Seattle City Council’s resolution on caste


    In News

    • Recently,  the Seattle City Council became the first U.S. city to ban caste-based discrimination.


    •  Seattle City Council  issued an ordinance  including caste as a class to be protected against discrimination along with race, gender, and religion.
    • The legislation will recognise caste as a unique basis of discrimination, similar to race or gender. Currently, caste is not an explicitly protected class meaning that if public authorities were to receive a complaint based solely on caste discrimination, they would not be able to investigate it.The resolution passed is set to change this.
    • This follows actions of several universities in the U.S including Harvard, Brown and California State University which have added the caste criteria to their anti-discrimination policies.

    Caste Discrimination In USA

    • The Equality Labs 2016 Caste in the United States survey found that
      •  one in four Dalits in the U.S. had faced verbal or physical assault 
      •  two out of every three said they had faced discrimination at work.
    • In July 2020, California regulators sued tech giant Cisco Systems Inc, accusing the company of discriminating against an Indian-American employee and allowing caste-based harassment.
    • In 2021, BAPS was alleged to have trafficked in Dalit workers for the  construction of Swaminarayan Temple in New Jersey.

    Caste Discrimination and UN

    • In 2001, Dalit advocates appealed to the United Nations World Conference Against Racism to include caste as race-related and descent-based discrimination. But the Indian government was able to prevent this UN recognition.
    • In 2016, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues reported that at least 250 million people worldwide still face discrimination based on caste.

    Way Forward

    • The Seattle ban is a step in the right direction and should  open the door for many such efforts to end caste discrimination .

    Source: TH