“India Calling": Book by Anand Giridharadas
#1
I just finished reading all 6 pages of this New York Times article, excerpted from a recent book by columnist Anand Giridharadas. The article itself is a bittersweet bildungsroman narrative of an upwardly mobile young man in the indescript town of Umred, and is full of insightful and poignant takes on many subjects discussed here earlier such as social mobility in India and how traditional social institutions are often at odds with it.
Reply
#2
Just finished reading the NYT article and found it very compelling. I've watched the author giving interviews on American talk shows promoting his book. Hope to read it soon.

As mentioned, the article touches on a number of areas that are food for thought. One that jumped at me was the idea of sub-subcastes Huh
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
Reply
#3
(08-Feb-2011, 02:54 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: As mentioned, the article touches on a number of areas that are food for thought. One that jumped at me was the idea of sub-subcastes Huh

Indeed, this part was particularly aggravating to read:

Quote:They were from the same caste and even the same subcaste. But they were not from the same sub-subcaste. They were the descendants of oil-seed crushers of different varieties.

I was under the impression that this kind of hair-splitting was limited to the purportedly 'higher' castes obsessing over loss of pedigree, but learnt to my dismay that the narcissism of small differences has percolated much deeper. This instance here is one of voluntary horizontal oppression as it were, rather than being enforced vertically from higher up in the caste hierarchy. In a sense this is an example of the victims turning perpetrators (and perepetuators).

Reply
#4
I suppose subcastes or sub-subcastes have different tribal or regional origins. The endogamy might have remained intact even after homogenization under occupational caste identities.
Manju Vadiarillat
Reply
#5
(08-Feb-2011, 01:21 PM)manju Wrote: I suppose subcastes or sub-subcastes have different tribal or regional origins. The endogamy might have remained intact even after homogenization under occupational caste identities.

This is an interesting perspective, suggesting that the caste system as we know it today also had bottom-up influences rather than the traditional, oversimplified, almost exclusively top-down narrative.
Reply
#6
Something I found.

Manju Vadiarillat
Reply
#7
Here's an article reviewing the genre of the book that triggered this thread.

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/...out-india/

Towards the end, there is this long-overdue advice from columnist Sadanand Dhume for all those jingoists who are disdainful of any non-native scholarship on India.

Quote: “It’s petty and small-minded to sit in judgment on who may or may not write about India,” he said, via e-mail. “Indian intellectuals need to get over the silly notion that the only people entitled to write about the country are those who have paid their dues by following Kapil Dev’s bowling average in real time, or writing unreadable reviews for Biblio, or clocking enough time at the IIC [India International Center] bar to know all the waiters by name, or whatever else it is that makes one Indian enough to write about India.”

Reply
#8
(11-Feb-2011, 09:41 AM)arvindiyer Wrote: This is an interesting perspective, suggesting that the caste system as we know it today also had bottom-up influences rather than the traditional, oversimplified, almost exclusively top-down narrative.

What bottom-up influence do you find here? I suppose subcastes are common across all the castes.
Manju Vadiarillat
Reply
#9
(26-Feb-2011, 11:41 PM)manju Wrote: What bottom-up influence do you find here? I suppose subcastes are common across all the castes.

'Bottom-up' was simply my shorthand for influences like 'different tribal or regional origins' which you recognized may have contributed to the current caste structure, and 'top-down' was a short-hand for a structure enforced by conquerors or the establishment based on either force or religious authority. So please don't read too much into my off-the-cuff usage here.

Reply
#10
There are subcastes among Brahmins too. Why shouldn't that be kept in mind before giving any significance to subcastes of other castes? Endogamy was common in many tribal, isolated groups and not restricted to India. But the caste idea of purity of in group marriage sort of gave a philosophical backing to this traditional grown endogamy of these groups even after becoming part of certain occupational caste groups.

The idea of Varnasankara, as a corollary, need not(and did not) encourage within Varna marriages. I wonder whether the division under caste identities sort of make the society before that homogeneous in the retrospective extrapolation.

In my opinion, any idea about the caste division should consider priest centric western Asia as a model than IE racial theories. As Romila Thapar points out in "The Aryan, Recasting Constructs", the absolute prejudice of the early European anthropologists/philologists to give any credit to the much hated "barbaric Semites" in the development of Indian civilization, has suppressed the exposition of any such ideas from that point of reference.
Manju Vadiarillat
Reply
#11
Returning to the book, here is a review that is characteristically dismissive of NRI authors: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?270723
Also of interest is an interview with the author: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?270721
Reply
#12
Here's more from the same author...
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/02/world/...nts02.html
...this time on how hierarchical notions of entitlement and privilege bedevils Indians' civic sense as well.

Quote:There is an idea that low-ranking gate staff don’t need to be listened to. There is an idea that you, the individual, are the best judge of how the system should run, not the people whose system it is. There is an idea that rules are mere hints, to be applied when useful. There is an idea of ruthless maximization of one’s interests, the world (and that old lady in front of you) be damned.
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Times of India edit adi4094 0 2,305 29-May-2014, 07:24 PM
Last Post: adi4094
  Inclusive language in India arvindiyer 3 6,744 04-Jan-2013, 12:27 AM
Last Post: arvindiyer
  Cricket and nationalism in India (and Pakistan) Captain Mandrake 0 4,348 29-Sep-2012, 11:53 AM
Last Post: Captain Mandrake
  India's health minister calls homosexuality a disease Myst 4 4,053 10-Jul-2011, 12:41 AM
Last Post: Lije
  India in Dire Need of Civil Engineers TTCUSM 11 7,368 27-Dec-2010, 11:08 PM
Last Post: murthymail
  EVMs in India - Another scandal? donatello 8 6,356 05-Nov-2010, 05:20 PM
Last Post: donatello
  One more book ban Swati 5 4,281 08-Oct-2010, 08:47 AM
Last Post: Swati
  Final Solution - Hindu Terrorists in India astrokid.nj 0 2,354 06-Oct-2010, 08:19 AM
Last Post: astrokid.nj
  Uniform Civil Code in India Azad 11 8,343 30-Sep-2010, 11:37 PM
Last Post: goafenny
  world's toilet crisis.. india is right there astrokid.nj 8 6,916 10-Sep-2010, 09:14 PM
Last Post: astrokid.nj



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)