- Art Review: ‘Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi’ at Asia Society (nytimes.com)
- Without Comment – How The State Creates Propaganda (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- A sinister conspiracy (nation.com.pk)
- BAILOUTS, BRIBES AND INSIDER TRADING: Here’s What The World’s Leading Business Looked Like 300 Years Ago (businessinsider.com)
- Indian Bania On British Raj Economics (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Indian Independence – Prison Logistics (2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Indian History – Blind At Birth? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Beware the Vengeance of the Afghans (lewrockwell.com)
Ramesses-II goes to war
1301 BC. An Egyptian land army, numbering more than 20,000, (divided in 4 divisions), set out on a campaign, lead by Pharoah Ramesses-II of the XIX Dynasty.
Ramesses-II, lived for more than 90 years, was probably the Pharaoh at the time of Exodus of Hebrews under Moses.
Ramesses-II is known in history for the construction during his reign. Most notably, the Temple Of Abu Simbel, Temple Of Nefertari. How would Abu Simbel read in Sanskrit – ‘abu’ is elephant, ‘simba’ is sinh i.e. lion and ‘bal’ is strength.
Cause of War Of Kadesh
Of the two warring sides, one was the Egyptian Pharoah RamessesII (1279-1212 BCE). With a land army of 20,000, and a naval Egyptian force set sail, in ships, to reach Byblos and squeeze the Hittites in the world’s first pincer movement. Ramesses-II set out to punish a small kingdom. Of Hittites, for trying to lure the Amurrus, Egyptian vassals, to the Hittite side.
A lesser known (to modern history) element, were the Hittites led by Muwutalli-II, who had cobbled an alliance of small kingdoms.
Both these kingdoms were interested in the Syria and Palestine areas through which trade was carried out with India. Syriac and Palestinian lands were controlled by the Amurru – who were Egyptian vassals. The Hittites were a liberalising element in the Middle East /West Asia and possibly the Amurrus had defected to protect their political identity.
During the march, leading to the Kadesh battle, the Egyptian army captured two Bedouin “spies”. These “spies”, after being sufficiently beaten, “revealed” to the Pharoah important information – giving confidence to the Pharoah that the Hittites feared the approaching Egyptian army. The truth was the opposite.
The Greatest Chariot Battle In History
What followed was a historic chariot battle.
The awaiting Hittites ambushed the Egyptian army. These spies, in fact, were Hittites – sent to misinform the Egyptians!! An estimated 2500 Hittite (Ramesses’ estimate) chariots saw action. For two days the battle of Kadesh raged. Fought on the banks of the Orontes River in Syria.
The Egyptian king was saved at the last minute by the appearance of his reserve troops.
The Historic Treaty
After this battle, the Egyptians and the Hittites sat down and wrote their versions of this battle – which makes it rather unique. One of the few times in ancient history, where we get both versions of the battle. Two copies of the treaty were made. One, in Egyptian hieroglyphics and the other, in Hittite-Akaddian, and both survived. Only one difference in both the copies – the Egyptian version (recorded on a silver plaque) states that the Hittite king who wanted peace. In the Hittite copy, it was Ramesses-II who sent emissaries.
The two queens – critical factor
Peace broke when the queens of Hatti and Egypt, Puduhepa and Nefertari, sent one another congratulatory gifts and letters. Over the next 15 years, they arrived at modus vivendi and drafted a peace treaty. Puduhepa continued to be an active diplomat, co-signatory to the treaty of Ulmi-Teshub treaty.
This peace treaty is the first in recorded history. A replica of this peace pact, in cuneiform tablet, found at Hattusas, Boghazkoi, hangs above the Security Council Chamber, United Nations, in New York, – a demonstration to modern nations the power of peace through international treaties. At Boghazkoi other Hiitite treaties have been found.
The second discovery in the West Asian history, is the Treaty between the Mitannis and Hittites. In 1450 BC, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites entered into a treaty with the Mitannis. The Mittanis of the Amarna Tablets fame were linked to the significant power in the region – Egypt. As already outlined, the Mittanis were the closely associated with the Egyptian Pharaohs by marriage. And the Mittanis were also Indo-Aryans.
What Is Special About This Treaty
In this treaty, Vedic Gods like Indra, Varuna, The Ashwini twins were invoked to bless and witness the treaty. The Hittites who had become past masters at treaties did not invoke these Gods with any other kingdom – except the Mitannis. Hittites and Mitannis were Indo- Aryan kingdoms – in full presence, with their Vedic Gods and culture.
The Zannanzas Puzzle
The 3rd interesting link between the Mitannis and the Hittites was the Zannanzas affair. After the death of Tutankhamen, (The Boy King) the XVIIIth Dynasty of Egypt was without a ruler. Tutankhamen’s queen, Ankhesenamun, a princess of Mitanni descent, needed a husband to continue the dynasty and protect the throne. She sent some urgent missives to the Hittite King, Suppiluliuma – asking him to send his son, to her as a husband, and become the King Of Egypt. The suspicious Hittite king ignored the missive. A second missive followed – and then a young prince was sent to Thebes (the capital was moved from Amarna back to Thebes).
The young prince never reached Egypt. He was possibly killed en route. And Tutankhamen’s Queen? Never been heard of since then.
How Do We Know All This
In 1906-07, an Turkish archeologist , Theodore Makridi-Bey, started excavations at Boghazkoi, (now identified as the ancient city of Hattusas) in Cappadocia, 150-200 kms from Ankara, Turkey. The name of the Hittite city, Hattusas, is possibly derived from the Sanskrit word, hutashan, हुताशन meaning ‘”sacred sacrificial fire.”
He was joined by Hugo Winckler, a German archaeologist, specialising in Assyria. They unearthed more than 10,000 clay tablets which proved to be of tremendous interest. A Czech cryptographer, born in Poland, working in Germany, Friedrich (or Bedrich) Hrozny, working in Germany cracked this code over the next 15 years – and that set off a furore amongst archaeologists.
What do the Boghaz koi tablets show
Deciphered cuneiform tablets show Hittite worship of Varuna, Mitra and Indra – Gods worshipped by Indo-Aryans. Rulers and Kings had names likes Shutruk (Shatrughna), Tushrutta meaning “of splendid chariots” (similar to Dashratha; Master of Ten Chariots) Rama-Sin (Assyrian Moon Good was Sin; in Hindi Ramachandra), Warad (Bharat). One of the Hittite allies against Ramesses II was Rimisharrinaa, रामशरण the King of Aleppo. (One of my grand uncles is also named as रामशरण – a common Indian name 4000 years later, 4000 kilometers apart).
These Hittites ruled immediately before and after Hammurabi – the much proclaimed western world’s first law giver. Hammurabi’s legal concepts of vengeful laws and retributive justice are the basis of laws in the 3 ‘desert religions.’
The Elam culture had a language which is similar to Dravidian languages. The Mitannite, Kikkuli, wrote on how to manage chariot horses. Egyptian king, Amenhotep I, married a Mittanite princesses. Elamites were founders of the first kingdom in the Iranian geography.
Some archaeologists await the discovery of tombs to establish the identity of kings. They may never find them. In Vedic cultures, there are no tombs – like the Pyramids, or the Catacombs, or Mausoluems. Vedic Indo Aryans cremate their dead. They do not build memorials or mausoluems.
The Hittite kingdom came to be known as the “kingdom of thousands of gods.” Like the Mittani, the Hittites too, added the gods of the conquered people to their own list of gods – instead of imposing the Hittite religion on the conquered peoples.
Why does this sound familiar?
This is significant as the Western concept of slavery was to deprive the captured of their religions (for instance, The Wends and their religion). This is another display of slave reform by Indics 3000 years ago.
Valued 3000 years later
These inscriptions were held sacred by the locals, 3000 years later and William Wright, an European investigator, had difficulty in noting these inscriptions. In 1870 The Hittites were named, by William Wright and Oxford University linguist A. H. Saycebased on Biblical short references, as one of the tribes of Palestine in the first millennium BC. It was a “son of Heth—a Hittite—who sold the Prophet Abraham the land to bury his much-loved wife, Sarah”. Modern view is Hattusas-Hittites (Yazilikaya/Boghazkoi/Carchemish) have nothing to do with the Biblical Hittites.
The Boghazkoi tablets changed modern history. From a completely Greco-Roman (read Euro-centric) history, the pendulum had swung to the other end. Boghazkoi showed Indian presence in the thick of West Asia in the year 2000BC with their culture and technology. This has pushed Indian history back by at least by 2000 years – to 4000 BC.
The Amarna letters and the Boghazkoi tablets have given archaeological proof of the Indo Aryan spread. Earlier, theories were retro-fitted, based on Biblical dates (Max Mueller’s, (specialist in “Compartive Theology”); main aim – “save” Indian pagans; make them see “the light” of Christian belief), colonial propaganda (Max Mueller, though a German, was a British employee) and racism. Hazy systems like philology, linguistics, comparative linguistics were used to define history. Now hard archaeological proof shows something else. Written texts, deciphered and decrpyted give us a new theory.
These discoveries and their implications have been buried under a mound of silence. Although well known in academic circles, these discoveries have not been used to update popular history. In the next (and last instalment of this series) I will trace how DNA testing is the third major tool used to reveal history!
PS – One of the big hits in Japan is the manga comic series “Red River” by Chie Shinohara. The entire series is based on this interaction between the Hittites and The Egyptians. The Red River is a work of fiction – so it cannot be taken as history – but the intrigue, silence, drama obviously inspired the author.
A Thousand Miles up the Nile
A hundred and twenty years ago, in 1887 AD, a peasant woman of Tell el-Amarna, now a small village on the Nile and midway between Cairo and Luxor, was digging for sebakh (a form of natural, domestic fertiliser). Instead, what she came up with were 380 clay tablets from beneath the floor of a ruined mudbrick house. These were the “Amarna” letters – a treasure trove of clay tablets. These clay tablets, that survived, are now divided between the British Museum, the Berlin Museum, and Cairo Museum.
What were these letters
These were later identified as part of Tutankhamen’s lost “The Place of the Letters of the Pharaoh” or ‘Pharoah’s House of Correspondence’. These letters were from notables of the Levant or Pharaoh’s record copies of replies – including letters to both Akhenaten and his Queen Nefertiti. These letters were seemingly “lost” when Amarna was abandoned early in the reign of Tutankhamun. What these clay tablet letters showed was a significant Indo Aryan connection.
Enter The Mittanis
One series are letters written by a Mittani king named Tushratta (meaning ” of splendid chariots”, similar to Dashratha meaning ” of ten chariots”) writes to his son-in-law, Amenhotep III, the king of Egypt ( the letter reads much like an Indian father-in-law’s letter will). Amenhotep married Tadukhepa, Tushratta’s daughter.
In these letters Tushrutta reminds Amenhotep, how his father, Thutmose IV had sought marriage seven times, with Tushrutta’s daughter, before this marriage to, Tadukhipa, was agreed upon. Similarly, in order to marry Hattusil II’s daughter, the Amorite King Putakhi agreed, in the treaty of alliance for a specific clause “to the effect that the sovereignty over the Amorite should belong to the son and descendants of his daughter for evermore”.
What is it, about these Indic princesses, that made them so sought after?
Tushrutta’s (was an Indo-Aryan king) ‘grandson’ (son of his son-in-law) became Akhenathen (ऐकःनाथें, 1352-1336 B.C) – who formed a new monotheistic religion (apart from Sanskrit, in current Hindi also, one God is एकनाथ). He was one of the first few kings who differentiated between his kingliness and the Godliness of Aten (The One). His chief wife was Nefertiti – who was given an important position – much against the male centred kingdoms and religions that were to follow. He founded the city of Akhetaten (The Horizon of the Aten), at the modern Amarna – where these tablets were found. His mother was Tiye. And the name of their eldest daughter – Sita (full name Sita-amen; amen after the Sun god Amen Ra).
Akhenathen died in his seventeenth year on the throne and his reforms did not survive for much longer. His co-regent and successor Smenkhare, died after a short reign and power passed to the boy king, Tutankhamun (originally Tutankhaten).
Tutankhamen – The Boy King
During his reign the city of Akhetaten (modern Amarna) was abandoned and Amun and the other gods were reinstated. In Western terms, the “Atenist heresy” was overturned, Akhenaten´s image and names were chiseled from his monuments and his sun temples were dismantled. Modern Amarna, till then a glorious city, crumbled back into the desert and his name (and that of his two immediate successors) was left out of the Kings lists produced shortly after.
Akhenathen’s successor for a short while was Tutankhamen (yes, of the Howard Carter fame). Tutankhamen was Akhenathen son (not by Nefertiti) by Kiya (possibly the mother of Smenkhare and Tutankhamun).
Tutankhamen (1336-1327 BC) ruled for a short while, and there are numerous theories swirling regarding his death. His widow, Queen Ankhesenamen, was widowed at an early age. The Kingdom was adrift. Akhenathen had cut away the rulers from the powerful nobles and priests with his new religion. And the Queen Ankhesenamen, sent an emissary to another Indo Aryan kingdom in that area.
And that is another story. And another nail in the old history coffin.
Tutankhamen’s dynasty (18th dynasty) was succeeded by Ramesses of the 19th dynasty. Ramesses name can also be transcribed as RaMeSein. We also know that Sin was the Assyrian moon goddess, popular in that area, hence Ramesses actually will be translated to Ramachandra in Sanskrit!
Who were the Mittanis
Were some Egyptian dynasties possibly related to the various Indian ‘chandravanshis’ ruler families?
The Mittanis, one of the at least three Indo Aryan groups (the other two were the Hittites and Elamites) were major players in West Asia sphere. The Mitanni worshiped Vedic gods, were connected by marriage across several generations to the Egyptian 18th dynasty – the most prominent dynasty during whose rule Egyptian power, prosperity and culture peaked – and to which Akhenaten belonged.
The first Mitanni king was Sutarna I (Sanskrit meaning “good sun”). Mitanni kings were named (who followed Sutarna-I) Paratarna I (Sanskritic meaning “great sun”), Parashukshatra (the Egyptian Parashurama, “ruler with axe”), Saukshatra (“son of Sukshatra, the good ruler”), Artatama or Ritadhama (“abiding in cosmic law”), Tushratta, (Dasharatha), and finally Matiwazza (Mativaja, “whose wealth is prayer”) during whose lifetime the Mitanni state was subordinated to Assyria.
The daughter of King Artatama was married to Tuthmose IV, Akhenaten’s grandfather, and the daughter of Sutarna II (Gilukhipa, – “khipa” of these names is the Sanskrit “kshipa,” night) was married to his father, Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), the great temple builder (alike the focus on temple construction in South East Asia 1000 years later).
In his old age, Amenhotep wrote to Dasharatha many (7 requests are documented and evidenced) times wishing to marry his daughter, Tadukhipa. It appears that by the time she arrived Amenhotep III was dead. Tadukhipa married the new king Akhenaten and she became famous as the queen Kiya (short for Khipa).
There was a Sun Temple at Karnak in Egypt – and there is a sun temple at Konark in Orissa even today. There are many Pharaohs named Sheshonk /Sheshenq under various dynasties. Shashank शशांक (meaning moon) is common name in India even today – which ties in with the many names that Pharoahs took . This name also is also similar to Sheshnag, शेषनाग, the infinite serpent on whom Vishnu rests – and Egyptians revered snakes.
Apart from these archaeological finds, there is huge supporting body of philological and linguistic evidence (based on which most modern historical theories have been postulated) which point to significant presence and influence in the Middle East – between Turkey to Syria and Iran; right upto the borders of modern sub-continental India.
The Loyal Black Rat
Who is a witness to these path breaking adventures and long, lonely journeys across Asia, by these interpid Indians?
The Black Rat (Rattus rattus).
As per a new report by an Australian researcher, the Indian rat migration began 20,000 years – a corollary of human travel, and not natural migration. The route of this spread is through the Middle East – and later to Europe.
When enterprising Indian traders set out from India and slowly spread across the Middle East to Turkey – spreading their languages, religion and social systems, travelling in caravans of bullock-carts. And ships of the fabled land of Ophir, from South India, known as Oviyarnadu, came to West Asia, carrying ivory, peacocks, monkeys, sandalwood (says the Bible).
These loyal rats travelled with the interpid Indian traders, on their ships and bullock carts, is how I think these rats spread. This is yet another part of the jigsaw – in which the Amarna letters, the Boghazkoi tablets and the DNA sampling of Indians (and Indian rats) disprove the AMT /AIT theory. These incidents point to another version of history.
Ancient history as we know it today is at the cusp of a major re-writing, Three independent developments, in the last 100 years completely invalidate existing versions of history – and will clear the way for a major re-write.
Current (euro-centric) history basically starts from: -
- Sumeria and Babylon (current day Syria, Iraq) where the world’s first civilisations were born.
- From there the action moved to Egypt. The Rise of the Egyptian civilisation thereafter.
- Meanwhile, Aryans from Siberia and Central Asia came to Iran and split in two directions. One came to India, defeated the Dravidians, set up the Vedic civilisation. Indians did not count much for much. (After all, they were not interested in massacres, killings, loot, plunder, persecution).
- The other branch went to Europe. Greece and Rome were the other Aryan civilisations. The Greeks and Romans learnt a few things from the Egyptians – but were generally great people and the rest is history.
- The Chinese civilisation started in 1000 BC and were also great guys.
- But the best were the Greeks and Romans – and modern Europe is the successor of Rome and Greece.
- Red Indians, Africans also have some history – but generally nothing much about these guys.
Some parts of this history are false. New history based more on archaeology and modern science is definitely getting re-written – especially about India, Middle East and Europe.
The first major re-write happened quietly. In this post, I will lay out the first major re-write.
Evolutionary vs. Revolutionary
Belief systems in the world can clearly be classified into 3 kinds.
First , are the pagan practices like Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Babylonian et al. These were eclectic and evolutionary religions with many layers and differences. Of all these evolutionary religions, none exist today.
Then came the second layer of religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religions had an individual agent of change – and these religions trace their birth, growth and existence to that one individual (and his followers). These were reform religions – a response to oppression and exploitation in the respective societies. I am not including Zoroastrianism and Baha’i religions as these have minor followings (mostly in India).
Third is the dharmic system of India. Unlike the Desert Bloc, India did not have religions. What the West recognizes as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are non-unitary systems. Jains recognize 24 Tirthankaras and the Buddhists have more than a 100 Bodhisattva. These more than 100 preachers were at the forefront of anti-slavery crusade between 2000BC and 500BC. Indic rulers (like The Hittites, Mittanis and the Elamites) confronted and had to compete with slave owning Asura societies – especially in the Middle East.
Historically, India had no religions. Modern religions are a construct of the Middle East – and given birth to the 3 major religions of the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In India, the belief structure centres around Dharma – धर्म.
The difference between dharma and religion? Major!
For one, religion is about worship. There are many other differences also – in method of worship (how you worship), object of worship (what you worship), frequency of worship (e.g. every Sabbath; five times a day), language of worship (what you say, in which language), etc.
The cornerstones of modern religions from the Desert Bloc are One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festival are the root of most problems in the world. From this Oneness, we get the One Currency, One Language logic – a fallacious syllogism. Once you accept One, you will accept all others.
Indian worship practices are infinite. Even non-worship to is acceptable - for instance, the Charvaka school of Indian philosophy was atheistic and did not prescribe worship. Structure and deviation from worship practices are a non-issue in Indian dharmic structure. Dharma has no equivalent in the ‘Desert Bloc’ vocabulary of religions. Dharma is the path of righteousness, defined by a matrix of the contextual, existential, moral, pragmatic, professional, position, etc. Dharma is more than moral and ethics.
The really big difference is the holy books – Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one Holy Book each. No deviations. Indian dharma tradition has thousands which are more than 1000 years old – at last count.
The Desert Religions
Judaism, Christianity, Islam were all born within 500 miles of each other and share a common culture and history. Judaism can be said to have been born when Moses led the Hebrew slaves from the Pharoah (across the Red Sea) – to ‘freedom’, that is ‘free’ to enslave other peoples. This possibly happened around 500 BC at the latest to 1500 BC at the earliest. His earliest followers were the Hebrews and they were a significant part of the Middle Eastern history all through till today. The very same Hebrews and Jews continued with slavery.
The next major religious reformer in the Middle East was Jesus Christ. For the first 300 years, Roman slaves were the major believers in his teachings. Emperor Constantine earned the loyalty of his Christian troops and won the war for Roman throne by his win over Maxentius at Milvan Bridge. Prior to Maxentius, for the previous 30-40 years, Christians had been persecuted by “rule of four’ Tetrarchy reformists in Rome, headed by Diocletan. Hence, the Christian slave soldiers of Constantine were eager for victory – as the persecution under Maxentius would have been worse. Yet the biggest users of slaves in history has been the Western Christian world – especially from 1500-1900.
Liberated slaves were the founders and rulers of Islamic dynasties, (in India, the Slave dynasty – builders of Qutub minar). Thus all the three “desert religions” were first adopted by the slaves and only after gaining significant numbers of adherents, these religions became mainstream and commenced militant proselytising, conversions – and enslavement.
Slave Religions Promote Slavery
The 3 ‘desert religions’ instead of reforming slave societies, just enabled the transfer of slave titles. Freedom meant old slaves became the new slave masters. Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) continued in the “desert bloc” till the 20th century.
When the followers of Mani (a teacher of Buddhist and Christian teachings) were encouraging the slaves to revolt and declare themselves free, administrators of the teachings of the “Lord of lords, and King of kings.” (Revelation 17: 14) at the Council Of Gangra, 325 AD, approved of slavery. Arabs slave traders were active in Congo – till they were replaced by Europeans.
Whats Going On Here
‘Caste systems’ (by different names) are prevalent all over the world, in all societies, based on colour, race, income, wealth, education, social status, political position, et al. Most such ‘caste systems’ have no force of the state behind it or are legal. They are the burakumin in Japan today and the African Americans in Europe and USA.
The most ‘respected’ caste system is the British nobility which exists even today – a caste system, approved by law. In India, colonial administration encouraged and increased divisions within society.
In order to ‘whitewash’ their own ‘dark’ history, the West is now (speciously) equating the Indian caste system with slavery. In 1919, under the Treaty Of Versailles, Western Nations set up the ILO – along with the League Of Nations. Post WW2, it was co-opted as a specialized agency of the UN in 1946. Western propaganda efforts using the ILO, have seen some success. This leading light of Dalit Christians blindly accepts Western propaganda that slavery was abolished 200 years ago in the West – and casteism is equal to slavery!
Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) continued in the “desert bloc” till the 20th century with the legal backing and the full might of the of the State.
In Indic territories, slavery was an inherited institution – and last seen in the Hittite rule around 1000BC. There is no record of sale and purchase of human beings in the last 3000 years in the Indic Bloc. Faced with West Asian reluctance to give up slavery, Indo Aryan rulers disengaged politically from West Asia and Middle East from around 1000 BC. Possibly, the slave revolt of Egypt by Moses itself was a result of the liberalising laws of the Hittites. Hence the fade out of the Indic rule from the Middle East – but the continuation of Buddhist influences, trade and peoples contact.
Competing With Slave Societies
After the slave revolts in the Middle East, India spearheaded major anti-slavery movements – like Buddhism Manicheanism, etc. More than a 100 Bodhisatvas and 24 Jain Tirthankaras were major figures in India’s anti-slavery reforms in the Middle East. Modern history, influenced by Western historiography, recognizes only the “ahimsa twins” – Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira. Both of these were princes of royal blood – Prince Siddharth and Prince Mahavira.
Their first adherents were the rulers and their methods of proselytising was also aimed at the ruling class. Ashoka, The Great, sent missions with his daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka – where Buddhism was established.
Guru Nanak Dev came from from the upper caste family and his focus was to end feuding on the basis of caste and creed. His first converts were from upper class families – cutting across religions (hence the opposition from some of the Mughal Kings).
Gandhiji was from the upper caste and the first item on his reform agenda was end to the “bhangis” carrying faecal refuse on their heads. His initial focus was social reform and less of anti-British activities.
Yet, from the time of Hittites to now, for 4000 years, Indic culture did not accept slavery.
The Two Halfs
There is a major difference in the Indic reform idiom compared to the Desert Bloc. Half the world today follows Indic dharmic systems and culture. The other half follows the “desert religions”. Our future lies in understanding both the halves. The development trajectories of these two halves has been significantly different. The motivations, behavioural and acceptable civilizational norms for these blocs are different – and mostly opposite.
Do we understand this adequately?
Despite its problems, it is a safe bet that India’s hard and soft powers are likely to rise in the coming times. If India can combine the two successfully, it will be a “smart power”. – Springing Tiger by Joseph Nye
India Stacks Up
Half the world follows Indian religion and culture – China (Buddhism), Indonesia (considering that Mahabharata is their national epic and their use of Sanskritic names), entire South East Asia (except Philippines, which was first Spanished and then Americanised) and of course, India. What makes the Indian success remarkable as a major soft power centre is that this status has been acquired without significant military cost or economic expenditure.
Archaeological artifacts have turned up in at Altyn Tepe (in modern Turkestan), in Babylon and Turkey (Boghazkoi) – in the period of 2000BC. This pulls back the date of the Indo-Aryan civilization to 3000-4000 BC – which Euro centric historians are reluctantly agreeing to. These new dates show the spread of Indian culture, 2000-3000 years before the rise of Rome.
Which country has the largest number of universities?
University & Higher Education
USA stands at No.2. with 5000 universities and colleges. India at 8000 universities and colleges is way ahead. This becomes remarkable when you consider the time frame. Much like the Indian ramp up in software (from a software minnow to leadership status in a short span of 10 years).
This huge infrastructure has been built up in a short span of 60 years of post colonial existence. In this build up, quality has suffered. The Indian challenge in the next 25 years is to further build on this size – and importantly to build on the lack of qualitative edge. These challenges are relatively easily addressed – and the cost implications are minimal.
My estimate – a US$ 2 billion investment will do the trick.
Bruce Springsteen released a song some time back – 57 channels and nothing on! 57 seemed like a good number then and India had 6 channels. Today the Indian TV industry supports more than 600 channels and there are 400 more channels in the offing – awaiting governmental clearances.
Indian TV studios churn out news in more than 10 languages, with an entertainment library which is now more than 10,00,000 hours of programming. With all these new channels and expansion, in 2007 FY, an estimated 5,00,000 hours of programming will be produced. India is global leader by a vast stretch. Europe by comparison is a toddler – and the only other comparison with India is USA.
And the interesting thing is the divergence from the Western business model - and the lack of success of Western content.
The World’s Largest Movie Industry
It is not Mumbai. No, it is not even Hollywood. Telugu film industry catering to a small market makes more films in a year than Mumbai or Hollywood does.
Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh is India’s largest city – without a history of colonial rule. The Nizam state was not ruled by the British India – and had its own currency, legal and administrative set up. The three biggest administrative reforms were initiated by leaders who originated from this state. The pre-1950 ruler of the Hyderabad State was the Nizam of Hyderabad – HEH Osman Ali Badshah. Reputedly, at one time the richest man in the world, very frugal, he wore repaired sherwanis and re-lit half smoked cigarettes. While decadent nawabs made a mess in London and Paris – the Nizam worked at making his state an economic front-runner in India.
The World’s Largest Music Industry
India has the world’s oldest living tradition in music.
India releases more music, in more languages, than any other country in the world. Compared to India’s music tradition of 3000+ years (at least), Western Music is about 400-500 years old. Most are aware of modern music – but the scene in classical music is still very vibrant.
Bhajans from Mirabai, Tulsidas, Surdas of 500 years ago, continue to sell in volumes and are in demand. Thyagaraja’s and Dikshitaar’s compositions in Telugu, 300 years old are still mainstream music. Compare this to the Western classical music, itself originating from the Romany Gypsy music. Western classical music has become a fringe music tradition, while India’s Bhakti geet is alive and vibrant.
The Largest Publishing Industry In The World
India again has more newspapers, books and magazines than any other country in the world – in more languages. Our closest contender is USA.
A few years ago, an American writer, Joseph Nye (Dean, Kennedy School, Harvard; former Assistant Secretary of Defense) created a new term – Softpower. This term has become quite popular and has earned itself a place in Wikipedia. His book (Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics; by Joseph S. Nye) was a success and today that term is used often and easily. A Google search throws up more than 18 million items under soft power.
Nye says (I wonder if he realises his cynicism) -
“Soft power is the ability to get what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your goals. It differs from hard power, the ability to use the carrots and sticks of economic and military might to make others follow your will. Both hard and soft powers are important in the war on terrorism, but attraction is much cheaper than coercion and an asset that needs to be nourished”.
Nye says that the USA is world’s largest soft power – based on its attraction to outsiders due to its movies, music, books, TV, education, et al. Analysts worry about the rise of the Chinese soft power.
India has long been a soft power!
Without the cynical use of soft power (because it is cheaper); without wanting to make others follow our will and the ability to use carrot and sticks! Will they ever change? Will we ever learn!
Points Of Interest
- Indian prowess as a soft power – A small change in the regulatory environment – and poof! We achieve global scale.
- All these scales and volumes have been achieved without Government subsidies and support.
- These strengths flow from centuries of tradition.
- External influences and aggression has not dimmed these instincts and abilities.
Not in the manner that the West has used it – India can use its soft-power as a humanizing element.
Will India wake up.