To the victors go the glory!

I have written an introductory post (it’s free), Entering Steppelandia: pop. 7.7 billion, to a series of posts (mostly paid) that I will write about the Eurasian steppe. So I’m thinking and reading a lot about this topic. This is relevant to “Brown Pundits” because we subcontinental people have been stamped by the steppe.

First, there were the Indo-Aryans. About 15% of the ancestry of modern South Asians comes from these people (averaged across region and caste). Then there were the Iron Age Iranian pastoralists, Scythians, and assorted other related groups. There is no strong evidence right now of a major genetic impact, but I think the statistical power is not such that I can definitively ignore this possibility.

Finally, there are the Muslims. They had the least impact. But they are most reviled. Why?

They lost.  The lesson is to not lose. The rest is commentary.


65 Replies to “To the victors go the glory!”

  1. There is an explanation for the follies of Ashrafi Muslims. They have always been obsessed with Vi-Jay (victory over the other) rather than Jay (a self defined victory).

    They grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. The critical mistake was choosing Urdu as a national language. Had they learnt Persian and Arabic, they would have been the largest speakers of these languages in the core Muslim world, which they could have influenced and perhaps even dominated through sheer numbers. Persian and Arabic speaking countries are also much richer. Practically, all Urdu allows Pakistan to do is to understand some sappy old Bollywood songs.

    They also got some fantastic real estate, ample arable land and fresh water with relatively low population density. A great deep water port. But economically, they could never take off.

    1. Yes, they’ve overplayed the idea of urdu as a prestige language. People aren’t buying it, and not even because of islamphobia. Its the mawkish affected profundity that even a common person can percieve. Not saying there aren’t genuinely great works in it, I’ve heard great things from ppl who know better, but it doesn’t compensate for the BS

      1. Yes, all I hear are a bunch of rationalization for why its such a great, ‘sweet’ language. Similar arguments are made with regards to Hindi and ‘purity’. Not a single major work of literature has been composed in Urdu or Hindi. Bengali, Kannada and Marathi are in better shape in many important ways.

        1. How do you define “great work of literature”? I mean Urdu poetry is a level above Bengali or other Indian langauges just because of the strict rules regarding Nazm and Ghazl, or the usage of Ezafe or the wide bank of vocabulary choose from (Indic or PersoArabic). Ghalib, Mir, Faiz, Iqbal etc If you are talking about mythology, Urdu’s greatest work would be Tilism e Hoshruba. If you are talking about literature, Premchand, Manto, Faraz etc.. I havent read Hindi but Im told Hindi is even better for literature. If you are talking about mass media.. Bollywood dominates not Bengali or Kannada movie industry. I mean isn’t there some reason that even the British despite starting off from Bengal still thought this was a language more suitable to function as official langauge? All this without even touching the religious works produced in both Urdu and Hindi which are far greater than any other Indian langauge.

          1. You’re overthinking. This website is a mostly bunch of hindu nationalist (read extremists) who hate anything muslim. So a language like urdu seems tasteless to them. Though beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. And most indians do find urdu sweet, which is why people still flock to listen shayari.

            Always remember the person behind their comments and their ideology. That makes things easier to understand.

          2. The low esteem related to Hindi and Urdu has to do with the mass nature of the language. In all regions of India, the elite still went on championing their regional language , that led to this misconception in India that regional language are ‘superior’ to Hindi and Urdu. A bit like Sindhi vs Urdu, or Pashto vs Urdu in Pakistan.

            With Urdu somewhat the Urdu elite still championed it, but with Hindi, the Hindi elite in India seceded from the language and championed English. So what was left was Hindi being the language of the masses of North India. That;s the reason for Hindi=cattle class idea.

    2. ” Had they learnt Persian and Arabic, they would have been the largest speakers of these languages in the core Muslim world, which they could have influenced and perhaps even dominated through sheer numbers.”

      Urdu’s being the reason of Pakistan’s problem is exaggrated. There are many arabic speaking ethncities outside of Saudi’s whose population dwarf the Saudis but they are no closer to dominate the Islamic world. Similar would have happened with Persian.

      Homeland always remains as Homeland. And for Arabic (and Islam) it will always be Saudi. Just as it will be Persia for Persian and Shia Islam. No jhonny come lately, from a less-muslim region (despite the numbers) can displace that.

      1. Persia only became Shia majority during the Safavids. It was the hub of Sunni Hanafi Islam for centuries before it became Shia. Egypt was the hub of Shiasm before Iran (and to a lesser extent Iraq).

        As for Islam being an Arabic religion.. perhaps.. but arguably the Hadith Literature is more instrumental in Islamic law than even the Quran, because its much more expansive. And it was compiled during the Abbasids, and has a clear Persian character to it. Not only that, Imam Bukhari was a Persian, his collection of Hadith which is considered the most quoted and the most authentic amongst all Sunni Muslims, Arab or non-Arabs both.

        1. I am not debating historicity of how much Islam or Arabic is perisan influenced. Or even Iran was Sunni majority or not. What matters is today, or for the arguement being made that had Arabic/persian replaced Urdu, Pakistan would have been better off.
          So events mostly after 1940s

          It is foolishness to think that any ethncity can displace the Saudis from the top of Arabic/Islam totem pole just becuase they have higher numbers. For a lay muslim , Arabic ≠ Persian and Saudi;s are centre of Islam. Other stuff are just details.

          1. Well the ‘Najadi’ Arabs holding power over the peninsula today were never really considered top ethnicity anywhere in the Muslim world until the oil boom of the late 20th century. The Hejazi Arabs, perhaps.. the only ones that are truly revered are the Syeds that had an exalted status in history especially due to the spread of Sufism.. other valued Arab lineages are from the first two Rashidun caliphs. Generally the general ”Qureysh” lineage has some clout (in my opinion its really insignificant).. But all other Arab lineages are not considered sacrosanct. So as an ethnic group, I have never heard that the Arabs are considered exalted. Arabic language? Yes, always. Modern Arabs in general? Nah.

            One of the reasons why Iqbal wrote most of his early pan-Islamic poetry and essays in Persian (he himself said he used Persian so that his audience would be the Islamic world), not Arabic because Arabic was not the language most spoken in the Muslim world. He switched fully to Urdu after abolishment of the Ottoman caliphate, signifying a resulting inward shift to the subcontinent where Urdu was the dominant language.

            As to the question whether Persian or Arabic would have been better for Pakistan than Urdu? I doubt it. Just from an ideological perspective, why be speak second class Farsi or second class Arabic with an accent, when you already have India’s ‘prestige’ language – Urdu.. so I think the elite got it right..

          2. It is foolishness to think that any ethncity can displace the Saudis from the top of Arabic/Islam totem pole just becuase they have higher numbers. For a lay muslim , Arabic ≠ Persian and Saudi;s are centre of Islam. Other stuff are just details.

            this is a feature of the 20th century. i know this sounds strange and unbelievable, but it’s true.

          3. I agree that the current status-quo is of recent origin. But the argument being made is if Pakistan been better off with Urdu or Arabic/Persian. Which is of recent origin too.

            Though i have have my doubts that anyone can really replace Arabs from the top. In their smaller cocoon every muslim ethincity might think they are top dogs, and bad mouth Arabs. But as long as they hold mecca and medina everyone will fall in place. That’s y there has never been an alternate ‘muslim bloc’ as much as Turkey or Iran try.

    3. This is a pretty misinformed post.

      //The critical mistake was choosing Urdu as a national language. Had they learnt Persian and Arabic, they would have been the largest speakers of these languages in the core Muslim world//

      Persian is a language in decline, infact it had declined considerably by late 20th century especially in India where it was replaced by the British with Urdu. By 1900 in Lahore, out of 13 newspapers dailies, 10 were in Urdu. By 1947, there were no Farsi language newspaper that I can think of circulating in Pakistan. So saying that Pakistan should have just adopted Farsi as it’s ”national language” is ridiculous when hardly anyone spoke it, nobody read it and the cultural link to Iran was non-existent at the time.

      You can say the same for Arabic. You could make a case for Arabic, but nobody but the religious scholars spoke Arabic. Arabic is also too foreign a tongue for South Asians, when Iran or Turkey never adopted Arabic why would Pakistanis or Indians? Culturally no, practically- absolutely no, religiously -‘maybe’.. but Arabs don’t speak Classical Arabic of the Quran either so no, not even then. There was no MSA back then, so what dialect would you select?

      Urdu avoids all this because it’s quite local, quite familiar. It was already serving as an official language in Punjab and NWFP and had many speakers in Sindh and Bengal. It was also the language of the elite, and already instrumental in spreading Islam in India, especially in the 19th century where copious volumes of Urdu religious literature was being produced and learnt in every region in of India. It was also instrumental in the Pakistan movement and without Urdu’s distinction from Hindi, Pakistan would not become a reality. It represented Muslim high culture while adopting Farsi or Arabic would have been seen as a step down for this elite. It’s also much easier for a Punjabi or Sindhi to learn Urdu than to learn Farsi or Arabic.

      There is literally no way anyone could make a case for adopting Farsi or Arabic.. even English could have been a better suggestion.

      BTW, hasn’t India done the same thing by adopting ‘Hindi in Devanagari script’ as an official language at the federal level? Why not just go full Hindu and adopt Sanskrit? It pretty much has a similar policy, but half hearted.

      1. I think you have misunderstood my argument. I understand that there were historically cogent reasons for choosing Urdu, but such decisions are open ended. Arguments of a similar valence could have been made about Persian and Arabic. The main point is since Pakistan saw itself as an Islamic country, with a significant chunk of the population claiming ancestry from the Middle East, it made sense to cash in on that network by learning the language. Its like someone wants to work in high performance computing but insists on programming in Java instead of C++.

        Regarding Hindi, pretty much every successful ethnicity in India has maintained a distance from that language. The gullible Biharis and East UPites who embraced the language are now lamenting it. Not only have they accrued no economic benefits from adopting the language, they have actually missed out on the English based boom and the Hindi film industry insists on seeing them as thugs, comics or bumpkins. Tamils refuse to learn it outright. Gujaratis, Marathis, Punjabis and Bengalis learn enough to communicate with the working classes or farm labour.

        1. Farsi is not a holy language. It’s usefulness in the Persianate empires of the middle ages was like the usefulness of English today, as a language of administration and trade. So there is no reason to consider it. Arabic always had an exalted religious status, but Arabic is a very foreign language to South Asia. Most Arabic words in South Asian languages came from Farsi, so it’s twice removed. And what dialect to adopt for Arabic? There are several.

          Contrast Urdu with Persian, and actually Urdu has a case for being a more ”Islamic” language in the last few hundred years, because Urdu/Hindi was the language used to spread Islam throughout India by pretty much all the sects. This is one of the reasons given to choose Urdu as a national language of Pakistan.. it has copious amounts of Islamic literature produced.

          As for Hindi, I don’t know man.. almost all Bengalis (from Bangladesh or India) I have met know Urdu/Hindi, and can understand it. So do Punjabis and Gujratis. If English doesn’t take its place, Hindi will subsume most other local languages in India.

          1. The question is not holiness or prestige, it is about access. Pakistanis can speak all the Urdu they want, but they are not going to get access to the business and technical networks of India. The political/ideological gap is just too large.

            Why do you think the developing world elite breaks their back to send their children to English medium schools ? Do they want their children to be ‘second class’ English speakers ? It is because English ensures they can access the educational institutes and job markets of the US, UK etc.

            Similarly access to Gulf markets is available for speakers of standard Arabic across the Arab world, whether they are Egyptian, Algerian or Syrian provided they meet certain educational credentials. Its not as lucrative as the Anglo world, but for middle tier Pakistanis it could have been very productive economically.

            The only reason why Hindi proved somewhat useful to poorer Marathis and Telugus is that provided access to the Mumbai commercial and labor market. For the rich, it is quite useless.

          2. You can get by with English in most GCC countries, Saudi included. I have lived in Saudi, Egyptians don’t have any significant advantages over Pakistanis there due to the language, and most Saudis/Khaleejis won’t even understand the Algerian dialect. Most Pakistanis that live there for decades eventually do learn Arabic.. so I don’t see the point of Arabic learning in Pakistan. English works fine.

            Adoption of Urdu has nothing to do with India, it’s purpose today is to basically unify the different portions of Pakistan by using Urdu as a link language for communication (and in that I would not hesitate to say they have succeeded). There are at most only 2 English channels in Pakistan, rest all use Urdu with a few regional language channels. Whether journalists are liberal or conservative, pro army or anti army, they all use Urdu in the media. Today usually the only people who object to Urdu as the only national language are some leftist Sindhis, and even they have been neutralized by making Sindhi an official language of Sindh alongside Urdu.

          3. Jeez, is the reason for any language existing only to provide ‘access the educational institutes and job markets of the US, UK’?

            That would mean every language apart from English in the subcontinent is useless. Why would then Pakistanis even learn Farsi/Arabic and not just English. And why should anyone in the prosperous parts of India like Tamil Nadu, MH or Gujrat even learn their local language, and not just English? Why aim lower rather than shooting for the stars.

            The reasons for UP/Bihar being laggard has not to do with them embracing Hindi.That would mean the most backward places in India (North East, central India) tribals and Pakistani Pashtun and Balochi areas should just abandon their language altogether.

      2. @ S Qureishi
        Its partially true that Urdu was instrumental to the Pakistan Movement initiated through Aligarh movement,Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto and Balochi are much more closer to Farsi than Urdu. Urdu is primarily built on the Prakrit grammer incorporating Turkic, Persian and Arabic. Hindi-Hindu binary is a typical non Indian notion. Urdu is the mother tongue of 4.19 percent of Indians as per Census 2011. Muslims are 14.23 percent of Indian Population as per the same census. You have over 70 percent Muslims whose mother tongue is NOT Urdu. And frankly, the term “Pakistanis” and “Hindustanis” are new innovations which violates the Persian grammar. If you ask an Iranian what would you call the resident of “Hindustan” they will answer “Hindu” or “Hindi”.

        1. @Shashank

          A few corrections to your post: it is not ‘partially true’ that Urdu was the cause of Pakistan movement, it is *entirely* true. There would have been no Pakistan without the Urdu/Hindi split, because the entire argument for Pakistan was spread to Indian Muslims via the Urdu press, which by the 1940’s had less and less Hindu representation because of all them had shifted to the Hindi script.

          Secondly, Punjabi and Sindhi are not ‘closer’ to Farsi than Urdu, these are all sister languages descending from Sanskrit/Prakrit. Baluchi and Pastho maybe ”closer” to Farsi than Urdu on paper but this is just academic. In reality, formal Urdu can contain upto 90% or more Arabic/Farsi nouns than either Punjabi Sindhi, or even Pasthu or Balochi. Even colloquial Hindi contains more Farsi loans than Punjabi or Sindhi. Urdu poetic structure is directly borrowed from Farsi, and it’s literature is heavily Persianized. Local languages like Punjabi, Sindhi or even Pastho don’t have this level of interaction with Farsi.

          Thirdly, Urdu grammar does not always borrow from Farsi but is a combination of Prakrit/Sasnkrit, Farsi and Arabic. This is how languages evolve, they don’t always borrow the grammatical rules directly from another language but somtimes mix it up. For example the word ”hindutva” is a mixture of Farsi and Sanskrit. Modern Farsi is also not medieval Farsi. Modern Tehrani Farsi contains more Arabic, English and French loans.. Urdu borrowed more from ‘Dari’ which is probably closer to older Farsi than the modern version

          Lastly, it doesn’t matter if 70% of Muslims of India don’t have Urdu as their mother tongue. Urdu is a dying language in India, and by dying, I am only referring to the script. Otherwise Hindi (which is basically just Urdu again) is only spreading throughout India.

          1. @S Qureishi
            Pakistan movement is culmination of Two Nation Theory which was much stronger in East Bengal ( Negligible Urdu influence) than West Punjab. NWFP never joined the movement, so did Sindh. It was in the Hindi heartland, West Punjab and East Bengal hence “Urdu” is not the “only” reason.

            Secondly, Urdu’s poetic structure is derived not from Farsi but rather Arabic. ‘Qasida’, ‘Marsiya’ have high Arabic tilt while ‘ Ghazal’ and ‘ Nazm’ are Persianized. This is the reason why Urdu is preferred over Punjabi and Sindhi in Pakistan because of its rich Arabic incorporation. Punjabi Sindhi Balochi and Pashto have lower Arabic incorporation. Though Ordu was fully developed by 14th century CE, the rich patronage it received was under ‘Sa’dat’ dynasty of Lucknow Nawabs and later other Nawabs having Arabic ancestry. The Mughals, the Delhi Sultans didn’t want to patronize Urdu due to its Arabic tilt over Farsi.

            Lastly, Urdu in India is not a dying language even though a perception is being created.

  2. About 15% of the ancestry of modern South Asians comes from these people (averaged across region and caste).


    What would the high end and low end of the range be, since 15% is the average? E.g. what group has the least steppe ancestry and how much do they have?

    1. i did the calculations myself.

      the high % is ~30 and is found in groups in the NW + brahmins (some kshatriyas too in UP) in guju & gangetic plain west of bengal

      the lowest % is 0 in south indian dalits and tribals. reddy ppl have 5%. cultivators in mid-gangetic plain are at the average, 15% (e.g., kanjars).

      1. Thanks, Razib. The “0% Steppe” in the southern tribals really suprises me, I had thought there were pretty much no “pure” steppe-free groups left, but I guess I was wrong. Strict endogamy seems to be more effective than we would have thought!

        My aunt has connexions with a school in western TN that serves an Irula community, and keeps suggesting I go visit there next time I’m in India. Would it be fair to say that the Irula are like the closest example of what southern Indians were like before the steppe invasion?

        1. “Would it be fair to say that the Irula are like the closest example of what southern Indians were like before the steppe invasion?”

          They are a high AASI group, so prior to the Dravidian migration from the IVC, they were pretty much representative of native south Indians. There might’ve been multiple migrations from the IVC region in ancient times.

          1. If Irulas were AASI antedating the inmigration of Drvaidian lang speakers, that should have left a substratum in Tamil. No linguist talks of substratum of Tamil or other dravidian languages from pre-existing languages . Tamil dates from about 2500-3000 BP with available literature from about 2000 BP
            Irula language is classsified as Dravidian.
            Assuming AASI is about 10% of Indian populations what happened to their languages

          2. @Son Goku I’d imagine that AASI is representative of most india-dwellers before the greater indus ppl expansion, not just south indians

            Have thought about the dravidian substrate question as well. And its interesting because no matter what evidence arises to the contrary, the conflation of aboriginal/adivasi and dravidian can’t be shaken. Perhaps retroflexion and other features of dravidian, munda and IA languages come from the AASI?

          3. @girmit
            I think more detailed liguistic studies has to be taken of adivasis and tribals in the southlike Irulas to see any substrate; also place names, river names, etc. A Telugu drav linguistics expert- actually he is in another profession but fairly bgood in liguistics- was saying many river names like Godavari have no proper dravidian etyma. That can be the smoking gun

          4. @ VijayVan
            Exactly. The Dravidian language origin, as well as the aboriginal south Asian language’s origin, is inexplicable. One can assume anything to this point.

            I surmise the AASI territory stretched as far as Brahmaputra valley.

    2. I would think Sri Lanka is a country (or state) where most of the population is high AASI as against few groups within the country. (No data to support that assertion).

      History and archaeology tell us four groups in SL
      a) Raksha/Yaksha
      b) Nagas
      c) Balangoda Man
      d) Veddas
      d) The Vijay type invaders around 500BC.

      The Veddas are distinct from Sinhalese/Tamil in that they have less mtDNA M in their population. AASI percent who knows. No data.

      Balangoda Man: No DNA data.

      Yaksha and Naga were civilized people, i.e irrigation systems, towns and spun cotton. AASI, IVC who knows. They integrated into what many centuries later became the Sinhalese.

      The Vijaya types from Kalinga. They never made the claim of Arya. In fact Arya were the enemies according to the Mahavamsa.

      My opinion is that the ethos of the AASI continues to dominate Sri Lanka.

      1. sbarrkum, greatly enjoy your posts and insights in SL life and culture.

        Was reading up about the Koneswaram temple in Trinco recently, a temple more than 2000 years old and patronised by various tamil dynasties. It was at the time one of the most prestigious and prosperous temples in tamilakam before being looted and destroyed by the Portuguese in the 17th century in a campaign that would put the Turkics to shame. It was literally tipped over the cliff edge into the sea! But I didn’t see a single plaque or board mention this at the temple when I visited a couple of years ago. To the credit of the SL Tamils, it was reconstructed in the 20th century. A similar fate befell the Tenavaram (Dondra) temple in an act of pure religious plunder and zealotry by the Portuguese and what was once the largest and most celebrated temple on the island never recovered.

        Like in India where temple destruction is a touchy issue due to relations with the muslim community, I wonder if there are similar issues at play in SL due to the intricacies of hindu-christian relations. Is there a movement to reconstruct any of the destroyed temples in SL? I suppose its more likely that the events of the 20th century and the civil war have pushed all of this to the back of the mind for most hindus on the island

  3. Any chance some of your deep dives may be published as a pdf book on an online site like amazon?

  4. “That would mean every language apart from English in the subcontinent is useless.”

    In the long term, this is more or less true. The penalty for not knowing English in India at least is huge, socially as well as economically. The real victor in the subcontinent is England.

    Regarding Egyptians vs Pakistanis in the Gulf. Egypt gets as much remittance from the region even though Pakistan sends far more workers there. This is because Egyptians are able to jobs that require direct communication with locals.

  5. Where are you getting these numbers from? Egypt has a much bigger diaspora in Saudi Arabia than Pakistan .. and remittance numbers are pretty equal in 2021. Remittance to Pakistan from UAE is also much much higher than to Egypt last I checked, despite higher number of Egyptians in UAE. And all this not even accounting for the fact that Egypt’s GDP per capita is way higher than Pakistan’s so naturally it’s workers are only going to accept a job abroad if they are paid higher, unlike in Pakistan where the bar is pretty low. Going by your logic, the British expats in the Middle East make the most without even knowing a word of Arabic. Knowing Arabic would undoubtedly be beneficial, but you seem to be overstating its importance in the job market, especially when communication can take place in English.

    1. I also feel like all this talk of ”claiming Indian civilization back” will end up in failure if you allow English to take over Hindi or any other Indian language as a *primary* means of communication. Good for the pocket, but still culturally colonized by the ‘gora’ and the ‘brown sahib’ as kids grow up reading Charles Dickens and Jane Austen rather than local authors. Bilingualism & Multilingualism may end up hurting the pocket but is a point of pride. Just focusing on English and then realizing the real Englishmen don’t respect the second class English spoken by the colonized. Not everyone can become Shashi Tharoor with his British accent and flowing vocabulary.

    2. Your numbers are quite incorrect. There are 1.3 million Pakistanis and 0.9 million Egyptians in Saudi, who sent back $ 5.7 bllion and $ 7.7 billion respectively. Do the math, and you will see that the average Egyptian worker sends back nearly twice the amount the average Pakistani does.

      Data on remittances:
      Data on migrant worker numbers:

  6. The reasons muslims are reviled are a bit simpler than what others might suggest here. I don’t believe that there was a continuous memory of the cruelty of turks into 19th century. By and large, muslims are poor or downwardly mobile and indians are quite elitist (also doesn’t help that indian islam doesn’t accomodate much humour) . Dharmic peoples can be terribly conservative, but we are largely on-board with more freedom for females and it has the stamp of approval from “good families”. I’m embarrassed to admit, but when I get acqainted with a middle class muslim family, the bundled up females often seem culturally stunted. It all seems so downwardly mobile in a country where the middle class would do anything to raise themselves. When dharmics meet liberal/cosmopolitan muslims, even from more-muslim areas like pakistan, or even the levant/persia, they often don’t even register as muslims per se, because they have identities and personal presentation that transcend the narrow markers of faith. The indian muslim “brand” has become associated with a street culture, informal trades, and cloistered living. Christians, on the other hand, even if they are not prosperous, seem mentally open to the world. If it even mattered you’d have to remind yourself that they are of a different faith by descent

  7. “Finally, there are the Muslims. They had the least impact. But they are most reviled. Why?

    They lost. The lesson is to not lose. The rest is commentary.”

    Maybe they are reviled because they survived?
    There are no Indo-Aryans or Scythians left.

    Had Islam disappeared from the world, you might have seen upper caste Indians boast of some undetectable Syed or Quraish ancestry the way they boast of Aryan and Scythian ancestry.

    On the other hand, had a pure group of Indo-Aryans survived with all their fire sacrifices, they might have looked down upon lay Hinduism with its demonic goddesses and elephantine gods. I mean it’s not as if modern Arya Samajis think very highly of other Hindus.

    1. Prats, I think others made the point about parsis as survivors, but not reviled. Does that run against your idea? Parsis didn’t even give us biryani

      1. 1. Parsis never invaded India so no history of bloodshed unlike Aryans, Scythians or Muslims.
        2. Parsis gave us Tata’s and Godrej’s. I can live without biryani. Can’t live without my salt, steel, and fridge.

        And most importantly
        3. Parsis are barely 0.01 % of the country’s population.

        At that concentration, you are just barely surviving. If Parsis were 2% of the population, insisted on having special zones in Bombay, and acted all high and mighty over the rest of the populace, then probably they would not be so beloved.

        Even so, I don’t think they would be reviled because you could still be sure of their loyalty to India. They don’t have anywhere else to go. (Unless they stared a secessionist movement of their own.)

        I mean just look at Zoroastrians in Iran. Now that they’ve been crushed and are a tiny tiny minority, they are held up as some symbol of Iranian pride. But god forbid if their population grows to any substantial level. I don’t think the current regime is going to be as forgiving of them in that case.

        1. totally get that point. just saying that broadly speaking, in the parts of india i’m familiar with, I don’t see anyone who envies the muslim community, whereas there are communities that are both reviled AND envied. In the latter case, the natives may go all mugabe on the minority. Things may be different in the north where muslims may flex on their past glories more, i don’t know. Slight tangent, but related to who reviles who, a rather chilling remark passed on to me by a christian guy who’s a bit older than me in BLR about the 90’s babri masjid riots. “it wasn’t a great thing, but you know, they DID need to be knocked down a peg.” Evidently guys my age weren’t familiar with the
          hithertoo haughtiness from before our time.

          1. totally get that point. just saying that broadly speaking, in the parts of india i’m familiar with, I don’t see anyone who envies the muslim community, whereas there are communities that are both reviled AND envied.

            Hindus do envy Muslim assabiya, even Sikh assabiya. And non-RSS Hindus envy RSS’s ability to keep its flock together.

            Revile is a very strong word. There are certain Muslim practices that certainly cause revulsion among certain Hindus – butcher houses, for example. What also causes revulsion is pictures and videos of ISIS, Al Qaeda etc.

            At the street level, I think there’s an uneasy equilibrium. This equilibrium factors in a small sense of oneupmanship and occasional violence. What I think has happened now is that this local equilibrium has not been able to factor in local incidents turning national.

            For example, when I lived in Baroda, it was very common in the old walled city for low level communal violence to flare up whenever a major festival was approaching. But then the police would come, the violence would die down and things would go back to normal as if nothing had happened.

            It seems to me now that the frequency of such incidents has gone down but the severity has gone up. The stakes were ratcheted up first by pan-Islamism and Islamic terrorism with the series of bomb blasts in 90s and 2000s. This consolidated Hindus against Muslims. And now with the rise of Hindutva, there’s a sense of tightening of the screw.

            Slight tangent, but related to who reviles who, a rather chilling remark passed on to me by a christian guy who’s a bit older than me in BLR about the 90’s babri masjid riots.

            The idea that minorities should ally with each other in solidarity just exists in stupid woke wet dreams.
            Was this person Mallu by any chance?
            I have found some urban Mallu folks, who have seen how conservative their own Catholic families can be, are not so dismissive of Hindutva. As in they are not going to support Modi but they are also not going to judge your moral character for supporting him.

            The one woke friend I am comfortable sharing controversial BP articles/podcasts with while knowing the person will not erupt at me is actually a Mallu Christian from Bangalore. I also sense a bit of envy in her in that my parents don’t care whether I believe in a God or not as long as I participate in festivals. Seems she’s had a hard time arguing with her family on stuff like LGBT rights and all.

      2. Agree with Prats. Had Indian population been 5 percent British in 47 and they hadn’t left, u could have seen some of Mugabe shit in India as well.

    2. \On the other hand, had a pure group of Indo-Aryans survived with all their fire sacrifices,\

      Prats, there are thousands of orthodox brahmisn who keep the vedic fires burning everyday – they are called Nithya agnihotris. Someone has comipled a list of them . They are very much part of hinduism; all this adherance to vedic rituals sits happily with everyday hindu gods and goddesses. that is continuation of vedic tradition , not revivalists like Arya Samaj. No vedic brahmins considers hindu divinities as “demonic goddesses and elephantine gods” which is a typical Muslim/Christian thing. I think you have little contact with Hindus

      Indo-aryan is a linguistic term best avoided while referring to people.

  8. First, there were the Indo-Aryans. About 15% of the ancestry of modern South Asians comes from these people (averaged across region and caste)….

    This statement right up front is what gets my goat – the bland genetic fact underlying it does not validate the cultural “smash and grab move” on top of it. On the other hand I am still unable to make up my mind whether this could be a compliment to the Sanskritic high culture that developed in India.

    Because normally groups practice appropriation when it results in a “halo effect” for the perpetrator or implies a soldiarity with the unequal group whom the perpetrator has been oppressing. The beneficiaries of the original Aryan Invasion were the English colonials. Essentially to legitimize a break-in, they pretended that all the furniture in THAT house only came from the outside.

    Over time, this whole shebang has transcended its illegitimate origins to acquire genteel pretensions of scientific upbringing. This in itself is a story worth telling.

    The whole assertion of Steppes = Culture and Language HQ is based on the evidence found in the regions where they found refuge in. Nothing grand archaeologically found on the Steppes really. Just some back of the wood people eking out a hand-to-mouth existence with no notions of language or script. This is just Bronze Age Wakanda and BLM.

  9. //The whole assertion of Steppes = Culture and Language HQ is based on the evidence found in the regions where they found refuge in. Nothing grand archaeologically found on the Steppes really. Just some back of the wood people eking out a hand-to-mouth existence with no notions of language or script. This is just Bronze Age Wakanda and BLM.//

    I think you will find that you need farming to create a higher civilization, and script and places of philosophical learning, where 97-98% of farmer class is subsistence living and illiterate, free from the burden of written language and high culture. Imagine the billions of chicken in chicken coop vs the few majestic lions in the wild. Both have their purpose.

  10. And the opposite as well, farming becomes necessary to support a large project, eventually the interplay between the two leads to civilization. Once more farming/farmable land is acquired, more projects can be undertaken and so on.

  11. “Finally, there are the Muslims. They had the least impact. But they are most reviled. Why?

    They lost. The lesson is to not lose. The rest is commentary.”

    hitler once said – if i win, i will not have to explain anything. if i lose, i will not be around to explain anything.

    so i guess the mistake muslims made was that they lost and stayed around – to be reviled perpetually.

  12. now police in states other than up are shooting muslims who create trouble. yesterday in bangla, earlier this year in karnataka.
    has a threshold of tolerance crossed?

  13. I guess hindus lost in Bangladesh and Pakistan while muslims lost in India. I would even include Afghanistan east of Kabul. Overall muslims are clear winners in south asia looking at land gained vs hindus. It was all hindu from Kabul to Bengal and now its not. Pakistan and Bangladesh literally got rid of their entire hindu population. In Bangladesh this process is slow but still from 20% in 1971 to less then 10% today.

    Meanwhile muslims in India will continue to be headache for eternity.

  14. // There are no Indo-Aryans or Scythians left //

    There are “Indo-Aryans” left because there are millions of orthoprax people who follow some of that culture today in India: recite hymns in Old Indo-Aryan speech, have initiation ceremonies and fire rituals etc. No other old culture in the world has that level of organic preservation.

    There are no people who speak śaka language. Their language, ritual and culture is dead.

    1. Get your point. Maybe I should have phrased it better.

      By “Indo-Aryans” I was referring to the steppe people who entered India and brought proto-Sanskrit with them. Was trying to paint a hypothetical scenario where a large group of such people remains unmixed with the remnants of IVC or adivasi folks and preserves its culture in toto.

      1. @Prats

        Only unsuccessful cultures tend to remain unmixed – lack of mixture usually indicating cultural isolation, lack of enterprise, lack of geographical reach – basically quill-pushers rather than riders of vehement chariots. Indo-Aryans were fantastically successful. akurvan viśvam āryam 🙂

  15. In absolute terms, dharmic “lost” to Muslims, given that Muslims did conquer some formerly dharmic lands but dharmics never were able to reconquer all of those lands back nor convert lands that were never dharmic and happened to be Muslim.

    But in a relative sense, Dharmics “won,” in comparison to many places like Anatolia and Persia, to name a couple, where the local non-Muslims were completely supplanted ideologically by Islam in the future generations.

    There are a few places that “won” more bigly, in tbe muslim non kuslim sense, as compared to India, like Spain and Sicily.

    1. There was reconquista in multiple places in India too, ie. military recapture of land by local non-Muslims from Muslim rulers. We just don’t call it that. Anyway Indians still punch way below their weight globally – probably the most out of the old-world civs – and I wouldn’t make too much of these little provincial reverses.

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