UNIFICATION 2011: A DEMONSTRATION FOR PEACE IN SOUTH ASIA

Last year, I joined Vivek, Ennis and Cicatrix at UNIFICATION, a fun, fantastic production brought about through the efforts of BROWNSTAR to commemorate India and Pakistan’s respective independence days. Will I be there again? You betcha. And you should come too.

From their press release:

The third annual UNIFICATION will again celebrate the end of colonial rule in South Asia while showcasing the talents of prominent and rising South Asian American performers. Beginning on August 14 and ending after midnight on August 15, UNIFICATION 2011 literally unites the Independence Days of the two most populous nations in South Asia, Pakistan and India, and serves as a demonstration for peace across the region.

Featuring performances by:
D’Lo
Bushra Rehman
Sunny Ali & the Kid
YaliniDream & Arooj Aftab with JenDog Lonewolf
ZerobridgeUNIFICATION 2011 Poster.jpg

Where: Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 East 3rd Street, between Avenue B & C), New York City When: Sunday, August 14 @11PM

Benefiting: Proceeds from the event benefit An America for All of Us, a campaign led by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Ticket Info: You can buy your tickets online. $25 in advance, $30 at the door

For more details and to RSVP, visit Facebook.

Related Sepia Posts: Bushra/D’Lo/YaliniDream

53 thoughts on “UNIFICATION 2011: A DEMONSTRATION FOR PEACE IN SOUTH ASIA

  1. This event promotes “peace in the Subcontinent”, right? I don’t know where to begin at this undertaking.You see, india has already made peace with Pakistan at many levels. One way we made peace is by having outgrown and out advanced the Pakistanis as formidable adversaries and now looking at china. I India, we don’t view the pakis as the enemy (or even as an enemy).There are even paki entertainers living in India and on ZTV talent shows like rihat Ali khan. OTOH, Pakistan has declared India their enemy and is schizo of all things Indian. As far as I’m concerned, India should have peace events like this with a nation that we have more hostilities towards , and that being china. The pakis can come too to celebrate with their friends that are “deeper than oceans and taller than the Himalayas.” by having this event with the Pakistanis under the guise of “peace” seems to me that Indians are somehow believing that they are culpable in all the violence of the Indian subcontinent.or worse yet, the Indians feel that the two nations are on parity and equal. They are neither. I’m not saying the people of one nation is better than the other, we are all equal, but I am saying that the Indians don’t need to prostrate themselves to a failed nation that routinely assassinates blasphemer. Sure the Indians have done some bad to Pakistan and the people of Kashmir, but the greatest enemy of peace is miltant Islam and maoists, perhaps. I feel that Indians participating in an event like this pins all the failures of Pakistan on India, and that India must share blame of pakistans failures, or somehow we are nations at parity.

    Also the term “unification” smacks of some expansionist fantasy. I would hate for a united pak-India. That’d be such a drag on our 8% GDP growth.

    This “peace” concert is like a. “apology fest” from an Indian’s point of view. It’s akin to Gujarati Muslims organizing an apologetic peace-fest with the Hindu gujaratis, even though it was the former who were victims of the latter.

    These misguided, victim-minded pakistanis should have a peacefest promoting moderation of Islam, and it should be a morale booster for the pakis by the pakis, but leave us out of it.

  2. “This event promotes “peace in the Subcontinent”, right? I don’t know where to begin at this undertaking.You see, india has already made peace with Pakistan at many levels. “

    delusional.

  3. B_Mahesh, you do realize that this is not an event set up exclusively by Indians pandering to Pakistanis? I personally am not into such events because I get bored easily. No one is forcing us to attend this. So why attack the blog for promoting such events which , in the worst case, are harmless.

  4. BM, I quite appreciate your comment. I believe it illustrates perfectly the very real need for an event like UNIFICATION. I look forward to the event and I hope many other mutineers can join us.

    • Agree agree and agree again. FYI for all its economic india is still reliant on foreign aid.

      anything that promotes peace and unity is always going to be a good thing. swallow pride and say we are nations standing together would be a great thing to see and it always starts with events like this. Pakistan was india once.

      excellent event. hope it has a great turnout.

      • “FYI for all its economic india is still reliant on foreign aid.”

        Not really, the foreign aid given to India is trivial given the size of its economy.

        “swallow pride and say we are nations standing together would be a great thing to see and it always starts with events like this. Pakistan was india once.”

        The problem is not swallowing ones pride then it is the extreme emotional reactions to anything related to Indo/Pak.

  5. The foundation of modern India is democracy, which necessitates an attitude of peaceful co-existence, among all people in those lands which gained independence from Britain circa 1947. The foundation of modern Pakistan is a political campaign waged by a particular subset of Muslims who refused to participate in the Indian experiment because it required co-existence in the form of religious tolerance. For any Indian, any Democrat, or any believer in religious tolerance to celebrate the independence of Pakistan is utterly preposterous from any point of view.

    • Varun Munjal | August 10, 2011 7:26 PM | Reply The foundation of modern India is democracy, which necessitates an attitude of peaceful co-existence, among all people in those lands which gained independence from Britain circa 1947. The foundation of modern Pakistan is a political campaign waged by a particular subset of Muslims who refused to participate in the Indian experiment because it required co-existence in the form of religious tolerance. For any Indian, any Democrat, or any believer in religious tolerance to celebrate the independence of Pakistan is utterly preposterous from any point of view.

      The Pakistanis are independent of the British, except in terms of foreign aid. The Pakistanis need to have a peace-fest concert with their Islamofascists, feudal lords, gang rapers, and others who are destabilizing their nation. Leave India out of this, because Paki problems are not India’s problems, except when they exports problems to India. So this UNIFICATION concert basically monetizes Pakistani failures from the Indian do-gooders, resume fillers, and scenesters.

      This is like blacks collaborating with Indiana suburban folks for a peace-fest on eliminating inner-city crime, and titling it “Unity is our strength.”

    • Varun,

      The Pakistan movement was not about “a subset of Muslims refusing to participate in the Indian experiment because it required religious tolerance”. Rather, it was about minority rights. There was a fear that British Raj would be replaced with Hindu Raj. Whether this fear was unfounded or not, we cannot know 64 years later, but it was a very real fear at the time. Jinnah and the Muslim League wanted to find a solution in which the Muslim-majority provinces would have some autonomy within a united India. Jinnah accepted the 1946 Cabinet Mission Plan, which would have avoided Partition. It was Nehru who rejected this.

      Anyway, my point is that any objective history of that era would tell you that the issues of contention were all political rather than religious. Let’s not revise history and make claims based on either incomplete knowledge or bias.

      • < >

        About a million people were killed in riots on both sides during partition due to political differences and not a religious divide?

        In the undivided India the muslim population could be between 30 to 35% who could vote as one block in a democracy. Everybody knows Hindus have linguistic and caste identities which make them a diverse group. A minority of 30% who have ruling class within them, being heirs of Mughal empire, is afraid of being oppressed or sidelined. Not convincing. It looks more like shortsightednes. If they chose to remain as citizens of undivided India they could be ruling India half the time. Postindependent events bear this out; look at the disproportionate number of Muslim Presidents and vice-presidents in independent India.

        As a southerner born around the time of India’s independence, I am trying to understand the dynamics of partition. Please do not take these as antagonistic comments.

  6. Thanks Paul. Fixed.

    BM, you gotta check that hatorade at the door. This particular Pakistani-American is going to continue mingling with “Indian do-gooders, resume fillers, and scenesters.” Like I said before, everything you’re saying convinces me that this event is exactly what we as a community need.

  7. Peace with these people is futile, and this endeavor is a fool’s errand.

    Still though, great blog. I enjoy reading even if I dont agree with certain things.

  8. I can’t really see how “unification” can be seen as pandering, or celebrating Pakistan. Rather is it going back to the original idea of a secular united India, which in the long run goes against the very idea and existence of Pakistan. Had this demonstration been held in India I can imagine it would be seen as rather aggressive towards Pakistan. Now it’s been held in NYC, which presumably means not a jot. The only place(s) where such a demonstration could be seen as a meaningful peace initiative is it where held in Karachi (or Dhaka).

    • Good point, Arctic Bong. It’s not celebrating anything Pakistan. It’s a money-making scheme attempting to swindle for the aspiring do-gooders. This is basically a version of the “Bhangra Blowouts” that are meaningless, stupid, boring, formulaic.

      Hey, I’m starting a Woodstock type of event called “Celebrating our Hellenstic Traditions” and I’m inviting the Greek Association of Greater Boston, Pakistanis, Indians, and Bangladeshis, Burmese, Iranians, Afghanis, Uzbekis. NOT.

  9. I think it is reasonable for former colonies to celebrate together independence day from the colonial rule. I also feel India or Pakistan or other SA nations celebrating Independence should involve the British as well. In my view, to celebrate India’s independence without the British is like staging Hamlet without the prince of Denmark.

    • This is why India is viewed as ridiculously weak by Pakistan. I’m agnostic at to whether this view is correct or not, it is just so weird to me to see it.

        • Actually, the logic to Sahar’s response to hoipolloi is pretty self evident. The notion of celebrating your independence from erstwhile oppressors with your erstwhile oppressors trivializes the oppression to begin with (or worse as in the case of the imbecile indians who actually celebrated with the portuguese on the 500th anniversary of their arrival and eventual colonization of goa, et al). Her point is that any putative member of the pakistani chatterati who would posit that the british raj was somehow a good thing would be deemed lacking in national spirit at best and traitorous at worst. In India, however, we routinely have members of the self-proclaimed intelligentsia acting as though it was a good thing and are foolishly treated as enlightened commentators. It’s one thing to say “we should all be friends now” and quite another to say “hey that was fun. should do it again only try a little italian this time?”. I won’t get into the whole macauley’s children diatribe, but i think this article (from an American source btw) pretty much sums up why foreign rule is always a bad thing–no matter how good a spin kipling may attempt to put on it:

          http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1908/10/the-new-nationalist-movement-in-india/4893/?single_page=true

          • I personally think that British rule was more enlightened and enduring than any of the previous foreign rulers. The Mughals built nice buildings, but that’s it. Ummmm…Ranjit Singh didn’t rule all of India, but just Paki and N. India.

            Ummm…Happy Independence Day, Pakistan! Go easy on the fire crackers/patakee.

          • Satyjait,

            The article was from 1908! A good find on what contemporary columnists thought of the British Raj! Thanks for digging this up.

            Boston,

            You wrote “The Mughals built nice buildings, but that’s it.”. No, that’s not it. Sutherland, the writer Satyajit Wry linked to, makes the following points: a Famines affect ordinary people more and more, the longer the British Raj went b Poor people have any means to build savings for famines b The tax on salt so high that Indians cut their consumption of it d The tax on salt was higher than the cost of producing it e The financial systems were designed to make money flow out of India into England in a number of ways: High salaries and pensions for British officers The cost of Britain’s imperial wars, even wars that had nothing to do with India, were passed on to the Indian population f Indian merchants were made non-competitive by tariffs.

            To make your point, you will have to prove that Ranjit Singh and the Mughals did badly on Items a through f.

            I doubt that any native ruler of India would do badly on Items e and f.

          • “Her point is that any putative member of the pakistani chatterati who would posit that the british raj was somehow a good thing would be deemed lacking in national spirit at best and traitorous at worst.”

            Frankly I know of many Pakistanis who despise their current highly corrupt govt and pine for the days of the raj. The British may have been leeches but at least they were not hyper corrupt.

            “In India, however, we routinely have members of the self-proclaimed intelligentsia acting as though it was a good thing and are foolishly treated as enlightened commentators. It’s one thing to say “we should all be friends now” and quite another to say “hey that was fun. should do it again only try a little italian this time?”.”

            The Raj did unite India, else we probably would have been a collection of states torn by ethnicity and religion such as the situation in Europe.

          • Thinking it is one thing, making it a legitimate position in the national dialogue is a whole other thing. NNN already responded to boston mahesh’s (curious–to put it politely) remarks, so I’ll just leave it at that–with the small point that the idea that colonialism was necessary so india could gain the benefit of the english language being particularly asinine. Yes, India was indeed fortunate to allow its (then) advanced economy and industry to be destroyed and have $15trillion looted over 150 years so that Indians today could easily get h1-bs and become cyber coolies and deskilled called center hacks. Yaay!

            With respect to yours, the marathas, even after 3rd panipat, were on the verge of an all India empire, so the EIC’s “unification” of India again is a bit of a canard, especially since the british were so keen on seeing India divided up again after they were forced to exit. The “Idea of India” being a british one is the most ridiculous since India–like europe–is a civilization with an ancient tradition. And the notion of an incorruptible John company/ICS was one that was carefully cultivated to legitimize british misrule. The routine parliamentary inquiries into Clive (who btw started his career by running a London gang) et al are legendary. In fact, for all the british blather about martial classes, how do you think Clive actually won Plassey?–bribery. The corruption today is certainly tremendous, but one need only look at who is running the show behind the scenes to understand why and where all the money is going.

            Were there positive externalities–sure. But they were just that, externalities. They were incidental to the aims of empire and in most respects the most insidious legacy is the mental colonialism that causes modern indians to despise their ancient history and culture and constantly look to the west and pray that the peroxide and fairever will be their keys to the country club–and if not, they can always marry in (for self proclaimed global citizens they seem especially fixated on only people originating from one continent). Nehru and his heirs are the fruition of macauley’s dreams of “a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect” and India is a still suffering for it…as evidenced by this very conversation. (sigh)…Jai Hind.

          • “Thinking it is one thing, making it a legitimate position in the national dialogue is a whole other thing.”

            “Foreign rule is a bad thing and celebrating it is not only foolish but makes you look weak and pathetic in the eyes of the international community.”

            I think your understanding misses the underlying motivations for these types of positions. Realistically many people do not care about the Raj in India. It is dead and gone and is not a factor for modern India. On the other hand tensions with Muslims in the subcontinent (whether emanating locally or from Pakistan) are a factor today. Thus it is not surprising that a revisionist view of the Raj is one of a entity that brought Enlightenment, English, and Modernity while warding off the allegedly regressive social, economic, and religious influences of Muslim culture in the subcontinent.

            Pakistanis may condemn the Raj more forcefully then Indians. But that is not surprising given their narrative of a Glorious Islamic India that was snatched away by the foul British. On the other hand I often found Pakistani national discourse to be far more fawning, subservient and servile when it comes Arabs even when Pakistanis are treated badly in places such as the UAE today. Not to mention the treatment of those workers is objectively far worse then is meted out to H1-B “cyber coolies” in the US.

          • “I think your understanding misses the underlying motivations for these types of positions”…

            Oh, I’m fully aware of the “we were all mughals and arabs” syndrome among pakistanis–hence the noting of my disdain for their chatterati and martial class. But i think your understanding here missed the point: they’re rationalizing that period by attempting to say they were that people (hence the search for an iota of arab/turkic blood in individual lineages). Subcontinentals as a whole are not in a similar position to make such dubious rationalizations with respect to the british. That’s what makes any celebration of british rule that much more pathetic, as does minimization of the corruption, looting, mental colonialism, and insidious division that occurred during their term. Additionally, one need only look at the treatment of south asians in the UK in the immediate decades after independence to see how they looked upon us (irrespective of the fact that many of these immigrants were “english in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect”. I believe this site has linked to videos on the southall riots that changed race relations there.

            “Pakistanis may condemn the Raj more forcefully then Indians. But that is not surprising given their narrative of a Glorious Islamic India that was snatched away by the foul British.”

            Additionally, your narrative misses the reality of subcontinental politics at the time. The greatest power by far was the Maratha empire, which was on the verge of pan-Indian rule, even after 3rd Panipat. Later, Ranjit Singh ruled all of the Punjab and was on the very cusp of taking Kabul itself before his untimely death. The british defeated both empires in order to complete their conquest. So the notion that the “glorious” sultanate was snatched away by the british is misguided in and of itself given the revivalism of the period.

            With respect to the point about cyber coolies and call center workers–the point is that the english language, the railways, etc, are routinely used to justify the experience under the british. The reality, however, is that anyone even moderately acquainted with the actual pain of colonialism, as the American author in The Atlantic piece was, would realize that these “accomplishments” can hardly justify our experience. India’s share of global gdp and trade collapsed from 25% to between 1 and 3%. The british specifically destroyed the textile industry so that manchester and birmingham could prosper. United Bengal produced the finest textiles in the world–is it any wonder today that the region that was longest under the spell of the british turned out to be the poorest today? The british have yet to properly atone for their behavior in India (and elsewhere given what happened during the mau mau rebellion). Rationalizing the destruction of what was for at least a thousand years the world’s great trading power by saying that this destruction paved they way for low level jobs wherein the english language proves useful given the dominance of American commerce is nonsensical at best.

            It’s astonishing that on India’s Independence Day (yes–THE independence day because greece, china and iran also had long spells of foreign rule yet do not spend their years happily aggrandizing them for the rest of the world) we have nominal indians minimizing the tremendous damage that took place (and in many ways still taking place) on account of european in general and british in particular colonialism.

          • “But i think your understanding here missed the point: they’re rationalizing that period by attempting to say they were that people (hence the search for an iota of arab/turkic blood in individual lineages). Subcontinentals as a whole are not in a similar position to make such dubious rationalizations with respect to the british. That’s what makes any celebration of british rule that much more pathetic, as does minimization of the corruption, looting, mental colonialism, and insidious division that occurred during their term.”

            So your argument is that it is better to be a bunch of racial wannabes then to a take note that the British did bring positive modern aspects to a society that was still stuck in the middle ages? Please all those things you mentioned (corruption, looting, etc.) had been experienced by India in far worse situations either from other foreign conquerors or even by local rulers. Whether ruled by the Mughals, Marthas, or someone else, the legitimacy of the those empires rested on the fact that they had the guns/swords and their subjects did not. The British did the same to an extent but did bring in modern notions of political legitimacy through democracy. Frankly I take broader perspe

            “Additionally, one need only look at the treatment of south asians in the UK in the immediate decades after independence to see how they looked upon us (irrespective of the fact that many of these immigrants were “english in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect”. I believe this site has linked to videos on the southall riots that changed race relations there.”

            Yes the British were arrogant and felt superior in all respects during colonialism. However South Asians engage in the same type of behavior today based upon caste, religion, ethnicity, etc. so what is your point exactly? Most Westerners are far better in treating minorities and other racial groups more humanely then South Asians, Arabs, or pretty much anyone else today. Do you seriously expect me to sit around all day and be steamed about the fact that group x, y, and z felt superior to grandpa?

            “So the notion that the “glorious” sultanate was snatched away by the british is misguided in and of itself given the revivalism of the period.”

            It may be factually true, but the question was about what Pakistani’s view about their history and why they hate the British. Such a revisionist history explains their derision.

            “India’s share of global gdp and trade collapsed from 25% to between 1 and 3%.”

            Does that not also convienently ignore the fact that Europe was going through the Industrial Revolution at the time? The question is not whether India’s % of gdp was higher or lower then others but whether the real gdp increased or decreased during colonialism.

          • The Brain: “India’s share of global gdp and trade collapsed from 25% to between 1 and 3%.”

            I’ve heard this statistic quite a few times. It’s very true, indeed. Moreover, China was also responsible for ~25% of global GDP. Both countries performed at these levels for millenias, and they’ve stagnated since ~1500 CE. So their recent economic expansion is nothing more than a reversion to the mean.

            Now, when people say “India’s share….” do they mean “Modern day India along with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal”? Using this as a guideline, the GDP of India will slowly become $22.67T in PPP terms or factoring in China’s reversion to 50% of global GDP, then both nations will have $29T in PPP terms.

          • It is exactly the fact that the elite of India has views similar to this, that India can never be a strong, independent power. The only way it will happen is by discarding these types of views.

            Look at the USA for example. That was a British colony. Do they go around telling everyone how wonderful the British are/ were? No, they go so far as to try and do everything differently to to their colonizers and take the mickey out of them at every opportunity. They created their own systems, they even play different versions of sports (baseball, American Football -not much soccer!), they drive on the different side of the road, they even have a different date format. They also happen to be the most successful country in the world on many measures. The USA is also extremely patriotic and the idea that being colonized by another nation was good for them is laughable to them, as it should be. On the other hand, the UK and the US still have very good relations with each other, which is great and as it should be.

            Take China also – they object to India’s entry as a permanent member to the UNSC due to the fact that India has linked up with Japan, among others. Why? because of old colonial hurts. China is also extremely patriotic and has a strong sense of pride and national identity.

            Who does the world respect more – the USA and China, or India? I’m not saying I agree with the China model as it does seem to come across somewhat antagonistically, although they are singlehandedly propping up the US and European government bond markets right now, it seems! So even China, when it comes to it is an ally of the “world” in a sense.

            It is almost not even really about whether colonialism was good or not, it’s about having a subservient mindset, which is what seems to prevail in India alot of the time. India can still have good relations with the rest of the world, and in fact it should, but that doesn’t mean you have to walk around thinking everything in the USA or the UK is better than anything India could ever do. Make your own systems, ideals, traditions – or rather reinstate the old culture that was such a shining light for so long.

            India needs to find some balls, basically. That is the only way to be respected globally. As I say, that does not mean having friction with the rest of the world ( it certainly does not mean aggression or violence or war as someone mentioned above!), it just means respecting yourself enough to stand on your own, not as a second fiddle to any other country that does have the balls.

            Simples, innit?

      • Sounds like someone’s got a hard on for India during Pakistan’s Independence Day. Maybe if they were more fixated on their own country’s affairs, they would have prevented that bomb blast (bomb blast).

        • Boston Mahesh, what exactly are you hoping to accomplish here with this line? Considering I’ve been routinely banned for slanting too far to the Indian right, I think I’m pretty well immune to Aman ki Asha charges, but this is just pointless rudeness to Sahar. No one has more disdain than I do for the pakistani chatterati and martial class (let alone wagah candleholders), but her point is a legitimate one.

          Foreign rule is a bad thing and celebrating it is not only foolish but makes you look weak and pathetic in the eyes of the international community. You don’t see the Chinese celebrating colonial spheres of influence in the 1800s–because they have self-respect (in fact, they’re the other extreme because they’ve nurtured a generation of citizens seeking to avenge the humiliations of semi-colonization). Indians think “two cheers for colonialism” and the like endears them to their once upon a time sahibs, but it just makes them look servile. There’s a difference between an objective history and analysis of what happened and what was useful and singing outright paeans to the legacy of mass murder, racism, thuggery, and looting under a veneer of high tea and white man’s burden in heavy doses that characterized the british raj. Let’s stick to the former.

  10. Happy 15th to all. This is not the independence day. This is an independence day. Desis were ruled by many other folks, and there were many indigenous rulers of the subcontinent whose rule no longer applies. When is the independence of Ranjit Singh celebrated in N. India, Peshawar, etc.? When is the independence day associated with the end of the Mauryan Dynasty? When is the independence of the Lodhi Dynasty celebrated (probably the same day that Panipat v.1.0 was fought)? When was independence of Timur’s Dynasty?

    August 15th is just as happy of a day as August 16th, or August 17th, or June 31st. Hopefully, we can celebrate independence from poverty, xenophobia, purposelessness, and self-doubt, and that, my friends, would be the most meaningful Independence Day.

  11. Well, the term unification may work fine in the US (actually would it in the american south??) but it is an extremely loaded word in the south asian context. But then I assume this is mostly for ABDs, a sort of feel good cultural event. So it probably doesnt matter.

    It would be good for you to understand that both Pakistan and Bangladesh are extremely wary of the word “unification” – I have seen quite reasonable pakis whip themselves into a lather when describing how india plans to forcibly “unify” them into an akhand bharat. There is a little less irrational sensitivity amongst bandladeshis but nevertheless a certain level of concern about “unification”. So a little more awareness of language would help (remember a certain president’s description of our mis-adventures in the middle-east as a crusade??).

    boston_mahesh you are free to diss August 15th and reference all sorts of kings and rulers (some atrocious, some excellent). But Aug 15th does mark the beginning of the democratic indian state, in which citizens are all equal under the law, under which a representative govt has been in operation for over 60 years (yes, i deducted two years for indira emergency). More and more it is a state in which citizens speak up, under-represented groups take power, and has for the last 20 years a good rate of economic growth. This is a stupendous achievement, notwithstanding various flaws, and one that should not be trivialized.

    Another way to put it is: be happy that you are not from a state where you HAVE to celebrate the official independence day!!

    • Well said, Al.

      I’m not in any way shape or form trivializing India’s re-Independence Day. I am, however, trying to challenge others into the significance (or how significant lacking) of this day. I, personally, think that the British did a great job in unifying the subcontinent. India today is larger than it has been than under the Timurids, Ghazni, Ghouri, Lodhi Dynasty, Mughal Dynasty, Ashoka/Mauryan, etc. Yet, we diss the accomplishments of the Brits. Perhaps as a reflection of our frustrations with one’s ownself? Anyways, today is a great excuse for me to get hyperglycemic with ladoos and sweet carrots. Mmmm…Jai-C6H12O6

      Finally, India’s accomplishments are amazing. I’m most proud of the fact that, against all odds, it’s been a democratic nation for 64 years and “against all odds” according to President Clinton in ’00. I’m also very proud that their economy has averaged ~5-7% since ’91 and ~8-9% since ’04.

      • “India today is larger than it has been than under the Timurids, Ghazni, Ghouri, Lodhi Dynasty, Mughal Dynasty, Ashoka/Mauryan”

        This is incorrect. Both the Mauryan and the Mughal empires were larger than the modern Republic of India. They extended deep into Afghanistan. Mauryan direct rule extended all the way to the northern edge of Tamil Nadu and the Mauryas were content to retain friendly relations as practical overlords of the deep south and Lanka. If anything, the british seemed intently keen on splitting India up again as they departed–so let’s not get all misty eyed over nothing.

    • Well just to be clear. Not many Indians are keen on the Unification, either. Ten years ago, you probably would have seen more Indians more dreamy of an eventual unification. But now, most just go by what Nehru once said. Paraphrasing – India has its own shit to deal with, and doesn’t need to take on more troubles. And in fact these days, the sentiment goes some notches above that to a sentiment that would goes against the idea of “unification.” So assuming that it’s only Pakistanis and Bangladeshis (who are loathe to term not just against India, but also in the context of unification with Pakistan) that are uncomfortable with the word, and Indians are just fine and dandy with the term is not doing much for unity.

  12. “Another way to put it is: be happy that you are not from a state where you HAVE to celebrate the official independence day!!”

    LOL! Nice one al_beruni.

    Happy Independence Day folks!!!

  13. I’m uncomfortable with the sentence “The british have yet to properly atone for their behavior in India”.

    History is not a movie with “good guys” and “bad guys”, with somebody enjoying the high moral ground, and the others the low moral ground.

    The only fault of the British is that, of all our foreign conquerors, they were the only ones who never settled down here. That is why they moved money out of India, and over the course of a century, impoverished us.

    Babur was also a foreign conqueror, and he, too, grabbed money. But he never returned to Uzbekistan, and never moved money back to Uzbekistan.

    Our current leaders are very corrupt, and stash money in Swiss banks. But they live in India, and want to bring their money back to India. They end up rotating money back in India through benami transactions.

    It is very difficult to feel a sense of outrage or indignation at the British for these reasons. No need to ask them to atone. And it is practically impossible, too, for they have a strong military, and the US will certainly protect them.

  14. nnn, you will notice that I haven’t actually indicted the british for seeking empire in the first place. They saw an opportunity and they took it–fine. That was indeed the nature of the times, and in actuality, the nature of history itself. What does matter is the minimization of their crimes. Crimes did indeed take place, such as the starving of bengal that took place during wwii on churchill’s command. There is no explanation for that and large scale denial. The overt attempt to colonize the minds of indians into having nothing but shame for their culture and heritage is another.

    The crimes against humanity inflicted on the mau mau in kenya are just now coming to light, and the government is in full denial mode.

    Ridiculous theories such as the beneficence of british colonization and the corresponding result being politically stable democracies (“if you had to be colonized you should pick the british–see malaysia and india”) continue to be propounded today.

    “The only fault of the British is that, of all our foreign conquerors, they were the only ones who never settled down here. That is why they moved money out of India, and over the course of a century, impoverished us.”

    Incorrect. The Achaemenid empire conquered sindh and parts of the punjab. They annually drained talents of gold from both those regions. The very definition of empire is a core exploiting a periphery. The difference is british looting reach such a degree of rapacity that even a structure like the Taj Mahal was briefly surveyed as a possible target for deconstruction and sale.

    “Our current leaders are very corrupt”

    Our current leaders are very corrupt because they are elevated on the basis of loyalty rather than dedication to the nation and competence. When the system is designed to ensure that the worst prosper–then they will. When the academic system fails to provide a proper civic and historical education because it is a colonial relic, then people fail to take pride in their government and country.

    “It is very difficult to feel a sense of outrage or indignation at the British for these reasons. No need to ask them to atone. And it is practically impossible, too, for they have a strong military, and the US will certainly protect them.”

    Uh, not sure where you are going here. No one said anything about atonement at the point of a sword or barrel of a gun. It means intellectually contesting false theories that are propounded by them and their acolytes and putting moral pressure on them to atone in true gandhian spirit.

  15. hoipolloi,

    Yes, the issues were political and not religious in nature. The minority (which in this case happened to be a religious one) believed that in a democratic setup, they would be ruled by the majority. They believed that British Raj would be replaced by Hindu Raj. Many compromises were attempted for provincial autonomy or a loose confederation. However, Congress wanted a highly centralized state, and this was not acceptable to the Muslim League. So unfortunately, the only alternative left was Partition.

    No one expected that Partition would lead to the kind of violence that occurred (In hindsight it seems obvious that it would occur). The violence only happened when people started fearing for their lives and trains started arriving at the station filled with corpses. This violence was not inevitable and perhaps had the British not been in such a hurry to leave and had not moved Partition/Independence up by one year, the transition could have been managed in a more orderly fashion.

  16. hoipoloi,

    Indians would be better of NOT seeking independence. English would have ruled Indians very well. Instead of lamenting over partition, shouldn’t you lament over getting independence from British now that you are being ruled by imbeciles you called as leaders?

  17. Is it more ridiculous for Indians to pretend that they are a part of the west than pakistanis to tout their connections to the islamic “ummah”?–yes.

    “Please all those things you mentioned (corruption, looting, etc.) had been experienced by India in far worse situations either from other foreign conquerors or even by local rulers”

    Local rulers? You have to be kidding me. The voluntary starvation of 3 million in bengal, the most rapacious tax collectors the world has seen and you’re trying to put an icing on that cake? Please read that Atlantic article and then get back to us.

    “Yes the British were arrogant and felt superior in all respects during colonialism. However South Asians engage in the same type of behavior today based upon caste, religion, ethnicity, etc. so what is your point exactly? Most Westerners are far better in treating minorities and other racial groups more humanely”

    Tell that to soldiers of the Rebellion made to lick blood circa 1857 and the mau mau in the ’50s…

    “The British did the same to an extent but did bring in modern notions of political legitimacy through democracy.”

    You do realize that parliamentary democracy is a relatively new innovation. In fact, it was the Glorious Revolution of 1688 that laid the true seeds for it with property and class based suffrage going out the door only in the middle of the 20th century in britain itself. The notion that colonization was a good thing because it introduced “modern political ideals” is ridiculous considering Meiji Japan and Ataturk’s turkey both introduced reforms without being colonized. Should India have conquered the “known” world when it had the strength to circulate the zero and other advances in hindu mathematics which made possible the information age? Really, dude…

    The fact that you’re bringing up caste in complete disregard to the historical operation of class in british society just shows how Brain-dead this mindset that India’s so-called intelligentsia espouses.

    “Does that not also conveniently ignore the fact that Europe was going through the Industrial Revolution at the time? The question is not whether India’s % of gdp was higher or lower then others but whether the real gdp increased or decreased during colonialism.”

    This canard has been dealt with definitively. Punitive duties and tariffs were slapped on Indian textiles to destroy the industry before england was anywhere near competitive. In fact, active deindustrialization was the policy based on the treatment meted out to karkhanas–state-owned workshops which were proto-factories. You forget that Mughal era India, Ottoman Turkey, and Qing China all had advanced economies likely on the cusp of industrialization.

    Yes, the industrial revolution led to the West pulling ahead–but before it had that technology, it actively worked to destroy local industries to so that it wouldn’t have the drainage of gold to India and China that it did. The Opium war is emblematic of it since opium was the only thing other than gold/silver that the Chinese were interested in. When the Qing dynasty put the kaibosh on it, the british imposed opium at the point of the bayonet. Or would you argue here that the industrial revolution was the reason why the Chinese decided to continue using opium as well?…

    The View summed up the unfortunate mindset that you seem to espouse very well–so I’ll just leave it at that.

  18. “The fact that you’re bringing up caste in complete disregard to the historical operation of class in british society just shows how Brain-dead this mindset that India’s so-called intelligentsia espouses.”

    Within the caste system among Indians, there’s not just a subcaste system but also a class system. But “the brain” brought up the caste system which existed and survived until today among Indians in India and diaspora just to show that Indians are intolerant/racist/want to feel superior over others.

    • Yes, and kate middleton’s commoner origins in spite of her family’s wealth were not at all part of the commentary this past spring…

      the point about caste and subcaste is irrelevant if you actually took the time to understand the origins and purpose of the system.  There are many upwardly mobile brits today, but people retain consciousness of their “origins” too. Moreover, The Brain was using this as means of excusing the british legacy on the subcontinent. One which actively propagated racial theories and put forth the insidious AIT–the effects of which India feels to this day.

  19. Another thing about caste which I abhor. Pakistanis divisions are FaR more lethal than Indias caste division (or any other division). Within punjabi, they have hierarchical orders which precluded Mukhthatar Mai to get raped; inter ethnic violence pitting the muhajirs with Pashtuns in Karachi; inter-Islamic hate killing Shias and ahmadiyas. It’s pretty bad out there.

    Perhaps these organizers should organize a concert for next ramzan addressing this sadness.

  20. seriously? this topic has gone to caste system? why can’t people see a simple gesture to unite two countries that are in conflict with each other through music a good thing

  21. The non-cynics here might be interested in a blogpost I wrote last year on an aspirational model for the India-Pakistan relationship. here. A Peaceful and Developed South Asia

    Briefly, if we can get to Canada:US :: Pakistan:India in a variety of dimensions in the immediate future, much more is possible later. Not to leave out Bangladesh, an analogy to Mexico within North America automatically suggests itself.

  22. Not so much related to the title but in order to improve their respective standings in the world Pakistan as a country and as individuals need to be less emotional/bold and more intellectual about issues affecting them, and india and indians need to be more emotional/bold and less intellectual about issues affecting them. that’s how they are going to break free of the shadow of colonialism.