In our meritocratic age there is an increasingly distinction between the A-Stars and the X-factors.
A-stars are individuals who are academically brilliant and have Ivy/Oxbridge splashed all over them.
The X-factors are those who may not have the pedigree but have star quality written all over than not.
More often than not the two coincide but sometimes they don’t. In a question in how to raise a deprived community (Aframs, Dalits); one must ask whether the gambit should be to generate A-Stars or X-Factors.
This is the Dubois-Booker argument. To paraphrase (I’m not an expert) Booker T Washington wanted a black working class that would be the mechanics, blue collar works of the great American economy.
DuBois instead pushed for the “Talented Tenth”; the extraordinary Aframs (more often than not on the lighter spectrum like his mulatto background) who would ascend the American social hierarchy.
DuBois seems to have won out in the end and the Afram community mirrors the Indian Muslim community. A disproportionate cultural impact (it’s hard to think of American politics & culture without the black contribution same as with Muslims) but with strong deprivation on the other end.
What Shanti Bhavan (it’s non-religious by the way) has done is try to groom its Dalit students to the best of their ability but then also inject a bit of X-factor glamour into them.
Home-grown and authentic leaders are the only way to foster a community. How many of the African American and Muslim leaders actually stem from the ghetto?
Shanti Bhavan is taking girls (and boys) from the most deprived and broken homes; giving them quality education and almost forcing them to be leaders. It’s not easy because the students go back home for winter & summer holidays and are exposed to the problems of their lives. So they switch from a sanitised Americanised life to the most “Indian” experience, that of the poor and deprived Dalits.
It’s the sort of switch that can and break people, which also explains as to why the Shanti Bhavan students sometimes struggle. They usually repeat grades and I imagine use caste quota/reservations to secure the top slots for themselves.
However the upper castes have been able to *game* the Indian education system to be A-Stars but are unable to generate Global X-factor Appeal.
When white people look to India they don’t see Bollywood or Rajasthani palaces they notice the dire poverty. When the Upper Castes then try to *project* a different India; PewDeePie then immediately aims for the jugular.
The Upper Castes do not understand the Western mindset. Westerners have *won* history to such an overwhelming extent that they need new causes to evangelise over. The Environment is a symptom of that.
Instead of the Upper Castes *gatekeeping* India from Westerners; it would do better to make the elimination of Indian poverty a global affair.
Economic growth alone will not solve India’s social problem. The documentary happens over a decade and it’s obvious that the living standards of the girls’ families have risen. However their social circumstance hasn’t because they are still at the bottom of the social pole, they may have more to eat (not always) but they are still spiritually broken.
This social and spiritual malaise seems uniquely Indian in a way the caste system is uniquely Indian.
As I was telling V today; I don’t think caste is evil, in fact the Asabiyyah it generates against the isolation and anonymity of liberal capitalism.
However the Upper Castes monopolise the conversations on Caste the way White Americans did on race a century ago. That must end.
The absurdity that “caste is South Asian” (it may be South Asian but it is ultimately Hindu), the British invented caste (i don’t need genetics to tell me what my lying eyes see) or that caste *generated* just reek of bullshit.
What gives me the right to speak out. I’m an iconoclast and to paraphrase Theresa May; I am a citizen of nowhere.
If You Believe You are a Citizen of the World, You are a Citizen of Nowhere
Theresa May’ 2016
The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens. Bahá’u’lláh 1860 something
I exist in the grey area between these two statements.