101 thoughts on “Open Thread – Brown Pundits”

    1. “did lakshmi pooja”

      didn’t you mention in some other thread that you were a jain?

      why do jains reject all other hindu deities, but enthusiastically worship lakshmi?

      such double standards may not go down well with lakshmiji 😉

      1. “why do jains reject all other hindu deities, but enthusiastically worship lakshmi?”

        Well Dravidians say they are Hindus too , so… 😛

        we live in a world of contradictions

      2. I am Jain only on communal grounds lol. Same with many Jains (a minority are hardcore and will never have hindu statues in their homes). My parents go to jain and hindu mandirs. We have hindu idol statues next to our jain ones. We also have a picture of Jesus and Buddha on our pantheon, from presents given to my dad (a coworker and a friend). We did some hindu prayers and a jain prayer.

        When we had a family crisis, because there was no temple nearby his workplace, my dad would go to a local catholic church and pray.

        I am an atheist. Granted, that isn’t saying much because Jainism can be argued as atheistic. But I will go further and say I do not believe in the superstitious stuff that Jainism espouses. If I had to pick a religion, it would be the one of the middle path. Jainism is too ascetic.

        Most importantly though, Lakshmi is the godness of money. All Gujaratis, regardless of ethnic and/or religious background worship dat guap so they can pay for dat Xtra guac at Chiptole.

        Jai Shree Ameen and Sal Mubarak

        1. I have met Jains who are more Hindu than me, and Jain aunties have publicly lambasted me for my un-Hindu (agnostic) like conduct. 😛

  1. Will India (or any country in South Asia, for that matter) ever be a “superpower” (whatever that really means)? Is it really a world power at all? Hell, is it even a regional power?

    1. But is it really, though? Pakistan doesn’t really seem to be too concerned about any of India’s military threats. And didn’t they humiliate India not too long ago with the capture of that pilot?

      1. As I’ve said a thousand times, you’re missing the forest for the trees. One plane here and there doesn’t change the larger and shifting strategic reality.

      2. A huge portion of Pakistan’s time and resources go into deterring current and future Indian military threats. Pakistan isn’t concerned because its properly prepared, but its come at the cost of development in other areas of the country.

        As the wealth gap between India and Pak continues to rise, it will take increasingly more resources to maintain deterrence against India, which will worsen the wealth gap, in a vicious cycle.

        India failed at Balakot this year because they were impatient and wanted to impose costs on Pakistan now, despite not yet having the necessary militarily superiority to do so. As things look now, they’ll have that ability in 10 years time.

        The only thing that can thwart India is when their decision making apparatus does stupid things; a result of getting high off their own supply (in this case the hyper-nationalistic kool-aid). When that happens, you get debacles like Balakot.

        1. But other than deterring Pakistan (somewhat) how much clout does India really have in the region? China pretty firmly has Pakistan in its grip, and Nepal as well. It’s made inroads into Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. India can’t even keep it’s own immediate neighbors under control, how can it be expected to accomplish anything even remotely like China on a global scale?

          Is South Asia simply destined to be recolonized or pushed around by the new superpowers?

          1. the usa can’t keep stuff under control either but we’re the most powerful. india’s size and power is why pakistan has sacrificed its economy for military expenditures.

            china is the new hegemon. not fair to compare.

          2. I would say its because of India, that Indian neighboring countries have not totally kow towed to China much like ASEAN countries have.

            They know that there is no realistic chance that India will ever let go of them towards to drift towards Chinese orbit and so “play up” the Chinese close-ness and their own strategic importance.more than they what’s accounted for. So India tries its own machinations to keep them at least neutral. Dont know for how long it will last though.

      3. ” As things look now, they’ll have that ability in 10 years time.”

        I wouldn’t’ say that dynamics of Balakot etc would have substantially change in 10 years time. India’s superiority only comes to the fore in a longer engagement. Devoid of that , on 1V1 situation in a smaller engagement , its a coin toss, and any country would come out better unless its like US vs Iraq or something.

        India bested China in Doklam doesn’t mean that the Chinese wont have a field run in a longer engagement . These small skirmishes where you cannot really put in your numerical advantage dosen’t give the full picture. And with cutting edge military equipment used in the initial rounds of war, any country irrespective of its size can best the bigger country for a limited period of time (1965 Indo-Pak war) .

      4. Yes – powerful != Omnipotent.
        Is China a regional power? Yes.
        Can China invade Russia without Beijing and Shanghai glowing like the elephant foot? No

        India is not a hegemonic power

  2. Well if you have a region where you are still twice the size of all the countries put together, of course by default you become a regional power

  3. https://theprint.in/opinion/deepika-padukone-is-set-to-play-draupadi-indias-first-superwoman-metoo-warrior/312001/

    “Deepika Padukone is set to play Draupadi, India’s first superwoman & #MeToo warrior”

    Considering that Deepika is perhaps the last person standing, not to kowtow to our Hindu emperor, it would be interesting how this movie will be received with the Hindu nationalistic circles.

    It will perhaps be the last time where Bollywood liberals will ever touch anything remotely related to Hindu epics, characters and history unless it acknowledges their (Hindutva) worldview.

    1. Given that Hindu nationalists seemed to have no problem with Gully Boy, I can’t imagine they’ll care too much unless it hits Leila levels of far-leftism.

      The article seems to view the character of Draupadi as very important. She honestly seemed to have a rather ancillary role in my reading of the Mahabharata…but everyone’s got an opinion I guess.

      1. Well think Padmavati when you think Draupadi not gully boy. There are movies/series which have gone under the radar, and the protest (if some) are mostly mild. But religious epics and history are different ball game altogether.

    2. “Deepika Padukone is set to play Draupadi, India’s first superwoman & #MeToo warrior”

      As a pukka westerner, I am triggered by this sentence tbh.

      Indians are appropriating western culture, and twisting it to fit their own ancient mythologies.

  4. Razib, write something about South Asian Genetics!! It’s been so long.

    Preferably about Bengalis.

  5. Re Indian genetics. I got completely different haplogroups between geno2.0 and 23 and me. (Rl144 and hm2914) is this possible?

  6. The Pakistani version of Akshay Kumar movie (Indian jingoistic shit) just released. Too bad it hasn’t released in the states , or else would have paid to watch it. 😛



    “Before moving further on the Kaaf Kangana movie review, let’s make it very clear that Kaaf Kangana was set in another universe, just like Marvel and DC, so even if you try to find any sense out of it, then you are at fault. In this extended universe of Mr. Khalil ur Rehman Qamar (KRQ), there exists a Pakistani and a Muslim (keep this order in mind) Ali Mustafa (Sami Khan), meets Kangana Rathore (Eshal Fayyaz) who is of course a Hindu girl from India at the finale of SAARC Quiz Competition that was “strategically” held on 16th of December and hosted by a “Bangladeshi”, who is obviously very biased.”

        1. Numinous, Saurav,

          Once a year on Ash Wednesday, pretty much all Roman Catholics all over the world.

          Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants to either the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or the dictum “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”[5] The ashes are prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations.


        2. I also think the Ramadan Fasting and 40 day Lent fasting are related, from same sources

          Ash Wednesday is exactly 46 days before Easter Sunday, a moveable feast based on the cycles of the moon.

          My Negombo Catholic BIL and other Negombo folk also keep off booze during this time. Pretty amazing for a fun loving group.


    1. @VijayVan
      Ash on his forehead is not steppe related. Shaivism originates in pre-Steppe cultures of south asia. It was brahminised through Rudra (a minor rig vedic deity they connected with Shiva in order to bring the non-steppe religion into the brahmanic fold). Shiva has not cognate in Indo-European and there is lots of circumstantial evidence for an IVC or more likely tribal origin.

      This is a common feature in a lot of brahmin-authored mythology and texts. New mythologies were constantly invented to bring outside religious deities into the fold…

      1. Ziva (Shiva)(=alive, life), in the ancient Serbian mythology (and Slavic, Indo-Europeans do not exist), was the goddess of spring and fertility, in charge of spring, morning and the birth of life. She is also known by the names of Vesna, Diva and Devana. In Sanskrit the word Vas means – to be bright or light and is at the root of Vesna’s name. She was one of favourite deities since the beginning of spring would mark the departure of winter and thus of Morana, who appears as the goddess of winter and death. Vesna is portrayed as a beautiful, always smiling, naked and barefoot woman, somewhat covered with ferns, grass and flowers, hair that is sometimes also all from flowers, down to below the knee. The breast is lush, as it resembles a fertility goddess, and sometimes holds an apple in her right hand and a swallow, a symbol of spring in her left hand, or a symbol of spring in her left hand, and a symbol of marriage in her left whale. In Russian language, it is still: Spring=Vesna.

        Today, there are many modern names referring to this deity: Vesna, Ziva, Zivana (f), Zivan (m), Zivota(m), Deva, Divna, etc.

        There are a couple pictures as a brief illustration of this goddess:


    1. I like this smiley guy. Only, it is too long (2+hours). Can you find the part about mousses with Indian genes who followed rice (i.e. food, i.e. people) and spread all around the world and this is a proof for OIT. Although, I prefer the elephant story…..Btw do you know old Aryan joke about mousse and elephant who are running OI over the bridge? The mousse is turning his head toward elephant and says: ‘See, how we are banging!!! ??’

  7. https://www.livemint.com/opinion/columns/opinion-the-world-is-not-as-depressing-as-doomsayers-believe/amp-11572370212200.html?__twitter_impression=true

    Opinion | The world is not as depressing as doomsayers believe

    “People who you thought were amiable, and normal (because they had two children, which makes many people appear so) have turned out to be raging lunatics on Twitter. Conscientious girls upon discovering politics are shocked that their sweet papas are right-wingers. And, so many people now know so much that there is a spike in the use of rebukes like, “correlation is not causation” and the “Dunning–Kruger effect”.

    The divide in society is for real. But, as this column argued earlier, “polarization” is a sign that one class of people does not have a monopoly anymore over mainstream ideas. So, what bothers most suave storytellers is in reality a good omen.

    B.R. Ambedkar once framed the moral legitimacy of polarization when he told “low castes”: “It is your claim to equality which hurts them…If you continue to accept your lowly status ungrudgingly…they will allow you to live in peace.”

    In the coming years, the radiation of gloom will only intensify as the world entertains itself through fables of rage and gloom. But people will always be innately happy. In this world, it is hard to escape happiness.”

    1. Truschke has single-handedly delegitimized the western, liberal reading of Indian history in the eyes of many Hindus. The Sangh parivaar should send her a birthday card every year.

      IMO she brings out the rot in the system to the surface. Witzel, Doniger, Eaten all have similar views but shroud them in academic language and do not troll Hindus on Twitter.

      So egregious and inane are her views and choice of words that many solidly liberal Hindus also cannot defend them.

      “Aurangzeb protected Hindu temples more often than he demolished them.”

      That is to say in his life of 70 odd years he endured the continued existence of Hindu temples for more hours than he spent demolishing them. What a tolerant person.

      1. I follow her just for this LOLs, sometime back she commented that Indians cannot be trusted with Indian history anymore, and that discipline should be moved to US 😛

      2. I don’t know if this is true, but she certainly does create a lot of negative polarization (just from looking at the Twitter replies.) Anyways, she’s done a great deal to preclude the possibility of creating a more nuanced discussion on Indian history and current affairs.

        Now it will just be rage and bromides. Which is, of course, Truschke’s metier. But it’s not enough that she carry the day among ideologically friendly academics, she has to win the narrative war in India, where things are definitely not going her way.

    2. Truschke has blocked me for calling out her Hinduphobia. She loves playing the victim card when some low IQ Sanghi IT cell moron starts swearing at her. But can’t handle it when someone who is raised in the West and is more familiar with appropriate social conventions challenges her.

      1. Or anyone who isn’t just swearing at her, I should add. Raised in the West doesn’t make a difference.

    3. Saurav

      A comment on tweet
      He (Rajendra Chola) never sacked a temple but reinstalled the statue back in a temple in the south…this is the kind of half baked info that the left is providing to discredit Hinduism and any history attached to it.

      I guess the Brits and other colonials did not sack India and Sri Lanka. They did take all those knick knacks and put them in UK museums and stately homes (eg robert clives castle).

      I guess there are subtle differences between looting and sacking.

  8. One wonders about the moral fiber of the West and US in particular.

    Much outrage of purported Trump and Russia collusion, gender issues etc.

    However, in your face violation of international law or common decency, the invasion of Syrian Oil fields gets barely a peep.

    In the US invasion of Syrian Oil Fields should be a better reason to impeach Trump
    a) for breaking International laws
    b) For not getting approval from Congress to invade the Syrian oil fields.

    Is this absence of the opposition to the Invasion because both politicians and citizens think the Invasion and extraction of Syrian oil will benefit the US economy.

    Moral bankruptcy indeed.

    Suku, Rashid Maurice, your opinion


  9. Sbrakkum


    Ravana was a spectacular king. He just fell for the wrong girl

    “In fact, the Sri Lankan civil aviation authority, in a bid to investigate this very question, launched a project in August to probe deeper into the matter. The forum argued about why Indian historians never talk about the Pushpaka Vimana (or, in Sinhala, the Dandu Monara Yanthraya: the Peacock Machine). The head of the archeological institute of a prominent university, and a professor of geography, were firm in their opinions that Sri Lankans flew 5,000 years ago, thanks to Ravana, and that adequate scientific detail could be found. A venerable monk claimed that the Yakka language — an ancient indigenous dialect — would have been the lingua franca during Ravana’s times, and that we should dig deeper into those legends. It was said that Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, did a con job on a great man.”

    1. Saurav,

      This whole Ravana thing is quite a recent thing. During my teenage years (and possibly since late 1800’s), the in thing was to prove that Sinhalese were descendants of Aryans from Gujarat. I was not really privy to bourgiose Tamil thinking (language issues). My Tamil relatives (including my father) did not feel necessarry to identify with Aryan or Dravidian. Long story will some day explain why.

      There is no mention of Ravana in the Mahavamsa (or Dipavamsa which is older). Mentioned in Rajavaliya which appears to be written post Euro colonial times. This well past the 12th century when Hindu South Indians had pretty much conquered or influenced North and North central Sri Lanka.

      Quite surprisingly Ravana is not even one of the twelve gods (dolos deviyo).
      The twelve devas, both indigenous and foreign are Kataragama, Saman, Ghana, Vishnu, Dedimunda, Pattini, Natha, Devol and the cluster of four gods that guard this country namely, Drathrarasta, Virudha, Viruupaksha and Vibhishana.

      Yakkas/Yaksha and Nagas (were they AASI ?)
      In the Mahavamsa the Yakka are people who had cities and at times co ruled with the invaders. The Yakkas were not hunter gatherers. The old reservoir sluice gates have statues that (appear) to predate the Mahavamsa beginnings (500 BC). Apparently Vijaya the invader with his men, seduced a Yakka women (Kuveni) and intrigued to take over the Yakka city.

      Naga; quite a few of the Kings were named SomethingNaga, eg Coranaga, Khallata Naga (or for that matter Mahasiva and Mutusiva). Winners or writers record their version of history.

      Pushpaka Vimana (or, in Sinhala, the Dandu Monara Yanthraya: the Peacock Machine). The head of the archeological institute of a prominent university, and a professor of geography, were firm in their opinions that Sri Lankans flew 5,000 years ago

      No question, all us AASI types were flying long before the Steppe and Iranian Farmers. The Kansa sure helped.

      Devol Deviyo (note similarity of names to deus and devil)

      Yakshi guarding the Reserve bank of India

      1. LOL, I just found all this amusing.

        In a way i think that the Sinhalese Buddhist are sort of closer to Hindu Indians than even Buddhist Indians. Buddhist Indians due to fear of being subsumed by Hinduism, as well as being overwhelming from dalit community try to distance from Hindu mythos as much as possible. So for me , Sinhalese Buddhist laying claim to parts of Hindu mythos (Aryan, Ravana etc) is amusing.

      2. @sbarrkum

        Ravana could be an excellent unifying figure for Sinhalese and Tamils. Radical Tamils of India are known to conduct “Ravan Leela” occasionally, where they burn the effigies of Rama and Laxmana.

        Also, if I am not mistaken, Pushpak Viman was looted by Rama as a war booty, and flown away to Ayodhya. I am sure a demand of reparations is coming soon 🙂

        1. Pushpak Viman was looted by Rama as a war booty, and flown away to Ayodhya.

          We need to excavate Ayodhya until we find it. 🙂 This, and not the Babri Masjid, is the real deal.

        2. Scorpion Eater

          Ravana could be an excellent unifying figure for Sinhalese and Tamils. Radical Tamils of India are known to conduct “Ravan Leela” occasionally, where they burn the effigies of Rama and Laxmana.

          If the Sinhalese knew Tamil Nadu was deifying Ravana, they would promptly jump into the Rama camp. Sinhalese have a problem re Tamil Nadu (much more than with Sri Lankan Tamils).

          Saurav. I think thats where the Aryan thing plays, anti Tamil Nadu/Dravidian.

          Also, if I am not mistaken, Pushpak Viman was looted by Rama as a war booty, and flown away to Ayodhya. I am sure a demand of reparations is coming soon

          Yeah, the Sinhalese will gather evidence, put together a law suit and fight for years, NOT. The Sinhalese react, and then cant be bothered. When I say Sinhalese, anyone including Europeans who has been in Sri Lanka for two three generations or more, among Sinhalese society.

          The Sindhis’s and Gujaratis ensure they dont become too Sri Lankan by marrying their co whatever who dont live in Sri Lanka.

  10. “Nikola Tesla described the modern smartphone — in 1926”


    One excerpt:

    “There’s a reason Tesla is so in vogue right now. The dude was basically science’s Nostradamus, predicting globalized wireless communication nearly eight decades before it came to fruition.

    Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a pioneer scientist during the turn of the 20th century best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Tesla was a physicist, mechanical and electric engineer, inventor and futurist, as well as the possessor of a near-eidetic memory. He spoke eight languages and held 300 patents by the end of his life. His legacy has experienced a major resurgence in recent years — the name Tesla, as you might have heard, is way in vogue right now — as many of his predictions about power and communication have come to fruition.

    The quote below does well to show just how prophetic Tesla was. Here he basically sums up a modern smartphone… in 1926:

    “When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.”

  11. Razib why do you use South Asian constantly in your recent gnxp article about Indian Americans being successful?
    Clearly the success rates of Pak-Americans and SL-Americans are not the same; why are you trying to force fit the term South Asian where it’s irrelevant?

    1. in general when i’m talking about pre-1947 dynamics i like the term ‘south asian’ for non-brown audiences. i am OK with using ‘indian’ in a generic sense before then…but non-brown readers get confused and fit the modern nation-state’s borders/concerns.

      if i had posted here i would probably go more granular not less. the guju entrepeneurs are very different from other groups of indian americans who came as professionals.

      1. I am facing the similar problems/dilemmas when I write about Serbs here. Some think about a modern nation of 8(+4) millions. How is it possible that so small nation was so important in ancient history. Actually, this name is used for the people with same genetics origins and language which they called Serbian. They occupied (in different times) the space from Vinca until Kamchatka and Serendib on the east, up to Scotland on the west, up to the Norway on the north and up to northern Africa, Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. This, modern, nation is a part of the original group of people with same origin, which only (apart from Lusitania Serbs in Germany) maintained the historical vertical for 10 thousands of years and preserved the original name.

  12. Mohan wrote:

    “Shiva has not cognate in Indo-European and there is lots of circumstantial evidence for an IVC or more likely tribal origin.”

    Rig Vedic Indra and the non Vedic IVC Shiva is one of the favorite arguments of AIT champions. The famous Pushupati seal found in the SSC and its “cognate” seal on the the equally famous Gundestrup Cauldron is enough to take the air out of this:



    Koenraad Elst discusses the Indra Rudra Shiva issue in great detail under section 4.7 of his “Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate (1999) which unfortunately is no longer available online for free.

    “At any rate when we study these two divine characters (Indra and Shiva), we find that they are not at all antagonistic. Shiva is usually identified with the Vedic god Rudra. It so happens that Indra’s and Rudra’s domains are more or less the same: both are thundering sky gods. In mythology, Indra is like Shiva, a bit of an outsider, who is in conflict with the other gods, shunned by them (and even by his mother), left alone by them to fight the dragon, doing things that disrupt the world order (p. 203).”

    “Indra himself is called shiva several times (Rig Veda 2:20:3, 6:45:17, 8:93:3 (p.205).”

    Of course Indra or Dyaus Pitra has many IE cognates Greek Zeus Pater, Latin Jupiter, Illyrian Dei Petrus.

    None of the 19 Vedic gods which have IE cognates are worshiped today in their original form by contemporary Hindus.

    “The tally (out of 19): Vedic (19), Greek (9), Avestan (7), Germanic (7), Roman (4), Baltic (4) Slavic (3), Celtic (2), Hittites (1), Albanian (1). Talageri 2016).”

    Therefore, it has been easy for scholars to delink Rig Veda from contemporary Hinduism and by extension making the Sanskrit language itself alien to Hinduism and India. However, one has to realize that Rig Veda is the work of just one of the tribes Puru Bharatas and it has always coexisted with other parallel traditions.

    “The Hindu religion is an amalgam of the religious features of all the different parts of India, not all of which are derived from the Vedas or the Vedic religion (which was originally the religion of the Pūrus of Haryana and westernmost Uttar Pradesh, and part of the northwestern Indian religious sphere). ”


    It is just that the Puru Bharatas from which India gets its name Bharata have been the most active in pushing the other tribes out and away from South Asia, ultimately giving the modern day distribution of IE languages we have today referring to the map in the following tweets by Joseph T. Noony


    The Rig Veda however DOES mention other tribes like the Yadus to the south (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan) and the Turuvashas to the east.


    1. “The tally (out of 19): Vedic (19), Greek (9), Avestan (7), Germanic (7), Roman (4), Baltic (4) Slavic (3), Celtic (2), Hittites (1), Albanian (1). Talageri 2016).”

      >> The previous could be considered as a joke (to counteract OofI mousses and elephants) but the mentioning Albanian in any context (especially in divinity) can be proposed as a litmus test for moronity. Is there any logic in previous quote? Regardless in which direction all divinities are tallied (Vedic>all others or opposite) who invented this selective adoption of ‘foreign’ deities? As usual, there is not any indication of timelines or how and where this could happen. For e.g. if the ‘Slavic’ is used from 7cAC, when and where (between Germany and Japan?) this deity transaction occurred and in which direction? Who are Baltic gods? And Germanic? Roman gods are a replica of Greeks’ replicas, don’t they?

      I don’t know which deities are assigned to ‘Avestan’ but all others are a part or replicas of Serbian mythology. It is normal because they are the oldest. If some new group appear, let’s say, 4-5000 years later (Greeks) or more (Romans) it is normal that they adopt as their, something what is older than, for example, Christianity for us, and after that they may introduce some regional and cultural specifics and produce ‘new’ religion (e.g. scientology or jehovah witnesses, in our time).

      As a side remark, I like to read MMK comments. I don’t want to be unjust to some others, but they are some of my favourites. They have some fine humour, I confess that it is sometimes over my head and I feel uncomfortable that I had to give him ‘F’ for his assignment to find the previous name of the river Ind.

  13. Not sure if they want to completely remove all references to Tipu Sultan from the textbooks or if they want to present a more nuanced analysis of his life and rule: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/history-chapters-glorifying-tipu-sultan-will-be-removed-from-school-text-books-says-yediyurappa/articleshow/71821742.cms

    I’d be in favor of the latter, but I suspect it’s the former. Stereotyping here a bit, but history as a narrative of facts (warts and all) is unappealing (and a pointless endeavor) to traditional Hindus, who think of history as an ancestor-glorification project more than anything.

    1. History is always about narrative-building. Don’t single out Indians for something that every society does. Didn’t you pay attention to the recent “1619 Project” kerfuffle?

      1. I commented about Indians because I thought that’s what we did on this blog, day in and day out?

        And the notion that crazy behavior in one country can be ignored because crazy behavior is exhibited in various countries has never appealed to me.

        In any case, my comment above was of a piece with various other comments of mine where I decry unthinking fealty (even deification) to the Indian past by people living in the present. That is not just a theoretic concern. Such thinking is pervasive in our current set of rulers, who mistakenly hanker for a mythical glorious past, seeking to take India back to those times. They ignore/dismiss all the lessons of modernity, including science, assuming (like jihadist Muslims) that once the country has been restored to the “pure” past, everything else will fall into place and people will flourish.

        1. You singled out “traditional Hindus.” My point was that the ills you attribute to traditional Hindus are also seen in avant-garde American leftists (and British empire-lovers, and Turkophiles, and all kinds of other people in other societies.)

          Once we acknowledge that this is a universal phenomenon, it becomes much harder to attack traditional Hindus merely for their own version of it.

          I mean I get where you’re coming from. I used to despise Black Leftists (and their allies) for their horrific assault on history. Ta-Nehisi Coates had some lines that reached Vedic Wifi levels of ignorance.

          But once I started to see the same stuff everywhere, my opposition become much more tempered. The 1619 Project may be fluffy, and some of it might be straight-up wrong, but on the other hand, it has some kernels of truth, and it represents something very real in the present.

          And really, was the American Pageant version of history all that great?

          1. And really, was the American Pageant version of history all that great?

            the issue is some of us want to replace propaganda with facts. seems like a minority preference though.

          2. “the issue is some of us want to replace propaganda with facts. seems like a minority preference though.”

            I don’t think even actual historians want to do much of that. For some of them, they just have blind spots and confirmation bias like all humans do.

            An increasingly vocal contingent views history and activism as inseparable, and think the former must be subordinated to the latter.

            And a few stalwarts don’t think facts exist as we know them.

      2. I would rather they don’t teach anything before 47, and sort of recommend books, if children are interested. Don’t think History is an interesting/important subject in schools anyway. This is a never ending battle where either side wont go home satisfied. Frankly all this energy and time could be used to teach other stuff.

        But i feel its too late now. Folks who should have known better used history as bully-pulpit to further their ideology, now why would the other side want to lose their chance? So we move in circles. In that scenario , i feel its better to have no reference , than have contested reference of historical characters.

        1. Folks who should have known better used history as bully-pulpit to further their ideology, now why would the other side want to lose their chance?

          Saurav, what precisely are you referring to? Do you mind elaborating? (I believe you are at least as old as I am.) I don’t recall my middle- and high-school history being so ideologically skewed that I had a eureka moment when I “grew up” and bothered to read history on my own from various sources.

          I’m not talking about the more controversial aspects of the JNU-level history, which then as now reached a miniscule fraction of our population. My childhood history lessons were 20% school history textbooks and 80% Amar Chitra Katha. I have since learned that people like Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib had a lot of influence over what went into those textbooks, but from what I can recall, they dealt with the subject quite fairly. Though of course, there was a lot of omission; there’s only so much you can force kids to absorb.

          1. I am only talking about school textbooks. Not Amar Chitra Katha etc. Because the news you linked was about Tipu Sultan in schools.

            I think the omission part is separate. There is a whole discussion of how regional history has been omitted in lieu of Delhi’s history. Coming to the text books, Tipu Sultan itself is the best example. Just recall what were you taught about Tipu in your school books. Plain vanilla freedom fighter (who built rockets) , right? It;s not as if communal issues were not discussed while dealing with other rulers (Aurangzeb etc) , but hardly any mention of those stuff wrt Tipu. Why? Because , you feel it would color the image, in the eyes of children of a (muslim) freedom fighter who are already so few anyway. Its much easier to pile on the mud on Aurangzeb because he is villain anyway.

            You might feel that this omission was just omission , but i would say its naive to think so.That’s y in my view, would rather leave the whole subject altogether rather than treat it in bits. Just my 2 cents.

          2. Saurav,

            You are right about how Tipu was portrayed. Though I do recall one line (somehow it’s remained with me all these years) where my textbook said something like “Hyder Ali was famously tolerant of different religions, a trait unfortunately not shared by his son”. But that was it.

            On Tipu himself, what I can gather is that he was nice to Hindus within his core domain (Mysore) but pretty brutal to those in the territories he conquered (Coorg, Malabar). And those feelings were reciprocated; the prime minister throughout his reign (and in the latter part of Hyder’s) was a Brahmin named Purniah. The Sringeri math (if I recall this right) benefited from Tipu’s patronage.

            This can, of course, be attributed to pure statecraft; a ruler wants to perpetuate his rule, religious commitments are secondary. But on balance, Tipu does seem to fall on the “Islamic bigot” side of the spectrum, unlike his more (presumably) ecumenical father.

          3. To be frank, I myself dont judge him anyway. He did what he did. He didnt kill my folks, right. If the Kannadigas are ok with him, why should i get worked up about

    2. Interesting exchange between Numinous and Saurav. As always, I am inserting myself in the conversation unsolicited.

      I believe history as university level subject has no real value. History is history, and it is all well recorded in books and journals and manuscripts. In the age of information age the knowledge is freely available to one and all at the click of a button. Those who have interest in it can do their own research, and draw their own conclusions.

      With a technology revolution unfolding all around us, the body of human knowledge is expanding exponentially. As it is there are plenty of new skills to be taught. No wonder American kids go to robotics and coding boot camps in their summer vacation. Nobody has time for history.

      At the school level, history as a subject is still important. We don’t want kids to grow up without any clue about the journey their forebearers to took to arrive in the modern world in the current shape. However, the focus should be more on the social and economic life of the population rather than on the doings of kings and queens. For example, instead of teaching kids about the obscure battles of the Turkic sultans like Iltutmish and Balban, how about teaching them interesting tidbits that neither sultans nor commoners of those periods enjoyed aloo-ka-paratha in their cuisine. (because potato is a new world crop).

      Second issue I do notice is that the history taught in Indian schools is too Delhi-centric. I remember growing up we had to learn about ineffectual later mughals whose authority did not extend beyond red fort, but were unaware of the southern indian personalities like Marthanda Varma or Abbakka Chowta. Local emphasis is sorely lacking from Indian history textbooks.

      I don’t think that there is anything factually wrong with the history taught in Indian schools, but a misplaced focus on wrong geography and wrong personalities can present a dramatically different and misleading picture of the history. For example, the disproportionately large emphasis on Islamic era and British era somehow presents a misleading picture of thousand-years-subjugation of Indians. The reality was far more nuanced. There was constant resistance and rebellion by the Hindus against the foreign rule, and they did manage a reconqista of sorts in the period between the Islamic and British era, when they largely liberated whole of India. In fact if you ask a common Indian, they will usually think that British took Delhi from the Mughals. How many Indians are even aware that it was only after defeating a Maratha army that British took Delhi and could forge an empire in India.

      Having a knowledge of local heroes can instill a confidence in school kids, and give the can-do attitude. Again, it is not a question of doctoring history, but putting the focus on things that matter more.

      Sorry, longish post. But for whatever it is worth..

      1. “. I remember growing up we had to learn about ineffectual later mughals whose authority did not extend beyond red fort,”

        Leave figures of S-India, when i was in school, the power which was even IN delhi during the later mughals was hardly talked about ie the Marathas. It leads to a funny situation where when the Marathas were at the weakest (ie Shivaji) has been covered more extensively because of his rivalry with Aurangzeb, and ironically when the Marathas were at its strongest hardly anyone knows who the Chatrapati or the Peshwa was.

        This leads to funnier situation where the Marathas suddenly show up for the 3rd battle of Panipat and you are guessing why are these Deccan folks even here, and fighting N-Indian battles? And didn’t they all die after Shivaji? This whole scenario repeats with the Sikhs as well, where suddenly Ranjit Singh appears out of the blue.

        If these is the scene with other N-Indian powers you can forget other regional powers.

        1. “when the Marathas were at the weakest (ie Shivaji) has been covered more extensively because of his rivalry with Aurangzeb, and ironically when the Marathas were at its strongest hardly anyone knows who the Chatrapati or the Peshwa was.”

          This is down to modern Indian caste politics, plain and simple. How many votes can glorifying those brahmin peshwas bring any way?

          Nana saheb peshwa, just before the eve of 3rd battle of panipat, commanded more Indian territory than any other Hindu potentate since Chandragupta Vikramaditya. Most folks in NI have not even heard his name.

          1. I think its not that simple though. This Maratha vs Brahmin thing is Mahrastrian thing only. Outside of that, there is a general way Marathas are treated in school textbooks. Marathas are seen as this proto Hindu army and apart from Shivaji (where there is a clear black and white case against Auranzeb) , the rest are seen as RSS progenitors by the liberal intelligentsia.

            I think there is another angle (regional not caste) though. Many of these Left folks who wrote the textbooks were Bengalis (since that was the only other state they had power and intelligentsia to draw upon) and Bengalis in general had a harrowing experience wrt Marathas

        1. Be it as it may be, but nobody can deny the fact that Internet has been a game changer. Internet has democratized the access to knowledge. Of course people have to differentiate between the reliability of science journals vs facebook posts. Common sense has no alternative.

          1. in the 1990s we thought it would change everything. people had access to so much information.

            but we forgot: most people are morons. TMZ is more populr than wikipedia (well, not really, but u get what i mean).

  14. Richard Eaton’s original text is a little more nuanced than Truschke’s tweet. I haven’t read any of Truschke’s books but Eaton’s ‘Rise of Islam in the Bengal frontier’ is a good book.

    1. Its a good in a way, Truschke is taking apart what Eaton et all built over the years. I think once Truschke era is over there would hardly be any faith left in white man telling brown history.

      Dalrymple has already moved to pop history and now touches uncontroversial subjects because unlike the others he lives in India.

      1. Dalrymple has already moved to pop history and now touches uncontroversial subjects because unlike the others he lives in India.

        In his latest book, he dwells a lot on how and why the EIC was able to conquer big Indian kingdoms, overcoming much larger armies, time and again, and why they faced almost no resistance from civilians once their rule got established in any part of India. (This is from interviews and talks; I haven’t read the book myself.)

        What he says isn’t flattering to Indians, or the memories Indians would to have of their 18th century ancestors. Indian merchants (Marwaris and Jains) were actively supporting and financing the Company, and the rape of Bengal by Clive and Co produced a completely new Zamindar class, from which emerged the Bengali Bhadralok which people in that region are proud of. The Company may have ruined many people in India, but there were more than enough who personally profited from British rule and hence became a loyalist class, bolstering that rule until the 20th century.

        1. As i have said earlier British historiography is far less controversial than what Shashi Tharror believes. No amount of underplaying or overplaying Colonization atrocities is controversial in India (apart from the liberal circles) . Jalia wala Bagh evokes not even half the emotions of Ayodhya Temple-Mosque controversy. If tommorow Brits say what we did in JWB was “necessary”, Indians would just shrug their shoulders and move on.

          “The Company may have ruined many people in India, but there were more than enough who personally profited from British rule and hence became a loyalist class, bolstering that rule until the 20th century.”

          I am amused that people are realizing this very recently. In our own collective minds we were all freedom fighters, while somehow some other aliens type folks were the one colluding with the brits perhaps.

  15. Its cute when Hinduvatas dress up their opposition to scholarship as simply resisting “white people telling Indian history”.

    The most damning critiques of Hindu Nationalist myths (including the idea that only Muslims looted temples) does not come from white people, but Indian academics and historians.

    Of course, the Hindu right slanders these scholars as Marxists, much as they slander Muslim scholars as Islamists, and European authors as Neocolonialists. It doesn’t matter that 99% of Hindus have no idea what these words mean, this simply allows them to turn their brains off whenever they encounter information that contradicts the “real history” found on social media and web blogs.

    1. “No cinema hall dares to stop playing the national anthem even after the Supreme Court withdrew its own order. People are harassed if they refuse to stand up in movie halls.”

      This is certainly the most bizarre effect of this hyper-nationalism. When did this circus start? It wasn’t there when we were studying in the colleges of India in 90s. We would have spent less time in movie theaters (and consequently more time in lecture halls) had this excellent tradition been prevalent in our times.

      I believe somehow Indians have started taking themselves too seriously. If you notice, in the movies and serials of 70s and 80s, it was common for Indians to make fun of their laziness, disorganization and poverty. Now we seem to be putting on the airs of superpower without actually being one.

    2. Dont think Modi-Shah have made India either insecure or secure. And that’s precisely the trick, the know whatever they do, gives Indians a sense of security without having really changed anything (substantially) on the ground.

      Article 370 is the prime example. Everything will remain the same, terrorism, separatism, colluding elites etc. But it will generate a sense of insecurity (among liberals) which in turn, will galvanize his own base, and since the latter outnumber the former, it s a electorally potent idea.

      But the opposite is also true, they haven’t made the state less secure as well.

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