Recognizing the historic move of banning caste-based discrimination by a Seattle City Councillor, Vancouver-based online magazine has decided to pick her as person of the year.
Kshama Sawant, the lone Indian-American member of the Seattle City Council, has been known for her unwavering dedication to social justice. She has consistently stood up for the underdog, including the poor working class and minorities in the past, often inviting the ire of right wing groups and the corporates. Her proposed ordinance to ban caste-based discrimination was passed on February 21, 2023, making Seattle the first US City to do so.
The Dalits, or the so-called untouchables , continue to face oppression under a brutal caste system practiced by orthodox Hindus in India for centuries. The problem has spilled over to the Indian Diaspora, and Dalits often complain of persecution at the hands of fellow Indians belonging to self-styled upper castes, even in US and Canada. The demand to ban caste-based discrimination, like racism, has been growing for the last several years.
Sawant was part of the movement to raise the US minimum wage, and had been instrumental behind a resolution opposing India’s anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act in 2020. The Act, passed by the right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government in New Delhi, openly discriminates against Muslim refugees coming to India from the neighbouring countries.