The spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India's spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure. That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to her psychic and spiritual practice. -- Sri Aurobindo (from the message broadcast on the eve of August 15, 1947)

Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Western languages do not have words to properly express our ideals and values

Organiser Home Page: 34/37 Home > 2008 Issues > February 24, 2008
Annual Convocation of Anand Agriculture University in Gujarat. Make mother tongue the medium of instructionK.S. Sudarshan

RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri K.S. Sudarshan has stressed the need for imparting education in colleges in mother tongue. He was speaking at the annual convocation of Anand Agriculture University in Gujarat on February 11. He said the annual convocation has a great importance in the life of a student, as it is the moment in the life of the student to get the fruits of his/her hard work. “Post-graduation for graduates and agriculture scientists for the post-graduates are the further steps for the students here. In fact, there is no limitation for education. We should continue to learn till we breathe our last,” he said.

He said even after 60 years of Independence we continued to follow the Macaulay system of education, which only aimed at making us blind follower of western culture and killed our self-respect. The British tried to destroy our old traditions because they felt them as the greatest danger for the stability of their empire. “Education is not just the medium of interaction. It is also a medium of carrying forward our ideals and values of life. But the western languages do not have words to properly express these ideals and values. It is possible only in our Indian languages,” he added.

“How is it if the medium of instruction in this university is Gujarati or Hindi? I appeal to the Vice Chancellor and the learned members of the Council to take steps in this regard so that the university could become a leader in this task also and the children of farmers do not need to waste their time and energy on any foreign language. In no developed country of the world like China, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, etc., foreign language is the medium of instruction, he added.

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FOC Page: 7/39 Home > 2005 Issues > December 25, 2005
Sahitya Parishad honours literary persons in Delhi. Indian languages should be promoted K.S. Sudarshan

“Strong efforts that were needed to propagate Sanskrit and Hindi after Independence were not made on the part of the government. The non-governmental and social organisations have rather done a lot to save and propagate these languages. But the fact that must be kept in mind by everyone is that the bhav-jagat of our Indian languages cannot be explained in European languages whether it is English or any other language. Therefore we should work for strengthening our own languages rather than running after foreign languages,” said RSS Sarsanghachalak, Shri K.S. Sudarshan. He was addressing a gathering of noted literary persons who assembled at Hindi Bhavan in New Delhi on December 10. The function was organised by Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Parishad to honour the literary persons of different Indian languages.

The word, Capitalism was first invented by the English novelist, William Makepeace Thackery

Exchange Pre-Dates Capitalism from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy

Adam Smith did not write about what became capitalism in the mid-19th century (when the word was first invented in English by an English novelist, William Makepeace Thackery (The Newcomes, 1854).

Smith wrote about small scale merchants and manufacturers, and local town markets where produce was sold from near and far but definitely not in ‘big boxes’. Most business was small scale, funded by scrimped savings from past incomes, occasional inheritance, and modest borrowing. They were single owners or small co-partneries, in which the owners pledged all their assets in cases of bankruptcy – their liabilities were unlimited and extended to their entire fortunes.

There were a few larger-scale enterprises in coal mining, potteries, engineering works and shipping, but for the most part capital-stock was scarce, risky and carefully managed. By the end of the 18th century and through the 19th century, larger amounts of capital became available, associated with the entrepreneurial innovators, as a separate capital-owning stratum slowly emerged, eventually able to amass large capitals. New organizational forms appeared, re-modelled from the large chartered monopoly trading companies which had been formed to serve overseas trade and colonies, but without the trappings of monopoly powers and closely linked to civil projects and technological innovations.

The famous ‘butcher, brewer, and baker’ example long pre-dated 19th century capitalism. It was linked to the pre-historic propensity to ‘truck, barter, and exchange’, which Adam Smith regarded was the core principle of human behaviour in the simplest of market-place transactions. Fittingly, it appears in Book I of Wealth Of Nations as a necessary consequence of the division of labour and specialisation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Knowledge about the east is generated not through actual facts but through imagined constructs

Much has been said of the cultural clashes between Australia and India. Aussies by nature are aggressive, however it should be remembered that just because Indians are accommodating, soft spoken, peace loving and have patience, it does not imply that Indians are cowards. Let the spirit of India be fair, alive and vibrant. home > World > Clash of cultures Tumpa Mukherjee, 25 February 2008, Monday

Non-resident Asians often vent their feelings as to how they suffer injustices on foreign lands. In the busy streets of London often a person from the Asian subcontinent is referred as ‘Pakis’. But the silent suffering of individual remain hidden, only when it hits the headlines and becomes international news we become conscious of our location within the gamut of the international arena.

The underlying assumption is very clear – if you are Asian by origin, an oriental, your integrity in every sphere of life will be doubted by the self-proclaimed rulers of the world - the occident. A few years back Edward Said in his magnum opus Orientalism had pointed out the Orient-Occident relation - a relationship of sub-ordination and super-ordination. Orient is shown weaker than the Occident. The West (occident) possesses a stereotype, prejudiced idea about the East.

The central idea was that knowledge about the east is generated not through actual facts but through imagined constructs that imagines all the eastern culture to be similar, all sharing crucial characteristics that are not possessed by the west and the Western world is there to dominate, restructure and have authority over the East (the orient). The West is projected, as a superior culture compared to the East. It is a relationship of self-proclaimed cultural supremacy of the West over the East, which leads to establishment of cultural hegemony of the west over the east.

Not so long ago a premier from the western world remarked as an aftermath of 9/11 that either you are with us or with them. The dichotomy of us/them has led to the polarisation of the world into the ‘modern rational west’ and the ‘irrational east’. In this particular incident Ricky Ponting representing the occident, dictates the world of cricket. If he asserts while fielding that the opponent should be declared out, the umpires have to oblige him. Off the field the match referee has to oblige him by passing a verdict banning cricketers from the oriental world. Then `fair` cricket is played in true spirit. However if Sachin Tendulkar bears testimony of the fact that Bhajji had not expressed any racial views, his statement is ignored.

In the world of politics the President of United States of America dictates terms to the international community. He felt Saddam Hussein should be punished and irrespective of worldwide criticism Hussein had to be sent to the gallows. If he feels like waging war against Iraq, Afghanistan, the others countries have to dance to his tune. All these wild actions are justified to restore security, safety in the world and protect human rights of the present and next generation.

In the early twentieth century Sir John Woodroffe, a scholar and a writer on Indian philosophy, published a book titled ‘Is India Civilised?’ He wrote this in an answer to the negative criticism of Indian culture by the English drama critic William Archer. Indian philosopher and yogi Sri Aurobindo was in harmony with Woodroffe and used that book as the starting point to express his idea on Indian culture, which have been published under the title The Foundations of Indian Culture.

The world is closely looking at Auroville for its efforts to find a new society

National Auroville, cynosure of the world The Hindu Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 Staff Reporter
“Human unity is the first step towards a better world”
140 commercial units operate in Auroville
Township planned for 50,000 people — Photo: T. Singaravelou R. Meenakshi, an Aurovillian, addressing a press conference at Auroville in Puducherry on Monday. PUDUCHERRY:
Travelling through a challenging and progressive path in the last 40 years, Auroville is moving towards forming a new society, a new way of living. The world is closely looking at Auroville for its efforts to find a new society, a panel of Aurovillians said on Monday.
Addressing a press conference here, member of the Outreach Media team of Auroville, Mauna van der Vlugt, said mankind is looking for a new unifying approach to tackle issues such as climatic changes and population explosion. Human unity is the first step towards a better world.
With around 2,000 residents from more than 40 countries, the Auroville community has a double role, secretary of Auroville International, Friederike Muhlhans, said. “We have to bring Auroville in contact with the outside world and bring the world in contact with Auroville,” she added.
Ms. Muhlhans said people are longing for an approach to bring the human family together and so they look forward to Auroville.
More than 140 commercial units operate in Auroville, including handicrafts, food processing, clothing and architecture, with 5,000 people employed here.
Aurovillian R. Meenakshi said the villages around Auroville have accepted them and also support the works.
“The township is planned for 50,000 people and has four zones – international, cultural, industrial and residential. Efforts are on to introduce guidelines keeping in mind the ecological concerns,” architect Lalit Kishore Bhati said.
Experiments, with vast range of aspects in green constructions and earth constructions, are part of the township.
Aiming at a cashless economy, the Aurovillians said people working there are either self-maintained or maintained by the community.
“We brought in a new structure where there is no need for exchange of money. When provided what you need, you work for developing yourself. This simplifies life and there is less stress. Possessing money is suddenly not needed and this new system is spreading,” the Aurovillians added.
Auroville will celebrate 40 years on February 28. Starting with a bonfire and kolam ceremony, there will be a symposium on the theme of ‘Auroville and the Ideal of Human Unity.’
The celebrations will end with a cultural performance by Mallika Sarabhai and her troupe on ‘Savithri, Flame of the Future.’

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The inaugural lecture will be delivered by Claude Arpi, French Tibetologist and author

Friends of Tibet * A N N O U N C E M E N T S *
‘Indian Cartoonists on Tibet’ (Pondichery March 14-31, 2008)
'Indian Cartoonists on Tibet', a trevelling exhibition from Friends of Tibet will be on display at the Tibet Pavillion of Tibetan Culture, Auroville from March 14-31, 2008. The inaugural lecture will be delivered by Claude Arpi, French Tibetologist and the author of 'The Fate of Tibet' and 'India and Her Neighbourhood: A French Observer's Views' on March 14, 2008.

This exhibition of selected of cartoons on the Tibet issue (1950-2005) and the tumultuous Indo-Chinese relations will feature the following cartoonists: Shankar, Ranga, OV Vijayan, RK Laxman, Ravi Shankar, Mario Miranda, Rajinder Puri, Prriya Raj, Yesudasan, Nanda Soobben, Abe Gowda, Kaak, Madhu Omalloor, Balu, Thommy, Ponnappa, Morparia and Prakash Shetty. Indian Cartoonists on Tibet (Details) / The Pavillion of Tibetan Culture (Details) To know more about the event, you may call us at: +91.9443006381, +91.9833191592 or email: support@friendsoftibet.org Posted by Team Friends of Tibet at Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

The dynamic, catalytic process of economic liberalisation to redeem Indian society from deep-rooted fissures

Title: Our 'Hindu' identity: A vision for the millennium Author: Srichand P Hinduja Publication: The Time of India Date: December 11, 1997

India is a land with a radiant past. Indian culture is more than five thousand years old and the Vedas are the oldest tradition of knowledge, originally transmitted orally and later in the written form.
The Indian tradition originated three thousand years before the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions came into being. The civilisation that existed on the banks of the Indus flourished in the lap of a culture that far surpassed any other in terms of sheer advancement in thought, science and human development.
Sanskrit had become one of the most perfect linguistic phenomena by way of grammar and phonetics. Research scientists in computer technology and linguistics now feel that Sanskrit's syntactical and scemantical perfection makes it the most suitable language for programming.
The various schools of philosophy that were propagated from this great culture mushroomed into famous international universities, where scholars from all over the world migrated in search of the latest developments in human thought. Takshasila and Nalanda were two such great centres of learning.
The peoples of this civilisation, whatever their caste or creed, called themselves "Bharatvasis". The word "Hindu" was used for them only by foreigners.
The word "Hindu" did not exist in the Vedas nor in the post-Vedic texts of other religions like Buddhism or Jainism. It was the Greeks who used the word Indu for the river Sindhu and its people. The Arabs and Persians who followed them named the race of people living on the other side of this river as "Hindi" and they continue to do so until today.
While Muslims, Christians and Buddhists were seen as adherents of their respective religions, Hindus were considered to be those who lived on a particular tract of land.
Thus the word Hindu refers to all Indians who lived in India, similar to the words, Americans, British, Israelis, Persians, Arabs and Africans, all of which refer to people living in that particular region of the world.
If people claim that Hindus are those who follow the Vedas, again the word "Hindu" cannot be associated with a particular religion. The root of the word Veda is "Vid" which means "to know". In this context, Vedas are books of knowledge and refer to the science and art of living.
The Mongols, Turks and other invaders could not initially penetrate the political network of this region which stretched from Gandhar to Burma, and from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari.
The British used the divisive forces of caste and creed, and the sense of insecurity among the Muslims and other religious minorities to divide and rule.
Greedy and power-hungry politicians have encouraged these divisive forces. Unfortunately, this undermines the pace of foreign investments, decelerates the rate of economic growth and defeats us all in our battle against poverty.
Political, business and social leaders of the country should not encourage activities which hamper our efforts to alleviate poverty and achieve social progress.
Instead, they should bring about a change in the mindset of the people. That change should aim at promoting awareness of the true meaning of word "Hindu", and discourage leaders from using and abusing this word for their political and monetary gains. After all, why should anyone become an "untouchable" simply because the word "Hindu" has become misunderstood?
The word Hindu refers to all Indians and should only be used to encourage a national identity not a religious one.
All of us belong to the same culture and tradition of India, whatever our religious affiliation. Unfortunately, power bases have been built by dividing sections of the society on the basis of religion, caste and creed.
In the developed world, however, politicians who stay in power for a long time cannot resort to such tactics because the concept of nationhood is stronger than identity with a particular religion.
A communist country like China is able to make-the free market work better than India. Modem India faces a stark choice - it can accept divisions of its society which will lead to continuing poverty and undermine social progress, or it can work to integrate the concept of nationhood and build a prosperous future.
The dynamic, catalytic process of economic liberalisation should now be brought forward to its logical conclusion: to redeem Indian society from the deep-rooted fissures that have divided different groups based on caste, religion and creed.
The Hinduja Foundations have established two Dharam Hinduja Indic Research Institutes - one at Cambridge University headed by Dr Julius Lipner, and the other at Columbia University in New York under Dr Mary McGee - to conduct research into the identity of the Indic tradition of knowledge. A third centre has been set up in New Delhi under Dr Kireet Joshi.
I am proud to have descended from the ancient universal Indic culture - a culture that gave birth to universal tolerance.
This is a new vision whereby we can live together, with a sense of common humanity and common purpose for the future, enriching each other from the strengths of our particular traditions, and helping each other overcome the weaknesses of each of these traditions. This should be the new, constructive meaning of the term "Hindu". It ought to be a description that binds us together, through our diversity of faiths and perspectives, into one fellowship. (Srichand P Hinduja is chairman, Hinduja Group and Hinduja Foundations)

Our entire political vocabulary has to be reshaped, revised and reconcepted

Title: India, a Rashtra misconstrued as Nation Author: MM Sankhdher Publication: The Pioneer Date: December 2, 1997

Perhaps it is never too late to learn from the mistakes of the past and begin afresh. I think it would now he appropriate, after 50 years of Independence, in the midst of turmoil, to assess where we have gone wrong. No doubt. it is difficult to identify a single cause for the decline on all fronts: Social, economic, educational, political, moral and intellectual. Even at the risk of contradiction, I daresay that misconceptions about India's reality have caused the greatest havoc to the understanding of our people, their psyche, ethos and aspirations, the way of life and the accepted value-system.
If India has to emerge as a great country in the foreseeable future the first task is to cheek what can be called, "mantra-viplave", that is, the word "explosion". Our entire political vocabulary has to be reshaped, revised and reconcepted. For over half a century, the unending storming of wrongly motivated phraseology, emanating >from western and communist sources, has gone unchallenged. This kind of language has warped the intellect and has landed us in our present plight.
We have drifted from our moorings and have been chasing false ideals. We have chosen to follow the communist or the western liberal paradigms to the complete neglect of our own. Nationalism, born of European experiences, and multinationalism, the creed of the Soviet Union-both have shown disastrous results respectively in terms of World Wars on the one hand, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union on the other. Nationalism precisely meant freedom from colonialism, self-determination and a unity of some common material interests. Inspired by the liberal ideology of the West and reinforced by the American love for freedom, we too, during our fight for Independence, imitated the same pattern of thinking and action thereafter.
Nationalism brought in its train, problems of diversities, disintegration, separatism, secessionism and terrorism. Nationalism implied a process of appeasement of minorities and brought to fore the concepts of composite culture and multiplicity of religions and minorities. It tended to infuse a sinister self-conscious identity in smaller groups and diffused the prime loyalty to the country as a whole. Instead of emphasising the unifying forces, the ideology of multi-nationalism encouraged attacks on the very cultural mainstream. Pseudo-secularism, thus, is the inevitable product of the foreign concept of nationalism that we wove into our constitutional fabric.
A serious fallout of our acute dependence on foreign terminology was the confusion of our traditional concept of Rashtra with the word Nation of foreign origin. Rashtra, misconstrued as Nation, like Dharma translated as Religion, only created semantic misunderstandings, alienating us from our traditional thought processes. The Hindu version of Rashtra is not the same thing as the Nation.
The distinction between Nation and Rashtra is lost to our view. This has caused the term Rashtra-bhakti to erroneously mean loyalty to the nation rather than patriotism. Patriotism evokes a very different sentiment than nationalism. The pure love for the country is the feeling behind the word Rashtra. The love for the country and its cultural unity is not the same thing as exclusively striving for nationhood, self-determination, sovereignty or structuring of a composite culture. As the most ancient peopleon earth, we have evolved a distinct way of life and a distinct identity. We have our own perceptions of destiny and role vis-a-vis mankind. We have sought and found answers to a whole lot of questions about life and existence. We have pursued the search for God without being fanatical. We have a vision of Sarvadharma-sambhava. To strengthen these values and life-guidelines is patriotism, a duty that devolves on us as Hindus.
The Hindu catholicity of outlook and the accompanying tolerance has been a great asset but nowadays it is also showing the need for revision, especially in the face of hostile and pseudo-secularist forces exploiting this virtue as a weakness. Inculcation of patriotic spirit among the Hindus is a sine qua non of turning other converts from Hinduism to return to the Hindu fold. During the course of history. Hinduism, a great civilisation, has been polluted by alien influences.
A country, which has the immense potential to lead entire humanity, is suffering under its own heels. A helplessness seems to have overtaken our society to face the challenges of religious fanaticism, secessionism, terrorism, communalism, and separatism. Economically, the country has been reduced to the status of a beggar surviving on the mercy of international finance. Patriotism alone is the anodyne for the serious maladies, for it demands a complete loyalty to the country and expects supreme sacrifice for the cause.The word Rashtra signifies the country and all that it represents as a heritage, culture, tradition. Desh-bhakti is a call to the people to be prepared to give up every comfort when faced with inimical forces both inside and outside the country. Rashtra is not a mere geo-political concept, it is a category of thought which mystically keeps a patriot in a frame of mind to transcend all material and immediate interests and protect the motherland from calamity, aggression and evil.
Patriotism, thus, is a cultural urge manifest in all beings in this country to treat everything the motherland has given to them as a boon. It is an outer expression of sanskara-a subconscious feeling in every Hindu heart that bleeds when the country suffers. The Hindu is one who would consider no price big enough for saving the country from disintegration and sabotage. Patriotism, in this context, is a civilisational concern for the Hindu, who is ever prepared to arm himself for righting against all anti-patriotic forces. In this sense, patriotism invokes a greater emotional attachment to the motherland. "Janani Janmabhumischa swargadapi gariyasi." The mother and the motherland are both higher than heavens.
The persistent and notorious tirade launched by pseudo-secularists to denounce patriotism as revivalist, communal and obscurantist, needs to be strongly countered by propagating positive concepts of the Hindu classical tradition in order to invoke a sense of pride in the glory of our ancient civilisation. Propagation of patriotism all over the country would reflect the people's desire and resolve to build up the most modem and scientific edifice on the Shastra foundation. Tradition and modernity are now to he blended in unique fashion. not attempted so far. The age-old lesson of keeping the country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir united has to be drilled into the masses who are otherwise sought to be deflected from their righteous path by ill-motivated politicians and a bunch of misguided scholars who have shamelessly distorted all that is noble in our culture.
We have not only to unlearn the false lessons of the recent past via nationalism imposed on us by alien ideologies, we have to relearn our forgotten lessons drawn from our own rich scriptural sources. The concepts of Rashtra-bhakti and Desh-bhakti have to be rendered in a new Idiom and vocabulary. The whole language of politics which abuses Bharat as India Is to be changed, and the shackles of intellectual slavery removed. All the patriotic forces have to be mobilised for launching a massive public education crusade spirited In Vande Mataram.
The task is to resurrect Bharat from India, Dharma from Religion and Dharmasapekshawad from Secularism. It is also to work out the principles of Vasudheva Kutumbakam and Sarva Dharma Sambhava. Above all, Rashtrawad has to be rescued from the clutches of west-oriented Nationalism. This, indeed, is the new paradigm of thinking meant to demobilise the cancerous elements eating into the vitals of our rich heritage and enlightened intellectual culture inspired by spiritual experiences of the saints and sages of yore. (The writer is an academician and author)

Once upon a time, almost every intellectual was a leftist

Communism's left luggage Ravi Kapoor - The Indian Express - December 25, 1997
Once upon a time, almost every intellectual was a leftist - and every leftist could pass himself off as an intellectual. The Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed; at home, the economy was opened up. Socialism was out, bag and baggage. And since the leftist intellectual was part of the baggage, he too...

"Principled" politics (a letter) N. Harihara Subramaniyan, Chennai - The Hindu - December 23, 1997
Sir, - If the BJP-AIADMK tie-up is an unprincipled alliance, can anyone truthfully, say what the principles of Indian politics are? Have not our politicians let them go a long time ago'? Thirteen parties, very different in their ideologies, without any pre-poll ...

What does 'dynamic instability' mean? Sunil Sethi - The Times of India - December 12, 1997
When John Kenneth Galbraith, the modern messiah of economic health in the 1970s and a dedicated India hand, called India a "functioning anarchy" he invented one of those smart phrases that stuck for decades with the persistence of a designer label. It lingered because, in its time, the witticism had the ring of truth. It ...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Co-operation also obtains in abundance just as conflict and competition in this world

By Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya

We had taken pride in resisting things British while they ruled us, but strangely enough, now that the Britishers have left, westernisation has become synonymous with progress. It is true that a narrow sense of nationalism should not be allowed to obstruct the progress of the nation. However western science and the western way of life are two different things. Whereas western science is universal and must be absorbed by us if we wish to go forward, the same is not true about the western way of life and values. In fact thoughtless imitation of the West must be scrupulously discarded. There are those who consider economic and political doctrines of the West as epitome of progress and desire to transplant the same in our country. Therefore when we are trying to decide where wish to take our country and how, we must also take into consideration the basis of various economic and political doctrines of the west and their present position.

The Rise Of European Nations: Among various Isms that affected the West, the principal ones are Nationalism, Democracy and Socialism. At the same time there have been some who cherish world unity and world peace and have made some efforts in that direction.Among these, nationalism is the oldest and the strongest. After the fall of the Roman Empire and decline in the influence of the Catholic Church Europe witnessed rise of several nations. History of Europe in the past on thousand years is the history of the rise of and conflict among various nations. These nations extended their expires beyond the European continent and subjugate other independent countries. Nationalism brought nation and state together resulting in nation states. At the same time the decline in the influence of the Roman Catholic Church gave rise either to national churches or to complete disappearance of religious influence on politics. Anyway the concept of secular state arose out of this situation.

Birth Of Democracy In Europe: A revolutionary concept which made a deep impact on the political life of Europe is Democracy. In the beginning, every nation had a king as its head but there was gradual awakening in the minds of people against the autocracy of the royalty. The industrial revolution and the international trade resulted in the rise of a business community in all nations. Naturally there ensued a conflict between these new centres of power and the established kings and feudal lords. This conflict, adopted 'democracy' as its philosophical basis. The origin of democracy was sought in the Greek city republics. The common man was attracted by the lofty ideals of equality, fraternity and liberty of every citizen. France witnessed a bloody revolution. In England too, there were periodic movements. The idea of democracy gained foothold in the mind of common man. The royalty was either liquidated or their powers were drastically' curbed and constitutional governments were established. Today democracy has been already accepted in Europe. Even those who have suppressed democracy do not denounce it. The dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin too paid lipservice to democracy.

Individual Was Exploited: Every individual got a vote in the democratic setup. But real power stayed with those who had led the revolution. Industrial revolution had generated faith in the new methods of production. Instead of working in the freedom of home, workers had started working in the factories taking orders from the factory owners, The worker migrated from his home town to dwell in crowded cities. There was no provision of proper housing. There were hardly any rules in the factory to protect the worker. He was economically weak and not yet organized. He became a victim of exploitation, injustice and harassment. Those in whom political power was vested were members of the same group who exploited the workers. Hence there was no hope of redress from the state.

A number of persons led movements in protest against this injustice with the desire to improve the lot of workers. They called themselves socialists. Karl Marx was one of them. In an effort to lead the movement against t injustice, he studied the entire history and structure presented his analysis of the situation. He claimed to have given a scientific basis to his theories. All the subsequent socialists might not have agreed with Marx but they all considerably influenced by his ideas.

Dictatorship Of The Proletariat: According to Marx analysis-dialectic materialism the root cause of exploitation lies in the private owners of the means of production. If these means are made the property of the society (for. the Marxist, the Society synonymous with the State) then there will be no further exploitation. But before this. the state should be redeemed from the hands of the exploiters and ensured against their influence in future. Towards this end, dictatorship of proletariat must be established. In order that people tolerate this dictatorship, it was held as an ideal that when the exploiter class has been finally liquidated, and possibility of its resurgence exists, the state will replaced by a classless, stateless society. Marx also attempted to show that capitalism contains seeds of own destruction and that socialism is inevitable.In some countries of Europe there was social revolution. Even where, socialism was not accepted, politicians had to accept the rights of workers. "Welfare State" was accepted as an ideal.

Nationalism, democracy, socialism or equality (equality is there at the root of socialism; equality is different from equability), these three doctrines have dominated European social political thinking. Every now and then apart from these ideals of world peace and world unity also cropped up. All these are good ideas. They reflect the higher aspirations mankind. But by itself each of these doctrines is incomplete. Not only that, each stands opposed to the rest in practice. Nationalism poses a threat to world peace. Democracy and capitalism join hands to give a free reign exploitation. Socialism replaced capitalism and brought with it an to democracy and individual freedom. Hence the West is present faced with the task of reconciling these good ideals. They have not succeeded to this day, in this task. They have tried combinations and permutations, by emphasis on one or the other ideal. England emphasized nationalism and democracy and developed her politico-social institutions along those lines, whereas France could not adopt the same. There, democracy resulted in political instability. The British Labor party wanted to reconcile socialism with democracy but people have raised doubts whether democracy will survive if socialism gains strength. Hence the labor party no longer supports socialism so strongly as the Marxist doctrines advocate. If socialism has been diluted considerably, Hitler and Mussolini adopted nationalist cum socialism and buried democracy. In the end socialism also became a tool for their nationalism which posed a great threat to world peace and unity. We may indeed seek some guidance from the western world but the fact is, it has no concrete suggestions to offer. It is itself at crossroads unable to decide what is good.

Under such circumstances we cannot expect guidance from the West. On the contrary we must consider whether in this present state of the world, we can contribute something to resolve its dilemma. Having taken note of the progress of the world, can we add to the common store of Knowledge? As a member of the world community , we must discharge our responsibilities. If we possess some thing that may prove helpful to world progress we should not hesitate in imparting it to the world. In this era of adulteration, instead of adulterating ideas we must on the contrary scrutinize and improve upon them wherever possible before accepting them. Rather than being a burden on the world, we must attempt to resolve if possible the problems facing the world.We must also consider what contribution our tradition and civilization make to the world culture. We shall consider this tomorrow evening. 22nd April 1965

Bharatiya Culture Is Integrated: The first characteristic of Bharatiya culture is that it looks upon life as an integrated whole. It has an integrated view point. To think of parts may be proper for a specialist but it is not useful from the practical standpoint. The confusion in the West arises primarily from its tendency to think of life in sections and then to attempt to put them together by patch work. We do admit that there is diversity and plurality in life but we have always attempted to discover the unity behind them. This attempt is thoroughly scientific. The scientists always attempt to discover order in the apparent disorder in the universe, to find out the principles governing the universe and frame practical rules on the basis of these principles. Chemists discovered that a few elements comprise the entire physical world. Physicists went one step further and showed that even these elements consist only of energy. Today we know that the entire universe is only a form of energy.

Philosophers are also basically scientists. The western philosophers reached tip to the principle of duality; Hegel put forward the principle of thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis; Karl Marx used this principle as a basis and presented his analysis of history and economics.. Darwin considered the principle of survival of the fittest as the sole basis of life. But we in this country saw the basic unity of all life. Even the dualists have believed the nature and spirit to be complementary to each other than conflicting. The diversity in life is merely an expression of the internal unity. There is complementary underlying the diversity. The unit of seed finds expression in various form - - the roots. the trunk, the branches the leaves, the flowers and the fruits of the tree. All these have different forms and colors and even to some extent different properties. Still we recognize their relation of unity with each other through seed.Mutual Conflict - Sign of Cultural Regression Unity in diversity and the expression of unity in various forms has remained the central thought of Bharatiya culture. If this truth is wholeheartedly accepted then there will not exist any cause for conflict among various powers. Conflict is not a sign of culture of nature: rather it is a symptom of their degradation.

The law of the jungle, "Survival of the Fittest" which the West discovered in recent years was known to our philosophers.We have recognized desire, anger etc. among the six lower tendencies of human nature, but we did not use them as the foundation or the basis of civilized life or culture. There are thieves and robbers in the society. It is essential to save ourselves and the society from these elements. We cannot consider them as our ideals or standards for human behavior. Survival of the fittest is the law of the jungle. The civilizations have developed not on the basis of this law but by consideration of how the operation of this law will be the least in human life. If we wish to progress, we have to keep this history of civilization before our minds.

Mutual Co-operation: Co-operation also obtains in abundance just as conflict and competition in this world. Vegetation and animal life keep each other alive. We get our oxygen supply with the help of vegetation whereas we provide carbondioxide so essential for the growth of vegetable life. This mutual co-operation sustains life on this earth.The recognition of this element of mutual sustenance among different forms of life and taking that as the basis of an effort to make human life mutually sustaining is the prime characteristic of civilization. To mold the nature to achieve the social goals is culture but when this nature leads to social conflict it is perversion. Culture does not disregard or deny nature. Rather it enhances those elements in nature which are helpful in sustaining life in this universe and making it fuller richer, and curbs others which obstruct or destroy life.

Let us take a simple illustration. The relationship such as brother, sister, mother and son, father and son are natural. These are same both in man as well as among animals. Just as two brothers are sons of one mother so also two calves have a single mother cow. Where lies the difference?? In animals by lack of memory the relation is short-lived. They cannot build up an edifice of civilization on these relations. But men use this natural relation as a basis to construct a more harmonious order in life, to establish other relationships flowing from these basic relationships so as to knit the whole society in single unit of co-operation. Thus various values and traditions are built. Standards of good and bad are constructed accordingly. In society we find instances of both affection as well as enmity between brothers. But we consider affection good and aim at enchanting affectionate brotherly relations. The opposite tendency is disapproved. If conflict and enmity is made the basis of human relationships and if on this basis history is analyzed, then it would be futile to dream of world peace to result out of such a course of action.

A mother brings up her children. Mother's love is held up as the highest love. On such a basis alone we can devise the rules regulating the life of mankind. Sometimes there are examples of selfishness and cruelty of a mother toward her child. Among some species of animals mother devise her progeny to satisfy the hunger. On the other hand among monkeys mother carries her child long after its death. Both types of behavior are found among living things. Which of these two principles of nature can be made the basis of civilized life? We cannot but conclude that alone which helps to sustain life can be chosen, the contrary cannot lead to civilized life. Human nature has both tendencies, anger, and greed on the one hand and love, sacrifice on the other. All these are present in our nature. Anger etc. are natural to man and beasts. For the reason if we make anger a standard in our life and arrange our efforts accordingly then the result will be a lack of harmony in our. life. Therefore the exhortation, "do not yield to anger". Even. when the anger arises in one's mind one can exercise control over it and one should do so. Thus control becomes a standard of our life and not anger.

Such laws are known as the principles of ethics. These principles are not framed by anyone. They are discovered. A suitable analogy is that of the law of gravitation, that if we throw a stone it falls on the ground. This law of gravitation is not framed by Newton. He discovered it. When he saw an apple falling to the ground from the branch, he realized there must exist such a law. Thus he discovered this law, he did not frame it. Similarly there are certain principles of human relations such as, if one feels anger it is on the whole beneficial to mankind that one must control anger. These principles of ethics are then discovered."Do not tell lies to one another, say what you know to be true". This is a principle. Its usefulness becomes apparent at every step in life. We appreciates truthful person. If we speak lie, we ourselves feels unhappy; life cannot go on; there will be great confusion.

Modern versus Ancient - These Principles Constitute Our Dharma: A child does not speak lie by nature. Often Parents, teach their child to speak untruths. When the child desires something, if parents do not wish that child should have it, they conceal the object and tell the child that the desired object has disappeared. The child may be fooled a couple of times but soon knows the real situation and learns to speak untruth. This fact that by nature a person is truthful is a law that is discovered. Many other principles of ethics are similarly discovered. They are not arbitrarily framed by someone. In Bharat these principles are termed "Dharma", laws of life. All those principles which bring about harmony, peace and progress in the life of mankind are included In this "Dharma". On the sound basis of "Dharma". then, we must proceed with the analysis of life as an integral whole.

When Nature is channeled according to the principles of Dharma. we have culture and civilization. It is indeed this culture which will enable us to sustain and sublimate the life of mankind. "Dharma" is translated here as law. The English word 'religion' is not the correct word for 'Dharma'.As pointed out earlier an integrated life is the foundation and the principle underlying this culture as well as its aims and ideals. We have thought of life as Integrated not only in the case of collective or social life but also in the individual life. Normally an individual is thought of in the physical bodily forms. Physical comfort and luxury is considered happiness. But we know that mental worry destroys bodily happiness. Everyone desires physical comfort. But if a person is imprisoned and there he is given finest of food etc., will he be happy? A person does not experience joy on getting nice food if it is also accompanied by a few abuses...

Similarly there is an intellectual happiness which too must be considered. Even after a person gets comforts for the body, and importance, affection. etc. Which please the mind. if he is involved in some intellectual confusion he is reduced to a state almost similar to madness. And what is madness itself? A lunatic may have all physical comforts, he may be perfectly healthy and properly cared for by his relatives; but he does not posses intellectual happiness. Intellectual peace is also essential and important. We will have to take all these things into consideration. 23rd April 1965

By Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya BJP PHILOSOPHY : Integral Humanism Integral Humanism, the guiding philosophy of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was first presented by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya in the form of four lectures delivered in Bombay on April 22-25, 1965.

Monday, February 18, 2008

This crisis reveals yet again the colossal leadership vacuum India is facing

Home > Edits & Columns > COLUMN His freedoms and ours Pratap Bhanu Mehta Indian Express: Monday, February 18, 2008 Yes, Raj Thackeray is wrong. But his political opponents don’t say what the right argument is

The most disturbing thing about the political fallout from Raj Thackeray’s demagogic revival of crass nativism in politics may not be his own statements. It is rather what the reaction to his statements has revealed about politics in India. Thackeray deserves all the blame he is getting. But it is also time to be blunt and graceless about one disturbing fact. The response of the political class as a whole has been deeply disturbing in its own way along more dimensions than one.
First, as this newspaper’s editorials have been arguing, most prominent Maharashtra politicians have been at best very tepid, at worst downright equivocal, in their condemnation of Thackeray’s underlying arguments. This is the kind of issue that requires politicians from Maharashtra to express unequivocal outrage. Not one major leader, from Sharad Pawar to Vilasrao Deshmukh, has expressed the requisite sense of outrage or engaged in the kind political symbolism that can assure all Indian citizens that they are not quietly complicit in this dangerous madness. This issue demands a united response from other politicians in Maharashtra. It requires a clear signal that this sort of politics will be made a pariah. The absence of such signals suggests that the rot in our polity is deeper.
Second, we seem to be fundamentally confused over what this crisis represents. Faced with an unpalatable and dangerous ideological trend we want to have it both ways. On the one hand, we want to boil it all down to politics. But in democracy when we say that there is a political logic behind some move, it is as much of an indictment of the voters as it is of politicians. On the other hand, we want to reaffirm our fundamental virtue. This is a fringe movement, we want to claim. The daily practices of life, the great ability to live with difference that most Indians embody, so the argument goes, are far too robust to be damaged by marginal elements. But either way we are in trouble. If indeed, such ideological mobilisation can get mass traction we are in trouble. But even if this is a marginal movement, the fact that a lakshman rekha around what citizenship means in modern India has been crossed portends danger. We can lose, because large numbers of people turn over to the dark side; or we can lose, because large numbers of people, even though they have not turned over to the dark side, are willing to let the fringe run riot. Either way we lose.

Third, this crisis reveals yet again the colossal leadership vacuum India is facing. We have assorted chief ministers protesting at the goings-on in Maharasthtra. But they also use a language that refers to their particular constituencies: Biharis defending Biharis and so forth. But no one at the national level is a credible, consistent and forceful embodiment of the basic constitutional values we need to defend. The symbolic functions of leaders, whether they be leaders of parties or holders of high office, is that they consistently remind the nation of the boundaries that cannot be breached. But most of our leaders deal with these sorts of crises in avoidance mode. When the last wave of ‘son of the soil’ politics hit India in the seventies, Indira Gandhi was much more ambiguous in her response; and the contagion spread quickly. But we are now in a political environment where the refusal of our important leaders to express outrage will only embolden every two-bit leader to occupy centrestage.
Fourth, and perhaps most seriously, we need to move away from a discourse of diversity to a discourse about freedom. Of course diversity is something to be cherished, but all the talk of diversity can also lead to some fundamental confusions. For one thing, diversity is quite compatible with segregation and even hierarchy. We often cherish diversity so long as everyone is in their rightful place. The minute implied boundaries are breached, populations mixed, cultures transformed, we scurry back to the protection of our enclaves.

The crisis in Maharashtra cannot be handled by making diversity a bedrock value. Rather the bedrock value of our society ought to be freedom: the freedom to call any place in the country home, the freedom to alter culture, the freedom subject to practical constraints, to speak any language, the freedom to break out of the fetter of compulsory identities. Out of this freedom new diversities and cultural forms will emerge. But at the moment the discourse on diversity fails in significant ways: it is too compatible with the imposition and preservation of compulsory identities, and too compatible with the idea that each Indian has his appropriate place whether by virtue of geography or kinship. Tocqueville once defined democracy as being a society to the effect that where you are going matters more than where you came from. In this sense identity talk of the kind we are seeing in Maharashtra and the responses to it are deeply anti-democratic.
We should also recognise that we are creating institutions that encourage parochialism rather than counter it.

One of the great unwritten tragedies of modern India is the way in which our universities, for instance, are far more parochial in their composition than they were 30 years ago, all products of an ideology that was committed to the proposition that institutions be held hostage to the imperatives of identity politics. Indeed, it is time we gave up the comforting illusion that dangerous forms of identity politics are simply instrumental in their objectives: a form of vote- bank politics, or a resentful expression of underlying economic dynamics. Neither of these explanations is very convincing. Instead, we should confront the more radical thought that these ideological tendencies may indeed be becoming a cultural common sense; the prison house of collective identities a more secure place than the uncertainties of freedom.
The reason to worry about Raj Thackeray is not that he is being cynical; the reason may be the opposite: he is being sincere. Calling him cynical may be the easy way for us to go into avoidance mode. Or worse still, making him a scapegoat can be an alibi for not examining the extent to which a whole range of assumptions now guide our behaviour. For the truth is that as India flourishes, the Idea of India, as a space marked by freedom and reciprocity, is slowly dissolving into a series of particularities. The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research pratapbmehta@gmail.com

Saturday, February 16, 2008

How hard it is to tune out the 24/7 entertainment culture

Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge? By PATRICIA COHEN NYT: February 14, 2008

Ms. Jacoby, whose book came out on Tuesday, doesn’t zero in on a particular technology or emotion, but rather on what she feels is a generalized hostility to knowledge. She is well aware that some may tag her a crank. “I expect to get bashed,” said Ms. Jacoby, 62, either as an older person who upbraids the young for plummeting standards and values, or as a secularist whose defense of scientific rationalism is a way to disparage religion.
Ms. Jacoby, however, is quick to point out that her indictment is not limited by age or ideology. Yes, she knows that eggheads, nerds, bookworms, longhairs, pointy heads, highbrows and know-it-alls have been mocked and dismissed throughout American history. And liberal and conservative writers, from Richard Hofstadter to Allan Bloom, have regularly analyzed the phenomenon and offered advice.
T. J. Jackson Lears, a cultural historian who edits the quarterly review Raritan, said, “The tendency to this sort of lamentation is perennial in American history,” adding that in periods “when political problems seem intractable or somehow frozen, there is a turn toward cultural issues.”
But now, Ms. Jacoby said, something different is happening: anti-intellectualism (the attitude that “too much learning can be a dangerous thing”) and anti-rationalism (“the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion”) have fused in a particularly insidious way.
Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.
She pointed to a 2006 National Geographic poll that found nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t think it is necessary or important to know where countries in the news are located. So more than three years into the Iraq war, only 23 percent of those with some college could locate Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel on a map.

Ms. Jacoby, dressed in a bright red turtleneck with lipstick to match, was sitting, appropriately, in that temple of knowledge, the New York Public Library’s majestic Beaux Arts building on Fifth Avenue. The author of seven other books, she was a fellow at the library when she first got the idea for this book back in 2001, on 9/11.
Walking home to her Upper East Side apartment, she said, overwhelmed and confused, she stopped at a bar. As she sipped her bloody mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day’s horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II:
“This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.
The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”
“That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied.

At that moment, Ms. Jacoby said, “I decided to write this book.”

Ms. Jacoby doesn’t expect to revolutionize the nation’s educational system or cause millions of Americans to switch off “American Idol” and pick up Schopenhauer. But she would like to start a conversation about why the United States seems particularly vulnerable to such a virulent strain of anti-intellectualism. After all, “the empire of infotainment doesn’t stop at the American border,” she said, yet students in many other countries consistently outperform American students in science, math and reading on comparative tests.
In part, she lays the blame on a failing educational system. “Although people are going to school more and more years, there’s no evidence that they know more,” she said.
Ms. Jacoby also blames religious fundamentalism’s antipathy toward science, as she grieves over surveys that show that nearly two-thirds of Americans want creationism to be taught along with evolution.
Ms. Jacoby doesn’t leave liberals out of her analysis, mentioning the New Left’s attacks on universities in the 1960s, the decision to consign African-American and women’s studies to an “academic ghetto” instead of integrating them into the core curriculum, ponderous musings on rock music and pop culture courses on everything from sitcoms to fat that trivialize college-level learning.
Avoiding the liberal or conservative label in this particular argument, she prefers to call herself a “cultural conservationist.”
For all her scholarly interests, though, Ms. Jacoby said she recognized just how hard it is to tune out the 24/7 entertainment culture. A few years ago she participated in the annual campaign to turn off the television for a week. “I was stunned at how difficult it was for me,” she said.
The surprise at her own dependency on electronic and visual media made her realize just how pervasive the culture of distraction is and how susceptible everyone is — even curmudgeons.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The clinching evidence for Sethna’s viewpoint would be the unambiguous archaeological discovery of horse remains in the Indus sites

K D Sethna’s Contribution to the Study of Indian Prehistory—by Akash Deshpande
posted by RY Deshpande on Tue 12 Feb 2008 04:00 PM PST Permanent Link

Sethna’s central thesis regarding Indian prehistory, stated negatively, is that there was not in or around the mid-second millennium B.C. an invasion or even a migration of a people into northwest India who brought or later developed the culture and practice evidenced in the Rigveda, and stated positively, is that the Rigveda and its associated culture was developed by a people substantially native to the greater Punjab, in the period of 3500 B.C.-2500 B.C., and it continued as and contributed significantly to the civilization of the Indus valley and other interior settlements.

He does not deny the possibility of an incursion into the Indian northwest circa 1500 B.C. or at other times, but does deny that such presumed intruders were the bearers or later developers of the Rigveda. He does not claim that the people of the Indian northwest developed in isolation; rather he identifies a belt of like civilizations, fairly developed by 4000 B.C.-3000 B.C., spanning the Indian northwest and the Black sea. He does not claim nor deny that the Rigvedic Indians migrated out and colonized Iran and Central Asia, though he does suggest that the civilization in the Indian northwest was the most advanced one in the fourth millennium B.C., based on available evidence.

This focused, clear and defensible statement, unencumbered by ideological postures and fully submitted to Occam’s razor is strenuously defended and convincingly developed by Sethna in his books.

A significant effect of Sethna’s work, aided by the compulsions of mounting evidence, has been to move the main line of discourse on the opposing point of view from the position of a sudden invasion in 1500 B.C. to one of a gradual migration over 2000 B.C.-1000 B.C. into the Indian northwest. The refinement of the opposing position can be said to have broadened it to such an extent that the only remaining major discrepancy appears to be the precedence relationship between the Rigveda and the Indus civilization.

Numerous items have been excavated in the many Indus sites which find no mention in the Rigveda: wheat, rice, cotton, tiger, ass, camel, and indeed the urban and commercial character of the civilization itself is at variance with the contrasting pastoral worldview. While supportive of the precedence of the Rigveda, this can fairly be said to be neither here nor there. There is, however, the mention of horses and chariots in the Rigveda, and these have not, it is claimed, been satisfactorily evidenced in the Indus excavations...

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Recent studies in the subject of human prehistory in general and Indus civilizations in particular (especially because of its charged nature and checkered history) favor primary, quantitative, physical evidence over subjective interpretations of literature or culture. Archaeology, carbon dating, genetics and geological surveys are often relied upon to provide primary data.

Over two thousand sites of the Indus civilization have been discovered. Out of these, less than five per cent have so far been excavated. Amongst those that have been excavated, several have been found that show over eight thousand years of continuous in situ development. Much more is there to be learned from the remaining sites and from still others that are yet to be uncovered.

Genetic studies of the Y chromosome in diverse populations for a record of markers along with their observed rate of mutation strongly suggest a pattern of human migrations out of Africa. It is claimed that the first migration began 50,000-60,000 years ago and traversed South Asia along the coasts, reaching Australia. A second wave of migration began 30,000-40,000 years ago, went north to Central Asia and then entered the Indian northwest. This second wave eventually populated the entire globe over subsequent millennia.

The racial diversity found in India is accounted for by these two waves of early humans, along with minor incursions from the northeast and elsewhere. But their dates are in the remote past, and certainly not in the last 10,000 years or more. Specifically conducted studies have not discovered any gene splash in the Indian northwest in this period of interest. Studies of the mitochondrial DNA consistently yield similar but earlier results, typically by 20,000-50,000 years. Genetic studies conducted so far have been of miniscule segments of the population, and have typically focused on finding the exceptions. They need to be expanded significantly for the mainstream population.

The other techniques are yielding insights into the courses of rivers (especially of the much-described Saraswati of the Rigveda) from geological surveys and locations and epochs of the Rigvedics based on astronomical calculations.

The clinching evidence for Sethna’s viewpoint would be the unambiguous archaeological discovery of horse remains in the Indus sites. There is ample room for such a discovery by patient and professional scientists delving into the secrets of Indian prehistory. Keywords: IndusValley, India, History, Harappan, Arcology

Monday, February 11, 2008

Manmohan Singh, then and now

Budget a panic reaction to market slump: Manmohan Posted By Ashok V Chowgule - The Financial Express - 7 March 1997 Former finance minister and senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh on Thursday criticised the union budget as 'being on the side of extravagance' and opposed proposals like reduction in corporate tax and personal income tax. Speaking at a meeting of the Congress parliamentary party (CPP), ...
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Petrol hike unlikely before budget Sify, India - ... and Congress allies made a case before the prime minister, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for a populist budget. ... UPA allies push for populist budget Economic Times CPI(M) seeks people-friendly, pro-farmer budget Hindu, India - He said his party had already submitted its suggestions to Finance Minister P Chidambaram on the budget. Karat, who was here to participate in the 22nd ...

Importance of religion in the moral and cultural life of Indians

Title: Faith safe mechanism Author: Nirmalendu Bikash Rakshit Publication : The Telegraph Date : February 27, 1997
Although the 42nd amendment to the Constitution inserted the term "secular" in the preamble in 1976, the ideal of secularism was recognized as far back as 1949. The original Constitution tacitly accepted it by its declaration in the preamble that it would provide "liberty of thought, expression, faith and belief' to all. But as the preamble is not included in the operative part of the Constitution, the ideal needed legal recognition by means of written provisions.
The guarantee of fundamental rights relating to religion constitutes the sheet anchor of the Indian secular state. Article 25 grants individuals freedom to practise and propagate any religion. Article 26 gives every religious denomination freedom to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes. Article 27 stipulates no person shall be Compelled to pay any tax whose proceeds are used to pay any expenses for promoting and maintaining any particular religion or religious groups. Article 28 prohibits the introduction of religious instruction in educational institutions maintained by the state.
What underlies these provisions is the Principle of deliberate dissociation of politics from religion. When the Constitution accepts such a principle in the form of enforceable rights, it helps create a secular state. In such a state, there can be no discrimination on grounds of religion. In other words, a secular state does not in any way identify itself with any religion, rather it helps the individual keep to his chosen faith. At the same time, the Constitution does not permit any official discrimination on religious grounds. As B.R. Ambedkar said, "This Parliament shall not be competent to impose a particular religion on the rest of the people."
But secularism does not mean the state should be irreligious or anti-religion. S. Radhakrishnan said, "When India is said to be a secular state, it does not mean that we reject the reality of an unseen spirit or the relevance of religion to life." Secularism in India has some special features. While guaranteeing religious freedom, the Constitution also empowers the state to impose necessary restrictions, primarily for social security and national unity.
Secularism in India differs from the accepted notion of the term in three days.
  • First, it is truly liberal. Although India's population is predominantly Hindu, the Constitution not only ensures religious equality, it also protects the essential rights and privileges of religious minorities, as is evident from Article 26. The term "propagate" in the article is seldom found in other written constitutions. It is to the advantage of Christianity, which expands on the basis of proselytization.
    Moreover, the prohibition of the use of tax proceeds for a particular religion's benefit is an example of the religious liberalism enshrined in the Constitution.
  • Second, Indian secularism is not absolute. It is legally qualified and conditional, because religious freedom under the Constitution has to be in consonance with "public order, morality and health". The state may interfere in an individual's religious rights when they go beyond the determined limit. Under Article 25 (2a), it can regulate activities associated with religious practice.
    Under Article 25 (2b), it can interfere with religious affairs for social welfare and reform. Article 26 stipulates that the right of religious institutions to own and administer property must be enjoyed "in accordance with law". This is why the state may, if it deems necessary, pass a restrictive law for land reform or village reconstruction.
    As regards social welfare, the state may prohibit a prevailing religious convention. For example, bigamy among Hindu men on the ground that the first wife was unable to beget a son can be prohibited because the practice is not; an essence of the Hindu religion. Practices such as sati or the devadasi system may be prohibited for the welfare of society. Thus social welfare in the constitutional system can prevail over religious sentiments. The state may adopt necessary legislations for the people's good, such as changing a community's personal laws or prohibiting an old practice which is traditionally thought of as an essential part of a religion.
  • Third, Indian secularism is dynamic. Some reasonable restrictions may be imposed on the right. It has been left to the judiciary to determine whether these restrictions have been consistent with the idea of secularism adopted in the Constitution.
    But the nature of the judicial verdict may change over time. Consistency with the constitutional principles may ultimately ensure that secularism become a matter of social dynamism.

Thus, Indian secularism differs from the orthodox model which desires the state simply observe neutrality towards all religions. However, when the circumstances warrant, the state can impose necessary restrictions on religious activities. Ambedkar had said, "Let no one be in a state of mind that they are immune from the sovereign authority of this Parliament."
Muslims may claim their personal laws should be retained as a part of their religion. However, the Supreme Court has recently ruled the government should implement a uniform civil code in order to implement one of the directive principles enshrined in Article 44. Although the verdict has alienated a section of citizens, the judges have wisely sought to separate social rules from religious injunctions.
Some decades ago, the Indian government made necessary legislations with regard to the marriage, divorce and succession of Hindus. Although the controversial Hindu code bill was ultimately withdrawn under pressure, the traditional system, said to have emanated from the sastras, was largely modified.
Muslim laws, though, remain unaltered. It has been felt the needed modification cannot be made unless the demand is raised within the community itself. This is a delicate issue and a hasty step may be misinterpreted as undue interference into minorities' religious rights. The government has accepted the 1967 Supreme Court verdict that, unless both the majority and the minority agreed such a legislative step was necessary for social welfare, it would be unwise to impose a law upon a section of the community.

Nevertheless, it can still be said the Constitution has adopted a new type of secularism. It has sought to effect a compromise between two opposite considerations - dissociating religion from politics, and permitting politics to prevail over religion in times of need. Its framers did bear in mind how religious fanaticism divided the country, but they also recognized the importance of religion in the moral and cultural life of Indians.
In addition, the judiciary is vested with power to interfere in a group's internal affairs. It has to decide whether a specific act is an essential part of a particular religion. It can classify religious practices into those which are of religious character and those which are not. For example, in 1959, the Supreme Court decided that cow sacrifice is not enjoined by Islam.
India's Constitution is also more secular than other constitutions. In 1961, for instance, the then Burmese parliament passed a bill to make Buddhism the state religion. The Roman Catholic religion is Ireland's official religion. The United Kingdom inclines towards Church of England and Protestantism.
However in India, both citizens and aliens are guaranteed religious freedom. The majority faith, Hinduism, is not accorded special treatment, though Pakistan, ceded on the basis of the two nation theory, adopted Islam as a state religion. This was a laudable achievement on the Constitution makers' part because when the Constitution was being drafted, communal frenzy was sweeping across the subcontinent.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sri Aurobindo was never for a moment an advocate of Hindu nationalism

Special Article FERVENT JINGOISM Sri Aurobindo as the grand architect of composite Indian nationalism By HARIDAS MUKHERJEE The Statesman Saturday, 9 February 2008
THE sturdy spirit of Indian nationalism which Sri Aurobindo incarnated in himself and to which Bande Mataram gave fearless expression (1906-08) has suffered palpable distortion at the hands of vested interests in subsequent times. Although the Hindus formed and still form the overwhelming majority of the Indian population, Sri Aurobindo was never for a moment an advocate of Hindu nationalism.
When Lala Lajpat Rai spoke of “Hindu nationalism as a necessary preliminary to a greater Indian nationality', Sri Aurobindo totally disapproved of the great Lalaji's stand. “Not that”, wrote Sri Aurobindo, “we are blind to facts, not that we (ie, the nationalist party) do not recognise Hindu-Mohammedan rivalry as a legacy of the past enhanced and not diminished by British ascendancy, a thing that has to be faced and worked out either by mutual concession or by a struggle between nationalism and separatism. But we do not understand Hindu nationalism as a possibility under modern conditions.”
He went on to write, “Hindu nationalism had a meaning in the times of Shivaji and Ramdas, because India was then a world to itself and the existence of two geographical units entirely Hindu, Maharashtra and Rajputana, provided it with a basis... But under modern conditions India can only exist as a whole ... the country, the Swadesh, which must be the base and fundament of our nationality, is India, a country where Mohammedan and Hindu live intermingled and side by side... Our ideal, therefore, is an Indian nationalism, largely Hindu in its spirit and traditions... but wide enough also to include the Moslem and his culture and traditions and absorb them into itself” (Karmayogin, 6 November 1909).
Even before this, Sri Aurobindo as the grand architect of composite Indian nationalism pleaded with passion, “Nationalism depends for its success on the awakening and organising of the whole strength of the nation; it is therefore vitally important for nationalism that the politically backward classes should be awakened and brought into the current of political life; the great mass of orthodox Hinduism which was hardly even touched by the old Congress movement, the great slumbering mass of Islam which has remained politically inert throughout the last century, the shopkeepers, the artisan class, the immense body of illiterate and ignorant peasantry, the submerged classes, even the wild tribes and races still outside the pale of Hindu civilisation, nationalism can afford to neglect and omit none.” (Bande Mataram, 17 December 1907).
Thus, in Sri Aurobindo's political thinking the first article of faith was not the promotion of Hindu nationalism, but that of composite Indian nationalism, embracing the Hindus, Muslims, Christians and other communities. Those who think that Sri Aurobindo, a passionate lover of Hindu culture and traditions as he was, was anti-Muslim in his political outlook are entirely mistaken. Years before the birth of the Indian National Congress (1885) when the Indian Association was founded in 1876, its first builders like Surendra Nath Banerjea adumbrated the ideal of composite Indian nationalism.
No great political leader of the Swadeshi period, far less Sri Aurobindo, advocated the ideal of Hindu nationalism. Bipin Chandra Pal whom Sri Aurobindo called “one of the mightiest prophets of nationalism”, was another passionate protagonist of the cause of composite Indian nationalism (vide New Delhi, 12 August 1901). In its very first issue, Pal formulated his concept of Indian nationalism as “neither Hindu nor Mahomedan nor even British, but is made up of the varied and valuable materials supplied in successive stages of its evolution, by the three great world civilisations...”
Although Sri Aurobindo represented in himself, in his anti-imperialist struggle, virile manliness or shakti-yoga of the Kshatriya tradition, there was no trace of religious bigotry, fanaticism and sectarianism in his blood. If he had preached any religion, it was only the religion of patriotism, the religion of complete self-abandonment to the service of the Mother. He saw the vision of the Mother in the country who has given to the Muslims “a permanent place in her bosom”.
But he was prudent enough to observe in the same breath, “of one thing we may be certain, that Hindu-Mohammedan unity cannot be effected by political adjustments or Congress flatteries. It must be sought deeper down, in the heart and in the mind, for where the causes of disunion are, there the remedies must be sought... We must strive to remove the causes of misunderstanding by a better mutual knowledge and sympathy; we must extend the unfaltering love of the patriot to our Musulman brother... but we must cease to approach him falsely or flatter of a selfish weakness and cowardice” (Karmayogin, 19 June 1909). He believed that “strength conciliates the strong” and that weakness merely breeds contempt. His study of history and politics has taught him that the unity of language, race or religion is not an essential preliminary for the growth of a common nationality, as is seen in the history of England, France, Germany, Switzerland and so on.
Turning to the Indian scene, Sri Aurobindo commented thus: “As for the religious difficulty, it is an old bogey. We do not deny the difficulty created by the divisions between the Mohammedans and Hindus, but it is idle to say that the difficulty is insuperable. If the spirit of nationalism conquered the much fiercer intolerance of the religious struggles in Europe after the reformation, it is not irrational to hope as much for India in the 20th century.” (Vide Bande Mataram, Pondicherry, 1973, p 526).
Later, when the idea of the two-nation theory was mooted on the ostensible plea that the Hindus and Muslims represented two distinct nationalities, the latter in India being the “descendants of foreigners”, Sri Aurobindo found no historical sanction for this “new-fangled notion”. “More than 90 per cent of the Indian Mussalmans are descendants of converted Hindus and belong as much to the Indian nation as the Hindus themselves. This process of conversion has continued all along; Jinnah is himself a descendant of a Hindu, converted in fairly recent times, named Jinahbhai...,” (Sri Aurobindo on Himself, Pondicherry, 1972, p 46).
Clarifying the stand of the nationalists (then called the Extremists by the Moderates) with regard to the question of separate Muslim representation as envisaged in Morley's Reform Scheme (1909), Sri Aurobindo made the firm and unequivocal observation: “The Reform Scheme... will cast all India into the melting pot and complete the work of the Partition. Our own attitude is clear... We still have no part or lot in reforms which give no popular majority, no substantive control, no opportunity for Indian capacity and statesmanship, no seed of democratic expansion. We will not for a moment accept separate electorates or separate representation, not because we are opposed to a large Mohammedan influence in popular assemblies when they come but because we will be no party to a distinction which recognises Hindu and Mohammedan as permanently separate political units and thus precludes the growth of a single and indivisible Indian nation.”
It is the spirit of Indianity, the living awareness that all the children of the soil are Indians first, Hindus or Muslims afterwards, that alone can bind them together, in spite of religious and socio-cultural divergences, into a common nationality. “True national unity”, said Sri Aurobindo, “is the unity of self-dedication to the country, when the liberty and greatness of our motherland is the paramount consideration to which all others must be subordinated”.
If present-day India has miserably failed to develop real secular politics, it is not the Britishers but the Indians themselves who are blame. Those leaders in whom the people have so long reposed their trust for freedom, democratic values and secularism, have been weighed in the balance and found wanting, for they are, as Radhakrishnan once painfully observed, “more anxious to build themselves than to build the nation.” The writer is former Professor and Head of the Department of History, Presidency College. He is currently Saradananda Professor of Indology at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Gol Park, Kolkata

Prof. Mukherjee has highlighted the secular nature of Sri Aurobindo’s brand of Indian nationalism

Sri Aurobindo was one of the few original thinkers
Sir, ~ Thanks for publishing a stimulating article on Sri Aurobindo’s thinking on nationalism (3 February). Sri Aurobindo was one of the very few original thinkers in the history of modern India. It is known that through his followers he organised secret revolutionary societies. On the other hand, he enunciated the doctrine of passive resistance as a tool of war for a weak people against a strong opposition.
This was long before Gandhiji started to write about the same principles. It was he who propounded the idea of Swadeshi, boycott of British goods and a demand for full freedom. His ideas stoked nationalism throughout the country, stimulated India’s industrial progress and ushered in the ideas of national education in different parts of the country.
Professor Mukherjee has highlighted the secular nature of Sri Aurobindo’s brand of Indian nationalism. He recognised Hindu-Muslim rivalry as a legacy of the past enhanced by British ascendancy and was prophetic when he said that this rivalry “has to be faced and worked out either by mutual concessions or by a struggle between nationalism and separatism. But we do not understand Hindu nationalism as a possibility under modern conditions”.
Attempts by political parties to stoke Hindu nationalism are bound to fail as India emerges as a modern nation. In this context I should mention that the title you have given to the article is very jarring. It does not convey the spirit of the author. You cannot describe Sri Aurobindo’s writings on politics as “jingoism”. ~ Yours, etc., Sankarananda Guha, Kolkata, 4 February.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Everyone is trying, consciously, all the time, to have a civilization "not ruled by money"

jonathanstray (jstray) wrote,@ 2008-02-07 09:57:00
I believe fairly firmly that there is a fundamental, perhaps willful, ignorance of economics here. Those who work for core Auroville "units" receive a "maintenance" of 5000 rupees per month -- about $125. It's not much, but your housing is free, so it's enough to live. It's also not intended to be a salary. It's not quite linked to work as such, and you don't really have to work if you don't want to in Auroville. This is lovely, in a way. It's an ideal about how one spends one's life. Work should be a joy, not an obligation. Of course, the reason this is possible is that gazillions of rupees are pouring in from external donations and government grants. Auroville needs a plan for economic self sufficiency, but this would involve too much talk about money. There is stiff resistance among most people – even with my very sensible IT-trained friend Min – whenever I raise the topic of "economics." People don't want to talk about "making money" or "tax rates" or "deficit" or "being able to afford the things we want," because the citizens of Auroville are supposed to be above all that. Except that all of these things already exist here, they're just called different names. I think I shall have to try to find new language. But, I have to respect the fact that everyone is trying, consciously, all the time, to have a civilization "not ruled by money." It's just that I think that one important step towards this is simply to live in an abundance of everything, and this requires solid economic planning and actual technical knowledge.
My (volunteer) work is going well. I have completed drafts of the text of two of the eight panels for the Aurobille Environmental Exhibition which is supposed to be installed by the 40th anniversary of Auroville, Feb 28. I've gotten a firsthand taste of the collaborative process in two meetings with Nicole of the Visitor's Center. She feels very strongly that the exhibition needs to be very focused on the Auroville story; this old Frenchwoman was there in the beginning when it was nothing, when it was desert. The original people here reforested (it's impressive!) and built a town out of nothing at all. It must have been an intense experience, and Nicole brings all the attachments of that experience. What she doesn't have is perspective. Min and I successfully argued that the exhibition should be have a broader perspective. My opinion is that not many visitors will really care that much about the development of one little town, but if we can show that the problems faced here (erosion, water supply, energy generation, waste disposal, sustainable architecture) are in fact a microcosm of the global problems, we will have succeeded.I have also set up collaboration tools. To wit, yesterday I set up a mailing list and a Wiki where we will edit the panel text. In some ways the project is not really long or large enough to justify such sophistication, and anyway the people working on it are not familiar with such tools so I don't expect that much gain. The real point of this is to experiment and learn about how people learn to use such tools, and also hopefully to introduce them into Aurovillian thinking. Auroville needs proper IT tools and infrastructure badly. In my San Francisco life all my social and political interactions are dominated by online tools, and it's certainly changed things, I think much for the better. Given Auroville's mission, the potential for such tools here is enormous. I keep thinking about a Wiki for all the knowledge collected here, and for collaboration and consensus building generally...
I have also been trying to understand more clearly the relationships between individual will and societal structures. It's funny how my viewpoint shifts on this topic. In Ethiopia I talked at length to my friend Jenafir about social transformation. At that time I argued very strongly for individual responsibility, initiative, etc. I felt it was much more about single people taking responsibility for their lives; the primary problem in Africa, if one can say there is a "primary" problem, seems to me to be the almost universal sense of powerlessness. Nobody actually does anything there! Dependence is the rule. Here in Auroville, that is not the problem. Auroville is populated nearly 50% by Westerners who are used to taking initiative. Hence I find I am thinking much more about how the "system" directs people's actions. I keep wondering how to set this place up better. This is somewhat opposed to the general Auroville philosophy of "evolving consciousness", of personal development, of solving all systemic problems by first appealing to all that is high and noble in the individual; whereas my systemic investigations essentially take opposite approach, taking people as the imperfect, selfish, shortsighted, and fearful people that they are and trying to devise a societal structure that brings out the best in them. But there is a real preference in Auroville for informal, consensus, etc. methods, as opposed to formal structure and process, and I am starting to see that this is a valid experiment. For example, there is effectively a corporate income tax rate of one third, i.e. 33% on all business "units" in AV. But this tax is voluntary. There is no law (really none of any kind here beyond the standard India legal framework) and no coercion methods available to enforce this tax collection. Does this work? Will it work in the long run as the society grows?
Must the state ultimately be backed by force? Hobbes envisioned a Sovereign with absolute power as the basis of cooperative society; a half-century later Locke claimed that we can and should have strict limits on the power of the government. What is the next step in trusting individual citizens? My sense is that most contemporary theorists still feel that the state needs to have some coercive power somewhere. Is this true? My gut reaction is "probably." Here in Auroville, I think the general philosophy would tend to answer "no". However, there are problems that Auroville has yet to confront. For example, there have been criminal acts perpetrated by outsiders (including a murder), but Auroville has yet to be forced to deal with the shock of a criminal from within. This is probably because the society is young, (relatively) rich, and (relatively) cohesive. They are also very selective in who they let in in the first place (which is a whole other topic.) But I cannot see how they will avoid the day when they discover that one of their own has been stealing from the cookie jar, or worse. Then what?