Monday, January 26, 2009

Mother India

India Frieze The Republic of India came into existence on January 26th, 1950, with the passage of the Indian constitution.

In the millennia of India’s existence, sixty years is but a moment. Before the Muslims arrived to destroy things, India was probably the most advanced civilization in the world. By the time they’d finished smashing her great monuments and murdering multitudes, Islam had brought India to heel. Sort of.

But that was then, back during Europe's "Dark Ages". Actually, there wasn't any entity known as "Europe" then, just warring groups invading one another's territories under the pressures of population movement. In the 8th century, India's culture was in flower. And then the Muslims invaded...followed centuries later by the European competition for goods and dominion over one another via vassal states like India.

That world doesn't exist anymore. Europe diminished itself through internecine warfare and the migration of populations to other continents.

In the present, India can celebrate with pride its independence, wrested from the English after so much injustice. What England did there makes colonial America’s complaints about "taxation without representation" pale in comparison.

Gandhi was a great influence in this process that led to liberty, but he is only a small portion, one that is focused on in the West because his pacifism encapsulated the image that we wanted to emphasize.

We study Gandhi and his teachings, but we do not ponder the countless bloody sacrifices individual Indians made for their country’s ultimate liberty.
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While we can go on at length about the injustice of the British in her Indian colonization (and it was brutal), we don’t give enough credit to the English for their foundational work in training what would become India’s republican bureaucracy. Despite England’s cruel use of India, it left behind a legacy that India put to use in its own behalf.

What would India have looked like with, say, a French overlord? To answer that, look at Algeria. No Gandhi arose there among the Berbers. Admittedly, the two colonies are hardly similar, but the complexities of India were - and are - stunning. That she achieved independence and has maintained it in the face of many threats to her sovereignty is due in no small part to the long influence of England, who once called Queen Victoria the “Empress of India”.

Those days are long gone. The complexities of India with its gargantuan problems, difficulties we could not even begin to grasp (much less resolve to conquer), remain in the forefront. The religious complexities and fractures, the caste system, and the burdens of overpopulation remain. In addition there is the menace of Pakistan on one side and the hovering presence of China on the other.

Were the recent atrocities in Mumbai meant to throw a damper on the sixtieth anniversary of India’s statehood? If so, they didn’t succeed. But that cruel killing-and-torture spree remind us that Gandhi’s tactics are not suitable for all places and all times.

Those terrorists are the embodiment of evil. In the face of the virtue represented by someone like Gandhi, evil has no choice: it must destroy goodness. Is it any wonder that these terrorists particularly chose the Jewish enclave in Mumbai to do their worst atrocities? Those people had done nothing wrong, unless focusing on helping one’s fellow pilgrims and leading a life of strict prayer and observance is wrong. Their very existence was abhorrent to those who plan mass murder and mayhem in the name of their cause.

India has survived as a republic now for sixty years. It will continue on because its determination cannot be destroyed. Shaken? Of course. But it is too big to be brought down by incursions of death dealers. They must know that at some level. Yet, for them, it is the death and destruction that matters. They will be back again, and India knows this.

But they will never bring down Mother India. She is too strong, too intelligent, too ancient, and too varied to ever succumb again to problems instigated by outsiders.

Andrew Bostom's definitive "Legacy of Jihad" has a whole subsection devoted to Islam's rampage through the Near East, Europe, Asia Minor, and the Indian subcontinent. Dr. Bostom chose K.S. Lal's essay, Muslims Invade India for inclusion there. Only twenty or so pages in length, it chronicles the horrors in detail, beginning with the first invasion in 712. For his subheading quote, Lal uses the words of Amir Timur (Tamerlane) to explain their murderous work:

My principal object in coming to Hindustan...has been to accomplish two things. The first was to war with the infidels, the enemies of the Mohammadan religion; and by this religious warfare to acquire some claim to reward in the life to come. The was...that the army of Islam might gain something by plundering the wealth and valuables of the infidels: plunder in war is as lawful as their mothers' milk to Musalmans who war for their faith.


Karmasura said...

Well.. thanks for putting up something on India during her Republic Day.

But, instead of attributing India's success today to the liberalism of the British, you could've given some credit to the Indian culture as well.

Without the cultural revolution that was started at the onset of the 20th century, who knows there might not have been Gandhi.

Aquila said...

Why do Southern Canadians persist in referring to Britain as England? This kind of error automatically flags the writer as completely unschooled, ignorant and not worth reading.
Oh, and the lazy excuse “everyone knows what we mean” won’t wash. It merely proclaims that you’re proud of your ignorance.

Dymphna said...

Karmasura --

This was a very small tribute to an amazing country. One cannot talk about it in modern day terms without mentioning England's contribution to India's form of government. India took that and ran with it, creating a nation that is a power in its own right. That India did so is due to its native energy, intelligence, and courage.

I thought I made that point. I also said the Brits were brutal, which they were.

The short shrift India gets here is no different the short shrift my own country gets on its independence day.

This was meant to be but a "salute" for heaven's sake-- I never had any intention of signing up for four years!



You got it wrong on both counts: we're from Baja Canada down here. Calling us "southern canadians" is sooo uncool that I'm embarrassed for ya.

And it will always be England for me, I don't care what anyone else calls it. UK? Bah. Britain? Double bah.

So what if those people from the north really run England's government...I don't give a fig. 'Tis still that English green isle.

I wasn't being lazy; I was being consistent. So go for it, fellow-- continue on bruising your sweet self jumping to conclusions in the dark regarding what I meant.

It's Jolly Old England to me, tra la.

Karmasura said...

Point taken.. well.. I'm just here because we have a common enemy.. with the capital I and all the four letters that follow it in caps lock.. hehe..

"I never had any intention of signing up for four years!"

didn't get that part.. plz explain.

Anonymous said...

Молодец, Dymphna!

This is an excellent piece of writing--I enjoyed it quite a bit. And good for you for labelling the terrorists (correctly) as evil. Too many people skirt around such an obvious fact.

By the way, молодец means "well done."

Dymphna said...


My comment was meant to get across the idea that this tribute to India was meant as a brief "tip of the hat" -- i.e., I had never intended to write anything in depth. For one thing, it would be arrogant.

If you're just here because we have a common enemy, it's not much of a reason for visiting Gates of Vienna. Anti-Muslim sites abound on the internet and I'm sure you can find dozens and dozens who won't offend you by mentioning India.



Glad to see your Russian studies are coming along. Some of my favorite people majored in Russian. Anne Tyler was one. She published her first novel at 22 and has been going strong for decades now.

The fBaron's friend majored in Russian and lived there for a bit. Occasionally we hear interesting second-hand tales of his adventures. When you go off to stay in Mother Russia, we expect to get *first* hand reports. And if things have settled down by then, there's this Georgian vineyard I'll noodge you to visit, too.

Karmasura said...

Hey Dymphna cool it.. I already visit many anti muslim sites.. check the blogs I follow for a start.

Ginro said...

The other commenter is correct in your misuse of the term English. It was, and history determines (unless you wish to revise history), the 'British' Empire that governed India.

The British Empire was run by the English and, so long as it benefited them which it did for a long while, the Scots and various Irish and Welsh that also helped to a large extent in the administration of that Empire. But of course you must call them the English, because otherwise you'd have to accept the fact that your own countrymen were just as much an enthusiastic part of what happened in India as everyone else.

Those Scots and Irish that no longer live in the UK seem to have a very fanciful, and completely unrealistic, mental image of what passes for history in their minds. Here is one example. Many of the deaths at Culloden were carried out by Scot against Scot, and very cheerfully so as well. When I was a member of the Household Brigade, another thing that struck me was the amount of Irishmen, from independent southern Ireland, that flocked to join the Irish Guards and pledge allegiance to H.M. The Queen. Still, mustn't have things like that bandied about now must we? We have an image of the 'cruel barbaric English' to maintain don't we?

I used to live in Ceylon, about ten years after their independance. One of the most frequent things the Tamils used to ask us was when the English were coming back. Why did the Tamils want the English back? Because the English were the only ones that had ever treated them fairly and decently. Funnily enough, wanting the British to take over again was one of the requests of the people of Sierra Leone in recent years. How curious. Doesn't really match these 'Celtic' accusations of the cruel barbaric English though does it?

But these 'English' were so cruel that at an Oxford meeting in 1931, when asked the quesion as to how far he would cut off India from the Empire, Ghandi remarked 'From the Empire, entirely; from the British nation not at all, if I want India to gain and not to grieve.' He added, 'The British Empire is an Empire only because of India. The Emperorship must go and I should love to be an equal partner with Britain, sharing her joys and sorrows."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also said:

"What impelled the Mahatma to take such a positive view of Britain and the British people even as he challenged the Empire and colonial rule?

It was, undoubtedly, his recognition of the elements of fair play that characterised so much of the ways of the British in India. Consider the fact that an important slogan of India's struggle for freedom was that 'Self Government is more precious than Good Government'.

Our notions of the rule of law, of a Constitutional government, of a free press, of a professional civil service, of modern universities and research laboratories have all been fashioned in the crucible where an age old civilisation met the dominant Empire of the day.

These are all elements which we still value and cherish. Our judiciary, our legal system, our bureaucracy and our police are all great institutions, derived from British-Indian administration and they have served the country well.

Our Constitution remains a testimony to the enduring interplay between what is essentially Indian and what is very British in our intellectual heritage.

The idea of India as an inclusive and plural society, draws on both these traditions. The success of our experiment of building a democracy within the framework of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious society will encourage all societies to walk the path we have trodden. In this journey, both Britain and India have learnt from each other and have much to teach the world. This is perhaps the most enduring aspect of the Indo-British encounter.

Space precludes me writing more, but I could go on and on. If you must write about history, and choose to write one-sided revisionist nonsense, then expect the fall-out that ensues.

Mystery Meat said...

In his book "Negation in India" Famous Belgian historian Koenraad Elst wrote:

The Blitzkrieg of the Muslim armies in the first decades after the birth of their religion had such enduring results precisely because the Pagan populations in West- and Central-Asia had no choice (except death) but to convert. Whatever the converts' own resentment, their children grew up as Muslims and gradually identified with this religion. Within a few generations the initial resistance against these forcible converions was forgotten, and these areas became heidenfrei (free from Pagans, cfr. judenfrei).

The Muslim conquests, down to the 16th century, were for the Hindus a pure struggle of life and death. Entire cities were burnt down and the populations massacred, with hundreds of thousands killed in every campaign, and similar numbers deported as slaves. Every new invader made (often literally) his hills of Hindus skulls. Thus, the conquest of Afghanistan in the year 1000 was followed by the annihilation of the Hindu population; the region is still called the Hindu Kush, i.e. Hindu slaughter. The Bahmani sultans (1347-1480) in central India made it a rule to kill 100,000 captives in a single day, and many more on other occasions. The conquest of the Vijayanagar empire in 1564 left the capital plus large areas of Karnataka depopulated. And so on.

According to some calculations, the Indian (subcontinent) population decreased by 80 million between 1000 (conquest of Afghanistan) and 1525 (end of Delhi Sultanate).

Anonymous said...

Dymphna, I assure you that if/when I go to Russia, I will most definitely give you and the Baron many first hand reports :)