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Showing posts from September, 2006

About Sati practice in India

I read an essay by Ashis Nandy that contends that the epidemic of sati in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century was mainly a product of British colonial intrusion into Indian society. The popularity of the rite and its abolition in response to a reform movement were two phases in Indian society’s attempt to cope with large-scale environmental and cultural changes; that both these changes involved the invalidation and distortion of traditional attitude to women and femininity. It was prevalent mostly in Bengal and was partly a primitive Malthusian means of population control in famine-ridden Bengal. The author (Ashis Nandy) of the essay was not concerned with the origins of the practice but with its sudden revival in the Bengali society in the face of changes brought in the society due to British rule. Secondly, in Bengal and some parts of eastern India, we have dayabhaga system of Hindu law so; Sati was a way of solving property disputes. I think these two still are the m

Idealist Pandit Nehru

On May 9, 1947 Brigadier Cariappa (he was yet to become a General) suggested at a private meeting that once the British had left there should be a military dictatorship. The force, ‘with either Nehru or Jinnah as Commander-in-Chief should take over power’. Mountbatten replied that such a course of action would be ‘not only wholly impractical but highly dangerous’. From- ‘Divide and Quit’ by Penderel Moon , London 1961 page 755 As you might have observed it were two men with army background talking about a possible solution to India’s problem. What purpose would have been served if India had taken control of the whole of Kashmir in Military action (which sorry to break your heart would have been impossibility then and is even now unless we want to create our own Afghanistan?), we still would have had to deal with the Kashmir problem. The problem in Kashmir was of political nature and Nehru was trying to find a political solution when he agreed to the pleblicite. Kashmir is today part

Karl Marx said so. So…

In a speech Marx gave in London in 1856, he startled his audience by concluding with this story: To revenge the misdeeds of the ruling class, there existed in the Middle Ages, in Germany, a secret tribunal called the vehmgericht (secret court). If a red cross was seen marked on a house, people knew that its owner was doomed by the ‘Vehm.’ Marx ended his speech ominously: All the houses of Europe are now marked with the mysterious red cross. History is the judge-its executioner, the proletarians. That would have been one helluva performance. A lot of people would be interested to know if they used silver in house.

The Elitist called Pandit nehru

About elitism of Nehru, let me tell you about the incident that took place during his arrest at the start of Quit India movement. Nehru, who was arrested at a family flat in Bombay, later described the start of the Quit India movement as ‘the zero hour of the world’. According to one of his biographers,’the household staff was hardly unfamiliar with arrests. They quickly laid out a breakfast, which Jawaharlal loved: a bowl of cornflakes, eggs, bacon, toast, coffee. the inspector saw the spread and said there was no time for breakfast.” shut up!” said Nehru.” I intend having breakfast before I go.” India’s future prime minister was to be kept in prison for 1040 days. From “Nehru: the making of India” by M.J. Akbar , London 1988 page 349 Later as the train, reached Poona, instead of being whistled through as planned, the stationmaster had arranged for some urgent shunting to take place, and the train had to stop. Seeing a crowd of congress supporters on the platform being charged by l

Saintly Sinner: Mahatma gandhi

Gandhi was visibly depressed during his last days. According to political psychologist Ashis Nandy : “If Gandhi in his depression connived at it, he also perhaps felt- being the shrewd, practical idealist he was-that he had become somewhat of an anachronism in post-partition, independent India; and in violent death he might be more relevant to the living than he could be in life. As not a few have sensed, like Socrates and Christ before him. Gandhi knew how to use man’s sense of guilt creatively.” Did Gandhi know what he was doing? He once said: “I find no parallel in history for a body of converts and their descendants claiming to be a nation apart from the parent stock. If India was one nation before the advent of Islam, it must remain one in spite of the change of faith of a very large body of her children” Gandhi in “Jinnah of Pakistan” by Stanley Wolpert , New Delhi 1985(1st edn 1984) page 232-3. Ironically, the same line became a battle cry for BJP in the 90s.

The Assassin named Nathuram Godse

Gandhi’s assassin was born in 1910, in a small village in the margin of the Bombay-Poona conurbation. He was the eldest son and the second child in a family of four sons and two daughters. His father was Vinayak R .Godse, a petty government official who worked in the postal department and had a transferable job, which took him to small urban settlements over the years. Three sons had been born to him before Nathuram and all three had died in infancy. Both Vinayak and his wife were devoted and orthodox Brahmans and, understandably, they sought a religious solution to the problem of the survival of their newborn son. The result was the use of a time-honored technique: Nathuram was brought up as a girl. His nose was pierced and he was made to wear a nath or nose ring. It is thus that he came to acquire the name Nathuram, even though his original name was Ram Chandra. Such experiences often go with a heightened religiosity and a sense of being chosen. In this instance, too, the child soon