Saturday, December 29, 2012

Absurdities of Caste Genetic Studies - Notes

It appears population genetics studies are a great platform for new age Manu-s to come up with their own classification of different castes. It's unclear whether these new classifications are the results of latent casteism of the researchers involved or some kind of political pressure or some kind of malicious game being played.

Check the following from a new study on South Indian castes (which is an exaggerated claim as the study included samples from Tamil Nadu only) [1].

Indian populations are broadly classified into two categories: ‘tribal’ and ‘non-tribal’ groups [3]. Tribal groups, constituting 8% of the Indian population, are characterized by traditional modes of subsistence such as hunting and gathering, foraging and seasonal agriculture of various kinds [2], [3]. In contrast, most other Indians fall into non-tribal categories, many of them classified as castes under the Hindu Varna (Color caste) system which groups caste populations, primarily on occupation, into Brahmin (priestly class), Kshatriya (warrior and artisan), Vyasa (merchant), Shudra (unskilled labor) and the most recently added fifth class, Panchama, the scheduled castes of India [2], [3].
First, I must appreciate that the description is far more academic than the one we found in the study of the Roma.

But what on earth is Kshatriya -> warrior and artisan? First of all, the four fold Varnashrama doesn't fit to the South Indian society (if at all it fits anywhere). But as of now, that's a first with the Kshatriya definition. Let's check the castes part of warriors and artisans.

Valayar -> Erstwhile Net weavers
Tamil Jains -> Jains (thus not a caste)
Ezhava -> This is a Malayali caste. Erstwhile agricultural labourers and toddy tappers
Mukkuvar -> Erstwhile fishermen

Theoretically, I suppose Valayar could be considered as artisans. However, from a general caste perspective typical artisans were smiths (goldsmith, carpenter, blacksmith etc...). They were not included in the study.

If being a soldier can be considered as a warrior/Kshatriya then, almost all castes in South India fit the bill. In certain regions few castes were exempted (not really because of their lower status, as Brahmins were also exempted) and most other castes had to send men when their feudal chieftain went for a battle. Most of the Dalit castes were also part of armies (true in Kannada/Tulu and Tamil regions as far as I know). However, the status of these castes were always low. Being a soldier had nothing to do with upward mobility or "assimilation".

How Tamil Jains became part of the list is still a mystery. 

Then there is a special category of "Dry Land Farmers" and it includes the following castes.
Yadhava -> herders
Vanniyar -> farmers
Nadar -> agricultural labourers, toddy tappers (equivalent to Malayali Ezhavas)
Piramal Kallar -> ?
Maravar -> ?

I wonder when Ezhava could be part of the warriors why not Kallar, Maravar and Nadar?

Also, I'm just disappointed to see the reliance on the oldest Tamil works to create an early Dravidian society. At least, in my opinion most of interpretations were nationalistic, highly biased and many of them not even peer reviewed (which I came to know was the case with the Brahmin apologist George L Hart's interpretation).

They make the following claim and I feel these (bolded) are strawman arguments.
It is therefore most likely that the Varna system was superimposed on the pre-existing and historically attested social system without significant population transfer or input, implementing a new social hierarchy and order during the Pallava/Chola period from the 6th through 12th centuries CE [15], [22]. However, the implementation of the Varna system may have not been uniform across preexisting non-tribal populations since many of the populations within DLF and tribes do not practice either Vedic rituals or have very definite patrilineal system and clan exogamy. Overall, our results suggest that the genetic impact of Brahmin migrations into TN has been minimal and had no major effect on the establishment of the genetic structure currently detected in the region

I suppose many Dravidian endogamous tribes became endogamous castes as society became sedentary. In fact, some of the endogamous castes had endogamous clans, likely showing different tribal origins but later consolidation under one identity because of the caste system. I suppose even now one can find endogamous tribes that speak the same language (eg. Pathans). My point is it's irrelevant if there were many endogamous communities before the enforcement of the caste system. It also masks the ritualized discrimination which was the caste system by equating the divisions to tribal endogamy.

Nevertheless, it requires a great stretch of imagination to call populations of that antiquity in South India (with a primitive agricultural setup) a structured society and also absolute naivety to believe the neat classification described in the texts (which clearly describe people with a complete idea of the caste system living in that society).

1. Population Differentiation of Southern Indian Male Lineages Correlates with Agricultural Expansions Predating the Caste System - Arun Kumar et al. (2012)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Random Thoughts - Love_Lust

Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (aka Farrokh Bulsara) was clearly Homosexual-Heteroamoural.

So the present list includes:
Heterosexual-Heteroamoural -> Anna Karenina (Fictional, Anna Karenina), Max Weber
Heterosexual-Homoamoural -> Nick Carraway (Fictional, The Great Gatsby)
Heterosexual-Inamoural -> Emma Bovary (Fictional, Madame Bovary)
Homosexual-Homoamoural ->  Uncle Frank (Fictional, Little Miss Sunshine)
Homosexual-Heteroamoural -> Francis Bacon, Freddie Mercury
Homosexual-Inamoural -> ?
Asexual-Heteroamoural-> ?
Asexual-Homoamoural -> ?
Asexual-Inamoural -> ?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Section 295A -Blasphemy law

Even though this is one of the legacies of the colonial period, it certainly appeals to a large herd minded believers in India. Now there is a clamour among liberal society to repeal this act as Sanal Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Association, has become its latest victim.

In my opinion, instead of repealing this act, there should be couple of clauses that can render it little more civilized.

1. Religious feelings are not considered hurt or outraged if the person in question is born to a parent or parents of the same religion, whether practicing or atheist. This should be a natural corollary to the fundamental right, 'freedom of religion', as  enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

2. Religious feelings  are not considered hurt or outraged if a person of any other religious denomination or an atheist has used scientific methods to attack it. This should be seen as part of the person's obligation to the fundamental duty of 'developing scientific temper' as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Roma - III

A previous paper on Roma found maternal lineages originating from north-west of India. A new paper is now reporting that even their paternal lineages could be traced to the same location[1]. Their main lineage H1a1a has haplotype matches with a nomadic tribe, Doma, hailing from that region. They reconcile their linguistic and folk origins which puts them in the Gangetic belt (Central Indo-Aryan) by noting Doma's spread from north-west to eastern India.

Of course, there is the Gyaneshwar Chaubey(one of the authors in the study) special in the study:
Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes are the endogamous groups in India that are given a special status by the Government of India to uplift their social status (for more details, refer [47]). Historically, the assimilation of so-called tribals into the caste system generally did little to ameliorate the socio-economic barriers or enhance the marriageability of former outcastes to members of the middle or high castes.
Let's analyze those sentences.
1. This is a research paper. Do you introduce a group as something that has been given special status? That should be the last sentence in a long essay. I suppose an introduction to untouchability and isolated non-mainstream groups in India would have been in order.

2. In the second sentence, the use of the word 'assimilation' gives a positive spin to what in reality a 'name calling' and exclusion of groups. The word assimilation in fact puts the onus of the failure directly at their doorstep.

3. Basically, those two sentences are some kind of observation and not really neutral definition or introduction thus a complete absurdity in a research paper.

1. The Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup H1a1a-M82 Reveals the Likely Indian Origin of the European Romani Populations - Niraj Rai et al. (2012)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Random Thoughts - Love_Lust

There is an interesting essay in The New Yorker on Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I suppose the author is basically making a point that Anna Karenina is indeed a love story and not a lust story so presented in a latest movie based on the novel.

I read the novel seventeen years ago. I suppose classics are wasted on teenagers. I don't remember anything from the novel except for that one scene.

Anna was planning to return home after visiting her brother's. Her nephews and nieces were very much attached to her. So one day before the departure she became aloof to them. When they felt that their aunt no longer gave them any attention they also withdrew from her.

I don't know why but I remember this.

Regarding the character Anna, I suppose, she is a regular heterosexual and heteroamoural woman. But I thought Emma Bovary was a more rounded character than Anna. Maybe I can understand Emma better as she also comes from a middle class family where money is a constant requirement. In fact, her tragedy is her misfortune with money even though according to my understanding she shouldn't be succumbing to materialist addiction. Anna's story I can only read as a distant observer as I don't have the background to relate.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Random Thoughts - Astrology

I have this nagging thought that whether one should only oppose Astrology as a pseudo-science or should also consider it as a criminal offense if an astrologer makes negative predictions. I would guess sometimes they should even be arrested for culpable homicide. Two events have set me thinking in this direction.

Couple of years ago, I participated in a discussion in an atheist forum. One of the participants gave many examples where he had seen the predictions of an astrologer coming true. I found many of them dubious but the one prediction that interested me was about his father's death. According to him, his father died on the same day that was predicted by the astrologer.

I know a family who are hopeless believers. Unlike that rationalist with an ambiguous attitude towards astrology because of his experiences, I get plenty of hilarious examples from this family that only strengthens my conviction about its pseudo-science status. But I suppose I should be neutral and go by only the scientific studies. Couple of recent ones in the family are;

1. An old woman who is supposed to be dead by August 4th of this year is still alive
2. A young man is looking for a suitable match. He has 'Mars Fault' so can only marry a girl with that condition. But there is an additional clause that faults in both Horoscopes should lie in same house. Or so their astrologers had told.

From the prospective brides' side, it turns out that;
- The additional clause that faults should lie in the same house is wrong and in fact based on other positions, faults in different houses are auspicious and the same house is dangerous
- The guy's horoscope reading itself is wrong and he doesn't even have that 'Mars Fault'!

These prospective brides' astrologers are even more reputed than the guy's astrologers or so accepted by the guy's family. I'm sure they will overcome this momentary crisis of faith and get back to astrologers with even more vigour. Last checked they haven't gone to that astrologer and asked their money back(or chided him) since the old woman is not dead.

Anyway, I believe the reason this old woman didn't die like that old man was because he knew about the prediction and she didn't (keeping underlying medical conditions common in both cases). I would think any negative prediction would have psychological impact like 'white coat hypertension'. It would be better to study any such "successful" negative predictions with this angle. What if those persons would have had few more years to live but for those predictions?

Monday, November 05, 2012

babul mora naihar chooto hi jaaye

Search for "babul mora naihar chooto hi jaaye" and you'll find hundreds of links to this famous song composed by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Oudh. He composed this when he was exiled by the East India Company, when they took over his kingdom.

Satyajit Ray's only Hindi movie, - "shatranj ke khiladi", based on Munshi Premchand's short story is to be watched to understand the character of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.

I've translated this song into English, trying to retain the poetry.

O’ father, the home I grew up in is slowly
fading away;
Four men are bedecking my palanquin (coffin)
 with flowers;
And soon I have to leave behind
all that is mine.

I see an unfamiliar garden that seems
a mountain to me;
And my new courtyard seems
an outside land;

O’ father, I’m going away, never to
come back!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Random Thoughts- Love_Lust

Gustave Flaubert's Emma is a complicated character and the setting is confusing. I tried to dissect her love and lust profile. Some of the points that I could list out to understand her character are the following.

1. She doesn't feel any love for Charles, her husband
2. She lusts after men both rich (Rodolphe) and poor (Leon)
3. She doesn't feel any maternal love towards Berthe, her daughter
4. She is a materialist and addicted to that
5. She doesn't have any words to express her love
6. She isn't smart enough to see through the game of Lherueux, the shopkeeper
7. She is smart and quick witted enough to give excuses to her husband when her affairs were about to be exposed
8. She is seduced by Rodolphe like ruling class seducing poor farmers and
9. by Leon like an actor seducing his audience

From (1), (2), (5), (6) and (8). I would say she's a heterosexual, inamoural woman victim of manipulations of capitalist and feudal patriarchal societies acting in their own ways.

However, her lack of love to her daughter appears to be added to give her somewhat a negative character. The areas of the brain that gets turned on during sexual love, romantic love and parental love are mostly mutually exclusive. Even if one lacks romantic love, I suppose that doesn't make her/him automatically lose parental love.

(4) is rather strange. The brain region that overlaps with addiction is love and not lust. But the character is inamoural so I suppose she shouldn't have any addictions too.

(7), I suppose, again, added to give her a negative touch. Or it may be that she's a product of  the feudal patriarchal society where the person is dumb in front of a stronger one and manipulative of a weaker one. So, it might not be a negative character and even here too she's a victim of patriarchal thought that she's imbibed (and resulting in victimization of the weaker characters).

(9) is a direct message that by taking seriously make belief world of dramas and stories people become irrational. Or in other words by conquering their crave for love seducers can make them open up their lust. But being an inamoural woman Emma shouldn't be succumbing to the charms of the words in stories and if my characterization as an inamoural is incorrect then Madame Bovary should have been a story of love instead of lust( Emma found again in adultery all the platitudes of marriage). Even the shy Leon gains her after he becomes "confident with women" or after he masters feudal-patriarchal game of conquest.

Gutenberg Project

Friday, November 02, 2012

Idea of god

Just a flash idea. It came when I was listening to a Bhimsen Joshi's classical rendition - "main to tumara daas janam janam.." (I'm your servant for eternity, in this life and every new life).

Though god has been declared dead by many philosophers and in today's effluent society, the market value of god has gone down significantly, when the idea of god originated, I think it was really revolutionary!

So, this idea is about why it's good for a poor man, who may be constantly exploited by the man he works for, to believe in god. Consider that you are working for a man, who swears at you and treats you badly but you have no option but to oblige because you don't know what will happen if you lose this job. Then comes god! You say to yourself, I'm not bothered by what this man does to me. I'm only answerable to god. When the rich man you work for says,  "Just see what I will do to you, you xxxxx." You can say - ".... there is god" The rich man is not offended because the rich man also believes in the supremacy of god. You, on the other hand, believe god is on your side. It gives you solace. This way you have an invisible friend. Apart from a strong shoulder to lean on in difficult times (like death of a dear one), idea of god also gives you right to relax and take time off to celebrate festivals. When the rich man says - "Come on Sunday, I need this cleaned up." you can say - ".... not on Sunday, there is puja in the temple...." etc.

This thought helps me understand why the Black slaves of North America turned to Christianity. Same thing holds good to poor people working in a feudal society. It also explains why a revolutionary society (like Communist society) wants to ban religion. If one believes in religion, his response to exploitation will be naturally subdued. Karl Marx wrote "Religion is the opium of the people". This thought helps me understand Marx's statement better.

This thought is making me take pride in religion again. Long live religion! We just cannot afford to be a god-less society. But will religion stop revolution? Perhaps, but revolution is always run by a few frontrunners and rest of the people need god to lead a bearable life in his harsh world.

There is a corollary too to this idea. One can try to replace god by market in the above example. You are a poor man; you are exploited. Over time the society (including you) has outgrown god but you have a strong market. So you turn to the market (just like you turned to god in the above context) to escape exploitation.You quit your job and get a new one. You continue doing this till you get an employer who respects you and you find happiness. This should be the ideal situation in an ideal world. This will bring an end to all exploitation. But...the market is not infallible like god. When the market is good, you are fine but when it turns bad, you become a slave. But now, having lost your god, you have no one to turn to. You cannot be happy in this situation without god. Therefore, I believe, it's becoming more relevant to keep god alive in today's market-oriented world where poverty is on the rise and not the contrary.

If one believes that happiness and pleasant life is the single most important thing in this world for all people - rich and poor - and that a large percentage of the people in the world will always be poor, then one cannot imagine a world without god!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Random Thoughts - Love_Lust

Based on my classifications of human love/lust orientations, I would propose the character Nick in 'The Great Gatsby' is basically a confused Heterosexual-Homoamoural.

The general impression because of his sexual encounter with Mr. McKee and his closeness with Gatsby, I suppose, is that of a homosexual male. His breakups with girlfriends give an idea that he is not really into girls. But I would think it's basically a confusion he developed because of incompatible orientation.

I believe the following excerpts give an idea of his orientation and because of it his confusion about his sexuality.

Chapter 2: Nick meets McKee at a party
"I have been drunk just twice in my life, and the second time was that afternoon."

"Mr. McKee was a pale, feminine man from the flat below."

"'Keep your hands off the lever', snapped the elevator boy.
   'I beg your pardon,' said Mr. McKee with dignity, 'I didn't know that I was touching it'."
    "...I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.
      Beauty and the Beast...Loneliness....Old Grocery Horse...Brook'n Bridge...."

The sexual encounter has been shown in a negative light. Nick wasn't in control of the situation. McKee basically groped and then raped the drunken Nick. Obviously, that would be the last time he had been drunk. However, McKee looks feminine. Thus incident is of confusion and not of clear exploitation.

Chapter 3: Nick narrates his brief affair
"I even had a short affair with a girl who lived in Jersey City and worked in the accounting department, but her brother began throwing mean looks in my direction, so when she went on her vacation in July. I let it blow quietly away."
Very clearly Nick is attracting homosexual males. The lack of heteoamourality makes it easy for him to leave the girl as he doesn't not want unwanted attention from the brother.

Chapter 4: Jordon reminisces her teenage past
"I had on a new plaid skirt also that blew a little in the wind, and whenever this happened the red, white and blue banners in front of all the houses stretched out stiff and said tut-tut-tut-tut, in a disapproving way."
This is a sexually teasing description. Curiously, Nick also describes Jordon as a masculine figure. The character Jordon appears to be created with an idea of both masculine and feminine traits. Thus apparently satisfying Nick's heterosexual and homoamoural orientation.

Chaper 6: Nick listens to Gatsby's passionate encounter with Daisy and remembers his shame
"At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was compete."

"Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was reminded of something-an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago. For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man's, as though there was more struggling upon them than a wisp of startled air. But they made no sound, and what I had almost remembered was uncommmunicable forever."

Nick clearly understands that the passionate encounter between Gatsby and Daisy (heterosexual-heteroamoural) was everything that his experience was not. Or there was no incarnation with McKee.

 The way incidents happen and characters describe, I would think the narrator is positively a heterosexual and homoamoural male.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Random Thoughts - Love_Lust

I haven't read Plato to have an opinion whether his 'Platonic love' is really about non-sexual love ( or love) between males or sexual love ( or lust) between them. Let me consider the term's general description as a non-sexual love between males. Since the recent studies of the brain have shown that the areas that get activated during love and lust are mostly mutually exclusive, I consider 'Platonic love' is a valid term. I'm going to redefine it as 'Homoamourality' and thus apply to both men and women. The lack of love between the same sex people would be then 'Inamourality'.

I suppose a person can be classified into the following categories:

1. Heterosexual and Heteroamoural
2. Homosexual and Homoamoural
3. Heterosexual and Homoamoural
4. Homosexual and Heteroamoural
5. Asexual and Heteroamoural
6. Asexual and Homoamoural
7. Heterosexual and Inamoural
8. Homosexual and Inamoural
9. Asexual and Inamoural

I believe for a deep same sex friendship, persons need to be homoamoural. If they are either heteroamoural or inamoural then they find it difficult to develop friendship with the same sex.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Communism and Kerala - VII

Casteism is kept alive not only by the caste specific marriages but also by immanence of the castes brought up in the occupational caste world view. Just as a person shouldn't want to continue his traditional manual scavenging job, it is equally important that a person because of his Brahmin background shouldn't want to become a priest, scholar or teacher (overlooking the narrowness of that idea in the past) . So any direct or indirect methods to break this uni-dimensional thought process should be welcomed.

It is with this background I find the communists' opposition to FDI in retail sector disappointing. Unfortunately, Indian communists never made an attempt to apply the communist ideas based on the class based European society to the caste based Indian society.

Their love for small scale retailers who I would think never would vote or fund communist parties defies the logic. This is the place where they need to stand by the ideology (that is they want to eradicate caste ideas of traditional occupations). Shouldn't be difficult for them to make this paradigm shift as they appear to have forsaken some of their economic ideas.

I had come across opinions that the cultural revolution in China, even though harmed a countless number of people, was also responsible for a new and liberated way of thinking. I would think these kind of reforms, though hardly of the scope and the scale of the cultural revolution, that could bring down the existing artifacts because of the caste system are always welcome. I'm sure everyone would bounce back from any setbacks because of the reforms as they already have "cultural capital" unlike the  huge chunk of faceless population.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Just Individual - III_a

I have previously argued that 'innate' morality might not be true. The mechanism for morality involves series of steps. A new study has come to similar conclusions that babies may not have innate morality.

From Science Daily
New research from New Zealand's University of Otago is casting doubt on a landmark US study that suggested infants as young as six months old possess an innate moral compass that allows them to evaluate individuals as 'good' or 'bad'.

The 2007 study by Yale University researchers provided the first evidence that 6- and 10-month-old infants could assess individuals based on their behaviour towards others, showing a preference for those who helped rather than hindered another individual.

Based on a series of experiments, researchers in the Department of Psychology at Otago have shown that the earlier findings may simply be the result of infants' preferences for interesting and attention grabbing events, rather than an ability to evaluate individuals based on their social interactions with others.
According to the researchers this morality can be explained by simple association hypothesis. The mechanism to invoke 'self pity' is also similar. In the case of preferred event, there would be self pity against the hinderer and in the case of non-preferred event no mechanism.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Just Individual - notes

When I was going thro' the article, Suppressing Feelings of Compassion Makes People Feel Less Moral, it reminded my own dilemmas.

Around ten years ago, I started ignoring beggars completely. My reasons for it have evolved over time. However, during the initial days, I used to feel somewhat uneasy.  I used to give a big amount of money to one or the other person just to make sure I haven't lost my compassion. But over time I have stopped it.

I guess a person is clearly aware of his/her diluting compassion whenever s/he takes such steps. However, the awareness wasn't articulated until now.

From the article:
People who had suppressed compassion did, apparently, have a change in their sense of morality: they were much more likely to either care less about being moral or to say that it's all right to be flexible about following moral rules. Cameron thinks this is because suppressing feelings of compassion causes cognitive dissonance that people have to resolve by rearranging their attitudes or beliefs about morality.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Just Individual - v

As I discussed previously, morality's basic block is empathy which originates from 'self pity'[ii]. Since the mechanism of empathy requires few traits and faculties[iii], this empathy and in turn morality need not be unique to human beings. There are studies that have observed empathy and/or morality in other animals too[i].

I have also observed that, in some situations, empathy can turn to oneself  when the empathy to others results in loss to self[iv]. Then the person considers the greater morality in his/her self-preservation as the self-pity to himself/herself masks everything else. Therefore, morality has its limitations because of its underlying empathy mechanism. However, some of the religions have adopted morality of this nature as a noble way.

The famous story of Jesus rescuing a woman from an angry mob by invoking self-pity of people for their own sins and making them feel guilty for not empathizing with the woman is a wellknown case here. Even though not a rational way, it's still acceptable since it rescued a non-criminal powerless woman from a certain death.  However, even today, many, even among rationalists, unquestioningly, take this story as a guiding force of morality.

Just the other day,  I read a journalist deriding the movement against corruption as one set of corrupts fighting other set of corrupts. He makes a fundamental mistake that politicians or bureaucrats are as powerless or non-criminal as the woman in Jesus's story. More importantly, it's also lost to the journalist that it's a ploy to rescue a woman who was obviously not guilty. However, the story is lost but contextless generalization of one sinner condemning the other is left.

In another development, I read a person invoking 'cast the first stone' in a discussion related to a news that ministers in Karnataka were caught watching porn in the Legislative Assembly. The self-pity gets so strong here that the legality aspect of watching porn in restricted areas gets lost.

Thus I believe morality is a primitive trait. It anyway doesn't set us apart from other animals (Why do we have to bother about that point anyway?) and it also has its limitations. Therefore, logically, if humans want to really make themselves unique then they should be just. Justice cannot be decided by individuals because the morality of an individual for the self overrides it. Justice is a communal morality. It directs rightful empathy towards an individual even if it meant displeasing the morality of communities. So, it's a communal morality for the sake of an individual.

An individual is a just person if s/he subscribes to this communal morality and ready to condemn herself/himself in certain situations.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Dubious Term Called Westernization - VI

Gandhi over enthusiastically embraced some of the Europeans' views on national identity , vegetarian fadism and non-violence to further his own notion of Indian identity. One such view was from Chesterton.

When I see... the views of Indian nationalists, I get bored and feel dubious about them. What they want is not very Indian and not very national... Suppose an Indian said: 'I wish India had always been free from white men and all their works. Everythign has its own faults and we perfer our own.. I prefer dying in battle to dying in [a Western] hospital.. If you (the British) do not like our way of living, we never asked you to. Go, and leave us with it.'
            Supposing an Indian said that, I should call him an Indian nationalist. He would be an authentic Indian... But the Indian nationalists whose works I have read and go on saying: 'Give me a ballot box. Give me the judge's wig. I have a natural right or be Prime Minister. My soul is starved if I am excluded from the editorship of the Daily Mail.' Even the most sympathetic person may say in reply: 'What you say is very fine, my good Indian, but it is we who invented these things.'
 The problem with Gandhi and Chesterton was that both make a fundamental mistake of creating a national homogenous identities bordering on racial identity. This identity has its own unique characteristics. This is absurd. In this case ,Gandhi's intellectualism doesn't look better than Anna Hazare's.

The 'we' in Chesterton's doesn't even apply to all people that he would identify with. If the inventions are so unique then they don't even have to bother about others claiming it because the others would have natural disability to own them. Now, since that is not the case, it is obvious that the ideas can spread across human groups. And we also can see that the dominant cultural strain can suppress these ideas in certain regions. However, it would be fallacy that few people in other region would not have thought about those 'inventions' in the first place.

So, Gandhi's quest for an Indian identity was flawed from the beginning.

1. Mohandas, by Rajmohan Gandhi

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Moral Individual - iv

As an individual progresses in life, there would be many instances where s/he finds her/himself guilty of harm to another person or a group of persons (and vice versa but focus is on the morality of the individual here). This harm was not initiated by the person him/herself but because of  cultural norms was part of the life. The perpetrator and the victim both were unaware of this relationship and the perpetrator always imagined a noble ring or a mutually enjoyable act in the way s/he associated with the other person.

The perpetrator realizes this(harm) as s/he acquires greater knowledge about the long term implications in the form of emotional or physical or one feeding the other harms to the other person. Let us consider this person has developed empathy because of self-pity. How would s/he respond to this situation?

Let's consider the worst case scenario, where the perceived normal relationship has been highly beneficial to his/her emotional or physical needs. In this case, a radical change in the relationship is difficult. In this situation, the crystal clear knowledge of the harm s/he has caused or s/he is going to cause in the long term gets blurred. S/he develops a new self-pity in the eventuality of conceding his/her fault.

A new self-pity on his/her perceived struggle without the psychological or physical fulfillment of his/her needs would make him/her to go slow on his/her own determination to change. It also develops a cynical rationalization that the permanent harm could have been done already before s/he acquired the knowledge of it and any change on his/her part would anyway make no difference.

A society with the burden of many cultural and ritualized practices which deny human rights to individuals or ask them to perform acts with a self-serving reason that those are 'common', cannot hope to correct itself by individuals' goodness. The individual goodness is strongly dependent on the empathy based on the self-pity and the self-pity can develop with the loss of privilege which in turn redirects the empathy requirement on the perpetrators themselves. In such cases, a non-individualistic action called justice which only seeks to correct the wrong done on individuals disregarding perpetrator individual empathy is the only true morality.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Random Thoughts - Love_Lust

This article on Asexuals is inline with the previous findings that love and lust are mutually independent feelings. According them, asexuals can be divided into 'romantic asexuals' and 'aromantic asexuals'. An asexual can fall in love with other person.

As implied, sexuals are defined by the presence of 'lust' and asexuals by the lack of it, not only that, both sexuals and asexuals can be defined by the presence or absence of 'love'.

So, humans can be;
- Sexually romantics
- Asexually romantics
- Sexually aromantics
- Asexually aromantics

However, a sexual individual's orientation could be any of these combinations based on the person s/he meets.

If I think about it there could be persons who lack the feeling 'love' completely just as some people lack 'lust'. I think these people are yet to 'come home'. So, when I talked about presence or absence of love in the beginning it's about mutual phenomenon. But lack of love can be a self phenomenon just like lack of lust.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Communism and Kerala - VI

I'm reading George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. I have finished around 150 pages and I find it difficult to read further. The initial excitement at his description of a totalitarian system has been vaporized by a  colligated romantic story.

It could be said that even in his imagination of a totalitarian society he had been helped by the existing systems elsewhere and had taken it to the logical conclusion. However, it was his female characters that one would feel a total letdown.

I'm not mixing my thoughts here. A totalitarian society is created by a collection of people. Females are individuals. One can stereotype a totalitarian society and still get it right because it is not  individualistic. However, a person's experience of females cannot be stereotyped because at  the end of the day he's dealing with any female as an individual. Here I found Orwell had caricatured females.

Both Katherine and Julia are stereotyped females. One has obedience in her bones; the other has rebellion. I get the feeling that neither of them grew into their selves with some kind of irrational or rational logic. They just happened to be like that. On the other hand, Winston is trying to piece together the situation rationally.

He pities himself for his physical limitations. However, the character is confident of its intellectual capabilities. Altogether, I get an impression of an intelligent rational with masochistic tendencies. That makes neither of the females as his equals. It's beyond comprehension how self pity reduces Winston to Julia's equal. George Orwell could be limited in his imagination of a rational woman.

However, that is not the reason I started writing this entry. I wanted to discuss 'newspeak' that he describes. Newspeak is a short hand language with no antonyms and no words for many concepts which are deemed anti-establishment. It's a way to make people think in a very restricted way thus eliminating any thoughts of rebellion from their mind. Eliminate the words that articulate the opposition to the establishment thus eliminate the opposition itself.

Anyway, many Indians can intuitively identify 'newspeak' with 'castespeak'. The Indian languages were/are vehicles of castiest and slavish mentality. However, somehow communism in Kerala has been able to turn Malayalam, the worst castespeak, as a revolutionary tongue. It has achieved it by bringing Sanskritized Malayalam to common people.

My Malayalam(the Kasaragod variant) has a very limited number of Sanskrit words (probably the percentage of Prakrit words could be higher). At family level conversation this has  been sufficient as far as I could see. I find it difficult to follow Sanskritized Malayalam of my relatives (with humble background). Sometimes I find it difficult to believe they can utter those words with a straight face. I'm fairly aware of many Sanskrit words, since I studied in Kannada medium. Still I find it difficult to follow some of the known words used by native Malayalis. Probably because they take some of the obscure meanings (or the meanings which aren't dominant in Kannada literature). In any case, if I use some "grand" Sanskrit words while speaking in Kannada, I could become a laughing stock."Sakhav" (comrade in Malayalam) type of words can only be used in Yakshagana in Karnataka. I feel Malayalis are immune to such thinking.

Sometime back I mentioned about a study that found that among the students completing their primary education, Kerala students had the best grasp of Malayalam, whereas, Kannada and Tamil students had the least of their mother-tongues. I wonder whether the communist movement enabled common people to get used to a vast vocabulary in Sanskrit to express many concepts which in turn helped their children to grasp the language better. The school books would invariably use Sanskrit words in vernacular languages to express many concepts.