Is It Now Time to Go Caste-less in Seattle?

On February 21, Seattle turned the primary metropolis outdoors South Asia to formally acknowledge “caste” as a type of discrimination. The ordinance accredited by the Seattle Metropolis Council provides “caste” as an anti-discrimination class together with race, faith and gender. Simply as with the latter, it bans caste-based biases and discrimination in public settings, together with housing and employment.

Is caste related within the US?

A number of folks have argued that discrimination on the premise of caste exists, together with in refined kinds, in elements of the economic system just like the IT business. The truth that the ordinance has been handed in Seattle – dwelling to Microsoft, Amazon and a bunch of different main tech corporations – hasn’t gone unnoticed. It’s no secret that the IT business is dominated by employees of South Asian origin. 

Based on a non-profit group referred to as the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Research, Asians, together with South Asians, maintain 40.5% of technical roles in Silicon Valley’s high 20 firms. Furthermore, the CEOs of a few of the largest IT corporations are of Indian origin. Utilizing knowledge from the American Group Survey offered by the US Census Bureau, they present that within the IT hubs of Santa Clara and San Mateo county in California, in 2021, 27% of the workforce within the IT business was from India. 

Caste is a South Asian phenomenon. Subsequently, if one have been to be involved about its destructive penalties, it will be in sectors of the economic system the place South Asians are current in giant numbers. This has sparked a debate, particularly among the many Indian diaspora within the US and elsewhere on the relevance of such a legislation. In truth, Seattle is simply the take a look at case. Comparable laws could observe elsewhere.

Curiously, earlier than we lay out the professionals and cons related to this debate it’s value offering some proof about cultural transmission and immigrants. Economists have argued that immigrants usually convey with them the tradition of their dwelling nations. In a paper revealed within the Journal of Political Financial system in 2007, Ray Fisman and Ed Miguel present that diplomats stationed in New York Metropolis from extra corrupt nations have considerably extra parking violations than their counterparts from much less corrupt nations. Comparable variations have additionally been documented in math efficiency in faculties by youngsters of immigrants from completely different nations relying on the maths coaching within the dwelling nation. In different phrases, cultural transmission of habits is thought to occur amongst immigrants.

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Going again to the caste debate, proponents of the legislation argue that at the moment victims of caste bias within the US don’t have any authorized recourse in opposition to employers or co-workers participating in such discrimination. These not in favor argue that there isn’t any necessity for such a legislation since caste discrimination is just not there within the US. If something, it makes caste salient and drags it again into the lives of people that left India to flee it. There are additionally some who say that an specific legislation banning caste-based discrimination can be finally counterproductive if it discourages employers from hiring South Asians. Most employers wouldn’t even pay attention to it, given the absence of actual knowledge or analysis pointing to widespread caste-based discrimination within the US.

Discrimination in a fast-moving world

In inspecting the lately handed legislation, one should first perceive what discrimination is. Suppose, we put folks into completely different teams based mostly both on some observable or unobservable traits. Then, if we deal with two people who’re an identical in each respect, besides one in every of these traits, it quantities to discrimination. Discrimination could possibly be optimistic like particular coaches for ladies in a practice, quotas in jobs for sure communities or larger financial savings charges for senior residents. It is also destructive like providing somebody a decrease wage due to their gender or denying somebody housing due to their ethnicity or faith. 

In fact, it’s destructive discrimination that we’ve got to fret about. Unfavourable caste-based discrimination would indicate that a person was handled in a destructive means due to their caste both within the sphere of hiring (not employed) or wage affords (decrease wages) or promotion (denied promotion). Extra usually, this might additionally indicate differential therapy of people in non-employment associated areas like in entry to housing. Nevertheless, for caste-based discrimination, the first issues are within the context of the labor market.

Human societies have a protracted historical past of discriminatory practices based mostly on numerous traits. Whereas a few of these have been close to common resembling gender discrimination, others have differed throughout societies. For example, racial discrimination continues to be a difficulty within the Western world, whereas caste discrimination is usually prevalent in South Asia. Most democracies search to supply constitutional safety to their residents in opposition to discriminatory practices.

Nevertheless, newer types of discrimination would possibly emerge or reveal themselves over time. One such instance is sexuality-based discrimination in opposition to the LGBTQIA+ neighborhood. Whereas it’s arguably extra frequent now, as folks change into extra open about their sexuality, US legal guidelines have additionally been up to date to guard these folks from discrimination. Equally, with the migration of huge numbers of South Asians, caste-based discrimination could nicely have arrived at America’s doorstep. So, new legal guidelines may be essential to cope with it.  

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Why now?

Seattle’s ordinance will be seen as part of this effort. The argument for whether or not to incorporate a brand new class within the legislation defending in opposition to discrimination can’t be based mostly merely on the magnitude of the discriminatory act – that may be a matter of implementation. The legislation should shield residents in opposition to the act itself. In India, Article 15 of the structure states: “The State shall not discriminate in opposition to any citizen on grounds solely of faith, race, caste, intercourse, fatherland or any of them”. Now, race-based discrimination is just not widespread in India although often one reads experiences about assaults on folks from Africa. But India offers safety to folks based mostly on their race and on this regard is already forward of the US.

Equally, because the inhabitants of South Asians within the US has grown together with a widening of their neighborhood profiles, caste as a class might change into related. It elevated from 2.2 million in 2000 to five.4 million in 2017 in keeping with the American Group Survey knowledge offered by the US Census Bureau. Provided that that is greater than double the inhabitants in lower than twenty years, one can speculate that offering safety in opposition to caste-based discrimination in America might be one thing that may change into extra commonplace. Implementation of such legal guidelines will, after all, require extra consciousness amongst People about caste and its nuances, simply as many in India most likely have to study that not everybody from Nigeria is engaged in nefarious actions.

The most important obstacles to implementing the legislation shall be consciousness concerning the caste system. First, word that caste is just not an observable attribute. Two identical-looking people could possibly be from completely different castes making the identification and reporting of instances of caste-based discrimination tougher than different kinds of discrimination related to observable traits. Second, caste discrimination could also be onerous to establish. Caste hierarchy is predetermined, with the bottom castes usually having much less energy and decrease socio-economic standing than the higher castes. People from higher or larger castes are additionally extra more likely to have larger training and extra wealth. These pre-existing variations between the teams will make it tough to find out whether or not a specific act was discriminatory or not – simply because it typically occurs with discrimination based mostly on race and gender. Subsequently, implementing the brand new legislation will contain a deep understanding of the caste system requiring expensive effort and time.

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Epilogue: ChatGPT’s take

Provided that Seattle is the IT hub and ChatGPT’s latest rise to stardom we determined that the final phrase ought to belong to ChatGPT. As a take a look at, we requested it to supply us with an essay on the Historical past of Discrimination in Human Societies, reproduced right here verbatim:

Discrimination has been a persistent situation all through human historical past. It has taken many kinds and has been based mostly on quite a lot of components, together with race, ethnicity, faith, gender, sexuality, and sophistication. Discrimination has been perpetuated by means of legal guidelines, social norms, and particular person biases, and has usually resulted in unequal therapy and alternatives for marginalized teams.

One of the well-known examples of discrimination in historical past is the system of slavery that was practiced in lots of elements of the world, notably within the Americas. Slavery concerned the compelled labor of people who have been thought-about property moderately than human beings, and was justified by means of racist beliefs that sure teams of individuals have been inherently inferior to others.

One other instance of discrimination in historical past is the therapy of indigenous peoples in lots of elements of the world. Indigenous peoples have been usually displaced from their land, compelled to assimilate to the dominant tradition, and subjected to violence and exploitation.

Discrimination has additionally been current in lots of different kinds all through historical past, together with the therapy of ladies, LGBTQ+ people, non secular minorities, and people with disabilities. Whereas progress has been made in some areas, discrimination continues to be a pervasive situation in lots of elements of the world. Efforts to fight discrimination and promote equality stay ongoing.

This 200-word essay doesn’t even point out “caste”, regardless that this establishment is as outdated as slavery. We speculate ChatGPT, on the finish of the day, is just not fairly updated on non-Western information! It scored roughly within the ninetieth percentile within the SAT and obtained 88% within the LSAT. Nevertheless, it didn’t do very nicely within the UPSC exams which are used to display candidates for the forms in India. Just like the battle in opposition to caste discrimination, ChatGPT nonetheless has miles to go.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.