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How Big Tech Is Importing India’s Caste Legacy to Silicon Valley (bloomberg.com)
200 points by known 64 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 195 comments

This goes beyond just the Indian caste system. We're importing all kinds of historical grievances from around the globe. I worked for a consultancy in a regional tech hub on the East Coast. I thought it was odd that all of my fellow software engineers were from China or Taiwan. Turned out that the head of software engineering was Pakistani and refused to hire anyone from India. Since the company had a strong preference for H1B holders, there wasn't much an Indian candidate could do about it or even find out the reason why they were getting passed over. On three occasion he was given Indian employees due to acquisitions and in all three cases he quickly ran them off or had them laid off.

What can be done about the above? Do racial discrimination laws even apply to the selection of H1B holders? The company was already getting away with favoring visa holders over citizens and permanent residents so there was no reason for them to fear not being able to get away with excluding Indian candidates due to our head of software engineering having a personal grudge against India. The only reason why I was hired was because they had a client with a need for someone with deep knowledge of Microware OS-9, which wasn't something they were able to find in their usual sources of employee candidates. Makes me wonder how many of these companies silently exist as black boxes that no one outside knows what discrimination is going on inside of them.

Reminds me of some of my Indian coworkers at a previous job suggesting muslims deserve, basically, genocide. Also, a lot shit talking Gandhi. A lot of people are bringing over their baggage and I think it's getting worse as companies, or at least business units in companies, become ethnic and cultural enclaves

I once was volunteering at an event. I was having a causal conversation with another guy and after a while he asked me my last name and decided to not indulge in any further conversation anymore. This is one of many instances I experienced. There is a paper about caste oppression. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3725938

I was visiting a professor in Germany as part of my research work. One day the professor brought me five resumes and asked me who out of them were upper caste Hindus. I said all, why? So while doing her PhD she had an experience where a Brahmin refused to do experimental lab work as it was considered manual work which was beneath him. So professor first asks fellow Indians about applicants caste and then tailors her hiring process.

There's also this tam-bram pat where people feel janeu (can be worn only by upper caste hindu men), you don't even have to ask last name...


Thank you for sharing this. While it is apparent that US job market is not a meritocracy, it simply cannot allow ( hell, afford ) to import bad practices from afar.

It is already in US and is being defended by Hindu organizations with reason like - ‘Caste discrimination is a Hindu right that should go unchallenged’


To defend the "bad guy" for a second: In fairness to the HAF here, that "quote" is not a quote at all, but an uncharitable paraphrasing. If you're going to quote that "summary", it'd be best to also include a direct quote from the HAF along with it, so you appear fairer. Otherwise people will feel tricked and dismiss your argument.

Only if you had read the article where it is addressed in detail. Your colored language notwithstanding ("uncharitable paraphrasing"), the statement is actually an accurate summary by a well respected researcher on Dalit issues, of what HAF is doing here.


Here is another good article which says the same and the dubious role HAF is playing in order to advance Hindu Upper Caste's systemic oppression. Please note, HAF is run by all Hindu Upper Caste people, and they are invested in this case so as to not set a precedent.

But I did read the article!

On the surface, it seems that the HAF is inserting itself to argue a side point. The core issue is about whether caste is a protected category, and whether discrimination actually occurred at Cisco. HAF isn't really talking about that at all! Instead, they're just trying to make sure that court documents don't describe the caste system as "part of Hinduism". On the face of it, that doesn't seem so bad.

Now, I do see that some people view this as a diversionary tactic by the HAF, and that it should not to be taken at face value:

> According to Anil Wagde of the Ambedkar International Center, HAF’s intervention is an attempt to obfuscate the matter and confuse the court.

It seems you also do not take HAF's objections at face value?

But on the surface, their demands are -- a little distracting, but basically orthogonal. It feels like the solution to this is to say, "fine, we'll change the language used here (i.e., the description of Hinduism), and then get on with dealing with the core issue (i.e., the discrimination)".

As a Hindu, I am ashamed. I am glad to not be part of any such orgs. This is despicable. US cannot afford to continue this.

The tweet does not substantiate its claims, at least not that I can see due to the source being paywalled.

That sounds like an uncharitable interpretation of what HAF said, but I can't verify because they never link to the source statement and the article she points at is behind a paywall.

Come to think of it this "Attribute quotes to people and then say 'read the (paywalled) article' when someone asks for context" strategy seems like a pretty good way to spread misinformation.

Edit: Okay did some googling and found the source statement. That tweet is definitely a very bad faith misreading of HAF's statement which says:

> In its complaint, California argues that Cisco failed to address discrimination against one of its engineers by co-workers on the basis of his presumed caste. California goes on to state that caste is “a strict Hindu social and religious hierarchy” and therefore an integral part of Hindu teachings and practices. Framing its argument in this way, California is attempting to do what the Constitution clearly says it cannot, HAF said: defining Hindu religious doctrine for Hindus.

In other words, HAF isn't saying discrimination is a Hindu right. They're saying it's inappropriate for US Courts to define what constitutes "Hindu belief systems." This sounds appropriate since setting precedent in a court that defines anyone who professes belief in Hinduism as being casteist a priori would basically be opening the door to religious discrimination.

I see, thanks for digging. This would be like a court saying "violent conquest, and religious discrimination in the tax system, are inherent parts of Islam enshrined in the Quran", or "theocratic Zionism and the killing of gentiles are core parts of Judaism that are sanctioned in the Torah". In both cases, with a fundamentalist reading, you'd be right, but it's really up to Muslims and to Jews to interpret their own religions (and to interpret their way away from bad parts of their texts), not for the legal system to do. And it's kind of anti-Hindu to choose the most unsympathetic (to an American) reading of Hinduism to be the "official" one. It would be like saying that right-wing "Christian nationalism" is the "true" Christianity. The only people who would agree would be people outside Christianity who hate it, and the right wingers themselves.

And in the case of "Hinduism" this is extra complicated, because there is no central authority, and barely even a core "religion" in the manner of monotheisms. "Hinduism" barely exists (some people say it's just a word invented by the Britishers); it's a loose confederation of Shaivism, Vaishnavism, etc; it's amorphous. It's hard to say what is and isn't a "core belief". Whenever you try to grasp it, it will slip out of your hand.

HAF is saying exactly that. The case wants to make sure caste discrimination gets explicitly mentioned, but HAF is bringing in Hinduism angle and saying don't define Hinduism for us. You see the obfuscation here, they are doing? They are trying to defend casteism in a round about way. HAF is founded by Upper Caste Hindus hence they are invested in this matter to make sure the case does not set a precedent for them.

I remember an Indian work friend of mine angrily telling me about another employee who wouldn't stop harassing him on account of his last name and the caste it placed him in. This was at a Fortune 10 company and nothing was done about it.

Yes I heard that too. Like you can tell from the name, or the length of the name, something. I think if India gets rid of that part most Indians should be pretty happy...

One of my Indian coworkers said you could tell a lot about someone from their last name. Family origin, for one, down to a pretty fine granularity. Caste, likewise. My closest Indian friend once asked me if I could guess his caste. I told him I wouldn't even try. He laughed and told me that any Indian would instantly recognize his last name as placing him not only as a Brahmin but at a specific position within caste. In fact he hides it a bit, going by last initial when he can. I think you're right that a lot of Indians would be glad to get out from under their last names.

Yeah, just imagine how many talents are buried under that caste system...

Around independence many Indian families kind of chose their last names (or had a choice imposed on them, in the case of lower caste members). Surnames were kind of a European import and traditionally people were identified by a personal name and one of several specifying markers like their home village, their familial vocation, religion, or jati. The Jati-based names are the ones people are talking about as being identifying. People who weren't enthusiastic about their caste identity tended not to pick identifying names and would have named themselves after their hometown or something instead. But even that has some associations.

A jati is what people talk about when they talk about 'caste.' They're sort of like large, extended kinship groups analogous to Clans in Scotland. These groups all have associated vocations akin to how in the West we have stereotypes like linking Jews with banking or Koreans with dry cleaning. There's all sorts of legal, practical, and historical reasons why these associations take hold. And since they have associated vocations, they have associated Socio-economic-status markers as well. It's not all that different from ethnic discrimination except more concentrated and formalized since it has a much longer history.

Untouchability is kind of a special category. Those groups were sort of pre-designated as being outside the pale of polite society. This was largely informal and variegated around India but become codified around the late Gupta empire (around 500-600AD). There was still a sort of group or ethnicity-based form of social mobility around this time. My own jati, for example, would have been considered among the lowest of the low in antiquity but by the time of the British Raj they had became more of a "middle-tier" caste. This was much more common in South India than in the North where the lines were never very formalized or rigid. There are all sorts of records of geneologies being created to link caste groups to mythological heroes to raise their profiles.

The British Raj--by creating a sub-continent-wide government, a census, and a literal-to-the-letter interpretation of Hindu law books that exaggerated the traditional influence and role of priestly castes--ended up hardening and ossifying these pre-existing cultural mores into hard rules that we're living with to this day. You notice a big difference in older diasporic Hindu communities, such as in the West Indies where Indians were brought over as bonded labor. Most high-caste brahmins absolutely did not go because of a superstition around losing your caste if you cross the ocean. BUT they still observe many of the same rituals and religious rites. It turns out there were low-caste/low-status mendicant priests around. They just weren't the high-status ones that the Raj and Western anthropologists talked to when they started defining what "Hinduism" is.

This was pleasant to read. You write in a very entertaining style.

A story. A few years back I worked with an Indian team of developers and testers. They did a great job. Their lead was an IIT graduate. They have two managing partners; one is a secular Hindu and the other a practicing Muslim. Multicultural they are.

I went to visit them once. (Always a good idea to personally get to know people who work on your stuff!) They're in Odisha, in the east of India.

I asked the group, over lunch, about the caste system. Everybody agreed that it was a thing of the past and a historical shame.

But, later, each team member found a private way to tell me they came from Brahmin (top caste) families. It was really interesting to see how it played out.

Is it possible that human nature relentlessly drives us to this sort of tribalism? It shows up as racism in the western hemisphere, the caste system in India, the class system in England and their former colonies, and so forth.

At any rate, resisting this tribalism is hard work. But do that work we must. It's helpful to this westerner to learn about the caste system. I suppose it's equally helpful to people from India to learn about American racism.

Racism and caste endogamy is very different... caste is violence given stamp of approval through religion, you cannot escape it. Dalits are beheaded for wearing turban, riding a horse, taking their marriage procession from upper caste street. Moreover, it has present day support of the system in India. Hindu saint who classified the castes through his treatise, Manu Smriti, finds his statue in front of Rajasthan High Court.

News from today: Woman married a lower-caste guy, eloped, families lodged missing person complaint in Police, Police found the married couple and handed them over to their families. Woman's brother beheads his brother-in-law, sister hangs herself.


> Dalits are beheaded for wearing turban, riding a horse, taking their marriage procession from upper caste street.

I mean, that sounds precisely analogous to lynching black people for holding certain kinds of jobs, having wealth, or smiling at a white woman.

I know extremely little about India so it is possible that I am entirely ignorant. But the situations you describe here sound like 1:1 matches to racist violence in the US.

Also, the legal system in America is absolutely racist/classist as well. You could be optimistic and think of that as a holdover from more racist times, but either way it does kind of track with the story the op linked to.

> You could be optimistic and think of that as a holdover from more racist times,

But you'd be wrong, since it involves active, current racism by legislators, police, prosecutors, judges, jurors, and witnesses, among others, not just “autopilot” racism in the way people in the a more racist past set up the system.

surprisingly, you are accurate. its tribalism at its core.

i could add some more examples.

sunni-shia conflict,

arab muslim vs non-arab muslim,

rich vs poor

punjabi muslim vs bengali muslim (what caused 1971 bangladesh war)

Few years back, an indian muslim went to join caliphate and fight for ISIS. he was made to clean toilets because Arab muslims treated/thought indian muslims are inferior and not good enough for jihad.

Any set of people who choose to cooperate and work as a group will consistently dominate when in competition with people who act as individuals. It's less human nature and more the nature of any system with actors and competition, and unless you see sex going away the world will involve both. You can drop out of the race of life if you want, but I wouldn't count on others doing it anytime soon.

Not surprised my folks are from the same region and they behave exactly like that. I have heard enough relatives mention SC/ST as a term of derision and simultaneously discussing with other people talk as if the system is dead.

> "To fill those slots, universities sometimes offer seats to students with test scores below the cutoff point—though not as far below as is commonly assumed".

General cutoff in 2015 ( my batch ) = 105 marks out of 360

Sc/st/marginalised group cutoff marks = 52.5 marks out of 360.

Its literally cut to half and the author says its NOT as far below as is commonly assumed.

There is still more to it. You would think that it benefits the SC/ST/marginalised group but the truth is the entrance exam is so tough that unless you are quite well to do to go to a coaching institute you wouldnt even crack it. The main benefit of the caste system in entrance test doesnt go to the poor rural area kids who come from lower caste but the kids from metro cities who are already pretty rich go to the big schools have a very good formal education and fortunately have a SC/ST/Caste card to present during exams.

It feels like shit when you work and toil as hard as your dads colleague's son ( both of us have gone to the same school since we were kids, both of our dads earn the exact same ) and still end up in a bad college whereas the other kid with SC/ST/Quota card goes to a very good govt college.

I scored a decent 140/360 and still got a worse rank and worse college than my friend who scored 100/360.

I am all up for quota students who come from rural villages and dont have a good economic background but in reality its the rich metro sc/st/ kids who were already as privelaged as me who get it easy.

So you are unhappy because you couldn't get admission to a college. Now think about the unspeakable things millions of people from these backward classes had to endure for thousands of years. How much anger they must have felt. How much helplessness and self loathing they must have felt for not being able to do anything about it? Because they were told the God intended this life for them!

It's not about the income level. It's about the social injustice those people have endured for all these ages. These reservations are nothing but a minor apology from our society to these communities.

Losing a better chance at education and possibly a better life and potentially making less money because companies values IIT/IIM/NIT tags as a minor apology to people who were already at the same economic playing field as me ?

Naah, absolutely never.

As I said I have absolutely NO objection/problem with SC/ST/OBC/single girl students getting a better shot at education through quota if they had an underpreviliged childhood because of financial difficulties and caste based discrimination. But guys from big cities going to the same coaching institutes coming from same economic background, having a privileged life playing the SC/ST/OBC card is just plain pathetic.

This is not just "A MINOR APOLOGY" its something that can literally change the course of your life.

As an upper-caste person, you don't get to decide which minorities have lived a privileged life based on your resentful view of them. The caste hierarchy exists outside of class.

Indian immigrant to US here (non IIT, but Brahmin). Although I personally haven't seen or noticed casteism in the Indian community here or back in India for that matter. Although there were just a few idiots ... but it could very well have been my brahmin privilege or perhaps my urban upbringing. I did notice a bit of persecution complex within Brahmins about "reservations" (India's affirmative action). But more alarmingly, nowadays anti-Muslim feelings are widespread and it's distressing to see that even in my immediate family.

To my fellow Indian-Americans : we need to be adults and stop being so defensive about anything critical about our community. While we can be justifiably be proud of our community's success, but also need to be aware that we are also eminently capable of folly, and alert to some of the disturbing undercurrents in our community. I feel we absolutely need to take these charges seriously, just as we would sexism or racism in America.

>Although I personally haven't seen or noticed casteism in the Indian community here or back in India for that matter.

Have you not seen a single matrimonial advertisement in the US for members of the Indian community or back home in India?

I find the statement perplexing having lived in India for a while and having professional relationships with many from the region.

Matrimonials is a curious thing in India, it's not just caste, but it's the sub-sub-sub-caste that's often used as a filter. Most Indian marriages are arranged as you know...

However, I didn't see any overt casteism, I would play and be best buds with people of other castes. With caste being somewhat akin to how Americans think of ancestry. AFAIK my parents and their colleagues never once brought caste into any of our interactions. But it could very well be my upper middle-class and urban upbringing and not representative.

Perhaps you can ask your parents why they're not inter-caste

To be fair, arranged marriages depend on even more things. Sub-sub-sub-caste as other poster mentioned, and gotra (which excludes certain members of same caste). That's just too foreign thing for a western mindset.

I don’t know anything about Indian culture; could someone who is from there shed some light on how prevalent the prejudiced mindset is? E.g., do 80% of people think the caste system is stupid and outdated whereas the other 20% still hold some prejudice toward Dalits? What about Indians that have moved to the U.S.? And is this issue improving quickly or slowly?

It is still very prevalent.

1. I know people in my friend circle here in USA who refuse to invite people from lower caste into their home. One even had separate set of tea cups for lower caste friends to serve tea in. In india lower caste people are not allowed to enter the homes of higher caste people.

2. indians in usa form their friends group based on their nationality/language/region/caste in that order. While I don't think intent is malicious, its still a problematic mindset.

3. 99% of indians marry within their own caste. South Asia has on the highest levels of endogamy in the world.

4. I am skeptical that there is caste baste discrimination in workplaces though. But there might still be subconscious bias.

on 3: looks like its around 95%


Nepali dalits in Australia couldn't find a priest in her own hometown to do last rites of their parent -

"We thought the Brahmin priests could perform the ritual, without coming into our house but they refused," he says. "All they offered was a very short naming ceremony."

"Eventually we found a priest from Adelaide who directed me over the phone to perform the ritual. I felt it wasn't my father-in-law who died, it was me who was dying."


> I am skeptical that there is caste baste discrimination in workplaces though. But there might still be subconscious bias.

Planet Money has an excellent episode[1] on caste-based discrimination in the workplace—in Silicon Valley specifically. I'm not very knowledgeable about such things, but it was an interesting (an aggravating) listen as an outsider.

[1] https://www.npr.org/2020/10/14/923736245/caste-arrives-in-si...

I find it hard to believe that one can have internalized biases to the point you describe in (1) and yet somehow leave those at the door when going to work.

Some counter thoughts.

1. Maintaining separate cups is a social oddity. my mom follows the same principle. House members have their own cups/plates, guests have their own cups/plates. even if my relatives come to my home they will use guest set. My mom protests if i eat in my sister's plate. Nothing related to caste.

Lower caste people banned from entering homes is a bit of a stretch. Are you saying upper caste people are getting their water filter serviced with upper caste repairmen? They will allow whoever the water filter company sends them.

I went to homes of all my college classmates and dined in their homes, none of the parents stopped me and asked my caste before entering.

2. this is accurate with some minor changes. i have been in all 4 groups. forming a support circle is easier with something in common.

3. i highly doubt its 99%. you are just pulling these numbers out of thin air. In my small family circle, i can count 1 inter-religion marriage, 5 inter-caste marriage. i am not even in a metro city. i can put the number as 80%-20%

4. i agree with subconcious bias. its hard to measure. it may be there. it may not be there.

A friend of mine, Bramin caste, married a non-Indian. His mother, who really believes in the caste system, refused to attend his marriage and hasn't seen any of his 3 children since.

Very prevalent - but less likely to see in workplace than in social life (relationships, housing). This article also alludes to social aspects (study groups, etc) in IITs and not so much on academics.

Not based on any formal survey but my perception is 80-20 tilts towards higher caste population believing in superiority of their caste. I would also add many believe reservations for backward caste is unfair.

Hindu nationalist movement (ruling party and its offshoots) will have a positive impact on caste conversation in India for sure. Unfortunately prejudice will be directed against minority religions as a result.

One important aspect the article did not mention is the impact of religion and conversion among Dalits that gave them a ticket (not always the case) out of caste based discrimination. Slowly but steadily religious rights have been taken away from them by the right leaning governments post independence.

One of my friends had a story, where he was conducting a job interview with an American-born Indian teammate, and the interviewee was an Indian; when the interviewee went to the bathroom, she offhand guessed at the interviewee's caste, and then immediately felt mortified that she said that to a non-Indian and apologized. Just hearing that story secondhand was pretty wild for me to process!

In the US that is illegal, your friend should have immediately reported it to HR.

Not totally sure that "Caste" is a protected thing.

Several of the laws are broad enough to apply.

Last year I remember a news item linked on HN where some HR person flat out said that "caste" is not a protected category.

If you doubt the interviewer's integrity in making a decision, just remove him from the panel.

better to be safe than sorry.

I have a reasonable suspicion that people who have benefited from the caste system previously, will be favourable towards it still.

What I'm curious about is, do they go OTT with it? I know for my country folk, something about moving overseas seems to compel us to wear All Black paraphernalia far more than we do home, and also, the drunken 3am hakas outside a kebab shop, far more commonly encountered overseas than in NZ itself.

You can see this in the UK "community elders" will deny it but there are some nasty issues particularly untouchables.

I know one of the MP's that helped add caste discrimination to the UK's legal system - this probably ought to be added to the US laws as well.

Anecdotal, but in university I lived with a large group of students. One housemate came from India for his Masters, and become a real friend we thought. Had lotsa fun together, etc. Until after 4 years or so his wife came over to live together near the university campus. Then it appeared they were really high caste, and he never spoke to us again, even in greeting when passing by.

A good thing to watch is this episode of the Indian social issues show, Satyameva Jayate. (It's hosted by a major Bollywood actor.)


The episode shows contemporary discrimination against a woman of a so called "untouchable" caste. She is a PhD-holding lecturer at Delhi University, a major national research university. And even with her accomplishments, she sees discrimination in housing and in education. Of course, people without education or the accomplishments she has had deserve to live without prejudice as well.

I think a major problem is urban Indians or those who have migrated abroad not looking deeply into seeing how prevalent these issues actually are. I often hear that caste discrimination is a thing of the past or is on the way to oblivion from these folks. It's a bit maddening. More than 90% of urban Indians marry within their caste, and the number is at 95% for rural Indians. Now, multiply caste with language, dialect, economic class, education, skin color, and diet - you have a large number of complex identities that are seen as lesser by various groups. These don't necessarily form a total order, of course.

90% of indian marriages are arranged. arranged marriages by definition happen with in the same caste (and rarely among friends families).

I am willing to bet, 100% of non-arranged marriages are outside of caste/religion. The dating scene is still in its infant stages, you can expect more inter-caste marriages when arranged marriages decline.

I want to point out that prevalence of same-caste marriage does not automatically translate to caste based discrimination.

For example, I am open to marrying other caste person, but if other caste persons are not willing to marry me (for whatever reason), and I end marrying in my caste. does it mean I discriminate others based on caste ?

if a white person marries another white person does it mean that white person is racist?

I could be wrong, but it seems like importing a system of arbitrary discrimination whereas America maybe viewed as some mythological, egalitarian land where the streets are paved in gold.

I've had first hand experience living in India for over a decade. tl;dr: It is a way of life. The caste you are born into dictates if you can rent a certain house or fall in love with a section of the population.

-Newspaper ads and matrimonial websites openly discriminate against castes and skin color. I can guarantee you that every single Indian you have worked with in the valley has discussed their "Match Type" at some point and this is almost always a discussion around an "Arranged wedding" where women and men are matched based on caste, skin color , wealth etc -The kid in the story is not an outlier but the norm. It isn't uncommon to hear stories about kids lynched by "Superior" castes because they dared soil the belongings of a higher caste person or were dating someone they weren't supposed to. (This isn't just India, but the general region around India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the extended communities that have immigrated to western nations) -Casual humor and memes around caste and skin tone is EXTREMELY common place and can be found on prime time TV, popular Facebook pages and groups liked by tens of thousands of immigrant communities. -The more modern youth generally don't appear to subscribe to these ideals, but there's no choice, very few break the mold.

It really is sad to see it first hand, i don't know what the solution is since it literally is a part of life in that part of the world

In India, you’re born into a socioeconomic position and the likelihood of ever moving upward in the socioeconomic structure is virtually zero. Those at the top of the socioeconomic structure treat those below them like complete shit.

Most of them don't even ask your caste these days. I do not know where you're from. And there's even caste based affirmative action.

My understanding is that many people don't directly ask about caste any more, but they'll actively try to figure it out based on your last name or "innocuous" questions about where you're from, what schools you went to, dietary habits, etc. Is that not so?

Maybe in previous generation. Millennials/Gen Z doesn't care much.

I understand it isn't legal to ask about caste in many circumstances. However it isn't hard to guess correctly in most cases, so that doesn't matter.

I'm not from India though, so I'm just repeating what I've heard about a system that makes no sense to me.

Yeah that is all on paper. In practice it is very different

The prevalence of caste based discrimination is dependent on the environment that Indian person grew up in. The more urbanized their upbringing, the lesser the prevalence of caste.

However, the government fucked up by baking caste based reservation systems into law, thus making it harder to eliminate the presence into oblivion.

My experience, as an outsider who used to visit colleagues in India regularly, is that it's quite prevalent but very tricky to talk about. It's an understandably sensitive topic. There's obviously a lot of variation, both according to a person's own position within that structure and (I've heard) different parts of the country. Nonetheless, it's hard to miss the visible differences between the people working in a tech office and the people cleaning it, or the people doing manual construction labor, or the people begging. And it's not much harder to notice how they interact with each other.

It's also hard to dismiss caste as an ongoing issue when you find out that all but two out of 50+ engineers you worked with is Brahmin. (I only found that out through the one colleague who was close enough and open-minded enough to discuss such things with me BTW.) Ditto when you find out that one of those two exceptions had been repeatedly passed over for promotion despite being twice as skilled as some of those who were promoted. Once you start looking, the patterns become clear.

When considering these issues from outside, though, it's important to realize how entangled they are with another aspect of Indian culture: high context. Even among people of the same caste, there's a strong idea of social position and "right behavior" with respect to that. Whenever we very-senior Americans came to visit, the jockeying over who was invited to meetings and who was allowed to speak in them was almost comical. Often, the person speaking was clearly unfamiliar with work that had been done by someone more junior. That was considered quite normal.

There was also a darker side. On two separate occasions, people I had formed strong working relationships with were completely shunned by most of their local colleagues because they were perceived as "jumping the queue" by associating with me. After that, I started paying attention to these relationships. If I wanted to speak directly with the junior person who had actually done some work, I made sure to do it as discreetly (even secretively) as possible. I wouldn't mention it to their status-conscious seniors; instead I'd send feedback directly to top-level people who did their reviews and knew how to handle such sensitive communication properly.

Please note that I'm not criticizing Indians here. Having seen how my fellow Americans treat "outsiders" even without an ancient caste system, I doubt that many of them would do better within one. But there are definitely differences in social behavior (the "never say 'no'" thing is another) that anyone working with many Indians either in India or elsewhere would do well to learn.

> It's also hard to dismiss caste as an ongoing issue when you find out that all but two out of 50+ engineers you worked with is Brahmin.

This is not unbelievable but this large a number is quite surprising. 48/50 from various "upper castes" is quite common though.

Nepotism is rampant though, not unbelievable.

I have a bunch of points and I am not sure if they answer your question completely,

The reason caste still exists as an issue in India, is because 1. It is bought up every now and then, during elections or by the media to add fuel to an already burning issue. 2. It is used as an excuse to flout laws or treat a fellow human being as trash and maintain superiority over them. 3. Lack of education or a general lack of interest in knowledge which leads to people believing what they are told rather then trying to understand what is. (could be more reasons as well which I am not be aware of)

Indians who are brought up in an environment where there is constant mixing of cultures, castes or religions typically do not bother about which caste or religion the person sitting next to them or having lunch with them. Like children of expats studying in the same school, places where political or economic situations bring/force people to exist together like labour camps in the middle east or communism dominated towns in Kerala.

The above group cannot/do not act on this issue because any concern raised over division by caste is immediately countered with whataboutism or alienation(even being disowned by family), which forces most educated Indians to go with the flow rather than oppose it. There are even outliers in this group that profit out of the divide like those who influence the first point stated above.

It looks like hiring IIT dropouts over graduates would be an epic talent arbitrage opportunity. I didn't know about vegetarianism as a proxy for class purity, and I can see why high-caste Indians get so offended when I joke that growing up in my meat and potatoes family vegetarianism was treated with a kind of sympathy because they considered it an eating disorder, why some Indians found that so funny, and why I get along better with the people whose English isn't as refined.

This extremely vulgar expression of privilege on my part mainly offends what we would call the petit bourgeois here, where working people tend to find the lack of pretense a relief. This is the horror of being middle class anywhere, because it's living with the fear of exposure that we aren't really all that different from the people we were raised to hate.

Welcome, my Indian sisters and brothers! We are more alike than we ever knew. :)

If you are an IITian and still casteist then something is wrong with you!

Look IITians are often entitled, opinionated and in rare cases obnoxious.

But never during my 5 years in IIT KGP, I have ever felt casteism among students and even amongst alumni after that.

Initially during freshman year there’s a slight sense of resentment against quota (affirmative action for lower castes) students but all of that evaporates as quota and non-quota students alike progress.

The whole point of getting advanced degrees is to shed the ignorance and discrimination and pursue what’s interesting, work with the brightest and of course make a better life for oneself.

Being casteist and discriminatory doesn’t take anyone far in life.

I really hope reports like these are media exaggerations and entitled casteist are very very few.

I have worked my whole life to ascend over this garbage. I don’t want this stupid discourse to follow me now!

Thing is under the veil a lot of caste sentiment is around. There is much closing the ranks among upper castes even in well educated circles. Peoples surnames and colour of skin seems to matter in social interactions, and there is considerable 'them' and 'us' mentality.

Also upper castes continue to propagate caste names in naming children which acts as a badge to upper caste identity.

Important positions in both government and industry seems to be filled with people from the upper castes.

> IITians are often entitled, opinionated and in rare cases obnoxious.

I've worked with IITians and this is very accurate. They also refuse to consider alternate opinions, because if their opinion is not accepted, they assume that it would damage their careers.

I also know of one team that hired all IITians to boost their output. Lots of "white papers" but not much action. After a year, the whole group of IITians were upset because they weren't promoted, demonstrate low engagement with other teams and eventually left. It was funny to watch that team self-destruct because it went from the golden team to the team no division wanted in 12 months.

You have a modern view of the world. You'll be surprised as I was back in the day that not everyone is open minded.

Ppl still want to keep old systems in place because their parents have brain washed them into thinking that they're upper caste and that Hindu Khatre mein hai

I come myself from middle class Brahmin family in Maharashtra, have a engineering degree from a mediocre school in Maharashtra. If at all I witnessed something negative is snobbishness from people who graduated from better school than me. I have been in silicon valley for over 25 years now. I worked in 2 startups and 4 mega corporations/public companies with friends/superiors/colleagues (some of whom are Brahmin IIT graduates) from various parts of India - I personally never asked anyone's last name to find their caste and neither I witnessed anyone making any derogatory remarks about anyone's caste/religion. I have never experienced or seen any of this that is being reported in this article. It is truly shameful and disgusting if it is happening now or before. Let's stop this right now and right away!

I appreciate people like you. But the thing is, if you are an upper caste person then it is very less likely that you'll be discriminated against as far as caste is concerned.

Overtly discrimination will happen less but covertly ot happens a lot.

But the good news is that not everyone is like that so we are slowly progressing

There's a long Wikipedia article that covers this topic entirely:


Some strange observations for me from the article:

- There's 200M people in the world born into a life where they are/were considered physically untouchable by other "higher-ranked" people around them

- The usage of the label "backwards" in “other backwards classes,” or OBCs. I'll chalk it down to English not being the native language, but "disadvantaged" is more appropriate as "backwards" has a negative meaning.

I wonder if a better solution for the mental health of these people at the IITs is to simply have their own IIT where they make up the bulk of the student population. Then again, they might face discrimination by "upper-caste" professors refusing to work there or being "that" IIT that tech companies shouldn't hire from.

To the Americans on HN: is this type of discrimination comparable to being born as an African American in a city like Baltimore?

how is it different from segregation ?

personally, i am against it. we already have schools which only accept specific religion (muslims, christians) and cross religion interaction is sorely missing and causing a rift right from childhood.

I have much easier solution which can eliminate caste altogether.

When british was signing up Indians for indentured labor in Caribbean, British offered to give fresh set of identity (like witness protection in US) to anyone who agreed to go to Caribbean. every one chose brahmin surnames.

When Indians finally arrived at Caribbean, all Indians were brahmins. when all are brahmins, being a brahmin stopped being special.

Indian government should 1. give an option to change surnames. OR 2. stop recording first name/last name/family name in all official documents. 3. stop recording caste as part of aadhar/official census/all governement documents.

if goal is to have a society with out discrimination, lets start doing it. that should push us towards a caste free society.

In all honesty, this issue was well known before the “Big Tech” existed. Anyone who worked with Indian call centres and outsourced devs/qa knew about it

Happy to've seen a picture of B.R. Ambedkar.

Not Indian but major respect for this man!

Does caste matter for Muslims and Christians in India?

Yes, but how much depends.

If you are part of a tiny sect it matters not at all, the others in your new group are happy to have anyone. If you are part of a very large sect then there is a need to divide into smaller groups because a person can only have so many friends and caste is an the fallback to divide on.

Most people have family of other religion, and so they often do something about family. Sometimes that means other-cast friends in the religion are kept apart from family, sometimes it means they are thrown in the face of family as a way to show how different they are.

I know more about Christian practice than Muslims. I suspect the same logic applies but I'm not sure.

Yes, among Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs. Watch a minute of video here to see examples: https://youtu.be/ZPmAltGay3s?t=1965

Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

go to www.christianmatrimony.com and sign up.

one of the data point they ask 'caste preference'.

caste is a social nuisance, not a religious one.

What if you just lie and tell everybody you're Brahmin? Seems that would be a solution. Is that illegal?

This comment made me lol.. Not sure if you were just joking or you were unaware that case system is overlaid on racial/genetic subtleties of Indian subcontinent. Brahmin casts tend to be light skinned. For outsiders, all Indians are same, but believe me, there are subconscious clues a trained human mind (through upbringing, culture etc.) can pick up.

Nordics probably read as superbrahmins.

This comment made me LoL but yes there's some steppe ancestry in Indians. But doesn't considerably vary among castes. I guess most of "upper castes" have something like 10% more steppe ancestry on average. Brahmins have established themselves as top because they were priestly caste and not the ancestry. (Indo European migration happened much before caste system formed).

This podcast talks about this. Casteism is a disgusting remanent of Hinduism — the least someone can do is be AWARE of their privilege and ensure that they are inclusive and fair to their fellow citizens regardless of caste or race.


This was also featured in Rough Translation: https://www.npr.org/2020/09/21/915299467/how-to-be-an-anti-c....

I've heard the opinion that India is the longest-running example of functioning multiculturalism in the world. Parts of the Indian system are no doubt simple remnants of earlier times that serve no purpose, but others are probably very necessary for the system's functioning, and I wonder whether caste might be one of those.

At a glance, caste discrimination seems like it would in fact make it harder for the upper classes to exploit the lower past a certain point, as it makes people very aware of their own interests. Social mobility is a wonderful thing, but it can help arguments for policy that benefit the rich at the expense of the poor fly under the radar.

"Caste" has a lot of political milage attached to it. So the divisions are used by politicians as well as the church.

Infact the European origin of the word caste, shows you how far the narrative is from reality.

People wanting to maintain a certain lifestyle is conflated with orthodoxy/discrimination.

Forcing someone used to generations of vegetarianism to use the same kitchen where meat is served. Jains who follow ahimsa, do not want to rent out their homes to meat eaters.

This is often labeled discriminatory, not by the Hindus themselves, but by the sjws.

People in the western world have family names like Smith, Goldsmith, Mason, Carpenter, Schumacher .... which connect them to their ancestral occupation

In a poor country like India often people's occupation matches their family name.

The only difference is that Indians recognized the social mobility problems at the time of framing the constitution.

Social mobility is a problem that even a wealthy country like Germany faces. The fact that Indians recognize this and want to address it should not be ignored

The big problem with atrocity literature is that one fails to see reality and fail to recognize the fast changing world.

Jesus was a carpenter because his father was a carpenter. If Jesus's workshop burt down and he wanted to rebuild he can always depend on the carpenter community to help him out.

Jesus wants to be part of the carpenter community as it serves him.

There are some fringe sections left in the society which are still practicing caste based discrimination. To get more clicks, news websites try to project this small minority as the truth of the whole nation.

Let us give Brahmin a separate country; They're just 3% in India; https://archive.is/VWFSC https://archive.is/h3TBP

It's not just Silicon Valley. I've seen this in Singapore as well.

This article is as bullshit at it can get with no proof and random catch phrases on the lines of "ohh blacks are hated in America". Truth is, there is absolutely no place for cast in any top Indian engineering colleges. Millennials and GenZ does not give a single fuck to what the cast of a person is. That too in IITs were 90% students come from middle or poor class of society and have similar lifestyle. There can always be one random incident but that does not mean that the entire community can be painted in same color.

Truth is some sections of American society do not want immigrants to work there and these articles are born from the same mindset. India is losing its caste based social norms as the years pass by much faster than America is losing Black are inferior mindset. Even political changes have come in India which has narrowed the caste lines to almost extinction.

This is a highly inaccurate comment. Caste lines are more alive than ever especially with the advent of social media.

Don't need to go to social media, just look at the number plates of the "upper class" folks

They usually plaster their caste names on the bike or number plate

Extinction??? Seriously??

I had two upper caste members in my Team. Both born after 1993.

How did I know they're upper caste?

They.always.reminded in every sentence

"in us Rajputs" or "in us Bramhins"

I have had 100s of member sin my team otherwise, some surnames which I've never heard before and yet I did not know their caste

Also these upper caste folks make groups based on their castes.

And they never let you forget which caste they belong to.

Every single conversation has to mention what "kulcha" they have back at home.

Caste system is reduced yes but it is not extinct.

Easiest way to see is how Political parties. Check who their top leaders/ministers are except the token Affirmative action hire.

I can confirm. There are very fringe sections left in the society which are still practicing caste based discrimination. To get more clicks, news websites try to project this small minority as the truth of the whole nation.

In that case entire country is fringe because I've seen cast discrimination everywhere. Including metro cities.

Who's worked with Brahmin IITians, raise a paw? :paw emoji here:

I hope the Valley absorbs all of the world's horrible tech sociological antipatterns because I ejected from that heap. Transient gold miners descended on the place where I grew up, treated it disposably, and failed to make any effort to integrate because they're just visiting to make their coin. Sunnyvale Costco is like an airport in Burma (okay, Myanmar), not because of race, culture, or ethnicity, but because of the predominant "fuck it" attitude: don't learn the customs, don't speak the language, don't put down roots, and don't interact with locals. There are perfectly nice, Americanized immigrants like a good fraction of the TiE folks but when you bring in a junior software engineer's extended family, you're getting a swath of average people too... and that's like moving a crowd of random Floridian Disneyland-goers in for a temporary extended stay.

Also, I noticed how the offspring of the well-to-do from authoritarian countries act like, or even worse than, drunk American college students in the rest of the world. For example, I noticed mainland PRC kids pointing, laughing, harassing, and taking poverty porn pictures of homeless people in Palo Alto.

I’m neither Brahmin nor IITian but am in the immediately adjacent category of Indians. Are many of these IIT alumni (and others as well) from India basically rednecks with engineering degrees? Probably yes. Does it mean your “learn the language” attitude is actually relevant to this discussion? Probably not. Guess who else tells me, a Tamil guy, to learn the language? The same IITians (Hindi is the most popular language in India). So if you were born in New Delhi in a Brahmin Family you’d probably be doing in Cisco and Costco exactly what you blame these immigrants of doing.

The fundamental flaw in humanity seems to be this absolute belief that they are the good guy and everyone else is the bad guy. Self reflection will reveal that we all live in the same spectrum of shittiness just coming in different flavours given circumstances.

"Absolute belief" is something you inferred that wasn't there.

Human nature is what it is. Bring enough of any group of people to another place, there will be cultural replacement.

What about the self reflection of those who let themselves be underpaid and displace the local culture for a quick buck? It seems like you're being sanctimonious.

The Bay Area can keep Man Jose, Sunnyvale, and the East bay. I avoid American yuppies without life experience and the precariat too, so don't feel too special.

> What about the self reflection of those who let themselves be underpaid

If this phrase isn't an example of white privilege so despised here, I don't know what is.

But sure. Let's blame the workers who aren't in charge of policy or decision-making.

To complete that bingo, the only thing missing is an "I don't vote because the system is rigged" statement.

>The Bay Area can keep Man Jose, Sunnyvale, and the East bay. I avoid American yuppies without life experience and the precariat too, so don't feel too special.

"I avoid people based on their life experiences, but also you specifically because of where you are from, so don't feel too special"

To anyone wondering how casual racism looks like, you're welcome.

> who let themselves be underpaid

So what should these people do instead? Stay where they are and get paid much less?

I think people should try to integrate into the community where they're at rather than invade it, change it, use it up, and treat it like a disposable holiday. "When in Rome..."

A contributor to the attitude is the caste itself.

These kids (huge majority from upper castes) are treated with too much deference at home by the parents, family and society. Since they are served well at home by servants and society when they go to foreign lands their expectations don’t change and they take the baggage with them. Mind you, they’re modulating the behavior a bit abroad because at home it’s even more pronounced.

And while SV is taken by DEI there are more than a few companies that lean very heavily to one foreign ethnicity to the exclusion of others. It’s an amusing contrast of signaling vs reality.

On the other hand, I’ve worked with nice ‘regular guys’ (from India) who had sloughed off any trappings of caste don’t have pretensions and they are a pleasure to work with and indeed contribute to our society.

> These kids (huge majority from upper castes) are treated with too much deference at home by the parents, family and society. Since they are served well at home by servants ...

Do not know which area you are from. But in practice most of the traditional "Upper caste" people are not rich enough for having servants. Their air of superiority comes from mere name of the caste and tribal feeling, but upper caste people will be dime a dozen in any given area and grow up like middle class kids.

I think both can be true.

Take melanin content, any other arbitrary physical attribute, or tribal identity: we know that leads to real -ists and -isms.

Independently, give kids more than others, like the rigged Monopoly game and watch as they take more shared food.

Combine these two patterns together, and it's easy to develop truly repugnant, entitled, greedy, mean people with permanent insouciance and shit-eating grins.

I worked with a dude at a Pac12 who expected rides home because he didn't have a car. I quit after he derisively referred to my friend and his attitude become intolerably obnoxious. This is what happens when someone is raised with 40 servants, becomes a stock broker, and then decides to dabble in medical academia instead. Treat kids like royalty and they will act like they're innately special and deserving more than others do.

I don't disagree with your general premise, but expecting rides home is not very uncommon in India in my experience. Ridesharing/dropping colleagues off at home if it's on the way is pretty common.

Oh and they were Brahmin with servants.

Well, there is at least gold where you grew up. Lots of other areas have gone through the same transformation without the 'gold'. For example where I live is a touristic part of Spain. It wasn't touristic at all 40 years ago, so much so that people washed their clothes in the river (not joking). Come mass tourism they abandoned everything and erected megahotels. But tourists priced locals out, nobody can afford housing anymore. It is impossible for an avocado picker turned waiter to keep up with foreigner prices. Same thing as the Bay Area, but without 'gold' to be earned. Most people even if they work their butt off earn around 1000 USD a month.

I was just in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Everything was geared towards grabbing those tourist dollars. Nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I’d feel a little better about it if the tourist cash stayed with the locals, but I don’t suspect it does. It’s like displace local culture with tourist culture, and pray the tourists keep coming.

Everyone hates a tourist but loves their money. It's a universal law.

It's the same everywhere, I guess. I lived in Sausalito for 14 years, and can attest that that is exactly what a "tourist town" is/becomes, by design.

To be fair, that's Playa Del Carmen's schtick. The entire town was built in the last 20 years. It's like complaining about the culture at Disneyland.

Mexico has no shortage of local culture, thankfully.

It creates “opportunity”. Feed enough oats to the horse, and some comes out for the sparrow. Tourism and gentrification both embody “horse and sparrow” economics, i.e. the opportunity to eat effluent, which may or may not be better than simply not eating.

These folks have been living merrily without even using cash until the '70s. Barter economy + fishing/agriculture kept them afloat. If they couldn't catch anything that day, they ate the odd banana.

Also, I noticed some commenters make harsh and hateful generalisations about people they do not actually know.


This comment above made me a bit sad.

Yeah, it reads to me like the usual age old generalizations of "I don't dislike group X but they're just dirty slobs with no manners, not their fault of course, but they are that."


Your GP comment was already against the site guidelines (note this one: "Please don't fulminate."), but posting like you did here will get you banned on HN, so please don't do that again.

If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and taking the intended spirit of the site more to heart, we'd be grateful.

I'm sorry but consider that this right here is discrimination too. Go to Costco in Markham, Ontario and you're going to be seeing a lot of chinese people in the way you describe too. But then consider: when was the last time you stepped into your local hmart (a Korean supermarket chain)?

People congregate with similar people. This is something torontonians have gotten over ages ago. Mingle if you want to, but also accept that not everyone is a lend-sugar-to-neighbor international social butterfly. NIMBYism isn't going to help.

NIMBY is for nuclear reactors, not groups of people who Balkanize themselves into their own gated communities, whether native or immigrants.

Come on now, if you're gonna be pulling the "I lived here 40 years" card, at least acknowledge issues like affordable housing and tech hating graffiti.

What's wrong with letting people live how they want to?

What do you mean by problems at Costco? I've visited a few of them and I can't say people behave at the ones in California any different than the ones in Texas. It's crowded but everyone speaks english and follows the rules.

> Transient gold miners descended on the place where I grew up, treated it disposably, and failed to make any effort to integrate because they're just visiting to make their coin.

You've just described a large amount of tech expats, no matter where they're from or what they're mining.

Gold miners is the literal history of California.

The fact of the matter is that OP's comment is good old-fashioned racism wrapped in fancy words to harness HN votes.

Funny how no one says the same about people from France or Australia..

Or black people, any criticism of black people would be met with outrage. So much hypocrisy.

Its insane the level of generalizations about Indians/Asians that are tolerated in "woke" spaces like this forum. If someone made a similar comment about black people, they would be excoriated (and rightfully so). As an Indian American who lived in SF, this perception of "unwantedness" was pervasive. People aren't outright racist but harbor views that imply that Indians/Asians are not part of the "in" group. We are seen as a monolith rather than as individuals. This hypocrisy really irks me and I will call it out when I see it.

Your rhetoric is not that different from Trump's. I get that there are anxieties about the familiar culture of the place you grew up in changing due to immigration/migration from other parts of the country. However, no place in the history of the world was culturally static.

>failed to make any effort to integrate because they're just visiting to make their coin

I mean, have you seen the waiting times for Indian US green cards? You may literally die of old age before getting through the queue right now. The system is structured to make them disposable temporary workers and not future American citizens. So why is it surprising that they act like it?

My cousin reminded me the other day that back in the 80s I was introduced by innumerable mums as “attends MIT and has a green card”. Literally that was my entire “biography”.

Edit: seems like thing have diverged since I had to worry about these things: The waiting time for non-Indian green cards is the same btw.

Not sure what you mean by non-Indian green cards exactly, but just to clarify, the waiting time for EB2/EB3 green cards for those in India is really dramatically behind everywhere else (final action dates are a rough proxy for "waiting time" but actually understate the problem): https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/v...

Because as someone from the EU, why would I go to California? I have been there countless times because of my job and was always happy getting back to Europe (where in most parts no old people fill bags, receptionists do not need to work with broken arms and not a myriad of poor Mexicans are treated like the reenact "Gone with the wind").

I had to suppress a laugh flash whenever an ICE agent wanted hard to find out if I wanted to illegally stay in the country. Why on earth would I?

Thanks, my wife’s wait (she wasn’t from India) was seven years but that was a while ago. I hadn’t realized things were diverging more recently.

For eb2 and eb3 visas, For chinese and mexicans it's similar. For everyone else, no.

I think Filipinos have similar wait times.

It's a fucked-up system that perpetuates fetishization of a "golden Willy Wonka ticket" in order to mint underpaid workers on a leash. I've seen such tech workers make 3-10% of equivalent native salaries, and live in appalling group housing conditions to save money. (TCS, anyone?) There isn't a magic or easy answer. It is what it is.

>There isn't a magic or easy answer. It is what it is.

I mean, sure there is, people just don't want to fix it for various reasons. For example, reform the H1B and Green Card processes. Make the H1B an actual path to a green card and citizenship which most people seem to want nowadays. Cap H1Bs per nation (so there's a clear concise path to citizenship if you're in the US) rather than Green Cards or increase the Green Card caps.

Blaming the people who are trying to make a better life for themselves by working within the system that those more wealthy than them have set up just seems very silly to me. Blame those who setup the system instead.

I never blamed any one group, you inferred that yourself. I blame human nature and the situation.

Capping H1Bs per nation is an effective cut since Indians dominate the program.

The solution is actually to clear the EB Green Card backlog with a one time allocation to all backlogged applicants followed by removing the per country cap.


Why am I not surprised that this is downvoted?

Because HN is choke-full of racists, xenophobes, inveterate nativists, and white nationalists — and nobody here seems to want to acknowledge this “uncomfortable” truth.

It’s dark and dreary, but that’s the sort of shitty people who are unfortunately ta majority of users here.

The comment was unsubstantive flamebait and was correctly downvoted based on the site guidelines. Please stop posting this way to HN—it's not what this site is for.


Edit: comments like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26437161 are obviously not ok, either, and will get you banned here regardless of how right you are or feel you are. We've had to warn you about this before. No more of this please.

A lot of the wait time is really self-imposed.

Visa abuse is rampant at consulting companies... that are mostly Indian-owned! [0] This doesn't help the wait time for the legitimate cases.

[0] https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/silicon-valleys-body-s...

> A lot of the wait time is really self-imposed.

Self-imposed by whom ? Why is the individual responsible for the actions of a whole group of people/companies?

You have the cause and effect reversed. Body shops and US companies love hiring Indians over other nationalities precisely because they're much more likely to get stuck working for them for several years if not decades, and making them more money while suppressing wages, while other nationalities switch companies for higher pay etc. once they get their Green Card in a year or two. The body shops only exist and serve a purpose because the worker visa laws are worker-hostile and company-friendly on purpose to screw labor and benefit companies, for example according to the law workers are illegal aliens starting on Saturday after getting laid off or fired on Friday. People have to file a Freedom of Information Act to get a receipt number of a step in a Green Card process to continue the process at different company if the previous employer refuses to give it to you.

It's not just me saying that, the Congressional Research Service has it in their report about removing country caps. If that happens then there is no reason for these companies to prefer hiring Indians over others. TLDR: The abuse that you speak of is the end result of the racist per country limits from 1964.


>Others who favor eliminating the per-country ceiling contend that the current system discriminates against some foreign workers based on their country of origin, a characteristic they contend has little bearing on workers’ labor market contributions. Such proponents argue that the current system effectively ties immigrant workers to the employers that sponsor them for extended periods and invites potential exploitation. According to this perspective, employers who petition on behalf of prospective employment-based immigrants have disproportionate power over them. Because such employers can withdraw their petitions at will, they discourage foreign workers from negotiating for higher wages and/or improved working conditions.55 All else being equal, rational employers therefore benefit financially by sponsoring such workers who remain relatively immobile during their extensive waits to receive LPR status. Prospective immigrants who consider leaving their employers face the prospect of effectively forfeiting their pending employment-based immigrant petitions. If they cannot utilize another immigration pathway to remain in the United States, they must return to their home countries. In particular, Indian (and to a lesser extent Chinese and Filipino) nationals sit in much longer queues of pending employment-based petitions submitted to USCIS and visa applications to DOS than their counterparts from other countries.56 They consequently must wait the longest to obtain LPR status. Those who favor eliminating the per-country cap contend that such circumstances effectively encourage employers to sponsor prospective employment-based immigrants primarily from India.57 According to this perspective, de facto discrimination results on the basis of origin country, fostered partly by U.S. laws which otherwise prohibit most forms of labor market discrimination. The more that employers follow this hiring approach, the greater the queue of Indian prospective immigrants and the longer the waiting times for acquiring LPR status, creating a self-reinforcing cycle that may limit hiring of prospective employment-based immigrants from other countries. Proponents argue, therefore, that removing the per-country ceiling from employment-based immigrants would “level the playing field” by making immigrants from all countries more equally attractive to employers. If the per-country ceiling is eliminated and the current queue of pending petitions and visas is processed, proponents argue, employers would have no incentive to sponsor employment-based immigrants from any one country over others except based on conventional labor market criteria. As a result, waiting times for prospective employment-based immigrants to receive LPR status would ultimately equalize across countries of origin

> because of the predominant "fuck it" attitude: don't learn the customs, don't speak the language, don't put down roots, and don't interact with locals [...] when you bring in a junior software engineer's extended family, you're getting a swath of average people too

There isn't a huge amount of difference between what you're saying and what the previous president had to say on immigrants coming to the US - "when Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best". Which a lot of people find an extremely problematic perspective.

You're entitled to your opinion, but I find it a little ironic when your HN profile says you have:

> Love for all: LGBTQ+, BLM, poly, AGR, and misfits of the world unite.

What do you mean by "problematic" here? Is it like "sin?" Or maybe "shameful?" How should I read that?

Not acceptable within that person’s value system and virtues, which they’re signaling by calling it problematic. It’s an appeal to an imaginary Problematic Idea Authority that maintains a list of what people aren’t allowed to believe. When the commentary you dislike isn’t an exact fit for something readily indictable on the list, find something close that is on the list (bonus points if it involves a controversial figure), reduce and compare what’s said to that, then proceed with shooting down the proxy opinion regardless of whether your read of what the person was saying is accurate. It doesn’t matter.

Read it again. That’s precisely what happened, followed by clicking the person’s profile to move on to fundamentally shaming the person rather than the problematic idea. That’s a standard playbook in 2021 and it is absolutely not at all about what was actually said. It’s a mating dance for those with similar belief structures and the person being disagreed with is a passenger; the response is only marginally addressing the speaker.

This community can’t get enough of that conflict because the microcosm of people it represents themselves cannot. So it does well here. Other people peacock it, and before you know it, it’s our defining culture. It’s how talking about culture without disparaging other cultures gets risky, because of the pattern matching mechanic against a black and white list with no acknowledgment of grays. “You talked about race, therefore you’re racist” is increasingly logical to folks, and once that chum is in the water whatever point you may have had no longer matters.

> Read it again. That’s precisely what happened, followed by clicking the person’s profile to move on to fundamentally shaming the person rather than the problematic idea.

If this was about the groups in his profile, it wouldn't be acceptable. The only reason his comment is acceptable is because he is picking on an easy target.

It's the diplomatic synonym for "racist"/"classist"/"sexist"/etc. but it allows you to try to make the claim without having to do the work to specify the claim.

In this case, I think the commenter meant "xenophobic", based on the parallels to Trump's rhetoric.

What you’re saying doesn’t track. To folks who mount these cultural hills, racism, classism, and sexism are adjacent to murder in severity. There is no reason to be diplomatic with a person who has offered those ideas. Why would a diplomatic way of making that allegation be necessary?

The correct answer is that it’s a shibboleth to organize, and rally, like-minded people.

> To folks who mount these cultural hills, racism, classism, and sexism are adjacent to murder in severity.

If you're going to assume everyone who thinks those things are real problems believes something pretty much nobody actually believes, more power to you I guess? Seems problematic. By which I mean "intellectually dishonest", maybe a bit of posturing for likeminded people, maybe a shibboleth to organize and rally like-minded people.

> The correct answer is that it’s a shibboleth to organize, and rally, like-minded people.

Well, you've clearly already made up your mind.

I didn’t assume that nor say what you’re saying I did. You’re doing exactly what I just said to minimize what you’re interpreting as a personal attack. I said people who mount those cultural hills to fight upon them tend to calculate their values that way.

Fighting on social media is known to be pointless by most people. It is not the steady state of human nature. To keep doing it, and to do it passionately, the cause must be deemed important enough to consider throwing more shit into a pile of shit worthwhile within a limited lifespan, and that value calculus usually results in the moral framework I point out. It wasn’t even my main point; it was to counter the notion that these arguments pay any respect to civility or diplomacy (I mean, look even here).

Nobody worth listening to disagrees that those are extremely important issues within our societies. Some of us believe throwing bricks at each other in comments is counterproductive and don’t subscribe to partisan politics over real social issues. Calling someone’s views problematic, particularly when it’s a restating of their original point, is otherizing and is not a path to influencing people (roughly akin to “you’re on the wrong side” without explaining why).

Put it this way: one is either waging these cultural arguments to influence the viewpoint they find disagreeable or to remove that viewpoint from the discussion. There is no third option. If the approach is “that idea is problematic,” implicitly that tack supports concluding that the goal is removal, which undermines tackling those real social issues by driving the alternative opinion to darker corners where nobody is left to influence them in the direction you’re hoping.

Now look around in general and tell me I’m wrong.

The word "problematic" has a history.

The original examples:

1. The "Jewish Question" or "Jewish Problem" -- ideas from the then-intelligencia that led to the "Final Solution" of the Holocaust [1].

2. The "woman problem" (which had no similarly dramatic "solution") [2].

The current usage of "problematic" is an intentional "turning of the tables", an inversion of that previous use of language. The people who began this trend of inversion did so deliberately, knowing that they were playing with fire, since in the past those word-games had led to genocide.

A similar inversion of "ressentiment" [3] also happened. At one time it was used for antisemitic purposes; now you're more likely to see it wielded against Trumpists.

Over time, the weapons of one side can, and will, be appropriated by the other.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Question

[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_woman_question

[3] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ressentiment

Wonder how he got that idea:

> “Chiva,” his uncle said. Goat, the Mexican slang term for black tar heroin. “This is how we make our money.” Cora Indian campesinos grew the poppies in the mountains above Xalisco. They harvested the opium goo from the flowers and sold it to cookers whom Enrique’s uncles knew. A newly cooked kilo of vinegary, sticky chiva would head north in a boom box or a backpack within a couple days, virtually uncut, and often hit L.A. streets only a week after the goo was drawn from the poppy. As Enrique’s uncle spoke, he rolled little pieces of the gunk into balls the size of BBs.

"Dreamland" https://www.amazon.com/Dreamland-True-Americas-Opiate-Epidem...

so mexican people are bad because some guy wrote a book about a town where some mexican people sell drugs?

very scientific, thank you Hacker News

They setup an entire heroin network of Domino's like franchises spanning the US. Starting in LA, ultimately spreading all over the country by the early 2000s.

The heroin resurgence came on the back of enterprising Mexicans who took advantage of loose sentencing of small amounts and rampant Oxy addicts looking for alternatives.

> In two years, from 1995 to 1997, Boise’s minor market had a half-dozen crews selling heroin like pizza. But that wasn’t all. From the wiretaps, Ruplinger heard Polla call Phoenix, Ontario, El Monte, Salt Lake, Portland, Billings, Las Vegas, Honolulu. If Boise had a half dozen, how many crews must Denver have? What about Portland? Las Vegas? The heroin cells were like ants in a garden: You didn’t see them unless you got close enough and knew what to look for. Then, even when you stamped them out, more came to take their place.

> The heroin resurgence came on the back of enterprising Mexicans who took advantage of loose sentencing of small amounts and rampant Oxy addicts looking for alternatives.

Did anything bad ever come on the backs of enterprising Americans?

Is there any purpose of your comment other than to indict an entire country of people for the actions of a few?

Did Americans ever conduct a gun running operation into Mexico, is that a bad thing?

Yeah it’s bad and we should punish them.

That wasn't the argument. My mom died, I know others that died and I know the history behind it. It used to be truth seeking was important. There is truth to what Trump was saying.

At the time he made that statement the opiate epidemic was still in full swing. You can take the media narrative that it was racism, but 70k dead a year for the last decade requires a more nuanced look.

> It used to be truth seeking was important. There is truth to what Trump was saying.

No, there is no truth. I consider all the hardworking people, including Mexicans, who harvest my fruits and vegetables, do construction and landscaping labor, work in meat processing plants, and any other task “to be the best”.

How one can indict Mexico for the opiate problem rather than the pharmaceutical companies and doctors that rubber stamped it all and looked the other way is beyond me.

> How one can indict Mexico for the opiate problem

I never said this and neither did Trump. You should restate it to make sure you understand the real argument.

If you notice I mentioned Oxy. Everyone shares some of the blame.

Then what purpose does the statement “Mexico is not sending their best” and endorsing that as the truth serve?

Did you miss the entire parallel plot in that book about Purdue Pharma lying to pill mill doctors to get pain patients hooked on their "nonaddictive" opioid product? The Sackler family created the demand that those "enterprising" Mexicans fulfilled.

Of course not. I think the Sackler family should be drawn and quartered. Notice I mentioned Oxy addicts.


Exactly, these comments would result in bans if they were about black people instead of south asians.

You sound like the pinnacle of human quality. Glad that I don’t work with you...


This comment breaks the site guidelines. If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and sticking to the rules when posting here, we'd be grateful.

My bad.

How so?

There are swathes of Indians who consider it their responsibility to push back against any content that is critical of certain topics. Caste being one of them. Have a look at any of the past threads [1]

[1]: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

I figured that's what you meant, but I'd rather it just be said. It wasn't clear what you were trying to say.


Flamewar comments like this will get you banned here. It's one thing to share your experience, but name-calling, putdowns, and ideological denunciations are quite another, and not ok. Please don't vandalize HN threads like this again.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26435861.

Edit: actually, you've been doing so much of this that I've banned the account. Using HN primarily for ideological battle is obviously not ok, as anyone who's read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html should understand.

If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

I lived in Toronto for well over a decade. Perhaps this is a irreconcilable difference of opinion, but what you call a "globalist punching bag" is also affectionately called a melting pot. What you call a manufactured husk is also called diverse vibrant city. Beauty is in eye of the beholder, I guess.

Toronto has one of the best culinary scenes I've ever seen, and a lot of character if you know where to look ("little X" towns are microcosmos of their own)

I'm not sure if you're implying the city should belong to Caucasians, but as far a the "little ties" remark goes, I disagree. Lots and lots of international folks settle down permanently in the GTA and surrounding towns.


If I'm coming across as accusing you specifically of racism, I apologize, I did not construe your comment as such. FWIW, many "little X" towns in toronto are in fact caucasian...

You are entitled to your opinion and Trudeau to his, all I'm saying is that it's a bit callous to characterize a large number of people as "shallow" or buying into a meme (the thing about loving americanisms) on the same breath as claiming it's a quilt (the implication of which is that there are significant congregational, not-americanized bubbles).

One can also make negative remarks about Americans and their americanisms, there's no need to accuse subsets of other populations of doing things subsets of your own also do, as a crutch for a us-vs-them style of narrative. That's cherrypicking. In aggregate, people are more similar than they are different.

When I say torontonians got over differences, this is sort of what I mean: diversity isn't a driver of outrage narratives for us, just a fact of life.

> You are entitled to your opinion and Trudeau to his

If you’re referring to the point about Canada being a cultural mosaic, I don’t think this a Trudeauism. I recall learning that in high school 15 years ago. A quick google search leads to [1], which points to the term originating in the 1920’s.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_mosaic

I didn't mean it was a trudeauism, I literally meant he's entitled to subscribe to whatever idea he wants, just like anyone else. I was mostly speaking to the distinction (or lack thereof) between "melting pot" and "cultural mosaic". The bottom of your link summarizes this more explicitly:

> The "cultural mosaic" theory is not without critics. Some pundits, such as The Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Simpson and Carleton University journalism professor Andrew Cohen, have argued that the entire melting pot/mosaic dynamic is largely an imagined concept and that there remains little measurable evidence that American or Canadian immigrants as collective groups can be proven to be more or less "assimilated" or "multicultural" than each other.

My personal stance on this is that I do think there are some differences between american and canadian multiculturalism, but not enough to warrant making a pejorative distinction, and certainly not for the purpose of driving exclusionary us-vs-them narratives.

You insult a whole country, and call cities with millions of people as “soulless”.

And then you make a callous and hateful remark about how welcoming Canada’s. immigration policy.

Even if you don’t think it, you are absolutely a disgusting racist and an inveterate xenophobe.

> and a love for consuming mainly American media, American brands and American social issues.

Isn't Canada heavily subsidizing cultural products? Even with this massive artificial capital injection, why are people still not interested?

Seems only the French part of the country consumes it's own content.

I'm an American in Western Canada and I'd agree with this. Absolutely nothing I couldn't get in the US, save for Nanaimo Bars and Letterkenny, and you can get both if you're in a border state like WA or ND. There are Tim Horton's in the US (and they suck these days anyway).

The culture is basically the generic pseudo-leftist stuff you get via pop culture. They love their virtue signaling here, but most of the talking points aren't anything you couldn't get in any big, US city; hang out in Boston, Seattle, or NYC and you'll get the same thing. For all of the progressive talk Alberta is Snow Texas, the Prairie Provinces line up pretty well with Indiana or Kansas, and Ontario has it's own mini-Trump in the surviving Ford brother making it to the Provincial-leadership level.

In exchange for healthcare you've got a housing and business climate that's basically owned by either 1) Big Oil / Big Gas / Big Mining, or 2) Foreign firms. Housing costs are insane -- Vancouver is the most unaffordable city in N. America since, unlike SF, salaries didn't keep up with housing, and it's basically a place for Chinese / Russian / Indian / Saudi citizens to park money to get it out of their respective countries.

> nothing I couldn't get in the US, save for Nanaimo Bars and Letterkenny

And kinder eggs :)

As someone who spent several years in Toronto, several in San Francisco and grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I agree that there's a lot of similarities between US and Canada. The "uncomfortable truths" you listed sound accurate to me.

But aside from the 10,000 mile view, there's also a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that is hard to put into words, which is what I was referring to when I mentioned torontonians. Let me preface that it's not my intention to criticize anyone, but merely to try to explain a feeling. When we got to the US, we got a distinct impression that my wife described as americans being generally more "nosy" where a canadian might be more "laissez-faire".

To use the GP comment as an example, they seemed to be characterizing international families at costco as "insular and unwilling to mingle with locals". But for me as a torontonian, I'm well aware that, e.g. it's common for indians to have large tight-knit families. I don't feel the need to "judge" that grandparents living with you for extended periods of time does not conform to some predetermined idea of how one ought to "melt into the north american pot". Surely many americans also feel the way I do, but there are enough of those that are vocal enough about their distastes that it becomes a noticeable pattern even if it's a very subtle thing. (On a side note, I dislike the distinction between the "melting pot" term and the "quilt" term, despite "quilt" being a more accurate description of the canadian flavor of globalization, because "quilt" adds a pejorative connotation to the american flavor that I don't feel is necessarily warranted)

Paywalled content is effectively marketing spam, is it not?

Disable JS and read freely

Dear Dang and YC: as someone who has been admonished in the past for not walking over eggshells while criticizing CCP, I’m genuinely surprised at the unchecked vitriol that is allowed in this thread against Brahmins, IITs, Indians, their culture and so on.

Thank you!!

I disagree, while there are some unsavory comments, this thread is allowing sunlight into some bad aspects of the Indian-American subculture. We - I am Indian-American myself - need to be serious about such allegations and not get defensive.

I’m not at all being defensive, merely pointing to the double standards.

Again respectfully disagree. "double standards" is in the eye of the beholder. Barring some incendiary comments, this dialogue has been healthy & necessary.

My 2c.

Well, aren’t you making an assumption that my comments where I have been admonished were deserving and not similar in vein to the ones in this thread.

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