66 thoughts on “Brown Pundits podcast, the Browncast episode 1”

  1. Rohingya is one of the most important issues you raised. De facto Myamnar’s policy is popular in Thailand, China and India. It has solidified the decision by both China and India to train and equip the Afghan National Army; and collaborate to deal with global Islamist Jihadism. This might lead to joint collaborative training/equipping of the Iraqi Army and various African armies resisting Jihadis as well.

    It has also caused a major fissure between the global post modernist intelligentsia and caucasian intelligentsia on one side; and China, Thailand, Myamnar, India, Hinduism/Buddhism/Jainism on the other. It is driving a demonization of Hinduism/Buddhism as a version of applied Nazism.

    [As an aside since the global post modernist intelligentsia and global caucasian intelligentsia are not favorable to either China, Tibetan Buddhists or the Dalai Lama . . . they are silent on Tibet.]

    Rohingya has also become a major issue in the muslim world.

    It is incredibly difficult and dangerous to have an honest discussion of Rohingya which allows freedom of art and thought. In addition almost all Rohingya nominal activists know almost nothing about it . . . and have no curiosity to learn anything about it. Their “ideas” regarding Rohingya policy would almost certainly make things worse.

    In fact anyone who tries to explore Rohingya with an open mind and encourage dialogue between {Burmese + the Burmese army + Theravada Buddhists} on one side and various Rohingya factions [there are many besides ARSA] on the other; risks being labeled a Nazi.

    Many Rohingya have moved to Kashmir, causing a negative response on the part of Kashmiris. Burmese bring up what happened to Kashmiri minorities (initially Hindu/Buddhist, but later Shiites, Sufis, liberal Sunnis and Christians too) and want assurances that something similar will not happen to Burmese

    Rohingya is complicated by large and influential Al Qaeda linked network, Daesh linked network and Pakistani Army Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate presences.

    Rohingya is also complicated by Bangladesh’s internal destabilization. Probably a majority of Bangladeshi voters want at least some Rohingya to leave Bangladesh. And they want international funding to pay for hosting Rohingya.

    Many Bengalis are asking if Bangladesh is falling apart. Bangladesh has seen a reduction in freedom of art and thought. Many journalists, politicians, thought leaders have moved out of Bangladesh or sent their families outside Bangladesh for safety. Bengalis are deeply concerned that Jihadi Rohingya (a minority of all Rohingya to be sure) will further destabilize Bangladesh.

    1. That is a good point – the Rohingya seems to be part of a “Left” strategy to discredit right-wing Dharmism?

      This isn’t to negate the human suffering.

      1. I don’t know that it is part of a “left” strategy. The objective fact is that people are being massacred and made stateless.

        1. There is a major challenge with respect to Rohingya. Where are the ideas for how to improve the lives of Rohingya?

          Should Rohingya be allowed to join re-education camps that teach the greatness of Myamnar culture/civilization? And about the dangers of Islamism and Jihadism? And to be wary of the large ISI Directorate, Al Qaeda linked, Daesh linked presence and agenda? Should the greatness of syncretic Hindu Buddhist Islam be honored?

          In 2007 Iraq, the Iraqi Army launched a massive nationwide offensive. They entered areas they hadn’t been in before, evicting Al Qaeda and militias loyal to Khamenei. In many cases local Iraqis celebrated and cheered the Iraqi army. Iraqi Army soldiers were given flowers, sweets and food by a grateful people. Iraqi flags were proudly displayed.

          When the Myamnar police and Myamnar army comes, why don’t Rohingya garland them, give them sweets and foods with love and adoration? Why don’t Rohingya waive Myamnar flags and sing patriotic and heart moving spiritual songs? Why don’t Rohingya honor and revere the great Theravada monks? They can do this while remaining authentic and true muslims.

          Questions and ideas of this kind cannot be safely asked in many nonmuslim circles anymore without the “Nazi” label being thrown at someone.

          In India and around the world people are afraid to be called a Nazi on social media. Which then makes getting jobs far more difficult.

          There is a big difference between what people secretly believe and what they pretend to believe to the public.

          1. Why would anyone garland an army that is committing atrocities against them? People are not fleeing to Bangladesh for the fun of it.

            This cannot be a serious argument.

          2. Kabir, do you think the Rohingya should be allowed to form their own state from parts of Myamnar, India and Bangladesh? Do you think this state should be allowed to join Pakistan?

            In 1947 and 1948 many Rohingya tried to join Pakistan. They failed. Burma didn’t didn’t want Pakistan to get part of Burma and India. [At that time Bangladesh was part of Pakistan and the Rohingya state would have extended Bangladesh to the east.]

            Are you concerned that an independent Rohingya state might be conquered and ruled by militias linked to Al Qaeda or Daesh? Many people are. Do you think that Bangladesh, Myamnar and India (let alone China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka) can tolerate such a situation? [Note that Myanmar and Sri Lankan have very close historic ties, including through Theravada Buddhism. There are links between Islamist Sri Lankans and Rohingya.]

            How would you persuade Rohingya not to want a separate state? At least not until their merit, competence, capacity and institutions are far stronger.

            Burmese are loving spiritual good people. They abhore violence. It is very easy to get along with Burmese (and Indians too for that matter.)

          3. All I want is for people to not be sent to concentration camps and massacred.

            Not interested in elaborate justifications for atrocities.

  2. I adore Zack’s accent! It is very upper-class. I just listened to the first 5 minutes, but I had to say that.

    The “Pakistani” identity is an interesting concept. I am wondering why Zack identifies with it so strongly given that he is not a Muslim and also did not really grow up in Pakistan. As he said, all his grandparents were from India.

    In my own case, two of the four grandparents were from what is today India while the other two were from Pakistan. But I identify as “Pakistani” since both my parents grew up there and I was also born there. Plus, I have spent significant time there as an adult. However, for all intents and purposes I subscribe to a larger “Indian” or South Asian identity, since the Pakistani identity is quite narrow and mainly focused on Islam. I don’t see any reason to ditch hundreds of years of history because of a mid-20th century political conflict.

        1. Merci – the podcast is very fasting and furious; Razib drops these middle class words (lacunae, a few others, the “Middle Classes” in Britain being the ultimate arbiter of all things intellectual these days) that I’ve heard but never actually used in a conversation..

          So it was tough going as I was trying to match his vocab but couldn’t!

        1. Listening, I’d have said your accent was upper-middle class (what Brits call “middle class”), and that it was the one you were raised to speak.

          Except that you admit Razib poked your insecurities with his vocabulary (he’d probably have the same effect on me!). Given that, it’s possible your “natural” accent is middle class (Brit “working class”) and you code-switched up, to keep up with Razib. You would know better than any listener which it was.

        1. “A lot of Americans are just colonials in denial. Not pointing any fingers…”
          Would you say this is true of most people around the world? If so, we agree.

          What does “colonials” mean to you? I would be very interested in your take on the Hinduttva article?

    1. I guess I’m comfortable with being a BritPak Bahai..

      The Bahai Faith is so Persianate that it more than accounts for my Persian side; while the Pak bit accounts for all things desi.

      1. Interesting. I guess I’m wondering why you would stay with the label “Pakistani” rather than something like “South Asian”. “Pakistani” reduces to Islam in most people’s minds (not that it should necessarily). Since you mentioned all your grandparents were from today’s India and you are married to an Indian, what charm does the specifically Pakistani identity hold for you?

  3. Congratulations guys! I really enjoyed it. What I most liked is that both of you are fast talkers and clear speakers. In some podcasts people just hem and haw and aaahs so much and prolonging what they want to say.

    Having interesting people from South Asia as guests is a wonderful idea. Both of you will make good interviewers. I suggest that before an interiew BP readers should submit questions and also vote on the questions to see which ones people want to hear more. Anyway, I havea good feeling about this. This may bring BP to yet another level.

      1. Shashi Tharoor and others are much bigger fish! For now, I think that there are lot of interesting people the blog can host regularly. South Asian academics in South Asia, Britain or America. South Asian political activists (even SJWs). For example, lot of London Muslim activists have become vanguard of Jeremy Corbyn’s labor. It would be interesting to hear perspectives of these East London activists, locally elected officials etc.

        I think general activists and academics have much more interesting things to say than celebrity Political Leaders who can only say highly choreographed words.

          1. Razib, mainstream people would be more willing to engage with Brown Pundits than some might believe.

            “nor are they that interesting a lot of the time….” This is the main problem. Many high profile people are a lot less candid in public than in private.

      2. On Joshi and Tharoor i am a bit skeptical on how valid their views are things like religion, culture etc.
        Its always tricky to ask agnostic and folks who are more global in outlook to really talk about these stuff. If the topics are on foreign policy etc its great.

  4. I had an epiphany folks. I think my future lies in India. I am going to India to find a job and settle down, maybe a janitor in Rashtrapati Bhawan. Turan aayangay aur jayayngay, Hindustan tha, hai aur rahayga! Wish me luck.


      1. ppl who have suggestions about the opening and closing can make it here. i basically just learned how to do this last night so might make changes.

        though the podcast obv never going to be ‘overproduced’.

    1. That was a good touch.
      Harkens back to the eternal narrator from mythological shows of the Doordarshan era. A conch shell would have completed the effect.

  5. Great podcast to introduce yourselves to the new readers.
    Now that you guys realized most of us ARE reading the comments, could you please (please…!) improve your comment software to filter out people we don’t want to see?
    I would scroll a lot less past a few names.

    Thanks in advance!

  6. “All I want is for people to not be sent to concentration camps and massacred.”

    Have Rohingya been sent to concentration camps?

    When you use the word “massacre”, are you referring differences in COIN application that you have with the Myamnar military? If so, there are many global military journals you can post articles in, including the Small Wars Journal. Is this your critique? Or is your larger issue that Rohinya should be allowed their own independent state carved out of Myamnar, India and Bangladesh?

    “Not interested in elaborate justifications for atrocities.”
    How do you define atrocities? Do you believe that Burmese should practice Sathya Graha? Should Burma allow islamist jihadis such as ARSA to conquer and rule much of Burma . . . killing off many Burmese people (especially LBGTQ) in the process? Do you believe that the good Burmese people should melt the hearts of Islamist Jihadis through prema ka rasa or the sweetness of love over a generation or two? This is a legitimate point of view, and one many Buddhists/Hindus/Jains hold.

    1. “Have Rohingya been massacred”?

      Do you live in reality or follow the news at all? People have been killed, raped, etc. Villages have been burned down. I believe they don’t have citizenship rights because Myanmar thinks they are “Bengali”.

      People don’t flee their country for no reason.

      This is becoming pointless, so I’m going to bow out. I am disgusted when people make excuses for mass murder.

      1. I feel deeply uncomfortable making pronouncements about Rohingya without additional information . . . a multi-dimensional map of the ecosystem. What are the various Rohingya factions and their relationship to each other? What are their various relationships with the GCC, ISI, Al Qaeda, Daesh, various Myamnar factions, various Indian factions, various Bangladeshi factions, China and Thailand? What Rohingya factions want to live in Myamnar, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and why? What are all their objectives?

        Can you provide information on rape? Is there evidence that the Myamnar chain of command is complicit?

        Have civilians been killed in significant numbers except in cross fire between maneuver platoons and companies?

        Why did villages burn? How did they catch fire? Were Burmese troops trying to remove sniper spots from which they were being attacked? Or was there another reason?

        “People don’t flee their country for no reason.” What are their objectives in Bangladesh and India? Do they seek to rule parts of Bangladesh and India? Or not? What are their views on Islamism and Islamic theology? To what degree do they feel threatened from Islamist Jihadis (which ones?) and want protection from them? Who do they want to protect them from Islamist Jihadis.

        How many are open to renouncing insurgency, separatism and choosing to become patriotic citizens of Myamnar (or Bangladesh, India, China or Thailand)? Who do they want dialogue with?

        To what degree to Rohingya have freedom of art, speech and thought? Do we really know what they want?

        Without information and understanding there can be no adjustment or solutions. First understanding and then adjustment is automatic.

        Rohingya activists don’t have to know everything. Their views are fine. I don’t understand the way they think and process information. I don’t understand their sequence of critical thinking. And I don’t understand their proposed solutions.

        This is a larger problem with all 7.7 billion humans. There is a problem with thought phobia. With critical thinking and problem solving. My hope is that neuroscience will find ways to address this. Possibly through exercise, stretching, breathing, meditation (electric stimulation of the brain and nervous system), music (sound brain therapy), bio-engineering, hybrid AI/human intelligence with computer brain interface.

        1. Decent human beings don’t need “additional information” to say that rape and murder are wrong. There is a reason that the entire international community is on one side and people want Aung San Su Kyi to return her Nobel Prize. Human rights are being violated and this is unacceptable.

          Here is an overview from the BBC.

          This is absolutely my last comment on this. Not interested in long-winded defenses of the Myanmar government.

          1. There was some information in this that I found useful. Thank you.

            Decent human beings do need additional information. Are the rape allegations statistically significant? Rape is strongly condemned by Hinduism and Buddhist Hinduism. It is hard for me to believe that the Myamnar chain of command wouldn’t do everything in their power to prevent their soldiers from raping civilians and damaging character and reputation of Myamnar.

            It appears to me from the outside that Myamnar’s military isn’t well trained and not knowledgeable in COIN. They would benefit enormously from COIN training by China, India , Thailand or NATO. I wonder about their ROEs and their use of coordinated combined fires. Did tactical air controllers call in air strikes and Arty? Were the villages that burnt down villages from which the Myamnar military received incoming fire? Were any villages from which the army didn’t receive fire burnt? These are my very distant first glance observations without knowledge. I could be wrong.

            Aung San Su Kyi has more international support than you believe. Her policy on Rohingya is extremely popular in Myamnar. Which suggests to me that international press might be purposely inaccurately portraying the conflict. But then this might not be taking place.

            How many Rohingya are siding with the Myamnar in this conflict? The international press inaccurately covered the war in Chechnya and Bosnia/Albania/Kosovo/Serbia and Kashmir and Iraq and Lebanon and Yemen and Tunisia/Algeria/Yemen and many other places. Partly because most of the “war journalists” I have closely interacted with are almost completely uninformed about anything military. They are like pre-schoolers in a PHD seminar understanding almost nothing and misinterpreting most of what they think they are understanding. [I have encountered some journalists who know their stuff too.]

            One of my good friends described 80% of war correspondents as in this category.

            Has the Myamnar military had any embedded journalists?

            In closing the BBC has for many generations had a very strong anti Hindu Buddhist sectarian bigoted agenda dating from the empire. This has often involved wholesale made up propaganda to discredit, delegitimize, deconstruct and dismantle Hinduism and Buddhist Hinduism. This accusation is not made lightly. Although that doesn’t mean all their material is inaccurate. This piece might be accurate.

          2. “Are the rape allegations statistically significant”?

            You have got to be kidding me! Almost everyone familiar with this issue (and I am by no means an expert on it) agrees that Rohingya Muslims have become stateless people and their human rights are being violated. This is not up for discussion. I don’t know why you think Buddhists aren’t capable of violence. Members of all religious groups have been violent at times. Ethnic cleansing is sadly all too common. Rape is a common weapon of war.

            If you don’t trust the BBC, then I really cannot help you in whichever alternate world you live in.

  7. “Almost everyone familiar with this issue (and I am by no means an expert on it) agrees that Rohingya Muslims have become stateless people”
    This appears to be true for many. But is this true of Rohingya with Myamnar citizenship? This issue needs to be resolved [Either they become patriotic citizens of Burma, China, Thailand, India or Bangladesh; or they get their own state . . . they don’t have the option of joining Pakistan, however.]

    “their human rights are being violated.”
    They are suffering. This doesn’t mean someone else is responsible. Even if others contribute to their suffering . . . there is a difference between sins of omission and commission. Far more important than atrributing blame is to help Rohingya solve their own challenges.

    “This is not up for discussion.” Everything should be up for discussion.

    “I don’t know why you think Buddhists aren’t capable of violence. Members of all religious groups have been violent at times.”
    Myamnar’s army has clearly fought a war against Rohingya militias and terrorists. They have fought with lax rules of engagement (ROEs), imprecise combined fires, imprecise ISR and imperfect C2. They have killed many civilians. My question is how have they killed civilians and when. Killing civilians in legal military operations are permissible under international law.

    “Ethnic cleansing is sadly all too common.” Yes and no. Many people do not engage in ethnic cleansing, even after very vicious wars. Significant evidence is needed to make a charge of ethnic cleansing.

    “Rape is a common weapon of war.” This is heavily exaggerated. Rape is not a common weapon of war. Rather a certain percentage of people commit illegal rapes, despite the chain of command trying to stop it.

    African American females are raped at an extraordinarily high rate. Much higher than woman in many vicious wars (let alone countries such as India). Is this because rape is being used as a weapon of war?

    “If you don’t trust the BBC, then I really cannot help you in whichever alternate world you live in.”
    Trust Allah. Trust the wisdom that Allah flows through us from inside ourselves. Trust the conscience or intuition when calm peace pervades. Indescribable wisdom and intelligence is inside us if we only allow ourselves to be free.

    1. I believe that Myanmar is denying the Rohingya citizenship because the state considers them “Bengali”. This is the crux of the whole issue.
      As for ethnic cleansing, the UN has called it a ” genocide”. I would be inclined to trust the UN’s assessment

      1. ” I would be inclined to trust the UN’s assessment”
        In the last decade the UN has been overrun by post modernist ideologues that distort reality. We need to use our own intuition; research and find out for ourselves.

        “I believe that Myanmar is denying the Rohingya citizenship because the state considers them “Bengali”. This is the crux of the whole issue.”
        I would love an estimate of the number of Rohingya with the citizenship of:
        —no country

        I would also like to survey those who are not citizens of any country and find out what they want. If they want to become patriotic citizens of a particular country and how they want to serve their chosen country.

        How many seek a Caliphate? How many seek a global Caliphate that rules the world? How many pretend to favor a Caliphate for fear of Islamist retaliation against them but in reality do not?

        1. I really don’t know what to say to someone who doesn’t trust the UN or the BBC except that you really live in your own bizzaro world. Thankfully, most rational people still accept the credibility of these institutions.

          1. Kabir, ask how many people trust the UN and BBC in your own circle. The answers might surprise you.

            Don’t only ask Jews, Hindus, Buddhist . . . who you might regard as biased.

            Very few Iraqis trust the BBC and UN for cause. Very few Afghans trust the BBC, which they see as biased to Pakistan and Arabs. Few Egyptians trust the BBC and UN for cause. [BBC and UN and America for that matter backed the Ikhwan and Morsi.]

          2. You know what? I live in the real world. The UN and the BBC have far more credibility than random people on the Internet.


  8. Listening to the podcast.

    The first part I get is that both have a deep knowledge of their ancestry and the understanding that it is not from a single (endogamous) group.

    I get the feeling many who comment here have the same kind of background. i.e. knowledge of their deep ancestry. As such they have the confidence to be for or against practices in their professed native country/language.

    As Zach says, we take our issues seriously, but not that seriously.

    Is that just debate among the rootless cosmopolitans.

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