Video gets especially interesting 16 minutes in. Some main take aways:
Almost half of all people in the world are Asians. Having a similar ratio of Asian students at elite US institutions is being “diverse”
Many different parts of Asia are extraordinarily diverse with many different cultures (Vietnam, India, China, Indonesia). Allowing Asians into elite American institutions enhances diversity.
Asians top every metric for admissions except personality profiles, where Asians consistently rank far lower than any other group.
Mass discrimination against Asians creates segregation at schools since non Asian kids need to receive different separate remedial classes. Many non Asian kids at elite institutions upon entry lack the math skills to take entry level classes.
Asians use to be America’s only reliable Republican voting block (for example backing George Herbert Walker Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996). The 2016 and 2018 elections are the first time Asians have overwhelmingly voted Democrat. Asians now vote more Democrat than Latinos.
Many Asians think they can change Democrats from the inside. And they have had some success. They have persuaded many Democrats to vote for Asian interests on affirmative action.
In the last 6 minutes they discuss how the massive over representation of Asians at elite educational institutions is causing a major shift to the left
There are surveys of incoming freshman students. They reflect America and their parents. Or center right.
Exit surveys of senior students find that they have shifted sharply to the left. They trend left to socialist to communist upon graduation.
My own observation is one that several leading academic professors have also noted. High School Asian American kids, particularly Desi ones, often have contempt for their parents, Asia, older Desis, Asian culture and Asian religions. They are often deeply ashamed and guilty about their Asian privilege and about the ways Asians practice “white supremacy”, racism, bigotry, prejudice, sectarianism, hate, oppression, exploitation towards others. There is a sense that the reason Asians are so successful around the world is because Asians steal from others. This phenomenon extends to undergraduate students but is still not common among Asian Americans over 22 years old.
How much of this phenomenon is being driven by self hatred, self loathing, guilt and a contempt for Asian and Desi cultures and religions? What if anything can be done about this?
As a partial aside, Brown Pundits podcast plans to interview some practitioner Dharmics (including Buddhist, Jain, Sikh) professors in academia. One question we can ask them is how much anti Dharmic phobia comes the indoctrination of Dharmic children in high school and undergraduate university against Dharmic faiths.
I think the world of Asian Capitalists and would advise everyone to watch their other posts. Is there an interest in inviting them on Brown Cast? They and many other Asians say that Asians will not bend the knee to the post modernist cultural marxist. Within a decade half the world’s billionaires are likely to be Asians or people of Asian ancestry who live elsewhere in the world and the full power of the post modernist cultural marxist will be brought to bear against Asians. What will happen then?
The Chinese have a term for post modernist cultural marxist caucasian intelligentsia. The word is baizuo. Should the Brown Pundits start using the term in solidarity with our Chine bhai bhai (Chinese brothers)? Can everyone vote below?
For a long time the rest of the world laughed at and made fun of the baizuo. But now the baizuo are becoming a major global threat that is significantly hurting poor, lower middle class, middle class and upper middle class people all over the world. Including by:
lowering ceteris paribus global income and total factor productivity.
colonizing the minds of non caucasians with inferiority complex to damage their self confidence and keep them down. This is also sometimes called the hard bigotry of low expectations.
frequently demonizing any non caucasians who slightly disagrees with them of being racist, bigoted, prejudiced, nazi, fascist, sectarian, islamaphobic, hegemonic, oppressive, exploitative, imperialist, colonialist, a collaborator, an uncle tom.
This is turning the entire non caucasian world against the baizuo. It is perhaps the largest single cause of anti European and anti American sentiment among people who are not European or American. Europe and America will pay a very heavy price for this. I for one don’t think it is worth paying this heavy price of global anti European and anti American sentiment. Europeans and American need to bring the baizuo under control. No European or American who travels internationally should have to endure large numbers of people looking at caucasians with suspicion.
One of the smartest, most perceptive and wisest global thought leaders John McWhorter described the baizuo phenomenon far better than I could. I would read his whole article on “The Virtue Signalers Won’t Change the World.” And many of his other articles too.
Sadly the baizuo control much of the global establishment and they demonize any darkie who has the courage to stand up to them. For example our very own co founder Razib Khan. And John McWhorter, Glenn Loury, Coleman Hughes, Desi-Rae, Narendra Modi, . Most darkies are too afraid of the baizuo to speak openly. But one day this dam of fear and baizuo politically correct mind control will break; and I fear the consequences for the world.
How to bring the baizuo under control and stop them from greatly harming the world? Through loving and respecting them with all our hearts (devotion), all our souls (wisdom), all our minds (the royal road of yoga) and all our strength (service). By melting their hearts with the power of love. By awakening their own intrinsic deep intelligence. I am reminded of this baizuo video:
When a Jewish person tells Queers for Palestine baizuo about West Bank and Gazan policies towards LBGTQ, it is like their hearts falls out and they want to cry. It causes baizuo so much personal anguish and pain to hear painful facts that it is incredibly tempting to patronize them by not talking honestly with them. I know I am contradicting myself. What should we do?
Our Brown Pundit Zachary Latif will hopefully share his perspectives on Pakistani Psychosis soon. Tarek Fatah gives a good synopsis of Pakistani Psychosis and Islamism in the above video. I am not an expert on Pakistani Pysochosis, and cannot validate many of Tarek Fatah’s perspectives on Pakistan. However, with respect to Islam, many muslims (including prominent religious leaders) privately share many of Tarek’s views, but the vast majority are too afraid to share their views publicly. Tarek Fatah is very knowledgeable about Arabic, Islamic scripture and Islamic law. If you have the time, please watch the entire video.
What is Pakistani psychosis? I am not completely certain and look forward to evolving my views with new information. To oversimplify, it is the combination of several things:
How to avoid very unexpectedly offending people when we don’t want to? How to have dialogue with people, ask them questions and get feedback from others without suddenly massively angering them?
This has nothing to do with Saira Roa’s actual opinions or high resolution fully integrated philosophy of philosophies. She seems to be a sweet loving person. Her perspective is unique and I would have loved to better understand it.
I have met many people from childhood who are suddenly and very unexpectedly massively triggered and angered. Often they will start accusing others of nazism, fascism, racism, bigotry, prejudice, sectarianism or some other related charge. In many cases immediately walk away. Many junior high school, high school, undergraduate and graduate level teachers at institutions I attended were this way. Some students were also this way, but truth be told teachers were far more likely to exhibit these symptoms than students. And a lot of the time, I and many others didn’t understand why this happened. Saira Roa is very middle of the road representative of very large numbers of people I have met (teachers and non teacher adults), (in the west or in India) and I am not picking on her. Rather I am asking how to avoid causing a massive firestorm when we don’t want to create one. In this case, Sargon didn’t want to anger her, but rather was very curious to better understand what she believes and why she believes what she believes.
This particular unexpected firestorm was set off when Sargon says to Saira Roa that some blacks were complicit in the slavery of other blacks. My questions about this is two fold:
Is there some way Sargon could have made a similar point without massively angering Saira Roa and causing her to end the interview?
Why did this statement elicit this reaction in the first place?
Saira Roa has a Hindu name. When the east (and large parts of Europe for that matter) was (were) conquered by Islamists (note that most muslims are not Islamists and today’s muslims are in no way responsible for the actions of their great ancestors), almost all eastern universities, libraries, temples, spiritual centers, scientific institutions etc. were destroyed. Much of the non muslim population was converted into slaves. Because of this, many Asian nonmuslims get emotional when the subject of slavery is mentioned. Could this be where part of Saira Roa’s feelings come from?
Most Asians (Indians included) and Africans initially welcomed Europeans as a way to drive Islamists out. Europeans as a quid pro quo of sorts banned slavery across Asia and Africa. This was deeply popular among nonmuslims and seen as sectarian Islamaphobia by many Islamists. [Obviously after this initial period, Africans and Asians wanted European colonizers to let them to be independent.] Perhaps Saira Rao thinks that the people who owned slaves on the African continent and sold them to South America, Central America, Mexico, Caribbean, North America, North Africa, East Africa, Europe, Asia were not really Africans but Islamist occupiers? Perhaps her definition of “African” or “black” is only nonmuslims with substantial sub-saharan African DNA haploid admixture? Therefore, “blacks” by her definition were not complicit in the slavery of other blacks and the exporting of black slaves around the world? I am not saying this is true. But rather could this be what she believes?
[Obviously some historians might posit the hypothesis that even if the large majority or vast majority of people who owned African slaves were muslim, at least some African slaves were owned by nonmuslims with substantial sub-saharan African DNA haploid admixture too. But perhaps Saira Roa disagrees with this.]
Are there other possible reasons for why she was so offended?
Can everyone reading please explain this to me in the comment section below? What advise does everyone have for how to avoid deeply angering or offending people in general? Thanks to everyone in advance.
Some at Brown Pundits have expressed dismay at my using the phrase “caucasian intelligentsia”, maybe because they see this as a criticism of white people. To be clear I am not criticizing people of European ancestry or European influenced culture; but rather a very subtle, pernicious and dangerous colonization of the mind. Some caucasians and non caucasians are at the epicenter of this imperial oppressive hegemonic system. And many good caucasians and non caucasian are fighting against the caucasian intelligentsia. Malcom X and Ali ably describe this caucasian intelligentsia. They call this phenomenon the “white liberal.” Since many caucasian liberals fight against the caucasian intelligentia, I am uncomfortable with the term “white liberal.” I also do not completely agree every aspect of what Malcolm X and Ali say. With that caveat, please listen to the whole thing. the clip is only six minutes long. Some great quotes:
“The white liberals [caucasian intelligentsia] from both parties cross party lines to work together toward the same goal”
“The white liberal differs from the white conservative in only one way . . . the liberal [caucasian intelligentsia] is more deceitful, more hypocritical than the conservative”
“Both want power but the white liberal [caucasian intelligentsia] is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the negroe’s friend and benefactor and by winning the friendship and support of the negroe the white liberal [caucasian intelligentsia] is able to use the negroe as a pawn or weapon”
Ali says that we should love our race and culture
Most but not all of the caucasian intelligentsia comes from post modernism. A sizable minority of the caucasian intelligentsia comes from other caucasian pathologies that can be elaborated on in another post. To massively oversimplify post modernism seeks to negate all metanarratives and universalist norms to observe the world as it truly is. In practice however, modern post modernists see the world through a very narrow incomplete, misleading and biased western ethnocentric filter. In practice they dispute the core of European Enlightenment liberalism and Eastern philosophy, three features of which are:
All humans are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights, including the right of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (eastern philosophy conforms)
All humans have the right to freedom of art, speech and thought (eastern philosophy conforms but adds freedom of intuition and feeling)
All human beings are potentially powerful, potentially wise and sovereign (eastern philosophy conforms but adds “divine”)
Post modernists disagree with all of these, seeing them as tools of oppression, hegemony, exploitation, colonialism, imperialism, sectarianism, bigotry, prejudice, racism. Post modernists see free expression, liberty or the concept of everyone being potentially wise, powerful and sovereign; as potentially violent and potentially oppressive.
Post modernists are trying to damage the self confidence (Atma Vishwaasa in Sanskrit) of black Americans of African ancestry similar to what they did to former European colonies in Africa and Asia during the 1800s and 1900s. To quote from a previous Brown Pundit post:
There are several perspectives on Afghanistan’s name. Afghanistan’s name might come from “Upa-Gana-stan”:
“Upa” with a choti “a” at the end or “उप” means near
“Gana” or “गण” I believe might be a reference to Shiva’s Ganas (gouls, ghosts, unusual looking beings . . . possibly a reference to non homo sapiens of some kind, some say aliens)
“Stan”, I don’t know. Is this “Sthaana” or “स्थान”? If so this might mean position or venue or station or field or throne
An extremely wise fellow contributor from Brown Pundit reminded me of two other ancient names used for Afghanistan:
Panini’s Aṣṭādhyāyīrefers to Afghanistan as ash-va-kaa-na (अश्वकान).
Please note that the Aṣṭādhyāyī is much older than Patanjali who is considered millennia older than Krishna. Traditional scholarship of Aṣṭādhyāyī places it more than 7 thousand BC, which is not to say that the Aṣṭādhyāyī has not in any way been modified since then.
Pakrit name “a-va-gaa-nna” (अवगान्ना).
The oldest part of the Rig Veda samhita refers to:
“The Pakthoons are descendants of the Paktha tribe mentioned in Vedic literature.”
“Archaeological excavations in this region conducted by Sir Estine (an East India Company official) led to the recovery of uncountable shrines and inscriptions. He has authored four books on that topic featuring photos of icons, icons and inscriptions discovered. The photos show a sun temple and a Ganesha statue too. An Islamabad University professor Abdul Rehman has authored two books on those finds recalling the glory and prosperity of those times.”
“Regimes of two Hindu rulers “Kusham” and “Kidara” lasted for fairly long periods. During their rule a number of Shiva temples were not only in Afghanistan but in other West Asian regions too. Uzbekistan and Takzikistan formed part of the Afghan kingdom in those times. Tashkent has one of those ancient Shiva temples standing even today.”
“Professor Abdul Rehman states that Bukhara region Was known as “Shah Vihar” in ancient times. It was ruled by an Hindu king. When Arabs invaded that kingdom its queen traveled to Kashmir to seek military help. Arab chronicles mention her as ‘Khatoon’, meaning ’Woman’.”
“An Ayurvedic practitioner of Varansi (alias Benares) had treated the Khalifa for some ailment afflicting the latter. In those days it was Hindu Ayurvedic practitioners who were eagerly sought by Arab patients. A number of Arabs had translated Sanskrit Ayurvedic texts into Arabic. A list of those translated Sanskrit texts appears in a Volume known as al “Frisht“.”
“Baku (capital of the Azerbaijan region) known for its underground petroleum yields has still an ancient Hindu temple of the Divine Flame generated by the subterranean petrol and gas). During the Czar regimes in Russia a Punjabi priest officiated at that temple. The walls display some religious stanzas written in Punjabi Gurumakhi script. The market there also had Hindu merchants. Nearby was a locality too of Hindu inhabitants. Baku in Azerbaijani language actually signifies a Goddess. Therefore obviously Baku derives its name from a very ancient Vedic Goddess temple there.”
Afghanistan is also central to the ancient Sharada civilization:
The Sharada civilization [Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan, Kashmir] represents many things. One is the convergence of the six major Shaivite schools (not just Trika) within Uttara Mīmāmsā (Vedanta) and the four major Tibetan schools via the shared 84 Siddhas. Later large streams within Sufism joined this convergence [which might be the topic of a future researched article].
In the opinion of Wilson the renowned Vedic translator Kandahar is similar to the Rig Vedic word Gandhara. Wilson further observes,:
Ibn Haukil mentions that in his time there were remains of a considerable city more to the west, by the people of which, Zaranj was built. He calls this places Ramshhristan, a curious compound of Indian and Persian appellations.
There were ruins ‘at astonishing number’ in Herat, at Farrah, and Peshawarun–all sites near the province of Dranjiana connected with the Vedic dynasty of the Srinjayas [who were prominent during the 18 day Mahabharata war]. It therefore becomes all the more curious to hear the name of the place called Ramshehristan.
Panini, the eminent grammarian of Sanskrit, lived here in about 350 BC. [for the record I think Panini lived far earlier and before Patanjali] In his composition of the a sutra (4.3.93) on the Sindh and Takshasila class (gana-patha), he includes Sindhu, Varnu, Madhumat, Kamboja, Salwa, Kashmir, Gandhara, Kishkindhya, Urasa, Darada and Gandika. These are geographical names and lie in the trans-Indus regions. The place mentioned by Panini as Kishkindhya is today known as Kalat in Baluchistan. A great linguistic puzzle is that the local people call Brahuis speak in a Dravidian dialect.
Afghanistan was not the name of a country before 1747 AD. The lands lying to the est of the River Indus were called by different times as Kamboja, Bahlika, Madra, Aratta etc. in the north; as Sarayu (Horayu) in the north-west; as Sarasvati (Harahvati) in the south-east; as Gandhara in the center; as Zranjiana in the south-west and as Kishkindhya in the south.
. . .
They were of five streams or Pancajanas. Their leader was Visvamitra, who lived in Satudri-Vipasa valley (RV III.22.1). They fought against the Srinjayas under Vasistha in the famous battle of the ten kings.
Several waves of the new people, the Aryan races–Druhyus, Turvasus and Anus went westwards from these places. These groups are variously known in traditional literature as the Persians (Parsu), Medians (Madras), Parthians (Prithus), Hyksos (Yaksus), Mittanians and Helenes (Alinas) etc. They originally settled at a places known as Shortugai in Badakhshan in North Afghanistan. Old Sumerian texts as also the descriptions in the Baudhayana say that Aratta was Badakhshan, Balkh, or Bactria in Central Asia. From here, they exported lapis lazuli to the Sumer. The Sumerian epic, Enmerker and the Lord of Aratta describes this in detail. The epic, found in the clay tablets of Boghaz Keui is dated c. 1700 BC. In the Mahabharata, Karna derides the Madras and Arattans as being lowly people! [in conversation with Salya during the 17th day of the Kurukshetra war]
. . .
The name Srinjaya is similar to Zaranj and Sarangaei of the Iranians, old Persians and the Greeks. These were the names of the Iranian tribes who lived according to Herodotus in Zranjiana or Dranjiana, an area on the River Sarasvati or Horahvaiti in the Arochosia-Helmand region. Divodasa, greatest among the Rig Vedic kings, was a Srinjaya. He was born here. . . .
Horahvaiti region i.e. the Helmand-Arachosia region of what is today western Afghanistan . . .
Heldebrandt, one of the earliest scholars on the Ramayana in the West, was of the view that Sarasvati was the river Arghandab (Horahvaiti of the Zend Avestaiver, ) in Arachosia of modern Afghanistan (then Iran). Brunhofer, another scholar of the epic, adopted the Iranian link. Zimmer was in favour of placing the Rig Vedic Sarasvati in this area. Recently, Burrow has held that the early Rig Vedic Sarasvati was the River Horaxvaiti of Iran, and the River Sarayu was the Afghan, Horayu. Among the Indian scholars, Jaichandra Vidyalankar, after a detailed rumination, identifies Sarasvati as the Iranian Haraqvati . . .
The Ishvaku, the family Ram belonged to, and the Vasistha family were linked to a very early time of the Rig Veda, originally from the north and north-west region called Harirud of modern Afghanistan, on the bank of the River Horayu, mentioned in the Avesta. Only in the Rig Veda there is the name Sarayu. In the same way, still earlier, the family of Atris hailed from the banks of the River Rasa in the region of South Russia and North Afghanistan today. In a very early hymn in the Rig Veda (53.9), Sage Syavasva Atreya extols in glory a fleeting dolumn of the Maruts moving southward–the horse-borne storm troopers. In the course of their journey, they cross the rivers Rasa (Ranha or Oxus, in modern South Russia), Krumu (Kurran), Sindhu (Indus-between Pakistan and India today) and Sarayu (Horayu or Harirud)
Most people do not know that until about a thousand years ago, the Tarim Basin (northwest of Tibet, which is the part of Xinjiang below the Tian Shin Mountains) was Indic in culture and it was a thriving part of the Sanskritic world; its people spoke the Gāndhārī language which many see as descended from Vedic Sanskrit, and Khotanese Saka, which is also closely related to Sanskrit. Perhaps the region to compare it most is Kashmir, to whose north it lay. There was also much interaction between the two regions with many scholars traveling from Kashmir to Khotan, and silk culture is believed to have passed from Khotan to Kashmir and then into India.
Gāndhārī inscriptions have been found as far east as Luoyang and Anyang in Henan province in Eastern China which attests to the vastness of the influence of Sanskrit. Europeans in recent centuries called the whole region Serindia, indicating the meeting place of China and India.
The traditional date for the of Khotan, on the southern and the more ancient branch of the Silk Road, is the reign of Aśoka Maurya (3rd century BCE). It was ruled by Buddhist kings until it was conquered by the Muslims in 1006. Some of the kings mentioned in the “Prophecy of the Li Country”, composed in 746 CE, dealing with events of the recent past are Vijaya Kīrti, Vijaya Saṅgrāma, Vijaya Dharma, Vijaya Saṃbhava, and Vijaya Vāhana.
Many Khotanese cities had Sanskrit names. For example, Khotan in Sanskrit was Gaustana गौस्तन and the modern city of Kashi (Kashgar) was called Śrīkrīrāti (in Sanskrit Śrī+krī+rāti, श्रीक्रीराति, ‘Glorious Hospitality’). Kashgar itself appears to be the popular name from Sanskrit Kāśa+giri (काशगिरि, bright mountain). The Khotanese called their language hvatanai ह्वतनै which later became hvaṃnai ह्वंनै; this is equivalent to the name deśī that is used for language in India (vatan, from svatana = deśa).
The liturgical texts in the region were written in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, whereas those in the region of Krorän (Chinese Loulan), an important oasis further east of Khotan, used Prakrit in administration. A third language called Tocharian was also used both to translate Buddhist texts and as an administrative language. Many Sanskrit texts of India remember the general region as Tuṣāra or Tukhāra, and it retains currency as a popular proper name.
That Khotanese Saka was principally a Indo-Aryan Prakrit is reinforced by the fact that the texts are in Indian scripts of Brāhmī and Kharoṣṭhī. Many of these documents were collected in archaeological explorations to Chinese Turkestan by Aurel Stein, who is also known for his translation of Kalhaṇa’s Rājataraṅginī. Stein came across tens of thousands of manuscripts from 5th to 11th centuries in various sites including the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas in the Kansu (Gansu) province. One of the principal scholars who edited and translated many of these texts was H.W. Bailey and this literature remains a popular field of study for scholars.
Aurel Stein says in his celebrated Ancient Khotan: “There was little to prepare us for such overwhelming evidence .. on the large place which Indian language and culture must have occupied in the administration and daily life of this region during the early centuries of our era. That Sanskrit Buddhist literature was studied in Khotan down to the end of the eighth century A.D. has been proved beyond all doubt by the texts in Brāhmī script which I excavated.”
The mummies of Tarim Basin
The discovery of the Tarim mummies that go back to 1800 BCE strengthen the view that the region was Sanskritic. The earliest mummies in the Basin are exclusively Caucasoid, and the American Sinologist Victor H. Mair has said: “Because the Tarim Basin Caucasoid corpses are almost certainly the most easterly representatives of the Indo-European family and because they date from a time period that is early enough to have a bearing on the expansion of the Indo-European people from their homeland, it is thought they will play a crucial role in determining just where that might have been.”
Some have suggested Europoid identification to explain the blonds and red-heads among the mummies, but there is no need to travel thousands of miles to Western Europe to explain this; Kashmir, just south of the Basin has plenty of red-heads and blonds.
One of the DNA studies notes that the population had “relatively close relationships with the modern populations of South Central Asia and Indus Valley, as well as with the ancient population of Chawuhu.” This is perfectly reasonable if the original inhabitants of the region were from Indus Valley [code for India] and they left a genetic trace in the region.
My own interpretation is that the Vedas, Purana Itihasas, Ramayana and Mahabharata refer to some places north of Afghanistan in Turan (perhaps Sudakshina‘s army in the Mahabharata came from Turan) and west of Afghanistan in Iran (some believe that Pahlava refers to Arjuna‘s, Abhimanyu‘s, Parakshit‘s and Janamajeya‘s and Ashwamedatta’s ancestral line). Some even claim that the temple of Baalbek in Lebanon
and temple of Delphi in Greece are very closely connected to Arya culture and temples in the east:
Should Amy Chua and Michael Shermer be added to the list of leaders for the Intellectual Dark Web? They discuss the rise in global tribalism (caste) and victimhood and how it is threatening the entire world. Amy Chua implies that the opposite to caste tribalism in global classical liberalism, which has not really caught on around the world. Most people who self identify with European enlightenment values unconsciously retain nationalism and many other forms of tribal (or caste or cultural) identity.
Amy Chua has written 5 books. Her first four were very well written. No doubt her fifth, which I haven’t read, is too.
What does everyone at Brown Pundits think is driving the dangerous surge in global identitarian caste tribalism? I think post modernism is the largest. Are there are other drivers too?
I originally wrote this essay in May 2009 and it was published on The South Asian Idea. It’s interesting to me how long I have been thinking about some of the same issues. I have always been fascinated by the Raj. In fact, in my Directing class as part of my Dramatic Literature major, I directed a scene from “Indian Ink”. This play has been with me throughout much of my life.
Flora: You are an Indian artist, aren’t you? Stick up for yourself. Why do you like everything English?
Das: I do not like everything English.
Flora: Yes, you do. You’re enthralled. Chelsea, Bloomsbury, Oliver Twist, Goldflake cigarettes, Winsor and Newton… even painting in oils, that’s not Indian. You’re trying to paint me from my point of view instead of yours—what you think is my point of view. You deserve the bloody Empire!
(Tom Stoppard, Indian Ink, pg. 43)
Great works of art often reveal insights about history in ways that are more accessible than academic historical accounts. One work that was especially powerful in doing so for me is Tom Stoppard’s play Indian Ink. Ever since I first read this play some years ago, it has provoked me to think about the colonial experience in India as well as issues of identity and nationalism more generally.
In the tradition of Forster’s A Passage to India and Scott’s The Raj Quartet, Indian Ink examines the colonial experience through focusing on the relationship between one particular couple. Set in two time periods (1930s India and 1980s England), the play tells the story of Flora Crewe, an English poet visiting India, and Nirad Das, an Indian artist who is painting her portrait. Over the course of the play, Flora and Nirad’s relationship changes from a formal, distant one to a more intimate one. However, their relationship also reveals major points of tension and of culture clash. Nirad constantly feels the need to impress Flora with his knowledge of England and of English culture, while Flora wants him to be himself. As the quote that I started this post with shows, she wants him to paint her from his own point of view. He eventually does so, painting a nude portrait of her in the style of a Rajput miniature. Flora recognizes that he is working in his own tradition and has stopped trying to ape the English. She tells him “This one is for yourself… I’m pleased. It has rasa” (74).
The play also makes interesting points about the reinterpretation of history, something that is a part of national and ethnic conflicts even today, both in South Asia and in other parts of the world. For example, in the modern portion of the play, Anish (Nirad’s son) and Mrs. Swan (Flora’s sister) discuss the events of 1857, which Anish refers to as “the first War of Independence” and Mrs. Swan insists on calling the Mutiny (17). History is written by the victors and later reinterpreted by various political groups to suit their own agendas. For example, in modern India, the BJP reinterprets the Mughals as a foreign occupying force, religiously motivated by their negative feelings towards Hinduism. Other historians argue that this perspective is not an appropriate way to view the Mughals, many of whom assimilated and became “Indian.” History remains a powerful force that can be used for various politically motivated ends. Stoppard’s play forces the audience to question the truth of any of these interpretations….