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The Importance of India (alexkolchinski.com)
127 points by kolchinski on June 22, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 162 comments

I think there is no alternative but for the west to tie itself closely to India if they want liberal democracy to prevail. India is deeply flawed, but has a deep and abiding affinity for democracy, and a polity that is sophisticated about things like strategic split-ticket voting to prevent too much power being concentrated in one political party. As such, it frustrates me that Western countries don't help us consolidate our position in international affairs, including by allowing us to officially be a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and supporting our bid to be on the UN Security Council.

If you're interested in how India's history informs our politics, economy, and foreign relations today, take a look at Today in Indian History, a newsletter which my brother and I recently launched. Four times a week, we lay out the context and consequences of an event in India's past that happened on that date. Link below:


This looks interesting, but I could not find an RSS feed for the site. Could you please add one, I would definitely prefer that over subscribing to an email newsletter!

Sadly we're not likely to support an RSS feed for Today in Indian History for a little while, but if you sign up via email we'll definitely let you know when we add one.

Use kill-the-newsletter.com to turn the emails into RSS feeds, since the author is unwilling to add them.

I endorse this as a temporary solution, thanks for the suggestion!

I am taking a note of how some privileged individuals possibly from rich western countries or elite Indians conforming to a political ideology here are mocking and judging a country which has been looted, enslaved and intentionally left illiterate for centuries.

India is not perfect. But just to bring things into perspective, the cited "beacon" of liberal democracy, USA, didn't allow women to vote until as recent as a hundred years ago. The civil rights movement is not even a century old. Compared to that India has been independent for less than 72 years. Democracy takes time but results are permanent.

Now please take a note all the naysayers: Indians will strive and they will excel without any "great leaps" or "gulags" like they have in last 70 odd years. "Jantantra" or democracy is an integral part of India, and it will not falter in face of systemic racism by the west (and far east) or bullying by likes of China. There was a time when a whole bunch of people thought that democracy will never work in India or even worse, India as country will not exist because of its extreme diversity. The British even believed Indians are incapable to "govern themselves". But fast forward to present - they all have been proved wrong.

Democracy is slow, but that is the only and the universally accepted way forward for a diverse country like India.

It's almost funny how an apparent Chinese (sympathizer?) (check the activity) user below calls India a "semi Slavery society" with zero context about the country and even tries to hijack the present BLM in almost propaganda like move.

Now, facts. Upon independence, India's constitution was written by the constituent assembly presided over by an "untouchable". This constitution abolished discrimination on basis of caste, and as an affirmative action reserved seats in educational institutions and jobs in all state sponsored educational and public institutions.

This reservation system has rapidly been increasing over the years and now a staggering 60 - 70% of all positions are reserved today. What's more, the current Prime Minister of India and the President of India are from backward castes and scheduled caste respectively, and a majority of political parties and multiple Chief Ministers presently belong to traditionally backward castes. Even election constituencies are reserved, so that there is fixed amount of representation in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha (lower and upper houses) no matter which government is in power.

The best any authoritarian regime can do right now is portray as propaganda that India is a "semi slavery society" which has no "liberal" shared values with the democracies in the West so everyone should shun it.

It's a standard divide and rule strategy.

This “untouchable” had to get elected to Constituent Assembly from reserved seat from East Bengal thanks to Jogendranath Mandal because the one-Anna Congresspeople were still mad about Poona Pact. To a neutral observer does that sound like someone who was about to be put in charge of drafting?

If you read the history books, people in the West have been predicting the death of India's democracy ever since Independence.

It hasn't happened, our democracy is as strong as it's ever been, with a much higher voter turnout than most western nations. We also have a myriad of political parties in power in different states, from communism in Kerala to right wing governance for years in Gujarat.

The US, in comparison, has very low voter turnout even for their presidential elections and extremely popular candidates like Bernie Sanders can't even fight the election, because apparently, a true democracy doesn't allow you to choose from more than 2 choices.

India has its flaws, but all countries do. Doomsayers will keep predicting death, while the people working towards betterment know the flaws and will try to fix stuff instead.

I'd have expected HN to have more of the second view, and I'm pretty disappointed to see that that's not the case.

Demographics is not destiny, if it were true, Pakistan would be more powerful than Russia.

How you organize your society matters much more, Japan/SK has fraction of the global population, and somehow maintain their economic importance.

India has all the problems of a democracy without much of the benefit. It's more likely that India becomes a CCP style country than stays a democracy.

If India was so great it's smaller immediate neighbor wouldn't be so hostile towards it, and friendly to CCP.

CCP was able to organize G77, so they have the numbers on their side, it's just that poor people don't have a voice, China is providing hard power to the masses of humanity against the interests of G7.

It's a major shift in world power, whether G7 likes it or not.

I am no fan of CCP, nor is CCP a fan of how they do things ! but its the world we live in, where the state department can just overthrow the govt of a major country if it likes, you need the use of hard power to survive.

> If India was so great it's smaller immediate neighbor wouldn't be so hostile towards it, and friendly to CCP.

I'm assuming by small country you meant Pakistan. If so, this couldn't be further from truth. Pakistan isn't hostile toward India because India isn't great; the reason is in the reason of its creation and a relentless need to justify that reason. Pakistan came into existence based on an idea that Muslims couldn't survive in a democratic nation with majority Hindu population as Hindus would be a de-facto rulers. (Although this argument has turned out to be a completely false as in India the population of Muslims have grown from 8% to 14%+ after independence. On the other hand, minority population - Hindus/etc. - have declined considerably in Pakistan.) Be it culture, history or language, Pakistan has most things common with India. If there's piece between both, people would soon start questioning reason to stay separate - together both can be a great powerful nation on the world. Many outside interests (read super-powers) wouldn't like this to happen so they keep fueling aggressive elements. Similarly, rulers of Pakistan can't allow this to happen for obvious reason. Till date, you can hear their leaders justifying separation from India in their speeches by highlighting some stray incident happened with some Muslim in India.

Spot on! Don't you think it's interesting to see the current Chinese ruling class's propaganda on HN always harping on their dreamed up superiority of top-down social organisation? Completely oblivious to the value of chaos. One hope they will learn.

Not to mention (West) Pakistan waged a genocidal war against its coreligionists in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) when the East Pakistani Awami League political party won the elections.

That said, the fears of Jinnah and the Muslim League were far from unfounded. While Gandhi was not hostile to Muslims like the VHP/RSS who ended up murdering him, his vision of India accorded them a subordinate role at best, as with the untouchables.

India has always been a pluralist place, and it is not ethnically homogeneous like China (genetically India is composed of a few hundred population clusters that have endogamy higher than 99.9%, higher than Ashkenazi Jews, for example). That's why India is unlikely to ever get a strong centralizing state like China. That also why democracy is a hardy weed in India, and may prove more resilient than the authoritarian Communist regime based on naked force on the other side of the Himalayas. Even the worst disturbances in modern Indian history, around the time of Partition, pale in comparison with the death toll of Mao's Great Leap Forward or his Cultural Revolution.

> India has all the problems of a democracy without much of the benefit. It's more likely that India becomes a CCP style country than stays a democracy.

What is the basis for this? People have been predicting fall of democracy in India for decades (especially in the West), but nothing of that sort has happened. The closest incident was the state of emergency under Indira Gandhi in 1975-1977. India successfully recovered back then when the populace was far less educated and far less exposed to the outside world. It's not likely that anything like that is going to happen again.

Not sure if India is still a democracy.

Media and Judiciary are important pillars of democracy, but they are tightly controlled by the Government in India.

Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by President (Current Government) [1]:

A judge dies right before court case hearing of the top leader of the ruling party. [2]

An Indian Police Service officer [3] is known for his role in filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court of India against the then Chief Minister of the Government of Gujarat, Mr. Modi, concerning Modi's alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. On 30 September 2011, he was arrested due to a case, the Supreme Court suspended the case in April 2012. On 20 June 2019, he was sentenced to life in relation to another case dating back to 1990.

A 27-year old pregnant lady has been lodged in Jail for participating in the anti-CAA protests and denied bail as the judge finds 'no merit' in her bail plea. [4]. She is accused of "planning to hold protests".

A gunman fired shots at protestors during the same anti-CAA protests [5] and gets bail within a month [6] by the court:

A ruling party leader who gave a hate speech during the same anti-CAA protests on camera while police officers standing with him on stage is free and still part of the ruling party. [7]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranjan_Gogoi#Member_of_Rajya_S...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brijgopal_Harkishan_Loya

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanjiv_Bhatt

[4] https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2020/jun/04/ja...

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/30/gunman-injures...

[6] https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/shaheen-bagh-shooter-kapil-b...

[7] https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/bjp-leader-kapil-mishras-3-d...

Throwing in a bunch of complaints (sometimes valid) doesn't mean India is not a democracy. Do the people still choose the government via elections or not? If you don't like policies of the current government, organize the opposition and vote them out. That's not being curtailed by anyone.

How will I organize if government will slap a case against me and will put me in jail? In my previous comment I have shared examples of this happening to people who raised a voice or tried to protest.

Rest aside forming an opposition, I dont even feel safe to comment against government by using my real handle.

This article summarizes state of tv news media in India: http://www.nationalheraldindia.com/amp/story/india%252F14-de...

How are literally hundreds of political parties existing and contesting elections in India? What case will the government slap on you if you want to canvass for an opposition, start a political party or contest elections?

140 Cases Filed Against Members of a newly formed political party, 72 Disposed of, Just 1 Conviction So Far


Edited to add more content:

You can see the difference in how legal system treats you based on if you are from ruling party or opposition.

The prime minister of India is accused of using a fake degree.

See the difference when Indian PM Modi is accused of fake degree:


Vs when a opposition member is also accused of same crime:


Nice try. None of the cases filed are for forming a political party or participating in democratic exercises. They range from criminal cases to defamation. The "newly formed" political party has been in power in Delhi since 2015 and has won the last two state elections. You are proving my point.

Of course they will not directly file a charge against you for forming a political party. But they will find other ways.

Actually they did filed cases against students for protesting against government.


You cite National Herald. You know that the opposition party in India owns this. In fact, they took over vast reals estate property using their influence over this paper. The case in in the court and the top leaders are out on bail.

News media is a business and unfortunately favors the party with more money. There are news media that favor the communists and the main opposition party too. At any rate, please dont cite national herald. Democracy means people’s will, which may not be our personal will. People elected this government twice consecutively. They feel hopeful that there would be positive changes in the country.

Lastly, let’s try to overcome our pain body. We will have to do it some time for our own happiness.

And its so wrong from so many ways when top judge of a country is given a huge perk by the ruling party right after his retirement.

Having one-party rule for 60 years is no democracy.

You don't have a democracy when the state controls all the TV media.

> What is the basis for this

The basis for this is the level of grinding poverty in India, live in a Indian slum for a year and then come back to me, and spew the virtues of "democracy" vs economic freedom and rights.

Poverty is organic propaganda for extremism and communism.

> Having one-party rule for 60 years is no democracy.

Er, what? Democracy means people can choose the government. There were several political parties in those 60 years of Congress rule. They just weren't big enough to win elections. In any case, you just have to look at the last 20+ years to see how government has alternated between political parties.

> You don't have a democracy when the state controls all the TV media.

[citation needed]

> The basis for this is the level of grinding poverty in India

270 million lifted out of poverty just in a decade (2006-2016), second only to China. Existence of poverty means democracy is not the right form governing? You make no sense. What is the alternative?

> live in a Indian slum for a year and then come back to me, and spew the virtues of "democracy" vs economic freedom and rights

I have lived in India for better part of two decades. I don't need lessons from you on what poverty looks like, thanks.

> You don't have a democracy when the state controls all the TV media.

Please share some data points when you make such tall claims. India sure does has Fox and Breitbart equivalent of its own. But that doesn't imply that the state controls 'all the media'.

This article shows a nice summary of topics of news on major tv channels in India

Literally 0 discussion on anything that puts government in bad light. 0 discussion on issues like health, education, unemployment etc. Most of the discussion are on breaking communal harmony (which is in interest of ruling party) and bashing opposition parties.


Please don’t cite national herald. This is an enterprise that is owned by the opposition political party and used to grab prime real estate. You will get the same content in some other newspaper sympathetic to the opposition parties. Please cite that.

India has news channels castigating the govt everyday. Wire, NDTV are 2 examples.

Attempts to bring a constitutional amendment (NRC, CAA) which discriminated against 1 religious community was vehemently opposed and stopped. People took to the streets.

How many political parties does the beacon of democracy in the world have ? How does such an example of democracy end up choosing between a tyrant and a senile ?

Authoritarianism and right wing leaders are on the rise around the world. India is also fighting the same challenges.

Poverty and lack of education are primary reasons of corruption, India is growing organically like a democracy of its size should, fighting the challenges it has.

The only reason India has a voice against China is because of its Nuclear capability, had it relied on the goodwill of the west, India would be bowing to China like other ASEAN countries.

China is at par with US today because of over dependence of the latter on the former. The US can continue to enable a authoritarian, non democratic power, or support a country which believes in its democratic values in becoming its ally against China and stabilize the world.

What do you think will happen to democratic values of the world when China reigns supreme ? (A Uyghur would like to say Hi!)

China has made big short-term gains because of an authoritarian rule. But, for a sustained growth, like that of USA, you need an open, democratic society which allows people to express their newly find voice. As people gain wealth, exposure and education, they gain new intellectual capabilities. This capability can be used for innovation but that requires people don't have undue pressure - they feel free to express their ideas and thoughts. If you're in constant battle with your own people/government, lot of energy is wasted that could otherwise be used to do more important things that can take you and yoru nation further.

Related: Yasheng Huang: Does democracy stifle economic growth? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR-uWwvpn5c&feature=youtu.be

Great countries cant have any dispute with smaller neighbors, they just give away whatever the smaller ones ask for? You make no sense.

> where the state department can just overthrow the govt of a major country if it likes

That's an extraordinary exaggeration. The state dept does not have that power at all, not even close. Show me all the examples of this happening to a major country, much less a major democracy, in the last 50 years.

It's incredibly difficult - nearly impossible - for the state dept to overthrow the government of a major country. That's why Saddam Hussein, the dictator of a very weakened non-major nation, was so hard to remove.

Iran? Overwhelming proof of how hard it is to topple the government of even a mid-major nation. The state dept has wanted to change the government of Iran for four decades now and can't do it.

If the US could topple countries so easily, Putin wouldn't be ruling Russia as a dictator. Chavez wouldn't have continued ruling Venezuela as a dictator (and Maduro wouldn't be in there now). Fidel wouldn't have ruled Cuba as a dictator for so long. China wouldn't be operated the way it is now, ruled by a dictator. North Korea wouldn't be run by the Kim dictatorship. Bashar al-Assad wouldn't still be ruling Syria as a dictator. Although it is interesting what all of these countries have in common.

Indonesia, Brazil, Guatemala, Argentina, Chile, Iran, KSA, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Panama, El Salvador ...


> How you organize your society matters much more, Japan/SK has fraction of the global population, and somehow maintain their economic importance.

They maintain their importance by being creditor nations, i.e. they are productive and save.

> India has all the problems of a democracy without much of the benefit. It's more likely that India becomes a CCP style country than stays a democracy.

There is a fundamental distrust of power structures in India. This is due to multiple waves of colonization by foreign powers, first by the Mughals and second by the British East India Company.

India is likely to be a liberal democracy far longer than the United States. It’s current fascination with populism doesn’t necessarily lead to authoritarianism. Rather it is giving a voice to the most disenfranchised in a country, typically those who are now economically obsoleted by automation.

> If India was so great it's smaller immediate neighbor wouldn't be so hostile towards it, and friendly to CCP.

That is due to political history and infighting between secular and religious figures in India’s independence movement.

Everything you have mentioned is true, but it misses the point.

India needs to go through a period of "communism" to get anywhere, the type of land reform needed to reduce poverty won't happen without somebody brutal enough to go against the interests of the wealthy in India.

India is still mostly a feudal society, that was thrust into the 20th Century from the 16th Century.

It was robbed of 4 centuries of social change.

> infighting between secular and religious figures

and who do you think instigated it ? how was India able to have different religions living side to side without communal violence until the Brits showed up ?

India could fix it's issues with it's neighbors by being more empathic as a regional hegemon, CCP understands this.

It's more likely that the Indian Communist Party comes into power before 2030, and all of Eurasia switches side and forms a cartel against the G7.

Are you serious ?

India traded with Muslim nations far before the Brits showed up. British East India Company had to fight Muslim and Hindu rulers in India,by pitting them against each other, to establish their hold. There are documents of Indian saints living under rule of Muslim kings and vice versa.

Please read more about Colonialism and Indian history.

Even Aurangzeb endowed Hindu temples, contrary to popular perception encouraged by British propaganda for purposes of divide-and-rule.

Any comparison of India with China generally leads to this sort of conclusions. If India and China were students in a class, China would be the topper of the class. India is a good student, just not a topper.

India has been making great progress on most fronts, just not as big leaps as China did.

Well yeah sure, except China is the student that's cheating by faking their grade results. But seriously, how can you call a country's rulers that were so stupid as to implement the one child policy, inclusive of forced abortions, ""winning"" ???

I was actually arguing for India by the point I made - as in, India when compared to China comes out to be a super under-developed country that people consider India to be a basket case; which it is not.

It was an economic basket case, however. That’s why so many Indians left during the socialistic policies of Indira Gandhi. It was due to socialism that India regressed and fell behind China. Had India adopted state capitalism earlier, as it has now, it would have grown at a much faster rate.

> It was an economic basket case, however.


> That’s why so many Indians left during the socialistic policies of Indira Gandhi.

don't know, i think more people leave India now than ever, but that is not necessarily a bad thing (in net).

> It was due to socialism that India regressed and fell behind China.

Questionable, even at the height of cultural revolution in China, India was growing slower than China. Perhaps India had more societal issues that it needs to solve, perhaps China has inherent advantages, in either case, this sort of question is for the historians to discuss.

> Had India adopted state capitalism earlier, as it has now, it would have grown at a much faster rate.


> It's more likely that the Indian Communist Party comes into power before 2030

The Communist parties of India (CPI and CPM) currently have 5 seats out of 543 in the 2019 national elections, down from 10 in 2014, 19 in 2009 and 53 in 2004. Do you spot a trend? And you think they are going to be in power in 10 years? You are way, way off the mark and you have little to no understanding of Indian politics.

We don't need go through communism (which caused massive famines) to irradiate poverty.

Social reforms combined with capitalism has been working nicely for us.


Speaking as an Indian

There is a presumption in that article that population numbers are all that matters.

There's a lot more that needs to be analyzed - for example the natural resources available and the productivity and availability of education and healthcare for the population.

To be clear, I believe there is plenty of opportunity as well as risk for India. The article seems to gloss over the risks

For example India's biggest threat might actually be its depleting ground water



Protecting India's water supply is why India took over Kashmir, and why the Chinese presence in Ladakh and bordering Arunachal Pradesh is so dangerous for India, as those two areas are the source for half of India's water supply.

India must shed Nehru's outdated non-aligned stance (as if China's 1962 treachery hadn't discredited it already) and ally with the US and Japan on equal terms to contain China. India should also invest massively in solar-powered desalination technology to lessen its dependance on river systems that will be disrupted by climate change even without Chinese mischief.

The population factor is a very interesting observation. I think this is missing India's point of view of the situation. India has always been wary of being very close to the US or other Western powers because of history. During the Cold War India was closer to the Russians. If the US wants to improve relations with India, it needs to recognize that India will likely remain independent (another pole in a multi-polar world)

This is true in the case of manufacturing based economy, which world is currently now majored in.

But with knowledge driven economy coming into picture, Having a huge population has any advantage?

First world countries certainly have head start in this case, who are already attracting best brains from across world ( universities and companies)

So, India will retain the importance only if it can sustain current brain drain which means huge investment in younger generation.

Most of the "knowledge driven economy" is bullshit imo. They're busywork that allows societies that already have a lot of wealth to distribute it to their middle and upper class. People like HFTs don't create nearly the same amount value as their income justifies.

It's interesting to note that India's 7% gdp is from software and tech related exports. Knowledge driven economy is not a myth in the case is india

Well, most of that comes by building products from established standards by the west and providing support services. So, the point remains, knowledge based economy, while certainly useful, is not the only way for an economy to grow. Sheer hardwork can be an immense force too, that's what the chinese did over the years and what this article points to as well.

My point is that, with the transformation coming, sheer hardwork will lose the relevance.

China did it when world still needed humans to do lot of manufacturing which is changing very rapidly. In fact, India's manufacturing sector is not adapting lot of automation just to make sure they can capitalise human effort which may be cheaper now but may not be in future ( just like in China)

Correct, but have you thought about what that 7% serves ? Most of it goes to manage real businesses in US and other countries Chase, Walmart, Maersk etc.

Does it really matter whom it serves as long as it improves our economy? BTW what makes you think software is not a real business? It is as essential as manufacturing now.

That has been our policy from a while. To further my point, India is still the biggest exporter of beef.

Who were the "essential workers" during the lock down, other than medical professionals ? Did people horde Wikipedia articles or toilet paper ?

Knowledge driven economy is a possibility in the future. Automation is definitely driving down jobs, but not to the extent we are imagining. Most production of the world is being done in China and other ASEAN countries by its billion+ population.

India should be targetting that future rather than past successes of other economies. That is exactly how China became successful by targeting the future needs before 30 years or so.

While China is investing a lot in AI and automation everywhere, do you think it make sense for India to invest in brick and mortar manufacturing sector?

Now that you raised the question of lockdown. Imagine the similar situation in 20 years in future, do you still expect "essential workers" to risk their lives or rather want some drones/robots(controlled by humans of course) doing the work on ground?

I accept your argument that India should be focusing on the future and not the past. People and govt of India are definitely guilty of that.

But please answer my question, where do you want manufacturing to happen in the next 20 years ? India or China ?

Regarding AI and Automation, yes, India is definitely falling behind in that race and should invest more. But what percentage of the population will support that ? Will the poor care about food on their plates or AI and Automation ? A democracy is represented by majority not minority.

In next 20 years, do you want a world lead by democracies or China ? Please vote with your wallet. Democracy is as much about duties as rights.

Manufacturing sector itself is getting transformed by automation and 3d printing and other tech. Which actually increase the efficiency of capital infused to more output, which can help improve economy overall, hence the people.

Wherever the manufacturing happens, India should lead that rather than doing it itself.

I am all for democracy, but China has proven that democracy may not be needed for economic growth, it is upto people to choose the path rather than something forced on them. I believe in individual liberty than democracy.

India being "a counterweight to the rise of authoritarianism in the 21st century" while Modi and BJP are in power. This is so misguided its funny.

Don't conflate encouraging cult-like following and at times divisive politics with authoritarianism. There are free and fair elections in India. In fact, Modi (and BJP) have lost several recent state elections and handed power over to the opposition. There are a ton of political parties, especially regional, that give BJP a run for their money a.k.a political pluralism.

The reason Modi is running away with national elections is because of the absolute incompetence of the main opposition, the Congress party. Their decades of mind boggling corruption has finally caught up to them and their reluctance to look beyond the Gandhi family for leadership is costing them dearly. That combined with BJP's election machinery (which Modi has built) means that opposition has to raise their game spectacularly, which they are not able to do.

Amen! Majority of the middle class is not so convinced by the BJP at national but against the corruption and elitism of the Congress. Atleast here in HN, ppl should be objective to make their own judgements!

> Don't conflate encouraging cult-like following and at times divisive politics with authoritarianism

But, if I don't, how will I be able to call Trump a facist? /s

In all seriousness, your reply could have been written about the United States word for word. Some people simply see cult like following and divisive politics as being facism. For those people, your explanation explains nothing.

Wasn’t Modi democratically elected — twice?

Exactly! People seem to conflate anti authoritarianism with being pro democracy. It absolutely doesn't have to be the case and India is a great example of it.

Do you know BJP, the party Modi represents lost elections in most states of India ?


Yes. So? You can have a democratically-elected authoritarian. The authoritarian part is about how they govern, not how they get to power. (And, perhaps, how they stay in power. Venezuela is a good example of authoritarians, once in power, stacking the deck so that the next election keeps them in power. And as they become more unpopular, they continue to stack the deck farther and farther. I don't know if Modi and BJP are doing that.)

The problem is that most of your understanding about Modi government is coming from western media which has repeatedly shown to be inherently bias against India [0] becoming strong. Part of the reason could be that India didn't join western club after Independence contrary to their expectations and chose to remain non-align (though it gravitated more toward USSR).

You wouldn't hear that though Modi has won federal elections twice, his party has lost many state elections during the same time. But he hasn't really done anything nefarious that could stop such losses. People has chosen Modi because at this stage, there's no alternative strong figure that can solve many India's problem. YOu'd hear about MOdi removing article 370 from Kashmir, the Citizen bill, but you won't get the details about the real reason of why those are needed to solve the problem India has been facing since independence but no prior gov attempted to implement them (despite agreeing in principles on multiple occasions) just because of vote-politics.

0: https://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2020/5/22/Foreign-Media-and-...

> YOu'd hear about MOdi removing article 370 from Kashmir, the Citizen bill, but you won't get the details about the real reason of why those are needed to solve the problem India has been facing since independence but no prior gov attempted to implement them (despite agreeing in principles on multiple occasions) just because of vote-politics.

So what is the real reason then to solve the problem India has been facing since independence?

I find such broad sweeping projections about population growth, big population numbers = more power, “eclipsing USA” and further conclusions emanating from this kind of line of thinking making zero sense.

Nobody has a clue on how population growth is going to be in next 30 yrs for both China and India. Its too dynamic and impossible to forecast, let alone make broad sweeping action items to advocate for.

Population growth over a 30 year period is quite predictable. The rate is very cultural, and cultures change slowly.

And it's quite clear that population is a component of world power. Definitely not the only component, and probably not the most important component, but if all else is equal, the larger country will be the more powerful.

> If China rises to heights of power that eclipse the US completely, only India may be strong enough to speak for liberal democracy.

With recent history in mind, I doubt the emphasized part. India is not actually a beacon of a liberal or a constitutional democracy, as has been shown in the last six years by the party in power in the central government. If anything, India is regressing and ignoring constitutional protections while also becoming more protectionist and closed to other countries. Mass surveillance, rights being curbed, an authoritarian state that requires citizens to submit to its orders (without legal backing) and other factors are serious concerns that shouldn’t be ignored by outsiders.

Society in India has been getting more progressive over the years. Compare any decade with previous decade and see the difference. It's a trait and gift of democracy, people with access to information adapt themselves to be compatible with modern ideas. There'll always be two sides like in any other countries, but balance is easily achievable.

Your doubt is typical Indian opposition viewpoint right now. They are so just for the sake of opposition.

And your doubt is typical Indian government viewpoint right now.

If someone recognized that they had some level of prejudice against persons from India, what would you advise they do.

To be clear, I have friends of Indian descent, and I value them, but I also work with people from India and I'm afraid I find them more annoying than not.

It's good that you recognise your bias. Most, if not all people have biases. Few recognise them. Even fewer are willing to fix them. So kudos to you.

The best way to work on such feelings is with a professional such as a therapist. I'd like to remind you that there doesn't need to be anything wrong with a person to be able to benefit from seeing a therapist.

Seeing a (good) therapist can, and in almost all cases will make someone a better person because you get a (more or less) objective outside view that makes you question and explore your emotions, why you feel the way you feel, and help you figure out what you can do to change for the better.

That said, IMO, you could start here:

Firstly, you must realise (you very probably already know this, maybe you just haven't given it much thought) that there are all kinds of people from all countries, in all kinds of demographics.

Secondly, it's import to ask yourself what is it about most Indians that you find annoying? Is it their attitude? Is it their accent? Is it their culture?

Don't be ashamed if you find that your reasoning doesn't make sense or isn't completely rational. Feelings often aren't. That's okay.

Once you know what it is that you don't like about Indians, pay attention to it next time you feel annoyed by Indians. Are they really doing something that should annoy you? Or is it a false perception of yours? Recognising biases and catching yourself in the act goes a long way towards overcoming said biases.

You should also try to find like-minded individuals, or individuals that you look up to from the demographic in question and spend time with them. That'll help you realise that there are likable and admirable people within the group too, and help dismiss your biases against them.

This article has some good advice too: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201508/6...

I wish you the best of luck.

I think it depends on what annoys you. I find myself annoyed by any kind of cultural tick. Phrases, mannerisms, cliches, tropes, all bother me to the extent that they are common and pervasive (in any culture).

But by far I see this the worste in youths. Highschoolers and undergrads are so painfully unoriginal. But, that's life. Better to focus your attention on people who you find unique and impressive than to worry about people who are still finding themselves.

All I'm saying is this - I've worked with people across many ethnic/cultural groups. If I can draw any stereotype, it's that the most unique, intelligent, and competent people are those in their 40s.

Realize their children will have shed most of the traits you find objectionable (assuming those are Indian immigrants to the West).

Having a huge population doesn't help much. I am from India and I can say that the current state of the country is not good. There are some good initiatives such as the Digital India initiative and some good advancements on the Fintech scene but the country is not in the best state right now. At least, not positioned for remarkable growth like China had in the past few decades.

> Having a huge population doesn't help much.

The article highlights this by saying "India currently punches below its weight on the world stage" and it's true if we go by the numbers. Also, if we go by the numbers the country is in the best state ever compared to its past. Modernization in manufacturing or agriculture will surely increase the country's output which I believe should be the target of governance.

Also, Participation of women in the economy is super low. This needs to be improved.

Country of 1.3 billion people immensely grateful to a valley wantrapaneur for recognizing its importance.

Implying we need India to "defeat" China then going on to list all the reasons Chinese citizens are doing better than Indian citizens seems to completely invalidate your argument.

India is what one calls a paperweight superpower. They like to think they’re a superpower, meddle in regional affairs, yet get bullied by China and Pakistan on the regular.

India is a paradox https://archive.vn/bS2fL

Capitalism is driving the world, and it is setting the policies as per necessity, different ones in different countries. The west has stopped exporting democracy around the world since the cold war was won. Many countries have democratically elected government turned to autocratic/authoritarian regime.

Oh, "populism" is the new best friend of the rising powers.

>India currently punches below its weight on the world stage due to slow economic development: 30 years ago, its GDP per capita was similar to China’s, but is now 5x lower. However, if India were to enter a period of similarly high growth over the next 30 years as China has for the past 30, it would quickly become one of the most powerful countries in the world thanks to the scaling factor of its immense population.

And if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a bicycle.

Can you please stop posting flamebait to HN so we don't have to restart the rotating ban-wagon game?


Yeah, any comparison to China needs to acknowledge that China is largely ethnically homogenous and has an authoritarian government that has relatively consistent goals top-to-bottom. India is nothing like that and I don't see it becoming like that anytime soon.

> China is largely ethnically homogenous

This is a fiction that was created by Chinese nationalists [1] [2] [3] over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.

"Dialects" between provinces can be very different and mutually unintelligible verbally. In many other contexts they would have been considered different languages, but since the imperial bureaucracy and the Chinese writing system helped maintain a sense of unity in spite of it we don't.

All this isn't to say Han identity is any less real than any other identity. The idea of "ethnic identity" is fundamentally constructed and imaginary across the board. That's also why it's not a great explanatory factor for much of anything. These categories aren't primordial, they're usually reflective of the very thing for which you're trying to use it as an explanation.

[1] https://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/chinesestudies/2016/09/23/863... [2] https://www.jstor.org/stable/20025378?seq=1 [3] https://escholarship.org/uc/item/07s1h1rf

Yeah, I'm aware of that, however, most Chinese still consider themselves Han Chinese. So even if it is somewhat of a fiction, most people within China consider it true, which is what is relevant for the purposes of having a national identity.

My point is, they consider it true because of the country's political cohesion. If the country wasn't politically cohesive, the ethnic identity wouldn't be either. The unified identity is explained by the political homogeneity as much as it explains it.

I think the causality works both ways. If you have an ethnic identity, it's easier to assimilate new arrivals, especially when you are numerically superior. This has been the history of China for a long time.

They are not exactly homegenous when you consider Tibet and other regions which have been coerced into the union.

Right, and those are the areas that have the most problems, but they are a small part of China as a whole. India is made up of a bunch of such places.

May I know how many years your grandmother was kept as a slave and abused ? Indian experienced it for 200+ years.

People (Americans dare I say ?) have no problems accepting blacks are behind whites on most development indices EVEN TODAY because of slavery and oppression, but somehow can't extend the same logic to former colonial countries like India.

Recent economic hardships of a particular class has threatened democracy and made a joke of fabled American institutions, despite high levels of education and wealth. But a country which was oppressed for centuries and is still reeling in poverty, for benefit of the Western world, now is in a position to help them with a little bit of help and you still can't extend a helping hand in good faith.

Maybe your grandmother would have been a bicycle if she had wheels, but you despite having a brain are a simpleton.

REF: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7CW7S0zxv4

Please don't feed the trolls. The site guidelines put it this way: "Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead."



If you post like this, you're perpetuating a nationalistic flamewar, which is just as bad as starting it. If people simply flagged the firestarter it would fizzle out.

My Apologies. A lesson learnt.

I was just replying to the text I quoted, buddy.

Additionally, blaming all of today's problems of India on "slavery", just like they do with blacks in America, is baseless and patronising.

Churchill killed over a million Bengalis. This history isn't that old.

India's been leaning right for a while from what I've seen, I'd rather the EU decouple itself from U.S. foreign policy and be an independent, serious counterbalance to China, India, Russia and the U.S.

But I suspect the possibility of that happening is rather slim, sadly.

"A country is not made of land; a country is made of its people" --Unknown https://archive.vn/bS2fL

India is Feudalism masquerading as Democracy https://archive.vn/pOmij https://archive.vn/8HKHz

Then Nigeria and Bangladesh have a significant advantage over Japan, Germany, France and the UK.

Insofar as they’re not trending toward population extinction, yes.


Lets look at the larger picture. India outlawed untouchability the day constitution was adopted. No ambiguity, no ifs or buts. Not just that, state and people adopted corrective measure to reverse years of discrimination in the form of reservations. Reservations continue to this day and have only increased. Please give me some example where people have gone to this extend to correct historical social injustice. Not a single person I have met in my life denies that cast system is problem needs to go away. I have seen real change in people's attitude. Cast for the most part has vanished from daily life of majority of Indians. You can see its predominance today mostly in marriage. It will fade away with time as well.

Indian election system has continuously improved over the years. Election violence has reduced the minimum and power transition is always peaceful.

Upward mobility has improved. Many government services have improved tremendously. I can go on and on. Point is everything is improving albeit not at the China's pace. But I will take freedom that I enjoy here anytime over somewhat faster development pace.

I won't disagree with you, but would rather give people some context who are reading your comment and have never lived in India.

Like everything else in India, even this phenomenon exists in extremes. There are cities like Bangalore/Delhi/Hyderabad (almost all Tier 1 cities) where the IT sector flourishes, the concept of caste is almost invisible; bear in mind this is coming from someone who is from those lower castes.

Then you have other places where it is still socially accepted. My parents home in one of northern states is one of them. Communities/small villages are clustered based on castes, people might be forbidden from entering certain places like temples. Caste based marriages are still the norm there. It's certainly improving, but it takes time like everything else. My father still lives there and occasionally tells me about how things are changing, for instance he recently told me about a Muslim family who have been living there for the past decade, something that might not have been possible even 20-30 years ago.

> There are cities like Bangalore/Delhi/Hyderabad (almost all Tier 1 cities) where the IT sector flourishes, the concept of caste is almost invisible; bear in mind this is coming from someone who is from those lower castes.

I haven't had the "caste conversation" with my Indian friends for a few years now, but last time I did, they all said marrying outside of their caste would never be accepted by their parents. Friends from Mumbai, Delhi and Pune all said the same. Have things really changed so much in the past 5-10 years?

Preferring marriage within the same cast has to do more with having partner from the same cultural/family norms and practices. You see, Indian society is quite old (thousands of years); there are lot of customs re ways of worship, deities, dresses, eating/etc. that have evolved over this period and people (mostly parents) prefer a match in that regard. Because mostly marriages are arranged by parents (though in cities at least, love marriage has also become a common place thing.)

And if you talk to Americans, many of their parents would not accept if they came out as gay. That doesn't mean human rights are not advancing in the US, it just means that the previous generations have a hard time letting go of their bigoted beliefs.

Whoah there, I didn't say there hasn't been progress; I was asking a question in relation to "the concept of caste is almost invisible", because several Indian friends from different cities have told me otherwise

Is this a meme? Have you actually spent time in India? Caste based discrimination is illegal, so the country isn't "enforcing" any of it. In fact, there are several measures to counteract discrimination (like reservations, which is a whole other topic).

This just seems like a poor, uneducated opinion for the likes of HN.


I don't think I'm doing anything close to what you're suggesting, except merely saying caste system isn't a state policy enforced by the government. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the society.

> Why are you doing a 'not all men', 'i have black friends' thing here?

> If you're a brahmin then please stop talking for the victims of your very own system.

This is not a level of discussion I want to engage in. It's neither informative nor productive.

Good try there. After you're done with the jokes, you can read the persecution faced by the current PRESIDENT of India.


If you had searched it a little more, you would have found that it was a fake story - https://www.indiatoday.in/fact-check/story/viral-test-no-mis...

News these days isn't something you can trust blindly. Many a times, fake stories have been planted for political motive/social unrest. Suddenly before election lynching stories start to pop up, see the pattern and understand the motive behind.

Casteism against Dalits is not a political motive. It's the way of life.

Also the above fact check by india Today is a lie. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.news18.com/amp/news/india/p... The supreme court had stepped in to express displeasure!

Also this is not a perspective to hold based on a news article. You are making it sound like it's a rate thing happening in India.

> A low caste guy was shot dead last week for entering a temple.

Check the last paragraph in that news:

> However, SP Amroha Vipin Tada denied the father’s charges saying that the initial report suggests of a dispute between Vikas’s elder brother and the accused over money. The police maintained that the murder was the result of an altercation between the two accused, and the elder brother of the deceased, over a sum of Rs 5,000.

As I also found that the president related news you share was also proven false. I can only tell you again that not everything you are reading these days is a truth. If you keep a certain prospective, the world will appear exactly like that to you whichever way you see because your mind looks for and rejoices in validation of its beliefs/opinions.

Sorry I have just experienced/read too much in real life experiences to not believe in casteism.

On the small note: of course the police maintain that it was not true

I'm not saying there's no castism - there's always some sort of discrimination in every society as human beings mostly behave as selfish and unkind due to their insecurities and prejudice. But voices against are also far easier to express and be heard these days. However, if you fuel anger and hatred in you, you're only going to get bitter and restless. which will waste your energies which you could otherwise spend in more meaningful/productive activities that uplift people you care about.

Plus not everything is black and white, no matter how much we want to see it that way. For instance, many Brahmans are also in very bad condition in India. There's a prospective that if you read with an open mind, can be useful. Found that here: https://www.ifih.org/ThePlightofBrahmins.htm

In current time the opportunities are endless. By being positive and productive, we can grow India and the world into a beautiful place, fighting, denigrating and blaming each other will only delay that.

>many Brahmans are also in very bad condition in India

That's not because of the caste system. Please read about social capital.

India is striding away from these practices. The ground reality is quite different today, unfortunately, the outside world has this impression from historic books or articles about India which are largely outdated now. There is very little information on the internet regarding the improvements and the shift of the young generation here in India away from such practices.

One needs to be completely blind to make this heartless claim. Are you being sarcastic or something?


The above list is a sparsely updated list of caste crimes in India. What do you mean casteism is outdated? A dalit and a brahmin are equal in this society?

If so kindly show us a place where its the case!

This is the PRESIDENT of the country being shoved upon entering a temple! https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/opinion-the-jagannath-te...

So, kindly stop lying

You yourself are the perfect example of an Indian that has refused to accept such traditions and have criticized it openly. This was the improvement I was talking about.

There cannot be an overnight change but I believe the change is happening.

Oh Sorry no. Im fortunate enough to be born in Tamil Nadu, South India where caste system was fiercely fought against starting from the 50s. It has helped our society to grow more or less equally. Not just upper castes.

Millions of Indians have criticised this in the past and continue to do so. To deny casteism in India is like denying racism in the USA. The systems/power structure has not changed. The same old rotten filth continues to decide our lives and sorry we are not privileged enough to be free from caste oppression if we hang out with upper caste friends.

I lived in India in the 80s. Hindu fundamentalists drove home ideas of caste-ism to exploit the populace. The southern states luckily called out “Brahmanism” and their populace didn’t suffer quite as much. Under Modi, it’s like history repeating itself.

The PRESIDENT is a dalit man. It would have been impossible for him to become the president two/three decades ago. This shows that we have indeed improved in certain aspects. It's true that a lot of work still remains.

That temple incident is certainly bad and many social evils still persist in the society. The only way to quickly get rid of them is to have a China style 'cultural revolution', which involves destroying temples and other religious sites. But I guess it's not something which will go well with any Indian.


I think they meant that having a Dalit man be presidett is proof that there has been some progress, same as Obama's presidency in the US. That showed that progress has been made in the battle against racism, even if it certainly doesn't mean that racism is over.

The president is not an elected post but a selected post. They selected a dalit exactly for this reason the person above states. For tokenism. The current govt is a Hindutva ideology based govt meaning they literally believe Dalits are just lower humans. The president from a dalit community was just tokenism.

I anticipated such a reply. Obviously you don't know anything about his law career and work towards the poor sections of the society[1].

As far as the tokenism goes, keep in mind that the current PM is from an OBC. So much for the 'lower human' theory.

1. https://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/ram-nat...

Theory. Yes

Oh, OK, I wasn't aware, sorry. Thanks for the explanation!

Please ignore their reply. Our Prime minister, which is the most powerful position in the country, is also from a 'lower class'. They're deliberately giving it a negative spin as it suits their policial viewpoint.

I understand that possibility, but their reply is still right in that a named position is fundamentally different than an elected position, which I assumed the president to be. That of course does NOT mean that someone being named to such a position is automatically tokenism.

That's what I meant. Thank you.

Im not sure if this is the case. India is transforming the caste system into modern form rather than striding away. There is still systemic discrimination happening across India based on caste. It is predominant in rural india than urban.

For ex: caste based marriages and honour killings are best example for these instances.

Indian urban liberals try their best but they don't know the reality on ground

Sorry, but this is an irresponsible conclusion. Today's "untouchables" are largely due to socioeconomic class differences rather than systemic caste oppression, which has been outlawed for a while.

The same inequality is growing quickly in the USA when you consider the percentage of wealth the 1% has.

> But India is still a Semi Slavery society.

> The Hindu caste/social grouping system tells millions of people that they are contaminated and their fate is doomed upon birth.

Sure, maybe 100 years ago. But attitudes have been changing and there are numerous government programs designed specifically to bring up those in "lower castes" with the ultimate goal of equality for everyone. Indian culture is still very different from Western culture and far deeper ingrained into the average person. Change does not happen overnight. Everything happening in India in a broader view points to a trend of more equality and freedoms, not less. More governmental programs seek to address issues of inequalities, especially caste discrimination, than at any prior point in Indian history. Of course there are still issues, I won't argue there are no flaws, but calling it a Semi Slavery society these days is delusional at best, malintent at worst.

for all practical purposes this doesn't exist any more. It's jsut that western media focuses on it a lot.

This. This is so true.

India can never be a superpower until we are born inequal at birth!

There will be growth only in a society which has some sort of equality.

Anyone can look at the amount of upper castes in positions of power, land ownership share and executive positions in the country. You have to compare it with the population distribution among castes and you'll see the inequality immediately.

The main problem here is that it's not even in the mainstream public discourse cause the narrative is always set by the upper castes.

People were trending black lives matter as if they care about humanity. It was so hypocritical!

This won't stop unless caste is uprooted from the society.

What is the distribution of land ownership based in caste, any citation?

> The main problem here is that it's not even in the mainstream public discourse cause the narrative is always set by the upper castes.

mainstream public discourse is set by whoever can set it, it is free for all. In my understanding it is generally the left leaning literate class, talking for suppressed classes. True, most of them have descended from upper-caste, but have since devowed their caste and have become caste-agnostic.

> This won't stop unless caste is uprooted from the society.

Caste is largely getting uprooted from society, I don't see this bringing social equality. In truth, now there is a upper-caste among lower-case -- the early beneficiaries of the reservation with whom others in the lower caste can't compete.

> mainstream public discourse is set by whoever can set it, it is free for all

No, its not. The ones with social power only will be able to set the narrative in any society.

>Caste is largely getting uprooted from society, I don't see this bringing social equality.

This is not true. The system stays the same. We are in a modernised casteist society

>In truth, now there is a upper-caste among lower-case -- the early beneficiaries of the reservation with whom others in the lower caste can't compete.

The point of reservation is for representation. Not for competence or anything else. Again this is a classic upper caste narrative that is pushed repeatedly. Its not an economic upliftment program. Its only for representation.

I wonder if this was also part of the reason Buddhism didn't become the predominant belief system in India.

Buddhism was prominent in India till Muslim invaders came and conquered India. Buddhist Monastery were sitting ducks for them, Buddhism was eliminated in the first wave of Islamic invaders.

Of-course there were struggles with others before that, such as Brahmins, but those were political struggles, not existential. Many times Buddhists gained the favor of Kings, other times Brahmins.


Yes, Buddhism cannot be tolerated by Brahmanism. Its simply outside the caste system that removes power from Brahmins.

PS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Buddhists

EDIT: https://medium.com/@ArainGang/hindu-persecution-of-buddhists...

Did you even read it. There were struggles with Brahmins, but those were political struggles, not existential.

Muslim invaders eliminated them forever from India. Read this section: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Buddhists#Perse...

We hope to see a Dalits Lives Matter(DLM) movement in India TODAY. That is, if this country cares human rights and equality at all.

To be fair, groups like that exist and work closely within the political spectrum for influence, not just in protest and agitation as in BLM. There have been several Dalit leaders and non-Dalit leaders for backward class upliftment.

> But India is still a Semi Slavery society.

Unlike the USA and other western countries? Have you been in USA recently? In fact, if one did the genuine stats incorporating analysis of wage slaves and issues around food stamps, I'd wager that slavery is more of an issue in USA.

> It is so hard to believe such brutal system still exist in human society

It is so hard to believe that James Byrd Jr was dragged behind a truck until his head popped off due to the friction with the road. That was not in the 1800s. That was in 1998. This wasn't in some Appalachian village, it was in Jasper. Yes, a sunset town. And that murderous knee for 8 minutes 46 seconds on George Floyd. That was in 2020. In Minneapolis. Not some tiny Indian village. Do we really need to keep going? We should look in the mirror.


Why is this downvoted? OP is blunt but makes great points.

Authoritarianism is great in aggregates, but only those who have faced the horror know its problems, as individuals.

China is doing very well today and we have a lot to learn from them, but what happens when they reach the top and dominate ? What values will guide them ? What keeps those in power in check ?

Do you see what's happening in South China sea ?

COVID-19 spread because voices were suppressed in the beginning and a lack of free media. If anything it should be an example of the danger suppression of free speech to the whole world.

Why was the WHO president/vice president so afraid of speaking against China ?

Why are basket ball players and NBA afraid of speaking out against China but openly criticize their own president ?

> If China rises to heights of power that eclipse the US completely, only India may be strong enough to speak for liberal democracy

right, both countries are systemically killing, displacing and putting muslims in imprisonment camps

Oh pls!! Trolling just for the sake of trolling, you can do it on Twitter. Those imprisonments if at all happened, have a validity and supreme courts are very good to handle any issues like that.

How is this trolling? Millions are affected across China and India, people are dying on a daily basis ... But yeah I get it they have no purchase power and they're not white not Christian so who gives a shit

I don't rate India. Their legal framework is very weak, corrupt nation, hygiene problems and massive overpopulated dense cities.

India is like a thousand different things heading in a thousand different directions. And those vectors change from day to day. There is no control in such a system. Only an illusion of control.

Its as good as looking at two hurricanes and saying well this hurricane is heading towards us, so we better "support" the other one and maybe cool shit will happen.

It makes an engaging story though.

> India is like a thousand different things heading in a thousand different directions.

The Republic of India more than 70 years old. And India is not the only democracy with a multitude of cultures.

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