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?