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.


At 11:12 PM, Blogger shikha said...

i was expecting a post on pramod mahajan jayesh...?!

At 11:58 AM, Blogger BG said...

Very well written blog with a side which i have not heard before.

For people who commented on this article(reservation).

1. Brahmin's only duty is to study, even their daily food they earned as biksham (Begging).

2. Whatever Brahmin's learned cannot be applied today.

3. Brahmins of South India are the highly migrated people due of lack of opportunities and ill-treatment.

4. The only caste in India where every tom, dick and harry can comment on with very little knowledge on the history. I see more and more people talking that they illtreated other sects etc., with minimal historical proof.

5. Reservtions can never solve any of the problem you have talked about, as it did not do anything for the past 50 years.

6. It is convenient for a lot of people to see that most Indians in USA are Brahmins with out analyzing why are there only brahmins here? Fact - Survival of the fittest. The more competition it becomes more competitive they become. No opportunities in India, so they have to move out of India.

7. Like a lot of people who suggest government that they should bring in reservation in Sports, Cinema, Publishing industry (every ten article published 5 should be from SC/ST - we should implement this in Blogging also), dance & other art forms(I am sure you dont want reservation in here), politics (already enough people here), every 100 visa's to USA 50 should be given to SC/STs.


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