A history of India

August 6, 2007 at 5:40 am 1 comment

An interesting article in the New Statesmen, looks at the history in India and explores reasons why India has defied predictions made a hundred years back regarding the progress – or rather lack thereof – of the country economically and especially democratically.

Sir John Strachey, a high official of the British Raj during the nineteenth century, once publicly stated that there would never be an “India” in the sense of a nation state with a unified system of government rule, due to the great number of languages spoken and religious beliefs that existed in the country.

As is quite visible today, India has proved a lot of skeptics wrong. But how did they manage to integrate successfully a Democratic system of governance and create a national identity when there existed – and still exist – such a diversified number of races, religions and languages spoken.

The answers lie, according to the writer, in many things that as economists, we may not have previously taken into account: Cricket and the local film industry.

The writer tends more on the sociological side, arguing that the Hindi Film Industry, popularly known as Bollywood, and Cricket, “an Indian sport accidentally invented by the West” (described by the sociologist Ashis Nandy), could have played as much a part in creating a solidarity among people as did the British legacy of the English language which allows goods and people to move about somewhat peacefully across India.

If it can be rightly proved that Bollywood or Cricket did inadvertently play a role in the creating a solidarity among people, then one can only wonder how many other ‘accidents’ and random events in history – good or bad – could be playing a significant role in explaining various phenomena experienced in the world today – which otherwise would have been given an economic, or rather a more ‘rational’ explanation.

After all, who would’ve thought that the legalizing of abortion in the US in the late ’80s could possibly have been the main explanatory factor in the significant drop in crime rates another 20 years later?

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Entry filed under: India.

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