Professions & Communities

INDIAN COMMUNITIES

In the theatre of development, the competitiveness and growth of an economy is determined by its capacity to acquire and apply new knowledge. In a rapidly globalizing world, learning new ways of doing things depends in no small measure on the ability to integrate with the larger world outside. We live in a world in which the free movement of goods and capital across borders is seen as a virtue. Arguably, it is seen to reinforce the principle of competitive advantage and help spur savings, investment and demand. What is less recognized is that International migration of human capital: the movement of knowledge, talent and skills across borders is central to learning and development.

The emergence of significant Diasporas has in recent years brought into sharp focus two key facts. First, there is a large expatriate population of skilled people from emerging economies in the developed world. Second, overseas communities can constitute a significant resource for the development of the countries of origin. The movement of the high skilled and low skilled workers from less to more developed economies and back opens several new opportunities for development. To view the Diaspora only through the looking glass of remittances and financial flows is to take a myopic view. Not all expatriates need to be investors and their development impact measured only in terms of financial contributions to the home country.

COMMUNITY AND PROFESSIONAL TERMINOLOGY

ARHATIYA

In UP a purchaser who purchases goods from a dealer and sells them in the market for a profit. A trader.

BADHWAR

A village watchman (Bengali).

BHUTIYA

An inhabitant of Tibet or Bhutan.

BIHISTI

Water carrier, one who sprinkles roads with water from a goatskin bag to settle the dust.

BUTJ-MAR

(Hindi) a tenant who has cleared the land (buti – bush, marna -to destroy, kill).

CUTCHI MEMONS

A community from Kutch, Gujarat.

DUTI

A female messenger who tactfully mediates between a man and a woman to unite them in love, often addressed as ‘sakhi’ (friend) in songs and literature. The Kama Sutra (See Literature) allots a full chapter on how the duti should go about her job.

The sakhi of jay ad eva’s Gila Govinda is one of the best examples of a duti.

GHAUS

(Arabic). The holiest type of fakir (Muslim ascetic). Common tradition had it that so intense was a G ha us’ devotion that his head and limbs fell away when he prayed.

HAKIM

(Arabic) a sage, a physician. A governor, a judge, a Muslim magistrate of yore, commander, ruler, master. Once the title of the governing authority in a province.

HUSAINI BRAHMINS

A community of fakirs of the Beshara order. Its people follow the Atharva Veda, but adopt all the doctrines of Islam that are not contrary to it. The men dress like Muslims, the women like Hindus. Their customs are mostly Muslim. They observe the Ramzan fast but wearthe tilaka. Their patron saint is Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer. They practise astrology and palmistry (See Festivals; Religion: Hinduism, Islam – Sufis; Sages and Saints).

JAH

A Muslim title of very high rank such as Mukarramjah, the present official heir of the former Nizam of Hyderabad.

KAKAR

A surname amongst Punjabi Hindus. Also the name of a Pathan tribe, divided into seven independant clans, engaged in cattle grazing, agriculture and trade.

KAYASTHA

A most progressive and respectable community found mainly in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh of mixed Kshatriya and Vaishya descent. They claim mythical descent from Chitragupta, a divinity attached to Yama, Lord of Death, who tallies the good and bad deeds of men. Traditionally scribes and accountants, Kayasthas have always laid emphasis on education and are now in several professions.

KHAIKAR

In the Kumaon hills, a cultivator, one who wields the plough.

NAGARAKA

A sophisticated urban citizen (from nagar or city) who enjoys the pleasures of life. The Kama Sutra portrays him as a lover of arts who generally leads a hedonistic life.

NAMBOODIRI

High caste Brahmin community ofKerala. Highly conservative, the close-knit community decreed that only the eldest son of a family should marry another Namboodiri. The rest had to perforce marry outside. The Namboodiris are dwindling in numbers.

NARI

Woman.

NOKMA

Village headman of the Garo tribe. Nokrnaship is recognised by the government. This is not an elective post. The village land is vested in the hands of one family and the youngest daughter of the family claims ownership. Her husband is normally accepted as the Nokma.

OKKALIGA

Or Vokkaliga. In Kannada a cultivator, farmer, tenant of the soil, an inhabitant.

PANDA

Or tirthaguru, is a Brahmin who resides in one of the holy places and performs rituals for the various pilgrims. He also acts as a local tourist guide, taking the visitors around the temples, ponds and other sacred places and explaining to them their significance for which he is paid a generous fee (dakshina),

PANI

An ancient trading community of India. They were a prosperous people owning cattle, land and ornaments. They lived in fortified houses and were sea traders who sailed the Arabian sea. The Panis find frequent mention in the Rig Veda in the form of a dialogue between Pani and Sarma. They are believed to be enemies of Vedic literature and described as non-believers and anti- yajna, There is a school that believes Panis were the pre-Aryan or first inhabitants of India.

PANIKKER

An instructor in the use of weapons and arms and military exercises, a teacher of gymnastics in Kerala.

RAJPUT

Lit. the son of a king, a name used by the warrior clans of north-west India, who swept into the subcontinent from central Asia after the death of Harsha Vardhana of Thaneswar (670 AD) and, with the help of the priestly class, appropriated descent from the ancient dynasties of the Sun and Moon (the Suryavanshi and Chandravanshi tribes) or from the sacred fire kindled on Mt. Abu by the sage Agasrya (Agnikula or clan of fire). From these, 36 primary Rajput clans claim origin.

REDDY

(Telugu). The principal caste of cultivators in Telengana, part of Andhra Pradesh; a chief farmer or cultivator. The headman of a village in that area is a Pedda Reddi or senior Reddy.

SADHU

A wandering ascetic or mendicant moving in search of supernatural powers, Siddhi (magical-spiritual powers) orGod. Sadhus are found in holy cities or in high mountains doing penance. They are governed by various cults and its tenets. They are both respected and feared by people for they are believed to both curse and bless with the aid of their acquired miraculous powers.

SIDIS

Of African origin, they came by sea to India in late medieval times and are still found as a distinct racial group in Gujarat. In the 17th century they controlled ports like janjira and fought Shivaji’s admiral Kanhoji Angre. They are followers of Islam.

TOPAS

A now obsolete term for an Indian Christian, born of a Portuguese father and Indian mother in south India. In the early history of the East India Company, such people were enlisted extensively as soldiers and so the term was applied generally to the Company’s Indian soldiers in peninsular India.

UPADHYAYA

A teacher a preceptor, who makes a living by teaching the Vedas, Vedangasand other subjects. The family priest who presides over rituals is called Upadhyaya.

YATI

A bikshu, an ascetic who has totally renounced worldliness and is completely withdrawn from material affairs.