Part 14: Caste cults at UC Berkeley and San Diego

Everyone deserves a rightful and dignified place in society, and discrimination on any basis must not only be unlawful but socially reprehensible

Everyone deserves a rightful and dignified place in society, and discrimination on any basis must not only be unlawful but socially reprehensible
Everyone deserves a rightful and dignified place in society, and discrimination on any basis must not only be unlawful but socially reprehensible

The previous 13 parts of the article can be accessed here Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13. This is part 14

Two more UC universities ready to add caste to the anti-discrimination policy

Caste Jihad in California has already engulfed UC Davis (Part 13) and the CSU system (Part 12) but it does not end there. We discuss two more UC campuses (Berkeley and San Diego) that are ready for adding caste as a protected category in the anti-discrimination policy. We offer evidence and mention leaders of caste jihad based on research from the websites and/or media.

UC Berkeley

A global brand Berkeley is where Dalit Diva T Soundararajan of the Equality Labs got her education and later became a caste activist[1]. It is rooted in her ancestry and her mother talked about caste-related oppression in India. Growing up, I saw some of it in my own village which was followed by a steady and noticeable decline in the last fifty years.

Our own adult daughters were born and raised in the U.S. similar to Soundararajan. The former was never exposed to casteism nor did we feel the need for it but the latter made the caste issue her career and activism. The statement that she faced discrimination from almost all Indian professors (at Berkeley) in itself reflects her state of mind against India and Indians, particularly, Hindus[1]. She is a committed Hindu-phobic with the caste agenda to raise her visibility and notoriety and seek opportunities as an activist for higher ambitions.

Berkeley’s Ashley Rehal, an elected student Senator, is now a new caste activist. A political science major with a minor in public policy, her Facebook page includes one of the accomplishments of Fall 2021 as a Senator,” Passed historic legislation to address caste-discrimination on campus.” I heard her testimony first time during the CSU hearing in January as a strong voice in support of caste as a protected category.

Rehal introduced the resolution urging the administration to address caste and perceived caste discrimination in its anti-discrimination policy[2]. Note Rehal’s citation of ‘caste and perceived caste,’ the exact phrase used by UC Davis. The resolution was approved unanimously and also affirmed to create a select committee to address caste discrimination. It was argued, with no evidence or data, that the members of lower castes who immigrate to the United States often face discrimination within diaspora communities, education, and employment.

Who is Ashley Rehal?

Rehal is an avid Bhangra dancer with one of her election manifestos to bridge the gap between cultural and ethnic dance organizations. In that context, she mentioned combining Bhangra and Open Style and that both of her parents were born in Punjab where the folk dance. Bhangra originated. She went on to say that Bhangra allowed her to foster a deeper connection with culture and better understand herself.

Since the topic is caste, I was curious about Rehal as a surname which interestingly is a royal family name of the Punjabi kshatriyas, one of the four varnas of ancient India[3]. Clearly, Rehal does not signify Dalit or even a lower caste yet she got ‘caste-radicalized’ along the way. I doubt that the parents influenced her thinking about caste unlike the mother of Soundararajan.

UC San Diego

The department of Ethnic Studies took the lead at UCSD. Their Newsletter states, “Against the commonly circulated idea that only South Asians, specifically Hindus, should care about caste, we understand caste as a 2,500-year-old system of dehumanization that made Dalits, those outside the Brahminical caste system, into “untouchables,” as non-humans who could be killed with impunity[4]. Caste is a structure of violence that affects over 1 billion people across the world. As a department committed to the relational study of race, ethnicity, indigeneities, gender, sexuality, class, and dis/ability, we acknowledge the importance of caste studies to the field of Ethnic Studies.”

The Newsletter goes on to state[4], “It also allows for non-South Asians to often unknowingly but structurally participate in caste-based violence by working with casteist upper-caste South Asian scholars, students, and administrators.”

First, with no references for their citations, I deplore the intellect of faculty members quoting ‘caste’ as a 2,500-year-old system. It was the Varna system and the word caste did not exist then, and there was neither the “dehumanization” nor anyone was “killed with impunity.”

If caste is a structure of violence according to irresponsible professors, why not talk about the structure of violence against Blacks and Native Indians, slavery in the U.S., the genocide of Jews, the global acts of terrorism, Shia versus Sunni conflicts in Islamic communities worldwide, ongoing atrocities against Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, just to mention a few? May I remind you that Hinduism is very tolerant unlike the tenets of both Islam and Christianity.

Are the non-South Asian faculty of Ethnic Studies, which comprise almost all, so ignorant that they will unknowingly but structurally participate in caste-based discrimination? If so, they should question their own intellect, integrity, and intentions.

Reportedly[4], the department’s goal is to recruit Dalit and Muslim faculty and students to attend to the complexities of race, caste, and religion. What is it if not structural discrimination against Hindu faculty whose scholarship will inform about the Varna system and the ancient Hindu culture, heritage, and history? Right now, only one faculty member with a possible Hindu name is Shaista Patel, a ‘scholar of Critical Muslim Studies.’ Shouldn’t the department be inclusive of faculty of various ethnicities if it wishes to be true to its mission?

I don’t doubt the intentions of the zealot department to work with Dalit faculty member(s) and allies to have caste included in the anti-discrimination policy of UCSD as part of the much-needed anti-caste organizing on campuses in North America. But their overreach and structural discrimination against Hindus, perpetuating a divide among ethnic groups, and misleading facts with strong adjectives without evidence neither speak well nor expected of UCSD faculty.

The atrocities in India against non-Muslim by Muslim invaders and the caste-based oppression against Dalits by Christian-led colonial rulers cannot be denied. Yes, Dalit oppression continued in post-independent India too. However, caste discrimination was outlawed and structural reforms for Dalits/ other backward castes for upward social mobility were established. In fact, many Dalits are in the U.S. because of the reforms and reservation quota in education.

Finally, everyone deserves a rightful and dignified place in society, and discrimination on any basis must not only be unlawful but socially reprehensible. I urge the student and faculty activists to not overdo the act of creating a divide and promoting the caste as a protected category because it is already covered under ancestry, national origin, race, and/ or ethnicity. In the future, I will review the legal aspects of caste covered under various existing categories.

To be continued…

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.


[1] Inequalities in the mission of Equality LabsJun 09, 2021,

[2] ASUC Senate condemns caste discrimination, receives reportsNov 19, 2021, The Daily Californian

[3] Rehal Family History & Genealogy – Ancient Faces

[4] UC San Diego Ethnic Studies Statement against Caste and Caste-based Discrimination – Ethnic Studies Department

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Vijendra Agarwal, born in village Kota (Saharanpur, U.P), left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee. He is currently a member of project GNARUS, a syndicated service and writers collective. He and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward better education and health of children, especially empowerment of girls. Vidya Gyan is a calling to give back to rural communities and keeping connected to his roots which gave him so much more. His passion for writing includes the interface of policy, politics, and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement.

Formerly, a researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he has widely travelled and came to the US in 1978. He was a faculty and academic administrator in several different universities in PA, TX, NJ, MN, WI, and NY, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during the Clinton administration.
Vijendra Agarwal


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