Google has been accused of being casteist. The software major cancelled a talk by a Dalit activist based in the US, following pressure from employees who were against the speaker, Thenmozhi Soundararajan.
That is not all, Tanuja Gupta, the manager who invited Soundararajan to speak, was also admonished for having scheduled her talk. Following this, Gupta put in her papers in protest.
Incidentally, Gupta was the founder of Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration, a group that forced Google to withdraw its policy of making employees let go their right to go to court in case of a conflict with their employer. When Soundararajan’s talk was cancelled, Gupta had spoken in her favour, following which the Company accused her of violating rules and breaking the People Manager Code of Conduct and given a warning.
Members of the workforce who were opposed to the speaker labelled the speaker as anti-Hindu and feared that her discussion on caste equality would put their lives at risk.
Soundararajan used to be the president of the Ambedkarites Association of North America (AANA), which maintains an anti-caste stand and works to draw attention to social segregation at the global level. She is behind Equality Labs, the non-profit organisation that organises anti-caste campaigns targeted at the South Asian population.
Her speech at Google was scheduled to coincide with Dalit History Month before it was cancelled following resistance from employees.
Soundararajan claims that the Indian market, which happens to be one of the biggest for Google, has at least 25 per cent people who are oppressed due to their caste. She maintains that these people are essential for Google to achieve its next user target, and therefore, the issue of caste and related bias and discrimination need to be addressed right now.