20 December 2012

India: Ordinary Men Vs Great Men (Society/Family)

A brilliant psychological analysis* of how the Indian society/family is designed to produce a mass of ordinary men and only a very few great men (like Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi):

"Almost all students of Indian personality have been struck by the extreme indulgence of the Indian child, principally by the mother but also by other members of the family. This gives rise to a sense of omnipotence in the infant, a feeling that is fortified by nursing practices and physical proximity with the mother for an extended period of time.

An important consequence of this is that there develops in the Indian child a strong individual ego. As a result, moral energy does not come from the pressure of guilt feelings arising from a failure to live up to the social ideal, but depends crucially on a self-cultivated individual ideal. Fulfillment of the ideals set for the individual – rather than social obligation – becomes the main drive for moral action.

This creates wide gaps in individual capacities. For the average Indian, as morality has reference to self-directed and introspective perfection, the compulsion to perform is not very great. On the other hand, the culture develops high and universalist ideals with which the creative and power-motivated individuals strongly identify: the theme that the individual itself is the Absolute drives them to ever higher levels of perfection.

This gulf between the drives of ordinary men and those of great men results in abstract concepts of duty and morality, and a personality ideal that is high and remote – realisable only by exceptional men whose authority derives from their capacity to embody virtues that are lacking in ordinary men. Hence the exaggerated role of the guru, the ascetic, the warrior, and indirectly of a hierarchy of roles, and charisma."

*Politics in India – Rajni Kothari (1970)

See Nietzsche's "Superman" Theory

05 November 2012

India: Ancient Vs Medieval - Traditional Vs Feudal Politico-Economic Systems

A comparison of the politico-economic systems of ancient and medieval India (traditional vs feudal):

Traditional (Ancient)
Feudal
(Medieval)
.
1. Nationality of the rulers
Indian
Foreign
(Turk, Mughal, British)
.
2. Objective of the system
Welfare of the people
Welfare of the rulers
.
3. Basis of the system
Consent
Force
.
4. Political nature
Freedom
Slavery
.
5. Economic objective
Creating wealth
Looting wealth
.
6. Religious agenda
Tolerance
Conversion
.
7. Legal basis
Dharma
(rule of law)
Nil
(law of the jungle: might is right)

16 October 2012

Materialism, Spirituality and Idealism in India

What is the purpose of life? All human goals can be classified into 4 groups:
1. Kama (desire, pleasure)
2. Artha (wealth, power)
3. Dharma (morality, duty)
4. Moksha (salvation)

Accordingly we have the 3 philosophies of life:
A. Materialism – The pursuit of Kama and Artha
B. Idealism – The pursuit of Dharma
C. Spirituality – The pursuit of Moksha

Materialism does not give us happiness. Worse, it breeds selfishness, dishonesty and corruption – leading to the downfall of the society/nation. Example: Roman Empire.

Spirituality is offered as an alternative to materialism. But spirituality is an other-worldly philosophy. It rejects life in this world. By neglecting society, it also leads to the downfall of a nation. Example: India around 1000 AD.

So what is the solution? Lost between the two extremes of materialism and spirituality is the true answer: idealism – the pursuit of Dharma. If people live by certain simple rules (ie, morality) and do their duty sincerely, it brings both individual happiness and social well-being.

For 4000 years India gave primacy to Dharma – and was the world's richest and most powerful civilisation. Then, for some reason, we started giving primacy to Moksha. The result was we were conquered and ruled by foreigners (Turks, Mughals, British) for 1000 years.

In 1947 AD (Kali Yuga 5049) we finally became free. It was a golden opportunity to restore Dharma as the foundation of our nation. Instead, we confused Dharma with religion and threw it into the dustbin (because we are "secular"). The vacuum was filled by materialism. The results are there for all to see today.

The time has come to rescue India from both materialism and spirituality, and restore idealism (Dharma) as our national philosophy.

See:

01 September 2012

The Most Important People in Society

The most important people in society are:
1. Farmers
2. Teachers
3. Soldiers
But they are given the least importance.

The most useless people in society are:
1. Movie stars
2. Cricket players
3. Politicians
But they are given the most importance.

04 August 2012

Classification of World Religions

Classification of world religions:

A. Indian (Hindu/Aryan)
1. Shaivism
2. Vaishnavism
3. Shaktism
4. Buddhism
5. Jainism
6. Sikhism

B. East Asian (Sinic)
1. Confucianism
2. Taoism
3. Shintoism

C. West Asian (Semitic)
1. Judaism
2. Christianity
3. Islam

07 July 2012

When Did World War 2 Start?

Q: When Did World War 2 Start?
A: 1939

WRONG! World War 2 began in 1937, when Japan invaded China on 7 July 1937.

On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland – starting the Second World War in Europe. But the war itself had already begun.

Western historians say World War 2 began in 1939, not 1937. This only shows their Western bias and Euro-centric view of the world. There is no need for us to parrot this lie.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the most destructive war in history.

17 June 2012

India's Caste/Varna System: An Economic System

The four inputs (factors) of production are land, labour, capital and knowledge. Efficiency can be achieved by specialisation. In ancient India, different social groups (Varnas) specialised in handling the different factors of production:

Varna
Factor of Production
Brahmana
Knowledge
Kshatriya
Land
Vaishya
Capital
Shudra
Labour

Thus the Varna/caste system was born, based on economic specialisation.

See The Origin of the Varna/Caste System.

04 May 2012

"IF" - Rudyard Kipling: Kannada Translation

My crude Kannada translation of Rudyard Kipling's "IF" (1895):

ಧೀರ

ಜನ ತಲೆ ಕೆಟ್ಟು ನಿನಗೆ ಶಾಪ ಹಾಕಿದಾಗ,
ನೀನು ಶಾಂತವಾಗಿರು.
ಯಾರೂ ನಿನ್ನನ್ನು ನಂಬದಿದ್ದಾಗ ನಿನ್ನನ್ನು ನೀನು ನಂಬು,
ಆದರೆ ಅವರ ಸಂದೇಹವನ್ನೂ ಗೌರವಿಸು.
ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಾಯುವುದು ಅನಿವಾರ್ಯ;
ಕಾಯುವುದರಿಂದ ಸುಸ್ತಾಗದಿರು.
ನಿನ್ನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಜನ ಸುಳ್ಳು ಹೇಳಿದಾಗ, ನೀನು ಸುಳ್ಳು ಹೇಳದಿರು.
ನಿನ್ನನ್ನು ಜನ ದ್ವೇಷಿಸಿದಾಗ, ನೀನು ದ್ವೇಷಿಸದಿರು.
ಆದರೂ ಸಂತನ ಹಾಗೆ ಕಾಣದಿರು, ಋಷಿಯ ಹಾಗೆ ನುಡಿಯದಿರು.
ನೀನು ಧೀರ, ಮರೆಯದಿರು.

ಕನಸು ಕಾಣು -
ಆದರೆ ಕನಸುಗಳು ನಿನ್ನ ಮಾಲೀಕ ಆಗದಿರಲಿ.
ಚಿಂತನೆ ಮಾಡು - ಆದರೆ ಚಿಂತನೆಗಳು ನಿನ್ನ ಗುರಿ ಆಗದಿರಲಿ.
ಗೆಲುವು-ಸೋಲುಗಳನ್ನು ಎದುರಿಸಿ,
ಆ ಎರಡು ವಂಚಕರನ್ನು ಸಮವಾಗಿ ನೋಡು.
ನೀನು ಹೇಳಿದ ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ನೀಚರು ತಿರುಚಿಸಿ
ಮೂರ್ಖರಿಗೆ ಬಲೆ ಹೆಣೆದರೆ ಹೆಣೆಯಲಿ.
ನೀನು ಜೀವನ ಕೊಟ್ಟ ಕಾರ್ಯ ನಾಶವಾದಾಗ,
ಬಗ್ಗಿ ಸವೆದು ಹೋದ ಯಂತ್ರಗಳಿಂದ ಅದನ್ನು ಮತ್ತೆ ಕಟ್ಟಿಸು.
ನೀನು ಧೀರ, ಮರೆಯದಿರು.

ಜೀವನದ ಜೂಜಾಟದಲ್ಲಿ ನೀನು ಗೆದ್ದಿದ್ದನ್ನು ಎಲ್ಲ ರಾಶಿ ಮಾಡಿ,
ಅದನ್ನು ನಾಣ್ಯದ ಒಂದು ಎಸೆತದ ಮೇಲೆ ಜೂಜಿಡು.
ಸೋತರೆ ಮತ್ತೆ ಮೊದಲಿನಿಂದ ಆಟ ಶುರು ಮಾಡು;
ಯಾರಿಗೂ ನಿನ್ನ ನಷ್ಟದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಹೇಳದಿರು.
ಎದೆ-ನರ-ಸ್ನಾಯುಗಳು ಕಿತ್ತು ಹೋದರೂ ಹೋರಾಟ ಮಾಡು
ನಿನ್ನಲ್ಲಿ "ಮುನ್ನಡೆ!" ಎನ್ನುವ ಮನಸ್ಸು ಒಂದೇ ಉಳಿದಾಗ
ನೀನು ಮುನ್ನಡೆ!
ನೀನು ಧೀರ, ಮರೆಯದಿರು.

ಬಡವರ ಜತೆ ನುಡಿ - ಆದರೆ ಶ್ರೇಷ್ಠನಾಗಿರು.
ಒಡೆಯರ ಜತೆ ನಡೆ - ಆದರೆ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯನಾಗಿರು.
ಶತ್ರುಗಳು ಮಿತ್ರರು ಯಾರೂ ನಿನ್ನನ್ನು ದುಃಖಿಸಬಲ್ಲರು.
ಎಲ್ಲರನ್ನು ಪ್ರೀತಿಸು, ಯಾರನ್ನೂ ಮೋಹಿಸಬೇಡ.
ನಿರ್ದಯ ದಿನವನ್ನು 24 ಗಂಟೆಗಳ ಕೆಲಸದಿಂದ ತುಂಬಿಸು.
ಈ ಭೂಮಿ ನಿನ್ನದು, ಈ ಭೂಮಿಯ ಸಂಪತ್ತು ನಿನ್ನದು.
ನೀನು ಧೀರ, ಮರೆಯದಿರು.

12 April 2012

Dipankar Gupta: "Mistaken Modernity - India Between Worlds"

Dipankar Gupta was professor of sociology at JNU. A review of his "Mistaken Modernity: India Between Worlds" (2000):

Modernity

"Modernity has to do with attitudes, especially those that come into play in social relations. A modern society is one in which at least the following characteristics must be present:
- Dignity of the individual
- Adherence to universalistic norms
- Elevation of individual achievement over privileges of birth
- Accountability in public life.
"

This is a very narrow and selective definition of modernity. Modernity refers to the totality of the technology, economy, society, politics and culture that came into being after the Industrial Revolution. See Modernity: Technology, Economy, Society, Politics.

Modernisation

"Once these attributes are in place, it does not really matter if there is high-level technology. Generally speaking, technology (is a) consequence of the four characteristics of modernisation listed above, and (does not by itself) constitute modernity."

This is complete nonsense. The above characteristics are the features of an industrial society – which was the product of the Industrial Revolution. See The Techno-Economic Basis of Society.

India Today

"An analysis of contemporary India will reveal that while there has been a definite move from tradition, what we see around us is not yet modern. If the clock were to stop here, the final diagnosis should declare India as still unmodern."

Of course India is not yet modern. India began modernising properly only from 1991 onwards. See India's Modernisation. Today India can be said to be only 50% modern. See my Index of Modernisation. By the way, this delay in India's modernisation was due to Nehru's socialism – which Prof Gupta also believes in (see below).

Economics

"In this era (of globalisation), trade unions have been laid low and, along with it, the emphasis on production and producers as the main planks of economic thought and policy making. In their place, the consumer has stepped in and has become pivotal in all calculations.
Thus in the age when production was central, technologies entered only if they first cleared national barriers regarding what will be produced. Today, consumers get the first preference and any obstruction, in getting these goods and services across to them is anathema to the ideology of globalisation. In the age of globalisation, the consumer is king while the producer has been put out to pasture.
In other words, economic policies today tend to centre on what consumers want. It is no longer material if this brings about unemployment, greater economic dependency or lack of trade union privileges. These issues mattered a great deal in the age of internationalisation, which was production-centric.
"

Production and consumption are two sides of the same coin, two halves of the same process. How can there be any production without consumption? What is the use of producing goods for which there is no demand? Prof Gupta should stick to sociology, and leave economics alone (but then, he has gotten his sociology also wrong). To talk about production vs consumption is meaningless. His real argument here is socialism vs capitalism.

Socialism

"(Before globalisation,) national well-being and economic sovereignty were critical issues then that could not be ignored; indeed, these had to be kept up front in any policy formulation. This approach quite logically favoured planned and centralised development in which workers' rights, wages, wage goods and production conditions were critical considerations. Therefore, if the long-term interest of the nation meant that cars of a certain kind, or colour televisions, would not be produced because that might jeopardise a country's economic self-reliance, then that was that.
Economic restrictions and trade policies that earlier determined what will be produces, and how, are now looked at with distaste.
"

Here Prof Gupta openly makes the case for socialism. These are exactly the policies that kept India poor for 40 years – and delayed India's modernisation (an issue he is so worked up over).

Tradition

"The encumbrances of tradition permanently debased large numbers of people who were locked in an unyielding social hierarchy. There was no such thing as a universal law in traditional India, leaving subjects completely at the whim of their superiors. People suffered untold misery because of the accident of their birth.
Anyone who has seen how tradition has shackled the poor, or how it has tormented Hindu widows, will not have the slightest hesitation in welcoming modernity with all its stated drawbacks.
"

Tradition is the way of life of agricultural society, and modernity is the way of life of industrial society. Agricultural society was an unequal society all over the world – not just in India. Even Western society was like this before the Industrial Revolution.

Feudalism

"Much of the recent spate of murders and mayhem is only a bold reassertion of traditional Indian culture. Women and underlings must always be subservient, or else. Those wielding positions of power are not accountable to anyone. Children, especially boys, are supposed to run amok all their lives, more so if they come from privileged homes.
To hold modernity responsible for the grisly incidents of urban violence perpetrated by political brats, or to blame westernisation for the molestation of women in hotel discotheques, only corroborates what we Indians hate to admit: that our traditional culture is deeply flawed at its core.
"

These perversions are not "tradition", but feudalism – which was the product of 1000 years of Islamic and British rule. See India: Ancient, Medieval, Modern Periods. It is not Hindu tradition that is "deeply flawed at its core", but Islamic+British feudalism – which sadly still survives in India today.

It is Prof Gupta who is mistaken about modernity (and many other things), not India.

01 March 2012

Industrialisation/Modernisation: Definition

What is industrialisation/modernisation? What is its definition?

Industrialisation/modernisation = Increasing output by using technology (in agriculture, industry and services – in that order).

This is the core/heart/essence of industrialisation or modernisation.

From the Encyclopedia Britannica ("Economic Development"):

"A broader view of industrialisation is more relevant to economic development. In this sense, industrialisation is the application of modern science, technology and management to the task of raising the productivity of resources – not only in the manufacturing sector but in the economy as a whole, including the agricultural sector."

06 February 2012

India's Development and the Five-Year Plans

Development economics tells us that the keys to a country's development are:
1. Agriculture
2. Education
3. Healthcare
4. Infrastructure

How has India fared in these four areas (in terms of inputs) since 1947? Let us look at the resource allocation for different sectors in our Five-Year Plans:

Resource Allocation (%)
PlanAgricultureIndustryInfrastructureSocial Services
1. 1951–56
37
5
34
24
2. 1956–61
21
24
37
18
3. 1961–66
21
23
40
17
A. 1966–69
24
25
36
15
4. 1969–74
24
20
38
19
5. 1974–79
22
24
36
17
6. 1980–85
24
15
44
16
7. 1985–90
22
13
45
16
8. 1992–97
22
11
46
18
9. 1997–02
21
5
48
21
10. 2002–07
20
4
43
27
11. 2007–12
19
4
41
30

a) "Agriculture" = Agriculture + Irrigation. From the Seventh Plan onward, it includes Rural Development also.

b) "Infrastructure" = Energy + Transport and Communications.

c) "Social Services" = Education + Healthcare + other services. Separate figures for Education and Healthcare are available only till the Sixth Plan. Till the Sixth Plan, allocations for Education and Healthcare averaged around 6% and 4% respectively – together about 50% of "Social Services".

d) Totals do not equal 100% due to rounding off. Also, the Seventh and later Plans have some minor sectors, which I have left out.
  • Agriculture and Industry were given equal importance till 1974-79. They received an average of 22% and 23% respectively of the total allocation (from 1956-61 to 1974-79). But we should have given more importance to Agriculture – like the East Asian countries.
  • Infrastructure was not neglected, contrary to popular opinion. It received the largest share of resources (average 40%). Then why is our infrastructure so poor?
  • Education and Healthcare were neglected – getting only around 6% and 4% respectively. This was our biggest mistake. Only in the last two Plans (2002-07 and 2007-12) did we allocate more resources for them – presumably around 9% and 6% respectively.
  • Finally, Industry was given importance till 1974-79: average 23%. This decreased with the "limited liberalisation" of the 1980s (1980-85 and 1985-90): average 14%. It decreased even more after the 1991 reforms (1997-2002 onwards): average 4%, with industry being left to the private sector.
In sum, our report card on the four key areas (on the input side) is:
1. Agriculture – Average
2. Education – Poor
3. Healthcare – Poor
4. Infrastructure – Good

Data from Indian Economy (2010) by S K Misra and V K Puri.

24 January 2012

D D Kosambi: An Introduction to the Study of Indian History

D D Kosambi (1907–1966) did his BA at Harvard University. His "An Introduction to the Study of Indian History" (1957) was the first Marxist history of India. Sham Lal, then assistant editor of The Times of India, reviewed the book. Some excerpts from the review(1):

Vishnu and Shiva

"New god developed, better suited to the rustic mentality, and more paying to the Brahmins" he writes. "The most successful was Vishnu-Narayana-Krishna, who dominates the final rendition of the Mahabharata, which is closely related to the Manu Smriti." But as it happens, the Krishna of the Mahabharata is as far from being a rustic god as one can imagine. He is a warrior and thinker of the first order. Or does Kosambi think it is too homespun for those who live in big cities, or for the semi-literate Khrushchevs and Eisenhowers who run advanced industrial societies today?

"The ancestry of the new gods – Shiva and Vishnu – is no longer relevant" he says. The trouble starts when the two new worships come into violent conflict. "The reason was" snaps the professor's explanation "that Shiva had by then become the god the great barons, whereas the cowherd-boy Krishna remained associated with small producers." Was the South full of barons and the North of small producers? And did the later worship of Hari-Hara or Vishnu and Shiva as one god mean that the barons and small producers had become one class?

Bhagavad Gita

In regard to the syncretism achieved by the Bhagavad Gita over 2000 years ago, Kosambi says "it is still powerful in forming the consciousness of upper class Hindus by furnishing the ideological spheres where they fight out their conflicts." How does he hope to get away with so daft a generalisation? What about its part in forming the consciousness the lower classes? How has the superstructure(2) managed to remain intact over the centuries while the base(2) has changed out of recognition? Or does Kosambi mean to say that the base hasn't changed? Or that even if it has, the ideological needs of the upper classes have remained the same under pre-feudal as well as capitalist systems? In any case, how does the philosophical reconciliation of Yoga and Sankhya or Jnana and Bhakti help to provide weapons in the fight against new taxation and new bureaucratic controls?

Gupta Empire: Golden Age of India

Who spoke of the Golden Age of the Guptas? Not Kosambi. It is true, he tells us, that we have more gold coins from the Gupta period than from any other, but gold coins don't make an age golden. What about Kalidasa? We mumble. And Aryabhata and Varahamihira? And those who painted the murals in caves 1 and 2 and 16 and 17 at Ajanta, and carved the face of the Sarnath Buddha? Kosambi dismisses these questions with a shrug of the shoulder. "I know all that and much more" he says in effect. "But bejewelled Avalokiteshvaras and faintly smiling Buddhas don't make an age golden either. Look at the languishing cities, a more hidebound caste system, and the idiocy of life in the stagnating villages." We are not convinced. There must be something more to it than the idiocy of village life. How could so much idiocy sustain so much sophistication in both art and thought?

Buddhism

Kosambi dismisses the earlier split in Buddhism without much ado. It is true, as he says, that the Mahayana school "changed its language to Sanskrit" and the Mahayanists "drifted away further from the common people in their refinement of doctrine, researches into science, and higher abstract philosophy." But to concede this is not to say that the Hinayana school was more popular. Indeed the very raison d'etre of the Mahayana school was its greater appeal to the mass of the people. Its elaborate mythology was a concession to popular taste, and the thousands for whom the austere Hinayana doctrine had no attraction fell for the new creed.

Mythology

While referring to the priestly myths, he says that "these fables and a certain rigid discipline were helpful to impose upon savages, to initiate a class society." These fables were a part either of the superstructure of a pre-class society or of a class society. If they were the product of a pre-class society, they could hardly be expected to serve the needs of a class society. If they were them selves the product of a class society, how could they help to initiate it?

Religion

He says that the Indus Valley cities rested upon trade, not fighting. This naturally raises the question: If the army or police was not very strong, what helped the trader to maintain his unequal sharing of profit? Kosambi thinks the answer is religion. But this is really no answer, for it evades the real question as to why religion became such a force here and not elsewhere. Kosambi says "dominance of religion would explain the changelessness of the culture over at least 500 and more, probably 1500 years." But the real question is: What explains the dominance of religion in the first place?

Culture and Philosophy

Kosambi ties himself in an impossible knot when he asserts that "the subtle mystic philosophies, tortuous religions, ornate literature, monuments teeming with intricate sculpture and delicate music of India all derive from the same historical process that produced the famished apathy of the villager, the senseless opportunism and termite greed of the cultured strata, sullen uncoordinated discontent among the workers, the general demoralisation, misery, squalor and degrading superstition. The one is the result of the other; the one is the expression of the other."

Yet, this is precisely what he fails to prove. How do we explain the sheer beauty and depth of the music? Is it the result of the "termite greed of the cultured strata"? Or is it the expression of the "sullen discontent" of the subalterns? Are the mystic philosophies the result of "greed", or do they try to do away with this evil – at least in those who really believe in them? It does not help to explain a part of the superstructure as a result of economic causes, and the rest as a reflection of economic conditions. It only makes the confusion worse confounded.


Notes:
1. Indian Realities in Bits and Pieces (2003)
2. See Karl Marx's base-superstructure theory