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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

Janeu, The Cat's Cradle

Brahmins are fashioning new political rhetoric from old stereotypes

Janeu, The Cat's Cradle
Illustration by Sorit
Janeu, The Cat's Cradle
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Let me begin this piece with a dramatic question: what are Brahmins doing in political parties? Let me make it even more dramatic: what are they doing in non-Brahmin, Dalit or Dalit-led parties? If these questions sound startling, it is because of a particular, idealised image of the Brahmin, who is supposed to keep out of temporal politics and devote himself to spiritual pursuits. The Brahmin's engagement in politics requires the dissolution of this supposedly sacred image. Therefore, the presence of Brahmins in politics could be taken to mean that the very definition of Brahmin has undergone a 'progressive' change. It is hence necessary to define afresh who these Brahmins are and to ask what is their location in the power hierarchy of these parties.

I would like to argue that it is the globalising Brahmins who do not find it fascinating to pursue their life plan within the spheres of electoral or party politics. In fact, globalising Brahmins are, in a sense, a ruling category. Then, it would make it all the more interesting to find out the 'calibre index' and not just the mechanical index of educational mobility of Brahmins who are either in political parties or in the state sector. To be fair to Brahmins, they are in parties for different reasons.

It is ironic to argue that there are Brahmins, and that too at the forefront, in most of the Left parties. Am I suggesting that it is the fabled Brahminical cunning that explains their prominence in these parties? It would be unfair to read it in such narrow terms. In fact, the project of modernity makes this prominence almost natural and hence beyond any objection. Thus, Brahmins would argue that it is their discursive power to produce convincing and conquering arguments and also the moral capacity to remain committed to the common cause that can explain this...
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