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How Dependent Are We On Individuals For Change?

November 29, 2012 1 comment

Historic changes and technical advances have a life of their own – and less dependent on individuals than we normally assume.

Obviously a leadership that follows, instead of leads will make no difference. | David Fitzsimmons / Arizona Daily Star on March 28, 2012; source & courtesy – caglecartoons.com

Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, put up a long post on his blog The Technium, about 3 years ago. This is easily the most exhaustive compendium of ‘near-simultaneous’ discoveries, innovations, creations, ideas from the ‘modern’ world on the net.

The sheer ‘obviousness’ of this idea first came to me from Arthur Koestler’s trilogy of Ghost In The Machine, The Act Of Creation and The Sleepwalkers. Koestler spoke of ripeness of an idea.

Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain. (Gita 11:32)


Therefore get up. Prepare to fight and win glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasaci, can be but an instrument in the fight. (Gita 11:33) Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain. (Gita 11:32)
Therefore get up. Prepare to fight and win glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasaci, can be but an instrument in the fight. (Gita 11:33)

Before that in a different context Victor Hugo meant no one can stop an idea whose time has come (in French, the original sentence is On résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées).

Or when the Bhagwad Gita talks of enemies whose time has come, whose death is but a formality and their killing but a nominal act (Bhagwad Gita 11:32; 11:33).

Would India have got independence without Gandhiji? Sooner or a little later. Maybe different in shape and size. The British story was over. The British knew they were going. Early evidence was the complete stoppage of investment in railways by 1920s.

So what was Gandhiji’s role and contribution? Probably in being able to engage with the West – using ideas and concepts that the West understood. Grace under pressure?

This year the world celebrated the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin to honor his theory’s impact upon our science and culture. Overlooked in the celebrations was Alfred Wallace, who also came up with the same theory of evolution, at approximately the same time. If poor Wallace, too, had succumbed to his Indonesian infection, and Darwin gone, it is clear from other naturalist’s notebooks that someone else, perhaps Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, would have arrived at the theory of evolution by natural selection,What seems to be an odd coincidence is repeated many times in technical invention as well as scientific discovery. Alexander Bell and Elisha Gray both applied to patent the telephone on the same day, Feb 14, 1876. This improbable simultaneity (Gray applied 3 hours before Bell) led to mutual accusations of espionage, plagiarism, bribery, and fraud. Gray was ill-advised by his patent attorney to drop his claim for priority because his attorney said the telephone “was not worth serious attention.”

while Bell got the master patent, at least three other tinkerers beside Gray had made working models of phones years before. In fact Antonio Meucci had patented his “teletrofono” more than a decade earlier in 1860, using the same principles as Bell and Gray, but because of his poor English, poverty, and lack of business acumen, he was unable to renew his patent in 1874. And not far behind them all was the inimitable Thomas Edison, who inexplicably didn’t win the telephone race, but invented the microphone for it the next year.

The procession of technological discoveries is inevitable. When the conditions are right — when the necessary web of supporting technology needed for every invention is established — then the next adjacent technological step will emerge as if on cue. If inventor X does not produce it, inventor Y will. The invention of the microphone, the laser, the transistor, the steam turbine, the waterwheel, and the discoveries of oxygen, DNA, and Boolean logic, were all inevitable in roughly the period they appeared. However the particular form of the microphone, its exact circuit, or the specific design of the laser, or the particular materials of the transistor, or the dimensions of the steam turbine, or the peculiar notation of the formula, or the specifics of any invention are not inevitable. Rather they will vary quite widely due to the personality of their finder, the resources at hand, the culture of society they are born into, the economics funding the discovery, and the influence of luck and chance. An incandescent light bulb based on a coil of carbonized bamboo filament heated within a vacuum bulb is not inevitable, but “the electric incandescent light bulb” is. The concept of “the electric incandescent light bulb” abstracted from all the details that can vary while still producing the result — luminance from electricity, for instance — is ordained by the technium’s trajectory. We know this because “the electric incandescent light bulb” was invented, re-invented, co-invented, or “first invented” dozens of times. In their book “Edison’s Electric Light: Biography of an Invention”, Robert Friedel and Paul Israel list 23 inventors of incandescent bulbs prior to Edison. It might be fairer to say that Edison was the very last “first” inventor of the electric light.

Dig deep enough in the history of any type of discovery in any field and you’ll find more than one claimant for the first priority.

In fact you are likely to find many parents for each novelty. Sunspots were first discovered by four separate observers, including Galileo, in the same year, 1611. We know of six different inventors of the thermometer, and three of the hypodermic needle. Edward Jenner was preceded by four other scientists who all independently discovered the efficiency of vaccinations. Adrenalin was “first” isolated four times. Three different geniuses discovered (or invented) decimal fractions. The electric telegraph was re-invented by Henry, Morse, Cooke, Wheatstone, and Steinheil.  The Frenchman Daguerre is famous for inventing photography, but three others (Niepce, Florence, and Talbot) also independently came upon the same process. The invention of logarithms is usually credit to two mathematicians, Napier and Brigs, but actually a third mathematician, Burgi, invented them three years earlier. Several inventors in both England and America simultaneously came up with the typewriter. The existence of the 8th planet, Neptune, was independently predicted by two scientists in the same year, 1846. The liquefaction of oxygen, the electrolysis of aluminum, and the stereochemistry of carbon, for just three examples in chemistry, were each independently discovered by more than one person, and in each case their simultaneous discovery occurred within a month or so.

Columbia University sociologists William Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas combed through scientist’s biographies, correspondence and notebooks to collect all the parallel discoveries and invention they could find between 1420 and 1901. They write, “The steamboat is claimed as the ‘exclusive’ discovery of Fulton, Jouffroy, Rumsey, Stevens and Symmington. At least six different men, Davidson, Jacobi, Lilly, Davenport, Page and Hall, claim to have made independently the application of electricity to the railroad. Given the railroad and electric motors, is not the electric railroad inevitable?”

The prevalence of ubiquitous simultaneous, independent, and equivalent discovery suggests so. If the direction of technological progress is inevitable, one new invention preparing the ground for the next, then individual human discoverers and inventors are replaceable conduits, and their individual success a matter of luck to some degree.

psychologist Dean Simonton took Ogburn and Thomas’ catalog of simultaneous invention before 1900 and aggregated it with several other similar lists to map out the pattern of parallel discovery for 1,546 cases. Simonton plotted the number of discoveries found by 2 individuals compared to the number of discoveries found by 3 people, or 4 people, or 5, or 6 co-finders. The number of 6-person discoveries were of course fewer, but the exact ratio between these multiples produced a pattern known in statistics as a Poisson distribution. This is the pattern of events you see in mutations on a DNA chromosome, and other rare chance events in a large pool of possible agents. The Poisson curve suggested that the system of “who found what” was essentially random.

Synchronicity is not just a phenomenon of the past, when communication was poor, but very much part of the present. Scientists at AT&T Bell Labs won a Nobel prize for inventing the transistor in 1948, but two German physicists independently invented a transistor two months later at a Westinghouse Laboratory in Paris.  Conventional wisdom credits John von Neumann with the invention of a programmable binary computer during the last years of World War II, but the idea and a working punched-tape prototype were developed quite separately in Germany a few years earlier in 1941 by Konrad Zuse. In a verifiable case of modern parallelism,  Zuse’s pioneering binary computer in wartime Germany went completely unnoticed by the US and UK until many decades later.

The strict wartime secrecy surrounding nuclear reactors during World War II created a model laboratory for retrospectively illuminating technological inevitability. Independent teams of nuclear scientists around the world raced against each other to harness atomic energy. Because of the obvious strategic military advantage of this power, the teams were isolated as enemies, or kept ignorant as wary allies, or separated by “need to know” secrecy within the same country. In other words, the history of discovery ran in parallel. Each discrete team’s highly collaborative work was well documented, and progressed through multiple stages of technological development. Looking back researchers can trace parallel paths as the same discoveries were made. In particular, physicist Spenser Weart examined how six of these teams each independently discovered an essential formula for making a nuclear bomb. This equation, called the four-factor formula, allows engineers to calculate the critical mass necessary for a chain reaction. Working in parallel, but in isolation, the formula was simultaneously discovered in France, Germany, the Soviet Union and three teams in the United States. Japan came close but never quite reached it. This high degree of simultaneity — six simultaneous inventions — strongly suggests the formula was inevitable at this time.

Both Newton and Leibnitz are credited with inventing (or discovering) calculus, but in fact their figuring methods differed, and the two approaches were only harmonized over time.  Priestly’s method of generating oxygen differed from Scheele’s; using different logic they uncovered the same inevitable next stage. The two astronomers who both correctly predicted the existence of Neptune (Adams and Leverrier) actually calculated different orbits for the planet. The two orbits just happen to coincide to the same point in 1846, so they found the same body by different means.

But aren’t these kinds of anecdotes mere statistical coincidences? Compared to the hundred thousand of thousands of inventions in the annals of discovery we should expect a few to happen at once, yes? The problem is most multiples are unreported. Sociologist Robert Merton says “all singleton discoveries are imminent multiples.” Many potential multiples are aborted.  In 1974 sociologist Warren Hagstrom surveyed 1,718 US academic research scientists, and asked them if their research had ever been anticipated by others. He found that 46% believed that their work had been anticipated “once or twice” and 16% claimed they were preempted three or more times. Jerry Gaston, another sociologist, surveyed 203 high energy physicists in the UK, and got similar results: 38% claimed to be anticipated once, and another 26% more than once.

Patent law scholar Mark Lemley states that in patent law “a large percent of priority disputes involve near-simultaneous invention.”  One study of these near-simultaneous priority disputes by Adam Jaffe, at Brandeis University, showed that in 45% of the cases both parties could prove they had a “working model” of the invention within 6 months of each other, and in 70% of the cases within a year of each other. Jaffe writes “These results provide some support for the idea that simultaneous or near-simultaneous invention is a regular feature of innovation.”

Quite a few scientists and inventors, and many outside of science, are repulsed by the idea that the progress of technology is inevitable. It rubs them the wrong way because it contradicts a deeply and widely held belief that human choice is central to our humanity, and essential to a sustainable civilization. Admitting to “inevitable” anything feels like a cop-out, a surrender to invisible non-human forces beyond our reach. Such a false notion may lull us into abdicating our responsibility for shaping our own destiny. On the other hand, if technologies really are inevitable then we have only the illusion of choice, and we should smash all technologies to be free of this spell.

Hollywood movies have an unnerving habit of arriving in pairs: two movies that arrive in theaters simultaneously featuring a apocalyptic hit by asteroids (Deep Impact and Armageddon), or starring the hero as an ant (A Bug’s Life and Antz), or a harden cop and his reluctant dog counterpart (K9 and Turner & Hooch), or profiling the Zodiac serial killer? Is this similarity due to simultaneous genius or to greedy theft? One of the few reliable laws in the studio and publishing businesses is that a successful movie or novel will be immediately sued by someone who claims the winner stole their idea. Sometimes it was stolen, but just as many times two authors, two singers, two directors came up with similar works at the same time. Mark Dunn, a library clerk, wrote a play, “Frank’s Life,” that was performed in 1992 in a small theater in New York City. “Frank’s Life” is about a guy who was unaware his life was a reality TV program. In his suit against the producers of the 1998 movie The Truman Show, Dunn lists 149 similarities between his story and theirs — which is a movie about a guy who is unaware his life is a reality TV program. However The Truman Show producers claim they have a copyrighted dated script of the movie from 1991, a year before “Frank’s Life” was staged. It is not too hard to believe that the idea of a movie about an unwitting reality TV hero was inevitable.

Writing in The New Yorker, Tad Friend tackled the issue of synchronistic cinematic expression by suggesting that “the giddiest aspect of copyright suits is how often the studios try to prove that their story was so derivative that they couldn’t have stolen it from only one source.”

Every now and then we believe a work of art must be truly original, not ordained. Its pattern, premise, and message originates with a distinctive human mind and shines as unique as they are. J.K. Rowling, author of the highly imaginative Harry Potter series launched in 1997 successfully rebuffed a law suit by an American author who published a series of children’s books in 1984 about Larry Potter, an orphaned boy wizard wearing glasses surrounded by Muggles. In 1990 Neil Gaiman wrote a comic book about a dark-haired English boy who finds out on his 12th birthday he is a wizard and is given an owl by a magical visitor. Or a 1991 story by Jane Yolen about Henry, a boy who attends a magical school for young wizards and must overthrow an evil wizard. Then there’s The Secret of Platform 13, published in 1994, which features a gateway on a railway platform to a magical underworld.  There many good reasons to believe J.K. Rowling when she claims she read none of these (for instance very few of the Muggle books were printed and almost none were sold; teenage boy comics don’t appeal to a single mom), and many more reasons to accept the fact that these ideas arose in simultaneous spontaneous creation. Multiple invention happens all the time in the arts as well as technology, but no one bothers to catalog similarities until a lot of money or fame is involved.

If stories of boy wizards in magical schools with pet owls entering otherworlds through  railway station platforms are inevitable, there must be true originals whose plots and details could not be anticipated. I thought of the delightfully fantastic novel The Life of Pi, about a boy who is lost at sea in a lifeboat that he shares with a tiger. I was sure that hadn’t been done before! But after doing some research, it had. Twenty years before “Life of Pi”, a Brazilian author had written a story (in Portuguese) about a Jewish zookeeper who crossed the Atlantic in a lifeboat with a panther. Even the most outlandish idea is never alone. Further digging revealed the author of Pi had once read a unenthusiastic review of the Brazilian book, so the far-fetched premise was not independently created. But was the Brazilian’s story copied, or emergent as well?

via The Technium: Progression of the Inevitable.


 

The Future Of War Is Bright

November 27, 2012 3 comments

Does war and mass destruction have a future? 500 years of war, genocide by the West will continue – unless the West is disarmed.

The scramble for Africa in the closing years of 19th century was a disaster for Africa  |  Cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne (1844–1910) on The Rhodes Colossus: Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes, after he announced plans for a telegraph line and railroad from Cape Town to Cairo. on 10 December 1892 in Punch

The scramble for Africa in the closing years of 19th century was a disaster for Africa | Cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne (1844–1910) on The Rhodes Colossus: Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes, after he announced plans for a telegraph line and railroad from Cape Town to Cairo. on 10 December 1892 in Punch

Propaganda

False ideas.

Academia floats. Media promotes.

Take this study by Norwegian University (@UniOslo) on the future of war.

It is now 25 years since Africa’s population surpassed that of China and India: it now stands at 2.8 billion.

This mix of futurology and fiction is one of the possible answers to what the world will look like in 2050. Part of the reason that future wars in now relatively peaceful countries such as Mozambique – whose civil war is now 30 years in the past – and Tanzania is the contention that war itself is going to become far less common.

Havard Hegre, a professor in the department of Political Science at the University of Oslo, is the latest academic to devise a statistical model capable of reaching into the future and telling us what is likely to happen next. His study, in collaboration with the Peace Research Institute Oslo, claims that in five years’ time India, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Uganda and Burma will be at the greatest risk of conflict, while in 40 years, it will be China, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

For the purpose of the model, war is defined as being between governments and political organisations that use violence and in which at least 25 people die.

“The number of conflicts is falling,” the professor observes. “We expect this fall to continue. We predict a steady fall in the number of conflicts in the next 40 years. Conflicts that involve a high degree of violence, such as Syria, are becoming increasingly rare.”

In other words, the number of wars will halve. In 2009, some 15 per cent of the world’s countries were suffering from armed conflicts. That proportion will fall to 7 per cent midway through this century, according to the Norwegian researchers’ predictions. At its core, the study has taken a history of global conflicts over the last 40 years and added United Nations predictions for key indicators such as infant mortality rates and population structures up to 2050 to data on probable education rates.

His conflict model shows the combination of higher education, lower infant mortality, smaller youth cohorts, and lower population growth are a few of the reasons why the world can expect a more peaceful future. The population is expected to grow, but at a slower pace than today, and the proportion of young people will decrease in most countries, with the exception of African ones.

Unfortunately, the model has already had to be tweaked to take account of the Arab Spring and renewed Israeli-Palestinian tensions. The authors admitted that since the first findings of the model were published in 2009, conflicts in the Middle East had weakened the clear correlation between socio-economic development and the absence of civil war, while the fighting in Syria and Libya had shown that “we also have to include democratisation processes in the model”.

via The future of war is looking bleak – World Politics – World – The Independent.

Wrong

2050 projections based on blinkered studies. Factually wrong.

Africa’s population after the end of WWII, in 1950 was estimated at 22 crores (220 million) – and is now at about 110 crores (1100 million). Can it be 2.8 billion ?(280 cr.; 2800 million). Even by 2050? Unless external meddling is stopped?

For the 200 years of the British Raj in India, population in India grew at its slowest pace, as per historical estimates.

Africa suffered more.

On January 25, 1957, Kashmir was merged with India, ignoring a UN ruling. Harold Macmillan, Selwyn Lloyd, Richard Austen Butler hectoring Nehru on Kashmir. Dag is Dag Hammersjold, the UN Secretary General. | Cartoonist: Michael Cummings in Daily Express, 28 Jan 1957; source & courtesy – cartoons.ac.uk

On January 25, 1957, Kashmir was merged with India, ignoring a UN ruling. Harold Macmillan, Selwyn Lloyd, Richard Austen Butler hectoring Nehru on Kashmir. Dag is Dag Hammersjold, the UN Secretary General. | Cartoonist: Michael Cummings in Daily Express, 28 Jan 1957; source & courtesy – cartoons.ac.uk

Wronger

Population decline of Africa was a direct result of slavery and colonialism.

Colonialism in Africa was dismantled over thirty years (1947-1977) after India – a process in which India’s foreign policy played no small role. Seeing colonialism anywhere as a threat to India, India’s foreign policy in the first 25 years concentrated more on global issues than on India’s own interests. Without economic or military might, India spoke on world stages – and colonial powers listened.

With great resentment.

Under Nehru's Foreign Policy, India's voice was heard by super-powers, on the global stage. Even though India was militarily and economically weak. This cartoon from a British magazine shows Nehru's position on Suez rankled in Britain. Kashmir was a part of India - and Suez was NOT a part of Britain, but a part of Egypt. (Nehru - on Kashmir - On Suez; artist: Ronald Searle. Published in Punch Magazine 23 January 1957. Cartoon source and courtesy - punchcartoons.com).

Under Nehru’s Foreign Policy, India’s voice was heard by super-powers, on the global stage. Even though India was militarily and economically weak. This cartoon from a British magazine shows Nehru’s position on Suez rankled in Britain. Kashmir was a part of India – and Suez was NOT a part of Britain, but a part of Egypt. (Nehru – on Kashmir – On Suez; artist: Ronald Searle. Published in Punch Magazine 23 January 1957. Cartoon source and courtesy – punchcartoons.com).

Wrongest

War is probably decreasing because war mongers in the West no longer have the capacity, due ageing population and economic decline at home.

No less significant is the fact that resistant societies have found new ways to wage war. Libya is the most recent example.

In Africa.

The extract above interestingly does not mention colonialism, missionary objectives or Pax Americana as a cause but blames people for being born – through concepts like population control.

Dubious studies by people with doubtful intentions.


Gandhiji: Indians Must Be Thankful to Nobel Committee for Not Giving Him the Award

November 11, 2012 1 comment

As Euro-power declines and Nobel propaganda becomes less effective, to gain fresh legitimacy, the Nobel Committee may try and foist a posthumous Nobel on Gandhiji.

A portrait of Gandhiji by Illustrator: Alexey Kurbatov Location: Moscow, Russia

A portrait of Gandhiji by Illustrator: Alexey Kurbatov Location: Moscow, Russia

Is this true?

British administrators, it is believed, ‘influenced’ the Nobel Committee against a Nobel Prize for Gandhiji. Was the Nobel Committee even close to giving Gandhiji the Peace Prize?

So grateful …

What ever the truth, I am grateful to the British Raj, all the British administrators and bureaucrats, politicians who managed the Nobel award process – to deny Gandhiji the Nobel prize.

Nobel prize, the committee says cannot be awarded posthumously – though some 13 years later, the UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold was given the Nobel 6 months after his death.

Before that, the Nobel prize for Literature was awarded posthumously to Erik Axel Karlfeldt in 1931. Nobel Foundation Statutes were revised in 1974, to create a justification why the award cannot be awarded posthumously – unless death happened after the announcement.

According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation in force at that time, the Nobel Prize could, under certain circumstances, be awarded posthumously. Thus it was possible to give Gandhi the prize. However, Gandhi did not belong to an organisation.

So silly

It would have been so silly to know Gandhiji as a Nobel prize winner.

Along with terrorist-freedom fighter like Yasser Arafat (1994), terrorist-politician Menachem Begin (1978). Where would Gandhiji be, if he was clubbed with a clown-politician like Jimmy Carter (2002). Imagine Gandhiji rubbing shoulders with Barack Obama (2009), a non-entity when he won the prize. Or a crowning gag like EU (2012), as a peace prize winner. Gandhiji, staunchly against religious-conversions in the company of a do-gooder like Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (1979) – promoted by the Vatican, as Mother Teresa.

Or a war-monger like Henry Kissinger (1973).

Earlier, in 1945, Cordell Hull, who in 1939, was instrumental in refusing entry to some 950 German-Jewish refugees, was given the Nobel prize in 1945. Hull even co-authored a pamphlet, calling for bar on entry of European-Jews to America.

A Nobel committee member’s expression of regret for repeatedly overlooking Mahatma Gandhi for the Peace Prize has left his grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi and historians distinctly underwhelmed. “It really does not behove us to be lamenting the absence of a Nobel for Gandhi, when the committee itself has apologised for this so many times and when Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi have accepted the Peace Prize in his name.”

Nobel committee member and Conservative Norwegian politician Kaci Kullmann was quoted by a TV news channel on Thursday as saying ignoring Gandhi was “one of the greatest mistakes” of the Nobel.

Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and, finally, a few days before his assassination in January 1948 for the Peace Prize.

“What people forget is that at the time, the idea that the Nobel peace prize would go to a non-European was utterly absurd,” said Mihir Bose, author of Raj, Secrets and Revolution, a biography of Subhash Chandra Bose.

“After all, when Tagore was awarded the Nobel, Rudyard Kipling was furious…”

via Nobel apology leaves Bapu’s grandson unimpressed – Hindustan Times.


Saraswati Ignored: Cause or Effect of Indian Decline

October 21, 2012 4 comments

Why are there so few temples to Brahma and Saraswati? Why is the worship of Brahma and Saraswati, divinities of creation and creativity, so rare and hesitant?.

Saraswati sits on the bank of a river, holds a book and beads, and plays music on Veena, as a peacock looks on, in a painting by Raja Ravi Varma  |  Painting of the Goddess Saraswati by Raja Ravi Varma (1848–1906); currently housed at the English: Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara, Gujarat.

Saraswati sits on the bank of a river, holds a book and beads, and plays music on Veena, as a peacock looks on, in a painting by Raja Ravi Varma | Painting of the Goddess Saraswati by Raja Ravi Varma (1848–1906); currently housed at the English: Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara, Gujarat.

Among all the Indian festivals, celebration of Brahma and Saraswati have clearly taken a back seat. On and off, this question has piqued me for twenty years now.

Was the focus on Lakshmi and Durga, goddesses of war and wealth, a response to historical necessity or a cause of the decline?

From a country that Genghis Khan did not dare to attack, to a country that finally succumbed even to barbarian hordes from the West, is steep fall.

Was India rising to the challenge – or oblivious of its decline?

India’s ignorance today may make us believe that India’s moral decline may be the answer. But, a 1000-year cyclical perspective may yield the opposite answer – war and wealth became a more important in response to Asuric challenge.

Saraswati was concentrated in temples, which were hugely funded – and the rest of the population started focusing on war and wealth.

The Goddess of learning, Saraswati, is one of the ancient deities in the Hindu pantheon. Yet, today, apart from the one obligatory puja every year, she’s largely forgotten,” remarks noted Bharatanatyam exponent Sandhya Purecha, when we catch her on the sidelines of a rehearsal for a Navratri special ballet invoking the Goddess Mahalakshmi at her Central Mumbai dance school.

When we point out that her ballet too invokes Lakshmi, and not Saraswati, she laughs, “In an era when everyone is in a mad rush chasing money, people feel that the blessing of the Goddess of Wealth is all that matters. Perhaps they feel that once you have money, all else will follow.”

She says that there are many beautiful compositions in the Puranas praising Saraswati. “But if not as the wealth-showering Devi, even audiences want to see a goddess as a slayer of demons armed to the teeth, like Durga.” According to Purecha, this is merely a projection of the way society sees women. “If she brings dowry or other material gifts, she gets respect. But if she wants her due otherwise, she has to fight. A mellow woman is often disregarded. Perhaps that’s why, Saraswati, in her white raiments, lost in the notes of her veena, does not have the same resonance as other fiery Goddesses.”

Radheshyam Tiwari, a doctorate in Hindu mythology from Benares, also laments this change. “Knowledge, wisdom and scholarly pursuit were always treated with utmost regard. They were not seen as a means to an end, but as something that people pursued with devotion for the love of it,” he points out.

He also feels that people are uncomfortable talking about Saraswati’s life because of the Matsya Purana. “According to the text, once Brahma created Satarupa (another name of Saraswati) from his own body, he became enamoured by her. To avoid his amorous gaze, she kept shifting, and Brahma created five heads to see her all the time. Finally, she gave in and became his consort. The questions this will raise about incest may be a reason why Saraswati is kept on the margins.”

Tiwari also talks about how Saraswati worship endured the rise and spread of both Buddhism and Jainism. “As Buddhism moved from its earlier Theravada school to Mahayana, many elements from Hinduism were also adopted. In fact, if you see some of the early Buddhist mandalas, you come upon Goddess Saraswati in the south-west of the innermost circle, between Brahma and Vishnu, along with various divinities of Mahayana Buddhism,” he explains. “As the Mahayana Buddhist texts went to Nepal, Tibet, Java, China and eventually Japan, the Goddess finds mention in Buddhist imagery there too. For example in Tibet, she is called Vajra-Sarasvati and wields a thunderbolt. In Japan, she becomes the Goddess Dai-Ben-Zai-Ten or The Great Divinity of Reasoning Faculty.”

While admitting that scriptures, too, talk far more about other Goddesses compared to Saraswati, Hindu religion expert and the father of the iconic Hindu almanac Kalnirnay, Jayraj Salgaonkar, points out how the Goddess almost stops mattering after the first stage of life, brahmacharya. “Later on, from grihastha (family), vanprastha (retired) and sanyas (renunciation), all that people think of is Lakshmi.”

Scoffing at the priorities of today’s materialist world, he underlines how even Adi Shankaracharya, who revived Hinduism around 800 AD, installed the Goddess Saraswati (or Sharada) at the first mutt he established in Sringeri, Karnataka.

Octagenarian Salgaonkar blames patriarchy for the way even Lakshmi is depicted. “It sounds very nice to hear when men talk of their wives as Lakshmi. But even in early Raja Ravi Varma paintings you can see how Lakshmi’s feet are kept well-hidden. Even now people believe that if her feet are free, Lakshmi will move, taking all the prosperity along. This idea came from the desire of men to control women.”

Both Tiwari and Purecha too insist that the “spousification” of Goddesses was “a clever, latter-day masculine ploy” to link the greatness of the Goddesses to their spouses. “In the process, many of our ancient Goddesses of Fertility and Strength were pushed aside to make way for the mainstreaming of the spouses of the triumvirate — Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh,” says Tiwari.

In parting, Purecha nails it: “Women don’t want to be treated like Goddesses and kept on a pedestal, or be treated like objects of lust. When that (the change) happens, our Goddesses will also be unshackled from this masculine paradigm and we will perhaps begin giving Saraswati her place again.”

via Why saraswati is ignored – Lifestyle – DNA.


 

Change Idols – And Continue Withe Killings, Jails, Taxes, Wars

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

When it is so easy to kill in the name of democracy, peace, freedom, progress, why do the Taliban in Af-Pak region kill in the name of religion.

Unable to handle either Islam or Westernization, Pakistan's leadership should think of the people more - and less of the State | Cartoon on March 7, 2004 by Zahoor; source & courtesy - paksir.blogspot.in | Click for image.

Unable to handle either Islam or Westernization, Pakistan’s leadership should think of the people more – and less of the State | Cartoon on March 7, 2004 by Zahoor; source & courtesy – paksir.blogspot.in | Click for image.

The Malala incident is déjà vu times million. You have religious ‘extremists’ manifesting brutality; the ‘educated’ class calls the act heinous, the ‘intellectuals’ label the offenders as beasts, the ‘liberals’ protest against the ‘cowardly act’ and while everyone is condemning the act, they remain shushed about the root cause of it all: the ideology. Throughout the past every single person who has denounced the Taliban has acted as an apologetic, justifying the religious ideology and claiming how those ‘uneducated morons’ have ‘unfortunately’ misinterpreted the teachings of peace and tranquility – no, they haven’t, ‘unfortunately’.

It is so painfully amusing to note how the ‘moderates’ and armchair revolutionaries, would sit there with a glass of vine in their hands, uninhibitedly hanging out with the opposite sex, not having offered a prayer or fasted for ages, claiming how the Taliban – who lead their lives strictly according to the Shariah – are infesting their religion of harmony. The poor chaps are only doing what their scriptures – the ones that the pseudo intellectuals extol, or don’t have the cojones to criticize – tell them to do. When you are being taught, through the scriptures that are universally recognized by the followers as ‘authentic’, that all the non-believers or threats to the grandeur of your ideology should be killed, you will kill them, where is the misinterpretation here?

Finding slaves or slave girls, repulsive; physically assaulting women, disgusting; cutting off hands for theft, inhuman; stoning people to death, beastly and then venerating the ideology that permits this at the same time is hypocrisy of the very highest order. You sit there, criticize and mock the Taliban that follow your religion in its true form while you live in oblivion with your extremely palatable, but simultaneously blatantly fallacious, brand of religion and then claim that the Taliban are misinterpreting and misapprehending your ideology? Oh, the irony.

Let’s stop carving out quasi religions, or defending ideologies that we’ve all grown up blindly following as the truth. Let’s call a spade a spade instead and realize that at the end of the day as much as you might have a cardiac arrest admitting it, the root cause of religious extremism is: religion – especially in its raw crude form, which again is the only ‘authentic’ form.

The fact that groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi exist is because Islam is still traversing its Dark Ages while other religions have gone through Reformation, resulting in a collective Renaissance – and that too half a millennium ago.

Note the deep longing expression in both faces  |  Cartoon by - by Zahoor (May 2012); source & courtesy - tribune.com.pk  |  Click for image.

Note the deep longing expression in both faces | Cartoon by – by Zahoor (May 2012); source & courtesy – tribune.com.pk | Click for image.

via Don’t blame the Taliban | Pakistan Today | Latest news | Breaking news | Pakistan News | World news | Business | Sport and Multimedia.

How to stop religious extremism?

Promote Reformation, Renaissance.

Instead of killing people in the name of Mohammed or Jesus, kill in the name of Progress, Liberty, Freedom, Democracy, Communism.

Simple really.


1971 Bangladesh War: Details Less Known

October 13, 2012 Leave a comment

The India-Pakistan war of 1971 that has not been understood or explained. Properly, completely or even contextually.

An Indian Army machine gunner fires at Pakistani positions in a village across an open field, 1,500 yards inside the East Pakistan border at Dongarpara on Dec. 7, 1971. Both sides have taken trenchlines position, in an attempt to prevent each other’s moves. This picture was taken about 200-miles North East of Calcutta. |  Source: AP; Courtesy - RIR

An Indian Army machine gunner fires at Pakistani positions in a village across an open field, 1,500 yards inside the East Pakistan border at Dongarpara on Dec. 7, 1971. Both sides have taken trenchlines position, in an attempt to prevent each other’s moves. This picture was taken about 200-miles North East of Calcutta. | Source: AP; Courtesy – RIR

Along the lines of the Quicktake post in June-2011, here is a post that builds on 1971 War – particularly adding parts rarely told.

The 1971 war is considered to be modern India’s finest hour, in military terms. The clinical professionalism of the Indian army, navy and air force; a charismatic brass led by the legendary Sam Maneckshaw; and ceaseless international lobbying by the political leadership worked brilliantly to set up a famous victory. After two weeks of vicious land, air and sea battles, nearly 100,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered before India’s rampaging army, the largest such capitulation since General Paulus’ surrender at Stalingrad in 1943.

However, it could all have come unstuck without help from veto-wielding Moscow, with which New Delhi had the foresight to sign a security treaty in 1970.

As Nixon’s conversations with the wily Kissinger show, the forces arrayed against India were formidable. The Pakistani military was being bolstered by aircraft from Jordan, Iran, Turkey and France. Moral and military support was amply provided by the US, China and the UK.

Though not mentioned in the conversations here, the UAE sent in half a squadron of fighter aircraft and the Indonesians dispatched at least one naval vessel to fight alongside the Pakistani Navy. However, Russia’s entry thwarted a scenario that could have led to multiple pincer movements against India.

via 1971 War: How Russia sank Nixon’s gunboat diplomacy | Russia & India Report.

India At War: For 1200 years Desert Bloc Has Been At War With India

October 2, 2012 1 comment

India has been is at the forefront of 1200-year aggression by Desert Bloc spear-headed by multiple religious factions.

Indian & Foreign Corporations are colluding to increase their power against We, the People  |  Cartoonist Adam Zyglis in 2010; source & courtesy - cagle.com

Indian & Foreign Corporations are colluding to increase their power against We, the People | Cartoonist Adam Zyglis in 2010; source & courtesy – cagle.com

The War of 1200 Years

How does India defeat मायावी mayaavi religions – without becoming intolerant, or persecution and suppression of dissent?

Desert Bloc has used religions (there are only 3 religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam) against India now for 1200 years.

Indian polity, भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra based on the four freedoms – धर्म (dharma – justice), अर्थ (arth – wealth and means), काम (kaam – human desires) मोक्ष (moksha – liberty) has a unique challenge.

With some degree of success

An easy marker of Desert Bloc success is if we begin to think any religion as ‘better’ or worse.

The self-congratulatory claim of the Christian West to represent freedom of speech as opposed to the supposed tyranny of silence imposed by Islam doesn’t stand the scrutiny of history. The Inquisition, under pain of torture, silenced Galileo’s ‘heresy’ against the Christian belief that it was the sun that moved around the earth, and not vice versa. The Vatican’s list of prohibited books still includes many world classics, and a number of American schools partly or totally ban Darwin’s theory of evolution in favour of the church-approved doctrine of ‘intelligent design’.

Perhaps the problem is not what fundamental Islam and fundamental Christianity don’t have in common, but what they do have in common. And that is that both are assertively proselytising faiths which actively, often aggressively, seek converts.

When my faith enjoins me to get you to change your faith, and your faith enjoins you to do the same with me, confrontation becomes inevitable. Proselytisation implies not just the superiority of my faith to yours; it totally denies the validity of your faith and narrows the scope of dialogue or even peaceful coexistence in mutual tolerance.

Ironically, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all come from the same semitic source. Indeed, Islam has always considered Jews and Christians to be ‘people of the Book’, referring to the overlap between the Old Testament and the Quran and, as such, not to be seen as adversaries. Over the centuries, the material and technological dominance of the West has upset this equilibrium, and pitted the ‘free’ West against an ‘unfree’ Islam.

via Juggle-Bandhi : Jug Suraiya’s blog-The Times Of India.

Faced with: –

  1. Well-funded armies that invested in more cannons and expensive horses.
  2. An Islamic leadership that could build impressive monuments (Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar)
  3. State-funded intellectuals who were retained by the State to wage a propaganda war (maya); promote official agenda (Akbar’s nav-ratan).

Indian leadership had a unique challenge in front of itself. How could India: –

  1. Sustain its system of 3-Rights – ज़र (jar – gold), जन (jan – human ties) and जमीन (jameen – property)
  2. Retain a thin State (with no monuments)
  3. Maintain guarantees of four essential freedoms (dharma, moksh, kaam, arth).

The Bhakti saints and reformers promoted the ideological structure of

  1. How the guru can be more important than god
  2. As the guru leads you to god.
  3. Different people can have different gurus.

Guru Nanak went ahead and reduced the need for ‘One’ holy book – by extracting from the writings of many gurus – including from the Koran.

After Independence, India bought peace with the Western world by adopting Western standards of democracy, laws, currency, human rights etc.

Not that it happens anywhere in the world, but additionally Indians also had to prove that we could ‘protect’ minorities.

Sixty years after the Indian Republic, we need to understand modern realities.

Better.

What is Bharattantra

Unlike, भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra is the Indic political system that guarantees four freedoms – धर्म (dharma – justice), अर्थ (arth – wealth and means), काम (kaam – human desires) मोक्ष (moksha – liberty) and ensures three rights – ज़र (jar – gold), जन (jan – human ties) and जमीन (jameen – property) for all.


The Dawn: An unposted letter to PM Singh

September 23, 2012 3 comments

An ‘open’ letter by a Pakistani reporter to MMS created a huge debate in Pakistan – with more than 1100 comments. A 2ndlook at the letter.

 

Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to you and your government for considering over 900 Pakistani Hindu citizens eligible for Indian nationality. It is a great gesture indeed for the Hindus who once lived in Pakistan. I understand that Hindus remain your government’s first priority because many in your government identify with them;

Mr Singh, we all do appreciate your humanitarian policies and would urge you to expedite the citizenship process of Pakistani Hindus, however, I find it my duty to inform you that people who profess other religions in Pakistan are equally deprived of peace and should be given an opportunity to seek asylum in India. Why is this move focused towards Hindus? Don’t you think that the Indian government, while at it, should chalk out a strategic plan to cater to Pakistanis — irrespective of caste and religion — whose lives are threatened within the boundaries of Pakistan?

Various members of the Indian government are corresponding with you on the status of Hindus who migrated to India to seek shelter. One of them is Laxmikanta Chawla who, amongst many other points, stated that, “Since the Pakistani government has failed to protect its minorities from frequent atrocities so the Indian government needs to look after them.”

via An unposted letter to PM Singh | DAWN.COM.

Dear Faiza – You must understand the agreement that we have with the leaders (past) of your nation – which binds (and separates) our people together. The recognized leaders of Indian-Muslims demanded that they needed a separate country for themselves.

They got it.

All Indian Muslims who felt that they had a better future in Pakistan went to Pakistan. Any Indian Muslims still in India, who are unhappy with treatment of Muslims in India are welcome to go to Pakistan.

Indian Muslims in Pakistan have to manage their past, present and future. They demanded that right – and that was given to them. Indians Hindus who could not leave Pakistan earlier – and who are leaving now, have a right of residence in India.

There is no choice in this.

This is the agreement that binds (and separates) us. An agreement that our grandfathers made – and we have to honor it.

I do hope you now understand why the Indian government cannot start ‘treating dejected Pakistanis on equal footing as Hindus.’

If you can get your Pakistani Brothers and Sisters to withdraw their demand for Pakistan – and liquidate the country of Pakistan, the agreement will stand null and void.

All those Muslims and Christians who trusted India – have our solemn promise that we will do our best for them as Indians – which we have done.

However, if there is any disagreement on this point …

Muslims can go to Pakistan.

Christians can emigrate to Australia, UK, Canada, USA. These countries have an implicit policy of allowing Indian Christians to emigrate to these countries.

I still want to direct your attention towards the hundreds of Hazaras who are executed every day in broad daylight on the streets of Pakistan. I wanted to ask if you could lend a helping hand to the countless Christians who live in fear of being arrested or murdered for committing blasphemy in the country. The scores of civilian dying in the north-western side of Pakistan because of militancy and drone strikes could also avail your assistance, that is, if you plan to offer any; You must also realise that Christians, and even Muslims are not exactly ‘at peace’ in this country either.

You and a few representatives of the Indian government must also have a rendezvous with Ahmadis to understand how they face religious persecution in every aspect of their lives. I insist you meet with Pakistanis who are desperate to bring about a positive change in the society and see how they are threatened and harassed in ways that are unfathomable by many.

Dear Faiza – I hope you understand that I am elected by the people of India – and not by Hazaras, Christians,  of Pakistan. So, I have  no reason to think, to worry, about the people of Pakistan. I also do not need to realize any of the things that you want me to realize.

Or to offer any assistance to Pakistani citizens.

I think that all problems that Pakistanis have with Pakistan, must be addressed to the Government of Pakistan.

I am sure you would know all the details about political asylum but will reiterate that it is not easy for all Pakistanis to seek asylum in countries such as United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia as many of them do not have the resources to do the same. India remains the only hope for many people who can reach the country via Attari with minimum resources.

I don’t know what would I have done if was given an option to move to India. Perhaps, I would have moved but this is a question that will remain unanswered unless your government starts treating dejected Pakistanis on equal footing as Hindus.

Dear Faiza – With my limited understanding of asylum seekers, it may be better for Pakistanis to wait – and get their chance in United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia.

These countries are either much bigger than India – or have a population density that is lesser than India.

They also offer, by popular agreement, better ‘opportunities’ than India. India is a poor choice – even if you are making it first choice in the ‘second’ class.

Going by what Chawla said I must request you to not be so harsh on our government which is currently embroiled in a conflict with the superior judiciary and has other important tasks at hand rather than safeguarding the interest of the very people for which it was elected. It is important that you understand that the government of Pakistan is not only unable to look after its minorities but is also incapable of catering to the heavy majority and ensuring their safety.

Mr Singh, this might not be news to you but every life which is snubbed out in a militant or violent attack in Pakistan pushes the progress made by the handful of Pakistanis who believe in mutual respect for peace, life and religious diversity, a hundred steps back.

Dear Faiza – The Indian Government dealing with the Pakistani Government is not directed to make life difficult for the people of Pakistan. All that we demand of the Pakistani nation is that they fulfill their obligation of one nation to any another.

On any other issue you must take up the matter with your own government.

Mr Singh, many Pakistanis will refuse to openly admit this but most of us would like to be considered eligible for Indian nationality. The reason behind our desire to move is extremely simple. It is because India since 1947 has grown as a nation, an economy and a country. Despite of the poverty and other related issues, we all see India as a progressive society and in a very positive light. We all want to live in a country which is ruled by secular politicians where fascist elements are given minimum representation in the parliament; a country where people can coexist or at least consider this ideology a welcoming thought.

It is indeed with a heavy heart that I leave Pakistan today in search of a safer country — a place where I can express myself freely without being threatened and flagged as a heretic.

En route to a strange country, crossing the all too familiar roads of Karachi, I saw a poster featuring Jinnah with a small line stating “Pakistan needs you”. Mr Singh, never before did I feel such fierce emotion. The words struck me and for the first time in my life, made me realise that we all have failed Jinnah and the Pakistan he envisioned.

Like many others before and after me, I am running for safer pastures where my life will be valued and respected, leaving my fellow countrymen behind to fight with the demons that dictate the order of the day in Pakistan, my home.

Dear Faiza – The father of our nation was clear about one thing. Be the change that you want to see in others.

If there is anything that you like about India, Indians, or for that matter of any other culture, be the change that you want to see. You cannot solve the problems in Pakistan by coming to India.

To all those Indians who are leaving India, my advice is the same. You cannot fix India by leaving India.

That said, if any Indian who cannot stay in India and fix India, my advice is – leave. Go. And build a life in a country, culture, nation, people of your choice. Our best wishes go with you.

But, we have one request – Forget about us.

Not my place or position to give advice to Pakistanis – but if you pushing me, I will repeat the above advice.

You caught your Kasab but what about the numerous Kasabs who are ready to wipe out the entire population of Pakistan by flagging them as infidels, anti-Islam, pro-India, US puppets and just plain secular? What about us who continue to strive for a change, however, feel helpless at the hands of the radical elements freely roaming around in Pakistan? Is there any solace for us?

If you seek solace or advice you must go to the West – United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia. You can try France, Spain also. The Vatican is also a good place. They have centuries of practice in giving solace and advice.

The fact that it has never helped anybody is another matter. But they are seeking to save souls. They are free with advice and give solace.

The Kashmir Story: A Western Narrative

September 20, 2012 2 comments

Western academia and media has little difficulty in justifying military invasions of countries like Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan – but see moral issues with India’s annexation of Kashmir.

On January 25, 1957, Kashmir was merged with India, ignoring a UN ruling. Harold Macmillan, Selwyn Lloyd, Richard Austen Butler hectoring Nehru on Kashmir. Dag is Dag Hammersjold, the UN Secretary General.  |  Cartoonist: Michael Cummings in Daily Express, 28 Jan 1957; source & courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk

On January 25, 1957, Kashmir was merged with India, ignoring a UN ruling. Harold Macmillan, Selwyn Lloyd, Richard Austen Butler hectoring Nehru on Kashmir. Dag is Dag Hammersjold, the UN Secretary General. | Cartoonist: Michael Cummings in Daily Express, 28 Jan 1957; source & courtesy – cartoons.ac.uk

Abdullah, the Lion of Kashmir as he enjoyed being styled, was a Muslim leader who, like Badshah Khan in the North-West Frontier Province, had been an ally of Congress in the years of struggle against the Raj, and become the most prominent opponent of the maharajah in the Valley of Kashmir. There his party, the National Conference, had adopted a secular platform in which local communists played some role, seeking independence for Kashmir as the ‘Switzerland of Asia’. But when partition came, Abdullah made no case of this demand. For some years he had bonded emotionally with Nehru, and when fighting broke out in Kashmir in the autumn of 1947, he was flown out from Srinagar to Delhi by military aircraft and lodged in Nehru’s house, where he took part in planning the Indian takeover, to which he was essential. Two days later, the maharajah – now safely repaired to Jammu – announced in a backdated letter to Mountbatten, drafted by his Indian minders, that he would install Abdullah as his prime minister.

Does Pakistan have any legitimate claim to any further territory or people  |  ZAHOOR'S CARTOON on Wednesday, July 13, 2005; source & courtesy: dailytimes.com.pk

Does Pakistan have any legitimate claim to any further territory or people | ZAHOOR’S CARTOON on Wednesday, July 13, 2005; source & courtesy: dailytimes.com.pk

For the next five years, Abdullah ruled the Valley of Kashmir and Jammu under the shield of the Indian army, with no authority other than his reluctant appointment by a feudatory he despised and Delhi soon discarded. At the outset, Nehru believed his friend’s popularity capable of carrying all before it. When subsequent intelligence indicated otherwise, talk of a plebiscite to ratify it ceased. Abdullah enjoyed genuine support in his domain, but how wide it was, or how deep, was not something Congress was prepared to bank on. Nor, it soon became clear, was Abdullah himself willing to put it to the test. No doubt acutely aware that Badshah Khan, with a much stronger popular base, had lost just such a referendum in the North-West Frontier Province, he rejected any idea of one. No elections were held until 1951, when voters were finally summoned to the polls for a Constituent Assembly. Less than 5 per cent of the nominal electorate cast a ballot, but otherwise the results could not have been improved in Paraguay or Bulgaria. The National Conference and its clients won all 75 seats – 73 of them without a contest. A year later Abdullah announced the end of the Dogra dynasty and an agreement with Nehru that reserved special rights for Kashmir and Jammu, limiting the powers of the centre, within the Indian Union. But no constitution emerged, and not even the maharajah’s son, regent since 1949, was removed, instead simply becoming head of state.

There is an increasing level of noise in Pakistan, that a 'Kashmir solution' was nearly finalized with India. Does this mean, that Pakistanis coming to terms with realities?  |  Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies.

There is an increasing level of noise in Pakistan, that a ‘Kashmir solution’ was nearly finalized with India. Does this mean, that Pakistanis coming to terms with realities? | Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies.

By now, however, Delhi was becoming uneasy about the regime it had set up in Srinagar. In power, Abdullah’s main achievement had been an agrarian reform putting to shame Congress’s record of inaction on the land. But its political condition of possibility was confessional: the expropriated landlords were Hindu, the peasants who benefited Muslim. The National Conference could proclaim itself secular, but its policies on the land and in government employment catered to the interests of its base, which had always been in Muslim-majority areas, above all the Valley of Kashmir. Jammu, which after ethnic cleansing by Dogra forces in 1947 now had a Hindu majority, was on the receiving end of Abdullah’s system, subjected to an unfamiliar repression. Enraged by this reversal, the newly founded Jana Sangh in India joined forces with the local Hindu party, the Praja Parishad, in a violent campaign against Abdullah, who was charged with heading not only a communal Muslim but a communist regime in Srinagar. In the summer of 1953, the Indian leader of this agitation, S.P. Mookerjee, was arrested crossing the border into Jammu, and promptly expired in a Kashmiri jail.

Pakistan's Faustian Deal with British-American clique has harmed Pakistan more than they have been able to harm Pakistan  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on February 15, 2011, in tribune.com.pk

Pakistan’s Faustian Deal with British-American clique has harmed Pakistan more than they have been able to benefit Pakistan | Cartoon by Zahoor on February 15, 2011, in tribune.com.pk

This was too much for Delhi. Mookerjee had, after all, been Nehru’s confederate in not dissimilar Hindu agitation to lock down the partition of Bengal, and was rewarded with a cabinet post. Although since then he had been an opponent of the Congress regime, he was still a member in reasonably good standing of the Indian political establishment. Abdullah, moreover, was now suspected of recidivist hankering for an independent Kashmir. The Intelligence Bureau had little difficulty convincing Nehru that he had become a liability, and overnight he was dismissed by the stripling heir to the Dogra throne he had so complacently made head of state, and thrown into an Indian jail on charges of sedition. His one-time friend behind bars, Nehru installed the next notable down in the National Conference, Bakshi Gulam Mohammed, in his place. Brutal and corrupt, Bakshi’s regime – widely known as BBC: the Bakshi Brothers Corporation – depended entirely on the Indian security apparatus. After ten years, in which his main achievement was to do away with any pretence that Kashmir was other than ‘an integral part of the Union of India’, Bakshi’s reputation had become a liability to Delhi, and he was summarily ousted in turn, to be replaced after a short interval by another National Conference puppet, this time a renegade communist, G.M. Sadiq, whose no less repressive regime proceeded to wind up the party altogether, dissolving it into Congress.

Abdullah, meanwhile, sat in an Indian prison for 12 years, eventually on charges of treason, with two brief intermissions in 1958 and 1964. During the second of these, he held talks with Nehru in Delhi and Ayub Khan in Rawalpindi, just before Nehru died, but was then rearrested for having had the temerity to meet Zhou Enlai in Algiers. A troubled Nehru had supposedly been willing to contemplate some loosening of the Indian grip on the Valley; much sentimentality has been expended on this lost opportunity for a better settlement in Kashmir, tragically frustrated by Nehru’s death. But the reality is that Nehru, having seized Kashmir by force in 1947, had rapidly discovered that Abdullah and his party were neither as popular nor as secular as he had imagined, and that he could hold his prey only by an indefinite military occupation with a façade of collaborators, each less satisfactory than the last. The ease with which the National Conference was manipulated to Indian ends, as Abdullah was discarded for Bakshi, and Bakshi for Sadiq, made it clear how relatively shallow an organisation it had, despite appearances, always been. By the end of his life, Nehru would have liked a more presentable fig-leaf for Indian rule, but that he had any intention of allowing free expression of the popular will in Kashmir can be excluded: he could never afford to do so. He had shown no compunction in incarcerating on trumped-up charges the ostensible embodiment of the ultimate legitimacy of Indian conquest of the region, and no hesitation in presiding over subcontracted tyrannies of whose nature he was well aware. When an anguished admirer from Jammu pleaded with him not to do so, he replied that the national interest was more important than democracy: ‘We have gambled on the international stage on Kashmir, and we cannot afford to lose. At the moment we are there at the point of a bayonet. Till things improve, democracy and morality can wait.’ Sixty years later the bayonets are still there, democracy nowhere in sight.

via Perry Anderson · After Nehru · LRB 2 August 2012.


The British Raj: Finally Afraid Of Beggars

September 16, 2012 3 comments

By 1945, British imperial leadership had taken on air of defeatism and resignation – going by cartoons and documents of the era..

British politicians 'protesting' against the 'dominance' of the Indian negotiators during the Independence negotiations. People depicted - Musso; (David Low's dog); Low; David (1891-1963); Pethick-Lawrence; Frederick William (1871-1961); Attlee; C. R. (Clement Richard) (1883-1967); Jinnah; Mahomed Ali (1876-1948); Gandhi; Mahatma (1869-1948)| Artist: David Low (1891-1963) Published: Evening Standard, 26 Sep 1945

British politicians ‘protesting’ against the ‘dominance’ of the Indian negotiators during the Independence negotiations. People depicted – Musso; (David Low’s dog); Low; David (1891-1963); Pethick-Lawrence; Frederick William (1871-1961); Attlee; C. R. (Clement Richard) (1883-1967); Jinnah; Mahomed Ali (1876-1948); Gandhi; Mahatma (1869-1948)| Artist: David Low (1891-1963) Published: Evening Standard, 26 Sep 1945

As Indian Independence struggle resonated across the world, the Raj found itself isolated. An embattled British Raj, saw ghosts under every bed – and an enemy in every Indian.

More than 5,000 documents and files dated from 1930 to 1991 have been declassified and made accessible as part of a public archive inaugurated last week at Raj Bhavan.

These documents include a treasure of historical oddities, such as a 1943 note from the general administration department to the governor’s secretary, outlining the menace of beggary and emphasising increased punishment for beggars.

“As soon as the beggar profession know that we mean business, it will melt away from Bombay,” the document states.

There are letters from an Indian Mauritian requesting some part of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi after his death, so that “the Indians of Mauritius may also pay their homage”.

via From the archives: Paranoia of beggars and much more – Hindustan Times.


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