why bant singh can't go to rahul pandita

something led me here, to this very entertaining piece of information:
The meaning of the word 'Saraswat' has more than one origin. One refers to 'offspring of Saraswati'[citation needed] , the Goddess of learning applied usually to learned and scholarly people. It may also denote the residents of Saraswati river basin. The brahmins of this region who are referred to as 'Saraswats' in Mahabharata and Puranas were learned in Vedic lore[citation needed] . They concentrated on studying subjects like astronomy, metaphysics, medicine and allied subjects and disseminating knowledge[citation needed] .
the heading, you'd notice says 'history'. history? do people really believe that's history? gods and goddesses are history? do you notice anything like dates in that whole section?

that piece of history whetted my appetite for more such knowledge. this page tells you about the origins of the nambudiris:
The ancient Sangam literature mentions Brahmins of Chera Kingdom (which became Kerala) who may be Namboothiris as there is mention of Perinchellur(Taliparamba) village, which is one of the most important villages for Namboothiris, as a great Vedic village. There is no concrete evidence to suggest migration of Namboothiri Brahmins to Kerala but would most probably be the heavily civilised Aryans who took the Red sea route to Kerala even before the 100O BC. The recent evidence of Brahmin migration to Kerala is the Embranthiris who were originally Tulu Brahmins.
no concrete evidence, but they're most probably heavily civilised Aryans who took the Red sea route to Kerala even before the 100O BC (100O BC?).

what's funnier (than the content of those histories) is the fact that some people, at least two persons, actually wrote those pages. why? to tell people like me: this is not your history, you can't bask in the glory of the saraswats or the nambudiris, you can only admire them. but would anyone have written those pages if non-nambudiris/non-saraswats like me didn't exist? what's the point of being a brahmin when there aren't any non-brahmins around? so i am there in those narratives: as, say, most probably the heavily uncivilised native who didn't take the red sea route to kerala even before the 100O BC, but was born here. no non-indian can read between the lines and spot me, the non-saraswat or non-nambudiri, who doesn't deserve any history. the nambudiri is the light, i am the shadow that gives the light meaning.

if i ever tell a non-indian that my people studied astronomy, metaphysics and medicine ages ago, i'd be lying. because it was the saraswats who studied astronomy, metaphysics and medicine. so i have to make sure no brahmins, saraswats especially, are around when i tell non-indians that my people studied astronomy, metaphysics and medicine. but a lie is a lie and as long as that page, and less crude but similar pages exist in many forms, i can never really be proud of the fact that 'indians' were smart enough to explore astronomy etc a thousand or more years ago. not as long as some 'indians' claim that they're brahmins.

they say the chinese first started making rockets, or something like rockets. it's quite possible a chinese nobleman first made it. but now, any chinese soldier or hawker or sex worker or scientist or film star could proudly say: we invented rockets. because there is no single endogamous group of people in china who could say: my forefathers invented rockets. so everyone is free to claim that glory.

when someone explicitly tells the world he's a brahmin, like the writers of those two pages, he's claiming a lot of history for himself. a history filled with 'glorious achievements'. you might have problems with the authenticity or incompleteness of that history, but there's very little you can do about it. the problem is, a lot of history attaches itself even to those who don't explicitly tell the world that they're brahmin. a lot of history attaches itself to all brahmins, as long as they're brahmins, in whatever fashion, for the simple reason that indian history doesn't have much space for anyone else.

the reason why indian history sounds so much like a bad zombie movie in which the characters seemingly incapable of any voluntary, conscious action so smartly and purposefully keep cornering the conscious, hyperactive ones, is because it implicitly makes the claim that those mostly unconnected with any production produced all of indian science, astronomy, medicine etc. indian history reads so much like mythology because those claiming its 'glorious achievements' as their own have no idea whatsoever how those achievements were accomplished-- it's obvious that they know only a part of the story, so they add a lot of mumbo jumbo to complete it, to obfuscate the dalitbahujan contributions. indian history is such a colossal crime because by depriving the dalitbahujans of any past, it steals their future too.

as long as the brahmins, as brahmins, are around, and in very large numbers, in academia and other places that produce history-- it'd be very difficult to find anything resembling objective history in that kind of an environment. no, i have no problems with people whose forefathers might have been brahmins filling all available seats in universities with their..behinds.

but as long as people who can trace their ancestry back to the nambudiris or saraswats are around, i might as well give up thinking that i can produce something of value, because indian history tells me i'm totally incapable of producing anything of any value. only the brahmin can.

but mr.dipankar gupta would object to that kind of a caste sneer:
Only recently, a newspaper article, while discussing Narayana Murthy’s inept attempts to wriggle out of his faux pas with the national anthem episode, calmly added without context that one cannot expect much from a Brahmin after all. Now where did that come from? As if to explain further, the journalist went on to remind the readers that Narayana Murthy, the Brahmin, as a Brahmin, also opposed reservation quotas. This is clearly a caste sneer!
yes, that clearly is a caste sneer, because it attributes a negative trait to all brahmins. gupta is trying to say that the journalist accused narayana muthy, the brahmin, of acting as a brahmin. can the word brahmin be sanitized of its history, and of its sociology? can a person just be a brahmin, just as someone can be tall, fat or dark? can someone be a brahmin and not be acting as a brahmin?

isn't the very claim to be a brahmin, a claim on an exclusive right to a long line of 'super-achievements', also an act of consigning almost everyone else to an history of 'non-achievement'? isn't that a caste sneer, in a way?


i started on this post nearly two years ago-- don't know if all the links work now. but its logic still seems ok to me, and i feel more confident of that theory today, after reading this article by rahul pandita. he says:
As a Brahmin, does it make me less sensitive to the plight of the poor or the marginalised? Why is it such a big deal that I can wear my Janeu, recite my Hanuman Chalisa, and yet go to Bant Singh’s house in Bhurj Jabbar, thirstily gulp down a few glasses of water, and tell his story? Where is the contradiction?
yes, why is it such a big deal that he wears a janeu etc? i don't believe the practice of rituals etc make a brahmin. so giving them up won't make one less of a brahmin, either, in my view.

the big deal is that bant singh can't just get up and go meet rahul pandita in delhi or mumbai or wherever he lives, gulp down a few glasses of water, and tell his story. bant singh was attacked because he wanted to do exactly what rahul pandita does. get up and go do the things he wanted to do.

the big deal is that rahul pandita has the freedom to do so and bant singh doesn't.

if you say bant singh lost his freedom of movement because of the line of work he chose to do-- organizing farm labour-- you'd be wrong because he didn't have much freedom of choice to begin with. history had seen to that. now rahul pandita, despite being forced out of home 'at the age of 14', seems to have done quite well for himself. that's the contradiction.

when rahul pandita says he's a brahmin, he's making a claim on a lot of indian history. when bant singh rebels against his present, he is also rejecting pandita's history, his claim on privilege. if pandita doesn't see that, he shouldn't have undertaken the trip to bant singh's home. 


jayashankar, mythmaker

We have created our myth. The myth is a faith, it is passion. It is not necessary that it shall be a reality. It is a reality by the fact that it is a good, a hope, a faith, that it is courage. Our myth is the Nation, our myth is the greatness of the Nation! And to this myth, to this grandeur, that we wish to translate into a complete reality, we subordinate all the rest.
that was benito mussolini on myth.

jayashankar liked to say: i think in urdu, write in english and speak in telugu. all the the feudal elite of hyderabad state before independence could also have described themselves in that fashion. the top 5% of the people who prospered and were entitled to many privileges while the rest weren't worth even primary education in their own language. telugu, the people's language, therefore, held that kind of relevance for him-- a language you used to communicate with the lower classes, to tell them they need to know little other than to serve. not a language for the expression of high thought. and he always knew better than the people-- even when the people's representatives overwhelmingly voted for a united state for the telugus, he knew that the majority, which in his view consisted of himself and a reactionary, minuscule minority comprising a few feudal elements, were not in favour of andhra pradesh.

his politics completely derailed the process of evolution of dalitbahujan consciousness and politics for the last decade and more in andhra pradesh. when the dalitbahujans should have been asking for their own rights-- their stolen entitlements, jobs, resources and share in political power-- he appropriated their angst and converted it into a fictitious regional divide.

he brought back the forces of hindu nationalism and savarna casteism into telugu politics.he trivialized people's aspirations for greater decentralization and democracy. he leaves behind a political legacy that upholds retrograde myths over facts, lumpen muscle over dissent and democracy.


no mantras or miracles will work here

had started on this draft in march 2010:

here, at the Indian Farmers' website, you'll find this article (word document): 'Status Paper on Rice'. on page 13 and 14, you'll find a detailed breakdown of all the costs involved in producing rice. and the concluding part says:

(a) Cost of cultivation per acre Rs. 25000/-
(b) Average yield of paddy per acre is 25 quintals (35 bags)
(c) Cost of cultivation per Quintal (Rs. 25000¬ /25) = Rs. 1000/-
(d) MSP fixed for paddy per quintal is Rs. 745 (for the year 2007-08)
(e) Total gross income (Rs.745 X 25 quintals) =Rs.18,625/-
(f) Estimated loss per acre to the farmer (Rs.25,000 – Rs.18,625/-) = Rs 6,375/-(g) MSP to be fixed as per Prof. M.S. Swaminathan Commission
recommendation should be Rs.1,500 per quintal (Cost of cultivation + add minimum 50% of cost of cultivation i.e. Rs.1000+500=Rs.1,500)
those are average costs for producing rice across andhra pradesh in the year 2008-09. also note that the m.s.swaminathan commission's recommendation for increasing the minimum support price upto rs.1500 (or, Cost of cultivation + add minimum 50% of cost of cultivation), made in 2007, has not been adopted until now.

illusory potential

1) the m.s.p. for rice in the current year is rs. 950 for common variety and rs.980 for higher grade plus an 'incentive bonus' of rs.50 (which is temporary and could be withdrawn next year). so how much could a farmer producing 25 quintals an acre, earn per acre now? nothing. the costs (rs.25,000 per acre) would equal the returns (rs.1,000 x 25 quintals). which means the majority (60% of all farmers) of farmers in the state of andhra pradesh, or the marginal farmers (average landholding size: around an acre), would earn nothing.

2) less than 20% of farmers in andhra pradesh own 3.5 acres or more each. and those are 1995-96 estimates when average landholding size was 1.36 hectares, or 3.35 acres. in 2005-06, it was 1.20 hectares or 2.96 acres. the average income of the average paddy farmer* now would be around zero, if the m.s.p., remains at around rs.1,000 (at an average productivity rate of 25 quintals an acre), because the costs (rs. 25,000 per acre x 2.96 or 3 acres) would equal the returns (rs. 1,000 per quintal x 25 quintals per acre x 3 acres).

3) what if the m.s.p were increased to rs. 1,500? the average paddy farmer with a landholding of 2.96 acres would make around (rs. 1,500 per quintal x 25 quintals per acre x 3 acres) rs. 1,12,500 which would yield him a net income of (rs. 1,12, 500 minus costs of rs.75,000) of rs. 37, 500. the per capita income of his family members (assuming a family size of 5) would be around rs. 7,500, or less than one-third the per capita income of rs. 23,729 (in 2004-05, at current prices) of the state.

4) who would benefit if support prices are increased to the level suggested by swaminathan? less than 6% of the state's paddy farmers, or those who own more than 10 acres each. each farmer who owns more than 10 acres, would earn an income of around rs. 1,25,000 (rs.37,500 per acre x 10 acres minus costs of rs.25,000 per acre x 10 acres). the per capita income in his family would be around rs.25,000 or slightly more than the state average.

5) how about the majority, or the marginal farmers? the marginal paddy farmer would make around rs.37,500 (rs.1,500 per quintal x 25 quintals) and earn an income rs. 12,500 (rs. 37,500 minus costs of rs. 25,000 an acre). that means per capita income of each member of his family will be rs. 2,500, or slightly more than one-tenth the per capita income in the state.

6) what if every paddy farmer in the state managed to double the yield: from 25 quintals an acre to 50 quintals an acre? let's assume he doesn't have to incur any new capital costs and input costs to increase the yield by such magnitude, and he's able to manage the feat by sheer good luck. how much will the marginal farmer be able to make in the new scenario? his income from each acre will be (rs.1,500 x 50 quintals = rs.75,000 minus costs of rs 25,000= 50,000). which means per capita incomes in his family would be less than half the state average. how much will the average paddy farmer (landholding: 2.96 or 3 acres) make? rs.1,50,000 (rs. 1,500 per quintal x 50 quintals per acre x 3 acres minus costs of rs. 25,000 per acre x 3 acres). which means per capita income of his family would rise above the state average by around 25%.

but that would depend on three miracles happening simultaneously:

ii) average yield per acre going up by more than 100% in one year. average annual growth rate in yield in the past four decades has been much lower than 2%

iii) there would be no need for fresh capital investment and also no increase in input costs.

even if all those three miracles do happen, simultaneously, over 60% of the farmers in the state (the marginal farmers) would still earn incomes of around rs.50,000 which would still mean per capita incomes in their families would still be less than half the state average. and the small farmers, another 20%, would be earning significantly more. the medium farmers, another 15%, would be doing even better. which means 60% of the paddy farmers in andhra pradesh wouldn't benefit much even from the miraculous scenario which offers i) a 50% increase in minimum support prices immediately and ii) doubling of yields iii) and a zero percent increase in input costs.

is there really a point in further speculating on what would the farmers earn if the minimum support prices were doubled to rs.2,000?

as i mentioned earlier, i wrote that draft over an year ago. now, minimum support prices have gone up slightly: rs.1,030 for grade 'a' variety and rs.1,000 for other varieties. which means the conclusions i'd drawn on all the  6 scenarios presented still hold true. and only scenarios (1) and (2) reflect the current reality as you know. (3), (4), (5) and (6) represent hypothetical scenarios. pipe-dreams which rest on miracles.

there are a couple of things one needs to know to understand how these farmers survive if the returns are so low or non-existent: the total estimate of costs listed in the status paper also includes a 'land lease' component: rs.7,000 for an acre. this is what the owner-cultivator would save, but the tenant farmer would be deprived even of that. also, a certain percentage of the farmers also go in for a second crop. but that wouldn't make a great difference in their incomes, i think, because most of the costs would have to be incurred again.

the high priests of 'food security' aren't thinking about all that i guess. as i said in my previous post, there seems to be a strong belief among them that these are manageable problems. that a few wise interventions like increasing support prices, subsidies and agricultural extension etc would improve productivity, which is a primary concern for them, and also somehow give the farmer greater returns.. from sainath to jayathi ghosh, everyone's been reeling out those mantras. but the stupid shudras have a saying: mantraalaku chintakaayalu raalavu. which means, roughly: the tamarind tree wouldn't shed its fruits for mantras.

from swaminathan to sainath, they've been spouting these mantras for many years now. i don't doubt their sympathy for the farmers. but i'm convinced, seven years after the congress was re-elected promising succour for the farmers (one of its main election planks) and seven more years of unabated chanting of mantras, that they probably think of the farmer as some kind of a lifeless cog in a vast system of machinery that's not working as per their grand designs. the cog's problems matter only so far as they affect the working of the machinery.

lastly, according to some latest observations in the media, the costs of cultivating each acre have gone upto rs.30,000. even if all those estimates are wrong by even a significant percentage, say 20 or 30 or even 50, i don't see how it will change that overall inexorable reality. 


sonia's gang of genocidal kautilyas

Despite producing of 22 per cent wheat , 12 per cent rice and 13 per cent cotton of the country’s total , the Punjab agriculture is in serious crisis that have pushed 90 per cent farm households under debt, mounting to whooping Rs 26,000 crore said Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) Vice Chancellor MS Kang. Inaugurating two-day seminar on “Punjab Economy: Performance and Challenges” organized by the Department of Economics at the university campus, Dr Kang said the farm production is of optimum level as the state shares less than 2 per cent of the total cultivable land of the country.
Moreover, the total value of farm produce per annum from the state has down to Rs 22695 crore now from Rs 26000 crore in 1994-95, he said adding the pauperization of farm families has led migration of farmers which now touches one lakh hands. The farm income per hectare has come down because produce prices announced by the Central government as Minimum Support Price (MSP) increased on average by one per cent while the prices of inputs rose by 3.5 per cent. And, the growth rate of agriculture Punjab, registered at 10 per cent in 1980s has come down to mere 1.2 per cent now and soil got fatigued and sick requiring more does of fertilizers, pesticides and other inputs to achieve the same level of production. [emphasis mine].

that's a march 2009 news story from the punjab university news bulletin .

despite producing more every year, the punjab farmer earns less every year. his costs go up every year, and so do his debts. and the suicides keep increasing.

from 1988 to 2006, according to a non-profit organization called the Movement Against State Repression (MASR), around 40,000 farmers have committed suicide. and that's only an estimate based on research done in some districts of punjab. around 2009, each farmer in punjab owed a debt of over rs.40,000, on an average, to institutional and other lenders. and every one of them would have incurred more debt in the past three years because the value of his produce has been going down, steadily, over two decades, at least.

now, he's being asked to borrow some more money to pay for the food security bill.

because punjab's the biggest source of surpluses for the indian state, the punjabi farmer would again be enticed with the promise of more procurement. though that would mean assured sales to an extent, looking more closely one would realize that with procurement prices growing at the spectacular rate of 1% per year on an average, it would only mean more losses for him in the end, when the growth in prices is measured against the general rate of inflation. as the banks have already shut their tijoris tight, he'd have to borrow more from informal lenders, incurring more costs..and so on.

and the funniest part is that the savarna/civil society activists promoting the food security bill have been closely associated with the sainath kind of 'liberals' who, while making jetsetting careers out of suicides, have been trivializing the crisis by bruiting around the idea that everything would be alright if only the govt subsidizes inputs a bit more, pushes the banks a little more, doles out a little more for procurement etc. have they really looked at the scale of the problem? the total debt burden on the punjabi farmers in 2009 was nearly 20% more than the total yearly output of all of them put together. now it'd have gone up much more. the more the farmer produces, the less he makes, and the more he slides into debt. because oversupply pushes prices down and wipes away all gains from lower costs. that's been the trend since the mid 80s when the suicides started in punjab.

by asking him to pay more for this new, enhanced 'food security' formula, sonia gandhi's brahminized gang of advisers are pushing more punjabi farmers towards suicide.
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