Will India and Pakistan Learn from the Historic Korea Summit?

The gradual process of mending ties through sports, cultural exchanges and the historic meet presents a lesson for several sparring countries across the world. This is particularly true for India and Pakistan, as the South Asian neighbours were also partitioned from one region and share a historical, socio-cultural and linguistic inheritance, as the two Koreas do.

So the question remains of whether India and Pakistan be rid of their adamant attitudes and restart the athletic and cultural exchanges that have been on pause for years. This is a lesson they could take from the historic meeting in the Korean peninsula, which has witnessed much more violence and bloodshed than the Indian subcontinent in the last six decades. Over 12 lakh people are estimated to have been killed in the Korean War, as compared to over a lakh in the Kashmir conflict, the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan.

Will India and Pakistan Learn from the Historic Korea Summit?

My quibble is that the two Koreas are more akin to the two Punjabs or Bengals than they are to Indo-Pak.

India and Pakistan now have very different national traditions where the modern states are built on a rivalry with one another. Pakistan much more so than India but as Kabir says there is far too much blood under the bridge (I’ve butchered that saying) that the best we can hope for is normalised relations.

I don’t know much about Korean history but there is another different; unified Korea is a bit like unified Germany there is one national narrative. But think Anschluss (Austria + Germany) would it be the Catholic Hapsburg or Protestant Prussians (let’s set aside the last example of Anshluss) that would define the hypothetical Germanic state.

Similarly would Indo-Pak reunification be Akhand Bharat or the Mughals resurrected since I imagine no one has the appetite for the Raj.

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115 Replies to “Will India and Pakistan Learn from the Historic Korea Summit?”

  1. The Indo-Pak situation is in no way analogous to that of 2 Koreas . In both sides of Demilitarized zone there is a stromg demand for Reunification and both Koreas realize they are one people. The question is Reunification under what terms ? So far Kim, of the Kim Dynasty who have ruled North Korea from 1949 , would like t to be under his rulership and dynasty and needless to say dictatorship. South Korea has prospered by a mixture of democracy, occasional authoritarianism and a Corporate Capitalism and they are in no hurry to give up these . What divides them is economic and political ideologies ; capitalism on one side and dynastic communism on the other. Indo-pak situation is in no way comparable to this . The religious cum political narratives on both sides are very different and there is no particular yearning among the people at large or political elites for Reunification. The best thing India and Pakistan can hope for is Peace and No Border Conflicts.
    That does not mean India and Pakistan should give up hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough – for example if both India and Pakistan were to announce simultaneously that there will be 2 week No-Questions-Asked Visa for visiting relatives and religious places across the border for any number of people , that would be a diplomatic breakthrough and a real confidence building measure. If Pakistan were to annouce it will rebuild – allow to be rebuilt – lots of Hindu and Sikh places of worship of pre-47 days, that will be a great confidence building measure.

    The pakistani Army has built a narrative that India is about to pounce on Pakistan since India presumable did not “accept” 2 nation theory . Nothing can be further from truth. India has enough problems of it’s own, last thing it wants is to ‘undo’ Partition – that too by military means.

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    1. If I may jump into the partition discussion and whataboutary.

      ” …for example if both India and Pakistan were to announce simultaneously that there will be 2 week No-Questions-Asked Visa for visiting relatives and religious places across the border for any number of people …”

      In a well thought out division, such a thing should have been a precondition. Even in the most contested divorces in U.S. the other spouse and both sets of grand parents have visiting rights to the children.

      In Indo-Pak situation “…there is no particular yearning among the people at large or political elites for Reunification.”

      The political elite of Pakistan were smart enough to realize that one day the vast number of masses would yearn for unification as it happened in east and west Germany and presently the N. and S. Koreas. They started this propaganda war that India is going to undo the partition for the last 70 years and were successful in creating a psychosis of sorts. As you have mentioned and all through my existence post independence, I never felt the undoing of partition by military means sentiment on the Indian side.

      You are on the mark in your other points as well. It is important we discuss all aspects of partition, thanks to the internet. Soon the partition generation will pass away. In ten years or so we will have a generation who would assume India and Pakistan were two separate entities like Sri Lanka and India. With regards.

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      1. I don’t think anyone in Pakistan yearns for “reunification”. There was never one entity, except that created by the British which was called “British India”. Before that, there was the Mughal Empire, but that didn’t even include all parts of what is today the Republic of India. It’s been 70 years, let’s please move on. There are now three independent nation states carved out of various parts of “British India”. Pakistanis want to rule ourselves from Islamabad, Indians want to rule themselves from Delhi and Bangladeshis want to rule themselves from Dhaka. That is the reality.

        This is not to say that Punjabis on both sides of Wagah don’t feel some affinity with each other. I would guess Bengalis on both sides of the India-Bangladesh border also feel some affinity for each other. I doubt the average Pashtun in Peshawar really feels anything for a UPite. Maybe I’m wrong.

        The Berlin Wall between East and West Germany ultimately came down because the masses broke it down. Somehow, I don’t see crowds rushing to Wagah to undo the Radcliffe Line.

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        1. Bangladeshis want to rule themselves from Dhaka

          HAHA! No, but we’ll settle compared to the other options.

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          1. Where do you want to be governed from if not your national capital, Dhaka? Calcutta is in India and you aren’t going to get hold of it. I believe it was Congress’s refusal to part with Calcutta that killed the whole “United Bengal” as a third dominion idea.

            I would be interested in your comments on my book review of Tahmima Anam’s “A Golden Age”. It was posted on BP earlier this week and is probably on the second page now.

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  2. Kabir: “I would guess Bengalis on both sides of the India-Bangladesh border also feel some affinity for each other.”

    You are correct in that the show of affinity may be happening already. According to Wiki, the percentage of religious minorities in W. Bengal is around 25% and they are a majority in the bordering districts.

    I have similar thoughts on Badsha Khan and Pashtuns in Peshawar or Mohajirs who wish to get back to Bihar. But I do not want this to devolve into something else. 🙂

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          1. I expect lot of Bengal gram to be grown in Green Bengal.*

            *In Madras chana dal is referred to as Bengal gram. 🙂

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          2. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the President of the All-India Muslim League and later Founding Father of Pakistan, showed his support for the proposal along with Mahatma Gandhi, but the Indian National Congress aggressively opposed it. Muhammad Ali Jinnah who saw it for the benefits for Bengali Muslims.:285[6] Jinnah viewed this plan in a long term geostrategic point in believing that independent Bengal led by Muslim premier would forged a closer alliance with Pakistan than it would with India.:285[6]:6-7[7

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Bengal

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        1. Doesn’t this reflect the laxness of India’s immigration policy (or the inability to enforce its immigration policy) rather than any deep desire for “reunification”?

          Anyway, Muslims from Pakistani Punjab are not moving to Indian Punjab. Out of the 200 million people in Pakistan, there is probably a tiny minority that longs for “united India” or British India. Most of us are quite OK with having a place where we live according to Islam and our own culture.

          Korea actually was one country. Germany actually was one country. “British India” was an Empire and the Empire broke up into different pieces upon decolonization. I don’t think that is that strange.

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          1. At least on the Bengal side amongst younger generations, I don’t see a tremendous amount of support for the idea of a “United Bengal”. Plus I think it would basically be a disaster economically since the political difference between the two sides is so great. Even the things that create friction internally [in terms of industry, political/financial backing groups etc.] are different.

            Mainly it is a large portion of Hindu Bengalis who have immigrated from East to West [or those with family originating from there e.g. Amartya Sen types], who are fond of the collective. Plus there’s a whole thing in India of being petrified of showing affinity for the “enemy” [in some sense]. Indian Bengalis don’t join the military in large numbers like Punjabis so it’s not as easy dismissing “anti-patriot” jibes.

            A key difference is that there isn’t as much rancour on the “Eastern front” as there is on the Western, so that what looks like relative stability should not be mistaken for kinship overall.

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    1. hoipolloi, my estimate is that today about a third of West Bengal is muslim . . . maybe more.

      On the Indian side the older generation still views the typical Pakistani and Bangladeshi villager with affection and regards them to be the same as Indians. My guess is that Teenage and twenty something Indians regard Bangadeshis and Pakistanis as poor people and don’t want Indian taxpayer rupees going toward nation building Bangladesh and Pakistan; and as a result oppose reunification. Similar to Trumpianism.

      Kabir, how many Pakistani minorities would quietly support reunification with India? Perhaps similar to economic reunification approximating the EU with Pakistan retaining full independence in foreign policy, defense policy and domestic policy?

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      1. The EU only “works” such as it does because the countries have agreed on one set of laws and harmonized their foreign policy somewhat. EU laws supersede national laws in some situations (I believe). EU states are mostly all secular states.

        This is not going to work between an “Islamic Republic” and a majority-Hindu state. Especially two states that claim the same piece of territory as their own. Who does Kashmir belong to is a fundamental question that must be solved before any kind of “reunification” can occur.

        In my opinion, there is nothing to “reunite”. British India broke up into two independent entities: Bharat and Pakistan. Pakistan then broke up into two entities: Pakistan and Bangladesh. Somehow, I don’t see a massive appetite to undo this.

        As a Pakistani, I certainly do not want to become an Indian and become a Muslim minority in a Hindu country. I would like to visit India but “home” is my 97% Muslim country. I was born in the 198os after Pakistan had already existed for 40 years. I come from a family that largely likes Indian culture (and Hindustani music and Bharatanatyam). Most of my fellow countrymen are much more Muslim and bridle at the sign of anything Hindu. No one wants to “reunite” with a country full of Hindus.

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  3. I had an incident 2 years ago, when I was working in Basel. In the bus I saw someone who I thought may be Tamil. I approached him and started a conversation. He said he was born in United India before 47 in the area called Pakistan now. He resolutely identified himself as an Indian and does not consider himself Pakistani.

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        1. Ethnicity is not personal life when someone is making such a statement.
          My wife’s Bua is born in Pakistan 1948/1949 but like most Sindhi Hindus left for India (in their case Chennai).

          Technically she could make the exact same statement .. but of course the context is different.

          Also Pakistanis have a propensity for hyperbole so they will make extravagant claims (Partition was a disaster; should have stayed Indian) but then happily socialise only with Pakistanis and stay in a Muslim sphere.

          I’m just providing context that what people say, do & believe are entirely different things..

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          1. Possible. I can’t remember the exact conversation , but the feeling with me is that he is a Muslim from Pakistan area, while preferred to be identified as Indian. I met him only once.

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          2. So I was at the cinema and I met a desi guy. We both introduced ourselves as Indian in the end we both turned out to be Ahl-e-Zaban / Muhajirs (his mother was a famous Urdu poetess & his father was very senior in the diplomatic corps).

            Pakistanis will sometimes adopt an Indian identity simply to make life easier; the brand name is not all that good these days.

            By the way my friend who introduced himself as an Indian atheist had a run-in later in with my wife for her alleged “Islamophobic” (she had only said that her issue with religion was mainly an issue with Islam).

            That’s for another post another day but anecdotes below the true story. Pakistanis are intensely Pakistani or intensely anti-Pakistani but the level of passion about it is very very high..

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        2. People born before 1947 may consider themselves Indian. Those that considered themselves Pakistani made the choice to move to Pakistan.

          But everyone born since Pakistan was created considers themselves Pakistani. Those who didn’t went and made a new country and now call themselves Bangladeshi.

          “United India” is over. Please let’s move on.

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          1. It’s actually kind of offensive when people act like the existence of Pakistan is a mistake. I don’t think countries have a “right to exist” (Like Israel wants the Palestinians to admit its “right to exist”). But Pakistan does exist. And many of us are totally OK with being Pakistani, even as we recognize that we share a lot of history and culture with North Indians.

            “United India” to me sounds a lot like “Akhand Bharat”. It just rubs me the wrong way. There was an entity called British India and when the British left that entity collapsed. It’s over and done. Move on. Accept that Pakistanis have a separate identity. We can be neighbors with Indians but we are not the same people.

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          2. “What are we?”

            We are Pakistani. Most of us are Muslims. At least half the population is Punjabi and has always belonged to the land known as Pakistan (though many people came from “East Punjab” like parts of my own family). The Muhajirs were never a majority.

            We are ethnically related to Punjabis on the other side. Some of us are ethnically related to UPites. But we are not “Indian”. That India ceased to exist in August 1947. The Republic of India is something else, for which most of us have no affinity.

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          3. I think 50 or 25 years ago the answer would have been very very different. It would have relied on an Indo-Saracenic conception of self.

            However with each passing year Pakistan becomes more rooted in its own soul.

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          4. Zach,

            If you talk to many of our fellow countrymen, they will say they are Muslim first and Pakistani second. General Zia really did a number on us. I find this conception (religion first, nationality second) very problematic because it makes Pakistani Christians, Hindus, Bahais etc “children of a lesser god”.

            But my larger point was that Pakistan has existed for 70 years. These discussions about Partition and “united India” are now just academic. I personally think they are getting a bit repetitive. Surely, we can find some new topics to write about?

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  4. Global boundaries won’t be over anytime soon. What can be hoped for and worthwhile to pursue are:

    Movement of people across borders with least or no restrictions
    Movement of labour across borders
    Movement of capital across borders

    As Leon Trotsky would say productive forces of the world have outgrown the international borders (or words to that effect)

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    1. V.C.Vijayaraghavan, you are correct. But those who believe in Freedom (Sanathana Dharma freedom and economic freedom) can keep aspiring for it. That way the world will be less unfree than it is. Isn’t that still worth something?

      V.C.Vijayaraghavan, do you think that India and Pakistan can start with a free trade, free investment, free cross border business development/product development agreement and then move from there? Free labor will take much longer because of Indian sensitivities over terrorism. But free labor can gradually happen over a long period of time. Obviously Afghanistan and others would be allowed to join.

      Is this at least practical and possible?

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      1. AnAn,
        It is possible and needs long term commitment from subcontinental leaders and a willingness to ride over tremendous odds against it , like the border conflicts (read Kashmir ) . India does not have issues or competing narratives over territory with other south asian countries , including Bangladesh. India – Nepal – Bhutan used to be a free movement area till the 1980s , I don’t know whether any restrictions on movements now. In stages , India can aspire for such relation with other south asian nations . Obviously Pakistan will take much more time. South Asia as one large free trade area would be ideal . There are counter tendencies now , with Pakistan going for Economic co-operation with China i.e investment from China . What will come out this , am not very hopeful for Pakistan as Chinese give large loans at good rates and if a country can’t repay they take over the areas . When Pakistan realizes , while Kashmir may be important for it , it can put it in back burner and do other economic cooperation with India , things can change. The idea is not to be bogged down with one bitter disagreement .After all even India and China have border and other disagreements, but they are willing for trading more . India needs to become economically much stronger to make others join in a free trade.

        European countries used to be at each others throat till 60 years back . Now they have become free trade area and have common and coordinated economic policies. Wise people learn from other’s mistakes instead of taking the hard road of knocks and more knocks.

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    2. Global boundaries won’t be over anytime soon.

      Looking at the very young [16s-18s], I’m not sure that hasn’t happened already. I watch them chat online, they are into the same manga, the same shows, they use the same slang, they talk in almost identical American pop-infused jargon. There has been a great shift in the last 10 years. I think with increasing interconnectivity, it is rather surprising just how fast entire communities can change, and eventually meld into one.

      Bizarrely, I think the culture will be more in sync than the economies, before you see anything like a global collective.

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      1. Which language? A lot of native language resilience will depend on how they react and interact with Americanisation..

        no Roman territory in Western Europe survived Vulgar Latin (except Britain) but no non-Roman territory switched to Vulgar Latin..

        I don’t see which nations will switch to English as a first language that isn’t under some of sort of Anglo political hegemony (either past or present)..

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        1. English, of course. I don’t think received pronunciation is a good guide as to who speaks it.

          These things don’t even occur in fits and starts. There seems to be this slow-paced melding between languages. But the thing is, 50 years ago a cockney talking to a fresh-off-the-boat but educated Indian required some fine tuning.

          These days, I have seen even slum kids have conversations with visiting teenagers of their own generation. And their lingo was the same [albeit in different accents].

          Barring some global catastrophe, I’m not sure how that doesn’t occur on ever broader scales. A holdout would be say China, but even they are forced to take pinyin seriously. If a collective as large, powerful and influential as that is not immune to the global melting pot, then who is? Again, time scales.

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  5. North Korea and South Korea are basically one community, that happen to be separated by a border. I don’t think this is the case with India and Pakistan [or Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives]. Similar ≠ Same, in this case.

    Add to this intensive resource competition, which doesn’t really exist between the two Koreas, and you get a lot more rancour.

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    1. What about to the Bengals & Punjabs; they are one people divided by a common religion.

      In the Punjab though the High Culture is communally divided (Sikhs – Punjabi; Hindus – Hindi; Muslims – Urdu).

      In the Bengal though the raison d’etre for Bangladesh, to some degree, is the Bengal language.

      A United Bengal (+ Assam + Orissa) our of Calcutta / Dhaka would probably have been a much more economically cohesive unit.

      The natural ambit of such a hypothetical state would have been the Seven Sisters & Myanmar.

      A loose British Raj Confederation with Unit C as Shonar Bengal would have made a ton of sense!

      The Indo-Gangetic plain has a political and cultural unity as evidenced by the Ghorid Sultanate – https://instagram.com/p/BiUXSqPHpGh/. Interesting that Kashmir & Bengal were under separate political entities..

      All of us Indian but Indian in different ways.

      Zone A could have been the Hindustani plain (the Ghorid state). Hindustani in two scripts

      Zone B – Greater Bengal + Burma; Bengali speaking

      Zone C – A Dravidian centric entity + Sri Lanka & the Maldives.. possible English speaking

      Of course this is all counterfactual theorising ..

      Like Ludwig Von Mises I see language as the ultimate arbiter to a nation.

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      1. What about to the Bengals & Punjabs; they are one people divided by a common religion.

        The comparison works better if you are restricting it to Punjab and Bengal. But you involved the whole of India. India is significantly more diverse than simply Punjab and Bengal.

        Bangladeshis, sans religion, will have a lot in common with West Bengalis [culture, language etc.]. The same doesn’t apply to Tamils, Punjabis, Ahoms etc. I’ll say tentatively [though a Punjabi can correct me] that the situation is basically very similar for Punjabi Pakistanis. So you are comparing apples to oranges. You cannot strengthen that weak comparison by writing:

        “All of us Indian but Indian in different ways.”

        Koreans have strong links to China, as well. Basically all of their Confucian heritage, a lot of their culture, ethnic ties [to China’s Korean prefecture], and even the early Korean writing system, Hanja. Yet the link between Koreans and China is significantly weaker than that between both Koreas. When we say there is no real separation, we mean that both groups are virtually interchangeable.

        Here still we have to be careful, because we are talking surface differences. I’m pretty sure that the average South Korean, influenced significantly by the West and being rather more economically developed, have a very different mentality than the average North Korean. But from the perspective of language, race, ethnicity etc. they are one and the same.

        Such a strong similarity doesn’t exist when we are talking India scale. I don’t even think it exists in China, though everyone tends to see them as “one collective”.

        In the Bengal though the raison d’etre for Bangladesh, to some degree, is the Bengal language.

        Except the problem is, it turned out to be 90%+ Muslim, so clearly not every Bengali agreed with this interpretation. There’s much acrimony between who got to share power in the United Bengal, let alone the many sub-issues we have [centralization in Dhaka and Calcutta, relationship between the big cities and the grams etc.]. The truth is that as an overall matter, Hindus and Muslims didn’t trust one another completely. As happens with major religious groups.

        A United Bengal (+ Assam + Orissa) our of Calcutta / Dhaka would probably have been a much more economically cohesive unit.

        You’re having a laugh, aren’t you?

        The natural ambit of such a hypothetical state would have been the Seven Sisters & Myanmar.

        Um, you do sort of know what’s happening in those places, don’t you? Leave off Bangladeshis, large tracts of them are none too fond of South Asians in general.

        Which is why I have argued that any actual grouping of “us” as a united nation [India] must be based [at least partially] on RACE. Anything else is frail and will wilt under even mild stress. Of course the rest are not fond of this idea, so enjoy you culture wars for the next 1,000 years.

        Like Ludwig Von Mises I see language as the ultimate arbiter to a nation.

        So you lumped Burma and Bangladesh together as “one unit”? I mean I love it, because you put Bengali as the root language, and after all, that’s the “correct” language. Us South Asians really need to do some conquering and civilizing.

        But yh seriously, I think you might spot a couple of million objections there.

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          1. Any idea what percentage of the population they make, the difficulties of integration [totally excluding any military or political background to this, just talking on a day-to-day], and how this fits in with Burma [a large and rather diverse collection of these types of groups, itself in the middle of a civil war]?

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        1. I haven’t been following this thread (was very busy with a performance today) but I also think it is a little weird to combine Bengal with Burma (Myanmar). The Burmese don’t speak Bengali (as far as I am aware they never spoke Bengali). British India and Burma were one colony for a while but then they were governed separately after a specific point (I don’t recall exactly when that point was). And I don’t think the Burmese like Indians much.

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          1. It went reasonably well. Mostly my own relatives and some of my students. But the main thing is it is done 🙂

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      2. The Indo-Gangetic plain has a political and cultural unity as evidenced by the Ghorid Sultanate

        A question for all the readers → do you feel Iranic peoples [the leader of the Ghorid “Sultanate”] feel the same way in reverse?

        From about the 300s BC to 188 BC we had the Mauryan empire:

        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Maurya_Empire%2C_c.250_BCE_2.png

        A bunch of Indic people conquered lands as far as Afghanistan and Iran. So do Iranic people’s see this as confirmation of their glorious historic link to the South Asian sub-continent?

        If not, then why is the trend so uni-directional? You point out the various sultanates, and their “rule” as being reason enough for South Asians to feel “linked”. Yet these were effectively just foreign invaders, who had strung us along in Empires we were not really a part of. Much like the British Empire, which everyone accepts was “foreign” and a silly reason to stay together. So why is this “Iranic rule” any better?

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          1. “Any” type of nationalism is a “bit odd”. But realistically, race-based nationalism has worked arguably much better than others in the early stages of development [when institutions and legal jurisdiction is not particularly evolved].

            Besides, I am arguing for the concept of India. You sure can’t have religious or ethnic nationalism in the context of India. It wouldn’t even work within the bounds of Hinduism only.

            Religious “nationalism” is the weirdest, “language” nationalism tends to be ethnic nationalism in everything but name, and then you have random nationalism to ideals and institutions [e.g. USA], which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever because why the heck is a person “nationalist” at all about those things? They are universal principles, not to be ensconced in a particular border?

            Besides, this still doesn’t explain why this phenomenon is uni-directional. Why should a South Asian [Indic] be “proud” that his nation was subjugated by foreign invaders, and why should they utilize this subjugation as the mechanism for “unity” amongst the individual ethnic groups?

            And why does the reverse pattern never seem to hold? Iranic peoples never hold up a South Asian invader as some sort of exemplar?

            Surely this is a regional thing. You feel closer to these “invaders” the closer you are to them geographically. But then you are an anomaly, and cannot really speak for the rest of “us”.

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        1. Iran has one-fifteenth the population of India. And that has always been the case. It is much easier for them to forge a cohesive national identity.

          I find this discussion of what makes India a nation sort of pointless. Modern nation states are very different beasts from old empires which were forged by a loose confederation of local feudals swearing fealty (and tribute) to a central authority, but always kept significant political control over local affairs. There was little standardization, economic integration or uniform cultural brainwashing.

          India of today is a extremely integrated unit – from Kargil to Kerala and Gujarat to Jorhat – forged by a strong centralized state, democratic stability, economic growth (and speeding up integration) and an intermingling (and intermarrying) elite.

          The populations of restive areas amount to no more than half a percent of India’s total population. And I am being generous. This is a seriously remarkable achievement compared to India’s fractured political past. Whether Indians (a sixth of all of humanity) speak the same language or not is immaterial. What is material is the degree to which they are willing to fight to defend all 3.3 million sq km of their territory…

          The Lion standard of Sarnath has risen again 🙂

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          1. Iran has one-fifteenth the population of India. And that has always been the case. It is much easier for them to forge a cohesive national identity.

            Burma has 30 million less than Iran. It doesn’t seem to have helped. And no, the problems don’t even begin with Rohingya, I’m talking about the ethnically “similar” populations themselves.

            India of today is a extremely integrated unit

            Institutionally, somewhat. But we are talking about populations. Are they “integrated” the same way the Koreas are? Of course not. And since the comparison was the relationship between India|Pakistan and both Koreas, then we have to admit the scope of relations is by contrast rather limited. It’s fruitless using Korea as an example.

            And this still does not explain why Iranic folks have no wish to associate with any South Asian empire in their midst, whereas the notion that Iranic invaders to the subcontinent somehow gave us a united identity finds traction [amongst South Asians]. No amount of “good governance” or institutional explanations answer that.

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          2. @Butul Miah

            I was comparing populations modulo empires or cohesive political units. Burma/Myanmar had pretty much none until Brits.

            Places like Burma have been civilizational buffer zones, burma being between Indic and Sinic as Afgh is betn Indic and Iranic. Never or rarely part of centralized political systems and too tribal.

            Iran proper was never invaded by Indians. (Well, I lie, it was. Poona Horse and Madras Sappers made short work of Qajar troops in 1850s). But E Afgh was always rather Indic.

            But Iranic not wanting to associate with Indic empires has primarily got to do with religion. Iranics have been thoroughly Islamized over. the one true god and final prophet spiel. They hounded out their own “ateshparast” zoro kin .. now more zoros speak gujarati natively than farsi!

            Kabul and E Afgh generally was part of the Indic world until Ghaznavi. Most of Kabul’s Hindu Shahis decamped to Srinagar and some moved to Rajasthan when Kabul fell to Turks. Indian sources (like Rajtarang) moan of the loss of civilization at the fall of Kabul an order of magnitude more than Ghaznavi’s incursions into Gujarat…

            I recall sitting through a lecture by Rory Stewart (a rare breed of historian-politician in the British mold) on reconstruction in Kabul after fall of taliban. He remarked on the sheer frequency of unearthing old statues of ganesha and shiva nearly under every major reconstruction site in kabul… and of poor afghan labourers preserving them (compared to the loot/destruction of heritage during civil war).

            I believe as Afgh develops the locals will slowly begin to unearth and recognize their Indic heritage that lies just beneath their feet or carved into their mountains. There is no dearth of circumstantial evidence if one is willing to look.

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  6. Nationalism can have many rallying points language, religion, ethnicity, Shared Tradition. Au contraire , a single language or ethnicity or religion , race , etc fail to provide a single national idea.
    We can think of Nationalist feelings in the same level as Race , language, Religious feelings instead of being ‘derived’ from them. The idea of single Jewish Tradition is the basis of Israel even though Israelis belong to different races like Africans, Arabs, Persians, Mongols, etc and have as many mother tongues.
    The relationship between Nation and State is two way. A strong state can arouse feeling of nationalism and loyalty to that state English and French nationalism got a kick start by the formation of strong centralized monarchies in Britain and France. Heyday of nationalism was in the 19th century. In the 20th century hyper nationalism caused destructive wars and brought the world to near apocalypse . That is why countries have agreed to abide by World organizations like UN and partly cede sovereignty from the State to the World order – however tenuous it is.

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    1. I think language and ethnicity tend to be the strongest basis for national consciousness. Benedict Anderson wrote about how the standardization of literary French and literary Italian led to the formation of “imagined communities”. Urdu is supposed to play that role in Pakistan.

      On the other hand, there are many Arabic speaking countries and they are all distinct from each other. Egypt is not the same as Saudi or Jordan. So language is only one factor. But I would tend to agree with Zach that language and ethnicity are the main factors behind national identity. Very few states were explicitly formed on a religious basis (Pakistan and Israel). Religion becomes problematic as a basis of national identity when not all citizens of a state share the same religion. It is certainly very problematic in both Israel and Pakistan.

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      1. Religion failed Pakistan post 1971
        The language factor in the Arabic world also has to be coupled with dynastic and geographic ones.

        Imagine if the Hashemites controlled the Hijaz; the Ummah would be an order of magnitude more liberal!

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        1. Would the Hijaz matter all that much if the Saudis still took the Gulf coast? That’s where all the oil is, and oil money is what gives them the ability to spread their cancer throughout the world.

          Of course, holding the holy cities gives them a lot of prestige, and the ability to influence people going to Mecca or Medina on pilgrimage or for religious study, but would Saudi preachers and printed materials really be so much less common throughout the world if they had oil money but no Hijaz?

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          1. Does it have the same Wahhabi history as the Saudis? They’ve been massacring Shia in the name of God for hundreds of years. Aggressive fundamentalism is the foundation of their regime.

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      2. Israel has no ‘problem’ with Jewish religion; it was founded in order to protect Jews worldwide ; it is doing it’s self-declared job magnificently without let up. Any Jew in the world can migrate to Israel. If any Jews are threatened anywhere , Israel takes all out efforts to bring them to the safety of Israel. Contrast Pakistan – the supposed of ‘Homeland of Muslims’ . By 1950 , any further migration of Muslims from India was banned. 1971 Bangladesh looms large. As a racist twist to 1971, Pakistan refused to take back about 1 million ‘Biharis’ i.e. Urdu speaking Muslims in Bangladesh who stuck their neck out as Pakistanis and fought the emergence of Bangladesh at a great life threatening risk to themselves. Most loyal Pakistanis were given up by Pakistan to the wolves. All this makes one suspect whether Pakistan has a vision or a mission of itself .

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        1. Israel’s problem is not with its Jewish citizens but with its non-Jewish citizens (forget about the people being Occupied in the West Bank and held in the open-air prison called Gaza). Palestinian Citizens of Israel or “Israeli Arabs” as they are called in Israel are distinctly second-class citizens in many important ways. This post is not about Palestine, so I will stop the digression here, but I have done a lot of research on this topic. There is a book called “Citizen Strangers” that you can look up if you are really interested.

          Israel was founded as the homeland for Jews worldwide. Pakistan was specifically a homeland for the Muslims of British India. The fact that India and Pakistan made a treaty in the 1950s regarding immigration and nationality explains why Indian Muslims stopped moving to Pakistan in large numbers. Not that they don’t immigrate even now. I know several young women who lived in India as Indian citizens and then married into Karachi based families (often part of their extended family who had moved at Partition). By virtue of their marriage to a Pakistani man, these women have become Pakistani. If Sania Mirza wanted she can claim Pakistani citizenship even today. She probably has her own legitimate reasons for wanting to retain her Indian passport. But as Shoaib’s wife, she is entitled to Pakistani citizenship.

          1971 remains a shameful aspect of Pakistani history. There is no denying that fact.

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    2. The idea of single Jewish Tradition is the basis of Israel even though Israelis belong to different races like Africans, Arabs, Persians, Mongols, etc and have as many mother tongues.

      Jewish tradition itself is rather diverse; Ashkenazim, Sephardi, Ethiopian. This has caused problems amongst the various groups, with the former being from European stock and traditionally richer and more well-educated, and more likely to be atheist, than the latter.

      It’s doubly bizarre that you use Israel as an example, both because Judaism actually IS a religion, and the standard language is Hebrew. These in the very least partially contradict your point that a SINGLE language or religion “fails” to produce a national consensus. In Israel’s case it very much has succeeded [or in the very least has been intended to].

      Also because Judaism is a religion that [in at least one important way] has a strong racial component. Those born of a Jewish mother are [supposedly] automatically Jews. Hence why we can have people of Jewish “descent” who don’t remotely follow any of the customs or culture of Jewish people. This is also why some Jews in the West who have completely abandoned traditional Judaism go to Israel to see their “roots”. It’s clearly racial in nature, as they have abandoned linguistic, cultural and religious ties ages ago.

      England and France were mono-racial in the 19th centuries, so I don’t see your point there. Sophisticated states that are developed don’t require the same management methods as developing c–pholes.

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        1. No; I just think it explains why South Asians feel an underlying connectedness despite clearly having such heterogeneous cultural, linguistic and religious persuasions. It seems to me a daft thing to attempt to amalgamate this diverse grouping without acknowledging the underlying theme that links them together. Other groups don’t seem to have this problem, so it strikes me as odd that South Asians find it so difficult.

          Perhaps greater phenotypic diversity? Then again, pretty much every other group laughs at us when we explain how “different” we are, and I don’t think they have our respective tabla skills in mind, or the ancient Aryan/Dravidian schism rolling around their craniums. They say, “look at those P–i’s!”

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  7. India was partitioned on basis of religion. Then it had to do with Hinduism being polytheistic and somewhat tolerant. When this ends, you should expect things to break up. Race doesnt explain much. But again, everything in context.

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  8. I think “India” (or South Asia if one prefers) was united by the British and before that by the Mughals. Yes, there was a Gupta Empire but between that and the Delhi Sultanate, the subcontinent was just a collection of various princely states and not one “nation” as such. The Mughals were the most important pan-Indian Empire and it was effectively “Hindustan” that became British India.

    There is no reason that North India and South India (using both terms loosely) could not have become independent nations in 1947. It’s just that the logic of Partition was based on religion so it was the Muslim parts that broke away. That wasn’t inevitable. I understand even now some (if not many) South Indians really do not like North Indians. Of course, since I am a Pakistani, this is not my headache.

    There is no natural reason for one nation to exist with a population of 1.5 billion people. Yes, there is China. But I don’t know enough about Chinese History (and it is not an issue that I am intellectually very interested in) to understand how such a large landmass has been kept together for so long.

    And this is not some Pakistani pride or anti-Indian feeling. There is no reason why at least 4 nations can’t be carved out of what is today Pakistan. Punjab with 110 million people could easily be a country on its own.

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      1. Punjab would be landlocked. Perhaps Punjab and Sindh could be a viable country, keeping the commercial capital (Karachi), the cultural capital (Lahore) and the national capital (Islamabad).

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        1. And then PAK would have a vulnerable flank to the North West. The age old problem of the Subcontinent – invaders have always come from the North West (except for the Brits and the Munda).

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          1. I don’t know. I sometimes think the people of KPK have more in common with their Afghan brothers than they do with “Indic” Punjabis and Sindhis.

            Peshawar was conquered from the Afghans by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and when the British took over the Sikh Kingdom they took over Peshawar as well. At some point, they separated it from Punjab and made the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) which only recently got its name changed to KPK.

            Of course, this is entirely a theoretical discussion, since Pakistan’s borders aren’t changing anytime soon.

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          2. What’s not true?

            Ranjit Singh conquered Peshawar

            “Until 1818, Peshawar was controlled by Afghanistan, but was invaded by the Sikh Empire of Punjab. The arrival of a party led by British explorer and former agent of the East India Company, William Moorcroft was seen as an advantage, both in dealings with Kabul and for protection against the Sikhs of Lahore. Moorcroft continued to Kabul in the company of Peshawari horses and thence to the Hindu Kush.[22] In 1818, Peshawar was captured by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and paid a nominal tribute until it was finally annexed in 1834 by the Sikhs, after which the city fell into steep decline. Many of Peshawar’s famous Mosques and gardens were destroyed by the Sikhs at this time. An Italian was appointed by the Sikhs as administrator. Acting on behalf of the Sikhs, Paolo Avitabile, unleashed a reign of fear – his time in Peshawar is known as a time of “gallows and gibbets.” The city’s famous Mahabat Khan, built in 1630 in the Jeweler’s Bazaar, was badly damaged and desecrated by the Sikh conquerors.[14]

            The Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh and Gurdwara Bhai Beeba Singh were constructed in the city by Hari Singh Nalwa to accommodate the influx of Sikh immigrants from the Punjab.[23] While the city’s Sikh population drastically declined after the partition of India, Peshawar’s Sikh community has re-established itself, bolstered by Sikh refugees and by approximately 4,000 refugees from the Tribal Areas;[24] in 2008, the largest Sikh population in Pakistan was located in Peshawar.[25] Sikhs in Peshawar self-identify as Pashtuns and speak Hindko and Pashto as their mother tongues.[26]
            Afghan attempts to reconquer Peshawar

            An 1835 attempt to re-occupy the city by the Afghan Emir Dost Mohammad Barakzai failed when his army declined to engage in combat with the Dal Khalsa. However Barakzai’s son, Wazir Akbar Khan, succeeded in regaining control of the city in the Battle of Jamrud of 1837. Following this, Peshawar was annexed by the British East India Company after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the Second Anglo-Sikh War of 1849″
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Peshawar

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  9. @kabir, there were many empires that had held over large territory, kushans, harshavardhan, Palas.

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    1. These were all before the Delhi Sultanate and no one united most of “India” the way the Mughals and the British did.

      The point is your nation-state is just as contingent as any other nation-state. There is nothing sacred about “Bharat Mata’s” current borders.

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        1. I know that India as an idea has existed since time immemorial. What I am saying is that the borders of the current nation-state are contingent. So this charge that the Muslims “vivisected Bharat Mata” is frankly just a-historical and annoying. We couldn’t reach a compromise, so we made our own country. Get over it.

          The borders of all nation-states are contingent on accidents of history. India is not unique in this regard.

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          1. I am just bringing in facts, this mughal , british trope was unnecessary. Now that you did, There is difference between nation state and civilizational state. Jinnah spoke of two different civilizations/nations. More importantly it creates legitimate reason for distrust of Islam. Does change in religious demography not imply change in attitudes towards constitution and rights of others? . Asking for larger share of seats than the % population isnt a compromise, its sure intent was to collapse any hope for meaningful compromise.

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          2. Asking for weighted representation as a protection from being a perpetual minority in a Hindu-dominated country doesn’t sound that unreasonable to me. But obviously INC thought it was and that is why we have Pakistan.

            The Mughals were the most important Pan-Indian Empire. This is not a debate. Even today, the PM of a Hindu country makes his Independence Day speech from the Lal Kila–the seat of Muslim and Mughal power. Does that not seem weird to you?

            If you are serious about disowning the Mughals and all that they stand for, please send the Lal Kila over to Pakistan. We’d be perfectly happy to claim it.

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      1. Kabir, didn’t Chandra Gupta Maurya unite India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of eastern Iran?

        When the Persian empire ruled much of what was then eastern Hindustan/Bharat; the Persians did so as fellow Arya people. A large percentage of the Persian army that invaded Greece circa 500 BC [I am suspicious that this historic event happened earlier than that] were Bharatiya/Hindustani/Sanathana Dharma soldiers. Many different Hindustani countries had contingents inside the Persian army. The old empires were similar to confederations or alliances where local countries inside the empire had autonomy and influence within the empire. Often a country would willingly join an empire because of the benefits they thought they could accrue from said empire.

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          1. Agreed Zachary. It bears remembering that when muslim islamists invaded they did not do so as fellow Arya people. It wasn’t as if several Hindustani/Bharatiya countries (kingdoms) were negotiating conditions to join a larger confederacy alliance that offered them substantial benefits–including influence inside the empire and local autonomy.

            Zachary, at some point could you write about the tragedy that befell the great Persian Arya peoples during the time of Caliph Umar. Umar was a spiritual man with many good qualities, so could you write about without emphasizing Umar’s role. A polemic against Umar does no one any good [although most Iranians, Azerbaijanis, Afghans; and many Indian muslims would cheer on 🙂 ]. This said, in 17 years a population was almost completely converted to Islam–in large part by force. Almost all their ancient universities, libraries, ancient artifacts and remains were destroyed. The culture and civilization were burnt; albeit many Iranians fled east to India.

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        1. Between the Mauryas and the Guptas and the Delhi Sultanate there was a long time period where there was no unified “India”. It was the Mughals who made “Hindustan” and the British who united all of the subcontinent into “British India”. This is reality, not opinion. Perhaps read a non-Hindu history sometime and wake up to what reliable academic sources have actually said.

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          1. Satavahanas, Rastrakutas, Chalukyas, Vijayanagara, Maratha….Are these not mentioned in reliable academic sources?
            There was a long time between Guptas and current India where many empires held more than 50% of the land within current boundaries. Mughals barely held any part of Deccan (other than Aurangazeb dying to get Golconda and Mughals promptly losing it after his death)

            But, it is opinions like these ignoring all those empires over the past 50 years that gave rise of more Hindutva nationalists. They won’t care for old empires (and tired arguments of selective historic memory), but rather point out 12 Jyothirlingas, or 52 shakti peetha or 12 river pushkara, and say given the geography of all these religious shrines of a coherent narrative and their continuous veneration through cross-country pilgrimage, India is defined by them and not some administrative divisions externally imposed.

            Yeah, the more the “sanctity” of Indian borders are questioned based on old empires, the more India will be defined by Hinduism alone. For example, Adi Sankara travelled all the way from Kerala to Kashmir in 8th century while no single empire existed to control all the territory. Yet he managed to establish Amanaya mathas all across India (north, south, east, west), which continue to exist irrespective of empires. I wonder who told him to pick these locations without Mughals or British around to say what was “India”.

            meh, people pick whatever works for them. But everyone should be aware of which narrative they are pushing or why…

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          2. So the injunction that crossing the sea was losing one’s caste; did someone lose their caste when they left India historically and what was the border of that?

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          3. My only point was that the borders of your nation-state are just as historically contingent as the borders of my nation-state. We did not “vivisect” you. We simply opted out of living in a Hindu-majority country–whether our reasons were good or bad is a separate issue.

            Yes, these other empires existed but they were not as historically important as the Mughals. There is a reason that on Independence Day your Prime Minister addresses you from the Red Fort and not from wherever the Marathas had their capital. Delhi was a Muslim capital and the seat of power. The British recognized that Delhi was the seat of power for all of “India” when they moved British India’s capital from Calcutta to Delhi.

            I am sorry if I’ve offended your sensibilities. Reality hurts sometimes. It was the Mughals who made India (Hindustan), whether you like it or not. Wake up and smell the coffee.

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          4. I don’t think it was only the Mughals; obviously there was an India/Hind before that. But the Mughals definitely defined a Unified High Indo-Islamic High Culture that the Brits then vivisected with their attack on Urdu..

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          5. There were local empires before the Mughals but nothing with their pan-Indian importance between them and the Mauryas and the Guptas.

            “British India” extended across all of current Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. I don’t think there has ever been another entity that has ruled this much territory in the subcontinent. I dare someone to prove me wrong.

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          6. Kabir,

            You offer same words without addressing any reasoning behind it. There is nothing great about Delhi other than its geographical advantages. Tughlagh tried to move to a more centralized location but Delhi ended up the best location to keep an eye on endless attacks from Khyber and Bolan passes. Since then everyone used Delhi as capital as they saw strategical advantages.

            Second, are you suggesting that we remove all railway tracks and send them to England too? Both Lalkila and railroads were made by Indian labour with Indian resources. Nobody was bringing investment from elsewhere. So, it seems strange that you object to Indians using what they built.

            You insist that Mughals as historically important than all others. I fail to see why without contrasting them with empires before and after them. Their sphere of influence barely touched Deccan since Golconda is made by Kakatiyas and expanded by Hyderabad Nawabs. All Auragazeb tried to do was destroy that.

            India had natural borders of seas and mountains. Most political borders align with physical geography unless they are imposed and maintained forcefully. So, I don’t see the connection between Mughals and any of current political borders.

            Any current discussion boils down to geopolitical advantages. And it is perfectly obvious for me why Pakistan should remain as-is for the good of rest of South Asia.

            I am reading Razib for more than 15 years at this point. I don’t take offence for many things as long as it drives towards truth and offers some improvement in thinking or knowing.

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          7. Zach,

            Crossing sea consisted of taking a ship from any peninsular coast. AFAIK, the objection was for lack of facilities on a ship for daily bathing and prayer rituals. It was not against travel itself.

            But losing caste was only for twice-born it seems. Cholas has seafaring empire extending to Indonesia.

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  10. Kabir, until the English; Afghanistan ruled Northern India and Pakistan 1747 to around 1805. The Mongol Mughal empire was an Afghan protectorate. At time parts of Eastern Iran and the former USSR were ruled by Afghanistan.

    This is yet another reason it makes no sense to say that Afghans are not South Asians. If Afghans consider themselves to be brothers of India and Pakistan; doesn’t that make them brothers of South Asians and fellow South Asians.

    Zachary, technically Afghanistan is eastern Iran. Iran partitioned in 1747 upon the death of Nader Shah Afshar. So perhaps it is more accurate to say that South Asia and Central Asia were until recently one area.

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    1. It depends on how South Asia is defined. Some definitions include Afghanistan and some don’t.

      Wikipedia:

      “The total area of South Asia and its geographical extent is not clear cut as systemic and foreign policy orientations of its constituents are quite asymmetrical.[16] Aside from the central region of South Asia, formerly part of the British Empire, there is a high degree of variation as to which other countries are included in South Asia.[17][18][19][20]

      Modern definitions of South Asia are consistent in including Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives as the constituent countries.[21][22][23][24][25][26] Myanmar is included by some scholars in South Asia, but in Southeast Asia by others.[18][27] Some do not include Afghanistan,[18] others question whether Afghanistan should be considered a part of South Asia or the Middle East.[28][29]”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Asia

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    2. “Afghanistan is Eastern Iran”– say that to your Afghan friends and see how they respond. I doubt they would take it well.

      If you said to me “Pakistan is Western India”, I would be extremely displeased and probably never speak to you again. We are not Indians. Afghans are not Iranians. People’s national identities must be respected.

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      1. Kabir, I have not found this to be controversial among Afghans when discussed respectfully and in context. I am a fan of Baba Ahmad Khan Shah Abdali! He was Nadir Shah’s right hand and inherited eastern Iran when Nadir Shah’s empire partitioned. Afghanistan was formed by the partition of Nadir Shah’s empire into west and east.

        If you notice I am ambiguous about who the good guys were in the Third Battle of Panipat. 🙂

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  11. @kabir, stop straw manning other people, putting words in my mouth. Democracy is about individual destiny. This weighted sharing of power means acceptance of group identity in perpetuity. Next you know , this tribalism will lead to violence. You are extremely confused on calling youself left or liberal. I must blame the liberals/left for this though that even people who arent can pass themselves off that they are. A reason why people lose trust of liberals and left and their view altogether.

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    1. Don’t tell me I’m not a “liberal”. I am liberal in the American context (which is where I am from). I believe in gay marriage, open marriage, whatever, non-intervention in foreign wars. Basically “live and let live”.

      On the specific issue of weighted representation in pre-Partition India, we disagree. The Muslim League was afraid that in a “one man one vote” system Muslims would be swamped by Hindus and have no control. This was why in an attempt to avoid Partition, weighted representation and separate electorates were suggested as compromises. Obviously, they were not accepted and we now have the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This discussion is now historical and academic with no actual bearing on reality.

      Isn’t today’s India extremely tribal? Everything is seen in terms of Hindus vs. Muslims. South Asia in general is extremely tribal.

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      1. Kabir, maybe you can consider writing an article on what the meaning of “liberal” is in a US political context. I haven’t a clue.

        Many self declared “liberals” are similar to conservatives. Others are similar to moderates. Others are similar to marxists. And others are similar to post modernists. The word “liberal” seems to have lost all meaning in an American context.

        “Isn’t today’s India extremely tribal? Everything is seen in terms of Hindus vs. Muslims. South Asia in general is extremely tribal.” Why do you regard this to be the case? India seems to be one of the most cosmopolitan, open, secular and diverse countries in the world.

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        1. Liberal in the US context means you always vote for the Democratic Party and never ever for the Republicans. It means you are pro gay marriage, believe in a woman’s right to get an abortion, generally are accepting of minorities and believe in people’s right to live their lives the way they want. I would say the mainstream Democratic Party is “liberal” and anything further left than that is “left”. President Trump and his people are certainly not “liberal”.

          Re India/Pakistan: I don’t know what news you read but every election is defined by Hindu votes vs. Muslim votes. Recently, Sonia Gandhi on record said that if Congress wants to win Hindu votes, they must discourage Muslims from coming to their rallies. I’m paraphrasing but that was her sentiment. India may have been “tolerant, open secular” whatever under the normal regimes of the past. Under the current regime your country is very quickly becoming “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan”. Pakistan is obviously defined by Islam. There’s nothing more that needs to be said about that.

          We seem to always go around in circles on BP. Perhaps we all need to find some new topics to think about.

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          1. That is because of congress compromised on constitution. America believes in freedom of speech, Individual choice, India did not, Nehru created Hindu code bill, didnt create uniform civil code. As for mughals,you should read history, mughals were defeated by the marathas, British took over from the marathas and the sikhs, And Marathas already had 75% of the territory of modern India.

            “Liberal in the US context means you always vote for the Democratic Party and never ever for the Republicans.” Liberal in any context cannot mean that. As I said, the fault lies with liberals, left that anyone can call themselves as such.

            As for weighted seats for partition. Remember, to accept such views would mean to end the right to proselytize. BJP victory is mostly down to congress and left disowning those ideas of liberalism,secularism in practice. The strongest points on which BJP wins is in pointing the fatal flaws of congress. The more congress and others lean left or to value triablism, the more it will support Hindu tribalism and help BJP.

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          2. The Mughals were the rulers of India (even if nominally) until the Mutiny in 1857. I have read History and it is foolish of you to question that. I have read all of William Dalrymple’s books on the Mughal Empire and Professor Harbans Mukhia’s book on the Mughals.

            In the context of the US two-party system, liberals vote for the Democratic Party and conservatives for the Republican Party. There is no other party that is realistically going to win. So a vote for anyone else is in some sense a wasted vote.

            As for tribalism, Hindu tribalism is just as bad as Muslim tribalism. Tribalism is a South Asian problem. That was my point.

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  12. mughals were out of power and you should stop reading darlymple. Even British kept them as nominal power, their security depended on marathas, later on british and they were thrown out eventually, same would have been done by the marathas. Tribalism is product of not being able to find a third way out. Freedom of speech is important, India didnt allow this from the start, second is uniform civic code, this too was put off for very long time. There comes a point when people will look at this and suspect the aim was never allow individualism to triumph. And if one sees this, then others engage in tribalism as well.

    Muslims should actually be very worried that their tribalism will get others to do the same as well, This is what one is beginning to witness in western countries. India was just the beginning. shadi hamid wrote a book on islamic exceptionalism, and I believe Omarali wrote an article over how this is breaking the liberal order. So, no.

    And, no, you are not a liberal or left for that matter given your behavior in this place from sometime back. You can become one, we all can.

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    1. Dalrymple is a very good writer and has more credentials in researching Indian History than you do.

      Are you a professional historian? Have you published any books on Indian History? If not then don’t slag off Dalrymple just because he doesn’t support your POV.

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  13. There are many Hindutva folk who vote democrats, support gay rights etc, But they support Modi, you wouldnt call them liberals. They too will do as you do, throw their hands up and say, thats how things are.

    “Pakistan is obviously defined by Islam. There’s nothing more that needs to be said about that.”

    I am pretty sure, a liberal would have lots to say about that.

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    1. Do I want Pakistan to be defined by Islam? Not necessarily. But that is the reality.

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  14. Agree with Kabir about:
    “The Mughals were the rulers of India (even if nominally) until the Mutiny in 1857. I have read History and it is foolish of you to question that. I have read all of William Dalrymple’s books on the Mughal Empire and Professor Harbans Mukhia’s book on the Mughals.”
    Can this be worded more sweetly towards Bharata? For example you can say that the Marathas did not rule directly but through the Mughal rump state and see if Bharata agrees with you. Sometimes the truth can be expressed sweetly.

    “Recently, Sonia Gandhi on record said that if Congress wants to win Hindu votes, they must discourage Muslims from coming to their rallies. I’m paraphrasing but that was her sentiment. India may have been “tolerant, open secular” whatever under the normal regimes of the past. Under the current regime your country is very quickly becoming “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan”. ”

    I read this differently. An authentic person of faith who understands Sanathana Dharma would encourage muslims to attend their rallies. One reason Congress has a problem is that many of their leaders sometimes come across as irreligious nonspiritual post modernist inauthentic virtue signaling fakes. Obviously PM Singh didn’t have this problem and many in Congress don’t have this problem.

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    1. Some in the BJP also have Congress’ problem of in-authenticity.

      Remember that many Indian muslims vote for the BJP and RSS. The muslim community is deeply split in India with many Twelvers, Sufis and liberal Sunnis supporting the BJP.

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  15. “May 5, 2018 at 11:38 am
    Liberal in the US context means you always vote for the Democratic Party and never ever for the Republicans. It means you are pro gay marriage, believe in a woman’s right to get an abortion, generally are accepting of minorities and believe in people’s right to live their lives the way they want. I would say the mainstream Democratic Party is “liberal” and anything further left than that is “left”. President Trump and his people are certainly not “liberal”.”

    Wow! I have never read a definition like this before. In America lots of liberals and conservatives are nonpartisan swing voters.

    “believe in a woman’s right to get an abortion”
    Liberals greatly disagree with each other over abortion. Many liberals believe that abortion should be illegal after the first trimester. The cut off date for abortion and the conditions under which abortion is legal are fiercely debated among liberals. I try to keep far away from these debates. Sunni Shia is nothing compared to furious abortion debates!!!

    “generally are accepting of minorities and believe in people’s right to live their lives the way they want”
    Liberals strongly disagree over these subjects. In pre Trump 2014 exit polls:
    Latinos voted 62% democrat, 36% republican
    Asians voted 49% democrat, 50% republican
    I have found that liberals, moderates and conservatives can be equally harsh with minorities or equally respectful of minorities.

    How do liberals, moderates, conservatives differ on letting people live the way they want? Unclear. Libertarians probably favor more freedom than anyone else.

    “I would say the mainstream Democratic Party is “liberal” and anything further left than that is “left”.”
    Many self described Democrats are conservative or moderate or leftist or libertarian or post modernist. Many self described Republican are conservative, moderate, leftist, liberal, post modernist, or libertarian. Often the same person is all of them at once. Many voters are deeply conflicted and divided inside themselves.

    The word “left” is also fuzzy. Many American leftists could just as easily be described as libertarian or conservative.

    “President Trump and his people are certainly not “liberal”.”
    Trump is liberal, conservative, moderate, leftist, post modernist, reality TV star Hollywood at the same time. Trump’s views change on a daily and hourly basis. Does anyone know what Trump believes including Trump himself?

    Many Trump supporters simultaneously back Bernie Sanders. Including homeless Americans–who I have anecdotally observed to mostly be supportive to Trump. Trump is supported by about 80% of caucasion males without college degrees and has quite a bit of support among Latino and Black males without college degrees too. A lot of democrats and independents back Trump. Many of Trump’s biggest opponents are republicans and conservatives.

    Kabir, maybe the term “liberal” has become undefinable. The best we can do is describe ourselves and let others label us however they want.

    Another unanswerable question:
    What is alt right?

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  16. Zachary Latif, there were a few orthodox Brahmins who thought crossing the seas would be dangerous. But even so, someone could do rituals upon returning to India and fix it. I think this meme has been exaggerated.

    Arjuna sailed with his army on ships in the Mahabharata. People often traveled within India on ships. There was extensive travel between Vietnam (then occupied by Khmer), Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Indonesia, Burma, Tibet, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikhim. Brahmins extensively traveled these routes. They were all part of a common civilization for thousands of years. After 632 AD some things changed.

    I believe the Bon religion from Tibet is also within the Sanathana Dharma family in addition to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism. In some ways Sufism is too; although that is a sensitive topic.

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