Saturday, December 6, 2014

Digital Scrapbook Entry #5 - India
Author: BBC
Author: Robert Lindsay
                                                         Barbarians on the Throne
The ability for cultures to evolve and change to the point that it would be unrecognizable by previous members has been around since the Paleolithic era, as societies became more advanced and as they adapted to both their political and natural geography their traditions, opinions, and morals changed. This change became even more noticeable as written records came into existence, as it allowed for a clear change to be observed over the course of time. These changes usually occur fluidly, as cultures adapt to their worlds and poor ideas die off, however there are some cases during which a cultural shift is forced upon a society, often bringing massive repercussions to that entire region. Many this change is rejected initially, as the affected peoples attempt to regain their culture and society. Very few times do cultures easily make way to these shifts without resistance, as they attempt to hold on to their traditions and beliefs. 
An image depicting probable Aryan migration routes
The Vedas, written in Sanskrit
One clear example of a large cultural shift occurred in Ancient India, as the Indo-European speaking Aryans invaded and conquered India from it's original inhabitants, the Dravidians. The Dravidians were a scientific people, who were focused on technology and the arts. They lived in the Indo-Gangetic Plain of northern India initially. They had a rich culture, and were devoid of large scale conflict, and much like the Indus Valley Civilization, they were far more advanced than their neighbors. However, like the Indus Valley, they were devoid of large scale training and armies that other people's possessed. This meant that when the militaristic tribes of the Aryans migrated from Persia into their territory, the Dravidians were easily conquered and many were forced to move onto the Deccan Plateau of southern India. This initial encounter most likely changed the Dravidians, as they were forcibly moved from their home, they probably reformed, hoping to be more ready for the Aryan tribes. The Aryans followed quickly however, and in the end all of India was theirs, as the Dravidians were subjugated and forced to become second class citizens. It is also believed that the caste system developed from the subjugation of the Dravidians, who became the Sudra caste, the workers and farmers. The ruling Aryan class developed into the Kshatriyas, the rulers and warriors, and the Aryan priests became the highest caste, the Brahmins. The caste system developed because inter-racial marriage was banned, making the assimilation of the two peoples into one impossible. The Aryans also brought their religion, which were based off of the Aryan religious texts, the Vedas, and which had the Brahmin clergy. This was extremely different the native Dravidian religion, which was based off of folk lore, and wasn't centralized by any text or clergy. The Aryan Vedic pantheon would merge with the Dravidian pantheon to create the early form of Hinduism. In many ways the Aryans were the stark opposites of the Dravidians, and it's probably safe to assume the Dravidians didn't take it easily. Simply being conquered usually causes unrest, however to be subjugated by a people barbaric in comparison to the Dravidians would have been unacceptable to the now low caste subjects. The Aryans didn't leave many records for modern historians in terms of writing, so much of it must be assumed and guessed, however observation of other cultures in similar situations, such as the Gauls in France, give obvious clues to what probably ensued. The Dravidians most likely revolted, however obviously failed, in order to achieve freedom and regain their own society. It is most likely that these revolts continued for several generations, only stopping after the freedom the Dravidians one had was forgotten, and new generations acted more and more like their rulers.
Another culture which is resisting assimilation in modern times are the Uighurs. The Turkic Uighurs are a people living within the Xinjiang Province of China, which is the eastern most province of China, touching eight different nations. The Uighur people have had varying degrees of freedom throughout history, as the Russians, Mongols, and Chinese fight over the territory. Sometimes, however, the Uighurs have maintained independence from its neighbors. When the Xinjiang Province fell into the control of the current Chinese government, the Chinese began increasing the wealth of the province by increasing its petrochemical output, which now makes up for 60% of the province's GDP. In order to assimilate the Uighurs, and also to help run the new industry in the area, the
The Xinjiang Province
government of China has been moving Han-Chinese people into the province since 1990. This has caused ethnic tensions between the Muslim Uighurs and the Buddhist or non-religious Han, as the Uighurs believe the area to be theirs, and desire to separate from China. The Uighur peoples also believe that they have been discriminated and marginalized against by the current government. The separatist movement has received support from several Muslim organizations, such as the East Turkestan Liberation Movement. The separatists have been responsible for several protests, and also blamed for several terrorist attacks, such as bus bombings and attacking Han citizens. The government's response has been harsh, often executing suspected terrorists and moving the army into the Xinjiang province.
Both of these cultural clashes are based off of the attempt to conquer and forcibly assimilate one culture into another, however each are different for several reasons. Both peoples were conquered by those with completely different religions, however the Dravidians had an unorganized pantheon simply based off of local folk lore and legend, while the Uighur people are Muslim, and have a strict clergy and belief. It is easier to assimilate an unorganized pantheon because less of the actual history is known, and the conquerors can assimilate pieces of it into their own religion in order to claim that the conquered were mostly right, they just forgot one piece. This assimilation of beliefs occurred with
Muslim Uighurs Protesting
the Gaelic religions and Christianity, as Christianity merged with several Gaelic beliefs to become what was known as the Celtic Church. The Uighur people have codes, and know everything they need about their religion, making it very hard to try to convince them to switch. They both know what will happen if they do switch and, Buddhism is such a different religion that the concept would seem foreign and strange. Both peoples, the Dravidians and Uighurs, have been discriminated against by their rulers, however in different ways. The Dravidians were forced to stay poor, as it was their caste, and could never own their own land. The Uighurs claim that their jobs are being replaced by the Han, who they think are getting preference. They also believe that they are being paid less for the few jobs they get. This means many are unable to find a steady source of income, unlike the Dravidians, who while having poor jobs, they were still employed. Both peoples are also being controlled by a culture wildly different than their own. The technological and peaceful Dravidians were conquered by the backwards and warlike Aryans, while the Muslim and Traditional Uighur peoples are being controlled by the Buddhist and non-religious Han, who are also more progressive. The Dravidians are an extreme example of a people being conquered by stark opposites, however the Uighur people are being controlled by a capitalistic society who have much different ideas on morals and laws than the Uighurs. While both peoples were conquered at different times, the circumstances they have been put in have been very similar. The quote,"Those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat it" can be applied directly to this situation. It may very well be in China's best interest to let the Xinjiang province go, before the backlash for attempting a forced change on the Uighur peoples occurs.

Muslim Uighurs:
Xinjiang Province:

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