The anti-national liberalism at the core of Indian national identityThe anti-national liberalism at the core of Indian national identity
This is a sensitive subject, but tell me how Indians deal with the fact that it was foreign imperialists, the British, who created India as a unified country. Is that a wound in the Indian psyche, or is it assimilated into a larger view in which it makes sense and is ok with the Indians? That’s very complicated. I think our starting point has to be the fact that India is not a nation like Germany or Japan. It’s a political creation that brings together hundreds of different tribes and peoples living together. So when one asks the question about a people’s conception of their history, it depends which people one is talking about. The Sikhs for example have a very simple history—it originates in their ten Gurus who were their law givers and then culminates in furious wars with Moslem rulers in which the Sikhs despite being hopelessly outnumbered brought the Moghul empire to the brink of collapse. But the crux of it is that Indians don’t really have a conception of their history. The writing of history was never done in ancient India. All the history we know about India is found in the writings of foreign travellers—Arabs and Chinese.