The Indic Civilization

History, Nationhood and Strategic Security

Research and Notes by

Dinesh Neelavar

Edited by

Kosla Vepa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preface

The genesis for this monograph lies in a series of discussions that the authors have had with a number of individuals over the last 5 years.  The Internet has been the catalyst that has made possible this interaction with a wide variety of individuals over an extended period of time. The credit for the development of these ideas belongs to them while any shortcomings of the monograph are solely those of the author. The themes that have been developed and the resulting thesis are neither new nor original. We do feel however, that these themes have not been brought together in this fashion and that this is what makes this book rather unique.

 

India regards herself as a Civilizational power. Such a viewpoint is not new. Both Arnold Toynbee and Samuel Huntington have remarked on such a  Civilizational power of India. It is a common thread running through the early writings of Nehru continuing on to the viewpoint of Jaswant Singh, the erstwhile Minister of External Affairs[1]. What does it mean to be a Civilizational power? Simply, it means that for a large part of its history except for an interregnum of 8 centuries of foreign domination, India has exerted considerable influence on the cultures and civilizations of most of Asia. To those who infer such an influence to be mostly a historical curiosity with no relevance to the present, I would draw attention to the equally widespread acceptance of Indian movies (this industry is commonly referred to in the subcontinent as Bollywood) throughout the world.  In addition, a new phenomenon which has arisen in the world is the ubiquitous presence of highly skilled and even more highly educated Indian technologists, engineers, doctors, software engineers and the increasing dependency of the West, in particular the US, on Indian technological manpower. Truly few would have anticipated, even as late as 2 decades ago, the extent to which the Indian Diaspora has spread to the four corners of the globe.

  

It is clear that India occupies a unique position in this planet both in a geographical sense as well as in a Civilizational sense. It has been our observation that the uniqueness of the Indian civilization and history is also accompanied by a unique set of threats to her security. It is our contention which we plan to develop in this book, that these threats to her development as a viable and powerful nation state are very real and that indeed her very survival as a nation state and a civilization is in question if not in jeopardy, if she chooses not to address these threats in a coherent manner.

 

While developing the thesis as set forth above, it is the purpose of this book to review the history and civilization of India with particular relevance to those issues which impinge on the security of the civilization and the state, and to analyze the nature of the threats that the modern federal republic of India faces during the coming decades.

 

The plan of the book is as follows. In the introduction we will lay out in broad perspective the nature and extent of the challenges facing the Indian republic. In subsequent chapters we will develop specific themes that are mentioned only in summary in the Introduction

 

At the core of the opposition to India amongst many quarters in the world is the notion that Indian nationhood is a nebulous entity. Foremost in this cacophony of naysayers is of course Pakistan which makes no secret of the fact that it considers the Indian nation an anomaly and would dearly love to see it broken up, even if in the process it endangers its own survival as a nation.



If that were the only opposition to Indian nationhood, life would be relatively simple for those in India who are entrusted with the responsibility for framing Indian foreign policy. Alas, such is not the case. There is a whole gaggle of disparate entities keen to see India dismantled. Not least amongst these is the powerful anti Indian lobby in the US State department and the US Senate who make no secret of their distaste for a strong India. More pernicious is the left secular lobby in India that barely hides its extraterritorial leanings towards Chinese and other ideological moorings and would not mind sacrificing the notion of the nation state called India in order to achieve power in the remnants of the subcontinent.

 

There are many reasons why this topic is of significant interest not only to residents of the subcontinent and the Indian Diaspora but also to the very influential and diverse set of India watchers throughout the world. These are also the reasons why certain state and non-state entities have gone to great lengths to devalue the durability and robustness of the Indian Republic and continue to attempt to prevent it from assuming its logical place in the family nations.

 

First among these reasons is that India is an extraordinarily free and open society. It can be asserted with reasonable certainty, that few countries can boast of such freedom of action and thought as there is in India. India has a vociferous, argumentative, and cacophonous free press, very much like that in the US and arguably acts in a far more unfettered manner than the established press in leading capitals such as Washington and London. Such freedom of the press offers opportunities not only for the unhindered expression of views, but also to plant seeds of misinformation among the millions of Indian residents.

 

Second, India is a large country not only because the size of its population but also because of its geographic location. The Indian sphere of influence could potentially encompass a vast area between the straits of Hormuz and the straits of Malacca. There is a certain amount of fear as well as envy that one day, one of the most poverty-stricken nations in the world will transform herself into a powerful economic nation. It is rare to find acknowledgement, in the Western press or even in the English language press in India, that such a transformation is indeed under way, barring the unavoidable reference to the growing economic clout of the Indian Union..

 

Third, India is a new kid on the block. It is a natural human tendency to limit the membership of an individual when he or she seeks membership in a particular group and prevent the expansion of an existing club.   As an example there is great reluctance on the part of the UN Security Council Permanent five to expand the club. Any number of reasons have been given until fairly recently to prevent the entry of India into these exclusive clubs, but it is clear that the main reason for exclusion of the nation with the worlds second largest population is primarily based on considerations of exclusivity and ‘why should we upset the cozy apple cart’ where we and we alone (the UNSC P5) will decide what is good for the rest of the world.

 

Fourth, as far as the West is concerned, India does not fall easily into the category of a friendly subservient nation. For starters, the majority of her population do not subscribe to a Abrahamic faith (Christianity, Islam and Judaism). The West understandably has always felt more comfortable with nations that ‘look and feel’ like themselves despite the fact that hitherto the major conflicts of the world have almost always taken place between protagonists of the same religion and culture. Despite the fact that the majority of terrorist acts against the US are committed by persons almost none of whom are Hindu, there is an undercurrent of hostility to the Hindu faith which is assiduously fanned by various church groups and which is far in excess of the animosity felt against Muslims even after 9/11/2001.

 

Fifth, even when individuals adopt what is clearly a practice derived from Hindu traditional texts such as Hatha Yoga, there is a special attempt made to divorce such practices from their native origins. Increasingly, the reference to its Indian origins is omitted when discussing a subject such as Yoga.  In fact few in the west are aware that the decimal place number system in universal use today was developed in India and that it was only in the 14th century that Europe gradually adopted such a system in place of the far more cumbersome Roman numeral system which was in widespread use till then. It is also little known that the subject of Grammar as it is taught today is the result of the work of the greatest Grammarian of all time Panini, who is reputed to have completed this work several hundred years before the birth of Christ.

 

Last but not least, it is a widespread misconception among India watchers to mistake India’s diversity as a weakness and seek to exploit the resulting heterogeneity of India for purposes that are less than noble. Ethnic diversity and cultural diversity are two different aspects of any society.  While the Indian subcontinent has always been home to a ethnically diverse population, due to geographical, climatic and other reasons, India possesses and always has exhibited a cultural uniqueness that is unmistakable. Many have been the philosophers, journalists, and essayists that have remarked on the unique nature of the Indic civilization. Even as far back as the Greek invasion of Alexander in the 4th century BCE, observers not native to the subcontinent, have remarked on the propensity of the Indian to concern himself with the larger ontological issues relating to the nature of humankind and the place that the human species occupies in this universe.  One must assume that such questions occupy ones mind only if other needs in the hierarchy[2] are met and that the Indian savant of antiquity was able to focus on such issues only because he was otherwise prosperous and had the time, inclination and the intellectual curiosity to pursue his inquiries,

 

A few remarks on housekeeping are in order. Generally verbatim quotes have been referred to in Italics.  The text is copiously footnoted There is also an extensive bibliography at the end of the book. The book has been extensively edited, but there remain large passages of quotes from other authors who have been cited in the footnotes.

 

Acknowledgements

 

The authors would like to acknowledge their debt to a large number of individuals.

 

 


 



[1] Jaswant Singh, National Security, Lancer Publications

[2] Abraham Maslow, http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/maslow.html.        

Incidentally the similarities between Maslow’s hierarchy of self actualization and the path to self realization prescribed in Vedantic darshanas (Weltanschauung, worldview) have been remarked by quite a few scholars and observers. There is reason to believe that Maslow had studied Raja Yoga in the process of  developing his psychological theories. http://www.vmission.org/docs/VS/2004/mar/