Super30, Casteocracy & Blacked Up Hrithik Roshan

We did a late night viewing of Super30.

The movie was inspirational and was pretty much in line with the recent theme of how uplift the lower castes of India. This followed through from Daughters of Destiny and our very own CAMbFIRE launch.

I found the idea of Hrtithik Roshan, who has the colourings a Greek deity, blacking up to play an OBC to emblematic of India’s Casteocracy.

The idea that an education system, designed by dead white men and then rapidly disseminated to all traditional elites in the world, can somehow uplift the masses is deeply problematic. The template of the IIT/IIM system suits rural and poor upper castes, who have a culture of education and enough urban access to understand how the system works.

It’s similar to Oxbridge & the Ivy Leagues, which are geared towards the aspirational segments of the petty bourgeois (the aristocrats don’t really need educational pedigree).

Other than that the movie had very interesting motifs; it was downright anti-Hindu. It quote a segment in the Mahabharat where the tribal Eklava, who was a better archer than Arjuna, had his thumb cut off by their teacher so that Arjuna could remain the best.

Every caste Hindu is a product of Casteocracy just as a white American is a functionary and beneficiary of the Republic’s early origins. This isn’t necessarily an indictment but merely a reflection of fact. We all carry privileges embedded within us.

As India Westernises and follows trends emerging in the West; will it too suffer the ongoing racial convulsions in the West. The idea of a white actor blacking up to play a role is now simply unthinkable.

I’m extremely involved in BAME activities in Cambridge; in fact I’m co-founder to two initiatives that are rapidly catching the University’s attention.

A lot of the Upper Caste Hindus are involved in BAME because they can’t tolerate being the equivalent to Dalits in the West.

In some ways I think Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal’s mistake was that they didn’t fuse their valid demands with linguistic representation. It’s very obvious that the replacement of Persian with English and the evisceration of Urdu into Hindi only reinforced the dramatic caste divides.

The idea of English as the elite language binding together South Asia creates an effective barrier to the rest of the classes. In Pakistan learning English doubles one wage immediately.

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23 Replies to “Super30, Casteocracy & Blacked Up Hrithik Roshan”

  1. (This is a general inquiry and not a comment on the contents of this post)

    What good is all this language about privileges and appropriations for? Does it actually provide more insight into the human condition, or is it a way of scoring political points? Does it serve a useful purpose? Can it serve a useful purpose? Can it produce the right sort of changes needed in societies?

    Or is it just jargon invented by people in the humanities to make themselves think they are as smart as the scientists?

    Why is the (more traditional) language of individual rights, responsibilities, and freedoms insufficient to reason about people and societies?

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    1. Free answers to your questions:

      1) lots.
      2)the former
      3) yes
      4) yes
      5) yes
      6) no
      7) good question — answer available for the cost of a three credit university course, Bitcoin not accepted.

      Always happy to help.

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  2. It quote a segment in the Mahabharat where the tribal Eklava, who was a better archer than Arjuna, had his thumb cut off by their teacher so that Arjuna could remain the best.

    Every kid who hears or reads the Mahabharata knows this tale and takes its lessons to heart. Not sure how this is anti- or pro-Hindu. The injustice of caste is made further clear by the shameful way in which Karna is treated by the story’s protagonists (Pandavas) and makes one mildly sympathetic towards Duryodhana, who had the guts to stand up for Karna and take him to his side.

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    1. “…and makes one mildly sympathetic towards Duryodhana, who had the guts to stand up for Karna and take him to his side…”

      There in fact have been retellings of Mahabharata in which Kauravas are the good guys and Pandavas are the bad ones, and they have been amazingly convincing.

      Look at the world from the eyes of Duryodhana. His father was cheated out of his inheritance because of a handicap. If Dhritarashtra hadn’t been denied the throne, the throne would have belonged to Duryodhana fair and square. Duryodhana was only trying to take what he thought was legitimately his. He was brave and loyal to his friends and brothers. Every inch a hero!

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  3. Xerxes, your understanding of upper caste people and caste dynamics in India appears to limited to what you’ve seen in Bollywood films.

    As a case in point, regarding Super 30, which was supposed to be biographical here are the actual facts:

    1) The original and “real” Super 30 was a collaboration between Anand Kumar and an upper caste IPS officer Abhayanand. This was circa mid-2000’s.

    2) This might be hard to fathom given his rustic-ness in interviews and constant whining about poverty, but Anand Kumar is a rich businessman who has always run a successful private coaching institute.

    3) Mr. Abhayanand was a physics graduate who had an interest in helping the poor students who lack the resources for education get into IIT. He collaborated with Mr. Anand Kumar (who supplied the infrastructure) to teach 30 students for free each year while putting them up in a hostel in Patna. The “real” Super 30 had a period of legendary success sending 25-30 kids each year from poor backgrounds to the ultra competitive IIT.

    4) Mr. Anand Kumar’s chief interest in all this was always for purposes of self promotion. He’s the only man running a coaching institute from India and especially from Patna who has been on the international media. This leads vast amounts of business to his private coaching institute, the Ramanujan school of mathematics. Tens of thousands of kids are pouring in from all over Northern and Eastern India to Patna on one way tickets having heard of Super 30 and thinking they’re going to enroll there for free and achieve their IIT dreams.

    5) Sometime in the late 2000’s Mr. Abhayanand and Mr. Kumar had a falling out. Mr. Abhayanand subsequently founded other charitable coaching institutes such as the Rahmani 30 for Muslim students and the Magadh Super 30 in Gaya (a region with high tribal/SC population).

    6) After 2010, on various news paper sites and forums in the comments sections, I noticed comments by people on articles about Anand Kumar’s Super 30 where people questioned who these students were. You see, every year he would announce 25-30 students successfully made it through from free coaching to the IIT. But he never announced who these students were before the exam. So how can we know the success rate of the Super 30? The media remained lazy for years. This is the period of the “fake” Super 30, when Mrs. Kumar and Abhayanand had parted ways.

    7) Finally in 2018, came the downfall, when there were a series of articles, mostly in the Hindi language papers, exposing Mr. Kumar as a fraud:

    https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/iit-guwahati-students-pil-anand-kumar-super-30-fraud-1346427-2018-09-22

    The students allege – and these are students reported to by Mr. Kumar himself to have been graduates of the Super 30 – that there is no Super 30. They came from far and wide to get into the Super 30, but Mr. Kumar charged them vast sums of money to enroll in his private Ramanujan school of mathematics. After the IIT results come out, he bribed some of these paying students to pose for pictures claiming that they were part of the free coaching Super 30. In some cases, the Super 30 students were exposed as having been coached even in other states like Rajasthan and were bribed by Mr. Kumar to pose for the picture saying that they were part of the Super 30 contingent.

    Mr. Anand Kumar, sensing trouble, ran to the son of Lalu Yadav (the former CM who in pursuit of brutalizing upper caste people in the guise of social justice literally destroyed the state of Bihar) who claimed this was all a vast conspiracy by the higher caste people to defame him!

    8) The unscrupulous Bollywood people who were making a movie about Mr. Kumar were aware of this and adjusted the film to twist it into a story about a man fighting caste oppression!

    https://www.news18.com/news/movies/hrithik-roshans-super-30-no-longer-a-biopic-as-founder-anand-kumar-faces-fraud-charges-1833453.html

    Don’t believe everything you see on the screen. If you want to learn about the realities of caste go to India, and I don’t mean some resort hotel in Bombay or New Delhi to eat $20 buffet food and hear the BS coming from the mouths of the urban liberal elite, but to Bihar or UP and witness real caste dynamics before making these judgemental comments that don’t reflect on the ground realities.

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    1. @Raj Darbhanga

      Fully agree with you on the complexities of caste dynamics in India. Diaspora desis have a very bookish, academic understanding of the castes, which can be miles removed from reality. Caste is such a complex phenomenon that even people like us, who have grown up in India (small town and rural India to boot), don’t claim to understand it fully.

      Foreigners usually think of castes as a well defined hierarchy, like a totem pole where each caste has a neatly assigned place, and they all obediently keep their station.

      For e.g., in my village there are dozens of occupation based castes like suthars (carpenters), telis (oil pressers), ghanchi (milk sellers), lohars (blcksmiths), kallal (liquor distillers) etc. Is there really a hierarchy among these castes? I don’t think so. These are just endogamous groups with nearly the same socio-economical status. Of course if you ask a person from any of these caste, they will rank their own caste highest, and others lower than them. So what?

      Also, all castes have their caste networks (so called maha-sabha or khap or maha-panchayat whatever). Some of these so-called lower castes can be surprisingly powerful depending on their electoral heft and strength of their caste network.

      It is increasingly obvious to me that most of bleeding heart rants against the upper caste privileges come from foreigners or diaspora desis who simply do not have a connect with the ground. All they really do is to simply regurgitate the commonly repeated tropes on casteism.

      I remember the recent fiasco when the Twitter CEO was pictured holding a placard stating “smash Brahminical patriarchy”. There was a well deserved outcry against him for wading into a debate he doesn’t even understand. At least he had so moral courage to admit his mistake. Can we expect the same from the telecommuting SJWs.

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      1. In this context I will mention another BP taboo topic (someone here told me that it is not important thing). Did Aryans have caste system before they came, have they introduced this system in SA or they just accepted (or not) the existing local caste system?

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        1. Did Aryans have caste system before they came, have they introduced this system in SA or they just accepted (or not) the existing local caste system?

          The true answer is that no one knows. All available evidence can be interpreted in different ways to bolster quite divergent theories. What theory one prefers is a reflection of one’s politics rather than the weight of evidence.

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        2. This again confirms my assertion. The conclusion is – just forget it. What is evidence, what are theories, what politics? Why not use a duck test as a starting point? If it looks like a duck, has genes and mythology like duck and quacks Sanskrit like a duck, then it probably is a duck. The next thing would be to check if there is a caste like duck system. And, so on.

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  4. As a side remark, just to mention without further elaboration, one of the BP taboo topics: Aryans in Mahabharata – who are they, where are they?

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  5. I have lived in Patna and have met both Anand Kumar and Abhyanand. Even been to a couple of the former’s classes.

    I haven’t seen the movie but from whatever I have read about it, nothing at all aligns with my personal experience.

    One very important thing to understand:
    Coaching is a monstrously profitable industry in India. For example, Anand Kumar’s classes used to happen in a huge converted garage shed with almost 500-1000 students in one batch sitting in stifling heat amidst mosquitoes.

    But it’s a zero-sum industry because almost every kid who can afford to goes for it. Growth is difficult. So marketing becomes extremely important and these coaching institutes try to stake claim at almost every successful student.

    This leads to hilarious situations where a single student is claimed to belong to 10s of different institutes. Just because he took a practice test on their website once or some such flimsy connection.

    Super-30 is no different but has a unique marketing model. They showcase poor/lower caste kids to signal the fact that Anand Sir is so good, he can teach anyone.

    All of this is bollocks of course. A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine (and later college senior) did really well at international Olympiads and JEE. He became the poster child of Super-30.

    But the reality was that he was a naturally brilliant guy who was mostly self-taught and had very supportive parents. He had never attended any of those classes but used to talk to Abhyanand from time to time, who spotted his talents and took an interest in him.
    He was also from an upper caste, typical upper-middle-class family.

    As far as I’ve read, the movie doesn’t show Abhyanand at all, which is quite petty.
    While Anand Kumar is a marketer par excellence, Abhyanand is someone who genuinely takes interest in math and science. When I met him, we spent a good half hour or so talking about interesting combinatorial problems from some Russian puzzle books.
    (The kind of stuff not usually asked in exams at that level)

    Just my 2 paisa here.

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  6. A lot of the Upper Caste Hindus are involved in BAME because they can’t tolerate being the equivalent to Dalits in the West.

    And also because being part of a protected minority is being Upper Caste in the West.

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  7. “A lot of the Upper Caste Hindus are involved in BAME because they can’t tolerate being the equivalent to Dalits in the West.”

    Maybe something similar to this is why Muslims and liberals complain about Dalits progressing ahead of Muslims, instead of celebrating Dalit progress.

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  8. “The template of the IIT/IIM system suits rural and poor upper castes, who have a culture of education and enough urban access to understand how the system works.” — Man, i wonder sometimes you speak about things that you don’t really understand.

    “Every caste Hindu is a product of Casteocracy just as a white American is a functionary and beneficiary of the Republic’s early origins” — Lol

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  9. After reading countless such rants on the supposed privilege that caste on color grants to a person, I am starting to wonder if the bloggers are even making an attempt at critical and independent thinking? It appears they are simply regurgitating received wisdom.

    The seeds of any person’s future success are sown in the school and college days. In this period it is supremely important to be well adjusted in one’s peer group. If someone becomes isolated because he/she is somehow different from his/her peers, then the natural mental growth gets stunted. Caste is generally least of these differentiating factors. Caste can be easily hidden. Visible physical difference can’t be.

    If someone is a frail and small bodied child in a school full of athletic types, he/she can by bullied through out the school years. Life can be hard even for the only bespectacled kid in a classroom full of kids with healthy eyesight.

    I have seen many south asian kids essentially have their entire childhood stolen because they grew up in US in white dominated neighborhoods, and were isolated thought out their childhood. They grew up without any real friends, without any social skills, and completely introverted. Of course they were all bespectacled and spelling bee champions of their respective schools. It is really a sad spectacle.

    In my school days I have even seen a rich kid being picked on and made to feel outcaste because he was the only rich kid in a class full of middleclass kids.

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    1. Physical stature plays a massive role in how easy it is to be “popular” and good at sports, especially very well respected ones like football, hockey, baseball, and basketball. small skeletal frame, shortness, and late puberty (all stuff that resolved with time for me since I eventually got to 5’9.5 but was 5’3.5 at 16) all can really mess with one’s ability to fit in and not be an easy target for predatory behavior

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  10. The seeds of any person’s future success are sown in the school and college days. In this period it is supremely important to be well adjusted in one’s peer group. If someone becomes isolated because he/she is somehow different from his/her peers, then the natural mental growth gets stunted. Caste is generally least of these differentiating factors. Caste can be easily hidden. Visible physical difference can’t be.

    Scorpion Eater,

    Could not there be, parental influence or personal traits to fend ones ways thru “supremely important to be well adjusted in one’s peer group.”

    I was that short, small made kid, not fish or fowl. The Tamil boy in the Sinhala Medium. Still recall in Grade 5 this teacher pointing me out, in reference to epic where a Tamil King (Elara) lost to Dutugemunu.

    I was a also very poor, compared to rest of many of classmates. At times my father could barely pay the school fees.

    I cant even imagine telling my parents, I did not fit in to the school. My father would have probably said stuff like, life is not easy you need adjust. My mother, easy answer God will show you the way.

    Its within the last few years, I have realized that I have had an extremely privileged background and life.

    Third generation from Paternal and 2nd Gen from Maternal side in one of the top schools in Sri Lanka. Classmates and relatives in all sorts of influential positions.

    Unhappily, I did not play the game by the rules. My Parents did not teach me the rules, of the game either. Not sure even then I would have played by rules

    So just friends and relatives who like me for what I am.

    Not a bad life.

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    1. I have seen Mr. Razib Khan refer to this topic on his GNXP blog once or twice: apparently there was this American researcher (whose name I forgot now; and I also can’t get it because Mr. Khan’s blog is again inaccessible now) whose old thesis is recently beginning to be proven correct – her idea was that peers have far more significant influence on children’s development than parents do.

      My own rather superficial idea with no basis in any empirical observation whatsoever is that it may take some special kinds of temperaments in children (like selfishness/narcissism/envy towards same-age peers/reduced rebellious attitude than expected towards elders, etc. etc.) to come out completely uninfluenced by peers.

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