Monday, December 21, 2015

The Star of Bethlehem

Many theories have been thought up about the star of Bethlehem. According to the Gospel, the Magi (wise men, astrologers) had seen "his" star in the East (on the ascendant?) and went on their way, stopping only when the star stood still, and there finding effectively a newborn destined to become king. The most convincing one is the one elaborated by my compatriot John Timperman:

"It must have been around this time of the year that more than 2000 years ago the Magi of the East ( Magus= wisest of the wise- astrologers) arrived in Bethlehem. They realised that they had reached their destination when they observed that the planet Jupiter was 'stationary' (stood still) before becoming retrograde.

"It was a long journey that started in September [of 3 BC] when they had witnessed an exceptionally rare astronomical phenomenon in the sky: the planet Jupiter, called the 'king's planet' (the biggest one) was heliacally rising and escaped from the rays of the sun.( was born again). A planetarium shows us that this time, the heliacal rise of Jupiter happened in conjunction with Regulus, the king's star, in the constellation of the royal sign of the Lion. Both objects were so close that, seen from the earth, they appeared as one star. The fact that this 'coming together' and so much symbolism of kingdom happened in the constellation of the Lion, the tribe of Judea, was a strong indication that the prediction of the profit Micah was fulfilled. For these Magi, it was a celestial omen that indicated that the King of Kings, the Messiah was born."

It is perfectly possible that the birth of Jesus was unconnected to this verifiable stellar phenomenon. Mohammed's birth was post factum connected to 570, the "year of the Elephant", when an Ethiopian army featuring an elephant besieged Mecca but was forced by an epidemic to withdraw, a sign of divine favour to the Meccans; but historians agree that the year of the Ethiopian siege probably fell earlier than 570. Except for children of royalty, most people didn't know their exact date or time of birth, and when they had acquired a following much later, a proper date or event befitting his glory was chosen as his "official" date of birth.

Indeed, if at all necessary, this constellation known as the star of Bethlehem may even be used as an argument against astrology. A configuration occurred, yet no king was born. Jesus was honoured as "king of the Jews" (INRI), yet the Jews never recognized him as king, and he is reputed precisely to have rejected this status, that some followers wanted to bestow on him. On the other hand, though he did not fulfil the scriptural prophecies (as Gospel writer Matthew and the Nicean Creed pretend), Jesus was undoubtedly an important haracter in history because of what others after his death made of him. In that case, the astrological expectation was fulfilled in whoever was born there and then, even if he was not genuinely what his followers believe(d) him to be. 

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

St. Thomas and Anti-Brahminism

St. Thomas and Anti-Brahminism


The true prophets of the anti-Brahmin message were no doubt the Christian missionaries. In the sixteenth century, Francis Xavier wrote that Hindus were under the spell of the Brahmanas, who were in league with evil spirits, and that the elimination of Brahminism was the first priority in the large operation of bringing Salvation to the wretched Pagans of India. In this endeavour, he strongly advocated and practiced the use of force. Unfortunately for him, the Portuguese government could not always spare the troops which he so passionately asked for. Still, the destruction wrought by Francis Xavier was impressive, and he has described the joy he felt on seeing idols being smashed and temples demolished.[1]
Within the Portuguese territories, physical persecution of Paganism naturally hit the Brahmins hardest. Treaties with Hindu kings had to stipulate explicitly that the Portuguese must not kill Brahmins. But in the case of Christian anti-Brahminism, these physical persecutions were a small matter compared to the systematic ideological and propagandistic attack on Brahminism, which has conditioned the views of many non-missionaries and has by now been amplified enormously because Secularists, Akalis, Marxists and Muslims have joined the chorus. In fact, apart from anti-Judaism, the anti-Brahmin campaign started by the missionaries is the biggest vilification campaign in world history.
While the Portuguese mission establishment was unanimous in branding the Brahmins as the chief obstacle to the salvation of India, there was some dissent concerning the tactics to be employed against them. Robert de Nobili believed in fraud rather than force. He dressed as a Brahmin, and taught the Yesurveda, a fifth Veda which had been lost in India, but which the emigrant community of Romaka Brahmins had preserved. He seems to have had a few followers, but after his death, nothing remained of his infiltration movement. Recently he has been declared the patron saint of the theology of inculturation,[2] and his method is being actualized and perfected in the Christian ashrams.[3]
De Nobili’s approach was one possible application of the Jesuits larger strategy, which aimed at converting the elite in the hope that they would carry the masses with them. This approach had been tried in vain in China, in Japan, and even at the Moghul court (today, it is finally meeting with a measure of success in South Korea). A practical implication of this strategy was that Christianity had to be presented as a noble and elitist religion. This came naturally to the Jesuits, who (unlike, for instance, the Franciscans) styled themselves as an elite order.
Most importantly, that stage of missionary endeavour did not make use of any populist or democratic rhetoric of equality . At that time, political equality was not yet on the ideological agenda. On the contrary, even when in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, equality became a political hot item, the Church opposed it tooth and nail, and supported the aristocratic ancien regime and its restoration after the fall of Napoleon. Only in the late nineteenth century, when atheist socialism lured the urban masses away from Christianity, did the Church evolve what is known as the social teachings of the Church , formulated in encyclicals like Rerum Novarum. Before that time, any opposition of the Catholic Church (and of most Protestant Churches) against the caste system and the Brahmin caste had strictly nothing to do with a concern for social equality.
Recent claims that equality is an intrinsic and cardinal virtue of Christianity, and that the apostle Thomas came to India in A.D. 52 with a message of equality, abolition of caste, and women’s rights, are so many lies. Thus, C.A. Simon writes: The oppressed and downtrodden followed [St. Thomas] and claimed equal status in society as it was denied them by the prevailing social norms. He condemned untouchability and attempted to restore equal status for women. That St. Thomas ever came to India is already a myth, only kept alive in India with a lot of Christian-cum-secularist media effort; that he came with an Ambedkarist and feminist message is just ridiculous.
The source of the Thomas legend is an apocryphal text called the Acts of Thomas. If the [Jesuits and other Christian] missionaries want to continue to present it as history rather than legend, they should accept the consequences. In that case, they must tell the public about the way in which Thomas’s journey to India started, according to the very same text: he left Palestine because his twin brother Jesus sold him as a slave (Thomas is also called Didymus, ‘the twin brother’). They must give details of the destructive sorcery which Thomas practised, as in his first miracle, when he made a lion devour a boy for being impolite. They must tell the public that Thomas was put to death not by the ugly Brahmins but by the king who, after having had a lot of patience with him, and after offering him a safe exit from the country, decided to put a stop to his practice of luring women away from their homes and putting them in sackcloth and ashes behind locked doors, etc.
Briefly, if it is true that the apostle Thomas came to India, then the following information furnished by the Acts of Thomas is also true:
  1. Thomas was an antisocial character;
  2. Jesus was a slave trader;
  3. Thomas was Jesus’s twin brother, implying that the four canonical Gospels are unreliable sources which have concealed a crucial fact, viz. that Jesus was not God’s Only Begotten Son. In fact, Jesus and Thomas were God’s twin-born sons. In other words, accepting the Thomas legend as history is equivalent to exploding the doctrinal foundation of Christianity.
The original Christian doctrine on equality has been expressed by St. Paul, who opposed attempts by slaves to free themselves because we have all been freed in Christ and that should be enough. St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon is actually a covering note which he sent along with a runaway slave whom he returned to the legal owner, the Christian convert Philemon.[4]
A Christian Bible commentary, The Lion Handbook to the Bible edited by David and Pat Alexander, admits: Slavery was such an integral part of the social structure of the day that to preach freedom would have been tantamount to revolution. Paul’s brief was not to engage in political campaigning but to preach a Gospel capable of transforming human life from within. This is a poor excuse: religious pluralism was also an integral part of the dominant culture, and yet Christianity confronted and destroyed it. Why should God make compromises with the world? The fact of the matter is that St. Paul wanted to convert people to his own belief system, and that he was not interested in other, non-salvationist pursuits such as social reform.
If the missionaries were sincerely unhappy with the institution of caste, it was not because of its intrinsic inequality. The problem with caste was that it offered a lot of communal togetherness, social security and a certain pride in one’s caste identity. Through the missionary propaganda, we have come to see caste as an exclusion-from, but in the first place it is a belonging-to. Even for the lowest castes, humiliation by higher placed people on account of caste did not outweigh the considerable benefits of belonging to at least some caste. This caste cohesion is an important reason why Hinduism could survive where the cultures of West Asia disappeared under the onslaught of Islam. The missionaries found that people were not willing to give up their caste by converting to Christianity, which implied breaking with a number of caste customs. The only way to convert people, was to convert entire caste groups and allow them to retain some of their caste identity.
Therefore, far from abolishing caste, the Church allowed caste distinctions to continue even within its own structure and functioning. Pope Gregory XV (1621-1623) formally sanctioned caste divisions in the Indian Church. This papal bull confirmed earlier decisions of the local Church hierarchy in 1599 and 1606.
It is therefore not true that the Church’s motivation in blackening the Brahmins had anything to do with a concern for equality. The Church was against equality in the first place, and even when equality became the irresistible fashion, the Church allowed caste inequality to continue wherever it considered it opportune to do so. As a missionary has admitted to me: in Goa, many churches still have separate doors for high-caste and low-caste people, and caste discrimination at many levels is still widespread. Commenting on the persistence of caste distinctions in the Church, a Dalit convert told me: I feel like a frog who has jumped from one muddy pool into another pool just as muddy.
Whenever the Church feels it should accommodate existing caste feelings in settled Christian communities, it accepts them; and whenever it thinks it profitable to take a bold anti-caste stand before a Dalit public, it will do just that. It is true that contemporary missionaries, who have grown up with the idea of social equality, mostly have a sincere aversion for caste inequality, and are more dependable when it comes to conducting Church affairs in a caste-neutral way (as opposed to Indian Christians who insistently claim descent from high-caste converts). But when considering the missionary machine as a whole, we must say that the missionary commitment to equality and social justice is not sincere, but is an opportunistic policy motivated by a greed for conversions.
In the past century, the Churches one after another came around to the decision that the lower ranks of society should be made the prime target of conversion campaigns. Finding that the conversion of the high-caste people was not getting anywhere, they settled for the low-castes and tribals, and adapted their own image accordingly. One implication was that the Brahmins were no longer just the guardians of Paganism, but also the antipodes of the low-castes on the caste ladder. A totally new line of propaganda was launched: Brahmins were the oppressors of the low-caste people.
In the proliferating mission schools, the missionary version of Indian history, including its view on caste, was taught to Indian pupils, and many internalized the hostile and motivated story which they had been fed. One of them was Jyotirao Phule of Maharashtra, the first modern leader to be called Mahatma. His position, while not yet all-out anti-Hindu, was strongly anti-Brahmin. He wrote: The Brahmin’s natural (instinctive) temperament is mischievous and cantankerous, and it is so inveterate that it can never be eradicated.
Then again, the Aryan Invasion theory was the alpha and omega of the version of India history spread by anti-Brahminism.[5] Phule’s book Slavery starts out with this view of history: Recent researches have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Brahmins were not the Aborigines of India…. Aryans came to India not as simple emigrants with peaceful intentions of colonization, but as conquerors. They appear to have been a race imbued with very high notions of self, extremely cunning, arrogant and bigoted.
For Phule, there could be no progress for the low-caste people without taking harsh anti-Brahmin measures, e.g.: Let there be schools for the Shudras in every village, but away with all Brahmin schoolmasters. This is exactly what the missionary school-builders wanted him to say. Through Phule, the missionary indoctrination has influenced all twentieth century anti-Brahmin leaders.
Even among the champions of the Hindu cause, anti-Brahminism acquired a following. The Hindu reform movement Arya Samaj rejected Brahminism and its heretical brainchildren, idolatry and the caste system, as utterly non-Vedic. Brahmin temples were desecrated in the name of Hinduism. Orthodox Brahmins were attacked as the traitors of Hindu interests.
Thus, it was said in those circles that when in the 1880s the Maharaja of Kashmir wanted to reconvert the forcibly converted Muslims in his domains, the Brahmins rejected this timely proposal, arguing from their obscurantist shastras that one is only a Hindu by birth. This well-known allegation has been argued to be unhistorical (though of course nobody denies that mindlessly scripturalist Brahmins do exist, in dwindling numbers): it cannot be traced farther back than 1946, sixty years after the facts which it claims to describe. Admittedly, this argumentum e silentio is not strong in itself, but it is strengthened by the fact that Brahmins have reconverted ex-Hindus ever since the forcible conversions by Mohammed bin Qasim in A.D. 712. The ritual effecting conversion into the Arya fold has been available and in use since Vedic times.
There is ample Christian testimony from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century that the majority of converts were taken back into the Hindu fold, and that those who remained Christian were mostly the individuals who, driven out of their castes on account of their vices or scandalous transgressions of their usages, are shunned afterwards by everybody (quoted by Jeevan Kulkarni in Historical Truths & Untruths Exposed). The people affected by this conversion and reconversion process were mostly, but not exclusively, from the lower castes.
Just as well, the missionaries knew whom to hold responsible for their failure: The Brahmin is therefore well worth looking at! We have more to do with him than with the Czar of all the Russians. The battle we have to fight with him is not against guns or rifles, not against flesh and blood. This assessment, written in a mood of vexation by Rev. Norman MacLeod in 1871, was comparatively mild next to what Abbe Dubois had written (and of which MacLeod approved) in 1820: And there is no stronghold of evil so impregnable as Brahmins.
The well-spring of anti-Brahminism is doubtlessly the Christian missionaries greedy design to rope in the souls of Hindus. From there onwards, it spread through the entire English-educated class and ultimately became an unquestionable dogma in India’s political parlance. Communist historians and sociologists have been fortifying it by rewriting Indian history as a perennial struggle between Brahmin oppressors and the rest. When defending the Mandal report in 1990, the then Prime Minister of India V.P. Singh could say that Brahmins have to do penance for the centuries of oppression which they inflicted on the Backwards, without anyone questioning his historical assumptions. Anti-Brahminism is now part of the official doctrine of the secular, socialist Republic of India. [6]
1. Francis Xavier’s greatest success, though he didn’t live to see it, was to have the Holy Inquisition brought to Goa. The extraordinary perversions and cruelty practiced by this Church tribunal against the native Goan population have been recorded in The Goa Inquisition by A.K. Priolkar.

2. Not only Robert de Nobili, but St. Thomas is being roped in as a mascot of inculturation. Ivan Fernandez, in “Hindu-Christian Dialogue Produces Results”, in the Jesuit magazine Jivan, May-June 1994, New Delhi, writes, “Hindu scholars have for the first time accepted Christian contribution to Indian philosophy and conceded that Indian Philosophy does not necessarily mean Hindu Philosophy…. Some of the issues raised [in the symposium organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and the Jesuit Philosophical Research Institute, Madras,] asked if there actually were Christian thinkers in the country. If so, what were their framework and concerns?… It is important to raise these issues since the Christian presence in India dates back to the beginning of the Christian era itself. Tradition says, St. Thomas the Apostle, who visited and preached in Kerala … was martyred in Madras. This seminar is not just meant to prove Christian contribution but to demand one’s membership in society as a grown up …” says Anand Amaladass. “Indian philosophy today cannot be considered the property of any one particular community in the country, even if its major contribution has come from, till now, the Hindu community.”

3. See Catholic Ashrams: Sannyasin or Swindlers by Sita Ram Goel, New Delhi, 2010

4. For St. Paul on slavery see Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-25 & 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and Philemon. See also 1 Peter 2:18-25, which begins: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.”

5. It should be understood here that the theory has been proved to be false. See Shrikant G. Talageri’s Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism and K.D. Sethna’s Karpasa in Prehistoric India: A Chronological and Cultural Clue.

6. Excerpted from Indigenous Indians: Agastya to Ambedkar, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1993.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

The concept of Pakistan in the Vedas

 (Law Animated World, Hyderabad, 30 Oct. 2015)


The three most famous sculptures from Mohenjo Daro, on the Sindhu/Indus river, seem ill-chosen to represent the Pakistani publicity campaign “5000 years of Pakistan”. The “king-priest” apparently is an officiant of a stellar cult, and at any rate of a cult other than Islam, so according to the Pakistani state ideology, raison d’être for Pakistan’s very existence, he was a leading figure in a false religion belonging to Jahiliyya, the “age of ignorance”. Like the seated yogi surrounded by animals, “Śiva Paśupati”, he must be burning in hell now. As for the “dancing girl”, stark naked and in a defying pose, in today’s Pakistan she would be stoned to death right away.

And yet, that Pakistani slogan does make sense. Bear with us, we will take the reader through a convoluted array of scriptural and historical data, and you will see why this conclusion is anything but far-fetched. Indeed, it is inevitable.



The Northwest has always had a negative connotation in the Vedic tradition. Thus, R. Siddhantashastree (1978: History of the Pre-Kali-Yuga India, Delhi: Inter-India Publications, p.11) writes: “The valley of the five tributaries of the Indus had always been held as an unholy region because of its occupation by a non-Aryan tribe antagonistic to the civilized Aryans until the time of Sambarana, (...) the king of Hastinapura belonging to the Lunar dynasty. He was the first Aryan to settle in the valley after driving away the aboriginal non-Aryans to a considerable distance.”

The latter sentence suggests a concession to the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) by positing an antagonism between “Aryans” and “aboriginals”, contrary to the Puranic narrative revaluated by the same author, which has the Aryans come from inner India to this peripheral zone and then n to Central Asia. This simply exemplifies the confusion regarding Aryan origins. Then again, perhaps it is the reader who is misled by this received wisdom while the author has a different scenario in mind: the Aryans as natives of a part of India, who came as conquerors to subdue the natives of other parts of India, notably the Northwest.

As Shrikant Talageri (The Rigveda, an Historical Analysis, and The Rigveda and the Avesta, the Final Analysis, Delhi: Aditya Prakashan 2000 c.q. 2008) has argued, the ancient Hindu suspicion towards the Northwest is a strong argument against the AIT. Knowing the Hindu veneration for origins, they should have treated the region of their provenance far more positively. Anyway, we note that Siddhantashastree situates this anti-Northwest attitude already in the pre-Vedic age, in the very beginning of Aryan history.


Battle of the Ten Kings

By the time the Vedic seers start composing their hymns, though, the Northwest is already populated by cognate tribes speaking an Indo-European dialect: first the Druhyu tribe, still remembered in the Rg-Veda as a defeated enemy of the Vedic Pūru tribe, but largely already emigrated to Afghanistan and beyond; then the Anu tribe, the direct enemy confronted by the Vedic people themselves at the time the hymns were being composed. Though speaking related dialects, then probably still mutually understandable, they come into the Vedic horizon as enemies, as harbingers of evil. They add to the region’s negative aura.

Both the successive enemies, from the Druhyu and the Anu tribe, attack the Vedic Pūru tribe from the Northwest. A confederacy led by the Anu tribe comes to confront the Vedic king Sudās in the Battle of the Ten Kings, the foremost historical event in the Ṛg-Veda (7:18-33-83). Unexpectedly, they suffer complete defeat and relocate to Afghanistan. In the names of the tribes and kings, we recognize Iranian (and not Dravidian) names, and in their religion, we recognize the main traits of Mazdeism. The enemies are said to be “without Indra” and “without the Devas”, who were indeed demonized in Mazdeism; and “without fire-sacrifice”, because in Mazdeism, fire is so sacred that one shouldn’t pollute it by throwing things into it. It seems that then already, near the beginning of Vedic history, Mazdeism had its distinctive features.

This is all the more remarkable because this was even before Zarathuštra., the supposed reformer who brought these traits into being. Some three generations later, another battle confirms the division of power and territory. In that more even battle, Ṛjāśva, descendant of Vṛṣagira (hence the “Vārṣāgira battle”), and Sahadeva, descendent of Sudās, face the Iranian king who is remembered in history through the mentions and praise he receives in his court priest Zarathuštra’s own hymns: Kavi Vištāspa. Both parties are mentioned in the Veda 1:100, 1:122) and the Avestā.

The proverbial demons, the Asuras (comprehensively discussed in Hale, Wash Edward: Asura in Early Vedic Religion, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1986, and in Krishna, Nanditha: The Book of Demons, Penguin, Delhi 2014 (2007)), originally indicate the class of gods preferentially worshipped by the Anu tribe, but also by the first Vedic seers. Varuṇa, god of the night sky with its orderly succession of constellations, hence god of the world order (ṛta/aša, seen in Persian names like Artaxerxes) is an Asura, a “lord” or “mighty one”. The Iranians, who often replaced /s/ with /h/, called him Ahura Mazda, “Lord Wisdom”. After the Iranians had demonized the Devas/Daēvas, the Indians started to demonize the Asuras, and Varuṇa gradually fell into disuse, even if by no means as steeply demonized as Indra by the Mazdeans. At any rate, Vedism and Mazdeism conceived of one another as antagonistic, much as Hinduism and Islam do today.

In theological respect, the Iranian religion Mazdeism has often been considered monotheistic, and in popular publications this account still persists. This was not entirely correct (SkjaervØ, Prods Oktor: “Zarathustra: a Revolutionary Monotheist?”, p. 317-350, in Pongratz-Leisten, Beate: Reconsidering the Concept of Revolutionary Monotheism, Eisenbrauns , Winona Lake IN 2011), it remained a polytheism, and Zarathuštra with his hyperfocus on one god was strictly speaking a “henotheist”, and hardly representative for the common religion. But it was sufficiently close. The Persians became the saviours of the Israelites with their budding monotheism, their preferred god Varuṇa was the moralist in the Indo-Iranian pantheon (as is apparent from RV 7:86), a bit like the Christian god, and the idea of exalting a single god so much above the others shows a would-be monotheist urge. All this allows for the conclusion that Islamic monotheism is but a radicalization of Zarathuštra’s henotheism. His religion, and possibly his personal religious dissent, was at any rate sufficiently different from the Vedic religion to be thematized as a factor in the long-drawn- out conflict described in the Ṛg-Veda.

So, Pakistan, which has a persianized form of Hindi as national language, can really be said to be the heir of the proto-Iranian tribes living in that same territory in the Vedic age, or at least to fulfil the same antagonistic role in the Hindu worldview.



Other considerations

The epics give even more flesh to this hostile attitude. In the epics, the troublesome characters typically come from the Northwest. The Rāmāyaṇa intrigue is caused by Kaikeyī, a co-wife of Rāma’s father coming from the northwestern Kaikeya tribe. Gāndhārī, mother of the enemy Kauravas, and her brother Śakuni, deceiver at dice and evil spirit behind the disrobing of Draupadī, come from Gandhāra in Afghanistan. Mādrī, who triggers the death of king Paṇḍu, cause of the whole war, belongs to the Iranian Madra tribe (apparently related to the Medes).

The first, to my knowledge, to become aware of this dislike’s relevance to the Aryan Homeland issue, was Shrikant Talageri. The negative aura of the Northwest was so consistent and unadulterated that this could not possibly be the venerated land of their ancestors. To the above and other considerations, he has added a fact he remembers from his own Saraswat Brahmin community. When it was time for religious fasting, rice was not eaten, but wheat products were. They did not consider wheat, which in the Vedic age came from the Northwest, as real food, and treated it on a par with foreign foods like potatoes. (Talageri 2008:102-106) The wheat-growing Northwest was a foreign country, as Pakistan now is to India.

For another consideration: a negative designation in Sanskrit is Mleccha, “barbarian”. The word is generally taken to come from Meluhha, the Mesopotamian name for Sindh, now in Pakistan. So, long before Pakistan existed, proto-Pakistanis were already called “barbarians” by orthodox Hindus.  

Another Vedic fact, peripheral but symbolically significant, is this. An enemy of the Pauravas is called the Guṅgu tribe (RV 10:48:8). But Guṅgu in Vedic means the firstly-appearing moon, the crescent. And what country has the crescent in its flag?



Territorial claims

The ancient Ānavas lived in West Panjab where they confronted the Vedic king Sudās in the Battle of the Ten Kings, the first Indo-Pak war. (Then already, such wars typically ended in Pakistani defeat.) But where did they come from? Aha, as per Puranic tradition, they immigrated from Kashmir, after taking Panjab from their Druhyu cousins. Kashmir was known in the Mazdean Videvdād as the Airiiānām Vaējo, the “seed of the Iranians”, their intermediary Homeland. It was the place of their ethnogenesis after having migrated westwards from Prayāga as part of Yayāti’s branch of the Lunar Dynasty; much like in 1947, the Mohajirs migrated from the Ganga-Yamuna plain to Pakistan.

This proves, as proofs go in irredentism, that Kashmir belongs with Pakistan. So, if all else fails, Pakistan can justify its separate existence, its hostility to India and its territorial demands by invoking Vedic testimony.


A breakthrough slogan

The Pakistani government ought to highlight this long-standing Hindu hostility to the Northwest. It would prove that the negative attitude to the territories now constituting Afghanistan and Pakistan dates back to the Vedic or even pre-Vedic age. If that implies shedding the AIT, so much the better.

Moreover, all this would validate its slogan for attracting tourists to Mohenjo-Daro: “Five thousand years of Pakistan!”



Dr. Koenraad Elst

(This paper was rejected by another Indian journal on the sole ground that defending the Pakistani claim on Kashmir is considered treason, and officialdom should not be deemed capable of understanding that this is only done tongue-in-cheek.)

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Learning from the electoral defeat in Bihar

In the India Ideas Conclave list, I offered following borrowed comment on 8 November 2015:

Dear listfolk,


if I would say it, the people concerned would rush to accuse me of "white man's burden" and other diversions. Fortunately, for most everything I say, I can find a like-minded Indian source, so here goes:

Van: "Shrikant Talageri"
Verzonden: Zondag 8 november 2015 08:22:31
Onderwerp: The Bihar Election Results: Heads You Win Tails I Lose

Dear Friends

The Bihar election results are out. Now there will very likely be a lot of breast-beating or apologetics on the part of the supporters of the BJP and Modi, and gleeful crowing by their opponents.

As a consistently staunch Hindutva supporter but NOTA voter, I would like to make two points which may lead to my being heartily disliked and criticized by both sides, but then even if the truth is bitter it has to be swallowed.

1. It was basically a battle between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Supporters of one or the other will find something or the other to put forward in defence of their support for that particular group, but the truth is both the groups are equally indifferent to Hinduism and Indian culture. Bribing or blackmailing small groups of Muslims (as in Meerut) to convert to Hinduism (and ending up with egg on our own face), talking against reservations on the one hand and bribing more and more caste groups (and powerful ones like Jats and Marathas) with reservations on the other, pointlessly using abusive language against individuals from "minority communities", banning beef and attacking isolated individuals on the grounds that they possessed, ate or sold beef, defending disgraceful "Hindus" like Asaram "Bapu" and Radhe "Maa", etc. do not constitute acts of Hindutva. Real acts of Hindutva would have been: rigorously banning conversions from Hinduism to Christianity, making article 30 of the constitution applicable to all communities and disbanding the Minorities Commission and removing gender justice laws from religious ambits and making it clear that there would be no more such discrimination on the grounds of religion, openly declaring the cultural allegiance of the Indian state to India's ancient heritage and to its true history (which requires correction), etc. These would have constituted real acts of Hindutva. And all this would have to be done not by what is being called "fringe elements" and "hotheads", but by the very fountainhead of the so-called Hindutva power-hierarchy, i.e. by the Prime Minister, who would also have been required to publicly explain the full rationale of all these things clearly, logically and unapologetically to the whole world. However we had the BJP playing its usual two-faced games, with the top bosses maintaining a frigid silence or talking in doublespeak or in fact failing to openly disown fake "Hindutva" stands while totally failing to openly endorse genuine Hindutva stands. I have noticed in all my years of association with the Sangh Parivar and its supporters that they are actually inordinately proud of their "tactic" of doublespeak and double standards (criticising the Congress for certain things and then defending exactly similar actions of the BJP)! No amount of setbacks can convince them that only honesty and genuine ideology pays!

And not only did the BJP and its worshipping supporters not take an open and honest stand but we had the top leaders from the PM downwards making "secular" noises every time they were accused of Hindutva motives. What in my opinion took the cake was the God-given opportunity we had to make it clear to the whole world that genuine Hindutva, but not hate-ideology, was our ideology and that we were unapologetic about it. When Obama came to India and in his public address in the presence of Modi lectured to us about our treatment of "minorities" (something he would never have dared to even think of doing in, say, Saudi Arabia), it was a God-given opportunity for Modi to tell the world in Obama's presence itself (in diplomatic words of course) that treating Hindus as punching bags or as people who were permanently in the dock was now a thing of the past, and Hindus who had the most glowing history of treatment of minorities could teach the world a lot in these matters and did not require advice. But he maintained a benevolent silence and a few days later lectured Indians, in his turn, to treat the minorities better!

What is the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee? When Obama cracked the whip about FDI in multi-brand retail, the then PM Manmohan Singh jumped on to a stool like a lion in some circus performance and announced that he was willing to put the future of his government at stake in his determination to enforce FDI in multi-brand retail!

Doublespeak, double standards and two-timing games do not ensure electoral victories, as the Bihar results show.

2. The Bihar elections were ultimately a case of "Heads you win Tails I lose" for Hindus, Hindutva and Indian culture.

If the BJP had won, the secularist media would have shouted that it was a victory for Modi's "development agenda" and a defeat for the Hindutva "hotheads" and "fringe elements" and in fact for Hindutva or Hindu ideology itself, and the BJP would have dutifully accepted this logic and accelerated its increasing alienation and severance from Hindu ideology and pursuit of Americanisation and ruthless Capitalism= "development" Agenda.

Since the BJP has lost, the secularist media will predictably shout that it is a massive defeat caused by the BJP's "hotheads" and "fringe elements" and in fact by its "divisive" Hindutva policy itself. And not by its rabidly anti-poor, pro-rich, anti-environmentalist, crony-capitalist, pro-American, etc. policies and not even by the spiralling prices of pulses! and, again, the BJP will dutifully accept this logic and accelerate its increasing alienation and severance from Hindu ideology and pursuit of Americanisation and ruthless Capitalism= "development" Agenda.

Either way it was meant to be a defeat for Genuine Hindutva. And every election result will be the same so long as there is blind worship, election-oriented pseudo-Hindutva, doublespeak, dishonesty and insincerity, and where money and power mean everything and genuine Hindu causes mean nothing.

Shrikant Talageri   



Our comment on the Delhi election results has been vindicated, and now you know what more is in store. BJP secularism, focus on "development", and trying in vain to ingratiate yourself with the minorities, are sure-fire formulas for losing more elections. While the BJP strategists will draw all the wrong conclusions, the bulk of the time-servers who have clawed their way up in the Modi establishment will simply be pragmatic about it: since this government will not survive 2019, grab as much as you can now.


Kind regards,


Read more!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Propagating English to help India advance?

(In the last days of October 2015, the India Ideas Conclave list saw a lively debate on the subject of India's link language. It started with an off-hand remark by an Angreziwallah (supporter of English as India's national language) that we need to propagate the knowledge of English among young Indians. This he saw as the gateway to success. I remarked that other tiger nations do without English. So:)

>Cultural pride and development are not mutually exclusive. But cultural pride by itself will not guarantee development either. In fact the countries you refer to but did not name, I am assuming that you are alluding to China, Japan and South Korea, have also been fairly open to Western influences. They are all ethnically and linguistically far more homogeneous than India. It may neither be possible, nor desirable, to attempt to emulate them.<
I never expected to encounter advocacy for the destruction of native culture on, of all places, the India ideas forum. Because that is what this plea for English amounts to. The choice before you is either to promote a native language and take your entire population with you, or be a peripheral part of the Anglospere. If you decide in favour of the Anglosphere option, you should realize that it is hugely antidemocratic, excluding the (immense) majority that is not fluent in (sophisticated) English, and only approaching democracy when the entire population has acquired a first-language proficiency in English.
Of course I know there exists an honourless type of Hindu clinging to the coat-tails of the erstwhile colonial masters and deriving therefrom a superiority vis-à-vis their non-anglicized country-men. If those inherently following types are the "leaders" you want to follow, you are of course free to do so. And stay in the undemocratic schizophrenic neo-colonial second-class condition for another century, until that bothersome native culture has finally been layed to rest for good.

(In reply, offering my observations was called "racism" and "white man's burden",-- i.e. my plea against the colonial language. Meanwhile I received an e-mail from Rajiv Malhotra's discussion list:)

First off, herewith a mail which has arrived today, on another list where the choice of language was being discussed. A thoroughbred Indian observes:

"When we analyze this problem, as some one said, it all boils down to the quality of education we have. In states like Andhra Pradesh, there are numerous engineering colleges and literally 2 Lakh engineers come out annually. But the quality of education is so poor that not even 15% are able to even write a leave letter properly. The problem is English being medium of instruction, which Rajivji mentioned several times, comparing with Chinese Education. The problem with the students is that they can't write in their mother tongue and can't speak in English and so are good in either. Without command in the language, acquiring knowledge in any subject is highly impossible. Because of this, the majority of the students are not in a position to even understand simple concepts. I experience these things first hand as I handle the Indian operations of my company. For us the problem is NOT unemployment, but rather production of UNEMPLOYABLE youth. Even to find some one who does very simple things, even after being instructed, is also a very difficult task. I guess things are better in metros. Unless the medium of instruction is mother tongue, things wont change. We will continue to remain a production house of cheap labor to US and Europe."

Not every Indian is so convinced of the benefits of English, it seems.

Next, (Mr. X) rhetorically asks the same question I've heard a hundred times from Angreziwallahs:

"Do also enlighten me about the period when Sanskrit was the language of the masses. It must be invoked when we sell it to be adopted as the 'native' language of all Indians."

Much of the answer has been given by Indians and relayed in this article of mine:

If you think another language is more suited, OK, though the experience with Hindi does not make this likely. As for English, it only flourishes in India at the expense of the vernaculars. India can become a full (rather than a clumsy and servile) member of the Anglosphere if the native languages are elbowed out of the way, maybe in two generations' time. For that long, I suppose democracy can wait. It was never the concern of the elitist Angreziwallahs anyway. And then, when India will have become English-speaking, it will simply be a piece of geography still called "India" but without privileged relation to Indian heritage, which will be no more than a museum piece. So why call this forum "India Ideas Conclave"? What about "Ideas for Destroying India Conclave"?

Meanwhile, describing a plea against English as "white man's burden" is a very rich case of having things backwards. It is another trick I've to to face so many times, viz. trying to save a losing cause by an appeal to nationalism or, as (Mr. X) prefers to call it, "racism". And he has actually used the word against me for daring to distinguish among Hindus those without honour from the honourable ones.  In fact, that statement has nothing to do with racism (and his allegation is 100% slander), for it could fairly be said about most nations and communities in the world. Its counterpart, which you by implication advocate, viz. that all Hindus by definition are honourable, that would be seriously racist. No, we all know that many Hindus still suck up to their erstwhile colonial masters, still crawl to please Macaulay eventhough his colonial regime is long gone. So indeed, some Hindus have self-respect, others don't.

This language debate is all too familiar to me. In my own country, the Flemish have had to struggle long and hard against the imposition of French. Angreziwallahs use all their resoursefulness, worthy of a better cause, to think up original arguments in favour of English, but they are all old hat to me. They have all been used in favour of French and been found wanting. For one, Cardinal Mercier, head of the Belgian Catholic Church around WW1, used to say that Dutch is unfit for higher education. I've heard the same thing about Hindi any number of times. And of course, our nation too had its honourless people sucking up to the dominant power and language.

Some other strange arguments here. Economic gains are said, by an advocate of English, to cause a promotion of Sanskrit to national language in a generation or so. In fact, the knowledge of Sankrit (and other classical heritage: Apabhramsha etc.) is diminishing by the day. Upgrading it to national language was feasible in 1949, would be difficult now (with much more opposition by anti-Hindu forces whom too many Hindus are eager to please, and opposition by the selfishness of the now more numerous class of those who stand to gain from English and lose by its abolition), and will be extremely uphill at a time when, in accordance with your own wishes, all Indians will be used to English as link language. Where would this promotion of Sanskrit come from if even under the present government, no step in this direction is taken?

Another familiar but actually very strange argument is that Indians have succeeded in the US using English. Well, of course. What else should you be speaking in Silicon Valley: Tulu? Nahali? Abroad you use a foreign language, but it doesn't follow that you have to impose that language on your homeland. I know many European graduates who have gone to greener pastures in the US and earned success there, using English. But they all have had their education in their mother tongue. No self-respecting country uses a foreign language for its administration and education. In this regard, India is not in the same league as China, Germany, Russia etc., but as such success stories like Mozambique and Zimbabwe. As long as it is useful to learn English, it is possible (and young Swedes, Germans etc. prove it) to became proficient in the language during a second/third language course. For me personally, English was the fifth language I took up. That is why some Indian state governments have upgraded the teaching of English as second language within the vernacular-medium schools.

II am well aware that Indian schools do not yield the same results as those in Europe because education in India is quite poor, with paid teachers not showing up etc. Well, then that is something to seriously focus on. Some free advice in this regard: education will be much better, and young minds become much more self-confident and creative, if it happens through the mother tongue. English as medium of education is detrimental to the development of India and to the harnessing of India's potential. It should be abolished.
(After having been lambasted as "racist" and all that, I wrote:) 


>When Koenraad uses phrases like thoroughbred Indian, and honourless Hindus, I bristle. It's almost as if we were animals in a zoo, waiting our turn to be evaluated by the expert and once he gives his seal of approval we can be sure of our worth and identity. Quite a few of us would like to categorize our fellow Hindus as honourable or dishonourable based on what they speak, or eat, or dress, or drink. (...) For a scholar of Hinduism, Koenraad appears too quick to judge and categorise us, dare I say in a most un-Hindu like manner. I am happy and honoured being an honourless Hindu Koenraad, if honour is defined in terms of your European sensibilities about culture and identity.<


So then, according to my written words against which you claim to react, my own Flemish people is like "animals in a zoo"? At any rate, if the Hindus are, then so are the Flemish, for they have or had similar language issues which serve as an acid test distinguishing dishonourable collaborators with the oppressor from self-respecting people  My sensibilities in this regard are not "European", they are certifiedly universal. Look at if the other way: while some Rajputs were dishonourably collaborating with the Moghuls, others saved the nation's honour by opposing them. But it is one of the great Fehlleistungen (mis-achievements) of the current Hindu movement to conceive every problem in terms of nationalism. In terms of "foreign invader" Babar against "native hero" Rama -- as if Babar's iconoclasm had anything to do with his being foreign rather than his being Muslim. Moreover, I have found that in many debates, the appeal to nationalism is a good way out for the out-argued. As Samuel Johnson observed: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."  


Then again, I have sometimes argued that collaboration, though not very honourable, is sometimes the lesser evil. The Moghul army was such a power-house that sometimes collaboration was the best way to save as much of Hindu culture as possible. But does this apply here? There is absolutely nothing being saved by imposing English on the Indian people, it only hastens the demise of a distinct Hindu civilization. Ah, but the economy then? It is an easy and unverified assumption that India flourishes because of English. In terms of economic growth, China without English zoomed India by. Angreziwalahs prefer the example of Zimbabwe, a basket-case in spite of following essentially the same language policy as India.


>This link between national identity and language is itself a European invention. I don't see why we must swallow it hook line and sinker.<

On the contrary, the imposition of a foreign language is European, viz. an aspect of European colonialism. To be sure, in Asia there may be a distance between the official language and the popular dialects (as between Classical Chinese or now Mandarin and the spoken Chinese dialects), but the distance is much smaller and estranging, and the court language is as native as the popular vernaculars.  But I agree with you that Indians must not swallow English hook, line and sinker.
>I don't see Koenraad making a distinction between Italians with honour and Italians without honour based on their adoption of Latin.<

Latin might have been a legitimate option, but I accept that the people concerned have agreed on a common modern dialect (different from other dialects) as official language, which everybody could easily adopt. If Indians chose Hindi, I could live with that. It's just that it hasn't worked, and Indians like Rajiv Malhotra or Sankrant Sanu have rethought the issue and concluded that Sanskrit is the only feasible alternative to English. Yes, it takes effort, but then propagating English has equally not been a success either. They have estimated what cost and effort it would take, and contrary to Angreziwallah propaganda, it is very feasible. All that it really takes is political will. 

(Though the racism angle exists only in his imagination as well as in the pro-English position, Mr. X kept on hammering away at this nail:)
> Of course he wouldn't. They (i.e. the Italians) are white Europeans and these rules don't apply to them. They are free to choose and we Indians must submit to however Koenraad and his ilk of experts on India choose to classify us. This is simply a more sophisticated form of racism. Some of you might like to line up to receive your honourable Hindu certificate from Koenraad. Please count me out. I find his classification absurd and racist. Try making a similar classification of Europeans. The response you get will validate my point of view.<

Well, I have made this classification of Europeans too, in several different contexts. And I have not received any response validating your point of view. Many Hindus (indeed, many people) only talk with like-minded people and never get out of their comfort zone. I, by contrast, have exposed myself many times to real opposition, and I know by now what kind of reaction to expect.
So the same rules apply to "white" Italians and "white" Flemings as well (as per my proven record, starting decades before this debate), and to most human beings. In my last mail, I had already refuted the predictable "racism" charge, but here it is being repeated. So this is becoming a routine application of the pattern I have seen so often. First you make a point, someone argues against it, but then you trump this counterpoint with serious arguments. Then the Indian "nationalist" withdraws to the line of defence he deems safest: nationalist. So he denounces this "foreigner" and reduces his points to their "foreignness", regardless of their equal use on foreigners or their equal use by Indians. The Indian nationalist may then be able to polish his false native/foreign distinction a bit (as has happened here), but henceforth he is doomed to endlessly repeating his "racism" discourse. Angreziwallahs are nothing if not parrots.

> Given our linguistic diversity, I think that it is futile to make language the foundation of our national identity. It will lead to needless political friction and resentment. The present Government would be squandering its mandate on a very volatile and emotive issue. I respect the views of those of us who resent the domination of English in our public life, even though I don't quite share their sense of alarm and outrage. This domination did not come about overnight and therefore it can't be removed overnight either. By all means encourage the promotion of Sanskrit and other Indian languages. That can be done by more liberal funding of teaching and research positions in our schools and universities, especially for Sanskrit. But to rail against English per se and to demonise those who use English primarily as an instrument to bridge our linguistic diversity as honourless Hindus is not a very constructive approach.<
I was about to continue: "And the worst part of this misplaced and mendacious 'racism' discourse is that the real debating point is being sidelined." But to my pleasant surprise, it raises its head again. Good.
The Angreziwallahs themselves see language as the foundation of national unity over and above the local languages, see their own earlier posts. Only it is not Indian unity but unity of the Anglosphere, of which India should, at the expense of its native languages and civilization, become a member, unlike the other members who are simply being themselves. Now that is white racism for you.
It is true that the domination of English will take a long time to undo, and that precisely is why it is time to make a start now. But "encouraging the promotion of Sanskrit and other Indian languages" is not going to do it. Esperanto has been promoted by a number of governments (Brazil, Iran, Japan...) yet come to nothing. As Rajiv Malhotra observes, not the push factor of "promoting" a language will succeed, but the "pull factor": make it lucrative to be a Sanskrit graduate by reserving a growing number of posts and functions to knowers of Sanskrit. This swich-over can then be made gradually, as you people desire, but it should be a visible change, and then people themselves will learn Sanskrit by their own initiative, as they now do with English.
(Then we got the libertarian-sounding argument: the state should not interfere:) 
 >Let us leave such matters to the individual wisdom of citizens rather than constrict their choices as though we were colonial masters. That is all that is being asked. Indians are adults and each can make up his or her own mind. There is nothing Anglo about wanting the freedoms of a genuine democracy.<
According to Abbé Lacordaire, "between the strong one and the feeble one, it is freedom that oppresses and the law that liberates." The "free" choice of parents to send their children to English-medium schools is a consequence of their weak position, necessitating accomodation, vis-à-vis the accomplished fact of the imposition of English. There has never been anything "free" about this imposition: first it was initiated by the colonial ruling class, then expanded by the Nehruvian elite. It chose to ride roughshod over the people's will and over the Constitution, which enthroned Hindi as national link language as of 1965, and which was overruled by a mere presidential decree.
The option for English was the result of state policy, and the choice for Sanskrit will also be a matter of state policy. But that doesn't impinge on your "freedom". Everybody remains free to go for English education; only there won't be a premium on it. A pro-Hindu government can install "pull factors" that make it lucrative to be a Sanskrit-knower rather than an Angreziwallah. Unfortunately, we now have a government of time-servers (though elected on the strength of the Hindu vote and Hindu party workers), and by the time we have a committed and powerful Hindu movement, it may be too late.
To be sure, I realize that the Angreziwallahs have inertia on their side, including the inertia of the pro-Hindu camp. Indeed, the Hindus' lukewarm efforts show when you compare the number of Wikipedia pages in each language (though this is partly caused by their uphill struggle against the accomplished fact of English dominance). The Angreziwallahs have personal gain as their pull factor, while votaries of Sanskrit only have the collective good as their main appeal. Though the gain of abolishing English is enormous, the road to that goal is a difficult one, and seems at first sight prohibitive if not quixotic. But as William of Orange said: "It is not necessary to hope in order to undertake, nor to succeed in order to persevere."
(More pro-English mails repeated the already-refuted points, and one mail lambasted them as typically left-liberal:)

Since the Angreziwallahs are now going around in circles and repeating points that have already been refuted once or twice, this should be my last post on this topic.
> It is strange when Koenraad talks of honourable Hindus and honourless Hindus we must accept it as a valid academic distinction. However when I try to point out that his approach is part of a European tradition of looking down at India, it is characterized as left liberal talk or hate mail.<
No idea whether my distinction is "academic", but it is one that all people regardless of race can relate to. Some people have self-respect or "honour", others don't. E.g., they prefer to suck up to their former colonial masters by perpetuating their medium of administration. 

> Neither Koenraad, nor any well meaning scholar, has the right to make such insulting, sweeping generalisations about any religion.<
It is the very opposite of a "generalization", viz. it is a distinction. The "dishonourable" category does not include everyone, it includes specifically those who prefer crawling to walking upright. Moreover, it is not deterministic at all: you can leave one category any time and join the other. You can see the error of your position, change it, and no one will blame you for your former wrong position. And no honest reader can construe it as an attack on your "religion".  
>My point is very simple, an idea of India that does not recognise the linguistic diversity of India, and aims to impose any language, Sanskrit, Hindi or even English through state policy is going to create needless friction. It is an emotive issue with tremendous destructive potential.<
That, then, is a formidable indictment of English, which was exclusively and undemocratically imposed by the state: first by the British, then by the Nehruvians. The will of the people was democratically expressed once, and then very authoritatively, viz. in the Constituent Assembly. There, the vote was between Hindi and Sanskrit, English was not in the picture at all. Indeed, to the generation that had achieved decolonization, it was totally obvious that decolonization implied abandoning the colonial language and asserting linguistic self-sufficiency. This democratic expression of the people's will was overruled by a presidential decree, blocking the constitutional abolition of English in 1965. The smokescreen motive was the agitation by Tamil chauvinists, the real reason the self-interest of the Nehruvian elite against the Indian masses. To complete the tactic, we then get a hit-and-run position: "Now that we can enjoy the effects of the imposition of English by the state, no more state intervention!, From now on, 'freedom'!" 

>If you use harsh words be prepared to take them too.<

That's right. I have spoken harsh truths, so I should be prepared for harsh slander.

>I see Koenraad as the modern day inheritor of the great European mission to civilize the world and refashion it according to their fixed notions of race, religion, ethnicity and national identity. In this narrative, Indians (you can replace it with any another national group), don't know what's best for them. They need to be made to realize who they truly are and be guided in their choices.<

 And that is why this Koenraad is following numerous Indians in pleading against the abject choice for a European language and supporting the self-respecting choice for a native language.

> The earlier generations of invaders promised us a better future, the new wave of Koenraads offer us a better past.<

A really fine phrase, though its meaning is not so clear.

>Make no mistake, this promise is as much a lie as past promises.<

Like Lord Macaulay's promise that the imposition of English would liberate the Indians from their backwardness?

>It does nothing to address the real challenges of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, malnourishment and gender/caste based iniquities that are the real challenges that all patriotic Indians (and well meaning outsiders who wish to help) must address collectively. I believe that addressing these real failings of present day India directly, must be the main focus of the India Ideas Conclave.<

Ha, the "real" issues! That has always been the secularist buzzword to neutralize all cultural concerns. Nowadays it is much used by the dominant "BJP secularists" (better get used to this expression if you want to understand today's political dynamics) and by all the opportunists now joining the Modi set-up to make hay while the sun shines. Since that outlook is already dominant, I think the India Ideas Conclave has more future-oriented concerns to focus on.

To shield the 1965 decree overruling the Constitution and perpetuating English against criticism, the Times of India's cartoonist Laxman drew men fighting over Hindi and English aboard a sinking ship surrounded by the sharks of poverty, unemployment and similar "real" problems. (according to what I read in MJ Akbar long ago)

This is the typical tactic of people defending a status-quo. Before they will even confront the contentious issue, they first forestall that confrontation as long as possible by sabotaging the opposition's attempt to raise the issue at all. They blur the terms of the debate, they pretend that there is not even an issue, or that it only hampers the solution of other, more urgent, "real" issues.

>The richness of our past must be celebrated and propagated but we must address our present challenges with a greater focus and sense of purpose. Does the abolition of English, and the imposition of Sanskrit or Hindi help us achieve any of the goals listed above? I think not and therefore..."<

As the Orientalizers observed already 200 years ago, and as has been amply proven by now, education through English breeds mediocrity among "educated" Indians. So yes, a different language policy amounts to an enormous tangible gain, not just culturally but also economically.

> must be treated as the quaint academic parlour game that it probably is.<

Here you may be right. The writers of Bhasha-Niti and other pleas against English may argue all they want, but if the government doesn't take up their project, nothing will come of it. In modern society, the state is an important actor, with more powers than what an ancient tyrant could dream of. Today on the cultural front, the BJP is very inert (an impression I gather through the media, confirmed by some privileged actors with whom I am in contact), unfaithful to its original party manifesto. Already in the 1990s, LK Adani said: "English should continue." So for linguistic patriots this is an uphill battle, whereas Angreziwallas can remain smug and safe in the knowledge that no reform is on the horizon yet.

>Oh if only we were as homogeneous as one of the European nations. We could have been like Europeans too.<

Well, my own country is not homogenous, it has three official languages (or Switzerland, four) yet does not use a foreign language.

We are neither China nor Zimbabwe. We are India, a country of such richness and bewildering complexity that the poor binary European mind will always struggle to comprehend.

Ah, "complexity"! That is another secularist buzzword used to keep serious questioning at bay. Romila Thapar uses it all the time. In fact, India's linguistic situation is not complex at all. It can be summed up in one sentence: "With so many languges, India needs a link language." That is equally simple whether you choose a foreign or a native language as link language.

>I wonder if Koenraad would react in the same way if by some accident of history the Belgians had conquered India and Flemish was our official language. Perhaps then a Koenraad would emerge from the British Isles and rail against the destruction caused by the Flemish language on the poor Indian mind.<

The Flemish movement aimed at linguistic justice for the underdog, including ourselves, and never ever considered conquest.

>By the way the Belgians did colonise a country in Africa called Congo. I really envy them.<

In French. And the first thing Belgians (not Belgium, the Congo was then private property of the Belgian king Léopold II) did there was to abolish slavery through a war with the Arab slavers -- the only war Belgium won on its own. Belgium never practised slavery, and when it finally came in a position to do so, it abolished slavery.

All this talk about colonialism (and that by a defender of the continued imposition of the colonial language!) is a manoeuvre to obscure the fact that the adversary of your language policy is not the British (on the contrary) or any other Western power (they couldn't care less), but your own countrymen. For me it is only advantageous that we are having this debate in English; it is the Indian masses who are put at a disadvantage.

>Our use of English does nothing to add or subtract from our civilizational self esteem.<

So the Indian Republic's  Founding Fathers were wrong?  You know it all better than them?

>Just curious,but do you also campaigning in Belgium and more broadly in continental Europe for the suppression of English? After all, native culture in those parts needs to be saved from the toxic effects of this apparently hugely destructive language. Please let me have details of your efforts at blocking English in Belgium and in the rest of Europe,or is your activity in this regard confined  to India?<

This unfunny attempt at humour (cfr. Laxman, above) is typical for the Angreziwallah position: smug, conceited, very sure in their superior position which they trust is not going to be assailed anytime soon. But still mendacious.

These rhetorical questions falsely presuppose that Europe has the same language policy as India. But to the contrary, like Russia, China, Japan and every other self-respecting nation, the European countries use their own native languages for governance and education.

>As for China,the Chinese Communist Party has since the past twelve years embarked on a program to spread English widely within the population,and as a consequence,the number of those speaking the language is rising to levels that will soon challenge India's. It is important that you visit China and warn people there of the danger to their culture and traditions posed by the rapid spread of English. Dont confine the good work only to India.<

It would be funny if it were true, but Angreziwallahs are nothing if not "economical" -- with the truth. China maintains Chinese as medium of governance and education and in all walks of life. At official press conferences, it has decreed it will take no questions in English. The promotion of English that you pretend to be in line with your own English-medium policy, is in fact only the promotion of a foreign-language course. That is exactly what "nativists" advocate for India: learn English as a foreign language, within the safe setting of a native medium, like the self-respecting Chinese do, and unlike what the dishonourable Angreziwallahs advocate.

>Once we rise,so will our languages,in a natural process.<

Once people rise, they will promote whatever language they consider their own. If all their serious business is conducted in English, it will not be the kitchen language they vaguely know from their grandparents. Hindu preachers tell me that when addressing young audiences, they have to switch to English, for any message given through the cleaning-lady's vernacular is not taken serious. During the Constituent Assembly, India was not "shining" yet, it was much poorer than under Modi, yet those leaders didn't say: "Wait, first we have to deal with the 'real' issues, and then one day, in a century or so, our great-great-grandchildren may consider abolishing English." They had a sense of honour.

>To attempt such a growth through fiat on the Bandaranaike model would end in disaster.<

No one here was proposing to emulate Bandaranaike's imposition of Sinhala on the Tamils. That is a red herring and again typical of an establishment's ("bourgeois") propaganda against alternatives. But his mistake, and the disastrous imposition of Urdu on East Pakistan, may serve as a useful lesson to India. In charting a policy, the mistakes made by others should be learned from. When mentioning problems facing a project, lazy people take these as prohibitive objections, whereas energetic people take them constructively as obstacles either to be avoided or to be learned from. But thanks for your helpful warning that any reform will provoke violence from the Angrezi Tigers.

>Allow me to make this my last post in this particular exchange.<


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