Book Review: लोक माझे सांगाती

This was only the second Autobiography I have read and I enjoyed it a lot.
Naturally no one should expect any autobiography to be frank and thorough, much more so incase of the autobiography being of an active politician.

Mr Pawar’s vision for development which often doesn’t get discussed gets due credit in the book. His putting his ideological commitment over electoral gains in the “Namantar” controversy, speech on Women’s rights and the anger at the Dabhol-Enron project stood out of the book for me.
His lack of explanations for his miscalculations (like supporting Sonia Gandhi in 90s), corruption allegations sticks out like a sore thumb. His (now) wrong predictions post 2015 and somewhat myopic view on Hindu-Muslim problems could highlight the shortcomings of his brand of Progressivism.

To really understand an autobiography, one must always read between and beyond the lines. Mr Pawar has also been linked with outfits like like Sambhaji brigade, especially in the 21st century. But brigade and their notoriety do not find a single mention in his book. Nor does the eponymous
second Chattrapati (unless i am mistaken).

In the final passage, Mr Pawar mentions his close friendship with the radical Muslim rationalist – Hamid Dalwai. Incidentally, after the tragic and early death of Hamid Dalwai, it was Sharad Pawar who ensured Mr Dalwai’s final wishes of cremation were followed, against his family/communities wishes. Given this history, its highly ironic that the NCP has among its ranks some leaders who couldnt be further from Mr Dalwai in their speech and action.

In end the reader is forced to acknowledge both the genius and underachievement of a brilliant career which wouldn’t contain national premiership. (YET)

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21 thoughts on “Book Review: लोक माझे सांगाती”

  1. Is it just me that think Pawar is over rated.

    He was the undisputed leader of certain clan which dominates the state politics of perhaps India’s most important state and still never had a real shot of becoming a PM. Some one similar like Deve Gowda, who despite not speaking Hindi, and commanding even a smaller vote bank could become PM.

    Despite having to never contend with any real opposition in his state ( Shiv Sena being a urban phenomena and BJP being a Gujju-UP party in MH) , he could never carry his own party to power, without the cudgels of Congress. And even now despite being overwhelming favorites with numbers stacked for him in a 3 party coalition vs BJP, there is still no indication that they can decimate the BJP in the State. Something which Lalu and Mulayam could do (with similar vote banks) just on their own.

    I do not much weight behind his supposed ideological stands. MH has had a streak of ‘progressive’ and affirmative actions right from British rule. He just exploited it from time to time. Similar to how DMK did post Justice Party in Tamil Nadu.

  2. “Some one similar like Deve Gowda, who despite not speaking Hindi, and commanding even a smaller vote bank could become PM.”

    Not despite commanding smaller vote – because of commanding smaller vote bank.
    All Non Gandhi Non BJP PMs have been politically lightweight.
    No strong leaders have or can rise in INC, even PVNR was lightweight compared to SP when he got the support of 10-Janpath

  3. nice post. your views on liberalism/ usa/ India were wrong , my views are closer to truth. Or as razib puts it. “there is no principle, only the mob”.

  4. hi gaurav i need to ask you about what are your thoughts on michael witzels description of aryan invasion that the local pop was so brutalised etc. how much of this is true ? and if this is true on what basis can we talk of islamic invasions ?? because often when i talk of islamic invasions , muslims say that aryans also did same thing so why u complain ?

    1. Everything we know about Aryan invasion/migration (if ever there was one) is pure speculation – though some of it may be reasonable.

      Why go all the way back to Aryan invasions though ? We have documented invasion from the time of Macedonians to Hunas which dont invite any acrimony today – do they ?
      Something about the post 7th century invasions is drastically different which than all earlier invasions.

      Take another example – the Portuguese invasion of Western coast was as brutal (probably more) as Islamic ones – but the outrage it generated today is very less compared to the antics of Moguls and other Turko-Afghans. Why do you think it is so ?

  5. @Gaurav. There are no portugese currently in india, neither greeks.
    but there are muslim..what i hear is that aryans on horses wrote vedas and made local pop as shudra.. this is in response to when i say muslims brutalized and put zizya on hindus…on barkha dutt channel i heard one muslim saying that we all are invaders here.
    huns macedonians had no religion and they are mixed. what i want to know is that is it possible that aryans did mass rapes of local pop ?
    i am well aware of vedanta and they dont have any kind of violence and talk of oneness or aham brahasmi, so i was thinking what kind of people wrote that kind of texts

    1. – Steppe DNA generally significantly higher in upper castes

      – Everyone speaks Aryan languages right down to the village level in a country as diverse as India, a feat not replicated by any other invader since then.

      What do you think happened to achieve these things?

      1. @Ritesh
        There are no Portuguese – but there are Goan Christians – same as there are no Moghuls or Medieval turks, but Indian Muslims.

        What i say is conflicts are more in the present than the past – though ofcourse past as a role to play in the present – it neednt be.

        All we can say with confidence is people who called themselves Arya culturally dominated in the subcontinent for millenia, how they did or discussing their exact mechanism is an academic exercise as its rife with speculation. Its akin to debate the genocide of Denisovans and Neanderthals by Sapiens.

        “what i want to know is that is it possible that aryans did mass rapes of local pop ?”

        Men tend to Rape on conquest – so ofcourse its possible. But do have any memory of that in the Vedic canon or Buddhist literature or anywhere else ? Sex ratio bias is not as certain an evidence as some people like to claim. In winner takes all scenario with polygamy, Big warriors and leaders would naturally get more ladies. Its very conceivable that those who survived long term got ownership of lands along the major rivers while others who didnt died out over centuries. In pre modern times, the mechanisms of these are way more complex than what we imagine for medieval or modern times. But Hindus did develop an honour code where they condemned rape of women on conquest – how much did it impact on rampaging armies of thousands ? i do not know.
        The difference is Islamic sources like to boast about their “conquest” and “iconoclasm” more than was actually the case. At the very least – no matter what really happened – we can make judgements about cultures where somethings are condemned and those very things are glorified in another culture ?

        @Qureshi –
        Easy to explain the Arya had first mover advantage especially in the Gangetic plains which were not properly cultivated before the Iron age. Subcontinent outside the Indus plains would have had very low population densities in the Bronze age. So naturally the first movers would dominate more than Turko-Afghans who came into regions which were already very densely populated.
        Still 30-35 crore people in subcontinent speak Urdu – no mean feat.

        1. @Gaurav
          I don’t follow that point – the Indus plains speak Aryan languages as well as the Gangetic plains, so why does this point not apply to them? The Indus plains were also cultivated before Aryan arrival, likely densely populated and perhaps one of the oldest civilizations on the planet. The genetic data also shows an east west continuum for Steppe (correct me if I am wrong here), and nothing out of the ordinary is happening on the Indus plain that is significantly different from this continuum. (if Aryans populated the Gangetic plain, the data would have an opposite west-east continuum for steppe)

          The only way to change the very language of the people in the pre-modern era with little or no literacy is through complete subjugation and domination, as culture flows from the top. None of the proceeding invaders managed to do that.. only the Aryans..

          Also, Urdu is an Indo Aryan language, it originated in India and linguistically the exact same langauge as Hindi (not even a different dialect). Both Hindi and Urdu would not exist without Persianate culture. However the effect of the dominance of Farsi can be seen in loanwords in every Indian language (like English loanwords are seeping through in all local languages). However the Turks/Afghans never managed to make all Indians speak Farsi.

          1. Take the argument in this way. It’s not geography specific. But during the bronze age a lot of subcontinent was yet to be colonized or cultivated. So a lot of Niches were available for colonization and the Arya had first mover advantages. So in a way the carrying capacity of subcontinent changed after Arya migration into Gangetic plains and speculated Dravidian migrations to Deccan and beyond. In both regions the dominant cultures bred more prolifically leaving behind descendents who spoke dominant languages – IA and Drv. What we see are the descendents – none of whom are genetically “pure”.
            Looking at Steppe proportions or IVC proportions and extrapolating is misnomer. IMO indo Aryans who came in were not 100% steppe but more likely 40-50% (I can be as wrong as anyone here). So what we see ahead is just mixing of this group with significant % of other groups.
            Also the language map could also be the result of later empires – Mauryan and Gupta where the Indo Aryan languages were still being spread.
            We do not have to really speculate. Iron age Latin speakers where genetically almost same as Etruscans. Today entire Italy speaks Latin language – not only that but entire Southern peninsula of Europe speaks Romance languages;
            Because of documentation we know these were spread during the Roman Empire and not by bronze age steppe nomads. The Hungarian language and other languages like Basque are retained in Europe despite heavy demographic rollover.
            The mechanisms of conquest and subjugation are too simplistic to be true on such large time scales and geographies ( I am not denying conquest and subjugation playing some part of it) but the model used to compare it will Medievals conquerers which existed in drastically different technology and society is wrong.

            I am not saying Urdu is a different language – but it bears the mark of Islamic conquest and is spoken by a very high % of population. And the colonization of Urdu on Indian Muslims is very recent and not direct result of mediaeval conquests.

          2. # qureshi,
            The genetic data also shows an east west continuum for Steppe (correct me if I am wrong here), and nothing out of the ordinary is happening on the Indus plain that is significantly different from this continuum. (if Aryans populated the Gangetic plain, the data would have an opposite west-east continuum for steppe).
            this is similar to the o i t hypothesis using linguistics, i think.

          3. @gaurav

            — These theories seem very contrived and don’t really add up when all facts are lined up together. The IVC predated the Aryan yet the IVC inhabitants also speak the Aryan languages. Aryans may have admixture, but this does not explain why lower castes have more AASI and the higher ones have less. The most plausible explanation for this is just like the explanation for every other invader from North West, that established an empire and become the ruling class, often intermarrying upper castes.

            -Very unlikely that mainland India was uncultivated and lowly populated before the Aryans. The Ganges, Indus and various ancient rivers all its tributaries have been flowing since the India since the Indian plate hit the Eurasian plate 50 million years ago, and monsoon climate cycles last over 200,000 years. No reason to believe that the region that’s most suitable for farming was inhabited but uncultivated for over 7,000 years when a major farming civilization was just next door. The Gangetic plain may have some of the earliest domesticated rice cultivation records dating back to 7,000 BCE. Just because we don’t have remains of some old civilization in the Ganges does not mean there wasn’t one. Remains don’t survive humid, and wet weather climates.. it’s not co incidience that the three major ancient civilizations discovered (Egypt, Mesopotamian, Indus) are all located in very arid regions.

            -why needlessly complicate things when they are clear and have a pattern. For a language and religion to permeate the very lowest levels of society, in the pre modern era without effective tools of communication, transport or the might of the modern nation state.. the domination of the ruling elite and the subjugation of the peasantry is quintessential to change the very beliefs and mother tongues. This has happened many times in the past – the Arab conquests changed the religion and languages from Iraq to the Atlantic Ocean, the Turk conquest of Anatolia and Eastern Europe achieved the same, and so did the European conquest of the Americas. Don’t know why people think the Aryans would not have been able to do this in ancient India, Iran & Europe. your argument about peaceful spread of Aryan culture and language would have made sense if India didn’t have a caste system and the castes generally didn’t really skew towards the Aryans at the upper end. This very fact along shows that the Aryan religion and language became the dominant religion and language of India. Yes it may have taken centuries of slow peaceful transmission, but once the top down sturcture is in place, it’s only a matter of time. After the Aryans, the British may very well be the next foreign peoples to completely transmit their own language onto Indians in say a 100 years from now. And it is happening peacefully – even though it would have never have happened without the initial colonization, domination and subjugation which established those structures in the first place.

            — if you think Urdu bears the mark of Islamic domination, then you should think the same of Hindi, since its the exact same language? You can put lipstick on a pig (substitute the organic Farsi loanwords to Tatsam Sanskrit loanwords) .. it’s still a pig. And what do you think of English, a foreign language of the colonizer? And this is just the language we are touching upon, not even discussing how foreigners shaped the region’s religion or nationality.

          4. Gangetic plains were not cultivated before the Arya. This is not a new theory but pretty mainstream academic theory. Also pop density in IVC around 1500bce was said to be drastically lower than 2000bce during the Urban phase of IVC. None of this is contested even academically. Arya did fill in power vaccums or niches.

            We do not have intermediary snapshots of languages from the subcontinent from 1500bce or 1000bce or even 0 AD.

            Also I do not disagree with a lot of what u have said up there.

  6. @s quereshi. if that be case why scriptures had no mention of these things rather ramayan mahabharat is full of how dishonor one woman can cause wars. This is not so in Quranic ideology where kufar slaves can be taken as sex slaves. i think its complex.

  7. @gaurav that what was confusing me, how can people can write gayatri mantra , upanishas, puranas. in valmiki ramayan they say those who look at other wife will be condemned to hell..

    1. Firstly all this Sanskrit canon was composed by an elite class a lot of whom may not be directly part of conquering swathes of armies but only had the ear of the rulers.

      Also this Sanskrit canon is very late composition not work of invaders or migrants but that of natives. As in they had settled by then. Culture of settled people is always going to be different than wanderers.

  8. Fundamentally most people are ok with or even proud of atrocities committed by their side but horrified by the atrocities committed on them. Hindus regarding Aryan conquests vs Muslim conquests. Muslims regarding Arab conquests vs European colonization. Christians regarding European colonization vs Ottoman conquests and so on. Its just part of being human. Most people are not autistic rationalists who would prioritize the abstract over their own kin and kith. I certainly am very hypocritical in this regards, Just accept the fact that a rational debate regarding the atrocities Olympics is nigh impossible and move on.

  9. my whole worry is how to save hindu civilization, i am very worried about this. i feel muslims will kill hindus when in number and powers. very few people are serious about this look into 100 years from now

    1. Ritesh,
      Demography is destiny. So listen to musk and go have as many kids as possible. Teach them dharma and accomplish things. Spread this to others in your family circle.

  10. Another observation of Maratha politics —
    In the congress split between I and O factions in late 1960s, YB Chavan was initially aligned with O faction of S Nigalingappa, Morarji Desai, Kamaraj and other regional leaders. But he switched sides in the middle. Since then Maharashtra has a fairly rare situation for a large state where the same party/coalition in power in Mumbai and Delhi at the same time. I am not sure about the direction of causality or if it is a reinforcing loop.
    I think this is another handicap for any Maharashtra politician angling for PM post in any non-bjp, non-congress led government.

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