Saturday, July 27, 2019

History and Modernity

Bernard Cohn (1928-2003) was a professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago who studied India extensively.  In his essay, "The Pasts of an Indian Village" (1961), Cohn examines the various pasts as remembered by the peoples of Senapur village in Uttar Pradesh, India.  The various groups, Thakurs, Chamars, Brahmins, Muslims and Telis, all have a different narrative regarding their  "legendary" past, as well as that of the past several generations.

Cohn goes on to note:

All Americans share a past created by our educational system and media of mass communication.  We can invoke this past and have it be meaningful across regional and class lines.  Indians do not as yet share such a past.  An appeal for action on the part of the central government, based on what is thought to be a universal identification with a traditional or historic past, is meaningless or leads to antagonistic reactions of major parts of the population...... 
I would speculate that a society is modern when it does have a past, when this past is shared by the vast majority of the society, and when it can be used on a national basis to determine and validate behavior. 
A shared history that can be used to determine and validate behavior.  I wonder if such exists even in that bastion of modernity, the United States of America, where there are many competing histories - of the Yankee North, of the Lost Cause South, of the African-Americans, of the Latinos, of the native Americans; and those of the various immigrant groups.   In terms of sheer numbers, perhaps the first two are the most important. 

But it was just a speculation on Cohn's part.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Harper’s Index: thermostat and test scores

Percentage change in women’s math test scores in a room that is between 80° and 90° F rather than 60° and 70° F : +27
In men’s math test scores : –7
Traced the source to:
Battle for the thermostat: Gender and the effect of temperature on cognitive performance

The math test in question was adding pairs of five digit numbers, 50 pairs in five minutes.
The verbal test was given the letters ADEHINRSTU, build as many (German) words as possible in 5 minutes.
"Our sample consisted exclusively out of students from universities in Berlin. The advantages of this subject pool is that they are relatively easy to recruit and homogenous in their cognitive skills. The disadvantage of this subject pool is that it is not representative of the whole population with respect to age and education level. 
About the results:
"Taken together, these results show that within a temperature range of 16 and 33 degrees Celsius, females generally exhibit better cognitive performance at the warmer end of the temperature distribution while men do better at colder temperatures. The increase in female cognitive performance appears to be driven largely by an increase in the number of submitted answers. We interpret this as evidence that the increased performance is driven in part by an increase in effort. Similarly, the decrease in male cognitive performance is partially driven by a decrease in observable effort. Importantly, the increase in female cognitive performance is larger and more precisely estimated than the decrease in male performance."
 What this result establishes, IMO, is that each person, or at least student in Berlin, tends to put forth most effort in a indoor temperature setting that suits them.   This may have some relevance to supposedly gender-neutral tests, the test setting may be important.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Stanislaus versus State of Madhya Pradesh - Historical Context

Rev Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh, 1977 SCR (2) 611, is a matter where the Supreme Court of India considered the issue whether the fundamental right to practise and propagate religion includes the right to convert, held that the right to propagate does not include the right to convert and therefore upheld the constitutional validity of the laws enacted by Madhya Pradesh and Orissa legislatures prohibiting conversion by force, fraud or allurement.

Here is a timeline.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

More China is in a hurry

NBC reports
China's rising tech scene threatens U.S. brain drain as 'sea turtles' return home
Silicon Valley was "a little bit slow for us," said Shenzhen-based entrepreneur Jason Gui, one of millions of Chinese people who were educated in the U.S.

Monday, July 15, 2019

New comments policy

Henceforth, any comment that in my judgment indicates that the commenter has not even scanned the posted material will be simply deleted.  Attempts to derail a discussion will also be deleted.  In this I am following Peter Woit’s polcy on his blog.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Religious Freedom and the Limits of Propagation: Conversion in the Constituent Assembly of India

Article: link (PDF)
Religious Freedom and the Limits of Propagation: Conversion in the Constituent Assembly of India
Sarah Claerhout and Jakob De Roover


In discussions about religious freedom in India, the country’s conflict regarding conversion plays a central role. The Constitution’s freedom of religion clause, Article 25, grants the right “freely to profess, practise and propagate religion,” but this has generated a dispute about the meaning of the right ‘to propagate’ and its relation to the freedom to convert. The recognition of this right is said to be the result of a key debate in the Constituent Assembly of India. To find out which ideas and arguments gave shape to this debate and the resulting religious freedom clause, we turn to the Assembly’s deliberations and come to a surprising conclusion: indeed, there was disagreement about conversion among the Assembly members, but this never took the form of a debate. Instead, there was a disconnect between the member’s concerns, objections, and comments concerning the draft article on the one hand, and the Assembly’s decision about the religious freedom clause on the other. If a key ‘debate’ took this form, what then could the ongoing dispute concerning conversion in India be about? We first examine some recent historiographical accounts of the Indian conflicts about conversion and proselytization. Then we develop a hypothesis that aims to make sense of this enduring conflict by identifying a blindness at its core: people reasoning against the background of Indian traditions see ‘propagation of religion’ as the human dissemination of tradition; this is incompatible with a religious conception where conversion and propagation of faith are seen in terms of God’s intervention. These two ways of seeing ‘propagation’ generate two conflicting experiences of the Indian dispute about religious freedom and conversion.


If for nothing else,  the glimpses of actual debates in the Indian Constituent Assembly are a reason to read this paper.

Green news: Indic women reforesters

Swarajya Magazine reports.

In Uttarakhand:

The Mahila Mangal Dal groups consisting of women volunteers also take up reforestation drives and do the valuable work towards linking trees and the planting of trees with the region's intangible heritage, festivals, rituals, weddings, and cultural events in the region.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Count of generations

If I take my maternal grandparents as generation 0, then already my family has generation 3 and generation 4 family members who are the same age (actually some generation 4 who are older by a few years than generation 3).

Is this just an anomaly of the modern age with extended maternal and child survival compared to the norm over 100K years of human existence? 

When geneticists try to estimate generation counts over aeons, I wonder what models they use.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

More on Indian secularism

Readers here should have noticed a peculiar situation.  Here I am, advocating SNB's position that India never produced a religion, and on the other hand, I do talk about Indian secularism, secularism and its failures in the Indian Constitution, etc., as though there is a Hindu religion. 

The problem is that we must hold two inconsistent sets of ideas in our mind - one to deal with India as it is today, with the language of "religion" and the current set of Constitutional laws; and the other to deal with India as it should be, if SNB's intellectual revolution ever catches fire.  In that mode, there is no Hinduism religion that needs to be accorded any freedom of religion, but something quite different; and we have to invent the mechanism that this collection of entities that goes under the name of Hinduism lives with the imported religions in India.

Of course, it may be true that too much water has flowed down the Ganga, and that Hindus can't now ever overthrow their religion and be this something else.

Anyway, SNB and Jakob de Roover spell out the consequences of the Hindu traditions being interpreted as a religion in this long, but don't tl;dr read.

Dark Hour of Secularism: Hindu Fundamentalism and Colonial Liberalism in India

China is in a hurry

NPR audio

"Bob Wimmer is a scientist at the University of Kiel in Germany who built a radiation detector for Chang'e 4 {China's lunar lander on the far side of the moon}.  He says the speed at which the Chinese work is astonishing.
"European missions are extremely slow, the Americans are about twice as fast, and the Chinese are a factor of two to five faster than the Americans."
From the moment he got funding to the moment his experiment launched, was just over a year, which is nothing for a space mission.
"It is just incredibly intense."
We all have to speed up too, or else pay tribute to our new overlords. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

In India, a Hindu wife cannot inherit from a Muslim husband

When, in India, a Hindu woman marries a Muslim man,

the marriage of a Hindu female with a Muslim male is not a regular or valid (sahih) marriage, but merely an irregular (fasid) marriage.
Thus has the Supreme Court of India ruled, January 22 of this year.  The Court further notes that "the legal effect of a fasid marriage is that" the wife "is not entitled to inherit the properties of the husband".

The Supreme Court judgement is available here (Google Drive Link, hope it works).

The only proponents for the Uniform Civil Code that the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution call for, are the so-called Hindu nationalists.   The so-called secularists don't want to fix these kinds of problems.

PS: Until this problem is fixed, anyone who finds inter-religious marriages of Hindu women with Muslim men to acceptable has to be termed as a anti-Hindu misogynist.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Quote on the "secular" Indian Constitution

“In crucial respects the Constitution is a charter for the reform of Hinduism.”

Law and Society in Modern India by Marc Galanter (1989)

Friday, July 05, 2019

Aanandaa Farms