Asad Durrani Views on Imran Khan

Asad Durrani is an ex-ISI chief (who famously said that the children killed in APS were collateral damage in our (necessary) double game in Afghanistan). This is his commentary on the Imran Khan phenomenon. I am posting it here to give people a window into the mind of  the less jihadi and somewhat higher IQ Paknationalist generals..

 

Of Monsters And Genies

By Lt. Gen (r) Asad Durrani

The Pakistan Army – we may like or lament – does have a unique status in the Country’s polity. As an institution, it has known its limitations in politics, but every now and then, we get a junta that crosses the redline in the naïve belief that the state was created by the Almighty to serve as a lab, and the khaki leadership had divine sanction to experiment to its heart’s content. One catalyst that all these scientists found useful was a civilian façade to cover their flanks and to do the heavy lifting. In vernacular this exercise is called political engineering – and it has bombed always and every time. Nevertheless, true to his DNA, the man on the horseback would rather follow a warrior King, Bruce of Scotland, famously inspired by a spider to try and try again; rather than Einstein, the best of the innovators, who warned against repeating the same recipe and expecting a different outcome.

In the summers of 2018, I was in-and-out of GHQ for a number of unsavoury reasons. But like all the earlier calamities, this one too turned out to be entirely to my benefit. Suspecting that the incumbent brass, like some of its predecessors, was looking for a frontman in Mufti, I pleaded with an important aide of the Engineer-in-Chief to step back since it had never worked in the past. His response left me speechless: “sir we’re going to clean up the country”. I will get hold of him one of these days to convey my compliments—yes it has been swept clean but not exactly the way the men at the helm had in mind. Imran Khan did not turn out to be the broom they hoped he would be.

There is a long list of personal observations and empirical data to show that the man was a megalomaniac – more importantly someone who was seeking a camouflaged parachute to land on the throne. Many a military leader had refused to bite the bait, but four years ago the conman broke through. Whatever happened thereafter is recent history, but an odd development must have taken even his detractors by surprise: IK has won over a good number of fans; educated but impervious to all logic and reason. Most of its members used to vilify him when he was in power, but after his ouster, remorsefully ruminate about the bad old days.

Imran’s credentials for the country’s premiership were built upon two arguments. He brought the 1992 cricket world cup to Pakistan, but one conveniently forgot that he had a great team, whom Imran ignored to thank in his victory speech. And yes, he did raise funds for the cancer hospital in Lahore, for which he was generously helped by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, an iconic artist of international fame, who performed pro bono on a global circuit. After he passed away, Imran bragged that it was he who had introduced the Great Maestro to the world.

As if falling short on some important leadership criteria – taking blame in case of failure and sharing credit in success– was not bad enough, IK invented a disingenuous rule: to be a leader one should be able go back on one’s commitment; and he remained unflinchingly loyal to this devious principle. Worse still, he was spectacularly consistent on non-delivery in all fields of public good. Combating corruption was his leitmotif. Under his watch, Pakistan fell further on the scale. On some fanciful issues too, his record was perfect. No one asked him for an NRO (relief for any misdeeds), but he kept reiterating that he would not give any. He didn’t catch a single thief, but persisted with his resolve not to let anyone escape.

It was thus no surprise when he said “absolutely not” when asked if Pakistan might provide any military bases to the US to resume bombing Afghanistan – even though no one ever demanded them. Answering hypothetical questions was never a good idea but it was still more convenient than addressing the more substantial ones. True to his character, he pampered himself by claiming that he was such a great threat to the American designs that the sole-superpower was hell bent to see his back. Changing regimes is a favourite pastime of the Blob, but it never reveals its nefarious designs through diplomatic channels – which are essentially to posture and not to transmit a policy.

But where IK actually outdid himself was when he expressed his displeasure with the Army for going into the neutral gear, and postulating that only the animals would sit on the fence. Wrong, all the subhuman species are in fact more passionately committed than the mankind. The real cause for his disappointment with the uniformed clan was that after launching him into the corridors of power, it did not jump when he whistled. And then he completely exposed his perfidy by blaming the courts for keeping a round the clock vigil when his party was blatantly violating the constitution.

Indeed, the assemblies should not be dissolved when they’re in business. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan was asked why he was not responding to Benazir Bhutto’s request to call the National Assembly to session! Since he had already decided to sack the government and send the assemblies packing, he was not going to do so when the country’s highest forum was conducting affairs of the state. Dissolving it when a no-confidence motion had been tabled would have been an act of profanity. And therefore, one understood why the PTI wanted the courts to remain in limbo.

But none of the above would make any dent in his loyal following that believes they have found a Messiah and is prepared to follow him to the bottom of the abyss. Look how in unison they’re clamoring for fresh elections – an option they considered absurd only a few months back.

Hardly anyone can predict the outcome of elections in Pakistan. Based on the best available assessment Yahya Khan agreed to hold them in 1970. He had been assured that a hung parliament, which would let the military strongman continue ruling the roost, was the most likely outcome. The result was that he was left with no country to rule. In the elections of 1988, the agencies forecast went wrong in all respects except for the end count. In the present environment if the results would depend upon the size of the crowd on the street or the number not on Twitter but did turn out to vote, I have no idea. But the demand for early elections does serve one purpose – it deprives the successor government the time to stem the rot.
I
n the meantime, there is an urgent need to address a more serious problem.

Military’s installed regimes are often described as a hybrid between the uniform and the civvies. The first recorded case, even though in fictional form, of a cross breed was the Frankenstein’s Monster. It devoured its creator*. Understandably, IK like many of his predecessors is now raring to consume his Godfather. The problem this time around is however a tad more serious. Because of the spell of insanity, he has cast, IK was more like a genie that has come out of the bottle. Anyone knows how to put him back!

*The famous Urdu poet, Pandit Brij Narayan Chakbast had warned us against tinkering with the laws of nature:

zindagī kyā hai anāsir meñ zuhūr-e-tartīb maut kyā hai inhīñ ajzā kā pareshāñ honā (Life is about order in the elements – when they go haywire, we die)

Episode 9: South India from 500-1100 AD

 

Another Browncast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

The history podcast returns to South India. Shrikanth and Mukunda are in conversation with Maneesh, on all things South of Vindhyas from 500-1000 AD. We talk about Chalukyas, Pallavas, Rashtrakutas, Cholas and more. The episode covers the political and cultural history of the period in great detail.  A pivotal figure in sub-continents history- Shankaracharya makes and appearance. As do some of the landmark temples and king’s whose legacy survives to this day.

@shrikanth_krish        @raghman36          @maneesht

Sources and References:

 

  1. A History of South India – KA Nilakanta Sastri
  2. South Indian Inscriptions – Archeological survey of India
  3. Studies in Chola history and administration – KA Nilakanta Sastri
  4. Introduction to Madhaviya Shankara Vijaya – Swami Tapasyananda of RK Mission
  5. The Dancing Siva in Early South Indian Art – Douglas Barrett (paper)
  6. Pallavas and Chalukyas – Coopetition in Stone – Gurpreet Chopra and Bharath
  7. Nalayira Divya Prabandham : https://ramanuja.org/sv/prabandham/prabandham.html
  8. Essay on Advaita Vedanta of Shankara : https://iep.utm.edu/advaita-vedanta/
  9. Essay on Ramanuja and Vishishtadvaita : https://iep.utm.edu/ramanuja/

 

 

 

Book Review: Shrayana Bhattacharya’s Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh-India’s Lonely Young Women and the Search for Intimacy and Independence.

India’s complexity is a perennial source of inspiration for commentary, columns and books.

Shrayana Bhattacharya, a World Bank economist, joins the list of authors who have tried to explain India with their books.

The book is about contemporary Indian women.

Ms. Bhattacharya, who trained in development economics at Delhi and Harvard university, uses her years of experience in primary research, to bring us her own, and stories of women from a cross-section of society.

The cornerstone of these stories is Shah Rukh Khan, one of India’s most famous movie stars.

In a career spanning over three decades, Mr. Khan has built, through his cinema and his off-screen presence, an image of an ‘industry outsider’ who dominates the Hindi film industry with the dint of his hard work and sincerity.

His choice of unconventional roles for a leading man, in the early part of his career, and his off-screen image of a loving husband and family man stand him apart.

This is in contrast with the usual tropes of a male Hindi movies star , the good guy who charms his way to audiences’ heart on screen and whose umpteen romantic dalliances they read in the press.

Khan’s popularity, in the Hindi heartland and amongst the diaspora, is the string Bhattacharya uses to stich tales of gender disparity and loneliness.

We get a ringside view, Bhattacharya takes us through her own and lives of five other women, as they struggle with lack of income opportunities, denial of agency and grapple with every day challenges of living in India, exaggerated by their gender.

What holds these women together is their love for Khan’s cinema and in turn Khan himself.

When they need joy, inspiration in their lives and an escape from every day struggles, the women seek Khan’s onscreen roles and his offscreen persona.

The pictures that Bhattacharya paints, are colored by facts.

The protagonists of her stories come alive, unlike in Khan’s movies, as she vividly explains their lives with a sharp eye for detail.

When giving context to their struggles, she backs her submissions with reams of hard data.

Annexures include a table that captures share of dialogues for women in some of Khan’s movies.

She gives the women who shared their stories and their unbound love for Khan with her, their own voice.

The writing is not rhetorical flourishes with clichés thrown in. That bane of most commentary on India. The book engages.

Even for those who live in India and see the every day reality, the book is thought provoking. The passage where she describes the transactional nature of relationships is worth a chapter of its own.

Where the book misses out is on exploring the other impact of Khan’s filmography.

Barring notable exceptions, Khan’s work since his seminal hit Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, has comprised of Yash Raj school of saccharin cinema.

Movies where characters are super rich, beautiful with ‘love’ as the only thing missing in their lives.

It’s the kind of cinema that’s as far from the everyday India as cinema can get.

Khan and his cinema have done their bit in building the hegemony of ‘How much money do I make? How do I look?’ lifestyle.

The characters in her book struggle with these questions too.

Khan’s role in shaping a consumerist, trying to ‘fit in’/ ‘cool’ individual persona is left unexplored.

I found Khan’s portrayal as an all-India star an over-played hand. Khan’s as much a pan India phenomenon as Dal Makhani, the ubiquitous North Indian delicacy, is a pan India delight. The cinema crazy south Indian states have temples of their movie stars and Khan is not in one of them.

As she writes on the state of affairs, Bhattacharya skips the raging phenomenon sweeping urban India. The Dating app. Where the society has failed markets have stepped in. Technology is helping even the scales for women. The progress is slow and it does not include the majority but it’s a start.

India is a large complex place with everyday challenges being met head on by a young and an energetic populace.

Bhattacharay’s book captures some of these challenges and the forces taking them on, impeccably.

Anybody trying to get a sense of the churn going through India and its society will be well served by this book.

One hopes her fellow commentators will be inspired by her lucid writing and her love for data.






Guest Post: Ali Minai Looks at the Last Days of Imran Khan

Guest Post from Professor Ali Minai.
Now that the “bad drama in Slamabad” is over (temporarily, I’m sure), some reflections.
The opposition’s decision to move no-confidence at this time made no political sense. After all, why rescue an opponent drowning in a vortex of circumstances and incompetence? Imran Khan could have been left to flail around on his own until elections in 2023. The reason that the opposition went for him now must have been something they feared would happen between now and next year that would entrench PTI in power. Imagination suggests options, but it hardly matters now.
During the whole no-confidence saga, the opposition unwittingly gave Imran Khan at least three opportunities for winning the larger game. The best one came early when he first lost his majority in the Parliament. He could have resigned gracefully as PM – showing commitment to democratic values – taken on the role of leader of the opposition, and held the feet of his opponents to the fire until the elections next year. After all, the opposition has no magic bullet for solving the problems of the country in a year, and is likely to fall into squabbling soon. That opportunity was missed because Imran’s ego overcame his reason – a familiar pattern.
The next, somewhat less attractive, opportunity came when the vote on the no-confidence resolution was called. Imran could have resigned then or let the vote pass, left with democratic credentials intact, and begun a popular campaign for the next elections in the streets. Instead, his well-known self-belief bordering on self-delusion led him to try a blatantly unconstitutional gimmick that united the opposition and backfired in court.
The third opportunity occurred after the Supreme Court’s verdict on April 7. By then, a lot of the benefit had already been squandered, but resigning with some dignity was still possible. The narrative of American interference had also begun to take root. But in his arrogance – apparently at the behest of a few very close advisers and against the advice of most others – Imran Khan decided to take a much worse tack, drawing out the vote, creating all sorts of uncertainty, and considering extremely radical last-minute moves. Eventually, faced with signals from the courts and the ever-present “Establishment”, he had to go out like a petulant infant deprived of his favorite toy.
Diehard supporters, of course, are in the grip of shock and anger, lashing out at every available institution in the language taught to them by their champion. But terminal failure is really hard in Pakistan’s politics. Imran Khan can now join the long list of zombies who haunt Pakistan’s political landscape, waiting for events or a patron to bring them back to life for a season or two. But all bets are off for now if he has indeed alienated powerful forces in the country as some news sources have reported. In that case, the Captain’s ship is going down. We’ll know when the rats start swimming away.
Meanwhile, a new play is about to start in Pakistan’s political theater. Some of the dramatis personae are known but ghosts and demiurges still lurk in the shadows. It is also not clear whether the play will be a comedy, a tragedy, or just history repeating itself as farce. The writer is known to be versatile, with a vicious pen and a dark sense of humor. The curtain rises….

Sri Lanka: Mob Rule or Color Revolution

It’s Mob Rule in Sri Lanka. For its supporters it is a color revolution a la Ukraine Maidan in 2014 (more on that later). There are calls to hang and quarter President Gotabya Rajapakse. who was democratically elected by an overwhelming majority   These are not sentiments of rural folk. It’s the call from Western leaning, educated urban affluent folk, plus those comfortably living in western countries. These are the types whose platitudes are about rule of law, democracy, guilty until proven and other trope.
But then the  fruit does not fall from the tree does it. The tree been that beacon of democracy, the US.  Just a few weeks ago there were calls for regime change, including assassination of a world leader, not just by some nonentity but by the leader of the “free” world and one of his senior member in the government.
Then of course there is the history, much to do with oil
Eg 1: Overthrow Assassination of the democratically elected Iranian PM Mosaddegh and the Shah being installed.   When there was a popular revolution and a democratic government kept getting elected under theocratic oversight (no much different from UK monarchy) sanctions against  were done done with the hope of regime change.
Eg 2 : Venezuela. Conspiracy theories of Chavez being murdered. However, very clear the US has continued using sanctions to attempt regime change and install a client Guido (is he from South Jersey). Note: Venezuela and Iran have been able to live with US sanctions because they are energy independent.
Eg 3: Korea the first division a la a possible Ukraine  Vietnam, Kosovo, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria almost all still occupied by the US/NATO

In Sri Lanka this is a class struggle, which the west oriented urban elite hope to regain power by other means  That is not by democratic vote.   The small vocal (in English) is extremely against the current regime.  Not just against, a visceral hatred of the rural types, (godayas or bumpkins), much like visceral hatred of Russia or the rural Evangelicals and deplorables who support Trump. It is very evident in the language used against them, extremely discourteous to say the least.  The Rajapakses have continued the pro rural people, socialist policies started by the Bandaranaike in 1956..The rural people (80 % of SL) are not happy.   Who likes power cuts and shortages of diesel.  But not to the extent of doing protest.  They just need to cut firewood to cook.

The whole do a little protests and then go for sushi meal sums up the depth of these protests. Urban, affluent and no depth or “deep hunger” for change, so no real staying power or commitment. Much like Occupy Wall Street it will fizzle out.

Now the US connection: It’s no coincidence Victoria Nuland the architect of the Ukraine Maidan revolution visited Sri Lanka, India,  Pakistan trying to drum up support for US sanctions against Russia.  India said it was neutral and continued to import Russian crude.  Same with Pakistan and Sri Lanka commenting they were neutral.  Lo and behold a few weeks later a no confidence motion against Imran Khan the Pakistan PM, with rumors his party MP’s were bribed.  The hope was that the pro US Pakistan army (they get lots of goodies from the US) would takeover. In Sri Lanka so called grassroots protests by the urban affluent for which none of the opposition parties claim responsibility.

So why the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. Lanka is being hit by a perfect storm.

a) The consequences of 2019 Easter bombing by Islamics and loss of tourism for three years (20% FX)
b) Economic shut down by a 1+ year lockdown because of Covid (30% FX, eg Garments)
c) Loss of mid east remittance for 2 years, as workers were sent back because of COVID fear. (30% FX)
d) And now having to pay for refined fuels and diesel shortages. Our only refinery Sapugaskanda built by the Iranians is to process Iranian crude or Russian crude.

In my opinion, fuel shortages are the biggest problem. 10 hour power cuts in urban areas. Lines to get diesel, petrol, kerosene and LPG if available. Again not too bad in rural areas. i.e. use firewood. I just built an outdoor fireplace.

Mid east workers started going back starting around Dec 2021. About 40 have left so far from the village.

Tourism had picked up in March. I was getting about 2 visitors a week, about a USD 200 income. Pre easter bombing in 2019 it was USD 600+. The rioting and power cuts are going to kill that goose.

Anyway this is democratically elected govt. Mob rule regardless of how urbane or affluent (and NOT representative of greater Sri Lnka) should not be allowed to stage coup or color revolution.

Imran Khan Phenomenon; My Prediction in 2011

I wrote this article back in 2011 for 3quarksdaily.com, someone in Outlook picked it up this year. I think I was not far wrong..

The 12th Man Rises

Pakistan’s greatest cricketing hero and second most successful philanthropist entered politics 15 years ago, promising a progressive, Islamic, modern, corruption-free Pakistan. His position as the most successful captain in Pakistan’s cricket history, the founder of Pakistan’s finest cancer hospital (providing free modern cancer care to thousands) provided him instant cachet, but for a long time he was unable to convert this personal popularity into votes in actual elections. With a political platform heavy on slogans (particularly against corruption) but short on specifics and without any obvious connection to already existing grass-roots politics, he remained little more than a fixture on the talk-show circuit for a very long time. Brief flirtation with Pervez Musharraf also set him back, as did a tendency to spout fables about Jirgas and hobnob with jihadi ideologues like Hamid Gul. But his biggest problem was his failure to create a team that could carry his party forward. The Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was a one man show, with Imran Khan its only impressive asset. Even in parties dominated by one strong leader, there are other leaders in the wings and at least a semi-coherent ideology that delivers a section of the vote-bank on ideological grounds alone. Imran had no visible team and no clear ideology beyond a promise to “eradicate corruption”.

He did seem to genuinely believe in the formulaic slogans and historical framework of the 6th grade“ideology of Pakistan” he learned in Aitcheson college. He seems to have some vague notion of “the two nation theory” (basically, “we are not Indians”) and an even vaguer “respect” for Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal, twin icons of Pakistan’s history. But like his middle class fans, it is a superficial and shallow belief system, with little to show beyond a few empty slogans like “Pakistan first”, “Islamic welfare state” and “we are all Pakistanis now, so we are no longer Punjabis, Sindhis, Pakhtoons or Balochis”. Behind the automatic repetition of such slogans there does lurk an odour of “one folk, one party, one leader” fascism (as it does behind all crude nationalisms) but this is not to imply that Imran Khan is consciously thinking of leading a fascist takeover of Pakistan. His commitment to some notion of democracy seems genuine enough, though his priority (and this is not unusual among middle class nationalists) is nationalism, not democracy; in a crisis, he can easily convince himself that we may have to kill democracy to save the country. In any case, lacking organization and experience and without a good grasp of actual grass-roots politics, he was easily brushed aside by older established political parties.

Things changed in 2008. International pressure and a worsening domestic political position forced Pervez Musharraf to accept elections and eventually to bring “failed politicians” back in power. Imran Khan boycotted those elections, but came back on TV chat shows to dog the new (and admittedly, corrupt and incompetent) civilian set-up at every step. Meanwhile, GHQ managed to win back some of its tarnished reputation by staying away from public view, letting Zardari take all the blame for every disaster (even ones GHQ itself had birthed). The Zardari regime also managed to select an exceptionally bad team, from a clueless prime minister to one of the worst collections of cabinet ministers in Pakistan’s history. His opposite number in the PMLN did a marginally better job in the provincial government in Punjab, but not by much. Continuous infighting, breaking and remaking of coalitions, massive corruption at every level, and a terrorism problem that has kept the nation unsafe for international investment, all these drained the existing political parties of credibility and created an opening for an outsider.

Meanwhile, the deep state continued its “good jihadi, bad jihadi” policy at home and its double game with the US abroad. With the Osama Bin Laden assassination, matters seem to have come to a head with the US. The Americans want GHQ to arrange for an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan and appear willing to pay Pakistan for help in achieving this, but they are not yet ready to hand the place back to the Taliban and the Haqqanis and their Jihadi friends. GHQ meanwhile is playing hardball and smells victory (also smells disasters to come after victory, but victory has its own momentum) and maybe feeling tempted to get rid of the present civilian setup , preferring a civilian regime that is more closely aligned with their own strategic vision. The Facebook generation and the deep state may thus both be ready to opt for Imran Khan. And Imran Khan, it seems, is ready to opt for them. He has sharpened his anti-American message (a message that appeals to both the jihadi and the left-liberal wings of the middle classes) and toned down criticism of the army. He is saying all the right things about drone attacks, peace with our Taliban brothers and an American defeat in Afghanistan. He has been well coached by Shireen Mazari and Hamid Gul and his party is using trained cadres from the Islami Jamiat e Tulaba as well as enthusiastic youngsters from the Facebook generation. The moment has produced the man.

Having produced the man, the next step was to launch him on to the political stage in suitable manner. That step was achieved in Lahore on the 30th of October. Whether the deep state helped out with the gathering or not, the crowd was impressive and enthusiastic. For most of the young people there, it was the first taste of a genuine mass event where everyone is pushing towards one goal with one voice. That this “goal” was being defined in the Paknationalist terms they have all been fed in school and in everyday propaganda was the icing on the cake. Grown men were seen to cry helplessly as carefully choreographed patriotic music blared and the crowd rose as one to sing the national anthem. Fed on a steady diet of news about corrupt, treacherous and unpatriotic politicians, the crowd was happy to anoint Imran Khan as the saviour who will eradicate corruption and save the nation. A generation that never saw the much bigger gatherings of Benazir Bhutto and her father seems to have been swept off their feet by the event. And why not? In addition to pushing the Paknationalist buttons, the rally had something for everyone. A prayer break (with the great leader praying alone on stage during the event) was followed by Shahzad Roy and guitar music. Bearded boys with Al-Jihad headbands mingled good naturedly with middle class families and liberal students from LUMS and NUST. For one shining evening, it must have seemed like hope has been reborn.

But it is still difficult to see how all this will translate into electoral victory unless the deep state plans to manipulate elections in a big way. Pakistan is a parliamentary democracy and established parties, even when discredited, have a grass-roots organizational advantage. In addition, Imran Khan’s personal popularity is wide, but not deep. Very different groups are currently united under his wing, but when push comes to shove, ideological and political choices will have to be made. Right now, Imran Khan has liberal followers who coexist in the party with hardcore Islamists who made their bones in the Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba. But as he gets closer to real power, choices will have to be made. Since his own understanding of politics and the future of Pakistan is fundamentally aligned with the Paknationalists of the Shireen Mazari and Ahmed Qureshi variety, I predict his choices will turn to out to match those of GHQ to an extent that may surprise a lot of his liberal fans. This is a prediction, and I realize it is an unpopular one in the liberal blogosphere. Pakistani liberals are also hungry for a saviour and right now they prefer to latch on to whatever little bones Imran is throwing in their direction (guitar music right after Magrib prayers, women in visible positions, a modern look and feel) but I fear that Imran Khan is not just repeating his 6th grade Islamiyat and Pakistan studies slogans because repeating simplified propaganda is part and parcel of modern mass politics. He is repeating them because he genuinely believes all those fables about rightly guided caliphs, Jirga justice, Islamic social welfare, the vision of Allama Iqbal, the “leadership of the Quaid-e-Azam” and so on. But since these stories are not too closely aligned with reality, historic or contemporary, a sincere believer is likely to become a pawn in the hands of those with a clearer vision of what they want and a more realistic view of politics and power. The Leninist term “useful idiot” comes to mind, but in this case it is not Pakistan’s 37 Leninists but its much more determined deep state is likely to take advantage of Khan sahib’s naiveté.

Of course, this may not be a done deal yet. Imran clearly has an idealistic bent and even GHQ may not find his crusading zeal easy to contain. And while everyone from Humayun Gohar to Ayaz Amir may be excited by this rally, reality has a way of setting in in Pakistan. The Paknationalist agenda is not new. Army men sitting in mess halls have been carping about unpatriotic politicians, bloody provincialists and separatists, uneducated Pakistani masses and massive foreign conspiracies for decades. But they have failed to wave a magic wand to fix these problems, not because they held back, but because no magic wand actually exists. Wanting to clean up Pakistan and run it like a tight ship (the current model is supposedly China, though a few inconvenient details come to mind: a 3000 year old civilization, a century of revolutions and wars, a genuine mass-based party and titanic achievements and failures, modern capitalism embraced like never before, and so much more) is all well and good, but you cannot create anything you want out of thin air; you have to work with what exists and the properties of what exists are not necessarily what the Paknationalists think they are. History and society may have features that make some choices possible and others nearly impossible. Paknationalism of the GHQ type does not have a sufficient overlap with history, political realities or the various cultures of Pakistan to allow the creation of the homogenous- Islamic-modern-military- mullah-netizen hybrid that is being desired. But it is possible that this vision has enough overlap with the common dreams of Pakistan’s middle class youth to let them have a go at it. One just hopes it evolves towards sanity and a softer nationalism instead of doubling down and going for broke by grasping “this sorry scheme of things entire; would we not shatter it to bits and then, remold it nearer to heart’s desire…”

Episode 7: South of India from 200 BC to 500 AD

Another Browncast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

The History podcast crosses the Vindhyas and heads towards the Deccan.  Maneesh is in conversation with Jay and Shrikanth on all things South of India between the period 200 BC to 500 AD.

Among other things, the speakers talk at length about the Sangam literature.

Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar makes an appearance too.

 

@jayvtweets   @shrikanth_krish    @maneesht

Sources and References:

1. A History of South India by K. A. Nilakanta Sastri
2. The age of imperial unity (The history and culture of the Indian people Vol 2)
3. Comprehensive History of India Vol.2, The Mauryas and the Satavahanas, Edited by K. A. Nilakanta Sastra
4. The First Spring: The Golden Age of India (Part -1) by Abraham Eraly
5. A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century by Upinder Singh
6. Coromandel: A Personal History of South India by Charles Allen
7. Ashoka in Ancient India by Nayanjot Lahiri
8. The Sangam Age by V.R. Ramachandra Dikshitar (ARTICLE)
9. The Beginnings of Civilization in South India by Clarence Maloney (ARTICLE)
10. Archaeology of the Sangam Age by K. V. Raman (ARTICLE)
11. Urbanization in South India: The Role of Ideology and Polity by R. Champakalakshmi (ARTICLE)
12. The Vedic-Puranic-Sastric element in Tamil Sangam Society and culture (A Study of Purananuru-First Section) by M. G. S. Narayanan (ARTICLE)13. Chera, Chola, Pandya: Using Archaeological Evidence to Identify the Tamil Kingdoms of Early Historic South India by Shinu A. Abraham (ARTICLE)14. Kalinga and Andhra: the process of secondary state formation in early India by Sudharshan Seneviratne (ARTICLE)

15. The Wonder that was India – AL Basham

16. Tamil – A Biography : David Shulman

17. Early Tamil Epigraphy : Iravatham Mahadevan
19. Sangam translations in English : https://sangamtranslationsbyvaidehi.com/

 

Episode 6: North India from 200 BC to 200 AD

Another Browncast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

The History of the Indian sub-continent continues.  Shrikanth and Maneesh are joined by Jay Vardhan Singh to talk about all things North of the Vindhyas in the period 200 BC to 200 AD. Tales of Bactrians in modern day central India, descendants of King Ashoka and of a king whose name ended up on an unfortunate Aircraft. Kalyan, a suburb of Mumbai, makes an appearance too.

@shrikanth_krish   @jayvtweets  @maneesht

References and Source Material:

GENERAL BOOKS
1. Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE by Patrick Olivelle (Editor)
2. The age of imperial unity (The history and culture of the Indian people Vol 2)
3. Comprehensive History of India Vol.2, The Mauryas and the Satavahanas, Edited by K. A. Nilakanta Sastra
4. Political History of Ancient India, from the Accession of Parikshit to the Extinction of the Gupta Dynasty by Hem Chandra Raychaudhuri

LATER MAURYANS
1. Aśoka and the decline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar

INDO-GREEKS
1. The Indo-Greeks by A. K. Narain
2. The Greek Experience of India: From Alexander to the Indo-Greeks by Richard Stoneman
3. The Greeks in India by George Woodcock
4. The Yavana Invader of the Gangetic Basin by Kailash Chandra Ojha (ARTICLE)

SHAKAS, PARTHIANS AND KUSHANAS
1. History of Civilization of Central Asia, Vol – II
2. The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia by René Grousset, Naomi Walford
3. The Dynastic Arts of the Kushans by John M. Rosenfield
4. ReOrienting the Sasanians: East Iran in Late Antiquity by Khodadad Rezakhani
5. The Age of the Parthians Edited By The Idea of Iran Volume II Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis and Sarah Stewart
6. The Khyber Pass: A History of Empire and Invasion by Paddy Docherty
7. Empires of Ancient Eurasia: The First Silk Roads Era, 100 BCE – 250 CE by Craig Benjamin
8. Mathurā: The Cultural Heritage
9. India under the Kushanas by B.N. Puri
10. From the Kushans to the Western Turks by Khodadad Rezakhani (ARTICLE)

SATAVAHANAS AND WESTERN KSHATRAPS
1. Formative Phase of the Western Deccan Satavahanas and Kshaharatas by Ajay Mitra Shastri (ARTICLE)
2. Satavahana Chronology: A Re-examination by M. K. Dhavalikar (ARTICLE)

KHARAVELA
1. Epigraphica Indica Vol. XX
2. The Mahameghavahana dynasty by Shri Amar Chand (ARTICLE)
3. Bahasatimita of the Hathigumpha inscription by N.K Sahu (ARTICLE)

The article of Vidya Dahejia
http://vidyadehejia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Dehejia-Collective-Popular-Patronage.pdf

Reference of Indian Steel exported to Rome
https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.234409/page/n155/mode/2up?view=theater

“Age of Imperial Unity”  – Volume 2 in the series on “History and Culture of the Indian People”. Jai has covered it in his list
Age of the Kushanas – A Numismatic study (Bhaskar Chatopadhyay)
A blogpost on Spitzer manuscript that we discussed in the call –
Geography – by Strabo
Book of Later Han
Yuga Purana – John E Mitchiner
Malavikagnimitram – Kalidasa
Manusmriti with commentary of Medathiti – Ganganatha Jha
The Questions of King Milinda
Inscriptions –
Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hathigumpha_inscription
Yavanarajya inscription of Mathura : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yavanarajya_inscription
Kanishka’s Rabatak inscription : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabatak_inscription
Heliodorus inscription on Garuda Pillar : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliodorus_pillar

https://www.youtube.com/JayVardhanSingh

 

Ferry From Talaimannar in SL to Rameshwaran, India

Ferry was from Talaimannar to Rameshwaran Island and part of rail link from Colombo to Madras (I think). There was a small ferry for each vehicle from Rameshwaran Island to Mainland India.

22 miles, the same distance from Dover to Calais. Couple of guys have swum it too.  One such was Kumar Anandan, swimming from Sri Lanka to India and back in 51 hours, in 1971. While attempting to swim the English Channel on 6 August 1984 he collapsed and died due to heavy currents.  Other trivia; Kumar Anandan hailed from Valvettithurai, the village of the Thalaivar, i.e. Prabhakaran.

Almost all Tea Estate indentured workers were brought by Ferry and had to walk thru thick jungle to Tea estates in the hill country. Quite a few died, no records were kept.

The Brits did not give the Estate indentured labor Ceylon Citizenship. Because that would mean they would be under Ceylon Labor Laws which were quite reasonable. Would defeat the whole purpose of getting slaves in all but name.
It became an issue after independence. The estate Tamils were almost 15% of the population. Half were repatriated back to India, with even Ceylon Tamils voting for the move.

Google Map
https://www.google.lk/maps/place/Rameswaram,+Tamil+Nadu+623526,+India/@9.1918773,79.0877435,10z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x3b01e3c4e61cf2b3:0xd667f9b98bbd63a1!8m2!3d9.2876254!4d79.3129291

https://scroll.in/magazine/1000673/boat-mail-remembering-the-train-and-streamer-service-from-india-to-ceylon

 

Amana Begam Ansari on Muslims and Women in India

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

Amana in a conversation with Maneesh Taneja talks about being a Muslim woman in India. State of affairs, challenges that the Muslim community and the country face, caste dynamics and what makes for a good movie.

@Amana_ansari @maneesht

https://www.youtube.com/c/IndiaThisWeekByAmanaKhalid

 

 

 

 

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