Saturday, April 29, 2006

Blame it on the Brahmin

Some parts of the country are witnessing agitations against increased reservations to OBCs and there are other parts trying to ascertain if 50% is good enough since such tribes and castes are steadily increasing. In this background, a few fundamental questions come to my mind.
How can we as a developing country allow the future of education to be dictated by past prejudices and definitions that seem anachronistic in real India. In most debates about reservation , the Brahmin is made to out to be the enemy based on past crimes like not allowing lower castes into temples and not teaching them. But the truth in rural India nowadays is that the worst crimes against lower castes are perpetrated by non-Brahmin castes like thakurs etc. If you want to know the plight of a Brahmin in India, ask it to someone who has scored only 75% marks in science in 12th std in Tamil Nadu. Thankfully the BPO boom has ameliorated his suffering to some extent.
There is a need to distinguish between the two types of crimes; resource discrimination( access to water , land and education) and emotional segragation ( temples, rituals and name calling). The latter was in hindsight not that heinous. Denying access to land and water was. Education is a tricky thing to evaluate. A lot of what Brahmins learnt was ritually necessary but commercially irrelevant. For instance, learning mantras and the Vedas was part of the process of becoming a Dwija. (The Brahmin is also known in Sanskrit as dwija, the twice born, a man becomes a true brahmin once he gains the education in the sacred texts). In fact a bulk of today's Brahmins are as good as any other caste since very few have the time and inclination to be a dwija . So in a strange way, the Brahmins of today can also call himeself any caste and gain access to reservations.
Talking of commerce,most Brahmins earlier lived a life of austerity and tried to be self-preserving by marketing God and his thousand avatars to whoever would give a decent dakshina and daan. The luckier ones got jobs as advisors and accountants in the offices of kings. Even among Brahmins there would have been a natural inclination to learn the skills to end up in a kings court. As kings courts gave away to governments and bureaucracies and complexity increased, all the learnings paid off and Brahmins had a field day. (Well the same history repeated in the 90s thanks to the software boom). But as bureaucray became politicized and a vassal in the hands of politicians , skills ceased to matter and Brahmins were eased out.
Under this backdrop, I really think the Brahmin is unncessarily victimized by the proponents of reservation. As a non-dwija he has given up his roots long back. His comfort zones in administration are no longer open to him. His vote is least necessary for anyone to make a government. But he continues unfazed his strife to be what he always was : a knowledge worker (excuse me Peter Drucker). Trying to get the ever increasing percentages in schools and colleges to secure a good living, trying to find a sense of balance between his roots and modernity, trying to be competitive always. In a strange way , I salute the spirit of a Brahmin.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

We dont need no education

Optionally backward classes have been given a further boost , they can have 27% reservation in reputed institutions like the IITs and IIMs.My engg college had 50% reservations and my observation was that the OBCs were economically better off than SCs/STs. So I believe that these classes are optionally backward and not due to discrimination by any superior classes.

But anyways, why restrict reservation to education. Reservation should be extended to non-educational sectors too.

For instance, I can never enter the film industry because I am neither Khan nor Kumar. Similarly I cannot be a VJ because I am not from South Mumbai or Juhu. So there have to be reservations there. There are other peculiar cases. There is a strong case for reservation for Tamil women to be heroines in the Tamil film industry. It is dominated by Bombay rejects and non Tamilians. Khushboo, Simran , Nagma, Laila , etc etc. Also there has to be reservation for Lata Mangeshkar in the music industry since she has completely stopped singing after the Peddar road flyover incident. Maybe she would vacate the flat if her employment is guaranteed.

In some jobs like secretaryship I find an oversupply of women from 2-3 communities. For instance, has anyone seen an Iyengar secretary ? Similarly there are entire industries dominated by members of certain communities. Stock broking for instance is dominated by Gujjus. Again we need brokers of all communities and castes. Other jobs which really need reservations are truck driving ( Oye paape) and nursing ( Simbly mallu) . Maybe there are too many South Indians in accounts also. Reservations in such jobs are badly needed to break the monotony.

Sports is another area where I think we should have reservations. So what if the time taken to run 100 m is same as 400 m. We have to be fair. The quota system in cricket was a step in the right direction. People were tired of seeing cricketers from Shivaji Park in Mumbai. Bengal tigers showed us how matches could be won.

So once we take a holistic view to reservation, life would be probably more interesting.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Fashion Week Dwitiya : Live

A fitting welcome to summer was full of misfits. The Lakme fashion week that was supposed to swing the sweatometer, raised a lot of heat and showed a lot of t**. India is finally global even in fashion. We have wardrobe malfunction like the advanced world. So what if we cannot have nudity on the ramp like Milan or Paris. We do it our style.

I believe the TV channels have missed a big trick in their maddening rush for TRPs. Instead of bidding $612 mn to see an Tendulkar bat with half an elbow and a rustic Sehwag try to swat flies instead of deliveries, channels should have paid cool bucks for the Fashion week. They could have then had a SMS contest to see "Kaun banegi draupadi" and who would drop the most clothes. Then they could have sold the TV clip rights to all the news channels who follow the mantra of 'steam, sensation and stupidity' when it comes to airing news.(even the latest entrant CNN IBN actually had a news item on top 10 kisses in Hindi cinema). They would run a story called 'Lakme mein Laaz ki kami' or some shit like that. Another profitable business model is of course MMS clips which fails to get monetized because of the piracy.

I bet by next year, we would have astronomical bidding for the Fashion week. It would be telecast live and would be preceded by shows like 'Extra fittings' which would have a noodle strapped Mandira Body and a strapless Malaika Rora hosting it. And to add to the fun it would have Sidhu and Srikanth. Sidhu would start the statements like 'fashion models are as innocent as freshly laid eggs but its the chicken designer who is causing the flu'. And then Srikanth would rotate his nose 90% left and right. Of course to the public it would appear that he is trying to smooch Malaika. He would then mutter in Hindi 'yeh log kyon khelta hai sorry kholta hai mujhe pata nahi, lekin maza aata hai.'

It would then be followed by an Asian Paints Pitch report. Out of work Saurav da would go and examine the wood and the lights on the stage and predict if the stage would cause models to slip and the clothes to fall. And if there is no problem he would take off his T shirt and clear the ramp. After that there would be the Reliance Hello Kholo aur Jeeto contest where one can predict the models who would have a wardrobe malfunction. As the telecast goes on there would be a Chevrolet Optra Wagon wheel which would show piecharts of the body parts exposed the most, legs, back side, etc. And as soon as the golden moment occurs it would have a bunch of sponsors like a Kodak moment or the Alpenliebe Sardar dancing on a 'dil le gayi kudi' tune.

There is so much potential untapped that Fashion weeks would never be the same again.