Friday, September 09, 2016


India was the "America" of the first thousand years of the common era.  India was prosperous for its time; more than 30% of world output was in India.  Indian goods were valued highly even in far-away Europe.  People fleeing religious persecution, Zoroastrians, Jews, "heretic" sects of Islam, all found a friendly refuge in India with the freedom to follow their religious traditions.   People from Southeast Asia, China, Japan came to India to study; and carried Indian influence back with them, so that the Buddha, the Vedic Indra,  Saraswati, and Ganesha all still have living traces in these lands.

But around 1000 AD, the invasions of Mahmud of Ghazni inaugurated a dreadful period of Indian history, where more was destroyed than created.  Mahmud himself reveled in the demolition of Mathura, which by his own estimate, would have taken two hundred years of labor to build.  And worse was to follow.

When one asks why a vibrant civilization fell prey to savage destructive warriors, it was because the people of that era could not bury their parochial differences and rivalries even in the face of that which would annihilate them.  So instead, they were picked off one by one and India became "a wounded civilization".  

Observing the American political scene today, it seems pretty much the same.  The political divisions are not anymore debatable policy differences on how to deal with ISIS, climate change, unsafe financial institutions,  economic growth,  mass incarceration, the crisis of drug addiction and such.  Policy debates, however heated, tend to produce solutions.   Instead today politics seems more like petty grudge matches.  NJ Governor Chris Christie's BridgeGate, where his officials created artificial traffic jams to punish a mayor who didn't endorse him, is an archetype.   In such circumstances, this Republic won't endure.