Monday, March 31, 2008

A collective effort to return humankind to the dark ages

[Japan’s Second Defeat after the Second World War by RY Deshpande on Sat 29 Mar 2008 09:06 PM PDT Permanent Link America, after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, invaded Japan in another way. It looks as though the evil found another soil to grow and flourish in a vigorous manner...Today no doubt Japan operates in a masterly way the American gears of financial prosperity; but her national Shakti has suffered a setback. She is inflicted with the culture of information technology supported by the mighty steelwork of industry and driven by the power of petrochemical machinery. She knows not for what purpose... But today the bullet trains speed cravingly for the nothing and the soul of Japan has no leisure and all material prosperity has brought impoverishment to its insolvent spirit. Japan has lost the protection that comes as a gift of nature to her from her Sakura, the cherry blossoms.
[
The present article forms a chapter of my yet unpublished book Big Science and its Impact on Society.] Science, Culture and Integral Yoga]
RY Deshpande perhaps has thought it fit to post this essay coinciding with the Earth Hour 2008, but the whole inspiration to paint such a dismal picture of Japan appears to be on the side of the diabolical. Don Boudreaux has dashed off a befitting reply to such anti-development mentality:

You and members of your organization worry that industrialization and economic growth are harming the earth's environment. I worry that the intensifying hysteria about the state of the environment - and that the resulting hostility to economic growth - might harm humankind's prospects for comfortable, healthy, enjoyable, and long lives. So I commend you on your "Earth Hour" effort. Persuading people across the globe to turn off lights for one hour will supply the perfect symbol for modern environmentalism: a collective effort to return humankind to the dark ages.

It will be nice, therefore, if RYD decides to drop this chapter infested with indiscriminate cherry picking from his unpublished book. [TNM] 10:27 AM

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Privileging of the multiplicity is just another totalizing construct as hegemonistic as its opposite

[One can only be wholly disappointed that the opportunity has been missed by so called integral /theories/methods Re: At the ends of Man: Sri Aurobindo and Michel Foucault by Rich on Sat 29 Mar 2008 09:21 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link] 11:05 AM

Rich is suspicious of “totalizing ideological structures” and hence welcomes “other authentic traditions” as “Much can be gained from the(m).” But this privileging of the multiplicity is just another totalizing construct as hegemonistic as its opposite. [TNM]

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Life Divine commenced on July 18, 1912.

Between 1902 and 1914, Sri Aurobindo wrote several commentaries on the Isha Upanishad which, though incomplete and unrevised, have been compiled under 10 different captions in the Volume 17 of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo. 3 of these pieces were explicitly titled as “The Life Divine” and Sri Aurobindo has left a noting in The Record of Yoga that “the Life Divine commenced” on July 18, 1912.

While this constitutes the Stage I, the publication of 54 essays in the Arya from August 1914 to January 1919 can be called the Stage II. The final Stage emerges 20 years later when during 1939-40 the book is published for the first time in 3 separate volumes incorporating extensive additions and alterations. The transition of The Life Divine to this final shape and the transformation that it undergoes in the hands of Sri Aurobindo is a fascinating story replete with far-reaching significances. [TNM]

Mauss vs. Mises

[Well, first he should read Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, paying special attention to the chapter "Why the Worst Get on Top" - in a socialist system based on coercion, corruption and patronage. If this convinces him that socialism is evil, he should quit - to save his soul. Two or three generations of Indians have sent their best and brightest to the Indian civil services. If the State is to be at the 'commanding heights', obviously it will need the best and the brightest, it was thought - especially by the parents of these idealistic youngsters. They were all sacrificed at the altar of the State - a metaphysical concept that really has nothing to do with 'civil government' - which is what a 'civil service' is paid to provide...There is also Ludwig von Mises' Bureaucracy, republished in India by Liberty Institute. The crux of Mises' argument is this: Society benefits if almost everything is left for 'management by profit'. Very little can actually be accomplished by 'bureaucratic management' - like the police or the tax bureaus. Societies which keep this distinction in mind succeed, while those who extend bureaucratic management to vast reaches of economic activity lose heavily... Looking Up the Ladder... and Jumping Off from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik]

There is no example in history where successful societies have run in line with Friedrich Hayek’s or Ludwig von Mises' proposals. So, these suggestions are no more than mere conjectures where only the rosy side is highlighted by camouflaging the dismal. The State, as stated, is not a metaphysical concept but a functional structure constituted of human beings. Blaming the State or the Bureaucracy amounts to blaming a set of human beings, who simply behave naturally as the system demands of them.

Thus, retrieving the situation would entail resorting to normative prescriptions as foreseen by Adam Smith or Marcel Mauss than mechanically relying upon pure economic logics. [TNM] 5:55 PM 6:01 PM 7:43 AM

Sri Aurobindo is indeed a very interesting thinker

from Craig Calhoun Calhoun@ssrc.org to tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com cc Jonathan VanAntwerpen vanantwerpen@ssrc.org date 29 Mar 2008 07:55 subject Re: A Secular Age, featuring Charles Taylor and Michael Warner

Dear Mr Mohapatra

Thanks for your message. You are right that the Immanent Frame is more focused on Western Christianity. This reflects partly how it started in relation to Charles Taylor's book. But I hope - and I am sure Jonathan VanAntwepen agrees - that it will grow with more contributions from other orientations.

And of course Sri Aurobindo is indeed a very interesting thinker to consider in that regard. I am copying Jonathan so he has your message.

With all best wishes,
Craig Calhoun [3:55 AM]

The ontology of The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo is a more modern alternative

from "Tusar N. Mohapatra" tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com to religion@ssrc.org cc calhoun@ssrc.org date 29 Mar 2008 03:53 subject Re: A Secular Age, featuring Charles Taylor and Michael Warner

Dear Prof. Calhoun,

Thanks for the intimation of "a public dialogue with Charles Taylor." SSRC/ Immanent Frame is doing great work in the field of disabusing antipathy toward religion among the educated. However, I take this occasion to seek certain clarifications/ comments, and hope that these feature in your forthcoming dialogue.

The discourse over Immanent Frame largely veers round a Western/ Christian worldview that operates within an almost homogeneous socio-economic-political system. The ontological basis of the Christian theology often undergirds the discussions regarding secular/ religious polarities. This is natural, considering the background and location of the contributors, but it obviously produces a lopsided contour.

In this sense, the ontology of The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo is a more modern alternative, where not only the pre-eminence of the agency is more pronounced, but also, a harmonization of the political with the religious has been envisaged. This has, significantly, been posited as an evolutionary inevitability to be achieved progressively with conscious participation. Such an ontology displaces the gratuitous attitude of reinstalling religion in the society/ polity, and advocates, instead, an organic endeavor for embodiment of perfection in the individual, thus engendering the life divine in the collectivity.

The right ontological formulation, therefore, can help in narrowing down the theoretical contradictions that galore the debates.

Thanking you,
Tusar N. Mohapatra

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sri Aurobindo has a distinct style of writing, just like Spinoza has his own, or Jaspers, for that matter

[Re: The Intermediate Zone? by innerhike on Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:26 pm
Sarasvati, Greetings! I have only briefly looked at your original posting at the beginning of this thread and then I glanced very quickly through Aurobindo's words that you shared with us. First off, I deeply respect Aurobindo. But years ago in the brief interactions I have had with people who read/discuss Aurobindo, I realized that they have a lot to say about nothing at all. So this put me off Aurobindo a bit. Aurobindo was schooled in England many decades ago, perhaps even a century ago, and so his manner of writing/communicating reflects a very old-school, fomal approach. Regardless of my take on him, in India and abroad spiritual seekers hold him in very deep respect. I see him as one of the teachers who has been accorded the status of a "great one" by many seekers of great depth and integrity to where he is now deeply established in the pop culture of spirituality in India and abroad.]

Sri Aurobindo has a distinct style of writing, just like Spinoza has his own, or Jaspers, for that matter. Thus, it is absurd to question the writing-style of a thinker, and instead one should train himself to have access to the thought. Avoiding the New Age books, and reading the works of philosophers will help in this endeavor. Philosophy is for everyman. [TNM]

The Life Divine possesses a central position in this momentous adventure

[I cannot end this chapter without noting how the whole Ashram was vitally interested in India's fight for freedom, though we are supposed erroneously to be absorbed only in our own spiritual liberation. When the news of the final victory came, we celebrated it as much as the people outside, particularly because it coincided with Sri Aurobindo's birthday. He was requested to give a message on this great occasion. I am reproducing at the end of this chapter the whole message called "Five Dreams".
"It was on this occasion that for the first time the Mother hoisted her flag over the terrace of Sri Aurobindo's room. The Mother called it the spiritual flag of India.
In the afternoon she appeared on her terrace when the members of the Ashram greeted her by singing Bande Mataram after which she called out, 'Jai Hind!' with such a look and gesture that we still remember the moment. The evening programme included the electric illumination of the courtyard inside the Ashram compound."¹...

When one reads Sri Aurobindo's message one will not fail to note how much importance he has given to the role India alone can play in bringing about the unity of the whole of mankind. I do not know of any other great leader of India and worker for her future destiny who spoke in such glowing terms as we find in these "Dreams".
The Mother has emphasised the fact that this message should be distributed all over India, read and re-read by the people, for it contains the solution of all the problems the world is facing today. Page – 164 Location:
Home > E-Library > Works Of Disciples > Nirodbaran > Twelve Years With Sri Aurobindo > War And Politics]

India's role in bringing about the unity of the whole of mankind assumes pressing urgency at the moment. The Life Divine possesses a central position in this momentous adventure. Universities and academicians must recognize this imperative and take side accordingly. Sisir Kumar Maitra has put it so prophetically:

“The message of the book is exactly what the world needs today. It is the most thought-provoking and thought-shaking book that has appeared in this century. As it is studied more and more, more people will come under the influence of its vitalizing thought, and it will cause a slow and silent revolution in thought which will be extremely radical and far-reaching in its effects.” JSTOR: East and West in Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy

Considered the most difficult among the writings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine encounters enormous resistance. The political stance of many academicians poses huge hurdles in the path of its reception. Surmounting such obstacles is not a small challenge and necessitates a multi-pronged offensive. Savitri Erans must gird up their loins. [TNM]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It is safer to read the original works of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo

To know about The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, many Westerners prefer to pick up books authored by Satprem, Peter Heehs, Georges Van Vrekhem, Joseph Vrinte, or Ken Wilber et al. But it is a flawed choice, as their works - in earnest tones - tend to prejudice the reader in a particular way. It is much safer, therefore, that one initially reads the originals, and then study other writers with a critical eye. [TNM]

Re-inventing the elephant

[Democracy's finest hour from Faith and Theology by Ben Myers
Here in my home state of Queensland, a mayor
has been elected by having his name drawn out of a hat. I think this is a major step forwards for democratic procedure, and I hope the Democrats in the US will have the good sense to adopt the same method (tossing a coin is also acceptable).]

People in India, in olden days, used to rely on the wisdom of an elephant to elect the future king by pouring water from a pitcher it carried, upon whomsoever it intuited suitable. Now, Queensland has attested that there is hardly any difference between the ballot box and a raffle. [TNM]

The India of the future will be a voluntary association of States

[Political Inquiry from Indistinct Union by cjsmith
In a recent
comment back and forth Matthew and I had, Matthew wrote:
The very impulse to have a federal-gov’t-level response to social issues such as education, health care, and more bespeaks his fundamental liberal/progressive disposition. Contrast this with the fundamental conservative/libertarian disposition, which would have those issues settled by civil society and the states…]

[What can India do to promote solutions to the intractable problems on its borders? Home > Edits & Columns > COLUMN Soften these borders C Raja Mohan
Posted online: Thursday, March 27, 2008 Peoples of South Asia’s frontier regions should interact with their cultural kin across boundaries

For one, it must stand firm in its principled opposition to the break-up of the existing states. It is the fear of disintegration that has driven the Chinese communists and Burmese generals to cracking down so hard ons the recent political protests.
Two, while ruling out the creation of new states, India must encourage its neighbours — Myanmar, China, Nepal and Pakistan — to move steadily towards granting genuine autonomy to ethnic minorities. India’s relative success in managing diversity and mitigating the many insurgencies it had to confront is rooted in its federalism. The Tibetan revolt has underlined the reality that no amount of economic growth can overcome the minorities’ quest for cultural autonomy and political dignity.
Three, India must also encourage its neighbours to think about softening the existing borders. The peoples of the Subcontinent’s frontier regions have suffered greatly from the rigid territorial conceptions of the nationalists. They badly need the freedom to interact with their ethnic and cultural kin across the national boundaries.
Together, these principles — legitimisation of existing borders, significant autonomy, soft borders and cross-border institutions — are at the core of India’s strategy to settle its own extended dispute with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir.
The same principles should help guide our neighbours in addressing the political aspirations of the minorities in Myanmar, the Tibetans, the Uighurs of Xinjiang, the Pashtuns across the Durand Line, the Baloch, and the Madhesis in Nepal. The writer is a professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University,
Singaporeiscrmohan@ntu.edu.sg]

C Raja Mohan hastens to bite off more than he can chew by proposing a mélange of measures exposing his double standards. He prohibits creation of new states in India but wants her neighbours to grant autonomy to ethnic minorities.

Rather, time is ripe for the fruition of Hiranmay Kerlekar’s prediction, “Let Hundred States bloom.” The India of the future will be a voluntary association of such States encompassing territories that are lying far away from the present national borders. M&As amongst these States must happen organically upon common agreement. [TNM] The logical extension perhaps is to free the 'national' borders

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The logical extension perhaps is to free the 'national' borders

[8.5 percent growth: 100 percent bullshit from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik... To a classical liberal, it is only when each individual economic agent, responsible for his own okonomos, is completely liberated under law, freed from all government imposed restraints, that each little okonomos will grow - and take the nation upwards along with it. So if unilateral free trade was instituted, the customs department abolished, if taxes were cut and the bureaucracy greatly downsized, and all economic restrictions removed, the 'national economy' would grow at such stupendous rates that no statistician would even be able to measure it...

John Cowptherwaite, the colonial civil servant sent to run Hong Kong in the 40s, achieved a huge economic turnaround for this little island without any statistical bureau advising him. He believed that such statistics were mischievous, and would be misused by socialists someday. So he deliberately axed all plans to set up a government statistical bureau in Hong Kong. When he arrived, Hong Kong was covered with the shanties and slums of poor migrants. When he left in the 70s, Hong Kong had been transformed into an island of gleaming towers, with a per capita ownership of Rolls-Royce cars higher than that of its colonial master, Great Britain.For more on this great civil servant, read my tribute to Sir John here.]

The logical extension perhaps is to free the 'national' borders so that any one can come in (to trade, and possibly, vote) and any one can go out. All currencies will be welcome, from the chaos of which would emerge a world currency and a world language, depending upon users’ preference! [TNM]

Savitri Era Religion has nothing to do with the Hindu or any other Religion

[Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006)
by rakesh on Sat 22 Mar 2008 10:42 PM PDT
Profile Permanent Link
It is also true that all the true spiritual seekers in Hinduism have thought of religion in the same way. A yogi cannot be attached to any religion, creed or cult. The Gita clearly states so. Does it mean that since the Veda or the Gita said so one is following Hinduism? No, it only means that these scriptures stated the truth and following the truth would lead the soul to realise higher potentialities. That does not mean that all religions have no truth in them. Whatever practises are suitable and pave a path for the realisation of the spiritual truth behind appearances can be followed without hinderance. Attachment to any scripture and declaring it as the ultimate realisation possible is also an obstacle to inner growth. The truth in infinite and no scripture can limit it and only a human can realise it. All this Hindu nationalism without any true spiritual practise or understanding of other peoples of the world and claiming to be superior race is another form of falsehood. Not many practise the real Hinduism or its essense. How can one be proud of ones religion or nation when one does not know its essense or practise it in life? Our outer life is also a mirror to our inner progress. Corruption and other derogatory practises show that we do not practise what our scriptures want us to do. It is a shame to even say that we are hindus. With the money pouring into india it would be hard to convince people of spiritual resurgence. They can only associate everything good for india as nationalism.]

[Re: Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006)
by ronjon on Tue 25 Mar 2008 03:33 PM PDT
Profile Permanent Link
What a fascinating article. Thanks for posting this Rich! ]

Non-Hindu devotees of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo are apparently happy at this bold disengagement from the Hindu Religion that will go down as a cardinal authoritative piece of doctrine. Savitri Era Religion, to set the record straight, has nothing to do with the Hindu Religion or for that matter any other Religion, past or present. [TNM]

Keep in mind the alternate “history” that would have taken place during these five years

[Guernica and/or Iraq by Rich on Tue 25 Mar 2008 04:54 PM PDT Permanent Link
On the fifth anniversary week of the Iraq war what can one say? Hundreds of thousands dead, millions of refugees, a nation in civil war, and no real end in sight. A war that even former head of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan concedes was fought over oil. One can only turn to images and here is Picasso whose depiction of the slaughter at Guernica Spain as a result of German bombing, is considered one of his most important paintings. I will post a link to U tube video by the same title which unfortunately subjects Guernica to the eternal return of the same. Here is a bit of History
The German bombers appeared in the skies over Guernica in the late afternoon of April 26, 1937 and immediately transformed the sleepy Spanish market town into an everlasting symbol of the atrocity of war. Unbeknownst to the residents of Guernica, they had been slated by their attackers to become guinea pigs in an experiment designed to determine just what it would take to bomb a city into oblivion.
Hitler's support of Franco consisted of the Condor Legion, an adjunct of the Luftwaffe. The Condor Legion provided the Luftwaffe the opportunity to develop and perfect tactics of aerial warfare that would fuel Germany's blitzkrieg through Europe during 1939 and 1940. As German air chief Hermann Goering testified at his trial after World War II: "The Spanish Civil War gave me an opportunity to put my young air force to the test, and a means for my men to gain experience." Some of these experimental tactics were tested on that bright Spring day with devastating results - the town of Guernica was entirely destroyed with a loss of life estimated at 1,650. The world was shocked and the tragedy immortalized by Pablo Picasso in his painting Guernica.]

Hitler is a sensitive name for the Savitri Erans, but the way Rich has attempted to liminally link it to the Iraq war in this intriguing post at SCIY warrants resistance. Living even in an Ashram, Sri Aurobindo was able to maintain his discreet preference for differing from any doctrine of blanket non-violence of the Gandhian kind. The detractors of President Bush must keep in mind the alternate “history” that would have taken place during these five years had he not intervened. A fair appraisal can emerge from that comparison. [TNM]

Sri Aurobindian ontology is unputdownable

[Jean-Luc Nancy has undertaken to do a kind of post-Heideggerian ontology over the past couple decades, though I’m not sure he’s really “taking off” among Americans; there may also be someone in the analytic camp pursuing something along these lines, though I’ve not heard of it.
The shame here, though, is that during the prewar period, there was a real flowering of ontologies of the exact kind that I advocate — perhaps the biggest names there are Henri Bergson, Alfred North Whitehead, and William James. In each case, there is a recognition that the mechanical determinism (largely unconsciously) assumed by scientists is not adequately accounting to experience, and so the attempt is made to develop a more inclusive and realistic ontology.
Then in the postwar period, the whole thing apparently just shuts down in America, in both the analytic and continental traditions — the latter of which also spread to many other disciplines in the humanities where ontological reflection may have found a place. Certain contemporary developments — the rediscovery of Deleuze as a “real philospher,” the surprising prominence of Badiou in certain American circles, the aforementioned work of Nancy, Zizek’s more recent work — point toward the potential for a renewed interest in a truly contemporary ontology. The shame, however, is that in so many ways we in America at least have to reinvent the wheel because the prewar developments wound up getting prematurely cut off in our context. --
Futher Thoughts on Ontology from An und für sich by Adam]

Adam is aware of The Life Divine, but has chosen to exclude Sri Aurobindo from his list of the biggest names in real ontology: Bergson, Whitehead, and William James. This is unfair, illogical, and against the best interests of academics. [TNM]

Firm injunction on the wall against consuming liquor

[When we go back to the guest house early to beat the closing time for the front gate (as I said, there are lots of rules), my wife is worried I am smelling of all that I have had to drink and insists on herself fetching the room key from the front desk. As I re-read the firm injunction on the wall against consuming liquor and other abuses, I wonder if I am not an interloper. My consolation is that Sri Arobindo’s teaching does not prescribe specific forms and mantras but asks that you aspire to a higher consciousness as a personal journey.
The meeting of east and west is a terrible cliché, but in Pondicherry by the sea, between the worlds of the ashram and the dining out, there is a harmony, as there is between the sound of the breakers and the motor boats as they go out to fish at the break of dawn.
subir.roy@bsmail.in Subir Roy: Pondicherry has two sides to it
OFFBEAT Subir Roy / Bangalore March 26, 2008]

Apart from religion and politics, the tourism potentials of Puducherry and Auroville, if leveraged efficiently, can generate sizeable followers of the teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. [TNM]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What Heehs is referring to as religion here is the Mimamsa aspect

[Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006) by Rich on Sat 22 Mar 2008 11:40 AM PDT Permanent Link Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism
I am not, and never have been a religious person... If I ever stepped into a church (or synagogue or mosque or temple) it was to admire the architecture and artworks, and perhaps also to enjoy the atmosphere of peace that sometimes fills such places. But I found the beliefs and practices of every religion I encountered to be pointless and uninteresting. The search for truth was important to me; but it never crossed my mind that religion could be any help in this. Rather I turned to poetry, philosophy and psychological experimentation in my search for enlightenment. These interests led me to yoga and, because yoga usually is taught by people who come from the Hindu tradition, I was exposed to the literature and some of the practices of the Hindu religion. I found, and still find, the literature profound and significant. As for the practices, I found them colourful and charming, though certainly not the sort of thing I could incorporate into my life.
Now you may well ask, why should I, a non-Hindu, choose to speak about Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism? It may be true, as Dr. Mohanty has noted in his introduction, that I am a writer, a historian, and a member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram; but if I am not a practicing Hindu, is it really possible for me to understand the complex amalgam of thought, feeling and practice that makes up the religious system that we call Hinduism? And if not, is it really possible for me to reach an accurate assessment of Sri Aurobindo's relationship to this religion? I will be the first to admit that there is much about Hinduism that I do not understand.]

What Heehs is referring to as religion here is the Mimamsa aspect; the Karma, or daily rituals which need to be performed cheerfully (and often unmindfully while attention grazes over more profitable options). Obviously, not much is expected in return from this routine. In a capsule form confined to a short period, it becomes an intensive and rigorous affair with commensurate results. That is Tantra.

A more reasonable practice that demands mindfulness and tenacity (of a baby monkey), but shorn of the rituals, is termed Tapasya. Yoga, in contrast, is performing various actions in a spirit of quiet surrender (as a baby cat), thus transforming life and priorities on a progressive basis. [TNM]

Savitri Era Religion can save from self-delusion

[As I never tire of saying, politics is not about public service, but about power; most politicians enter politics not to change the world but to rule over as big a part of it as they can; they will do whatever it takes to get power, for otherwise they wouldn’t have entered politics; and as we are a species hardwired by evolution for self-delusion, it is natural, after a point, for us to start believing in the lies we are living. -- A Machine For The Production Of Politics from The India Uncut Blog by Amit Varma]

As recent entrants, we may add (and confess) that politics is meant basically to publicize our religion, i.e., Savitri Era Religion. In this sense, it would rank as public service; for Religion is part of the genealogy of public reason itself which can save us from self-delusion. [TNM]

Competition, co-operation, and cartels

[Khattar's multibrand auto service venture to begin in 2009 Economic Times, India - 22 Mar 2008
NEW DELHI: Former Managing Director of the country's biggest carmaker Maruti
Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), who plans to set up multibrand automobile service stations across the country, will kick start operations by next year... He said the idea behind his pet project was to provide ultimate servicing experience to consumers and convenience to those who own a set of 2-3 cars, all from different companies.]

When The Times of India and Hindustan Times launched their joint venture tabloid, Metro Now, it marked the end of a long battle of wits, and dawning of the realization that besides competition, co-operation also augurs well for commerce. Harnessing of ATMs for multiple banks, or Khattar's multibrand auto service are analogous trends the future of which is hard to anticipate, but undesirable cartels emerging out of such cohabitation is a big fear. Networking amongst MNCs affecting geo-politics is also a potential danger. [TNM]

It has been like running a three-legged race, these sixty years

[But the RJD, the DMK and the NCP are evidently so obsessed with their provincial spheres of interest that they do not seem to care, and perhaps not even fully understand, if India will suffer as a result. Arguably, they may not be overtly anti-national... But the limited vision of the regional parties seems to have made them unaware of the national and international implications of the deal, which enables India to join the nuclear haves in spite of having not only stayed out of the NPT, but even defied it by conducting nuclear tests... Yet, this achievement is apparently not something that the RJD or the DMK or the NCP can appreciate because they are unable to see beyond the borders of the states where they have some kind of a base. It is indeed for this reason that parties such as these cannot be trusted with major portfolios like external affairs or finance. It is easy to imagine the confusion which the DMK — or the AIADMK — will cause because of its empathy (or antipathy) for the LTTE if it had to deal with foreign issues. Similarly, imagine the chaos which the Left will let loose if it was put in charge of finance. Not surprisingly, the leaders of coalitions like the Congress and the BJP have preferred to keep these sensitive ministries in their own hands. The others have also quietly accepted this denial, which in effect, is a snub of sorts since it indicates that they are not mature enough to handle such adult matters. But it is the nuclear deal that has refocused attention on their immaturity, which, in turn, underlines their unsuitability to be in power at the national level. -- LEADER ARTICLE: Some Things Don't Change TOI 25 Mar 2008, AMULYA GANGULI]

The problem stems from the fact that instead of adopting a truly federal structure as in USA, we opted for an ambivalent system for such a large and diverse sub-continent like India, mirroring UK, a tiny island. Consequently, the Centre and the States have always been at loggerheads, and it has been like running a three-legged race, these sixty years. The model that we should ape at present, therefore, is that of the EU, in line with Sri Aurobindo's proposition of a free association of free nationalities. [TNM]

Monday, March 24, 2008

The 5th Pay Commission inaugurated the consumerist revolution in India

[Monkeys Deserve Peanuts from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik
The recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission are making the news now... Of course, my arguments were correct. The 5th Pay Commission bankrupted the State and public services did not improve at all. This scenario will be repeated again.]

It is surprising that many economists have denounced the 5th Pay Commission awards (although, they seem to be comfortable with NREGS). Whether or not it improved the functioning of the bureaucracy, it managed to put substantial disposable income in the hands of a large number of people constituting the middle class, thus inaugurating the consumerist revolution in India. It would be unwise to overlook this piece of milestone in the recent economic history of India. The 6th Pay Commission recommendations, therefore, should be supported on the same grounds as Kaushik Basu [Stray notes in the Budget symphony HT March 01, 2008 1:26 PM ] regards the loan waiver for farmers as a kind of negative income tax. [TNM]

The Mother meddles

[How Dare She (by Don Boudreaux) from Cafe Hayek ... That role was performed remarkably well and lovingly by the persons who had responsibility for it: my father and late mother. I, like any self-respecting adult, resent beyond words the impertinence of any stranger presuming to possess the moral authority to intrude into my affairs.
To my own dying day, I will live by the creed instilled in me by my parents: My life is my own, and just as I have no right (or wish) to meddle in the affairs of others, no one - regardless of how exalted her status or how large her electoral majority - has the right to meddle in mine.
Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux]

[If economists abandon large swathes of territory on what are regarded as distant and unrewarding frontiers of our discipline, we ought not to be surprised if they become peopled by migrants from other disciplines, who bring not just their energies but also their insights, and a willingness to incorporate into their own frontiers what economists neglect and leave fallow. -- Economists Require Help in Understanding the Evolution of Value
from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy]

We, Savitri Erans, so lovingly allow The Mother to intrude into our affairs and meddle in it. [TNM]

As we are a continuous civilization, the “gatherer” mentality prevails

[What went wrong with the economy? from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen
On Wednesday David Leonhardt
posed the question, here is part of my answer: Starting in the 1920s, Ludwig von Mises, the leader of the so-called Austrian School of Economics, charged that socialism was unable to engage in rational economic calculation. Without market prices, he reasoned, no one knows how much economic resources are worth.
The subsequent poor performance of planned economies bore out his point...The irony is that the supercharged capital markets of the American economy are now — at least temporarily — in a somewhat comparable position. Starting in August, many asset markets lost their liquidity, as trading in many kinds of junk bonds, mortgage-backed securities and auction-rate securities has virtually vanished.
Market prices have been drained of their informational value and thus don’t much reflect the “wisdom of crowds,” as they would under normal circumstances. Investors are instead flocking to the safest of assets, like Treasury bills. The absence of trading is a big problem.]
Considering the size of the market in India the “wisdom of crowds” turns out to be the “wisdom of a coterie,” and consequently, the “market prices” are as skewed as in a socialist economy. Temperamental reasons forbid vast sections of the population from trading, and such socio-cultural factors apply substantial pressure on the commercial growth. As we are a continuous civilization, the “gatherer” mentality prevails instead of the “hunter's” attitude (to make a killing) obtaining in societies formed largely of migrant population. [TNM]

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Savitri Era Political Action seeks change of consciousness

[LIBERALISM VERSUS THE REST from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik
The process we call democracy in India is riddled with coercion. Anyone who runs a political party holds vast powers over all members; a political party is a power hierarchy based on 'hegemonic relationships'. (Business hierarchies are 'contractual'.) When politicians vote within democratic assemblies, each member must respect the orders of his 'party whip'. The very term reeks of coercion. Then there is the Party High Command (or Politburo). Theirs is the 'vote motive'. Or is it 'rent motive'? Compared to these motives, the 'profit motive' is innocent: shubh laabh... It is because of this very reason that Roberto Michels propounded his Iron Law of Oligarchy way back in 1915: "Hierarchical political parties can never yield a classless, socialist society," he wrote. "Where the instrument is hierarchical, how can classlessness result?"; adding, most accurately, "socialism will fail at the moment of its adherents' triumph." ...

The politics of Thackerayism, Moditva, Buddhadevism, Lalooism, and Nehruvianism are all 'legitimate': all these recognized, hierarchical political parties swear by 'socialism', as defined not only in the Constitution of India, but in their party constitutions as well. But the reality of hegemonic power relations within each party hierarchy should wake us up to the fact that the way we are headed is not the classlessness of socialism, but something purely diabolical instead. It is politics without principle, based on coercion. It is aimed at taking control of the dysfunctional State – which provides access to further coercion, through legislation, through taxation, and through manipulation of the police and the administration. Never will we attain the ideal of Socialist Equality if we continue with this socialist democracy. It will always be arbitrary coercion. Oligarchies will rule. Chaos will follow.

In vivid contrast, Liberalism begins not with coercion, but with voluntary co-operation in markets: the natural order of natural liberty. Voluntary exchanges in the market order must be free, we believe. We therefore oppose legislation on 'victimless crimes' like gambling, prostitution, and ganja peddling. To us, coercion is an actionable tort, and a very grave matter indeed. We dream of a coercion-free natural order. That is why our ideal State is but a provider of Justice, whose only role in a free society is to act against those who disrupt the market order with their unjust actions. Nothing else. This is Liberty under Law. It yields Freedom and Property, not Equality. To liberals, socialist ideas of Equality are a dangerous deception. The highest political values of liberalism are Freedom and Justice. Yet, we are barred from political participation while Raj Thackeray is legit. "Fair is foul and foul is fair," as Macbeth's witch put it...

To conclude: There is hope for liberalism as compared with all other political ideologies only because we do not require coercion for the fulfillment of our political ideals. Since all other political creeds require coercion, they are foredoomed to failure because there is an limit beyond which none will submit to authority. For this crucial reason, based on an appreciation of the limits to coercion as well as a principled understanding of the legitimate use of coercive powers, liberalism is destined to prevail over all competing political visions. It is only a matter of Time.]

[So political parties are endemic to democracy, but they are not part of the fundamental definition of democracy, nor do they find a role dictated for themselves in the constitutions of most democracies. Edmund Burke defines a political party as
“...a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed”.
There is nothing in this definition that suggests that political parties are inherently democratic or must function in a way that leads to democratic ends... While political parties are characteristic of modern democracy and the inevitable expressions of its consolidation and development, they do not have to be causally connected to democracy. -- analysis:
Political parties and democracy — Mariam Mufti Daily Times Monday, February 11, 2008 6:08 PM]

[If Ezra Klein were Tyler Cowen from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen
A very good post... I tend to think that politicians are irrational actors trying to pander to irrational voters and that it can't be any other way. I am much less optimistic about democracy as an instrument for fine-tuning good policy or for that matter as a medium for enforcing progressive sentiments. 9:21 AM]

Examining isms also warrants being inquisitive about the human beings who represent them. Unless human nature changes, it is futile to expect that an ideal society will roll out just through free trade. The politician takes more risks with his life and is rewarded in consonance. His followers voluntarily support him in exchange of security and benefits. [TNM]

It is difficult to look at Sri Aurobindo’s life merely as a linear progression

[I speak as a historian: one who uses documentary and other evidence to reconstruct the past in order to understand the present better. A historian generally begins with a problem: an event or line of development that has not been sufficiently studied or is commonly misunderstood. Sri Aurobindo's relationship to Hinduism is such a problem. Quite a lot has been said and written about the subject; much of this, in my opinion, is inadequate and one-sided. It is generally taken for granted that Sri Aurobindo was a outstanding representative of the Hindu tradition, and a leader of the Hindu revival movement. Many people depict him as a devout, even an orthodox Hindu. Some go further and make him the object of Hindu forms of worship, a modern Hindu deity. Others, more interested in politics than religion, present him as a characteristically Hindu politician, to be praised or condemned (depending on one's political leanings) for building up, or breaking down, the integrity of the Indian nation. As a historian and as a practitioner of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, I find all this unwarranted. But as a scholar I can't just reject these representations. I must return to the textual and biographical evidence, see what light this material casts on the subject, and arrive at my own documented conclusions.
Since I speak to you as a historian, I will present my findings chronologically. What was Sri Aurobindo's relationship to Hinduism during different periods of his life? As most of you know, he was not brought up as a Hindu. His father, who was an Anglophile and (as Sri Aurobindo once said) "a tremendous atheist",iii took care to shield his sons from all aspects of traditional Indian life...By the time he reached adulthood, Sri Aurobindo had become disgusted by "the hideous story of persecution staining mediaeval Christianity" and repelled by "the narrowness and intolerance even of its later developments". For a while he considered himself an atheist; later he "accepted the Agnostic attitude."v
Thus we see that during the first twenty-one years of his life, Sri Aurobindo had no religion at all. Nor can he be said to have been a religious person during the first seven or eight years of his stay in Baroda. -- Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism (a speech by Peter Heehs: Hyderabad 2006) by
Rich on Sat 22 Mar 2008 11:40 AM PDT Permanent Link Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism]

Evidently, Heehs does not have any Archimedean point as a historian nor can he claim to have transcended the barrier of Sri Aurobindo's injunctions against biographers. But his pretensions to objectivity get vitiated due to liberal doses of presumption and resentment that he has chosen to intersperse the speech with. Thus, it is as much difficult to accept the speech as pure history as to look at Sri Aurobindo’s life merely as a linear progression. [TNM]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Savitri Era Party aims at The Life Divine

[Columns by Sauvik Chakraverti Antidote: A politics to end politics
Politics as a means to using government action should be resorted to in only exceptional cases. There should be a list of what the government must do, and also a list of what it must not do — with no discretion whatsoever for the politician. We in India need to embark upon ‘a politics to end politics’. ] 9:58 AM

[In a truly liberal order, it is unthinkable that every party must swear by the welfare state. But the situation in India is far worse, and there are good reasons to believe that the Chief Justice’s conception of a good society, if ever allowed to come into fruition, will spell disaster for the nation and its people...
If India is to regain her lost glory, socialism must be dumped and her people encouraged to help themselves. Indians are known to be hard working. The new definition of socialism offered by the CJI is patronising and impractical; and it will not lead to the ‘welfare’ of the poor. A liberal party opposed to socialism must be allowed to attract the mind of the smart Indian voter... by Sauvik Chakraverti: Antidote
Do we need socialism? Newindpress on Sunday ]10:21 AM

We at the Savitri Era Party are sympathetic to the ideas of Sauvik Chakraverti. But his notion of a liberal party is sorely denuded of any connection with religion. To rid our Constitution of not only the "socialist" but also the “secular" tag, should be the target. The Life Divine arms us with the necessary wherewithal to aim at such a polity. [TNM]

The major Truth is that mind determines body

  • [we fail to discover, for instance, how a fixed formula for the combination of oxygen and hydrogen comes to determine the appearance of water which is evidently something more than a combination of gases, a new creation, a new form of substance, a material manifestation of a quite new character.
  • We see that a seed develops into a tree, we follow the line of the process of production and we utilise it; but we do not discover how a tree can grow out of a seed, how the life and form of the tree come to be implied in the substance or energy of the seed or, if that be rather the fact, how the seed can develop into a tree.
  • We know that genes and chromosomes are the cause of hereditary transmissions, not only of physical but of psychological variations; but we do not discover how psychological characteristics can be contained and transmitted in this inconscient material vehicle.
  • We do not see or know, but it is expounded to us as a cogent account of Nature-process, that a play of electrons, of atoms and their resultant molecules, of cells, glands, chemical secretions and physiological processes manages by their activity on the nerves and brain of a Shakespeare or a Plato to produce or could be perhaps the dynamic occasion for the production of a Hamlet or a Symposium or a Republic; but we fail to discover or appreciate how such material movements could have composed or necessitated the composition of these highest points of thought and literature: the divergence here of the determinants and the determination becomes so wide that we are no longer able to follow the process, much less understand or utilise.
  • These formulae of Science may be pragmatically correct and infallible, they may govern the practical how of Nature's processes, but they do not disclose the intrinsic how or why; rather they have the air of the formulae of a cosmic Magician, precise, irresistible, automatically successful each in its field, but their rationale is fundamentally unintelligible.
  • There is more to perplex us; for we see the original indeterminate Energy throwing out general determinates of itself,—we might equally in their relation to the variety of their products call them generic indeterminates,—with their appropriate states of substance and determined forms of that substance: the latter are numerous, sometimes innumerable variations on the substance-energy which is their base: but none of these variations seems to be predetermined by anything in the nature of the general indeterminate.
  • An electric Energy produces positive, negative, neutral forms of itself, forms that are at once waves and particles; a gaseous state of energy-substance produces a considerable number of different gases; a solid state of energy-substance from which results the earth principle develops into different forms of earth and rock of many kinds and numerous minerals and metals; a life principle produces its vegetable kingdom teeming with a countless foison of quite different plants, trees, flowers; a principle of animal life produces an enormous variety of genus, species, individual variations: so it proceeds into human life and mind and its mind-types towards the still unwritten end or perhaps the yet occult sequel of that unfinished evolutionary chapter. Page 299, Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > English > The Life Divine Volume-18 > Indeterminates, Cosmic Determinations and the Indeterminable]

[the body is not mere unconscious Matter: it is a structure of a secretly conscious Energy that has taken form in it. Itself occultly conscious, it is, at the same time, the vehicle of expression of an overt Consciousness that has emerged and is self-aware in our physical energy-substance. The body's functionings are a necessary machinery or instrumentation for the movements of this mental Inhabitant; it is only by setting the corporeal instrument in motion that the Conscious Being emerging, evolving in it can transmit its mind formations, will formations and turn them into a physical manifestation of itself in Matter. The capacity, the processes of the instrument must to a certain extent reshape the mind formations in their transition from mental shape into physical expression; its workings are necessary and must exercise their influence before that expression can become actual.

The bodily instrument may even in some directions dominate its user; it may too by a force of habit suggest or create involuntary reactions of the consciousness inhabiting it before the working Mind and Will can control or interfere. All this is possible because the body has a “subconscient” consciousness of its own which counts in our total self-expression; even, if we look at this outer instrumentation only, we can conclude that body determines mind, but this is only a minor truth and the major Truth is that mind determines body.

In this view a still deeper Truth becomes conceivable; a spiritual entity ensouling the substance that veils it is the original determinant of both mind and body. On the other side, in the opposite order of process,—that by which the mind can transmit its ideas and commands to the body, can train it to be an instrument for new action, can even so impress it with its habitual demands or orders that the physical instinct carries them out automatically even when the mind is no longer consciously willing them, those also more unusual but well attested by which to an extraordinary and hardly limitable extent the mind can learn to determine the reactions of the body even to the overriding of its normal law or conditions of action,—these and other otherwise unaccountable aspects of the relation between these two elements of our being become easily understandable: for it is the secret consciousness in the living matter that receives from its greater companion; it is this in the body that in its own involved and occult fashion perceives or feels the demand on it and obeys the emerged or evolved consciousness which presides over the body.

Finally, the conception of a divine Mind and Will creating the cosmos becomes justifiable, while at the same time the perplexing elements in it which our reasoning mentality refuses to ascribe to an arbitrary fiat of the Creator, find their explanation as inevitable phenomena of a Consciousness emerging with difficulty out of its opposite—but with the mission to override these contrary phenomena and manifest by a slow and difficult evolution its greater reality and true nature. Page 306, Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > English > The Life Divine Volume-18 > Indeterminates, Cosmic Determinations and the Indeterminable]

Sri Aurobindo is emphatic that "the original determinant of both mind and body" is a "spiritual entity." Neither phenomenology nor biolinguistics are ready to concur with this hypothesis. Sociological investigations too are content with mapping variations and locating patterns relating to demarcated samples. Nonchalance towards the causality aspect is a serious lacuna of the modern day mentality.

The role of The Life Divine is to remedy this. People are busy reading the wrong books, and writing still wrong ones. Savitri Erans must raise the decibel level to reverse this trend. [TNM]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Being sensitive to the fourfold Varna approach to the human nature

[I admire Sauvik immensely, and agree with his thoughts here…, for Sauvik is a much sharper thinker than I am…a fine mind, which can open so many doors for so many people…Writing About Classical Liberalism from The India Uncut Blog by Amit Varma]

Many of the solutions that Sauvik Chakraverti proposes from time to time seem so attractive. But like his plea that “The drug trade should be legalized” they will never be implemented, and, as such, their harmful consequences, if any, will never happen. Knowledge of this, it seems, permits him the luxury of prescribing new impossibilities, which, of course, earn him the reputation of a thinker.

Therefore, our first direct political intervention must be aimed at free trade” is his new “battle-cry,” but without being sensitive to the fourfold Varna approach to the human nature, it would be a disaster. [TNM]

Anti-Oedipus vs. The Life Divine

[Fadi Abou-Rihan Says: 3 March 2008 at 9:08 pm ... I do think there is something quasi “religious” to the flow of the text. Take, for instance, the bifurcations either production or representation, either flow or stagnation, either schizoanalysis or psychoanalysis. There’s been a fair bit written and said about the unsettling ways in which D & G deploy these polarities; but, try as we might, the line in the sand is presumably drawn and with it we are confronted with an exclusionary choice: either with Anti-Oedipus or against it. That’s the logic that most readers have followed and that’s the (religious) trap I have been trying to avoid.]

A large number of people coming under the spell of influential thinkers is not unusual, but it is enormously more rewarding to be mad about The Life Divine than being sold to a religious trap contrived by Deleuze and Guattari. [TNM]

Integrating religion with politics within a cogent framework of ontology

[at a distance to the state: radical democracy and religion
from
the church and postmodern culture: conversation by geoff holsclaw
(
holsclaws@netzero.net) Download: at a distance to the state draft.doc
Abstract: Contemporary globalization puts both religion and the State on notice. Giving rise to a backlash of religious fundamentalism, cultural and economic globalization also puts the State into a reactionary stance. In light of this, questioning the political relationship between religion and the State must again offer an account of the State as well as religion. This paper will therefore investigate the relationship between the State, religion, and radical democracy. An interrogation of the State will proceed through a juxtaposition of the 17th century English philosopher
Thomas Hobbes and 21st century French philosopher Alain Badiou. The former understands politics as principally concerned with forming the State, while the latter understands politics as operating ‘at a distance to the State.’ Within these conceptions of the State, we will then examine the recent account by Romand Coles and Stanley Hauerwas of radical democracy and radical ecclesiology in Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations Between a Radical Democrat and a Christian. In relation to Hobbes and Badiou, we will examine the feasibility of the church as an alternative ‘polis’ in relation to the project of radical democracy. With Badiou, it will be argued that the best understanding of politics is not as ‘against the State’ in a religious or political sectarianism, but ‘at a distance to the State’ and yet participating within it, both reducing either the polemical rhetoric between the two or a reduction of one to the other.]

Instead of exhuming Hobbes, who lived in entirely different times, we need to turn to Sri Aurobindo, who has contemplated over the human condition and destiny through the tumultuous years of the two World Wars. The outcome of his long years of rumination is The Life Divine. In this book we find an optimistic agenda of integrating religion with politics within a cogent framework of ontology. [TNM]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Life Divine is the book supreme

[Beware, the ego is constantly at work Vithal C Nadkarni, ET, 19 Mar, 2008
WIth 500,000 copies sold over three years, Eckhart Tolle’s New Earth wasn’t scorching the best-seller charts the way his earlier Power of Now had. Then came Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement which created a publishing history of sorts: 3.5 million copies printed and shipped in just four weeks to feed the blistering demand for a book that exhorts readers to give up ‘ego-consciousness’ and live in the present. In his first new book in eight years, Tolle concedes that awakening to your life’s purpose may not be an easy endeavour at the best of times.]

But our newspapers never care to endorse a book like The Life Divine. [TNM]

Anchorage to religion

[Lok Satta Party Launching 'Surajya' Movement from Jayaprakash Narayan's Blog by JP
The Lok Satta Party is spearheading a citizens' movement for Surajya beginning from Andhra Pradesh on March 23, 2008 (77th death anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh).
Announcing this here today, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) said that while the Swaraj movement sought freedom from colonial rule, Surajya movement aims to free citizens from the chains of corrupt and distorted rule...A number of renowned social activists, including Magasasy Award winners, are taking part in the Surajya movement. They include:
:: Anna Hazare :: Ramesh Raamanathan (Janagraha) :: Madhu Kishwar (Editor, Manushi) :: Desikan (Catalyst Trust) :: Sandeep Pandey :: M. V. Devasahayam :: T. N. Seshan :: Shiv Khera :: Julius Rebero :: Arvind Khejriwal]

Dr. JP's efforts, despite all good intentions, are doomed to be a failure, unless the party ensures an anchorage to religion. [TNM]

The Metro and the Matrimandir

[THE VISIBLE HAND - Why India needs to possess Kaushik Basu HT March 16, 2008
Even accounting for the fact that we are a poor nation and so cannot be expected to compete with industrialised nations, our performance on intellectual property has been dismal...
while India is surging on many fronts, it does badly when it comes to inventiveness; and this can have severe long-run consequences. The rise of intellectual property is such a recent phenomenon, that most people have no idea what it means. When we speak of property, we usually think of tangible things - land, house, watch. Especially in India, the ownership of an idea seems strange. But unless we wake up to this global phenomenon and partake in it actively, we will lose out... I personally find it disturbing to see the kind of property rights regime that the world is getting into, compartmentalising our tangible and intangible resources into territories and then passing them down to our progenies and excluding others. But that debate has little bearing on what I am arguing here. Given that the world is getting into this
system, for poor nations to exclude themselves from it is to guarantee nothing but their own poverty (Kaushik Basu holds the C. Marks Chair and is Director of the Center for Analytic Economics at Cornell University).]
[Home Views Editorials Platform An excellence idea Abhishek Singhvi HT March 18, 2008
It’s time India and Indians spoke up for excellence. For too long, too many have treated excellence as an elitist concept, mixed up with luxury, with the upper classes and too abstract to be relevant to the teeming problems of India. In a sense, it was an intertwined mindset with that which treated both profit and commercial success as dirty words. Conceptual confusion also led us to assume, at least subconsciously, that excellence necessarily encompassed the few and couldn’t be operationalised among the many.
The time to change all that has come. Contemporary India has shattered many myths. The Metro has shown us how we can achieve the highest levels of quality without compromising any other virtue. Indeed, the citizenry frequently puts up with the huge disruptions caused by Metro construction because they know that this institution strives for and has achieved excellence... The new Indian challenge is how to institutionalise, internalise and operationalise excellence at all levels. We have to start a national movement of excellence. We have to begin by recognising it at all levels. We have to applaud it, encourage it, promote it and institutionalise a mechanism for doing so in a non-partisan manner... Abhishek Singhvi is an MP, National Spokesperson, Congress, and former Additional Solicitor General ]
[CITY CITY BANG BANG Ladder without rungs
SANTOSH DESAI timesofindia.com Monday, 17 March, 2008
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has an eerie sense of calm around him. He has an innate sense of wisdom that seems to come from no discernible source. Nothing in his background explains his ease with success and equanimity with failure... And yet, he exudes a self-assuredness that borders on the sage... Talent, on the other hand, is an alchemic idea. It springs from within and while it needs to be spotted and nurtured, it has a compelling raw energy that spills over. Media has unified ambition in India by populating all our minds with the same benchmarks of success. It has also allowed all of us to rehearse our success by giving us an intimate glimpse into what it looks like. The young today embrace success well before it embraces them... Today in India, the seeds of ambition have been broadcast widely and we are beginning to reap the harvest. The talent map of India is being redrawn and we need to recognize that in this new scheme of things, where people are not climbing the ladder one rung at a time, we need to create a system that recognizes talent wherever it may lie and enable it to blossom.]
[Home > Op-Ed > Suspicious of faith Tridip Suhrud Indian Express: Wednesday, March 19, 2008... The act does not allow for the possibility of conversion to another faith as an act of social protest, as a cry of pain within one’s own religion which might be oppressive. It does not understand the kind of conversion that Babasaheb Ambedkar sought and propagated to Buddhism. It does not grant that conversion could be a political act, especially in times when caste and religious identities have acquired an edge and legitimacy in the political realm.
It does not allow for theological disaffection with one’s own religion. Without this deep theological disenchantment with one’s own ancestral religion, many of the world’s great religions would not be. It is a search for divine that moved the great teachers of the world, be it Jesus, Prophet Mohammad, the Buddha or the Jain Tirthankars and allowed them to suggest radical departures with their ancestral faith and modes of worship. Without the recognition of theological disaffection, even in our times, we would be forced to live with a fundamental sense of lack, the absence of faith altogether.
But more fundamentally, the act also does not understand either the nature of faith or that of religious quest... The act fails to grant me the possibility, both philosophical and experiential, that I could grasp the beauty and the truth of a religion that I was not born in. The nature of religious quest is anchored in this possibility, without which an authentic searching is not possible.
It could be argued that a true religious quest, like that of Gandhi’s, makes the need for conversion unnecessary — that I could be simultaneously a Hindu, a Jain, a Christian and a Muslim. But that argument does not hold in this case, because if one were to accept that mode of being religious, an enactment like the one brought by the BJP government in Gujarat would be completely unnecessary. It would have no religious ground.
The Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act is in its essence a communal legislation. It is communal not because it views all religions except Hinduism with suspicion, which it does. It is communal because it does not understand the true nature of faith, belief and a deep religious quest. It is suspicious of faith itself.
The writer is a social scientist based in Ahmedabad]
[Home > Op-Ed > Moral is political
Tridip Suhrud Indian Express: Tuesday, February 19, 2008
We, in India, are no strangers to either moral or ethical innovation or to the power of symbolic acts. Little over a hundred years ago, in the Empire Theatre of Johannesburg, a man rose to take a pledge. It was a vow taken in the name of God and with God as witness. This we recognise as the birth of satyagraha. It was the affirmation of the moral in the political realm. It was an affirmation that freedom was not only a political category, it was both moral and spiritual as well. It is, in fact, superior moral virtue. It was the morality of the idea of freedom that the Indian movement of independence sought to actualise. The same man showed us the power of symbolic acts when he along with a chosen band of followers walked to the coastal town of Dandi and by picking up a pinch of salt broke the power of an empire.
The plight of the Indian polity and public life comes in large measure from our inability to acknowledge that the realpolitik does not constitute the whole of the political realm. It stems from a misconception that the polity is superior to and larger than the public sphere. It was the public sphere, an amalgamation of happy polyphonies at that, which defined the political during the freedom movement. We have now relegated the public sphere to a space occupied by cantankerous NGOs and odd-ball dissenters. It is marginal to both our politics and our ethical imagination. We have created a gulf between the ethical imaginations and the imperatives of realpolitik. This does not allow us to understand that a tribal who cuts forest trees as a form of protest is not being destructive but is making a plea to be included in the nation’s memory by dismembering himself. Such distance permits amnesia, deepest of which is about the possibilities of the politics of the moral. This has blunted our innovativeness in the moral and the ethical spheres.
The writer is a social scientist based in Ahmedabad]
Our secular evangelists have sung their odes to talent, excellence, and inventiveness, but refuse to take notice of the same when linked to religion. The Metro exhibits highest levels of quality, all right; but the Matrimandir is no less. Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine as a powerhouse of ideas and wisdom represents a level of excellence that is unsurpassable, but why our thought leaders never refer to it?
The metaphysics of The Life Divine does not permit artificial constructs like separation of politics from religion. It is time we reach at a broad consensus that an ephemeral moral burnishing of politics is not just sufficient, and a more religious grounding is essential for a sustainable model of society. Welcome to the Savitri Era solution. [TNM]