This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Funniest Indian History Joke

This goes something like this - and is repeated ad nauseam by government publications as well:
"India has never invaded another country in its ten thousand years of existence."
Excuse me?
This one in particular needs to be posted right up along with the most idiotic comments of all time...
First, ten thousand years of existence???
Ten thousand years ago was about the fag end of the Neolithic age. Pre-history. No recorded history survives. No one can tell us what was or was not done then. Village communities do not comprise a nation, let alone an "India".
(To be fair - the morons who spread around this sort of rubbish decided lately that ten thousand years was a bit too much. The last time I saw it it was pruned to two thousand years, a pretty drastic demotion.)
What do they mean by "India"? Did India exist before the British conquest? Take a look at the picture.
Do they mean North India? (To the average semiliterate North Indian, the world still consists of UP, Bihar, Punjab, a vague south called "Madras" or "Bambai" and an even vaguer world abroad called "Amreeka" - just as for 19th century Bengalis all the world outside Bengal was "London") If you look at the target demographic for this kind of claim, you'd have to agree that must be it...
Now, even if you accept that by "India" they mean North India, and by ten thousand years they mean two thousand years, a look at a history book will tell you that the "nation" was then comprised of a varying number of kingdoms with a history so blood spattered that Europe positively looks like a haven of peace in comparison. Busy fighting endless, pointless wars, where was the need, ability or time necessary to invade "another country"?
The oddest thing is that this same lot of propagandists celebrates aggressive conquerors like Samudragupta, who is now called "greater than Napoleon, because he never lost"...(we don't actually know that he didn't lose, because almost all our actual knowledge of him comes from a hagiographic pillar inscription in Allahabad created by his court poet, but let that rest for now) and Shivaji (who attacked other mini states in what would certainly be considered banditry these days, taking protection money - Chauth and Sardeshmukhi). Blindsight?
And then I guess Indians would consider Afghanistan as part of India? What about the various Indian rulers, from Chandragupta Maurya to the Mughal emperors, who sent armies into that country? Or the Kushan king Kanishka, who fought the Chinese in Xinjiang?
Or perhaps they would rather not know of the Mughal invasion of the independent Ahom kingdom, and the defeat of the Mughal army by the Ahom general Lachit Borphukan in the Battle of Saraighat?
Meanwhile, the South Indians were busy with their own version of Endless War, from the Cholas (who controlled Sri Lanka and Malaysia as well - how?) on down to the Vijayanagar Empire and its Muslim enemies.
OK, perhaps they intend, by "India", to imply the modern boundaries of the Indian state, specifically the post-independence Indian state. Let's see. When "India" came into existence on 15th August 1947, the "principalities" were given the option of  joining India, joining Pakistan, or of independence (that last was a pretty theoretical concept, but since we're dealing in cloud cuckoo land here, anyway, theory is all we have). Also, just a day before India's independence, the Nagas, who had been conquered by the British and had never been under the control of an Indian administration of any type, had declared independence. So, the invasion of Hyderabad, Junagadh, and Nagaland, were all invasions of sovereign nations.
And lest we forget the invasion ("liberation") of Goa in 1961, the attack on Thag La ridge across the McMahon line in Arunachal Pradesh that sparked off the 1962 war against China, and the Nov 22, 1971 invasion of East Pakistan that began the 1971 war, or the invasion across the international border near Lahore in the 1965 war, or what people would likely say was the invasion of Sikkim to "integrate" it into India in 1975...
A joke is a joke is a joke. Unfortunately, it leads to serious consequences when people take it seriously and think that because no invasion had ever been launched on another country before, none ever can.
Unfortunately, Indians have never been noted for a sense of humour.

(December 2006)

No comments:

Post a Comment