What is entering?
7. Desperate attempts to stretch a string of dubious connection
It might be true that there is no specific ethnicity that can be defined as ‘Indian’. That is, from a perspective of ethnic antiquity, the word ‘Indian’ might have no meaning, and its use to define an ethnic group can be a misnomer. And the words ‘India’ and ‘Indian’ can also be for doubtful meaning historically. (Incidentally, the word ‘Indian’ is also used to define the native-populations of the American Continent. That is another item altogether.)
I will not pursue the above ideas here as of now.
I intend to list out the various peoples of Malabar, north and south. Before doing that I need to mention that there is a non-tangible and yet extremely powerful framework upon which the peoples of this location are arranged in various kinds of attachments and repulsions to each other. I will focus upon that later.
What the English Company encountered or dealt with or even set upon to develop in Malabar was not a single set of population. Instead it was a series of populations, each having its own unyielding antipathies and attractions to various others.
The underlying social coding that I would describe here about Malabar need not be exactly the same all over South Asia of those times. For, the peoples would be quite different in most locations. In spite of this difference, there would be a definite streak of commonality all over the place. This can be discerned only by those who know what to look for.
The majority population of Madras and thereabouts are extremely dark-skinned. The place location is also quite hot. However, in various locations in the northern parts of the subcontinent, for example around Delhi, the climate oscillates between unbearable hot temperatures and that of freezing cold, depending upon the season. Yet, the native people there are not jet-black.
Gujarathi, Bengalis, Biharis, Kashmiris, Tamilians, Malabaris, Kannadigas, Travancoreans, Rajasthanis, Assamese and many more, all do look different from each other. Actually each one of these peoples might have different and mutually unconnected antiquities.
Yet, as of now, all of them are generally known as ‘Indians’. It is like the case of Ben Kingsley, the British actor. He is claimed to be half-Indian. That is done, by looking at the current-day name of the native-land of his parents. The parents actually might have an antiquity going beyond the borders of South Asia.
If the parents had pondered upon their own nationality in their own life-time, they would have found no reason to feel that they are of the same nationality as of those who claim Ben Kingsley to be of half their ethnicity. For instance, would Ben Kingsley’s parents feel that they are of the same stock as of Travancoreans, Tamilians, Bengalis, Assamese, Kashmiris, Jats, Kannadigas &c.?
It is doubtful.
This much I wrote to create a background to what I am aiming to elucidate upon.
The English Company did not actually have any reason to bring about a feeling that they were creating a nation out of a common stock of people. Outside the subcontinent, the nation they created must have been known as ‘India’. However, inside the subcontinent, the word used was ‘British-India’.
The word ‘British-India’ is seen very clearly mentioned in books like Native Life in Travancore (London Missionary Society), Malabar and Anjengo District Gazetteers (British Indian publication), Travancore State Manual (Travancore kingdom government publication) &c. It was used to denote the existence of a different nation just beyond the borders. This is an item on which I would need to write a little bit more. That can be taken up later.
However, see these quotes:
1. The road, already described, cuts the mountain saddle at its lowest point, and connects it to British India. _Travancore State Manual Vol 1
2. The final Census was taken partly on the night of the 26th February 1891, and partly on the morning of the 27th idem, as a night Census throughout the State as in British India was specially difficult and even impossible in a State like Travancore on account of the wildness of the country and the peculiarly isolated condition of the bulk of its houses, more than 80 per cent of which are situated within enclosures. _Travancore State Manual Vol 2
3. The Syrian, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Christians jointly form as large a proportion of the population as the Malayalam Sudras, yet being admitted to no department where they have political influence, able men are driven for employment to British India. _Native Life in Travancore
4. The Travancore Census Report for 1901 mentions eight sub-divisions among Variyars, but these do not appear to exist in British Malabar. _Malabar and Anjengo District Gazetteers
What the English Company saw and experienced in Malabar was not only a multitude of kingdoms, but also a huge series of populations inside each kingdom.
To mention the peoples of each kingdom as that of, for instance, Kolathunad, Kadathanad, Kozhikode, Walluvanad &c. would be a totally inadequate way of defining a person or a people. For, inside each one of these kingdoms, there were different populations held in immutable social positions, each with its own independent aspirations and hostilities, in ways not imaginable in England.
Modern Indian jingoistic history writings might skim over these realities, in a desperate attempt to stretch a string of dubious connection to a heritage that is known as the Vedic culture.
It is doubtful if the majority populations of not only Malabar, but even of modern-day Pakistan, India and Bangladesh do have any tangible connection to the so-called Vedic period population. This is also another item I will have to clarify. That can be done later.