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The Brown Pandit's brown cast. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another edition of The Brown Politics Broadcast. Today we have with us actually a lady actually is based in India. He is in he is, I guess, a businessman or he works in private equity, but he's interested in politics, is what you might consider an Indian conservative. And we wanted to get his opinion on things that are going on in India right now. So actually, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Great to be on, I guess, like most upper middle class Indians have had the two major cultural influences, kind of westernized cosmopolitan identity. Right. Or both in terms of education and profession. I mean, I work in private equity. I used to be a consultant at McKinsey and so on, so that those influences, I think, are fairly global and also westernized. But also I think there was a fairly strong influence growing up of Hindu traditions, specifically in my case, being belonging to the South Indian smarter Brahmin community of those that went with that philosophy.
So both of these have been fairly significant cultural influences. And as I just said, often, politics is downstream from culture. So in some shape or form, I'm sure it influences philosophy and politics also in some ways.
OK, so we have with us Mukunda and Srikanth and guys, we want to start and ask actually about anything.
Yeah, sure. Go ahead.
I think you had a couple of to interact with Akshay over the years on Twitter. And one of the things that strikes me is I think actually is very good at articulating the differences between conservatism in general and what conservatism mean in an Indian context, I think would be good to hear your thoughts on on this on how do we understand conservatism globally and how does Indian conservatism differ from political conservatism in the West, for instance, church?
Yeah, I think in some ways, I mean, where I come from on conservatism in general is really the question of how do you bring about order in any complex system right at the highest level of abstraction for any complex system where you have many variables which kind of interact in different ways to give rise to an output.
It's not possible to actually do intelligent design to actually be able to control all of them. So how do you actually, like, bring a world order in such as system really through a process of evolution, of tinkering and experimentation? That's how it happens in biological evolution. In many ways. I would say society is also a complex system and this process of tinkering and experimentation and the use of heuristics is in many ways what we call culture. Right. Which is a set of best practices, heuristics, things that work which are codified in the form of traditions, norms, institutions that contain a lot of the basic knowledge that then we inherit and we practice and then pass on to the next generation because they work.
So in many ways, conservatism in general is this impulse of having this respect for what you've inherited as traditions, as an alternative institutions, because they've helped bring about order in society and in recognizing with a sense of intellectual humility that it's not possible for us to be able to come up with axioms of principles which will bring about the same kind of order. And we have to rely upon this received wisdom, so to speak. Now, the find that we actually conservatism by itself is not really an ideology.
It's more of an impulse. It's a universal impulse to say, OK, I've received something from Ancestress ancestors and I do need to kind of preserve that and pass that on. What makes it an ideology really is the specific context. So Indian conservatism is an ideology, but conservatism policy is more of an impulse. Right.
And the specific norms and specific cultural practices and traditions that you inherit that you want to pass on and that you want to also politically mobilize around is what makes conservatism and ideology. And so the objective Indian in the label Indian conservative actually does a lot of work because it kind of infuses the content of an ideology into that.
So how would you what would you describe as Indian tradition when when you think of yourself as a sort of a conservative person who has respect for tradition, you may alter the tradition, but he knows that he gives it some weight and doesn't take it lightly. But what is that tradition? Yeah, sure.
I think, like I was mentioning, since it's a set of heuristics, one can't really come up with a set of finite list of axioms because it's a totally different method of thinking to say that, OK, rather like five principles of conservatism. But if I have to use a single term for this entire set of traditions, norms, customs, values and even institutions that largely govern a lot of our lives in India, I think tomorrow does that. That does capture that fairly well, which is to say that, you know, there's a whole set of these norms and these traditions that we have inherited, that if we preserve that and if we pass that on, that it has served our society.
But even so, at an Indian conservative, I think that there are essentially two things that I would look for. One is really the practice and then the passing on also of aftermath. And second, then, how does one deal with modernity, which is the West, when there are pressures of modernity on us dealing with this, with the with synthesis, with religion, society and traditions, with the needs of modernity.
I think the second aspect, but also at the highest level, I think these other two kinds of things that one should look for as an Indian conservative, which is President Obama, and undertake a project of synthesis of modernity.
So, I mean, this is always a very touchy, iffy and amorphous question again is what does Dhamar here? Because I mean, what Obama meant a thousand years ago with Obama means two thousand years ago. What it means today are entirely different. And Dharma, what do you mean by dumb or do you mean Dharma's and like of our nationalism? Do you mean like do you mean samani that? I mean, that's what I would like to know.
Like what do you define as dogma here to that need to be protected and passed down.
Yes. So I think for the large part, I think you've covered some of this in your previous podcast with Srikanth as well. For the last part, I think we ought to think of India as a model, as an auto accident, as a set of things that you practice.
So my drama out of what I see is what I need to protect and pass on to the next generation is what I have inherited, which which is a whole set of traditions.
I mean, for me, it could range from, as I said, I mean, things like that, which I have inherited as part of my family traditions. It is it could be even very quotidian, simple things of Day-To-Day life like, let's say, vegetarianism. But there is a whole set of things ranging from the very philosophical to the very mundane. And Day-To-Day, which I see as part of that mind, what we pass on. So the simple guide to my mind of what one should pass on to the next generation is what you have inherited.
Take that seriously. If that it's a practice that and through a process of osmosis and through the preservation, you will pass that on to the next generation. I don't think that beyond that, one has to really look for commonalities across the various different traditions and norms and institutions that we have in India and in Hinduism to come kind of come up with like this common sense.
I think each of us kind of preserving our individual variant of the set of traditions that we have is the best thing that we can do in terms of both preserving order and in terms of maintaining the kind of heterogeneity that is there as part of that.
And yeah. So OK, so you did speak earlier about the skepticism of intelligence towards intelligent design and the importance of complex adaptive systems. So in this context, the way I think of political conservatism globally is basically three parts to it. And one is respect for the idea of the sacred in politics. And then you have the tendency to constrain the power of the state. But conservatives in general are sceptical of state engaging in social engineering. And then there is respect for communal wisdom, relying on community to solve problems by itself as opposed to relying on the state.
Right. So in these three respect and I think of Indian politics and conservatism in India and in the political sphere. Right. Of course, we we often recall parties like the ramrodded bloodshed and maybe even photometer party, which probably represented large aspects of what I spoke about in terms of Indian conservatism. But then do you really regard the modern conservative parties in India, like, for instance, the BJP in the how do you regard them in this light?
Because would you regard the 12, for instance, as conservative or radical to be regarded as conservative? And I think you've also made the point in discussions on Twitter that conservatism in India is not necessarily housed in a single party that there is in every party. It would be good if you could read more on that.
As I see it in there. Conservatism is socially dominant and hence it is politically dormant. Let me just explain what I mean by that is that the default state in many ways as a society for us is the preservation of our is the passing on of traditions, because we are a deeply traditional society right now.
On top of that, you have a state which sometimes has social revolutionary impulses.
And it is sometimes I won't say it all the time, but there is definitely a certain aspect of the state which which does have a nature of social engineering. When that happens, essentially, you almost have like an immune reaction of some of this politically dormant impulse of conservatism rearing its head up.
Right. And that is not necessarily in any single party. I think conservatism and then conservatism is best thought of in the political realm as factions within political parties as opposed to being housed in any single political party or even any single political movement like Hindutva. I mean I mean, just to make this a little concrete, let's take a recent example.
A couple of years ago when you had the court judgement on somebody, Milosh, right when that happened, there was a natural kind of like reaction that happened in society. And you will see that in the political realm. Found a voice not just in the RSS and the BJP changing their stance on the issue and kind of lately, but but vigorously championing that cause.
But humans are like a liberal, so to speak, like Shashi Tharoor or even Gandhi, kind of take that that issue up. So in many ways, the reality. Realism is as a kind of check on the state when its revolutionary impulses get a little too radical and given the fact that it is socially dominant. I don't really see it as something which needs to express itself in the political realm very actively. Unless, as I said, I mean, there is an overenthusiasm on the part of the.
Right, yeah. So I just have a follow up question on that, though, I mean, constraining the part of the state, maybe to the point earlier that if a characteristic of political conservatives globally, but you don't necessarily see that in India. Right. In part because what you mentioned and what that a blue and Francis Fukuyama has spoken about the strong phosphide model. Right.
And and you see this even in the rhetoric of BJP, BJP in the early years and even Jen-Hsun great that there is a lot of rhetoric against the or concentration of power.
But when you look at modern political centre right parties in India, like, for instance, BJP, you don't necessarily see that strong impulse against a strong state, right? That's right. And I think you made a point once that in part because in India, we have to have ideas. It's not just state with a society, rather a state on one hand. And then you have Hindu society and Muslim society and Hindu and either of these societies, they look at the state not as a threat to their traditions.
Rather, they look at the state as an opportunity to gain ascendancy over the rivals fight. If you could maybe.
Yeah, to some extent, absolutely right. I think we have to contextualize conservatism in India as a society which got a sovereign state through a process of decolonization. Right. Which and hence the split in many ways is our state, which gives us an opportunity and not just a threat for us to achieve certain goals, even social goals and the preservation of traditions.
And hence, I mean, if you just rewind a little, if you take the Indian national movement itself, the three major facets to it of the Indian national movement.
One was just a process of state building, which is inherit this state from the British Raj, exercise sovereignty and use the status as an agent of modernization so that the preservation and expansion of the state was kind of the first project.
But the second was really a process of nation building, which is how do you convert the cultural Indian to a political Indian? How do you raise political consciousness in this people to build themselves into a corporate body which seeks a common goal?
And then there's a third one, which is really social reform to make it an egalitarian society.
And the national movement had all these three strands and it which was shaped as a consequence of this national movement, also then inherited all these three strands and has all these three facets. Given that that's the case, I think any political movement in India will also look at that first impulse, which is let's build a state, let's use that as an agent of modernization. And also look at the second aspect, which is the process of nation building, which is let's use the state as a process of emphasizing those traditions, those aspects of our cultural identity, and really make it salient in the national identity, since both of these are seen as opportunities by by conservatives or are not conservatives, at least right wingers or what is generally termed as a cultural right.
I think that there is a tempering of the skepticism of the state.
I think the skepticism of the state really comes about in the third project, which is that of social reform, which is where the state actually looks to reshape society. That's where the skepticism comes from. But very much on the first and the second where society in some ways is kind of reshaping the state of the nation and reshaping the state, so to speak. That is very much looked upon as an opportunity in India. And I would say that that's looked upon as an opportunity in India by various social groups, whether it is Hindus, Muslims or even subgroups within Hindus.
Like even in some ways, one could even say the linguistic and caste political mobilization is an attempt by ordinary communities or organic communities to reshape the state and give primacy to their castra linguistic identity in the kind of corridors of power and in the nature of the state. Right. So so even that in some ways this a process of the society looking at the state as not just a threat, but an open.
And I don't want to sort of derail this conversation into the typical Hindu Muslim thing. There's a lot of things you can discuss within without even touching on what to do about the Muslims in India. But it's a question, right? And it's still the conversation we had until now. Looking at karma, I assume that it means people who are Muslims in India, what is their tradition and what is their role in this new India, in your view?
Chuck, I think in many ways, and then conservatives, like all Indians, I think should sign up for the project of the small L liberal Democratic state, what I mean by that is essentially the project of a common state, fundamental rights, separation of powers and so on.
That state, which you have kind of inherited from the British Raj, I think, and that we gave ourselves as well is something that all Indians, including Indian conservatives and Indian Hindus, should really sign up for, which essentially means that I don't anticipate any real challenge or change to the rights or even the cultural life of Muslims or any non Hindus in the Indian state, because I don't think that any positive or constructive goal is achieved by by really trying to reshape the state in that direction.
What I think will happen and will inevitably happen in a democratic state is that public culture will increasingly start to reflect in many ways the dominant cultural impulses of society, which happen to be more influenced by Hinduism.
Just given sheer numbers and even within Hinduism, I would say that it would be more influenced by those traditions, those aspects which are not necessarily like in some senses, even the what one might term as the more pragmatic lot, Sanskrit, Hinduism.
But increasingly, I mean, our public culture will start to resemble Hinduism in general. And I would say what is sometimes less folk in the room in particular. Right. So so I see a lot of that as being increasingly dominant in our public culture. But I don't really anticipate that there is any merit in trying to reshape the state in fundamental ways from it's a smaller liberal Democratic origins and hence not really affecting the rights of any non Hindus in any way.
Yeah, and just to add to a point regarding your question on Muslims in the context of Indian conservatism, there's also a fairly robust tradition of Muslim conservative in India. And you might argue that in some respects, Muslim conservatives have been more successful in leveraging the state to further their ends than Hindu traditionalists. And they could like for instance, there was the extremely conservative, traditionalist Hindu party by the British funded by Islamic Party back in the 50s. Now, that party failed significantly in its attempt to resist the reform of Hindu laws.
So the Hindu law was reformed significantly in the mid 50s, and the British had failed in its mission to reform the to resist the reforms that were pushed by the Congress party at that time. On the other hand, if you look at Muslim conservatives, I mean, Muslims don't have a very strong conservative party for themselves. I mean, there is a imam headed by Mr OAC, which is a fairly marginal regional party. But I think I have made the point elsewhere that you have Muslim conservatives in every party and and they have been successful in somehow resisting reform of their Muslim personal loss.
For instance, I think in some respects, Muslim conservatives have been even more successful than Hindu traditionalists.
And so there is that yeah, I think this faction approach where you essentially influence parties from within. Right. And this is classically a political scientist at an extreme at this point, even for the Indian left, that they've achieved more of their goals through the reaction of the Congress party by being a faction within the Communist Party rather than having left parties policy. And I think both Hindu and Muslim conservatives have achieved a reasonably salient cultural goals by acting as factions within parties over the deterioration of Muslim personal law, or in the case of Hinduism, in the last 20 odd of what nearly 30 states in India have some kind of restriction on of right now that has not been achieved through the vehicle of only, quote unquote, a right wing party like the BJP, but also the Congress party itself.
So in many ways, I think this this approach of acting as a faction within political parties to reflect the kind of common sensibility, the dominant sensibility of conservatism that's there in Indian society, I think is the right approach for Indian conservatives be.
So what is the. There's another party that also is, I guess you might say, opposed to Indian conservatism of the kind you describe, which is what you might call liberal Hindus, or I don't know if liberal is the right word, but liberal left wing Congress, party loyalists, whatever. There's a whole slew of terms for them, but they are not people who are at all happy with how you would describe your project. And they are very prominent in certain sections in India.
Right. In the media, or at least they seem prominent from overseas. I don't know how prominent they are within Indian society, but from outside they are certainly prominent. They are the people who write in The Washington Post and The New Yorker.
I would say that while conservatism is socially dominant in many ways, it's not institutionally dominant. So the institutional inheritance of the of the Indian state and also the intellectual elite is for the large part what one could call liberal of. Right.
And in many ways, that does stand at odds with what one would describe as a project of Indian conservatism, because there are very clear normative goals that that Hadass, which is essentially to really take individual rights and individual liberty, rather as the primary kind of axiom of how a society ought to be organized and really have tradition as having to pass through that filter of whether it actually does give primacy to individual liberty, to equality and fraternity, so on and so forth.
And only if it satisfies those axioms is isn't an acceptable tradition. And if it isn't, then it has to be kind of quote unquote, modernized. Right.
And you do see that that that impulse, as I said, because it is intellectually and institutionally dominant, it does kind of it does pose a challenge to society and to conservatives periodically. But I think we have I mean, kind of two projects which have to deal with that. One is really just tactical resistance through the safety valve of democracy. When that when that happens, which is as an example for the conference that happened, or if tomorrow I mean, any moves are made for it, for any of these things.
Let's say that even reform of the law of Muslims, then there would be a natural reaction against that.
So while it's true, like the natural mechanisms of democracy, so to speak, but the second, which is, I think, a more constructive project and not just kind of a standing athwart history, was William F. Buckley said the real constructive project here is really one of dinicola on reality, which is really how do we kind of revive Indian knowledge systems in a way that the fundamental assumptions of liberalism where you take all of these as normative goals, saying that, yes, a society has to be efficient and has to become more liberal, which means it has to give priority to liberty, equality, fraternity, how one starts to question and interrogate that and really also give sufficient emphasis to our knowledge systems, our values of things like sanctity and loyalty and respect to traditional sources of authority.
I think that is something that we ought to review in society so that that impulse to kind of reform society through a liberal lens is checked. But there seems to be more than just the usual, let's say there's there are liberals in in Japan, in America, in Korea, whatever, and there are conservatives and they argue with each other. But the mainstream liberals in most of these societies are actually very on top of being proud of their history and having a certain nationalistic impulses as well, and would not be at all sort of averse to a lot of things to which Indian liberals are really not happy with their sort of a unique group, I think in the world.
I don't think there's many other places that have this exact sort of combination of ideologies. So I don't think it's likely that they are going to take you at your word and think, OK, we can work with these people. You're like like the way people treat Trampas in America, right? You're Nazis, your people who cannot be talked to. How do you read?
I don't think that there is a way to bridge that gap without that second project, which I talked about, which is essentially one of fundamentally reviving Indian knowledge systems of Indian traditions in such a way that there are normative ideals of at least the intellectual elites are not coming from only liberal and right.
And if it does, then honestly, I mean, the conversation can't even begin. Right. So if you if you approach the conversation by saying he has a backward tradition, a set of people who have inherited superstitions, backward traditions, and we need to modernize and we need to make the society new and change its impulses which are inegalitarian, which are misogynistic or whatever, then I mean, it's very difficult because once the conversation starts off on their own, I mean, it's very difficult to have a policy conversation or a practical political conversation when the fundamental framework with which one is approaching society and traditions is filled with suspicion.
Right. And essentially also contempt in a sense. So I don't see this as something which which will change immediately. I don't think that it can change without a fairly elaborate project of cultural renewal there in the intellectual elites we really revive, in the knowledge systems respect for tradition. We are able to situate those traditions and show their value. I think unless we are able to demonstrate that, I don't think that this conversation will happen necessarily at the intellectual level, but we will be able to find such common ground.
Having said that, as I said, because there is of it a socially dominant.
I do see you see it as being reflected in the political realm and in practical policy, even without a full buy in of there in some sense of the ontology of intellectual elite today. And we do see that in India today.
So you see a lot of lament about the kind of disappearance of the idea of India and so on and so forth. And as I see it, I mean, I see that as a normal process of decolonizing society, reflecting its dominant cultural impulses and in a democratic set up to be able to make its state increasingly start to reflect the nature of its culture and its norms. Yeah, and just to add to that point, I think almost to the point you made about liberal intellectual elite, the influence that they wield in the hustings in elections is pretty limited.
If you look at the Congress party itself, which may be regarded as the dominant center left Liberal Party in India, with some justification right now, the Congress party has been in decline since nineteen eighty four. Right. And in the most recent general election, they got less than 50 seats if I'm not. So politically there, but not that intervention. And if you look at the BJP today, the the major opposition to the BJP comes not from the Congress necessarily at an all India level.
It comes from the various regional parties and also the the militant groups. Even if you look at the discourse on Twitter, much of the opposition to BJP, it actually stemming from the different smolkin groups that exist.
Right. And the political expression of these groups in the form of the several regional parties. And I think that's where the real opposition exists to Hindu nationalism, not necessarily from the liberal intellectual elite.
I actually don't see this as something which had very deep roots in the first place. I think it did have a little dominance. But even the Congress party, to be clear, I mean, when it was politically dominant, very much embraced a lot of the aspects of what one good quarter on quarter was like, or cultural nationalism, Hindu nationalism or whatever it would like to call it. Right. And this actually actually went through independents.
I mean, if one thinks about the national movement of India, how it became a mass movement, and Gandhi I mean, like many mass leaders, if you have to address a set of people who share certain cultural practices and you want to build them into a political community, it makes sense for you to be able to address them using the idiom, using the imagery, using the kind of language of the culture that they do share. Right. So in many ways, I mean I mean, just to give an example, Gandhi's political meetings used to be called, quote unquote, prayer meetings.
Right. Because you literally have, like, the singing or Pageonce and chanting of things. And why wouldn't you do that? Why you would do that when when you have a people who have who share such a common culture, you would kind of invoke that and use that to be able to politically mobilize them. And within the modern Indian state in some ways, take up aspects of that project itself. So I think the kind of liberalism of the Indian state and the Indian political project, we shouldn't overemphasize it either.
I think there was always a very roosted, culturally rooted part of the national movement.
Yes, progressively an independent India. I mean, one could say that it declined a little, but even I would say and if you take the 1980s, the culturally rooted Hindu party of India, so to speak, was the Communist Party, but not even the BJP.
I mean, there are examples abound from things like Rajiv Gandhi being the first person to open the locks and so on. So there is enough often a bottom up impulse of of shaping the politics and the culture of the state in very brutal terms, which ends up being largely in Hindu terms, but not necessarily exclusively in Hindu. But even if they are not, as you say, I think they're losing political power within India and at least in the last couple of elections have been sort of decisively set back.
But in terms of like for the outside world and for academics and journalists from the outside world, these are the still the voices of India sort of represented. Yeah. Yeah. And it's there. I think that there is a tendency now that it's the polarization is sort of increasing and it's going to be the case that the Hindu nationalist are not going to take up a lot of even useful liberal ideas just because they're coming from the bad side and vice versa.
Right. That this is likely to continue. For example, you said this about the use of the civilian groups are the main resistance to the BJP right now or the party or other sort of identities and regional identities. But then there's also that creates an incentive for whoever is in the opposition to mobilize entirely on those terms. Is that a good thing for India? Do you think that the and just in terms of ideology, there are there is a well-developed ideology which would say that your whole vision of India as a dominant Hindu majority country is itself wrong right there with the recent cover story somewhere that India is not even Hindu majority, because what people what Hindi 12 people call Hinduism is really just pragmatism or something.
And that's the majority. That's a very minority, definitely.
Although I have to hasten to clarify that I'm not a proponent of Hindutva. As I mentioned even earlier when it was I said it, Hindutva conservative is a no Indian conservatives can find can be a faction within the party. But in this way, Bersih is not.
Not really. And then what?
Well, just as the answer Omer bias question. Can you can you tell us what you define Hindu to us? Because that's also one of the one of the most sticky questions around. Right. What is Hindu to what is it? Because, you know, the current new crop of people, their definition is basically what is it, the Hindus that fight is Hinduism that residents like.
I think the problem here. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah. So you can define it and then go into the difference between the two. It's to my mind, Hindutva is really a political project, right? It's not. So it's not it's not religious. It's not cultural even. It's it's really a political project. And the diversity of industries is clear. It's essential to say. Hindus as a community are disunited. I'm just kind of putting the propositions are not necessarily agree or disagree with them. So essentially the diagnosis is Hindus were disunited.
Disunity cost us sovereignty and political power. So we need to mobilize as a community. In other words, Hindus have almost a secret covenant with each other to see ourselves or Velasquez as a corporate body with a clearly defined set of political goals in order to kind of maintain our political power or sovereignty. That's essentially the Hindutva project, right. So in many ways, the primary goal of Hindutva is political unity. And all other things are kind of like subordinated to that, to the goal of political unity, because that's really seen as the fatal flaw that can have led to the decline of Hinduism in the subcontinent, so to speak.
Right. So that's that's really how I see Hindutva. And as kind of an the writes in his recent book about the BJP, essentially, I mean, it was a response to the democratisation of India, which started in the 1920s under the British Raj itself, where given the fact that you were in an environment where you were democratizing even under the Raj, which meant that no matter right, that meant that a building, a sense of community identity and building, a sense of collective identity, political identity for.
For Hindus would be something that mattered. Right. And that's kind of the impulsivity which sakr the RSS and some of them, I mean, started off, which is to say let us be shared political consciousness because we need to it's an opportunity for us to kind of shape this new state that we will ultimately inherit. And to do that, we need to kind of mobilize as a Hindu community. So that's really like Hindutva. And in many ways, I mean, it's both at a philosophical level.
And I will tell you and tactically, it's very different from Hinduism because Hinduism in many ways, I mean, the sense of a shared covenant of forming a community with a collective goal.
This is philosophically very different from how Hinduism is anchored, which is really a personal journey and a personal exploration towards reaching the ultimate truth, as opposed to like a community having to do something together to achieve a shared goal. Right. And in many ways, I mean, yeah, it's this it's an adoption of a mental model or at least a political model from someone is a Christian or secularist or Islamic societies into Hinduism. Now, if that's the only way in which one could respawn, given the kind of demands or challenges of modernity, I don't know, perhaps.
But all I can say is that it is certainly something which is distinct and a new phenomenon from what Hindu tradition actually would see us as us.
Well, yeah, and I think she made a good point about the the need felt by Hindu Society for Hindu Unity, and we've have to trace back the origins of it. You can think of the British census in 1870, I think it was in 1870 that census was conducted in India for the first time. And I think it was at that point that elite Hindus realized that about a third of the Indian subcontinent and actually non Hindus, it's Muslims. And I'm not sure if that had sunk in building 1870, then it's not a surprise that the that Hindu nationalism for the first time arose primarily in those regions where Hindus felt they are numerically being dominated by by the other, so to speak, that Punjab and Bengal and the only Hindu nationalist figures are from Bengal.
And I think that that's what I guess led to the customization of India to a doctrine and also the need for Hindu corporate identity and the military to that. Have a question for Akshay and that pertains to the conflict between Hindu traditionalists and Hindu nationalist, which these are not necessarily two distinct groups. They overlap quite a lot. But I think the main bone of contention is the degree to which you are willing to sacrifice tradition at the altar of Hindu unity. Right.
And I think this main on Hindu Twitter in the form of the triad, what is the rate segmentation terms that are thrown about quite a lot? That would be great if you could address that.
Yeah, I think the Triad was right time in which is used more as a kind of pejorative, segmented as Hindu traditionalist and reformist Hindu nationalist.
Right. As as the kind of two broad segments of India are not as of course, segmentation. So obviously there are overlaps and this. But essentially, I mean, the fundamental distinction between them, I would say, is for the Hindu traditionalists, really, it is about the preservation of Indian tradition. That's kind of the primary goal for the reformist Hindu nationalist. On the other hand, political unity in many ways is the goal and tradition or the preservation of tradition and really the subordinate goal.
So in many ways, it can be compromised upon, if instrumentally that's useful in order to kind of the Hindu unity.
So most often what you'll see is the distinction of the controversy or the internal political conflict between these two groups, at least online, would be on issues such as caste, such as beef and so on, where in some ways, I mean, the reformists and the nationalists would try and construct as broad of political coalition as possible because that's their primary goal. And if in the service of that, one has to kind of. Quote unquote, reform or at least downplayed differences in tradition, or if they are seen as obstacles for Hindu unity, then that that is a legitimate kind of tactic, at least as far as the reformist internationalist goes.
Personally, I mean, I identify with neither group. But having said that, I mean, I see that as the fundamental distinction between the two groups, which is what is your primary goal?
But a subordinate goal is a political unity or is it the preservation of tradition? You also tweet quite a lot on economics, right, and economic policy, and in general, we look at conservative elsewhere, the definition of political conservatism often centers around that approach to economic policy. Right. They want to constrain the power of the state. They believe in free markets. And you don't necessarily see that in India. The Hindu right, so to speak, have not expressed as much interest in developing a very distinct economic doctrine.
I mean, you may regard the and if you look at the current BJP dispensation, you may regard them as a very strong fiscal conservative, but they don't necessarily see themselves as neo liberal, the way you might characterize Reagan's Republican Party or a of conservative party.
Could you maybe not have mentioned them in one of the projects of the Indian state was really to modernize the economy and that the state that we inherited from the British Raj, which we wanted to preserve and kind of extend one of its projects, was to be able to industrialize and modernize. Now the question becomes, how do you industrialize and modernize?
And for the large part, I think India has had a distinct left economic ideology, but not necessarily a very strong one globally. When we're done with the right wing economics ideology, it did I mean, it was popular among the intellectual elite. There was a certain classical liberal orientation towards freer markets. And when circumstances forced us to in 1991 to reform, then we did so. But ideologically, that's not a very a very developed, coherent right wing economic ideology in India that has any kind of political significance.
Almost never will you see any political party championing with the people and the right wing ideological notions. And the reason for that, I think, are a couple of ideas in general. I think this project of modernization and industrialization that pretty much every political party does sign up for it. I think there's a recognition that the state does have a legitimate role to play in that know what role it plays, how much it controls. I could debate that. But essentially, I mean, there isn't that kind of a dogmatic opposition to the state playing a role in the economy, because I think it was recognised that the process of industrialization and modernization does require the state to play some kind of right.
And I think the second reason is that for the large part, since the concerns of a lot of Indian right wing or conservatives or the entire spectrum of people, but largely cultural and social, in many ways, they would quite closely to the dominant economic ideological movement, in any case, because of points of differentiation, was much more on the cultural and social realm.
And they essentially wanted to stay close to the consensus to be as broadly politically acceptable as possible on the economic side.
So I think that kind of pragmatically and even at a more fundamental level ideologically kind of explains why we don't really have like a very, very developed economic right wing thought in India, which had any kind of political significance.
I mean, it said it's not something which it's going to be discussed in intellectual circles as opposed to in the political. But as you know, in China, people say that when the Deng Xiaoping and reforms and things happened, obviously the state continues to play a huge role in the state, maintained its its political dominance very, very efficiently. But it allowed people to make money and it allowed them to make money in ways that are like hyper capitalist. It was much easier to set up a business and do things in China than it was in America.
For example, forget about India, but in India, that doesn't seem to be the case at all. Even the whether it's a so-called right wing government or left wing government or whatever, the impulse to sort of have 20 officials go over everything you do is very strong in India. And there isn't like a big is there not an existing ideology at the common persons level that thinks that this is not right, that doesn't exist? Because my Chinese friends will tell me that in China, even with communism and Cultural Revolution and everything, the baseline sort of entrepreneurial class was definitely present, especially in South China.
And those traditions were by no means dead. But in India, there's a small groups like Maturity's or Janns, I don't know who have these kinds of traditions, maybe outside of what you learn in class, but but it doesn't seem to be as widespread. Do you think there's something fundamentally different about Indian society that is not very broad?
Not really as he does. In fact, I mean, if one had to trace it back to cultural roots, one would actually say that Indian society in many ways culturally has all the makings of what one would expect that expect to be a kind of a capitalist society, but a free market society, so to speak, or at least have some of those impulses, because there's a natural kind of sense of entrepreneurial. And historically also I mean, it was classically said about India that it has a strong society, weak state.
Right. So in many ways, we didn't have a state which which could interfere also a lot in the economy, at least until modernity. So if I were to go deep cultural roots, I don't think that that is really the challenge in many ways.
And I think it's a function of the state that was created in the state that we developed for post independence, which which had this kind of see the dominant intellectual narrative at the time was that the only way that you would industrialize is by having fairly strong central planning.
So in many ways, it was a post Independence Narrabeen state. Which word? Which kind of took up that what was called the commanding heights of the economy. And around that time it was created that entire architecture.
If you have to plan, then you'll need an entire bureaucracy, a set of complex laws to be able to intelligently design society and the economy, to be able to reach that goal.
Now, in many ways, I mean, are we unwinding that? Yes. I mean, there are different reform processes. Economic reform processes that we have are unwinding that.
I just don't see it as something which is celebrated because it's too abstract.
I think for us to be able to sell that. I think it's far better to reform consequentially as a new undertaking reform and people see the positive impact of that. And hence they kind of work you back in almost like retrospective voting theory, but not really try to sell economic ideology policy, because I just don't see that as something which will have any kind of resonant chord with a broad spectrum of Indian people. Yes, some Indian entrepreneurs would be able to relate to like red tape and, you know, things like that.
But most Indians are either farmers or daily wage laborers and so on. Right. And it's just not it just blew many leaps of imagination for them to understand, like the relationship between having a freer economy and demanding greater employment.
I think I think it's better to deal with this kind of pragmatically and consequentially rather than try to develop economic ideology and really sell that to the people. And then coming back to one sort of cultural issue that always comes up in relation to India, which is Guste, right? You know, there is a tendency, in fact, to just completely identify India with cost and with the caste system and everything about India is either caste historian. Diecast, is this when you talk about conservatism and dharma, what is your view of the role of caste in traditional Indian society?
And how or why would you want to change that?
So I think firstly, I mean, any discussion on caste should start with not a disclaimer. But I think I mean, it's important to acknowledge that it has been oppressive for a section of people and their tents. Caste oppression and discrimination is certainly something which ought to be removed and ought to be combated at the state level, at the social level and so on.
And I think it's important to acknowledge that even if one has a more nuanced view of caste as a whole, I think it's important that we first acknowledge that it has been oppressive for people before before we mourn more than once. I think in terms of I mean, at a broader level, I mean, there's a whole variety of phenomena which are kind of clumped under the heading of castrato in many ways. I mean, one could think of it. I mean, firstly, if you separate out Ratna and Jati and if Jati, which is really how it manifests itself in Day-To-Day Life of People, which is you identify with your social group, which is your daddy, which is an organized group with a very different set of traditions.
One could say that caste without casteism, that is any caste discrimination or caste oppression is not necessarily.
I mean, I, I mean, I don't really know how one can take a normative view on that either right or wrong. Right. Because it is it's a locus of identity. It's like any other identity that you have a distinct set of practices. You have a set of traditions and you have a sense of community identity that derives from that.
So, I mean, the way I would look at it as a kind of more traditional person is that I do have a sense of identity myself, and that's a data identity of my identity.
But I mean, obviously, I mean, I don't see that as something which can be or should be a basis for any kind of fighter superiority or discrimination or oppression of any kind.
But I also don't agree with those who, quote unquote want to annihilate Cosper altogether because I just don't.
Again, I see that as a very radical radicalizing kind of force in society to say that, hey, this entire set of things is wrong.
So let's be specific. And that's how I approach all social reform. Let's be very specific about the consequential harm that arises from a specific practice and then let's reform that. Right. As opposed to taking this broad brush and saying that, you know, all of society is oppressive or the entire caste system is wrong. Right. Or the center can constitute one coherent thing called the caste system. I think we should question some of those concepts before we kind of get carried away with a lot of reformist enthusiasm.
And the other thing is, I mean, frankly, I mean, there is there's a natural fluidity that will happen to cost in any case, which always used to happen.
And I think that will only accelerate with modernity in any case.
So, for instance, Villon Togami totally disappeared. No, but anti-government groups will get larger or more. Ostrander will get redefined. And that in many ways will be your quote unquote Kasprowicz.
So I don't know whether one really has to.
Yeah, like I said, we should be specific about what are the what are the specific practices which cause a lot of consequential harm and look to reform that. But otherwise, I mean, I don't really see this as something which is which necessarily has to be reformed and certainly not unhealthy.
Yeah. So, I mean, let's bring that up for a sec. I mean, this is kind of interesting insofar as we're talking about caste and usually this ends up being the case of mostly upper caste people concerned, you know, like Bremen's here three.
Bremen's talking about caste. Generally speaking, when you read on the news media, it's generally either upper caste or Bremen's generally talking about it, mostly hating the idea of caste. But where is and we do see some space like, you know, there might be guru Prakash Rabinow Prakash, who belong to the community. But we don't generally see too many people from our divorces or this or all these other communities out here playing a role in terms of on podcasts, on media, talking about these issues, it tends to be usually an outsider in perspective.
I grapple with this issue because, I mean, of many of the things you said are correct. Right. Like I think so much of the modern issue of caste, how we think about caste today is a very much a product of what I think was and I think there's good enough research and studies on this is was a creation of what the British administration did to basically run India. Right. Like the way we think about caste today is much more ossified and dogmas.
And, you know, you only eat with certain unity with your community and a bunch of this stuff.
And and I'm sure that was the case. Some places, even before the British and then other places were not the case, but the British really codified it, ossified. It made it a hard reality in the world, but it's a problem nonetheless.
So what you see, instead of us talking about it, why why are we not having more people from communities that have been affected in a detrimental way discussing this in the Indian context?
Yeah, I think that's a great question in many ways. I mean, the way I would look at it is if you take a step back, what what is what is this really what is this institution really?
It is a set of traditions that becomes a source of identity, you know. So so I belong to a certain community, a certain duty.
And hence there are certain practices that I have read. So now the only sense in which it becomes problematic and it is deeply problematic when it becomes at me is if it becomes a source of oppression or hierarchy, but if it is not a source of oppression and hierarchy. And I think there's a lot of research that also shows that apart from people at the margins, and that's why I think it's important to acknowledge the oppression of Dalitz in particular, because that did happen.
And that was and that does happen. And that is that is grievously wrong.
But for the large part, for us, for the rest of society, what you have is more horizontal rather than vertical split of caste.
So in many ways, you have different parties jockeying for power and you have local contested fluid hierarchies if they exist at all. Right.
When people kind of like fight for fight for power, as they would in any traditional society, and that's what it is.
And to then kind of match that to four fold or fight for the hierarchy and then say that, like, people are kind of big spenders in these different fields of society that I think was kind of at least an oversimplification, if not an outright distortion of what historically it has been as an institution.
So your point about why do we not see more voices from here? I think it's a combination of a couple of things. When is in general lower social mobility in India? So you do have fewer voices in general across the board.
I mean, it's not just in public discourse, but it would take any elite institution you will see apart from reservation, which is positive discrimination for the less you will see, like an underrepresentation in general of people from historically disadvantaged communities. And that has to do with lower social mobility in India in general.
But on how the discourse on this would change fundamentally, I think that will happen once we start seeing this as a locus of identity and a set of traditions which people take pride in. And in many ways, actually, if you think about it, that is how it manifests on the ground with several people.
And if you take to Dotty's and let's say undreamt where I come from, Richard, you particular and Camus now those are classified. I mean, I don't know rightly or wrongly or whatever as the shooter not right.
But they are very much upper caste.
They're upper class, they are locally dominant, they are highly educated and they have always contested for hierarchy. And they're the locally the most dominant communities in much of Andhra Pradesh. So now the question then really becomes that there's a radio to come to really think of his jotty identity as something which is something which puts him at a lower tier than anybody that Brahmin than anyone is.
It's not really right.
So in many ways, I think the toy model, of course, that we sometimes have is not actually how even people experience and think of themselves, with the notable exception, obviously, being I mean, I do acknowledge.
The oppression of the last, which was quite significant. I mean, we've got excellent points, and just to add to Mukund question why we feed a lot of the anti gas rhetoric emanating from Bremen's, because it's natural that a lot of the opposition to cast on matters of principle, they tend to emanate from the most westernized section of society, and that tends to be up against. Right. And as a mentioned, I would like to add a point with the Indian demography, we tend to think of gaffed in terms of the forward where we are not moderate the forward enough.
But then about eighty five percent of India can be regarded as non-life born, so to speak. Right. If you go by the classical model. And yet there are thousands of gaffed within the Riverina right now, the economy among children and the thousands of distinct, that that's not mandated necessarily by any text, but it is an outcome of several local factors and local traditions that have come up organically. And that's probably one reason why a lot of the rhetoric that you see, even among the Thebarton party, that a lot of it is populist and maybe even anti, but it's not necessarily antitheft.
I don't think you're going to see the to the party in Bihar or Samajwadi Party newbie's and be caste party. These are very much so.
Yeah, I think you're totally right here.
I think one of the one of the things is caste becomes a very useful categorization political tool for many people. Right.
Like, you have to have an enemy in many ways, the same formula that's used in the West, even though they're entirely different worlds like white supremacy is now in the in India Brahmin supremacy, despite the fact historically, we've know in many, many regards, yes, there were some Bremen's that made a lot of money and had power and and whatever. But the vast majority of Bremen's by the vast majority and this is a tiny population anyway. Right.
There's maybe like 30, 40, 50 million Bremen's of all across the world.
Whatever it is, small population, they're there. They were generally pretty poor. They didn't have political power. And this concept of linking, again, this goes back to the idea of tradition and the way we think about tradition, that these text of somehow like the Shastra or whatever had any sort of political clout in the world to create a society is another fabrication to create this kind of evil Brackman Remon monster.
And I think there's and you find this all the time where we're like, you know, like people like Tim Krishna and I don't know, like a lot of these a lot of people for some reason with less and Krishna are very, very Marxist kind of oriented. You know, I understand the good intentions there and I can appreciate that. But by one of my big concerns is this, that the narrative controls facts, not the facts. Control narrative, a model of what we're seeing in that circle.
Like if you start talking about the complexity of of the history of how these things develop and and how like, for example, like like I've got into many arguments on Twitter by simply saying that caste today is a problem, like I said, or the British problem.
It's not to say that Bernard Jotty didn't have their issues, but today we're talking about when we talk about caste is entirely a construction of the world, of the administration, of the British Empire.
And we have to deal with it that way. And again, this is not to make excuses for what occurred before that. There was a whole different system that had different problems, different issues. But let's be cognizant of what we're discussing today. And because half the time what we're discussing today is the British administration of caste, which is, yes, there were some Brahmin complicity. Right.
Like they took the books of the Brahmins to make up the legal code that we're currently all straddled with in India. The Hindu legal code, you know, out of what have you done, Shastra?
And pretty much the bit, actually a commentary on it. Right.
So it just it's just a weird, weird creation of an enemy that actually didn't probably really exist.
Yeah, it's more I think Asselborn, by looking at this, looks kind of describe it quite well. Right.
Which is essentially here you have like this culture that you're encountering. Right. Which is this bendin or the use that I'm heathen culture. Right. And that you are experiencing all these different things and you kind of classify it as one system. Right.
And because the root model of your own society comes from the text. So then you're like asking, OK, which is the Hindu text that kind of sanctifies or its cost. And that in many ways is a. UNINTELLIGIBLE question for Hinduism, which is an auto accident, a set of traditions which are self-perpetuating as opposed to something that derives necessarily from sex trade.
So a lot of the normal things that you talked about also and I think come from that, which is if you are essentially if you see this as a Christian culture of encountering a pagan culture or heathen culture, what are the natural response as it would be that this has to this has to be a set of people who are following a false God, which means that consequentially, as a consequence, direct consequence of following a false God, they ought to be having practices which are very wrong, which are very wrong and understand.
Hence, the precepts of this community have to be essentially people who are channeling their false religion, which is given to them by the devil and hence corrupting the masses. And the masses have to be emancipated from that by kind of showing them the true world.
If that's the kind of model or the mental model with which we approach our culture, it is natural that they would see this as see all the very things that they are seeing in the society as one caste system, which is inherently oppressive, which is inherently kind of terrible, and coming from those coming from this corrupt set of precepts of this false religion who are imposing it right now.
This by no means. I'm trying to say that there isn't not just wasn't, but isn't oppression and isn't discrimination within several problematic things. I'm just saying that this framework of looking at it as one system with a set of different rules, which everyone was kind of brainwashed into following by these BBC prisoners, I would really question that just given the prominence of that whole mental model, which came from a Christian culture, encountering a hidden culture which they saw as a as naturally, I mean, as a false religion from their start.
And I would add to that that in any society, there's you know, there are people who have their own motivations for for creating a certain narrative beyond it's truth or falsehood right there. They're not concerned with whether it's true or not. There are missionaries, there are people who are interested in converting people to Christianity. And they have a they have a certain axe to grind. There are Muslims who have a vision of converting people to Islam. There's people who are Marxists who have a vision of creating a new irreligious or even religious or whatever society these people can have intellectuals and do have intellectuals, obviously, who deliberately create a certain narrative and and harp on it.
The question is whether the other side has an equally good or better narrative to counter them. And in some cases, it looks like maybe you guys don't yet. I think that there is a there is an example. For example, I was thinking of Japan, obviously a very different society, a very different set of problems. But there's a book I read a while ago, Isobars new thesis. You know, this guy who in 1826 wrote a book about how to deal with the coming Western threat to Japan.
And one of the striking things in that was that he's a samurai writing for others who are obviously the cast in Japan at that time, five percent of the population, they pretty much everything and everyone else was treated as badly or worse than any Indian lower cost has ever been treated. But they made a conscious decision to switch from that model of society to a more uniformly Japanese society. And it's very striking in that book that he says he's very open about that he thinks he says that 90 percent of our people are just dumb, poor presidents and they are idiots.
He has a very low opinion of them, but he thinks if we don't incorporate them into our Japanese identity, then they will all convert to Christianity and they'll take over this country and we have to include them. And that means we have to end this distinction. And they did it consciously. But it's a work of art. It's a big job. And and once they've done it, it's not like everybody in Japan goes around with this weight on their shoulder of how much the oppressed the peasants for two thousand years they did.
But nobody really you know, they look back on Japanese history with a lot of pride, not just focused on this one aspect of Japanese history in India. The situation seems to be somewhat different. Very much.
I think one one I guess one major difference between Japan and India is that there is a very strong ethnic dimension to cast in India. Right. And I mean, I'm not sure if you can say that about Japan, which is a fairly homogenous society in the north in lingual terms. So creating the kind of narrative that you spoke about, about getting all Japanese under a single Japanese identity, I guess that's a much easier task in Japan than it is in India, which is genuinely, to be honest to do that might be multilingual society.
And I think Indian nationalists have a much harder task at hand.
Yeah, I think that there are like two parallel projects, so to speak, for this matter, to retain the right one is essentially a genuine project of social reform as well. Right.
So that the oppressive aspects of the caste system are actually reformed. Right. So that's one.
But the other one is really the project of the colonial era derate, which is essentially how do you build a certain respect and renewal of Indian knowledge, traditions such as such that we are not always imposing this kind of normative worldview that we have kind of inherited, at least the intellectual elite have inherited from from the West and from the colonial powers as the kind of the framework to view Indian society itself.
So I think both of these are important, and I don't want to emphasise the latter. I think there is general, like all societies, I mean, that are oppressive and discriminatory and terrible practices in our society. I don't think that we would have as a society sufficient imagination and sufficient evolutionary capability because it's not like we are. These things are laid down very rigidly. Right. And in such a way that people won't show the imagination to be able to from society.
In any case, that Indian society has several examples in previous times of social reform and practices that have been changed and traditions that have been changed.
So I think with our own tradition, right within our own tradition, like natural evolution kind of thing.
Yeah, within its own. So I think both of these projects are important, which is I mean, we do need to reflect and make changes and evolve with the times as as we have always historically done as a society, but also to kind of interrogate this normative framework that we have inherited, saying that what we need to construct is this liberal society and change this backward set of superstitious traditions that we have an oppressive society that we have and we need to modernize that and transform it into an egalitarian society.
I think we need to really create the kind of national self-confidence and cultural self-confidence to also question and interrogate some of those underlying assumptions which are kind of inherited from from the West. One other question that I have is, what's the future that you see for Hindu nationalism? Right. I mean, I think we briefly spoke about the triad with the segmentation that we see in parts of online Twitter right now. Does that portend anything for the future? I mean, do you see a conflict between the soft Hindu nationalism that exists today and youth and maybe a hardline Hindu state emerging in future?
Is that even potentiality in future? And how do you view Modi in this respect and what he represents? Sure.
I think you and I have discussed this on Twitter a couple of times, and I think we disagree on this particular. But I actually don't see this whole online Hindu right. And especially the street versus reformist internationalist thing as an equal, which kind of predicts a future split in the broader Hindu right at all.
And I certainly don't see a risk of anything resembling a theocratic state of any sort, because I don't even think that has any kind of resonance.
I just think that a strong mental model to think about in a Hindu society, in any case, like what is even a theocratic Hindu straight mean? I mean, I think a meaningless concept.
And in any case, I mean, I think I don't really see that as as a powerful political or social movement in any case. So I think for the large part, the way I see the future of this is very much as within the small liberal democratic framework, which is Hindutva or Hindu nationalism will be a movement which seeks political power in a democratic set up.
And it will seek to control the levers of power of the state and not fundamentally reshape it in any significant way, but make it more culturally rooted, may bring in more Hinduism in public culture, but it's not that certainly will have a different legal gold or different, I don't know, state structure and so on and so forth, that we won't have a democracy.
I mean, I don't see any of those. I think all these fears are hugely overstated. And I actually think that even people who ask for a Hindu rashtriya are not doing themselves any kind of favor because there is no such notion.
In any case, I mean, I don't even know what what it would mean. And it isn't a coincidence or some kind of a fallacy that it hasn't been imagined or like nobody really has laid out any political program for for what the Hindu state, so to speak, will look like. I actually think that there is nothing there that is there is no content there for very good reason, because most of the goals that at least traditional Hindu society would have in traditional Muslim society also would have are very much accommodated within the small L liberal Democratic set up.
In any case. Right. So I think the way I see the future project of this evolving is a greater anchoring of the the public culture of the state to Hinduism and Hinduism at that, but still very much a state which protects the rights of all citizens there, where there is no kind of imposition on religious liberties and so on, apart from obviously like what we are anyway seeing, which is part of the normal extremist forms of Hindutva. But I don't think that will fundamentally reshape the state, the extremist forms of Hindutva, like the extremist parts of any social group in India, will use the weakness of the state in order to bully other social groups.
But what they won't do is fundamentally reshape the state because I don't think there is any such imagination of any alternative to the current Indian state. That certainly sounds right to me, but we're running out of time, but before we end, I thought we'll ask you to put on his prediction hat and tell us where he sees India in, say, five to 10 years. And I'm not talking so much about cultural and internal issues as about India as a as a regional power, as a competitor to China, as a competitor to Pakistan.
Even if to where do you see India and what trajectory do you see for it?
Yeah, I, I've always held the view and this is not hedging. This is like my genuine view, which is that India I mean the cliche goes that India disappoints both the optimists and the pessimists. Right. Though and I think that's very true in many ways. We're kind of a 50/50 country will kind of muddle along. And I think in some ways, actually, while I would like a faster transformation and obviously for India to be a great power and so on, I just don't see that as happening.
I think we will be a more significant power than we are today. But it is a fact that we are in a region where you have China as an increasingly dominant power. And in Pakistan, I mean, you don't really have like a peer competitor, but you have someone who can be leveraged by China to keep us in check. So in many ways, I mean, if I were to predict five, 10 years out, I would say India's relative power will increase, but we won't be a great power.
Right. And even in our own neighborhood, because of the rise of China and so on, it won't be that we are kind of a hegemonic or dominant power. We will be a significant power within our region, but not really a global power of any any note or any significance.
What do you think will be the relationship with the United States and how significant will that be? Because there's obviously there's one school of thought which is which sees that India and China are going to be competitors. China and particularly from the Chinese side, actually, that they are very hard nosed, hard realist kind of people. They are not the sort of people who will likely let a competitor arise, even if the competitor claims to be very peaceful. So so there will be competition.
And the only way India can sustain that competition is by linking up very closely with the United States, which may be a declining superpower, but it's still a superpower and has the capacity to help India, whereas pretty much no one else does. But there is an opposite view that this is all just Western imperialist propaganda or whatever, and India and China could get along fine. It's the Americans who are a problem and are creating a problem in this area.
So where do you come down on this?
Yeah, I think I'm on the foreign policy side. I'm very much a realist in that I don't like nation state to seek to an offensive, really. So I think nation states will seek to maximize their power, pursue their interests immorally and so on. And I just don't I mean, I think it's natural that India and China will have conflicting interests. So I think there's a notion that will kind of get along somehow, I think is just mistaken, because we will have conflicting interests.
I mean, we have a differential of power will mean that they will seek to exercise greater influence, which can only come at the cost of India.
So so long as I realise what it is that we need to do, what really powers do when you're faced with a competitor who is more powerful than you, which is both the build up and balancing that your own power to be able to meet them, but also external balancing, which is essentially. Along with others, which includes adoration powers as well as well as the United States, now, it won't be straightforward.
I mean, very few alliances are, but I think it's kind of over time inevitable.
I mean, one can't predict whether it'll happen in the next few years or so, but I think it's the cooperation between the United States and India.
As for India, as well as other Asian countries like Japan and so on, that will only increase with time because we have a shared interest in balancing China and kind of ensuring that China doesn't emerge as a regional hegemon in in Asia. And I think the US will share that interest as well. Now, whether they see that as an imminent enough threat to be able to really re prioritize their resources as a declining superpower, far more towards Asia and supporting India, Japan and all, I think that remains to be seen.
But I think it's only a question of time before there is some kind of a balancing coalition against China in Asia. OK, well, unless we can then we're going to have any last words, I think we are out of time. Yeah, yeah, thanks for your time, OK, really. It was very nice having the kitchen, actually, and I hope other intelligent people in India are get to work with you and make India more successful and powerful country.
I'm not personally even sure that that's how great that is, but it seems to be a necessity. You can't get away without it. Otherwise other, more successful countries will bully you. So good luck and we will talk again. Thank you.
Thank you, everyone.