Wednesday, November 30, 2005
- That ours is one of, if not the, oldest civilization, of which many written records still exist.
- That the Vedas are not the delusions of a poet, but the records of a civilization.
- That the culture that evolved on the banks of the Saraswati and the Sapta Sindhu composed the ancient scriptures, and they were without doubt indigenous people and not nomadic barbaric hordes that brought the glory of the Vedas with the thundering hooves of their horses.
The Aryan Invasion theory (AIT) was propagated by the west to justify their own purposes. If that race brought us this literature common sense demands that they document their own entry into this part of the world. In addition, all the Vedic literature that was supposedly given to us by the invading Aryans has not ONE reference to any region outside the Indian sub-continent. And to think for a moment that a horde of invaders, nomadic in their existence, would produce the sublime wisdom of our scriptures, defies intelligence. Such a vast literature could only have been the product of a civilization that was well rooted and highly developed. Not a constantly moving people on horses !!!!
The Aryan Invasion theory (AIT) propounded by western scholars gives a Eurocentric history of civilization, based on racial parameters. It was used to justify colonialism and derived its fundamentals from Biblical chronology. It states that around 1500 BC ,‘Aryans’ ,a race of fair skinned, blue-eyed, sharp nosed invaders from Central Asia invaded the Indus Valley and drove out the indigenous black skinned Dravidian race that was pushed further down south. This nomadic horde on horses is supposed to have ‘conquered’ a civilization covering an area of almost 800,000 square kilometers.
If it is a racial theory, could the Germans or Europeans be far behind ? Yes, Max Mueller is credited (!!!) with popularizing AIT. "Max Muller, like many of the Christian scholars of his era, believed in Biblical chronology... Given then that the world was created in 4000 BC and the flood occurred in 2500 BC, it was impossible to give the Aryan invasion a date earlier than 1500 BC Also, many of these scholars had dubious credentials and motives. "( D Frawley)
The greater issues involved in this apparently obscure debate are quite significant. If ancient India was a Vedic culture, then we would have to rewrite not only the history of India but also that of Europe and the Middle East. The whole edifice of western civilization’s interpretation of history would go down ignominiously. The change in our view of history would be as radical as Einstein’s ideas that changed our view of physics." (D Frawley)
HindustanTimes.com Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, US based motivational guru and author Deepak Chopra has launched an organisation which will work for harmony and world peace. Launching Alliance For The New Humanity at the UN yesterday, Chopra, favoured complete change in the thinking, making peace the primary goal of all human activity, eliminating words like war from the vocabulary and working for harmony to remove suffering from the world.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
THE book under review spells out the author’s own assessment of JP’s character and motivation of the movement launched by him, and the causes of the imposition of the Emergency in June 1975 by Indira Gandhi. Both steps, according to the learned author, were taken in the name of democracy. Though the actions of both countered their proclaimed purposes. Placing them on equal footing, the author opines that neither was free of blame. The author does not believe that her action was prompted by any fascist or totalitarian bent of mind. He emphatically says India during the Emergency was not fascist or totalitarian. The Emergency was just a derailment of democracy. On the other hand the author has repeatedly emphasised in his book the traits of fascism in JP’s movement, particularly because of the support extended to it by the RSS and its well-known ideologue Nanaji Deshmukh.
- One is the continuing wide gap between the unmet basic needs of the world’s poor and the more-than-adequately-met wants of the world’s rich.
- The other is the equally troubling imbalance between the current excessive focus on Man as the Consumer of material goods and services, and the colossal neglect of the Integral Man who wishes to become a Complete Human Being.
The biggest camp was Kolyma in the Russian Far East. Kolyma was not a single camp but, rather, a region six times the size of France with more than a hundred camps; three million died there between 1931, when it was inaugurated as an island in the Gulag archipelago, and Stalin's death in 1953. Varlam Shalamov has written about his experiences in the camp in the classic Kolyma Tales about which Solzhenitsyn has written: "Shalamov's experiences in the camps was longer and more bitter than my own, and I respectfully confess that to him and not me was it given to touch those depths of bestiality and despair toward which life in the camps dragged us all."
- First, there are differences between Shalamov and Solzhenitsyn, as the British critic, Geoffrey Hosking pointed out. "Where Solzhenitsyn constructs a single vast panorama, loose and sprawling, Shalamov chooses the most concise of literary forms, the short story, and shapes it consciously and carefully, so that the overall structure is like a mosaic made of tiny pieces. Where Solzhenitsyn writes with anger, sarcasm and bitterness, Shalamov adopts a studiously dry and neutral tone. Where Solzhenitsyn plunges into his characters' fates, telling their story from a variety of subjective points, Shalamov takes strict control of his discourses, usually conducting his narrative from an undivided viewpoint and aiming at complete objectivity. Where Solzhenitsyn is fiercely moralistic and preaches redemption through suffering, Shalamov contents himself with cool aphorisms and asserts that real suffering, such as Kolyma imposed on its inmates, can only demoralise and break the spirit."
- Second, central to any discussion of Shalamov's stories is the subject of genre. Here we have a literary form that attempts to bridge the gap between fact and fiction, or faction, something like historical fiction. Shalamov's stories are an artful mixing of fact and fiction where it is not possible to separate aesthetic evaluation from historical appraisal. While the stories should not be accepted as precise factual accounts, it is important to realise that the overwhelming majority of them are autobiographical in nature. When you read the stories you are better informed and "entertained" at the same time. The stories are anchored in historical facts but the factual references never weigh too heavily on your mind or interrupt the flow of the narrative. So, some of the fiction is more true to life than any biography, encyclopedia or history textbook.
The Soviet camp system was not the relatively high-tech factory of death that the Nazis had put in place in their concentration camps. On the whole the system was not designed to mass-produce corpses — even if it did at times. What the Soviets did was to work on the mind, or the mechanism of minimal hope. "You can go on living if you do this or that for our satisfaction." But the doing almost invariably involved a choice so hideous, so degrading that it further diminished the humanity of those who made it.
Shalamov shows how hope mocked again and again can break human identity more swiftly than hunger. But hunger there was, and continuous physical torment, and the sudden cessation of all human privacy. Thus the riddle was not why the inmates did not collectively offer resistance but how it was possible to retain their sanity. Shalamov does not attempt to answer this question; nor does he speak of his sentences in Kolyma. (He was tossed around from camp to camp.) He could have allowed himself some generosity; his modesty did not. All he says is that there is a potential sub-humanity latent in all of us.
Monday, November 28, 2005
JAITHIRTH RAO The Indian Express Monday, July 25, 2005 The Berlin wall fell sixteen years ago. Free market communism of the Deng variety has been in place in China with vim and gusto for about two decades. Latvia and Lithuania, parts of the erstwhile Soviet socialist paradise, have the lowest tax rates in the world! India, unfortunately, remains one of the last citadels of confused statism or shall we say statist confusion. There has been no khullam-khulla acceptance that socialism, or for that matter the socialistic pattern of society, the public sector from its commanding heights or lows, the “navaratnas” and their kin, counter-productive price controls pandering to middle class appetites for diesel and LPG and so on are, in fact, the principal reasons why we remain a poor country. We seem to believe that we will muddle through in a state of schizophrenia where we embrace market-friendly moves on Monday and revert to the socialist womb on Tuesday gifting high interest rates to the labour aristocracy and going round and round in endless hair-splitting about twenty-six or fifty-one per cent of phantoms of the Indic mind. Clearly we need an unambiguous platform that calls for a minimalist non-predatory state, a platform that recognises that but for Avadi, we would today be as rich as Korea or Malaysia. We would not have barefoot children begging in the horror-stricken moonscapes of contemporary urban India. We would not have two hundred million citizens, or shall we correctly call them “subjects” of our socialist state, going to bed hungry each night. We have no money for a well-paid police force or a well-staffed court system or for well-paved roads or for working schools or for employment for the rural poor giving them wages, mind you not doles! We have plenty of money for Ministries of Steel, Fertilisers, Coal, Chemicals, Petroleum, Civil Aviation and Banking with dozens of ministers, scores of secretaries, hundreds of joint secretaries and thousands of deputy secretaries. We never have shortage of funds for growing malignant government cells, but are always short of money for pursuing the proper ends of government. Chinese communists have no problems with flexible labour policies in SEZs. Our stalwarts of Alimuddin Street have to be more catholic than the pope. They oppose in India what they approve of in China. One wonders if they are being paid and guided by Chinese capitalists with the diabolical purpose of keeping India uncompetitive and backward! Can the BJP be the right of centre progressive political party we desperately need in this country? The prognosis is not too sanguine. When they headed the NDA government, only at the fag end of its term did they start to move on privatisations. They reversed the sensible policy inherited from their Janata predecessor and reverted to government tinkering with prices of petroleum products. They indulged in statist patronage in silly matters like licensing petrol pumps. Their sister organisation, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, aired shrill diatribes against free trade. Once out of power, they have opposed platforms for free trade and VAT reform which they had themselves initiated. Their commitment to free markets seems to lack sincerity. The Congress under Rajiv Gandhi had a touch of modernism and when faced with a BOP crisis, Narasimha Rao turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I remember Manmohan Singh’s first budget where he quoted an Urdu poem offering to sacrifice his head, but not budge from his market-friendly plans. It was exhilarating. We all know that radical reforms make an impact only after some lags. We are today reaping the benefits of the reforms of fifteen years ago. But the Congress party seems to be shifting back to weak-kneed socialism. It is as if the embrace of reforms was entirely under duress, not a matter of conviction. Keeping Luddite coalition partners happy seems to take precedence over economic sanity. The intellectual descendants of Avadi, they who would have collectivised us then and who would throttle the nation’s productivity now, are both within the Congress edifice and hovering around it. The danger is that with half-baked reform, we may revert to the Hindoo rate of growth. And reform, rather than its inadequate implementation, becomes the scapegoat. The various versions of the Janata in different states take their lineage from Congress Socialists, the PSP and the SSP — all hysterical non-constructive political forces committed to stealing from the rich before they get rich and not distributing their meager pickings to the poor, but throwing them into vapid fires of pointless noise. They may on occasion have an affair or two with crony capitalism, but a healthy appreciation of free, fair markets, respect for property rights and enforcement of contracts — these are not matters high on their agendas. I am not even dealing with the politics of these groups — the nativist, revivalist platforms associated with the BJP, the dynastic nature of the Congress and the caste obsessions of the Janatas. One cannot move them towards conservative, quasi-libertarian political goals if they do not start with a healthy love for markets and a minimalist state. The Swatantra Party got a great deal of its support from the erstwhile princely order. Indira Gandhi knew this, which is why she defanged the maharajas. The danger of relying on business and industry to drive a new party is obvious. It will almost certainly degenerate into a den of crony capitalism. What, then, is the alternative? We are in desperate need of a Thatcher-Reagan revolution. We must be able to republish the 1962 manifesto of Rajaji and Masani and honestly embrace the market, not play footsie with it surreptitiously. Is there hope for this? I see a glimmer... a mere glimmer of hope, in a coming together of pragmatic regional parties. Now if the NCP, the Telugu Desam, the BJD and a few others came together and transformed themselves into a pro-growth, pro-freedom, anti-state tyranny platform on a national scale, would they pull it off? An intriguing thought — is there a Maggie Thatcher lurking among them? For the sake of our homeland, let us pray that there is one. The writer is chairman & CEO, Mphasis. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, November 27, 2005
The Indian Express: Wednesday, January 01, 2003
- 35.6 percent of MPs in the first Lok Sabha were lawyers.
- By the 11th Lok Sabha, 52 per cent of the House were farmers.
- Widening democracy brought in exciting new sons-of-the-soil who were strongly popular but badly behaved. The Cambridge-educated Indrajit Gupta once lamented long and loud after the Yadav brotherhood had stormed the well for the nth time.
- Younger MPs today privately admit that Parliament is either dreary or violent.
- In the recently concluded winter session, for example, there were only 28 MPs present during the debate on disinvestment.
- During the debate on drought, the government was hard pressed to find the numbers required to meet the quorum. Besides, when was the last time you heard a really interesting speech from an MP?
Saturday, November 26, 2005
- Home truths about civil society: Makes understanding of concepts like liberty, rights, choices, trade, free market economics, democracy, development, poverty, governments and tax a child's play. THE ADVENTURES OF JONATHAN GULLIBLE — A Free Market Odyssey Ken Schoolland Academic Foundation The Hindu Tuesday, Jul 26, 2005
- Can poverty become history? Sach's agenda of action — a unique informed vision of the keys to economic success in the world today and the steps necessary to achieve prosperity for all. THE END OF POVERTY — Economic Possibilities for Our Time: Jeffrey D. Sachs; Penguin Books The Hindu Tuesday, Jul 26, 2005
The picture Sachs paints is grim. Bulk of the poor countries which are in Africa are not only poor but are devastated by the burden of diseases which cripple their productivity and livelihoods. Nearly 10,000 Africans die every single day because of AIDS, TB and malaria. The tragedy is even greater as these deaths are preventable. Poor nations are caught in the classic poverty trap. Low income leads to low savings and investment, which in turn lead to low growth of income. They cannot fight their way out of this vicious cycle on their own without help from outside and that too on a massive scale. If aid falls below a threshold level, it does not have much impact. Sachs argues that the aid so far made available to Africa has been so negligible that one should not be surprised that it had made no impact on poverty.
His core recipe for ending poverty is massive capital infusion into the poor countries to enable them to come out of the low equilibrium trap. The first three decades after the Second World War witnessed an enormous growth of the literature on development economics, ushering in concepts such as "disguised unemployment", "balanced growth", "big push", "leading sector" and "take off". The basic question was how to initiate the process of self-sustaining growth in the poor countries. All economists recognise that for poor countries to grow, external assistance is important. Often a parallel is drawn to Marshal Aid. This is interesting but not quite appropriate.
Good governance in one way or another is an important issue. Some of the poor countries have indulged in the luxury of armed conflicts. They have thrown up leaderships totally unconcerned with growth. These factors, nevertheless, do not take away the need for extending assistance and that too on a significant scale. Jeffrey Sachs has done a commendable job in arousing our collective conscience to a tragic reality. The poor nations need aid — immediately and in a substantial measure. For this to happen, there has to be an attitudinal change. The rich nations can afford to give it. "Enlightened globalisation", as Sachs calls it, can lead to eradication of poverty.
I have ceased to be surprised by the incredible ignorance, stupidity and hype that’s generated to tackle extreme poverty. Poverty is big business today. Thousands of jobs in the North depend on churning out sensational figures in glossy magazines highlighting how the poor will remain poor unless more funds are allocated. How do we start explaining to these insensitive “experts” what it feels like to face fear, death, hunger, starvation, exploitation, discrimination, injustice every day of their lives? How do we convey the urgency, impotence and anger these glorified paper pushers can never feel? If we are to believe Jeff Sachs, the problem is money. So what’s new? A change in mindset does not need money. Taking the poor into confidence and letting them implement their own schemes does not require more money. The people have their own inexpensive solutions that would baffle the urban expert. Give them an opportunity and a chance to apply it for their own development. There is enough money for drinking water and sanitation if the experts listen to the low-cost, community-managed and community-owned solutions of the people. There is not enough money if they listen to the solutions offered by (un)qualified water engineers. The writer is the founder of Barefoot College, Tilonia
- Open societies enable the full flowering of our individual personality.
- Open economies provide the space for the fruition of our creativity and enterprise.
- Open societies and open economies empower those who live and work in them.
- Being an open democratic society and an open economy empowers India.
- Provision of effective social safety nets for the weak and needy will ensure that all sections of our population will participate in processes of social and economic growth, making for a more inclusive society.
Friday, November 25, 2005
INDIA EMPOWERED TO ME IS When armchair elite step out of their ivory tower, listen to real India MULAYAM SINGH YADAV The Indian Express Saturday, November 26, 2005
Suddenly, I felt embarrassed by my petty concerns and my niggling mind. I am struck by the contrast of our lives—the fecund richness of her sacred world, and the poverty of my weary, sceptical, feeble existence. This is where our empty secularism has gone awry. We have lost the holy dimension in our lives. We are quick to brand her superstitious, illiterate, and casteist. She is, in fact, far more tolerant and accepting of diversity because she is capable of seeing God everywhere.
In my world of museums, concert halls, and bookstores, there is plenty of search for beauty, but there is no place for the holy. The answer for an authentic life, I think, lies with the woman in Madras, in whose attitude lies the possibility of a fullness and wholeness of being. Gurcharan Das TOI Sunday, February 21, 1999
Thursday, November 24, 2005
- Where is the spirit of social reform in today’s educated leaders, particularly those like Jaitley who are uniquely placed to lead the younger generation?
- Why are they instead proliferating a social conservatism by which Hindu ‘virtue’ is to be measured by yardsticks like glittering rituals, the thickness of sindoor and a bewildering denunciation of Muslims?
- Why will politicians like Jaitley not rise in Parliament and instead of banging on about the foreign threat to the Hindu rashtra make a speech on how young politicians like him are committed to an egalitarian society?
Jaitley will not make such a speech because his alter ego is Modi. Jaitley is economically progressive but socially conservative. Jaitley’s alliance with Narendra Modi is indicative of a cultural revolution let loose by the present ruling dispensation. This is a revolution by which the affluent and the educated have become anti-modern. A revolution by which it is fashionable to have a mind as narrow as your trousers.
- Ekta Kapoor wears tiger skin miniskirts but produces soap operas venerating women as Hindu doormats.
- Matrimonial advertisements for scholarly IIT graduates demand brides from specific castes.
- Mumbai, citadel of new India, has been a prisoner of the Shiv Sena for well over three decades.
- College graduates model high fashion clothes but prefer to have their marriages arranged by their parents.
- An Infosys employee in the US, supposedly on the cutting edge of economic modernity had to go under a cloud of sexual harassment.
In sharp contrast to Raja Rammohan Roy who used his education and his social privileges to reform society, Arun Jaitley is using his education to make Modi fashionable.