March of the Evil Empires!
English versus the feudal languages!!
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
First drafted in 1989. First online edition around 2000
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Part 2 - Delineation of a feudal language nation
15. The miscellaneous affects
Techniques of leadership
There is a very mean, and at the same time, very effective technique used by feudal language persons in India, to achieve an acknowledgment of leadership or social dominance. Actually, the underlying principle of leadership, that a leader is one who has a follower, is a continuing theme in this practice of social dominance. The technique is to arrange a lot of low calibre persons around them, in a constant pose of bowing, and continuously uttering the words Saar, Maadam, -Ji, Chettan, Chechi, Saab, Memsaab etc.
This social atmosphere actually impresses the outer world and also intimidates some. This very efficiently establishes a sort of feudal aura around them. Their attributes go up in measurement. The problem comes when an outsider comes near this self-contained ‘bio system’. This outsider is psychologically forced to concede the same level of feudal respect, or else go in for a pose of assertiveness. The latter stance may not be possible unless, one has very obvious qualifications, and qualities, that the lower satellite-like guys can discern and acknowledge. The fact is that the whole social system of India is revolving around this intent of achieving a mini-social system around each individual to form a microscopic or macroscopic society, where one is the boss, and the person of indisputable dominance. Hence, the society at large is really a conglomeration of all these make-believe feudal systems, all of which try to find a place for themselves in a maze of comic pandemonium.
Towns and Cities of India
In areas where the language is feudal, there exists a non-tangible factor, which prohibits the easy communication between the different levels of individuals. Even persons, who are actually of comparable social standing, may not communicate with each-other unless some formal introduction of one is made to the other.
I have seen the effects of a wrong introduction, and its piercing impact on a person. One day, one of my acquaintances, who was a person with a good, respectable social-standing was involved in a Real Estate deal in the guise of Real Estate Agent. Though a person with sound social position, he had fallen into some pecuniary difficulties. So, he was doing some Real Estate dealings, as an agent to tide over the difficulties.
One of his friends, who was a rich man, told him to get a buyer for his property. One day he got a prospective buyer. Immediately, he called his friend, who told him to call his lawyer’s clerk who was in possession of the concerned documents, and get it for the buyer’s perusal. Next day, this man called the lawyer’s clerk. At that time, I was with him. I heard him making his request. I heard him fend a lot of inquiring questions, with the answer that he was the agent in this deal and hence he required the documents.
I literally saw the man flinch, on some verbal infliction. I don’t know exactly what the dialogue was, which had made him wince. However I could imagine it. In Kerala, in the Malayalam language, Real Estate agents don’t have a high standing in society. Most of them are considered to be illiterate, vagabonds (actually it is not so). The Advocate’s clerks do put on a big show of social prominence, because the advocates themselves try to put on an air of superiority. Generally in India, most Advocate’s clerks are low-quality persons.
This man, who made the call, looked slightly shaken, and told me that it is not possible to phone such persons without proper introduction. The next day I met the man again. He was beaming. He said that he had met the lawyer’s clerk, who was very apologetic and had told him that he had not known that it was he who had made the call.
In this case, there was a happy ending. However in all such impromptu interactions, there would neither be the time nor the patience to achieve a consoling finale.
Another example, I can relate is of a group of young men making a mud-cut road, through a paddy field to connect two main roads through a shortcut. Its other fringe benefit would be that all the persons who live in the vicinity would be near to both the main roads, and many would have the chance to bring four-wheelers to their houses. The general Real Estate value would also enhance. This incident happened some 20 years ago in a town where I was at that time resident. All the local people who were of similar social level agreed to lend help. Many of them surrendered a part of their land to make way for the road. At the end of the path, was the house of a senior military officer. He wasn’t on interacting terms with the local populace. In fact, he wouldn’t have entertained any of the young men to come and sit and discuss the issue of land surrender. Actually, when the young men made some attempts, they were, more or less, shooed away with nonchalance.
I am not aware of the ultimate ending of the story. Possibly, at some later date, an amicable agreement may have been reached. Yet, the above tale is recounted here to indicate the problem, which exists in this nation. It is not easy to sit and discuss with everyone; factors like age difference, financial soundness, family background, professional levels and many other things would discourage even the most minor of interaction, even if it for a most exigent matter.
There are many reasons why the cities and town of India are so horrible. Apart from the continuous filling of people from the interiors, the main reason is the lack of an intelligent, farsighted town-planning. Most of the persons who are involved in this endeavour do not communicate with the others, who also have power and say in town-planning. They do communicate in forced situations. However, that communication would be in a very unnatural setting. It is not just a matter of two individuals from two different departments interacting, but that in the presence of another third person, their manner and style of communication and relation metamorphosis into a strange one. Each person is at ease and comfort only with his own subordinates, who tender quiet obeisance to him.
The planning they do is in isolation to the ideas that are being planned at other ends. The end-result is a level of planning which exists in pitiable nonalignment and dislocation to the planning of so many others who are also involved in the process of planning. This factor is apart from the general lack of sincerity and the lingering carving for making as much money as possible, from any public work, for one’s own pocket, by the bureaucrats and their henchmen.
Even though I have dealt with this aspect in such a mild manner, it may be understood that this pathetic and wretched mentality is a continuing social software program code, that is causing havoc to the Indian Township planning. It may be understood that each township does not stand in solitary existence; but is in constant interaction with so many other townships, roads, vehicular traffic, schools, colleges, arrangements of sanitation etc.
When we are in this theme, let me slightly digress into the ancient towns of Harappa*, and Mohenjadaro*. There is a bitter contention going on in India, whether it was a Dravidian* Civilisation, or an Aryan* Civilisation. The North Indians consider themselves as Aryans, and the South Indians are called Dravidian.
One doesn’t know what the spoken language of these ancient cities that are generally called as of the Indus Valley Civilisation,* was. What I would like to put in here is that if the language of these cities had a non-feudal content like English, then the singularity of the town planning is natural. If the language was feudal, then the efficiency of the town planning is superimposed, and could point to a strong, centralised authority in the kingdom.
Here I would interject to say that all ancient civilisations need to be restudied on the basis of the feudal content in their languages. The exact extent of affect it had on the town planning, autocracy, people’s welfare, social stratification, affinity for violence etc. would need to be quantified.
Here I would interject and claim that if the language of the populace of, say, New York one day changes to some other language like Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, or even possibly Spanish, then the smooth flow of life and communication there, would cease. In its stead would come about a city, resembling Delhi, Bombay or some other equally messy cities. Suddenly the city would turn into a gutter, and all levels of neatness would disappear, with neat areas confined to places of exclusive affluence.
The incessant movement of population from villages to towns in India
I think this is the right point to initiate the discussion on the reasons for the migration of people from villages and small towns, where life is very peaceful, healthy and tension-free to big towns and cities, which are dirty and terribly congested.
Since ancient times, the Indian villages, and towns have in existed in a stagnant and resigned social monotony. Everyone was arranged in a hierarchy, which was forced by language, but sustained by caste, which was its own direct consequence. Everyone knew his place and station in society. With a feeling of hopelessness of any escape from these strings of hierarchy, one existed as a part of an ever-repeating pattern of social order. This hierarchy was not only in the society at large, but also inside the family, where one would have to position oneself in terms of age, lineage, wealth, seniority of one’s sons’ etc. However, even in historical times, there were places where one could escape from the tyranny of rank and position. These were the crowded cities and big towns. It afforded what an average fleeing person desperately sought for. And that was the anonymity that these jam-packed, bustling places extended. Here the strings that bore a man down socially would get broken. In spite of the appalling civic conditions, one achieves a sort of mental salvation.
Even now, I know many persons who crowd into Bombay, just to experience the mental freedom that the breakdown of feudal social bindings can offer. Yet there is still no complete sense of salvation, for one is forced to miss so many other aspects of life out there, and life is not easy. However one finds the vigour of the bustling crowds invigorating. In spite of all this, the feelings are only a serviceable substitute for the real sense of mental freedom that Indians could never envisage till the advent of the English language.
Here I have not taken into account the persons who also move city-ward searching for livelihood. However, this factor is also slightly connected with the feudal language factor. But that needs to be discussed in another area.
Generally, all cities in India, which had a lot of English-speaking population, would be very nice and reasonably well-planned. These cities then become the focus of the no-English speaking vernacular crowd, who then crowd into these cities. Naturally, even earlier to their arrival, there would be a definite number of persons of vernacular disposition living here. The new comers join them, and within a few years time, the highly dynamic, high energy clean looks of the city would be contaminated by a coarse-looking crowd who are the very opposite of the earlier crowd.
In a few years time, the city would have a dual look, with one part striving to continue the English atmosphere, with the other group trying to butt in. The English-speaking crowd then naturally maintain a discrete distance from the vernacular crowd, as the very social attitudes, and relationships are entirely different in the vernacular world. At times, their actions may even be described as snobbish. Here, I do not intend to mean that one is better than the other. I aim only to illuminate the social reactions.
Non-Sharing of knowledge
One of the funniest things about the subcontinent is that there was so much knowledge lying around in the ancient literature. In many arts and science, there was a lot of experience and information. Yet, the average common man never got to know about it, nor on hearing about it was given any chance to imbibe it.
Even though one may seek to explain all these on the basis of such factors as caste etc. the real understanding still would be found in the all-encompassing communication software in use, that is, the popular language. Let us again go to a Malayalam-speaking place. Imagine a motor workshop, run by a person with no formal education, and fully lacking in English. This workshop is a small social scene, with all the fundamentals of a feudal society. Here the owner of the concern exists as the feudal lord. All the other workers address him with formal, feudal respect, which may be in the form of Chettan, Annan, Achayan etc. all suffixed to the name of the owner. All the rest of the staff exist in varying level of social position, each of them being a chetttan to a lower level of persons, and at the same time existing in feudal homage to the person above them. The owner of the shop also, sees to it that the social scene is not disturbed by anybody inside or by any newcomer. For, it ensures a rigid line of control and command.
To the outside world this social system need not seem to be of any value. They can treat anyone as a person with rectitude and capacity. And interact with them to get their things done. However this action can severely undermine the whole social hierarchy in the workshop. This hierarchy survives in the constant display of dependence of the lower guys on the higher-level guys. At each and every juncture of repairing, the lower guy should publicly ask the opinion, or request the expertise of the senior person. This ensures a chance to address the senior person as chettan in front of the others, which in itself can forcefully convey the understanding of the social levels in the workshop. Now, all this can happen only if the lower person doesn’t genuinely have enough expertise.
So, it is a natural character of Indian society to see that others do not come up in expertise or life. No knowledge or information that can give an impetus to another man’s growth is shared. Recently, that is in December 2003, a Sanskrit University in India, brought out a interactive CD on Sama Veda*, the third in ranking among the four Vedas, the ancient scriptures of the Vedic period of the geographical region that now includes Pakistan, India, and nearby areas. Now let me quote from the newspaper report concerning this: “The University took a decision to provide the CDs only to educational institutions so as to prevent commercialisation of this ancient heritage.” A classical example of the continuation of the same mental paranoia that haunted the higher sections of the society of this geographical area, and disturbed them whenever a chance that the other sections of the society would get an access to any information that they had come by, has manifested itself.
Traditional carpenters in British-India. The English rulers did acknowledge that these people were quite skilled in architecture. As of now, the enforcement of compulsory formal education under insipid teachers has more or less removed this skill from the traditional carpentry households. In the feudal languages of the subcontinent, carpenters were not given a higher ranking.Picture: pazhayathu.blogspot.in
It is obviously an open secret than the dependant person should never have good expertise. Also, in such organisations, the employee’s level of social interaction and world knowledge should be comparable with his level of work and position in the organisation, and not above this level. Otherwise, it would be an uneasy situation for everybody, even at the level of communication. An employee, who has a lot of knowledge and capacity, may not be an ideal one, for the employer. For, the employer would like to exist as a sort of father figure, who should be able to advice the employee even at the minute levels, on many things, even unconnected to his work. An employee, who can do without it, may not show enough deference to the boss.
This when taken on a national level means that the majority population should never acquire the real expertise, and efficiency, or else a lot of senior citizens of the nation would lose their status of the towering personalities that they are reputed to be.
There is another side to this. All this open and obvious assertion of subjugation is always a bit tedious. Another side-effect of this would be the way others behave if one is acknowledged as an inferior. One has to put on very offensive or dominating attributes to fend off the subjugation attempts of others. It would spoil one’s natural pleasant poise.
It is always obvious to any person that it is only a matter of position and not of any other physical attributes that makes a man command feudal respect. In modern days anybody can be a boss. So, the thought on everyone’s mind is to seek a way to become a boss. It is a social necessity. Even if it otherwise is a nuisance to one’s other enjoyable activities. No one wants to work for another, if they can help it. For, here work is not doing a job. It is a feudal subjugation. Like wearing a yoke. Subjugation in Indian languages builds up feelings of insecurity.
The thousand Mutinies
One tends to think of means of breaking out on his own, and building a firm with oneself as the boss. In this regard, one may think of Indian history: Since ancient days, this history has been tales of intrigues; not just by enemies. But, more by one’s own people trying to overthrow the mantle of their kings and putting themselves in their position.
Nobody wants to be in second position. There was something stifling in being second. Not just the attitude of domination expressed by your senior, but the way others discriminate in expressed respect with reference to your seniors. Maybe a person might be content to be loyal to the persons who had given him the position, but then he would not like to subject himself to the discriminating language from his relatives, associates and also, successors.
Illustrations: Consider the situation of the ancient times in the subcontinent. A Sultan or king of Delhi captures Bengal*. He then comes home, and then assigns his son to be the governor of Bengal. The son goes to Bengal, and for one year, he has the free run of the province. He runs the place with efficiency. Everyone respects him and pays homage to him, all including the wise and the aged. For, he is the Governor.
Then, one fine morning, the king sends his aged Minister to see how things are over there in Bengal. The Minister arrives in Bengal as the king’s emissary, possibly without advance notice. He is an aged man, and also the king’s representative. He comes with two Aces. One he is aged, another that he is the sovereign’s agent. The Governor, though young, also has two Aces: he is the king’s son and he is the Governor. Though it is a friendly visit, if the Minister takes out his Aces, then he would dominate. For the factor of age is a very strong one. Especially when he is in the company of equally aged men. For, then he can easily refer to the Governor as a young man; and the indicant words would then go down. Usually when one senior man does it, all the other companions would take the cue. The old men who have for more than one year addressed and referred to the Governor with consistent respect and reverence, will in one stroke mentally bring the Governor to the level of a young, impetuous man. The results, if allowed to happen, would be disastrous for the Governor. He can sense the change in his stature in the eyes of the old men, in their eyes, in their demeanour, in their body language. In fact, he can sense it in the air.
At the same time, had the King’s emissary played out his role as a subservient of the young Governor, things would have gone beautifully. This is also possible. But, both the men involved are influenced by many other factors, which mainly include the others in their society, whose every word can affect each person’s mental condition and set of bizarre reactions.
If the former thing happen, it is possible that the next day, the king’s emissary’s head is on a pole and the king’s flag is down. The king’s son’s flag will be fluttering in the wind. He declares himself as an independent sovereign.
This illustrative story may seem a bit far-fetched. But in fact, the mental conditions that have run the course in this incident are an ever repeating factor in many social scenes in the subcontinent. It is my belief that in the Battle of Plassey * also, a minor part was played by this mental software program. It ran on in the minds of Sirajul-daullah*, the young Sultan of Murshidabad and those of his relatives, in Bengal. Many other negative factors and social software codes ran their course to bring about the victory of Robert Clive. These negative factors colluded with the positive software codes on the British side. The main positive factor on the British side was their language.
A humorous story: There is a story I heard when I was in Delhi. I was told that it pertains to Malayalees, who are known as fortune-hunters in the neighbouring states. However I think this story may very well describe persons from a lot many feudal language states, and nations.
One day a man went to the fishing harbour in Mangalore. He wanted to buy crabs. In the fish landing harbour, he saw five buckets of freshly caught live crabs. Four of the buckets were closed tightly, and one was kept open. In the open one, he saw the struggling crabs. He then asked the seller, why four buckets were kept closed. He said that they contained live crabs, and if they are kept open, they will all run away. Then the man asked why one bucket was not closed, even though this also contained live crabs. Then the other man said, ‘Oh, they are Malayalee crabs’! Meaning that when one tries to climb out, the others would catch and pull it back.
Many English travellers may have remarked at the general atmosphere of dynamism and boisterousness found on the roads and market places in Asian Countries. There would be a lot more cheerfulness on the faces of the people on the road in comparison to the persons in, say England.
Yet, if anybody takes this as an evidence of a robust mental atmosphere in the Asian countries, then they are sadly mistaken. Their surmise is only based on a façade. This cheerfulness is actually the result of the feeling of sublime happiness, on being out of the confines of the terrible and stifling atmosphere at home or office.
In this case I can give an illustration: I have compared children who are always travelling and seeing places and people, with children who rarely move out of the house. I have noticed that children who are regularly going out do not display any special cheerful demeanour. At the same time, children who rarely go out, once they do get an opportunity, do display a most boisterous, and energetic actions on the road and in the vehicles. For them the tiny amount of freedom, they could garner is something to be festive about.
The same psychology applies to the market place, the loud hotel waiter, the boisterous students, the fist punching procession etc. They all enjoy a chance to exercise a bit of freedom that is otherwise not allowed in ordinary decent circumstances. All of them are persons who cannot sit and talk in a decent and dignified posture to their parents, teachers, superiors, elders, strangers, customers etc.
A strange matter on dressing standards
The typical Malayalee takes pride in declaiming that his traditional dress is the white mundu. This is a white cloth worn around the lower half of the body. When one is engaged in any activity, including walking, this cloth is folded at its middle and the lower part is now worn round on the upper part of the mundu. For, it is not easy to do one’s activities when the lower part is hanging down loosely.
Now, this dress also, serves to emphasise the feudal structure of the language and society. When a superior person comes into one’s presence, it is obligatory to unfold one’s mundu, and stand in a sort of slightly bent figure. The severity of the bent depends on how much servility one is willing to concede. Now, this action is really a nuisance, and many persons really have real disinclination to do it. Some persons, when they really want to impress another social or positional superior, do this with a real, and evident enthusiasm.
The problem with this action comes, in another instance. Suppose two persons of equal seniority come into a junior’s presence. He willing does this unfolding to one of them, due to many reasons of respect, obligation, need to appease, flatter etc. To the other man, who though senior, but not in a position to be of any significance to the junior, he does not do the unfolding. The affect is just as in the use of the feudal language. The junior has placed the two persons in two social levels, with regard to him, and also for the understanding of the by-standing society.
Another problem is when for a limited number of initial occasions, a junior does this very obvious, yet tiresome, gesture of unfolding of the mundu. Later on he finds it a bother, and either ignores the passing senior, or calmly pretends to not see a need to do it. Both actions could be mentally disturbing to both of them, with severe affects.
When speaking to government officials, all ordinary citizens have to definitely unfold their mundu. The bending of the head automatically comes, along with this action. If one does not do this unfolding of the mundu, getting his official papers from the official would be quite difficult. If this unfolding is not done in the presence of a police official, in all probability he would get slapped.
The weakening of a people
It was seen by English historians that there was something about South Asian peninsular region that weakened the people. They found that strong races from outside India, once they settled in this location, lost their former grandeur and strength. People who came from races, which had overrun the whole of central Asia, once they became natives of this location, lost their power to repeat the same feat again. Various theories have been put forward to explain this. Some of the English historians blamed the weather, which was considered hot. Some said it was because the Indian philosophies affected them. Some claimed it was because Indians were vegetarians. However the real explanation lies in the feudal languages of the location.
Let us take the case of the Muslim conquerors who came from outside. They came with fierce ideologies of equality and brotherhood, which itself lend to the cause of unity and commonness of purpose. They remained strong as long as they kept aloof from the local culture and language. The moment they settled down and started adopting the local languages and behavioural pattern, division and sense of insecurity crept into them. Once the individual had to mingle with the native crowd on a level of equality, these problems magnified. And once localised, the whole system in an environment of severe communication gap, where every person is under pressure to act impulsively to protect the respectability of his own position, declined and deteriorated.
As a slight digression, I may point out another feature. It was generally found that when the famed Arabian horses are brought into this peninsular region and reared, their progeny does lose the superb features of their ancestors. Do you think it is the weather that is causing that? Now, you would be think that the author has lost his mental balance to claim that it is due to the feudalism in the local, human languages that cause this deterioration. Well, no comments now.
One of the main reasons why the British rule in around half the locations in the subcontinent did not suffer much on this account was that the British did not become local. They maintained their difference. They with absolute belief in the superiority of their systems only tried to bring the locals to their levels. One of the greatest steps in this regard was the introduction of the English language.
Yet, the impact of the negative language social codes must have created terrible mental agony for the British men and women who lived in here. This aspect will be dealt with at a later stage, when the topic moves back into the international scene.