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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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/