The Pakistani Myth that made us Great-

At our podcast over the weekend I expressed some reservation about genetic testing of ancestry. I do find that there is a peculiarly Indian & Hindu interest in ancestry and genetics that is otherwise absent.

I was struggling to articulate my precise hesitation until I read this wonderful piece on Ambedkar (I imagine Arundhati Roy is a direct descendant of this powerful tradition of dissent against South Asian classism).

Read what Ambedkar wrote on why Brahmins started worshipping the cow and gave up eating beef

The clue to the worship of the cow is to be found in the struggle between Buddhism and Brahmanism and the means adopted by Brahmanism to establish its supremacy over Buddhism.

Earlier in the book, Ambedkar introduces the concept of Broken Men, whom he describes as follows:

In a tribal war it often happened that a tribe instead of being completely annihilated was defeated and routed. In many cases a defeated tribe became broken into bits. As a consequence of this there always existed in Primitive times a floating population consisting of groups of Broken tribesmen roaming in all directions.

He also makes the assumption that

“Untouchables are Broken Men belonging to a tribe different from the tribe comprising the village community.”

Ambedkar’s third assumption is that

“Broken Men were the followers of Buddhism and did not care to return to Brahmanism when it became triumphant over Buddhism”

Now the genetics data sort of tells us that caste (and untouchability) precedes Buddhism to the arrival of the Aryans. I do believe that any community needs myths, as well as its history, to overcome its present.

What we can infer from the genetic history of the Dalit/untouchable community is that rather they were the residual components of AASI/ASI that have persisted into the modern. Their role in Indian history hasn’t been one of agents or main actors, as far as I know there hasn’t been a history of Dalit Revolt (I am happy to be corrected) or the Dalit Spartacus.

Much as it’s wonderful to constantly bash Islam, Muslims and Pakistan (and I dislike the Colonial Critique of Brahmins & the Caste system since the Colonisers have so much to blame for the present woes of South Asia) there are some important points as to just how crushing and pervasive the caste system actually is.

That is why I always insist that Pakistans & Urdu-Speaking Muslims stay apart from these perennial discussions. Our mythologies in some ways have also helped Pakistan to not simply wither into the ashes. Pakistan has many many flaws but there is something about the Hindu caste system that makes it remarkable as to just how pathetic Indian Muslims have performed in comparison to their Pakistani counterparts. There is something about the spirit being broken that is difficult to put a finger on it.

Much as I find Pakistani bravado to be absurd at times (and sometimes downright dangerous as in the case of Hazrat Asia) we have our Quraysh ancestors to thank that we are not mired in the mediocrity of our Urdu-speaking kin across the border. Pakistan may one day go down in flames but she has made her mark on history and for that we should be grateful for.

79 thoughts on “The Pakistani Myth that made us Great-”

  1. The “mediocrity” of Indian Muslims could perhaps be explained by the fact that the leaders of the community mostly migrated to Pakistan at Partition. Those left in India were relatively more downtrodden. There is something to be said though for the impact of being a minority increasingly under seige.

    1. Kabir is right. But I don’t think Pakistani Muslims with their relative head start have performed head and shoulders over their Indian Muslim counterparts. In most non regulated industry( Bollywood ; arts ; music , small middle scale industry ) they have done well considering their population. It’s mostly the regulated industry education and jobs which gets tracked into various govt socio economiec indicator which shows them lagging.

      For a population which has to ,irrespective of whatever everyone says, carry the cross of partition I would say the India Muslim community overall has done okish

      1. Pakistani Muslims stand head and shoulder over the Indian Muslim community.

        In Pakistan:
        The doctors are Muslim
        The lawyers are Muslim
        The engineers are Muslim
        The politicians are Muslim
        Every stakeholder is essentially Muslim

        It’s absurd to claim that it is pari Passu.

        Credit must be given where it is due

        1. When everyone is a Muslim of course all doctors , engineers etc will be Muslim. Who else will take up this professions: Hindus ?

          I was trying to contrast what Indian Muslim have got vis v their population numbers and their history regarding partition. Any other community in any other country would have become 5 th pillar from day 1 of 1947. Still with so much baggage and shortcomings I feel they have done okish. On the other hand Muslims of Pakistan who have a entire country at their disposal with relative head start over Indian Muslims have not done exceedingly well. Why India, compare it to bangladeshi Muslims, who have a shorter history , comparative demographic and by all accounts lesser resources have done better I feel.

          Probably it’s a subjective view

          1. Yes I agree Pakistan has failed in several areas-

            I am a vociferous critic of Pakistan, Islam & the Mughals but I give credit where credit is due.

            The only reason I allow myself to criticise India and Hinduism is because I am married to a Sindhi Hindu .

            Lots of Pakistanis get very offended by Vidhi’s distaste for Pakistan & Islam but I feel she is entitled to it by virtue of marriage; we gain the privilege of criticising one another’s cultures because we live it harmoniously (neither has converted; Ganesh & Abdul Baha co-exist fairly peacefully in our living room)..

        2. Sorry this is dishonest and I know you’re playing devil’s advocate. Would you rather be black in USA or black in Nigeria? According to this logic, if you’re in Nigeria your doctors are black, lawyers are black, professors are black… but no black American is in any hurry to move to Nigeria lmao

          To be honest, the day Bangladesh moved ahead of India in HDI and when it marches further in GDP and PPP/cap you can say the Pakistan movement achieved what it had set out for. That is an alternative space within south Asia for Muslims to succeed in absence of Hindu domination. I think in hindsight it makes sense and tbh it was Bengali Muslims that were the prime movers and shakers for Pakistan, not the Punjabis or Sindhis or Pashtuns.

          I have no idea what will happen with dessification of the Indus Valley and 400 million people about to call Pakistan home. Some cataclysmic Indus valley civilization collapse style ish will probably go down in the next century with the climate change forcing all the Pakistanis to move east and Bangladeshis will also be moving west as the oceans rise. No border security can keep away hordes of women and children.

          Will the IVC and Munda meet again in the Aryavarta?

          1. I understand what you are saying but USA has 20x the GDP of Nigeria; not the same with INDO-Pak. Living standards in India are not so much better than in Pak that the richest Pakistanis suffer in comparison to poor Indians.

            For instance elites in 3rd world countries still make a conscious choice to be middle class (or below) in 1st world countries..

          2. Zack

            You’re right and I knew the disparities in living standard between Indo Pak is nowhere near US Nigeria…I didn’t wish to state that obvious caveat.

            BUT living standard aside, I have seen maps of the world categorized by failed state index and India is like an island in these maps, definitely so in subcontinent. Maybe things have improved in the last five years or so in Pakistan, but there was a time last decade when Pakistan was becoming Afghanistan/Somalia esque and not just in the Pashtun areas but in the Punjab core itself. And mind you, India also has an entire Nakshal issue in the central hinterland.
            Besides the occasional cow slaughter related one off mob justice, it isn’t like Muslim places of worship or bastis etc are getting bombed. I’d choose a lower living standard but security of life over vice versa.

        3. Yes when you drive away 25% of pop, you are left with Muslims in all professions, no rocket science
          That’s Islamic Republic in action

        4. What are the figures like for India? Which fields are Muslims underrepresented relative to their share of the population?

          1. Indian Muslims are under represented in army, police, civil services, white collar corporate sector, academia etc. IM are actually fairly analogous to black Americans in many ways. Over represented in athletics, entertainment and crime/prisons.

            Sachar committee report is available for detailed survey on the topic.

  2. Zack,

    I am not able to fathom as to why you think that caste precedes Buddhism ?

    As per the genetic data, Indians suppossedly stopped intermixing with each other (i.e. become endogamous) around 1900 Years ago and Buddhism is atleast 2600 years old and probably older.

    As for untouchability, we cannot assume that it came about around the same time when people became endogamous. Untouchability might be a much recent phenomenon only a few centuries old. Endogamy =/= Untouchability.

    Buddha did not revolt against the caste system. Nothing of that sort is found in Buddhist literature. Buddha revolted against the Vedic religion that had degenerated into a jumble of rituals and sacrifices devoid of spirituality. Buddha himself has on several occasions explained in glowing terms what it means to a true Brahmana.

  3. Indian Muslims have plenty of conquistador syndrome. I daresay it is stronger in Lucknow and Hyderabad than in Lahore or Dhaka.

    Tarek Fatah realized that while trying to rename Aurabgzeb road to Dr Kalam road (which he pulled off) and while trying for a national ban on azaan via microphone. I mean, we all know the point of azaan in Indian context is a show of force, like “we in hya”. It is a daily revival of the ghaazi-esque terror the believers can unleash on us out of line dhimmis from Taimur to Ajmal Kasab. It sounds so foreign and terrifying, and we watch how in military precision the zombies awake out of the slums for their daily instructions. It also invokes slavery rape fetish in many a daughter of Hindus like Priyanka Chopra who said the azaan sounds beautiful (yes, it is a warning to the ladies to self lube from earlier) lol.

    1. I think Hindu society focusses too much on Islam _ needs to think about caste in a very meaningful way.

      Caste isn’t bad but how to transform it. I notice Indians/Hindus incessantly drop their caste at every opportunity especially if they are Brahmin. It’s tasteless tbh

      1. Zack

        Jaativaad is part and parcel of Hinduism of 99% Hindus that live in the grihasta (householder/family life) domain. Every puja every ritual whether you’re pregnant or buying a new house or first solid food requires an invocation of the Gods and Goddesses particular to the jaati. Hinduism is extremely bottom up and never was top down. Example, check out this clip on some issues faced by Kalahandi jaati in Orissa. This is living breathing Hinduism in pristine original form the way they talk about the mountain Niyamgiri as mother earth and the river.
        Say in two hundred years due to various circumstances, the Kalahandi become more powerful in relation to those around them. They will maintain their caste identity because it is inbuilt into their customs and rituals as a people.
        On the other hand a very minor aspect of overall Hindus are ideologically of a particular sect, say Gaudiya Vaishnavas or Lingayat. In the formation of these groups, ideology supersedes the biology. Essentially the Buddhist Sangha or Muslim Ummah are over sized stabilized examples of Gurubhai orders that pop up in communes all the time all over India.
        You will notice in much of the prose of initial Muslim conversions, the lingo is saying “chhaap tilak sab chheen li” as in I am overcoming my ancestrally derived way of being and have become an orphan and only take refuge in your grace dear guru/murshid. So ancestor worship is crucial and a sense of ancestors always watching over one, that’s why converting out of the jaati derived way of living is portrayed as becoming orphaned. Lot of the Bhakti literature which was concurrent to Sufi literature has same “jaat kul o maan sopiye dilam tor preme”… Meaning caste, clan and dignity, I have forsaken all for You.

        In some ways, Muslims are orphans in the subcontinent context. Every Hindu whether a Chitpavan Brahmin or a forest dwelling Kalahandi is very proud of the entirety of their Hinduness which is intrinsically woven deep into their jaati identity.

      2. “I think Hindu society focusses too much on Islam _ needs to think about caste in a very meaningful way.”

        Hindus don’t think about Islam nearly enough. Most Hindus ignore Islam or treat Islam as another of the many strands within Hinduism. All same, same, same.

        While this works for over 50 million Indian muslims (maybe even a majority of all 240 million . . . Sufis, twelvers, sixers, Ahmedis, liberals, atheists), this does not work for a considerable portion of muslims who feel offended by this.

        If Hindus say that all religions are real and true and lead to the same goal . . . that all religions are love . . . Hindus should try to understand other frames of understanding. The vast majority of Hindus do not understand anything outside of the eastern philosophy prism. If you try to explain it to them, you get black stares the vast majority of the time. You can try it yourself.

    2. I love these un-PC comments you make. Remind me of a Bong friend from college who was similarly unfiltered. Was always fun to provoke reactions out of him, though it was difficult to get him to stop once started.

    3. Why such an extreme reaction to the call to prayer? “Daily reminder of ghaziesque terror” and “foreign and terrifying” is a bit much.

      1. It might be epigenetically embedded into us dhimmi Hindus at this point Kabirji.

        Let me assure you that the MAJORITY of Hindu pseudo-secular opposition to Hindu-nationalism is not out of concern for Muslim lives/livelihoods but rather the very real fear of what will happen in the counter. I won’t attempt at a scorekeeping of everything >Ghazni because we’re clearly on the losing end, how about a micro-snapshot of it from December 6, 1992 onwards on this holy day today (December 6 2018)?

        Babri masjid destroyed…Hindus 1, Muslims 0
        Muslims retaliate across major Indian cities in pitched battles, scores are overall even but thanks to police etc, we’ll say Hindus 3, Muslims 1
        Muslims destroy hundreds of Hindu temples in Pakistan and Bangladesh (no Hindu can retaliate here like how Muslims can in India)…Hindus 3, Muslims 3
        Muslims pull off Bombay blasts at stock exchange…Hindus 3, Muslims 5

        Then add the bad PR of mosque destruction, plus convictions of Hindus from all levels like police officers to Shiv Sena ground workers by Indian courts (nothing happens to the Muslim killers in Pak/BD and Dawood etc are irretrievable), its like why did we even start it?

        1. Indian Muslims are Indian citizens and have the right to practice their religion, of which the call to prayer is a part.

          The rest of your comment is frankly irrelevant. People who use words like “pseudo-secular” have deep issues.

  4. [Apologies for the long-winded rant. Please feel free to delete it]

    While there is a good amount of Arya ancestry in India, it does not constitute the majority of the ancestry of an average Brahmin (or average Indian).

    Taking the principal components – the AASIs and ANIs – of a positive semi-definite matrix, as features that define our self-view or correlates of our individual lived experience can be easily overdone.

    Indians have a culture-plex. Fairly heterogeneous and heteroprax, but with distinct commonalities. Enough for it to ossify in a nationhood and not balkanize under pressure which far more cohesive and richer cultures couldn’t manage. Most Indians severely under-appreciate the size and population of the country they live in and the kind of social contract required to manage that.

    Does it have discontents. You bet. Severe ones. Casteism is our original sin; a cross to bear like no other. However, it would be a good exercise to ask oneself how exactly did this deep injustice of Indian history rise into the consciousness of Indians? What sort of impulse drove Ambedkar to think about his position and why he was born in it? Was it Buddhist scripture? Was it the upaniSada-s? Was it the cArvAka literature? Or was it the Enlightenment of the same colonials – the Brits and the Americans – some like to heap endless blame on?

    And it was not just the LSE and Columbia educated Ambedkar. Hindu social reform from the time of Raja Ram Mohun Roy (buried in Bristol) to JyotiRao Phule and Maharaja Shahu of Kolhapur (tutored by Sir Stuart Fraser – head of the colonial ICS) started because of the self-introspection of Hindu elite. In turn, triggered by their their contact with the European Enlightenment principles. Getting to know that it was possible to create a better society based on reasoning and debate to solve problems.

    Hindu reform is not, in my opinion, due to the inherent goodness of the Hindu creed (though some would argue normatively). It is due to the openness shown by some to better *Western* influences at the right time. It comes by admitting error. By humility. Desire to learn and improve oneself. Not seeking after perfection or utopian states of purity or blissfulness, and deploy any/all means to do so, but be happy with incremental improvement.

    (I recall that the first time I read about Jyotiba Phule was in my Sanskrit text book. A prose chapter on his decency, when a Brahmin lady threw cow dung at him as he was walking down the street, cause he was walking down the “wrong” street. The man stopped, made sure he swept the dung off the street, and continued without any altercation. Reading that small passage in a Sanskrit textbook is a 100 times more effective and therapeutic for Indian kids than entire tomes of diatribe in English by Arundhati Roy or her one-trick-dissenter pony ilk)

    1. This is a Hindu thing not necessarily India.

      I know how everyone is going to write but Muslims have caste but it’s even evident in genetics/origins; Pakistanis show zero interest in it.

      The idea of a solidified Pakistani nation is quite a powerful one and I think it’s a lot to do with Mecca/Medina as opposed to the infinitely complexed Hindu society ..

      1. PIndia is a Hindu thing.

        It is not a Western secular state, but a “Hindu” state with a social contract that uses state’s institutions to reform Hindu society. A feature of that reform is post-Partition Nehruvian Consensus to champion the sarva dharma sama bhava (all religions same attitude) ideal. So not secular in the sense, say, France or even US is.

        Re Pakistan, I’m under no illusion that it has anything to do with Hinduism.

  5. “What we can infer from the genetic history of the Dalit/untouchable community is that rather they were the residual components of AASI/ASI that have persisted into the modern”

    Except that they are not. It is the Scheduled tribes that are predominantly AASI and even they are no more than 60-66% AASI, not scheduled castes. Narasimhan, downloadable excel attachment, Table S3 clearly shows this:
    Group Town Steppe_MLBA InPE Onge (AASI)-related
    Adiyan Wayanad 0.040 0.297 0.663
    Palliyar Rajapalayam 0.023 0.330 0.647
    Ulladan Trichur 0.024 0.357 0.619
    Malayan Trichur 0.037 0.371 0.592
    Chamar_UP Jaunpur 0.182 0.375 0.443
    Pulliyar .. 0.040 0.375 0.585
    Kolcha Umarpada 0.082 0.379 0.539
    Koli Rajkot 0.101 0.396 0.503
    Warli Mumbai 0.057 0.400 0.542
    Irula Nilgiri Mountain 0.025 0.401 0.573
    Kathodi Surat 0.077 0.409 0.514
    Kurchas Valad, Wayanad 0.060 0.419 0.520
    Kotwalia Valsad 0.081 0.424 0.495
    Garasia Sabarkatha 0.110 0.426 0.465
    Tadvi Chhota Udepur 0.091 0.439 0.470
    Pasi Barabanki 0.149 0.443 0.408

    All of these are tribals; in fact Page 180 of supplementary PDF talks about this.

    On the other hand, almost all SC populations have a majority or numerous Indus diaspora ancestry, not entirely different from Muslim. The only difference from BC agricultural castes is the percentage of Indus_diaspora/Percentage of AASI; that table provides the town locations and can be seen that the differences between SC and FC/BC is only in this ratio.

    Buddhist conversion in India was elite formation; those who did the Vedic->Buddhist->Hindu were always the elites; therte is no evidence that Buddhism of 2000 year BP was welcoming SC and ST.

    Genetic arguments for socio-cultural issues are hard to make and we have reached the end of the road on such arguments.

      1. Exactly, the devil is in the details. It is facile to correlate ‘dalits’ with AASI or ASI. AASI itself is made up of Iranian farmers , perhaps a larger part. So, these statistics standing upon other statistics standing upon other definitions leaves me cold. Do we know the asa/aasa/ani/steppe portions of Dr.Ambedkar ? perhaps we will never find out .
        ‘Dalit’ a modern political grouping in caste politics of modern India is an umbrella term.
        Identifying or associating ‘dalits’ with AASI/ASI is a 21st century version of Aryan Invasion Theory of 19th century fame where the “original inhabitants” of India are born to be defeated by “Invaders” – British colonialists would be laughing out loud from their graves. You identify either with the hammer or the nail.

        That is why I would rather use genetics to find out cures for medical conditions than historical studies

        1. it is not facile in south india where the dalits and tribals are clearly majority AASI in ancestry and looked down upon for it.

          And there are dalit/sudra communities in the north who are clearly more AASI in appearance than the average upper caste and who are mistreated for it. Racism is very real in the caste system throughout South Asia.

          1. This is a bit chicken before egg syndrome. Mistreatment occurs solely along caste lines not AASI or AASI appearance. Please look up plenty of documentaries on untouchability on YouTube etc, when they go to the villages to shoot, you wouldn’t know who’s the lower or higher caste, just that the people know so and so belongs to which family.

            Each caste is essentially its own subculture. Looking down happens because one group might be involved in making the drums while another group acquires the leather from dead animals… So one group starts naturally feeling superior because they don’t do the work of first hand contact with leather. Jaati based mistreatment is also most pronounced between communities closest to each other. Brahmins don’t and I doubt they ever went around maiming Chandalas.

          2. its laughable to deny the clear racial element that is present in many lower caste/dalit populations. Can anyone deny that the Paraiya (Pariah) dalits of South India and SL are generally more AASI in appearance and genetics than say higher caste vellalahs?

            I have known punjabi sudras who are black skinned and clearly more AASI in facial features than their upper caste punjabi neighbours. They were victim of disgusting racism and clearly identifiable phenotypically.

          3. correction: my punjabi contacts were Chuhra not Sudra. They looked more like black south indians than north indians. in pakistan there is a population of Chuhra who converted en masse to Christianity.

          4. So I can apply this logic in reverse as well and say when Indian soldiers oppress fair-skinned Kashmiri Muslims or Pakistani soldiers run amok in Pashtun lands, “there is a clear racial element”? We have our own shit boss, no need to import new lenses of fuckedup-ness on top of preexisting ones lol

            I’m not saying it doesn’t operate behind the scenes at subconscious levels, but don’t stormfront history

        2. I agree with the overall tone of the comment that Dalit is an umbrella term.

          “AASI itself is made up of Iranian farmers , perhaps a larger part. ”
          AFAIK, AASI is a monicker for unadmixed Hunter Gatherers who were present in the subcontinent (from the Out of Africa migration) till the bronze age.

          ASI/ANI peopling model (2009 – David Reich explains the compromise reached in his latest book; to avoid any group from claiming genetic purity or nativity) require all 3 : AASI, Early Iranian Farmer and Steppe Pastoralist geneflows, which happened at disparate timelines.

    1. InPE includes some AASI or AASI-like ancestry already, doesn’t it? So wouldn’t an inferred 29.7% InPE/66.3% AASI would actually have more AASI ancestry than 66.3%?

  6. I would say its a lot to do with economics. even before ambedkar, 1000 yrs ago people like ramanuja, basavanna too lived. caste system is socio-economic system. It is easier to change religion than a socio economic system . Its persistence is evidence of Indian feudal economy. Had India Industrialized in last 50 odd yrs, it would have been different. Now we are into cognitive industrialization where only few elites shall earn more than most. India missed its opportunity thanks to left, who kept people poor in the name of poor. Looking for revolution than prosperity. India needs to find a way to earn money and distribute it and make success of oppressed peoples immediately. Bolloywood is an example where few muslims have done well for themselves. Success & prosperity are the pain reliever and the hope sustainer and the ultimate vengeance on history. Even Modi with great power is failing, The solution is easy enough to say. capability is missing, I dont think on this score the mistake is of Hindus alone, the secular state itself has been found wanting on performance, left deserves greater blame post 47 than anyone else.
    Had the hindu elite been as rich as the wasps in USA or the elite of Europe, it would make sense. All the money of Hindu elites even if distributed to the poor wont do much as it stands now. Money doesnt solve all problems, but it creates distance between you and your haters.

    1. American is a hyper-industrialised society; race still haunts it.

      We have to begin to understand that race in the American context = caste in an Indian context

      1. we would love to inherit western problems along with western wealth and technology and political capability.

        Race, check
        denial of evolution and global warming, check
        medicare for all , check.

        Forgive me but I see these problems as easier problems to solve.
        I recently checked that Indian gdp per capita is equvalent to usa in 1860’s until perhaps last decade. That is where we are.

        It is not speeches and humble talk we lack in, we have enough of that, its capability and wealth we are lacking in. : (

        1. Yes that is why I find democracy in South Asia to be tiresome. I wish we had the Desi equivalent of “Capitalism/Communism with Confucian Characteristics”

          China is a fantastic model for the entire region in bootstrapping development

          1. Agreed. But vikram would accuse us of being the elite middle class that is envious of authoritarians of likes of china. yes we are, we surely are. I honestly see that had rod been used to deal with caste supremacists, it would be fine. I have no problem with firmness as long as its fair. few pathetic skulls cracked and everything would be fine. Had Indian state done things like china in xinjiang on issues of caste, clearly I think things would improve quickly. But with parliamentary type elections , there are caste strongholds in many places. terrible stories come about again and again. Had we had atleast american style 2 party presidential system, it would be great. No need to court the despicable as it is now.

            I dont despise the indian liburals or nehruvians on their progress as people would accuse me of. I despise their soft soft crap bullshit that they know and we know and everyone knows is nonsense. they are just elite making virtue signal and holding power and preserving their status quo and in doing so kept India stangnant.

          2. there are many authoritarian / military rules states who are nowhere near China in economic progress or social cohesion. Chinese style 1 party state and authoritarianism can’t be replicated easily anywhere else

    2. I disagree with the enlightenment talk of slapstik , I have already given my view of all this. Enlightenment talk isnt meaningful without the iron of military dominance to ensure it happens. Power dominates everything. It was wealth transformed to science+arts+industry+polity+military that did things.

      ” Desire to learn and improve oneself” , “Getting to know that it was possible to create a better society based on reasoning and debate to solve problems.” I think both these do exist in Hindu worldview. The fact we had great many diversity of ideas throughout history points to this.

      1. I suspect there was a symbiosis between enlightenment values and military dominance in Western European countries, in contrast to the dichotomy you are positing (or at least that’s the way I read your comment.)

        This might raise some hackles, but I think Chinese society as a whole subscribes more to enlightenment values than Indian society does. They don’t seem to have a caste problem like we do. No serious religious divisions either (I’m excluding Tibet and Xinjiang.) In fact, Communism, brutal as it was, probably modernized the Chinese people more than (our form of) parliamentary democracy modernized the Indian people. (Isn’t Marxism a child of the enlightenment too?) For all that, the authoritarianism of the Chinese system will impose a ceiling on their power because and not in spite of their illiberalism.

        (Or maybe my reading of this is all wrong, but I had to put it out there.)

        With regard to the British, Slapstick is just echoing Naipaul. Some portion of Hindu societies became aware of new possibilities thanks to contact with Europeans. Otherwise we’d have remained in our ossified state.

        1. @numinous no dichotomy and agree with what you say , “the authoritarianism of the Chinese system will impose a ceiling on their power” also correct and why I think in long run china might find itself in trouble. But they got themselves a much better running start than us.

          There were serious religious problems in china with both Islam and christianity,

          No one remembers.That is success.

    3. You are correct at the surface but incorrect at the core conclusion here. Caste is woven in to this leftist sabotage of independent India.

      During the British rule, the disproportionately literate caste i.e. Brahmins took a lead in education and being civil servants of the raj. Essentially we who should have continued on as folks living off donations began having a newfound power and we essentially didn’t know what to do with it. We set up an English language rote learning apartheid system as the template for the country to progress. The entrepreneurial economic engine should have been handed over to the vaishyas and shudras. They are the ones that have always run Indian civilization. I see in Modi that the OBC and SC is retaking ownership of Hinduism, Hindu revival and Indic civilization.

      In Bengal the situation is comical with the Banerjee Chatterjee Kulin Brahmins openly eating beef and showing secularity and being all “education is key” but now the OBC SC ST in Bengal is saying screw you to us and picking up Hindutva quick.

      I’m fine with this. Brahmins and Brahminical mentality is no good for reviving the economic legs of the country. Leftist sabotage had Brahminical distrust of business in built into it and glorification of poverty as a virtue and penance.

      I personally love Bangladeshi Muslims. They are industrious people that will brave things I couldn’t imagine despite being same language speaker. Bangladesh is indeed the Vaishya/Shudra state that India should have been.

      I recall some pieces about India being the brain and Pakistan being the brawn lol. It is true to some degree. Last century Swami Vivekananda had characterized the ideal Indian as having the intellect of a Brahmin and zeal of a Muslim and industriousness of a Shudra. It is a pity that the zeal/arms/military-arm didn’t actualize but rather the Kshatriya arms element time and again gets to punch the Brahmin head element.

      1. well blaming Hindu elements for fault of the left makes my blood boil. you sir are wrong. Even now vaishyas are in control of business. Leftwing thinking isnt Hindu thinking. now unfortunately has come into rss assholes as well. Please read arthashastra.

        1. Left wing thinking is not Hindu thinking but jaativaad and insularity that comes with it IS. If en masse the Brahmin element of India shifted away from prioritizing the Shastra to second-hand rote-learning western education, then we essentially picked up new and faulty shastras but were able to force it down the throats of the rest of the nation using our newfound power. Setting up independent India’s institutions as English only etc, these have clear caste based insularity woven into them. English fluency for example is a frontline explicit tool of caste bias in Indian society and has been that way since the late 1800s.

          Vaishyas are in control of businesses as in kirana stores, not empowered by the state to dictate economic policy

          1. My dear sir, every person comes from some background and it so happens that the elite graft themselves to become courtiers of new conquerors, and by composition these elements do come from brahmin background, vaishyas etc . Your theory lacks the most important element, ability to check for false positives. A theory that overshoots it self is as faulty as theory that undershoots it. You also dont look at the fact that these people believe in their bullshit. You can go and test them and you will see them give you endless lectures. They will froth in their mouth and scold you and scream from the top of their voice, will do dharna, street protest etc etc. But for you that is just the surface element and I have missed the “core” explanation.

  7. I think Pakistan kind of squandered away its advantages due to higher than normal population growth and military rule. Usually the period from agrarian to industrial socio-economic setup, leads to a 5-10x increase in population, but Pakistan is already at 10x and the process is not complete. Unenlightened military’s myopic policies have isolated Pakistan at a stage when it desperately needed foreign markets, technology and capital.

    All the other stuff about caste etc is not very relevant in the context of Pakistan IMO. Whether as part of India or not, caste would have affected the residents of Pakistan more or less the same way as it does today. Open a Dawn classified and see how many people want a Syed, Mughal, Arain etc bride/groom for their son/daughter. In fact, I would say that the absence of caste based political mobilization (parties for Haris of Sindh, Dalit Christians in Punjab) have greatly inhibited the socio-political progress of Pakistan. Caste has oppressed many, but it has a social capital aspect that actually provides a critical resource for those who are downtrodden today.

    No wonder in India it is the upper caste Brahmins and Vaishyas with their advanced degrees and alumni associations who want to ‘see no caste’.

    1. Just wanted to add that politicization and the struggle for reservations/affirmative action greatly increases within group solidarity and organization amongst discriminated castes.

  8. ah, the conspiratorial answer. Not unexpected. How about an authoritarianism with fixed term with absolute diversity and representation. Power sharing isnt problem for the kind of authoritarianism I seek. And no, pakistan is not a failure no matter how many times some enlightenment,liberal,secular thinking people wish to believe.

  9. i have no idea what this post from zach was about. but the comments are interesting.

    p.s. zach so you have a new last name? your one is gone?

  10. @Zack/Razib

    Did admixture between Anatolian Farmers and West/East European Hunter Gatherers happen more fluidly than between Early Iranian Farmer and AASI (monicker for Subcontinent’s Hunter Gatherers) to substantiate the notion that endogamy albeit casteism was distinctly practiced that was not seen elsewhere in Europe or other parts of Asia ?

    I am trying to understand the crux of the genetic argument that is frequently being put forth to claim that casteism and endogamy had always existed since civilization began in the Indian Subcontinent.

    1. This was the crux of Moorjani et al. (Genetic Evidence for Recent Population Mixture in India, Priya Moorjani, Kumarasamy Thangaraj,—- David Reich,and Lalji Singh) paper regarding ANi_ASI admixture dates. Table 1 of this paper shows two things:
      1. Caste formation and endogamy is as old 4,200 years, even before the first arrival of steppe-MLBA (first wave coexists with IVC/IndusPE dispersal into Deccan and gangetic plain)
      2.Dravidian castes which have negligible or small steppe (that can be grouped under the fourth or second/third varna) were formed even before Brahmin and Kshatriya.

      This Table, together with Vagheesh Natasimhan et al (The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia) downloadable excel file, sheet 3 established the very long term endogamy of castes, in particular the Dravidan ones. You can do a one to one matching of these two tables (as the datasets are similar) and notice that the earliest admixture dates have very low Steppe_MBLA. Note that the Brahmin_UP and Kshatriya_UP endogamous formation is about 2000-2400 years BP, suggesting that the high castes just established them above the existing caste divide between higher/backward over lower SC/ST groups.

      There are some alternate models for later (even later than Steppe) admixture via sakas, Huns etc that became even more higher castes, but the idea is similar; endogamy among castes started as early as Dravidan dispersal and admixture into a hunter gatherer population.

      Admixture between Anatolian farmers and Europian hunter gatherers happened much earlier than steppe admixture, and endogamy of such populations have not been demonstrated. Socio-cultural models are regional and cannot be explained by genes alone

      1. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question regarding arguments alluding to casteism in IVC

        Moorjani et al follows upon the work of
        2009 Reconstructing Indian Population History – Reich et al

        David Reich explains the compromise reached in ANI/ASI peopling model in his latest book; to avoid any group in India from claiming genetic purity or nativity as requested by Singh and Thangaraj, both ANI/ASI require all 3 : AASI, Early Iranian Farmer and Steppe Pastoralist/Eurasian geneflows, which happened at disparate timelines. Immediately following the 2009 paper, we had years of misinformation in Indian media by OIT proponents including the co-authors of 2009 paper using cherry picked Mt-DNA evidence to claim ANI had emerged 40,000 years ago and many other disproven claims. I don’t want to quote the wildly popularized news articles pertaining to the 2009 CCMB press conference as it will deviate from the issue at hand. Interested folks can google the 2009 news article and also read Narasimhan et al which denotes unadmixed hunter gatherers (who were from the OOA migration) in the Indian subcontinent as AASI (Ancient Ancestral South Indian) and explains their input to later ASI/ANI populations (who are bronze age populations).

        Genetic Evidence for Recent Population Mixture in India – Moorjani et al using ANI/ASI model to find admixture timeline

        Table 1 Characterization of Population Admixture along the Indian Cline
        Only Vyasa group’s admixture timeline falls under the Mature (Integration era) Indus Valley Civilization Phase of ~4200 years ago. The admixture timeline of other groups have been quite old ranging from 2000-3500 years ago which are after the final phase of IVC.

        The global pattern in human migrations is that Agriculturalists displaced local Hunter Gatherers wherever they migrated and agriculturalists themselves were displaced by Pastoralists.

        My question to Razib and Zack was how unique was the interaction between Early Iranian Farmer and AASI (hunter gatherers) to substantiate the incredible claim made in this blog and also by some commentators that “Casteism/endogamy” was practiced in IVC that was not seen elsewhere in the world when agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers had come into contact.

        //Admixture between Anatolian farmers and Europian hunter gatherers happened much earlier than steppe admixture, and endogamy of such populations have not been demonstrated.

        The Europeans do not have the quest to find the reason why and when did endogamy had set in or what cultural phenomenon had altered the natural rates of admixture between neighboring groups. We in the subcontinent however, are products of thousands of years of endogamous groups and we can see through our genes that our neighbors in the same vicinity are genetically distant to each other. I often see attempts to wildly extrapolate genetic findings in the blog, comment section to suit their agenda.

        Like :
        //Caste formation and endogamy is as old 4,200 years

        I think you don’t fully comprehend the gravity of your incredible claim that caste formation is 4200 years old using last admixture timeline of a group to answer a social-cultural phenomenon like rigid casteism all the way to the first civilization in our subcontinent when all other groups from Mooorjani et al reveal admixture timelines that was after the decline of Indus Valley Civilization.

        Well versed cultural/archaeological anthropologists, historians would require more than cherry picked genetic admixture timeline to digest claims that casteism is atleast 4200 years old or could have been practiced in Indus Valley Civilization.

        1. I no longer understand any of your questions. I (or anyone) have no knowledge of castes in IVC. There is no evidence that the M/H cities even represent InPE+AASI admixture, thus castes and endogamy, etc. may not even be relevant. IVC has no relevance to caste formation, what happened after the 4200 year event, IVC breakdown and subsequent dispersal into India and Deccan is of relevance to caste formation. It is conjectured that Steppe-MBLA admixture is just one of the events that extended caste formation. What came first, I do not know.

          It appears that you gave a lot of misunderstanding of migrations; nobody displaced nobody. The Hunter Gatherer still lives in genes of Europe, may be as MTDNA only. Hell, even neanderthal genes live. Indians have the genes of three or four people; whether men were killed in this process or subsumed is another story, and I am not qualified, except to note that star phylogeny is applicable to only R1A. I do not care what Thangaraja or Singh want regarding “purity” of Indians; who are they to demand anything?

          1. I used the term “displaced” to mean supplant/supercede in a region after migrating into. I don’t find your initial sell asserting that casteism is 4200 years old to be convincing, frankly it reminded me of the past encounter on questions for podcast comment section where the discussion was hijacked; the retreat afterwards by stating that the dispersal of population from IVC in mature and final decline phases before/after the arrival of Steppe Pastoralists were of relevance to the formation of current caste system that we come to realize was more tolerable. The story behind the 2009 Reconstructing the population history’s – ANI/ASI model, will make a lot of sense to those who are curious to understand the biases in the construction of that model which since Narasimhan et al has been relegated to explain peopling of subcontinent only from the Bronze age onwards.

  11. If I am not mistaken, most sanitary workers in Pakistan are Masihi, which is basically nothing but Dalit Christians of India. Also, I distinctly recall a detail about the whole blasphemy fracas involving Aasia Bibi (herself a Masihi). Apparently during the quarrel the Muslim women refused to drink water from the same utensils which have been touched by Aasia Bibi. Sounds familiar?

    Egalitarianism of Islam is as much a myth as the putative Quraysh ancestry of Pakistanis. What stands out in the whole sorry saga of Aasia Bibi is that untouchablity in south asia is incredibly tenacious. It has survived even the transitions of nation states and religions.

    Had the same quarrel taken place in some dusty village of India, trust me, the upper caste perpetrators would have been in jail fighting a truckload of charges involving atrocities against Dalits. And the Dalit victim would have got a party ticket for the next election. This is how much Dalits have traveled in India.

    1. Islam is egalitarian in theory though in practice South Asian Islam has been greatly influenced by the Hindu caste system. Caste is not explicitly endorsed by Islamic scriptures the way it is by the Laws of Manu.

      1. So whatever is lovely and cozy about Pakistani society is due to its “Quraysh” ancestry, and whatever sucks is dumped on Indian roots. This is a certainly quite convenient theory.

        Anyway, I won’t argue the point, because caste system obviously has a Hindu origin. However my point was to refute OP’s argument that caste oppression does not exist in Pakistan. It obviously does. The difference is that it gets masked under the Muslim/non-Muslim tensions in Pakistan.

        Most of the lower castes of Pakistan are Hindu Schedule castes, or Christians. So any violence against them gets distorted by the lens of Muslim/non-Muslim angle. But the ground reality in Pakistan is no different from India. Pakistani Dalits (Both Masihi and Hindu SC/ST) remain at the bottom of the society, practice menial labor, face untouchability and occasionally get hauled into jails for insulting the Qurash forefathers of upper castes. (Actually, the last risk does not exist for Indian Dalits).

        1. Caste is a South Asian problem, but one that does not come from Islam. As you yourself acknowledge, it has Hindu roots.

          Blasphemy accusations do not have much to do with caste. The women refused to drink water from utensils that Aasia Bibi had touched because she was a Christian, not because she was “untouchable”. Then she apparently said some nasty things about Islam and the whole thing escalated. Blasphemy accusations are often made against fellow Muslims.

          Pakistanis don’t use concepts like “Dalit” to analyze society. Yes, economic inequality and discrimination exist. Caste in the Hindu sense does not.

  12. And I am always in splits whenever someone brings up Manu-smriti as a counterweight to balance the violence and atrocities prescribed in Quran. Is this even a comparison? Quran is in the front and center of Islam. It is *the* foundation stone of Islam. A copy can be found in most Muslim households. Has anyone ever seen a copy of Manusmriti in a Hindu household? I have not a seen a copy in my entire life, and I am something of a nerd. If you do find one, please send me a copy.

    1. The point is that the caste system is one of the major features of Hinduism and is explictly endorsed by your scriptures. Islam does not endorse caste and in fact all believers are equal in the eyes of Allah. This egalitarianism (in theory) was one of the reasons why lower-caste Hindus converted to Islam.

      There may be “violence and atrocities” in the Quran (as in the Old Testament), but Allah is also compassionate and merciful. It’s all about what you choose to focus on.

      Caste is something Hindus will have to deal with just as Muslims will have to deal with Blasphemy.

      1. The entire basis of caste is contained in “The Laws of Manu”. If Hindus ever want to get rid of the caste system, they will have to acknowledge that fact. Caste discrimination has been illegal in India for 70 years yet it still persists in practice.

        For what its worth, Pakistan does not run on Shariah Law but on the Pakistani Penal Code.

        1. Why would Hindus want to get rid of caste when so much of educational and job opportunities are dependent upon caste and caste certificates. Depending on the state, anything upto 85% of education and jobs are run on the basis of caste. That is secular India for you. India is not in a hurry to get rid of a useful tool.

    2. Indeed, have no reason to believe that hindus have any obligation to honour manu smriti, assuming they even know of it. I’ve never read it myself but heard that it sanctions beef eating so we can make what we will of its influence on contemporary people.

      1. The point is simply that caste has a theological basis in Hinduism while it doesn’t in Islam. South Asian Muslim society may have some caste like features but that comes out of our interactions with Hinduism.

        Pakistan has enough of its own issues. We don’t need to be held responsible for Hindu issues as well.

        1. One way of looking at this is that caste/pollution/social exclusion are civilizational issues for most south asians, going back to our common origins perhaps. SA muslims, christians and many hindu orders have done more to address these social problems (on average) than unreformed hinduism. But this is a social problem before it is a religious problem. Balinese hindus don’t have an untouchable caste for example.
          Whatever hinduism is, its common denominator is not text based (genealogy of higher thought may go back to the vedas in much the same way as islam’s stretches into semitic proto-history and its mythos) , it has no ecumenical priestly order or pope. The hindu social order (as opposed to hinduism) may be deeply flawed in many regards, and in matters that are strengths for other societies, but when you say indic muslims adopt some of these discriminatory practices by influence from hinduism, I’d see it as the reverse. Indic muslims, in so far as they were natives, began as recognising jaati , caste and pollution, but through the influence of islam are reforming themselves away from those practices, but the process is incomplete. The conservative forces in India that hinder caste equality are not quoting scripture, they are acting on a more primal/tribal level.

          1. My point was that because South Asian Muslims were Hindus before converting to Islam their own lives were structured according to the caste system. They didn’t give this up entirely even though their new religion told them that all Muslims are equal in the eyes of Allah–no matter which “caste” they happened to be born into. This could explain certain practices in Pakistan such as not drinking from the same utensils as “lower” castes.

            The responsibility for caste rests squarely on Hindu dogma. Islam has its own problems that it is responsible for.

        1. Seriously, is Manusmriti something of a hoax book? Haven’t seen it in any library either.

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