A nuanced brown place in the world

Recently my friend Michelle re-tweeted this tweet you see to the left from Aziz Ansari. When I was in college some Indian students would play cricket in the public spaces I had to cross to get between classes, and they would consistently stop what they were doing and give me an inviting stare down. Finally I asked them what was up, and one of the players wondered if I played cricket. I explained not only did I not play cricket, but I had no idea what they were doing most of the time. One of my interlocutors quipped that I looked like I should play cricket. I had to laugh at that, and went on my way.

So first, congratulations to India! I recall how excited Americans were when we won the Women’s Soccer World Cup in 1999, when frankly most Americans didn’t even follow the sport. I can only imagine the euphoria in India due to victory in a sporting activity which is near the center of national consciousness.

But this gets me to a broader issue: as an Indian American, Aziz Ansari serves as a representative in the minds of his fellow Americans of India. In several of the comedic references I’ve seen to his ethnicity Aziz seems to express curiosity as to the farcical nature that his representation of a billion people sometimes takes on. For example, when Slumdog Millionaire was in the public eye people would apparently discuss it with him constantly (Aziz naturally expressed wonder at what the world must be for like for white people, who are the subject of so many films!).

This proxy effect for 1 billion people can be quite ridiculous. Because of the nature of awareness of other cultures most Americans have only a few sketches of India in their mind. These vary by time and place. Mahatma Gandhi is a constant, but forty years ago many more would know Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Today a more salient image is the Indian call center. The latter is one reason that this weblog has tackled the topic of “outsourcing” over the years, from the 2004 presidential election, down to the present. India has over 1 billion citizens, and the Indian subcontinent has over 1.25 billion human residents. And yet we as brown Americans have to grapple with perceptions based on thin, often evanescent, slices filtered through both high and low culture. I say brown American because I am not an Indian American.

I was born in Bangladesh, but raised in the United States, and am an American citizen. My father was born (just barely) in British India, and then was a citizen of Pakistan, then Bangladesh, and now the United States. My parents have lived as many years in North America as the Indian subcontinent, and far more in the United States of America than in Bangladesh, a nation which had only seen a decade when they left. I lay these details out because I understand that there are strong nationalistic strains in the Indian subcontinent, and I try and tread carefully. As I have explained to both Taz and Reihan Salam I have a weak self-awareness as a Bangaldeshi American because I spent so little time there, and my ancestors have been Bengali far longer than they’ve been Bangaldeshi, which is a new identity. Additionally, I am not very invested in the geopolitical machinations of the subcontinent, and take no great offense at being confused for Indian or Pakistani or Sri Lankan (no one has every mistaken me for Nepalese or Bhutanese!). Though I will explain that I was born in Bangladesh.

As a child I recall that my family socialized with a wide range of people from the Indian subcontinent. They had many friends from Pakistan, others from India (often Bengalis), as well as Bangladeshis. In the 1980s you couldn’t be “picky” about your co-ethnic associations. A shade of brown and a predilection for spicy food would do (there was a time when we socialized a great deal with a set of Syrian Christians from Kerala, for example). Though my parents have some subcontinental political affinities (they supported the Awami League, and I have an uncle who is an active politician in that party) this was never a major issue in the house, and only as an adult have I become more aware of the salience of South Asian politics among Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan Americans. In addition, as an atheist with a strong detachment from religious identity (I am not a “cultural Muslim”) I don’t have much emotional identification with the communal conflicts which occasionally roil the subcontinent. Since on a fundamental level I see religions as interchangeable I sometimes thoughtlessly quip that all Hindus should convert to Islam or all Muslims could convert to Hinduism, in the interests of subcontinental amity.

I introduce this post with a biographical prefaces to explain where “I’m coming from.” In many ways I perceive myself as an “outsider brown,” and have felt so since my own participation on this weblog began in 2004 as a commenter, a friend of Vinod and Manish who was curious as to what this desi identity meant (we had had long running email list discussions in 2003 around this issue). Since then Sepia Mutiny has been a boon for data mining: I have spent much of my life being an involuntary ‘authority’ on ‘India’, but my knowledge is generally limited to books and data sets, not lived experience with the place and the people. One of the issues that any brown American must face is that we are perceived, depending on the context, as a generic whole. Therefore, I have been asked about Hinduism, as if I was a Hindu. I have even been told by strangers how much they admired my Gods! On other occasions the assumption is clear that I am Muslim. Sometimes I am asked to offer my opinion on Indian music. I can’t even offer my opinion on American music! (I am tone deaf) And so on. If only I were a comedian in more than my personal life! So much material.

But part of the issue at work here is the unfortunate tendency of humans to generalize so casually about so many and so much. The Indian subcontinent is after all a subcontinent. It is home to one out of six humans. The physical and cultural variation of the people is riotous. But as brown Americans, and for Indian Americans especially, there is a critical need to grapple with it today. Why? Money.

In the near future India will surpass Britain in terms of gross domestic product. Barring world wide catastrophe it is an iron law of prediction simply based on demographic and economic trends. An awareness of India is not just a matter of spiritual or personal interest, it is demanded by the bottom line. India is a market, an engine of production and consumption. On a plainly utilitarian level I am overjoyed by this. Wealth and prosperity are a positive good, and a reduction of human misery requires no justification.

In the aggregate things are looking up! But aggregates can hide more fine-grained trends which are still disturbing. I am broadly speaking a supporter of neoliberal economic policies, insofar as I think economic growth is the best weapon against poverty. On a subnational level I think over the long term economic uplift through investing in one’s own human capital is more efficacious, and more edifying, than a perpetual reliance on government transfers and fiat.

Consider this article from The New York Times, Business Class Rises in Ashes of Caste System:

Chezi K. Ganesan looks every inch the high-tech entrepreneur, dressed in the Silicon Valley uniform of denim shirt and khaki trousers, slick smartphone close at hand. He splits his time between San Jose and this booming coastal metropolis, running his $6 million a year computer chip-making company.

His family has come a long way. His grandfather was not allowed to enter Hindu temples, or even to stand too close to upper-caste people, and women of his Nadar caste, who stood one notch above untouchables in India’s ancient caste hierarchy, were once forced to bare their breasts before upper caste men as a reminder of their low station.

(parenthetical, there are three Nadars in the Harappa Ancestry Project)

Despite my general preference for economic growth, there is another side to this: the rise in inequality. Inequality in itself is not so problematic if the pie continues to grow so that the lowest in society also benefit. But this is not totally clear in India today. Much of the nation may be shining, but hundreds of millions continue to live in squalor. This is not a brown issue, this is a human issue. One-third of the world’s poor live in India, more than in all of Sub-Saharan Africa:

To compile the index, researchers analysed data from 104 countries with a combined population of 5.2 billion, 78% of the world total. About 1.7 billion – a third – live in multidimensional poverty, they found. This is 400 million more than are estimated by the World Bank to be in “extreme” poverty. The new index is also designed to track variations within countries much better. So while the poverty rate is more than 80% in the rural state of Bihar, it is about 16% in the southern state of Kerala.

My post “A civilization of regions” was a pointer to these sorts of realities. I have spent my life being somewhat uncomfortable about the perception that I represent these billion people in all their diversity, but now as an intellectual matter I’m aghast at the generalizations which elide gross differences in human well being. What has Kerala to do with Bihar? Everything, and nothing, both at the same time.

Most of you know that I have a biological background, and so am particularly interested in vital statistics such as the prevalence of malnutrition amongst children. Though some of the data needs to be interpreted more carefully (e.g., reductions in per capita calorie consumption can reflect a shift from physically taxing rural lifestyles to more leisurely urban ones), much of it is not easily dismissed. Some estimates suggest there are 500,000 cretins in India, an iodine deficiency induced form of mental retardation. This is probably the tip of the iceberg, insofar as retardation is a high threshold in terms of diagnostic measures.

A new paper in PLoS Medicine makes explicit the lack of connection between development and nutritional gains, Is Economic Growth Associated with Reduction in Child Undernutrition in India?:

We failed to find consistent evidence that economic growth leads to reduction in childhood undernutrition in India. Direct investments in appropriate health interventions may be necessary to reduce childhood undernutrition in India.

The paper is open access, so you can try and make sense of the statistical models yourself. I would like to see more district-level analyses, but the general gist jumps out at you when you look at state-level statistics. To the left is a table which reports the 2005 proportion of children underweight by Indian state.

Why am I inundating you with this data? Going back to Aziz Ansari’s insight: as brown Americans we implicitly represent and interpret what is brown for our fellow Americans. But, there is an unfortunate tendency of people conflating the particular with the general, of “speaking of how things are done in South Asia/India, when what they are really talking about is how things are done in their grandparents house.” This is a broader problem of cognitive bias. I had long been under the misimpression that mustamakkara, Finnish blood sausage, was a national dish. It turns out that in reality this is a delicacy of particular note in the Tampere area (some Finns who were from the Helsinki region wanted to clear this issue up strenuously!). This is orders of magnitude more problematic under the rubric of “Indian food.” Like “Chinese food” this is a jumbled construct, which in Diasporic contexts is transmuted and selectively presented. Personally, I don’t know anything about “Indian food,” but I do know a great deal about Bengali food (and I hope to get to know more about South Indian food, but that’s just me!).

As brown Americans we are not representative samples of the Indian subcontinent. My family in Bangladesh has problems with morbid obesity among some of their younger members. This is not a typical problem in Bangladesh. The face of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is becoming brown, but a significant minority of Indian citizens remain illiterate. Despite highlighting the malnutrition above, affluent Indians and Diasporic brown folk are hit very hard by diseases of nutritional excess. Around 10 percent of Indians are Dalits, but in my reading the comments of this weblog since 2004 only one or two individuals of this background have ever admitted this origin on these boards (also look at the backgrounds of Harappa Ancestry Project contributors).

The point? It is hard work speaking accurately, precisely, and contextually, about a region of the world where one out of six humans reside. And yet because of my physical appearance and cultural background I am often asked by friends in academia who take a deep interest in international affairs about social and political issues pertaining to South Asia. So I do what I always do when faced with ignorance: I read, I analyze. On a more personal note interacting with individuals on this weblog over the past seven years has opened for me a window onto the perspectives of many people who have different backgrounds from my own, who had had to represent brown just as I had, but began from very different positions. But, interacting with individuals on this weblog has also highlighted the narrowness and selection biasing of the American brown experience. A disproportionate number of us are clearly the children of professionals or academic brats. This fact is brought home forcefully by the minority who speak up about coming from working or lower class backgrounds, for whom college was an option which they had to fight for, and graduate school was not an expectation.

We can’t extract ourselves from our subjective experiences. But we can respect each other on a personal level. On a broader scale we need to be cognizant about the disproportionate element of privilege which we experience. The very fact that you are reading this on the internet indicates some level of privilege! (even if you are reading in a library because you don’t have a computer or internet access, you must live in a nation which has the resources to subsidize such services) As a political conservative I am not much of a fan of the way terms like “privilege” are used in contemporary “discourse.” Often they seem like power plays in the game of rhetoric, cudgels to silence and intimidate. But, in the broad scope of human development we are the privileged brown, those for whom the paunch tolls. This is concrete and real.

India will continue to shine. The Indian chapter of Joel Kotkin’s Tribes: How Race, Religion and Identity Determine Success in the New Global Economy will become even more relevant, as the Diaspora acts in a complementary fashion to energize the flows of capital, labor, and services, which characterize the global economy which India is becoming a major engine of. But there are those being left behind. To a large extent the world’s poor are the brown poor. Being brown does not, I believe, give them more of a claim to our compassion and consideration than being black, white, or yellow, would. But, I do think it adds an element of emotional connection when one considers the old maxim, “there but for the grace of God, go I.”

I am at the end of the day a person of data, not impressions. But data is slave of the passions. In my complacency and coddled Western existence I do attempt periodically to do a “reality check,” and reflect on the misery which my distant relations no doubt experience as their daily experience. Economic development will continue apace. Brown faces will continue to be prominent in Silicon Valley, and the economic “competition” from India will continue to be part of the policy discussion in this country. But we need to always keep in mind that the reality is that today most brown folk continue to live in grinding Malthusian poverty. That is what being brown is all about in the most coarse reading. There is no shame in this truth excepting our own neglect of its consequences for human flourishing.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

112 thoughts on “A nuanced brown place in the world

  1. Advaita is fundamentally different. God is not something external to be prayed to, sacrificed to, ritually worshipped. It is your own true identity, the Truth within you, deeper than your mind.

    marcus borg’s panentheism is basically the same (i know he works hard to distinguish his christian panentheism from philosophical hinduism, but it’s got the same flavor and i think he distinguishes because his audience would not be comfortable with blurring the lines between christianity and non-christianity). also a lot of the sufis and christian mystics are kind of the same (ergo, some sufi muslims had problems with islamic authorities). i find it all equally gibberishy of course.

  2. I have been to Europe and have discovered that Europeans are far more knowledgeable when it comes to understanding the not insignificant differences between South Asian countries. They are well aware of the difference between India and Sri Lanka. Apart from the Europeans, people of the Middle East obviously are also capable of distinguising between South Asian nations. I’m sorry to say but it is true that Americans are infamous for their ignorance and self-absorbedness.

    Instead of going into the usual “ignorant Americans” tirade that is so common amongst foreigners, stop to think of the reasons why. Razib has already listed some good ones but I wanted to throw in what I think is the main reason: The USA/Canada are extremely multi-ethnic compared to most European nations which are more homogeneous. For example in Sweden they’ve had a lot of S.Asian immigrants flooding in the past few decades, but like 95% of the population there is ethnically Swedish, so the distinctions between the Pakis/Indians/Swedes become very apparent and obvious. OTOH in America, which is extremely ethnically diverse, differences between groups like Pakis/Indians become so minor compared to more distinct differences between broader ethnic groups (E.g South Asians VS. Hispanics).

    In other words, the average American only gives a shit about another country when they’re either at war with that country, or when they are facing the threat of being dethroned from their long held position of world superpower.

    As opposed to the average non-American, who is so intellectually superior and intrinsically curious about American cultural, social, economic and political issues, right? Get real. The reality is that the average non-American only gives a shit about America because it wields enough economic/political power to directly effect their country and people everyone must look out for their own self-interests to survive. If China is the dominant world power 300 years from now, you can bet that everyone will know a helluva lot about China, but people there wouldn’t know/care nearly as much about say, Senegal, because they’re not effected by it.

    For example, I bet the only thing a regular American Joe thinks when you say CHINA is: Damn, those people are taking American jobs! and maybe also “I love me some Chop Suey”

    I mean you’re gonna be condescending, at least try to make it funny ;)

    Most of these attempts to integrate Jesus into the Hindu frame just seem weak to me. The teachings don’t really add anything to the Hindu canon. There is really no reason for a Hindu to make such a big deal out of Jesus except as a way to try to make Hinduism more relatable to Christians.

    I agree with this 100%

    I fail to understand why Desis identify so strongly with cricket.Cricket is a colonial English sport. Tell any Chinese, Russian or American to play cricket and they will cringe.

    Hah true, but you could argue that baseball is related to cricket and maybe American fondness for baseball has something to do with our colonial past? All countries are effected culturally by colonization, even centuries after independence…

  3. , but like 95% of the population there is ethnically Swedish, so the distinctions between the Pakis/Indians/Swedes become very apparent and obvious.

    in the 80-90% interval now. 85% in the last census (2005). though a substantial proportion of the 15% residual are other nordics.

    i think one issue with some european nations is that they’re small. so they have to be more aware of the wider world, their own neighborhood isn’t enough to wander in.

  4. in the 80-90% interval now. 85% in the last census (2005). though a substantial proportion of the 15% residual are other nordics.

    Thanks : ) Sweden seemed way more homogeneous to me when I visited Malmo (a large city there) in 2007. I think it’s because a substantial amount of immigrants settled in and around Stockholm. I got quite a few stares in Malmo, I look very different from the average Swede lol.

  5. Sweden seemed way more homogeneous to me when I visited Malmo (a large city there) in 2007. I think it’s because a substantial amount of immigrants settled in and around Stockholm. I got quite a few stares in Malmo, I look very different from the average Swede lol.

    i think one issue is that in some european nations there’s extreme concentration of colored people in large cities. many less than intelligent americans get confused as to how white europe still is because they only touchdown in the large cities. apparently i was stared at the supermarket in the vammala in finland. this did not happen in tampere where there a smattering of southeast asians, brownz, and somalis.

    • now that i think about it, segregation is an issue in the USA. i had a conversation a few years ago with a microsoft engineer in seattle who refused to believe that the USA was ~2/3rd non-hispanic white. i told him he was wrong and to look it up on his iphone. dude was not happy to be wrong.

  6. Razib, I’ve been meaning to ask you and I suppose this is the best thread out of any to address my question but what are your predictions for the future(namely economic) of India, say within the next 20 years? Do you think there is an ever increasing number of people living modern first world lives or would you conjecture that many of them immigrate? Some articles I have read seem to state that only about 4-5% of India’s college educated population lives outside of the country. Do you think there could be a rise in gated communities/cities/towns where the denizens live comfortable, modern lives while others not so lucky cannot share in this prosperity? That seems to be the trajectory that Brazil has been on.

  7. Razib, I’ve been meaning to ask you and I suppose this is the best thread out of any to address my question but what are your predictions for the future(namely economic) of India, say within the next 20 years? Do you think there is an ever increasing number of people living modern first world lives or would you conjecture that many of them immigrate? Some articles I have read seem to state that only about 4-5% of India’s college educated population lives outside of the country. Do you think there could be a rise in gated communities/cities/towns where the denizens live comfortable, modern lives while others not so lucky cannot share in this prosperity? That seems to be the trajectory that Brazil has been on.

    if i had to bet i think india will be brazil on steroids, and not in a good way. yes, brazil is unequal, but it still has relative land surplus, and a lot of internal migration. india is more constrained in terms of possibilities for less skilled individuals, though if it ever develops a manufacturing sector there’s possibilities. i really hope i’m wrong. but i’d be willing to bet $500 that i’m not. if someone wants to make a contract bet based on particular gini coefficients and/or distributions of income, i’m game. you might think i’m strange to make a bet where i hope i lose, but that’s the kind of thing i like doing. you win either way :-)

    • That’s interesting, especially considering that India has a rather low gini coefficient as of now. Also, India’s diversity of castes, ethnic groups, and microraces isn’t, at least, phenotypically even nearly as distinct as the Brazilian population. Do you really suppose there is a wide enough variability in India’s demography to lead to a high gini coefficient?

  8. Another thing I wanted to mention was that I believe the estimated population of the Indian subcontinent is roughly 1.6 billion and not 1.25 billion(note this only includes the core countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldvies and does not include Afghanistan or Iran).

  9. Do you really suppose there is a wide enough variability in India’s demography to lead to a high gini coefficient?

    what i assume might happen is that the top 10-20% might rise a lot, while everyone else doesn’t move that much.

    Another thing I wanted to mention was that I believe the estimated population of the Indian subcontinent is roughly 1.6 billion and not 1.25 billion

    lol. i was going off year 2000 numbers in my head! not a very good practice in 2011. you are correct. i’ll make sure i’ll update in the future. thanks.

  10. also, another thing to mention is that much of south india is sub-replacement in population growth. the “demographic dividend” is concentrated in UP and bihar. i don’t think that’s a real dividend….

    • Is it not much of a dividend because Bihar is one of the poorest states in India? Also I think I might just not be very informed of economics but once India’s GDP is larger than the UK’s what are some of the consequences of that? Does it actually mean that there are more than 60 million Indians with a standard of living approximate to that of the UK’s? I know that’s somewhat of a ‘naive’ question to ask since it seems more obvious that what it would mean is that the 1.2 billion Indians together finally produce at a level superior to the UK’s 60 million population. Wouldn’t that still signify that the UK is a bigger player in the world than India since the vast majority of India’s population will still be impoverished and tied to agricultural work? I would appreciate it if you could shed some light on this for me.Thanks.

  11. Razib, just wanted to comment again, with regards to your point about poverty; I remember watching the Hindi movie PEEPLI LIVE and it highlighted this exact poverty you are referring to in Northern India. It left me with a deep feeling of sorrow and anger at the injustice being carried out by the corrupt and inefficient government policies. I’m Maharashtrian and was raised in Pune for the first few years of my childhood, and do still regularly visit. Despite this, I had never ever seen anything like what I saw in the movie; while there were homeless and poor people in my city, I never saw such hopelessness and destitution which is a daily reality for millions of farmers. I guess when you see poor people intermingled with thousands of others who are well-off in the city there’s not as numbing. And obviously, income levels are higher in the cities.

    In some of these States, it’s just insidious, a vicious and never ending cycle for generations to come. So I agree, it’s important for us, as “coddled Westerners” to remember how privileged we are. However, even if I was living in India, it would naturally be a traditional middle class lifestyle and I wouldn’t think about my privileged place in society relative to millions because I simply would not be exposed to that kind of poverty and helplessness. So even for Indians in India, it’s hard to say what being “Indian” is like.

    Even in India, I would be just as coddled as I am here, if not more. My father’s brother (my Kaka) used to live in a one bedroom household when my family left India just 10 years ago. Today, his house in India is bigger than ours here in Canada , he makes much more money than us, and goes on international vacations every year. He has taken his family on a cross Europe trip. When I went to visit them, both my cousins, aged 12 and 10, each had laptops of their own, and iPod touches. They have a 24/7 chauffeur… and I could go on, but I’ll stop. I’m sure you’re familiar with this picture. Meanwhile, we were taught the value of struggle since we experienced hardship and relative poverty starting out in this completely foreign country, so were never spoiled.

    My point is, Razib, we immigrants should be thankful that we are so far away and can objectively examine the picture, we are more aware of the poverty that still is so widespread in the subcontinent if only because of Western media, and the charity culture. I know I would care less about poverty if I lived in India, that’s just the middle class mentality. We immigrants are more, not less aware of it despite the greater distance. Things are more in focus for us. Going forward, these immigrants are going to be contributing to NGOs, helping raise awareness and hopefully making a difference in eradicating poverty. Perhaps you’ve heard of the group called IndiCorps, it’s a great initiative and I think it’s a step in the right direction for immigrants.

    Anyway, I hope I didn’t misconstrue what you were trying to get across :S Or did I just reiterate your point lol…I hope not.

  12. My point is, Razib, we immigrants should be thankful that we are so far away and can objectively examine the picture, we are more aware of the poverty that still is so widespread in the subcontinent if only because of Western media, and the charity culture.

    i wonder about the objectively part. the abject servility which my relations in bangladesh expect from the “lower orders” as the norm is often shocking to me on a visceral level. my relatives are not bad people, they are simply embedded in a system which is rigged in a particular way where social mobility can be difficult, though not impossible. after living for 30 years in the united states my parents are no longer comfortable with the idea of servants as they once had been.

  13. Is it not much of a dividend because Bihar is one of the poorest states in India?

    poverty is less important than basal human capital. look at bihar’s literacy rate. very low. bihar has pakistan’s fertility, and even lower human development indices.

    Wouldn’t that still signify that the UK is a bigger player in the world than India since the vast majority of India’s population will still be impoverished and tied to agricultural work?

    depends. your point about the nature of the workforce may be significant. natures with larger aggregate GDPs may be less effective in their ability to mobilize their production, especially if a lot of it is in subsistence agriculture. see azar gat’s war in human civilization. all that being said, aggregate GDP differences are important beyond a certain point, not per capita differences. which is the bigger player in the world, south korea or china? china is already arguably a bigger player than japan, and its GDP only recently got bigger than japan’s, and its per capita is far lower (though there are social differences too).

    • That makes sense. Isn’t the abysmal literacy rate and low human development indices of Bihar an effect of the poverty(or at least correlated to it)? Are you insinuating that the general ability of the bihari population is intrinsically lower than other states in India? Note that I am not trying to put words into your mouth but am just generally curious.

      I read a recent article where Lee Kuan Yew of singapore fame said in one of his speeches that he believes India will matter more than the whole of ASEAN. Do you agree with his prediction? I hesitate to be treading onto un-PC territory but do you think that there is a wide variation in the genetic capital of Indians based on caste, ethnicity,etc. as has been surmised in various blogs? I apologize if this last question goes against the rules of what sort of topics can be discussed on SM.

  14. Are you insinuating that the general ability of the bihari population is intrinsically lower than other states in India?

    no.

    I read a recent article where Lee Kuan Yew of singapore fame said in one of his speeches that he believes India will matter more than the whole of ASEAN. Do you agree with his prediction?

    probably. numbers.

    I hesitate to be treading onto un-PC territory but do you think that there is a wide variation in the genetic capital of Indians based on caste, ethnicity,etc. as has been surmised in various blogs?

    i think this is not a fruitful discussion to have in this space. i do talk a fair amount about genetics at brownpundits.com, and some of my co-bloggers are more ethnographically versed than i am. i talk more generally about genetics at my discover magazine site, but not much about brown stuff. i think in the future this sort of topic will have to be tackled intelligently (right now it is mostly ethnocentric cheerleading). but it is interesting to note that the states with the highest HDI in india tend to be on the geographic margins, and genetically the most different:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_states_and_territories_by_Human_Development_Index

    (also note the gap across the pakistan-indian border)

    currently the low hanging fruit is in regards to the genetic structure of south asians. you should check out harappa ancestry project for that.

    • currently the low hanging fruit is in regards to the genetic structure of south asians. you should check out harappa ancestry project for that.

      So in terms of pure-science-is-also-interesting, I’d like more research on this area as well. But in terms of what that means for the general public, sociology, etc. I’m not quite sure where that would get us. I may be mistaken, but the genetic heritage thing seems to be driven primarily by ethnocentric motives, and a lot of Aryan Invasion Theory rhetoric, which I’m wary of. What would we get out of this?

  15. I may be mistaken, but the genetic heritage thing seems to be driven primarily by ethnocentric motives, and a lot of Aryan Invasion Theory rhetoric, which I’m wary of. What would we get out of this?

    no one cares about the aryan invasion theory outside of india except for white supremacists (more accurately, no one knows what that even means and how much it matters to indians aside from white supremacists, who care for their own reasons).

    i’m just curious about my ancestry, and found some novel things (both my parents have elevated southeast asian ancestry, which didn’t surprise me that much, but they both had almost the same %). i’m HP002, and my parents are HP022 and HP023. the main practical reason this is important is biomedical research. without a good understanding of population structure they’ll just throw all south asians into one aggregated pool for analysis. but ideally you want to control for population variation. to control for that, you need to know about population variation to get a grip on that. there is some evidence from britain that it is useful to partition bangladeshis and pakistanis, for example, into two pools for analysis.

    harappa has already elucidated some interesting patterns about caste/regional variance. for example, there doesn’t seem to be much variation of ancestral components by caste in punjab. in the rest of india, there does. i don’t know what that means, but someone with a better grasp of history and ethnography might.

    • harappa has already elucidated some interesting patterns about caste/regional variance… i don’t know what that means, but someone with a better grasp of history and ethnography might.

      I am totally on board with the biomedical research aspects (I tend to like things that give me work) but what is the ethnography for? that’s what i don’t get – why go delving into the differences between communities while simultaneously asking them to treat each other equally?

      Also, in that one genetics class I took once I seem to remember that within-population variation is much greater than between-population variation for some species in general. how does that affect popular conceptions of the data that projects like the harappan ancestry project are finding out?

      In response to al_beruni, YES! there are tons of Indian NGOs doing great work in India! One of them (some may object to the ‘religious’ origins of this particular one, but they’re UN-affiliated and I know they’ve done really great work) is http://www.embracingtheworld.org/

  16. i have a long record of comments on religion on the internet, so you should know i don’t consider that the intellectual aspect of religion particularly important. it is just important for smart people who are religious, so i take an interest in it to speak intelligently about it. but, re: reema’s comments, i think it is in the intellectual aspects where religions really differ in any substantive fashion.

    This is analogous to making conclusions about the scientific consensus on an issue by interviewing random people on the street rather than experts in the field.

  17. Isn’t the abysmal literacy rate and low human development indices of Bihar an effect of the poverty(or at least correlated to it)?

    It’s an excuse people like to make, but I don’t buy it. Poverty is a consequence of illiteracy and poor health, not the other way around. There is so much aid money and government funding to improve literacy and basic health floating around out there that being poor isn’t really the impediment to accessing it. The problem is the lack of dedicated leadership that’s committed to fixing these problems on a state scale rather than hoarding as many resources as they can to redistribute through their patronage networks.

  18. Reema

    <

    blockquote> My point is, Razib, we immigrants should be thankful that we are so far away and can objectively examine the picture, we are more aware of the poverty that still is so widespread in the subcontinent if only because of Western media, and the charity culture.

    Hmmm,,…no offense, this soooo laughable and almost a stereotype of the self-congratulatory north american (“we become excpetional as soon as we become US citizens”).

    Please take the time to read the indian newspapers and learn about INDIAN ngos. It sounds like you have some relatives who couldnt care less (who doesnt?) but the picture in india is quite nuanced (:- and varied. Specifically, there are literally 100,000s who work on many different initiatives and with some quite wonderful success stories, both at the community and individual level.

  19. Well, Ponni, I stand corrected. Sorry that happened to you.

    The second paragraph read: “In the “supposed” caste scale, I’m just above Dalit castes.. As a first gen. degree holder. my parents stopped with high school education because of responsibilities, I don’t necessarily fall in the category of elites. I grew up till 6th grade along with my siblings and parents in a 200 sq.ft dingy rented apartment.” Was that a response to the comment I made that the obcs are in a position to be the elite?

  20. This is analogous to making conclusions about the scientific consensus on an issue by interviewing random people on the street rather than experts in the field.

    no it’s not. science is real. religion is made up. yes, i know religious people think they’re studying something real, so theologians are doing real work. i don’t think they are, they’re doing fake work with all the intellectual heft of a witch-doctor reading goat entrails. nevertheless, some people take these people seriously, so i engage with the witch-doctors (i try and read a little systematic theology ever year cuz they always update their made up stuff). by analogy, many mormons think the book of mormon is a work of great literature. really it’s not. i’ve read it. but if you interact with mormons a lot (i used to) it is sometimes useful to know something about their culture, which entails the book of mormon.

    I am totally on board with the biomedical research aspects (I tend to like things that give me work) but what is the ethnography for? that’s what i don’t get - why go delving into the differences between communities while simultaneously asking them to treat each other equally?

    the two have nothing to do with each other. history is interesting. and this sort of stuff seems to be difficult to do in india for political reasons. so it will be done in the diaspora. i don’t see how being different has anything to do with treating each other equally. i understand people conflate the issue, but my own preference is that we work more on decoupling the is-ought fallacy from the public mind. in any case, people make plenty of assertions about genetics as it is. i’m generally of the inclination they should be grounded in reality (we can, for example, test whether nasranis are really descended from jews or brahmins pretty easily; it already seems unlikely that vishwakarma’s are degraded brahmins based on genetic dissimilarity).

    Also, in that one genetics class I took once I seem to remember that within-population variation is much greater than between-population variation for some species in general. how does that affect popular conceptions of the data that projects like the harappan ancestry project are finding out?

    still true between humans. but the differences across population are correlated across clusters of genes, so the structure falls out trivially. here’s an analogy. an individual has

    • dark hair
    • straight hair
    • is short
    • has light brown skin
    • has an epicanthic fold (“asian eyelid”)

    you can narrow down the population by a cluster of traits. but most of these traits are not distinctive to one population, most of the variation is within populations. even the “asian eyelid” is found among many southern african poulations. same with genes. it’s the joint frequencies which are informative.

  21. no it’s not. science is real. religion is made up.

    Ignorant statements like this is precisely why people are telling you to take the intellectual aspects of religious discourse seriously. Completely ignoring the academic and philosophical aspects behind religions in order to assert that religion is made up is just question-begging. Even if “science” is based on fact, the average shmoe’s understanding of it is not. It’s based on vague half-remembered assertions and woefully misunderstood concepts from some PBS special they saw a month ago. Trying to draw conclusions about what a scientific consensus on a topic is based on what those guys say is going to give you an wrong notion of where the science is. If you characterize a religion based solely on the people you consider to be representative of it rather than the people who actually know about it, then you’re not really talking about the religion. We’ll call it “straw-ligion” instead.

    Religious ideas aren’t any more “made up” than any metaphysical concept. That sort of hard-line materialism (/ positivism) is merely an unsubstantiated axiom you’re working from, not really a statement of fact.

  22. Completely ignoring the academic and philosophical aspects behind religions in order to assert that religion is made up is just question-begging.

    hey, do you plan on just ignoring the reality of my comments? i don’t ignore the academic and philosophical aspects of religion. i mentioned in the comments above i actually read systematic theology. i know far more theology than most of the people who actually notionally believe all that stuff.

    your analogy between science and religion is false, because i don’t view religion as anything more than a man-made phenomenon, while science is an attempt to model the objective world. you may believe that religion is real and corresponds to something real. that’s fine, your superstition is your own business, and i have zero interest in convincing you or anyone else of my beliefs. i’m not an evangelical atheist. my axioms are what they are.

    in any case, don’t respond to my comment. i will delete your follow ups. you purposely ignored the substance of my above comment and repackaged it to fit your argument. that offends me. i do engage with religious specialists. i just think they’re not dealing with anything more substantial then their own imagination, and think that religion is most fruitfully studied as a natural phenomenon on the level of mass psychology and sociology than theology, philosophy, etc.

    • think that religion is most fruitfully studied as a natural phenomenon on the level of mass psychology and sociology than theology, philosophy, etc.

      I think we can establish that religion is a major force in the world right now (whether we believe or not) so I think we ought to think before making blanket statements. Religion may be based on something unfalsifiable (the existence of God) but it’s social, cultural, and psychological components are not man-made anymore than Maxwell’s Laws. It just depends on your frame of reference.

      I think what Yoga Fire and others may be asking for is more of your insightful comments on the science and less of your (to some) relatively hurtful comments on their religious beliefs. It’s not useful to simultaneously call someone a moron for believing a particular opinion and yet ask him to validate some hypothesis of yours. If you think they are so stupid (for believing in religion) why does it matter whether they accept your theories or not? Surely it would carry more weight if someone you find intelligent agreed with you.

      Sensing some dissonance here, that’s all. Please continue to update the harappan project status, etc. It’s refreshing to see someone post graphs on a site full of feelings… ;-)

  23. bangladeshi are coming to india and eating our food…2 crore bangladeshi in india…

  24. Religion may be based on something unfalsifiable (the existence of God) but it’s social, cultural, and psychological components are not man-made anymore than Maxwell’s Laws.

    huh? you just cited human sciences, which are by definition man-made! that’s the fundamental problem with social sciences which unfortunately makes physics envy a major problem. the laws of physics are fruitful to model as invariant (even if in some cases they may not be), but the laws of human action may vary over time and context, making generality difficult.

    I think what Yoga Fire and others may be asking for is more of your insightful comments on the science and less of your (to some) relatively hurtful comments on their religious beliefs. It’s not useful to simultaneously call someone a moron for believing a particular opinion and yet ask him to validate some hypothesis of yours. If you think they are so stupid (for believing in religion) why does it matter whether they accept your theories or not? Surely it would carry more weight if someone you find intelligent agreed with you.

    i don’t really get what you’re trying to say after the first sentence, insofar as its unclear to me.

    yes, i’m trying to be more polite as i’m a front-page poster here, and the norms of south asian society are such that some minimal level of respect for religious feelings is necessary. OTOH, i still think it’s a contested issue whether those norms are necessary for american south asians, so i try and contest it now and then by pushing the envelope. i don’t think most religious people are morons, and i think it is probably true that most intelligent people in the world are religious. smart people can believe false things. in fact i believe plenty of false things right now, going by induction (i know i believed in false things in the past).

    i personally have no use for religion, and think it’s silly. it’s a major issue in this discourse that my genuine beliefs, who i am by identity, is offensive to many people. OTOH, the beliefs of others (what i term superstition) is necessarily accorded a level of “respect” due to force of numbers. that’s just the reality, and to some extent i accept it.

    my annoyance with yoga fire had nothing to with any of that. it had to do with the fact that he misread my comment, either purposely or through laziness. i’m investing a fair amount of time in these comment threads. SM is not my only responsibility. if i am investing time, i demand you actually disagree with the substance of what i say, not what would be convenient for your argument. i waste my time and read theology because take people it seriously. he framed his comment as if i didn’t read it at all.

    if i’m making a good faith effort to engage commenters, agree or disagree, on the substance of what they say, then the inverse is necessary, not preferred.

    • I just wanted to know why you set such stock in YogaFire’s assent to your opinion. (hypothetically) If he is deluded into believing in religion, presumably his agreement is worthless to you since it doesn’t add to the credence of your argument?

      i personally have no use for religion, and think it’s silly. It’s comments like these that bug those posters – they read this and the knee-jerk reaction is, “who are you to call me silly?” the norms of south asian society are such that some minimal level of respect for religious feelings is necessary. Yes, although most of us are American, I think we approach this blog in a south-asian frame of mind, so politeness becomes even more important. SM is not my only responsibility. yeah dude. totally procrastinating on my senior thesis here :-) i waste my time and read theology because take people it seriously. honestly, even i haven’t read adi shankara’s commentaries, and I’m actually a smarta brahmin who follows advaita philosophy. i’m perfectly willing to accept your declaration that you are atheist, materialist, humanist, whatever, but you may want to consider that advertising such bedtime reading makes readers think, “methinks the lady doth protest too much” :-)

  25. I just wanted to know why you set such stock in YogaFire’s assent to your opinion. (hypothetically) If he is deluded into believing in religion, presumably his agreement is worthless to you since it doesn’t add to the credence of your argument?

    you misunderstand. i don’t care about his opinion about my opinion, i got pissed because i felt he was restating me for purposes of his argument. i’ve been running weblogs for 9 years now (seriously). the best way to let comments get out of control is to allow people to para/rephrase other people, because you know they’re going para/rephrase them in a distorting manner to forward their own thesis. i don’t care to convince anyone, but i am data-curious. allowing that sort of distortion muddies the signal.

    but you may want to consider that advertising such bedtime reading makes readers think, “methinks the lady doth protest too much” :-)

    yeah, sure, i get this from a lot of people. don’t know what i can say about that. i can’t believe in every random superstition in the world though. but i have to explain to people that i’m not just ignorant of their silly beliefs. when you live in a world where that stuff is normative, you have to know something about it if you want to talk about it (that’s my philosophy, not most peoples). i read left-wing stuff too, and i’m right-wing.

  26. gotcha.

    when you live in a world where that stuff is normative, you have to know something about it if you want to talk about it wish more right-wingers would think this way. it would make life less awkward for the rest of us conservative people.

  27. I somewhat agree with atomicfunk07. Razib, How come every time you make a blog post referencing religion or if the subject is ever even tangentially brought up in the discussions, you always have to bring attention to how you are an atheist and think religion is silly? That’s a fine point of view but why couldn’t you make your relevant arguments without stating over and over again that you areligious? I’m certain that in more than a few cases your irreligiosity is relevant but I have often wondered in others why you have to reference it and then be so adamant in your rejection of religion?

  28. I’m certain that in more than a few cases your irreligiosity is relevant but I have often wondered in others why you have to reference it and then be so adamant in your rejection of religion?

    because of my name people have regularly assumed that i’m muslim here, because for south asians names give a good clue. i’ve commented here since 2004, and that’s why i changed my name to “razib_the_atheist.” make sense? but thanks for the editorial advice!

  29. time for a last name change? i recently came across an awesome one: “Treasurywala”

  30. Why are Bangladeshis more “Hindu” than Pakistanis despite Islam being the predominant religion in both nations? In pictures of Bangladesh, I’ve see women wearing saris and people celebrating Holi. Also, Bangladesh is not the Islamic terrorist sanctuary that is Pakistan. Why is there less extremism? Any major reasons behind this?

  31. Why are Bangladeshis more “Hindu” than Pakistanis despite Islam being the predominant religion in both nations? In pictures of Bangladesh, I’ve see women wearing saris and people celebrating Holi. Also, Bangladesh is not the Islamic terrorist sanctuary that is Pakistan. Why is there less extremism? Any major reasons behind this?

    again, not to flog another blog…but omar and zach at brown pundits discuss this issue incessantly (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). a major issue which distinguishes bangladesh and pakistan today is that bangladesh is a conventional nation-state in the 19th century european model, while pakistan is not. bangladesh is a nation where 90% of the population consists of bengali-speaking sunni muslims. there isn’t a major national debate about its identity, it’s self-evident so it can be implicit. in contrast, pakistan has always been riven by issues of ethnicity, religious faction (sunni vs. shia; the bhutto’s are a shia family, though benazir’s paternal grandmother was born a hindu, and her mother was a kurd), and class (its feudal aristocracy has a more formal and prominent role in national life than any equivalent in bangladesh). pakistan’s national ideology is predicated upon it being a home for india’s muslims. therefore, there’s been an incessant emphasis on the islamic nature of the society, to the point where indian/south asian influences are symbolically expurgated (though concretely they remain prominent; pakistanis remain brown folk). bangladesh was created as a nation for bengalis, albeit implicitly bengali muslims.

    additionally, there may be historical contingency at work, insofar as the awami league and the revolutionary generation was steeped in a pan-religious secularism which dampens any claim by fundamentalists that they are authentic nationalists. many muslim fundamentalists in east pakistan supported the pakistani army against the bengali rebels. there is still suspicion about some of them because of this. it is simply laughable on the face of it to say that bangladesh was founded an islamic nation, the national anthem was written by a hindu. in contrast, there is a lot of contestation about the nature of pakistan, whether it is fundamentally a muslim state, or a nation of muslims.

    finally, this is not to say that bangladeshis are not prejudiced as a whole against their hindu minority. sometimes, especially during times of BNP rule, this leads to violence. to a great extent hindus are marginalized by discrimination on a day to day level. but there isn’t, to my knowledge, a strong vehemence and organized anger about the issue. one good thing about bangladesh being a poor and geopolitically marginal nation is that it doesn’t have the baggage of all the grievances which pakistan has due to the reality of it being a second-tier nation in south asia, in india’s shadow.

  32. Also, Bangladesh is not the Islamic terrorist sanctuary that is Pakistan. Why is there less extremism? Any major reasons behind this?

    I would say geography makes a major difference, although it is far from being the only reason. Pakistan borders the Middle East which is the root of Islamic terrorism; it is right next to Afghanistan and there is plenty of Taliban activity on the Western Pakistani border from what I’ve read. Bangladesh benefits from its location near East Asia.

    There are also a lot of economic, political, and ethnic reasons etc…I’ll wait for Razib to go into that cause I’m not that well-read to be blunt haha

  33. Why are Bangladeshis more “Hindu” than Pakistanis despite Islam being the predominant religion in both nations?

    oh, and of course, there’s the reality that to a great extent bengali high culture has been the production of hindus, and bangladeshis or whatever reason refuse to alienate themselves from their bengali identity (i think that in pakistan this has happened to some extent insofar as punjabi identity is marginalized for the same of an urdu-speaking mughali one). bengali vernacular literature was patronized heavily by afghans before the mughal conquest, after that the elite muslim culture of bengal was in urdu. the elite culture of bengal at the time of the british was that of bengali hindus. the emergence of a bengal-speaking self-consciously bengali muslim middle class is more of a function of the 19th century. my grandfather was born in 1896, and for much of his life most of his colleagues as a medical doctor were hindus, because there just weren’t many bengali muslim professionals. because of the fact that there’s a vibrant hindu bengali culture in india bangladeshi bengalis can’t “claim” bengali culture as just theirs and islamicize it around the edges explicitly, so generally what happens is a “code shift” has people mix & match their bengali and islamic identity depending on context. the main exceptions i’ve seen to this (going on visits from pakistan and family members) are secular leftists alienated from religion, who become very pro-bengali, and often hinduphilic (a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taslima_Nasrin”>taslima nasrin is the best example of this), and muslim fundamentalists influenced by foreign influences who start to strip away cultural characteristics which are bengali (the dhak/nickname for example).

  34. also, to be fair, bangladesh has given sanctuary to terrorists who make use of the porous border with india. it’s a matter of quantity though. many bangladeshis are nationalistic, and suspicious of india’s power, but their ideal is probably to be left alone. pakistan has all the geopolitical “overhead.” one shouldn’t make too much of it, but bangladesh has a pro-india and anti-india political party system of the center-left and center-right. obviously there’s no “pro-india” party in pakistan, partly because pakistan foolishly perceives itself to be india’s peer. i recently read of a switch by china from using pakistan to bangladesh for a road to an indian ocean port. the facilities in pakistani were being attacked by baloch nationalists. so china just switched their focus to the port of chittagong. all bangladeshis are excited about that from what i can tell.

  35. “Several groups of Brahmins (high caste, right?) that work as temple pundits have petitioned the Indian government to be added as ‘scheduled castes’ because they are so poor they need government assistance but because they are ‘high-caste’ they do not qualify.”

    Have you ever seen a temple pundit who didn’t have a fat belly? In India the really poor, who are numerous, are not fat; far from it.

    India lacks a culture of charity and compassion, relative to other cultures that feel compelled to help those in need. The Sikhs feed the needy for free in their temples, the Muslims have zakat or charity as a pillar of their religion, the Christians are famous for charitable works, the Buddhists practice compassion as integral to their faith. Where is the counterpart in India’s majority religion?

    • “Have you ever seen a temple pundit who didn’t have a fat belly? ” Plenty and other there are literally millions of poor secular Brahmins…get your definitions from something more than a dictionary.

      Time for a handle change “Sathya”

    • Sathya, I couldn’t agree with you more. The Hindus have much less sense of charitable-givings when compared to the other religions seen in the Subcontinent. Even though India is about 30% better off than Pakistan when measured in PPP/capita, the multi-factorial poverty index of India is much higher than that of Pakistan. India has much more people living on $1.25 or less a day as well as a higher index.

      http://www.economist.com/node/16693283

      • boston_mahesh wrote:

        Sathya, I couldn’t agree with you more. The Hindus have much less sense of charitable-givings when compared to the other religions seen in the Subcontinent.

        Hey boston_mahesh, what’s your opinion of the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities (mostly aimed at Hindus)? Do you consider them to be an example of Islamic “generosity”?

  36. “people make plenty of assertions about genetics as it is. i’m generally of the inclination they should be grounded in reality (we can, for example, test whether nasranis are really descended from jews or brahmins pretty easily; it already seems unlikely that vishwakarma’s are degraded brahmins based on genetic dissimilarity).”

    Just googling vishwakarmas it seems they are high caste, who claim brahminhood. They have historically been an intellectual elite. According to the Harappa Project results they are genetically among the least west asian of the desis tested, while the most west asian are the low caste peasants of the Punjab, the Jatts. So much for aryans coming from outside India.

  37. “the Desi-born desis did not treat them as welcome or even as if they should be there. The matches started at 4:30 am, and when someone would bring donuts (paid for with university funding) they would shared among the DBDs. (It’s not that I’ve never seen a donut before in my life, it’s just really awkward when the person offering donuts skips from your right to your left without even acknowledging you). Similarly, none of the ABDs could get into the keycard protected screening room by knocking on the door and asking to be let in. We had to wait for a DBD to be let in and sneak in behind.

    I tell this story to illustrate the (perceived) paradox with representing “brown” in the US. When one is surrounded by non-brown people, one becomes the go-to for all things brown, and that increases one’s personal identification with the home countries. But then when actual citizens of those countries are present, i have found that (a) nobody asks them to explain various aspects of their culture, as it might be construed as offensive, and (b) the DBDs do not accept as sincere the ABDs’ identification with the home countries.”

    -I have had the same issue at my university — the DBDs discussed ABD’s in the manner of “they are not Indian”; “they do not belong in India”, etc.

    “while the most west asian are the low caste peasants of the Punjab, the Jatts”

    -Jatts rule/control India Punjab — politically, socially. I guess these “peasants” are a part of India’s success story the last four decades ;) .


    Anyway, great thread, Mr. Razib. I enjoy reading your posts. Keep it up!

  38. i won’t have time to monitor the comments here after tomorrow. should i just thread close? wut say u?

  39. Razib, wow those are some very interesting points! I didn’t know much of that, especially about Bangladesh. Okay so I understand that Bangladeshi culture is deeply influenced by Indians and Hindus, so that’s why less extremism. Still, regarding Pakistan; okay, there is much internal turmoil in Pakistani because of sunni/shia conflict…there exist way more differences and far more conflict between hundreds of religious, cultural, political and regional parties in India. Of course the nation state model leads to greater unity and less conflict but why should the absence of this lend itself to exporting of international terrorists of Pakistani origin? Internal instability doesn’t have to result in international acts of terrorism, does it? :S

    In Canada,the 2006 terrorism plot intercepted group of Toronto 18, 26/11 India, just last year in Times Square…all of these were men of Pakistani nationality. Even in my personal interactions I’ve shuddered at some of the things said. One of my Pakistani classmates said to my face “He’s a good prof, even though he is Jewish and I should hate him”, moreover there were two Pakistani students arrested at my school for running anti-semitic websites advocating for mass murders of Jews. That’s another issue on its own, I have no idea why the extreme animosity towards Jews; I mean there must be a reason beyond the Palestine-Israel conflict.

    Anyway, my guess would be that illiteracy, instability and lack of education might foster extremism in Pakistanis living in Pakistan; but I have no idea why these specifically Pakistani immigrants, raised in North America for most of their lives are turning to terrorism. I don’t know if you have an answer or not, but this was just something I was wondering about.

  40. reema, re: pakistan, i think there’s an intersection of conditional factors, and, a positive feedback loop.

  41. the last comment was disingenuous trollery. i think it is time to close this thread while i’m ahead.