2ndlook

David Hume on British character

Posted in European History, History, India, Media, politics, Religion, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on November 10, 2010
The Philosophy of death and genocide - (Cartoon title - Kant_Hume_Hobbes by Bob Row; uploaded on August 20, 2009; courtesy - toonpool.com). Click to enlarge.

The Philosophy of death and genocide - (Cartoon title - Kant_Hume_Hobbes by Bob Row; uploaded on August 20, 2009; courtesy - toonpool.com). Click to enlarge.

On British character

Indian attempts to show imperial British character as exploitative fail on one count. Apart from adjectives and inferences, there is usually little else. The terminal narrative is to a large degree propaganda – forethought and afterthought.

Been there and done that

David Hume (1711-1776), whose historiography shaped British outlook for the next 200 years, sheds some light on events during this period. Hume’s  influence provoked a latter-day philosopher to note that “Hume is our Politics, Hume is our Trade, Hume is our Philosophy, Hume is our Religion.” (statement by 19th century British idealist philosopher James Hutchison Stirling).

Hume’s argument about the ‘progress’ that British brought to the colonies lives in the colonial narrative even today. In the context of Ireland Hume wrote, “A more than equal return had been made [the slothful and barbarous Irish], by [the planters] instructing the natives in tillage, building, manufactures, and all the civilized arts of life”

Hume’s views on White superiority persist till date. Hume wrote,

I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no sciences. On the other hand, the most rude and barbarous of the Whites, such as the ancient Germans, the present Tartars, have still something eminent about them.

Thoughts and ideas that were later echoed by Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

A testimony to British ‘character’

To David Hume, an investor in slave trade, Britishers from East India Company in India ‘manifested the immense superiority of the British character’. This British ‘character’ according to Hume, of ‘the servants of this company of merchants [was] formed in a great degree by the habits and conditions of the masters’. Hume says, it was this British ‘character’ that was the reason why

a mercantile company, in less than ten years, [could] acquire by war and policy, more extensive  possessions, and a richer revenue, than those of several European monarchs.

Proudly, Hume described ‘British character’. What Hume said, Indians experienced, first hand. Hume described how Britishers of East Indian Company

David Hume was spot on regarding British (and European, too) behaviour!

David Hume was spot on regarding British (and European, too) behaviour!

considered, in every transaction of war, peace, or alliance, what money could be drawn from the inhabitants. … Before they planned aggression, they calculated the probable proceeds, the debts that they might extinguish, and the addition, on the balance of accounts, which they might make to the sum total. They considered war with the natives, merely as a commercial adventure: by so much risk encountered, a certain quantity of blood spilt, and a certain extent of territory desolated, great sums were to be gained. (read more via The history of England: from The history of England: from the invasion of Julius Cæsar, to the revolution in 1688 – Volume 12 By David Hume).

Having assured supplies of gunpowder from India, numerical superiority in navy based on Indian shipyards, Britain  started a blood-soaked 200-year military campaign in India – and the world.

Indian Software Success – How Come?

Posted in History, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on December 15, 2007

A 35 year old Indian advertising executive (after a short London based assignment, at Car Phone Warehouse) had an interesting observation.

There is a transfer effect! We Indians, get respect in some parts of the world today, because we are Indians. Earlier perception of Indians was based on the individual. Indians were not respected for their nationality. Now, Indians gets some respect because they are Indian.

How Did This Happen

And the Indian image makeover was due to the work done by the software guys on the Y2K problem – this advertising executive claimed. The Y2K was predicted to be a major disaster – waiting to happen! The world waited with bated breath – for planes to crash; banks feared billion dollar frauds; Generals were afraid that defence systems would go on a blink. Indian software companies got the Y2K contract by the truckloads. The whole world piled on to Indian software companies – as there were few credible alternatives.

Come Y2k, nothing happened. The world over!

It just another day. It was the biggest triumph for the Indian software community. Done at a cost of a few billion dollars. The Y2K meteor did not crash onto mother earth – it was detonated at the time of entry into the earth’s atmosphere by Indian software programmers. As usual Indians do not celebrate their major successes. (Instead they make a big deal of the 20:20 world cup)

India’s software success has many claimants – and all of them have had a role to play. And in this crush, one small thing escaped everybody’s notice.

Why Did Software Become Such A Big Thing

Why is it that software became such a big thing in India? How come Indian engineers with such low levels of prior exposure to computers could ramp up so quickly and tackle such a complex problem? How could a country with the lowest computer penetration become the largest expeorter of software in less than 10 years.

The answer goes back to 5000 years ago.

When Sanskrit language was invented. Yes. Invented.

What!! What Has Sanskrit Got To Do With This

Sanskrit is an artificial, synthetic, revolutionary language – unlike all other languages in the world; which are Prakrit (natural and evolutionary). The next set of artificial languages came into this world after 5000 years later.

About 50-75 years ago, the next set of artificial languages were invented. These are the computer languages. Between the invention of Sanskrit and the computer languages , there was no other culture which created an artificial language system.

What is special about Sanskrit?

Sanskrit is nothing but a database system with millions of database tables and a system of linking concatenated data records. Every word is a table (I studied Sanskrit 30 years ago, and if I remember correctly, it is a 3 column x 8 row table). And all words then combine with each other as per these table rules.

And all Indian languages are derived from Sanskrit.

While most of us do not know Sanskrit or understand it’s structure consciously, we all use Sanskritic structures everyday. It is easy for us to learn another “Sanskritic” language! Hence, for all those brilliant engineers, their base in Sanskritic languages gave them a head start.

And the rest, as they say, is history!

PS – Most malware, denial of service attacks, co-ordinated system attacks seems to be coming out of Eastern Europe, Russia and now China also. India – nix. In spite of being a software super power, our negative contibutions seem negligible. There is something to this …

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