March 08, 2006

The Elephant in the Anglosphere's Living Room

Bush's trip to India, and the new US-Indian nuclear accord, has had the beneficial side-effect of drawing attention to the issue of India's emergence and its strategic implications for the US, and the Anglosphere at large. Richard Brookhiser, for example, comments that:

India’s relation to the Anglosphere began in colonialism. The British in India were an alien, self-segregated ruling class. They built railroads, forbade suttee, ate curry and lived in their clubs. Yet British culture percolated to certain Indian elites, especially Bengali intellectuals. In an early Satyajit Ray film, Charulata, one of the characters, urging his friend to study law in London, breaks out into an English-language rapture on the stepmother country: “The land of Burke! Of Macaulay! Of Gladstone!” Britain’s legacy to independent India was mixed, for it included both parliamentary democracy and socialism; Jawaharlal Nehru had an opportunity to study both at Harrow and Cambridge. But time has winnowed the wheat from the chaff, for democracy remains, despite the hiatus of Indira Ghandi’s emergency rule, while socialism has been consigned to the dunghill.

India now feels a new Anglospheric tug with the blossoming of information technology. The 800 number you dial to order replacement parts or check your bank account connects you to Bangalore, for three reasons. Bangalore has educated, relatively low-wage employees; someone in Bangalore probably wrote the program that makes the system run; and Bangalore, thanks to India’s earlier access to the English language, has the jump on tech centers in other developing nations. So Google fortuitously reaps what Cornwallis and Wellesley sowed—and lays in the seed for later harvests.

This is largely accurate, although of course it just skims the surface. (The alien, self-segregated nature of the Raj was a fairly late 19th Century development -- there was also a significant class of British residents of India who studied Indian languages, religions, and culture systematically and became deeply knowedgeable about Indian civilization. The explorer Richard Francis Burton, who is one example of such, was of the opinion that the coming of steam navigation, which permitted the Englishmen in India to bring their wives out easily, led to that self-segregation, by ending the practice of English residents taking Indian mistresses openly.) Be that as it may, Brookhiser recognises that although the British departure from India ended one political era, it was merely the end of the beginning of a cultural-social-linguistic relationship between India and the Anglosphere (increasingly, we should say "India and the rest of the Anglosphere"), and the start of the next phase of that relationship. The post-colonial era, roughly 1948-2000, has also drawn to a close, although more gradually and without any single event. We are now in a transition period between the post-colonial era (in which India was busy defining itself by what it was not, particularly "not British"), and a third era, as yet unnamed, in which the young, well-educated, prosperous segment of Indians are looking at the realities around them and saying "now what?"

John O'Sullivan, addressing the same issues, points out that:

Rather that stress the exclusive nature of the Indo-U.S. partnership--which frightens as well as flatters--he might want to point out that other friends of India are also linking themselves more closely to the U.S. in the post-Cold War world. John Howard's Australia is one. Tony Blair's Britain another. Following the recent election in Canada, Stephen Harper's new government is likely to move closer, though cautiously, to the U.S.

Most of these countries are also connected to each other, to India and to the U.S. by other links: the large and growing Indian diasporas throughout the English-speaking world; the practical esperanto of the English language; the common institutions, legal traditions and liberal ideas inherited from the British; the very modern economic links through the information industry in which India is a world leader; the gradual development of an English-speaking world culture, both high and popular; and a communications revolution which makes cultural similarity a more potent source of international cooperation than geographical proximity.

All these developments have made the English-speaking world--in which the U.S. and India will soon be the two most important powers--a group of countries that tend to see the world in the same way and thus to cooperate on more and more matters from trade to military threats. James C. Bennett calls such groupings "network civilizations" and this particular one "the Anglosphere." As he points out, we should expect to see the different nations in the Anglosphere working together increasingly.

And in fact the Anglosphere, plus Japan and Israel, is gradually emerging as an informal U.S. alliance system that often works better than the formal NATO one. In this new world alliance India is a junior partner to nobody except the U.S. And the more India is seen as a dominant power in an Anglosphere alliance rather than a subordinate one in a purely U.S.-India alliance, the more easily India will shed its nostalgia for its days of Third World leadership.

Indeed. Given current realities, India's relationship with the Anglosphere will be one of the defining factors of the 21st century.

Posted by James C. Bennett at March 8, 2006 11:59 AM
Comments

Nehru, like LKY, was a Fabian at university in England. Unlike Lee Kuan Yew, he never outgrew it.

Posted by: Verity at March 8, 2006 01:50 PM

James:
OK but whatwill India's impact be? I suspect it'll renenergize the Anglopshere. It's interesting to not that back in the 90s Time mag perceitively observed that the Indian writers in English had revitlized English language lit especially the novel which was moridbund at the time. I've watched some of the Bollywood mopvies when I was in Singapore and I enjoyed them very much even if they were in Tamil with sometimes bad subtitling.

Here's another question: how will India's experience with its multiple languages and cultures help the Anglosphere deal with its own multiculturalism? Indeed, I'll be keeping my eye on the substate relations (i.e. say Quebec and Utter Pradesh) because that's where the real network communities will be established on microscales.
I suspect that India like Portugal will be an node between the Anglosphere and other spheres (Pointdechery had a French influence; Goa a Portuguese so I wouldn't be suprised to see more unexpected nodes pop up.)

xavier

Posted by: xavier at March 8, 2006 03:30 PM

Xavier - Wha'??? "It's interesting to not that back in the 90s Time mag perceitively observed that the Indian writers in English had revitlized English language lit especially the novel which was moridbund at the time." I do not think Time Magazine is much of an arbiter of anything, never mind English language literature.

The novel has never been moribund in the Anglosphere, and certainly no writers revitalised it, although wonderful writers like Seth Vikram emerged to join American and British writers. But revitalised? Dream on.

"I suspect that India like Portugal will be an node between the Anglosphere and other spheres". Please tell me you're jesting, Xavier. India, a "node"?

Posted by: Verity at March 8, 2006 05:01 PM

Not to rain on anybody's parade, but lets remember that the British Legacy in India also includes brutal misrule, periodic famines produced by a disregard for the Indian 'subjects', a systematic destruction of the market economy and the relentless drive towards dividing Hindus and Muslims, not to mention upper and lower class Hindus ('divide and rule' etc).

Indeed, to this day, the states the English ruled the longest (Bengal, Orissa, Bihar etc) remain the poorest in the country and vice versa.

The British are also largely responsible for the massive affirmative action policies embedded in India, as well as a massive and destructive civil service.

It will take a very long time to undo all this damage.

And err... who really gives a crap about 'India's impact on the English language'? I think security and economics keep a lot more people up at night.

Posted by: Rahul at March 8, 2006 05:09 PM

Aargh, why is no one able to spell "Gandhi"? I have a hard time taking writers seriously when they can't be bothered to look up spellings of major political figures' names of which they are ignorant. They thereby put themselves in the same category as Barbra Streisand.

Posted by: Adrianne Truett at March 8, 2006 05:24 PM

Rahul: I wonder if "the states the English ruled the longest (Bengal, Orissa, Bihar etc) remain the poorest in the country and vice versa" is possibly an inversion of cause and effect. Is it possible that these were the last states to liberate because of something native to the local culture and economic weaknesses? I'm no India expert so maybe I'm way off on this, but it doesn't seem to me to be an open/shut case. Or, this is not self-evidently evidence of the corrupting influence of the British colonial legacy.

More broadly, I think there are still obstacles to this march toward an Anglosphere. Chiefly religious ones. While Hinduism lends itself to individualism as well as Protestantism does, everyone I know in India is there as a Christian missionary. That's a function of the social circles I run in, but I wonder if we may see greater conflict in the future, whether we have a common enemy (Jihadi Islam) or not. Economic and security imperitives may push us closer together, but without a commitment to religious freedom (including the prospect of wandering proselytizers) those imperatives may not lead so inevitably toward the productive and friendly outcomes we all want.

Posted by: The Apologist at March 8, 2006 05:32 PM

Adrianne Truett wrote:
"Aargh, why is no one able to spell "Gandhi"? I have a hard time taking writers seriously when they can't be bothered to look up spellings of major political figures' names of which they are ignorant. They thereby put themselves in the same category as Barbra Streisand."

That's "Barbara"

Posted by: Brian at March 8, 2006 06:16 PM

One needn't be an unabashed fan of Britain's tenure in India to recognize India's significance in the Anglosphere. I've thought for at least the past ten years that the 21st century will be remembered for India's cultural and economic rise on the world scene, not for China's. That will happen in large part because the Anglosphere is well on its way to creating the de facto world culture, based on popular entertainment, methods of education and trade, and a common language undergirding it all.

India does still have considerable baggage from the worse aspects of colonial rule (and not just by the British). Well, everyone else has baggage too; India looks likely to manage better than most.

The Apologist is right that religious issues will be very important. For the short and probably medium terms, though, those issues will push India closer to the US and the Anglosphere. Militant Islamism poses a great challenge to both, and there's a great deal of room to cooperate in fighting it. India may well have trouble remaining as pluralistic and open as I'd like, in the face of that. I expect there will be major disappointments and setbacks in these freedoms. Ultimately I remain optimistic, though.

Posted by: Shelby at March 8, 2006 06:24 PM

Brian:

If you're going to condemn someone for their blunder, please make sure it's actually a blunder.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000659/

Posted by: Shelby at March 8, 2006 06:25 PM

Making much out of that which is, currently, little.

All's fair.. if the idea is to be 'first on the block' but dont count yer anglosphere chickens just yet...

And I'm a little tired of the Empire Bashing, get's old after about 40 years of reading about it... let's look instead at the effect of the Vatican/Spanish forays and the results, and at the effects of Calvinist Missionary work amongst the heathen.

Posted by: pettyfog at March 8, 2006 06:37 PM

Brian wrote:
"That's 'Barbara'"

No, it isn't.
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000659/

Meanwhile, back at the topic: I've always agreed that we (the US) should be cultivating our relationship with India. Aside from simply being natural allies, as this story asserts, India is likely to become China's main regional rival, and so it makes even more sense to be on good terms with them.

Posted by: Kevin Shaum at March 8, 2006 06:38 PM

(Brian....it's a long-running joke that "Babs" doesn't even know how to spell her own name.)

Posted by: Bill at March 8, 2006 06:40 PM

I think it is no coincidence that India has the world's second largest movie industry.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 8, 2006 06:40 PM

My understanding of Bollywood is that its greatest weakness is that it's infested with mobsters on the financing end. Perhaps more Hollywood/Bollywood cross pollination might help to "civilize" both ends, with a better business model imported from the US and a better work ethic exported from India. For now though, Hollywood seems overly infatuated with Hong Kong and it's a trend I don't see ending very soon. Perhaps it will prove a fad.

Posted by: The Apologist at March 8, 2006 06:58 PM

Ah, India, the good billion-person country.

I think Steven makes a good point: India has assimilated much of Western culture, much like Hinduism has assimilated other religions by giving them places in the pantheon. Like Japan, India has the cultural flexibility to adopt what they find useful in the West without feeling they've sacrificed their identity.

But I think we all know what the really important question is here: Will this new paradigm be called the "Hinglosphere" or the "Anglindosphere"?

Posted by: TallDave at March 8, 2006 07:31 PM

India has the world's second largest movie industry

Make that "largest"...

Posted by: Sonia Belle at March 8, 2006 07:38 PM

i read some online content recently indicating that demographics and population stats being what they are, sometime around 2015 or 2020 there will be more Indians who speak English as their primary language than there will be primary-English speakers in the USA.

a few decades after that, there will be more primary-English language speakers in India as in all the other countries in the current Anglosphere combined.

Having India in the column of vastly-imperfect-but-recognizably-free nations will turn out to be a big deal a few years from now. keep an eye on this investment and treat it carefully.
it will pay off handsomely and be worth something when cashed in, because China will go crazy in some way...economic, political, social, during this century.

an historic and revolutionary transformation is underway in both China and India. if we can make sure that India gets a checkmark in the "free world" column when the latest act does play out in China, then theres hope for mankind surviving it.

i think civilization as we recognize it today could not survive a nuclear exchange between China and India. western standards of living might collapse even if only those two countries were involved in the nuclear shooting and no other nations were drawn in or attacked.

Such a war would eclipse the death toll of any USA-Soviet nuke fight from the old days. and so strange as it seems i think having India on the free-nation side makes that possibility less likely, not more likely. because calmer heads will be allowed to grow and prevail, at least on the Indian side.

Had India gone the other way, as in towards a possible bilateral dictatorship pact with China, away from the West, it would have been a huge blow. adding an aggressive India-China bloc to Team Jihad changes the entire game. or might have changed the game.

hmmm.
did i ramble?
oh well.


Posted by: cwb at March 8, 2006 07:53 PM

Rahul: "lets remember that the British Legacy in India also includes brutal misrule, periodic famines produced by a disregard for the Indian 'subjects', a systematic destruction of the market economy and the relentless drive towards dividing Hindus and Muslims, not to mention upper and lower class Hindus ('divide and rule' etc)."

So, Rahul, there was no brutal misrule, no famines, no disregard for Indian 'subjects' and Hindus and Muslims lived in Rodney Kingian "can't we all just get along" Kumbaya before the British arrived? You're simply silly.

Posted by: Jabba the Tutt at March 8, 2006 07:53 PM

Make that "Largest"

If you're talking about total number of films released, yes. If you're talking about total cost of production or gross income, no, not by a long shot.

Posted by: Richard R at March 8, 2006 08:06 PM

I always thought Robert Clive had more influence on future history than almost anyone else. Pity we Americans don't know much about him.

He is largely responsible for Britain's accidental empire.

Posted by: Amphipolis at March 8, 2006 08:16 PM

Yes, Brian, it's not smart to make the exact same mistake referred to in the post you're criticizing. Did you actually look her name up anywhere? That's all it would have taken to get it right.

Posted by: kcom at March 8, 2006 08:40 PM

I live in a part of the United States (Silicon Valley) with a huge Indian population. Indeed, I like to joke that my town is 100,000 single Indian software engineers. More seriously, I have had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with many Hindu Indians and have come away impressed with their focus on education, morals, and family values- frankly there is a lot in that society that we need to emulate (although not the socialist part). I've come to believe that the Hindu religion is integral to this- a religion with thousands of gods can't be intolerant. Indeed, I think that the BJP would be the best thing for the country in the long run, even if we perceive them poorly here in the United States.
I frequently think that the United States would be better off with a free bilateral immigration program with India than the mix of immigration laws we have now.

I am hoping for the day that India joins in a formal alliance with the United States. US-India-Israel-UK-Australia-Poland-Korea-Japan would be an incredible combination. Since India has the experience of fighting the long war against terrorism, I don't think this is out of the question.

Posted by: Josh at March 8, 2006 09:25 PM

An interesting discussion. Some responses to various comments:

Indeed, to this day, the states the English ruled the longest (Bengal, Orissa, Bihar etc) remain the poorest in the country and vice versa.

I don't think this has to do with British rule per se as much as the backlash to it. Bihar was demonstrating an anti-British/Western nativist streak all the way back in the 19th century. That probably helps explain why it's remained India's most feudal and culturally backwards state. West Bengal, meanwhile, was actually one of India's wealthiest states at the time of independence, but has been wrecked by nearly three decades of Communist misrule. And Indian Communism certainly has a strong anti-Western streak to it.

For now though, Hollywood seems overly infatuated with Hong Kong

Maybe, but I don't think Bollywood will serve as the antidote. I don't see the Bollywood cinema style, replete with musical pieces and tons of melodrama, gaining more than limited appeal in the US.

I've thought for at least the past ten years that the 21st century will be remembered for India's cultural and economic rise on the world scene, not for China's.

The English language, the British legal/political heritage, and Anglosphere cultural links are certainly advantages for India relative to China. But for the last couple of decades, China has done a notably a better job of creating economic growth. 20 years ago, China and India were about even in terms of per capita GDP. Today, China's is about twice as large, and yet is still growing at a slightly faster clip. India might be able to turn the tables in the future, but the Indian people have to stop electing corrupt socialists into power.

So, Rahul, there was no brutal misrule, no famines, no disregard for Indian 'subjects' and Hindus and Muslims lived in Rodney Kingian "can't we all just get along" Kumbaya before the British arrived? You're simply silly.

There's nothing "silly" about his remarks, and I say this as someone who's no one's idea of anti-Western leftist. The fact is that British rule, while providing unmistakable benefits to the subcontinent, also did unmistakable harm. This can be seen in the massive decline in India's share of global manufacturing, the decades-long declines in per capita GDP, the abysmally low literacy rates that lasted up until independence, and yes, the divide-and-rule policies that made a bad situation between Hindus and Muslims worse.

In other words, you can't judge the actions of a 19th or early 20th-century Western colonial power by the nobility of its actions in the present day. The two situations aren't comparable.

Posted by: Eric at March 8, 2006 09:41 PM

Our committment to Anglosphere and recognizing the strength of British institutions is absolutely NOT contingent on apologizing for atrocities performed by British occupiers in India or anywhere else. Even if non-British native rulers had performed atrocities equal to or worse than the British, it does not absolve the British from blame any more that it bring back those killed to life. Arguments like those are fallacious and ultimately damaging to Anglosphere unity.

I'm half Japanese. My mother is from Shimonoseki and lost an Aunt in Hiroshima. I'm proud of my heritage and the progress Japan made since the Meiji Restoration and especially after 1945. Still, my enthusiasm for that country in no way means that anything Japan did between 1931 and 1945 is defensible. Maybe explainable, but certainly not defensible. The elite pretending it didn't happen has not made Japan any greater or more powerful. On the same token, acknowledging and coming to terms with those truths will not usher the fall of the Japanese constitutional monarchy. If anything, it will become stronger.

Indigeneous rulers in many of the countries Japan occupied killed as many if not more (China) of their own people than Japan, but that doesn't mean Japan has no reason to acknowledge or make amends for the crimes committed.

I hope that this settles the whole Colonial Britain-India thing. Because it's really getting ridiculous.

Posted by: Anton Traversa at March 8, 2006 09:48 PM

Let me qualify when I say "apologizing for atrocities;" I mean being apologists for, rather than the act of apologizing/making amends.

Sometimes my brain empties and I have to put more sawdust in my ears to keep it going.

Posted by: Anton Traversa at March 8, 2006 09:50 PM

India's population, while a potential source of strength, is also a ticking time bomb. Educated and harnessed, they can provide a huge impetus to world economic growth. But the way things are going in India, the window of opportunity is closing fast(in relative terms).
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000039&sid=aEISLF.zCjBo&refer=columnist_mukherjee

The only thing worse than an aging population is an aging and poor population.

Posted by: The Wobbly Guy at March 8, 2006 10:02 PM

someone in Bangalore probably wrote the program that makes the system run

Err...not so sure about this one. I work in IT. It might be fair to say that someone from India was involved in the development, but they were probably in the US, not Bangalore.

While the IT industry is quite healthy in India, offshoring has not turned out to be all that it was initially made out to be. The good news is after a handful of successes and many failures, business is starting to understand what it might truly be good for.

The nature of the IT profession and India is still evolving, and I think it's all a natural extension of IT itself to find new fields and leverage resources in ways other fields may be slower to explore, or never explore if not for the role of technology.

What disturbs me is when I hear suggestions that businesses start checking out even cheaper countries, like China, as they start focusing heavily on English skills. Frankly, I don't think that is the way to go. India may have its problems, but at least it's a democracy. If we are going to do business anywhere, why can't we just once do it with someone with our values closer to our own? Indians may seem alien, but they seem quite keen on many traditional American values, particularly freedom. Isn't that exactly the kind of global partner we want?

Sometimes finding the cheapest solution is not the way to go.

Incidentally, I have also worked with Chinese immigrants as well. I have no problem with the Chinese people, just the Chinese government. I think that's an important distinction.

Posted by: Jason O at March 8, 2006 10:25 PM

This is idle hoping that India is somehow the savior of the Anglosphere, the foil of China. Instead of salavating about some mythical alliance of the almost-english why don't we focus on policies that give us the strength we desire to seduce from the subcontinent. Can't we have educated people? Can't we teach a work ethic? Can't we speak english? Or have we so forsaked our own society to dismemberment and illusion that we pin our hopes on the stock characters of the british empire of yore. In that case, their support will do nothing to save our descent into incoate self-abuse.

What can we get from others that we can't learn to make of ourselves?

PS. How does arguing about Streisand's name help anything? That's right, because the goal is self-esteem, not improvement.... just checking.

Posted by: Pharaoh at March 8, 2006 10:34 PM

India's fertility rate, while having steadily dropped over the last few decades, is still at 2.8 children/woman. That's well above the "replacement level" of 2.1, and notably higher than just about every developed nation (varies from 1.2 in Mediterranean Europe to 2.1 in the US), not to mention China's (1.7). So the demographic situation looks pretty good for now.

That said, I have a number of married cousins and second cousins in India, all of whom are either middle or upper class, and none of them have more than two kids, with many having only one. As more Indians join the ranks of the middle class, there's a good chance that its fertility rate will begin to resemble those of developed nations.

Posted by: Eric at March 8, 2006 10:46 PM

Can't we have educated people? Can't we teach a work ethic? Can't we speak english?

Oh, I'd like to think so, but instead of immigrants coming here, working hard, and setting example for the rest of us, most IT professionals I know will whine about "Indians stealing our jobs". Ironically, they'll do it on projects that have Indians working alongside them and they usually think quite highly of their Indian co-workers. Go figure.

I'm not really thinking that broadly though. I'm very much pro-immigration, pro-free market, and pro-competition. Even if that means I have to compete against immigrants. Hell, I'll be competing against someone anyway, so what is the difference? The only real reason I am for dealing with India and its people is because of diversity issues. The ideal team for many project managers is a bunch of 35 year old white guys who all have computer science degrees. Oddly enough, these have NOT been the best teams in terms of results. Sure, their technical expertise might be through the roof, but can they build anything?

Ultimately, by working side-by-side with people of a vastly different culture you gain perspective that you might not otherwise have. Not only might their approach be new, but I have found they influence the thinking of their team members. We all benefit from it. I wouldn't force diversity on a group just for the benefit of hiring those of a different culture, but I wouldn't pass on a qualified candidate just because he was a foreigner either.

Posted by: Jason O at March 9, 2006 12:00 AM

Eric, 2.1 is a very sustainable growth in population. 2.8, while not explosive, has some ramifications down the line. For a developing nation that already seems to be utilitizing every bit of arable land for agriculture, 2.8 is not good from a demographic viewpoint.

I agree that India's fertility rate would start to shrink once its development progresses, but I hope it won't shrink too fast, otherwise there'd be a huge imbalance between the elderly and the working adults, with all the usual social/political consequences.

On the other hand, if it doesn't shrink quickly, can they find jobs and feed everybody? And if they don't?

While I have seen reports that suggest that agricultural output in India can still be vastly improved to feed themselves, they require a lot of energy. At least their development of nuclear power should help here.

TWG

Posted by: The Wobbly Guy at March 9, 2006 02:08 AM

for the last couple of decades, China has done a notably a better job of creating economic growth. 20 years ago, China and India were about even in terms of per capita GDP. Today, China's is about twice as large, and yet is still growing at a slightly faster clip. India might be able to turn the tables in the future, but the Indian people have to stop electing corrupt socialists into power.

Without getting into various of the preceding, often valid arguments, this is correct. China now has about double India's GDP per person, and is predicted to grow about 8-9% in 2006, vs India's 7%. However, the signs point to a change before long. Look at the past century -- China has been enormously tumultuous, with GDP growth all over the map. There's no reason to think that's changed. India, though tragically slower to develop, is not so radically unpredictable. If India can elect decent governments for the next twenty years (a big If, I grant), it will eclipse China economically. This presupposes the lack of a major world war involving, and won by, China.

China is doing a good job (though not as good as Singapore) of demonstrating the strengths of a competent centralized government. Unfortunately for China, it has a ferociously strong tendency toward regional warlordism, and shows little evidence of having overcome that. If it reverts to form all the gains of the "rule of law" will vanish, along with the value of overseas investments, and China's expatriates will recapitulate the role of Cuba's.

I won't mind being wrong -- it would indicate a significant improvement over historical trends -- but I don't think I am. So my bets, such as they are, will be on India.

Posted by: Shelby at March 9, 2006 03:40 AM

I was tempted out of mischief, to 'correct' the spelling of Barbra, too. Brian was likely being facetious.

Posted by: spacemonkey at March 9, 2006 07:01 AM

Indeed, to this day, the states the English ruled the longest (Bengal, Orissa, Bihar etc) remain the poorest in the country and vice versa.

Rahul, when India became independent, Bengal was the second-most industrialized state in the country (after Maharashtra) and one of the richest.

It's current fortunes have nothing to do with the British -- it's widely understood that their spectacularly incompetent state government from the 70s to the mid-90s is responsible for that, as well as a militant trade union culture, frequent strikes, industry-unfriendly policies ... in short, everything that brought the UK and Australia down to their knees in up to the 80s.

Re poverty in Orissa: Orissa was part of Bengal province in British times and therefore one of the most prosperous and well-administered provinces in India. The problem is it never grew beyond a mainly-agricultural state. Also India's much-vaunted 'Green Revolution' never really took off that well in the eastern states like Orissa.

Why certain Indian states do better than others is a fascinating study in public policy and the merits and demerits of various Indian government policies. However, blaming the British rule for present misfortunes is convenient but misguided.

Posted by: Prasenjeet Dutta at March 9, 2006 07:48 AM

An interesting analysis that indicates India will also have a grey before rich problem, as well as food for lots of other thought.

Posted by: Richard Heddleson at March 9, 2006 09:38 AM

Verity:
It was a Times' article on Vikram Seth and the other Indians novelists that triggered my comments. And nope I'm not kidding about India becoming a node (or oif you prefer an intersection point) Nodes are just as important to a network as the knots for a net. :)
xavier

Posted by: xavier at March 9, 2006 09:54 AM

Eric, 2.1 is a very sustainable growth in population. 2.8, while not explosive, has some ramifications down the line. For a developing nation that already seems to be utilitizing every bit of arable land for agriculture, 2.8 is not good from a demographic viewpoint.

2.1 is alright, particularly in America's case, since it's complemented by healthy levels of immigration. Though we're still going to have some problems 10-15 years from now as a generation that was born at a time of much higher fertility rates starts retiring in large numbers.

As for India's case, the population density of the country is pretty high, but it's still only even with Japan's, and lower than South Korea's. And these countries are, in aggregate, more mountainous and more lacking in natural resources.

Look at the past century -- China has been enormously tumultuous, with GDP growth all over the map...India, though tragically slower to develop, is not so radically unpredictable.

True to a point, but at the same time, India's GDP growth was pretty weak for much of the 20th century (both pre- and post-independence), so that predictability isn't entirely a good thing. And India didn't have to deal with a cataclysmic period of warfare to the degree that China did. All things considered, I wouldn't give too much importance to GDP growth trends over such a long timeframe, in one direction or another.

Unfortunately for China, it has a ferociously strong tendency toward regional warlordism, and shows little evidence of having overcome that.

That could indeed trip the country up. As could its tendency to witness peasant/lower-class uprisings. And a recession and/or a failed military adventure could easily make one or both of these problems flare up. Neither China nor India's future is set in stone, that's for sure.

Posted by: Eric at March 9, 2006 10:34 AM

Great comments from many people; thanks to everyone for taking the time.

Anton is right in his response to Sahul: it would be absurd to insist that British imperialism in India was not explotative, or that it did not have many negative effects. As David Cannadine pointed out, many of the Indian Empire decision-makers were from aristocratic backgrounds uncomfortable with the widening franchises and loss of power and deference back in England, and saw the colonies as a place to reconstruct a version of that more hierarchical society, with of course themselves at the top. Had Britain had full confidence in their own nominal values, India would have had genuine self-governing Dominion status as early as the prelude to WWI, and effective independence shortly thereafter. But that must remain in the realm of alternative history. (As is the hypothetical case of an India that was never colonized.)

What we are focusing on is the situation today, and what we can do with the legacies we have inherited.

Adrianne, I would just note that the misspelling is an issue with the proofreaders of the New York Observer; we never alter quoted material.

As to Sahul's other point, we need to look at cultural issues such as mutual influences on language, because culture is often a leading indicator. State action is usually a lagging indicator. For example, the domination of India's foreign policy establishment by Krishna Menon's heirs will continue to delay an Indo-US alignment, because they are stuck in the long-dead assumptions of the days of "non-alignment" and the Bandung Conference.

However, all this cultural stuff, including the impact of the broad Indian expat community throughout the Anglosphere, means that whatever Indo-Anglosphere relationship eventually emerges will be far deeper than the sort of strategic alliance Kissinger constructed with the PRC. Something like the US-Israeli relationship is a more useful model to examine.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 9, 2006 11:49 AM

I'm a big advocate of India in the Anglosphere too, but I think this posting and comments section is extrapolating current trendlines into the future a little to easily. If the comments above are true about India having half the GDP per capita of China, I really think we're projecting a little too quickly. I've been told China currently has a per capita GDP roughly equivalent to the Dominican Republic, and very few people write articals about the Dominicans taking over the world. In the last 20 years both China and India have finally realized the folly of trying to ram socialism down thier people's throats; Maoism in China, the London School of Economics fuzzyheadedness in India. Since then they've been jogging up the path of economic development while the US has been up on point hacking our way through the jungle. Eventually the easy transfers are going to be completed, and these countries are going to have to deal with some wrenching decisions.

Posted by: wks at March 9, 2006 12:10 PM

Whenever the discussion of a post-colonial power inevitably turns to tales of horror during foreign rule I am always reminded of a book published in ROK in the mid-90s that almost got the author lynched. This Korean historian was studying the Japanese occupation and concluded that the net effect was positive. While the rapid modernization of Korea's infrastructure (roads, telephone/telegraph, rail, power, etc.) was almost completely done by the Japanese for the benefit of the Japanese, it was the Korean nation and people that benefitted after WWII.

It is entirely possible to look at the results of a historical event and dispassionately evaluate the net result without being an appologist for attrocities that happen during the event. It is an unquestionable fact that those countries that have had prolonged experience with Western, and specifically Anglo, culture seem, in the long run, to have benefitted disproportionately to those that have not.

Posted by: submandave at March 9, 2006 12:34 PM

Sigh.
Now if we could only have Gloria and our politicians get rid of some of the corruption, the Philippines could be part of the Anglosphere too...
Alas, they are so busy backbiting and stealing that most of our English speaking middle class and even farmer's kids who speak English end up as OFW's in Malasya or SaudiArabia, and our nurses and docs as nurses in the USA.

Posted by: boinkie at March 9, 2006 02:24 PM

wks, those are good points, but one must always factor in the sheer size of India and China. According to the CIA Fact Book, China's GDP is $8.158 trillion and India's is $3.678 trillion. Given the relative population figures, that makes the per capita GDPs on par with what you mentioned.

But it also means that China has 2/3 the GDP of the United States, and that China and India combined come close to the GDP of the US.

Of course the per capita figures are important, since a greater percentage of the GDP is presumably tied up in basic needs. But, even so, the sheer size of those markets cannot be disregarded. If their current growth rates (9% for China and 7% for India) hold for 5 years, that will give them GDPs of $12.5 trillion and $5.1 trillion, while the US will have $14.7 (if our 3.5% growth is a good benchmark for the next 5 years).

Even though most people in India and China are poor, the sheer size of these markets means that even relatively small prosperous classes still have substantial purchasing power, since they are relatively small but objectively numerous. If say, just 10% of Indians have wealth on par with middle class US citizens, that's still 108 million consumers.

Posted by: Dwight in IL at March 9, 2006 02:43 PM

TallDave thinks Hinduism has assimilated other religions and given them a place on the pantheon. First, let's disabuse ourselves of the notion that Hinduism is a religion. It is not. It is a life system. They have not, so far as i know, incorporated anyone new in their pantheon, although I'm willing to be corrected.

Posted by: Verity at March 9, 2006 03:27 PM

Dwight, those GDP numbers are PPP adjusted. In absolute dollars, China is at $1.83 trillion, and India's at $735 billion. Still large enough to be the 4th and 10th largest economies in the world, respectively, but still well below the US (and to a lesser degree, Japan).

Posted by: Eric at March 9, 2006 04:04 PM

Dwight in IL, I totally agree with you. I did a quick and dirty analysis from the CIA Fact Book and came up with a different set of countries to look on as the ones to work with. Vanity link here.

Posted by: K T Cat at March 9, 2006 06:19 PM

An interesting and important question is why the Anglosphere is so prosperous and powerful. Certainly it isn't just the language. So one must consider other common characteristics - the most obvious of which is exposure, however painful, to British culture, values, ways of commerce and law. How much that is a factor is an unknown to me... but what other factors are there?

Posted by: John Moore at March 9, 2006 06:22 PM

An indigenous culture with certain characteristics that can mesh with British systems in positive ways is just as important.

What those characteristics are, is a matter left for others to think about.

TWG

Posted by: The Wobbly Guy at March 9, 2006 09:31 PM

Josh:
On the contrary, Hinduism can be as intolerant as any other religion. You can read about some of the anti-Christian persecution in India at compass.com Also don't forget the perennial Moslem-Hindu conflights
boinkie:
The Philippines will also have to come to terms with its Spanish colonial heritage and accept that they're a mix of Spanish, American and Asian Interesting the island commits the same mistake as the Latin Americans did during the 19th century until the Depression, that they wanted to imitate everyone but accept who they were.
xavier

Posted by: xavier at March 10, 2006 03:47 PM

I don't know so much about Christian persecution in India itself, but the Indians in the US seem to assimilate just fine. Religious intolerance is not exactly unusual in any country, I think the real acid test is whether or not they can actually assimilate into the culture they work in.

Posted by: Jason O at March 10, 2006 04:02 PM

Whatever damage was done by the British, it is nothing compared to that of the Moghuls. I'm curious to see how much of India's ancient greatness, which likely eclipsed all else, East and West, has survived via genes and stubborn custom.

Posted by: Bezuhov at March 10, 2006 08:12 PM

Xavier,
Christian missionaries used force and coercion for conversions before independence. After independence, they have been using money. There are missionary hospitals in India where treatments costs as high as any other hospitals. But if you are willing to convert, you can get treated for free. I studied for two years in a missionary run college. The only way to get a permanent teaching position there was to convert. Naturally this kind of behaviour leads to some friction, leading people like you to call us intolerant.
About Hindus and Muslims: We were a completely Hindu land. Muslims invaders from Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey started invading from around 14th century, and today Muslims account for more than 40% of population on the Indian subcontinent (India+Pak+Bangla). If you think this massive conversion happened without violence, then you are extremely naive.
Please do your homework properly before calling Hinduism intolerant.

Posted by: Tushar D at March 10, 2006 09:24 PM

Tushar:
I'm quite aware that the Moslem invasion of India was a horrific bloodbath and I'm rather familiar with dimmitude. The same thing happened in the Mideast/North Africa which was Christian.
If the Christians used force and corecion and now money to convert the Indian population, they aren't very successful.
However, when some Hindus burn an Australian missionary and his sons in their car while sleeping, that's intolerence
When the Hindu upper castes tried to prevent a large number Dalits from converting en masse to Buddahism, that intolerence.
Hinduism isn't exempt from episodes of religious intolerence.

Posted by: xavier at March 11, 2006 08:53 PM

"When the Hindu upper castes tried to prevent a large number Dalits from converting en masse to Buddahism, that intolerence."

When did that happen? And "tried to prevent" equals intolerance? Dr. Ambedkar, a leader of the lower castes (and lead author of India's constitution), converted hundreds of thousands of Dalit's to Buddhism peacefully. He and his followers suffered no intolerance.

If you are going to paint a 5000 year old religion as intolerant because of those 3 deaths, it is your problem. I guess we can compare Hinduism quite favourably to Islam and Christianity, the two religions that caused the most bloodbath. And I don't see you accusing Christianity of intolerance.

I agree we are not as peaceful as Buddhism. We certainly push back once in a while. But we don't go around killing and proselytising by force.

Posted by: Tushar D at March 11, 2006 11:24 PM

I'm going to inject a question mark here. This week's first leading article in The Economist takes a rather severe view of the recent American nuclear agreement with India. India is not a signatory of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) but the United States is, and the agreement with India is difficult to reconcile with a consistent policy toward other cases that threaten the current nonproliferation regime.

I don't think the current NPT regime can or should be enforced against India, which for other reasons deserves to be treated as a nuclear partner if general nuclear disarmament is not practical. But the NPT is heading for a train wreck if it is inevitable that Iran will go nuclear in the next five or ten years. Iran will be followed by Saudi Arabia and half a dozen other states, and eventually the world will bristle with unstable governments armed with nuclear warheads.

How does India see its long-term security in such a world? Can deterrence be reliable as the number of nuclear-armed states grows? How will an Anglosphere bloc deal with such threats?

Posted by: David Billington at March 14, 2006 08:56 AM

>>"I don't think the current NPT regime can or should be enforced against India, which for other reasons deserves to be treated as a nuclear partner if general nuclear disarmament is not practical. But the NPT is heading for a train wreck if it is inevitable that Iran will go nuclear in the next five or ten years. Iran will be followed by Saudi Arabia and half a dozen other states, and eventually the world will bristle with unstable governments armed with nuclear warheads."

A few more confusing facts here,
Pakistan does not want iran to have nuclear weapons. Why you may ask?
Its a prestige issue, Pakistani intellectuals
(well those on AryDigital) claim that having
the bomb gives them respect in islamic states.
That may be true, but pakistani bomb is essentialy
a chinese weapon.(some speculation is pakistan
doesnt have a uranium based design but plutonium
weapons...which would mean the weapon itself
came from china.)
Saudi Arabia has no industrial capacity.
nothing. If saudis want any weapon they have
to buy it. Now going back to the prestige arguement, its unlikely that pakistanis
would be able to give them a weapon.
& equaly unlikely saudis will be able to use them.
After iran, it is egypt or turkey that has a
reasonable industry that can make such weapons.

>>"How does India see its long-term security in such a world? Can deterrence be reliable as the number of nuclear-armed states grows? How will an Anglosphere bloc deal with such threats? "
How india will deal is to develop better missile
and then go with better relations with the country.
How anglosphere will see it as damn sub alterns
Effing up everything, just like the economists.

Posted by: ggk at May 8, 2006 12:36 PM
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