Saturday, January 26, 2013

The tragedy of Chandrabhan Prasad and India

As Philip Mason notes in his history of the British Indian Army (A Matter of Honour: An Account of the Indian Army, Its Officers and Men),  the English in India absorbed the prejudices of the Hindus and were just as harsh or harsher on the lower castes than the Hindus.

Yet after tremendous indigenous effort, a Chandrabhan Prasad must still clasp the feet of a Macaulay. His bitterness is understandable, but the reason India is in a mess is because her elite class still follow the West rather than Gandhi. When I say follow, I do not mean in the sense of following an ideology. It is instead developing one's own judgment and faculties; finding out what is important by looking around one instead of importing it from the West.

PS: This illustrates it nicely.

What we’re seeing now is the result of the political class’ double failure; not only did they fail to indoctrinate the rest of India with appropriately English values, they also failed to find an alternate, more inclusive paradigm for discussing politics.

The fact is that the political class did have a model for an alternate, more inclusive paradigm for discussing politics. It was lost in a love for those imports, Marxism and Fabian Socialism.

PPS: from the same source, he gets it very well, read the whole thing, but an excerpt is here.

I agree with Dhume’s sentiment here. What I find surprising, however, is its unparalleled laziness. There are certainly instances in which looking at American history can help illuminate current events in India. Take America’s treatment of Native American in the 19th century and the Adivasis’ current plight in India, for example. Or maybe we use the Teapot Dome scandal in order to come to a better understanding of the 2g spectrum scandal. What we can’t and SHOULD NOT do is rely on the evolution of democratic institutions in America to find and prescribe solutions for India’s own political woes.

The term “middle class” itself cannot be bandied about in such a manner, for it implies not only a position within a particular society, but an ethos endemic to that class. For what its worth, applying the label to the tea party is itself a tenuous claim; evidence indicates that, on the contrary, tea party voters are richer and indeed better educated than your average American. And in regards to the “tea party effect,” as Dhume would puts it, well, it’s not much of an effect at all. Its band of crazies are tolerated by the GOP only insofar as they bring more voters into the fold and the Democrats, despite their insistence to the contrary, rely the tea party for it makes their own party more palatable to disgruntled progressives. But that’s beside the point, for Dhume has opted for shallow supposition in lieu of an honest attempt at understanding India’s current political situation.