A vision for solving India’s caste social crises

My personal belief is that jati-varna was one of the major reasons that India did not Islamicize more than it did. These sub-elite solidities “absorbed” external shocks and mediated individual relationships with the world. Collective entities like this are common across the world, but the genetic distinctiveness of these groups is like nothing you see elsewhere (with the possible exception of endogamous isolation like premodern Ashkenazim). I also believe that the jati in particular predates the arrival of the Aryans 3,500 years ago. Varna-like concepts exist in other Indo-European societies, but only jati exists in India, and I believe that genetics will uncover jati-like stratification in the IVC over time. Jati may be one reason that the IVC seems archaeologically to be an “anarchistic” society in terms of governance and politics insofar as they can infer anything from material remains (there seem to be no grand public buildings as in Mesopatamia or Egypt).

But, today, in 2022, the jati-varna system is a problem for India. In particular, I think the reservation system is socially toxic and economically inefficient. Because I have libertarian conservative viewpoints, I have always opposed caste-based reservations, just as I oppose affirmative action in the USA. This has little to do with empirical or utilitarian calculus and everything to do with deontological principles. But, from a utilitarian perspective, I believe that reservations result in the misallocation of talent, as well as emigration.

How to fix this problem? The genetics indicates endogamy rates of 99% or less for possibly a thousand years or more. Today, the jati-varna endogamy rate is lower. Perhaps 95% is the high bound from the estimates I’ve seen. This means within several centuries jati-varna as we understand it will not be viable.  The rate of genetic/social/cultural exchange will be too high to maintain traditional solidities. This will not mean that all castes will disappear; some will likely persist, but many societies have endogamous minorities. The way India is unique is that it is a whole civilization that is built around endogamous minorities. This does not scale as well to a modern economy and unitary society, and it is cannot persist if current social trends continue.

This problem will “naturally” take care of itself in both India and Pakistan (two countries where endogamous communities are ubiquitous), but, there are possible social and cultural movements that can accelerate or retard this process. The transformation of Hinduism into a more cohesive and confessional religion will probably be part of this. Like jati-varna, Hinduism’s strength was its fractious decentralization, as it absorbed and flexed in various directions to maintain its integrity in the face of proselytization. But in the world of 2022, the strategies of survival and persistence in the face of five hundred years of Muslim domination (in North India) are not appropriate; cultural involution and retreat simply invite defeat. The extremely diverse and almost contradictory nature of Hinduism allowed it to be a catchall system that integrated many jati groups with idiosyncratic beliefs and customs. The two reinforced each other as parallel institutions. Arguably, the weakness of jati will be the weakness of Hinduism unless the latter evolves and changes. One primary reason that non-Hindus never convert to the religion is that conversion still puts one outside of the jati-varna social networks of other Hindus while ostracizing oneself from one’s birth community.

Of course, some Hindus like the system the way it is. Some of these go by the term “trads,” but these types simply say out loud what the revealed preference shows is the majority viewpoint of most Hindus in India. What do they worry about? Higher-status groups do not want to become lower-status. Also, some high-caste Hindus believe they are more beautiful (lighter-skinned) and intelligent than lower-caste Hindus, and they do not want to dilute their human capital advantage. Objectively, it seems clear that many high-caste Hindus are indeed lighter-skinned and have facial features considered more beautiful than that of other Indian castes (I’m talking about Indian preferences on the whole). Additionally, whatever you may think about the heritability of intelligence, this is also certainly a possibility for differences between the groups.

But there doesn’t need to be such a great concern. Most societies have intelligent and beautiful subgroups, but they are not restricted to a particular social or political element. Restricting these traits to a particular social and political group causes problems, as you can see in India. The reality is there are beautiful/handsome and intelligent Dalits, so why not marry them if you are a Brahmin? These characteristics will persist, and the upside is that the social divisions between the jatis will diminish, and India can have a cultural matrix that’s more amenable to economic growth and individual liberty.

As someone with a conservative bent, there are natural hierarchies and status differences in any society. This is normal, and total leveling will never be possible, nor should we even aspire to it. Difference is worth appreciating. But the system of jati-varna in India as it is operationalized today is not conducive to human flourishing because it retards the development of broader social and cultural institutions that allow for national collective action. This is not abstract. China is a perfect example of a society with class status, but never has it had jati-like endogamy. Radically different dialect groups, like Hakka and Cantonese, freely intermarry with minimal conflict or controversy, so long as socioeconomic status is this. This is the future. You can delay it or ride the tiger.

The the origins of the false moral panic about caste in the USA

Caste discrimination in the US, again…Brown University bans caste discrimination throughout campus in a first for the Ivy League.

These stories are strange and silly on some level. But they are serious on another level. Multiple young brown American men have told me that they have been asked about their caste by white colleagues, usually social justice-oriented women. More recently, I was having beers with a friend who works at Google, and he mentioned offhand “I heard caste discrimination is a big problem in American tech.” Context on him: he’s American-born, his father is from China, his mother is a white New Englander, and he’s not religious, but he’s center-right politically.

Very few people in America know anything about caste. So they rely on a small group of activists to inform them. Additionally, the American elite is very worried about structural oppression, and jati-varna certainly fits that bill. So they are attracted to regulating and eliminating it.

The problems:

– Most Indian Americans don’t care about caste, and 1.5 and 2nd generation are very fuzzy on it

– Most Indian Americans who are 1.5 and 2nd generation do marry other Indian Americans, but they seem to marry outside of their caste

– Very few Indian American Hindus, about 1%, are Dalit. About 20% would be “OBC” in India, and 80% are “upper caste.” So there aren’t many “low caste” people to discriminate against

– Very few Indian Americans exist in a predominantly Indian milieu, so caste as a discriminatory framework can never operationalize

The final issue is that of course, the ancestors of Indian Americans on the whole did benefit from literal structural privilege in a broad sense, even if they came from a poor or uneducated background. Usually, on a relative scale, the people who arrived in America had resources or skills compared to the average Indian. In agreement with Greg Clark, I think this human capital persists; Indian Americans are not regressing back to a very lower socioeconomic median. Instead, they are becoming part of the American overclass.

I believe that the new salience about caste in America has less to do with caste and more to do with grappling with a dark-skinned nonwhite population that clearly has high levels of persistent and structural human capital advantage. American elites, and especially white American elites, have a very difficult time intellectually conceiving of the idea that nonwhite people can overcome discrimination and succeed because of the privilege of high endogenous human capital.

Faces of women of the world

I’m going to use Midjourney to add art to my Substack, but sometimes you get obsessed with stuff. I decided to generate images of female faces with the prompt:

beautiful [ethnicity/nationality] woman, portrait, photograph, cinematic, white wall

Then I picked what I thought was the most neutral face focused of the four images. I upscaled that, and remastered it. I’ve output the ones that aren’t ridiculous. For whatever reason, if an ethnic group is too obscure, the women turn out to look East Asian. No idea why. I’ve put the nationalities on top, and then various Indian ethnicities. Some of the outputs make a lot of sense. Some of the others, not so much. And many, I do not know.

Warning it will take a while to load all the images.

Continue reading Faces of women of the world

Proud of Rho Khanna

Recently Ann Coulter mentioned that Indians don’t have the same concept of free speech that Americans do. That is totally true and evident on these message boards. Ann’s concern is that the Indian-enriched tech work-force won’t see any problems with censoring offensive speech since that’s the norm in their society.

That being said, my chest kind of puffed up with pride to hear Rho Khanna express old-fashioned American values in this clip. With all due respect to Ann, the only Democrat who seemed persistently concerned about the free speech implications of Twitter’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story is the son of Indian immigrants. Where are all those old-stock Americans now?

Are Indian Intellectuals Anti India – Salvatore Babones

Salvatore Babones a comparative sociologist chats with me on The Indic Explorer Channel on whether Indian intellectuals are against India and are largely to be blamed for the country’s poor standing Internationally and especially in the Western World.

You should also check out the concluding section of this discussion here (https://youtu.be/5HmGeHSkFdQ), after watching the above video.

The Indic Explorer YouTube channel focusses on the interplay of Indic culture with modernity explored through different facets in the socio-cultural sphere.

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Roshan Cariappa on Job Crisis in Big Tech & Startups

Roshan Cariappa chats with me on my podcast this week on ‘The Job Crisis in Big Tech Companies & Startups’.

The Indic Explorer YouTube channel focusses on the interplay of Indic culture with modernity explored through different facets in the socio-cultural sphere.

Do subscribe to the channel at https://www.youtube.com/theindicexplorer

and follow me here

Twitter- https://twitter.com/theindicexplor1

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/theindicexplorer/


USA, China, Taiwan. A Fateful Triangle.

Following was part of conversations with few well-informed folks about the subject.


Fateful Triangle – China-United States & Taiwan

By Hamid Hussain

November 10, 2022

“Let China sleep; when she wakes, she will shake the world”.       Napoleon 1817

In the last two decades, United States and China have emerged as competitors for political and economic influence especially in the Indo-Pacific region. This has invariably influenced the military posture of both countries to secure economic gains. Most strategists are of the view that Taiwan will be the most likely cause of military conflict between China and United States. Continue reading USA, China, Taiwan. A Fateful Triangle.

The Survey of India

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Survey of India

Hamid Hussain

 “We travel not for trafficking alone.

By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned.

For lust of knowing what should not be known,

We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.” 

                                                                  James Elroy Flecker

 Eighteenth century India and its neighboring regions were an exotic place for outsiders and not much was known about the geography and people of this large swath of land. An odd traveler or explorer published the details of his perilous journey among strange and alien land and people for the home audience.  Arrival of East India Company (EIC) for trade and later territorial expansion brought modern scientific methods of exploration and mapping that filled up the empty spaces on maps. 

 During military operations, officers collected localized information about terrain, availability of supplies to support troops and animals and information about local population.  However, this information was localized and limited to military operation at hand.  Knowledge about land and people ruled by EIC rapidly expanded.  Over the years, a small group of extraordinary British and native explorers contributed to sciences of geography and anthropology. This was an area where political, administrative, military and spying arts freely intermingled.

 In eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, India’s frontiers were changing with territorial expansion of EIC.  In these decades, frontier moved from Oudh, Gangetic plains, Sindh and Punjab to Northwestern and Northeastern frontiers. In the context of defense of India, area of British influence also expanded to Tibet, Chinese and Russian Turkistan and Afghanistan.  The Royal Geographic Society (RGS) became the patron of the advancement of the field of geography on scientific grounds and published works of explorers of India and its neighborhood.

 In 1800, three separate surveys were started in India: Revenue, Topographical and Trigonometrical (later named Great Trigonometrical Survey – GTS).  In 1878, all three were amalgamated into a single Survey of India.  James Rannell (1742-1830), William Lambton (1756-1823), George Everest (1790-1866), Thomas George Montgomerie (1830-1878), Henry Trotter, William Johnson, James Walker, Colonel Frederick Bailey (1882-1967), Sir Thomas Hungerford Holdich, Godwin-Austin, Captain Francis Younghusband and others were exceptional individuals.  They were driven by a sense of adventure, exploration and duty.  They were highly committed individuals willing to suffer extreme hardships in strange and unknown lands. They instilled same spirit among their native assistants. Surveying in frontier areas was a dangerous task as locals correctly concluded that surveying was the steppingstone towards loss of their freedom.  There was an Afghan saying that “First comes one Englishman for shikar (hunting), then come two to draw a map, and then comes an army to take your land.  So, it is best to kill the first Englishman”. Continue reading The Survey of India

Brown Pundits