Why this kolaveri di on Indian genetics

I perused through the article linked in Razib’s previous post. I stumbled on this caption embedded in the beginning of the article:

NOT THE SAME: The Indus Valley people lacked the steppe and ancestry that marks many North Indian high castes today (Photograph by Bandeep Singh, for representational purpose only)
I find the association that the prototypical Indian is a high-caste Hindu to be in poor taste.

91 thoughts on “Why this kolaveri di on Indian genetics”

  1. LOLOL Indian prototype is even less better looking than that bandit .. if that were possible. but with billion people it is 😉 thats what ata babur said about them too. kami-e husn dar mardoman-e hindustan

      1. Persianized chaghtay Turki. Then retranslated in Persian. but Farsi is the language of women and Turki the language of sword. Mughals after babur went too native. They enjoyed Persian women and wine tho. Do yar-e nazok-e Irani o bad-e kohan do mani

    1. Haha sorry to burst your bubble mate, but Babur was a sl!++y eyed, pasty skinned barbarian down on his luck, drawn towards warmer weather and better looking women and food, as all barbarians are. The best bits of the moghal empire were when they civilised to become Indian in blood and spirit 😉


      1. Those so-called “barbarians” ruled India and created a syncretic high culture. This disdain for the Dynasty is not funny.

          1. Babur’s sexuality is neither here or there.

            This need to disparage the Dynasty is not appreciated.

          2. Homosexuality as a concept did not exist prior to the 19th century. It is anachronistic to apply to Mughal rulers.

            In any case, Babur established a great empire in North India. Whoever he went to bed with should really not be anyone’s concern.

          3. How is preferring men over women disparaging the memory of my ancestors? Tashreef (arse) is a noble word in urdu. Doing other men is the sign of true masculinity and pashtun khans learnt it from my grand daddy babur.

            Babur was a hyper male. An alpha of alphas. Descended from the alpha of alphas Timur and Changiz. That is a bloodline nobody messes with.

          4. How is preferring men over women disparaging the memory of my ancestors? Tashreef (arse) is a noble word in urdu. Doing other men is the sign of true masculinity and pashtun khans learnt it from my grand daddy babur.

            Babur was a hyper male. An alpha of alphas. Descended from the alpha of alphas Timur and Changiz. That is a bloodline nobody messes with.

        1. Why did you restore it? Calling Babur a “barbarian” is not funny, even if it was intended sarcastically.

          The implication that India “civilized” the Mughals is also not on. I could turn around and say that it was Mughal rule that civilized North India. Our Hindutva friends wouldn’t appreciate that.

          1. I had removed it because of the eye comment.

            The Urdu speaking inheritance is liberal; we don’t always have to do a tit for tat.

            Babur is the Father of Us All. It is his descendants that shaped modern India; it’s an incontrovertible fact. Love them or hate them but one cannot ignore India’s greatest Dynasty..

            The Safavids shaped Iran, the Ottomans Turkey and the Mughals Hindustan. Much as they try to deracinate and Saffronise it; the Persian inflected Urdu-speaking Inheritance is the definitive and apex culture of South Asia.

            They can try to mock it, destroy it but in the end they only make a fool of themselves. Thanks to Nehru & Gandhi instranginence and Quaid’s wiliness the Indus is forever lost to Turan and the 7 Stans. Own goal indeed!

            If Urdu had had a proper and preeminent place in a United India; I should have seen no reason as to why Muslim children could not learn Sanskrit, the Vedas etc.. we did not destroy the composite culture..

  2. I deleted Sid’s comment as he used a racist term, which is offensive to East Asians.

    It also happily covered his anti-Barbarism. They already destroyed his masjid and renamed the word of his grandchildx5 in Delhi, at least leave the sacred memory of our Imperial Ancestors alone.

    1. Respect u Zak. That comment by Hindutva guy was way too offensive.

      Hamaray buzurgon ki masajid shaheed kar kay yay hindutva parast kuffar unki shaan mayn aysi bayparwah o namaqul gustaakhi kaysay kar saktay hayn!!

        1. Something about insulting the glory of our ancestors. “Shan” is glory and “gustaakhi” means disrespect or insult.

          1. To be honest even though I’m an Urdu-wallah; I can only understand Hindustani. Bollywood films and Urdu dramas; though some complex Perso-Arabic & Sanskrit terms leave me blank.

            Vidhi has an excellent grasp of Sanskrit (she studied it at school) and a surprisingly excellent grasp of Urdu words (Urdu is alive and well thanks to music). However I’m no longer allowed to ask for translations 🙁

            I would have thought 2yrs ago my Persian and Urdu were equally bad but now thanks to watching Paki dramas w/o subtitles my Hindustani is racing ahead..

        2. How can they heap indignity/disrespect on their (Mughals’) glorious name with insouciance and bad faith?

          You should learn the great language of Urdu. I learnt it from my ustad Aamir Liaquat in Khi. Great son and patriot of Pakistan.

          1. Jaggu is an insiders inside joke, much of which is lost in translation and because of a lack of understanding of current Pak politicians, becomes truly hard for (south) Indians to follow.

            Also, for Kabir et al, the Mughal influence greatly dies below Goa-Hyderabad-orissa axis. Most of us below barely follow mughal rule or babur Masjid issues. That is why one commentator here mentioned that Tipu or Nizam had a greater influence on south Indian polity than Babur. A view of unified Hindu India, unfortunately, seem to exist in Pakistan alone. Even in Gujarat and greater Maharashtra, Hindu pride politics is a new thing.

            At the risk of repeating myself, most of the internet Hindu warriors are flame.

      1. Lol mate I’ve no love for Hindutva, but won’t stand for you calling my folk bandits. And don’t even get me started on kuffar. And if Babur had nasty things to say about the appearance or character of Indians, then I won’t spare him as well. But I guess you’re a provocateur of sorts here, like Milo Y so I’ll go easy on you.

        Kabir – I admire the later moghals for their syncretic culture but by no means did they civilise India, but if you think so that’s just your opinion mate. They’re not ‘sacred cows’ for me to respect unconditionally and I thought that’s what this blog is all about.

        Zack – no disrespect towards East Asians, but I’ve heard far worse language being used on this blog! Didn’t realise there was a moderation policy. Apols in any case


        1. Bandit boy will go easy on an Uzbek. LOLcopter ? Don’t even go there. Beware!

          When was the last time an Indian defeated an Uzbek in a straight bout matey?

        2. This Indian tendency to denigrate the Dynasty (and by extension Muslim rule) is disgusting. You can argue all you like that you have no love for Hindutva, but insulting the Mughals is a move right out of the Hindu Right’s playbook.

          “Peace” as you like to say.

          1. You don’t like your “folks” being called “bandits”. Well, I will not stand any insults to the Dynasty.

          2. IMO the Dynasty is overrated. The greatest Muslim ruler India ever had was a Bihar-born Pathan, Sher Shah Suri.

            Team Suri against the Mughals!

          3. Firstly, Moghals is not equal to Muslim. The Muslims from my part of the world (Tamil Nadu) have no moghal connection. But of course, Pakistanis like yourself would like to believe that you’re somehow better Muslims than others. Think twice before accusing every Indian of being Hindutvavadis lest the same sort of allegation be made against you.

            Secondly, I’ve nothing against the later moghals, but I do have something to say against folk who call Indians bandits or kuffars. If you scroll up, you’ll find that Jaggu was the one who made the obscene comments that started all this.

            Thirdly, why all the unrequited love for the moghals in the first place. If Babur did think that all Indians (which includes many current day Pakistanis, btw) were cowards or somehow beneath him then he should be exposed and called out for being the petty raider that he was.

          4. “Pakistanis like yourself like to believe that you are better Muslims than others”– You assume too much.

            It is disingenuous to believe that the North Indian tendency to denigrate the Mughals at every turn has nothing to with Hindutva and the general antipathy to the Muslim contribution to what is now India. Those people who gratuitously insult the Dynasty are showing signs of Hindutva thinking, whatever they may claim.

            All Indians are not Hindutvadis. There are many of your countrymen who are sane people and vote for center-left parties.

            Jaggu is not to be taken seriously. I firmly believe he is trying to caricature “Islamist” thinking. But if you want to bring yourself down to his level, you will be called out on it.

            As for “petty raider”, he founded the greatest dynasty North India has ever known. The Mughals gave you your high culture. Deal with it.

          5. “Yes Barbar was a “racist” but his descendants are found in India as Indians. This was qualitatively different to colonialism.”

            How so. Many Native American circles and religious/cultural events are filled with caucasions who are very much part of the Native American religion and culture. How is this different from the descendants of Babar?

      1. I think ethnicity is important to the conversation. A Punjabi born in Tamil Nadu doesn’t make him tamil

        1. Vidhi, my wife, is born in Chennai is Sindhi by descent.

          She speaks good Tamil, has the STEM bug from the Brahmins and likes South Indian food.

          BUT she also is super-Sindhi in ineffable ways..

        2. In so far as ethnicity is important, isn’t Pathan the ethnicity here ?

          His ancestors had left Afghanistan two generations before he was born so not sure how ‘Afghan’ he was.

        3. The modern communications technology can act as a mental ghetto to immigrants going totally native. In earlier days that was not so. That is why so much of intra-Indian migrations in distant past , say more than 300 years , has made immigrants merge with the local societies completely. Marathas , who came to Tamilnadu in the wake of Shivaji, still retain distinctiveness , so do many Telugu speakers and Kannada speakers. The present day social dynamics are very different what happened in distant past.

          1. Babur considered himself Turkic.

            Btw just to pimp Suri ji, I’d say that I consider him, along with Chandragupta Maurya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as the greatest road builders of the sub-continent.

          2. Pashtun use Afghan and Pashtun interchangeable so I us d Afghan in that sense But you get my point. Sher shah was as much a Bihari as Akbar was a Sindhi

          3. That’s debatable but I never claimed he was Bihari.

            He did however, do much more for the region than any Delhi based Muslim ruler before or after him.

          4. The Mughals unified North India (as the British did after them). That is much more significant than anything that happened in the Suri interregnum.

          5. Mughals took money from Bihar and invested it in Delhi or Agra so I really don’t see why I should consider the unification a good thing.

            (Even if some of my ancestors might have benefitted from the arrangement)

          6. The Mughals made “India”. Hindustan was at its greatest under the Dynasty. All your high culture–Hindustani Classical Music, Kathak, Urdu, the Taj– is thanks to the Dynasty.

            As Zack said, the Mughals are to India what the Ottomans are to Turkey.

  3. “Mughals took money from Bihar and invested it in Delhi or Agra so I really don’t see why I should consider the unification a good thing.”

    This is accurate when it comes to the British Raj, but not the Mughals. The Mughals werent too keen on Bihar, but it was by no means the most important revenue source for them. Bihar subah raised about 7% of all Mughal revenue, much more came from Bengal and Gujarat, both of which had vigorous trade and industrial economies in addition to subsistence farming.

    Given that 80% of Mughal revenue was ploughed back into paying mansabdars who were responsible for governance and administration, the claim of Mughal ‘looting’ any particular place makes little sense.

    The Mughal Empire had critical flaws (therefore it didnt last that long), but economic administration wasnt one of them.

  4. sources are mentioned -the great divergence, Kenneth Pomeranz.

    “There are signs that Indian income distribution was significantly more unequal (and so popular consumption more limited) than it was in China, Japan, or western Europe. A study of Mogul land taxes for 1647 finds that 445 families received 61.5 percent of all revenues, which were about 50 percent of gross agricultural output, and that roughly one-quarter of the revenue flow to those families represented actual personal income. (The rest was consumed in various expenses of office.) [526] If this is accurate, these 445 families— presumably less than .002 percent of the population—would have received an income from their offices alone equal to 7.5 percent of total agricultural output, or perhaps 6 percent of the society’s total income! [527] An estimate based on Shireen Moosvi’s reconstructions for 1595 [528] is similar: it suggests that 1,671 Mughal nobles would have had a net personal income from their claims on government revenue alone equal to about 7 percent of total empire-wide output.”

    1. There are other scholars who attribute a great deal of urbanization and economic progress to the Mughal Empire. How does the ‘notoriously exploitative’ attribution explain the trade surplus India enjoyed with the rest of the world during the Mughal dynasty ?

      The most important indicator is the expansion of population. India’s share of world population increased from 20% to 23% from 1600 to 1700. While during the British Raj, our population proportion fell precipitously.

      1. “How does the ‘notoriously exploitative’ attribution explain the trade surplus India enjoyed with the rest of the world during the Mughal dynasty ?”

        Trade surplus essentially means the country produces more than it can consume and so the products end up being exported. This can happen either by increasing productivity or decreasing domestic consumption or both.

        Soviet Union had a trade surplus with the rest of the world for much of its history. There wasn’t a lot to spend on domestically in the Soviet economy and anything desirable had long waiting lists so people just saved their income- not that they were paid a lot to begin with. Export economies of east asia likewise increases savings rate (this automatically means decreasing domestic consumption since you save what you don’t spend/consume) by a whole host of repressive policies (people save more when even basic needs are very expensive) while simultaneously increasing productivity of the economy. This is what enables them to expand their economies so quickly.

        Likewise India famously had a trade surplus throughout its history with a lot of lamentations over all the gold and silver flowing into India in exchange for spices and silk since Roman times. This was due to the extremely low subsistence level consumption of workers and artisans that enabled all the ‘extra goods’ produced by the economy to be exported in exchange for gold for the upper classes. You know the story of the silk weaver of Kanchipuram who cannot afford even a single saree that he makes to gift to his daughter on her wedding day? Think of that but extended to the whole of the economy. Thats one way to make a huge trade surplus.

        The modern exporting nations re-distribute the riches among its workers and also escape the malthusian trap by use of contraceptives enabling wide prosperity. The former was attempted in ancient India by religious proclamations on charity for the kings and upper classes while the latter occured rather organically due to the geography- the unpredictability of monsoons meant the population of India was always low compared to its fertile area. This meant there were indeed times when dynamics were just right for wide prosperity as attested by many foreign travellers to India but yes, an exploitative regime can easily have a trade surplus.

      2. riches of the elite is not an indicator of lives of the poor. Many travelers did point to poor lives of peasants and also the riches of the elite. With travelers we atleast have accounts of eye witness.

          1. Bengal was not under Mughals ?

            Sorry, but I am done here. Next time, you try to convince someone you know more than a tenured history professor at a prominent US university, please skim wikipedia first.

  5. The Mughal Empire had critical flaws (therefore it didnt last that long).

    I dont know what would have been long enough

    1. The dynasty really only had four proper emperors (Akbar, Shah Jahan, Jahangir and Aurangzeb), spanning a period of around 150 years, and was already fraying by the third decade of Aurangzeb’s rule, with the Sikhs and Marathas in full revolt, losses to Ahom’s in the North East.

      That puts its timespan about equal to the Yuan dynasty of China, which was one of China’s shortest lived dynasties.

      Mughal’s relied a lot on agrarian expansion (Bengal especially) and the introduction of foreign techniques (carpet making, glassware making, glazed ceramics) to expand economic output. They had a tendency to over invest in grandiose architectural endeavors and bloated militaries, as opposed to investments in higher education as seen in Europe. This inhibited wealth creation, military advancement and the emergence of stronger administrative systems (rule of law, secular courts, property rights).

      Incidentally (or perhaps expectedly ?), the Mughal successor states of Pakistan and Bangladesh have much the same issues. There is a severe underinvestment in higher education in both countries, although Bangladesh is on a course correction. In 2016, 27% of Indians were doing tertiary education, as opposed to 9.7% of Pakistanis and 17% of Bangladeshis.

      1. I would argue that the Mughal empire remained close to her noon tide during the rule of Bahadur Shah I and precipitously declined after his passing in 1712. Although some would say that that the Sayyid brothers kept the Mughal empire near peak strength until 1720.

        A question if I might. How did Muhammad Shah allow the Mughal empire to fray so sharply?

        1. The problems were structural (unclear succession, no check to increasing powers of nobles, need for war to expand economy), and it really wasnt about any individual.

  6. Vikram, Bharat is on to something. I would make the case that India was much poorer than it would have been if not for the Islamist invasion and occupation.

    1. “Islamist” and “Occupation” are anachronistic words and do not apply to the Mughal Empire. But I’ve pointed that out before and you didn’t seem to understand it. So not holding out much hope.

      1. (This is in response to an earlier comment of yours to me)
        I think this thread has run its course and reverted to earlier well trodden discussion pathways.

        Nevertheless, a final response from my end is due. You mentioned that the Moghals gave me my high culture – nope, sorry. You conveniently chose to ignore that I’m from the deep south of India and not a Delhi/UP Walla. The Moghals had as much influence down there as the Cholas did in current day Pakistan. I’m as ambivalent towards them as I am towards say Chandragupta Maurya or Alexander. For someone who’s allegedly western in outlook you’re very allergic to inquiries into historical figures. Especially villains like Babur who wrecked havoc on the Punjab and your own city of Lahore (well documented by the Sikhs in Guru Nanak’s times).

        There’s plenty of more local south Indian Muslim figures like Tipu Sultan or the Nizams for Muslims from my part of the country to feel affinity towards instead of some imperial monarchs from faraway Delhi. And in any case linking the criticism of the Moghals to the criticism of Muslims is like saying that criticism of the British empire is hurtful to Indian Christians. Laughable!

        Anyway these are nuances I wouldn’t expect a Pakistani to understand.

          1. Haha I guess that some wilfully choose to deny nuances and go bruising for battles where there are none, mon ami 🙂

          2. Looks like bandits took the joke to heart. Feeling affinity towards Mughal lackeys like Nizam and Tipu sounds a little contrived to me tbh. I thought hindutvadis hated their guts. hyderabad riots weren’t done by martians I hope…. was there an alien invasion I missed??

            Vaisay markle bibi is hottt, saw her yesterday while cleaning the stables… chhota bhai waqai apnay baradar say bhi zyada hamlawar nikla.

        1. “Anyway these are nuances I wouldn’t expect a Pakistani to understand”– Don’t ever condescend to me. You are no one to do so.

          Babur was not a “villain”. He was the founder of a great dynasty. Lahore was very much a Mughal city.

          It is extremely disingenuous to argue that the disdain for the Mughals in today’s India doesn’t have anything to do with Hindutva.

          1. Ek mamuli janitor kee itnee haisiyat hi kya kay aap jaisay aalimeen ko charagh-e ilm dikha sakay .. laykin aapka yay nacheez khadim jaggu babur-e azam kee shaan mayn kuchh paysh karnaa chahta hai:


            Babur-e azam was beyond doubt a great man. man of his medieval times but certainly not a barbarian by any stretch of the imagination.

            yaar itna sanjeeda to mayn apnay dozakh-ravaan walid ki maiyat pay bhee naheen hua tha … lagta hai aaj raat zyada pila di saqi-e pub-e windsor nayn..

          2. Lol the hindutva card again – run out of ideas have we?

            Jaggu bhaisab – Uzbek Bhai, dil pe na lo yar. Dimag garam mat hone do, warna Babar khud kabar se uth jayenge lol. We’ll go hang out at my mate Chingiz’s kumiss bar in London town sometime

          3. There is no reason for words like “villain” and “barbarian” to be used to describe the Dynasty. This kind of animus only shows your bias.

            The Mughals are beloved of many Indian and Pakistani Muslims.

          1. No; both Tippu and his father, Hyder were born in Budikote, as mall village 10 km from Bangarpet, Karnataka. Hyder was the son of a very lowly signaling artillery commander, and an illiterate man, who worked his way up in Mysore army. Absolutely south Indian, but like all good Indian Muslims, claimed sayyid ancestry.

          2. As I have said being “born”somewhere doesn’t mean that your ethnicity. I hoped it would be clear by now. As for how much “kannada” tipu was please read more on what he did with the language.

  7. The first Islamist invasion of Arya Varsha was in the 640s AD. Much of the the population of the then Persian Empire was Sanathana Dharma (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain) linked. Zorastrianism itself is an Arya religion. Several predominantly Hindu (including Buddhist linked) areas of Persia, Turan and Eastern Afghanistan were conquered then. Raiding parties went much further to the East and South; attacking parts of West India by ship. But they they were mostly pushed back.

    Muawiyah I–who slaughtered so many millions of good muslims and nonmuslims alike–was a Takfiri Jihadi Islamist. His slaughter and oppression of the Arya peoples was extraordinary. Even many great respected Sunni scholars describe Muawiyah as not a rightly guided Caliph.

    The large majority of the Islamist Jihadi oppression of Arya Varsha was not done by the Moghuls. And some giants among humans lived during the Moghul times, including Dara Shikoh and Jahanara Begum. They are among the most extraordinary human beings ever born. They reflected everything that is good and resplendent about Hindustan, Aryavarsha, Bharat and Sanathana Dharma. They are ours.

    1. No serious historian would use 20th century terms like “Islamist” to describe pre-20th century events. This is not done in the Academy.

      But words don’t seem to have meanings for you. You just use them however you please.

        1. “Islamist” refers to 20th century political Islam. At least it does for everyone other than you. Words have agreed-upon meanings.

  8. Jagguji–lion of Turan–how much justifiable pride do you draw from your pre Islamic stunning ancestry versus the rich cultural and religious wisdom of Mohammed, May Peace be Upon Him?

    Do you like Fatimah, Ali, Hassan, Hussein? I “LOVE” them.

  9. @vikram of course bengal was under mughal rule, I know that and I am pretty sure many here do that as well, so dont try to use a clear error on my part to make it seem to reveal my woeful ignorance. Now go and actually if you can, answer to the price difference between Indian goods and english goods in the link provided. which would put an end to that piece of information you provided. And no, bengal is not what ALL of mughal empire was. South India was not mughal empire either. And yes, I do think revisionist historians are trying to make the case of India being richer than it actually was. (it probably was the richest under mughals than it had been before upto that period,thats different argument). And evidence in terms of difference in scientific knowledge by the time of aurangzeb itself reveals this stark difference. Europe had already experienced property rights and copyright laws for many centuries followed by competition among their scientists with many prizes being awarded by governments. By comparison India was so poor in its own documentation of its own situations that many historians seem to think it gives to license to speculate as they wish. This lack of economic documentation itself stands as a pretty good marker of how poor India actually was.

    1. Bharat, for all we know Bharat had a higher PPP per capita income a thousand years before the Moghuls. We simply don’t have accurate historical records.

      1. precisely the point. However, for the same reason I gave earlier, I do think India had the highest period of growth under mughals because we have documentaion of some kind there. A lack of documentation reveals something poor about a society. That isnt the issue, issue is about inequality and there is nothing to show that as being wrong. There was tremendous inequality. Infact this inequality to me explains as to why India was unable to change, if all there existed was feudal lords and no middle class that can counterbalance then society wont be able to change. And when those empires decline, whole society falls into decline with no way out.

  10. “The trend in GDP per capita is in
    line with the trends in wages. India began to fall behind from the middle of the 17th century. In
    1600, Indian GDP per capita was 60% of British GDP per capita and well above Maddison’s
    subsistence annual income of $400. But Indian per capita GDP declined absolutely and
    relatively as shown in figure 2. The Great Divergence began partly due to India’s decline and
    partly due to British Growth. The decline of the urban grain wage is at odds with the picture of
    a buoyant urban economy as shown in the work of Bayly. (1983) The high point of prosperity
    before modern economic growth in India was under Akbar. Indian living standards declined in
    the 18th century and stagnated in the 19th century”

    The earliest systematic evidence on economic wellbeing of the Indian population comes from
    the carefully collected data by Shirin Moosvi (1987) based on the writings of Abul Fazal, a
    member of Akbar’s court, in 1595. At this point, the average living standard was well above
    subsistence. Using this data, a comparison of wages of unskilled urban workers in 1595 and
    1961, show that purchasing power of wages under Akbar was higher in 1595. (Desai 1972)
    This is supported by evidence on higher land productivity. Desai shows that for most crops,
    yield per acre was higher in 1595 compared to 1910″


    And shirin moosvi makes the same point of inequality and also that high point of India was probably under Akbar.Both can be simultaneously true. India had large number of poor, thin very rich elite and no middle class. Lack of middle class meant with decline of mughal empire, society wasnt able to adequately transform to new modes of production.

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