Criticism of Tamil Brahmins
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Relations with other communities
According to a British survey in 1912, though Brahmins represented only 3.2 percent of the male population of Tamil Nadu, they held 83.3 percent of the subjudgeships(immediately under British personnel), 55 percent of the deputy collectorships and 72.6 percent of the district administrative posts. Sixty seven percent of those receiving baccauleaurate degrees from The Madras University were Brahmins. Of those receiving Law degrees Brahmins outnumbered all non-Brahmin Hindus 3.5 to 1 and Brahmins receiving teaching licentiates outnumbered non-Brahmin Hindus by more than 6.5 to 1. These realities created resentment, not only among the British administrators who saw Brahmins as a threat to their hegemony but also among non-Brahmin Hindus of all stripes. AntiBrahmin sentiment became organized in the formation of the Justice Party in late 1916. This party, composed of upper-class non-Brahmins was committed to enhancing the opportunities for non-Brahmins.
Grievances and alleged instances of discrimination by Brahmins are believed to be the main factors which fuelled the Dravidian Movement. With the dawn of the 20th century, and the rapid penetration of western education and western ideas, there was a rise in consciousness amongst the lower castes who felt that rights which were legitimately theirs were being denied to them. This led the non-Brahmins to agitate and form the Justice Party in 1916, which later became the Dravidar Kazhagam. The Justice Party banked on vehement anti-Hindu and anti-Brahmin propaganda to ease Brahmins out of their privileged positions. Gradually, the non-Brahmin replaced the Brahmin in every sphere and destroyed the monopoly over education and the administrative services which the Brahmin had previously held.
However, with the destruction of Brahmin monopoly over the services and introduction of adequate representation for other communities, anti-Brahmin feelings did not subside. On the contrary, they were fully exploited by politicians, who often indulged in anti-Brahmin rhetoric primarily in order to get non-Brahmin votes. With the passage of time, they reached such a pitch that even individuals who had previously been a part of the Dravidian Movement began to cry foul. Deprived of opportunities, Tamil Brahmins began to migrate en masse to other states in India and foreign countries in search of livelihood. There were frequent allegations of casteism and racism against Brahmins very similar to the ones made by the lower castes against them in the decades before independence.
Dalit leader and founder of political party Pudiya Tamizhagam, Dr.Krishnasamy admits that the Anti-Brahmin Movement had not succeeded up to the expectations and that there continues to be as much discrimination of Dalits as had been before.
- Ritualizing on the Boundaries by Fred W. Clothey
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