Browncast Episode 43: Indian Elections, the Aftermath, with Kushal Mehra

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In this episode we discuss the outcome of the Indian elections with Kushal Mehra, host of the Carvaka Podcast (and a BJP supporter, albeit not exactly a traditional one). Kushal thinks Modi’s sweeping victory had more to do with his ability to deliver real benefits to the poorest Indians. Feel free to disagree and post your opinions in the comments. We talk about the failure of the Left’s dream scenario of “dalit-Muslim unity” as a counterweight to Hindutvadi politics (at least in this election), what this means (or does not mean) for Indian democracy, the role of Indian Muslims, and so on.


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Omar Ali

I am a physician interested in obesity and insulin resistance, and in particular in the genetics and epigenetics of obesity As a blogger, I am more interested in history, Islam, India, the ideology of Pakistan, and whatever catches my fancy. My opinions can change.

51 thoughts on “Browncast Episode 43: Indian Elections, the Aftermath, with Kushal Mehra”

  1. These Hinduvata mouth-breathers are insufferable. Just when you think they can be reasoned with, their pathology slips out.

    “India discriminates the most against Hindus, whoever disagrees can disagree”

    India ranks as one of the worst countries in the world (behind most Muslim countries) for treatment of its minorities. The fact that Hindus honestly believe themselves to be the “true victims” in such an environment speaks to the level of psychosis that has gripped Indian society.

    “The violent Muslim past has been ignored”

    What is this rubbish. This past is taught as the standard history across India. What has been ignored is the pre-Muslim era atrocities, Hindus desecrating Hindu temples, periods of severe Hindu persecution of Buddhists, not to mention the entire sordid history of the Aryan invasions and imperial origins of Hinduism.

    1. Hope BP folks will set certain minimum editorial standards for its interlocutors, unless what I am considering a bug is the feature.

      1. If this is in response to my comment I agree. The “mouth-breather” line was inappropriate, especially for a guest speaker. If someone wants to edit that part out, or just delete the whole comment, I’ll make a more level-headed response.

        1. Yes it was a response to you, but was referring to the podcast guest. Mouth-breather should win you the Miss. Congeniality award : )

          Did he get any pushback to- “India discriminates the most against Hindus, whoever disagrees can disagree”?

          While I can understand the comical denial of Hindutva STEMbros- would be disappointing if there was no pushback to such ridiculousness.

          Apparently, judgments on quality of NYT and WaPo journalism from China will now be calibrated to their coverage & editorial page opinions on Modi. Benchmarks must surely be Swarajya and Republic TV, as not even professional Indian journalists cut muster now because of their annual subscription to the left-liberal mafia. Only thing funnier may be the conflation of Modi-Shah’s BJP with mainstream Republicanism.

          Hellow, 1919 called- they want their lynchings back!

      2. “India discriminates the most against Hindus, whoever disagrees can disagree”

        You misquoted this. Go back to 1:01:40. Kushal’s claim was restricted to the Indian *Constitution,* not India at large.

        In that light, I agree with Kushal completely, he’s just stating the obvious (of course, the Constitution does not explain everything about the reality on the ground in India, but that’s separate.)

    2. “India discriminates the most against Hindus, whoever disagrees can disagree”

      From a legal standpoint this is justifiable, though it runs into trouble when you look at other stuff. On the other hand, Lefty accounts that only care about Sachar Committee and cow lynchings are also blinkered.

      “This past is taught as the standard history across India.”

      Kushal is talking about the Indian High Culture, where a very different “standard history” is taught. Think about the narrative where the heroes are Ashoka, Akbar, Ram Mohan Roy, etc. Not saying it’s entirely false, but it’s a limited framework (and so is the nationalist one.)

      “Hindus desecrating Hindu temples”

      This is a common Indian Lefty talking point as part of their larger strategy to indigenize the Mughals (and other Islamic polities). The problem it runs into is that the Hindus didn’t really express much contempt for “idolaters” and “polytheists,” and as even Eaton admits, most Hindu perpetrators looted and abducted idols rather than engaging in wholesale destruction. People can, prima facie, recognize a qualitative difference between Hindu and Muslim temple destruction.

      “Aryan invasions and imperial origins of Hinduism.”

      We identify WITH the Aryans dude. We are their successors, memetically and (to a degree) genetically.

      (And yes, I know a lot of Hindu nationalists have stupid views on AIT that they need to get over.)

      1. EDIT: “temple destruction” should read “temple desecration,” though the point is made.

      2. “From a legal standpoint its justifiable to say Hindus are discriminated against”.

        It really isn’t. There are more laws that favor Hindus than Muslims. Not to mention that its Hindus themselves who decided what the laws are.

        “Hindus expressed less religious hatred than Muslims when killing their enemies”

        The periods of severe Buddhist persecution absolutely saw Hindus voicing religious hatred, and there is evidence (though I need to read further on it) that they destroyed Buddhist temples and built Hindu ones in their place.

        “We are the Aryan successors culturally and genetically”

        Please. Indians condemn Pakistanis for pretending to be Middle-Eastern, yet Pakistanis share far more culturally and genetically with the Middle-East than Indians do with the Aryans.

        1. I said *to a degree* genetically. The main transmission was memetic.

          I suppose in my case a similar memetic transmission has occurred wrt Anglo-American culture, even though I don’t have ANY Anglo-American genes.

        2. Also I don’t know why you talk so much about this Buddhist stuff. The Buddhists of India are long gone. The Hindus are the majority of India. You’re talking about the historical consciousness of a Hindu society.

          1. “Why do you talk so much about Buddhists”

            To see if the Hindu concern about historical oppression is genuine, or just an excuse to justify their increasing abuses against a down-trodden minority.

            Based on the responses I’ve seen here and other forums, its largely the latter.

          2. I wasn’t talking at all about “abuses,” and I have said multiple times that I don’t know or care about Islam to any great degree, but you seem to want to take your frustrations against Hindu nationalists out on me. Have a good day.

        3. “The periods of severe Buddhist persecution absolutely saw Hindus voicing religious hatred”

          Hindus mocked the Buddhists, other Hindu schools and Jains.

          Buddhists mocked Jains, Vedas, other Buddhist schools etc.

          This is not religious hate but religious discourse.

          The reality is that there was a lot of cross pollination and borrowing of Ideas within the Dharmic traditions.

          Attempts to clearly demarcate them are problematic, as there are differences and similarities among multiple axis.

          For eg. Tantric Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism are more similar to each other in practice than to non-tantric Hinduism or Canonical Buddhism. However in terms of darshana or philosophy they closer to the Vedic or Pali cannon respectively.

          The prohibitions on Bidah, certain forms of Iconography, and Blasphemy are fairly alien to pre-Isalmic forms of Hinduism.

          Modern Hinduism and the bhakti movement are quite influenced by Islam, and particularly Sufism (emphasis on devotion, and surrender to the will of God (singular) )

          1. “There was not religious hate between Hindus and Buddhists”.

            I’m sure the Hindus calling the Buddhists mlecchas, massacring their monks, and tearing town their temples was just a happy misunderstanding.

            “Iconography and Blasphemy are alien to Hinduism”
            I’m not sure about iconography but blasphemy is a feature in every pre-modern society. If you walked into the middle of a Gupta-city square and begin cursing the Hindu deities and traditions, you’d be killed. I don’t think anyone can seriously argue otherwise.

          2. @indthings: this is the full quote

            “The prohibitions on Bidah, (prohibitions) certain forms of Iconography, and Blasphemy are fairly alien to pre-Isalmic forms of Hinduism.”

            Meaning there is not a strict Islamic style prohibition on these things, not that there weren’t social consequences.

            “massacring their monks, and tearing town their temples was just a happy misunderstanding. ”

            Are you taking the Huns (Mihirakula and the Hephthalites ) to be indicative of the dharmic Indian ethos ?

            Nalanda and Vikramashila continued to receive patronage in the eastern part of the subcontinent, from kings who also patronized so called Hindu institutions.

            Until they were destroyed by nominally-Islamic invaders in the name of religion.

          3. Way I see it, talk about Aryan invasions and Buddhist persecution is like talk about Ostsiedlung and the Albigensian Crusade. They are interesting historical curiosities, but I’m not aware that those things have much relevance to European social and political discussions today.

  2. Quick point on Kushal’s comments about Hindus being afraid to go to Muslim areas in Indian towns: this is not so unusual internationally. In many American cities, non-blacks are afraid to go into African-American areas where they think there’s a high likelihood of getting robbed or shot. Two examples: Harlem in NYC and South-Central in Los Angeles. (There was also some talk a few years ago about Muslim areas in French cities where non-Muslims were afraid to go, but having never been to France, I can’t confirm or deny this.)

    1. Finding it hard to take anything about foreign affairs from NYT and WaPo on places like China or Mid-East seriously after reading their tone-deaf coverage on Indian politics.

      1. Yeah I stopped reading their crap. We’re not even missing anything, they basically copypaste the same talking points over and over.

    2. Numinous,

      non-blacks are afraid to go into African-American areas where they think there’s a high likelihood of getting robbed or shot. Two examples: Harlem in NYC and South-Central in Los Angeles.

      Harlem and even parts of the South Bronx were gentrified by 2010 with professionals moving in. 125th Street was long gentrified by 2010 and beyond 145th Street.

      I had moved to Fordham road, North Bronx to get cheap rents.

      Most of NYC is now quite safe.

      Incidentally, if you drop into a porn shop in NYC and you see that dark guy working there, its most likely to be a Sri Lankan. Quite a few are owned by Sri Lankans too.

      1. Thanks for the info. I may be behind the times. It’s been close to a decade since I left the States.

  3. Listening now. I like Kushal, and it’s good to hear from someone on the ground in this election. I do think Kushal is often a bit too sanguine about India and the BJP…on the other hand, it’s good to hear a counternarrative to the nonsense you get from NYT and WaPo.

  4. Why you guys so worried about “international image” ( nyt , wp) of India. As long as India is a reasonable democracy and doing economically well an article here and there won’t make any difference to its image ( just like it didn’t for Pakistan in the 50s and 60s ).

    Neither will it affect image of Hinduism ( positive or negative ) in any substantial way. For that it has to do what Islam has done for years together to even come close to that negative baggage

    On any given day China gets more negative coverage than India does. Do they care ? Washing post will still write all those negative stories about India / China while its parent company still make billions in those countries

    Let the white folks and their brown Sahibs write what they want. It’s wont matter in the long run anyway.

    1. Definitely agree. Haters gonna hate, we just gotta stay calm and back the BJP.

  5. Done listening…felt like Kushal was giving a speech more than having a conversation…

  6. On the distinctiveness of TN, I wonder if we are not making too much of it. Clearly, the politics there is a little different from that in the north, but if you analyze election results there going back decades (rather than just dwelling on the most recent result), you’ll see a regular pattern.

    The DMK and the AIADMK keep alternating in power, like clockwork. Every five years, voters throw the bums out and replace them with the other party’s bums. If you see the electoral map of 2014, all of TN was swept by the AIADMK (which is now an ally of the BJP and part of the NDA, as it has been for long periods, though not in 2014.) This time the DMK swept the state. I’d lay my bets on all of TN going “saffron” in 2024 (assuming the AIADMK sticks to the NDA.)

    None of this data tells us anything about how TN voters feel about Hindu-Muslim issues, and whether or not they are in sync with most of the country.

    (On a related note, I recall Jayalalitha, the late AIADMK leader, being very hard on conversions of Hindus by Christian missionaries. I believe she tried to ban this back in the 90s or the 00s.)

  7. I am amazed that so much of this podcast was spent discussing Hindu vs. Muslim issues. This type of framing of everything in religious terms would be expected in a country like Pakistan but one would think Indians would be able to have a substantive discussion without such an inordinate focus on this dimension.

    1. There were only 2 Indians (out of 5) in the discussion, them being the guests. Questions to them were all about Hindu Muslim issues. I didn’t hear them gratuitously bring these topics up.

      1. Indeed, it seemed Kushal was more interested in toilets than anything else.

    2. the extent to which all enemies can b successfully sicced against each other is the extent to which political aims can b realised

      no need 2 lift a finger

      pass the sweet pink popcorn pls

  8. Fairly silly browncast. Learnt very little. The only useful information was around 1:15 about how much BJP has managed to eat into the reserved SC/ST seats. Most people do not appreciate how socially cataclysmic this is! Other than that bit, generally forgettable…

    1. Slapstik, I think Kushal is a veritable genius and global thought leader. I “LOVED” the podcast.

      Isn’t the BJP’s strong showing among OBC, SC, ST voters a very good thing? It shows that OBCs, SCs, STs and forward castes are integrating together.

      These distinctions have always been arbitrary–despite being written into the Indian constitutions. The faster they go away the better.


      Saurav, thanks for sharing about your district. I wonder about how India’s economic miracle and sharp drop to % rural population is transforming India.

      Officially over 60% of India remains rural. [I think 65%] But this statistic is significantly over stated. Many nominally rural areas are now de facto urban areas. The real rural percentage of India has dropped sharply.

      How many OBCs, SCs and STs are moving to de facto urban areas (or live in areas that use to be rural but that are now newly de facto urban) based on your observations?

      On the muslim BJP vote . . . it is large but difficult to calculate. We need far better metrics on sub categories of the muslim vote. For example:
      —young females
      —Sufis and Irfan
      —Shia (overlaps with Sufis and Irfan)
      —liberal Sunni
      —agnostic, atheist, and ex Sunni

      Do you have demographics on the types of muslims in specific districts that are more than 40% muslim?

      A majority of these more than 40% muslim seats were won by the BJP.

  9. I think we read too much into bjp doing well in sc/st seats. It’s similar to how Bjp does well in Muslim dominant seat as well ( which is sometime shown as Bjp acceptance from Muslims )

    In a sc / st seat it’s not important as to how good / acceptable Bjp candidate is. In that seats what’s important is which party can mobilize the non – sc/st population effectively. Since all the candidates on the seats happened to be sc or st their votes get divided, and the general castes are king because they are the ones who decide which candidate goes to win that seat( in today”s case they are with the bjp). Ditto with Muslim seats where all the candidates happened to be Muslims from other parties and bjp hindu candidate gets the chunk of the undivided hindu vote.

    P.S. my constituency is a tribal reserved seat and the bjp candidate who won there campaigned almost exclusively in the cities where the “savarnas” live, rather than the rural parts where adivasis live. F

  10. highly doubt founder of Islam was AryanWhiteCaucasian. First religion of Man is of RigVeda. Only injunction of RigVed one need know is NoOutOfCasteMarriage. Given marriage practices of Mohamadans, and I use the word marriage loosely as it pertains to antics of Koraimals ,it defies logic, that founder of vicious Islam was AryanCaucasianWhiteEuro. Impossible. Smearing peoples slated for extinction, those peoples being Western Aryan White Caucasian and Eastern Arya Dharmic Religions aka Hindu and Zarathustra folk is really a low blow and akin to rubbing salt into our wounds, something that literally was an atrocity committed bu kakokristokic fraud govt of Chindia back in 1984 at Darbar Sahib AkalTakht aka Golden Temple, Amritsar in Chindian occupied Panjab.
    Second Law of Aryan life just as vital as first is No Slavery.
    It is race to bottom for European and Indian. Unfair. Unjust. Te great tribes of Central Asia, Asia pronounced as same as Croatia, would never mix with a nonAryan of their own free Will, never. We prefer infanticide to admixture.

  11. Well, aren’t there no-go Islamic zones in Europe these days? What part of this is news? These exist, and that’s a fact; and judging by what is the current situation in Kerala and West Bengal, the characteristics in no-go zones are exactly at par with each other with any other Islamic no-go zone in the world.

    1. I have been all over north Kerala as a non-muslim, it’s disingenuous to suggest that hindus would be in danger roaming about. It’s far more dangerous to be roaming around western UP and the NCR in general.

      1. Obviously I didn’t mean that they will hack you to death or there is war going on there. There have been instances in the past, skirmishes, a bit of tug-o-war here and there. Its there man, its there.

        1. Nope, its not. The general atmosphere there is so remarkably safe and of higher quality than just about any place in India that its absurd to characterise it as a dangerous no-go zone. And if it were to be characterised that way, then all of north india ought to be considered beyond the pale, and worse than pakistan in matters of general civility.
          Trying to call out one of india’s few functioning societies, kerala, and compare it unfavourably with obviously inferior regions like gujarat or UP is right out of the hindutvadi playbook. Any sensible person who’s been to both places would be embarrassed to consider it.

          1. These guys are so obviously deluded, it is not funny anymore. I saw the guy’s response and shook my head and didn’t know where to begin! Couldn’t agree more with what you say here:

            “Trying to call out one of india’s few functioning societies, kerala, and compare it unfavourably with obviously inferior regions like gujarat or UP is right out of the hindutvadi playbook. Any sensible person who’s been to both places would be embarrassed to consider it.

            The more fascinating thing for me is, when such simple and easily verifiable things are presented as debatable by highly knowledgeable folks, what does one do when debating more abstract and by-its-nature difficult to debate topics? We are seeing the victory of propaganda over reality in just this small micro-debate we had here, and this is a perfect microcosm of what is happening all over India, that began with the Modi-Shah caravan with its now mostly forgotten Gujarat model.

          2. When is a no-go term used? In terms of law and order. Only restrict yourself to that. Whenever such a situation comes in, there are issues. Again, its there; and also in places in North India which are unsafe. I’m not painting the whole of Kerala. Overall, in multiple places in India, even in Muslim areas its BAU.

  12. There is a dialogue in the movie NH 10, where a police man says something like the Indian Constitution ends on the border of NCR

  13. LOL, I felt that exchange somewhat unnecessary reductive . It how in USA you have this ” America is not a democracy , its a republic”

  14. Oh come on “Parallel Universe”, are you being just politically correct or just sly? Functioning societies? Haha nice term. Cool.

  15. Kushal says everything upfront. Maybe its hard to digest for desi people who have become very sensitive in western countries. Indians, being born in India, Indian Citizens and have stayed in India all their lives are politically incorrect and will call a spade a spade. I’m curious that comments from some people who are being politically correct have lost their desi traits ha ha.

    -Yes, India discriminates against Hindus. He’s talking about the constitution.
    -India ranks as the worst for treatment against minorities. Was it from that report of that US association? If so, bleh.
    -The violent Muslim past has been ignored – Yes.
    -Hindu persecution of buddhists? aryans? Imperialism?. All fruitcake talk – Hut Bhaand. nonsense.

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