the indianness of gangu teli

the saying goes: kahaan raja bhoj, kahaan gangu teli. some smart researchers from jnu might dig up some half-history of a teli having ruled a minor province somewhere for half a blink of history and flaunt it in your face as evidence of the flexibility of the caste system, while sundry marxists who'd never yield to the probability of upward mobility in a market economy nod approvingly- but does it disprove the logic of the saying? people know: kahaan raja bhoj, kahaan gangu teli.

you can't visualize gangu teli as a raja. there are narratives in many cultures that talk of commoners becoming rajas (or saving rajas)- tales, legends, myths that slowly condense into empirical wisdom. commoners don't become rajas. perigadu rajanta ('perigadu is the king!'), goes a telugu idiom. it refers to another folk tale which talks about a dhobi who is installed as ruler in the place of raja pratapa rudra (of the kakatiyas) for a short while to save the king from traitors in his court.

both expressions, while referring to mythical events that foisted rajahood on commoners also poke fun at the very idea. the exclamation mark was made for just such an idea. there is not an inch of space between germany and austria to accommodate ruritania.

if democracy can't accommodate gangu teli or perigadu, it means their critics need to develop a national outlook, not the other way round. i think this very interesting article by nisha susan captures with great accuracy how narrow the national outlook of some indians is. i also think this paper- “ Nation State” or “State Nation”? Comparative Reflections on Indian Democracy by Juan J. Linz (Yale University), Alfred Stepan (Columbia University) andYogendra Yadav (Center for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi) is a great read.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

(Leaving aside your article)the title in itself is too offensive! The history of gangu teli is too unknown to be used anywhere & everywhere in whatever sense! Before getting normative or positive(in your writing) you must not spark another topic!

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