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The brown pundits of Brown, welcome to another edition of the Brown Pundits Brown cast. We have today a very special guest with us, The Good Stuff. Iwaniec is the South Asia expert and the head of the Asia Research Center at the World Studies University in Portland.


And is, I think, our first Polish guest, so Crystal writes regularly about India and writes in an Indian publication as well. He writes in The Diplomat fairly regularly. So we'll ask him about his background as well as his views on India and the world at large. So I'll start by asking Chris to tell us a little about himself for who he is and what he does.


Good morning. Thanks for having me. So in about me, I'm Polish.


Yes, that's right. But I'm kind of interested. I have been interested in India for nearly half of my life already. I will turn 40 soon this year. And 20 years ago I've started studying in biology and since then most of what I have done in my life was in one way or the other, connected to India. So I studied, I studied Sanskrit, then Hindi. I studied Sanskrit for five years in in Poland and Hindi for four years in Poland.


I studied I lived in India for less than a year on an icon scholarship where I studied Hindi.


I must admit that I've forgotten most of my Sanskrit and they moved on from that to say like more classical in the study of languages and culture into more contemporary stuff and more into politics and contemporary history, contemporary in the modern history of India. So so I've graduated from Anthology and from history. So I got to MIT from Warsaw University. But then I did the on Vidia Party School Center, which is a network of RSS connected schools in India.


I taught Hindi for a considerable period in Poland. I taught Hindi in South Korea to private Korean University, Hong Kong University of Foreign Studies.


So I was for two and a half years, I was a Polish person teaching Korean students Hindi for English. And then I came back five years ago when I became a as somebody introduced me ahead of Education Center at War Statis University, where I focus again on contemporary Indian affairs, security related, economic related to politics related.


But like. Privately, academically, I'm mostly interested in Indian, let's say, political ideologies and their contemporary histories, so many Hindu nationalism. And right now about this, I guess we are planning to talk more into conservatism. So kind of that would be I guess I also write for the diplomat, as I have said so mostly interested in what is going on in India right now in terms of politics and 20th century Indian history. Now, that would be, I guess.


Right. So that's very interesting, when you became interested in India. Were you interested in you know, there are a lot of people who go and find kind of the spiritual side of India and are interested in Indian religion or Indian philosophy. Was that something that interested you at first?


Yes. Yes. That's also my major use of intelligence was, I must admit, the kind of random in the sense that I first started to study history and I was kind of, well, bored, I must admit, and kind of lost. I always thought that history was what I wanted to do. And after the first year of studying ancient history, I was no longer sure and I was looking for something completely different. And they would just, you know, just like that at random.


I picked anybody. I always remembered that in high school I was the only person in my class that did not know that the currency of India is rupee. So I would say that before I joined the military department, my knowledge of India was like even below average, not even the average. So that was a completely random choice. But yes, the cultural aspect attracted me at first a lot, and there were kind of very ingeniously constructed.


And I think it still is a system of teaching that they had that universal because it was kind of influenced by classical Indian art or yes, let's say classical Indian ways of teaching, because we had a class which was called the iron.


It was really cold and it had a Sanskrit, the Ianna and where we were taught, you know, trochus from Bhagavad Gita by heart from week one before we even knew how to write Devanagari, before we even knew Sanskrit grammar, we already had to learn from it. So that was very refreshing, something very new in my life. But I still I think it is still very important in that I had learned this even though I forgot most of Sanskrit.


But, you know, as they say about lighting it, sometimes it's not so important to you to know that it's important that you learned it, even if you forgot that you can always get back to it. And I think it's the same with me, because I later decided that there are quite enough people in Pull-Out, in the Energy Departments that study language and culture. I wanted very frankly, to move into a field that was, you know, untilled and and used in Poland, which was where, as I said before, Indian politics.


But I think it's good that I studied more of Sanskrit and Hindi because Hindi, you can always catch more, you know, on the streets in India or reading newspapers by talking to people about you largely cannot with Sanskrit. And I think it gave me a background which is very useful for the study of especially if you study Hindu.


Right. When you study RSS or Hindu conservatism, it's a background which is very important. So I'm I must admit, I'm no longer interested in that spiritual part of in of India as such.


But it's a very important background for me to understand religion as well. So coming to your current interest, you you have written about Indian politics and different aspects of Indian politics, but one of the things you wrote about was why the BJP is more of a nationalist party than a conservative party. And how do you mean by that? And how did you come to that conclusion? Yes.


And as I said before, I studied RSS. I mean, I researched RSS for a number of years from my PhD, which is still unpublished. Hopefully it will be published soon. And it was on RSS schools. And then I decided that, you know, it's it would be good to start something new. And I thought of Hindu conservatism. So at this point, the first question that comes to mind, what does it even mean? How do I differentiate between nationalism and conservatism?


Why do I do not consider BJP a conservative party? So my starting point would be. To use another Gunnars words. That's a paraphrase, but the governor said that the nationalists are more concerned with preserving communities and the conservatives are more concerned with preserving institutions. These are not his exact words, but that's a paraphrase. And they think this one sentence is, you know, it's kind of more valuable than an entire article on conservatism that one can read elsewhere.


So like to expand on this.


It's not a destination I believe is completely opposite and different from conservatism, but they are intertwined and in not only in the Indian context and not only in the context of the Hindu right, there are fields' aspects on which nationalist and conservative states can cooperate as well as there, that they may hold opposite views.


And the Indian case is one of such. And I think gellner that one sentence by Bengalese helps a lot in understanding this. So to give you a few examples in the Indian context, the sacredness of how you can certainly say that this is an institution of Saat because, you know, there are institutions in the sense of a tradition that the Hindus are preserving. And it is certainly apart from this that it is a very central belief and custom for the Hindus, including Hindu Orthodox in the conservatives.


But not only them, the the symbol of cow as a sacred animal was has been for a long time a rallying point for and for the Hindus in the field of politics. You know, even before Hindu nationalism was issued for me, formed even before the RSS was established at the end of the 19th century, there were those cow protection movements that served as a rallying point for for the Hindus in the realm of politics. So. When it came to two, two, two, two, two, the sacredness of cow, for example, and to the cow protection conservatives, the conservatives and Hindu nationalist cooperated.


That was visible, for example, in the nineteen sixty six in nineteen sixty six, India witnessed those massive cow protection movement marches and demonstrations, and they were coordinated by both organizations that controlled nationalist as well as conservatives.


So this is where an institution like a cow, like a sacred cow is, well, useful to unifying the community.


But let's take the caste system as a as a second instance. The Hindu conservatives, like the ones I am researching, that the Japanese had a party that was a party that was mainly active in India in the 1950s.


There were unusually for Indian politics.


There were very open in their defense of the caste system. And well, if we take the BJP, which you asked about BJP, and I would say that they are a bit ambiguous when it comes to the caste system, the past leaders of the Hindu nationalist movements were openly against the system. I am mainly referring to the Democrats advocate who was even arranging intercostals marriages because then let's get now together and his definition when you have institutions and communities. Now, the caste system on one hand, is a very important part of the Hindu religion.


So for the identity of the Hindu nation, it's important as well in various ways. But in some ways, for Hindu nationalists there, the impact of the caste system is bad because it divides the Hindus where they want to unite. This is what Safaga was fighting against. His chief goal was to politically unite the Hindus and he so the caste system as hindrance because it was dividing the Hindus, although some of his statements on the caste system were very also ambiguous, I would say.


So if you look at what BJP says about the caste system, you know, on one hand they are not very openly attacking the caste system.


They are not calling for reform. But then there are those symbolic gestures like that. The prominent BJP leaders intertwining with with with Dalitz.


So this is a case that will end up with this, because I talk so much about this is a case where an institution is a hindrance to the unity of the community.


So with those instances, I would wrap up this. But by saying that, you know, whether conservatives and nationalists agree with each other depends on whether particular communities are useful in the project of of uniting the nation. If they are not if nationalists want to reform those institutions, then they come in conflict with the conservatives. Right, so you mentioned that a party that did represent the conservative side of this equation was the ramrodding opposition party. What was that party and what was their stance?


What what can you tell us about them?


Yes. So. I must admit, that's an ongoing project ongoing in the sense that I have a lot of research still to do on that party. I have been researching it for the past few years, but it's the sources which one has to use are kind of elusive. So it will take me a lot of time and certainly a lot of work to be unearthed about this party, but to to move on.


But I'm going to jeopardize not was a party formed in the 1940s by at that time quite well-known Hindu, Sotho, Hindu, holy man and religious figure Swami Carpati is not that much known in India anymore, but in his time he was definitely even if he was not very famous. Carpati was a renowned religious authority in India and he was known for very orthodox review. For example, he opposed the entrance of Dalitz into temples. Even when the government forced the temples to open, he still called to not only to retain at least some temples and not not allow them not to allow that is to come into them.


And Carpati. In 1940s, Carpati formed his own party. Even the name of that party is very interesting. Ramras, Japanese Bharatiya Janata Party. In short, the party that the Council of the Kingdom of God Rama, this is how we could translate this into English. So even the name is interesting because it contains this very important notion of what Ahmadinejad, the kingdom of Rama, the Hindus, not only conservative Hindus and not only nationless Hindus believe, as you know, that Rama really did rule physically.


She she was an avatar of him. He ruled on their feet. He was a king and Aditi at the same time. But and that he's that is very important to note that the Hindus believe that the Ramas Kingdom Raja, as you would say, in India, was the perfect ideal government. But despite this, apart from this, many Hindus believe that the kingdom is to come again. And very interesting to Swami Carpati. He also kind of unclosed, encapsulated his views in one sentence.


He once said that many people say that we want to go forward. And he says, I say that we should go back. Yizhe claim that everything that was perfect, that was correct in Indian history was already there in Ramas Kingdom, and we should only reinstate that. So his party in its name was promising that the people saying we want to reinstate Ramas Kingdom, at least metaphorically, that party, I must admit it's next to forgotten.


It's still theoretically it still functions, though these are not the same people as they were in 1950. So McCarthy himself died a long time ago.


And that party admittedly, you know, never won an election in India. I could give you an example. I worked on that party in the Archives of India, including the Parliament Library in Delhi, where a security guard on one day asked me, why are you here? What are you researching? When I explained that I was and then when I told him that I was searching the party, he being Indian, asked me, OK, but what was this party?


When I explained this the next day, another security guard in the presence of the other one asked me the same questions. And then the the guard that I briefed the previous day, he explained to his colleague, oh, that was the Conservative Party active in nineteen fifties, kind of pretending that he always knew this and that he learned from me the other day. So kind of even when I talk to people in India right now, many of them I'm not single, but many do not know this party.


But I don't think the fact that they never won an election makes that party unimportant.


And I think you had on your podcast not long ago, you hosted a lady. Right, who will define himself as a as an Indian conservative.


And I think he it was he who said a very important sentence, that in India, in Indian politics, conservatism is next to non-existent, but socially it is dominant. And I I agree with this particular sentence and I think. I try not to look at the fact whether the Japanese have won elections or not, I think that the views of our party and the activities of that party were still very relevant. And actually we can find many people agreeing with what Carpati was saying, even though this is not seen at the rhetorical level of politics, maybe.


Can I talk to just one more thing? Add for now, the Japanese had never won an election, as I said, but they did come second in the first elections in Rajasthani in nineteen fifty one fifty two, there were the biggest opposition party and were their politicians and electorate rallied around the cause of the GDR. Then the small to middle land owners who did the Congress Socialist Congress government wanted to deprive of part of their land. So the Japanese at that point emerged as the party could defend the land owners against that reform.


It failed, but it was at the in early 1950s. It had the support of many Rajasthani landowners that the jaggedness so that was a conservative causes par excellence in the sense that it defended the old order, it defended the people's right to property and other things that went with it, for example, that the right to bear arms and, you know, their their their connections to talking to customs.


So although they failed, I think they represented an important strand in Indian politics. So so on that point, I mean, it strikes me as kind of interesting, if that was the the the I guess the super what we could call like a super conservative kind of movement or right wing movement in India, then how does that relate to a BJP currently?


BJP is currently, you know, determined to be a right wing or claim to be a right party. But they clearly have very different positions on a lot of these issues compared to the Ramrods. But he's got the right. So what, if any, relationship does the BJP have with the Ramrods Parishad today or I mean, the in terms of the RoboRoach pressure that doesn't exist today.


But what what impact did the Ramrods party should have on the BJP if.


Yes, so. So this again, I think is visible. I mean, it's best analyzed through what Goldner said about institutions and communities, I believe, because indeed, Bharatiya Janata Party is now actually the sole party of the Hindu right. Maybe Shiv Sena. No, I leave aside the fact that Shiv Sena is now in a completely different alliance. But ideologically, I guess Shiv Sena would be the only party that counts that can be defined as Hindu.


Right. Besides that, the BJP. But it was not so obvious decades ago when Bharatiya Janata Party, Ajanta Party was not at first so popular. And there was a time when Sutanto party was the main party of the right in India.


So there were times kind of know. Only now I'm trying to answer your question. There were times where there were a few times in 1950s and 1960s and there where those ideas to merge the parties of the Hindu right. I haven't actually mentioned the first one among them, which was the Hindu Masalha.


So what before the BJP became BJP, when it was Bharatiya Janata, the Bharatiya Janata and the Hindu and the Japanese are those three parties of the Hindu right. They were negotiating with each other, whether they should emerge and they fail in those negotiations. And again, what they agreed on was, for example, joint action to protect the House. But they also agreed on rules, for example, that their views on and Kashmir what they disagreed on, for example, was that Ramras Japanese, had reportedly refused to allow Valdese in as members of the party.


And it was only reported the Japanese had reportedly only admitting Hindus. Other than that, it's one Hindu somehow was admitting all the Hindus, but it wasn't admitting non Hindus while the genocide was at all. So. In this spectrum, Dorottya, genocide was more moderate. I know this may sound awkward to many who oppose this party, but in comparison to the patient narrative, genocide was the moderate party. And for such reasons, Japanese have refused eventually to merge with them.


Carpati once wrote in the journal called in the newspaper called Sunberg that we are open to a merger, but we cannot be like the Bharatiya Janata Bank who eat with dogs on the ground. I'm sorry, these are his words, not mine. So this is kind of his suggestion that, you know, they were eating with Dalitz and he really compared to Dalitz, to the Orthodox, in his words, not mine. So how does it differ to BJP now?


I think the BJP. Rightly decided not to go, that the very orthodox way they read the leaves in the right way and Carpati and Ramras, they read the leaves in the wrong way. But you have the party understood that to be the main party of the Hindu right, they don't have to very explicitly stand for all of those all of the Hindu traditions and customs, because as I said earlier, some of them actually were and are a hindrance to their project of uniting Hindus politically.


So they have chosen to focus on those symbols, like the Ayodhya example, where they could unite the Hindus above their differences and would support them in this.


But they kind of, in a way, BJP sidelined, you know, that very strictly orthodox conservative wing or faction of the Hindu right, although, you know, it is still a visible that they are not completely intertwined. They are not completely opposite to that element in some case was and was, I think, a good instance of this where, you know, they eventually their position was to defend the tradition of not allowing the Orthodox tradition of not allowing Coonana into the temple.


So I'm not saying that they are completely reformist. I'm saying that they chose a more nationalist and less orthodox conservative way and it turned out to be a correct choice. Just one more thing about this. I also think that it would actually already set about conservatism being how is it possible that the conservatism is politically non-existent in India and socially dominant? I guess it can be explained through the language of political correctness. Many people in practice would defend the caste system or at least would not rebel against the caste system.


But, you know, it's not the right way to say in Indian politics, you just don't say because then you are branded as caste taste. So you just don't say you support the system, but you also don't fight against it. I don't know if you agree with this or not, but I think this explains why parties like the Japanese, they were saying things which many people believed, but they were saying them too openly and in a politically incorrect way.


Yeah, yeah, I'm I mean, I'm a little apart, part of me agrees with you, I think part of part of me says there are these caste lines that remain in India for the past few hundred years have very, very been solidified. Whether whether whatever community you are. Right. Like if you look if you claim to even look at the politics or something like that, you you find very strong caste lines even among the political parties. Right.


But in DMK versus DMK, you might find more Bremen's sitting with DMK than they do with DMK.


But the caste lines are much more that certain communities sit with the DMK than DMK. Right. So you end up having caste lines, very importantly playing Indian politics, because a large part of Indian politics is based upon votebank. Right? So if you end up having, you know, a certain community backing you, then you you play those caste games.


But I would say this. I don't think I don't think that it's not unspoken. It's there. Everyone talks about it. But there is a drive from my because I lived in India for a few years, you know, throughout my life, where I find people do do talk about caste. They do want a change in that aspect. One of the things I find with BJP, especially, you know, people like I've been up Prakash and Guru Prakash, these are DELYTH leaders who who spend quite a bit of time talking about India nationalism.


They find the BJP movement to be very open ended, encompassing of all differences. Now, again, if we refer to a couple, three, Maharaj comes from a particular line of thought, which is a great idea of the governing nepeta, which is a much more conservative adverting. Peter. Right.


So they, you know, chocolatiers is although it's philosophically, people love it across the board. One of the things they also forget is that the tax itself limits who can achieve moksha and who can't. I mean, not the tax, but the philosophy. Right. So whereas places like mudflat manager, other other traditions are much more socially liberal in the way of addressing caste and addressing, you know, rules of caste. Right. Like, for example, Omada allowed dullards and untouchables and anyone else to enter a temple that didn't happen for large part of India and for other parts of India for a long time.


So we have to be very, very clear that when Ramrodded Parishad, that's a very, very small North Indian movement, it wasn't like a huge and they're not even north.


And, you know, it was almost central India right up kind of area.


It was very, very central, a smaller movement.


So I think with the BJP and even now we see there's a huge movement towards and I think from the start they've been that way, like you've already addressed is they've been very much about the identity of Hindus, regardless of caste.


Yes. Do they do they play caste politics? Yes. But everyone in India does. Yeah.


So I don't know if that makes sense.


Yeah, yes, of course, I would say that it with the BJP, it's, you know, being such a large party, it's always comes at the cost of being a kind of umbrella for various factions and groups. And I think it is also visible with regards to to the attitudes towards caste in the sense that you are right and and I am right in the sense that we can, you know, kind of pull out of various instances. The Dravidian parties are different case.


I don't research South India, so I cannot say much about this.


But yes, in the BJP Troughton. Allowing and only allowing, but expanding their social base to lower costs from obesity to Dallis has been a very important and I think quite successful project of the BJP and the Dalitz.


The Dalit membership of the BJP has been highlighted, for example, during the Ayodhya movement.


But, you know, on the other hand, you know, playing caste. Yes, Blanca's in the sense of in elections, as I said, you said what everybody does, but why I believe that they are kind of moderate on caste is that, you know, they could have built an initiative that specifically and very openly targets the caste system like they did, for example, with the Uniform Civil Code, where you specifically say, OK, this is our election promise.


This is the part of the society where I will believe certain customs are wrong and we declare to, you know, to legally and politically reform this. Now, of course, they pay lip service to go to to equality. Everybody does. But I fail to find such a central project on, you know, on the caste system when it comes to the BJP. So I would say they are kind of like starting to weigh in kind of a fence sitting when it comes to well, so so on this.


I have a few thoughts right now with caste. You know, I think and I forget what year was I mean, in the foundation of the Constitution itself in India, they they they basically outlaw caste. Right. And then you end up having the acceptance of caste over the years in terms of like the the quotas for government schools, for government jobs, for for the upliftment of people, which was done by the Congress party.


And, you know, a lot of, you know, other parties coming together. So my question I mean, I guess not so much a question, but a statement would be like, what? What can BJP do in addition to what's been done by the history of the past 70 years to address the caste issue? I mean, aren't they already doing the reach, the outreach effort, bringing people in, given the positions of power? And then and on top of that, I guess I guess the other the other part would be.


Now, going back to the commercial, I mean, the earlier point, which is even Congress, you know, fundamentally is paying playing cash games from the get go. Right.


The entire new dynasty is sitting around teetering between their braininess and then they're their Westernness, right. Like even Rahul Gandhi in this day and age tells everyone he is, you know, Yaghnobi beat the varying Brahmin. You know, it's as if, like everyone wants to be the upliftment, the uplifter of the dullards.


And at the same time, like The Potami Brahman, the great Brahmin, whoever wants to look up to it's a weird it's a weird mix of of of of ideas. They're trying to be everything for everyone. And I think that is a problem that that is very difficult to address the Indian Indian political game. Yeah, so, yeah, it's also the case of your patient has shown, I believe, that I mean, it's inside, of course, but the case showed that it was a necessary way to go for the the BJP, by the way.


I mean, the way to kind of spread wings and attract the various social groups. I mean, it was the only way to be on one hand and explicitly Hindu party and to win elections was, you know, to to reach out to various Hindu social groups. And that was something I mean, how could that Japanese had to win if they were mainly referring to then referring to the rights of land owners and and to Orthodox Hindu customs.


But what do I expect the BJP to do more in terms of, you know, cost equality? No, I don't. Do I agree with you on that, that everybody's playing games? Yes. But could they theoretically, potentially, could they do more? Well, yes, because you mentioned and I said I don't expect them to do this, but you mentioned that regional parties in the South could also hold down so much party. So there were and are parties that really try to whether it was the right way to do this, that's another discussion to have.


But they try to do to be more explicitly supportive of the reality.


And, you know, you can put more delegates in central positions and you can more focus on symbolic. You can focus on more programs for them.


So, yes, I believe that the BJP could do more, though I also don't think I don't expect them to do so.


Yeah, I mean, I'm not really I'm not conversant in what they're doing in the internal administration of the BJP, whether or not they're you know, they have more obesity's or dullards positions of power or if it's just in certain places, I don't know that. So I can't comment on that.


I mean, the only thing I would have to say is there I mean, there does seem to be a large I mean, the only reason BJP is is powerful at this time in an age is because you have a massive upswell of obesity's dullards and other communities or lower caste, slower economic communities that are supporting the BJP. In many ways. BJP, like, for example, has has taken steps to to bring them to the fold. Right. You know, their entire movement towards, you know, bringing toilets to to, you know, what, 80, 80 black people or something like that or more than that.


I forget the number and then bringing, you know, clean water to rural areas where they didn't have electricity.


These are things that that for large part, you know, much of Congress and the Indian political world before never really did. So I think there is something to be said about the fact that, yes, they might not be necessarily throwing around and talking about it much, but in some ways they're addressing the problem by addressing the. The lack of resources and they're bringing to the table, like I think Modi, Modi also passed a law giving more like scholarships and money to to to students or obviously students that that do well.


So I think there's there's definitely more practical things being done. I don't know if they're doing anything in the terms of speech.


Yeah, well, certainly there are those projects that they do. I would say there are development projects. But, you know, if we recall what you know, what what is the relation to, you know, the entities, the parties and the organizations of the Dalit movements, then, you know, in the case of Maharashtra, for example, and shows that, you know, that they weren't exactly on the same page with the Delhi reformist movement.


I just right now, I forgot that the particular instance in in Maharashtra where they there was this referendum charanga.


Was it that one? Yeah, probably so this is just one instance. I'm not into Maharastra politics that much, but what I mean by this is that I understand what you mean. I mean, I certainly agree that this is important, that they are doing development projects.


But I see where we disagree, I guess, is that I don't see them embracing Dalit Dalit movement then the proper Dalit movements like the one seen in Maharashtra.


Yeah, I mean, I'm not saying that they're embracing these movements. That's not my my point.


I'm saying that they're in some level.


They're addressing underlying issues about the nature of of what what caste difference can can lead to, which is primarily socio economic loss of either status or opportunities. Right. So if you address those issues, this is this is me now, just like hypothesizing that they're addressing the way they're trying to address caste is by addressing the underlying issues that caste can cause for real life people, which is loss of economic opportunities, loss of access to water, electricity, these fundamental things that that therefore historically for a couple hundred years have been denied to certain communities being oppressed by other communities.


Right. You know, whether it's you know, whether it's a OBC oppressing, depressing problem, doing something are doing something. I mean, all these different jobs, whatever, whatever community doing crap to each other. Right. So I think the underlying thing is the government has tried or the BJP has tried to address the underlying issues. And yeah, they're not necessarily on board with everything that's being done by the various, you know, groups necessarily across the country.


Because, again, they're I think the their viewpoint is national versus less, less, less focused on regional. But again, I don't know a lot about Maharashtra politics or politics in every state in India.


I can talk generally, but not not in specifics.


Yeah, I could give you the case of one other thing. You just came to my mind. What what I really should have said is that, um. Yes. So you mentioned that the kind of social opportunities and this is where, you know, the government can introduce policies that are very neutral and and and secular, like, you know, building toilets that will nobody will oppose this. And it will be the right thing to do and it will help the people, especially the poorer ones.


So that's completely uncontroversial. But what I failed to do to kind of remember and adhere to to state is that, you know what I think they should have I get well, I'm not I'm not a government servant in India to tell them what to do.


But if you ask me, then what they should do, I think, is to stand up to Dalitz and to to be with others, to support them in cases of social oppression, because it's not enough just, you know, to to to build a toilet here or there. But, you know, admittedly, there is still a lot of oppression going on in India right now.


And there have even in the past months and years, there have been cases of uppercuts in Uttar Pradesh, for example, you know, doing very bad things to try to see, including murder and rape, where, of course, sooner or later police does something.


But I don't see, you know, BJP politicians, but also most of the other mainstream politicians need to be, to be fair, you know, coming out in a very strong support saying that cannot be done. We will you know, we are very strong against this violence.


I mean, that the the the law and order apparatus may do its part or not.


But, you know, in those cases, the BJP doesn't, you know, make it their central, you know, point of agenda. They don't bring out large marches.


Well, they do this well when it comes to other issues.


Yeah. I mean, I'm not going to disagree with you there. I mean, of course, there's caste violence all across India. And, you know, some of it is is. Very much caste oriented, some of it is is other things, I think one of the issues I generally have with the media and they do a very shoddy job of this is is actually addressing finding out what what caused the issue. Right in my sometimes it just if it's automatically one cast that gets killed versus another cast that is killing, they automatically assume it's a caste issue and that's how they talk about it.


I mean, there's so much nuance in human engagement, I think.


And this is also towards the Western eye. And this is like this in many ways, this conversation is is a Western kind kind of conversation where we're talking about caste as if it's the the most important ground reality in India. And some ways it is and some ways it's not. And I think we just have to be cognizant that that caste is much less important now than it was 50 years ago, hundred years ago. I mean, especially in urban areas, it's it's becoming less and less of an issue.


But, you know, it's still of course, it's still something that's present. So I think a lot of Indian politics can be connected to caste, but I think a lot more is moving towards what how do we get beyond the idea of a small community to a larger community? And in some ways, I think that's what the BJP movement has been. But you know how successful they've been. That's another story. Yes, if I may ask my adversary to do to get back to Japan for a moment.


I would. Maybe I should have stated this before, I disagree with many of central views that Swami Carpati and his party held, but I try to remember my views. I try to I just assumed they were important. And it doesn't matter so much what I think about them. But what would work that it was it was what was their significance in the social political context of India and the Japanese are the ones created a controversy in 1950 when they said that they.


I agree for Dalitz to hold senior government positions, but only in departments dealing with industries like leather and hide. So it was a huge controversy at that time.


And that was kind of you know, what they said was kind of like enhancing the caste system into the official, you know, government administrations and it was a very orthodox thing to do. Yes, we are for equality provided that they will be restrained to the fields they were socially restrained to so far. And although why did they mention political correctness earlier?


Everybody, apart from everybody, criticized that statement. There has been some research later that proved that actually in some of the Indian 1950s, 1960s, I'm not saying exactly the same now, but it was like this was what was happening in practice that the Dalitz were being employed.


If these were senior positions, then in certain departments like departments dealing with sewage. So kind of they were being, you know, the caste system was being kind of, you know, copied into the government system. Of course, India has moved on a lot since then. But as you said, it's more in the cities than in the villages that the temples were opened in 1950, most of them for decades. But when you go to the countryside, you can still find the temples there where even if that's not legally sound, they in practice, they cannot go because they know that the upper crust will stop them.


But so to to kind of summarize what I think also was important, they say I said something that was politically very incorrect and for which they were criticized. But actually, it turns out that in practice, some government departments in some cities were doing exactly what the language operator was saying, only that, you know, on the highest levels of Indian political rhetoric, nobody was at the meeting, that this was the case.


So I think all the Japanese had failed.


I think they were important as kind of an example of certain views that are usually not discussed on the letter on the level of political correctness. But we do know that many I mean, I believe many people really hold those views. That would not be surprising, but I think that that happens normally and as you said, and especially in rural areas, when it comes to actual cost violence or any kind of violence where a dominant group is committing violence against this sort of traditionally oppressed group, the dominant group also tends to dominate the administration, the political parties, the senior positions, whatever.


And even if their rhetoric is very different in practice, people will take care of their own. So none of this is sort of surprising to someone studying science, I guess.


But I was going to say, do you do you have in Poland itself? A number of other, like established institutions studying India or its relatively few people, and you're one of the few people well.


There are a few departments of intelligence in major police universities, so I'm not one of the few when it comes to studies of India as such, especially in the military. But as I said, I I made a conscious choice to move from that side, from the military to the study of Indian politics and history. And in that field, I'm usually alone there. And that was, to be very frank with you. That was a kind of, you know, strategic and thought out step on my side to kind of go where there were few people.


So Indian politics is something very few people in India are interested in. It would be in Poland. It would be unfair to say I'm the only one, but there are a few, but also only a few people in Poland dealing with, say, North Korea and or not to mention Myanmar.


So we are a small country and is very, you know, very much focused on our neighborhood and Europe.


So in general, did the study, with notable exceptions, the study of various aspects of Asian countries in Poland is is not very popular. Well, not comparable to the US, let's say.


Yes, sir. Well, I was going to say I had the thought that this may have worked to your advantage, not just sort of his personal positioning or whatever, but in terms of how objective you are. The when I read your articles, it sort of struck me that it's very hard to find and some India specialist from England or the US who would write the same way. I think they are going to be too caught up in current political polarization and they are themselves involved in it in a way.


There they will have friends and fellow department members who are very aggressively active in current politics. And there are positions that they even if they sort of faintly think about them sometimes they can't publicly say, I think you may have an advantage there. I really liked your articles and I think you do an exceptionally good job.


I think it well, I would say that I don't think it's about being in a department or not, at least not in Poland. Maybe it's different in the US. But I think what helps in a way, is being from from that part of Europe in the sense that somebody that works to the advantage of, I would say, many Polish academics that, you know, I think when we deal with alien countries, we don't have that colonial background.


Sometimes people tell me this in countries like India, not only that, you know, when they talk to people from countries like Poland, we don't look down so much. It happens in Poland as well. And this race is important as well, admittedly and obviously. But, you know, possibly maybe we don't look down so much on people from Asia and Africa as people from Western Europe and the United States, too. As for politics. Well, yes and no.


I mean, thanks. But this is this is very kind of you to say. But, you know, also, I think it kind of works. What works to my disadvantage is that when I have less people to talk to, I have less people, you know, kind of to test my views in Poland. You know, in that immediate neighborhood, I it would be good to have somebody who is a very harsh reviewer of what I write in Polish before I won't write in English.


I think what helped me was that I took a lot of time. I took a lot of time before, you know, joining Twitter, before starting to publish in English. You know, I became a student of India 20 years ago and it's only has been a few years. Last year I started to publish for the diplomats, so in English and to reach a wider audience. So that part is not about being academic or not or being Polish or not.


I think, you know, India being so vast and so diverse, it's a good idea for anybody from anywhere, you know, to take your time before you know anything on India. In my case, you know, I lived there for nine months. I didn't mention this, but I kept going to India every year since 2004 because I also worked as a reader. So I visited India nearly every year since 2004 and. You know, this has been 20 of my 40 years of life, and I still feel I don't understand and not know so much that it's I will just have to endure for the rest of my life.


And still, there will be so many things I don't understand.


So in that way, everybody who deals with India, regardless Polish or American left wing or right wing, is, you know, facing that threat of of repeating generalizations more than in case of other smaller countries, because it's so diverse that it's very easy to formulate opinions on India and very difficult to decide whether those opinions are true in practice.


Why do you when you interact with the Indians, especially the official semiofficial think tank kind of people, see any trend or any active interest in in cultivating Eastern European countries as an entry into Europe and doing more with them than they used to?


Yes, to a point. I mean, OK, in conversations because you mentioned conversations. Yes, certainly it's and it's obvious that, well, India, in the sense of Indian government and Indian officials don't have a political problem with Europe usually, and they are open with more and more cooperation.


There are also. They you know, they are outspoken in private conversations, in in engaging also with Eastern Europe in practice, I don't see this that much, this engagement. But on both sides, I would say, you know, that also Eastern European countries, well, not all of them. Hungary is, for example, doing much more than Poland, but generally, at least in Poland.


But I think also not only in Poland, there is no not that much, you know, political impetus to to to to engage more with India.


It is understood that India is an important country, but our resources are very limited and we are by necessity, we are forced to focus on Europe and trans-Atlantic relations.


So goodwill is on both sides, but it's not followed with so much political and economic activity.


And do you feel that there is on the Indian side, do you when you go there, do you see that there is a kind of an Indian momentum in policies that is not dependent on the party in power? Is there is there such a thing or it's sort of dramatically changes when the party in power changes?


No, I don't think that changes. And I think it's a good thing. I think that there are certain aspects of policy like security policy and foreign policy that, you know, talk to to do them to to them in a good way to really kind of reach your objectives.


It takes many years that are far it's a far longer period than the, you know, the the rule of one party.


So it's very important to to kind of have certain constant objectives. And I think this happens in Indian politics. Wherever you look at India's major foreign policy directions, be the United States. I mean, the UPA government worked a lot to, you know, establish better ties with the United States and the Vajpayee even earlier government into the nuclear deal was signed under UPA despite the communist opposition. So Modi is building on this.


I mean, it's not that his government is not the first primary council to say our government in India or maybe put it me, put it in a different way. They are not the first one to be very vocal in supporting India US partnership. That would be the right way to put it. Same Russia, I mean. More despite the weakening of international ties, in many ways, the Modi government clearly does not want to lose what it has left of India and Russia relations.


The BJP clearly considers this as also an important part of Indian foreign policy and the same what with pay, even things like Israel. You OK? For a long time, for decades, the socialist government did not want to recognize Israel.


But in the past two decades, UPA governments worked for for for enhanced cooperation with Israel, as did the BJP in Southeast Asia. There was look east under UPA government and there is under under Modi.


So I see a lot of continuity. That is. Yes, it is above political differences in India. There are of course important accents where where we find differences. But by and large I think there is continuity and I think it's a good thing.


OK, well we are almost out of time. I think it's been a great conversation. We we would love to have you again and talk to you in more detail about some other things that we did not get to. But before I finish, I had a tangential question.


This was a thought that I just remembered something I had talked to was talking to an older Indian gentleman a long time ago, and he said that the people you consider sort of customized and very old fashioned and even villainous in that way were more virtuous people than the people who are practical politicians today and making their calculations and doing whatever they need to do to win. And that sort of struck with me, stuck with me in another context also. But I was wondering, when you go and meet people from the opposition party, you know, whoever is left there, did you have that feeling where some of them actually virtuous people?


Now, I'm not sure. I mean, you know, that's not something I could confirm in my research. And also, I don't feel this is necessarily true.


I mean, but when it comes to my research, I can say that it's well, true.


Theoretically, Ramras, Japanese had the party still exists.


But you know that I'm interested in the period of 1960s, 1960s where they were active by 19 by half nineteen sixties, there were next to inactive. And there is a party by the name Ramrodding Parishad. And I was even warned by some people that I should even not even talk to them because they are just using the name of that party. And, you know, not that they are not even considered the same people.


So I don't I'm not intending to be in contact with them and the current members of that party.


So it's much more historical research. When I researched the RSS schools, that was a different thing. And then I talked to teachers and principals and they you know, I found people who view whoof whose views I was, you know, disagreeing.


But they were really always very kind to me. Yes.


But what I'm doing now is much more of our work. I know people who who who knew carpentry. I talked to people who who are, you know, who knew people who who are connected to that party. But I'm interested in the period when they were most active. That was 1960s. And so it's next to impossible to find a living person that was active at the time. And they haven't talked to such a person.


Right. Right. Well, thank you very much, Chris, for this wonderful conversation. We hope to have you again. And we'll talk maybe next time we'll start off with the RSS schools and you'll tell us more about them. But we'll say goodbye for now. Thank you. And Chris.


Tune in next week for Brown just.