Editors’ Pick: Breaking India
CRI is honored to introduce to its readers this seminal book on conflicting identities in the sub-continent, their instigators and intellectual foundations. “Breaking India” is a product of many years of research by co-authors Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakantan. More information about this book can be found here.
The following is an extract from an introductory lecture on the book delivered by the co-author Aravindan Neelakandan at the Book Readers’ Club in Madurai.
“This book is the result of more than five years of research. The book because of the enormity and complexity of its subject matter is liable for narrow interpretations which we want to avoid. This book is neither for nor against any community in India. It is for Indians as a whole irrespective of their creed or language or caste. This book talks about the faultlines in India – those manufactured and those real which are liable for foreign interventions. You can see the map of India in the cover. It is the map of a Balkanized India. India divided into a Dalitstan, a Dravidstan, a Moplahstan, a Mughalstan etc. Rajiv Malhotra, the principal author of this book, found this map in the room of a Western scholar and found that he was talking about training Dalit youths to Balkanize India. He was shocked and started investigating and this is how the whole work started. This book is very important for us as Tamils. Every one who is interested in saving Tamil culture as an important part and parcel of Indian civilization should read this book.
We as Tamils have taken some of these manufactured faultlines as real and have built a world-view and polity centering around it. This has made us pawns in an international power game unknown to us. Both the Aryan and Dravidian identities have their roots in the identity politics of Europe and colonial needs of the empire. Nor are these identities conferred on us by colonial scholars and administrators very flattering. How many of us Tamils, who have been taught to cherish Bishop Caldwell, as the forerunner of Tamil racial pride, know that the same man considered Tamils as an inferior race to the white race?
In this book we have brought out these facts. Today the very same identity politics is driven by geo-political needs. There are world conferences held to forge a new ethnic-linguistic-religious identity to Tamils, an identity that has no roots in history but an identity that will cut us off from the rest of India. Meanwhile our culture and whatever we Tamils hold as the most sanctimonious to our identity like Saiva Siddhanta and Thiru Kural have become objects of a well planned appropriation – a mechanism that has been active for more than two centuries. We have documented a conference held at New York, to which Hillary Clinton sent a congratulatory message that went well beyond the conventional wishing. In that conference papers were read that stated that Thirukural was a derivative of the teachings of St. Thomas. Many legitimate serious Christian scholars have opposed this. We have documented that also. There are many crackpot theories and this is one more which we can safely ignore. But such identity manipulations based on crackpot theories assume dangerous proportions because they are supported by an institutional mechanisms. What happens if such theories are allowed to snowball and deepen the faultlines and create new faultlines in a developing country like India?
We took two examples of such identity manipulations that have followed their logical conclusions: one is Rwanda and the other is Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka we have shown how the identities of Aryan-Singhala-Buddhist and Dravidian-Tamil-Saivaite were imposed on the population by western scholarship as well as the colonial administrators. We have shown how native scholars -both Tamil and Singhalese- opposed this categorization and we all know the results – a bloody civil war that raged for decades and which has left Sri Lankan Tamils in international refugee camps. In Rwanda it was worse. The social groupings of Hutus and Tutsis became racial categories under Belgian colonialism and resulted in a full blown genocide. Now Let me also tell you another one important thing that we have documented in this book. These racial faultlines do not have any basis in reality. They are based on a Biblical myth – they of Noah and his curse on his elder son Ham. These racial categorizations have been repeatedly falsified by science. Molecular biology has shown repeatedly that the racial categorization does not stand the test of science. We have made an extensive documentation of this in the book. Equally false is the tribal and non-tribal divide which Risley a colonial anthropologist created. The book shows how this divide was created, its motives as well as its falsity. In India the tribals and the so-called non-tribals are not categories but a continuum.
So what is happening? A colonial framework is imposed on us and academic as well as political establishments reinforce and in turn get influenced by that framework. This makes India a fertile ground for calculated interventions by global forces. The fabricated frameworks deepen and mis-portray issues like the Dalit problem. We are not denying that the Dalits need justice. In fact we are saying in this book that they need justice. Our institutions -government as well as social- should become responsive to their problems. But what do western interventionists do? Using the pseudo-scientific colonial racial categories they try to portray India as an apartheid state. They gloss over all the efforts taken to mitigate and fight for social justice of Dalits. They try to make this issue an instrument for embarrassing India and making India subservient in international fora. The western interventionists, and they come in different cues, from academics to activists, have a well built institutional mechanism to do this, in the form of government agencies, NGOs and think-tanks. But we Indians, on the other hand do not have a sustained, intelligent, Indic institutional mechanism that can study our heritage, our problems and our challenges and opportunities in the emerging global scenario. This book brings out these facts clearly, cohesively in a well-documented manner. The local phenomena are seen in a global context which is one of the most important aspect of the book. So you should read this book if you are a concerned Indian citizen, for the sake of India, for the sake of yourself and more importantly for the sake of posterity – so that our children will not end up in refugee camps.”