Monthly Archives: May 2014

To Rebuild We Must Rebrand

rebrand

Bifurcation has come at great cost to the people of undivided Andhra, not only financial and culturally, but reputationally.

The TRS propaganda machine exacerbated divisions by sowing suspicion and mongering grievance. This created the requisite atmosphere of discord for splitting the state. In the process, however, the nation itself has now become familiar with some of these stereotypes and has not altogether rejected them. We have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Damage has been done.

All this, of course, in an environment where Delhiite variety ignorance already views Telugu speakers as cookie cutter Madrasis (a trope that our Tamilian brothers are only too happy to perpetuate with their frequent declaration of “South Indian” this and that). But the truth of the matter is, we must take our requisite share of blame, for despite being excellent businessmen, the people of Andhra have been terrible marketers.

First and foremost, we have repeatedly allowed outsiders to define us (and then separate us) first with the foreign-derived Telangana label, then with the Madrasi/Dravidian colonial line, and then the generic bollywood South Indian. While there is nothing wrong in being associated with the South, which, let’s face it, is undeniably the most cultured part of India; at the same time, 80 million people should be confident enough to assert their own identity and polish it–this is the importance of Push and Pull Marketing.   Andhras have failed at both.

Push marketing is assertively ensuring that people understand your distinctiveness through identification and repetition. If your North Indian friends and acquaintances keep referring to you as South Indian, you must emphasize that you have your own identity and they should pay you the courtesy of being aware of it. After all, Bengalis don’t appreciate being referred to as North Indian–why should Andhras, with the reciprocal? Similarly, we don’t say “North Indian-Rajasthani” just “Rajasthani”. There’s something inherently disrespectful and step-brotherly about even the national press discussing cross-cultural marriages of Indians as “Gujarati and South Indian”. Arey baba, which state?…

First Anti-Hindi Agitation Remembered by Tamils:                                                   “You will Speak our Language and you better like it!!!!”

Our Tamilian friends–God bless ’em– are masters at this. Through their impressive love of language and pride in culture, they have been able to overshadow our brand (in fact, until recently with “IT gulti” snipes, we didn’t have much of one) despite our outnumbering them by well over a crore (80 million to 65 million). While they have been very successful at promoting awareness, there is another angle. Our jokes about “Arama aaghaayathyam” aside (Tamil friends, please bear with me and keep reading; I will make up for this), it must be noted that their brand of marketing has had a negative side and fallout: Dravidian separatism and perception as irascible (for all our faults, we Andhras are not guilty of this). As such, pull marketing becomes equally if not more important to ensure positive brand imaging.

Pull marketing deals with attractiveness. In strategic terms, it is what international relations scholar Joseph Nye refers to as “Soft Power“.  The culture itself, whether through language, art, dance, music, literature, geography, history or cuisine, must be magnetic enough to not only retain the loyalties and interest of its own ranks, it must be able to reach out and positively draw in interest from others. Thus, to have a strong brand, it is not enough to merely shove images in peoples face and gain impressions–the brand equity itself must also be seen as attractive, thereby preventing this from being strictly a game of numbers. 

While Punjabis (Bhangra, Mattar Paneer, Maharaja Ranjit Singh) and Bengalis (Sweets, Swamis, Sell-outs…jk, about that last one my Bong brothers…) may have a global weight of well over 100 million each behind them, the comparatively smaller Rajasthanis (Forts, Royalty, Romance)and Gujaratis (Garba-raas, Business, Bright fashion…and now Leaders) have forged excellent brands that are genuinely attractive.  In fact, as of this week, the latter are all set to take national center stage.

The Punjabi case is particularly interesting because the younger generation was able to modernize what could have been seen as a rustic village dance and transformed it into avant garde dance music that not only appealed to other Indians, but even other civilizations.

Punjabi Sikh youth gave the whole world chart-topping music to dance to by reinvigorating it with popular hip hop music beats from America–and enhanced the then already robust Punjabi brand. This not only increased pride and reach, it also did something few cultures do–found a way to mine traditional cultural capital and release a version relevant and even popular in the modern context. After evaluating all these points, it becomes clear that the youth of these other Indic cultures are far more likely to take pride in who they are, and outsiders more willing to associate with the brand. Andhras must take note, and act accordingly. 

To be fair, it hasn’t been all bad. Chandrababu Naidu single-handedly built not only the “Cyberabad” brand for Hyderabad, but also made Telugu near synonymous with techie.  Our penchant for resume embellishment aside, the Telugu-speaking IT worker has almost become a cultural trope–though the Tamilians have managed to stake their claim here too (yet another reason to dislike SRK and Ra.One. How was his character not a Telugu speaker??!). Before the Telangana mess became all encompassing, even Sikh taxi drivers in the West drivers knew about that “Andhrawale Naidu” who put his state back on the economic map and on the road to the future. They even favorably mused on the merits of a CBN PM’ship. 

But this is now all  for naught, as Hyderabad is no longer the united capital of the Telugus; the Pune-wallahs, Chennai-ites, and of course the heavy weight champion Bangaloreans, have ensured there is no exclusivity to putting the Cyber in one’s city; and that “Andhra” is in fact now associated with settler/scamster courtesy of YSR and TRS trolls; one provided the proverbial molehills, the others made mountains out of them. And so, we cannot just sit on our hands. Ultimately, brand marketing deals with who and what we are and cuts to the core of our identity and the identity of future generations.

As such, it eminently clear that the people of Andhra (whether from Telangana or Seema) are due for a rebranding. The question is, how?

Rebranding: Do’s and Dont’s

To successfully  rebrand a flagging identity, one must understand the do’s and don’ts. It also means understanding precisely what marketing in the internet age involves.

Branding requires not only content and advertising, but also research (into our past and present culture), design (how will this all be packaged), and strategy (what will we emphasize keeping in mind the actions of competitors).

As we move forward, here are some rules to keep in mind:

Rule #1: Always keep the Target Market in Mind

The single biggest mistake companies, whether in services or products, make is forgetting who their target market is. Simply put, if you don’t know where you are from and who you serve, you don’t know where you are going and why they will buy.

Our target market is divided into the following segments:

1. Telugu Speakers:

While we can always subdivide this into Seemandhra/Telangana or Youth/Old, the reality is our brand must first be appealing to our own Telugu people.

This means being authentic and distinctive. The Andhra brand must not only purvey what is authentically our heritage, it must also show how we are different (from other Indians, especially South) in a positive fashion.

2. Indians

Thanks in part to the effective push marketing job of Tamilians, the Telugu/Andhra brand is either unknown or second-rate. Understanding how to be a distinct and attractive brand to other Indians is critical to making sure our youth feel their own culture is respected by others. Young people get validation from their peers. We must show them how our culture is valid, even in the modern context.

This means not trying to be a lamer version of somebody else. Rather than trying to just create the next Bhangra (probably not going to happen, fellas) or Chicken tikka, the approach should be, “yes they have that, but we have this”. It also means emphasizing your own brand when the consumer misunderstands or mis-brands you.

Most importantly, the Andhra brand will be appealing to this segment if we jettison our inverted mass culture influencing high culture approach and return to high culture serving as example to mass. If we focus on promoting the lifestyle of unschooled provincials and preposterous storylines in our movies–we will only be seen as such.

3. Global elites

Punjabi, Rajasthani, and Bengali are the most established brands in the eyes of global (especially youth) elites (although Gujarati is now about to have its day in the sun…). This is due to bhangra, food, upgraded travel destinations, and literature.

Thus, to establish a clear identity for the Andhra brand amid the clutter and cacophony of India, the state of Seemandhra must engage in dharmic tourist development, clean urban and rural living, and emphasize function AND form.

The last one matters a lot. It is not enough to just present something that’s yours–it has to be appealing. See the difference between this and this. There must also be a tangible effort by state leaders to keep the state out of the news for the wrong reasons. Last year’s horrific Nirbhaya crime stained India’s global brand like never before. Andhras must know how to play defense as well, and protect their brand–not only through good governance, but also through PR and brand management.

So while what we purvey and possess must be authentic and distinctive, it must also be presentable and well-presented. With all due respect to our Telangana brothers, Seemandhra will invariably become the authentic representative of united Andhra culture, unfettered by biryani baggage from Hyderabad and Northern involvement. Thus, it is incumbent upon the new Seemandhra state to turn this disaster into an opportunity. To do that, we must first understand our target market.

Rule #2: Do no harm

What is new is not always better. While it is important to update one’s culture and brand, it is also critical not to throw out the baby with the bath water.

A number of classic brands have made changes over there years, sometimes to adapt to changing circumstances. Sometimes classic logos are brought back to cater to nostalgia.

Other times, being seen as slick, fresh, and modern becomes more important. In fact, America, which effectively invented marketing as an independent branch of knowledge, has also historically been the world’s greatest marketer. In 2008, it arguably embarked on one of the greatest political rebrandings for a country.

Rather than going with the old, tried, and tested, they went with what was new and cool. Most importantly, they made it a point to not do harm to the existing brand of what America stood for post-Bush. Rather than go with Bush lite, it was a complete rebranding that presented a global image, while remaining authentically American.

Andhra’s challenge is to find a way to do the same, without doing harm.

Rule #3: Focus your Pitch

It is not enough to make sure you know to whom you are selling, but to make sure it is relevant to them and easily understood by them. And so, one of the primary principles of marketing is that branding takeaways should be simple, short, and strategic. Just as you can’t please everyone, you can’t be everything. Typically, the consumer should be able to carry away three things–and if you’re a competent marketer, they should be positive things.

 

Therefore, our redesign of the Andhra brand must be relevant to the times. It is not enough to merely replicate the past, we must understand the global cultural-context we are in. This means presenting one’s self as tolerant, respectful of women, dynamic, fashionable, and progressive–while staying true to our roots and culture. This means keeping the baby, but throwing out the bath water.

It means not only ensuring our laws are in harmony with these principles, but also that attitudes themselves should be reflective of this, and our people open to criticism. Thus, our people must not only know how to be brand ambassadors, they should be able to receive and digest feedback. To be fair, this last part is an All-India failing, but perhaps Andhra can be the first to turn this around.

There are of course, many more rules and factors one should consider, but these are the most important, and should cover the essentials in the short space available. Irrespective, while the government of the new state would be well-advised to retain the services of a marketing consultant, it is incumbent on all people of Andhra to do the hard work of first learning about their culture (past and present) and intelligently mining, packaging, and presenting it to our youth, our fellow Indians, and fellow global citizens.

Each one of us is a brand ambassador for Andhra.

Rebranding Andhra:

First, why do I insist on the “Andhra” label?

In the wake of bifurcation, our Telangana brothers (and even some in Seema) more than ever are insisting on Telugu rather than Andhra. But we must hold firm to the latter for many reasons. The most obvious basis is that the ancient name of our people and united region is in fact Andhra. Even the language was referred to as Andhram and the people Andhras (whether it was the Sons of Viswamitra ,the infamous Chanoora, or the glorious Satavahanas). This is also why my preference is to refer to “residuary Andhra Pradesh” as Seemandhra. It protects the all gulti-land applicability of Andhra, avoids calling it rump or residuary, and denotes the districts that it encompasses.

It also ensures that while TG may have broken off as a separate state, it must remain in the hearts and minds of all Telugu-speakers and Indians that Telangana is still a land of Telugus/Andhras. Some may be in favor of naming the coastal state “Telugu Nadu”, but this is also folly. For 1) it implies that Telangana isn’t Telugu (it most certainly is and will remain so) and 2) won’t help our existing”madrasi” branding issues due to the original TNadu next door. Reasserting the dignity of the name Andhra will restore pride in our people and their ancient heritage. It will also serve as warning to those with nefarious designs.

Let us also face it, much like Bengaluru, Telugu isn’t exactly a name that will strike fear in the hearts of our enemies or even give us international marketability. Our name for our undivided people and culture must itself command respect and be attractive to the foreign ear as well (i.e. Bangalore). Let us continue to refer to our beloved language as Telugu, but let us all (Telanganite or Seemandhraite) identify ourselves as Andhraites, Andhras, and sons/daughters of Andhra.

Naysayers may claim that it’s more convenient to make the regional culture synonymous with language (i.e. Bengal-Bengali, Gujarat-Gujarati, Odisha-Odia), but our friends from Kerala have managed to have their Keralite and Malayali too. There is no reason we cannot do the same.

Brand Equity

Next, we must identify, understand, and agree upon our brand equity. Brand equity is the sum total of the images, ideas, sounds, flavors, principles, and symbols with which the brand is associated. As stated above, these should be distinct (from competitors), authentic (does what it says), and attractive (should be appealing to our youth and outsiders).

When designing the logo for the Andhra Cultural Portal, this was the brand equity we wanted the site to communicate for Andhra.

1. Diamond of India

2. Sweet Language

3. Culture without Condescension

 

1. Diamond of India

heera-diamond-500x500

There is an exquisite sloka from Bhavabhuti‘s Sanskrit drama Uttaramacarita:

Vajraadapi katorani| Mrudooni kusumaadapi

Lokottaraanaam chetaamsi| Ko nu vighyaatumarhati

__________________________________________

Harder than a diamond and softer than a flower

Who can gauge the conduct of super-eminent persons?

I believe this best describes our people when we are at our best. We are very accommodative (perhaps too much) of outsiders, but become hard as the diamonds our land is famous for when we are wronged. In the process, we advertise the fact that our region was historically famous for (and the only source of until recently) diamonds–and that our people too share the same quality. (This is also true even without Telangana’s Golkonda mines as Seemandhra retains a few diamond mine sites as well).

History itself is replete with evidence. It took the Delhi sultans 5 wars (in which they were twice unceremoniously defeated and stubbornly stymied once) before Maharaja Prataparudra of the Kakatiyas was finally undone. Even military historians have admired this redoubtable obstinacy in the wake of the full resources of northern India (and Maharashtra) at the disposal of the Turks. Vijayanagara is of course the more famous example, and, last but not least, our Nayaks and Palegadus (polygars) who stubbornly resisted both the Nizam and the British (Veerapandia Kattabomman being the most famous).

This redoubtable hardness is also apparent in our Ukku Steel, prized throughout the Medieval world.

Thus, emphasizing Andhra as the Diamond of India ensures recognition of a credible and appealing brand. It is a tagline that emphasizes not only the historic wealth of the state, but also represents economic opportunity in the future, for investors. If Rajasthan can brand itself “Land of Kings” and Kerala “God’s own Country“, there is no reason why Andhra cannot be “The Diamond of India“.

And for all our hard-on-their-luck lotharios out there, it should also help make your case to the ladies. After all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend

2. Sweet Language

Tene ni minchina mana theeyamaina Tenugu

Bengalis may have cornered the market on Mithai, but all the rasagollas in the world wouldn’t make Bengali as sweet as Telugu. Despite their penchant for self-promotion (or pretentiousness as Monsoon Wedding termed it), Bengali has generally resonated only really with Bengalis .

Yet Telugu to this day, wins the admiration of virtually all the South, and beyond. As Krishna Deva Raya himself said “Desa bhasha landu Telugu lessa“. Even the infrequent Northerner who has heard it appreciates its closeness to Sanskrit. Indeed, while Hindi is arguably the most appealing all-purpose language and Sanskrit the most refined and civilized, mana Theeyamaina Tenugu is undoubtedly the sweetest. Thus, this should be the second pillar of our rebranding effort.

The “Italian of the East” moniker given by the medieval Italian  visitor Niccolo Conti may be useful when presenting to Westerners, but it ultimately does injustice to our more ancient and more literary language. It is like calling Chanakya, “India’s Machiavelli”. The Theeyamaina Tenugu/Sweet language  slogan however ensures that Telugu is admired on its own merits, rather than association with a …cough, cough…foreign brand.

 

3. Culture without Condescension

I know I have taken enough pot shots at Bengalis and Tamilians already, so let me pay them a few compliments. Tamilians have done an excellent job of revitalizing classical dance & music not only as artistes but as patrons (supporting even our own Balamurali Krishna gaaru). Indeed, Tamil Nadu’s Bharatanatyam has become the de facto classical Natyam of Bharat (take that Kathak!) both in India and among NRIs of all regions. M.S. Subbulakshmi was truly a nightingale–verily the voice of Vaikunta–and she is known throughout the country for her traditional singing. As for Bengalis, they have produced undeniable giants like Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore. Though not in the same league, Jhumpa Lahiri (nee Nilanjana Sudeshna) has managed to subtly promote Bengal as well with her mono-themed books.

Nevertheless, both these brands, especially the latter, due to their high culture accomplishments, have been noted for their snobbery. Punjabis on the other hand have managed this condescension without the requisite high culture… (sorry mere pyaare doston Punjabian–but after that glowing advertisement above, I had to bring you guys back down to earth for your own good…).

Nevertheless, Telugu speakers have managed something unique. Despite their ancient cultural accomplishments and literary language of great refinement, they are almost always willing to accept others and even respect their languages in groups, colleges, and communities.  This easy-going nature is Culture without Condescension.

A key part of this is very likely due to the high artform to which we have historically raised our comedic wit.

Tenali Rama Krishna epitomizes this Cultured Comedic Wit w/o Condescension

Rather than being thin-skinned in a conversational context, our people appreciate badinage, witty repartee, and good-natured teasing. We can take a joke as well as give one. Even the Hindi film industry’s go-to Comedian in the 90s was an Andhra wallah.

Therefore, we posit these three factors as the pillars for our Andhra brand. This will enhance recognizability, respectability, and (cultural, economic, and political) relevancy.

Conclusion

Like it or not, we live in an era of the “survival of the fittest“. That means globalization has ensured that protective walls cannot be erected to preserve ancient, traditional cultures. To make sure our Telugu language and Andhra culture not only survives but thrives in the new millennium, we must make sure it is appealing not only to our youth, but also to the rest of the country and world. That is the best way to ensure the state prospers not only culturally, but economically and politically as well.

To Rebuild Andhra we must first Rebrand Andhra.

 

Introducing New Blogger: Mythreyi

 

 

Hello Everyone,

This is Mythreyi Vattikuti from Yum! Yum! Yum! Food Blog. I am ‘small town girl’ from a small town called Tenali, in coastal area of Andhra Pradesh. I grew most of my childhood in coastal Andhra. Since I was a kid I used like cooking and started my cooking journey with Mixed Fruit Jam. Slowly as I grew up that liking towards cooking became Passion and one fine day I have started drafting my recipes ( for my reference and my next generations) that resulted in Yum! Yum! Yum! Food blog, Now I take it to next level by creating a Yum! Yum! Yum! Recipes You Tube Channel.

Though i have spent my childhood in Tenali, I made most of lifetime memories in college days in Hyderabad, that’s how I got introduced to Hyderabadi Recipes. I used to live in a room with friends means we had a lot of fun ‘Bachelor Cooking’.

Now I am happily married to my Husband Vj and mom of two young and little soldiers ( Abhi and Anvi), living in Frisco (DFW Area) in States. By choice I am a Software Engineer and Scrum Master at Work, but a Whole Hearted Cook that serves Yummy Food to her Family at Home.

Coming to my contribution at ACP, my main focus is going to be Cooking and bringing Yum Yum Yum Recipes to your table. Though I am not a strict vegetarian, most of my recipes are Vegetable based. Making simple and quick recipes with Healthy Ingredients is my specialty. As I am busy working mom, you will get several Rush Time recipes and Kid’s Lunch Box Ideas as well.

Though I am in States from the past 12 years, I love our Culture and Tradition, I still celebrate Telugu Festivals without a miss and most of the times with full-fledged ‘Vindu Bhojanam‘.  At this space, I will bring Andhra Dishes and some more fusion recipes that I make with Western Vegetables that are twisted in Andhra Style.  I hope you will enjoy the recipes and you can always request for a recipe if you have some cravings!

Andhra ante Aaavakaya, mari Guntur ante Gongura.…! Slurp…! makes my mouth water already… so Here I bring Gongura Pachadi for today as my first post that matches with the summer season also! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Gongura Leaves – 1 bunch ( 2 cup of Leaves)

Green Chili – 3
Oil – 1 Tbsp
salt – 1 tsp
Coriander Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Garlic Cloves – 3
Chopped Onion – 2 Tbsp ( optional)

Taalimpu:
Oil – 1 Tbsp
Red Chili – 1
Chana Dal – 1 tsp
Urad Dal – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 8
Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Crushed Corinander Seeds – 1/2 tsp

Method:

  1. Pluck the Gongura Leaves from stem and wash them under luke warm water. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in heavy bottom vessel ( I have used my nonstick soup pot).
  2. Add Green Chili and Gongura Leaves. Keep it n medium and let it simmer for 5 min. You will notice the Gongura Leaves becomes soft and you will get sour smell.
  3. Add Garlic and Coriander Seeds and simmer for 2 more min. All the water will be gone and leaves mixture will be dry and soft. Switch off the stove and let it cool completely.
  4. Grind this mixture in small mixie jar along with salt ( while grinding). You don’t have to add any water. Pulsing for few times is enough.
  5. Heat 1 Tbsp of Oil in non-stick pan. Once the oil is hot add Red Chili, Chana Dal, Urad dal, wait until the lentil turn golden color, then add Mustard Seeds, Curry Leaves and crushed coriander Seeds.
  6. Add the Gongura Mixture to the pan and stir along with Tempering. Finally add the chopped onions to the mixture and switch off the stove.

Transfer this to a bowl and serve with hot white Rice and Hmmmm, taste slurpyyy superbbb! You can serve this with Vegetable Pulao or Biryani to make it a special combination.

For the Detail Recipe and some Tips you can Check out here: Gongura Pachadi

Hope you have enjoyed knowing about me in my first post,

will be back with more Andhra Recipes soon!

-Mythreyi

www.yummyodds.com

On the Importance of History

While this is by now a line so well known that it is almost cliche, few of us meditate on it. But what is lesser known is that even fewer still meditate on another insightful history quote.

Frederick the Great was a brilliant Soldier-King of Prussia (a leading German kingdom of the 17-1800s) who is considered one of history’s finest generals. He wrote that[1]:

“History is the School of Princes”.

And yet, our parents today consider this history to be “fluffy stuff” and an unworthy pursuit for their little rajakumaras. Why? Because understanding history makes for good rulers but poor servants. Despite the silly conceits of Indians in general, and NRI Andhras in particular, engineers, doctors, and coders are not rulers—just glorified workers. Real ruling classes and true elites have a sound understanding of history, and how it is frequently manipulated.

But to understand the importance of history, let us first understand what history is.

What is History

Most people, in fact, will not take the trouble in finding out the truth, but are much more inclined to accept the first story they hear.”
― Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

History is the study of past events as they apply to the human condition. It seeks to understand what happened, why it happened, at what are the ramifications of it.  It is more than mere national myth, kaakamma kaburlu (old wives’ tales), or the dry recitation of dates and personalities. While an element of Romance and Adventure adds excitement to it, as Thucydides (the Ancient Greek historian) wrote, history is ultimately about the cold hard study of recorded facts weighed against the truth. Thus the entire modern Marxist method of emphasizing that “there is no truth, only perspective” is in fact the greatest lie of all. There is objective truth, there must be objective truth, for without it, we have only relativist subjectivity that allows fools to be led astray and the wicked to believe their own lies.

As such, while there may be a rhetorical flourish here, and a romantic tale there, history is ultimately about the the dispassionate and truthful study of human events and society.

What is the Use of History

Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft” – Winston Churchill.

While Churchill is surely no friend to any Indian (a matter which the deracinated among us still fail to grasp), he was surely no stranger to the uses of history,  given not only his prime ministerial but also his imperialist track record.

While Westerners point to Herodotus as the father of history, and the British routinely loved to insinuate that Hindus had no concept of it, the reality is that the Dharmic tradition is replete with not just assorted puranas, but also charitras (chronicles), avadanas (narratives) and true itihaasas (histories) such as the Rajatarangini of Kalhana (the Kashmiri historian). Itihasa literally means so indeed it was, “iti ha asa”.

History records how great deeds were accomplished

Our own Kautilya advised that a prince undergo strict training, for “intellect is the result of learning”and “in the latter part of the day, he [the prince] shall listen to Itihasas]”. Thus, lack of historical curiosity is not an historical trait of Indians in general, but a trait of colonized Macaulay-putras who reject their own heritage without understanding its value. When our ancient political thinkers themselves advised of the importance of history, particularly in political matters, why do we continue to propagate the British-imposed fallacy that Indians had no concept of history–they did and they do, they have merely forgotten or been made to forget…

How History is Used

Most of us think that the history we read in school should suffice and serve as the benchmark for how we view ourselves. However, what is taught in India today, and about India in much of the rest of the world, is colonial in nature and British in bias.

As we’ve said repeatedly on this site, if you don’t know where you are from, you don’t know where you are going. And Indians (especially Andhras) continue to remain the most clueless bunch. Easily swayed by praise, they thoughtlessly bring outsiders into their innermost ranks. They fail to recognize that China’s closest equivalent to Chanakya said this millennia ago: “All warfare is deception”. Yet we continue to sway under the naïve notion that for “civilized people” war and politics remain separate from economics, religion, culture, and even history. In fact, another great Prussian General, Carl von Clausewitz said “War is the continuation of politics by other means”.  Thus if war is political and politicized, why wouldn’t history be? If knowledge is power, why wouldn’t the war of ideas be a matter of life and death?

The British use of history was no accident. It was a conscious move to play with the native historical record and to alienate Indians from their own tradition. It is for this reason that the entire “Invasions” leitmotif continues in Indian history to this day. The colonial monologue goes that “India was always invaded and invasion brought civilization, i.e. “Aryans” so the British were merely taking the next step to “civilize” Indians. In fact, India is an invention of the British”.

The irony of course is that anyone remotely acquainted with British history realizes how many times those islands were invaded (Romans, Angles/Saxons/Jutes, Vikings, Norman-French). In fact, their entire culture is a product of invasion, and if one reads the History of the Kings of Britain, even their mythical history is traced to the Asiatic Trojan invader Britannicus. Perhaps it’s true what they say: superiority complexes are built upon inferiority complexes.

Irrespective, this reductive view of Indian history is nonsense. For starters, many invasions–in fact the majority–were beaten back. Ancient India historically had a reputation for defeating and utterly routing foreign invaders. Alexander of Macedon had himself been cautioned about India, having bean told of how few soldiers the Assyrian Queen Semiramis (circa 9th century BCE) returned after being humbled by the Indian King Stabrobates, and how Cyrus of Persia lost his life on the Indian frontier. Alexander himself did not fare much better–but remains the subject of debate due to colonial British lionization of him. The same Huns that killed the Persian Emperor Firoz  had been first defeated by Emperor Skandagupta and ultimately tamed by King Yasodharman of Malwa. Even the Arab Caliphate had virtually given up invasion of India, having been defeated many times, as established by their own histories (Chachnama). What’s more, even Bin Qasim’s conquest of Sindh proved short-lived, with the Rajputs of western India decisively defeating the Arabs, succeeding where Persia, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, and even Chinese-ruledTurkestan (in modern Xinjiang) had all failed.

Even the Indian worldview was reflective of this according to the Khorasani chronicler Alberuni: ” the Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs. They are haughty, foolishly vain, self-conceited, and stolid…According to their belief, there is no other country on earth but theirs, no other race of man but theirs, and no created beings besides them have any knowledge or science whatsoever.

Given all this, what was the British tactic that was able to shake the foundation of Indian historical consciousness (or even arrogance as Alberuni would say) so thoroughly? A recent controversy regarding the historicity of a certain quote gives us a glimpse:

“I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

Now for the sake of argument , even if we accept that this quote attributed to Macaulay is not in fact valid and is apocryphal (bearing in mind a valid quote would have major European PR implications), is it really that much worse than the following Macaulay quote that all parties unequivocally accept as valid:

We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern,  –a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”

What better way to do this then to make Indians ashamed of their own history? After all, if an Indian had pride in his history (as Alberuni angrily confirmed was the case once) or understood the true worth of Sanskrit and other Indian languages such as Telugu, he would not think so overwhelmingly about English, and give importance to it regarding “tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect“.

Pandit Kota Venkata Chelam

In fact, whatever the validity of the first Macaulay quote, our own learned men of the time had recorded how British colonizers had in fact been playing with our history and even historical record, showing just how insidious the second Macaulay quote really was.

But before Macaulay-putras and their fellow travelers again attempt to attack the strawman of the first quote (crying “fascism, chauvinism, brahminical conspiracy,” and God knows what else), perhaps they should first recognize that Macaulay himself was an historian of sorts, and a dubious one at that by the accounts of his own fellow Englishmen. So it seems neither he, nor his fellow European imperialists, were unaware of the uses of history and how the past can be distorted to serve present and future ends.

…and is Still Used Today

KDRtankbund
Tank Bund Literary & Historical statues, even Krishna Deva Raya’s, destroyed for Razakars?

Nowhere was this better seen than in the unfortunate case of the Telangana agitation. While the bifurcation is said and done (so don’t worry my dear TG readers…), the way it was done was absolutely appalling. Not only was brother turned against brother, but history itself was turned upon its head. This gang went as far as to even praise the very oppressors of their own ancestors. Thus, the destruction of these statues, particularly that of Sri Krishna Deva Raya, who defeated and humiliated the  Qutb Shahis of Golkonda, shows whose dirty work they were actually doing. This is why it’s important to understand who the puppets and puppet masters really are.

A scholar/propagandist was enlisted to not only create a case for Telangana, but to even invert history by diluting the word “Andhra” (the glorious ancient name of all Telugu speakers to mean only those from the Coast).  While observers may glibly refer to this as a minor issue, the reality is, by diluting the Andhra brand, the case for another brand is slowly being made. After all, the best way to boil a frog is to slowly raise the temperature, rather than all at once.

Most ironically, the self-same politician who maligned Seemandhrites as “settlers” had no problem allying with Perso-Turkic “colonists” who advocate “Ganga-Yamuna Tehzeeb” in place of Telugu culture. They have the gall to demand privilege for their culture when they have never shown respect for our far more ancient and cultivated tradition, on our own land.

How Dharmic Indians must Use History

After seeing just how history has been used (and abused) in the hands of others, many Dharmic Indians may be think, let us just rebut this slander and write a glorious nationalist history. But two wrongs do not make a right. Replacing a nation-breaking history with an overly glossy nationalist one actually does a disservice to the nation. For a nation that only thinks of glorious achievements without understanding and analyzing past mistakes is doomed to repeat them.

Still others may say ask that if others have distorted our history  why should we not do the same? But for the very nation whose motto is Satyameva Jayate, such an action is not only contrary to our traditions, it is foolishness. For you see, the society that has ever-prized the truth above all things, even given the world such noble lovers of Satya as Satyakama Jabala, Satya Harishchandra, and Dharmaraja Yudhisthira, the truth will in fact be the very light the reveals our glory. For while the lie lives ever in fear and doubt of discovery, truth knows no fear.

Though it unmasks the machinations of others, with the sword of truth lies not only our greatest weapon, but our redemption itself. Lies divide, but it is the truth that unifies, whether it is all Andhras, all Indians, or all of Humanity itself. Therefore, it is incumbent on Dharmics to use history for precisely the purpose it was meant to–only we must do it better.

While our traditional scholars may have been meticulous at recording facts, communication of these facts must not be done in a mechanical manner. They must be done in a way that not only educates and inspires, but also instills a rational compass allowing the young student to read history, and if necessary, navigate it. As Frederick the Great of Prussia said, “Past facts are good to store away in the imagination and the memory: they furnish a repository of ideas whence a supply of materials may be obtained, but one which ought to be purified by passing through the strainer of the judgment“.[1] Even the great Greco-Roman historiographer, Polybius wrote in his work that “personal investigation” is the greatest quality of an historian. He went still further by emphasizing how men of action, rather than mere arm-chair observers, made the best historians–for they knew the value of what they were recording.

Thus mere rote memorization of history alone is not enough; one must use logic, analysis, and the historical method to understand the applicability and validity of these past ideas, so that students, politicians, and even generals, will draw the correct lesson–Acharya Kautilya would expect nothing less of us.

 In light of all this, the history of the descendants of Dharma and Indic Civilization must be based on the truth, rooted in our Indic tradition, weighed by the historical method, valid in educational purposes, and communicated in a way that inspires.

In doing so, the next generation of responsible citizens, Army Chiefs, and Prime Ministers will recognize that India’s unity is not only worth defending, but will also learn how best to defend India’s unity.  In tandem with that, they would see that our Dharmic Kings were worthy of emulation given that they were  manly and trained in the arts of war in addition to being equally cultivated and cultured (as seen here with Emperor Samudra of the Gupta dynasty and below where he uses a bow in one coin and plays a veena in the other)

The same Soldier-Emperor who became the paramount ruler of India was skilled not only in the force of arms, but in the mastery of music. This demonstrates that the among the archetypes for our leaders was not a dichotomy between unschooled barbarian and milquetoast musician, but the cultivated and cultured King, who could protect civilization all while engaging in its highest artforms.

Ultimately, it is not enough to merely study history in school or even earn a degree in it. Rather, what must be taught is how to navigate history using the historical method, logic, and analysis. While indigenous chronologies and chronicles can serve as a foundation for our historical record, they should be tested against the evidence of the time as well. Trust, but verify. For in an era where knowledge is power, the war of ideas becomes a matter of life and death…and what is history if not that?

the-past-is-behind-learn-from-it

References:

  1. Frederick the Great. p.47,49
  2. Arthashastra.p.143

India Elections 2014 Results

Elections 2014Photo:  Manipal World News

 

Narendra Modi led the BJP to a resounding victory in the 2014 elections. With a simple majority (282 seats) over the required 272, Narendra Modi’s government is in a strong position to ensure stable governance and has a mandate for coherent policy. The robust National Democratic Alliance (which includes parties such as the Telugu Desam Party) totaled well over 300 seats, giving India the strongest government in 30 years.

A despondent Congress party gave a rather graceless concession speech. The heir apparent, however, appeared rather unaware of the gravity of the defeat inflicted on the INC. In any event, what was patently apparent was that the Congress’s patent on “secularism” had expired–indeed, it had been shown to be false advertising as the country pulled the rug out from underneath them with a mere 44 seats.

More immediately, the soon to be bifurcated state of Andhra Pradesh saw its two true regional parties convincingly stake claim to power, demolishing the contemptuous Congress that cynically toyed with the emotions of both regions.

For Chandra Babu Naidu in particular, the win was vindication after 10 years in the political wilderness–full of criticism and second guessing. The shrewd Naidu managed to defeat a Jagan-led YSR Congress that was long associated with corruption, cronyism, and cultural crusades against the majority of the state.

 

For KCR, it was a vote acknowledgement from the people of Telangana who credit him above the cunning Congress for the creation of the new state. With rumors of the MIM’s involvement in the state government, it remains to be seen what KCR will do with that mandate. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti will also face continuing questions about the status of residents originating from Seemandhra, and whether the law and order situation will be reflecting a positive atmosphere (particularly given the events in Kishanbagh).

Nevertheless, the people of not only Telangana and Seemandhra, but all of India are rejoicing at the humbling of a party and dynasty increasingly seen as arrogant and anti-majority. Telugus of both states gave an unmistakable comeuppance for the ingratitude and betrayal of the very Congress they had, more than any other, helped bring to a ten year reign of misrule. Hoisted by their own petard, the Congress had no one to blame but themselves.

This election can be summed up as the result of a dynasty, party, and ideological section that had not only become considered anti-Hindu, but outright colonial in disposition. This victory was redemption for the long suffering believers of India’s Dharmic heritage and Civilization. Judging by those faux liberal citizens who are already high tailing it out of India, this election has shown who the true sons of the soil are–or as we can again proudly say in the true national language of India (hint: not English) : dharthi ke lal.

Jewelry: Kasulaperu

Voh moh! Some seriously heavy religious/spiritual stuff from N.R.I.pathi ( or should I say Swami Nripathinanda? 😉 ) past month.

I will switch us back to some fun today with my favorite topic (ok, my favorite topic after money 😉 ) jewelry.

My post is on the famous style of Andhra jewellery: Kasulaperu

Also known as Kasumala, Kasulaperu (pronounced: Kaasulaperu) is the biggest name in Andhra ornaments. While common to all four regions of South India, the Kasumala style has taken a distinctly Telugu name in Kasulaperu. They have very recently become trendy, and a number of model/actresses both South and North have been seen showcasing it at functions.

The name for this necklace comes from Lakshmi coins strung together, which is very auspicious. In fact, it is so valued that it is the preferred gift to brides at Wedding. However, it is popular enough that it is a favorite for all, from little girls to elderly ladies. In fact that, the length of it is often used to indicate age.

It is considered to be very royal, and in fact, in the coin itself, both Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Venkateshwara are seen wearing Kasulaperu in each image.

By wearing it, it gives a certain dignity and sense of adornment to the neck. It communicates a feeling as if Lakshmi Devi herself is residing with you.

The beauty of this piece is, like the Venkatagiri saree, it is dignified yet trendy. Many top actresses of yesterday and today can be seen showcasing it at major functions.

Juhi_Chawla_Kasulaperu (1)

[UPDATED]

History

Kasulaperu is an indigenous style of jewelry. Historians trace it back to the Andhra Ikshvaku dynasty of Bhattiprolu (Pratipalapura). The Nishka gold coin necklace which has been traced back to as far back as the Vedic period had become popular in Andhra. Kasulaperu, is thus, seen as a descendant. Versions of it can be seen even today in sculptures from Amaravati. The name Kasulaperu is itself traced to the Sanskrit word Karsapana, which was the ancient Indian currency and name for coin.

Styles

trendy kasulaperuThere are a number of different styles of kasulaperu. In fact, a number of modern designs have also sprung up in recent years.

Lakshmi Kasulaperu

This is the traditional gold coin necklace featuring an image of Lakshmi Devi. It is the standard gift to brides at weddings. The size of each Kasu is very large due the grandness of the occasion and the ancient style of the jewelry. Prices can reach even ₹1,80,000.

Designer Kasulaperu

Liberalization has changed many tastes over the years, and new/modern styles of Kasulaperu have emerged. The first of these is generally called “Designer” Kasulaperu. It is notable for its smaller coins and for the lining of small gold balls to adorn the adornment itself. It works best with a pattu cheera (sari).

Stone Kasulaperu

One of the trendier styles of the ornament. It takes its name from the precious or semi-precious stones that line the necklace to complement the coins.

Kasulaperu with Pendant

One of the more eye-catching varieties, this style has broken the previous pendant-less mold of the necklace. The dangling pendant will frequently feature not only precious and semi-precious stones, but even enamel work. The variety itself began when jewelers began adding lockets to the necklace.

Necklace Kasulaperu

While the name is seemingly redundant, this term is used to emphasize the tighter fit of the style, in contrast with the traditional lengthier varieties. This version, seen above, is seen as more modern and elegant. It is undoubtedly an ideal fit for the globe-trotting, elegant Andhra woman.

Antique Kasulaperu

Taking inspiration from the more ancient varities, this version is true to its name and is decorated with kundan (gem set with gold foil on mount) and stones. It is typically featured with a three string fuse pattern. Due to the intricate nature of the work, prices can reach as high as ₹7 lakhs.

Double Layer Antique Kasulaperu

This is the latest variety of the ornament. It features a bottom layer of large coins that are anointed at the top with smaller coins, imprinted with images of Goddess Lakshmi. It also features the antique work emblematic of the previous style, giving the best of both ages.

In conclusion, it is a piece of jewelry that is fashionable in every era. It is frequently called:

The Queen of Jewelry.

What diamonds are to regular stones is what Kasulaperu is to regular ornaments!

References

  1. Murthy, Krishna K. Nāgārjunakoṇḍā: A Cultural Study. Delhi: Concept Publ.Co.1977
  2. http://www.info-bee.com/2012/07/kasu-mala-designs-kasumala-designs.html