The Brown Pandit's Brown Jazz Orchestra, along with Omar and Mukunda, and this is the Brown Pundit's podcast today we have a very special guest, Ruchir Sharma, and this isn't the one from, I think, JP Morgan or Morgan Stanley. This is a different one. And I think he has even more interesting perspectives. But I'll let him introduce himself to you guys. So, Routier, you have the floor now.
Well, thanks so much for inviting me here today and very happy to be here to join all of you on the brand pundit's podcast. And yeah, first, yeah, I'm glad you brought him up. We'll get that out of the way. So not to be confused with the other Richard Sharma from Morgan Stanley, even though he and I have very similar interests, very similar career paths, very similar looks.
I have one point where I'm very different to him is a neo liberal, very embedded in the establishment view of many countries, particularly his homeland, where as I take more of an unorthodox view.
So to tell you a bit about myself, I studied history, Marxist history at that which is the only kind of history that's acceptable at the University of Delhi, and I equipped myself with the tools of Marxist historiography. During my time there, I looked up to people like Romila Topper and Irfan Habib, an Irish Ahmadinejad, as you know, the leading lights of eminent historians in India. And then I went on to do two more masters and in history, focusing on the Cold War, focusing on terrorism and counterterrorism, and then have pursued a career in public policy where I've worked in police reform, defence, anti-corruption, climate change.
And I've also advised political parties on campaigns and communications.
So you said you have a background in Marxist history and I guess Marxist analysis. Now, when when I read your stuff, it's very methodical and I could definitely see that, like Slint or that that type of lens that you're bringing, the kind of like red lens, I would say. But you reach really different conclusions than I've seen in the normal, you know, Marxist analysis it takes, especially when it comes to India and, you know, Hindu Modi and like, I guess the subaltern.
Can you kind of expand upon how that happened or it kind of that evolution?
So, you know, the way I see Marxist theory and the historiography is that Das Kapital or Marxist historians and the books, you know, these are not holy books. These are not prophets. You know, they're not infallible. And instead of being slavishly devoted to the ideals in in their works or the idealization of certain personalities from history, what we should be doing is using the tools of historical analysis to understand not just the past, but the present.
And then when you apply these tools to what I call the Indian Marxist historians and Indian communist or Marxist politicians, you find out that are fraudulent.
They love telling us that, oh, you know, the Holy Roman Empire was not holy, not Roman, nor an empire. They like telling us that 1857, what's called the first war of Indian independence, was not the first. It was not a war. It was not Indian, and it was not for independence. Similarly, Indian Marxist historians are not Indian, not Marxist and not historians. Effectively, they created mafia within Indian academia and were funded so by the CPA and Congress, so they were generally members of political parties, not historians, but propagandists.
The political parties they were patronised by were funded by either the KPCB, the Communist Party of Great Britain in the 40s and 50s or so under Regini, my dad, and then directly from the Soviet Union. And both the Congress and the FBI were funded in this way.
And they in the 60s, after the sidelining of the Indian nationalist historians such as Arthur C. Mazumdar Nilgun, who played a huge role in the national awakening of Indigenous self-respect and an acknowledgement of Indian political, cultural, military, naval achievements in the ancient and medieval period.
They found themselves sidelined in the Narrabeen period and after a disastrous, mysterious death in Tashkent and Indira Gandhi becoming prime minister, there was a deal that was cut between the CPA and the Congress to cooperate with each other.
And as part of this deal, many S.P.I members in academia were placed into very sensitive positions that have molded the way history is taught bia's in schools and universities, in the civil service exams. And this is what I've used Marxist historical analysis to dismantle. So I use their own tools against them to see what motivated them and where they found certain predetermined conclusions they were coming to.
So, Richard, I mean, I just want to do a little bit of pushback here, so I came from a similar background as you. I you know, in college I was a very strong, dialectical materialism. Right. That's kind of what you study in criminology. That's the background in political science. So I spent a lot of time delving into the Marxist critique of, you know, not only an economy, but crimes and gender relations and all deviants and all that stuff.
So when I went to India, I spent a year in India in 2000 where actually met Danja. And a few of these, you know, historians, quote unquote. And I spent time with the I was doing a research project on the BJP at the time. One of the things that struck me is so and this goes back to even someone like Arashiyama, right?
Like, you know, a Chamas kind of history was very much about one versus the other. Constant struggle between two forces, just like any dialectic. Right.
So do you not see that aspect of their storytelling to have some level legitimacy, or do you think the entire thing tends to be a like a like a a fraudulent narrative? Because we see it play out even today, even though we love to say the leftists are destroying the country? There clearly are power dynamics playing across the board, and usually it is stemming from things related to power and wealth. Yes.
So I don't think the tools that are used are bad in themselves. In fact, they're quite valid even today. Now, the real issue is the way these tools were used was a form of very cynical manipulation, that these weren't honest operators who were looking to illuminate historical truths about our past, but rather they were misusing these tools to reach predetermined conclusions that were designed for political ends in contemporary times.
So they wanted to create a new narrative for a new independent India that would make it a easier for the progressive front, as they like to call the cynical alliance between the Congress and S.P.I, make it easier for them to to rule the unruly nations, but also help people overcome their false consciousness and create the conditions that would make it ripe for a proletarian revolution or at least a party as the vanguard of the proletariat.
So can you give you an example of what you find to be something in history that they've kind of convoluted or twisted to fit their narrative? And that probably doesn't play out the actual record.
So there's there's many. So one of the prime examples is that they like to say that we can't trust the official court chroniclers of the sultanate and Mughal eras when they say that, oh, Akbar was a big Ghazi Badshah, he slaughtered this many infidels. He sacked this temple or that allowed being enslaved this many affairs and then sold them in the slave markets of Keeva.
So the Marxist school of historians in in India like to say that, oh, this was all exaggeration because these chroniclers were embedded in the court and they had to say this.
They had to exaggerate and lie in order to make the emperor look very pious in the eyes of the clerics, in the eyes of the ulema.
Now, there's two problems with that. One, what does it say about the culture of the sultan of the Mughal era that enslaving people and killing them is supposed to make you look pious and make you very popular? To the extent that people would flatter you by saying, oh, wow, you killed so many people, you enslave so many people.
And too, if we go by this logic that historians and chroniclers who are close to the ruling class can't be trusted because they embellish and exaggerate in order to make their patrons happy, then we can very easily apply that to the Indian Marxist historical school because they were patronised by the state.
They did have very close relationships with the elite. With the party, and it's reflected in their narratives, which are all designed to further the ease of administration and the of certain parties within the Indian political system and create a new national narrative for post independent India.
So, I mean, sorry. And then you guys could jump in after. I just I'm just a slight more push back here. Right, because we see the same the same kind of historical analysis done to, for example, Buddhist texts and Gentex, where Buddhists will Buddhist in Janesville claim, you know, the Hindu kings or certain communities destroyed their religion, killed thousands of people. You know, the Jains claim, you know, twelve thousand Jains were impaled by a strike by King in Tamil Nadu, you know, in like the 10th century or 11th century.
But a lot of historians come back and say very similar things, that these are exaggerations. These you know, the Indian texts tend to be full of hyperbole and exaggerations about the the great, you know, actions either heinous or Vallauris, for example, taking over the entire Earth Sombra kind of stories that you hear on descriptions of many kings. So how is that any different to what is done by the Marxist?
Oh, it's it's not different, but that's the issue. So in order to be consistent, you have to apply the same standard on the historians of today that they apply on the historians of the past, on the chroniclers of the past. So either you say that, no, only the lived experience of people at the time is valid or you say that all historians are compromised by their closeness to the levers of power and thus you must deconstruct them. So if we go with the first, then it means that modern day historians are taking liberties with the truth.
If we go with the second, it means that we have to analyse why these historians feel the need to embellish over and gloss over inconvenient parts of history.
I would I just had a couple of comments. This is Omar Island. I think criticism of those historians who are creating kind of a feel good history for India, which, you know, they're motivated by whatever political reasons are sometimes by very sincere sort of feeling of, oh, if we tell them this, it will cause a riot. And if we tell them the other thing, which I just made up, it'll make them feel much nicer to each other.
It doesn't work that way. I don't think so in real life, but that the sincere element may even be there. But I had a different question. You I've seen a couple of your articles and you use a lot of what I would call SJW terminology, right. It's always decolonization. The Samaritan is going to speak. You are using their tools against them by sort of using all these terms and ways of bringing someone down. But is that a good idea?
If you don't, do you philosophically accept that or do you just do that as a way to sort of undermine their narrative or to use this, as you said, their tools against them? But do you like the tools in the first place?
Well, absolutely. I love the tools. The tools, like I said, remain valid. And the question is how you use them. But from a purist Marxist perspective, Indian Marxists are not Marxist. They are conservative bourgeois reactionaries. They are basically sellouts who compromise their principles to cooperate with a state that they patronise them now. In that case, you know, most traditional Marxists would call these people revisionists, which is, you know, the most horrifying slander that exists on the left.
And I see it as essential to break this down because there are many indigenous or, you know, Indian traditions of socialism that have arisen from the grassroots, which are much more suited to our politics and culture. But they've been crowded out by certain traditions, certain politicians who are enamored of external models and want to apply them here. But they're not very good at applying them. They're not very good at understanding them.
And they've damaged the cause of progressive and proper policies as a result.
So it's important to break those shackles first, to break this neo feudal Peruvian state and its cultural and academic assets in order to create the freedom for Indian political movements to gain a life of their own. And that could be, you know, of any hue. It could be the Sarvodaya model of of Gandhian socialism. It can be in the early until the rise of the last person Sarvodaya, meaning the rise of everyone.
It can be Ramano. Hillary has form of Indian socialism. It can be a hard core Hindutva. There's a range of political ideologies that have sprung up from Indian society and culture, and it's important to get rid of the weeds so that these flowers can blossom.
So I think both you guys, this is a great Segway. Great points. I want to comment a bit on this, though. There was an article I didn't read. I just read the title and I already knew was true. It was Wokingham has won something along those lines, I think Sara Heider publish it. And again, I didn't read the article. I just saw the title. And I would just like to you know, if you're young or if you're a millennial or if you're in GenZE and you talk to your friends or people talk about politics, it's always about oppressor, oppressed complexes.
Generally, pretty much always honestly like vulcanism as long that's it to me, that's a real finality, at least at this point you might as well get with the times. You know, you might as well play with that tech, play with A, B, B on that battlefield and wake up to the reality. And I don't mean like crazy, like, you know, and I might get flak for this, but like gender fluid stuff or just way out there stuff.
I think on a basic level, this oppressor oppressed narrative, it's very it's very widespread across the world. Maybe that's because the left. Sorry, no, I was just going to say it's widespread, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea, though I think there should be some pushback. I think the oppressed oppressor, this whole framework is very widespread, partly because it is very superficially attractive. It makes, you know, it thrills all of us.
But it's it's a dangerous thing to get too thrilled by it because you can become very unfair and sort of irrational or incorrect in your assumptions about who is the oppressor, who is oppressed. Everybody wants to be whatever is the fashionable, you know, good thing to be. And these days it's to be oppressed is somehow, you know, puts you higher on the moral plain than the people who are oppressors. I don't think it works necessarily well at all.
I think that a lot of the people going around saying those things are objectively in the oppressor class themselves. And there is sort of a I don't like the exercise at all. But anyway, let's ask our guest what he thinks is the. Economic sort of foundation that will be best for India. Are you a Marxist? Do you feel that the state should have control of capital? What is the what is your economic view of how India will become a better place to be?
All right. Well, before I go on to that, I'd love to touch upon something you mentioned earlier. And that's, you know, workers and especially what? Especially performative weakness, there's a lot of virtue signalling by individuals, by parties, by activists who feel the need to say the right things in order to win brownie points among certain sections of the population.
Quite frankly, that is a distraction. No, no one in a country like India especially votes on the basis of feel good social policies.
This is a country with problems of inequality, problems of poverty. They vote for material progress. And brokenness is a distraction from that. When you have a country with. The kind of challenges that India faces, this is just, you know, what one would call a bourgeois appropriation by a wealthy elite who want to make it all about themselves. Of a proletarian working class cause, and it distracts people from actual policies that could help lift them out of poverty, and that's what we're seeing now.
You know, to answer your question, that in terms of the economic models that India can adopt in the future, that a lot of the policies that the Modi government has enacted over the last six years are essentially socialist in nature.
There's a lot of proper focus in terms of empowering people with electricity, with water, with cooking gas, with actual material progress. And this is the real motivator.
This is a tangible Markov of state services reaching people and much more so than any social, you know, progressive policies that some parties pretend to believe in but do nothing about.
So what we have now is what Yogi Adeptness called during the campaign last year, Modiin Socialism, which is something that comes back to the foundational ideology of the BJP, that essentially there is no right wing, especially economically, in India. Every party is some degree of socialist, Democratic, socialist, social Democrat or communist, and the BJP believes in integral humanism and Gandhian socialism. They see themselves not as the successor to the Jang Song or the Hindu Maha Subha or the sort untradeable party.
But as the successors du jour procrastinations some poor, grunty, total revolution and the junta party experiment, which was an anti-establishment left wing revolt attempt at the revolution against a very feudal and elitist Congress regime under Indira Gandhi.
So there's many countries that have adopted their own indigenous forms of socialism, especially in Latin America, Africa and even Southeast Asia.
So I don't see why not. You know, we should see the same development within India that it's not feasible to try and resurrect the Soviet Union or East Germany or even the People's Republic of China and India.
We have our own political, social, economic context. So anyone who thinks that they can build a 70 style communist state is delusional.
What do you think is the future of, like an Indian Marxist or even maybe like the maybe not the left or the center left like Congress? Do you think they have any future in terms of implementing maybe some of these more hardcore Marxist ideas? Or are we seeing like an overall rightward shift now? I know we recently had these agricultural bill as a wave of privatization and possibly more future things like labor reforms, which are more free market libertarian type ideas.
I know there's a class of journalists that, you know, very big for these libertarian reforms. I think we're going to get all of them just because, you know, India is kind of like a socialist state. Lloyd is by constitution, but also the people, they do like part of these socialist reforms. But do you think these left Indian parties, do they have any sort of future moving left, staying where they are, or are they going to start moving?
Right. All right.
Let's look at it from the full spectrum, the left front CPI, CPM, Revolutionary Socialist Party, all India forward bloc. These parties are dying. They're top-heavy, geriatric, they've bled out voters. They've bled out their own grassroots cadre. And they have a leadership that is used to having a lot of pull in the media and with the government in Delhi. And they haven't really adapted well to losing that influence, nor have they kept their finger on the pulse of voters.
So these parties are dying and you can see that in terms of what's happening to the left front voters, especially in West Bengal.
So at the last elections last summer in constituencies where the BJP did not have enough grassroots workers, they were party members, party cadre of the CPM who were going door to door and telling people to vote for the BJP and they adopted a slogan from Fear. So first a vote for them, then you can vote for the left.
And it's very easy for voters to switch from the left front to the BJP because there are certain fundamental ideological similarities that the left front and the BJP share, and much of it is related to voter is not really the left front. Voters don't love Marks. They don't love Mao, they don't love Lenin or Stalin or Tyvaso. What they hate is the Congress. They voted for the left front because it was the party, the coalition, that had the greatest chance of eliminating the Congress from their state.
So they did. But once it lost that ability, once it shot itself in the foot by allying with the Congress and the UPA, once people like distancing Surjeet or Prakash Garito, etc, etc., he said, our responsibility is to work with anti BJP forces and secular forces to keep these communal forces out of power that was alienating to the grassroots. So those parties are on their last legs, their voters moving to other parties very often the BJP.
Then you have the so-called center leftists of the Congress. I don't consider them to be center left. They are essentially conservatives. They want to go back to this past that their nostalgic about the 50s and 60s when they had single party rule, when they're wealthy, well-connected, English educated elites ran the country through not just the bureaucracy, judiciary and diplomacy, but also through the the Congress party.
So they are much more conservative than we think. And they don't actually believe in left wing socialist policies or center left social democratic policies. They believe whatever it's convenient to believe at any given time, it's their electoral strategy is try to get as many seats as you can and then we'll try to form a coalition afterwards. And then the coalition will get together and decide on what actual policies we do agree on.
And then you have parties that call themselves socialist, like the Samajwadi Party. They're not socialist at all.
You have parties that call themselves secular, like the Mmm. Of the oases, which are not secular at all. They are very much.
Parochial and focused on a certain religion, and there is indeed a rightward shift, the Overton Window in India has shifted to the extent that the question is not necessarily, oh, what policies they'll, you know, want to implement, but which policies they'll be able to implement in the post Modi polity, there will be a complete change in the kind of issues and policies that are acceptable to the public and the media and by extension, to parties.
What do you what do you mean? Like what are you some type of examples you could give in terms of that? I definitely see a rightward shift, but what do you think are some, like, actionable things that we'll see in the future, maybe like 10, 15 years, whatever?
So essentially, a lot of the old system needs to be dismantled and there'll be a lot of crying about that. Oh, no, you can't dismantle this. This is neo liberal reform or this is removing workers protections. But quite frankly, the kind of workers protections, the kind of regulatory setups that were established during the Peruvian period are not actually functioning for the welfare of the working class of farmers or factory workers. Essentially, it's a form of formalized rent seeking, which created a feudal structure where political functionaries control the lives and economic uplift of many, many millions, hundreds of millions of poor Indians.
And in order to create something new, that has to be a process of creative destruction.
So there will be reforms.
It's too much to expect the kind of Reaganite Thatcherite reforms that some people salivate over that they thought back in 2014. And this includes my namesake at Morgan Stanley that all is coming. He's going to be this wonderful slasher of red tape. He's going to be India's stature, India's Reagan. He's going to do these Big Bang reforms like Yeltsin did in Russia. Well, Yeltsin did that in Russia and it was a complete disaster because it was done badly. So it's better to slowly shift, as he's done over the last six years, towards creating an environment where you've provided people at the from the bottom up the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and then dismantle the shackles that keep them in poverty.
And then with that, you'll see demands for a new form of economic organization. And then there's many parts that one can take. You can see what China and Vietnam did, that they have a very strong public sector, a highly competitive one that goes for, you know, face to face and competes well with the private sector and with international companies. You can go with the kind of transition, hopefully without the shock therapy, as it's called, that Central and Eastern Europe had in the 90s.
Or you could end up like Latin America being a new form of colony useful to other countries as a source of cheap labor and raw materials and as a market for finished goods.
So I want to kind of take back a little bit, we touched on decolonization a little bit, and I want to go back into that now. I want to also recognize Omar's point, this oppressor, oppressed complex and definitely be destructive like we see it right now in America. We see it in India when it's taken to a crazy extreme or there's a new evolution, you know, there will be Hindus, Muslims next day. It's going to be problems.
We're dullards. Next day, it's going to be some random landed caste versus another landed caste system. It's like a we'll fire one person's on top one day, the next day or another. Sometimes it stays stuck for a while. But I think that we need to be cognizant of this. But there is also this aspect of decolonization that we see with Hindutva today, this type of creative destruction or this destruction that turns into creation. Can you kind of touch upon that aspect?
Like, what do you mean? But I've seen in your articles a few times how like India to a kind of colonizes certain sections of India or intelligentsia. Sure, so the decolonisation in the Indian context, it doesn't really have that much to do with, you know, woak discourse in the U.S. or in the West in general, but rather decolonization is a process that started in 1947 with our independence but was never finished. And that's an issue that we think that history ended in 1947.
Colonialism ended then. But it didn't it didn't for many countries, so many countries that were colonies and then gained their independence initially. So not a full independence, but a power transfer of power transferred to local Western educated elites who took over the same reins of statecraft, the same police, the same bureaucracy, the same army, the same judicial system, suddenly just found itself under new management. And then they tinkered with it a bit and tried to make it a bit more sensitive.
They tried to put a human face on it. They added some socialism and some central planning.
But at the end of the day, the Indian state continues in the same structures that it was during colonial times.
The police, bureaucracy, judiciary are not designed to deliver rights or justice to an empowered set of citizens. It still sees people as native subjects who are very unruly, who can't be trusted with the truth, who can't be trusted with their own destinies, who have to be shepherded by shepherded and who have who need order to be imposed on them. That the maintenance of harmony and order is seen as more important than the delivery of justice, the delivery of rights, the delivery of better outcomes and upliftment.
And so when we talk about decolonization in the Indian context, it's about the decolonisation of these institutions that our institutions need to reflect the values of the people, not the other way around. The Constitution is not a holy book. And Gandhi and everyone Ambedkar, not its prophets. The Constitution is made to be amended.
It has been amended many times. And it should be that with time as more and more of the masses gain their political voice, they see that the state is in active contradiction with their values, that it sees itself as having the responsibility to civilize the natives. And that's problematic because it it infringes on a lot of people's aspirations and a lot of their values.
Now, other countries in the post-colonial world attempted after a generation or so of their initial independence, this sort of restructuring of the state, they used various models for it. So you had African socialism, you had Ujamaa, you had how? In Sri Lanka they adopted a completely new constitution in 1978 that switch to a semi presidential system.
And in India, we had an attempt at decolonization of the institutions. And that was in the mid 70s where you had the Neriman Andolan, the Renaissance movement in Gujarat, led by Meraj You This I and the Son Born Grunty, our total revolution movement in Bihar led by deprecation. Right now, these were born out of a sense of frustration among the first post generation post independence generation. It was thirty years after independence. Many people were saying, oh, what did we gain by independence?
This is a false independence. Did it make our lives better? No. All it did was create a new class of brown Englishmen who still lord over us, who still don't see us as equals.
And what we need to do is create a brand new state of brand new polity that is built in our image and not in the image of our Western masters. That's essentially what it comes down to. You mentioned the progress, and so the first time I heard about him was in a podcast by Eric Wineskin and it was called The Portal, and he talked about how this guy was a revolutionary and he was so pivotal in India's history but isn't recognized that much.
I don't know that much. I don't know anything about him, actually. I just know he went against Indira Gandhi. Can you talk about who this guy is, who is Pakistani and why is it so important to Indian history and even the BJP? I think you mentioned earlier, too.
Sure. So there are many figures like Zappacosta Ryan who have been erased from our history books as well as our national consciousness.
Many of them were erased because they challenged the supremacy of the Congress during Nehru and in drag on these rain.
So all of these deprecation, Ryan was one of the preeminent thinkers and and leaders. And unlike many of our other independence movement and post independence leaders, he was not educated in the U.K. He did not come from a family of great wealth.
In fact, he studied in the U.S. where he had to work odd jobs, including as a as a mechanic in a slaughter house while he studied and then built his own form of Indian socialism and sought to foster an opposition to the more sabien socialism of Naruse early days and then the more Soviet style or know half baked copy of Soviet style economic policies that he adopted later on in his rule. So this effort was supported by a few other strands. So there are a bunch of parties that no longer exist.
What they used to be the Congress Socialists. So the left wing within the Congress had their own faction. There used to be the Socialist Party and some Socialist Party. George Fernandez, the trade unionist, was a big leader there.
You had many people with within the Congress who then during the split between Indras and Morag picked sides.
And in the 70s, this came to a boil that people wanted change. The time was finally ripe for this sort of change. You had this post generation opposed to independence generation who were no longer enamored of people simply because these leaders delivered independence.
And so you saw in nineteen seventy five these two big movements that sought to create a whole political, social, economic, moral revolution and reawakening in India. And they were non-violent. They were done invoking the spirit of Gandhi. They were done to challenge what was seen as a very corrupt and authoritarian Congress party. And it was with this background that the emergency was was imposed by Indira Gandhi, that Raj Nahyan, who was a close associate of Zappacosta and challenged Indira Gandhi is election and the Supreme Court, or was it the Alawa Court file of found that she had illegally used state machinery to help her in the election?
And in response to this, she declared emergency because of internal and external threats and deprecation. Orion was jailed. George Fernandez was jailed. Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the Jang Song, as it was then known, was jailed. Even the CPM leaders at the time there were still young, jittery and Karith were jailed.
And after after the emergency ended in 1977, you saw this broad tent of anti-establishment parties who saw the Congress and saw in drag on this as a conservative authoritarian and sought to outflank her on the left, both socially and economically. And that was this coalition of these socialists of the lowest George Fernandez supporters deprecation.
Orion's movement, R.G., they say, as well as the leaders who we now associate with the BJP, but within part of the Jang, like LJ Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. And they created the junta alliance and then the junta party that comprehensively defeated Indira Gandhi Congress at the 1977 elections and stayed in power for three years, during which time they tried to dismantle a lot of these colonial era institutions. They tried to blacklist a lot of these compromise historians.
They were trying to create a new form of of politics and policy, but they fell in 1980. Indira Gandhi responded to them by. Portraying herself as the voice of stability made Congress, oh, you know, we're going to provide strong, stable government, not like this chaotic coalition, and came back with a resounding victory as a conservative authoritarian in the 80s.
And they took great pains to erase any legacy of those three years, which are now called the junta party experiment, the the commissions that were launched into abuses by state machinery during the emergency.
They track down copies and burnt them. They ended the blacklisting of certain historians and certain bureaucrats. They wiped the national memory of any of the leaders who were part of this.
And it was it was part of this churning in 1980 that the BJP was born.
And if you watch Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his first speech of the foundation of the BJP, he doesn't call the BJP a right wing Hindu nationalist party. They never have the invokes deprecation our own and says the junta party may have been broken, but they wouldn't let us know Ryan's dream die with it.
They saw themselves as the successor to this anti-establishment center left movement against the Congress.
And that was the formative period for many generations of BJP leadership, the ones that we have come to be familiar with in modern times. So it's interesting how ideology's kind of evolve and left and right switches almost every decade sometimes it seems in India, but I kind of want to touch upon Marxism today in India. I think it's very I think it's a very vibrant even though I'm not I mean, I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of it, but I think it's very vibrant today.
There's it definitely has a lot of captured space and it has energy that can put people on the ground. They could make things happen. I think sometimes they're in nefarious things and sometimes things are internationally influenced. Can you kind of touch upon what you know, how how this whole nexus has kind of come today? Like what is Marxism in India today? How is it still so relevant, even though it's political parties are kind of, you know, doing bad politically, but they could start something up within a few days.
They could organize a protest cum riot, you know, real quick. They have all these influences, media, academia. There's still so relevant today, even though they're weak politically. Why do you think that is? All right.
Well, first of all, I would argue there aren't any Marxists in India. There's only revisionists. So there's Maoists, there's Naxalites, there's their intellectual patrons in academia and the media, and there's basically foreign agents.
So none of these are actual Marxists. None of them actually believe in or have any sort of path to creating the kind of revolutionary Marxist state that one associates with communist parties in other countries. Nor do I see any attempts at real social democracy or democratic socialism. What instead you have is a series of disruptive forces.
So they are essentially trying to create collapse in the current government because they have no influence within it and they're used to having influence within it. And they have traditionally found support and patronage and funding from certain countries abroad and continue to do so.
They still look for approval to these countries and find themselves in an incentive structure that rewards obstructionism, that rewards being useful idiots for regime change and allows them to go back to the good old days where they had a say in policymaking and in academia and in journalism. Is there? I think we're kind of closing out now, but I want to kind of leave with a few last questions if Obama has any.
As someone who has talked a lot about decolonizing the Indian mind, sort of what what in your view is a good summary or is there a good summary of what Indian history would look like if it was decolonized? Who is the writer or who is an object in the book? Something out there that you approve of? Yeah, absolutely.
People think that the decolonization of our textbooks or of our academia is some sort of saffron ization or historical revisionism. Nothing could be further from the truth. What happened from the 60s onwards was manipulation and revisionism.
The Decolonize history was already written during the last few decades of the colonial period and the first few decades of independence that we had a large array of excellent historians in the first half of the 20th century who studied primary sources, who created a narrative that showed that India was not just a country of savagery that needed to be civilized by successive waves of invaders and colonizers, that there were great political cultural.
Military and naval achievements that Indian kingdoms achieved, that the history of India is not just the history of Delhi, that you have the Drollas and in the South you have the ahome dynasty. In Assam, you have a vagina tiger. You have a wide range of fascinating histories that show that we are not a passive culture that simply receives foreigners and then absorbs them. But a vibrant civilization that has its own political philosophies has its own indigenous forms of statecraft and polity.
For example, Mahajan, but then in ancient India were early republics or noble republics. Instead of learning about that, we, you know, still look at. Oh yeah, the Greeks invented democracy. The Romans had ascended, the French Revolution did this, the American Revolution did that.
But if we keep looking at ourselves through a Western lens, of course, we'll end up feeling deficient. Of course, we'll end up looking like we're always coming short. And the Cambridge historian eyeshadows, as I recall from the University of Cambridge, she has written a book about the so-called after defeat. And it's about how many countries after experience, after experiencing historical trauma, internalize feelings of shame that, oh, you know, I'm aware not Western enough.
We're not secular enough. We're not modern enough. And that's why we fail. That's why we're not a strong power. That's why we're inferior. That's why we have to try harder to gain the acceptance of the colonial master or the international community. And that applies to countries like Japan. It applies to countries like Turkey. It applies to countries like Russia. It applies to countries like India, which may not have been defeated persay in 1947 when they got independence.
But it was a Pyrrhic victory. It was independence was gained as a great, great cost as, of course, that traumatized the nation for generations to come.
I do have a question on, I guess, what international models or figures do kind of inspire or inspire you if they're related to India or if they're completely different in India. I know you're a fan of Thomas. I know you're from St. Thomas Sankara and the other ones that really, I guess, provides like a format for your type of thinking or that you admire. Sure.
So that's Thomas Sankara and in Burkina Faso, who attempted a very radical form of decolonization. He was a real icon, even though he was only in power for a few years before being assassinated.
And a lot of his reforms are the kind of reforms that one sees from the current administration in India, empowering women, standing up to outdated international norms and structures that are designed to keep certain countries rich and powerful and other countries weak and chaotic.
So that's one another who is is quite beloved in India for the Non-Aligned Movement is Joseph Broz Tito. Tito was a fascinating character who drove out the Nazis from Yugoslavia and then created a vibrant, stable, multiethnic, multireligious, multi linguistic federative republic and created Bottom-Up reforms that lifted people out of poverty, out of really devastation after a war that these countries lost a huge number of their of their citizens in the war.
They lost a lot of their cities and factories and rebuilt one of the most prosperous countries in Europe at the time, definitely the most prosperous country and in Eastern Europe at the time, and did not harbor any form of separatism and subnational or religious separatism.
Now, that's something that we failed to do contemporaneously, despite Nehru claiming to be very close to Tito.
And that's a form of left wing nationalism that worked quite well. For them and. In the future, what we're going to see is more left wing nationalist movement within India. We're going to see more of a shift to the right.
So basically, even our left wingers will need to act more nationalist or you will have a few try the other extreme. So you'll see maybe 80 percent of the Indian left are going to shift towards the right and adopt the kind of rhetoric that works well with the current Overton Window, with the current voting populace.
But maybe 20 percent of them are going to become full out Naxos and Maoists and separatists. And that's something that won't be very politically popular, but it will give them a lot of nuisance value. And that's something that should be nipped in the bud. And economically, we will also see more of a shift away from 60s, 70s socialism to a more of a social market economy that there's many countries that have capitalist societies with a strong welfare net.
But even Marxist theory says you have to go from feudalism to capitalism and then to communism. Trying to build full communism on a feudal base is something that will collapse from its own internal contradictions. So it is important that people are lifted out of poverty, that you remove the feudal elements of the Peruvian state. And then what happens next is in the hands of the voters. They'll decide whether they want left wing nationalism or Right-Wing Socialism or some form of hybrid indigenous political philosophy.
This has been a pretty fascinating conversation. You have any other questions or I think we can close it out now. I think we'll be good. All right. Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. I also want to thank you, everyone. Yeah, thanks for sharing it with great talking.
Likewise. Thanks so much, all three of you.
All right. See you guys. Tune in next week for.