Being a Hindu professional in North America isn’t always easy.
If you were born here, you probably endured years of having your faith misrepresented in school classrooms, your Hindu identity slandered as superstitious and elitist, and your uniqueness spotlighted in derisive terms that could make you a target for bullying by your peers.
If you immigrated here, uprooted from the support system that grounded you in the traditional values of our ancestors, you may have worried how your own children might grow up in your adopted home. If you were lucky, you found an Indian grocery store nearby for a few special ingredients and occasional treats… and even an unassuming temple where you might join the tiny, local Hindu community in celebrating the distant echoes of festivals you grew up with. If not, you made do with a little puja corner in the privacy of your living space.
That’s who we are, as a community. We make do as best we can with what we have. We appreciate the brusque and matter-of-fact welcome that has greeted us in the American workplace. We don’t expect special treatment based on our ethnic identity – all we want is to live up to the American promise that anything is possible if you follow the rules and work hard.
So it must have been a surprise to encounter certain people in the workplace whose very job is to fetishize identity issues to the point of obsession. Diversity, equity, and inclusion “experts”, they may be called. You may have noticed that some of them looked like they could be from your own family, yet spoke of your Hindu culture and traditions as if they were something reprehensible.
Strange people, these: Indian at first glance, perhaps with Hindu-sounding names, but conducting themselves with an altogether alien arrogance. I can imagine your shock when you heard from such worthies that it’s you—yes, you—who are “privileged”. That the values you were raised with, and hope to pass on to your own children, are “patriarchal”, “toxic”, “oppressive”, and even “racist”. And why? Astonishingly, it’s because you’re an instrument of “caste” discrimination.
How must it feel to be informed, in the glib admonishments of corporate expertise, that your lived experiences, your achievements, your traditional values, your struggles and sacrifices all amount to a picture of oppressive “caste” privilege? That simply being “South Asian” means you carry a seemingly inborn compulsion to discriminate against fellow South Asians? (How was this established, you wonder… through genetic analysis?)
You learn that your most innocuous lifestyle choices are burdened with sinister hidden meanings. For instance, your desire to be vegetarian carries the stain of “caste” privilege—even though veganism, in your White neighbor, is to be applauded as a virtue of eco-consciousness. Lighting a diya at your home on Diwali is violent, because of the mental trauma it may cause some South Asians (tweet below); on Holi, smearing your friends with color commemorates the oppression of women and subaltern communities. Surely, these activists scold, you can do better!
— Hindu On Campus (@hinduoncampus) November 3, 2021
To your horror, you realize that despite being a tiny minority in your adopted home country, you will henceforth be morally equated with the most regressive and bigoted elements of the majority — especially if you have the temerity to question this new arbitration of your identity. That anything you say or do will be subject to the judgment of self-righteous inquisitors who have already made up their minds that you’re guilty. That any dispute or altercation, however justified, with the wrong person can end up with you being shunned, canceled, fired, and rendered unemployable.
And that there are large, influential, well-ensconced, and highly-motivated organizations dedicated to imposing this nightmare on you — ensuring that the prejudgment of your guilt is written into the rules of your community and workplace in the name of “social justice”. In an era of sensitivity and diversity, it’s stunning to learn of the existence of institutions openly committed to demolishing your faith.
Naturally, you might ask that your employer keep the workplace free of forces bent on dismantling your very faith and identity. But if you do, there’s a risk that your country’s leading media houses will join in a chorus of condemnation directed at… you. Your impudence in asking for equal protection just furnishes more proof of your retrograde privilege.
I can feel, in my bones, the quandary that came upon you when you learned all this. You seethed inwardly with the urge to respond — and yet, the values of decency that you were raised with, your sense of inadequacy to frame an answer in perhaps Indian-accented English, your fear of losing a coveted job or risking your visa status, all these things told you to sit still and shut up.
Why draw attention to yourself? Why risk being humiliated by the sneering condescension of glib and well-heeled activists hurling unjustifiable accusations against you? Doesn’t it matter that any attempt to defend yourself will get you labeled as a “casteist”, “fascist”, and (Gods forbid) a “tool of India’s Hindu nationalist movement infiltrating America through the diaspora”?
This April, a number of you at Google decided that enough was enough, and damn the consequences. Like Rosa Parks at Montgomery, you were tired, and nobody was going to force you to the back of the bus yet again.
When your company’s DEI department saw fit to invite a speaker who famously uses the pretext of “Dalit Rights” to stage a systematic, well-funded, and long-running assault on Hinduism — a person who has consistently preached public hatred against your way of life and sought to defame your entire community as “rapists” — you spoke up.
You insisted that you had as much right as any other US resident to a safe workspace. You would not accept an ongoing inquisition where hateful misrepresentations of your faith, its history, and its traditions could be weaponized to shame, intimidate, and threaten you. In fact, as you pointed out, the kind of targeted harassment this speaker habitually engages in is the very opposite of diversity and inclusion.
Your act of resistance was no ordinary feat. At Google, you found the foxes had already appropriated guardianship of the henhouse of diversity. Entrenched interests struck back against you, violating any number of company rules and platforms in the process; and when management eventually withdrew the invitation to the hatemonger, it was her Hinduphobic promoters who got to air their one-sided version of events in the mainstream media.
Ironically, the cabals who claim to represent the “voices of the silenced” are often the very same ones who enjoy an absolute monopoly over the public megaphone. They abuse this privilege viciously to stifle any form of opposition—even from individuals like you, who enjoy no comparable access —all the while positioning themselves as the true victims in any situation.
In this light, a piece recently published in the Washington Post stands revealed as an attempt to terrorize ANY Hindu American employee who might ever think about reporting discrimination in the workplace. Its veiled threat is clear: Hindus who use appropriate channels to protect themselves against activist hate speech will find themselves maligned in the mainstream press.
Your grassroots pushback against such formidable opposition is all the more commendable considering that a significant number of you are recent immigrants on temporary visas. It humbles us that you jeopardized your immigration status, job security, and social standing to make your voices heard.
Here at CoHNA (video given below), we honor the stand you made to live with dignity, protect your civil rights, and insist that America make good on the promise that all are equal and shall be considered innocent until proven guilty. You’ve done everything to keep up your end of the social compact as model employees and citizens, but that does not make you ineffectual sheep, and no one has any business leading you meekly to the slaughterhouse.
We salute your bravery, and we want you to know that we will have your back, this time and every time you stand up for us all.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
 Google’s plan to talk about caste bias led to ‘division and rancor’ – Jun 02, 2022, The Washington Post
 Congressional Briefing On Biases Against Hindu Americans
PGurus is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with all the latest news and views
For all the latest updates, download PGurus App.
- Being Hindu at work: Googlers stand up to casteist calumny - June 11, 2022