Sunday, December 30, 2007

Both nations will form some type of confederation, based on shared interest in trade and culture

Re: India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny by Rich on Thu 27 Dec 2007 07:47 AM PST Profile Permanent Link Deshpande wrote: “I agree that Sri Aurobindo opinion would have changed with time…” Does it mean that he would have revised his stand about the removal of partition, that by whatever means it be it must go? That is the basic question.<
Well you or I can never know that because he has been gone 57 years now. We can only infer and draw our own interpretations based on our various intellectual and cultural backgrounds. My own opinion is that eventually both nations will form some type of confederation, based on shared interest in trade and culture.
Re: Bhutto Assassinated: N.Y. Times by Rich on Thu 27 Dec 2007 05:41 PM PST Profile Permanent Link An emergent confederation or free trade zone which balances China's hegemony is certainly not out of the question, if the region can "get its shit together" and so I got to say, no matter the rap there seems to be against Gandhi in some Sri Aurobindo circles, I think the first thing everyone must due, is stop exploding each other with hatred. It is only such an evolutionary future which I would consider progressive... cheers rich
Re: India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny by RY Deshpande on Tue 25 Dec 2007 04:49 AM PST Profile Permanent Link “I agree that Sri Aurobindo opinion would have changed with time…” Does it mean that he would have revised his stand about the removal of partition, that by whatever means it be it must go? That is the basic question. However, there are fundamentals also and there is also the aspect that the fundamentals should not be mixed up with the operational perspectives.
In terms of the specifics, it is totally beyond me to say if Sri Aurobindo would have changed his “opinion” in any particular situation or not. In fact, the question is: Does he hold opinions? His actions are in the play of the universal forces and what he would have done can be understood only in the knowledge of the workings of these universal forces, in their dynamics. As we do not have access to these workings, knowledge of the universal forces, to these dynamics, the best we can do is to go by our bests, bests discerned by our deepest and sincere-most perceptions. These perceptions will of course change from individual to individual and imposing one perception on another will amount to fanaticism. If there is religious fanaticism, there is also the rationalist fanaticism; the conflict between Reason and Faith is deep-rooted and is a fact of our present state of consciousness, our state of awareness. Actually, there are different types and grades of fanaticism, of every kind, small and too human as we are. But I also think we here at the sciy are enlightened enough to eschew from such impositions. As these postings are in the sciy fold, I take for granted the Aurobindonian outlook of things and it is in that outlook that we are holding discussions. Otherwise, for a general audience, it would entail writing a full-length book which, if necessary, should also be done. But I don’t think, at the moment, I’ve inclination to do anything of the sort. Anyone coming forward? It will be a welcome attempt. Let’s hope this happens. RYD
Re: India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny by Rich on Thu 27 Dec 2007 07:47 AM PST Profile Permanent Link Moreover RYD comments: However, there are fundamentals also and there is also the aspect that the fundamentals should not be mixed up with the operational perspectives. In terms of the specifics, it is totally beyond me to say if Sri Aurobindo would have changed his “opinion” in any particular situation or not. In fact, the question is: Does he hold opinions? His actions are in the play of the universal forces and what he would have done can be understood only in the knowledge of the workings of these universal forces, in their dynamics.<
Well if you choose to deify Sri Aurobindo the above perspective would logically follow. I personally do not and yes I think both he and Mother as human beings (however exalted they were) both reasoned and formed opinions which were subject to change depending on the passing of local and world events. I am however somewhat perplexed - and maybe you can explain this - how the followers of Sri Aurobindo and Mother can deify them and claim that integral yoga is not absolutely a Religion (with a capital R) rc
Re: India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny by RY Deshpande on Thu 27 Dec 2007 03:47 PM PST Profile Permanent Link Rich With regard to the “Pakistan imbroglio” let me quickly quote again Sri Aurobindo’s Independence Day Message:
“India today is free but she has not achieved unity… It is to be hoped that this settled fact [political division] will not be accepted as settled for ever… This must not be; the partition must go. Let us hope that that may come about naturally, by an increasing recognition of the necessity not only of peace and concord but of common action, by the practice of common action and the creation of means for that purpose… But by whatever means, in whatever way, the division must go; unity must and will be achieved…”
This statement of Sri Aurobindo is in the public domain; in fact the message was broadcast on the Radio. It’s a pity that no political leader of the country with the weight of his personality had at that time approached Sri Aurobindo asking for guidance to resolve the “imbroglio”, seeking his greater clarification about “by whatever means, in whatever way, the division must go.” That is why I had said that “there is no end to our stupidity.”
But presently my simple question is just the following: Do you think that, after sixty years, Sri Aurobindo would have revised his stand vis-à-vis the Partition? accepted it today as a “settled fact”? The rest is immaterial, inconsequential. RYD
Re: Harmonious Confederation by RY Deshpande on Fri 28 Dec 2007 05:36 AM PST Profile Permanent Link Rich You write:
…the idea of nation statehood as a European social construction does not exactly come to my mind when he says partition must go. I think he would have been pleased if a harmonious confederation in pursuit of similar regional, social, cultural interest could be achieved.
I think this observation of yours is very perceptive, quite positive, and I echo with the idea of “harmonious confederation”, the solution which was suggested by the Mother after 1971. And yet the question is: how is it going to be effected? I’ll add that Sri Aurobindo never considered India just a piece of land marked somewhere by geographical lines—she was Motherland for him. While her latitudes and longitudes belong to occult and psycho-spiritual dimensions, there is also something of them projected on the physical. Sri Aurobindo considered her as a mighty Shakti and hailed her so, she a great embodiment of spiritual Power in the cosmic working. Naturally, therefore, one cannot accept her as a fractured person. This is perhaps the basis which we can read in his Independence Day Message. RYD

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Good social science knowledge is not available to policy-makers and the public

Secularism: The assassination of Benazir Bhutto posted by Craig Calhoun
Benazir Bhutto was my classmate at Oxford in the 1970s.
It is one of the jobs of social science to help people do better. Social scientists do this by filling in historical background and geopolitical connections. By analyzing demographic trends and structures. By reporting on economic development, gender relations, the state of government institutions, the options for education in villages. Emergencies offer a lens through which to see the interaction of many different factors of social life. But we can only make sense of emergencies if there are studies of these various factors on which we can rely...
Understanding enough to respond in meaningful ways requires knowledge of the contexts and connections in which this event was embedded. And it requires more general knowledge of patterns and causal relationships in social life—of how markets and militaries and popular mobilizations work. Social scientists have long pursued a silly internal dispute that undermines effective public knowledge. Some have favored breaking social life into its most generalizable elements, abstracting from particular contexts. Others have favored studying contexts and connections, seeing the general mechanisms at work in particular situations. We all suffer when one pursuit is valued at the expense of the other.
And by “all” I mean not only professional social scientists but everyone. For when good social science knowledge is not available to policy-makers and the public, both effective planning and democratic judgment of the policies chosen are undermined. Thus we should all want knowledge pursued in depth and discussed among specialists. But we should also want this knowledge synthesized for effective communication—to a broad public, to students, and to policy-makers.
Benazir Bhutto studied social science but made her career in politics. She was an unusually well-educated politician as well as both a courageous and a flawed leader. And one of the virtues of democracy is that well-informed leaders can help to educate broader publics. This is not to say that they should be believed on all points, but that electoral campaigns and public political participation are educational processes. Citizens learn by getting involved. But while we hope that politicians will make use of knowledge and seek understanding, we cannot and usually do not rely on them to educate us fully about public issues. They call attention to crucial points but they also “spin” them. It is vital in a democracy that there also be sources of knowledge to which politicians can be held account, and analyses by scholars who may not always manage to be neutral but whose commitments to the truth outweigh expediency. In Pakistan, as elsewhere, no political party has a monopoly on truth. But when parties and leaders allow open debate, they make it easier for the truth to be seen. And better understanding based on necessary knowledge can make it easier for opposing parties to find common ground on some issues... This entry was posted on Friday, December 28th, 2007 at 4:10 am and is filed under Secularism. [See my most recent book, Nations Matter.] SSRC Home SSRC Blogs Blog Home Pakistan in Crisis.
7. Do social scientists need blogs or other media for interaction? Of course. We need to be challenged by questions, informed about things we forget or never knew, and pushed to be clearer. Would I ever suggest that it makes sense for “the rest of us” just to wait, listen and in due course be enlightened? No! Keep speaking up. Also reading.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Is there anyone today who cries “Mother, mother mine, mother great and free”?

India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny
by RY Deshpande on Sun 23 Dec 2007 06:02 AM PST Permanent Link
We must recognise that India is a land of richness, of plenty. She is rich in every respect. She is plenteous materially, vitally, mentally, spiritually. The Veda spoke of corn filled with milk in her fields. She is Bankim’s land of hurrying streams and bright orchard gleams, sujalām-suphalām. Here flourished great kingdoms, here flourished arts and sciences and crafts, here grew industry, commerce, trade. From here spread wisdom and knowledge all over the world. This has been the ancient land of tapasya.

India is rich
Even today India is rich in every respect. Indians may be poor but India is not poor. The soul of the country is as bright as the sun in a clear cloudless summer sky. But it is unfortunate that we do not live in it. We do not live in the brightness of that splendour, in its wonderful day. We do not know our own souls. We have lost contact with our inner being. We are sleeping the dark sleep of mediaeval ages. The unfortunate history of the last thousand years is weighing heavily on our mind and heart and body, on our spirit. But the backlash of time must be set aright. We must return to the foundational principles and values of our nation. We must see the causes, as to where exactly we had failed. We must awake to the call of Vivekananda, of Prabuddha Bharata, to the inspiration and message of Eternal India...
Where is authentic nationalism?
No wonder, we lack the spirit of authentic nationalism. No wonder we do not have our own programmes. We are ashamed of singing the National Anthem in the company of foreigners. We do not have our own priorities. No wonder that, we do not have our own science, our own literature, our own national life. There can be Indian life only when India recovers its Indianness. That is the imperative. When we Indians shall live according to the nation’s swabhāva and swadharma, then only will there be India’s happy fulfilment. Indians must know India. They shall prove the heroes who will steal the Promethean fire from the Hearth of the Spirit. We are looking for adventurers marching in celebration of the Truth. Only from the Fire of Sacrifice, National Yajna, can India rise to lead the countries of the world, assert herself in the march of mankind.

We do not have men “fit for the times”. But there is the expectation that the soul of the country shall awake. It shall arise from the Yajna of the Tapasvins. It shall arise like a radiant goddess. The ancient Rishis lived in the forests, but one-sixth of their tapasya went as a state tax for the welfare of the land. It is that which sustained every excellence of the society. We have to do that kind of national tapasya.

We Indians believe that everything should be done for us by the government. We do not tell what we are going to do for the country. We forget that religion is not a state subject; nor is education, nor can be arts and literature and sports and advancement of knowledge. Organisation of Art and Culture activities by a government office is a strange laughable matter. Never will a dynamic society allow these things to happen. A government’s concern should be governance. It is the society that has to build cultural foundations. It has to put forward progressive social aims. It has to generate awareness to fulfil its own longings. It must do things in the nobility of its creative-expressive spirit...
Humanity’s conscious participation
Our hope lies in being open to the subtler nuances of the working of the forces of life that operate always within and around us. In the totality of our approach we will have to perhaps move from the rational to the luminous intuitive modes and tools of knowledge and action. Fortunate we will be if we can accept, understand and apply what has been given to us by the Seer of the New Age. The vastness of Sri Aurobindo's vision embraces the human difficulties in their several dimensions and offers to them fulfilling solutions. The real problem of the society, as in the case of the individual, is for it to find its soul, the true collective soul. Certainly, it is that which alone can guide it on its evolutionary march towards the emergence of a spiritualised humanity. In its absence, the external ego-self is bound to prove to be a false light; this will also imply that excessive subjectivism of the crude vitalistic kind cannot but lead it to disintegration and destruction.
There has to be a conviction that, culmination of the social development into the Age of the ageless Spirit is the secret urge and motivating force behind the evolutionary Nature’s long painstaking and patient working. Humanity’s conscious participation in it will assuredly hasten this triumph and this glory. The soul of India has the intuition of perceiving these possibilities and India’s freedom is meant for its growth in the progression of the manifesting spirit. If this can be kept as the focus, the celebration of India’s sixty years of independence will then be truly significant...
[NB: The article was first published in the August-September 2007 issue of Mother India, A Monthly Review of Culture, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. The periodical was celebrating the 60th Anniversary of India’s Independence.] Keywords: Yoga, Vedanta, Veda, Tagore, SriAurobindo, Spirituality, Review, Religion, Pondicherry, Poetry, Pakistan, Mysticism, Life, Krishna, India, History, Hinduism, Gita, Education, Culture, Ashram

Conversion to CNG

We have all heard of entrepreneurs. They are the business people with a difference; the ones with a prophetic footprint, who see an idea where others see only obstacles and then they unlike the dreamers and the visionaries go and do some thing about it. If their ideas succeed and they often do, the world is a different and often better place for their efforts. When I think of this genre of businessmen, the names of Sabeer Bhatia and Sam Pitroda are some of the Indian names that come to my mind.
When I had first heard of the Ashoka Foundation, I had imagined in my mind that it would be the social arm of a traditional Indian business house. With a name linked to the Emperor Ashoka, this was not a very unlikely possibility. Later on, when I discovered that they promoted social entrepreneurship, it still did not mean much to me.
So just who is a social entrepreneur? Allow the Ashoka Foundation, which popularized the term to explain: Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka expands by saying that “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry”
Although the term is one not often heard used in India, we have plenty of them, starting of course with the emperor Ashoka whose conversion to Buddhism sparked a 180 degree change in methods of governance in ancient India that was radical. Drayton cites the shift in the emperor’s paradigm – from merely holding on to the kingdom and enlarging it to ensuring that subjects living in the kingdom were well cared for and looking after their welfare as one of the most monumental acts of social entrepreneurship which inspired him to name his foundation which would support future entrepreneurial initiatives after the Buddhist icon.
Drayton has other unlikely inspirations. He cites the late Acharya Vinoba Bhave and his innovatively conceived Bhoodan and Gramdaan initiatives which largely failed as experiments in social entrepreneurship. The early years of the foundation and the movement it seeks to catalyze are documented in the appropriately titled book How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas (Penguin Books, India) authored by David Bornstein which was released in India by the IT entrepreneur, Narayana Murthy of Infosys.
Have there been other social entrepreneurs in India since Ashoka? Plenty, but their names might not be as familiar to the average Indian as the entrepreneurs from the world of business. I, who work in the social sector could recognize only a few whose work and activity occasionally draws them media attention – Javed Abidi, the disability activist, Flavia Agnes, the human rights lawyer, who appears occasionally on NDTV, Anil Aggarwal, the environmentalist whose crusade brought CNG buses to Delhi and Jeroo Billimoria of child line and a few others.
I think that social entrepreneurs deserve a bit more of name recognition, brand recognition too if you will, for the invaluable work that they do quietly and largely unsung in the grassroots. For at the end of the day, it does not matter how much India’s economy grows and what our GDP is if the disabled do not have access to jobs and amenities, if children do not have access to help, shelter and safe spaces and the elderly lives of lonely neglect. Gandhi famously remarked that the way in which we treat minorities is the measure of civilization in a society. In differing ways, we have all failed Gandhi’s test but the social entrepreneurs are trying hard to make a difference. They deserve our applause and laudation.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Government solutions are the answer to problems created by free markets

Rethinking belief in the perfection of free markets
America’s wealthiest colleges have endowments that are thousands of times greater than those at the least fortunate schools. The chasm is far deeper than that in other realms. After all, overpaid chief executives and investment bankers pay inheritance and income tax, so their wealth diminishes over time. Heavily endowed colleges and universities, however, suffer no such setbacks...
The investment income from Harvard’s endowment in the last academic year was reported to be nearly $7 billion — a 23 percent gain from the year before. At even the current low tax rates it wouldn’t hurt Harvard to give up $1 billion or so of its gains in order to make the sharing of our intellectual wealth fairer. Other colleges could make such a donation similarly unscathed.
I know it won’t be easy to convince well-off schools to share their wealth. But they should. They should see this act as part of a down payment on their professed mission: to create a stronger, smarter and ultimately more stable society. Herbert A. Allen is the president of an investment firm.
Editorial Decongesting the Skies NYT: December 21, 2007 The Bush administration’s remedy for the nation’s overcrowded skies, months in the making, correctly zeros in on the New York area where steady and sometimes monumental delays have created flying misery across the nation...The main feature of the plan, to take effect in March, involves flight caps at Kennedy International Airport — just more than 80 flights an hour at peak times, versus a load that reached 105 flights last summer.
The government should also consider expanding the use of military air lanes beyond holidays. For now, the administration deserves credit for not ignoring summer’s disastrous delays, for opening debate on a tough issue and for recognizing uncharacteristically that government solutions were the answer to a problem created by free markets.
Blindly Into the Bubble By PAUL KRUGMAN NYT: December 21, 2007 So where were the regulators as one of the greatest financial disasters since the Great Depression unfolded? They were blinded by ideology.
“Fed shrugged as subprime crisis spread,” was the headline on a New York Times report on the failure of regulators to regulate. This may have been a discreet dig at Mr. Greenspan’s history as a disciple of Ayn Rand, the high priestess of unfettered capitalism known for her novel “Atlas Shrugged.”
In a 1963 essay for Ms. Rand’s newsletter, Mr. Greenspan dismissed as a “collectivist” myth the idea that businessmen, left to their own devices, “would attempt to sell unsafe food and drugs, fraudulent securities, and shoddy buildings.” On the contrary, he declared, “it is in the self-interest of every businessman to have a reputation for honest dealings and a quality product.” ...
But Mr. Greenspan wasn’t the only top official who put ideology above public protection... Of course, now that it has all gone bad, people with ties to the financial industry are rethinking their belief in the perfection of free markets.
Editorial Arrogance and Warming NYT: December 21, 2007 The Bush administration’s decision to deny California permission to regulate and reduce global warming emissions from cars and trucks is an indefensible act of executive arrogance that can only be explained as the product of ideological blindness and as a political payoff to the automobile industry...
One of Mr. Johnson’s arguments was that a “national solution” to carbon dioxide emissions was preferable to a “confusing patchwork of state rules.” A national solution is precisely what the administration has refused to offer. And the California rule — once in force there and in 17 other states — would in fact constitute a uniform standard covering nearly half the car market. That is why the automakers lobbied so fiercely against it. It has been hard enough to trust Mr. Bush’s recent assertions that he has finally gotten religion on climate change. It all seems like posturing now.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Should we then go back to the caves! Can we stop Evolution?

Sri Aurobindo 6 Posted on Dec 19th, 2007 by Barin Confusions and Explanations I
During a discussion on Sri Aurobindo, a friend of mine stated that in order to solve the present evolutionary problems faced by the mankind, one should go back to Nature. Going back to Nature is the solution, instead of trying to transcend and transform the mental-vital-physical being of Man.
She quoted me from Sri Aurobindo : What Sri Aurobindo represents II and then said: The present evolutionary crisis is the result of an inequality between the limited faculties of man - physical, vital, mental and spiritual - and the technical and economical means at his disposal. Without a total and all-comprehensive inner change man can no longer manage and control the gigantic development of the outer life. The overwhelming importance of the collectivity, of the State is only a substitution of the collective ego in place of the individual ego. Humankind can survive only by a radical transformation of human nature. [ Sri Aurobindo : What Sri Aurobindo represents II ]

"I think an aspect of this is that humanity can best survive by returning to our true human nature, namely a pre-separation from GOD identity. It lies within each man and woman to do this, even right now, without further evolution or transformation, should the will simply become engaged and decide to release to the Wild Divine."

My friend had thus raised a deep-rooted and fundamental question of utmost importance. She thought that by going back to our "true" nature, bereft of the conception of God and stopping further evolution and transformation, humanity can best survive, and this can be attempted by individuals even now.
Should we then go back to the caves! Let us then withdraw ourselves from all our scientific, medical, intellectual, aesthetic, cultural and spiritual advancements and turn to our "true" aboriginal nature, as some people may still be doing in Andaman Nicobars, or in Taiwan or somewhere in South Africa, or even South America! Or, if nobody is found now-a-days, let us go back to the era of the Neanderthals! Let us forget God! Let us forget evolution and transformation!
Let us then go back to our cave, where we might be dwelling some fifty thousand years back, or even earlier. Let us then live a wild life, along with our wild animal neighbors, dressed in leaves and eating raw fruits etc only!
Would we be saved then? Would I no more require any education, any philosophy, any music, any art, any search for beauty, for truth, for goodness? Or should we no more need any medicine, any books, any food or dress which civilization or culture taught us to use? Would we not then contact anyone else anywhere through internet , or anyone over telephone, or even through post and telegraph, or be informed of the world news or the news of my country?
Let us forget everything for a while. But what shall we do with our inner Fire, our inner Urge, our inner Intensity to surpass all my limitations, all our animal wildness that makes us slaves, our unquenched eagerness to surpass all darkness and ignorance, and our askesis to receive the Help of any higher Power in our difficulties, in our sufferings and in the matters of death and diseases?
Can any human - who is nothing if he is separated from the Infinite Consciousness, who is an insect if he or she is pre-separated from God, the Eternal and Supreme Consciousness - can any human being survive if he or she is reduced to an wild animal, or to a natural helpless insect, after his Journey towards Fulfillment and Victory for fifty millennia or more?
And if we become separated from the Divine, will the Divine separate ourselves from Him? Are we independent enough to do that? In our being and in our composition, is it possible? Is God our imagination or our creation, so that we can stop Him from being, or do away with Him from our life?
Can we stop Evolution? Can we choose to do away with the necessity of Transformation?
If we stop Evolution, Evolution will stop us, the human beings! If we stop Transformation, we will be discarded by the Force transforming us! ...Posted on December 20, 2007 by Barin
When Sri Aurobindo wrote the book The Life Divine, He had already reached the threshold of the Supramental Consciousness, far above the plane of the Intuitive Mind, far above Intuition. He interpreted rationally in His philosophical treatise The Life Divine all His Wisdom and Knowledge that He reached directly by Identification, not only by Intuition. He did not discard Reason. To discard Reason and accept Intuition would have been against His approach of Integration. Can we and should we discard Reason which had been a help to us for millennia for surpassing the surrounding darkness? Reason may not be the highest means of Knowledge. But till the coming of Intuition, it has to be there. Only, it has to be transformed and widened and illumined as far as possible. It is an instrument, and its proper use is in our hands.
And all that appears to us as Intuition is not intuition. There are many false signals also. And the old earth-Nature, in its animal kingdom, worked with instincts. And often the humans work with impulses. All these have to be searched and scrutinized, for they appear to many people as Intuitions. And there are the Anti-Divine Forces, who intimations and we may often think that they are Intuitions. The Mother has many times cautioned us against all these.
These clarifications are added here, in order to ensure that those who read about Sri Aurobindo in my Blog or anywhere else are not misled by the words for their various meanings and usages.
Written on 20-09-2007 Posted in Zaadz on 20-12-2007. Access: Public Add Comment Print Send views (14) Tagged with: Sri Aurobindo, Mira Alfassa, The Mother, Supermind, The Supramental Manifestation, Evolution, Transformation

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We need a fundamental reinvention of economics and its guiding indicators

Re: The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein by Rich on Mon 10 Dec 2007 08:40 PM PST Profile Permanent Link
well trickle down was just a slogan, that worked for a while until 20 years later when we see the disparity between CEO and line Worker is now 400 fold, rather than 20 fold!
But, were they thinking of the great social good, or the self-interest of an economic elite, I'd say the later. Friedmanism worked in Chile for awhile, but there is a Socialist back in power, as in most of South America, and I believe this is one of the most promising new economic counters to Neo-Liberalist Globalization, and the acceleration of the gap between the wealthiest and all the rest.
But sure, the neo-conservative Hayek, Friedman, and to an extent the neo-liberalist economist Jeffery Sachs thought they were doing great things when imposing shock therapy on Chile, Bolivia, Russia, and so did Deng in Tiananmen Square which began China's Shock Therapy China. Of course we all know about the well intention neo-cons Chaney, Rumsfield Wolfawitz, and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqs who have died and millions who are homeless. But shock therapy in theory and practice has real consequences for human beings.
Yes, the Chicago Boys did control the scourge of inflation, but they are ideologically driven Nerds. They respect calculations, modeling of populations on the economic man. They were like the engineers in early systems modeling platforms, disconnected observers playing with formulas and feedback loops with no requirement to empathize with the populations under control. Their position like the omniscient observers in the control rooms of cybernetic laboratories. When you are taking on the role of Cosmic Agent initiating vast economic turbulance and throwing millions out of work it is easy to loose touch with the lives of others. Your own salary like those of CEOs of multinationals increasing with the amount of workers you can downsize.
by ronjon on Tue 11 Dec 2007 09:12 AM PST Profile Permanent Link
I've just begun reading Riane Eisler's new book: The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics. It seems obvious to me that we need a fundamental reinvention of economics and its guiding indicators. Here's a short video (7 minutes) of Riane describing her book: And here's another interesting link: ~ ronjon

Reform democracy - use the information technology for human-self governance

Shreepal, a Concerned Global Citizen: A call to create New Civilization Zones !
Yes, dear a-d, we are working to create a new civilization by our conversation. I appreciate your stand that to you the most important aspect of any subject matter is how it defines our ETHICS. Ethics - a normative prescription - is only a result, an outcome of a particular view point. It is the result of an understanding of things around us. We are human beings, rational beings, and we have to proceed to form our understanding by reason.By building our worldview on the foundation of current knowledge (science), we can proceed further to deduce our normative prescriptions, that is, ethical edicts. We cannot first take a particular ethics as correct one and then proceed to find reason for the same. However, there is another aspect to ethics. Ethics is a matter of heart and not of mind. But then there is not much scope for insisting on its justification on the basis of reason. You referred me the links that challenge Darwinism and advocate Creationism.
This debate, which is now fairly old, puts the matter as Science versus Faith. We need not jettison science to prove faith as the correct viewpoint. Science stands on somewhat solid foundation and we cannot jettison science, even on ethical grounds. If we donot believe in science, we have no moral right to use its products, on which our civilization is standing in which we live. Creation by a Willful Design is correct; but then Darwinism is also correct, though as it stands modified today. Why this Willful Design cannot adopt an evolutionary method as is suggested by Darwin? Is this Wll powerless to devise and put in use a mechanism that is found, as a hard fact, by science? Evolution, not only of life but even of Universe with all the galaxies, black holes etc. beautifully supports Creation by a Willful Design. Any way, please keep the faith up; I am with you there.
10 Jul 2007 @ 16:21 by shreepal : Life is complex...
Dear a-d, thanks for the enlightened comment on the subject under discussion. There has been delay on my part in reponding to your comments because I was enjoying my tranquility away from the wired world. The quotes by you from the Ming's Blog are the factual reality. Life is indeed complex, with all that it is comprised of, individually and collectively. And, still these things are very much ordered and precision-oriented, though we very often are unable to understand this precision. This is inability or deficiency only on our part. This reflects the lower level of our - human beings' - evolutionary stage. We are sure to understand better this clockwork of Nature with the passage of time; and this is evolutionary march. This simple fact - fact of evolutionary nature of our understanding - teaches us that we should not be fundamentalist, the rigid one, in our attitude. Again thanks and I apologise for the delay on my part.
28 Aug 2007 @ 08:44 by shreepal : True democracy, current need of mankind
The goal is to advance mankind collectively at the rapid pace towards her destination, whatever it might be. To anable this to happen, mankind has three elements to fall back upon: huaman resource, which includes human beings and their knowledge of science and technology available today; machines and tools made available to them by this scientific technology; the best co-ordination of these two elements to produce optimum result to the benifit of collective mankind. Mankind benifits by this co-ordination in the form of having goods that help her in lessening her hardship in their struggle against Nature, which does not yield easily in giving rewards of this struggle. These rewards are reflected in their standard of life. What could be this best co-ordination?
One way is to allow individuals, who are actuated by the sole motive of earning profits to get maximum comforts, to take initiative to bring together the elements for production of these goods in the maximum productive mode. There could be another way also. It could be to allow mind's planning to bring these production-elements together in the best productive mode. This planning can be done by people in a democratic manner, that is, by the people out of their free choice. It is a hoax, which is of sufficiently long standing now, that such planning can only be done by a dictatorial regime. It can be done in a more efficient manner in a democracy, provided there is true democracy. What is true democracy? It is self-governance of people where the will of the people is faithfully expressed and allowed to work.
Today, such true democracy is possible by the use of the available (information) technology. To make this happen two things are required: firstly, use this technology to elect people's representatives and to replace them constantly; and secondly, educate people, and particularly educate them in science, so that they can take an informed decision about their genuine welfare. Today's international agenda should be: reform democracy - use the information technology for human-self governabce. If people are empowered by the use of technology they would take care of themselves and of their best interests. With the help of today's science and technology there is no reason for the unemployment, poverty, ignorace, diseases and social-conflicts to exist on earth today; these today are mostly the signs of our improper use of the aforesaid three elements at our disposal.
We wrongly associate the glitter of our modern civilization to the industry and foresight of a few (a few in the face of the multitude of mankind) champions of private initiative. This glitter only belongs to our science and technolgy, which is harnessed only in a limited manner because of the inherent limitations of the nature of private initiative. Science and technology could be put in a more efficient way and better productive mode by planning by mind than by these few leaders. Such planning of production would be more benificial to mankind and more glittering in appearance.
1 Oct 2007 @ 13:26 by shreepal : Development, progress and planning
What is planning by Mind? What is planning by Desires? There is a general direction along which the human society is moving ahead. The signature tune of this direction is the humans struggle against Nature and their efforts to make this struggle less arduous and more result-yielding, which we call development and progress. This general direction may also be called the goal of human evolution. There is this goal, which constitutes one element in planning things by humans. Then, there are several factors, which are parts of another element in the planning, that may be arranged inter se in different combinations. These factors include man-made socio-economic relations of humans in the given society and natural resources available therein.
And, then there is another element. It is the governing principle that dictates the pattern of this arrangement of the factors. This governing principle determines the "specifics" of manner of arrangement in service of this evolutionary goal. If the governing principle is Mind, it is planning by Mind. If the principle is Desires, it is planning by Desires. There is also a principle that is higher than Desires and Mind and things in society may be arranged in its light, which would be better than the things arranged in the light of Desires or Mind. But the himans collective consciousness today has not reached at the stage where things arranged in the light of this higher principle may be acceptable to them. All this classification is from the relative point of view of human consciousness, which has a concrete reality and is of great importance for the future of human beings in their physical existence.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

First among equals

Fourthly, what is, perhaps, Mathai’s greatest bequest to IIMA: the principle of a single term for the director. After six years as director, Mathai stunned the community by announcing his decision to step down and stay on as professor. He gave two reasons for doing so.
  • One, leaders of academic institutions tended to use their positions for career advancement; this was not good for the institutions.
  • Two, it was important to establish the principle that the director’s position is not hierarchical; he is only first among equals. You are professor, you become director and then you become professor again.

This one contribution of Mathai’s cannot be overstated. In the present scheme of things, the director has sweeping powers. The board of governors does not quite have the monitoring authority of a corporate board. Faculty governance can work only to the extent the director is willing to let it work.

Limiting the director to one term is vital to good governance. It is the knowledge that a director’s actions can be looked into once he has reverted to a faculty role, the certainty that he will be cut dead in the corridors by colleagues whom he has mistreated that acts as a check, however inadequate, on the incumbent.

There is more to Mathai’s enduring impact than his grasp of the principles of good governance in academic institutions. He managed the relationship with government with great skill. He was a superb man-manager with the gift of drawing out the best in people. Above all, he had moral authority: he brought to his office high integrity, a spirit of sacrifice and self-effacement.

India has been fortunate in having had great institution builders. At the national level, we had people of the make of Nehru, Patel and Ambedkar. At the organisational level, we have had the likes of Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai and RK Talwar (of SBI). In that constellation of institution builders, Ravi Mathai shines brightly.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Adolescent motive to aggrandize the individual ego

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Putting economics back to where it was in the firs...": Tusar,
Your next post re babarianism and the Shock Doctrine provide an excellent riposte to the adolescent fools at MR and their celebration of "creative" destruction.
The film/movie of some years ago titled Beavis & Butthead Do America sums up the motives and the actions of the anti-"culture" that these adolescent fools advocate. Two morons who quite literally trash everything they come across. Applied "creative destruction"!!!
Meanwhile a quote.

"When the entire world founds itself on the adolescent motive to aggrandize the individual ego-"I", then everyone is collectively working towards the destruction not only of human culture and mankind itself, but even of the Earth itself, the very vehicle that supports life."

Posted by Anonymous to Savitri Era Political Action at 4:48 AM, December 13, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Economic Barbarism and the neo-conservative agenda

by Rich on Sat 08 Dec 2007 10:04 AM PST Profile Permanent Link I forgot to add when I posted this article, that the disaster Capitalism practiced by the Chicago School of Economics authored by Hayek and Friedman and a standard practice of the neo-conservative agenda is, in my opinion, the incarnation of the Economic Barbarism Sri Aurobindo refers to in the Human Cycle.
Reply by ronjon on Mon 10 Dec 2007 01:59 PM PST Profile Permanent Link What a scary article Rich! Yet it feels true.
  • Do you think that the Chicago School economic fundamentalists believe their Friedman gospel will lead (eventually) to a better world for all (via "trickle down" or whatever)?
  • Or are they self-serving through and through, with no need for justifying rationales?
  • Re IY, I'd be interested in your perspective of how SA's essay on "The Principle of Evil" (posted on SCIY by RYD a couple of weeks ago) might relate to such horrifying practices as the shock doctrine? ~ ronjon

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Putting economics back to where it was in the first place

Tyler Cowen, a top economist blogger at Marginal Revolution (here) is interviewed by KnowledgeWharton (here)
Tyler Cowen is right: “He had an inner drive to get his ideas out there.” I especially liked the second quoted paragraph:
“Adam Smith, was also a moral philosopher. This is returning to the true roots of economics. I think it's the other economists who have been subversive. I'm just putting economics back to where it was in the first place and never should have left. Economics used to be a moral philosophy, very connected to the humanities."
This has got to be the right approach to economics today. Having abandoned so much of the field of political economy as seen by Adam Smith, many economists have retreated into a mystical imaginary world of their own, replete with mathematical abstractions far removed from how economies work with people in them.
The interview is about Tyler Cowen’s book, The Inner Economist. It has persuaded me to get it for myself this Christmas.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Alternatives to capitalist/market version of (commodity) exchange

I think that The Mad Man stands alongside Marcel Mauss’ The Gift and Pierre Klossowski’s La monnaie vivante (Living Money, unfortunately still not published in English translation) as one of the great texts about alternatives to capitalist/market version of (commodity) exchange. trackback 7:31 AM
Graeber discusses Marcel Mauss’ theory of the gift as an alternative to orthodox economic assumptions about the centrality of markets and “exchange”, and Pierre Clastres’ arguments about societies that explicitly sought to avoid the formation of a State. 8:19 AM
Rancière probably wouldn’t like this assimilation, but I think that his theory of art fits well into the Kantian-Deleuzian genealogy of aesthetics that I have been trying to pursue. Kant’s aesthetics has to do with the singularizing limits and extremities of the mental faculties, with the points at which they break down or enter into discord with one another, or (as Deleuze reads Kant) find a harmony only through this discord. In other words, commonality and universality are precisely problems for “aesthetic judgment”; Kant takes commonality and universality for granted in the First and Second Critiques, but problematizes them in the Third. The problem of aesthetic judgment is the problem of communicating things (sensations) that are absolutely singular, and heterogeneous in relation to one another.
In a way, therefore, the problem of aesthetic judgment is the same as the problem of the commodity in Marx (how a universal equivalent can be found for things that in themselves are heterogeneous), and also as the problem of how to find a “common” or commonality or communism that is not just a reductive quantification via translation in terms of the universal equivalent (this is the side of the Marxist problematic that is highlighted in Hardt and Negri’s discussion of “the common”; following it out would seem to involve both thinking Marx and Kant together as Karatani does, and thinking about alternative currencies and trading systems, which Karatani approaces vis his interest in LETS networks, and which Keith Hart has done a lot to illuminate, referring to Mauss’ The Gift as well as to the Marxist tradition)...This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 at 12:11 pm and is filed under Books, Theory. RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback
There is something I miss in Rancière, however, and that is a sense of political economy, as opposed to just politics. This absence may have something to do with Rancière’s rejection of his Althusserian Marxist past. He is certainly aware of the plutocratic aspects of today’s neoliberal network society. He doesn’t make the mistake of focusing all his ire on the State, while ignoring the pseudo-spontaneity of the Market and its financial instruments. But he never addresses, in the course of his account of democracy, the way in which economic organization, as well as political organization, needs to be addressed.
Here, again, is a place where I think that Marx remains necessary (and also, as I said in the previous post, Mauss — as expounded, for example, by Keith Hart). Exploitation cannot be reduced to domination, and the power of money cannot be reduced to the coercive power of the State or of other hierarchies. Aesthetics needs to be coupled with political economy, and not just with politics. So I still find a dimension lacking in Rancière — but he helps, as few contemporary thinkers do, in starting to get us there. This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 at 4:42 pm and is filed under Books, Politics, Theory. RSS 2.0 feed. leave a response, or trackback 5:25 AM 5:33 AM

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Freedom is a necessary, or at least contributory, condition, though never a sufficient one

In fact, this is one of my central deviations from Schuon, as he obviously felt profoundly alienated by modernity, let alone postmodernity. Thus, he insisted that premodern traditional societies best reflected man's true needs -- that they embodied eternal principles that made man's soul feel "at home," so to speak. I don't buy this for a second, even though I do see his point.
While I certainly don't idealize the postmodern West -- about which there is much to criticize and from which to feel deeply alienated -- there is still no doubt that, if you are so inclined, it offers the average person the greatest opportunity in history for self-willed spiritual development, if only because it provides the time and the space to do so -- i.e., the slack. Don't blame the modern West if you waste your precious slack on video games, the New York Times, and other trivialities. As Dilys put it in a comment the other day,
"In this catastrophic historical moment (like perhaps all others not rotting and static), I think the argument is that liberty and prosperity best create the tear in the collective-illusion fence for humans at all levels" to live in proximity to the sacred, "if one is so disposed. At this point freedom is a necessary, or at least contributory, condition, though never a sufficient one [emphasis mine]. And arguments about misused freedom, 24/7 celebrity culture etc., do not demonstrate that un-free is better.
"Enforced communalism, or the tribal scheme in which resources, time, and prestige are scarce and rationed, offer no such opportunity to the ordinary man, though aristocrats might be better placed. Those arguing for the now-imaginary traditional arrangements I believe imagine themselves stationed among the privileged, not the slaves."
Exactly. If Schuon had publicized his ideas in the traditional cultures he idealizes, he'd be lucky if they didn't burn him at the stake. Imagine telling some medieval cleric your ideas about the "transcendent unity of religions." That wouldn't exactly be compatible with survival, any more than it would be to live in the Muslim world and insist that Judaism is every bit as "absolute" as Islam. Please. Ironically, saying such a thing is only possible in the postmodern world (although perhaps India as well, which has always welcomed religious pluralism).
Now, there are two reasons Schuon could freely publicize his ideas in the postmodern west. First, because people don't take religion seriously, and second, because they take it so very seriously. While he was all too aware of the first, he didn't seem to appreciate the irony of the second, despite his small but devoted following. In other words, because of multiculturalism and moral relativism, many contemporary people regard religion has a hopelessly subjective and unprovable enterprise, so your personal beliefs are of no consequence, so long as you don't hurt anyone or try to force them upon others. But what Schuon missed about modernity -- in particular, within America -- was the deep spiritual hunger that has always animated us.
Sri Aurobindo differed with Schuon with regard to traditional societies, which he called "conventional." The problem is, traditional societies begin with the living impulse of spirit, but eventually contain and suppress the very impulse that gave birth to them. We see this time and again in history. Not only is this what animated the Protestant revolt against Catholicism, but it is what has animated most every sect and schism since.
As Rodney Stark wrote in For the Glory of God, people who split off into sects do not do so because they want to have some watered-down version of religion. To the contrary, with the exception of cults (which have an entirely different psychology), they are composed of people who have become dissatisfied with convention and are seeking greater religious intensity.
Of traditional, or what he called "conventional" societies, Aurobindo observed that they tend to "arrange firmly, to formalise, to erect a system... to stereotype religion, to bind education and training to a traditional and unchangeable form, to subject thought to infallible authorities, to cast a stamp of finality on what seems to it the finished life of man." In short, this is precisely what Mead meant by static religion.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Market-driven competitive journalism will hurt the long-term interest of our political system

Opinion - Parliamentary democracy & some challenges Somnath Chatterjee
The Hindu Thursday, Nov 15, 2007 Because of the competitive and confrontational politics that has overtaken the country today, Parliament cannot appropriately discharge its essential functions.
Intolerance, divisiveness, corruption, confrontations and disrespect to dissent are increasingly vitiating our socio-political system. Added to this is the attempt by some institutions to malign and marginalise important people’s forums with an intent to occupy larger space than what is ideally feasible or constitutionally permissible in a representative democratic system. Judicial activism is sought to be justified because of the perceived decline in the effectiveness of parliamentary accountability. Frequent interventions in the exclusive jurisdiction of the legislature will only contribute to further eroding the authority of Parliament.
Nobody is talking of an alternative to, or substitute for, parliamentary democracy. With the realisation that it is out of our Parliament that the leadership that runs the affairs of our country emerges, we have to ensure that political workers, specially young men and women with commitment and dedication to the cause of the people, come into Parliament and actively participate in working the system. As the Presiding Officer of the popular House of Parliament, it has been my endeavour to help enhance its image. In recent years we have taken several initiatives to take Parliament closer to the people.
The introduction of a full-fledged 24-hour Lok Sabha TV channel and a Parliamentary Lecture Series, the creation of various parliamentary forums to ensure more effective involvement of the people’s representatives in matters that require concerted national attention; the creation of more opportunities for MPs to have discussions and interactions with social activists, intellectuals, the academia, and so on, are all meant to ensure an effective interface between civil society and the representative body of the people.
By expelling 10 MPs for their involvement in the ‘cash-for-query’ scam, and by suspending others for different periods for various misdemeanours, Parliament has set an example. But these initiatives are not projected properly to help enhance people’s respect for democratic institutions. The media, rather than becoming the prophets of doom and contributing to the loss of the people’s faith in the institutions, should endeavour to reinforce their trust in them. They would do well to remember that only in a democracy does free media flourish. Market-driven competitive journalism will hurt the long-term interest of our political system. Once democratic institutions lose popular trust, it could very well herald the beginning of anarchy.
The cynicism that is creeping into the minds of the people, specially the youth, about our democratic structure should be removed by the proper functioning of the people’s most important institution, so that bright young citizens do not get disinterested about participation in public affairs and politics. All stakeholders in our democracy have to unitedly work with dedication, commitment, cooperation and self-discipline to find lasting solutions to safeguard parliamentary democracy from the tremendous strains experienced today and to strengthen it.
The question that we all, particularly, today’s youth, need to ask ourselves is, should we always be the beneficiaries of the system or should we not come forward to contribute to transform the quality of our polity and to make a positive impact on the socio-economic fortunes of the people. Attracting the right talent — honest, well-meaning, public-spirited and educated youth — into the arena of politics and public life is an important challenge before our democracy.
Our youth and particularly the students have to take on the onus of addressing the aberrations and for removing the various ills plaguing our society and to provide dynamic and committed leadership to change the system for the better. Politics in the country today carries with it an image of intrigue, venality, disorder and anarchy. We need to correct it urgently, so that our people begin to view politics as a respectable profession in the service of society as was perceived during the long years of our struggle for freedom. Only the youth can help correct this image. Remember that only democracy gives you the power to participate in the political process, express your opinion and thus to be a factor in bringing about positive changes in the socio-economic condition of the country.
(Based on the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture, titled Status of Parliamentary Democracy in India, delivered by Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, on November 14.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Left erodes individuality by equating the will with futility

Now, the West has its own version of a dysfunctional ideology that puts up obstacles to personal development and which runs counter to the Adventure of Consciousness: the psycho-spiritual left in all its insidious varieties and permutations...
Another way of saying it is that the left erodes individuality by equating the will with futility, so that the adventure of consciousness can never get off the ground...Immorality is the rule in history; it hardly needs explanation. Decency is the exception 2:47 PM The Adventure of Reality and How to Avoid It from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob

Shri Rajagopalachari's vision of a civilized society

Our first Governor General and Philosopher Shri Rajagopalachari's vision of a civilized society was to see a man, woman or a child regardless of the social status, or religious affiliation to be able to walk on any place in India, any time of the day or night without fear. We can make that happen, if we prosecute the criminals particularly those criminals who hold political offices and besmirch the nation and its people; and show to the society that we believe in Justice.
As a civilized society, we should not let any one hide in the garb of Religion. It insults the religion, and the criminals go Scot-free. Our Civil and Criminal laws on the books should be used against all people involved in Godhra train burning and the Gujarat massacre. No one should be above the law. When every Indian believes that Justice will be served, and no one will take advantage of the other, that brings trust in government and peace in the nation allowing people to focus on prosperity... Gujarat - Punish the Guilty from Desicritics by Mike Ghouse

Monday, November 12, 2007

Being is always, in the first instance, political

The "Wrenching Duality" of Aesthetics: Kant, Deleuze, and the "Theory of the Sensible"
Steven Shaviro November 10, 2007
If there’s anything that Left and Right today agree upon, it’s the absolute incompatibilty between aesthetic values and political ones. As Marx said, "the philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it." Hallward is wary of the way that Deleuze’s thought overtly valorizes "contemplation" and aesthetic experience for their own sakes. But this attitude, opposing aesthetic contemplation to political action, is precisely mirrored on the right: for example, in the way that neoconservative art critics like Hilton Kramer (1985) and Roger Kimball (2004) exalt the supposedly transcendent values of art, in opposition to any sort of politicization (either of art, or of experience more generally.
This unseemly coincidence of Left and Right is something that Deleuze, among his many virtues, helps us to get away from. For there is no contradiction between Deleuze’s valuing of aesthetic contemplation, and his insistence (with Guattari) that Being is always, in the first instance, political. Just as there is no contradiction (but rather, a mutual implication) between Deleuze’s insistence that everything is historical and contingent, and his insistence upon what he calls "eternal truths."
Contemplation is not the "interpretation" that Marx decried, but precisely a mode in which philosophical interpretation is suspended. In the aesthetic, we no longer explain things away, as philosophical apologetics have so often done; instead, we are forced to feel the intolerable intensity of the actual. Hallward reads this as the paralysis of any possibility of action; but it is rather, for Deleuze, a necessary condition and generative factor in any sort of truly radical action, any action that does not just reproduce and ratify the order of things as they are. And "eternal truths," which are highlighted precisely in aesthetic contemplation, are absolute singularities, relations and qualities that cannot be generalized, but only communicated in their very refusal to be pacified and subsumed.
For Deleuze, the aesthetic is not a sufficient condition for the political, but it is a necessary one. And if aesthetics is not subordinated to politics, this is because both are necessary, and both irreducible... Deleuze’s Aesthetics from The Pinocchio Theory by Steven Shaviro

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The entire political system looks for opportunistic advantages at all times

Home > Edits & Columns > State of the Centre T. S. R. Subramanian
Indian Express: Friday, November 09, 2007
To have unfettered ability to push through major policy measures, it is a requirement of democracy that a party should have absolute majority. Unfortunately this is not the case now. It will, therefore, be inappropriate for the Congress to blame its coalition partners. After all, what is seen as “reform” by one party may not be seen as such by all the others, whether they are partners or not.
It would have been ideal to have a two- or three-party system of governance at the Centre. Unfortunately the political system that has evolved does not make for this. There is much unprincipled practice of petty politics as has been displayed by all concerned in the decades after independence. Splitting of parties, opportunistic desertions, horse-trading, vote-bank politics, surrender of ideologies for petty gains, and the like, have all been displayed by various parties at various times. Many observers have suggested diverse solutions — single transferable votes, a presidential form of government, ban on post-poll alliances, and the like. The fact is the entire political system looks for opportunistic advantages at all times. Astonishingly, the Venkatachellaiah Commission had pronounced, not too long ago, that our Constitution is perfect. Clearly this is not so... The writer was cabinet secretary to the GOI between 1996 and 1998 7:45 PM

Friday, November 9, 2007

Arya means an effort or an uprising and overcoming

FROM THE "ARYA" What is the significance of the name, "Arya" ? Referring to the Word "Aryan written in Devanagari characters on the cover of the philosophical monthly Arya. Sri Aurobindo
THE question has been put from more than one point of view. To most European readers the name¹ figuring on our cover is likely to be a hieroglyph which attracts or repels according to the temperament. Indians know the word, but it has lost for them the significance which it bore to their forefathers. Western Philology has converted it into a racial term, an unknown ethnological quantity on which different speculations fix different values. Now, even among the philologists, some are beginning to recognise that the word in its original use expressed not a difference of race, but a difference of culture. For in the Veda the Aryan peoples are those who had accepted a particular type of self-culture, of inward and outward practice, of ideality, of aspiration. The Aryan gods were the supraphysical powers who assisted the mortal in his struggle towards the nature of the godhead. All the highest aspirations of the, early human race, its noblest religious temper, its most idealistic velleities of thought are summed up in this single vocable.
In later times, the word Arya expressed a particular ethical and social ideal, an ideal of well-governed life, candour, courtesy, nobility, straight dealing, courage, gentleness, purity, humanity, compassion, protection of the weak, liberality, observance of social duty, eagerness for knowledge, respect for the wise and learned, the social accomplishments. It was the combined ideal of the Brahmana and the Kshatriya. Everything that departed from this ideal, everything that tended towards the ignoble, mean, obscure, rude, oruel or false, was termed un-Aryan. There is no word in human speech that has a nobler history.
In the early days of comparative Philology, when the scholars sought in the history of words for the prehistoric history of peoples, it was supposed that the word Arya came from the root at, to plough, and that the Vedic Aryans were so called when they separated from their kin in the north-west who despised the pursuits of agriculture and remained shepherds and hunters. This ingenious speculation has little or nothing to support it. But in a sense we may accept the derivation. Whoever cultivates the field that the Supreme Spirit has made for him, his earth of plenty within and without, does not leave it barren or allow it to run to seed, but labours to exact from it its full yield, is by that effort an Aryan.
If Arya were a purely racial term, a more probable derivation would be at, meaning strength or valour, from ar to fight, whence we have the name of the Greek war-god Ares, areios, brave or warlike, perhaps even aretê, virtue, signifying, like the Latin virtus, first, physical strength and courage and then moral force and elevation. This sense of the word also we may accept. "We fight to win sublime Wisdom, therefore men call us warriors." For Wisdom implies the choice as well as the knowledge of that which is best, noblest, most luminous, most divine. Certainly, it means also the knowledge of all things and charity and reverence for all things, even the most apparently mean, ugly or dark, for the sake of the universal Deity who chooses to dwell equally in all. But, also, the law of right action is a choice, the preference of that which expresses the godhead to that which conceals it. And the choice entails a battle, a struggle. It is not easily made, it is not easily enforced.
Whoever makes that choice, whoever seeks to climb from level to level up the hill of the divine, fearing nothing, deterred by no retardation or defeat, shrinking from no vastness because it is too vast for his intelligence, no height because it is too high for his spirit, no greatness because it is too great for his force and courage, he is the Aryan, the divine fighter and victor, the noble man, aristos, best, the srestha of the Gita.
Intrinsically, in its most fundamental sense, Arya means an effort or an uprising and overcoming. The Aryan is he who strives and overcomes all outside him and within him that stands opposed to the human advance. Self-conquest is the first law of his nature. He overcomes earth and the body and does not consent like ordinary men to their dullness, inertia, dead routine and tamasic limitations. He overcomes life and its energies and refuses to be dominated by their hungers and cravings or enslaved by their rajasic passions. He overcomes the mind and its habits, he does not live in a shell of ignorance, inherited prejudices, customary ideas, pleasant opinions, but knows how to seek and choose, to be large and flexible in intelligence even as he is firm and strong in his will. For in everything he seeks truth, in every thing right, in everything height and freedom.
Self-perfection is the aim of his self-conquest. Therefore what he conquers he does not destroy, but ennobles and fulfils. He knows that the body, life and mind are given him in order to attain to something higher than they; therefore they must be transcended and overcome, their limitations denied, the absorption of their gratifications rejected. But he knows also that the Highest is something which is no nullity in the world, but increasingly expresses itself here, - a divine Will, Consciousness, Love, Beatitude which pours itself out, when found, through the terms of the lower life on the finder and on all in his environment that is capable of receiving it. Of that he is the servant, lover and seeker. When it is attained, he pours it forth in work, love, joy . and knowledge upon mankind. For always the Aryan is a worker and warrior. He spares himself no labour of mind or body whether to seek the Highest or to serve it. He avoids no difficulty, he accepts no cessation from fatigue. Always he fights for the coming of that kingdom within himself and in the world.
The Aryan perfected is the Arhat. There is a transcendent Consciousness which surpasses the universe and of which all these worlds are only a side-issue and a by-play. To that consciousness he aspires and attains. There is a Consciousness which, being transcendent, is yet the universe and all that the universe contains. Into that consciousness he enlarges his limited ego; he becomes one with all beings and all inanimate objects in a single self-awareness, love, delight, all-embracing energy. There is a consciousness which, being both transcendental and universal, yet accepts the apparent limitations of individuality for work, for various standpoints of knowledge, for the play of the Lord with His creations; for the ego is there that it may finally convert itself into a free centre of the divine work and the divine play. That consciousness too he has sufficient love, joy and knowledge to accept; he is puissant enough to effect that con- version.
To embrace individuality after transcending it is the last and divine sacrifice. The perfect Arhat is he who is able to live simultaneously in all these three apparent states of existence, elevate the lower into the higher, receive the higher into the lower, so that he may represent perfectly in the symbols of the world that with which he is identified in all parts of his being, - the triple and triune Brahman. Page -396 Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > The Hour Of God Volume-17 > Arya

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Advancing the collective good, and simultaneously minimising and mitigating the costs borne by some sections Who needs democracy?
8 Nov, 2007 T K Arun
Indian industry needs democracy, and desperately. The Indian economy’s sustained growth today is hostage to incomplete democracy, never mind all that champagne spilled on plush carpets of the rich growing richer while toasting the vaulting Sensex. Today, millions of Indians can only stand and stare as spectators while a tiny minority races, twinkle-toed, towards prosperity. Unless these resentful bystanders are transformed into joyous members of the procession, the music will soon stop and the dancing turn into a stampede of the kind that follows a bomb blast at a public place.
Cassandra-like scaremongering? Many Latin American countries have registered decent growth rates under the iron rule of military dictators. So did Korea till the late nineties. Assorted authoritarian governments have presided over impressive economic performance in much of east and south-east Asia for long periods. Even today, the fastest growing large economy of the world, China, is governed by an authoritarian, rather than a democratic, regime. So why should India alone need democracy for sustained growth?
In fact, it is often argued that India’s democracy is actually a hindrance when it comes to economic growth. After all, democracy does mean slower decisionmaking, if not endless dither, with all its greedy politicians, bungling bureaucrats, miles of red tape, self-seeking unions, environmental fundamentalists, trigger-happy litigants, other assorted, competing stakeholders, all translating into a thousand outstretched palms waiting to be greased. So, from the point of view of economic growth, shouldn’t industry be happy with less, rather than more, democracy? After all, businessmen do have access to bureaucrats and politicians, apart from to resources, to insulate themselves from any excess of authoritarian state power.
We could, if we want to, examine the vast literature examining the relationship between capitalism and democracy, their parallel historical growth, their shared common foundations in the freedom of individuals, institutional rather than arbitrary functioning, etc. Decentralised decision-making, which is at the heart of a vibrant, competitive market economy, cannot really happen in an authoritarian political structure, which would curtail freedoms of choice and action in assorted spheres.
So, authoritarian polities are unlikely to produce sustained efficiency in the economies they govern. China, for instance, curtails consumption to save and invest more than half its output, to produce 10% growth. India, on its part, consumes as much as two-thirds of its output and squeezes out 9% growth from the one-third of its output that it saves and invests. Clearly, India’s bumbling democracy is not all that inefficient when it comes to making effective use of resources!
But the practical point is that it is not possible for India to dispense with democracy, whether to rid the economy of the inconveniences arising from democracy or for any other such noble enterprise. It would make more sense to see how deepening democracy is likely to remove key constraints holding back India’s growth.
Consider some of the constraints.
Inability to obtain land for large projects. Nandigram has become a metaphor for forcible acquisition of agricultural land for industrial development and the violent resistance that follows. In a country where 40% of farmers report themselves as being reluctant tillers of the soil who would happily pursue some other occupation if it were available, the only reason farmers still resist industrial advance is that they see no stake for themselves in that development. Rather, they see themselves being deprived of their basic source of sustenance, with only bleak uncertainty about the future being offered as compensation.
This is failure of democracy. Advancing the collective good, and simultaneously minimising and mitigating the costs borne by some sections while pursuing that common good, are integral to democracy. This does not happen in India. People have no faith it would happen, even if it is promised by politicians and the administration. This reflects absence of real empowerment of the people, which is the cornerstone of democracy.
This failure of democracy gets compounded by the forms of competitive politics characteristic of democracy. It is easy for anyone to finance a local agitation against a new industrial venture. Posco, the Korean steel major that came to India with a $12 billion project, has not been able to get going after years of struggle with the political and administrative establishment. A stone throwing mob, assembled easily enough, is enough to close down organised retail in Uttar Pradesh.
Consider communal and caste violence that simmers under the surface, fanned by cynical politics that feeds, ultimately, on the huge gap between the political and social consciousness of much of India and the norms of liberal democracy enshrined in the Constitution.
Or consider shortage of electricity. The problem here is theft —patronised, ultimately, by politics. If one-third of an industry’s output is stolen with impunity, that industry cannot grow. Patronage of power theft is part of a larger malaise. The entire exchequer is seen by the political class as fair game, the rightful fruit of power. This just would not happen in a system where the people have some real control over the government supposedly working for them.
Or consider the traffic snarls in Bangalore or Mumbai. The state governments’ apathy has its roots in another failure of democracy, the huge disconnect between the prosperity of the cities and life in the countryside, where the voters reside.
And let us not forget the harsh reality that more than one-fourth of India’s 593 districts are now officially classified as Naxalite-affected. Civil strife takes a daily toll in Kashmir, the Northeast and different other parts of the country. Not just the bomb blasts that are large enough to grab wide attention, but also the violence that breaks out sporadically over road accidents or petty theft betray social tensions all stemming from a sad deficit of democracy.
For an environment free of the threat of random violence and crime, crucial for security of life and prosperity, industry needs democracy to grow. There is no alternative.