eden postponed

Maybe Shiva knows? Its a struggle with modernity and some of its paradoxes hint at some great truths. Beginning in the 1960’s the hippies began traveling to India, on the quest of a sort of Thomas More utopia: a search to find a perfect place and to be in no place. A contradiction. A paradox between experience and no experience. They are still coming and the desire is to find a primeval India, a Paradise Lost. And the Indians, the lower castes and a few Brahmins want their cash.Its a great paradox for Westerners to voyage to other side of the world and bitch about the amenities and they diss on each other.  They brought the easy money and the creeping materialism invades the hippie tourist villages. The beaches are lined with identical looking establishments with generic authentic like names such as Shiva Cafe, Ramayana bar…

---Their riders are an odd mix: the hippies, semi-naked with their intricate tattoos and wraparound shades, straddling old Enfield Bullets, studiously ignoring the fat, pink, middle-aged package tourists clinging nervously to their scooter handlebars and wishing they were sipping their first cool Kingfisher beer of the day. These men, too, have discarded their shirts, preferring to expose their beer bellies to the sun; the women favour strappy vest tops and shorts that ruck up around the thighs. If they notice the cold stares they receive from some of the local people who move among them, it does not show. This is the Goa most people know: the relaxed, freewheeling, former Portuguese colony which opens its arms to visitors of all kinds and so appealed to the hippies who flocked here in the late 1960s that some have never left. Yet something poisonous has entered Eden. Beneath the surface lies a seething mass of tensions and hatreds. ... state-sponsored land grab of expatriates' properties, the influx of Russian and Indian property developers, and even a threat to ban the wearing of bikinis ... Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/28/goa-tensions-threaten-expat-paradise

The moral degradations of materialism? Perhaps. But India is still timeless.  The turbans and the saris people still dress in and in the gods that are prayed to in roadside shrines and magnificent temples means there is also  an unbroken connection to a distant distant past. India is going through some very chaotic change caught equally between doomsday scenario prophecies and visions of a global powerhouse merge seamlessly together. The only reassuring thing is that the citizenry seems inured to tumultuous times ….

Why do people in India vote for such corrupt politicians and such dysfunctional government with such alarming regularity. Its a culture of deep corruption. Imagine Jimmy Breslin’s The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight and Runyon’s Guys and Dolls characters occupying the highest positions in the land. Its basic political tribalism, clan politics where regional caste based parties are floated in the same spirit as business ventures. The culture is defined by a collectivism where the head of a group determines the candidate to vote for en bloc, regardless of the absence of merit. Actually, bad faith, lack of idealism and dishonesty is probably an advantage in this milieu which generally appears to favor the pathological or the psychopath.

---However, caste discrimination continues to be a social evil experienced everyday in several covert forms, and in periodic public acts of murder, rape, and arson. Poor people identified as Dalit are routinely refused housing in communities dominated by the upper castes, even in urban conglomerations where such distinctions are hard to identify. In rural areas where everyone’s social origins are well established, Dalits suffer the most. Marriage with a higher caste person is absolutely taboo. If anyone breaks the taboo, lynching is a common tragic occurrence. Dalits are expected to be submissive. A demand for better treatment can be met with beatings or even murder. Upper caste landlords occasionally exercise the droit de seigneur over attractive poor Dalit women in rural areas. Minimum wages established by law are rarely paid.---Read More:http://www.transcend.org/tri/downloads/The_Caste_System_in_India.pdf image:http://www.psywar.org/race.php

The basic caste structure  is from top down, The Brāhmanas,  commonly identified with those who fulfill the calling of priests and spiritual preceptors.Then the   Ksatriyas , the ‘protectors’,  usually rulers and warriors. Next, the Vaisyas are those who have commercial livelihood,the merchant class, followed by the Sudras, are toilers and artisans.Dalit, the Oppressed, people belonging to the fifth group, perform what is termed unclean services such as cremation, animal slaughter, cleaning etc.

Gurmukh Singh: Not surprisingly, nearly 30 per cent of the MPs in India’s Parliament have a criminal record or charges pending against them – from murder to kidnapping to forgery to theft. There’s no way to throw them out because the overburdened legal system – where more than 30 million cases are pending – takes decades to produce verdicts….Shockingly in a poor country such as India, many of these political elites flaunt a lifestyle so rich and luxurious that it could be the envy of any Hollywood star. Only in India do political leaders live free in multimillion-dollar government-owned palatial bungalows spread over two to eight acres in New Delhi. The corrupt political elites have also made the Indian bureaucracy their partners in crime.Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/indias-culture-of-black-money/article2134566/

Chandra Bhan Prasad, a leading Dalit intellectual, has highlighted that few of the government’s programmes to transform a caste-ridden society have succeeded. He concludes that “the enduring salience of caste itself’ is the greatest paradox of Indian society [Babu 2009]. ‘White Revolutionary’ policies have been attempted from time to time by the country’s leaders in a desultory manner, their ameliorating aspects being quickly watered down by vested interests. The economic mechanisms by which the poor can help themselves have been known for some time, but elite intransigence has steadily prevented such bottom-up impetus. It can only be hoped that as the ‘old guard’ passes from the scene better sense will prevail, and the poor with their own histories of compassionate understanding will the teach the Indian elite accommodation and survival. Read More:http://www.transcend.org/tri/downloads/The_Caste_System_in_India.pdf

Singh:Were India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who promised to “hang the corrupt from the nearest lamppost,” to return today, he would commit suicide after seeing that “black money” (income from illegal activities) accounts for almost half of the country’s GDP. Another $1.7-trillion is hidden abroad. Only 32 million out of more than a billion Indians pay taxes, and most transactions are carried out in cash.

Those who suffer the most in this booming black money industry are the masses of Indians forced to pay bribes to get a job or a driver’s licence or a passport or their kids admitted to school. So it’s no surprise that, in anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, the frustrated masses have found a new-age Gandhi – and they’ve taken to the streets seeking justice.Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/indias-culture-of-black-money/article2134566/a

---Our conversation turned to the hippy mob all around us. Gokarna was a jumping off point for beaches further south, with names like Om, Half Moon and Paradise. “Everybody we’ve met,” I said to Mansu, “talks about how one beach is better than another because it doesn’t have electricity or because it’s shanti. Although they’ve come all the way to India, to a place with such an ancient civilisation, all they can talk about is escaping civilisation – but when they get to the beaches, what do they do? They lie in hammocks stoned, drinking banana smoothies.” Mansu laughed, but said quite seriously, “I think they’re looking for innocence.” “But by being here, they destroy that innocence,” I replied, “and when the locals satisfy their need for accommodation, food, beer, drugs and music, what do the hippies do? They complain that the place has been spoilt. Spoilt by who?” I stopped, surprised by my own vehemence. Mansu paused before replying. “Um, yes,” he said “but I think it’s more complicated th

hat....Read More:http://www.oldworldwandering.com/2011/06/06/the-curse-of-gokarna-india/

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ADDENDUM:

But those claiming Brahmin or Ksatriya origin do not expect others to think that their ancestors were humble labourers or providers of menial service, as would be the case for an individual identified by a low-caste Jāti designation such a Paraiyan or Chamar. In theory at least, civilized ‘caste Hindus’ regard it as wrong and unnatural to share food or have other intimate social contact with those who are dissimilar to them in terms of caste.

--- LUCKNOW: A day after a Dalit youth was set on fire in Etawah following a dispute over Rs 10, a six-year-old Dalit girl was thrown into fires by a person in Mathura on Wednesday. Her fault: She stepped on a walkway, the cause of dispute with the family of the accused. Both the victims are battling for life. Ironically, in both the cases, police's role has come as a huge embarrassment for senior officials who intervened to control the situation at both the places. Read More:http://upliftthem.blogspot.com/2008/10/dalit-atrocity-abuse-of-human-rights.html

The implication is that to be of a high or low caste is a matter of innate quality or essence. This is what is stated in many Indian scriptures dealing with caste ideals. But in real life, these principles have often been widely contested and modified. The implication would be that all who are born into the so-called ‘clean’ castes, rank as high and pure, regardless of wealth, achievement or other individual circumstances. Dr M.N. Srinivas has brought in the ‘theory of Sanskritization’, an historical process of a group moving upward socially through the embrace of the high or ‘Sanskritic’ practices, as opposed to local or popular forms of social and religious practices.

Oklahoma City. 1939.---More than 160 million people in India are considered "Untouchable"—people tainted by their birth into a caste system that deems them impure, less than human. Human rights abuses against these people, known as Dalits, are legion. A random sampling of headlines in mainstream Indian newspapers tells their story: "Dalit boy beaten to death for plucking flowers"; "Dalit tortured by cops for three days"; "Dalit 'witch' paraded naked in Bihar"; "Dalit killed in lock-up at Kurnool"; "7 Dalits burnt alive in caste clash"; "5 Dalits lynched in Haryana"; "Dalit woman gang-raped, paraded naked"; "Police egged on mob to lynch Dalits". "Dalits are not allowed to drink from the same wells, attend the same temples, wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste, or drink from the same cups in tea stalls," said Smita Narula, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, and author of Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's "Untouchables." Human Rights Watch is a worldwide activist organization based in New York. India's Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense. Read More:http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/06/0602_030602_untouchables.html image:http://www.anti-caste.org/dalits/page/2/

Thus in his view, caste-society is mobile and fluid, rather than static and inflexible. Caste is explained by many specialists as a system of elaborately stratified social hierarchy that distinguishes India from all other societies. It has achieved much the same significance in social, political and academic debates as ‘race’ in the United States, ‘class’ in Britain and ‘faction’ in Italy. It has thus been widely thought of as
the paramount fact of life in the subcontinent, and for some, it is the very core or essence of south Asian civilization.Read More:http://www.ikfoundation.org.uk/eventfiles/IK%20Lecture%203%20Summary%20NSA%20oct02.pdfa

--- "By day, they work together, consulting with each other to help their patients. "But at lunch, the 150 doctors at this medical college in Muzaffarpur head to seven separate rooms. "The menu in each cafeteria is the same. Daal, rice, sabzi. But 'the kitchens are separate for Harijans, Thakurs and Brahmins,' says Shatrughan Rai, who works as a cook in the Yadav kitchen, one he describes as a kitchen for a backward class. "The doctors say this is a tradition. 'Our seniors followed it. Now we do,' declares Dr. Aditya, who refuses to reveal his caste. "The kitchen and dining rooms were separated at the height of the caste movement in Bihar in the 60s and 70s. "The call for change is not deafening, even though the majority of the doctors today are from lower castes. They say they have to proceed with caution. Read More:http://www.anti-caste.org/dalits/page/2/ image:http://www.psywar.org/race.php

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To further complicate our understanding of ‘caste,’ whole castes or important sections of a caste have moved up and down the scales of power and wealth in historical times, and changed their supposed allocated avocations. Today, Ms Mayawati, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous key state in India, is a Dalit woman, and she is reckoned to have the best prospects of becoming a Prime Minister in the future. Her party has made alliances with Brahmin groups. The TVS group, the richest and most stable business house in Southern India, is owned by Brahmins.

---The government on Tuesday was at sixes and sevens over Anna Hazare’s steely determination to carry on with his indefinite fast despite his unexpected arrest and his equally sudden release in the face of mounting countrywide protests. Anna scornfully rejected his release, saying he would leave Tihar Jail only if the government unconditionally allowed his protest for a stronger Lokpal Bill. In any case, he said, he was fasting in Tihar. The government’s desperate attempt to cut its losses-releasing Anna within 12 hours of his arrest and seven-day judicial remand-failed badly as it was outwitted by the Gandhian and his growing band of supporters, who appeared to be thinking three steps ahead of government managers. Not only was it seen to be eating humble pie after Anna’s arrest, it was nowhere close to easing its discomfiture.--- Read More:http://theformore.com/news/india-against-corruption-anna-hazare-spends-night-in-tihar-jail-upa-in-bind-gropes-for-a-face-saver

At the same time, recent reports have pointed out that large sections of Brahmins live in abject poverty and even do menial jobs like cleaning public latrines [Gautier 2006]. Even way back in 1978, the Karnataka government revealing the per capita monthly income of people within a region reported that while a Dalit earned Rs.680, a Brahmin earned only Rs. 537! [Jain 1990] The Reddy caste, nominally counted as Sudras rose to royal power in Southern India over 600 years ago, and today dominates politics and business in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states. The real struggle for political power both in the north and the south is fought out between ‘backward’ castes nominally considered Sudras.Read More:http://www.transcend.org/tri/downloads/The_Caste_System_in_India.pdf

…Dr Shastri portrayed tourism as a curse of the lower castes, and there was much in the village to indicate he was right. Girls as young as ten spent their days sitting outside shops on the main drag – shops stocked with chillums, bongs and bohemian clothing – when they should have been at school. They called out to us – “You look my shop! Good price!” – every time we passed. Gokarna’s two wine shops were well stocked and busy. Both had places to sit, where tourists drank beside local businessmen and farmers. The farmers drank alone. They bought half jacks of cheap, colourless whisky, mixed half a glass with an equal measure of water and knocked the whole lot back. They got drunk fast. It was hard for them to adjust their dhotis when they stood to leave, and it seemed unlikely that their wiry legs could keep them upright for the entire journey home – but there were equally drunk businessmen and tourists, and they were loud, obnoxious drunks, who shouted over each other or, if they were alone, at nobody in particular.

It seemed more likely that Dr Shastri was only half right. Brahmin families were also susceptible to the temptations of easy money, and there were people that were neither Brahmins nor Kshatriyas – the upper castes – who spent their money wisely. Read More:http://www.oldworldwandering.com/2011/06/06/the-curse-of-gokarna-india/

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