California governor vetoes bill to ban caste discrimination

Oct 7 (Reuters) – California Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday Banned A bill recently passed by the state legislature to ban caste discrimination said there was no need for a separate law because existing laws already prohibited caste discrimination.

Had Newsom signed the bill, California would have become the first U.S. state to explicitly ban racial discrimination. Newsom’s veto was a major setback for activists who had advocated for the legislation.

US discrimination laws prohibit race discrimination, although they do not expressly mention caste. California’s law targeted the caste system in South Asian and Hindu immigrant communities and added caste as a protected class to the state’s existing anti-discrimination laws.

Bill introduced And Democratic state Sen. Ayesha Wahab, an Afghan American, wrote in March. Its earlier version was subject to amendments in the state Senate.

The amended version, which lists caste under “ancestry” and not as a separate category, was passed by the California state legislature. In late August and passed unanimously in early September by the state Senate.

The bill defined caste as “an individual’s perceived position in the social stratification system based on hereditary status”.

Activists against caste discrimination have argued that it is no different from other forms of discrimination, such as racism, and should therefore be outlawed. Opponents of the bill in California said that since US laws already prohibit caste discrimination, this type of law would be pointless and only serve to tar an entire community, mostly Hindus and South Asians, with a broad brush.

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Before Newsom’s veto, the movement to fight the caste system in North America had gained momentum in recent months.

Earlier this year, Seattle did First American city Outlawing caste discrimination after city council vote and transition to Toronto’s school board First in Canada Caste discrimination in urban schools should be recognized.

Just last month, Fresno became the second US city in California Caste discrimination should be banned After a unanimous city council vote.

The issue is especially important for Indian-Americans and Hindus. As more Indians and South Asians have migrated to America, especially to California and Silicon Valley, some of America’s biggest tech companies have also had to face the issue of caste discrimination.

A number of U.S. tech companies are also headed by Indian-origin CEOs such as Alphabet ( GOOGL.O ) CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft ( MSFT.O ) CEO Satya Nadella and IBM ( IBM.N ) CEO Arvind Krishna.

The caste system One of the world’s oldest forms of rigid social stratification. It dates back thousands of years and allows many privileges to the upper castes but suppresses the lower castes. The Dalit community is at the very bottom of the Hindu caste system; Members are treated as “untouchables”.

India outlawed caste discrimination more than 70 years ago, but several studies in recent years have shown that discrimination persists. A study People from lower castes are underrepresented in higher paying jobs.

Dalits still face widespread abuse across India, where their attempts at upward social mobility have sometimes been violently repressed.

The debate on the caste system in India and abroad is controversial and intertwined with religion. Some discrimination is now rare, especially outside India. The Indian government’s policy of reserving seats for students from lower castes in top Indian universities has helped many tech jobs in the West in recent years.

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Kanishka Singh reports in Washington; Editing by Grant McCool

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Kanishka Singh is a key news correspondent for Reuters in Washington, DC, primarily covering US politics and national affairs in her current role. His past breaking news coverage spans topics as diverse as the Black Lives Matter movement; US elections; 2021 Capitol riots and their follow-up investigations; Brexit deal; US-China trade tensions; NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan; the covid-19 pandemic; And a 2019 Supreme Court ruling on a religious dispute site in his native India.

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