Sriram Venkataraman — What a Brahmin sounding name should do to your Indian intellect
A decade ago, I was shocked at Hindutwa. Shocked since, like all Indians, I had internalized the brutalities of Hinduism. So, when Hinduism showed its claws and teeth in full vigor, I was ‘shocked’.
But these days, when I hear an Indian brahmin talk about Trump I am not shocked, but they are data to my memory. It is only recently, when I started to notice about Brahmin sounding names or upper caste Hindu sounding names (It doesn’t matter whether they come across as a communist or an atheist) when they talk about caste or India, all my alarm bells goes off. It is intriguing how subtle caste aggression can occur while maintaining its tenacious grip.
A couple of years back, I was trying to read up on S Anand. S Anand of Navayana Publishing, calls himself an anti-caste junkie in an interview with Indian express. What on earth is an anti-caste junkie? How casually and callously, he throws around the word, as if it is a heavy metal band. He also wrote an article “How I killed Rohith Vemula” where he projects himself as the killer of a young Dalit student. Before understanding the complexities of such a writing, like any other, I was ‘moved’. white guilt was the term that came to my mind when I read that.
As I started to read the responses from Dalit intellectuals, I began to figure out S Anand and his ‘apology’. He clearly claimed a stake of his murder trophy, projecting himself outside the caste of Rohith Vemula, and lamenting about the non-existent guilt. He elevated himself to the throne of someone, who by birth, of course, had to take the ‘burden’ of Brahminism on his shoulders. How clever.
All this came to my mind when I heard of Sriram Venkataraman, and I wrote on my facebook, I don’t trust a brahmin sounding name. Especially when the facebook Malayalee crowd, callously chanted “Jai Sriram”. Sriram Venkataraman, is an IAS officer in Kerala, a sub-collector, who took down the structure of a Cross, that was illegally put in a Government property in Munnar.
The Cross is illegal. No doubt about it. But when media is called in, when the Cross is taken down with full pomp and show without the State Government’s knowledge, I had my doubts. He might be a good officer, bound to his duty. He must just be doing things straight from his heart. Remember, the cross is indeed illegal and encroachments in Munnar are no child’s play. There is immense political pressure and gimmicks. It wouldn’t be far-fetched if I claim, everyone who has some power in Kerala’s politics owns a piece of encroached property. His duty is tough. He needs to have a lot of courage to just do his work.
All said and done, what he lacks is sensitivity. He lacks sensitivity and diplomacy as an officer, who belongs to a different religion when he is handling a religious symbol. This is the time of Hindutwa in India and there is no room for insensitiveness no matter if you are duty bound to the last dot. To add to that, Sriram just couldn’t keep quiet of his recent achievement.
These are the days in India when every upper caste sounding name should be under suspicion.