Caste and Caste-discrimination in India


The word ‘Caste’ evokes immediate mental impression of the ‘discriminatory treatment’ of certain people based on their castes, a social practice that has been prevalent in India for thousands of years. It is particularly so with the Western people, who are not much aware of the ancient history of India wherein lie the original roots and rationale of this socially acceptable behavior. We are not concerned here with those who find in this discriminatory social behavior a suitable political opportunity to exploit the situation.  Discrimination on the basis of caste is prohibited by the Indian Constitution and many legal provisions have been made therein to undo the injustice that has been inflicted on certain people as a ‘class by Caste’ in the past. This subject is very relevant to modern India and it is always advantageous to learn more on this subject. Here we are giving a dialog on this subject between Sri Rajiv Malhotra, a well-known Indologist, and Prof. R. Vaidyanathan, a well-known academician.

Rajiv : I wanted to start by asking you about the Jati system. A very controversial topic, the moment you say Jati, people immediately jump on you and say oppression, ‘it’s very bad’, ‘Hindus are to be blamed’. Then Hindus get defensive and say no! But you have a very different view. You are saying that actually Jati structure is very good for the economy and it is not oppressive, it is actually protecting people. So can you elaborate on that?

Prof Vaidya: You brought up this interesting issue of the Jati system. I’ve always maintained two or three important things in this.

First thing is, when we talk about Jati, it doesn’t mean we talk about Caste discrimination. These two are totally different things. People immediately jump and then, second is I think you’ve been writing also, you know quite well that this whole idea of Caste is taken from Portuguese language, prior to this we were not having it. It was not hierarchical, it was made hierarchical with the British in order to suit their own idea of how Bharat should be viewed, because they have this in the Government service in Britain, the A, B, C, D classification, so which is one. If I recall correctly, in 1881, the first to Census, brought in this whole idea of Caste enumeration and hierarchically bringing it. If my numbers are right, some 1300 and odd castes were listed at that time. In 1881, first Census of Bharat, prior to this there was no regular census.

Rajiv: But Jati was different.

Prof Vaidya: But they…

Rajiv: …they turned into castes. So how is Jati economics?

Prof Vaidya: So that’s what they did and you know that is very interesting, In 1881 census, there were quite a number, nearly 100 plus were one-member castes. Only one member claimed under. And then they decided, based upon their own idea, how to make it hierarchical. Till then there was no idea of hierarchical because there is a huge churning that is always taking place. What we consider today as so called lower-groupings in the communities, they came in the higher-grouping in the communities and vice versa. If you for instance, talk to lower-grouping, they will never recognize themselves as lower-castes. They will say we were Kings.

Rajiv: But still I am trying to get what is the economic purpose of the Jati?

Prof Vaidya: Actually what has happened is, we have an uncanny ability to deride anything on which we can leverage. If you look at it, I use the word caste itself, significant amount of economic progress in various clusters, there are some 870-900 defined clusters of economic activity in the country. Not Bombay, Delhi type of thing, there is Tirupur, there is Sivkashi, there is Morbi, there is Punjab. So like that various places. All of these clusters have thriving economic activity,are boom centres and almost all of them are caste based structures.

Rajiv: Not the upper castes?

Prof Vaidya: No! Not at all.

Rajiv: Okay! That’s important.

Prof Vaidya: Including the schedule castes. I have seen in Agra and other places. It facilitates in several ways. One is, risk mitigation for instance.

Rajiv: Ok, so now we have started the real point. First benefit of caste is risk mitigation.

Prof Vaidya: If suppose somebody fails, other don’t look down upon him as a failure or anything. They go and help him.

Rajiv: Do they support each other?

Prof Vaidya: Yes. They support each other.

Rajiv: So it is an economic club.

Prof Vaidya: Yes. Credit is made available without much security or paperwork because they know that there is a caste pressure on him to repay. It’s more a question of honour, not rule. It is more relationship based. We are a relationship based society, not rule based society. Relationship based society has got ideas of concern about fear of God, more than fear of love. The urban people in Bharat, the middle class and merchant banking groups, they don’t have a fear of God.

Rajiv: So is it like a chamber of commerce?

Prof Vaidya: Sort of. You can call it.

Rajiv: There is a chamber of commerce of people who are in one industry or another industry.

Prof Vaidya: Yeah, I accept this chamber of commerce what we loosely call, ‘suited-booted-tied’ people. These people don’t have any of those type of things. They are mostly dhoti-clad, pan chewing and they do not even speak English.

Rajiv: But what is the secret to that they say we’ll be a club, we are all fisherman or we are all growing the same thing, we are not competing against each other, so what is the secret to cooperation not competition.

Prof Vaidya: Secret to cooperation is because their view of the world in terms of business is, the opportunities are so large. So there’s no need for cut throat competition. The other thing is also very interesting, that is an opportunity to take over the activities of another caste person from the same location in Tirupur. I was talking to him why he did not grab it? He said no sir, that is not normally done.

Rajiv: So they will not do hostile takeover? They will not try to wipe out the competitor.

Prof Vaidya: No. He says it’s not required.

Rajiv: It’s not within the honour?

Prof Vaidya: It’s not within the honour. It’s much larger opportunities and other thing is they don’t operate on ‘greed is good’. No! They don’t operate on that. They accumulate wealth and then they share it. Very important. Many of them have told me, the greatest of characters in Mahabharata is Karna. Not Arjuna, not Krishna. For the simple reason, he shared. So, that is what we should do. Our life is short. I think we have to understand this whole groups’ approach toward the business and activity is totally different.

So, risk mitigation, credit, market access – these are the benefits of Jati.  

This system also encourages youngsters. For instance, the Patels who started the Motels in the western coast of US. Practically, they have captured the entire motel business. They have encouraged large number of people of their own community.

Rajiv: Yeah. If you are a Patel, they’ll set you up. They’ll get you a motel. You are in business.

Prof: Correct. Or you go to this Antwerp, a small group of people, Jains actually, they are called Malankar Jains, they are a very small group but they have captured the diamond business in Antwerp. When I was visiting Brussels, some hotel had this Jain food counters. So I was puzzled. Why Jain food? Vegetarian food is okay but Jain food. Since the customer base is like that. To an extent, Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting article because the Jews had 70 percent of the diamond business in around 1970’s-1980’s. Today, these people (Jains) have 75 percent of the business. So, Wall Street Journal wrote a very interesting article, first time, the Jews have been defeated without violence. That’s the most important part of the story. Again they have operated as a very small cluster or a group. Very important is, Caste is a good cluster to leverage on it.

(Note: This article was originally published HERE)

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Paneer Pakoda in MacDonald and Tilak in Church – A Matter of Strategy!


By: Rajiv Malhotra

I want to respond to a common confusion about the kind of difference we need to assert in order to protect ourselves. A difference that the other religion can adopt is not sustainable and can easily become a part of the other faith as well.

For example: Removing shoes to enter a temple, wearing tilak, eating with one’s hands without silverware, eating on a banana leaf, wearing saffron clothes, giving prasad, etc. – each of these has become common practice in Christian churches in south India. None of these differences causes any violation in the core tenets of Christianity. They see these practices as mere “culture” that can be accepted by them without any problem.

The church developed the doctrine and practice called “inculturation” precisely to encourage its followers to adopt local cultures, symbols, even festivals, etc. in order to “localize Christianity”.

This is no different than MacDonald’s adopting Paneer Burger for menus in India and Chow Mein for China. It is a very common globalization strategy to adapt products for local markets. The church gave this the name “inculturation” and experimented it for generations in Africa, Latin America before introducing systematically in India. Each adapted product is market tested, feedback given from field operations to headquarters, policies updated, new versions developed, etc. This process is ongoing very studiously.

This is why Western Indologists like to separate religion and culture, so they can reject the former and digest the latter.

What are the Hindu dharma items that the Christian host cannot digest because these items would violate core Christian tenets? These are the kinds of things explained in Being Different. If such a tenet were absorbed by the Christian side, they would need to distort it in order to make it fit their framework and assumptions. Here the Hindu side must forcefully resist letting such distortions take place – for which we need well-informed and assertive Hindus.

What would happen if Christians were to ingest such non-digestible items in their authentic form (i.e. without being able to distort them)? The result would be what I have called the poison pills.

Below is a post I received that I now want to respond to. I have removed references to a

specific guru because that leads to personal fights for/against, which is silly, because what we want to do is to discuss the principles and learn.

The discussion thread was about examples of digestion; a guru’s position on yoga came up in this context. A follower of his defended him by writing the following:

As a counter example, I can say I first learnt one of the main essences of “Being Different” from XYZ’s talks, long before Rajiv’s book “Being Different” was published. Like for example his talk on uniqueness of Hindu Temples, as he says here “Nowhere else in the world, such wisdom exists”, or his talk on how Indian Temples are totally different from places of worship of other religions like Churches or Mosques.’

Note that he is unconscious of the distinction between digestible and non-digestible differences. Merely praising Hinduism is useless if the issue is to explain what/why certain differences are non-negotiable for us and at the same unacceptable to the other side. The question is not how Hindu temples are superior/unique. But in what ways do they have features that are impossible for Christians to adopt and adapt? Clearly the person who wrote the above is not focusing on this, and it remains unclear whether his guru is sufficiently focusing on teaching non-digestible differences. Difference can be at many levels.

What I am requiring is impossible to do without reversing the gaze and first studying the other religion. How can you be sure that Hindu item X is non-digestible into a certain religion, and that it will act as a poison pill, if you have only a superficial idea of that religion?

This is the crux of the matter. Teachers who are mixed up about the other religion, perhaps partly because they want to be politically correct with them, simply lack the depth of knowledge about the other religion to be able to formulate Hindu dharma in non-digestible terms. They can go on praising Hinduism, but that does not address the issue of digestion.

Fighting Western Hinduphobia


By: Koenraad Elst

Rajiv Malhotra is the belated Hindu answer to decades of the systematic blackening of Hinduism in academe and the media. This is to be distinguished from the negative attitude to Hinduism among ignorant Westerners settling for the “caste, cows and curry” stereotype, and from the anti-Hindu bias among secularists in India. Against the latter phenomenon, Hindu polemicists have long been up in arms, eventhough they have also been put at a disadvantage by the monopoly of their enemies in the opinion-making sphere. But for challenging the American India-watching establishment, a combination of skills was necessary which Malhotra has only gradually developed and which few others can equal.

 

In the present book, Academic Hinduphobia (Voice of India, Delhi 2016, 426 pp.), he documents some of his past battles against Hinduphobia  in academe, i.e. the ideological enmity against Hinduism. We leave undecided for now whether that anti-Hindu attitude stems from fear towards an intrinsically better competitor (as many Hindus flatter themselves to think), from contempt for the substandard performance of those Hindus they have met in polemical forums, or from hatred against phenomena in their own past which they now think to recognize in Hinduism (“racism = untouchability”, “feudal inborn inequality = caste”).

 

In this war, American academe is linked with foreign policy interests and the Christian missionary apparatus, and they reinforce one another. Hindus have a formidable enemy in front of them, more wily and resourceful than they have ever experienced before. That is why a new knowledge of the specific laws of this particular battlefield is called for.

(Borrowed with permission from HERE)

In ‘War of cultures’ the unique place of Rajiv Malhotra


By: Vedic Desi

Curry smells, eating with hands, not using toilet paper, squat toilets, public defecation, pollution, caste system, accent, 33 million gods, driving in India, Paan spitting, vegetarianism, reincarnation, British gave you everything, and other clichés.

Astonishing! When people hear about India this is all they will get to know. As if somebody carefully trains them. Although there are many facts on India readily available thanks to the development in couple of years, the “Third World” image is carefully crafted and nutured.

There is another set of people who are totally in love with India. They love yoga, and they want this “SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE” from India. In between the spectrum there are the people, who are still formulating an image about what is India. These form the think tanks, universities who know the reality on ground and know how to spin it, wherever and whenever needed.

At some point, if you feel you need to correct these stereotypes and get a true picture, you need to understand who you are in the first place to present yourself and the facts. Sadly most Indians neither have the depth of knowledge nor interest to explain about themselves. History is distorted. Media is biased. Cultural festivals have ended up being all about Bollywood song and dance.

It is Rajiv Malhotra who brought it all together. Nobody has integrated the current geopolitics and its effects on India as done by Rajiv. He authored Breaking India, which is a seminal book that explains the role of US and European churches, academics, think-tanks, foundations, government and human rights groups in fostering separation of the identities of Dravidian and Dalit communities from the rest of India.The research tracked the money trails that start out claiming to be for education, human rights, empowerment training, leadership training, but end up in programs designed to produce angry youths who feel disjointed with their Indian identity. More importantly everyone should think about what it takes to put this together. When the problem is explained in such clarity, 50% of it is solved.

Rajiv Malhotra ji is unique because the integrated understanding his works provide is unparalleled. Dr. Subhash Kak’s work is creditable when it comes to Myths of Aryan Invasion and others for other specialties in Indology. But to understand the full spectrum of Indology, you have to come to Rajiv Malhotra.

On why the West works on specialization? 

Simple, America has a goal of global dominance. If the traditional scholars and their pawns understand the foreign policy of US, they would just be glad that someone like Rajiv exists and would put their force behind him to save our Sanskriti.

Not just study of religions regions and languages, do look up, US has an expert on almost everything imaginable on earth. Experts on Science, geopolitics, Religion, regions, languages, cultures, sports, Mathematics, Space, etc list goes on and on. Recently there was an alarm in the US on dwindling Russian experts and this was seen as responsible for hampering the policy decisions.

In US Universities, at the top-level the research direction is determined by National Science Foundation and the topics are split into small sections for research by different universities. This may be seen as a mundane practice by the uninitiated, but it is effective to obtain mastery. Do our traditional scholars know this?

It is the US which is the only country in the world that can print currency continually to fund its needs. As a supplement of the global dominance agenda, there is the goal of some to have Pan Christian world. If you want to dominate the world, you need to understand it thoroughly, only then you can control it. So where are the traditionalist doing the Purva Paksha to understand the US?

Rajiv in his new book – The Battle for Sanskrit has laid open all his years of work and encourages the traditionalists to know the battlefield and join in to save Sanskriti.

In such a complicated situation, if someone like Rajiv is offering a way to fight back, why are traditionalists attacking him? This whole outcry about not crediting previous Indologists is just comical. It is Rajiv Malhotra’s humble attempt and request that others have to take it forward. What more do the critics want? The attacks on Rajiv are unwarranted. All Dharmic minds need to help stop these illogical attacks by traditionalists and start contributing to save our Sanskriti.

In my personal view, an even bigger aim of Swadeshi Indology, as Rajiv Malhotra suggests we work on (not Indology, which is a western view) is to help in spiritual advancement.

In a world, where Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatham are totally distorted, imagine what lies ahead for the future generations to tackle and develop faith and understanding of Dharma. Today it’s Sheldon Pollock, tomorrow someone else, but the battle has to be fought with a unified front. And the battlefield is best studied and explained by Rajiv Malhotra. Let’s stay on the path of Dharma, let’s unite to support and contribute to The Battle for Sanskrit.

This article is borrowed from this site:

http://www.jagritbharat.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1220

India can, and should, emerge as ‘knowledge producing’ international hub of education


By: Rajiv Malhotra

Indians were once upon a time (during the days of Nalanda, Taxashila and other world-class universities) the preeminent producers and exporters of knowledge, ideas and values to the rest of Asia. Now we are consumers of what the Western institutions teach us. We are stuck in a system of dependency so serious that our elites feel they must get certified by the West in order to be credible back home in India.

But I will explain that a window of opportunity has opened up and we cannot afford to miss this chance to take back our leadership role as knowledge producer and exporter. This window is due to the disruptions caused by the internet.

One of the latest trends in US universities is the growing role of foreigners, including Indians, in the affairs of these universities. First this role was only in the form of foreign students bringing in billions of dollars. Many US academic institutions are financially dependent on foreign students because they cannot meet their expenses through domestic student tuitions alone. An effect of this has been that a large number of Indian elites (both in USA and those returning to India) have been influenced by American values and principles, both good and bad. From the US side, this is not only a great source of tuition fees but also a way to spread its intellectual influence.

A more recent trend is for wealthy Indians to invest in US universities for personal brand building. (See an interesting article, titled, ‘Harvard is a hedge fund with a university attached.’) This is shortsighted and dangerous. Indians are giving grants and endowments to US universities without adequately evaluating the subject matter being produced by the scholars. It’s about wealthy Indians seeking a seat at the high table of prestige in American society. They see their family name on a building or attached to an academic chair as their next step in climbing the social ladder. Few donors get sufficiently involved in the details of the subject matter and the impact that is being created by their donation.

A major contrast between India and China in this regard is that China retains strict control over the disciplines pertaining to its civilization, values, domestic politics and culture. They readily buy (or use unscrupulous means to acquire) Western science, technology and business knowhow. But they do not want to brainwash their youth with Western prejudices in areas of the humanities that are considered sensitive to the interest of national unity and security. India has not been able to appreciate this strategic point even now.

Against this backdrop, I want to explain how some tectonic trends that are taking place in US higher education are rapidly making brick and mortar university campuses obsolete. I wish to advise those giving donations to US academic institutions to step back and rethink their strategies with future trends in mind. Most donations being given are wasteful because they fund obsolete models at a time when they should be funding the incubation of new models.

The single most important trend that is revolutionizing education is information technology, especially the internet. Teaching platforms like the Khan Academy are the wave of the future, not the physical classroom in a brick and mortar building. The old-fashioned teacher is being squeezed out along with the physical classroom. The total cost of higher education in the US is estimated to exceed $500 billion annually, using old delivery models. Many administrators in major universities are worried that their institutions are becoming like the dinosaurs. A disruption is long overdue and we should see this as an opportunity for creative entrepreneurship. This may be seen as a part of the wider trend in dis-intermediation (bypassing of the middleman) taking place in various industries.

The new cloud-based teaching methods are rapidly threatening the old school systems in many ways, such as the following:

Huge campuses are becoming obsolete. In the future, the buildings required will be mostly those with laboratories and high-tech infrastructure that cannot become virtual. The ordinary classroom will become almost extinct.

Old teaching materials are already obsolete. The teacher’s class notes that were once written on the board or handed out in class are now a waste of time because all that is readily available online. With video conferencing, considerable interaction is also available without physical meetings.

This trend will lower tuitions significantly because it is not necessary to hire full-time faculty.

 This also changes the demand side of university professors and impacts the future of academicians as a profession. Many subject matter experts who are not formally classified as professors will be teaching part-time and sharing their knowledge and practical experience. The old style professor with limited real world experience will be replaced by learned persons who will also bring their lived experience to teach.

All this means an end to the ivory tower academic snobbery of the past, in which there was great prestige associated with being a professor disconnected from mundane life. Now the floodgates are opening for teaching that is brought by knowledgeable individuals who are embedded within communities and who also speak as voices of the community.

Higher education will be a lifelong pursuit and not limited to a few years of college/university. Most workers will take online courses as a regular part of staying current with the trends in their field. Education will be seen as something you do all your life and for which you do not need necessarily to take several years off.

While the above list of changes pertains to the teaching side of higher education, there are equally revolutionary changes expected in the research side, especially in the humanities. Let us discuss religious studies in the US academy, as an example.

Twenty-five years ago, when I first started monitoring and intervening in the American academic research on Hinduism, the academic fortress was a formidable center of power. To make any impact, it was crucial to get inside the system one way or another. But today, an increasing amount of high quality scholarly works are being published by scholars and practitioners outside the walls of the academic fortress. Many guru movements have their own writings and publishing houses. The new works produced by Hindu movements are not only about standard topics like Bhagavad Gita, but also pertain to issues of society, politics, family, health, etc. Many other groups started by civic society now nurture non-academic research and publishing. These new suppliers are seen as threats to the turf traditionally controlled by the academicians. The academic empire is fighting back, but it is a losing battle. (I am an example of someone seen as a threat to the officially credentialed producers of knowledge about my culture.)

The number of readers who receive their knowledge about religion from sources outside the academy far exceeds the number who are sitting in class to learn from their professor. The American academicians refused to accept this trend during the past two decades when I tried to explain it to them. They were too arrogant to be open to this new reality. The pride of being the exclusive source of knowledge had been instilled in them during their PhD, and was seen as their ticket to success that could never be taken away. This attitude of the senior professors has misguided the new generation of academicians, and made the academic system insular and vulnerable.

Today, most people get their knowledge about religions (their own and those of others) through television, online sources, personal travels to sacred and holy sites, teachings from their gurus and swamis, and reading materials published by non-academic writers. If someone wants to invest in spreading particular ideas about our traditions, the investment is better spent on such platforms and not on feeding the old system which is rapidly becoming obsolete. Instead, they should rethink the dynamics of this intellectual kurukshetra of civilizational discourse. Only then can they develop a more viable strategy for interventions.

Indians have in the past bought used technologies and obsolete models in certain industries, at a time when the Western countries exporting these were migrating to new paradigms. I feel many of us are being fooled into investing in what will become obsolete models of higher education.

Instead of funding American higher education’s pre-internet era system, India should develop the next generation platforms. And India should not be content with a back-office role in this emerging industry, but should develop and own the brands seen by the end users (i.e. the students). Besides developing the platforms and delivery systems, Indians should also lead in content development and educational methodology, especially in areas where traditional Indian systems would give us a competitive advantage.

‘Breaking India’ project – Western strategy and Indian couter-strategy


By: Rajiv Malhotra

1. DRAVIDIAN IDENTITY CONSTRUCTED, EXPLOITED & POLITICIZED:

The fabrication of South Indian history is being carried out on an immense scale with the explicit goal of constructing a Dravidian identity that is distinct from that of the rest of India. From the 1830s onwards, this endeavor’s key milestones have claimed that south India: is linguistically separate from the rest of India; has an un-Indian culture, aesthetics and literature; has a history disconnected from India’s; is racially distinct; is religiously distinct; and, consequently, is a separate nation.

Tamil classical literature that predates the 19th century reveals no such identity conflicts especially with “alien” peoples of the north, nor does it reveal any sense of victimhood or any view of Westerners or Christians as “liberators.”

This identity engineering was begun by British colonial and missionary scholars, picked up by politically ambitious south Indians with British backing, and subsequently assumed a life of its own.

Even then it was largely a secular movement for political power (albeit with a substratum of racist rhetoric).

In recent decades, however, a vast network of groups based in the West has co-opted this movement and is attempting to transform Tamil identity into the Dravidian Christianity movement premised on a fabricated racial-religious history.

This rewriting of history has necessitated a range of archeological falsities and even epigraphic hoaxes, blatantly contradicting scientific evidence. Similar interventions by some of the same global forces have resulted in genocides and civil wars in Sri Lanka, Rwanda and other places.

If unchallenged these movements could produce horrific outcomes in South India.

2. LINKING OF DRAVIDIAN & DALIT IDENTITIES:

India has its own share of social injustices that need to be continually addressed and resolved.

Caste identities have been used to discriminate against others, but these identities were not always crystallized and ossified as they are today, nor were they against a specific religion per se.

Caste identity faultlines became invigorated and politicized through the British Censuses of India, and later intensified in independent India by vote bank politics.

A dangerous anti-national grand narrative emerged based on claims of a racial Dalit identity and victimhood.

But Dalit communities are not monolithic and have diverse local histories and social dynamics. There are several inconsistencies and errors in these caste classifications: not all Dalit communities are equivalent socially and economically, nor are they static or always subordinate to others.

While Dravidian and Dalit identities were constructed separately, there is a strategy at work to link them in order to denigrate and demonize Indian classical traditions (including spiritual texts and the identities based on these) as a common enemy.

This in turn, has been mapped on to an Afro-Dalit narrative which claims that Dalits are racially related to Africans and all other Indians are “whites.”

Thus, Indian civilization itself is demonized as anti-humanistic and oppressive.

This has become the playground of major foreign players, both from the evangelical right and from the academic left. It has opened huge career opportunities for an assortment of middlemen including NGOs, intellectuals and “champions of the oppressed.”

While the need for relief and structural change is immense, the shortsighted selfish politics is often empowering the movements’ leaders more than the people in whose name the power is being accumulated. The “solutions” could exacerbate the problems.

3. FOREIGN NEXUS EXPLOITS INDIA’S FAULTLINES:

An entity remains intact as long as the centripetal forces (those bringing its parts together) are stronger than its centrifugal forces (those pulling it apart). This study of a variety of organizations in USA and Europe demonstrates certain dangerous initiatives that could contribute to the breaking up of Indian civilization’s cohesiveness and unity using various pretexts and programs.

The institutions involved include certain Western government agencies, churches, think tanks, academics, and private foundations across the political spectrum.

Even the fierce fight between Christians and Leftists within the West, and the clash between Islam and Christianity in various places, have been set aside in order to attack India’s unity.

Numerous intellectual paradigms, such as postmodernist critiques of “nation,” originating from the West’s own cultural and historical experiences are universalized, imported and superimposed onto India.

These ill-fitting paradigms take center stage in Indian intellectual circles and many guilt-ridden Indian elites have joined this enterprise, seeing it as “progressive” and a respectable path for career opportunities.

The book (Breaking India) does not predict the outcomes but simply shows that such trends are accelerating and do take considerable national resources to counteract.

If ignored, these identity divisions can evolve into violent secessionism.

4. RELIGION’s ROLE IN THE COMPETITION FOR SOFT POWER:

Global competition among collective identities is intensifying, even as the “flat world” of meritocracy seems to enhance individual mobility based on personal competence.

But the opportunities and clout of individuals in a global world relies enormously on the cultural capital and standing of the groups from which they emerge and are anchored to.

As goes India and Indian culture (of which Hinduism is a major component), so will go the fate of Indians everywhere.

Hence, the role of soft power becomes even more important than ever before.

Religions and cultures are a key component of such soft power. Christian and Islamic civilizations are investing heavily in boosting their respective soft power, for both internal cohesiveness and external influence.

Moreover, undermining the soft power of rivals is clearly seen as a strategic weapon in the modern kurukshetra.

5. INTERROGATING THE TERM “MINORITY”:

The book raises the question: Who is a “minority” in the present global context? A community may be numerically small relative to the local population, but globally it may in fact be part of the majority that is powerful, assertive and well-funded.

Given that India is experiencing a growing influx of global funding, political lobbying, legal action and flow of ideologies, what criteria should we use to classify a group as a “minority”?

Should certain groups, now counted as minorities, be reclassified given their enormous worldwide clout, power and resources?

If the “minority” concerned has actually merged into an extra-territorial power through ideology (like Maoists) or theology (like many churches and madrassas), through infrastructure investment (like buying large amounts of land, buildings, setting up training centers, etc.), through digital integration and internal governance, then do they not become a powerful tool of intervention representing a larger global force rather than being simply a “minority” in India.

Certainly, one would not consider a local franchise of McDonalds in India to be a minor enterprise just because it may employ only a handful of employees with modest revenues locally. It is its global size, presence and clout that are counted and that determine the rules, restrictions and disclosure requirements to which it must adhere.

Similarly, nation-states’ presence in the form of consulates is also regulated.

But why are foreign religious MNCs exempted from similar requirements of transparency and supervision? (For example: Bishops are appointed by the Vatican, funded by it, and given management doctrine to implement by the Vatican, and yet are not regulated on par with diplomats in consulates representing foreign sovereign states.)

Indian security agencies do monitor Chinese influences and interventions into Buddhist monasteries in the northern mountain belt, because such interventions can compromise Indian sovereignty and soft power while boosting China’s clout.

Should the same supervision also apply to Christian groups operating under the direction and control of their western headquarters and Islamic organizations funded and/or ideologically influenced by their respective foreign headquarters?

Ultimately, the book raises the most pertinent challenge: What should India do to improve and deliver social justice in order to secure its minorities and wean them away from global nexuses that are often anti-Indian?

6. CONTROLLING THE DISCOURSE ON INDIA:

The book shows how the discourse on India at various levels is being increasingly controlled by the institutions in the West which in turn serve its geo-political ambitions.

So, why has India failed to create its own institutions that are the equivalent of the Ford Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, etc.?

Why are there no Indian university based International Relations programs with deep-rooted links to the External Affairs Ministry, RAW, and various cultural, historical and ideological think tanks?

Why are the most prestigious journals, university degrees and conferences on India Studies, in sharp contrast to the way China Studies worldwide is under the control of Chinese dominated discourse, based in the West and mostly under the control of western institutions?

 

(This article by Rajiv Malhotra is reproduced from: http://www.breakingindia.com/six-provocations/ )

Rajiv Malhotra: How do I see “issues” in my work and deal with them?


Be : Rajiv Malhotra

My academic critics concerning my methods and capabilities tend to be either (A) those whose works I target for my criticisms, or (B) weak Hindus who are complicit and aligned with ‘A’ at least in public.

I have already responded to the issue of whether I am qualified – in blogs such as Speaking Tree, etc. My capabilities are to be evaluated as per my goals, which I repeat are NOT the standard goals of a career academician.

In US politics it is fashionable to say “I am not a career politician mixed up in Washington, but an outsider to the political establishment.” Similarly, I might say: ”I am not a career academician mixed up in a corrupt Ivy League liberal arts system, but an outsider to that establishment.”

Then there is the charge that I am controversial and confrontational.

Yes I am. I want to be in order to bring the change that is badly needed.

Unfortunately, Sunthar and Makarand (both dear friends) got “domesticated” by the establishment, turning them into benign goody-goody types that can be mostly ignored and put aside. (In an unpublished book on this syndrome, I call such people “pets”.)

Neither has achieved anything close to his potential given the sharpness of intellect, hard work and genuine intentions each of them has. As counter examples, Koenraad Elst and Shrinivas Tilak (both very academically qualified) have produced a lot of provocative and confrontational works without bothering to appease anyone.

Whether I agree with them on every issue is unimportant, but I like their audacity.

Given my goals, it is vital to be non-ignorable. I know that this subversive strategy brings attacks against me. An intellectual kshatriya must face this to do his job.

This is why I decided long ago not to focus on institution building because that requires a certain amount of “conformity” and being “nice to people”. I did my institution building in business and did not enjoy that even though I made lots of money.

I would rather be the chief scientist (building provocative ideas) than the chief executive (building institutions).

My heart is in (A) the pursuit of adhyatmika experience (as inner scientist), (B) the intellectual analysis and modelling of very complex issues (asouter scientist), and (C) disruption of the public discourse based on my findings (as intellectual kshatriya).

Being consistent with my sva-bhava (innate nature) is what led me to this sva-dharma (purpose/calling). I did not copycat others’ goals, nor do I impose mine upon them.

Seeing through my drishti/lens as indicated above, I find such critics to be mediocre people who have wasted their lives producing little that matters. They are busy adding to their resumes and official credentials, operating below the radar so they dont threaten the establishment that has domesticated them.

I hope I will never take this kind of easy path to be in the good books of others. I would rather be dead than in such a state of coma.

Rajiv Malhotra: Further related matter

The fundamental error these academicians have in understanding/dealing with me is their assumption that they are my target readership, that I seek to influence them, etc. That was true when I started 20-25 years back.

But as I have explained many times, I gave up on the whole idea of changing the academic fortress from within – Gandhi concluded the same about British empire after first wanting to work within its framework and get Indians a fairer deal. He then started his Quit India movement to bring them down.

For the past 10-15 years, my constituency has been the mainstream Indians, wanting to wake them up, get them stirred into action.

My barometer of impact is not how some academicians feel about me. But rather how my fellow-Indians feel.

I find a dramatic awakening and uprising among them. This is evidenced through all sorts of feedback mechanisms. I look at the trends for my books, talks, blogs, Youtubes.

Believe me, I do not bother looking at what some professor sitting in a class with no more than 20 students is saying. Those are dinosaurs. Today the academicians feel left out.

This is called dis-intermediation, squeezing out the middleman or intermediary. Its the trend of our times and the new technology has enabled this.

I feel academicians (of the type 25 years back) are obsolete in religious studies. People learn more out of the classroom and they use mainly sources not produced by these academicians.

The academic presses are going broke in most places. Most brick and mortar universities are increasingly dependent on foreign students to stay afloat because students use new ways of learning – except in disciplines like medicine, etc.

So my trajectory is in tune with the trends. It is the academicians who are now wanting to “deal” with me since they cannot ignore me any longer.

I said “to hell with you” and have built my own constituency abandoning the academicians. I am so glad I did. I have paved the way for new scholars from within our tradition to follow along these lines, and not be so dependent on the good cops of academics.

Next I want to empower the traditional scholar-practitioner in India. I have been building key bridges for this.


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