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Virtual Assests- Potential Red Flag for Terrorism financing

Virtual Assets- Potential Red Flags for Illegal Activity

Virtual assets are any digital representation of value which can be traded or invested in a particular environment, it can be used as a means of exchange or store of value among a given group or community. The scope of virtual assets go far beyond crypto currencies, they may or may not be assigned values in fiat currency. Blockchain technology that gained traction in the past decade has created a new world in finance and subsequently money laundering and terrorism finance.

Case studies done between 2017-2020 showed that the majority of crimes committed using virtual assets were money laundering offences. The criminal world has also taken advantage of Virtual Assets, the types of crimes include sale of controlled substances, fraud and tax evasion, human trafficking, illicit pornography, extortion and other crimes. The layers of security and anonymity offered by virtual asset providers makes it an ideal ground for illegal activity.

Some commonly acknowledged guidelines for knowing if a transaction should be red flagged include: a small number of large transactions from an inactive account during a short period of time, in some cases account holders who had incomplete or fraudulent profiles with constantly changing addresses or details. Large transactions preceded by a period of inactivity or by people unfamiliar with VA technology was found to be a sign of ransom cases. Constantly changing unrelated IP addresses were a major indicator of cybercrime. Another common trend was to link the VA assets to various shell corporations and fake businesses, this trend was prevalent in money laundering as well as criminal funding. The AEC Currencies that charge extra to ensure more privacy also known as “private coins” are found to be widely used for purchase of controlled substances including but not limited to firearms. Most commonly used tipoff points are the existence of discrepancies between the customers’ profiles and the IP addresses used or the age of the user is not in the nominal range.

IP addresses or browsers linked to the dark web is a major indicator of illicit activity, as seen in the Alphabay case. AlphaBay was one of the largest criminal darknet markets dismantled by authorities in 2017, it was used by hundreds of thousands of people to buy and sell illegal drugs, stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and toxic chemicals over a two-year span. The site operated as a hidden service on the TOR network to conceal the locations of its underlying servers as well as the identities of its administrators, moderators, and users. AlphaBay vendors used a number of different types of VAs, and had approximately 200 000 users, 40 000 vendors, 250 000 listings and facilitated more than USD 1 billion in VA transactions between 2015 and 2017.

All the above are subject to change under various circumstances. The problem with tracing virtual assets that are used in money laundering and other illicit financial activity is that the volume of transactions among the various networks that exist is enormous. We currently do not have the technology to trace and identify each potential red flag. The guidelines provide a basic identifying mechanism, and it is up to law enforcement nationally and globally to adapt to the same to catch if not prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.

References- http://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/recommendations/Virtual-Assets-Red-Flag-Indicators.pdf

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/virtualassets/documents/virtual-assets.html?hf=10&b=0&s=desc(fatf_releasedate)

Humanitarian Response to Maharashtra Drought Disaster: Marathwada Case Study

Humanitarian Response to Maharashtra Drought Disaster: Marathwada Case Study

 
 
The ramification of climate change has led to an upsurge in humanitarian aid in the fashion of providing basic sustenance like food, shelter and medical care. The aftermath is chaotically weighted against the impoverished poverty-stricken masses with the infinitesimal collateral assets to overcome climate shocks and stresses. Humanitarian relief can help to focus on the repercussions of climate-related crunches, but a massive escalation in international efforts is needed to alleviate and acclimate to global warming, curtail the liability of disasters and restrain the suffering. Paltry levels of precipitation over the years coupled with insufficient and irregular rain gave rise to precipitated drought conditions in western parts of India. It is the most distressed and has recorded moderate to severe drought conditions in most of its districts.
When societies are affected by drought, FAO caters for support to help them quickly get back on their feet and start producing food. In the aftermath of drought, cash transfer mechanisms are provided to the neediest and underprivileged people, while refurbishing vital irrigation framework, water reservoirs and feeder roads which will boost food production in the longer term. In the most drought-prone areas, people are provided with cattle to rebuild their herds and ensure they can keep producing milk as a source of income. Farmers are encouraged and provided with quality seeds and farming inputs as well as given new ideas about investing in drought-resistant techniques which can be adapted, in time for the next rains. Millets and other drought-resistant crops are also advised to be grown in regular intervals to avoid the scarcity of food shortage and famine.
 
More than fifteen per cent of the citizenry accounting largely for hundred and thirty million netizens, across seventy thousand villages and two hundred and thirty urban hamlets are affected due to drought. Women and children being the most susceptible segment of the drought-affected population. In the severely distressed areas, roughly sixty million people – including nine million children, one and half million pregnant women and lactating women – comprise the high-risk group. The obligatory duty of walking long distances to obtain water often falls on women and juvenile girls. The livelihood of the rural population has also been affected as cattle have died from starvation and agricultural production has been threatened. As a result, seasonal migration was amplified, with whole communities going to nearby cities. of families found shelter, food, water, and some work in the government’s relief camps in the most affected districts.
 
The paucity of water has provoked the poor and marginalized sections with thousands of liter available water. With the emergence of drought, the level of salinity and fluoride has increased in all areas. The water tables have dropped below normal and are significantly very low. Handpumps operations have broken down in several places due to poor maintenance and excessive usage. Excessive pumping of groundwater to cope with drought impacts have led to groundwater depletion, which not only poses a serious threat but is also, an important concern of Maharashtra State.
 
In the Marathwada region, water scarcity is not rare in summer – although its severity is exceptional at times leading the Governments at central and state levels to be prepared and to develop and come up with contingency plans. One of the large-scale governmental strategies is to authorize relief camps where families were provided with work, shelters, food, and health care. Care and protection for women and children were a priority in these camps. They are provided with health care, nutrition and education.
 
With the onset of the monsoon, some of the relief camps start terminating and operations get ceased for a time being, the Government, continues to seek support from international agencies, with its efforts to help the most affected population in the mid and long-term. Indeed, with the emergency phase being called off, after the onset of the monsoon, it is of utmost importance to intensify the root causes of the crunch and bring resolutions for the long run. Drought-prone states of Maharashtra need to develop strategies and policies and mobilize adequate resources to prevent future severe droughts.
 
In the lexicon of great needs, it has been imperative for United Nations to carefully design its assistance. While UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women along WHO released immediate assistance through its state offices, it was decided to focus on long-term assistance to help mitigate such situations in the future.
 
United Nation’s acknowledgement for drought mitigation in the affected areas is a methodology based on a swift investigation conducted through field visits and via series of dialogues with Government counterparts. The predominant objective is to equip immediate relief to women and children in the water distressed localities and to curb health issues, including epidemic outbreaks like famine, diarrhoea, malnutrition and dehydration. Instant relief operations are carried out by nodal agencies like UNICEF which significantly contributes to addressing major concerns such as availability of drinking water, primary health care for women and children nutrition and health.
 
United Nations-supported schemes for the availability of drinking water supplement efforts through tanker supply, revitalization of handpumps, power pumps and installation of new handpumps. WHO also expediated precautionary and remedial health care system through procurement of essential drugs, vitamin supplements, iron tablets, Oral Rehydration Salt packages, disinfection of drinking water and on-site sanitation facilities.
The mid-term frame of reference to bolster the availability of drinking water in rural areas: the classical long-established response to the drought-related dearth of water has been to devise new sources, further capitalization of existing sources or bring water to improvised areas by tankers and trains. This technique of methodology has not been altered in the last several decades, although such mediations have failed to provide lasting solutions.
 
Sources of Drinking water can be maintained by administering substantial environmental protection and management of the water sources at regular monitoring, with the help of community participation. This can be enacted by rain-water harvesting at catchment areas through the systematic erection of check dams and other recharge methods of architectures. This also equips an alternate source of employment to the natives, as pastoral activities have ceased due to crop failure and fiasco in the loss of cattle. UNICEF campaigns strongly about the construction, maintenance and management of these structures should be upheld at the community level via the locally elected bodies like panchayat. At the household level, rainwater rooftop harvesting will be promoted as an option to ensure household water security.
 
In consultation with the State Governments and nodal governing agencies, the United Nations is determined strongly to aim attention at its efforts in the mid-and long-term results to devote to drought prevention. Indeed, empiricism at the grass-root status depicts that planning at the micro-level, involvement of the localities and community-based solutions, will allow interior villages and hamlets to prevent the detrimental fallout of water scarcity. Along with the Government and civil society, UNICEF works constantly to support these causes and to develop a stable and safe environment and policies. At the end of May 2000, UNICEF led a joint UN mission to identify long-term initiatives.
 
For a sustainable long run, UNDP, are engaged in functioning side by side with the state governments to expedite and promote the evolution of adequate and competent policies and programmes for drought-prone areas. It comprises facilitating the decentralization and fragmentation for better management of water sources at the individual and community level. The ultimate challenge is to maintain the higher interests and greater good for all by the decision-makers in issues on water, after the onset of monsoon and termination of drought. In Maharashtra, at the request and initiative of the state government, UNDP along with various UN nodal agencies continues to support the development of a white paper on water management.
 
 
To be legitimate, impartial, principled and fair, the government has been proactive in dealing with matters related to the drought situation, but a lot more can be achieved with the advancement of science and technology. To date, the focal drought preparedness proposal and procedure consist of just donating money in the name of ministerial funds or alternative packages to the affected people. Also, the cattle shades, school programs, women empowerment schemes and initiatives are mostly undertaken by CSR or stakeholders other than the government. They do provide water by tankers or by using train water supply, but serious examination should be about the feasibility of such measures prevailing in modern times. We can utilize and call for action new water harvesting technologies to save water during the monsoons. For instance, cash crops that require lots of precipitation intake should be cultivated depending upon the availability of water. Also, the usage of green or natural pesticides and the practice of local HYV seeds should be given utmost preference over western technologies. Also providing insurance will be a great help to the farmers apart from setting up local agricultural banks which will provide loans to farmers.
For projects on large-scale water harvesting, they can rely on NREGA schemes, which will give them an interim livelihood and sustainability in the future. The alignment of NREGA with agricultural programmes and allied sectors will lead to enhanced yields. The scope of works under NREGA is under expansion to include lands of small marginal farmers, it is now possible to significantly enhance the irrigation potential in rain-fed areas and drought-proof small-holder agriculture, leading to sustainable and higher yields.
 
The main aspiration of the NREGA proposal is to implement complementing recruitment chances with the auxiliary objective of eco-restoration & renewal of the natural resource base for viable rural livelihood. This will aid in transparency and accountability to permeate rural governing bodies, leading to the calcification of grassroots level democracy. The following water-based projects are listed under the domain of the NREGA scheme for drought preparedness.
• Water harvesting
• Desalting of tanks
• Micro and minor irrigation works
• Renovation of traditional water
• Provision of irrigation facilities bodies
• Flood control and protection works.
 
 
 
Directions and guidelines given in the program are aligned to SFDRR priorities. The AIDMI team is devoted to achieving activities mentioned in the proposal in AIDMI’s ongoing projects and activities. The NDMP provides a framework and guidelines to the governmental agencies for all stages and aspects of the disaster management cycle. The NDMP is a “dynamic report” in the sense that it will be improved regularly keeping up with the ongoing global best practices and knowledge base in disaster management in lieu to the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the guidance given in the National Policy on Disaster Management, 2009 (NPDM), and the established national practices with the country.
 
Poverty and risk to disasters are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. The poor section of the society is worst affected in case of disaster. The situation further aggravates due to the compulsion of the poor to exploit environmental resources for their survival, increasing the risk and exposure of the society to disasters, in particular those triggered by flood, drought and landslides. Poverty also compels the poor to migrate and live at physically more vulnerable locations, often on unsafe land and in unsafe shelters. These inhabitations of the poor at such locations are either because there is no other land available at a reasonable cost or it is close to the employment opportunities. The inhabitants of the poor people on marginal land are prone to all types of disasters. The type of construction of these houses further deteriorates the condition. These dwellings made up of low-cost material without giving much consideration to technical aspect are easy targets of various hazards.
 
Drought is a recurrent phenomenon in Maharashtra State. Recently Maharashtra State has experienced a drought of moderate severity which commenced in 2011 and continued, expanded and further deteriorated into 2012. This drought, along with the other droughts that have occurred previously, threatened the agrarian economy of the Maharashtra State and caused considerable social and economic impacts on farming communities. Farmers were aware of the drought and also well perceived the various socio-economic and environmental impacts of drought in the Upper Bhima catchment. Failure of agriculture subsequently resulted in a lack of employment for unskilled labourers, which further exacerbated their livelihood situation and ultimately weakened the financial situation of farmers. Poor farmers affected by drought could not afford to participate in the celebration of festivals and showed a common tendency of postponement of wedding ceremonies due to drought. Less-educated farmers reported that drought-driven water scarcity has caused conflicts in society. It is also found that farmers from frequent and severe drought-affected areas considered drought as the main cause of suicidal tendencies due to lower incomes and high indebtedness. Environmental impacts of drought were perceived to be high to very high.
 
 
To mitigate the drought impacts farmers used various drought preparedness and adaptation measures. With the anticipated drought, farmers stored crop harvest (grains), stored crop residues for livestock, saved money, migrated for employment, sold livestock for income generation (and also because they were unable to provide food and water for the livestock), and sought an alternative source of income through employment under NREGA, labour for local construction work, sand mining etc. Although farmers were familiar with autonomous adaptation options in agriculture, less preference was given to their adoption. It is found that low education, small landholdings size and low incomes were major constraints in the adoption of these adaptation strategies discussed earlier.
 
Recurring drought is a major challenge in the Drought Prone Area of Maharashtra State in India. Agriculture (e.g., rainfed cropping and livestock) is the primordial income activity of over 64% of the state’s population. The objective of this case study is to grasp and comprehend the rural farming community’s perception of drought impacts on their socio-economic activities and environment, their adaptation at the household level and opinions on government drought mitigation measures.
 
Special attention should be given to while designing and formulating policies for increasing community resilience to future drought events. Also, the extent of irrigation was found to not affect the farmer’s perception of drought impacts and adoption of adaptation strategies, mainly due to a prolonged drought with moderate to severe intensity over the whole catchment. Emphasis should be given to water harvesting techniques to increase the extent of irrigation coverage. Besides household-level adaptation measures, administrative strategies played a very crucial role in adapting to drought. As a response to serious drought events in the state, the government has undertaken various relief measures. It was observed that the mitigation measures provided relief to affected households to some extent, but the level of satisfaction was still low amongst beneficiaries due to ineffective planning and management.
 
Responses to drought in Maharashtra. States are generally receptive under the conclusion of crisis management and poorly implemented strategies due to lack of coordination. Hence, the state calls for a change from a cognizant crisis management strategy to a more proactive game plan. This is persistent with the findings from other countries as examples through which lessons can be learnt for a greater cause and existing strategies ought to be considered for implementation in India. The case study is based on both secondary and primary data collected via a survey of 223 farming households. The results show that a decrease in the yield of cereals, horticultural crops, livestock production and loss of employment, all associated with decreased income of farmers, were the most immediate economic impacts of drought.
 
 
The NDMP assimilates substantively the technique enunciated in the Sendai Framework and help the country to meet the goals set in the framework. Equivalent water-based projects can also be used in climate change adaptation through community involvement and as means of conscious choice of livelihood. Conservation technologies should be stress-tolerant whereas providing climate-resilient varieties of seeds, drip irrigation, zero-tillage methods of agriculture, raised-bed planting, laser-levelling, Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI), can build flexible capacities to adapt with increasing water exploitation and shortage, providing “more crop per drop”. Similarly, strengthening land development practices such as land levelling, conservation bench terracing, contour and graded bunding, and pasture development prevent soil erosion and loss of organic matter. Reclamation of wastelands and degraded lands together with afforestation, horticulture plantation and agroforestry has the potential to sequester carbon both above and below ground, thereby contributing to carbon mitigation. Also, other projects such as land development, horticulture and road network development can be used for climate change adaptation in a drought situation
 
Conclusion :
 
Based on the findings for this study, the following recommendations are provided to improve farmers’ resilience and to enable farmers and governments to better
combat future droughts:
 

  • Promotion of various micro (farm) as well as macro (National) level adaptation strategies amongst farmers with the help of government officials to cope with drought.
  • Developing, introducing and implementing water harvesting practices at the community level and in situ water harvesting practices such as conservative agriculture should be introduced through community participation

 

  • During drought, about 75% of farmers use flood irrigation practice to irrigate their crops.

 

  • To save wastage of water, traditional flood irrigation practices should be changed to water-saving irrigation practices such as sprinkler or drip irrigation
  • The introduction of crops that consume less water and drought-resistant varieties of crops should be explored as a way of increasing resilience against drought and reducing crop failure in dry spells
  • Television, radio and newspapers should be used as a tool to disseminate weather information to the larger community about the current and predicted state of the drought and also drought adaptation practices
  • Although there are government drought relief measures, community-based effective planning, implementation and management should be done to overcome the failure of the relief measures.

 

UNDERSTANDING CHINESE MINDSET: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

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UNDERSTANDING CHINESE MINDSET: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE



INTRODUCTION
China has been known by many names throughout history, but the most traditional name China used to refer to itself is – ‘Zhonggou’ meaning the Middle Kingdom or the Central Kingdom. The name implies the belief that, from a cultural and historical point of view, China is the ‘centre’ of the world. China was divided into several independent states thousands of years ago but united by an emperor. As China became more united, the middle kingdom referred to the actual middleness of these states. With time the term is used for the entire country as a whole rather than a small area where the emperor used to live.
Today, China is retaking this historical position and is a significant player in the international order. It is pushing and asserting its leadership on this historical ground. To understand the nature and mindset of contemporary China, we need to look back into her history full of culture and prosperity, and the subsequent humiliation by Western powers.
ANCIENT CHINA
Ancient China was well ahead of its time, and this is an understatement. The Chinese had already built powerful bellows around 2500 years ago when the Western people did not even understand the processes involved in melting scrap metal, which could lift the temperature of furnaces high enough to allow multi-ton iron projects to be started. During the reign of the Tang Dynasty, gunpowder was invented in 850 AD; it then spread across the rest of Eurasia, after which it soon came into contact with the Europeans and the Middle East. Gunpowder’s invention in China is still heralded as one of the Four Greatest Inventions of all time since this accidental invention has now become the staple means of security for nations worldwide. The other three of the four greatest inventions are the compass (206 BC), paper making (105 AD), and movable type printing (960 AD). Another invention that has made humanity’s survival more organized was the invention of the mechanical clock during the reign of the Song Dynasty which, albeit famous, did not go down history as renowned as the other four prominent Chinese Dynasties: Shang, Zhou, Qin, and Han.
Ancient China had a system of independent states for over five hundred years, between around 770 and 221 BC. After a relatively peaceful and philosophical Spring and Autumn period, several states were at war to gain control over China. The warring states period ended with Qin’s conquest, the emperor from which the name China arrives. Qin emerged victorious and was able to unify all other states under one china, so this conquest is described as the process of unification. Since then several dynasties ruled China, remaining unified as an empire.
The idea of the Mandate of Heaven was used by Han emperors to create a powerful, centralized monarchy. The Chinese during the era of the Han dynasty had also introduced the concept of civil service or at least a prototype of the exams which would judge applicants based on their command over history, literature, and philosophy. They also built the silk road to protect their Empire from nomads of inner Asia, whom they considered as barbarians or uncivilized.
Mongol Empire invaded China in 1279 but was defeated by the Mings, who were again able to unify China. During their period China embarked on maritime expeditions to India, Indonesia, Arabia, and Africa. Trade with the Europeans was done in exchange for silver.
The succeeding dynasty and the last dynasty was the Qing Dynasty which was founded in 1644. They expanded the Chinese Empire by conquering Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan, and Mongolia. But this was the time when western countries were also strengthening.
However, this was the period when western imperialism was expanding and gaining control. Qing Dynasty clashed with western powers which ultimately led to its downfall and also the end of the dynasty rule in China.
CENTURY OF HUMILIATION
The Qing Dynasty came into power in the 17th century. Britain was fascinated with Chinese tea and other products and decided to expand trade ties with China to purchase these products. The Chinese, however, refused the bid, claiming that their Empire owns everything and that there is no need to import the products of the outside barbarians in return for their goods. However, via the city of Canton (Guangzhou), a small amount of trade with foreign countries was still carried out, and the Canton system acted as a way of managing and regulating trade with the West. Britain was dissatisfied with the scheme and wanted the restricted exchange to scale up. Opium from India was one thing that the British decided to offer, and China could not refuse it. China soon became addicted. The East India Company was exclusively responsible for the trade of opium. The Qing emperor soon realized the serious consequences, and he decided to send Commissioner Lin Zeu to Canton to stop the trade of opium. This inevitably led to a conflict known as the First Opium War and the beginning of the century of humiliation between Britain and China.
With its modern ships and technology, Britain was able to defeat China. The defeat of the Qing Dynasty came as a massive blow. The Nanking Treaty was concluded by both countries in the aftermath of the war, under which Hong Kong acceded to Britain. By providing additional privileges to extend its trade and settlement ports in China, the treaty strongly favored Britain. China was unhappy with the unequal arrangements, and the Second Opium War (1956-1960) between the two nations soon broke out, but more Western powers, including France, Russia, and the USA, supported Britain this time. Trade rights were also sought from China by the other forces involved.
Japan also fought with the Qing Dynasty in 1894 over the dominance of Korea. China was once again defeated because Japan invaded and seized control of Taiwan. Internally, the people of China, were not satisfied with the status quo and anti-foreign feelings contributed to a youth uprising, known as the Boxer rebellion. the rebellion was also suppressed by the armies of many foreign countries. All these factors led to the Qing dynasty’s eventual collapse in 1911. This ended the long history of the rule of the dynasty in China.
The Republic of China was founded after the fall of the Qing Dynasty under the leadership of the Nationalist People’s Party, also known as the Kuomintang(KMT), led by Chang Kai Shek. China was forced into World War II soon after its establishment and lost the Shantung Peninsula to Japan. Young people were upset, and communist ideologies were gaining prominence. Among those attracted was Mao Zedong, who later led the KMT against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The two parties claimed to be the real Chinese government, which kicked off a civil war in China.
Fast forward to the Sino Japanese War II when Japan invaded Manchuria in 1933, both the parties fought together against Japan. Also were supported by the Allied Powers who condemned this action of Japan. Consequently, Japan invaded Pearl Harbour in 1941 and ultimately the USA retaliated by dropping atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the Second World War. But the civil war in China continued. CCP emerged victoriously and the Nationalists had to retreat to Taiwan. And the Republic of China- mainland China became the People’s Republic of China, China that we know today.
MODERN CHINA AND THE MIDDLE KINGDOM MENTALITY
In 1949, Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China. Mao believed that only if it discarded its past could China be free and powerful. He blamed its weakness on Chinese society and tried to introduce a new spirit of Chinese nationalism with it. Under Mao, Chinese policies had a vision and purpose to expand influence by improving the domestic economy and military so that it could be stronger to strike back against the great powers that have victimized China in the past century. The drastic measures resulted in anarchy but kept China was independent and unified as well.
The CPC still respected Mao after he died, but the majority of the party did not consider his choices to be right. While they understood that a man like Mao needed to unite China under the rule of one government, they were unable to turn China into a world power. His successor, Deng Xiaoping, then brought extreme changes by opening up the Chinese economy, which changed China drastically. . Chinese economy began to grow at double-digit rates. . He advocated the ‘hiding and binding’ strategy, which implies that China should maintain a low-key role and continue to expand its development. This approach helped China to develop when big powers, including the United States, developed trade ties with China.
When President Xi Jinping came into power, things took a turn. He is known for his assertion and authority, unlike the previous strategy of hiding and biding. He vowed to restore China, to its ancient prominence and glory, which is expressed in his actions.
China became a central player in the international arena under Xi Jinping. With national pride, Xi seeks to set legitimacy. Under Xi, China is engaged in aggressive actions in the seas of South and East China, reversing the U.S. security alliance in the Asia Pacific, and has launched the Belt and Silk Road Project to be the core of the world as a way to return its ancient dominance. The rise which was peaceful two decades ago is now aggressive, and the world is trying to confront this new global power. By supporting the Chinese dream, Xi has made it clear that China will be stronger and prosperous in the future, and he will make this happen in his way!
 
CONCLUDING REMARKS
History teaches us a lot and should not be ignored. Ancient China was the oldest civilization in the world, and perhaps the most advanced. The main inventions were made long before they reached the west, but they were used by the west to conquer the east and the rest of the world. It can be inferred that China was incapacitated by the West like other colonies, but China has not forgotten its ancient origins, unlike others. There seems to be no reason for Chinese geopolitical aggression today when the world has changed and is in a different setting. What appears, though, is that history repeats itself, and it all comes down to the nature of man and the nature of his thought. Today the world is cultivating anti-China sentiments, but one thing looks certain, how much slower the process gets, China will continue on its path of gaining its ancient supremacy.
 
 
WRITTEN BY:- MANU GUPTA

French code of Nativity

Revisiting the French devised Code de l’indigénat and it’s aftermath

Written by Ritankar Mallick

Is withdrawal of troops an ongoing sudden nationalist trend or a hasty measure for the appeasement of the domestic populace? As Western powers prepare to leave their grounds in Asian and African regions, whom will these changes benefit? Quite a few questions hover around as the globe has begun to slowly fuel it’s engines either to start off or preparing to start off in the post-pandemic situation, as the current international events shape the upcoming global timeline.
Previously the occupational therapy that the colonial powers used to provide to the colonies were labeled as “civilizing the uncivilized ” or “making them westernized” and if not that exactly, then something almost similar. As the United States prepare to leave Afghani ground by September 11 of this year completely, marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. French President has been vocal about reducing the number of troops from the Military Operation Barkhane which operated in Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger.
President Macron has expressed to be committed in the Sahel region but he voiced that a “profound transformation” is on it’s way and the military operations won’t be the same anymore. With this recent move, we try to trace back to a period of time in African history to revisit the regime de I’indigenat of French colonization in Africa.
The French ruled Algeria as the colonial power for nearly 135 years. This code of nativity (Code de l’indigénat) has been an integral part of their colonial policy from the beginning. They went on to impose similar laws in the other parts of Africa as they increased their occupied territory across the continent. The French invasion ceased the Algerian slave trade and piracy but it instead summoned aggression against the resistance towards colonization resulting in bloodshed and inviting more.
The French devised a way where it relied upon its subjects to maintain their colonialism in the lands of their subjects. The policy was demographically divided into three categories which were called communes. The communes with a significant amount of French people elected their administrative bodies and were the self governing parts of the colons (colonies). The native Muslim communes elected some but had a grand chieftain who was selected to head the elected council. The communes with more uninhabitable or uninhabited places were under the military’s jurisdiction. This began after the implementation of the Royal decree of 1845 in Algeria.
But as a de facto ruler tightens it’s grip and becomes a colonial power, a small group of natives, those who exercise certain influence over the settlers come in handy for the occupiers. The small group of French speaking indigenous influential elites formed during this time mainly consisting of the Berbers, mostly Kabyles. As a consequence the French government favoured the Kabyles. Almost about 80% of the indigenous schools were constructed for the Kabyles. Similarly the French government favoured them in the local positions and vice versa.
The Code of the Indigénat categorized the citizenship of it’s population and subjects into two: the French citizens (with metropolitan descent) and French subjects, namely black Africans, Malagasy, Algerians, West Indians, Melanesians, etc. The code of the Senatus Consulte deprived them of most of their freedom and political rights; among the people, they only retain their own religious or customary descent identity.
A method of promotion was laid for the assimilation of the African people or the “civilizing” people. In July 14th 1865, the king Napoleon III in the first clause of the Senatus Consulte of full citizenship allowance request made it clear that though a Muslim or a Jew indigenous is French, even after that if he or she wants to enjoy the rights of a French citizen he or she will have to admit it, to be subjected to the political and civil laws of France. It established specific penalties for the indigenous and organised lawful dispossession of their own lands. But this wasn’t where it ended, as these establishments went through further improvements (1874, 1876, 1877, and 1881) as more offenses went on getting specified and enlisted since then. Since 1860s several changes were made in the upcoming years. The laws on exercising of public movement and assembly turned more restrictive in nature for the indigenous people. Punishment for the natives included, fines or penalty of a demotion other than the prevailing sequestration.
The attempt towards naturalization that the French government tried to carry out was very depressing. In 1865 the first clause of the Senatus Consulte highlighted the requirement of naturalization that was expected to happen for a healthy assimilation to take place. This initiative didn’t turn out well as in a country of millions they received less than 200 naturalization requests from the Muslims and nearly 160 requests from the Jews and other groups. This reaction wasn’t satisfactory at all for the French government back then.
The French administered the whole of Mediterranean region of Algeria as an integral part and departement of the nation since 1848 till the independence. When the French entered, only 1.5 million Algerians lived and when they gained independence it was more than seven times of it.
Between 1825-1847, fifty thousand French people emigrated to Algeria. These settlers benefitted from the French government’s confiscation of communal lands from the tribal peoples and the application of modern agricultural techniques that increased the amount of arable land. Many Europeans settled in Oran and Algiers, and by the early 20th century they formed a majority of the population in both cities.
The improvements of the code eventually went on widening the difference between the thought processes invested, separately for the indigenous and the French settlers from Europe. The true harsh identity of the code of the nativity was becoming visible as in 1881 some specific offenses were codified, which were to be distinguished from the crimes or acts committed in violation of the French law.
Since 1887, different powers started implementing a similar kind of native code in their respective colonies. The implementation of the native Algerian code acted as an inspiration behind the implementation of something similar or more strict for several other colonies like New Caledonia.
During the late 19th and the early 20th century; the European share was almost a fifth of the population. The French government aimed at making Algeria an assimilated part of France, and this included substantial educational investments especially after 1900. The indigenous cultural and religious resistance heavily opposed this tendency but in contrast to the other colonies of Central Asia and caucuses, kept it’s individual skills and human capital intensive agriculture alive.
Gradually, dissatisfaction among the Muslim population, which lacked political and economical status in the colonial system gave rise to demands for greater political autonomy and eventually independence from France.
In the code’s basic understanding it used to treat natives with forceful labour laws and banned the free movement of an individual and etc. The reason explaining the theory of colonialism in colonial literature as an objective of the European settlers in any part of the world has been, an attempt to civilize the inhabitants of the colonies. Similarly the French government also attempted, but the primary understanding of the code was perceived incorrectly as it should have helped the growth of institutionalism within the natives, instead it helped the settlers and the grounds for more injustice and inequality brewed.

AFGHANISTAN :- A CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

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“I dream of a day, while retaining our national identities, one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul. That is how my forefathers lived. That is how I want our grandchildren to live”

Former Prime Minister – Manmohan Singh

  1. ABSTRACT

Each country needs economic cooperation and political stability and a foothold in the international system where it has a say and is recognised for a straightforward reason: progress for the country in all spheres – economic, political, human development, infrastructure, education etc. There are many forces which come into play when one talks about Afghanistan as a region, the geopolitical factors; the relation between the Islamic world and the west; mutual relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan; the role of illegal rise of the economy through drug cartels and above all aspirations of citizens of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a place that has been tossed by unrest for over three decades.1 It has been used as a battleground for many conflicts. There are many forces which come into play when one talks about Afghanistan as a region, the geopolitical location, the relation between the Islamic world and the west and the role of illegal rise of the economy. But away from the international system Afghanistan has different ethnic groups and minorities, which leads to a twisted war other than the Soviet Invasion or the US invasion or first and the second Anglo-Afghan war.

2.                  INTRODUCTION

The Afghan state was made by the opponent pioneer powers, British-India and the former Soviet Union. Afghanistan borders have existed for the past century as a territory which has

“I dream of a day, while retaining our national identities, one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul. That is how my forefathers lived. That is how I want our grandchildren to live”

Former Prime Minister – Manmohan Singh

  1. ABSTRACT

Each country needs economic cooperation and political stability and a foothold in the international system where it has a say and is recognised for a straightforward reason: progress for the country in all spheres – economic, political, human development, infrastructure, education etc. There are many forces which come into play when one talks about Afghanistan as a region, the geopolitical factors; the relation between the Islamic world and the west; mutual relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan; the role of illegal rise of the economy through drug cartels and above all aspirations of citizens of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a place that has been tossed by unrest for over three decades.1 It has been used as a battleground for many conflicts. There are many forces which come into play when one talks about Afghanistan as a region, the geopolitical location, the relation between the Islamic world and the west and the role of illegal rise of the economy. But away from the international system Afghanistan has different ethnic groups and minorities, which leads to a twisted war other than the Soviet Invasion or the US invasion or first and the second Anglo-Afghan war.

2.                  INTRODUCTION

The Afghan state was made by the opponent pioneer powers, British-India and the former Soviet Union. Afghanistan borders have existed for the past century as a territory which has

“I dream of a day, while retaining our national identities, one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul. That is how my forefathers lived. That is how I want our grandchildren to live”

Former Prime Minister – Manmohan Singh

  1. ABSTRACT

Each country needs economic cooperation and political stability and a foothold in the international system where it has a say and is recognised for a straightforward reason: progress for the country in all spheres – economic, political, human development, infrastructure, education etc. There are many forces which come into play when one talks about Afghanistan as a region, the geopolitical factors; the relation between the Islamic world and the west; mutual relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan; the role of illegal rise of the economy through drug cartels and above all aspirations of citizens of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a place that has been tossed by unrest for over three decades.1 It has been used as a battleground for many conflicts. There are many forces which come into play when one talks about Afghanistan as a region, the geopolitical location, the relation between the Islamic world and the west and the role of illegal rise of the economy. But away from the international system Afghanistan has different ethnic groups and minorities, which leads to a twisted war other than the Soviet Invasion or the US invasion or first and the second Anglo-Afghan war.

2.                  INTRODUCTION

The Afghan state was made by the opponent pioneer powers, British-India and the former Soviet Union. Afghanistan borders have existed for the past century as a territory which has

visited shifting empires from one time to another, with Persian, Central Asia, the India Subcontinent and the Middle East which thus makes this country interesting. One can rebuild its history and its interesting intermingling of empires and ethnic groups which have been lost due to the long trodden war since 1979 (invasion of Soviet Union). The Afghan nationalism occasionally bloomed with stories of empires’ defeat in humiliation who tried their luck against the Afghans.

Violence has always been a part3 of the Afghan way of life. There is no single cause of violence in Afghanistan. Suppose one looks at the religion in Afghanistan. In that case, one sees a majority of Muslims and that the significant part of the population that adheres to Islam espouses Sunni Muslim. Shias who can be differentiated from Sunnis based on Mohammed’s appropriate succession are a very definite minority in Afghanistan.

The script of Afghan’s area all written in Pashtunwali, which becomes a barrier and followed by this Pashtuns claim that Afghanistan is of Pashtuns with a vital nationalism element from them. Afghanistan’s national anthem perceives 14 ethnic groupings among the nations 27 million individuals:- Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Balochis, Turkmens, Nooristanis, Pamiris, Arabs, Gujars, Brahuis, Qizilibash, Aimaq and Pashai.

1.      GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION

Afghanistan geological landforms divide and reinforce separation amongst the Afghan people. Afghanistan mountains divide the country into four distinct zones that support different types of economic livelihood, including agriculture. Within each zone, the terrain is highly compartmentalized, which makes travelling, contacts with other people and political, social unity are difficult. Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain dominates the cater of the country and is one of the most prominent features.

The country’s watershed and water system have sustained for distinct regions: Herat in the west, Kandahar in the south, Mazar-i-Sharif in the north and Kabul-Peshawar area in the east.

2 Shinwari, S. (2012), “The Importance of Durand Line Recognition”, The Khaama Press News Agency, Available at – https://www.khaama.com/the-importance-of-durand-line-recognition-313/

3 Booker: ‘Right-Wing Extremists…Behind the Majority of    https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/cnsnewscom-staff/booker-right-wing-

extremists-behind-majority-terrorist-attacks-country

The area along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (Durand Line) opposite Peshawar and the north-west frontier province (NWFP) constitutes the fifth region.

  1. Herat – The west region, with its major city of Herat is located next to the Iranian border and exhibits Iranian cultural influences. It is arid and draws sustenance from the Harirud River that flows through the lowlands from the mountainous source. Sunni and Shi’a Persian speaking ethnic groups make up the population, these people have historical ties to the silk route joining China and Iran, Both international trade and agriculture have ensured the regions survival.
  • Kandahar – Helmand river is the main attraction in the southern region of Afghanistan that is Kandahar. Vastly wheat, fruits and opium (illegal product for trade) are grown here. The region is dominated by desert and inhabited only by nomadic tribes. The regions dominant ethnic group is Pashtun. The city of Kandahar serves as a major trade centre for goods moving between India towards Kabul.
  • Mazar-i-Sharif – Mazar-i-sharif is the forth largest city in Afghanistan. Its border touches with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. It is held sacred as the alleged burial place of Ali , son-in-law and cousin of Muhammad a noted mosque of Ali is in the city. During the Afghanistan War , the city was an important link on the line of defences guarding the strategic road between Kabul and Termez in Soviet Uzbekistan, and in the subsequent civil war it was the key to the control of Northern Afghanistan and the defence of Kabul. Mazār-e Sharīf is located in one of Afghanistan’s most fertile regions, extensively irrigated by the Balkh River and produces cotton, grain, and fruit. The town’s industries include flour milling and the manufacturing of silk and cotton textiles. The base at Mazar-e-Sharif is home to the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps, responsible for providing security to most of northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz province – which has seen heavy recent fighting.

4 Available at – https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_world-regional-geography-people-places-and-globalization/s11-07-central-asia-and- afghanistan.html

  • Kabul – Kabul is the capital and the largest city of Afghanistan. It lies along the Kabul River in the east central part of the country. In the 13th century the Mongol invader Genghis Khan inflicted considerable damage on the city. Kabul was the capital (1504–26) of the Mughal dynasty,  under Babur,  and  it  remained  under  Mughal  rule  until   1738,   when Nadir Shah of Iran took it. And since 1776 Kabul has been the capital.

Afghanistan is predominantly a mountainous desert which has been considered as an extension of the Iranian plateau. The Hindu Kush range separates the north from the south, 200km long from the Iranian border and extended up to the extreme north east. North and northeast Afghanistan feature high mountain pass that flows into central Asia’s steppes, granting access to Pakistan and India to the east. The northern portion of Afghanistan connects to Turkmenistan.

Afghanistan borders have existed for the past century as a territory that has witnessed shifting empires from one time to another, with Persian, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, thus making this country’s history interesting. One can rebuild its history and its exciting intermingling of empires and ethnic groups which have been lost due to the long- trodden war since 1979 (invasion of Soviet Union). The Afghan nationalism occasionally bloomed with stories of empires’ defeat in humiliation who tried their luck against the Afghans.

5.                  THE ETHNIC GROUPS

In 1992, Minority Rights Group published a report in the form of a book named – Afghanistan: A nation of minorities that stated that there is no ethnic group that makes half of the population.

Ethnic group was first used as Groupe Ethnique by a French anthropologist DOLLOT. Till 19th century the term ethnic group did not exist, thanks to the foreign academicians. They started dividing the people within the country based on sect, language, culture and geography.

One of the astonishing facts is that the ethnic groups which exist, neither of them have separatist aspirations, nor do they have contention over resources. There are a couple of uniting factors between the groups which can bridge to good governance in a fragile democracy, but the dividing factor sets in with the linguistic issues. This patchwork of ethnicity in the country which hampers the ethnic unity and a uniform national culture can act as a bridge rather than a barrier.

Ethnicity is an unavoidable factor in Afghanistan, just like in India, and also the common factor is that they all seek security and governance. If the country wants to get rid of the ethnic trap, they need to address rational ethnic representation in fragile democracy and eliminate de- politicization of ethnicity. The divide is between the North, and South Afghanistan that is north is linked with Central Asia and south is linked with Afghanistan, NWFP and Baluchistan.

A Dialogue With Myself

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Dr. Kavita Sharma
President of South Asian University & Advisory Council
For me to think of Indian women is to dialogue with myself. What are the influences that I grew up with in post independence India? What are their sources? What are the contemporary images and ideas that I absorbed, puzzled over, accepted or rejected?
There was my mother from a small village of U.P. without even a school, whose father defied convention, refused to marry her off at the age of nine, was condemned by the community for his pains, but who succeeded in making her a doctor and begin practice in 1946. There was her struggle with the extended family after marriage as there was a supportive husband but denunciation by the rest especially by the women leading to isolation and permanent rupture in relationships. An aunt followed her sister’s footsteps as a doctor but failed to marry. The barbs, taunts, social rejection and consequent isolation were so great that she lost her mental balance. The process was completed by a god man, whom she accepted as her guru. Another aunt had internalized the ideals of domesticity but was widowed at the young age of twenty eight. Then began a journey of disillusionment with the family. She was pitched into the workforce where she struggled with two little children and ill-health only to be told at her daughter’s wedding that she could not participate in the marriage ceremony as she was a bad omen. Another aunt was so condemned for bearing no children that she became embittered developing a grouse against everyone including god himself. Were these unique to my family or were they widespread in society? As I looked around I found a mixed scenario.
On the one hand there were issues of female illiteracy, malnourishment, domestic violence, high maternal morbidity and mortality child abuse in particular of the girl child, child marriage, dowry deaths, custodial crimes where the protectors of law themselves become the law breakers, female foeticide and infanticide and scores of other such maladies. Many cases were bought out into the open by militant women’s organizations and the media but on the other hand several violations were perpetrated on women in the quiet of their homes often by women themselves in the name of tradition. `izzat’ and women’s dharma. What was this tradition I asked myself and was it all bad? Did it have to be cast way before anything could be changed?
But, then, there was also another side to this picture. Constitutional provisions not only gave women equality before law, but also the state the right to provide for affirmative action in favor of women. Consequently, laws were enacted to make child marriage and dowry a crime, to protect women against violence, to give free education to the girl child, to provide equality of opportunity in the work force, to provide for equal pay for equal work, voting rights and representation of women in the political sphere to name just a few.2 Effects of the winds of change were being felt everywhere in India and the struggles of the elder women of my family were gradually becoming women’s issues center stage. The visibility of women was rapidly increasing in not only the traditionally accepted professions of teachers and doctors but also in fields like law, journalism, administrative services, corporate executives and others that had been previously considered male bastions. To take just two indicators, the overall female literacy rose to 54.16% in 2001 as compared to 21.97% in 1971, and since 1981 the rate of increase in female literacy is higher than that of men. Again, if employment is taken as another indicator, percentage of women in the workforce has risen considerably. A more nuanced analysis will throw up problems and challenges but the steady increase in the participation of women outside their homes and their gradual empowerment cannot be denied. Other parameters could be similarly examined.3
I realized that I had grown up in a family struggling, conversing and often fighting with rancor and anguish over two ideas that are, perhaps, the crux of the issue with regard to women in contemporary India. One is the traditional role of women deriving their personal and social identities from being daughters, wives and mothers with home being the essential site of their activity. The other is the opportunity of education, employment and aspirations that modern India offers to women opening before them a tempting world beyond tradition and beyond home. Are these opportunities, I asked myself, a gift of modernity and if so are tradition and modernity adversaries? What is tradition and what is modernity anyway? These questions, I realized were tangled ones.

Modernity and Tradition

Modernity is not necessarily a perspective in the framework of chronology although intimately connected with it. To live in the present is not necessarily to be modern because then modernity can become a fetish in which every new fad or strange idea in vogue is to be followed. It is to be aware of our times and milieu and our relationship to them. It is also true that we cannot cut ourselves off from the past because to obliterate its memory is to lose our identity and then there nothing left to build on. To be truly modern, then, cannot be to jettison tradition but to reexamine it in the context of one’s present. And this reexamination has to be done by each individual according to her own experiences, needs and requirements because otherwise she can be as much a prisoner of the rigidities of the present as of the past.4
Human society is constantly in a state of transition. Some aspects of a culture or civilization are continuously becoming redundant while new ideas and thoughts are getting assimilated. When this movement stops or stagnates as it happened for about a hundred years in India from the beginning of the eighteenth century to that of the nineteenth century, society clings to outward manifestations of culture but they become rotten and decayed from within.5 Why did this happen and how did India respond? One reason was that the sheer process of time rendered social practices and institutions that had relevance and meaning when they were formulated, narrow and rigid. The superabundant energy of thirty centuries of unparalleled and amazing intellectual and creative activity finally ran out and the joy of life and creation became jaded and repetitive. Gradually, the freedom of thought and expression gave way to meaningless repetition of past formulations as the scientific and critical mind slept and creative intuition got stifled. The second was the impact of several and continuously repeated invasions that took place with varying degrees of terrifying brutality and plunder till the Mughals finally made India their home. While at one level it led to the creation of a composite culture of Islam and Hinduism it also made large sections of the Hindu community feel threatened and insecure. As a reaction the community defended, with great ferocity, every extravagance of custom and meaningless social institution. Any observer of this time would find it hard not to characterize most of Indian society as barbaric that clung on to the extreme inequities of the caste system like untouchability, pre-puberty marriages of girls often with aged and already married men, enforced and rigorous widowhood, food taboos and other such horrifying customs and conventions. Like every growing thing, culture too, has in it dead tissues that continuously need to be cast off and new tissues have to be continuously added. These inequities against women were the dead tissues that were preserved for a time with great tenacity as society closed in upon itself.6
Indian civilization and culture met the European at this time of social disintegration and political anarchy. It was the evening of the past from which a new age had to start and the impact of the West with its new ideas and, in many respects, opposite civilization values proved a mixed blessing. While it created in Indians a great sense of inferiority with regard to their tradition and heritage, it simultaneously forced them to take a hard look at themselves, reassess their past and come to terms with it. It revived the dormant intellectual and critical impulse, awakened the desire for new creation by confronting the Indian spirit with new conditions and ideals that had to be urgently understood and assimilated. It forced a new look at the past and an attempt to make connections between it and the modern knowledge and ideas coming from the West.7
The British hastened the process by highlighting the weaknesses of the traditional social order of the Indians, inferiorisng their culture and epistemology and even the people as a race.8 There were at least two responses. One was to turn against the traditional order and the second was to rebel against the cultural hegemonisation by the colonial state. On the one hand, the reformers of the nineteenth century found the traditional culture inadequate to meet the challenges of western modernity, but on the other they were also not willing to accept the western model in its totality.
Heritage of the Past
Hence, as K.N. Panikkar points out, there was hardly any social issue in which the question of past practice, and scriptural sanction for it was not involved or debated.9 Women became a site in the 19th century to the freedom movement both for the reformers and the colonial state. Hence, issues pertaining to women like their education, social reforms for improving their position in society, religious reforms pertaining to the lot of widows, questions of remarriage, the abolition of social ills like purdah, sati and others came to the forefront.10 At the same time a nationalistic patriotic vision was created of a golden past when women had equal access to education and other opportunities and had held an honored place in society. Also, the idea that women were worshipped as goddesses in India almost always came up to somehow indicate that however degraded contemporary Indian society may be, it had given them great respect at one time.11
But is there really egalitarianism between the sexes when the culture is goddess centered and her worship is female managed. It does not seem to be necessarily the case. There may have been some pre-patriarchal woman dominated society but even if it existed it must have been some millenniums ago. As Kinsley points out after examining a deal of evidence: “Hinduism knows a great variety of goddesses, many of whom are powerful and independent, some of whom dominate male deities, yet Hindu culture is patriarchal. Hinduism seems to teach that a theology/religion/mythology in which goddesses are important does not necessarily imply sexual egalitarianism. Female power, creativity and authority in the theological sphere do not necessarily imply high female status in the social sphere.”12
If such a golden past cannot be found the question is what was the position of women in the male dominated society of ancient India? I turned to the gallery of powerful women in the Mahabharata that is supposed to have evolved over a period of a thousand years and which in the process gathered within it customs and conventions of different times and places. It holds up a mirror to both individual and society with unblinking honesty rather than presenting idealized pictures of them. With great astonishment I read King Yudhishthira’s question to Bhishma lying on his bed of arrows after the war and giving his instructions on governance on how to cope with women whose sexuality was such a destructive force that the mightiest of men were rendered helpless in front of it.13 One way, Bhisma implied, was that men should try and regulate their conduct. Women were divided into two classes: the utterly destructive because of their unbridled sexuality and chaste wives and mothers who upheld the earth with all its forests and so needed to be protected and cherished.14 But what was chastity? Certainly it was not fidelity to one man. Practices of niyoga or levirate, polyandry, sexual freedom within marriage before Swetaketu laid down the law of fidelity to one man, a woman’s right to make advances to a man and his obligation to respond or be punished as Arjuna was, are very much accepted in the epic. Hence chastity does not seem to involve fidelity to one man but the regulation of a woman’s sexuality by a man be it her father or husband. In this patriarchal society women gained status chiefly as wives and mothers of sons, their primary duty being to serve the family, mainly their husbands to whom their whole beings were to be devoted.
But some concept of equity between men and women seems to have existed. The wife was weighed down by duties towards her husband but he could only demand their fulfillment by performing his own duty towards her. Minor characters refuse to be tied down by unequal relationships. Pradweshi throws out her husband because he has failed to either support her or to protect her and so has lost his rights over her.15 Gautam’s son Chirkari uses the same argument to disobey his father who wants him to punish his mother for transgression. When a chaste wife deviates, the burden is placed on the husband.
Then there are powerful women like Satyavati, Kunti, Gandhari and of course Draupadi. Although they gain their status as wives and mothers of sons leading to intense rivalry between them, once that position has been obtained they can’t be ignored. When Yudhishthira seems to waver Kunti urges him and her other sons to fight to avenge Draupadi, regain their kingdom and their lost honor.16 Draupadi constantly debates dharma, kingship and war with Yudhishthira only to differ with him and never lets the Pandavas forget that they have to fight to defeat the Kauravas.17 Gandhari tries to dissuade Duryodhana from war in the open court through arguments on statecraft, kingship and the righteousness or otherwise of taking recourse to the battlefield.18 Even subsidiary women characters like Duhshala, Ulupi and Chitrangada play significant roles in the public sphere changing the course of events in the ashvamedha after the war.19 Therefore, even in this strongly patriarchal world, women manage to create space for themselves and become powerful figures, a force to be reckoned with through their own intelligence, acumen and endeavor. It is more often the men rather than the women who appear at crucial moments to be indecisive, lacking in sagacity and in need of support to move them to action.
Mahabharata goes a step further and gives a glimpse of a completely autonomous woman who needs neither the gods nor the men. This is the ascetic Sandili who punishes Garuda the king of the Birds because he thought of carrying her away from the Rishava mountain where she lives alone to where reside Mahadeva and Vishnu. She rebukes him saying that she has obtained her position by her own endeavours and conduct and not with anyone’s aid and assistance, hence even such a thought is sinful on his part. She warns him never again to blame any woman again even if he feels she is blameworthy.20
Tradition then, created a dominantly male society with women certainly in a subordinate position but it did not also preclude a truly independent woman. Obviously time made it progressively rigid and oppressive to them and it needed winds of modernity to blow in from the West. If India treated its women as second class citizens, the West did no better and hence feminism arose there and became a part of the progressive modernist agenda.
Impact of the West
Reformation and Counter Reformation unleashed forces that generated absolute confidence in the power of reason to discover the truth of life and in the power of technology to alter social and cultural patterns. Simultaneously, Renaissance gave impetus to a humanist movement that too reinforced a belief in reason. Anything that could not be scientifically tested or verified was to be rejected. The aim was emancipatory and an attempt to liberate human beings from all arbitrary beliefs. It was felt that once human problems could be rationally analyzed, objective solutions could also be found. In such a worldview, the past became the dark ages in which religion and faith had unleashed frightening primitive emotions and uncritical superstitions.21
From Enlightenment arose Liberalism in which the central concern was equality under an artificial sovereign authority, whose power derived from the consent of the governed and an equal treatment of all citizens under law. The central political concern of the liberal tradition in dealing with the oppressed, whether it be the poor or women or any other under privileged class, was equal access. It was thought that social justice could be provided to such groups through education and adjustments in the existing laws and institutions. Therefore, liberalism emphasized democracy, equality under law and equality of opportunity in education and employment. This implied faith in the ability of institutions to provide this equality of opportunity and access; and that is why, in spite of phases of often very violent protest, it was a reform rather than a revolutionary movement.
Both modernity and feminism clearly recognized that women had been traditionally oppressed. However, as long as the cottage industry and the family farm were the center of the economic life of people, women could not be ignored because in spite of their subservient position and social and legal inferiority as they played a vital economic role. Enlightenment paved the way for the establishment of capitalism and democracy that led to far reaching economic changes in the 17th and 18th centuries. But this left the middle class women with no clear roles in society except the ones determined by men–that is, the roles of mothers, and wives. Therefore, an important liberal feminist agenda became how to put meaning into the lives of well-educated middle class women. The western view of modernity, thus did not bring the women out into the external material world as a workforce. Rather, it concentrated on how to make them good wives and mothers thereby providing an ideological framework to legitimize their confinement to the domestic sphere. It took two world wars to bring them out into the public domain.
The liberal feminists, however, did achieve much—the right to vote, constitutional legal access to education and professions, equality before law and greater economic parity in many areas. Although there is still a long way to go, several things that we take for granted today are because of the struggles of the liberal feminists.
The modernist position did not touch the thorny issue of gender differences. These emerged in the radical feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s whose fundamental premise was that men imposed gender roles on women and manipulated them for their own purposes—economic, emotional and sexual. Family, according to them, was the site that reinforced gender differentiation and perpetuated women’s subservient position; hence it had to be abolished. They advocated homosexuality, artificial modes of reproduction and transferring the responsibility of raising children to the state.22 Such solutions are not acceptable to most women themselves and can only create a perpetual battlefield for men and women detrimental to human society itself.

Contemporary India

All these layers of thought live in today’s India. Women have traditionally been the repository of culture, the pivot in the stability and permanence of the home and family and the carriers of the values of society. Many have internalized these values and sought meaning in their lives by devoting themselves to their roles of daughters, wives and mothers. Others have made religion their anchor. Yet others have found the task of breaking out of the mold so daunting that they have suppressed their desires and restricted their aspirations although the world outside beckons temptingly. This creates contradictions in personality often leading to even physical disorders that have deep rooted psychosomatic causes.
The challenge is how to grow into the new roles without abandoning the spirit and wisdom contained in the cultural heritage of tradition, how to cast off the dead issues of a culture and add on new ones. The contours of the world have changed dramatically and they have also changed the shape of the home and the hearth. However, it is in the very nature of evolution that even when outdated ideas and institutions have been abandoned because they have lost their validity and meaning their residue or substratum remains in a period of transition and a culture continues to be identified with it. The trouble is that we are always in transition and hence always in contradictions. It is not that when the women were confined to domesticity they were not a part of the labor force or that they did not engage in meaningful economic activity both within and outside the home. It is that no matter what they did, they were regarded as primarily daughters, wives and mothers with the chief duty towards the family whatever else they did being secondary.
Today women are demanding a much greater and an autonomous rather than an affiliative role for themselves. As Indira Parekh and Pulin Garg point out they are now entering the world of profession like any man in which they have to carve out a niche for themselves in society and build their careers in the face of stiff competition giving themselves a personal identity independent of their relative roles. For the first time there is a very high motivation in women to experience for themselves and be accepted as autonomous beings outside of their familial networks. 23
Some would argue that this increased visibility of women has created its own challenges. One is sexual permissiveness and the breakdown of family values. It has increased crimes against women. There was 29.2% rise in 1998 relative to 1994 and 92.25% increase relative to 1990.24 A more detailed analysis can be done. Society itself is taking steps to remedy the situation and will continue to do so.
Women themselves, however, also have to come to terms with their fears and anxieties both in their persons and in their familial and social networks. There are guilt feelings of being inadequate and divided both in the home front and at the workplace and hence apprehensions of failing in both. There are fears of accusing fingers, breakdown of marital relationships and uncertainties of the future but the clock cannot be put back. The new cultural milieu makes it impossible for women to ignore a world beyond that could become their world. We have to face the emergence of these rising aspirations and we can only do it in two ways. One is through anger at the inequities meted out to as women both in the past and in the present. This ire can propel us into acquiring social roles of equality but it would be done with so much bitterness that it would lack both meaning and dignity. The other is through a sharing of this internal dialogue of the self with others so that the rancor dissolves and unity can be created in which a new ethos of a shared vision, a new meaning of being and becoming can be created. It is to add a new element to the cultural heritage. All epic heroes journey to hell and back before they can experience a new wisdom and freedom to travel to new horizons. Without such harmony, we could once again become prisoners of should and musts as we did in the past. These would undoubtedly be different shoulds and musts but equally enchaining and debilitating.
As I conclude my dialogue with myself I feel that women’s issues will, like other issues in India, be eventually resolved through the essential spirit of the Indian civilization which is not confrontationist but assimilative. It has always transformed the alien into the familiar and Indianized the forms and ideas that first entered the country as social imports. Hence, women will continue to become more visible and they will find a method of doing so without tearing the social fabric apart. There are pockets of strident protest but a far more widespread quiet revolution seems to be already on its way.

Foundation of Indian Culture

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Dr. Kavita Sharma
President of South Asian University & Advisory Council
Religion has been one of the most dominant forces in India, since the beginning of time. According to Sri Aurobindo and many scholars, the key to India’s culture and civilization lies in its spirituality. A book was published by Sir John Woodroffe, a scholar and a critic, called India Civilized as an answer to the negative criticism of Indian culture by the English drama critic William Archer. Sri Aurobindo was in broad agreement with Woodroffe so he used the occasion for reflections on Indian culture and civilization published as a series of articles on Indian Art, Architecture, History, Literature and Philosophy. These have been compiled under the title The Foundations of Indian Culture. Many of the issues discussed them are not only still relevant but continue to be debated and discussed. The core issue is what is the key to Indian culture and how has it manifested in all aspect of life in India.
Religion and Spirituality
To begin with, spirituality and religion need to be distinguished. Also it is necessary to understand what is meant by culture and civilization. Religion can be defined as beliefs pertaining to or a set of beliefs concerning the supernatural, sacred or divine and the moral codes, practices and institutions associated with such belief or beliefs. It is an organized system of beliefs that generally seeks to understand the purpose, meaning, goals and methods of spiritual things. It usually has an organized church an accepted text and a hierarchy of priests with powers over religious matters of the followers and, sometimes power and authority also in worldly matters. In fact there has always been competition, rivalry and tension in most parts of the world between the church and the state which has not existed in India.
Spirituality, on the other hand, can mean various things to various people depending on their belief systems and cultural background. It can be defined as devotion to metaphysical matters, as opposed to worldly things. A broader definition pertains to activities which renew, uplift, comfort, heal and inspire both ourselves and those with whom we interact. It can include a belief in supernatural powers. No particular religion is meant by spirituality.
In older times, human society had given a very important place to religion. But there has always been a section of society that has been the standard bearer of progressive movements which has often revolted against the predominance of religion. This is because in several contexts some religions seen to oppose progress and side with forces of obscurity, ignorance and oppression. Consequently, a time comes when the oppressed revolt to correct these errors and set the religions right. Thus paradoxically religion has needed human beings to guide and correct it rather than it correcting and guiding them. The reason for the failure of religion has been because it has confused the essential with the inessential and the extraneous and emphasized the latter. It has adhered to dogmas, cults and codes that have caused inequities at their mildest and untold misery and even bloodshed at its worst. More wars have been fought in the name of religion than in any other name. Even today, it is the easiest tool to mobilize people to violence.
Culture and Civilization
The word culture comes from ‘cult’ which means worship, devotion, homage to a person or a thing. ‘Cultivare’ or ‘Cultiva’ also means tilled land. Hence the word culture encompasses tillage, rearing, improvement by mental or physical training and intellectual development. Hence, culture at its most comprehensive, refers to the diverse creative activities of a people – literature, visual and performing arts; and to various forms of artistic self expression by the individual or by communities. These activities give a sense of purpose to human existence and, at the same time, provide the reflective poise and spiritual energy so essential to the nurturing of a ‘good society’.
Civilization comes from ‘civil’ or the Latin ‘civilis’ which means citizen. Therefore, a civil society is community of citizen. A civilization is the process of making or becoming civilized. It is usually an advanced stage of social development. Civil also means polite. Hence to civilize is to form an enlightened and refined social order. The culture of a people finds expression in a civil society. Culture requires expression, through aesthetics, intelligence and imagination. Civilization is the practical and outward formulation of thought and creativity in social order.
Function of Knowledge
The development of a civilization takes place according to the emphasis it places on the creation of knowledge and its diffusion in society. In India, the idea of knowledge is different from that of the West. This is because the Western man has been granted and has treated it as a matter of right to maintain and extend his dominion. Therefore, aim of the revival of knowledge during the Renaissance and later who an effort according Kapil Kapoor to bend nature to man’s purpose. The goal of life for the western man became to achieve a life of comfort, something that had been promised to him by his God as a birthright. This explains the rise of sciences and the retreat of Christian ontology before the advancing empirical science. It rendered much of Christian dogma indefensible and led finally to the collapse of faith with drastic intellectual and spiritual consequences for the Western Christendom in the nineteenth century.
The question is what is the function of knowledge in the growth and development of a civilization? What is its relationship with culture spirituality and religion. How a civilization views knowledge and what are its purposes constitutes a view of life that shapes its growth, its value and its belief systems.
“Knowledge” in western paradigm says Kapil Kapoor, is exteriorized. It is constituted in the empiricist mode, that is , it is based and acted upon according to observation and experiment and not merely on theory. Hence, perceptions came through the senses and are stored outside the mind in the ‘texts’ that already have or acquire societal authority. The individual is the passive recipient of this knowledge and its user. Its power consists in the control it exercises over the individual and pressurizes him to the conform. And as Western history shows, this “ organized “ knowledge has often proved destructive. The ostracization of scientists like Galileo or closer to us of Darwin is a case in point. The knowledge so gained acquires great power that rests in the authority of the “ truth” it attains through societal and institutional support. At a given time in the Western history, there has always been a dominant “truth” of the time. This, Kapoor explains, is the consequence of the Hebraic monistic imperative – “man” in the humanist phase, then “ language” then and now “science” and technology. There is in the Western mind, a monistic imperative one dominant “truth” at one time. All human life works on dichotomies and polarities and the West posits that between the dichotomies, only one can be dominantly true. Of course, a synthesis through dialectic is also accepted but nevertheless there is one dominant truth. This has to be cognized and then adhered to. This imperative is driven by the uncompromising monism of the Hebraic world –view. In sum, the goal of knowledge is the gaining and exercise of “power”. The consequences of such a philosophic vision are not always happy. In more fundamental terms, it led to the ‘fall’ by partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. This is tantamount to the loss of freedom . The formulation of ‘truth’ is essentially a linguistic construct but it is assigned ‘value or ‘truth’. This assignment does not /cannot come from experience, but from outside itself from individuals who “know” completely ignoring the individual who seeks to know. In this structure, the individual has neither any role nor freedom to evaluate for himself the validity of these categories of thought. Any deviation or disagreement subjects him to ostracization for daring to be at variance with the societally exercised imposition of “belief”.
In the Indian thought system, the function and goal of knowledge was not to exercise of power over others but power over one self. The highest aim was moksa, or liberation of the self from its own limitations and constraints. The direction governing thought and its diffusion is exactly the opposite of what pertains in the Western framework. It is from the individual to the social or the collective which forms a continuum; unlike the West, it does not come from the social to the individual in a relationship of rupture or tension. Therefore, while in the Western framework, knowledge is an exercise of power over the individual, to bind him and to fetter his mind to the dominant societally accepted idea in the Indian framework, knowledge or jnana, is an instrument of liberation of the individual not from just the superficial, external societal constraints of a collective code, but also from the very fundamental, inner, existential constraints of his own mind and self. This inner freedom is the true freedom. Thegoal of knowledge in the Indian tradition therefore is very different – it is to promote the freedom of the individual. This accounts for the plurality, multiplicity and diversity in thought, religion and spirituality which extends to the arts and to the most mundane aspects of life.
Indian thought systems support a kind of pagan pluralism which to me is rather joyous and make plurality a ground reality of Indian intellectual life. This points out Kapoor, contrasts sharply with Hebraic monism and monotheism. But Indian pluralism is not anarchic or chaotic. There is a substratum of world view emerges that paradoxically leads to a certain synthesizing universalism which is closely related to and facilitated by this pagan pluralism. It also implies inclusive individualism, in which all are included as against the exclusive individualism of the nineteenth-century Europe.
Again, the Indian thought rests on cyclicity as against the Western linearity. This means that it does not operate with the principle of linear evolution and hence does not believe that progress necessarily takes place with the passage of time. Indian thought would postulate the opposite of linear progress. The direction of human change is towards decay rather than progress suggesting the imperative of constantly struggling for perfection or goodness. It is a cyclical movement but not a meaningless return to the point from where one started. It is to be seen as a spiral where each cycle in only a stage in further development and has the capacity to move both up and down. This also explains why Indians are so skeptical about the concept of development.
Further in the Indian civilization, there is no rigid demarcation between religion and philosophy. At their best they constantly make each other’s processes dynamic and together infuse the other aspects of human and natural life. The whole object and aim is the knowledge of the spirit, its experience and the right way of spiritual existence. So the question arises, what is the true relationship between spirituality and religion. Sri Aurobindo would explain it as follows.
Religion is the first imperfect form of the spiritual impulse in the human mind. For the spiritual impulse to take hold of life it becomes necessary to cast thought and action into the religious mold. Thus, it was sought to fill every circumstances of life with religious sense. This created a pervadingly religio-philosophic culture.
Religion is needed because man needs the support of each step lower in his stages of ascent. He is helped by the scaffolding of dogma, worship, image, sign or form or some symbol. Thus the image worship is not the idolatory of a barbaric or undeveloped mind as it is projected by the western critics of Indian culture and civilization. Even the most ignorant know that the image is a symbol and support and can be kept aside when its use is over. The progress can be from the saguna or from the form attributes to the formless and attribute less that is, nirguna.
The fundamental of all Indian religion is common to the highest human thinking anywhere. The supreme truth of all is a Being or Existence beyond the mental and physical appearances familiar to us here. Beyond mind, life and body is a Spirit and Self, that contains all that is finite and infinite and surpasses all that is relative. There is a Supreme Absolute, originating and supporting all that is transient, a One Eternal. But this truth was not seized by the Indian mind merely as a philosophical speculation, theological dogma or abstraction. It was perceived as a living spiritual truth, a Power or Entity could be sought by all according to their capacity in a thousand different ways. The Infinite alone justifies the presence of the finite and the finite does not have a completely separate or independent existence from the infinite. Life is not an illusion but a Divine play, a manifestation of the glory of the Infinite. It is a means by which the soul grows in nature through countless forms and many lives to approach, touch, feel and unite itself through love and knowledge, faith and adoration to God.
However, this does not lead to either pantheism or polytheism as the west understands it. The myriad gives freedom to reach the one through different paths according to one’s own inner nature or being and one’s own situation, that is swabhava and swadharma. Far beyond the myriad is the universal, the supra-cosmic eternal. In the Indian system there is no rigidity about the intellectual or theological conceptions about the Supreme Truth. That is why there is an endless variety in Indian philosophy and religion which to the European mind seems bewildering, interminable, wearisome and useless. India recognized authority of spiritual experience and knowledge, but recognized still more the need for variety of spiritual experience and knowledge if each individual had to journey on his own path.
The task of religion and spirituality was to mediate between God and Man, between the External and Infinite, the transient but persistent finite and the yet unexpressed Truth consciousness. For this it had to lead the mind out of its ignorance through various paths. Hence, although the spirit of Indian religion and culture has been persistently the same through a long period of time, its forms have undergone remarkable changes. These are the result of a logical and inherent evolution an integral part of the very process of man’s growth. The second or post-vedic age was distinguished by great philosophies; copious, many-sided, thought provoking epic literature; beginnings of art and science; evolution of vigorous and complex society, formation of large kingdoms and empires; and by manifold formative activities of all kinds and great system of living and thinking.
Objections to Indian Spirituality
Several other charges have also been made by European thinkers against Indian spirituality. Sri Aurobindo in his rejoinder has answered each one of them. The first that Indian spirituality is mere speculation. That is how they characterize the Upanishads, all the philosophies of Buddhism and other philosophical tracts. But Indian philosophers would reject this altogether emphasizing that physical nature cannot be the only possible test in the scrutiny of truth. However, this does not mean that Indian philosophy led away from the study of nature. Indians ranked first in mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, medicine, surgery, and branches of physical knowledge that were practiced in ancient times. It, along with the Greeks, was the teacher of Arabs from whom Europe got the habit of scientific inquiry that formed the basis of modern science. The two most striking examples in support of this claim are the decimal notation in mathematics and the perception that the earth is a moving body in astronomy.
A remarkable feature of the Indian mind was a close attention to the things of life, a disposition to observe salient facts, to systematize them and to then explore them to the extent that in each ingredient or fact a whole science has been founded. Therefore, it cannot be said that empiricism was rejected in India over intuition and faith. Actually, all Indian spiritual pronouncements emphasize that truth has to be gained through observation and individual experiences. Then the core has to be penetrated through an intuitive leap that breaks the boundaries and limitations of the merely rational. This why it put forward the idea of the hierarchies of mind that Sri Aurobindo had explained and systematized.
However, it cannot be denied Indian science came to a halt around the thirteenth century. A period of darkness ensued which prevented India from sharing in the vast modern development of scientific knowledge. But this was not because the metaphysical tendency of the Indian mind was intolerant to the study of physical nature. It was a part of the general cessation of new intellectual activity. Philosophy, too, ceased to develop around this time, the last efflorescence being of Tantra.
Another objection is that Indian culture is too other worldly and denies the claims of life in this world. Sri Aurobindo responds by saying that this is a misrepresentation. Indian culture does not deny value to life, nor does it detach it from terrestrial interests and look to eternity while neglecting the requirements of the moment. The ancient civilization of India founded itself upon four human interests: first, ethical conduct and the right law of individual and social life; second, material, economic and other aims and needs of the mind and body; third, desire and enjoyment and lastly spiritual liberation. Hence, the four pillars of life were Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The business of culture and social organization was to create conditions so that these four requirements of the individual could be satisfied in a suitable social organization. This was certainly not an exclusively other worldly direction. At the same time India has always regarded the material world as only an antechamber, convinced that within us was a Self that was great than the mental and vital and greater than the ego. The eternal has always been regarded as both near and present. The temporal being exists in the Eternal and man increasingly turns to it for transcendence.
Further, since the Indian mind is so concerned with the eternal and quite sure of the ephemeral nature of life, it has been accused of pessimism. However, pessimism is a strand of thought found in all developed civilizations. It is the sign of a culture that has already matured. It is the product of a mind that has lived and experienced much, plumbed the depths of life and found it full of suffering. It has realized that joy and achievement are full of vanity and vexation of spirit, and that all newness is only ephemeral and transitory. But pessimism is not exclusive to Indian culture. It has been rampant in Europe and Europe has also had to concede that all material achievements cannot change the physical and ephemeral nature of life. The whole body of existential literature, the Theatre of the Absurd in its different forms which followed the experience of the two world wars, are testimony to European pessimism. Besides the ascetic notes of India are not more gloomy than certain kinds of European pessimism which not only could not find any joy or hope in the beyond but also shrank from death and dissolution of the body. The Calvinistic thought, the Oxford movement, the Victorian disillusionment all have strong element of pessimism. Indian asceticism is not all a mournful gospel of sorrow or painful mortification of the flesh in morbid penance. It is also an effort to reach a higher joy and the absolute possession of the spirit. The aim of which is ‘ananda’ or bliss.
The concepts embodied in Indian philosophy are put into action in religion and so the two are intimately interconnected. Philosophy in India is not pure rational gymastic of speculative logic in the air, an ultra subtle process of thought spinning. What is perceived intuitively is organized into intellectual theory, and the interaction between religion and philosophy is nothing but an ordering of the intuitive perception of all that is the soul, thought, the dynamic truth, and the heart of feeling. Indian religion is Indian philosophy put into action and experience.
The Indian conception of life moves from a deep center to external lines leading to a very different objective than the West. It is not that it has ignored external life. At one time in its intellectual history, from 100 BC to almost AD 600, the Indian mind, it appears, was deeply involved in empire-building, both of the terra firma and of the terra cognita. Few cultures can show such wide ranging structures and systems of ideas in almost all spheres of human as was witnessed in India during this long phase. This system building has left behind a great stock of ideas and has deeply impacted the Indian mind and made it naturally reflective and ideational. What the Indian mind does is to look through form and force to search for the spirit in things everywhere. The peculiarity of Indian will in life is that it does not feel satisfied or fulfilled unless it has found and lived in the truth of the spirit. The Indian ideal of the world, Nature and existence is not merely a physical concept but is also psychological and spiritual. Thus Indian spirituality is very different from that of Europe but it does not mean that Indian culture does not concede reality to life, follows no material or vital aims and satisfactions or does not care for our actual human existence. While it looks beyond the world human life in ancient Indian thought was never considered a vile or unworthy existence. It was accepted as the greatest gift and was greatly desirable.
Man in the Indian idea was a spirit veiled in the works of energy, moving to self discovery and capable of Godhead. He is a soul growing through Nature to conscious self-hood; he is a divinity and an eternal existence. The value of the Indian concept of life lies in the way it connects this distant perfection with the normal living and present every day nature. It is important to remember that India has felt the call of the senses like the Greece, Rome or contemporary Europe. It has also perceived the possibility of a materialistic life with all its attractions as is evident from the philosophy of the Charvakas. But the materialistic and solely ‘this worldly’ could not fully take hold and become dominant at any time. Even when a certain grandeur and greatness was perceived in this way of life, a colossal egoistic indulgence solely in the life of the mind and the senses was regarded in India as the way of the asura or the rakshasa.
There is a conviction, almost universal, that another power claims man besides desire and self interest and self will, that is the power of the Dharma. Dharma is at once a religious law of action and the deepest law of our nature. It is not a creed, a cult or an ideal inspiring an ethical and social rule as the West perceives it. It is the right law of functioning of our life in all its parts. The tendency of man to seek for a just and perfect law of living finds its truth and justification in Dharma. Viewed thus, everything has its dharma, its law of life imposed on it by its nature. This is called Swadharma which is a product of Swabhava or the individual nature of man and his place in the social hierarchy. For man, dharma is the conscious imposition of a rule of ideal living on all the parts of his being. Dharma is fixed in its essence but still develops and evolves in our consciousness according to the situation, time and place. It is not rigid. It evolves and has its stages. There are gradations of spiritual and ethical ascension in the search for the highest law of our nature. Temperaments vary and social law has to make room for variety. Rigidity would lead to loss. The man of knowledge, the man of power, the productive and acquisitive man, the priest, scholar, poet, artist, scholar, artist, fighter, ruler, tiller of the soul, craftsman, labourer, servant, all cannot usefully have the same training. They all cannot be shaped in the same pattern. Nor can they all follow the same way of living.
Dharma is the Indian ideal of perfection for developing the mind and soul of man. It compels him to grow in power and force to certain high or universal qualities to build the highest type of manhood. The problem that Indian culture had to solve was of outward form for the practical development of its spirit and idea of life. For this it developed, the idea of Chaturvarna or a fourfold social order which later got degraded and degenerated into the caste system with its gross inequities amounting at times to even inhuman conduct. The caste system is a gross parody of the ideal of chaturvarna.
The great rule of this culture as an ideal was that the higher a man’s position and power, the larger the scope of his function and influence of his acts and example, the greater should be the call of Dharma on him.
In order to evaluate a civilization or a culture, its durable central motives, the abiding principle at its core must first be seen. Indian culture recognizes the process of our being and our life is a growth and evolution of the spirit. It sees the Eternal, Infinite and Supreme in all. It sees it as the highest self of all and calls it God, the Permanent, the Real and it sees man as a soul and a power of this being called God or by its various names in nature.
Therefore, although the Indian civilization reached the highest in material development, its key lies in its spirituality. As Sri Aurobindo points out, even in the darkest night of its ignorance, there has always been the insight in India, however, obscured it may appear at times that life cannot be viewed only in its externalities. It was a conviction that the physical can only be carried forward when it is in the right relation to the supra physical.
Essence of Indian Culture
However, spirituality does not flourish in a void unsupported by the love for life in all its facets – aesthetic, material, physical, intellectual and others. As Sri Aurobindo points out, in India’s past can be seen a stupendous vitality, an inexhaustible power and joy of life, and the most prolific creativeness. This led to the creation of all kinds of monuments, palaces, temples, public works, religious orders, communities and societies, laws and codes, spiritual psychic and physical sciences, systems of Yoga, politics and administration, arts spiritual and worldly, trades, industries and crafts.
Apart from vitality the other power of the Indian spirit was a strong intellectuality. Its chief impulse was Dharma and Shastra, order and arrangement. It was this immense vitality and intellectuality that also widened her spirituality. Spirituality cannot flourish in an impoverished soil. It is the Buddhist and the illusionist denial of life that has impacted and stayed with the European in its characterization of India. But this is only one of the several tendencies because the Indian mind is not only spiritual and ethical but also intellectual and artistic. It encompasses both self abnegation, dependence and submission as also self assertion, independence and mastery.
Just like vitality and intellectuality in India, the spiritual tendency also is not just concerned with the abstract. It too underlines the multiplicities of thought and richness of life. This can be seen in the classical age of Sanskrit culture. It was marked by refinement of scholarship, science, art, literature, politics, sociology and order in the mundane life. Its achievements were not only aesthetic, but also emotional and sensuous, even sensual. But behind it all lay the spiritual life. The post classical age saw the attempt to lift up the whole lower life and impress upon it the values of the spirit. Puranic and Tantric systems came into being and later the religions of bhakti became widespread. Vaishnavism tried to harmonize the aesthetic, the emotional and the sensuous and place them before the service of the spiritual.
Spirituality in India is not considered a remote metaphysical mind that has a tendency to dream rather than act. While metaphysical tendency was always a strong element in the Indian mentality, it did not prevent action. Rather it lay behind every reconstruction of ideas and society. The belief was that every action must start from a spiritual basis.
Impact of West
Over a time, rigidities set into the great past of Indian culture and life that brought about a degeneration and a degradation. At this time, India met the West. As Sri Aurobindo explains for a time it seemed that its world would slowly decompose and perish. But actually a churning took placed forcing India to have a re look at itself. Thus gradually it turned into an ascending movement.
Europeans, struck by the general metaphysical bent of Indian mind, religious idealism and other worldliness seemed to think that this was all that there was to it. Hence, they did not see it as apt for life and for a time Indians echoed this view. They internalized it as their own opinion and spoke with pride of their metaphysics, literature and religion but in everything else, they were content to be imitators and learners. They forgot their achievements in the material world. They also forgot that there were not only powers behind the universe that could not be comprehended but also in man of which he was normally unaware. Man was capable of exceeding himself and becoming himself more entirely and profoundly than he was. India was also very conscious of the spirit and aware that reality was multilayered. It met the challenge of comprehending this Reality and man’s relation to it daringly to bravely to declare that man could attain ranges of life beyond our familiar life if he trained his will and knowledge. He could become the spirit, a god and become one with God, with Brahman.
The question arises what really happened when the Indian mind met the occidental mind. That which was compatible with India’s ideals in the area of knowledge, ideas and powers, became part of a new statement of life. This was inevitable and is a phenomenon that has happened repeatedly in history. However, as Sri Aurobindo points out,where there is mechanical imitation, subordination and servitude, the inactive or weaker culture perishes. Therefore, European ideals cannot be accepted in the name of modernity alone. They are accepted because they are human, present fruitful points of view and are important for the future development of mankind. If we isolate ourselves, we do not grow mentally, vitally and physically. In every individualized existence, there is a double action. One, there is a self development from within and second, there are impacts from outside which have to be accommodated according to one’s own individuality to make them supportive of self growth and self power. These two are not mutually exclusive. Nor does the second harm the first unless the inner genius is too weak to deal with the outside world. Outside influences can stimulate a vigorous and healthy being and force its development.
Ancient Indian culture lived intensely from within enriched by internal exchange and variation. But at no point of time did it exclude external influence. Its strength was selective assimilation, subordination and transformation of external elements. It thus changed eternal influences and harmonized them into the spirit of her own culture without being in any way overwhelmed. Similarly, India could not stay aloof from the European invasion and its impact upon its own culture. The modern world is European, dominated by the European mind and the Western civilization. Thus the great governing ideas and problems of the modern world have to be dealt with. The Indian mind cannot ignore them. It can only assert itself successfully by meeting these problems and finding solutions in harmony with its own ideals and spirit.
India’s central conception is that of the Eternal, the spirit encased in matter, evolving on the material plane by rebirth of the individual up the scale of being till it enters the realm of ideas of conscious morality and dharma. Since the spiritual motive is central Indian ideas have never spread throughout Asia without the use of physical force. But how are the two to be reconciled and harmonized?
Perhaps one answer can be found in Sri Aurobindo’s analysis in The Human Cycle . He says that humanity advances through three stages. The first is a period of conflict and competition. This continues to be dominant because even when material conflicts are mitigated, cultural struggles came into prominence. The second step is the stage of concert and the third and last is marked by a spirit of sacrifice in which because all is known as the one Self, in which each gives himself for the good of others.
In the contemporary world, even the second stage of concert has not been reached. A compelling oneness has been forced by scientific inventions and modern circumstances. This, however, must bring with it mental, cultural and psychological consequences. At first it will probably accentuate rather than diminish conflict in many directions. It will enhance political and economic struggle and also hasten a cultural struggle. On the other hand, it may also bring to the fore an underlying oneness.
The question is, what is the future direction of humanity. Is it to be founded on a culture solely based upon reason and science as the West has posited and civilization is just man’s endeavour to find light and support in a rationalized knowledge and a rationalized way of life. Or is it to be based on the idea of a soul embodied in Nature as India has put forward seeking to know and find itself and enlarge it consciousness to arrive at a greater way of existence – progress in spirit and grow into the full light of self. The question really goes back to a world view and value system. The third stage of an integral spirit of oneness is yet not in sight.
Any civilization presents a mixed and anomalous appearance and can be interpreted with hostility to present a dismal picture of barbarism. India developed the spiritual mind working on the powers of man and exceeding them. It found value in the intuitive reason, the philosophical harmony of the Dharma informed by the religious spirit and the sense of the eternal and the infinite. But a rationalist would condemn Indian philosophy as too abstruse and philosophical. He would object to it as too metaphysical and ennervating, that kills the personality, weakens will power by imbuing human beings with a world view and life with pessimistic ascetic and emphasized values of Karma and reincarnation. While this is not a correct assessment of Indian civilization, the immense decline in India cannot be denied or overlooked. At the same time, it can be safely asserted that even at its worst, its spirit was not dead. It reemerged as it was jolted by a contact with Europe and there has been a new confidence since independence which will gradually accelerate of course through struggles – trials in which we will all be participating.

Financing of Higher Education: Canada and India

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Dr. Kavita Sharma
President of South Asian University & Advisory Council
Canada and India present several points of convergence and divergence in the expansion of higher education and its financing. Many of these arise out of federal and provincial jurisdictions. While education is a provincial subject in the Canadian Constitution, it is on the concurrent list in India. This has certain implications. While in India, the bulk of higher education takes place through state universities; in Canada, it is the provinces that are primarily responsible for higher education, and the federal government negotiates post-secondary education through areas of federal responsibility like national defence, Indian affairs, the territories, external affairs and the like. Unlike as in India, there is no national or federal government department to oversee aspects of higher education policy in Canada.
As Trowe has pointed out, there are three models of participation in higher education— elite, mass and universal All over the world, the system has moved from elite to universal. This is not only because of issues of equity. There is a more utilitarian motivation that has been articulated by both governmental and non-governmental organizations. A vast body of evidence supports a general public policy consensus that investment in advanced education yields high returns because of increased labour market participation that leads to greater productivity, economic development and innovation. The question is how to provide universal access to higher education. Can the government alone do it or is private funding essential? Of course, a compromise between the two is the public private participation model which also has to be adapted to different situations. In addition, what is the mix between the three? No definitive answers have emerged and higher education in both countries has moved in an evolutionary trajectory as it has responded to demand, democratic compulsions and the available state funding.
Canada
According to the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (AUCC), there are 95 public and private not-for-profit universities and university-degree level colleges in Canada today. Canada also has around 150 colleges distinguished by a range of titles such as Institute of Technology, Collège d’enseignement general et professional (CEGEP translated as College of General and Vocational Education) University College and Polytechnic. Since education is a provincial or territorial responsibility, these institutions vary in mandate, management models and policy frameworks. However, they share the primary functions of responding to the training needs of business, industry, public service sectors and the educational needs of vocationally oriented secondary school graduates. Historically, these institutions offered diplomas and certificates, not degrees. However, many have university transfer programmes and some are now offering degree programmes.
Participation rates have risen since the 1990s in Canada. Amongst the countries belonging to Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, Canada has the highest level of educational attainment. Almost half of its population, amounting to about 46% aged between 25 to 64 has completed some kind of tertiary level education. The OECD average is 26%. Canada spends 2.4% of its GDP on higher education, which is the third highest amongst OECD countries after USA (2.9%) and South Korea (2.6%).
The economic downturn led to an increase in enrolment to the extent of 4.1% at the full time undergraduate level and 7.2% at the full time graduate level in the fall of 2009. The universities responded by making more opportunities available. As of 2009, there were close to 870,000 full time students studying at Canadian universities of which 734,000 were undergraduates and 136,000 graduate students. In addition, there were 279,000 part time students of which 232,000 were undergraduates and 47,000 at the graduate level. Further, there were 400,000 continuing education students. The number of students has steadily grown in the last fourteen years. In 2009, there were 300,000 more students than in 1996.
Canadian universities, therefore, serve over 1.5 million students and employ more than 42,000 as faculty. Nationally, Canadian universities are more than a $30 billion enterprise. Per student funding for teaching and research was $21,000 CAD in 2008-2009 whereas about $30 billion was spent overall on research. The research activities of Canadian universities are worth about $10 billion of which 55% – 60% is externally funded, the largest source being the federal government. The latter provides about $3 billion annually for direct and institutional cost of research infrastructure and salary.
Prior to World War II, higher education in Canada was more or less the exclusive domain of the privileged class. It prepared a few for elite professional and leadership roles in society. A system of mass participation emerged from 1950s onwards. It resulted in a massive expansion from 1960s to 1970s. Dale Kirby citing Dennison and Gallagher states: “This `golden age’ of development was driven by demographic factors such as the baby boom, changing labour market requirements and a greater acceptance of Human Capital Theory, that is, the understanding that there is a connection between one’s educational attainment and personal income, and that public investment in human capital contributes to economic growth.”
The most rapid expansion of higher education took place in the mid-fifties. Dr. E.F. Sheffield presented a short paper entitled “Canadian University and College Enrolment Projected to 1965”, at a symposium organized by National Conference of Canadian Universities (NCCU) in June 1955 in which he said that full time University enrolment would almost double between 1954-55 and 1964-65 increasing from 67,500 to 1,28,900/-. The system did not have the capacity to absorb so great an increase. University enrolment had increased by only 12% between 1944 and 1954. This reflected the importance of University education in a rapidly industrializing and urbanizing economy. The consequences of these enrolment increases predictably created pressures in two areas— physical facilities and academic staff.
In 1954-55, there were about 6000 full time university instructors in Canada and a doubling of enrolment implied doubling of the faculty in the next ten years in order to maintain the same student teacher ratio. It was realized that this would be expensive as would be the addition of required infrastructure. Where was the money to come from? In the 1920s, provincial grants had accounted for approximately 50% of all university income, tuition fees for 20% and private income for 30%. During the post world war depression, provincial grants were reduced and tuition fee had to be increased proportionately.
Increased enrolment evoked a wide range of reactions in Canada from the caution advised by Toronto’s Sidney Smith who feared a decline in standards to “Larry” Mackenzie, President of U.B.C. who felt that universities should take in almost anyone who came. Overall, most Presidents of universities were in favour of growth. Consequently, operating grants for universities were doubled and in addition, 550 million were made available through Canada Council, half of which were for support of university capital construction.
By mid 1950s, the idea was firmly established that universities and university education represented an almost certain path to economic growth and individual prosperity. Universities began planning for new buildings, new programmes and much larger number of staff and students. The 1960s saw a virtual revolution in Canadian higher education based mainly on four propositions: massive physical expansion of major universities, growing autonomy for junior and affiliated colleges, transformation of denominational colleges into public universities, and community pressures for new institutions in cities currently then without a university or college. The Canadian provinces took the position that university capacity had to be continually expanded to meet the increasing student demand. The principal question that emerged was how large should a university become and at what cost. Several campuses were opened for each of the universities but they did not want to remain subservient to the existing universities, so they were gradually declared autonomous universities.
Since there is no one central policy of higher education in Canada, only broad trends can be indicated. For example, initially western provinces had resolved upon the policy of only one provincial university but geo-political realities necessitated the establishment of at least one additional institution affiliated with a university as a junior or satellite campus. Each of these satellite campuses chafed at their subordinate status and saw it as a policy of forced underdevelopment. This spurred them on to independent growth.
While the Canadian universities initially managed to accommodate the increased enrolment, additional faculty recruitment lagged behind by a year or two after which it expanded rapidly giving rise to concerns about the quality of faculty all of whom in the meanwhile had also been granted security of tenure. The increase in faculty was accompanied by increase in their salaries in order to attract talent. According to a survey of 17 universities carried out by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, the median salary increase by nearly 40% in just three years between 1956-57 and 1959-60 naturally lead to a steep rise in university expenditure. The total operating cost doubled in five years from 76 million dollars to 143 million dollars.
The principal source of funding for sustaining the expansion of the system had been federal funding although in Canada, education is strictly a provincial subject.
The value of federal per capita operating grant that had been doubled to $ 1.00 for 1956-57, increased to $1.50 for 1958-59 and again to $ 2.0 for 1962-63. The value of grants to the universities however, had not grown so dramatically. On a per student basis, the grants were worth $ 120 in 1951-52. This increased to $134 in 1952-53 but had dropped back gradually to $ 127 by 1955-56. The increase for 1956-57 raised the per student value to $ 221 but it dropped to $ 205 in 1957-58 before another increase brought it up to $ 297. By 1965-66, it had fallen back to $ 210. Thus, over the 15 year period from 1951-52 to 1965-66, the per capita value of the grants had increased four times, while the per student value had increased by a mere modest 43%
The National Research Council (NRC) was established in 1971 and was the principal sponsor of university-based research. It accounted for at least 60% of the total money spent on research. Provincial support began to increase substantially in the early years of 1960s but by 1965-66, it was still only 15% of the total. Around 1967, all federal support went to natural and related sciences. There was hardly any government support for research in the humanities and social sciences.
The Government responded to the dual challenge faced by it in the 60s of a rapidly expanding university system and increased unemployment in society. In November 1960, the National Housing Act was amended to permit the Central (now Canada) mortgage and Housing Corporation to make loans available to universities for the construction of student residences. This was not only a response to a real problem faced by universities but another consideration was to stimulate the construction industry and provide one method of coping with the high unemployment rate. The scheme provided mortgage loans of up to 90% of the cost of a project, with repayment over a period of up to 50 years. The major benefit to universities lay in the subsidized rates of interest. The total fund allocated for it was $ 50 million with the cost of each project limited by regulation to $ 7000 per student accommodated. In 1961, the overall limit was doubled and in 1964, it was raised to $ 150 million.
The federal government had been participating in a modest way in the support of university students since the Dominion-Provincial Student Aid Programme was introduced in 1939. All the provinces had developed student aid programmes and almost all of them contained provision for subsidized student loans. The Canada Student Loan programme was launched in July 1964. It provided individual loans of up to $ 1000 per year, with an overall maximum of $ 5000 for any one student. The money has actually be lent by chartered banks and credit unions, with the federal government both guaranteeing repayment and covering all interest charges until six months after a student’s graduation at the end of which the student had to assume responsibility for the repayment of the principal and interest over a ten year period. This was the Canadian way of helping students with the high tuition fees charged for post-secondary education.
Canadians also tried to cope with the expanding university system and convert it into an opportunity to expand employment by providing universal access to prepaid medical services. But this required a massive expansion in the training of health care professionals, including physicians. Several existing medical schools had to be expanded and new faculties of medicine established over the following ten years. There was also an addition of more university schools of nursing, expansion of the existing ones together with the creation of new dental schools.
The enrolment in Canadian universities kept rising resulting in a report on ‘Financing Higher Education in Canada: Report of a Commission to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada’ (1965). It began with the issue of enrolment that had been identified by Dr. E.F. Sheffield in 1955. Dr. Sheffield once again emphasized that the total full time enrolment, which had reached 178,200 in 1964-65, would almost double over the next six years to 340,400 in 1970-71. The rate of increase was expected to start declining after 1970-71. Even so, enrolment would continue to increase, reaching 461,000 by 1975-76. The Commission rejected any policy of restricting student access to higher education either by raising standards or by setting market driven quotas within the framework of a work force policy. However, it was aware that the increased cost of continued expansion would be even more dramatic than the projected increase in enrolment. Including operating and capital expenditures as well as student aid, the total costs would increase at almost twice the rate of enrolment reaching $ 1.7 billion by 1975-76, almost five times the $ 355 million spent in 1964-65. The Commission argued that only the Government was in a position to bear this expenditure and hence it would have to meet 70% of the operating cost, 80% of the capital cost and an even higher share of the student aid bill. At the same time, it recommended the increase in the operating grant from $2.00 per capita to $ 5.00 per capita and thereafter further by $11 each year. Student aid also needed to be expanded and a capital grant fund had to be established and funded at the rate of S5.00 per capita per year. Moreover, it was recommended that the federal support of research should be greatly expanded and all research grants and contracts should be accompanied by an additional 30% to cover the indirect or overhead costs.
Another major study appeared in December 1965 in the form of the second annual review of the Economic Council of Canada. It made the most emphatic case possible in favour of increased expenditures on higher education. Based on studies of economic returns from investment in education, the Council estimated, “….the returns on the ‘human investment’ in high school and university education in Canada are in the range of 15 to 20% per year with slightly higher rates for an investment in a university education…” Moreover, the Council concluded, approximately one quarter of the real growth in personal income in Canada since 1911 could be attributed directly to increased levels of education. Hence, it called for, “rapid and substantial expansion of post-secondary education in all parts of Canada… to provide a ready opportunity to every qualified Canadian student so that financial obstacles will be eliminated as a barrier to higher education.”
The era of rapid growth in provincial expenditure on university education ended in the 1960s. By the 1980s, a fair degree of stability had been achieved but in spite of it, while enrolment kept increasing, funding remained static. Universities preferred not to raise tuition fees to meet the rising costs. Resource mobilization through tuition fees had been the traditional complement to government grants and so had increased as a proportion of university revenues whenever government funding declined; for example in the Depression of the 1930s. As a matter of provincial public policy, however, this option was mostly precluded.
Universities resorted to borrowing but this could only be considered responsible if there was a realistic prospect either of increased revenue or of reduced expenditures in the near future. In the absence of this, deficit financing only increased the problem, because the cost of borrowed funds had to be added to the expenditure side in the subsequent years. There was also a political dimension to deficit financing. If a university was seeking to convince its provincial patron of the reality of underfunding, an operating deficit might be seen as telling evidence that the problem was serious. Hence, deficit financing was the first tactical response of most universities. Governments responded by resisting these tactics. Also, the universities realized that deficit financing could impair private fund raising as contributors would not want to donate to reduce debt.
Financial stringency led to favouring of selective cuts over general compression. Harold Shapiso, the then President of University of Michigan, said in 1982,
The idea that an institution should reallocate its limited resources to its areas of greatest merit rather than following a ‘mindless’ policy of ‘across-the board cuts’ enjoys greater favour at most faculty meetings.erican Higher Education’;, advocated the strengthening of university management as a means to the radical restructuring of programmes and operations.
Some efforts in this direction can be seen. For example, funding was dramatically reduced in British Columbia pushing its three universities to make dramatic choices. Several responses surfaced. The proposition ‘save jobs and let salaries slip’ found overwhelming support at the University of Victoria but no serious thought was given to the elimination or restructuring of programmes or to the termination of regular faculty. Some faculty positions were reduced by the process of attrition. Simon Fraser’s response was that lay-offs or terminations had to be avoided but significant programme changes were a must. A committee of faculty members submitted a ‘white paper’ on the future of Simon Fraser. As a result, new departments of computing science, communication, kinesiology and engineering were opened. The idea was that in spite of the economic crisis, these new faculties would attract research funds, and public support. Several language programmes were sought to be eliminated and others integrated into existing departmental resources. Thus, Simon Fraser implemented impressive restructuring. The University of British Columbia earned international notoriety by actually dismissing permanent faculty members. This led to the negotiating of generous severance arrangements.
Explicit policies and procedures governing lay-offs for financial reasons led to insecurity and as a consequence unionization and collective bargaining. Most collective agreements differed in detail but embodied two broad principles: the concept of academic redundancy was separated from financial exigency; and only the senates or their equivalents were empowered to approve faculty for academic and not financial reasons. If any faculty member had to be dismissed for financial reasons, the financial crisis was required to be confirmed by an independent audit that had to establish that all other reasonable steps to increase income and reduce non-essential expenditures had been taken.
One of the ways by which the financial outflow on salaries has always sought to be reduced is through the use of part time instructors, and this practice continues. Students are routinely employed on a part-time basis resulting in relatively inexpensive teaching assistance. It adds an essential component to the students’ financial support package and offers a measure of on the job professional training. Further, practitioners are used on a part time basis to complement full time faculty in professional programmes. For the practitioners, such teaching constitutes a recognition of their high professional standing. For the universities, it proves inexpensive and enables them to offer a large variety of programmes. Successful summer teaching is also done in this way. It is a method of a substitution of contract employees for tenured or tenured stream faculty members. This has also given rise to controversy from time to time as the aspiring tenured stream faculty members feel threatened.
Universities also turned increasingly to the private sector as potential source of funds. With government grants and tuition fees both declining in dollar value per student taken at a constant rate, it offered perhaps, the only means of fiscal flexibility. Canadian universities showed great success in increasing private sector funding through fund-raising endeavours although they still fell short of the American endeavour. Annual giving, primarily from alumni also increased. Increased reliance on private sector also extended to research. Public private partnerships also cropped up. One such partnership was seen in the creation of `science parks’ that were a consortium of industrial research laboratories which operated in the private sector although land for them was assembled with the help of the Government. Several other schemes were launched for closer industry-university collaboration. These gave rise to concerns about implicit threats to academic freedom. John Panabaker, Chairman and Chief executive officer of the Mutual Life Assurance Company and a founding member of the Corporate-Higher Education Forum, argued that “universities have no real choice”,
Rightly or wrongly, society has come to see Universities as critically important to economic development, and expects to support universities more generously because of that perception. But that support will not make the universities’ lives easier. They must still redefine their roles in relation to their own sense of purpose and in relation to the needs and priorities of the larger society. That redefinition represents one of the greatest challenges Canadian universities have ever had to face.
Canadian governments are trying to influence the economy’s technological performance primarily through universities and public labs, not through initiatives aimed directly at the productive sector. This requires that the higher learning be co-opted…This is the political manifestation of a deeper development, the bureaucratic organization of knowledge. Under these fiscal and political pressures eroding, vast sums of money, hordes of people and almost all governments are dedicated to the realization of this prospect.
In the last decade, there have been further reforms because of policy guidelines in the late 1980s and early 1990s. British Columbia can once again be taken as an example as it has taken some radical steps to bring about reforms in organization, management, curriculum, access and finance. Out of these, two are especially significant. One is the Access for All policy of 1988 that required the government to improve space and equipment in the post-secondary sector and to enhance access to adult education, strengthen and increase the number of second year university equivalent courses in community colleges, establish a number of degree granting “university colleges” attached to a university, and enhance access to underserved community like the First Nations and those living in remote areas. It led to the creation of university colleges and colleges and institutes that were given the right to confer “applied” degrees. Thus, the non-university sector expanded vastly in response to the demand to produce better technical workforce so that Canadian business and industry could compete internationally without having to import skilled labour from other countries. The federal government made large financial resources available to provinces to construct and maintain an alternate system of post-secondary institutions, other than universities, to educate and train a workforce with the skills necessary to fill the industrial needs of the nation. These institutions were given different names in the various regions of Canada—Community Colleges, Technical Institutes, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology and in Quebec, CEGEPs. Some of these institutions offered two-year programmes equivalent to the first two years of a university degree but the majority concentrated upon certificates and diploma offering skills to equip graduates for the workplace.[xxi]
However, in spite of the useful work done by these colleges, pressure continued on the governments to provide more seats in degree programmes as demand from prospective students grew and public interested intensified. The response from the provincial governments was threefold; one, established universities were funded to increase capacity; two, a number of new universities or university like institutions were established; and three, some non-university institutions in a few provinces were authorized to offer “applied” degree programmes. The latter was a clear departure from prior practice as upto then the word `university’ and `degree’ had been protected, and only universities had the right to grant degrees. British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario authorized the granting of `applied degrees’ by non-university tertiary institutions offering diplomas in applied areas like Business, Health and Applied Sciences.
The second step was the decision to not only allow but to even encourage the emergence of the private higher education sector to complement and compete with the public sector. The latter opened higher education to market forces. The public sector opposed this development because public universities feared that despite government assurances that no public funding would be diverted to private institutions, the private higher education sector would drain the much needed resources from public institutions. In spite of these reservations and protests, private higher education continues to grow.[xxii]
Private sector post-secondary education, both degree and non-degree granting is not entirely new in British Columbia (BC). The private vocational sector grew rapidly in the 1980s. It had been encouraged by the Federal Government policy for a “free market” in federal training programmes. This development was supported by the provincial government, which probably saw competition from the private sector as having an effect on controlling increasing unit costs in colleges and institutes. By 1990, there were over a thousand private vocational training institutes in BC. These institutes are small but their numbers have been steadily increasing and by 1999/2000 they accommodated 190,000 learners that were equivalent to approximately 60,000 full time enrolled students in terms of the public sector universities. These private for profit institutions target prospective students not served or inadequately served by the public post-secondary education system of British Columbia and also who are willing and able to pay the fees. When a new government came to power in 2001, it promised to revise the legal provisions for private sector education so as to enable it to expand in post-secondary education for both vocational training and study for degrees.
The Private Career Training Institutions Act (PCTIA) was passed in the legislative in the spring of 2003. This meant that the earlier Private Post-Secondary Education Commission (PPSEC), which was a government agency, created in 1992 by the Private Post-Secondary Education Act stood abolished. The earlier Act had made the registration of all private post-secondary institutions mandatory and thus provided some basic “consumer” protection to students. But the new Private Career Training Institution Agency (PCTIA) was not a public funded body. It was entirely financed and controlled by the private education industry and only “career related” training establishments came under it. This meant that several institutions like language schools and others were not covered under its regulation and hence their students were left unprotected.
In spite of a significant increase in public higher education since the 1990s, the demand still far outstripped the spaces available. Hence, apart from the Private Career Training Institutions Act, the legislature of British Columbia passed the Degree Authorization Act in 2003. This law enables private and out of province public institutions to both grant degrees legally in British Columbia, and to use the word “university” in front of their name. A Degree Quality Assessment Board was created with the mandate to review applications from the institutions wishing to award degrees. After review, the proposals have to be posted on the Ministry website. These are peer reviewed and if required by the Board, a report is also made by external experts. All this forms the basis for the Board to make recommendations to the Minister. Although the Degree Authorization Act does not apply to public post-secondary institutions, but the Ministry requires even their new degree programmes to be reviewed by the Board thus replacing the old Degree Programme Review Committee. Thus, points of convergence between the public and private sector have sought to be created.

The Game of Dice

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Dr. Kavita Sharma
President of South Asian University & Advisory Council
The pivotal movement in Mahabharata is the game of dice. Several questions arise: why should a game be a part of a ceremony as solemn as Rajsuya Yagya? Even if there has to be a game why should it be a game of dice rather than a game of skill and valor? Further, why should the whole action turn on the outcome of this game of dice?. One reason could be that the game of dice represents the unforeseen challenges that a king must endure during his reign. India.

Significance of a Game or a Sport

A sport or a game can be seen on at least two levels. Creation in Hinduism is regarded as God’s ‘lila’. This ‘lila’ takes place both on the level of God and the level of man. Hence, we have Ramlila, Krishnalila and the like that are enactments or ‘lilas’ performed by human being of the lives or the earthly ‘lilas’ of Rama or Krishna1. ‘Lila’ in English is translated as ‘sport’ but this is a very inadequate word. In any case, there is no element of frivolity associated with ‘lila’ that may be associated with sport though the ‘lila’ itself may be sportive. ‘Lila’ can be a game or a theatrical performance. The world is a sports field or a play. God creates out of sheer joy not because he wants to acquire or own what he creates. He also neither creates out of necessity nor because he has any duty to create. However, since the world is his creative field or ‘lila’, an unknown tale that unfolds, it enables man to accept or transcend personal as well as public tragedy by seeing it as God’s mysterious play. Also, if this is God’s ‘lila’ it is a make believe and unreal work in which man can only his role as it comes to him as the events group and regroup kaleidoscopically. Every time the equilibrium is disturbed, the universe regroups or readjusts unfolding unpredictable situations. Although the work is a ‘lila’, a sport or a play, and hence unreal it has a tremendous impact because man is both an actor and a witness in this cosmic play. Man parallels God’s ‘lila’ by himself performing ‘lila’ through which several issues pertaining to human life can be explored and resolved for the moment.2
At another level, a sport or a game too can be seen as a make-believe arena or even a theater of war in which winning or losing becomes a life and death matter3. In Mahabharata, the game of dice is an attempt to settle an issue through play that can otherwise only get resolved through a decisive war. As Sakuni says,
The fortune over which you have been grieving after you saw it at Pandu’s son Yudhishthira’s, I shall take it from him, let the enemy be challenged ! I shall take no risk, nor fight a battle in front of armies; I shall throw the dice and, whole of body and wise, defeat the fools! Be sure, the dice are my bows and arrows, the heart of dice my string, the dicing rug, my chariot! 4 The Dicing (51.1)

Why a Game of Dice ?

Dicing is a part of the religious and cultural history of India. Gambling has two significance in religion. It is usually discouraged or prohibited. In Hinduism gamblers are associated with thieves, assassins and other depraved characters. They are dangerous characters utterly devoid of truth. Dhritrashtra himself knows the perils of dicing. He tells Duryodhana:
Enough of dicing, son of Gandhari, Vidura does not approves of it. Nor would he, in his great sagacity, tell us aught that is in bad faith that I think Vidura is speaking ……for gambling is found to be divisive. At a breach the kingdom perishes, therefore avoid it, son. The Dicing (46.1)
Yudhishthira too knows the dangers. When Vidura goes to invite him to the game on behalf of Dhritrashtra, he says :
At a dicing, Steward, we surely shall quarrel.
Who, knowing this, will consent to a game? The Dicing (52.1)
Vidura is equally sure that the game will bring disaster. The most dangerous gamblers have been assembled by Dhritrashtra but, Yudhishthira feels compelled to accept :
It is the King Dhritrashtra’s behest
So, I will not refuse, sage to go to the game
A son will always respect the father:
I shall, Vidura, do as thou tellest me.
I am not, unwilling to play Sakuni,
I were, would recklessly challenge
In that hall….Once challenged I will not refuse,
For so I have sworn for eternity. The Dicing (52.1)
Yudhishthira is well aware that he is going to his ruin:

Fate takes away our reason

As glare blinds the eye.
Man bound as with nooses
Obeys the Placer’s sway. The Dicing
Then why does Yudhishthira knowingly go to his doom? Perhaps because it is a part of the Rajasuya Yagya that Yudhisthira is performing and he feels he is honor bound to follow the rules and not because he has a weakness for gambling as Sakuni would have us believe. In any case up to this point there is no incident, which exhibits this weakness in Yudhishthira. The dice game follows the unction and the chariot drive in the ritual. However, the question still remains why should a game and that too a game of dice be a part of the rituals of Rajasuya Yagya.
Dicing seems to have a special significance when connected with myths and rituals. Shiva and Parvati play dice and dicing is also a part of Deepawali the beginning of the financial year in Hindu Society. Dicing involves uncertainty, chance, the vagaries of fortune. The dice game is representative of the challenges that a king must endure during his reign. How is a king to seal with them?

Chance As An Essential Part of Creation

Chance appears to be an intrinsic part of the evolutionary development of the world. Random events seems to operate within an over-arching law-like framework. As Elizabeth A.Johnson has pointed out the mechanistic view of the world associated with Newtonian physics has been replaced by twentieth century science by a dynamic, open-ended view of the world in which some events are in principle unpredictable, although in retrospect they may make sense5. At the micro level of the atom and its subatomic particle quantum mechanics uncovers a realm where time, space and matter behave according to laws that have uncertainty built into them. For example, while it is possible to predict how long a certain mass of radioactive uranium will take to decompose, it is impossible to say which atom will decompose next and why. This may be because our scientific instruments are still not sophisticated enough bout more likely because reality itself has an element of indeterminacy. At the macro level, a butterfly fluttering its wings in Beijing may set up an air current that may magnify into a storm in New to a storm in New York. While the effect of each such individual action can be predicted, the number of such initial conditions that will take place and the effect of their confluence cannot and hence the final outcome also cannot be predicted.
The evolutionary process too is still going on. It is a process of subtle interplay between chance and law. For example, the mutation of genes that give rise to new life forms. Natural selection then rewards the ones that adapt themselves to their environment. They not only survive but also reproduce. This process goes on and on with a hundred thousand variables, dead ends and breakthroughs6.
The emergence of human mind from matter shows the wondrous ability of matter to organize itself to bring forth the truly new from within itself. Or, as Sri Aurobindo would put it, from the inconscient which had the potential life in it, arose a rich diversity of physical systems and forms in a long complex sequence of self-ordering processes to the point that mind emerged from matter and then this mind seeks to understand the process of how it came to be. The evolutionary interpretation of the mind as emergent from within the process of matter itself organization leads to a holistic, non-dualistic idea of a human person. A human being is not composed of two distinct elements of body and mind but is a single entity whose physical structure supports the emergence of the mind.
Out of this apparent in conscience each potentiality is revealed it its turn, first organized matter concealing the indwelling Spirit, the Life emerging in the plant and associated in the animal with a growing Mind, the Mind itself evolved and organized in Man7.
As Elizabeth Johnson says, Mind is not some extraneous element glued on to the brain at some stage of evolution. Consciousness is a power that emerges gradually inn and through the increasing complexity of those intricately ramified and interlaced structures of the brain. We are the universe become conscious of itself. Therefore, material physical reality is richer in possibilities than we are accustomed to think.8
Thus, the laws of nature require the workings of chance if matter is explore its full range of possibilities and emerge towards richness and complexity. Without chance, the potentialities of the universe would go unactualized. This has implications for human consciousness and freedom. Just as the material world moves towards a larger consciousness and freedom. Just as the material world moves towards a larger evolutionary purpose so too the human consciousness evolves but is free to explore the conditions for the emergence of free and conscious human being as part of the universe. The ‘Placer’s sway’, then, to use Yudhishthra’s words is not the traditional one of omniscient and omnipotent God who creates and sustains the world, laying down the natural law and miraculously intervening when the occasion requires. It is God.
Waiting upon the world, patiently acting through its natural processes including unpredictable, uncontrollable random events to bring about the emergence of the new while consistently urging the whole towards fullness of life.9
If this be the case, the question arises what is the nature of Krishna’s intervention on behalf of Draupadi.

The Role of Krishna

Interestingly, Krishna is absent during the game of dice except of intervene on Draupadi’s behalf. Although he has been an active participant up to that time. He stays for a while after the marriage of Draupadi to the Pandavas. He is present at the division of the kingdom and helps Arjuna clear up the forest tracts. He asks Maya to build the Pandavas a magnificent hall for the Pandavas. He aids Arjuna in abducting his own sister Saubhadra, stays for the marriage and een for their marriage and even for the birth of their son Abhimanyu. He advises Yudhishthira on the Rajasuya and sees to its successful completion through killing of Jarasandha and Sisupala. He then has to rush to because he has been attacked by Salva enraged by his brother Sisupala’s dealth. Hence, the overt reason for his absence from the dice game. However, as Alf Hiltebeitel has pointed out, Krishna’s absence is necessary because otherwise the outcome would have been different 10. Even if he had been present at Dwarka when the game was announced at Hastinapur he says, he would have come to Hastinapur to prevent it. As Narayana, or the Divine perhaps he can only be a witness to the unfolding of events as individuals exercise their freedom of choice and the universal order arranges and rearranges itself accordingly. The canvas of the dice game is the test of a king’s ability to uphold dharma in the face of all unforeseen eventualities is Yudhishthira’s field of action. However, he cannot allow Draupadi to suffer the final humiliation because she is his soulmate, sakhi, another aspect of himself, another Krsna and his consort Sri to his Vishnu or Narayana. Once, dharma is lost it has to be re-established and hence the war in which Krishna plays an active role of inspiring and motivating without actually taking up arms.

The Game of Dice and What is at Stake

Vidura goes with the invitation to Yudhishthira although he is opposed to it. Why is he asked to go and why does he do it? One, of course, because he is the king’s counselor bout also because he has a very special place in the society of Mahabharata. He is born of the union of a brahmin who is outside the material realm and a slave or a sudra who is outside the realm of society itself. Thus, he is truly a neutral party able to cross the boundaries of case and hierarchies and yet not a part of baronial intrigues. Besides he is dharma himself while Yudhishthira is the son of dharma. That is, in this game of dice, the dharma has to be tested. That is why Sakuni can be unethical but not Yudhishthira.
The crossing of boundaries forms an interesting motif in Mahabharata11. All the Pandavas are both human bout also have divine origins, as does Bhishma. Draupadi is both Yagneseni and Sri the consort of Indra. Examples can be multiplied – Dhrishtadyumna and Ghatotkacha come to mind. Karna’s position is particularly ambiguous. He like the Pandavas is the sone of Kunti and a god, the Sun, but he is born before Kunti’s marriage to Pandu. He is thus, not only both human and divine bout also both a Pandava and not a Pandava.
Yudhishthira is beset by conflict in this crossing of boundaries12. He is a kshatriya who aspires to be a brahmin, not wanting to deal with worldly desires or possessions. By the laws of primogeniture he has to take the reigns of kingship but he is a reluctant king who would rather not deal with the mundane world. He is not even sure that he is qualified to perform the rajasuya but Krishna assures him that he is because he is possessed of all royal virtues or gunas – truth, industry, non-envy, forbearance and firmness. He is the king of dharma. The one who rules is the one who serves. All these qualify him to be Supreme Ruler.
Krishna also points out to Yudhishthira that for him to become a universal sovereign, baronial agreement is necessary. For this, Jarasandha has to defeated. He was the King of Magadha who was all powerful. He had defeated Krishna himself and had to be killed to smoothen Yudhishthira’s path . It is interesting that Krishna prevaricates in order to convince Yudhishthira and Arjun uses arguments similar to those of Duryodhana while convincing Dhritrashtra. Also, stratagem and deceit are used to kill Jarasandha who was valiant and noble. This parallels the deceit during the game of dice and during the war itself. Again, it is a question of crossing the boundaries between dharma and adharma. Now, what is to be settled through the game of dice? The main issue is one of kingdom and succession. The laws of primogeniture demand that the eldest must succeed. However, for several generations this has not been possible and now things have come to a point when the issue has to be resolved. The issue of succession between the Kauravas and the Pandavas is not a simple one of good over evil. Duryodhana certainly has as strong a case as Yudhishthira.
The issue of succession has been a long-standing one in this family. Santanu, father of Devavrata of Bhishma fell in love with Satyavati, a fisherman’s daughter. He married her on the promise that her son would inherit the kingdom and to ensure that he took a vow that not only would be never stake his claim but also that he would not marry so that there would be no successors to him. Hence the law of primogeniture was violated. Then, Santanu had two sons, Citrangada and Vicitravirya of whom Citrangada the elder dies before getting married. Vicitravirya has two wives Amba and Ambalika but dies before having any children. Vyasa, Satyavati’s illegitimate son from Parasara begets sons on the widows according to the rules of Niyoga. Dhritrastra, the elder, is born blind and hence cannot succeed. Pandu, the younger therefore becomes the king once again violating primogeniture. He is however, under a curse that he will die at the moment of intercourse. Hence, sons are born to Kunti and Madri, the two wives through niyoga. Santanu himself was the younger son of Rstisena who had got himself installed as king over his elder brother Devapi. Devapi retired to the forest to practice austerities. Santanu was cursed with a drought of twelve years and he had to finally implore Devapi’s help who acts as a priest and gets rain13. Thus, for four generations at least before Duryodhana the question of succession has not been settled. In the case of Duryodhana and the Yudhishthira the rule of primogoeniture becomes even more difficult to employ. Duryodhana is the eldest son of Dhritrashtra who was elder to his brother Pandu and who should have been the king but for his blindness. Hence, Duryodhana’s claim as being the eldest son of the rightful kind. However, his younger to Youdhishthira the eldest son of the rightfully king. Hence, if the Kuru branch is taken as a whole, Yudhishthira is the eldest son. If the claims of Dhritrashtra and Pandu are examined separately, Duryodhana is the rightful heir. The claims being equally balanced leads to a division of the kingdom and Duryodhana’s dissatisfaction. Thus, by this generation the skein has got so tangled that perhaps it can only be resolved through the roll of a dice. The game of dice, then, could have solved the succession but for Sakuni’s unethical meddling which in a sense nullifies the game.
What does Yudhishtira stake? To begin with all his wealth because he knows that wealth is useless without power. Then, follows the city, the country and his people’s property that are symbols of power because power is not worth fighting for as long as dharma remains. Finally go the brothers – Nakula and Sahdeva who represent wealth; and then Arjuna and Bhima who represwent power14. Finally goes Yudhishthira, king Dharma himself causing transgression of ‘lakshman rekha’ requiring the cosmos to realign itself and so necessitating a war by which the balance can be restored and dharma reinstalled. At a material level the aim of the game should have been over after winning Yudhishthira. Then, why does Sakuni challenge Yudhishthira to stake Draupadi? Perhaps once dharma is lost, honor too is lost. This is the lowest point to which the Kurus could fall. Also, Draupadi is seen as an embodiment of Sri, the consort of Lord Indra. Sri is the embodiment of sovereignty. Therefore, there cannot be any sovereignty without Sri. She has also been associated with pre-Aryan fertility goddesses who traditionally bestow wealth. However, her gift is not freely given. It has to be begged through ritual and sacrifice. Also, in order to get Sri, one has to give it away ad then regain it through ritual. Yudhishthira literally gives his Sri away by gambling Draupadi. That is why it is Draupadi who frees Yudhishthira and his brothers through the two boons granted by Dhritrashtra.15.
The game at this point remains inconclusive because the validity of the final and the most vital stake of Draupadi has been made ambiguous by her raising the question of dharma of whether Yudhishthira wagered her before losing himself after. Since no one can answer this question including Yudhishthira, Bhishma and Vidura the game can only be considered as interrupted. In any case, the question of succession and kingship has not been resolved. Yudhishthira feels compelled to return to the game when called upon to do so. There is the final stake that he loses and is compelled to go into the thirteen year exile.
The game of dice takes place between the Kauravas and the Pandavas two branches of the same tree. This is the first time that an actual conflict of succession has taken place in which two sides have staked their claim for which they are willing to fight to the finish. At a metaphysical level this can also be sen as conflict within a divided self. One portion of the self wins through stratagem and aggression – cheating and insulting Draupadi. However, this position is not reconcilable and hence one half of the divided self has to be banished, hence the exile of the Pandavas. Even this cannot resolve the crisis of the divided self. A true resolution can only be found by confronting the dilemma or the ambiguity of succession and not by side stepping it. Hence, the game of dice cannot substitute the actual confrontation of war. The cheating at the game is played out in a larger arena in which every preconceived notion of ethics is wiped out – Yudhishthira cannot tell lies but he does; Krishna vows not to fight but takes up his arms against Bhishma; the dharmayudha degenerates into butchery and naked lust for power. In a way what Mahbharata shows is that all these presuppositions are childish, that all is lila. As Sri Aurobindo points out, “God’s lila in man moves always in a circle, from a Satyuga to Kaliyuga and through Kaliyuga to the Satyayuga from the age of gold to the age of urn and back again through the iron to the gold…. Bout the Kaliyuga is not merely evil, in it the necessary conditions are progressively built up for a new Satyayuga, another harmony, a more advanced perfection

20 years of NaMo – Aura, Ideology, Popularity and Trust

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Navika Kumar
Managing Editor of Times Now

 
 

Mr Narendra Modi, whether you support him or not, has changed Indian politics and thinking within government forever.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in as Chief Minister of Gujarat for the first time on October 7, 2001. This was the first time Mr Modi occupied a public office. The beginning of the twentieth year of Mr Modi holding public office, a constitutional post, is an apposite juncture to look back on the impact his persona has had in Indian politics.
Mr Modi throughout his career has been the quintessential outsider. He became Chief Minister first and only thereafter was elected for the first time as an MLA on February 24, 2002. From there to 2014, after leading the BJP to a historic mandate, Mr Modi entered Parliament first time as Prime Minister. From an RSS Pracharak to his stint in the BJP Organisation to being the Chief Ministerial choice in Gujarat to stepping into the large shoes of Keshubhai Patel to becoming not just the tallest leader of the BJP but the choice of 130 crore Indians — who gave this man, for the first time in three decades, a full majority in Lok Sabha in 2014.
When Mr Modi first became Chief Minister for the first time he was asked about his preference for the key positions in the Chief Minister’s Office. The only response he gave at the time was that he needed someone who could work long hours and could use technology. This reflected a key virtue in Mr Modi to enthuse new thinking and freshness in the old rusting steel frame of India that still is the bureaucracy. In fact, bureaucrats recall that a new CM designate initially called the Chief Secretary ‘Sir’ as that was how he was in awe of the experience such bureaucrats carried on their shoulders. When he first met the officers as CM designate in Gujarat he waited for them to sit before he himself sat down, a refreshing change from the quintessential politician turned ministers who treat government as their fiefdoms.
Mr Modi came to Delhi on the back of four electoral victories as Chief Minister of Gujarat. This was for the first time that a leader who had never been in Parliament became a viable and favoured candidate for Prime Minister. This in itself was enough to create strong opinions in his favour and even against him. To Mr Modi’s credit, he secured the first single-party majority in thirty years in 2014.
Mr Modi’s election to the office of Prime Minister in 2014 forever altered the status quo, shifted the poles and the very nature of politics in the country. The political thinking of the citizenry was fired up more than ever before. The earlier cynicism and indifference towards politics was replaced by strong opinions on political issues amongst the average Indian citizen.
Mr Modi has carefully preserved his ability to be relatable despite long years in office. This has been possible only by a conscious effort that his admirers would say are aligned with his personality. When he was to move into the official residence of the Chief Minister in Gujarat, all he requested that the large throne-like chair of Mr Keshubhai Patel, his predecessor, be replaced by a more ordinary chair that was already in use. No new purchase was his only request. In fact, insiders even say that Modi had no desire to even see the entire expanse of his Chief Ministerial bungalow or now his Lok Kalyan Marg residence as he’s a loner and with no family pressures, his office space, meeting rooms and his personal chambers are the only areas he uses most.
This quality of political persona which is of a loner and most of his colleagues in the Cabinet also claim that there is no one who knows what’s on his mind or what his views on many subjects are — yet he carries an innate ability of outreach overshadowing conventional means of mass communication like the media, making him a force to be reckoned with in the hustings. A “Mukhiya” of every voters’ family with whom they find an instant connect.
The leadership of Mr Modi is cast in its own mould for various reasons. As President Pranab Mukherjee once told Mr Modi shortly after he became Prime Minister, all previous Prime Ministers reached the high office by anointment including Nehru who was anointed by Mahatma Gandhi and the British. When Nehru passed on, Lal Bahadur Shastri replaced him and then Indira Gandhi replaced Shastri and Rajiv Gandhi replaced his mother when she was martyred. None of them became PM first time through elections. Mr Modi was the first to come to the office for the first time on a truly popular upswing in his favour at first within the party and then across the electorate.
The ideological moorings of Mr Modi have been stark and clear from the very beginning. He upended the centre-left consensus that continued even during the tenure of Mr Vajpayee. The opposition however reacted by moving even further to the left and reducing themselves by the 2019 elections to an obscurantist cult led by Mr Rahul Gandhi and the soothsayers of socialism as his advisors. Such a shift in public opinion requires flexibility of the kind that brought Tony Blair to power with New Labour after years of Thatcherite rule.
It was quite clear that Ram Mandir and Article 370 — ‘articles of faith’ for the BJP — were no longer just a mention in the manifesto. They have today become a reality because of Mr Modi’s unwavering tenacity to achieve these outcomes in his tenure. Two out of three foundational promises of the BJP are today realised.
Mr Modi’s tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat heralded the state into the position of being the best place to do business in India. The focus on developing economic and social infrastructure was at the core of his legacy in the state. Mr Modi on becoming Prime Minister sought to make the same a part of the core of his agenda.
Several significant reforms including the ushering in of the Goods and Services Tax, a new insolvency framework and consistent improvement in the ease of doing business have marked his tenure. Mr Modi has not shied away from a political confrontation in favour of reform. The recent farm reforms opening up opportunities for farmers to access the market without the inefficient and exploitative mandi system demonstrated just that. This is a remarkable contrast from Dr Manmohan Singh who buckled at every stage when it came to a fight for economic reform.
It is, however, equally true that the country continues to be afflicted with overwhelming challenges to the economy that began before the pandemic and stand worsened by the pandemic. India is in crying need of transformational economic reforms to unleash its true potential. Priority areas such as banking and infrastructure investment require urgent and focussed intervention. Mr Modi’s agenda of minimum government maximum governance remains an unfinished agenda which hopefully will be the centrepiece of the rest of his tenure. The country needs Mr Modi to use his enormous political capital to see these reforms through.
Mr Modi, whether you support him or not, has changed Indian politics and thinking within government forever. The next phase of his political tenure shall be most crucial in determining his legacy and exalted position in history.
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