This refers to your story “Institute run by AICTE head’s relatives gets swift approvals”, Mint, 14 January. Your series of stories on the subject has been an eye opener. The mushrooming of AICTE-recognized institutes all over the country shows how these institutes get recognition despite pathetic infrastructure, teaching and placement standards. That is why there is huge a gulf between the IIMs and such institutes. Though they might be able to cater to the educational needs of a huge population of students, ultimately what these students get in return is nothing to write home about. There are only very few colleges which have anything substantial against their name. Most are doing nothing, but ruining many careers by making false promises. The Central government must look into this and act fast.
Eric Bellman’s article “Reversal of fortune isolates Brahmins”, Mint, 31 December, was eloquent.
The article dealt with the prominent past of Brahmins in the era before India became independent. However, it did not bring out the truth about the treatment given to non-Brahmins in that era.
As a Brahmin myself, I am no stranger to the travails of R. Parameswaran, the teacher quoted in the story. I had similar experiences during my early years of education.
I completed schooling with high marks. I then got admission to a college, thanks to the fact that the institution was pro-Brahmin at that time.
But I had to go through the mill in the subsequent years (this was 30 years ago) when Brahmins had to fight along with a few other castes for the 32% allocation available, the balance 68% being reserved for a host of castes and tribes (which kept increasing year after year).
It was a stage where even the use of a Brahmin surname was reason for ridicule. Life became difficult and that was the beginning of the struggle. To a large extent, those years taught me the lesson to earn my living by hard work and in the end it boosted my self- confidence.
Today, I live happily with my family with limited wants and a huge heart to serve the downtrodden. I am only a sample of many such successful TamBrahms in the West who learnt the realities of life the hard way, not necessarily because of financial background, but also because of the social challenges posed to them.
There ends my positive Brahminism.
I was also a mute spectator in my youth to the unfair treatment given to certain people in society—may be due to their colour or the menial job they did or even in the name of their caste.
It is not the Brahmins alone who looked down upon the poor and downtrodden. A whole lot of non-Brahmins also felt that God had created them to be a superior tribe.
Any demeaning of a fellow being in the name of religion is sacrilege—but how many of us get over this mediocre mentality and to a slightly elevated level of thinking?
We still call this the land of Gandhi, Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, who were in fact Brahmins but never ever treated a non-Bahmin with contempt. How many Brahmins who lived 50 years back in this part of the country could say that they had a meal with a Harijan or a low- caste person? What percentage of them ever talked to them on equal terms?
If successive Dravidian governments of Tamil Nadu have politicized the social fabric, it is only because of the hatred that the forefathers of current-day Brahmins had sown years back. As they say, it is a period of retribution—with an elevated level of abuse.
If a Brahmin can learn to cope with the times, I do not think he will ever become an outcaste—as long as he can raise his intellect above the average politician of today.
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