Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Happy India

4 November 2005
Vasu Reddy from Chicago

I am sure all Indians are happy now. I have to imagine we Indians are either farmers or cricket fans. I am sure there are people who will debate on my categorizing all Indians into farmers and cricket fans, but if someone has an issue, please forgive my generalization of the farmers and fans, as I want this week’s column to be a happy one.

India has been getting good rains, and perhaps more than necessary of rain this season. Monsoon has been on time and many a tropical storms and cyclones have been lashing India, and rivers overflowing and many areas flooded. I feel sad that many farmers lost crops and low laying areas effected with floods and lost homes, huts and livestock. But the farmers in many areas are blessed with timely rains, and good crops.

India in the last two weeks has a new captain in Rahul Dravid, and a bunch of new young players, who have been the latest Sri Lanka team as they would play with armatures, and so far have won the series 4-0 of the seven games. Although I have not seen a live match played a long time, the recent series win over Sri Lanka seems to lift my spirits to levels of happiness I used to experience when I was in India seeing India win.

I am proud of being Indian for simple stuff. We Indians seem to be happy with simple things, and as in a win in cricket and a good crop for the season. Comprehensive happiness is not possible for farmers and cricketers as each season brings its own fortunes. Continued happiness (prosperity) is only possible with prolonging the cycle of success. As with any other business, the business of farming and the business of cricket need to be nurtured with care. The current problems of earthquakes, scandals, bad politicians, bad luck, bad markets, bad karma and bad everything is a part of our life, and it is not just meant for Indians. The great part about us is that very little of happiness makes the entire population happy.

Mom always says to think of God in bad times and good times, and everything seems fine if you keep thinking of him. I agree. But beyond being fine, I want to be happy and I want to associate happy things to make sure I remain happy. I am sure the current Indian team will foster into a great team and then begin to age and start showing their age. I am sure that the current rains will some year become scarce as the rain gods will have to go somewhere else, or may get tired, and may not rain well for a season or two.

Hey you know what we should do?

The current team, its captain, its coach and the selectors should do dramatic things to encourage the current players, future players and the establishment to make moves that prolong the success cycle. Team should do team things, and ignore everything that doesn’t suit its success needs. The longer the success the more the happiness for Indians. Why not develop a long winning team that makes a nation happy for a long term. No need to panic, as even meaningless matches that our team wins, we will still be happy. It doesn’t matter what game you will, as long as you win we will be a happy nation. Give up selfishness; forget politics, make sacrifices and play with your heart (not forgetting smart) will help the winning aspects on a continued basis.

Farmers can always rejoice each good monsoon, and grow great things for themselves and the country. Great monsoons and continued seasonal rains will also need water management. Dams and canals, irrigation projects, water management and removing politics from farmer’s issues will prolong the great monsoon season’s benefits to years of drought and poor monsoon.

I always think simple things make life simpler. We Indians are simple folks and simple things make us happy. I wish for a continued success with all wakes of farming and great success for our cricket team. They both make us a happy bunch of Indians.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Indulging in Perfection

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
26 October 2005

I have been imagining how I can be perfect? Before the readers go on to imagine what is this guy talking about, being perfect, I still haven’t thought of what I am going to be qualified to be perfect in. So, while indulging in imagination of how I can be perfect, some potential possibility of perfection.

While people, actions, companies and things can strive for perfection, we the humans will always be human, and perhaps never perfect. Here is my take on some fine examples of things that can be close to striving to do as well as they can.

My friend last week said that Infosys, Wipro, Satyam and Tata are all brokers and did not add any value to the Indian system. My friend is a computer guy and came to the USA in the new entrants who are the information technology bunch. Me being an old guy contemplated a response, and I did contemplate for several days before I responded to him. I don’t think these companies are perfect nor they are close to being perfect. They certainly have added great wealth to their owners, created better employment for thousands of people, created export markets for abundant human resources of India, make huge profits, by and large remain focused on making money, creating expanded employment, bringing Indian IT to the world. I have no experience of working in these companies, but they seem to be continuously expanding employment, profits and Indian profile. I hope they continue to be global citizens and create vast employment opportunities, and eventually develop indigenous products that will power the world. I recently read that the Indian chip will power the new Boeing Dreamliner and Airbus next generation aircraft. Makes me proud to be an Indian. I admire Bill Gates and Microsoft, but I know people criticize Bill and Windows constantly. But can we imagine anyone else in near term duplicating what Bill’s Microsoft has done to the world? It is admirable, because of its sheer magnitude and the impact it made on the computing world. Indian IT companies and other services companies are at an advantage due to abundant talent, cost of people, government support and envy of the other industries. These Indian IT giants along with other Indian services companies can develop long term plans to enhance the outlook of their employees, create sustainable employment, develop global habits, become responsible global citizens and perhaps try to continue to perfect their internal processes to be good companies that respect customers, employees and shareholders. They may never be perfect but can continuously evolve to become better and better in managing money and people.

I got up from an afternoon nap, and on the television saw Chiranjeevi dancing. My mind immediately told me that I could never dance like him, even for a minute. I thought about individual talents and aspirations to be perfect. It is probably impossible to be perfect with any one aspect of our being. I am sure we all try and imagine becoming perfect. I like Amitabh Bacchan, and I really have to admit that he is the only actor I always liked since I was a kid. I think he tires hard and works very hard even in this sixties, and perhaps more productive with his career today than he was 30 years ago. Do you guys remember Sam Pitroda, the man who spent endless years in the 80s and 90s working to impress the magic of technology on the Indian markets? Sam is still preaching his IT mantra, but many in his mission to force rapid technology changes also shunned him. I personally worked with many Indian technocrats who were involved with the Rao government, and they were excellent listeners who embraced change as a habit. Very little is spoken of the Rao government and its contributions to the Indian economic advancement, especially after Rao was no longer in power. I believe a great number of participants in Rao’s government including the current PM Man Mohan Singh, were forward thinking people who made many changes to Indian economy possible with their forward thinking. For me it is difficult to imagine the progress with Indian markets without the changes accepted by the Rao government, which till today continue to benefit the Indians globally.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have been my guys (gentlemen) who I personally look up, and I read everything I can find about them. Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway are the companies they run, and the results of these companies are great measures of value creations for their shareholders for sustained periods. Perhaps one way of looking at perfection is to improve oneself on a continuous basis. I am hoping the Indian services companies will start to look at management and market models that will emulate the models of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway; they are in my opinion excellent companies to emulate. I am sure our readers will have their own models for emulation and will find their own exemplary role models. I am certain each one of us will have great role models of people and companies we admire.

To dream to be a perfectionist is perfect. Its good to keep evolving into a better being. People and companies, governments and politicians, should strive for betterment, and continue to strive to be perfect. One last thing on being perfect is that it is to remember that we are human and only can strive for perfection, as someone else will think of doing things better, and we will continue to chase the dream of perfection. The chase to be perfect will continue.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Why are they very mean?

Chinni,october 22,2005

Most of us have been to a school in India and also in the America. I had been to a very good school in India. And now I am going to a College here in Chicago. I find a lot of difference in the teaching style. Teachers in India show more Interest in teaching brilliant students rather than concentrating on dull candidates. Teachers were very mean in my school. I myself faced a bitter experience when I had been to school in India. I was then very small and would take the help of my Dad to complete my homework. One day my Madam corrected my book and didn’t notice any mistakes that I had written wrong. So, then my Dad got very angry at her that he wrote a note in my notebook itself that “Please check my daughter’s mistakes before you correct them.” The next day when she had my notebook for correction She had seen the note written by my Dad. From then she started being very mean to me. Though I did my exams well, she used to complain something or the other or would not permit me to go out to drink a glass of water. I was always scared to go to the school till I got done with her class. Here I feel very comfortable with all my professors and they help us a lot and treat all the students equally. Infact I love spending time in the College rather than at home.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Some Precious secrets about Smoking cigarettes

Chinni,october 20,2005

When we buy a cigarette pack, we see a caption written on the back of the pack that, “Smoking is injurious for health.” Yesterday we had a friend for dinner and he wanted to go out and smoke, I got so mad at him that I said I’d not accompany him if he ever smokes again. He seriously asked me,” do you know why I smoke?” I asked why?? He seriously replied cigarettes are injurious for health that is the reason I am burning them and throwing them away. And He started telling me few facts about smoking cigarettes. The next thing He asked, you know People don’t get older at all if they smoke. I was surprised and asked him “why”? He again replied seriously that people who smoke wouldn’t survive till they get old. Then finally He asked, you know no theft will happen in any person’s home if he smokes. I was bit confused and surprised too. I asked him the same question again” why”? He again replied seriously, coz guys who smoke cough all night, so how can a thief loot their home. He was so funny that he made us laugh saying funny things about smoking cigarettes. We really had a wonderful and funny evening together. Hope you too enjoy them!

Heart Attack or Gas

October 20, 2005
Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Our reactions to our body and mind are quite difficult to plan. I was reflecting on one of my cousin’s situation from a couple of days ago. Said she was getting heart pain and probably heart attack, and she was suffering from pain. Not much I could do except express concern as we live 10,000 miles away. I was thinking about what could be wrong, and was not sure if she was having heart attack how show could be still talking on the phone. She was going to see the doctor and get to the bottom of this. I am sure everyone was concerned, and probably worried.

The next day I called to check on the situation. She ha already been to the doctor and she had indigestion, and nothing close to any problems with heart. Probably heart burn due to a heavy lunch. Although we laughed it off, it could have been a serious situation. Reflecting on the situation in afterthought it is funny, and I am sure next time I talk to her I will have a few laughs.

We will react very quickly to what happens with our body with the little knowledge we have on what could be wrong. No one knows what is wrong with it, except to react to the situation.

A couple of weeks ago, while visiting a friend’s family and their little girl, something similar happened. The kid was less than a year old, and was crying hard. I thought it was indigestion, and needed some relief. My recommendation was to give a drop of Mylicon, and it will help the child feel better. They had never given the drops to the child, though the doctor had advised the same. My friend was running some errands, so, I ran to the store and got some. The minute we gave a drop, the kid was back to playing and making happy noises. I am neither doctor nor experience with medicine, but my reaction at the time was to think of relief.

Since that ay I know her diaper bag has a bottle of Mylicon, and her parents administer the medicine when she looks like she has gas. It is just another addition to bottles of milk, water, juice, diapers, wipes and now Mylicon. It helps.

Timely and planned life is just about impossible. Whenever we are in distress we probably are thinking everything is wrong. These instances although not rare, they are not common. Our day-to-day body functions are fairly regulated and only occasionally we get the body under stress, and it will not listen.

We love to eat and indulge in the best things in life. I mean food generally. I love to eat and most times pay for the consequences later in the day or next day. As I know Mirchi Bajjis are fantastic to eat, but they create lot of trouble to the weak stomach. I love to eat dosas, idlis, pooris and whatever else that are put in front of me. No question of thinking about the number of them I eat. I eat to my full and as spicy and hot as I can. I seldom think (at least so far I have not to date before I eat) about the size of my stomach. My mind always thinks of just the taste an never about the spice.

Although the sudden changes to our body’s constitution is medically simple to fix, when it happens it is hard for the individual to understand what is really happening. Our immediate reaction is to think of the worst possible thing happening to us, such as heart attack instead of heartburn. Luckily we get over this quickly and laugh it off by saying we panicked for nothing. Most of us might even joke about it.

It may be a wise thing to learn about simple remedies to practice just in case that our body may give occasional trouble. I am not advising we take a bag full of medicines, but try to understand the simple things that cause our individual bodies to react, and try to either don’t create the situation or understand what will give us relief. It’s not easy, but we can try. Just to be safe and have peace of mind.

I tried many times to indulge in my favorite things. It is not easy, specially being Indian. It is very difficult (personal opinion) too many sweets, too many foods and too many occasions in our colander. It never works. But all I advise is some restraint, or learn to cope with the situation with a calm mind.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My first writing experience

Chinni,Oct.18th 2005

Guyz..........dont get scared reading my article. If you are not interested,just skip reading. This is my first experience in writing something on the Internet. let me share some of my opinions here on my blog. I came to the USA long back and spent a lot of time here. But when i go back and think what i've done all these years. Nothing comes into my mind...coz...done nothing all these years except sitting and surfing the internet and hangingout with friends. This year,hope i did something useful for my life,not the blog though. Guess?? Joining in School in my Criminal Justice program. Which i started on August 22nd. The first day went pretty well and everything was new to me in the college. It seemd exciting to me. I am having 15 credits for this fall semester and i thought it was damn easy to get graduated. First week went pretty kool.
Later started tons of tests and assignments. Though i enjoy submitting them on time and getting good grades.

I dont want you to get bored reading all about my school. Let me talk about something different.When I sit alone and think of something to write. Many ideas pop-up in my brain like friends,enjoyment and teasing. I was very happy when i was in India with all my childhood friends. We used to have a lot of fun at school and out side. My best friends were Prasanthi and Jyothi. Prasanthi is a fun loving girl like me,but Jyothi is a sort of reserved type. And there was another girl,Sowgandhi who was my classmate. Sowgandhi is an orthodox brahmin. Don't be surprised coz....i think even now we can find few more orthodox here in the USA who don't touch girls and still are completely vegetarian. That was when we were in our 8th grade. All of us used to get-together to have lunch under a tamrind tree inside our school campus. Prasanthi and myself were bit naughty in our class. We used to tease and have fun a lot more than anyothers in our class. Sowgandhi used to turn her head if she sees anybody eating non-veg. And sometimes used to throw out the food she ate. We thought it was just an over acting. So, one day Myself and Prasanthi thought a way to tease her. I forgot to tell onething,no matter lunch or breakfast,we all used to share with each other.

Jyothi got some idlis,Sowgandhi some rice with dhabbakai pickle,Myself dosa with peanut chutney and Prasanthi got some rice with meat keema(minced meat) which looks similar to carrot deep fried. So, we all shared lil of everyone's food. I like Prasanthi's food much bcoz...her mom cooks very spicy and tastey. So as Sowgandhi and Jyothi. Sowgandi had her first handfull and stuffed her mouth with the keema. She liked it so much that she wanted to share some more. Myself and Prasanthi were almost about to tell her. But Sowgandhi was lucky that we were out of time to attend our class period as our break time was up. Prasanthi told not to reveal that to Sowgandhi as she would get mad and kick our ass.

I wish Sowgandhi would not read this and get mad at us after 8yrs. Here i don't find any such friends coz...almost all of them eat beef here. So, now i gotta be careful not to eat beef or teased by any of my friends here. Hope i didn't make you guys bore. If so i am sorry!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Why Are These Guys Yelling?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
12th October, 2005

Our inadequacies make us angry!

One of the things I always remember and say when I deal with business, and every time I have to make a professional judgment I remember that I only get angry when I don’t have an answer. I rarely have the pleasure of yelling at people at work because no one will listen to me if I yell at them. They will simply quit working or ignore me.

Do you watch the programs covering the politicians? Two things that immediately come into the picture when the cameras are present.

1. If there are two or three parties in the same location as in the assembly, it’s really fun to watch them. No one allows the other guy to speak and keep yelling at the speaker. That poor guy must be suffering from earache from so many people really yelling at him.
2. If the politician gets the mike to himself, he will simply blame everything on the opposition party, specially the guy who is in power. It doesn’t need any rhyme or reason. Everything is the fault of the party’s leader in power.

Going back to my theory on yelling, I really think that the guys who are not in power like to disrupt the proceedings because the party in power might get to do something good. If you are in the majority and have the backing of the central government you will certainly want to continue to remain in power, and will want to start keeping some if your last election promises. At least some of them must be kept. If you are allowed to publicly show that your party is able to deliver towards the promises you made, and really keep them, people will remember those promises kept. Even if they are small promises, people will remember them if they are kept. I am sure the party in the majority will make good on their party’s referendum, even if they have the opposing party or parties simply protesting them. But if the opposition parties allow the party in power to keep their referendum, especially the promises made prior to elections and or popular programs, that too on nationally televised events it seems too much to digest.

I rather enjoy the short telecasts that give us a daily briefing on what’s happening in India. But they become yelling sessions when the congress is in session. I first (probably wrote in previous columns) thought this was entertaining. But as I watch them in sessions, it is really obvious that even the smallest thing such as amount of time a guy speaks gets objected. One of the very fashionable things that the opposition seems to do on a regular basis is to walkout. I really don’t have the resources but there must be someway of tracking if an opposition party and its leader stages a walk out, did they go to some filmy function that evening? Were they doing something worthless to the cause of the people in the time they should be legislating?

Lately lot of our politicians seems to happen in filmy parties and entertainment functions. This is not abnormal, but everyday politicians finding time to attend the filmy gatherings is surprising, if they have so many issues that they yell at in front of the cameras. No problem with protesting the wrongs of the others, but what is wrong is just yelling and not making any sense in what you are yelling at. My deduction to this is that the guy who is yelling is simply making a point of disturbing the proceedings and making a scene to get noticed. Nothing more than that is accomplished if guys simply are yelling all the time.

Also, the individual attention grabbing when a camera and a mike are stuck into a politicians face is to blame all evil on the party in power. I have to imagine no one can screw up that much to create illiteracy, poverty, floods, tsunami, global warming, famine and every imaginable evil in the few months they are in power. No imagination or planning is required to blame the guy running the show, and it simply doesn’t matter weather he is good or bad with what he does. He simply is in power and is not a good worker, not a good human being, not a good politician, not a good administrator and not good for anything. That’s exactly what we hear about the guy in power, when the opposition leader gets the mike in front of a camera. If we go specific in to AP politics, even affiliated party can raise slogans against the party that gives you minister positions in center. This must be an anomaly, as it should not be allowed even in a democracy. Politicians either believes people don’t understand them speaking in front of a camera, or think we simply don’t know what party they belong to. It is no longer entertaining to see these grown men simply keep telling that the other guy is bad, screwed-up and totally a waste fellow. Why don’t they start telling what are they doing to make life better for their constituents? Perhaps people will hear that and vote them into power so that they can deliver to their promises.

Stop yelling and do some constructive work. Everything people in power do is not wrong, or right. Each party and has its own plans and agenda, and if people don’t like the ruling party this time, they will be replaced as the last one. No point yelling as no one will listen after a while. People like to see their needs met, not watch politicians on TV simply yelling. You get no votes for yelling.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Tapping the Rich Markets of India

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
4th October 2005

Many of the NRI families come from rural areas and smaller towns of India. For example everyone doesn’t come from Hyderabad, although we may have a family member or a relative who live there. With almost 10 million some people in Hyderabad, it is likely that in over 70 some million people who live in Andhra Pradesh, at least we have someone who we know or somehow related to in Hyderabad. In that context the market power of the capital city is obvious. Political center, industrial center, hitech center and cultural center along with the huge population is attractive for businesses to hoard their wares in Hyderabad. Big homes, big fancy cars, multiplexes, cinema and other entertainment centers along with advertisers who constantly spend zillions of rupees in the big city is natural.

But think of the NRI families that are from smaller centers such as Vijayawada, Guntur, Nellore, Tirupathi, Proddutur, Amalapuram, Badrachalam and many other towns, and in cases villages where our families live, and have all the affluence necessary to afford the luxuries of wealth.

In reality the ratio of people who are affluent may be higher in the smaller markets rater than in the big city. From the Internet cafes to Mercedes showrooms of Hyderabad cater to the affluent folks of the city, and the rich of the rural Pradesh have to go all the way to the big city to get some of these high-ticket items. I am sure the gold and sari shops of the smaller cities are as posh as the big city. How about the big-ticket items, cars, appliances, specialist markets that are very affordable to the very rich who live in the villages, but are not advertised in the smaller communities or available easily.

I really don’t have a business model that can take every luxury affordable and available in Hyderabad and take them to the village, but there has to be a way to make things easy to acquire if you can afford them. The transportation facilities seem to be much improved since a generation ago and there is better communications with wireless networks.

May be it is time for many of our dynamic NRI to think of modeling the business strategies to develop access to their communities, where by the folks form the rural areas don’t have to go to Hyderabad or next big city to buy stuff. For example this year I have been to small communities, which are fairly affluent but have neither Internet nor mobile coverage. This is one of the small things that can help better communication. For example if my mom can see me on the Internet (for which there is a need for Internet connectivity) and can speak to me on the telephone (for which the wireless or wire line networks must work if they are there or they need to be built) then I won’t miss her as much as if I am unable to find her. By simple development the communications can be deployed. I am not sure why the private enterprise has not made inroads into small community infrastructure development?

There is a lot of development with educational facilities over the last generation, with many technical colleges springing everywhere. There is plenty of human resources all around the state, to provide for opportunity for enterprise to grow in every area of the state (for that matter the country). And thanks to the NRI wealth there is every village with a decent population that is rich and can afford all the high-ticket items. There is plenty of opportunity in all parts for business of transportation, communications, agriculture, commerce and other areas that can be upgraded to the levels of the big city.

The congestion of the big city and the extraordinary difference in cost of living is a good reason to make all parts of the state accessible. With the affordability of the rural population (it perhaps is a greater than the big city) serious efforts to bring all things that are available in the big city to all parts of the state, except the congestion and high prices. While the market is there with the rich farmers and traders along with the NRI families, only planning is necessary to capitalize on this.

I have been seriously thinking of various models that extend the infrastructure of the big city along with its big-ticket items to all parts of the state. Much has been said about development in the state with various governments including this one, but bringing the entire state with similar market system as the big city will need enterprise doing the planning and work, not just the state government. Companies, individuals and enterprise should seriously start planning for catering to the whole state and bring products and services to every community that can afford them. Think of the impulse buying people go through everyday when they go shopping. Whatever is on your list plus whatever else you see available become your targets for buying. The rural markets become the same. If it is available people will but it. Be it cars, apartments, gas stove or beans, if they are easily available they become your targets for impulse buying.

People can afford things, and are willing to pay for them and need them. I invite all NRI and the folks with people in the smaller towns to work on solutions. Every market need met, is simply better business for all people involved. Every additional service available in your town is a value addition to the family, government and the development of the state in general. It will be incredible to not rely on just going to the city to buy stuff but simply be at home in the village and have the pleasure of the product or service delivered to you. Indians are great spenders and acquirers and no question they will welcome all the luxuries money can buy into their communities, and all the services they need to be in touch with the rest of the world without traveling to the big city. I would believe that the small markets are really not that small. It is the entire state that is rich with farmers, merchants and NRI. They can make Andhra Pradesh a big market by acquiring for all things that are accessible to them. They can afford them.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Indian Villages, Living and Factionalism

Compiled by Vasu Reddy from Chicago
30th June 2005

The Villages - Settlement and StructureScattered throughout India are approximately 500,000 villages. The Census of India regards most settlements of fewer than 5,000 as a village. These settlements range from tiny hamlets of thatched huts to larger settlements of tile-roofed stone and brick houses. Most villages are small; nearly 80 percent have fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, according to the 1991 census. Most are nucleated settlements, while others are more dispersed. It is in villages that India's most basic business--agriculture--takes place. Here, in the face of vicissitudes of all kinds, farmers follow time-tested as well as innovative methods of growing wheat, rice, lentils, vegetables, fruits, and many other crops in order to accomplish the challenging task of feeding themselves and the nation. Here, too, flourish many of India's most valued cultural forms.Viewed from a distance, an Indian village may appear deceptively simple. A cluster of mud-plastered walls shaded by a few trees, set among a stretch of green or dun-colored fields, with a few people slowly coming or going, oxcarts creaking, cattle lowing, and birds singing--all present an image of harmonious simplicity. Indian city dwellers often refer nostalgically to "simple village life." City artists portray colorfully garbed village women gracefully carrying water pots on their heads, and writers describe isolated rural settlements unsullied by the complexities of modern urban civilization. Social scientists of the past wrote of Indian villages as virtually self-sufficient communities with few ties to the outside world.In actuality, Indian village life is far from simple. Each village is connected through a variety of crucial horizontal linkages with other villages and with urban areas both near and far. Most villages are characterized by a multiplicity of economic, caste, kinship, occupational, and even religious groups linked vertically within each settlement. Factionalism is a typical feature of village politics. In one of the first of the modern anthropological studies of Indian village life, anthropologist Oscar Lewis called this complexity "rural cosmopolitanism."Throughout most of India, village dwellings are built very close to one another in a nucleated settlement, with small lanes for passage of people and sometimes carts. Village fields surround the settlement and are generally within easy walking distance. In hilly tracts of central, eastern, and far northern India, dwellings are more spread out, reflecting the nature of the topography. In the wet states of West Bengal and Kerala, houses are more dispersed; in some parts of Kerala, they are constructed in continuous lines, with divisions between villages not obvious to visitors.In northern and central India, neighborhood boundaries can be vague. The houses of Dalits are generally located in separate neighborhoods or on the outskirts of the nucleated settlement, but there are seldom-distinct Dalit hamlets. By contrast, in the south, where socioeconomic contrasts and caste pollution observances tend to be stronger than in the north, Brahman homes may be set apart from those of non-Brahmans, and Dalit hamlets are set at a little distance from the homes of other castes.The number of castes resident in a single village can vary widely, from one to more than forty. Typically, a village is dominated by one or a very few castes that essentially control the village land and on whose patronage members of weaker groups must rely. In the village of about 1,100 population near Delhi studied by Lewis in the 1950s, the Jat caste (the largest cultivating caste in northwestern India) comprised 60 percent of the residents and owned all of the village land, including the house sites. In Nimkhera, Madhya Pradesh, Hindu Thakurs and Brahmans, and Muslim Pathans own substantial land, while lower-ranking Weaver (Koli) and Barber (Khawas) caste members and others own smaller farms. In many areas of the south, Brahmans are major landowners, along with some other relatively high-ranking castes. Generally, land, prosperity, and power go together.In some regions, landowners refrain from using plows themselves but hire tenant farmers and laborers to do this work. In other regions, landowners till the soil with the aid of laborers, usually resident in the same village. Fellow villagers typically include representatives of various service and artisan castes to supply the needs of the villagers--priests, carpenters, blacksmiths, barbers, weavers, potters, oil pressers, leatherworkers, sweepers, water bearers, toddy-tapers, and so on. Artisan in pottery, wood, cloth, metal, and leather, although diminishing, continues in many contemporary Indian villages as it did in centuries past. Village religious observances and weddings are occasions for members of various castes to provide customary ritual goods and services in order for the events to proceed according to proper tradition.Aside from caste-associated occupations, villages often include people who practice nontraditional occupations. For example, Brahmans or Thakurs may be shopkeepers, teachers, truckers, or clerks, in addition to their caste-associated occupations of priest and farmer. In villages near urban areas, an increasing number of people commute to the cities to take up jobs, and many migrate. Some migrants leave their families in the village and go to the cities to work for months at a time. Many people from Kerala, as well as other regions, have temporarily migrated to the Persian Gulf states for employment and send remittances back to their village families, to which they will eventually return.At slack seasons, village life can appear to be sleepy, but usually villages are humming with activity. The work ethic is strong, with little time out for relaxation, except for numerous divinely sanctioned festivals and rite-of-passage celebrations. Residents are quick to judge each other, and improper work or social habits receive strong criticism. Villagers feel a sense of village pride and honor, and the reputation of a village depends upon the behavior of all of its residents.Village Unity and DivisivenessVillagers manifest a deep loyalty to their village, identifying themselves to strangers as residents of a particular village, harking back to family residence in the village that typically extends into the distant past. A family rooted in a particular village does not easily move to another, and even people who have lived in a city for a generation or two refer to their ancestral village as "our village."Villagers share use of common village facilities--the village pond (known in India as a tank), grazing grounds, temples and shrines, cremation grounds, schools, sitting spaces under large shade trees, wells, and wastelands. Perhaps equally important, fellow villagers share knowledge of their common origin in a locale and of each other's secrets, often going back generations. Interdependence in rural life provides a sense of unity among residents of a village.A great many observances emphasize village unity. Typically, each village recognizes a deity deemed the village protector or protectress, and villagers unite in regular worship of this deity, considered essential to village prosperity. They may cooperate in constructing temples and shrines important to the village as a whole. Hindu festivals such as Holi, Dipavali (Diwali), and Durga Puja bring villagers together (see Public Worship, ch.3). In the north, even Muslims may join in the friendly splashing of colored water on fellow villagers in Spring Holi revelries, which involve village wide singing, dancing, and joking. People of all castes within a village address each other by kinship terms, reflecting the fictive kinship relationships recognized within each settlement. In the north, where village exogamy is important, the concept of a village as a significant unit is clear. When the all-male groom's party arrives from another village, residents of the bride's village in North India treat the visitors with the appropriate behavior due to them as bride-takers--men greet them with ostentatious respect, while women cover their faces and sing bawdy songs at them. A woman born in a village is known as a daughter of the village while an in-married bride is considered a daughter-in-law of the village. In her conjugal home in North India, a bride is often known by the name of her natal village; for example, Sanchiwali (woman from Sanchi). A man who chooses to live in his wife's natal village--usually for reasons of land inheritance--is known by the name of his birth village, such as Sankheriwala (man from Sankheri).Traditionally, villages often recognized a headman and listened with respect to the decisions of the panchayat, composed of important men from the village's major castes, who had the power to levy fines and exclude transgressors from village social life. Disputes were decided within the village precincts as much as possible, with infrequent recourse to the police or court system. In present-day India, the government supports an elective panchayat and headman system, which is distinct from the traditional council and headman, and, in many instances, even includes women and very low-caste members. As older systems of authority are challenged, villagers are less reluctant to take disputes to court.The solidarity of a village is always driven by conflicts, rivalries, and factionalism. Living together in intensely close relationships over generations, struggling to wrest a livelihood from the same limited area of land and water sources, closely watching some grow fat and powerful while others remain weak and dependent, fellow villagers are prone to disputes, strategic contests, and even violence. Most villages include what villagers call "big fish," prosperous, powerful people, fed and serviced through the labors of the struggling "little fish." Villagers commonly view gains as possible only at the expense of neighbors. Further, the increased involvement of villagers with the wider economic and political world outside the village via travel, work, education, and television; expanding government influence in rural areas; and increased pressure on land and resources as village populations grow seem to have resulted in increased factionalism and competitiveness in many parts of rural India.
Village in India - Unity and Divisiveness
Villagers in India manifest a deep loyalty to their village, identifying themselves to strangers as residents of a particular village, harking back to family residence in the village that typically extends into the distant past. A family rooted in a particular village does not easily move to another, and even people who have lived in a city for a generation or two refer to their ancestral village as "our village."
Indian Villagers share use of common village facilities--the village pond (known in India as a tank), grazing grounds, temples and shrines, cremation grounds, schools, sitting spaces under large shade trees, wells, and wastelands. Perhaps equally important, fellow villagers share knowledge of their common origin in a locale and of each other's secrets, often going back generations. Interdependence in rural life provides a sense of unity among residents of a village.
A great many observances emphasize village unity. Typically, each village recognizes a deity deemed the village protector or protectress, and villagers unite in regular worship of this deity, considered essential to village prosperity. They may cooperate in constructing temples and shrines important to the village as a whole. Hindu festivals such as Holi, Dipavali (Diwali), and Durga Puja bring villagers together. In the north, even Muslims may join in the friendly splashing of colored water on fellow villagers in Spring Holi revelries, which involve village wide singing, dancing, and joking. People of all castes within a village address each other by kinship terms, reflecting the fictive kinship relationships recognized within each settlement. In the north, where village exogamy is important, the concept of a village as a significant unit is clear. When the all-male groom's party arrives from another village, residents of the bride's village in North India treat the visitors with the appropriate behavior due to them as bride-takers--men greet them with ostentatious respect, while women cover their faces and sing bawdy songs at them. A woman born in a village in India is known as a daughter of the village while an in-married bride is considered a daughter-in-law of the village. In her conjugal home in North India, a bride is often known by the name of her natal village; for example, Sanchiwali (woman from Sanchi). A man who chooses to live in his wife's natal village--usually for reasons of land inheritance--is known by the name of his birth village, such as Sankheriwala (man from Sankheri).
Traditionally, villages in India often recognized a headman and listened with respect to the decisions of the panchayat, composed of important men from the village's major castes, who had the power to levy fines and exclude transgressors from village social life. Disputes were decided within the village precincts as much as possible, with infrequent recourse to the police or court system. In present-day India, the government supports an elective panchayat and headman system, which is distinct from the traditional council and headman, and, in many instances, even includes women and very low-caste members. As older systems of authority are challenged, villagers are less reluctant to take disputes to court.
The solidarity of a village is always driven by conflicts, rivalries, and factionalism. Living together in intensely close relationships over generations, struggling to wrest a livelihood from the same limited area of land and water sources, closely watching some grow fat and powerful while others remain weak and dependent, fellow villagers are prone to disputes, strategic contests, and even violence. Most villages of India include what villagers call "big fish," prosperous, powerful people, fed and serviced through the labors of the struggling "little fish." Villagers commonly view gains as possible only at the expense of neighbors. Further, the increased involvement of villagers with the wider economic and political world outside the village via travel, work, education, and television; expanding government influence in rural areas; and increased pressure on land and resources as village populations grow seem to have resulted in increased factionalism and competitiveness in many parts of rural India.
India's caste system
India has a hierarchical caste system in the society. Within Indian culture, whether in the north or the south, Hindu or Muslim, urban or village, virtually all things, people, and groups of people are ranked according to various essential qualities. If one is attuned to the theme of hierarchy in India, one can discern it everywhere. Although India is a political democracy, in daily life there is little advocacy of or adherence to notions of equality.
Castes systems in India and caste like groups--those quintessential groups with which almost all Indians are associated--are ranked. Within most villages or towns, everyone knows the relative rankings of each locally represented caste, and people's behavior toward one another is constantly shaped by this knowledge. Between the extremes of the very high and very low castes, however, there is sometimes disagreement on the exact relative ranking of castes clustered in the middle.
Castes system in India is primarily associated with Hinduism but also exist among other Indian religious groups. Muslims sometimes expressly deny that they have castes--they state that all Muslims are brothers under God--but observation of Muslim life in various parts of India reveals the existence of caste like groups and clear concern with social hierarchy. Among Indian Christians, too, differences in caste are acknowledged and maintained.
Throughout India, individuals are also ranked according to their wealth and power. For example, there are "big men" (bare admi, in Hindi) and "little men" (chhote admi) everywhere. "Big men" sit confidently on chairs, while "little men" come before them to make requests, either standing or crouching down on their haunches, certainly not presuming to sit beside a man of high status as an equal. Even men of nearly equal status who might share a string cot to sit on take their places carefully--the higher-ranking man at the head of the cot, the lower-ranking man at the foot.
Within families and kinship groupings, there are many distinctions of hierarchy. Men outrank women of the same or similar age, and senior relatives outrank junior relatives. Several other kinship relations involve formal respect. For example, in northern India, a daughter-in-law of a household shows deference to a daughter of a household. Even among young siblings in a household, there is constant acknowledgment of age differences: younger siblings never address an older sibling by name, but rather by respectful terms for elder brother or elder sister.
Even in a business or academic setting, where colleagues may not openly espouse traditional observance of caste or class ranking behavior, they may set up fictive kinship relations, addressing one another by kinship terms reflecting family or village-style hierarchy. For example, a younger colleague might respectfully address an older colleague as chachaji (respected father's younger brother), gracefully acknowledging the superior position of the older colleague.
Purity and Pollution
Many status differences in Indian society are expressed in terms of ritual purity and pollution. Notions of purity and pollution are extremely complex and vary greatly among different castes, religious groups, and regions. However, broadly speaking, high status is associated with purity and low status with pollution. Some kinds of purity are inherent, or inborn; for example, gold is purer than copper by its very nature, and, similarly, a member of a high-ranking Brahman, or priestly, caste is born with more inherent purity than a member of a low-ranking Sweeper (Mehtar in Hindi) caste. Unless the Brahman defiles himself in some extraordinary way, throughout his life he will always be purer than a Sweeper. Other kinds of purity are more transitory--a Brahman who has just taken a bath is more ritually pure than a Brahman who has not bathed for a day. This situation could easily reverse itself temporarily, depending on bath schedules, participation in polluting activities, or contact with temporarily polluting substances.
Purity is associated with ritual cleanliness--daily bathing in flowing water, dressing in properly laundered clothes of approved materials, eating only the foods appropriate for one's caste, refraining from physical contact with people of lower rank, and avoiding involvement with ritually impure substances. The latter include body wastes and excretions, most especially those of another adult person. Contact with the products of death or violence are typically polluting and threatening to ritual purity.
During her menstrual period, a woman is considered polluted and refrains from cooking, worshiping, or touching anyone older than an infant. In much of the south, a woman spends this time "sitting outside," resting in an isolated room or shed. During her period, a Muslim woman does not touch the Quran. At the end of the period, purity is restored with a complete bath. Pollution also attaches to birth, both for the mother and the infant's close kin, and to death, for close relatives of the deceased.
Members of the highest priestly castes, the Brahmans, are generally vegetarians (although some Bengali and Maharashtrian Brahmans eat fish) and avoid eating meat, the product of violence and death. High-ranking Warrior castes (Kshatriyas), however, typically consume non-vegetarian diets, considered appropriate for their traditions of valor and physical strength.
A Brahman born of proper Brahman parents retains his inherent purity if he bathes and dresses himself properly, adheres to a vegetarian diet, eats meals prepared only by persons of appropriate rank, and keeps his person away from the bodily exuviae of others (except for necessary contact with the secretions of family infants and small children).
If a Brahman happens to come into bodily contact with a polluting substance, he can remove this pollution by bathing and changing his clothing. However, if he were to eat meat or commit other transgressions of the rigid dietary codes of his particular caste, he would be considered more deeply polluted and would have to undergo various purifying rites and payment of fines imposed by his caste council in order to restore his inherent purity.
In sharp contrast to the purity of a Brahman, a Sweeper born of Sweeper parents is considered to be born inherently polluted. The touch of his body is polluting to those higher on the caste hierarchy than he, and they will shrink from his touch, whether or not he has bathed recently. Sweepers are associated with the traditional occupation of cleaning human feces from latrines and sweeping public lanes of all kinds of dirt. Traditionally, Sweepers remove these polluting materials in baskets carried atop the head and dumped out in a garbage pile at the edge of the village or neighborhood. The involvement of Sweepers with such filth accords with their low-status position at the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy, even as their services allow high-status people, such as Brahmans, to maintain their ritual purity.
Members of the Leatherworker (Chamar) caste are ascribed a very low status consonant with their association with the caste occupation of skinning dead animals and tanning the leather. Butchers (Khatiks, in Hindi), who kill and cut up the bodies of animals, also rank low on the caste hierarchy because of their association with violence and death.
However, castes associated with ruling and warfare--and the killing and deaths of human beings--are typically accorded high rank on the caste hierarchy. In these instances, political power and wealth outrank association with violence as the key determinant of caste rank.
Maintenance of purity is associated with the intake of food and drink, not only in terms of the nature of the food itself, but also in terms of who has prepared it or touched it. This requirement is especially true for Hindus, but other religious groups hold to these principles to varying degrees. Generally, a person risks pollution--and lowering his own status--if he accepts beverages or cooked foods from the hands of people of lower caste status than his own. His status will remain intact if he accepts food or beverages from people of higher caste rank. Usually, for an observant Hindu of any but the very lowest castes to accept cooked food from a Muslim or Christian is regarded as highly polluting.
In a clear example of pollution associated with dining, a Brahman who consumed a drink of water and a meal of wheat bread with boiled vegetables from the hands of a Sweeper would immediately become polluted and could expect social rejection by his caste fellows. From that moment, fellow Brahmans following traditional pollution rules would refuse food touched by him and would abstain from the usual social interaction with him. He would not be welcome inside Brahman homes--most especially in the ritually pure kitchens--nor would he or his close relatives be considered eligible marriage partners for other Brahmans.
Generally, the acceptance of water and ordinary foods cooked in water from members of lower-ranking castes incurs the greatest pollution. In North India, such foods are known as kaccha khana, as contrasted with fine foods cooked in butter or oils, which are known as pakka khana. Fine foods can be accepted from members of a few castes slightly lower than one's own. Local hierarchies differ on the specific details of these rules.
Completely raw foods, such as uncooked grains, fresh unpeeled bananas, mangoes, and uncooked vegetables can be accepted by anyone from anyone else, regardless of relative status. Toasted or parched foods, such as roasted peanuts, can also be accepted from anyone without ritual or social repercussions.
Water served from an earthen pot may be accepted only from the hands of someone of higher or equal caste ranking, but water served from a brass pot may be accepted even from someone slightly lower on the caste scale. Exceptions to this rule are members of the Water bearer (Bhoi, in Hindi) caste, who are employed to carry water from wells to the homes of the prosperous and from whose hands members of all castes may drink water without becoming polluted, even though Water bearers are not ranked high on the caste scale.
These and a great many other traditional rules pertaining to purity and pollution constantly impinge upon interaction between people of different castes and ranks in India. Although to the non-Indian these rules may seem irrational and bizarre, to most of the people of India they are a ubiquitous and accepted part of life. Thinking about and following purity and pollution rules make it necessary for people to be constantly aware of differences in status. With every drink of water, with every meal, and with every contact with another person, people must ratify the social hierarchy of which they are a part and within which their every act is carried out. The fact that expressions of social status are intricately bound up with events that happen to everyone every day--eating, drinking, bathing, touching, talking--and that transgressions of these rules, whether deliberate or accidental, are seen as having immediately polluting effects on the person of the transgressor, means that every ordinary act of human life serves as a constant reminder of the importance of hierarchy in Indian society.
There are many Indians, particularly among the educated urban elite, who do not follow traditional purity and pollution practices. Dining in each other’s homes and in restaurants is common among well-educated people of diverse backgrounds, particularly when they belong to the same economic class. For these people, guarding the family's earthen water pot from inadvertent touch by a low-ranking servant is not the concern it is for a more traditional villager. However, even among those people whose words and actions denigrate traditional purity rules, there is often a reluctance to completely abolish consciousness of purity and pollution from their thinking. It is surely rare for a Sweeper, however well educated, to invite a Brahman to dinner in his home and have his invitation un self-consciously accepted. It is less rare, however, for educated urban colleagues of vastly different caste and religious heritage to enjoy a cup of tea together. Some high-caste liberals pride themselves on being free of "casteism" and seek to accept food from the hands of very low-caste people, or even deliberately set out to marry someone from a significantly lower caste or a different religion. Thus, even as they deny it, these progressives affirm the continuing significance of traditional rules of purity, pollution, and hierarchy in Indian caste system. 1995 data. India's caste system. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Although many other nations are characterized by social inequality, perhaps nowhere else in the world has inequality been so elaborately constructed as in the Indian institution of caste. Caste has long existed in India, but in the modern period it has been severely criticized by both Indian and foreign observers. Although some educated Indians tell non-Indians that caste has been abolished or that "no one pays attention to caste anymore," such statements do not reflect reality.
Caste has undergone significant change since independence, but it still involves hundreds of millions of people. In its preamble, India's constitution forbids negative public discrimination on the basis of caste. However, caste ranking and caste-based interaction have occurred for centuries and will continue to do so well into the foreseeable future, more in the countryside than in urban settings and more in the realms of kinship and marriage than in less personal interactions.
Castes are ranked, named, endogamous (in-marrying) groups, membership in which is achieved by birth. There are thousands of castes and sub castes in India, and these large kinship-based groups are fundamental to South Asian social structure. Each caste is part of a locally based system of interdependence with other groups, involving occupational specialization, and is linked in complex ways with networks that stretch across regions and throughout the nation.
The word caste derives from the Portuguese casta, meaning breed, race, or kind. Among the Indian terms that are sometimes translated as caste are varna, jati, jat, biradri, and samaj. All of these terms refer to ranked groups of various sizes and breadth. Varna, or color, actually refers to large divisions that include various castes; the other terms include castes and subdivisions of castes sometimes called sub castes.
Many castes are traditionally associated with an occupation, such as high-ranking Brahmans; middle-ranking farmer and artisan groups, such as potters, barbers, and carpenters; and very low-ranking "Untouchable" leatherworkers, butchers, launderers, and latrine cleaners. There is some correlation between ritual rank on the caste hierarchy and economic prosperity. Members of higher-ranking castes tend, on the whole, to be more prosperous than members of lower-ranking castes. Many lower-caste people live in conditions of great poverty and social disadvantage.
According to the Rig Veda, sacred texts that date back to oral traditions of more than 3,000 years ago, progenitors of the four ranked varna groups sprang from various parts of the body of the primordial man, which Brahma created from clay. Each group had a function in sustaining the life of society--the social body. Brahmans, or priests, were created from the mouth. They were to provide for the intellectual and spiritual needs of the community. Kshatriyas, warriors and rulers, were derived from the arms. Their role was to rule and to protect others. Vaishyas--landowners and merchants--sprang from the thighs, and were entrusted with the care of commerce and agriculture. Shudras--artisans and servants--came from the feet. Their task was to perform all manual labor.
Later conceptualized was a fifth category, "Untouchable" menials, relegated to carrying out very menial and polluting work related to bodily decay and dirt. Since 1935 "Untouchables" have been known as Scheduled Castes, referring to their listing on government rosters, or schedules. They are also often called by Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi's term Harijans, or "Children of God." Although the term Untouchable appears in literature produced by these low-ranking castes, in the 1990s, many politically conscious members of these groups prefer to refer to themselves as Dalit, a Hindi word meaning oppressed or downtrodden. According to the 1991 census, there were 138 million Scheduled Caste members in India, approximately 16 percent of the total population.
The first four varnas apparently existed in the ancient Aryan society of northern India. Some historians say that these categories were originally somewhat fluid functional groups, not castes. A greater degree of fixity gradually developed, resulting in the complex ranking systems of medieval India that essentially continue in the late twentieth century.
Although a varna is not a caste, when directly asked for their caste affiliation, particularly when the questioner is a Westerner, many Indians will reply with a varna name. Pressed further, they may respond with a much more specific name of a caste, or jati, which falls within that varna. For example, a Brahman may specify that he is a member of a named caste group, such as a Jijotiya Brahman, or a Smartha Brahman, and so on. Within such castes, people may further belong to smaller sub caste categories and to specific clans and lineages. These finer designations are particularly relevant when marriages are being arranged and often appear in newspaper matrimonial advertisements.
Members of a caste are typically spread out over a region, with representatives living in hundreds of settlements. In any small village, there may be representatives of a few or even a score or more castes.
Numerous groups usually called tribes (often referred to as Scheduled Tribes) are also integrated into the caste system to varying degrees. Some tribes live separately from others--particularly in the far northeast and in the forested center of the country, where tribes are more like ethnic groups than castes. Some tribes are themselves divided into groups similar to sub castes. In regions where members of tribes live in peasant villages with non-tribal peoples, they are usually considered members of separate castes ranking low on the hierarchical scale.
Inequalities among castes are considered by the Hindu faithful to be part of the divinely ordained natural order and are expressed in terms of purity and pollution. Within a village, relative rank is most graphically expressed at a wedding or death feast, when all residents of the village are invited. At the home of a high-ranking caste member, food is prepared by a member of a caste from whom all can accept cooked food (usually by a Brahman). Diners are seated in lines; members of a single caste sit next to each other in a row, and members of other castes sit in perpendicular or parallel rows at some distance. Members of Dalit castes, such as Leatherworkers and Sweepers, may be seated far from the other diners--even out in an alley. Farther away, at the edge of the feeding area, a Sweeper may wait with a large basket to receive discarded leavings tossed in by other diners. Eating food contaminated by contact with the saliva of others not of the same family is considered far too polluting to be practiced by members of any other castes. Generally, feasts and ceremonies given by Dalits are not attended by higher-ranking castes.
Among Muslims, although status differences prevail, brotherhood may be stressed. A Muslim feast usually includes a cloth laid either on clean ground or on a table, with all Muslims, rich and poor, dining from plates placed on the same cloth. Muslims who wish to provide hospitality to observant Hindus, however, must make separate arrangements for a high-caste Hindu cook and ritually pure foods and dining area.
Castes that fall within the top four ranked varnas are sometimes referred to as the "clean castes," with Dalits considered "unclean." Castes of the top three ranked varnas are often designated "twice-born," in reference to the ritual initiation undergone by male members, in which investiture with the Hindu sacred thread constitutes a kind of ritual rebirth. Non-Hindu caste like groups generally falls outside these designations.
Each caste is believed by devout Hindus to have its own dharma, or divinely ordained code of proper conduct. Accordingly, there is often a high degree of tolerance for divergent lifestyles among different castes. Brahmans are usually expected to be nonviolent and spiritual, according with their traditional roles as vegetarian teetotaler priests. Kshatriyas are supposed to be strong, as fighters and rulers should be, with a taste for aggression, eating meat, and drinking alcohol. Vaishyas are stereotyped as adept businessmen, in accord with their traditional activities in commerce. Shudras are often described by others as tolerably pleasant but expectably somewhat base in behavior, whereas Dalits--especially Sweepers--are often regarded by others as followers of vulgar life-styles. Conversely, lower-caste people often view people of high rank as haughty and unfeeling.
The chastity of women is strongly related to caste status. Generally, the higher ranking the caste, the more sexual control its women are expected to exhibit. Brahman brides should be virginal, faithful to one husband, and celibate in widowhood. By contrast, a Sweeper bride may or may not be a virgin, extramarital affairs may be tolerated, and, if widowed or divorced, the woman is encouraged to remarry. For the higher castes, such control of female sexuality helps ensure purity of lineage--of crucial importance to maintenance of high status. Among Muslims, too, high status is strongly correlated with female chastity.
Within castes explicit standards are maintained. Transgressions may be dealt with by a caste council (panchayat), meeting periodically to adjudicate issues relevant to the caste. Such councils are usually formed of groups of elders, almost always males. Punishments such as fines and out casting, either temporary or permanent, can be enforced. In rare cases, a person is excommunicated from the caste for gross infractions of caste rules. An example of such an infraction might be marrying or openly cohabiting with a mate of a caste lower than one's own; such behavior would usually result in the higher-caste person dropping to the status of the lower-caste person.
Activities such as farming or trading can be carried out by anyone, but usually only members of the appropriate castes act as priests, barbers, potters, weavers, and other skilled artisans, whose occupational skills are handed down in families from one generation to another. As with other key features of Indian social structure, occupational specialization is believed to be in accord with the divinely ordained order of the universe.
The existence of rigid ranking is supernaturally validated through the idea of rebirth according to a person's karma, the sum of an individual's deeds in this life and in past lives. After death, a person's life is judged by divine forces, and rebirth is assigned in a high or a low place, depending upon what is deserved. This supernatural sanction can never be neglected, because it brings a person to his or her position in the caste hierarchy, relevant to every transaction involving food or drink, speaking, or touching.
In past decades, Dalits in certain areas (especially in parts of the south) had to display extreme deference to high-status people, physically keeping their distance--lest their touch or even their shadow pollute others--wearing neither shoes nor any upper body covering (even for women) in the presence of the upper castes. The lowest ranking had to jingle a little bell in warning of their polluting approach. In much of India, Dalits were prohibited from entering temples, using wells from which the "clean" castes drew their water, or even attending schools. In past centuries, dire punishments were prescribed for Dalits who read or even heard sacred texts.
Such degrading discrimination was made illegal under legislation passed during British rule and was protested against by preindependence reform movements led by Mahatma Gandhi and Bhimrao Ramji (B.R.) Ambedkar, a Dalit leader. Dalits agitated for the right to enter Hindu temples and to use village wells and effectively pressed for the enactment of stronger laws opposing disabilities imposed on them. After independence, Ambedkar almost single-handedly wrote India's constitution, including key provisions barring caste-based discrimination. Nonetheless, discriminatory treatment of Dalits remains a factor in daily life, especially in villages, as the end of the twentieth century approaches.
In modern times, as in the past, it is virtually impossible for an individual to raise his own status by falsely claiming to be a member of a higher-ranked caste. Such a ruse might work for a time in a place where the person is unknown, but no one would dine with or intermarry with such a person or his offspring until the claim was validated through kinship networks. Rising on the ritual hierarchy can only be achieved by a caste as a group, over a long period of time, principally by adopting behavior patterns of higher-ranked groups. This process, known as Sanskritization, has been described by M.N. Srinivas and others. An example of such behavior is that of some Leatherworker castes adopting a policy of not eating beef, in the hope that abstaining from the defiling practice of consuming the flesh of sacred bovines would enhance their castes' status. Increased economic prosperity for much of a caste greatly aids in the process of improving rank.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Are Marriages Made In Heaven?

Are Marriages Made In Heaven?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
31st March 2005

Relationships are funny things. Friendship, brotherhood, parental, children and marriages are quite sacred with all of us. We can appreciate the value of each of these relationships by simply engaging in them and benefiting from the enormous positive support that each of those relationships provide to comfort us.

My best friend, my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister, my uncle, my aunt and my wife and my children are quite common introductions we make when we associate with the people around us. I am sure that everyone alive cherishes the relationships they value, and enjoy.

Here is an email I received from one of my readers, and I have taken out some personal references while leaving the content to reflect my current week’s subject:

Dear Mr. Vasu Reddy,

Once in a while, when my busy life permits me to surf the net, I seek pleasure in reading intellectual columns and blogs. I am very pleased to say your column!

While I thoroughly enjoyed some of your columns, I felt that some others were mediocre, but not bad. Probably it is due to my taste in those topics.

For long I have been wondering about one topic that cannot be covered enough - The psyche of Indian women when it comes to a mixed marriage couple. I wish you would write a column on this topic to educate people.

I knew my better half for almost six years now and am married to her for four and fathered a wonderful child of two years. During our moves across the country, we have faced lot of sneers and jeers from Indian Women. I am not sure what irks them most when they see us
together. Comments such as "Why did he marry her?" or "You can tell their son is a hybrid” etc really piss me off at their ignorance. Of course ignorance is bliss!

These women, just like me, came from India all the way to US in search of better opportunities and life styles. Yet, they cannot stand their own fellow mixing with others? Or is it pure jealousy? I don't know jealousy of what though?

My other Indian acquaintances - I am sorry I can not call them friends anymore -They will call me at my work and on my cell but never at my home! They will invite me for parties or to their homes only when they know my wife is out of town! Foolish on their parts, shall I say to think that I will go!

Some even stopped talking to me after they knew that I am married to a white girl! But when they need something, comes a phone call with sweetest voices possible!

I am really sick and tired of this and started telling people to f off! If they can't accept me for what I am, go to hell. I don't know what is your readership but I am sure whoever reads it is intellectual enough to appreciate and understand the feelings of a human being and know the difference between right and wrong!

Hope you will write a column with your thoughts on this!

And please keep up the good work!


I asked the permission of the email writer to allow me to use his message as a backdrop to the column, and got the consent to do so.

I first started to list these as things to discuss, and let the readers make sense out of the hypocrisy involved in behavior of people who subject others to such techniques.

1. Men and women marry.
2. Color, race, religion, caste, money, countries, boundaries, beauty, convenience are political developments over the centuries or human existence.
3. People always stereotype their own idiosyncrasies.
4. Marriages are a matter of heart and convenience, and are not engaged to satisfy others around you.
5. People have a right to abuse you as long as you allow them to do so.
6. Relationships are funny and can change if the other person doesn’t feel the convenience of taking advantage of the relationship.
7. People who are not related to them can abuse others children for no reason, just because they don’t like the child’s parent’s color.
8. Indians are still evolving as social beings when they move out of India and move into western societies, as they have not least yet that children are not hybrids, they are simply children.
9. Even friends are stupid as they feel they have a right to run your life.

So many thoughts come to my mind as I reread the email. Is our evolution of thought so primitive that we have not learned to respect the friendship to demean the relationship of a friend and his spouse and his child?

When I start to reflect on the concept of race and relationships, it suddenly dawned on me that if the social environment I live in is tolerant of all types of people then the issue of race is irrelevant. Amazingly so, the USA is supposed to be one of the most tolerant places on earth for social integration. When you are truly integrated into this society or any society you will start to appreciate the positives of the overall behavior of the people, and the respect for law and living. The same people who disrespect the couple and child referenced in the email, came to the USA for betterment in living standards, but continue to foster the tendencies of stereotypes of their original places, which themselves are mired with sociopolitical issues that have been plaguing the Indian nation. If marrying into color were the solution for perfect society then India or any such place would have no sociopolitical issues. We all know even the wealthiest of nations still need a lot of development. Special reference can be made to people who are unwilling to respect others choices, be it political or social. I a not troubled by the email but by the lack of respect for ones friend, his spouse and the innocent child. Are these the same people who made fair and lovely an acceptable beauty aid?

We don’t marry for convenience, as we clearly believe the need beyond convenience. When you get married you already have your family, friends and acquaintances along with your culture, heritage, color and anything else you already own. I am not sure there is any significance with any of these people and where you come from while making a choice of marrying. Just that most of these folks instead of supporting your individual choices of life, seem to have most times opinions on what you should do with your life, and specially when it mixes with race and color. In a nation where thousands of years of migration, occupation and tolerance exists, people of the country simply have forgotten that the Indians are a mix of every type of people and culture which is what we now call India. How can we alienate the people of our own race because they marry someone who doesn’t look like us and try to find ugly names for their children?

With many of my columns I don’t have perspective but just thoughts on how to reflect on what is happening around us, especially when Indians in USA have such narrow view of the world. The same people who are your friends find the most stupid things to say about you and your choices when you are not around, and to your other friends. May be the message is that you are simply alone in the world, and sometimes it seems that you have some company that is a matter of convenience.

I am touched and associating my feelings with the email and simply don’t care for anyone telling others what to do with their life, specially when it is something as simple as marrying and having a wonderful child. What is this? We are OK with coming to a western country to make money and buy a big car and big home, while sending money to buy useless stuff in India, but we have a problem with one of our own people marrying someone who doesn’t look exactly like you do. My advise to everyone is try to look around you and your life outside of India. You are the one who look different by not integrating into the society you came into. You just don’t get money in a country and become a part of it. You try to live their life and try to become tolerant of all people.

The writer of email is anguished, as he feels betrayed by the very own people who he trusts to be his friends. Outside of the betrayal of the friendship, I think the stupidity of alienation because of his individual choice of marrying is inhuman, and specially calling a child names is idiotic. These guys are not just bad friends but bad human beings. They are the ones who need to be alienated.


Combining Religion and Industry in Small Town India

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

10th February 2005

It is fascinating to look at India and its small towns, which combine the age-old traditions of India and also the modern manufacturing and way of life into the landscape. One such town is Bhadrachalam is located in Khammam District, Andhra Pradesh at a distance of over 300 KM slightly northeast of Hyderabad. A famous pilgrimage shrine, the abode of Lord Rama, situated at the bank of holy river Godavari, and also the home of ITC PSPD which is one of the premier paper manufacturers in the world, while retaining the charm of a rural Indian town. Combining high technology and modern facilities with stable employment, and retaining the religious and holy nature of the age-old practices makes Bhadrachalam a great place to visit.

Today devotes of Lord Rama can still be a part of the services performed from the time of the construction of the temple, and visit the beautiful surroundings of Bhadrachalam. Also, not forgetting the modern infrastructure built by ITC and the modern techniques and life of the people who work for the paper manufacturer.

The temple in Bhadrachalam is closely connected with the life of the saint composer Ramadasa who was known as Gopanna. Gopanna was the Tasildar of Bhadrachalam (second half of the 17th century) is said to have utilized money from the government treasury to build this temple, and was imprisoned in a dungeon at Golconda. Lord Rama is said to have miraculously given the Sultan the money spent by Gopanna, after which he was released. Gopanna then became Bhadrachala Ramadasa, and went on to compose several songs in Telugu in praise of Rama.

Bhadrachalam and Vijayanagara are sites said to have been closely associated with the Ramayana. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are said to have stayed at Parnasala, 35 km away from Bhadrachalam. Rama is said to have crossed the river Godavari on his way to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita, at the spot where the Bhadrachalam temple stands, on the northern bank of the river. Legend has it that the son of Meru - Bhadra performed penances towards Rama here. Kabirdas, a Muslim by birth is also closely associated with this temple. It is believed that the images of the deities miraculously disappeared when Kabir was refused entry into the temple and that they reappeared miraculously upon his being permitted to enter.

Bhadrachalam attracts hundreds of thousands of devotees from all over the world. This hill place that is encircled by Holy River Godavari flowing towards southern direction is the famous shrine Bhadrachalam - The name derived from Bhadragiri (Mountain of Bhadra - a boon child of Meru and Menaka). The history of this shrine stands for the significance of Ramayana Era, the coherent hill place existed in " Dandakaranya " Of Ramayana period where Rama with his consort Sita and brother Laxmana had spent their vanavasa - and vicinity of the temple had its incongruous add mixture of another story which depicts the exigency of " Sri Mahavishnu " to manifest himself as Rama and shuffled again to the mortal coil - long after Ramavatara was to fulfill his promise to his Bhakta Bhadra (a mountain king), a sage who had been continuing the frightened penance to get grace of Lord Rama.

Exigency of Incarnation
The history depicts that the need emerged the incarnation of Vykunta Rama was that to fulfill a long desire of his ardent devotee Bhadra. The Saint Bhadra performed penance at the bank of river Godavari in Dandakaranya to get grace of lord Rama and in countenance of his beloved God - The exulted "Rishi" implored Rama to be seated on his head, but Rama who was in search of his consort Sita gave promise to his Bhakta that his desire would be fulfilled on his way back, after finding Sita and accomplishing the process of punishing the wicked Ravana and establish ‘Dharma’. Thus the sage had been in continuation of the frightened penance, as Rama could not accomplish the promise in Ramavatara. Then Sri Mahavishnu manifested himself as Vykunta Rama and rushed to his devotee Bhadra, signaling his arrival by blowing 'Shanku', accompanied by his consort Sita and brother Laxmana, resembling that of 'Gajendra Moksham ' - Thus, the deities of Rama (having four hands) - Shanku on the right, Chakra at his left and Dhanurbhana (Bow and Arrow in the rest two hands), Sita had condescended on the left lap of Rama and brother (at Ram’s left) are existed. And the hill place where the Deities were seated on, was the head place of Bhadra - Achaia (hill), thus this shrine was transformed into Bhadrachalam.

Pokala Dhammakka found the idols of Vykunta Rama, Laxmana and Sita. She was an ardent devotee of Rama lived in 17th century was inhabitant of Bhadrireddypalem, a mile away from this holy place. One night, she had darshan of Rama in her dream and was told by lord Rama “the saints and sages are worshiping my embodied deity settled on Bhadragiri” and asked her to trace them, perform pooja and attain salvation. On the very next day morning she started searching for the idols - peeped into an anthill and found the idols hidden in it. She poured hundreds of pots of Godavari water on the anthill, which tardily dissolved and gave way to appear the hidden Deities. Since then, she used to perform pooja daily and offer 'nivedyan' with fruits fallen from near palmyra tree and constructed a mandapam with the help of local villagers.

Bhakta Ramadas and construction of temple
Kancharla Gopanna popularly known as Bhakta Ramadas in the year 1630 AD constructed Bhadrachalarama temple. He was born to Linganna Murthy and Kamamba in Nelakondapalli village of Khammamett Taluk in 17th century (1630 AD). As Tasildar he was discharging his official duties earnestly and collecting revenues due to Nawabs in continuation of daily preaches - Chanting of 'Ramanama' and the feeding the poor at his house. Ramadasa who heard the news that the villagers of palvoncha paragana were proceeding to witness Jatara at Bhadrachalam, He too out of curiosity visited Bhadrachalam. He found the deities in an amazing appearance; Ramadas then asked the villagers to contribute liberally for the construction of the temple .The villagers in response appealed him to spend the revenue collections for the construction of the temple with a promise to repay the amount after harvesting the crops. As such Ramadas constructed the temple with an amount of Rs 6 Lakhs collected from the land revenues with out the permission of the Nizam Nawab.

When temple reached to nearing completion, he had a problem of fixing 'Sudarshana Chakra' at the crest of the main temple. He deeply distressed and fell into sleep. On the same night, Rama in his dream asked him to have a holy dip in river Godavari where he will find that - accordingly. On the next day morning Gopanna did so and found holy Sudarshana Chakra in the river with out much difficulty. He presumed that Sudarshana Chakra itself was shaped up with the divine power of his beloved God Rama. Soon after the construction, his miseries started. He was dismissed from service for mis-utilisation of revenue for constructing the temple and was kept in jail for 12 long years in Golconda Fort and was tortured. Unable to withstand the miseries, Ramadas implored Rama to relieve him by singing many praising and emotional songs, which got popularized from the stanzas of 'Dasaradhi Sathakam ' and 'Keertanas' of Bhakta Ramadasa.

The Nizam Nawab Tanishah, the then ruler of Nizam's territory became a devotee of Rama who realized the devotion spirit of Ramadas after his imprisonment and took over the charge of temple administration. This resembles the communal harmony amongst the Hindus and Muslims.
The Nizam Nawab, Tanishah realized Ramadas's devotional spirit and dedication towards Rama, when Rama and Laxmana repaid 6 lakhs Mohurs exposing themselves as Ramoji and Laxmoji, the servants of Bhakta Ramadas to get release of their devotee from the imprisonment. Thanisha gave voucher to these divine looking persons who approached him at his house during late night. Then they kept the voucher under the pillow of Gopanna where he was jailed. Tanishah who woke up on the very next day morning realized that those divine looking persons were none other than Rama and Laxmana and made arrangements to get release of Gopanna and prayed to forgive him by placing all the Gold Mohurs received last night at the feet of Gopanna. But, he refused to take back those mohurs except two as a mark of divine significance, and these two coins can still be seen in Bhadrachalam Temple.

Influenced by the majesty of Lord Rama, Golconda Ruler Tanishah earmarked the income derived from the said Palwoncha paragana which came to Rs 20,000 and odd for the maintenance of the temple which was continued during Nizam's reign and offering Pearls on the occasion of kalyana mahotsavam (Sri Rama Navami) to Deities on an elephant through a specially sent messenger. That procedure of sending pearls to the Deities is still followed by present state Government and continued to offer during Sri Rama Navami Festival.

Tumu Narsimha Dasa, Tahasildar of Palwoncha paragana, along with his associate Varada Ramadasa came here from Guntur and took over charge of Bhadrachalarama temple after Ramadas made inscripted the performance of Nitya Poojas and sevas right from early morning "Suprabhata Seva" till night "Pavalimpu Seva" before closure of the temple as "Silaasaasanaalu" on these two pillars. This inscription gave details of daily dittam and daily rituals also.

ITC Bhadrachalam Paperboards & Specialty Papers Division
Over 1,500 employees, 800 staff and 6,000 plus some workers are employed at the ITC Bhadrachalam accounting for some 10,000 people employed, and over 2,000 people live in a planned colony with all modern facilities integrated into it. This division came into existence in November 2002 with the amalgamation of ITC Bhadrachalam Paperboards Ltd. with ITC Ltd. and incorporates Tribeni Tissues. ITC entered the field of paperboards in 1975 when it incorporated Bhadrachalam Paperboards Ltd. The new company was setup as an integrated paperboard manufacturing facility. The Bhadrachalam mill today produces 210,000 TPY of papers & boards and is the largest single location mill in India. The mill is focused on producing paperboards for packaging and graphics segments. Very recently (Sep 2002) the Bhadrachalam mill also commissioned India’s only Elemental Chlorine Free pulp mill with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes a year. This location will also see the commissioning of an 80,000 TPY board machine from Voith by June 2004. The Bhadrachalam location today has two board machines and two smaller paper machines. The unit is ISO 9002:2000 series accredited. The unit is also ISO 14001 certified for Environment Management Systems.

The Tribeni Tissues unit has a hoary history and traces its founding to British American Tobacco and commenced operations in 1949 manufacturing papers for the cigarette industry. Between 1961 & 1988 Tribeni was part of the Wiggins Teape Co. of the UK. It merged with ITC Ltd. in 1992. ITC Ltd. modernized the mill with an investment of USD 35 million and refurbished two of the paper machines with latest drives and electronic controls. The Tribeni mill has a capacity of 33,000 TPY and has expanded its product range beyond cigarette tissues to fine papers, packaging papers and specialties. The unit now has three paper machines making a stunningly diverse range of papers from Cigarette Tissues and Components, Laminating Base Tissue, Acid-Free and Anti-Rust Tissues, Low Grammage Printing Papers, D├ęcor Papers to Insulation Grade and Medical Grade Papers. The unit is ISO 9001:2000 version and ISO 14001 accredited. The third manufacturing location at Bollarum near Hyderabad produces 5000 TPY of Cast Coated Papers and Boards, 10,000 TPY of Poly Extrusion coated boards and 10000 TPY of C2S art boards and Ivory cards. The unit is ISO 9001:2000 series accredited.

This Division is the market leader in South Asia in carton boards and ranks second in turnover within the Indian paper industry. It provides paperboard for most leading Fast Moving Consumer Goods Brands in India and is the largest Exporter of coated boards from India. About 20% of total sales supplied to the international markets in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Iran, Australia, UAE, Turkey, China, Singapore, UK, Greece, Germany and USA. The address is ITC LIMITED- PAPERBOARDS AND SPECIALTY PAPERS DIVISION, Bhadrachalam UNIT, Sarapaka, (Andhra Pradesh)

ITC-PSPD, unit Bhadrachalam has exclusively setup an energy cell in 1982 and appointed a dedicated Energy Manager on a full time job with one engineer in each discipline to Audit Energy on all ENCON activities. The unit has its own plantation makes available high-yielding disease resistant clonal planting stock developed through biotechnology, with the use of these clonal plantations farmers have brought 16000 hectares under these plantations. The clones are procured by forest department of Andhra Pradesh; Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and West Bengal in all 8000 hectares have been planted. The Unit has put enormous efforts to reduce energy, chemicals, and water consumption by updating technology and constantly strives to bring the consumption of all inputs at par with international practices.

If you are in India and in the Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh region and have the opportunity, please visit Bhadrachalam. Help in developing the article is from Vamsee Krishna. She is originally from ITC Bhadrachalam.

History of Telugu Language

History of Telugu Language
Compiled by Vasu Reddy

28 July 2005

Origin of the word Telugu

The most popular explanation that is given to the word telugu is that it comes from the word trilinga, i.e. from the three temples at Srisailam, Drakasharamam, and Kaleshwaram. Many scholars may not accept this view.
Some diverse views on Telugu:
Khandavalli Lakshmi Ranjanam
It probably comes from the word talaing. Since tala refers to head, talaings refers to leaders. Probably, talaings were civilized people and conquered the tribals in the area of current Andhra Pradesh. Hence the name talaings. Later this must have given rise to the words telungu and trilinga.
Godavarti Ramadasu
Some say that the word Telugu comes from the Sanskrit forms trilinga or trikalinga: Actually, the word kalinga itself is a Dravidian word. In Kui language, rice is called Kulinga. Since Kuis were mainly rice eaters, Aryans might have called them kulingas or kalingas.
Marepalli Ramachandra Shastri
In Gondi language, unga is form for plural. Telu means white. Hence, telunga probably refers to people who are white in complexion.
Ganti Jogi Somayaji
Ten refers to south in Proto-Dravidian. Hence tenungu refers to Southerners.
Which of the two words is older? Telugu or tenugu? Some say that tenugu is older than Telugu because Nannaya used the word tenugu and Ketana who is younger than Nannaya used the word Telugu in his Andhra Bhaashaa Bhushanam. Malliya Raechana wrote a grammar book (Lakshana Granthamu) called Kavi Janaashrayamu. But he didn't use this word in the place of 'praasa' anywhere, so we are not sure what he really used.
The popular notion is that the first person to use the word trilinga is Vidyanaatha in Kakatiya era. Actually, the first person to use the word trilinga is Rajashekhara in Vidhdhasaala Bhanjika. He is the first person to use trilinga with a ra vattu. Markandeya and Vayu Puranas mention only tilinga. One of the oldest works in Tamil called Agattiyam says Konganam Kannadam Kollam telungam. On the whole, it is more probable that the word Telugu is older than the word tenugu.

Telugu script: Onamaalu
The Telugu alphabet is called Onamaalu. There is a good reason and a little bit of history for this.

Just as Buddhism was widely practiced in the ancient Telugu country, Jainism flourished in the Kannade country. The writers of the earliest Kannada literature were Jains. They were the religious leaders and educators of that day. Common folks sent their children to Jain gurus for education. The gurus initiated the Aksharabhyasam of the children with a prayer to the Thirthankaras and Siddhas. That prayer started with "Siddham Namaha."

The close ties with the Kannada country helped spread the Jain traditions in the Telugu country. There is even a school of thought that the Jain and Buddhist literature that existed before Nannaya was destroyed by scholars and kings who embraced Hinduism. Even if the literature was destroyed, the traditions survived and Aksharabhyasam continued to be initiated with the prayer - Siddham Namaha.

In later years, between 10th and 14th centuries, Saivism became wide spread in the Telugu country (Paa So wrote Basava Puranam during this time). Now the religious leaders and teachers were the Saivites and they initiated Aksharabhyasam with a prayer that started with "Onnamassivaaya." But the Jain tradition did not die away. The initiation prayer generally took the form of "Onnamassivaya Siddham Namaha." Over the years it became O-Na-Ma-See-Vaa-Yaa-See-Dham-Namaha and the alphabet that was learnt with this prayer came to be called "O-na-ma-lu."

Source: Mana lipi puttupoorvotharaalu by Thirumala Raamachandra.

Telugu script: cha, tcha, chha; ja, tja, jha.
In Telugu we have three distinct pronunciations for "cha" and "ja". While the soft sounds of "cha" and "ja" and the harsh sounds of "chha" and "jha" are not uncommon, found in many if not all-Indian languages, the "tcha" and "tja" of Telugu are rather unique and have interesting history both in terms of their pronunciation and the way they are written. As you know, "tcha" and "tja" are written as "cha" and "ja" but with the Telugu numeral 2 written on top of the letter.

"Tcha" and "tja" are found in Marathi also. But unlike Telugu, Marathi was derived from Sanskrit and Prairie, neither, of which have "tcha" or "tja." Hindi, which also derived from Sanskrit and Prakrit, does not have these sounds. So, how did Marathi get them? It is believed that the sounds were adapted from Telugu. Some scholars believe that Telugu and Bengali in turn acquired them from Pali.

Kakanuri Appakavi, a grammarian from the 17th century, wrote that a dot placed on "cha" indicates the pronunciation of "tcha" and similarly a dot on "ja" indicates "tja". That tradition, if it was ever practiced, has long since disappeared.

Who started the current tradition of writing the Telugu numeral 2 on top of "cha" and "ja" to note their pronunciation as "tcha" and "tja" respectively? Looks like the credit for that goes to Charles Philip Brown (popularly known as CP Brown). His reason for this notation is simple: a Telugu person knows the difference between the pronunciation of cha in Chandrudu and Chali (cold) but how will a foreigner reading a Telugu text know the difference? To make it convenient for non-Telugus to learn proper pronunciation, Brown placed Telugu numeral 1 on top of "cha" and "ja" for standard pronunciation and Telugu numeral 2 on top of "cha" and "ja" when they are to be pronounced as "tcha" and "tja" respectively. This notation became popular and was recognized in 1836 in the Telugu grammar written by Ravipati Gurumurthy Sastry. With the passage of time the printing presses dropped placing 1 on "cha" and "ja" but continued to place 2 on the letters to indicate "tcha" and "tja."

Source: Mana lipi puttu purvotharaalu by Thirumala Ramachandra.

Past Perfect

Vasu Reddy from Chicago It has already happened. Past is already on the books, recorded, and can’t be changed.   It ...