Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

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shiv
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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 28 Jan 2015 08:55

Satya_anveshi wrote: However, when that is extended to monotheists, that door is shut. So, basically, it is the usage of freedom and denying the very same at the core of it. That is a contradiction in extending that freedom to 'propagate.'


LOL Correct!

Religion itself is a restriction of freedom. The rigid rules, single book, single god etc are al restrcitions of freedom. So what the fug does "Freedom to restrict freedom mean? :lol:

The more I think about it - the more I feel that even the most modern democracies - or nations that call themselves modern "secular" democracies are still hurt and threatened by the shadow of religion so that they keep on harping on "freedom of religion" in exactly the same way as others are compelled to say PBUH or SAW.

Religion and Freedom have nothing in common. If you have freedom of religion then you can have freedom of dictatorship, oligarchy, communism etc. All freedom to restrict others' freedoms should be allowable.

India was never "One religion" - and that is why religions were innocently allowed unfettered entry until they raped society - pretending that it is great to have one religion, one book one god etc. Western Universalism makes a serious error in imagining that the opposite of religion is atheism. It is not., The opposite of one religion is many religions and atheism - all being disallowed coercion.

Obama said it right in his speech. he said "Non violence is good". Now go and read the history of Christian and Islamic violence and then talk about violence.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 28 Jan 2015 09:04

Shiv ji: Look at the issue from a state's perspective. The freedom to profess and follow a belief system, albeit for a majority some religion, organized or not is the context. The context is not about the state's role in "freedom" within a particular religion or types of them. The idea being that the state shall make laws that would require its citizens to place the law above the canons and practices of the professed religions, if in conflict. The freedom exists, subject to law.

If one goes back to the "exclusivity" doctrines of some religions, then it misses the point, IMO.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 28 Jan 2015 09:17

ShauryaT wrote:Shiv ji: Look at the issue from a state's perspective. The freedom to profess and follow a belief system, albeit for a majority some religion, organized or not is the context. The context is not about the state's role in "freedom" within a particular religion or types of them. The idea being that the state shall make laws that would require its citizens to place the law above the canons and practices of the professed religions, if in conflict. The freedom exists, subject to law.

If one goes back to the "exclusivity" doctrines of some religions, then it misses the point, IMO.

The state is showing a misunderstanding of religion by doing that. That precisely the problem. The state is trying to do one-up on religion that existed for many centuries before the nation state by throwing some scraps at religion and trying to "pacify religion" as it were by saying "You are allowed to do what you want to do at a personal level, but ultimately I call the shots".

But down on the ground the state has to get involved with religion. For example if a religion says that desecration of a holy book should cause the person who did that to be killed, the state has to either agree or disagree with that. A secular state cannot agree with that - and has to restrict religion. For this reason the British sought to define exactly where religion would end and where the state would rule - never an easy exercise with a violent exclusivist religion.

In India these issues get amplified manifold because all religions have had unfettered freedom. But unfettered freedom of Christianity and Islam necessarily mean restriction of freedom for some other faiths because of the structure of those religions. Turning a blind eye to the "context" is a cop out and an abrogation of state responsibility.

The state can simply say "No violence. No coercion. No running down of other gods and religions". That is better than saying "Freedom of religion and therefore freedom to run down and criticize the other god"

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 28 Jan 2015 15:47

I think this concept of 'freedom' needs some rethinking. Freedom ( just like 'equality' ) is also largely a mirage. There is no such thing as absolute freedom as long as we are all interdependent on each other.

True freedom entails duties ,responsibilities and ethics.

'Freedom' as derived by WU is mainly a desire to be free from Christianity ( aka secularism ).

We need to understand this better, otherwise we will continue yakking about 'freedom of speech', 'freedom of religion' and so on.

Meanwhile we have this
http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/ ... 640920.ece

MUMBAI: A day after row erupted over a Republic Day advertisement of Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Shiv Sena today demanded "permanent deletion" of the words 'secular' and 'socialist' from the Constitution.

An acrimonious war of words had broken out between political parties yesterday when an advertisement issued by the I&B Ministry carried a picture of the Preamble to the Constitution as it appeared before the 42nd Amendment, without the words 'secular' and 'socialist'.

"We welcome the exclusion of the (secular and socialist) words from the Republic Day advertisement. Though it might have been done inadvertently, it is like honouring the feelings of the people of India. If these words were deleted by mistake this time, they should be deleted from the Constitution permanently," Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.

"From the time they (the words) were included in the Constitution, it is being said that this country can never be secular. Balasaheb Thackeray and before him Veer Savarkar had been saying that India was divided on the lines of religion. Pakistan was created for Muslims, thus, what remains is a Hindu Rashtra," Raut said.

The minority community has been used only for political gains, while "Hindus are being continuously disrespected," he alleged.

"It is nowhere written in the Constitution that you mete out such treatment to Hindus and use Muslims to garner votes," he said.

"This mistake on the part of the government has happened only because destiny wants this to happen. Modi is the Prime Minister of India, and his thoughts on Hindutva are strong," the Sena leader said.

Yesterday, Congress leader Manish Tewari had attacked the Centre on the issue, claiming the government advertisement "deleted" the two words, which was only a prelude to their "substitution" with "communal" and "corporate".

Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore, however, was quick to dismiss the charge, saying his ministry had only used an "original" picture of the Preamble as it appeared before the Amendment, to "honour" the first Preamble.

The Union Minister also claimed that the same picture had been used in an advertisement by the I&B Ministry in April 2014. Tewari had helmed the ministry at that time.

The advertisement showed a picture of the Preamble in the background with a quote from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pictures of some citizens in the foreground.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby A_Gupta » 28 Jan 2015 17:30

Relevant:
http://www.hipkapi.com/2013/03/10/the-s ... pluralism/

Let us now summarise the four choices the Indian secular state has to make. (a) The ‘Hindu traditions’ and the ‘Semitic religions’ are phenomena of the same kind, or they are not. (b) As such, they are religious rivals, or they are not. (c) As rivals, they compete with each other regarding truth or falsity, or they do not. (d) They can do that because some religion is false, or they cannot because no religion is false. In each of the four cases, these claims are those of the Semitic religions and the Hindu traditions respectively. Each of these assumptions carves the universe up into two exhaustive partitions, because, in each case, one statement is the logical negation of the other. So, what should a liberal state do in such a situation? What choices are open to it, if it wants to remain neutral and secular?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby vishvak » 28 Jan 2015 18:06

If we read history well, we can conclude that the idea of nation state in India means end to barbaric colonial and caliphate/sultanate times, that were dominated by exclusive ideologies of Islam and Christianity.

One can not keep on tip toe around just to keep these exclusivists happy and then have go about explaining what is very well explained as unity in diversity principle.

In times of independence, we have right to see if those who claim to be civilized actually extend freedom of worship and diversity within their own countries when they are in majority - to all including minorities. We have seen dark days of Sultanate & Colonial times, and even now we see the state of minority Jews in the Mideast or Europe. So where does claim of civilized stand and how long a rope are we going to offer to the exclusivists.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 28 Jan 2015 20:14

A_Gupta wrote:Relevant:
http://www.hipkapi.com/2013/03/10/the-s ... pluralism/

Let us now summarise the four choices the Indian secular state has to make. (a) The ‘Hindu traditions’ and the ‘Semitic religions’ are phenomena of the same kind, or they are not. (b) As such, they are religious rivals, or they are not. (c) As rivals, they compete with each other regarding truth or falsity, or they do not. (d) They can do that because some religion is false, or they cannot because no religion is false. In each of the four cases, these claims are those of the Semitic religions and the Hindu traditions respectively. Each of these assumptions carves the universe up into two exhaustive partitions, because, in each case, one statement is the logical negation of the other. So, what should a liberal state do in such a situation? What choices are open to it, if it wants to remain neutral and secular?

F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C article. Articulates some very complex concepts.

The Indian constitution looks at the people of India from a Semitic/Abrahamic lens where it accepts that every religion has some truth. The problem with this acceptance is twofold

    1. It falls into the trap of reaching judgement on the question of whether religions have a right to claim something they say as "the truth". The Indian constitution implicitly says "yes" to this - an in doing so the Indian constitution/state has already entangled itself in a religious judgement. This is true in Western nations as well - as per Balu

    2. Once the constitution/state has already fallen into the trap of a semitic/Abrahamic view with regard to the truth claims of religions it falls headlong into a dilemma because Islam and Christianity on the one hand are rivals. Balu points out the interesting paradox that Hindus did not consider Islam or Christianity as "rivals". they said that people could follow different paths. But both Islam and Christianity have considered Hindus as rivals because they are pagan and can have no claim to Christian (or Islamic) truth. Balu points out that because the Indian state tried to force-fit Hindu-ism as a 'religion" in opposition to Islam and Christianity - the only way Hindus can prevail is to behave and act exactly like Christians and Muslims. In other words - the way the Indian state is structured - it forces Hindus to become Hindu fundamentalists like mirror image Christian or Islamic fundamentalists in order to be heard and noticed.

The original Hindu view of accepting all paths are valid paths to reach God (as Vivekananda famously illustrated) cannot work because the Indian state takes a Semitic view of "religions" who all have to show their truth claims. Christianity and Islam simply claim that theirs is the only true religion. Hindus have to do exactly that or else the Indian state will not bother. The Indian state listens to and sympathises with the truth claims of Islam and Christianity and any other religion that makes such truth claims. Hindus never claimed that theirs is the only true path - hence Hindus are bound to be ignored and trodden upon by the very Indian state they live in unless they conjure up a new "truth claim" to say that theirs is the only true path. When Hindus do this, they get noticed but criticized as wavering from "tolerant Hindu tradition"

Truly there are some deep problems with our Macaulayized constitution.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 28 Jan 2015 21:56

shiv wrote:The state is showing a misunderstanding of religion by doing that. That precisely the problem. The state is trying to do one-up on religion that existed for many centuries before the nation state by throwing some scraps at religion and trying to "pacify religion" as it were by saying "You are allowed to do what you want to do at a personal level, but ultimately I call the shots".

But down on the ground the state has to get involved with religion. For example if a religion says that desecration of a holy book should cause the person who did that to be killed, the state has to either agree or disagree with that. A secular state cannot agree with that - and has to restrict religion. For this reason the British sought to define exactly where religion would end and where the state would rule - never an easy exercise with a violent exclusivist religion.

In India these issues get amplified manifold because all religions have had unfettered freedom. But unfettered freedom of Christianity and Islam necessarily mean restriction of freedom for some other faiths because of the structure of those religions. Turning a blind eye to the "context" is a cop out and an abrogation of state responsibility.

The state can simply say "No violence. No coercion. No running down of other gods and religions". That is better than saying "Freedom of religion and therefore freedom to run down and criticize the other god"


From a western evolution of these concepts perspective.

The state has no business in matters of religion/faith. Western evolution of these concepts are settled on a "divorce" between affairs of the state from those of faith. Managing conflicts between these two domains, which do interject at the ground level is part of their evolution and challenges. Each country has various schemes to address them.

Continuing on this western evolution, Indian law subjects the practice of religion to public order and morality. Further speech is restricted to protect against hate speech, intended to cause harm, as in our penal codes. Blasphemy is covered under hate speech. These acts are usually interpreted by a court in context of a case and the environment and then adjudicated, not always fairly. IOW: The right to freedom of religion is not absolute. If a mullah proclaims that Kafirs should be slaughtered from a pulpit of a mosque, the mullah enjoys no protection to propagate such hate, under the protections of freedom of religion.

The idea that a state through its laws and edifices can intrude and control the ideas of a religion would effectively subject faith to state control. This is not unheard of and had been the practice in England and Russia, as an example. As sovereign people of a democracy, we could do the same through additional laws. Is that what you are asking to do - for the state to control the doctrines of faith?

From the perspective of the natural evolution of our dharma shastras:

The compartmentalization of religious and secular law would be non-sequitor. Matters pertaining to Artha, Kama and Dharma would be within the purview of the state. So will be Varna and Ashrama Dharmas for ALL. Swa Dharma/Values would be part of its soft constitution (on lines of declarative principles) again for ALL. The question of Moksha or the following of Brahman Dharma would be out of the purview of the state and left to each individual.

Dharma would be sovereign not people and their choices. Structures would have to be made to ensure such a process. What is this dharma or righteous action can be decided for each age by these structures. Kshatriyas would have to protect Dharma, Brahmins would have to ensure Dharma continues to serve the larger good and retains the guiding principles of Dharma in all they do. In context of the exclusive beliefs, limited to individual Moksha or Brahman Dharma there should not be an issue. My individual right to believe in the damnation of the soul to be salvaged by a God and/or its representatives cannot be controlled by the state. So cannot be my right to have my ashes immersed in the Ganga at a particular spot and believe that others who not do so will not attain Moksha. So cannot be my right to reject all notions of a creator. So cannot be my right to proclaim Allah to be the only true God and believe others as false gods.

Maximum deference to local beliefs and practices is the Indian way. The state can always intervene to preserve the larger good, when these beliefs and practices are in conflict with the larger good.

Now outside of the edifices of the formal state, there is an entire soft constitution. It is in the areas of soft culture where the real battles would be fought with contrasting belief systems. Questioning and debate of various belief systems is the Indian way. It is these soft cultural taboos, to discuss matters of faith and not question them is what needs to change. But I think I will be be opposed to the idea of an all controlling state deciding on matters of faith, like the English did in their past.
Last edited by ShauryaT on 28 Jan 2015 22:15, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 28 Jan 2015 22:13

vishvak wrote:So where does claim of civilized stand and how long a rope are we going to offer to the exclusivists.
So long as it does not affect Artha, Kama, Dharma of others.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby RamaY » 28 Jan 2015 22:49

It is silly to separate Dharma, Artha and Kama from Moksha as if that somehow secularizes a society.

Moksha is as much a personal experience as Dharma, Artha and Kama are. It is sad to note that people on this forum equate Hinduism with religions and somehow think/project that Moksha is the religious component while Dharma, Artha and Kama are not.

Moksha is self-realization about one's true being, which Hinduism says is beyond this one body and one life. It is no different from how one would see Artha and Kama (for better understanding) as non-religious pursuits. Just because the bank or another individual has $B, I the individual can experience it or have it. Same goes with Kama as in just because another individual has a beautiful wife/concubine or there are beautiful girls out there, I experience Kama with them. Artha and Kama has to be personal experiences for one to be aware of them. Similarly, just because another individual experienced Moksha or there is God around me, I do not experience Moksha. Like with Artha and Kama, Moksha also has to be a personal experience to be real.

When Moksha is separated by/for Hindus, they are actually talking about Charwaka world-view and Charwakas are predecessors of Abrahamic ideologies. That is why we see secular people behaving no different from Abrahamics when it comes to their understanding of Hindu society/civilization.

Coming to the proclamations about "State should have no role in faith/religion, and that the west solved this problem for everyone", it would be important to define what this West is. Even today, Britain is constitutional Christian monarchy and doesn't have secularism enshrined in its constitution. Majority of European states have Church Tax that is applied on non-Christians as well while the beneficiaries are only Christians. So what is this West that separated state and religion?

I would ask this august forum a simple question: On what basis Hinduism, in all its glory, is not suitable as a national identity, constitution and pursuit? Once you answer this, you would understand why Western Universalism is such a big deal for the other side.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 29 Jan 2015 00:24

If one is commenting, then please read the above in context of the powers and limits of power of the state. For that is the context of that post. A monarch in european states was considered the sovereign as all residual powers rest in the monarch. Start with this question, of who is sovereign. If as in current WU paradigm, it is the people (exercising democratic choice) and NOT the state then one will have to answer the same questions on what powers are devolved to the state from the people in a system, where people are sovereign.

Currently the SC, a non-elected body controls through its "basic structures" doctrine based on Keshavnanda Bharti judgment, some fifteen aspects of the current constitution that cannot be violated by any body. Our constitution does not have any such "basic structures", yet polity is constrained to have one imposed on them. Similarly, there can be a doctrine being upheld by a body that constitutes principles and values of Dharma that cannot be violated by an ordinary legislative body and indirectly by the people is my argument.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 29 Jan 2015 08:50

ShauryaT wrote:
The state has no business in matters of religion/faith. Western evolution of these concepts are settled on a "divorce" between affairs of the state from those of faith.
<snip>
The idea that a state through its laws and edifices can intrude and control the ideas of a religion would effectively subject faith to state control. This is not unheard of and had been the practice in England and Russia, as an example. As sovereign people of a democracy, we could do the same through additional laws. Is that what you are asking to do - for the state to control the doctrines of faith?

From the perspective of the natural evolution of our dharma shastras:

Dharma would be sovereign not people and their choices. Structures would have to be made to ensure such a process.

<snip>

Maximum deference to local beliefs and practices is the Indian way. The state can always intervene to preserve the larger good, when these beliefs and practices are in conflict with the larger good.

Shaurya - your ideas, attractive as they are, may be "jumping the gun" somewhat. I think that in India we need an frank acknowledgement of the mess that has been created first - so everyone knows what is going on. The reason I say this is that anything that is "Hindu" in nature or origin has, for a century and a half been given the reputation of being "backward", "defective" and "undesirable", and any talk of applying the best practices of dharma (secular as they are) attract a religious war with the claim that "Hindu extremism" is taking over and India is becoming a Hindu version of Pakistan. This is a thought process that has infected the minds of India's educate elite who call the shots - they become the bureaucrats and professionals and media people.

There are two elements to this problem:

1. The first problem is something I alluded to earlier and the problem has its origins in the "all accepting and non competitive" nature of Hindu opinions regarding god and worship. God and worship are not the single paramount demand for Hindus. Dharma is. From the Hindu viewpoint the identity of God is not vitally important and Hindus a) Do not dispute Jehovah or Allah but b) Hindus do dispute the idea that only Jehovah or Allah can be accepted as a god. This puts the religions on a collision path with each other and Hindus.

This may not have been an insurmountable problem except that the Indian state accepts the Abrahamic/Semitic religions as valid religions, accepts their practices and accepts the fact that they compete with others as valid precepts of those religions. Christians and Muslims are legally allowed to claim that their God is the only God and the greatest one. In this environment what are Hindus claiming? Nothing. Hindus are not claiming that their Gods are the only ones to follow. They accept that Jehovah and Allah can exist as Gods among other Gods. Like Pakistan attacking India but India not attacking Pakistan, Hindus give a "walk over" to the other religions by not fighting for a claim on being unique.

Under the Indian constitution the only way Hindus can hold a place and identity for their own forms of worship is to act like Islam or Christianity and claim special uniqueness actively and loudly. Our laws (in India) recognize this behaviour as "valid religious behaviour". Hindus cannot sit back and say as they have done in the past as noted by even Al Beruni that "We accept Jehovah" or "We accept Allah". The moment Hindus say that it is an opening to claim that Hindus have realized the inferiority of their ways. So Hindu extremism is a necessary form of Hindu protest encouraged by the Indian constitution that has failed to see what it has done for the Semitic religions and how it has worked against Hindu beliefs. Hindu extremism gives Hindus the same voice that Islam and Christianity have used over the centuries and still use to this day.

2. The Indian state/constitution is structured like Christianity except that Church is replaced by government. Government is elected by the people, but for day to day work the "sovereign" is the government. That means that the entire concept of government in India is based on the experiences of European society as it evolved from the clutches of Christianity. It is a system that is about 500 years old. Indian society, working on the basis of dharma has been around for about 3-4000 years and is based on individual duties and obligations. The individual has a choice, not a compulsion. The right "dharmic" choice was encouraged by a system of education that taught Indians what is right and what is wrong. That system of education of what is right and wrong has been disrupted by invasions.

For India to go forward we need a debate on the fact that the Indian state and constitution are themselves offshoots of Protestant Christianity and European history. It does not take into account 4000 years of Hindus teaching dharma and pluralism by way of an education system that used the epics for illustrating the way society must live. Society still lives that way to some extent - but that is pure chance because the Indian state does not recognize or encourage the Indian past - it forces all of Indians to simply accept the top down imposed law system and reject the society level education of each individual with concepts of dharma.

Everyone who is educated in India has forgotten what is dharma and that is true for this forum as well Indian society practices dharma - preserved as traditions by the women of Indian society especially in the less western educated classes. But this is dismissed by the educated - as illustrated by Saurabh's quote from Tavleen Singh. Dharma is not mumbo jumbo. It is not a complex concept.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 29 Jan 2015 08:55

Footnote: Under Indian laws and the Indian constitution "Hindu extremism" is the only way Hindus can have their views and grievances accepted as valid. There is no mechanism or allowance for ancient non violent and pluralistic and tolerant Hindu beliefs and practices unless these are pushed by loud protests and militant displays of collective strength. These are the very methods of Christianity and Islam that Hindus have always complained about, but that is the only option given that those methods are accepted as valid and the after effects and worldwide successes of those methods are there for all to see.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 30 Jan 2015 07:44

^I have indeed jumped the gun, my impatience got the better of me. This impatience stems from a mistaken notion that exists amongst many that our civilization does not have anything original to offer and can only react in a construct set by the western framework. The lack of intellectual rigor around such an exercise further exasperates the frustration. Also, it is not that I have not tried. I have contacted many who expound on the matter but have received little by way of any well research works on a civilizational evolution underpinned by our own principles, values, goals and objectives in light of our vast and documented sources of work.

The constructs and experiences of Dharma and its works can certainly be presented as a counter to the exclusivity claims. However, the state's role here is limited to ensure that a market place for exchange of such ideas can be done in an environment free of fear.

You have held the constitution and its defining constructs responsible for the inability to explore alternative constructs leading to the negativity of Hinudtva, this is IMO a partially fair assessment. Something far deeper is at work too that is rooted in our own failures. Failures that pre-date colonial assaults, pre-date Islamic onslaughts. A breakdown of sorts. Coming to terms with this breakdown, I believe is the start of the process of reconstruction. Anyways, will hold off for now.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 30 Jan 2015 07:56

ShauryaT wrote:You have held the constitution and its defining constructs responsible for the inability to explore alternative constructs leading to the negativity of Hinudtva, this is IMO a partially fair assessment. Something far deeper is at work too that is rooted in our own failures. Failures that pre-date colonial assaults, pre-date Islamic onslaughts. A breakdown of sorts. Coming to terms with this breakdown, I believe is the start of the process of reconstruction. Anyways, will hold off for now.

This is not an original from me. The roots of these thoughts lie in the link from Balu that Arun Gupta made earlier.

As I see it the state can actually expound the principles of dharma in a sort of pre-amble to the constitution. I repeat yet again that the principles of dharma can be found in practice and in texts all around us but less than 5% of educated people can say more than a few words about what the hell it is all about. It is all about Indian ethics. It is totally secular as well. I might start a thread and post references (maybe in burqa forum that I rarely visit) on principles of dharma as can be found in translations of the Mahabharata and Siva purana.

India already runs on Indian ethics although WU is having an influence. There is a need to put it down in readable format for modern Indians

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Pulikeshi » 30 Jan 2015 10:55

Should an IAS officer be allowed to preach

What means neutral, secular or unbaised agent (officer) that represents the secular principal (state)?

A_Gupta wrote:Let us now summarise the four choices the Indian secular state has to make. (a) The ‘Hindu traditions’ and the ‘Semitic religions’ are phenomena of the same kind, or they are not. (b) As such, they are religious rivals, or they are not. (c) As rivals, they compete with each other regarding truth or falsity, or they do not. (d) They can do that because some religion is false, or they cannot because no religion is false. In each of the four cases, these claims are those of the Semitic religions and the Hindu traditions respectively. Each of these assumptions carves the universe up into two exhaustive partitions, because, in each case, one statement is the logical negation of the other. So, what should a liberal state do in such a situation? What choices are open to it, if it wants to remain neutral and secular?


Quick points:

1. WU and WUized constitutions are typically based on the notion of 'social contract' - that is a contract between citizen and state. Typically this involves Greek, Roman names, then Paine, Locke, Hobbes, etc. and then Rawls, Pettit, etc. Notice the individual's beliefs are none of the states business, but the WU transference occurs in that the loss of freedom due to Religion is converted into the loss of freedom due to a contract. This loss of freedom is often swept under the rug quickly and the benefits accrued of escaping the cruel state of nature is played up. What is worse, the loss of freedom is not characterized, it is not homogenous and worse yet, it is subjective based on the power of groups. Arguably this sets up fault lines even before we get started- trivially - given as even a child asks are only 'all men equal' what about girls? This only gets worse over time as each and every groups in generational cycles come begging, coercing or fighting the state for expansion of their freedoms - the more recent being the LGBT community in most countries. The idea of modernity is the tied to these cycles that strongly encourage us to perceive an expansion of freedoms, whereas what is really at play is that the individual is over time getting more and more powerless and the state is becoming the all powerful entity that arbitrages the very breath we take.

2. The argument posted by Arun above (Balu, etc. work) is somewhat contrived as one needs to set up a 'secular' state which is itself problematic, even if claims are made that such states exist today, and then to try analyze two fish bowls (WU and SD frameworks) while living in a melded aquarium of those two fish bowls is even more confusing. Meaning, if the Religions of the desert had to be harnessed using a artificial creation called Secularism, then the Hindu confusion of Sarva Dharma samabhav, All paths are equal, etc. is also an artificial creation that has crept into acceptance via the dual colonization of the sub-continent. My own intuition remains solid that prior to these two events, SD intellectuals would have taken a very dim view to even deem the Religions of the desert as Dharma, they would have recognized them for what they were and attacked it even more furiously than they did Buddhism, but for the fact that the method of argumentation had changed from a 'market of ideas' to a 'who kills and conquers the mostest wins!' What is more important is to understand that these ancients would have seen desert Religions as Adharma, but never make any claims that they were not Religions. The current resurgent India provides a platform for a new argumentation with WU and Religions of the desert - the intellectual hope is that this opportunity is not lost in skirmishes that result from scaling and scarcity of resource. Rather, the argumentation ought to be based on an intellectual challenge and if needed even a justification and guideline for when offensive defense is appropriate. Failing which, the lowest common denominator in society will run away with their local agendas and bludgeon each other into depredation.

3. While I can agree with Balu and others that SD is not a religion, it is hard to digest his counter thesis that therefore WU and the state based on it is solely responsible for viewing SD as one. The framework confusion exists on both sides - more importantly, while we know a lot about the structure and framework of WU and Desert Religions, we have in public and more recently not had a debate on the structure and framework of SD. This means irrespective of the sophisticated argumentation used, there is no escaping the framework bias and clutter that invariably creeps into every debate. Sometimes I wonder if a true SD perspective can only be presented in an Indian language - then again it is clear that that will only shift the bias from WU to SD, but the framework confusion gets no better. Therefore, it is my suggestion that what is pragmatic is to characterize the SD framework as some of you are attempting to do and quickly there after find methods to accommodate the substantial minorities in India. This could even be conditional, even unacceptable to them at the outset, but as long as it can be intellectually argued and is defendable within the SD framework, eventually I suspect that the inherent strengths of SD can allow for the evolution of WU and the Religions of the desert. This would be a meaningful contribution to humanity.

4. Finally, it is important to recognize that social contract theories are somewhat incomplete without the understanding of conventions and declarations that I talked about several threads ago. The IAS officers' case in point - imho - has nothing to do with secularism, conversion or the secular state per se. It has to do with the contract between an employee and the employer. Example political correctness is a convention - it is still ok to make fun of fat people (perhaps), but no so ok to make fun of someones skin color. There is surely a complimentary relationship between conventions and declarations. To assume that once a contract is declared, it will only be modified by legislative updates is a fundamental flaw. Even more depressing if one has to assume that the State is a 'nanny state' that has to arbitrage every convention and enact declarations about the same.

Just my two purana paisa ramblings...

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Pulikeshi » 30 Jan 2015 11:07

RamaY wrote:I would ask this august forum a simple question: On what basis Hinduism, in all its glory, is not suitable as a national identity, constitution and pursuit? Once you answer this, you would understand why Western Universalism is such a big deal for the other side.


There are no simple questions, only simple answers.

If you characterize Hinduism as a Religion, then my question to you is have you found a successful example of a state that has Religion as a basis?

If you characterize Hinduism as a framework, then my question to you is - how will you convince the substantial minorities of India that this framework is the one that affords them the maximum benefit for themselves and their progeny?

No disagreements that WU is important to the West, just as Buddhist ideas were very important to Indians once ;-)
PS: Yes I am being a tad bit mischievous here...

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby A_Gupta » 30 Jan 2015 17:15

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/ ... ern-values

Unfortunately (1) the Chinese do not see the joke in promoting Marxism (a western value system) while apparently rejecting western values. (2) they are rejecting anything that challenges the Communist Party. (3) our quest regarding WU cannot learn anything from China as it is currently constituted.

Chinese education authorities have pledged to redouble efforts to control the use of imported textbooks in Chinese universities to stem the influence of Western values on the younger generation.

The move marks the latest step in President Xi Jinping’s ideological campaign, which has seen the media and the internet come under even tighter controls and is now being expanded to Chinese campuses.

Education Minister Yuan Guiren urged the universities to exert tighter control over the use of imported textbooks at a symposium on Thursday that was attended by the heads of leading Chinese institutes including Peking University and Tsinghua University.

Citing a joint directive from the State Council and the General Office of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, Yuan said Chinese universities must not allow books that promote Western values to be used in classes, the official Xinhua reported.

Speech of any kind that brought shame to party leaders and socialism must be banned in class, Xinhua quoted Yuan as saying. Teachers must also not grumble in class to avoid “passing on negative emotions to their students”, he added.

Earlier this month, the universities were instructed to step up propaganda and teaching of Marxism and Chinese socialism to ensure such values would “get into the students’ heads”. The institutes would be assessed on their use of set textbooks on Marxism, the authorities said.

Last Saturday, the party’s flagship journal Qiushi raised concerns about academic freedom in China after it lashed out at outspoken Peking University law professor He Weifang for defaming the Chinese legal system by spreading Western ideology.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 30 Jan 2015 19:43

I have - over the last few months, re read translations of the Mahabharata, Al Beruni (in parts) and am reading Siva purana.

All of them have, in common, descriptions of duties for Hindus - which usually come under the generic term "dharma". I would like to list them out - preferably with quotations from the sources and the name of the source.

What has all this got to do with Western Universalism?

It's like this - Western Universalism proposes a certain mode of human behaviour to reach certain goals. Hindu dharma does the same thing - but the behaviour prescribed and the goal are different. Without dismissing WU entirely I can still see several advantages in the Hindu viewpoint which need to be known, noted and propagated for there is nothing fundamentally wrong with such behaviour as a universal prescription.

The second point I want to make is that making a list of the Hindu dharmic modes of behaviour will go a long way towards explaining unique observations about human behaviour in India - the infinite patience on reads with little road rage and voluntary frugality and poverty often displayed by academics and people rendering social service. When we think from a western viewpoint we cannot understand the Indian. Perhaps an exposition of where Indian behaviour originates from would go a long way towards reconciling the conflicts between Western Universalism and Hindu Universalism.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby RamaY » 30 Jan 2015 19:54

An essay from Hindu Dharma - The Universal Way of Life by Pujyasri Chandrashekhara Saraswati Swamiji

JEM garu: I recommend this book to you.

The Vedas in their Original Form

It is sad that people keep fighting over this or that language. It seems that it would be better for us to be voiceless than keep quarrelling in this manner. Language is but a tool, a tool to convey our thoughts and feelings, to make ourselves understood. It cannot be the same in all countries. Each community, each region or country, has its own tongue. So it is absurd to quarrel over claims that one's language is superior to another's. We could at best say that "we know that language" or "we do not know it". But to talk of "my language" and "your language" is not right. It is also wrong to give greater importance to one's mother tongue than to God or religion. I would go to the extent of saying that we have no need even for Sanskrit, considered merely as a language, as a language per se. But our Vedas and sastras, which are basic to our religion, are in that language and, since they must be preserved, Sanskrit too must be kept alive.

After composing his Kural Tiruvalluvar went to Madurai for its arangetram. There, in the city, was the pond of the golden lotuses and the seat of the learned (the Samgapalagai). The poet placed his work on this seat. At once all the learned men seated on the Samgapalagai fell into the pond but the book remained on it. It was thus that the Kural was presented to the public. Many distinguished poets and savants have sung the praises of this work and its content. In Tiruvalluvar-Malai which contains these praises one poet says:

Ariyamum centamizhum araynditaninidu
Siriyadu tenronraicepparidal-Ariyam
Vedam udaittu Tamizh Tiruvalluvanar
Odu Kuratpavudaittu


"I thought about the question, which is superior, Sanskrit or Tamil. Sanskrit and Tamil are equal in their greatness. We cannot say that the one is superior to the other. The reason is that the Vedas are in Sanskrit and now in Tamil we have the Kural. If there were nothing equal to the Vedas in Tamil, Sanskrit should have been said to be superior. Now the Kural is present in Tamil as the equal of the Vedas. Both languages Sanskrit and Tamil- are now seen to be equally."

Why is Sanskrit considered a great language? In his praise of the Tirukkural here the poet gives the answer: it is because the Vedas are in that language. Some do not seem to attach any special significance to the fact that the Vedas are in Sanskrit. They think that these sacred texts could be known through translations.

Nowadays a number of books are translated from one language into another and in this process the original form or character is changed or distorted. The words spoken by a great man on a particular subject may not be fully understood today. But if they are preserved in the original in the same language, there is the possibility of their meaning being fully grasped at some future date. You use a beautiful word to convey an idea in your language, but its equivalent may not be found in any other tongue. Also, it may become necessary to express the same in a roundabout way.

There is also the possibility that the opinion expressed first, in its original context, may not come through effectively in a translation. We must consider the further disadvantages of the translation being circumscribed by the mental make-up of the translator, the limitations of his knowledge and understanding of the subject dealt with. The translation done by one may not seem right to another. When there are a number of translations of the same work, it would be hard to choose the right one We shall then be compelled to go back to the original.

This is the reason why I insist that the Vedas must be preserved in their original form. They are the source of the philosophical systems associated with the great acaryas. These masters evolved their doctrines from their own individual viewpoints, without making any modifications in the Vedas to suit them; nor did they establish any religions of their own outside the Vedic tradition. The source, the root, of their systems of thought is one and the same- the Vedas. It is because this source has remained unchanged in its original character that thinkers and teachers have, from time to time, been able to draw inspiration and strength from it to present new viewpoints. But these viewpoints have not meant the creation of new religions. The reason is that all of them- all these systems- belong to the larger system called the Vedic religion.
Last edited by RamaY on 30 Jan 2015 20:16, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby JE Menon » 30 Jan 2015 20:09

Thanks RamaY

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby RamaY » 30 Jan 2015 20:13

Pulikeshiji

My response here: viewtopic.php?p=1788283#p1788283

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Pulikeshi » 31 Jan 2015 11:16

RamaY wrote:Pulikeshiji

My response here: viewtopic.php?p=1788283#p1788283


RamaY - I even hinted that I was being mischievous yet you fell for it ;-)
SD is like light which is wave and a particle...

Here is my humble prediction - those that want to see the Indian state become supreme will see to it that a sanitized SD - simplified and dumbed down version, perhaps even under a different name, prevails. This one may even be acceptable to the minorities.

On the other hand those that want a strong civilization and care only about the longevity (aka Sanatana) will work to reform SD for those who want to practice and propagate it... they will not necessarily care for the Desert Religions and will develop the intellectual argumentation required.

Never the twain shall meet!

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Tuvaluan » 03 Feb 2015 21:52

http://www.christopherlucas.org/cls.pdf

This paper is an example of the smug tools in US academia continue to read India wrong but make grand proclamations of the obvious -- you can see their confusion by comparing what is in the abstract esp. the bit about

"In a survey experiment, we find that the increased salience of a shared (Indian) national identity increases donations by members of a dominant ethnic group (Hindus) to members of a rival, minority group
(Muslims). "

and on page 11, they refer to hindu nationalism as the opposite of and contradictory to the "shared Indian national identity" that they concluded even before the survey was conducted, it would seem.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 04 Feb 2015 10:04

Here is something that really annoys me: The concept of patents.

Only the Western world constantly talks in terms of discovering and inventing. And naming things and claiming credit are taken to an extreme. I think this is connected with religion somehow. Christ invented Christianity. Muhammed invented Islam. No one else is allowed to invent religions you see.

Even when we say things like Bhaskara invented binomial theorem this is largely a modern reconstruction. It would be more accurate to say that by examining the works of Bhaskara, we can find that he was aware of that concept. Indian mathematicians rarely claim inventions. I wonder who has the patent for yoga, sanskrit language, etc?

This is not even taking into account Eurocentric rubbish ( Columbus discovered America ) and whitewashing ( eg. Marconi inventing the radio ).

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 04 Feb 2015 16:42

csaurabh wrote:Here is something that really annoys me: The concept of patents.

Only the Western world constantly talks in terms of discovering and inventing. And naming things and claiming credit are taken to an extreme. I think this is connected with religion somehow. Christ invented Christianity. Muhammed invented Islam. No one else is allowed to invent religions you see.

Even when we say things like Bhaskara invented binomial theorem this is largely a modern reconstruction. It would be more accurate to say that by examining the works of Bhaskara, we can find that he was aware of that concept. Indian mathematicians rarely claim inventions. I wonder who has the patent for yoga, sanskrit language, etc?

This is not even taking into account Eurocentric rubbish ( Columbus discovered America ) and whitewashing ( eg. Marconi inventing the radio ).

saurabh - I wonder if part of the problem is "commoditization of Knowledge" as a means of wealth generation. This is the exact opposite of Hindu teaching where knowledge is to be shared - especially if useful to society and the idea of making money out of words, sounds (music) etc is considered wrong.

"Patents" is s fragile thing - like top down laws that cannot be implemented. No one can do a damn thing about Chinese infringement of patents and copyright. So this business of patents is a form of "tax" or "jiziya" imposed by the more powerful on the less powerful.

The internet was hailed precisely because it brought down one false God that was extracting such tax - the music industry

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 04 Feb 2015 16:53

JE Menon wrote:Guys, can anyone access Swarajya.com? There's an article on Europe's far right in there... It's the second banner article on http://www.swarajyamag.com but I can't seem to access the article itself. It asks for a login, and then when you try to create one it says registration is closed...

OK, it's fixed:

http://swarajyamag.com/world/paris-atta ... far-right/

This was posted in the Islamophobia thread but I wonder if it is more appropriately discussed here.

The author, whom some of us know well says about Europe's dilemma with Islamism
The solution is simple and staring them in the face. They may wish to look to the Indian example, where a rational right of centre party has succeeded beyond all expectations by expressing basic truths and promising stability, order and adherence to reason.


But it strikes me that Europe has a far darker history than India. India has taken a beating in the hands of two Semitic religions. Europe on the other hand has been as cruel and racist and Islam is now. Europe seems to impose top-down conformity. Everyone must conform to some pre-defined ideal rather than truly expressing themselves. I just wonder if Europe's far right is the real Europe expressing itself.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby JE Menon » 04 Feb 2015 18:20

>>it strikes me that Europe has a far darker history than India. India has taken a beating in the hands of two Semitic religions. Europe on the other hand has been as cruel and racist and Islam is now.

Couldn't agree more. Indeed, much of Europe's (and here I mean specifically Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy, Belgium) behaviour of today is coloured by their actions over the last several centuries, inevitably. It is also coloured, just as much, by the internal rough and tumble (putting it mildly) of the continent - where the bloody intra-European conflicts have been no less brutal. In India we tend to overlook the amount of killing the Europeans have done amongst each other, for what we would have considered utterly silly disagreements between two rulers about whether one king could divorce/separate or not. I strongly believe that we need a whole new class of scholars who study European history as written by the Europeans and then observe them today through that lens. Unless we become observers, commenters, idea generators and nuance describers in large numbers, the validity of our perspectives will remain undiscovered.

>>Europe seems to impose top-down conformity. Everyone must conform to some pre-defined ideal rather than truly expressing themselves.

I'm not certain about this. Speaking not from any empirical evidence, but from long living experience in that part of the world, my sense is that what has come to be seen as the European ideal - namely a post-Renaissance politico-religious liberalism (visibly Greco-Roman in inspiration), but heavily infused with elements of the Judeo-Christian heritage is very much seen as personal identity among the original inhabitants. If there is conformity, it is a very comfortable one. If there is an ideal, it is a very instinctively appreciated and adopted one.

>>I just wonder if Europe's far right is the real Europe expressing itself.

I'm fairly certain that many informed Europeans would consider the above an impish, if not mischievous statement, because there is more than an element of truth in it. What is clear, at least to me, is that the expressions of concern emerging from the far right in Europe is resonating with a lot of the original inhabitants of the continent, especially those middle aged and above, I would suspect. It only requires the right leader for such sentiments to find vote-generating credibility with the younger age groups too.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 04 Feb 2015 18:42

shiv wrote:saurabh - I wonder if part of the problem is "commoditization of Knowledge" as a means of wealth generation. This is the exact opposite of Hindu teaching where knowledge is to be shared - especially if useful to society and the idea of making money out of words, sounds (music) etc is considered wrong.

"Patents" is s fragile thing - like top down laws that cannot be implemented. No one can do a damn thing about Chinese infringement of patents and copyright. So this business of patents is a form of "tax" or "jiziya" imposed by the more powerful on the less powerful.

The internet was hailed precisely because it brought down one false God that was extracting such tax - the music industry


There is a difference between knowledge and products.

Knowledge, such as an equation, algorithm, classical raga should be free and available.
Products such as software or songs can be sold commercially- I have no problem with that.

WU patents 'knowledge'.. It is frankly at a most absurd level ( putting a pin on a map can be patented, for instance ).

The reality now is that noone buys a patent for the knowledge in it. Rather they make their own patents ( using the same knowledge ) and then fight legal cases against each other for 'patent infringement'. Thus you have this most absurd scenario where innovative Indians have to deal with a thing called 'patent laws' even though neither word has any echo in our collective conscious history.

I do not think this is purely due to commoditization. Rather it is a deep desire to say 'We invented this' and put a stamp on it.

And Indians have been importing this nonsense wholesale. One example is Debabrata Biswas, who was banned from singing Rabindra sangeet because he took a few liberties with it and introduced western instruments. He defied the ban and recorded the songs at his home anyway. Thankfully the copyright on Rabindranaths works expired some 10 years ago and the world is much better for it.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 04 Feb 2015 18:50

shiv wrote:saurabh - I wonder if part of the problem is "commoditization of Knowledge" as a means of wealth generation. This is the exact opposite of Hindu teaching where knowledge is to be shared - especially if useful to society and the idea of making money out of words, sounds (music) etc is considered wrong.

"Patents" is s fragile thing - like top down laws that cannot be implemented. No one can do a damn thing about Chinese infringement of patents and copyright. So this business of patents is a form of "tax" or "jiziya" imposed by the more powerful on the less powerful.

The internet was hailed precisely because it brought down one false God that was extracting such tax - the music industry
I will disagree here. The problem is not patents by itself. The ability to exploit works derived from knowledge for private gains is legitimate. Patents are about works - not knowledge directly. It is the protections afforded by IPR regimes that acts as an incentive to innovate (granted that a few might do it anyways). Using such works, without royalties/fees paid or approval of the "owner" amounts to stealing. Astyeya - one of the values of swa dharma asks us to respect other people's properties.

The problem comes when such works can be widely used to alleviate deemed essential needs and the costs to individual users is prohibitive. In such cases of wide applications, I think the government should step in and devise a reasonable solution. But this cannot solve all problems. Issues will still persist where such IP belongs to entites outside of government control. In these areas, governments like from those in India and China will do what is deemed necessary for their populations. There is a fine balance here. If a government does not afford ANY IP protections then that is sending the message that the country is not open for trade but if IP protections are extended to everything, that can hurt a populations, such as drugs. A fine balance is needed but I would not delegitimized the IP regime in a broad stroke. We should pay for music, movies, books. No?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 04 Feb 2015 19:09

ShauryaT wrote: We should pay for music, movies, books. No?

Pay the middleman or the original producer? The middleman has the enforcement rights.

One YouTube video of mine has one rendition of Jana gana mana. YouTube says that the copyright for that rendition belongs to someone and that video is therefore subject to certain restrictions.

So the Indian National Anthem is owned by someone because someone has rendered it in a particular way . I find that argument difficult to understand.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 04 Feb 2015 19:22

shiv wrote:
ShauryaT wrote: We should pay for music, movies, books. No?

Pay the middleman or the original producer? The middleman has the enforcement rights.

One YouTube video of mine has one rendition of Jana gana mana. YouTube says that the copyright for that rendition belongs to someone and that video is therefore subject to certain restrictions.

So the Indian National Anthem is owned by someone because someone has rendered it in a particular way . I find that argument difficult to understand.
AR Rahman as an artist took the anthem and produced a piece of work, which is his IP. If anyone uses that work that AR created, without permission then AR can rightly ask for relief to be compensated. AR as a musician needs to be compensated for his works. It is AR's responsibility to ensure that his works do not infringe on someone else's IP.

The anthem itself belongs to the nation.Ceartin "base" materials like produce of nature, cannot have an IP. Same for a national anthem, which belongs to the state. There is a fine balance to be achieved here but my main point is IP protection by itself cannot be a delegitimate exercise. One can make the theoretical argument of copy and say, nothing is really original since all ideas have their roots in something or the other. But this is where an IP regime comes into play, to find that balance through time limits, protections for processes or end products, etc.

There is a problem with this IP regime especially as it relates to global movement of IP and a cooperative approach by nations that have such IP than can help alleviate basic necessities already alleviated in their own societies would be a welcome step.

Added: From a "developing" nations perspective, I completely understand the issues faced due to lack of this base IP in many, many areas from materials, engineering and many many such technologies that will may take 100 years to catch up and in those 100 years the west would advance even further.

I think the problem here is not IP, but the underlying notions of unabridged capitalism and consumerism. SD value system emphasize a different order. But to enforce a value system one needs power. It is not an easy circle to break.
Last edited by ShauryaT on 04 Feb 2015 19:35, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_28705 » 04 Feb 2015 19:24

shiv wrote:
ShauryaT wrote: We should pay for music, movies, books. No?

Pay the middleman or the original producer? The middleman has the enforcement rights.


Very solid arugment. Consider for example, Trent Reznor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trent_Reznor

Trent was so pissed off with Universal that
Reznor continued his attack on Universal Music Group at a concert in Australia, urging fans there to "steal" his music online instead of purchasing it legally. Reznor went on to encourage the crowd to "steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin'."

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_28705 » 04 Feb 2015 19:30

ShauryaT wrote:AR Rahman as an artist took the anthem and produced a piece of work, which is his IP. If anyone uses that work that AR created, without permission then AR can rightly ask for relief to be compensated. AR as a musician needs to be compensated for his works. It is AR's responsibility to ensure that his works do not infringe on someone else's IP.


A R Rahman basically used the tune for Jana Gana Mana that has been used for a long time. A R Rahman couldn't have "created his work" if the original tune was copyrighted. Similarly, if the guys and their 'legal heirs' who invented the keyboard, jaltarang, sarod, sitar, santoor etc. all wanted their copyrights honoured - A R Rahman couldn't have produced any music at all.

To quote you, nothing is really original since all ideas have their roots in something or the other. So where is there a need to stick to an arbitrary IP regime, that attempts to create the illusion of a balance through arbitrarily decided time limits - while allowing for evergreening?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 04 Feb 2015 19:50

JE Menon wrote:>>Europe seems to impose top-down conformity. Everyone must conform to some pre-defined ideal rather than truly expressing themselves.

I'm not certain about this. Speaking not from any empirical evidence, but from long living experience in that part of the world, my sense is that what has come to be seen as the European ideal - namely a post-Renaissance politico-religious liberalism (visibly Greco-Roman in inspiration), but heavily infused with elements of the Judeo-Christian heritage is very much seen as personal identity among the original inhabitants. If there is conformity, it is a very comfortable one.

Interesting - especially the words "original inhabitants". Europe's "culture" in each European nation seems to be one of uniform dress code and uniform language code. Perhaps the Netherlands and Britanistan are somewhat more "liberal" in allowing non European cultures to co-exist. I don't know much about Norway and Sweden, but I get the impression that "culture" is a narrow path with well defined boundaries in Germany, France and Austria. "Indigenous European" sub-cultures and languages are tolerated - but African and Asian are "foreign". The latter have to conform to European norms to be accepted. I don't know If this is an accurate assessment.

For example I was always struck by the way India and Europe have been hit by Islamic terrorists - often from the same source. This, as your article points out is an obviously Islamic issue. No two ways about it. But the way Muslims are expected to appear in India is quite different from France. I am referring to the fact that Muslim dress codes - like burqas are opposed in France but freely allowed in India. Of course people have said that Indian behaviour is pure dhimmitude but I am not so sure. Because Hindus, Sikhs and Jains to have their own unique non European dress codes that are perfectly acceptable in India but would attract immediate attention in Europe as "being different".

There are two ways of looking at people whose dress code is different from that of the majority or the "original inhabitants". One way is to accept diversity. The other way is to see diversity as "the other" - as rule-breakers, people who do not want "order" and "uniformity". I think it is that uniformity, that you describe as "religious liberalism (visibly Greco-Roman in inspiration), but heavily infused with elements of the Judeo-Christian heritage is very much seen as personal identity among the original inhabitants" which has to be adopted by all others. Failing that they are seen as outisders. So again European liberalism is not really all that liberal, and the freedom of speech and expression that is tom-tommed so loudly is offset by conservatism and lack of freedom in other ways that the Europeans probably do not readily realize or acknowledge.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 04 Feb 2015 19:55

KrisP wrote:A R Rahman basically used the tune for Jana Gana Mana that has been used for a long time. A R Rahman couldn't have "created his work" if the original tune was copyrighted. Similarly, if the guys and their 'legal heirs' who invented the keyboard, jaltarang, sarod, sitar, santoor etc. all wanted their copyrights honoured - A R Rahman couldn't have produced any music at all.

To quote you, nothing is really original since all ideas have their roots in something or the other. So where is there a need to stick to an arbitrary IP regime, that attempts to create the illusion of a balance through arbitrarily decided time limits - while allowing for evergreening?


Did AR Rahman infringe someone's copyrights as defined by an IP regime? Not that I know of. There are time limits in most IP regimes for a reason, were these instruments invented say in the last 20 years? IP regimes are not arbitrary, they seek to balance the protection of innovations and do recognize that these cannot be forever. One can debate that balance but from a conceptual perspective I am guided by the broad principle of Astyeya. Why this angst for soft products only, why not for hard products then. It is the same issue, right.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 04 Feb 2015 20:02

ShauryaT wrote:The anthem itself belongs to the nation.Ceartin "base" materials like produce of nature, cannot have an IP. Same for a national anthem, which belongs to the state. There is a fine balance to be achieved here but my main point is IP protection by itself cannot be a delegitimate exercise. One can make the theoretical argument of copy and say, nothing is really original since all ideas have their roots in something or the other. But this is where an IP regime comes into play, to find that balance through time limits, protections for processes or end products, etc.

There is a problem with this IP regime especially as it relates to global movement of IP and a cooperative approach by nations that have such IP than can help alleviate basic necessities already alleviated in their own societies would be a welcome step.

Added: From a "developing" nations perspective, I completely understand the issues faced due to lack of this base IP in many, many areas from materials, engineering and many many such technologies that will may take 100 years to catch up and in those 100 years the west would advance even further.

I think the problem here is not IP, but the underlying notions of unabridged capitalism and consumerism. SD value system emphasize a different order. But to enforce a value system one needs power. It is not an easy circle to break.


Power is used to exert ownership over things that one does not own, cannot own and must not own. That is the problem with IP rights. When I say "must not own" I am imposing a moral obligation here. For example - a genetic defect that causes cancer which can be cured by manipulating that defect should not be patented. I mean the genetic code should not be patented and protected as intellectual property. There is a point beyond which IP regimes are pure greed. The argument that greed encourages innovation and "progress" is valid to an extent - but it is, philosophically speaking, progress of greed. If innovation satisfies greed and greed is protected in the name of progress what is being protected is not progress but greed. Yes these are moral arguments - but when we are talking about "ideals" being imposed as universalism - I would want to be convinced that greed is good and that there is no other way.

IP rights require power for protection. if power is absent, then IP means zilch. Therefore all IP regimes always seek to impose restrictions on knowledge that gives rise to coercive power. Once coercive power is obtained, IP rights can can be flouted at will.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 04 Feb 2015 20:22

ShauryaT wrote:Did AR Rahman infringe someone's copyrights as defined by an IP regime? Not that I know of. There are time limits in most IP regimes for a reason, were these instruments invented say in the last 20 years? IP regimes are not arbitrary, they seek to balance the protection of innovations and do recognize that these cannot be forever. One can debate that balance but from a conceptual perspective I am guided by the broad principle of Astyeya. Why this angst for soft products only, why not for hard products then. It is the same issue, right.

Shaurya, we don't know if AR Rehman is happy for his rendition of a national song to be used by everyone. The people who are imposing the restrictions are a record company who have taken ownership of that piece of music. Hopefully they are actually paying AR Rehman, but we don't know for sure.

Of course - if I have a problem with this I can take it up with YouTube and enter into some legal battle - and I know that I have the "freedom" to do this and that I can expect to get "justice" because the system falls within the purview of the law.

But what the system is doing is skimming money off the public, or putting restrictions on the public against using that tune when it is not the owner of the tune or the lyrics. That law makes this nonsense "legal" and allows you to ask questions like "Did AR Rahman infringe someone's copyrights as defined by an IP regime? ". The law also does not declare that the person who claims copyright should be able to prove it. In this case the copyright owner and YouTube are splitting the money and saying "fuk you" to everyone else and tying anyone who asks questions in a web of legalese. That is the real truth no matter how the legalese is constructed.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 04 Feb 2015 20:29

OK, let us move away from IP, since the underlying issue is one of greed or a system that promotes greed. Power being a beneficiary and an accomplice in the process.

While fulfilling of desires is a legitimate human activity as per SD's experiences, it has to be done under the auspices of Dharma and hence be righteous. At what point does the fulfilling of such desires go against Dharma can be decided for each time and on each issue.

The example you have provided is a good one. While the genetic code by itself cannot be patented as it exists in nature, the people who have sequenced this have spent considerable time and resources doing so and need to be compensated. If a government feels that such a base invention needs to be used for the public good then that government should have the right to "take over" this IP and make it available for free, so that it can be used for the larger good.

In such cases, your cancer treatment is still an issue. As a set of researchers have used this base IP which is free, to derive a new targeted solution for a particular problem. Now, if a government feels that even this targeted solution should not be covered then a government should have the right to take over this IP, just like they do for land under "eminent domain" conditions. The problem however is what does one do in the case of international IP, that a government feels are essential needs for its peoples. There are issues of balance here but in concept, I cannot find a problem with the concept of IP protections.

Underlying all of this is the issue of what principles and values is being practiced in society. One of the high principles in SD, is one of Yagnyam. A spirit of offering or sacrifice. Such a concept needs to be first accepted in society, practiced and harnessed in its laws and practices. The western world does not have this concept - and unfortunately India is moving away from it, at the speed of a bullet train. This system of greed that is in place is a legitimate point of critique on western values and systems. The answer is not its elimination but balancing it with the concept of Yagnya.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 04 Feb 2015 21:03

shiv wrote:
Of course - if I have a problem with this I can take it up with YouTube and enter into some legal battle - and I know that I have the "freedom" to do this and that I can expect to get "justice" because the system falls within the purview of the law.

But what the system is doing is skimming money off the public, or putting restrictions on the public against using that tune when it is not the owner of the tune or the lyrics. That law makes this nonsense "legal" and allows you to ask questions like "Did AR Rahman infringe someone's copyrights as defined by an IP regime? ". The law also does not declare that the person who claims copyright should be able to prove it. In this case the copyright owner and YouTube are splitting the money and saying "fuk you" to everyone else and tying anyone who asks questions in a web of legalese. That is the real truth no matter how the legalese is constructed.
Yes, an entire system exists to exploit these inventions for private profit. It is called Capitalism. At what point such inventions need to serve a larger good instead of private profit is a matter of debate. A value system that promotes the serving of this larger good and deemed to be on a higher pedestal and valued more in society is essential for such a regime to thrive. Can those who have eschewed their obligations to fulfill personal Artha and Kama to serve the larger good be called "Brahmins"?


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