Rony wrote:By Rakesh Krishnan Simha who usually writes on defense and foreign affairs. He is a Hindutva leaning Thiyya from Kerala. In south Kerala, i believe Thiyyas are also called Ezhavas like he mentions . They are the backbone caste of Kerala Commies. Commie Pinarayi Vijayan for one is a Ezhava. So is the Hindu spiritual leader and social reformer Narayana Guru.Hindus should learn from the mistakes of their ancestors. If you treat the lower classes without respect, some of them will convert. For 800 years, my Thiyya community was considered avarna, that is outside the pale of Hinduism. We did not care because we had our own temples, gurus, forts, private armies, and the kings relied on us during wars when our Chekavars (kamikazi soldiers) would spread terror in the enemy camps.
The British gave us respect which our own countrymen did not. Think about that. Similarly, in Maharashtra, the Mahars joined the British Indian Army. Which Indian king would recruit them as soldiers?
Partial knowledge of history can be dangerous. It is true that the Mahar's served in the EIC and later British armies. But it is equally true that they served in Maratha armies as well.
https://web.archive.org/web/20051102115 ... e.art.html
Military service provided Mahars with the opportunity to move beyond their traditional social position in the village. In fact, the Mahar tradition of being in armies precedes the British Raj.
The recorded history of the Mahars' military achievements dates back to Shivaji's Army in the 1600s. Cynthia Enloe, a noted sociologist who has written extensively on ethnic-military relationships, states, "The best of all militaries in the eyes of a state elite is one in which the most competent soldiers are also the most politically reliable, because they have the greatest stake in the continuation of the current system." The Mahars met this condition according to descriptions of their loyalty. Colonel V. Longer, author of Forefront Forever: The History of the Mahar Regiment, states:
There were a number of useful functions which the Mahars performed. Their Argus eye; their daring tenacity and determination; their faithfulness, loyalty and honesty; their courage and candour, were inestimable qualities which were always held in respect and were for ever utilized to advantage by the village .... In course of time, their voice carried great weight when there were disputes over property as their evidence was considered most accurate, intimate, and trustworthy.
This sense of loyalty and trustworthiness led Shivaji to include Mahars as a vital component of his army.
Shivaji, leader of the Maratha nation, fought for a Hindu empire, but using Untouchables did not bother him. He "found the Mahars useful, for the wily Maratha chief realized that the best way of obtaining the maximum results was to mix up various castes in his garrison forces." He used the Mahars "to watch the jungles at the foot of the hill forts, act as scouts and [they] kept the forts supplied with wood and fodder." This was the first exposure of the Mahars to an organized army that provided its soldiers with steady pay and benefits. After Shivaji's death, Mahar units continued to serve his descendants throughout the 1700s. Their experience with Shivaji and others encouraged them to seek similar employment as sepoys of the British East India Company.
Ardythe Basham, in her detailed examination of the Mahars and the military, found the perceived early martial history to be an important part of Mahar identity. She concludes, "Whether or not these incidents are historically true, they are widely accepted by the Mahars as part of their tradition, and now form part of the official history of [today's] Mahar Regiment." The Mahars have often used this martial identity, rooted in the 1600s, to legitimate their continued presence in the military.
Mahars began their service with the British in the 1750s. Stephen P. Cohen, an expert on the Indian Army, discusses the importance of Mahars in the Bombay Army in his seminal work, The Indian Army: Contribution to the Development of a Nation. He writes that Mahars were
a sizeable portion of the armies of the Mahratta chieftain Shivaji, served as hereditary local policeman, and were thus a "natural" martial class. Heavily recruited in the premutiny years, the Mahars constituted a fifth to a quarter of the entire Bombay Army.
In addition to the size of the Mahar contingent, they were also praised for their conduct as soldiers. The Mahars rewarded the British with the same loyalty that Shivaji had enjoyed