- The Magazine for Brahmins
Land Lording BrahminsThis is a comment on all the crap that goes in circulation on the internet, in the name of the deprived and desolate Palghat Pattar. I am nearing 80 years and have lived through the years prior to, during and after the lands expropriation legislation. There seems to me to be a whole lot of misinformation, misunderstanding and misplaced sympathy for the land-lording Brahmins. My attempt is to put the record straight.
First, my credibility. I am a good lawyer. I belong to New Kalpathy, the longest village with aroung 180 houses. My father owned the largest area of land from this village, nearly 200 acres. I am one of his 13 children, yes, thirteen, unlucky for some, not for my father. My father earned every acre of his land by very hard work as an astrologer, and was very proud of this. But he was wise enough not to let us, the children, go anywhere near the lands or to depend on the earnings. He gave us good education, as many other Brahmis parents must have done and sent us away on independent jobs. He made each one of us independent, and we are all a successful lot. I am not exaggerating if I said that the expropriation of our lands was a blessing in disguise, since this motivated us to succeed in whatever careers we chose for ourselves.
When you talk of agricultural lands in the then Malabar area, you must remember that agriculture was entirely rain-fed, the various dams were then only at concept or project stage. Therefore, farming was a gamble on the monsoon, and our best hopes were often belied. There was not a single year when there was full harvest anywhere. The good thing was that agricultural labour was in plenty, in fact,over-abundant. Paddy was selling at around Rs.20 or so per cart-load!
The Communist party had come to power for the first time by ballot anywhere in the world, and their constituency consisted of farmers and factory workers. Naturally, they had to service their patrons, therefore the land-legislation, which they had promised in their election manifesto. In fact, all the Brahmins had known that the legislation might come if the Commies came to power, yet very few of them took steps to resume back possession of the lands from the tenants. I warned my father very much in time, and his simple answer was that Brahmins were not good at farming, and that if the legislation came, he would not regret it. This was the attitude of many Brahmins, although some of them were willing to wound but afraid to strike. To my mind, therefore, it was a sort of consensual legislation, in as much as our case lapsed by our own default. The clever ones among the Brahmins did resume the lands and had limited prosperity, but even they came to grief due to the exploitative legislation on behalf of farm-labour. The situation deteriorated to such an extent that crops could not be tended or even harvested.
And now about the aftermath. The dispossed brahmins are gone into another world, at least a majority of them. True, there was dislocation of life for sometime, at least for some widows, but even they have faded into history now. The children of these families are running the country's offices and factories in India and many parts of the world. They have been doing so well that the Palghat village temples, which at one time cried for subscriptions to light the oil lamp in the sanctum sanctorum, now spend crores of rupees celebrating temple festival and rebuilding them. I think I have said enough. So, my appeal to every one is ‘Do not look for the black cat in the dark room that is not there’. Forget what happened as a dream, a blessing in disguise, and move forward as the community is now doing.
This interesting write-up may change the focus of our topic in this regard in the fourthcoming issues. - EDITOR