Skip to main content

View Diary: The Swiss Vote against Religious Freedom (257 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Most people disagree with that (9+ / 0-)

    Few people support the religious freedom of Mormons to be polygamous.  Few people support the religious freedom of Christian Scientists to prevent their children from receiving medical care.  Few people support the religious freedom of Hindus to enforce a strict caste system.  

    Most people oppose unfettered religious freedom.  Most people support a degree of religious freedom, one which does not abridge other forms of freedom.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 10:53:16 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  qwerty (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jay Elias, IreGyre
      "Few people support the religious freedom of Hindus to enforce a strict caste system."

      You seemingly imply that Hindus would actually want to "enforce a strict caste system"; if that's what you meant, then that would be an utterly false implication for you to make or state. If you dsiagree, then please provide a link to any poll (of Hindus or Indians) where 50% or more expressed support for enforcing "a strict caste system."

      In reality, a mostly Hindu leadership of India put in place a quota system that allocates at least 27% to 75% (depending on the state) of jobs, seats in prestigious and other schools and universities, etc, to "lower" castes and minorities, to lift them from the state where imperial and colonial regimes left them in, after India attained self-rule following a 1300 year occupation and subjugation by foreign invaders, during which time those invaders and proselytizers abused the caste system (which was originally an occupational classification in what was a rural-agrarian society, not unlike how occupations were passed on from generation to the next by heredity in the rest of the world in 800 AD, i.e. before universities and technical schools came to exist) as divisive political football to further their respective nefarious agendas. Also, it's the mostly "upper" caste Hindu teachers that lifted a 5-10% literacy rate among "lower" castes (overall literacy was 5% in 1901 and about 17% in 1947, and 65% in 2001) at the time of the departure of the British up to 55-60% in 2001.

      This Hindu (a "lower" caste one, actually. My father became an engineer thanks to the quota system. I became an engineer and then a scientist without any help from the quota system. I not only did not face discrimination from "upper" caste folks and teachers at any time during my schooling in India, but I wouldn't even have known about India's prestigious IIT's that I attended, had an "upper" caste Brahmin family friend not told me about them and helped me with some initial tips on how to study for the entrance exams that the IITs have. Back in India, I had friends from every caste, religion and creed. Even as a school kid (but a topper in school), I helped a Dalit buddy of mine with his schooling which helped him pass exams and move on to higher studies) would vehemently oppose if anyone were to even float such a nonsensical proposition as enforcing "a strict caste system."

      Whatever remnants exist in India of caste based discrimination (mostly found in less developed villages) must be eradicated (as should discrimination of all kinds that exist in just about every country out there), but at the same time, temptation for non-Indians to caste-bait about Hindus and the Indian society, while lacking any in-depth understanding of the history and the ground realities in India, must also stop.

      Here is a very interesting article for one to read. Relevant because Brahmins get pilloried and castigated for the caste system by people that know very little about India.


      Are Brahmins the Dalits of today?

      Francois Gautier
      May 23, 2006

      At a time when the Congress government wants to raise the quota for Other Backward Classes to 49.5 per cent in private and public sectors, nobody talks about the plight of the upper castes. The public image of the Brahmins, for instance, is that of an affluent, pampered class. But is it so today?

      There are 50 Sulabh Shauchalayas (public toilets) in Delhi; all of them are cleaned and looked after by Brahmins (this very welcome public institution was started by a Brahmin). A far cry from the elitist image that Brahmins have!

      There are five to six Brahmins manning each Shauchalaya. They came to Delhi eight to ten years back looking for a source of income, as they were a minority in most of their villages, where Dalits are in majority (60 per cent to 65 per cent). In most villages in UP and Bihar, Dalits have a union which helps them secure jobs in villages.
      ..
      According to the Andhra Pradesh study, the largest percentage of Brahmins today are employed as domestic servants. The unemployment rate among them is as high as 75 per cent. Seventy percent of Brahmins are still relying on their hereditary vocation. There are hundreds of families that are surviving on just Rs 500 per month as priests in various temples (Department of Endowments statistics).

      Priests are under tremendous difficulty today, sometimes even forced to beg for alms for survival. There are innumerable instances in which Brahmin priests who spent a lifetime studying Vedas are being ridiculed and disrespected.

      At Tamil Nadu's Ranganathaswamy Temple, a priest's monthly salary is Rs 300 (Census Department studies) and a daily allowance of one measure of rice. The government staff at the same temple receive Rs 2,500 plus per month. But these facts have not modified the priests' reputation as 'haves' and as 'exploiters.' The destitution of Hindu priests has moved none, not even the parties known for Hindu sympathy.
      ..

      The Indian government gives Rs 1,000 crores (Rs 10 billion) for salaries of imams in mosques and Rs 200 crores (Rs 2 billion) as Haj subsidies. But no such help is available to Brahmins and upper castes. As a result, not only the Brahmins, but also some of the other upper castes in the lower middle class are suffering in silence today, seeing the minorities slowly taking control of their majority.

      Anti-Brahminism originated in, and still prospers in anti-Hindu circles. It is particularly welcome among Marxists, missionaries, Muslims, separatists and Christian-backed Dalit movements of different hues. When they attack Brahmins, their target is unmistakably Hinduism.

      So the question has to be asked: are the Brahmins (and other upper castes) of yesterday becoming the Dalits of today?

      These facts are also important to note:
      1. It's mostly Brahmin mathematicians who invented the number system and most of the other Indian Mathematical inventions which you can read about from the link in my sigline.
      2. The authors of Hinduism's greatest epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata were written by "lower" caste Hindus (i.e. not Brahmins), namely Vyasa and Valmiki, both of whom became accepted as sages, and their works adopted as as definitional epics of Hinduism. What that shows is the caste system was not a rigid one and that it permitted upward mobility within the contexts that were present in those ancient times.

      I am not a Brahmin (as follows from my earlier remark that I was a "lower" caste Hindu), but I have come to firmly view the rampant anti-Brahminisim as being exactly like anti-Semitism. Both are hateful and inhuman vilifications of very successful groups of people (who made many valuable contributions to the human society in the forms of science, culture, arts, languages, etc) for positively no justifiable reason.

      Did you know that Indians invented the # 0 and the decimal/binary systems: a primer on Indian mathematics.

      by iceweasel on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 12:18:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I no more believe... (5+ / 0-)

        ....that a majority of Hindus would want to enforce a strict caste system than I believe that a majority of Mormons would like to engage in polygamy.  The point wasn't that these views are uniformly or widely held among members of a particular faith, but that these views are not tolerated by many people despite their ostensible belief in religious freedom.

        Your reply to me is excellent and highly detailed.  But such was not intended to be my implication, nor did I make that comment out of any negative sentiments towards Brahmin.  The point was merely that tolerance of religious practices only goes so far, even among those most committed to religious freedom.  I apologize if my comment displayed any further sentiments beyond that.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 12:26:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site