26/12/09

a solution

all i can think of as a solution is what i had always believed would be an ideal solution. all the reddies, velamas, kammas fighting for and against division should be given a separate state, or nation if possible, comprising 1-2 large districts (proportionate to their share in the population) and mr.tiwari should be made their governor or president..

their perennial squabbling would ensure that at least one person in the new state/nation could go about his business undisturbed, psyche and emotions untouched.

17/12/09

telangana: a little education

a couple of years ago, motivated by a certain impulse, i tried to check how many colleges, of all kinds, existed in all the regions (which today constitute the state of andhra pradesh) in 1948 (the year hyderabad state became a part of the indian union). i found this page on the ugc site useful- here are the results i had jotted down and saved:

vedaand sanskrit college..nellore 1926
a. u. college of science and technology , vizag, 1932
a.j. college, bandar. 1910
agricultural college, bapatla, 1945.
andhra christian college, guntur, 1900.
a.u.college of arts, sciences, 1931
andhra women's sanskrit college, rajahmundry, 1931
besant theosophical college, madanapalle, 1915
college of engineering, anantapur, 1946
college of engg., kakinada, 1946
college of fine arts, hyd., 1940
dr.gururaju homeopathy college, gudivada, 1945
govt., city college, hyd, 1924
govt college for men, kadapa, 1948
govt college for women, guntur, 1944
govt degree college for men, anantapur, 1916
hindu college, guntur, 1935
hindu college, bandar, 1928
islamiah arabic and tibbi college, kurnool,1923
n.s.z., college of music and dance, narsapur, w.g.,1934
p.g.college, secunderabad, 1947
pithapur rajah college, kakinada, 1852,1866,1884
osmania medical college, 1846
s.r.r and cvr govt degree college, v'wada,1937
s.v.j.v.sanskrit college, kovvur, w.g.,1912,
sir c.r.r college, eluru, 1945
sri maharajah college of music and dance, vizianagaram,1919
sri narasimha sanskrit college.,bandar, 1923
sri venkateswara arts college, 1945, tirupati
st.joseph's college of education for women, guntur, 1946
university arts and science college, warangal, 1948
university college for women, kothi, hyderabad, 1924
university college of agriculture, hyd, 1946
univ college of arts and social sciences, hyderabad, 1918
university college of engg, hyd, 1929
university college of engg., vizag, 1946,
univ college of science, hyd, 1919
univ college of technology, hyd, 1929,
vr college, nellore,1920

gudivada, bapatla, narsapur, bandar (machilipatnam), kovvur, madanapalle, anantapur, eluru, kadapa-- not many outside andhra pradesh would've heard about many of those towns. some of them have not crossed a population of one lakh even now.

i might've missed some names, the list itself might not be exhaustive etc, etc., but it does give you an idea of the status of educational infrastructure in both the regions. of the importance the ruling classes attached to education. it also indicates the aspirational levels of the middle classes in both regions, maybe. 28 colleges in the coastal andhra-rayalaseema region and 11 in telangana (all of them, except for one, in hyderabad-secunderabad). there were more than a dozen towns in andhra-rayalaseema where you could pursue higher education, or a graduate degree (as it is now called) in andhra-rayalaseema. and in telangana?

please note that the list does not include colleges in madras which was the major destination of a large number education-seekers in the andhra-rayalaseema region.

another important fact that one notices is that while almost all of the colleges in telangana (or hyderabad city, to be more accurate) were started (reluctantly, it'd seem in the last stages of the feudal rule) by the government, private initiative seems to have played a major role in the establishment of colleges in the andhra-rayalaseema region. you might ask what were the jagirdars of telangana doing? their major and only contribution to the field of education was the jagirdars' college (which was/is actually a school), now called the hyderabad public school. and to think that many among them actually owned tens of thousands acres of land (one actually owned over 1,50,000 acres)!

some lies rankle, and some half-truths rankle much more. the rosy picture of a glorious hyderabad and telangana that some learned people, professors and retired dons, try to paint rankles like hell. british india was definitely better.

16/12/09

villages without moonlight

as one poet described it, moonlight was stolen from too many villages in telangana for too long. the fear of police patrols in 'naxal-infested', as the media would describe it, villages was too strong for people to step out of homes in the evenings.

do you think moonlight was ever stolen from the lives of these two champion bull-breeding brothers?

those bulls, as the news report tells you, are an expensive passion: almost half a dozen moonlightless families could live on the money that's spent on them every month. until a week or so ago, the brothers were champion defenders of the ysr clan's right to rule the state (one of them was a minister in ysr's first ministry and the other is a minister in the current government). now they are champion promoters of the telangana cause, champion mike-grabbers who never miss an opportunity to tell opponents of the sacred cause that they shouldn't dare step into telangana.

one of the last scenes in the movie 'maa bhoomi' shows the upper caste jagirdars in the telangana villages stepping out of sherwanis and silk dhotis etc to don khadi kurtas and gandhi caps to join the indian national congress after the annexation of hyderabad by the indian state. yes, history repeats itself like it has run out of ideas. like its growth has been stunted by too little exposure to moonlight.

10/12/09

separated

sad that the telugus should allow 'higher' powers to manage their affairs. that they should celebrate their subjugation and call it freedom. that they couldn't share water, jobs and now cities.

i wish all telugus would ponder over the question: if delhi 'gives', and you 'receive', what kind of power do you have over your lives? some democracy.

05/12/09

mr.tharoor's high perch

soumitro das nails it:

If you ask a Bollywood filmmaker whether this is actually what he is defending, he will be surprised. He believes that the values he is defending in his film are universal — love, family, country, religion... The word ‘caste’ would never cross his mind. Then how do we say that Bollywood films defend caste society?

The arranged marriage or marriage with parental sanction is an institution that supports, that takes the load of caste society through absolute parental authority when it comes to marriage or any other kind of relationship with the opposite sex. This parental authority is taken for granted in Bollywood films. There is no need to even explain it. The world of Bollywood cinema is so cleansed of caste and religion that one is almost tempted to believe that one is dealing with a bunch of ultra-liberals for whom caste and religion do not define the human personality. But the real reason for this absence is that women must not make the wrong sexual choice that could lead to the collapse of society as we know it. So, the world of Bollywood cinema is shown to be a ‘natural’ world, where upper caste Punjabi men are linked up with upper caste Punjabi women without the problematic obstacle of caste ever coming in the way of their union. Whereas, in reality, especially for the middle-class, caste is an overriding factor in marriage in particular and sexual relations in general.

didn't expect the hindustan times to carry an article which contains such plain talk. and here's shashi tharoor, minister in the government of india, unveiling bollywood power:

That’s soft power, and its particular strength is that it has nothing to do with government propaganda. The movies of Bollywood, which is bringing its glitzy entertainment far beyond the Indian diaspora in the United States and the United Kingdom , offer another example. A Senegalese friend told me of his illiterate mother who takes a bus to Dakar every month to watch a Bollywood film – she doesn’t understand the Hindi dialogue and can’t read the French subtitles, but she can still catch the spirit of the films and understand the story, and people like her look at India with stars in their eyes as a result. An Indian diplomat in Damascus a few years ago told me that the only publicly displayed portraits as big as those of then-President Hafez al-Assad were of the Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

Indian art, classical music and dance have the same effect. So does the work of Indian fashion designers, now striding across the world’s runways. Indian cuisine, spreading around the world, raises Indian culture higher in people's reckoning; the way to foreigners’ hearts is through their palates. In England today, Indian curry houses employ more people than the iron and steel, coal and shipbuilding industries combined.

When a bhangra beat is infused into a Western pop record or an Indian choreographer invents a fusion of kathak and ballet; when Indian women sweep the Miss World and Miss Universe contests, or when “Monsoon Wedding” wows the critics and “Lagaan” claims an Oscar nomination; when Indian writers win the Booker or Pulitzer Prizes, India’s soft power is enhanced.

one'd think das and tharoor put their heads together, collaborated, to produce two contradictory versions of the same story.

i'd like to sit in mr.tharoor's enchanting armchair and watch india turn into a bollywood movie, starring miss worlds and miss universes, and wowing critics like mr.das and claiming an oscar nomination or two. wish manoj majhi could sit in mr.tharoor's chair too.

02/12/09

..and the wolves lying in wait



mostly upper caste 'settlers' from telangana in the u.s., expressing their 'solidarity' with 'kcr and telangana students'.

checked through youtube but couldn't find any uploadable videos of the brutal lathi charge inflicted on the mostly obc, dalit 'telangana students' participating in protest demonstrations in osmania university campus on sunday.

please look at all the people in the video carefully- you might find some of them in parliament or in the andhra pradesh or telangana legislative assembly sometime in the future. some of them, i am sure, had been serious contenders for tickets from various parties in the recent elections too.

what does it all mean? nothing, except the protesters in the u.s., were much more aware of the implications of the lathi charge in hyderabad, and the gains from it (and hence were quicker in expressing their 'pain' on you tube), than those who bore its brunt.

30/11/09

sacrificial lambs for a yaagam

kcr doesn't plan any major action without seeking any divine endorsement. he has to attend many pujas, visit several temples and perform a yaagam or two before he can step up to the cameras and announce his plans.

the students and agitators who were beaten up by the police yesterday were mostly from the always-good-to-be-lathi-charged lower castes. and the teachers and activists exhorting them to believe in the 'sacred' cause of telangana mostly represented assorted progressive streams of thought. what were they thinking? that a movement led by upper caste believers in irrational mumbo jumbo could bring about anything remotely resembling concrete social change?

22/11/09

how the bjp finances the congress or vice versa

The rise of the mining business of the Reddy brothers is a saga of crony capitalism and the close nexus established with politicians and pliant bureaucrats. By bending laws, getting new regulations and enactments to favour them and by blatant violation of forest and environmental rules, the Reddy brothers became a major beneficiary of the Rs 4,000-crore annual profits being reaped through the export of iron ore, taking advantage of the boom in the international iron ore prices due to the huge demand for it in China (the price of a tonne of iron ore shot up from Rs 200 to Rs 2,000).

This plunder, connived with the state, saw the government getting a royalty of only Rs 27 per tonne when the price it was being sold at was Rs 2,000. In 2005-06 alone, 35 mine owners got Rs 3,600 crore in profit. It is this ill-gotten wealth and assets which the Reddy brothers deployed effectively for the BJP. The Reddy brothers have not been shy of flaunting their wealth and influence. One of them is reported to have said during a heated exchange in the assembly last year: "People say we are worth Rs 100 crore. I want to correct it…. we are worth Rs 1,000 crore."

what mr.karat fails to mention is that the so-called reddy brothers funded or financed the congress party too in andhra pradesh. now it's gradually dawning on mr.karat's party which had been a part of an all party fact finding committee which had visited the mines leased out to the brothers in anantapur district of andhra pradesh sometime during 2004-05. his party members from andhra pradesh had not found anything irregular in the company's activities back then- was it because the congress was an ally? now it turns out ysr was one of the gaali or reddy brothers' biggest sponsors and also a major partner, perhaps.

crony capitalism is too poor a description. the same robber barons supporting the bjp in karnataka and the congress in andhra pradesh: we should let sonia gandhi or l.k.advani, both of whom have benefitted from their partymen's association with the reddy brothers, decide on a better phrase. i don't find anything particularly incongruous in the fact that the reddy brothers financed both parties: they both represent the same braminized classes, or hindutva family, if you like, in my view.

this recent turn of events has a lesson or two for both those politicians: the next time sonia gandhi decides to unleash a battery of spokesmen and crony mediamen to target mayawati's extravagant spending on statuary it'd do her a lot of good to check how many dozen times more her favourite chief ministers are stealing (not spending publicly, subject to all public checks, like mayawati) from the public in their own states. and l.k.advani has to admit gaali janardhan reddy is much more of an 'iron man' than he ever will be.

21/11/09

of unspeakable crimes

from the website of The Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (or simply, Claims Conference):
The mission of the Claims Conference over its 50-year history has always been to secure what we consider a small measure of justice for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. We have pursued this goal since 1951 through a combination of negotiations, disbursing funds to individuals and organizations, and seeking the return of Jewish property lost during the Holocaust. [...]

As a result of negotiations with the Claims Conference since 1952, the German government has paid more than $60 billion in indemnification for suffering and losses resulting from Nazi persecution
. Claims Conference negotiations have also resulted in the creation of funds from German and Austrian industry, as well as the Austrian government.
[emphasis mine].
the process began in 1951 when the claims conference was formed:

The Claims Conference had the task of negotiating with the German government a program of indemnification for the material damages to Jewish individuals and to the Jewish people caused by Germany through the Holocaust.

On September 10, 1952, after six months of negotiations, the Claims Conference and the West German federal government signed an agreement embodied in two protocols. Protocol No. 1 called for the enactment of laws that would compensate Nazi victims directly for indemnification and restitution claims arising from Nazi persecution. Under Protocol No. 2, the West German government provided the Claims Conference with DM 450 million for the relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, according to the urgency of their need as determined by the Conference. Agreements were also signed with the State of Israel.

The agreements were at the time unique in human history. All three entities involved—the Claims Conference, West Germany, and Israel—had not existed at the time of World War II, and yet all entered into an agreement for compensation for crimes committed during that time. [emphasis mine].

wikipedia has some related information on the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany page.

will india, like west germany, ever acknowledge that …unspeakable crimes have been committed..(against the dalits)...calling for moral and material indemnity?

19/11/09

lame excuses

the brahminized classes have such short memories. wasn't it almost yesterday that they were objecting to reservations based on population numbers collected as far back as 1931? now a.m.shah, former professor of sociology at the delhi school of economics (yes, yet another institution of learning, like the jnu etc., which depends on the unclean sweat and taxes of people like me to pursue 'clean' knowledge), is objecting to the collection of fresh data on castes through the 2011 census- look at some of his arguments:
It is true that caste boundaries are clear in a village, which is a small community, but the census has to count the members of every caste as they are spread in every village and town in a state and often more than one state. The population of small castes may be counted easily, but most are not so small. The Kolis in Gujarat, the Marathas in Maharashtra, the Jats and Yadavas in north India, the Kammas and Reddis in Andhra, and the Okkaligas and Lingayats in Karnataka are huge castes, with unclear boundaries.
counting the population of large castes is a problem? count me in if you need any volunteers. and what does he mean by unclear boundaries? very unclear.
To whom in a village or town would the census enumerator ask the caste question? Would it be every individual in a household or its head? Do we assume that all members of a household belong to the same caste? In which language would the caste question be asked? In Indian languages the English word ‘caste’ has more than one equivalent. In Gujarati, for example, there are five words for caste: jat, jati, jnati, nat, varna, kaum. Each has more than one meaning.
don't worry mr.shah, even if the enumerator uses gujarati in orissa or tamil in assam, i am sure every indian citizen would understand clearly what he's talking about.
How will the caste question be framed? Let us assume it is framed as follows: “What is the jati of your household?” The respondent is likely to give a name keeping in mind anyone of the meanings of jati mentioned above. There would therefore be confusion in collating responses.
confusion? really? most state governments have already compiled enough data on castes/sub-castes/sub-sub-castes to identify clearly the parent sub-castes or castes. check the central lists of dalit/adivasi/obc castes/communities.
It is well known that frequently members of a caste claim to belong to a caste higher than their own, and therefore different members of a caste use different names for themselves. Caste names are also used contextually: one in the context of marriage, another in the context of religion, and a third in the context of claiming a privilege from the state. There is rarely a straight answer to the question: “What is your caste?”
if some people want to give themselves a higher rank in the caste hierarchy, why do you wish to stop them, mr.shah? that'll kill caste a little (for the short duration of the process of enumeration). also reduce demands for more reservations, something people like you, the brahminized classes, would like a lot, i'm sure. or, if some people wish to give themselves a lower rank, to avail of some meager benefits doled out by the state, i think we can definitely depend on some youthful equality-seeking organization to soon find out the truth about them.
The definition of caste as an endogamous unit is questionable. Social scientists have known widespread practice of inter-caste hypergamy, i.e., a lower caste gets its girls married into a higher caste but the latter does not give its girls in return. The Rajputs are known to have received brides from a large number of castes all over western and northern India. A caste which appears to be strictly endogamous at the top of its internal hierarchy may be loose at its bottom. Anthropologists have also known tribe-caste hypergamy in many parts of India. Where hypergamous marriages take place, many members of the bride-giver caste or tribe use for themselves the bride-taker caste’s name as a mark of higher status. Hypergamy has been a long established negation of caste endogamy.
ah..that's a silly objection. if this hypergamy fad was anything more than a mere esoteric fad, caste would've died long ago. if it was really, truly statistically significant (in terms of the numbers of people indulging in it) our media would be talking about it almost every time the issue of caste or reservations crops up, to point out how caste is dead/dying.
Caste endogamy is negated by modern inter-caste, inter-religious, inter-regional and international marriages which have increased rapidly after independence. In an inter-caste marriage the husband and wife belong to different castes. To which caste do their children belong? A child of one inter-caste marriage may marry a child of another such marriage. Since such cosmopolitan marriages have been taking place for the last several generations, a large new class has emerged which is caste-less. What will be its fate in the census?
if inter-caste, inter-regional international marriages have become so rampant, why are you still talking about caste? do you watch a lot of bollywood, mr.shah? your surname somehow reminds me of gujarat and babu bajrangi and his valiant attempts to save the purity of patel-ness. perhaps, he'd agree with you. how large is this 'large new class that is caste-less'? shouldn't we all be happy to find out how large (or again, statistically significant) it actually is? maybe that'll drive some sense into those ignorant folks who practise 'honour killings' even in faraway lands?

i really should stop wasting my sweat and taxes on these elite institutions and their casteist teachers.

03/11/09

the heart of india

what's that? or, where's that? chhattisgarh, according to ramachandra guha and arundhati roy. and you thought they represented radically different points of view?

there's no evidence to suggest, not even in the most creative of hindu myths and legends which are considered the most authentic repositories of history by large sections of the brahminized classes, that hindus, in their 2,000 or 4,000 or 40,000 year history, ever treated the adivasis decently, euphemistically speaking. then how and when did they become indians? or the heart of india?

someone needs to seriously look into the sordid history of how adivasis were conned into becoming a part of independent india. but that's another issue, and what interests me right now is how all participants in the mainstream discourse on the 'heart of india' seem to know it's the 'heart of india'. none of them are questioning that premise. india owns chhattisgarh, the adivasis, their land. and reserves the right to deal with chhattisgarh, the adivasis and their land. the only difference of opinion is on the ways to go about it (some prefer 'democratic' methods, others suggest 'development' and so on), not on india's right to deal with chhattisgarh, the adivasis, their land.

20/10/09

what does the u.n., know about excellence or quality?

It is unlikely that a single UN resolution will radically change the landscape of social realities in India. Perhaps even the UNHRC is aware of this fact. Can its declaration be a tool to harass India then? Is it a clever ploy to keep the ambitious country on a leash in view of its abysmal human-rights record? The idea could be to push India to be answerable for discrimination based on work, descent and gender.
now the whole world seems to have come to the erroneous conclusion that there seems to be something called caste based discrimination in india. but the funniest part of the news report is when it says:
Some good has already come out of the UNHRC exercise, albeit indirectly. Rahul Gandhi, the architect of the ruling Congress Party's general election victory in May, has launched a recent drive to uplift Dalits. He is visiting Dalit homes across Uttar Pradesh and has ordered his party members to recalibrate their welfare programs in favor of Dalits. However, many see the Gandhi scion's move as a larger political game plan to erode Mayawati's base in Uttar Pradesh.
rahul gandhi has launched a drive to uplift dalits? digging up again what he had said (i'd commented on it in this post):
On his stay with Dalit families in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul said for him it was only a matter of trying to know the problems of the poorest of poor. "The press sees me as staying with a Dalit. I don't see myself as staying with a Dalit. This distinction (of Dalit and others) occurs only in the media. It does not occur in my mind,'' he explained.
somebody tell the u.n. the caste system doesn't exist. and if it thinks it does it needs to explain its stand with relevant data and also its understanding of how caste operates and what exactly the manusmriti says.

how can they say something that they don't even understand exists? there seem to be too many unmeritorious people in the world body. get someone from the national knowledge commission or the jnu to tell the u.n., about how to improve its quality. teach them about excellence.

13/10/09

it's not caste?

it's not caste, it's nepotism. malnutrition in india is worse than in sub-saharan africa: it's poverty, not caste? incomes in india, per capita, are better than in a majority of african nations. it's the population, not caste? china has a bigger population and lower malnutrition rates. it's democracy of course, not caste.

it's not caste? take a closer look before you rush to defend it. and why do you have to defend it so strongly?

no caste

rahul baba says there's no caste system. so, how's he the top leader of his party when crores of other members have more experience than him?

25/09/09

this old idea of india

smokescreen's interesting post offering a novel solution to link the indian nation. don't understand why 1) we need to link the indian nation through 1/2/3 languages, 2) if it is a nation, why does it have to be linked through synthetic policy solutions?

why not chuck the whole idea of building india along the lines of a conventional nation, and let the people link to each other? an unfinished, but very interesting, discussion with smokescreen and the recent debates around official/link languages, in the media and elsewhere, reminded me of this old article which gives you an idea of how small (when compared with the total population of any given state) migration from one state to other states even in the worst of times is:
Inter-state labour migration is an important feature of the Indian economy. Most of this movement has been from the most populous and poorest states with net in-migration being higher for the more developed states. Gujarat and Bihar provide an interesting contrast in terms of migration. The population entering Bihar was 364,337 and that exiting the state was more than three times higher at 1,226,839. (Census 1991) In contrast, the in-coming population for Gujarat was double that of Bihar at 716,190 and the out-going population 305,738, a quarter of the population leaving Bihar.
bihar's total population was 8.66 crores in 1991 and migrants from that state were less than 2% of the total population of the state. and bihar, let me remind you, has a long history of out-migration.

most indians prefer to stay or migrate within their own states. it seems to me, what they need are tools to help them connect, or link, with people in their own states first. and india later. should policy, in areas like education for instance, be directed towards helping the most privileged sections (of educated migrants) of that 2%, at best, of india's total population? and i'm not even going to talk about the seasonal nature of a large proportion of all inter-state migration.

18/09/09

a step back

PATNA: Rajput ‘paratha’, Bhumihar ‘poori’, Brahmin ‘kachauri’, Yadav ‘chapati’. Ever heard of these cuisines? These are allegedly served at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), Muzaffarpur to the medicos. Here a 'thali' is identified with the caste of the customer.
why don't they go a step ahead, or take a step back, and serve 'education' that is identified with the caste of the student?

16/09/09

won't you come, mate?

in the indravelli hills
a squad is born
won't you come, mate?

every squad
gave birth to seventy hands
won't you come, mate?

to every tree the hands tied pots
and to every pot they tied the landlords' heads
won't you come, mate?

look! watching the vote yatras and the promises
mother india wept
and in the tears
mother gave birth
to the sun of rebellion
won't you come, mate?

in the singareni coal pits+
ants are born
and as every ant moves daggers are born
and every dagger gives birth to workers' powers
and those powers spill the contractors' blood
won't you come, mate?

in the dandakaranya
the kondhs'* jatara**
on hungry stomachs play the drums of protest
watch how they march to delhi
let's hand over delhi fort to the tillers
won't you come, mate?

that is my translation of a song written, composed and performed by one of my favourite folk poets/bards, vangapandu prasad rao of the jana natya mandali. i haven't been able to find the original lyrics, so had to jot down the lines while listening to the song- would update, edit this when i find the original lyrics. there'd be some lapses- i request readers to tell me about them. you can listen to the song here (first song in the list). it's a version of the song recorded for a film- so, naturally, it uses more instruments and orchestration than vangapandu, as he is popularly known, normally uses in his street/public performances. actually, he only uses a couple of intruments most times- the ghunghroos on his feet and a madiga dappu, perhaps.

* kondhs: he calls them kondollu (people of the hills)- he is obviously referring to the gonds of indravelli (adilabad district, which is adjacent to bastar etc) who are often called by that name by the plainspeople. adilabad and bastar, and other regions of the dandakaranya, have been the loci of many adivasi rebellions in the past 200 years. and also of brutal repression by the colonial and brahminized states. indravelli had been in the news in the early 80s for a tragic incident that occurred on 20th april, 1981- hundreds of gond villagers, part of a large gathering, a peaceful protest rally against atrocities and exploitation (by non-adivasi traders, landlords, babus, policemen and other outsiders), were gunned down brutally by the security forces (official estimates quote a lower figure).

[ here's a link to a news story, in telugu, on indravelli. and here's another account, in english].

**jAtara: fair, religious festival etc.

+ singareni coal pits: the singareni coal mines are spread over adilabad and a couple of other north telangana districts.

15/09/09

old wine in a modern bottle

upper caste boy can't marry lower caste girl, so he drowns himself in drink. people say that isn't rational. and they usually refer to the boy's actions or reactions. and this modern day take on that story says the same thing: the boy is weak. modern is to avoid discussing irrational constraints on girls and boys?

13/09/09

the doon school of egalitarianism

Karan Thapar: Let me question that. India is a poor country. I put it to you that this order of money could be better spent if you expand education, health and sanitation or if you use it to feed the 40 per cent of Indian children who are chronically malnourished.
right. let's check what percentage of indian children were malnourished last year. or the year before that. or ten years ago. or twenty years ago. or as far back as 1947.

11/09/09

new, rich wisdom on poverty

New Delhi, Sept. 9: For the first time, caste and religion may help determine whether a family should receive poverty benefits if an experts panel’s suggestions are accepted by the government.

The criteria for inclusion in the below-poverty-line (BPL) list ought to be eased for Muslims, Dalits, tribals, the Most Backward Castes and the Other Backward Classes, the committee set up by the rural development ministry has recommended.

at last. somebody seems to have knocked some much needed sense into a small section of planners and policy makers in delhi. measuring poverty and deprivation in purely rupee terms has long been a favorite ploy of this brahminized state. in a country where 93% of the workforce can never claim access to a) regular jobs or b) regular incomes, unless one's parent/s held a job in the organized sector or went to a university (and built a transferable medical, legal or other professional practice) , or left urban immovable property or other assets like bank deposits, stocks, business goodwill etc, or passed on canal irrigated land, how can incomes be the sole, major criterion in measuring poverty? especially when most of india's national income itself is, at best, a very loose estimate? when the government doesn't really know how people make or don't make money, how can it confidently say that it can measure how much money they're making or not making?

what proportion of the brahminized classes, working in the unorganized sector, don't fit the above criteria (listed as exceptions to (b) above)?

some misguided politicians, including people who should know better (like mayawati) very often try to convey the picture that poverty and deprivation are as pervasive among the so-called upper castes of india as among those lower down the caste hierarchy or the minorities. policies proposing 10% to !4% reservations of jobs and seats in educational institutions (of available jobs and seats) for the poor among the upper castes are being mooted.

i had asked this question in the past, more than once: what proportion of the brahminized upper caste population in india is poor? if the poor among the upper castes constitute 10-14% of the total population in the country, then more than 40-93% of them are poor (making them the poorest section among the indian population, in the latter instance). because no reasonable estimate puts their total numbers above 15-25% of the total population of the country.

if poverty or deprivation were to be measured in clearly unmeasurable rupee terms, i wonder what kind of reservations or other benefits the poor among the dalits or muslims should demand? twice their proportion in the total population? or three or four times that, just like the brahminized upper castes? if they followed the example of the brahminized classes, percentage of reservations for only the poor among those sections would be substantially higher (or twice/thrice as high) than the proportion of all dalits or muslims in the total population.

i had said in this post:

seventy percent of indians have little or no basic reading/writing skills. and almost all of them belong to the lower castes, but no one involved in policy-making ever acknowledges the fact that almost all of them belong to the lower castes- euphemisms such as the poor, people below the poverty line etc., serve as effective purdahs. researchers go to great lengths to take the sectarian sting out of the truth, to purify bad statistics with good taste. 80% of india lives on less than a dollar a day. what does that tell you? nothing.
i am glad someone out there agrees with me.

08/09/09

on born leaders

The Congress is worried that if it chooses Jaganmohan Reddy as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, the Opposition may get a chance to bring corruption charges against him, which will damage the party in the long run.
jaganmohan reddy wasn't a big businessman before his father became the chief minister in 2004. ahmed ali shaik of ibn says:

Jagan started a power plant in Karnataka in June 2001 with an investment of about Rs.30 crore. Jagan claimed that the plant became almost operational even before his father became chief minister in May 2004. But his career took an upward turn after YSR became the Chief Minister. Jagan floated several subsidiary companies like Caramel Asia, Raghuram Cements, Jagathi Publications and Indira Television. Whenever he needed money, he floated a subsidiary company; allocated shares of that company at a premium to big corporates and raised several hundred crores.

In a very short time, he achieved what others failed to achieve in over three decades. He started a Telugu newspaper and from the day one itself he had 24 editions and is now reportedly selling over one million copies daily. On Feb.24, he also launched a 24-hour Telugu news channel. In less than four years, he has set up businesses in many states in the country and operates in energy, infrastructure, real estate, cement, media and other sectors. Presently, all his businesses put together are worth nearly Rs.20, 000 crore.

as ali observes, jagan mohan reddy became so successful after his father became chief minister that his worth has increased by over 200 times in less than five years.

this is what i find funny: while jaganmohan reddy was growing 200 times in less than five years, in full public eye, liberal media in india was churning out reams and reams of print on how mayawati was wasting, in their view, a few hundred crores of public money on public parks which in her view were for the public good. you've every right to dispute her idea of public good, but consider a couple of issues first: everything that mayawati spent would be checked and rechecked by publicly appointed auditors and her government would have to account for every paisa. and the public will reject her in the next elections if their idea of public good doesn't match hers. two, if the nregs which focuses on creating work, digging-trenches-and-filling-trenches kind of work basically, for the poor without focussing much on building assets is an acceptable public works programme, as projected by the neo-keynesians among the ruling classes, why are mayawati's parks, which also provide employment and create real assets (unlike the nregs), less so?

coming back to jaganmohan reddy, ali also notices the media's disinterest in him:

You may be surprised as to how this story of unprecedented success was never reported by any of the business newspapers and channels in the last few years. Surprisingly, this young gentleman never wanted publicity for his success. Infact, he was never accessible to the media. He never spoke to the media about his business plans nor did he make his achievements public.
well, mayawati doesn't seek the media's attention much either, but for entirely different reasons- from her first, very short, term in office until now, the media had always looked at her with unrelenting suspicion, smelling a scam behind her every action. but jaganmohan reddy was allegedly milking his father's influence, and the state's coffers not-so-indirectly (most of his corporate investors were getting huge contracts from the state government for the irrigation projects, on which nearly 50,000 crores have been spent in the last five years, being built across the state) all this while, building a 20,000 crore empire- how could the media have missed it?

and now the state cabinet has passed a resolution that it wants jaganmohan reddy as the chief minister, most of the mlas have signed a petition to sonia gandhi, congress workers across the state are holding dharnas and generally indulging in a lot of congress-style dramebaazi to tell the public how badly they, the public, want jaganmohan reddy as chief minister.

the state congress president was violently booed out of a condolence meeting that he had convened yesterday because he'd suggested that there could be other aspirants for the post. one of the few backward class leaders in the top echelons of the state congress outfit- what was he thinking? how could he have even thought that he could aspire to be a chief minister in a state that had never seen any backward class minister holding any important portfolio until ntr came to power a couple of decades ago ?

most of the media too is busy manufacturing consent, projecting jaganmohan reddy as the right chief minister. despite the fact that the local media knows more about his shady deals than the uninterested national media. so the state congress president, unless the hindu gods who had ages ago assigned a certain place to people of his kind and the congress high command for its own mysterious reasons together decide otherwise, has very few chances of becoming the chief minister. or making rs.20,000 crores and expecting the media to look the other way.

06/09/09

new dream

for having skinned the five spirits
by driving a nail into the sky
another into the patala
and soaking the hide in the seven seas you
deserve those sun and moon gods
as sandals for your feet!
in hunger
or in humiliation
head bowed
you stitch
your skin into shoes
grandfather!
i dream
that this world
should turn into a strap
and kiss
your big toe.

my translation of dr. enDloori sudhakar's kotta kala from 'kaitunakala danDem', a collection of madiga poetry.

05/09/09

ignoble merit

anoop puts it eloquently:
Indian academicians and intellectuals are not ‘lazy’ but highly incompetent as they are the product of a society where merit is at premium. A caste-ridden society, where the caste interest and caste-pride take precedence over everything, can never produce genuine/objective scholars and academicians.
it isn't the first time that someone from a marginalized community has expressed that view. dr.ambedkar had very patiently tried to explain how caste makes a society inefficient, quite a while ago. every time a young student from a similar background walks into an indian university you can be certain that that realization would strike him at least once during his stay there.

why doesn't it strike those with merit, as certainly, or as frequently?

the nobel is one popular yardstick for measuring 'merit' among the brahminized classes. but i don't think they ever bother to take a look at how nations one-hundredth the size of india, in terms of population- like austria, norway, sweden, switzerland, belgium- have won more nobels than india, even when we include all the non-indians, also-indians and once-indians in the short...list of indian laureates.

those nations are older? well, austria, norway, sweden, switzerland and belgium still bagged more nobels (8, 6, 17, 14 and 5 respectively) than india (4) after 1947.

01/09/09

wasn't it from your blows...

sirs!
weren't we of the superstructure until yesterday
how would we have any base
without any foundation
how can there be any structure
true!

until now, building everything for you
became our only occupation
leaving us with no building of our own

sirs!
look at that
marxism, ambedkarism
the ride on twin bullocks has begun
our madiga dappu had turned cold
having drummed the background score for you all this while
today, with reddening eyes it has turned warm again
readying to compose your funeral beat
wasn't it from your blows, sirs,
that we learnt how to retaliate?
the time will come
the time has to come
saved, like the sharpness of a knife,
the resentment so intently saved in our bellies
isn't it only now, sirs-
that it is gathering strength?
we are boycotting your courts
where those who should be in cages
sit on thrones and deliver judgments
the gun might be yours
but the hands that shall press the trigger are ours
we proudly declare!

my translation of the poem 'meeru koTTina debbala nunchE...' by kO.pra. found that in a recent collection of poetry by madiga poets called 'kaitunakala danDem'.

28/08/09

binu karunakaran on the uid project

some of the questions he asks:
Will the government be the only authority which can use or request the UID? What information in those databases will be linked explicitly to other databases? Who has the authority to create this linkages and who all can access this information? Would the people who use the UID for various transactions be informed of the algorithms used to analyse their data. Will the data collected stored forever? Article 20, clause 3 of the Indian constitution states that " No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself ." Will data records generated by the UID be used against the accused in a court of law? There is not much clarity on this as the confidentiality level of data elements (open to all, open only to security agencies/NGOs) are yet to be finalised.
none of those questions have been answered as yet. but the way the article proceeds, one sees a certain pattern:
But the security agencies will definitely have a say on this. They would be specifically interested in Data mining, a process that involves the use of mathematical analytical tools to detect patterns in large sets of data with the purpose of predicting certain kinds of behaviour, such as the propensity to engage in criminal activity or to purchase particular consumer goods. They would also be looking at data matching - the technique of comparing different databases so as to identify common features or trends in the data.
the rest of the article follows a similar line of analysis and criticism, almost (will probably return to this article in the future).

there are crores of families without a ration card in this country- the questions, karunakaran doesn't seem interested in are the questions anyone from those families would probably want to ask. like, will this unique number convince the state that i exist?

26/08/09

public good and all that rot

smokescreen asks here:
Surely their vision isn’t blinkered by the bpo sector?!
her question is about the national knowledge commission. a few days ago, the chairman of the commission was advocating the need for taking education to the masses through internet.

there are around 50 million to 81 million users in india, according to different estimates (anyone who logs into the net even once a month is a user), but only around 2.6 million internet connections, as of october last year. even if those connections had doubled since last year (quite impossible, because imrb says growth in internet users has been slow since 2001 in this 2008 report ), what makes the chairman, nkc, think the number of connections could grow twenty times in the next five years (to 100 million connections)? and why does he believe that any of those connections would be owned by members of the masses? would they still be masses if they were doing so well as to afford regular internet connections?

that's a wrong response to the chairman's wisdom. why? it means that you are accepting the chairman's idea of public good: different kinds of education for different classes of people. it means you differ with him only on the means to achieve that end.

would pitroda teach his kids or grandkids through the internet? would he want them not go to exclusive private schools where they probably teach french and horse riding and other neat things, among other things, but admit them into a government run school so that they could be taught through the internet, sometimes, because the teachers don't work most times? no. but he still thinks his project is for the public good. and a lot of people, including the ruling government, seem to trust him. why?

came across this interesting study by a group of american psychologists- here's the outline:
One of the most curious aspects of the 2004 presidential election was the strength and resilience of the belief among many Americans that Saddam Hussein was linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Scholars have suggested that this belief was the result of a campaign of false information and innuendo from the Bush administration. We call this the information environment explanation. Using a technique of “challenge interviews” on a sample of voters who reported believing in a link between Saddam and 9/11, we propose instead a social psychological explanation for the belief in this link. We identify a number of social psychological mechanisms voters use to maintain false beliefs in the face of disconfirming information, and we show that for a subset of voters the main reason to believe in the link was that it made sense of the administration’s decision to go to war against Iraq. We call this inferred justification: for these voters, the fact of the war led to a search for a justification for it, which led them to infer the existence of ties between Iraq and 9/11.
you need to justify nehru's decision to create iits when there were no proper schools in most indian villages, so you come up with a lot of spin now. so, whatever figures one digs up on the state of the internet in india now wouldn't make the slightest dent in the credibility of the chairman, nkc. and when the project fails to take education to the masses through the internet, five years from now, it still wouldn't make any dent in his credibility, because we need to believe he couldn't have been wrong. he was working for the public good.

it doesn't take too much effort, many times, to bring to light the private, sectarian interest in projects pushed through as essential for the public good. but some projects stay so deeply entrenched in the public mind as public good that it's very difficult to dislodge them. that's one major reason why i've always liked the 'real university' series of posts by abi: many of those posts build a strong argument against the elitist mindset of our planners and policy makers. in one of the first posts in the series, abi points out how the much glorified institutions like the iios (iit/iims etc) are inefficient:
Creation of these new institutions is premised on an over-reliance on Indian Institutes -- a phenomenon which is best abbreviated to IIO. As a strategy for positive change IIO is flawed, inefficient, and expensive. From the point of view of nation building, IIO represents an utter bankruptcy of imagination.

The flaws in IIO stem from its smug assumption that, somehow, small institutions training a few thousand students in niche areas are enough to feed the country's immense appetite for skilled manpower. This smugness also makes it callously indifferent to the hunger for knowledge and skills among our millions of students who languish in our universities and colleges.

From an operational viewpoint, IIO has historically been an inefficient strategy. In any academic institution, certain facilities are common: library, lecture halls, laboratories, sports facilities, amphitheatres, and computing and internet infrastructure. The bigger the institution -- the larger the student and faculty population that uses this common infrastructure -- the lower the effective cost per user. With its emphasis on small institutions, IIO has bred inefficiency. A similar argument applies to the student-to-teacher ratio. Currently, IITs operate at about seven students per teacher (going by the 2003 figures from the Rama Rao Committee report). As M.A. Pai points out, this ratio is three times as high in "most US public universities." Clearly, a poor country like ours has every right to expect -- in fact, demand -- that our institutions perform at the highest levels of efficiency. Engineers and managers from our IITs and IIMs would demand no less in the products and services they design, develop or manage!

More important than its inefficiency and narrow vision is the enormous cost of IIO. Just ask yourself this question: if our government is so proud of its IIO strategy, why doesn't it convert all our universities and colleges into Indian Institutes of This and That?

yes, why doesn't the government convert all our universities into Indian Institutes of This and That?

...Let us do some quick math.

The three new IITs, for example, are estimated to cost Rs. 1400 crores per year for the next five years! When fully operational, they will have a student strength of about 14,000 (8000 bachelors, 2000 masters and 4000 doctoral students -- all of which are generous estimates), giving us a price of Rs. 50 lakhs per student. Amortizing this sum over a 20-year period gives us Rs. 2.5 lakhs per student per year. That is just fixed costs alone! Add to it about Rs. 1.5 lakhs per student as annual running expenses, taking the total to over Rs. 4 lakhs per student per year!

To put this number in perspective, if our government were to lavish even a quarter of this amount on every student, it would end up spending Rs. 100,000 crores -- roughly 3 percent of GDP. Put another way, this is eight times India's current expenditure on higher education (0.37 percent of GDP)! Is it any wonder, then, that "IITs for all" is not the favourite slogan for our higher education planners?

there's another question one needs to ask: what kind of minds could've conceived the idea that a miniscule section of the population deserved such irrational largesse? minds steeped in the ideology of caste, in my view. but the answers you might get from the ruling classes would always be couched in modern, democratic rhetoric.

25/08/09

new trishankus



shahrukh khan's detention has been a great jolt for india's brahminized classes, as i said in this post. this is all quite ironic considering how hard the shahrukh-karan johar duo have been, since the mid-nineties, trying to bring normalcy to indian cinema, seeking acceptance from the west. check the photographs. look at how the extras, who looked so poor, dark, indian in the first photograph blossomed into such svelte, light skinned, normal people in the second. until a decade or so ago, it wasn't indian or foreign models who played the roles of extras (or junior artistes) in hindi movies. now normalcy has become such a rage that lighter skinned actors have moved from the song sequences to even lead roles in many movies. and shahrukh himself has become the icon of normalcy.

normal is fair, normal is successful, normal is healthy. normal is also the west. i had watched a part of a movie (kismat konnection) recently in which a young architect sacrifices everything he has to build a community center as part of a new mall. it's a disturbing film- no, not because it offers some new, profound insights into indian society. it's disturbing because it plucks indian society, or parts of it, out of india and plants it in the west. the community that the architect intends to save in the film consists of indians and others who are mostly light skinned people. let me try to restate all that in one sentence: the filmmaker rejects one community and saves another community. which means what? the filmmaker doesn't like community? or he likes community?

like cutting india out of shree 420 and raju ban gaya gentleman. the film conveys the message than an indian community is impossible. if shree 420 held out the possibility of such a community, raju ban gaya gentleman outlined the difficulties in building that community, kismat konnection drops the idea altogether.

khalid mohammed says, in his review titled raju ban gaya canadian:
Right off, it has to be admitted that director Aziz Mirza’s Kismat Konnection avoids vulgarity and viciousness. It’s about little people who are as chaste as the morning’s toothpaste. They want decent jobs, protect senior citizens in their community centre, dream about featuring on the cover of Time magazine (Newsweek won’t be pleased). And above all, they are absolute Business Shark-a-haris. No mean-`n’-meaty tactics for them.
he could be talking about the brahminized classes who make, distribute and watch hindi films. or how they'd like to think of themselves. no vulgarity or viciousness. chaste and shakahari. work hard in decent jobs, and save enough to protect senior citizens (if they've not been shakahari enough and saved something). smart enough to aim for global recognition.

an indian community is impossible, so let's take it outside india. let's create our own geography, free of viciousness and vulgarity. a community that's chaste and upholds shakahari ideals. that works hard and preserves its traditions.

look at these other reviews of the film: [the telegraph], [times of india], [dna] and [rediff]. notice how most of the reviews don't notice the change in location? yes, the brahminized media too has internalised these normal, extra-geographic ideas of india. as liberalization etc has let loose more people from the brahminized classes upon an unsuspecting world, and as we hear more of the globalized indian, have they given up the idea of an indian nation?

let's go back to the movie- in the last scene the young architect, in a community meeting, tries to convince businessmen financing the proposed mall of the need for a community center. the meeting held in a large hall evokes very strange feelings- most of the community members doing the talking are indians, while a large section of the audience, the other members of the community, mostly white or black, are all silent. exactly like india before mandal and the rise of the bsp.

the brahminized classes don't like an audience that talks back. the pen, the mike, and now the camera are things that they hate sharing or giving up. like the hindi the architect and other interlocutors in the scene i described use, their language too isn't for sharing with any audience- if it can't be sanskrit, it has to be highly sanskritized forms of hindi and other indian laguages, or english.

the scene is a throwback to the nehruvian liberal discourse running through shree 420 with a major twist, of course. the audience in that movie too doesn't talk much. they listen and dance- the main character does most of the talking, singing and preaching. the mostly listening audience could be a part of the community the nehruvian liberal envisaged. now, he doesn't like the cacophony they create in parliament.

this distaste is also reflected in the cinema of the brahminized classes- they seem to dislike the unchaste others so much that they don't even wish to see them as a market. so they have mostly moved their product to cleaner, more meritorious spaces in the multiplexes. the more chaste among them wish to protect themselves even further: they want to move their homes, sometimes, into their own trishankus within unchaste india.

what the indian filmmaker tries to see in the west is a reflection of how he sees himself. the wealth, success, merit of the west- that's what he likes and that's what he thinks he shares with the west. and as long as the west doesn't talk back, community with those normal people is a fine idea.

24/08/09

myths around english

some myths need to be busted:

myth no.1: english is going to get you the best jobs in the future.

the truth is, there isn't going to be any growth in the best jobs available in the country in the future. not for another twenty years, at least. consult any astrologer or goldman sachs on what would happen beyond twenty years. the best jobs in the country are in the organized sector: jobs that offer both good pay and benefits and security. those jobs have actually decreased in number in the last twenty years and will continue to do so.

of the future, there is only one kind of growth that can be predicted with any degree of certainty: growth in the number of the self-employed (who already number 55% of the workforce in the country).

'kanTi chooputO champEstaa'

which translates, literally, to something like: 'i'll kill you with my eyesight'. that's a line from a popular movie of the faction genre, a class of movies unique to telugu cinema (which should actually be called krishna-godavari delta cinema, because the great majority of the filmmakers etc are from that sub-region of kosta or coastal andhra).

the faction genre is dedicated to revelling in the gory, exaggerated, fictionalized accounts of the heroic lives of the eminently dislikeable paalegallu (cousins, in more ways than one, of poligars in tamil nadu and palegars in karnataka), or factionists as they're called, of rayalaseema. the song i'd linked to in this post takes a more realistic look at the misdeeds of the factionists.

what made me think of those movies now? random surfing yesterday led me to this post (the comments, actually). no, i was not interested in all the 'this-regional-cinema-is-better-than-that' line of discussion. what i was interested in was what was glossed over (and is glossed over elsewhere, in more serious fora too) : why are the films made in telugu classified as telugu cinema at all? or why are films made in tamil called tamil cinema or films made in malayalam called malayalam cinema or films made in bengali called bengali cinema etc?

the faction genre isn't actually unique to the erroneously classified telugu cinema- the line i quoted was from the remake of an original tamil movie (one of those movies which glorify the lives of rural gounder-thevar-naicker-etc tyrants). telugu cinema is essentially the handiwork of kammas, reddies and brahmins with significant contributions from rajus, kapus (some sub-castes) and velamas. mostly brahminized intermediate castes. all of them together make up not more than 20% of the state's population. what we call telugu cinema is a product of their kanTichoopu, or vision or nazariya. and there's definitely nothing pan-telugu about it. i've talked about whose nazariya is reflected in hindi cinema in this post- who speaks through so-called tamil, bengali, malayalam etc cinema?

i bet they all kill everyone else with their kanTichoopu.

22/08/09

random thoughts: item numbers

how much can the efforts of private individuals and organizations help improve access to education and healthcare in a country of india's size? or in any country of any size? read an interesting article on a related subject, today, by a member of the faculty of one of the best private medical institutions in the country.

prof. k.s.jacob of the christian medical college, vellore, writes:
Caste plays out in India just as race plays out in the U.S. and the social class in Britain. Birth seems to determine health, education, employment, social and economic outcomes. Systemic injustice requires much more than a change of heart; it requires changes in social structures. Social injustice is killing people and mandates the ethical imperative of improving the social determinants of health.
he also refers to evidence on how caste affects health outcomes, in particular:
Data from the National Family Health Survey-III (2005-06) clearly highlight the caste differentials in relation to health status. The survey documents low levels of contraceptive use among the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes compared to forward castes. Reduced access to maternal and child health care is evident with reduced levels of antenatal care, institutional deliveries and complete vaccination coverage among the lower castes. Stunting, wasting, underweight and anaemia in children and anaemia in adults are higher among the lower castes. Similarly, neonatal, postnatal, infant, child and under-five statistics clearly show a higher mortality among the SCs and the STs. Problems in accessing health care were higher among the lower castes. The National Family Health Survey-II (1998-99) documented a similar picture of lower accessibility and poorer health statistics among the lower castes.
and his approach to improving health outcomes?
The structural determinants of daily life contribute to the social determinants of health and fuel the inequities in health between caste groups. Viewing health in general as an individual or medical issue, reducing population health to a biomedical perspective and suggesting individual medical interventions reflect a poor understanding of issues. Social interventions should form the core of all health and prevention programmes as individual medical interventions have little impact on population indices, which require population interventions.
prof. jacob's overall message is quite simple, really: an aiims, or an apollo, in every state capital in the country wouldn't improve health statistics.

just as an iit in every state in the country wouldn't solve the problem of illiteracy. nothing but social intervention would solve the problem of inadequate access in healthcare and school education. in my view, private efforts can do very little and in the long run could even harm everyone's interests by taking the issue off public consciousness and policy makers' priorities.

social intervention means everyone should get a basic, assured level of attention. neither aiims nor iits/iims are social interventions: they're the policy equivalent of item numbers in indian films. they enhance the marketabilty of exclusionist projects of keeping the great majority of the underprivileged illiterate and vulnerable while seducing a few with the promises of individual advancement.

why isn't any dalit bahujan thinker demanding the dismantling of these exclusionist institutions? or opposing this sustained system of stratification in the delivery of public goods like education and health?

why is everyone focussed on issues like english, when it is quite evident that the ruling classes have no plans to deliver the same kind of education to everyone, whether in english or in any other language, now or in the foreseeable future, unless their exclusionist mindset is challenged?

21/08/09

remove this caste system?

a news report says:
Community organisation goes on sit-in on gotra issue.

Jhajjar (Haryana), July 30 (PTI) A community organisation today began an indefinite sit-in outside a village here on the issue of a marriage which allegedly violated the social norm of ''bhaichaara'' (brotherhood). Members of the Kadyan Barha Khaap Panchayat started their sit-in outside Dharana village here on the issue of marriage of a youth Ravinder, belonging to a Gehlout family, with a girl of the Kadyan gotra (clan).

The khaap announced that the sit-in would carry on till the family did not leave the village bowing to its diktat of either dissolving the marriage or leaving the village. The panchayat has also summoned a ''Sarva Khaap Panchayat'' (a group of all gotra panchayats in Haryana) in Beri town here on August 9 for discussing the matter.

strange kind of bhaichaara. and notice how the police, the indian state, don't seem to notice how openly some people practise caste- panchayats are held publicly and the police don't even look the other way, usually. who's going to provide the bandobast? and notice how the state protects those who break caste, sometimes:

Bhopal, Aug 12 (PTI)At a time when inter-caste marriages are being encouraged by the governments in various states, a functionary of Aaron Panchayat in Madhya Pradesh's Guna district has been terminated from her service for "marrying outside her caste", but was reinstated later.

Chief Executive Officer Hemlata Mandloi, a tribal, was sacked on January 14 this year after she married Avadhesh Sharma belonging to upper caste, official sources said today.

elsewhere, the speaker of the lok sabha exhorts her countrymen: remove this caste system.


20/08/09

nehruvian or liberal?

shyam benegal objects to certain satnamis objecting to a line in the play 'charandas chor':

In the process of dismantling caste equations, some of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Dalit communities give themselves identities that no longer associate them with their traditional professions. The new identity requires a reworking of community histories and mythology. Any reference to the old identity can only seem offensive. As part of the mainstream, they are likely to lose their special identity.

It is largely for this reason that it becomes important for them to adopt dominant forms of expression so that others may hear or understand their points of view. Even more important for them is to establish their view as the last word. Any expression that they perceive as an attack on their identity is responded to with considerable vehemence.

Governments have a tendency to accede to such demands when the community they constitute is a significant votebank — as is probably the case in Chhattisgarh.

i am increasingly convinced that the expression indian liberal or nehruvian liberal is a contradiction in terms.

15/08/09

clash of meritocracies

google shahrukh khan and you get over 3 million search results. tom cruise and brad pitt will get you 29 million and 25 million search results respectively. is shahrukh khan only 1/9th or 1/8th as popular as those hollywood stars? he needs to climb higher to get the americans' attention- unlike what some actors and others from the mumbai film industry seem to think:
But when it comes to Shah Rukh, it doesn't take more than 20 seconds to figure out who he is. Any search engine on the Internet will give more information on him than Hollywood stars Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt and despite that if it took them two hours to figure out..
shahrukh himself found the detention a 'little embarassing' (in his own words). it meant 'disrespect'. how could anyone so rich, successful and famous be treated as any another khan?

the reaction- how could the americans be so dumb as to detain a celebrity, downplays the fact that khan was detained because he was a khan, muslim, indian, south asian, asian, brown....different. this contradiction seems to escape the media and khan's friends in the industry and khan himself. didn't he say that it was his name which aroused suspicion, initially?

celebrity is also merit. the brahminized classes, once in a while, reward those not born to merit with celebrity if they find them meritorious enough. or if they accept or do not challenge the brahminized worldview much. people like dr.abdul kalam or m.s. subbulakshmi or shahrukh khan. it's a strategy that works beautifully- the world sees a hindu nation lionizing a muslim president and thinks: the hindu is so broadminded. and the hindu can go on pushing his narrow agenda of merit.

what is merit? one simple answer: merit is the hindu's modern shorthand for purity.

the media found much irony in the fact that khan was making a film, my name is khan, which tells the story of a man who is detained by the american police because they find his behaviour suspicious. and why is his behaviour suspicious? because he suffers from a developmental disorder called asperger's syndrome. this website dedicated to the film says:
Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder on the autistic spectrum. People with Asperger’s are often very intelligent but have deficiencies in social skills (for example, they may not pick up nonverbal cues, or establish eye contact), tend to take every comment literally, and are highly sensitive to sounds, smells or colors. Relationships, especially romantic ones, can be extremely challenging.
so, in the movie too khan isn't arrested, chiefly, because he's khan, muslim, indian, south asian, asian, brown... he's arrested because he suffers from a neurobiological disorder.

doesn't that sound similar to this argument: students who can't make it to the so-called best institutions in india suffer from poverty, not caste.

truth is so much simpler than the fictions the brahminized classes feed themselves- karan johar (while conceiving his movie) doesn't think the idea that a khan could be arrested for, simply, being a khan is believable (though reality had told him otherwise even during shooting of the movie when one of the muslim actors in the movie had to be sent back home). so he feeds himself a fiction that that could happen only if someone was not normal, and in the twisted sense that he understands the disorder, that someone who suffers from asperger's syndrome is not a normal human being..... the reaction of khan's pals in the industry (when faced with the reality of khan's detention) is the outcome of a variant of the same fiction they've fed themselves- that successful, famous people are normal. how could normal people be detained?

who's normal? those who are born to merit. or those who display to the satisfaction of those who are born to merit that they possess merit (like shahrukh khan etc). but that doesn't seem to be the way the americans understand merit or normalcy. merit for them these days is something that the khans, muslims, indians, south asians, asian, brown people do not possess. and normal people are those who have the right to measure every one else's merit. which can only mean people born in america or western europe.

this is a great jolt for india's brahminized classes who desperately wish to be measured as normal by the west.

while the americans seem to publicly acknowledge that they don't see any merit in khan-ness, india's elite would never do that.
the brahminized classes of india would publicly admit only poverty, as they measure it (i.e., in purely rupee terms), and certain physical impediments to leading, in their view, a normal life as the only markers of difference. people who suffer from those disadvantages have a legitimate claim to our sympathy. others are whiners. look at shah rukh khan himself- hasn't he become so rich and successful? so when they make films, their distrust of khan-ness, of otherness, would always be camouflaged in asperger's syndrome.

freedom...

..is not having to listen to 'ai mere watan ke logon' or 'amma tujhe salaam'.

12/08/09

dharma, artha, kama

and here's more evidence on why the indian nation is hindu:
I come from a family of film directors and writers and producers, and I was certain that I’d grown up watching movies with titles like the ones I’d used. So I phoned Ashish Rajadhakshya, editor of The Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema, and asked him to put some queries to his database. He came back with some interesting numbers. It seems that to date, 31 feature films called "Dharma" have been made in India; if you allow for variations on the word (like "Dharma Yudh"), that number goes up to 84. Similarly, thirty movies called "Shakti" have been produced; it’s 54 if you allow variations. For "Shanti," the numbers are ten and eighteen. For "Kama," three and three. For "Artha," one and six.3 I suppose some overworked clerk at the Ministry of Permissible Language forgot to send out the right memo to the film industry.
i am sure there are more movies with 'khoon', 'pyar', 'chor' etc in their titles than those with 'dharma', shakti', 'kama' etc. but this other vikram chandra (the first, if you had missed my previous post, works in ndtv) also imagines india mostly in the hindu mould. it's not that indian cinema is less hindu, but its production requires more interaction with non-hindu elements than the production of an indian writer in english. he/she mostly had mostly gone to private schools where non-hindus were mostly absent, had lived in neighbourhoods where non-hindus were mostly tradesmen, hawkers, domestic help (or local cabbies, chaffeurs, road-labourers, maids, cooks, bakers, struggling actresses, security guards etc) - and anything resembling close interaction with them was usually frowned upon by elders in the family. he/she had mostly enjoyed a social life almost entirely peopled by hindus. and then had gone to university, where non-hindus were either totally absent or were made to make themselves invisible. and if he/she had gone abroad, to a foreign university, india would remain more emphatically hindu than if he/she had continued to live in india.

macaulay said:
The languages of western Europe civilised Russia. I cannot doubt that they will do for the Hindoo what they have done for the Tartar.
i don't know how any russian would react to that boast- but the hindoo continues to remain a hindoo, 174 years after macaulay delivered that prediction, and still retains an abiding interest in dharma, artha and kama.

[ why this series of posts on english? i don't know, but the subject seems important to me. the question of why a modern, democratic state classifies some engineers among all the engineers and technocrats it produces as better engineers and technocrats (alumni of iiti/ims), for instance- i haven't found any answers to those kind of questions either. both questions seem related, as psb too points out here].

11/08/09

do the chinese have to plan how to break up india?

the indian media says he's a chinese strategist working with an influential think-tank. and he seems to have stirred up the indian media into ill-concealed indignation- why?
Written in Chinese, the article, "If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up," is published in the new edition of the website of the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (CIISS), an influential think tank that advises Beijing on global and strategic issues.

According to D S Rajan, director of the Chennai Centre for China Studies, Chennai, Zhan Lue, the author of the article, argues that the "so-called" Indian nation cannot be considered as one having existed in history as it relies primarily on Hindu religion for unity.

The article says that India could only be termed a "Hindu religious state" that is based on caste exploitation and which is coming in the way of modernisation.
please ignore for the moment the 'little action' the strategist allegedly suggested to the chinese government and focus on his analysis of the indian nation: The article says that India could only be termed a "Hindu religious state" that is based on caste exploitation and which is coming in the way of modernisation.

now, what's wrong with that? the story is from the ndtv website, and only a couple of days ago the english news channel of the group had aired a debate in which the anchorperson, most of the wise guests and the audience in the studio were shouting down or hurling thinly veiled insults, when not indulging in sniggers, at the arguments of a courageous pair of guests who were seriously trying to expand the discussion on mayawati's statues.

was the channel sincerely interested in discussing whether mayawati's statues were for the public good? no, it was just another opportunity for hindu india to tell the marginalized who decides what's public good in india. was the chinese strategist wrong?

a friend asks: why do you watch those debates? he's right, of course. i've watched too many of them for too long, on television and outside. but those are the only events that provide any space for people (even if as targets than guests) you'll never find on any other programme. check ndtv profit or ndtv imagine, for instance. imagine non-existent special component plans being discussed on them. or a soap on karamchedu or khairlanji.

vikram chandra's authenticity

My region is a hugely cosmopolitan place. Every single person who lives in my region is a cosmopolitan. I am of course a cosmopolitan; I travel away from my region every few months to make a living. My neighbors do also. There are the Gujarati diamond merchants who spend three weeks out of every four travelling from Africa to Belgium to Holland; flight attendants who fly to Beijing; businessmen who sell textiles in Australia; mechanics and welders and engineers who keep Saudi Arabia running; merchant navy sailors who carry cargo to Brazil; nurses who give care and nurture in Sharjah; and gangsters who shuttle between Bombay and Indonesia and Dubai as part of their everyday trade. But there are many other cosmopolitans in my regions. I mean the men who have left their homes in Muzzafarnagar and Patna to drive cabs in Bombay; the chauffeurs who send money home to Trivandrum; the road-laborers from Madhya Pradesh; the maids from the Konkan coast; the cooks from Sylhet in Bangladesh; the Tamil bakers; the struggling actresses from Ludhiana; the security guards from Bihar; the painters from Nashik who stand on roped lengths of bamboo three hundred feet in the air to color Bombay’s lofty skylines. They are all cosmopolitan. A woman born and bred in Dharavi, in the heart of the city, is a cosmopolitan because she lives and works in this city of many nationalities and languages, this city that has become a vatan or homeland for people who have travelled very far from their vatans.
very amusing. the americans in iraq, afghanistan, kuwait, panama, pakistan, central america must also think their regions are cosmopolitan, because the local cabbies, chaffeurs, road-labourers, maids, cooks, bakers, struggling actresses, security guards, painters- all fall over each other trying to sell their services to them, the americans, in whatever english they can muster. for dollars. what does that tell you? that the iraqis, afghans etc are cosmopolitan while the americans aren't.

vikram chandra, trying hard to say he's the real thing while arguing that authenticity doesn't matter. a poor advocate for whatever he's trying to advocate.
 
Add to Technorati Favorites