While I don't have much to disagree with @vikramsampath's points, the view that "Marxist hold on history" has caused issues like Ayodhya to fester is a v upper middle-class Rayta view

Ayodhya issue is dear to H because it is birthplace of Ram. Nothing to do marxist history
This is where I feel v annoyed with Raytas, and feel a stronger connect with Trads

Ayodhya is NOT some superficial political issue linked to 20th cen debates on Indian history or ideas of India

It is one of the सप्त-पुरी's where you can attain liberation

It is central to Hindu psyche across the sacred geography of India

There's a reason the Ram-janmabhoomi movement struck a chord with Indians in AP, Kar (far far away from UP)
To reduce it to some political polemic around history and nurse the view that it wouldn't have been as big an issue if historians were more honest, is v v silly

Hinduism has some fundamentals. And yes, there are Hindu-fundamentalists (using that term in a value-neutral way)
The issue I see with Raytas is -

They are secularized themselves, and they try to come up with "secular" explanations / rationalizations for the religious impulses felt by the Trad masses
The BJP-loving English speaking pundits may like to talk of Islamic invasions, Jadunath Sarkar, nationalist vs Marxist historians over a glass of wine

The common Hindu cares a hoot for these things. All he needs is a grand temple in the hometown of श्री रामचन्द्र

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More from @shrikanth_krish

11 Oct
On Europe vs Asia

The rise of the former and decline of latter over the past 200 years is not just an economic story. But also a demographic one!

Share of Asia in world population

1800 : 66%
1900 : 55%
2021 : 60% (not gone back to 1800 levels yet!)
In contrast, the share of Europe + North/South America, went up from 17.6% in 1800 to 28.1% in 1900

The reason I am bringing in the Americas, is because it was mostly an extension of Europe in demographic terms
If we go back to 1700, Africa at the time had a higher population than Europe!

107MM to Europe's 95MM

Between 1700 and 1900, Europe's population rose from 95MM to 295MM. Africa crept up only slightly from 107MM to 138MM
Read 10 tweets
10 Oct
Today India prides itself on its meritorious civil service chosen through a super-competitive exam procedure

It is well known that this is a legacy of the British Raj's Indian Civil service (ICS)

But the inspiration for the ICS was not British at all
But the Chinese bureaucracy
In early Victorian England, the best way to get into influential posts in government was through patronage and "knowing the right people"

Not through competitive exams at all.

This is evident both in literature and in memoirs of the period
Anthony Trollope the great author who was hired by the British Post Office in 1834 wrote about his "selection"
Read 13 tweets
9 Oct
Modernity honors novelty. Evident even in academia

Academics focus on "cutting edge" breakthroughs
Not just in Science. Even in humanities the focus is on new narratives

That's what gets rewarded

In the old world, academics focused on teaching / imparting existing knowledge
This is a fundamental culture war of sorts b/w say how traditional societies approach "knowledge" (e.g. trad scholars in India), versus academics in the West

Modern academics are always under pressure to come up with "new things". Even if they are in Literature / Religion dept
So when a professor of English writes a paper exploring treatment of homosexuality in say Shakespeare, he/she is responding to the incentives that exist in the modern world

Modern world doesn't clap if you teach students well, and stop there.

It seeks novelty
Read 4 tweets
9 Oct
On using a foreign language in academia vs speaking it

Former is easier. Speaking a foreign language is a lot harder than learning it for academic purposes

E.g. Many western indologists may know enough Sanskrit to translate texts. But can't speak or write original works in it
The reason is -

When you work in an academic setting, you have "time" at your disposal

You can read a text while having 10 dictionaries / references by the side to help you out.

You can burn midnight oil to "perfectly" understand abstruse verses
Whereas in a social / colloquial setting, you have to think on the fly to respond to what people are asking you

Even though the conversations may be very quotidian.

You have to construct things on the fly. No references handy
Read 4 tweets
9 Oct
Historicism is a consequence of modernity

Modernity is all about change. Everything is transient and impermanent

Hence historicism - which suggests there are no rules for all time. Time and place govern ideas of right and wrong
For the most part, Historicism has been embraced by the Left

Be it the old Marxists or progressives in our time

But some conservatives have also unwittingly embraced historicism

Esp. Burkean conservatives
The conservative embrace of historicism is with a different twist -

Where you say - Hey. Tradition is important as it represents historical wisdom

What's right for an Indian may not be right for an Englishman...

We should honor diversity
Read 4 tweets
4 Oct
In our popular culture, there are so v few period dramas set in 19th / early 20th cen. Unlike say Britain

It is either present day or ancient lore

Goes to show that as a country we are not too comfortable with our recent history
Lately there is some interest in the Maratha period

But mostly that's political interest

We are not exactly making social dramas set in that era
Some exceptions -

Buniyaad - a very fine drama set for most part in early-mid 20th cen

Byomkesh Bakshi - again early 20th cen

Some Sarat-Chandra novels like Devdas / Parineeta. But that's about it
Read 4 tweets

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