The Candid Eye

April 26, 2010

A girl is burnt again

Filed under: Hinduism,India,Indian Media — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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A thought provoking article by Tarun Vijay appeared in TOI.

On any scale of significance, is the burning alive of a helpless dalit girl less important as a news story than the murky IPL concerning only the rich and influential? Why we are seeing the scandalous people every day on front pages and the girl’s murder by arrogant agents of state power relegated to oblivion?

Five years ago, Gohana had happened. Now it’s Hisar. What I wrote on Gohana was thus reported by PTI (http://tarun-vijay.blogspot.com/2010/04/c.html).

And on Hisar the news report says: An argument between a dalit and a jat over the former’s dog led to near-unbridled violence in a village in Hisar district, which was tense throughout Thursday after an 18-year-old physically challenged dalit girl and her father were burnt alive on Wednesday. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Two-Dalits-burnt-alive-after-clash-over-dog/articleshow/5846407.cms).

Those who say they belong to a caste that’s higher than the other Hindus are fossils. Like Khap people. The real low caste are those who claim to be savarnas, or belonging to some kind of an upper caste. Who gave them this right to call themselves ‘upper’ and the others ‘lower’? Those who say they are ‘upper caste’, in reality belong to the lowest class of human values and they abuse their dharma, which they say is Hindu.

Dalit Girl

Hisar must anger this nation, which is deeply engrossed in the IPL mud. We have sham pillars of democracy that thrive on casteism and hot money. Valmikis (dalits), tribal and other marginalized segments together form the majority of this nation. Yet, they are pushed out of every higher decision-making forum. Either they are hated and kept at bay by a cartel of influential caste-based groups or patronized — “well, you see they have to be accommodated, SC ko to lena hi padega na … mazboori hai”. These are the clichés we often hear in the power corridors. So-called dalit leaders are fake. They either consolidate their base through the easy way of spreading poison for other castes, using bad and strong language and aligning with deadlier elements of Islamist groups who use them for undermining Hindu solidarity. None of them have ever been seen helping their community through better schools and providing healthcare and sanitation facilities in their areas. Most of them learn to climb the stairs of political happiness through subjugating the interests of their flock and licking the boots of the political patrons.

I have seen an intrinsic hatred for the so-called low-caste people among the best of sermonizers who otherwise wax eloquent on the need of building a casteless society. I was abused, verbally assaulted by those who mattered just for taking up the cause of my Hindu brothers on the basis of what I have learnt in the RSS and hence got rid of my caste identity from my name. They, the all so-called fake high-caste conglomerate, would never allow a dalit girl’s burning taken up as a challenge to the Hindu society and discussed threadbare on channels and newspapers. Everywhere we see an abysmal absence of these segments, more so in the media. The channels, so passionately performing their duty on a Sania-Shoaib nikah or IPL-Tharoor masala, keep a studied silence with cursory mentions on issues of atrocities on dalits, especially on Valmikis.

In our daily life, the society intrinsically shows signs of hatred or at best aloofness from those whom we despicably refer to as scheduled castes and tribes. I know the arguments will be given how many extraordinary benefits these segments are receiving at the cost of the so-called higher castes. And even these castes have their poor who are forced to do menial jobs due to poverty. My only response to all these sham arguments is: “Try to live a day as an untouchable. Without friends in the circles that rule, be unlisted, ignored or patronized, always considered as ‘in becharon ko kuchh de do’ kind of people. Always blamed for the lethargic work in the offices and no-intelligence-just climbing up on crutches section. Then realize what it means to be a Valmiki. To be economically poor is bad. But to be poor and ‘untouchable’ is to be like a sub human. Choose.”

The test of your large heartedness and all-inclusive behaviour lies in self-introspection and not in quoting religious books advocating harmony and equality. Don’t quote the Gita or the Ramayana to Valmikis, they know what is written in it and what is not practised by the eloquent preachers. Answer the following:

1. Have you ever tried to celebrate Diwali or Rakhi with those who are called ‘untouchables’?

2. In your list of personal invitees, how many of these can be considered as your friends and visit your place with family as frequently as ‘others’?

3. In a puja or a family celebration do these ‘untouchables’ ever sit with you and perform the rites with Panditji as naturally as ‘others’?

4. If your daughter wants to marry a person of her choice and that happens to be a Valmiki, would you approve or disapprove?

5. Have you ever tried to know how these segments that have been around you and your ancestors and were not treated as well as they should have been, live their lives? Like the safai karamchari, whom you see every day, and try to avoid a ‘touch’ with her? Do they send their children to as good schools as you afford? And then do you also join the chorus that the government has given them too many facilities and the only sin that you have committed is to belong to a ‘higher caste’?

6. Can you describe the thread or the element that makes you feel that you belong to some sort of a higher caste and these, the ‘other’ people to a lower caste”?

7. Do you feel that the present-day pandit system, the priests’ order, needs a refreshing change and let the pujaris be more learned, with a good knowledge of Sanskrit, must get higher and reasonably good offerings (dakshina) and also the Valmiki youth, well trained and groomed for the job, be inducted as priests in Haridwar and all other temples and pilgrim centres? Let the opportunity to rise in society through IT, medical education and also priesthood be open to all Hindu sections without any caste-based discrimination?

8. How many ashrams, centres of spiritual rejuvenation and religious retreats would have these Valmiki and tribal segments of the society as devotees and as equal participants? Does it bother you if you find they are scantily represented even if they outnumber your castes?

9. Would you feel encouraged to ask a question to these high-profile gurus and saints that how many times in the last 10 years have they been to a Valmiki basti or have addressed a congregation for these segments in tribal areas, bringing the dharma and culture’s contemporary faces and flow to such areas also?

10. Have you ever thought that those who were declared outcastes by our common ancestors deserve a better deal through you and lets visit their house to see their condition and extend a hand of friendship, just for the sake of it, even if no other help can be given, and this act will not be an act of charity but a proactive action on part of those ancestors of ours who must be regretting their illogical behavior?

No offence intended indeed. Just try to hear the last cries of the physically challenged girl for help who was burnt for no crime except that she belonged to a caste, which the tehsildar didn’t.

Now, the last word for this piece.

The solution: produce more dalit journalists.

One of the better solutions to me is to help more and more youths from dalit and tribal segments to join mainstream journalism without the crutches of reservation. Have them trained in multimedia courses, through various schools of journalism. I am on board of a national university of journalism and can help. Even otherwise, would like to help as many young friends as possible through a specially crafted course and environment. I am sure friends will be there to help from all quarters. But at least it will do wonders to fill a very wide gap we see today. There is hardly any noticeable presence from these segments in our channels, editors’ groups and media houses. Why? Try to find an answer without blaming them with a bullshit — oh, they don’t come up on merit.

November 13, 2009

Learning Hindi & Sanskrit is good for your brain

Learning Hindi has an advantage over English-it exercises more areas of the brain compared to the Queen’s language.In a first-of-its-kind study in the country, scientists have discovered that reading Hindi involves more areas of human brain than English.

Scientists at the Manesar-based National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) have for the first time studied the processing of an Indian script-Devanagari-in the human brain using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).In Devanagari, consonants are written in a linear left-to-right order and vowel signs are positioned above, below or on either side of the consonants.

As a result, the vowel precedes the consonant in writing certain words but follows it in speech making it a unique script.”Our results suggest bilateral activation-participation from both left and right hemispheres of the brain-for reading phrases in Devanagari,” said Nandini Chatterjee Singh, who led the multi-disciplinary team of researchers.The human brain does not have dedicated neurological circuits specifically meant for reading.

 

Heart Chakra

Heart Chakra : Image Courtesy - http://www.shalagram.ru/

Therefore, reading involves restructuring of the existing neural architecture or activation of certain areas of the brain depending on the script one is reading.English, which uses the Roman script, is alphabetic. That is, it has vowels and consonants that are written linearly from left to right. Reading English-and other alphabetic languages-involves activation of areas in the left hemisphere of the brain.

In contrast, Devanagari has the properties of both alphabetic and syllabic scripts. Scientists have found reading the language involves activation of the left and right hemisphere.The result of the study has recently appeared in journal Current Science. Researchers used the fMRI technique to record images of a working brain while reading Hindi. The study was conducted with individuals who primarily read Devanagari.

“While it is difficult to find in India a population that reads only Hindi and no English, we could manage to find individuals who primarily read Hindi and have been doing so for the last 20 years,” Singh said.In India, she said, children usually learn to read two scripts (often English and a regional language) almost simultaneously in school.

“If this is the best way to teach our children still remains to be determined. What the implications of this are for dyslexia is also something we are investigating. The practical implications of our studies will hopefully emerge in the next few years,” Singh added.

Source: India Today

July 21, 2009

Geopolitics and Sanskrit Phobia

Filed under: Education,India,Indian Politics — Abhay @ 6:00 AM
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 For detailed article, visit this page. 

Geopolitics and Samskrit Phobia – Rajiv Malhotra.

This paper discusses the historical and contemporary relationship between geopolitics and Sanskrit, and consists of the following sections: 

0.I. Sanskrit is more than a language. Like all languages, its structures and categories contain a built-in framework for representing specific worldviews. Sanskriti is the name of the culture and civilization that embodies this framework. One may say that Sanskriti is the term for what has recently become known as Indic Civilization, a civilization that goes well beyond the borders of modern India to encompass South Asia and much of Southeast Asia. At one time, it included much of Asia.

0.II. Interactions among different regions of Asia helped to develop and exchange this pan-Asian Sanskriti. Numerous examples involving India, Southeast Asia and China are given.

0.III. Sanskrit started to decline after the West Asian invasions of the Indian subcontinent. This had a devastating impact on Sanskriti, as many world-famous centers of learning were destroyed, and no single major university was built for many centuries by the conquerors.

0.IV. Besides Asia, Sanskrit and Sanskriti influenced Europe’s modernity, and Sanskrit Studies became a large-scale formal activity in most European universities. These influences shaped many intellectual disciplines that are (falsely) classified as “Western”. But the “discovery” of Sanskrit by Europe also had the negative influence of fueling European racism since the 19th century.

0.V. Meanwhile, in colonial India, the education system was de-Sanskritized and replaced by an English based education. This served to train clerks and low level employees to administer the Empire, and to start the process of self-denigration among Indians, a trend that continues today. Many prominent Indians achieved fame and success as middlemen serving the Empire, and Gandhi’s famous 1908 monograph, “Hind Swaraj,” discusses this phenomenon.

0.VI. After India’s independence, there was a broad based Nehruvian love affair with Sanskrit as an important nation-building vehicle. However, successive generations of Indian intellectuals have replaced this with what this paper terms “Sanskrit Phobia,” i.e. a body of beliefs now widely disseminated according to which Sanskrit and Sanskriti are blamed for all sorts of social, economic and political problems facing India’s underprivileged classes. This section illustrates such phobia among prominent Western Indologists and among trendy Indians involved in South Asian Studies who learn about Sanskrit and Sanskriti according to Western frameworks and biases.

0.VII. The clash of civilizations among the West, China and Islam is used as a lens to discuss the future of Sanskriti across South and Southeast Asia.

VIII. Some concrete suggestions are made for further consideration to revitalize Sanskrit as a living language that has potential for future knowledge development and

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