No such thing as South India

The original article by Mahatma’s grandson is equally intriguing, People of the South constitute an equal and single community: Rajmohan Gandhi.I don’t have too many opinions on this (for a change) but my inclination is that caste (and then creed) have dramatically reduced regional identities in India.

The states that have been most problematic to the Indian Union (East Punjab, Srinagar area, 7 sisters) have more homogenised profiles (and incidentally happen to be on the periphery).

Caste is what enabled North India Hinduism to survive the onslaught of Islam (and to a much lesser extent Christianity) by creating thousands upon thousands of autonomous communities. I can’t think of a similar example where Islam had such a sustained presence and the populations & societies resisted conversion (the rapidity with which the Iran and the Hindu-Malayan sphere turned Muslim are interesting to note).

So in many caste is the greatest curse of Hinduism but paradoxically its greatest strength. The strength of caste and communal feeling is perhaps what keeps many Hindu states in the Indian Union; a fully developed regional-national profile would invariably create problems with the centre.

As for the original piece above I imagine South India is a colonial construct but a successfully grafted one. There was enough “there” (the Dravidian exceptionalism) to create a distinct identity and in my day-to-day interactions the South Indian-North Indian divide is a very real one. However the intensity of that is up for debate and how it translates into a political framework again is debatable.

As an aside South India caught on because it’s an extraordinarily catchy term. Pakistan has a similar divide between Iranian and Indo-Aryan speakers but we can’t use West Pakistani and East Pakistani anymore. In a hypothetical scenario if post-1947 only West Pakistan had seceded (with say an enlarged portion of the Punjab, Kutch & Kashmir to offset East Bengal) then we might have seen the Pashtuns & Baloch adopt the term “West Pakistanis” for themselves and sort of be a proxy population like the South Indians.

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36 Replies to “No such thing as South India”

  1. It is not a colonial construct. Its a cultural one based primarily on history. The Dravidian states are primarily inhabited by people who left the Indus Valley Civilisation prior to any major mixing with Indo-Aryans (although they have about 5-6% steppes ancestry).

    They also largely evaded Islamic dominance during the Mughal period and were united in the Hindu Vijayanagara empire.

    They are a distinct subset of Indian civilisation as a result, with further variations within.

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      1. Ok I see your point. Probably only during the Vijayanagara empire can we speak of a united ‘Hindu’ identity in the south. But that’s not the same as an united, exclusive ‘south indian’ identity that we see today. That is very much a post colonial phenomenon.

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  2. (the rapidity with which the Iran and the Hindu-Malayan sphere turned Muslim are interesting to note).

    was it rapid? iran did not become majority muslim until the 900-1000 AD period probably. 250 to 350 years depending on how you count it.

    in maritime southeast asia the shift took hundreds of years. parts were firmly muslim by 1300 (there were certainly muslims around aceh by 1000 AD). malacca 1400. java began to fall to muslim kingdoms in the 1500s. large numbers of hindus persisted centuries after this (and some persist in java to this day).

    the point is that the contrast is there. but on continuity. probably the ‘fastest’ and most thorough islamicization was in the maghreb. christianity was extinct by around 1000 AD.

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    1. True but the fact that Islam “leapfrogged” India (obviously India is Muslim to a non-trivial extent and the Indian periphery is now entirely Muslim) is quite significant.

      I’m thinking the Balkans, Spain (but even these regions had expulsions of Muslim minorities) as “holding zones” but they also had a Christian civilisation that had not been captured.

      The Indian-Hindu exceptionalism rests on a few factors:

      (1.) the core lands were captured
      (2.) Muslim conquest was for a long period and cultural significant (Ferdowsi translated the Shahnama circa Ghaznavid era, Ramayana was translated into Persian by Dara Shikoh if I’m not mistaken).
      (3.) Indian was geographically connected to the Middle East (I imagine India is in some ways closer to Arabia than Morocco)

      This is of course speculation on my part.. would be a good podcast..

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      1. Islam did not leapfrog India. The way Islam spread in India and South East Asia was very different. Islam spread to South East Asia as trade networks became dominated by Muslim traders. Trade was the lifeblood of the South East littoral states. So just as Indic religions had taken root in littoral South East Asia, now it was Islam that replaced Indic religions.

        Caste may have played a role in making Indian society very diffuse and hence difficult for Islam to be imposed top down. However, the main reason why Islam did not completely replace Indic religions is because of the sheer demographic heft of South Asia. There was simply a vast difference between the size of the South Asian population as compared with Muslim Central Asian/Afghan/Persian invaders.

        It was more attractive for Muslim armies to attack and raid India than to try and stay and rule and potentially lose control over their home base. When they did start to rule over India, collecting Jizia from “non-believers” was more profitable than to try and convert them to Islam.

        The second aspect is that similar to the British, Islamic rulers were willing to have defeated Hindu (Rajput?) rulers stay in power so long as they did not rebel and were sending taxes to the Sultan. These rulers enjoyed considerable local autonomy and hence the majority did not convert to Islam. Not did their subjects.

        As far as South India is concerned, the geographic obstacles that separate the Deccan Plateau were a natural barrier. The barriers did not prevent “cultural seepage” as evidenced by common cultural elements of Indic religions as they are practiced in different parts of India. Not did they prevent a determined and able general to penetrate deep into the South. The Khaljis did this, as well as the Tughluqs. However, the Deccan Plateau was difficult to administer from the North. Muhammed Tughluq moved his capital to the south, but reversed his decision as it became apparent that keeping control of the North would be difficult.

        After the Vijayanager empire, the southern polity remained fractured. Aurangzeb could not subdue the Marathas and brought ruin on the Mughal empire while trying. Even the Marathas never directly ruled over all of the south. The Nizam of Hyderabad was a perpetual spoiler for the Marathas.

        It all comes down to economics. The Indo-Gangetic plain was the demographic core of India and generated the necessary surplus for empires to function effectively. Centralized Islamic rule was possible in this belt given the limited geographic barriers to project power. The south was a whole difficult ball game because of the difficult and varied terrain. Hence the south was simply referred to as the Deccan (from the Sanskrit work Dakshin). So for the North Indians – including Muslims, the south was viewed to as a single entity.

        Sorry for the long write up.

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        1. Wonderful comment!

          I would argue though that even in other Muslim held lands, where there weren’t particular efforts at converting the local population, they still became Islamic.

          Hinduism’s ability to resist, adapt and absorb Islamic & then Christianity (both of them being extraordinarily dynamic and aggressive religious traditions) is a testament to some resilience..

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          1. Hinduism does have the resiliency that you refer to. A classic example is Buddhism, which has the same roots as Hinduism and shares many of the same underpinnings – rebirth and moksha/nirvana; but it Buddhism at its foundation atheistic. Buddhism may have become popular because of its lack of Brahminical rituals and lack of caste distinctions, and at one time even enjoyed royal patronage. However, Buddhism slowly faded from the mainstream in South Asia as Hindu thought absorbed many of Buddha’s teachings and Buddha was accorded a place in the Hindu pantheon as an avatar of Vishnu.

            This fear of being absorbed by the majority religion has been a concern for Muslims (and Sikhs) in South Asia. While some Hindu ultra orthodox called for the “purification” of Muslims and reabsorption into Hinduism, the bigger concern for Muslims was creeping re-absorption into Hinduism. Hence, the strong reaction to terms such as “Mother India” – something that the Muslim ulema and Muslim League pre-partition leveraged to the maximum.

            You are correct that Christians in India have been more open to reverting to traditional Indian first names. There is also some interest in understanding one’s pre-Christian roots.

            I have always found it interesting growing up in India that many Hindus attend select churches and Sufi dargahs. The reason is very simple. They believe that praying at these churches and dargahs brings special blessings to all. OTOH, I know of few Muslims and Christians in India who will attend a Hindu temple. I guess even the appearance of respecting your previous faith creates insecurity. In all fairness, there could be other reasons such as many Hindu temples prohibit the entry of believers of other religions.

            What is changing in modern India is economic integration and Bollywood accompanied by rapid urbanization. In formal workplaces, your religion is becoming a secondary consideration. Bollywood and Indian musical traditions continue to bring people together.

            I guess I am an optimistic!

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        2. “The demographic heft of South-Asia is why Islam didn’t take hold”

          The peninsular Arabs were a very sparse population ruling over highly populated regions like Egypt, the Levant, and Iraq. Didn’t really seem to affect their rate of conversion when compared to less populated regions.

          “They preferred to collect taxes from Indians rather than convert them”

          Muslim rulers virtually never tried to convert their populations to Islam, whether inside or outside India.

          “Vassals retained local autonomy, preventing centralized Muslim rule and conversions”

          Direct, continuous, centralized Muslim rule existed across the Ganges for 600 years, and Muslims never constituted more than 25% of the population overall. Sure, this may be more than the 10% you’d see in a autonomous Vassal, but it doesn’t really explain why both regions never converted en-mass (like Punjab and Bengal).

          I do think Brahmanical Caste was the primary factor in keeping inner-India Hindu. Things like population and politics certainly explain minor variations in conversion throughout the region, but I don’t think they are THE explanatory factor why Islam did or didn’t take hold.

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          1. “Muslim rulers virtually never tried to convert their populations to Islam, whether inside or outside India.”

            DINNG SHIT is at it again
            Denier of Dawah of Muslim reign
            Robber of credit of mard-e mumin
            Maker of light of Islam’s gain!

            Truth is, Islam’s steed overcame
            hindoo resistance and hindoo flame
            Seduced each worthy hindoo dame
            Spread Allah’s word and His lasting fame!

            Anew will the Mumin rise truth be told
            In Ghazwat prophesied by seers old
            With strength of arms, Allah nigehban
            Hilali Parcham will surge anon on Hindustan!

            I prefer the anagram DINNG SHIT to INDTHINGS, for he is doing nothing but spreading lies and shit about Islam’s Men being pansies who spared the Kuffar under their boot.

            #Islam4Life
            #EitherYoureMuslimOrYouWishYouWereBeforeWeStickSayfUlIslamUpYourAss
            #KashmirBanaygaPakistan
            #RadioPakistanDelhi

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        3. enjoyed this comment. that being said: However, the main reason why Islam did not completely replace Indic religions is because of the sheer demographic heft of South Asia. There was simply a vast difference between the size of the South Asian population as compared with Muslim Central Asian/Afghan/Persian invaders.

          this is not persuasive insofar as islam was brought by a small group of arabs to places like iran. the large number of arabs today is due to arabicization of other semitic speaking groups that took several centuries, concurrent with iran’s islamicization.

          basically, the reasons given are plausible. but less plausible when you consider the size of the early islamic empire, from the indus to morocco.

          i think the indian ocean maritime trade system is critical explaining why islam has been so attractive to southeast asian austronesians, but none of the other ethnolinguistic groups of mainland southeast asia. and islam came last to places like java, which were left dependent on the sea due to their size and population.

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          1. Empires and religions face some of the same challenges – being over-extended and their supply lines becoming vulnerable. As far as Islam is concerned, Mongol invasions destroyed the core of Islamic power in Central Asia and Middle East. The Ummah at one time afforded opportunities to whoever was learned and talented – from Spain at one end to South Asia at the other. However, Mongols destroyed this continuity and disrupted the constant infusion of talent from the rest of the Islamic world into South Asia. Islamic empires made a come back with Turko-Mongols now becoming part of the Islamic elite in Central Asia, Persia and South Asia. But the Mongols dealt a blow that Islamic power never truly recovered from.

            The Iberian peninsula was lost to Islam. South Asia remained unfinished business. Its as if a the first wave of Islam converted many in its path, but as it got further from Arabia, the harder it got to sustain the missionary zeal.

            Despite the universalism of islam’s message, did it become harder to convince people in remote geographies to accept the message in the Koran? The aversion to translating the koran into other languages cannot but have impeded the spread of Islam on the outer reaches of the first burst of Islamic vigor.

            Just some thoughts.

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  3. Though the south Indian states have linguistic affinities with each other, they are not apparent at all to anyone who hasn’t read articles or books on language families (try asking people if you don’t believe me.)

    Culturally, though, South India is definitely a thing. There is a common cuisine (idlis, dosas, sambar, etc.) that is distinctive from the rest of the subcontinent. This can’t be a coincidence. There are (distinctive) similarities in dress and behavior too. In this, I’d include parts of Maharashtra and probably Sri Lanka too, though they are IE-speaking regions.

    The person whose tweet you’ve posted is not wrong though. All of these affinities haven’t really made southern people very pally with each other, or identify with each other in opposition to North Indians. No Tamil-Kannada bhai-bhai, for example. In fact, the Kaveri water dispute continues to create some very ugly situations (like riots against Tamils in the Bangalore area.) TN is the only place where there has been a secessionist impulse, and other southerners are as likely to call such people traitors as a UPite would.

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  4. I think that there is no exclusive, united kind of a “south Indian” cultural identity even now in south India. I use that term mainly as a geographical marker myself and cringe significantly when people use that to refer to a distinct south Indian culture as different from a broader mainstream Indian (early pan-Indian elite-upper-middle-and-middle-class-origin?) culture. I mean, even after Independence, the trajectories of all Indian states are quite similar culturally, aren’t they- for example, modern Bengaluru is extremely similar in my mind to the modern Delhi-Noida area and the intellectuals all over the country of all types are quite united culturally; not to speak of villages where the only significant differences might be in the domain of prosperity and somewhat about the status and importance of women in families.

    This has been the case for so long as far as the Deccan is concerned. Two dominant languages of divergent subgroups within the Dravidian family have coexisted in the two halves of it without any one group (the early Kannada speakers being a good, capable candidate) undertaking any project to completely unify or homogenise the area, culturally or however. But I do tend to think that there is likely a common ancestor to some oldest, somewhat-unique-looking aspects of “south Indian culture” in early Karnataka and Tamil Nadu when undergoing their Aryanisation. (The early Telugu exposure (and possible contribution) to Buddhism seems not to have continued and survived very much anywhere within south India.) Before the Aryanisation though, all these groups were likely even more divergent and probably the South Dravidian-II and South Dravidian-I contact re-establishment would have had to wait for an even longer while if not for the Aryanisation. Wherever they all had come from, be it the Indus civilisation or the Arabian sea or whatever, they simply lost all memories of any older unitary histories of themselves in their northwestern areas of origin and splintered into all kinds of language subgroups.

    Edit: Now people may argue that things like cross-cousin marriages, etc. are an indication of a distinctness of south Indian culture but I think it is not necessarily the case. I’m quite certain that at least no consciousness of a broader cultural affinity to fellow south Indians would have followed in the olden days in the minds of olden Dravidian ethnolinguistic groups from the fact of having a common cross-cousin marriage pattern among them all.

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    1. ” modern Bengaluru is extremely similar in my mind to the modern Delhi-Noida area”
      Appears to be written by one who did not step out of a high-rise flat IT brotherhood community, but I see this all the while with people from other states in Karnataka. Outside,there is a culture and as language that is 1500 -2300 years old, but a large part of the IT brotherhood insists on Hindish and stay within, feasting on Bollywood movies and bad western food. Someone earlier talked about Indians in the US (at least their fellows) limiting themselves to potlucks within their community/lingual groups, but how is this different from ITwalahs in bangalore not even able to learn the language or culture, and see superficial similarities to Delhi? If anything, this is insulting to both, Delhi, and to Bangalore, which are both, unique, and structurally, architecturally,culturally distinct.

      I understand the people who comment and frequent the blog want a Pan-Indian (or a Pan-South Indian) edifice, but India is not this. Every state, every community is unique and independent. Even travelling from UP to Bihar or UP to Rajasthan, one can readily see the transformation. There are certain common religious, cultural and social features in the south (which readily extend to Maharashtra south of Bombay) but you can take it only so far. We are never destined to be Han-China.

      Shrikant Krishnamachari is a smart guy, but rather than throw his one twitter saying at us to have the commentatariat frothing, you need to share his entire twitter history. He has unique views about Karanataka that shows that even this one southern state is not a unitary identity (https://twitter.com/shrikanth_krish/status/1005214441124892677). We cannot read this one liner in exclusion of all his other writings.

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      1. Lol! Probably yeah- I really know (through extremely weak physical diffusion of some kind- of air or something probably – as I don’t tend to keep myself so up-to-date when it comes to these things (but then that’s true for almost everything in my case! man I’m such a loser lol)) only about the Superhuman CS-Background Cultural Elite of Bengaluru and Noida when it comes to both those places (I have never visited Bengaluru in my life and I have only very broadly brushed through Noida, just once). But I think they’ll prove quite successful in ensuring their specific brand of subculture not only survives but also becomes so dominant and widespread within the broader Bengaluru and Delhi areas (and likely even wider areas extending to large parts of north India and also south India) eventually. I love them so very extraordinarily much though. They feel like they are all so distant to me (but also so close in certain deep ways fundamentally (not just to me perhaps but also to every other human on this planet because those guys are verily the Gods on Earth in my view)) but I so badly want to be like one of them. My destiny in at least one of my future lives is in Noida or Bengaluru doing God’s work speaking Hinglish I’m sure and that life of mine is gonna be so much more better than this one!

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  5. What was it that made Sri Lanka not become Muslim or Christian. In the 19th century less than 2 million population.

    The Arabs and South Indian Muslims have been trading in SL for centuries. Many of the Sinbad stories are based on Sri Lanka. The Old Arab name for Sri Lanka was Serendib, the root for Serendipity and is still used to describe the country in Tourist promotions.

    Then 500 years of Portuguese, Dutch and English. The Portuguese made the most conversions to Catholicism and the bulk of SL Christians (9% or so) are Catholics. The Dutch did not do much conversions. Under the Brits to hold office one had to Protestant Christian, generally Church of England/Anglican. Our first Prime Ministers were born and baptized as Anglicans. Even to this day the small (50K or so) Protestant Christians have enormous influence.

    Even so the bulk of the country remained Buddhist (whatever that means). There was much westernization, eg use of white for a weddings even 200 years ago (a no no in all of Asia as white is the color of death). Bread becoming a staple.

    Numinous says There is a common cuisine (idlis, dosas, sambar, etc.)

    Not out here in SL, its Appam/Appa, IdiAppam/IndiAppa and coconut roti like in Kerala. Not one single dairy milk product, other than buffalo curd/yogurt.
    On the other hand cross cousin marriage one to one or one to many (polyandry) was the norm. I think a lot of issues of inbreeding were not prevalent because of lax rules in sleeping around.

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      1. The original word in sanskrit is “Sinhala Dvipa” or island where lions live. The relationship between lions and old Ceylon is best described by sBarkum. Serendip or serendib is a persian or Arabic corruption of the Sanskrit word, but for several centuries before Arab traders frequented the Lankan coast, they excited the imaginations of Persian and Arabs as source of cheaper spice for trade.

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        1. In the previous comment, I was hesitant to mention the ridiculousness of the name (no offense sbarkum) as srilankan lions went extinct some 40,000 years ago (before human occupation of the island). Not clear why the country was believed to be the island of lions, or even how the original srilankan idea of lion as a representation of the country came about.

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          1. To Razib:

            To Bengalis or Gujarathis , depending on the time of the day, or the legend.

            Somehow a woman copulated with a lion (or a really beastly looking man) and the child went around marauding the Vanga (or bengal) kingdom. I m a bit unclear on how the prince lands in SriLanka from this point, but this lion king is believed to have established SriLanka.

            Before writing this comment, I tried to read through Mahavamsa, Dipavamsa, and Jataks version of the story of the founding father, but each version appears to be written by people on acid trip. I still do not get the lion part, except a chinese version of the founding story which says the lion is killed by the Lion Catcher (sinha Bahu).

            Nothing in south Asian mythology makes sense, if the first peopling of Srilanka happened in 505 BC (beyond the Veddas, who themselves are not that very old) what the hell is our primary epic talking about?

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          2. I have not exhaustively vetted it but there is a likely philologically oriented answer written to a Quora question about the etymology of Sinhala at https://qr.ae/TUn7ov (edit: but by an amateur/advanced amateur like me so one has to be cautious). The major suggestion of that answer seems to be that for some perhaps strange** but definitely far less trippy reasons than a possible mating between a lion and a woman, etc., an important guy in ancient north India somewhere who came to play an important role in early Sri Lankan history was named siMhala (Prakrits sIhala), in the meaning of ‘lion-like’ simply. The mechanism of derivation apparently would be to make use of the Old-Indo-Aryan suffix -la which means ‘-like’ so that siMha-la would originally just mean ‘lion-like’.

            Now I am familiar with the tradition of having NIA Singh, Sinh, etc. as a common surname for a significant number of people all along the Indo-Gangetic plain and surrounding areas but I don’t know if people at any time in the present or past had some variants of ‘lion’ words in their given names (I also don’t know if there is a possibility that the word sIhala itself referred to a surname or tribe name or some such thing originally).

            The problem of the position of the Sinhala-Dhivehi language subgroup within the Indo-Aryan family seems not wholly resolved and it is quite probable that this little cluster may derive from an Eastern Indo-Aryan Prakrit subfamily based on what I read (and did not evaluate thoroughly as my expertise in Indo-Aryan linguistics is probably just around 2% or so) in the “Languages and Linguistics of South Asia” book a while ago and also reproduced some relevant information in an old comment here some relevant sections of which I’m reproducing here now:

            “I don’t know much about it but fortunately it so happened that I recently took a (very cursory) look at the section 1.3.2 “Modern Indo-Aryan” of the book “The Languages and Linguistics of South Asia: A Comprehensive Guide”. Deep phylogenetic relationships among Modern Indo-Aryan languages are notoriously difficult to infer because of the high contiguity of the northern subcontinent which led to convergence between various speech forms in the Pre-Modern phase when giving rise to the modern languages. With this background, the book says that after groups with reasonably strong confidence such as Bengali-Odia-Assamese, Sinhala-Divehi, Marathi-Konkani are identified, it is not at all confident where to place these earlier proto-languages with respect to each other. The author of the section mentions both the “Southwest Indo-Aryan” hypothesis (the one linking Sinhala-Divehi with Marathi (which also includes Gujarati in some classifications)) and the seemingly somewhat new (? I don’t know) “Eastern Indo-Aryan” hypothesis. He discusses the second somewhat more favourably than the first by writing and I’m quoting the section author James W. Gair below:

            “Although proposed affiliations of Sinhala have often been with western, southern, or southwestern Indo-Aryan (Masica 1991: 451-456), perhaps the strongest evidence suggests a non-western origin….””

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  6. Raj Mohan Gandhi’s comment is truer historically than at present. Even now, as long as it is not laid down thick and strong, there is some truth in it. Any comment like this can be deconstructed easily. In fact , any comment can be deconstructed.

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  7. OK Zack, I am at my wit’s end regarding You selecting one liners from someone else’s twitter and whipping the BP commentariat to frenzy, knowing fully well they will not be bothered to read anything. I have read the Hindu article and then downloaded the kindle book (you owe me Rs. 492) and went through the book today. NOWHERE DOES RAJMOHAN GHANDHI SAYS THESE WORDS. Pox on the house of the Hindu.

    First, the Hindu interview with the catchy title. R. Ghandi does not say this. what he says in response to a convoluted question is:

    “A more realistic goal is the steady growth of a southern solidarity, based at one level on pragmatism and at another level on a principle long resonating in the South, which is that the people, all of them, constitute an equal and single community.”

    Note that he does not say that they are or have achieved this. He just hopes, in response to a question “Going by its past history, what probability would you attach to these two possibilities: a) the southern states coming together to exert their weight as a unitary political unit for their common interests; b) the South playing a leadership role in the destiny of the subcontinent, much as how the North has done from the time of the Khiljis to the present.”

    I have done a search of the kindle version. Nowhere he says that the south Indian people are a single community. He starts with the Deccan sultanates, through Haider and Tippu, through the first leaders of south India, to jayalalitha etc. He considers Tamils, Kannadigas, Telugus, and Malayalis separately. Never one is South India mentioned as a unitary construct. Beyond the first 30 pages there is not even a discussion of south India as a whole.

    Last, I can at least see you reading one tweet and putting that out to excite the BP fans to a state of frenzy, but why did Srikanth fall for this, I cannot fathom. Once again, I want to call out the loss of 7 $ for no reason, the book itself is nothing new.

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    1. I wasn’t taking about the Gandhi article but the tweet??

      I read the article Mr. Gandhi was arguing FOR a South Indian bloc.

      Personally the BP commentariat tend to be rather well-informed?

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  8. “As for the original piece above I imagine South India is a colonial construct but a successfully grafted one. There was enough “there” (the Dravidian exceptionalism) to create a distinct identity and in my day-to-day interactions the South Indian-North Indian divide is a very real one. However the intensity of that is up for debate and how it translates into a political framework again is debatable.”

    South Indians are probably distinct enough that India is holding them back, and they’re better off independent. Their culture seems much more egalitarian, literate and sophisticated. The Kingdoms of Mysore and Travancore (both princely states until 1949) were so much more advanced than their peers in the rest of India, with many achievements and reforms. I kind of wish Mysore and Travancore managed to gain independence after the British left, instead of being incorporated into India. If they were independent counties today, they’d be performing much better than today under Indian governance.

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    1. That can be said of some other princely states as well. Like Gaekwads in Baroda.

      “Their culture seems much more egalitarian, literate and sophisticated.”

      The causality might be the other way round?

      I quite like Vikram’s hypothesis that most of the economic disparity between states can be explained away by the presence of large British-built cities.

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    2. To be fair if India had gotten full Independence say in the Year 2000; we might have seen the actual divide between “British India” and the Princely States.

      The manner of granting Independence was almost criminal; it was extraordinarily hasty rather than graduated

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      1. Nehru should have leased out Bombay and Calcutta to the British a la Hong Kong. India’s GDP would have been 2x of what it’s now.

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      2. Even if the Independence went ahead in 1948 July as originally planned, things would have been different. Mountbatten hurried it up needlessly and Indian leaders were driven to a corner

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