World’s largest bank? Indian!


by Sunny
12th December, 2007 at 12:57 pm    

In years to come, that Goodness Gracious Me sketch will become legendary. I was reminded of it when reading this NY Times article:

Citigroup, the world’s largest bank, named Vikram S. Pandit, a native of Nagpur, India, as its chief executive on Tuesday. Mr. Pandit joins 14 other foreign-born chiefs who are running Fortune 100 companies. The head of the Altria Group was born in Egypt, for example. PepsiCo’s is from India, the Liberty Mutual Group’s is a native of Ireland and Alcoa’s was born in Morocco.

Their numbers have jumped from roughly a decade ago; there were nine foreign-born chief executives on Fortune’s list of the 100 largest companies in 1996. But the size of the new group does not reflect a noteworthy change — they come from more far-flung countries now than then, when they were more likely to hail from Canada or Europe.

First they take over the crappy menial jobs, then accountancy positions, and then the top jobs! Look out for the upcoming article by Rod Liddle. In the UK, the head of Vodafone is Indian, and so was the head of Orange until recently. It’s political correctness gone mad.

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  1. sonia — on 12th December, 2007 at 1:03 pm  

    what’s political correctness gone mad? that some indians somewhere are the heads of dodgy corporations? Or that we are interested in the ethnicity of some boss of some corporation?

  2. Leon — on 12th December, 2007 at 1:11 pm  

    I think Sunny’s taking the p!ss and suggesting some rightwing nutjob will flip out over ‘foreigners’ taking over or something…

  3. Sid — on 12th December, 2007 at 1:12 pm  

    Look out for the upcoming article by Rod Liddle.

    I don’t look out for anything by that dam fool. [sucks teeth]

  4. Indy — on 12th December, 2007 at 1:48 pm  

    Many other bloggers out here might be surprised by the success of Mr.Vikram Pundit. But not me.

    I know for sure that it is the manifest destiny of India and Indians to lead the world.

    Why only banking, Indians are rising in every field of activity. They are developing a new sense of their own culture and history.

    In another 25 years India will be counted amongst the top nations of the world. Citi bank might be the top bank today, but many Indian banks are already in the race.

    I won’t be surprised if the Indian banks like SBI or ICICI became top bank someday. The future belongs to India, just as the past too belonged to India.

    It is only in the present that we are not well off, but the future is bright, just as our past during the glorious Vedic era was bright as the Sun.

  5. Indy — on 12th December, 2007 at 1:56 pm  

    Here I must also add, that China is over hyped. Why?

    Because China is not a democracy, so there is only to a certain extent that China can grow economically.

    Secondly the Chinese Stock market is currently vastly over valued. Chinese index trades at a PE average of 50, whereas Indian stocks are priced realistically at PE averages of 23 only.

    Plus in India the development happens all over the country due to our democracy, whereas in China there are only certain pockets of development. Western China is almost closed to investors, only in Eastern China there is some amount of development.

    That is why US investors are now starting to prefer India to China. Currently the Indian economy is growing at overall 8.25%, but there are certain sectors like power, infrastructure, IT etc that are notching double-digit growth for the past 10 years.

    What we see in India today is Cultural Revolution, Indians are awakening and they are realizing just how glorious their past Vedic culture was. And that gives them the confidence that they can find similar glory in present and future.

  6. Sunny — on 12th December, 2007 at 2:24 pm  

    HEh, calm down Sonia. It’s a right-wing parody.. see?

  7. Jai — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    1 Indian-born CEO of Citigroup => 200 million Indian aunties worldwide berating their sons for “not being as successful as Mrs Pandit’s son”.

  8. Adnan — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:05 pm  

    The posts 4 and 5 are also good right-wing parodies. Or then again maybe not…

  9. Parvinder — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:06 pm  

    Indy, don’t get carried away…. ‘Plus in India the development happens all over the country due to our democracy, whereas in China there are only certain pockets of development.’

    my impression of India, having lived there for a year is that it’s very much like China. Much of the development in IT and service industry has occurred in places like Bangalore, certain areas of Mumbai, parts of New Delhi and notably Gurgaon which is just outside Delhi. Much of the country has been left untouched, unless you think having a pizza hut and Macdonald counts as development. The vast majority of smaller cities, towns and villages are still living in the 18th century. State schools in India are one of the worst in the world, unless you’ve got the money to send your kids to superior English-mediums. Power cuts are the norm. The middle classes seem to be creaming off everything on the back of cheap labour, therefore I’m not surprised they have become captains of industry worldwide. To its credit though, the government is trying to address the problems of education, power and infastructure but it’s going to be a long haul. India does have the up via-a-vie the Chinese as English is the main language in industry although they make crap movies, mostly rip off from the west.

  10. Deep Singh — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:11 pm  

    Indy,

    India may fair better than China, however a lot of this is down to its infrastructure and bureaucracies being products of the British Raj, as such Western Companies, particularly those from the UK, will not face as much of a challenge in terms of setting up offices on the ground and engaging in business, not to mention the benefits from the widespread use of the English language.

    In terms of your world-domination outlook, I’ll refrain from adding any critique, lest you accuse me of being brainwashed by the English, save to say that time will tell.

    Sid,

    The other thread is closed now, however whilst the discussion resulted in your personal issues with the infamous Muzamdar incorporating a fair share of abuse for the rest of us who happen to belong to the same community, I would have hoped someone of your claibre would hold the decency not to brand all of us with the same brush.

    FYI. “Choora” is not a slang term, although given people’s attitudes and the social position it holds, it has can be used in a derogatory manner, hence why many now refer to themselves as “Harijan” or “Balmikis”. Clearly my use of it was not intended to be derogatory and was mentioned as an objective statement (i.e. Chamars and Jatts occupy the same space in the traditional caste groupings, hence highlighting more than anything else, the futility of their intercommunal tensions, whereas those who have been relegated to the bottom of the ladder are the aformentioned group).

    Finally, what you may regard a nice throw away comment concerning “knocking back” alcohol was rather offensive, however you are entitled to your ‘free speech’, just a shame that you choose to lower yourself and me to the same level as which you regard Muzamdar in the process of exercising your ‘rights’.

    Anyhow, the thread is close now, I’m happy to leave it there and move on, there are plenty of more relevant discussions on the go and I’m sure we will be able to engage each others thoughts and opinions therein productively.

    Best regards,

    Deep Singh.

  11. Adnan — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:13 pm  

    Parvinder I agree with a lot of your posting, but the guys and gals who do make it, make it because they are the best talent.

    Colleagues at work from UK and ‘States do find the poverty a bit of a shock when they leave the Indian offices. I happen to work with the Goodness Gracious Me “Indian!” character who comes out (quite seriously) with comments like the poor are happy that now they have their TVs.

  12. sonia — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:14 pm  

    who gives a damn about the global elite anyway? its always been trans-national. like royal families.

    whats happening to the masses of people in india, is what i want to know. “india is shining”
    yes of course it is.

  13. Deep Singh — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:24 pm  

    Parvinder @ 9. wrote:

    “India…make(s) crap movies, mostly rip off from the west”.

    LOL! Too right! I for one fail to understand how Bollywood is becoming such a fascination for the mainstream in the West.

    It’s not but full blown cheese and frankly the only thing it says to me about their “culture” is that its based on plagiarising everyone elses!

  14. Sid — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:32 pm  

    The other thread is closed now, however whilst the discussion resulted in your personal issues with the infamous Muzamdar incorporating a fair share of abuse for the rest of us who happen to belong to the same community,

    Sorry to have offended you with the throwaway alcohol quip. But if you cannot differentiate humour with the extremely offensive and highly derogatory comments made made by your co-religionist (Muzumdar) then you are obviosly suffering from acute hypersensitivity. I was piqued because you presumed that ‘choora’ – which is a highly offensive generic term used by Punjabis for low caste peoples – was the correct appellation for chamar. It is not.

  15. Parvinder — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:32 pm  

    Don’t get me wrong Adnan, India has the brains. and it’s all down to education, ie. my cousins’ in India’s homework at 15 would be compared to someones degree work in the UK. It’s how you get the majority to this level that needs to be worked on.

  16. Deep Singh — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:54 pm  

    Sid,

    “Sorry to have offended you with the throwaway alcohol quip. But if you cannot differentiate humour with the extremely offensive and highly derogatory comments made made by your co-religionist (Muzumdar) then you are obviosly suffering from acute hypersensitivity.”

    As mentioned, the issue is dropped, however you are continuing to work along the same line (re: Muzumdar).

    I cannot see how I have failed to “differentiate humour with the extremely offensive and highly derogatory comments made….by…(Muzumdar)”.

    I have not supported any of his “extremely offensive and highly derogatory comments”.

    You apology is not needed if you are going to slap nonsense such as “you are obviosly suffering from acute hypersensitivity” in my face.

    “I was piqued because you presumed that ‘choora’ – which is a highly offensive generic term used by Punjabis for low caste peoples – was the correct appellation for chamar. It is not.”

    Sid, I ‘presumed’ nothing and have made clear that I certainly didn’t indicate that “Choora” to be “the correct appellation for Chamar.”

    The two are different castes/jatis/etc, I would have hoped my previous post clarified this much, the point I was making (to spell it out for you) is that Jatts look down at Chamars as if they are ‘Achoot’ (untouchables), however technically both (Jatts and Chamars) are Shudras (since they work with their hands) and Harijans/Valmikis/”choora” fall into the category of “Achoot”. It was a mere technical clarification.

    Bottom line, all three are communities who have sufferred under the traditional caste system imposed by the Law of Manu, predominantly at the hands of Brahmins, however the irony is that Jatts and Chamars, who are both regarded equally as low by the Brahmins, argue amongst themselves as to who is higher or lower!

    It is quite ridiculous to say the least, however the rise of economic wealth and accompanying social power does many things to different people and communities.

  17. Rumbold — on 12th December, 2007 at 4:09 pm  

    Parvinder:

    “India does have the up via-a-vie the Chinese as English is the main language in industry although they make crap movies, mostly rip off from the west.”

    But how many countries would remake ‘Reservoir Dogs’ with song and dance numbers? That is something to be proud of, for sure.

  18. Deep Singh — on 12th December, 2007 at 4:15 pm  

    Rumbold @17 wrote:

    “But how many countries would remake ‘Reservoir Dogs’ with song and dance numbers?”

    A (non-Indian) colleague recently experienced his first bout of Bollywood, the following description he provided seemed to aptly sum up the genre:

    “A cross between James Bond, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a Porno”

  19. Parvinder — on 12th December, 2007 at 4:30 pm  

    Come to think of it, India’s popular media is a lot like the US. Housewives hooked on their Dynasty like dramas (Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi… daughter and mother-in-law this and daughter and mother-in-law that), intermittently interrupted by commercials of the latest household gadgets, face lightening creams and junk food. No wonder the menfolk are committing suicide these days.

    Thank god my family left so we could have a sane life watching the Beeb.

  20. Rumbold — on 12th December, 2007 at 4:36 pm  

    I am beginning to understand why there are so many effergy burnings and riots in India- the soap operas are to blame. Each minor twist in these programmes is accompanied by hyperactive camerawork; the camera zooms in and out on each person in the scene (of which there are normally at least 10)- dramatic music is played. The camera then sweeps around the room a dozen times, making one feel seasick, before doing close-ups again. Someone else then speaks, and the whole camera process is repeated verbatium, unless you are watching ‘Lucky’, which is even stranger.

  21. Sid — on 12th December, 2007 at 4:49 pm  

    Deep, I’m sure you’re right. But perhaps you should check out this wiki article for your edification. From which:

    Dalit is not a caste name. Dalit is the latest and currently most politically correct of many terms used for the former “Untouchables” of India. Offensive terms used mostly in the past include chura, bhangi, neech, kanjjar, and mirasi. Whereas the terms chura and bhangi are profession-based terms for scavengers, they can serve as general terms for the so-called low-born; others are actual names of the caste.

  22. Sunny — on 12th December, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

    My head hurts when I watch one of those serials… I’m not kidding – my head actually hurts.

  23. Parvinder — on 12th December, 2007 at 5:22 pm  

    Indian Serial rip-offs:

    Ugly Betty – Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin (there’s no one like Jassi!)
    Who wants to be a millionaire – Kaun Banega Crorepati
    Pop Idol – Indian Idol
    Big Brother – Bigg Boss (they can’t even spell!)
    Party political broadcasts by the ruling party – Doordarshan

    the list goes on…

    also, did anyone know, and I only found this out recently, if a foreign film crew wanted to make a film in India, they have to first submit the script to the Indian government for approval (the Indian censor board is controlled by the govt). You can see why ‘Gandhi’ was so cringing-ly bad.

  24. Deep Singh — on 12th December, 2007 at 5:27 pm  

    Sid @ 21.

    Thanks for the link. As per my post @ 16, I concur that Choora (or Chura in the extract you provided) can be used as an offensive term, however as the wiki-extract states it is a profession-based term much like Chamar (which can also be used in derogatory manner) and Jatt, as leather workers and farmers, respectively. Hence my earlier technical clarification.

    Mirasi, in fact refers to “Bards” in professional terms, however as indicated in the wiki-article, it does get lumped by some into the same ‘Dalit’ category, which as it points out is the politically correct term for those grouped together as “untouchables”.

    “Harijans” and “Balmikis” are examples of other titles adopted by parts of the ‘Dalit’ collective however these are also tied into certain socio-religious aspects for those belonging to these communities.

    Friends that I personally have of “Chamar” origins for example, identify themselves as “Ravidasias” or “Ad-dharmis”, which again have socio-religious connotations which further blur inter-caste/communal analysis, particularly the latter which is seeking now to recruit from all castes, although its origins being peculiar to the Chamar jati.

  25. Deep Singh — on 12th December, 2007 at 5:34 pm  

    Parvinder @ 23.

    “You can see why ‘Gandhi’ was so cringing-ly bad”

    Absolutely, furthering the myth of this so-called ‘Mahatma’ who advocated the very caste laden system of social heirarchy we have explored recently.

  26. bananabrain — on 12th December, 2007 at 6:18 pm  

    parvinder:

    the portuguese and brazilians (as ravi naik will surely confirm as he is a lusophone too) are also world leaders when it comes to stupid renaming of western films and formats:

    “calma, larry” (“calm down, larry) – curb your enthusiasm
    “quanto mais idiota melhor” (“the stupider the better”) – wayne’s world (also noticeable for its bowdlerisation of the phrase “psycho hose beast”)
    and my own favourite:

    “os dois idiotas” (“the two idiots”) – beavis and butt-head.

    ok, i admit it, i made the last one up. but it’s the sort of thing they’d do.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  27. Jai — on 12th December, 2007 at 7:21 pm  

    Parvinder,

    Indian Serial rip-offs:

    I don’t think “rip-off” is necessarily the right term for them; “Ugly Betty” has been remade by various foreign countries numerous times (including the obvious Indian example), and as far as I know those other game shows/talent contests are part of the same international franchises and therefore affiliated with the same original companies.

    (PS: You missed out “Jhalak Dikkla Ja” — or whatever the correct spelling is — the Indian version of “Strictly Come Dancing”, or “Dancing with the Stars” as our American-fixated desi friends over there insist on calling it. The end-credits mention BBC Worldwide too).

    *******************

    Sunny & Rumbold,

    I am beginning to understand why there are so many effergy burnings and riots in India- the soap operas are to blame.

    My head hurts when I watch one of those serials… I’m not kidding – my head actually hurts.

    There was actually a clinical study in India a year or two ago which resulted in the conclusion that children should not watch those serials as they can trigger psychiatric problems, due to the extreme abnormal family behaviour depicted (no doubt aggravated by the deliberately inflammatory directing style — sudden, extreme camera shots, accompanying “shock-horror” music etc etc).

    I’m certain they have a destructive effect on the adult psyche too — hell, I’ve seen this happen to regular viewers first-hand (especially the “sheltered auntie” types).

    Incidentally, most of the troublesome programmes are made by Ekta Kapoor’s production company (the daughter of the actor Jeetendra, for the Bollywood buffs out there). The average Indian serial was relatively sane before she arrived on the scene, including those on the newly-expanding satellite/cable channels. Some of the shows on the Sony channel in particular were surprisingly nuanced and mature; to some extent this is still the case, as Ms Kapoor doesn’t appear to have managed to infiltrate that channel yet (her core playground is Star Plus, although during the last few years her shows have been appearing on Zee TV too, with the consequent degradation of quality on that channel).

    Personally I think her company has been single-handedly responsible for wrecking the quality of mainstream Indian television; it’s a complete triumph of superficial glamour and style over substance, and — in terms of the storytelling, “values” promoted, and “subliminal programming” — a classic case of playing to the lowest common denominator. The amount of regressive ideas and anti-Western (specifically anti-NRI, especially when it comes to Western-based/born Indian women) stereotypical nonsense frequently peddled on those shows is unbelievable.

  28. Don — on 12th December, 2007 at 7:27 pm  

    Whatever Brazil has done in translating movies, all is forgiven for giving us Seu Jorge.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvhGvxuOREw&feature=related

  29. Jai — on 12th December, 2007 at 7:34 pm  

    I think that the nature of Ekta Kapoor’s soaps is basically geared towards their core target audience — conservative, middle-class (in the Indian sense, not the British one) “traditional” Indian housewives. Which obviously means that, in terms of the “morals” and ideas promoted in those soaps, they are just told what they want to hear. However, the regressive nature of Ekta Kapoor’s psychotic serials is all the more ironic — not to mention hypocritical — when you consider the following fact, according to our friend Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_soap_opera ):

    “An ironic fact, considering Ekta Kapoor, Creative Head of Balaji Telefilms, which is believed to produce the largest number of Indian soap operas, was quoted in a film magazine in an interview as saying one of her favourite shows was Queer as Folk (unavailable for purchase in India, incidentally), and that the actor who played Brian, Gale Harold, was one of her favourite TV drama actors”

  30. Rumbold — on 12th December, 2007 at 7:40 pm  

    Jai:

    Interesting. I never realised that one person was behind behind so many soaps (though they do seem quite similar now you mention it). Where are you writing from now (if you don’t mind me asking)?

  31. Jai — on 12th December, 2007 at 7:53 pm  

    Where are you writing from now (if you don’t mind me asking)?

    I’m in my impregnable desert fortress in the middle of my very own semi-autonomous princely state, surrounded by my harem of Eastern European and Latin American supermodels. Where else would I be ? ;)

  32. Ravi Naik — on 12th December, 2007 at 7:58 pm  

    the portuguese and brazilians (as ravi naik will surely confirm as he is a lusophone too) are also world leaders when it comes to stupid renaming of western films and formats

    Heh. In Portugal, “Curb your enthusiasm” is translated to “A louca vida de Larry” or “The crazy life of Larry”. :) To be fair, some titles are difficult to translate or when literally translated they look plain weird.

    I mean, it is not like Americans do a better job. Their remake of “Abre los ojos” (Open Your Eyes) was titled “Vanilla Sky”.

    Whatever Brazil has done in translating movies, all is forgiven for giving us Seu Jorge.

    Don, if you like Brazillian music, I highly recommend Virginia Rodrigues.

  33. Jai — on 12th December, 2007 at 8:13 pm  

    Whatever Brazil has done in translating movies, all is forgiven for giving us Seu Jorge.

    All is also forgiven for giving us a certain variety of female beachwear, along with all those Brazilian supermodels.

    Speaking of which, well-known Indian-American playboy Vikram Chatwal dated the richest supermodel in the world, Giselle, before Leonardo DiCaprio did…..Which proves the main topic of Sunny’s article, namely that Indians are reaching the apex of success everywhere these days.

    *Round of applause for Vikram*

  34. Jai — on 12th December, 2007 at 8:16 pm  

    (Giselle is Brazilian, for the side-parting well-behaved good-Indian-boys amongst you that don’t know).

  35. Rumbold — on 12th December, 2007 at 9:23 pm  

    Jai:

    “I’m in my impregnable desert fortress in the middle of my very own semi-autonomous princely state, surrounded by my harem of Eastern European and Latin American supermodels. Where else would I be?”

    Heh- I thought so. Just checking.

  36. sonia — on 12th December, 2007 at 11:14 pm  

    Rumbold – no. 20- hah ha that’s a good one.

  37. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:07 am  

    Don’t you guys get to watch Indian soaps via satellite? They are readily available here in Amreeka and loads of people watch Kasam Se, for example (if my families, their friends, and my acquaintances are anything to go by).

  38. newmania — on 13th December, 2007 at 1:17 am  

    Yes of course Indians have done well. Greg Dyke would have caled Medical school “Disgustingly Asian”.Blacks have done well also if only in patches nonethless they see themselves as having a stake in the country and naturally vote Conservative .

    Good

  39. Indy — on 13th December, 2007 at 4:27 am  

    Deep Singh & Parvinder,

    What both of you say makes a modicum of sense. But the thing is that you people harbor so many misconceptions about Indian culture.

    The Indian culture (what we called Hinduism today) is based on the philosophy of Santana Dharma. Santana Dharma is oldest spiritual tradition on earth. Even Western historians agree that it dates back to at least 5000 BC.

    So our tradition and culture is older than the even the ancient Roman and Greek Civilization. We developed a logical political theory much before Aristotle and Pluto were even born.

    In fact, there is evidence that Aristotle’s theory owes a lot to our Santana Dharma.

    The European civilization has been in the ascendant for only the last 500 years, whereas we have been around for 5000 years.

    And ultimately the job of leading this planet towards a logical destiny rests with the practitioners of Santana Dharma. In another 20-50 years we are going to reclaim the glory that has been ours since the dawn of civilization.

    You must not let small pockets of poverty in India delude you into thinking that India is a backward place. It is not. It has a rich history and culture and the future is absolutely bright.

    Since, logic, reason, mathematics and culture – these are ideas of Indian origin, without India there can be no international civilization. For it is our ancestors who traveled around the globe 3000 years ago and brought the torch of civilization to different parts of the world.

  40. Indy — on 13th December, 2007 at 4:32 am  

    Also I won’t be surprised, if some day the Citi Bank got taken over by Indian entrepreneurs. Indian entrepreneurs are filled with new enthusiasm for venturing out of the country and everyday there is a new Indian takeover somewhere in the world.

  41. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 7:56 am  

    Sonia:

    “whats happening to the masses of people in india, is what i want to know. “india is shining”
    yes of course it is.”

    India is Shining for the Global Elite, while India is Dying for the Masses.

  42. Red Bull — on 13th December, 2007 at 9:19 am  

    Tut tut…desi I. A touch dramatic you think?

    Surely in a society as unequal as India’s you would not expect everybody to be happy shiny people would you.

    However, i will broadly agree with Indy on this. There are a few Indians where i work and inevitably bright and diligent. I suppose it is the strong family values that contributes to this more than anything else. That plus the emphasis on education.

  43. El Cid — on 13th December, 2007 at 9:50 am  

    Ha, Sonia has got you bang to rights Sunny!
    I like your style Sonia — no-nonsense.

  44. Cover Drive — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:05 am  

    India is Shining for the Global Elite, while India is Dying for the Masses.

    Social Darwinism in other words.

    Sometimes the masses see things they way they really are. The ‘India Shining’ slogan in the last general election in India was a terrible PR failure for the BJP.

    It’s political correctness gone mad.

    Hardly. I would say fair play. The West so keen on investing in India nowadays sometimes I think it helps having an Indian at the top.

  45. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:33 am  

    Jai @ 27 wrote:

    “The amount of regressive ideas and anti-Western (specifically anti-NRI, especially when it comes to Western-based/born Indian women) stereotypical nonsense frequently peddled on those shows is unbelievable.”

    Jai, you are spot on with this item.

    The manner in which westerners are portrayed in Bollywood (together with minorities) is borderline racist to say the least.

    The views concerning western based/born Indians (particularly as you say women) are so off the fall its unbelievable.

    I reaction I get from most Delhi-ites when I visit India (or if they bump into me on the plane) is usually something ridiculous along the lines of:

    “Ju are so modren, I mean you think and talk like a White guy, yet ju still wear this Turban?!!”

  46. Neil M — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:34 am  

    India of course has glaring inequalities of wealth, but could someone point to a developed country which doesn’t ?

    India’s growth to a large extent has been ‘bottom-up’ and driven by the private sector, whereas China’s has been driven by the Governement. Makes sense because India being a democracy, the politicians have a much more difficult job pushing through certain things (large infrastructure project etc).

    Besides the true test of a nation comes when they play against the Aussies in a cricket Test series. The Indians are there in a few weeks, and its going to be awesome (it was 1-1 last time they were there)!

  47. Parvinder — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:47 am  

    Sid #21 and Deep #24: as a footnote to the Caste debate:

    Castes still exist amongst Sikhs, despite its abolition by the Sikh Gurus. However, the religion has had a profound effect upon occupation.
    The Chamars and Chuhra castes were hitherto looked upon by the so-called high caste Brahmins as having ‘no adhikar’, ie. not fit to learn or listen to the Hindu scriptures. The Sikh Gurus, on the other hand, opened the study of theology and scriptures to all castes. They went further, by having the writings of Bhagat Ravi Das, a Chamar included in the Sikhs’ holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. Taking advantage of this, low castes such as the Chamars and Chuhras took the Sikh baptism (pahul) and became Sikhs. Many gave up their former occupations and took to other means of livelihood. They also changed their names.

    Thus the Chuhras became the Mazhabi Sikhs. Formerly scavengers and sweepers, many joined the ranks of the army.
    It was the Chuhras, it is believed, who brought back Guru Teg Bahadur’s body from Delhi after his execution on the orders of the then Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. The guru’s crime was his decision to side with the Hindu Pandits of Kashmir, who were facing forced conversion to Islam. The Chuhras were admitted to the Sikh panth as a reward for their devotion to the Guru.
    note: Chuhra, as rightly pointed out by Sid, is also a derogatory name, as my partner eagerly pointed out, given to those you look upon as low and dirty, ie, can apply to anyone.

    The Chamars became the Ravidasia, or followers of Bhagat Ravi Das. Formerly tanner or leather-workers, although many worked as coolies or field labourers in the villages. On becoming Sikhs, many started a new life work in the textile industry.

    Both Mazhabi and Ravidasis Sikhs are affectionately known as ‘Chhote loog’ (small people) by other Sikhs, although many still refer to them as Chuhras and Chamars. They suffered heavily in the 1984 pogrom where whole communities of them were wiped out, especially in places like East Delhi.

  48. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 11:41 am  

    Excellent stuff Parvinder.
    The phrase ‘no adhikar’ literally means ‘no rights’ – applied to the ‘untouchable’ castes. Go figure.

    Both Mazhabi and Ravidasis Sikhs are affectionately known as ‘Chhote loog’ (small people) by other Sikhs

    Not sure how affectionate the phrase “Chhote loog” is. It does translate to ‘little people’ literally but it’s still a polite way of referring to an entire demograph as ‘lowlife scumbags’.

  49. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:00 pm  

    Indy @ 39 wrote:

    “What both of you say makes a modicum of sense. But the thing is that you people harbor so many misconceptions about Indian culture. The Indian culture (what we called Hinduism today) is based on the philosophy of Santana Dharma. Santana Dharma is oldest spiritual tradition on earth. Even Western historians agree that it dates back to at least 5000 BC.”

    Indy, I feel you harbour any misconceptions about your own culture. What we call Hinduism today is not the classical Indian culture that you seem to allude to as many of the practices today are far from being authentic (if we contrast them with say the Vedic period or later than this, the writings of say Adi Sankracharya).

    Now turning to your modern revisionist angle, Indian culture is not ‘Sanatan’ (i.e. most ancient), as influences on family life, the role of women, sexuality and so forth are evident from the impact of the Victorian ideals of British Raj and movements such as modernity, nationalism and various 19th century bourgeoisie ideals. The impact of these ideals can still be seen in spiritual, political, sociological and other parts of Indian life and culture today, including that fine industry known as Bollywood.

    The fact that the Vedic civilisation is amongst the oldest in the world is great. I do not dispute that (however I will not claim it to be the oldest), however that in itself does not make an ounce of difference to what Hindustanis have done to their culture today!

    “So our tradition and culture is older than the even the ancient Roman and Greek Civilization. We developed a logical political theory much before Aristotle and Pluto were even born. In fact, there is evidence that Aristotle’s theory owes a lot to our Santana Dharma. The European civilization has been in the ascendant for only the last 500 years, whereas we have been around for 5000 years”.

    I am familiar with this rhetoric. Most mandirs-come-tourist attractions in India (and abroad, such as the Swami Narayan Mandirs in the west) contain all sorts of imagery and details about the glory days of India performing open heart surgery whilst the rest of the world was supposedly swinging from trees. That is all well and good. Joking aside, I am all for adequate historical analysis and acknowledgement of Indic traditions (religious and secular) however, again, I will say, this bears little on what has become modern Indian culture, be it the mainstream reader’s digest reading middle class or those belonging to revisionist organisations such as the RSS.

    “And ultimately the job of leading this planet towards a logical destiny rests with the practitioners of Santana Dharma. In another 20-50 years we are going to reclaim the glory that has been ours since the dawn of civilization.”

    As I said, time will tell as to the establishment of your world domination dream.

    “You must not let small pockets of poverty in India delude you into thinking that India is a backward place. It is not. It has a rich history and culture and the future is absolutely bright.”

    Indy, for the record, I am not deluded by “pockets of poverty”, as I have said elsewhere, the genius of the many Indian scholars, pioneers, scientists etc (of yesteryears and modern-era) is something I personally take great pride in, be it Adi Sankracharya or Dr Narinder Singh Kapany, the father of modern fibre optics, this however does not mitigate the several issues I and others have with modern Indian culture, particularly the utter trash that gets churned by the Bollywood industry.

    “Since, logic, reason, mathematics and culture – these are ideas of Indian origin, without India there can be no international civilization. For it is our ancestors who traveled around the globe 3000 years ago and brought the torch of civilization to different parts of the world.”

    I will refrain from commenting on the above, however I am sure there are plenty of social historians who may offer any alternative scenario.

  50. Edsa — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:02 pm  

    COMPARING INDIA & CHINA
    Sorry, Sunny, your thread on top Indian CEOs soon the thread forked into other issues – including China. May I expand on this please?

    Surely India is way behind China in virtually every respect. It is easy to be carried away by a few Indian successes (such as IT & some overseas acquistions) but what else is there? Let’s sober up and dig up some data:
    1) POVERTY & MALNUTRITION
    Half the population is grinding under poverty and malnutrition. Yesterday’s Independent said that 80% of the people live on less than 30p a day.

    On the global hunger index (GHI), India ranks way down at 96 among 119 developing countries included in the report. Even Nepal is four notches higher at 92, Pakistan 88, Myanmar 68, Sri Lanka 69, China 47.

    - Indiatogether.org finds that 1 in 2 Indian rural children under 3 is hungry.
    - Nearly 150,000 Indian farmers committed suicide in the period 1997- 2005, official data show. (P Sainath, ZNet http://www.zmag.org, 12 Nov 07).

    MORTALITY & LITERACY
    INDIA leads the world in the number of women dying in childbirth – 117,000 in 2005.
    This means a maternal mortality ratio of 450 deaths per 100,000 live births. The Pakistan figure is 320, Sri Lanka 58 and China 45 (one tenth of India’s) [R Hensman, 19 Nov 07 http://www.countercurrents.org

    - India has the largest number of illiterates in the world. It ranks 126th out of 177 countries in the Human Development Index (UNDP 2006)

    EDUCATION & Economics
    India has hardly any quality universities. Sad.
    A global report a year or two ago put US & UK universties in the top 10. Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo were among the top 20 but not a single Indian university even in the top 200! What does it say about the quality of Indian education?

    Only yesterday the global ranks in children’s reading and maths were published. Among the top 20 were several east Asian states as usual. No sign of India !

    China’s high growth and wealth are well known. They have 350,000 millionaries and over 100 billionaires. Their Forex has crossed a trillion dollars.

    COMPUTERS
    OK India excels in routine large scale commercial IT application. But when it comes to innovation and creativity, the Chinese can hack into highly secure defense systems of the US and UK. Poor Indians just can’t hack – this needs special skills, routine programming won’t.

    SPACE & MILITARY
    China has already sent spacemen round the earth and is orbiting the moon. India is struggling with its GSLV.
    China has intercepted and destroyed a satellite, scaring the hell out of the US. Where is India here?
    China has ample hard war experience. In the very next year after its birth as a republic, it joined the Korean War in 1950 and got the Americans to withdraw fom N Korea. The US is quite worried about the Chinese war machine today.

    India has not fought a single war with a comparable enemy. In 1962, China was within 200 miles of Indian territory before Nehru knew what was happening.
    The Pentagon monitored and poohpoohed the Kargil stand-off as over hyped .
    India has lost over 70 MIGs (seen Rang de Basanti?) and 15 Harriers without fighting a war. How do they do it?

    INFRASTRUCTURE & MOVIES
    India’s urban condition is awful – grime and squalor everywhere. No drainage & sanitation. China is relatively spotless.
    Chinese movies are well respected. Bollywood tends to be laughed at. Technically they are fine but thematically a joke. And why so many English words interspersed in dialogue? Is Hindi that deficient in vocabulary?

    This is not to denigrate India for the heck of it – but we must see the grim reality. And is India really a democracy – what sort when criminals can become MPs? A few top CEOs may make us feel good but there is a long way to go on all fronts.

  51. Cover Drive — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:04 pm  

    Besides the true test of a nation comes when they play against the Aussies in a cricket Test series. The Indians are there in a few weeks, and its going to be awesome (it was 1-1 last time they were there)!

    Yes, I’m looking forward to it. Should be a great series.

    India’s bowling is their main weakness with a couple of their main bowlers injured. Batting looks OK.

  52. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:13 pm  

    Parvinder @ 47.

    I concur that “castes still exist amongst Sikhs, despite its abolition by the Sikh Gurus. However, the religion has had a profound effect upon occupation”.

    I have written at length about this issue on another thread (Are Muslims the new Blacks and elsewhere).

    “Many gave up their former occupations and took to other means of livelihood. They also changed their names”.

    This can be seen by the overlap of certain gotras (surnames/caste names) between Chamars, Jatts and others.

    “It was the Chuhras, it is believed, who brought back Guru Teg Bahadur’s body from Delhi after his execution on the orders of the then Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb”

    Indeed, it was the “Ranghreta” (another more acceptable term for those of so-called low caste backgrounds) Sikhs who did this great service, earning the title “Ranghreta, Guru ka Beta” (lit. Ranghretas, the true sons of the Gurus).

    “They suffered heavily in the 1984 pogrom where whole communities of them were wiped out, especially in places like East Delhi.”

    Amongst those wiped out in the Delhi Riots were also “Labhana” Sikhs (descendents of the same clan as Makhan Shah Labhana, who is accredited with discovering the true Guru through his true faith and belief re: Guru Tegh Bahadur amidst 100′s of imposters) and of course large segments of the Delhi Khatri community (formerly displaced from their homes during the Partition).

  53. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:19 pm  

    Edsa @ wrote:

    “And why so many English words interspersed in dialogue? Is Hindi that deficient in vocabulary?”

    This is so true. I would add to this, that even the Hindi spoken is terrible, the intonation is becoming more and more anglicised (and frankly stupid sounding) and don’t get me started on the “ACTUALLY, ju know…blah blah, blah ONLY…ju know…NO!

    Then again, I guess the use of the words ACTUALLY, ONLY and NO by today’s middle class Indians, albeit in a manner at is throughly superfluous and grammatically incorrect, is still better than the dreaded “INNIT” used by the second generation south east asian kids in the UK!

  54. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:21 pm  

    thank you El Cid :-)

    indy’s comment at no. 5 makes me want to laugh, very badly. ( do you really think the economic system – money – banking – has been about/fuelled by “democracy” or democratic conditions?? If so, you might want to read more about the Federal Reserve, and the history of money and banking, and international finance in general.)
    what funny ideas we have – a complete assumption that “SomeOne is in Charge, knows what they’re doing – – and what faith in the US of A. ( are they shining? are they orange?)

    if that’s the kind of ‘india shining’ people are looking forward to, what’s to say? What we might want to think about is who has invested in the US, who actually owns US firms, and significantly, who is underwriting the US national debt? and in terms of the wider external debt (i.e. not just what the US govt. owes “foreigners”, but debt the wider sectors of the economy (public and private), owed to “foreigners”. and who finances this debt, hmm? china holds about $300 billion of this debt, which is overall something like $8 trillion or something.

    so forget worrying about who the “US” is going to invest in, india or china, more relevant question is how long does that situation carry on? for ever? its a house of cards, built on the tacit assumption that the US of A is so powerful, such a military might, such a STRONG shiny ( happy!) leader, ho ho, why would anyone ever pull the plug and say i want my money back? And given the nature of our interconnectedness, such a crash would be a big CRASH, certainly affect all of us everywhere, and who would want that, people say. Well Quite, but definitely – a house of cards. If that what ‘India Shining’ is modeling itself on – well good luck!

  55. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:28 pm  

    let’s look at this one by dear old thomas jefferson :

    “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks…will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered… The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”
    President, Thomas Jefferson

    The Federal Reserve: what is it really?

    The Federal Reserve System (also the Federal Reserve; informally The Fed) is the central banking system of the United States. The Federal Reserve System, created in 1913, is a private banking system composed of (1) the presidentially-appointed Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C.; (2) the Federal Open Market Committee; (3) 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks located in major cities throughout the nation acting as fiscal agents for the U.S. Treasury, each with its own nine-member board of directors; (4) numerous private U.S. member banks, which subscribe to required amounts of non-transferable stock in their regional Federal Reserve Banks; and (5) various advisory councils.
    The Federal Reserve System was established in 1913 by the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act.


    of course no doubt everyone thinks we shouldn’t ask too many questions of the wizard economists who tell us all is in hand, and that we wouldn’t “understand” anyway and so on and so forth. I’ve always been confused about money – i bet everyone is as well really. prob. is when we assume someone who knows what’s what is in charge! and that we don’t need to think about it and ask too many probing questions.

  56. Jai — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

    Desi Italiana,

    Don’t you guys get to watch Indian soaps via satellite?

    Unfortunately yes, although their main audience these days in Ol’ Vilayati seems to be the aforementioned aunties.

    **********************

    Deep Singh,

    The manner in which westerners are portrayed in Bollywood (together with minorities) is borderline racist to say the least……The views concerning western based/born Indians (particularly as you say women) are so off the fall its unbelievable.

    Well, it’s just cynical marketing, as I mentioned before — playing to the prejudices and beliefs of the target audience. All the “preaching” and stereotyping is all the more hypocritical when you consider that some of Ekta Kapoor’s own viewing preferences are very much at the opposite end of the spectrum — along with the fact that she’s a woman herself but her shows a) depict highly regressive, conservative ideas, and b) portray Indian women in the worst possible light, in terms of both conservatism and psychotic behaviour (depending on whether the character’s a “heroine” or, more commonly, a “villain”). And to make matters worse, the actresses portraying the “traditional” characters are often very Westernised indeed in terms of their real-life personas and ideas.*

    And that’s before we even get started on the way Indian men are depicted in these female-dominated shows, although the portrayal of women is obviously far worse.

    *Not that there’s anything wrong with that — far from it — but it’s another example of the double-standards and cynicism behind these programmes.

  57. Jai — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    Deep Singh,

    Now turning to your modern revisionist angle, Indian culture is not ‘Sanatan’ (i.e. most ancient), as influences on family life, the role of women, sexuality and so forth are evident from the impact of the Victorian ideals of British Raj and movements such as modernity, nationalism and various 19th century bourgeoisie ideals. The impact of these ideals can still be seen in spiritual, political, sociological and other parts of Indian life and culture today, including that fine industry known as Bollywood.

    With all due respect, I would suggest that approximately 800 years of Islamic influence (particularly the Mughal era) has also had a considerable impact on Indian society, at least in the northern half of the subcontinent. Not everything is necessarily a legacy of the British, particularly when you consider that the extent of their interaction with the vast majority of Indians (particularly in the villages) was very limited indeed. Some cultural influence does exist, at least in the cases of the Indian elites, but nowhere near to the same level as that deriving from the Mughal era.

  58. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 12:59 pm  

    49 – deep singh – well said:

    The fact that the Vedic civilisation is amongst the oldest in the world is great. I do not dispute that (however I will not claim it to be the oldest), however that in itself does not make an ounce of difference to what Hindustanis have done to their culture today!

    indy’s rhetoric about india and its glory sounds frighteningly like the kind of german-glory-history stuff that inspired what’s his face with the funny mustache. I mean who believes this kind of shit? OUR GLORIOUS ANCESTORS! who gives a flying f**ck about ancestors

  59. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 1:01 pm  

    57, jai good point as well, islam brought along by the turco-persian influence ..had a big impact

  60. Parvinder — on 13th December, 2007 at 1:19 pm  

    Jai, #27, I take your point about some Indian serials being franchises of western serials

    Some films which are total copies, some inspired by Hollywood:

    Bachke Rehna Re Baba – Heartbreakers
    Apoorva Lakhiya – Man On Fire
    Koi Mere Dil Main Ha – My Best Friend’s Wedding
    Bunty Aur Babli – Bonnie & Clyde
    Kya Kool Hain Hum – The Monster
    Yakeen – Shattered
    Ghulam” -On The Waterfront
    Sholay – The Seven Samura inspired
    Nayakan – Godfather
    Akele Hum Akele Tum – Kramer Vs. Kramer
    Kaante – Reservoir Dogs
    The Killer – Collateral
    Koi…Mil Gaya – E.T, Forest Gump, Independence Day and Flubber all rolled into one
    Main Aisa Hi Hoon – I am Sam
    Malamaal Weekly – Waking Ned
    Manorama Six Feet Under – Chinatown
    Naqaab – Dot the I
    Paap – Witness
    Partner – Hitch
    Sangharsh – The Silence of the Lambs
    Zeher – Out of Time
    Dus – The Usual Suspects
    Chamatkar – Blackbeard’s Ghost
    Khal-Naika – The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
    Yaarana – Sleeping with the Enemy

    Western screen writers or authors are rarely credited in these movies.

    There is a good movie made once in a blue-moon eg. Rang de Basanti and Dil Chata Hai. Both quite original I think. You can tell I’m a Amir Khan fan.

  61. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 1:43 pm  

    Jai @57.

    Jai, I am not ignoring or invalidating the Islamic influence on India (and vice versa on the Islamic rulers).

    I believe my statement was:

    “…influences on family life, the role of women, sexuality and so forth are evident from the impact of the Victorian ideals of British Raj and movements such as modernity, nationalism and various 19th century bourgeoisie ideals…”

    The Islamic influence was and is more noted in things such as food, music, architecture, literature and so forth (e.g. put simply, polygamy, family structures etc remained distinct for Muslims compared to Hindus and others, as it does today with a separate personal law for Muslims compared to others).

    In any case, the underlying point being made is Indy’s revisionist RSS influenced propaganda has more holes in it than I think he realises.

  62. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:09 pm  

    Sonia @ 58.

    “indy’s rhetoric about india and its glory sounds frighteningly like the kind of german-glory-history stuff that inspired what’s his face with the funny mustache.”

    Sonia, Indy is influenced by the RSS, who as demonstrated repeatedly under the “Modi” thread are a fascist organisation. Whilst Indy considers the admiration that one of their leaders had for the chap you mentioned “with the funny m(o)ustache” to be viewed by the standards of the then day, the reality is clear for the rest of us to see.

    “OUR GLORIOUS ANCESTORS! who gives a flying f**ck about ancestors”

    As a side note, respect for ancestors is a central theme in most traditions, even modern secular ones. In India, this is taken very seriously, from upper class Brahmins offering all forms of puja to their ancestors and in villages, Jatts (of Hindu, Sikh or Muslim faiths) holding their tradition of the “Jathera” (an ancestor related sacred space) to this date.

  63. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:23 pm  

    QUITE deep singh, absolutely as you say. ancestor worship has plagued mankind since the beginning, and look where its got us. how seriously it is taken in the indian subcontinent – you dont need to tell me :-) ( i come from that part of the world you see) is practically pathological in my viewpoint. its like a nihilistic form of living IMHO. “Respect” for “ancestors” effectively equates to a very clever form of mind and social control. “respect” actually isn’t really about “respect” as a healthy thing, it really equates to complete compliance, it is “demanded” and seen as a right, it is effectively the “name” under which subjugation to authority is demanded.

  64. Indy — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:28 pm  

    Deep Singh @ 49

    Deep Singh,

    I agree with much of what you have said.

    I agree that the much of today’s Indian culture is heavily influenced by Victorian culture. But I am talking about the underlying leitmotif in our culture, that is wholly ours only.

    As times change, people change, they learn things from different cultures and they evolve. We Indians have evolved too, culturally, what is wrong with that. But in order to live people need to have their feet on the ground and that means that they should never forget their origin.

    That is all I am asking you to do. You have to accept that just as our culture is influenced by that of the British, the European culture too is heavily influenced by us.

    Moreover, I am not asking for Indians to start planning for world domination. That is not what Santana Dharma is all about. Our dharma is to gently guide the world so that there is peace and prosperity everywhere.

    It is not in the Indian psyche to build a army and start conquering foreign lands, but we can influence foreign countries even without having an army.

  65. Jai — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:28 pm  

    Deep Singh,

    The Islamic influence was and is more noted in things such as food, music, architecture, literature and so forth

    It’s not a black-and-white issue but I’m going to have to politely disagree with you again. To various degrees, there has also been a massive influence on non-Muslim populations regarding ideas pertaining to women, sexuality, family life etc in regions which came under Islamic rule. Unless you believe that, for example, the whole “laaj” concept for female behaviour (and the overlapping concept of gender segregation) is a relic of the British colonial era rather than the Islamic period which preceded it.

    The cultural osmosis and syncretism was obviously a two-way street as you have mentioned yourself, but this does not mean that non-Muslim groups were not impacted by norms, ideas and values common amongst their Muslim compatriots (in some cases very heavily indeed), both with regards to their “peers” and the ruling class. This is understandable, considering the political and (more pertinently, especially compared to the British era) cultural dominance of Muslims over vast swathes of the subcontinent for much of the last millennium.

    Anyway, we’re getting too far off-topic, and I for one do not wish to give commenters (regular and “drive-by”) an opportunity to start slagging off Muslims yet again, because frankly I’m sick and tired of the demonisation of that group during the past few years. What’s been happening in this part of the world recently is a pale reflection of what has been endemic in some sections of Indian society for a very long time, and ultimately leads to massacres like the one which occurred in Gujarat.

    Taking this back to the main subject, yes you’re right about the flaws in some of Indy’s arguments. It’s interesting that we also have the opposite extreme in the case of our friend Edsa. The arrival of some new commenters has resulted in some discussions becoming disturbingly like some of the more negative debates on a certain American South Asian group blog (due to some commenters there, not the main bloggers, I should add) — hell, we now even have lengthy off-topic arguments on PP about caste, of all things. God help us.

  66. Indy — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:33 pm  

    Sonia @54,

    We Indians are interested in building an open country where people from around the world can invest and make money. We don’t believe in casting a Soviet Union type “Iron Curtain” around us, to keep outsiders out.

    A lot of economic reform needs to be done before India can be totally free, but the process of economic reform has already started. And now it cannot be stopped.

    Indians like me want to get rid of the stigma of our poverty, and if US money can help us build badly needed infrastructure, then we will welcome it.

    In fact, you are welcome too to invest in India. Go ahead, you might end up making a lot of return on your investments. Happy investing.

  67. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:34 pm  

    ou’re right about the flaws in some of Indy’s arguments. It’s interesting that we also have the opposite extreme in the case of our friend Edsa.

    And of course there’s the Punjabi fascist imperialism of Muzumdar/Shin Bet.

  68. Indy — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:41 pm  

    Parvinder @47,

    You have certain misconceptions the caste system.

    The fact is that caste system in India is a fairly recent concept. It is not as if Indian society was always castiest.

    It is the Mughal rulers of India who are responsible for bringing caste system in India. Before the advent of Mughal rulers, the caste in India only denoted to a person’s profession. But the Mughal started treating it as a hereditary factor.

    They would not allow people to move up or down the caste ladder. That is how the caste system became dormant and turned into a big problem for the society.

    If you read Manu Samriti, you will find that in the ancient times caste was not like a straightjacket. People could change their caste as they change their jobs today.

    But after independence some leftist historians conspired to defame the Hindu society by writing that our society was always plagued with caste. That is simply not the case.

  69. Ravi Naik — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

    indy’s rhetoric about india and its glory sounds frighteningly like the kind of german-glory-history stuff that inspired what’s his face with the funny mustache. I mean who believes this kind of shit? OUR GLORIOUS ANCESTORS! who gives a flying f**ck about ancestors

    To answer your question: Historians. Well, that was easy. Why should we give a f*ck? Because we are a part of it, because s*hit doesn’t just happen. India is what it is today, because of our ancestors – for good or worse. Also, I think we still – as a society – suffer from a chronic case of low-expectations. It is good that we get into our heads that our ancestors did incredible things, from the concept of zero and positional system – which is the basis of all maths, and subsequently science that we have today. We knew way before Europeans that the earth was round and the earth revolved around the sun. We were a powerhouse in spiritual matters, from hinduism, yoga, budhism…

    … and right now, our main challenge is creating decent and clean toilets, which seems like an intractable problem. That’s why we should f*cking care about history to get some perspective of how far we have come.

  70. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:45 pm  

    aré! well said Ravi…

  71. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

    in case you didn’t get it ravi my focus was on the “rhetoric” of “glory” of “our” ancestors. which is actually a very divisive thing – its not actually a focus on shared history. but in any case, obviously you make good points, plus if you’d ever read any of my comments elsewhere you’d know i agree absolutely. :-) you should de-twist your knickers. being aware about history is precisely about getting to grips with reality – vs. the mythology of glory.

  72. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

    Jai @ 67 wrote:

    “It’s not a black-and-white issue but I’m going to have to politely disagree with you again….”

    Jai,

    No need to disagree, I do not ignore or discard the items you mention, quite the opposite…I totally agree it is “not a black-and-white issue”, however as mentioned earlier and in your closing comments, the main thrust of my argument was to address the “flaws in some of Indy’s arguments”.

  73. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 2:58 pm  

    and its pretty damn obvious that to be objective about the past, you can’t be stuck up someone’s arse just because they’re YOUR ancestor, some “blood” connection.

    really!

  74. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:02 pm  

    but the wider problem still remains that ancestor worship means that someone with different “ancestry” in the way we conceive it, is seen to be inferior. And this surely WE ALL can see. if we can’t we’re blind as bats and stupid to boot.

  75. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:09 pm  

    Sonia @ 65.

    I think we need to differentiate between “respect” and “worship”, if I can be allowed to boil this down to a (deliberately) simple level.

    As someone of Indian origin and with an interest in history and so forth, I personally see a lot of value in the “respect” aspect, however like you the “worship”
    aspect, that is, to bow down to authority without question, is an issue I have with modern Indian family, social and political culture, although, change is slowly weaving its way in, provided the likes of Bollywood can get off from propagating the latter at the expense of the former.

  76. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:11 pm  

    Indy @ 70 stated:

    “It is the Mughal rulers of India who are responsible for bringing caste system in India. Before the advent of Mughal rulers, the caste in India only denoted to a person’s profession. But the Mughal started treating it as a hereditary factor.”

    Please could you provide some tangible source for this assertion?

  77. Rumbold — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:17 pm  

    Indy:

    “You have certain misconceptions the caste system.

    The fact is that caste system in India is a fairly recent concept. It is not as if Indian society was always castiest.

    It is the Mughal rulers of India who are responsible for bringing caste system in India. Before the advent of Mughal rulers, the caste in India only denoted to a person’s profession. But the Mughal started treating it as a hereditary factor.

    They would not allow people to move up or down the caste ladder. That is how the caste system became dormant and turned into a big problem for the society.

    If you read Manu Samriti, you will find that in the ancient times caste was not like a straightjacket. People could change their caste as they change their jobs today.

    But after independence some leftist historians conspired to defame the Hindu society by writing that our society was always plagued with caste. That is simply not the case.”

    Of course it was the Mughals’ fault, despite them not caring one jolt one way or the other about the caste system. Before the evil Mughals arrived, everyone in India was equal and played happily in the fields. I suppose that suti was their fault too, even though at least one Mughal emperor offered money to Hindu widows to stop them throwing themselves on the funeral pyre.

    The caste system, created and maintained by some Hindus, is a terrible evil in this world and to pretend that the British, or the Mughals, or other ‘foreign’ groups are to blame is to excuse those who invented it and those who still perpetuate it.

  78. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:22 pm  

    Indy @ 64:

    “…I am talking about the underlying leitmotif in our culture, that is wholly ours only”

    Indy, that is fine, however you are propagating one thing and now saying something else. Your RSS agenda does not relate to this “underlying leitmotif” but in itself is influenced by 19th and 20th century European ideas (some of which are incredibly questionable).

    “…We Indians…should never forget (our) origin…that is all I am asking you to do…accept that just as our culture is influenced by that of the British, the European culture too is heavily influenced by us…”

    I am more than happy to acknowledge the exchange of influences between Europe and India and other parts of the World and actively acknowledge these, however you are on the other hand suggesting some form of superiority over others that being descedents of one of the World’s oldest civilisation that somehow we are
    destined to rule it (be it via an Army or through some Peace, Love and Kisses method).

    As Ravi quite rightly highlights in 69:

    “…incredible things, from the concept of zero and positional system – which is the basis of all maths, and subsequently science that we have today…we knew way before Europeans that the earth was round and the earth revolved around the sun….we were a powerhouse in spiritual matters…right now, our main challenge is creating decent and clean toilets, which seems like an intractable problem…”

  79. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:30 pm  

    Rumbold @ 77.

    “The caste system, created and maintained by some Hindus, is a terrible evil in this world and to pretend that the British, or the Mughals, or other ‘foreign’ groups are to blame is to excuse those who invented it and those who still perpetuate it.”

    Whist we await Indy’s response (hopefully if it is worth anything, he will provide a source as requested), my additional two cents worth:

    - The Vedic era certainly points to the existence of a fluid caste system which in itself would not have been oppresive. I won’t repeat it all here, however I have provided my thoughts on this matter at lentgh under “Are Muslims the New Blacks” article, save to say, the Law of Manu, imposes changes to this format and introduces the concept of a forth (lower) class and more rigid caste observance, contrary to what Indy is suggesting (please kindly correct me with references if I am mistaken).

    - Not to shift the blame to “foreign” elements, the reality is that ruler classes actually did care about the caste system as the political ramnifications of it are considerable (again, my earlier post referenced above highlight some of these from a modern angle), during the Raj, it is well noted that a careful study of caste, creed, ‘race’, religion etc was undertaken and effectively explioted to further the Imperial Agenda as needed, however this in no way “excuse(s) those who invented it and those who still perpetuate it”.

  80. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    So the caste system too is to be blamed on Mughal and British rule now?

  81. Rumbold — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:45 pm  

    Deep Singh:

    “Not to shift the blame to “foreign” elements, the reality is that ruler classes actually did care about the caste system as the political ramnifications of it are considerable (again, my earlier post referenced above highlight some of these from a modern angle), during the Raj, it is well noted that a careful study of caste, creed, ‘race’, religion etc was undertaken and effectively explioted to further the Imperial Agenda as needed, however this in no way “excuse(s) those who invented it and those who still perpetuate it”.”

    I am not really sure that the Mughals cared much about the caste system, since they tended to be an elite and so only really interacted with ‘higher’ castes. As long as they got taxes the system worked adequatly in their eyes. The British, as you point out, were more interested in it (in the 19th and 20th centuries), but they soon learned not to attempt to change anything to do with customs, because that usually provoked mass unrest (some of the most vigorous unrest resulted from British attempts to abolish suti and raise the age of consent/marriage into double figures).

  82. Parvinder — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:46 pm  

    Indy #70: ‘If you read Manu Samriti, you will find that in the ancient times caste was not like a straightjacket. People could change their caste as they change their jobs today. ‘

    Indy, so educate us… How is one to change their caste without the ability to hear or taste?

    ‘If the Sudra (low caste) intentionally listens for committing to memory the Veda, then his ears should be filled with molten lead and lac; if he utters the Veda, then his tongue should be cut off, if he has mastered the Veda his body should be cut to pieces’

    from: http://www.iheu.org/node/1814

  83. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:53 pm  

    what do people mean by the “caste” system anyway requires distinguishing, do we mean in a narrow sense, or in a wider sense. i would say in the wider its a rigid system of social differentiation on some basis or bases, which you can find across almost all traditional cultures pretty much, expressed in different ways. i’d say the caste system was reinforced by leaders, whether they were Mughal and British, simply because it is a pre-existing hierarchical structure you can then rule nicely from the top. which is how of course the Brits managed to rule india in the first place.

  84. sonia — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:54 pm  

    (and all the other rulers too).

  85. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:57 pm  

    I think caste is pretty clear cut and not to be confused with class. If a ruling elite do use existing schisms in society to compartmentalise the society to ease their governance, is the existence of said schisms the fault of the ruling elite?

  86. Rumbold — on 13th December, 2007 at 3:59 pm  

    Sonia:

    “What do people mean by the “caste” system anyway requires distinguishing, do we mean in a narrow sense, or in a wider sense. i would say in the wider its a rigid system of social differentiation on some basis or bases, which you can find across almost all traditional cultures pretty much, expressed in different ways. i’d say the caste system was reinforced by leaders, whether they were Mughal and British, simply because it is a pre-existing hierarchical structure you can then rule nicely from the top. which is how of course the Brits managed to rule india in the first place.”

    Good point about India not being the only country with a caste-like system. I (and I think the others too) were referring to the specific caste system enshrined by Hinduism and more specifically the Laws of Manu. As for the British rule of India, they managed it basically because their army was better trained than all the others, and once they had defeated the opposing armies, there was no one left to challenge them (and of course, as you point out, they left the hierarchical structure in its place).

  87. Yahya Khan — on 13th December, 2007 at 4:21 pm  

    is the existence of said schisms the fault of the ruling elite?

    Both you moron. The schism for being a schism and the ruling elite for perpetuating it.

  88. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

    rubbish mixing your causality and effect. this is the root of victimhood.

  89. Indy — on 13th December, 2007 at 4:35 pm  

    Deep Singh @ 76

    My proof lies in the fact that caste system in India raised its ugly head only during the last 500 years when major parts of India were under Mughal rule.

    Before this there was not caste system in India. What was there was the Varna system (that is classification of people according to the jobs they did, and not on basis of birth).

    Before Mughal era, even most lowly placed people could rise up to become Brahmins. The supreme example of this fact is Sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana. Sage Valmiki was a hunter but thanks to the blessings of Lord Ram he became a Brahmin, the most respected one of his era.

    In fact, I took the trouble of reading the Manusamriti recently (Penguin has taken out a very good edition on Manusamriti – you should read this book, instead of depending on the stuff that is available on Internet). There is no reference to caste, as it is known today in the Manusamriti.

    The book actually defines caste as a man’s occupation, when a man changes his occupation his caste changes.

    But the Mughals brought a different way of thinking and made it difficult for people to change their caste, which during the 500 years of their rule turned into an obscene hereditary factor.

  90. Indy — on 13th December, 2007 at 4:38 pm  

    “i’d say the caste system was reinforced by leaders, whether they were Mughal and British, simply because it is a pre-existing hierarchical structure you can then rule nicely from the top. which is how of course the Brits managed to rule india in the first place.”
    —————

    Sonia @ 83,

    you have made a very valid point.

    This is what I have been trying to say. The caste system for which Hindus have been blamed by everyone around the world is actually a figment of British and Mughal imagination.

    The British and Mughal rulers invented caste because they wanted to use it as a stick with which to beat the majority community and take the nation into their control.

  91. Indy — on 13th December, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

    Parvinder @82

    I have to agree some of the slokas in the ancient scriptures might not appeal to today’s sensibilities. But that is case with every other religion in the world. That is why we have to be careful about how we interpret our religion. If we start taking a literal translation then society will go crazy.

    We need to develop the maturity to see the context and era in which these slokas have been created.

    You can’t take today’s morality to pass judgment on things that have been said 3000 years ago. That is unfair.

    In the sloka that you quote a “shudra” does not mean a low caste man, and molten lead does not mean “the actual molten lead”. Shudra can also mean a juvenile (a man who is not well versed) and molten lead can also mean education that is easy to understand.

    With time language changes and terms that meant one thing then, may start meaning something different today.

  92. Jai — on 13th December, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

    Both you moron. The schism for being a schism and the ruling elite for perpetuating it.

    rubbish mixing your causality and effect. this is the root of victimhood.

    Actually it’s a combination of the two. The primary “fault” lies with those originally behind the creation, implementation and perpetuation of the schism; the secondary blame lies with the rulers who actively exploit it in order to consolidate/expand their own power*.

    *As opposed to rulers which don’t interfere with it at all because they either don’t care or because doing so would be too disruptive. This may or may not necessarily apply to the Mughals and the British.

  93. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 4:54 pm  

    the secondary blame lies with the rulers who actively exploit it in order to consolidate/expand their own power*.

    But Rumbold has already said, power was kept amongst the elites. How did the Mughals consolidate/expand thier power by keeping the Shudras at the lowest echelons of Hindu society?

  94. Jai — on 13th December, 2007 at 5:08 pm  

    Indy,

    Before Mughal era, even most lowly placed people could rise up to become Brahmins. The supreme example of this fact is Sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana.

    Given the fact that both the Manusmriti and Valmiki’s version of the Ramayana are estimated to have been written approximately 2000 years ago (give or take a couple of centuries either way), that still leaves a gap of approximately 1500 years until the beginning of the Mughal era.

    Please provide verifiable sources of information confirming that the hereditary, strictly-hierarchical caste system did not exist in the subcontinent during that 1500-year time period.

    You can’t take today’s morality to pass judgment on things that have been said 3000 years ago.

    You certainly can if there is a claim for divine inspiration/support of the teachings concerned, particularly if the teachings/edicts are supposed to be “timeless”.

    But the Mughals brought a different way of thinking and made it difficult for people to change their caste…..

    The…Mughal rulers invented caste because they wanted to use it as a stick with which to beat the majority community and take the nation into their control.

    We’re still waiting for verifiable, credible sources to support these assertions, Indy.

  95. Jai — on 13th December, 2007 at 5:11 pm  

    Sid,

    How did the Mughals consolidate/expand thier power by keeping the Shudras at the lowest echelons of Hindu society?

    God knows, mate. I’ve never heard that kind of assertion before either.

    The blame in those situations lies with the Hindu rulers and the priests who supported them, not with their Mughal “overlords”.

  96. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 5:25 pm  

    Indy @ 91. stated:

    “I have to agree some of the slokas in the ancient scriptures might not appeal to today’s sensibilities. But that is case with every other religion in the world. That is why we have to be careful about how we interpret our religion. If we start taking a literal translation then society will go crazy”.

    Indy, this is nonsense. Indian spiritual traditions are one thing and legal/social traditions another.

    The Manusimriti is NOT a religious text in the context of Vedanta, where one is concerned with the “shruti” (i.e. Upanishads, Brahmans etc), likewise within my own heritage as a Sikh, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is “Dhur ki Bani Aaye” (a concept not too different from “shruti”) and various rehitnama literature does not feature in this category, no matter how orthodox a Sikh one maybe, likewise with the Manusimriti.

    I have made reference to this in greater depth under the “Are Muslims the new blacks” article, highlighting the definition of caste as per the Law of Manu (rigid definition) vs. the Vedic period (fluid position) vs practice amongst Indian Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims (largely occupational based akin to “zaat/jaat”).

  97. Jean-Luc Gascard — on 13th December, 2007 at 5:49 pm  

    I’m with Indy bindy on this one, I predict a thousand years ramrajya (excusez moi, is that Indian for wealth?) like in the Vedic days.

  98. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 5:54 pm  

    Are we back to talking about the Mughal empire again? Why is everyone obsessed with it?

    Just to spite everyone, if I ever have a son, I am going to name my son Babar. And then raise him to be Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh. Ha!

    Seriously, folks, why are you entertaining Indy’s ludicrous, grandiose talk about some Vedic empire that is headed towards global domination?

    Or maybe Indy has been commissioned by Sunny to pose as a Vedic soldier who gets the people to comment on PP??

  99. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 5:55 pm  

    I love the glorious Mughal Empire.

    Hail the Mughal Empire!

  100. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:00 pm  

    What a stupid comment ^^. You’re equating Babar with Hitler? Give me a break.

  101. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:08 pm  

    I always thought the Great Mughls added much more culturally, architectutally, gastronomically to India which then became intrinsically Indian. As did the Brits, you know: Parliamentary democracy, the Indian train system etc?

  102. Yahya Khan — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:09 pm  

    I always thought the Great Mughls added much more culturally, architectutally, gastronomically to India which then became intrinsically Indian

    This makes no sense. If a foreign entity adds something to a culture, it is less intrinsic, not more.

    Idiot.

  103. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:12 pm  

    The Taj Mahal, the Indian rail system, the Lok Sabha are foreign institutions? You’re arse is very voluble today Muzumdar.

  104. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:15 pm  

    “Still, you answered my question; you haven’t the guts to piss off the Western world but are happy to offend the non-Muslim Oriental.”

    You joker. I myself AM a “non-Muslim Oriental.”

    “Thanks for clarifying your arse-kiss attitude to the West.”

    Thanks for clarifying your arse-kiss attitude and mindless internalization of the Hindu Right’s ideology.

  105. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:16 pm  

    Tandoori chicken is foreign, now.

  106. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:17 pm  

    …and, the Lok Sabha?

  107. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:24 pm  

    I see the Red Label/Turps mixture is finally kicking in…

  108. Deep Singh — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:27 pm  

    Jai @ 95, Indy @ 90, Rumbold @ 81,

    As per my earlier posts, my comments concerning the propagation of the rigid caste system results from the Law of Manu, rather than the Hindu religion itself (i.e. Vedanta, etc).

    As far as “foreign” influences are concerned, my comments so far have related to the impact of the British Raj, for whom social divisions and inequities provided a useful tool for purposes of their colonising agenda.

    Regarding Mughal rulers, whilst there may not have as obvious a use of caste, race, religion etc as by the British, we cannot ignore that during times of grave political and economic oppression, those at the lower rungs of a class or caste stratified society often are forced through poverty into “submitting to God’s will”, which in effect means little more than bowing down to those in position of religious authority, i.e. Brahmins. As mentioned above by Sid and others, the relations of the Mughal rulers was typically with the upper classes, which invariably meant Brahmins and Kshatriyas, who were largely obliged to the Mughal rulers for support, hence one can see how an impact on the caste structure was reinforced under various “foreign” rulers.

    To give some further illustration as to how the influence of the rigid caste system of the Manusimriti expanded under Mughal rule, land revenue records show Muslim rulers taxing the peasantry (composed of the lower castes) at considerably higher rates (c. 33% or more compared with the recommended 16% under the Law of Manu).

    Moreover, the Arab historian Ibn Batuta has described how urban revolts from the lower classes in protest against the penalizing Jaziya (tax) were suppressed and the punishments meted out under Mughal rule in India (e.g. enslavement of women and children, annihilation or forced evacuations of entire villages and small towns, obliteration of institutions (religious, education and/or cultural) and rejection of employment in the courts etc).

    For the record, in view of how emotions may flare at the above, I am NOT suggesting the following:

    - any support for the caste system

    - that is was introduced by a “foreign” element upon whom its practice and implications should be blamed

    - that all Hindu institutions and/or Brahmins were or are corrupt

    - that all Muslim institutions were or are pillagers or violent, it would it of interest here to note, as highlighted by Romila Thapar for example, that prior to the Mughal invasions, even Hindu rulers also pillaged those temples which held great wealth and belonged to their adversaries. She has also highlighted the corruption that ran through the management of some of these richer temples. Arguably, the Mughuls simply furthered the frequency of such activities and the expanded the divide already in place, it is far from what Indy is arguing to be the case (i.e. the Moghals implemented the rigid social structure, which as I have argued was enforced in India under the Law of Manu).

    Bottom line, Indy, you are pretty much what the title of this thread seeks to use as a parody, the Goodness Gracious Me chap who like you thinks that everything great in the World comes from India!

  109. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:30 pm  

    “Before Mughal era, even most lowly placed people could rise up to become Brahmins. The supreme example of this fact is Sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana.”

    Load of baloney, this. So we’re to take issue with Mughals for allegedly revoked the privilege of caste mobility.

    WHY WAS THERE A HIERARCHAL CASTE SYSTEM, VALIDATED AND SANCTIFIED BY HINDU TEXTS, IN THE FIRST PLACE?

    Oh, and I like how we are discussing the “Mughal Empire” as if it were one person, and if we are discussing the rulers themselves, we are blaming dudes who have been dead for centuries now.

    Look, no matter how much you feel like attributing blame to the Mughals, get one thing straight: The empire was de-centralized and powerful in some areas and not powerful in others. It is a fact that most of the rulers adopted to the social practices around them. Also, the fact that the majority in the subcontinent remained Hindu is a fact that you should think about.

    As such, all sub-continentals have no one else to blame but ourselves for keeping up this insidious ideology (which is similar to a lot of Muslim bashing that is going on here), not some entity from fucking hundreds of years ago. It’s easier to blame everything on things/people that you feel had nothing to do with you. If you do this, then you are living in fantasy land.

    So quit having a phantom target that might not even be a legitimate target to begin with.

  110. Sid — on 13th December, 2007 at 6:47 pm  

    hence one can see how an impact on the caste structure was reinforced under various “foreign” rulers.

    er, hardly. How did the Mughal or British contact with high caste Hindus reinforce caste system at it’s lowest levels?

  111. Rumbold — on 13th December, 2007 at 8:12 pm  

    Indy:

    How were the Mughals able to impose such a rigid caste system on the people? Why would the Hindu peasantry have listened to Muslims about how to conduct their affairs?

    Please provide some referances to Mughal imposition of caste.

  112. Jai — on 13th December, 2007 at 9:49 pm  

    Desi Italiana,

    Also, the fact that the majority in the subcontinent remained Hindu is a fact that you should think about.

    No offense, but that didn’t necessarily occur because of the “benevolence” of the Mughal rulers concerned. Some were obviously more tolerant than others, but the sheer scale of the numbers involved and the deep entrenchment of the existing Hindu social structure made large-scale forced conversions very difficult indeed, at least if one was aiming to target the entire non-Muslim population of the subcontinent. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t try, of course; one well-known example is Aurangzeb’s harassment of the Kashmiri Pandits, with Guru Tegh Bahadur’s subsequent intervention on their behalf.

    This was further complicated by the fact that Mughal power depended considerably on the cooperation of vassal Hindu kings (especially the Rajputs). Along with the fact that the empire became overstretched, I’m sure you’re aware of what happened as a result of Aurangzeb’s increasing religious intolerance — revolts broke out on all sides and he ended up losing the support of key Rajput rulers too, which further catalysed the collapse of the empire. Aurangzeb ignored some of the key lessons learned during Akbar’s reign with regards to how to effectively rule over large numbers of disparate multi-faith populations, which itself had considerable parallels with aspects of the ethos practised by some of the ancient Persian emperors (eg. Darius etc).

  113. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:02 pm  

    Jai:

    “No offense, but that didn’t necessarily occur because of the “benevolence” of the Mughal rulers concerned.”

    I didn’t say that. Actually, my point was that the Mughal Empire was highly decentralized, and it adapted to the social practices around the rulers- and your comment only enforces what I was saying. Re-read my comment :)

    BTW, why does everyone keep pointing to forced conversions? Last time I checked, the majority of people converted themselves, most notably due to Sufism.

    And to get back to my final point– seriously, what does the Mughal Empire have to do with the casteism that people TODAY are carrying out? There are no Mughal imperialists who have cajoled and incited Gujarati Brahmins to massacre and abuse Dalits, as has happened in contemporary times.

  114. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:12 pm  

    “respect for ancestors is a central theme in most traditions, even modern secular ones.”

    I come from a glorious line, with pure [...] blood running through my veins.

  115. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:21 pm  

    “India of course has glaring inequalities of wealth, but could someone point to a developed country which doesn’t ?”

    Differences, and not only with wealth:

    1. developed countries do not have a large percentage of their population living in slums [though arguably, the poor in the US are pretty bad off, it's just that no one really talks about it. And we certainly have "slums" or squatter colonies].

    2. Massive numbers of farmers haven’t committed suicide in developed countries.

    3. Racial tensions may exist and bigotry towards those who are “different” are certainly in developed countries, but there have not been massive scale riots as happens in India.

    4. There are few instances in developed countries of state collusion and murder of innocents, and then the guilty run free (but we in the developed world rank #1 for state terrorism in territories other than our own).

    5. Developed countries do not have half of their population without potable water, sanitation, etc.

    6. Developed countries do not have a marginal majority that is literate

    7. Developed countries do not as many SEZ’s with the help of their own governments as India does

    8. Developed countries do not have child labor problems to the extent that India does.

    9. Developed countries may be involved in receiving and trading in human trafficking, but majority of those who are trafficked are not from developed countries.

    10. The biggest economic kickbacks for developed countries do not come from MNC’s and SEZ’s

    11. Developed countries are not beholden to the World Bank, but hold others through the World Bank and WTO, in contrast to developing countries whose economies are coordinated in conjunction with the WB and WTO.

    12. The developed world does not have as many AIDS/HIV cases as India does.

    Do you want me to go on?

  116. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:28 pm  

    Clarification:

    “4. There are few instances in developed countries of state collusion and murder of innocents, and then the guilty run free (but we in the developed world rank #1 for state terrorism in territories other than our own).”

    Meaning developed countries do this through waging illegal and/or unjust wars (Iraq), bombing millions for really no reason (Vietnam), supporting and/or arming government with arguably engage in state terrorism, etc.

    And yes, there have been massive examples of illegal and inhumane manuevers in a developed country (CIA, Guantanamo, deportations, locking up undocumented folks), but India has by far had many more people killed in “communalism” which often seems to me to be a sorts of civil war which erupts from time to time, and India has many more politicians who were involved in this and were never indicted.

  117. douglas clark — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:31 pm  

    Desi Italiana,

    What are MNC’s and SEZ’s? I could guess, but I’d probably be wrong.

  118. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:40 pm  

    Multinational companies and Special Economic Zones.

  119. douglas clark — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:46 pm  

    Desi I,

    Well, I did guess, and I guessed wrong.

    Thanks.

  120. Desi Italiana — on 13th December, 2007 at 10:49 pm  

    What were your guesses?

  121. Adnan — on 13th December, 2007 at 11:24 pm  

    Edsa #50.

    Maybe Indian hackers are better at not being detected… Hacking does not necessarily indicate technical brilliance. You only need to look at the Inland Revenue fiasco to see how lax some organisations can be with their IT.

    Also, companies such as Sun Microsystems, Intel, Oracle set up in India set-up in India because they get first rate IT people. What these companies do is a bit more than what you disparagingly call “commercial IT skills”.

    Also, has anybody heard of a great global Chinese brand? Then again, what about a great global Indian brand?

    Regarding India and China, in general, they put a few hundreds of million workers on the world market who offered comparable skills to what the developed world offers at much lower cost to get really rich. These workers are the elites, screw social justice and all that.

  122. douglas clark — on 13th December, 2007 at 11:44 pm  

    Desi I,

    Are you sure? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

    ’cause you’d all been talking about India, I’d been looking at what Sid said about Lok Sabha, and to be honest I’d never heard of it. As is my wont I toddled off to Google. And read a bit about it. What was quite interesting was that I had always thought India was a unitary state, whereas it is not. You guys have what are called ‘Union Territories’, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Which even Indians are restricted in visiting, so Guess One: SEZ – Special Exclusion Zone.

    Wrong.

    BTW that looks like an interesting destination.

    Guess two. Shorter version. MNCs, well it was a bit better, Manufacturing & Networking Centres – like call centres, sort of.

    Wrong.

    Just to say, I thought your post @ 113 cut through an enormous amount of crap. What we had, as a humanity, was an almost snail like progress from Vedic Architecture, through European Cathedrals to the world we live in now.

    It is beyond belief, it is beyond reason that folk are still stuck in a debate about ‘who was better than who a thousand years ago’, when the last hundred odd years have shown more real progress than all of previous human history. You, and I dare say I, have more knowledge about the Universe we live in than any of our ancestors. Even the famous ones. We should revel in that.

    We should also see the points you make in other posts about inequities in health care, food supply and potable water, etc, as a complete fucking affront to being a human being.

    Or, less controversially, I agree with you.

    Sorry about the swearing.

  123. Desi Italiana — on 14th December, 2007 at 12:13 am  

    Douglas

    “You guys have what are called ‘Union Territories’, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Which even Indians are restricted in visiting, so Guess One: SEZ – Special Exclusion Zone.”

    “MNCs, well it was a bit better, Manufacturing & Networking Centres – like call centres, sort of.”

    I have to say that the above is really adorable :) Certainly made me smile as I am trying to drudge through the day at work, which has been, btw, extremely boring and slow.

  124. Indy — on 14th December, 2007 at 4:37 am  

    Deep Singh & Rumbold,

    The question that both of you raise is a subject of a much larger debate. It is not easy for me to clarify how the Mughal regime was responsible for the atrocious caste system as it exists in India today. There are no one line answers. And I don’t have the time to write a whole essay out here.

    All I can say in defense of my contention is that majority of Indian sages in the pre-Mughal era were from non-Brahmin communities. Look at Sage Valmiki, Sage Agsatya, Dronacharya (he was a kashtriya and not a Brahmin), Karna (he was born in a poor family), even Chitanaya Mahaprabhu though he came much later. In ancient time one did not become a Brahmin by birth, one attained that title by his erudition and intellect.

    Even the most revered Hindu God, Lord Shri Krishna, is supposed to be a Cowherd.

    There are subtle indications in many historical texts that during the last 1000 years, the caste system took root in the country. People from the lower castes stopped moving up and those in the higher caste did not want to move down. The system became as stultified as the English system of royalty. Your blood counted your destiny. But the theory of bloodline being more important than a persons talents and erudition is if Mughal and British origin.

    The practitioners of Sanatana Dharma have never believed in Bloodline. There are numerous stories of our Princes from Royal families having to prove their talent in statecraft before they are allowed to take up the throne.

    Just as today we honor distinguished scholars with titles like Sir, Dr. etc, in ancient time the scholars were called Brahmin. But the Mughals changed that. They did not want any Hindu scholars, so they made the system of Brahmanism hereditary.

    But since independence our socialist governments have made the caste system stronger, by their atrocious policy of “caste based reservation in jobs and educational institutions”.
    The reservation policy has to go, all Indians must live in united meritocratic society.

  125. Deep Singh — on 14th December, 2007 at 12:31 pm  

    Sid @ 114.

    “er, hardly. How did the Mughal or British contact with high caste Hindus reinforce caste system at it’s lowest levels?”

    I have illustrated how in my post.

  126. Deep Singh — on 14th December, 2007 at 12:39 pm  

    Desi Italiana @ 118 wrote:

    “I come from a glorious line, with pure […] blood running through my veins.”

    In response to the following selection from my earlier post:

    “respect for ancestors is a central theme in most traditions, even modern secular ones.”

    If you read my post agian, you will note that I have made clear what I mean by “respect” and “worship” for the purposes of my simplified comments.

    I’ll provide further examples of what I deem “respect” to illustrate:

    1. Religious examples would include anything from commemorating the Passion of Christ to the Shia Islamic practice of Muharrum to the Sikh Ardas (recalling to one’s mind the deeds of those ancestors who died and suffered for us to be here today).

    2. A secular equivalent of this in the UK is Remembrance Day or the recently discussed Holocaust remembrance service.

    I see nothing in the above which constitutes anything along the lines of “I come from a glorious line, with pure […] blood running through my veins.”

    And I see plenty in the above for people to give a “f**k” about. It is considerably different to “worshipping” one’s ancestors which would be more in line with your comment.

  127. Desi Italiana — on 14th December, 2007 at 5:12 pm  

    Deep:

    “If you read my post agian, you will note that I have made clear what I mean by “respect” and “worship” for the purposes of my simplified comments.”

    I was joshing with my comment. I know what you meant :)

  128. KSingh — on 14th December, 2007 at 9:53 pm  

    Interesting article on how Democracy is meaningless if you are from a minority community in India.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7143958.stm

  129. Mahagandhi — on 14th December, 2007 at 10:07 pm  

    stop fighting please
    this is not why a hindu fanatic shot me

  130. sonia — on 15th December, 2007 at 9:17 pm  

    good points Desi, in 98 and 109 and elsewhere. you’re by far the only sensible person speaking on this thread.

    change doesn’t happen quickly anywhere, it takes time to make up new things, easier to reinforce what’s already there, and pre-existing social practices are always built upon. and plus you cant blame “one lot” for a very deep-grained idea about existence.

  131. Dave S — on 16th December, 2007 at 8:33 am  

    I love just about everything Indian… but banks? Urgh! Pure, unadulterated evil!

    Fractional reserve banking will be the death of us all. No, I’m not joking. (Bloody hell, I wish I was joking!)

    If you haven’t seen the video “Money As Debt” it’s a must see. It explains precisely how screwed we are, and again, I wish I was only using “screwed” to mean “out of some money”, because I’m not. I mean screwed as in “humanity, up shit creek without a paddle.”

    Fractional reserve banking is one of the biggest factors fuelling rampant resource depletion and climate chaos, and coupled with the sociopathic insanity of corporations, it is literally baking and eating our planet.

    Watch and learn:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9050474362583451279

    There is a possible transition away from fractional reserve banking, but the banks will never take it in a million years. We will have to dismantle almost the entire banking system or hope it collapses if we are to stand any chance of sorting this mess out.

    Your friendly Sunday morning doom-sayer,

    ~Dave

  132. Deep Singh — on 17th December, 2007 at 10:47 am  

    For those prefering 100% reverse banking, here is an article providing an alternative outlook.

    http://www.anti-state.com/article.php?article_id=416

  133. Deep Singh — on 19th December, 2007 at 10:13 am  

    Apologies “reverse” should have been “reserve” (re: #132).

  134. KSingh — on 23rd December, 2007 at 9:54 am  

    Well landslide to Modi. So the people of India think it is Ok to support somebody involved in massacres. Sad place. The minorities must be terrified.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7158037.stm

  135. Deep Singh — on 24th December, 2007 at 11:48 am  

    KSingh @ 134,

    Indy and his RSS friends will tell you that its OK to support someone who is involved in massacres, since its “cultural” not “fascist”.

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