Jun 182012

Sanjay Barua, makes some very interesting points on Europe, Continent building & Leadership and why Europe needs a Dr.Ambedkar

what was most frightening was the absence of a shared “narrative” in Europe about the crisis it finds itself in. There is no shared story about why Europe is where it is. Consequently, there is no possibility of a shared vision of not just how to move, but which direction to go in.

On the demands of the States v/s the Needs of the Federation

For today’s India, the European situation is an early warning. When “national” policy becomes hostage to “regional” interests, the “federal” government becomes paralysed and would be unable to act in the larger national interest. Something like this is happening in Europe. The interests of individual member states have become impediments to a continent-wide response


Europe’s crisis of confidence has occurred before the “idea of Europe” has been able to strike adequately deep emotional roots

And finally

The challenge for the EU is to find its Ambedkar. It needs a constitution that will enable a continental political leadership to offer continent-wide solutions to a continent-wide problem. Europe needs emotional unity as much as it needs a new strategy for generating employment in a globally competitive way.


All in all a thought provoking piece.

Except that European states and prinicipalities have spent the better part of the last millenium at each others throats. The visceral hatred was not just that of the rulers but of the people. Ancient India too was disunited, its kings routinely fought with each other – but by and large the people were kept insulated from hatred or indeed warfare.

There were of course places of worship that people visited across Bharatvarsha, but the Europeans had those too. People would travel to see the churches where saints were interred or look up other places with religious symbolism, or pass through nations on route to the Vatican. Much has been made of the role of Sanskrit spoken by the priests and the rulers – but the Europeans first had Latin and then French served the purpose.

So it isn’t language, nor is it religion. It can’t be nationality because that came into play less than a 100 years ago. It wasn’t culture – culturally the French and the British have more in common that possibly  the Tamils and the Telegus – so the only thing remains is the fact that the affairs of the rulers did not permate down to the people. Which is one of the reasons why regional identity bothers me. I know it is important, i know we need to have pride in it – but when does  it become antithetical to the whole ?

  6 Responses to “Europe, India and lessons to learn”

  1. This is exactly what they wondered at Maastricht in 1992…apparently, they sent a team to India to understand its dynamics. But a point or two…

    1. Europeans didn’t hate each other – that was reserved for the advent of Protestantism, making the 30-years war the most bitter and devastating war in European history (more than World War II, in proportion)

    2. I doubt Sanskrit was widely spoken, or for that matter Latin after the fall of Rome (even in the Empire, not everyone spoke Latin!). They were ceremonial languages, and sure, officials spoke them, but the man on the street spoke his/her own vulgar tongue. Language is an absolute no-no to imagine a pan-European identity.

    3. A fierce regional identity is built on opposition – giving primacy to Hindi over Tamil would make Tamilians feel more tightly knit, or making Bombay a part of Gujarat would have made Maharashtrians feel an acute loss. However, being Hindu does not interfere with being Tamil or Maharashtrian, and hence those identities can coexist. Question is, how much friction does one identity face from another? Then a choice may have to be made…

  2. a) oh yes they did. especially the British and the French. The English and the Spanish. The Spanish & the Portuegese. The Prussians and the Hungarians. If we strip aside the ‘nations’ and look at the kingdoms – their people hated each other. You are right, it was religion – didn’t want to bring it in here but… It was the principal of Divine Right. Caste prevented that from taking place in “india’. the King was King, god was god. adn the king took case of he who talked to god ie, the priest. In a way the rigid caste system prevented social contact but also kept hate confined. One day, India will grow up and have a conversation on caste -maybe in my next life or the one after.
    2) agreed. both were the language of the elite. and elite were linked thro’ priests, language and marriage.
    3) Don’t disagree on that either – but where is the lakshman rekha? One of the things that has been bothering me on the presidential elections has been the demand for waiver by WB and UP in exchnage for support. it is a terrible precedent. One day that kind of blackmail (not negotiation) will lead to the unravelling of India. Interest of states important. but, interest of India first. Else have a referandum on divorce 😀

  3. a (since “1.” is not cool enough for you!): Thoroughly confused – how does Divine Right make the people (third, not second, estate) of one nation hate another? It worked for Diocletian!

    3. I don’t think that has anything to do with identity…it is a pure power play. Do you really want me to quote a tweet by some person whose handle is “calamur”? :-)

  4. aah – they are the devil. your monarch is god. they oppose your monarch – they are, ergo, godless. Hate them because they will sacrifice your babies, sell your women and put your immortal soul in trouble (or something)

    3. 😀 at the top level yes. but the narrative sold to the foot soldiers is different …:(

  5. So we are discussing what the second estate SELLS the third estate. Okay, glad to have parameters squared away.

    aah (you keep changing, from “1.” to “a.” to “aah”!): That assumes the population to be too political. I strongly suspect this was not the case as then we would see a lot more resistance movements in territories that were routinely swapped due to war, marriage, to settle gambling debts or points of honour… Commoners hated all nobility, their own just a smidgen less.

  6. This is silly.

    The problem of vision and associated nonsense is imagined in someone’s head. The simple difference is — the independent states that have a fiscal union do not have the same budgetary rules; or worse, an enforcer of any rules. As a result, the natural mechanism of a currency float becomes meaningless.

    If anything, this is analogous is a very limited way to America of the 19th Century — where the Fed in New York and the Fed in CA issues different $ bills and they weren’t always the same value. Comparing it to India, and then to argue about detrimental impact of regional interests is outstandingly stupid, as it is moronically self-important.

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