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On the Difference in Outcomes for China and India in Post-1945 Era: 3

February 16, 2019 9 comments

In the previous part of this series, I wrote about how post-1949 Chinese leadership put in a lot of effort to improve the conditions of its people, even if their motivations were not purely altrusitic. Then again, the same is true of every government which has every existed in human history and the present. In sharp contrast, the Indian leadershit has remained mired in their self-chosen role as darker white sahibs carrying the “white mans burden” and lording over an allegedly hopeless bunch of subhumans. One commentator in the previous post of this series made a comment to the effect that it sounded like how things work in south and central american countries- where an incompetent whiter elite (with the assistance of dying white countries) mismanage and lord over less whiter people, who they see as less than human. Yep.. that is about right.

In the previous post, I also wrote about how the Chinese leadership took a pragmatic approach to improving literacy through a variety of reforms and programs. They also built, and in some cases rebuilt, institutions and bureaucracies to function for them and their people. Sure.. they had to break a few hundred thousand eggs to achieve that- but you cannot deny that the results are quite impressive and functional. More importantly, these institutions now either do what they are meant to do, or do not interfere in what other institutions are doing. In other words, the Chinese leadership was able to build and maintain a unitary and coordinated governmental system with a pretty decent level of accountability. And all this within first three decades after 1949. So why were they able to achieve something which their Indian counterparts thought to be impossible.

Conventional explanations for this, usually put forth by allegedly “credentialed” white idiots, try to paint this as some sort of exception or aberration. However that is not the case, as some version of this had been previously implemented in Japan and the Koreas. For example, modernization of Japan starting in Meiji era and its rebuilding after WW2 was achieved by implementing a watered-down version of what China started doing after 1949. The same is true of South Korea after the early 1960s. You might have noticed that all these examples have something else common to them- other than being east-asian. Ready.. they were, or are, mostly single-party systems.. yes, even Japan. But didn’t India also have effectively have a single party system for first 2-3 decades after 1947? Yes, they did and the Congress party won most elections as the state and federal level for 2-3 decades after “independence”. So why did it work in east-Asia but not in India?

Which brings us to the part about accountability- for elected officials as well as bureaucrats. As I mentioned in previous parts of this series, almost every single Indian politician and elected official came from families who collaborated with the British colonizers of India. They had risen to their positions without facing any real challenge, struggle or conflict. Most had no real skills beyond regurgitating what they learned in British universities and they saw themselves as darker whites rather than Indians. As I said in previous part, they believed anything some white guy in an expensive suit would tell them. The Indian bureaucracy was no better and filled with sad excuses for human beings who enjoyed abusing and screwing over their own people by using rules and regulations written up for that purpose by their erstwhile colonial masters.

Long story short, both the political class and bureaucracy of India was made up of incompetent losers who saw themselves as lesser whites rather than Indians. And there is one more thing.. the bureaucracy and political system continued to exist as two independent and antagonistic centers of power. Contrast that to successful east-asian countries where the political leadership and bureaucracy are different faces of the same system. There is a good reason why I used the words such as unitary and coordinated to describe the Chinese system. But why does any of this matter? Also, does it matter that much? Well.. let me show you with a couple of examples.

Very few of you know that India was first Asian country to build its own supersonic combat aircraft. Ya.. India built the HF-24 Marut and successfully tested it in the early 1960s. While the team leader of the project was Kurt Tank, almost everybody else in the project was Indian and they went from nothing to flying prototypes in about 6 years. So what did the Indian political leadershit and bureaucracy do in response to this success? The sabotaged it in every way they could- from denying funding for better imported engines to crippling the organisation setup for developing indigenous engines. Even worse, they spent a lot of effort trying to make sure that all the knowledge and expertise gained through that project was lost. But why?

The “conventional” explanation for this behavior is that USSR offered them decent inexpensive combat aircraft. However that is not true since the USSR which made such aircraft in multiple thousands was not really bothered by this indigenous effort. Moreover, it filled a role distinct from the aircraft they supplied to India at that time. The real reasons have far more to do with the Indian psyche, especially those of its white-worshiping idiot politicians and bureaucrats. The thing is.. they could not believe that people of their skin color could make world-class products. To make matters worse, they had no ability to understand concepts such as iterative development and using the insight gained in one project to advance others. But most fatally, they believed in what white scammers told them about the nature of money.

Now contrast this to what China did during the same time period. After getting all the equipment from USSR to manufacture Mig-15s, 17, 19s etc they first kept cranking out replicas. While not the best combat aircraft of that era (mid 1960s), they were good enough. But far more importantly, they used that opportunity to train a shitload of engineers who would then go on to improve these aircraft and eventually build far better ones. They did this at a time when they were as poor as India and in politically worse shape. They also did the same with soviet diesel-electric submarines, infantry weapons, artillery etc. Did you notice that they never stopped these projects or disbanded their experienced teams regardless of domestic upheavals and other issues. Why not? And where did they get the money to do all these things?

The answer to first part of those questions is that they, unlike their Indian counterparts, were not incompetent white-worshipping idiots. The second and related answer is that they saw money in a very different way to their Indian and white counterparts. To make another long story short, they implemented a form of what we today call modern monetary theory, which is fancy way of saying that they printed money and allocated resources as necessary to get important things done while making sure that this new money did not enter the general circulation at levels large enough to cause runaway inflation and currency devaluation. So ya.. they pretty much printed money and rigged their system to deliver what they wanted, which they could do because of the size of their country. Their Indian equivalents chose to believe “credentialed” white eCONomists.

In the next part of this series, I will show you (with more examples) how a unitary and coordinated government policy gave China a huge advantage over India in other sectors.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Difference in Outcomes for China and India in Post-1945 Era: 2

January 30, 2019 5 comments

In the previous part of this series, I wrote that India and China started from about the same level, and with a host of systemic problems, as nascent modern nation states in 1947 and 1949. While India might have initially seemed to be the more successful of the two, China slowly but surely outpaced it in almost every aspect from about the mid-1960s. The gap has now grown to such levels that the real difference between these two equipopulous Asian nations now appears unbridgeable. In the previous part, I also said that majority of difference in outcome between the two can be attributed to difference in quality of leadership and administration between them. For starters- Indian leaders, while superficially more erudite than their Chinese counterparts, came from families who had previously gotten rich by collaborating with British colonizers.

The majority of those who came to power in India had also never been tested under real life-and-death situations. In addition to displaying uncritical belief in whatever any white person wearing a suit told them, they had no real interest in improving the condition of their fellow country men and women. Indeed, most of them did not see themselves as part of India.. well at least not ‘that other’ India. They saw themselves as darker white sahibs carrying the “white mans burden” and ruling over a hopeless bunch of subhumans. Some of you might wonder as to how I reached this rather dim view about that allegedly “great” generation of leaders which India had in aftermath of gaining independence in 1947, from the now defunct British empire. Easy.. look at their behavior and actions, rather than their words- because the later is cheap unlike the former two.

1] Both India and China started life as modern nation states with very high levels (over 80-85%) of illiteracy. So how did Indian leaders go about trying to fix this problem? How about.. by doing almost nothing. That is right! While Chinese leaders put a lot of effort and force into projects such as simplifying the Chinese script, ordering translations of everything they could find into Chinese, improving primary school attendance and childhood literacy among its population by any means (including force)- their Indian counterparts gave speeches and raised slogans about removing illiteracy. While it is true that Indian leaders did fund a few elite universities and educational institutions (IITs, IIMs etc) earlier than China, they largely ignored the primary and secondary educational sector. But why? Well.. think about which educational institutions their progeny, and those of their flunkies, would attend. It is that easy.

So why didn’t the Chinese leadership behave in such an utterly selfish manner? The answer is.. because they were pragmatic. While creating elite educational institutions for your own children sounds like a good idea, doing so without creating an equally extensive non-elite educational system would almost certainly lead to them remaining a poor country. Chinese leaders were always interested in true global power and prestige. It is not possible to be powerful and feared (or respected) on the international level if your country is an un-industrialized and materially poor country full of illiterate people. Indian leaders, on the other hand, were incapable of visualizing themselves as anything other than second-rate ‘whites’ in charge of a country predestined to be poor because some white guy in an expensive suit told them so.

2] It is no secret that the administrative system and bureaucracy in India, along with its laws and regulations, had been designed to exploit and abuse Indians for the benefit of the now extinct British empire. Any person with half-a-brain who was genuinely interested in improving conditions in India after independence would have liquidated everyone in the administrative system, except its junior-most employees, and built a new one- if necessary by copying from countries where things worked. That is, however, not the path taken by Indians leaders after ‘independence’. Instead they retained almost every single part of the incredibly abusive and dysfunctional system including its pathetic white-worshiping personnel. And this is how India ended up with a shitty and incompetent bureaucracy which benefits nobody other than its employees.

Their Chinese counterparts, on the other hand, went on quite the cleaning spree after 1949. They started by getting rid of bureaucrats who were, should we say, not sympathetic to the new order or problematic collaborators to previous regimes. They reformed laws, rules and regulations to make them more useful and internally self-consistent. Moreover, they were willing to reform their system as the situation changed- for example after 1971 and 1979. Some people say that it was helpful that China has a long history of competent bureaucracy, unlike India. However, after the ‘century of humiliation’ they had to start from scratch to build a modern secular bureaucracy and so their history is not especially relevant to what happened after 1949. Let me reiterate that the Chinese leadership did not educate their people and build a good bureaucracy because they were altruistic. They did so because they wanted to be leaders of a powerful and respected nation.

In the next part of this series, I will write about how the lack of imagination and ability displayed by Indian leadership over every single decade since ‘independence’ contrasts with the willingness of their Chinese counterparts to take calculated risks, persevere along initially suboptimal routes, keep thinking big and have a viable plan (or two) to get there.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Difference in Outcomes for China and India in Post-1945 Era: 1

January 20, 2019 13 comments

Approximately three months ago, I wrote about my plans for a couple of series on topics which I had either not tackled or done in a less-than-through manner. In case you are wondering, one series would focus on the reasons why China became the world’s largest economy (in real terms) almost a decade ago while India is.. well.. stumbling around in that general direction. While most of the blame for dismal post-1947 performance of India can still be assigned to the first-, second- and third- order effects of the ‘jati’ system, there are clearly other factors at work- some of which are ‘intersectional’ to the continued existence of that wretched system. Let us start this series by examining them- starting with a comparison leadership cadre of both countries.

But before we go there, let me reiterate a few relevant points and spend the next 3-4 paragraphs giving you some background on the topic. As I wrote in a previous post, the majority of informed outsiders looking at the situation in both countries in 1950 would have put their money on India ending up as the more prosperous of two in 50-70 years. Yet in 2019, the Indian economy is still only 1/4th or 1/5th of its Chinese counterpart in real terms, despite containing an almost identical number of people. Did I mention that they started out at almost the same level in 1950. Let us also be clear that things had not gone well for over a century in either country at that time. In the case of India, it was a heavily exploited colony of now defunct British empire.

In the case of China, it was well.. a whole host of other problems. We can start with the various large and highly damaging rebellions towards the end of the Qing dynasty. One of these, known as the Taiping Rebellion, resulted in about 20-30 million deaths over a period of 14 years. Then there was the problem of western countries such as UK and USA pushing Opium in China which resulted in probably 20-40% of the population becoming dependent on that drug. There is some irony about tens of thousands of mostly white people dying from synthetic opioid overdoses, each year, in contemporary USA- given the major source of that drug. Add into that the humiliation caused by numerous military setbacks against 19th century European colonial powers culminating in the Boxer rebellion. And it got even worse in the early 20th century.

It started with the formal collapse of the Qing dynasty and lead to the Warlord Era– which was much worse than it sounds. And then there was that other unpleasant period due to the partial colonization by Imperial Japan, which culminated in events such as the Nanjing Massacre in addition to many millions more deaths due to that invasion, including many thousands due to activities of Unit 731. And we are not even getting into all the problems caused by on-again off-again alliance between various factions of the nationalists and communists in pre-1950 China. There is a very good reason that the Chinese see the hundred odd years between 1839-1949 as the Century of Humiliation. Long story short, China started from scratch after WW2. And we have not even talked about the Great Famine of 1959-1961 and the Cultural Revolution.

My point is that the modern nation states of India and China started at almost the same time (1947, 1949) and from about the same relative situation. Both had low literacy rates (12-15 % and 15-20 %), not much of an industrial base, very few universities and technical schools etc. Both experienced chaotic conditions during and shortly after their formation (India-Pakistan Partition, final stage of civil war on mainland China). Neither country had experienced unitary self-governance for over a hundred years. Most of the lay people in both countries still believed in tons of superstitions and bullshit. Long story short, both nation states started under equally dismal conditions. And yet in 2019, the economy and global stature of India is a fraction of China.

So let us now start talking about the types of people who ended up in leadership positions in both countries, starting with those involved in their respective independence movements.

The Indian “independence” movement, at least its modern form, can trace its origins to the establishment of the Indian National Congress in 1885. Ironically, it was established by a retired British civil service officer- Allan Octavian Hume. Think about it for a moment, the organisation which came to lead the Indian “independence” movement was not started by an Indian. But it gets better, or worse. Here is something many of you might know about many of the subsequent important leaders of the Indian “independence” movement.. most were the sons of people who had grown rich and powerful from enthusiastic collaboration with the British colonizers of India. Ya.. all those “great” leaders of the Indian “independence” moment were almost exclusively the sons of greedy and treacherous collaborators.

And most did not demand total independence until the early 1940s.. just varying degrees of autonomy from the now defunct British empire. And now you know why I decided to use quotation marks for independence. Sad.. isn’t it? And it gets worse.. if that is even possible. Unlike their Chinese counterparts, most leaders of the Indian “independence” movement were oxbridge educated lawyers with close to zero ability or experience to do anything beyond giving stirring speeches and writing elaborate letters in protest. They had a serious inferiority complex vis-à-vis white people in general and the British in particular. But most importantly, they simply wanted to rule instead of the British and had no real desire to improve the condition of most people in the country, and just wanted to be seen as equal to British on an individual level.

Now let us compare this sorry bunch to their equivalents in the Chinese national movement of early 20th century. Note that I am not implying that their Chinese equivalents were any less power-hungry, double-dealing, generally corrupt and sometimes thoughtless. But there are some very important and relevant differences between the two groups. For starters, most of their leadership did not arise from a group of traitors who collaborated with colonizers. Neither were most of their leaders born in very prosperous families. Sun Yat-sen, Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek came from somewhat comfortable but not unusually rich or politically connected families. Even the second and third order leadership of the national movement was largely derived from people born into poor, middling to somewhat prosperous bourgeois families.

Furthermore, they all agreed that expulsion of foreign colonizers, restoration of unitary authority and building a new secular technological society was not negotiable. Compare this to their Indian counterparts who were fine with continuing caste divisions, widespread poverty, little to no economic development, low literacy, semi-independence etc as long as they were in power. Leaders of the Indian “independence” movement.. you see.. just wanted an equal seat at the table of their British masters so they could regale them with tales with how stupid and poor all those “other” Indian were and have a laugh about it. While it sounds harsh, this is how things went after 1947. The leadership of the Chinese national movement, on the other hand, understood that only leaders of powerful and prosperous nations wield true power.

This is why, for example, the government of post-1949 China put so much effort into improving literacy levels, setting up universities, funding research institutes, building their own weapon systems, investing in infrastructure projects etc- even when they technically did not have the “money” to do so. In contrast, multiple generations of Indian leaders used the excuse of “no money” to either not do those things or do them in an anemic and half-hearted manner. That is also why India retained the shitty colonial system of laws and administration which was designed to exploit and abuse Indians rather than build a new one to benefit them. The darkly comic part of all this is that most of them lack the ability to understand their own pathetic behavior.

Will write more about this issue in the next part of series.

What do you think? Comments?

Varna and Jati aka ‘Caste’ System Was Hugely Damaging to Indians: 10

November 30, 2018 4 comments

In the previous post of this series, I mentioned that Indian kingdoms had no problem repelling and defeating foreign invaders upto the beginning of the 12th century AD. Yet somehow, in the absence of any technological or tactical breakthroughs on the other side, their record of success against foreign invaders becomes really bad between 1192 AD (defeat of Prithviraj) and around 1650 AD (dawn of Maratha empire under Shivaji). And then the (initially) materially poor and numerically far smaller armies of that emergent power somehow end up systematically destroying most Muslim Kingdoms in India and prevailed in a two decade long war against the much larger and prosperous Mughal empire to become the predominant power in India.

Have you ever wondered why the Maratha Empire succeed in doing what had eluded other groups and aggregations of people in India for almost half a millennium? For starters, it helped that they had an extremely competent and visionary founder in Shivaji. But it was his successors (and those who believed in the cause) who kept fighting and winning till they reached their goal. After reaching that point, the empire slowly came apart due to infighting and other bullshit- but they did achieve the initial goal of permanently erasing almost every single Muslim kingdom in India. So we come back to the question as to why they almost completely succeeded where many had failed before. What made their efforts different from others who had tried before.

To understand what I going to talk about later, let me introduce you to a seemingly unrelated historical fact. Ever wondered why a region so divided and engaged in almost constant low-level warfare such as the Italian peninsula between 1494-1559 was never successfully occupied by the much larger and prosperous Ottoman Empire- even when the later was at its height of power in the early 16th century? Also, why was the Ottoman Empire never able to effect worthwhile levels of religious conversions in most of its erstwhile European territory with the exception of tiny pockets such as present-day Albania and Kosovo. Why was its grasp on the Balkans always so tenuous and why did it choose to govern indirectly in most of those places?

What makes this inability of the Ottoman Empire to successfully invade and occupy Italy even more peculiar is that, as early as the 1480s, north-western boundaries of the Ottoman Empire were less than 200 km from Venice. And yet, for a number of reasons, they only got a bit closer to that city over two hundred years- after which the Ottoman Empire slowly shrank and went into decline. Why was such a rich, dynamic and populous Empire (at least between late 1400 and mid-1600s) unable to occupy a region full of small-ish kingdoms and duchies who were in almost constant conflict with each other? Why was no kingdom on the Italian peninsula unwilling to cooperate with an external invader from the east in order to prevail against its rivals?

Some of you might be aware that the extreme eagerness of Indian kings (and most Indians) to cooperate with foreign aggressors to screw over local competitors was one of the major reason behind why it was so easy for the later to succeed in spite of having far smaller armies. And let us be clear about something, this also occurred on the Italian peninsula- but with one major difference. See.. during that period, various small Italian kingdoms and city states did sometimes seek assistance from the French, Spanish and Hapsburg kingdoms to prevail over their rivals. But they never seriously considered doing so from the Ottoman Empire, even though many Italian kingdoms had pretty good trade relations with it. But why not?

It comes down to religion, specifically how monotheistic religions work. Though France, Spain and the Hapsburgs were frenemies to Italian kingdoms, they were (religiously and culturally) on the same side. The Ottoman Empire, though more religiously tolerant than contemporary Christian kingdoms, was fundamentally a Muslim Empire. It also helped that the Italian kingdoms were aware that other European kingdoms were not capable of occupying and ruling Italy indefinitely. Furthermore, there was a massive social stigma and fear of popular revolt if they were seen to be collaborating with Ottomans. In contrast to that, the lack of a real monotheist religion in India as well as massive internal social divisions caused by the ‘jati’ system made it trivial for Indian traitors to collaborate with any foreign invader. And there was no shortage of them in India.

Moreover, any serious attempt by Ottomans to invade Italian peninsula would have resulted in many disparate kingdoms within Italy and western Europe joining up to fight them. And then there was the effect of the ‘jati’ system on social cohesion within military ranks. In previous posts, I have mentioned how the ‘jati’ system resulted in Indian armies being deeply fragmented and non-cohesive. The various Italian kingdoms and other European powers of that era did not suffer from this handicap, because in spite of class divisions, they were all on the ‘same’ side. Furthermore, they had no issues with developing and fielding newer weaponry as well as adapting their strategy in response to their adversaries.

It is already close to 900 words, so I will wrap up this post now. In the next part of this series, I will explain why the Maratha and Sikh Empires were finally able to erase almost every single Muslim-ruled kingdom In India. You will also see why they, and not some other groups, achieved that objective. Hint: it has far more to do with the social organization of both communities rather than martial valor. And yes.. both communities had far fewer internal divisions due to the ‘jati’ system than other contemporary groups around them.

What do you think? Comments?

Varna and Jati aka ‘Caste’ System Was Hugely Damaging to Indians: 9

October 2, 2018 8 comments

In the previous part of this series, I said that the jati system was the principal reason why group cohesion among Indians is, and always been, so poor and why tiny foreign armies could conquer and rule large parts of India without any resistance from local population. Part of the reason, as explained in yet another part, was that the jati system destroyed the ability of Indians to imagine an objective reality or care about history which was not somehow part of some sad lie about the relative position of their jati in the overall social system.

Some readers might think that all of this is a bit confusing. What does, for example, the inability to imagine an objective reality, focus on rote learning and mindless obedience have to do with consistently losing wars against tiny foreign armies for multiple centuries. Traditional Chinese culture was also focused on rote learning and mindless obedience, but somehow China never got invaded and colonized to a level even remotely close to that of India. And weren’t the Chinese a famously insular society- at least since middle part of the Ming Dynasty.

And this is a good place to introduce something which I will talk about over next couple of posts. It involves comparing India to post- Roman Empire Italy (5th Century AD onward) and China (Song dynasty onward) to highlight what made the former much more susceptible to successful foreign invasions than the later two. We shall also talk about why successful military campaigns by Mahumd of Ghazni occurred almost 300 years after the initial rapid spread of Islam in Middle-East and Persia. Why didn’t successful Muslim invasions occur in the 7th or 8th century AD?

One thing I often wondered about, many years ago, concerned the delay of almost 300 years between the initial large-scale Muslim conquests in late 600s and early 700s AD and the first successful Muslim invasions of mainland India. Why could Arab and other converts conquer most of modern-day Spain and a good part of coastline of Black Sea 300 years before conquering even a small part of India? Why were they able to steamroll the Sasanian Empire of Persia within a few years but not make any progress in India though they reached present-day Sindh in 710 AD.

One might think that given the dismal performance of later Hindu rulers against Muslim invaders, they could just have walked over and conquered the whole of North India within a few years. And yet.. they could not. But why? The short answer is that they tried repeatedly and got their asses kicked, also repeatedly. Long story short, by 776 AD the Muslim presence in the Indian subcontinent excluding Sindh had effectively ended, and even there it was treading water by end of that century. So how could local kings of that era do, with ease, what multiple generations of later Hindu rulers could not?

Once again, a scarcity of written records from that era hampers the quest for a more thorough understanding of events. It is however clear that the Muslims invaders of that era encountered large-ish Indian kingdoms with very large armies, and in some cases navies, which proved more than a match for them. The Indian kingdoms and armies of that era were able to successfully counter the invaders and drive them out pretty quickly. Nor was this the first time, India faced invaders from the west. The Huna people (Indian version of Huns) tried to invade India in 5th and 6th century AD. After initial success and territory gains, they too were defeated and assimilated.

My point is that there are multiple instances of Indian kingdoms being able to successfully fight determined, numerous and well-equipped foreign invaders prior to 11th century. So why is the record of Hindu kings against foreign invaders between about 1200 AD (Prithviraj Chauhan) and 1600 AD (Shivaji) generally dismal? To be fair, Hindu kings in peninsular India did far better against Muslim invaders than their Northern counterparts- even during that period. But why?

The conventional explanation, as provided by “credentialed” losers.. I mean experts, is that use of mounted archers by Muslim invaders after 11th century AD against the supposedly elephant-centered army of Hindu kings resulted in the later losing battle after battle. While this might sound like a good explanation to the layman, it is hilarious bad. For one, using mounted archers or cavalry of any sort to invade kingdoms that are not small requires a pretty significant logistics chain and planning. Since Indians knew the lay of the land far better than invaders, foreign invaders would have faced serious problems if the local population resisted.

But there is much more. Composite bows and horse archers are not wonder weapons, especially in countries with a serious rainy season (excess moisture fucks up natural composite bows) and less than optimal conditions for horses. The rate of death of imported horses from diseases such as Babesiosis has always been pretty high in India. To put it another way, there are only some parts of India (NW plains) where one could use Calvary with abandon. Also, the mounted archer theory does not explain how Muslim rulers were able to keep ruling the areas they conquered.

And there is always the question of why massed longbow archers were uncommon in armies of Hindu kings after 8th-9th century AD. It should also be noted that there were not many large or even medium-sized kingdoms in India (especially Northern plains) after 7th century. Why? Since we are already at over 900 words, I am going to write about my explanation for why things went that way in India after 8th century AD by comparing it an equally divided ‘nation’ known as Italy.

Specifically, I will go into some detail about how a highly divided and medium-sized region such as the Italian Peninsula could successfully defend itself against multiple attempts at invasion by foreigners professing a different religion, including the much larger Ottoman Empire at its peak. What did they do differently to succeed at something which evaded India for almost 500 years?

What do you think? Comments?

Varna and Jati aka ‘Caste’ System Was Hugely Damaging to Indians: 8

September 28, 2018 10 comments

In the previous post of this series, I said that the general lack of critical thinking skills in most Indians is deeply linked to Indian style of parenting and whatever passes for ‘education’ in that country. Some might consider this to be a harsh assessment, and that is kinda true. However reality is what it is, whether we like it or not. Also, it is not possible to fix a problem if we keep on pretending that it does not exist. So let us start by first defining it.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of typical Indians, who are good at passing exams and tests, are also incredibly bad at applying that knowledge? To be fair, we see this problem in other parts of the world. However, for reasons we shall soon get into, the levels it reaches in India are just mind-boggling. But there is a weird twist to this story. Those who grew up outside India, or are otherwise atypical, do not display this shortcoming at a higher rate than other people.

In other words, this problem is cultural not biological. But isn’t it a rather odd problem? Think about it.. how can somebody capable of regurgitating all the ‘right’ answers have such a poor grasp of subject matter? Clearly, the person in question has good memory and no cognitive problems. So what is going on? Some might say that this is a consequence of the Indian ‘education’ system being based on rote memorization- and that is true. But why is that so?

Let me pose this question in another way. Would you eat at a restaurant where the cook could recite all the ingredients in his dishes and their preparation methods, but not cook well? You wouldn’t, and neither would most Indians. But for some reason, this state of affairs is normal in the Indian ‘education’ system. Why? And what does it have to do with the jati system? What prevents Indians from changing their way of doing things?

Moving on to a related problem, why do most Indians conflate knowledge with regurgitating the beliefs of famous people? Once again. you see this problem in other parts of the world, but for some reason, it reaches almost comical levels in most Indians. Why is deliberative and skeptical thinking so uncommon among typical Indians, especially the more ‘educated’. Why do most Indians display an unwillingness to think through problems on their own, pose inconvenient questions and be reasonably skeptical about whatever passes for knowledge.

And this brings us to the proximate cause of this dysfunction. Have you noticed that typical Indian parenting produces intellectually and emotionally crippled kids? To be clear, I am not suggesting that north-american parenting is especially good or free of problems. In fact, it has its unique set of dysfunctions. Having said that, it is hard to ignore that traditional Indian parenting is way more likely to create spineless kids with little capability for autonomous thinking or action.

But why? And why would parents do something like that to their own kids? Well.. the answer has to do with the jati or caste system. Have you ever wondered why the jati system sounds so alien to non-Indians? Could it be because belief in, and practicing, the jati system is not compatible with even basic levels of critical thinking? Let me put it this way.. you cannot simultaneously believe in the caste system and still be capable of critical thinking.

So how do you perpetuate the jati system and its wretched institutions such as social apartheid and arranged (historically child) marriage. Well.. the easiest way to do that is to brainwash your children from birth into believing all sorts of nonsense, blindly respecting ‘authority’, discouraging questions and personal agency etc. Traditional Indian parenting is about perpetuating the jati system by crippling the intellectual and emotional development of your own children

It is kinda analogous to breaking the legs of your slave so that he (or she) cannot escape and find a better life. And that is why, you see, children who grow in traditional Indian families have stunted intellectual and emotional development. But what does this have to do with the equally dysfunctional system of ‘education’ in India? A lot, actually. The system, you see, is not about producing competent individuals as much as it is about producing the appearance of education.

But that sounds totally nuts! Why would anybody want to produce the appearance of education rather than the real deal? As usual, the answer has to do with the mindset of those running the system. People who never received a real education and have a limited ability to think critically cannot fix a crappy system, because they are incapable of imagining a better system. You cannot be a good car mechanic, if you have no reference frame for a properly tuned car. Similarly people who are unable to think past what they learned in medical school make bad physicians.

In the next part, I hope to show you (in some detail) the intimate connection between poor group cohesion among Indians and jati system. This will help you understand why incredibly tiny armies of foreigners could conquer and rule large parts of India without any resistance from local population.

What do you think? Comments?

Varna and Jati aka ‘Caste’ System Was Hugely Damaging to Indians: 7

September 20, 2018 5 comments

In the previous post of this series, I wrote about how the jati or caste system as we know it today came into existence (at least in North India) sometime between the 3rd-5th century AD. I also pointed out that conventional religion-based explanations for its genesis cannot explain how Indic religions spread beyond India, but the caste system did not. The most rational explanation for this important and overlooked oddity, in my opinion, is that the jati system was imposed by the dominant regime of that time in North India, aka the Gupta dynasty. While some see the Gupta dynasty as the golden age of India, it was beginning of the end.

I was originally going to devote this post to highlighting the connection between jati system and complete lack of group cohesion among Indians. As some of you are aware, treacherous behavior with other Indians while simultaneously grovelling before non-Indians has been a consistent future of Indian history for at least 1,500 years. It then occurred to me that my explanation for this behavior, and its connection to jati, might require readers to first understand another related concept- which I had not previously discussed at length. So let us do that first and talk about why most Indians do not seem to have a concept of history or grasp of objective reality.

Let me start by asking you a somewhat odd question: Why are the most famous literary works written by Indians from before the 4th-6th century AD? Try naming a large original work of philosophy, science, art.. anything definitively authored by an Indian for at least a thousand years after 6th century AD. Or why are travelogues of ancient foreign travelers often the only available contemporary accounts for many periods in Indian history? Why is there a remarkable lack of old documents, other than some religious texts, in India? Did Indians lose the ability to write after 6th century AD? And how is this connected with an aversion to objective reality?

A few readers will correctly point out that something remarkably similar occurred in Europe after the western Roman empire collapsed in the 5th century AD. While there are certainly some similarities between two situations, there are also some important differences. For starters, there was no collapse of a centralized authority in India after 6th century AD, because it was always fairly decentralized. Similarly, there was no great technological or organisational regression in India after end of Gupta dynasty. Life just went on, as it had previously.

So what happened? Why did Indians stop writing anything new after 6th century AD ? Some of you might say that there was not much progress during those times to write about. However, as a visit to the nearest library or amazon’s website will show- most literature has nothing to do with science or technology and is usually about religious or secular mythology, popular stories and personal accounts. Perhaps it was the lack of printing press technology, then? Unlikely.. since Indians deliberately ignored the printing press for about 300 years after it was introduced by European traders and missionaries.

My point is that, the unwillingness of most Indians to care about history, let alone write it down, has little to do with availability of technology. Nearby countries such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand have far better written (and repeatedly transcribed accounts) of their history than India. But who did all that writing and re-transcribing of manuscripts in those countries? As it turns out it was Buddhist monks and priests who did it, just like their contemporary Christian and Muslim counterparts in other parts of the world. So why didn’t their Hindu equivalents do it?

The next concept is a bit hard to explain, so you have to sit through a few oddly phrased paragraphs. They are about how you believe what you believe aka Epistemology.

Why do most people living in USA agree that the 9/11 incident in NYC occurred on September 11, 2001 or the Pearl Harbor attack occurred on December 7, 1941? More importantly, why do we agree on certain objective stuff such as dates of both incidents even if we disagree on what or who (subjective stuff) caused those incidents? Also, how many of you were actually present at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 or in downtown NYC on September 11, 2001? Readers might point to the huge amount of photographic evidence for both incidents and numerous accounts by survivors. But why has this evidence not been lost by now?

Isn’t that a strange question? But ask yourself, why should people record and remember things which occurred years and decades ago? Do you remember what you had for lunch and dinner on September 11, 2001? I can.. BTW. So why do we remember certain events better than others? Emotional response to, and psychological impact of, an event has a major effect on how well we recall it. But there is a far bigger reason, namely the impact of said event on future events. But how can an event have a much larger effect than itself? The answer is that people who witnessed or came to know about said event often feel part of same group or solidarity with those involved.

In other words, events that elicit strong feelings of personal involvement and group solidarity within a large number of people (beyond those affected by said events) become part of historical record. Those that did not, usually get lost in the sands of time. But what does any of this have to do with the general lack of interest in recording, preserving or reading about history in India. Ask yourself, was group solidarity beyond one’s immediate jati possible in India once the jati system became established? And if there was no solidarity beyond one’s jati, why would most people care to remember or record events that did not affect them?

Some of you might say.. “fair enough, this would seriously hamper the ability to write a unified historical narrative- but wouldn’t people in each jati keep writing their own history?”. You know what.. that might very well have been the case. But ask yourself, who will do a better job of archiving information- large bureaucratic organisations or small unstable groups. There is a good reason for why monks and clergy in the medieval era were very effective at preserving old literature in addition be writing down newer contemporary material. Having an organized and dedicated guild of archivists is much more effective for preserving information than isolated and unorganized efforts.

But didn’t India have Brahmins? Well.. ya, tons of them. But unlike the priests or monastic orders in monotheistic religions, there were many hundreds of mutually antagonistic jatis within the Brahmnin varna. It was quite normal to have half a dozen mutually antagonistic Brahmin jatis in medium-sized towns in ancient India. So basically each Brahmin jati was fighting constant turf wars with other Brahmin jatis in that area, with each trying to show the others that it had higher status than them. The jati system, far from reducing inter-group competition for jobs and occupation, ended up making it much worse. And guess what they were not writing..

But what does this have to do with Indians often having a rather poor grasp of objective reality? How does extreme social fragmentation, constant bickering and endless turf battles alter one’s grasp of reality? Let me explain that with another example. Do you believe that an antibiotic can cure an infection caused by a bacterial species susceptible to it? I am guessing almost every single one of you believe that- but how do you know that this explanation is correct? Most of you aren’t microbiologists or physicians, right?

One source of your belief comes from personal experience with having taken an antibiotic for some infection, another from knowing the basics of how they work, a third from ready access to a large body of experimental data from multiple sources and lastly it is also your own trust (faith) in the medical system. So how does it work in a highly fragmented society where everyone is trying to screw everyone else? Short answer.. it does not. In India, most people will take an antibiotic to treat an infection based on nothing more than blind faith. But why? Aren’t they as curious about the world around them as anybody else?

And this is where I have to open another can of worms. Have you ever noticed that adult Indians seem to have considerable difficulty with objective thinking and critical analysis of problems? Why is that so? My theory is that it has a lot to do with defective parenting and education, and yes.. that too is connected to the jati system. More about that in upcoming part of this series.

What do you think? Comments?