Global Politics & Cultures (formerly Independent Thought & Freedom)
Episode 135

Understanding and Misunderstanding India: Religion, Politics, Society w/Kapil Kumar & Rajiv Malhotra

Kirk Meighoo published on

A Story Club: Global Cultures S1 E4
streamed live on FB from the US (San Francisco), India (Dehra Dun) and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, Thursdays 12pm EDT | 9am PDT | 9:30pm IST

Are Indians racist toward darker coloured peoples than themselves, such as Africans? If so, is this because of caste?

Is Hindu + Muslim Kashmir an oppressive nationalist aspiration, or has there always existed cultural and religious diversity in Jammu & Kashmir, which has been dangerously misanalysed by the rest of the world?

Is the tradition, discipline and the culture of India justly viewed as oppressive by liberals around the world? Or is their understanding of Indian culture deeply ethnocentric and imperialist?

It is not often recognised that India was liberal long before the 19th century ideology of “liberalism” was invented. Indian societies fostered plurality and diversity of thought and action, providing refuge for persecuted people around the world, from the Zoroastrians of ancient Persia (who are extinct elsewhere, including their homeland) to the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

These subtle cultural differences and philosophies can be difficult for Westerners to understand politically, even as they increasingly embrace yoga and meditation, as Indian CEOs become more common in leading Western multinationals, Indian immigrants play a large part in countries around the world, and Indian music, movies, food and culture are increasingly present.

East, West and Southeast Asia have long been influenced by and interacted with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Indian civilization from ancient times to the present.

At the same time others have misunderstood, and sometimes deliberately distorted, key aspects of Indian society, including caste, nationalism, “Hindu fundamentalism”, “paganism/polytheism/idol worship”, the Kashmir issue, and relationships with other religions and peoples, including Muslims.

What are some of the most important misunderstandings and distortions of these issues in the Western media, academia, and foreign policy-making? 

Why do such misunderstandings exist? How can these be dispelled?
Join me, Dr. Kirk Meighoo, along with my distinguished guests Rajiv Malhotra and Professor Kapil Kumar, as we have a lively and enlightening discussion about these issues on “A Story Club: Global Cultures” Thursday 20 August 2020 at 12pm EDT / 9am PDT / 9:30pm IST.

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