Wednesday, 22 June 2016

FB Discussions - Castes and Jatis and the changing realities.

(via Sunny Narang)

There can never be a clarity as we have had thousands of years of immigrations . There are 100's of peasant jatis from Yadavs to Jats to Saini to Gujjar , so its not just the occupation but ethnicity . I can converse about Vedic varna , jati theory , actual history, modernity , tribal complexity for days  

We preferred to think of it as Kala-art.Kaladera is a big village with a population of around ten thousand.It has a mix of forty castes and sub-castes which do not intermarry,both among Hindus and Muslims.
We came up with fourteen which worked with some natural material and did skilled handwork.Some who to this day carry on their traditional vocation – Kumavats-stone workers and masons, Manihars-lacquer bangle makers,Neelgars-indigo dyers, Chippas-block printers,kumhars-potters,lohars-metal workers, Patwas-thread workers,Khati-wood workers,Regars-leather workers, sonhars-precious jewellery makers .Many others like basket weavers, weavers, metal jewelry casters had left their craft.Though there is a khadi wool blanket weaving workshop in the village and many castes have tried their hand at weaving.

Meanwhile I was in Dangs district in 1993 . There were mostly tribal communities with Kunbis the agriculturalists the highest tribe with Bhils the forest dwellers the lowest as they would refuse to farm !
So how tribal communities within themselves engage is a great study and living in places like Nagaland.

From a friend "Saale angrezon ne aisa bias kar diya is desh ke shehri bhadralokon ko ki 'caste' discrimination ke siwa padhe-likhon ko kuchh dikhta hi nahi hai! Aur ab Dalit intellectuals aag pe tel chhidakte rehte hain... 

No one has succeeded better in India than the Anglo-Saxon white, by giving Indians such a poor self-image that s/he would be effectively crippled by it.."

More from him "Adivasi India (and within it such diversity!) is of course a different place from Hindu caste society, and yet so many aspects of community overlap.
It is very important to find out how communities of different sorts represent themselves. Typically, there are layers within there is parivaar, kutumb, kunba, biradiri, jaati, samaaj...and perhaps many others, esp in South India, for which one does not even know the words. These layers often overlap/coincide, depending on context.
The important thing to remember is that both 'caste' and 'community' are administrative categories that anglophone India uses to order the world. Things look very very different from the inside. And that should matter to us, for we are supposedly living in sovereign, independent India!
In today's context, I think it is utterly important to break down metropolitan India's complacent arrogance that it has somehow overcome caste, leaving rural India to 'catch up' with modern ways. If anything, because it has less room to hide, rural India lives closer to a solution to caste, merely because it lives closer to the problem (if indeed one perceives it as a 'problem', of which I am not sure) on a daily basis. In cities, caste has become opaque, and thus, far more insidious in its operation, though when it comes to reservations for education and appointments to govt (and often even corporate) jobs, its influence is transparent. There are yet other ways in which discrimination is readily palpable as, for instance, in who we marry or eat with. "

'Few years ago, a Madras High Court (Chennai) had directed the state government to dismantle all jati based judiciary that seem to delivering justice in several parts of the state. While the one instance that had provoked the Court was highlighted, the many functioning systems could not be dismantled. In the State records, they don't exist. A community (and i use the word by choice rather than caste) system that we visited couple of years ago admitted to having a large cash reserve, but, this was meant for their expenses and not to be accounted with the System or the Market. The third leg of the modern system that has failed to penetrate this continuum is Knowledge industry which often furthers the State or the Market's interest.

Urban India has in fact created further sub-divisions in the hierarchy of the caste, IAS officers (batch wise) belong to a caste and they are all higher than the caste of 'conferred IAS'; there are several hierarchies of the State officials, but, they all consider themselves higher than the private sector (except for 'corporate') employees, the private sector has several hierarchies and they all collectively consider themselves superior to the unorganized sector entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurs have several divisions and they collectively consider themselves superior to the worker class, the worker class have several divisions and still they consider themselves better off in the urban set up than their relatives living in the rural areas...each profession has its guild in the urban (more like how jati was initially interpreted by Zigenbarg in early 1600s before the castes took over) today and each one of them has its own rules of which other profession is superior, equal or inferior. The rural landscape may have rather minimum set of rules in any given place compared to the urban ones which are often generic and apply to most urban centres. the inequity in the new urban jati system is even more de-humanizing than the rural, and the opportunities of confrontation (as much as the opportunities to overcome the differences) rather high, hence the increased violence in the urban space (Prof. Nandy wrote on this a few years back) when it becomes too much and there aren't adequate mechanisms and platforms to resolve issues....thanks for this insights, hope nough people are provoked to respond...

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