As I was watching yesterday’s excellent and profound show; it dawned on me that all of the Dalit children looked very nice. I would say pretty but then that would make me a pedophile like nos ancetres.
This by my Westernised aesthetic standard, where I like all types of beauty. Nonetheless by our Desi standards these Dalit children looked hideous because of their dusky skins and soft features.
It dawned on me that we look at caste and genetics entirely the wrong way.
the Original Caste System
There does seem to have been a soft tripartite division between kings, warriors & priests among the Indo-Europeans. For instance I was shocked to discover at the Dari lecture that the Zoroastrians are basically speaking the last vestiges of Median, 2.5millennia on from nos ancetres Astyages.
At any rate the point is that this soft division was nothing out of the ordinary; the Arabs summarily smashed it to smithereens in Sassanian Persia and these divisions seemed to have died out.
For instance in the Brahmin lecture, Prof. O’Hanlon asked why didn’t the Brahmins suffer the same fate as the Junckers and Samurai and disappear as a socio-political class.
To my mind what made caste so pernicious and powerful, in that it is defining feature of Desiness, is that it served as an institution to ring-fence and ghettoise the Dreaded ASI blood (AASI for the wokier ones of you).
African American & ASI
When African Americans do their genetic tests, all their interested about is their roots in Africa. When Desis do their test it’s all about how low is their AASI.
We look at caste hierarchies the wrong way by somehow measuring the ANI quotient as a feature of caste rank. It is the inverse measure by how low is your ASI score that is a far better measure of relative caste ranking.
That is why a quick hack in South Asia has always been to marry out so as to dilute the ASI.
Early Days of Indus Valley Civ
Something must have happened in those early chaotic days between the collapse of the Indus Valley Civ and the arrival of the Aryans. The relation between the two events seems analogous to the wipeout of large mammals and migration of modern humans. The Indus Valley Civ was probably on the decline and the Aryans just provided the death blow.
There must have been some class structure between the proto-Dravidians (who seem to have some tenuous kinship to the Elamites further west in what is now the Iranian Plateau) and the adivasis. The farmer and hunter gatherers struggle playing out in the early days of agriculture, where as today, the Adivasi ASI were the labouring classes (landless peasants) to the more established proto-Dravidians (the Naidus / Reddys; these prosperous high to mid-rank castes come to mind).
The blood had already been mixed in the early days (vastly disproportionate sexual dynamics at play with the Dravidian/Indus Civ farmer impregnating the landless girls in exchange for status and security) but the divisions were somewhat sealed. The Aryans came into this mix and probably never even mixed with the ASI directly. The Aryan men must have taken these Dravidian/Indus women to complement their own harems (in the early days of victory & conquest men won’t limit themselves to a single wife) until the high born wives sought to preserve their status through purity of blood, monogamy and caste status.
the most pernicious system known to man
The stage was set for what became the most potent social system known to man; Varna and Jati. Now I could have gotten this history entirely wrong because I’m simply extrapolating modern day South Asia all the way back when. But all the following invasions of the Subcontinent followed the same lines (the Muslims organised themselves in a similar manner and the British were doing the same thing until 1857 and then “a racist imperial” ideology emerged).
This peculiar mix of colourism and casteism is similar to South America. Criollos from the Iberian peninsula had the highest status and there were complex social gradations based on ancestral fractions (European the highest, African the lowest). It’s interesting to see that the genetic patterns in Latin America are very similar to South Asia; male mediated caste privilege coupled with indigenous female ancestry. It simply was the case that what happened in 2000BC Indus Valley happened in a 1492 milieu. So the waves of Europeans streaming into Latin America dwarfed the ancient Aryans hence why the “autosomal” DNA is so different to Y-chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA (it’s plain as day but I’m not an expert in genetics).
Roundtable with the neutered white gods
Why this narrative about caste? Because it is central to our understanding of the South Asian condition. Yesterday in the documentary; there were having a round table with the predominantly white volunteers (remember the school is founded by Dr. George, who is a South Indian Christian) and there was an explanation of the twin issues of poverty and prejudice.
As the group was explaining to the white volunteers the nature of caste one of the Dalit boys (by the way one of the miracles of the school is that these children have fluent upper caste English accents) clearly mentioned that skin colour was a difference.
These Dalit children are struggling with a thousand generations of illiteracy, of low status and low self-esteem. The stories of the Hindu epics are not their stories but those of the glorious Aryans (the Vedas and Sanskrit are the language of their racial conquerors).
Ordinarily I would be hyper-ventilating about “colonisers” but in this case I accept that a nation (and a region) must be humiliated in order to transform. Let the neutered white gods now intervene to raise the status that the upper castes will only glacially and reluctantly do so.
Being against Affirmative action makes you racist
The idea that the CBSE board are somehow a level playing field and that children, given equal opportunity, simply have to compete with each other is so absurd. Education is holistic and has very little to do with IQ (I exaggerate) but the notion that somehow a child is divorced from the family environment and will simply focus on the educational attainment is a wilful misreading of the human experience.
In some ways while racism in the US has never had any parallel (white Southern slavemasters more often than not seemed to have kept their bastard offspring in their mother’s status as opposed to some intermediate one) the upshot is that it led to the emergence of racism as a separate category as opposed to the previous ones of caste and class.
Why hasn’t Black identity arisen elsewhere
Why is it the black peoples of the Arab worlds (the African slaves) and India (Dalit) do not consider themselves as a separate racial category to their mainstream societies in a way that African Americans do?
That is because the Black peoples of the Arab & Indian world do not want to acknowledge that they are black but that rather they are simply (and unfortunately) on “swarthier” spectrum of their societies. Their low status can be ameliorated along with their skin colour.
What I have always found intriguing is the insistence of Black Americans on their pride, their brotherhood and remembering their history. For the longest time I couldn’t get it and in fact found it amusing. Now I realise the only antidote to slavery is Pride and self-esteem. Raising it is the first step to undoing a thousand generations of humiliation.
Upper caste Hindus & low self-esteem
Upper caste Hindus have constantly worked themselves up over a “thousand years of humiliation.” But what will happen when the Talented Tenth of the Dalit leaders (who are still forming) start to read/interpolate their true history? Just as African Americans, and their just cause, is the original sin of American society (they even fought a Civil war over it) in much the same way Indian society will have to eventually reckon with its original Sin. Hopefully not violently but holistically and humbly.
One of the Dalit girls made a beautiful point when she was back in the segregated corner of her village; she internalised that this was her place her Dharma (I used that word). When she went to school (they spend vacations at home and otherwise board at school) she realises that’s not true. A colourist and a classist society saps the self-esteem of the lowest because they aren’t able to articulate their issues against the status quo since no one is othered as a “different race.”
Racial Othering is sometimes necessary
This “othering” of the African Americans (probably unique in history) for so many centuries essentially made them the standard bearers for civic and racial equality within societies. Gandhi advocated for Independent India (where the upper castes could continue in the paternalistic mould of the British) not for Equality of races in the British Empire.
In some ways I have greater hope for Pakistan because it is suffering so much adversity that we have been in existential crisis for the past 70years. The gamut of opinion is very broad in Pakistani society except for one taboo topic, which is Islam. Until people can mock and examine Muhammad in his entirety; Pakistan will never free itself from its own shackles. But that’s a different story for another time; much as Hindus like to conflate caste and Pakistan, this is not Pakistan’s defining problem. Yes there are Pakistani Dalits (in equally if not more miserable conditions) but our national ideology and founding is built on a specific narrative; the Central Asian & Arabian heroes who carved out their outpost in Hindustan. What Pakistan must ask itself; what is it without Islam?
And India’s will be, what happens when the oppressed become informed about the system of unofficial slavery that held it back.