Keep your biases in check

I’m going to start moderating the incessant Indo-Pak Flame Wars on the threads since we have much better things to talk about.

I only am interesting in value added comments like INDThings contention that “Jinnah made ridiculous demands he knew Congress couldn’t accept.” It’s an interesting line because Ayesha Jalal assures us that Pak was the last option for QeA so I want to flesh it out.

Even though I would usually blame Team Pakistan for this but I would also ask our Indian commentators to think twice:

“P.S. A more wiser man than me who just happened to write the constitution of India remarked that partition is god”s gift to India“

To quote Ambedkar and somehow claim that Partition was incomplete simply because India was not emptied of her Muslim population is not only untrue but goes against the morality.

I am probably the most vociferous voice against Islam and Pakistan on this blog however at my root I must be just (O Son of Spirit).

India went out of her way to annex Muslim majority Kashmir even though there was precedent otherwise (Hyderabad, Junadagh) etc.

If India was so interested in keeping those “filthy Muslims out” then why on earth did she go for the Valley, which has immense strategic significance for Pakistan and the Indus Valley (the Punjab rivers are of minor significance to India while the Indus is the Ganges of Pakistan).

Now I really couldn’t give a shit but this whole idea that somehow India is the morally perfect agent and Pakistan is a North Korea is equally as bullshit and a lie as that Islam is a religion of peace.

I’m an iconoclast as well as a bit of an anarcho-libertarian. I love smashing structure, whether built by man or God, because that’s how we get to the truth.

I’m a firm believer in the motto of Iranian.com; Nothing is Sacred (of course I have my own biases like everyone else) . I just think abuse on a individual level is unacceptable. Furthermore I think abuse of what is immutable is in poor taste; to my mind calling the quarter black Royal Baby a monkey is offensive at a human level in a way calling Muhammad a pedo is not.

I just would advise all people who come to comment on Brown Pundits is to check your biases and not seek confirmation of one’s views but rather education.

Yes I am somewhat biased that I shit on Muhammad on a daily basis whereas I would not allow such comments against the deities of other Faiths. However  I have my reasons for that because as a half-Pakistani and half-Iranian I have some my homelands basically wrecked, ruined and destroyed by Islam. I have a gripe against a religion, which insists on absolutism and perfection. Baha’i Faith does the same but for now its powerless and has no real influence on society.

No intelligent Hindu will defend caste directly, they will at least condemn the concept. However highly intelligent Muslims will still believe that Muhammad, for all his flaws, was the perfect man and that every word of the Quran must be followed. They may not do so in real life but that cognitive dissonance is especially acute in the Muslim world.

This is why I find Kabir’s self-styled mission to “balance Brown Pundits” extremely suspect; I will be now moderating more intensely that since I’m not interested in the exactitude of the Indo-Pak conflict.

The 3 founders of BP all hail from some sort of Muslim background. We are pushing the paradigm of thought in certain matters pertaining to Pakistan and Islam (among other things). I do not want to be constantly censured or scolded like a little child when I am ranting about Pakistan.

I see it as a huge achievement (thanks in part to Kabir) that I’ve been able to normalise the abuse of Islam and Muhammad on this blog.  In fact I don’t think I would have even persisted in the abuse (I may have initially just vented that one time) but every time Kabir admonished me for abusing Muhammad; it made me want to find more interesting ways to continue on the vein.

However I want to move on beyond that now. So my warning to all; if you engage in needless commentary “about your side”, which is not value-additive or informative then it might vanish into the ether.

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31 Replies to “Keep your biases in check”

  1. Good on you for cracking the whip!

    Sorry for my recent spam; I’m going to take a timeout from commenting here. I need to devote attention to my day job anyway; lots of work to do there, millions of dollars at stake.

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  2. This is why I find Kabir’s self-styled mission to “balance Brown Pundits” extremely suspect;”

    I’ve been confused about what exactly Kabir is balancing…according to the reader poll, there are about twice as many people skeptical or hostile to Hindu nationalism than sympathetic to it. If Kabir wanted to “balance Brown Pundits,” perhaps he should be saying “MANDIR WAHI BANAYENGE” lol.

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    1. While readers may not be Hindu nationalists, the commentary is certainly not pro- Islam. Neither can it be said to be pro-Pakistan. People have actually defended ethnic cleansing (or population transfer if you want to use nicer words) which should be completely beyond the pale of decent discourse.

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  3. No intelligent Hindu will defend caste. Really? There have been plenty of defenses of caste on this blog. I don’t need to take names. You know what I’m talking about.
    Constantly insulting the Prophet of God is not “pushing the paradigm of thought”. It’s merely giving a platform to bigotry.
    I’d be happy to leave you to debate about the Aryans but if you attack my country or my religion, I will reserve the right to respond.

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  4. “No intelligent Hindu will defend caste directly, they will at least condemn the concept.”

    Right. I don’t think anyone is happy with the excesses of casteism. The most I’ve seen ventured as a “defense” is the caste provides a countervailing identity against ethno-linguistic or communist radicals (which is a fair point, though I don’t think it’s universally valid…certainly not in the case of Tamil Nadu.)

    Ironically, one reason the communist leaders failed is because they didn’t check their Brahmin privilege!

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    1. Have you seen Anan’s comments? Some pretty interesting (and long-winded) defenses of the caste system there. Also, I recall all the attacks on Sujatha Gidla when her book was being discussed.
      It seems people are not interested in examing the ills of their own societies because only “cultural marxists” criticize Hinduism. Much easier to just criticize Islam.

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      1. No offense to Anan, but he writes walls of texts, and tbh I just skim through them.

        Anyways, I read through Gidla’s interview on Marginal Revolution, she seems like just another partisan hack regurgitating the old cliches. For example:

        “That is all Hinduism is about. Shorn of mysticism, it’s a prop for caste system.”

        This is a common trope in Dalit radical circles, but it’s one that tells you more about them than about Hinduism. I would refer them to Dr. Long’s writings on Hinduism (he is more well-versed in Hinduism than 99.9% of brown people hahaha.)

        She even misquoted what one of her critics (on Marginal Revolution) posted when I went back to check it.

        Intellectually attacking figures like Gidla is certainly warranted, not to defend caste, but because they single out Hinduism to be an object of vitriol.

        “It seems people are not interested in examing [sic] the ills of their own societies”

        I complain about India and Hinduism fairly frequently tbh, on everything from water tables to gender ratios. But I do so as an internal critic that keeps things in perspective and reason. My experience is that most external critics of India and Hinduism attack them in bad faith, with a goal to draw invidious and unwarranted comparisons between Indian and other societies, or just to score culture war points.

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          1. Read through some of the thread, I disagree with parts, but I don’t think a lot of the arguments are shocking or bizarre.

            Social stratification and endogamy are totally fine in themselves. They may lead to bad sequelae (I think in India, they HAVE led to bad sequelae), but some people don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and that’s fine with me.

            For what it’s worth, I think caste as we know it is not going to survive modernity (and that’s fine!), though it will likely be reconstituted to some degree, as “programmers and financiers” becomes the new “Brahmin.”

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        1. No offense to Anan, but he writes walls of texts, and tbh I just skim through them.

          this is an issue with very long comments in the generality unfortunately.

          for comments sections more ppl will listen to what you have to say if you’re concise. the only exception is when there a back and forth dialogue between two individuals, and that is really a two-way two conversation

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  5. “If India was so interested in keeping those “filthy Muslims out” then why on earth did she go for the Valley, which has immense strategic significance for Pakistan and the Indus Valley (the Punjab rivers are of minor significance to India while the Indus is the Ganges of Pakistan).”

    I don’t want to get into the endless flame wars especially w.r.t “What happened in Kashmir in 1948”, but there was one statement which I felt was overstated.

    India did not really explicitly “go for the Valley” alone – the state of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh together was legally inseparable, as also 30-35% non-Muslim , with Jammu and Ladakh subregions being 60%-70% + Hindu/Buddhist , and there was no way of safeguarding this population other than legally incorporating Jammu & Kashmir in its entirety through the instrument of accession. India did not push so much for accession of the state till the successful incursion by the non-state actors / Pashtun tribal irregulars, and at that point it was a “fait accompli” .

    India was aware at some level of the stupidity of annexing entire regions whose population were hostile to it, and restricted its pushback to what is now the LOC, rather than going for the regions even north of it [There were surely many other factors, including climate-related and pragmatic involved in it, but that was one of the considerations]. Given what happened to the Hindu and Sikh minority populations of the Pakistan-annexed regions of J&K , India’s annexation of J&K was imperative to protect the well-being of these subregions and their populations.

    Its also worthwhile to mention that the part of the Valley annexed [beyond just Jammu and Ladakh] had at that time a popular leadership that was split in opinion but dominated by a mildly pro-India stance of the National Conference and its leader Sheikh Abdullah. Moreover, it was not possible pragmatically to solely annex Jammu and Ladakh [leaving aside the legality] since they would be militarily indefensible and geographically disparate.

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    1. India’s justification for holding on to Kashmir is that as a “secular” country there is no reason why it cannot have a Muslim-majority state as part of the union. If people are talking about population transfer and getting rid of all the Muslims this justification entirely falls apart.

      India didn’t believe in the Two Nation Theory. It’s interesting that Hindutvadis agree with Islamists that the TNT is valid.

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    2. This is the standard myth imbibed by Indians regarding Kashmir, I’ll highlight the dumbest bits.

      – Making unironic references to “legality of accession” while ignoring that India illegally invaded Hyderabad and Junagadh states for refusing to accede to India.

      – Acting as if India has some right to annex Muslim-majority land to safeguard minorities. Why then, do they not annex all of Pakistan? Or should Pakistan annex UP to safeguard Indian Muslims?

      – Ignoring that the Pashtun irregulars only crossed into Kashmir in response to Jammu Hindus/Sikhs ethnically cleansing 200,000 Muslims unprovoked, the survivors spilling into Pathan tribal areas in Pakistan pleading for help.

      – Also ignoring that the massacres of Hindus/Sikhs in J&K were far less and in direct response to the earlier, unprovoked massacres of Muslims in Jammu (in contrast to the Punjab riots which arose from both sides spontaneously).

      – Acting like India stopped at the LoC for some noble/strategic reason. They stopped for the same reason Pakistan stopped, they couldn’t press further.

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  6. Well well 😛

    “To quote Ambedkar and somehow claim that Partition was incomplete simply because India was not emptied of her Muslim population is not only untrue but goes against the morality.”

    The partition being incomplete and Ambedkar quote are separate things. The first one is my view , the other is Ambedkar assertion on the partition as a whole not specifically on population transfer. But yes, Ambedkar did believe in pop transfer which along with his other politically incorrect views of the time (Dalits getting equal rights) , makes him the visionary he was.

    On morality, if i could (have) saved the lifes of million of people from being butchered with better pops transfer which would result in two more homogeneous and mentally at ease countries. , and be accused of being immoral and political incorrect , then guess what i could live with that.

    “If India was so interested in keeping those “filthy Muslims out” then why on earth did she go for the Valley, which has immense strategic significance for Pakistan”

    Because we don’t live in a perfect world. India tried to get Kashmir because it can , and had it not got Kashmir , i doubt anyone would have lost any sleep on it. India stance on Kashmir of not giving it up now has nothing to do with TNT or Indian secularism or whatever, but just like every modern country of not giving up any territory without a fight(just like Pakistan in Bangladesh) .

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  7. @H.M.

    It’s a long comment thread, so perhaps you missed the obvious screamers further down. One could certainly look to argue for social hierarchies as being intrinsically worthy or inevitable*, but one should at least be intellectually consistent in argumentation and not spout complete nonsense — just scroll down for the comments on disease burden, and knowledge hoarding. If you can’t see through how dumb, made up, or unaware of their questionable priors some of the comments are, then I’ll ask you to read again with a critical (and not defensive) eye, or just read further down for my responses.

    * I disagree to a large extent, but am also not one to engage in false dichotomies. However, if on the other hand you’re arguing for the benefits or inevitability of fixed hereditary (and not meritocratic) social hierarchies, then you’re clearly arguing from the perspective of someone at the top. How would you feel the same if you were at the bottom of this hierarchy? i.e. check your priors. For the record, the caste system has privileged the hell out of me too.

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    1. “just scroll down for the comments on disease burden, and knowledge hoarding.”

      Right, I read those comments, I think they’re dumb.

      On the other hand, I think that in their own way, they are trying to answer a valid question: why did South Asia develop a system of (generally) stratified endogamy like virtually nowhere else? Dr. Khan probably knows much more about this than I do.

      But in any case, those comments are no stupider than some arguments Jared Diamond ventured about comparative history (and was lauded for).

      “social hierarchies as being intrinsically worthy or inevitable”

      Well they ARE inevitable, but I don’t think they are inherently worthy or unworthy. The leftist position is that hierarchy is inherently unjust. The conservative position (which I hold) is to be fine with hierarchies, while acknowledging that they can be deleterious (and I think caste does have several deleterious excesses).

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      1. As an aside, I will say that growing up in America in overwhelmingly White and Hispanic cities means I do not get to enjoy my caste privilege…I’d be astonished if many people even knew what a Brahmin was, let alone being able to identify me as one, let alone treating me favorably because of it.

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        1. It’s an interesting aside, but to me it seems like you may have inadvertently touched upon the most salient thing about privilege — it’s like health. You only notice when you don’t have it.

          You’re writing from the US, meaning that (given how stringent immigration requirements were 20+ years ago for Indians) your parents are very well educated. These are both very non-trivial head starts in life for you. Also, I presume you’re healthy and not stunted. Do you realize the proportion of brown folks who can’t claim that? There’s many more things I could list, but let me just bring up one of the most important ones: you’ve been brought up with a mythology of success (you’re a TamBrahm? This means you’ve grown up with a core belief that you are smart, from smart people, and can and are expected accomplish great things if you put your mind to it). A lot of folks don’t have that, quite the opposite actually. I’d say this illustrates a small part of what privilege is: in the stochastic shit show that is life, probabilities have been tilted in your favor by power structures both implicit and explicit.

          Perhaps it might further the discussion if I were to share how I perceive it works for me in that same aspect: the fire in my belly — my own mythology of success — which comes from being from the particular place I’m from, that has propelled me through life (and I’m doing quite alright). I see it for what it is, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten to where I am if I were born a woman, or not a forward caste Marathi person, descended from landed farmers who’ve eaten well for at least three generations, meaning that it’s possible for me to be 6ft4, assertive, and project enough entitlement that the world basically treats me like a white man (in every European or North American country I’ve lived in). Also, because of our rural Marathi forward caste background, all the women of my jati went to university from the 60’s onwards (Phule’s legacy). You can imagine what this has implied for the generation they reared.

          I did nothing for this — a large part of it is because of decisions made by my parents (who are not particularly academically inclined), their parents, and long dead ancestors I’ll never meet. I’m eternally grateful to them, for the privileges that have served me so well. For me to claim that no-one has accorded me any advantages for being from my caste background in the western countries I’ve lived in (nor evidently in India, which is why my lot are Shiv Sena’s core constituency) is to me, missing the point. I am privileged as fuck, and my caste background has everything to do with it.

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          1. All right, you’ve brought up a lot of things here, I’ll respond point by point (I read your other post, I’ll respond to it later as well).

            “You’re writing from the US, meaning that, your parents are very well educated. These are both very non-trivial head starts in life for you.”

            I agree, but what this details is the privilege that accrues to us for being modern First-Worlders. There’s nothing specifically Brahmin about it.

            “but let me just bring up one of the most important ones: you’ve been brought up with a mythology of success”

            So I’m a UP Brahmin, not a Tamil Brahmin…we’re a lesser breed compared to our distant relatives down south, I’ve heard. But anyways, the point I want to make is that being a Brahmin isn’t salient in America. In fact, I didn’t even know I was a Brahmin until my early teens, and I was (and was viewed as) “smart” long before that.

            Even after I learned about that, I never felt good about being a Brahmin (what’s there to feel good about if your Indian peers are all Brahmins and Baniyas?).

            I just felt bad about being Indian, and wished I had been White (I finally got over it in my early 20s).

            “and can and are expected [to] accomplish great things if you put your mind to it”

            This is a double-edged sword, because the expectations are a lot higher. I have friends whose parents were thrilled that they graduated college. For us, nobody cares that you graduate college. Nobody cares if you start residency, because the kid next door is in a cardiology fellowship (two doors down, in my case.)

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  8. “Well they ARE inevitable, but I don’t think they are inherently worthy or unworthy. The leftist position is that hierarchy is inherently unjust. The conservative position (which I hold) is to be fine with hierarchies, while acknowledging that they can be deleterious (and I think caste does have several deleterious excesses). ”

    Perfect, progress is possible when we’re mindful of our priors and aware of their limits. Personally, although my intellectual background leans more left, I’ve always had trouble identifying as one for the simple reason that although a certain lens maybe be useful for diagnosis, it needn’t be for the prognosis or cure (as in “Marx, right about capitalism, wrong about communism”), especially when applied to non-western milieus. I certainly agree that hierarchies seem inevitable in a complex enough society, but they needn’t be so stark (certainly not hereditary), weren’t inevitable in pre-agricultural societies, and needn’t be in the future either — although it does seem like a robust meta-stable local equilibrium in the space of possible human collective organization. Drawing the distinction between their inevitability and their intrinsic worth (whatever that means), is a useful one in a discussion like this, however. Have you ever read Ambedkar, Iliah or Teltumbde’s writings on caste? Curious what your takes are if you have.

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    1. Ambedkar is Ambedkar , the very best. Iliah is a charlatan, who wants to pass off his experience as a dalit (under the moniker ‘Bahujan’ ) even though he is a OBC. Teltumble is regarded as a modern day Ambedkar, but he is not that good, but then in today’s age who is.

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      1. Indeed, Teltumbde is also very critical of Iliah — he’s gotten flak from many fronts (particularly from the Hindu right of late). But without engaging in ad hominems, what did you make of his analytic framework in Why I am not a Hindu ? Even if you read it critically, you have to doff your cap at how well he executes his polemic. I read it when I was in college, and to say it rattled my young mind would be an understatement.

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        1. “But without engaging in ad hominems, what did you make of his analytic framework in Why I am not a Hindu ? ”

          It says a lot about you from where you start and stand. If you are not honest about it, then how truthful is your experience? Can I as a non dalit write about “my experience as a dalit” ? Coming to his book, i feel his book got a ready audience because its the South. I dont think it would have been the same in the North, considering someone like Teltumbde who is infinitely better than him still gets only the Marathi dalit experience.

          On their attack on Hinduism mostly it “provocator” and i feel Hindus of North have just turned a thick skin and have evolved/reformed enough for even Ambedkar to make a dent into their psyche.

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          1. Strange, are we talking about the same book? No where did I read Iliah claiming that he was a Dalit (he talks about his upbringing as a Kuruma in some detail), and on the cover of the edition I read the full title is Why I Am Not a Hindu: A Sudra critique of Hindutva philosophy, culture and political economy. Perhaps there was some controversy in another publication/ forum where it was construed that he was claiming Dalit status?

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          2. What is this shudra business? In today’s India there are three caste groups. That’s it. When he talk about shudra what is he doing is conflating obc with Dalits to pass off Dalits experience as his own. This trick is not new and it might fool others not me.

            https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/opinion-hinduism-denies-spiritual-citizenship-to-shudras-dalits-and-adivasis-1949743.html

            Is the yadavs , Marathas , Jats and Patels expreince same as Dalits ?

            As I said I the north this worthless discourse about spiritualism and atheistic part of Hinduism is passé( perhaps not in the south). The Hinduism of north now is on more materialistic issues like demography ,politics , economics and representation. And to be frank it’s for the better.

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    2. So, I haven’t heard of Teltumbde. I have read some of Iliah (his writings for Caravan, a far-left magazine), I was unimpressed because he seemed to be more interested in scoring political points and hating Hinduism than shedding light on the matter.

      I have read bits of Ambedkar, he seems better than most of his intellectual successors on this matter, who took his writings to excess (MLK and Ed Said also have this problem.)

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  9. Good idea to moderate.
    This is a blog I come to for understanding South Asia . I wish there was a bit more Srilanka and Bangladesh.
    I am from India. Non-Muslim.
    I feel Islam is more of a living religion than other religions now.
    In the sense what it says or does not say matters to its adherents to a far greater extent than other religions.
    Many Hindus are trying to do the same now. But thanks to its peculiar nature and Nehruvian post-independence thought it is a tough sell.
    Anyway, as one reader I fully support a bit of moderation.

    I am reminded of a comment by a Christian, to whom quoted an unpleasant part from Bible. He said “ I am a Christian. That does not mean I follow or believe Bible”.

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  10. @H.M.

    Break in topic — I just had to respond to this one thing:

    “I just felt bad about being Indian, and wished I had been White (I finally got over it in my early 20s).”

    Thanks for wearing your heart on your sleeve with that very personal detail. I feel for you brother, it’s probably more common a feeling among displaced diaspora kids than have the courage to admit, and l’m glad you got over it. I got made fun of for my smelly lunches, my funny name (was only one of two non white kids in my class growing up) and my class (family was very fresh off the boat and wasn’t as well off economically as the kids I was sent to school with). The main effect that had on me was to give me a chip on my shoulder with Goras (the British in particular) that I’m probably still not completely over. A big bear hug from here to there.

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  11. @Saurav bhai

    I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, but your last comment is an absolute non-sequitur.

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  12. Why is everyone ignoring the strategic geopolitical aspects of J&K? India controlling waters upstream of the lowland Indus River Basin gives it better control of the water that reaches both Indian states further south, as well as Pakistan. Sounds like a good reason to control the region.

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