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EVM and Indian election process

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Electronic Voting Mmachine (EVM) or its calculation process is tamperable, that is well proven. But can we consider the election process using EVM as tamperable in the same way. I have conducted 4 elections in Kerala using EVMs. Following are my observations.

Let us consider the premise that by pressing the 5 buttons in a particular sequence votes will be transferred to one particular candidate. For this 5 eligible voters in a booth are required and they need to do this with surgical perfection and coordination. Is it really possible?

Those who have conducted / voted elections in India will know that there will be invariably 2 queues outside the polling booth, one for females and another one for males. And voters are allowed to enter the polling booth one each from these two queues, yet we can argue that interested parties can place themselves in both queues and perform the vote transfer process. There is one serious hitch in this theory. Physically handicapped, invalids, and several other categories of voters can enter the booth directly without waiting in the queue, so if one such voter comes in between this planned operation vote transfer will fail. And no one can predict the arrival of such voter(s). Which means the interested parties may have to find another 5 voters and start their operation once again. We can still argue that in this manner many times can they keep on trying till evening 5pm which is end of polling period. But out of the 800 to 1000 voters in one booth, how many eligible voters one party will have to perform this operation? And will all of them be waiting idle till afternoon for the opposite parties voters to cast their votes?

And there is no credible explanation about why is it that it took almost 15-20 years after the introduction of the EVMs for such a matter to come into the open?

Let us not forget how the so called “free and fair” elections using ballots were conducted in rural places in north India (including booth capturing). That was the precise reason why Election Commission of India came up with EVMs. Now that most of such instances terrible polling violence have vanished, we are now coming up with arguments that since the machines can be tampered, the process should be done away with.

Instead we should move ahead with R&D and go to the next stage of online voting and so on.

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A game changer and challenge for the Tamil Brahmin community leadership in Kerala

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The news about two young souls coming togerther is that of celebration. But for the Tamil Brahmin community and the leaders and elders there are several points to learn from this. 1. Will the community that is already dwindling in numbers and about to fade away should take such developments seriously, or ignore it? 2. Has the time arrived to seriously consider and talk to the female youth of our community to find out what prompts them to choose a life partner from other community? Has the time arrived to seriously talk and engage the male youth of our community to find out what skills and qualities they need to develop to be considered as able “grooms”? Has the time come to talk to the elders in community and help them to reduce the level of orthodoxy and conservativeness so that the youth feel at ease? Has the time come to take a serious relook on way of life, and find out whether any correction is needed?

Mere talk will not be sufficient. It is imperative that the community leaders will have to stand on the ground and acept the reality. Its high time the leadership and elders engage the Tamil Brahmin youth and include them and their views and become progressive. Culture and values are important, but that should not be at the cost of false morality and misconseptions. If we look back we will find that there has been several ocasions in the past when we have shed bad practices and moved forward 1. Accepting modern education, 2. stopping the practice of child marriage, 3. more humane consideration to widows, 4. equal opportunities to women [at least in education] etc. has been several such steps towards progress.

The time has come where all of us will have to open up and be more broad minded about the views of our youth in choosing life partners. Such inclusiveness is required and has become essential for the survival of the Tamil Brahmin community. In history we see that it the decisions of the big and powerful that has always become game changer. Will this recent wedding announcement be one such positive development for the Tamil Brahmin community?

URL Courtesy – Business Standard.

Paper pen

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This is age of zero waste management. Got an opportunity to visit and observe the wonderful activities of “Thanal”, an NGO based in Thiruvananthapuram. You will get more details about Zero Waste Movement here http://thanal.co.in/project/view/zero-waste-centre-47811371

Inspired by that tried my hand at making pen with paper. I just used the following 1. one refill, 2. One A5 sheet paper, and 3. Fevicol

pen1

pen2

SREE VAIKUNTESWARA SANTHANAGOPALA MOORTHY TEMPLE

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Sree Vaikunteswara Santhana Gopalamurthy Temple is a 200-year-old Hindu temple at Puzhavath, near Changanassery in Kottayam District.

More details:
1. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/the-temple-that-saved-a-kingdom/article4424132.ece
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puzhavathu

How to reach:

From Perunna Junction travel towards Kottayam side and take the first left turn near the NSS Hospital. Travel through the narrow road for about 1km to reach the temple. It is situated in a picturesque residential residential locality of Puzhavath.

Contact address:

Sree Vaikunteswara Santhana Gopalamurthy Temple,
Puzhavath, Changnassery – 686101. Kerala
Phone: 0481 2428400

Temple Temple contact

 

Social Media and Library Marketing: Experiences of KN Raj Library

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Sriram V. (2016, April) Social Media and Library Marketing: Experiences of KN Raj Library. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology (DJLIT), 36 (3): 153-157 (Open access)
http://publications.drdo.gov.in/ojs/index.php/djlit/article/view/9810/5603

Marketing is essential for attracting potential customers and retaining existing customers. Libraries and information centres are also increasingly entering into the foray of library marketing and public relations using all available means. The various Web 2.0 and social media tools are very convenient for the libraries to market their resources and services. The paper explains various popular social media tools and argues for their extensive use in libraries for marketing and publicity. How these social media tools can be effectively put to use in libraries for marketing its resources and services are explained by illustrating services in the KN Raj Library of Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.

Courtesy – DESIDOC

Jubilant Review – Discussion on the structure of KBS

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Jubilant Review – Discussion on the structure of KBS by V. Sriram, Teertham (pp. 40–46). Alappuzha: Kerala Brahmana Sabha Vanitha Vibagom (2013-15), Sept 2015.

1. Introduction

The Vanitha Vibagam of Kerala Brahmana Sabha (KBSVV) is completing its 25th year of formation. At this time of jubilation it is only natural and logical that the organization and community as a whole take a relook at itself, the parent body Kerala Brahmana Sabha, and other subsidiary bodies such as KBS Yuvajana Vibagam. It would be worthwhile exercise to review the organization, objectives, activities, structure, plan and implementation methods. This will help in identifying the strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) and will be helpful in solving the deficiencies. This exercise will also be useful and essential in finding a proper and systematic way forward for the generations to come.

This discussion will try to attempt a systematic assessment of the organization structure of the KBS and its allied organizations and will suggest some alternatives.

2. Organization Structure of KBS

2.1 KBS: Kerala Brahmana Sabha was established in 1970 under the Travancore – Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act of 1955. KBS is the apex organization of Tamil Brahmins in Kerala.

2.2 KBSVV: The Kerala Brahmana Sabha Vanitha Vibagam was formally established in 1990 through a two-page guideline adopted by the KBS. It started functioning from the same year. During 2006-07 its activities were further streamlined. KBSVV is actively involved in organizing the Tamil Brahmin women of Kerala through its various activities and programmes.

2.3 Yuva: The Kerala Brahmana Sabha Yuvajana Vibagam was formally established in 2010. It acts as a platform of the Tamil Brahmin youth to come together and to work for the development of the community.

2.4 Three – tier organization structure: KBS functions in a three tier system. At the grass – root level there is ‘Upasabha’. All Tamil Brahmins living in the geographic locality of an Upasabha become its members. Elected district representatives of Upasabha constitute District Committee at the district level. The apex body of the organization is KBS State Committee. The districts are grouped under three zones for more co-ordination of activities. The term of office-bearers is for two-years.

3. Limitations

While this three – tier structure seems to be well organized and functioning, actually its efficiency is not up to the mark.

3.1 Upasabha Members: There is no control or consistency in the optimum number of members in an Upasabha. This leads to uneven workload of the office bearers. Across Kerala there are several Upasabhas that have more than 300 members, and there are some having as few as 10 members. In larger Upasabhas, active community members are dissatisfied with the functioning of KBS, because they feel that office – bearers are not able to reach them. This indirectly leads to developing a bad image about KBS among the community.

3.2 Division: The Tamil Brahmin community is unevenly distributed across Kerala. Trying to organize them on the revenue district basis is not at all scientific. The Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad Districts have the maximum number of Tamil Brahmin presence. Pathanamthitta and Wayanad have the least number of Tamil Brahmins. However, according to KBS organization structure, all these districts have KBS District Committees and have same responsibilities and tasks. One can only imagine the plight of Secretary of KBS, Thiruvananthapuram in comparison to the work [free] load of Secretary of KBS, Pathanamthitta. This is only one illustration.

3.3 Communication hiccups: Any decision / programmes / events decided by KBS takes an awful lot of time to travel through the unsystematic and imbalanced system and either gets lost in between or reaches late to the concerned recipient. Nett result is wastage of time and resources and skewed decision making.

3.4 The organization still works in the old face-to-face meeting style. The concepts of tele conferencing / video conferencing using Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and so on are still not practiced. This leads to a large amount to time lag for policy making and implementation.

3.5 Lack of IT Literacy and interest. The minutes and all communications are still prepared and sent as printed items through postal services. Hosting the minutes, and other documents in web-site, sending as email attachment, and so on is not practiced. Notifications by WhatsApp, SMS, Twitter and other services are also not practiced. Broadcasting / notifying the key decisions of the meetings for public information is unheard of. This leads to loss of precious time and money. One would hang the head in shame when other community members point out that such a premier organization does not even have a permanent professional web-site on its own, or even a wikipedia page.

3.6 Mediocrity: The present organization setup never inspires nor encourages anyone [not even the office – bearers] to function efficiently. The workload is so much that even an ardent activist would; over a short period of time; tire down and will eventually be performing very badly.

4. Types of Organisation Structures

An organizational structure defines how activities such as task allocation, coordination and supervision are directed towards the achievement of organizational aims. It can also be considered as the viewing glass or perspective through which individuals see their organization and its environment. Any operating organization should have its own structure in order to operate efficiently. For an organization, the organizational structure is a hierarchy of people and its functions. The organizational structure tells you the character of an organization and the values it believes in. Depending on the organizational values and the nature of the activity, organizations tend to adopt a structure suitable for its management purposes. There are several types of organization structures. The origins of these models are in the areas of industrial and business management. The organizational structures can be used by any organization if the structure fits into the nature and the maturity of the organization. Community organisations and people active in community work can also adopt these structures for systematic, smooth and efficient management of the organisations. Before venturing into a review about reorganizing the structure of KBS, it will be good to try and understand the various types of structures prevalent. Organizations follow a combination of the following organizational structures:

4.1 Pre-bureaucratic structures: Pre-bureaucratic (entrepreneurial) structures lack standardization of tasks. This structure is most common in smaller organizations and is best used to solve simple tasks. The structure is totally centralized. The strategic leader makes all key decisions and most communication is done by one on one conversations.

4.2 Bureaucratic structures: Bureaucratic Structures have many levels of management ranging from senior personnel to regional personnel, all the way to local unit personnel. Since there are many levels, decision-making authority has to pass through more layers than flatter organizations.

4.3 Post-bureaucratic: In the generic sense the term post bureaucratic is often used to describe a range of ideas developed since the 1980s that specifically contrast themselves with Weber’s ideal type bureaucracy. This may include total quality management, culture management and matrix management, amongst others.

4.4 Functional structure: A functional organizational structure is a structure that consists of activities such as coordination, supervision and task allocation. The organizational structure determines how the organization performs or operates.

4.5 Divisional structure: The divisional structure consists of self-contained divisions. A division is a collection of functions which produce a product.

4.6 Matrix structure: The matrix structure groups people by both function and product. This structure can combine the best of both separate structures. A matrix organization frequently uses teams of persons to accomplish work, in order to take advantage of the strengths, as well as make up for the weaknesses, of functional and decentralized forms.

4.7 Team: One of the newest organizational structures developed in the 20th century is team and the related concept of team development or team building.

4.8 Network: Another modern structure is network. The new network organizations contract out most of the functions that can be done better or more cheaply. In essence, personnel in network structures spend most of their time coordinating and controlling external relations, usually by electronic means.

5. Suggestions to reorganize the Organization Structure

Let us try to examine how the present organization structure can be meaningfully reorganized into a more streamlined and effective system for the development of the community.

5.1 Upasabha: The grass-root unit ‘Upasabha’ should be reorganized using a parameter of ‘optimum size’ model. The maximum number and minimum number of households / members for the Upasabha should be decided using a stable parameter. Whenever the number of members / households exceeds that figure, that upasabha should be bifurcated into two Upasabhas, based on a geographical continuum.

5.2 Similarly smaller Upasabhas not having the minimum number of members should be unified, based on a reasonable geographical continuum.

5.3 The zones should become middle tier instead of districts. The maximum and minimum number of Upasabhas for each zones should be fixed using the ‘optimum size’ model. Whenever the number of Upasabhas exceeds that figure, that zone should be bifurcated to two zones, based on a geographical continuum.

5.4 State: At the state level the present structure of state executive committee can continue, but it should be more lean, quick and proactive.

5.5 Special purpose teams: There should be specialized teams at Upasabha, Zone, and State level to handle the matters such as communication (including publications and web-site management), education, health, employment / self development. Organization should consider establishing permanent Trust / Society for such activity so that more seriousness will be attributed for the same.

5.5.1 Educational Trust: An educational institution such as school, college, professional institution, etc. have always remained as dream to all of us. It is high time KBS should give serious consideration to establish an Educational Trust. Under the aegis of this Trust, we can start different educational institutions. Trust will give more permanency to KBS educational and employment policy. The day to day management of the institutions will be easier when done through the Trust.

5.5.2 Communications: KBS should have a strong team for managing communications.

5.5.2.1 Several publications are brought out at different levels in KBS, this includes calendars, directories, annuals, quarterlies and monthly magazines. There should be an apex body to co-ordinate this activity. Moreover, KBS should consider providing the soft copy version of these publications on the Internet for the increased use and convenience of community members living in other states and abroad. Software such as Open Journals System (OJS) can be used for this.

5.5.2.2 There should be a dedicated team to manage the social media activities of the KBS. The lukewarm response that we get for most of the events is due to poor handling of media including social media. Every programme / event / activity conducted by KBS should be notified through social media. Its video, photo images, reports etc. also should be made available online for better viewership. In this context it is sad to observe that there is not even a permanent professional web-site for Kerala Brahmana Sabha and Vanitha Vibagam. Yuvajana Vibagam; however; has made great progress in managing the web and social media efficiently.

5.5.3 Self-help groups: The programmes / schemes implemented by Governments can be better utilized through forming self-help groups. This will provide more employment opportunities and stable income for the members. Vanitha Vibagam should give serious consideration in this matter.

5.5.4 Community volunteers: It is observed that there are several members / households from our community who need special care and attention. This includes aged people living alone, invalid / differently abled persons and so on. KBS at present does not have any mechanism / programme to take proactive action for the welfare for such members of our community. It is sad that in most cases KBS does not know about the existence of such persons until the last moment. These margninlased people should be given utmost priority by KBS henceforth. In every Upasabha, organizers should engage trained volunteers. These volunteers should visit such households periodically and provide special care and attention. A token honorarium should be paid to the volunteers for such activity. Organization will become meaningful only when it positively and proactively engages the community.

5.6 Community survey: KBS should conduct a comprehensive socio – economic – health – demographic survey of our community spread across Kerala. The data emanating out of this survey should be used to formulate the policies of KBS. This community survey should be repeated once in 5 years, to understand the growth and development of the community.

5.7 Similar organizations such as Yogakshema Sabha, Nair Service Society, SNDP etc. are organized in a better way, thereby streamlining the system for better management of the organization. KBS should learn from these models and try to create one for ourselves that would serve our purposes better.

6. Advantages

KBS would benefit in many ways by venturing on a complete organizational restructuring:

6.1 Easier Management: With a proper line of management defined and with number of people / households that every Upasabha is to handle is defined, it becomes easier for KBS to manage its activities very efficiently.

6.2 Communication: With a properly laid out structure the flow of communication from top – bottom and vice versa becomes very easy and smooth. The members will be completely informed about KBS activities and KBS will be more informed about its members.

6.3 Meaningful engagement: With more streamlined organizational setup, and with more comprehensive information about the requirements and needs of community members, KBS will be in a better position to engage with the members in a more meaningful and proactive manner.

6.4 Unity: With more proactive support from KBS, the community members will feel more affinity towards the organization and satisfaction towards its activities. There will be a gradual increase in their participation and involvement in the activities of KBS.

6.5 Welfare Schemes and Activities: With a more informed and engaging organization structure, it becomes easy for the KBS to inform the members about Welfare schemes of Governments and make them available to the deserving community members by helping them to enroll for the same.

6.6 Image: Once a streamlined organization starts functioning in an exemplary way, the image of the KBS will increase and world will start listening to us.

7. Conclusion

In history, 25 years is not a very long period of time. But for a community welfare organization like KBS Vanitha Vibagam; involved in the task of supporting and reaching out to every Tamil Brahmin woman in Kerala; to remain active continuou

sly for 25 years is no mean achievement. The significance of this success increases by the fact that this was achieved; may be in varying degrees; with scant resources and meager manpower that was always purely voluntary. This journey that the organization undertook in the last quarter of a century has been an arduous one. The entire credit for this goes to all the office – bearers and members of the committees at all levels who for all these years persistently upheld the cause of Tamil Brahmin women. And indirectly all these years the organization has been; through the women; reaching out and supporting the Tamil Brahmin families in the state of Kerala. A lot has been done and is being done. And even more will have to be done in future. May this organization rise from success to success and reach the pinnacle of glory leading and guiding the Tamil Brahmin community’s development and welfare.

Bibliography

Fuller, C. J., & Narasimhan, H. (2015). Tamil Brahmans: The Making of a Middle – Class Caste. New Delhi: Social Science Press.

Narain, P. P. (2010, June 16). Caste-based organizations go global. Livemint. Retrieved from http://www.livemint.com/Politics/O2hcDymy0ShHPx03MSxMmI/Castebased-organizations-go-global.html

Organizational structure. (2015, September 6). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Organizational_ structure&oldid=679754958

Social media. (2015, August 23). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Social_media&oldid=677484899

Sriram, V. (2015). Tamil Brahmins are (un)likely to fade away [Book Review]. Vipradwani: A Multi Cultural Monthly of Kerala Brahmana Sabha, 3(13), 48–51.

Yuva KBS. (n.d.). Retrieved September 7, 2015, from http://www.yuvakbs.com/ aboutus.aspx

Download the full text here https://vsrirams.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/jubiliantreview2015teertham.pdf

Courtesy – KBSVV (2013-15)

Tamil Brahmins are (un)likely to fade away

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Tamil Brahmins are (un)likely to fade away [BOOK REVIEW: Tamil Brahmans: The Making of a Middle – Class Caste by C. J. Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014, pp278, $30], by V. Sriram, Vipradwani: A Multi Cultural Monthly of Kerala Brahmana Sabha, Thiruvananthapuram, Vol – 3, Issue – 13, August 2015

Tamil Brahmin community are privileged people. That is how members of other communities perceive them. However; the truth is that Tamil Brahmins value education and righteousness and strive to make a living accordingly. During the colonial era; when merit reigned, Tamil Brahmins prospered a lot by moving from villages to cities and towns. This movement from an agrarian community to a middle class modern community has been an arduous one. Post independence, when merit was pushed aside and reservation came to the front, Tamil Brahmins took a heavy beating. But Tamil Brahmins again evolved from a bureaucracy based middle class to a migrant techno-industry based modern middle class. In this journey; according to some elders; Tamil Brahmins lost their identity as scholars and keepers of traditional knowledge and wisdom. Even now, we see that the members of the community still uphold the values of truth and honesty. The importance given to proper and best education is still followed. And the importance of living in peace is also still believed to be essential. The motto followed so far by the Tamil Brahmins has been “Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu”, and will continue to be so. But will the community survive in this fast developing world? In this context is it interesting to read a latest publication that throws light into the colourful but difficult journey of Tamil Brahmins from what they were 100 years ago to what they are today.

The book “Tamil Brahmans: The Making of a Middle-Class Caste” is based on an ethnographic study which looks in depth into how Tamil Brahmins became representatives of modernity. It is written in a lucid descriptive style by C. J. Fuller, Emeritus Professor at London School of Economics, and Haripriya Narasimhan, Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad. It is the result of about 8 years of ethnographic research and follow-up study conducted by the authors in various locations in Tamil Nadu and other places in India and abroad. It is divided into seven chapters dealing with different aspects, a detailed introduction and a very useful appendix on demographics.

The book opens with an excellent introduction to Tamil Brahmins. The Tamil Brahmins’ evolution as and integration into Indian middle class is vividly portrayed with the help of several real instances. Further, the impact of non-Brahmin Movement in Tamil Nadu and the sociology of class is discussed in detail. According to the authors, the ethnographic research was carried out between 2003 and 2008 and its follow up was conducted up to 2010. The research data, absence of statistics and the reasons for the same are also explained in detail.  The methodology adopted for research, writing and collaboration between the authors and other associates are also presented. The advantages, disadvantages and limitations of the study are also explained with clarity. The introduction closes with a section explaining the outline of the book. The introduction is comprehensive in itself stating the origin, evolution, situations, of the Tamil Brahmins. For those who do not have time to read the entire book, reading the introduction will give a quick preview about the contents of the book.

First chapter is about the life in the villages. The Brahmin residential areas (Agraharams), the village structure, hierarchy of caste and class system followed, the characteristics of dwellings of castes in villages and so on are explained. Further, the social separation observed by Brahmins, their changing attitude towards land (from nineteenth century), and the reasons for the same, the patterns of urban migration among Brahmins are also discussed in detail. This chapter closes with a subsection on caste status, ritual purity and moral conduct followed in urban areas. Thus in the first chapter, we see the historical roots and the changes to modern livelihood along with the reasons that lead Tamil Brahmins to follow the same.

Education and employment are the most crucial factors in this study. These aspects in the Colonial context are discussed in Chapter 2, and post independence context in Chapter 3.

In Chapter 2, we can see how after the initial state of urban migration Tamil Brahmins consolidate and improve on their predecessors education and employment status. The Tamil Brahmin community gave high importance to good education. The statistics provided for that of high schools, colleges (including professional colleges), and universities, reveal the position of community and the importance that education received. Consequently, in whatever occupations, a reasonable standard of school / college education was necessary and the operational language was English, the members of the community began to make their presence felt. They have been able to occupy and secure white collar as well as high ranking positions in organizations and governments. This overwhelming lead in modern education and urban employment established by Tamil Brahmins by the end of nineteenth century was a highly significant development.  This chapter also includes very short biographical sketches of three prominent personalities, viz. The self taught mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, and the noted physicists and Nobel Laureates Sir C. V. Raman and his nephew Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar. It also discusses three family trees. The first one is that of Sir Seshia Sastri (1828-1903), who served as dewan of Travancore, and regent & dewan of Pudukottai. The second family tree discussed is that of Sir V. T. Krishnamachari (1881-1964), who served as dewan of Baroda and Jaipur, the then delegate to League of Nations and United Nations, and lastly as Deputy Chairman on Planning Commission. Third family tree is that of the famous legal luminary Sir V. Bhashyam Iyengar (1844 – 1908). In all these cases, we see Tamil Brahmins largely departing from their ancestor’s social role and way of life in order to join new administrative or legal elite. The ethnographical data available on ordinary urban migrants also depict the same picture of Tamil Brahmins educated in English and employed in modern, rationalized, bureaucratic systems of governance.

As the authors rightly point out, in 1900, an ambitious young Tamil Brahmin would probably have hoped to become a High Court Judge, but by 2000 he or she would be much more likely to aspire to the position of CEO of a major IT company. This change and its consequences is at the heart of Chapter 3, where the authors discuss the education and employment after Independence. From the quota system of 1930s onwards the reservation policy of governments has greatly reduced the recruitment and presence of Tamil Brahmins in Government Service. As a result of this, Tamil Brahmins turned to Indian Central Government Services, and public sector organizations including banks as attractive sources of employment until the OBCs quotas were introduced after 1991. Indirectly, this lead to the migration of Tamil Brahmins towards Mumbai, Delhi, and other North Indian towns and cities. This migration widely dispersed Tamil Brahmins throughout India after Independence. After the opening up of the economy and the emergence of information technology sector the employment pattern of Tamil Brahmins saw further shift and migration to more locations including Bangalore in India and United States and several other countries. Simultaneously in the field of education, authors describe the shift from government educational institutions to private schools and colleges. We also see a marked shift towards engineering and technology courses in the last decades of the 20th century. As known, the authors also reveal that the medical profession never appealed to the Tamil Brahmins because of the government’s reservation policy and the severe competition in government medical college for general seats. Authors conclude that Tamil Brahmins as middle class who possessed the economic, social and cultural resources to ensure that their wards are well placed to secure the same kind of employment in open recruitment systems and move up in the class ladder.

The evolution of female education in relation to marriage and paid employment is examined in detail in the fourth chapter. Also it provides a lot of insights into the life of Tamil Brahmin women and the changes that occurred to them. The plaguing matter of child marriage that Tamil Brahmins gave up grudgingly, the slow but steady progress that was achieved in providing formal education to Tamil Brahmin girls, the penetration of Tamil Brahmin girls into the world of paid employment especially IT sector are discussed in detail. The authors are able to firmly conclude that at present there is a near parity between the genders. However, they also add that gender inequality has not completely vanished among Tamil Brahmins. Women always have to face the competing pressures of family, career, unequal division of domestic labour, and more moral surveillance than men. This chapter also includes a short biographical sketch of the noted social reformer and educationalist Smt. R. S. Subbalakshmi (1886 – 1969).

Chapter 5 presents the urban ways of life in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, and the outer suburbs of American cities. According to the authors, almost all middle class Tamil Brahmins live and work in urban areas. And they are thorough urbanites and not ‘urban villagers’. They usually retain few links with their ancestral villages, and most of them know nothing about rural ways of life. Most of them; especially women; perceive villages as restrictive, gossipy, ultra orthodox and conservative strongholds. And they find the urban locations modern, less restrictive, flexible, liberal and relaxed. One central theme in this chapter is the contrast between Chennai which is seen to combine tradition and modernity, and Bangalore and Mumbai which are inimitably modern, and America which is thoroughly ultra modern. According to the authors the interviews with the select Tamil Brahmins in these cities reveal that they prefer to live there due to personal opportunities and liberties available. Even in the midst of their daily hectic life in these bustling cities across the globe, Tamil Brahmins are confident about their caste identity and way of life and try their maximum to adhere to it.

In chapter 6, the authors discuss the pre-eminent role of Tamil Brahmins as custodians of Sanskritic Hinduism. Under different subsections on carnatic music and Bharatanatyam the authors describe how the impact and contributions of Tamil Brahmins largely fashioned these two art forms into what they are today. Temples, domestic worship, rites of passage, and priesthood are dealt with in detail in this chapter by the authors. The worship performed regularly by Tamil Brahmins before the domestic shrine and in temples, celebration of festivals, ceremonies, observances of fasting and other religious matters are described very vividly. This chapter also includes on sub-section on the Shankaracharyas of Kanchipuram and Sringeri who are considered as ultimate gurus and spiritual guides to a wide majority of Tamil Brahmins in South India. The authors finally conclude that religion, music and dance are all vital components of the Brahminical, Sanskritic tradition as conceptualised by contemporary Tamil Brahmins.

The final chapter presents a comparative picture of Bengal, Bombay and Madras during the colonial period. Here the authors look at the Tamil Brahmins in a comparative context to see what is distinctive about both their modernity and their middle – class status. They reveal that during the colonial period these three provinces differed most in their contrasting paths of social, religious and political reform. The Brahmins forming part of bhadralok of Bengal, the two largest Maharashtrian Brahmin castes – Deshasthas and Chitpavans, and the Tamil and Telugu Brahmins in Madras differed widely in several ways. However, a common thread of gradual development to modernity and entry to urban middle class is evident in all of them. The authors also analyse other leading higher castes in India such as Kanya – Kubjas of Uttar Pradesh, Kashmiri Pundits, Kannada Brahmins, Saraswat Brahmins of Kanara, Nambudiri Brahmins and Nayars of Kerala since independence and arrive at the same result of urbanisation, modernisation and middle-class characteristics.

The Tamil Brahmin demographics are provided in the Appendix.  An alarming rate of low population strength and a difficult level of negative demographic growth is being faced by the Tamil Brahmins. It is correct to assume that the there is a clear lack of definite caste census data, because after 1931 caste based enumeration has not been attempted by the successive governments. The results of 2012 caste census are not yet published, nor do we have any idea or hope that it will ever be published. Till then, as rightly pointed out by the authors, we can only extrapolate the figures of 1931 census and arrive at certain assumptions, and it is only natural that such numbers will automatically become redundant once the caste census data of 2012 is published. Authors project the present number of Tamil Brahmins as 18.5 lakhs across the globe and within those 16.5 lakhs are in India. This is 0.026% of global population and 00.15% of Indian population respectively. It is a horrifying population trend.

The authors have done an excellent job of tracing the transformation of Tamil Brahmins from what they were 100 years ago to their present status. They have systematically analysed using various scientific methods and historical evidences the different aspects of the change and development that has happened to this community. How Tamil Brahmins became representatives of modernity is the central theme of this book. Based on the analysis of available data, authors are able to successfully establish their conclusion very firmly.

This book should inspire the future researchers to conduct more studies about the Tamil Brahmins. From our experience, the status of an ordinary forward caste citizen in this country is far from satisfactory. And the trend of migration among the Tamil Brahmin community for making a decent living still continues. When the might of the majority and the reservation system rules the country there is no future for merit and honesty. Therefore where the state fails, it becomes the duty of community as a whole, and the community organizations and associations in particular to take the lead in providing support to the deserving members of the community. Different organizations and associations working for the welfare and development of Tamil Brahmins in Kerala and other states should come forward to conduct similar studies to understand the correct status of the members of the community. Such studies should comprise of comprehensive data gathering from all members of the Tamil Brahmin community. This will pave the way to the creation of an exhaustive database on demographic – socio – economic – cultural – health characteristics of Tamil Brahmins. Only through the analysis of such data will Tamil Brahmins be able to truly understand their current status and steer themselves into the future successfully. The community should not allow itself to fade away.

url – https://vsrirams.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/tamilbrahminsareunlikelytofadeaway.pdf

Courtesy – Vipradwani, Kerala Brahmana Sabha

 

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