Monday, September 14, 2009

A no-waste community with people living in peace constantly innovating and inventing

Imagining a new tech savy India CIOL - Bangalore, Karnataka, India The fact Auroville has been successful in India shows it is possible. ... Think Auroville. Just look South to Puducherry. Auroville is not only a self ...
Think Green. Think Technology. Think Auroville
Deepa Kandaswamy
NEW DELHI, INDIA: Monday, September 14, 2009

Imagine what an incredible India we could create if we followed the example of Auroville. We would be self sufficient in power and basic needswith solar roofs, desalination plants, recycling and processing plants, wind turbines in the garden, hybrid vehicles, green communication, and e-governance. Nothing is free and we would require discipline. The fact Auroville has been successful in India shows it is possible. [...] So here is what can be done to end the recession.

Ban Personal Income Tax: Indians are taxed in so many different ways that makes personal income tax completely unnecessary. So, for starters, the government should ban income tax on individuals. This will put more money in the hands of people who will spend it instead of the government creating schemes or handouts.

Kill Socialism: India needs to kill socialism that is spreading like the swine flu in government and disinvest in public sector enterprises. The logic is government subsidizes failures of government owned public sector enterprises as it belongs to no one and repeatedly allows unions of these companies to blackmail politicians for votes. A government is there to govern and not run businesses. We require a real laissez faire government as it means hands off.

Bankruptcy Laws: We need bankruptcy laws to encourage entrepreneurs and new companies and protect old companies. In India, if a private enterprise fails due to outdated laws and others which are retrospective in nature, failure of private enterprises is not just due to incompetence but also due to laws that actually prevent a person(s) from becoming an entrepreneur.

Private Banking: There is a big need for more private banks, especially at the local level. A good model would be the SEWA bank run by women in Gujarat. Not only do they provide credit for those with little access to it, they are prime movers in encouraging entrepreneurship among those with talent and ideas. They create competition in the financial sector which have few players and is monopolized by the government.

Triple No: There should be no SEZ projects, no quotas in any form and no subsidizing failures by the government. All these measures kill genuine competition and create artificial regions and companies of growth in the country. We have a competent private sector that can grow on their own without government pull or pressure. Companies dont need handouts or interference. This will go a long way towards removing corruption in the system.

Environment as a Financial Component: While designing or managing a company, so far we dont do environmental budgeting. We need to do so as at least from now on as global warming is felt by everyone now. It is not a topic which can be avoided or skipped over anymore. Environmental degradation comes at a financial cost that is real. This is a challenge but also an opportunity. It provides a chance for new entrepreneurs, especially those who can develop e-friendly technology or solve environmental problems at a small and medium scale. This goes towards solving the larger problem and also makes money.

The recession is an opportunity to face the monumental challenges and to redefine or change our fundamental way of doing business. With the governmental ban on income tax, it would give us an opportunity and the resources to refashion and redesign the world we live in. The way forward is not to go on as before.

For a long time, India has been growing despite the government and not because of it, unlike China. Many think China is the ideal model but this is false as it is on the brink of a revolution anytime as their growth is artificial which comes at the cost of human rights and environmental destruction. With a truly laissez faire government in India, we might have a real chance at ending the recession and becoming the leaders in the world, instead of being second-hand superpowers.

Inventions and innovations are happening in India but are usually sponsored by powers abroad. It is time India became a showcase of technology with mind boggling structures powered by renewable energy power plants run and owned at the local level. It is time to think differenting design and execution.

Think Green. Think Technology. Think Auroville. Just look South to Puducherry. Auroville is not only a self sufficient community but follows a no-waste community with people living in peace constantly innovating and inventing. For example, their water recycling system, where they dont waste a drop of water is something that can be copied or replicated and needs to be adopted nationwide. Here, politicians dont interfere and are easily approachable. You dont hear of strikes and power plays in Puducherry. It is Bengalurus consumerism model but Aurovilles sustainable designs that is the way forward. As techies, we need to learn the new way.

Imagine what an incredible India we could create if we followed this example. Nothing is free and we would require discipline. The fact Auroville has been successful in India shows it is possible. We would not only prove to be a model country for the world to follow but also help stop global warming substantially. That is when India would become a real leader like we were 5,000 years ago. It is our time again. (The author is the founder-moderator of the IndianWISE e-group)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Soul's brotherhood and the death of egoism

Srikant has left a new comment on your post "It was the effect of yoga of Sri Aurobindo that fa...":

The communistic principle of society is intrinsically as superior to the individualistic as is brotherhood to jealousy and mutual slaughter; but all the practical schemes of Socialism invented in Europe are a yoke, a tyranny and a prison.

If communism ever re-establishes itself successfully upon earth, it must be on a foundation of soul's brotherhood and the death of egoism. A forced association and a mechanical comradeship would end in a world-wide fiasco.- Sri Aurobindo ( SABCL 17, p.117)

Democracy was the protest of the human soul against the allied despotisms of autocrat, priest and noble; Socialism is the protest of the human soul against the despotism of a plutocratic democracy; Anarchism is likely to be the protest of the human soul against the tyranny of a bureaucratic Socialism. A turbulent and eager march from illusion to illusion and from failure to failure is the image of European progress. (SABCL-17, Page-119)

Democracy in Europe is the rule of the Cabinet minister, the corrupt deputy or the self-seeking capitalist masqued by the occasional sovereignty of a wavering populace. Socialism in Europe is likely to be the rule of the official and policeman masqued by the theoretic sovereignty of an abstract State. It is chimerical to enquire which is the better system; it would be difficult to decide which is the worse.- Sri Aurobindo (SABCL 17, P.120) Posted by Srikant to Marketime at 11:57 PM, September 11, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hospitality, not hostility

A cosmopolitan anthropology via The Memory Bank by keith on 9/10/09
Emergent world society is the new human universal – not an idea, but the fact of our shared occupation of the planet crying out for new principles of association. I wish to explore the possible contribution of anthropology to such a project. If the academic discipline as presently constituted would find it hard to address this task, perhaps we need to look elsewhere for a suitable intellectual strategy.

Immanuel Kant published Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view in 1798. The book was based on lectures he had given at the university since 1772-3. Kant’s aim was to attract the general public to an independent discipline whose name he more than anyone contributed to academic life. Remarkably, histories of anthropology have rarely mentioned this work, perhaps because the discipline has evolved so far away from Kant’s original premises. But it would pay us to take his Anthropology seriously, if only for its resonance with our own times.

Shortly before, Kant wrote Perpetual peace: a philosophical sketch. The last quarter of the eighteenth century saw its own share of ‘globalization’ — the American and French revolutions, the rise of British industry and the international movement to abolish slavery. Kant knew that coalitions of states were gearing up for war, yet he responded to this sense of the world coming closer together by proposing how humanity might form society as world citizens beyond the boundaries of states. He held that ‘cosmopolitan right’, the basic right of all world citizens, should rest on conditions of universal hospitality, that is, on the right of a stranger not to be treated with hostility when he arrives on someone else’s territory. In other words, we should be free to go wherever we like in the world, since it belongs to all of us equally. His confident sense of an emergent world order, written over 200 years ago, can now be seen as the high point of the liberal revolution, before it was overwhelmed by its twin offspring, industrial capitalism and the nation-state. The task of building a global civil society for the twenty-first century, even a world state, is an urgent one and anthropological visions should play their part in that.

This is the context for my reading of Kant’s Anthropology. He elsewhere summarized ‘philosophy in the cosmopolitan sense of the word’ as four questions:
What can I know?
What should I do?
What may I hope for?
What is a human being?
The first question is answered in metaphysics, the second in morals, the third in religion and the fourth in anthropology.

But the first three questions ‘relate to anthropology’, he said, and might be subsumed under it. Kant conceived of anthropology as an empirical discipline, but also as a means of moral and cultural improvement. It was thus both an investigation into human nature and, more especially, into how to modify it, as a way of providing his students with practical guidance and knowledge of the world. He intended his lectures to be ‘popular’ and of value in later life. Above all, the Anthropology was to contribute to the progressive political task of uniting world citizens by identifying the source of their ‘cosmopolitan bonds’. The book thus moves between mundane illustrations and Kant’s most sublime vision, using anecdotes close to home as a bridge to horizon thinking.

If for Kant the two divisions of anthropology were physiological and pragmatic, he preferred to concentrate on the latter — ‘what the human being as a free actor can and should make of himself’. This is based primarily on observation, but it also involves the construction of moral rules. The book has two parts, the first and longer being on empirical psychology and divided into sections on cognition, aesthetics and ethics. Part 2 is concerned with the character of human beings at every level from the individual to the species, seen from both the inside and the outside. Anthropology is the practical arm of moral philosophy. It does not explain the metaphysics of morals which are categorical and transcendent; but it is indispensable to any interaction involving human agents. It is thus ‘pragmatic’ in a number of senses: it is ‘everything that pertains to the practical’, popular (as opposed to academic) and moral in that it is concerned with what people should do, with their motives for action.

In his Preface, Kant acknowledges that anthropological science has some way to go methodologically. People act self-consciously when they are being observed and it is often hard to distinguish between self-conscious action and habit. For this reason, he recommends as aids ‘world history, biographies and even plays and novels’. The latter, while being admittedly inventions, are often based on close observation of real behaviour and add to our knowledge of human beings. He thought that the main value of his book lay in its systematic organization, so that readers could incorporate their experience into it and develop new themes appropriate to their own lives. Historians and philosophers are divided between those who find the book marginal to Kant’s thought and those for whom it is just muddled and banal. And the anthropologists have ignored it entirely. This was a mistake. [...]

Anthropology does not sit well with the modern university. We retain the will to range freely across disciplinary boundaries; the humanism and democracy entailed in our methods contradict the bureaucratic imperatives of corporate privatization at every turn. Anthropology has always been an anti-discipline, a holding company for idiosyncratic individuals to do what they like and call it ‘anthropology’. [...]

The rapid development of global communications today contains within its movement a far-reaching transformation of world society. ‘Anthropology’ in some form is one of the intellectual traditions best suited to make sense of it. The academic seclusion of the discipline, its passive acquiescence to bureaucracy, is the chief obstacle preventing us from grasping this historical opportunity. We cling to our revolutionary commitment to joining the people, but have forgotten what it was for or what else is needed, if we are to succeed in helping to build a universal society. The internet is a wonderful chance to open up the flow of knowledge and information. Rather than obsessing over how we can control access to what we write, which means cutting off the mass of humanity almost completely from our efforts, we need to figure out new interactive forms of engagement that span the globe and to make the results of our work available to everyone. Ever since the internet went public and the World Wide Web was invented, I have made online self-publishing and interaction the core of my anthropological practice. And recently I have stumbled into what may turn out to be the most powerful vehicle for this project yet: the
Open Anthropology Cooperative.

It matters less that an academic guild should retain its monopoly of access to knowledge than that ‘anthropology’ should be taken up by a broad intellectual coalition for whom the realization of a new human universal – a world society fit for humanity as a whole — is a matter of urgent personal concern. Paper presented at the inaugural conference of the Centre for Cosmopolitan Studies, University of St. Andrews, ‘A cosmopolitan anthropology?’, 15-16th September 2009