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This was one of the comments was posted on a blog in satyameva jeyate site on chomsky’s comments on kashmir. find the link to this very illuminating blog in the blogroll section of this site .

Rajiv Chandran said:

Unlike what many people believe, racism was the offshoot of european and christian imperial dynamics (there is no separating the two) not the other way around. European people went to other lands and claimed it as their own based on the doctrine of ‘christian discovery’ (in spite of not having any historical connections). This was also the rationale for the demonization and subjugation of the heathen and justification for economic exploitation, social dis-empowerment, co-option or subversion of traditions, and appropriation of resources and knowledge.

European historical grand narrative now states that the christian imperative gave way to ‘enlightened’ ideas. However despite liberal claims of finding colonialism abhorrent – it is surprising how fanatically attached most liberals are to the universality of their claims – even though these doctrines are located and born out of their own european, colonial and primarily christian experience. Liberal narrative obfuscates history, confuses issues, spreads blame and implicitly tries to downplay european colonial legacy.

For example a typically liberal enterprise – the current discourse on racism as color discrimination – is faulty, misleading and incomplete. Racism as a function of skin color arose relatively late in eighteenth century America, aiming to prevent newly converted christian blacks in eighteenth century America from escaping slavery. Yet this is the context in which racism is discussed amongst liberals even today – not the original christian religious context – which marginalizes and demonizes the ‘other’. These ideas about racism are then exported and implied to apply in all people – for example castes in India. Liberalism is a contrarian euro-centric narrative which is nevertheless co-opted into the western narrative framework. From this point of view their reluctance to fully deconstruct the Christian and Islamic impulse to convert and subjugate – is evident.

That brings us back to the topic of discussion. One of the important traits of the liberal / western secular narrative is to claim universality of european historical experience which is then used to spread blame. This is pretty evident in the western commentary on Indian society, culture and politics. This is why Chomsky, yourself and other liberals find automatic equivalence between what america did in iraq or what france did in algeria with what India is doing in Kashmir. The dishonesty, we claim is performed by historical sleight of hand and obfuscation of actual issues, use of skewed academic lenses and outright ignorance. It is alright for europeans ot continue with their beliefs but expecting us to believe, internalize and use european methods and worldviews, to condemn ourselves is to stretch things a bit too far.

American involvement in Iraq started in the 20st century, French involvement in Algeria in the 19th. Rest of India’s relationship with Kashmir (amongst many other Indian geographies) goes back ages – to her earliest literature. This is attested in the Puranas (which western historiographers have condemned to the realms of mythology) and the vedas. Kalhana’s Rajatarangini (Kalhana was a kashmiri prince, pundit and historian) – listing all of Kashmir’s dynasties and Kings going back to before 3000 BC (but going back to just under a thousand years or so according to western historians) – listed extensive connections and interrelationships with the rest of India. Many otherwise pure Kashmiri dynasties (including Kalhana’s own) claim descent from the Indian hinterland. Kashmir has been a fount of Hindu Shaivite and Buddhist religious thought – going really far back into history. Even India’s first prime-minister was a Kashmiri pandit. Hence unlke in the case of america and france there is no historical reason to think of India as an colonial presence in kashmir.

We don’t go out of our way to define other people’s identity for them. Yet we see how westerners – of all persuasions – constantly falling over themselves to define the same for us – be it ideas about our faiths, morality, political constructs, economy, social categories, and political borders of our country. Implicit in Noam Chomsky’s articulation of the problem (and your support of it) are assumed definitions of India, Indianity, regional identity etc, ie what India should be according to westerners rather than what she is. These may have nothing to do with perceptions on the ground. Your own previous postings admit your lack of familiarity with details of the case. kashmiri separatists demand a separate kashmir on the basis of religious identity of Islam. If secessionist demands are granted what rationale allows mainland muslims to continue staying on in India ? What about Kashmir’s Hindus and Buddhists ? What about Jammu and ladakh ? What about those muslims who do not want a separate nation.

Mere sloganeering without understanding these issues is intellectually irresponsible and dishonest. And that is exactly what Noam Chomsky (or his ghostwriter) has been


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