Perhaps someone knows more Indian political history than I do

So, the Gandhis, very important in Indian politics. Congress Party is still pretty much the private fiefdom of the current two, Rahul and Priyanka. Certainly Rahul’s not VP of the party on skill and intelligence grounds.

How much of this depends upon the name, Gandhi?

And how much of that is the name, not the source?

For there’s no connection at all to Gandhi the freedom activist and Mahatma etc. Indira was the daughter of Nehru, and she married a bloke who just happened to be called Gandhi, no relation.

It’s entirely obvious that the Gandhi name is important. But how much of it is just the coincidence (or even Indira selecting the man for the name). Alternatively, how many Indians think there is a connection to Mahatma in the current generation?

Yes, obviously, the well informed will know. But what about that rural mass where they weigh, not count, the votes for Congress?

34 comments on “Perhaps someone knows more Indian political history than I do

  1. Unless you have some plan to ensure that present “War on Cash” POS is not only booted out but publicly hanged as a warning to poliscum the world over, who actually cares?

  2. Does anyone give a sh!t what the child-molesting pro-Nazi hypocrite said or did? Does his name have any power beyond a certain type of middle class White girl who in a previous era would have been a nun and so has to find her need for authoritarian religious direction in the East?

    Do Indian peasants care? They elect soap opera stars. It is possible that Indians continue to revere him even as the Congress in power does the exact opposite of what he wanted. But that might be a stretch even for Indians.

  3. IIRC, Indira’s husband’s surname was originally Ghandy, but got changed because Gandhi looks better politically. And no, they’re not pronounced the same way.

  4. “Yes, obviously, the well informed will know. But what about that rural mass where they weigh, not count, the votes for Congress?”

    It’s pretty well known, across all sections of society, regardless of the interest in politics.

    Lots of kids make the naive assumption that they’re related but most adults know the difference

    Even in the villages, they’ll watch a lot of TV/Bollywood films and it’s referenced quite often in these, in terms of a joke, how they’re not related, and people who think they are related at often the butt of the joke.

    The educational and social benefits of films!

  5. To be honest I didn’t know this until today (thanks Tim) but I have never paid any attention to India and never needed to, until perhaps the recent “war on cash”

  6. Proposition: usually centuries have to elapse before the population will be trusted with info about the less desirable characteristics of the heroes in their foundation myths. How many centuries depends on the character of the people and their historians.

    Examples:

    Scotland – my generation of primary school children was told that Bruce murdered a rival, and moreover did it in a church. I’d guess that this had been taught for centuries, but I might be wrong.

    USA – the Founding Fathers are still largely out of bounds for frank assessment, except that some mention has been made in the last generation about Jefferson’s black slave mistress and his black slave children by her. I would be surprised if this were commonly recounted in the primary schools.

    The French Republic: frank (ahem) accounts of the events of the revolution are still frowned upon. How long did it take Simon Schama to find a French publisher for his book Citizens? They’re not too frank about Napoleon either.

    China: Mao

    England: the English are generally reluctant even to accept that their country was effectively founded by William the Conq, though some historians treat it as axiomatic.

    Australia: there the boot is on the other foot. Its founders having been largely ordinary people just doing dogged things, leftish historians have been fabricating a more vivid, dramatic pseudo-history. But then things are often upside-down in Australia.

  7. England: the English are generally reluctant even to accept that their country was effectively founded by William the Conq,

    Really? Who are these people?

  8. Scotland – my generation of primary school children was told that Bruce murdered a rival, and moreover did it in a church.

    That’s no longer important (although it was in the very good Neil Oliver “History of Scotland.)

    All that matters is that he defeated the English, therefore would support dear Nicola if he was rude enough to interrupt her seances.

  9. It’s a decent bet that those with good knowledge of the UK and its constituent parts spend more time on conference calls than down the pub.

  10. dearieme said:
    “the English are generally reluctant even to accept that their country was effectively founded by William the Conq”

    Well, it’s in “1066 and all that”:
    “The Norman Conquest was a Good Thing, as from this time onwards England stopped being conquered and thus was able to become top nation”

  11. The party and the family would like people to believe there is a relationship. As previous commenters have said only the most naïve believe it.

    There is not all that much difference in pronunciation between the two names.

    Indira’s husband was a Parsi so had a Persian-origin first name. Consequently there are some conspiracy theories that he was actually a Muslim and the name was changed from Khan to Gandhi. These became quite common in the run up to the last general election when the current lot came to power.

    Despite the WoC, the current lot are a significant improvement on the previous government. The fact that the SJWs and fellow travellers don’t like them and are still quite vocal in there dislike probably should commend them somewhat to the readership of this blog!

  12. To be the first to try out the WoC –on behalf of the rest of the poliscum???–more than counterwinks any piddling good deeds they may have done.

  13. “as from this time onwards England stopped being conquered”

    But it had to exist to be conquered.

    Meanwhile, who created India?

  14. @Jack C

    “Meanwhile, who created India?”

    Quite.

    An brilliant experiment in nationhood; split a geography with a lot of shared language and culture into two (well, two and a half), one half of which is secular the other based on a particular religion.

    Sit back for a few decades and observe the results.

    Anyone got Erdogan’s email address?

  15. “split a geography with a lot of shared language and culture into two”

    Except that’s not really what happened.

    “India”, either post or pre partition didn’t have a lot of shared language and culture.

    It had a lot of languages. And a lot of culture. But not much of it was shared.

    An Indian from North Indian would be almost as much of a foreigner in South India as I would be. No shared language, cuisine, culture or possibly even “race” ( Dravidians vs Aryans ).

  16. An Indian from North Indian would be almost as much of a foreigner in South India as I would be. No shared language, cuisine, culture or possibly even “race” ( Dravidians vs Aryans ).

    Fascination how they all consider* themselves Indian though, isn’t it?

    * Or at least seem to from 5000 miles away.

  17. Been done Nautical Nick 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUWEjPXyqcU

    Australia: there the boot is on the other foot. Its founders having been largely ordinary people just doing dogged things, leftish historians have been fabricating a more vivid, dramatic pseudo-history.

    Unfortunately, dearieme, very true. I got accosted today by a Wilderness Society volunteer, and we had a wide ranging discussion while I finished my sushi. Touched on the Great Barrier Reef (no, it’s been there 700,000 years, it’s not going to disappear I said), water issues, oil drilling. It was the last the shocked me most. She mentioned the Gulf of Mexico, and I pointed out it had mysteriously recovered very quickly after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, just like Prince William Sound did after Exxon Valdez.

    Blank look. She had never heard of the Exxon Valdez, or the temporarily icky but short lived aftermath. Not even a faint bell ringing. History disappears so fast.

  18. “Fascination how they all consider* themselves Indian though, isn’t it?

    * Or at least seem to from 5000 miles away.”

    Indeed.

    But, taking a cue from your alias, in the way that someone from Caerleon might think people in Pill are povvy scum, and people in Newport might think Cardiffians are dicks, and how the South Walians might think the Gogs are weird, people from India all present themselves as Indian to non-Indians.

    Internally, there are plenty of divisions.

  19. @Darren,

    True, “India” pre-partition wasn’t one homogenous mass where people could easily move vast distances and feel at home culturally or even communicate in the same language but for the hundreds of miles around where the border was, they could.

    An Urdu speaker could communicate pretty well with a Hindi-speaker and, pre-partition, the Sikhs and Hindus in what became West Pakistan managed to communicate with the Muslims there well enough. An ethnic Marwari living in Maharashtra would likely be able to speak in three languages; Marwari, Marathi and Hindi/Urdu.

    About 12 million people travelled hundreds of miles to cross the new border; 6.5 million Muslims heading north, the remainder being mainly Hindus and Sikhs (there’d be Jains, Parsis, etc. in that number too) going the other way. These people were obviously all previously living for generations on the “other side”.

    That’s what I mean about share geography and language. Sure, a fisherman in Kerala would have struggled to get by in Lahore, but that’s not what typically happened.

    Back to my point about the experiment, one that cost an obscene number of lives but an experiment nonetheless; West Pakistan and India were created on the same day, with the same core legal system, infrastructure and administration. One became a religious state, the other secular.

    Today, Pakistan and India are very different places when you look at a whole range of measures; socially, economically, individual safety, corruption. Pakistan scores 38 ranks lower than India on the Transparency International corruption perceptions index.

    One is a holiday destination for families, the other for Jihadis.

  20. @TNA

    Completely take your point and I don’t disagree with what you’ve written, but I don’t think it’s quite as simple as you make out.

    You’ve got Pakistan, created specifically as a Muslim state due to the Muslim League.

    Then you’ve got India ( which was envisaged as a secular state, but has differing legal codes, depending on your religion, which I’m not entirely sure is compatible with secularism )

    Since partition, India has been fighting constant insurgencies from other parts of the country wanting independence ( Nagaland, Assam, the Sikhs and Golden Temple debacle, etc, etc ) and most notoriously, Kashmir.

    In effect, India has lots of ‘little Pakistans’ in and around it, as a direct result of the fact “India” was never really a thing – it was a construct of the Raj.

    So India is seen as a place for family holidays *if* you don’t visit enormous parts of the country. Even “safe” areas can have an enormous police/BSF presence. It’s the size of India that hides the large number of internal wars that are almost constantly going on.

    I guess my point – not very well made after a couple of beers – is that seeing it as India vs Pakistan over simplifies it. It’s more ( and I know this is a massive generalisation ) the Hindus vs everyone else.

    And now, in response to a resurgent Muslim “nationalism” over the past few decades ( Indian Kashmir was a pretty nice place before ’92 ) you’ve now got a resurgent Hindu nationalism.

  21. @darren,

    Yep, I agree that there are many parts of India I would visit today. I first started going in ’93 and have been wanting to visit Kashmir ever since.

    As a final generalisation to end all our generalisations, I’d suggest that a secular state (albeit not “that” secular) stands more chance of success.

    “Success” being a fairly subjective measure too, of course!

  22. @TNA

    Yes, I think we agree.

    I’ve been angling to visit Kashmir for 20-odd years. The Mrs is a Kashmiri Pandit, who used to live in Srinagar. Most of the family live in Jammu now, where I am allowed to go.

    She won’t let me go to Srinagar. “walking kidnap target” apparently.

  23. It might be an idea to sub-divide India further, if only to maintain a level playing field in Test Cricket.

    England have lost Test matches against 3 sub-divisions of India since September, and things will only get worse/better as prosperity increases.

  24. “India is no more a political personality than Europe. India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the Equator”

    Winston Churchill

  25. “You’ve got Pakistan, created specifically as a Muslim state due to the Muslim League.” Only the other day I read somewhere on the web (perhaps in comments at Mr Newman?) that the man who made Pakistan was Nehru, who said that any agreement made with Jinnah could be torn up once independence was achieved. (I paraphrase.)

  26. @dearieme

    Well, by all accounts Partition could have, possibly, been avoided if Nehru had been a bit more flexible in demands for a federal India ( i.e, still a Muslim ‘homeland’ but as part of a federal Indian ), but Nehru wouldn’t have it – he wanted a centrally controlled India.

    The Muslim League had been agitating for a two state solution for some years by this point, and since the three leaders ( Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru ) were lawyers, comfortably having esoteric arguments with each other but entirely missing out the fact that their words and actions were being interpreted violently through India, the only course of action left open was Partition – otherwise you’d have ended up with even more communal violence and civil war.

    So, Jinnah and his Direct Action were much to blame, but Nehru’s intransigence also had a large impact.

  27. That first paragraph was clear as mud, sorry.

    If Nehru has been more accommodating or flexible with regards to Jinnah’s demands for a federal India.

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