02/10/11

lessons from paramakudi for telangana

does anyone seriously believe that the telangana agitators now pleading/begging/cringing before the congress brass in delhi are liberators? do they seem to be upholding telangani self-respect? or that they care about decentralization?

their actions disprove all three claims.

why do all those valiant 'revolutionaries' from telangana seem like so many unctuous petitioners outside a high powered public official's office? because they are exactly that: petitioners seeking recognition.

this is no revolution. it's something that has happened many times in the past, across many regions.

every major state in india has 100-300 castes. at the top of this pyramid are around 10 castes, on an average, who are always over-represented in the houses of legislature, judiciary, bureaucracy, media, education and academia, industry, trade, cinema etc. their presence in all those fields helps them dominate the field of culture and ideas too. all the rest are under-represented in all fields.

in the north, castes identified with the top three varnas are a natural part of the top layer of the pyramid. other castes like the kayasths, khatris, jats etc had to fight for a place in those top ten. and colonialism helped them, through building more democratic public institutions and providing them employment in the bureaucracy and the army. after independence, a few more upper obc castes joined the empty spots in the top ten, and are still trying to consolidate their position. though they've managed to increase their presence in houses of legislature, they haven't been able to make much strides in other fields. meaning: they're under-represented in all other fields associated with wealth and power and hence still sound very subaltern. the continuing hold of the yadavs and nitish kumar on large sections of people in those states is proof of this.

outside the north, or u.p-bihar specifically, the top three varnas are sparsely distributed, so it's the shudras who form a overwhelming majority of the top ten. the three states where the british had presidency towns, witnessed a quicker spread of education among the shudras which led to the first major non-brahmin assertion movements. the top ten spots were quickly filled in tamil nadu by the time the dmk first assumed power, the marathas, kunbis and other associated peasant castes who form more than one third of the population in maharashtra also managed to fill all spots in that state.

this process was as fast in some princely states like mysore and baroda etc, but much slower in hyderabad state. so slow that it is happening only now in telangana, one century late. almost.

the rise of all those shudra castes-- from jats to gounders to nadars to ezhavas to kammas to vokkaligas to yadavs -- were revolutionary movements too. but they failed to fulfill their promises because the pyramid democratized itself a little at the top, partly in response to their struggles, co-opted them, and managed to retain its character. moreover, it had managed to increase the number of loyal defenders guarding it, more sentries to pour hot oil on those wishing to ascend to the top, or even bring down the pyramid.

now this process of efforts to expand the top layer of the pyramid, to create the top ten spots, is happening in telangana. the elite in telangana, which was only brahmins, reddies and velamas for too long (the muslims having been dislodged by 'independence'), wants to consolidate its own position, expand its influence outside politics, agriculture and government. even in those three fields it feels severely constrained by the stronger position of the much advanced andhra elite. so it's come around to  making a little space for a new set of aspirants among the obcs-- the goudas, munnuru kapus, yadavs especially-- who had risen since the emergence of the telugu desam, so that they could help in its struggle with the andhra elite.

more than a year ago, someone had asked me: why do you oppose this process? if it accommodates a new set of players, even if very few, at the top, doesn't it mean one more progressive step towards democratization of society?

that's the problem with the pyramid. it seems to be expanding its top layer a little, but that's always an illusion. it's only responding to changes in population growth, which has been higher in the last one century than any other time in history.

one reason why i want andhra pradesh to remain united: it'll keep the elites of all regions, and new aspirants,  always engaged in a struggle with each other. that would open up more cracks in the pyramid.

but the major reason is that the assertion movements of ambitious shudra castes until now have only meant the rise of those castes, a strengthening of the elite and the caste order. caste assertion movements have been anti-caste only in initial stages and have inevitably become caste-reinforcing movements.

and the expansion of the elite club has also, inevitably, meant more atrocities on the dalits, adivasis and the religious minorities.

paramakudi has strengthened my convictions.     

10 comments:

Jogi said...

Thanks for summarizing the Telangana situation so correctly. From a caste perspective,Velama's, felt marginalized in Andhra Pradesh as a whole due to their small numbers. So if they could get a small region carved out as a separate state they could be major players. This is my personal assessment of the situation. In the present configuration of AP, a velama becoming a chief minister is remote possibility. They, based on some fragments of the histroy of Andhra may consider themselves heirs to the throne.

By the way, is paramakudi same as pyramid?

Anonymous said...

@Jogi
Paramakudi is a village in TN. Dalits were shot by the police w/p provocation

kuffir said...

jogi,

thanks for that insight. yes, the velamas are major actors in this movement, and their political, economic ambitions are also driving it.

as anon below says, paramakudi is small village/town in tn. click the links (in the last line) to read about the recent massacre of dalits there.

Jai said...

Kuffir, I remember John Pandian was sentenced to life imprisonment on a murder charge many years ago. Did he get remand or acquitted later?

kuffir said...

jai,

he was acquitted.

Anonymous said...

I went through the post and it is a nice one, well written like any other well informed minds.But my question is, why nobody is really analising the demand for a seperate state from the common man's poin of view i.e advantages and disadvantages for the people of the united AP or seperated AP and the nation and its GDP.Hope Kufr has some answer.

Anonymous said...

@Anon above
It was done by SKC. The Telangana leaders refuse to accept it.

Jogi said...

kuffir and anonymous,

Thanks for responding to my comment. I am surprised that there is so little discussion here when something like a nation's (Andhra jaati's) political future is at stake. In my humble opinion, the Andhra Pradesh as we know it is going to be history soon. The Centre is going to cut and partition Andhra soon and keep its lions share of the division. Both the circars and the Telanganites are going to lose a lot. It is a simple case of 'pitta poru pitta poru pilli thirchinde.' The last 60years is an aberration. The decline of Andhras is about to start again. But that is expected.

Think of division of Bengal(1905). After that Bengalis never recovered. It is a sorry mess now, both East and West.

-an NRI

Anonymous said...

There is no discussion becasue the oppsoing view point has never been presented to the Telangana folks. When ever there was an attemp to voice a dissenting view thugs were unleashed to silence those

Case in point : Prof K. Illiah, N Chakravarty

Vetrimagal said...

hope you won't mind , if I say, I understand.
I also wish many people will view this page.

 
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