Biryani Night

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I swear I’m not spamming but it so happened last night the Cambridge South Asian Forum hosted an event (biryani was the reward) about the Kashmiri docu-film Harud. This was after the Kashmir play last Saturday night.

It was a slow film done in the Persian style (the lead actor’s father was actually Persian but had flawless Urdu).

As an aside this is the second time I’ve seen an Iranian actor (the Nargis character in Sacred Games is actually an Iranian) and their command of the Urdu language is flawless. Contrast this to Katrina Kaif who still needs to be dubbed.

I’ll bullet point my observations:

(1.) the post-modern India literati is simply scathing. I cannot imagine Pakistanis academically discussing the secession of Baluchistan.

(2.) I made a very controversial comment last night at the round table (there were 25 of us; no Muslims all upper castes except me and I was the only Pakistani) saying India can’t understand her Muslim minority.

(3.) I also made points about the very high cultural affinity between Kashmiri Muslims and Pakistan (we are all part of the Indus Valley). Did not go down well; when I saw Srinagar it reminded me of one of our cities on the Indus..

(4.) Yesterday one of my friends made the spectacular suggestion that South Asia needs a Good Friday Agreement. We can all accept the current borders if they become (much) softer.

(5.) Europe spent 50 million lives and a century of war (hot & cold) and now the EU is interlocking the continent into one unit. Why can’t India do the same about SAARC ex Pakistan?

(5a.) Why doesn’t South Asia have free movement of capital, good and people beyond the troublesome northwestern bits.

(6.) Prosperity and cultural autonomy can go a very long way to alleviate tensions in the region; the Indo-Pak corner is simply one area. Why can’t rich Indians do lavish weddings in Sri Lanka or the Maldives instead of Thailand or Italy?

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74 Replies to “Biryani Night”

  1. “Why can’t rich Indians do lavish weddings in Sri Lanka or the Maldives instead of Thailand or Italy?”

    I feel like tourism to Sri Lanka has been picking up of late. Know quite a few folks who have visited recently or are planning to visit. It never used to figure as prominently in vacation plans till about 3-4 years back.

    An article I came across from a quick Google search:
    https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sri-lanka-eyes-over-26-per-cent-growth-in-indian-travellers-in-2017-4534975/

    1. Yes the economies of scale of India is now simply phenomenal – she doesn’t realise that China is a fierce and deadly competitor.

      Pakistan and China have created a road link from Beijing/Shanghai to Gwadar. Shocking tbh; India has neglected her historic territories and sphere.

      1. Why would you ever think the road from Beijing through taklamakan and Karakoram is in the Indian ambit? I think the confusion with the great silk road is because the great silk road was when India and Pakistan and parts of Afghanisthan was confused as belonging to an Indian polity. Today there is no economical reason for a road connection to China, when shipping is much cheaper.

        By 15th century, the great continental land routes had become economically weak; look athe history of Britain after 16th century. And the china vs. India trope should be retired quickly. The GDP ratio is now 5. All India can do is try to move to a higher growth rate.

          1. But, can we leave things be? Pakistan is Pakistan, and India is India. Neither is destined for “great”. Modest will be sufficient for the both of us, as in modestly sized economy, food for all, modest health outcomes. Dreams of akhand India on the part of Muslims, Hindus or others are a waste of time and energy. Beggars cannot be dreamers.

          2. Vijay, the idea that Asians cannot be great is English colonization of the mind with inferiority complex and lack of self confidence. You are too smart to be hoodwinked by the global post modernist intelligentsia.

            Asians are not beggars. Asians can be great. Asians are great.

            Every country has severe challenges. But no challenge or obstacle can compare with the infinite indescribable potential inside every one of us.

            Even if India remains deeply dysfunctional and poor per capita, India will soon have a much larger economy (and far more billionaires) than America simply because India has so many people. India’s soft (cultural, spiritual), hard and economic power will be felt in every part of the world.

            India needs to contribute to the global commons (investments that benefit the world more than they benefit the agent investing) alongside the rest of Asia and the world.

            “akhand India”
            Do you support global free trade, free investment, free cross border product development, free labor? This is what many people mean by “akhand India.”

          3. Anan, perhaps India can be great by letting go of certain pretences, getting the basics down, and putting one foot in front of the other, much like an effective person. Then someday after achieving some of these things, she can revisit her grandiose ambitions and they won’t be feckless posturing.
            Its great that some are keeping the flame alive for the civilisational spirit to soar and what not, but it has to be tempered with pragmatism.
            \\Even if India remains deeply dysfunctional and poor per capita, India will soon have a much larger economy (and far more billionaires) than America simply because India has so many people. India’s soft (cultural, spiritual), hard and economic power will be felt in every part of the world\\
            This sounds like an awful prospect, that India’s legacy will be to bring prestige to a model that commodifies human life like no other.

          4. Anan

            “Vijay, the idea that Asians cannot be great is English colonization of the mind ”

            I never said Asians cannot be great, Asians (in American terminology) are already great, just not Indians.

            The expectations of this board members vis-a-vis Indian reality is well beyond the scope of what India can do. A fine example will be airbases in foreign countries, Given the critical shortage of, both, planes and pilots (KC.Khanduri’s parliamentary commitee report on IAF readiness, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3058008/Crisis-air-force-report-claims-India-running-fighter-pilots.html), what does a base in Afghanistan mean? How do they plan to get there?

            Need to walk before we can run. Before integrating with Pakistan and China, let us integrate Jharkand, Chattisgarh to India.

        1. Vijay, India’s first international military base was north of Afghanistan. It was designed to help the Northern Alliance and later the Afghan Government.

          Turin and Bharat and Iran were all part of Arya Varsha. One of the most important generals in the Kaurava army as per Bhishma (Sudakshina) commanded large armies from Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Iran (Sakas) and from Tajikistan/Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan (might have also ruled Mazar e Sharif and Herat Afghanistan . . . although Mazar might have been part of Gandhara at that time). Arjuna killed Sudakshina on the 14th day of the war.

          The Stans are far more interested in an alliance with India than visa versa. India should form alliances with them.

          India and China could benefit from rail lines through Kashmir. India could then directly trade with Afghanistan via a rail network through Kashmir, China and Badakshan Afghanistan.

          # Stan in the Hood

    2. However, most of the Indian tourists are in US, UK, Malaysia/Sing/Thailand and China.

      https://www.news18.com/news/india/4-7-million-indian-tourists-went-abroad-in-2017-us-uk-china-top-list-1819785.html

      The last was a surprise, and true; I did the usual shenzen-shanhai-beijing trip in 2017 summer, and saw a boatload of Indians, especially in the old city. The languasge barrier was bigger in Colombo than in Shanghai. Chinese metro and HST system is very english-friendly, and Indians can easily avoid the packaged tours.

  2. Zach, important detail, what kind of biriyani was served?

    Regarding point (1), the indian intelligentsia can speak with great detachment perhaps because the size of the country allows for it, and more controversially, i often feel like indians don’t like each other by default. Pakistanis in my experience are better at the whole fellow feeling bit, and its not just a muslim solidarity thing, maybe indus folks are a bit more happy-go-lucky or something.

    1. Veg and non veg biryani
      The chicken biryani was made far better..
      Well the Indus Hindu ethnicities have distinct cultural traits (can’t speak for Kashmiri Pandits but Punjabi and Sindhi Hindus/Sikhs are notorious for their exuberance).

  3. One thing that must be said for India is the greater freedom of speech as compared to Pakistan. Try to discuss Balochistan and you are likely to get picked up by the Army, especially if you say the wrong thing. A few years ago a proposed seminar on the topic at LUMS was canceled because of establishment pressure.

    Then again, the event you are talking about was held in the UK. Perhaps if the same comments had been made in India, there would have been a different reaction.

    I’m all for softer borders. That would be good for Indians, Pakistanis and Kashmiris. That was a major part of the Musharraf-Manmohan Plan.

    1. “Then again, the event you are talking about was held in the UK. Perhaps if the same comments had been made in India, there would have been a different reaction.”
      India’s post modernist elite don’t like India. Any discussion inside India would likely be far more negative about India.

      “I’m all for softer borders. That would be good for Indians, Pakistanis and Kashmiris. That was a major part of the Musharraf-Manmohan Plan.”

      So you have changed your position? Very good. Can you lobby for Pakistan, Afghanistan and India to have a free trade, free investment, free cross border product development, free skilled labor mobility agreement? This would be a massive positive supply shock to the Afghan economy and transform Afghanistan from a poor to a lower middle income country.

      1. No, I have not changed my position. We can have softer borders without ceding national sovereignty.

        Afghanistan is frankly not my concern. Pakistan is never going to let India use Afghanistan to damage our national security.

        1. So you support a Pakistani Afghanistani Indian free trade, free investment, free cross border product development, free skilled labor mobility agreement? I am confused.

          “Afghanistan is frankly not my concern. Pakistan is never going to let India use Afghanistan to damage our national security.”
          This comes across as awfully crass. Given the Pakistani policy to harm Afghanistan since 1947.

          1. I was referring to the Musharraf-Manmohan plan. Don’t try to extrapolate. You’re not good at it.

            Pakistan will not let India encircle us using Afghanistan. Wake up to the reality.

          2. A Pakistani Afghan Indian free trade, free investment, free cross border product development, free skilled labor mobility agreement does not encircle Pakistan by any stretch of the imagination. It is WIN WIN WIN WIN. Win for Afghanistan. Win for Pakistan. Win for India. Win for the world. It would do wonders to reduce anti Pakistani sentiment among Afghans.

            I don’t understand you.

          3. Pakistan doesn’t trust India’s intentions in Afghanistan. Any solution that is inimical to Pakistan’s national security interests is not viable.

            This back and forth is getting pointless now.

          4. Pakistan needs to trust the loving divine goodness, character and values of the Afghan people. The Afghan people will exceed Pakistan’s expectations. Afghanistan wants the success of Afghanistan and benefits from Pakistani success because of the complimentary relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan (1 + 1 = 3). Afghans are rooting for Pakistani success.

            Afghanistan wants to form close friendships and alliances with other countries. This is very good and will benefit Pakistan immensely. The rise of Afghanistan, a strong Afghanistan, will benefit Pakistan immensely.

            Trust the Afghans. Again, trust the Afghans.

            Pakistan only faces two major threats:
            —global Islamic civil war (and the Islamist colonization of the Pakistani mind)
            —lack of Pakistani capacity, competence and merit (partly because of the global Islamic civil war)

            Pakistan is surrounded on all sides by friends who are praying for Pakistani success.

          5. Like any country, Pakistan has the right to act in its own national security interest. National security interest is defined by the Pakistan Army.

            Afghanistan is a sovereign country and can form relationships with whoever they please. But if those relationships are deterimental to Pakistan, Pakistan will take action.

            We have reasons for not “trusting” the Afghans or India. Our concerns have to be addressed if you want trust to be built up.

            “Loving divine goodness”–this is bizzarro speak. I can’t even respond to this.

  4. By “Upper Caste” do you mean mostly Brahmins (namely Kashmiri Pandits, given the setting), or the Jats and Patels that make up most of Britain’s Indian community?

    Also, totally in favor of a South Asian Union (dare I say it, Greater India?).

        1. LOL, no Pakistani is going to agree to be part of anything called “Greater India”. Pakistani Punjabis are the most wedded to the idea of Pakistan.

          I can’t speak for them but I doubt many Bangladeshis are going to be jumping up and down about “Greater India” either.

          Softer borders can be achieved without giving up national sovereignty.

          1. “I can’t speak for them but I doubt many Bangladeshis are going to be jumping up and down about “Greater India” either.”

            Bangladeshis are far more supportive of a free trade, free investment, free cross border product development, free skilled labor mobility agreement with India than India is.

            Some Indians such as Sadguru have proposed India assume responsibility for developing Bangladesh. These ideas are sadly unpopular in India. Indians see Bangladesh as poor with many problems and want to stay away.

        2. Indo-Carib, Pakistan’s Afghan/Iranic provinces are very pro Indian. If they could join India . . . they just might! Too bad India does not want them.

      1. I want to pour cold water on these thoughts quickly. India is not Punjab and UP, where the interest in Pakistan exists. When you read all the Pakistan discussion in English language media, it is all driven by new Internet Hindus who wait for some news from pakistan to pounce on, and attempt to settle some imaginary Hindu-Muslim scores. Until the Nehru-Ghandi days, the foreign policy driven by 7, Race Course Road and south block which was populated with Doon school Ghandi family sidekicks like Haksar and others. They had an overabundant sense of themselves and Pakistan-centric policy was the result of some unfulfilled Kashmir fantasies.

        Now, Sushma Swaraj is not a significant member of the cabinet. There is no Doon school mafia around the PM. In Maharashtra, south India, Bengal, and dare I say, Gujarat, there is no real interest in Pakistan issues. Appropriately, Pakistan news has been tamped to a few “support of terrorism” sound bites. Soft borders, trade, etc are meaningless when the Pakistani market is fully china-penetrated. The only hope is benign ignorance and neglect on both sides. That will suit India and Pakistan just fine. That is the best I can hope for, in my lifetime.

        Unlike all the members here who are all Kashmir experts, I know next to nothing about that.

        1. Perceptive comment Vijay. This matches my observation as well. Most Indians know little about and are not curious about Pakistan.

          “Soft borders, trade, etc are meaningless when the Pakistani market is fully china-penetrated.” The opposite. Chinese penetration is precisely why it will work between Pakistan and India too. Soft border between Pakistan and India would help facilitate a Pakistani economic miracle.

        2. yes, I think you spoke for majority of Indians in this case, pakistan is only consequential in terms of what it can do to hurt us. Apart from that, it means nothing at all except for some north Indian idiots.

  5. “(1.) the post-modern India literati is simply scathing. I cannot imagine Pakistanis academically discussing the secession of Baluchistan.”
    Do you mean the Kashmiris were post modernist? I have not found that to be true. Islamist violence tends to drive post modernism out of people.

    Kashmiri Hindus are all Brahmins, or so I have been told by Kashmiris.

    “saying India can’t understand her Muslim minority.”
    How so? I think Indians don’t understand how much Indian muslims fear Islamist extremists and non muslim Indians don’t do nearly enough to protect Indian muslims from Islamist extremists. Including protecting the freedom of speech of muslims, protecting muslim females and LBGT from Shariah.

    Indians should also proudly embrace Indian Sufis, Indian Shiites (twelver and sixer), Indian Sunni liberals and Indian atheist muslims. Instead of cowardly standing away from them to avoid the anger of Islamists.

  6. ” I also made points about the very high cultural affinity between Kashmiri Muslims and Pakistan (we are all part of the Indus Valley). Did not go down well; when I saw Srinagar it reminded me of one of our cities on the Indus..”
    This is undeniably true. It is also true that there is a very high cultural affinity between Pakistan and India.

    “Yesterday one of my friends made the spectacular suggestion that South Asia needs a Good Friday Agreement. We can all accept the current borders if they become (much) softer.” I have always felt this. Isn’t this the vision put forth by Vajpayee and Modi?

    “(6.) Prosperity and cultural autonomy can go a very long way to alleviate tensions in the region; the Indo-Pak corner is simply one area. Why can’t rich Indians do lavish weddings in Sri Lanka or the Maldives instead of Thailand or Italy?”
    And Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myamnar.

    Hopefully Ind0-Chinese relations will improve to the point that the Indian Tibet Chinese border becomes soft as well. Then we can all meld together.

  7. “girmit says:
    November 18, 2018 at 7:20 pm
    Anan, perhaps India can be great by letting go of certain pretences”
    Which pretenses? Most Indians personally suffer from inferiority complex and lack of self confidence that significantly limits their personal and societal success. Let me quote Vivekananda:
    http://swamivivekananda-thegreathindumonk.blogspot.com/2012/01/swami-vivekanandas-thoughts-on-self.html
    —“Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God – this is the secret of greatness. If you have faith in all the three hundred and thirty million of your mythological gods, and still have no faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you.”
    —“The remedy for weakness is not brooding over weakness, but thinking of strength. Teach men of strength that is already within them.”
    —“You must not say that you are weak. How do you know what possibilities lie behind that degradation on the surface? You know but little of that which is within you. For behind you is the ocean of infinite power and blessedness.”
    —“We can overcome the difficulty by constant practice. We must learn that nothing happen to us, unless we make ourselves susceptible to it.”
    —“It is the coward and the fool who says, “This is fate” – so says the Sanskrit proverb. But it is the strong may who stands up and says, “I will make my fate”. It is people who are getting old who talk of fate. Young men generally do not come to astrology.”
    —“Ekalavya, an ideal for modern students, learnt archery without any external help. By self-effort and faith in one’s power, longing for knowledge and by self-reliance, one can do miracles.”
    —“You have in you a thousand times more than is in all the books. Never lose faith in yourself, you can do anything in this universe. Never weaken, all power is yours.”
    —“Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin? To say that you are weak, or others are weak.”
    —“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
    —“You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.”

    Other quotes:
    —“Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succor you want is within yourself. Therefore make your own future.”
    —“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.”
    —“All power is within you, you can do anything and everything.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    This is the Arya or Bharatiya way. Self confidence or Atma Vishwasana. It doesn’t solve everything, but it solves a lot.

    Personal and societal success derives from four things:
    —physical health (self confidence helps improve physical health)
    —mental health or Chitta Shuddhi (self confidence is part of Chitta Shuddhi)
    —Intelligence or Buddhi (correlated to physical health and mental health . . . which in turn are correlated with self confidence)
    —a distant fourth is good company, because of the affect of company on the first three

    I don’t have the exact Vivekananda quote, but he said something to the effect that it is better to have self confidence and a little pride. The pride can be handled later on. For Indians to achieve anything, self confidence is needed.

    Part of the heart of eastern philosophy (Zorastrianism, Taoism, Bon, Sanathana Dharma) is:
    —we are potentially powerful
    —we are potentially wise
    —we are divine
    —we can have free art, free thought (manas), free intuition (Buddhi), free subtle feelings (Ananda Maya Kosha)
    —we can achieve true freedom

    Anyone is free to disagree if they choose. A young Karl Marx studied India (wrote 50 papers about India) and strongly disagreed with the above. And so Marxism was born. The English imposed this marxist substrate on the minds of Indians and their other colonial subjects. Other Europeans copied and imposed this on global academia. This is a major reason why per capita GDP in Asia, Africa and Latin America fell to such a small percentage of West European per capita GDP through the 1960s.

    The world is trying to undue this terrible mental abuse the Europeans inflicted on the world.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    “This sounds like an awful prospect, that India’s legacy will be to bring prestige to a model that commodifies human life like no other.”

    Can you elaborate? What commodifies human life?

    1. Anan, not of you personally, but some urban Indians view the rise of Indian nominal GDP without any nuance as though tracking the valuation of an enterprise. This view is able to register success in a way that I find vulgar, where quantity is valued over quality, and the logical end of this view is that a large and increasing population is considered favourably in that value can be extracted from it, as producers and customers. Such people feign confidence that dignity that today cannot be afforded to most of our population will somehow materialize for many multiples of it.
      I have no problems with wealth accumulation and the luxury economy, but this ruthless greed is over the top and not essential to creating prosperity. I would hope India learns the love of work and craft from some of our eastern spiritual cousins, and build a culture of honest labor.

        1. It is pretty obscene, isn’t it? I wonder what can be done to fix this frankly obscene wealth inequality.

          I propose rounding up the top 0.01% and shooting them dead.

          1. Now you are being obnoxious(do not take this personally, i am talking only about your previous sentence), I am not a marxist. I am a middle class guy who wants more capitalism. This kind of obscene inequality can torpedo capitalism itself, especially in countries like India. So I do have a skin in the game in criticizing this. Unlike you who already live in a country where capitalism is already considered as a successful idea. In India, that isnt so even now.

      1. Girmit, India’s population growth is slow (probably 1.0% in 2019). Minus muslims and immigration India’s population growth rate is close to zero. [Many fear it might even fall.]

        “Such people feign confidence that dignity that today cannot be afforded to most of our population will somehow materialize for many multiples of it.”
        Why can’t this happen? Why can’t India’s total factor productivity rise to 1/3 American levels? That would mean that India has far more wealth and income than America.

        “but this ruthless greed is over the top and not essential to creating prosperity.”
        Yogo Bhoga Yate. Sometimes the only way to transcend a desire is to experience it. When others economically prosper we economically benefit.

        “I would hope India learns the love of work and craft from some of our eastern spiritual cousins, and build a culture of honest labor.”
        Here we completely agree. The lack of character, integrity and honesty on the part of Indian economic agents significantly limits product development, process innovation, business development. Business depends on trust. Sadly this extends to most parts of Indian society. Can you write about this on Brown Pundits? I plan to.

        Please watch:
        http://www.brownpundits.com/2018/11/06/india-still-rising-a/

        1. AnAn, Bihar and UP still have high TFR . Bihar is at 3.3 children per women and UP at 3.1. Most South Indian states have gone below 2.1 while some northern states are howering around 2.3-ish. These two states are the major problem(I might also include Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in this mix) . Rest are good with respect to population growth.

          1. UP has more muslims than any other state in India. Including large numbers of Shiites and Sufis allied with Yogi Adityanath. [Yogi Adityanath is trying to encourage a Sufi circuit (tourism) and Shiite circuit in UP to boost the economy.]

            If Yogi Adityanath can facilitate an economic miracle in UP, won’t birth rates collapse? Including muslim ones? Why wouldn’t Hindu allied Shiites and Sufis follow Hindu examples and lower their birth rate?

            Bihar is well Bihar. :LOL: Every person who visits India can’t help but hear many jokes about Bihar. Bet even Razib and Zachary have heard them.

            My anecdotal observation is that Rajasthan is in the middle of an economic miracle. Rajasthan’s muslims are also heavily Shiite and Sufi. I am optimistic that birth rates in Rajasthan will fall.

            +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

            As an aside, td, would you like to write for BP?

            I am thinking of writing about Yogi Adityanath. I don’t understand why he is so controversial and unpopular outside India. Many muslims are part of his Sampradaya and leaders in his universities/schools/service projects. Muslims in traditional garb have frequented his Darbar for many years. And Yogi Adityanath appears to try to help them. Yogi Adityanath also appears to be good at governance, operations, execution and business.

            What are everyone’s thoughts on Yogi Adityanath?

          2. “As an aside, td, would you like to write for BP?” — Na, i don’t think i know that much. Happy with being an occasional commentator.

            “Including large numbers of Shiites and Sufis allied with Yogi Adityanath” — Somehow BJP seems to have a decent popularity within Shias. Most of its Muslim leaders are Shias.

            “Why wouldn’t Hindu allied Shiites and Sufis follow Hindu examples and lower their birth rate” — I don’t think it’s the Shias who have high birth rate.
            Sometimes, i wonder where does the money that come for minorities go to ? The govt spends quite a lot. As for lowering birth rate, all that is needed is to provide education to Muslim women till college. I think the govt already provides money & scholarshops for this purpose but participation is less.

          3. I imagine the Hindu population growth rate will plunge very very quickly. Hinduism has the advantage that the Brahmins are trend-setters.

            Many high castes are going to disappear over the next two generations because of low birth rates and intermarriage..

          4. “the Brahmins are trend-setters.” — Are they , Zack ? 🙂 Anyways, the original “religion” of brahmins is already lost except for some very remote places.

            “Many high castes are going to disappear over the next two generations because of low birth rates and intermarriage” — Don’t worry, Zack. New ones will become ‘upper’ and the wheel will keep on moving (something not new ) . Anyways, just wanted to mention under Indian gov. laws(unless there has been some change recently that i am unware of), the child inherits the category of his/her father , doesn’t matter whatevrr category the mother belongs to.

          5. You know , where i live and the kind of conditions these brahmins live in , i wish i could call them elites lol.

            ” but like the US” — Sorry , i didn’t get this part, Zack. !!

            Another doubt Zack — Since the goventment doesn’t provide upper/middle/low certificates but rather GC/OBC/SC certificates (and ST but STs can’t and shouldn’t be considered as castes) and in some states even more detailed classification, who exactly come in the ‘lower castes’ as per your definition ? (Oh, some shuffling keeps happening and castes which were in General Category once are now in OBC. There are also some brahmin groups in OBC btw) .

        2. The country has made strides in moderating population growth, although its a stretch to say it would be 0% without muslims + immigration. Someone can verify, but I’ve seen figures for decadal hindu pop growth above 18% from 2011-2017, and much of that is concentrated in regions that have limited land resources.
          \\Why can’t India’s total factor productivity rise to 1/3 American levels? That would mean that India has far more wealth and income than America.\\
          Anan I’ve always taken you to be a critic of marxism and totalitarianism, why should we take such a statist view on economic development? India is much more than a single polity, or institution that abides by a certain constitution. The only thing which transcending the USA in GDP tells us is that the government of the Republic of India is likely to be a financially well-endowed institution, but not much about the well being of its typical inhabitant. It doesn’t tell us how power will be shared in that scenario, and if it will be in the hands of noble and spiritually developed people. It doesn’t tell us what kinds of sacrifices were made to achieve that economic output, and it doesn’t say anything about the other possible futures that were not pursued. In absence of these things one is inclined to be pessimistic, if we acknowledge as you have, a lack of integrity in the work culture that hints at a social corruption which is unlikely to address the severe erosion of human dignity in earnest.
          It doesn’t surprise me if common folk in India don’t see the rise of an uber-wealthy class of people as a tide to lift all boats. An economist dealing in abstractions may perhaps. The scepticism of runaway rent-seeking is not so much schadenfreude, poor people have their heroes too, but they just select them on their own terms. What I’ve seen is that an elite class that is perceived to have special virtues (be it courage, integrity or creativity) has a better chance of acceptance, yet in India that emergent class are unimpressive in all but their opportunism. Countries that produce beautiful things have CEOs who have worked with their hands, presidents who have plowed fields or commanded units.

          1. You are worried about non economic aspects of India. I share many of your concerns. Indian friends and relatives tell me horror stories ad infinitum .

            India has a moral and spiritual crisis. Every Indian I know agrees with this.

            However, I think it probable that economically most Indians will see a significant rise in real material living standards. And this is to be celebrated. Perhaps once Indians taste materialistic “success”, spiritual curiosity will awaken. This is happening very fast in North America, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea etc. Much of the new age, spiritual but not religious, atheism, mind sciences, Yoga revolution around the world are really eastern philosophy. From the West, Sanathana Dharma will return to India. Too bad it has to go through a round trip. But such is life.

            For example Rudolf Steiner (who was suppose to be Besant’s successor in the theosophical society before she nominated Jiddu Krishnamurti ) and his Anthroposophical Society and his Waldorf schools have become all the rage in India. Indians are embracing Hinduism through the de facto Hindu leader Rudolph Steiner.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyfHqCWp4Pc

          2. Anan, some of what you describe sounds like dialectical materialism of the marxian type. The idea that higher states of being can precipitate from increased productive capacity. I don’t dismiss that some of those frameworks are useful, but for my personal understanding they are not fully satisfactory. Its also worth considering that material/ industrial excellence could be manifestations of spiritual and cultural qualities and not independent factors. “Work is worship” as an ethic is not completely alien to India, but it has certainly been buried deeply, and I doubt the country can be highly economically competitive without profound cultural changes.

      2. VijayVan, why does inequality matter? It does not. Let everyone prosper. We should celebrate the success of others. We benefit from the success of others.

        girmit, I have been thinking about your comment. Is part of the issue a confusion relating to Brahmin Varna? Brahmins were suppose to be poor and not earn money. Brahmins were suppose to be willing to beg for food. As a result there was an ancient revulsion to Brahmins making money.

        However it “IS” the Dharma of Vaishya Varna to make money. By being rich Vaishyas are doing as they should. They are benefiting society as a whole by being as rich as possible. The rest of us should celebrate their economic success. Maybe someone can say we need to do a better job inspiring Vaishyas to help the rest of us through donations of their creativity, minds, time and money. However, there is nothing wrong with Vaishyas making money.

        We are applying a confused value system because we are mixed up.

        We don’t have many Brahmin Varna by Karma anymore. Almost all our modern Brahmins are fake and de facto Vaishyas or Kshatriyas or Shudras.

        There are some exceptions of course.

    1. Fraxinicus, Indian politics and political discussions seems to be an almost exact copy of the United States. It is eerie and uncanny.

      This is why America has to do a lot better. The rest of the world copies.

      A high profile Indian thought leader was interviewing a generic American thought leader dummie. The American thought leader dummie was calling for the statues of Washington and other American leaders to be torn down because of slavery and other dumb reasons. Then the Indian interviewer asked him if he wanted muslim mosques built on pre muslim temples/universities/libraries to be similarly torn down. It was a sight to watch. The mind of the American thought leader started to slowly move. He got scared. And some sense began to return to his head. He suddenly realized that he didn’t really want old American structures from the 1700s and 1800s torn down. And that he needed to rethink everything.

      Americans are regarded as non Americans as stupid. I am sure you have seen this too.

    2. Actually, it is not that eerie. The convergence is for a good reason. Indian constitutional morality that straitjackets popular debate is closely (and on purpose) modelled on the American one. (India’s constitutional founding father, B R Ambedkar, was Columbia educated)

      Obviously there are local cultural differences, but the broad modes of thinking are in general quite analogous. Besides, America is the biggest influence on urban, westernized Indians and American culture wars can easily resonate with local issues – given similar democratic constitutional backdrop.

      I personally think American culture (its warts and all) is a terribly good influence on India.

    3. No it isnt similar to american at all, its instead that America is used as a model and every other country is boxed into that frame work. Lazy & insidious.

  8. Vijay
    “Asians (in American terminology) are already great, just not Indians.”
    You are too close to India to see it perhaps. In comparison to what India was a short time ago, India is progressing miraculously fast. India has many pockets of greatness inside her. These pockets of greatness are expanding and starting to connect with each other.

    Integration of India with China would greatly accelerate Indian GDP growth. This is Win Win 1 + 1 = 3 stuff.

    Integration with Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan would deliver a body blow to global Islamism. These are things that India is uniquely positioned to do. Note that this would give the world a massive positive technological supply shock because we wouldn’t need so many security measures and we could freely travel around the world.

    “The expectations of this board members vis-a-vis Indian reality is well beyond the scope of what India can do.”
    Specifically how?

    “A fine example will be airbases in foreign countries, Given the critical shortage of, both, planes and pilots (KC.Khanduri’s parliamentary commitee report on IAF readiness, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3058008/Crisis-air-force-report-claims-India-running-fighter-pilots.html), what does a base in Afghanistan mean? How do they plan to get there?”
    I could write an article on the India Air Force. Not sure many here would follow. India doesn’t need as many aircraft as planned. India should use cheaper aircraft such as turboprop.

    India has several foreign military bases that perform very well, including Farkhor Tajikistan, 130 kilometres southeast of the capital Dushanbe.

    Afghanistan has requested that India become the lead adviser of the Afghan Air Force. India can do a lot to help the Afghan Air Force if India chooses. [I strongly believe India should stand by her Afghan friends. Afghanistan is one of India’s truest friends alongside Israel, Bhutan, Nepal, Vietnam, Myamnar.] India’s [and I hope China’s] role with the Afghan Air Force would be limited to helping the Afghans procure, upgrade, supply and maintain Mi-17s and Mi-35s, in addition to to training AAF personal on Indian soil. China has asked to collaborate with India and America on this (Mi-17s and Mi-35s). India and America have both asked China to stay away. Which is a big mistake.

    India and China can also I hope help the Afghans procure, upgrade, supply, transport, maintain a thousand additional D30 artillery pieces. [Afghanistan only has 100 or so operational now.] Along with large scale training of Afghan artillery operators, logicians and maintenance personal on Indian and Chinese soil. President Obama and President Bush did not want Afghanistan to have artillery because of Pakistani/Saudi/Taliban objections. But we have Trump now and Trump doesn’t care.

    “Need to walk before we can run. Before integrating with Pakistan and China, let us integrate Jharkand, Chattisgarh to India.”
    These are not either or things. India has to do many things at once.

  9. “(1.) the post-modern India literati is simply scathing. I cannot imagine Pakistanis academically discussing the secession of Baluchistan.”

    Its because there is no real possibility of Kashmiri seceding from India. That allows the folks who you hang out with to grand stand. Most of them are children of the Nehruvian/Upper class (Children of old money, IAS , IPS etc of the 60s ,70s) and they cannot fathom what the country has become today. They have lived in their elite bubble and then moved to USA/UK. For them India is as good as foreign country, thats why they are detached , but since they are of Indian origin their words are valued more because supposedly they must know. I would say the USA diaspora is comparatively more representative since it has folks who come from working class/Blue collar environment.

    (2.) I made a very controversial comment last night at the round table (there were 25 of us; no Muslims all upper castes except me and I was the only Pakistani) saying India can’t understand her Muslim minority.

    Thats the truth. The only reason why you find it controversial is the same upper caste would find that controversial, because they have grown up, intermarried and lived with the elite muslims all their life.

    (4.) Yesterday one of my friends made the spectacular suggestion that South Asia needs a Good Friday Agreement. We can all accept the current borders if they become (much) softer.

    (5.) Europe spent 50 million lives and a century of war (hot & cold) and now the EU is interlocking the continent into one unit. Why can’t India do the same about SAARC ex Pakistan?

    (5a.) Why doesn’t South Asia have free movement of capital, good and people beyond the troublesome northwestern bits.

    This is the single most disastrous suggestion, and i see in comments lot of folks(who dont understand the emotional trauma of N-Indians) applauding it. The problem with partition is not that it was not destined/desired but that it has been left incomplete. This happens when you leave a gaping wound and think time will heal it. As long as Pakistani and Indian dont get over it that we are two separate nations and separate people, the partition within India and Pakistan society itself will go on and on. For that we need closure, a final acceptance of the realities on the ground and moving on to our SEPARATE ways. We need to live like videshi neighbors who dont know each other (lest we cross each other path) and not like desi neighbours/supposedly brothers who fight and scream as soon as the morning sun rises.

    I know it a long shot considering that more than half of India (muslims,liberals,Punjabis, Bengalis and South indian) have either neutral/ friendly views towards what Zack has suggested, i dont see India/Indians ever really coming to terms with Pakistan and this conflict to go on.

    P.S : There is a comment on what Gujrati/MH feels on Pakistan. Just two points. The Pakistan cricket team can no longer play in N-India including Maharashtra. Ditto for its artists. The only CM of India who has lost his life in hands of Pakistan is a gujrati. And Modi’s prime target in post 2002 election was Mushraff. You can come to you own conclusion.

    1. Pakistan and India are separate nations. There is no reason why this means they have to hate each other though. We can behave like neighboring states and be neutral towards one another. We don’t need to be best friends but we don’t need to be existential enemies either.

      Softer borders is an aspiration that obviously would take a lot of time. A lot of distrust has to be gotten over first. But ultimately it is the only solution to Kashmir. If France and Germany can get over their history, there is no reason why India and Pakistan can’t.

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