November 21, 2006
I wrote this a couple of years ago, but never published it. It is quite timely now what we are on the point of losing Nepal, and the same attitudes about kowtowing to China still prevail as the Chinese dictator does an imperial visit to India, talking down to Indians and reiterating that Arunachal Pradesh is his.
Why does China have a lot of Indians in thrall? It isn’t China’s economic success story, because that is only today. Even in 1950, many Indians (and in particular Nehru’s coterie) were keener on China’s interests than India’s. Why?
The best answer is that there is a deeply-held belief, as reported by Apa Pant (see the end of the article) that somehow it is traditional culture that is the reason for India’s backwardness. That if only Tibet were to be ‘freed’ from the yoke of Tibetan Buddhism and the ‘modern’ communists were allowed to bring in their ideas, things would be just wonderful. This is a belief that Nehru imbibed along with other muddle-headed ideas during his British years. That one man has caused so much damage because he simply did not understand!
On the contrary, it is India’s traditional culture of reverence for agriculture and the intellect that will be its saving grace. That is, unless the Chinese come in, and do to India what they have done to Tibet: cultural and racial apocalypse. They are quite capable of just that, and this is what their friends in the CPI-M and the Naxalite movement want.
There is a temple somewhere in central India where I am told there are three images in a wall-painting: a Mohammedan, a white Christist, and a pig-tailed Chinaman. These are supposed to be the conquerors of India. Mohammedans destroyed the culture but left the economy standing; Christists destroyed the economy but left the people’s will and intellect standing, if somewhat shaky. After the Chinaman arrives, there will be nothing left: he is like a locust.
November 17, 2006
Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of the Robert Sewell book, quoting Portuguese and Persian envoys, about the splendor of Vijayanagar. This book should be made compulsory reading for all high school students in India.
An electronic version can be downlooaded for free from http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3310
which is where I got this excerpt from as well.
I suggest you circulate the book widely. It is a good antidote to the re-toxified textbooks in India.
A Forgotten Empire: Vijayanagar
Introductory remarks — Sources of information — Sketch of history of
Southern India down to A.D. 1336 — A Hindu bulwark against Muhammadan
conquest — The opening date, as given by Nuniz, wrong — “Togao
Mamede” or Muhammad Taghlaq of Delhi — His career and character.
In the year 1336 A.D., during the reign of Edward III. of England,
there occurred in India an event which almost instantaneously changed
the political condition of the entire south. With that date the volume
of ancient history in that tract closes and the modern begins. It is
the epoch of transition from the Old to the New.
This event was the foundation of the city and kingdom of
Vijayanagar. Read the rest of this entry »
November 7, 2006
This is something I wrote last year; I never published it.
Image management: style before substance
By Rajeev Srinivasan
I saw a recent news photograph of an India-Pakistan meeting. It reminded me of other photos I have seen: an Indian diplomat and a Pakistani diplomat – a study in contrasts. The Pakistani, tall, fit, clean-shaven, dapper, in a well-cut suit, well-coiffed, looking younger than his age, at ease; the Indian, short, pot-bellied, with facial hair, in a shapeless Nehru jacket, with an indifferent haircut, looking old and unfit, avuncular, ill-at-ease.
November 2, 2006
This column is at http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/nov/13rajeev.htm
There is no point in my reposting it here (unless rediff had edited something out, which they don’t seem to have done.)
I have been intrigued by some of the comments on both parts of this column. Let me say that I was merely celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the southern states. I wasn’t looking to put northern India down: if I were, I’d come straight out and say it, I wouldn’t beat about the bush and be coy. No, I was just observing that the southern states have managed to blunder along and now seem to have a teeny-weeny advantage in a globalized world.
As for language, I have mellowed a bit in my old age, but I have been quite um… shall we say, forceful, in the past on this topic. You can find four previous columns of mine here, and no, I am not going to rehash those arguments. You can believe whatever you want, and that’s fine with me, I am not trying to ‘convert’ anybody:
A small point of fact: there are nineteen or so national languages in India, every one that is printed on a rupee note. They are *all* defined as national languages in the Constitution.
Two languages get a special mention, as ‘official languages’. These are English and Hindi.
Anybody who is not convinced about the economic might of India should really read the voluminous tables in Angus Maddison’s book, which is available for free download on the Web.
Anyone who isn’t convinced of India’s tremendous contributions to intellectual property development should read an old column of mine and follow up on the links:
November 2, 2006
Rajeev Srinivasan on the rise of Southern India
I recently landed in Trivandrum, in the midst of a light rain-shower: the northeast monsoon is active in Kerala. The plane described a wide circle out to sea and then made its descent and I was reminded once again that Trivandrum is, just as San Francisco is, a dramatically beautiful airport to land in, as you make your final approach over the water. The knife-edge-straight beach stretches as far as you can see, with just a cove here where fishing-boats shelter, and a breach there where a stream’s delta fans out.