77 Replies to “Open Thread”

  1. The Jalalabad blast is extremely tragic. And for IS to go after the only religious minority group in Afghanistan is just evil. I believe Sikhs were chanting anti-Ghani slogans afterwards (understandable since he totally failed to protect their community).

    1. LOL, they play this song at my gym (in Lahore DHA). I always thought it was a Pakistani song. Not my kind of music, but whatever. I guess it just proves that Punjabis are Punjabis and you can’t tell the difference between Indian and Pakistani Punjabis.

      Many Indian Punjabis have family associations with Lahore just like many of us on this side of Wagah have associations with Amritsar (or Ambarsar as we call it in my family).

      1. This song plays all around in Bangalore pubs (the ones not cool enough to be exclusively English) and was all the rage during my trip to Udaipur and Ahmedabad recently.

        So it’s definitely struck a chord with non-Punjabis too.

        1. That’s interesting. It’s a very Punjabi song: “kuri Lahore di aan”. I don’t know why South Indians would be into it. I only hear it in the gym.

          There is definitely a huge nostalgia among Punjabis for their lost cities on the “wrong” side of the border. The Partition destroyed Punjab (and Bengal). I remember many years ago buying a harmonium from Daryaganj in Old Delhi. The shop was called “Lahore Music House”. There is a famous shop in Lahore called “Amritsar Sweets”.

          1. I guess people are bored of Filmi songs and want something different.

            If you go down the rabbit hole of Punjabi pop, you’ll realise a lot of them have 100s of millions of views, even more than mainstream Bollywood songs.

            There’s also a decent cross-country audience for Haryanvi and Bhojpuri (mostly ironic) songs.

        2. @Prats

          Speaking of Punjabi music I like the recent trend of Indian Punjabi singers totally occupying the space – unlike 10-15 years ago when the NRI punjabis (from toronto, london etc) dominated the pop bhangra scene. I’m referring to Dosanjh, Raftaar, Guru Randhawa (who sang this Lahore number & many others), Pav Dharia, Sunanda Sharma, Sharry Mann, Badshah et al. So the centre of gravity of Punjabi pop is well and truly on the Delhi-Chandigarh axis…

          I live in London and totally tuned into the bhangra pop (because of my wife) and have Jatt relatives to boot. So can’t escape this stuff 😉

          1. Pav Dharia is Australian IIRC but completely agree that the centre of gravity of Punjabi pop has shifted to India.

            Guru Randhawa is so popular he’s going on a national tour that includes cities like Bhubaneshwar and Indore.

          2. Hah! Didn’t realize Dharia is ozzie. That’s a first, at any rate. The usual NRI suspects are typically from kaneDa or jukay…

    2. The reference to Lahore is not what most non-Punjabis think. The song isn’t about Lahore, nor is the girl (kuRi Lahore di aaN, jes hesab toN chaldi aa) meant to be from Lahore necessarily.

      The song is about the guy trying to figure out where the girl is from. So he ticks off the cities: Lahore, Delhi (now a more Punjabi city), London etc

      1. He can tell she’s from Lahore by the way she walks, so she is meant to be urban and sophisticated. That’s what I was able to figure out.

      2. I don’t know about local geography but there are many girls in Belgrade, Serbia with similar faces like this one from video. I don’t know why but I have some idea. There are a full range, from very, very blonde up to brunettes and black haired. So, guys…

        1. PS: I did not think about this earlier but it’s just came to me. Why there is not any female contributor here. I haven’t seen any comment from any girl/woman about anything. Why there are no topics related to some specific women’s issue in the region? Am I on the right spot or this is a site for special interests post-modernists groups?

  2. A talk by amateur historian Sanjeev Sanyal that some of the pundits here might find interesting, given the various pet topics of discussion such as the boundary of Indian civilisation and the ancient past:

    https://youtu.be/udqJUK-daMU

    Some of the TL;DR ‘highlights’:
    1) Ashoka was no pacifist, neither was he great
    2) India is a civilisational country, all talk of it being a post-1947 construct are just wrong
    3) SE Asians were Indians too in the not so distant past
    4) Indians were one of the foremost maritime trading nations in the world
    5) The AIT is wrong, based on genetic evidence (I wonder what he would think of the latest evidence though)

    1. Siddharth, very interesting. Can you contribute an article to discuss your thoughts on this presentation? Thanks.

      I have always regarded Indonesians, Malays, Thais, Cambodians, Laotians as part of Bharat. (Note that until three centuries ago Vietnam was populated mostly by Cambodians.)

      I don’t know enough about the Philippines to informatively comment. But is it possible that ancient Philippines was also part of the Arya varsha civilization?

      1. I don’t know that the Malays and Thais care that you think they are part of “Bharat” and probably many of them would be super offended.

        You need to realize that there are plenty of people in “Bharat” who want out. Don’t try to bring in all of SE Asia where people have their own distinct cultures and histories. Unless people identify with India, don’t make them Indian.

        This is the opposite phenomenon from that seen in Vikram’s comments where UP Muslims like my ancestors are not “Indic” enough. You guys really need to sort this out among yourselves.

        Who is “Indic” and who is not is a very subjective question. But I would guess that a Vietnamese person would identify as being Vietnamese or Southeast Asian rather then feel a great deal of affinity for India.

        1. I never said they’re my views, and I don’t appreciate the condescension, thank you. I’m very much a citizenist in my belief, in that one can take on whatever identity they want as long as that enables them to be useful productive citizens of a country. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t think so, living as I am abroad, albeit in a country that gives me (and people like me) the space to believe and express themselves as they see fit.

          The point was that SE Asians were part of the indic cultural sphere at one point in the past, not necessarily currently. They don’t have to identify with India, no one expects them to. India is, let’s face it, a third world country that’s dirty and chaotic, not aspiration worthy material for many. But that may change in the future, given sufficient growth and soft power outreach. But many among them do recognise the historic links to it – the Indonesian example of using Garuda as a national icon, for example.

          “Who is “Indic” and who is not is a very subjective question” – totally agree. It’s up to individuals and communities to make this choice. If someone wants out of the ‘indic’ tag, so be it. They can be Arabs/Persians/Chinese/Rastafarians for all I care. There’s enough of us who are proud of that tag, it doesn’t diminish just because some people don’t care to be associated with it anymore. Such identities are fluid and a bit anachronistic in this internet age anyway. Heck, so many Brits would rather have nothing to do with Europe and don’t think of themselves as European, history be damned.

          1. My comment was addressed to Anan, not to you. Anan wants to put half the world in “Arya Varsha”, reality be damned.

            Who is “Indic” is actually not all that subjective. We saw the debate on the other thread about how Urdu is “non-Indic”. This flies in the face of the linguistic consensus and of reality. A language which comes from Delhi, Agra and Lucknow is certainly not Middle Eastern. That the partisans of this language moved to Pakistan is a contingent factor. It doesn’t change our ethnicity. I am Kashmiri-Punjabi-Muhajir. Ethnically, I am completely “Indian” in that my ancestry is East of the Indus River. Over half the population of Pakistan is Punjabi and therefore ethnically “Indian”. They won’t use this word because it is now associated with the Republic of India.

    2. I think “India” is a post 1947 construct (as is Pakistan). It was the British Raj which united “India” and before that the Mughals who created “Hindustan”. There is no good reason why Assam and Nagaland should be in the same country as Punjab and Sindh. Obviously, the subcontinent has definite geographic boundaries (The Himalayas and the Indian Ocean), but that doesn’t mean the Republic of India necessarily needed to be one political entity. The Mughals never even got to Nagaland.

      People from the “Northeast” talk about experiencing a lot of racism in Delhi and not being treated as Indians. If you don’t keep them happy, you have to let them go. Kashmiri Muslims have their own unique set of problems.

      What I am saying is that geographic features don’t necessarily need to overlap with political features. It is only due to contingent factors that three major countries (Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh) exist where there used to be one (British India).

      Only half of Pakistan is even on the subcontinent. The other half is part of West Asia technically.

    3. “…some of the pundits here might find interesting, given the various pet topics of discussion such as the boundary of Indian civilisation and the ancient past.”

      Thanks Siddharth for giving a gist of what the person is proposing in an objective fashion. Some one recently alluded to this on this blog. The revisionism summarized here doesn’t pass my smell test and I am not going to spend time clicking on the link. It can be described charitably as magical thinking as it does not stand scrutiny against the known facts. Cheers and enjoy the July 4th, 2018 fire works. 🙂

      1. Fair play. One’s gotta be a skeptic in this day and age I guess.

        Merci 🙂 4th of July isn’t really a thing here across the pond. Hope you have a good one!

        1. Dramatic irony. Do they actually mourn the loss of the colonies? That is assuming you are in UK. We the NRIs can side step all this and enjoy what we can.

    4. 1) Ashoka was no pacifist, neither was he great

      sanjeev has an ax to grind here…but really, he could be right. there’s not much information.

      5) The AIT is wrong, based on genetic evidence (I wonder what he would think of the latest evidence though)

      i had dinner with sanjeev in brooklyn in 2014. he doesn’t have a good enough grasp of the genetic stuff to talk about it with credibility. he’s been gamely updating his views though as the AIT has less and less support over the past few years.

      basically, he’s a political player. he’ll interpret things as charitability and plausibly for his own side.

      (we stopped following each other on twitter when started RTing hindu nationalist attacks on me as a white supremacist that they had borrowed from communist SJWs in the states)

  3. “India is a civilisational country, all talk of it being a post-1947 construct are just wrong”

    I like some of the perspectives Sanyal brings to the table regarding Indian history (maritime view, questioning myths like those of Ashoka the ‘great’), but I dont understand this obsession with ‘civilization state’. If we want to define India as a civilization state, there is absolutely no justification for Kashmir or Mizoram or Nagaland being a part of the Republic of India.

    All political entities are constructs, and these constructs keep evolving (think of the US for example). The question is how good and enabling this construct and the stories and institutions associated with it are to the common public living there.

    Clearly, the Indian independence movement is a set of inspiring stories for the most marginalized in India, who continue to struggle against a host of injustices. Ideas of Satyagraha are invoked very often in grass roots mobilizations in India, and common people are keen to preserve the memory of the freedom struggle. Indian institutions such as the Election Commission and the judiciary also work to empower people.

    The Indian middle and upper class doesnt like this form of Indian identity and wants the ‘civilization state’ idea, because it is more compatible with authoritarian governance and hierarchical social ordering.

    (AnAn and Kabir, if you want to either tell me how the whole world is Indian/Sanatan Dharmi, or how India should ‘get out’ of Kashmir etc or something about BJP/Hindutva, please do so in a new comment and not as a reply to this one.)

    1. But if we are to presume the tacit motivations of those who led the independence movement, the idea of the subcontinent as a coherent cultural area seems one of them. I agree that is problematic for many reasons including what you’ve mentioned. It includes peoples who don’t belong for one, but also that it insists cultural coherence is justification for unity is another. The entirety of the South America continent ought to be a single state by this logic, and so forth. Would it be fair to say that you support a kind of civic nationalism? If so, is the legitimacy of the Indian state based on the administrative legacy of the colonial state?

      1. Well, Brazil speaks Portuguese while the rest of South America speaks Spanish, but your point is taken.

        I think civic nationalism generally makes sense for most countries.

        The independence movement was happening in “British India” and I think the idea at that point was to win independence for the whole territory. No one really thought of dividing it until later.

      2. girmit, even if the independence leaders assumed a cultural backdrop for all practical purposes, my overall understanding is that preservation of a certain culture was not a part of the movement in any major way. The focus remained squarely on a political goal.

        Even in programs like the promotion of khadi, whose cultural/ethnic shades are quite visible, the arguments remained economic. And in the case of Hindi, the restriction of its role to an official language rather than a ‘national’ one in the Constituent Assembly, showed that defining a certain national culture was not the intention even after independence.

        The importance given to Constitution creation and the holding of elections is evidence that a civic sense of national belonging is what the independence leaders desired, and I see no compelling argument to change from this position.

        Regarding the legitimacy question, what is interesting is the secession of various Indian groups (caste, language, religion or class based) from the civic nationalism project. It could be attractive to argue that they never really came on board in the first place, but I feel that a lot of the disappointments with this civic nationalism is rooted in India’s economic failures. Currently a lot of the legitimacy rests on delivering a certain quantum of economic growth, people dont really seem to care how that growth is delivered.

    2. On this issue, I am actually in 100% agreement with you. All political entities are constructs. Benedict Anderson came up with the notion of “imagined communities” long ago.

      There is obviously a geographic basis to the Subcontinent (“India” or “Bharat” or “Arya Varsha” or whatever we are calling it). It is pretty clear when you’ve left it (Iran on one side and Burma on the other). But the political entities are organized the way they are because of contingent factors. Why is Nepal not part of India? It very well could be. The populations of Uttarakhand and Nepal are ethnically very similar, as far as I know. Why did East Pakistan not merge with West Bengal in 1971? Sri Lanka could be an other case in point. It could easily be part of India. They are not “civilizationally” different. The point is that geography and political borders don’t necessarily overlap.

      1. Benedict Anderson came up with the notion of “imagined communities” long ago.

        i read that book because everyone cites it. it’s not a very good book in my opinion. azar gat’s *nations* is better IMO.

          1. people cite it. and undergrads read it.* so i read it. it’s not a very good book, and it’s very dated (it was mostly written around 1980 despite updates).

            were you persuaded by it?

            * the book is short and pretty conceptually simple, so i understand why this is assigned to undergraduates. but it’s a “reflection”, not a deep analytic treatment.

          2. I read the book a long time ago (and not the entire book) so I would have to reread it again to give you a detailed answer.

            I do remember that the connections he drew between capitalism, print culture, the standardization of language and nationalism were interesting. How Parisian French bound together the entire French nation (or kingdom at that point) and basically killed off Provencal, Occitan etc. Similarly how Tuscan became the standard for Italian.

            We see on BP with the whole Urdu-Hindi controversy how language becomes deeply intertwined with nationalism. The whole East Pakistan/Bangladesh thing was due in large part to language (also to economics, with the jute being in the East and the factories being in Karachi).

            I think his notion that all nations are “imagined communities” makes eminent sense. Pakistan was certainly imagined–no even had even thought of the idea prior to the 1930s. Many of the furious debates on this blog concern the central question of “What is India and where are its boundaries?”

  4. the key issue is not ‘imagined’. much of human culture is ‘imagined.’ the key issue is that people take from it a certain arbitrariness and shallowness of national identity, that is a matter of only the age of mass communication.

    if sanyal had made the same argument about china we wouldn’t be arguing, because the chinese ruling class had a national identity and a philosophical system of governance dating back to the han dynasty 2,000 years ago. in fact, the ching dynasty down to the first decade of the 20th century utilized symbols and concepts which derived from the han dynasty.

    additionally, the han people who are the core of the chinese nation are culturally and biologically related and share a history which predates the nation-empire (the zhou dynasty was ‘feudal’, in contrast the chin-han period saw the rise of a unitary state). this does not mean that the han are not assimilative, they are, but the national identity has a basis in a history and relationships which are not simply ideological or ‘imagined.’

    instead of generalities we have to proceed case by case. anderson talks about latin america, and i think this is arguably his best example, because the sub-national units are somewhat artificial (though not totally, the spanish provinces were overlain upon real cultural boundaries or in some cases pre-columbian polities).

    in the case of india, whether india is a ‘natural’ nation-state is not as clear-cut as china. this is largely because unlike china india never had a ruling class unified in norms and character. even the large empires were the mauryas and mughals were more coalitions of distinct ruling elements.

    and yet setting aside colonial artificialities like the naga highlands or andman islands (part of india due to recent historical happenstance, similar to how china inherited the manchu domains of xinjiang and tibet), south asia between punjab, bengal, and the tamil territory does exhibit cultural affinities and continuities.

    i would argue that india as a single unified nation makes as much sense as the european union.

    1. That seems correct. Indian vision is quite akin to that of the European Union, except with a slightly superior political culture (modelled on the US federation and UK Parliament) – thanks to Babasaheb.

    2. No one is arguing that “South Asia between Punjab, Bengal, and the Tamil territory” does not exhibit cultural continuities.

      The Indian Subcontinent as an EU type thing would have made sense. But the EU is a collection of countries. Each country has not given all its power to Brussels. India is ruled from Delhi. If India were like the EU, there would be no “Kashmir issue” because the Valley would just be a country. Pakistan would be a country like it is today. Maybe Balochistan would be a separate country within the Union.

      This seems to hearken back to the model of the Princely States. I think people are still more attached to “Punjab” “Sindh” “Tamil Nadu” etc than they are to India or Pakistan (certainly to Pakistan). But India and Pakistan act like unitary states (even though Pakistan is supposedly a federation) and there lies the problem. If Delhi would let Srinagar do what it wants, Srinagar would not have an issue. Similarly, if Islamabad let Quetta do what it wants, we would not have the problems that we have.

      1. Indian identity is made on respect of local and regional identities. So, it is not contradictory – Punjab and Indian identities . Indian nationalism is not muscular and heavy handed like Russian or Chinese.

      2. But the EU is a collection of countries. Each country has not given all its power to Brussels.

        That is a naïve view of the EU.

        Just because the member countries have not given up all sovereignty away for now, it does not mean the EU doesn’t want it. It does and that vision is clearly enshrined in the Solemn Declaration of the EU. Read up on “ever closer union”.

        Indians happen to have leapfrogged to that close political union to begin with which Eurocrats ultimately want.

        I think people are still more attached to “Punjab” “Sindh” “Tamil Nadu” etc than they are to India

        Regional Indian sub-nationalism is strong, but you are perhaps under-estimating the level of co-option of the elites and middle class from these regions into a single cohesive set that has happened in India (and continues apace).

        In fact, India’s founding myth is to a large extent predicated on underscoring regional diversity. Cultural multi-polarity makes it seem that any one region is not alone in signing up for the political project and political co-option is that much easier.

        The co-option constantly happens in the Indian Parliament, unis, markets, high culture, television, films and military academies. The “miley sur mera tumhara..” and “des raag..” tropes have been quite successful.

        On that note, enjoy:
        https://youtu.be/QiB1aDTnfLY

        1. Quite agree with this view of Indian nationalism. In the Indian landmass there’s no true nationalism apart from the Indian nationalism. Otoh , unspoken bedrock of Indian nationalism is respect for regional identities. It is more like German nationalism of 1870s.
          It is unlike more muscular and heavy handed nationalism of Russia or China.

          1. You mean Islamic (or should I say, Islamist) Nationalism. Kashmiri nationalism has long been defenestrated.

            I am nonetheless skeptical of claims of “true nationalism” etc. I don’t think the term means much.

          2. Kashmiri Muslim nationalism then. I don’t think it is fair to suggest that everyone in the Valley who wants Azaadi is an Islamist. Some of them definitely are, but not all.

        2. EU came about due to 2 factors. A push factor to avoid the near destruction of their societies due to the 2 world wars and cold war. If Hitler had N bomb he would have had no compunction in using it liberally. Total wars, genocides and nuclear bombs have convinced them to say goodbye to 19th century nationalism.
          As a pull factor, European nations realized economically they are no match for the US or Japan, so to economically compete they have to come together.
          Indian history is different from that of Europe. At the very least we can look at India as succecor to British Indian empire.

        3. Well, good luck to the EU in pushing for “ever closer union” is all I’m saying. Already many countries have figured out that Germany sets the economic rules and they don’t like it. The UK had its own problems with Europe and hence Brexit.

          If the subcontinent were an EU type thing, Delhi would run the show. You can’t expect Islamabad and Dhaka to like that. Hell, even parts of India don’t like it.

          The princely states model could have worked with Delhi being in charge of defence, foreign affairs etc. Patiala could have done its own thing as could Hyderabad etc.

  5. 1) Ashoka was no pacifist, neither was he great

    He was no pacifist , but he was great considering the age he was in.

    2) India is a civilisational country, all talk of it being a post-1947 construct are just wrong

    India is a civilisational country but since religion trumps over shared history most times(even though we wont admit it) , it became a 1947 construct

    3) SE Asians were Indians too in the not so distant past

    This is a very superficial reading of SE-asia politics where their past is as symbolic as buddha is for India.

    4) Indians were one of the foremost maritime trading nations in the world

    Foremost would be a bit much, but yes we were not that bad as we had originally believed.

    5) The AIT is wrong, based on genetic evidence (I wonder what he would think of the latest evidence though)

    I urge Razib to clear this thing once and for all. 😛

    Sanyal talks about a king of Kalinga called Kharvela here, just to connect it about the whole talk about “Bharat” , it was he who for the first time inscribed it on the stone (dated to somewhere around 100BC-100AD), the earliest mention of the word.

  6. “Regional Indian sub-nationalism is strong, but you are perhaps under-estimating the level of co-option of the elites and middle class from these regions into a single cohesive set that has happened in India (and continues apace).

    The co-option constantly happens in the Indian Parliament, unis, markets, high culture, television, films and military academies. The “miley sur mera tumhara..” and “des raag..” tropes have been quite successful.”

    The co-option is not based on some shared identity ( jokes like “miley sur mera tumhara..”), specially where Regional Indian sub-nationalism is strong, but rather on share of political power and resources to the elite middle/upper classes. Thats the reason why E-Bengal went away from Pakistan , while we still have some pro India Kashmiri leadership. Take away that and the whole thing would come tumbling down. You can hear the murmurs on the whole India’s South is California while north is Mississippi rhetoric. The sub nationalism of Tamil/Bengal/Punjab (which are more trans-national) is different from Marathi/Gujarati( which are more Indian oriented).

    1. but rather on share of political power and resources to the elite middle/upper classes

      If nations were just built on shares of political power and economic resources (reductionism straight out of Commie manifesto, by the way), why aren’t US and Mexico a single nation? Or India and Bangladesh? Or Vietnam and Thailand?

      Human beings are moved and motivated by religion, by language and many other cultural features in addition to a utilitarian economic calculus. Their decisions are a result of a complex interplay of these features. Reductionist analysis of nation-building that completely excludes social and cultural histories of the constituent people is not worth the paper it is written on.

      1. When i was talking about share of political power and resources to the elite middle/upper classes i am limiting myself to places which already have strong regional/religious identity of their own which either rivals the national project or surpasses it.

        What you say about “human beings are moved and motivated by religion, by language and many other cultural features in addition to a utilitarian economic calculus. ” is largely true for North India. Thats why i made a distinction between “sub nationalism of Tamil/Bengal/Punjab (which are more trans-national) is different from Marathi/Gujarati( which are more Indian oriented).”

        I disagree with Vikram’s comment below that ” there would have had a secessionist movement had the Jats, Patels, Yadavs, Reddys, Vokkaligas, Marathas, Ezhavas not found accomodation”
        At least for N-India groups it wouldn’t be true, because N-Indian nationalism is very religious conservative/Indian oriented. Sub nationalism manifests in different ways in different areas, need not be secessionist always.

      2. “why aren’t US and Mexico a single nation? ”

        The question to ask here isnt why not US and Mexico (which makes little sense, Mexico is much poorer with a rapidly growing population), but why are the US and Canada practically one nation (Trump’s recent actions aside) ? The US and Canada work in whats practically a common market, easy mobility of capital and people and common defence. For all practical purposes, thats a nation.

        Otherwise the Americans and Canadians have quite differing histories, sports and other cultural aspects. Countries which have a smaller set of differences are totally disconnected 😉

        1. The USA-Mexico example seems to have been totally lost on you.

          The economic gap between US and Mexico you see today did not exist in early 19c. The GDP per capita of Mexico was $759 vs $1257 for the US in 1820s[*]. If utilitarian calculus were the only game in town, the US elite could’ve simply cut a deal with the Mexican feudals to incorporate all that Meso-American real-estate into its territory in exchange for resources – rather than fighting a bloody conflict for Texas and California (which were sparsely populated remote colonies at that point). The fact that American settlers in Texas were English-speaking protestants as opposed to Roman-Catholic Tejanos had a lot to do with the US-Mexican conflict and the borders you see today.

          Moral of the story: religion and culture (incl language) matter in nation building.

          [*] Angus Madison’s estimates, PPP figures in international dollars.

      3. Why didn’t East Pakistan merge with West Bengal in 1971? Perhaps because the Bangladeshis still wanted to be a nation of Bengali Muslims. Or perhaps Mrs. G didn’t really want the land, but just wanted to break Pakistan and annexing the land would have shown what her real reasons for the war were?

  7. Nation states are intellectual projects. They need elite buy in. Once there is a buy in, some logic of ‘cohesiveness’ will be found.

    When nation states evolved in Europe, elites sought upward mobility and wealth via participation in the bureaucracies of colonial empires, and the rapidly industrializing economies in the metropolis. Once the logic of colonization and industrial growth in a protected economy was removed, European elites found some other logic to form a European Union.

    The most successful nation states emerge when there is an intersection of elite benefit with a project of liberal values and democratic politics. The latter ensures that even emerging, newly conscious and upwardly mobile groups have a good chance of being accomodated in the existing socio-political setup. Every Indian state would have had a secessionist movement had the Jats, Patels, Yadavs, Reddys, Vokkaligas, Marathas, Ezhavas not found accomodation and upward mobility in the existing setup.

    1. “Nation states are intellectual projects”

      The ‘intellectual’ part of nations or nation building should not pushed too far . True, you need an intellectual ability to articulate an ideological viewpoint consistently or run large scale organisation like army or government. OTOH, why a particular form of social organization like nation should be prevalent and popular at a particular point in history is beyond individual intellect.
      our intellects float over vast unconscious forces , individually and as a society.

  8. “At least for N-India groups it wouldn’t be true, because N-Indian nationalism is very religious conservative/Indian oriented.”

    We have already had a Jat secessionist movement in N. India under the garb of Sikh separatism. Only Jat Sikhs participated in this movement, Khatri and Mazhabi Sikhs did not. If Haryana had not been carved out, and Hindu Jats not been the supremos of that state for the better part of the last century, something similar would have manifested there as well. Their ‘Hinduness’ did not stop them from burning the shops of Punjabis, Agarwals and Sainis in the recent riots (non Jat CM in power then).

    ULFA in Assam is stuffed with folks from Vaishnaivite Hindu backgrounds. But guess what, they also happen to be Kalitas and Ahoms, the Jat/Yadav equivalents of upper Assam. With the possibility of upward mobility via government employment blocked by Bengali migrants, the bogey of ‘neglect by Delhi’ was not that hard to create and propagate a violent insurgency. These caste groups continue to oppose citizenship for fellow Bengali Hindus, many fleeing religious persecution, to this day.

    A North Indian Brahmin friend of mine grew up among the lower classes of Mumbai. He still has marks from the stones Marathi kids (staunch Bappa Moraya people) would start throwing on him saying ‘bhaiyya aaya, bhaiyya aaya’.

    1. You are confusing separatism with sub nationalism again. The sikh separatism was sikh separatism and not Jat separatism(else you would have hindu jats also supporting that). Thats why “sikh” separatism is the operational factor not the jats.

      “f Haryana had not been carved out, and Hindu Jats not been the supremos of that state for the better part of the last century, something similar would have manifested there as well. Their ‘Hinduness’ did not stop them from burning the shops of Punjabis, Agarwals and Sainis in the recent riots”

      Again all this manifestation will only result in riots etc not separatism. That’s the point. Its similar to say rajput protests during padmaavat which is there to show their alleged superiority not to establish rajputana as independent country. Even when their privy purses were abolished they fought elections.

      “ULFA in Assam is stuffed with folks from Vaishnaivite Hindu backgrounds. But guess what, they also happen to be Kalitas and Ahoms, the Jat/Yadav equivalents of upper Assam.”
      “A North Indian Brahmin friend of mine grew up among the lower classes of Mumbai. He still has marks from the stones Marathi kids (staunch Bappa Moraya people) ”

      The first issue here is the “assam movement” which you are ignoring . The assam movement was to deport all Bengali speaking people, which is despicable but still does not make it a separatist movement. The AGP which was the inheritor of the movement and what were their demands? They were asking themselves to be identified as son of the soil and expulsion of people who they seemed as outsiders, which is what even marathi manoos wants. But that is quite different than separatism.

      And when i said religious conservative i meant gujrati/marathi nationalism will always have that backdrop of religious symbolism unlike bengali/tamil nationalism which is more focussed on culture /ethnic motif. That is not a value judgement.

  9. “Human beings are moved and motivated by religion, by language and many other cultural features in addition to a utilitarian economic calculus.”

    Elites are motivated by a utilitarian economic calculus, and they then move masses by some emotive logic (religion/language/caste whatever) to act as a bulwark to achieve their goals.

    1. Elites are motivated by a utilitarian economic calculus, and they then move masses by some emotive logic (religion/language/caste whatever) to act as a bulwark to achieve their goals.

      Vikram, I cannot agree more. Even Charity foundations seem to be guilty of same, i.e. line their pockets more than help.

    2. Elites are not only motivated by utilitarian economics, at least in a healthy society. Read Peter Turchin or Razib re: Roman elites dying disproportionately in the Punic Wars.

      1. Agree with Fraxinicus. Elites are probably less motivated by money than most other people. Elites tend to be motivated by far more subtle things. Although this is even more so for Sanyasis, Sadhus, artists, dreamers, dancers, mystics, nature lovers.

        Please see:
        http://www.brownpundits.com/2018/05/14/intellectual-dark-web/

        sbarrkum, there is something to what you say too. There is such a thing as the NGO nonprofit charity industrial complex.

        1. hard to generalize. but in the USA there is evidence that richer ppl are more ideological/focused on culture war, because their basic needs are met.

        2. @ANAN: “Charity industrial complex”, I like the phrase. It is mostly driven by IRS loopholes and easy to impress the masses of people across the world.

    3. That’s patently ridiculous!

      History of humanity is littered with examples of elites going off on one overlooking elementary economic utilitarian logic and ruining their societies in double-quick time.

      We don’t even need to go as far back in time as Fraxinicus’ great example of Punic wars. If economic utilitarianism were so obvious, wouldn’t the English elite (of Saxe-Coburg extraction) in the early 20c dispense with the Entente Cordiale and carve out the France Republic with their Prussian cousins – instead of losing an entire generation on the poppy fields of Belgium?

      And what kind of economic utilitarianism was guiding the Japanese feudals, who sacrificed a generation of their men and boys on the altar of some kamikaze spirit in WW2?

      Heck! if economic utilitarianism was so dear to the elites, wouldn’t Paknationalist deep state agree to trade deals with India that are certain to increase their wealth by many orders-of-magnitude?

      1. Paknationalist deep state has filled it’s deep pockets with US aid and collaboration over the last 50 years in Cold War and the War on Terror to which it was and is directly responsible; so it did not need co-operation with India. Now the next sucker to line up is China , or so it thinks. China are more astute than the Americans.

        1. Vijay,
          It is a given that Pak deep state has filled it’s pockets with US aid all these years. Pakistan does a good job of manipulating the world opinion and get what it wants. Indian foreign policy does not get much points for the same time in spite of espousing rational causes. Now that Modi being in charge of foreign ministry and making a trip abroad every other week may yield some diplomatic dividends.

          1. Are you being sarcastic and Vijay is not getting it?

            India and the US are at the one of the lowest points in their relationship. Your own analysts have stated this. The 2+2 dialogue has been postponed for the second time. Clearly Modi’s hugs are not working.

    4. Elites may have utilitarian economic calculus; otoh they are as much subjected to motivations by religion, nationalism, language and all cultural and subjective factors.
      During the 1st World War , the deaths of British aristocracy was as much as any other classes proportionally. Many aristocratic sons did not return. So was the case in Germany. German and British aristocracy could simply have collaborated; they chose nationalist war over collaboration.
      added to that the German Kaiser and Czar were the grandsons of Queen Victoria. He was caught up in German nationalism and so were the British aristocracy.
      It was war between cousins much like Mahabharatha.

  10. A question for everyone. Are the people who contemplate poetry such the below elites?
    Rig Veda 1.164.46
    एकं॒ सद्विप्रा॑ बहु॒धा व॑दन्त्य॒ग्निं य॒मं मा॑त॒रिश्वा॑नमाहुः
    ékam sád víprā bahudhā́ vadanti agnímm yamám mātaríšvānam āhuh
    Truth is one, but the wise know it as many; we can approach truth in many ways [including Agni, Yama]

    Elites tend to be deeper and more subtle than most (absorbed into more subtle types of thought, intuition and feeling . . . . or tend to be more Sattva Guna predominant.)

    This quote happens to be the moto of what some call RSS, BJP, Hinduttva (Hindu Tattva), hard Hindu right. This is why when they eulogize and praise atheists, Mohammed pbuh, Imam Ali and the various Auliyas, Pirs and Fakirs, it is heartfelt. However very few who speak of Sarva Dharma (unity of all faiths and all atheists) experientially understand Sarva Dharma.

    It is said that only Gunaathita (those who transcend all qualities) can understand. But how to transcend all sensory inputs, thought, intuition and feeling (or the many parts of our brain and nervous system)?

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