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Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Harsh
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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Harsh » 26 Apr 2002 05:49

Originally posted by Carl:
Interesting cavalier attitude toward Indianness. I don't mean to be offensive in any way, but IMHO, this attitude is an interesting illustration of cultural "immigrant" psychology. In order to feel comfortable about one's identity, dilute the concept of nationhood, and feel less guilty (?) about defining oneself with foreigners. Just a thought. But in any case, there's no way I can agree with Mr. Badar, and in fact, I felt a little insulted at having something that meant a lot to me described as "a line on the map".
Actually, in a similar vein I feel the same way as Badar, but instead of identity being based upon ethniticity or language, I act similarly with regards to religion. Personally I feel I have more in common, fundamentally, with someone of Hindu or Indic religious traditions (including Indianized Christianity, Islam, etc) than someone strictly Indian.

For example, when I lived in London, one of my closest friends was a Nepalese Hindu, another an Indonesian (i.e. indigenous, not ex-pat Indian) Hindu. I felt culturally closer to them and their families than I did my other friend, who was a Hyderabadi (Sunni?) Moslem, or another who was a Indo-Guyanese Christian, despite the fact that the first two were not Indian (politically), or of the same ethnic heritage, than of the latter two, despite them being closer to me ethnically and politically.

I dont mean to say that I don't feel comfortable associating with people of other religions, of course, but there was more of a cultural connection that was felt between us.

Its a strange quirk, I know, as most Indians/People of Indian Origin tend to feel at home with people of their own ethnic background (be it Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, wahtever.) But I've found that only my American Punjabi Sikh friends (who make up most of my Indian friends) have the same sort of identity-relationship. Of course, culture doesn’t make for nationality, and I of course would side with my co-naitonalists over co-culturalists.

Peace,
Harshavardhan

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Umrao » 26 Apr 2002 06:28

folks>> let me be candid,
The day a police inspector makes us feel that he cares for a fellow Indian.

The day Indian consulate treats us like we are a individuals who ought to be respected

The day the customs guy thinks we ought to be trusted

The day the leaders repect the constituents need to be served

The day when our govt will stand up for its citizens security, like the way its does for Sonia or Mulayam or LKji

Then everybody would subscibe to
'Garv say kaho hum Hindustani hai'

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 26 Apr 2002 06:51

Harsh,

I have no great issues with points 1-7.

Point 8 however does not seem to make sense.

1. India opposing blocking American moves anywhere is clearly not in US interest, and vice versa. The only other option is we Indians agree with America on every major issue. Put other ways one of us loses our sovereignity and have a relationship similar to UK - US.

2. Indian agriculture/industry/companies dominating over American entities is clearly no in US interest and vice versa.

3. American hegemony over the whole world is clearly in US interest. Is it in India's interest?

In an ideal world what you would say would be true. In a truly free enterprise kind of world, there would be no clash of interest. But then national identity would cease to mean much apart from the cultural sense. Probably not going to happen within our lifetimes.

Was 9/11 aftermath in American interest, India's interest. Was the Afghan jihad (agaisnt Russia) in India/ America's interest.
Partition was clearly in British interests, was it in India's interest.

If I was an American citizen i would be p*ssed if my government gave weightage to India's interest as much as America's. After all the condition for American citizenship is to break of all ties with country of birth/origin.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby shiv » 26 Apr 2002 07:14

Originally posted by Nandu:
Originally posted by jkgeorge:
[b]P.S. Kattabommu mentioned that Ravana is worshipped in some parts of South India. I am from kerala and although im not hindu by religion, im quite familiar with most hindu traditions. is this practice prevalent in tamil nadu?
I don't think such a practice exists at all.[/b]
George and Nandu, kattabommu is right. It exists. I know people called Ravanan. No specific insult intended at anyone here- but many of us don't even know what other Indians are like. The damn country is too big and diverse or vice versa - we are too small. Either way - its the only one we have and we need to actively help look after it.

In my experience its the army types who get posted everywhere who know India and Indian diversity best. A lot of politicians are pretty good - better than many of us who have spent years swotting for degrees and plum jobs.

On my med college bboard there was a comical exchange of views on the Ram temple issue by a bunch of highly educated ignorami who knew little of what the other guy was trying to say. Ram is called Ram in North India. Rama in Karnataka and Andhra and Ramar in Tamil Nadu - with the 'r' being a suffix added as a symbol of respect.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby shiv » 26 Apr 2002 07:28

Originally posted by Ashutosh S. Rajekar:
No Chinese AFAICT would come to do high-school/college in India.

Excuse me for persisting with the "correction" mode. There is a sizable Indian Chinese community in India. Ethnic Chinese who migrated from China generations ago. And they are not merely in Kolkata - but spread out too. I know a practising lawyer who s apeaks both Hindi and Kannada better than me and also taught me all the Chinese curse words I need to know.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Nandu » 26 Apr 2002 08:08

Originally posted by shiv:
George and Nandu, kattabommu is right. It exists. I know people called Ravanan.[/QB]
I am from the south and have lived in TN quite long. I am aware that the Dravidian movement did try to make a hero out of Ravanan, but I wasn't aware that any Ravana-worship existed prior to that. Thanks for the information.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Harsh » 26 Apr 2002 08:19

Atish,

You get me wrong man.

When I say I want America to have a pro-India policy, I mean just that - not that America should have an "India-first" policy or one which is fundamentally Indian. A nation looks after itself first.

Besides, neither I, nor Indian-Americans in general, are in a position to change American foreign policy in a far-reaching way.

What our community can do is combat other interest-lobbies, such as the Pak- or Chinese-lobby, and act as a medium to faciliate a meeting of minds on areas of common interests between India and America, like for example, trade, S. Asian policy, etc.

Both nations should mind their own interests. What we can do is help bring those interests in line. This is what I mean.

Regards,
Harsh

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Umrao » 26 Apr 2002 08:24

Originally posted by shiv:
Originally posted by Ashutosh S. Rajekar:
No Chinese AFAICT would come to do high-school/college in India.

Excuse me for persisting with the "correction" mode. There is a sizable Indian Chinese community in India. Ethnic Chinese who migrated from China generations ago. And they are not merely in Kolkata - but spread out too. I know a practising lawyer who s apeaks both Hindi and Kannada better than me and also taught me all the Chinese curse words I need to know.
Yes agree with shiv. Folks those who are Atlanta and Chicago might have visited "Hot WoK" restaurant, the owner is a proud Indo Chinese from Calcutta / Bombay who migrated to US and now does booming business in Indo Chinese (the Manchurian is real finger lickin) food.
There was a article published in rediff about him some time ago!!

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Johann » 26 Apr 2002 08:25

There is no doubt that the shared geography and history of assimilation has left the people of the subcontinent with *something* that they alone share with each other- something that people refer to civilisation as shorthand. The republic of india are those areas and peoples of the subcontinent that shared the additional common history of european (mostly British) paramountaincy that became part of a consciously diverse and independant nation-state in 1947.

While there are shared things that more Indians than not hold in common, Badar has a point. But badar should have expanded that history shapes lines, and lines of any duration in turn shape history that comes after their establishment. In this world of nation states people one side of a line will end up sharing things that people on the other side of that line dont.

If for example the British Empire had incorporated Nepal and Bhutan, or had not chosen to run Ceylon as an administratively seperate unit - we'd see people from those areas declaring their indian-ness on this thread. Instead today they declare another identity today. Part of the colonial experience was the definition of a 'modern' *national* Indian identity - something that didnt exist before because the idea of nations and states as we understand them today didnt really exist anywhere before the 18th century. The success of that new national identity depended on the shared civilisational history of those areas of the subcontinent under the Raj.

The republic of india is almost big enough that many people automatically equate india the civilisation with india the republic. Some groups will judge themselves being more representative of a perceived ideal of the 'core' indian civilisation and feel they ought to have a greater say than others in defining what the republic should be. A belief in a one to one relationship might cause more problems that in the republic every group is a minority depending on how you slice things.

There are religio-ethno-cultural, civilisational and national identities whose boundaries usually fail to neatly coincide. Perhaps some groups (such as such as say the Brahmins of the republic) find self definition easier than others because they dont have to struggle with overlapping and conflicting boundaries.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Harsh » 26 Apr 2002 09:17

Johann makes a good point. India the country is not necessarily totally representative of India the civilization.

Especially amongst 2nd+ gen (hereafter "2+g") non-Indian S. Asians, I know from experience this causes a lot of confusion.

For example, all my 2+g Bangladeshi American friends identify themselves as "Indian" half the time. Only on items of Indo-Bangladeshi contention (like cricket matches) do they go out of their way and call themselves Bangladeshi. Though they tend to be nostalgic with a "Bengali" affiliation, more than anything.

Among some 2+g Pak friends of mine, they too mingle with "desis", though they usually identify themselves as Pak. I've never met a rabidly anti-Indian 2+g Pak in America. England, however, is a different story.

Also, every 2+gs I've met who are (non-Indian) South/Southeast Asian and Hindu identify themselves as "Hindu" or "Indian" first, as opposed to whatever they hell they may be.

Interestingly, I've never met a 2+g desi-American who isn't smitten with the hope of a de-partitioned "India". Even a Pathan-Afghan "desi" I know shares this view.

-=-=-=-=-=-

To recap:
If you're 2+g Indian American, chances are you have an identity crisis.

If you're a 2+g, non-Indian, South-Asian American (and not a religious fundie), chances are you have even more of one.

If you're a 2+g, non-Indian, South-Asian, Hindu-American (and not a religious fundie), chances are you're plain confused.

Regards,
Harsh
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The 1962 Sino-Indian War Website.
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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 26 Apr 2002 09:18

Harsh,

You are right. That most of us as individuals or even collectively cannot make a difference. Extending that logic we can say national identity is not that important and therefore the whole point of this thread is gone. We should all concentrate on making money, making love and suchlike. I dont have a quarrel with this attitude.

But for many people it does. It does to most soldiers for example. I hope most soldiers dont take risks for their lives just coz they get paid for it or adventurism.

Since American and Indian (or any two major countries) interests are not contiguous there are bound to be conflicts of interest. It is a person's stance/actions on these isssues that decide his/her nationality. I see no reason why a fundamentally pro- India policy is good for the US. They have been doing farely well without it even post cold war. But then I dont give ahoot about US interests (and I dont expect Americans to care).

As soon as 9/11 happened my Indian American friends were devastated and depressed. And some of them were only concerned about how it would affect the subcontinent. A couple were were downright happy. Therein lies the rub. Both cant be right. Of course one way is to say all that is really not important for a person unless he is a maker/shaper of policy. But then does anything really matter. Its beating about the bush.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby ragupta » 26 Apr 2002 09:21

Are you Indian?

Yes

If yes, why do you say that? What makes you Indian? What constitutes Indianness?

1. Can be easily identified as one by religo-ethnic-cultural criteria. Perhaps this is one reason, but considering that even europeans with similar color, feel nationalism and define themselves by the name defined by the line on the map, I think at least this would not effect the emotions which run through me.
2. Feel it in my blood.
3. It may be a line on the map, but there are so much of emotions with it. Hard to define, It comes when those line are attacked, it comes one fellow Indians are effected, the list is too long.


None of the other question apply to me. However that does not mean I don't have any greivences against the state, I have been effected by injustice. Also feel there are several things which need to be improved and everything (well almost) need to change with time. But I will work for it. I got benefitted by the sacrifices of the past generation of Indians, I need to contribute to make it better.

I am trying to follow the phrase:
Be the change you want to see.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 26 Apr 2002 09:49

Here is my market efficiency theory analogy.
Very small summary.

1. The weak form of Indianness:
Generally Indian by ethnicity. Prediliction towards Indian cultural traditions. Have fondness for the country and things Indian. Very little or no national feeling. Sometimes tend to be apolitical/ humanist. Interests of Indian nation state come after host of other things, sense of fair play and justice, some other country's interest, or interests of the subcontinent as a whole(including Pakistan), environment et al.
Most common among overseas Indians. (I think even Mohajirs belong in this category)

2. Semi strong form of Indianness:
Almost always of Indian ethnicity. Strong sense of cultural belonging. Tied by language and religion. Strong interests in Indian nation state and great concern for the country and its future. Concern for the Indian nation state comes after or only equal to some other ideology or interest group. Might be religion (including Hinduism), linguistic/ethnic group, region (including extra territorial), ideology(communism for example) or other great cause like Palestine (no flames please best I could think of). The Khasi by blood, Indian by accident is a succinct slogan that depicts this mentality. Most numerous and powerful group.

3. The strong form of Indianness:
Always of Indian ethnicity. Strong prediliction towards things Indian (not as strong as group 2). Nationalist in the traditional sense. Kissinger style thinking of national interests being paramount. All other ideologies/ affiliations secondary to the interests of the Indian nation state. Generally tend to be more socially liberal in outlook. Prickly pride in Indianness.

Of course the above are generalizations. Just something I noticed. I am not making value judgements on which is the 'right' attitude.

Of course then there are the market anomalies.
:)

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Johann » 26 Apr 2002 10:02

Atish

What is 'Indian ethnicity'? How does it relate to nepalese, Sri lankans or bhutanese 'ethnicity'?

Because if you go by an anthropological sense ancestry or relio-cultural background things get problematic. You will end up with people inside the borders of the republic who you cut out of being indian, or you end up demanding that people inside those other countries show loyalty to the indian state.

Perhaps you are referring to national identity.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 26 Apr 2002 10:25

Ethnicity as used earlier refers to people who are descendents of people who live in/lived in areas inside the borders of the present version of the Indian state or the British Indian Empire (excluding Burma, Sri Lanka, but not Bhutan or Nepal).

I am not excluding anybody or demanding anything. Just my observations. Overseas Indians may be category 3. Indians born and bred for generations in India may be in category 1. There are people of Indian ethnicity (Pakis) who deny being Indian. They dont have the weak form of Indianness. Some other category (schizofrenic :) ). Indianness is not a qualification or virtue (3 is not better than 1). Just something that is.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Harsh » 26 Apr 2002 11:44

Atish,

I think we generally agree, but regardless, I am going to be more explicit in what I mean.

I thought I made clear that I don't wish for a fundamentally pro-India policy for America which generally harms American interests. Perhaps I should have spelt it out clearer: It is my personal (not to be taken as blanket statement of Americans, or Indian-Americans in general) fundamental belief that America should have friendly (hence the "pro-" prefix) relations with India.

In the balance of fundamental-ideals, self-beneficial macro-economics, and self-beneficial geo-policy, which I consider 3 major factors of national patriotism in dealing with foreign policy, it is my belief that America may have to trade off economic and political benefits in the name of (my) ideals, in the process of being India-friendly. Since I am American, and since, theoretically, America as a democracy is the collective will of the people, I am very much entitled to this opinion, and should do what I can to influence American foreign policy thusly

Let me explain in more detail...
I said before that I do not define national progress purely in terms of economics, but also in terms of ideals. India and America the nation states are borne of the same ideals (democracy, pluralism, etc) - for this reason alone should steps be taken to harmonize the two countries.

Further, since I am of Indic civilizational background/influence I feel as much offense in harming Indic civilization (India, as was said, is the largest and most inclusive example of the 'Indic' civilization) as an American of European-background would, with regards to Europe. I am not a Euro-Centrist, or a Western-civilizational-centrist as most Americans are. By nature of by race, ancestry, religion, upbringing, and the morals I have personally chosen, I am an Indo-centrist*, and my civilizational worldview is as Indo-centric, as the American of European descent is Euro-centric.

*[tangent]
To pre-empt the argument I've had altogether too many times with some in this forum (and stil have nightmares about), let me state for the record and in finality that there is nothing wrong about being an Indo-centrist, especially as an American. Period.

Civilizational-centrism is not to be equated with civilizational-chauvinism. To argue as such is to be intellectually dishonest. Centricity in this case means being central to, while recognizing that others are equally valid - pluralism, unity-in-diversity, and the like. Chauvinism in this case is treating your world-view as superior, and/or others as inferior.

And when I say, "especially as an American" I mean this: America is a land of immigrants and cultural diversity. This country is not the product of one religious, ethnic, racial, or national group, but a medley of individuals. I am not going to, nor am I expected to, conform to the civilization/religion/etc. of the majority. Thusly, I can as confidently strut my Indo-centricity, as much as another American can strut his ____-Centricity.

I've noticed that those who argue against this idea tend themselves to have conflicting interests/patriotism. I see no conflict in my own American patriotism and Indo-centricity.
[/tangent]

Back to my pre-tangent point: Furthermore, I consider India to be the motherland of my religion. It is my own personal bias (and bias need not be a negative thing) to egg American policy to be pro-India for this reason.

You can draw the parallel by American Jews and Christians influence in American foreign policy toward Israel - and though I support Israel, the economic/political benefits of this vehemently pro-Israel policy to America are downright iffy - and when you base policy boons on strictly economic or political motives, without factoring in ideals, America's Isreal-bias, can be considered a negative foreign policy. However, the 'ideal' factor more than makes up for this, to us Israel-lovers, and likewise will be made up to us Indian-lovers.

-=-=-=-=-

Being familiar with (and a product of) both cultures and countries, I, and Indian-Americans who think like me, are in a good position to proactively bring necessary elements of both countries together to develop a mutually beneficial policy, or at the very least, a policy that doesn't harm the other. In general, Indian Americans do just that.

Peace out,
Harsh
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The 1962 Sino-Indian War Website.
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[edited- out some of my rambling]

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 26 Apr 2002 11:46

Wow,
I mean impressive arguments.
Somewhat new perspective.
Atish.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Sunil » 26 Apr 2002 20:26

I sense a purely historical definition of national identity as having weakenesses in the Indian context.

The republic did inherit its boundaries in part from the paramountacy, and the paramountacy inherited its boundaries from the Mughal empire, and that had some ill understood inheritance from the Delhi Sultanates and so on into the ages before that. This argument seems okay but it smoothes over the difficult transition period, and in most cases the transition period has determined the `shape' of the country.

The "lines on a map" approach is reductionist. I feel that in modern times with the increased travel and information exchange, in some sense borders are less able to constrain national consciousness.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Badar » 26 Apr 2002 21:54

Hi,

Interesting cavalier attitude toward Indianness. I don't mean to be offensive in any way, but IMHO, this attitude is an interesting illustration of cultural "immigrant" psychology

Carl, What is 'cultural immigrant psychology'? Could you elborate?

I of course would side with my co-naitonalists over co-culturalists

Harsh, wouldn't it be better if we simply side with whoever/whatever seems to be correct/better on the issue at hand rather than committing our support to some group, weather right or wrong, based upon ethnicity, culture, religion or nationality? I submit that as a principle truth and honesty to oneself are bigger and more important than loyalty to any ethnic, language, religion, culture or national group.

Shiv, if these questions (or a similar set of them) were posted on American Rakshak, UK Rakshak or even Russian Rakshak discussion board - do you think that the replies would be any different from what we see here? What about seemingly homogenous countries like France, Germany or Sweden? Would the defination that they come up with be any better than a line on a map? I wonder.

Why are 'we' so worried about defining who and what exactly 'we' are? I am that I am.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Johann » 26 Apr 2002 23:47

Atish, maybe this is semantic innovation on your part and I shouldnt stand in the way, but in a country as diverse as India I would think it is hard to use the term 'ethnic'. There is no such thing as 'ethnically American'. There isnt even any such thing as 'ethnically British'. There is a British national identity, a pan-British culture, and there is British birth. But as far ethnicity goes there's english, scottish, welsh, irish (often subdivided into catholic and protestant), generic asian, generic white, indian, pak, chinese, afro-carribean, etc.

If nagas are 'ethnically indian', what does it say about almost as many nagas who live in Myanmar? If Tamils in the north of ceylon are 'ethnically sri lankan', what does that say about tamils in the south of India? It gets messy when you define national identity in terms of 'ethnicity'. Its not that I want to nitpick - its just that history has shown that sort of thing frequently gets people and nations into a great deal of bloodshed.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Wouldnt you say Sunil that paramountancy and the even greater integration after independance incorporated the south (specifically what we now call Kerala and TN) and the NE politically in ways that had never been acheived before. Not to mention adding entirely new territories and peoples such as the Andaman and Nicobar islands? The lack of violence that accompanied this integration in the south was of course on account of the depth of civilisational links. I cant see any reason If paramountancy maintained the exact shape of the mughal empire at its peak why TN, malabar, etc would relate to the republic any differently than Nepal, Sri Lanka, or Bhutan today.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Agnimitra » 26 Apr 2002 23:47

Originally posted by Badar:
Carl, What is 'cultural immigrant psychology'? Could you elborate?
I was referring to the way people seek to 'justify' their identity in the society the live in, especially when their cultural identity is pegged to a foreign nation/civilization. They usually end up attempting to dilute the 'host' nation's definition of itself (diluting the 'core' culture).

In modern times, you can see that happening to newly 'multicultural' societies like the UK, with a large number of Asians who want to be assertive about their Asianness. Already being "British" has to now be tailored to be politically correct. In India, this dilution is done under the concept of 'secularism', which prevents any assertive political or cultural expression of 'Hindu' pride, because it tends to conflict with another community for historical reasons. IMHO, when carried too far, this forced silence and timidity castrates the core national culture.

Badar:>>I submit that as a principle truth and honesty to oneself are bigger and more important than loyalty to any ethnic, language, religion, culture or national group.

Where does one draw the line? I'm not quite sure myself. But the fact is that the individual is inextricably linked to his cultural tree, like a leaf.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Sunil » 27 Apr 2002 00:13

Hi Johann,

> Wouldnt you say Sunil that paramountancy and the even greater integration after independance incorporated the south (specifically what we now call Kerala and TN) and the NE politically in ways that had never been acheived before. Not to mention adding entirely new territories and peoples such as the Andaman and Nicobar islands? The lack of violence that accompanied this integration in the south was of course on account of deeper civilisational links. I cant see any reason If paramountancy maintained the exact shape of the mughal empire at its peak why TN, malabar, etc would relate to the republic any differently than Nepal today.

Yes that seems about right and by contrast maintaining the paramountcy in the exact shape or form of the Mughal empire would most likely do away with the Pakistan problem.

This is the transition period part that i posted about earlier. I feel that the transition period between `empires' does more to `shape' nations than purely historical or geographic compulsions, atleast in the indian context (i do not feel comfortable talking about other places).

All in all, I am in reasonable agreement with Badar's answer to the question:

> Why do you say that you are Indian?

" Because, I was taught to say that even before I knew what 'India' and 'Indian' meant. Now it is almost a reflex reaction - "Are you Indian? Yes".

I noticed a point about cavalier attitude towards Indianness and i feel i disagree with that. Generally speaking india, communities tend to be insular. This insularity permits very diverse strains of people to co-exist. So in that sense i do not find the comment cavalier.

However it is fair to point out that with modernization, barriers are breaking down. People and ideas are travelling to places they have never been before. It remains to be seen how people in India handle this sudden infusion of diversity into places where it wasn't before..

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby krsai » 27 Apr 2002 00:17

Shiv, Ram went electronic since the first 'r' words appeared in tamil I guess. Though it might read raman or ramar in tamil, it is spelt e-raman, and e-ramar resp. :)

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Johann » 27 Apr 2002 00:33

However it is fair to point out that with modernization, barriers are breaking down. People and ideas are travelling to places they have never been before. It remains to be seen how people in India handle this sudden infusion of diversity into places where it wasn't before..
It seems to me that Bombay and the Indian NE provide two possible directions. The difference it seems is economic dynamism that allows less skilled locals to compete. That seems to amelieorate the intensity of the locals struggle for cultural and political primacy.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 27 Apr 2002 01:10

Johann,
It is semantic innovation on my part. I could use a better word for ethnicity perhaps or go through a list of few hundred odd communities that I hoped to include, and a few that I wish to exclude.

Remember theories are generalizations (for non natural sciences at least. I think the meaning is amply clear to most BRites. As for Sri Lankan Tamils, they are descendents of people who lived in India within their own memory. Therefore they qualify.

Atish.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Sridhar » 27 Apr 2002 01:17

Badar:

I see your point now and agree with you. Ultimately, the line on the map defines us. Why it is not apparent to us is that we take the line as given and then start looking beyond that.

Beyond that, it is civic nationalism that defines us rather than any denominational nationalism ((c) Jaswant Singh). If we start looking for denominational bases (that include culture, language, religions etc.) we would find that there are more things that distinguish any two Indians drawn at random than bind them together. But if we look for civic factors (manifestations of which I gave in my last post), we do find things in common. That was my point about Kargil, Agni etc. Hope I am making sense.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby SK Mody » 27 Apr 2002 02:34

Badar wrote:
Why are 'we' so worried about defining who and what exactly 'we' are? I am that I am.
Quite true, but what you _are_ is defined by what your relationship is to others and to nature in general. That is, you _are_ your relationship with the your surroundings. Indianness or any other x-ness is a feature of one's relationship with his surroundings. I think the main question that Shiv posed was "What constitutes Indianness?" rather than "Are _you_ Indian?"

Note that according to this, any notion of Indianness is independent of the physical make up of the person. Of course people have an inborn "psycho-physiological infrastructure" - (the structure of one's body and brain) and one can speculate that some infrastructures are more prone to the types of relationships that are called Indian, and others less prone.

I submit that as a principle truth and honesty to oneself are bigger and more important than loyalty to any ethnic, language, religion, culture or national group.
Any idea of Indianness must be consistent with the truth, hence the question of prefering truth over Indianness does not arise.

To even begin answering the question of what constitutes Indianness would be highly ambitious for a single person, since few people have experienced or observed even a significant fraction of the diversity that lies within the borders of India. But as Sunil Sainis pointed out "barriers are breaking down. People and ideas are travelling to places they have never been before", so one can only hope that some common ethos will emerge out of that. Obviously no one is going to stand up one fine day and announce that he has found a "definition" of Indianness. It is something which has to "emerge" over time.

Also I think that Indianness as a concept need not apply to each and every person that resides in India or claims Indian roots. Indianness is just that - Indianness - a concept. There may be people who are capable of being Indian at times and not particularly Indian at other times. In fact it could be true that a majority of people living within Indian borders are not particularly Indian but this would not take anything away from the concept of Indianness.

Sridhar wrote:
Beyond that, it is civic nationalism that defines us rather than any denominational nationalism ((c) Jaswant Singh).
This is the last resort option and will be true if no other idea of Indianness emerges. But if it came to that then I feel that there will be nothing unique about India anymore. It will simply be one among 150 indistinguishable nations.

Regards,
Sandeep.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Sridhar » 27 Apr 2002 02:47

Sandeep:

You are chasing an impossible dream if you want us to have a sense of denominational nationalism. Also dangerous, since suppressing the diversity of people only leads to separatist thoughts. Our own experience has been that allowing diversity to flourish has been more successful than trying to subsume it into one national identity.

Most successful democracies in the world today have their identities based on civic nationalism, even if they had been formed due to denominational reasons.

The best example of how denominational nationalism can go wrong is TSP, which split within 25 years of its formation due to its desire to suppress diversity and forge one common identity.

We need to distinguish ourselves not on the basis of identity, but on the basis of our success. After all, Somalia or Burundi have a stronger sense of common identity than us. And the USA and Canada are more indistinguishable than not. Take your pick.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby SK Mody » 27 Apr 2002 04:34

Sridhar wrote:
Most successful democracies in the world today have their identities based on civic nationalism, even if they had been formed due to denominational reasons.
I for one think that there is a great deal more to, say, American nationalism than mere civic nationalism. Mere civic nationalism could not have given birth to the ideas of individual freedom which exist in America. I feel that the American ethos arises from something that is much deeper - almost religious (in a sense that transcends any christian sectarian meaning of the word).

You are chasing an impossible dream if you want us to have a sense of denominational nationalism. Also dangerous, since suppressing the diversity of people only leads to separatist thoughts. Our own experience has been that allowing diversity to flourish has been more successful than trying to subsume it into one national identity.
Please, you are putting words into my mouth. Something more than civic nationalism does not neccesarily mean denominational or religious nationalism in any sectarian sense - but it is something deeper than civic nationalism.

The reason that civic nationalism in India will neccesarily be a very shallow (and perhaps undesirable) one is precisely because of the fact that the Indian Republic is a "borrowed" one. Even though its formation was a reaction to conquest, it relies on ideas that were bequeathed to us by the conquerors themselves. So as someone said earlier in this thread - we are in a transitional period. If civic nationalism has to have any meaning at all it has to be accompanied by a deeper movement (I don't quite know what) which will also have an effect on the nature of the republic.

Also, just because an idea of Indiannness exists it does not mean that diversity is supressed. As I said in my earlier post - Indianness is consistent with truth. Somehow the words "suppression" and "truth" don't go together.

In the case of America, civic nationalism went together with - in fact was a result of - the deeper feeling that underlies "Americanness". Moreover this nationalism is quite consistent with "diversity". As I mentioned in my previous post - not everybody may want (or for that matter is capable of) imbibing this nationalism but that doesn't matter as long as it _exists_.

For the Americans there is no conflict between civic nationalism and "American nationalism" - the former is the result of the latter.

Regards,
Sandeep.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 27 Apr 2002 04:37

Some not too popular lines of poetry from Iqbal:

Gurbat me ho agar hum rehta hai dil watan mein
Samjho wahi hamein bhi dil hai jahan hamara

(gurbat is foreign land)

Koi baat to hai humme hasti mit-ti nahi hamari
sadiyon rehan hai dushman daur-e-jehan hamara

Iqbal koi marham apna nahi jehan mein
Maloom kya kisi ko dard-e-nihaan hamara

Somewhat relevant to this thread.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Agnimitra » 27 Apr 2002 06:01

Atish, ironic that you should quote Allama Iqbal on a thread about Indianness :) But he makes a fascinating study in human self-definition. Here's another quote of his:

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS AT THE ALL INDIA MUSLIM LEAGUE SESSION AT ALLAHABAD IN 1930
"I, therefore, demand the formation of a consolidated Muslim State in the best interest of India and Islam."

As an Indian under colonial rule, in his search for 'direction' and the awakening of the 'mard-e-khaaki', he travelled to?--Iran, the Arab world and Andalus. At an intellectual level, he yearned for the resurrection of Islamic power. He wouldn't mind if the seat of that power was in Baghdad or Isfahan. A vicarious feeling of pride in the civilization he 'converted' to. Parallel to these deep and passionate yearnings, he wrote in contempt of his defeated ancestors (his grandfather was Kashmiri pundit).

Personally, I find the whole intellectual movement behind Indian Islamism and its related pan-Islamism very fascinating in its psychology.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Harsh » 27 Apr 2002 06:13

Originally posted by Badar:

I of course would side with my co-naitonalists over co-culturalists

Harsh, wouldn't it be better if we simply side with whoever/whatever seems to be correct/better on the issue at hand rather than committing our support to some group, weather right or wrong, based upon ethnicity, culture, religion or nationality? I submit that as a principle truth and honesty to oneself are bigger and more important than loyalty to any ethnic, language, religion, culture or national group.
Dude, I'm talking about siding with my co-nationalists in things like football matches, or boundary disputes, and the like.

I mean, if we're going to talk in hypotheticals, should India take it upon itself to commit wholescale genocide of the Nepalese people, I am not going to keep my mouth shut. There is a difference between patroitism and blind patriotism.

Regards,
Harsh
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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby svinayak » 27 Apr 2002 06:20

Personally, I find the whole intellectual movement behind Indian Islamism and its related pan-Islamism very fascinating in its psychology
I have been researching this movement for some time and actually is the reason for the schrezophrinic character of Pakistan. Read Maulana Maududi ( 1903-1979)( his disciple was Zia-ul-Haq) and also Sayeed Qutb ( Egyptian founder for Muslim Brother hood and inspiration of Al Queda). Allama Iqbal intellectual interaction with the prevailing Islamic nationalism mixed with the raising socialism in 1930-40s created confusing visions of nationhood in a nation of Muslims who were heavily influenced by their pre-islamic culture( indic).
Jinnah was inspired by all of them and could not put a coherent vision of a nation.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 27 Apr 2002 06:20

Iqbal was not a consistent man. Good poet though. I am aware of the irony. Same poem has this line:

Ai aab-e-raud-e-Ganga wo din yaad hai tujhko
Utra tere kinaare jab kaarwa hamara

where denies his Indian roots. Either refers to Aryan invasion or later Mughal/Turkish invasions. Thats why i quoted him selectively. His later writing particularly Shikwa is wooly headed in my belief and makes no sense. Not that I am a scholar on Iqbal. Let us not diverge this thread.

I think this vision of India is more than a civilization state, but of an immigrant civilization state. Where the immigrant still considers oneself an immigrant after tens of generations and hundreds of years. Again I make no value judgements.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 27 Apr 2002 06:29

Harsh,

I am all confused. who are your co nationalists, and who are co-culturalists.

Atish.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Agnimitra » 27 Apr 2002 06:40

atish:
A look at the dilemma and confusion of the Subcontinental Muslim was worth a digression in this thread, coz it demonstrates the levels at which one can define oneself (and the potential conflicts between those levels).

acharya:
I think the "schizophrenia" of the Indian Muslim can be explained by 2 facts: 1) The socio-political nature of the impact Islam made in Indian history--using Dhimmitude...2) The civilizational component in Islam, wherein the convert is required to (ideally) 'forget' his pre-Islamic past (Jihalat) and become like the Holy Prophet's tribe (Arab).

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Atish » 27 Apr 2002 06:58

Originally posted by Carl:
atish:
A look at the dilemma and confusion of the Subcontinental Muslim was worth a digression in this thread, coz it demonstrates the levels at which one can define oneself (and the potential conflicts between those levels).

acharya:
I think the "schizophrenia" of the Indian Muslim can be explained by 2 facts: 1) The socio-political nature of the impact Islam made in Indian history--using Dhimmitude...2) The civilizational component in Islam, wherein the convert is required to (ideally) 'forget' his pre-Islamic past (Jihalat) and become like the Holy Prophet's tribe (Arab).
Carl,
We are not permitted to discuss religion at BR. This is perilously close to discussing religion.
Also I am not sure whether the concept of the immigrant state is limited to Muslims, nor does it apply to every Muslim sect/ community.
Atish.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Agnimitra » 27 Apr 2002 07:03

atish, i guess you're right. it could pull away from the main purpose of the forum. but i wish there were other organized forums that could discuss "sensitive" topics in a serious, sincere and frank manner. some of these sensitive topics are definitely relevant, and its no wonder why so many threads of BR come "perilously" close to discussing them.

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Kuttan » 27 Apr 2002 08:22

A look at the dilemma and confusion of the Subcontinental Muslim was worth a digression in this thread, coz it demonstrates the levels at which one can define oneself (and the potential conflicts between those levels).
OK, Admins:

Mr/Ms/Other "Carl" can read the Forum Guidelines, and he/she/it can read Rakesh's thread about Forum etiquette.

Please consider the above quote, and "Carl"'s most recent post, and please consider what he/she/it is doing. Now if I let myself express my opinions in my unfailingly gentle and polite terms :) , the thread and I will probably get deleted.

Don't people who do what "Carl" is doing, deserve some pointed discussion?

I understand that the Admins are busy people. But isn't this what the Gujarat Police are accused of doing, and isn't that their excuse too? Why not ACT to stop the people who so blatantly and arrogantly ignore the Forum guidelines?

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Re: Indianness - a (simple?) survey

Postby Kuttan » 27 Apr 2002 08:24

Carl:

but i wish there were other organized forums that could discuss "sensitive" topics in a serious, sincere and frank manner.
I am sure there are. One's Throne, for example. Put a mirror in front, and discuss away!!!


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