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Just Shoot Me

Bala, 28, Gordon Gekko in the making, pseudo-intellectual, cynic, bibliophile, obsessive compulsive ranter...

What does one do with a racist?

May 20, 2006

Two days back, i had a run-in with an Indian racist. Not your everyday ubermenschen dreaming about the day when the fuehrer will clean out all the undermenschen and provide lebensaurum, but close enough. The Indian racist uses caste instead of race - Just a technical difference, rest is all the same - the bigotry, the hatred, the helpless splutter at seeing the lower castes walking about "where they dont belong".

unmindful of the fact that i am obviously one of the undermenschen , she (it was a she) went on happily ranting about the recent decision by the Tamil Nadu Government to allow persons of all castes to become temple priests. Normally i dont waste brain cells thinking about indian racists, but i got a moment of epiphany - these are the sort of brainless wonders who could come up with stuff like "kula kalvi thittam". (a wicked scheme hatched in 1953 by the then TN CM C Rajagopalachari to ensure all was proper and children learnt only their family trade)
posted by Bala, 4:08 PM


Hey Bala this is Velu.. So did you do anything to the 'she' who was casteist ? Just wondering what 'dose' she got from you !
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:50 PM  
HI bala , I stumbled onto ur site while searching for something else. Just 2 points - The supersitious mom was shocked and left speechless by the 13 yr old's comment on God. Similarly when ur trying to change traditions that are millenia old, people are going to rant.It doesnt make them racist/casteist.Its like the sari/salwar and now the salwar/jeans debate.

Point no 2 : I checked with my family elders on the kula kalvi thittam cos I couldnt find an objective analysis on the net, and I wasnt born then.The net usually says it was casteist. My grandmother said it was to provide a ready job for people when they finished school - if at all they finished school. Before you get all het up, let me explain why it makes sense.The lady who works as "domestic'? help in my office is forced to do it cos her husband, who rose to become supervisor in a company thru sheer hard work, was left without a job when it closed down. 10th pass, 12th fail,too much prestige and no knowledge anyway of basic jobs like carpentry or electrical stuff. So basically he's been at home now for 4 yrs.His wife supports the family now.He doesnt have to learn any caste based occupation. But any vocational training would have come in handy and he wouldnt have felt he was "stooping "to lower levels!
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 4:18 PM  
Anony 2:

Point no 1:
I beg to differ. When someone comes in and tells me that if i enter the Garbagriha or Sanctum Sanctorium, then the God gets theetu, i would like to think of that person as a racist/casteist. You can go on about "qualifications", but if you notice, they throw in the caste as a criteria for excluding me, so i get all riled up. When you are at the receiving end of racist discrimination, you tend to think that sari / salwar analogy is trivialising the whole issue

Traditions that are millenia old include untouchability, varna system, Racism in the west. If someone in the United States says all african americans should not be let into churches because of their colour, then he would called (rightly) a racist. No one condone him as a "tradionalist"

Point no 2:
Kula kalvi thittam - my sources are verbal accounts from my grand father and some tamil books i have read on the history of Dravidian movement. I admit both sources are highly prejudiced (my grandpa was a DK acolyte).Here are a few pointers :

1) It was not a traditional vocational training program - it did not offer any choices. It made the child learn what its parent did. If your dad was a carpenter, you did carpentry, you couldnt try your hand on sewing. I read this as a clever attempt at perpetuation of hereditary trades. Imagi

2) In 1953/54 what was the literacy rate?. People from the lower caste strata were just beginning to come out in larger numbers for the schools. This system was this - in the morning ordinary schooling, in the afternoon learn the trade of your father. In a society where the only viable meads of upward mobility was education, this was a subtle and clever attempt to "keep people where they belong"

I will make a seperate detailed post on this issue
commented by Blogger Bala, 9:13 AM  
Anony 2:

I see you are searching for information on Kula kalvi thittam. You will end up with much more information if you use unicode tamil string குலக் கல்வி திட்டம் for searching the web.

There are pretty good links in திண்ணை.காம் on this subject

Pro - views

Critical - Views
commented by Blogger Bala, 4:30 PM  
well, as far as theetu is concerned, I havent ever been able to enter a garba griha thoug I did try hard as a kid!:)No matter how many times i bathed.

Anyway, caste is used as a qualification to exclude me too. I should know.My sister is right now applying to various colleges, and the first question in every form seems to be - "Specify your caste".

About traditions, there are good ones and bad ones. I wasnt justifying anything. I merely observed that change doesnt happen in a day!And you cant expect people to welcome change with open arms. There will be resistance. But at least, its happening. For all the raving and ranting, I dont think anybody has done anything as yet to stall the process.Its pretty certain the law will be passed and probably in a yr or two u and I can enter the garba graha sans theetu!

For the kula kalvi thittam, I guess I was wrong. What my grandma told me is different from what ur saying. I'll go thru those links sometime. Just one prob - I dont read Tamil. Yeah Im ashamed to say Im tamilian and dont read my mother tongue! Casteism apart, what do you think about compulsory vocational training in a field of the student's choice? I always had a thing for carpentry but never got to learn cos "good girls "didnt do such stuff. I really hated all that stitching and embroidery that we had to learn as girls, and I passed the practical exam only because my teacher had reached the end of her tether and didnt want to see me in her class anymore! On a more serious note, practical training would def help people get temp jobs at least.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:44 AM  

if you want me to translate the tamil links for you... pls mail me..
commented by Blogger Bala, 3:23 AM  
About the so-called 'Kula kalvi thittam' - It was not a name given by Rajaji, whose administration in 1953 was supposed to have taken this 'thittam' - but you cannot find a reference to a single government order about this. This was a piece of political slander and calumny by EVR and his devotees. Rajaji or his governemnt did not call the plan, if such a serious government decision existed, by that name. Rajaji admirers POV is that in 1952 85% of prospective school going children were in rural areas and most of them did not go to school or their parents were not keen to send them. There was also a dearth of schools. To break the impasse and encourage parents to send their children to school, Rajaji propsed that schools will have two shifts of 4 hours each and when children were not at school, they will learn a trade from their family or father, it may be anything. This was typical of Rajaji's pragmatic thinking rather than a revolutionary solution. A Tamil journalist of those days has written about it.

You are free to make your judgement whether the scheme was good or bad, while noticing that all the Rajaji critics refer not to his speeches in the parliament or his government orders, but other DK publications. We seem to know Rajaji's actions only through his enemies rather than original documents.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 12:33 AM  
dear anony 3,

point taken, if you look at my reply to anony 2 i have given the same link. i have read on both sides of the debate. i will try to rustle up more primary sources..
commented by Blogger Bala, 9:06 AM  

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