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RE: Kingdoms, India and Hope

30th September, 2010

Nice to be part of a blogersation, I say. Blogersation, you ask? Blogersation = Blog + Conversation! If you think I made this baqwaas (crap) up, just do a Google search and see that I’m amongst the first 350 to use it.

(I wanted to hide the fact that if you search for Bloggersation instead, I’m one of the first 3420. Shucks. I’ll stick with the one that gives me better credo).


Jama Masjid, built in the 17th Century

Jama Masjid


Anyways, it’s with fellow theme-mate Vishal and especially his post Kingdoms, India and Hope, which he wrote in reply to my post Kingdoms Vs. Nation-States. His article is wonderfully written, with subtle jabs at just about everything (he’s derided the US and poked at Raj Thackeray, atta boy!). Just like an IM chat that you swoop in on, I suggest you read up his post before you continue. 🙂

Dear Vishal,

I get it. You’re good at your history. You gave us a little revision of the grand empires that ruled parts of India (the Mauryans, Guptas and Mughals, in order) and talked a bit more about their administrative systems:

… all three largely appointed the most talented individuals to the top echelons of administrative hierarchy. Wisdom and skill were widely applauded and rewarded.

They had an administration that was so strong that some empires (the Guptas) lasted more than 500 years. Compare that to India’s existence as a nation-state for a measly 63 years, and you get to understand the gravity of the problem they solved.

Was it all rosy then? Probably not. The definition of “fair” changed often, and laws could be easily amended for the benefit of one person. I’ll take the caste system as a good example of how a system can eventually do more harm.

(On a separate note, Gurcharan Das thinks that the caste system helped generations and generations of traders build up a keen instinct of money-making and risk-taking, something that has helped Indians in this globalized world. More on his NY Times article: The Next World Order.)

Are We Better Now?

Clearly, we have a more meritocratic system (I’m not saying that it’s complete). I really like the way you summarized this:

Top Indian bureaucrats are recruited by an independent agency. And they really are close to the best brains the country has. … But, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Even the best fall prey to the dark side (Star Wars reference 🙂 ). We can’t restrict this to the government alone – it’s equally prevalent in the corporate world. (After hearing stories from a friend, a sales rep in a pharmaceutical company, my jaws dropped to below the sea level.)

On the other hand, you’ve managed to convince me that there still are enough of the best willing to join the government. I presumed they all joined investment banks or law firms. (This opinion was entirely formed by watching movies). The entrance exam to the Indian government (UPSC) is brutal: a phenomenal amount of preparation is required to gain access to the doors of the IAS (Indian Administrative Service).

That is a good thing.

What About Tomorrow?

Can we get better at what we’re doing? Can we eliminate the hiccups on our way to become a grand nation?

For that you answered with a mind-blowing reference to the normal distribution. We are getting better, and there’s more of getting better in the future. After a point, we’ll reach an equilibrium, a peak, but would be followed by a period of decline.

The question isn’t about elitism in the administrative system, whether in the past or even today, but about adjusting and re-adjusting as we grow towards the equilibrium. For that we need smart people, but are not hopeless without all of them. Our goal would be to fasten that wait for (as well as elongate) the equilibrium period.

The period that our history books describe the empires of yester-years with – “the Golden Age of India.”

Photo Credit: Rohit Markande

10 Comments leave one →
  1. 1st October, 2010 1:38 PM

    Fairly awesome, I say. And lovely conclusion too. You have elaborated very well on the lengthy article!

    Discussing Caste requires a book to be written. In short, I would suggest that what we see at present in the caste system, wasn’t even remotely intended by its originators. Like Islam, Hinduism needs its own debate on its core tenets as well.

    • 1st October, 2010 5:19 PM

      *sniff* *sniff*. Thank you. Thank you very much. I’m really touched. Moved. [Though all I did was paraphrase you!]

      You know, how about a post on the Caste System? I have strong opinions on that one! Waddya say, my boy?

  2. Vishal permalink
    2nd October, 2010 8:37 PM


    Not a bad idea. Will you go first? I can write supporting or refuting your arguments, as I see fit. And moreover, due to increasing workload, it may get little delayed from my side.

    • 13th October, 2010 7:22 AM

      Sure macha. May the best post win! Hehe!

  3. 8th October, 2010 1:16 PM

    Okay, I’ll have to bookmark this to read later. But for now, I have to be brazen enough to request your vote for my post at Indiblogger:

  4. gooriddidable permalink
    29th December, 2010 10:35 PM


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  5. Giggity giggity permalink
    14th September, 2011 6:18 PM

    My 2 and a half cents..

    A good post I should say. The credit for the post should be shared between you and Vishal in unequal proportions by the way 😉 Who gets the largest chunk of the pie is anyone’s guess 🙂
    The Normal Distribution reference was neat. I tried miserably to come up a curve reference which would hypothesize that we would be in an upward curve always (Something along the lines of an Exponential curve); but failed miserably 😦

    Anyhow; not sure if you guys have written something on the Caste system?


    • 15th September, 2011 11:21 PM

      Ha! I think you should follow where the seeds were sown. Vishal, you’re the man.

      Also, I have to ask: “Giggity giggity”? What made you think of such a name?

      Write something on the caste system? I think that’s Vishal’s cup of tea. Will ask him!

      Thanks for dropping by, GG!

  6. Giggity Giggity permalink
    16th September, 2011 2:28 AM

    Why did i choose this name?

    Need I say more? 🙂

    Look forward for something on the caste system..


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