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War and South India November 17, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in history, india.
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Another excellent article by Rama Guha :

Malavalli has been untouched by war for the past 200 years; so, in fact, has the whole of South India. This fact needs to be more carefully pondered by professional historians as well as by ordinary citizens. For, of which other part of India, or indeed of the world, could one say that two centuries have passed since the cannons boomed and the tanks roared? In this respect we South Indians have been very fortunate indeed.

This is not a novel thought certainly – maybe Guha himself must have said it before. I remember reading something along these lines a few years ago in one of Naipaul’s essays. Naipaul’s writings of India don’t have too great a reputation, but could someone have got everything wrong ? ๐Ÿ™‚ (especially if Naipaul and Guha agree on something ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

I wanted to mention this while the North-South debate came up briefly – that the north has repeatedly borne the brunt of violence in the Indian sub-continent , especially external aggressions. But the relative disorder, the relatively large impoverished masses, the caste complexities, the relatively eroded human capital over decades – this is the price that part of India has had top pay. Not altruism but in self-defence one might argue, but I think this has been some sort of a positive externality for the South. This is not of course to defend any racial discrimination either way, but an acknowledgment that there are a few fundamental differences between South and parts of the North. Not all of these differences matter all the time, but some of them matter some of the time.

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