Pakistan and the art of trading castes

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by SpArK, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. SpArK

    SpArK SORCERER Senior Member

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    Pakistan and the art of trading castes



    Pakistan has no community left to resist its drift into becoming an irresponsible state.


    [​IMG]
    The dominant community in Pakistan are the peasant castes, not merchants, which shows in its economy. Photo: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

    First Published: Thu, Dec 06 2012.


    Imagine that, for some reason, all mercantile castes were partitioned from India on 31 December.


    • Jains, Khatris, Marwaris, Baniyas, Chettiars and the rest, whatever name you know them by, all forced out in three weeks’ time. What would happen?
    • First, at a stroke, we would lose nine of the 10 wealthiest people in India.
    • Second, we would immediately lose the experience and industry of these communities, skills built over centuries.
    • Third, we would lose, this would take a little more time, their influence on society. Their culture of pragmatism, compromise and sobriety would be lost to north Indian cities now dominated by peasant castes. These are the castes driven by honour, rather than pragmatism. If you were to make a list of communities that do honour killing, they would dominate that list, just as Baniyas dominate the list of billionaires.



    What would India be like without the mercantile castes? I can tell you. Like Pakistan. Four conditions trouble scholars of Pakistan:
    • Military dominance of policy;
    • an economy subservient to national honour;
    • revisionism in Kashmir
    • and an inability to come to terms with an enemy (India) it is unable to defeat; and the inability of society to internally resist religious bigotry.



    The reasons cited for these conditions are usually disparate

    . Military dominance is thought to be the result of the Muslim League’s undemocratic phase after 1947. The real or imagined threat from India explains the revisionist outlook. Society’s extremism is blamed on the US meddling in Afghanistan and on drone strikes.

    The real reason for all four conditions is the same: An imbalance of caste. In a part of the world where culture trumps individualism, Pakistan has no community left to resist its drift into becoming an irresponsible state and a danger to itself.


    The community that could do this, the Khatri-Arora combine that dominates Delhi’s economy, Pakistanis booted out in 1947. My hypothesis is that the division of the Punjabi nation in 1947 produced a Pakistani Punjab that was heavily weighted in favour of the peasant castes.
    Why is Punjab so important to the argument? Punjabis form over half the Pakistani nation. At Partition, Pakistan got two-thirds of Punjab, while India got one-third.



    Eighty per cent of Pakistan’s army is Punjabi. All the four conditions we observed are Punjab-specific. More Punjabis live in Pakistan than in India. However, in the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires, there are five Indians from the Indian side of undivided Punjab. Malvinder and Shivinder Mohan Singh of Fortis Healthcare, Sunil Mittal of Airtel, Savitri Jindal of Jindal Steel, Brijmohan Lall Munjal of Hero MotoCorp and Gautam Thapar of Avantha. There is no Punjabi from Pakistan. Why? Because the conversion of Hindus has been the conversion of castes, not individuals (for a moment, let us discard the myth Muslims feed themselves about their Arab/Persian/Central Asian origins). All these individuals are from trading communities, Baniya, Khatri and Arora.


    Few mercantile Hindu castes took up Islam. The Lohanas of Gujarat, who produce India’s and Karachi’s great Memon/Vora/Khoja communities, are among those who did. Lohanas dominate the economy of Karachi and its stock market. But not many Punjabi trading castes took up Islam.

    All Baniyas and most Khatris and Aroras in Punjab remained Hindu while some became Sikh. Punjab’s Partition was essentially a partitioning of castes. India got Jats and other peasant castes, but it also received most of the trading Punjabis.

    Pakistan got only the peasants. This separation is the critical aspect and it defines the character of Pakistani Punjab. What had been a stable society in united Punjab became lighter on the side of the castes the Hindus dominated—trade, commerce—and heavier on the side of the peasant castes, which Muslims dominated.

    This has produced the imbalance which explains Pakistan’s fondness for a state dominated by soldiers. The army under General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (from the warlike Gakkhar caste) runs Pakistan’s foreign policy, security policy and most of its economic policy because the majority of Punjabis are comfortable with the idea of warriors being in charge.


    Let’s look at Sindh. The economy of Pakistan is commanded by one city in Sindh, Karachi. Over 50% of all government revenue comes from Karachi.

    Despite the violence in Karachi, which is mainly of a secular nature, Sindh is more normal than Punjab. One reason for this is because it has a stable society. How? The Sindhi Hindus who left at Partition were replaced by two communities. One was the educated middle class of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Mohajirs. The gap in the trading community created by the migration of Hindus was filled by Muslim Gujaratis of the Lohana caste—Memon, Khoja and Vora. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also a Lohana, one of the most talented and prosperous trading castes of India.

    This is why Sindh is more normal than Punjab, despite the Mohajir-Pashtun skirmishes in Karachi. Because it is a stable society in terms of balance between those parts that are feudal and those parts that are mercantile. This balance is missing in Punjab.


    It is impossible to understand India without being aware of caste and I see no reason why this should not be true for the area that used to be India till 65 years ago.

    I would say that the Baloch are a nation, Pashtuns are a nation, Gujaratis are a nation, Tamilians are a nation and Punjabis are a nation. But Punjabi Muslims are not a nation, only half a nation. This incompleteness in its society, which I see as a permanent feature, is the reason Pakistan is the way it is.


    Aakar Patel is a writer and a columnist.



    Pakistan and the art of trading castes - Livemint
     
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  3. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    Aakar Patel and his idiotic bile.There are many more enterprenurial communities in India
     
  4. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Aakar Patel certainly gives very radical hypothesis. But is he wrong ? He maybe politically incorrect.
     
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  5. Sukerchakia

    Sukerchakia Regular Member

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    I believe its somewhat a valid hypothesis. A trading caste or community was present in every society in undivided India, but not anymore in Pakistan. Entrepreneurship gets a fillip when you have groups with centuries of experience. The pity is, Pakistanis continue to hate the wily Bania.
     
  6. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    South does not have a traditional trading community but that did not deter enterpreneurship
     
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  7. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Pakistani Baniyas are Sheikhs. But do they live in Pak Punjab ? I think they are more southwards.
     
  8. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    Chettiars have been traditional mercantiles. There are similar social groups in AP and Karnataka as well. But you are right, I am not sure that entrepreneurship is entirely dependent on the presence/absence of certain castes in a society.
     
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  9. musalman

    musalman پاکستان زنده باد

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    Hit& Run is right, sheikhs from Chinots and Kasur are more into business and that is why main industrialist families of Pakistan like Nishat Crescent, Mannu Saigols are Sheikhs. We the Sialkot sheikhs are more into the education sectors, like Allama Iqbal etc.

    But what writter has said in the articles is also something to ponder about. He may or may not be right.
     
  10. Tolaha

    Tolaha Senior Member Senior Member

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    Shetty's are their equivalent in coastal Karnataka. While Jains and Muslims are trading communities as well, nothing beats the entrepreneurial spirit of the Shetties around there! For all we know, Shetty's and Chetty's maybe one and the same!

    Having said that, developing a strong belief that certain community is equivalent to certain attributes is probably not a healthy idea!
     
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  11. musalman

    musalman پاکستان زنده باد

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    Totally agree to that
     
  12. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Agree. I believe with time this attitude will change.

    As for trading communities of South, Shetty's were land owning community in S Kanara/Mangalore/coastal Kar who lost their land due to land reforms. They then turned to professional careers and business esp hotel business. Another business community is the Gowd Saraswat Brahmins who are into running hotels and small businesses. Jains in Kar, unlike N Indian Jains were from ruling class and agri communities and not trading community, so we had the Jain chieftains. Muslims esp in Bhatkal were into trading (and smuggling). So no real trading caste in Kar I think. Correct me if I am wrong.

    Chettiars of TN and Setty's of AP are OTOH regular trading communities I believe - most of the shops and businesses in Bangalore and border distts of Kar are run by Setty`s.
     
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  13. Tolaha

    Tolaha Senior Member Senior Member

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    I just realised while trying to collect evidences to reply to your post, how tough it is to find any! Honestly, I haven't found anything so far! :)

    Let me bring out a few facts and then attempt to connect the dots. Karnataka had multitude of empires ruling it in history. These empires had extensive trade with SE Asia, Arabs, Africans and Europeans. Trading has always been a community driven practice all over India. Assuming same in the case of Karnataka. Can you recall some stories about trading communities in coastal Karnataka? The maritime trading tycoon in the legends due to whom the origin of the practice of 'All inheritance to the daughters' (Aliya santhana) is supposedly to have come into existence in this region. I think he belonged to the Shetty community.

    Muslims ('Beary' community to be specific) are a well know ancient trading community in coastal Karnataka and you maybe aware of the meaning of the word "byara", the word from which this community obtained its name. It stands for trade or business or trade. Atleast that's what one theory suggests! They are supposedly the links for trade with Arabs even before the time of Islam!

    Yes, I left out GSBs, thanks for pointing it out! They along with Jains could be a recent converts into the trading community, I agree! :namaste:
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
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  14. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    The Southern Peasant castes such as Nadars,Kammas,Reddies,Kounders and Mudaliars are equally good at Commerce,Education and Valour
     
  15. Tolaha

    Tolaha Senior Member Senior Member

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    Wild guess... you belong to one of those! :taunt:
     
  16. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    No serious Name atleast one enterprise started by each of the above communities:taunt:
     

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