Press Release: Thousands of Indian American Businesses and Hindu Temples Unite, Join HinduPACT in Urging California Senate to Reject Caste Bill SB 403



Thousands of Indian American Businesses and Hindu Temples Unite, Join HinduPACT in Urging California Senate to Reject Caste Bill SB 403


Major Hindu and Indian businesses and temples have united to issue the following statement to oppose the proposed California Caste Bill SB 403.  The bill, introduced by State Senator Aisha Wahab seeks to amend the anti-discrimination policy under the Unruh Civil Rights Act by adding caste as a protected category.


The signatories to this statement include, Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), the largest hotel owners association in the nation with 20,000 members who own 60% of the hotels in the United States, responsible for 1.7% of nation’s GDP,  Asian American Store Owners Association (AASOA) representing over 8300 store owners throughout the nation, Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference (HMEC) an umbrella organization of Hindu temples in North America with participation of 600 temples in its conferences, Hindu Business Network (HBN), and, Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective (HinduPACT), an initiative of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), the oldest and one of the largest Hindu organization in the US.


We oppose California SB 403 for the following reasons:


  • The Bill presents a convoluted and broad definition of “caste.”  The definition of “caste” in this Bill makes every person of Indian subcontinent and businesses run by them suspect of discrimination, including those who practice vegetarianism!
  • The Bill perpetuates the colonial narrative of “caste,” introduced by Portuguese and promoted by British colonialists.
  • This bill will lead to harassment, discrimination, bullying and violence against Hindus.
  • The promoters of “caste” narrative, have malevolent intentions as demonstrated by their public statements.  One statement, for example, says, “Hindus are sick people of India, it is their religious books who train the mind.”
  • This Bill is built on unsubstantiated data and an unproven court case.



Kalpesh Joshi Board Member of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) said, “AAHOA is strongly against SB 403.  We believe that it will disproportionately impact Indian hotel and motel owners.”


Vipul Patel, President of Asian American Shop Owners Association (AASOA) said,

“As a one of the largest small businesses owner associations we strongly oppose California SB 403.  This bill is based on the fabricated narrative of caste discrimination in America.   This bill is misguided and will promote prejudice against all Indian Americans small business owners including shop owners who form the backbone of California economy in these challenging economic times.  We fear that this bill, if passed will encourage frivolous lawsuit against small businesses, causing many of them to go out of business.”


Tejal Shah, Convenor of Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference (HMEC) said,

“The organizations and individuals behind SB 403 have made their disdain for Hindu customs and traditions very clear.  Common Hindu greeting “Namaskar” (“I bow to the divinity within you”), traditional Hindu practices such as classical dance, music, and sacred festivals such as Diwali and Holi have been vilified.  Passage of SB 403 will legitimize this assault on the freedom of religions and make Hindu temples more vulnerable to physical attacks.”


Nirav Patel, Convenor of Hindu Business Network (HBN) said,

“The implications of SB 403 on Hindu and Indian businesses is shocking.  Small business owners came to the US to achieve their American dream of equal opportunity and entrepreneurship.  It will also deter companies from hiring Indian Americans.  If SB 403 passes, Hindu and Indian businesses will have to deal with politically and religiously motivated lawsuits.   We believe that many of these businesses will not survive the frivolous lawsuits.  We request the California senators to reject SB 403.”

Ajay Shah, Convenor of HinduPACT said,

“SB 403 is deeply flawed, ill-intentioned and targets children and youth from the Indian Subcontinent and those who follow the Hindu dharma (Hinduism),” said Ajay Shah, Convenor of HinduPACT. “These youth and children will be branded as “upper caste” and then bullied in their schools.  They will be deprived of many academic, opportunities. They will made to feel guilty for their supposed privileged lives.  When the grow up, they will be deprived of employment and business opportunities” he added.

The signatories of this statement believe that the existing laws in California are sufficient to address any instance of discrimination if they arise. We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee California legislature to reject SB 403. This bill is harmful, unnecessary, and based on a false narrative.

Website of signatory organizations:

Asian American Home Owners Association
Asian American Shop Owners Association
Hindu Business Network
Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference