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The brown Pandit's Brown Caps and the brown pundits Brown cast, and I am here with some of the usual, again, Omar, and we are here with a guest, Tony is going to be presenting a different perspective than we usually hear. Tony, can you introduce yourself?
Thanks for having me. My name is Tony, which is actually not my real name, but I guess it's a sign of the times that I wanted to use an alias. By the way, a bit of an introduction. I'm Indian as my accent probably betrays. And I grew up in India, but I've been in the States now over 20 years. And in terms of I'm professionally a banker and I've came up through trading, but I do different things now, like I've always been interested in politics.
If you were to label my politics, I guess I would be a liberal Indian, I think, but much more than liberal.
I think what would define me for the purpose of this podcast is that I am staunchly secular. What's your what's your cast, Mike, I mean, my job. Actually, that's a very significant part of my identity now and my cast is country. So we have to Punjabis on on this on this podcast just just to let people know out there if it gets a little raucous and boisterous about the interaction. All right, you guys got any questions to start out with?
But yeah, I mean, when you say you're secular, can you explain what you mean by that, but particularly in the Indian context?
Yeah, I don't think that yes, so I what I think in terms of being secular is I don't think the state should favor a particular religious community and I think everyone, all Indian citizens, are entitled to equal protection under the law.
I think those would be my definitions of secularism. I tend to think of the Constitution as the founding document and the source of not just the law of the land, but also a source of the moral framework. I don't think I mean, there's a lot of Southasian history, but I do not I do not consider those sources of tradition to be sources of morality for the United States. So if that helps anything. So, I mean, one question that I have is, do you think your own viewpoint has any future in India right now because the last five years or so have not been positive for it?
I mean, how how someone like you feeling about that? So I'm feeling pretty bleak, feeling really bleak. I used to be a trader, so I never make predictions, especially about the future, so I really don't know. I mean, things look very bleak to me right now in India. And I think even more than the 2014 election, for me, the two thousand nineteen election was a watershed.
I have no idea.
I just have no idea. The pendulum will swing back. I mean, one thing that I wonder about is it seems like the pendulum has swung so quickly, so fast with people defecting. It's like people had very shallow views in the first place. Right. So, I mean, I wonder about the depth of this new consensus versus the old consensus, because the categories we use are very Western in some ways, the left and the right coming out of the French Revolution.
But a lot of people from the Congress party have been switching from what I've been reading.
And just the broad based appeal of Modi is kind of curious to me in light of the fact that Congress had a one party state for many, many decades, basically, like de facto, not officially, but yeah, I think that's right.
I don't know whether I would not read too much into MP defections. I think those defections are not driven or I wouldn't read any ideological signals from those MP defection defections of various politicians.
I think at the level of local politics, you know, there are some local politicians are very unideological in India. They are drawn to power. They need to be close to power to be able to raise resources, to be able to fight elections. There isn't a systematic campaign finance that's available.
So, I mean, there are many there are many reasons to be bleak. There are many reasons to be downcast if you hold the views that I do.
But politicians defecting is not one of them.
So I just had an exchange on Twitter, you know, Jagi. I think he's one of it. I had posted a tweet about Maldive where I sort of started with the sentence that liberals can find many things to hate about Modi, but not this particular thing. Whatever we were discussing. And they he asked me, OK, what is it that liberals can reasonably hold against him? So as a liberal, I'm sure you have a list. What is it that you find so bleak?
What is it that you hold against him? And where do you think he is ruining India or whatever the Indian constitution?
Well, I think that's more difficult. He presided over a pogrom that killed over a thousand people and every at every stage after that, he's made sure that he's not I mean, he's used that pogrom and he's used that murder to come to power. So it's not difficult. I mean, I. I don't have to go to GST or demonetization. I I'm virulently against Modi and have been sold since two thousand and I should not mince my words. He's a murderer.
So that's a fair point, but I do wonder, though, that stuff happened under Congress as well. So is it actually that much of a difference, like twenty nine days after Bovery and then also nineteen eighty four? Again, the lack of ideological valence means that these are like dynamics.
Oh yes. I think I think that is true. Firstly, it did happen on the Congress that, of course, by itself justification for Modi. And, you know, I wasn't I was barely, you know, barely I was just barely into this world at the time of some of these things that happened.
So but, yeah, I don't think there's any justification for what happened in 2002. If I were to draw a distinction between eighty four and two thousand two. I think the most reasonable distinction is how the Congress party, the Congress party sort of relationship with the Sikh community before ready for an opportunity for I mean, there isn't a systematic attempt by the Congress party to demonize the Sikh community. It all happened and the Congress is entirely culpable for it. But that's that's just simply not what the Congress is.
Demonizing the Sikhs is just simply not Amedure has ever been a part of the Congress narrative. The BJP comes from very different ideological and emotional space that that wrapped up in this new identity.
And in order to even assert that identity, they have to order the Muslims. And that's really where they are. I mean, there's no parallel to the Communist Party and its relationship with right now in India, I mean, Tony, I mean, one of the issues I tend to have is many people, especially on the Hindu or Twitter, tend to be anti Muslim and not necessarily anti Islam. And that's a big differential. Do you think there is that demarcation within the BJP or do you think it's very much an anti-Muslim kind of mentality?
I'm not sure if I understand the distinction. So I think the distinction would be, you know, being anti anti-Islam would be taking views against Islamic thought or ideas, whatever, or history. But being anti-Muslim is taking hatred towards particular people, just by definition, the fact that they're Muslim. So do you find that there is a demarcation within the Hindutva movement or not? That's a good question.
I mean, I think if I were to see the Hindu movement doesn't engage with Islam as a theology. I mean, you know, I think many reasonable people could have views on Islam as a theology. I think it engages with Muslims and whatever caricature of Islam it finds convenient at that time. So, you know, I mean, I'm just saying it's just there's no engagement with Islam. As a set of ideas, it's very much an emotional. Reaction I have written about this, it's very much a primal reaction, primal Hindutva.
It does it work? So no. And for those of us who grew up in India, I think, as you mentioned, the speed at which the secular consensus is it's been, I would say, interesting to say the least.
Well, I mean, you're also in the US. So do you see any sort of parallel with what's going on, the US and and how Islam and Muslims are treated in the US?
Oh, I don't see any parallels. No, I don't see any parallels. I mean, I see the distinction. I think that I do see that in the US, you know, education levels and higher incomes tend to correlate with what one might call liberal attitudes among Hindus. If that's not true, upper caste, edge of sort of caste education and income levels do not correlate with liberal ideals. And there is a performance of liberalism. But it breaks down.
It breaks down very quickly. When the question of Muslims come up. So do I think more upper class Hindus or, you know, my fellow bankers in New York, are they against gay rights? Not free trade, but are are they virulently anti-Muslim? Yes. But I mean, where does where does that come from? I mean, what where would you say that comes from the very. I think it comes from deep inferiority, does cultural memory of.
Subjugation. There is I think at its core, there's a there is a deep understanding that Hindu society, if there's very few sources of pride in Hindu society. Right. And when you're playing the identity game, I mean, I don't know if you are Hindu, what would you look back to try get on conquest on kingdoms that are dismal scientific discovery.
There are some, in my view, utterly pathetic temples in the south. But beyond that, you know. There's very little source of pride that you can legitimately derive, so it comes from inferiority, it's a huge problem. How do you engage recently with people? Would you would you say Islam is the superior civilization?
I don't see Islam as a superior civilization. I think to many I don't even think it's a legitimate. Question. I mean, I don't know what parameters I would judge, I would say that having engaged with the Hindu right for all my life, and this is before Twitter was big, I used to fight on things like Usenet. Having engaged with them all my life. This is I'm saying this is something that is salient to them. They are cooking up history, they are changing the the they are changing the the the the result of battles.
Because, well, can you give an example this? Yeah, I mean, give an example of where this happens, because I I'm not sure that's entirely true.
OK, so, I mean, you can you can you can see this this whole conflict right now between what is the eventual outcome of the outcome of battles between October. Right. That was comprehensively defeated, of course. And he was defeated by a large group general. That and in the new text that the Hindus are writing, that is they're adding all sorts of caveats to the to the to the narrative. And it's up to us, to me, I mean, I don't live in India, so I don't have to study these steps and I'm not bothered by that.
But it's interesting why the word. Trying to change such clear outcomes of history. There is deep inferiority with no two ways about it. I think I have I have witnessed it myself as a non-Muslim Indian. What's your what's your religion? Do you have a religion? OK, so, I mean, do you identify some of the Hindu nationalist or atheists as well? So, I mean, do you identify as a Hindu, as a Sikh, as anything, or are you just confessionalism, as they would say in Germany?
I so I don't you know, I'm not religious in any way and I'm not opposed to you know, that's a very strong position to have to be honest. I do think of God when I need something, and that's really my only relationship. But if I were to talk in terms of my social identity, I'm Punjabi. I'm not I mean, I'm increasingly because of what's happening in India, I'm losing a sense of being Indian and I'm Punjabi.
What does he think is the Punjabi religion or is there such a thing? No, there is no such thing. There is no such thing.
I mean, it's obviously it's obvious that Punjab as a province has influences of Islam, of Islam, of what is now known as Hinduism and what is now known as Sikhism. But do I think that there's one religion in Punjab? No, I don't.
So it's an interesting way to put it to you, that it's influenced by Islam and by what is now known as Hinduism and what is now known as Sikhism. Is it not what is now known as Islam, or is that something that was already sort of set before all this happened?
No, I think that's what is now known as Islam. I don't think Islam is also in any way of one sort of straitjacketed religion.
But there is one there is I think I think there is a difference between of course, there is of course, modernity has influenced Islam. But Hinduism itself, of course, as we all know in this chart, Hinduism itself has an identity or religious identity is arguably very new.
Right. I mean, what did you think? I mean, what do you mean by you? I mean, if you find that we can agree or disagree. I think I subscribe to the view that Hinduism is a religious identity, is a 19th century phenomenon. Oh, yeah.
I don't think that's correct. I think we have enough evidence from at least a thousand years ago that people viewed Hindus as, you know, especially coming from outside, the Hindus as separate from themselves. And they viewed their tradition.
And we knew the Hindus as they thought of Hindus as a as a religious unit, or did they think of them as residents of a particular geographical mixture, both because even Buddhism demarcated from Hinduism at the time.
So I think that's that's fairly evident from the from the Alberini.
Alberini was very. Yeah, like when you read out Brunious English translations, that's the key. I mean, I understand where you're coming from, Tony, but when I read out Baroody, I'm just like, OK, they whatever they called them. Yeah. It was quite clear that people on the outside, as well as people on the inside, knew what the categories were and what they were defined by. Belief was an identity, right?
Yeah, I'll burn. And even Battuta, they both did that. Yeah. OK, I think it's contestable. I think it's contestable. But let me first, you know, first let me see if I can dolgov for the last few years I've been I can talk of Punjabi and I can talk about my caste in particular. So very rarely the people refer to themselves as Hindu. If you see there's so much of you know, they refer to themselves by their caste.
I'm not sure that they thought of themselves as Hindu. And I'm not sure living in some village in west Pakistan where West Punjab today they thought of. So I would as somebody who. Is part of the same community, they would not have known that, right, so Bertoni, that's a different issue. Obviously, they understood that they were divisions in different communities, but so it's like the first archbishop of Canterbury was actually born in Tarsus, right.
In Southern Anatolia. So, I mean, he obviously knew he wasn't English and there were actually no such things as English then the white Anglo-Saxon of six hundred eighty, they understood that they were Christian. Now, obviously, Hinduism is not necessarily a clear and distinct confessional religion like Islam would be. Exactly, but there were general outlines of beliefs that, especially at the elite level, were accepted. Now you can say that they were not accepted at the mass level, but you can also say the exact same thing of Christianity and Islam until recently.
And we wouldn't say that Christianity and Islam didn't exist. Right. Even though the elite beliefs didn't percolate down to the demotic level until relatively recently through reform.
That's correct. Oh, yeah, I think when you're dealing with Hinduism, you have to deal with the fact that there isn't an accepted channel and there isn't a church that isn't, you know, those found out.
I think you have to make a distinction. There's just no way of getting out of it.
No, you're right there, Tony. You're right. And so far as to say as a religion, maybe its definition is a 19th century concept, but as as a coherent religion or religion in comparison to Islamic Christianity, maybe that concept is a scholastic matter was really defined in the 19th century. But the problem is that these groups of people that had various different views were defined as Hindu from as far back as even Battuta and Alberini. So, I mean, that isn't up for contention.
I mean, that's kind of true. That's true for the. It is also a spectrum, obviously, in the world that there is. You know, there's a whole there's a different sort of distinction between this Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the kind of this distinct identity those people seem to have and something like China or Japan where people had religion but they didn't have a religion that sharply defined at least, and they were. But nobody would say that the Chinese had no religion.
And at the same in the same way, there was what you would let's say you don't call it Hinduism, but there's an Indian religion. And in fact, it's it's halfway between China and the Islamic or Christian version because it's not as loosely defined as the Chinese version would be. There was a cast of people who were charged with sort of being the intellectual elite of this religion. And they had a very distinct kind of understanding of themselves geographically, historically, ethnically, whatever.
They regarded, a certain large piece of land. Right. It's an entire continent as their land. And and they traveled within that land. They went for pilgrimages from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. They were not they would not go to, let's say, Anatolia with the same feeling. Right. And they did see what this is, our land or our religion, whatever they wanted to call it. I think anyway, that's a separate debate. But I was more curious about the fact that.
Do you think it was a legitimate sort of objective or it would be a legitimate expectation that most people in your country or any country will be like you to have no religion at all? No, no, of course not.
I mean, I of course not.
I mean, I think religious identity is central to societies across the world. I I'm not very religious. As I said, my parents were very religious. We didn't grow up with a lot of religion. It it's sort of you know, I lived in many places in the world. So I just don't I'm not drawn to religion. I am drawn towards the identity.
Everybody seeks identity. Religion is not something. I'm not seeking religious identity. But anyway, coming back to the original issue of what is sort of why India looks so bleak to you, I can I can perfectly understand what you mean by the when you brought up the Gujarat. Right. Right. Right. That would be a deal breaker for many, many people, not just liberals. The sort of more commonly accepted version. And I'm not here talking about the right wing, the right wing version is that there was a train burning first, which is really silly to bring up because that's like saying, like Rajiv Gandhi said, when a big tree falls and then five thousand six got killed, that's no justification at all.
The second part of it is to say, oh, the state didn't actually encourage the riots. They tried to stop them. Hundred and fifteen people died in police firing or whatever. So obviously there was some police action going on and most of them were Hindu. Most of the people killed in police fighting were Hindu. So even the state did seem to shoot some of them for rioting. But even that excuse is sort of weak because the Indian state capacity is not as low as advertised.
And when they really want to crack down, they can. It's not that they can prevent every riot and every mob killing. They obviously cannot. But at the same time, they can't let it go on for three or four days without the top people not being at least sort of semi winking that it's OK to let it go on a little bit. I really don't doubt that they let it go on at least a little bit before they stop this.
And that's a big, big black mark. Right. It's something that would be a deal breaker for many people, and I think justifiably so. And they can't feel that you can forgive someone for something like that. But let's say if you move beyond that and you come to 2014 and the election of the BJP since they came into power, which are the things that you most object to as being illiberal actions by the Modi regime. What what do I object to most?
So this has helped me so many things I object to that it's having a difficult time picking out. I just I can't because it's just like a whole set of ideas that I grew up thinking or so bizarre and stupid and now the Indian policy.
So you know what can give us an example? What would be Indian policy? Now, that seems so bleak to you.
I mean, look at the economy, if you see how the GST was implemented, how these are all liberal ideas and not just the GST and a liberal idea about the GST was, you know, it still could be liberal.
What it has done is it has centralized finances. Right. I mean, some of our most some of the best public policy experimentation in India, for example, if somebody like me has been Tamilnadu sort of finally has been the meal program that started in the 60s. And all of that experimentation was possible because there was fiscal autonomy. Right. Any knowledge at one point three billion people? What you really want is states to play around with policy. Right.
And then good. Some I guess some ideas stick to some policy actions to get traction and other states can learn from it.
So I'm sort of surprised that you bring up GST as the main sort of villain here, because all I will call it is it is the dominant reason why the economy is underperforming.
Well, I'm not going to I don't think that's correct either. I think right now, if you want to look at the major reason the economy is not performing, one of the big reasons is obviously from covid is just the nature of the sectors that India was was really keen on.
Like like, for example, the tech sector was seeing a draw down with the past few years from flat to flat from the peak of it, because it recovered, the Indian economy was underperforming.
And if you're if you to tease out the dominant driver for that underperformance GST. OK, let's say, and I have no expertise in this field. I'm not going to go on about GST, but the other thing but the question still remains. This sounds like a like a minor economic argument that people have about this reform or that reform. Is it how is this sort of a bleak sign of fascism or something?
No, no. I mean, no, I was just saying that I was I was actually just going down the list of things that I think the economy is underperforming. And, of course, he this man sort of demonetization that also resulted that the economy is underperforming, the social fabric has come apart. I mean, whichever way whatever your view of Islam and Muslims, some social fabric has come apart at this point. Our territorial integrity, that is also under question.
The foreign policy, whatever you might think of it, is just this and it's these various dimensions without any sort of coherent team. So I actually can't think of any aspect of Indian society or the Indian state that actually gives me reason to reason for hope. There's nothing there right now. There's nothing. And I even Prekop, because it is a difficult problem for the United States to handle. I get. I I find this a little bit surprising because I think that if you are going to say that Modi or the BJP in general have a program that excludes Muslims as equal Indians somehow and that this there are two hundred million Indian Muslims, that's not a small minority that you can even forget about, whether it's morally justified to bully someone or not.
Two hundred million people cannot be kept in a constant state of like othering without some sort of a price being paid and usually a very heavy price being paid. But the other things you are bringing up, it seems almost like, you know, like one political party is not in power. They accuse the party in power of being wrong about everything. But for an outside observer, that doesn't seem to be the case. No, but I'm saying I'm saying the economy is not material issues and our economy is not material to how people live the economy, if if a neighbor changes, you know, the de facto border for is that not material?
I'm just saying you and to an outsider outside, I agree to get into this sort of politics is not important. But one aspect of India as an outside observer, you think is gives you hope. I mean, I could put the question back to you.
OK, well, first of all, as far as the border, you mentioned the water. I'm sort of curious to know, what do you think he should have done to start a war with China? Would that have been better? No, of course not, but I mean, that's why why wouldn't why was that such a big intelligence failure? Why would they not patrols?
I mean, what does you know, this has happened like seven times in Indian history with China and six of them probably under Congress rules.
So this is this is we should not bring that up. How does it set up to defend him? I'm not a motivator or something. I'm just saying this is and the sense of proportion seems slightly off. It seems like. I'm sorry.
I'm sorry to the our relationship with China.
And given China's rights, our relationship with China is not a matter. It's not a trifling. No, it's not.
But how is the media helping you spoil it? What was it that he did wrong exactly in that relationship? I mean, so I I'm not I'm not I'm not trained in strategic thinking, so I or much of what I am going to say to, you know, not at all sort of podcasts. And so just getting on, I think, a general sense that they haven't managed the China relationship well because India hasn't quite made up its mind. Where, where, what its strategic direction is, should it be with the US, Australia, Japan in an effort to encircle China, or should it also or should it have its own relationship with China?
So which option would you prefer? Should be alive in the West or Regina. I don't have an educated view on this, you know, just like I can. Yeah, but but but, Tony, historically, India has been very wishy washy throughout history about who is in line with who wasn't. I mean, during the entire Cold War, they were not. They were straddling the border of non-intervention either side. And then afterwards, you know, they've been kind of all over the map, too.
So I don't think it's fair to level that accusation to be concerned that one can have. Because, I mean, this trade dispute, like Omar said, is been historically going on for since the 1950s. And it's been back and forth, back and forth. And the question is, is this just another back and forth or is there anything, particularly BJP or right wing about this particular issue and makes it different from the others? I mean, that would be the ideal question, and I think that's a fair question.
I think that's a fair question. So I think I would point to two things that, you know, I think since the late 1960s, firstly, we've had no casualties on the LSC right now. I don't know how many Chinese troops died, but, you know, given given the 20 armed Indian troops that is unarmed, they were not armed or armed or a uniform.
I wanted to say I wanted to say uniformed Indian troops died. That is a change in tactics. Right? I mean, it's a fairly significant change in patrolling to armies are clashing. Right. So I would say that that is one big sort of change in. I believe that. I believe the two of those sort of triggers for whatever whatever has happened late. One is this very aggressive road building that, again, predates the BJP, but that is one.
And the second is this change of the status of what is done in Kashmir and the repeal of Article 370. So now I, I'm not I I'm not a diplomat. I don't understand. I don't know how the Chinese have thought through this. What are the factors they've made. But to to a distant observer, there are three. There are these changes and there are these changes in policy that may have triggered that. To answer your question, that is it just the normal back and forth?
I don't think it is normal.
Well, I mean, look, I mean, when it given to 370, but the 370 issue, I'm sure because Schmeer is been a hot spot across the board for China, India and Pakistan. And India has this particular point. China's take some has taken some land over the past few years there. And Pakistan has to. So, I mean, obviously, every single time there's any change or any upheaval or any issue and affects all three countries or how they respond to it.
So that larger context, I don't think there's anything particularly different. Now, if we get into the particularities of what happened with 370, I think that China's response was in relation to that. But China has also been having border disputes over its entire country. Right now. They have issues going on with Taiwan. They have issues going on with Hong Kong, Tibet, and they're there. And it's the opportune time right now, but coincidental time they've been taking action or areas at once.
So so I think this is more of an issue of China responding than it is to India having a particular plan and India's response to China's here. I mean, I, I disagree, but I you know, I really don't have any any way to contest what you you're saying, and it's fair to say that the Chinese have changed. The change is mostly from the state of China. I suppose that's a valid viewpoint. I again, I just don't know enough about what is China's strategic thinking to contest this too much.
Yeah, I mean, I don't know what their strategic thinking is, but I'm just making a point about the coincidental nature of all three of all four incidents happening around the same time. So and that's all I'm saying. I'm not making. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
And you you could say that and you can still see the you know, the the death of 20 Indian uniformed soldiers is a striking departure from previous I mean.
Well, yeah, I mean, I guess it represents it represents a failure, it represents a governance failure by HomeSide.
But again, this is the question where we are just in China. I got this. But here's my point.
How how do you blame the victim side for having been killed as opposed to the other side, victim blaming all this on a victim of anyone they there to patrol the border?
Oh, no, no, no, no, no. But but your statement is so in 20 Indian men, uniformed soldiers were killed. Yes. So it's the fault of the Indian army for having allowed them to be killed. It is the fault of the Indian state to help. Let me answer to have not patrolled adequately, to have not known that these incursions were being made, to have not followed satellite data on the build up, then not to have engaged China diplomatically.
I mean, China's come in, from what I understand. And I know I have no insight, no real actual intelligence. All I know is from public sources, there is a mass there was a massive Chinese buildup in there, did not react to it. This is nuts and bolts governance. This is nuts and bolts governance. I mean, who else besides the Indian government would you hold this to account? I'm not holding those 24 boys who died.
They are not responsible for this. Well, let be straight up and down the chain, up and up and down the brigade commander to the corps, commander of the army, commander to the chief, to the various intelligence agencies and to Dorval, when it all sort of comes, there's no one responsible for this.
I'm not saying what you what is governance if you cannot even trust even you cannot even understand if somebody is coming to your border. Even Donald Trump understands this.
Yeah. So that's not my point. My point is not that there was some sort of issue on the Indian side. I'm not saying that. What I am saying is, first of all, I don't have all the facts of the situation, so I'm not making a statement either way on it. But it seems quite clear that you're already having a position on what my position is based on evidence.
It's not my I mean, my bias is pretty clear. There's no bias. I mean, there's no there's no reason I'm not hiding my bias. But what I presented to you was not my bias. But but facts. We need sources. We know from public sources that there is a Chinese incursion. We know for sure. Of course they did it. There was a massive buildup of Chinese massive military buildup on the Chinese side preceding this incursion. And I see this is what intelligence is for this, this is what maps are for, this is what controlling is for over.
So this is nuts and bolts governance, the nuts and bolts. I just wanted to throw in there that there is the build up. It was also on the Indian side. The Chinese are complaining that their main complaint actually is that the Indians had started building up roads and staging positions, whatever on their side that had been areas which they had completely ignored for a long, long time. Do you think that was a mistake by this government to build more roads in the border area and sort of incite the Chinese?
Is that the fault that they're. Again, you know, I'm really out of my depth here, so I should be careful, but what I'm really I don't know, I don't see the point about all I can say is that, you know, if you're going to build roads and you want to inject power, then you must have then you must have the willpower to project. Right. That just building a road is not the issue. The road was a signal, the projection of power that power comes from.
Ultimately, the source of that power is economic health. Right. So I don't know what I don't think Modi has any more. I don't think Modi can think through these things. But if you are building roads, we should have expected of the actual.
Then we should have catered for that reaction. We should have costed that action so he understood whether our economy could sustain, can sustain, sort of build up.
So I'm just saying, I don't know if it was working.
It doesn't seem like it doesn't seem like it.
But it would seem that that seems to be more of a problem, one or two steps below this level. These are things that the Army, for example, is supposed to work in these things. It's not. No, no, I'm sorry.
I'm very sorry. I'm very sorry, sir. Road building is not a decision of the road to start border wargaming issue, not on the road.
Building next to the Chinese border is not an issue taken by the is not an issue that's decided by the Indian army. This is at the highest levels of government. And then once you make that decision that we need to project power, then you need to understand what the you know, I mean, I don't have to worry about that.
I don't have something. I'm just saying that things started. If you are going to hold people responsible, you'll also have to do it somewhere in the middle level, more than the very top that we disagree on.
We disagree on that. If you're building roads and if you're building roads next to the Chinese border and nobody in your brain trust can understand that this will provoke a reaction, there is a problem.
I get that that I would agree if they did not anticipate it. Maybe they did. I don't know. But anyway, I'm sorry I have to run, but I wanted to before I leave, leave rather to ask you, what is the what do you think are the major sort of fascist steps internally or domestically that he has taken? I'm not talking about GST or economic policy, but outside of that domestic politics, what are the things that scare you most?
And I'm sorry I have to run, so I won't be here for the answer. Hey, Tony, go ahead. So I. In terms of festival. In terms of fascism, I think the I think I guess my the question was, what scares you most? I guess the checks and balances of the Indian state that kind of existed. And it was never perfect and you can always find counterexamples, but there was still a sense of checks and balances, there was still a division of power between the various organs of government.
I think that has eroded, if not been completely eliminated.
Can you give an example? I thought the I thought the I thought the growing up, I, I think the Supreme Court and the way that it has reacted seems to me.
Worrying because it seems less independent than it was when the Congress party was in power. So I think checks and balances there is I think the bureaucracy is highly commun on. The police force was always I don't think there's any difference there. But it seems to me that the various checks and balances that the Indian state had.
Has eroded, so I would say that's the I mean, the only thing I would I would say is I don't I mean, from my understanding of the Supreme Court in India and I've lived there for two years and a lawyer, but I think particularly in this case, I do find the Indian Supreme Court to be. Decently independent, I mean, they've made a lot of decisions over the past few years that go against the prevailing party and sometimes for the prevailing party, they've been pretty decent across the board or the judicial system.
So I'm not sure if I would entirely agree with you there. But I mean, could you give a more concrete example of what you think is like a really fascist action or authoritarian action that would be outside of the realm of economics that would really, you know, kind of hit the nail in the coffin on your point? I mean, that you're trying to drive here?
I think I think wrong. General, me, I think firstly, the verdict, the way that it came out was pretty clear that I don't think the Supreme Court had argued well. But so I think it's a terrible, terrible obscurantists.
In what sense? I mean, I have to ask that because I mean, when I mean, the archaeological data seems pretty clear. The historic data seems pretty clear, especially archaeological data.
I don't know.
Can you tell me can you tell us what is what is this? I actually don't know what you're talking about, this rampage.
OK, so can you just really just concisely, because, like, I think most people are in the background, the background is that there is there was a mosque in a town in Eastern Europe called the Barbary Masjid. And that that the the and of course, are util is central to Hindu mythology as the birthplace of a Hindu God called wrong. So and the Hindu right, as Comtesse has always believed, that has since 19, since modern times is believed.
The mosque was built on the birthplace of this mythological God. So in to Lackas came to a head and the Hindu right actually destroyed the mosque. Subsequently, there's been a dispute on the mosque on this, but there's been a dispute and it's fairly complicated. But last year, I think the memory serves, the Supreme Court ruled that the Supreme Court ruling allowed for Hindus to go ahead and build a temple to this God at the site of the mosque.
Right, and I'm not actually I don't want to get into the legal arguments, but it's very clear what the Hindus are doing, this is an attempt and it has always been an attempt to humiliate Muslims.
OK, so I'm just going to push back here because I think that's entirely incorrect. I mean, if you look at the historical context and there's a wide amount of history done by Meenakshi James Ramble, a bunch of people, even a recent scholar who wrote about the Hindu temples on Princeton, I forget his name, but there's quite a bit of scholarship done on the fact that a lot of these locations tend to be, for example, the Choshi Matara, Varanasi, all these places where mosques are currently standing, where Hindu temples or or some form of Indic temple that was destroyed either during the time of the Mongols like the Butler or in Gizab or someone else.
And the mosque was still there. And these locations, it was I would be equivalent of going to Mecca or Medina and destroying one of those places and putting a Hindu temple there for most of these to come here. So I don't think this issue of humiliation, I do think is an issue of saying we want these sites back that were for thousands of years before we're considered historically relevant and sacred. That's what I think is going on.
Can I ask a question? But can I ask a quick question before Tony Tony response? Are there specific dates when the temples were torn down? OK, people know specifically. Yes, you can go, Tony.
You can you can answer no to the best to the best of my knowledge and do the best. I don't have the I don't have the judgment right now in front of it. But to the best of my knowledge, the the matter of how many Hindu temples were actually destroyed under Islamic rule is firstly highly contestable. And here we will run into problems that you do on Twitter that we would not agree on fact. I will never accept Sitaram as an apology on anything.
And I it just won't happen. Right, or oxygen. I just won't accept them as authorities on this matter. I haven't eaten on the subject and he disagrees with it. So, I mean, again, I mean, can Hindus have the right to their own facts, but I'm not going to accept that so and so I don't accept to historians at all. I don't. So in any way the most important I think what I was trying to say was.
That you have to be either innocent or dishonest to believe that the wrong temple project is anything besides. An assertion of Hindu identity over Muslims, regardless of what. And so this is it's fine for you to believe that. But that's been my view of. OK, I mean, I guess I'm innocent or lying, but it's kind of like it's a false strawman, but that's that's fantastic that that can happen. But I'm not going to get into that.
I mean, that's fine. That's your opinion. But again, the question is, if you haven't read the judgment, you've come out with an opinion. Isn't that kind of also inherently itself a place of bias?
And are you saying that are you saying that I need to read a 50 50 page judgment before I can speak on it? Do I have a day job? No, no, I do, too. I have a job.
I I'm relatively well-informed on the subject, the authority, but I'm relatively well informed. I read sources I trust. I read somebody I trust. I engage as I as was quite active on Twitter for for a banker. I get offended. So this is a document not. No, I mean, I'm not saying you have to read the judgment, what I am saying is at some level, if we're talking about facts and the category does matter, does it not?
No, I think that's what I'm saying. If you want to talk the fact I've ever written on the subject in my in my judgment and what I consider scholarship, he is well regarded on the subject. All right. And of course, he disagrees with this narrative that all these temples were destroyed. You know, it's very, very difficult to point to temples that were destroyed. Well, OK.
Well, I guess I guess the point then, in this particular case, we just want to spend a minute or two and then we can stop this conversation anywhere.
But is the archaeological survey of India over the past 30 years has provided a lot of data on this, actually. So, I mean, how I mean, unless you're saying they were both in the Congress time, this includes people like Bilaal and K.K. Mohammed and a bunch of other people that provide no data. I'm not even talking about like looking through some records necessarily fully, and that they did some of that, but they did mostly like archaeological work.
And what is it?
So let's just sort of what we know so they understand exactly what you're saying. Yeah, yeah. The archaeological study has confirmed that this is the birthplace of.
No, no, no, no, no. I'm not making that claim. I'm not making that. OK, that's something I am saying that the Masjid was built on top of a temple of some sort that either aligns itself with India or Jain architectural or. Oh, but this really did have temples like this. Right. So James at the Bihar's and stupas did not have the elaborate nature of these. So it was as much good, so, yeah, I mean, so I read that that there may have been I mean, there may have been a pre-existing structure.
No, there was, but we don't mean the full nature of what it was.
Yeah. We don't know whether it was. I mean by your own I do this but but by your own sort of statement, it may have been a Hindu. Whatever that word means to those people that were dying that could have been against the archaeological survey of India has not confirmed, one, that this was the birthplace of the mythological wrong.
Yeah, but I mean, you know, that can't be proven by any old one.
No one is objecting to the building of the temple. You want to do that, the bill to Dr.. We are we are talking of this contested site and in the Hindu narrative is that here this is the this was the birthplace of this God. There was a Hindu temple there that was subsequently destroyed by the mosque or the mosque was mounted on top of it right now. I mean, if you believe that, it's fine, I can change your beliefs.
But this narrative is very much this. And so this whole attempt politically is an attempt to assert Hindu identity and Hindu identity in modern India cannot be understood without. What are those? I'm not disagreeing there, I'm not disagreeing that there's. Yeah, so that's what I said. So what is what is fastest? Fastest is the assertion of majority identity over minority.
Well, that's fascism that it's a state intrusion. But that's fine.
We can have a different conversation because if the prime minister is going the prime minister of India. Is going for the movie Pooja. Right. But let's be cautious, there's the involvement of the state. Well, I mean, in America, we have prayer breakfast where the weather with the president goes to churches and stuff. I mean, that's the involvement of the state. But again, that doesn't in and of itself make a particular thing. Fascists or anti cyclers.
It's does this individual go to other sites? Does he go to other religions? I mean, that's what makes it secular. But let's we can move on from this topic. I think the question was if gunman. Yeah, my questions is really straightforward, Tony. So I'm reading stuff on the Internet, as people do, about how it's very scary to be a Muslim in India today.
Yeah. People, you know, what are they telling you?
It's about do I have you know, I I have a lot of Muslim friends, given how I grew up. They're mostly wealthy and they're mostly sort of educated. And for the first time in their lives, they are thin skinned Muslim families that I know almost without exception or have. Tried to send their kids abroad, and my best friend actually is a Muslim Indian Muslim, and she's her parents are extremely wealthy and well-connected people, but they're applying to green cards to come to America.
So I think, you know, so I can only I have no access to what's happening in the villages or in the slums. I can only imagine how bad it is for them because your street doesn't protect them anyway. So it's very bad, it's very bad being an Indian Muslim and there's constant taunting, this constant sort of abuse you have. I mean, I know this you have been on the other side of it the last few days. And so, you know, I mean, you're not Twitter.
It's you know, as I said, it's it is very stark. I don't want to see inferiority about skin color, about this or that, just like like who knows? It's very bad being an Indian Muslim.
And I mean, what what do they fear concretely? What do they fear concretely? What is their fear? They're going to be a problem. Are there going to be camps like what do they fear? Yeah, they feel they fear mobs coming and coming and killing them, they feel that they feel Hindu mobs coming in and killing them in, and they fear that their neighbors who they've lived with are no longer going to protect them. That didn't happen to see, by the way, in eighty four, you know, Hindu neighbors more often than not protected the Sikh neighbors from the congressman's.
But so I think if you're I think it's very bad, it's very bad for the country if the country survives, as we just mentioned, two hundred million people cannot be killed. Yeah, I mean, this, I guess, goes back to my first point, which was, you know, there is I mean, like you said, Razib has dealt with this himself. And in terms of a large part of the what I find as a crowd has this irrational fear or hatred of anything Muslim.
And, yes, it seems to be I mean, to be honest, I feel like a lot of countries in this world have that issue to, you know, in America, we have this kind of fear there, too much of the right wing. But my question to you is, do you think that this is more of a fear that's being stoked in non urban areas of do you think urban areas, Muslims are are in a better position in India or not like looks like.
I don't think so.
I don't think so anymore. I give you an incident that this is in Bombay. I mean, to people. I don't know if you've ever been to Bombay. I lived in India, so I went to public quite often. Yeah, so there's a place called Dondre and I had a friend who told me that he was just crossing of an over bridge with his younger brother and the cops stopped them. And one thing led to another. The cops come to know what, that they are Muslim by the names.
And he says, give me X amount of money or I'll shoot you and I'll call it an encounter. And his 12 year old brother, of course, started crying. And now I don't think he lied to me. So, I mean, I was there, but I know him very well. So I don't think you lied to me.
But this guy is actually this guy is well, he's educated. He went to he's an engineering engineer. So and he's actually he's not. So this is happening and the Hindus are the Hindus and the blue state.
Is, I think, encouraging it at this point, it's not even looking very. So you think it's from top down, it's condoning. It's very clear, it's very clear what he believes is very clear. I mean, it's very clear what the child believes. It's very popular doll. Everybody understands that.
Muslim lives are. Not don't count as much as he lives do this, I mean, we should not we should not lie to ourselves about what the Hindus are doing to the state. Glenda. Yeah, I know, I got I got them all right now, I think we've gone for a while today. Yeah. So I guess, Tony, you want to close up with anything? No, no, it was good chatting with you, I mean, you different ideological views, but that's fine.
All right, guys, I'm out. I'll close out here and I'll see you next time, Tony. Tune in next week for Brown just.