(Birth of Mankind~2000 BC)
Part I ( 6 Million to around 1 million/70000/50000 years ago)
“Our closest living relatives include chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. The chimpanzees are the closest. Just 6 million years ago, a single female ape had two daughters. One became the ancestor of all chimpanzees, the other is our own grandmother.”
- 1Yual Noah Harari
1. By most popular accounts, one day in the past, the “Apes” decided to walk on two feet instead of four. The newfound “bipedal” skill made them move out of the trees and they straddled the earth like an open fiefdom, not limited by any boundaries. They crossed rivers, forests, mountains, and seas; found new lands and made them their own. They ate what they could lay their hands on; reproduced and died. They went in different directions and established their own clans in different parts of the Earth. Unbeknownst to them, however, they had sowed the seeds of “Grand Strategy” and “Great Power” competition, which would be played out 2000 years after Christ was born.
2. The seeds they sowed, flowered into numerous clans, the 2Rudolfs’, Erectus’, Neanders’, Solos’, Flores’, Denisovas’, Ergasters’ and many more. As time pass passed, each of these clans encountered huge flames or “Forest Fires”. Terribly upset that all the smaller game and vegetation had turned to ashes, they soon realised that the burnt food was easier to tear and eat. From then onwards, they waited for the next “forest fire” and celebrated the “Feast” on those days. Some of the youngsters started investigating, how does it start? And soon, lo and behold, they could create their own ‘Fire’. The elders in the clans joked that the youngsters seem to have smaller heads, but nonetheless had more of what “mattered” between their ears. The ‘Fire’ lit by those youngsters has turned into “Firepower” that could burn down the whole Earth, many times over in no time.
3. The “Sapiens”, one of the clans, had decided to stay back and for so many years really didn’t bother about their other relatives. However, they finally got bored and decided to venture out. Now, remember they were holed in for so many years that they were very different from the other clans. Physically, the other clans, for eg. the Neanders’ were stronger, but the Sapiens’ worked well in teams. So, what happened when different groups of Sapiens’ met other groups of clans in what we now know of as Europe/Asia/Australia? No one knows for sure except that by and by, it seemed that the other clans disappeared and there were only Sapiens left on Earth. Did they 3'Replace’ others by annihilation? Did they “Interbreed” and overpower others by “Love”? Well, let's just say that, the Sapiens’ like the “Interbreeding” story better as they like to think of them as nice people.
One is never really sure though, as much later, one of the Sapiens’ did talk of something on the lines of 4"Survival of the Fittest” and another propounded on 5" The Clash of the Civilisations”. Come to think of it, why were these Sapiens’ fellows talking about ‘survival’ and ‘clashes’ stuff, when they were all of the same clan. Well, it can be explained by modifying what another of these Sapiens said, 6"Frailty, thy name is, ‘Sapiens’ Woman.” With none of the other clans existing now, the ‘Sapiens’ have expanded the game and now find divisions amongst themselves, they divide themselves into imaginary “groups”, call each other “Citizens/Aliens” and have found ways to slaughter each other numerous times.
Part II (~ 50000 years — 15000/10000 years ago)
The Sapiens’ settled and populated almost every corner of the earth. They managed to cross oceans to ‘Australia’ and ‘Americas’ and annihilate animals some call small and big, including some Mega size ones, called Megafauna, with primitive ´sharpened sticks’ which could be catapulted through a combination of ‘string and pliable wood’. All of this as they were ready to “row together” and “kill in groups”. Having ventured into water and found these soft, bony creatures, named ‘fish’ they had become very fond of them and loved to put them (along with almost everything they ate) ‘on fire’ before eating. They also discovered ways to protect themselves from the cold by tying hides together with some strings and ugly holes created through sharp stones.
As food became easier to get and they could deal with physically stronger animals with the fire and other ‘weapons — the sharpened sticks ‘ they discovered new ways to ‘make life easier’ every day. Naturally, they had more time available from running to save their lives or fighting and hunting animals and they did the next best thing, they multiplied and soon totaled around a Million, give or take a few thousand. Around these times, some strange things happened. 7They started making more advanced tools, burying their dead with ceremony and expressing a new kind of self-awareness with beads and pendants for body ornamentation and in finely wrought figurines of the female form. They started calling their clan “Humanity”, which surprisingly meant “the quality of being humane or benevolent”. To be fair they did show some of this benevolence at times, by being nice to some animals like cows, goats, chickens and horses. By the way, they had started roaming with dogs even earlier and cared a lot for them too.
They had started getting tired of their constant foraging and yearned to be called “settlers”. One day they realised that the seeds that they threw in a plain field had sprouted into a plant. This happened especially if the area was nearer to a river and got sufficient rain. Also, this place had enough grass for the animals for whom they cared. So, they started settling down in small sub-clans in such areas and made makeshift shelters.
Part III (10000–5000 BC)
Two of the “Human” sub-clans, came to be called “Indian” and “Chinese”. Over thousands of years, these groups had settled on either side of a large chain of mountains which came to be called “Himalaya — The abode of snow” by the Indians and xǐmǎlāyǎshān by the Chinese. Although both belonged to the Human clan, they were different in many aspects; the food they ate, the way they dressed, the language they spoke, and the way they thought of other humans. However, they were both large, both in terms of the area they occupied as well as the large numbers of their sub-clans. Soon they dreamt of being ‘Great Powers’ and this was when the seeds of “Great Power Competition” were sown. So, this story meanders to both sides of the Himalayas now to see how these great Powers ‘waxed and waned’ over the millennia as it will make us understand how generations later two children of the ‘same female ape’ may cause the world to end or envision a new bright future for the ‘Human’ race.
One of the Great Games of the Great Powers has been to establish which of them are the older sub-clan, claims, and counter-claims by academia, nationalists abound. However, in the beginning, since the masses were mostly bothered about food and the tools for obtaining/preserving them, the competition starts with food & implements. If it were only rice, the Chinese would have won, as they cultivated it 810000 years ago in the Yangtze valley, whilst Indians did it 7000 years ago in the Gangetic plains. 9However, the Indians clearly doubled down on the Chinese in the wheat/barley cultivation, and that too by thousands of years. A sideshow to the battle for grains, was the evolution of cave art and pottery. Whilst cave art is, well all but art, pottery, though often treated as art, has a pronounced utilitarian aspect. Very often, though, the waters have been muddied and nationalistic fervours have led to competing claims by both Indians & Chinese. Every time a claim is made by one side which dates beyond the other side's past glory, the other side soon finds a site that revises the claim. So much so, that we now have breached the period of 10000 years, and claims for pottery up to 20000 years are being made, thus throwing the concept of the Neolithic age itself out of the window. Suffices to say, that when the Chinese hard-sold to the westerners, that they were an older civilisation than the Indians and like in every other field published articles in western publications regarding various discoveries, they did establish a lead. The Indians are now trying to catch up with renewed urgency in discovering their own past. Therefore, the cave painting and pottery races are probably still on and both sides may share the spoils.
To be honest, the Indian claims are also not unchallenged. For instance, it has been said 10 “The history of India has scarcely a single unchallenged date prior to the 9th Century AD, but China’s history yields dates, verifiable by eclipses, that go back to 9th BC. Adjusting clock and calender to diurnal, planetary, and astral cycles was essential to cosmic harmony and so a major pre-occupation of all Chinee rulers.”
Part IV (Upto 2000 BC)
The Indians pride themselves on the Indus Valley civilisation, which had almost 1400 well-planned towns and cities with around 80,000 people living in these cities almost 5000 years back. The sophistication of these towns with civil plans which provided for drainage, citadel-like protection and the existence of complex engineering centers, like docks for ships along with trade relations with the Sumerians in the West make it a hands-on winner. Not to be left behind, the Chinese claim a similar, old civilisation settled on the banks of the Yellow River and the Yang-Tze, to challenge the narrative that they did not have the archaeological equivalent of Harappa, Mohen-jo-daro, Lothal etc. for many years. Many say that 11"One of the biggest chapters in humanity’s story, the birth of civilisation, may need to be rewritten.” So, in the game of the older clan, Liangzhu, in the Yangtze delta is a town that is part of the 5,000-year-old Chinese civilisation that time forgot, has made a quiet entry. The Indians, slip in Kashi, the legendary city considered to be over 10000 years old. Claims and counter-claims continue to tumble out from the garbha-grihas of history. This round, however, goes to India for the investigations in the Indus Valley civilisation were completed much before Linagzhu came to light.
Another battlespace between the clans is that of the way they conversed, their languages. This battle is of course very important, as a language in the oral form creates conversations that move one beyond the realm of informal communication. Accompanied with the written word, language is probably one of the cornerstones of intelligence or at least means of how ‘intelligence’ is conveyed and transferred to progeny. By many scientific counts, 12Indian languages, Tamil and Sanskrit are believed to be 5000–4000 years old whilst the Chinese languages, are not considered to be older than 3500 years old.
As intelligence dooms, the ‘elements’ get metamorphised into ‘God & Religion’. ‘Fire’, which was feared and then harnessed, was also worshipped as ‘Humanity’ tried to explain ‘Creation’. Though they differ on almost everything, one of the few principles on which the majority of the Humans agree, is that the ‘ages & eons’ have been divided into two distinct parts, ‘Before Christ’ and everything which happened after Christ was born. But much before Christ was born, the Indians came up trumps with their religious magnum opus epics, the Ramayana & Mahabharata which were claimed to be around 7000 and 5000 years old respectively. Though these epics were written much later, the stories told in them, often described by detractors as just ‘stories’, have been often proven to be correct through non-archaeological but astrological calculations. Even the treatises called ‘Vedas’ have been found to be older than the Ramayana, using similar means. Also, considering the pre-historic Indian penchant for passing down knowledge through the ‘spoken’ word instead of the written word, purportedly to ensure that the exact ‘pronunciation’ and ‘bhav’ is passed down from one generation to the next, these Epics could actually be as old as the Indian claims.
The Chinese, in contrast, have been unable to present anything which even compares to the literary grandeur and depth of the Indian Epics. Probably, because, 13" though by no means Godless people, the ancient Chinese were reluctant to credit their gods — or God — with anything so manifestly implausible as creation’. Probably, these guys were the original Communists. 14"Those who believe that Politics and Religion do not mix, understand nothing.” The Chinese and Indians initial ideas of religion soon gave way to a societal order which had the ‘rulers’, those who were nearer to the Gods and the ‘ruled’, who were banished to be dependent on the ‘rulers’ for leadership and mediation to ‘God’. This was the origin of Politics, somewhat similar beginnings for both the sub-clans, but which has now metamorphosed into two vastly different political ideologies, which today stand at logger-heads.
Politics, over the years, is what separates the great-great-great granddaughters of that one ape, a romantic way of looking at Indo-China, many would say. However, from the long lens of Evolution and also from the ‘Black Swan’ events like annihilation by an alien attack, climate change or an asteroid strike, what seems to be strategic thinking, may not really be the same. Increasing the time-frame to millenniums and enhancing risks from the level of land-grabs/salami slicing to existential dangers to humanity, would pivot strategic thinking from say, Star Wars to Space Cooperation.