Thursday, February 28, 2008

Disregarding all reductionist prophecies about the triumph of “profit”

When on 28th February 1968, boys and girls from 124 countries and 22 states of India were together to place a handful of soil of their land in a lotus bud shaped urn under the watchful eyes of The Mother, marking the foundation of Auroville, it became the greatest experiment upon earth. The obvious dimension aims at human unity and world peace. But the more subtle aspect has to do with aspiration of matter to be a conscious participant in the evolution towards immortality. The possibilities had opened in a grand breakthrough twelve years earlier, on 29th February 1956.

Momentous events which our mainstream media is too drunk to take notice of. But the promise and the certitude marches on with ever increasing vigour and momentum. Disregarding all reductionist prophecies about the triumph of “profit,” we the Savitri Erans shall show one day that it is the call of the “higher” that really wins the race. [TNM] 7:06 PM

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Foundational Myths

[Orders and Organizations (by Don Boudreaux) from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
opposition by free-market liberals to government action does not mean that we free-market liberals oppose all of the goals of the well-meaning proponents of government action.... There is a libertarian intellectual movement, of course. And I admit that I feel deep gratification whenever I reflect that in some small way I work within a tradition enriched, and more or less consciously embraced, by people such as Adam Smith, Frederic Bastiat, Mencken, Hayek, Milton Friedman, Jim Buchanan, and Vernon [Smith].
There is also a libertarian political movement, but it is notoriously undisciplined. (I've gone to a total of two Libertarian-party gatherings. The first was in 1979 in New Orleans -- dull. The second was in 1980 in NYC. At this latter event, the Libertarians decided very ostentatiously to support the Man-Boy Love Association. I thought this a bit much.)
I suppose that it is somewhat ironic that the classical-liberal and libertarian movement (perhaps a better word is "tradition") does prominently deny the myth that there's salvation in the political collective. More specifically, this tradition denies three myths that many people still doggedly believe: (1) that useful social and economic orders only result from of a conscious plan and effort -- or can invariably be improved by such conscious planning and effort; (2) that the nation is economically and morally special - that each of us has a special connection (and should have a special connection) with each and every one of our fellow citizens that we don't have with citizens of other countries; and (3) that personal pursuit of material gain is suspect or, at least, contemptible -- that it's always better to aim for "higher" purposes -- to sacrifice ourselves for others or for some cause that is "larger" than the individual.
About your point regarding private firms: it's true that nearly all private, productive economic activity takes place in organizations consisting of some, often very many, people. It's true also that people often feel loyalty to the organizations they work for or or are otherwise closely associated with. But the motivating force of such organizations in a market economy isn't chiefly these small-scale collective purposes (any one of which is often at odds with the collective purpose of some other organization). The motivating force is individual profit. And, importantly, people are usually aware of this fact, and so they're not duped into sacrificing themselves for others. Gains from trade, rather than commitment to a nebulous higher cause, is the chief motive.
One of the important influences on my thinking about this broad topic is a 1962 essay by Hayek called "Two Kinds of Order." If you ever run across this essay, I do recommend it.]

Three “myths” have ably been outlined by Don Boudreaux. His objections to them are perhaps practical, but in no way, fundamental. Boudreaux is not under any obligation to explain his thesis within a compatible ontology, but if he cares to do so, only then can their validity be ascertained. Otherwise, these are just opinions, and offer us enough leeway to continue to believe in the “myths.” [TNM]

Aiyar's ambivalence

[Home Views Editorials Big Idea Daniel H Rosen February 20, 2008 Unskilled labour was so abundant in the past that many manufacturers chose archaic modes of making stuff rather than invest in technology and innovation. That choice has brought its own problems, as many manufacturers are finding it hard to compete in the face of even moderate wage inflation. But moreover, by directing the bulk of investment into heavy industry instead of labour-intensive light industry and services, China is not growing according to its best advantages. The five biggest energy users in China — steel, cement, aluminum, glass and chemicals — employ fewer people today than they did ten years ago, and fewer people than the service sector in Guangdong province alone. China’s labour advantage simply doesn’t accrue to most of the best known Chinese firms.
Lax intellectual property rights protection has created an economy with a questionable ability to deliver real hi-tech innovation close to the frontier. Much of what passes for hi-tech in China is actually a modest adaptation of existing technology, often involving piracy. Where more significant innovation is taking place, it is usually owned and operated by foreign enterprises. This is good for China, no doubt. But it is not the same thing as booming indigenous innovation. The lack of a regulatory culture produces weak quality controls, which has made building Chinese brands difficult. Concerns about lax products standards have lately tarnished Brand China itself. Corporate governance remains merely an aspiration.]

[The high cost of delayed reform ET 26 Feb, 2008, 0018 hrs IST, Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, TNN For a short but incisive economic history of India since Independence, you should read the first hundred pages of Arvind Panagariya’s new book (India: The Emerging Giant, OUP)... The first phase, 1951-65, is widely called Nehruvian socialism. But Panagariya describes this as “Take-off under a liberal regime”. Many other academics have come to the same conclusion — that what is derided as Nehruvian socialism actually applies mainly to the Garibi Hatao policies of Indira Gandhi. Yet in fairness to Indira Gandhi, she was widely believed to be implementing a socialist agenda that Nehru launched but could not implement because of vested interests. Nehru’s socialist rhetoric was at odds with his pragmatic handling of the economy. His rhetoric called for the government to control the commanding heights of the economy. He was fascinated with Soviet-style planning. Yet in practice he presided over an era of low tariff and non-tariff barriers, and easy entry of foreign direct investment. Shell, Exxon and Caltex entered with 100% equity and no conditions. So did dozens of MNCs in pharma and other sectors. This era had price and distribution controls, many dating from World War II, but these (and industrial licensing) became serious impediments only in the 1960s. Phase 1 witnessed GDP growth acceleration to 4% per year from just 1% during the British Raj. Public investment in infrastructure, industry, agriculture and social sectors increased hugely in the first three Five Year Plans. Panagariya might have made more mention of institution building in this era, which was a source of immense strength in subsequent dark days, and continues to serve us well 60 years later. Nehru’s main fault was that he ignored the vital role of exports, and focused instead on import substitution. This approach was facilitated initially by running down the huge sterling balances India inherited from World War II, and later by foreign aid. But such financing was unsustainable. Phase 1 ended in economic ruin in 1965, when two droughts, war with Pakistan, and a suspension of foreign aid converted Nehru’s once-proud India into a beggar dependent on American food aid to prevent mass starvation...I am less gung-ho than Panagariya on how far the private sector can replace dysfunctional public services. Indeed, I worry about the sustainability of 8.5% growth in Phase V. Panagariya thinks that the reforms have been sufficiently wide and deep to explain 8.5% growth. But India ranks only 104th, far behind many African countries, in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. The World Bank’s latest Doing Business report ranks India at just 120th out of 180 countries. India holds 126th position in the Human Development Index, and 72nd in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International. Such a country looks vulnerable in the coming global downturn.]

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar's reservation about the private sector sends shivers down our spine. [TNM]

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo has firmly established the possibility of the divine body

[How Long Do We Have Before The Rise of the Cybermen? from Vox Nova by Henry Karlson]

[Is there any reason why he should not also liberate the bodily existence from the present law of death, division and mutual devouring and use individualisation of body as merely a useful subordinate term of the one divine Conscious-Existence made serviceable for the joy of the Infinite in the finite? or why this spirit should not be free in a sovereign occupation of form, consciously immortal even in the changing of his robe of Matter, possessed of his self-delight in a world subjected to the law of unity and love and beauty? And if man be the inhabitant of terrestrial existence through whom that transformation of the mental into the supramental can at last be operated, is it not possible that he may develop, as well as a divine mind and a divine life, also a divine body?...There are, quite certainly, other states even of Matter itself; there is undoubtedly an ascending series of the divine gradations of substance; there is the possibility of the material being transfiguring itself through the acceptation of a higher law than its own which is yet its own because it is always there latent and potential in its own secrecies. -- Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > English > The Life Divine Volume-18 > The Knot Of Matter]

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo has firmly established the possibility of the divine body materializing. Scientific or technological peregrinations, however, merely magnify the tension that the present chasm signifies. [TNM]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why to waste the vote?

Just a day or two before the voting day, people start asking each other in a serious and whispering tone, "Who is winning?" A strange emotion seizes them -- to be on the winning side. "Why to waste the vote? And regret after the announcement of the results," -- that's the sentiment. It is a personal sense of achievement that one had the prevision, just like buying a share, whose price soars. "Bow before the rising Sun" -- that's the slogan. So, people just look for hints, clues, and scan various sources, ready to go with the wave. And thus the politician wins a landslide victory. Voters rejoice; crackers and all. Posted by: Tusar N. Mohapatra at Feb 26, 2008 1:46:46 AM Tim Harford's chapter eight, a contribution from Sahar Akhtar

The agony of small numbers

[clipped from
Social-media sites like Wikipedia and Digg are celebrated as shining examples of Web democracy, places built by millions of Web users who all act as writers, editors, and voters. In reality, a small number of people are running the show. According to researchers in Palo Alto, 1 percent of Wikipedia users are responsible for about half of the site’s edits. The site also deploys bots—supervised by a special caste of devoted users—that help standardize format, prevent vandalism, and root out folks who flood the site with obscenities. This is not the wisdom of the crowd. This is the wisdom of the chaperones. Counterintuitive Fact of the Day from Indistinct Union by cjsmith]

[So, what’s with the Indian stock indices? One thing is clear: the individual stocks in the index are being manipulated, either to mislead investors deliberately or to offset punts in the sensex or Nifty futures. In reality, it is mostly the latter. The futures and options market today is in multiples of the cash market, resulting in the tail wagging the dog. This leads us to a larger point: the market is so shallow that only a few investors can manipulate a couple of stocks and impact the index outcome. The end result is that a distorted index tends to send out wrong signals to many other market participants who are not involved in these machinations. Even though both the exchanges say that it is difficult to manipulate index stocks, there is some prima facie evidence to suggest that the securities market regulator needs to take a look at this before it spirals out of hand. (With research inputs from Rajesh Mascarenhas, ETIG) What's with stock indices? ET 26 Feb, 2008, 0026 hrs IST, Rajrishi Singhal]

What with cabals and cartels of motivated operators, it becomes difficult to believe "that prices of essential commodities have increased due to futures trading and not because of supply side constraint is not true." [TNM]

Money or Harmony, that's the question

[Aiming at a cashless economy, the Aurovillians said people working there are either self-maintained or maintained by the community. “We brought in a new structure where there is no need for exchange of money. When provided what you need, you work for developing yourself. This simplifies life and there is less stress. Possessing money is suddenly not needed and this new system is spreading,” the Aurovillians added. National Auroville, cynosure of the world The Hindu Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 Staff Reporter “Human unity is the first step towards a better world” 7:47 AM]

[Editorial Money and the People’s Choices February 25, 2008
A mind-boggling amount of money has already been spent on this year’s presidential election, and we haven’t even gotten to the conventions. The raising and doling out of lavish sums has been dispiriting to watch, a muddle of incompetence, avarice and special pleading, only vaguely restrained by the nation’s campaign finance laws. We sincerely hope that things improve before the general election onslaught. Given this spectacle, it is discouraging to think that this year’s presidential candidates are vying to take control over the national purse strings.
Readers' Comments: "Campaigns look like the U.S. version of Roman excess, among other things." Esther Buddenhagen, Mexico]

Money or Harmony, that's the question. [TNM]

Monday, February 25, 2008

Vote for the Presidential System

[Like with the electoral system, changing the basic design of the executive-legislature relationship has attracted reformers right from the beginning. A desire to flirt with some form or the other of US-style presidentialism is not new. But what was earlier an innocent if sad desire to copy everything American has taken a specific political hue in recent years. Now it is a not-so-innocent design to tilt the political scales in favour of a national political party like the BJP. The arguments for the presidential system show little understanding of what this system was originally designed to produce. It also reveals a complete ignorance of the disastrous record of the presidential system all over the world, especially in Latin America (see Linz and Valenzuela). -- A radical agenda for political reforms YOGENDRA YADAV]

[The BJP’s strategy is quite obvious: the party will try to turn it into a presidential race between Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sonia Gandhi (‘Atal ji versus a question mark’) and exploit the carefully crafted and media managed image of the prime minister. Besides, it will try to wrong-foot the Congress on questions concerning Hindu sensibilities. Notwithstanding a lot of talk about the ‘feel good’ factor and ‘India Shining’, it is unlikely that the BJP’s poll managers think that they have very much to sell about the performance of the Vajpayee government beyond some general hype. The strategy would be to create a hawa without getting into any substantial discussion of the government’s performance in general and the economic policy in particular. -- Open contest, closed options YOGENDRA YADAV]

There have been many advocates of the presidential system in the past like Ramakrishna Hegde and Vasant Sathe. Now, Shashi Tharoor, too, insists that Presidential system promotes nationalism (Sunday Times of India, 24 Feb 2008). Many would like to agree with him. But the real problem is that there is no mechanism at present for such a changeover. Creation of more and more smaller states will warrant such an eventuality sooner or later. [TNM]

Symbiotic readings of Marx and Hegel integrating kernel and shell

[Just as Marx’s “science” is not an instrumental or positivist exercise, but an exercise in reconstructing a network of relationally-determined concepts, his notion of “determination” is intended to situate his categories within the network of relationships within which they acquire their present-day meaning: the concept of “determination” operative in his work is not a causal concept in an applied social science sense of the term...Essence and appearance are intrinsically related, for Hegel: they are mutually interpenetrating, mutually generative, sharing the same substance, but also distinct from one another. Marx takes this sort of argument over into Capital, with value presented as a kind of “social essence” generated in and through the flux and apparent lawlessness of the appearance of exchange (the argument is a bit more complex than this, as exchange isn’t the only site of “flux” - I’ll leave this point aside for now). In Marx’s argument, this social “essence” does not exist as some separate substance that sits outside exchange, determining the movement of “appearances” in the form of prices. Instead, value is something that emerges in and through that flux - a pattern or regularity that the flux itself generates, in and through its apparent random walk. Within this framework, it doesn’t make sense to talk about “value” as if it exerts a casual force on exchange as the dependent variable. Value is rather itself an “effect”, a “result”, intrinsically bound together with the flux through which it becomes manifest as a non-random pattern emergent over time. This pattern “determines” the flux, not in a casual sense, but as a description of the qualitative attributes of one of the aspects of, in this case, an overarching process in which both the “law” of value and the “flux” of exchange are moments.... I like the way that Elson emphasises how Marx’s method makes it possible to transform our understanding of categories...Elson uses this point to argue that world cannot be appropriated fully in thought; she suggests, however, that it could perhaps be fully appropriated in practice (143) - a position I’m not sure Marx would share, as practice also has its situatedness, its form: I’m not sure that appropriation of the world can be “completed”, whether in thought or in practice… She then moves to a criticism specifically of capital logic approaches for confusing capital - which she takes to be a category of analysis - with an entity, existent in the world in some form. -- Reflections on Elson’s “Value Theory of Labour”, part 1 from by N Pepperell]

Such symbiotic readings of Marx and Hegel, hopefully, would generate more fruitful (integrating kernel and shell) ontological consequences than the jejune sociological (standing on its head) discourse permits. [TNM]

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Learn from Sri Aurobindo instead of trying to imitate the seven blind men apprehending an elephant

["I don’t think these influences can be categorised as liberal or radical in a simplistic way. To understand my argument about influences, one will have to go back to my Hindutva volume. I’ve included Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo as extremely influential figures in contributing to what we see as Hindutva. Neither was their vision of the nation liberal or inclusive in any sense of the term. Golwalkar is the inheritor of this very narrow and dangerous vision." -- Jyotirmaya Sharma, author of 'Terrifying Vision', a book about MS Golwalkar of the RSS, in an interview with Deepak K Upreti of the Deccan Herald shiv]

Jyotirmaya Sharma is right. There is no valid reason why Sri Aurobindo should have conformed to Sharma's notion of liberal or inclusive or whatever. It is time Sharma and his ilk start learning from Sri Aurobindo instead of trying to imitate the seven blind men apprehending an elephant. Sri Aurobindo — A Contemporary Reader (Editor: Sachidananda Mohanty / pp. 235 / Rs 275 Routledge India: January 2008) offers a befitting reply to Sharma. [TNM]

Orissa has 500 schools in the voluntary sector under the rubric, "Integral Education"

['Education alone can help India become a superpower' 6 Jan, 2008, 0910 hrs IST > It's time to motivate both non-profit and profit-making institutions to set up educational institutions Education sector new learning curve for investors 6 Jan, 2008, 0910 hrs IST, Aman Dhall & Dheeraj Tiwari > If analysts are to believed, it looks that education is one sector where you can bet your money safely. Reason: the industry is standing on solid fundamentals and appears ready for big action this year Business of education catches on with India Inc 6 Jan, 2008, 0240 hrs IST, Shreya Biswas > The education space is buzzing with activity, with various private players venturing out to get a slice of the hugely untapped market. economic times]

Around 500 schools in the voluntary sector under the rubric, "Integral Education" are playing a significant role in the field of education across the state of Orissa. Dependent solely, as they are, on local resources, their business models need outside support as well as capital infusion. [TNM]

"Be SELFish" is the slogan

[The apology and the moral significance of guilt from Faith and Theology
A guest-post by
Scott Stephens > Like many Australians, I watched today’s carefully staged media drama unfold... – the whole ordeal reeked of kitsch, empty ceremony and pretence. Quite frankly, I thought it was an overblown PR exercise for the new Federal Government, and that it verged on pandering to latent racist feeling in this nation... Because, in the immortal words of The Princess Bride, I don’t think this apology means what they think it means..., this apology (like so much of the moral tokenism we perform today, superficial acts of charity designed to make us feel better about ourselves) seems to me to have been internally corrupted by wanton self-interest and political expedience. In this instance, it is particularly important to remember Immanuel Kant’s assertion that the moral worth of an act lies not in its commission but in its intention. So, what was the motivation behind the apology? Or, to put this question another way: for whom was this apology intended? ... The true recipients of the apology were those white Australians who watched and wanted to be made to feel as if they had taken part in something good. Rather than being left to listen and grieve and celebrate in private, these indigenous Australians were made to take part in a kind of emotional pornography for the benefit of thousands of white Australian viewers who wanted to feel, as Noel Pearson rightly put it, “the warm inner glow that will come from having said sorry.”]

[Agression in the Air
Around and About by shantanu dutta > Certain kinds of aggression can be liberating in that they set you free to pursue the goals of Citius, Altius, Fortius." "Swifter, Higher, Stronger which are of course the motto of the Olympic movement but can be used else where to pursue any noble goal in life. But the bottom pinching , high speeding, vulgar speech driven aggression visible in North India and even more so in Delhi where I live and read some of these things in the morning paper, experience a few in the course of the day, and then come back to watch some more in the news channels on television is no customized meritocracy to move society to upward levels. this leering, domineering aggression is all about getting ahead not by raising the bar for myself but by lowering the bar in general by brutally crushing self esteem, and then crossing over the lowered bar in a crude wild westfashion. It is easy to cross the finish line by lowering the bar and then crippling the opposition, so that there is no legitimate opposition left in the race but there is little pride of achievement in such a victory, only the shallow gloat of the winner of the rigged race.
So deeply embedded is aggression, that it has been appropriated by the State even, and often no symbol of authority is so disgusting than the sound of the police lathi banging menacingly on the street, bazaar or the railway platform as the constable signals his presence and authority by dashing his stick on the ground as he moves clearing space for himself. The lathi of the police man is not even a semblance of safety and security as much a tool of undisguised aggression and dominance. Desicritics - Feb 22, 2008]

[Feb 23, 2008 Politics and the Law from The India Uncut Blog by Amit Varma
Raj Thackeray is priceless. Writing
an open letter to Sudheendra Kulkarni in the Indian Express, he says:
"[D]o political movements need to obey the law? Political history learnt by me tells me that breaking the law, getting arrested, braving lathis and getting jailed are symbols of a principled agitation.
In recent times, the rulers and opposition parties indulged in movements of political compromise, in which morchas are taken out, the share of benefits of the government and opposition parties are decided. Then the protesters and their companions go home and sleep peacefully! This is called todbazi (compromise). The word political movement is an equivalent word for breaking the law!"
Most Indian politicians would surely agree with Thackeray that politics in India has become all about “the share of benefits of the government and opposition parties”—though few would state it so openly. Our politicians treat this country as government property, theirs to use as they please when they come to power, and theirs to bargain for when they are in opposition, using the threat of violence. For them, the law is a tool to oppress the common man, and not something that their activities need to be subject to. No wonder they ask, do political movements need to obey the law?
And really, what’s the difference between them and the British Empire we fought to overthrow. That was just timepass, or did we really want freedom?
Also read:
Nitin Pai’s astute take on the subject, and my earlier essay, The Republic of Apathy.]

It’s all question of ethics but expecting superior conduct in the political and economic arena is a chimera. Only the Savitri Era spiritual approach can convince people to become gentlemen in order to guard their self-interest. "Be SELFish" is the slogan. [TNM]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Consolations apropos secular citizens' disquieting additional obligation

[Religion in the public sphere: Inclusion and accountability in the public sphere
posted by
Cristina Lafont SSRC Home SSRC Blogs Blog Home
In his essay “Religion in the Public Sphere,” Habermas joins the debate between liberals and critics of liberalism on the proper role of religion in the public sphere.... According to Habermas, allowing religious reasons in public deliberation only makes sense if all citizens take those reasons seriously and do not deny their possible truth from the outset. It follows that secular citizens should not make public use of their sincere beliefs if they happen to be of a secularist type that contradicts the possible truth of religious claims. However, if disallowing democratic citizens to publicly adopt their own cognitive stance is unacceptable, it seems that this would be so whether those citizens happen to take a religious or secularist stance. This problem is aggravated by what is likely to strike secular citizens as a disquieting additional obligation, namely, the obligation to open their minds to the possible truth of religious reasons as a precondition for finding out whether they can be translated into secular ones. Beyond its doubtful feasibility, this obligation seems to deprive secular citizens of the very same right to publicly adopt their own cognitive stance that the proposal aims to grant to religious citizens. But is it possible to organize public deliberation in such a way that the right of democratic citizens to adopt their own cognitive stances is recognized without giving up on the democratic obligation to secure that only public reasons count in support of coercive policies with which all citizens must comply?
[Stay tuned for the next installment] This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 7:04 am and is filed under
Religion in the public sphere. 7:04 PM ]

[Religion in the public sphere: Religious citizens & public reasons posted by Cristina Lafont Since religious citizens, as much as any other citizens, are only obligated to address counterarguments based on reasons generally acceptable to everyone, they are perfectly capable of understanding them without being cognitively dishonest. But since the challenge is driven by those who offer the counterarguments, religious citizens do not have to artificially generate a foreign or insincere way of thinking in support of the policies they favor. This task is fulfilled by those who oppose such policies on the basis of their sincere beliefs. All that religious (as well as nonreligious) citizens have to do is to come up with convincing reasons to show why these counterarguments are wrong, if they think they are. Only the outcome of such a debate would allow citizens to know what their considered political convictions should be. Democratic citizens cannot determine in advance of actual public deliberation the reasons upon which their political decisions ought to be based. In order to be legitimate, their decisions ought to be based on those reasons that have survived the scrutiny of political deliberation in the public sphere. SSRC Home SSRC Blogs Blog Home This entry was posted on Friday, February 8th, 2008 at 5:40 am and is filed under Religion in the public sphere. Michael Perry: February 8th, 2008 at 12:35 pm ... Christopher Eberle, Religious Conviction in Liberal Politics (Cambridge University Press 2002). To engage these issues without first engaging Eberle’s book is, well, misguided.]

Imposing additional obligation "to open their minds to the possible truth of religious reasons" upon the secular citizens, as Professor Lafont captures it, appears to be definitely unjustified. But the intractable problem arises out of

  1. an artificial (as though, racial) dichotomy erected between religious citizens and secular citizens, and
  2. supposing that they posses (as though, genetically) different orders of cognitive stance.

The democratic domain is a consistently fermenting zone, where either the conspiracy of silence operates, or opinions are espoused/jettisoned as per convenience. The so-called secular cognitive stance is an arrogant and dishonest handle of hegemony in disregard of deeper sensitivities divined. [TNM]

Savitri Era is the most feasible path for the future

[shiv Forum Administrator Joined: 31 Dec 1969 Posts: 7364 Posted: 04 Apr 2007 08:56 am Post subject: THE INQUIRER ‘RSS view of Hindu rashtra an anachronism’ Jyotirmaya Sharma, author of `Terrifying Vision', a book about MS Golwalkar of the RSS, in an interview with Deepak K Upreti of the Deccan Herald comments on the controversial legacy of the leader. The book Terrifying Vision by Jyotirmaya Sharma is about MS Golwalkar who succeeded the founder of the RSS, KB Hedgewar, and led the Sangh for 33 years until his death. Sharma taught in the UK and worked as a journalist in India. Jyotirmaya Sharma, in an interview with Deepak K Upreti of the Deccan Herald, comments on the controversial legacy of the RSS chief. Excerpts: ‘Terrifying Vision’ refers to Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar’s spiritual stay with Swami Akhandananda, founder of the Ramakrishna Ashram in Sargachhi, Bengal, and a direct discipline of Ramakrishna Parmahansa. You also mention Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Tilak and Madan Mohan Malviya contributing to the maturing of Golwarkar’s vision of a Hindu Rashtra. How does the inheritor of such liberal influences churn out a ‘terrifying vision’ of a Hindu rashtra? "I don’t think these influences can be categorised as liberal or radical in a simplistic way. To understand my argument about influences, one will have to go back to my Hindutva volume. I’ve included Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo as extremely influential figures in contributing to what we see as Hindutva. Neither was their vision of the nation liberal or inclusive in any sense of the term. Golwalkar is the inheritor of this very narrow and dangerous vision."]

[How Aurobindo came to Pondicherry Posted on Feb 22nd, 2008 by sanmugan
How popular is Bhavan's Journal now? Our readers' feedbacks are the proof of its popularity Read this feedback from a reader which was published in our September 30th, 2007 issue How Aurobindo came to Pondicherry. Sir, It is the year of centenaries and your article on Sri Aurobindo (B.J.July 31) tempts me to record factual data, to the generations to come. H. P. Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, was forced to leave Adyar (in Chennai) and was told by Mahatma Kuthumi to go to Pondicherry. Around the same time, the Alipore trial began. The triple chin British Judge played the clown: Chowkidar, do you see Sri Krishna anywhere, he asked cupping his eyes, peering into the distance.Prisoner, I am about to pronounce the sentence. Where is your Sri Krishna? Sri Aurobindo replied  In your heart, about to pronounce the sentence. In my heart? the judge trembled. His three chins wobbled and he hit the gravel  Prisoner released. There was cheering in the court. Sri Aurobindo was surprised. He was expecting to go back for his lunch in prison. Freed, where would he get food? He came out. Sri Krishna pointed him the way and he went in that direction. Mahatma Kuthumi told him to take Madame Blavatsky's place in Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo had recorded all this. He addressed the theosophists and they recorded this. In 1958, Munshiji encouraged me to put it in print and I sent this record to Rohit Mehta, General Secretary who printed it. -- D. J. Buxey from October 2007 Newsletter Access: Public Add Comment Print Send views (9)]

More and more details concerning the life of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo and their ideals will emerge as Savitri Era is increasingly seen as the most feasible path for the future. [TNM]

Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Sri Aurobindo

[Rousseau versus Locke from The Daily Goose by Matthew
Boiled down, their debate animates the progressive versus conservative debate, and the debate within every human heart. Or
so says Jonah Goldberg:
"Rousseau says … that our rights come from the government, that come from the collective. Locke says our rights come from God, and that we only create a government to protect our interests. The Rousseauian says you can make a religion out of society and politics, and the Lockean says no, religion is a separate sphere from politics. And that is the defining distinction between the two, and I think that distinction also runs through the human heart, that we all have a Rousseauian temptation in us. And it’s the job of conservatives to remind people that the Lockean in us needs to win."
Analysis like this (and how he further elaborates the analysis and detects it within a vast array of American history) is why Goldberg’s
Liberal Fascism is, in my view, a minor classic for the ages.]

[The Stillborn God: Two books, oddly yoked together posted by Charles Taylor
Mark Lilla’s The Stillborn God feels like two books, oddly yoked together. One is a fascinating study, which traces a post-Enlightenment tradition of theorizing about religion starting from an anthropocentric focus. Religion is to be understood from the human desire or craving or need for religion. The originator of this way of thinking is Rousseau, but he rapidly acquires followers in Germany: Kant, the German Romantics, Schleiermacher....But then this monograph is woven into a much broader narrative of modernity...The motive for the Great Separation was the religiously inspired violence of the confessional wars of the early modern period. Its great architect for Lilla was Hobbes. The threatened return of political theology today may also weaken our defenses against the eruption of violence, hence the importance of our understanding what is at stake.
SSRC Home SSRC Blogs Blog Home 7:07 PM]

[Sri Aurobindo said it as “Unity without uniformity” which is better described as India’s tolerance to all sorts of culture, nationalities, and communities and how they are united together without loosing their own identity. Due to this, India was prosperous earlier, and it will be the world’s most powerful nation, within a decade . It is destined to be so. So, welcome back again to India … the land of prosperity and peace. Spirituality and materiality. For all the Indians, who have shifted abroad in search of prosperity. In addition, to all the others, who wants to come to India, for search of prosperity. Posted by Joydip Chakladar at 12:29 PM Friday, February 22, 2008]

Savitri Erans, thankfully, have the Sri Aurobindian vision honed in the conflicting and confrontational discourse of the 20th century to guide them into the future, where art, poetry, politics, and philosophy all blend to build an integral and harmonious highway. [TNM]

Friday, February 22, 2008

Calicut has a hand in designing of cannons

[Does studying boat design show us that culture is subject to natural selection?
from by Kambiz Kamrani. The paper, “Natural selection and cultural rates of change,” is open access...The authors rationalize boats are being selected naturally through a quote from the French philosopher Alain,
“Every boat is copied from another boat… Let’s reason as follows in the manner of Darwin. It is clear that a very badly made boat will end up at the bottom after one or two voyages and thus never be copied… One could then say, with complete rigor, that it is the sea herself who fashions the boats, choosing those which function and destroying the others.”]

[It isn't the man who drinks the tea, it's the tea which drinks the man.
It isn't you who smoke the pipe, it's the pipe which smokes you.
It is the book which reads me.
It's the TV which watches you.
It's the object which thinks us.
It's the lens which focuses on us.
It's the effect which cause us.
It's language which speaks us.
It's time which wastes us.
It's money which earns us.
It's death which lies in wait for us. --

[After waiting some days, and finding no friendly steps taken by the governors of Calicut towards a peace; and being likewise without hope of recovering the captives, Suarez resolved to take revenge by cannonading the city of Calicut, which he did for a whole day and a night, during which time he did prodigious damage, destroying the palace of the zamorin, several of their pagodas or idol temples, and many of the houses, and slew a great number of the inhabitants. For this service, he brought seven of his smallest ships as near the shore as possible, and advanced all the boats of the fleet, likewise carrying ordnance, close almost to the beach. A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. II - Robert Kerr]

If "the sea herself fashions the boats," and "it's the tea which drinks the man," then it may be surmised that Calicut has a hand in designing of cannons. [TNM]

Shorts vs. headscarf

[A headscarf affair, a women’s affair? from The Immanent Frame by Nilufer Gole
Women who are proponents of the headscarf distance themselves from secular models of feminist emancipation, but also seek autonomy from male interpretations of Islamic precepts. They represent a rupture of the frame both of secular female self-definitions and religious male prescriptions. They want to have access to secular education, follow new life trajectories that are not in conformity with traditional gender roles, and yet fashion and assert a new pious self. They are searching for ways to become Muslim and modern at the same time, transforming both.
7:21 AM] [Rethinking secularism: A headscarf affair, a women’s affair? posted by Nilüfer Göle
In Turkey, the recent parliamentary vote put an end to the headscarf ban, but not to the public controversy that has severely divided and deeply polarized Turkish society since the post-1980 period. The battle in the public sphere continues among groups with different interpretations of secularism, but also among women themselves. As the most visible symbol of Islamization for the last three decades, the headscarf has been considered a threat to secularism and gender equality, two values that are cherished by those who are devoted to the heritage of Ataturk’s republican modernity.]

[She came to break the conventions and superstitions
ELIMINATING SEX-CONSCIOUSNESS: A dress to fit and be comfortable with
Deccan Herald Sunday, April 25, 2004. The Mother introduced white shorts and shirts with kitty caps way back in 1944, for the girl students who took part in games and athletics. Not merely for convenience, the most potent point was to eliminate sex-consciousness among the young people. To her critic she said that she came to break the conventions and superstitions. But she respected all cultures. She herself learnt wearing kimono in Japan, veil in Algeria and sari in India. One takes from others when the wind of fashion blows, but it is better not to give up one's own cultural treasure altogether. In diversity remains the unity, not necessarily in uniformity.
Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 9:24 AM]

[I find Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s teachings on gender to be far more radical
My soul has rebelled against gender stereotypes since as long as I can remember, even when I was a Hijab-wearing Muslim girl. I often tell people that I find Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s teachings on gender to be far more radical (and certainly more liberating) than even the most radical feminists.
5:43 AM] [Frankly even the term "feminism" seems divisive to me
Re: Simplification and Divine Rights within Gender Roles? ned Thu, June 21, 2007 - 4:02 PM I myself am a student of the Indian philosopher-sage Sri Aurobindo Ghose and the French occultist-mystic Mirra Alfassa -- read their writings for some common sense teachings on gender, i.e. that instead of trying to be a "real man" or a "real woman", we should just focus on being individuals and unique instruments of the Divine. As a woman, I am amazed at times when I see women buying into this "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" nonsense. 5:51 PM]

The Mother's Turkish lineage is an interesting dimension of the headscarf controversy that is raging in that country. Just an instance of how futuristic the appeal of Savitri Era Religion is. [TNM]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Savitri Era Party is the true standard bearer of nationalism and religion

[Has the BJP become pseudo-secular? by Amulya Ganguli from rediff Columns Although there is no indication of a genuine change of heart, what is probably happening is that the BJP is slowly undergoing a process of becoming acclimatised, as it were, to India's diversity. There is little doubt that the process has been accelerated by its stints in power at the Centre and in the states. Earlier, as a marginal party of the Opposition, it was happy to latch on to the one-point agenda of the Ram temple to increase its tally of Lok Sabha seats. But as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance, it has had to broaden its outlook.
Advani's Jinnah misadventure was the first sign that the party was becoming aware of a world outside Hindutva. But even if the Ram temple has been dropped -- there was no mention of it at the last meeting of the party's national executive in Delhi -- it still keeps harping on similar issues, such as the Ram Sethu in the hope of garnering votes.
But the Mumbai disturbances have shown the BJP the pitfalls of sectarianism, for divisive sentiments can easily turn from religion to region to caste to language or whatever may suit a local political buccaneer.
Guest Columns]

[BJP is wise and secular Dina Nath Mishra - The Observer - December 25, 1997 > The BJP is an untouchable party by birth for all its opponents. Former Jana Sangha members and others had to form the BJP after they were practically hounded out of Janata Party by all non-Jana Sangha groups on the question of dual membership, i e their simultaneous association with RSS, a Hindu organisation.]

So much the better if BJP leaves its brand of rabid Hindutva. But then that would be its path to perdition. Savitri Era Party, in any case, is now the true standard bearer of nationalism and religion. [TNM]

Savitri Era, with its Judeo-Vedic hybridity and a modern metaphysics, is the appropriate religion

[What's New in the EU: Citizenship in the European Union Jerusalem Post, Israel - 21 hours ago By ARI SYRQUIN The European Commission last week adopted its fifth report on European Union citizenship... More and more European citizens study, get married, live or work in a member state of which they are not nationals. As of January 1, 2006, there were approximately 8.2 million EU citizens who were exercising their right to reside in another member state.]

[No God But God from Vox Nova by blackadderiv
Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? The answer to the question is controversial. Most Muslims answer yes, following a passage in the Koran that appears to say that both groups do worship the same God. Many Christians, on the other hand, vigorously dispute this claim. Yet it is not clear what exactly [...] Personally I am inclined to think that St. Anselm is right, and that the word “God” is not a name like Jesus or Shiva. To use an admittedly very weird example, if it turned out that Jesus was actually a time traveler who used his advanced technology to perform the miracles depicted in the Gospels, we would not say that there was no Jesus but that Jesus was actually a time traveler. But if it turned out that all of the actions and words attributed to God in the Scriptures were actually the words and actions of this time traveler, we would not say that God was actually a time traveler. We would say that there was no God (or, at least, that it wasn’t really God who did all of these things).
As such, I have no problem with saying that Muslims worship the same God as Christians, or that Hindus worship this same God, or that any group that worships a supreme being worship the same God as do Christians. But I recognize that someone might take a different view on this, and so I cannot say that the “same God” question is as open and shut as I had previously supposed. Thoughts?This entry was posted on February 20, 2008 at 11:33 pm and is filed under
Blackadder, Islam, Philosophy, Theology.]

There are any number of people who are born of parents belonging to different religions, nationalities, and ethnicity. Deciphering the identity and affection of their children and grand-children is still complicated. Globalization is riding roughshod, not only over geographical terrain, but also in the emotional landscape.

Savitri Era, with its Judeo-Vedic hybridity and a modern metaphysics, is the appropriate religion for such a generation. On The Mother’s Birthday, may more and more people be touched by her grace and guardianship. [TNM]

Ceramics, cappuccino, and Social Capital

[The Challenge is to Create, Not Jobs, but Wealth from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
Today I sent this letter to the Washington Times:
Like economic alchemists, Senators Clinton and Obama peddle plans to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on various government projects that will create millions of jobs ("
Obama's economic plan," February 20).
Creating jobs - creating demand for workers - is no challenge. Vandals and arsonists do so routinely. What is a challenge is to create opportunities for workers to earn good incomes while producing real value for others, where value is confidently measured by the amounts that buyers voluntarily pay for what is produced. As far as I know, Sens. Clinton and Obama (and, for that matter, McCain) have never created a business whose success relied upon producing outputs efficiently and then selling these outputs at prices attractive to consumers.
So why suppose that any of their "plans" to create innovative industries and jobs are anything more than the cheap-to-dream-up fantasies of self-important politicians accustomed to spending other people's money?
Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux]
8:14 AM 7:59 AM

[Boudreaux makes what might seem difficult sound easy, and it begins with his definition of globalization: the advance of human cooperation across national boundaries. Boudreaux could have stopped right there, but goes on to explain that every “man-made thing you see is something no one person could possibly make alone.” That being the case, the shirts we wear and the food we eat are the happy result of millions of people around the world engaging in their narrow economic specialties such that we’re clothed and fed.
The above helps the reader to understand the unimaginable poverty that would result from a life of economic isolation. -- A Review of Don Boudreaux's Globalization By John Tamny February 21, 2008 11:23 AM ]

[The division of labor is utterly fundamental to the wealth we enjoy in modern economies. Complicated products, such as the computer on which I am typing this paragraph, are unimaginable without the combined and cumulated efforts of the countless specialists who worked out how to manufacture integrated circuits or how to control a computer using a mouse and a pointer on the screen. Most of those specialists couldn't boil an egg, let alone survive alone on a desert island. They are dependent on other people's expertise, if only the expertise of the cooks at the local Chinese take-out, and computer users the world over are dependent on theirs. Even simple products like the short cappuccino I have beside me would be impossible without the division of labor. Is there anyone in the world who has mastered ceramics, dairy farming and the art of the perfect espresso roast? -- excerpts from Tim Harford's new book, The Logic of Life]

Don Boudreaux, for once, is caught off-guard. Creating a business is the prerogative of a Vaishya temperament, which those run a Kshatriya or Brahmin preponderance may legitimately choose to avoid. They “produce” Social Capital, nevertheless. [TNM] 9:33 AM

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When the lights outside are switched off, may our inner light shine

[We too want a festival, not only for prayer and meditation but also for merrymaking. There is no better date than 29th March, the day when The Mother met Sri Aurobindo. What she wrote on March 30, 1914 constitutes the greatest hope for man:
"Gradually the horizon becomes distinct, the path grows clear, and we move towards a greater and greater certitude. It matters little that there are thousands of beings plunged in the densest ignorance, He whom we saw yesterday is on earth; his presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, and Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth. O Lord, Divine Builder of this marvel, my heart overflows with joy and gratitude when I think of it, and my hope has no bounds. My adoration is beyond all words, my reverence is silent." Page - 124 So, from next year onwards let's celebrate March 29 as the Day of Joy and Hope. [TNM] 8:35 AM Tuesday, December 25, 2007]

[Home » National » Breaking News » World cities embrace Earth Hour February 19, 2008 - 11:45PM On Saturday March 29, at 8pm local time, the lights will go out for one hour in all these cities, as well as Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg, Odense, Manila, Suva, Chicago, Tel Aviv, Toronto and Christchurch...Dublin Lord Mayor Paddy Bourke said in a statement issued by Earth Hour: "This campaign is important and everyone from citizens up to government has a duty to do what they can against global warming.
"It is up to us all to do what we can to reduce our CO2 emissions. Through one simple action, turning off our lights for an hour, we can deliver a powerful message about the need for action."
Earth Hour is an initiative of the global conservation organisation WWF.
"Turning the lights off for Earth Hour is a great first step, but if you really want to see a difference, then make Earth Hour part of your everyday life," the Earth Hour website ( says.
"Simple things like turning off appliances while not in use and switching your light globes to energy efficient bulbs, will all help us reach our goal of reducing our annual emissions by five per cent. "Even something as simple as turning out lights when you're not in a room and switching to cleaner sources of electricity, like green power, make a big difference."]

When the lights outside are switched off, may our inner light shine at the altar of the "Divine Builder." [TNM]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Savitri Era of Unity, Beauty, and Harmony

"One naturally does not expect to find the doctrine of the Upanishads,” claimed Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in his Concept of Man. However, Sri Aurobindo had derived his whole thesis of evolution, as expounded in The Life Divine, from the same Upanishads.

Literary Titans of the Millennium by Achala Moulik includes "the heroes of reawakening India, Gandhi and Tagore," but not Sri Aurobindo. Mukul Kesavan once adorned Sri Aurobindo with the "worst poet" epithet. Now, Prabhu Guptara has blogged that Sri Aurobindo's "turgid Greek classical metre is overpoweringly soporific." [10:19 PM]

The manner our intellectuals pass uncharitable remarks on the versatile genius of Sri Aurobindo is, of course, a matter of disquiet. Sri Aurobindo's Writings, despite the current indifference that it suffers, will ever illumine the path of humanity's quest for Unity, Beauty, and Harmony. [TNM]

So long as we are stuck with human modes of thought, we will ultimately have to accept something on faith

[ like Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Marx takes the position that we do not organise our social life in a specific way because we believe certain things or hold certain ideals, but rather we believe certain things or hold certain ideals, because we organise our social life in a specific way.... we are also “primed” by dimensions of our social practice, in Marx’s argument, to be receptive to notions of a material world governed by universal laws - this priming no doubt tells us something about the timing of the historical emergence of a particular style of scientific enquiry, but it would be a category error to jump from this historical insight, to any immediate judgement on the truth or falsehood of particular scientific claims...Nevertheless, where we can demonstrate...that we might be primed by social practices to experience a form of thought as familiar, we can be conscious that we might find that form of thought persuasive, because it is familiar - as resonating with our existing habits of perception and thought - as being something we “recognise” as salient, without being fully aware of how or why. Fragmentary Ontological Temptations from by N Pepperell]

[After 30 years of listening to the sterile science/religion debate i am utterly bored with the refrain that “my superturtle is better than yours”. To achieve progress, i set out to see how far we can go in describing the deep properties of the physical universe without appealing to anything outside it — such as an unexplained transcendent god or an unexplained set of magicallyimposed mathematical laws. I concede that, so long as we are stuck with human modes of thought, we will ultimately have to accept something on faith, but i see no reason to stop with the laws of physics. After 300 years, the time has come to seek a theory of the laws, to bring the laws of physics within the scope of scientific inquiry. The writer is director of Beyond, a research centre at Arizona State University. -- A matter of faith Paul Davies times of Monday, 18 February, 2008]

[Admittedly, the range within which I acknowledge mental activity as competent and beyond which I reject as superstition, fatuity, extravagance, madness, or mere twaddle, is determined by my own
Michael Polanyi (1962, 318-19)] 7:03 AM 8:08 AM

[Do we, out of an intense desire to see the world the way it should be, deliberately misread the way it is? The recent debate around Raj Thackeray’s pronouncements about north Indian outsiders in Mumbai is centred around the inappropriateness of his remarks and the transparent nature of the political game he is playing in inciting the local Maharashtrian population... The fear that we don’t want to know the truth gets further validated by the kind of media coverage we see on television...The desire to believe in our own ideals about democracy made it very difficult for us to digest Modi’s undeniable popularity. We can see the same story repeated in the deep conviction that a section of society has about the stupidity and regressivenes of the saas-bahu serials; a conviction that has been decisively exposed as being ridiculous by their continued popularity for years now. In fact, more often than not, when major social issues are polled, the results tend to confound our cosy assumptions about what people want. Because something is incomprehensible and offensive to one section, because it militates against a particular worldview, it is deemed to be an aberration. We then look for ways to deny the significance of that occurrence, hiding behind all possible ways of interpreting information that justifies our worldview. This wilful blindness is an effort to keep the illusion of stability and order intact. It is also an imposition of one point of view on the rest of us. At the heart of the problem lies a fundamental contradiction about democracy. It depends on the wisdom of people but can in no way guarantee it. If the country were to be run on the basis of opinion polls, chances are that India would be a very different kind of place. Conditioned as we are to blindly trumpet the power of democracy, we get stumped when we see it turn upon ideals we hold dear. We try and deal with this by denying what we see. We argue with reality, we try and browbeat it into some kind of submission. But reality festers in the shadow of neglect and it is only a matter of time till we are forced to acknowledge it. The real question is, do we really want to know the truth? CITY CITY BANG BANG What we don’t want to know SANTOSH DESAI times of Monday, 18 February, 2008]

The Savitri Era worldview, with its presupposition of the Divine (not, God), avoids many epistemological errors and the ensuing ontological nightmares. "The real question is, do we really want to know the truth?" [TNM]