Lesson 3: Topic 11 of 14
We need to note that Dalits are roughly 70% of India’s population, whose many ethnic groups include divisions named Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Castes. Attempts to legally elevate these historically oppressed groups remain highly controversial. The remaining 30% identify themselves as in the General Category of caste divisions, with Brahmins holding the highest caste designation.
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Even in the United States, caste follows Indian immigrants. The majority of newcomers from India are high caste Brahmins, leaving immigrants who are lower caste and untouchables to navigate relationships with great care. For example, roughly one fourth of U.S. tech workers are Indian, mostly upper caste. A 2022 article by Wired details the difficulties faced by Dalit employees in the Silicon Valley tech sector. The featured interviewee, a high-ranking Facebook engineer and Dalit, felt that he did not dare reveal his identity in the article. He spoke of the difficulty faced by Dalits employed along with other Indians. “As long as they don’t disclose (their caste identity), they won’t be discriminated against and enjoy the same status as others.”
Caste is an ancient cultural and social construct that impacts everything about life for those in it.