At the peace rally organized by the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), participants said that the caste discrimination legislation introduced, goes against the fundamental principles of equality and justice for all, regardless of their race, religion and ancestry.
A large number of Indian-Americans participated in a peaceful rally in California to register their protest against a democratic senator for introducing a bill in the state’s Senate seeking to explicitly ban caste-based discrimination. The bill was introduced in state legislature by State senator Aisha Wahab, the first Afghan American elected to the state legislature. If the bill gets passed, California, America’s most populous state, could also become the country’s first state to outlaw caste-based bias.
At the peace rally organized by the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), participants said that the legislation introduced goes against the fundamental principles of equality and justice for all, regardless of their race, religion and ancestry.
Holding posters and banners against the legislation, the protesters appealed to California lawmakers to not single out Hindus or presume that they are guilty of being oppressive simply due to their birth. Participants of the peaceful rally in front of Senator Wahab’s Office said that legislation SB-403 proposes to add ‘caste’ as a protected category in California.They said it is based on unproven and biased data that targets South Asians, along with other people of color such as those from the Japanese, African and South American communities.
“If passed, the bill violates the civil rights of South Asians and other people of color and denies them equal protection and due process,” CoHNA said. The bill was introduced exactly one month after Seattle became the first US city to outlaw caste discrimination after its local council passed a resolution moved by an Indian-American politician and economist, Kshama Sawant.
After the peace rally, nearly 100 people went to speak at Fremont City Hall to make their concerns heard.
After introducing the legislation last month, Wahab told reporters that the “historic legislation is about workers’ rights, women’s rights, queer rights, and civil rights”. “We want to ensure organizations and companies do not entrench caste discrimination in their practices or policies, and in order to do that we need to make it plainly clear that discrimination based on caste is against the law,” Wahab had said at a news conference in Sacramento, California.
Indian Americans are the second-largest immigrant group in the US. According to data from the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS), which is conducted by the US Census Bureau, there are 4.2 million people of Indian origin residing in the United States.
India banned caste discrimination in 1948 and enshrined that policy in the Constitution in 1950.