Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s maiden trip to India had its fair share of controversies. Netizens got quite furious when he posed with a far-left Hinduphobic slogan on a placard that read ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’. ‘Brahminical’ is often used as a code-word to attack Hinduism just as anti-Semites use ‘Zionists’ to spread hatred against Jews.
Congress leader Manish Tewari is the latest to join the debate.
Why blame @CreatorOfTwitt . Anti Bhrahmisam is the reality of Indian politics. Got accentuated in the North post Mandalisation of Indian politics . We are the new Jews of India and we should just learn to live with it . pic.twitter.com/mYXcgt9hx3
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) November 20, 2018
Manish Tewari tweeted that ‘Anti-Brahminism’ is the reality of Indian politics. In the post-Mandal era, the same got accentuated in North-Indian politics. He added that we (as in Brahmins) are the ‘new Jews’ and we must just learn to live with it.
Mandal Commission was set up in 1979 by Prime Minister Morarji Desai to identify socially or educationally backward classes of India. The report recommended reservations to the scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and other backward classes to 49%. While the report was submitted in 1983, it was implemented only in 1992 amidst widespread protests. Criticising the reservation system, which focuses on caste over economic status, is often dubbed as ‘Brahminical privilege’. Hence, it is politically incorrect to be critical of the reservation system.
Although there were mixed reactions to Tewari’s tweet, with some looking it as support for Jack, Tewari’s sentiments are not unique or new. A 2008 Outlook article talks about how being against “Brahminism” is a part and parcel of Indian politics. In the article, researcher Jakob De Roover draws parallels between the Jews in Europe and Brahmins in India.
To be against “Brahminism” is part and parcel of the political correctness of progressive scholars in twenty-first-century India, much like being against Muslims is part of the message of their Hindutva colleagues. This indicates that something is very wrong with the Indian academic debate. Promotion of animosity towards a religious tradition or its followers is not acceptable today, but it becomes truly perverse when the intelligentsia endorses it.
Jakob mentions the striking similarities between the Jews in Europe and Brahmins in India like the stereotypes about them. While Jews are described as conniving people who could go to any lengths to personal gains, Brahmins are often described as oppressors. He explains that in both cases, the historians have claimed to have produced ‘evidence’ which cannot really be considered as one.
He points out that when anti-Brahminical people are countered with facts that Brahmins in a major part of the country are not as powerful, and are in fact, poor, they resort to ad hominem by claiming that Brahmins were the ones who manipulated kings and politicians behind the scene.
If you observe the Twitter discourse, self-proclaimed Dalit rights activists are out to set right the historical wrong done to them. As a sample, you could perhaps read the comments that would be targeted at me on the basis of my surname, Sharma (post-marriage) and Mehta (maiden), attacked for being a Brahmin, a ‘place of privilege’, speaking on the caste system.
Targeting of Brahmins, which is politically safe in India, with the ulterior motive of fueling divide in the country is not unheard of. We had earlier seen how Pakistan based propaganda websites indulged in such deeds. Thus, some people seeing red flag over an ‘outsider’ Jack holding this poster is bound to raise a few eyebrows
Hence, it would be interesting to see reactions of the ‘intellectual’ friends of Congress on Manish Tewari’s tweet where he takes a sympathetic view on the Brahmin community. Especially since now Rahul Gandhi now identifies himself as a ‘Janeu-dhaari Brahmin‘, the avatar of Congress President that was discovered during the run-up to Gujarat elections last year.