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A Beautiful Letter

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I am a regular reader of "Dawn" a leading English daily of Pakistan. (www.dawn.com). A lot of Indian writers do write articles in the Dawn. The letters section also provides a great insight into the problems/issues in Pakistan, their attitude towards India et all.

I came across a letter written by Mr B K Vasan in response to an article written by Mr M J Akbar & i am reproducing the same perhaps inviting the risk of copyright violation, but worth the risk.

Learning from the Brahmins

THIS is with reference to M.J. Akbar’s article on Indian Muslims (“Shrinking jobs for Muslims”, Dec 21). Since Mr Akbar has called it a hoax perpetuated by the upper castes on Muslims in India, please permit me to espouse the views of a true minority in India: the Brahmins. We don’t own land, we are not wealthy business men, and we don’t command any power in terms of political patronage.

We form such a tiny minority of the population that we don’t even count in vote bank politics. So forget any entitlements from the Government. Add to that, a successful and relentless campaign of vilification against us has been carried out mostly by ‘enlightened’ Brahmins ‘educated’ by Christian missionaries and thus the stage was set for a total suppression of Brahmins.

Yet many Brahmins are successful in life. Though there must be hundreds of thousands of utterly poor Brahmins in India we don’t hear of them. But those that are well-off are supposed to feel enormous guilt. These Brahmins are not wealthy; at best they live a decent life. By and large, they are a hard-working bunch who doesn’t take to the streets and demand entitlements. You can be cynical and say that’s because they are too small in numbers, or you can say that maybe there is something there for other so-called minorities to learn from Brahmins.

In all these stories you hear of ‘upper castes’ who go and beat up Dalits (or Muslims), everybody assumes it must be Brahmins because they are the ‘upper-most’ caste, right? Wrong. It is usually wealthy landowners who are nothing close to being Brahmin, either spiritually or by caste. Does Mr Akbar know that in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over 70 per cent of seats in higher education are reserved for all sorts of people — Muslims and Christians included — anyone but a Brahmin, even if the Brahmin is in dire straits economically. So did the Brahmin kids sit around complaining in anguish? No, they just studied harder and harder.

Look at the top 10 per cent of seats awarded in medicine and engineering in India, and you will see why so many Brahmins seem to be in the US in important positions! The enormous competition for the few merit seats in India is the reason why college grads in the USA know that it is far harder to get into an IIM or IIT by merit, than it is to get into MIT or Harvard Business School.

Of course, there will be readers who will go to great lengths to curse me and all Brahmins, quoting ‘historic’ anecdotes most of which are unverifiable. So be it. We know what the truth is and all the rhetoric in the world will not change it. What will protect any minority - or majority for that matter - is hard work, sincerity in thought and actions, being realistic, and adapting to change without compromising moral values.

M.J. Akbar would be well advised to ask Muslims to emulate these qualities rather than sit around hoping for divine intervention - or political handouts.

Chicago, USA

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