Sunday, December 25, 2011

Movements and ideologies - Secular Enemies

With the fall of the feudal system (not really true in many parts of India), there are no true secular enemies to fight against. Corrupts, the present day enemies,  pose a grey are for the general population. Because when it comes to money, many people have ambiguous attitude even though majority of them will never get a chance to commit corruption.

In such a situation, it becomes imperative that we change our definitions of right versus wrong. A person's integrity is irrelevant in the fight against corruption. The necessary thing is whether s/he accepts the view that an uncorrupt society is better for all and in fact can improve his/her financial status in the long run (which can be better or equal to benefits from the corrupt self). I think this attitude is better than hoping to have pure leaders to lead us in the fight against corruption. Following an ideal leader itself is self-debasing.

But the alternative of course requires our vision of future society where we can create jobs for everyone and distribute wealth justly. There are many countries with low corruption indices and which are highly successful. However, many of them have been colonial powers and others have benefited from these colonial powers. So those are not true models for a country like India. We need a model which is neither dependent upon colonies nor dependent upon exports oriented economy.

Update: 26-12-2011
There is no central point in this piece but there are some good observations along the way. The ones I'm quoting below are not.
When you're inside a myth it looks like fact, and for those who were inside the myth of the end of history it seems to have given a kind of peace of mind.
         Surely we would be better off if we put an end to our obsession with endings.

It appears some Europeans are losing big picture in their economic turmoil. Let's see the other side. Or the present society. A recent study sums up the situation quite beautifully.
Why do we stick up for a system or institution we live in -- a government, company, or marriage -- even when anyone else can see it is failing miserably? Why do we resist change even when the system is corrupt or unjust?

When we feel we can't escape a system, we adapt. That includes feeling okay about things we might otherwise consider undesirable.

The point of concern is not whether utopians really seek for a peaceful ending but the common people feeling that the present situation as the best of all endings. 

Random Thoughts - XI_a

Taking my previous post further and considering normal human behaviours (in contrast to different behaviours discussed in psychiatry), I would think it's impossible to find a general truth. We can certainly find individual truths but the summation or the averaging does not give a common truth. This might be obvious, but the disappointing point would be even if one finds an individual truth there is no guarantee that one can create an ideal society for that individual to live in. That kind of society is when obviously impossible in a herd society, it's also not feasible in an individualistic society.

This doesn't mean that an ideal society for an individual is utopian. The word itself is highly limited in its understanding and myopic in its meaning. The present day society is obviously a utopian dream for the past societies. It's a word used by reactionaries who undoubtedly in every barbaric societies of the past, with their position secured, would have justified it with similar vocabulary. These sophists would find true communism existing in the USA when its economy struggled.

The concept of global village or nation without boundaries, even when it comes to fruition, will not create an individual's ideal society. We may need to create nations of ideologies. I don't think there are many ideologies. We need to create only two societies. One is based on lust, where inviting for a cup of coffee is a civilized way of expressing sexual desire. The other is based on love, where any euphemism or physical hints for sex is unacceptable and one can only profess love. The lust is expressed not from words but hinted from the physical presence in lust spaces.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thoughts - XI

If humans are born as mere FPTAs, I think the quest for self-discovery is absurd.
I wrote that and then started searching for information on self-discovery and discovered Thomas Szasz.

I did think earlier that Psychiatry should replace religion without thinking much about implications.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Movements and Ideologies : Berber-Arab Spring

In the relative success of "Berber Spring" and "Arab Spring", it was heartening to see that non-fundamentalist Muslims also have guts to oppose authoritarian regimes or Muslims do have courage without religious brainwashing. The corruption and humiliation felt with the rule of single families perhaps was too strong that it could mask the fear of Islamic take over. But I believe if democracy prevails, the political system could be better than that of Iran. In any case, the so-called secular regimes in these regions didn't do anything to further the cause of secularism among common people(with few exceptions). They just controlled the fundamentalists through force.

But this makes me wonder whether the secular support of the Iraq war even with the argument for democracy is valid or not. Perhaps it was just a matter of time before even Iraqis rebelled against the regime. Maybe secularists thought Muslim Berbers and Arabs were completely hopeless to bring about any change in their society.

Anyway, non-Muslim world is still few years away from becoming completely comfortable with the Muslim Berber-Arab world.

Update: 23-12-2011
A related article in the BBC magazine

According to the historian Eric Hobsbawm:
About the traditional Left;
The traditional left was geared to a kind of society that is no longer in existence or is going out of business. It believed very largely in the mass labour movement as the carrier of the future. Well, we've been de-industrialised, so that's no longer possible.

The most effective mass mobilisations today are those which start from a new modernised middle class, and particularly the enormously swollen body of students.

About Iranian model repeating itself;
The people who had made concessions to Islam, but were not Islamists themselves, were marginalised. And that included reformers, liberals, communists.

What emerges as the mass ideology is not the ideology of those that started off the demonstrations.

Idea of a Nation - v

I have argued before that India satisfies the requirements of a true nation because it doesn’t have a ‘soul’ of its own to irritate, subjugate or  compromise one or the other ‘souls’. But this argument shouldn’t overlook the creation of nation-state India.
When India was created the idea of faceless India was not there. It was a collection of regions where the Muslims were not in majority. The implication of that was;
The upper class Muslims, who were the most privileged class until the British took over the country, clubbed the faceless castes with no say in politics and social aspects of the country until then with the privileged castes

-  According to the privileged castes it was the caste identity (euphemistically known as Hinduism) that has given India the common identity in retrospect
We see mockery of the faceless castes in either of these scenarios.  The humiliation of the faceless castes implicit in the partition of the country has been mitigated by the “secular” identity of the country. Thus the secular India gives dignity and equal claim to not only religious minorities but also to the faceless castes that anyway form majority within the castes.
Now the question is whether we can compromise with secularism and allow a region to secede based on the two nation theory. But I believe there is a greater question than this. Are we insecure with our near perfect definition of nation-state in the definition of India?
Unfortunately, the idea of secular India was a work of few brilliant minds. The majority castes or Muslims have no idea about it. The castes within their caste framework and Indian Muslims(which includes Pakistanis and Bangladeshis) within their religious identity are some of the most barbaric people on earth. Ambedkar had remarked that the caste system never had an intrinsic virtue to liberate itself, which appears to be true for Muslims too. But of course, isolated religious identity or the caste identities are no longer practical in the present world.
Now the question is whether we are withholding our trust in the definition of India because there are people with no idea of secularism and who merely see it a Hindu-Muslim issue. I believe the nation-state India should show faith in itself and experiment.

With this background, in my view we should take the following steps for the Kashmir issue;
  1.            Ask Pakistan to change the name to ‘Islamic Republic of India’ from the present ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan'
    •        of course, incomplete without Bangladesh but so is the name Pakistan which is prior to the creation of Bangladesh 
    •               This request is not a prior requirement for the points 2-4
    •        This requirement is not binding on Pakistan
  2.        Hold referendum in Kashmir with two options. Join ‘Secular Republic of India’ or ‘Islamic Republic of India’ (No independence)
  3.             Referendum should include separate ballots of Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Ahmadiyas, Buddhists and the castes .
    •      There must be an initial ballot to decide whether Shias, Ahmadiyas would be part of Sunni Muslims or would like to have a separate electorate
  4.            If non-Muslims or non Sunni Muslims don’t approve joining the Islamic Republic of India with a simple majority then the valley should be divided and there should be complete population exchange.   

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rise of Patriarchal Society - VIII

In Part -V of this series, I discussed how the conservative view of male preeminence was borne out of  misunderstanding of the sexual reproduction. In this view, women have no part in creation of life apart from acting as incubators. The life is complete in male 'seed'.

This was the prevalent view in many patriarchal societies, which also led to lower respect for females. I would argue the logical result was that the intercourse itself was an act between two unequals thus a low activity. The most respectful man in  some of the said societies was the one who had taken the vow of celibacy.

What about the opposite end of the spectrum? How do libertines consider females and the sexual activity based on their interpretation of creation?
I couldn't get much information on the net whether the dynamics of fertilization was known during Marquis de Sade's time or in the 18th century.However, his libertine novel 'Philosophy in the Bedroom' has a character, Madame de Saint-Ange, explaining foetus as a fusion of male and female seeds. But she continues that the foetus owes its existence completely to sperm. The female seed doesn't create but only furthers the creation. Another character Dolmance expands on this and says we owe absolutely nothing to our mothers as we are completely formed of our sire's blood.                                                                                                       
This libertine philosophy shows at the end of the day it has to twist sexual reproduction in such a way that women don't have any respect in the act. Is this really required for a libertine? We need to observe the respect mothers get in conservative societies.
Many conservative societies are known to respect mothers in a way that mask their womanhood. One cannot ascribe any sexuality to her as that would immediately make her lower. But the founding fathers of these philosophies lived hundreds of years before the advancements of bio sciences. It's interesting to see, libertines of a more enlightened era had to take refuge of the same philosophy to support their sexual libertinism. They had used the same 'male is the true creator' argument to denigrate women in a way that mask their motherhood.
This example shows, sexual abstinence and sexual libertinism, even though sound opposite, were, in fact, born out of the same ignorance. Both are attributes of pure patriarchal thought. However, the comparison is not strictly true as the influence of these two interpretations are not the same. While conservatism has been ritualized and legalized (and slowly being corrected in the modern era), libertinism has remained individualistic.

1. Philosophy in the Bedroom, by Marquis de Sade

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Moral Individual - iii

I have discussed innate morality of human beings in this series of blog posts. I had come to a conclusion that there is no innate morality and it's just a result of feedback loop in humans based on experience of pain. Let us examine the steps involved in this.

- Feeling of pain - a trait
- Keeping memory of pain - a trait
- Observation (of another suffering) - a trait      
- feedback - a faculty
      - perception of another suffering - a basic trait
      - matching perception with memory - maybe a basic trait
- Resultant empathy - a character

I would define,
a character is a combination of traits and faculties resulting in a meaningful behaviour where,
a trait is determined by genes,
a faculty is a latent phenomenon determined by traits

So, basically babies are field programmable trait arrays (FPTA) for a character. I suppose, even 'speech' is a character because it also requires some of the basic traits and feedback faculties.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Random Thoughts - X

I used to wonder why skin colour has not homogenized among castes in South India. I suppose the reason could be that cousin marriages didn't allow such a phenomenon. The mixing of light or dark skinned persons need not be on regular basis and the change in one generation was masked by endogamy of successive generations within the family. With cross cousin marriages losing favour, I suppose the indisputable dark skin colour will become ubiquitous in future.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Origins of Indians: Vesion 8.4.3

According to Pontus Skoglunda and Mattias Jakobssona, in their paper Archaic human ancestry in East Asia;
The genetic difference between Neandertals and Denisovans is roughly as great as the maximal level of variation among us modern humans.
I suppose that further supports the opinion that the Denisovan remains found was actually predominantly Neanderthal.

Via Science Daily

Battle of the Sexes - ix_a

It seems the mystic questions in the previous post were the outcome of my inability to grasp the knowledge or plain misunderstanding. I said;

Men trying to match up is understandable but why do women try to match down? What are those restrictions at cell level?
Based on the information in the article;
Men must increase gene expression on their lone X-chromosome to match the two X's possessed by women. A new study explains just how men manage to do that.
In mammals, cells therefore work to emphasize, or "upregulate," the lone X-chromosome in males and de-emphasize, or "downregulate," the extra X-chromosome in females.
However, it appears the both male and female X-chromosomes are upregulated (male X-> 2X and females 2X->4X). But females downregulate their upregulaged X-chromosomes (thus 2X same as males). From the new study;
Women have two X chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y. The lack of a 'back up' copy of the X chromosome in males contributes to many disorders that have long been observed to occur more often in males, such as hemophilia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and certain types of color blindness. Having only one copy of X and two copies of every other chromosome also creates a more fundamental problem -- with any other chromosome, the gene number imbalance resulting from having only one copy would be lethal. How can males survive with only one X?
Biologists have been debating how organisms and cells manage the imbalance between X and other chromosomes for years, with the dominant theory being that both sexes up-regulate the expression of X-linked genes, essentially doubling their expression to "2X" in males and "4X" in females. Then, to correct the imbalance that now appears in females (since they have the equivalent of "4" Xs now and 2 of every other chromosome), females then 'turn off' one of the hyperactive X chromosomes, resulting in a balanced "2X" expression of those genes across both sexes.
That doesn't lead to philosophical pondeings over the implications. Science sometimes acts as a dampener to imaginatively inclined imbecile.

Via Science Daily

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Origins of Indians: Version 8.4.2

Coastal Migration Theory and I:
A new paper by Reich et al. (2011) has made the following conclusions:

  • Denisovans interbred with modern humans in Southeast Asia at least 44,000 years ago before the time of the separation of the Australians and New Guineans.
  • Southeast Asia was first colonized by modern humans unrelated to present-day Chinese and Indonesians, and that these and other East Asians arrived in later migrations. This "southern route" hypothesis has previously been supported by archaeological evidence, but has never had strong genetic support.
According to them Denisovans were spread from Siberia to S E Asia until 30000 years ago. As of now, this is an unbelievable idea considering;
- Until now Denisovans remains were found in Siberia only
- All remains that were found in East Asia and SE Asia belonged H.erectus branches.
- A recent study has calculated that all these erectus branches were vanished from East Asia long before modern Humans moved to those lands

As we can see from the above points, we have a situation where archeologists could find remains of older hominins that perished around 400k years ago and probably more restricted East Asian regions but not those of Denisovans spread even wider area and lived at least until 40k years ago.

According to the article:
Their analysis shows that, in addition to New Guineans, Denisovans contributed genetic material to Australian aborigines, a Philippine "Negrito" group called Mamanwa, and several other populations in eastern Southeast Asia and Oceania. However, groups in the west or northwest, including other Negrito groups such as the Onge in the Andaman Islands and the Jehai in Malaysia, as well as mainland East Asians, did not interbreed with Denisovans.

I think Y-Haplogroup lines C2, C4 and C6 ( in fact their female counter parts of a human tribe with node haplogroup line of these) could have mated with Denisovans in north-western East Asia and moved to SE Asia.

Via Science Daily

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lineage and Language - 0.2

Previously, when I made a random comparison between uni-parental lineage distribution and the language families I found majority were associated with male lineages. Exceptions were Dravdian, Basque, Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan languages.

There is a new study that discusses about this phenomenon and also thinks languages were spread patrilineally.  Anyway, I would think the process would involve some women too.

Even if the invading or immigrating males formed the majority, without few women among them, there wouldn't be any societal setup for the language survive. I would say, those few women would have formed a societal core in the foreign lands around which out married males propagated their language to the new lands. Had it been only males the chances are remote that they would have been able to create the societal core and more likely they would have taken up the local languages.

Even in Dravidian lands, we don't find corresponding female lines for the male lines. That probably shows migrants were almost completely males.

If we go by this logic, the idea of 'mother tongue' still holds good because at the end of the day it's the societal core setup by the minority females in the foreign lands that propagated the language.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Random Thoughts - IX_c

Even though majority middle class Indians have remained loyal to their 10-20% corrupt self and didn't take part in the movement against corruption recently, there was a tiny fraction who did take part considering their greater uncorrupt self. I wonder whether it's a hypocrisy or what. I'm not sure.

What these fake billers or tax evaders are protesting probably is the lack of human decency in direct interactions. Evading tax probably doesn't come across as villainy as that villainy in a way self directed and also requires a broader view of the society.

The interactions with a policeman or government officials in charge of licensing or a railway ticket collector is not something that one looks forward to. We would  meet these people with power expecting them to demean their propriety. It disgusts us how people can be so nonchalant and ask money directly or indirectly. It humiliates us that people in the mainstream society indulge in the loot of our natural resources or misappropriate the money we give as tax.

It is as if without any personal animosity, people have decided to debase themselves and spoil the well defined personal interactions. We have to face the unpleasantness of these interactions which has nothing to do with our fault but just because some people want to make undeserved extra money.

If anything, corruption has killed justice and respect in man to man interactions. This has added bitterness in our sense of civilized human beings. It's not the money but likely, this loss of decency when it comes to personal interactions and loss of trust with people who misappropriate money, that demoralizes people.

I guess many people were not protesting against corruption but fighting to reinstate propriety and trust in our society.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Buddhism and Jainism in South India - 8

I am writing this post by considering non-violence as the core concept of Buddhism and Jinaism. Sometime back I read a 9th century Kannada Jain work 'Vaddaradhane' (Filial Piety). What really struck me was the kind of barbaric death that the people had to experience to attain Nirvana. Some were killed by wild beasts in a revolting fashion or some were killed in grotesque accidents (sucked into a machine and cut into pieces).

These interpretations of non-violence or violence directed inwards ( and Gandhi was inspired by this and not by Jesus... where he merely found his backing) makes me think that  Buddhism and Jinaism were completely misinterpreted schools of thoughts when it comes to non-violence.

The way to understand the non-violence aspect of Buddhism and Jinaism is to look at the background of people who espoused these two religions. They all came from warrior classes. For these people, violence was a way of life. It's the truth. So, it makes sense for thinkers among them to delve into non-violence. I guess this is the same reason Stoicism looks good on Marcus Aurelius and not on me, a self-styled stoic. I never had power.

But does that justify the kind of inwardly directed violence that these Jain texts extol as a way to Nirvana? I suppose these thoughts infested Jinaism after it was taken over by non-warrior classes. These classes have blindly taken up non-violence and have taken it to the extreme. Since violence of battles or wars was never part of their life, they felt the need to direct violence against themselves so as to give validity to their non-violent way of life.

How can non-warrior classes then apply Buddhism or Jinaism to their life? I suppose they need to look into their way of life and humanize it. Let us consider a merchant. Should he be disgusted with money making (I suppose few Jains renounce wealth at some point in their life as a meaningless thing) or money making through dubious means?

Let's consider a warrior in this case. Should he be ashamed of defending his country? I think not. I would think he should be if he is attacking other countries out of greed thus being responsible for too much grief. The famous story of Ashoka has found this situation as a true reason to embrace the idea of non-violence.

Logically,  a merchant, for whom non-violence is a way of life, should make the dichotomy between money making through dubious means and money making through straight means if he follows Buddhism or Jinaism. But India's past history doesn't give any such ideas. At present, these religions are just fads.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rise of patriarchal society - VII_a

I have discussed how matrifocal tradition viewed semen as nurture and equated it with the rain. This idea was in contrast to patrifocal idea of the womb as nurture and its identification with the earth. As an example for matrifocal ideas getting mixed with patriarchal gods, I had talked about northern Indian tradition of women stripping to please the rain god, Indra.

Now, it appears this tradition could be found in Dravidian lands too. I wonder whether the idea was again a syncretization of the older matrifocal world view with the later partrifocal ideas independently in  South or it came to South because of the northern migrations.

The article doesn't say who the aroused rain god is. Most likely Indra and not Varuna.

Newspaper article h/t: Nirmuka Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Origins of Indians: Version 8.4.1

Coastal Migration Theory and I:
In my previous post on the subject, I discussed how a new finding of admixture between Homo Sapiens and the Denisovans in Siberia bolster my claims of the northern route (that didn't touch India) of early Homo Sapiens. A new study has now completely discarded the idea of Modern Humans mating with an Erectus branch in SE Asia thus further strengthening the fact that all admixture in Melanesians can only be attributed to their Neanderthal infested northern route than to the Erectus infested southern route.

From the study:

Homo erectus went extinct in Africa and much of Asia by about 500,000 years ago, but appeared to have survived in Indonesia until about 35,000 to 50,000 years ago at the site of Ngandong on the Solo River. These late members of Homo erectus would have shared the environment with early members of our own species, Homo sapiens, who arrived in Indonesia by about 40,000 years ago.

The existence of the two species simultaneously has important implications for models about the origins of modern humans. One of the models, the Out of Africa or replacement model, predicts such overlap. However, another, the multiregional model, which posits that modern humans originated as a result of genetic contributions from hominin populations all around the Old World (Africa, Asia, Europe), does not. The late survival of Homo erectus in Indonesia has been used as one line of support for the Out of Africa model.

However, findings by the SoRT Project show that Homo erectus' time in the region ended before modern humans arrived there. The analyses suggest that Homo erectus was gone by at least 143,000 years ago -- and likely by more than 550,000 years ago. This means the demise of Homo erectus occurred long before the arrival of Homo sapiens.

"Thus, Homo erectus probably did not share habitats with modern humans," said Indriati.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Original Father of Dravidian Speakers - Va

I don't think 'appe' and 'appUppa' has anything to do with matrilineal bond between Tuluvas and Malayalis. Since the word 'abbe' is also observed in literary Kannada (mostly Jain) and in the personal names of many Kannada Jain queens, that shows Jain influence in Kannada, Tulu and Malayala regions. Since Tulu region was under Jain rulers until 20th century, 'appe' probaby became a common term. Whereas, in Kannada region by 12th century all Jain ruling classes have vanished thus the elite word 'abbe' didn't become part of common parlance. I don't think there were any Jain rulers in Kerala region (not sure of the Tamil kings of the past), however, the influence could have been there as merchant classes generally patronized Jinaism.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Original Father of Dravidian Speakers - V

Now my daughter calls her maternal grandfather 'appa' as she can't pronounce 'appUppa.. The word  appuppa literally means father's father thus I guess the usage for a mother's father is strange. Another intriguing factor we need to observe is the structure of the terms used for maternal grandparents.

mother's father -> appUppa
mother's mother -> ammUmma
Compare them with paternal grandparents
father's father -> achchachcha
father's mother -> achchamma

If maternal grandparents followed the similar structure as that of paternal grandparents then,
mother's father should have been ammappa
mother's mother -> ammamma

So, it clearly shows that pre-words appa and amma in maternal grandparents didn't mean post-words appa and amma. We probably need to hark back on the Tulu-Malayali shared cultural background to understand this.

In Tulu (as I have discussed elsewhere), the word for mother is 'appe' and father 'amme'. Thus it's very clear that maternally Tuluva-s and Malayali-s were connected before, thus the antique word for mother has been retained in Malayalam as 'appUppa'. What about the second word which obviously meant 'father' as in many Dravidian languages. It's still a mystery why appa is father in other Dravidian languages and mother in Tulu. The difference is in parallel to matrilineal and patrilineal distinctions of Tuluva-Malayalis on the one hand and the rest of the Dravidians on the other.

Whatever be the reasons behind appe-amme dichotomy between partilineal and matrilineal Dravidians, we can confidently say that appUppa is a throwback to Tuluva-Malayali shared history (observed in many cultural aspects even today) of the past. That still leaves me to explain the construction appe+appa.

In my opinion, 'appa' came to Malayali society as a honorific (just like achcha) likely from Tamil region. We need to note that 'ajja', Kannada equivalent of 'achcha', is a term for grandfather in Karnataka. It is possible that both 'appa' and 'achcha' that came as honorifics in Dravidian society replaced the original term for father in Dravidian lands.

I suppose the original maternal grandfather and grandmother
appe+appa -> appEppa -> appUppa
appe+amma -> appEmma -> ammUmma ( a case of over correction in later centuries)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Random Thoughts - IX_b

I suppose some people need to have this self-satisfaction of being corrupts in their small way as it shields them from the reality of humiliation of being looted. I don't understand the smugness of all these fake-billers when they anyway pay the bulk of their IT and pay taxes in multiple ways. Of course, respect to people who skip paying taxes completely. But again what about our natural resources?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Communism and Kerala - V

The biggest drawback of communism is that when it helps working class people to become middle class it loses its ideological foundation. Or in an actual situation when feudal slaves become independent and start moving up the ladder, then the subsequent generations don't have any affiliations to the communist ideology. Realistically, the success of non-communist countries in the world as thriving, egalitarian nations with open societies make communism almost irrelevant. But this is the reality of communism as an economic model. How about the social model?

If we observe non-communist countries that became successful, they already had liberated serfs and opened the door of universal education centuries ago. Almost all of them were homogenous societies with respect to language and religion. Autocratic communist nations tried to promote a common language but for few feeble attempts never really tried to eliminate the religions.

 In Indian context, the communists didn't face linguistic divisions as they ruled linguistically homogenous Kerala and West Bengal. However, the divisions because of caste and religion were always there and never blurred and always remained mainstream.

Unlike poverty and discrimination, the effect of religion or caste is not perpetual for a big chunk of population. Even though, the caste system was responsible for perpetual misery to a great number of population,  those caste ideals have been made illegal. However, the remaining aspects of the caste system or all aspects of religion are perpetually repressing for individuals. But these individuals are never organized and in many cases (eg. women) are unsure of social security -that these organized groups offer- if they dessent. In the case of communities too the differences in identities would lead to catastrophe in the form of communal or caste violence. However, even these do not happen regularly, and don't touch the elite classes in most cases, thus a movement against religious or caste divisions is never possible.

With this background, I believe theoretically the communists of Kerala should disband themselves. Now their existence in Kerala society owe much to the communal and caste divisions than to their ideological positions. This is rather a disgraceful situation. Since they have already made efforts to bring market  economy to the state, it no longer makes sense that they should  remain in the politics as these could be also done by other parties. They don't have any differentiators now. Even though, their ideology has elements that can bring societal change, I don't think they will get any support from the castes or the religionists if they make that as a poll plank. Corruption becoming an agenda of a single party is dangerous to the country as it diminishes the scrutiny against other parties.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rise of patriarchal society - notes

From India's unwanted girls

How girls are valued varies widely across India. Over the years, most states in the south and north-east have been kind to their girls, and sex ratios are above the national average.

In the matrilineal societies of Kerala and Karnataka in the south and Meghalaya in the north-east, women have enjoyed high status and commanded respect. But the latest census figures show the good news even in these areas could be turning bad. A minor decline in the number of girls has begun in the three states which, campaigners worry, might be indicative of a trend.
The matrilineal society of Karnataka!? (and why the blogger word checker doesn't identify "matrilineal" when even the BBC uses it?).  Strictly speaking, only Tulu region was traditionally matrilineal (and most likely only one dominant caste remained matrilineal in 20th-21st century). But it would be nice if the whole society turns into at least ambilineal (well, by that I mean, sons patrilineal and daughters matrilineal).

Update on 24-05-11:
But if the other story is any indication, in the worst case scenario (excess girls in normal societies and excess boys in anti-female societies) matrilineal societies would help the patriarchal societies to sustain themselves. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Negatively and Positively Privileged Groups - ii

When I was writing about feudals' vice like grip on Pakistani political life, I mentioned that tide maybe slowly turning based on an article  in the New York Times. There was something in that article that caught my eye.
In elite circles, Mr. Dasti is reviled as a thug, a small-time hustler with a fake college degree who represents the worst of Pakistan today.
I have come across this phenomenon many times when it comes to leaders coming out of disadvantaged groups. The other day I was reading the GEO magazine, and in there, an article about JF Kennedy, expressed similar feelings against him. He probably wasn't the best of man to represent the marginalized Catholic group. He won because of,
- the money his father accumulated through dubious means
- the support from females brought up with patriarchal/feudalistic ideals (thus they humiliated themselves)

I should first mention about the elite ideals as described in the GEO article
- Money making by straight means
- Anti-racism
- No sexual deviations (eg. paedophilia) and no sexual objectification of women
That is likely a spin. But that is the measure through which leaders from the disadvantaged groups are observed in many cases. Something similar was said about Evo Morales.

In Indian context, the second part would be Anti-casteism and anti-communalism.

Here we find, the lower caste leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mayavati and Narendra Modi have been picked out for such criticism. It's debatable whether our elite classes (or American elite classes) ever practiced those ideals (or more precisely whether they practice it today). However, it's undeniable fact that in majority cases, the initial leaders from disadvantaged communities fail in these counts. I suppose in a transitional society it's tough for the 'good' leaders from the disadvantaged groups to make it to the top (or they need to live more than 80 years).

Another article in the same issue of the GEO magazine gives an alternate view. According to it, more than the person we should celebrate that the ideal against the class division that became mainstream. It's this ideal that cannot be reversed. The spirit of liberalism has only become stronger in the American society. Even at the individual level, this has allowed a person like Barack Obama, coming from a similar or more disadvantaged identity but better personal integrity compared to JF Kennedy, to become the president of the USA.

I suppose that means the next generation leaders from the disadvantaged castes in India will be more real.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Random Thoughts - IX_a

The article I mentioned in my last post declares people who joined a recent movement against corruption in India as hypocrites. These people presumably are corrupts themselves in their own small ways but come out to protest against bigger corruptions. I would think there are two reasons for the author's opinion.

First, it's a view that some things are meant to be pure and even a single violation of whatever background would permanently defile it. Views like these are unacceptable.

For the second reason, let us consider a hypothetical situation where these protests become successful. Would not that make these hypocrites to continue with their true self inviable? So obviously these should be cynical hypocrites. That shows the majority who participated in the protests belong to this category since the whole middle class has been stereotyped as 'hypocrites'. The middle class that didn't participate in the protests are a majority of:
- Cynical but original uncorrupts
- Non-cynical but hypocrite uncorrupts
- Non-cynical but original corrupts

This absolute farce of corrupts fighting corrupts fascinated me. I wanted to delve on it further after my initial categorization. The problem I found in the list of corrupt practices was that, not all of them could be called corruptions. I'm further refining the list. Before that I've to define the term corruption.

Corruption: Any action for undeserved  gain (monetary) for self and/or related ones directly or indirectly resulting in loss to others directly or indirectly.

1. Paying in "black" when buying a house: Qualifies as corruption
  •     Property buyer and seller are both corrupts. The government deserves the money. 

2. Bribing cops to get away with minor offences:
    - jumping the signal or breaking one way, no u-turn: Criminal act but not corruption
    - Carrying no proper documents (forgetting RC, license): Mistake but not corruption
    - having no proper documents: Criminal act but not Corruption
    - no pollution certificate: Stupidity (Pollution certificate is an official scam by the governments) but not corruption
  • Penalty money is not a benefit to the government but way of controlling the criminal act. However, the bribe taker gets undeserved money and may in turn also responsible for any potential damages because of the criminal act of the lawbreaker. The lawbreaker may gain violent pleasure but corruption is about money. 

3. Paying "capitation fee" in higher educational institutes: No corruption from the person as the benefit has to be earned but corruption by the management. Unclear criminal act as the loss to a more deserved isn't confirmed since capitation fee is legal because of loopholes.
  • Here actually the parents are a victim as they have paid undeserved amount to the school thus incurring the loss and the school management has gained undeserved benefit. 

4. Bribing for school admission: No corruption from the person as the benefit has to be earned but can be criminal act and a corruption from the management.
  • Same as (3a) but criminal act because a deserved candidate might have lost out. 

5. Buying an illegal driving license (or any license): Criminal act but not corruption
  • It's a pure criminal act by a citizen but corruption from the government officials. 

6. Paying extra to get gas cylinders ontime, when in short supply: Criminal act but not corruption
  • The gas cylinder is deserved however it's a criminal act as it results in loss to a citizen ahead in the list 

7. Fudging bills to claim refunds: Qualifies as corruption
8. Avoiding paying income tax: Qualifies as corruption
9. Bribing cops when they come for passport identification: Insecurity (passport is not a benefit but the right of a citizen) but not corruption
10. Pulling strings even paying touts, to confirm a waitlisted railway ticket: Criminal act but not corruption
  • Same as (6) 
We can observe that out of 10 only 3 qualify as corruption(1, 7 and 8). Of the rest;
- the government officials are sole corrupts in 2, 5, 6, 9 and 10 (50%)
- Private institutions and individuals in 3 and 4 (20%)

It is very important to define the corruption precisely because every "hypocrite" is against corruption as defined above. What we see here is nearly sixty percent cases are criminal acts. Few are desperate situations but some others are the result of pleasure seeking through violent behaviour. I suppose Indian children should be taught to channel their risk taking inclinations to planned adventures where probable victims would be only themselves. The solutions to some of the desperate situations (eg. quality schools) are the responsibility of the government.

We cannot say Indian middle class has indulged in corruption in multiple ways but is undeniable that there are few instances where  they do indulge in corruption. All the three instances mentioned here basically boil down to paying the taxes. But this is not an unrestorable hymen. Of course, there are people who argue for giving it for charity instead to our corrupt governments which misappropriate it anyway. I don't agree with this line. But giving for charity and then not claiming income tax benefit probably one way of restoring the purity.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Random Thoughts - IX

I thought of categorizing middle class corruption listed by this article in the Outlook magazine.

1. Paying in "black" when buying a house: Corruption
2. Bribing cops to get away with minor offences:
- jumping the signal or breaking one way, no u-turn: Corruption and criminal act
- carrying no proper documents (forgetting RC, license): Mistake by the person
- having no proper documents: Corruption and Criminal act
- no pollution certificate: Stupidity (Pollution certificate is an official scam by the governments)
3. Paying "capitation fee" in higher educational institutes: No corruption from the briber as the benefit has to be earned but corruption by the management. Unclear criminal act as the loss to a more deserved isn't confirmed since capitation fee is legal because of loopholes.
4. Bribing for school admission: No corruption from the briber as the benefit has to be earned but corruption by the management.Unclear criminal act as the loss to a more deserved isn't confirmed since capitation fee is legal because of loopholes.
5. Buying an illegal driving license (or any license): Corruption and criminal act
6. Paying extra to get gas cylinders ontime, when in short supply: Corruption and criminal act (your benefit some one else's loss)
7. Fudging bills to claim refunds: Corruption and treason
8. Avoiding paying income tax: Corruption and treason
9. Bribing cops when they come for passport identification: Insecurity (passport is not a benefit but the right of a citizen)
10. Pulling strings even paying touts, to confirm a waitlisted railway ticket: Corruption and the criminal act (your benefit, some one else's loss)


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Moral Individual - iib

When I was an impressionable teenager (in my early teens) I used to watch a program on animal rights on television. At that time our(my family's) meat eating was restricted to fish(not on daily basis). Chicken or mutton was rare. The family were on and off vegetarians with my father holding himself off for more than 25 years then coming back to the normal self towards the end of his life.

The program was about how non-vegetarianism was leading to inhuman treatment of animals (thus how barbaric the whole non-vegetarianism was). The program provoked me to such an extent that I started bringing chicken meat to home every week. This act in fact followed a period of chicken abstinence as I had trouble cleaning my teeth after eating as they had many gaps in between them.

At that time I had no understanding and experience of the caste system. I had made no observation how vegetarianism was part and parcel of the purity and pollution idea. When I can be easily overcome with emotion just by watching sentimental scenes in the movies, how could a real life situation of cruelty to animals, instead of making me remorseful, would make me angry at the program creator?

Obviously, if some animal lover calls non-vegetarians as barbarians, it  becomes a personal attack. But was this a case, where I believed - because of my ignorance- that I did no wrong and when someone pointed out the contrary I had trouble admitting it? At that time, my argument was that the animals we would eat were reared only for that purpose. No non-vegetarians then no existence of animals of slaughter. Now I don't think I need to justify non-vegetarianism, as the caste system has proved, the idea of vegetarianism is perverted as it develops a contempt for fellow human beings without any guarantee of love for animals. My views are likely biased by "born" vegetarians as I hardly came across vegetarians by choice in my society. Anyway, at that time I got angry.

I wonder, instead of portraying non-vegetarians as barbarians, if the approach of that vegetarian crusader had been different, then would that have convinced me. I'm not so sure. There is an absurd thinking that if people go and see how animals are slaughtered they would stop eating meat.

The act of killing (or violence in general) is as enticing as sex. I  used to go and watch the slaughter of chickens. I didn't feel anything. I suppose it is true for people who like action movies where violence is normal. However, as I have argued before, the empathy comes after violence because of a feedback loop. Majority, I believe, would be moved if the person or animal is half dead and struggling. The sound of struggle and emotion in the eyes are enough to invoke empathy through the feedback system. I did feel this when I came to Hyderabad and saw 'halal' killing. In Mangaluru, chickens were killed in one shot and there was no struggle afterwards. Initially, halal killing disturbed me but I got used to it later on. I guess unless acted upon, empathy can turn into indifference.Is this true in other cases too?

Even now, I can't control my feelings while watching emotional movie scenes. If tears don't roll down like they used to be when I was small, I believe, it's only because watching the computer monitor all the time  has dried up my eyes.

Why can't I control my emotions to the events that I rationally know to be unreal but become indifferent to the events that are obviously real? The clue, in my opinion, is the repeated physical movements of the chicken case and varying emotional outbursts in the form of words in movie scenes. But why would repeated things break the feedback system and dissolve the empathy? As I have already argued before, empathy is nothing but association of self-pity with suffering of others. Somehow, repeated feedback on the suffering of others weaken the link to self-pity. Probably, if I watch the same scene multiple times I would stop getting involved with it. However, if the same emotion in some other movie is expressed with a different set of words I would again get emotional.

Therefore, I would say,
- act of violence doesn't develop empathy (on the contrary it's a clue for reward like sex)
- empathy is developed in the aftermath of the violence if it's long enough to invoke the self-pity
- repeated exposure to the same aftermath would weaken the link to self-pity and thus the person loses empathy
- varying expressive words have the ability to keep the empathy alive even though the fundamental emotion is the same

I suppose, instilling non-violence in any form as a born morality, would lead to perversion as in the case of enforcing the sexual abstinence.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Save on Medicines

I have an idea for anyone who wants to contribute to the society. I don’t know if there is something similar on the web in Indian context or elsewhere.

It’s known that medicines having identical composition can vary in price by 200% or more. Doctors prescribe medicines purely based on their ethical makeup and instructions from the hospital head or pharmaceutical bosses. (I don’t want to use the word ethical make-up for the later two.)

To counter this, the idea is to have a website which will give you the cheapest alternative. It would operate something like this.

1) Enter the name of the tablet
2) Enter your location (State)
3) Get an alternative medicine and price.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

This can also be extended to a SMS based service for people who don’t have ready access to web.

I cannot estimate the efforts necessary but many volunteers with Masters in Pharmacy would be needed to build up the database. Once the database is built, the prices may have to be updated on a 3 month basis.

Easy web interface, no selling of medicines, no advertisements, just information.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Battle of the Sexes - ix

What makes a man? His clothes? His car? His choice of scotch? The real answer, says Brown University biologist Erica Larschan, is the newly understood activity of a protein complex that, like a genetic power tool, gives enzymes on the X-chromosome an extra boost to increase gene expression.
Men must increase gene expression on their lone X-chromosome to match the two X's possessed by women. A new study explains just how men manage to do that.
In mammals, cells therefore work to emphasize, or "upregulate," the lone X-chromosome in males and de-emphasize, or "downregulate," the extra X-chromosome in females.
I'm not sure of the significance of this study. Men trying to match up is understandable but why do women try to match down? What are those restrictions at cell level?

Via Science Daily

Monday, February 21, 2011

Random Thoughts - VIII

I believe, apart from aid by government agencies, charities done through religious organizations are the only acceptable way of helping the needy. In both cases, the self-image of the recipients won't be dented. In the case of government, people think it's the duty of the state to support them. Charities in the name of god make people humble before a non-existing entity, so in practical terms they won't lose their self-respect. Any humiliation would be purely imaginary. Philanthropy or charity in any other form is bound to kill the recipients' self-respect.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I can't access my blog

I can't access the blog but could access my blogger profile. Checking whether  this could get published.

The post is published as I could see from Google Reader. Anyway, I can't access any of the blogspot blogs.

To Maju:
I can't access from home too.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Random Thoughts - Love_Lust

He-> Heterosexual

Just wanted to tabulate various combinations of sexual orientation(not considering all) and mutual instincts. This is a oneway table. This should be read from left column point of reference. I wonder if there is a better way to represent this kind of tables. And if there is a terminology for such tables.

I'm not entirely sure if there can be love between two people of the same sex. The extreme clue for love could be found in the action of suicide. This situation is very obvious between persons of the opposite sexes. However, I don't have any real life evidences for the same sex couple. Nevertheless, I consider it's a possibility because the other day I watched a movie "Little Miss Sunshine", where it was shown that a professor tried to commit suicide after being spurned by his male lover. Does that mean it is possible for a person to be in love with the same sex but  in lust with the opposite sex? I don't have any such examples. However, the opposite case, where a person is in love with the opposite sex but in lust with the same sex is normal. Francis Bacon's life is a good example.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Identities - iii

Differentiating identities:
A homogeneous religious identity of classes and castes was, in my opinion, the sole reason why inequalities could sustain for such a long time between minority upper classes and majority lower classes. The success of Communism in some societies owe it to the new identity that it gave to people. Interestingly, opposing religious identities can become catalysts for class wars. One such example is the Mappila Rebellion of Kerala. The peasants who were Muslims rebelled against their landlords who were the castes.

The peasant Muslim rebels already had a practice for their actual struggle in the Khilafat movement. The Khilafat movement was a religious, a completely irrelevant for a slave Indian peasant, and in retrospect, absolutely shortsighted pan-Islamic movement of Indian Muslims. But that is expected from a wrong ideology like religion. The upside of this religious movement was a meaningful fight against the feudal system. In South Malabar , the feudals were the castes and the peasants were Muslims (and the castes). We hardly hear about the castes rebelling against their co-religionist feudals until the Communist ideology came to that society. This of course does not mean the castes accepted their fate or were passive. Obviously, there were no leaders to group them together and channel their anger. Anthroplogist Dilip Menon makes an interesting point on the plight of bonded labourers in North Malabar society where peasants more mostly castes and suffered more than the Muslims in the southern Malabar[1]. The opposition to the caste system he finds in the Teyyattam, a spirit worship tradition of Tulu and Malayali tribes and in the sorcery practices.

According to him, sorcery in Kerala society was generally associated with Brahmins and Parayans (one of the erstwhile untouchable castes). Whereas for Brahmins, sorcery was a way to maintain their grip on the general population, for Parayans it was a way to protect their space of dignity. Because of their position in the hierarchy they didn't have any protection from upper caste atrocities. Sorcery(or the fear associated with it) was their way of keeping away others from exploiting them. He states that (hope that is not conjectural), the regions where landlords were known to be malevolent the number of sorcerers from the lower castes were higher than the regions were landlords were known to be benevolent to their peasants.

The common religious identity is probably the main reason why Pakistan society is still feudal ridden and there was no revolution worth talking. Even though India too have feudal mafia run states like Andhra Pradesh, the situation is not as humiliating as in Pakistan where feudal dominance in the politics has been unchequered (but the tide is inevitably turning).

1. The Moral Community of the Teyyattam: Popular culture in Late Colonial Malabar, Dilip M Menon, Sage Publications

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Idea of a Nation - ia

It will be the turn of the British Prime Minister now to denounce Multiculturalism or "State Multiculturalism". I wonder whether the report is a deliberate rumour to gauge public opinion (What is the term?).

Addressing a security conference in Germany, David Cameron will argue the UK needs a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to extremism.
Different cultures are encouraged to live apart, and objectionable views met with "passive tolerance", he will say.


The same post at BBC has been updated to reflect the actual given address. I should have copied the complete text in the first instance.

A small change in the above sentence:
"Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism," the prime minister said. 

Anyway, he goes on to say:
Building a stronger sense of national and local identity holds "the key to achieving true cohesion" by allowing people to say "I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, but I am a Londoner... too", he said.
He probably is clueless. That is alright as I believe that a civilized idea of a nation is still in its infancy. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Idea of a Nation - iv

Just found J. B. S. Haldane's description of India which matches my own(bold mine).

 I also happen to be proud of being a citizen of India, which is a lot more diverse than Europe, let alone the U.S.A, U.S.S.R or China, and thus a better model for a possible world organization. It may of course break up, but it is a wonderful experiment. So, i wan't to be labelled as a citizen of India.
 I haven't come across any argument in the secessionist movements that trumps this beautiful idea or this wonderful experiment.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Moral Individual - iia

In my last post I argued that 'pain' develops 'self-pity'. Then self-pity through feedback mechanism develops into 'empathy' to others. I mentioned causes could be physical, psychological and financial. However, I should have restricted myself to physical causes only as the whole discussion was around our basic instincts.

One of the causes I mentioned, psychological, need not be independent. This could be because of societal norms. I believe self-pity in such situations results in insecurity. The cause of physical pain is obvious but the cause of psychological pain is hard to understand. In such situations any empathy that one develops probably meaningless or misguided.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Idea of a Nation - iii

India is hard to define and that makes it a true country. Even though national boundaries cannot be justified, such boundaries are certain to remain for some time, given the unequal growth of various nations. But the question is whether we need to give legitimacy to all those identities of these nations. As we know these are just anomalies of  isolation. Some of them small and some of them big owing to political  dynamics. Many of them are based on language, religion and tribal identities. However, there are too many faultlines in these countries owing to one strong and central identity and other subordinate identities. India is a true country precisely for these reasons. India means:

- No central tribal identity
- No central linguistic identity
- No central religious identity

My opposition is not that these identities are dangerous or divisive but because these identities are primitive, meaningless and result of ignorance. There is no dignity in living or dying for these identities. Sometimes these identities even put restrictions on selection of mating partners to uphold the identities.  Again absurd if one considers the possibility that Homo Sapiens might have mated Homo Erectus.

But other identities based on ideologies should be allowed provided they don't question the idea of India and don't pander to any of the above identities. If these ideologies want to have a say in political and economic sphere they should be allowed to do so either by peaceful means or by violent means. However, financial accountability should be the utmost priority in these things.

If an ideology finds that it can't control the power through peaceful means then it should get money in an open manner to forcefully overthrow the existing ideology of the nation. The tax an individual pays for internal security should come in a separate category.   There should be provision for an individual to pay this part either to the ruling ideology or to the opposing ideology. Since only 2.7% of Indians pay their taxes, there should be provision for 'voluntary' basis for others who are not in the bracket. However, voluntary taxes should be accounted. The army or the forces that take care of external threats to India should be independent of the ideology that governs the country and should never intervene for any of the ideologies.

Does it matter if one ideology supports multiparty and the other single party? I think it shouldn't as long as people for mutliparty have the right to rebel against the single party rule and vice-versa. But both these ideologies should get a generational period (30 years) before any lawful violent opposition can be allowed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Roma - ii

In my previous post on the Roma, I speculated that they were mainly from central-east Indian region. My understanding was based on two factors;
- Romas are predominantly Y-Haplogroup H people. They have negligible R1a1. Had they been north-western people this wouldn't have been the case. Considering that Y-Haplogroup H dominates among tribes (mainly Dravidian) of central-east, their origin should be from that region.
- There is an opinion that Romani language is related to Sinhalese and Sinhalese were originally from eastern India region.

Along with those two points we need to note that there is a similar community called the Domba, who majorly speak the Dravidian languages, and found in south and east India.

There is a new study[1] on mtDNA lineages of the Roma people.

Previous genetic, anthropological and linguistic studies have shown that Roma (Gypsies) constitute a founder population dispersed throughout Europe whose origins might be traced to the Indian subcontinent. Linguistic and anthropological evidence point to Indo-Aryan ethnic groups from North-western India as the ancestral parental population of Roma. Recently, a strong genetic hint supporting this theory came from a study of a private mutation causing primary congenital glaucoma. In the present study, complete mitochondrial control sequences of Iberian Roma and previously published maternal lineages of other European Roma were analyzed in order to establish the genetic affinities among Roma groups, determine the degree of admixture with neighbouring populations, infer the migration routes followed since the first arrival to Europe, and survey the origin of Roma within the Indian subcontinent. Our results show that the maternal lineage composition in the Roma groups follows a pattern of different migration routes, with several founder effects, and low effective population sizes along their dispersal. Our data allowed the confirmation of a North/West migration route shared by Polish, Lithuanian and Iberian Roma. Additionally, eleven Roma founder lineages were identified and degrees of admixture with host populations were estimated. Finally, the comparison with an extensive database of Indian sequences allowed us to identify the Punjab state, in North-western India, as the putative ancestral homeland of the European Roma, in agreement with previous linguistic and anthropological studies.
The important thing here is they found most of the Indian mtDNA (72% ) belong to north-west India. And also, around 20% belong to eastern India.

These findings certainly do not reject the origin of male Romani population in eastern India. However, their linguistic identity could be from north-western India. Or their linguistic identity is matrilineal.

The male population with overwhelming Y-Haplogroup H, was most likely a breakaway group of Dombas whose original language belonged to the Dravidian family. However, they took local women as wives during their stay in Punjab (another break away group, Domaki, is still found in Pakistan) and thus linguistically became Indo-Aryans. This identity they have retained after they left Indian borders which is now in Pakistan.

Their origin in eastern India could be detected in the mtDNA lineages too as eastern mtDNAs are the second largest among their Indian mtDNAs.

1. Reconstructing the Indian Origin and Dispersal of the European Roma: A Maternal Genetic Perspective
 - Isabel Mendizabal et al. (2011)
2. Domba people

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Liberation from caste identity - Part III

I had mentioned that some communities created their own religious culture owing to certain strong religious figures. These communities still followed the caste religious scriptures and retained the caste identity. It makes me wonder if other castes had joined them then whether the caste structure would have been demolished in those regions.

Before delving into 20th century religious cults, let me consider older examples. The Lingayat movement which started in 12th century in the present day region of Karnataka was probably the oldest experiment in this regard. At its inception it was anti-caste, Saiva monotheistic religion. The movement was headed by Basavanna, a Brahmin by birth. So, it was not exactly a caste specific movement but rather a prophet centric movement. The religious figures actively involved in proselytizing.  It had every characteristics of becoming a separate religion. However, later it turned into a mini-caste system. Its initial proselytism died out. As a religion it didn't show any radical alternative to the caste system. The untouchability concept was never discarded by the followers. In present times, there are voices that want this religion to be viewed differently from the caste system or Hinduism. However, the idea is not very strong considering lack of alienness between the Lingayats and the castes. Most likely, the separate religious status for the Lingayats only make them as another endogamous caste.

This is  in contrast to Sikhs. In many ways, they are similar to Lingayats. However, now they have created a separate identity from the castes. I believe the differences are:
- The name and the concept of god in Sikhism is different from the caste system whereas no such differences exist between Lingayatism and the caste system
- Sikhs have their own visible identity markers but Lingayats are indistinguishable from the castes
- Sikhs have 'holy book' identity but Lingayats haven't declared any such exclusive holy book even though it probably wasn't a big deal collecting the sayings of their Gurus
- Probably, the declaration of a holy book and the identification with it had made the caste scriptures alien to Sikhs. Or, since Sikhism was a non-Brahmin in nature, the caste scriptures and Sanskrit learning never really became part of their tradition. However, Lingayats even though initially against Sanskrit language and Vedic scriptures, later accommodated them. Since the founder himself was a Brahmin by birth they probably did have Brahmin influence among its members.
- Sikhs have made their personal names somewhat unique and uniform (though not radically different from the caste names but one can fairly identify the religion). However, Lingayat personal names are indistinguishable from those of caste personal names.

The above facts appear to infer that a unique religious identity based on alternate worldview is rather a function of unique conspicuous identity markers than the worldview itself. Thus a unique religious identity generally requires the following unique properties.
1. Unique god's name
2. Unique attire and/or unique physical marker
3. A holy book
4. A unique liturgy language
5. Unique personal names

How can we measure the success of these alternate worldviews in the societies where they are strong? In my opinion, it should be visible in the lower number of present day Dalits.

Anyway, these two Indian alternates for the caste system haven't done much to eliminate the worst of the caste system, untouchability. In fact, in Indian Punjab where Sikhs form the majority, nearly a third of the population still had Dalit identity(which I suppose indicates the continuation of caste specific marriages). Karnataka's Dalit population is comparable to other states' Dalit population.

Now let me move on to new religious movement which were also against the caste system. Most of these were caste specific. I'll consider the Advaita Saiva movement started by Narayana Guru in Kerala (I don't think they even have a unique identity for this movement). It's a caste specific movement of Ezhavas/Tiyyas. It didn't have a proselytizing outlook. But then there are many uncomfortable questions that come up.

- Whether Narayana Guru and his Ezhava followers would have been confident enough to take up their casteless ideology to other castes. Both Lingayatism and Sikhism had upper caste or fairly upper caste support but Ezhavas were part of the lower castes.

- Whether other castes would have been open to embrace 'Ezhava Shiva' centred religion, which opposed the caste system, renouncing their 'Brahmin Shiva' centred religion upholding the caste system. Even though, jealousy and the remnant caste feelings would have made this situation unlikely, things are not all that straightforward in India.

In India, we see godmen and godwomen from lower castes having a large number of followers cutting across the caste lines. Considering that this ignorance is so pervasive among a big chunk of brahmins too , we would never know the state of affairs if Ezhava movement had turned into a proselytizing religion giving an alternate to the caste system. However, Narayana Guru did not declare himself a godman and godmen/godwomen of India aren't bothered about creating the casteless society. But most likely,  since all these figures are theoretically celibate, one of the fundmentals of the caste system, the pollution of marriage between the castes, is  redundant in their world view. Apart from that, Ezhava religious movement doesn't have any of the five unique features -that I listed above- to become a unique religious identity.