On gay rights and gay marriage -

Passing no value judgments here. But the debates on this topic cannot be divorced from the larger narrative of long-term secularization of life, and decline of hetero-sexual marriage as a religious bond
This in turn cannot be divorced from how we view ourselves.

Do we see ourselves as isolated, atomized individuals? Or as a part of an unbroken chain?

Does our interest in the universe begin and end with our lives?

These are important questions
When marriage ceases to be a "religious" bond, it reduces into merely a legal formalization of a romantic relationship. Kids are incidental. Not necessary.

With that mindset, it is inevitable that gay unions acquire a certain equivalence with heterosexual relationships
In traditional terms, marriage was a great project

Because raising the next generation was central to it.

Marriage as an institution was revered for precisely that reason.

That's why the whole village turned up to wish you on the undertaking
Marriage now is increasingly viewed not as a project, but finding a fun guy or a fun girl to spend one's life with (even if it is still viewed as a lifetime commitment)
So as the definition of heterosexual marriages has changed, people find it very hard to even understand - how are homosexual marriages any different?

In the new normal, marriage is just a legal stamp on one's sexual alliance
So a lot of the rhetoric on "gay rights" and "gay marriage" has to be understood as a part of this larger narrative of secularization, materialism, and a general decline of interest in the hereafter

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More from @shrikanth_krish

19 Sep
A counter-factual question

What if Indus-valley civilization had not been discovered in the 1920s by John Marshall-led ASI?

How different would Indian politics be today?

Before IVC the narrative was "Aryans civilized the Indian aborigines"

Post IVC, the narrative became "Aryans displaced / destroyed a pre-existing Harappan civ - possibly Dravidian speaking"
Had IVC never been discovered, we could have stayed with the first narrative

That might have meant less resistance to Aryan / brahminical culture in the body politic

Less resistance to "Sanskritization" in the MN Srinivas sense
Read 4 tweets
19 Sep
In a recent discussion with @omarali50, there was discussion on the "central message" of the Vedas

I don't think it was adequately answered

It raises an important question - how do Vedantic ideas percolate daily life

Some thoughts on "quotidian" manifestations of these ideas
Now when we talk of Vedantic literature there are two ideas that sort of stand out -

1. The notion that the truth is eluding us because we are in the grip of avidya, ignorance. (this is central to Advaitin interpretations)

E.g. Brahma satyam Jagat Mithya

2. Another notion that sort of gets delineated in more theistic Vedantic interpretations is the notion of spontaneous divine grace

This comes in the Brahma sutras (2.1.33 I think) , where it is suggested that creation is the result of the BhagavAn's "Leela" (his playfulness)
Read 8 tweets
16 Sep
Thread on politics

The origins of Left vs Right divide stem back to the last days of Roman republic when you had the Populares vs Optimates

The conservative aristocrats who upheld Senate power (Cato, Cicero)

The populist strongmen who wanted to undermine elites (Julius Caesar)
So in the Roman Republic -

The Right was represented by the senate aristocrats. The elites. For whom the Republic was sacred. Who feared concentration of power in an individual. Who feared populism

The Left was represented by Caesar - the populist strongman
So the Right vs Left divide was one of "Elites vs masses"

You could say it was something v similar even 1800 years later during French revolution

You had the old world conservatives who were skeptical of the Revolution (Edmund Burke)

And the radicals who favored it (Tom Paine)
Read 22 tweets
12 Sep
On this Periyar speech

The deeper frustration he articulates here is

Why is the 3% doing so great despite being numerically overpowered by a factor of 32?

That's the subtext

The answer to that is "cultural capital".
Not wilful exploitation

He never got that
Not all groups start at the same level

Groups develop certain cultural and intellectual predilections which can be v sticky

In the pre-industrial world, these differences didn't matter much

With the advent of modernity, cultural capital translated to economic rifts
My hunch is that the brahmin groups that settled down in tamil country at different points between 0 CE and 1000 CE were "different" in culture right at the start of their engagement with the tamil country

They were different then. They are different now
Read 7 tweets
12 Sep
Much of H-Right's discourse is centered on countering the "Abrahamic" threat


But far less time is spent in developing an intellectual counter to "Liberalism" - the dominant ideology of not just the West, but of modernity more broadly
There's a lack of clarity on how to engage with fundamental Liberal premises

Be it the idea of the individual
The notion of equality
The idea of progress
The focus on "material riches" / an obsession with reality and denial of the "invisible" / Soul
H-RIght tends to think everything through the prism of "Abrahamic vs pagan", "monotheist vs polytheist"

But Liberalism (even though it has been influenced by Christianity) is a more formidable rival

Its premises are not predicated on an acceptance of the Abrahamic religions
Read 4 tweets
12 Sep
What makes Andhra people so good at cracking entrance exams?

Is it just the existence of some great coaching centers in AP / TL? Or are there cultural reasons?
One striking thing about Andhra is the very deep percolation of academic excellence

It is pretty deep. Across the social spectrum. Across a wide range of castes.

I am not sure I can say the same thing about say TN and Karnataka for instance. (though maybe Kerala to some extent)
This is definitely a new thing

If you go back to 1931, the literacy rates of Reddys, Kapus etc are way lower than those of Telugu brahmins

Not even in the same ballpark.

But today, the gulf is not evident to me w.r.t. academic excellence
Read 5 tweets

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