The Cabinet on Wednesday decided to set up a permanent commission on forward classes to identify the problems of economically backward persons among forward communities and recommend welfare measures.
A sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court of India or a High Court will be appointed chairman of the Kerala State Forward Classes Commission. Secretary (General Administration) will be its ex officio Member Secretary. Two persons from the forward communities conversant in matters connected with forward classes will be appointed members of the commission.
An official release said about 26 per cent of the people in the State belonging to the forward classes were not covered under the reservation policies or programmes of the government. Owing to historical and social reasons, a good percentage of these communities were economically backward. This limited the scope for education and employment of the youth in those communities. Members of these communities also found it difficult to earn a livelihood or use opportunities because of other social, historical, and cultural factors. The commission would be able to address these issues, the release added.
Which other states are most likely to follow suit? Tamil Nadu? Mayawati pushing for quotas for Brahmins in UP?
Kerala probably got the worst of the assorted brutalities of Vedic Brahminism among different Indian states and the avarnas (those in the lower strata in Brahminical hierarchy) of Kerala were the most destitute and depraved in the bigoted social system that was Kerala Hinduism of yester-years. There are people who believe it didn’t used to be always this way. They say there was a time when Buddhism and Jainism flourished in Kerala during which society was much more egalitarian and equitable-a (relative) utopia in contrast to later times when an exploitative priestly caste (Namboothiri brahmins) and their savarna (upper-caste) allies denied even basic dignity and humanity to the lower orders. I don’t really have an opinion on this but I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Things certainly got radically different with the increasing influence of Namboothiris and I am sure the transition from Buddhism and Jainism into Vedic Brahminism caused loss of prestige and power to those tribes that were the most vigorous patrons of the losing religions. It is indeed highly likely that many of them would have been deemed avarna and shunned by the winning faction but to extend this framework to all lower orders would be a stretch. Also, there are people who say there isn’t really any difference between Buddhism and Hinduism in practice (or rather how it was practiced in ancient India) and this extends even to the theological justification for caste discrimination. I am of the opinion that theology doesn’t matter all that much since humans have an amazing unparalleled ability to contextualize anything (which means the ability to make up BS as and when necessary to serve any purpose). What it would mean is that it is entirely possible a relatively liberal culture was replaced by a tyrannical one and this doesn’t need to have everything to do with theology but rather to the existence of a new political structure along with different power equations among various players (which made the Vedic Brahminism as practiced by Namboothiris possible).
Pariyapuram: Neo Buddhism and Social Change in Malabar:“[U]nfortunately after the re-Hinduization period following the temple entry politics and republican rule the Avarna people have lost their political and historical awareness and memories and found cozy asylums in the so called greater fold of liberal Hinduism. The RSS and the right wing Hindutva forces are now encroaching into the cave at Pariyapuram and there is already an enamel fresco depicting Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Sita worshiping a Linga in the cave. It is only a few years old and interestingly depicts Sita as prostrating and fondling the phallus with her hands. The VHP has also recently made a plea to make this cave a Hindu pilgrim place.”
Women in Kerala especially Avarna or dalitbahujan women were forced to uncover their breasts in public by the caste feudal lords for more than a millennium as a symbolic humiliating bodily practice reinstating caste and gender hierarchy. This dehumanizing practice that followed genocidal violence came to currency around the 8th century when Brahmanic Hinduism was established here subverting Buddhism through a hegemonic nexus between patriarchal priestocracy and the militia clans and continued up to the 20th century. Brahmanic patriarchy and its Savarna subservient Sudra foot soldiers were maintaining this inhuman convention in the name of the Sanatana Hindu religion and its sacred purity tradition with bloody repression and violence for all these 1200 years at least with regional variations.
This heinous Hindu caste practice came to an end in Nanjinad in south Travancore in mid 19th century with the colonial missionary interventions that contributed to the Nadar rebellion that transformed Travancore challenging Savarna power and absolute hegemony for the first time in the modern times.
So much for Kazhagams. They have been nothing more than a scourge on the people. What have they done for Tamil Nadu in these 50 years? They continue to oppress Dalits while playing caste politics.
I know its fashionable to trash any self-assertion of the lower castes and the Dravidians probably have the worst reputation even in lefty FC circles since they weren’t historically led by Brahmin intelligentsia like the Communists. At the risk of being subjected to an endless series of comments (and posts with passive-aggressive commentary) on horrible things that Tamils or Dravidians or Marxists or Communists do (/did/going to do) here is Edward Luce on Tamil Nadu in In Spite of the Gods (It will be wise to keep in mind that while Kerala got saved from the Marxism that the Brahmin/Kayasth geniuses promulgated in West Bengal by its Muslims and their Arab connections, the Tamils had no such luck except perhaps the presence of Christian missionaries and their educational efforts but this was also an order of magnitude greater in Kerala (we got very lucky that way). As Vijay recounts, God wasn’t bounteous (get it?) with TN like Punjab or Kerala and the Tamils weren’t the entrepreneurial sort like the Gujaratis. In the hell-hole that was post-independent India, it could have gone easily the way of any other mediocre state if not for Periyar and the Kazhagams) :
The idea, i’ve taken a while getting around to, is that caste loyalty is like ethnic solidarity and has its roots in feelings of kinship, and is not necessarily an affirmation of a social order with theological underpinnings. Most of the calculations of whether an intercaste marriage is workable depend on whether each party’s status anxieties are relieved. In the urban upper-class context, compatible levels of westernization are as important as any other indigenous factors. It can be important enough to permit inter-religious marriages, if both families belong to the same prestigious clubs ect. As for the lower-middle classes, much like in other parts of the world, upon achieving prosperity ,one may not want to “sell out” and marry a person from a so-called higher status group. Also, dietary habits must be negotiated, as many upper castes find meat disgusting, even urban “modern” ones.
The racism foreign workers experience is so deeply engrained in Lebanese society the term hardly seems sufficient. It’s like a Middle Eastern caste system: these women are considered lowly by birth. Horrific stories circulate about the beatings and sexual abuse they suffer at the hands of their employers, and how almost a third of them live under house arrest. In 2008, Human Rights Watch reported that on average, one foreign worker was committing suicide in Lebanon every week. Many die after falling from a balcony while trying to escape.
I’m not sure how one measures this but I have always had the impression that Lebanon, especially Beirut, was the most cosmopolitan area in the middle-east. Many libertarians will tell you that such cosmopolitanism denotes openness to trade in ideas, labor and capital–thus constituting a pathway to becoming a civilized society. Dubai and Beirut stand as stark reminders that certain ideas don’t make it through the cultural filter. Here, in the US, we fall for a different Tawana Brawley every week it seems. How different would we be if, instead of running the latest insult against cultural liberal sensibilities, our gossip rags ran this instead:
I clicked through on the links to Zack’s post below and was pretty shocked. I know this somewhat, but not having grown up around many Indians (or South Asians generally) I didn’t have a good sense. That being said, a few years ago I stumbled on a book at the local book store, Daughter of the Ganges: A Memoir. The author was an adopted woman of Indian heritage from Spain. Skimming through, her family seems to have been peasant cultivators in Maharashtra. Therefore, I was struck by her photo. She is rather attractive and not “worn down” by the life of extreme subsistence.
This is not to take anything away from Zack’s post, and she obviously does not look like the typical upper caste NRI even to my unsubtle eyes. But a great deal of the physical difference in terms of perception is environmental. Though I do think it is telling that a woman who looks like this could never be a leading lady in a Bollywood film.