Monday, January 30, 2006

Vaada and Jalpa in the blogsphere.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati (of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam), in his introduction to the Gita mentions various forms of dialogue.

Vaada: ".... a discussion involving two or more people who are interested in finding out the facts about a certain subject matter. They are all exploring. In this type of discussion, there is no teacher-student relationship. Each person is equally placed, even though one person may now a little more than the others about the subject matter. They are all interested in understanding. This kind of discussion among equals, any collective study among students, for example, is called "vaada" and is naturally healthy."

Swamiji says that there are two unhealthy types of dailgoue.

"One is the dialogue that takes place between two people who are already committed to different beliefs. Such a discussion, called "jalpa", is governed purely by each person's wit. Any discussion between two fanatics falls into this category. They are each convinced that the other person is totally wrong and tries to win the other over to his or her particular belief, even though there is no basis for the discussion."

He further says:

"...we cannot have a discussion based on such beliefs. Both of us may be wrong. A discussion between two people, both of whom are committed to certain beliefs, is purely a dialogue between two missionaries.....Each person always comes back with better arguments. Jalpa discussions are useless, they have no value."

He then mentions "vitandaa" where one person makes a statement and the other person always disagrees, merely because the other person said it. Such a discussion is also useless.

There is a student-teacher dialog, which he calls "samvaada", where the student gives the teacher the benefit of the doubt, because the student may not have understood fully.

What one hopes for in the blogsphere is vaada - which one might find e.g., on Unfortunately jalpa and even vitandaa dominate.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

More Gandhi quotes

In continuation of this post, I'm putting Gandhi quotes with "I am a Hindu" on this blog. There are lots of them, and since this is for the record, rather than to try to make you read them, I'm putting all of them in the comments.

I have yet to look for quotes with "I am a xxx Hindu" where xxx could be staunch, true, or sanatani.
PS: Thanks to G.P. for pointing out unnecessary repetitions.

PS: I can't make comments accept various tags, so here goes - warning - long!

Gandhi's "I am a Hindu...." quotes:

Autobiography, First Day in Pretoria:
During the very first interview Mr. Baker ascertained my religious views. I said to him : I am a Hindu by birth. And yet I do not know much of Hinduism, and I know less of other religions. In fact I do not know where I am, and what is and what should be my belief. I intend to make a careful study of my own religion and, as far as I can, of other religions as well.

Young India, 23-6-1920, regarding the composition of the Khilafat committee
And now the question why there are no Hindu leaders on the committee is easily answered. The supreme committee can only be purely Mussulman. My presence, too, I consider as an evil but it is a necessary evil because of my qualifications. I have specialized in non-co-operation. I have successfully experimented with it. The resolution about non-co-operation was conceived by me at the conference at Delhi. I am on the committee therefore as a specialist and not because I am a Hindu. My function is therefore of an adviser merely. That I happen to be a staunch Hindu with the conviction that every Hindu should consider it to be his duty to go with the Mussulmans the full length in non-co-operation, is no doubt an advantage to the committee. But that advantage was at its disposal whether I was on it or not.

Speech at the Antyaj Conference, Nagpur, Dec 25, 1920
I am a Hindu myself and I claim to be an orthodox one. It is my further claim that I am a sanatani Hindu. At present I am engaged in a great dispute with the Hindus in Gujarat. They, especially the Vaishnavas, reject my claim to be called a sanatani Hindu, but I cling to it and assert that I am one. This is one great evil in Hindu society. There are many others, but those you may eradicate, if not today, after a thousand years and the delay may be forgiven. This practice, however, of regarding the Antyajas as untouchables is intolerable to me. I cannot endure it.

Navajivan, 24-11-1921, on the birth anniversary of Rajchandra, translated from Gujarati
We must cease to be unscrupulous Vanias and become Kshatriyas. The Vaisyas dharma does not mean doing no manual work, no ploughing, no heroism and no consideration for right and wrong. The true Vaisya, rather, shows himself heroic in his generosity and discrimination in his business; he follows the Brahmins dharma, too, by exercising his discrimination and deciding that he may not sell liquor or fish, that he may deal only in pure khadi. We shall fall into sin if others slave for us and we merely lend money and earn interest. At least by way of yajna, we should do some bodily labour every day.

Primarily, the Vanias sphere is business, but he must also possess the qualities of the other castes. If I should have to engage a Kabuli or a Pathan to protect my wife, it would be better, though I am a Hindu, that I should divorce her and set her free. But what do we find many Vanias doing? Most of them have engaged North Indians and Pathans as watchmen. You may do even that; I do not mind it. If, however, you lack the strength to protect your wife and children, you had better retire into a hermits cottage and live there as befits your dharma. It will not, then, be your duty, as Vanias, to come forward to protect the world. The Kshatriyas will do that whenever and wherever they find people suffering.

The biggest lesson I learnt from Rajchandrabhais life is that a Vania should always live as befits a Vania.

Young India, 23-2-1922
M. Paul Richards presentation of my views about non-violence is really a caricature. I have no doubt that he understands me in the manner in which he has represented me. There is undoubtedly a sense in which the statement is true when I say that I hold my religion dearer than my country and that therefore I am a Hindu first and nationalist after. I do not become on that score a less nationalist than the best of them. I simply thereby imply that the interests of my country are identical with those of my religion. Similarly when I say that I prize my own salvation above everything else, above the salvation of India, it does not mean that my personal salvation requires a sacrifice of Indias political or any other salvation. But it implies necessarily that the two go together. Just in the same sense I would decline to gain Indias freedom at the cost of non-violence, meaning that India will never gain her freedom without non-violence or through violence. That I may be hopelessly wrong in holding the view is another matter, but such is my view and it is daily growing on me.

Young India, 29-5-1924, Hindu-Muslim Tension, its cause and its cure.
{After stating Hindu opinions against non-violence} My religion is a matter solely between my Maker and myself. If I am a Hindu, I cannot cease to be one even though I may be disowned by the whole of the Hindu population. I do, however, suggest that non-violence is the end of all religions.

Speech at AICC meeting, June 28, 1924
Just think of it, it is only the spinning-wheel which brings us into contact with the lowest of our countrymen. I do not wish to make a fetish of the spinning-wheel. If I come to see that it is an impediment in the winning of swaraj, I shall immediately set fire to it. That way I am an iconolast, and in that sense a Muslim. And yet, I am an idolator too. If I feel that even a stone from the bed of the Narmada river helps me to concentrate my attention on my chosen god, I would certainly keep it and worship it. In that sense I am a Hindu.

Speech at National Education Conference, Aug 2, 1924
{On the costs of joining the fight for swaraj}

What if your livelihood is endangered while doing so? We have been conducting the movement for swaraj precisely to create conditions in which our livelihood will not be jeopardized. We can consider that movement to have succeeded only when hundreds, thousands, lakhs of boys and girls will cease to worry and become unconcerned about their livelihood. In a country which enjoys freedom, boys and girls do not at all think of their livelihood while doing their duty. Nowhere else do we find such difficulty about earning ones livelihood as we do here. It is Indias claim that it gives first place to activities concerning the atman. The fear of death and livelihood, which is found in this country making such a claim, is found nowhere else. I speak thus because I am a Hindu through and through.

Why should we have any fear about our livelihood? We certainly have weaving as a means of livelihood. If that is not possible, we shall split wood, break and carry stones. If we go a step further and do the sacred work of cleaning latrines, we shall certainly get the Rs. 15 or Rs. 20 that we want, nay we shall be even wooed. Hence, truly speaking, we have no problem of livelihood. Those who want swaraj and yearn for it, those who feel that they should immolate themselves in this struggle, should certainly forget all about earning their livelihood.

Young India, 26-3-1925, All about Travancore
{On the removal of untouchability in the princely state of Travancore}

But when I saw with my own eyes what the State is, what a cultured ruler and what a cultured Dewan it had, this existence of unapproachability staggered and puzzled me. How the inhuman thing could exist in such a State with such a sovereign, such a Dewan and such a people, baffled me as it still baffles me. But for the satyagraha no one would have known anything of it. But now that it is known in its nakedness, I must own that I have become impatient for its removal. I am impatient because I am a Hindu, because the State is a Hindu State, because its Dewan is a Hindu, because the people are educated and because the evil is acknowledged. If it was the British Government, it could certainly plead neutrality if it wished.

But since it is a Hindu Government and in this case and in such cases it is not dominated or influenced not so far as I am aware by the British Government, it cannot plead or profess neutrality. It must take the side of reform and oppose blind orthodoxy or superstition even as it would take the side of the robbed and come down upon robbers with a heavy hand.

Speech at AICC Meeting, Gauhati, Dec 24, 1926
{On Swami Shraddhanand's assassination by a Muslim}

But I have said all this from the point of view of Swamiji and from my own point of view. I have repeatedly said that I make no distinction between Hindus and Mussalmans. I am a Hindu by birth and I find peace in the Hindu religion. Whenever peace seemed to elude me, it was in the Hindu religion that I found it. I studied other religions also and I decided that, whatever its defects and drawbacks, Hinduism alone could be the religion for me. That is what I feel and that is why I call myself a sanatani Hindu. Many sanatanis feel exasperated by this claim of mine and say: How can this man who has come back from England with all these new-fangled ideas be a Hindu? But this does not weaken my claim to being a Hindu, and Hinduism tells me to abide in friendship with all. So I have to think of the viewpoint of Mussalmans also.

Young India, 20-10-1927, Why I am a Hindu
I have ventured at several missionary meetings to tell English and American missionaries that if they could have refrained from telling India about Christ and had merely lived the life enjoined upon them by the Sermon on the Mount, India instead of suspecting them would have appreciated their living in the midst of her children and directly profited by their presence.

Holding this view, I can tell American friends nothing about Hinduism by way of return. I do not believe in people telling others of their faith, especially with a view to conversion. Faith does not admit of telling. It has to be lived and then it becomes self-propagating.

Nor do I consider myself fit to interpret Hinduism except through my own life. And if I may not interpret Hinduism through my written word, I may not compare it with Christianity. The only thing it is possible for me therefore to do is to say, as briefly as I can, why I am a Hindu.

Believing as I do in the influence of heredity, being born in a Hindu family, I have remained a Hindu. I should reject it, if I found it inconsistent with my moral sense or my spiritual growth. On examination, I have found it to be the most tolerant of all religions known to me. Its freedom from dogma makes a forcible appeal to me inasmuch as it gives the votary the largest scope for self-expression...

Interview with the Associated Press, Feb 14, 1933
I am a Hindu not merely because I was born in the Hindu fold, but I am one by conviction and choice. As I know it and interpret it, it gives me all the solace I need, both here and hereafter. It solves for me many riddles of life. But it also contains, as it is practised today, the big blot of untouchability in the sense in which it is understood today, that is, distinction between man and man, one occupying the topmost rung of the ladder and another the lowest. If this doctrine of utmost superiority and utmost inferiority, descending from father to son for eternity, is an integral part of Hinduism without the slightest prospect of a change, then I no more want to belong to it than does Dr. Ambedkar.

"How to cultivate Ahimsa?" 20-7-1940
Mere resolve to lay down ones life under the circumstances is not enough. There must be the necessary qualification for making the sacrifice. If I am a Hindu, I must fraternize with the Mussalmans and the rest. In my dealings with them I may not make any distinction between my co-religionists and those who might belong to a different faith. I would seek opportunities to serve them without any feeling of fear or unnaturalness. The word fear can have no place in the dictionary of ahimsa. Having thus qualified himself by his selfless service, a votary of pure ahimsa will be in a position to make a fit offering of himself in a communal conflagration.

Speech at a Prayer Meeting, Sept 7, 1946
When the Qaid-e-Azam and his followers describe Hindus as their enemies I am surprised and pained. I am not a Muslim but I venture to say that Islam does not preach enmity towards anyone. I think I am as much a Christian, a Sikh and a Jain as I am a Hindu. Religion does not teach one to kill brother however different his belief. No one can treat another as his enemy until the latter has become his own enemy. Muslim League leaders were not right when they said that they would compel the Congress, the Hindus and the British to accede to their demand.

Speech at a prayer meeting, April 1, 1947
{ Today as soon as Manu Gandhi uttered the first word of the Kalma from the Koran a young man stood up, marched right up to the stage where Gandhiji sat and said, You go away from here. This is a Hindu temple where we will not allow a Muslim prayer. You have been repeatedly telling this thing to us but our mothers and sisters continue to be slaughtered. We cannot tolerate it any longer. The man was forcibly removed from the audience. Gandhi said: }

You did not do the right thing. You forcibly removed the young man from the meeting. You should not have done such a thing. It would give him a sense of triumph. He was very excited. He did not wish to listen to the prayer. But I know that you all wish to listen to it.

I do not wish to hold the prayer in spite of protests. Now I intend to give up the rest of the prayer. You are all familiar with the prayer I offer. You have heard it even before I went to Noakhali. In my sequence of prayers, the Muslim prayer is followed by the Parsi prayer. After that this girl would have sung to you a bhajan in her melodious voice and then there would have been Ramdhun.

But now I am leaving out the Parsi prayer and also the Ramdhun. Auz-o-Billahi is the beginning of one of the verses of the Koran. You think that uttering this expression is an insult to Hinduism. But I am a true sanatani Hindu. My Hinduism tells me that along with the Hindu prayer I should also offer the Muslim prayer and the Parsi and Christian prayers.

True Hinduism lies in offering prayers of all religions because only he is a good Hindu who is also a good Muslim and a good Parsi. The young man said that this was a Hindu temple and such prayers could not be held here. But that is wild talk. This temple belongs to the Bhangis. Even a single Bhangi can throw me out of this place if he so desires. But these people love me. They know that I am a Hindu.

Jugal Kishore Birla, on the other hand, is my brother. He is a big man in terms of money but he regards me an elder. He has put me up here because he considers me a pious Hindu. He also takes me to the big temple built by him. If in spite of all this the young man insists that I should go away and I cannot pray here, it is merely his arrogance.

But you should have won him over with love. You threw him out by force. What is the point in offering prayers by resorting to force? The young man was in a rage and in his anger was talking wild things. It was out of such talk that all those things happened in the Punjab. This rage is what starts all the fanaticism.

Prayer Meeting, April 3, 1947
{The controversy over Gandhi offering prayers of all religions continued. Below, the organization referred to is the RSS}

But those who do physical exercises and drill here every morning and are members of that organization love me. If they do not want me to stay here there is no point in my staying on. I must not remain here. But I had a talk with their leader. He said that it was not their intention to harm anyone. The Sangh was not formed to oppose anyone.

True, they had not accepted my method of non-violence; but they were willing to confine themselves within the Congress discipline. So long as the Congress rules non-violently they would remain peaceful. He thus talked with me very cordially.

If you still want to stop me, then kindly do not come here from tomorrow. I do not wish to hold prayers in this manner. I am made of different stuff. If I am a Hindu, I am also a Muslim. And the Sikhs are almost Hindus. I have seen the Granth Sahib. In many parts it is Hinduism to the letterthe religion I follow. Hence, with great humility I request you to remain peaceful because I would stop the prayer even at a childs wish. If you want to recite Gods name by creating a row you would be acting like a devil although you may be uttering the name of God. And I can never do the work of the devil. I am a devotee of God alone.

Prayer meeting, April 4, 1947
Hence, those who oppose my prayer are destroying Hindu dharma. They should understand that I am as much a Parsi, a Christian and also a Muslim as I am a Hindu. What wonderful meaning is conveyed by Auz-o-Billahi. I have not read the Yajurveda. But a gentleman writes to say that everything is contains is to be found in the Yajurveda. In that case why should you oppose it? Religious sentiment whether expressed in Arabic, Sanskrit or Chinese, is always noble. That is why I would like to ask that gentleman if he has understood my point.

Prayer meeting, April 5, 1947
If I am a Hindu, why can I not recite from the Koran, or from
the Zend-Avesta? Besides, the Hindu mode of worship also is no less diverse. Some would have recitations from the upanishads and not from the Vedas; some would want the Gita and not the upanishads, a third one would demand the Atharvaveda in preference to the Yajurveda. In other words, each one is entitled to pray in his own way.

Prayer meeting, May 1, 1947
Signing a peace appeal is nothing new for me. All my life I have done that and I continue to do it. But Jinnah Sahebs signature is a great thing. If all Muslims are under Jinnah Sahebs influence, they must now abide by his words; for he has signed on behalf of the Muslims. But have I given my signature because I am a Hindu? I have influence over none. I belong to no party. I belong to all. If the Hindus of Bihar act in frenzy again I shall fast unto death. In the same way, if the Muslims in Noakhali lose their heads, I shall lay down my life there. I have earned that right. I belong to the Muslims no less than to the Hindus. I belong to the Sikhs, Parsis and Christians in the same measure. I may be crying in the wilderness, but whatever I say would be on behalf of all and addressed to all.

Prayer meeting, June 1, 1947
{To a man who objected to Gandhi's recitation of the Koran}

Hinduism does not belong only to you. I am a Hindu too, and a perfect sanatani. Now, why should we read only the Gita? Why should we not read the Koran too? We must gather pearls wherever we find them. Power is now about to come to us. The Viceroy is impatient to hand it over to us. Would you, at this moment, quarrel like this and show your folly? You must learn to be courteous. You can learn courtesy from Badshah Khan. Today when Manu went to bring him to the prayer he said he would rather keep away as some Hindu might be hurt by his presence. I then sent him a message saying that he was huge as a mountain and I was a mere Bania, and if I was not scared, why should he be? And now, having come here, there he sits more gentle than a lamb. We too should be well-behaved like him.

Talk to Hindus, July 6, 1947
If you have finished saying what you wanted me to hear I will say a few words. I am a Hindu, by birth and up-bringing, by practice and faith. In addition to the Hindu scriptures, I have read the holy books of almost all the other religions. I wish to raise my Hinduism higher and that is the reason why I respect other religions. Can an old man like me all of a sudden become an apostate? Calmly seek an answer to this question from your heart. I do not want your testimonial. I do not live by anyone's testimonials. I live by a testimonial from God alone. And if I have to die in obtaining that, I shall die bravely. If at that moment I get the fruits of my last sixty years penance for truth and non-violence, I shall feel more than rewarded. I shall regard it as a grace of God.

Prayer meeting, Oct 26, 1947
...And then Calcutta is no small village. It is a city where business worth crores is carried on. Huge freighters come to the Calcutta port and the city is inhabited by the Hindus and the Muslims who do business. If we started treating one another as enemies there, would not the entire trade be destroyed?

It is indeed very good if the Shanti Sena has taught the people of Calcutta to live as brothers. Why should we not learn a lesson from Calcutta? Why should we not have a Shanti Sena here as well? Some Muslims came to me today on account of Id. They know that I am not their enemy but their friend. I am a Hindu, and a sanatani Hindu at that. That is why I am as much a Muslim as a Hindu. Hence they came to me as to a friend. I did offer them Id greetings; but I told them that really I had not the face to do so. Even today they live in great fear. They wonder if the Hindus would let them stay here. Or would they be killed? Of course all the Hindus do not kill. But they are in panic because many have been slaughtered. What if they are few in number? Should the people of the majority community attack and terrorize them? These atrocities have got to end, otherwise we will perish.

A letter, Nov 8, 1947
We have certainly no right to advise a neighbour to clean his house as long as our own house is not clean. I am a Hindu by birth and by practice. It is my duty to bring glory to this religion, and my religion is all-embracing.

A letter, Dec 17, 1947
I am passing through a difficult time. I have not a moment to spare. I am convinced that this communal conflict is not of the common peoples making. A handful of persons are behind it. Whose fault is it if I do not see amity even between these two. . .? If the ocean itself catches fire, who can put it out? Falsehood has spread so much that one cannot say where it will end.

If in that yajna, our struggle for freedom, we had been wholly negligent in preserving truth it is doubtful that we could have attained even this so-called swarajya. Truth is my only God. Truth alone to me is prayer, penance and the rest. I am a Hindu. I know that if the world were to adopt my Hinduism mankind would be free from all the worldly ills and man would live in a truly human manner. All this that I have dictated for you has just occurred to me after the prayer.

A letter, January 9, 1948

Your letter is full of anger. Anger seems to be the food on which you subsist. My simplest statement seems crooked to you. Let it be. Can one help ones nature?

I have never felt that you are a Muslim and I am a Hindu. The only feeling I have is that you are A. S. and I am Gandhi. Where our atmans are concerned we are one.

Terrorism watch

The Taliban campaign against education in Afghanistan continues unabated.

Three more schools in Helmand province were burned down in the last few days.

B.Raman has a commentary on the escalating terrorist activity in Afghanistan.

On Hamas, B Raman notes that "No party can contest an election in India without accepting the Constitution of India. No organisation in India - ethnic, ideological or religious - which is banned as a terrorist organisation can contest an election", and points out that the the world now faces a big problem with Hamas winning the elections in Palestine because "the Hamas was allowed to contest the elections before it had fully accepted the rules of democracy and lawful international behaviour".

A micro review

Went and watched Laughed some. Catholics may have more than their fair share of nuttiness.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where was I?

I was at, where the California school textbook issue was being discussed in terms of "defending science".

Unfortunately, "defence of science" seems to be another cult activity; very few of the people there care about what the facts are and what the issue is in California. They are more like a mob, or more charitably, like a crowd cheering on their football team. All it takes is an Oracle or Prophet of their side to set them off. Their defence of the science of evolution is probably equally parroted and equally unconsidered. This is when one thinks kindly of Quantoken (you can find him in the comments here) - he thinks for himself, even if his ideas are often nutty.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Some more quotes from Gandhi

"I am a Hindu and therefore a true Indian" - you will find a lot of Pakistani writing that attributes this quote to Mahatma Gandhi. The purpose is to show that to Gandhi, being Indian was synonymous with being Hindu, and thus Gandhi sought to exclude Muslims from the national life. This kind of bigotry is what forced reluctant Muslims to seek to partition India and have a country of their own. Partition and the sorry mess that is Pakistan becomes the responsibility of Gandhi rather than of Pakistanis.

I'm aware that a false quote repeated often enough takes on a life of its own. There are other false Gandhi quotes out there, including of the type "first they laugh at you, then they arrest you and then you win". But as long as this blog is up and someone searches they will find all the quotes of Gandhi with "true India/Indian" and "I am a Hindu" that are extant. This particular post will deal with all the "true India/Indian" quotes.

  • From an article in Indian Opinion Jan 30, 1909, translated from Gujarati

    There is no point in writing to another in English when that other person knows as little English as one does oneself. It would only lead to a total mis-understanding, apart from encouraging a bad habit. The right approach would be to use English [only] when the other person does not know our mother tongue. English may be learnt, but one’s mother tongue must not be ignored. The learning of English must come second to learning one’s mother tongue. Or, one may learn
    both the languages simultaneously, remembering, however, the general rule mentioned above. We do not believe that those who are not proud of their own language, who are not proficient in it, can have the true spirit of swadeshi. Gujarati, among the Indian languages, is a poorly-developed language, and we also observe that Gujaratis lag behind all the others [in India] in respect of the swadeshi spirit. It is for the Gujaratis to strive for the development of Gujarati. It is in that way that all of us can make ourselves true Indians.

  • From a letter to The Bombay Chronicle July 29, 1918, on the demise of Sorabji Shapurji Adajania.

    In all I have said above, I have hardly described the man in Sorabji. He was faithful to a degree. He was a true Parsee, because he was a true Indian. He knew no distinctions of creed or caste. Love of India was a passion with him, her service an article of faith. He was indeed a rare man. He leaves a young widow to mourn his death. I am sure there are many friends of Sorabji to share her grief.

  • From a letter to Lala Lajpat Rai, Aug 20, 1919

    It is to me intolerable that one like you should have to remain outside India at the present moment. In my opinion, the place of every true Indian is in India.

  • From an article in Navjivan, Feb 1, 1920, translated from Gujarati

    The Ali Brothers embraced Hastrat Mohani, introducing him as “our mad Mullah”. This man does not want honour nor does he mind insults. He remains engrossed in his work, indifferent to heat and cold and making no difference between day and night. These are three jewels of the Muslim community and I feel that Hasrat Mohani is the brightest of the three. There are not many even among Hindus who could rival him in his single-minded devotion it is doubtful if there is any. And just as they are true Muslims, they are true Indians. The fate of the Khilafat case and the future peace of India depend largely on the wisdom of these three. I can see that none of them will be afraid to follow the path they think is right.

  • From Young India, Nov 20, 1924

    A cable received from Durban from his son gives me the sad news of the death of Rustomjee Jiwanjee Ghorkhodoo. For me it is a personal loss. He was a valued client, dear friend and faithful coworker. He was as true a Parsi as he was a true Indian. He was an equally true man. He was an orthodox Parsi, but his Zoroastrianism was as broad as humanity itself. He befriended all without distinction.

  • From a speech at Guntur, April 17, 1929

    Of course I ask you all, I request you earnestly, on behalf of the poor and starving millions of our land, to use khaddar and promote its production. If you think of their hunger, and the hunger of their helpless women and children, you will, as true Indians, come out to help them and then you will not mind untouchability or caste.

  • From a speech at Ramgarh, March 14, 1940

    The true Indian civilization is in the Indian villages. The modern city civilization you find in Europe and America, and in a handful of our cities which are copies of the Western cities and which were built for the foreigner, and by him. But they cannot last. It is only the handicraft civilization that will endure and stand the test of time. But it
    can do so only if we can correlate the intellect with the hand.

  • From a letter to Raihana Tyabji, Aug 1, 1945, translated from Gujarati

    Today I got your letter. I also read Salehbhai’s article. Some of the things he says are true but neither Burma nor India has any power. Nobody would listen to a true Indian or Burmese and he cannot do much. The true dharma of India is to achieve independence and help Burma and other countries to attain it. All this enmity would disappear
    after both are free. At present no one will pay heed to what Salehbhai says. He would be regarded as merely an official. My advice is that he should silently serve [the cause] as much as he can. An official’s dharma is not to speak but act.

    Pass this on to Salehbhai.

  • From a speech at a prayer meeting, Oct 27, 1946

    Let us all still pray and hope that all the Ministers will be able to work as a team. If India can speak with one voice, she will be the greatest country in the world and every true Indian must wish her to attain that status.

    (Gandhi is speaking of the ministers of the Interim Government. He referred to the ugly demonstration before the Viceroy’s House on the day before when Jawaharlal Nehru and some of his colleagues in the Interim Government were abused and insulted.)

    Yes, that is about it - nine instances of "true India(n)" in the Collected Works of Gandhi.
  • Evolutionism

    Tomorrow's NYT Book Review will have an essay by Judith Shulevitz, part of which is devoted to "The Evolution-Creation Struggle" by Michael Ruse. We are told that Ruse distinguishes between the science of evolution (of which he is a strong supporter) and "evolutionism".

    Evolutionism is the part of evolutionary thought that reaches beyond testable science. Evolutionism addresses the questions of origins, the meaning of life, morality, the future and our role in it. In other words, it does all the work of a religion, but from a secular perspective.

    Evolutionism led to social Darwinism and eugenics, and is still a powerful cultural force. The enduring battle is between evolutionism and creationism, so it is said.

    Reactions in the blogsphere might be interesting!

    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    The Case for Government Intervention

    The United States has a staggering rate of incarceration - 686 prisoners per 100,000 population in 2001 (1.9 million prisoners).

    India and China, each with three times the population of the US, had both lower rates and lower absolute number of prisoners. India had 281K prisoners, a rate of 28 per 100,000 in 1999. China had 1.4 million prisoners, a rate of 111 per 100,000 people.

    Among OECD countries, Japan was at 48 per 100,000; England was at 139 per 100,000, Germany was at 96 per 100,000 and France was at 85 per 100,000 in the same period.

    (The source of the data above is this UK Home Ministry document).

    Of course, no other country is comparable to the US directly. So we may debate endlessly on the causes of this phenomenon.

    Assuming a $20K per year cost of maintaining a prisoner in the US, halving the incarceration rate would save $20 billion a year, and still keep the US with its high rate of imprisonment. Of course, we want this savings to be because no crimes were committed. Then the savings would be much higher in reality, because we would have a productive person in the outside world, and more important, fewer victims of crime.

    The conservative would argue that this result in the US is because of individual choices. Alas it is not one's choice of the formative environment that one lives in during one's childhood years. There is no argument that one of government's legitimate purposes is to fight crime. But some (much frowned upon) social engineering might help with this goal.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Understanding Pakistan - I

    The first thing to recognize about Pakistan is that quite independently of its origins, it has a persistent institutional hostility towards India. This enables the Pakistani military to maintain its dominant position in the state. This is not just in the public exchequer but in the private sector as well. Pakistan has spent more than half of its fifty-eight year history under the rule of generals - Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq and now Pervez Musharraf. When there has been civilian rule, it has been under the thumb of the Army.

    With that background, you are now ready to read this:

    Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa is a scholar of Pakistan's military and security affairs and a regular contributor to several Pakistani and internationally renowned opinion journals. Currently she  is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC where she is busy writing her latest book "Military Inc, The Politics of Military's Economy in Pakistan". In it, she analyzes Pakistan military's vast commercial interests and its economic predation since 1953.
    ...'s Editor-in-Chief Irshad Salim conducted a two-part online interview with her on the subject of her upcoming book, Pakistan affairs and post 9/11 scenario.

    irshadsalim28: Are you saying Pak army has institutionalized feudalism?

    asidd66: I am saying that it is a feudal institution as well.


    irshadsalim28: In the light of the post 9/11 scenario where the West have given a cart blanche to Pak army on all matters, where do your findings stand?

    asidd66: The military always had the carte blanche from the West. They need to see that the alienation of society is one of the consequences of military's predation. Where does the poor man go in Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia if not to God. There is no other means of transferring power except alternative ideologies, especially when the military has turned into a class and protects its interests along with other elite groups.

    The interesting thing is that in Pakistan (unlike Turkey and Indonesia), the Army has coopted the religion. Thus, the chief forces in Pakistan are Allah, Army, America; and America is on the side of the Army. The Army and the Mullah are in cahoots. There is not liberation theology for the people of Pakistan. What will be the fourth force that will bring power to the people?

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    Life as a Dhimmi - 2

    More on life as a dhimmi

    Hindus in Pakistan
    Forcible conversions

    On a quote from Gandhi

    The Pakistani duo of Aisha Fayyazi Sarwari and Yasser Latif Hamdani are of the apparent opinion that sufficient repetition can turn anything into fact. An instance is the quote they attribute to Mahatma Gandhi:

    'I am a Hindu first and hence a true Indian'

    More accurately, the quote is

    There is undoubtedly a sense in which the statement is true when I say that I hold my religion dearer than my country and that, therefore, I am a Hindu first and nationalist after. I do not become on that score a less nationalist than the best of them. I simply thereby imply that the interests of my country are identical with those of my religion.

    What is the nature of his religion and his nationalism?

    I can neither serve God nor humanity if as an Indian I do not serve India, and as a Hindu I do not serve the Indian Mussalmans. 

    To understand the crusade against Mahatma Gandhi, one has to understand that he is a bulwark of modern Indian secular democracy. Those who would destroy it must diminish Gandhi. This is as true of the rabid Hindu rightwingers in India as it is of Pakistanis.

    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    More on the origins of Indians

    The genetic evidence is increasingly at odds with the Standard Model of influx of Indo-European languages into India.

    The sharing of some Y-chromosomal haplogroups between Indian and Central Asian populations is most parsimoniously explained by a deep, common ancestry between the two regions, with diffusion of some Indian-specific lineages northward. The Y-chromosomal data consistently suggest a largely South Asian origin for Indian caste communities and therefore argue against any major influx, from regions north and west of India, of people associated either with the development of agriculture or the spread of the Indo-Aryan language family.


    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    Dark Matter

    The New York Times had a science story Milky Way and Neighbor Seen to Merge . It seems a dwarf galaxy is in the process of merging with our galaxy.

    But the story contained something that interested me more - indirect evidence of dark matter. Quoting
    .... another group of researchers said they had an explanation for a mysterious warp in the disk of the Milky Way that has baffled scientists for decades.

    Leo Blitz, professor of astronomy at the University of California, and his colleagues Evan Levine and Carl Heiles charted the warp and found evidence that it is a ripple or vibration set up by two small galaxies that circle the Milky Way. These satellite galaxies, called the Magellanic Clouds, cause vibrations at certain frequencies as they pass though the edges of the Milky Way, the researchers said.

    It was previously believed, Dr. Blitz said, that the Magellanic Clouds, with their combined mass being only 2 percent that of the Milky Way, were too small to influence their neighboring galaxy. However, he said, when the Milky Way's dark matter is taken into account, the motion of the small galaxies can create a wake that influences the larger one. ...According to a computer model created with Martin Weinberg, an astronomy theorist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, dark matter spreading from the Milky Way disk with the gas layer can enhance the gravitational influence of the Magellanic Clouds as they pass through it.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006


    My prediction is that he will be confirmed as Supreme Court justice, and later the nation will regret it in much the way it regrets Bush.

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    Strange weather

    New Delhi had its coldest day in 70 years (just about freezing). As per Reuters, China is having its coldest winter in 20 years, and there is record snowfall in areas of Japan.

    Meanwhile, here in New Jersey, today I note that the honeysuckle vine has dark green new leaves; the daffodils continue their upward push, even the iris - I thought these were summer plants - are poking their heads above the ground. One of my rose bushes is also showing new leaves. I can only hope that a later freeze doesn't damage my plants permanently.

    Saturday, January 07, 2006


    The whole point of going to college is to quietly slip out of your parents' orbit forever while surreptitiously extricating as much cash as humanly possible.

    - Joe Queenan in an essay in the New York Times.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    Enjoy it while it lasts

    Today, every site on the Internet is equally accessible to you, but tomorrow, using traffic engineering, the telcos will have the equivalent of high speed and low speed channels on the Internet backbone, and will seek revenue for the high speed channels. E.g., if pays the fee and doesn't, google will load faster and more reliably in your web browser than yahoo. It will take a very determined world-wide uniform regulation to keep this from happening. Telcos say that this will apply only to new services, such as video-on-demand; it remains to be seen. The argument the telcos have is also a good one - why should they invest in the backbone if they cannot raise revenues from that investment?

    So, eventually, the vast majority of web-sites will be connected via the equivalent of country lanes, while the large business websites will have superhighways to your door.

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Answer to Atrios' question - 2

    It seems I can do a worthy imitation of a wingnut. 'fore going further, see this and then this.

    Here is another weak argument, no doubt satisfying to some, to answer Atrios:

    Because the President's run-around FISA has been leaked, it is likely that (enemy of America) political forces at home, such as a Senate inquiry, might force him to stop it. Now the Admin. will have to file papers with FISC within 72 hours of starting a wiretap, and the Court might reject 0.01% of these! Therein lies the breach to national security.

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Answer to Atrios' question

    Atrios poses this challenge -

    Explain to me, in your best wingnutnese, how exactly it damages national security to reveal the fact that we spy on people without secret warrants instead of the fact that we spy on people with secret warrants?

    I hope I'm not a wingnut. But I'm answering anyway.

    The Enemies of America have a touching, näive faith in this country being a country of laws. They therefore know that as long as they don't act in a manner that raises suspicion to a level that a judge will issue a warrant, they are free to continue their Evil and Nefarious activities. The assurance to self - "I have given no probable cause" - allows them nights of peaceful slumber, untouched by worries of being spied upon. But now they know, we could be listening anyway, there is no facade behind which they can hide; and by letting them know, we've endangered national security.

    PS: almost forgot the wingnuttery. The fact that the Enemies of America and the Democrats, Liberals, ACLU card-carriers share the same conception of America as a nation of laws proves that they are all on the same side.

    Telecom: broadband at home

    As Dave Burstein at (which is where this data is from) put it : "Canada is so far ahead of the U.S. it's ridiculous to say U.S. policy hasn't been a major failure."

    Broadband per 100 households

    South Korea               80
    Hong Kong                 76
    Israel                    62
    Taiwan                    61
    Singapore                 59
    Netherlands               54
    Monaco                    53
    Canada                    52
    Switzerland               51
    Denmark                   50
    Norway                    45
    Japan                     43
    Belgium                   43
    Finland                   42
    Sweden                    39
    USA                       38
    UK                        37
    France                    36
    And a few others
    Spain                     32
    Estonia                   32
    Australia                 31
    Italy                     28
    Germany                   22
    Poland                    10
    China                     10
    Turkey                    8
    Mexico                    4
    Greece                    3
    Russia                    3
    Egypt, India, Pakistan, Indonesia all less than 1.

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    Genetic differences

    Through CIP< CIP I came to see Steven Pinker write about the idea that "groups of people may differ genetically in their average talents and temperaments". He acknowledges that it is not groundless to fear that the establishment of this proposition will give rise to bigotry, but says:

    The intellectual tools to defuse the danger are available. "Is" does not imply "ought. " Group differences, when they exist, pertain to the average or variance of a statistical distribution, rather than to individual men and women. Political equality is a commitment to universal human rights, and to policies that treat people as individuals rather than representatives of groups; it is not an empirical claim that all groups are indistinguishable. Yet many commentators seem unwilling to grasp these points, to say nothing of the wider world community.

    Well, I think that it would be first good to establish if it is a genetic trait that people tend to think of others in terms of group stereotypes. That wil determine if any intellectual tools will really be effective.

    Also, pursuing Pinker's hypothesis, presumably some groups are more genetically prone than others to treat people not as individuals but rather as representatives of groups. It would be extremely strange if just this aspect of temperament were entirely learned and had no genetic component. It would be worth researching this as well, and using some of those aforementioned intellectual tools to figure out how to handle this. We find it hard enough to treat people as individuals rather than bearers of particular skin colors. How much harder to handle as individuals the hypothetical group of people that are genetically pre-disposed to bigotry!

    Different strokes

    In the last one month, in Afghanistan, the Taliban have made five attacks on schools for the crime of having girl students. They set fire to three school buildings, killed a teacher and student at a fourth, and tossed grenades at the fifth, fortunately only the building was damaged.

    Meanwhile, the ultimate source of the Taliban, the madrassas of Pakistan, have stared down General Musharraf, who had wanted them to expel all their foreign students.

    On a light-hearted note, the following were concerns of some in Houston, TX (via

    Apparently, one Dr. Aamer Liaquat Hussain is the most famous host and personality on the popular Pakistani TV channel - Geo - where he hosts a program called "Aalim Online". I presume that this program is an Islamic/Koranic version of the Dr. Laura Schlessinger show on the radio in the US.

    Well, this Dr. Hussain is in town and was on the local Pakistani radio two days ago. Like in Aalim Online, the locals were invited to call in with questions and concerns, to which Hussain would then provide "Islamic" answers. It made for some interesting listening. Two such calls from local Pakitanis, one funny and the other incredibly so, were these:

    (1) I often get invited to visit and eat in the house of Hindoos. Is it "permissible" to eat that which is touched by Hindoos?

    Answer: Well, you must understand that you are living in Dar-ul-Kufr and so you must adjust. As long as you don't make this a habit, you are given permission.

    (2) A-o-A, mein Abdul Qadeer bol raha hoon. {I am Abdul Qadeer speaking.} Well, I had to go to my medical doctor recently and he asked me to take a urine test. The nurse then handed me a plastic cup and I did the needful. But unfortunately, when I gave the cup back, the nurse stuck a label on it and wrote the word "Qadeer" on it.

    I was so offended by this that one of the prophet's name was written on something like this. What should I do?

    Answer: (even the Geo host is slightly taken aback). Well, Abdulbhai, your jazba for our prophet (SAW), is commendable. But in this case, it is okay to let the nurse be.

    No, I am not making this up...

    { In Islamic theology - the world is divided into Dar-ul-Islam or abode of Islam and Dar-ul-Kufr or abode of the infidels. Dar-ul-Harb or abode of war is the area in Dar-ul-Kufr where the battle to establish the supremacy of Islam is taking place. To engender peace between Muslims and non-believers, some theologians have introduced Dar-ul-Aman or abode of peace, where the infidels reign, but Muslims are not hindered from practicing Islam. Please note that non-hindrance usual includes following Islamic jurisprudence. India, with its separate civil law for Muslims (but common criminal law) is sometimes termed Dar-ul-Aman. Of course, jihadis from you-know-where are busy trying to undermine that. }