Caste in America: Discrimination Faced by Indian Immigrants as a Result of Caste

Passersby walk at dusk in a Dalit section of Nanded, India. Phillip Martin/WGBH News
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BOSTON–WGBH News’ Senior Investigative Reporter Phillip Martin will lead a panel discussion at the Boston Public Library on Thursday, March 21 about his most recent series “Caste in America.”

In collaboration with the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, this multi-part examination explores the discrimination Indian immigrants face in the United States as a result of caste.

Mr. Martin will lead a conversation about the role of caste in the United States with Suraj Yengde, Laurence Simon, Kavita Pillay and Tarun Khanna.

Phillip Martin (Photo: Meredith Nierman and WGBH News)

The conversation will begin at 5:30 pm.

Phillip Martin is Senior Investigative Reporter and award-winning journalist for WGBH News and a contributing reporter to PRI’s The World, a co-production of WGBH, the BBC and PRI; a program, which he helped develop as a senior producer in 1995.

Suraj Yengde is an inaugural postdoctoral fellow at the Initiative for Institutional Anti-racism and Accountability, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Suraj is India’s first Dalit Ph.D. holder from an African university in the nation’s history.

Laurence Simon is Professor of International Development and Director of the Center for Global Development and Sustainability at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis. Since 2018, he also serves as the Joint Editor-in-Chief of CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion.

Kavita Pillay is a documentary filmmaker and reporter. She has reported from Singapore, Poland, India, and Finland for PRI’s The World.

Swami Venkataraman is a member of the National Leadership Council of the Hindu American Foundation and the lead author on HAF’s report, Not Cast in Caste: Seeking an End to Caste Based Discrimination.

Tarun Khanna is Director of the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute & Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School.

This is free and open to the public, but we appreciate you letting us know if you plan to attend. Please RSVP.

Seating is available on a first come, first serve basis.

Food and drink is available for purchase at the Newsfeed Café.

WGBH Studio at the Boston Public Library is located adjacent to the Newsfeed Café
at 700 Boylston St. at the corner of Exeter Street.

Limited metered parking is available in the area. Parking for a fee is also available at nearby parking garages. We recommend taking public transportation when possible. MBTA’s Copley stop on the Green Line and Back Bay stop on the Orange Line are also located nearby. Visit to plan your trip on public transportation.

If you want to watch the actual series, here is useful information:

Part one takes us to India to witness the conditions in which Dalits, or “untouchables” such as Harvard-educated Suraj Yengde live. In part two, we hear from a Dalit living here in the Northeast. Her voice is obscured to protect her identity, as she was assaulted by an upper caste classmate while studying at an US college. Part three is a self-reflective piece from, Kavita Pillay, a second-generation American whose parents suffered the lifelong consequences of an inter-caste marriage. In part four, award-winning journalism veteran Phillip Martin shows how US law hasn’t caught up with the discrimination that Indian caste can create, and how Brandeis University may become the first place in the country to include caste in its list of protected classes.

For more information, visit: WGBH.



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