Friday, May 12, 2006

A decimation so systematic - Part 1

I wrote this piece, loooong back. But could not make it public, for some reason. Now, with the debate about reservations , as well as minorty status taking center stage once more, I present this one, with some editions.

I hope to follow this up with a part 2 (or more) covering Jainism, Buddhism,Sikhsim Ramakrishnaism,.. and so on. comments most welcome

A Decimation so Systematic - Part 1

"They are the world’s poorest aristrocracy” said Sorokin , the famous sociologist
(1), the two words cover perhaps as varied a spectrum as the two worlds he lived in (2). He was referring to the Brahmins !

A good number of people would agree with the second word, and a handful would agree with the first word, I guess. Since articles and books and what not have already been written about the “oppressors” called Brahmins, let me focus more on “les miserables” part. How poor? How frustrated?

Take the case of S who in a discussion with her friends on caste, suddenly came up with “You know what, I think we Brahmins should demand minority status even if it meant ceasing to be Hindus “ . One is naturally reminded of Ramakrishnaism, Aurobindonism (3), and perhaps more of these “isms” who went to the court for a minority status and to separate from Hindu religion. Recently, the issue of Jains as minority has as usual become entangled in state-center-caste-vote and what not based politics and online and otherwise petitions that the Supreme court has asked for a final verdict (4,5). The only surprise so far is, “Why were the Jains of Tamil Nadu this late?” (6)

Lets go back to S- and do a bit of an analysis. She is from a rather orthodox, but reasonably well off, “TamBram” family, now doing her graduate studies in US, like her innumerable Brahmin counterparts. A typical temple going, bhajan singing, occasionally fasting type- no surprises so far

So then what made her suddenly say this? She went on to rcollect some of her experiences, and allow me to paraphrase. “I had high , but not perfect marks for my degree course and yet I was in waiting list in most colleges in TN for my post-graduation. And my father would not pay. We were literally driven away from most colleges asking what a forward caste is doing there. At one place the person even told on my Fathers’ face that even though I have good mark, his “sacred” thread is a problem. Added to it is the humiliation amongst family members that I did not score enough in my college to get into IIT or become a doctor. I do not want my kids to go through all these. Minority status is the only way out”.

Try arguing the usual way, and she had an answer pretty much ready for everything. “Don’t you think by doing that such a community will soon be absorbed into some other religion. May be you and your kids may remain Brahmin, but a few generations down the line?” and quick was her response “ What makes you feel that’s not already happening. There is so much of inter religious marriages happening already in the community. And many so called Brahmins are not even connected to their roots"

Eventhough a first reaction would be “well, a unique case, perhaps just out of momentary anger”, it may have more to what meets the eye. There is no doubt that there is lot of frustration among the community about the way reservations and other caste based things are handled in India, especially Tamil Nadu. There are also voices of dissentment within the community itself… And some try to look at with a sense of humor, like this one from the internet (7) “For a middle class Tam Bram family (and that means the whole lot of them for all Tam Brams qualify as middle class if you take outlook and behavior as parameters), mathematics and science are not merely subjects in the schoolcurriculum. They are a religion. And the dharma of every Tam Bram student is tomaster them and pave his way to the heavenly portal of an IIT. Or at least tothe ordinary portal of a local engineering college, which the family willeventually reconcile to, in the absence of the 'real thing'” ……… “'Centum' is a word unique to the Tam Bram world, that a child grows up listening to. It is a figure that even if sometimes elusive, is never lost sight of throughout the academic career. Centum, Math, Science, Brilliant Tutorials, Engineering, IIT, B.Tech., Computer Science, USA, Financial Aid, I-20,Student Visa, M.S., San Jose, California, Oracle, Microsoft, Intel [add Green Card, stock options - the latter is a little subdued now, thanks to the dot-com bust]. These words and names are like carefully arranged furniture in the mental landscape of a Tam Bram boy-and increasingly girl- below the age of 25"

Should the community be blamed, for in order to cross the “barrier” of reservations and the rest of the anti-forward caste laws in Tamil Nadu, the TamBram has to set his/her standards high. In fact, another Tam friend of mine, surprisingly used this fact in favour of reservations – Hello, I thought the aim was to close in the gap!

And finally back to the question of “minority status” . It looks like this isn’t a “new issue” either. Atleast this Christian website claims so (8)“A few years ago, a group of Brahmins filed a petition with the Backward Commission at Mylapore, Chennai, India, requesting backward community status. On October 8th, 1995 the Tamilnadu Brahmin Association organized a rally Demanding 20% Exclusive Reservation for hitherto neglected Forward Communities in Tamilnadu"

Is this the inevitable fate that Tagore refered to when he said (9) “On the other hand, it has to be recognised that there is an inevitableness in the fate that has overtaken Hindu India. We have divided and subdivided ourselves into mincemeat, not fit to live but only to be swallowed. Never up to now has our disjointed society been able to ward off any threatening evil. We are a suicidal race, ourselves keeping wide open for ages, with marvellous ingenuity, gaps that we are forbidden to cross under penalty and cracks that are considered to be too sacred to be repaired because of their antiquity”



















KAUTILYA said...

40 years of so called Dravidian reform resulting in 69 % reservation has done nothing to help the economically backward. Most landowning rich Dravidian communities(now OBCs) who practised persecution of Dalits, found an easy way to have the cake and eat it too. For the purpose of reservation they used thier clout in Tamilnadu's caste based politics to declare themselves OBC's, continue to oppress the landless dalits and squarely put the blame on Brahmins, who hardly have a say in anything that happens in Tamilnadu, for their miseries. In Tamilnadu, its the OBC's that "seige" both Brahmins and Dalits. They outnumber and outmuscle both brahmins and dalits in all state owned institutions. Having tasted the easy meat of reservation in state run institutions, they are hungry for a chunk in the central pie too. If one listens to the acerbic speeches of the Dravidian leaders, you will realize that it isnt very different from what Hitler directed at the Jews. If they actually put their words into action and persecute Brahmins, there will hardly be any political opposition. The Dravidian parties will cut across party lines and glorify the open plunder, labeling it as the end of bad times and then probably fight over the credit for Brahmin Bashing. Brahmins, now both vocally and numerically insignificant, out of sheer fear, have systematically started to migrate to other states/countries. Reservation is a Political compulsion specially in Tamilnadu. That is why even a serious reformist like Mr Chidambaram, London educated Lawyer from the extremely affluent and cultured Chettiar Community, is forced to tow the majority line. He says that the 69% reservation model implemented in Tamilnadu is a success and the country should take a cue. Of course it was a recipe for the success of political parties, not for the common man. If this is implemented in the national level, every rich community will get itself labelled as OBC and systematically plunder the obvious upper castes, dalits and other economically backward sections of the society, who cannot do the same. God save us all on that day....

Emotional showmanship and film stars reproducing their on screen melodrama on election campaigns have always hijacked the real issues in Tamilnadu. That is why you have promises of Colour TVs and Gold “Thaalis(Mangalsutra)” thrown at the people to mask the failure to provide the basics since independence. A film crazy state is ready to glorify lewd dance sequences featuring full bodied scantily clad women, but is instigated to take up cudgels against harmless remarks from former actresses, supposedly hurting their sentiments. You have political leaders like DR Ramadoss seeking the ban of all languages other than Tamil, but quietly sending their own wards to convent schools and medical colleges abroad. Reservation will never work………… period.

Rambler said...

This was a great post. Very well written.

eddywilliams54518145 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wheels4ever said...

Waiting for the next part

Anonymous said...

This is quite well written, however ends without a specific suggestion. In other words, it does not offer a solution to the problem that it talks about

May be you intend to cover it in the sequels

Rakesh said...

good article and u seem to have spent considerable time on it...glad that u decided to make it public..

i will definitely share it with my friends at Indiagram

PS: It might be good to have an english translation of the sanskrit verse you have in the blog

drisyadrisya said...

Thanks all for the comments

yes, I have added the translation to the profile..

and I still haven't decided what exactly to write in the subsequent parts, eventhough I have some rough ideas. So I am collecting ideas and towards that, the point that solution per se is not proposed yet, is a nice criticism to hear

let see what I come up with next :-)

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