Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Further Thoughts on India’s Independence

JD, a reader and frequent tipster, sent an email with some further thoughts about my post on India’s 60th anniversary:

I would like to add two more points in addition to your point about the British created Republican form of government in India:

One, the English language helped to unite the different language speaking communities of India.

Two, the British railway system helped to unite the country geographically.

To illustrate the importance of a unifying language I recall reading
somewhere that Churchill (at least, I think it was Churchill), upon
hearing of India’s independence, said something like “We should never have taught them English.”

Here’s another quote by Churchill about India:

“India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the Equator.”

By pointing these quotes out, please do not think I am anti-Churchill. I think he did great things for Britain. These quotes do, however, give insight into Churchill’s mindset towards the independence of India.

JD is right: these quotations not only give us insight into Churchill, but they illuminate that now long-vanished world view regarding England’s dominion over her dark-skinned subjects. You have only to read WSC's autobiography of his young life to realize that he lived in a time we can recall but never resurrect. The vanishment leaves us with an emptiness for what was and never will be again: a world where Churchill strode. It was a flawed, often ugly world, but what are we to make of our own in comparison?

There is no simple way to contemplate the existential problems that colonizing caused the home countries in Europe. Our world reverberates with the echoes of that past, and some of the echoes are violent and disturbing.
- - - - - - - - -
On the other hand, it is difficult to consider what our globe would be like without those very same explorations and colonizations. I daresay there would have been even more internal violence, enough to go around for everyone.

And don’t forget the particularly rich form English took on when India adapted it for its own uses. If you haven’t perused that slim volume “A Bleat Plaintive” by Raja Choudary Sajja (written for the 50th anniversary of independence) I recommend wandering through his Indian English; it is plaintive indeed, but lilting, and tilting and funny, too.

At one point he asks, rhetorically:

Is is wrong to conquer a country?

What Aryans did in India way back beyond centuries…

The fact that this question can’t be answered is moot. It will continue to resound through the eons, right up until the point when the sun finally gutters out. In those last moments, in that cold darkness, two voices will still be raised in ancient arguments about territory.

We are such spatial beings.


Unknown said...

Who is JD and how much she or he understands the Indian History! Churchill had to say like he did in a state of loosing the golden sparrow like India.
By the way Aryans could not go beyond the 'Narmada' of Central India. India is a country and would stay as a secular country for ever.
Sanjeev Veda

Per N said...

I have been in Idia 2 times, 78 and 79, even small children speak english, the Fodor guide say, India have 4 main group and 200 other language.
India is blest to have English.

Czechmade said...

Hmmm, Narmada! Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada contain more original Sanskrit Aryan in its pure phonetic beauty than anything north of Narmada. (Telugu up to 90%).

South India is more Hindu, the British stopped the islamics just in time.

Vijayanagaram - a brilliant kingdom betrayed by their partly muslim army (Today North Karnataka state). Study Shivaji as well.

Quote it while keeping muslims away from our armies.

Afonso Henriques said...


I bet he was talking about an "Aryan invasion" and thus an (hypotethical?) Aryan people instead of that Indo-European linguistical influence which probabily was posterior to the Aryan invasion, like: "Americans" conquered The West at the expenses of Indians, it was not the Europeans... Worth of note is how the more "Aryan" Pakistan became muslim while "Dravidian" India remained Hindu and thus more Aryan/Indo-European in its essence.

Despite all this I just wanted to comment that India is a whole Civilisation on its own and, genetically speaking, it is the more diverse region on Earth if we exclude Sub Saharan Africa.
India is no Nation, it is a whole Civilisation, a Civilisation to where Pakistan and Bangladesh belong.

... if only they could diminish the muslim danger...

It would be interesting however to develop deeper thoughts over India and it's vallue as a Civilisation (I mean, I'd very much prefer to be a Dhimi in Saudi Arabia than an Untouchable in rural India, but maybe that's because I'm no Hindu).

Czechmade said...

You will hardly find some historical evidence in the oldest texts, but the Brahmins look much the same all over India - Ariyan. Upper casts similar to them.

Afonso Henriques said...

I am not contesting how "pure" the Brhamins are or how they exist throughout India - despite the fact that you will find more Brhamins in the Northwest than in the South and in the East.

What I tried to say is that I got the impression - since the time I went to look up for India's History - that India has not Traditionally been a Nation State but that it was very divided.
Of course, there were great empires but I think the English were the only ones to engulff the Indian States into one unique State (and even though we had, I think, French possesions there and of course, we had Portuguese India well into 1957, territories that were only took by militar conquest and over dead bodies).

So, let's go back to ancient India. It was in ancient times. There were no planes nor cars or American trucks, much less a United Indian State. In fact, when the Aryans penetrated India they had a great advantadge because they had charriots (and horses).

In this firt "Aryan input", let's call it that, the Aryans colonised the North/Northwest of India and Pakistan and installed themselves in the higher classes while they mixed with the local population to create the middle casts, just like what happened in Latin America. This first "Aryan input" was restrained to the North and was somewhat mixed with the pre existant "Harapian" or "Dravidian" culture. This heavily Aryanised body would become the basis of what I call Indian Civilisation.
This body would then expand to other areas through time.

An analogy is like we Reconquered the Peninsula to the moors. Then, we expanded to the Americas.

And, while the first "Aryan Input" restrained to Northern / Northwestern India is "Aryan", the other imputs to the rest of India are already "Indian", it is already Indian Civilisation expanding from its Gangetic basis.

At least, that is what I retained in my head after having investigated the topic some years ago.

And about the evidence: There is hardly any evidence of an Aryan phisical presence in Ancient India, that is, an invasion or mass immigration. However the genetical, cultural, linguistical and religious links are indesputable.

Czechmade said...

Follow the rivers, then you find Brahmins - the flowing water was essential for their rites. The earliest Hindu supersaints "rishis" reached the South and India was thus always defined as an Island:

Jambu Dveepa. The island mythology made it also impossible for the Brahmins to cross the "ocean" without being excommunicated.

Karmasura said...

@ Czechmade.. if memory serves me right.. jambudveepa was a name for Sri Lanka.

@Sanjeev.. why are you propagating the AIT theory?? Get conversed with the Out of India theory.. and read up on Koenraad Elst's work..