Monday, September 27, 2021

Understanding Colonisation

Chach Nama is the record of the first (?) Arab invasion of Sindh - 710 AD. 

I read this book with great interest and for a very personal reason. The book is written by the Arab chronicler, who was in the employ of Mohd. Bin Kasim. 

After reading the really long account of the victory of the Arabs against the mighty King Dahar, i shook my head in disbelief. Raja Dahar was so powerful that not only was he the Lord and Master of all he surveyed, he ruled all the way from Kashmir in the North to Makran in the West, Rajputana in the South - East. It was a massive kingdom that included all of the 5 rivers we proudly call Punj-ab. 

The land was fertile and wealthy. The military and technical prowess was great and at the start of the book, though it is written by the victor, the record of the Indian king is such that one believes that it is not possible for the Arabs to defeat this much power. Yet, a few months later, the mighty Raja Dahir is dead. Not just that, the dynasty is not even mentioned anywhere in Indian history. Sindh was a mighty land to the West of Hind, but it took an expert historian friend to recommend this book. Its not in the public discourse at all! (1)

So, how did the mighty Raja Dahir fall? 

The reason i put that book away in pure shock was the parallels. 

It was not just Raja Dahir who fell. No Hindu king could, subsequently, rule over those parts of India for at least a few centuries after that. 

The exact same thing happened to Kashmir. Once lost, it was never regained. 

The elements of colonisation 

The Islamic invasion and subsequent control of large parts of India and the world, was, in my view, the first wave of colonisation in recorded history. I call it the first wave of colonisation because: 
A. It was not localised. Large parts of the known world were systematically taken over. 
B. The power was political. 
C. The power was vested in people who were not the same as the people being ruled. In other words, the welfare of the ruled was not the primary concern of the ruling. OR, there was no self-rule.  

The subsequent colonisation 

There was a second colonisation. We know this one to be the main colonial movement. This one was led by trading companies originating in Europe. Almost as a pattern, trade relations or missionary movements were converted to political power. Once again, the 3 elements of colonisation make their appearance: 
A. Global 
B. Political Power 
C. The agenda of the rulers was not the welfare of the ruled. OR, there was no self-rule. 

So, this post has two parts. In the first part, I will try to present the common themes that emerge in the victory of the colonisers. 

The second part will compare the elements of the first two waves of colonisation with the third colonisation wave, that, I truly believe, is almost upon us. 

Why did the colonisers succeed? 

A. The Surprise Element 
In my study of riots, colonisation, and other forms of organised, group violence, information asymmetry is perhaps the MOST important element. It is this information asymmetry that leaves one side completely unprepared. 

In the times of Islamic colonisation, no one expected people to combine religion and political power. In the employ of Raja Dahir and indeed, every Hindu Raja in the subcontinent even in the modern ages, the armies were secular, the selection was based on merit and capability, and mercenaries were a recognised branch of fighters. 
Not in the Islamic colonisation. All the soldiers were Muslims. The glue holding them together was religion. Their motivation was religious conversion of the vanquished. No one expected this. No one expected large armies to seek and win political power on the basis of religion. Political battles were region to region. Sindh fought with Makran, Markan fought with Pashtoons, Sindh also fought with Rajputana, Rajputana fought with plateau kings and Central Indian kings, and so on. It was regional. Not religious. So, Raja Dahir prepared himself to fight the Afghani/ Arab army. Not a religious army. 

Likewise, in the 1600s , no one thought traders could ever want political power. They were profiteering idiots who would create their own facilities, warehouses, hold a small force to protect their wares, and pay taxes to make us rich. What will they do with power? That was the surprise element of the second colonisation. 

The surprise element of the third colonisation is that we view political power in terms of physical countries and their leadership. No one envisages countries that are virtual. No one imagines that political power is, at the end of the day, control over the minds of people, making them behave in a way that the ruler wants them to behave. This can be achieved by being the entity that makes laws. It can also be achieved by being the entity that decides WHO will make the laws, until we make laws ourselves (remember British India and their advisors to Indian rajahs) 

 B. Only one side had a strategy 
This is a corollary to the first cause. Because only one side knew that it was doing something for a very long-term impact, only one side had a strategy. The other side, after realising that it was being had (in case of Raja Dahir, after losing some key battles before the main battle in which he lost his life. In case of Native India, the rulers coming together to try to stop some of the powers of the trading companies. In case of China, countries trying to create some local manufacturing capability after realising that it cannot survive without China). 

C. A belief in invincibility and resulting complacence 
In all three cases, the existing political leadership displays a marked complacence that almost borders on insolence. 

D. An important missing piece 
In the Islamic colonisation, it was lack of unity. In the British colonisation, it was lack of latest warfare technology. In the most recent one, it is the lack of manufacturing capability and lack of new age citizen engagement features. There is usually an important missing piece - a vulnerability that the coloniser exploits. The vulnerability may not be important in itself, but when exploited by a coloniser, proves to be the Achilles' heel. 

So, what are we saying? 

What we are saying is very simple. We are looking at a third colonisation. It will come from China OR Big Tech. They are both ripe colonisers waiting to pounce. Or perhaps, both. The Dutch and the French and the British all ruled at the same time. The Turks and the Arabs and the Afghans, all ruled, though under the same major umbrella. In this case, one will rule on the premise of mind control thru tech, and the other will rule because they have created enough global infra now to pounce and seize. 

End of Post 

(1)One reason could be that for some reason, Burma, Sindh, Punjab, and Afghanistan have been completely left out of India's history, as if they were never a part of a single political entity. Nothing is further from the truth. Burma was an integral part of India and formed our Eastern border. A lot of the talent for the Hindi film industry actually came from Burma.  People travelled to and from Burma - Bengal - Assam rather effortlessly. Sindh, of course, was part of India all the way till 1947. 

For Afghanistan: 


 तुम्हें कितनी बार समझाया है 

तुम्हारी रख कर भूलने की आदत 

घर की चाबियाँ 

दफ्तर की फ़ाइलें 

जीवन का प्रेम। 

Sunday, September 05, 2021

On Teachers Day

मास्टर जी की मार बताना याद रहा 

प्यार बताना भूल गए 

उनका सजा देना याद रहा 

तुमने जो सताया, भूल गए 

अंग्रेज़ी बोलना याद रहा 

किसने सिखाया भूल गए 

बहुत हो गई चुहल ठिठोली 

फिकरे कसना, निंदक बोली 

शिक्षा प्रशासन पर 

भद्दे व्यंग की गोली 

चलो, इस बार कुछ खास करते हैं 

गुरु का फिर से मान करते हैं।