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.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Original Father of Dravidian Speakers - IV

I think it is "ata".

My daughter and my niece both started with 'ata'. One of my relatives also confirmed the same about their infant son. 'Ata' has survived only among Tamil Muslims among Dravidian speakers.  But Dravidian Muslims generally have Turkish identity thus it's possible that they adopted Turkic word for father. Nevertheless, since it's natural for babies in Dravidian region - my niece in Mumbai-Maharashtra, my daughter in Hyderabad-Andhra Pradesh and my relative in Kasaragod-Kerala/Tulu region - to call 'ata' than any other term starting from 'a', I suppose it could be a native term for Tamil Muslims too.