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Jaldhar wrote:
>But the two are not the same.  Nirvana according to the Buddhists is 
>completely without qualities.  According to the Vedas, Brahman has the 
>qualities of Sat, Chit, and Ananda. 

Qualities  is not the right word. Sat-Chit-Ananda is  a pointer,
the nearest possible verbal expression of what is essentially
"beyond mind and speech". 

The "real" definition  of Brahm is
"not this, not this" (Brihad. Up.). 

To me it seems that if the above definition is used, then
there is no difference between Hinduism and Budhism.

> Jaldhar


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Date: Wed, 27 Jul 1994 15:03:25 -0700
From: Anand Bemra <anand@cadence.com>
Message-Id: <199407272203.PAA16077@negril.Cadence.COM>
To: hss_others@negril.Cadence.COM
Subject: No Full stops in India
Cc: hss_camp@negril.Cadence.COM
Status: OR

This is the introduction portion of Mark Tully's book, No Full Stops in India. 
Mark Tully has been a BBC correspondent for South Asia for a number of years.
His daugther recently married an Indian businessman.  He resigned from BBC 
because he felt he was not allowed to express his views in the way he wanted to.


'How do you cope with the poverty?' That must be the question I
have been asked most frequently by visitors to India. I often
reply,'I don't have to. The poor do.' It's certainly true. I live
a very comfortable life in Delhi, while the taxi-drivers who have
lived opposite me for fourteen years have to sleep in their cars in
the cold winter and on a charpai or light bedstead in the open
during the hot weather. I have a three-bedroomed flat. The taxi
rank is their home. My foreign guests expect the taxi-drivers to
take them back to their hotels whatever hour of the night it may
be. Before leaving, they will check the fare with me to make sure
the taxi- drivers don't get a few more rupees than they are due.
That's the way my guests usually 'cope with the poverty'.

The crocodile tears that have been shed over India's poor would
flood the Ganges, so there's no need for me to add my drop to
them. No matter how much it may upset my guests, it's better to be
honest and admit that I've learnt to live with India's poverty. The
only excuse I can give is that I'm not alone in this: most
prosperous Indians - and indeed the prosperous in all parts of the
world - have learnt to live with the fact that millions of Indians
live below what economists have defined as the poverty line.
Millions more don't have adequate housing and sanitation. The fact
that we, the fortunate of the world, still live with India's
poverty is a scandal. India - which barely rates as a trading
nation, which has no oil to export, which has no monopoly of any
other essential commodity, which has not adopted a hostile
ideology, which can threaten only its smaller neighbours - does not
count in the capitals of the West. It ought to count if we really
cared about coping with poverty.

The successful capitalist countries of the world are rejoicing
the downfall of communism, and in the West we are talking of the
final triumph of our civilization as though it was now proved that
there was no other way ahead but ours. But our civilization has
still to show that it can provide for the poor of the world. A
great deal of evidence indicates the opposite - that the West has
harmed the poor and continues to harm them. After all, it was our
civilization which left India a poor and backward country.
A. Vaidyanathan writes in the Cambridge Economic History of India
of the 'impoverished economy' which was the raj's legacy to India.
He says, 'Altogether the pre-independence period was a period of
near stagnation for the Indian economy.... There was hardly
any change in the structure of production or in productivity
levels. The growth of modern manufacturing was probably neutralized
by the displacement of traditional crafts, and in any case was too
small to make a difference to the overall picture.' It is also our
civilization that India has tried to follow since independence,
with results which certainly could not be described as a triumph.

There are many reasons why India in particular should make us
in the West aware of how much remains to be done in the
developing countries and of how many difficulties have still to be
overcome before anyone speaks of triumph. One is obviously the
size of the problem India faces. There are countries which are
poorer than India, there are countries which have made far less
economic progress, there are countries which don't have even the
rudiments of a modern state, but there is none which has so- many
poor people. India's nearest rival in this respect is China, but
the World Bank's World Development Report ( 1990) shows that there
are more than twice as many poor people in India than in China, and
more than four times as many extremely poor people.

China is a communist country but India is a parliamentary
democracy - surely that's another reason why we should take the
plight of India very seriously. China's achievements could mean
that it is communism which will triumph in the war against
poverty and democracy which will be defeated. I think that is
unlikely, but those who are now talking of the victory of freedom
should perhaps ponder the strange fact that one of the freest
countries in the world, which has made an all-out effort since
independence to eradicate its legacy of poverty, has been much
less successful in this than its communist neighbour. Of course
India's achievements in some fields are more impressive than
China's, but the fact remains that communism has provided better
education, better health services and more food and clothes for its
poor than democracy has.

In the Indian Express of 17 June 1990, the eminent Indian
economist Amartya Sen wrote, 'It is important to understand the
elite nature of India to make sense of India's policies.' He has,
for example, compared India's success in providing higher education
with what he has called 'the shocking neglect of elementary
education'. Why has giving every man a vote not meant the
transfer of power from the elite to the majority who in India are
undoubtedly the poor? I believe one of the main reasons is that
India's elite have never recovered from their colonial hangover,
and so they have not developed the ideology, the attitudes and the
institutions which would change the poor from subjects to partners.
in the government of India. Democracy has failed because the
people the poor have elected have ruled - not represented - them.
The ballot-box is only the first stage in democracy.

If all that were wrong with India were a particularly bad
hangover from the raj, there might well be room for optimism.
After all, even the worst hangover evaporates eventually, and in
the twenty-five years I have known the country I have seen many
of the more obvious relics of colonial rule disappear. India is no
longer a land dominated by brown sahibs imitating the ways of
the white sahibs who used to rule them. But India is still a land
dominated by foreign thinking, and I would suggest that
thinking is just as alien as the brown sahibs'. Colonialism teaches
the native elite it creates to admire - all too often to ape - the
ways of their foreign rulers. That habit of mind has survived in
independent India.

India's most successful students no longer knock at the doors of
the colleges of Oxford or Cambridge: they now prefer Harvard
or Yale. But what do they learn there which is relevant to
their country? The scientists are versed in technologies aimed at
reducing the role of human beings in production, although
labour is India's greatest asset. The doctors want to practise
medicine which provides the latest and most expensive techniques
of healing individuals, whereas India's need is for public health,
preventive medicine and simple cures which can be administered
by paramedical staff trained inexpensively. The business-school
graduates know how to administer complicated corporations with
billion-dollar assets - the sort of corporations which will put out
of business the small, labour-intensive and unsophisticated
industries that India is officially committed to encouraging. All
this is not surprising, because America is concerned about
educating students to propagate the American way of life and keep
its economy expanding.

What makes matters worse is the cultural imperialism of the
West, an imperialism now strengthened by our success in the battle
with communism. We don't need armies to hold down our modern
colonies, we don't need viceroys to administer them on our behalf:
our economic might holds them in captivity, and our apparent
success ensures that they accept, if not enjoy, their slavery.
Today most Indians see no alternative to our culture at the end of
this century, just as their grandparents and great-grandparents saw
no alternative to direct colonial rule at the start of the century.

The best way to destroy a people's culture and identity is to
undermine its religion and its language. We, the British, did that
as India's rulers and we continue to do that as part of the
dominant culture of the world now. It is true that the British
rulers of India were very cautious about Hinduism, especially after
the Mutiny. Unlike some colonial powers, we did not attempt to
convert India to Christianity. But we did create the impression
that our religion was superior to Hinduism. As a child in Calcutta,
I remember being told that Muslims were superior to Hindus
because at least they did not worship idols.

At independence, India adopted the contemporary Western
view that common sense dictates that religion be confined entirely
to the personal domain and kept out of all public life - to put it
at its kindest. What in fact the majority of people in the West
have done is to consign religion to the rubbish bin. 'Modern'
Indians Inevitably follow our example and anyone who does not
believe in keeping religion out of all forms of public life is
regarded as -'communal' - that is to say, totally biased in favour
of his own religious community. The elite's so-called secularism
inevitably degenerates into disrespect for religion. But the vast
majority of Indians, who do not enjoy the benefits of modernity,
still believe that religion is one of the most - if not the most -
important factors in their lives. I have to admit to believing that
the West is paying a very heavy price for its lack of religion, but
it has made the economic progress to achieve other goals in life -
ephemeral though they may be. What I think is manifestly wrong is
to disturb the religious beliefs of those who have no hope of any
other comfort, which is exactly what we have taught and are still
teaching the Indian elite to do. Not surprisingly, this is
producing a backlash in India - Hindu fundamentalism. The greatest
Indian leader of the century, Mahatma Gandhi, was a deeply
religious man, but he campaigned tirelessly against the excesses of
his own religion, Hinduism - particularly the humiliation of
Harijans or untouchables. At the same time, he knew the danger of
ridiculing rather than reforming religion. He believed that, in
India at least, politics needed religion. In his autobiography he
said, 'I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all
humility, that those who say religion has nothing to do with
politics do not know what religion means.'

A central tenet of what passes for the post-religious ideal is the
equality of all men. But, although all men may be equal in God's
eyes, they can never be equal in the eyes of other men, and
because of that basic flaw in the doctrine of egalitarianism we in
the West now talk of 'equality of opportunity'. The pursuit of
equal opportunities for all has many achievements to its credit,
but this ideal too is going to be realized only if there is another
life after this one. Our differences of opportunity start the
moment we are conceived. The gap widens as we live in different
families, go to different schools, are inspired or bored by
different teachers, discover or fail to discover our individual
talents and are given or not given the resources to develop those
talents. So it goes on throughout our lives. There will always be
winners and losers. The alienation of many young people in the west
and the loneliness of the old show the suffering that
egalitarianism inflicts on those who do not win, the superficiality
of an egalitarianism which in effect means equal opportunities for
all to win and then ignores the inevitable losers. Imagine how many
losers there must be in a country like India where many children
have their physical and mental growth stunted by malnutrition,
where many parents are forced to regard their families as economic
assets to be exploited in the child-labour market as soon as
possible and where education is often seen as a waste of time
because it does not lead to jobs or a better life. Imagine also
what would happen if egalitarianism and its companion individualism
destroyed the communities which support those who start life with
no opportunities.

For all that, the elite of India have become so spellbound by
egalitarianism that they are unable to see any good in the one
institution which does provide a sense of identity and dignity to
those who are robbed from birth of the opportunity to compete on
an equal footing- caste. Caste is obnoxious to the egalitarian
West, so it is obnoxious to the Indian elite too. The Statesman one
of the daily papers of the English-speaking elite, recently
published an article by Bernard Levin in which he told Indians what
to think of the caste system. He said,The roots of such evil [the
caste system] go very deep; so deep that until very recent times
those condemned through the accident of birth to occupy throughout
their lives the lowest place (and in India the lowest place is low
indeed) accepted their fate without any sign that they resented it
or that they could and should have a different and better one.
Many abominable cruelties have been practised on the low castes and
tribes; at one time hardly a week went by without a Harijan being
murdered because he had taken water from a well the use of which he
was denied and thus polluted it.

This article was applauded by the English-speaking elite in India.
One way to discredit any system is to highlight its excesses, and
Levin is right to say that the caste system has many of these. But
what the constant denigration of the caste system has done is to
add to the sense of inferiority that many Indians feel about their
own culture.

lt would lead to greater respect for lndia's culture, and indeed
a better understanding of it, if it were recognized that the caste
system has never been totally static, that it is adapting itself to
today's changing circumstances and that it has positive as well as
negative aspects. The caste system provides security and a com-
munity for millions of Indians. It gives them an identity that
neither Western science nor Western thought has yet provided,
because caste is not just a matter of being a Brahmin or a
Harijan: it is also a kinship system. The system provides a wider
support group than the family: a group which has a social life in
which all its members can participate. In the September 1989
issue of Seminar magazine, Madhu Kishwar, one of India's leading
feminists, wrote, 'Even though the survival of strong kinship and
community loyalties has some negative fallouts the existence of
strong community ties provides for relatively greater stability and
dignity to the individuals than they would have as atomised
individuals. This in part explains why the Indian poor retain a
strong sense of self-respect.' It's that self-respect which the
thought-less insistence on egalitarianism destroys. Madhu Kishwar
also pointed out that the support system provided by kinship ties
still provides greater social security than the combined effects of
all the schemes that successive socialist governments have
introduced to help the Indian poor. Every Indian government so far
has thought it necessary to adopt socialism as its political creed,
but none has tried to adapt that Western doctrine to the special
needs of India.

The attack on Indian languages started in 1835 with what the
Oxford History of India rightly describes as a 'fateful decision'
by the governor-general, Lord Bentinck. He ruled that 'the great
object of the British Government ought to be the promotion of
European literature and science.' He therefore directed that all
funds available for education should be 'henceforth employed in
imparting to the native population knowledge of English literature
and science through the medium of the English language'.

The spread of English as an international language has given a
new impetus to this onslaught on the languages of India. The
upper echelons of Indian society regard English as one of the
greatest gifts of the British. They have made it the language of
the exclusive Club they belong to, and parents who see half a
chance of getting their children admitted to the club will make any
sacrifice to provide an English-medium education for them. The
elite are not concerned that English has impoverished Indian
languages and stood in the way of the growth of an indigenous
national language. They insist that English must be preserved as
the common language of multilingual India, even though less than
3 per cent of the population have even a basic understanding of
it. Yet the irony is that we, the British, laugh at India's zeal
for our language, and Indian accents and Indian English have long
been a fruitful source of jokes. In my many years with the
BBC in India, I have often had contributors rejected because
of their 'thick accent'. 'It's too Peter Sellers', I am frequently
told. I hear thick European accents on the World Service -
accents which are certainly very difficult to understand on the
crackly signal that reaches Delhi. I doubt that many BBC
producers would tell a Frenchman that his accent was unac-
ceptable: they are only too happy to find Frenchmen willing
to speak our language. The French take an enormous pride in
their own language: the still colonized elite of India do not.

India has followed Western economic thinking too. When social-
ism was in fashion, Nehru rejected Mahatma Gandhi's plea for
development from the villages upward and concentrated on trying
to create an industrialized nation through centralized planning.
Now that the West has rejected socialism, the Indian elite talk of
liberalizing the economy, making consumerism the engine of
growth and allowing the wealth created to 'trickle down' to the
poor. The irony is that, during the years when Rajiv Gandhi was
liberalizing the economy, the growth in employment declined -
and that's the growth rate that matters most in India.

An Indian friend of mine attended a conference at Oxford in
the middle of the rejoicing over the downfall of communism in
Eastern Europe. When asked what he thought about the triumph
of democracy, he replied, 'I don't think it's democracy which has
triumphed - it's consumerism. And that's a disaster for us.' You
have only to watch the advertisements on Indian television to see
how successful consumerism is in India too, even though most
Indians have no hope of buying the goods advertised. we the
advocates of consumerism, might not be too happy if the day ever
came when they could buy the goods. The average Indian's
annual consumption of commercial energy is the equivalent of
210 kilograms of oil. A Briton consumes the equivalent of
3,756 kilograms of oil. India's population is around 900 million.
If each Indian were to start consuming the amount of commercial
energy a Briton does, that would mean the world finding the
equivalent of an extra 3,190 million tonnes of oil each year.
Imagine what consuming that would do to the greenhouse effect,
not to mention its effects on oil and other energy reserves.

Of course it's not just consumerism that has distorted the Indian
economy: many of its ills can be blamed on socialist controls which
have protected inefficient and often corrupt industrialists. But I
don't think it's good enough to say that all would be well if India
amended its policies, liberalized its economy and concentrated on
competing in the world market rather than protecting its own
market. That would mean massive investments going into
products which few could afford. In spite of all the controls,
investment is already slanted in favour of the elite. To take one
example, private transport is beyond the wildest dreams of most
Indians, but the streets of Delhi are nevertheless clogged up with
Japanese-designed cars and scooters which can compete in the
international market. For the less affluent there are only
decrepit, outdated and fuel-inefficient buses quite incapable of
providing an efficient service even if the roads were cleared for
them. There has been no development of suburban railways worth the
name, and not even any attempt to relieve the burden of the poor
man's taxi- driver - the cycle-rickshaw puller. He does not enjoy
the fruits of modern aerodynamics, metallurgy or engineering. His
vehicle hasn't changed in the twenty-five years I have known Delhi
- it's still inordinately heavy, and doesn't even have such modern
aids as gears.

In its 1990 report on poverty, the World Bank suggested that
those developing countries will be most successful which 'promote
the productive use of their most productive asset - labour' and
provide 'basic social services to the poor'. Officially, India has
spent the last forty or more years, trying to do that. On paper, or
in theory, it has not failed: laws have been passed and funds have
been voted to provide social services. The failure has been in the
implementation of the laws and the disbursement of the funds. To
implement and supervise the laws and policies, the elite who
dominate the administration would have to go into the countryside
and become involved in the lives of the villagers, but they resist
even being moved from the state capitals, where they enjoy the
comforts of modern conveniences, to the district headquarters.
There's an entertaining Hindi novel, Rag Darbari, about the
futility of the government's efforts in the countryside. Its
author, Shrilal Shukla, writes:

In the old days when the white men ruled India, the Rest Houses
where they stayed while touring villages were built on river banks
or in valleys, forests and mango groves - that is, wherever the
poetry of Wordsworth, Rabindranath Tagore or Sumitranandan Pant
came to mind. Such things as dust and bustle, cholera, smallpox and
plague, starvation and poverty, ugliness, bad manners and
unpleasantness found it very difficult to reach them.... Now there
have been hundreds of experiments in which brown sahibs have gone
from the town to the country, stayed in a village for a few days,
drunk the local water and returned alive and kicking without any
contagion or disease. By means of jeeps which stir up typhoons of
dust day and night, one thing has been settled - India, which until
now had been located in the towns, is spreading into the villages.

The cynical Shrilal Shukla was himself a member of the elite
cadre of government servants - the Indian Administrative Service.
He knows how experimental the stays in the villages have been,
and how administrators leap into their jeeps at the earliest
moment to rush back to their comfortable quarters in some govern-
ment compound and clear the dust from their lungs with purified
water, aerated soft drinks or stronger medicines.

If an industrialist does take advantage of the various tax and
other concessions available to those who venture into the
countryside, he will import all his key employees from the cities
and provide them with houses, schools and health centres so that
they do not have to interact with the locals or take any interest
in improving the facilities. Very often all the locals get is jobs
as cleaners and a little trade. Until administrators, doctors and
teachers spread out from the cities and settle in the countryside,
no end of investment in school buildings or health centres will
provide the effective social services which the World Bank rightly
says are so essential for balanced development.

The failure to deliver has brought democracy into disrepute.
During the 1989 general election, I asked a labourer who he was
going to vote for. He replied, 'What does it matter? Whoever I
vote for will put my vote in his own stomach.' Disillusionment
with politicians has spawned its own vocabulary. One phrase
which has gone straight into Hindi without translation is 'vote-
bank'. It means the politician's practice of trying to build up the
support of a caste or religious community by making promises
specific to its members - promises that are not fulfilled. Another
telling usage is the word 'kursi' or 'seat'. In political terms,
this is the seat on which an office holder sits, and has come to
signify the unscrupulousness with which a politician fights for
that seat and the tenacity with which he sticks to it if
successful. Then there is 'Aya ram gaya ram', or 'He's just come
and he's gone.' That describes the many politicians who change
their parties with each fluctuation in their political fortunes. A
'note chapne ka machine', or a currency-note printer, refers to a
scheme involving large sums of money from which the politician will
take his cut. Most political pundits credit the Indian voter with
great wisdom because he has consistently thrown out politicians who
fail to perform, but the system does not seem to allow-anyone to
make radical changes, so the time will surely come when the Indian
voter will lose faith in the system too.

India has shown that democracy alone is not enough - nor,
incidentally, is economic growth. What are required are politics
and a political system which are relevant to India's past
traditions and present circumstances. In Rationalism in Politics
and Other Essays, the political scientist Michael Oakeshott wrote,
'Those societies which retain, in changing circumstances, a lively
sense of their own identity and continuity (which are without
hatred of their own experience which makes them desire to efface
it) are to be counted fortunate not because they possess what
others lack but because they have already mobilized what none is
without and all, in fact rely on.' The elite who dominate modern
India believe that all that's good comes from outside and are
certainly not without 'hatred of their own experience' but do
'desire to efface it'. We in the West do not hate India's
experience: we despise it and believe that what we have to offer is
far superior. As satellite television spreads, it will be even
harder for the many courageous but uninfluential Indians who
realize the rightness of Oakeshott's words to fight the pressure
from outside. They will become more and more marginalized. It's my
belief that if we are really serious about coping with India's
poverty we too have to show far greater respect for India's past
and perhaps even learn from it ourselves, for we have still not
shown that we have the answers to poverty. We must be aware that
our way of life is encouraging thinking and policies which increase
poverty and instability in the less prosperous parts of the world.
Development is more than mere economics.

I am well aware that I will be accused of advocating a return to
some golden age of India which never existed. Many will say I am
trying to drag India backwards - to deny it the fruits of modern
science and technology and to rob it of the freedom of democracy.
Such critics are, I believe, in effect accepting the claim that
there is now only one way: that Western liberal democracy has
really triumphed. Of course India must live in today's world, and
its citizens must feel that they are progressing and prospering.
India must keep abreast of all the latest knowledge, but it must
adapt that knowledge to its own problems, it must build on its own
traditions and beliefs. In The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi is
quoted as saying, 'My Swaraj [self-rule, or independence] is to
keep intact the genius of our civilization. I want to write many
new things but they must all be written on the Indian slate. I
would gladly borrow from the West when I can return the
amount with decent interest.'  It should be possible for India to
preserve its own genius and to build a nation according to its
lights, for, as Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the philosopher who
became India's second  President in his edition of the Upanishads,
'The characteristic genius of the Indian mind is not to shake the
beliefs of the common man but to lead them by stages to the
understanding of the deeper philosophical meaning behind their
beliefs.' But the Western world and the Indian elite who emulate it
ignore the genius of the Indian mind. They want to write a full
stop in a land where there are no full stops.

The stories I tell in this book will, I hope, serve to illustrate
the way in which Western thinking has distorted and still distorts
Indian life - I might almost say they are parables. They provide
no answers to India's poverty, but I believe they do suggest where
we should begin to look for those answers - in India itself.

----- End Included Message -----


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