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South Asians tackle caste discrimination in U.S.

Prem Pariyar, 37, a Nepali immigrant, is considered Dalit, the lowest run of the caste system.

He’s one of a growing number of South Asians pushing for awareness of the caste system in the United States and urging universities to take action against it, reported USA Today.

According to Quartz India, the University of California, Davis is the first public university to include the caste system in its anti-discrimination policy.

“I have experienced casteism all my life and never expected to face it at Davis. During my undergraduate career I have faced many micro-aggressions related to caste especially in South Asian and Sikh spaces,” J Kaur, a student leader, said in a statement.

The caste system is an issue in the Indian community, especially among, but not limited to those who practice Hinduism, reports Quartz India.

The number of students from India is second to those from China at American universities.

Voice of America reports a liberal arts university in Maine, Colby College, also is banning discrimination based on caste.

“You have to first name what it is to say: This exists, we name it, we stand against it,” VOA quoted Sonja Thomas, department chair of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Colby, as saying.

Many students believed they would escape the class system behind in their home country.

“I thought I had left that caste discrimination in Nepal,” Pariyar said. “I felt low. I came here to the United States and could not leave that caste identity.”

The issue is not limited to American universities.

Quartz reports the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Cisco for discrimination against a Dalit engineer. Complaints have also been directed at Microsoft, Google, IBM and Facebook.

According to USA Today, India outlawed caste discrimination 50 years ago, but it persists.

However, not everyone in the Indian community in the United States agrees it’s still a problem.

An article in Pgurus accuses the media of unfairly blaming Hinduism. It said the articles are based on sources with a history of a bias against Hindus. The article also accused UC Davis of Hinduphobia.

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