Games of Peacock Thrones

Posted in fantasy, history, South Asia, what ifs by jrahman on April 8, 2018

I haven’t read Helen Dale’s new book, but Jesus as an extremist, political philosophy of imperialism — sure sounds promising.  However, what about the counterfactual of an industrialised Rome?  I did read the author’s notes, and some commentary, with much interest.  This got me thinking.  What about a counterfactual of an industrialised Mughal Empire?


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A brief (alternative) history of Pakistan 4

Posted in fantasy, what ifs by jrahman on October 28, 2017

Previously, Pakistan is created as a ‘moth nibbled basket case’, with its first prime minister MA Jinnah dying after merely 13 months in office.  Subsequently, the Muslim League splinters into two parties, each vying to win the country’s first general election in December 1950.  HS Suhrawardy is re-elected in the centre, and consolidates power over the provinces.  

As the years have gone by, historians and pundits of all stripes look back to the mid-1950s with increasing fondness.  However, Pakistan under Prime Minister Suhrawardy was every bit chaotic, with all aspects of life being just as contingent on chance, as it is today.


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A brief (alternate) history of India — the rangeela years

Posted in fantasy, what ifs by jrahman on October 19, 2013

Previously: India wins freedom; President Jinnah; President Das; Nehru elected; Nehru’s agenda; Nehru’s first term; Nehru re-elected; Nehru’s second term.

It’s not really clear why President Nehru’s third term is considered the rangeela years.  Perhaps it’s a reference to the introduction of technicolour spectacles — AshokaJodha Akbar and such like — of the era, or more generally, the introduction of colours to Desi films.


Alternate history

Posted in books, fantasy, sci-fi, what ifs by jrahman on January 13, 2013

Apropos nothing, let me talk about alternate history — you know, those fantastic tales where this or that even had or had not happened, leading to a very, or not so very, different history.

As the regular readers would know, there are at least two such series, perhaps three, running in this blog where Bengal, or India, had never been partitioned, or where partition had meant a different kind of Pakistan.  There was even a post about had there been a battle in Plassey.  But when it comes to the subcontinent, the big alternative history subject is about Mughal Empire continuing on beyond the 17th century.  Since the Empire exhausted itself during Aurangzeb’s reign, perhaps had his brother Dara Shikoh had been the emperor, things might have been different?


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Bengal undivided

Posted in Bengal, fantasy, history, what ifs by jrahman on August 14, 2012

I’ve been intermittently posting two series of alternate histories, one with a Pakistan where Bengal, not Punjab, experienced communal cleansing (latest post) and the other is an India that was never partitioned (latest post).  As it happens, even in the unpartitioned India, I imagine Bengal partitioned on communal line.

Does that mean I believe Bengal was always destined to be divided?

No.  I don’t believe there is anything inevitable about history.  There are specific reasons why key players make particular choices, which together with external shocks (sometimes truly random), shape the course of history.  It’s not that hard to imagine a history where Bengal remained undivided, whether as part of India or Pakistan, or as an independent, sovereign state.

So, what if Bengal had not been partitioned?


A brief (alternate) history of India — Nehru’s golden years

Posted in fantasy, what ifs by jrahman on April 4, 2012

Previously: Even though the Noble Mansion agenda stalled in Nehru’s first term, he still managed to win re-election

The 1950s is, of course, considered as somewhat of a ‘golden era’ these days.  Some of it just nostalgia of the older generations.  It is also partly a result of decades of pop culture glorification of Lallywood’s golden days.  But there is also something to the idea that the mid-to-late 1950s were times of general peace and prosperity. 

And the mid-1950s was the heyday of Jawaharlal Nehru’s long political career.  (more…)

A brief history of India — the Das presidency

Posted in fantasy, what ifs by jrahman on October 18, 2010

In previous instalments of the series, we saw the birth of the Commonwealth of India, and the era of its first president MA Jinnah.  This post continues with the brief rule of Chitta Ranjan Das, India’s second president.