Dalit concert demand tech companies to protect caste-oppressed workers


Over 1,300 people from around the globe attended the first virtual Dalit concert, ‘Radical Rhythms: A Global Call for Caste Equity’ held August 10.

The event featured Dalit artists, leaders, and tech workers who came together to create awareness and demand that big tech companies actively protect their caste-oppressed workers by making caste a protected category in all the countries in which they do business.

The event saw scintillating performances from Dalit performers from India and US. Discrimination against Dalits at the workplace, and in society, was emphatically put across by rappers and Dalit leaders. The event brought into focus the injustices that Dalit community members have to face owing to their caste.

Equality Labs in partnership with Alphabet Workers Union, Neelam Social and Ambedkar Association of North America organized the event. Equality Labs is a Dalit civil rights organization dedicated to ending caste apartheid, gender-based violence, Islamophobia, white supremacy and religious intolerance.

A statement issued by the Equality Labs team, said: “We are still basking in the power of the Dalit excellence at Radical Rhythms. We had over 1,300 registrants around the globe who joined us for our South Asia and North America premieres. Together, we witnessed the glory, beauty, and diversity of the anti-caste movement—from a power packed showcase of rappers like Ginni MahiSumeet SamosMahiVipin Tatad, and Abisha to the Gaana singer Isaivani and Oppari artists Seyilrani and Lalitha who remind us of our rich traditions and lineages.”

Viewers during the concert on August 10 heard the angst of Dalit tech workers who have been pushed to anonymity out of fear of retaliation along with inspiring messages of solidarity from allies like the Alphabet Workers Union and California Trade Justice Coalition who are part of a movement that is proclaiming louder than ever that “the labor movement stands with caste-oppressed communities everywhere.”

Maya Kamble, president of Ambedkar Association of North America who is also an American tech worker said during the event, “Our mission is to uplift the lives of underprivileged in India through education and health programs. I have been part of the tech industry in the US for two years and I know discrimination is real.”

“When people from South Asia migrated to the US they brought caste prejudice with them, without the cast protection that the Indian constitution offers. Today, I have to hide my caste identity to avoid discrimination. If caste is added as a protected category then there will be no need for this,” she said.

Anti-caste icons like Chandrashekhar Azad and Pa Ranjith urged Google and other Big Tech companies to protect Dalit rights and institutionalize caste as a protected category.

Azad, the co-founder of Bhim Army and a Dalit rights activist said: “There is now an urgent need for a global agitation to end caste discrimination. We have to raise our voices together to put an end to this discrimination for good. It is my demand that Dalit employees of Google and other MNCs abroad should not be discriminated against. The company’s non-discrimination policy should include caste as a protected category.”

Mahi, a poet and a rapper from Maharashtra paid a glowing tribute to Babasaheb Ambedkar in her inimitable fiery style.

The concert also featured a performance by Thenmozhi—a caste abolition remix of Bob Marley’s Redemption. “Thank you again to all those who tuned in. We hope you will continue to follow this new generation of Dalit artists that is embodying the spirit of our most radical ancestors,” said the statement. ”We are already receiving overwhelming demand for another Radical rhythm,  so if you loved this event and believe in the healing power of Dalit cultural resistance, please consider supporting us in building through art, love, and empathy.”

“From Punjab to Maharashtra to Tamil Nadu to Silicon Valley—caste is everywhere but so are anti-caste warriors. May we continue to groove to #radicalrhythms and toward liberation!,” said a member of the Equality Labs team.

The virtual concert showcased Dalit artists from various organizations based in the US and India. Before the event, said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Dalit rights activist and co-founder of Equality Labs, had told Indica: “The call of this [concert] is to increase awareness of the issue of caste-oppressed workers in corporations, to demand that Google understand caste as a category of discrimination and to support tech workers that are raising petitions vocalizing this issue.”