SV: SV: SV: Kinship systems

V.C.Vijayaraghavan vijay at VOSSNET.CO.UK
Wed Oct 18 09:17:52 UTC 2000

----- Original Message -----
From: "Swaminathan Madhuresan" <smadhuresan at YAHOO.COM>
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2000 2:18 PM
Subject: Re: SV: SV: SV: Kinship systems

> >Scholars can only study ethnic identities (if they  so choose). Scholars
>  >cannot  fabricate one for some people to whose society, culture and
>  >traditions, they have no allegiance whatsoever - which will come only by
>  >being an 'insider'
>  Scholars can come from anywhere; To study ethnic Gonds,

Simply by saying Gondi belongs to Dravidian group of Languages does not mean
you have studied Gonds as an ethnic group

 it is not
>  necessary to be born with Gondi, a Dravidian language/dialect as
>  mother tongue.

It is amazing that you call Gondi a dialect of "Dravidian" which refers to a
linguistic group. Even though you are a language scholor , you are using
words carelessly . Can you say with any honesty Gondi stands in relation to
Tamil as Bhojpuri to Hindi

 It is normal to get good observations when foreigners
>  write about the details or viewpoints which may be missing in native
>  narratives. A particular case is Indian history which will be lot poorer
>  without Greek, Chinese or Arab visitors.
>  >BTW, I am not saying that idangai/valangai 'is' the ethnic identity of
>  >medieval south Indians. All I am saying you can look at ethnic
>  >only in their own terms and in their own words as expressed in
literature or
>  >other historical documents.
>  The problem is many ethnics incl. Gonds are pre-literate. No literature
>  of their own or historical documents from their own hands exist.

Just because hisorical documents don't exist for a particular geoup does not
give you license to call them whatever you fancy. A good example is again
India. Written documents exist in India only for the last 2500 years, ( Of
course forgetting for a moment Indus writings, which no one has deciphered
with any degree of confidence so far) but the caste or group consciouness
predate this period. Much of vedic and post vedic literature was carried on
orally as well as social groupings was carried on by memory which predates
written documents

>  >If idangai/valangai is not good enough for you and only some Sanskrit
word is
>  >good enough,  that is not the issue. But you must respect dead people by
>  >calling them as they called themselves.
>  As Historians say, history begins with writing. Many ethnic groups' dead
> people
>  have left us with no writings at all.

This is no license to fabricate ethnic identities for others. The
untenability of "Dravidian" ethnic identity  can be seen in your or
Dr.Ganesan's ignorance of everyday Gondi speech. Two days back I asked
Dr.Ganesan to translate into Gondi an everryday conversation if he has
visited Gonds. But he has not yet come back which is most probably due to
his inability to do it. I am not casting aspersions on anyone's scholastic
abilitiers, but claining ethnic identity of Tamils and Gonds when even a
language scholor of Tamil background does not know Gondi or cannot even
distinguish Gonds from others.

As was pointed out L.Fosse, ethnos comes from the Greek word which meant a
community who have similar customs, outlook, institutions, etc. Above all
they can communicate with each other on a daily basis and have a more
meaningful dialogue. Ancient greeks considered themselves one ethnic
community in which Romans or Persians were excluded. A Greek from Syracuse
could take a boat and travel to any of the Greek cities in Greece itself or
Asia Minor or Southern Italy or Black Sea ports including Crimea. He could
talk and be understood without a problem people at any social level about
the latest Olympic games or latest Delphic Oracle or the latest play from
Thucydides. This was the sense in which they meant ethnos. All this is
unlike you or Dr.Ganesan who claim ethnic identity with Gonds but will be
struggling what to say if faced with real Gonds. If you live with Gonds , do
you seriously believe they can discuss with you Thirukural or the latest
group of singers in Madras Music Festivel. When you can't even understand
Gondi what talk will you talk with them.

Or take a modern ethnic group Latino. A latino from Havana - whether of
Euopean features or Negro or Indian features- can easily travel in any bus
in Cancun or Quito or Valparaiso or Beunos Aires.- and even travel to Cadiz
or Barcelona without any problems in communicating with anyone He can talk
to the fellow passengers on Maradona or dance Salsa or enjoy the pop music
blaring out in the bus speakers.

Can you say of this of you or Dr.Ganesan travelling to Gond districts? No.

All this makes dravidian ethnic identity a farce and a joke. But it has to
be. You are making what a logician calls categorical error. Dravidian is a
linguistic category cioned in the 19th century, but you are transposing to
another category viz human communities. This faulty thinking process has
stunted the understanding of the people in India. As if to cover up this
logical error, there is a high decibel usage of 'dravidian' - Gonds are
Dravidian, Dravidian Kings, Dravidian poet Thiruvalluvar, Dravidians were
defeated by Aryans  and so on. and so forth.

The western scholors are colluding in this  error even though they won't
allow such an error while talking about Westerners. When a western scholor
talks of Scottish ethnicity, he means only Scottish, not English nor Irish
not Italian. When someone talks of French ethnicity , nobody mixes them with
Armenians or Spanish

Only when you come to India any error can be committed because it sells.
There are vested political interests which benefit by active collusion in a

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