Bharat Rakshak Forum Announcement

Hello Everyone,

A warm welcome back to the Bharat Rakshak Forum.

Important Notice: Due to a corruption in the BR forum database we regret to announce that data records relating to some of our registered users have been lost. We estimate approx. 500 user details are deleted.

To ease the process of recreating the user IDs we request members that have previously posted on the BR forums to recognise and identify their posts, once the posts are identified please contact the BRF moderator team by emailing BRF Mod Team with your post details.

The mod team will be able to update your username, email etc. so that the user history can be maintained.

Unfortunately for members that have never posted or have had all their posts deleted i.e. users that have 0 posts, we will be unable to recreate your account hence we request that you re-register again.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your understanding.


India and the Social Sciences

BRF Oldie
Posts: 9870
Joined: 23 Oct 2001 11:31

India and the Social Sciences

Postby A_Gupta » 13 Sep 2002 06:58

Our cultural past must be made to talk in the language of the present: that, I have discovered, is the task for the future.
This thread is to discuss the writings of Prof. S.N. Balagangadhara, and his theory of how the social sciences need a thorough rework.

If one wants to get a complete view (or at least a complete theory) of why India is portrayed the way it is in the West, then the following is invaluable in my opinion. Understanding the following is essential for Bharat Raksha in its most subtle and its most profound form.

Since the whole story is rather long, I will be making several posts to complete it.

-Arun Gupta

Preliminary reading :

Rajiv Malhotra's articleRISA LILA - 1 : Wendy's Child Syndrome is important in its own right, but if you are not so inclined, then all you need to know is that it examines the problems in the scholarship of Wendy Doniger, an Indologist at U. of Chicago, and that of her students.

In the responses to Rajiv's article, was a Balagangadhara. His responses to Rajiv are gathered from there and is given below. Balagangadhara turns out to be Professor S.N. Balagangadhara at the University of Ghent in Belgium. He is the author of a book, "The Heathen in his blindness ... : Asia, the West and the Dynamic Religion", which I am almost certain you have not read, because, if you look it up on it is $200, and is published by a speciality publisher.

To whet your appetite, here is a copy of an amazon review of his book :

Reviewer: Jakob De Roover from Gent, Belgium

Although the theory on religion that is submitted in this book is generally found to be highly controversial, Balagangadhara's arguments are so strong that one cannot simply dismiss this theory as intellectual 'spielerei'. His account identifies crucial constraints on Western thinking about other cultures and the social world in general, and convincingly explains why even 'giants and geniusses' have not been able to surmount these constraints. I heartily recommend this fantastic book. In the legendary words of one reader: "it might even change your world view."
Professor Balu's posts follow.

BRF Oldie
Posts: 9870
Joined: 23 Oct 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby A_Gupta » 13 Sep 2002 06:59

Professor Balu wrote :

To Rajiv Malhotra and all other seekers

Deservedly, Rajiv’s article has appalled the readers: horror, indignation, anger and bewilderment at the RISA *lila*. However, after expressing the initial indignation, one has to get down to the serious business of initiating a more thorough discussion. E-boards are not the best places for a focussed discussion, I know: people have a tendency to respond to fragments of the posts, or to those parts that incite or interest them the most, so that the ‘discussion’ tends to lead a life of its own. But with some understanding, some amount of good will and some patience, I am sure, we can keep the discussion focussed.

I want to raise three issues: (a) how to analyse what Rajiv portrays; (b) depending on that, what an adequate response consists of. Before we do either (this is one of the things I have discovered through my own research during the last two decades), we need to be clear about (c) how we *should not* analyse the situation that Rajiv has sketched. Given that all three (in their general form) have been my obsessions, I have been reflecting on them deeply, seriously and systematically for some time now. I would like to share some of the results of this reflection with you. This will be a multi-part post: depending on the *kind* of responses elicited by the first part of the mail, I will decide whether to go ahead or desist. In this first part, I will take a (rather slow) run up to tackling the third issue first. And even here, I look at RISA *lila* as an exemplification of a more general issue or as an expression of a much broader tendency.

Perhaps, it is best to begin in an autobiographical mode. I came to (continental) Europe some 25 years ago, naively thinking that ‘cultural difference’ is something that ‘cosmopolitan’ Indians would not experience: after all, I had studied Natural Sciences in India; knew English rather well; was more familiar with the British and European history than I was with that of India (I once had plans to join the IAS by doing exams on these subjects); felt right at home with the western philosophy … It took me about 4 years of living in Europe, without relating to any Indian (or even Asian) community because I did not want to land up in an emotional and social ghetto, to realise that I was wrong: ‘cultural differences’ were no fictitious invention of anthropologists; it involved more than being a vegetarian or being barefoot at home when the weather was not too cold. This realisation was instrumental in shaping my research project: what makes the Indian culture different from that of the West? (I never felt anything other than an Indian amongst the Europeans.)

I began to research this issue with some vague hunches and intuitions as my reference points: there was no literature to guide me in my endeavour. Of course, the first fields I went into were Indology and Anthropology. Pretty soon I discovered that neither was of any use. Not only did they fail to provide me with any insights, but they also succeeded in merely enraging me: the kind of rage you feel when you read the analyses of Wendy Doniger or Kripal. Indology is full of ‘insights’ like those you have read in Rajiv’s article. What has varied over time is the intellectual jargon that clothes these ‘analyses’. Going deeper into the history of these disciplines (with respect to India) drove home some lessons very deeply: in both form and content, there was pretty little to differentiate between the Christian missionary reports of the 18th to 20th centuries and the Indological tracts. And that between a Herder and a Goethe on the one hand (the German Romantics who ‘praised’ India while being derogatory about it at the same time) and a James Mill and an Abbé Dubois on the other, there was not much of a space to draw a dividing line. Researching further, I discovered that these ‘Indological truths’ were enshrined in the ‘modern’ social sciences: whether you read along with a Max Weber on ‘The Religions of India’ or thought along with a Karl Marx on the ‘Asiatic mode of production’ or even disagreed with the omnipresent ‘Oriental Despotism’ of a Karl Wittfogel. Modern psychoanalysis of India, beginning with Carstair’s ‘The Twice Born’ through ‘The Oceanic Feeling’ of Mussaief-Masson (another Indologist using psychoanalysis to understand Indian religions), had already told our tale: Indian culture was ‘narcissistic’ (in the sense of ‘secondary narcissism’) and thus pathological in nature.

My initial reactions to these discoveries parallel the response of many a post on this e-board: horror, rage and a conviction that ‘racism’ is inherent in these writings. Pretty soon, this conviction about ‘racism’ of European authors gave way to doubts: Is it possible to convict all European authors of racism? Are we to assume that, in the last 400 years or so, all writers who wrote on India were racists? If yes, how to understand the powerful impact these writers and their theories have had on the Indian authors and Indian social sciences? If no, why did they say pretty similar things? Is one to say that the ‘respected’ Indian social scientists are no better than brown sahibs? Is Indian social science merely a disguised variant of Indology? So on and so forth.

Today, many of us are familiar with Edward Said and his book ‘Orientalism’. In his wake, many buzz-words like ‘essentialism’, ‘Eurocentrism’ (though interesting, Blaut is not theoretically well-equipped), ‘Orientalist discourse’, the ‘us-them dichotomy’ etc. whiz around. I would be the last to detract from the merits of Said’s book: he was one of the earliest writers to have drawn attention to the systematic nature of the western way of talking about the Orient. Despite this, the concept ‘Orientalism’ is totally inadequate to analyse the situation underlying RISA lila. Surely, the question is: *Why is the West Orientalist?* Said’s plea ends up denying any possibility of understanding cultural differences or indeed why Orientalism came into being, or what sustains it. To say, as the ‘post-colonials’ do, that the relation between ‘power/knowledge’ answers this question is to make a mystique of the dyad of Foucault as though it ‘explains’ anything. If this buzzword does anything at all, it helps us ‘explain’ why the ‘post-colonials’ earn a good living in the States: they talk the talk of their employees, and walk the walk of their patrons. (This is not to deny that there are genuine and committed people among them, or even to deny that they want to address themselves to genuine and urgent issues. It is only to draw attention to the phenomenon of ‘post-colonialism’.)

What I am saying is that one should not think that Rajiv paints a ‘racist’, or ‘orientalist’ or a ‘eurocentric’ picture. These words obfuscate the deeper issue, one which is more insidious than any of the above three. It might or might not be the case that Wendy and her children are ‘racist’; ditto about their ‘eurocentrism’ or ‘orientalism’. But when you realise that they are not saying anything that has not been said in the last three hundred years (despite their fancy jargon), the question becomes: *why does the western culture systematically portray India in these terms?* To say that western culture is, in toto, racist or ‘eurocentric’ is to say pretty little: even assuming, counterfactually, that the western culture is all these things (and that all the westerners are ‘racist’, etc), why do these attitudes persist, reproduce themselves and infect the Indians?

There is a weightier reason not to tread this path. In fact, it has been a typical characteristic of western writings on other cultures (including India) to characterise the latter using terms that are only appropriate to describe individual psychologies: X culture is stupid, degenerate, and irrational; Y culture is childish, immature, intuitive, feminine, etc. To simply repeat these mantras after them is to achieve very little understanding.

Rajiv says repeatedly that these writings ‘deny agency to the Indian subjects’. I am familiar with this phrase through ‘post-colonial’ writings. This too is a mantra; like many of them, without having the desired effect. And why is that? It might appear to make sense if we merely restrict ourselves to Wendy and her children’s analyses of Ganesha, Shiva or Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. However, it looses all plausibility when we realise that, for instance, social sciences use one and the same ‘epistemology’ to analyse both the west and India and that despite this, their claims about India reproduce the ‘Indological truths.’ (Those who do not believe me are invited to dip, for example, into those multiple theories of ‘the Indian Caste System’: from the sociobiological theories of a Van den Berghe – a sociologist – through the social choice theories of an Olson jr. – an economist-cum-political scientist. Even a book that wants to criticise the writings that ‘deny agency’ to the Indians, ‘Castes of Mind’ of Nicholas Dirks, ends up doing nothing else than ‘deny agency to the Indians’.) Quite clearly, ‘the problem’ cannot be solved by ‘discovering’ some or another pet epistemology (like Ronald Inden does, in appealing to Collingwood).

In a way, you could say, we need to do to the west what it has done to us, namely, study it anthropologically. But how to go about doing this and not simply reproduce what generations of thinkers (from the west) have already said about the West? It is amusing to use Freud to analyse their Freudian analyses of Indian religions; or use Patanjali’s Chakras to typify their personalities. But at the end of the day, we are still left with the task of studying and understanding why the western culture talks about us the way it does.

In other words, it would be a *conceptual blunder* to look either at Wendy or her children as exponents of racism, eurocentrism or even Orientalism alone. (They might be any or all the three. But that does not really matter.) We need to realise that they are doing two things simultaneously: *drawing upon the existing social sciences and also contributing to their further ‘development’.*

I hope to explain the significance of the last sentence in one of my next mails. For the present, let me just say this: our problems do not either begin or end in religious studies or Indology. They are deeper. Much, much deeper. To tackle RISA lila as a separate phenomenon, i.e., to focus either on Wendy or her *parampara* alone, would be to compound tragedy with conceptual blunder. Not only that. It would prevent us from understanding RISA lila for what it is: *a phenomenon that is typical of the western culture*.

BRF Oldie
Posts: 9870
Joined: 23 Oct 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby A_Gupta » 13 Sep 2002 07:00

In response to a question, Professor Balu wrote :

I do not want to move the focus *away* from the discussion; I only want to focus it more sharply.

I have written a few articles and a book. The latter is titled "The Heathen in His Blindness: Asia, West and the Dynamic of Religion." (In fact, if you go to amazon and type my name, you will find the details of the book.) It is expensive and long: if you want to read it, perhaps you could make use of Inter-library Loan facilities of your home town library.(Assuming, of course, you have such facilities where you live.) You should then be able to place my posts in their context.

BRF Oldie
Posts: 9870
Joined: 23 Oct 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby A_Gupta » 13 Sep 2002 07:04

Rajiv Malhotra replied :


I, too, started with complex theories about the West, and have a side project which I call “Westology,” the reverse of Indology. (In fact, I expect to organize a world conference on this in the next 2 years.)

As a former strategic planner for the corporate world, I am also inclined to think in grand strategic terms. Yes, it IS important to have these strategies, and to revisit them periodically, and with many persons’ participation.


Therefore, my immediate goal is to spread AWARENESS of the problem, in ways that are so compelling that no sensible person could hide their head in sand and pretend its not there. For instance, I discovered that even those Princeton-area Bengali friends who are very “secular” find these denigrating writings about Ramakrishna and Goddess, etc to be very disturbing. An attack on Ramakrishna is an attack on Bengali culture. For the first time, many Bengalis who classify themselves as leftists, with no religious sympathies, feel compelled to sit and listen as to the nature of this Eurocentric attack on what they consider to be their culture - religion or not. That’s progress.

I get more invitations from temple heads, wanting to have a discussion about all this at their place, than I could possible handle. I also got several calls from persons now interested to pursue a PhD in Hinduism Studies and then an academic career, and from persons who know of others thinking in this direction. So we are in the very early stages of awareness building.

Unfortunately, many of the Diaspora people are too busy in narrow pursuits to be bothered about the bigger picture. Those who are concerned often want a simple one-page write up. But such a simplistic write up could only list the conclusions and no more. However, the conclusions are TOO STARTLING to be believed at face value: a person must take the time to read the details – and even this 40-page essay is a summary of a few thousand pages of evidence. Swami Tyagananda’s response to just one book alone is 130 pages. So, if we write a convincing piece, then it’s too long for most persons. But if it’s a simple headline scan, then that’s considered unbelievable.

I enjoy researching and writing complex pieces, and hope that others will turn the material into Powerpoint and into summaries for wider readership. At some stage, there could also be a petition like the one someone had against CNN, based on a Sulekha column of mine – it got CNN’s top management stirred up enough to meet Indian Diaspora representatives, and now they no longer glorify Musharraf to the same extent they did.

When people offer to help and want to know what they should to do, my response is: help spread awareness of what you have learnt about this matter. Educate others who still are not awake to this reality.

One man in Boston is organizing a group discussion with those who have read the essay – I shall gladly go to participate, listen and learn, and also share perspectives. My sense is that many such local discussions will start. From these will emerge more mobilization – grass roots up. The list of concrete projects to carry out is extensive. But first lets get a wider base of aware persons.

Meanwhile, the abusive scholars’ club gets very scared by the mere very fact that the Diaspora is waking up. A security alarm company once told me that the most important thing in the alarm system is that the flood lights should go on when there is an intruder, because most intruders will run away when the light shines. The same is also true of abusive scholars. Most run away from such activities once they know that the Diaspora is watching, tracking and reviewing their work, discussing it fearlessly, giving opinions, etc. THIS IS WHY THE NATIVE INFORMANT TALKING BACK IS ITSELF A BIG CHANGE IN THE POWER EQUATION.

Many well-placed academic scholars who are privately 100% on our side love what is going on here. They say that many scholars are now revising their works, to make sure they don’t fall into this trap like others did. They also tell me that the Diaspora’s pressure will some day mobilize Indian students on campus, who will then come to class prepared with critiques of the professor and/or of the books being prescribed, and confident to stand up and argue. (Muslim students don’t put up with nonsense about their tradition in class – they are trained beforehand.)

Black Studies scholars at Princeton University told me that once black students on campus started to talk, back based on authentic facts, there was a snowball effect, and the field started to transform. Ditto for feminists, gays, and other groups that had to fight to change their portrayals.

So lets shine the light bright and clear.


BRF Oldie
Posts: 9870
Joined: 23 Oct 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby A_Gupta » 13 Sep 2002 07:08

Professor Balu replied :

Dear Rajiv,

Thanks for the reply. May I, in response, make some comments?

(1) You are absolutely right about the observations regarding spreading awareness and setting strategic goals, and about the way movements develop. From what little I know of you, which is pretty little I am afraid, you appear to be a person with enormous capabilities: apart from the evident intellectual acuity, you seem to be gifted with strategic insights and abilities, a tremendous organisational talent and a long-term perspective. Consequently, I can only applaud you: not from the sidelines though, but from the middle of the field itself. You are quite clearly someone who can *pull*, if I may use this metaphor despite its connotations, the *ratha* (chariot); I am willing to *push* the same from behind. It is, therefore, an immense personal pleasure for me to respond to your efforts. As you say, ‘let the light shine bright and clear’.

(2) A slightly longer comment on what you call ‘westology’, the reverse of Indology. I will simply pen some thoughts down. We need not enter into a dialogue about these issues on this thread: it might *sidetrack* the discussion; besides, you can always write a separate column on ‘westology’, to which one can respond. Nevertheless, some observations for you to keep in mind for the column on ‘westology’, if and when you write it.

2.1. When I started formulating my initial project some 17 years ago, I too thought along (probably) similar lines. However, as I got my teeth into the project and started working it out, it became pretty obvious that it was doomed to *fail*. The inherent logic of such an enterprise forces one, as it were, to build *alternate* theories to the existing, ‘western’ theories. Instead of explaining this statement in the abstract, let me take a concrete example to illustrate what I mean.

2.2. In the University of Chicago, there is a certain Richard Shweder. He practices ‘Cultural Psychology’, and is (was?) professor of ‘Human Development’. He is rather well-known for his ‘cross-cultural’ studies: he and his students have published many works comparing psychological developments across the two cultures that India and America are. (In fact, he received a medal from the American Association of the Advancement of Science, if I remember properly, for one of his articles: ‘Does the concept of the Person vary cross-culturally?’ This was a study about the concept of ‘self’ in the USA and Orissa, India.) A few years ago, he published a study on the nature of *moral development* and the growth of moral awareness cross-culturally: again, India and the USA were the two compared cultures.

2.3. To study this, Shweder and his co-workers developed a questionnaire supposed to test the presence of several moral notions among their subjects. (This article is called “Culture and Moral Development’, by Richard Shweder, Manamohan Mahapatra and Joan G. Miller. A convenient reprint is to be found in “Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development, Eds., James Stigler, Richard Shweder and Gibert Herdt, Cambridge University Press, 1990, Pp.130-204. I will cite from this work.) The interviewees are both children and adults. From the list of the cases that Shweder uses, here are the first five – in order of *perceived* ‘seriousness of breach’, as judged by Hindu Brahman eight-to ten-year-olds:

1. The day after his father’s death, the eldest son had a haircut and ate chicken.

2. One of your family members eats beef regularly.

3. One of your family members eats a dog regularly for dinner.

4. A widow in your community eats fish two or three times a week.

5. Six months after the death of her husband, the widow wore jewellery and bright-colored clothes (Ibid. p.165).

It is important to note that, in India, while there was a consensus between the children and the adults regarding the first two cases (p.184), there was a lack of consensus only among children regarding the last three cases. Keeping in mind that they are ordered in terms of the ‘perceived seriousness of the breach’, we further come across (ibid., P.165):

8. After defecation (making a bowel movement) a woman did not change her clothes before cooking.

13. In a family, a twenty-five-year-old son addresses his father by his first name.

And, as the fifteenth, “a poor man went to the hospital after being seriously hurt in an accident. At the hospital they refused to treat him because he could not afford to pay (ibid).”

2.4. We can, I suppose, grant the truth of these statements. We can grant too that many Indians (both children and adults) would probably consider such actions not just as *paap* but as *mahapaap*. If not ‘sins’, they are at least some kind of ‘ethical transgressions’ and not mere breaches of social etiquette. As the sequence of questions in the interview makes it clear, the respondents were asked to motivate (or clarify) their stance. A fragment from such interviews, applied to a hypothetical Brahmin adult should make the point clear.

“1. Is the widow’s behavior wrong? (Yes, Widows should not eat fish ¼) How serious is the violation? (A very serious violation¼) Is it a sin? (Yes. It’s a “great” sin.) ¼ ” (p.168)

Let us consider a similar fragment from a hypothetical American adult. “1. Is the widow’s behavior wrong? (No. She can eat fish if she wants to.) How serious is the violation? (It’s not a violation.) Is it a sin? (No.)” ¼ (ibid.)

2.5. If Shweder is *right* in identifying our *paap* either as ‘sin’ or as ‘immoral’, one conclusion is inescapable: we Indians must be absolute cretins really. I mean, we seem to think that what the widow eats, what she wears, etc. are *ethically* more important than whether a poor man gets treated in a hospital or not. *However did our culture manage to survive for a couple of thousand years, when it is governed by such idiotic ‘norms’?*

As though to rub salt in the wound, Shweder assures us that the situation is really not all that pathetic. In fact, he says, one could actually provide ‘reasoned defence of family life and social practice’, albeit in the form of an “ideal” argument structure. How does it look?

“The body is a temple with a spirit dwelling in it. Therefore the sanctity of the temple must be preserved. Therefore impure things must be kept out of and away from the body (p. 198).” It is important to note that this ‘reasoned’ defence occurs only to Shweder’s mind: no child ‘argues’ the way Shweder does.

3. During the colonial period, we were described as *immoral* people. This is one end of the spectrum. At the other end, we have ‘liberals’ like Shweder, who make us into a bunch of moral *cretins*. So, it appears, we have two choices: either we are immoral or we are moral idiots. Not much of a choice, is it?

4. Why does this situation come about? This is not a *translation* problem (‘how should we translate *paap* into English?’), but an empirical and theoretical problem: *what is it about the western ethical tradition that makes the Indian culture either immoral or morally senile?*

5. To answer this question, we *need* to develop a theory of ethics, which does two things *simultaneously*: (a) show how and why there is an *ethical domain* in the Indian culture and in what ways it differs from the Western ethical domain; and (b) what are the *constraints* on the western ethical tradition that it is *forced* to describe us the way it has.

6. This means, Rajiv, such a theory of ethics will be a direct *competitor* to the Western thinking on ethics. That is to say, our ‘westology’ will not remain a mere ‘westology’ but will be forced to provide an *alternative* and *competing* way of looking at the ethical phenomenon itself.

7. This is what I discovered when I started working my project out. My theory of religion *is* an alternate to the current theories of religion: it shows not merely that the western intellectuals are *wrong* but also explains why they had to be *necessarily* wrong. Idem for my current work in ethics.

8. It is here that one experiences the humiliation of *racism*. It is almost inconceivable to the western intellectuals, at least this has been my experience, that an Indian could stand up and *prove* that three hundred years of western scholarship has been wrong. You are never forgiven for this insult; I mean, it is simply not on. If you reproduce the ‘post-colonial’ verbiage, you will be rewarded with a professorship in Columbia, Chicago or California. But, beware, if you say, let us compete on *equal terms* scientifically; may the best theory carry the day; and that happens to be your theory!

Friendly greetings


BRF Oldie
Posts: 9870
Joined: 23 Oct 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby A_Gupta » 13 Sep 2002 07:12

Professor Balu continued :

To Rajiv and Other seekers (Part II)

In the previous post, I drew attention to the fact that Wendy and her children draw from the existing social sciences, while contributing at the same time to their further ‘development’. In this post, I will elaborate what this statement means, what it implies, and what it says about the ‘western culture’. Let me see how far I can go in this post with respect to the objective without being inordinately long. However, it is only fair that I warn you beforehand: I will only be able to isolate an important thread; within the confines of this post, I cannot *prove* my claims. (To those interested in ‘proofs’, I refer them to my book.)

1. Not many would challenge the claim that Christianity has been highly influential in the development of the western culture. We need to take this statement utterly seriously. It means that many things we ‘take for granted’, whether in the West or in India, come from the influence that Christianity has exerted.

I claim that Christianity expands in two ways. (This is not just typical of Christianity but of all religions. I will talk only of Christianity because I want to talk about the western culture.) Both of these have been present ever since the inception of Christianity and have mutually reinforced each other. The first is familiar to all of us: *direct conversion.* People from other cultures and ‘religions’ are explicitly converted to Christianity and thus the community of Christian believers grows. This is the ‘surface’ or explicit expansion of Christianity. In India, both in the colonial and modern times, this has been a theme of intense controversy but, according to me, not of very great consequence *when compared to the second way Christianity also expands*.

2. Funnily enough, the second way in which Christianity expands is *also* familiar to us: the process *secularisation*. I claim that Christianity ‘secularises’ itself in the form of, as it were, ‘dechristianised Christainity’. What this word means is: typically Christian doctrines spread wide and deep (beyond the confines of the community of Christian believers) in the society dressed up in ‘secular’ (that is, not in recognisably ‘Christian’) clothes. We need a very small bit of Western history here in order to understand this point better.

2.1. Usually, the ‘enlightenment period’, which is identified as ‘the Age of Reason’, is alleged to be the apotheosis (or the ‘high point’) of the process of ‘secularisation’. What people normally mean by ‘secularisation’ here is the following: the enlightenment thinkers are supposed to have successfully ‘fought’ against the dominance that religion (i.e. Christianity) had until then exercised over social, political, and economic life. From then on, so goes the standard text book story, human kind began to look to ‘reason’ instead of, say, the Church in all matters social, civic, political etc. The spirit of scientific thinking, which dominated that age, has continued to gain ascendancy. As heirs to this period, which put a definitive end to all forms of ‘irrational’ subservience, we are proud citizens of the modern day world. We are against all forms of despotism and we are believers in democracy; we believe in the role of reason in social life; we recognise the value of human rights; and we should understand that ‘religion’ is not a matter for state intervention, but a ‘private’ and personal affair of the individual in question. This, as I say, is the standard text book story.

2.2. The problem with this story is simply this: the enlightenment thinkers have built their formidable reputation (as opponents of ‘all organised religion’ or even ‘religion’ tout court) by *selling* ideas from *Protestant Christianity* as though they were ‘neutral’ and ‘rational’. Take for example the claim that ‘religion’ is not a matter for state intervention and that it is a ‘private’ affair of the individual in question. (Indian ‘secularists’ agitatedly jump and down to ‘defend’ this idea.) Who thought, do you think, that ‘religion’ was *not* a ‘private’ affair? The Catholic Church, of course. Even to this day, it believes that you *should* believe what the Church says, and that because the Church mediates between Man and God, what you believe in (as a Christian) is decided by the Catholic Church. The Protestants fought a battle with the Catholics on *theological* grounds: they argued that ‘being a Christian believer’ (or what the Christian believes in) is matter between the Maker (i.e. God) and the Individual. It was *God* (i.e. the Christian God), who judged man; and men *could not* judge each other in matters of Christian faith. The Church, they argued, could not mediate between Man and God (according to their interpretation of the Bible); the Catholic Church argued that men could not, using only their reasoning and interpretative abilities, interpret the Word of God (i.e. the Bible). To think so is to be seduced by the Devil, and the only guarantee against the seduction by the Devil and eternal damnation was the Church itself and its interpretation of the Bible. (There is a famous doctrine of the Catholic Church, which says, ‘Extra ecclesiam nulla salus’: there is no salvation – i.e. being saved from the clutches of the Devil – outside the Church.) To cut the long story short, the Protestants won this theological battle. The enlightenment thinkers repeated this Protestant story, and this has become our ‘secularism’.

2.3. The same story applies with respect to what is enshrined in the UN charter. The doctrine of Human Rights (as we know them today) arose in the Middle Ages, when the Franciscans and the Dominicans fought each other. (Both are religious orders within the Catholic Church.) All theories of human rights we know today were elaborated in this struggle that continued nearly for two hundred years. They were *theological* debates, to understand which one needs to understand Christian theology. (Just take my word for it for now.) When John Locke (a British philosopher) started talking about ‘Natural Rights’ in the 18th century, he was simply regurgitating a theological debate within Christianity.

2.4. I am not merely making the point that these ideas had their origin in religious contexts. My point is much more than that: I claim that *we cannot accept these theories without, at the same time, accepting Christian theology as true.* What the western thinkers have done over the centuries (the Enlightenment period is the best known for being the ‘high point’ of this process) is to *dress up* Christian theological ideas (I am blurring the distinction between the divisions within Christianity) in a secular mantle. Not just this or that isolated idea, but theological theories themselves.

2.5. I am not in the least suggesting that this is some kind of a *conspiracy*. I am merely explicating what I mean when I say that Christianity spreads also through the process of *secularisation*. What has been secularised are whole sets of ideas about Man and Society which I call ‘Biblical themes’. They are Biblical themes because to accept them is to accept the truth of the Bible. Most of our so-called ‘social sciences’ *assume* the truth of these Biblical themes.

2.6. I know this sounds *unbelievable*; but I have started to prove them. I have already shown, for example, that the so-called religious studies presuppose the truth of Christian theology. That is why, when they study the so-called ‘religions’ from other cultures, their results do not fundamentally differ from a theological treatment of the same religions. In the book I am now writing on ethics, I am able to show the same: the so-called secular ethics are ‘secularisations’ of Christian ethics. That is why, according to the modern ‘secular’ ethics, we are either ‘immoral’ or ‘moral cretins’. According to the Christianity, only the ‘true’ religion can provide a foundation for ethical behaviour: the Heathens and the Pagans, because they worship the Devil, are either immoral or intellectually weak. Even in psychology, the notion of the development of ‘person’ (or ‘self’) is a non-trivial secularisation of the Christian notion of ‘soul’. So I can go on, but I will not. Instead of convincing you, such a list might end up generating disbelief.

3. To begin to appreciate the *plausibility* (if not the truth) of my claim, ask yourselves the following question: why are the so-called ‘social sciences’ different from the natural sciences? I mean to say, why have the social sciences not developed the way natural sciences have? There must have been many geniuses in the social sciences; the mathematical and logical sophistication in some of the social sciences is simply mind-bending; we have computers and we can simulate almost any thing. Comparatively speaking, it is not as though the social sciences are starved of funding or personnel. Despite all this, the social sciences are not progressing. Why is this? (When you have, say, a problem in a love-relationship, you do not open a text book on psychology; you look for a wise friend or an understanding uncle.) There are many answers provided in the history of philosophy and many of you may have your own ‘favourite’ explanation. Here is my answer: you cannot build a scientific theory based on theological assumptions. What you will get then is *not* a scientific theory, but an embroidering of theology. I put to you that this is what has happened. Most of our so-called social sciences are not ‘sciences’ in any sense of the term: they are merely bad Christian theologies.

4. If this is true, it also helps us understand why both ‘conversion’ and the notion of ‘secularism’ jars Indian sensibilities. Somehow or the other, Nehruvian ‘secularism’ always connotes a denigration of Indian traditions; if you look at the debates in the EPW and SEMINAR and journals like that, one thing is very clear: none of the participants really understands what ‘secularism’ means. In India, ‘secularism’ is counter posed to ‘communalism’; whereas ‘the secular’, in European languages, has only one contrast: ‘the sacred’. Now, of course, I do not want to make much out of this; but I thought that it would be interesting to draw your attention to this interesting fact.

5. To summarize what I have said so far. Christianity spreads in two ways: through conversion and through secularisation. The modern day social sciences embody the assumptions of Christian theology, albeit in a ‘secularised’ form. That is why when Wendy and her children draw upon the resources of the existing social sciences, they are drawing upon Christian theology. In this Christian theology, we are worshippers of the Devil. Our gods are demons (followers of the devil). As such, amongst other things, they are perverts: sexually, morally and intellectually. The worshippers of the Devil (which is what we are) are also perverts: why otherwise would we follow the Devil or his minions? Even if Wendy and her children *oppose* a straightforward Christian understanding openly (because of their *genuine* conviction), their *conclusions* are no different from the simplistic story I have just sketched. How can they be driven to embrace Christian theology, even when they either openly reject it or when they know nothing of it? This will be one of the questions I will take up in my future posts, assuming that people remain interested.

6. This is the insidious process I talked about in my previous mail: the process of secularisation of Christian ideas. I have not been able to do justice to the richness of this process: an inevitable price one pays for condensing complex analyses into short posts. Let the ‘simplistic’ presentation not lead you to think that the ideas I am proposing are ‘simplistic’. They are not.

7. Why do we, the Indian intellectuals, not see this secularisation straight away? Why is the process of secularisation not visible to the western intellectuals? These are some of the obvious questions I will tackle in my subsequent posts.

Friendly greetings


BRF Oldie
Posts: 9870
Joined: 23 Oct 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby A_Gupta » 13 Sep 2002 07:17

Professor Balu continued :

To Rajiv Malhotra and all Other Seekers (Part III)

In order to keep the discussion tightly focussed and to best serve the interests of this thread, I will not be touching upon (or answering) several issues raised either in my earlier posts, or by the readers. *I promise, however, to return to them at the appropriate time*. I had begun my earlier mail with the intention of tackling three points with respect to the picture that Rajiv sketches: (a) how *not to* analyse; (b) how to analyse; (c) what should we be doing? To briefly recapitulate what I have so far done. Regarding (a), I suggested that what Wendy and her children do should not be seen purely as an orientalist, or a Eurocentric or a racist exercise. In my previous post, regarding (b) I suggested that there is a deeper process at work here, which I called ‘secularisation’ of Christian theology. In this post, I will complete this part of the argument by trying to (partially) answer one question: why is this process not ‘visible’ to the Western intellectuals? In my next post, which I hope to compose before the weekend, I will focus on (c), i.e. what should we be doing?

In a way, the answer can be provided in a single sentence: the research questions and the research framework of many-a-social science were set up *explicitly * by Christian theologians using the resources of Christian theology. (I am using ‘theology’ as a general term here.) Both the questions and answers have retained their intelligibility, even though the ‘explicit’ theology has faded *into the background*. A theological question does not cease to be theological just because the one who answers it does not know much about theology. The very fact that such questions *make sense at all* (and do not appear nonsensical) is the *proof* of the fact that the questioner remains within the ambit of a religious framework. (If you have no clue about Physics, the question ‘when does some stellar object become a quasar?’ will not make much sense. To answer it, if you can answer it at all, you need to draw upon the resources of theories in Physics.) However, this single sentence answer fails to capture the complexity and diversity of the process. Therefore, let me just *illustrate* what this process really means, or has meant. (I will be taking random examples, and of different *kinds* just to *indicate* the depth of the process. If one intends doing more than this, one will have to write umpteen books!)

1. Consider, to begin with, the very notion ‘the west’ or ‘the western culture’. During the first 800 years (after the year 300 C.E. – ‘Common Era’, which replaces AD that meant the year of the Lord, Anno Domini), it was ‘Eastern Christianity’ (i.e. the Christianity of the Byzantine Empire with its centre in Constantinople) that dominated the Christian communities. The Church in Rome was merely one of the churches within Christianity. The ‘evangelization’ of Europe really begins in earnest after 900 C.E. This was a process launched by the Church in Rome, and it occurred in areas to ‘the west’ of Rome. For this reason, this Christianity came to be called ‘Western Christianity’ and the emergence of this Christendom to the west of Rome is the emergence of ‘the West’.

2. Consider these two famous research questions about the ‘transition’ in history (of both the ‘leftist’ and the ‘rightist’ variety): when and how did transition from ‘slavery’ to ‘feudalism’ occur in Europe? This issue was discussed by theologians and theological historians for a long time in the following form: how did Christianity put an end to the Pagan Rome? The historians discussed precisely this issue, and in this form, till the end of the eighteenth century as well. The division they made between ‘epochs’ (a word coined by a French Christian Priest called Bossuet during the 18th century) was the one between pre-Christian (pagan) Rome and the post-Christian Rome. The very same issue, with the *very same* division has now become a ‘scientific’ question in the guise of: how did feudalism put paid to slavery? The same can be said about another transition question that bothers Marxist historians: how did feudalism (an ‘epoch’ of social production) give way to Capitalism in ‘the West’? Do you know what this question is a complex translation of? ‘Why did the Protestant reformation against the Catholic Church gain foothold?’

3. Consider the emergence of the Legal System in the western culture. Its origin does not lie in the Roman Law but in the Church. The theologians of the Roman Catholic Church *turned* to the Roman jurists in their attempts to build a legal structure for the Church. (This is called the famous ‘Gregorian reformation’ of the Catholic Church.) Thus a complex system of laws and *their justifications* (including terms that are fundamental to the modern jurisprudence) arose, called ‘The Canon Law’. The ‘Civil Law’ (using this as a general term) was built by *the theologians* by modelling it after the Canon Law. Till the 18th century, ‘the faculty of law’ was a part of the ‘faculty of theology’ in the western universities and taught *only by theologians.* To this day, in many universities in Europe this theological heritage is still maintained in the way the law faculties are called: ‘Rechtenfaculteit’ (‘Rechten’ is the plural of ‘Das Recht’), referring to the two laws – the canon law and civil law.

4. Consider too, for example, one of the notions fundamental to Modern Jurisprudence: ‘will’. There have been umpteen discussions about this notion in Philosophy, Law, Psychology, etc. Clearly, or so we think, human beings have a will and exercise it as well. What is the origin of this picture of human beings? Till 300 B.C.E. this notion was ‘absent’ in what we call the western culture today. Neither the Greek thinkers (like Plato or Aristotle), nor the Roman jurists (who wrote their law digests) had such a notion or such a picture of human beings. The first person to struggle with this notion and write tracts about it was Saint Augustine, one of the most influential Fathers of the Christian Church. Why did the Christians find this notion important? Because, they think, the universe exemplifies the Will of God and human beings should subordinate themselves to this Will. That is to say, the human will must subordinate itself to the divine will. What is human ‘will’ then? What does this subordination consist of? These and many similar questions arose *within* the ambit of Christian theology, presupposing a Christian picture of Man. (A picture that was neither Greek nor Roman, and is definitely not Indian.) Yet, how many of us do not practice Law, read and write about human will and even assume *as an empirical fact* that it is in the nature of being human that we have will? (This is no *fact*, but a Christian theological picture of man.)

5. Take, as another kind of an example, the issue of ‘freedom’. This issue is a central one in Philosophy, in moral theories, in political theories (about State and society), in legal theories, and psychological theories, etc. If you were to blandly state this issue in a single sentence: it is a good thing that people are ‘free’ and that every one ‘ought’ to be ‘free’. In ethical theories, for instance, a moral action is an action of choice, made freely without coercion. In fact, in the absence of ‘freedom’ morality is not possible. Let me just draw a contrast between this way of thinking (which appears to be true on the basis of ‘universal consent’) and our ideas about ‘karma’ and ‘rebirth’. (You need not assume the ‘truth’ of *punarjanma* in order to follow my point.) If the fruits of one’s action do not track (very strictly) the agent across several lives, the idea of both ‘Karma’ and ‘rebirth’ become senseless. Somehow or the other, these notions are parts of our (i.e. Indian) understanding of morality. That means to say, if there was no binding and strict *determinism*, ethics is impossible. Here, then, the contrast: according to the western culture, moral action is impossible if it is not ‘free’; according to us, without strict determinism, moral action is impossible. Yet, how many of us do not act as though ‘freedom’ is a ‘self-explanatory’ concept? Do you know what the origins (it has multiple theological loci) of this problem are? God created Man and gave him the ‘freedom’ to choose between God and the Devil. (In secularised terms, between ‘good’ and ‘evil’.) The possibility of ‘salvation’ (i.e. of being ‘saved’ from the clutches of the Devil) depended on this ‘free choice’. Therefore, theological issues arose: What then does ‘human freedom’ mean? Why did God give ‘freedom’ to man? Are we ‘condemned’ to be ‘free’? etc. etc. Our *svatantra* does not mean ‘freedom’ as its contrast term *paratantra* indicates. Our ‘gods’ are *sarva tantra svatantara*, i.e. beings for whom all *tantras* are their ‘own’ (sva). What exactly are we doing then, when we discuss about a ‘free society’, ‘freedom’ of individuals, etc, etc?

6. Instead of carrying on in this vein let me round off in a different way. Fundamental to Christianity is its belief that there ‘ought’ to be scriptural sanction for actions in the world. In other words, this religion makes one seek scriptural foundations for one’s actions (whether for ‘sacred’ ones like ‘worshipping’ or to ‘secular’ ones like the attitude one should take regarding ‘strangers’ ). The scripture is one kind of ‘revelation’ of God’s will; the Nature also reveals God’s Will. One studies both in order to find out what God Wills so that one may become a part of God’s purposes (for human kind) on earth. The Church, as a social organism, confronted many social and political problems during its history. Whether it was a revolt of the peasants, or a fight with the monarchs about the nature of political authority, these phenomena were conceptualised as problems within theology. That is to say, both the way the Church formulated the problem and its responses were founded on the scriptures (and the writings of the church fathers). The problem of state and society, the limits of political power, etc. were actual issues that the Church confronted. The way it formulated these issues and the kind of answers it sought, etc. were theological in nature. These very same questions and answers (and the underlying framework) have been taken over by the so-called social sciences. So, when they further go on along this track, all they are doing is further embroider Christian theology. No matter what they *think* they are doing, they *are not doing science*. Even when they speak of things that become totally *nonsensical*, if and when *explicit theology* is left out, they continue to talk as though it makes sense.

For an example of this sort, take the notion of ‘polytheism’ that anthropology of religion, practitioners of ‘religious studies’, sociologists, etc. use. This notion is *contradictio in teminis*, that is to say, it is internally contradictory. ‘Polytheism’ refers to a doctrine that countenances multiple ‘gods’. What does it mean to speak of multiple ‘gods’? It is to say that there is more than one ‘God’. (There must be at least two). However, who or what is ‘God’ that there may be more than one? If, in order to answer this question, one refers to the meaning of this word, unsurprisingly it turns out, the dictionary meaning is also the meaning of Christian religion. Amongst other things, ‘God’ is the creator of the universe. If this is what God means, there cannot be more than one ‘God’. (How can one make sense of the statement that there are multiple ‘creators’, when ‘God’ refers to that being which created the Universe?) How, then, can one speak of ‘polytheism’? Only if one *assumes* that there is one ‘God’ and some several other creatures who are *other* than this ‘God’ and yet claim the status of ‘godhood’. The claim of such creatures *must* be false: because the very definition of ‘God’ attributes this status to only one entity. Or, there must be one ‘true’ God, and many ‘false’ gods, who are different from and other than the True One. This is precisely what Christian theology says: there is but one ‘true’ God, and there are many ‘false’ gods (the Devil and his minions). A ‘Polytheist’, then, worships these multiple ‘gods’ (and not the True One). That is to say, a polytheist is a ‘heathen’ who worships the devil. This is what Christianity said of the Roman religions, the Greek religions, the Indian ‘religions’, etc. How is it possible that ‘scientific’ studies take over the word ‘polytheism’ and blithely use it without *recognising* that it is senseless to do so without assuming the *truth* of Christian theology?

7. What I am saying, in other words, is that the western intellectuals are blind to secularised theology, because that is all they know. This is their tool, and they have no other. Only when we develop *alternate* manners of theorising about Man and Society will they too be able to see the theological nature of their thinking. Until such stage, all they can do is to ridicule the suggestion that they are merely embroidering theology.

8. The process of secularisation of Christianity is complex, rich and varied. In each of the domains I have researched, the form of secularisation of theology has been different. The routes travelled have been varied: but the results have been the same. But this should not transform my suggestion into a mantra. We need to plot out the rich and varied contours of the process of secularising of Christianity. When we do so, we will truly be initiating a revolution in human thinking: at last, one can begin to speak in terms of the *sciences* of the social. Until such stage, all we have are bad Christian theologies *masquerading* as ‘social sciences’.

9. I sincerely hope that this post does not sidetrack the discussion. In my next, and for the time being the last post on these matters, I will take up the issue of what we should be doing. I want to thank you all for reading these long posts with patience, taking the trouble to reply to them both publicly and privately.

Friendly greetings


BRF Oldie
Posts: 9870
Joined: 23 Oct 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby A_Gupta » 13 Sep 2002 07:23

And Professor Balu's final post (and the one I personally find poetic ) was as follows :

Rajiv and All Other Seekers (Part IV)

Thus far we have seen that the western representations of India do not so much express the perfidious intentions (or subconscious desires) of the writers as much as the secularised Christian theology that guides research. If this is true, there arise other questions that beg clarification: what, then, could we say about the *Indian* writings in Indology, sociology, etc? Are the Indian writers too not influenced, whether directly or indirectly, by the very same ‘theories’ that incorporate the secularised Christian theology? If they are, surely, there will be but a thin dividing line between the Indian representations of India and the western ones. If they are not, how could *they* be impervious to and unaffected by secularised Christian theories, while their western colleagues are? Despite the *enormous* importance of this theme, I shall leave it aside for now: as indicated in my previous post, other occasions are going to present themselves where such reflections will be in their place.

In explaining the obliviousness of western thinkers to their acceptance of secularised theology, I suggested that only when we present *alternate* ways of describing the world could they gain insight to the theological nature of their endeavour. If this diagnosis stands up to scrutiny, our task is also clear: start working towards the goal of building such theories. In the last two decades, I have come to the realisation that there is far *more* to this task than is apparent at first sight. My ideas on this matter have evolved not only by studying histories and sociologies of science (about how theories grow, get propagated and get accepted) but also by appreciating the complexity of the task while trying to carry it out. In this mail, I want to share some of my thoughts on this subject.

1. Let me begin by picking up an obvious question: Why should we be bothered to carry this task out (and all that it entails) at all? Of course, no one is or can ever be *compelled* to carry this task out. Yet, there is a partial answer that can go some way in meeting the *real concern* behind this problem. *Because of reasons of space*, let me make talk about Indian culture as an entity and about its experiments to provide some semblance of an answer.

2. Imagine, if you will, that Indian culture is an entity and that all Indians are its members. Imagine too that one day, it realised that it was not sure any more about the nature of the world it inhabited: What should it be doing? What is its place? How should it adapt? What does adaptation consist of? The only way it can ever find answers to these questions is through experimentation: trying out this or that strategy, growing new things as and when needed. Only its members can help of help; they are the ones to experiment with. Let us agree not to ask further questions about how this culture came to this realisation and that we do not dispute about dating this event: India’s independence from the British. Thus, this entity, the Indian culture, takes to *massive experimentation* telescoping, in this process, events of many decades elsewhere into a single decade (and sometimes even less) in its history. Let us chronicle these experiments.

First, it takes to ‘socialism’: ‘Nehruvian’ socialism, the socialism of Lohia, the socialist attempts of the communist parties of India. Just as these experiments take-off, this culture starts exploring *their limits* even before a new generation is born: the Naxalites and the ML movement in Bengal impact India’s youth in different parts of India and both socialisms (of Lohia and of Nehru) begin to crack under the pressure of events even as, in the late 60’s, people elsewhere in the world begin to discover ‘student power’. Many activist youth groups emerge in different parts of India, born outside the existing left, but already radicalised. Just as these groups appeared to run out of steam, the Indian culture paused, and as though considering, plunges into another massive experimentation: ‘Dalit’ movement, ‘secessionist’ movements, which pits not the bourgeoisies against the proletariat but groups against each other. Even as these impact the culture, through ‘reservation policies’ and contraction of the living space for some of India’s children, a new experimentation begins: it is time for *ratha yatra* and Babri Masjid. This experimentation still continues and as it does, this entity launches yet another with no parallels in human history: the Indian culture sends two or more millions of its members to America. This is no exodus, much less of an exile, even if these members insist on speaking of the ‘Diaspora’.

3. What has Indian culture found out through all these experiments? Some of India’s children still continue with these experiments; some have ceased doing so. This means either some answers are no answers at all or at best, partial ones. Is India ‘socialist’? Or is she the proletariat? Or, perhaps, the landless peasant? Is she the ‘Dalit’, or merely the ‘woman’? Has she always been a Sikh, a Tamil or a Marathi, and never a single entity? Is she a ‘Hindu’, a Muslim or merely ‘secular’?

India, it appears, has been interrogating herself through all these experiments: who is she? This is no third-rate ‘identity politics’ of the post-colonials taught in Chicago or Columbia, but the strivings of a culture. We, her children, express this striving as well. Whatever our individual motives, whatever our individual biographies, today, on this thread, we too are asking the same question: what is it to be an Indian?

4. Much like her, we cannot reject the past: without it, we are not who we are any more. Nor could we turn our back to the present: that is where we have to live. Our cultural past must be made to talk in the language of the present: that, I have discovered, is the task for the future. At this moment, however, we need to become aware that we are asking this question and that the answer *matters* to each one of us. That is why we should be bothered about carrying out the task I spoke of.

What is involved in accomplishing this task? Here too the answer is simple: *a collective effort*. What does such an effort entail? Not being a strategist like either Rajiv or Arjun Bhagat, I can only share the results of my reflections on my experience in pursuing this task for nearly two decades now.

5. The first step, quite obviously, calls for spreading awareness about the nature of western representations of India. This entails that we find (a) *people* willing not only to challenge the western ‘scholars’, where and when they give talks in public forums about India etc. but also (b) *speakers* from the Indian community in the US, who try actively to *supplant* these ‘scholars’.

This requires that such speakers are continuously fed with literature of two sorts: (a) a debunking kind; and (b) the sort which provides new and novel conceptualisations of many aspects of the Indian culture itself.

This suggests that a serious and systematic research must be undertaken by many different people on many different themes. My knowledge of the intellectual scene tells me that there are very few such people. So, one has to look at *recruiting* younger, gifted people into doing research.

For this to happen, we need three things: (a) an intellectual visibility and respectability for this kind of research so that fine, younger minds are attracted: (b) a reward system that makes it worthwhile for them to pursue such a research for a decade at least; (c) a *training* in not only doing such research, but also help in publishing them in highly visible journals so that they can then go on to populate chairs in the academia.

6. Parallel to doing all these, there is also the mammoth task of planting these seeds in the Indian soil itself. In order to appreciate the complexity of this task, we need to have some answers I raised in the first paragraph. Let us, therefore, leave this aspect of the enterprise out of this post for the moment.

7. If these things are to happen at all, it is obvious that we need an *organisation*. Only such an entity can formulate such long term plans, translate them into viable strategies, and pursue them systematically.

8. Can this be done? I personally believe so. Even on this thread, based purely on the evidence of their interventions, we have the kind of brains we need: people who can strategise; those can build organisations: those who can raise finances; those who can go straight to the heart of a problem and represent it in simple terms; based on little material, those who anticipate and formulate central questions for enquiry; and, above all, an interested and concerned audience. (For each of these, I can cite the posts and give reasons why I think so. For the latter, you need merely see the hits on this web-page. But that would be overkill, I think.)

9. Should some under you feel the same way I do, I would like to make a proposal. Let some of us try and meet sometime next year. (Preferably during either the spring or the summer holidays.) We need no agency, no organisation to sponsor such an event. Each of us should be able to meet our travel and accommodation on our own: it can take place either here in Europe or there in the US. Let us meet for a day or three for an intense brain-storming session, so that when we leave each one of us knows our responsibility. An organisation will be successful only when many, many people with different talents and interests work on the same thing at many different levels. I am willing to put time, energy, and effort in participating in such a venture.

10. India, today, is at a cross-road: she has been in many such cross-roads in the past, and she will be in many more in the future. Neither is relevant to us, because we can make a *difference* only to this one. We have the persons. We have the brains. We have the talents. We have the energy. We have the money. We have the instruments, the knowledge and the abilities. We have the capacity to create the know-how as we work on the project. What more do we need?

*Satya* said in his post (# 192) that he makes bold to announce the birth of an Indian renaissance. I believe he is right in more ways than one. I think our culture is going to see a renaissance. Such a renaissance will be of importance not just to us, Indians, but to the entire humankind. Because it is going to lay the real foundations for the sciences of the social and thus give a surprising answer to the question, ‘what is to be an Indian?’ This process is going to take place: sooner, if we can accelerate the pace; later, if we do nothing about it. In the latter case, that event may not happen in your lifetime or mine; but happen it shall. Of this, I am utterly convinced. It is this conviction that has kept me going all these years; it is the same conviction that has made me want to reach out to those of you who have followed this discussion.

Friendly greetings


Posts: 260
Joined: 30 Jul 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby kgoan » 13 Sep 2002 08:57

Arun, marvellous stuff. Is this from an open email list?

BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 46
Joined: 11 Apr 2001 11:31
Location: USA

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby kautilya » 13 Sep 2002 10:09

Originally posted by kgoan:
Arun, marvellous stuff. Is this from an open email list?
Go to the article "RISA LILA" linked in the first post, and click on Read readers comments. All of the above is taken from those comments.

BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 46
Joined: 11 Apr 2001 11:31
Location: USA

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby kautilya » 15 Sep 2002 00:30


BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 46
Joined: 11 Apr 2001 11:31
Location: USA

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby kautilya » 16 Sep 2002 06:49

Another great one by Prof. Balu

Rudra Caitanya, #360

Dear Rudra Caitanya

You formulate, in a tone of despair (?), your problems as follows:

“How do we create an alternate paradigm for scholarship (or rather how do Native Indic Scholars create another paradigm), now that we understand or think we understand the nature of Western Social Sciences?”

“Even science -- its theories/experiments -- are based upon historical data and the interpretation of this data and the new observations, are based on a pre-existing baseline/standard).
So, how on earth do we get started building the new standards/baseline to compare our observations against?”

Simplifying: you ask the question of how to go about developing an alternate to the so-called social sciences. I would like you to consider the following four *kinds* of answers, each pitched at a different level of generality and at a different level of description. One could provide more, but these four should be enough to give a *taste* of the kind of wine you might care to drink.

(a) Suppose that one were to ask you: how to go about doing ‘science’ (in general) or, say, doing ‘physics’? What kind of an answer could you possibly give? If you do not want to be unkind, you will probably give answers that will not be satisfying to the questioner. Like what? May be you will say: one needs to read, think about a problem, provide a solution and critically evaluate the hypothetical answer and so on. If the questioner presses his point and asks: yes, but *how* does one go about doing any of these, what will your answer be? The only reasonable answer you can give him is to point him in the direction of a *model*: go, read that book on Physics, you will perhaps say, and then you have an idea of what I am talking about.

(b) This is also my second answer to your question. I have provided precisely such a *model* in my book. Developing an alternative to the existing social sciences is not the idle dream of a vain intellectual; there exists a model that has already begun the process. Therefore, from now on, the discussion is not any more about *whether* and *how* such attempts are necessary or desirable but one of evaluating the said model and, if found to be a beginning, continuing to build more such or similar models.

(c) In what way, you may ask, will such an attempt be *different* than the existing social sciences? Instead of drawing your attention once again to answer (b) and say ‘go and find out how it is different’, I would like to take another route. I will treat your difficulty as a ‘philosophical’ problem. As you say, the ‘facts’ and the data’ are the same; so “how do we build new standards/baseline”? Of course, the history of sciences (the Natural Sciences, that is) gives us any number of illustrations of what the question entails. Let me use the simplest one: people saw, and continue to see, the setting and rising of the Sun; its movements across the horizon. These are the ‘facts’ and ‘data’ that all of us have. For a long period of time, some thought what they saw was how the world was. Then came some other people who said the following: this is indeed what we see, we are compelled to see it this way *because the reality is exactly its opposite.* That is, they explained not only what we saw, told us why our perception was wrong but, more importantly, *told us too why we had to perceive it the way we do.* (This was the novelty of the ‘Heliocentric theory’. Aristarchus, I think his name was, had long, long ago developed the ‘heliocentric’ theory as a possible model without, however, doing what Galileo’s explanation could, i.e. explain the ‘necessity’ of this perception.) The ‘facts’ and ‘data’ were the ‘same’ for both the geo- and helio-centric theories. The difference lay in their theories and, you will admit, what a difference it made!

In this sense, the difference between the current and the ‘new’ social sciences will be of the *same kind*. Believe me, when I tell you this in all seriousness, there is and there will be a *world* of a difference between what is and what is going to be. Of course, this is not yet enough for you to know the ‘quality’ of the wine. Let me pour you a small glass, so that you may taste it for yourself.

(d) Since this wine is coming from my cellar, you are beholden to listen to me about how I acquired it. Such tales are not only a part of the ritual of tasting good wines but they also add to the taste of the wine. Nowhere is this analogy more apt than with respect to what I am now going to say.

For a couple of years now, I am irresistibly pulled in the direction of ‘aadhyaatma’. More often than not and with increasing frequency, I contemplate on going on what we call ‘vaanaprastha’. I would have done it by now, were it not for the fact that I still have to do certain things as a ‘gruhastha’; but the pull is increasing. (No doubt, it has to do with my age and my cultural education; I am glad of them both, but this explanation does not lessen the force of the pull.) In any case, I have slowly started revisiting (in a manner that is *different* from the way I visit other books and articles, and I find myself spending more and more time doing so) some of the texts and some of the authors from the Indian traditions. Here are just two examples of the results of this ‘revisiting’.

(1) Most of us know the following verses from the Gita that begins with “Yadaa Yadaa hi dharmasya” and ends with “sambhavaami Yuge Yuge.” Permit me to give a rough translation of these four lines for the sake of this discussion:
“Whenever Dharma begins to wane and Adharma waxes, which happens in each Yuga;
To protect the good and punish the wicked, and to re-establish dharma, I fashion myself.”

You also know how most have been taught to interpret these verses: Krishna’s *avataara* occurs in each ‘Yuga’ and that it has either already taken place in our Yuga, or that it will still happen again, etc.

However, if you read it again with the eyes of a twenty first-century human being, here is what is striking and, if true, breath-taking. These verses are telling us the following (I am going to *reformulate* the substance of these verses in my terminology and not just provide an ‘interpretation’): There is an assumption that there is a process of *learning* to be moral and that this is a learning process in society. It is inevitable, this is the second assumption, any social learning process can and does undergo *degeneration*. From this it follows, this is what the verses now describe, that: when such a degeneration of the learning process occurs, at some critical phase in the degeneration at the level of society, other mechanisms in society are going to *kick in* and regenerate this learning process (i.e. the process of learning to be moral).

This is a breath-taking claim about the nature of moral learning in India (let us keep it confined to India at the moment). Of course, they (the writer/writers of Gita) formulate this ‘insight’ using the images *familiar* to them about Krishna and his ‘avataaras’. But that need not detain us. But what should, is their insight into the nature of society. Where and how did they discover these things? How did they discuss these things? What kind of a research did they do so that they came to have this extraordinary insight? This insight, even if it proves to be wrong, is *light years ahead* of any extant psychological or sociological theory about moral learning and moral development that you care to mention.

So, just these two verses are formulating a scientific hypothesis *in the best sense of the term* about the nature of moral learning. Believe me Rudra, I am dumb struck. The western culture has not even *suspected* the existence of what these verses *take for granted* (for example, the two assumptions I have just identified). How and why did the Indians think of these things those many thousands of years ago?

(2) A second example of a different kind, which is equally random. You know that Indians are alleged to believe in the ‘doctrine of Punarjanma’ (rebirth). You know too that either it causes ‘embarrassment’ to the scientifically minded Indians or generates indifference in them. You also know, I suppose, that this ‘doctrine’ plays an important role in the ‘Hindu’ traditions, the ‘Buddhist’ and the ‘Jain’ traditions. So, how to understand this ‘doctrine’? (I will not talk here about the modern Indian philosophy because, I find that the worst place to begin understanding anything Indian is the modern Indian philosophy. But this is an irrelevant pot-shot.)
To understand this, I first need to set the problem up. Some Indian traditions claim that there is a difference between ‘aatma gyana’ (or aatma vidya) and ‘Brahma gyana’ (or Brahma vidya): the first precedes the second and the second follows the first. Despite this, the transition is neither smooth nor self-evident. So, what is the difficulty here?
If you look at Shankaracharya (say his *Aatmabodha*, for example), you can see what kind of a difficulty he is talking about. It is what we call ‘the problem of Induction’, i.e. how could we make a universal statement on the basis of any number finite singular observations? (By observing that 10 Mexicans have a sombrero on, how justified are we in making the statement ‘all Mexicans wear Sombreros’?) It transpires that the transition from Aatmagyana to Brahmagyana (at an *experiential level* and not as an abstract philosophical problem) involves such a difficulty: to go from the particular aatman to the universal Brahman. (This is not esoteric, but experiential.) Here is what Shankara says: one must use yukti (‘tricks’). He also gives an example of such a ‘yukti’: ‘neti neti’ (not thus, not thus). In our modern day terminology, it merely means that one needs to use some cognitive strategies (i.e. heuristics, algorithms, rules of thumb, however you may want to call them) and ‘neti, neti’ is one such. You know what is another such cognitive strategy? Exactly: the ‘doctrine’ of punarjanma. (I will not go into how this strategy works, etc. on this thread.)
What does this mean? The ‘doctrine’ of Punarjanma is not a ‘doctrine’: it is not a *description of the world* at all, but a cognitive strategy! If it is that, then we can understand why the ‘Buddhists’ speak of ‘punarjanma’ even when they deny the existence of ‘aatman’ and not face cognitive embarrassment. Not only that: if it is a cognitive strategy, it *must* be a recognizable part of the Buddhist ‘meditation’. If any one has followed Buddhist meditation, you will know that this ‘doctrine’ is used as a visualisation technique in the process of generating certain kinds of emotions. Why is it that generations of Indian and western scholars insist talking about the ‘doctrine’ of punarjanma and fail to see for what it is?

You see Rudra, my research programme generates these kinds of reformulations of the ‘ancient’ Indian traditions. (As far as I know, I am the only one who is making such extraordinary claims.) Tell me, would these constitute some indications of what it means to take steps in the process of building an ‘alternate’ social science?

Of course, this is just a sip of the wine: to prove that it is not sour, or is not over the hill. It has yet to reach its prime, and we have many more tons of grapes to harvest yet. But is it worth the effort? Is it promising? What do you think?

Friendly greetings


Rahul Mehta
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2577
Joined: 22 Nov 2001 12:31
Location: Ahmedabad, India --- Bring JurySys in India

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Rahul Mehta » 16 Sep 2002 18:32

moved the post to thread titled Misc Topics

-Rahul Mehta

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 17 Sep 2002 21:55

There are some deep philosophical insights in the discussion above as well as in the original article by Rajiv Malhotra. I trust at least some will find the time to understand what is happening to the protrayal of Indic traditions in America today. To say that this has implications on the future of the Indic civilization is an understatement.


BRF Oldie
Posts: 14220
Joined: 09 Feb 1999 12:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby svinayak » 18 Sep 2002 04:17

I have been reading a book
'A History of Pagan Europe' by Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick
Some of the things said by Balu can be read in this book.

Why this topic is important is that; there is seeds of intellectual renaissance in India which will be a major force in changing the Indian perception about the world in about 10 years. Along with this the economic transformation of India, will change how the world will look at India in about a decade or so.

Posts: 623
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Calvin » 22 Sep 2002 03:14

I would not count on the coming renaissance in Indian body politic. For one, such a renaissance requires a recognition that such a renaissance needs to be sustained in some fashion.

There is no doubt that we are approaching a critical mass in several respects, poverty levels, literacy levels, educational levels etc.

Nonetheless, the last 3 years (Pokhran II) have represented a sense of stagnation in many respects. We have been running, for sure, but only to stay in place.

We are getting caught up in a paradigm that we are unable to break, which break we must.

BRF Oldie
Posts: 9870
Joined: 23 Oct 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby A_Gupta » 23 Sep 2002 08:08

I have a 1985 paper by Prof. Balu, which is a proposal on an approach to the social sciences.

While it is written in simple language, it is not easy reading. It is some 72 pages long, and the file is in Rich Text Format (RTF).

If you want a copy, send me an email at username@domain, where


(Just trying to outwit the spam-bots here !).


BRF Oldie
Posts: 7037
Joined: 12 Jun 1999 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Muppalla » 13 Oct 2002 11:01


Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 31 Oct 2002 22:55

The definition of 'secular'

Arvind Lavakare

The definition of 'secular'
It is on record that 'at least twice in the Constituent Assembly
efforts were made to make a specific mention of the principle of
secularism in the Constitution. For example, an amendment had sought
to ensure that no law could be made which discriminates between man
and man on the basis of religion, or applies to adherents of any one
religion and leaves others untouched. All such amendments were
summarily rejected by Dr Ambedkar. Later... he made it clear that he
did not believe that our Constitution was secular because it allowed
different treatment to various communities.' (Subhash C Kashyap, a
renowned constitutional authority, in Reforming The Constitution,
UBS Publishers & Distributors, 1992).

It is a fact of history that despite Ambedkar's erudite view above,
the Indira Gandhi government's Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act,
1976, thrust the term 'secular' into the Preamble of the
Constitution without defining or explaining the significance of that
term. It was, you see, the period of the Emergency, and Madam Gandhi
didn't need to explain anything to anyone.

It is another fact of history that the Congress party of the Nehru
dynasty ran away from the definition of 'secular' in 1978. That was
when ex-Congressman Morarji Desai's Janata Party government
introduced the Constitution (45th Amendment) Bill seeking to
define 'secular' to mean 'equal respect for all religions'. The Bill
was passed in the Lok Sabha where the Janata government had a large
majority, but was voted down in the Rajya Sabha by the Congress
party's majority in that house. The result: the nation has been
subjected to a harangue of 'secular' language and to a haemorrhage
of 'secularism' by those 'intellectuals' in the media or elsewhere
who have never been called to explain those two words.

Indeed, there are people around who endorse the term remaining
undefined. Thus, A M Ahmadi, a former chief justice of India, is on
record as having said that 'the term "secular" has advisedly not
been defined presumably because it is a very elastic term not
capable of a precise definition and perhaps best left undefined' (S
R Bommai v Union of India, 1994, AIR SCW 2946 pg 2992).

Judges are known to pronounce verdicts based on reference to the
Oxford and other internationally recognised dictionaries. But
someone holding the nation's highest judicial office ignores that
word's dictionary definitions such as 'not concerned with religion'
and 'keeping State and education independent of religion' and even
the Janata Party government's definition of 'equal respect for all
religions'. Instead, he prefers the shelter of undefined 'secular'.

The result of such nebulousness is clear: one can be 'very elastic'
and interpret 'secular' according to one's fancy and fetish. One can
thus consider the Muslim League as 'secular' though that party
doesn't sport a member of any other community, and one can consider
the BJP as 'communal' (also known as 'anti-secular') although it has
a Muslim as a member of the nation's council of ministers, another
Muslim as a party general secretary, yet another Muslim as its most
respected leader in Rajasthan, Christian members from Jabalpur,
Mizoram and Nagaland and a Sikh as a prominent party spokesman in
television discussions. Similarly, one can dub the pope 'secular'
though he has openly pronounced that man's salvation lies only
through Christianity.

Some other results of our undefined 'secular' country are as follows:

The government extends financial assistance to religious
institutions. Why, under the 1925 Sikh Gurdwara Act, the state
government spends millions of rupees for conducting elections to the
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee that controls Akali
The State allows public celebration of religious functions. Why, the
holders of the highest offices of state and tallest political
leaders make it a point to visit religious shrines and make a
demonstration of paying obeisance to imams or cardinals or sadhus or
The state grants funds to educational institutions run for the
benefit of one religion only. Why, the Government of India and state
governments share the financial burden of 'modernisation' of
madrassas and the Aligarh Muslim University is run entirely on
government grants.
Minority educational institutions can prescribe religious courses
and appoint or dismiss a teacher/faculty member according to their
whims, but rules and regulations are in force for majority religion
educational bodies. The various interpretations of the Supreme Court
on Articles 29 and 30 have ensured that unholy scenario.
Government subsidises the salaries of imams, naib imams and muezzins
of mosques, but not of granthis in gurdwaras and pujaris in temples.
Why, the Supreme Court itself has prescribed the scale of these
subsidies, which amounted to over Rs 6,000 million annually,
according to a publication of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Nyasa.
Though the Jama Masjid of Delhi is not classified as a protected
monument, Rs 0.7 million were doled out to it in the eighties by the
governments of Indira Gandhi and V P Singh, while nearly Rs 10
million were spent on that institution by the department of
archaeology between 1990 and 1996. This 'secular' largesse is in
contrast to the denial of even a rupee to ancient Hindu temples like
Badrinath and Kedarnath.
Government-appointed administrators run several Hindu temple trusts
while the mosques of Hazratbal and Charar-e-Sharif are free of such
Public holidays for religious occasions are accepted as being in
consonance with a 'secular' State. Why, V P Singh's government
declared the birthday of the Prophet as a gazetted holiday although
no Islamic country gives that privilege to its citizens.
It is the above perverse version of 'secular' that's been in vogue
in India for 50 years and more. And yet it is precisely that
undefined 'secular' which the Kesavananda Bharati majority judgment
(1973) of the Supreme Court held as being part of the basic
structure of our Constitution that Parliament could not alter. And
in the case of S R Bommai v Union of India (1994), 'secularism'
(whatever it may mean) was pronounced as a basic feature of our
That is why N S Rajaram, a leading pro-Hindutva intellectual, had,
in an article in Organiser of June 18, 2000, warned that 'it is only
a matter of time before the Hindus see through this fraud'. He
warned that, if uncorrected, what existed was a ticking time bomb
leading the country to chaos and conflict. The apparently endless
mob violence in Gujarat following the Godhra carnage of karsevaks
returning from Ram's Ayodhya is a traumatic, tragic reminder of that
unheeded warning. Rajaram's article had therefore pleaded for a
Constitution that does not allow room for discrimination in any
shape or form.

It's a great pity therefore that the National Commission to Review
the Working of the Constitution simply shut out the resolution of
that deadly, dangerous issue by recommending a definition
of 'secular' and 'secularism' even when, as its tenure was ending,
the nation was witness to the gory aftermath of Godhra.

The irony of it all is that the NCRWC was headed by M N
Venkatachaliah, who, on the day he retired as India's chief justice
in 1994, had told PTI in an interview that secularism cannot mean

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 01 Nov 2002 12:16

Rajeev Srinivasan

Fear of Engineering
I have been noticing an interesting phenomenon for some time, but it reached a crescendo with the ascent of Abdul Kalam to the post of President of India. The rise of the humble aeronautical engineer to the nation's highest post coincided with a flurry of articles and statements in the Indian media that demean and attack scientists and engineers. I conclude, following in Erica Jong's footsteps, that 'Fear of Engineering' is the root cause. You remember Jong and the zipless you-know-what, don't you?

Anyway, the first inkling I got about the fear of engineering was in something by a particularly puerile (but definitely cute: I saw her photograph somewhere) 'secular progressive' columnist: she named many right-wing Hindus with backgrounds in science. Since right-wing Hindus are scum, implied she, those who study science must ipso facto be scum. Her logic is wrong, of course: she ascribes to the whole an attribute of the part. The interesting allegation is the connection between right-wing-ness and science. Are right-wingers more prone to study science rather than humanities? Or is the causality the other way, that is, they studied science, therefore they became right wing? She didn't say.

More recently I saw a magazine interview with the celebrated author Amitav Ghosh, where he said something to the effect that a lot of fundamentalists are engineers with banal ideas about religion. Charitably, he didn't confine this to Hindu engineers alone, but gave the impression that engineers of all religious persuasions had banal ideas about religion. I wondered why he focused on engineers alone. Do doctors have non-banal ideas about religion? Do physicists? Do botanists? Or for that matter, what about economists? Lawyers? Ghosh did not elaborate.

Now it is surprisingly politically incorrect of these people to pick on a set of people and impute certain characteristics to them. We are all aware of the Bell Curve and the perils of broad-brush stereotyping. I mean, imagine if the first columnist were to say all Buddhists were scum, or if Ghosh said all Christians have banal ideas about religion. There would be an uproar. This is another example of how the 'secular progressive' cabal is able to compartmentalize its concerns: religious minorities get all their solicitous attention, but not, for instance, linguistic minorities.

Personally, I have never claimed to be politically correct, so I am entitled to generalize, and I shall do so quite happily below.

I have to make some disclaimers here in the interests of full disclosure. My parents are both retired professors of the humanities, and whatever I say about the humanities types applies mostly to the younger generation: for in my parents' young days, it was not the case that every bright student wanted a technical education in engineering or medicine to guarantee them a livelihood. In their day, the liberal arts had not yet become monotheistic cults regurgitating received wisdom from Beijing, the Vatican, Deoband or Chicago.

Furthermore, I have my degrees in engineering and management, so attacks on these technical subjects I do take a little personally. Some Canadian woman (waving her PhD) once suggested that, because of my background, I couldn't possibly understand the humanities. I asked her, based on the general (low) level of intelligence she exhibited, if she had bought her PhD on the web. She was most offended. I must confess though that one of the best insults I ever got in my hate mail pile was from some Malayalee fellow (therefore possibly a Marxist) who suggested that I should ask for my tuition fees back from IIT and Stanford, for I had obviously not learned anything there! Touche!

In any case, it is pretty clear that some people have a rather poor opinion of either pure or applied scientists. And in particular, a bone to pick with engineers. This of course is a gauntlet waiting to be picked up; and there have been some retorts. P V Indiresan, former director of IIT Madras, responded with an article. And of course, there is always the old Samuel C Florman classic, The Existential Pleasures of Engineering, to fall back upon.

Why this disdain for the T-square brigade? The Indiresan article suggests that it is pretty safe to abuse engineers, because they are generally inarticulate and tongue-tied, diffident, and poor communicators. They do not react, nor do they get much media airtime or column inches. Quite. But then a few upstart engineers are spoiling the whole thing by speaking up, rationally and logically. They are beginning to upset the cozy apple carts set up by humanities types, especially those from the Jawaharlal Nehru University cabal. Said JNU-bots are appalled. Naturally. I mean, how dare these engineers...?

These JNU people have, ever since the BJP came to power, been on the defensive. Their comfortable sinecures as court historians and hagiographers have come under a microscope. They had for fifty years labored mightily, and successfully, with a few simple agendas:

The glorification of the Nehru dynasty
The downplaying of Indian history, Sanskrit, and anything else native
The myth-making about some imaginary composite culture based largely on imported ideas
A prime example, of course, is the Aryan Invasion Fairy Tale. It suits the humanities types (and their many sponsors and financiers overseas) to keep drilling into the minds of impressionable Indian children and youth the idea that there is nothing of value that is wholly Indian, and that India is entirely a second-rate, imitative, culture. Which I suppose creates a better market for Euro/American and Chinese goods and ideas. And keeps India forever servile and backward.

It bothers the JNU types that many of those challenging both their cherished shibboleths and their neo-colonialist processes are engineers and computer scientists. For example, N S Rajaram, Subhash Kak, Rajiv Malhotra. That many are Non Resident Indians adds fuel to the fire. There have been quite a few articles from for example, the formidable Anita Pratap, simply bashing NRIs as though they were collectively some kind of troglodytes. Appalling, an NRI engineer, my god, how awful that these people dare challenge the obvious superior wisdom of us flat-earth, 'creationist' humanities types!

I am again reminded of Galileo Galilei and his encounters with the Vatican. Some people just can't take new ideas lying down: like the Vatican which finally recognized that the earth revolves around the sun 300 years later (in 1980 or so), it will take JNU about 200 years to accept that the Aryan Invasion Twinkle-Toes Tale is bunkum.

There is a particularly illuminating and entertaining discussion going on at as I write this. Rajiv Malhotra triggered it off with an essay on the representation of Hinduism in American academic circles. One might think this obscure stuff, but Malhotra showed how this has a significant impact on real life decisions: the negative images of India and Hinduism affect how India and Indians are treated in all sorts of ways, much as the positive images created by the Needham Project have helped the Chinese project themselves forcefully in the Western psyche.

Warming up to his subject, Malhotra then launched a spirited but cogent attack on the self proclaimed guardians of religious studies, the Religion in South Asia group, a rather exclusive group of academicians who look down their noses at those outside their clique. In particular, he pointed out that the den-mother of Indology studies, Wendy Doniger (formerly O'Flaherty) of the University of Chicago and her band of acolytes have a strangle-hold on the academic representation of Hinduism. Alarmingly, they also have a supremely Orientalist and dismissive, unabashedly racist, attitude towards Hinduism. And they do not agree that those in the tradition, the believers, could possibly have a valid opinion on said representation. See RISA Lila 1: Wendy's Child Syndrome.

Malhotra's point was that Wendy Doniger and her brood both misrepresent Hinduism and insult it, and that they essentially indulge in intellectual terrorism. The responses were quite interesting. One Patrick Hogan (apparently a Wendy's Child) came back with the rash, superficial, patronizing and inane Ten Reasons Why Anyone Who Cares About Hinduism Should Be Grateful To Wendy Doniger. When his arguments were soundly thrashed by lay readers - indeed thoroughly and systematically demolished - Hogan refused to respond.

Then came Jeffrey Kripal, infamous for his distasteful and ultimately dishonest study of Ramakrishna, wherein he accuses the sage of being a repressed homosexual, based almost entirely on his misinterpretation (deliberate, says Swami Tyagananda of the Ramakrishna Mission in his thorough and scholarly critique) of Bengali texts, Bengali being a language Kripal does not speak or read. (Despite the Indian sounding name, Kripal is white.) It is also likely that Kripal is projecting his own psychological needs or fears on to the sage. He wrote The Tantric Truth of the Matter defending his work. S N Balagangadhara rebutted him in India and Her Traditions: A Reply to Jeffrey Kripal and plenty of lay readers also responded. Once again, the 'Indologist' was annihilated; once again, Rajiv Malhotra's basic point about insincere and malicious academics was proven amply.

How extraordinarily like India's own JNU cult this Wendy Doniger cabal is! I am struck by the equivalence between Romila Thapar and her brood and Wendy Doniger and hers.

Furthemore, Sankrant Sanu, in a brilliant deconstruction, Are Hinduism studies prejudiced? A look at Microsoft Encarta, showed how the chapter on Hinduism in the most popular encyclopedia in the US, used especially by impressionable children, is grossly unfair. Not surprisingly, the Encarta chapter was written by Wendy Doniger herself, an unsympathetic, unbelieving outsider obsessed with the presenting the most simplistic, indeed most base and often titillating interpretations of highly symbolic Hinduism. In comparison, the very sympathetic Encarta chapters on Islam and Christianity are written by believers, insiders who go out of their way to explain the symbolic meanings, for example in the rite of Christians consuming the 'flesh and blood' of Jesus: something that looks rather a lot like cannibalism to an uninitiated outsider. Imagine the field day Doniger would have had with this if it were part of Hinduism!

Interestingly, it was (mostly) a set of NRI engineers who accomplished the feat of exposing these people, logically and (generally) dispassionately debating the points raised by Kripal and Hogan. Granted, there were experts, non engineer non NRIs, too; however, the bulk of the respondents were NRI engineers, as they are most comfortable with the Internet and e-discussions. Interestingly, the comments were surprisingly thoughtful and erudite: frankly, more knowledgeable than I would have given an Internet forum credit for. And that brings me to a hypothesis: technologists, who have to deal with the complexities of the real world, are intellectually equipped to debate humanities people even in their own specialties.

Yes, an engineer can comment sensibly on politics, economics, even religious studies, but someone from those disciplines will be baffled by complex engineering concepts. This is not to say that technical tasks are more important - clearly not, for brainwashing people on a large scale is much easier for those who control history - but let the humanities types beware: and I believe they do. Thus the fear of engineering.

Tomorrow: Rajeev Srinivasan on Fear of NRIs

Rajeev Srinivasan

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 02 Nov 2002 23:30

crossposted from the Hinduism in Bali thread where this was originally posted by bikram:

"I think Rajiv Srinivasan's article is quite fascinating, I can't say whether it is quite appropriate for this forum though but......

These NRI engineers have also come to realize that there is something precious in India that is under grave threat from the Sino-Islamic axis and Christian fundamentalists.

And they have begun to organize; and the results are beginning to appear. Partly through NRI assertiveness, but mostly through local strategy, the Hindu right wing is beginning to get its act together regarding vulnerable Dalits and Adivasis and about the leftist-missionary stranglehold on education. Note the signal Supreme Court ruling that has, finally after 50 years of Nehruvian Stalinist fascism, allowed the school curriculum to reflect some ground realities as well as the results of new research.

As a result of all this, it is getting to be a little more difficult for Christian cultists to prey on unsuspecting tribals or to brainwash children. Thus the increasing 'secular' 'progressive' paranoia and fear of NRIs. If said NRIs become more influential, with their wealth and their general savvy, the increasing irrelevance of the Nehruvian Stalinist dinosaurs will be accelerated. Their patrons in American- and Vatican-funded missionary circles would not approve at all.

A few months ago, I was talking to a 'secular progressive' journalist, and he mentioned in passing how there was a lot of NRI money coming in from the US to support right wing Hindu activities. I was startled, for any NRI Hindu money would be a mere pittance as compared to the absolute billions funneled into India for Wah'abi mosques by Saudi Arabia and the ISI, and on conversion/terrorism activities by the Vatican, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostals and sundry Christian cults. (In Tripura, Christian terrorists have killed many Hindus; in Mizoram, they have ethnically cleansed Hindus.)

Soon thereafter, there was a flurry of reports in the media, especially in the ........"

SK Mody
Posts: 251
Joined: 15 Mar 2002 12:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby SK Mody » 03 Nov 2002 11:36

A look at Microsoft Encarta, showed how the chapter on Hinduism in the most popular encyclopedia in the US, used especially by impressionable children, is grossly unfair. Not surprisingly, the Encarta chapter was written by Wendy Doniger ...
Ah, that explains the enlightening and wonderously content free statements in Encarta such as(See the anti-defamation thread):
“Although Hindus believe and do many apparently contradictory things -- contradictory not merely from one Hindu to the next, but also within the daily religious life of a single Hindu -- each individual perceives an orderly pattern that gives form and meaning to his or her own life.”
Mama explaining to her children what hinduism is all about. The fact that one can say exactly the same thing about any person on this planet (just replace the word "hindu" by the word "person(s)") seems to have escaped the author. It boggles the mind that one who has supposedly studied the religion all her life can cannot go beyond such mindless cliche's in describing it. On the bright side one can treat it as an admission of defeat. One can treat the statement as saying - "Look I don't really understand what this yindoo thing really is but basically it is like this thing .. you know .. it can be pretty cool - its really all about people and stuff..."

The social sciences desperately need some engineers.


Rahul Mehta
BRF Oldie
Posts: 2577
Joined: 22 Nov 2001 12:31
Location: Ahmedabad, India --- Bring JurySys in India

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Rahul Mehta » 03 Nov 2002 16:17

Originally posted by S.K.Mody:
The social sciences desperately need some engineers.
You will be wasting the engineers' time.

More on this in the thread titled "Misc Topics"

-Rahul Mehta

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 06 Nov 2002 06:39

A must read;

The Groan-I: Loss of Scholarship and High Drama in 'South Asian' Studies
Yvette C. Rosser

Posts: 270
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Amitabh » 06 Nov 2002 23:26

However, it looses all plausibility when we realise that, for instance, social sciences use one and the same ‘epistemology’ to analyse both the west and India and that despite this, their claims about India reproduce the ‘Indological truths.’ (Those who do not believe me are invited to dip, for example, into those multiple theories of ‘the Indian Caste System’: from the sociobiological theories of a Van den Berghe – a sociologist – through the social choice theories of an Olson jr. – an economist-cum-political scientist. Even a book that wants to criticise the writings that ‘deny agency’ to the Indians, ‘Castes of Mind’ of Nicholas Dirks, ends up doing nothing else than ‘deny agency to the Indians’.) Quite clearly, ‘the problem’ cannot be solved by ‘discovering’ some or another pet epistemology (like Ronald Inden does, in appealing to Collingwood).
At one level, I find Prof. Balu's remarks more akin to philisophical musings than directly relevant to social science, as it is practiced. It is not self-evident that applying techniques developed in Western social science are inapplicable to the Indian (or Chinese or Nigerian) situation. It has to be established why. My beef with commentaries such as these -- and there are plenty in academia -- is that devoid of context they simply sound good. Perhaps the 1985 paper will be more specific.

On the other extreme, there exists the tendency to conflate critiques of individual works with entire approaches. So if a reviewer has a problem with Wendy Doniger's work, does this discredit an entire approach? After all, the same approach has also produced a Nick Dirks. (Perhaps we are witness to the phenomenon that academics love to claim that their personal preferences are in fact profound philosophic disagreements.)

Another concern is that differences that are essentially ideological (did the Aryans invade India, is India a multicultural nation) are strategically repackaged as debates over method or epistemology. This pattern is evident from the changing tone of the articles above, which have changed the topic from "are western epistemologies appropriate to the Indian context" to "are western or secular academics biased against Hinduism".

Forum Moderator
Posts: 48122
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby ramana » 07 Nov 2002 04:18

Rajeev Srinivasan's: Fear of NRIs, fear of numbers, fear of logic

Rajeev Srinivasan

Fear of NRIs, fear of numbers, fear of logic
Part I: Fear of Engineering

There is also a collective 'Fear of NRIs,' I think, along with the irrational fear of engineering. The 'secular progressives' realize that NRIs, and in particular NRI engineers, especially those who made money in the high tech boom of the 1990s, are not so likely to swallow their propaganda. (Another disclaimer: I do recognize the very real problems a lot of NRIs have, of cultural confusion and displacement, but in the eyes of the JNU-ites, NRIs form a cohesive and frightening force.) These NRIs have seen the world and done well in fully competitive circles, do not have inferiority complexes, and do not need to suck up to some white academic like Doniger for crumbs like travel grants, which the 'sepoys' of Indology in India crave.

In other words, the NRI engineers are shouting from the rooftops, 'The Emperor has no clothes!' This is, of course, distressing to those who have been supplying non-existent clothes to the Emperor and profiting mightily therefrom.

These NRI engineers have also come to realize that there is something precious in India that is under grave threat from the Sino-Islamic axis and Christian fundamentalists.

And they have begun to organize; and the results are beginning to appear. Partly through NRI assertiveness, but mostly through local strategy, the Hindu right wing is beginning to get its act together regarding vulnerable Dalits and Adivasis and about the leftist-missionary stranglehold on education. Note the signal Supreme Court ruling that has, finally after 50 years of Nehruvian Stalinist fascism, allowed the school curriculum to reflect some ground realities as well as the results of new research.

As a result of all this, it is getting to be a little more difficult for Christian cultists to prey on unsuspecting tribals or to brainwash children. Thus the increasing 'secular' 'progressive' paranoia and fear of NRIs. If said NRIs become more influential, with their wealth and their general savvy, the increasing irrelevance of the Nehruvian Stalinist dinosaurs will be accelerated. Their patrons in American- and Vatican-funded missionary circles would not approve at all.

A few months ago, I was talking to a 'secular progressive' journalist, and he mentioned in passing how there was a lot of NRI money coming in from the US to support right wing Hindu activities. I was startled, for any NRI Hindu money would be a mere pittance as compared to the absolute billions funneled into India for Wah'abi mosques by Saudi Arabia and the ISI, and on conversion/terrorism activities by the Vatican, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostals and sundry Christian cults. (In Tripura, Christian terrorists have killed many Hindus; in Mizoram, they have ethnically cleansed Hindus.)

Soon thereafter, there was a flurry of reports in the media, especially in the US media, about how money from US Hindus was helping Hindu militants in India. Two things were obvious: one, it is meant to equate Hindu 'militancy' with Islamic militancy, which is currently under a microscope in the US, and where links by US Muslim organizations with the Taliban and al Qaeda are being investigated. The fact that Hindu 'militancy' is pretty mellow and consists primarily of shouting a few slogans - definitely no flying planes into tall buildings is involved - is conveniently ignored. Two, this is a concerted and organized campaign, presumably led by the lunatic fringe Marxists-with-Hindu-names in the US. It did not 'just happen': there is malice aforethought.

But I digress. There is yet another fear: the 'fear of numbers and logic.' Engineers are brought up on numbers and logic, whereas a lot of Indians are functionally innumerate and illogical, especially those in the humanities. As Indiresan correctly points out, the natural sciences deal with immutable laws of nature, whereas the humanities deal with man-made laws, which are generally not based on fact, but on opinion.

I have an empirical observation: merely by throwing a few numbers at them, you can intimidate many humanities people. In years of writing columns and receiving my share of hate mail, I have seldom come across a humanities type contesting my data. They may rant and rave about what a horrible person I am, and perhaps about how little I understand their disciplines, but they hardly ever challenge the numbers. I shall, uncharitably, conclude that this is because they are innumerate. They must be the ones keeping India's lottery business going, as they fail to understand that they are almost 100% likely to lose their money.

But far more alarmingly, some humanities types are also illogical. To illustrate this, I'm afraid I have to pick on someone who is one of my favorite columnists: Renuka Naryanan of The Indian Express. There are a few female columnists whose work I always read: Sandhya Jain, Sucheta Dalal, Renuka Narayanan, and, of course, my friend Varsha Bhosle.

When I read Sandhya Jain's rational and well thought-out work, I am consumed with envy: I wish I had written that! In Sucheta Dalal's elegant and precise columns I find an encyclopedic knowledge of Indian business. Renuka Narayanan's erudition and knowledge of both the performing arts and religion are stunning. And Varsha, well, she's in a class of her own, my warlike friend: she reminds me of Rumpole of the Bailey and his 'She Who Must Be Obeyed.'

Yet, despite Renuka Narayanan's erudition, I find her grossly illogical, as a result of her extreme political correctness. In one of her columns, she claimed that 'Allah belongs to India as much as to Arabia.' Fine sentiment, indeed, but I believe this is blasphemy. For Allah, as far as I know, shows a very clear preference for Arabia and Arabs and, indeed, generally speaks in Arabic. If her intention is to say that Islam is universal, well, she should simply say so. Otherwise, I could counter with 'Yahweh belongs to Arabia as much as to Israel,' or 'The Buddha belongs to Arabia as much as to Thailand,' which I don't think anybody in their right mind would claim.

Similarly, Narayanan recently said she was ashamed of Hinduism because a Muslim Kashmiri acquaintance of hers had been abused and kicked by a ticket examiner in a train just because he was wearing Muslim Kashmiri clothing. Now she is guilty of at least four logical fallacies. One, she is attributing motives by assuming Mr Kicker is a practicing and religious Hindu and that he kicked the Muslim precisely because he is a practicing, religious Hindu. Yet she does not tell the reader why she concludes that Mr Kicker is not a. a Marxist, b. a Christian, c. a Muslim of some other persuasion, say Shia or Ahmediya or Sufi, d. an atheist, e. just a jerk.

Two, she is guilty of rapid generalization: even if Mr Kicker is a Hindu, it does not follow that all Hindus are like Mr Kicker. Three, she is guilty of callisthenic leaps of faith, no pun intended. I am not aware of anything in Hinduism that suggests kicking Muslim Kashmiris, so why should anybody be ashamed of Hinduism for Mr. Kicker's actions even if he's a Hindu? Four, this is known as 'poisoning the well,' casting aspersions on an opponent's character, rather than focusing on his arguments, by putting any Hindu interlocutor on the defensive by insinuating he should be ashamed.

Another example of her lack of logic (or common sense) was her claim that when colonial and Christianity-crazed Portuguese sailors in distress off the Chennai coast were guided to safety by a mysterious light emanating from the Kapaleeshwar temple, 'they built a church right next to it.' I have news for Narayanan, although in fact I am sure she knows this already. The Portuguese did not build a church 'next' to the temple, they built it 'over' the temple. That's right, they demolished the ancient temple that had stood there for at least a thousand years, and built their San Thome Cathedral right on top of it! For full details, see Ishwar Sharan's book, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, (Voice of India, 1991), excerpts on the Web at

Finally, almost all of Narayanan's columns have gratuitous positive references to Sufism. Since Sufism is accepted as part of Islam, and Islam has well defined behavior for all Muslims, it is exactly as tolerant or peaceful or spiritual as Islam generally is. At best, it is a marketing variant, meant for the consumption of particular groups of people. It cannot be fundamentally different, or it would be a heresy. Yet, many of India's painfully PC people ascribe to Sufis, their music and their dance and their spirituality, some grossly over-rated importance. In effect, the claim is that whatever spirituality Hinduism can boast of, Sufism has the same or better. Jalaluddin Rumi this, qawwali, that. Wah-wah! Why, I don't know. After all, Sufis are the original whirling dervishes: the object of mirth in many travelogues. Why the pinnacle of Indian music and dance are supposed to be Sufi I shall never know. It must be yet another example of dhimmitude, Nehru style, that is, Islamic=good, Hindu=bad. Persian and Arabic=good, Sanskrit=bad.

It's unfair of me to pick on Renuka Narayanan, but her dhimmitude (in relation to both Christianity and Islam) is particularly galling, as she is clearly not brain-dead, unlike most of the 'secular progressives' in the Indian media.

Coming back to engineers, I guess it must be pretty clear by now that they are bad people. But wait, not all of them. There is at least one IIT Madras product who is a big wheel at Frontline (isn't that China's national magazine?); an IIT Kanpur product is a big shot at Outlook magazine; another IITian is Sandeep Pandey of ASHA, Magsaysay award winner and advocate of separatism for Kashmir. Jairam Ramesh, Congress bigwig, is from IIT Bombay. Does the fact that these folks exist and are 'secular progressive' give at least a temporary reprieve to engineers? I guess not.

Those who demean science and technology would be well advised to wonder why they call one of their specialties 'Political Science.' Is this like 'Palmistry Science'? Or 'Creation Science'? What is scientific about it? And why is Economics the 'dismal science'? My belief is that humanities types secretly admire the precision and reproducibility of scientific disciplines. And naturally they trash that which they are in awe of and cannot understand.

Just look at the new-fangled humanities curricula in the market. Unbelievable that people actually pay good money to take these courses. 'Post-Modern Studies.' 'Cultural Studies.' 'Post-Colonial Studies.' 'Cultural Anthropology.' 'Gender Studies.' 'Deconstruction.' Yeah, 'Advanced Basket-Weaving,' too. A lot of turgid, meaningless texts, which remind me of the Marxist vocabulary that I just love: bourgeois, revanchist, dialectical, revisionist, imperialist running dog, class struggle, etc, and equally arcane stuff. I strongly recommend Foucault and Derrida if you suffer from insomnia.

What is a good way to identify these humanities fraudsters, you ask? Simple: anybody who says 'trope' or 'praxis' is undoubtedly one. If I were you, I wouldn't touch any of their specialties with a barge pole.

I must end with another disclaimer: there are many in the humanities who do excellent work, diligently and with great integrity. I salute them. It is not them that I target, it is the shysters of the media and the self proclaimed 'intelligentsia' who, far from being 'progressive', are the most reactionary elements around. They are the ones, the 'sepoys' in Rajiv Malhotra's terminology that have to be engaged in battle and trounced. They are the ones who have manufactured a mythical history of India; they are the ones who are shouting loudly about errors in textbooks when they have done nothing but bowdlerization for fifty years: see my earlier column on historicide. In short, they are the barbarians within.

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 07 Nov 2002 04:53

I am reminded of the story of Diderot(1713-1784 ce). Diderot was a french
philosopher, belonging to the school known as the Encyclopaedists.
Apparently he was an Atheist. He was at the Court of Catherine the
Great (!) at St.Petersburg haranguing the existence of God.Leonhard
Euler was one of the first of the renaissance Engineers of Europe (responsible for the setup and initiation of the Russian navy) at
the St.Petersburg court at that time. To continue the story

"Augustus De Morgan tells the legend of how the formidable
anticleric Diderot went to the Court at St. Petersburg, where he
gave the younger people 'a good deal of lively atheism', as De
Morgan put it in the Victorian times. The Empress, unwilling to
admonish their learned guest, enlisted old Euler, a straightforward
believer, then in residence, to her cause. 'He advanced towards
Diderot and said gravely, and in a tone of perfect
conviction: "Monsieur, (a+b^n)/n=x, donc Dieu existe; répondez!"
Diderot, to whom algebra was Hebrew, was embarrassed and
disconcerted, while peals of laughter arose on all sides. He asked
permission to return to France at once, which was granted."


Posts: 270
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Amitabh » 07 Nov 2002 22:09

The ironies are too delicious to miss:

Rajeev Srinivasan achieves two goals using a sleight of hand: (1) He claims all NRI tech/engineer types for Hindutva by accepting the cliche made by some leftists that all NRI tech types are in fact sending money to the VHP, and (2) he happily conflates nutty postmodernism with secular India and hence attempts to discredit perfectly valid concerns over the foreign funding of the VHP's activities in India (namely by throwing in the red herring of ISI/Saudi finding of madrasses, as if one justifies the other). The best part is that his effective conflation of hard science & technology with his right wing ideology as a means to critique the left is identical to the West's claim that its ideas and epistemologies are more scientific and hence "truer" than the "East's"! So our man Srinivasan exemplifies what Prof. Balu evidently seeks to critique.

There is nothing more enjoyable for a centrist, non-postmodern/non-Marxist/boring secular fellow like me than a catfight between Marxists and Hindutvavaadis with each accusing the other -- with perfect accuracy -- of peddling mythical histories and writing fictitious textbooks.

To return to the issue of "science", and Mr Srinivasan's rhetorical hijacking of the hard social sciences (the fellow obviously hasn't read much political science) for his cause, let me assure him that the "hardness" or "softness" of a social science or humanity topic is uncorrelated with ideology. It may be that a lot of leftists inhabit history and that a lot of libertarians are economists, but the method itself has no political implications by itself (I can already hear the lefties fuming). There are, for instance, many Marxist game theorists and plenty of conservative political philosophers.

P.S. He has the gall to write that "Hindu 'militancy' is pretty mellow and consists primarily of shouting a few slogans". I bet more than a few Gujjus would beg to differ. Interesting use of "hard facts" old chap.

Imtiaz Ahmed
BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 33
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Chicago

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Imtiaz Ahmed » 07 Nov 2002 22:14

Good to see you back Amitabh.

From the thread on "loss of scientists ..." in the Military Issues Forum:

Imtiaz Ahmed
Member # 115

posted 03 November 2002 10:12 AM

mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...

Not a problem, after all, a peripheral point. But my audit mentality got the better of me coz the affiliation reference had to do with a person who taught me multi-variate statistics. Note: I did not say I learnt it it from him . That is probably because, per Mr.Rajiv Srinivasan, management studies are a science, whereas dismal economists know less math than engineers . Perhaps (while getting his MBA at Stanford), he took a liking for the poetry that passes for Organizational Behavior and "Strategic Management", graduated without having to take a class from the likes of David Kreps, and needs to be told I learnt more math to get trained in economics than I did in his alma mater or while earning my MBA. But engineers are very logical, and Mr. RS is an honorable man.
IP: Logged

Member # 982

posted 03 November 2002 11:55 AM
Imtiaz: Economics may be mathematical, but surely you are not claiming that economic prediction is a mathematical science?

(couldn't resist that - I know, I know, wrong forum..)
IP: Logged

Imtiaz Ahmed
Member # 115

posted 03 November 2002 01:38 PM
Depends on what (data, assumptions and model) informs the prediction. And, the mere use of math does not make anything scientific per se. After all, astrology uses a lot of arithmetic too, and I hear the new powers that be are offering degree courses in it (could not resist it). The lack of math does not make a field voodoo either. Math is useful because it forces one to be internal consistent and explicit about assumptions. Sometimes it can aid intuition too. It does not prevent people from using wrong models or stupid assumptions.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 48122
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby ramana » 13 Nov 2002 03:14

I guess this is the appropriate thread for this.
Inglish writers! Hai Hai!

Posts: 260
Joined: 30 Jul 2001 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby kgoan » 13 Nov 2002 07:34


How come BR is so chock full of IITians and other sci background types? Where are all the hordes of JNU and art degree chaps?

SK Mody
Posts: 251
Joined: 15 Mar 2002 12:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby SK Mody » 17 Nov 2002 22:02

One tactic of the "secular progressive" school of thought is to try to pass off concepts ultimately derived from certain western ideologies as Non-ideologies.

One need only peruse the thread on BRF titled "Desirablity and feasibility of Mandatory Military/Social service in India by 2010" to see how ideas of "self respect", "discipline", and "self confidence", "building character" (what kind of character?) etc are wordlessly asumed to be some sort of neutral concepts (Non-Ideologies) (yeah self respect - cool) while any movement attempting to do the same but rooted in Indian culture is called "Nationalist" or "facist". One would have some respect for these "cool and really sensible" ideas if their proponents honestly acknowledged their source but I think that in most cases, the DDM don't even question the so called "neutrality" of these ideas.


BRF Oldie
Posts: 2052
Joined: 06 Mar 2002 12:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby ShyamSP » 20 Nov 2002 01:40

This is a non-Indian author from his background he appears to be writing based on outside observations. Note the conclustions. According to him Marxist writers, who influenced heavily what's in the social sciences, suppressed truth about the past.
Islam’s Other Victims: India

India prior to the Moslem invasions was one of the world’s great civilizations.
There are several reasons for this. In the days when they ruled India, the British, pursuing a policy of divide-and-rule, whitewashed the record of the Moslems so that they could set them up as a counterbalance to the more numerous Hindus. During the struggle for independence, Gandhi and Nehru downplayed historic Moslem atrocities so that they could pretend a facade of Hindu-Moslem unity against the British. (Naturally, this façade dissolved immediately after independence and several million people were killed in the religious violence attendant on splitting British India into India and Pakistan.) After independence, Marxist Indian writers, blinkered by ideology, suppressed the truth about the Moslem record because it did not fit into the Marxist theory of history. Nowadays, the Indian equivalent of political correctness downplays Moslem misdeeds because Moslems are an "oppressed minority" in majority-Hindu India. And Indian leftist intellectuals always blame India first and hate their own Hindu civilization, just their equivalents at Berkeley blame America and the West.

Unlike Germany, which has apologized to its Jewish and Eastern European victims, and Japan, which has at least behaved itself since WWII, and even America, which has gone into paroxysms of guilt over what it did to the infinitely smaller numbers of Red Indians, the Moslem aggressors against India and their successors have not even stopped trying to finish the job they started. To this day, militant Islam sees India as "unfinished business" and it remains high on the agenda of oil-rich Moslem countries such as Saudi Arabia, which are spending millions every year trying to convert Hindus to Islam.

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 11 Dec 2002 10:48

Redefining India - By Francois Gautier

This is an article meant for my friends, the "fringe Hindus"; those
who have either espoused a Marxist outlook, or are, for their own
good reasons, strongly anti-Hindutva, or are neutral; as well as for
the Muslim and Christian minorities of India.

When Jawaharlal Nehru came to power in 1947, he sincerely thought
that some of Marx's ideas could be put to use in India and help
level the terrible inequalities that existed within between the very
rich and the poor, the high castes and the low castes, the mighty
and the helpless. The motive was noble but, unfortunately, Indian
socialism often made the rich richer and the poor poorer and created
a massive, inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy, that any government
today in power finds difficult to dismantle. Everywhere in the
world, communism and Marxism are defunct - even China has more or
less done away with it.

However, in India, not only does communism remain alive in West
Bengal and Kerala, it also remains firmly entrenched as a powerful
idealism in the minds of much of India's intelligentsia. Most of
India's English language mediapersons and journalists, many of the
writers, historians and thinkers, are sympathetic towards communist
thought. Once again, there is nothing wrong with that: Indians show,
in a world racked with materialism and cynicism, that they remain
idealists, loyal and dedicated to selflessness and seva, as the
thousands of Indian NGO's still prove today.

Nevertheless, the world is changing, Asia is changing, and even
India is changing. We have to live with our times, especially after
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, which
radically altered the outlook of most Western nations. What is going
to happen in Gujarat on December 12 is equally of paramount
importance to the 850 million Hindus in India, the nearly 1 billion
Hindus worldwide, and the Christian and Muslim Indian communities,
as it might redefine their own outlook. Indeed, if the BJP and Mr
Narendra Modi win with a handsome margin, an intense intellectual
debate will be triggered in the country. We will hear cries of
alarm, disgust or worry on the part of the Western press, the Indian
English language Media and the intelligentsia, about "Hindu
fanaticism taking over India", or "the terrible direction that the
results of this election seem to portend for India".

But, once again my "fringe" Hindu brothers and sisters, as well as
the Christian and Muslim communities of India, should remind
themselves than in the entire Indian history, Hinduism has always
shown that it is not fundamentalist, that it accepts the others with
their religions and customs as long as they do not try to impose
these beliefs on the majority community. Indeed, in a recent report,
UNESCO pointed out that out of 128 countries where Jews lived before
Israel was created, only one, India, did not persecute them and
allowed them to prosper and practice Judaism in peace.

Moreover, if under the intense and often bloody onslaught of Muslim
invasions and later of European colonialism, such as the Portuguese -
which committed untold atrocities in Goa - the Hindus did not lose
their peace and tolerance, why should they do so now? Also, Hinduism
is probably the only religion in the world which has never tried to
convert others, or conquer other countries to propagate itself as a
new religion. The same is not true of Islam and Christianity.

Thus, it would be good if the "fringe" Hindus and Indian Christian
and Muslims do some introspection and look into the real causes of
the Gujarat riots which followed the burning of the 58 kar-sevaks on
the Sabarmati Express. If Mr Modi wins, instead of accusing the BJP
of fanaticism, or even "Nazism", a people which gave to India and to
the world Mahatma Gandhi, unique textiles and a solid peaceful
culture, it may indeed be time to call a spade a spade and to stop
burying one's head in the sand like an ostrich.

We see the Gujarat riots through the eyes of the Western press and
the Indian Media: "Hindu fundamentalists who went on the rampage",
etc. But what if Gujarat was the first sign that good, peaceful, non-
violent, middle-class and even lower-class Hindus have had it and
that they are tired of being made fun of, attacked, bombed, burnt,
killed, their women raped, their temples destroyed? What if, rightly
or wrongly, it is the portent of things to come, that the next time
innocent Hindu women and children are targeted, Hindus might be
tempted to take an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, the way
Israel does at the official level? You may argue that it is a
hateful, mad and blind violence, but it is also true that Hindus
have been at the receiving end of Christians and Muslims attacks for
centuries, that even today 400,000 of them have been made to flee
from their ancestral homes in the valley of Kashmir.

Thus, our bother of sisters of Islam, most of whom are peaceful and
good-willing, have also to do a little bit of introspection. Every
time there is an attack on a Hindu temple, or a bombing, we accuse
Pakistan or the Al Qaeda. But none of these attacks could happen
without the active support of groups of Indian Muslims, as the
Bombay blasts or Coimbatore bombings have shown. In the same way,
our Christian brothers and sisters should think about this: The
first community in the world, the Syrian Christians, established
themselves in Kerala in the first century and prospered there in
peace. At no time did the Hindus of Kerala try to impose their own
religious beliefs upon them, either by force or by allurements.

Is it right that the Indian Christian community today not only
allows, but often actively collaborates with, the foreign
missionaries who are bent upon making India a Christian kingdom, and
are often using dubious economic incentives to do so? Do not our
brothers and sisters think that it is bound to provoke sooner or
later some kind of backlash and that the murder of Graham Staines,
however reprehensible, may have been a warning to missionaries who
convert by devious means, in the same way Gujarat riots were a
warning to the Muslims?

It may be true that the overwhelming majority of this country, which
has often been in minority morally, is waking up and trying to
assert itself, sometimes in an excessive and unforgivable manner.
Yet, the fringe Hindus and the Indian Muslims and Christians should
not worry: India is a composite society and it is a settled fact.
Hindus, Christians, Muslims and other minorities have to learn how
to live together peacefully. There is no other choice. And it will
be done.


Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 20 Dec 2002 04:43

Counterfeit secularism: Gurumurthy

Here is, as usual, an incisive piece by Gurumurthy. Congrats, Guru for the
beautiful piece.

The word, 'secular' was an after-thought and introduced by amending only the
Preamble of the Constitution. The word does not occur anywhere else in the
glorious document supposedly penned by Dr. Ambedkar. One wonders when the
Supreme Court full-bench of 25 judges will sit and review the basic features of
the Constitution and when the declaration will be made that the Constitution of
Bharat, that is India, is non-secular for all intents and purposes and that
secular-ism is not a basic feature of the Constitution. It is a make-believe
being sustained by Hindu-bashers who do not even have a vernacular equivalent
for the word in any of the languages of Bharat.

Dharma-nirapeks.ata, a linguistic contortion or aberration, a tautology, is not
a synonym of the term, 'secular'. Dharma is just that, dharma. Everyone should
yearn, have apeks.a -- an intense longing -- for dharma because that alone
sustains a socio-politico-spiritual order.


Counterfeiting secularism will destroy it, not the VHP

S Gurumurthy

As we began our journey as an independent nation we were told that our polity
would be based on three pillars. First, that it would be classless. Next, that
it would be casteless. Third, that it would be secular.

Let us begin with the first, classless society. The idea of a classless
society, a socialist utopia, is now gone officially. In fact, socialism never
really took off in India. The Bible of Socialism, the Das Capital, was disowned
in Moscow, its Rome, in the year 1990. As usual we were late. We began doing it
a year later. Now socialism exists but as a dead word in our Constitution. That
is all about classless society.

Turn now to casteless society. This mirage kept us going for a while. First it
was not manifest externally as caste-based polity. But it was ever internalised
in all political parties. Caste emerged as the decider of the candidates in
constituencies. Once caste got political legitimacy within a party, it was just
a matter of time that it took the form of caste-based political parties. Now
thanks to V P Singh, it is now regarded as `social alliance', a respectable
word for caste politics. So much for casteless polity.

Turn to the third limb, secularism. With classless socialism dead, and
casteless polity buried hundred fathoms deep, secularism has emerged as the
only refuge for all. Whether it is the Marxists or the Congress, or DMK or TDP
or NCP or TMC, secularism is the only slogan left of the post Independence
polity. So every one, including the BJP to Shiv Sena to the Muslim League, is
secular. Why? Under the rules of the Election Commission unless a political
party affirmed its commitment to secularism and also socialism, it will not get
the licence to fight the elections. So, today all political parties are
compulsorily secular. That is, as compulsorily secular as they are compulsorily

Hindus who were leftists and atheists defined what secularism meant in India.
It is not the Christian definition of separation of the Church from the State.
In fact, Hinduism never had a Church to separate from the State. But the
Marxists and atheists had an agenda to make this nation forget its past. For
them anything ancient in India was Hindu. So, ancient India was not just Hindu
in character. As a corollary it is not secular. Since it is not secular,
logically, it is anti-minority. So anything which has to do anything with
Hinduism or Hindus is not secular, communal, anti-minority. So went the logic.

The practical manifestation of secularism in Indian polity began with the
alliance between the Congress Party and the Muslim League to defeat the
Marxists in Kerala. The Marxists, of course, cried hoarse, that `Congress had
allied with the communal Muslim League'. The Congress declared that Muslim
League, being a party espousing the cause of the minorities, was by definition
secular. Elections later the Muslim League allied with the Marxists. Thus by
the evolution of Indian secularism the Muslim League was baptised as secular.
Later it became an honoured partner in all secular alliances in Indian polity.
Thanks to secularism.

Look at the consequences. Politics openly based on castes is respectable
`social alliance'. Minority politics is minority political action and is
integral to secularism. But talk of Hindu interests or Hindu unity it is
anti-secular, communal. That Swami Viveananda, Maharishi Aurobindo, Dr Annie
Beasant wanted Hindus uified to makeIndia strong will make them communal and
anti-secular restrospectively. Thanks to secularism.

The entire world, including Pakistan, openly debates about the growth of
Madrassas and about the violence and terrorism that the madrassa training
inculcates. Including Pakistan, every government is passing laws to curb them.
But despite the fact that extremism and terrorism are on the increase in the
border areas of India we canno even discuss the issue, much less curb the
growth of such fanatical institutions. Thanks to secularism.

No spokesman of any party priding about its secular credentials has ever urged
the government to give any help or concession to the pilgrims to Kasi or
Rameswaram or to Badrinath or Kanyakumari, despite the fact that such
pilgrimage, as Mahatma Gandhi observed, is the bond that brings India together.
But everyone is vying to increase the subsidy for Haj pilgrimage. Again thanks
to secularism Haj pilgrimage itself is elevated to the status of a secular act.

To talk about Vedas or Upanishads, ancient puranas or sciences, Hindu astrology
or history is wholly retrograde and communal. To talk about the promotion of
Sanskrit which language Ambedkar wanted to make the national language is
communal. But to talk of Urdu is secular. Thanks again to secularism.

To demand that Article 370 should be deleted is anti-secular. Even though this
was what the original intent in the Constitution was and committed by Pundit
Nehru himself. To urge that cow-slaughter be banned or that uniform civil code
be enacted is considered a sacrilege. Even though the Constitution itself calls
for a ban on cow-slaughter and uniform civil code. Yet again thanks to

The Hindu temples in most states are under government control and
administration. Their funds given by Hindu devotees are in many cases diverted
for totally secular purposes. When Jayalalithaa sets out to rejuvenate the
temples with their own funds and to start spiritual classes in the temples, it
is ridiculed as anti-secular and communal. So thanks to secularism, secular
governments should manage Hindu temples according to secular principles, not
according to Hindu religious scriptures.

When it came to the Ram Temple issue all secular political parties, leaders and
intellectuals raise the chorus of obeying court verdict, which is not yet
delivered. But the Supreme Court gave verdict on Aligarh University as not a
minority institution. The secular parties called for disobeying the verdict and
voted to overturn it to declare it as a minority institution. Again the secular
parties overturned Supreme Court verdict in the Shahbano Case by a special law
on Muslim women. So thanks to secularism, overturning the court verdicts when
they concern Muslims is secular. And again thanks to secularism, court orders,
not yet delivered concerning the Ram Temple at Ayodhya, should be obeyed. The
Hindus cannot seek a law to override the verdict if it goes against them.
Secularism will give that privilege only to Muslims.

Instances are countless. But this sample is sufficient. This establishes that
the secular polity in India is just a counterfeit. Not genuine. It is just
allergy to Hinduism, to Hindus, that defines secularism.

The polity professed to be casteless, dishonestly. It ended up as a caste-based
polity. Again, it dishonestly professed to be classless. And ended up as a
class-based polity. It professes to be secular, again dishonestly. The result
is obvious. It will end destroying secularism altogether. If anyone will
destroy secularism in India, it is not the VHP portrayed by the seculars as the
villain. It is the counterfeiting secular polity that is most likely to snuff
out secularism from India. If the VHP's growth highlights anything it is that
the Indian secularism is just a counterfeit.

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 20 Dec 2002 11:25

The Gujarat poll results
By Cho S. Ramaswamy

Everything is lost; tragedy has struck; the heavens have fallen; after this it could only be the deluge; God — if there be one — save the country; the BJP under Narendra Modi has won a thumping two-thirds majority in the elections to the Gujarat Assembly. The major English newspapers and the Star TV, which had adopted the Congress under Sonia Gandhi as the only possible saviour of the pride of this nation from the clutches of menials — to borrow a description from the Election Commission — are still trying to recover from the shock delivered by the people of Gujarat. How could this happen? The media is still analysing the results of the Gujarat elections to discover what went wrong.

Actually, nothing went wrong and that is the problem of the media. Caste-wise division of Hindus, as hoped for by the Congress and the media, did not happen. The ten-month interval managed by the Election Commission, between the Godhra incident and the elections, did not erase the horrendous affair, as hoped for by the media, from public memory. Opinion polls, cheaper by the dozen, did not influence the voters. The Sonia magic, which is supposed to inspire and unite secular Indians against the communal and hardcore Hindus, did not work. The voters did not buy the Congress propaganda that it was the Vishwa Hindu Parishad which had torched the train in Godhra. Nor did they eat out of the hands of a section of the media which accused Mr. Modi of having engineered the ghastly post-Godhra riots.

It was the media which went wrong by attempting to suit its reports to its wishes. The Congress had to be shown to have gained substantially since the last Assembly elections, and what better way of doing it than by harping everyday on the fact that the party now had Shankersinh Waghela, who had polled 11.7 per cent in the last elections? Some 34.9 per cent of the voters had voted for the Congress in 1998 and Waghela would be importing 11.7 per cent of his own spurious Hindutva vote, making in all a grand total of 46.6 per cent which was higher than the BJP's vote share by about 2 per cent. The expectation of the media was arithmetically correct, but politically naïve. Turncoats do not carry their voters with them wherever they go; much of the baggage gets confiscated at the hustings, if the defector heads for a destination not liked by his supporters. And this is what happened to Waghela's vote; while his followers in the last elections might have liked the BJP less than him, their hostility towards the Congress has obviously been more intense than their disappointment with the BJP. His votes were repossessed by the voters to be cast in favour of the BJP, which anyway was more near to them than the Congress.

It was not only the arithmetic of the media which went wrong. Its chemistry went awry too. The expected blending of three powerful groups — the Kshatriyas, the Harijans, and the Adivasis — and their mixing with the minorities to produce a winning position for the Congress just did not occur; nor did the stand-off between Keshubhai Patel and Narendra Modi filter out the Patels, for use by the Congress. The media's physics was erroneous too; the energy generated by the Election Commission did not, as anticipated, light up the fortunes of the Congress.

So, instead of staring at Gujarat to find out what went wrong, the media would do well to look inwards and realise that it missed to notice the obvious. The Congress refuses to even acknowledge the enormity of the threat of terrorism. In Kashmir, the first thing that the Congress - PDP Government did after getting sworn in was to disband the Special Operations Group and release several militants. This would not have inspired the confidence of the people of Gujarat, who had experienced the havoc that terrorism could wreak at Godhra and in the Akshardham temple. The fact of being a border State with Pakistan could only have intensified their concern.

The BJP was seen as the only party which at least had the mind to tackle terrorism with determination. Add to this the fact that the BJP has been winning the last two elections in the State, and that Narendra Modi was seen as a person who would deliver — the people could not have been expected to support the Congress.

But then, the media could have an excuse; it laid great store by the Election Commission. Had not the EC ensured that there was a sufficient time lapse between the sight of the burning train and the polling date? And did not the Commission wait before announcing elections, till the Supreme Court gave the opinion that elections cannot be postponed indefinitely? Had not the Commission, targeting an individual leader as had never been done before, announced that it would videograph the meetings and speeches of Narendra Modi, thereby delivering the message to the electorate that here was an undesirable leader fit only for single-minded surveillance by the Commission? Did not the Commission outlaw all references to Godhra in the election campaign barely eight months after the incident though it had never objected to the exploitation of the demolition of Babri Masjid in campaign after campaign even years after its occurrence? Had not, two months after the electoral rolls were revised, another revision done by the EC, again breaking new ground? And by way of providing that little bit of delicious extras, had not the Election Commissioner heaped on the officials of Gujarat and the BJP men such sweet epithets as menials, jokers and mad men?

In all fairness to the media, one has to concede that this inspired animation of the EC, along with the beloved KHAM factor, might have benumbed the best of minds, disabling them from noticing the ground realities. And the media has, albeit with more than a tinge of obstinacy, at least reacted to the result. Two did not. Sonia Gandhi, who rushed with her comments about the Kashmir election, took four days to react to the Gujarat results; the Election Commission, which did not lose much time before praising the people, and patting itself on the back for the Kashmir polls, has not come out with any comment on the completion of the Gujarat elections. The two appear to be comrades in distress, and perhaps are entitled to their period of mourning.

(The writer is a Member of Parliament and Editor, Thuglak magazine)

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 21 Dec 2002 23:36

So BJP has won! Let it be a warning to Cong.
By M.V.Kamath

19 Dec, 2002

So the Bharatiya Janata Party has won the Assembly elections in Gujarat. Won? It has not just won; it has totally demolished the bogus party called the Congress. The people of Gujarat have given a resounding slap to the secularists that they will not forget for a long, long time. For months our secularists sought every manner of means to run down Gujarat, Gujaratis, the Gujarati police, the Gujarati Administration and the Gujarati ethos.

The English media and some of the private channels like Star News went all out to besmirch the BJP. Lies were spread with total abandon. Now the Gujarati people have given their reply, Gujarat's honour has been restored. The secularists have been shown the door. For the BJP, under media assault, to win 130 seats has been no small achievement. Does anyone remember what the BJP-hating `Outlook' magazine predicted? The BJP, the `Outlook' poll said, will lose. There must be many red faces in the journal office.

The Congress is trying to put on a brave face. Its spokesmen are saying that they may have lost a battle but they are going to win the war. What war? In Rajasthan, in three by-elections BJP won hands down. And this is likely to be repeated elsewhere in the days and weeks to come. Various reasons have been adduced for the BJP's resounding victory in the just-concluded Gujarat elections. According to the BJP's own spokesman Arun Jaitley, the people have shown their appreciation of the Narendra Modi's administrative achievements, such as bringing much-needed water to thousands of thirsty villages, for connecting them with good roads and for reducing urban unemployment.

All of which, of course, is true enough.Gujarat has the lowest urban unemployment in the country. But one suspects that the victory is to be attributed to entirely different reasons. There is no doubt that the secular media unanimously insulted Gujarat pride. The people's `gaurav' was hurt beyond redemption. Nobody in the media ever cared to understand what had happened. At the same time Hindutva was given a bad name without knowing what it stood for or what it involved. That hurt the sentiment even of people within the Hindu community, who were apolitical.

The secularists went overboard in running down Hinduism itself as many saw it. They had to pay the price. And they have paid it now. And deservedly so. One suspects that a good percentage of Congress Hindus deserved their party in protest. If one realises that Muslims in their totality voted for Congress without exception it shows that for the BJP to win with such a show of strength, it must have won the support of Hindu Congressmen.So the Bharatiya Janata Party has won the Assembly elections in Gujarat. Won? It has not just won; it has totally demolished the bogus party called the Congress. The people of Gujarat have given a resounding slap to the secularists that they will not forget for a long, long time. For months our secularists sought every manner of means to run down Gujarat, Gujaratis, the Gujarati police, the Gujarati Administration and the Gujarati ethos.

The English media and some of the private channels like Star News went all out to besmirch the BJP. Lies were spread with total abandon. Now the Gujarati people have given their reply, Gujarat's honour has been restored. The secularists have been shown the door. For the BJP, under media assault, to win 130 seats has been no small achievement. Does anyone remember what the BJP-hating `Outlook' magazine predicted? The BJP, the `Outlook' poll said, will lose. There must be many red faces in the journal office.

The Congress is trying to put on a brave face. Its spokesmen are saying that they may have lost a battle but they are going to win the war. What war? In Rajasthan, in three by-elections BJP won hands down. And this is likely to be repeated elsewhere in the days and weeks to come. Various reasons have been adduced for the BJP's resounding victory in the just-concluded Gujarat elections. According to the BJP's own spokesman Arun Jaitley, the people have shown their appreciation of the Narendra Modi's administrative achievements, such as bringing much-needed water to thousands of thirsty villages, for connecting them with good roads and for reducing urban unemployment.

All of which, of course, is true enough.Gujarat has the lowest urban unemployment in the country. But one suspects that the victory is to be attributed to entirely different reasons. There is no doubt that the secular media unanimously insulted Gujarat pride. The people's `gurav' was hurt beyond redemption. Nobody in the media ever cared to understand what had happened. At the same time Hindutva was given a bad name without knowing what it stood for or what it involved. That hurt the sentiment even of people within the Hindu community, who were apolitical.

The secularists went overboard in running down Hinduism itself as many saw it. They had to pay the price. And they have paid it now. And deservedly so. One suspects that a good percentage of Congress Hindus deserved their party in protest. If one realises that Muslims in their totality voted for Congress without exception it shows that for the BJP to win with such a show of strength, it must have won the support of Hindu Congressmen.

Let this be remembered here and now: The Congress hurt the Hindu psyche more deeply than it is willing to concede. And the Hindus have retaliated, voting for the BJP truly en masse.

The Congress only received the hard core Hindu vote, and that, too, one suspects out of caste and not political considerations. Gujarat must serve as a warning to the Congress; it can't keep hurting the Hindu psyche for ever and ever and hope to win. In that sense Gujarat is possibly the beginning of the end of Congress hegemony in other states as well. The party is warned.

One thing should be abundantly clear: if Congress wants to win back Indian hearts it must jettison Sonia Gandhi once and for all. It must seek a leader from within its ranks who is Indian through and through. And it must keep out dynastic pretenders like Rahul Gandhi. This country has had enough of dynasticism.

If someone like Narendra Modi hailing from a lower middle class background can make it to the top and capture the hearts and minds of millions of his fellow Gujaratis, surely there is great hope for the future of India?

Modi has been demonised with a ruthlessness that is poor reflection on the character of our secularists. Modi has been, in turn, described as an Indian variation of Hitler and Mussolini. He has been wrongly accused of organising a `pogrom' without releasing what a `pogrom' meant or involved. Indeed he has been accused of being guilty of every sin under the sun. The people of Gujarat have now effectively shown what they think of the secularists. They have simultaneously shown that they have full faith in Modi.

The fact is that the secular Press totally misunderstood the meaning of the Ahmedabad riots. There would have been no Ahmedabad riots if there had been no Godhra killings. And if there had been no Godhra killings there would in all probability have been no Narendra Modi. And let this be remembered: Godhra is the centre of Islamic fundamentalism of the worst kind. The people of Ahmedabad reacted to the Godhra killings out of sheer frustration and uncontrollable anger. They would have reacted just as furiously even if Gujarat had a Congress government.

What the Ahmedabadis were telling was: Enough is enough. And let this also be clearly understood. Had the Congress won the Assembly elections, even by a narrow majority, it would have been a signal for more Godhras to come. The Islamic fun-damentalists would have seen a Congress victory as a sign that they could perpetuate more Godhras with impunity.

The people of Gujarat took the Assembly elections as an opportunity to send a clear message to one and all that in future no violence of any kind would be tolerated. If the people of Godhra have by now not learnt their lesson they would have learnt nothing. And let this also be understood: the people of Gujarat are as secular if not more so than all the Congressvallahs. They are a very tolerant people, probably more tolerant than the Delhi citizens who, following the assassination of Indira Gandhi went berserk in a way never before witnessed in the country, except perhaps following the partition of the country.

In his book `Ethnic Conflict and Civil Life', Ashutosh Varshney has noted that Gujarat's violence is "not consistently high" and that "long periods of peace alternate with periods of extremely high violence". Indeed, twenty five of 46 years between 1950 and 1995 had no riots or very few incidents of communal violence in Gujarat.

Says Varshney: "Either Gujarat does not have riots or, if it does, the violence reaches very high levels quickly". What that surely indicates is that Gujaratis will take a lot of beating philosophically but when the beating becomes unbearable as happened in Godhra they react with unmitigated fury and who can criticise them for it except our illiterate secularists?

The tragedy in India is that its intellectual life is being dictated to by a handful of westernised people with no roots is society but with immense power to do harm. And this they have been doing ceaselessly, without realising the extent of damage they are wreaking on Indian society. The pro-BJP voting in Gujarat in part was an expression of anger against the English media for its highly irresponsible handling of the riots that took place in the state. There can be no other explanation.

The question, however, that is presently being asked is what repercussions the BJP victory in Gujarat will have in elections elsewhere in the country. The answer is: one really can't say anything for sure. For one thing there has been no Godhra in any other state. For another, each state has its own unique culture and ethos. Uttar Pradesh is not Gujarat, nor is Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka or Maharashtra.

But of one thing all parties can be certain: Hindus everywhere are getting sick of secularism. It means nothing to them. By and large Hindus are, by nature, secular. Left to themselves they will go about minding their business, leaving others to mind theirs. Only in India would the majority be proud to have leaders from the minority communities in top positions.

Roman Catholics and Sikhs have often led the armed forces in India. General Jacob, a famous Jewish general, led India to victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Muslims have regularly occupied positions in the Cabinet. Of which other country can such things be said? Most countries are mono-cultural, whether it is France or Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco or whatever. India is a marvelous exception. If Hindus in India have of late been upset it is largely because of the taunts made at them by so-called secularists. These latter have spared no efforts to run down what to many Hindus is sacred. It is this that has been resented. In that sense Gujarat is a warning. And a warning, too, that the Congress would do well to heed. The point to remember is that Hindutva is not anti-minority.

The core of Hindutva is a sense of self-respect. For far too long has this feeling of self-respect been under siege. Gujarat, one suspects somewhat unwittingly, has served to wake up the country to its rich and ancient heritage. Secularists laugh at Hindutva at their peril.

One hopes that the Congress will read the BJP victory in Gujarat correctly. That is the least that it can do in its own interests. In Gujarat the Congress banked on dividing the Hindu vote while getting the Muslim vote in full and so coming to power. That illusion has been now shattered.

Developing pro-minority stances even when they are, in essence, wrong in principle may work sometimes but in the end they are self-defeating. This has now been clearly and unambiguously demonstrated in Gujarat.

If wisdom prevails in Congress circles then they would quietly push out Sonia Gandhi and look for a new leader, man or woman, who is Indian by birth, outlook and upbring-ing and respectful of majority sentiments. Anything else is folly. For far too long has the BJP been treated as a social pariah, unfit to rule. The tables are being turned now. As the saying goes, he who laughs last, laughs best.

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 24 Dec 2002 20:57

Triple talaq unislamic, ulema have no business to dabble in politics: Bandukwala

Arvind Lavakare Still banking on hope
If Rediff's vast web reach is any indication, there's hope still, Inshallah,
for communal amity to prevail in the land where, not very long ago, hundreds of
thousands Hindus and Muslims exclaimed "Vande Mataram!" with unabashed ardour.
That is the essence of the thumping, warm response to Dr Rafiq Zakaria's plea
to Muslims briefly enumerated in this column last week.

Barring just a couple, the readers accepted Zakaria's views, albeit for varying
reasons. And there were some who felt that Hindus too needed to reform in
several directions -- a point well taken, probably. Particularly heartening was
that several readers with Muslim names in their emails supported the Muslim
scholar's need for an introspection. Here below are excerpts from some of them:

"I respect Dr Zakaria for saying what he did and agree with him 100%".
Abbasi Najmi
"As a Muslim who has experienced the real world and knows what Islam really
teaches, I fully comply with Mr Zakaria's thought." Zafar Shaikh
"All Muslims should read and adopt the mind-set as envisaged by Dr
Zakaria... Vande Mataram. Jai Hind." Mohammad Afzal
"The media need to promote and respect the views of Dr Zakaria.
Unfortunately, the media is giving more attention to Bukharis and Owaisis. As a
Muslim, I keep on advocating a negotiated settlement with government and
prominent Hindus to hand over the Ayodhya site. Muslims will not loose their
paradise for handing over the site. Who is there to support people like Zakaria
and us?" Akbar Batcha
"Certainly a million thanks to Dr Zakaria -- his recommendations are
certainly a bombshell." Munaz Haider
"This is a very important information. If I get the same in Hindi, it will
help lots of people who don't understand English." Aslam Attar
"I 100% agree with the ideas and thoughts put forward by Dr Zakaria. I am of
the opinion that Muslims should come forward and join the mainstream and should
work together with all their non-Muslim brothers and sisters to strengthen our
great nation." Shahid Mubeen
"Heartiest congratulations to Dr Zakaria for coming up with the issue which
each sensible Muslim in this country would support... how long will one of the
largest Muslim community in this world keep behaving irresponsibly under the
sham of being called the minority community. The first step towards the
normalisation would be that the Indian Muslims start thinking of the nation."
Fahad Khan
I am personally happy that Dr Rafiq Zakaria has taken the issue head on and
advised the Muslim community of the changes that should take place to bring
integration with the mainstream. Let me remind the author that a lot of
introspection is going on within the community and things have taken a more
constructive path." Maj Khan.

In fact, one Mujtaba Syed, while endorsing everything that Zakaria has
advocated, adds the following additional to-dos for Muslims:

"We should amicably agree to the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya.
The Ram temple to Hindus is like the Kaaba for Muslims. We have to respect the
sentiments of our Hindu brothers and sisters to get respected in turn.
We should rise vociferously against Pakistan's proxy war and jihadi
terrorism in other parts of our country to send a clear message that Indian
Muslims have nothing to do with Pakistan.
We should stop using words like Kafir -- which have been used to describe
anyone who doesn't follow Islam. A fundamental tenet of Islam is equality of
We should not seclude ourselves in the backlash of Hindutva inspired terror.
We will suffer more if we go in a shell. The only way to kill the hatred that
is growing in Hindu hearts is to get closer to them, make more friends with
them, do more business with them, give them a better share then we give
ourselves, celebrate their festival with more fervor than we do ours, and love
them like brothers. Hinduism is one of the most fantastic religions of this
world and we should tell this to our Hindu brothers.
We should unequivocally say and prove our Indian-ness. India is our country
and we should be prepared to lay down our lives for it."

A common streak of the very fulsome feedback was that it was the Indian media
which was the villain in driving the wedge between the two major communities.
Thus the expressed hope that the newspapers and television will give the widest
possible exposure to Zakaria's views.

A change, however faint and fleeting, is discernible in that direction. The
Indian Express, in its Mumbai edition of December 19, 2002, carried an article
by J K Bandukwala who teaches nuclear physics at a Vadodara university. In that
article, the professor makes the following points:

"Muslims will have to change their way of life to adjust to the emerging
crisis. No words are too strong to condemn the fatwa on the eve of the
(Gujarat) elections. Ulema have no business to dabble in politics. They must go
back to their mosques and only preach the Koran and the Shariat.
"Socio-economic transformation is a must if the community is to avoid
becoming the new untouchables of India. Each and every Muslim boy and girl must
get the best and highest education possible.
"Our future lies as a business community. The ideal example is that of the
Jews in America.
"We must know that women have to be treated with maximum respect and
dignity. Triple talaq must be treated as un-Islamic."

Having thus essentially reiterated what Zakaria believes is necessary for
communal harmony and national advancement, Bandukwala spoils it all by stating
that "Muslims will always treat the BJP as poison." This, alas, is the old imp
raising its ugly head that must be severed once and for all.

The professor was obviously unaware of the comparative Muslim Women's Survey of
9,541 women (20 per cent Hindus) administered in 2000-2001 by ORG. According to
a report published in same The Indian Express issue that carried Bandukwala's
views, the survey revealed that "Muslims, 50 years after independence, on the
whole have an average standard of living less than even the OBCs and well below
upper caste Hindus. On the whole they are, they are just slightly better off
than the scheduled caste population." The BJP surely can't be blamed for that
shocker, Professor Bandukwala. Nor can Hindutva be blamed for the fact that,
according to the survey, 60 per cent Muslim women reported themselves being
illiterate, 17 per cent Muslim women completed eight years of schooling, 10 per
cent Muslim women completed higher secondary schooling and just 3.56 per cent
Muslim women are in higher education.

The villain may well be the mullahs and the moulvis whose views are sent down
to ordinary Muslims from prayer pulpits and through the Urdu newspapers that
have a very very large readership.

This brings one to fatwas and back to Zakaria. In his book, he writes, 'It must
be admitted that in recent times some of the clerics have been misusing the
grant of fatwas more for earning some money than performing a religious duty.
In the process they have exploited the poor and illiterate Muslims.'

Who, then, is to uplift the poor, illiterate Muslims? Who is to ensure the
massive uplift of Muslim women invisible behind the veil? Who is to enhance the
economic status of Muslims? Only the well-placed Muslims -- the MPs, the MLAs,
the artistes, the few entrepreneurs, and the professionals -- can do the job
with the help of the activists in the community as facilitators and catalysts.
And, of course, the Hindus will help ungrudgingly and bountifully as indicated
by several Rediff readers who responded to Zakaria's prescription by recalling
their happy emotional relations with Muslim friends and families, old and new.
But, as Rediff's readership has shown, there will be a caveat to that help and
many Muslims are as conscious of that as Dr Zakaria.

Yes, there is hope still for communal amity if only the 'secularists' will
desist spreading their patented poison of 50 years and instead provide the
antidote. All of us must realise that the superpower potential of our nation
will be realised only with great teamwork from a hundred-odd billion players.
If only the current President of India's belief that the nation is above the
individual can become this team's slogan, then, Inshallah, India will surely
become a superpower, sooner rather than later.

Posts: 442
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: SanFrancisco Bay Area

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kaushal » 02 Jan 2003 00:17

Pantha-nirapeks.ata = secular

Mistranslation of ‘secular’ as ‘dharma-nirapeks.ata’

It is a matter of regret that Vajpayeeji, in his new year musings has used the term, 'dharma-nirapeks.ata'.

Like Vajpayeeji, many others in public life commit the mistake of using ‘dharma-nirapeks.ata’ as a synonym for ‘secularism’. Such a usage is, in my view, incorrect.

If, in public discourse, one has to employ the term 'secular', invented by the colonial masters of the macaulayite vintage, the closest term equivalent to ‘secularism’ may be: pantha-nirapeks.ata or samprada_ya-nirapeks.ata.

State cannot be indifferent to or act against ‘dharma’. State has to promote dharma which is a code of conduct and an enunciation of fundamental duties and responsibilities of individuals qua individuals or as members of communities. Dharma is a positive celebration of all traditions; dharma does not reject any tradition.

‘Dharma’ should not be translated as ‘religion’. The religions of christianism and islamism may be referred to as 'yeshu sampradaya' or 'islamiya sampradaya'.

A state cannot be ‘dharma’ neutral. A state is a dharmabhr.ta, i.e. an entity responsible for protection of ‘dharma’. A state has to be a dharma-setu, a bridge among varieties of practices and traditions among communities.

The semantic problem of erroneous definition of ‘dharma’ as ‘religion’ occurs because the contexts in which the concepts of ‘liberty or personal freedoms’ arose in Europe and in Bharata are vastly at variance.

In Bharatiya thought, ‘liberty’ is enshrined as the freedom to follow any desired path to attain the purus.a_rtha – objectives of life, constrained by ‘fundamental duties’ to be performed by every individual and every entity – either ‘state or sovereign’ or ‘saint’. In Bharatiya thought, ‘dharma’ means a code of conduct – moral, ethical, social conduct. Dharma connotes the supreme, cosmic Law; dharmastya-s are explained as officials of the judiciary.

In Eurocentric thought, ‘liberty’ is enshrined as the freedom governed by ‘fundamental rights’ of individuals, constrained by demarcation of ‘state or sovereign’ and ‘religious’ domains. In Eurocentric thought, ‘religion’ is a practice enjoined by the ‘church’.

Thus, there is a world of difference between ‘dharma’ and ‘religion’: one emphasizes the inexorable nature of conduct in affairs temporal and spiritual alike; the other emphasizes the postulates contained in the ‘revelation’.

Emphasis is placed on ‘rights’ in the Eurocentric thought and on ‘duties’ in the Bharatiya thought. Dharma connotes ‘duty’. In the European concepts evolved after the French Revolution, law was elaborated on the foundation of ‘fundamental rights’. Dharma, on the other hand, evolved and has been elaborated in the tradition of Bharata as the foundation of ‘fundamental duties and fundamental responsibilities’.

How to define a foreign concept in Bharatiya languages? Secularism is a foreign concept introduced into the polity of Bharat after amending the Preamble to the Constitution of India, that is Bharat in 1975 (after the Emergency). This is one example of a colonized macaulayite mindset distorting Bharatiya tradition by introducing political concepts which are not consistent with the evolution of Bharatiya thought.

Pundits have had serious problems and have committed serious errors in translating this concept into Bharatiya languages.

Pundits have assumed that secularism means ‘non-discrimination or neutrality on grounds of religion’. The use of the word, ‘religion’ has created the problems for translation. There is no generic word in any Bharatiya language which is an equivalent of the word, ‘religion’. The closest one gets to is perhaps the terms, ‘upa_sana_ paddhati’ or ‘puja vidha_nam’—the practices of worship at home or in a mandiram.

The absence of a term to connote ‘religion’ may be explained by the fact that the nation had not witnessed any one individual claiming that he has been ordained to communicate the word of god – as a revelation revealed by God only to that messenger. Two individual in human history have made such claims of revelation: one is Jesus and the other is Mohammad. The revelations made by these two people have resulted in the emergence of revealed faiths, called ‘religion’ – one is called Christianism and the other is called Islamism.

In the evolution of cosmic and spiritual thought in the history of Bharatiya civilization (na_garikata) or culture (sabhyata), the nation has been a witness only to sampradaya’s. This word, ‘sampradaya’ lit. means ‘offered unto or given unto’. This term is used in reference to the explanations offered unto or given unto spiritual concepts such as advaita or dvaita or vis’is.t.a_dvaita (by s’ankara or ramanuja or madhva). The term has also been used to explain the thoughts elaborated upon in mata-s such as s’a_kta (worship of s’akti), ga_n.apatya (worship of gan.apati), or practices introduced by, say, Basava (Lingayata). The term is also applied to distinct streams of philosophy such as s’aiva-sampradaya, vais.n.ava-sampradaya, bauddha-sampradaya, jaina-sampradaya, khalsa-pantha, ca_rva_ka-sampradaya, or even to non-believing systems such as na_stika-matam.

In philosophical discourses or logical arguments, the term, ‘siddhanta’ is used to differentiate among these facets of or variations in paths leading to a spiritual understanding of phenomena; a typical usage, for example, is: s’aiva-siddhanta.

Secularism is a foreign concept which arose in the context of the need felt in European thought to differentiate between the roles of the church and the state in temporal affairs. Secularism was defined in this context as a separation between the ‘church’ and ‘state’ in matters concerning ‘religion’. The ‘state’ was enjoined to be ‘secular’ – that is, non-discriminating on grounds of ‘religion’. The ‘church’ was broadly understood as organized religions such as christianism or islamism. Such a separation of jurisdiction did not, however, result in total separation of the ‘state’ from matters ‘religious’. Even today, many states of Christian or Islamic states for all intents and purposes enjoining the law-makers to take their oaths of office in the name of the ‘Bible’ or the ‘Quran’ – two books which represent christianism and Islamism respectively. That is, law-makers of the state are entitled to wear two hats: one of a secular believer and the other of a religious believer.

This concept of secularism being alien to Bharatiya thought, many contorted efforts made to define the term, ‘secular’ in Bharatiya languages.

The terms used, in Hindi and Tamil, for example, to define the non-discriminatory nature of the ‘state’ or ‘neutrality’ of the ‘state’ operatives in relation to matters ‘religious’ are: nirapeks.ata (Hindi) or ca_rppar.r.a (Tamil). Nirapeks.ata does not mean indifference.

Nirapaks.eta = non-discrimination, detachment, neutrality (Hindi – English)

Ca_rpar.r.a = non-discriminating (Tamil - English)

The problem occurs when the word, ‘religion’ is translated into Hindi.

In Tamil, the word, ‘religion’ is correctly rendered as ‘matam’ (lit. opinion). Thus, the phrase used to describe ‘secular’ is: matacca_rpar.r.a (Tamil).

In Hindu, the word, ‘religion’ is incorrectly rendered as ‘dharma’. The correct rendering should be ‘sampradaya’ – religious practice, or ‘pantha’ – religious path.

In Bharatiya tradition, there has always been a secular, eclectic approach providing for many ‘paths’ or ‘practices’ to co-exist in matters spiritual or philosophical. There have been a variety of temple practices (vidha_na-s), variety of puja paddhati-s (procedures). Before the days of Adi S’ankara (i.e. before 509 BCE), there have been (or, six mata-s or six opinions) represented by the six divinities: Surya, S’iva, Vis.n.u, Gan.apati, Ka_rttikeya, Durga. Adi S’ankara unified all the six practices or opinions by establishing procedures for worshipping (puja) of all six divinities in the same temple premises (a_gama sthana-s, tradition stations).

Dharma is a R.gvedic term. This term has never been understood in the restrictive sense of temple practices (a_gama) or puja (worship) procedures. This term, ‘dharma’ has been clearly understood even in the days of the Mahabharata as ‘that which sustains’ – dha_rayati iti dharmah. Dharma is a cosmic phenomenon which explains the inexorable rhythm of time, the planetary motions, the cosmic phenomena, in general. As great thinkers such as Maha_vira, Gautama Buddha and Adi S’ankara elaborated on Dharma to crystallize Dharma in the context of human spiritual quests (purus.a_rtha), the term was elaborated in terms of the polity (artha), individual desire (ka_ma) and spiritual unity of a_tman and parama_tman (moks.a). The spiritual quests could take many paths – or pantha-s and could involve many mata-s or opinions. But all these paths lead to one Reality, the parama_tman.

In the context of this evolution of Bharatiya thought, it is strange that the word, ‘secular’ is sought to be explained, in Hindi, as ‘dharma-nirapeks.ata’. There cannot be any neutrality in relation to ‘dharma’. It is axiomatic, that dharma, by definition, calls for a total appreciation of the cosmic phenomena as central to the material phenomena or life-activities. There is no question of introducing the concept of ‘non-discrimination’ in relation to ‘dharma’. In Bharatiya tradition, ‘dharma’ is central, the very fulcrum around which all aspects of natural phenomena, human activities, all life- or conscious-activities (human and animal alike) – both temporal and spiritual – revolve.

There should no neutrality in relation to ‘dharma’. There should be an emphatic desire, apeks.a to sustain, promote and employ the concepts of ‘dharma’ in all walks of life. For example, dharma-s’astra refer to the books of ‘social laws’; how can there be a dharma-nirapeks.ata in relation such laws which have been handed down in the Bharatiya tradition? There are a_s’rama dharma: that is, dharma as related to the stages of life: for example, of brahmacarya, gr.hasta, va_naprastha (celibate, family, ascetic); or, dharma as related to performance of duties: e.g., ra_ja dharma (duties of a sovereign), ks.atriya dharma (duties of a soldier). None was exempt from dharma, not even the sovereign: the Bhagavatam explains how Vena, a wielder of ‘danda’, coercive power, as King, was himself awarded the punishment called ‘Brahmadanda’ by the sages who were scholars in ‘Dharma’. (4-13-22). Vena was the person who claimed that he as king was I_s’vara (God) in the form of a nara (human). Vena was dethroned on the ground that none, not even the king was above ‘dharma’. Dharma was supreme in all a_s’rama-s.

Sva-dharma or kula-dharma are terms which denote a code of duty adopted voluntarily, freely by any individual or community. Dharma calls for protection of the weak against the powerful as explained. Dharma is a check on the abuse of power by those in state authority.

A possible translation for the word, ‘secular’ in Hindi should, therefore, be sampradaya-nirapeks.ata or pantha-nirapeks.ata (i.e. neutrality in relation to paths or procedures of spiritual quests). One can even extend the concept to cover any of the six dars’ana-s.

This is the introductory statement in the Preamble as amended in 1977 when the terms, ‘socialist secular’ were inserted:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a _1[SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens

1. Subs. by the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976, s. 2, for "SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC" (w.e.f. 3-1-1977).

58th amendment of the Constitution (passed in 1987) authorizes the publication of an authoritative text of the Samvidhan in Hindi. [Install Hindi font from ]

A website samvidhan.comwas launched by Vajpayee on April 6, 2000.

I request Vajpayeeji and other public speakers in Bharata to avoid using the aberrant phrase: dharma-nirapeks.ata, a term which is, in my view, an absurdity.


Posts: 439
Joined: 12 Jul 1999 11:31

Re: India and the Social Sciences

Postby Kuttan » 02 Jan 2003 00:39


The gem of this thread is, as always:

You will be wasting the engineers' time.
-Rahul Mehta
RM: See post icon displayed above. "Roger to that!" :D

So this is where they're all hiding out these days! I should have known. I see that all you folks are in the abstract theoretical world of Secularism vs. Wendiocy vs. Whateverism, instead of being out in the practical world of bashing the South Asia Professorial Underworld on live BRF.

No wonder the Ghauris and Ghaznis and Clives had such an easy time of it. Could you please help by focusing on the discussions of the great Sabrang/FOIL Alliance for a Secular and Democratic India?

Here's what SOCIAL STUDIES means to me, right now: cross-posted from another thread:

a statement from Jnana Prabodhini, Solapur, issued by Dr. Swarnalata Bhishikar, Trustee:

"Jnana Prabodhini - Solapur (JPS) was engaged in earthquake relief work in South Marathwada, particularly in village Harali since 1993. In 1995, a rural residential school for children in earthquake stricken area was started by JPS. It is open to children from all castes, sects and religions. IDRF, a funding agency in America gave a donation to the tune of Rs.10 lakhs for this school. The money was spent on the construction of the class-rooms and toilet blocks for the rural children. We are grateful to IDRF for this donation to needy children. We have observed that IDRF is a very responsible organization that studies the projects carefully and caters to the needs of the disadvantaged classes in Indian Society without any discrimination. Their work is laudable."

- Dr. Swarnalata Bhishikar
That's the sort of establishment that's being condemned as "sectarian hate-mongering Hindutva" - and we are trying to defend. That's what all these kinds of deep debates finally come down to - but you are leaving the actual battles there to the engineer types who thought "Wendy's" was where you get a large order of fries, not a large volume of racist fertilizer. :eek:

Its great to see Dr. Malhotra and Dr. Balagangdhra or whatever contributing to the Greenhouse Effect to enthralled audiences, but we have immediate problems to solve, not theoretical ones.

Where are you when you are all needed??? :eek:

I sent an e-mail to several of the worthies here a while back - not a single one replied.

:whine: :whine: :whine:

Return to “History & Current Affairs Archive”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests