Senior Manager Resigns After Google Disallows Presentation on Caste by Dalit Activist
Image credit: Malwarebytes Labs
After a Dalit rights activist was not allowed to give a presentation on caste, a senior manager at Google, Tanuja Gupta, has resigned from the company on June 1.
In April, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the founder of Equality Labs, a Dalit civil rights organisation, was scheduled to deliver a lecture to the employees of Google News as the month is observed as Dalit History Month. However, several employees of Google reportedly wrote emails to company heads, calling Soundararajan “ani-Hindu” and “Hindu-phobic”, according to a report by The Washington Post.
A report by The Quint said that Soundararajan had then appealed directly to Google's Chief Operating Officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai to allow her to give the presentation. However, she did not receive any response from Pichai, who hails from an upper-caste Indian family.
In her resignation letter, Gupta wrote: “My career at Google has come to an end because of this company’s willful ignorance of caste discrimination, the double standards of its DEI programming, the weaponisation of confidentiality to avoid accountability, and a normalised practice of retaliation against those who speak out.”
She added that Google is “woefully and willfully ill-equipped to deal with matters of caste discrimination” and that two Google employees had, in fact, had approached her confidentially in 2021 to talk about the caste discrimination they had witnessed at the company.
“Of all the organising I have done at this company, I think many are surprised that fighting for caste equity was the lightning rod issue that took me down. But I have an Indian CEO and SVP who both know exactly what’s going on and tacitly approve of everything that’s happened,” said Gupta.
While concluding the letter, she pointed out that in the developments she has detailed, the real victims are Thenmozhi Soundararajan, “whose voice was stifled” and the people who experience caste discrimination every day, but cannot speak out “for fear of losing their immigration visas or being the target of hate crimes … or both”.
Speaking about this episode in an Instagram post, Soundararajan, wrote: “While it can feel quite scary that such actions occurred, the groundswell of support for Tanuja, myself, and caste oppressed workers is overwhelming and we cannot let the flow of progress be slowed by bigotry. We are a movement rooted in love, empathy, and mindfulness and we. will. Win.” She then demanded that Google “protect their caste-oppressed workers and stop the harms caused by caste discrimination in their organisation”.
Soundararajan has delivered has made presentations on caste at Microsoft, Airbnb, Netflix, Saleforce, and Adobe. She told The Quint: “Most institutions wouldn’t do what Google did. It’s absurd. The bigoted don’t get to the set the pace of conversations about civil rights.”
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