Thursday, June 19, 2008

You are not Brahmin? Stay away!

That's the message a Hyderabad-based company is sending out to the millions of normal people out there in the world. I came across this post by MumbaiGirl on Blogbharti. This company, called Dhanwantri Foundation, proposes to develop a gated community exclusively for Brahmins. I am just so outraged and disgusted that I don't know how to go about this post any more. DNA published a report on the gated community, as did the Deccan Herald. I could not find the original article on the Herald's site and so I am linking to the Sulekha forums. I am shocked and surprised that no news channel picked it up and reported it as the illegal act it is. They had better things to talk about, didn't they? Like Shah Rukh Khan's six-pack abs and the millions our cricketers made?

The "Agraharam" as it is called, derives from the traditional meaning of the word, which was a Brahmins-only area, prevalent until the mid twentieth-century. The abolition of untouchability, Indian independence and social revolution meant that these Agraharams started disappearing in the late 1950s. Now, this Foundation is acting as if they are the saviours of Brahmins all over the world, by recreating a concept that has no place in a modern, egalitarian world. What the hell? And they wonder why nobody likes them? The site claims that,

"Since the traceable history known, Brahmin Community has led a Serene & Sacrificial life wishing welfare of entire Society irrespective of Caste, Religion and Region etc. Leading mostly spiritual life they have not given much importance to materialistic gains. Bestowed with intellect & working for Spiritual elevation of entire society, they were respected & nurtured by rest of Society in reciprocation. However, Western Culture, vote bank based democracy of India leading to Caste-based selfish motivated politicians have cornered the Brahmin community, leaving majority Brahmins in pathetic condition irrespective of their position. Added to above external threats & adverse situation, the feeling of ego and so-called intellect has not allowed the community to function as a systematic organization leaving individuals to suffer."

Serene and sacrificial life? Who are they kidding? And what the f*** do they mean, "bestowed with intellect"? It is precisely this attitude, a disgusting and unpardonable superiority complex that led to the anti-Brahmin revolutions of the 1930s, and the Dravidian movement with a total negation of caste-identity. Let's make one thing clear. Intellect and intelligence is not the exclusive domain of the Brahmins, as they (or should I say we?) like to believe. The motives of the Foundation are certainly not as noble as they may seem. It claims to promote "mutual understanding". Tell me, just how do you promote mutual understanding when you exclude about 98% of the Indian population?

What nobody seems to get, on the Sulekha forums or elsewhere, is that the very act of building a gated community that excludes people on the basis of caste is illegal. Article 15 of the Indian Constitution clearly states that,

    1. The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
    2. No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to-
      1. access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or
      2. the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
    3. Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.
    4. Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

What the Dhanwantri Foundation is doing is precisely this: discriminating on the grounds of caste and creed. While a private enterprise has every right to do business the way it deems fit, it cannot deny the right to buy a plot there on the grounds of caste alone. The registration form alone is enough to make me see red. Gotram indeed! Well, I refuse to acknowledge that I have one. Unless we start protesting against this kind of casteist and discriminatory bullshit, we will never really progress. Let's face it. The society we live is definitely caste-based. But that does not mean we deliberately exclude people on the basis of something as unacceptable as caste. This attitude of the Brahmins simply sucks.

8 comments:

kaushik said...

the kind of people who decide to go there, do not deserve to stay in the modern society anyway

Nita writes said...

My father was a member with one of the Rotary clubs in operation in Madras; and once in a while they hosted dinner meets wherein rotarians could gather with their families for a meeting cum dinner.

I distinctly remember many of the kids not wanting to sit next to me because I was consuming chicken and surprise surprise! they were all brahmins!

I saw a bit of their ugly side when studying at Ethiraj as well... so its nothing new to me. They think they're superior but they're not. All these notions are just nonsensical and out-dated. And they can talk!

Nita said...

I am glad I don't know such people in real life! But anyway, our society has become so riddled with caste and caste issues that it doesn't surprise me. Tomorrow if a brahmin suicide squad is formed it wouldn't surprise me! May sound cynical but our politicians are doing everything they can to perpetuate caste consciousness amongst people and the more brahmins get marginalised, the worse they will have behave. Well, not the majority. It's always a few people who decide to take the law into their own hands and profess to speak for the community as a whole who are dangerous.

Amrutha said...

I agree with Kaushik...but that does not excuse the efforts of the Foundation...All of us are maligned thanks to the unpardonable superiority complex of a few. These people probably form about 2% of the total Brahmin population, but in my experience, most Brahmins are at least caste-conscious, if not phobic of non-Brahmins. And, that's saying something, because nearly 90% of my family's acquaintances are Brahmins.

@lankr1ta said...

This is another example of the latent intolerance we have in our society.
Why do we even know our "castes" isn't it very racist to do so? Isn't education something that makes us rise above our patriarchy?

Srijith said...

Atleast the Brahmin youth is becoming aware of the social changes. I have many friends from Brahmin community , but they dont believe in caste based rituals.

Indian Home Maker said...

When we were young (late 1970 through 1980s)India was progressing, we never thought of caste and religion as identities, but today I see politicians using our latent intolerance to create further divide and reliable vote banks.We are helping them by doing this! Such divides may be the beginning of the end of our Democracy...I hope not!

The Minking Than said...

Before I state my point, let me affirm my stand as a person who believes in the equality of men and the senselessness of the caste system :).
Now, I am not too sure if you will be able to legally fight the organization as such, unless of course it is funded by public money as in - if it a public company, or a society. Just like I can create an alumni association for my college and restrict access only to alumni they can create something specific for brahmins and restrict entry only for brahmins. A bit voltairish huh :)