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April 23, 2013


Three observations/comments:

1. The "idea of India," is not a static one. Ideas about countries, be it the USA, UK, China or India, change over time. That has happened with India too. It would be interesting to see how the idea of India has changed over the last 60 years or so. But yes, we are badly in need of a stinging critique like Anderson's, and we ought to thank him for it.

2. The situation regarding our "national" figures is disheartening. I remember once reading that Nehru should be "thanked" for building our industrial base through the public sector. My reaction was why shouldn't Nehru also be thanked for mass illiteracy, poor health indicators, the disgraceful and continuing presence of untouchability, manual scavenging and so on and so forth? After all, they are as much his legacy as the public sector industries. It is too simplistic to label this as blind devotion or bhakti (as Noorani does). I don't know it is but we badly need more people like the irascible Nirad Chaudhuri.

3. For those reacting defensively, I can recommend this Jewish story about two rabbis, who were intellectual opponents but personal friends. At some point, one of them died and the other was disconsolate. At some point, he resumed his work and wrote a piece arguing a position. His friends then gathered some 30 reasons purporting to show why he was right. The rabbi broke down and cried: "You've given me 30 reasons for why I am right! What's the use of that? If my friend had been there, he would have given 30 reasons showing why I was wrong. By doing so, he would have forced me to think and sharpen my argument. What you've done is no use to me at all." There is an obvious lesson here which I'll not spell out.

D, a fine comment, thanks. Wish I knew your identity and that you didn't have to post anonymously.

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