Open Thread – 08/29/2020 – Brown Pundits

By Razib Khan 95 Comments

The usual. Like I said I’m moderating more, so watch yourself.

On Monday some of the BP crew (and my friend Josiah Neeley of Urbane Cowboys will be talking to Matthew Yglesias of Vox about his new book One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger. Open to questions from the peanut gallery here too. I’ll probably also ask non-book questions toward the end of the hour.

1+

95 Replies to “Open Thread – 08/29/2020 – Brown Pundits”

  1. Something I have noticed is that American identity politics is very much about being born into a community, and then talking about “lived experiences” even when interactions with one’s own community are extremely limited.

    For the majority, this isn’t really an issue, as they tend to have stronger connections with their community, but when it comes to many we see on the public stage, it becomes apparent that they never actually engaged their own people, culture, or heritage.

    Razib, you may have grown up here isolated from other South Asians, but it is clear that you have made efforts to educate yourself on South Asian cultures, history, and perspectives. On the other hand, most American desis in the public spotlight are detached from their communities. They are either selected by whites to parrot their views in brownface, or seeking to trade in on their ‘diversity’ despite only superficial differences with white americans. You see it from Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal to Mindy Kaling and Kamala Harris

    1. ” even when interactions with one’s own community are extremely limited.”

      What is one’s own community if not what one actually grew up with?

      Usage like that, where a person’s “real” community is supposed to consist of people linked to them by blood even if they never got a chance to meet them sounds pretty “old world” and not very modern (though SJW’s are reviving it — e.g. the view that a black adoptee’s “community” should be black, than an Asian adoptee’s should be Asian, and if it isn’t, something’s missing).

      “On the other hand, most American desis in the public spotlight are detached from their communities.”

      It’s one thing to have grown up in a community of a certain ethnic group and then have rejected it/distanced yourself from it.

      It’s another thing to have never grown up in a community of that ethnic group at all and then to either *claim a community as your own* or *have others claim that that’s the community that you should belong to*.

      “or seeking to trade in on their ‘diversity’ despite only superficial differences with white americans.”

      I’m an individualist, not that much of a communitarian but even very individualistic Americans will admit that a lot of what people mean by “experience as a person of group X” isn’t merely about growing up with other members of group X around but what it feels like to be treated as a person of group X regardless of if you choose to avow or disavow it.

      People will treat a visibly black person as black, or a brown-skinned person as brown even if they’ve lived among whites their whole life and that shapes their worldview, and yes it’s getting better (despite some of the stuff nowadays) relative to generations ago.

      But still people of racial minorities can have enough of a different experience that all of them qualify as “lived experience” for any individual members (it varies, some racial minorities report people treating them no differently than whites at all, and for some people’s lived experiences that may be valid, but others have very different experiences).

      I would prefer we proceed more in the individualist direction and less in the group-obsessed one, but being told what group one should identify with by others (either the SJW left or people from the old country telling diasporans how they should or shouldn’t be able to identify or claim a group) *in addition to* self-identification strongly with a group and not the individual, both feed back on each other and hinder the goal of seeing people as individuals.

      1. While you and I are strong individualists who like to be judged on our merits, the world unfortunately likes to stereotypes.

        It doesn’t matter if a person wants to say this is my experience, it is co-opted by everyone to mean, “group X person says this and so true for all group X persons”. So, one has to be circumspect about their representation of a group by the accident of birth.

        A delightful XKCD comic xkcd/385 lays it out very well. It is wilful blindness not to consider this aspect in public life.

  2. I posted the following at gnxp.com open thread, but it is more relevant here:

    The Smearing of Nikki Haley: Liberal Indian-Americans accuse her of denying her heritage. | By Tunku Varadarajan | Aug. 27, 2020 | https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-smearing-of-nikki-haley-11598549001

    … Ms. Haley—née Nimrata Randhawa—is the daughter of Sikh immigrants from India. She was born in South Carolina in 1972, and as a child she worked at her mom’s clothing store. She graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and returned to work in the family business….

    At 24, she marries a white man. A year later she converts to Christianity, taking on her husband’s faith. Her biggest ethnic sin, however, was to join the Republican Party. …

    At the Republican National Convention this week, she steered clear of the strident tone of many other speakers. America’s “is a story that’s a work in progress,” Ms. Haley said, stressing the need to make the country “even freer, fairer, and better for everyone.” She was “the proud daughter of Indian immigrants.” In an echo of Kamala Harris’s much-lauded shout-out to her own Indian mother at the Democratic National Convention, Ms. Haley said, “My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari.”…

    Responding to a line in Ms. Haley’s speech—“America is not a racist country”—a group called South Asians for Biden tweeted: “If America isn’t racist, why did Nimrata Haley feel compelled to change her name to ‘Nikki.’” …

    Liberal Indian-American ethnocrats have long alleged that Ms. Haley’s preference for a name that many Americans would find easier to say is a form of self-loathing, proof of her desire to erase her Indianness. This reflects a belief that while it’s fitting for America to accommodate immigrants, it’s somehow wrong for immigrants to have to accommodate America. I also suggest they brush up on their languages. “Nikki” is a Punjabi word that means “little one,” often used as a term of endearment for the youngest girl in a Sikh family. …

    Far from changing her name to fit in—which, surely, would be her own rightful decision and no one else’s—Ms. Haley has used a name her parents bestowed on her at birth. “Nikki is my name on my birth certificate,” she tweeted in May 2018. “I was born Nimarata Nikki Randhawa.” She married a man called Michael Haley, becoming Nikki Haley. … To suggest that Ms. Haley is trying to pass for white—and to bury her own identity in the process—is not only desperately overheated. It is racist.

    1. Wow, lol.

      “Nikki” is a Punjabi word that means “little one,” often used as a term of endearment for the youngest girl in a Sikh family

      It has the same meaning in Gujarati, Hindi and probably several of other Indian languages

      There are lots of “Nikki Patels” and “Nikki Sharmas”

      It’s not some obscure regional name.

    2. ” This reflects a belief that while it’s fitting for America to accommodate immigrants, it’s somehow wrong for immigrants to have to accommodate America.”

      ” To suggest that Ms. Haley is trying to pass for white—and to bury her own identity in the process—is not only desperately overheated. It is racist.”

      Fair. That raises the question of why assimilating/adjusting to American culture described as becoming “white” for minorities? Aren’t many people who are so-called liberals reinforcing the white = American standard that liberal or left-leaning people have been trying to fight against?

      A conflation of racial lineage with cultural norms which is only not strange because we’ve been socialized into accepting this conflated use of concepts and vocabulary for too long.

      Are African Americans more “white” than Indian Americans because they (usually, as a statistical generality for the bulk of the populace) have fewer cultural elements directly or recent imported from Africa than Indian Americans have from India, like language, food etc.?

      By logical extension, do white Americans become less “white” when they become more cosmopolitan and visit Asia, Africa etc. have more non-white friends, eat more diverse food, learn a non-European language etc.

      Many people in Africa and Asia itself are taking on western culture too, even as the west declines in economic and demographic power proportionally — are they becoming “white” more ironically as the share of whites goes down?

      Is the world becoming more “white” as English becomes the lingua franca? Is everyone here reading (yes, all the non-Anglosphere readers from outside the English-speaking world) all acting white then. Does English belong to “whites” or can non-whites make it their own? Just like all the other things we know on an intellectual level came from Europe but don’t see as “white” things only? After all, no one says white chess players are more Indian the more they get into chess since chess originated in India. Enough with the cultural appropriation debate too…

    1. I enjoyed it as well, thanks for sharing.

      Why aren’t there more Muslim liberals ?

      Seems like the distribution of Muslims is skewed towards illiberalism.

      There is a theory that this caused by Islamophobia so they cling more to their religious beliefs. I think that is probably partly true.

      But then again a lot of Islamophobia is also caused by Muslims overreacting to any criticism or insults and resorting to violence.

      So I don’t understand what the root cause of the illiberal tendencies is tbh.

      This old onion piece is satirical but illustrates what I am talking about (note: graphic and possibly offensive cartoon)

      https://www.theonion.com/no-one-murdered-because-of-this-image-1819573893

  3. Punjabi nikkī < Skt kaniṣṭha (younger / younger born). Cf. Kashmiri ñika / nič (little boy / girl)

    The word is a diminutive and not used as a given name. It is like calling someone “boy”, “kiddo” or “darling” as their given name. Highly atypical even among the Anglophones (“Boy George” notwithstanding). The parents clearly used it to conform to the society of the phonetically dissonant monoglots they found themselves in.

    That said I think the moral valence in the charge that Haley is an ethno-turncoat is negligible. Humans have choices and people can/should choose whatever cultural identity that catches their fancy. We aren’t born in bondage of our parents cultures.

    1. The word is a diminutive and not used as a given name

      Google Nikki + any common North Indian last name

    2. Nikki is not a diminutive name. It is a pet name and in wide usage among Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab. My automotive repair man had a nephew called Nikka Sharma, who branched off on his own with a repair outlet called Nikke di auto. Nikki is common enough as a term of endearment for a younger daughter or a little girl. There is no reason why her given name should not be Namrata Nikki Randhawa.

      1. Nika or Niki is not just a name. It is an adjective for small, like chhota or chhoti in Hindi, though chhotu and chhoti are not so common as pet names among Hindi speakers.

  4. Was listening to a podcast of Puja Mehra from last year:
    https://seenunseen.in/episodes/2019/4/15/episode-116-indias-lost-decade/

    She summarized what went wrong with the economy since 2008, namely:

    – Vajpayee’s govt. was functioning well in terms of liberalization and disinvestment, their shock defeat in 2004 was more a matter of coalition politics and overconfidence rather than bad policy.

    – When Sonia & co. reentered the game with UPA-1 and Chidambaram was brought in as Finance Minister, he carried out reform by stealth from 2004 to 2008 while the Congress preached socialism to the public.

    – A major inflection point was after the Mumbai attacks in 2008, Shinde was incompetent and booted out, and Manmohan brought in Chidambaram to the Home Ministry to replace him. Here’s where things get messed up, Pranab gets shifted to Finance from Defence to replace Chidambaram and remains there till 2012.

    – Pranab’s reformist views were ossified, just like Pranab himself. His policies were supported by Sonia because socialism and she didn’t understand economic reform, and were mildly opposed by Manmohan who couldn’t stop him because of his doormat-y behaviour.

    – Much of the NPA mess the govt. is dealing with now originated in that time period, Pranab’s parting kick was the Retrospective Taxation hammer he brought down on Vodafone in 2012. Apparently, Sonia and Manmohan both opposed this but they weren’t firm enough and Pranab went through with it anyway.

    – Things turned out as expected, businesses got spooked and started having second thoughts about investing in India, only way to get rid of Pranab was to kick him upstairs to presidency.

    – Chidambaram was brought in again for damage control from 2012 onwards, turns out there was far too much to undo and UPA-2 ended with the debacle of 2014.

    – Modi-1 came in and started the reform process again, that is until 2015, when Rahul Gandhi made that inordinately stupid and damaging comment of “suit-boot ki sarkar”. The BJP chickened out of braver reforms and here we go back to the long-drawn tradition of not doing anything unless there’s no choice in the matter. What Modi should have done was double down on that comment and tell the masses that it was the way out of poverty.

    – Then came demonetization in 2016 and severely undermined the purchasing confidence of average consumers and mom-and-pop store level businessmen. It didn’t affect the people at the top much since most of their investments were in land and stocks. Ended up damping demand across multiple sectors a long way.

    – When GST showed up from 2017 onwards, it significantly increased the compliance required for businesses since it wasn’t simplified, with thousands of lines of rates for different goods. The rates were complex enough that kirana shop owners have a hard time keeping track of them for many similar products, and there lay a risk of them getting blackmailed and booked for absence of knowledge. How would a regular guy running a small shop keep up with all that information? CAs were celebrating across the board as they’ll never be out of work, that wouldn’t be necessary in the first place had the govt. brought in a universal rate.

    The aggregate of all the above came home to roost and has led to the slowdown from 2018 onward. The change in the methodology of calculation of GDP by the govt. didn’t help and only raised suspicion among economists and statisticians. If they don’t have accurate data for the current situation how do they set policies? Her book should be a good read.

    1. Her book is too kind on UPA overall not just on chiddy. Mostly she separates chiddy-manmohan ( she credits Singh for 90s reform than Rao) from Sonia-Mukherjee as if they were from different govts. It’s like separating Amit shah work from modi.

      On NDA she has hardly anything to say positive about, even though Modi pushed twice the economic reforms in half the time Singh did in his entire tenure, which was a grand zero.

  5. Suggestion for future Browncast guest, my friend Mamnun Khan, a British Bangladeshi who wrote a book considering how Muslims in Britain (and the West) should seek to live their lives and organise themselves away from the narrow, ethnocentric terms on which Islam is currently used here.

    https://beingbritishmuslims.com/

  6. Nimrata advocated for India to have permanent seat on UNSC. She would be good for a BJP led India, basically the opposite of Mr. Khalistani across the border in Kaneda

    Nikki over Jiggy

  7. Just a general comment on the state of journalism…

    Been following the recent white on white gun violence at the BLM protests in Kenosha, is a interesting case study in our post-truth journalism landscape.

    Full video compilations from multiple sources and analysis available easily online show what happened. There are some random youtube channels that have detailed relatively objective analysis.

    Yet the journalism coverage is completely, almost certainly intentionally, misleading on all sides.

    I think in an information rich world with ubiquitous cameras, and easy online information sharing. Print and tv journalism have no value in terms of actually informing the audience on events.

    The curation aspect of journalism has been largely replaced by social media algorithms as well. Although the algorithms are not currently designed to maximize happiness for the audience so there is some opportunity there, but I think more for a non-ad driven tech start up than human curation.

    Long form analysis and carefully researched content has massive potential and tremendous value.

    But the is no need to save pre-internet journalism.

    In the meantime, I think the issues is people still trust the professional news media way too much (due to historical inertia).

    It should be accorded a similar level of respect and value as a TikTok video.

  8. I wonder if there is recent data on South Asian voting patterns in the US. Most polling information disaggregates information on minority voting only down to the level of “Black,” “Hispanic,” and “Asian.” At any rate, what’s not enough appreciated is that if Trump wins this year, it may largely be the result of a continuing rise in his approval among minorities.

    In 2016, according to exit polls, Trump increased his share of the main minority group votes by 2-3 percentage points compared to Romney, while his share of the white vote was actually down a little. There’s a fair amount of evidence that the same is happening on an even larger scale this year. Which would not be too surprising. Minorities tend to be law-and-order enthusiasts, while minority businesses are likely to have been the hardest hit by the rioting. For more on this see:

    https://naimisha_forest.silvrback.com/will-law-and-order-minorities-put-trump-over-the-top-in-2020

  9. “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth”

    The Manchester United captain Harry Maguire, who is appealing against a conviction in Greece for assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery, cites Buddha as an authority.

    1. “ The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.”

      -Rumi ??

  10. VeeVee, after genetics and linguistics we are moving to mythology. Pls have a look two wiki articles in English. I should read it again to check if they are correct although just quick skimming shows me that there are pretty ok. I invite all Indians who know Hindu mythology to have a look and find similarities between ancient Serbian (here presented as Slavic) mythology and Hindu mythology.

    We all should express our respect to our ancestors, this is our difference from the movement which immediately forget their dead, not mentioning their ancient ancestors.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deities_of_Slavic_religion

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavic_paganism

    If you have time, have a look 5 min video of (performance) of Serbian pagan invitations of rain (by ‘dodole’= girls dressed in leaves) and compare this with your videos with Hindu invitations of rain.

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

    1. Tell me more about the reemergence of “Slavic Native Faith” How big is it ? Wiki entries are pretty dull and boring and i have come to doubt contested wiki pages .

  11. So MY wants an elect a new people billion, not an ourselves and our posterity billion?

    Perhaps I have misunderstood and he has a plan to get birth rates back up?

  12. Thoughts on Malmo:

    1) Razib will school me on statistics and call out my innumeracy.
    2) The fine line between bitter-truth and Islamophobia has to be maintained.

    Sweden+Norway+Netherlands+Italy+UK+Germany in particular and Entire Europe in general is in trouble. Myopic people will make false equivalences and point out other types of riots, idiots will make concessions to maintain ‘peace’ but there is only one direction things will go, especially after maybe two-three generations. I have been with Turks whose grandparents immigrated in 60s-70s to Germany and who are more devout, insular and anti-assimilation than anyone. Bus-stops and train stations in Belgium, teeming with swindling refugees, reminded me of Indian thoroughfares.

    I don’t have much love for UK/Germans but Scandinavians didn’t even have any bad Karma. Give it time the costs of not having children and electing outright-stupid people (pretending to be naive) will be apparent. Only the sensible countries like Poland, Romania, Russia will endure.

    The rue of thumb is ‘Never take refugees’. My friends from Jammu say that situation with 40K Rohingyas in Jammu is very volatile, riots will break out someday.

      1. Glacial and ground water situation is really grim, add to it the extreme apathy of Indians on meaningful environmental causes, I see a calamity of the order of IVC extinction coming.

        Ganga looks so wasted and Yamuna is almost dry in peak-pre monsoon summer. I had met a gentleman who had a PhD from MIT in water-management (from 1970s), now his company does groundwater measurements for UP government. He said that the situation is out of hand and hundreds of millions will suffer. My own family people (whether farmers or city-dwellers) have such wanton disregard for water conservation with illegal bore-wells being the norm. Illegal mining of riverbeds, felling of tress, no-new plantations…. the only hope is the rapid urbanization of India which will reduce fertility and allow nature to reclaim farm-land.

        Here are some hopeful news:

        https://scroll.in/article/971360/years-of-collective-effort-pay-off-as-chennais-adyar-river-comes-back-to-life

        https://thelogicalindian.com/environment/meet-the-man-who-cleaned-160-km-long-river-single-handedly-without-any-govt-help/

        **Shaming Pakistan out of genuine concern**

        The Karakoram Highway is literally built on glaciers! The big dams being planned are 1950s vintage water-management stuff. These people are going to suffer immeasurably if nothing is done to stop such crazy projects. 2-3 drought spells and it would be check mate. I almost wept (mostly for Thari-Hindus) when I saw the madness that is the big ass coal mine. Such craziness for lignite coal! fucking Lignite! the poop among-st fuels. And then there are the ‘experts’ like that idiot Samar Mubarakmand and the ass-wipe, chaste Urdu speaking expats going on and on and on about nonsense.

        We all are going to suffer really badly.

  13. Ya know, If I had real cheap power that just came out the sky, I would just move water from where it is to where I wanted it. Think bigger, it’s the 21st century.

    1. Actually, Nikola Tesla found the way how to get free energy from the nature, but it was disguised by large corporations. He also invented the wireless transfer of energy similar to radio waves (he also invented the radar). If you are really serious in your intention you can organise the BP tech brain trust and revive these projects (it may help that Tesla is r1a as hundreds of millions of Indians and some of BP admins, too).

      1. @Milan Todorovic
        We can all have an R1a party: Let us call Iranians and Pakistanis too. On a serious note: Wireless power transfer is hobbled by scattering, reflection of light waves as well as absorption losses in the receiving medium. What we need is a material science revolution; a prime candidate is metamaterials.

        1. Yep, we already had a party before your time organised by SASBA (South Asian Serbian Brotherhood Association). There are quite a few BR1 Pundits around including adminishka. You are welcome to join, it is open for all with a good will. However, there is an old dilemma – nurture or nature? The nurture is stronger. If you remove someone one half of brain and inject cancerogenic taqiya in the other half, neither genes nor any mansion with servants can help there.

  14. Too bad there are no Indian or Indian American Evelyn Waughs. There is rich material in American politics for satire. Nikki Haley and Kamala Harris are great fodder for satire. Nikki Haley fakes whiteness and Kamala Harris fakes blackness to succeed in politics. Both Nikki Haley and Kamala Harris use the racism card against political opponents.

    1. \Nikki Haley fakes whiteness and Kamala Harris fakes blackness to succeed in politics.\

      That is a harsh and cynical take on both. Let us take them at what they say they are and what their policies are. BTW you become americanised when you leave your ancestral identity behind and adapt to the emerging oppurtunities

      1. So, Kamala Harris ‘fakes’ blackness though she is half black and half dark brown. What about Obama? And how does Nikki Haley fake whiteness; overdo the face powder?

    2. https://www.economist.com/united-states/2020/08/22/americas-black-upper-class-and-black-lives-matter

      Lawrence otis graham recalls where he first met Kamala Harris, last summer, in Martha’s Vineyard. It was at the holiday home of Spike Lee, a film director, who held a $1,500-a-head fundraiser for the woman who is now number two on the Democratic ticket. “She is the new Barack Obama for us,” says the thrilled Mr Graham, an author and property lawyer from New York. By “us” Mr Graham means African-Americans, and in particular the glitziest end of African-American high society.

      Top end of the US Black society thinks Kamala is black; who are we to question that.

  15. https://www.livemint.com/opinion/columns/ordinary-people-are-a-lot-smarter-than-made-out-to-be-11598798855971.html

    Ordinary people are a lot smarter than made out to be

    “The abstract fields of media, academics and art constantly make assumptions that the collective intelligence of humanity is very low. For example, we are told that Indians don’t deserve swanky public utilities because they are so poor they will deface or pilfer them; that most people like mindless cinema and dim books, and that without violent cops the whole nation would collapse into barbaric anarchy. Yet, every time Indians were offered a high-quality service, they have respected and cared for it.

    Also, it is India’s vast semi-literate masses that have sustained electoral democracy, simply by going out to vote during the years when the elite longed for “a benign dictator”; and India’s masses, for all their electoral flaws, have constantly improved politics. In fact, if it were not for the outsized influence of India’s middle class over the media, the poor may have improved the quality of politicians even more. And it is the vast masses who quietly bore the brunt of “demonetization” without breaking into riots even when their own money was denied to them for many weeks. And, years later, when covid broke out, they maintained order even as a government made confused and unreasonable demands of them. “

  16. a Ph.D study on medievel Tamil temple in Quanzhou in Fujian. It was built by the Tamil merchent community

    https://www.rishalee.com/work-1#/tamil-merchants-in-india-and-china/

    the reseach also analyzes the distribution, content, and context of Tamil merchant sponsored inscriptions within the Indian Ocean circuit, focusing on the modern regions of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh.

    https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ancient-links-between-tamil-traders-and-a-chinese-port-city/story-3jFGUOd4dmz7RHvNNVIEtK.html

  17. @Bhimrao
    If it is not personal, can I give you a piece of advice regarding career after Postdoc in the US? Some of the people I know have passed that stage; getting good advice is, therefore: important.

    From what I have seen, Professorship experience at any level in a university abroad is valued highly in India: Recruiters regularly visit worldwide campuses and select faculties/postdocs that are willing to relocate to India. After 3 or so years of Assistant Professorship, e.g., in the US, you can join as an Associate Professor at any IIT; the biggest advantage is that you don’t have to suck up to anybody then. As far as I know, Professorship at an IIT is pretty good.

    If you become a Professor at an IIT, please don’t forget about me.

    1. @timepass

      “If it is not personal, can I give you a piece of advice regarding career after Postdoc in the US?”

      I would really appreciate any insights. Thank you. I am at crossroads: academia vs industry. Pros of Academia:
      1) I have two promising ideas that even someone as cynical as me would give a try.
      2) I just love teaching and helping students. I think I am a 8/10 teacher.
      3) More daring ideas can be pursued as a tenured professor.

      Pros of Industry:
      1) No one cares about my academic research anyways. All the big stuff happens in Google/Amazon/Tesla…
      2) Industry will pay about 1.5 times academia.
      3) No research proposal BS and utterly random NSF shit.

      “Some of the people I know have passed that stage; getting good advice is, therefore: important.”

      Agreed. Please keep the info flowing.

      “From what I have seen Professorship experience at any level in a university abroad is valued highly in India; Recruiters regularly visit worldwide campuses and select faculties that are willing to relocate to India.”

      A while ago I had attended talks by people from IISc who were recruiting. One of my acquaintances recently joined IIT D as an Assistant Professor. One of my colleague might be joining some old IIT in the coming years. The things that bother me about being a professor in India:
      1) A large percentage of professors there by and large suck. There is indifference and lethargy all around, men without passion or soul. I had given a (informal) talk at one of these places and there was a US-return 30 year old guy who went on and on about how he was chilling out in IIT and not worrying too much.
      2) No good graduate student will stay behind and I will never have the heart to stop her in India knowing that she will do much better abroad.
      3) Money is terrible. I could have made 12 LPA right out of college. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
      4) No Lab space and CSIR type funding nonsense.

      “After 3 or so years of Assistant Professorship, e.g., in the US, you can join as an Associate Professor at any IIT; the biggest advantage is that you don’t have to suck up to anybody then.”

      Sucking up is a big problem, so many of the professors and administrators are products of sucking-up and institutional in-breeding (PhD and Tenure at same place) the competition is fierce because of large number of applicants (although I think reasonably competent people get through in atleast one of the old 5 IITs). I have my contacts and referees who will hopefully back me if I ever choose to apply.

      “If you become a Professor at an IIT, please don’t forget about me.”

      I am a long long loooong way off, right now it seems industry is the right place given how random everything seems to be. btw what do you want with a professor at IIT? Are you one?

    2. @BhimRao
      I am not a professor; long way off from it actually. I have had a life with ups and downs. I do have publication experience, however, and I have seen academia quite closely. Also, it is always good to build relationships — a thing I suck at, must get better at it — and a well qualified and learned person is always good to have as a friend.

      As you already know, choosing a career is difficult and no profession is a cakewalk.

      Routes Possible for an Indian PostDoc from abroad

      1. Industry
      A lot of people in my friend/acquaintance circle are Professors/PhDs. A case in point: I know a person who graduated from Stanford CS as a Ph.D. in the 1990s — originally a bachelor’s from India; he worked in some companies, then joined Google; on the way, he became a US citizen. Right now, he is practically unemployed due to rampant ageism in CS with personal circumstances playing a part in it. He had left academia as he did not get a good offer for Professorship.
      Moral: Technical degrees are no doubt useful, but after some time in the industry, you have to move to management — a transition that is difficult for a Ph.D. — or try to get a permanent research job if possible; the job for which PhDs are trained for. If you decide to go to industry, please be ready for the rough and tumble experience.

      2. Academic
      My advice is as you like teaching: If you feel you have reached a wall, become a professor asap in the US; use the opportunity there to climb up by publishing in high-quality papers. You will also have the independence to pursue your interests, and research students to support and interact with you. Discipline and hard work can push you up.

      Now, IITs are no doubt a hard nut to crack — filled with jealousy, bureaucracy, incompetent staff, and whatnot. They are probably going to introduce tenure track [1]; be ready for a struggle. Nonetheless, it is possible to be wildly successful there by following these steps:

      How to navigate life in IIT as a Professor
      Work Environment advice
      > Secure a lab as soon as you arrive. If not, convert your office into a lab. People have done this and performed.
      > Hire/get a competent technical staff. Train and invest in them. A qualified technician is worth his weight in gold — in my opinion. He can not only help you in research but also guide students in your absence.
      The best way to do this is by first cultivating his technical skills, and then getting him projects where he can make money along with his job. It is your job to figure out that he stays motivated and happy.
      > Ask students to solve research problems as homework; encourage them by helping them publish papers.
      > Document everything so that the research is easily reproducible — in my humble opinion and oft-overlooked but most critical skill. Try to develop a culture of competitive collaboration between different classes of students.

      Social advice
      > Well senior professors would like to benefit from you, and you cannot totally avoid it. Make the best of it by using their contacts to further yourself. You can easily get funding too this way. I think IITs give new faculty 50 lakhs to 1 cr to set up his lab.
      > Collaborate with faculty in the US/any other place (some collaborate even with Hong Kong); send students abroad; visit a university in summers and do a research project there; etc.
      > Try to join at Associate Professor.

      Entrepreneurship
      > There are always technologies that are close to commercialization; master and promote them.
      > In fact, as an academic you will have ample time to do this. As you are in the US, you must have seen how faculty do this. Try to apply the same concepts in India. However, India needs the whole package — skill, knowledge, management, capital, and training.

      I hope you decide to come to India as a Professor. You will be in a privileged position to help students here. Further, I would like to tell you this: There will be students who have low grades but want to get into a good university abroad; inspire them to do research. The collaboration with them will be the best thing you ever did.

      Also, there is a guy in IITR who has developed a can that runs on water [4]; he is a Btech there and went on to do a Ph.D. from IITR. There are others like that at various IITs too.

      So, how to attract and retain students (I really hope you do this):

      1. Remain in touch with them after graduation. Not everyone will have a stellar career, e.g., some may give civil service and have a setback. For them doing research then becomes very important to go abroad. After some time in the industry, a lot of people want to do research and develop exciting products. You can provide space for them. No matter who comes, remember grader don’t matter but passion does.
      2. Give them exciting projects where they can be in charge; just mentor them. IITs have tech incubators now, and you can encourage students to fully utlilize them.

      I know it is a lot to ask, but a determined individual can make a difference, you just have to be social enough to achieve it. If you wish to know more, do ask.

      References and links to go through
      1. https://journosdiary.com/2019/10/05/iit-tenure-track-india/
      2. http://giridharmadras.blogspot.com/2010/07/pinned-post-for-prospective-faculty-to.html
      3. https://dsanghi.blogspot.com/2013/11/hiring-of-foreign-faculty-by-iits.html
      4. https://www.businesstoday.in/technology/news/car-that-runs-on-water-iit-roorkee-students-try-to-achieve-the-impossible/story/284896.html

    3. “After 3 or so years of Assistant Professorship, e.g., in the US, you can join as an Associate Professor at any IIT;”

      This is quite simply, utterly false.

      1. Here is the IITK hiring advertisement; it requires atleast 3 years of Assistant Professorship experience. Also, @BhimRao said that he can join as a faculty in the US. I believe he will perform very well there, from what he told about himself; he should be able to get good publications there.

        Regarding IIT recruitment, if you meet Associate Professor hiring standards, you will be hired. You can even file RTI too if you want. For exceptional faculty, IIT will even reduce its requirements.
        https://www.iitk.ac.in/dofa/rolling-advertisement

        1. @Vikram
          Here is the quote from the above advertisement

          Associate Professor: 06 years teaching/research/industrial experience of which at least three years should be at the level of Assistant Professor or equivalent.

          The advice that I gave @BhimRao is true; up to him to believe though. He has PostDoc experience of 4-5 years; he can become an assistant professor at a US University, gain the 3 years experience and apply at the Associate Professor level at IIT. He also needs good publications — which a person with his academic background will easily manage. @BhimRao please mail recruiters at any IIT and get verified info. from them, or ask them the next time they visit your university; it will help you immensely in deciding what to do.

          I think joining at Associate Professor level is a very good option. Foreign experience is highly prized there. He can even file RTI to confirm what I said; I encourage him to do this so that he finds the exact situation. Furthermore, all IITs have similar recruitment procedures. @BhimRao if you feel the recruiters did not do the correct thing if you ever apply for a job at an IIT, you can use RTI to get info. and file a case against them.

          Also, @Vikram, if all this is wrong, please correct me, it will help a person who is trying to decide what to do. Also, do add something to what I have posted. My only goal in advising him is that a learned and capable person comes to India and contributes to its development; my only wish is that my country prospers. The info. that I gave him is wasted on me, but he can use it. He can contribute to the nation’s development, much more than I ever could.

      2. @Vikram
        Here is the quote from the above advertisement (https://iitk.ac.in/dofa/rolling-advertisement)

        Associate Professor: 06 years teaching/research/industrial experience of which at least three years should be at the level of Assistant Professor or equivalent.

        The advice that I gave @BhimRao is true; up to him to believe though. For exceptional candidates, IIT will even reduce its requirements. Regarding @BhimRao, he has PostDoc experience of 4-5 years; he can become an assistant professor at a US University, gain the 3 years experience and apply at the Associate Professor level at IIT. He also needs good publications — which a person with his academic background will easily manage. @BhimRao please mail recruiters at any IIT and get verified info. from them, or ask them the next time they visit your university; it will help you immensely in deciding what to do.

        I think joining at Associate Professor level is a very good option. Foreign experience is highly prized there. He can even file RTI to confirm what I said; I encourage him to do this so that he finds the exact situation. Furthermore, all IITs have similar recruitment procedures. @BhimRao if you feel the recruiters did not do the correct thing if you ever apply for a job at an IIT, you can use RTI to get info. and file a case against them.

        Also, @Vikram, if all this is wrong, please correct me, it will help a person who is trying to decide what to do. Also, do add something to what I have posted. My only goal in advising him is that a learned and capable person comes to India and contributes to its development; my only wish is that my country prospers. The info. that I gave him is wasted on me, but he can use it. He can contribute to the nation’s development, much more than I ever could.

        1. Hi timepass, you cannot be appointed as a faculty at any IIT without a series of interviews. The listings on the advertisement spell out minimum requirements for application, not for appointment.

          Regarding the point of someone coming back to India to help the nation. I think India is well past that stage of development. Appointment to faculty positions in India is quite competitive, I know folks from my school in the US who did not get a position in IIT Bombay EE department. Indian academia has come quite far, there is a German who is an Associate Prof at IISER Bhopal !
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qARgX3vD_lo&t=3m10s

          I have also come across Koreans, Anglos and Iranians who are faculty at Indian schools.

        2. @Vikram
          Thanks for the info. What you say is true — India has progressed; faculty quality has improved; I think at least 3 rounds of interviews are carried out for selection. Furthermore, recently, a person whom I know cleared all rounds for an assistant professor’s job, but he was not finally appointed because there was only one seat; everything happens, and nothing is certain. Now, if not old IIT, there is always new IIT.

          The thing is: Life is always a gamble. If @BhimRao leaves academia, he can never again get a chance for becoming a professor; he can always join the industry if things don’t work out. Is applying at Assistant or Associate Professor better for him? I don’t know the exact answer: Only he can tell whether he is up to the challenge. My recommendation is: Try to collect as much info. as possible, and then decide. If he is passionate, the world is his backyard.

          If he performs well at the Assistant Professor level in the US, he does have a chance. The factors that I have heard to influence selection at Associate Professor level:

          1. No. of PhDs he has completed and papers published (please ascertain the exact details).
          2. Some preference for internal candidates (it used to happen to some extent). However, if you are really good, the interview committee cannot reject you. After all, IITs are public institutions.
          3. If he can bring external funding (at any level of applying) or new faculty contacts, he will be selected hands down.
          4. New research he will carry out.

          Will it happen? Only he and time can tell. Rather than just focusing on the US, he can even try for positions in Canada, Australia, Norway, and New Zealand, etc. as a faculty; he may be able to secure funding more easily in that case. Also, recruiters who visit abroad are much more willing to select than interviewers in India.

          1. Correction: “1. No. of PhDs he has completed” -> “1. No. of PhD students he has guided successfully”

  18. @BhimRao
    I am not a professor; long way off from it actually. I have had a life with ups and downs. I do have publication experience, however, and I have seen academia quite closely. Also, it is always good to build relationships — a thing I suck at, must get better at it — and a well qualified and learned person is always good to have as a friend.

    As you already know, choosing a career is difficult and no profession is a cakewalk.

    Routes Possible for an Indian PostDoc from abroad

    1. Industry
    A lot of people in my friend/acquaintance circle are Professors/PhDs. A case in point: I know a person who graduated from Stanford CS as a Ph.D. in the 1990s — originally a bachelor’s from India; he worked in some companies, then joined Google; on the way, he became a US citizen. Right now, he is practically unemployed due to rampant ageism in CS with personal circumstances playing a part in it. He had left academia as he did not get a good offer for Professorship.
    Moral: Technical degrees are no doubt useful, but after some time in the industry, you have to move to management — a transition that is difficult for a Ph.D. — or try to get a permanent research job if possible; the job for which PhDs are trained for. If you decide to go to industry, please be ready for the rough and tumble experience.

    2. Academic
    My advice is as you like teaching: If you feel you have reached a wall, become a professor asap in the US; use the opportunity there to climb up by publishing in high-quality papers. You will also have the independence to pursue your interests, and research students to support and interact with you. Discipline and hard work can push you up.

    Now, IITs are no doubt a hard nut to crack — filled with jealousy, bureaucracy, incompetent staff, and whatnot. They are probably going to introduce tenure track; be ready for a struggle. Nonetheless, it is possible to be wildly successful there by following these steps:

    How to navigate life in IIT as a Professor
    Work Environment advice
    > Secure a lab as soon as you arrive. If not, convert your office into a lab. People have done this and performed.
    > Hire/get a competent technical staff. Train and invest in them. A qualified technician is worth his weight in gold — in my opinion. He can not only help you in research but also guide students in your absence.
    The best way to do this is by first cultivating his technical skills, and then getting him projects where he can make money along with his job. It is your job to figure out that he stays motivated and happy.
    > Ask students to solve research problems as homework; encourage them by helping them publish papers.
    > Document everything so that the research is easily reproducible — in my humble opinion and oft-overlooked but most critical skill. Try to develop a culture of competitive collaboration between different classes of students.

    Social advice
    > Well senior professors would like to benefit from you, and you cannot totally avoid it. Make the best of it by using their contacts to further yourself. You can easily get funding too this way. I think IITs give new faculty 50 lakhs to 1 cr to set up his lab.
    > Collaborate with faculty in the US/any other place (some collaborate even with Hong Kong); send students abroad; visit a university in summers and do a research project there; etc.
    > Try to join at Associate Professor.

    Entrepreneurship
    > There are always technologies that are close to commercialization; master and promote them.
    > In fact, as an academic you will have ample time to do this. As you are in the US, you must have seen how faculty do this. Try to apply the same concepts in India. However, India needs the whole package — skill, knowledge, management, capital, and training.

    I hope you decide to come to India as a Professor. You will be in a privileged position to help students here. Further, I would like to tell you this: There will be students who have low grades but want to get into a good university abroad; inspire them to do research. The collaboration with them will be the best thing you ever did.

    Also, there is a guy in IITR who has developed a can that runs on water; he is a Btech there and went on to do a Ph.D. from IITR. There are others like that at various IITs too.

    So, how to attract and retain students (I really hope you do this):

    1. Remain in touch with them after graduation; a simple happy new year mail suffices with a message that you are there for them in case they need any career related help. Not everyone will have a stellar career, e.g., some may give civil service and have a setback. For them doing research then becomes very important to go abroad. After some time in the industry, a lot of people want to do research and develop exciting products. You can provide space for them. No matter who comes, remember grades don’t matter, passion does.
    2. Give them exciting projects where they can be in charge; just mentor them. IITs have tech incubators now, and you can encourage students to fully utlilize them.

    I know it is a lot to ask, but a determined individual can make a difference, you just have to be social enough to achieve it. If you wish to know more, do ask.

  19. Shinzo Abe’s passing from Japan’s political scene is an earthquake whose magnitude is not full understood yet. Abe was slowly moving Japan in the direction of taking responsibility for its own defense and away from dependence on the US. One way of doing this was to forge closer ties with India and Australia, and perhaps Indonesia over time.

    Yes, China dwarfs all of them put together right now in terms of military power, but close cooperation could have evened the odds over time.

    With the departure of Abe, Japan’s foreign policy initiatives will go on hold, creating space for China to maneuver. Modi’s equation with Abe was particularly strong and over time we may have seen more Japanese investment in India. This could now go on the back burner.

    1. The most exotic theory I heard was that the Thugs were Muslims/ex-Muslims who wanted to return to goddess-worshipping but having no legitimate way of pursuing this – they had to retreat to the edges and perform their livelihood in secret.

      I heard this from a screenplay dissertation of a movie, where Naseruddin Shah plays a Kali worshipping Captain Nemo, the supposed creme-de-la-creme of Thug society.

      1. Are there any podcasts in between then?
        Imma pledge some money on patreon but i dont have constant revenue stream or in other words i am unemployed.

  20. i see lots of papers related vedic studies on academia and 95% are from europeans. what brings modern europeans to this fields now a days? where are the indians??

    1. @Brown

      There is a upwelling of interest in Indic areas over the last 10-15 years in European academia. Some of the countries (France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands ) are assiduously cultivating India and her arts as a counterweight to African/Arab cultures.

      The great attraction to European elites is that Indian Kultur is exactly similar to their classical past.

    1. Whatsup with commies professing free market views for Indian economy, while state control economy for their own state?

  21. it appears political leadership in india have given full free hand to army to take local decisions w.r.t.chinese forces. there are reports of one indian ( actually a tibetan) killed and two chinese killed and 45 chinese captured.

  22. https://phys.org/news/2020-09-mathematical-method-climate-fall-ancient.amp

    A Rochester Institute of Technology researcher developed a mathematical method that shows climate change likely caused the rise and fall of an ancient civilization. In an article recently featured in the journal Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, Nishant Malik, assistant professor in RIT’s School of Mathematical Sciences, outlined the new technique he developed and showed how shifting monsoon patterns led to the demise of the Indus Valley Civilization,

    1. This is very good information and very likely was the main cause of the ending of IVC. It had to be some ‘big’ cause. This type of scientific information is very valuable, and the historical science pretty much ignored some objective causes and events which could explain some things.

      Otherwise, they would not write nonsense that one ‘ancient’ group conquered the world without having one horse (which were plane carriers or battle tanks of the ancient worlds).

      Or, that the ‘cradle’ of civilisations, Mesopotamia, was a salty desert when thousands of years earlier Vinca had developed agriculture. Many of these things related to climate and astronomy were explained by Milutin Milankovic who was declared one of the greatest world scientists.

      What about Aryans? Why they came to India considering that they were not some spoiled tourists. There is one explanation which maybe wasn’t the only cause for their migration.

      “So, the Aryans from Arkaim went to India some 3600 years ago. Why did they do this? What make them go there?

      The answer to this becomes clear if we look at the history of global catastrophes. Prior to 3600 years ago happened one of the largest eruptions in history of humanity – the eruption of the volcano of Santorini (or Thera), in the Aegean Sea. This explosion wiped off the face of earth the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete. Some 60 cubic kilometres (!) of ash were blown into the atmosphere, which has led to a sharp and prolonged decline in temperature over the whole earth.

      That’s what witnessed the rings of trees in Europe and North America. This is four times the ash than in monstrous explosion of the volcano Krakatoa in 1883. The sun has been clouded for long time. This explosion was followed by strong tectonic shifts that were felt across the planet.

    2. The previous comment was also from MT.

      Highly accurate dating of the eruption, with the methods of carbon isotope C-14, show the date of 3625 +15 years ago, the tree rings {Dendro-Chronology) – 3638-3639 years, and the method of ice dating – 3654 +20 years ago. If we draw the average of all this dates, it turns out 3640 years ago.

      Most likely that is the time when the Aryans left Arkaim.

      It becomes clear why the Aryans in the Indian Vedas dedicated so much attention to the absence of sunrise and long nights. It was this that mislead the Indian scientists of the Tilak caste, at the beginning of the last century, who thought that these descriptions of the Aryans supposedly represent living conditions in the Arctic. Hence the known exotic and erroneous “Arctic theory” on the Aryan origin and the origin of the whole of humanity.

      Aryans who were so much devoted to a measured life, given by the higher forces, who carried so much attention to rituals, as can be seen from their graves, became uneasy. This extreme discomfort is displayed in the “Mahabharata”, through the Aryans so characteristic narrative, allegorical form.
      Such are the causes and history of the Aryans crossing to India. In the opinion of some scholars it was one part of Aryans from India headed to the West and to East Iran and that’s why the East Iranian languages are closer to “Indo-European”.

      But most Aryans probably moved to Iran directly from Central Asia, where they lived at least 500 years, and went to the East Iran in the early 2nd millennium BCE, 3900-3800 year ago. It fits perfectly within the concept of Aryan languages. Matches also the bulk of the Aryan haplogroup R1a1 located in Eastern Iran and makes about 20% of the population of Iran, which is predominantly of Middle Eastern haplogroup I2. In west of Iran share of the Aryan haplogroup R1a1 is minimal and amounts to only 3%. So all that stories of the ancient “Slovens who spoke the Iranian languages” are short of any foundation. There is no significant direct relationship with the Old Slovens in Western Iran. Only to the east, and with India. That’s why the Western Iranian languages are so young, dating from the middle of the 1st millennium BCE.

      That’s how DNA genealogy puts in its place and merge into a single system all the uncoordinated and conflicting snippets of knowledge from history, anthropology, linguistics, which apparently makes a system.

        1. What is Iranian (=Aryan? how old?), what is Balto-Slavic (who, when and where spoke this?), what is Sanskrit (=Aryan language?). Which period is considered in previous? Which language was spoken in Europe at that time? Which conclusion can be made from all previous?

    3. @NM

      Thank you for posting this. I speculated earlier on why did Indra, Lord of the Pantheon in the Vedas lose his position to Vishnu in the Puranas. It had to be the climate, especially the 4100 yBP aridification event.

      Indra being the welder of the Thunderbolt and the bringer of rains failed in his primary duty and became erratic.

  23. Agnikul Cosmos bags TiE50 Award
    https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/agnikul-cosmos-bags-tie50-award/article32524215.ece/amp/

    IIT Madras-incubated Agnikul Cosmos, which provides a dedicated launch vehicle for smaller satellites at a lower cost, has been conferred with TiE50 award. The award recognizes top technology and technology-enabled start-ups across the world, who will be awarded at its flagship conference TiECON 2020 at TiE’s Silicon Valley.

    In a press statement, TiE Chennai, which nominated Agnikul Cosmos said, the Chennai-based start-up was also among the top 10 out of the 50 start-ups selected to pitch its ideas to Tim Draper, the legendary American venture capital investor from the Draper’s family in the popular US reality show ‘Meet the Drapers`.

    1. ISRO has to work carefully here. Its conduct after the crash of its lander was not great, the Failure Analysis Committee report has still not been made public. The organization apparently has a very top down leadership style and working culture. We tend to look at it with rose tinted glasses, but at the end of the day it is an Indian government organization staffed predominantly by men who are brought up in a hierarchical culture.

      1. The greatest space power in history was doubly hierarchical, first by Tsarist overhang and second by communist structure. What is your point?

        Flat organisations can make good TV ads and some IT stuff like websites.

        The longest surviving largest public monument was built by a tremendous hierarchy. Hierarchy provides scale and resources for precision tasks. Believe it or not, ISRO hosts some of the finest OB theorists.

  24. China wants to decouple from the US as far as technology is concerned. So, it is going for Tech self-sufficiency in production and innovation
    https://www.wsj.com/video/tech-decoupling-china-race-to-end-its-reliance-on-the-us/0BFA6A39-D394-4E83-8835-A8F6BDE62370.html
    two parellal ecosystems will emerge in the next few years. So far the internet has been as open as possible with as few restrictions as possible for content, producers and consumers. Chinese vision of internet and technology in general will be to serve China and CPP grip on it.

Comments are closed.