Jallianwala Bagh; 100 years on

I’ve realised I’ve lost the appetite to write posts on the desktop but will happily type away on my mobile.

I guess I’m evolving into a reluctant shock jock. I was infuriated to hear that PM TM refused to apologise for Jallianwala Bagh.

I understand our Brown Lives don’t amount to much and generally are worthless but anyone with a cursory understanding of the events surrounding JB will know of the intense pain and humiliation that it caused.

As I have incorporated more of an Indian identity into my life (through marriage) I’m overwhelmed by the condescending and complex relationship Britain has with India.

They may call us Pakis and Pakistan May always be on the verge of failure but intermingled into all that is this strange respect mixed with fear. The people of the Turanian triangle may generally come from broken societies (take your pick of Pakistan, Iran or Afghanistan) but there is a fierce pride about them.

India, which is not so broken and an order of magnitude superior, doesn’t evidence that same sort of pride.

My instincts tell me that caste plays a deep and abiding role in Indian consciousness. It can never really be shaken off and that’s why Indian society has always had these crevices exploited by outsiders.

Hindus must deal with caste and Muslims must deal with their shitty religion. Simples!

I’ve also realised I constantly insult Islam because the Hinditva brigade will abide no criticism from Pakistanis (even though they claim we are one people).

So the best way to offset the claims that I’m an ISI agent (I should apply; I would love to be the Paki Bond) is by abasing Islam every opportunity I get. It’s not fair and I don’t feel right doing it but since I have an axe to grind with Islam over Hazrat Asia, it suits me as well.

My Tharoorian politics offline are galvanising to the extent that I’m looking to do a podcast on Saturday to honour the brave Sikh martyrs of Jallianwali Bagh, who perished so that we would not be born as slaves.

We were slaves of the British and the constant attempts to justify the British Empire in India obscured the fact that the Rape of India is not “simply scar” but one of the great tragedies of mankind.

I’m not concerned with the Muslim invasions but I’m focussed on colonialism and Empire, which is essentially resource extraction away from the colonies towards the Mother Countries. Furthermore rather than indigenous cultural and political development it implemented political structures wholly unsuited towards their environment. Whatever the issues with Chinese communism; there is something to be said when a country develops its own identity and structure.

I’ll be doing a podcast on Saturday to mark the awful atrocity of JB and my shame as a Brown Briton that the United Kingdom keeps a tight-lipped silence over it.

Whatever my personal opinion of Jeremy Corbyn is, I admire his courage and insistence that Britain must apologise. It is my conclusion that the ghosts of Jallianwala Bagh have had their revenge in the current Brexit drama. To see these once proud Islands be throughly humiliated and abased by a continent they once strutted about will sate the ghosts of this proud Sikhs, warriors of our Subcontinent and defenders of our Precious Punjab (which was merciless torn by the British in a final revenge).

74 thoughts on “Jallianwala Bagh; 100 years on”

  1. Haven’t “we” taken over their steel industry and their historic capital? 🙂

    Why care about Apologies and Reparations then?

    1. The idea that someone we’ll steal a march with prosperity reminds me as to why Asians get stuck in middle Mgt.

      It’s a mix of brilliance and making those bold leaps. Demanding what belongs to you

      1. Xerxes, Asians are not “stuck in middle Mgt.”!

        Get with the times. 🙂 Asians are shooting it out of the park in leadership positions.

  2. I first saw Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi when I was six. The Jallianwallah Bagh scene confused my little brain to no end. I couldn’t compute how it was that Indian soldiers were the ones shooting at Indians. I still can’t.

    I had a recent conversation with some English colleagues about just how much of the Birtish Army was Indian (2.5 out of 4 million in WWII and around half during WWI). They were startled. Our complicity in our own colonization has been one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with intellectually and emotionally.

    1. What is astonishing is how whitewashed WW2 actually. It was India (Punjab) wot won the war!

      Yes Indian Civilisations has had many crevices (caste) that has allowed outsiders to invade it. It is time we present a united front.

      Urdu is the silver shimmering veil with which India displays its beauty; without it she is still alluring but less attractive.

      1. It was indeed India wot won the war. But you sound a touch like Major Amin when you hark only to Punjab. The Maratha Light Infantry played major roles in the Italian, North African and Mesopotamian theaters.

        “It is time we present a united front.”

        I couldn’t agree more. The question is how — a truly Indic `unity’ would be distinctly non-Westphalian and consistent with our inherent and irreducible pluralities.

      2. You canot be even half serious in saying that ‘ it was India wot won the war!’? WW1 and WW2 were titanic struggles of all the biggest economies and military powers of the world. India was a peripheral entity in both. Even China, which played a more important role in WW2, was not a critical player in WW2.

        1. The Indian Army during World War II was one of the largest Allied forces contingents which took part in the North and East African Campaign, Western Desert Campaign. At the height of the World War, more than 2.5 million Indian troops were fighting Axis forces around the globe.

          1. Would Britain have been able to win North Africa without Indian troops or secure her south eastern flank. In Britain there is a constant sense that Britain “won” the war for better or for worse; I’m simply restating that the a substantial plurality, if not majority, of Anglo-American Allied troops happened to be Indian.

          2. “I’m simply restating that the a substantial plurality, if not majority, of Anglo-American Allied troops happened to be Indian.” – and that is totally wrong.

            Again, you do not seem to have grasp over the numbers of military and civilian mobilizaton in WW2. India was but a tiny number. More than 15 milion Americans got drafted in the military. 22% of UK population were mobilized in the War effort.

    2. SP, your comment is unfair.

      India needed to stop the Axis WWI and WWII to save the world because it was the right thing to do.

      It was not in India’s interest that the English suddenly leave India. Rather India’s interest was that the English left gradually while focusing on surging Indian capacity, competence, merit, physical health, mental health, intelligence.

      1. AnAn — you seem to be implying that a particular side were the good guys in WWI and arguing Indians should have laid down their lives for them. Care to elaborate?

        With regards to WWII — I’m puzzled from whose perspective you’re arguing it was the right thing to do. Do you value European lives over Indian lives? If Indian soldiers never fought for the British, the empire would have ceased to be decades earlier. Not just in India, but all the other colonies too, for which Indian soldiers were the enforcers. Does the welfare and self respect of other colonial subjects not register in your thinking? Or do you think the empire was a good thing? I find the argument that India couldn’t have managed an earlier end to British rule to be deeply unimaginative to say the least (and insulting to the tenacity, resourcefulness and intelligence of the Indian people).

          1. Something that is not as widely appreciated as it should be — there was a fair deal of resentment among older generations of Chinese because of the role Indians played in their subjugation on behalf of their British masters.


            The moderately insulting phrase in Cantonese and Shanghainese for Indian is `ah san’, a reference to the Indian (mostly Sikh) officers the colonists used in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

            Literally, it means ah three/ Sir, since in Shanghainese the sound made when you pronounce Sir (san, as in Miyagi-san, same traditional Chinese character) and the number three (san in Shanghainese, saam in Cantonese). That way the Chinese could be outwardly deferential and backhandedly insulting, since some folks have it that the three refers to them being third class.

  3. I think I mentioned this earlier too in a previous post. Why don’t Indians demand apologies from Iran, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan for the massacres wrought by Nadir Shah, Abdali and Timur respectively. Why these double standards? What is at play here?

    You can argue it is simply the statute of limitations, but does it even apply to history?

      1. The point I was hinting at is that – may be subconsciously we think British can be shamed, but the other perpetrator nations are beyond shame. 🙂

    1. I don’t think Abdali belongs in this list.

      The worst massacres and destruction of libraries, universities, R&D centers, temples, happened pre Mughal. [Although Babur was no slouch.]

      Saurav makes excellent comments below. [Among other things Gorkha are as deshi as they come.]


      Xerxes, the English role in India is complex. Many SAARC people voluntarily allied with the English for many reasons. The English were not all bad.

      Wrote two posts on BP about English colonization. To summarize, I think we emphasize the wrong things related to the English imperial project.

      This massacre, horrible though it is, was not ordered by the senior Indian Army and Viceroy command. The focus should be on the many things the English messed up in India:
      —reducing India’s share of global GDP from about 30% in 1700 to 2% in 1947
      —not allowing merit based promotions in the Indian Army and civil service until the 1930s. In 1930 only 4% of senior postings were held by Indians.
      —low total factor productivity of English Indian institutions
      —bad Indian education system
      —colonizing the minds of Indians with inferiority complex to damage Indian self confidence; manipulating Indians to deconstruct and reject Indian culture and civilization; divide and conquer; promoting marxism, post modernism, fabian socialism big government license raj.

  4. ” I couldn’t compute how it was that Indian soldiers were the ones shooting at Indians. Our complicity in our own colonization has been one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with intellectually and emotionally.”

    This is because along with the many myths (that muslims in India didn;t want partition and all) we have woven , this has become a standard that “Indians” fought the Brits. No one asks the ethnicity of the people who were firing those bullets because its too inconvenient for the larger narrative.

    The Brits colonization is a convenient tool to hit them with because they dont fight back (too ashamed or they dont mostly care) . It also the least polarizing tool (no one will stand up for the brits) because deep down we all know every ethnicity/community was a willing participant of the colonization and we need to wash this sin by finding a convenient villain (ditto with partition )

    Thats why i dont really think much of the whole Churchill-Bengali famine thing or the Jalia wala bagh, because as long as its an ethnicity/community interest suited them they collaborated with the Brits to overwhelm other ethnicity/community, and only when they were passed on for “better” folks they suddenly woke and saw “colonization” now.

    1. Yes, it was not Indians firing on Indians but Gorkha soldiers firing on Punjabi civilians at Jallianwala. If Dyer was leading Punjabi troops you might have seen a different outcome.

      But what does this have to do with the Bengal famine ? Were some Indians snatching food from Bengali tribals ?

      1. Oh is it so? The gorkhas are perhaps some super alien tribe to the subcontinent right? Perhaps if some Sindhi group would have been firing in Jallianwala, than you would have said its Pakistani firing over Indians , and its not the same or something.

        And taking your example forward , the majority of Punjabi are Pakistani , so Jalia wala is a Pakistani tragedy more than an Indian tragedy. Why should rest of Indians care?

        In both cases (Bengal/Punjab) the point i was trying to make these very same ethnicity colluded (and got richly rewarded over other ethnicity) with the Brits . The 1857 revolt was put down by the Punjabi in the North. Before that the Bengali helped to kick start the British with its colonization project. So yeah , no community in India gets to lament on what British did to them, because guess what as long as you were getting the goodies you had no compulsion being their foot soldiers killing your own “supposed” brethen, so yeah you had it coming.

        1. Hmmm… seems like you misunderstood my point. The Gorkha/Punjabi example was brought up to agree with your point. Indian sensibilities then (and to a large extent now) were tied to local markers – predominantly language but also local religious traditions, caste etc. So yes, the Brits used this internal lack of unity effectively. (It is a serious thought experiment whether the Brits could have used Punjabis against Punjabis or Marathas against Marathas etc. I think they were afraid of trying such an experiment in any significant way.)

          But this narrative does not apply to the Bengal famine. This was a case of England screwing over a single population all by itself.

          1. “It is a serious thought experiment whether the Brits could have used Punjabis against Punjabis or Marathas against Marathas etc”

            Considering the partition ( Punjabi on Punjabi , Bengali on Bengali voilence ) and by and large how Indians are, I wouldn’t put it past us ,even something like shooting our own. (Battle of Koregaon. Marthis vs marathis )

    2. @Saurav

      “because deep down we all know every ethnicity/community was a willing participant of the colonization and we need to wash this sin by finding a convenient villain (ditto with partition )”

      Very thought provoking observation… depressing as hell.

  5. The examples you cite furnish interesting borderline cases – exceptions, that, on further scrutiny, may turn out to prove the rule.

    Take for instance, the battle of Koregaon. This was not ‘Marathas vs. Marathas’. Maratha is not a linguistic community so much as a caste. At Koregaon, Mahars fought Marathas (Peshwas actually, who are not of the Maratha caste). Mahars were traditionally not friends of the Brahmin Peshwas – and with good reason. The Peshwas were orthodox Brahmins that actively oppressed Dalits. This even caused rifts in the so-called Maratha confederacy (so-called because not all its constituents were strictly speaking Marathas by caste) and according to some, resulted in the defeat at Panipat.

    Indian communities were (and are) not always bound by language. Even neighbors may sometimes be divided by caste/religion etc.

    1. Oh bhai, you asked me an example of ethnicities can turn on themselves. I gave you an example of marathi ( Dalits ) vs Marathi ( Peshwas). Similar things could be “engineered” in Punjab as well. ( Muslim Punjabi shooting Sikh Punjabis or vice versa at jalia wala bagh ). But I agree it would be too much of a hassle and Brits took the easy way out and just stationed different ethnicity in different regions. But if push come to shove ( 1857 British Punjabi regiment quelling Punjab altogether ) neither the brits nor the Indians would think twice to use the force against their own people. ( operation bluestar actually had some high profile Hindus opting out the operation while as far as I remember no major Sikh opted out)

      1. Bhai (!), this is what I said: ” Indian sensibilities then (and to a large extent now) were tied to local markers – predominantly language but also *local religious traditions, caste etc.* ” [Emphasic added]

        And I don’t remember asking for any examples. You are making this a debating contest for reasons I can’t understand.

        The only disagreement is your original remark about how this inter-Indian rivalry has something to with the Bengal famine. Please expound on that 🙂

        1. LOL, my bad

          On the bengali thing, i am just sick of this whole churchill bashing on bengali famine thing. The British had no responsibility towards India, we were their slaves and that’s what masters do. We were there to be “managed” not taken care off. Churchill was the PM of UK not India, so yeah he made this decision than ” food reserves” for allied soldiers are worth more than bengali people’s life . Just to go and on on why Churchill is getting valorized and all, well no body is really asking Indian’s opinion on who should be the greatest brits of all time and all. The Brits can valorized whoever they want , and yes that includes Churchill. If the bengalis care so much perhaps they could look in the mirror themselves first and introspect their own forefathers collusion with the Brits in India at the first place. Because without the bengali there would not be an East Indian Company to begin with.

          1. The Churchill-bashing, and the Tharoorian polemics in general, are in response to the recent school of thought (by Niall, Andrew Roberts, and their like) that seeks to resurrect the notion of Britain being benevolent colonials, spreading goodness throughout the world and ridding the savages of their barbarism.

            On the other hand, no one pretends that Babur, or Timur, or Genghis Khan, were ever trying to do something nice for their targets, so people don’t really get worked up over them so much. Or, to put it in different words, they get bashed for doing things that their supporters and kinsmen valorize them for.

          2. Winston Churchill is the most responsible for the massive death of the Indians from the famine in 1943. He then said, “I hate the Indians. They are bestial people with a bestial religion. They are guilty of hunger because they breed like rabbits “.

          3. Yes, the polity of Bengal during mid-18th century abyssmaly failed to resist encroaching British imperial design. However, you can hardly blame Bengalis, the Bangla language speaking people of bengal, as complicit in British takeover. Bengal had been ruled and managed by many alien-language speaking elites for many centuries. Probably none of the big players in the Sirajuddaula-Clive-Mir Jafar-Mir Kassim era were Bangla speaking.

            Ironically, Bengali culture and Bengali cultural conciousness took off when the British started formal higher education and reasearch in Bengal/Calcutta.

          4. There is a difference between European colonialism and pre-modern dynasties in India like the Mughals. I know that Hindutva types like to conflate the two, but this is fundamentally wrong.

            Colonialism is defined by the colonizer using the resources of the colony for the benefit of the home country. The Mughals didn’t use India’s resources for the benefit of Samarkand. They lost one kingdom and went in search of another (quite normal in pre-modern times). Later generations intermarried and were genetically “Indians”. The only reason why they are not accepted in today’s India is because they were not Hindu. This “one thousand years of occupation” may make for good rhetoric but it doesn’t make sense.

            Of course the British were not benevolent or “spreading goodness”. All empires are run fundamentally in the interest of the home country not the “natives”.

  6. O Shahenshah, you seem to be implying in your post that all the victims were Sikhs. I don’t think that is very accurate.

    I found a listing of the victims here

    I don’t know how reliable the list is, but it somehow feels authentic. Going by this list, the biggest proportion of the victims seems to be Hindus (judging by the preponderance of names with words like Ram, and large number of people of Khatri caste).
    There seem to be a a fair sprinkling of Muslims too (about 10-15%), but that still appears lower than their proportion of population in pre-partition Amritsar (~= 50%).

    Also, I spotted just one female name in the list (at spot 207).

    Let everybody draw their conclusions from this list FWIW.

  7. Xerxie, does your ‘Tharoorian politics’ means that you have similar political opinion re English colonialism in India with Shashi? I wrote few times here about English colonialism and I was discretely suggesting you guys to get organised and to be more active. I also volunteered to make the first draft of some document requiring from British government, Parliament and B.Palace the recognition of genocides conducted by English. You do not need apology from the most hypocritical people in the world because it would mean nothing.

    However, Shashi says that England is responsible for 35 million deaths in India. My data is that for 185 years of their ruling, English are responsible for 85 million of starved and killed.

    This link I published before says exactly this:

    It was similar in China:

    After the victory of England in the ‘opium’ war and the capitulation of China, “perfidious Albion” has become the world’s largest regular and legal drugs exporter. And in China, more than ten percent of the population (about 40 million) were deeply dependent on drugs. It was estimated that 90 percent of men under the age of 40 in the coastal area of China were complete drug addicts. Almost the whole one nation has been turned by the British into narcotism, what is the worst genocide!

    And the end of the narco-mafia’s power in China only happened in 1949 after the communists came to power. They shot all drug dealers and burned the poppy plantations. While British Prime Minister David Cameron somehow acknowledged the Indians in 2011, “Britain’s responsibility for the conflicts that had occurred in Kashmir in 1947 between India and Pakistan”, Britain has yet to apologise to China for the horrific crimes and millions of dead.

    1. PS: (an excerpt from the above link re Jallianwala Bagh):

      “Men, women and children of Amritsar gathered in Jalianwali Park (surrounded by walls) to raise their voice over hunger, lack of work and oppression by the British. The English suddenly blocked all the entrances to the park and opened fire on the Indians from all their available weapons. In ten minutes of continuous fire, they killed a thousand and injured another 1,100 people. About 100 women and children tried to save themselves by descending into the central well, but all drowned.

      And the commander who issued the order to shoot -Reginald Dyer – was praised for this feat! The British public then collected 26,000 pounds for him (equivalent to one million dollars today) with the slogan “Gratitude to the man who saved India.”

    2. Indeed, the British East India Company are the original Narco-Terrorists. The Chinese didn’t want any of the substandard crap the British were trying to hawk off to them* so they got them (disproportionately the Cantonese) hooked on Opium instead so they could have something to trade.

      Here again, there is a degree of Indian complicity. Most of that opium was grown in Bihar and Bengal. The British couldn’t get the Indians hooked on it, so they sold it on to the Chinese instead. The main protagonist (whose shipment of opium was seized, and whose political connections helped sway parliament in favor of military intervention on behalf of the East India Company) was one David Sassoon — a prominent Baghdadi Jewish trader based out of Bombay — he of Sassoon docks. That’s how Hong Kong became British.

      * same with India until Britain systematically dismantled native production lines (textiles, shipbuilding etc) that were highly competitive on the global market until then.

      1. When the Rothschild family (the banking Jewish family then in the service of the Vatican) came to the majority of East-Indian companies in the 19th century, it took full control over opium trade with China.

        American merchant and shipowner John Jacob Astor was their partner at the end of the 19th century and was given the job of transporting opium in China. His ships embarked on mercury, iron and steel in the United States and Western Europe, and travelled via Gibraltar to Turkey, where they then disembarked, and filled the ships with opium in Smyrna and then drove to China.

        When an emissary of the emperor in 1839 arrested 350 drug smugglers, mostly British, and managed to discover and destroy large opium stores in the port of Canton (20,000 boxes of Indian opium), and when he closed 13 other opium factories among smugglers-dealers and representatives of the British Crown, panic both in India and in Britain itself.

        The British government immediately announces the war to China so that it can freely sell drugs to the Chinese. A wartime naval expedition was sent to China with 40 ships and thousands of marines. They brutally attacked the Chinese maritime towns, ports, and the army, and conquered Hong Kong, the port of Canton, and the mouths of Pearl River and the Yangtze River. They even captured Shanghai.

        Fantastically high profits from the sale of drugs have floundered since then in the British nobility’s cash register. And torture, death, and misery have dominated China.

  8. // the Rape of India is not “simply scar” but one of the great tragedies of mankind //

    Very Tharoorian indeed!

    I like to be a contrarian shit-stirrer at times, so in that spirit I will say this: maybe Indians in Tharoor’s mould need to be a bit less normative of the British colonial period. Or at least as normative as they are of previous periods in Indian history.

    PS: My own personal experience of growing up was not with any negativity towards the Brits at all. My grand dad even met Marc Aurel Stein, visiting his mother’s original home in Manigam in his late teens. Grew up with nothing but dollops of admiration for the British – which he passed on to me. Perhaps he just met the good ones 🙂

    1. I have no idea who Marc is but interesting there is another Hungarian Jew with strong connections to Kashmiri Pandora (she married into the Nehru clan).

      Ur admiration for the British must be part of ur Mughlai heritage; Pakistanis Pre 9-11 were/are hyper Anglophiliac

  9. Hindus must deal with caste and Muslims must deal with their shitty religion. Simples! – awesome statement.

    I think we need to give time for the wounds to heal, be it a wound inflicted by invading islamists or invading jesus freaks. If you keep on scratching the wounds they will get infected. If our peoples were not so gullible and short sighted, things like this wouldn’t have happened first of all. Don’t get me wrong, I am not asking you to forget but just forgive!!

  10. @Kabir
    “Later generations intermarried and were genetically “Indians”.

    Kabir, I know where you are coming from, and you probably mean well. This “Mughals as domiciled Indian” point of view of is common among left liberal circles in the subcontinent. Unfortunately the cold fact is that Mughals remained foreigner to India till the very end.

    Mughals spoke Chughtai Turkish in private till late into 1700s, and spoke Persian in public. All their cultural reference points were Middle Eastern and Central Asian.

    I would encourage you to read “Anecdotes of Aurangzeb”, of which you can get a free copy on the Internet. It presents a vivid picture of day to day life of Aurangzeb. Apparently Aurangzeb was wont to pepper his letters with couplets. All his couplets were from Persian verses. The theme is entirely Abrahmaic (lot’s of reference to old testament prophets like Noah and Jacob etc, not a single mention of Indian mythological figures; not even a denigrating one. It is obvious that he was completely oblivious to any aspect of Indian culture).

    We know all about Mughals’ ancestry, and everybody knows Shah Jahan was 3 quarters Indian and all that, but how does it matter? What matters is that culturally they identified with Iran and Turan. They identified themselves first and foremost as Timurids. In some ways they were like the Anglo Indian communities. Indian in blood but fancying themselves as British diaspora in India.

    There monuments are just the replicas of monuments of Isfahan and Shiraz. They even hired middle eastern architects for their monuments ( e.g. Taj Mahal).

    It will be quite a stretch of imagination to call Mughals Indians.

      1. Is Indian culture a Turkish/Persian construct then ? As they say in India “na jaan na pehchaan, main tera mehmaan”. 🙂

    1. “Mughals spoke Chagatai Turkish privately”

      Nobody spoke Chagatai Turkic after the second Mughal Emperor (Humayun). Persian, Urdu, and Punjabi, in that order, were the most frequently spoken languages by the Mughals for most of their existence.

      “Aurungzeb used Persian”
      So did many Hindus during the period. It was the English of its time.

      “No references to Indian culture”
      I think you mean Hindu culture, as the Mughals were major patrons and participants of Indian-Sufi shrines. A few (thought not all) emperors even participated in Hindu rituals and celebrations, and theological discussions with Brahmans were common.

      “There monuments are just Middle-Eastern”
      This is outside my knowledge base (and far outside yours), but i’ll just say that Mughal art is considered its own thing by art-historians and never classified as simple Middle-Eastern copies.

      “The Mughals were considered foreigners till the end”
      Right, which is why Northern-Indian Muslims and Hindus united to overthrow the British and install the, “rightful emperor of India”, the Mughals as late as the 19th century.

        1. I’ve never heard of the Dynasty speaking Punjabi. But Bahadur Shah Zafar is supposed to have written poetry in Urdu.

          INDTHINGS makes a very good point. As late as 1857, Bahadur Shah Zafar was considered by many Indians to be the rightful emperor of India. So clearly the people living at that time didn’t consider the Dynasty to be foreign, no matter what Hindutvadis think.

          This conflation of Indian culture with Hindu culture is very problematic.

          1. This conflation of Indian culture with Hindu culture is very problematic.

            what the fuck does that mean? say what you mean. don’t use weasel words like ‘problematic’ or ‘fraught’

          2. I mean that some people on this blog (and Hindutvadis more generally) seem to believe that Indian= Hindu. I believe that this doesn’t make sense for two main reasons. 1) Indian is a nationality while Hindu is a religion. They are not the same. 2) Indo-Islamic culture (represented by the Mughals) is also very much part of Indian culture. Denying this fact leads to the “otherization” of Indian Muslims and to a very narrow view of the country’s identity.

        2. “In his youth Zafar (last Mughal Emperor) was a good example of the sort of rounded renaissance man Mughal education sought to produce; fluent in Urdu, Arabic, and Persian, but had also mastered Braj Basha and Punjabi sufficiently…” Dalrymple, The Last Mughal

          I don’t have a reference off hand, but Akbar was also said to have spoken Punjabi.

          Every single emperor except perhaps Babur spoke Urdu.

      1. So did many Hindus during the period. It was the English of its time.

        this is a good analogy. persian was used for poetry in anatolia too. but it illustrates the integration of the islamicate high culture with the broader islamic world. the end of that world in the 18th century resulted in persian fading out.

        mozarabs spoke arabic but were christian. but arabic speach faded with the collapse of the islamic order.

    2. The Mughals used to celebrate Holi and Diwali. Hindustani classical music developed at their courts.

      Once you admit that the later Mughals were half Rajput by ancestry, it is difficult to deny that they were “Indian” (“India” as a nation state didn’t exist at the time. What existed was Hindustan.)

      The real problem that Hindutva types have with the Dynasty is that they were not Hindu. “Indian” does not equal “Hindu” despite what some of you believe.

      1. The real problem that Hindutva types have with the Dynasty is that they were not Hindu.

        Not really. The main beef people (Hindutva or otherwise) have with various pre-British Muslim rulers is that they treated Hindus as targets for plunder, or second-class subjects, less privileged than Muslims. Most disdained Hinduism. There were exceptions (Akbar in his later reign was one), but surely you can’t contend that most of these folks ruled benevolently over Hindus? And I’m not just talking about the rulers themselves. Wasn’t there a strong sense of being foreign (and therefore superior) among the Muslim elite right up until Partition (a strain that seems to thrive in Pakistan today)? Even back in the 18th century, wasn’t there this proto-Wahhabi cleric who solicited Abdali’s invasion of India? What kind of “Indian” asks foreigners to invade their country?

        (Caveat: I have a generally positive or neutral view of the Mughals. Except for Aurangzeb and the guy who succumbed to Nadir Shah.)

        1. I can almost hear the violin in the background.

          In the pre-modern era, the strong plundered the weak. Hindus were weak, so they were plundered by Muslims. Strong Muslims plundered weak Muslims. The Mongols plundered everyone. The Marathas, during their glory days, plundered other Hindus (inflicting massacres that rival anything done by Muslims).

          Many peoples during this period suffered far worse atrocities than the (largely imagined) atrocities suffered by Hindus at the hands of Muslims. They (unlike Indians) generally aren’t stuck wallowing in events that happened centuries ago, and use it to justify their intolerance today.

          “They treated Hindus like second-class citizens”.

          Kind of but not really. In the sense that there could never be a Hindu Emperor, and that being Muslim increased your chances of promotion, sure. Rebellious Hindus were certainly treated harsher than Muslims. But then, this is all true for modern-India visa-vis Muslims as well.

          “What kind of Indian asks foreigners to invade their country?”

          The Marathas begged the British to invade Mysore. The Rajputs were indifferent to Afghan destruction of the Marathas. The entire regime of British-India was propped up by various Indian groups not giving a shit about conquering their neighbors in the name of the queen, if it meant even a modest payoff for them.

        2. There were many Hindus in important positions within the Mughal court. Raja Man Singh and Raja Todar Mal immediately come to mind.

          It is too simplistic to argue that the Mughals treated Hindus as “targets for plunder”. They realized that they could not rule successfully without coopting local dynasties. Hence, the intermarrying with the Rajputs. Also, if they “disdained Hinduism” , why would they celebrate Holi and Diwali (as attested in several court paintings)? Indo-Islamic culture is a syncretic mix of Hindu and Muslim elements.

          As for “ruling benevolently over Hindus”, it is an open question how much the Mughal courts influenced life in the villages where by and large Hindus continued living just as they always had.

          The Muslim elite’s claims of “foreign ancestry” had more to do with Pre-Partition politics than with any kind of historical facts. As for Pakistanis, the vast majority are native to the land.

          The bottom line is that Mughal rule was not the same as British colonialism. “One thousand years of occupation” comes from an ideological place and doesn’t reflect scholarly history.

  11. The Marathas, during their glory days, plundered other Hindus (inflicting massacres that rival anything done by Muslims).

    Name one town that was subjected to a general massacre by any Maratha army.

    You know you are bullshitting, right? Wholesale massacres of towns was a feature of Turco-Mongol armies. Hindu armies never indulged in gratuitous bloodletting. Marathas were notorious for plunder and I will concede that point without contesting. However you can’t hoodwink the readers of this blog by inventing false moral equivalence. I again urge you to read beyond Urdu medium government history books to widen your horizon.

    Even the most “enlightened” of the Mughal emperor Akbar sullied his hands by the wholesale slaughter of the town of Chittorgarh after its capture (30 thousand souls in all). Go google it. Then try finding any Hindu king who indulged in Qatl-e-Aam style general massacre. You won’t find any.

  12. The Marathas devastated Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa, during their invasion of the Bengal Sultanate. There were hundreds of thousands of casualties (mostly Hindu peasantry), mass rapes, and the general ruin of any prosperity previously enjoyed in East-India. As one Bengali poet observed, not even the Brahmans were spared.

    Also, I’m not sure if I’ve said before, but I’m American born and raised (3rd generation), half-Pakistani by ancestry. I’ve never seen a Pakistani book, I can’t read Urdu. All my info is from Western-English sources.

    I’ve noticed Indians do this a lot. When exposed to information outside of the Indian bubble, they reflexively assume its Pakistani propaganda. This was seen during the recent Pak-India standoff, where virtually all the information coming in that rubbished Indian-claims was from Western-sources, yet Indians frequently tried to dismiss it as Pakistani rumor (even going as far as to flood these Western-twitter accounts with accusations of being ISI agents).

    1. I am no fan of the Marathas (as anyone who has read my comments on BP know). The Marathas stole from others. But you seriously overstate your case. Don’t want to debate you on it.

      “Also, I’m not sure if I’ve said before, but I’m American born and raised (3rd generation), half-Pakistani by ancestry. I’ve never seen a Pakistani book, I can’t read Urdu. All my info is from Western-English sources.”

      Your comments come across as more post modernist than Islamist.

      Be curious to learn your perspectives on other issues.

      What do you think about the Ghani government of Afghanistan and the Afghan National Security Forces?

      What do you think about the Libyan government and security forces?

      El-Sisi’s government and army?




      The Iraqi government and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)?

      the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian National Security Forces (NSF)

      Lebanese government and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)

      Algerian government and army?

      Tunisian government and army?

      What do you think of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Harbi Tlaib? Are you concerned that they might have islamist sympathies deep down?

      What do you think about Keith Ellison? [I have long been a fan.]
      What do you think about Kareem Abdul Jabbar [I have long been a fan.]
      What do you think about Maajid Nawaz [Love me some Maajid Nawaz.]

      What are your thoughts on some of my favorite Sufis? [Moinuddin Chisti, Nund Rishi, Mian Mir Jahanara Begum, Dara Shikoh, Janardan Swami, Shirdi Sai Baba]

      1. AnAn,

        Don’t have a strong opinion on most of this. I am much more sympathetic to the Qatar/Iran/Turkey axis than the Egypt/Saudi/UAE one. Somewhat pro Ilhan Omar. Somewhat anti Majid Nawaz.


        White on my mother’s side

        1. The Ottomans and the Persians are not allied in reality. Most global media writers know almost nothing.

          Personally I am a fan of Erdogan, but perhaps for different reasons. I support the Iranian greens and Mohammad Javad Zarif. Many of the Marjas in Quom are far more mystical and open than outsiders think.

          Don’t want to elaborate on this thread though.

          Why don’t you back Maajid Nawaz the way I do? What is not to love about Maajid?

          Why would you be pro Ilhan Omar? Might she back Islamists against moderate muslims?

          What are your thoughts on Sufis such as Moinuddin Chisti, Nund Rishi, Mian Mir Jahanara Begum, Dara Shikoh, Janardan Swami, Shirdi Sai Baba, Rumi, Mansur Al-Hallaj, Fariduddin Ganjshakar? If you don’t know who these particular Sufis are, what are your thoughts on Sufism?

          1. Turkey and Iran dislike each other but are by circumstance aligned against Israel/Saudi/Egypt/UAE.

            Maajid doesn’t seem authentic, keeps the company of the alt right.

            Ilhan hasn’t done anything that would lead me to believe she is supporting radical Islamists. Most Islamist organizations globally are benign however, so I have no issue if she supports those.

            No position on Sufis, I know little about them


    I can almost hear the violin in the background.

    In the pre-modern era, the strong plundered the weak.

    Discourse seems to be getting harder on these forums, with misunderstandings becoming the norm these days. Like in this case, I was responding to a specific claim made by Kabir (who is usually on your side, ideology-wise, but is often less strident and less sweeping in his claims.) But you made it out to be, and responded to, something quite different.

    No one is arguing about how things worked in the pre-modern era. But you can’t blame the descendants of the “weak” for omitting to celebrate the “strong” who once plundered them and lorded over them. Especially when the weak largely still remain weak, and culturally (and in our case, nationally) distinct from the people who claim to descend from the strong.

    Unlike what you think, most of us came to terms with our history a long time ago (the current troubles are based on modern-day disputes between India and Pakistan, and are not rooted in history.) But revisionist history, whether of the kind you espouse (I know you aren’t the source of that history, but you do tend to absorb one particular school and reject others) or of the British colonial apologist kind, will invite responses of the Hindutva and Tharoorian types respectively.

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