Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Saturday, February 06, 2010


as per, colony means:
1. a group of people who leave their native country to form in a new land a settlement subject to, or connected with, the parent nation. 2. the country or district settled or colonized
3. any group of individuals having similar interests, occupations, etc., usually living in a particular locality; community: a colony of artists.
and a few other definitions...

scores of tamilians live in defined colonies in matunga and sion in mumbai (definition no. 1).
india was a british colony (definition no. 2).
my parents have lived in syndicate bank colony since 1975 (definition no. 3).

i have never thought of this word in any connotation other than the above definitions.
till Point Return happened and specifically the cycle trip.

in rural TN, colony refers to the part of the village where the lower castes (dalits) stay. see outlook's report where this definition is detailed.
the situation of the lower castes (dalits) in TN is pretty abysmal (a simple search with 'dalit tamilnadu' tells this story).
and contrary to popular rhetoric (of the dravidian parties - DMK, AIADMK, etc), the current atrocities on dalits are not inflicted by brahmins, but by those who are just above them in the caste hierarchy.
but it is true that the brahmins (including a few in my own family) hold the dalits (sudras) in extremely low regard.

so how does it look, out there in the villages and in the segregated 'colonies'.
1. they are filthier/dirtier
2. they are visibly poorer (from the type of huts)
3. the kids wear lesser clothes and look scruffier and scrawnier.
4. ambedkar statues and busts are aplenty.
5. plethora of paraphernalia of dalit based political parties like VCK (dalit panther's party) and BSP (of mayawati).

in addition to these visible differences, the colonies face a high level of violence inflicted by the higher castes and are easy target for religious conversions.

saddening as it was to assimilate these visuals and read the reports, there is a newer form of economic casteism evolving in the cities, which could be just as dangerous.

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