fact, different jetties do have their own temples, with their own priests and gods related to their profession. This is in strong contrast to the Church that monopolised god.

Jatti is strong among people who still live in traditional rural settings still following professions passed on from father to son. So ironically jatti is extremely relevant among the poor and weaker sections.

So who benefits from promoting casteism today?

- Politicians who can divide and rule

- Christian evangelists who have done similar things around the world like in Rwanda

- The elitist among the different castes who either benefit from reservations, exclusivity, politics or as bargaining chips

- Even for people who do not care about caste, will find it exceedingly difficult to find a partner for marriage outside their community network

> lawsuit found that 67% of Dalits surveyed felt treated unfairly at their U.S. workplaces.

I'm more surprised 67% of Dalits would have coworkers knowing their caste. Can someone give context on how this happens?

Caste is not just some arbitrary marker. It dictates quiet a few things in your life - like what dialect you speak, your diet, who you marry, which part of the city/town/village you hail from, and even your politics. So for an Indian, identifying someone's caste is pretty easy.

Which gives me pause. German speaking countries have a wide range of dialects, even regional. I am able to tell a guy from Vienna from someone from Tyrol. Upper Bavaria from Lower Bavaria, Berlin from Hamburg. There are older people who can tell from Bavarian county and which mountain valley you are. The latter becoming more difficult, so, with people moving around. Just imagining to use these differences to discriminate people gives me the chills, because it would so damn easy to do. And also, at least superficially, maybe even legal.

You missed names. That’s a huge indicator unless someone changed their names.

If you're raised in India, it is relatively easy to determine someone's general (varna) caste and specific (jati) caste from their familial name(s) and/or physical appearance. You can pick these things up by osmosis from adults (my case), through being taught, or simply through caste-influenced culture. It's quite complicated, and I'm not an expert. You don't even have to be Hindu to be a part of the caste system - Muslims and Christians may retain a familial name that is a marker of caste; in some cases, even without a name as a marker someone who knows of your particular community may be able to tell what caste a non-Hindu is simply by knowing what community you're from and being able to tell what caste that community is historically.

> it is relatively easy to determine someone's general (varna) caste and specific (jati) caste from their familial name(s) and/or physical appearance.

Is this because people from a specific caste tend to concentrate in a specific geographic region?

I've learned as a Westerner that there's no model I've grown up with that's really the best for making sense of India as someone who wasn't born there. What makes the most sense to me is what an Indian colleague told me - "think of it as the United States of Europe -- that many languages, that much diversity, that much complexity and problems."

No, not geographic. Unlike ethnicity or color, the caste system is racial discrimination based on profession.

In old Indian kingdoms, there were warriors, priests, teachers, business people, janitors etc. The caste system basically puts a social value on each of these with priests (who were also teachers) being at the top.

The problem is, you couldn't just choose to be a priest.. or a warrior.. or a janitor. You were born into the profession. You were a janitor because your father was a janitor and his father before him.

Discriminating based on caste for the purposes of education, work, government services, etc.. has been outlawed in the Indian constitution since 1948. It still happens, because people are people, but less so with each generation.

Have you managed to figure out what kinds of things you do to pick out caste, or is it all subconscious? I ask because I have literally no idea how you’d tell; I’ll have to ask my parents (born and raised in India) if they can because if they do have that ability I’ve certainly never figured it out. Then again, the only reason I hear them talking about someone’s caste is if that person ran into issues because of it…

It is also relatively very wrong to "determine" someone's cast by their looks. You can say you guessed it, but you should stop short of that probably.

Personally, I would engaging with the caste system for any purpose other than to destroy it is very wrong. I've seen plenty of upper-caste people assume someone's caste based on their appearance. They may have been wrong, but I fail to see how that is relevant, as I'm not justifying or explaining, just describing. If your particular objection is to the word 'determine', then I think we're getting hopelessly bogged down in semantics.

Its with the names. The caste names are mostly attached as surnames. Its pretty easy to identify and discriminate based on that.

Its similar to black people having white sounding to avoid being skipped over while applying for jobs.

Names, partly, but again, often comes back to skin color. Darker -> lower caste

They usually have different surnames or they might have volunteered that information to their coworkers.

How long do you think it would take, as an American, to figure out of someone is from New York, Boston, or Alabama? You'd know practically the moment they opened their mouth.

Yeah, it might take you longer to figure out if someone was from Florida or California, but that would probably come out relatively quickly in how they talk about beaches.

Humans group and identify others (often wrongly) really quickly.

I don’t think this is a great comparison. Since I’m American, I’m going to pick something else that would be a bit more foreign: I can “tell” if a person is Scottish or Irish from their accent, but I have absolutely no idea how to know if someone is of a certain caste. I could meet up with a carbon copy of myself and not be able to discern their caste because I have zero knowledge of why I “look like” the one I belong to.

I don’t understand. If “caste” is something specific to country of India, and if it is not explicitly listed in US law; can the defendant just claim it to be a more generalized version discrimination? It’s like going to a barber shop and they won’t cut your hair because they discriminate based on your accent. It’s discrimination regardless even though it’s not explicitly listed in the law. As far as the US law is concerned, caste system of India is completely arbitrary just like the accent or the color of your clothes or whatever.

US laws typically don’t have a blanket ban on “discrimination” in general, but rather ban discrimination based on explicitly listed characteristics. In this case, they’re accusing Cisco of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin”.

So you’re actually fully allowed to discriminate based on the color of someone’s clothes, although probably not accent since it could be considered a proxy for race or national origin.

> US laws typically don’t have a blanket ban on “discrimination” in general

Discrimination happens any time a choice is made. When we hire one person because we think they'll do a better job or avoid someone because they lack skills we need, we're not hiring indiscriminately -- i.e. we discriminate. Sometimes the criteria make sense and other times they don't.

Seems odd that this is filed in federal court rather than state. The Unruh civil rights act is broader, and the CA supreme court has ruled that its enumerated characteristics are "illustrative rather than restrictive".

Caste is another term for race. Both terms are not terms that designate bioligical properties of a person but social grouping based on perceived social differences (e.g.: even if your skin is lighter than some white people, having 1/8th black ancestory will get you classified as black, while actual african americans with wealthy had become "honorary white").

Like others have said, you can't say "I won't hire you because you have red hair" either for example. If I make up the practical equivalent of a race and arbitrarily deny jobs to people because of it, that violates the equal employment opportunity law. If I deny jobs because of skin melanin content, regardless of sociap definitins if race, the fact that I don't call it race does not change the fact that it is "race" , a classification of humans that identifies behavioral,physiolgical and intellectual traits based on membership to a unique genetic ancestory.

Accent and color of your cloth are not bioligical hereditary properties.

> Caste is another term for race. Both terms are not terms that designate bioligical properties...

Caste is based on profession.

Isn't it the other way where profession is based on the caste you are born into? You make it sound like a child born into a lower caste can choose a profession that lets them join a higher caste. It's not different than american back slaves being born into slavery, if you call slavery a profession or jim crow era legal segregation limiting jobs based on race.

> You make it sound like a child born into a lower caste can choose a profession that lets them join a higher caste.

That's not anywhere in what I wrote.

*Was based on profession.

No it still is. It's just not based on YOUR profession that YOU are doing NOW.

Did you catch this part of the article:

> U.S. employment law does not specifically bar caste-based discrimination, but California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing contends in the lawsuit that the Hindu faith’s lingering caste system is based on protected classes such as religion.

Or are you wondering if such a reclassification will be allowed? I can certainly see it being so.

Yea exactly, I read that which led me to comment here - I am further questioning that if it is not explicitly listed like a billion other things, what is the approach a defendant can take?

We saw cases like this (although not for employment per se) but for service industry in this landmark case: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masterpiece_Cakeshop_v._Colora...

I guess this would be a form of religious discrimination, because it's discrimination based on religious beliefs.

That makes sense. I am curious how would the court respond to discrimination based on, say, tattoos on their forehead? Extreme example to make a point.

Not the same thing, if you chose to be a member of caste or it had nothing to do with your anceatory then your comparison would hold true. But even if you said "curly haired people can't work here" that would be racial descrimination. The term race can mean different things in different cultures but the reasonable person's understanding would be ancestoral grouping of people based on physiological characteristic such as skin color.

Consider how east asians can sometimes have skin whiter than scandanavians but their race is still asian. Or how brown skinned southern europeans can be white while similarly skin-toned north africans are excluded from whiteness.

That would be solidly legal, I'd guess. At least under federal law. Discrimination is just the preference of one thing over another. It is not illegal. What is illegal is racial, religious, sex, etc. discrimination.

I once had a western educated (self confessed Brahmin) guy say that India and Pakistan were culturally identical. Now there's some comments here about converting to Christianity as an attractive alternative, but what about Islam? Could the success of Islam in certain places in the Indian subcontinent have been driven by the caste system? Does conversion to Islam involve a change of name? Does the caste system operate in muslim majority Pakistan for example?

Caste system is pervasive in India. It invades almost every religion in India over time. As an example, here’s what I wrote in another response.

This Jati is so pervasive in India that even the non-Hindu religions such as Sikhism and “Lingayat” which were explicitly formed to be away from the Hindu caste system couldn’t escape it. So we now have a few dozen Jati within Sikhism and Lingayats with an overly of Verna.

How about Islam?

India has that covered too. Muslim caste structure is a thing, though not as apparent.

I can’t think of a religion that doesn’t have this structure in India. Maybe Parsee?

Oracle also reported similar incident https://archive.vn/XTZ5f

Caste matters everywhere: schools, jobs or life at large in India https://archive.vn/tj8tI

And Casteism is worse than Racism;

Casteism = Racism + Slavery https://archive.vn/mPsqz

Education/Employment was 100% 'reserved' to Brahmin for 2000+ years as per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigveda in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Indian_history

I am not surprised, I have a friend of mine working for a large financial services company in north america, he was appreciative of the inclusive environment and work culture, but in the same conversation used racist slurs and derogatory language for people from India, it just baffles me how people can compartmentalize hate for one group of peoples and appreciate inclusive/liberal views for themselves.

Lower-Upper caste is a misnomer, when the British tried to segregate jattis (communities) into Varna many protested. You could be a king, a priest or a landowner within your own jatti or community.

The colonialist did the same in Africa, dividing different communities into "tribes". There is no lower tribe or upper tribe.

If not for reservation (affirmative action), no one would call themselves a lower caste.

Having worked with so many people from the Sub Continent - as many of us have - I find it really, really odd out none of this seems to escape the bubble. It's like the rest of us are very unaware of this deeply 'specific' and pervasive issue.

In some ways, it's our ignorance, in other ways, it's really quite mysterious.

This happens around the world. I previously worked closely with teams in India and someone told me that there's secret lineage books that track every born Indian so that higher castes can identify lower castes.

Explained a lot cause many of those promoted, didn't deserve it as much as others, who were probably in lower castes.

And this is why in 1932 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communal_Award British recommended a separate country to Lower castes where Upper caste/Brahmin/Bania/Kshatriya can live on a Visa;

It's because American companies weed out American biases (sex, gender, race) in management. When it comes to foreign-born employees with their own biases HR is silent because there are no rules. I think that a better job needs to done here.

> Like other large Silicon Valley employers, Cisco’s workforce includes thousands of Indian immigrants, most of whom were born Brahmins or other high castes.

This seems too important to just throw in unsubstantiated. I have never seen this kind of statistic.

One could probably extrapolate from the statistic mentioned in the article (below). It seems plausible that the US visa system ends up taking in more people of high castes.

>In 2003, only 1.5 percent of Indian immigrants in the United States were Dalits or members of lower castes, according to the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania. More than 90 percent were from high or dominant castes. About 2.5 million people of Indian descent live in the country, including those born here.

It may be surprising or disconcerting to you, but it is an assumption that is usually borne out - I don't have figures for you, so I can't speak to this specific case. It is well documented that access to education, wealth, and most other factors that determine whether an Indian can emigrate to America for a highly-skilled job are extremely skewed in favour of the forward castes.

I was told by a colleague that most Indian folks you meet in tech in the Bay Area are the 1 percenters of India. Is that kind of what you're saying here as well?

They are certainly now, if they are were not before. Mobility like depends on opportunities you get, that starts from your parents social-economic status, the schools you attend, the connections your family has etc if you grew up in a city or a small town.

Caste strongly correlates with this, children of higher caste families tend to be richer or have rich relative, have extended family working in well connected places, have well educated parents and grand parents and have access to better schools.

Nah, more like middle to upper-middle class, with good access to education. 1 percenters are the ones with old family money and successful businesses (which they will inherit). They have no reason to leave the country for a tech job.

The concept of a middle class doesn't really apply particularly well to India in terms of it's use in economics. I have found in my experience that people who refer to themselves as upper middle class (in the Indian context) are usually simply embarrassed to admit that they are members of the upper class, since they don't see themselves as such. Economically, they undoubtedly are.

Edit: Having checked, the annual pretax income required to be in the top 1% of earners in India is 77000 USD.

Top 1% in India is just $77000 pre-tax income per year (5.5 LPA). This is comfortably middle & upper-middle class. I think what you are talking about is top 0.1%

1% is determined by wealth, not income.

Yes. Isn't that obvious? In general, any person from a developing country X, working in the US legally, is likely to be among 1% (not necessarily in terms of wealth but definitely in terms of opportunities, and, barring a few exceptions opportunities are proportional to wealth.) in country X.

The phrase used often is 'caste-class nexus'. I think that's a good way to put it.

The problem is twofold -

1. access to opportunities, and 2. The denial of opportunities to others through socio-economic-psycho-religious conditioning.

These 1 percenters you are referring to have used the latter to gain the status of the former.

Most US immigrants from distant countries are from rich families (not just India).

It generally takes resources to immigrate. Poor classes don't have those resources.

There are, of course, exceptions when a wave of immigration is driven by war or asylum seekers from a country leadership change.

> allowing him to be harassed by two managers because he was from a lower Indian caste than them.

Would be cool if article didn't state as fact that some castes are higher than others and/or that people belong to castes.

how else would you have worded it?

Something like this:

> allowing him to be harassed by two managers which consider him to have a lower status caste

The prejudice should be attributable to the managers, or better, alleged to the accused.

An advertisement to hire Upper caste/Brahmin/Bania/Kshatriya to clean toilets in India https://archive.vn/sJ7nO

Casteism is an Organized Mafia, not Merit which is evident from the fact that 50% Cabinet Ministers in India are Brahmin and 80% Judges in Courts are Brahmin; And Brahmin are just 3% in India;

I happen to Sundar very well for past 20+ years. I very seriously doubt the allegations here and frankly surprised his name was mentioned publicly. That is against the law I would imagine. I hope Cisco covers his legal defense. This feels like a disgruntled employee trying to get back at his former bosses.

While I agree nobody should be discriminated against based upon their national origin, race, caste, gender etc., people need to come to terms with the fact that life is unfair. Some day you are the pigeon, some day you are the statue.

It’s interesting to see how systemic discrimination takes root. I wonder if there’s an encyclopedia identifying the forms of systemic bias.

I worked at a company called UST global where the CEO was a racist South Indian, that hated North Indians. This stuff is totally common.

Question coming from a position of ignorance: how does someone know what caste you’re in if you are applying for a job in the US?

The name gives it away most of the times.

I heard way worse stories than this.

Wish they would investigate Apple as well.

story time?

Didn't the State of California just repeal its workplace anti-discrimination law?

Is this the reason why my Indian colleagues never reveal their last name?


There is an unparalleled desire of humans to feel superior and thus it does not matter we are in which country or company. It comes out of us and intelligence has nothing to do with that.

How does the caste system affect Bollywood?

Patels man ....

This happens all the time, right from when someone joins schooling. In my college, the brahmin domination was easily visible. They would target and harass promising young students from other castes, and make them get into depression. I have simply seen too many people from other castes suffer in my college, these are not any ordinary students, they are really bright and very intelligent ones - their only mistake was being a non-brahmin. And this isn't any ordinary college in India either.

I have heard open statements from brahmin students about their "so called superiority" during college - many of them are not really smart or intelligent, but they were of brahmin caste (assumed superiority). One of the YC funded startups has a person who graduated from the same college - he was a prick who would discriminate purely based on caste.

I was hoping workplace would be more meritocratic, but it turns out Indian Hindus are screwed up from the inside. You can easily validate this for yourself, goto any organization in India, and you can easily see the upper caste domination - majority of the managers and higher ups would be from brahmin caste or "other upper castes".

Brahmins like to project it like, people from other castes are not their equals and since these people from other castes are unable to match them, they are throwing stones at them due to their frustrations.

But this is far from the truth, in many organizations if the truly valuable person for the company isn't from this caste or other "so called higher castes", then they don't get promotions, hikes, and end up being harassed and forced to quit if they retaliate - seen too many cases, and am smart to know truth of what happened.

And this is all true for ANY non-brahmin people, not just the lower caste ones.

The real problem though, there is no real solution to this problem except making these people realize they are being stupid for "assuming superiority" and not understanding science.

Many people in the society (obviously from the brahmin caste, especially from south India) have recently come openly stating they are superior and only people born into their caste are brainy. And the Indian government doesn't take any action!

Winston Churchill had said this about brahmins : "To abandon India to the rule of the Brahmins would be an act of cruel and wicked negligence. It would shame for ever those who bore its guilt. These Brahmins who mouth and patter the principles of Western Liberalism, and pose as philosophic and democratic politicians, are the same Brahmins who deny the primary rights of existence to nearly sixty millions of their own fellow countrymen whom they call ‘untouchable’, and whom they have by thousands of years of oppression actually taught to accept this sad position. They will not eat with these sixty millions, nor drink with them, nor treat them as human beings. They consider themselves contaminated even by their approach. And then in a moment they turn round and begin chopping logic with John Stuart Mill, or pleading the rights of man with Jean Jacques Rousseau.

While any community, social or religious, endorses such practices and asserts itself resolved to keep sixty millions of fellow countrymen perpetually and eternally in a state of sub-human bondage, we cannot recognise their claim to the title-deeds of democracy."

pretty sure some Brahmin user downvoted this :D This is the reality in India, whether private or government jobs doesn't matter. People who actually work here know this as an unspoken truth. And i merely pointed out Winston Churchill's comments on Brahmins, even that triggers some :D

I’ve got a “hot button” about castes. I hate ‘em.

Comes from growing up overseas (I live in the US), and having servants.

These were the people that raised us, and were, for all intents and purpose, “family.”

Except they weren’t, and when I found out how they lived, it broke my heart.

I was also raised by a British mother, who was an awesome woman, but came from a middle-class Liverpool (“scouse”) family, and spent her entire early life feeling “not good enough,” despite attending an Ivy-League university, and excelling at her work (http://cmarshall.com/miscellaneous/SheilaMarshall.htm).

Knowing how she felt also broke my heart.

The British have a heavy-duty caste system that isn’t as codified as India’s, but just as pervasive.

Of course, in the US (and, I believe, in other parts of the world), we are currently facing a reckoning about another type of “caste system.”

There seems to be an innate human need to “just be better” than others. I think we all have it, and have to make a conscious effort to suppress the impulse.

As someone who was born a lower caste hindu, I don't really mind the british caste system at all. Because the british caste system is fluid. If you are born to servant parents and study hard to become a doctor, you end up at the top of the caste system. Not in Hinduism. Even if you become a doctor, but were born a dalit(lowest caste), you will remain a dalit and so will your future generations. There is no escape from the inhuman hindu caste system.

Becoming a doctor does not make you upper class in the UK. You can't really become upper class, at least in the traditional sense - certainly not through a job or money.


e.g. David Cameron, Eton educated prime-minister, described himself as middle class.


Edit: You could argue that everyone is middle class these days - almost nobody self identifies as working class and there are so few real upper class people (I've never met one).

Edit2: Of course, you used to be able to buy entry into the upper class. But that doesn't happen anymore ;-)

A doctor would happily take being middle class rather than being a lowest caste hindu dalit. The fact that someone can advance to middle class makes it vastly different from Hinduism where you and your future generations are doomed to be born in the same caste.

The lords system in England buys someone in your family a seat in the house of lords. It might mean you were born born with land that theoretically you have government rights over, but if you take that farther than changing competitive rents you will discover the powers haven't been removed only because it wasn't worth the bother since nobody used them.

That is my impression as an outsider anyway. I'm sure the details are different somehow.

But I just love watching Parliament in session; especially The Prime Minister's Questions.

Those toffs can absolutely shred you, while complimenting you the entire time.

It's watching the English language being wielded as a weapon.

Good point, and I appreciate it, but it isn't quite as "fluid" in the UK as it may seem. In the US, yes. In the UK, not so much.

We recently had a woman that works for the State Department give testimony, and one of the things she mentioned, in her prepared remarks, was that she came to the US, because she couldn't get a fair shake in the UK, due to her "Northern accent," despite some heavy-duty cred.


The one thing that the Indian caste system has, is something to outlaw.

Since it is so codified, there's a specific thing to point to in a law.

News Flash: doctor isn't the top of our class system.

Even if you become a doctor you still won't be a part of the aristocracy.

The best you can do is upper middle class. That might mean you're the head of a FTSE100 company, which is still pretty good but you won't be upper class until the Queen dishes out a knighthood for all great works of charity you'll do.

...and even then though you'll probably still wear the wrong kind of shoes and hold your knife a bit funny at supper.

Sorry I am not entirely familiar with the intricacies of the British class system. My point was more about the British class system having upward mobility. Hindu caste system has none. A dalit doctor is still the lowest caste and all of his future generations will also be lowest caste. While poor farmer brahmins will call themselves highest caste.

No worries at all mate. My post is very tongue in cheek and should be taken lightly.

Although I work closely with many people in India I don't understand the caste system at all. So I'm just listening to the rest of the conversation and being informed.

Indian Jatti are more fluid than the European caste system. Any one can be a kings, and Jattis can move. They can have their own temples, gods, priests and kings.

European caste system on the other hand is very clear on who is royalty, and who isn't. In fact even today in countries like Denmark, ordinary people are NOT allowed to have royal second names.

God is also monopolised by the church and the clergy, until people (the new middle class) started quitting the church.

Please do not mistake the progress made due to economic development to social changes, and the other way around.

You seem to have quiet a rosy view of the British class system, but that is not the reality. Money or profession will not just make you higher class here in UK.

Maybe the term that I was looking for was middle class, rather than higher class. I'm just comparing it to Hinduism, where a lowest caste dalit cannot even progress to middle castes even if he becomes a billionaire.

Perhaps you are mixing up “class” with “caste”? Because it’s perfectly possible for a poor lower caste person to climb up the ladder of “class” to be a middle class. It does buy you certain privilege which otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Because money, ad the end of the day, does matter to an extent.

Caste on the other hand is an entirely different beast, as you have rightly pointed out.

While I get what you mean, to somebody who spent whole life in pretty egalitarian society it still sounds pretty horrible. You get much better working society overall when this kind of shit isn't there. If whole society prospers, everybody gets the benefits in many ways.

I've spent 6 months backpacking all over india in 2008 and 2010, and what I saw there broke my heart many times. The frequent kindness of the poorest folks on top of their misfortunes was very inspiring though

> There is no escape from the inhuman hindu caste system.

The Hindu caste system talks about spiritual evolution of the soul as it goes from body to body in each birth.

You might be a lower-caste in this birth, but you might get upper-caste birth in a next life. And vice-versa. That's how you escape it.

People taking such myths seriously is the crux of the problem. After all, if you were born low because of your alleged past sins, why should you not suffer in this current life?

> People taking such myths seriously

Well, atheists don't believe in anything before or after this life. It's usually such people who have no fear of committing crimes when they are confident they won't get caught.

> why should you not suffer in this current life?

they will suffer. But not because of you or me. But because of reactions to their actions long ago.

Does it mean you can ill-treat them without consequence ? No. If you do so, you will be born in that caste in a next-life and suffer the same oppression they're facing now.

> If you are born to servant parents and study hard to become a doctor, you end up at the top of the caste system.

I think this is the opposite of a caste system.

It's the opposite of the hindu caste system, but pretty much in line with the british caste system where caste is based on profession and not by birth.

It seems you're seeking to define a "British caste system" by reference to the Hindu caste system minus the Hindu caste system's defining feature. You're ending up with something like a meritocracy. It's not clear what point you're making other than "I don't like the Hindu caste system".

What's to stop any Indian from changing their last name? Are there other sure-fire signs of caste status, other than name?

Upward mobility is not a British trait. “Upper class” is Britain is something you have to be born into, not something you achieve through making money or education. At least not in this century.

Now America in the other hand, we hold greater respect for self-made immigrant success stories than a privileged rich kid spending daddy’s money.

I feel that I need to make a point here.

I did not mean to offend anyone. I was simply talking about my experience, in my life, and my outlook. I am very grateful for others sharing their experiences and outlooks, and it has helped me to understand things a bit better. I appreciate it. Really.

I understand that this is an emotional topic, and that some people have suffered greatly.

But let's not turn this into a flame war.



You conflated caste with class. The comments below are a reaction to that false equivalence.

Actually, only one other person (besides you) sank to insults.

I've enjoyed the responses, and the responses to responses. I've learned a bit from it.

This has been a really good thread, about a topic that has a thousand years of pain behind it.

I corrected you, not insulted you.

Caste and class are similar but not the same. Merging the two concepts into one is useful for generating outrage and maybe for bonding, but less useful for understanding the suffering of one society compared to another.

Have a great day!

Caste is not the same as Class Discrimination.

Depends on who is doing the definition.

The British system has a lot more to do with who mommy and daddy are, than what the sheepskin says.

It's pretty hard for people raised in the US to understand it. We keep looking at it through our lens, and we have a relatively young, egalitarian, culture that started when our continent was used as an overflow for the prison system.

A lot of folks in the UK try to get ahead by modifying their speaking patterns and accent. My mother had impeccable English (her mother sounded like she came from Liverpool). She was a scientific editor, and was absolutely brutal. I know. She edited some of my work.

I don't think it really got her what she wanted.


YGBSM. Are you sure that you want this post to stay up?

EDIT: I removed the quote of your insult, and simply flagged your post. Let's be adults, here. I'll probably remove this post before the two hours are up.

Is mentioning white British privilege over low-caste Indians now a flagging offense?

> Is mentioning white British privilege over low-caste Indians now a flagging offense?

Flat-out, deadly, insults are. It was delivered as an insult.

> Don't take this the wrong way this is your white privilege showing

I didn't "take it the wrong way." I took it exactly as it was intended.

What's ironic, is that the insult was delivered without the person even taking a few minutes to find out a bit more about me. I don't hide anything. It's all there, for you to examine.

I understand that this is an emotional issue, which was why I carefully kept all of my responses to my own experience, and never made a value judgement.

I'd suggest that you read through all my comments, and point out my insults. If I have inadvertently done so, then I sincerely apologize, and will make any amends possible.

I am not Indian, and won't even pretend to understand what Indians of lower caste go through, but I do have some experience in the British system.

Maybe somebody can clarify this for me. It seems that there is a difference in American and European laws about discrimination, where U.S. has a concept of protected groups (i.e. they explicitly enumerate who is not to be discriminated), while EU has laws based on equality of the groups (or more generally, humans).

It seems to me that the American system is more antagonistic, in the sense it really prefers some groups (or classes) to another. And this causes more issues (and more resentment). Am I understanding this right?

One underlying difference is that the US has at-will employment. Meaning an employer can terminate employee for any reason, except specific no-no reasons.

In the US, it's perfectly legal to fire someone, just cause you think their haircut is stupid, they stole your girlfriend, they root for a sports team you don't like, or you just plain don't like them.

I don't want to over-generalize, because Europe is a collection of many different legal systems, but in general European employees can only be fired for just cause. That is instead of listing why you can't fire someone, they enumerate specific reasons you can terminate an employee.

Therefore to protect against discrimination, the American system requires listing protected classes. The European system does not, because they simply omit "discrimination" from the list of acceptable just causes for termination. However in the US discrimination, i.e. employment termination for reasons unrelated to job performance, is perfectly legal. As long as it doesn't coincide with officially prohibited types of discrimination. Discriminating against employees on the basis of race, sex, or religion is a big problem. Discriminating on the basis of sports fandom, haircut or taste in music is perfectly legal.

> Discriminating on the basis of sports fandom, haircut or taste in music is perfectly legal.

IIUC, correlation of any of those with any of the protected classes will land you in trouble though (and I would guess at least the second two from your list are definitely so correlated).

As a result, again IIUC, all the large companies(+) follow, in practice, a European-style approach: there has to be a well-documented, based on some clearly-non-discriminatory criteria (++), reason for firing you (hence performance-improvement-plans, etc, etc).

[+] large companies == worth suing - again IIUC small companies can basically do what you say

[++] I think that still ends up being easier than firing people in many European countries, though

That makes a lot of sense for termination. How about hiring? Do you know if the European system specifies what attributes are and aren’t allowed to be considered when it comes to hiring employees?

EU is a collection of many countries with their unique laws, even if the principles might be similar. I can only speak of Finnish law.

Our constitution simply states that no-one can be treated unequally, without acceptable reason, based on race, sex etc etc or any other trait related to the person itself.

So caste discrimination would be illegal here as it is a reason based on the person. The loophole of ”Acceptable reason” there is mostly to allow them to put only people with testicles in mandatory military service without it going against constitution.

Austrian law has a Gleichbehandlungsgesetz. It forbids negative discrimination because of

- gender,

- age,

- ethnicity,

- world view or religion,

- sexual preference, or

- impairments.

This law applies in most legal matters, including hiring. Some classes, like the physically impaired, have their own laws.

Source: https://www.oesterreich.gv.at/themen/dokumente_und_recht/gle...

Can you explain the EU law? If a man applied to be a girl's PE teacher that would be in a locker room, is that allowed? Certainly not, right? The US allows discrimination in general as long as it's not based on membership in certain groups, unless such membership is germaine to the job. So you could limit gender in my PE teacher example, but you can't for a crossing guard (because presumably, anyone can be a crossing guard but sex matters for PE teaching).

Used PE teaching because I can't think of a better example.

Why would any PE teacher enter the locker room, that seems odd regardless of gender.

That was my attempt at a good example. Certainly you must admit there are occupations where gender matters? Like prison guard?

A better example would be casting for a film. You can definitely cast only Aryan men for a Nazi role. That would be reasonable and the law permits that. Generally speaking cases of discrimination are settled in court and judges have the latitude to, well, judge.


Nationalistic flamewar will get you banned here. Please don't post like this to HN.

It's remarkable how good this thread has managed to be, given the difficulty of the topic. Please let's not spoil that.

Edit: by the way, from your other comments in this thread I gather that you're probably Indian, or from an Indian family, and you're mostly expressing your personal experiences and frustrations. This of course is not at all the same thing as outside prejudice, and we're always mindful of the difference in such cases.

The trouble is, the internet can't tell the difference. If you post like this, your comment is indistinguishable from that of a racist or nationalist person who just has a problem with Indians. I'm sure you'd be the first to object to comments coming from that ugly place. So if you're going to post on these topics, we need you to include enough information to disambiguate your intent, and also make the post more personal and less of a general denunciation.

The general principle is: since a comment's impact on future discussion is determined by how others hear it, the burden is on the commenter to disambiguate intent.



You broke the site guidelines badly with this. Please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules from now on. Turning this thread— which started as a relatively nuanced discussion of a difficult and specific topic—into an immigration flamewar was vandalism. We ban accounts that use HN for ideological battle like that.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23698379.

Edit: it's clear from your comment history that you've been using HN primarily for ideological battle. That's not allowed, we ban accounts that do it, so I've banned this account. If anyone wants further explanation about exactly how and why moderate HN this way, I've written about it many times: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu....

Whilst FGM is absolutely abhorrent, I really can't stand how MGM (or circumcision without any medical need for it) is happily accepted in "Western values".

I can accept that circumcision is a medical need in some cases (my brother required it, something he elected to have done in his late teens), but I can't accept the double standard of "it's fine to chop parts off a baby boy without his consent because it's a part of our culture, but it's unacceptable that their culture allows them to chop parts off a baby girl".

So the point is, why are "Western values" automatically better than other values? I think you're being hyperbolic that "migrants have come over in such numbers that they have little pressure to assimilate", that is plainly nonsense.

I think GP may have worded it a bit strongly. What seems to often happen is that when there are many people from the same original culture living together whatever cultural pressures there may have been in the original country will tend to reproduce. This is probably related to those people being marginalised in the host country, so they don't have a lot of close contact with the new culture. Their day to day interactions are with people sharing the same views.

This seems to happen less when people are living among different cultures, even if those are all "foreigners" in the country.

I can see this phenomenon happen also with "expats", particularly Americans as its pretty easy for them to find each other. I've met many such expats around Paris who had lived here for several years and could hardly say a word of French. But I guess that the "culture shock" isn't as strong because US and French cultures aren't as different as say French and Indian.

> people being marginalised in the host country

This is a very good point. Very difficult to "integrate" when you face hostile natives.

My impression is that MGM is decreasingly part of “Western values” and more an American thing. There seems to be a massive blind spot in American culture on this issue.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.

Not exactly.

The AAP has waffled for years, putting their thumb on the scales of every guideline to include a “cultural factor” to the cost- benefit analysis which is literally “but people really want this for religious reasons.” They generally aimed for neutral, until the 2012 task force statement.

Accordingly, if you look up their most recent position statement (2012) they headline with “benefits outweigh risks.” But if you go -into- the actual statement they phrase it more delicately:

“ Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns.”

The benefits are sufficient to -still ask insurers to pay for it-. If health benefits -actually- outweighed risks, they’d recommend it for all infants routinely.

Accordingly, they got raked over the coals by pediatric organizations outside the US, which aren’t accustomed to cosmetic circumcision:

“ To these authors, only 1 of the arguments put forward by the American Academy of Pediatrics has some theoretical relevance in relation to infant male circumcision; namely, the possible protection against urinary tract infections in infant boys, which can easily be treated with antibiotics without tissue loss. The other claimed health benefits, including protection against HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts, and penile cancer, are questionable, weak, and likely to have little public health relevance in a Western context, and they do not represent compelling reasons for surgery before boys are old enough to decide for themselves.” (https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/4/796?utm...)

I agree there's some room for argument as to whether it should be recommended or not, but

- The headline includes "benefits outweigh risks"

- The text notes that "the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to ... warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns"

I got downvoted to claiming they said "the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks". I'm sorry, but... they do. Literally and unambiguously.

Assuming you trust the AAP (which many Americans probably do), comparing it to FGM is patently absurd.

Their statement for "third party payment" is industry jargon for "don't ban it," because Americans equate "uninsured service" with "unavailable service." Outside the headline, their strongest position is "don't make it unavailable."

And what argument do they make for it?

They trawled the data for things like reducing the transmission of HIV - which it does, in third-world country where condom usage is low, antiretroviral usage is low, pre-exposure prophylaxis is low. In first-world countries, circumcisions have not been shown to be protective, because in a setting with a higher baseline level of antiretroviral and condom usage, its effect is somewhere between negligible and non-existent.

The AAP is writing recommendations for America, not the third world.

Likewise, the reduction in cancers is a tiny effect. Small to begin with and, again, negligible in first-world countries.

As other pediatric bodies outside the AAP noted, including these "benefits" is a reach, and the AAP got raked over the coals for doing so.

So, no, not literally - the AAP made a strong political soundbite headline, and then walked it back in the text of their position paper, because they couldn't defend that headline.

And certainly not unambiguously, when they were widely criticized for relying on weak studies that didn't apply to the population in question.

The AAP isn't a terrible organization, but it's not immune to politics, and this shift in their official stance was political, not data-driven.

I said

> The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.

You said

> Not exactly.

And then proceeded to write up why you believe they are wrong.

I said

> I agree there's some room for argument as to whether it should be recommended or not, but


> I'm sorry, but... they do. Literally and unambiguously.

You replied, once again, indicating why you believe they are wrong.

To be very clear here...

1. They do say the benefits outweigh the risks. Period. That they say this is a fact.

2. I'm not arguing they are right. I'm saying they say it and a lot of people value what they say.

3. I also think that comparing it to FGM is patently absurd, but that is completely orthogonal to your argument that they didn't say what they very clearly did.

I said that they state it as a headline, and then walk it back in their actual paper. Yes, that's relevant - they literally did it so that pro-circumcision folks could tout the very headline you're touting, and they'd still have room to defend themselves from everyone calling them out for a headline they can't defend.

If I print a headline that says "ALL DOGS ARE RED" followed by a text qualifying the words "all," "dogs", and "red", you certainly can assert until the cows come home that I said "All dogs are red", but that would also be incorrect, given anything but the most superficial reading.

Lastly, to the extent that you're presenting the AAP statement as a direct argument from authority, I'm pointing out those other organizations not to argue "I disagree with the AAP", but to point out that in this instance "an argument from authority is invalid, they're roundly criticized by the other authorities."

I disagree with your conclusion that they walked back what they said in the headline enough to say that what they said in the headline isn't what they said. Besides that, I concur with most of what you said (in our discussion, not the previous point comparing circumcision to FGM).

That being said, I think we're obviously talking past each other here, so I'll just agree we have different views on the subject.

You must not be aware that one of the MOST common forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) is LESS radical than the MOST common form of male circumcision done in the United States.

Furthermore, MUTILATION was a word coined by the Apostle Paul himself. The King James version uses an obscure word CONCISION in Philippians 3:2 and Strong's Greek Dictionary tells you it means MUTILATION.

Another point you probably are unaware is that the Jewish rabbis changed their method of circumcision to be the "laying bare of the glans" in about 140 A.D., a fact verified as true by the Jewish Encyclopedia itself. CircumcisionInBible.WordPress.com

> such numbers that they have little pressure to assimilate and adopt Western values.

you mean like the uppety expat communities of Anglo-Saxon background who can't even bother learning German or French in Berlin or Nice even after 5 years in the country, the ones who go shopping every Saturday in their English groceries stores in Lyon and Munich and who will never invite the locals to their gatherings. Yes I've seen them in Singapore, HongKong and even Germany & France these British expat clubs. Think in India they're called British Raj unto this day for a reason.

I've been living as a foreigner all my life and the higher the contrast between rich/poor between the foreigner/host the less of "integration" you see. Telling people to "integrate" or claiming certain types of "foreigners don't integrate" is extremely xenophobic. Anyone speaking of "integration" needs to be sent to the country these people come from and forced to live on the local salary and do as the locals do in that country, ... if the speaker hasn't tried this, you can assume that what comes out of their mouth is racist garbage.

You do realize that in your first paragraph you claim certain types of foreigners don’t integrate and in your second that most people who claim that are xenophobic/just spouting racist garbage, right?

yes that is exactly what I'm saying. it's not a binary either or problem. and specifically I also wrote:

> contrast between rich/poor between the foreigner/host the less of "integration" you see.

integration is something that is expected of you when you're poor - nobody ever asked me (a white man with a foreign wife) to integrate - in fact being able to live in my own bubble in a large house just outside Cannes, with "cars" being my hobby, the kids in private international school, a gardener, pool-boy (a poor North African immigrant[1]) and 2 maids --> even the locals will give you respect and applaud you for "making it, all without learning the local language" (I did learn French later but it wasn't required of me in the same way it would have been if I were poor).

the "fail to integrate" argument is always hypocritical. it is a way of saying "how dare them for refusing to be dominated by us"

[1] integration was a big problem for him because he was Muslim even he spoke French (natively).

> the higher the contrast between rich/poor between the foreigner/host

British in Germany or France seems pretty horizontal to me though.

What's scary is how close-knit diaspora groups sometimes end up becoming more foreign to the host country than those in their ancestral country would be, holding up questionable traditions long after they are overcome by those who didn't leave. Permanently entrenched minorities are discrimination by definition, it can't stop without both sides stopping. Close-knit diaspora groups are a dangerous local maximum optimisation trap.

Indeed, let’s extend this. Plenty of documented cases of discriminatory behaviour from white Americans from Southern states - we should be incredibly careful about hiring them or letting them into any positions of power.

this attitude doesn't solve the racism problem. it just creates more of it. you don't solve anything with an eye-for-an-eye.

I was trying to show the absurdity of talking about a group of people like that, admittedly sarcasm is always dangerous in comments.

makes sense, sorry I missed it.

Is this really a comment? That people should be racist towards Indians now?

How about white people being racist towards Asians, of which there are many more instances than the opposite. By your logic what we really need to do is not allow whites to live in the country.

You've taken a very half-baked understanding of caste-based dynamics and ran with it to create a whole immigration policy thesis. I really hope someone like you never ends up in power, for my own sake.

We need to be incredibly careful with the volume of migrants that we are taking in to the West. Issues like FGM, sex-selective abortions, hiring discrimination are becoming established because migrants have come over in such numbers that they have little pressure to assimilate and adopt Western values.

Honestly, I don't believe you. This just sounds like the same thing racists and xenophobes have been saying for years. Do you have numbers from a source that isn't clearly a right-wing publication? If not, why say these things?

> This just sounds like the same thing racists and xenophobes have been saying for years

the reason why it sounds like a racist argument is because it is.

In France, about 20 years ago there was a lively debate about whether north-African girls, in high school and universities, should be allowed to wear a "foulard islamique" (scarf over the hair).

Now we are completely past that, and we have women wearing burkas and niqabs; things covering the entire body. This also increasingly includes indigenous French women. So not only some groups don't assimilate, they actually proselytize and convert others.

It used to be politically incorrect to say it but nowadays the entire political class, including the left, is forced to recognize that it's an issue.

It's especially a tremendous issue in France because it used to promote assimilation: the idea that anyone, racially, could become French as long as they completely abandoned their culture of origin (i.e. the opposite of multiculturalism). In practice it mostly worked with other Europeans like Spaniards, Italians, etc. Now we have an issue since we have de-facto (and non-working) multiculturalism in a country that still officially promotes assimilation.

So yes it's definitely a problem, and as far as I can see it's been a problem everywhere, and throughout history. The idea that people with radically different cultures can live in the same place is not confirmed anywhere. In fact we can see that even people of the same racial background, with slightly different cultures, cannot really live together (a good example of that is Belgium, where Wallons and Flamands can't find political agreement).

I don't really understand why a headscarf is controversial at all. I don't understand why burkas and niqabs are controversial either, so long as folks know they have a choice in the matter. Someone else wearing one doesn't really affect you. The bigger issue is that you see it as a problem, instead of just accepting folks.

Seriously: How does someone else wearing a headscarf - or more - actually affect you beyond the hypothetical of what a person could do?

The scarf is an issue in the sense that it was a way for militant, political Islam groups to test the waters. Which has led in less than a generation to much more extreme ways to openly show support for radical Islam (including burkas or more commonly niqabs).

It's an issue because a nation, a society must have a common bond, a common culture. It's not a giant supermarket or a hotel.

Religious flamewar is not allowed on HN, so please don't do it here.


Point taken, although I don't think I was engaging in that.

I did not make comments about Islam specifically, and whether it is "good" or "bad" in the absolute sense. I could have made the same argument by pointing out that protestant and catholic Christians have had trouble living together in Europe. My point is more generally that cultures that are too different can't live together in the same place; Islam in France was just a contemporary example I'm familiar with.

lol. Where do you get your information from? A headscarf and the next thing you know, "radical Islam"?? Whatever. This is just xenophobia with a polite package. Many muslims wear a headscarf around the world. Other religions do to: It was, until fairly recently, common in Europe as well for many folks (not sure if it was ever common in the Americas). This isn't showing support for "radical islam" any more than being Christian is supporting radical christianity or being any religion shows support for the most radical versions of it. Most muslims simply follow Islam, and not a radical form of it. Radical is.. rare. In pretty much all things.

And no, it isn't an issue because it is a nation. There are lots of ways to have a common bond or culture. It is an issue because segments of the population have decided to be xenophobic and shun parts of this particular religion. You can have things like belief that everyone is equal as a common bond. Language is a common bond. Education can be (and is!) a common bond. Compassion can be a common bond. But this is the hill you are dying on instead.

I think your view of the world is very naive. You can't inject political Islam in the French secular-with-deep-Christian-roots culture for the same reason you can't inject San Francisco LGBT culture in Baghdad.

Peoples and nations have histories, cultures, roots. You can't just copy/paste people around and expect everyone to be happy. The world has never worked this way.

68,000 victims of FGM in Germany: https://www.dw.com/en/female-genital-mutilation-report-shows...

First-generation South Asian mothers in Canada give birth to 142 boys for every 100 girls: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6227816/

There are multiple court cases filed against Infosys and other Indian companies in the US for racial discrimination in hiring practices.

These are real issues that we cannot brush under the rug.

FGM is horrible, but citing that there are victims doesn't actually mean that it is becoming something established, which was the arguement. We've done an abysmal job at stopping it worldwide, which is the real upwards battle. Again, though, it doesn't mean that it is becoming established in new places.

Same thing with your second link. First generation South Asian mothers in Canada... doesn't exactly mean that sex-selective abortion is 'becoming' widespread in Canada. It simply means that a minority of overall Canadians might do this, and it is higher in a certain subgroup. I honestly don't care about reasons for abortion, as it falls clearly in "none of my freaking business" and would rather simply keep it legal so that folks don't turn to unsafe practices. Again, though, the solution to 'fix' the issue (sexual equality in children) is really to fix it globally instead of targeting a minority in one country. Of course, this is widespread social uplift sorts of things.

Hiring discrimination is entrenched in culture - this is not the only marker for it. Again, there is no need to point out one minority for the practice when it is widespread other places. 'Western values' supports systematic racism and until recently, outright discrimination.

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