Caste Arrives In Silicon Valley : Planet Money

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Caste Arrives In Silicon Valley : Planet Money

Mauktik Kulkarni (left) and Suraj Yengde (right) as children. Vivekanand Kulkarni and Suraj Yengde/Vivekanand Kulkarni and Suraj Yengde hide caption

toggle caption Vivekanand Kulkarni and Suraj Yengde/Vivekanand Kulkarni and Suraj Yengde

Mauktik Kulkarni (left) and Suraj Yengde (right) as children.

Vivekanand Kulkarni and Suraj Yengde/Vivekanand Kulkarni and Suraj Yengde

Sam Cornelius is from India, and works in the U.S. tech sector. Sometimes when he meets another Indian at his company, they ask him questions that seem innocent enough on the surface, like, “Where is your family from?” Or, “Are you vegetarian?” Sometimes they might even suggest going for a swim. But, Sam says, these questions can feel like a dangerous trap. Coming from a fellow Indian, they’re often clever attempts to find out something very specific: his caste.

The state of California filed a lawsuit this summer alleging a type of discrimination not frequently cited in U.S. workplaces: caste discrimination. The case involves an all-Indian team of employees at Cisco Systems’ headquarters in San Jose, but similar complaints are popping up at other companies in the tech sector.

We follow how an ancient social hierarchy usually associated with South Asia has been cropping up at the ping pong tables and complementary juice bars of Silicon Valley.

This episode is adapted from the excellent Rough Translation podcast. For more about allegations of caste discrimination in the Valley, make sure to check out the full episode, How To Be Anti-Casteist, and the links in their show notes.

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Caste Arrives In Silicon Valley : Planet Money

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