03 March, 2021

Janeu, The Cat's Cradle

Brahmins are fashioning new political rhetoric from old stereotypes

Illustration by Sorit
Janeu, The Cat's Cradle
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...

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