All things “Brown” with the Brown Pundits – thoughts on the Carvaka Podcast

Further to Anan’s post below I thought I would share a few thoughts of my own below.

BrownCast Podcast episode 15: conversations with a Carvaka

I enjoyed doing the video cast with Kushal and Omar (Razib was unfortunately not able to join in).

I let myself “go” in this podcast since I had to get up at 4.30 in the morning to get it done so I thought I earnt a bit of a respite.

Ordinarily I’m rather reticent on the podcasts since they aren’t my guests and I also don’t want to venture too many opinions; surprisingly I’m becoming more circumspect in my old age.

At any rate it was a great discussion lots of fun and my penchant for dramatically diverging the conversation was rather welcome (Omar was very on point and it was refreshing to see that Kushal was opinionated as opposed to simply querying).

We did a fair amount of India-Pakistan but I don’t think they were the conventional perspectives. I also have to acknowledge my own biases stem from my background and life experiences.

I wrote a longer post but I decided to private blog it since I didn’t feel it was entirely relevant and I meandered (as I do).

All in I enjoyed the conversation and I found Google Hangouts a surprisingly easy interface. It’s a nice feeling to be “Live”; it was so dark that I didn’t want to switch on video but perhaps I should have and treated the audience to the dawn of a new day..

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SATYASHRAMA: A CONCEPTION OF DHARMIC POLITICS

My good friend MJ wrote an interesting piece on Dharmic Politics. I debated against him last week against the Union. I really enjoyed his speech since it was so well laid out.

SATYASHRAMA: A CONCEPTION OF DHARMIC POLITICS

Gerua: Rediscovering a tinge of renunciation

The full name is bhagwani i.e. the colour of bhagwan which Forbes translates cloth dyed with geru (red ochre), another common name is jogirang i.e. the colour worn by religious mendicants. I collected a few samples and am told that they are all shades of cinnamon brown; the popularity of the colour may be judged from the blazons, seeing that tenne is in every instance only a representative of the lighter shades, and murry (sanguine) in most instances a representative of the darker.

Ṛtaniti and Satyashrama: New Age Dharmic Politics

I see the meta-dynamics of the Universe quite clearly, particularly being a student of Physics myself. A set of laws here, a manner of movement and interaction between entities and forces there. The Universe could have been a vast number of possibilities (in the multiverse picture, they all exist independently) but it is what it is. There is a certain order in the Universe, seemingly self-organizing but yet directed. This is what ancient Indian philosophers and seers called Ṛta. That which maintained this order and respected the nuances of this reality was the Truth or Satya. You may start feeling that I will embark on a detour of philosophy and spirituality next. Not quite. After a lot of reflection and meditating on the nuances of these concepts, I feel there are two core ideas and nuances that matter when one speaks of that wisdom that maintains the  universal order (Ṛtaniti).

An Economy of Social Capital, Personal Social Responsibility and e-Democracy

However, having said that, I also strongly believe in the idea of Swadharma: the tendencies and capacities of the individual, and a system that provides for opportunities and liberty to the same. Some are born with innate abilities to solve mathematical conundrums. Some are born athletes or singers or artists. Not only at the level of abilities but also comfort in undertaking certain pursuits, every person is distinct. Only when this idea and reality is respected can society remain harmonious and efficient. In today’s age, we have a rush to pursue certain kinds of activities. These are guided by aspects of remuneration and prestige many a times, over and above the comfort and interest of the individual in pursuing them.

In Conclusion

In this essay, I have looked at some core ideas of ancient Indian philosophy and tried to synthesize by reasoning and reflection a truly Indian political philosophy – Satyashrama. Today people speak of Hindu nationalism and communal politicking in the same breath. Today people talk of fascism and a culture that has always believed in tolerance and dignity of the individual since times immemorial, again, in the same breath.

Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar – Mj to his friends – likes to be called a student of science, society and sensibilities. He is currently pursuing his postdoctoral research in Physics in the University of Cambridge and is the current Vice President of the Graduate Union of the University of Cambridge.

Having completed his PhD at 25 from the University of Cambridge, he looks forward to exploring Physics at greater depths in the future. His current work relates to studying the symmetries in physical systems and their correlation with entanglement patterns in these systems. This work, being done in collaboration with the Hitachi-Cavendish Laboratory, is all the more relevant given the industrial interest in the application of quantum entanglement in quantum computation. Mrittunjoy enjoys actively engaging with the world of science popularisation, policy and diplomacy, as much as pure research. He has worked actively with the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and bodies such as the Cambridge University Science Policy and Exchange (CUSPE) and BlueSci – the science magazine of Cambridge University, in these areas, both in India and the UK.

Continue reading “SATYASHRAMA: A CONCEPTION OF DHARMIC POLITICS”

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Guest Post: India, a wounded civilization

Rohit will (once technical issues are sorted out) be joining our stable of writers.  Until that happens, he asked me to post this from his own blog:
(again, to be clear, this is not my writing, it is written by Rohit Pradhan)

India: A Wounded Civilization

The facts are starkly clear. The Bangalore branch of a storied bakery chain based in Hyderabad was targeted by certain individuals who forced it to cover Karachi. And replace it with the Indian flag. Never mind that the extant organization was founded by a post-partition Sindhi immigrant in the memory of the land he had been forced to flee in the orgy of the violence which followed India’s partition. The parent chain issued an abject clarification on multiple social media channels reiterating its Indian roots. It wasn’t a homage to Karachi which happens to fall in the Pakistan of 2019 but the city which was home for generations of the ancestors of its founder. The utter absurdity of this entire episode is beyond belief.

Perhaps, one is reading too much into a single incident. Perhaps, in a country of 1.3 billion people, it is easy enough to assemble a mob of few who are offended by everything. Or anything. Or perhaps it is not as singular as it may superficially appear and there are some larger lessons to learn here. Three points follow.

First, Karachi bakery has been forced to issue that absolutely shameful apologia because no one expects the Indian state to protect it from the anger of righteous mobs. The mobs which can cite whatever perverse version of nationalism they are extolling currently. And while the blame for it majorly goes to the ruling dispensation, the fact that its establishment was targeted in a state ruled by the opposition simply can’t be ignored. One formation may encourage this perversity; the other side has mostly abdicated its responsibilities so fearful it is now of rocking the prevailing doctrine. Politics is not a purist sport but if you can’t draw even the most basic distinctions, then it may not be one participating in as well. This is no attempt at false equivalence but underlining the fact that a reassurance from the leaders of Karnataka would have gone a long way in assuaging the frayed nerves of a bewildered organization caught in the middle of India’s cultural wars.

Second, the kind of nihilistic nationalism which thought it fit to assault a blameless commercial organization has sadly received a major assist from the social media. Where hunting down alleged anti-nationals has become a major sport and a pathway to gain popularity, cheap retweets, and potentially significant monetary rewards. The more strident the tone; the more heartfelt the criticism is the absurd logic where even a national icon like Sachin Tendulkar can no longer be insulated by his humongous achievements and services to India.

Liberals can’t escape the blame entirely here: their previous prescriptions of people-to-people contact or decrying war as a priori have failed abjectly to deliver any sensible results. They have long dominated the conversation utilizing similarly convenient rhetorical tools dismissing every criticism as warmongering.

As the narrative has dramatically shifted, they have no epistemological counter to this closing of the Indian mind. In this new world, they have failed to craft a new language which can counter this toxic and self-defeating nationalism. The neo-Right has intuitively understood and adroitly exploited the frustration of ordinary Indians. The liberals have withdrawn from this tough fight favoring the easy environs of their echo chambers facilitating the further normative dominance of this singular version of nationalism. Unless they are prepared to embrace patriotism located in the Indian genius and not their ersatz explication, their further disfranchisement is assured.

Third, writing in the Indian Express, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, has recently argued that India has lost to Pakistan. If further evidence was required of that interrogation of India’s deep psychological wounds: Karachi bakery provides the perfect instance. The anger, the frustration, the fecklessness, the sense of being utterly helpless have found the fullest expression. A country which in its own estimation deserves a place among the comity of the most powerful nations in the world has been utterly shown up. And it has nowhere to hide: unable to counter repeated terror attacks from an apparent also-ran which it had long left behind in its wake.

It maybe couched in the braggadocio of sneering twitter insults and memes recalling 1971, but no one should confuse it for what it really is: utter and complete surrender. Unable to punish the external perpetrators, its sullen frustration has turned inwards: manufacturing villains where none exist. The social media nationalists would indubitably disagree but this is weakness masquerading as strength and vicious backlash corralling the weak. A schoolyard bully lashing out at the vulnerable because even as its parades its strength, it is utterly aware of its decrepitude. A wounded civilization too proud to recognize its own ruins.

It makes one go back and read V S Naipaul’s An area of darkness A stronger criticism of the Indian civilization is yet to be written and its searing postmortem of its psychological wounds has never been surpassed. Unfortunately, because Naipaul was so unsympathetic a figure both as a writer and in his writings, both Indian liberals and nationalists have often misunderstand him as a brown sahib, and not what he really was: a man who wanted to embrace the land of his ancestors, and whose love story went awry.

There is anger, and then there is anger. There is the fury of Naipaul which uses a surgeons’ scalpel to bludgeon a country which had left him frustrated and confused. But it still stems from a deep reservoir of affection almost willing it to do better. And there is anger which is self-destructive; which appeals to the most baser instincts; and which simply can’t countenance the wisdom of a better India.

India must choose wisely. And must select which version serves it better: the defeatism of the inward looking malignancy which has long given up on India, and must therefore pander or the the one which pricks and raves and rants because giving up is simply not an option. And a better future might still arise from the debris of an eviscerated India. And from recognition of its weaknesses.

Naipaul’s next two Indian travelogues were more hopeful of its future. Perhaps therein lies redemption.

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1971, Majlis & Vande Mataram

We wrapped up the debate on 1971; as I quipped I had been forced to “Defend the Indefensible. Most of the audience who spoke up did so in our favour (the audience was very mixed).

Pakistaniyat

I found this an interesting debate because it was extremely difficult subject area; I could have argued for either side but it so happened I was slotted into “Team Pak”, which frankly suited me.

My “Pakistaniyat” is surging at the moment after Iran, Queen of the East, was slighted last week. I’ve realised Pakistan is the Persianate Shield and a stalking horse for our Turanian civilisational-complex. Once we cede the Satrap on the Indus; all chaos follows.

So this debate, which was rather serendipitous since it was only a matter of “timing” (I had gone for Chaat & Chat and then got drafted/enlisted myself in the debate) chimed with my own awakening Pakistani identity; dormant for so long.

However this does not change my pro-Hindu anti-Islam convictions (contradictory much I know). The latest controversy at Majlis is that the old logo had Vande Mataram on it, to which the Pakistanis are objecting to.

Vande Mataram

I’m extremely upset about this since as a Briton I’m rooted in a love for tradition. If the Majlis logo had Vande Mataram when it was founded in 1891 then it must continue the same tradition.

There are understandable concerns about VM’s anti-Muslim bias but Pakistanis must transcend the tit-for-tat mentality. Otherwise I will be making a move to change the name of Majlis to something neutral like “South Asian Gathering.” The Persianate culture did not come to India peacefully but forcefully and if we Pakis are to take on historical slights at every opportunity then we must also accept the dismantling of our shared culture.

VM is a rousing anthem about an ancient people waking up to defend their Motherland. It is a historical fact that those invaders included the Muslims and therefore just as God Save the Queen has some problematic verses so will VM. It doesn’t mean that we have to deny it but rather accept and understand the context in which it arose.

As a Kaffirstani I dislike the intense Pakistani attachment to Islam. Pakistanis must learn now to slice away this reflexive association and start immersing ourselves in a Hindu cultural framework. Just because India destroyed Babri Masjid and assault Allahabad does not give Pakistan any permission to destroy Hindu temples or rename Lakshmi Chowk. In fact Indo-Islamic culture has always been syncretic and Pakistan must embrace the Indian as well as the Islamic.

Cambridge as a South Asian Hub

Incidentally I was the first speaker of the first debate, in over 30 years, of a 128 year old Society that was extremely influential in the politics during the Raj.

As an aside Cambridge has always been a hub for South Asian politics unlike Oxford; Allama Iqbal, Chaudhary Rahmat, Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi are all associated with the college. I imagine this has to do with Cambridge’s more “radical” politics as opposed to Oxford being more conservative and establishment driven.

What I enjoy about Majlis is that it chimes so well with my online interests in BP and BC (BrownCast). A decade (patchy at times) of BP gives me a rather deep familiarity with the minutiae of South Asian contemporary politics and history..

The arguments on 1971

I made two arguments (we were limited 5 minutes each) and I got a bit carried away so I thundered them (at heart as a Kaffirstani, I’m quite the chameleon in my relentless need to blend in I take on lots of different roles):

(1.) The cause for a Just War. India did not sufficient explore diplomatic or international consensus. India as an “aggressive power”; 1948 Hyderabad, 1963 Goa and of course 1971 East Pak.

Furthermore the need to establish some greater consensus was not geniune as the Soviet Union was trying to avoid conflict a month before.

(2.) The nuclearification of the Subcontinent stemmed immediately from 1971 (December 1971 the war was lost, Jan 1972 Pakistan began the nuclear program).

I’ve heavily condensed my two arguments but I was only meant to deliver the main thrusts.

I was followed by my very good friend MJ, who’s a brilliant postdoc physicist (he’s Indian Hindu but his ancestors are from Dhaka). He structured his arguments as follows:

(1.) India was forced to act on its principles and help midwife the Bangladeshi people to freedom.

(2.) The genocide of the Bangladeshi people (he prefaced his remarks with gonimoter maal).

Following that we had some other argument (3 Prop, 3 Opp including ourselves) however my second Prop focused on the “hypocrisy” of Indian foreign policy.

To cut a very long story short I do think the Prop carried it because we did not contest the need for Bangladeshi independence but rather drew upon the reasons for Indian interference in 1971.

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Trevor Noah disses India?

I wrote a rather incendiary post about the whole incident. However I posted it to my private blog as I’m trying to be less polemical. I’m surprised by how unnecessarily “personal” Zainab’s attack on Trevor was but that is a very Muslim thing to do*.

I would have said that he dissed South Asians but the fact is that if one parses his words; it’s directly targeted towards India.

I thought Omar’s analysis was the best I’ve read so far but I disagree with his conclusion. Trevor called the war for Pakistan; in the battle of global perception Pakistan, which is a bankrupt & failed state, has won a huge win as being seen as an equal & rival to economically ascendant India.

When a lion fights with a mouse, he makes the mouse his equal. India managed to do that in the latest round when she should pick her enemies more judiciously.

It really takes a particular type of strategic genius for India to have turned Pakistan back into a Sino-Arab Satrapy, echoing the Achaemenid ownership of the Indus, when it should have been India’s Muslim frontier.

India should have made turned Pakistan into an Austrian Bantustan**, an ineffectual state but exceptional useful respository of pan-South Asian High Culture, the demotic version of which is Hindustani.

Continue reading “Trevor Noah disses India?”

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Afghan Peace Process; Postscript

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Following was an exchange with an old Afghan hand of ISI.  It may be of interest to some.  His comments in normal font; mine in bold.

26 February 2019

 Thanks Sir for opening more windows;  My comments essentially of a wandering dervish in red in your main text;

Hamid

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Dear HH,

A very thought provoking analysis with indepth knowledge of situation in Afghanistan.  My take:

  1. No party can have total control over Afghanistan particularly psuedo democracy.(You are correct that no single party is strong enough to impose its will on the whole country.  In good old times, a chap like Amir Abdur Rahman put the fear of God by beheading a large number of tribal leaders and exiling others far away from their homeland.  In this way, he was able to impose a central state on reluctant Afghans. Times have changed.  It is time for a grand bargain and compromise although I’m not sure whether Afghans are ready for it.)
  2. Taliban will emerge as the largest group but will not be allowed total control by big powers. Fear CIS & Russians from fundamentalists will keep them supporting tajik and uzbek groups.(Correct.  Interests of many countries are divergent and each state will support its own proxy.  It is fine as long it is for political jockeying but all need to be mindful that one heated argument after endless cups of green tea can tempt one to reach for AK-47.  This urge needs to be controlled. If not then;

aur ja’am toteein gein; iss sharab khane mein)

3.hazaras & other shia gps having tasted part  powers will not easily succumb to Taliban rule. (Another reason for all Afghans to go for a bargain.  Like many highlanders, Afghans of all ethnicities have a distorted sense of honor.  They are willing to settle scores with gun for whatever perverted reason.  However, their grandmother is begging on the street, young son is molested in coal mines of Baluchistan (Shahrag mining town in Baluchistan is the most heinous place in this regard where boys as young as 8 or 9 from FATA and Afghanistan are being molested on daily basis) or daughters going into prostitution to put food on the table in Pakistan & Iran, and their honor is nowhere to be found. Reminds me the words of an American who had worked in Afghanistan.  He lived with his family among Afghans and worked in 1970s in Jalalabad for several years.  In mid 2000s, he went back for a trip to Jalalabad. He said that Afghans were poorer then but had honor.  Now they are richer but have lost their honor”. Hegel defined courage and bravery as “Courage among civilized peoples consists in a readiness to sacrifice oneself for the political community) Continue reading “Afghan Peace Process; Postscript”

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Arundhati Roy on Kashmir; Pakistan is simply another Bantustan

A quick note on Ms. Roy’s thoughts:

NEW DELHI —With his reckless “pre-emptive” airstrike on Balakot in Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inadvertently undone what previous Indian governments almost miraculously, succeeded in doing for decades. Since 1947 the Indian Government has bristled at any suggestion that the conflict in Kashmir could be resolved by international arbitration, insisting that it is an “internal matter.” By goading Pakistan into a counter-strike, and so making India and Pakistan the only two nuclear powers in history to have bombed each other, Modi has internationalised the Kashmir dispute. He has demonstrated to the world that Kashmir is potentially the most dangerous place on earth, the flash-point for nuclear war. Every person, country, and organisation that worries about the prospect of nuclear war has the right to intervene and do everything in its power to prevent it.

I followed another link to this article, In Pulwama Bomber Adil Ahmad Dar’s Village, It’s Another Day, Another Death, and I was shocked to see that the bomber was a native Kashmiri.

In Pulwama Bomber Adil Ahmad Dar's Village, It's Another Day, Another

Kashmir is on fire and the Indian government doesn’t seem to have realised just how much of an own-goal this incident has been.

India should be viewing Pakistan and Bangladesh as the West Bank & Gaza Strip of the Subcontinent. These Muslims Republics are a great place for India’s demographics to be absorbed and in retrospect 1971 was not the great victory for India.

India pretends to be Israel but Israel has a strict Jewish First policy whereas India is territorial focussed. Israelis don’t hunker for a land between the Sea & the Euphrates but stay within defensible borders and hold on to their cantonments.

India shouldn’t be fighting corrupt Pakistani generals and businessmen; it should be bribing them. If Pakistan tomorrow becomes 5 banana republics; the Punjab border would be overwhelmed with Muslim refugees.

Post 1971 India was left with:

An estimate made in the year 2000 placed the total number of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India at 1.5 crore, with around 3 lakh entering every year. 

I imagine the majority of these illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are not Hindu.

Like Israel, India will soon have to decide whether it wants to have a solidly Hindu future (with compliant Hindufied minorities) or a “Akhand Bharat.”

But deep down Indians, of all stripes (Hindutva included), cannot bear to part with Pakistan & Kashmir. There is an atavistic bond Hindus/Indians have to this mythical Mughal fantasy, that they just can’t quit Pakistan.

Any sensible Hindu leader would be advocating partition upon partition to isolate and quarantine these bantustan Pakistans. Isolated, weak, divided and led by a corrupt Muslim elite drunk on Indian money; these little Pakistans would have been wonderful pawns of India.

Instead India’s loss will be China’s gain; Israel doesn’t do such mistakes.

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Complete Victory For Imran Khan

Pakistan is offering to return the pilot as a gesture of goodwill. Huge humiliation for India on every level.

I’m extraordinarily impressed with Imran’s handling of the crisis. This is the end of Modi, who should have been the Indian Benjamin Nethanyahu.

Pakistan has been cool, strategic and conciliatory while India has been bombastic, hotheaded and bloodthirsty. Completely outfoxed and to lose in a dogfight with Pakistan is a big shame on the Indian air-force. Continue reading “Complete Victory For Imran Khan”

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BrownCast Podcast episode 18: India and Pakistan; Confrontation in the Subcontinent

Image result for kashmir crisisAnother BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunes and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above. You can also support the podcast as a patron (the primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else…). Would appreciate more positive reviews.

In this episode Razib and Omar talk to Major Amin and Dr Hamid Hussain. Major Amin and Dr Hamid are familiar to our readers for their regular contributions on military history. In this episode we discuss the current India-Pakistan confrontation and what comes next. Events may have moved on even as this gets posted, but I am sure listeners will find it an interesting review of the military and political aspects of the crisis.

Postscript: I may have been too hasty in concluding that only one plane was lost that day. It seems that witness accounts and initial Pakistani claims all mention two aircraft. Pakistan says that was another Indian plane, Indians say it was a PAF F-16. Right now, all we can say is that Abhinandan’s MiG 21 crashed without a doubt.. what happened to the second plane and who was it? We don’t know yet for sure.

Note from Razib: I tried my best, but there were a few issues with the sound on this podcast. But since the substance is timely and hard to find elsewhere I think it’s worth it!

Image result for kashmir crisis

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