Comment of the Day:

Apart from not touching untouchables or not eating with them, there was no feeling in the masses that they (Dalits) were separate from us.

The best analogy of the Dalits are blacks in the American South. If you won’t touch, eat or sleep with someone how can you claim any sort of kinship or connection to them?

Let’s not also forget that they were the ones who handled excrements and corpses (I could be wrong about the latter).

As my Kashmiri activist friends said the Indian state has a “territorialist” view of Kashmir in that the land not its inhabitants are vital.

The commentator above is exhibiting the same “territorial” nationalism; the Dalits belong not because they do but rather they are a part of the all-important landmass.

In some ways Pakistan is exactly opposite since we are nation rooted in a sense of “peoplehood” as evidenced by the Muhajir migration. We don’t have the Taj, Delhi or Lucknow but they are more ours since we have an intensely spiritual (and ancestral) kinship to those lost locations.

We are watching the film Kesari by Akshay Kumar. This is where Sikh collaborators, serving the British, were holding off the Afghan attack. The Hinditva tones of the film (we are only twenty minutes in) are breath-taking and I’m shocked to see Dharma Productions backing this (Hiroo Johar was in the credits).

However one scene that took my breath away was when Akshay Kumar is moaning about freedom after being humiliated by his British officer. He tells his colleague that “first we were conquered by the Mughals, then by the British but I thirst for freedom.”

I was shocked and frankly a bit horrified. Good luck to this Brave New India where historical revision is now par for the course.

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56 Replies to “Comment of the Day:”

  1. How can u say that Dalits and Non Dalits are same as Whites and Blacks of the US?? or closer to home, Hazara and Afghans of Afghanistan?? As i mentioned this whole phenomenon of untouchability was because of religious sentiments of wrong doing in the past. They were never seen as racially inferior or separate from the masses like Africans in the US. The saddest part was untouchables saw themselves as such n were accustomed to their ill treatment. It was an unfortunate situation but they were part of the same community n not separate. They were as Hindi or Braj or Awadhi or Tamil as anyone else. As far as my limited knowledge goes they were the reminders for everyone else what awaits them in the next life if they stray away from the right path( from their perspective).

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    1. The extremist obsession of olden-day Hindus (the classical variety at least) with the metaphysical is so damn disturbing to me as a human – all the talk about Kali Yuga permanently damaging my mind and making me reject Dharma, etc. bhAD me jAye. Thank God today’s Hindus (however tainted they may be by Kali Yuga) don’t perpetuate religious beliefs that involve so damn insensitively using entire disadvantaged groups as tools for our spiritual upliftment and achieving our distant metaphysical goals.

      I know the above kinds of beliefs might have been just beliefs in the minds of the people following them and the general tendency on this site is to downplay and refute, probably reasonably, the potency of beliefs but some views are really disturbing to have lol.

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  2. But even if these men slipped through the cracks of immigration law, the colour codes in society were stricter. That determined where they slept at night and the women they married. Indian immigrants today do not realise they owe a historical debt of gratitude to the black community. At a time when lawmakers viewed them as part of the “Asiatic horde” says Bald, “African American neighborhoods and communities provided them with shelter and the possibility to build lives.”

    My granddad, the Bengali peddler: An African-American writer finds her roots
    https://www.firstpost.com/world/my-granddad-the-bengali-peddler-an-african-american-writer-finds-her-roots-696565.html?

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    1. Sbarrkum, the “Black-Asian United Front” is a very standard narrative peddled by Left-leaning Asian-American activists. Grace Lee Boggs and Richard Aoki are other heroes in this historiography.

      There is (as with all things) a kernel of truth to this, but the dominant and more recent experience of Asian-Americans vis-a-vis Blacks is one of indifference and occasional (mutual) opprobrium. The recent brouhaha in Philadelphia about bulletproof glass in shops, the battle in NYC over Stuyvesant, these are our most salient encounters with Blacks in the 2010s.

      The reality of Asian-Black tensions is discomforting to many Left-leaning Asian-American activists, so they retreat to a half-real, half-legendary past of generations ago where we supposedly lived together in political harmony as we battled the evil White Male. Even if we grant that this is mostly true (and I don’t), what does it matter? We don’t live in the 1960s.

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  3. If you won’t touch, eat or sleep with someone how can you claim any sort of kinship or connection to them?

    Symbiosis rather than kinship has been the basis of Indian society and worldview.

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  4. As my Kashmiri activist friends said the Indian state has a “territorialist” view of Kashmir in that the land not its inhabitants are vital.

    I think that’s true of any part of India. The difference is that people in most other parts of India are not itching to secede, violently or otherwise.

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    1. In which other part of India are there 500,000 soldiers enforcing the State’s control? Kashmir is more akin to a colony than to part of a federation.

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        1. Back to whataboutary. When you have no defense for the treatment of Kashmiris, turn around and attack Pakistan. Great argumentation.

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          1. My point is that Kashmiris are doing fine. I illustrated this with evidence of what awaits them were they to get their wish to join the paradise of the faithful.

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          2. “Kashmiris are doing fine”. What a callous statement considering the atrocities the Indian army has committed against them over the past 30 years.
            Most Kashmiris want an independent Kashmir not to join Pakistan (though even if they wanted that it would be their choice).

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      1. Kabir,

        In which other part of India are there 500,000 soldiers enforcing the State’s control?

        You really need to understand the concept of cause-and-effect.

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        1. And you really need to understand the fact that Kashmir is a Disputed Territory not part of India proper. The overwhelming presence of those soldiers (Kashmir has been called “the most militarized zone in the world”) only heightens the perceptions of many Kashmiris that they are living under Delhi’s Occupation and are not part of the democracy that exists in India proper.

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          1. You still don’t get it. If Oriyas tried to launch a secession movement, especially with foreign-sourced arms, there would be half a million Indian troops in Orissa too.

            Any state that does not try to protect its territorial integrity is suicidal by definition.

            “Disputed Territory” is a legal term. By that standard, Muzaffarabad and Chitral are also Disputed Territories (they in the scope of the same Dispute) but you will scream back that the locals there are happy to live in Pakistan, so we shouldn’t talk about them.

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          2. There are Pakistani troops in Azad Kashmir but they are at the border not in the middle of the cities. Pakistani troops are not killing kashmiri men or raping kashmiri women.
            Chitral has nothing to do with Kashmir. It is part of KPK.

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          3. Pathan and Baloch lives do matter but that has nothing to do with Indian atrocities against Kashmiris. When you have no defense, just deflect. That seems to be your only style of argumentation.

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        2. Why is India so keen to hold on to something that it needs half a million soldiers to hold down?

          By the way of course the Kashmiri economy is completely symbiotic to the military presence ..

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          1. BTW, Kashmir faces China , India’s real enemy. That is the major reason for the presence of soldiers. FYI, many of the soldiers are not regular army, but BSF, etc.

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          2. India’s reasons for holding on to Kashmir have to do with the refusal to believe in the TNT and thus the insistence that as a secular country there is no reason why it cannot have a Muslim-majority state within it. This would be more plausible if the country was not heading towards hardline Hindutva.

            The other reason is that all the water resources come from Kashmir. This is also why Pakistan is so desperate for the territory.

            If the soldiers were there because of China, they would be at the borders and not in the heart of Srinagar. They are clearly there to intimidate the local populace.

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          3. What are Pakistan’s reasons for holding onto Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa ? Are they related to desire for land ? Or is this a form of TNT ?

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          4. Balochistan and KP are constitutionally provinces of Pakistan. Neither is Disputed Territory and cannot be compared to Kashmir.

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          5. LOL. Shocked, shocked, I say, shocked.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMIyDf3gBoY

            Kashmir is also a “constitutionally province”. The Disputed Territory is the part illegally held by Pakistan against UN mandate. Pakistanis lecturing Indians about constitutional rule of law is like Trump reading scripture to promote sanctity of marriage.

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          6. Because it’s ours. If we can’t defend our own territory, then we’re no state at all. That alternate reality would obviously embolden many more fissiparous and foreign elements.

            Tell your activist friends to make peace with the fact, that barring a 5 sigma event, the Kashmir Vale is ours for good.

            Also Kabir, Pakistan is virtually only party that still brings up the Kashmir “dispute.” In the words of (staunchly anti-BJP FWIW) Ninan: “The world has moved on.”

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          7. Arjun,
            All of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is Disputed Territory including the part controlled by India. The International Community refers to it as “Indian-Administered Kashmir” for a reason despite what Indian nationalists want to believe.

            Balochistan and KPK are not claimed by any other country. The fact that you make this comparison shows you are either arguing in bad faith or just incredibly ignorant.

            HM,

            The Kashmiri people themselves are not going to give up fighting for their freedom no matter what Pakistan does. Your colonialist attitude is really not going to help the situation either. Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris not to Indians or Pakistanis.

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  5. first we were conquered by the Mughals, then by the British

    The Hindu Right makes too big a deal about the Mughals, who were last in line among Muslim conquerors and far from the most pernicious. They may even have helped cause a mini-renaissance, which was eventually undone by Aurangzeb though.

    Also, the homeland of the Sikhs was under Muslim control from Mahmud of Ghazni until Ranjit Singh (a solid 8 centuries.) This selective targeting of Mughals as hate figures seems weird to me.

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  6. I agree that there was a lot of jingoism in “Kesari”. The photography in the movie was striking. The story was lame and typical of a lot of Bollywood productions.

    Zach says, and I quote:
    “However one scene that took my breath away was when Akshay Kumar is moaning about freedom after being humiliated by his British officer. He tells his colleague that “first we were conquered by the Mughals, then by the British but I thirst for freedom.””

    Not sure why this is shocking to Zack. Successive invasions by Scythians, Huns, and Islamic Central AsianTurkic//Persian/Afghan kings are a well understood part of Indian history. One could add Yamnaya/Indo-Europeans to this, and perhaps Iranian pastoralists, depending on how far one wants to go.

    The issue is one of more recent recorded history. Islamic invaders brought with them iconoclasm (which may have been an excuse for) and the loot and destruction of Indic places of worship. While many Islamic rulers also provided support for Hindu temples, what is seared into the memory of many is the fact that Hindu and Buddhist temples and places of worship and learning were destroyed.

    When the protagonist says “Mughal”, it is a short hand for Islamic invaders. Islam’s spread in most of India seems to have been accompanied by the advent of political Islam. [Before somebody jumps down my throat, this was not the reason Islam spread in Kerala. I am well aware of this.] So the comment about yearning for freedom from “Mughal” rule and then British rule, was a common refrain in India. [From this refrain may have stemmed the birth of Pakistan.] Let us acknowledge this reality.

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    1. JT,

      “Muslim invaders brought with them iconoclasm”

      Iconoclasm was a feature of Hindus before Islam arrived. The first example being the Aryans contempt for and destruction of the IVC peoples phallic structures. Later on the Shunga Empire is recorded massacring thousands of Buddhists monks and destroying monasteries. There’s some evidence that a number of Hindu-temples are built on former Buddhists temples in the North.

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      1. You realise that Hindus have been worshipping phallic structures (Siva Linga) since time immemorial.

        Another pathetic attempt to rewrite history to fit a pro-islam agenda.

        Aryan’s iconoclasm of Indus valley linga can not be equated with ‘Hindu’ iconoclasm, because mainstream Hinduism is a mix of Vedic and Indus religious practices, including the worship of phallic structures.

        Hindu iconoclasm towards Buddhism is a fact however.

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    2. @JT

      “The issue is one of more recent recorded history. Islamic invaders brought with them iconoclasm (which may have been an excuse for) and the loot and destruction of Indic places of worship.”

      The standard Western liberal view is that:

      – Hindus had a rich tradition of destroying Hindu temples. Hindu kings would go around destroying temples when they conquer land. They loved destroying temples.

      – Muslim conquerors were simply following this rich Hindu tradition. As a result, what you think of as iconoclasm is actually a great sign of conquerors assimilating into India by adopting a rich Hindu tradition. It symbolizes the Muslims’ great cosmopolitanism and eagerness to integrate.

      – When Muslim conquerors destroyed temples, it was never out of any sense of religious prejudice. It was merely required due to political and economic circumstances. Even when they destroy a temple and build a mosque over it. Even when they use the idols’ pieces to build the footpaths and such. None of this was motivated by religious prejudice. Just political and economic reasons.

      – When Muslim conquerors, in their autobiographies and biographies, boast about destroying temples on account of their religious zeal and piety, it must be disregarded. This is a literary tradition where writers embellish what really happened. Never mind asking what kind of literary tradition celebrates temple destruction. Who knows, that may also be a rich Hindu literary tradition that was adopted by the ever-so-eager to assimilate Muslim conquerors.

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  7. “The Hindu Right makes too big a deal about the Mughals, ”

    Well beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Same thing could be said about the Brits too right? They ruled for far less time span, still we have resources after resources dedicated to Brits exploitation, where lamenting about them is never seen as odd.

    Also on selective targeting, Mughal is a figure of speech , what the Hindu right means is ALL muslim rule from 1200 onwards (Eastern Punjab and Sindh doesnt count since that land is “lost” anyway)

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  8. “As my Kashmiri activist friends said the Indian state has a “territorialist” view of Kashmir in that the land not its inhabitants are vital.”

    This is a perfectly natural and respectable view to take. American Lefties rage incessantly about “deplorables,” but nobody seriously wants to give up the land of “Flyover Country.”

    Indians are actually much more benign than many Americans…nobody really hates Kashmiris, they just pretend they’re invisible.

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    1. No. I’m sorry but this is not a “respectable” view at all. Kashmir is not a real estate matter. The needs and desires of the Kashmiri people should be paramount in everyone’s minds. However, the Hindu Right is happy to tell Kashmiri Muslims to “go to Pakistan” while claiming that Kashmir is India’s “atoot ang”. Why should Kashmiris go to Pakistan? They are the natives of the land unlike people from UP or any other part of India. Keeping the land while discarding the natives is completely immoral and more suited to a colonial state than the “world’s largest democracy”.

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      1. I have no idea who you are talking to, because you are imputing claims to me that I did not make. I don’t want anyone to “go to Pakistan” (unless they want to), and I had hoped the Kashmir Vale would follow Mizoram’s path.

        Obviously, Pakistan would prefer continued violence over reconciliation. What the Kashmiris themselves want (knowing that independence or accession to our fine neighbor are off the table), I don’t know. Maybe they want peace, maybe they want to persist in their doomed intifada. But I fear that there won’t be a soft landing at the rate they’re going.

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        1. You are the one who stated that valuing the land more than the people is a “respectable” view. That is exactly the attitude of the Hindu Right which claims that Kashmir is India’s “atoot ang” and that Kashmiri Muslims can just go to Pakistan.

          Kashmiris want independence. In how many ways should they make that clear to you?

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          1. Right, they want independence. I want an Aston Martin and a date with Margot Robbie. It’s all right to want things, but you have to make your peace with the situation at hand, a situation where Kashmiri independence is a nonstarter.

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    1. Would love to hear some more dalit voices, rather than have be used as virtue signaling pawns by overly privileged non-dalits.

      The one podcast with the dalit guy living in india was excellent.

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        1. ” It is an indictment of Indian society, not us, that we can’t find those voices”

          Sure, not trying to fault you for speaking up for the Dalits.

          But it also reflects on the bubble of privilege that the diaspora Brown commentariat class in developed countries enjoy relative to Brownistanis as a whole.

          I personally don’t know anyone who identifies as a Dalit. I know a quite a few brown people.

          Similarly the only brown person I can think of in my generation that that doesn’t have a college degree, dropped out to start a business, and both his parents have PhDs.

          I belong to a non-OBC shudra caste (found out because of the internet), some of whom are agitating to be counted as OBCs.

          I have some understanding of the nuances of this group that an outsider wouldn’t. But I have no lived experience with the Indian reservation system, or with caste based discrimination.

          So I don’t feel comfortable speaking one way or other on the agitation.

          Dalit issues feel even more foreign to me.

          I am broadly sympathetic to their struggles as a marginalized group.

          But do most Dalits want a separate Dalitistan or do they want to be assimilated in to a broader urbanized Hindustan (similar to Burakumin in Japan or Cagots in France)?

          I honestly have no clue.

          I don’t think any of the Brown Pundits authors do either.

          This is why I am interested in hearing more Dalit voices.

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  9. Zach write :
    “In some ways Pakistan is exactly opposite since we are nation rooted in a sense of “peoplehood” as evidenced by the Muhajir migration. We don’t have the Taj, Delhi or Lucknow but they are more ours since we have an intensely spiritual (and ancestral) kinship to those lost locations.”

    I don’t understand the reference to “peoplehood”. Who defines the “peoplehood” (is this the same as “quam”)? How does one explain the persecution of Ahmedis, the bombing of Shia mosques, etc.? [I wont even bring Bangladesh into the discussion.]

    A small minority of Muslims from North India may have immigrated to Pakistan out of a sense of “peoplehood”. The vast majority of muhajirs were forced to move by the drawing of borders and the accompanying violence. The overwhelming majority of Hindus and Sikhs who migrated to India for the exact same reason.

    Please don’t glorify the motivation for the migration that happened in 1947.

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    1. The sense of peoplehood was so strong that half the country left after an attempted genocide.

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  10. Zack:

    A century ago; the Brits were saying the same thing about Gandhi..

    You are a fair person, but is this really a fair comparison?

    Think about how Britain came to be in possession of India. And then think about how and why Kashmir is a part of India (and partly of Pakistan.) Did Indians go sailing around the world to capture and colonize the Vale?

    What Gandhi was fighting for, for most of his political career, was not even independence. It was simple rights, for Indians to be treated on an equal footing with whites in their own homeland. Rights which Kashmiris already possess, and have possessed since 1947.

    That said, if Kashmiri secessionism abandons its current militancy and Islamism, and instead takes up Gandhianism, I can definitely see it having a much more profound effect on the Indian public. But with Pakistan and the ISI napping on Kashmiris’ heels, this is unlikely to happen.

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    1. I don’t think Gandhi won Indian Independence tbh.
      The Brits *had* to give up India
      Maybe Kashmir is as alien to India as India is to Britain?

      That is what the Valley Sunnis feel / their alienation is absolutely shocking..

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      1. National Conference with Sheikh Abdulla as their leader were solidly pro-India and anti-Pakistan. Congress supported Sheikh in all his anti-Prince civil rights movement. Sheikh Abdullah spoke in the UN as Indian representative and asked Pakistan to lay it’s hands off Kashmir. The major political force in Kashmir was with India

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      2. Kashmir is a lot less alien than Mizoram (which is Christian, and speaks a language not even in the Indo-European family), and the latter has found its place in India.

        There is nothing magical or essential about Kashmir. There are foreign forces amplifying certain tendencies there. That’s it.

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        1. Hindus on this blog never cease to amaze. The same slimy imperial apologetics used by the British against them, they are now parroting about the Kashmiris. I’m not sure if this is a lack of self-awareness, or a lack of shamelessness. Probably both.

          The issue with Kashmir is straightforward. They are a people that have never wanted to be part of India, that have nevertheless been forced to be part of India at gunpoint. This already makes them unique in comparison to every other state currently in India (who at worst have alternated between periods of contentment and wanting independence).

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          1. Kashmir is never going to be Madhya Pradesh, but it also doesn’t have to be what it is right now (and indeed it wasn’t before the 1980s).

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