Migrations have defined the story of humanity. From the great exodus out of Africa to taming the Patagonian wilds, layer upon layer of settlement would create continuums of people across the world. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, would describe this layering of society as a palimpsest, a parchment on which the original writing had been reused or refaced with new writing yet fragments of the old remain. No two societies fulfill this idea of a palimpsest better than India and America, albeit in different ways. Rhodes and Romans and the Renaissance and Rousseau would form a chain of thought bursting into a revolution as America recognized the Atlantic and ripped itself from Great Britain. Integral to this upstart nation was immigration. Echoing their fantastical Roman roots, Americans would be raised by wolves in this new wildland and welcomed any man dogged enough to join their ranks.
A dream was promised and sung across the world of this virgin country of opportunity and tenacity. This torch-bearing democracy would soon attract denizens of a land that hosted one the earliest forms of democracy in the world. Small numbers of Indians would settle on the golden coast of California in the 19th century. The iconic American revolutionary zeal and thirst for democracy would inspire some Indians to found the Ghadar Party in San Francisco in order to fulfill the destiny of a free India. Bhicaji Bhalsara, a Parsi from Bombay, was the first Indian to gain naturalized US citizenship in 1909 after a lengthy court battle. A small trickle of immigration would continue until the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act did away with national quotas paving the way for larger amounts of Indians to migrate.
What are the broader takeaways from the apparent success of India trained CEOs in the US ? The usual Darwinian (best and brightest) or ‘sheer population’ arguments are attractive but dont withstand scrutiny. A broader explanation is that India has been disproportionately successful in producing corporate leaders (much like certain populations in the past were successful at producing generals or merchants), and due to trade and immigration links, some of its success has overflowed to the US as well.
Since 1984, India’s stock exchange has provided returns of an astounding 10,000%. Even the Dow Jones (3700%) has returned a fraction of the BSE’s returns.
This is a nearly forty year period, enough to average over most bear arguments. It spans the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kuwait War, 9/11 attacks, the Great Recession, the arrival of the internet, AI and smartphones. Given India’s strictly mediocre economic fundamentals in the 1980s, the success of listed Indian companies over an extended duration points to successful resource and work management.
Corporate India has played a much bigger role in India’s economic expansion than corporate China in China’s meteoric rise. The US tech sector has reaped an unanticipated reward of this fact. Globally though, the much more important economic implication is that India’s GDP rise is likely to be felt via private corporations, in contrast to China’s SOE heavy BRI.
Jimmy Carter the good Christian in 1979 started a policy in Afghanistan that birthed Islamic Extremism and worldwide destabilization that still continues to this day. Jimmy Carter and his National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski funded (over a USD billion) and armed mujaheddin (jihadists) who would later become the Taliban. (Operation Cyclone)
Fast forward to 2001, Carter’s chickens hatched into the attacks on the U.S on September 11, 2001. Not much different from the Indian Indira Gandhi trained and funded LTTE attacking the Indian Army and assassinating her son Rajiv Gandhi, the PM of India.
Then the next round started with George Bush bombing Afghanistan, while 9 of the 9/11 suicide terrorist were from Saudi Arabia. That was the war on Terror and axis of Evil, and much like the war on Drugs just keeps giving and giving (more on that later)
Carter’s Afghan war lead to the destruction of that developing nation. Afghan women were launched back into the future of the 13th century, and the war killed over a million Afghan men, women and children. For over forty years Afghanistan has been a humanitarian disaster. Between 562,000 and 2,000,000 civilians were killed and millions of Afghans fled the country as refugees.
If one reads most Western Media, Head Chopper Taliban and other Islamic groups are considered barbaric. Really, so bombs dropped on Wedding groups, women and children and similar is not barbaric. The lucky ones die instantly, some other have hours or days of trauma with half their body parts whereever. The really unlucky ones manage to survive, with mind and body barely functional. US war veterans are begging on the streets are spat on and referred to by “armchair warriors” as “fxxxing losers”. (30,177 U.S. veterans post-9/11 wars have died by suicide).
All these US wars were sold to the US public as the need to promote Democracy, Human Rights, Womens Rights (and in Carters time Capitalism). It was basically a “Look There” to the US public while the MIC (Military Industry Complex a term coined by President Eisenhower) stole trillions. Wall Street made out like bandits too with Obomba and Trump bail outs. The smoke and mirror propaganda is falling apart, in the US and all over the world, courtesy the Covid Pandemic and US defeat by a rag tag, flip flop wearing group.
The Numbers for Afghan War and Comparison with Vietnam
The take home points of comparison of Afghan War with Vietnam
a) Afghan war cost was double that of Vietnam War (in todays dollars).
b) Vietnam war had 20 times US service death, i.e. boots on the ground, indicative of a determination to win.
c) Much less civilian deaths in Afghan War (approx 50 times less). Dropping bombs for sake of expending ammunition.?
Economic Bottom Line: US has 23 Trillion in Debt, thats a 107% Debt/GDP.
The whole reason for US being in Afghanistan was to siphon off US tax payer money. A huge portion of the 2.2 Trillion spent.
Sold to US taxpayer as Nation Building, Womens Rights the works.
Just some 2500+ US combat deaths much much less than in Vietnam (58,000+). Too many deaths and the US public would be against the war.
Like Christianity and Civilize the Savages, Democracy, Human Rights are just smoke and mirrors to loot from the invaded country. However, to loot natural resources takes time and investment, and no guarantees of very profitable returns (exception Libya; instant return, the 140 tonnes of Gold was whisked away).
For the kleptocrat mentality (MIC and Wall Street) the looting of natural resources is too long a time frame. So someone figured out, much easier to steal from US public.
a) Start a war,
b) Fund with debt
c) Skim huge percentage on weapons, development programs.
d) Drop plenty of bombs to justify purchase of more.
d) Make sure casualties are low so public wont be against war.
The Brits were much better at “resource extraction” with their colonialism. Created a brown nose class to keep the natives in check. Built infrastructure, eg railways and “exported” natural resources back to Britain. However, that took a good hundred years.
Wrapping it up
Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed. (Orwell 1984)
This has been the biggest wealth transfer from the middle class and blue collar to the 1% and the 10%. What will happen when the tide recedes and those earning less than 60K/year find out they have been lied to, specially the MAGA crowd.
So whats next
a) The prediction of the graveyard of Empires ?
b) What form will it take, eg end of Capitalism.
c) US image as a moral leader and indispensable nation
d) US image as the foremost military power
For those who want to delve into the esoteric, this is movement of Pluto into Capricorn, that last happened around 1776. (eg Turning Point: The United States’ Pluto Return interesting history too, eg repatriation of 400K Mexican Americans around 1933).
Finally: These are not my brilliant insights. Much like Newton said, stand on shoulders of Giants. Just been reading since about 2005, Matt Tabbibi, Matt Stoller. Specially Satyajit Das and Raguram Ranjan who gave me insight into Derivatives.
From the War Nerd
The wonderful thing about this kind of spending, in the deeply corrupt lobbyist world of DC, is that it shunts tax dollars directly to the stockholders, connected military firms like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, et al., legislators, military brass milking the DoD/corporate link, and even lowly CIA contractors like Johnny Spann —without angering a single taxpayer or benefiting them in any way.
And so, rather than upset their fellow shareholders, GWB, then Obama and Trump, just nodded and smiled at the conveyor-belt of $100 bills. The beauty is the corruption in the US system. Book deals, Speaker fees all legal. Just many ways of laundering bribes. https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/08/the-war-nerd-was-there-a-plan-in-afghanistan.html
The world is surprised, and now even memeing, about the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, the outside country most responsible for this (unless you count America and the stupidity of its occupation strategies as the most responsible) there have been broadly three camps on this. The majority feeling was one of awkwardness, trepidation and a calling of the equivalent of councils of war. In the Army Chief’s staff rooms, in the Prime Minister’s and Chief Ministers and political party heads’ secretariats and across media stations in Pakistan, the national security and Afghanistan experts were on display and they were giving their council to their respective audiences on what was happening with the fall of Kabul and what it meant.
A smaller minority was one that was sometimes part of this but also openly condemning the takeover of the Taliban. Honourable mention should go to the Women’s Democratic Front for openly condemning the takeover of Afghanistan and various branches of Pakistan’s new-on-the-scene Aurat March (Women’s March) parroted their view. Frankly, I am very happy for the Aurat Marchers to get an explicit foreign policy – that would be cool. The PPP, as far as I can tell did not explicitly condemn the Taliban takeover in Kabul and as far as I know, no Pashtun nationalist formation did either, although if the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement did, I am waiting for their views.
Lastly, I have to mention the Taliban supporters. From heads of religious groups, to Taliban and ’80’s Afghan Mujahideen fanboys in the Pakistani media, this was, I feel, an even smaller group, restricted by age, that was openly hailing the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. It really was/is a sight to behold to see men in the media, of or beyond retirement age, hailing the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban – a sick joke. My guess is younger fans of the Taliban were either intelligently hiding, or more likely taking part in either jihadi ops or doing propaganda or harassment for the Taliban. So the pro-Taliban crowd inside Pakistan might be quieter than its portrayed – a bit like Italy after it switched ides in WWII to join the Allies against Germany.
But that’s Pakistan. What about India? This is one time BP commenters are welcome. Sound off and tell us what the Indians thought about the Taliban, what were the camps inside the country and how large they are.
Postcript — The Pakistan government and establishment’s view:
The official Pakistan government view, of the foreign ministry, the part allegedly controlled by Imran Khan says that they will not stick their neck out as an individual country and will only recognise Taliban control of Afghanistan if a group of countries, likely Russia, China and Iran, all simultaneously recognise the Taliban’s control of Kabul. I used the word alleged, because the foreign ministry takes its marching orders from the Pakistan Army’s General Hear Quarters, Imran Khan is fine with that, and so the foreign ministry’s views are the Army and establishment’s views.
I started yesterday with a news article about how US intelligence said that the Taliban could take Kabul in 90 days. After the previous week had been filled with over half a dozen Afghan provincial capitals falling, it became clear that the Taliban were deploying all their strength across the country to capture as much territory and control as they could before US forces pulled out before the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
While the news of those northern cities falling had been bad, and it was felt that the Taliban were likely trying to prevent a replay of the 1990’s Afghan civil war when the north fought them for five years, 12th August got progressively grim. It started to seem that the Taliban were not just going to put a knife to the Afghan government’s throat (and northern escape routes) by taking Tajik and Uzbek cities, but rather box Kabul in. This became clear when not just small towns but larger Afghan cities were put on the chopping block by the Taliban’s offensive. There is a wave of anti-Shia mobilisation across the region and I suspect that it also might have something to do with the expanded, multi-ethnic Taliban mobilisation in the north of Afghanistan. As these provinces border the ex-Soviet Central Asian states, and ISIS school-shooter sectarianism has had salience in many places where Muslims were previously considered un-radicalised or nominally secular, I suspect Taliban lines might not be a bad place for Central Asian, Afghan or even Pakistani potential ISIS recruits to flee.
As news of more fighting came in, the reports of Herat and Kandahar in the north-west and south of the country respectively, being surrounded and attacked threw whatever strategic calculus the great powers thought they had in Afghanistan, into the bin.
The updates from panicked civilians about the Taliban attacks killed whatever illusions about America having a semi-peaceful withdrawal from Afghanistan, or Pakistan smoothly sliding a re-furbished Taliban into power in Kabul, might have been harboured by the countries that have sponsored destructive wars in that nation since the eighties. The distressed calls, postings, video reports of Afghan citizens, especially educated women trapped in these cities, came flooding out. No one was crying but everyone was deadly serious.
Simultaneously, clips of refugees flooding out of captured cities, camps of the displaced going up in Kabul and where the government stood were broadcast. Among the wretched sights was the Afghan military vehicles zooming out of cities and from among people they were supposed to defend were broadcast as afternoon turned to evening, and then night fell.
The west, south and north of Afghanistan are out of that government’s hand. Kabul is boxed in. If you look at the map above, it’s sitting in the open jaws of Taliban controlled territory.
The BBC generally has the best maps, and frankly the best and most accurate, un-sentimental coverage on the rout in Afghanistan of the Kabul government. Hey, I guess after four disastrous wars into a country, they end up knowing their stuff. The second best coverage is by Al Jazeera, which also sobered up once it stopped sourcing its maps from neo-conservative American outfits, and ditched a sort of mawkish patronising tone for the Afghans.
As for America’s intelligence reports, which we started Thursday with – they have achieved the typical notoriety of stupidity that American intelligence reports are known for. By nightfall, the American bureaucrats had, in typical CYA fashion, re-assessed their estimate down to 30 days. That feels optimistic.
Yup. The business groups have already started removing equipment and personnel.
As reports come in of Afghan business interests trying to wrap up and send their equipment, personnel and capital out of the country, and the various state and private banks withdrawing funds to forward abroad, it becomes clear that the Kabul government, especially the career of one President Ashraf Ghani, is very over. At least at the prospect of anything beyond 2021.
30 days. According to a close friend with extensive links in Afghan govt. Apparently they are all set.
What happens to the rest of the Kabul government is anyone’s guess. I don’t know if the Taliban have much to worry about “holding” their territory if part of their offensive was contacting Afghan defence forces commanders and asking them to stop fighting/withdraw or switch sides. A government counter-offensive seems highly unlikely, especially with the hollow, broken Afghan Army that has been described by Major Amin. If the Taliban went in for the kill against the government, then they would win and also be saddled with a lot of prisoners, many extremely high value ones as well as seas of refugees and an isolated country. I suspect they might be willing to live with that. You can visit the link below to see Pashtana Durrani describe the consequences of the Taliban taking over her city.
“This means losing your houses, your dreams, your goals, your ambition… everything.”
Pashtana Durrani, executive director of an NGO for girls' education speaks to @krishgm from Kandahar in Afghanistan, a city under siege by the Taliban. pic.twitter.com/j6qUPzDkP3
From Major Amin. As time goes on, we will no doubt see more information about how the USA “lost Afghanistan”. At the level of American PR/media the blame will mostly fall on Pakistan for now, since there is a lot of truth in it and it gets the clowns who run the state dept and the pentagon off the hook (or so they think) but in time the details about how the US mismanaged its project will also become prominent.. this is one of them. (To some extent it is a structural issue.. Americans live so far above/away from Afghan (or even Pakistani) reality.. well intentioned ones have no framework that remotely resembles situation on the ground, ill intentioned ones only want to make money or have fun killing gooks)
WHAT HAPPENED TO AFGHAN NATIONAL ARMY
Major A.H Amin (Retired)
what happened to afghan national army
Agha H Amin
Arm chair strategists are taking great delight in criticizing Afghan Army for collapsing in face of so called Taliban onslaught.
“A little knowledge of philosophy , inclineth man towards atheism” as the adage goes but , “depth in philosophy bringeth back man to God !” This is how I will describe these novices and critics !
The first point to be noted is that armies are not created by US firms like Military Professional Human Resources International in a decade but a long process spanning centuries.
The real Afghan Army with traditions dating back to 1719 or 1747 was destroyed by joint US Pakistan design about 1978-1992 when a proxy war was financed in Afghanistan.
Characters like Peter Tomsen went out of their way to destroy the real Afghan Army between 1989 and 1992 , just because it was viewed as Pro Soviet or Pro Russian entity.
Afghanistan had no army between 1992 and 2001.
In 2001 the USA initiated efforts to create a new army but this exercise had ulterior motives. First the exercise was awarded to contractors which was the first blunder.
US myopia and petty mindset was such that USSR trained pilots , available in thousands were not reemployed as they were regarded as Russian proxies !
While the USSR trained many thousand Afghans in USSR and Warsaw Pact states, US petty parsimony and narrowmindedness was such that hardly any Afghan was taken to the USA for courses.
Instead characters who no one would employ in USA , and had no options were in Afghanistan training the Afghan Army.
To give an example , the main project supervisor of Schools and Clinics program in Louis Burger was a male nurse ! To entrust billion dollar construction projects to a male nurse was ludicrous.
My driver and many taxi drivers I met were outstanding war pilots trained for 5 years in USSR and with combat flying experience between 3000 hours to 15,000 hours !
Tanks were regarded as future threat and armour was hardly created or organised.
The list is endless but will never be investigated like Louis Burgers billion dollar failure published by Washington Post as a “BUILDING PLAN FULL OF CRACKS” , LATE 2005 !
The simple issue was security ! US trainers were simply SCARED that they would get shot in the back !
SO THERE WAS HARDLY ANY TRAINING !!!
I saw some of these contractors in Kabul when I was living about 110 metres from gate of Kabul Compound or camp Eggers !
These characters were here to do hole punching and make some bucks and not to create an army. So the real spirit was missing .
The USA preferred so called ex Mujahids which was a bad idea.
The best Afghan officers like Ulumi etc were never taken in the loop as they were considered pro Russian.
Many old Afghan Army officers joined but these were sabotaged by the Mujahid Mafia who were a collection of USA, Pakistan or so many other state proxies who had destroyed their own country between 1978 and 1992 !
The unkindest cut was delivered by this character Ashraf Ghani who between 2014 and 2019 summarily removed 90 % of pre 1992 Afghan Army officers , thus totally destroying the Afghan Army !
The incompetent US staff in Kabul did not oppose this most IDIOTIC and FOOLISH step !
Or perhaps it was US design that Afghan Army should collapse quickly so that the Taliban are back in power and then they can be sorted out properly !
The collapse of Afghan Army has to be seen in the context of the fact that FIRST the USA and its proxy states DESTROYED the REAL AFGHAN ARMY in 1978-92 ! Then the RECONSTRUCTION of AFGHAN ARMY by the USA was a SHALLOW EXERCISE , MARRED by MASSIVE CORRUPTION and a BAD TEAM . Lastly no army can be created in 20 years . FINALLY Ashraf Ghanis Removal of the REAL AFGHAN ARMY OFFICERS BETWEEN 2014 AND 2019 WAS THE DEATH SENTENCE OF AFGHAN ARMY !
Every time I used to play a strategy video game, my mind was firstly on money. Creating an income stream as well as buildings and units to magnify that income stream was the primary priority of my gameplay. Only then could I exercise my will and wrath on the codes of computer programming that were my enemies. I think recent history has shown us this is a powerful stratagem, especially on this side of the Atlantic.
When the halls of power echo your voice, when titans of commerce and capital don your colors, when hallowed institutions bow to your ritual, does that make you a revolutionary? Well it does in today’s America.
It’s all a bit odd. Millions of fire-breathing activists believe they are fighting a once in a millennium battle against the forces of oppression stemming from a white supremacist state, greedy capitalist mega-corporations, and various organizations that toe the aforementioned’s line; yet all of the power centers mentioned agree with the ideology of this “resistance.” So what are they really even resisting?
History shows its style when it rhymes and repeats. The poetry of the past is a delight but can be a disaster once it reaches the present. I believe we are seeing many of those themes today. What is happening in the digital realm took place centuries ago in the physical realm. The Dark Ages beckon us in order for us to see the light of the day.
Continue reading Disinformation Feudalism
COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the lives of young children, students, and youth. The disruption of societies and economies caused by the pandemic is aggravating the pre-existing global education crisis and is impacting education in unprecedented ways.
Brown Pundits- Shahada, a UK College Lecturer, discusses COVID-19 with Michelle Kerr, a Maths Teacher from California. They compare their experiences, concerns and impact.
Covid-19 has impacted on Education on so many levels and there are many parallels with society in general:
COVID-19 is having a negative impact on young people’s mental health. We are concerned that, with most young people not currently attending school and many young people not having access to resources and materials with which to learn, there will be a subsequent detrimental effect on both academic attainment and wellbeing. Exams have been cancelled in many states and here in the UK. This is having a negative impact on attendance and motivation.
The COVID-19 crisis is likely to have a long-lasting impact on young people’s mental health and the services that support them, including schools and children’s services. The Government must consider this throughout its emergency response and policies to recover from the crisis. Has COVID-19 highlighted pre-existing decline in mental health?
The impact, particularly on groups who are already disadvantaged, is likely to widen existing inequalities and to contribute to a rise in young people looking for mental health support. Is this a reflection and consequence of inequality in education?
Discussions touched upon the existence of hierarchy in education and its parallels in greater society? For instance, will deprived students disproportionately be disadvantaged? Ultimately is this a reflection of class privilege?
A controversial point discussed was weather Teachers have a professional responsibility to physically go into the classroom. Both expressed very different perspectives!
Its been argued that Standardised tests are not an accurate representation of a student’s abilities and they lack reliability. We touched upon the controversial issue of removing standardised testing in education. Weather standardised testing should be formally put to an end. Has the removal of standardised testing been accelerated as a consequence of COVID-19? Will this result in a lowering of standards and skills? And again which group will be disadvantaged and advantaged?
Time will tell, the true long term impact of COVID-19 on Education…….
One of my earliest memories of my childhood is watching the Mahābhārat with my dad. After we dropped my mom off for her night shift at the factory, we would return home, and a black rectangle filled with film would catapult me into a confusingly wondrous world. From the magical arrows whizzing through battlefields to the terrifying image of Time, the narrator of the epic, transposed across a cosmic abyss, I was glued to a story I couldn’t truly grasp but loved at the same time. I could barely understand what the characters were saying (I spoke Gujarati at home, not the hyper Sanskritized Hindi in the serial) and was too young to read the English subtitles fast enough. I would constantly interrupt my dad, many times to his annoyance, but he would still lovingly explain these stories that would make an imprint on me for the rest of my life.
As my life passed, I would see so many of the stories from the Mahābhārat play out in my life and in the world around me. The blind love of a long-gone Dhritarāshtra came alive with my parents, who showed me love, despite my bad behavior, my failures, and my unending ingratitude, one of my greatest flaws. Their love was uncompromisingly unequivocal, and I was an unworthy Duryodhan. I saw the struggles and rise of “low-born” Karna with my own family, as we grew from a family who couldn’t even afford to spare money to buy a popsicle from the ice cream truck that taunted me every day as it passed by my house to slavishly building a motel business in the middle of nowhere to selling it and owning a nice single-family “American Dream” home with many fewer worries than we grew up with. And perhaps most importantly, I saw the devotion or bhakti of Rādhā through my family’s Hindu faith and regular attendance to our local temple – a tradition that grounded us through tough times and brought a sense of community, fellow “gopis” perhaps to share our lives and love with.
Those evenings watching the words of Vyāsa transform into images will forever be special to me. For those nights would fuel the dreams of my days as I grew up connected to a timeless culture and values. And they would doubly serve me when I learned of the nightmarish state of my fellow Hindu diaspora with regards to their views on Hinduism and Hindus.
In The Battlefield
To find the answer to the titular question, I did a bit of “field reporting” one weekend with my fellow Hindu-American friends starting off with a simple question:
The most common responses were along the lines of:
“What injustices faced by Hindus are you talking about?”
“I honestly don’t know what type of issues we face, besides normal ‘brown’ discrimination here.”
“I’ve never seen any from the media I consume” A general theme of genuine innocent unawareness was what I saw.
So I prodded further and mentioned the atrocities Hindus face in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even parts of India. Yet Still, the answer was “I literally never heard this before.”
Then came a visible sense of discomfort, and I know why. My question then silently morphed to “Why don’t you stand up for your own people” in their minds. I didn’t need to spell it out, but it turned into those very cutting words – why don’t you stand up for your own…
The rapes, the forcible conversions, the killings, the discrimination, the demographic collapse all signaling horrors that didn’t have any similar magnitude of rivals in India. The initial response was denial or wishing away the numbers I gave them: “Oh how do you know all that happened to them?!” “Maybe they converted willingly!”
I kept unpacking this. I ask them, “why do you think this way?” Note – I tried to avoid a confrontational tone as much as possible, just neutral questioning so as to not pry open any vitriolic reaction. They talked about their parents’ hysteria over Pakistan, their WhatsApp forward fueled hatred, etc… I tried to explain to them that the equivalence wasn’t there. That the magnitude of what happens to Hindu minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh is much worse presently and historically than what happens to non-Hindu minorities in India.
But they just weren’t having it.
“I don’t believe you. India is just as bad”
Now, India is of course not perfect, now or historically. But it is a work in progress. It is diversity in action in a way very few countries (The United States and Brazil are the only ones that come to mind) can compete with. India is pluralism, both its virtues and flaws.
By this point, we linked up with a few other friends and the conversation dropped. But let’s continue this theme with a few other independent observations and anecdotes.
Modi equals Trump – this fantastically false idea is an atomic bomb on one’s perception of India. A very simple notion that has a number of externalities. Hindu-Americans are fairly “woke” from my personal experience, and Indian-Americans heavily lean Democrat. Standard diatribes against “45” are common when talking politics with my Hindu-American friends. I don’t really care as I don’t support him, but the Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) gets tiring after a while.
Policy-wise (you know, the actual actionable impact that changes people’s lives and futures), Modi has done more socialism in one term than Bernie Sanders will ever do in his lifetime. The comparison fails at almost every metric:
Modi has enacted a litany of “socialist” measures and welfare schemes including:
Swacch Bharat – an initiative to rid India of open defecation by building toilets as well as raising menstrual health awareness for women.
Ayushman Bharat – Extending healthcare to India’s poorest 500 million people and continuously expanding.
Ujjwala Yojana – Providing 60+ million poor households with free liquid petroleum gas connections that are safer and more healthy than traditional wood-fired methods.
Jal Jeevan Mission – Along with a frenetic infrastructure push to integrate India’s rural and poor, an integral piece has been Jal Jeevan, where households are connected to give every Indian rural household a tap water connection by 2024; luckily something that is well on its way to being achieved.
A massive push for renewable energy as India integrates solar energy at an unseen scale amongst the world in order to meet international climate goals and combat local pollution.
Right Wing, Left Wing, “nationalism”, “conservative” and other meaningless labels are even more irrelevant when thrown into the ocean of Indian politics. They sink into nothingness. They’re pointless.
But to many Hindu-Americans, “Right-Wing”, “Nationalist”, “conservative” are terms that immediately make them see red, and “RACIST” pops into their mind in big white letters. I don’t care about your 14 syllable ideology. People see things through simple lenses. It doesn’t matter what Modi and Trump actually do to a lot of people; it matters how they are characterized.
I can’t judge others’ religiosity, but from what I’ve anecdotally seen. Hinduism is many times a more aesthetic/background thing than practice for Hindu-Americans. Sometimes it seems samosa and chicken tikka masala have more weight in their culture than pujas and scripture. Now token ritual involvement happens every time Diwali rolls around, but to me, Hindu-Americans really just aren’t “self-aware.” Funny as Hinduism places so much emphasis on self-discovery and reflection.
Another thing – explicit politics is pretty far removed at American Hindu temples versus other diaspora places of worship. Political rhetoric that’s common at other religious places isn’t a mainstay in mandirs; and honestly, I am glad this is the case. Religion to me is more about immediate community and individual practice rather than political machinations across the Atlantic. I’ve seen firsthand how the ugliness of politics warps American religious communities where identity realpolitik replaces spirituality for many of these “religious adherents.” Where insulting the “Other” is more important than praising the Omniscient.
Ideally, religion would be separate from politics. But we can’t deny a battlefield once we’re on it. Hopefully, temples stay out of the fray of such rhetoric, but Hindu-Americans outside of it strengthen.
So in conclusion, the answer to the question:
1. Genuine unawareness of Hindu injustices driven by media, community, and political organizational blackout. 2. Right-wing and left-wing notions don’t translate well across Indian and American politics. Many Hindu-Americans see red once “right-wing” is mentioned. 3. Religion and politics don’t mix at Hindu temples unlike other religions.
Now while we’ve answered our query, I want to add an addendum to a vile specimen I’ve seen recently amongst the diaspora. Aping their equally contemptible cousins back in the subcontinent, this emergence of Indian-Americans who speak in the poisonous tongues of India’s elites is now slowly seeping into mainstream American culture.
They seek to transplant American history and dynamics onto India just as blindly as India’s elites have over the decades. Equating Hinduism itself to white supremacy and fascism and defining it solely by casteism are standard affairs for this type. They have no ingenuity in their discourse. The blueprint of their commentary is amateur oppression Olympics. Their foundations are self-loathing. Their walls are an echo-chamber blocked off by the soulless skyscrapers of coastal elites on one side and the great blue filter of social media on the other. Their roofs are paid for by verbal prostitution. Their material is so common, yet they have a profound disdain for commoners. They are copy + paste. Many are essentially white progressives with a sprinkling of turmeric and cumin for empty color and scant flavor.
They are from South Asia, not the Indian Subcontinent. Their culture can be summed up into samosas, chicken tikka masala, a few “South Asian” outfits, and henna. Depth is an allergy to them so their roots are forever undiscovered but much-maligned. They will go out of their way to pin every misfortune and misery inflicted upon other minorities as purely due to economics or European imperialism, but will not hesitate to blame the downfalls of India solely on Hinduism and its indigenous culture. On the off chance that they navigate blame to the British, they will remain mum on the equally or even worse atrocities of the Mughals and their hate-filled predecessors. Their silence screams at the scars and ruins of their ancestors’ temples, all to preserve this mythic “solidarity” amongst fellow “South Asians.”
Essentially, they care about what India looks like, not what it is. They seek approval at any cost. But either way and in the end, why should they expose their necks in courage when they can swallow their pride, forever remaining craven?