Saturday, September 05, 2015

OBCs and Conversion

In my opinion, all non-Brahmin castes must convert to other religions which gives them non-hierarchical independent identities. Although, the caste identities didn't go away in Christian and Muslim communities in India, the present day India with its far open society provides genuine chances to people to get an independent identity and eventually may pave the way for individualism. However, the options are not all equal.

1. Islam: Converting to this religion would  hurt the manliness of Hindutvites. However, as things stand today, this religion is detrimental to both men and women part of that religion. Even though part of the ruling classes and had a literal religious background for so many centuries, the backwardness of people belonging to this religion in the cow belt shows it's not most suitable for the personal development of individuals in the present scientific era. So, I don't favour it.

2. Christianity: Converting to this religion would humiliate Hindutvites. It's a liberal religion owing to the development of rational society in European lands. However, the rise of fundamentalist Christianity in the USA would probably make the converts to look toward the US and not Europe. Even then compared to any Indian religions it's relatively open, so, I'm fine with it.

3. Buddhism: Converting to this religion doesn't bother Hindutvites as they think they are more virile than Buddhists. But the compelling reason for being a Buddhist in India is, at present it's the religion of Dalits. And the intellectuals from Dalits are some of the most level headed and rational people I've come across(except when some of them start talking about glorious Buddhist past at which point they start sounding more like Hindutvites).

However, one of the recent OBC conversion to Buddhism appears to have glorious Buddhist past narrative. But there are OBC conversion with better reasons like those from Koeri caste converting. As long as Buddhism doesn't degenerate into vegetarianism/veganism and OBCs don't try to keep a separate identity from Dalit Buddhists, I'm fine with it.

4. Jinaism: Even though this is a minority religion, Hindutvites probably consider it as one of the Hindu castes. At present, Jains are at the forefront in promoting casteism in India with their promotion of vegetarianism. As a recent survey showed they are only next to Brahmins when it comes to caste discrimination.

So, I'm not at all in favour of conversion to Jinaism (even less than Islam). However, previously, considering Jain theoretical concept of casteless society, their theoretical hardcore concept of atheism and most importantly their contribution to Kannada culture, I was seriously thinking about joining Jinaism. In fact, my plan was to start my own Jain, Cow Eaters Gana(cultto rationalize it completely. But as things stand today, I'm completely disappointed with that religion as I find myself completely helpless with their vegetarian onslaught.

5. Sikhism: Hindutvites have overawed reverence for this religion. Sikhs are seen as protectors of Hindus. I find this as disgusting as their hatred for Islam. I'm neutral about this religion. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

OBCs and Affirmative Action - iv

Creamy Layer
I suppose the idea of creamy layer is that these are the OBCs who have arrived both economically and educationally. However, the stronger indication is the income of the parents. I'm not sure how valid is that.

However, even though I find affirmative action in education is a must for OBCs, I'm not all that sure about jobs. I do agree with affirmative action in administration (as along with education, this was another area where many but not all OBCs disadvantaged because of the caste system). So, I believe there should be proper correlation between affirmative action and disadvantages the caste faced because of the caste system. Priesthood of course one of them, however, nobody seems to be really bothered about it. Because of these I would agree with affirmative action in education for dominant Sudras too.

Any argument for job reservation, apart from administration, because of lower quality of education, I'd think, can't be accepted. Low quality education is only because of the incompetency of the administration and not a policy like the caste system.

Previously, I had some misgivings about the creamy layer concept. However, the way reservations have been implemented, now I feel they aren't all that bad.

I've heard stories of how x% reservation for OBCs have been turned into (100-x)% reservation for the privileged castes. Even if the candidate had scored enough marks to be admitted under 'general' category, s/he would be forced take up reserved category seat because of their reserved category caste certificate.

So, creamy layer concept can mitigate such duplicity somewhat, in case these 'creamy layer' OBCs tend to do well academically.

However, I was told getting a caste certificate for an OBC is not all that difficult. There is hardly any income checking. You don't even have to bribe. So, there is some kind of cynicism in the official circles if they are from privileged castes and stupidity if they are from under-privileged castes.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

True Capitalist Society - ii

Anyone who has spent time in the US will recognise the type: strong, decent, honest, unfailingly polite and with a sense of right and wrong so highly developed as to take a terrorist threat as a personal affront. Combine that with the US tradition of can-do pragmatism and it was a safe bet that of all the passengers aboard, Spencer and his crew were the least likely to take this lying down. The key thing is the absence of any tendency to complain that “they” (the council, the state) have or have not done something. The downside of this commendable outlook is that it is used to underwrite the ideology of the free market whereby everyone, however powerless or disadvantaged, is left to fend for themselves.

When I read the above paragraph from this article, the immediate thought that came to my mind was Nikolai Chernyshevsky's "What is to Be Done?". Because I could recognize that ideal US male type in his Russian novel. However, what didn't match was that such a outlook results in mindless free market.

According to Chernyshevsky, in such a society the market is far more egalitarian and makes everyone owner of their produce. Or not just the brave men, the sense of justice exists among entrepreneurs too.

It has been speculated that Lenin was deeply inspired by Chernyshevsky's novel as his manifesto takes its name from that novel.However, when I went through the Wikipedia article, I didn't find much connection.

I suppose those Americans would have still fought the terrorist even if they had found themselves out of harm's way but others in powerless situation. If fighters have that kind of outlook, shouldn't the affluents in the society have that kind outlook towards their disadvantaged?

Let's say there were no 'saviours' on that train, wouldn't we expect the government to take proper security measures? If the US is so confident about its brave men, we wouldn't have heard about so many over the top security measures in the American state. If that's the case with security, shouldn't there be some considerations from the state towards the struggling population?

Just like brave men, there could be generous businessmen spending their money on the welfare of the poor. However, just as in the case of security measures even when a state have such brave men, it requires that the state to take care of its struggling population.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Vernacular Indian Media and Bigotry

It could be said that traditional literature in Indian vernacular languages is overwhelmingly castiest and sexist. So, I agree with some Dalit intellectuals' argument that fellow Dalits should embrace English to escape the castiest indoctrination of the vernacular literature. I suppose that should be true for most of the non-Brahmin castes too.

However, in the last century we have seen radical ideas becoming mainstream in India because of their success in European society, even though those ideas always existed in Indian society but losing out to the castiest ideas and leaving us in dark ages. And these ideas came to be represented in vernacular Indian languages too.

While I was growing up I read both liberated and bigoted literature in Kannada. If I look back, I feel, liberal literature was more mainstream than the bigoted ones. Of course, there were mainstream bigoted authors too but in sheer numbers liberal Kannada authors held sway. So, Kannada was becoming the language of Kannadigas irrespective of caste. However, now I wonder whether it's true any more, especially in newspaper industry.

In my region (coastal Karnataka), I would say there were moderate Kannada newspapers along with rabid Hindutva ones. However, over time, I observed that many of the Kannada newspapers were moderate in the sense they were moderately bigoted.

They show communal prejudices and promote conservative and pseudo-scientific (which in Chesterton's words represents true India) ideas. In fact, there was an attempt by Christians in that region to come out with a 'secular' newspaper to counter the parochial view of these papers (which are run by Hindus). However, I don't think it has been successful. A left leaning newspaper is not even a mainstream one. In fact, a columnist with Hindutva views became quite popular in some other region of Karnataka and got elected to Indian parliament.

I wonder whether a tiring liberal movement, which reads and watches mostly English media, has created a vacuum in the vernacular media to be exploited by bigots. I suppose this is true in Pakistan too. I've heard Urdu newspapers are generally bigoted there.

It appears as if native Indian languages once on the way to become the voice of reason have relapsed into becoming the tool of bigots.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

India should send troops to fight ISIS

Archaeological sites belong to major sections of human population part of different countries. The artifacts are mostly from an era when nation states were not created or the original population of those places now could be moved to different regions or some of them could be created by non-natives. 

City Planning - 2

We need dryers run by solar power in every residential regions so that people don't have to hang their clothes for drying. This way we can get over that ugly sight of drying clothes. In fact, once we have these dryers available for everyone(for free or nominal charge), hanging clothes should be made punishable under law.

I still don't have a practical solution for public urination.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bengal famine of 1943 and the caste system

My colleague brought to my attention the point that majority deaths were among artisans because of the famine and not in castes who had land or involved in agriculture in some way.

This was also mentioned in the Wikipedia article

As in previous Bengal famines, the highest mortality was not in previously very poor groups, but among artisans and small traders whose income vanished when people spent all they had on food and did not employ cobblers, carpenters, etc.

The explanation given, that artisans and small traders had no income as nobody spent money on their skills or wares, basically considers existence of artisans and small traders as a natural order of things in India as in any other society.

But that is never true in Indian society.

Those artisans and small traders were endogamous caste units. In other societies, artisans and small traders would have relations among farmers and others. Or in a village everybody would have been related to one another. Of course, there were class differences. But majority lower classes wouldn't have divisions based on occupations such that they would have kith and kin from the same occupational group.

Even class divisions are not natural order of things. However, consider a similar society in India. Would we have read that the majority mortality was among artisans and small traders in that case?

I would think there would have been less hoarding and more distribution of food because of kinship.

Considering the fact that the situation wasn't really bad for the poorest of the poor(who most likely involved in agriculture), I would think situation would not have been so worse for not so poor non-agricultural non-privileged castes. 

I certainly think the caste system was responsible for such caste specific deaths.

This is not the only moment of truth for the caste system where it failed spectacularly.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sanskritization and Vegetarian OBCs

The caste system is far from a rigid system in which the position of each component caste is fixed for all time. Movement has always been possible, and especially in the middle regions of the hierarchy. A caste was able, in a generation or two, to rise to a higher position in the hierarchy by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism, and by Sanskritizing its ritual and pantheon. In short, it took over, as far as possible, the customs, rites, and beliefs of the Brahmins, and adoption of the Brahminic way of life by a low caste seems to have been frequent, though theoretically forbidden. This process has been called 'Sanskritization' in this book, in preference to 'Brahminization', as certain Vedic rites are confined to the Brahmins and the two other 'twice-born' castes.
M N Srinivas in  Religion and Society Amongst the Coorgs of South India

We don't know what particular castes M N Srinivas was talking about. He was more a caste apologist than an objective anthropologist.

One look at the vegetarian profile of the castes in India shows Sanskritization was just a 'wannabe'ness than a real upward movement. This is particularly true for OBCs.

When Mr. Modi makes a comment that "people who eat meat have a different character", pointing to his upper caste meat eating colleague and rival, he only shows the castiest thought process and not his elevated caste position as a vegetarian.

When I hear vegetarian OBCs gloating that many IT professionals in the US are vegetarians, I wonder whether they really understand the caste profile or do they really believe sense of brotherhood with their non-meat eating privileged castes masks the social and educational backwardness of their fellow OBCs? Hasn't the progress of meat eating societies all over the world helped to overcome their overawed reverence for the caste reference society?

I would think they have a misplaced pride about being vegetarians.

Their real pride should show in non-conformity of Brahmanical rules and not in playing by the rules set by the Brahmins. I believe they should only consider the spirit of their ancestors who didn't think they were low but not the path (vegetarianism) which ultimately served only Brahmanism.

Maybe they just don't understand that they were Sanskritized.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Nehru and Jinnah

Since a right-wing party has come to the power, it's been open season on Nehru. He is the ultimate villain. Now before getting into Nehru, something about people who putforth such thoughts.

It's difficult to argue with the people who only view well known people as either heroes or villains or any thing in absolute goodness or absolute badness creating irrelevant moral dichotomy. But they of course consider themselves as practical persons.

Let us consider couple of allegations against Nehru.

1. Nehru was not secular as you think
    - When they proudly say this something as a 'gotcha', sometimes you get the suspicion that the very radical and counter-intuitive nature of the claim itself might have convinced them the truthiness of it. Considering the unbridled hatred that the Hindutvites show for Nehru in this country, it of course is counter-intuitive. But it's not something people who do not worship Nehru but acknowledge his work towards secularization consider worthy of discussion.

2. Nehru was responsible for the partition not Jinnah.... I mean both are equally responsible.
    -  This comes with some unclear ideas about Indian-ness, nation-state and even democracy based on majority. Nehru becomes power hungry and Jinnah a rational man finding no place in Hindu dominated India (there are many other reasons for the two-nation theory which of course aren't important here)!
    -  For all the talk about Jinnah being secular, he certainly showed prejudices that he inherited because of his Muslim identity. He was in the league of atheist and communal Savarkar(though I don't think Jinnah was an atheist).

   - When Jinnah joined Muslim League (which he found initially too communal), he endorsed a kind of people who always felt entitled to rule. This section of the Muslim community has always been enemy of an idea of democratic, egalitarian India. The results could be still seen in Pakistan which is still ruled by feudal elites. However, when there was a discussion on partitioning the country, there was another movement from under-privileged caste Muslims opposing it. Even though, they formed the majority in what is now nation-state India, their social standing and the stature of their leaders were insignificant. Their common-sense and rational argument against the partition held no chance against the philosophy of Allama Iqbal, descendant of Kashmiri Brahmin converts to Islam, an ideologue for the two nation theory. This side story of lower caste Muslim opposition to the partition and its irrelevance, strikes a chord with rationals from lower castes who themselves have been rendered irrelevant with the rise of Hindutva. Nehru would have become Prime Minister anyway as a leader of the party that won majority but for Jinnah it was an entitlement similar to the feudals who formed the Muslim League.

   -  Jinnah's prejudice because of his Muslim identity could be seen in his personal front too. He was a typical example of those rotten Muslims who would marry women from other religions but wouldn't consent their women to marry into other religions. So, Jinnah carried many prejudices as a Muslim and also as a privileged caste Muslim. It's not just his ego but the prejudices because of his Muslim identity that led to the partition and deaths of millions. If he was really secular the question of identity would have never been there. It's no wonder that people with prejudices are very short-sighted and responsible for great calamities. The two-nation theory was the creation of entitled Muslims and Nehru had no stake in it. So, it's unfair to hold him responsible in any way for its implementation.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Random Thoughts - Hinduism and Hindutva

The way right-wing and liberal differences are unraveling in India, the worrying and scary part is we are probably becoming a highly divided society. Because of the right-wing rule, many of the "sensitive" topics are becoming commonplace. In those arguments, conservatives get into the 'Otto' mode.

Otto: You pompous, stuck-up, snot-nosed, English, giant, twerp, scumbag, fuck-face, dickhead, asshole.
Archie: How very interesting. You're a true vulgarian, aren't you?
Otto: You are the vulgarian, you fuck.

A simple example;
A: Some libberral fascists think that Yoga shouldn't be taught.
B: Well, fascism is about imposing and controlling things or having general intolerance about dissenting voices. So, imposing Yoga is fascism. How opposing such imposition could be termed fascism?
A: No, you are a libberral fascist.

It appears as if a right-wing strategy to employ anti right-wing terminologies purely as abusive terms against liberals without any meaning or context.

Then if you try to reason with them to show the absurdities of such usage, they get into either
- whining mode;
A: Alright, you libberrals are always right...
- combative mode;
A: Alright let's see who is going to be proved right...
the Otto mode.

And here emerges the scary picture.

One can argue that both right-wingers and liberals have strong beliefs. However, it's the emotional nature of the arguments for right-wingers' self-righteous beliefs that makes any argument highly incompatible leaving bad taste among all parties.

And most worryingly, this is dividing people who should be natural allies because of their social situations and standings.