Caste in the USA, Episode 2: Dalit technologist Sam Cornelius on how casteism pervades tech world in India and US

'Caste In The USA' is a podcast series examining the pervasiveness of caste discrimination among Indians in the US, hosted by Equality Labs' Thenmozhi Soundararajan. This is Episode 2.

Thenmozhi Soundararajan November 03, 2020 13:18:20 IST
Caste in the USA, Episode 2: Dalit technologist Sam Cornelius on how casteism pervades tech world in India and US

Editor's note: Firstpost is holding a series of conversations with Indians in the US, across its campuses, offices and households, to understand how caste discrimination pervades the community just as much as it does back home in India. Hosted by Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Dalit rights activist, artist, technologist and executive director of Equality Labs, the podcast cracks taboos about caste among Indians in the US.

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In Episode 2:

Sam Cornelius is a Dalit technologist with years of experience working in multinational tech companies, both in India and in the US.

In this episode of the podcast, Thenmozhi Soundararajan (@dalitdiva) speaks to Sam about his experience of casteism, from IIT in Mumbai to large tech companies in the US.

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Listen to Caste in the USA, Episode 2 here:

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Read the complete transcript for Episode 2:

Thenmozhi Soundararajan: Jai Bhim and Jai Savitri, everyone. I am Thenmozhi Soundararajan, and this is the series Caste In the United States with Firstpost. Today’s episode is a conversation with our colleague Sam Cornelius, who is a long-standing Dalit technologist and Ambedkarite, who has several years of experience working in multinational tech companies, both in India and in the US. He is going to talk with us today about his experience of caste in tech and what are the ways forward to eradicate this discrimination in the industry.

Jai Bhim, Sam. It's wonderful to have you join us, welcome.

Sam Cornelius: Thank you Thenmozhi for giving me this opportunity

Thenmozhi: Let’s dig in, shall we? So when we talk about caste in tech, it is really important for our audience to understand where it begins. And I know for you Sam it really started with casteist educational institutions. You, for example, went to IIT Mumbai — where the defendants of the CISCO case also attended — and these institutes are notorious for their casteist cultures. Can you share your experiences?

Sam: Thank you for asking the question. As you know, in the US diaspora, the word ‘caste’ is not known among people. If you are non-Indian especially the word ‘caste’ is not known. So thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront and giving me this opportunity.

Yes, I did join IIT in the 1990s. I was surprised when I made it to the premier institute. It was a dream come true. When I joined IIT in my early teens, I was not aware of how the system works but now I understand how the system at that time was structured. In those days in IITs ragging was common, I am sure the practice still continues. On the first day of college, I had a feeling that the seniors who came to rag me knew my caste identity before I could decide whether I wanted to tell them or not. This became possible because when IIT brings out its ranks, students belonging to scheduled caste and tribes have separate ranks from general category students who get all-India ranks. So let’s say a general category student holds 1st, 2nd or 3rd position, their rank would be AIR 1, 2, or 3. Whereas in the case of a student who belongs to the scheduled castes or tribes and holds the 1st, 2nd or 3rd position, their rank would be SC 1, 2, or 3. Your roll number and rank is also put on the notice board and as a result, students, especially seniors, find out if you have come through the reservation.

Before IIT, I went to Osmania University, Hyderabad. There you had only one rank for all students, so I did not understand why IITs had to come up with different ranks just because they provide affirmative action. That I didn’t understand but it's step one of IIT where they already have, by their ranks, differentiated.

If I am not wrong, during those days even for answer sheets they used a different coloured answer sheet if you are from SC and ST category as opposed to non-SC and ST. At that time there was no OBC reservation but I am sure OBCs would come into the same thing now. So that’s where it starts from, which means, from the person who is correcting our answer sheets. When we asked them why different coloured sheets were used, they would reply by saying it makes things easy and cite many different reasons. So the different ranks and different coloured sheets, at the entry itself, ensure that you are discriminated against based on your caste.

Thenmozhi: So Sam, just so it is clear for our audience, Dalit students who are reservation or affirmative action beneficiaries, have the fact that they are affirmative action students very publicly broadcasted through these many different ways that you just talked about. Whether it is your attendance number or examination answer sheet, the public nature of you being marked as a reservation student opens up a pathway for so much bullying and discrimination. It's also partially because with that information being made public people can now know whom to segregate and discriminate against. Is that right?

Sam: Yes, based on your roll no. your rank is decided. In every IIT your roll no. and rank are put up on the notice board. An SC and ST student does not get an all Indian rank. When even writing entrance examinations, they also have different coloured answer sheets from general category students. I think the reason given to us for doing this was that it is done to give special consideration to Dalit students. I hope this practice does not happen today. I felt very odd amidst these practices. A coloured sheet may expose a student to a casteist professor who rather than being considerate may turn out to be biased.

As a Dalit I always tell people we don’t need your favors, what we need are checks and balances, that will prevent people from dominating us and we will run. Such checks and balances will ensure that there is no way for people to discriminate us, and in case there is discrimination they should be scared that the law will hold them accountable.

Till 12th standard, when I was living in Hyderabad, I had experienced no ragging. I used to go home, I was a day scholar. But in IIT I faced ragging for the first time. One evening my seniors came up to me and said: “Boss, I know who you are, so don’t try to fool me.” Upper caste students used different names to identify people belonging to scheduled castes and schedule tribes. Some of them would refer to us as ‘catus’ which was used to refer to students from a category. Others used to ‘suc-sut’ (ph) which is how they used to pronounce SC and ST. In front of us they would tell that these words mean something, but internally they used it to discuss, to identify people based on their caste.

Thenmozhi: And Sam, I think I want to emphasise for our listeners here that the IITs are where people of privilege have their caste capital get converted into tech capital. Whereas, for our community, we are going there to be able to have a better life, for ourselves and for our families. When entering these very hostile places we know, from the work of Ambedkar-Periyar study circles at IIT Madras and IIT Mumbai, how deeply casteist these institutions are.

We see complaints from both Dalit students, Dalit faculty and Dalit workers. In fact, in IIT Mumbai there was a professor called Rahul Deshmukh who had tortured and harassed two Dalit workers because they wanted to unionise. Their condition got so bad, that they tried to commit suicide on his doorstep. One of the things that they mentioned in their letter was how he told them, “this institute is not for Mahars and Bhangis, how dare you unionise, get out of here!” These things are reported in mainstream news but due to the impunity related to caste we know nothing will happen to the perpetrator of such atrocity. As a result, people who are of caste privilege just get bigger and bolder. The CISCO defendants who also went to IIT Mumbai, entered this environment where dominant caste people are kind of puffed up, where they get to talk about their bootstrap’s narrative which says - look we are just here because of merit. These same people then go on to create casteist alumnus networks that lead to them being part of internal referral networks into companies. Sam, can you talk a little about how these casteist schools led to casteist companies in the valley and throughout tech?

Sam: I just want to say something here on the topic of suicides. As I was telling you from the moment you enter IIT, along with the students the professors know you are from the caste category. Once you have identified at the age of 18 or 19, you are out of their closed groups. So you feel isolated, a little bit. There are also no checks and balances to ensure that the professors are grading Dalit students fairly. Many Dalit students come from non-english speaking background but they may still perform well in exams. I have travelled across IITs and spoken to people, there is no SC/ST cell in any IIT, where students could seek help from a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe professor.

In fact, there is no representation of scheduled caste and scheduled caste professors at all, and this might at the root of all discrimination. All faculty advisors are professors from the general category, who don’t understand our problems and we can’t tell our problems to them easily. Many students feel that if they complain these professors will think that despite getting concessions at the entry level they still want more concessions. So this leads to isolation. In case you are getting low grades, there is no support system that can bring these issues up which leads to more feelings of isolation. In my second year in IIT, there was a scheduled caste girl who burnt herself in her hostel. If you look at the statistic there is at least one case of suicide in all B-Tech undergrad courses across all IITs. In this if you include other premier institutes like AIIMS, NIIT you would have at least five suicides per year.

The cream of our society don’t just enter tech industries but they also travel to different parts of the world. So it is in the interest of the country to have to know what caste discrimination is and ensure that every SC and ST person who enters their company scales up too. Most MNCs in India and abroad are headed by upper caste individuals. Since the issue of caste based discrimination is not addressed in premier institutes it travels across the world.

When I was young I did not understand that I am not just a student but a representative of my community. There are only a few seats that are reserved for the SC and ST community, so when you get a seat because of your marks and skills, you no long remain just Sam but you become a representative of the entire community. So they bring down the whole community when they bring down Sam. And if one Sam commits suicide, the whole community also loses. If there is 15 percent reservation for scheduled castes and 7.5 percent reservation for scheduled tribes, even those minimum seats were not filled till 2015. This is only students, at the level of professors and others you will hardly find that there is even 1 percent of the seats in IITs, IIMs and AIIMS filled by professors belonging to the scheduled castes. So that same thing of discrimination because nobody has exposed it or nobody feels that they are doing anything wrong travels across institutes and then further it spreads to the companies that they get into.

And from companies it travels to different countries. In the US too they come with this mentality that that government has done a big favor by providing scheduled castes’ and tribe’s reservation in the constitution. And their story ends there. So now a Dalit has to fight his way out.

Thenmozhi: If I can jump in here because I think it is very clear that there is a deep level of pain that our communities face when they go into such deeply casteist institutes. And it is very clear from the things that you are sharing with us that it is systemic. There are no checks and balances. Dalits who persevered through this very violent environment, had probably hoped that after leaving casteist schools that they would enter workplaces that were less casteist. But what we are finding, particularly with the CISCO lawsuit, is that these workplaces are also deeply casteist. And I am wondering if you could speak a little bit, I know it is painful, about the nature of challenges caste oppressed employees face in hostile tech workplaces.

Sam: That’s a very good question. The CISCO case that you mentioned surprised us all. The case was not filed by the company itself but the employee with help of the organisation that looks into these matters filed the case. Which means it took some time for the employee to bring the matter to light. If you look at the US particularly, 99 percent of non-Indian don't know what caste is. It is surprising because they have been employing millions of Indians for more than 20+ years, and they still don't know what caste is. And it's not just employees or citizens but even companies are not aware.

Thenmozhi: I mean Sam, let’s just be clear, there is a failure of duty of care by these companies to hire, work and serve huge populations of South Asians and for them to not have the basic competency related to caste. That’s a failure on them and they are going to be taken to task about it. And this lawsuit is really just the tip of the iceberg around it. But again I think that knowingly they have hired hundreds of thousands of Indians into their workplaces but their HR departments don’t have caste as a protective category. Their HR, Diversity and Inclusion team members don’t understand caste. Which has created a situation where there is a lot of caste based discrimination at the workplace. And so I am just wondering, knowing these tense situations, particularly what have you experienced? If you could speak to some of the ways in which Dalits have to hide their identity and things like a Tam-Brahm pact. What are some of the conditions that get created for Dalits in the workplace?

Sam: I have worked for top MNCs, who have offices both in India and outside. Their HR documents mention that you cannot discriminate against employees based on their race, gender or country of origin. The HR policy in India, too, doesn’t mention that you cannot discriminate based on caste. When I approached the HR regarding this situation, they mentioned they did it to ensure consistency across HR policies in different countries. So one would think that then you should mention caste-based discrimination in your HR policy wherever you are employing Indians. Wherever Indians go, their caste goes with them.

So even in the CISCO case, they have been taking this protection that in their HR policy caste-based discrimination is not mentioned. Again, when I came to the US for the first time in my early 20s, at that time, there were groups that were brought from premier institutes to the US. They have their own networks. Sometimes there is no easy way of identifying someone’s caste. Even though in the majority of the cases you can tell if someone is a category student or not by their surname but in a few cases it is difficult. In those special cases, other ways are employed to find out your caste. They would call you to different pujas and based on your reaction, they would try to guess your caste. If you say you are not interested in pujas, that gives it away. They would ask questions like are you vegetarian and if you say yes I am vegetarian, they will ask are you vegetarian by birth or by choice. So they try to find out your caste in one way or the other. If you are a male adult, they would call you for a ceremony called Rasvim or they will pat your back to find out if you are wearing the white thread or not. The white thread is worn by upper castes, primarily Brahmins. So if you are not wearing a white thread, they would know that you are not from an upper caste group.

They are very connected in their groups and in MNCs, everything is driven by networks. If one person knows that you are not an upper-caste man before I even drive and reach my home in one hour the message has reached the entire network. Now, because US folks are not aware of caste, there are no checks and balances to prevent discrimination. One of the ways in which I got impacted was that in all MNCs there is an appraisal system that happens every year. Now if you ask anyone working in an MNC, they will tell you that appraisals are a big thing and that everybody works their butt off to get a good appraisal rating that defines everything. Your salary increments are decided by your appraisal ratings and your promotion is based on your appraisal rating. Your progression is defined by your salary ratings. If you are off-shore in India, whether you can travel on-site or not is determined by that appraisal rating.

So when I came here to the US, we had a meeting with a client who was very eager to know about caste. He said that he had been reading a lot about caste in India and found out that it was a big challenge in India, so he asked: “You guys are here in the US, what is your take on caste?” So my upper-caste bosses - mostly in all MNCs if they are headed by Indians, the top positions are occupied by upper castes, you would rarely find a Dalit - in that meeting, my boss, as has been the tradition since the time we graduated from premier institutes, so they still feel that caste system is not a bad thing. He started saying in the meeting to the client: “Look in the olden days there was this great thing called the caste system. Society was divided, the Brahmins were like the managers and they used to strategise, below them are Kshtrayis who protected society from outside attack. After them, there were Vaishyas who were looking at all money matters and finally, there was the Shudra who provided their services to all the classes. So it was a wonderful system. It was after the British came that divisions started to fester in the country. If given a choice I would like to go back to the old India when we were called Golden India.” After listening for two or three minutes, I could not take it, and I jumped in and said, “look, because you are a Brahmin or an upper-caste person you may like it but if you ask any lower-caste person they would call the caste system monstrous. Caste has ruined everything they have got, including their human dignity. They have been discriminated against and they have not been given access to education, they were not given access to money, making jobs, they were not given access to the UN. If you take any newspaper, even today, Dalits are facing atrocities and rapes in the name of caste. And these atrocities have been recognised by the constitution of India. There are very strong laws against caste-based discrimination and a lot of work is happening to annihilate caste. So if you think caste is good, then it is only good for the top 3 percent or 5 percent but not for the entire society. So that's my take.”

Suddenly everybody got silent. They couldn’t understand why I would say that. In one sense, they felt that probably I am lowering the status of India. When I spoke against casteism they thought I was talking against India. The upper caste bosses, in their looks, I could feel basically they got hurt because they think the caste system is their heritage and great tradition in which I am trying to find faults in and giving the wrong impression to a non-Indian. In reality, they still think that caste is good for society so anyone talking against the caste system is a no-no to them.

After that meeting within a month there was an appraisal - and as I had mentioned your appraisal drives everything - and even though nothing about my work had changed from the previous year when I got the highest rating. I was engaging with the same clients and the same level of delivery yet my rank fell two-levels below the rank I had received in the previous year. I could not understand this, and so I reached out to some people because the ratings are not given by only one person but a set of people together and they discuss. I asked on such person who participated in the ranking and asked him what had happened, he told me that I didn’t deserve the rank which I got but a few people in the office insisted that my rank be brought down. These were some people who were there with me in the meeting where I had spoken out against the caste system.

After the rating fell down, I was told that I might be asked to leave the US and move offshore in India where I was needed more. So literally I can see there was no other reason for this decision besides me coming out so strongly against the caste system and exposing myself to caste bias. Because of my degree and experience, I did not have a problem getting another job in India. So I moved to India for three months but there were people who said why didn’t you complain but it is very difficult because it was a hunch, I cannot prove anything. I could have filed a complaint on the ground that despite good performance I was given a lower ranking but the caste angle would have been difficult to prove. Eventually, I left the job in India because I got a job offer from the US and I had to move back to the US for my children’s education. But yes, that is one instance where it clearly came out how caste could impact.

Thenmozhi: This is so great Sam that you were brave enough to stand up to this nonsense, particularly, because it is such a dominant caste point of view, to see from a place of privilege, that caste bring stability. But of course for those of us who are caste oppressed, that stability for the privileged is bought at the cost of our community’s lives. I have heard so many people in the diaspora make this argument and it is tone-deaf and violent. Can you imagine people justifying another system of violence like slavery or apartheid simply for its stability? It's so offensive. I also want to ask Sam, how difficult was it to even think about going to HR? As in, what is the general difficulty our people have when reporting caste discrimination in tech workspaces? And I am wondering if you could even go into what your own consideration was in deciding not to report?

Sam: That is a very good point which you have brought. A factor that people generally don’t acknowledge is immigration status. For somebody who is on a work visa here, especially those who have their kids in schools. In this situation, it is not about me making money or not, it's like the kids who have done all their education here suddenly they have to shift to the education in India where you have to study the regional language and the system of education is very different. In India, you have to mug things and write and here you are trained to do things instead. So it becomes very difficult for the children to adjust. This was also the biggest consideration as a parent when a company suddenly asks you to move back to India. So that was the biggest thing on my mind.

Therefore, keeping my children in mind, I had to think about how to come back as soon as possible. H1 visa lets you work in the US for six years in case you have filed for a green card, and if you have a green card then you can stay as long as you want. The biggest thing on my mind at that time was that my company had to apply for my green card, that is what I was promised when I came to the US. So the biggest concern on my mind when I had to leave my previous company was this because I thought I would be in the US until at least my kids’ education finishes. But for me my kids were in middle school and high school, and so it was of critical importance that the kids’ education does not get impacted. Fortunately for me, I applied to a US-based company and I came back.

In case I went to HR, they would have probably probed the case from the angle that despite doing well, I was given poor ranking. They would have not looked from the caste point of view as I had mentioned earlier in the HR policy, they don’t recognise caste-based discrimination. Secondly, I could not have proved with evidence that what happened was as a result of caste, which would have become very difficult for me. If I fought the case, I would have probably been able to increase my rating by one level, based on my performance. But fighting the case from a caste angle, it would have been almost impossible, especially in the US. Even in India it is difficult, I have not heard of a CISCO-like case in any MNC in India. First, caste-based discrimination is not mentioned in HR policies in India. If someone manages to file a complaint against caste discrimination they would find it difficult to prove, even if he manages to prove they would try to close it at the company HR level itself. As we frequently read in Indian newspapers that if a Dalit person filed against rape, the accused seldom goes to jail but the person who complains is put in jail. The same could have happened here. In case I filed a complaint against caste-based discrimination, probably the guy I complained against might get a promotion while I may get a demotion or my career maybe even go for a toss if I am exposed. So that is another fear.

Thenmozhi: Sam, I think this is so important that again, even the category of the H1B visa was actually created to prevent organising for a just workplace within tech. So the H1B visa creates a very particular condition where even if you are motivated and are a powerful activist like you are Sam, the reality is because of tension in your workplace, you are not just threatened of losing a job, you are actually also having to deal with the threat of losing your immigration status. That really is a cost too heavy for many Dalits and other caste oppressed Americans to bear because, again, like you said, many people in our community are first-generation earners, we are the first generation immigrants into the United States. And we are not just representing ourselves but we are actually supporting an entire network of families. That pressure and tension is a lot to bear. That is also why we have heard from many, many Dalits since the CISCO case came out Equality Labs has got over 250 rapid responses, emergency complaints from people who were saying they cannot raise this issue at their workplace. We want to be able to have our stories told. I think the CISCO case is really the tip of the iceberg because of how bad the conditions are and Dalits can speak out and we are determined to basically flank the CISCO case to make sure that John Doe gets his time in court. But we also want to be clear that it is not our job to solve hostile workplaces; it is the duty of care of these companies.

You have to really look at that fact when you are looking at companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google these are corporations that not only employ hundreds of thousands of Indians both in India and in the US but they also are desperately clawing their way to try to dominate the Indian and South Asian market, because keep in mind one in four people in the world are South Asian, one in six are Indian. So everything about the future of profits of these companies are based upon how well they do in our markets. If they cannot do the very basic diligence they need to do to protect caste-oppressed employees and caste oppressed users of their companies’ products, well, they are going to reap the whirlwind, because Dalits are not going to stay silent while they create oppressive content that dominates their platform, and create conditions that are violent for our people on the inside. Everything you have said Sam, anyone, any person who has consciously listened to your story, their blood is going to boil. You should not have to take casteist language from someone who is your supervisor. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting demoted or getting challenged on the work front simply because you are telling the facts and they are telling their caste bigotry, then they are shaming you for so-called shaming India.

They themselves should carry the burden of this shame because it's not the burden of Dalits to talk and break the silence about this issue anymore. It's now time for people who are benefiting from these networks of privilege to really take on this problem and take it on wholeheartedly because, to be honest, when caste exists at this level, everyone suffers. We need to do better as a society because we are facing so many different problems collectively. Anytime we diminish such a huge group of people the way that we diminish caste oppressed peoples, we are losing one of the most powerful resources that we have, which is each other. It is really time to put an end to and annihilate caste just like Dr. Ambedkar did. We are coming to the end of this podcast but Sam I want you to give the last words. You are such an incredible role model for many Dalits in diaspora both in terms of your activism, your technical prowess, but also your role as an inspiring father. I am wondering for our listeners out there what the last request you have in terms of people working together to stop this problem.

Sam: This issue is close to my heart. I am doing what I can do in my limited capacity. In the professional environment I have to be careful, and avoid sounding pro-Ambedkar or pro any of our other icons as doing so might hurt me professionally. First thing I would advise anybody who is doing activism to go among the people but in the professional environment, I think people on the top, the upper castes, are still not so progressive that they will understand where you are coming from. They may think you are attacking their traditions. So I would say the best thing you can do in the professional environment is be the best. If you become the best at what you are doing your company cannot leave you. So just be your best and then go and educate the masses. Go outside your professional environment and do ten times more than what you are doing now. There are very few people, probably 100,000 people, at the top jobs so if one Dalit loses his job more than the person and his family, the community gets impacted. Keep the bigger picture in mind.

To my upper caste friends, I would say you have to be understanding that if you are not going for annihilation of caste, you are doing harm to yourselves also, and definitely to the country. The whole country is going to lose if you think that caste is not a big problem and if you restrict your understanding of caste to only reservation. If you end the reservation, the caste system will end. Caste system is the root disease and not reservation. Reservation is only the medicine that was brought in to cure the disease or annihilate the caste at a certain point. We have to work together to make a caste-free India and a caste-free world. You might have to do a little more to annihilate caste from this world sooner than later. We are not asking for favors, we are asking for what any human being deserves which is a society where the checks and balances are put in such a way that there is no way that people can discriminate on the basis of caste. Give value to the work we are doing. Give us a workplace that is safe from caste-based discrimination. Look at our diversity proportion and reflect if this diversity is reflected in all fields. Just like today we are thinking about gender representation we also have to think about caste representation. Dalits comprise 15 percent of the population, OBCs are 52 percent of our population and scheduled tribes make up 8 percent of the population, is this diversity reflected in your bodies? Even though Brahmins in our country are a numerical minority they occupy 90 percent of all sea- shoot (ph) positions.

Corporations which only focus on the stories of upper caste Indians and refuse to encourage participation from larger society, you will not capture the Indian market as you will miss 90 percent of the population. They need to stop looking at India from the lens of Brahmins and start looking at the country through the lens of those who comprise 90 percent of this country’s population. Organisations must ask themselves if they are approaching the Indian market with a team that is truly diverse.

And my Jai Bhim salute to you. Mari, Thenmozhi and you guys are doing such a wonderful job, and the whole of your team. My best wishes to you. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. Thank you!

Thenmozhi: No, absolutely Sam. I mean, the thing is, we are all in this together. We are all here as Dalit in the diaspora holding the line and the only thing that I would add to Sam’s wonderful comments is that what’s really important, is that too often dominant caste people act as if Dalits are coming with a begging bowl when we are asking for our rights. And I just want to make it clear to people that we are not asking for anything. We just want you guys to stop acting out of privilege. Stop exploiting and stop discriminating against us and behave as proper human beings. The reality is that we have to take structural measures to ensure our equity because of how powerful, complicit and unbearable caste hegemony is in all these institutions. Sam shared a testimony of how a young woman from our community set fire to herself in a casteist educational institution. If the conditions are this bad, we need to do something differently as a society and that is really the call to action we had hoped to inspire with the Caste in the United States survey. I think with the CISCO case, we have such a huge opportunity in the United States to really lead the front of this conversation in a market where dominant castes are not in power. One thing that I have said interview after interview is that we need to credit the State of California for doing something that the Indian government has not done for decades, which is to ensure and have a very public debate about question of caste discrimination in workplaces and other American institutions.

So if the CISCO case continues and there is a win, it will be a win not just for John Doe but it will be a critical step towards adding caste as a protective category which we need in all of American institutions. Then also a call for action for all these corporations to begin to build their caste competency. They can start by training HR departments and managers, what caste is and how to spot caste discrimination and to basically move forward to creating inter-caste work places with equity. Some of the stuff that Sam mentioned, which includes stopping the violence - which doesn’t go far enough when we know these companies have done very deep investments for diversity and inclusion measures that also include scholarships, coaching and pathways of progress for those who are from other minority backgrounds. At this point we need to see those same investments for caste oppressed people because the time is now. And as Sam said, this is also proper business sense because if you want to capture the next billion users, the next billion users in South Asia are actually caste oppressed. So it is best to actually have caste oppressed technologists to shape that agenda, to be able to drive collaborations with our community so that we can wise all boats. I leave folks with these thoughts.

I want to thank everyone for participating. Sam, thank you again for joining us and all our listeners for tuning in. We hope to see you in our next episode and until then, Jai Bhim.

(Transcription by Pritha Bhattacharya)

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