G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Anil Kumble’s Team is Largely Brahmin. So was Shivaji’s Ministry..

Indian media is angry because Australian media have raked up caste.

The Sydney Morning Herald article says:

“…The Brahmin caste, which forms only a tiny fraction of India's population, has always dominated the national cricket side.

Even today, with the game reaching further and further into the countryside, and the so-called lower orders, the Indian team has a decided flavour with Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, R.P. Singh and Ishant Sharma all Brahmins. Wasim Jaffer is a Muslim, Harbhajan Singh a Sikh, while, of the Hindu players, only Mahendra Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh come from "lower" castes…”

The other day I read T S Shejwalkar’s article on the importance of work of Saint Ramdas who was a Brahmin.

("रामदासांचा उपदेश व उद्योग महाराष्ट्र्राज्याला विघातक ठरला काय?" त्र्यंबक शंकर शेजवलकर 1943)

He said:”…seven out of eight members of Shivaji’s 17th century administration were Brahmins…only chief of army was non-Brahmin...”

Most Hindu Indians are sensitive about caste. Most of them like me marry into their own caste. I have even heard some Muslims talking ‘proudly’ how their ancestors were Brahmins!

Why can’t foreign media talk about it?

11 comments:

Chetan said...

(I had left this comment here two days ago. I am resubmitting it just in case it got caught up as spam or something. It might be just that you are busy and didn't get a chance to catch up on the comments. In that case please discard one of the comments. Thanks. Looking forward to seeing you blogging regularly.)

Not discounting the fact that my countrymen have converted offense taking into an art form and I am sure soon will even have an industry surrounding it with people being employed to protest etc., I think the offense here stem from the shoddy analysis than 'a foreigner mentioning caste'.

It is the insinuation that caste plays a role in selection of teams that many might find appalling. Also, I think it is generalisations that Siriyavan Anand had made in his original article published in Himal magazine about Lagaan, from which this article has been 'inspired,' that is grating. I have followed Siriyavan's writings in outlook and on countercurrent.org for a while now. He has a caustic pen and I admire his courage in presenting articles that stir anger and address issues that the upper castes would rather not hear about. However, as with many writers who are into advocacy of a certain issue, he sees the entire world only through those issue coloured glasses rather than looking at issues from various dimensions. Yes, it serves the purpose in bringing attention to the cause they advocate, but it fails in its analysis of the causal relationships that go into a solution to those issues or even understanding of them.

That such generalisations born out of stereotypes like brahmins being indolent, slow movers, or that they are scheming and selfish and only play for themselves, are used to justify their dominance is especially grating since it comes from a person who is not a casteist. How is it any different from a person from upper caste justifying few members of lower caste in IT by saying that it is because they lack perseverence and intellectual tradition, that the lower castes are lazy and just want to live on government largesse, they also lack values like cleanliness and are loud mouthed and therefore their 'qualities' are best suited for blue collar positions? I am sure Anand will take extreme offense if anyone justifies lower numbers of lower castes in white collar professions. So why do you think it is ok if he uses similar justifications when talking about upper castes? I find both equally offensive.

It's not that I am advocating taking offense at talking about caste, but at the same time I would prefer that there is no reprimanding done by anyone if I choose to critcise the analysis that supports the conclusions being drawn. It smacks of political correctness trouncing sound analysis. It would lead to a situation like the feminists after breaking the established orthodoxy and changing status quo by bringing into focus some controversial truths and policies, literally had Lawrence Summers removed when he suggested that a study needs to be conducted as to why there are few women in Physics. When they were challenging the established norms they should get a free pass but when someone else challenges their orthodoxy he ought to be gagged.

Therefore I am glad that apart from a few jerks in the media, others have responded very eloquently to the article that was published. Here is Salil Tripathi's excellent rebuttal and Greatbong in biting sarcasm has written thus
Which is why I exhort the Indian press to please write an article on the Australian team, by digging up their family trees and finding out what kind of convicts they descended from and putting it next to their names—rapist, armed robber, murderer etc. And then analyze how the descendants of one class of criminals have dominated over the other without forgetting to get some disgruntled Australian cricketer to give a quote saying that he was given the cold-shoulder because his ancestor's crime was not considered "cool" enough.

Just as an article suggesting that Australians are an aggressive team because they descended from convicts would no doubt lead to offense taking in Australia followed by rebuttals, I think that this article based on shoddy analysis, has gotten its due.

I will give you an excellent example how an engaging article can be penned about uncomfortable issues but which does not draw on generalisations and stereotypes to support its conclusions. This article by Tim Hartford is a must read. Analysis that cuts through all the clutter and illuminates as much as it enlightens.

Had the Sydney Morning Herald published a similar study of the reasons why Indian cricket team is dominated by Brahmins, I wouldn't have to defend people who have taken offense.

waman said...

Those Brahmins have won Perth test and prevented hosts to remain on record.
Aniruddha, what do you say?

Waman Karnik, Boston USA

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Thanks Chetan. I liked it. I didn't get it earlier.

My problem is with our cacophonic e and p media. They are driving me crazy. I have almost stopped watching TV news. Now I plan to stop reading newspapers.

Caste is very complex. Giants like M N Srinivas spent their life times understanding them.

My point is we shouldn’t mind others talking about our castes whatever their own crimes are, whatever gross simplifications they make.

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Thanks Waman.

I am happy.

I will soon write about "jumpology"- I am in love with the way R P Singh and Irfan Pathan jump in the air after they take a wicket.

More later...

mangesh said...

Dear Aniruddha,
When you find laughter in cricket team, how is that you have not written anything on Akhil Bhaaratiya Marathi Sahitya and Natya Sammelan held with lot of tomtom and pre & after fuss. Also there was Sadhana Samakaalin Sammelan before one month, wherein Samaajwadi have made one effort to rejoin.
I await your comments soon.
Mangesh Nabar

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Mangesh,

Thanks for the suggestion.

But do these meets matter any more? The meet which never elected likes of V K Rajwade to Arun Kolatkar are not relevant at all to literature and art.

Every year we hit a new moral low.

mangesh said...

Dear Aniruddha,
Sadhana Samakaalin Sammelan is not like usual literature meets. The stalwarts like Ga.Pra.Pradhan & Raa.Ga.Jadhav are the Mahaanubhav in Sane Guruji's legacy. I expect some thoughts from you on the present Sadhana weekly, if you read it being in Pune. I feel that it is the only magazine left now, which really publishes thought provoking articles. Others have become business! Pl.comment.
Mangesh Nabar

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Mangesh,

I didn't mean Sadhana meet.

I haven't read Sadhana weekly for a long time. I will try to read it. I hope it has less "ideology" and more "openness". The way Sane guruji would like.

I agree. If you remove Sarwate and Dhond, even "Lalit" is quite ordinary . They still publish Govind Talwalkar, writing one verbose essay after another.

But why do we need a formal, physical meet at all? I am confused.

Nikheel Shaligram said...

Let me to express a few of my thoughts in this ongoing dialog. Dear Aniruddha, You should read Sadhana weekly, in its present form and then comment, whether the present editor Dr.Narendra Dabholkar has been following Sane Guruji's legacy. Moreover, he has a new team of young writers. I don't want to advocate, but why not to read Sadhana, when you are in Pune, since Sadhana is not available on any stalls.Sadhana has come up in its 60th year of publication with vigour.
Nikheel Shaligram

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

Hi Nikheel,

Thanks. I should and would.

But let me very honest with you. I worry a little about "loudness" of Shri. Narendra Dabholkar himself although I respect him a lot.

A liberal viewpoint should leave room for other voices. But when I read him, he sounds like Richard Dawkins. My way or the highway.

Read Durga Bhagwat on the qualities of Sane guruji's writing and voice. Very soft but very committed, determined, persuasive, reaching masses and classes.
She gives example of his biographies of V K Rajwade and Deshbandhu Das.

Will subscribe to Sadhana in 2008. Now that I have stopped by subscription to The Economist!

Anonymous said...

Good dispatch and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you as your information.