Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Independence Day

As I often proclaim in my blogs, reality always wins over all virtualisations of it.

Much is said about the colonisation and the influences of it on the local cultures.
Objective observations lead to the general conclusion, that once the colonisators left the colonies, the independence of the latter has not led to prosperity for their populations. Often these countries fared not well, as can be seen in Congo, once a Belgian colony, and India, one of the British colonies as we all well know.

As one struggles to understand nowadays India, one of the historically evidenced British policies is to be taken seriously into account: Macaulayism.
The word 'Macaulayism' is derived from the name of Thomas Macaulay, an English poet and politician who lived from 1800 till 1859. In 1830 he became a Member of British Parliament and as such he influenced the Brits India-politics to a great deal.

From his political testament two attitudes towards own and local (colonised) cultures are striking:

1) The superiority of the colonisator's culture

These are his words: "I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed, both here and at home, with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the oriental learning at the valuation of the orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education.”
Another citation: "It is said that the Sanscrit and the Arabic are the languages in which the sacred books of a hundred millions of people are written, and that they are on that account entitled to peculiar encouragement. Assuredly it is the duty of the British Government in India to be not only tolerant but neutral on all religious questions. But to encourage the study of a literature, admitted to be of small intrinsic value, only because that literature inculcated the most serious errors on the most important subjects, is a course hardly reconcilable with reason, with morality, or even with that very neutrality which ought, as we all agree, to be sacredly preserved. It is confined that a language is barren of useful knowledge. We are to teach it because it is fruitful of monstrous superstitions. We are to teach false history, false astronomy, false medicine, because we find them in company with a false religion."

I don't think the tendency of these words need to be explained. Nowadays westerners should be very aware that their self-proclaimed cultural 'superiority' is in fact possibly leading to the destruction of mankind and even earth.

Despite our western 'enlightened', 'French-revolutionised' and 'scientific' thinking, western culture has simply no clue how to behave in a world which is bigger than what the mind can grasp and control.
All signs are there that in one or another way western culture lost something along the way, by limiting thinking to rational and serial thinking, to the execution of plans, assuming that the world, including societies, are rational in se.

Of course, Thomas Macaulay was a child of his time. He could not know then that his conviction of western 'superiority' would be refuted two hundred years later by the outcome of it in reality.
Nevertheless, such convictions have proven to be false by the effects.
Though I'm not religious myself, I consider the current culture in the west and it's basic assumptions to not contain enough elements any more to provide an effective (in reality) and (thus) truthful world view. Ratio, logic, serial thinking, the omission of all religious elements and traditions in thinking can only lead to an artificial view on humans and societies.
And we all know by now to what this kind of artificiality leads.

2) The destruction of cultures by the British colonisators

While the cultural colonisation of Belgian Congo was inspired by the Catholic religion, the British colonisator seems to have taken a more practical, organisational and logical-rational approach.

Thomas Macaulay's words: "It is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population."

After 60 years of independence, India still seems to doubt between its Hindu/Muslim/Sikh/Jain/... deeply religious culture (I explicitly take the same stand towards all religions you find here) and this western ideology of "western taste, opinions, morals and intellect".
One can feel throughout the society that Indians are teached to admire the 'superior' white culture. One can feel daily that the result of this is kind of an 'underdog' sentiment towards the own identity, which leads often to a exaggerated and wrong-placed arrogance in fields which are not to the point.

Indians are quite easy-going and optimistic in nature, which is one of the great pleasures to be here. For everything there's a solution given that you have the time to interact with people. Indians themselves express their basic attitude as "To Live and Let Live".

I think that this basic Indian attitude is the reason why this Macaulayism in the organisational levels is still so apparent.
But ... we see the effects of colonisation and 60 years of Macaulayist independence: the country quickly evolutes into pure chaos.

I have asked this in previous blogs: Where are the (religious inspired) Indian intellectuals able to make a cultural synthesis of this beautiful religious heritage and to outline a blueprint for self-defined development of this country. Take the good things from the West, but for God's sake don't deny and abuse your mainly Hindu/Islamic heritage.
1.2 billion people are depending on you and will support you.

Don't reach out to become a weak copy of a perceived and manipulated image of the west.
Search for India's soul with your common people instead.

When will India's soul become truly independent?


Manish said...

It is not possible to recover a nation's soul if 85% of its people are made to feel ashamed of who they are, day in and day out.

Therefore, India's soul will become independent only when it is released from the clutches of gandhian platitudes and nehruvian lies, both of whom conspired to kill the essential Hindu core of India's soul in the name of their perverted version of secularism.

Tony said...

Hi Manish,
I'm not ready yet to evaluate Gandhi and being a westerner, I don't feel specifically an urge to condemn Gandhi's symbolic image. Especially not if this would lead to a possible repression of other religions.
I do know by now however that the Indian image-copying from the west is not only often leading to hilarious scenes in India, but what is worse is that in a time where the west should become very humble about its basic assumptions, this Indian simulating is leading to destruction and more suffering in India itself ... and possibly to a historical loss in worldview for mankind.
Thanks for your reaction.

Manish said...

Unless you evaluate Gandhi, you can never understand the Indian mind. through our school textbooks and through the con-gress party, he's steeped so deep into the indians' subconsious mind that his woolly ideas continue to kill india bit by bit even 60+ years after his death.

take the independence of india today on 15th august. there is a false perception, very strongly held in india, that gandhi got us our independence. and then the argument is extended to say that if by follwing gandhism, we could defeat the most powerful empire of the world, then gandhism is good for solving any problem anytime anywhere. and thus his woolly ideas get even more firmly implanted in india's mind.

the truth behind india's independence is very different --

gandhi did have a role to play but only a minor one.

Harsh said...

As an Indian, I also have my views on Mr. Gandhi. I think a false perception cannot be so strong that it will influence millions of people in India and rest of the World. If we say that it is spreaded by one particular political party then we should also think that Gandhi is known figure for South Africa also. Rest of the World also know him because of his work for others.

Gandhi initiated "satyagrah", a fight without any Gun/Sword. It was a non-violence fight with Truth as a tool.

Standing without any arms against enemy for fight needs more courage than fighing with arms.

Gandhi once stated "that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence"

He taught people how to fight without arms when people were not having arms to fight.

In Martin Luther King Jr words
"Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics".

Nonviolence fight requires incredible faith and courage, which he realised not everyone possessed. He therefore advised that everyone need not keep to nonviolence, especially if it were used as a cover for cowardice.

As per my personal point of view, I would say Gandhi was a legend. He played a major role for our freedom and keeping our culture safe for future generations.

Freedom fighters like "Bhagat Singh" "Chandra Sekar Azad" and "Subhash Chandra Bose" also played equal major role.

I admire all of them from my heart.

Lets make India more better....I LOVE MY INDIA.

Tony said...

Hi Harsh,
Nice to receive your message.
Well, apart from the discussion about Gandhi in India (in which I can have no part yet), I recall my own lessons in Catholic religion, where Gandhi was extensively mentioned as one of the worldclass symbolic historical people available to mankind.
In those times I was really impressed by his teachings and it would be hard to find an equal strong message as Gandhi's attitude in modern day figures. He was very unique as a symbol, no matter if all of it is true or not.
I would make a distinction between:
- the general undiscussible value and unique proposition of Gandhiism to mankind
- the possible damaging effects Gandhiism has on modern day Indian minds (for me this still has to be proven).

I belief that Gandhi's own mindset, however very consistent in itself, perhaps cannot be a meaningful basis to lead a country of so many people, in a world which is so much dominated by the logic of power instead of the logic of love.

For me this is still an open question.

Regarding the 'Catholic goals' you are mentioning. Europe nowadays still is Catholic in essence, but the Catholic institution is becoming rapidly of no-importance anymore, if still something is left of it at all. And I belief we Europeans all enjoy the removal of the institution from our daily lives. Still the basic moral assumptions in our culture are very catholic in nature.

Perhaps Gandhiism is very good, but it could still be that, when applied in reality as a "technique", it is disastruous.
Even if Indian independence could be attributed only to Gandhi (which is not the case), then that would not be a sufficient reason to say that Gandhi developed an efficient technique for surviving in this world as an Indian.

Gandhi as symbolic ideal? I have no problems with this.
Gandhi as ideological framework to execute power politics and change the world? Perhaps this is simply not workable!

However, I do not agree with Manish and I tend to agree with you that Gandhiism alone cannot cause all the desorientation I find in nowadays India.
At least some vulnerability must be in Hinduism itself.

Does this make both unvaluable or untruthfull? Certainly not. In many of my blogs I say that the world should cherish Hinduism. With my very limited knowledge of it, from what I see, it's probably the most truthfull religion on earth.