Monday, December 25, 2006
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Monday, November 20, 2006
Our society still backward, Constitution modern: Katju
HT Correspondent Varanasi, November 19
“No doubt Article 15 (1) prohibits the state from discriminating against women, but it does not prohibit society from doing so, and in fact such discrimination is widespread beginning from the very birth of a child”, said Justice Katju while mentioning about sexual discrimination in Indian society. Justice Katju, who was delivering a lecture on ‘India and the Constitution’ in BHU here on Saturday, said: “Crime against women has increased lately, the courts are flooded with cases relating to dowry deaths, rape, domestic violence etc and all this shows that our society is still backward even though the Constitution is modern.”
“It may be mentioned that I.Q. tests in modern psychology have shown that the I.Q. of an average woman is the same as that of an average man”, he said adding, “If equal opportunity is given, a woman can perform as well as a man can e.g. Madame Curie who was the first person in the world who won two Nobel Prizes-one for physics and another for chemistry, Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great who were great statesmen etc.”
“The stories and novels of great Bengali writer Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay clearly bring out the great oppression which the Indian women were subjected to in our country.
Hence, it is not due to any inherent inferiority but only due to the fact that women were not given education and other opportunities that they could not come up to the level of men”, he said.
“No doubt, by a mere declaration of equality as a Constitutional right discrimination and inequality can not immediately be abolished, but it can certainly set forth an ideal which all patriotic and modern minded nations should strive for”, he observed.
“The great right in Part-III of our Constitution (i.e. the fundamental rights) would be meaningless unless it has a socio-economic content. The right in Part-III becomes only formal empty right unless people are guaranteed certain socio-economic rights e.g. right to employment, right to education, right to housing and medical care etc”, he said.
“A hungry man has no use of the right to freedom, of speech and expression. Similarly, an unemployed man has no use for the right to liberty. Hence, our Founding Father borrowed from the Irish Constitution, the Directive Principles and incorporated them in Part 4th of the Constitution”, said Justice Katju.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Is Auroville fashion taking on a new dimension? Clothing in Auroville used to be a matter of covering and cooling, but in these more prosperous times, with space for wardrobes, ironing boards, and maybe even a washing machine, clothes are taking on a new dimension. For the ladies, anyway.
Cross-cultural dressing is in; in the snap of a finger, women can transform themselves for a trip to the Ashram in the discreet layers of a Punjabi salwar kameez and dupatta and then go back to the Californian look with jeans and tees, or better still, shorts and an itsy-bitsy top for tea at New Creation Corner.
The layered look is particularly popular with the older woman, but all that coordinating of bits and pieces of fabric can become quite time consuming. The hazardous bike trip to Pondy needs to be faced with large hats for the sun, goggles for dust, and scarves streaming behind that can double up to wipe sweat from the brow – then one is hardly recognisable.
This constant presence of dust and sweat leaves its mark on the clothes, and demands an almost military regime of laundering, that is, if you've set yourself some standards; if not, all the better. Laundry here is an organic process that is often not about getting things cleaner.
T-shirts and shorts gradually merge into a muddy coloured harmony; white undies turn into a sort of reddish grey. Clothes that would serve you for two years in Europe are exhausted in a season, especially if they are pounded by the amah. A washing machine is definitely gentler, but the process can last a whole day if the power goes on and off.
All is compensated for, however, by that fresh smell of sun-dried clothes and the constant miracle of its drying speed, except during the monsoons, of course. Then it's rush out when the rain stops to hang up the washing, and rush out again ten minutes later to rescue it from a downpour. Later, in full monsoon season, the laundry just sits around the house for days developing a wierd smell.
Monsoon time is also time for a wardrobe change with the magnificent billowing raincoats enveloping rider, bike and rucksack in strange shapes. Some speed by, reminiscent of those dashing couriers in war movies. Others, in the neon rainbow shades of Indian raincoats, ride by on bicycles, precariously balancing large black umbrellas. Peaked caps and goggles keep the rain out of eyes and, nowadays, even the occasional Wellington boots can be spotted.
Talking about footwear, wearing pretty sandals in India always seems pointless as you take them off when you get to your destination, that is, if you haven't broken your left one while kick-starting your motorbike. But unlike chappals (flip flops), they rarely disappear from the footwear piles lying outside the Solar Kitchen; only they look so vulnerable lying there.
Accessories are minimal here, despite the tempting wares of the Kashmiri shops in Kuilapalayam. Silver oxidizes too easily with the humidity and leather belts grow a grey fuzz and patches of mould and even your favourite outfits soon sport nibbled holes.
Thankfully, things are easily and cheerfully replaced at the Free Store in Bharat Nivas. It is Auroville's fashion centre with a constantly changing range of styles, sizes and shapes. Carefully arranged rows of white trousers or little tops invite you to transform your tired self. In a few months you can return them all with a blessing for their next owner.
It is the young tourists who brings a dash of chic with their chunky silver jewellery, voluminous Rajasthani skirts and skimpy tops. But the sudden exposure of white, pink or red sunburnt flesh can shock the eye that has become used to a certain decorous modesty, and respect for the erogenous zones of another culture. But all's not perfect; sometimes their hair reminds you of those long Indian train journeys when dust and sweat have congealed it into a sort of mat.
The fashion scene on the beach is another matter. It can get bizarre with tourists in their g-strings besides the Indian women in flowing saris. A big contrast to the New Creation swimming pool, where modesty and efficiency are the rule of the day, plus those compulsory unisex plastic swim caps that makes every Aurovilian look like an athlete.
But the beautiful Tamil women seem to have none of these dilemmas. They don't have the confusion of labels, the endless selection of styles, or the constant search for miracle fabrics. They have found their style in their sari and they stick with it, always looking fresh, elegant and colourful, and somehow, perfectly right. They are definitely the lucky ones! Home > Journals & Media > Journals > Auroville Today > October 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
As sodas popped and the whisky poured (aptly called, Teacher’s Scotch) Prasad led his guests - a motley mix of Dalit poets, singers, academia, a sprinkling of the international media, social scientists Ashish Nandy, Gail Omvedt - to the centrepiece of the party’s action. The unveiling of a portrait, English, the Mother Goddess, painted by Dalit artist Shant Swaroop Baudh.
Said Bhan, “Today, English-speaking Dalits and Adivasis are less disrespected, therefore, empowered by Goddess English, Dalits can take their place in the new globalised world.’’ Bhan has three reasons for revering Macaulay - his insistence to teach the “natives” English broke the stranglehold of Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic teaching, a privilege of only the elite castes and, he argued,for the European kind of modern education, with focus on modern sciences. “Imagine, if we had only followed indigenous study,’’ said Bhan, “we would be like Afghanistan or Nepal today.’’ “I certainly do not agree with some of Bhan’s thesis,’’ said an aghast Nandy, “but I certainly support every oppressed community or individual’s right to pick up any weapon, be it political, academic or intellectual incorrectness, to fight the establishment. It’s the sheer audacity of it that makes it so forceful.’’
Dalit poet Parak sang a couplet to the portrait - a refashioned Statue of Liberty, wearing a hippie hat, holding a massive pink pen, standing on a computer, with a blazing map of India in the background - Oh, Devi Ma/ Please Let us Learn English/ Even the dogs understand English, to cheers and laughter, even as Lord Macaulay’s portrait, looking the perfect English buccaneer, gazed below. Bhan then declared his new intention - the painting will be printed on calendars and distributed at all Dalit conclaves and community meetings. “Hereafter, the first sounds all newborn Dalit and Adivasi babies will hear from their parents is - abcd. Immediately after birth, parents or a nearest relative will walk up to the child and whisper in the ear - abcd,’’ he said mirthfully.
“I welcome the fact that English gives access to the world,’’ said Omvedt, “but remember, some of the best English has come from oppressed quarters, like the Blacks in America. Their language, known as rap, their music, poetry, literature, has a dynamism. It’s important to reclaim your regional languages from Brahminism and Sanskritisation,’’ she says. It set the theme for other speakers, and as heaving plates of chicken drumsticks and gobi pakoras were passed around.
“Dalits must no longer see themselves as oppressed and repressed,’’ said Nandy, waving his glass of whisky, “they have their own traditions and knowledge systems which must be preserved. There’s a very powerful tradition of history, music, life, which the younger generation must be proud of.’’ Bhan nodded agreeably - he had certainly hosted an evening of Dalit empowerment and pride. There was no hard luck story here. email@example.com
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Addressing the press, she said that although Kanshi Ram did not convert to Buddhism, he was Buddhist by belief. It was exactly 50 years ago, on October 14, 1956, that Babasaheb Ambedkar converted to Buddhism. "It was Manyavar's dream to see the BSP in power at the Centre, and in the States, before the 50th anniversary of Babasaheb's conversion. Unfortunately, that did not happen," she said.
What was the connection between political power and religious conversion? The BSP chief said power was essential to spread any faith. "It is not about me becoming a Buddhist. I could do it today but it would be just me. We have to spread the faith for which absolute majority at the Centre is a pre-requisite."
Ms. Mayawati said she lit the funeral pyre of Kanshi Ram because both she and her mentor strongly believed in gender equality. "It was his view, and also mine, [that] boys and girls are equal in all respects. If a girl can discharge other responsibilities, there is no reason why she cannot perform the last rites of her near and dear. I believe that my gesture is an example for other women; by lighting the funeral pyre of my guru I have laid the foundation of future social transformation."
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
A straw man argument is a rhetorical technique based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw-man argument" is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact misleading, since the argument actually presented by the opponent has not been refuted.
Its name is derived from the use of straw men in combat training (see ). It is occasionally called a straw dog fallacy  or a scarecrow argument.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
Sudhir Kakar, in his novel Ecstasy, poses a question similar to Nagel's: "What is it like to be a mystic"? Placing a figure modelled on Ramakrishna Paramhansa in 20th Century Rajasthan, Kakar attempts to track his spiritual development in the hope of bagging that rarest of subjective states: mystical experience. Growing up near Jaipur in the 1930s, Gopal finds that he does not fit in. For one thing he is, literally, hermaphroditic; for another he is subject to unusual inner states. A passing tantric, aware of his spiritual aptitude, initiates him into kundalini yoga. The result is an almost catatonic state, from which he is rescued by a Ramanandi mahant, who shows him the way of bhakti. Further initiations follow, until Gopal, now Baba Ram Das, becomes a celebrated mystic around whom gathers a handful of followers. Chief among these is Vivek, a student at the local college, who is modelled, needless to say, on Swami Vivekananda. Baba Ram Das has high hopes for his protege but, after his death, Vivek becomes not an inspiring prophet but (conditions having deteriorated over the last century) a purveyor of political Hinduism.
Anyone familiar with the biographies of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda will find much that is familiar in Kakar's story: the passages of a mystic's development, with near-insanity followed by ecstasy; the moods of divine love; the mastery of the kundalini; the lonely realisation of Self. We are even treated to some of the master's parables as well as the occasional sermon. What holds the narrative together is Kakar's sympathetic descriptions of religious life - the set piece on a temple that specialises in exorcism is a classic - and his ironic descriptions of middle-class family dynamics. In these, Kakar, the social scientist, nudges aside Kakar, the novelist; but his social science has always been a good read. His prose is clear and evocative, and he cannot be blamed for stinting on his research. It is interesting to see how much this neo-Freudian psychotherapist knows about the bhavas of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. More important, Kakar has an openness to religious phenomena that most psychotherapists would be afraid to display. In The Analyst and the Mystic, he showed us that he was willing to take the experiences of a Ramakrishna seriously, without reducing them all to Freud's neurotic "oceanic feeling". In Ecstasy he looks at them more as states to be embodied than data to be analysed.
Openness and observation are necessary for good social science, and even more necessary for good fiction. But for fully successful fiction, two other things are needed: a sensitive ear and a mastery of voice. Kakar's descriptions are as good as any in Indian English fiction, but his dialogue is rarely convincing. The problem is one that few Indian novelists have solved: how to capture the rhythms of idiomatic Hindi (or whatever) in the different cadences of English? Even more difficult is the creation of narrators and characters whose voices are not contorted by the strain of speaking about Indian things to a Anglophone audience. Kakar at times adopts what might be called the Puranic voice informing us, deadpan, that the only inconvenience a sadhu experienced in a certain place was the need to fly to the Ganga for his bath. This is the natural mode of Indian storytelling from the Ramayana to Rushdie and when Kakar makes use of it, his voice is sure. But too often his narrator butts in with unnecessary details about the socio-economic organisation of a Rajasthani village or the location of St. Stephen's College. Believable narrators and characters must never tell us anything that would not occur to them to say.
The Puranic voice is most necessary when describing happenings beyond the ordinary, like the exploits of a Hanuman or the experiences of a Baba Ram Das. Kakar's attempts to capture his hero's inner life are often remarkably good; but finally we come back to what Nagel said about bats. Just as we will never know what it is like to be a bat from a bat's point of view, so we will never know what it is like to be a mystic - unless we become one.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Monday, July 31, 2006
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Friday, July 28, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Thursday, July 13, 2006
It is almost impossible for us to imagine the barbarity of the ancient world--very similar to how contemporary liberals find it impossible to comprehend the evil savagery of the Islamists with whom we are in a mortal struggle. As we mentioned yesterday, in all other ancient lands, the abuse of women and children, including infanticide, was common. Breiner notes, for example, that On, the King of the Swedes, sacrificed nine of his ten sons in the belief that it would prolong his life. Think about it. It was if the entire ancient world consisted of Palestinians who think that murdering children will lead to their own salvation...
In any event, the story of Abraham and Isaac allows us to assume that, up to that time, the ancient Hebrews were just as barbaric as any other ancient people. This biblical story preserves one of the truly shocking and unexpected “right turns” in human history--when something caused us to empathize with the sacrificial victim and lay down the knife. Not that it wasn’t a struggle afterwards. The Bible chronicles many instances of backsliding and regression, which gives it even more of a ring of authenticity. The struggle against absuing children was (and is) very real. But the benefits were obvious. For the first time in history, Jews were also able to intuit the one God. Not only that, but he was a loving God. Other primitive peoples lived in the psychological fragmentation of polytheism.
In my opinion, they did not know God because they could not know God. Early childhood trauma leads to what is called “borderline personality structure,” in which the mind is subject to vertical splitting and the inability to maintain psychological unity and coherence. Therefore, primitive polytheism was actually an indirect measure of child abuse. Note as well that the gods of ancient Greece and Rome were arbitrary, selfish, and narcissistic, and even got a kick out of lording it over the “little” humans. They were suspiciously simlar to abusive and uncaring parents. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Hebrews began viewing themselves as having an intimate relationship with a benevolent God who took a deep and abiding interest in them, instead of having to live in fear of a multitude of arbitrary and self-absorbed gods...
Breiner speculates that this prevailing attitude--“to take care of and love one’s wife so that she will care for and love one's children”--was “fundamental in determining why ancient child abuse and infanticide were rare among the ancient Hebrews.” The Talmud stated that those who practiced pederasty were subject to stoning. In ancient Greece, pedophiles were subject to being lionized as immortal philosophers. One of the most striking differences was in the attitude toward female children, which is one of the hinges of psychohistorical evolution. Unlike other ancient peoples, the Jews began cherishing and protecting female children. Many laws that we might now look upon as chauvinistic were, as reader Yesterday pointed out tomorrow--I mean Tamara pointed out yesterday--very advanced and innovative for their day. They were meant to protect women and girls, not to degrade them...
Again, it is easy to be historo-centric and view ancient Hebrews as barbaric by our standards, but the punishment meted out in Hebrew courts of law was lenient and humane by the standards of the day. So too their treatment of slaves, of captured enemies, of the poor, the oppressed, the widow, the stranger. They were the first people to achieve nearly 100% literacy, a development which had staggering implications for the way children were raised. posted by Gagdad Bob at 8:23 AM 14 comments Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin is an extreme seeker and off-road spiritual aspirant One Cosmos
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Saturday, July 08, 2006
- What did we do wrong? is the typical phrase that the right-wing politician asks himself; if a policy in place is not working, he prefers to throw it out and try something else - or at least ATTEMPT to throw it out. There must be a mistake somewhere in the policy itself - and that can be fixed, taking into account the imperfection of the citizens to whom the policy applies.
- Leftist politicians ask Who did this to us? The failure of a policy is never their fault; they assume that it was sabotaged by their political opponents, or by the failure of society to live up to its full potential. Their response to a failed policy is to try it again, and yet again, until somebody somehow gets it right. The policy is perfect; it's other people that are the only real problem. 10:05 AM