Monthly Archives: August 2014

Emerson Quote

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.

Series on India

I’m doing a series of posts on India. I find that Indian media present a whitewashed view of India. History as taught in most Indian schools has this issue as well. Most Indians have never traveled abroad, and end up believing the misinformation. I’m trying to convey a more accurate picture.

Discipline in India

Queue jumping is widespread in India. VIPs get special treatment almost everywhere, and some people have a “Do you know who I am?” attitude. Waiting passively for one’s turn in line is rare.

Driving in India is dangerous, and accident rates are high. There are two main reasons for this: First, most road contractors lack integrity. Roads end up in bad condition within months of being laid. Some traffic lights don’t work properly.

Second is the attitude of drivers in India. Most Indian drivers have a “Me first” attitude, rather than the “After you” attitude common in developed countries. There is not much road discipline in India. Jumping red lights and such stuff is pretty common. Lane disciple is unheard of. Pedestrians have little concern for safety of drivers, and make things more dangerous.

Diversity in India

In India, diversity is seen as a threat to unity. Efforts to improve unity end up attacking diversity instead.

Hindi in the primary language of about 40% of the population, and has official status. English has associate official status. Hindi gets funding, and compulsory use in central government departments, companies and institutes. Proposals to give more languages official status have been forgotten.

The mongoloid people face hostility outside the northeast. Skin color has huge social currency. Black people face hostility almost everywhere. White people get special treatment.

Indians accuse foreign countries of racial discrimination, but racism is much stronger in India than in most developed countries.

Abuse in India

Marital rape is legal in India, as per section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. “Sexual intercourse by man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” Society supports marital rape as well: “It was, therefore, felt that if the marital rape is brought under the law, the entire family system will be under great stress and the Committee may perhaps be doing more injustice.”

Child abuse is not seen as a problem. Most children face abuse from parents, teachers and others. Emotional abuse, physical abuse and neglect are not recognized as abuse. Sometimes, sexual abuse is condoned as well. There is nothing comparable to the Child Protective Services of the United States. Children of abusive parents/guardians have nowhere to go.

Myths About Indian Culture

I’d like to debunk three myths about the history of Indian culture.

The first is the idea of a single unified Indian culture in historic times. Till the Indian Rebellion of 1857, India was the area between the Indus river, the Himalayas and the Vindhyas. Most people were of Indo-Aryan descent, and Dravidian and Mongoloid prople did not have any significant numbers in this area. The British controlled the Deccan peninsula, with its predominantly Dravidian population, and Northeast India, with its predominantly Mongoloid population, as well. They merged these three areas to form modern India. These three cultures—Indo-Aryan, Dravidian and Mongoloid—are distinct cultures, from genetic, archaeological, and linguistic perspectives. Apart from these three, there are tiny groups that have almost no visibility. Modern discourse on Indian history mistakenly represents these together as a single “Indian” culture.

The second is the importance of the scientific contributions of historic Indian culture to the world. Indian media propagate the idea that India was the center of ancient science. While the scientific contributions of Indian culture are substantial, claims that Indian contributions were substantially more important than any of Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia and China individually, are exaggeration.

The third is the basis of current Indian culture. The British imposed Victorian culture on India, and this drastically altered Indian culture. Most Indians mistakenly believe that current Indian culture is a continuation of historic Indian culture. But historic Indian culture was, for instance, generally more liberal than current Indian culture. Current Indian culture has more in common with Victorian culture than with historic Indian culture.

Banning thin models

Banning thin models from the runway is wrong, in so many ways. It sends the message that all thin people are unhealthy, which is not the case. It is as wrong as it would be to ban fat models. The intent behind banning thin models is good, it is the execution that is problematic.

At the most, it would be okay to set a quota for thin models. Say, require that no more than 20% of the models be outside the typical BMI range (18.5 to 25), or something like that.

Decentralize attractiveness

Wanting to be thin is not a problem in itself. But if society pressurizes people to be thin, then it is a problem.

I have a suggestion to fight unhealthy social pressure: decentralize norms of attractiveness. Instead of saying “She is beautiful”, say “I find her beautiful”, or “She is stereotypically beautiful”, or something like that. Similarly for other genders and for gender-neutral language.