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From Landlords to Software Engineers: Migration and Urbanization among Tamil Brahmans

  • C. J. Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan (a1)

In south India's rapidly expanding information technology (IT) industry, the small, traditional elite of Tamil Brahmans is disproportionately well represented. Actually, no figures to confirm this assertion exist, but all the circumstantial evidence suggests that it is true, especially among the IT professionals and software engineers employed by the leading software and services companies in Chennai (Madras).1 Since the nineteenth century, Tamil Brahmans have successfully entered several new fields of modern professional employment, particularly administration, law, and teaching, but also engineering, banking, and accountancy. Hence the movement into IT, despite some novel features, has clear precedents. All these professional fields require academic qualifications, mostly at a higher level, and the Brahmans' success is seemingly explained by their standards of modern education, which reflect their caste traditions of learning.2

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