the British “created” India according to this Coloniser

I observe a moratorium on all electronics between dinner and bedtime but I’ve commandeered V’s laptop (with her permission) to express my profound outrage. I’m also sorry to detract attention from the excellent Episode 10.

I am reading “The Shortest History of Germany” by James Hawes and on page 13:

“Rather like the British in India, the Romans in Germany found a patchwork of warring statelets and imposed upon it, for their own convenience, the notion of a single vast Nation. Like the British, they then created for this invented land a class of semi-acculturated leaders from whom they expected loyalty.”

I just tweeted him this link but this coloniser has no shame in writing such ahistorical filth and must be called out. Any reading of Indian history shows that there has always been an intrinsic geographic identity that stems back as far as IVC and that centralised authority has existed twice (in the Maurya dynasty and the Mughals) pre-British (I was going through the Numismatics podcasts).

I’m absolutely livid and this is the problem with Britain not atoning for the Rape of India. The book has got sparking reviews from all the usual suspects but it’s passages like this that deeply underscore the need for Brown Pundits, BrownCast and a uniquely desi voice. To deny Indians* any agency in our own identity formation (when Indian civilisation ranks as one of the World’s Greats) and that somehow it was a “white man’s burden” is so insulting and in it’s off-hand nature so belittling that I’m at a loss for words.

*I use Indians as shorthand for all desi/brown people; even Pakistanis ascribe to such an identity of sorts but with obviously a different slant, our India is found in Akbar.

Ps: As I wrote this post what also occurred to me is this Coloniser’s breathtaking condescension in referring to India’s 17th-19th century political entities as “statelets.” Statelets mean “small states” (Principalities and such) and even the small Indian political states (the Maratthas, the Sikhs and what not) would have dwarfed the European powers by population, geography and in many cases history. This is cloaked language and psychological penmanship, this was an entirely unnecessary paragraph that geniunely calls for an apology.

PPs: Upon ruminating further it occurred to me that it is so shameful to compare the uncivilised Germanic tribes in 100 BC to Indian Kingdoms in 1700AD. The analogy is simply derogatory because how could uncivilised Germanic tribes compare to the sophistication and grandeur of the Indian Kingdoms in any possible way?

PPPs: Just as Germans would approach their history in a careful manner (one German presenter was immediately fired for suggesting that at least the Nazis constructed the autobahns) it may be wise for Colonisers to be more reticent whenever they mention the Rape of India.

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25 Replies to “the British “created” India according to this Coloniser”

  1. Again this view that India was NOT a nation is espoused by Indian themselves to this very day, so there is nothing new

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    1. To be clear, we are referring to the Westphalian nation state, which by definition did not exist before the Treaty of Westphalia (though France and England were probably proto-nations by the end of the 100 years war.)

      India was nation-like in many ways, with common cultural and religious underpinnings, but I think it was more like the Holy Roman Empire.

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      1. Why weren’t Athens or Sparta or Rome circa 600 BC “Westphalian” states? How about Judah or Israel (two separate countries) circa 1200 BC? I think the idea that strong nation states didn’t exist in the ancient past seems to be a modern conceit.

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      2. Agreed. “Nation-state” is a modern concept. Centralized authority did exist pre-British but that was in the form of empires.

        I don’t find anything wrong with the argument that in some ways it was the British who united India into a single nation. Resistance to colonialism was certainly a factor in the rise of nationalism.

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      3. “India was nation-like in many ways, with common cultural and religious underpinnings, but I think it was more like the Holy Roman Empire.”

        Again as i said this is not what i was referring to. Lot of Indians hold the view that India was not a nation like not just in terms of Westphalian , but also it was NOT a nation “with common cultural and religious underpinnings” as well. What Kabir just said accurately illustrates the view of those Indians as well. Its similar to the same argument that there was no Hinduism and its a 20th century construct. That;s the view a lot Indians hold.

        So yeah hopefully you would get a idea of what you are up against.

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    2. That shows how much colonised mentality has seeped into Indians. Independence movement and post 47 governments have not instilled nationalism thoroughly and colonial hangover has not been cauterised. Congress should have taken a lead in it, they have abdicated their responsibility in favour of dynastic politics. ; leftists could have taken a lead in it like Chinese communists and they have also abdicated their responsibility and opted to be camp follower of western communism. Hindutva can take a lead in it and they have to be more inclusive.

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  2. Upon ruminating further it occurred to me that it is so shameful to compare the uncivilised Germanic tribes in 100 BC to Indian Kingdoms in 1700AD.

    yes that is a bad analogy. really bad

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  3. Saurav, SAARC was perceived as one “Bharat” nation in the Mahabharata. However the understanding of “nation” was different.

    To completely change the topic, are we sure that the Germans were not a nation 100 BC?
    The Germans themselves were themselves a civilizational offshoot (Milan says source) for a pan Arya Varsha civilization. Same 7 days of the week. Same celestial objects per day. Did they have 360 degrees in an angle the way Sumerians, Egyptians and SAARC did?

    The Romans themselves shared a lot with both the Germans as well as Aryavarsha in the east.

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    1. To completely change the topic, are we sure that the Germans were not a nation 100 BC?

      uh, they were barely in the iron age. tribes like the “Alemanni” (all-men) were created during the roman period as a coalition to face off against the romans.

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      1. “they were barely in the iron age. tribes like the “Alemanni” (all-men) were created during the roman period as a coalition to face off against the romans.”

        This is what I remember reading and the current understanding of history. How much of this comes from the Roman Catholic Church writing history? How much of this comes from the Romans writing history pre 300 AD.

        Given how much historians distort history all over the world (including by the Church, Islamists and others), I think we need to question whether what we believe now was truly so.

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        1. Wow AnAn!

          Very well said. I couldn’t have done a better job but fully agree with you on this.

          We need to question the very premises on which a lot of pre-Christian European history is based at the moment

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        2. This is what I remember reading and the current understanding of history. How much of this comes from the Roman Catholic Church writing history? How much of this comes from the Romans writing history pre 300 AD.

          tacitus wrote a lot about the germans. caesar some too. and we have archaeology.

          we really do know a l ot about them for a preliterate ppl. germans fund analysis about their own past. though hitler was kind of embarrassed about it because it was archaeology about pots and stuff.

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        3. Excellent points. I mentioned many times that ancient and first millennium European history was heavily fabricated. One of the key things was erasing Serbs from this history and inventing their elusive migration in the 7thcAC to the Balkan under the name Slavs. It would be long story mentioning all facts but, in this context, it is important because it strongly influences SA history as well. I did say before that SA scholars must ask some questions Euro/US scholars about Euro history. Because of these fabrications, so called ‘Aryan’ migration/invasion cannot be resolved in last 200 years.

          For example, who knows that 17 Roman emperors were Serbs? Who knows that emperor Diocletian spent his whole life in Serbia (Sirmium, close to Belgrade) and only two times shortly visited Rome? Who knows that Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity official Roman religion was a Serb and announced this in the town of Nis (btw, where the first Aryan expedition startedand many towns in SA have this name). His main competitor, they fought a war, was Likinije (Licinius) who was also a Serb. Etc, etc.

          Old German historical school fabricated many things, they inspired a myth that Aryans were Germans, they invented the term Indo-Germanic which was after 100 years replaced with Indo-European. But surprisingly, new German historians recently denounced their old theories. They confessed that today’s Germany was a Serbian ancestral land, they are publishing Germans maps with old Serbian toponyms which existed before Germans changed them (e.g. Dresden, Berlin, Brandenburg, Magdeburg, rivers Rheine, Elba, etc), some road signs at the entrance of some places became dual with new and old names. Prussians were Serbs who were Germanized, many still have Serbian surnames (Bismark was of Serbian origin, his grandma spoke only Serbian, Leibnitz, etc). There are still about 60.000 indigenous Luzicki Serbs (Lusitanian) in Germany (Hitler killed 90% of them). E.g. Russian empress Katarina was of this origin (not German as mainstream history fabricates).

          Well, all this is in the second instance linked to SA history and at some stage Indian scholars must start to discover the real European history to prevent some SA nonsenses such as that Nuristani are the hyphen in the ‘Indo-European’.

          Eppur si mouve in spite of KFT (Kabir-Fukuyama theory) which determines the beginning and the end of history.

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  4. /Colonisers to be more reticent whenever they mention the Rape of India./

    When people like Audrey Truschke are denied visas instead of being called to festivals, then the coloniser will be reticent .

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  5. Haven’t read the book, but the reviewer sure sounds delusional. He is imagining fissures between east and west Germany where none, or at least none with any practical bearing exist.

    He ascribes Nazi support a primarily east German/Prussian/Lutheran phenomena. The facts on the ground fly in the face of his “research”. Nazi party was born in Bavaria. Hitler was born in Austria and came from catholic household. Most senior Nazi figures came from Bavaria, and belonged to catholic heritage (Himmler, Goering).

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    1. Well he is not wrong. There is an idea how Prussian- Protestant movement was sort of set up the base for the rise of Nazi movement. Also once the HRE was gone and German Empire was born, these ideas became more mainstream, to HRE controlled areas as well.

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  6. I didn’t think much of the article; looked like unsubtle Prussia-bashing to me, and targeted at people who desperately want to see a link between today’s anti-immigration forces and the (original) Nazis.

    The “Iron Kingdom” book offers a much more nuanced account of Prussian history up until WW2. From what I recall, the scions of East-Elbian Junker families were quite heavily represented in the Nazi rank and file, but then some of the strongest resistance to the Nazis came from Eastern Germany too. Berlin used to be a Communist stronghold up until Hitler’s ascension to power. I don’t recall if the book said anything about Lutherans being more likely to be Nazis, but I’m dubious.

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  7. It is not clear why the predominantly Upper class/upper caste Indian posters going overboard on what Arundhathi Roy or Audrey Truschke say. There is absolutely nothing wrong to say what that feel. Asking Arundhathi why she will not talk about Pakistan or why she is talking bad about India, is utter nonsense; Arundathi is not a citizen of Pakistan. Prohibiting visa for Audrey is utter nonsense (The attitude is rural, like in a village in Haryana or in Mylapore, if you speak against my caste you cannot enter our street) , she is paid to work and live in USA. India is a democracy; the central government is not China that sets up what India should be, and what should Indians or foreigners say about India.

    Once again, let us be clear; India is a democracy and a union not a dictatorship. The population is predominantly Shudra, Dalit and tribes. The idea of the nation being responsive to Brahmins creating a nation of their liking will only lead to a thousand revolts. They are looking at China (submerge all other identities), Pakistan (religion identity), or even USA (melting pot); not one of these ideas will work.

    I do understand the commenters and posters are upper class Hindus here, but this idea was tried out before and never worked, and led to a thousand revolts. The more laid back approach of Rao and Manmohan Singh has worked better, than Indira’s; even, Modi has been pretty laid back leaving the states and others lead the agenda. Exactly how many people has Modi banned, even leaving alone the dreaded 295(a)?

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    1. “They are looking at China (submerge all other identities), Pakistan (religion identity), or even USA (melting pot); not one of these ideas will work.”

      Well it did “work” for them, didn’t it?(Xiankying will be han-ified soon, just like Tibet) . Its completely different to say that many ,in India dont like that idea, and thats completely ok. But lets not say it doesn’t work.

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      1. The line means; it will not work for India; India s not China, USA or Pakistan. I wrote a thousand lines on why India is not USA or China. Hindu-driven centralized nation-building is not for India.

        It is not clear on how well it has worked for Pakistan. The USA is crystallizing (unmelting?) in a major way, and the last presidential election is an attempt to go one way (freeze?).

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    2. Vijay,

      Once again, let us be clear; India is a democracy and a union not a dictatorship. The population is predominantly Shudra, Dalit and tribes. The idea of the nation being responsive to Brahmins creating a nation of their liking will only lead to a thousand revolts.

      Vijay, you are a low caste Shudra/Dalit and should be banned from commenting on Brown Pundits.
      How dare you espouse a Majoritarian view.

      Keep it up though.

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  8. PPPs: Just as Germans would approach their history in a careful manner (one German presenter was immediately fired for suggesting that at least the Nazis constructed the autobahns)

    The Germans being Germans, didnt quite see how the English saw Eastern Europe, Spain as kind of white peoples.

    The German being a relatively landlocked didnt have the greatest Navy. To compete with the other western nations they could only expand east ward.

    If the Germans did the run of the mill expand into Asia, Africa and Americas they would have been a run of the mill colonizers.

    However, they did the no no of expanding and enslaving other “white countries.

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