Will India Go Woke?
In the global ideological battle over “wokeness”, India is the big prize.
The magisterial book Snakes in the Ganga: Breaking India 2.0 is the definitive guide to the Indian front in the world wokeness wars. Written by veteran Indian-American culture warrior Rajiv Malhotra with Vijaya Viswanathan, the 800-page Snakes in the Ganga is really three books in one. The first book-within-a-book outlines how woke intellectual fashions like critical race theory have been applied to India by scholars based in the United States, many of them of Indian origin and most of them with an activist axe to grind. The second book details the Harvard nexus, explaining how Harvard University shapes the world’s vision of India by running it through a woke American lens. The third book follows the money, demonstrating that much of the campaign to undermine India’s national institutions is ultimately funded by Indian billionaires, with help from Gulf Arabs and the Communist Party of China.
You can now read my extended review of Snakes in the Ganga outside the paywall on Quadrant Online at:
In the global ideological battle over “wokeness”, India is the big prize. It has an enormous population, a growing economy, a free marketplace for ideas, and an English-speaking media. American ideas that fail to pass the language barrier into Chinese (to say nothing of passing the Great Firewall into China itself) easily pass the culture barrier into India. There they find fertile soil, both because of the general receptiveness of Indian culture to new ideas and because of the continuing high prestige of American institutions. The free world has only recently gained India back from the brink of Soviet-aligned post-colonial socialism, and although the country is safe from Chinese influence, it is just as vulnerable to subversive ideologies as any other open society—and maybe more so. Many Western strategists still lament the loss of China to communism in 1940s. Much worse might be to lose India to wokeism today.
In other India news, I recently recorded an interview with Carthik Annayan to launch his new podcast, “Curious Diaries”. I had the honor of being Carthik’s first guest, and honestly, I think this is the best interview I’ve ever done — aside from my interview with Rajdeep Sardesai (you can’t beat Rajdeep!). Please join me in launching Carthik’s podcast at:
Carthik and I led off with the implications of the Ram Mandir consecration, but went on to discuss Indian agriculture, regional development in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and of course the future of democracy. It was a great conversation. I enjoyed it immensely, and I trust you will too.
On a lighter note, Tay Tay is coming to town! Many of you may be unaware that since June 2020 I have written a humor column for Quadrant magazine under the heading “The Philistine”. This January’s “Philistine”, now out from behind the Quadrant paywall, honors the cultural beacon that is Taylow Swift.
I hope that everyone is in good spirits, but if you do happen to be feeling down, just take Tay Tay’s advice and “shake it off, shake it off”.
The Salvatore Babones newsletter will return!