Would War have made South India(ns) different?

The role of war in molding a region and its people has long been debated. The blood and gore of violent conflict, the deaths and injuries, the subterfuge and suspicion of combat, the curfews, scarcities and rations, the resulting nationalism and patriotism etc, are all seen to play a part in how societies emerge and evolve after the guns go silent.

The tough ruggedness of North Indians, for instance, is generally attributed to the skirmishes which that part of the country has weathered over centuries. Is the relative lack of aggression among South Indians because we have been cut off from such savagery? Would we have been different had we gone through similar strife? For better or for worse?

These are old questions, and the historian Ramachandra Guha approaches one of them in The Hindu Sunday magazine:

“Malavalli has been untouched by war for the past 200 years; so, in fact, has the whole of South India. This fact needs to be more carefully pondered by professional historians as well as by ordinary citizens.

“For, of which other part of India, or indeed of the world, could one say that two centuries have passed since the cannons boomed and the tanks roared? In this respect we South Indians have been very fortunate indeed…

“Of all the regions of the world, perhaps only Oceania has been as lucky as South India…

“Of all the regions of India and the world, only we in the South have been exempt for so long from the horrors of war and civil strife.”

Read the full column here: The luck of the south