Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Focus on the very low tech problems (e.g. food, shelter, equality) of real human being in Africa and Asia
- To me it represents not just the heritage of my parents and all my ancestors but represents the oldest living tradition in the world today.
- It represents an unequalled richness in literature, art, architecture and history.
- It represents a culture of scholars and ascetics who would not even put their own names to their teachings, a culture of warriors who fought bravely in the face of all sorts of enemies and brutalities to ensure the survival of Hinduism when her sister civilisations died one after another.
- It represents a constantly evolving society which has always moved and renewed itself and has always been an open, tolerant and pluralist society.
- It represents a wisdom which belongs to everyone, which has benefited the world in the past, benefits the world today and will continue to benefit the world in future long after we are all dead.
- It represents this and a whole lot more and to me all of these are positive things and therefore to be called "Hindu" should be a matter of pride and honour for anyone, not the swearword that people see it as. CLICK HERE TO COMMENT / DISCUSS
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I find that one sympathizes with another only so long as the other believes in everything he has to say, but as soon as he dares to differ, that sympathy is gone, that loves vanishes. I was ok, when I was restlessly campaign for NIS issue. But when we are campaigning for correcting existing higher education institutions in Orissa and advocates for the need of strengthening primary education in Orissa, a few Non-Resident Oriyas termed me as anti-Orissa? I receive hundred good and letters of bad taste and it seems to me that their hatred and jealousy are so bitter that no why or how can be asked there. I am surprised to think in silence, when I am able to diagnose the reality in life at this age, how people of such great stature and age could not able to understand, how to shape their future and becoming frustrated and restless and demoralizing people, who are working in a mission, in whatever the capacity they are. This should be stopped at any cost.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
The first of these was a tree-planting and meditation retreat. The reforestation project called Sadhana forest works entirely from the help of volunteers including the two dedicated leaders of the project, Aviram and Orit. These two people really practice Brahmacharya in terms of renunciation of worldly possessions and seem to find Santosha, contentment, from this.
For the last three years they have devoted their lives to putting back an almost extinct tropical dry evergreen forest (one of very few on this planet), which the English (bless them), during the colonial times demolished in order to use the wood for their infrastructure – railways, building construction, boats and ornate furniture. It is difficult for me to find forgiveness at this point but I guess they had no idea of the damage they were doing.
It is only due to the local village temples, which are to be found in small groves of ancient trees, that the re-cultivation of new trees has been able to take place. The seeds of these trees have been used for this purpose. Without them the forest would, indeed, be extinct. These trees are and always have been sacred – the English could not touch them. Little did the villagers know back then just how sacred those trees were to become.
The land mass of the original Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest spread all the way from Sri Lanka and up the Coromandel coast of Tamil Nadu, Southern India, usually a strip of around 50 kms wide and including over 1000 species – all of which are under threat. So, having the opportunity to contribute in some small way really felt like an honour. Unfortunately, I was sick for a lot of the retreat but really benefited from the small amount of planting I did do.
It is, I think, worth mentioning that the community, above everything, practices ahimsa/non-harmfulness. All the food is vegan and no animal or chemical products whatsoever are used either on the land or on people – exemplifying how ahimsa is practiced in a tangible way in daily life. In addition, there is a subtle spirituality and awareness demonstrated daily which is all held within the sustainable structure of the project. Ahimsa, then, is the Sadhana.
There is much more I could say about this project but if you wish to know more then please visit: sadhanaforest.auroville.org.in
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
This is Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer’s rationale for upholding the “sanctity and preciousness” of the “civilizational values” of democracy and secularism that India stands for and promotes. “It is time for India to take the lead on the world stage to offer concepts and solutions for social and political upheavals being witnessed in different parts of the globe”, Aiyer said in his plenary address on the concluding day of a two-day seminar at New Delhi on Tuesday.
Jointly organised by the University of Cambridge and the India International Centre, the conference - entitled Politics and Religion in India - generated seminal discussions on the role of religion in the evolution of politics in India and Pakistan.
Religion continues to retain important space in India, but it is the adaptive and flexible concept of the Hinduism that has remained relevant and acceptable, Aiyer said. In his hour-long and erudite speech, Aiyer sought to draw the difference between the ideas of Western secularism (meaning disassociation from all religions), as against the concept of Indian secularism (meaning tolerance and acceptability of all religions).
Presenting his background paper at one of the sessions, former director of the centre for political studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aswin Ray said that the “breakdown of the Nehruvian consensus” during the period of emergency in India was the important-most factor contributing to the growth of communalism in India. Former bureaucrat NN Vohra and strategy affairs expert Bharat Karnad were the other speakers at this session.
- the democratic principle that political sovereignty in any government resides in the citizenry rather than in a divinely sanctioned monarchy,
- the capitalistic principle that economic productivity depends upon the release of individual energies in the marketplace rather than state-sponsored policies,
- the moral principle that the individual, not the society or the state, is the sovereign unit in the political equation, and
- the judicial principle that all citizens, regardless of class or gender, are equal before the law.
Moreover, this liberal formula has become the preferred political recipe for success in the modern world, vanquishing the European monarchies in the 19th century and the totalitarian regimes of Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union in the 20th century. More specifically, the Founding Fathers managed to defy conventional wisdom in four unprecedented achievements:
- first, they won a war for colonial independence against the most powerful military and economic power in the world;
- second, they established the first large-scale republic in the modern world;
- third, they invented political parties that institutionalized the concept of a legitimate opposition;
- fourth, they established the principle of the legal separation of church and state, though it took several decades for that principle to be implemented in all the states.
Finally, all these achievements were won without recourse to the guillotine or the firing-squad wall, which is to say without the violent purges that accompanied subsequent revolutions in France, Russia, and China. This was the overarching accomplishment that the British philosopher Alfred Lord North Whitehead had in mind when he observed that there were only two instances in the history of Western Civilization when the political elite of an emerging empire behaved as well as one could reasonably expect: the first was Rome under Caesar Augustus, and the second was the United States under the Founding Fathers.
What about their failures? Slavery was incompatible with the values of the American Revolution, and all the prominent members of the revolutionary generation acknowledged that fact...Indeed, by insisting that slavery was a matter of state rather than federal jurisdiction, they implicitly removed the slavery question from the national agenda. This decision had catastrophic consequences...Please jump in and add your own thoughts.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
While known more as an economist than a philosopher, in the latter half of his career Hayek made a number of contributions to social philosophy and political philosophy, derived largely from his views on the limits of human knowledge, and the role played by his spontaneous order in social institutions. His arguments in favor of a society organized around a market order (in which the apparatus of state is employed solely to secure the peace necessary for a market of free individuals to function) were informed by a moral philosophy derived from epistemological concerns regarding the inherent limits of human knowledge. In his philosophy of science, Hayek was highly critical of what he termed scientism — a false understanding of the methods of science mistakenly forced upon on the social sciences but actually contrary to the practices of genuine science. Usually this involves combining the philosopher's ancient (and confused) demand for demonstrative justification with an associationist's false view that all scientific explanations are simple two variable linear relationships. Hayek points out that much of science involved the explanation of complex multi-variable and non-linear phenomena, and that the social science of economics and undesigned order compares favorably with such complex sciences as Darwinian biology (see The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies in the Abuse of Reason, 1952 and some of Hayek's later essays in the philosophy of science such as "Degrees of Explanation" and "The Theory of Complex Phenomena"). In The Sensory Order: An Inquiry into the Foundations of Theoretical Psychology (1952), he independently developed a "Hebbian learning" model of learning and memory — an idea which Hayek first conceived in 1920, prior to his study of economics. Hayek's expansion of the "Hebbian synapse" construction into a global brain theory has received continued attention among the best minds in neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, behavioral science, and evolutionary psychology.Spontaneous order
Hayek viewed the free price system, not as a conscious invention (that which is intentionally designed by man), but as spontaneous order, or what is referred to as "that which is the result of human action but not of human design". Thus, Hayek put the price mechanism on the same level as, for example, language. Such thinking led him to speculate on how the human brain could accommodate this evolved behavior. In The Sensory Order (1952), he proposed, independently of Donald Hebb, the connectionist hypothesis that forms the basis of the technology of neural networks and of much of modern neurophysiology. Hayek attributed the birth of civilization to private property in his book The Fatal Conceit (1988). According to him, price signals are the only possible way to let each economic decision maker communicate tacit knowledge or dispersed knowledge to each other, in order to solve the economic calculation problem.
Hayek represented the subjective approach of the free-market oriented Austrian School of Economics, distinguished by its methodological individualism. His economic analysis, therefore, rested upon the insight that every individual chooses and acts in pursuit of his purposes and in accordance with his perception of his options for achieving them. His early writings, as shown above, were in pure economic theory.
Hayek's trade cycle theory explained that overinvestment leads to scarcity of capital compelling a cutback in investment and even the abandonment of a part of the real capital produced because of the excessive investment rate.
His most important discovery was the "division of knowledge" and the spontaneous order. The spontaneous interaction of millions of individuals, each possessing unique information of which beneficial use might be made, created circumstances that cannot be conveyed to any central authority. A system of signals - the price system - was therefore the only mechanism that communicates information and enables people to adapt to circumstances of which they know nothing. The whole modern order and well-being rested on the possibility of adapting to processes that were unknown. It was not scientific knowledge which matters, but the unorganized particular knowledge of time and place.
While for most social philosophers the chief aim of politics consisted in setting up an ideal social order through utopian reforms, Hayek's main task was the finding of rules that enable men with different values and convictions to live together. These rules were established so as to permit each individual to fulfill his aims and to limit government action.
In his "Denationalization of Money" (1976) he convincingly argued that inflation could be avoided only if the monopolistic power of issuing money was taken away from government and state authorities and the task given to private industry to promote competition in currencies.
According to Hayek, cultural evolution was not a result of human reason consciously building institutions, but a process in which culture and reason developed concurrently. The spontaneous social order generated by individuals interacting according to these general rules was distinguished from the constructivist approach exemplified by socialist ideas, which interpreted all order as the product of conscious design.
Hayek's seminal work arose and developed from a comprehensive approach to various intellectual disciplines that condition and influence one another. Although there were only a few direct disciples in academia, Hayek's influence on pure economics, public policy, and social, political, and legal philosophy were tremendous.
During the 1980s, Hayek's interdisciplinary theories gained wider dissemination, especially his opposition to the concept that publc institutions could be designed to meet human requirements and intentions. He preferred an almost laissez-faire approach in which public order evolved from specific ideas and actions. Thus, he was opposed to the highly-centralized economics of the various forms of socialism, which denied the economics of the marketplace.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was greatly influenced by Hayek's ideas of personal liberty and market economics and based many of her government's conservative policies upon her interpretation of his concepts.
In 1991, Hayek published his final volume, Economic Freedom, in which he argued that political/economic coercion is the greatest threat to individual freedom and best achieved through the natural evolution of market forces.
Since Hayek's death in March 1992, there has been continuing debate concerning his interdisciplinary system. It was thought that he diminished the role of reason, and failed to reconcile the value of such liberal institutions as have evolved with their role as preservers and nurturers of reason and freedom. Library > People > Biographies
Monday, February 19, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
The fact is that US Labor history has largely been about keeping the power in the hands of the corporations. What happened to freedom of association? The freedom to form whatever collective you wanted? If you can create a church, a sporting club, a corporation, for mutual benefit then why not a union?
The bottom line is that capitalism needs a pool of cheap labour. And what this means in very plain terms is that in order for the top to enjoy wealth the bottom has to be kept poor...It is always someone else who has to be poor to make America great. ray harris Says: February 15th, 2007 at 5:10 pm Who’s going to clean the toilets? I was watching Newshour (yes, we get it here) and there was an interview with a woman from the US Labour movement. The interviewer was pushing the free market argument as a counter-foil. He argued that the market will correct itself somehow. Those that lose jobs in manufacturing can move to higher paid ’service’ jobs. Say what? No matter what ex-manufacturing workers do next they will all need to eat, wear clothes and someone is still going to have to clean the toilets. In India they created the dalits - the untouchables, to do all the dirty work. The capitalist West is not too far from creating an underclass of untouchables, people we determine shall do the dirty work and get paid a pittance. Not my idea of justice...
Friday, February 16, 2007
One could argue that students are surely better off going to any school than being in the streets. But why should these be the only options? Why can’t the Saudis finance education, the Chinese pay for railroads and electric grids, and the Venezuelans help Cuba’s economy without also hurting poor Pakistanis, Nigerians and Cubans? Because the goal of these donors is not to help other countries develop. Rather, they seek to further their own national interests, advance an ideological agenda or even line their own pockets. Rogue aid providers couldn’t care less about the long-term well-being of the population of the countries they aid.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
What’s ugly are the crass ways members routinely press lobbyists for leadership donations — for things like $5,000 hunting and fishing trips, and a face-to-face cup of designer coffee that costs a donor $2,500. They use the money to cross-pollinate fellow politicians’ campaigns and, more and more, as a V.I.P. slush fund to pay for extra trips and other indulgences that are hardly the stuff of leadership.
Critics in Congress know the free-flowing PAC’s, as the next big scandal waiting in the wings, should be banned under campaign finance law. The leaders of the House Democratic campaign committee, in fact, have already canceled the committee’s annual ski weekend for lobbyists. Members should follow suit and ban the grossly misnamed leadership PACs as a step toward serious campaign finance reform.
“Only a moron would sell a vote for a $2,000 contribution,” said one typical House member preoccupied with fund-raising. The comment unfortunately raises the question of what more tempting price might eventually emerge.
I don't want to be that guy who posted a clip on You-tube imitating Gandhi. But here is a quote that was as refreshing as a cuppa Madras filter coffee.
When Gandhi's movement was started, I said that this movement would lead either to a fiasco or to a great confusion. And I see no reason to change my opinion. Only I would like to add that it has led to both. - Aurobindo June 23, 1926