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  • I am an outsider. I have worked in India three times, totalling about two months.
    What strikes everybody ( I think) is the huge difference between the rich and the poor – probably caused by the caste system. Twice I have seen the results of this personally.
    Once I was picked up at the airport and the driver was not there when I arrived, so we were about 30 minutes late arriving at the factory. I found out the next day that the driver had been sacked. He didn’t actually know the way to the point where he was due to pick me up and got lost. He was frightened to say that he didn’t know the way because he would have been sacked anyway.
    Again, I was queuing behind a rich Indian in the airport. He hadn’t filled out a form to allow him out of the country and the man on the barrier said he couldn’t go through without filling out the form. The rich man exploded, demanded to see the boss, shouted for about five minutes and was finally let through without the form. He shouted back that he would get the man on the gate sacked. I went to see the boss and wrote out (longhand) a statement that the man on the barrier had been polite and had not be to blame. The boss thanked me but said that the man would still lose his job.
    The poverty in India is unbelievable, even though you see it every day. It needs to be tackled. Religion, especially Hinduism, is not the way to do this. The Hindu religion teaches that (effectively) you are fated to go through your life and you can’t work to change anything.
    If anything, the extreme Left would be jus the same as Hinduism. A mild sort of Left could be the answer, though.

  • “…he was responsible for the Gujarat pogrom; Muslims and Christians are threatened and killed by mobs under his rule…”

    Like you I too was going to India regularly on business through the latter part of the noughties, to Gandhinagar in fact while he was chief minister there, and I spoke to plenty of people both wealthy and poor, and also to muslims, and none of the narratives doing the rounds in western left circles tally with what Modi’s actual perception was. Modi has plenty of faults but I would say it is unlikely he is a murderer who oversaw a massacre by deliberate policy. I mean, I cannot know this for sure, but absolutely nothing he has said or done since, even when under pressure, tallies with someone who did that, and such characteristics have a habit of coming out again as a politicians power increases. And notwithstanding that he is reviled in left circles as a kneejerk, he is very likely gay, and gay rights have in fact advanced more under him in India than in seven decades of Congress rule.

  • Caste is still (unfortunately) very pervasive across India, but is breaking down at an increasing rate due to urbanisation. It’s not musiims per se, it is, as alluded to by the author, the reaction of both hindus and muslims to modernity that is causing schisms in the mind. In fact, maintaining hooks into antiquity while simultaneously engaging with modernity is inherently unstable, and while such stances can be maintained for a while, modernity will increasingly force a choice between withdrawing back into antiquity or junking antiquity and embracing modernity. Not a comfortable position for those of a conservative temperament, but there you have it. I also suspect, globally muslims will hold on longer to the past compared to hindus, because my strong impression is that the attachment of hindu India to antiquity is skin-deep, and will melt away in the white heat of technology (to borrow a phrase from a pipe-smoking politician of old).