The Google episode shows the right-wing vision of unity is exclusionary. But this vision is increasingly being challenged in the United States and beyond.
On 9 May 1916, a young BR Ambedkar presented a paper at Colombia University in the United States titled Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development. He referred to caste as a “local problem, but one capable of much wider mischief”. He wrote, “…if Hindus migrate to other regions on earth, Indian caste would become a world problem.”
More than a century later, as one of the biggest corporations, Google, battles allegations of caste discrimination in the United States, the predictive value of Ambedkar’s words is evident. Recently, Google News cancelled a scheduled talk by Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the founder and executive director of Equality Labs, after many Google employees (of Indian origin or Indians) opposed it. The discussion was supposed to mark Dalit Equality Month, celebrated every April to mark the month Ambedkar, the first law minister of independent India and its leading anti-caste activist, was born. Equality Labs is a leading non-profit group in the United States that advocates Dalit rights. According to its 2016 survey, a third of Hindu students in the United States reported experiencing caste discrimination.
Thenmozhi was subjected to an organised campaign led by a section of Google employees, who called her “Hindu-phobic” and “anti-Hindu”. The name-calling went on in emails her opponents sent to company bosses and documents they posted on a mailing list that thousands of Indian employees access.
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