Books Indians Should Read -Chapter one – part 1 (Post N.8430)


Post No. 8430

Date uploaded in London – – – 31 July 2020   

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Books Indians Should Read

Chapter one – part 1
  The Clash of Civilizations

R. Nanjappa

Newspapers remain our main source of information on current affairs. However, not all of them are objective. Many represent some vested interests. They select the “news” they highlight and opinions and angles they project. They often mix news and views and so subtly try to influence public opinion. Our leading newspapers like The Hindu and The Times of India have of late become undisguisedly leftist, which do not give adequate space for differing views. [I have been a reader of Hindu for over 60 years, and of Times of India for over 40] They suppress or oppose the voice of Indian nationalism, and paint it in bad light. They adopt an openly anti-Hindu stance in the name of secularism, while not hesitating to exploit Hindu sentiments for their own profit!

Perhaps the biggest problem with newspapers is that they are shortsighted and obscure the long term perspectives. In the hunt for sensation, they suppress sense. They offer opinions, and not ideas. It is difficult to follow any event fully, or understand any issue adequately, on the basis of coverage in our newspapers. 

Books are necessary

It is therefore necessary for us to read books by knowledgeable writers. They may be academics, journalists or regular commentators or other public figures or interested writers. We may or may not agree with their views, or interpretation, but we may at least learn the facts. There are a few books which  are essential reading for Indians to appreciate the general socio-economic problems and trends as they emerge in the world, and affect India too in important ways.

Rise of the West: world through Western eyes

India and China were the leading lights of the world economy, contributing more than 70% of world GDP till the 18th century. But Europe has been on the ascendant from the middle of the 17th century, conquering and colonising the world. This happened on a wave of scientific advancement, technological innovations,  geographical discoveries, commercial exploitation of other peoples and their subjugation by military, religious and cultural imperialism.  The West imposed their interpretations on our history and culture, religion and philosophy. It is generally the Western way of economics and politics that prevails in the whole world today: separation of religion and state, secularisation of life, rising market economy and consumerism, etc. In the second half of the last century, many colonies became politically free, but continued with the same Western economic and cultural influences in the name of ‘modernisation’. Western ideas became global phenomenon, long before we knew of economic globalization.

West and East

The 20th century saw two challenges to Western hegemony in the form first of Soviet Union, and then Communist China. Though circumstances forced the US (and the democratic West) and USSR to be alongside each other in the Second World War, the world soon descended into the Cold War. With the collapse of the USSR, the cold war ended, the former USSR territory has disintegrated into fifteen independent countries.   

[ Alphabetically, the countries are: Armenia, Azerbaijan,Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, (11), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbeksitan ] CC BY-SA 3.0 creative commons via Wikimedia commons.

China has emerged as an economic giant, adopting principles of capitalist production while continuing as a communist power. How do such matters affect India, which is also rising as an economic power?

Clash of Civilizations

Book Cover: 2016 Reprint

These issues are dealt with in this book. The author was a professor of political science at Harvard, and a thinker. Written in 1996, the book continues to be relevant today, as many of the developments anticipated in the book have actually taken place! 

The basic argument of Huntington is simple enough. The existence of the communist bloc had provided us the image of a world divided into the Democratic/Capitalist West and the Communist East. The collapse of the USSR has suddenly shown that the above division was but a temporary phase in the march of world history, dominated as it was by ancient civilizations!

Before the rise of colonial West, the world was divided on the basis of civilizations, and they all lived together. Colonialism imposed a different order but with its collapse, the old divisions are raising their head! Similarly, the Soviet Union controlled several ethnic-language-civilizational groups; with its collapse the old divisions have sprung into life again, dividing the countries and people along ethnic, religious and linguistic lines. For instance, the former Yugoslavia alone has split into seven countries along religious and ethnic lines! [Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo. This is the power of civilizations Huntington speaks of! 70 years of brutal communist suppression could not stamp out the old civilizational instincts of the people under the USSR!]

                            To be continued

tags — books, Indians, read,


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