Thursday, October 29, 2009

Caste in a new mould

The Other Side | Mrinal Pande

The usual definition of caste oppression can no longer explain emerging patterns of dominance

Actually, the traditional characteristics and power of the Brahmins in the traditional upper caste hierarchy (high learning, arrogance and clever use of a certain elite language to build firewalls around knowledge and information to keep it away from the commoners) are now much more visible among India’s upper middle-class professionals, whatever their caste. Whether backward, Dalit or forward, successful children of the new dominant classes no longer acquire their basic knowledge, skills and networking abilities in Brahminical Sanskrit, but in English. Likewise, the power of the old-style, landowning Thakur (Kshatriya), who killed a thousand tigers and routinely torched Dalit huts, has been usurped by today’s political class, who ride lal batti cars with similar disregard for laws, sirens blaring and black cat commandos in tow. They hold power dialogues with neighbouring warlords, make and break treaties—not the princes and nawabs who, if they have not become penniless, have turned hoteliers and protectors of wildlife. The traditional merchant class, thanks to family-based businesses, may have retained some part of their old glory, but in the global arena they are now heavily dependent on the neo-Brahmin: the Indian Institute of Management-trained, multinationalized manager, banker and expat consultant, who strides the global village and carries vital knowledge in his laptop, as a Brahmin once carried in his almanac.

All caste systems need a cleaning class. They are today the invisible and unorganized freelancers. Moving from job to job, they help mop up the night soil of the global village and provide the paymasters with linguistic bridges into the vernacular heartland, where the markets are also the votes.

Excerpt from Mrinal Pande's column

Friday, October 09, 2009

Was it corruption that destroyed India from within in the past?

Mother India

Atanu Dey on India's Development ...

9 October

Will Durant (1885 - 1981) was an American historian, writer and philosopher. His most famous work is the 11-volume “The Story of Civilization”, published between 1935 and 1975. In a 1931 work, “The Case for India“, he had this to say about India.

India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.

It is hard to reconcile today’s India with the great civilization that India once was. Something must have gone wrong. Durant wrote, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”

Was it corruption that destroyed India from within in the past? And is it now in its final phase being totally destroyed by corruption?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Religion is a constitutional necessity of the human mind

Religion is a constitutional necessity of the human mind. The proof of one religion depends on the proof of all the rest. For instance, if I have six fingers, and no one else has, you may well say that is abnormal. The same reasoning may be applied to the argument that only one religion is true and all others false. One religion only, like one set of six fingers in the world, would be unnatural. We see, therefore, that if one religion is true, all others must be true. There are differences in the non-essentials, but in essentials they are all one.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A perfect sannyāsin

I am a disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a perfect sannyāsin whose influence and ideas I fell under. This great sannyāsin never assumed the negative or critical attitude towards other religions, but showed their positive side--how they could be carried into life and practiced. To fight, to assume the antagonistic attitude, is the exact contrary of his teaching, which dwells on the truth that the world is moved by love.

కౌముది అక్టొబర్ 2009