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Tamil Brahmin’s transformation to urban middle class

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By- M R Narayan Swamy

Title: Tamil Brahmans, The Making of a Middle Class Caste, Authors: CJ Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan, Publisher: Social Science Press.

This is a fascinating, scholarly work, yet eminently readable, on how Tamil Brahmans, who for centuries were a traditional, mainly rural, caste elite, occupying the throne of a caste order, transformed over time into a modern, urban, middle-class community.

In this clearly first exhaustive book on the subject, CJ Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan combine original research and extensive study to explain how Tamil Brahmans embraced education and job opportunities during the British Raj to become the middle class they are today, with a strong presence particularly in the booming private sector.

In this they were “an unusual social group” which knew how to remain in touch with the past even as it climbed the ladder of economic success – something that, the authors point out, the Telugu Brahmans or the Kerala Namboodiris failed to do. The Tamil Brahmans are a good example of “how and why privileged status within a hierarchical society can be perpetuated in the face of major social, cultural, economic, political, and ideological changes”.

The number of Brahmans in Tamil Nadu, according to the 2011 Census, is about 1.78 million, of whom Tamil Brahmans account for 1.40 million. Overall, in India and abroad, this must be 1.85 million. Today, the vast majority of them have been drawn into the urban middle class, leaving behind their once exclusive quarters in villages known as “agraharams”.

The Brahmans’ role as the custodian of Sanskritic Hinduism has always been salient for their caste status. This eventually pitted them against the Dravidian mass in Tamil Nadu, rapidly reducing the Tamil Brahmans’ once influential hold over politics into a virtual zero. But instead of going into a shell, the Tamil Brahmans adapted more easily to newer opportunities and saw modernity as less threatening to their social and cultural traditions. In the process, an old caste elite got transformed into a modern middle-class group.

Among the Tamil Brahmans who rose to prominence in both an early era and later included T Muthusamy Iyer, the first Indian judge in the Madras High Court, lawyers V Bhashyam Iyengar, S Subramania Iyer and CP Ramaswamy Aiyar, engineers SA Subrahmanyar Aiyar and V Ganesh Iyer, mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, scientists and Nobel laureates CV.Raman (1930), his nephew Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1983) and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2009). That Tamil Brahmans bagged three Nobel prices should not be surprising because the community took to law, science and civil service in a big way – and then made its mark in many other professions.

The Tamil Brahmans have also changed in many other ways. Although they tend to marry within the community, Iyers (or Shaivites) are seen as less conservative than Iyengars (or Vaishnavites). Their family sizes have shrunk, and parents rarely worry if both their children are daughters. Young Tamil Brahman women have more control over their matrimonial affairs. And today, Tamil Brahmans are dispersed across India and abroad, mainly in urban centres, and rural Tamil Naduis no longer their homeland in any meaningful sense.

The majority of Tamil Brahmans see themselves as both fully modern and authentically traditional, the authors say. Dislocation and disorientation are actually remarkably absent from the Tamil Brahman’s certain sense of themselves as both modern and traditional. But, then, this book is mainly about the Tamil Brahman upper middle class.

(IANS) (pic courtesy: amazon.in)

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India and Britain have Bilaterally agreed to Cooperate on Transport Policy

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Traffic Kolkata, Wikimedia

London, May 12, 2017: India and Britain have bilaterally agreed to cooperate on transport policy and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) will soon be signed between the two countries, officials said on Friday.

The MoU will be signed on bilateral cooperation in urban transport policy planning, technology transfer and institutional organization of transport.

“The decision to enter into a bilateral cooperation arrangement between the Transport For London (TFL) and the Indian Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on a wide range of transport mobility solutions and associated activities in urban environments was taken during the three-day official visit by Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari to Britain,” an official statement said.

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Earlier during his visit to the headquarters of TFL, Gadkari was given a presentation on strategy and policy reforms, customer experience and data analysis in respect of London Buses and other integrated modes of public transport in Greater London area.

Gadkari later said signing of the MOU will be done through diplomatic channels shortly.

According to the officials, there are also possibilities of cooperation on electric buses and water transport, over which discussions were held with the TFL authorities.

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Under the proposed MOU, the TFL will share its expertise on the mobility and efficiency of transport system and methodologies to facilitate the planning and delivery of mobility solutions, including ticketing, passenger information, major project financing, infrastructure maintenance strategies, and behavioural change and public transport promotion.

The TFL provides world class services that keep the British capital better equipped with public transport. The TFL virtually coordinates all the London transport, including London Metro, the bus network, Dockland Light Rail, water transport and cable car. (IANS)

 

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Southern Film Industry bags 18 National Film Awards

The six industries of the south -- Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Tulu and Konkani -- bagged a total of 18 awards

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National Film Awards, Source: www.nationalfilmawards.org

Chennai, April 7, 2017: Southern films figured prominently at the 64th National Film Awards announced on Friday with “Pellichoopulu”, “Puli Murugan”, “Joker” and “24” bagging top honours.

The six industries of the south — Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Tulu and Konkani — bagged a total of 18 awards.

In Tamil filmdom, critically-acclaimed political satire “Joker”, actor Suriya-starrer science-fiction thriller “24” and “Dharmadurai” bagged a total of six awards.

Raju Murugan-directed “Joker” bagged Best Tamil Film and Best Playback Singer for Sundara Iyer.

“24” pocketed awards for Best Production Design for Amit Ray and Subratra Chakraborty, Best Cinematography for Tirru and Best Visual Effects.

Veteran lyricist Vairamuthu won his seventh National Award for the song “Endha pakkam” from Vijay Sethupathi-starrer “Dharmadurai”.

Telugu industry bagged a total of three awards.

Indie romantic-drama “Pellichoopulu” was awarded the Best Film in the language, while “Shatamanam Bhavati” bagged the Best Popular Film award for providing wholesome entertainment.

Raju Sundaram bagged the Best Choreographer award for NTR-starrer “Janatha Garage”.

Malayalam industry bagged five awards including Best Film for “Mahesinte Prathikaram” and Best Actress for Surabhi C.M. for her film “”Minnaminungu – The Firefly”.

Adhish Praveen won Best Child Artist for “Kunju Daivam”.

Peter Hein bagged an award for Best Stunt Choreography, introduced for the first time, for “Puli Murugan”.

Superstar Mohanlal won a Special Jury award for his performances in films such as AA”Puli Murugan”, “Janatha Garage” and “Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol”.

While Kannada industry bagged two awards, Konkani and Tulu industries pocketed an award each.

Best Kannada Film award went to “Reservation”, while Bapu Padmanabha won the Best Music Director award for the film “Allama”.

“Madipu” won the award for Best Tulu film and “K Sera Sera- Ghodpachem Ghoddtelem” was awarded the Best Konkani film. (IANS)

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State Funeral on Friday for Singapore’s Indian Origin Former President S R Nathan

Order of Temasek, one of the Singapore’s most prestigious awards, was awarded to S R Nathan in 2013

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S R Nathan Singapore president. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • S R Nathan is reported to have been suffered a stroke a few weeks back, coupled with a recent one which placed him in critical condition
  • He was the sixth and the longest-serving President of Singapore, held in office from 1999 – 2011
  • Order of Temasek, one of the Singapore’s most prestigious awards, was awarded to him in 2013

Singapore, August 24, 2016: 92-year-old Indian-origin former Singapore President, Mr. S R Nathan passed away on Monday. He had suffered a stroke a few weeks back, coupled with a recent one which had placed him in critical condition. He was under medical treatment for a while and died peacefully on August 22 at 9:48 pm at Singapore General Hospital.

He was the sixth as well as the longest-serving President of Singapore and served two terms from 1999 to 2011.

As a mark of respect, he will be given a state funeral on Friday and the State flag on all government buildings will be flown at half-mast till August 26, said the Prime Minister’s Office in Singapore on August 23, said PTI reports.

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It is a big loss for the Singaporeans as well as the Indians. On Friday at 4:00 PM, the state funeral service will take place at the University Cultural Centre of the National University of Singapore, which will be attended by Nathan’s family, friends as well as former colleagues.

Dr. Tony Tan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Tony Tan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

On Facebook, present President of Singapore, Dr. Tony Tan mentioned, “Mr. Nathan had an outstanding career in public service. He rose from humble beginnings to become the sixth and longest-serving President of Singapore. Mr. Nathan also played an active role in uplifting the Indian community when he was Chairman of the Hindu Endowment Board and founding member of SINDA. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Nathan and Mr. Nathan’s family during this time of mourning.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed his grief on his sudden demise. He said “Saddened by the demise of former Singapore President SR Nathan. Singapore has lost a distinguished leader who was widely admired.”

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Nathan’s body will lie in state at the Parliament House from around 10:00 AM on Thursday till Friday for the public to pay their last respects, said PTI reports.

S R Nathan, who lived with his wife Urmila Nandi, daughter Juthika, son Osith, three grandchildren and sister Sundari, was born on July 3, 1924, in Malaysia and later moved to Singapore. He started his career in the Singapore Civil Service, as a medical social worker. Later, he served as Singapore’s High Commissioner, Ambassador to the US and pro-chancellor of the National University of Singapore. He was also awarded one of the Singapore’s most prestigious awards, Order of Temasek in 2013.

– prepared by Riashe Chakraborty from NewsGram. Twitter: @itzriashe

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