India’s engineers and its caste system thrive in Silicon Valley: Report

US tech industry’s reliance on Indian engineers allows discrimination to fester, says the Washington Post.

India’s engineers have thrived in Silicon Valley. So has its caste system as tech companies don’t understand caste bias and haven’t explicitly prohibited caste-based discrimination, suggests a US media report.

Amid debates about meritocracy in the tech industry dominated by White and Asian men, its reliance on Indian engineers allowed another type of discrimination to fester, the Washington Post reported citing engineers and advocates of the lowest-ranked castes.

And US employers aren’t equipped to address it, according to Dalit engineers like Benjamin Kaila, a database administrator who immigrated from India to the United States in 1999, cited by the Post.

Dalits are members of the lowest-ranked castes within India’s system of social hierarchy.

The legacy of discrimination from the Indian caste system is rarely discussed as a factor in Silicon Valley’s persistent diversity problems, the Post said.

RELATED: Cisco sued in California over caste-based discrimination against Indian American Dalit employee (July 1, 2020)

Decades of tech industry labor practices, such as recruiting candidates from a small cohort of top schools or relying on the H-1B visa system for highly skilled workers, have shaped the racial demographics of its technical workforce, it said.

Despite that fact, Dalit engineers and advocates cited by the Post say that tech companies don’t understand caste bias and have not explicitly prohibited caste-based discrimination.

In recent years, however, the Dalit rights movement has grown increasingly global, including advocating for change in corporate America.

In June, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a landmark suit against Cisco and two of its former engineering managers, both upper-caste Indians, for discriminating against a Dalit engineer.

After the lawsuit was announced, Equality Labs, a nonprofit advocacy group for Dalit rights, received complaints about caste bias from nearly 260 US tech workers in three weeks, reported through the group’s website or in emails to individual staffers.

The highest number of claims were from workers at Facebook (33), followed by Cisco (24), Google (20), Microsoft (18), IBM (17) and Amazon (14). The companies all said they don’t tolerate discrimination.

And a group of 30 female Indian engineers who are members of the Dalit caste and work for Google, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco and other tech companies told the Washington Post in a statement  they have faced caste bias inside the US tech sector.

The tech industry has grown increasingly dependent on Indian workers. According to the State Department, the United States has issued more than 1.7 million H-1B visas since 2009, 65 percent of which have gone to people of Indian nationality.

Close to 70 percent of H-1B visa holders work in the tech industry, up from less than 40 percent in 2003, says David J. Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, cited by the Post.

In 2003, only 1.5 percent of Indian immigrants in the US were Dalits or members of the lower-ranked castes, according to, Devesh Kapur, a professor of South Asian studies at Johns Hopkins University cited by the Post.

“Just like racism, casteism is alive in America and in the tech sector,” Seattle-based Microsoft engineer Raghav Kaushik, who was born into a dominant caste but who has been involved in advocacy work for years was quoted as saying.

“What is happening at Cisco is not a one-off thing; it’s indicative of a much larger phenomenon.”

In a statement to the Post, Cisco claimed it was “fully in compliance with all laws as well as our own policies” and “will vigorously defend itself against the allegations made in this complaint.”

The Post said internal Microsoft emails from 2006 obtained by it indicate that caste bias is a long-standing problem within the industry.

Recent discussion threads about the Cisco case on the anonymous app Blind show tech workers raising the same questions about Dalit engineers in 2020.

The consequences of being identified as Dalit can also lead to social exclusion by co-workers, even outside the office, the Post said.

One engineer and former contractor for Cisco told the Post he was temporarily removed from a WhatsApp group with other Cisco workers after sharing a news story critical of Brahmin supremacy.

Indian engineers cited by the newspaper said they did not always trust that Americans would comprehend the power dynamics underlying caste oppression.

6 Comments

  1. Brahmins who want to practice Brahminism should go back to India

  2. United States of America is a great country with Equal Employment Opportunity. Yes, there is a fraction of discrimination which might be 10% out of 100%. I focus on 90% and that is where my American Dream came true. In respect to Benjamin Kaila and others who so called Dalit themselves is better to call being human in free world rather than Dalit. Benjamin Kaila is converted Christian by keeping his last name. Once you convert the religion, you are no more Dalit.
    The card of race & caste system is always played to get attention & privileges without qualification & working hard. This Dalit have more than 51% reservation back India and enjoying this status for last 70 years but still complains that they are left behind. They want to play the same card of race & caste system in USA so that they get reservation in jobs without Interview or meritocracy.
    USA is a land of free & brave and gives opportunity to prove yourself based on your own strength and merits. If they cannot compete in this competitive world then they shouldn’t be in USA at the first place. We Indians understand very well what caste system has done in India and what damage it has caused.

    I take the pride to been inn USA, that this country will not allow this kind of cheap publicity in the name of Dalit.

    There are 2 sides of coins and Benjamin Kaila is only playing trumpet on one side of it where he is hiding other side of it.

    There is no place for a person with a Dalit mentality in this country.

    • Well Sam. It looks like you are one of the modi-bakt or a brahmin who doesn’t have any brain to comprehend.

      Instead of talking about the real issues you are talking about irrelevant religious things. This shows who really you are. Go back to your country, India where you belong to. We don’t want useless casteist in USA

  3. Yo Mama Sux Cok

    indians are shitty third world bums deprived of basic human decency and should be prohibited from entering the USA. they take their horrid caste discrimination everywhere they go. Shame on them, kick them all out NOW, the stinky pukey bastards and all their underhand dealings

    • What Sam is saying is 100% true. Dalits have had reservation in India for the last 70 years. These guys form a less percentage when immigrating to US because more than 50% of government jobs are reserved for them in India. They have good employment chances in India and that is the reason they are less in numbers in the USA. They love to play the victim card. Google Cases like Devyani Khobragade that lady is a dalit and her family has enjoyed generational reservation.

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