Congress president Rahul Gandhi offers prayers at Jagatpita Brahma Temple, in Pushkar | PTI
Congress president Rahul Gandhi offers prayers at Jagatpita Brahma Temple, in Pushkar | PTI
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Brahmin means entitlement, and Rahul Gandhi wants to embrace it.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is putting every effort possible to show his Brahmin identity. His party colleagues like to boast about his janeu or sacred thread. By now, everyone knows that he is a Kaul Brahmin and his gotra is Dattatreya. The fourth generation of Jawaharlal Nehru, the eternal Panditji of modern Indian politics, is flaunting its Brahmin origin with vengeance.

Like all of us, Rahul also has multiple identities – religion, language, caste-gotra-kula, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, political party affiliation, club or association membership, alumni of some institution, and profession. We decide what should be our primary and secondary identity at different points in time.

Nowadays, Rahul Gandhi is choosing to project his secular (a word that has a different connotation in the western and Indian contexts) and Brahmin identity. By doing that, he is perhaps trying to derive political benefit in the election season.

Is it beneficial to be a Brahmin? Do they have some privileges, which other castes don’t have? Let’s unpack the knapsack of Brahmin privileges.


Also read: Why Rahul Gandhi will fall off the tightrope between Hindu and Hindutva


This is not an easy task. There isn’t much literature on this topic. Libraries are full of books on sociological studies of deprivation and exploitation of Dalits, shudras and women. But it’s almost impossible to find books on Brahmin or savarna privilege, or how they perpetuate caste. This is a big problem with Indian sociology. Professor Vivek Kumar has highlighted that “domination of the twice-born castes works at four levels – as members practicing sociology in universities, institutions and colleges, in the sphere of production of knowledge while writing chapters of books, producing knowledge with the help of scriptural sources, or producing data from the field and while teaching sociology in the classrooms”.

As explained by noted feminist writer and scholar Peggy Mcintosh, we can assume that there is a hypothetical imaginary line of social justice where things feel fair. Below this line, people can feel being bullied, they can face slurs, they can be stereotyped, cornered or discriminated and be considered unworthy. We know so much about the happenings at this level.

What we do not know is what happens above this hypothetical line of social justice; their advantages, their privileges, how they are pushed up, how they are believed, considered to be capable of doing intelligent things and producing academic work, seen as virtuous and classy. We have departments of Dalit studies, minority studies, tribal studies but nobody is doing Brahmin or savarna studies. That’s why we do not have any literature on Brahmin privilege (read more on lack of elite studies in this brilliant speech by author Martin Nicolaus).


Also read: ‘Rahul Gandhi practicing actual Hindutva, and not soft Hindutva’


In western social science, we have ample literature on white privilege. The most popular of these was written by Peggy Mcintosh in 1989 – of Caucasian descent and equipped with an honesty to write about the privileges accorded to her race. As no Brahmin in India has the guts and the honesty to write on the privileges they have, I will try to map this phenomenon based more on common sense and a perspective from below. Hope this helps decode Rahul Gandhi’s eagerness to be accepted as a Brahmin.

What is Brahmin privilege?

1. If I am a Brahmin, I will be revered in the society and a “Ji” will be added to my name. I will be known as a pundit, although I can be dumb or even illiterate.

2. If I am a Brahmin, there will not be any difficulty in getting public accommodation. I need not fear that people of my caste cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places they choose.

3. Almost all public places will be open for me.

4. I will find restaurants serving food according to my cultural choices. Asking food of my choice will not be considered a bad thing. Rather, that will enhance my stature.

5. If my neighbour or co-traveller knows my caste identity, he/she will not hate me or look down upon me.

6. I can upload my profile on Brahmin matrimonial sites and not face prejudice.

7. There is every possibility that the interview board I will be facing in a university department will have representatives of my caste.

8. If I am a Brahmin, I can be sure that the books and texts prescribed in the school and college syllabus will reflect my cultural leaning, and many of them will be written by people belonging to my caste.

9. Whenever I am told about our national culture or about Hindu civilisation, I am sure that I am hearing about something that is our caste heritage.

10. Whenever I will be travelling to any Hindu religious place, I will find no difficulty in getting accommodation.

11. If am travelling abroad, I will find a diaspora dominated by my caste members. Many of them are employed because of the diversity policies of foreign companies.

12. Despite getting jobs due to the affirmative action policies in the West, I will keep opposing reservations in India.

13. Despite getting jobs under diversity principle, I will not consider myself less meritorious.

14. I will oppose affirmative policies of India and consider myself caste-blind or caste-neutral. Opposing reservation will not make me casteist.

15. When I enter a music store and ask for traditional Indian music, there is a fair possibility that the shopkeeper will hand me over something that has been produced by my caste brethren.

16. My caste gets almost 100 per cent reservation for the position of a priest, but I dislike the constitutional scheme of reservations.

17. Even If I don’t have domain knowledge to speak on a topic, I will be considered eligible to speak. My ‘C’ grade work will be cited in research papers by virtue of my surname.

18. Being oblivious and ignorant about the customs, traditions and present situation of the majority population, which is lower caste, does not make me a bad scholar. I will still talk about the whole nation.

19. My love for the nation and patriotism are a given, and even if someone of my caste sells defence secrets to Pakistan or China that will have no bearing on my caste.

20. My caste is the mainstream.

21. I get jobs in the private sector easily because my name is referred to by people of my caste in higher positions. But that does not make me casteist.

22. If I speak for the backward classes or SCs, I will be considered humanist and democrat.

23. But if someone from the lower caste does the same, he/she will be branded casteist.

24. When I watch television to follow news or debates, my caste people are over-represented as analysts, anchors and editors.

25. My caste people write most of the opinion pieces in the ‘National Press’.
The university libraries are full of books written by scholars of my caste.

26. If I do something foolish or boorish, or even heinous, nobody will attribute it to my caste.

27. I will consider myself a great humanist for eating or studying or working together with a Dalit or attending marriage of someone from the lower caste. This is sufficient to make me caste-neutral.

28. If my roommate or hostel mate is someone of a lower caste, I can produce this fact to prove that I am not casteist.

29. If I am a Brahmin and if a case is being heard in the higher judiciary, there is a fair possibility that someone of my caste will be at the bench to hear my case.

30. If I am a Brahmin, I will find it easy to publish my thesis in an academic journal where people of my caste are members of the editorial board.

Rahul Gandhi knows this and wants to embrace the Brahmin brand.


Also read: Here’s when elitism in Congress actually started


The author is a senior journalist.

Check out My543, our comprehensive report card of all Lok Sabha MPs.


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21 COMMENTS

  1. Stupid article. This article seems to have been written by a hate mongering rabid casteist who is still living in a different world imagining the non existent brahminism. He is spewing venom on a community that comprises less than five percent of our population. He appears to be s fit case for mental pervertness. He is sick. Mr Mandal…. Constitution governs us and not Brahminical code.

  2. How can the print publish such deeply prejudiced article? There is not a single political party which Brahmins can claim to be their own. We are at political periphery. We were persecuted from Tamilnadu after Periyarist movement. There is affirmative action for other castes,what have we done to do away with reservation system. Obviously we youth oppose it because it does no favour to us ,we are humans not god. In urban India no one asks caste while renting a room. Brahmins used to learn classical music, obviously we will be well presented there. If I may pass a casteist slur,writer is a Yadav and so his judgement is prejudiced.

  3. Cant believe that this idiot inciting hatred through lies and falsehood is called “senior journalist”. But what else can be expected by a neo-nazi website run by Shekhar Gupta, who has never wasted any opportunity to instigate caste hatred in the society just to appear as “politically correct”.

  4. His grandfather was a Muslim; his mother a Christian and his daddy a hybrid of Hindu-Muslim. So he cannot be a Brahmin by birth. Of course, the argument that he can be one by action and thought might be true, but he does not make the grade in that respect too.

    Also, being a Brahmin by caste in modern India is a challenge, starting from their schooling days. Thanks to the private sector, they have found a new lease of life.

    Rahul Gandhi is a Brahmin? A donkey cannot become a horse even if it looks like one or wants to be one.

  5. Congress had played such games in the past very successfully to fool Indians. Religion belief is so blind in India that on a name of religions, scam artist like Rahul can easily fool Indian. This article is also to fool Indian. The author did not dig into the fake side of Rahul’s claim because he is a bought media reporter. If he done some research, He could have find the truth. In the entire world, there is no family or last name “Nehru” Rahul’s great grand father was not a brahim. In addition, Rahul grand father was Feroz Khan, It is well known fact that the last name was changed to ” Gandhi” to again fool Indians. Indian are the only people in the world practice human worshiping.
    Author did not realize that Indians are getting smarter. This is a “google” world. He should have done little research before agreeing with Rahul fake brahmin claim.

  6. 1.If u are a brahmin u are abused on social media.
    2.If u are a brahmin u will be blamed by all other without doing any crime.
    3.If u r brahmin u have to score at least double marks in the all exams
    4.If u r brahmins u had opened a company overthere no body had asked questions while giving job about caste.
    5.If u r brahmins u will be killed then death will become the topic of mockery.
    6.If u r brahmins u had lost ur life of saving dalit leader like mayawati.
    But no worry if all are criticizing u then u will more power full successful…(these are the word of non-brahmins.

  7. Usual stuff – another attempt by the west and its agencies to defame a great tradition of this world. I hope Indians wake up and see the conspiracy behind attacking brahmins under one pretext or the other. For details please read excellent books written by Rajiv Malhotra -Breaking India, Battle for Sanskrit. Also please follow and subscribe to swarajya magazine who are just beginning to chase the rascals sponsored by the church.

  8. I do not deny that Brahmin privileges may exist in Indian society, but the writer is way off the mark with nearly all of them. my thoughts are the following: they are enumerated in response to the particular points of privilege the writer makes.
    1 The ‘ji’ suffix is not specifically for brahmins and in 2018 being brahmin alone does not necessarily garner respect all over the country. In Communist, Periyarist and Jihadist dominated parts of the country this respect is not necessarily forthcoming.
    2 What is public accommodation? If this means government owned bungalows, hostels etc I don’t think caste plays any role in the allocation of these, one’s network and closeness to politicians might do so. I don’t think any hotels in India ask their customers for their caste, race or religion. I think the author copy pasted this point from some western work about white privilege
    3 What public places are these? Is the author hinting at some temple? I have read news about some temples in some corner of India not allowing people from certain castes which is terrible. But, public places is a very misleading term which could lead reader who does not know better to believe that Brahmins have special accesses to train stations, playgrounds and all such public places.
    4 A clear reference to vegetarianism. Asking for food at a restaurant enhances one’s status though? In my observation, vegetarians are made fun of (I am guilty of doing that myself). Veganism which has come from the west though is the cool thing in the urban areas and certainly is not a practice restricted to Brahmins.
    5 This has to be the exact opposite of what the truth is. Unless one finds that a fellow passenger is of the same tribe that one belongs to they are not pleased.
    6 Matrimonial sites are not like twitter where random trolls attack you. They are castist enough to automatically match you to the caste you fill in but then again they have to give their customers what they ask for.
    7 This may be true but given that most University professors are liberal leftist and thereby should be able to look past your caste. Plus there are quotas to ensure that all of them can never be brahmins.
    8 This seems like a tall claim. Is there any research to back this. It is simply not possible for all books, text or even those prescribed to have brahminical cultural leanings. Brahmins in India diverse too and their so-called cultural leanings will be different in different geographies. Plus who reads books nowadays anyway?
    9 Now, this claim is from a parallel universe. If you picked up a history book in the 90s or 00s one would have believed that all Indians were Buddhists between the years 500BCE and 700CE and most of what Indian culture is today came into existence under Mughal rule. There are many aspects of culture whether in the classical or folk form which has nothing to do with brahmins.
    10 Is the writer claiming brahmins get free accommodation at Hindu holy places? If yes, then it’s utter nonsense. Again if you have to money to pay for a room and there is a commercial hotel with vacancy you can live there irrespective of your caste.
    11 Brahmins have had no privilege in America or in Europe, why shouldn’t they get jobs because of whatever policies. And why is this privilege for brahmins in India? And again there is no research proving that any diaspora anywhere is numerically or in any other way, dominated by Brahmins. There are a large number of Sikhs in England and Canada, does that mean that there is Sikh privilege in India?
    12 Who cares about what people living abroad (probably naturalised foreign citizens) think about reservations in India and how is their hypocrisy a privilege for brahmins in India? Can the writer give us examples of individuals who gained from foreign diversity policies and then led or funded an anti-reservation campaign in India?
    13 Are we convicting or condemning people for thought crimes in this country? If not, then not having any negative consequences for thoughts is not a privilege
    14 I personally believe in reservations and affirmative action. However, one does not have to be a casteist to oppose them nor does oppose them make one a casteist. Anyone may hold any opinion, one may picket and protest for or against any issue in a democracy. brahmins do not have any special privileges when it comes to doing any of these
    15 Is there a brahmin mafia running the classical music business like a monopoly? Seems far-fetched to say the least.
    16 Who gives these reservations? I have read Dalits being trained as priests and have been to temples where people belonging to castes other than brahmins are the priests. Hindu priests do not have too much power and privilege left in the society to be honest unless they become god-men and start running their act like a business.
    17 This seriously sounds like a conspiracy theory. This seems to be copied from what the right wingers say about left intellectuals.
    18 Everyone has the freedom to talk about the whole nation. Whether he or she is a scholar or an imbecile should not matter. I don’t think anyone believes a brahmin is a scholar simply because he is a brahmin.
    9 Why should the act of one traitor have a bearing on the people belonging to his or her caste? It’s quite far-fetched to claim that people assume that brahmins are naturally patriotic.
    20 This literally doesn’t mean anything
    21 Finally, a point that I agree to partially! Brahmins are indeed over-represented in high positions in the private sector given their proportion of the population according to some reports that I have read. However, that does not make the job-seeker a casteist. If the person responsible for hiring hires a candidate just for his caste then he or she is indeed a casteist. The interesting thing to do here is to find out why Brahmins are so over-represented in these positions in the private sector. I believe it has something to with their ancestors had worked as administrators in various kingdoms and empires in the last millennium, which going strictly be the religious texts is not their duty according to the caste system. However, instead of complaining about their privilege, some social engineering could be done for the upliftment of other castes through these learnings.
    22 You don’t need to be a Brahmin for that. Furthermore, it’s not a privilege if you don’t gain power, prestige or money because being declared a humanist.
    23 Not true.
    24 Could be true. Is there any evidence that they are pushing brahmin agendas though? They seem to be shouting about whatever is sensational.
    25 Even if this was accurate, isn’t what those opinion pieces and books say more important than who wrote them anyway.
    26 This takes the cake. The writer is adding to a century-old narrative that brahmins have done a heinous act of creating undue privileges for themselves and thereby subjugating most of the country and then he is claiming that no heinous act is ever attributed to their caste
    27 No these are not sufficient be caste-neutral but nobody would believe they are in 2018
    28 What does the writer mean by “fact to prove”? Prove where? Does he think that if anyone is booked under the Atrocities Act the judge is going to admit this as evidence?
    29 Is the writer claiming that the Indian judiciary is biased towards brahmins? It was set by the British and follows that Anglo-Saxon model of law and judicial procedures. I doubt brahmins have any privilege there.
    30 I don’t know much about this. But even if this was entirely true then it would still mean I agree with one and a half out of 30 of his points. This means that of all the privileges that the author claims brahmins in India enjoy I admit five per cent may be true, which interestingly is the approximate percentage of the country’s population they constitute.
    To compare brahmin privilege with white privilege in the west would be to do a disservice to the minorities in those countries. In the past brahmins may have enjoyed great and undue privileges but they have eroded with time. Even if we look at it from a pure Marxian lense, they do not control all the factors of production. The brahmins may certainly be doing better on all socio-economic trends but then we must ask ourselves whether we want a bloody revolution and complete redistribution of wealth or a gradual but peaceful transition to an equitable society. If the answer is later then the writer is doing a great disservice to the course by creating unnecessary faux narratives. It is quite difficult to believe that the writer has gone off to such a tangent based on Rahul Gandhi’s decision to flaunt his brahminness

  9. This statement really takes the cake!!!!
    It would appear, Mr Rahul Gandhi, is either unaware or does not seem to want to know the following.
    His grandfather, Mr Feroze Khan, was a Muslim. He became a “GANDHI” at the insistence of his great-grandfather Mr J. Nehru. Who, I am informed did not relish the idea of having a Muslim son-in-law.Ergo, since Muslim genealogy which is “patriarchial”dictates that, any off spring must be Muslims.
    Therefore, it goes without saying, Mr Rahul Gandhi, is a Muslim. This matter is now further made murkier. When his father Rajiv Gandhi, married Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who was/is a devout Roman Catholic, the Catholic Church, does not sanction inter-caste/inter racial marriages. Even when it does, it extracts a very heavy price. All offspring, MUST repeat MUST be brought up in the Roman Catholics faith.
    Now what faith does he profess to accept??
    Becoming a BRAHMIN overnight is next to impossible. One has to be born into a Brahmin family, with both Parents being Brahmin!!!!!
    Personally, I, think these election ploys, should be avoided and one must learn to be true to oneself!!!
    Now Mr Gandhi, what you propose to claim to be????

  10. How can Rahul be a Brahmin when his paternal grandfather is a Parsi or perhaps a Muslim? Is Indian media so fricking dumb & scared to challenge the Gandhi family’s bogus claims on lineage?

  11. I have been discriminated and persecuted all my life for my Brahmana surname “Aiyer” in education, court cases and Public Service employment. Perhaps Raoul wants the same?

  12. 31. My corruption is less heinous than others. Also it will be less of a focus in media as compared to other caste’s corruption.(Read Shekhar Gupta’s article)
    32.When I am a victim the police/administration/legislature/judiciary/media work at thrice the speed.(UP Police encounter case)
    33.My statues are more valuable and necessary than statues of lower caste/minority/female heroes. (Ram statue)
    34.Use of term “Islamic terrorism” is ok but “Brahmanical patriarchy” and “Hindu terrorism” is not. (Twitter controversy)

    • Ram was kshtriya,the victim in up encounter case was an apple employee along with being a Brahmin. Why is so much hate? Brahmins are already at political periphery, affirmative actions are in this country for 70 years. We obviously are not as powerful as depicted in media. There is no need for making an analogy of white privilege in indian perspective. If state does not support Brahmins,how are we privileged?

  13. It is not really relevant, but Rahul Gandhi is not a brahmin, since only his maternal great grandfather was a brahmin. He is a Parsee, since his grandfather was Firoze Gandhi. Beyond that, this author is the only one in the world to think that Brahmins are previleged. Hunted and driven out of Tamil Nadu by the various Kazhagams and, in the rest of the country, by the Mandalist nonsense, they
    are the poor caste these days. If RG is trying to claim to be a Brahmin, it is a miscalculation to garner a few votes. He is bound to fail and that is good!

  14. How stupid is that… Father Gandhi, Mother Maino….. where does he become a Kaul from and that too a Brahmin,…… succumbed to pressures of Hindu Lobbyist…

  15. The author does not mention the contrast between Brahmins in Indian society and those castes who are caught in between Brahmin and downtrodden section but are shudras who do not have reservations or privileges such as Marathas, Patidars, Reddy, Kamma, Vokkaliga, Lingayats etc. This section is acted against by both extremes, forms the bulk of middle class, buttresses the Hindu religious morality prescribed by Brahmins in their daily lives, form the bulk of the nation’s population as well as productivity in real terms rather than abstract, belong to all ideologies etc.

  16. All such things like caste, goutra etc should have been left behind long ago, and we as a nation should have been looking forward to justify our own “vasudha-eiv-kutumbakam” slogan. Instead, we are rediscovering these constricting concepts even now to alienate ourselves from our own countrymen.

    Manuvadi ideologies have kept this retrograde thinking alive, and spearheading this thinking is RSS and its affiliates like the BJP. RSS should be rechristened as:

    “RETROGRADE Sewak Sangh”. Which would mean, “a Singh of all the sewaks of retrograde thinking.” Which is what they are.

  17. One more reason, with your permission:

    “If I am a Brahmin, I can seek to attract the Hindu votes that Congress worked hard all these years to alienate by pampering and appeasing Muslims. As for Muslims, others like Owaisi, Maya, Akhilesh et al have already disillusioned them about me, and they have seen through the Congress game of the past 70 years. Better to cast the net wider now and catch some Hindu votes.”

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