I wrote this lengthy piece as a comment on this blog. I will soon be organizing an event in bay on a related topic and nevertheless wanted to write some stuff on this topic. I will follow up in other posts.
I am unable to see what is wrong with Rajdeep’s tweet. If someone bringing caste into everything is regressive, just squarely blaming everything on caste is also sort of colonial hangover.
I would definitely like to know what concrete evidence you would have for your claim:
“When you are the only community having access to education and knowledge systems and thus denying the right to education to rest of the communities”
On the contrary several places in Goa including my village had schools in early 1900s because of various saraswasts and later the Partagal mutt providing land and other assistance.
I dont see any reason why we should be ashamed of any caste. Just the way Tim Cook publicly declaring himself gives hope to million other gay children that they too can make it big, we publicly acknowledging the achievements of fellow caste members equally gives hope to everyone else.
Most of the anti-caste propaganda smells of leftist distortions mixed up with missionary propaganda mostly funded by people who fail to understand India’s civilization perspective. Phrases like “Thousands of years of oppression..” are thrown around without any kind of hard evidence.
Two important and reliable sources for understanding caste before Independent India are Dharampal’s work and the Census Reports of British government.
Dharampal basically goes to show that India had a wider network of educational institutes and higher level of education among all lower castes before the British rule. The education level among India’s lower castes and working class was far higher than that of British society.
The census officers in 1930s concluded that the caste wise survey was meaningless because caste itself is fluid concept which government must not view as rigid structure. The officer gives detailed accounts of how several castes disappeared year on year and new castes came into existence. He explain how once a community gains influence it claims a higher place in caste order (e.g. Nabhik community turning into Nayik Brahmins) and how the whole system acts as an incentive to improve upon they level of prosperity. He concludes the report that saying any attempts to fix a caste would be counter-productive and act to perpetually bind those people into those brackets.
Interestingly it is only the progressives and post-independent India that has created political and economic incentives for people to claim they are “backward” and “oppressed”.
The GSB community is a very good example of why the census officers got it right. History of many families in GSB community is relatively well documented. A lot of “prabhu desai” were not GSBs to begin with. Several other GSBs belonged to various other castes 500 years ago. As and when they came into contact with the Mutt and were able to influence the Swami and help the mutt, they were inducted into GSB community. Many were expelled from the community from time to time and putting them into different caste brackets.
Tracing the history of GSBs they remain somewhat on the move throughout the course of history and yet one of the well organized community in the country compared to others. A lot of this GSB history is well documented in this research work http://amzn.to/1EQfOIZ [Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins, published by University of California].
You might be right to point out that Tendulkar’s achievements have nothing to do with his caste, but you are quick to then claim that Tendulkar was somehow in better position than others to score those centuries because of his caste.
Obviously people who are well off will relatively do better than others in the current generation but I fail to see why no one wants to give any evidence to the claim that the exact same people were better off throughout the history ? Almost every available piece of evidence seems to go opposite to that assumption.
Issue of oppression of fellow man and denying them the same freedom that is available to others have is a crime. However I dont buy the claim that caste was an instrument of oppression. Some influential people oppressing others is a common theme in history everywhere. In case of slavery in US or Australia where black people were categorized as “not–human” is pretty much the case of creating a rigid structure for the purpose of exploitation and oppression.
In case of oppression in India, the caste factor only correlated with the kind of influence the castes had at that time. For example poor people were oppressed by the ruling class or rich class with enough fluidity where poor could get rich and turn into the oppressors. Example : Nadan family of Agastheeswaram in Kerala where lower caste women were not allowed cover their breasts. This family which was at the receiving end came to prominence, got an exception from the King for their women but actively enforced the exact same restriction on others.
This is very similar to how BJP and Congress pretend to have different economic policies but when in power follow the exact same economic policies purely because that is politically profitable for them.