Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Current financial crisis is the result of no models

L. Venkata Subramaniam has left a new comment on your post "When complex systems evolve over time the paths th...":

I think nobody took mathematical modeling seriously so they built very simplistic models with bad assumptions and bad data. I dont think the current financial crisis is the result of bad models, infact it is the result of no models. Posted by L. Venkata Subramaniam to Savitri Era Learning Forum at 12:48 AM, December 31, 2008 12:58 PM

R. Venkata Subramani has left a new comment on your post "When complex systems evolve over time the paths th...":

Mathematical models or no mathematical models - the present crisis is just on account of too much greed and throwing all common sense to winds. What else can you call the so called Credit Default Swaps on Fixed income securities - when the total bond size is 25 trillion USD and the notional value of CDS is 63 trillion USD? Do you call this protection or pure gambling? Posted by R. Venkata Subramani to Savitri Era Learning Forum at 11:24 AM, December 31, 2008

Intelligent agent modeling in economics from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen

In my possibly overdogmatic view, economics is most useful when its models are relatively simple and intuitive. We've run out of new models which are simple and intuitive. So the theory game is over. The standard, old data sets have been data mined to death. We're now on to the "can you build/create your own data set?" game. That game can and will last for a long time; in some ways it will favor go-getter extroverts just as the theory game favored introverts.
I don't yet see that there is a new game in town. My preferred reform of economics involves more history and anthropology, I might add.

A Professor Forgets The Fallibility of Merchants and Manufacturers and That Ayn Rand was Not a Smithian from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy

Allen Greenspan was a adherent to the philosophy of selfish egoism of Ayn Rand, which had little enough to do with the self interest and moral philosophy of Adam Smith.

The sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Cuttack summons Peter Heehs

Court summons Aurobindo book writer
The Asian Age - Enjoy the difference Bhubaneswar, Dec. 30:

The sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Cuttack, on Tuesday ordered Peter Heehs, an American author, who wrote a controversial book on spiritual gurus Sri Aurobindo and Shreema to appear in the court on February 20, reports our correspondent.
In response to a petition filed by one Devi Prasad Dash, a devotee from Cuttack, the court took cognizance of the derogatory and defamatory information on the lives of both the gurus written in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.
Although the book has already been published in America, the Orissa high court had stayed its publication and distribution in India last month, following a writ petition filed by one Geetanjali Bhattacharjya of Balasore, 200 km from here. About Us Contact us Advertise with us Careers Site Map Feedback © Copyrights 2006 Asian Age

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Revolutionary terrorists too were aware of the theatrical side of violence

OPED Saturday, November 22, 2008 The bomb that shook an Empire Peter Hees

Aurobindo Ghose and his band of youthful 'terrorists' stood as accused in the famous Alipore Bomb Case exactly a century ago. The issues they threw up still rankleA hundred years ago, a trial was being heard in Calcutta that brought the issue of revolutionary terrorism before the people of modern India for the first time. There had, of course, been acts of violence against the British almost from the moment of their arrival. But when Khudiram Bose threw a bomb into a carriage that he thought was carrying a district judge on April 30, 1908, he started something new. A bhadralok youth, recruited by an organisation that was established and directed by highly educated men, used a state-of-the-art bomb in an attempt to assassinate a member of the foreign bureaucracy. Khudiram was tried and executed for his act, becoming one of India's most celebrated revolutionary martyrs. The leaders of the organisation, notably Hemchandra Das, Upendranath Banerjee, Barindrakumar Ghose, and Barin's brother Aurobindo Ghose (later Sri Aurobindo), were also put on trial in what became known as the Alipore Bomb Case. After proceedings that lasted almost a year, the first three were convicted and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Aurobindo was acquitted but soon left the political scene, becoming a philosopher and yogi in Pondicherry.

Aurobindo had never thought that scattered acts of small-scale violence would do much to advance the movement. His original idea was the preparation of an "armed insurrection", consisting of "guerrilla warfare accompanied by general resistance and revolt". His organisation "did not include terrorism in its programme", he wrote in 1946; "this element grew up in Bengal as a result of the strong repression and the reaction to it in that province". It was Barin, Upendranath, Hemchandra and others who thought that terrorist methods would be useful. In this they were wrong. Despite all the drama of the Indian revolutionary movement, and the undoubted valour of men like Khudiram, Surya Sen, and Bhagat Singh, Indian terrorists were not very good at accomplishing their aims, and had little practical (as opposed to psychological) effect on the movement.

Sensing this as early as 1911, Aurobindo wrote to a collaborator that terrorism was "our only enemy". He called for an end to "these theatrical assassinations, these frenzied appeals to national hatred with their watchword of Feringhi ko maro, these childish conspiracies, these idiotic schemes for facing a modern army with half a dozen guns and some hundred lathis". Yet to the end of his life Aurobindo never renounced his belief that "a nation is entitled to attain its freedom by violence". "Terrorism" has now become such a charged word that it is hard to use it in a discussion of national heroes. Historians of the immediate post-Independence era preferred the term "militant nationalism". This was not a good choice: the revolutionaries had little military training. Later historians were not afraid to use the term "terrorism", but they defined it carefully as the use of small-scale violence by urban groups to achieve political ends. This is what Barin Ghose and his friends were doing, and there was no reason not to call them terrorists, however unpleasant the word might sound. However, over the last two decades, the meaning of "terrorism" has become restricted in the popular mind to certain types of violent acts, notably ones in which members of the public are targeted as symbolic stand-ins for an inaccessible government. There is a world of difference between terrorists who leave bombs in public places, or detonate suicide vests in buses, and revolutionaries who assassinate carefully chosen colonial officials.

Contemporary terrorism's association with random, often anonymous, violence has fundamentally altered the meaning of the word in public discourse. Another association that colours most people's understanding of the term is the perceived link between terrorism and religion. Certainly many contemporary terrorists, whether operating in Gaza, Baghdad, Mumbai, or London, claim to be inspired by religious beliefs. But this link is not inevitable. Viewed historically, terrorist methods were first used by the Jacobins during the French Revolution in an attempt to maintain state power against perceived reactionaries. Religion never entered into the picture, except perhaps to label Catholic institutions and individuals as ‘reactionary’.

The second great era of terrorism was during the 19th and 20th centuries, when revolutionary groups used small-scale violence against the state. Some of these groups had a religious identity, such as the Irish National Army and some organisations in India, but the fundamental aim of revolutionary terrorists was the weakening of an oppressive state as a step towards its replacement by a more popular one. Revolutionary terrorism is still with us, but the characteristic form of terrorism in the 21st century is what I call 'apocalyptic terrorism', as exemplified by groups such as AUM Shinrikyo of Japan, and the transnational group, al-Qaeda. Both of these made (and make) use of religious discourse, but it could be argued that their inspiration and aims were (and are) not religious but rather apocalyptic: the overthrowing of a whole way of life in all its forms. Apocalyptic terrorist groups are unlikely to achieve their declared aims. How do you attack or destroy a way of life? Well-trained terrorists can hit symbolic targets such as the Tokyo subway system or the World Trade Center, but the world goes on as it always has. Viewed pragmatically, apocalyptic terrorism is more a form of theatre than a means of bringing about constructive change.

Revolutionary terrorists too were aware of the theatrical side of violence – Barin Ghose wrote that part of his aim in sponsoring terrorist attempts was capture headlines that would inspire young men to emulate him – but most revolutionaries had achievable and justifiable aims, and their acts contributed to some extent in their realisation. Can the same be said about the terrorism – much of it ostensibly religious – which continues to plague modern India? Most attempts over the past few years have succeeded in little else but sowing terror in the populace. The perpetrators have rarely identified themselves or their enemies, and achieved nothing beyond the immediate loss of life and property. This is duly reported in the Press, giving rise to frantic public debate; but neither the demographic makeup nor administrative direction of the country is changed in the least. Much of this recent terrorism seems to be nothing more than the simple acting out of revenge, one aggrieved community attacking another, leading to further retaliatory attacks, and so forth ad infinitum. In a democracy that offers all its citizens a chance (however slight in some cases) to air their grievances and bring about change, this terrorism of revenge looks like the pointless working out of a mechanical impulse.

On November 10, 1908, Kanailal Dutt, one of the accused in the Alipore Bomb Case, was hanged in Calcutta. Ten weeks earlier, he and his accomplice Satyendranath Bose had assassinated the government informer Narendranath Gowsami. Asked in court why he had pulled the trigger, Kanailal responded simply: "It was because he proved a traitor to his country." The funeral procession that followed his body to the Ganges was probably the largest ever seen in Kolkata. After his cremation, hundreds of people surged forward to take ash and pieces of bone as holy relics.

The Indian press hailed Kanailal as a martyr, most British papers condemned him as a coward; but an editor The Pioneer, a paper representing the interests of Empire, took issue with this: "Such a crime may be properly described as desperate action, but it is fatuous to call it a cowardly one. If the people of Bengal chose to enthrone Kanailal and Satyendranath "in popular remembrance" as the Greeks had done with the tyrannicide pair Harmodius and Aristogeiton, "it is not easy to see how anyone could justly object to the selection". It is hard to see how such an encomium could be published for those in modern India who leave tiffin-carriers packed with RDX in suburban commuter trains or holy places. -- The writer is an American historian on modern India. The Search Results are given below using word ALIPORE BOMB CASE 'God cannot be jailed' 22 November, 2008 The bomb that shook an Empire 22 November, 2008 100 years of righteous terror 22 November, 2008 Politics of reaching out 11 October, 2008 Alipore bomb case to be exhibited at SC museum 12 May, 2006

Monday, December 29, 2008

Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems

Samuel Huntington, seer of 21st-century cultural conflicts The Australian, Australia - FOR millions of ordinary readers, as for conservative politicians and pundits, Samuel Huntington was the man who predicted the grand narrative of the 21st century...

Staying strong in the face of outside threats was a classic Huntingtonian theme, but in his last book, Who Are We? (2004), he cautioned against the enemy within. The US's national identity, he argued, was in danger of being eroded in the face of sub-national, dual-national and transnational loyalties. Writing for a popular audience "as a patriot and a scholar", Huntington argued that some Americans, most notably liberal elites and Hispanics, were undermining America's fundamentally Anglo-Protestant culture.

Built on Christianity, the English language and British legacies of justice and government, and mixed with the "American Creed" and its principles of liberty, equality and individualism, this was a culture that every immigrant group had assimilated - until recently. But globalisation meant a growing chasm between "the cosmopolitan and transnational commitments" of elites, and the "still highly nationalist and patriotic values of the American public".

The most controversial chapter, on Mexican-Americans, warns that the fast-growing Hispanic population's reluctance to assimilate could lead to "a bifurcated America", with two languages, Spanish and English. These new immigrants would achieve the American Dream "only if they dream it in English", he argued.

Such bluntness led admirers to laud his bravery and critics to charge that he was pandering to nativist sympathies. Huntington was a self-declared conservative, but an old-fashioned one, critical of the neocons in the Bush administration. Though US and British pundits used his ideas to promote the invasion of Iraq, Huntington was a steadfast critic of it, dismissing George W.Bush's plans to install a Western-style democracy as a "joke".

"Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems," he had written in The Clash of Civilizations. "It is false; it is immoral; and it is dangerous." Huntington is survived by his wife, Nancy, and two sons. The Times

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Massimo says economics is founded on "complex mathematical models", when it is not

Massimo Pigliucci says so many false beliefs that it's far easier to tell all to ignore him than to attack each one of his falsehoods. Massismo confuses Academia with "science". Massimo says economics is founded on "complex mathematical models", when it is not. Massimo says economists get Nobel prizes yet neglects to tell you that the Sweden Central Bank pays for the Nobel prize in Economics, a central bank built on paper currency with a history of grave errors in central banking. Massimo seems to lack knowledge about the doctrine of rationalism and confuses being wrong with "irrational". Massimo seems to be unaware that economics is the science (recorded knowing) of exchange -- the trading of one right of claim for a thing for another.

Massimo seems to hold a false belief that because a former physics guy, Alfred Marshall, switched to the field of economics in the late 1800s and who wrote a wrong textbook for the field, which lasted for decades, that economics and economists base the field on physics. Massimo, by his words, shows he knows nothing about money, legal tender money, central banking, inflation and the crash results of any central bank driven credit expansion. Smack MacDougal (not verified) 12/24/08 15:23 PM

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sri Aurobindo was well versed in both the Vedic and the Western philosophical and scientific traditions

Eric Weiss Category Link 1 / Category Link / Category Link / Category Link
Chapter Two–Doctrine Of The Subtle Worlds and the Cosmology of Sri Aurobindo

A decisive move towards the rehabilitation of the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds in Western civilization was taken at the end of the Nineteenth Century by Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical movement. While the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds had fallen on hard times in the West, it had remained a significant part of the Vedic understanding of reality. The Theosophists were exposed to Vedic cosmology with its Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds by teachers in the East, and made a heroic effort to translate that Vedic cosmology into the terms of a scientific metaphysics23. The original Theosophical writings were supplemented in the early part of the Twentieth Century, notably in the works of Alice Bailey and Rudolph Steiner. The ideas they introduced have been influential, though they have yet to reach mainstream academic discourse.

Sri Aurobindo, the great Twentieth Century philosopher-mystic, took the work of the Theosophists to an entirely new level. Sri Aurobindo brought to his cosmological work three major assets: he was an accomplished yogi who seems to have had personal experience of the subtle worlds; he was well versed in both the Vedic and the Western philosophical and scientific traditions; and he wrote in English. The works of Sri Aurobindo are the only primary Vedic sources that have ever been written in English, and thus have not suffered the diminishment of translation.
Sri Aurobindo’s opus is a masterful synthesis which weaves together Vedic cosmology and Western evolutionary cosmology. In creating a framework for this synthesis, he developed a new version of Vedic metaphysics – a system which he called “Purna Vedanta,” or Integral Nondualism – which provides a context within which he can reconcile these apparently differing cosmological views. Sri Aurobindo has given us the most philosophically coherent presentation of the main outlines of Vedic cosmology that we have in the English language.
Our concern in this essay is the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds. Therefore, in the following pages, I shall present just so much of Sri Aurobindo’s ideas as are necessary to illuminate his version of that Doctrine.

The Metaphysical Background of the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds in Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo, in common with philosophers of many other mystical traditions, holds that the ultimate reality transcends comprehension by Mind. He holds, however, that the highest conception that we can form of that reality is the notion of a unity within which three aspects can be discriminated. Those three aspects are Existence, Consciousness/Force, and Bliss. This particular characterization of the ground of being is a traditional Vedic one. Existence, in Sanskrit, is Sat. Consciousness is Chit. Bliss is Ananda. Thus the ultimate ground is termed Sat-Chit-Ananda, or Sachchidananda. Force, or Shakti is held to be inherent in Chit.
Let us pause to wrap our imaginations around what it is that Aurobindo is here suggesting. Sachchidananda is the ground of all manifested existence. It is infinite Existence, infinite Being. Whatever substance or form comes to arise in any possible universe has it source here. Materialists also, at least implicitly, imagine an ultimate ground of Being, but the ground that they imagine is a dark, unconscious, and automatic play of blind potentialities. Sachchidananda is, by contrast, entirely transparent to its own knowing self-regard. It is not just Existence, but it is Existence that is conscious of itself – utterly self-illuminated. And the Consciousness which the Existence has of itself is inseparable from a Force, or Will that supports and upholds the being of the Existence. Finally, the Consciousness that the Being has of itself is inseparable from a profound self-enjoyment. Thus, for Sri Aurobindo, the ground of all manifestation is an absolute Existence that is absolute knowledge of itself, that is the absolute intention to be itself, that is absolute enjoyment of itself. It is conscious, intentional self-enjoyment of self-existence.
This notion of the absolute has immense philosophical and theological consequences, which Sri Aurobindo works out in some detail in his master philosophical treatise, The Life Divine.24 The question that concerns us here is this: how does this infinite, absolute Sachchidananda bring out of itself the kind of determinate universe in which we find ourselves?
The answer that Sri Aurobindo gives us is that Sachchidananda has the ability to manifest determinate universes through the operation of its Consciousness/Force, or Chit/Shakti. In particular, the Consciousness operates in various ‘poises.’ In one poise, the Consciousness knows and wills the Existence in its undifferentiated absoluteness. This is the poise of Consciousness in pure Sachchidananda, outside of manifestation. In the other poise, Consciousness picks out, discerns, or apprehends particular aspects of that Existence, particular truths of the One Truth. This is the ‘poise’ of Sachchidananda in manifestation. Now Sachchidananda, being ‘one without a second’, is entirely without any possibility of opposition. Those aspects of itself, or those truths of itself, which are discerned by Consciousness are, in the same movement, willed by its Force, and so they are manifested as determinate realities.
For finite beings such as ourselves, beings who live in a medium which appears to us as not-self, knowledge, will and manifestation are three different operations. But for a Being which is the absolute ground of all manifestation, these three operations are inseparable. What the Consciousness knows, the Will intends. What the will intends is invariably manifested. For Sri Aurobindo, then, manifested being arises when Consciousness discerns, and Force or Will intends, certain determinate aspects of the one truth of Existence.

This has, to Western ears, a rather mystical ring to it. But, as we shall see when we come to consider Alfred North Whitehead’s more thoroughly Western approach to the problem of manifestation, he comes to a rather similar position. In Whitehead’s mature metaphysical position, the two factors that logically precede the manifested universe are the Eternal Objects and Creativity. The Eternal Objects correspond rather well to that factor which Sri Aurobindo calls Existence. The Eternal Objects are like Existence in the unmanifested state of Sachchidananda — all possible forms of being are here latent, unmanifest in the One.25 Creativity is that ultimate principle by means of which those ultimate finite existents that Whitehead calls “actual occasions” come into being.26 Now actual occasions have two poles – a mental pole and a physical pole. These two poles correspond rather well to what Sri Aurobindo intends by Consciousness and Force. It is the mental pole of an actual occasions that discerns determinate truths of the one truth of being (as Whitehead would say, they “prehend” Eternal Objects), and it is the physical pole which enacts those determinate truths in the manifested universe. Thus what Sri Aurobindo describes as the process of manifestation has a rather strong resemblance to the process which Alfred North Whitehead calls ingression.
In any case, we have so far identified two major poises of Consciousness/Force – the poise which supports absolute Sachchidananda, outside of manifestation, and the poise which supports manifestation. This latter poise can be broken down into a number of other poises, and it is the analysis of these various poises of Consciousness/Force that supports Sri Aurobindo’s conception of the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dispel the illusion of poverty and struggle to become prosperous and welcome divine ease and grace into your life

Fundamental Principles of the Prosperity Code Activation Series
Fundamental principles underlying all the activations in the Prosperity Codes series are listed below. As you work with the various Vibrational Tools in each package, you will increasingly embody these eternal truths in your being and radiate their frequencies, magnetizing you to all the good that is your due.

Unlimited supply or wealth is accessible to you from the love that you are.
You are an infinite being of infinite power and potential, and your very nature is abundant.
Life/Creation/God desires of you that you thrive and prosper, bringing forth your unique truth and gifts to full expression in your life.
Your covenant with the Creator is written in joy; find your joy, and there shall you find your true purpose.
All true desire comes from the Soul, and is God/Goddess expressing through you.
The greatest gift you can give to the world is the gift of yourself—the gift of self-realization.
Ever greater expression of Self is the only path to true and unbounded joy.
You have the God-given right to live in fullness and to seek all the blessings of life.
The way to dispel the illusion of poverty and struggle in the world is to become personally prosperous and welcome divine ease and grace into your life.
Your role in creation is to envision and create from the love and uniqueness that you are.
As you prosper with your whole being, you inspire others to prosper.
When you prosper with your whole being, you bring new wealth into the world that was not there before. Though it may come to you through established means, all that you receive does not take away from others, but rather augments the manifested supply.
The Earth has no limits in her capacity to support us in evolution as beings of love.

The Prosperity Codes is an activation-packed program designed to support you toward embodying principles of wealth and prosperity consciousness. In particular, the audio activations will shift your relationship to money, prosperity, and wealth, and align you more deeply with your full potential so that your means of wealth generation is fully expressive of your true nature and in harmony with the divine universal laws of creation, thereby opening you to receive more richly and with greater ease and grace. The Spirituality of Wealth Program (SOWP)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sri Aurobindo on Democracy and Secularism

SABDA – Distributors of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publications

Among the Great— Dilip Kumar Roy Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 282Price: Rs 200
And So This Happens Discourse on Certain Social Problems and their Solutions in the Light of Sri Aurobindo— Samar Basu Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 50Price: Rs 10
The Coming Race and other Essays Collected Works of Nolini Kanta Gupta, Volume One)— Nolini Kanta GuptaBinding: Hard Cover Pages: 406Price: Rs 35
Designing a New Social Order An Insight into Aurobindonian Thought— Dr G. P. Gupta ISBN: 978-81-7060-141-8Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 14Price: Rs 12
"The Fallacy of Karl Marx" A Critical Appraisal of Marxism in the Light of Sri Aurobindo's Social Philosophy— Kishor Gandhi ISBN: 978-81-7058-481-0Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 66Price: Rs 30
Freedom and Future An Imaginary Dialogue with Sri Aurobindo— Daniel AlbuquerqueISBN: 978-81-7058-530-5 Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 131Price: Rs 100
From the Editor's Desk Some Socio-Spiritual Perspectives— Shyam Sunder JhunjhunwalaBinding: Soft Cover Pages: 126Price: Rs 95
Glimpses of Vedantism in Sri Aurobindo's Political Thought— Samar BasuISBN: 978-81-86413-07-4Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 73Price: Rs 45
Hindu Muslim Unity In Sri Aurobindo's Light— Dr Mangesh NadkarniISBN: 978-81-7060-110-4Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 28Price: Rs 15
India and the Future of South Asia— Kosha ShahBinding: Soft Cover Pages: 84Price: Rs 80
In Search of Hinduism— Dr Prema NandakumarBinding: Soft Cover Pages: 55Price: Rs 30
India and the World Scene— K. D. Sethna (Amal Kiran)ISBN: 978-81-7060-118-0Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 353Price: Rs 180
The Indian Spirit and the World's Future— K. D. Sethna (Amal Kiran)ISBN: 978-81-7060-227-9Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 185Price: Rs 150
India, Youth and Integration— Essays and articles by various authorsISBN: 978-81-900175-3-4Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 211Price: Rs 35
India's Spiritual Destiny Its Inevitability and Potentiality— Mangesh NadkarniISBN: 978-81-7476-565-9Binding: Hard Cover Pages: 135Price: Rs 325
Meta-History The Unfoldment and Fulfilment of Human Destiny— V. Madhusudan ReddyBinding: Soft Cover Pages: 176Price: Rs 50
Of Past Dawns and Future Noons Towards a resurgent India— ShonarISBN: 978-81-7476-536-9Binding: Hard Cover Pages: 535Price: Rs 595
Patterns of the Present From the Perspective of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother— Georges Van VrekhemISBN: 978-81-7167-768-9Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 238Price: Rs 150
Social and Political Evolution of Man As Visioned by Sri Aurobindo (A Brief Study)— Samar BasuBinding: Soft Cover Pages: 117Price: Rs 10
Sri Aurobindo – Max Muller – Subhas Chandra— Amalendu DeBinding: Soft Cover Pages: 52Price: Rs 20
Sri Aurobindo and the Advent of the Supermind— Gopal BhattacharyaBinding: Hard Cover Pages: 228Price: Rs 125
Sri Aurobindo and His Contemporary Thinkers— Articles by various authorsISBN: 978-81-246-0428-1Binding: Hard Cover Pages: 349Price: Rs 600
Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx Integral Sociology and Dialectical Sociology— D. P. ChattopadhyayaISBN: 978-81-208-0388-6Binding: Hard Cover Pages: 336Price: Rs 495
Sri Aurobindo and the New Age Essays in Memory of Kishor Gandhi— Essays and articles by various authorsISBN: 978-81-7058-505-3Binding: Hard Cover Pages: 239Price: Rs 85
Sri Aurobindo on Democracy and Secularism— Compiled by G. P. Gupta and M. S. SrinivasanISBN: 978-81-7060-140-1Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 36Price: Rs 15
ashram visitors darshan selected works research music publications image gallery

There's pin-drop silence and strangely enough there is not even an urge to talk to anyone

Presence of Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry 25 Sep, 2008, 0000 hrs IST, Divya A, ET Bureau

Interestingly, I found out that the Guru had stayed for some time after he decided to take up meditation, after his participation in India's freedom struggle and jail term. It was after Chandannagar that the Guru moved to Pondicherry and stayed here forever.” Chandannagar, incidentally, is another erstwhile French colony, like Pondicherry." The Ashram was actually set up in 1926 by Aurobindo Ghose, one of India's greatest philosopher-poets, who originally came to Pondicherry to escape persecution by the British. It was after arriving here that he was drawn into the spiritual realm and discovered the power of yoga. His philosophy, and that of The Mother, is deeply rooted in yoga and their writings have inspired many followers from around the world.
Getting to Pondicherry isn’t difficult actually, despite its relatively tiny size and perch on the south east coast of India. The closest airport is Chennai, around 135 km from Pondicherry, with the option of either road or rail. It’s on the rail map with Villupuram in Tamil Nadu as the nearest station. But the best, and by far the most picturesque, way to reach is by road. There’s AC/non AC bus services every 10 minutes from Chennai's Koyambedu bus stand, very reasonable priced too. The preferable (scenic!) route is the East Coast Road via Mahabalipuram. For a brief stopover to see the great Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram, the best option is to drive down in a car or hire a taxi. It just adds a couple of very pleasant extra hours to an already pleasant drive! The ashram is one of the most well known and wealthiest ashrams in India, with devotees from India and all over the world flocking to it for spiritual salvation. I learnt that I could enter the ashram with my shoes on, but no cellphones, cameras or handbags were allowed.
Once inside, the aura of everything "Auro" is uinmistakeable. Followers of the Guru line up around the samadhi, which is in the central courtyard under a frangipani tree and is covered daily with flowers.
There's pin-drop silence and strangely enough there is not even an urge to talk to anyone, such is the calmness of the place. Besides the Guru's and the Mother's samadhis, I saw Aurobindo's living room, study and meditation foyer. I even bought literature by and about Sri Aurobindo from an in-house bookshop. I could feel the ashram's influence in most of Pondicherry. Some of the ashram's facilities like the library, playground and the main building are housed in other buildings, most of them walking distance from the ashram. As I browsed through rest of Pondicherry, I stopped to have a peep inside the Ashram Art House, do some shopping at Boutique d' Auroville for Auro clothes, Auroshika for incense sticks and Auroshree medicine products. The climate in Pondicherry is generally humid, so I found cottons to be the most practical in the summer; light sweaters and jackets are needed during the short, mild winter. I would also recommend hats and sunglasses, as the sun can be pretty harsh in those parts despite the lush greenery and the breezes blowing in from the Bay of Bengal. Of course, during the monsoon, umbrellas are crucial! A limited number of rooms are available in Ashram guest houses for those on short visits to Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Since rooms are limited and often fully booked, I found it’s better to make reservations well in advance. One can enter the main Ashram freely during visiting hours, but some sections require passes that are available at guesthouses or Bureau Central. Serenity divine Auroville, the global settlement, which is 40 years old now and still going strong, is a place that simply cannot be missed on a visit to Pondicherry. Auroville, meaning the City of Dawn, is an experimental township which actually falls in Viluppuram district of the adjoining state of Tamil Nadu but it’s just 10 km off Pondicherry. Described as a 'new age metropolis conceived as an alternative exercise in ecological and spiritual living', the township stands out as starkly different from the surrounding traditional villages and farms. Especially the crowning glory of the settlement, the Matrimandir, which nestles in its midst. The striking mandir looks like a giant golf-ball-like globe covered with golden discs. As I near it, I’m told "silence is compulsory” and the cult-like atmosphere is reinforced by volunteers who wordlessly motion me to pass them. My efforts to meet their gaze are greeted with complete impassivity. Although originally intended to house 50,000, the actual population today is a mere 2,000 (800 of whom are of Indian origin) seemingly consisting of pony-tailed men riding motorbikes. The best way to move within the settlement, by the way, is by motorbike or a bicycle although rickshaws and taxis can be ordered. Inside Auroville, there are a host of activities to engage in, ideal for a four-hour schedule, like yoga, Tai-Chi, Watsu, different kinds of alternative healing and courses. The variety is wider during the visitors' season, December to March. Besides, it’s a very good idea to dig into some great organic food at the Auroville cafeteria. Pondicherry may have now been christened ‘Puducherry’ officially, but there are some things there that will never change....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What we call history is at best mythistory

Abstract Full Text: PDF (172k) Related Articles Citation Tracking
Shades of Orientalism: Paradoxes and Problems in Indian Historiography Peter Heehs
Copyright Wesleyan University 2003 ABSTRACT

In Orientalism, Edward Said attempts to show that all European discourse about the Orient is the same, and all European scholars of the Orient complicit in the aims of European imperialism. There may be "manifest" differences in discourse, but the underlying "latent" orientalism is "more or less constant." This does not do justice to the marked differences in approach, attitude, presentation, and conclusions found in the works of various orientalists. I distinguish six different styles of colonial and postcolonial discourse about India (heuristic categories, not essential types), and note the existence of numerous precolonial discourses.

I then examine the multiple ways exponents of these styles interact with one another by focusing on the early-twentieth-century nationalist orientalist, Sri Aurobindo. Aurobindo's thought took form in a colonial framework and has been used in various ways by postcolonial writers. An anti-British nationalist, he was by no means complicit in British imperialism. Neither can it be said, as some Saidians do, that the nationalist style of orientalism was just an imitative indigenous reversal of European discourse, using terms like "Hinduism" that had been invented by Europeans.

Five problems that Aurobindo dealt with are still of interest to historians:

  1. the significance of the Vedas,
  2. the date of the vedic texts,
  3. the Aryan invasion theory,
  4. the Aryan-Dravidian distinction, and
  5. the idea that spirituality is the essence of India.

His views on these topics have been criticized by Leftist and Saidian orientalists, and appropriated by reactionary "Hindutva" writers. Such critics concentrate on that portion of Aurobindo's work which stands in opposition to or supports their own views.

A more balanced approach to the nationalist orientalism of Aurobindo and others would take account of their religious and political assumptions, but view their project as an attempt to create an alternative language of discourse. Although in need of criticism in the light of modern scholarship, their work offers a way to recognize cultural particularity while keeping the channels of intercultural dialogue open.


Myth, History, and Theory, by Peter Heehs © 1994 Wesleyan University. Abstract

Myth and history are generally considered antithetical modes of explanation. Writers of each tend to distrust the data of the other. Many historians of the modern period see their task as one of removing all trace of myth from the historical record. Many students of myth consider history to have less explanatory power than traditional narratives. Since the Greeks, logos (word as demonstrable truth) has been opposed to mythos (word as authoritative pronouncement). In more general terms myth may be defined as any set of unexamined assumptions. Some modern historians have become aware that much so-called factual history is interfused with such assumptions.

What we call history is at best mythistory. Some even suggest that there can be no real distinction between the discourses of myth and history, between fact and fiction. The Agastya-Aurobindo narrative is an example of an account based on factual materials that gradually became transformed into fiction. It is accepted by some as historical truth; however when its development is studied critically, one can see that successive narrators "euphemistically" transformed its constituent propositions.

The Ramjanmabhumi narrative (at the center of sectarian conflict in India) took form in much the same way. It is not possible to accept these legends as historical truth, though there is no reason why they could not be used as the basis of artistic creations. To avoid conflict by attempting to keep myth and history entirely separate may not be possible because the two interpenetrate. The most fruitful approach to the problem might be to work towards a dialectical resolution.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Body language, business etiquette, assertiveness, etc.

Allindialive:The Planning Portal - Precise,Timely,UnbiasedCourse categories ► Soft Skills Course categories: Planning Workshops The Art of Business Planning Entreprenuership & Business Planning Soft Skills Behavioural aspect of Business Planning Behavioural aspect of Business Planning / Human Resource Management Behavioural aspect of Business Planning / General Management Behavioural aspect of Business Planning / Organisational Behaviour Business Startup & Business Planing Orientations Programs The Art of Financial Planning Business Consulting Projects

Strategic Business Communication Administrator: joydip chakladar
This three-month program has been designed to improve skills in oral, written and non-verbal communication for executives in business situations. In addition to specific skills within these types of communication, this program will raise awareness about the dynamics of communication in a business environment, and help participants reflect on their individual communication styles and recognize their strengths and weaknesses.

This program spans various modes of communication (including among others, body language, business etiquette, assertiveness, report-writing and email techniques), and their application in typical corporate situations such as presentations, interviews, group meetings and feedback sessions. Going beyond skill-development, the program helps participants appreciate the need of effective business communication skills, gives them a perspective on new ways of communicating and problem solving. And can be used to create effective business communication plans that are aligned to the business unit’s needs.

The Power of Positive Thinking Administrator: joydip chakladar Cost: $45.00
See the course outline Call : 9339775464 (M) Ph : 32411535 Skype : joydipc Mail : (10.00 am to 6 p.m IST)

29/08/08 -,ties-up with Koine Investment Advisory as its Eastern Indian partner , to conduct a SME study under United Nation Commission for Trade and Development (UNCTAD),India in partnership with Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Department of Commerce) Goverment of India, Department for International Development (DFID), and Federation of Small and Micro Enterprises (FISME).

Leftists who see the State as the problem, rather than Capital, are unwittingly ratifying everything Thatcher and Reagan have done

Steven Shaviro Says: September 22nd, 2008 at 4:12 pm
Chris –

I think that Badiou is altogether wrong, and that the “market,” or more precisely the systematic process of expropriation and capital accumulation on the basis of “private” ownership and control of the means of production and finance is the real problem, and not the State. When the State, rather than Capital, becomes the main object of critique, the realities of exploitation and capital accumulation are dissimulated. Leftists who see the State as the problem, rather than Capital, are unwittingly ratifying everything Thatcher and Reagan have done.

If this sounds like old-fashioned “vulgar Marxism,” so be it. I think that the events of the last days, and the last weeks, are confirmation — the State moves from guaranteeing “property” by “deregulation” (which is really a form of differential protection) to guaranteeing it by a federalization that “socializes” losses even as profits remain privatized. The old-line claim that the State is merely an organizing committee for Capital is far more accurate than the currently fashionable philosophies that oppose various forms of domination and bureaucratization while totally ignoring exploitation.

Paul Krugman on why the liquidity trap really matters
from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen

Read his latest post, which outlines many key but usually unstated assumptions behind monetary theory and policy. It is one of the most instructive econ posts to appear in some time.

That said, on the policy issue I think one of Krugman's earlier posts (I can't find it) is closer to the mark. With or without a liquidity trap, monetary policy can't fix negative real shocks and -- here is now the earlier Krugman -- monetary policy can't make insolvent (or potentially insolvent) banks whole. That's my take on why the Fed is relatively powerless, not because of a liquidity trap. If you believe, as a Keynesian would, that insufficient aggregate demand is the problem in the first place, you will be relatively worried about liquidity traps. If you believe, as a neo-Austrian would, that malinvestments and coordination problems are the key issues, you will look toward other factors which limit the power of central banks to restore order.

In my view sometimes the Keynesian perspective is relevant, but not so much today. As the contraction of credit spreads through the Fed-regulated banking sector, however, and the broader money supply aggregates come under stronger negative pressure, the Keynesian perspective is likely to become more relevant. That is in fact my major medium-term worry and we probably should be pessimistic in this regard.

There is a separate and very important liquidity issue about restoring the markets and valuations for bank loans, but this is not a liquidity issue in the sense of Keynes's portfolio theory or the traditional liquidity trap.

Addendum: Brad DeLong adds comment. Another way of putting my point is this: in the situations where a liquidity trap might be binding, there is usually some even worse constraint which is more binding, thereby making the potential liquidity trap not so much a problem at the relevant margin.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

At the 1884 convention of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, Hume laid bare his plan to organise the Congress

Allan Octavian Hume
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hume retired from the civil service in 1882. In 1883 he wrote an open letter to the graduates of Calcutta University, calling upon them to form their own national political movement. This led in 1885 to the first session of the Indian National Congress held in Bombay. Hume served as its General Secretary until 1908. Along with Sir William Wedderburn (1838-1918) they made it possible for Indians to organize themselves in preparation of self government...

Hume did not have great regard for institutional Christianity, but believed in the immortality of the soul and in the idea of a supreme ultimate.[4] Hume wanted to become a chela (student) of the Tibetan spiritual gurus. During the few years of his connection with the Theosophical Society Hume wrote three articles on Fragments of Occult Truth under the pseudonym "H. X." published in The Theosophist. These were written in response to questions from Mr. Terry, an Australian Theosophist. He also privately printed several Theosophical pamphlets titled Hints on Esoteric Theosophy. The later numbers of the Fragments, in answer to the same enquirer, were written by A.P. Sinnett and signed by him, as authorized by Mahatma K. H., A Lay-Chela.

Madame Blavatsky was a regular visitor at Hume's Rothney castle at Simla and an account of her visit may be found in Simla, Past and Present by Edward John Buck (who succeeded Mr. Hume in charge of the Agricultural Department). A long story, about Hume and his wife appears in A.P. Sinnett's book Occult World, and the synopsis was published in a local paper of India. The story relates how at a dinner party, Madame Blavatsky asked Mrs Hume if there was anything she wanted. She replied that there was a brooch, her mother had given her, that had gone out of her possession some time ago. Blavatsky said she would try to recover it through occult means. After some interlude, later that evening, the brooch was found in a garden, where the party was directed by Blavatsky. Later, Hume privately expressed grave doubts on certain powers attributed to Madame Blavatsky and due to this, soon fell out of favour with the Theosophists. Hume lost all interest in theosophy when he got involved with the creation of the Indian National Congress.


Congress party was born in 1884 at ADYAR, Madras, Theosophical society
September 20, 2008 · EARLY PHASE OF THE CONGRESS

The Indian National movement was primarily a movement for freedom from alien domina-nation. The movement has been one comprehensive effort embracing all aspects of the life of the community.
The birth of the Indian National Congress, perhaps the oldest and the biggest democratic organisation in the world, did not take place in an atmosphere of a fanfare of trumpets nor did it create a stir by passing flamboyant resolutions.
In 1884, at the annual convention of the Theosophical Society at Adyar in Madras, Mr. Allan Octavian Hume laid bare to his friends his plan to organise the Congress. A committee was formed to make the necessary preparations for a session at Poona to be held in 1885.
The committee consisted of Mr. Hume, Mr. Surendra Nath Bannerji, Mr. Narendranath Sen, Mr. S. Subrarnania Iyer, Mr. P. Ananda Charlu, Mr. V.N. Mandalik, Mr.K.T. Telag, Sardar Dayal Singh, Lala Sri Ram.
Mr Hume, still a government servant, addressed an �Resolutions� that were passed on what were thought to open letter to the graduates of Calcutta University with a fervent appeal for self help.
He said �and if even the leaders of thought are all years, excepting �agitation on these resolutions in India either such poor creatures, or so selfishly wedded to and in England personal concern, that they dare not strike a blow for their country�s sake, then justly and rightly they are kept down and trampled on, for they deserve nothing better. Every nation secures precisely as good a government as it merits, If you the picked men, the most highly. educated of the nation cannot, scorning personal ease and selfish objects, make a resolute struggle to secure greater freedom for yourselves and your country, a more impartial administration, a larger share in the management of your own affairs then we, your friends are wrong and our adversaries right, then Lord Rippon�s noble aspirations for your good are fruitless and visionary, then at present at any rate, all hopes of progress are at an end, and India truly neither lacks nor deserves any better government than she enjoys.
Only if this be so, let us hear no more factious, peevish complaints that you are kept in strings and treated like children, for you will have proved yourself such, Men know how to act. Let there be no more complaints of Englishmen being preferred to you ill all important offices, for if you lack that public spirit, that highest form of altruistic devotion that leads men to subordinate private case to the public weal that patriotism that has made Englishmen what they are-then rightly are these preferred to you, rightly and inevitably have they become your rulers.. And rulers and task masters they must continue let the yoke gall your shoulders never so sorely, until you realise and stand prepared to act upon the eternal truth that self-sacrifice and unselfish ness are the only unfailing guide to freedom and happiness.�MushamWORLD

Friday, September 19, 2008

N. Nandhivarman exposes misdeeds committed in Auroville and Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry Friday 19 September, 2008 Write to Nandhi Varman ASHRAM AND INDIAN MEDIA

The days of brave investigative journalism of the Ramnath Goenka brand which exposed the darkest days of emergency and the intervening period where A.S.Panneerselvan of Outlook and Sudha G.Tilak of The Telegraph exposed the crimes happening within Aurobindo Ashram is over. Now in India, new breed of journalists, products of globalization, have arrived. For them plight of individual women is not worthy of reporting but if it is about cine actresses or celebrities, they jump into the fray. CNN-IBN which prides as investigative media for two days telecasted the promo about “Divine Trap”, an investigative story done by its own reporters for two days, and few hours before telecast killed the story, and till date not given a public explanation, why it went back after airing the promo. Unlike CNN-IBN of 2008, SUN TV of 2003 did not shelve its report. The link given below is about the SUN TV Report, wherein the story will start with the sexual harassment of Jharkand girls, sisters, living till date as devotees and inmates, due to Court orders.

After viewing the SUN TV report, you would be keen to know the present day plight of the Jharkand sisters. Let me put in a nutshell their current situation.


Initially from May-June 2004, the harassment began in the form of defecation in Jayashree’s and Arunashri’s rooms at Ambabhikshu House on a regular basis. Thereafter the defecation was extended and done in all the five sisters’ rooms along with tampering and damaging of their cycles, passing of vulgar and obscene comments and making vulgar and obscene gestures by some inmates of the Ashram, who were residing at Ambabhiskshu House. From mid June 2004 onwards Arunashri and Nivedita received totally five pornographic obscene chits thrown inside their rooms. The five sisters gave written complaints before various authorities: the Bar Association of Pondicherry and Tamilnadu (because the inmate lawyer Nirmal C. Swain was masterminding the sexual harassment through and with the resident inmates of Ambabhikshu House), the Ashram trustees, the police and National Commission for Women Delhi (NCW) which handed over our sexual harassment case to the State Women Commission, Pondicherry (SWC). The police also collected three other obscene pornographic chits on 13.10.2004 from Ambabhikshu House from the rooms of Rajyashree, Nivedita and Hemlata.

Without conducting an enquiry, SCW allegedly submitted a report to NCW and on 19.01.2005. It came to light that the SCW directed Ashram Trustees to provide separate accommodation in separate buildings to male members and female members to prevent any kind of sexual harassment. The sisters requested SWC to furnish a copy of the alleged report to them but SWC failed to respond.

Subsequently the sisters went to New Delhi and there they were informed by the NCW that no such report existed. Thereafter the sisters requested NCW to reopen their case and also approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for relief against the continuing sexual harassment. NHRC started the enquiry but on coming to know that NCW had reopened the case, NHRC passed an order to that effect.

NCW reopened the case of sexual harassment by appointing the Chairperson of Department of Women and Child Development, Pondicherry (DWCD) as the enquiring officer. Because of the continued sexual harassment that the DWCD reported to the Government of Pondicherry, a GO was issued on 23.02.2007 appointing Mr. Vasant Kumar, I.A.S. to conduct a magisterial enquiry for the complaints of such sexual harassment of the sisters. The enquiry proceedings were thereafter handed over to Mr. Vijay Kumar Bidhuri, I.A.S. by another GO dated 10.12.2007. The sisters as well as the accused inmates have been enquired into and presently the enquiry report is pending submission. We urge the report be made public without delay.


In SUN TV you will in end be told about the anticipatory bail obtained by the Managing Trustee of Aurobindo Ashram , who was named in FIR. But the clout ensured that when charge sheet was filed, he is left out. Adding further spice to the crime story, he had been made witness.

The people of India must urge their journalists, to emulate the example of western journalists like Ms.Rachael Wright who did a story in BBC on Auroville.

N. Nandhivarman, General Secretary Dravida Peravai
Politics Permalink

*** Thursday 18 September, 2008 Write to Nandhi Varman Forward this link
The End Of A Dream?
Auroville was created as a ‘universal city’ free of discord, but is riven by allegations of paedophelia, dubious land purchases, and racism, discovers

THERE SHOULD be somewhere on earth a place where no nation could claim as its own… a place of peace, concord and harmony… In this ideal place money would no longer be the sovereign lord; individual worth would have a far greater importance than that of material wealth and social standing.”
Such was the dream of Mirra Alfassa, Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual partner and successor, known to her followers as The Mother. In 1968, five years before her death, the dream led to the establishment of Auroville, a “universal town” as it calls itself, currently home to around 2,000 residents from 40 countries. Located 8 km from Puducherry, Auroville is run on government and UNESCO grants and the proceeds of its commercial projects. Best known today as an offbeat tourist attraction, deep rifts with the local community have, however, seen serious charges levelled against the community, ranging from allegations of certain residents sexually abusing children from nearby villages to claims of extortionate land acquisition. Local resentment has now burgeoned into an active campaign to have the town shut down, with some opponents even decrying it as a threat to national security.

Golden dome The paradise of Auroville is caught in the most unseemly controversies
Auroville started out as part of the Puduchery- based Sri Aurobindo Society, under Mirra Alfassa’s direct control. Following her death in 1973, divisions between residents and the Society resulted in almost two decades of wrangling over the town’s administration. Ultimately, in 1991, the Auroville Foundation (AF) was established by Parliament.
Not all who live in Auroville agree that this has worked. Some are frustrated and feel that the community’s original ideals and freedoms are fading. The AF is optimistic, though, and its Master Plan predicts Auroville’s population will reach 50,000 by 2025. In its design, however, the plan included several acres of yet-to-beacquired land belonging to nearby villages. While expansion of the 20 km campus has been sluggish, current AF secretary M. Ramaswamy, a senior IAS officer, has made land acquisition a priority, and, by January 2007, as reported then in community bulletin Auroville Today, purchased around nine acres for the town. This more than tripled in the following year, with the creation of the Auroville Land Fund, whose April-June newsletter states that 31.97 acres had been bought during 2007-08.
Villagers, however, allege that not all these purchases have been conducted on an entirely principled basis, and accuse the AF of using strong-arm tactics. S. Mathialagan of Edayanchavadi village says he ran foul of the AF after he refused to sell his land and accuses Ramaswamy of behaving like a property broker. “Ramaswamy uses the police to intimidate villagers who don’t want to sell,” Mathialagan told TEHELKA. “When I turned them down, they lodged a complaint against me and I was taken to the police station. I was only freed after the villagers protested.” Villupuram SP A Amal Raj, however, denied any villager had lodged any complaint on the issue.
Villagers are also unhappy with Auroville’s attempts to regulate land transactions in the area. In 2002, the late LM Singhvi, then an MP and a member of the AF governing board, wrote to the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalithaa, proposing an order that would bar land development or sale of areas that fell within the Auroville Master Plan, unless under AF approval. The order did not come through, but Ramaswamy is said to be pursuing the matter.

Lifestyle contrast The poor on the edge of the city.
While a land tussle could be said to be a purely local issue, far more serious are the charges of abuse. M. Kandavel, who leads a ‘Ban Auroville’ movement, alleges the place has become a haven for paedophiles. To back his claim, he quotes an August 2001 issue of Auroville News, in which a resident writes: “How many of us know, that there are Aurovillians who have sexually abused their maids, that Aurovilians have sexually abused village children; that Aurovilians have funded political gangs and allegedly incited violence in the villages?”
The child abuse charges got additional attention following a BBC report in May, which, while acknowledging Auroville’s endeavours in education and reforestation, reported the community authorities as admitting that it “did in the mid-90s include a convicted paedophile”. Talking to TEHELKA, Auroville Working Committee member Carel Thieme placed the number of Aurovillians asked to leave because of suspected involvement in paedophilia at three.
As Aurovillians themselves ruefully admit, not all who come here in pursuit of the ‘ideal’ life are themselves ideal. Residents and visitors have been known to overstep the bounds of decency, as evidence of which Kandavel cites a 2002 incident involving the wife of Tathagata Satpathy, a Biju Janata Dal MP from Orissa’s Dhenkanal constituency. When contacted, Satpathy, a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, told TEHELKA he had planned to spend New Year’s Eve in Auroville but was repulsed by the atmosphere. “I had gone there hoping for a spiritual experience. What I encountered was the opposite. People were drunk. Many were high on drugs. My wife wanted us to leave, but as we were doing so, some foreigners misbehaved with us.”

Lifestyle contrast Aurovillians at the beach
Adding to local animus are the state benefits Auroville receives, including a fairly sizeable grant, with Rs 5 crore allotted for 2008-09. Its commercial units also enjoy tax exemptions. The Chief Income Tax Commissioner has reportedly argued for having these enterprises taxed, but Auroville has managed to retain the exemption. The arrangement requires owners of commercial units to pay 33 percent of their profits to the AF while keeping the rest. AF members, however, claim that these profits ultimately return to the community.
All Aurovillians work in one or the other of the town’s commercial units or in its administration offices. A maintenance stipend is available, though not all Aurovillians avail of it, particularly Westerners. Of those who do live on the stipend, some maintain that the stipend of Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 is insufficient. “The cost of living is quite high in Auroville,” rues resident Ramachandra Mohanta. Other Indian Aurovillians echoed his views, saying life here is difficult if one does not have sound financial backing. AF member Sanjeev, however, points out that residents and their families get several facilities free, such as education and healthcare. When asked about the economic disparities among Aurovillians, he wryly remarked, “Auroville is not an egalitarian society.” The realisation of the equality the Mother envisioned is still some way off.
WHEN TEHELKA visited Auroville, this reporter stayed four days in ‘Aspiration’, one of the community’s oldest settlements, and also one of its poorer ones. Members share food expenses and have a common kitchen and dining hall. Though it is claimed that Auroville fosters human unity, complaints of racial discrimination persist and rarely did we see people of different nationalities interact.
Critics also disapprove of Auroville’s financial handling, which, in keeping with the way the rest of the community runs, is relatively unstructured. The Auroville internal audit of 2004-05 practically concedes this — while bringing no charges of funds mishandled, it made reference to several irregularities and systemic deficiencies in financial management. “There is no centralised accounting of income reflecting the totality of income and expenditure,” it said. “There is no overall budget for Auroville. The Foundation has no system to ensure that all money received through various channels is properly accounted for and utilised.”
Aurovillians will tell you their community is a “living human laboratory” and should be looked at with sympathy, not critically or analytically. However, while local antagonism toward the town and the resultant criticism of its practices and philosophy does not abate, it is perhaps time Auroville took heed and looked to ways of reaching greater accord. •
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 37, Dated Sept 20, 2008 Category: Politics Permalink

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Make money work hard for you: the secret of success lies in making your money do the work so that you can relax

No wealth without risk-The Times of India 3 Dec 2001, N Vidyasagar
Tendulkar always displays a degree of adventurism in every innings he plays. that’s the risk he undertakes.

no risk no gain is an age old axiom. indeed, risk is inherent to all investments. the trick lies in taking calculated risk, and ensuring that the payoff from investments is commensurate to the level of risk undertaken imagine Sachin Tendulkar playing defensive shots all the time. then, we would neither watch television nor get satisfaction out of the master blaster’s game. but that doesn’t happen. tendulkar always displays a degree of adventurism in every innings he plays. that’s the risk he undertakes. more often than not, it is carefully calculated risk. that’s why his game gives so much thrill to viewers. the same holds for taking risk to double money.

‘‘worry is not a sickness, but a sign of health. if you are not worried enough, you are not risking enough,’’ is the rule in the famous zurich axioms. the secret behind the success of swiss bankers is that they take risks. the road to wealth is paved with risk and one has to take the some amount of risk in building wealth. here we discuss the risks one has to undergo to be a winner in the money game. first, take risk: you will never fall in love if you are afraid to commit yourself to personal risks. one needs the same amount of guts to win in the money game. create savings and investment goals early in life. set your own goals and write everything down on paper. contact a financial expert and undergo a risk assessment test.

the biggest risk one undertakes is in the choice of an investment institution. half the battle is won if you pick up the right one. bet what you can afford to lose: decide on the amount you can lose. that is the amount which would not affect your normal life even if you were to lose it. everyone has to feed the family, send children to school, pay home loans and what not. the money you can afford to lose can range from rs 100 to rs 10,000 and upwards. experts advise that you should start modestly. they suggest increasing the dosage of risk as you gain confidence and experience. always remember, every successful entrepreneur begins small and grows big.

reduce risk through diversification: diversification means spreading of risk by putting money in several categories of investments. the idea is basically to play safe. if three of your investments get nowhere, may be the other three will get you something. normally the investment advice one gets today is that people who are above fifty should not invest more than 10 or 15 per cent in equities. but for investors in the thirties, investment advisors say they can invest 45 per cent or even 50 per cent in equities. but if one goes by the number one rule of zurich axioms, a fifty year old guy can plunge into the equity market if he can decide on the amount he can afford to lose. another thumb rule is not to diversify just for the sake of diversification.

put your money in instruments where returns are commensurate to risk. speculate a bit: always put your money at some risk. that means having a speculative strategy. experts say you will stay poor if you try to escape worry. no doubt, you will get hurt in the beginning. but by increasing the degree of risk in stages, you will learn to cope with it. history says that a larger number of investors have made money by taking risk than by avoiding it. so get used to it and enjoy it.

finally, make money work hard for you: the secret of success lies in making your money do the work so that you can relax. you can reach this level only if you have spent some time in following the earlier strategies. by taking some amount of risk you would have accumulated some amount of money. make it grow. like the same way many wealthy people continue to work because they enjoy what they’re doing. to enjoy later, worry a bit now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where The State guarantees profit, there cannot be anything like a free market

On the Great US Crash from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik

There can never be any guarantee of profit in a free market. Any such guarantee constitutes a “moral hazard,” and promotes reckless behaviour... With government bailouts, this course correction never happens. It is back to crooked business as usual...

The US government is not a good poster-boy for free markets. All the good work done by libertarians in promoting free markets and free trade in India is in danger of being undone. We should blame the crash on the Keynesian fiat money system run by The US State. After all, where The State guarantees profit, there cannot be anything like a free market, in which losses must be made booked too.

The globalizing world needs a sound monetary system. I am glad that this point of view is emerging strongly in America – thanks to Ron Paul. Sound money based on gold is the only way out if we want to secure a stable prosperity. The Crash is happening because of The State. So don’t blame it on the market. This is not what would happen in a truly free market scenario. And don’t call for “more regulation.” Call for sound money – and the abolition of the Fed.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Baudrillard insists that there is no collective principle left in America to modify the fragmentation of individual existence

Sep 8, 2008 James, Tocqueville and Baudrillard
from The Memory Bank 3.0 by keith

C.L.R. James is one among many writers who came from Europe to America and subsequently published their commentaries on the society they found there. In American Civilization, he explicitly linked his work to a tradition established by two predecessors—the French aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose famous study, Democracy in America, resulted from his travels there in the 1830s; and the English diplomat, James Bryce, who wrote The American Commonwealth half a century later. In recent years, there has been no shortage of European commentators on America, although few have established as profound a connexion with that country as Tocqueville, Bryce and James.

Here we seek to place James’s American Civilization (drafted in New York in 1950 and published by Blackwell in 1993) in the ongoing history of reflection on America by outsiders. Specifically, we compare his work with that of two Frenchmen— Tocqueville, the founder of the genre, and Jean Baudrillard, whose America (1989) is one of the more notorious examples of recent postmodernist writing on the subject.

The interest of America for Tocqueville and James originally stemmed from political questions posed within the context of Europe. The relationship of America to Europe, the continuities and the contrasts, forms a pervasive theme of their work. Although separated by more than a hundred years, both writers departed for the New World at a time of ferment in European history, after the political landscape had been transformed by a major event. In Tocqueville’s case this was the French Revolution; for James it was the Russian Revolution. Each man was convinced that democracy is the moving force in modern history and that America is playing the leading role in that movement.
Apart from the obvious parallels in the substantive concerns of Tocqueville and James, there are interesting similarities in their methods. Both writers, upon arrival in America, traveled widely through the country. Its geographical expanse captured their imagination; and a sense of freedom from the confining weight of European civilization is palpable in their writing. But these journeys also directly acquainted Tocqueville and James with the working of a democracy; and, in different ways, each made their personal observations and encounters with sections of the population the basis for understanding American society. They reached similar conclusions, placing their faith not in laws and formal institutions, but in the common people, in their pragmatic political sense. They saw the customs and attitudes to life of ordinary Americans as the safeguard of democracy’s future.
The structure of both Democracy in America and American Civilization reflects these conclusions. Each book is divided into two parts, the first dealing with the ideas underpinning the outward appearance of America’s public institutions, the second with the inner life and social practices of the American people themselves. Each book contains within its own development a movement from form to content that mirrors the historical contrast between the civilization of Europe and its American successor.
Tocqueville set out to examine how Enlightenment ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity had been incorporated into the foundation and functioning of a new society. He believed that democracy, government by the people in their own interests, was the distinctive impulse of his age. Its triumph as a historical process was inevitable and irreversible. The democracy of America was his case study. He found the principle of equality to be a more fundamental and durable feature of democracy than liberty; but he recognized their relationship to be close and complex: “Men cannot be equal without being free and equality, in its extreme form, must merge with freedom.” For Tocqueville the essential feature of American society was its people’s pursuit of worldly prosperity (happiness) under conditions of general equality.
Nevertheless, these observations led him to pose as the central paradox facing American civilization the unequal treatment of blacks, which he described as “the most formidable evil threatening the future of the United States.” He was conscious too of other dangers facing the new democracy. For example, the pursuit of happiness channeled the restless energies of the population into commercial and industrial activity. Yet Tocqueville saw here the possibility of inequalities being established through the growth of a manufacturing aristocracy. Furthermore, he observed that the drive for greater efficiency in America was achieved through specialization, through increasing division of labour. This resulted in a devastating dehumanization of the work process: “What is one to expect from a man who has spent twenty years of his life making the heads for pins?”
More fundamentally, for Tocqueville the greatest threat to a democratic society was posed by despotism. This was because it was part and parcel of the growth of democracy itself. Equality was linked to individualism; but, in isolating individuals, democracy weakened the connections between them and undermined their resistance to encroaching centralization. The power of society in a democracy was likely to be oppressive; the only counterweight in his view was the ability of citizens to form free associations.
At the close of the first volume of Democracy in America, there is a striking passage that in many ways anticipated the world in which James lived and which shaped his work:
“There are, at the present time, two great nations in the world, which seem to tend towards the same end, although they started from different points: I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and whilst the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly assumed a prominent place among the nations; and the world learned of their existence and their greatness at almost the same time. . . .Each of them seems to be marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe.”
James’s own study, begun a century later, shows how deeply Tocqueville understood the social, economic and political forces at work in democratic society. In American Civilization he takes up Tocqueville’s themes of liberty, equality and the forms of association; and he examines their meaning in a mid-twentieth century America where the pursuit of material wealth had reached its fullest expression in the system of mass production pioneered by Henry Ford. For James in 1950 the society’s original ideals of freedom and equality had by then been sacrificed to an oppressive work regime that paradoxically made it feasible for the people in general to aspire to the material means of achieving these goals. If Tocqueville placed equality at the centre of his interpretation of the new democracy, James was preoccupied with freedom, or rather with the awareness of its loss that permeated the consciousness of Americans in his day. Moreover, James saw that the worldwide struggle of popular forces against totalitarian bureaucracy had brought Tocqueville’s prediction of rivalry between America and Russia to the nightmare conclusion of the Cold War.
There is little of this grand vision in the more recent writings of European intellectuals. Nor is there the same sense of the American people as the vanguard of world civilization. Baudrillard’s America offers a typical example of the distaste felt by European elites for the American version of democratic society. While appearing to be seduced by the surface gloss of America, Baudrillard in reality gives vent to the deep hostility he feels towards the common people. They simply do not exist in his book. Their passive lot is to be imprinted by the myriad signs of advertising and propaganda whose meaning is vouchsafed only to the traveling intellectual, the author himself.
Baudrillard, a Cartesian subject if ever there was one, thinks alone in a universe unmediated by the presence of others. Hence his preference for the desert as an image of American society, reflecting the emptiness of the world he inhabits, as he watches it flashing by his car window. Traditionally, the European writer has conceived of his audience as a narrowly-based cultural elite, successor to the courts of the absolutist monarchs. He resents bitterly the democratization of the means of communication, especially television, since it threatens to bypass the monopoly of knowledge and information which was once stored in books. Even worse, democracy might transfer power from the intellectuals and their masters into the hands of the people themselves.
It follows from this that the intellectual denies the ability of the masses to make appropriate use of the information coming their way. One means of doing so is to represent America, the place where people power and mass communications are most developed, as a bewildering maze of signs detached from any sensible forms of social life and made meaningful only by the arcane manipulations of a master semiotician. In this way, Baudrillard and others like him transform the idea of America as the future into a grotesque cacotopia that it would be perverse to emulate. It is safe to celebrate the old Hollywood movies, as long as television, advertising and fast food are held at bay. America may even offer tourists the chance to relive cinematic images in the Western desert today, before they return to the safety of the old way of life.
The contrast between Baudrillard and James could not be greater. James too made a mind-expanding journey shortly after arriving in America from Europe. But he stayed for more than a decade. He made it his business to penetrate “the actual and intimate lives” of the American people; and he used the opportunity to overthrow the burdens of his own European intellectual legacy. He saw that the development of mass communications in the twentieth century had opened up a huge audience for information and entertainment. James recognized that the volatile tastes of this mass audience gave expression to social forces that had their roots in personal experience, in an individuality multiplied by millions. The purveyors of popular art forms, in his view, had to pay close attention to the revealed wants of their customers. Moreover, these forms reflected the essence of modern social life, its movement. The new audiences for the mass media have elevated the scale of perceived community far beyond the old limits imposed by work and residence, moving beyond the nation-state to embrace the emergent idea of one world society. James never underestimated the sophistication of ordinary people, certainly not their ability to make independent judgments about what they were fed by the media.
James, accepting the intrinsic movement of American society, felt compelled to address its history. Americans may not have a strong historical sense, but they make world history—whether in the eighteenth century with their revolution, in the nineteenth with the Civil War or in the twentieth with their military interventions abroad. James saw his task as the need to situate the growing power of the American people in a social history which was at once local and global. Baudrillard knows nothing of American history. History for him is what intellectuals pass on to the educated classes in books. Americans have no place in that version of history; they do not exist. Let them be reduced to the images of Hollywood movies or to fleeting encounters in desert motels.

Baudrillard is not indifferent to his great French predecessor. Like James he refers back to Tocqueville, only to conclude that the famous unity of private interest and public spirit has gone. He insists that there is no collective principle left in America to modify the fragmentation of individual existence. If James reached the opposite conclusion, then so too was his method an extension of Tocqueville’s. For him the meaning of popular culture was to be found in its resonance with the lives of ordinary Americans whom he studied over a period of many years. Not for him the jottings of a few weeks’ holiday spent trying to match what can be seen through a car window with youthful memories of the cinema.

As a representative example of much postmodernist writing in recent years, Baudrillard’s America is an indictment of that whole intellectual class whose postwar prosperity has insulated them from the movement of modern history, so that they can only see in America a mirror reflecting their own alienation. The intelligentsia have truly become a class without a social purpose. It is hardly surprising that, faced with the rise of popular forces on a world scale, they retreat into the old forms of intellectual life associated with Europe’s bourgeois civilization—and thereby constitute a ready-made market for Baudrillard’s excesses. James’s 1950 manuscript, Notes on American Civilization, is an even more pressing antidote to such thinking today than when it was originally written.

[Written with Anna Grimshaw. Note by Jim Murray, C.L.R. James Insititute, July 2001: This text was written in 1990 as an Appendix to the Institute pamphlet C.L.R. James and ‘The Struggle for Happiness’. The authors decided at the last minute not to include it because they thought it might “unbalance” the structure of the pamphlet. The material here was also not included in the slightly modified version of the pamphlet that became the Introduction to the 1993 Blackwell edition of American Civilization by C.L.R. James. James's own title for the book, at the end of his life, was The Struggle for Happiness. The title was changed, after he died, against the editors' wishes.]