Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is difference between Caste and Class?

There have been tremendous interpretations and mis-interpretations over these two words , Jaati, and Varna by lots of scholars of Indian society on this matter.
A branch of people believes that Jaati is a profession-based categorization of hindu masses whereas a Varna is a color based categorization of hindu masses.! People , the scholars, have even cited refernces from many Vedic documents to make their assertion and to prove them. But what sounds surprising to me is point that none of the scholars, particularly the English scholars, have attempted to understand the contextual sense of what the authors of those vedic documents have attempted to mean when they speak something about these two systems. For example, one cited Vedic document speaks that the four Varna/Jaati, whatever one may treat that for the time being, were created from the limbs of Manu-- the Brahmins being those from his head and mouth, the Kashtriya being his Arms and hand, the Vaishya being his torso and Sudra being his Legs...and for normal functioning of the society all have to do their duty, like for the case of human body.
Is it not surprising that scholar fail to mention the metaphor involved in the description above?? Does it anywhere mention that Brahmins were created from the head of Manu, to be taken as a serious note answer for "what is the origin of Brahmins ?" , or for that matter , " what is the origin of Kashtirya ?".
Similarly the word varna which duly has one of its meaning as Color, as in "woh shaym varna ke the " (he was of dark complexion). From this, a derivative comes that Varna was about color discrimination, and this further supported by another Vedic Document which mentions that Brahmins were fair complexioned, the Kastriya were Red, Vaishya were yellow , and Sudra weer black !
Being a hindu, I have hardly felt the existence of color discrimination in our people, although a preference for a "gori bahu" (a fair complexioned bride) is seen. But even then, the above remains only a simili/metaphor in my opinion, while the vedic author of the above might have been attempting to theorise how the Varna difference might be showing up, (as in, a V-shape underwear may mean that the wearer is likely to be a sporty chap, or 'Lord Lochinvar' means he was a noble person, although he was a 'the highway man'), which the English Scholars of Indians Sociology have almost successfully managed to thrust in the minds of our, hindu youngsters, to the extent that color discrimination might begin now, even when nobody is red or yellow. While a 'dark Brahmin' may be actually falling out with his distractors about his Brahmin status, or otherway, the standards of 'Fair complexion' as assigned to the Brahmin club.!!
That will be the tragic irony of myths created by English Scholars while studying Indian System, which is prone to accepting the outside observer as a Judge impartial !!
The word Jaati I think remains that of the Vedic origion, but has to treated as something connoting a tribe. There are other usages, such as jan-jaati, janya, to mean the 'club of people' but , as i see them, referentially to mean the Tribe of people who share a common descent. It is in this regard that there are Vedic mentions of 'Panchjanya' to mean the five tribes of early vedic people. A janjaati is impling- 'those people who are commonly found in a given territorial area', a small town, of a forest region, etc. Thus a Jaati, spoken of as Caste in English ('casto' a portugese origin for the word caste), is suppose to mean a birth/hereditrical/genetic categorisation of people. A Varna on the other hand is likely to mean a work/profession based categorisation. The word, Varna, has an alternate meaning as "categorisation/ distinction/ or description'   itself,(a close derivative of Varga; Varnamala meant the alphabets in Sanskrit; the word "Varanan' means the act of describing something. ), apart from the previous meaning 'Color'.
Thus a person from any Jaati was accepted to come to any Varna depending upon how he fared-- behaved/conducted/practised his vocation.
The examples of Jaati would be-- Saini, Kurmi, yadav, raghuvansh, jaat, Puru, khatri, etc.
But for the Varna-- there are only four of them-- Brahmin, Kshtriya, Vaishya, Shudra.
It is here that one can note there is no Jaati as Brahmin. In fact, all the four Varna are Status only, which people from any of the several Jaati attain by virtue of their accomplishment. But the modern Indian scholars, and also the common people, interpret it as one and same, which for some natural psychological causes is not too far from reality for the reason that Children do acquire the traits if the parents better than anyone else, and hence become almost one and the same. The further affirming of uch mistaken belief of seeing them as one is attibutable to the treatment and recognisation to the system in this manner by the past Invading rulers of India, the Moghuls and the British.
Another cause of confusion of Jaati and Varna to come around in Indian society was the fact that the descendants of the Varna- Brahmin, the people who attained a high state of wisdom, the Brahmmah , and thus provided discretion on Good and Evil, and also gave Prudence thoughts to the people at large from rest of the Varna, the descedants attempted to retain their high social status, by releasing it from the clutches of continuous attainment of wisdom, the Brahmmah, by putting Brahmin also as a Jaati. This was one of the first cases of moral corruption by high wisdom people. One can very plainly note that among all Jaati and Varna as known to Indian system today, only the Brahmin are both (!!) a Jaati and also a Varna. The causes of this can be plainly understood, and more when one tries to explore the origin of Brahmin as Jaati in the Vedic Literature.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Is Brahmin truely a Caste???

(an attempt on preventing the modern genetic exploration of  intellectualism of Indians as a contribution of Brahmins and other 'high caste' people only.)

Brahmins are the self proclaimed upper caste in India. Vedas were crude documents of aryans which later were refined under the influence of indegenous Yogic and Tantrik civilization of India.

The Brahmins , in another opposing view, are only a "Class"("Varna", profession-based categorisation) and not a Caste("Jaati", a descendance-based categorisation) of People. This is because, a Caste, which can be interpreted nearly same as what is called a "tribe' in the west, the brahmins have no specifically described physical features or a geographical region to describe their origin.
In the Vedic literature also, there are hardly any specifc story to showcase the origin of this 'caste' of people, unlike the case of oher 'caste'.. Infact the stories which exist also reveal how people from different 'Caste' moved into the 'Class' of being callled Brahmins, and this by virtue of hard 'tapasya'(yoga/learning, as the case may be) they performed.
The word Brahmin connotes thing which is "Brahma' who is a hindu god who created this universe. The knowledge which was held in creation of the universe is called "Brahmmah". And the custodian of this knowledge is called a "Brahmin".

Thus a Brahmin is the holder of knowledge --the knowledge which relates to origin of universe, or call it, the theory of interconnection of actions and events in this Universe. One can notice, how the Concept of 'Brahmmah', further connotes about the ability of it's keeper, the Brahmin, in speaking about a future event. That is a Brahmin, a person able to speak about Future.
In course of time, the ability got further mystified into a new subject called "Astrology", which was about using the Star-gazing to do future-telling. This was quite an aberration and a kind of 'corruption' of the true knowledge --an art and a science- which was meant to provide a person his position while at sea-- called Nautical Astronomy. As this science of Nautical Astronomy also provided a sea-farer an ability to predict his position and to decide about his future course ( of his ship) at sea, It appears that some 'new" (read Weird) theories came about to 'corrupt' this science into an art of future-telling by way of Astrology!

The one who acquired this sophisticated knowledge of future-telling was called a Brahmin. In its original sense, the knowledge was resting on the theories of Action, the Karma, and thereby evolution of Ethics from it, the Dharma. In modern equivalent terms , this was like a study in Psychology and Social Psychology. Notice that with the help of knowledge of Psychology, a psychologist attempts to 'predict' the consequences of conduct of a person. That is how the actual knowledge of the Brahmmah  must have worked.
In the Vedic Religion, there is no definite distinction between the Good and the Evil. It is in fact one such thing which makes the Vedic religion strikingly different from the Abrahmic faiths.  Therefore the Vedic Faith is , in the study of religions across the world, also referred to as Dharmic Faith.
In Dharmic faiths, the Good and Evil are decided based upon Karma. For example, Ravan despite his huge knowledge and respect and devotion to Lord Shiva, stole away (kidnapped) Ram's wife Sita. Now, it is among these vacillating values and action that the legend hails the killing of Ravan by Ram, but also mentioning at one point that after arrowing down Ravan, Ram ordered his brother Lakshman to sit by Ravan to respectfully beg the latter to impart knowledge of "raaj paath" (Political Science and Public Administration) from the learned Scholar. (Refer J.L. Nehru's special mention of this episode in his book 'The Discovery of India')
THAT IS the reverence and worth of a Brahmin, which Ravan was.
Actions decide one's position as Good(meaning ,a publicly acceptable thing ) and Bad (meaning, a publicly reject-able thing).
Owing to this ever-shifting nature of Good and Evil, and a complex means to conclude the Good and Evil, that is, the understanding of Dharma, the Vedic people had tremendous dependence on the special acquirer of the knowledge, who were the Brahmins. NOTE AGAIN THAT SUCH ACQUIRERS OF KNOWLEDGE COULD COME FROM ANY CASTE OF PEOPLE.
Therefore, the whole idea of Brahmin being a 'Caste' and since the wisdom being predominantly of Genetic origin, thus apportioned to this club of people , is a kind of myth. The likely origin of the myth may be the fact that since the concept of Brahmm is very difficult to be understood, the Muslim rulers of India and later the British rulers, gave the Brahmin the treatment of a Caste. That was the mistake. Again, take note that there is no mention of Brahmin as a Caste in the Panchjanya of Vedas, the first five 'tribes' of people on earth, as per Vedas.

In the original sense,The Brahmin 'class' of people , thus, came with its own sets of duty towards common people . That was about imparting knowledge, helping the common people to distinct between Good and Evil, to help him with his day-today conduct, a good practice personal behaviour, to inform common man about future of his personal conduct, etc. The brahmins were thus respected by those same common people, for their altruism, austere conduct,  renunciation, high knowledge.
Trouble seems to start at a later stage when the Brahmin Class of people also started to see themselves as a caste.  There seems to be a rise of fascism (belief of seeing oneself better and higher than the rest) in them therefore, which is quite an antithesis of there reverend self in eyes of the common people.It is this self-proclaimed conduct of upper caste which reveals out the corruption of Brahmin from a mere class of people to a caste of people.

Another attempt by some common speaker on this matter , who has also pointedly expressed the problem of people, particularly the English Language writers, about the Jaati and Varna system of Indian society is available here. The author, however, as I disagree with him, treats a Varna to mean Color.! Like Indian society also believed in color discrimination., while the Gods were generally seen as dark -"Shyam".

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Corruption through our Culture (based on Geert Hofstede Analysis)

About: Geert Hofstede (click here)

an influential Dutch social psychologist and anthropologist.[1] He is a well-known pioneer in his research of cross-cultural groups and organizations. He has played a major role in developing a systematic framework for assessing and differentiating national cultures and organizational cultures. His most notable work has been in developing the cultural dimensions theory. His studies demonstrated that there are national and regional cultural groups that influence behavior of societies and organizations, and that these are persistent over time. He is also an author of several books including Culture's Consequences[2] and Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, co-authored with his son Gert Jan Hofstede.

His analysis about India (click here)
India has Power- Distance (PDI) as the highest Hofstede Dimension for the culture, with a ranking of 77 compared to a world average of 56.5

India's Long Term Orientation (LTO) Dimension rank is 61, with the world average at 48. A higher LTO score can be indicative of a culture that is perseverant and parsimonious

India has Masculinity as the third highest ranking Hofstede Dimension at 56, with the world average just slightly lower at 51. The higher the country ranks in this Dimension, the greater the gap between values of men and women.

India's lowest ranking Dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) at 40, compared to the world average of 65. On the lower end of this ranking, the culture may be more open to unstructured ideas and situations. The population may have fewer rules and regulations with which to attempt control of every unknown and unexpected event or situation, as is the case in high Uncertainty Avoidance countries.

Individualism (IDV) . ( India rates low on IDV.) on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are inte-grated into groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. The word 'collectivism' in this sense has no political meaning: it refers to the group, not to the state. Again, the issue addressed by this dimension is an extremely fundamental one, regarding all societies in the world.

(the following is my opinion based on the above study)

Corruption through our Culture
based on Geert Hofstede Analysis

1. INDIA-- high power-distance society (ranking of 77, compared with world average of 56.5)
• People expect some authority from the leaders  Condition (1)
• Authority and power are understood to be one and the same.
• People expect leader to exercise control.
• People like to crib about in-efficiency of the leader.
• Elections are a farce means to appoint a leader.
• Once the leader is appointed, the next step is----> back to condition 1
• Group or Collective approach are preferred over individual approach.

1.a. Leaders expect to enjoy power to ensure and confirm their authority as leaders. People want it to be so.
• If the leader does not exercise power, or refrains from power-wielding, he is treated as 'in-efficient'.
• A leader confirms of his power by availing himself of special facilities, such as : a red beacon car, special treatment in train/ plane or other such public places. He can also choose to grant this special privilege to any person of his choice.
• The most preferred type of power is Coercive Power, (which is physical force/ or bullying/ pressuring).
• Next in choice of power is 'rewarding power', which means Incentives-- maybe also financial ones.
• Thereafter , referent power: which is putting someone as 'liked' and someone as 'disliked'.
Legitimate power comes after that, which is about choice of law-originated force.
Expert power is last and least preferred. This is also called Knowledge power.
• The reason for it being least preferred is that Specialist can always be overthrown by another counter-specialist.
• It is here that to make a choice between two differing types of specialist ,we make use of above three powers.
• Leaders, in themselves being averse to knowledge, which is often school learning kind, prefer the other kinds of power.

2. Power and Authority in Philosophy/ Political Science/ and Public Administration are two different things, but culturally seen as one.
• There can be person with Coercive power, but with no authority, e.g Someone with good muscle strength, or lots of henchmen
• And there can be someone with good legal authority but no power. E.g. an honest kind of police man, but weak- physically and support –wise.

3. India is a cultural potpourri.
• What this means is that we are a mix of two big religious ideologies-- hindus and muslims.
• And we are the one nation with hindu majority.
Islamic world, e.g Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, are High power distance societies.
• That means the leader is much revered and above the common man.
Islamic world, is also high uncertainty-avoidance nation.
• That means there are more stringent regulations and there strict compliance.
Islamic countries like Indonesia and Pakistan can be clubbed up with India-type countries only, because they are High power-distance, but low-uncertainty avoidance nations.
• Politically also, these countries align closer to India, by virtue of being ‘Republican-democracies’, and not Monarchies
Hindus may or may not be high-power distance, as Hindu gods have less chosen power, e.g. Ram, Krishna, Shankar.
• But Hindu society is high-power distance through its caste system. Shudra was not allowed to touch or sit among Brahmins and Kshatriyas.

4. India is a low uncertainty-avoidance nation (Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) at 40, compared to the world average of 65).
• That means our people are fate/destiny believers.
• therefore, regulations are not so strictly complied with. We accept failures to comply with law acceptable due to Destiny-ingredient in it. This acceptance is our social norm.
• Another parameter is Masculinity. What this means is that the roles/conduct/dressing/etiquettes for the two genders are Vastly different in Indian culture. Male is seen as more powerful. More corruption can be associated with male person than with females.

5. As a rule , More Regulations implies More Corruption.

6. European nations, which are rated lowest on corruption, are mostly Low power-distance, high-uncertainty avoidance nations.
• What this means is that there the leaders are not much distanced from the followers and , ideally there should be more rules.
• But since 'More rules implies more corruption', they reduce regulations by choosing Expert Power above rest of the kinds of power described above.
• Experts and the value system cause rules to encompass more varieties in it, instead of regulation-controlling something.

7. The other kind of model also prevailing is , High-Power distance, medium uncertainty-avoidance countries, e.g. China , Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, etc.
• They are not less in corruption, unless of course, the small size helps them keep in check.
• Singapore and Japan are high-uncertainty avoidance country.
• China and Taiwan are low-uncertainty avoidance country. Every year , many people die for reasons such as mine-collapse, earthquakes, floods, etc.
• The other most important factor which plays up bigger is Long-Term Orientation-- which is loyalty with a group or organisation.
• In all these countries, dependence on Expert Power is definitely better than ours and therefore corruption is also lower than ours.

How much can the corruption pervade in a society?
• Corruption is an act of human choice, and not a god's cruelty upon human beings.
Nobody would want to corruption to an extent when the essential commodities, e.g. Medicines become counterfeit for live-saving job.
• Neither would people want corruption to an extent that if an accident happen, the mechanism to provide relief and support has failed away.
• this is a very clear hint having corruption-free institutions such as Police ,Medical services, teaching places for colleges and schools; and Armed forces.
But this does not mean that people do not choose corruption at all.
Corruption has advantages, which makes it choicely. Examples are:
• When there is lack of knowledge of law or technical matters, corruption can help cross the barriers.
• Corruption helps in overcoming formation of a bigger situation by fast and quick disposal on the spot. Reward power-- for those who want to buy services/ conveniences.
• Corruption helps in financial gains, when the salary is low to help self and family
• Corruption is not identifiable from application of Reward Power, or Coercive Power or Referrent Power-- the most preferred types of power in Indian Society.
• Leaders want this power for confirmation of themselves as leaders.
• the followers help dispense the power for sake of loyalty/ protection.

Then , who wants an Anti-corruption Institution??
• The demand for anti-corruption institution is for these reasons:
• People want Anti-corruption institution for the purpose of creating another coercive power organization, to contest against one coercive power.
• People want to put the frustration and envy-due-to-loss into action against the winning group.
• People do not want Anti-corruption for sincere reasons such as cleansing of society, because they still depend on stolen electric power, pirated CDs, Cheap cars and bikes, a tripling ride, and so on and so forth.
Some demand for a sincere anti-corruption can be coming only from Academicians and Philosophers.
• Reason being that, although with Corruption also the society can be kept running, unless of course the three red reasons above.
• The reason for sincere choice from Academicians -- Economist, socialist,- is based on the study that:
• Corruption SLOWS DOWN economic growth and WEAKENS the government institutions.
• Note that, study report do NOT say Corruption doing complete stopping or uprooting of government institutions,
• And the reasons for that is the three red reasons above, again.
• The clash between Corruption and Anti-corruption, therefore, in its practical view is a clash of Power 'A' versus Power 'B'.
• To make a culture a low-power distance society is more herculean task.

Then, What are the working limitations of Policy Makers on Anti-Corruption ?
• Changing the attitude of people is very difficult, that is, making us low-power distance is not easy.
• Policy-makers should begin from themselves, by training people to harness the Expert Power.
• This will involve sending the government policy related matter for a referral to Colleges and Universities.
• Other government departments should follow suit.
• Since, corruption is not easy to be identifiable from Referral Power , Coercive Power, and Reward power.
a training module be incorporated for imparting case-by-case knowledge on these events,
• Such a professional course should be made mandatory for all Govt people right from lowest grade of people, and should have limited validity for a renewed talk.
• It be honored that people are busy earning bread and butter, both with corruption and without corruption.
• Corruption agenda should less, if not least, disturb their bread and butter.
• The socio-economic benefit angle of Corruption means a right-round chain of changing what first??
• Corruption elimination or improvement in facilities and salaries??
• Government should choose improvement in facilities and salaries--simple that Charity begins at home.