Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What is essence of Hinduism ?

What is essence of Hinduism ?

I don't think any two Hindus will agree, with that caveat in mind, I think following three mantras capture the essence

1. Metaphysics/Philosophy: अहं ब्रह्म अस्मि (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aham_Brahmasmi)
2. Ethics/Morality: धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितःhttp://www1.avsrinivasan.com/hindu/dharmo_rakshati.html
3. Individual: कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन... http://www.swamivivekanandaquotes.org/2014/05/bhagavad-gita-chapter-2-verse-47.html

Rebooting Hindutva

Disclaimer 1: While as a cultural nationalist, I am very much interested in resurgence of India & Hinduism (both being inseparable in my view). The topic is too vast for a single post, as well as too complicated for a single person.

Disclaimer 2: When I say Hindutva, I do not refer to original theory propounded by Savarkar, having never read, but on Hindutva, the political movement, which accompanied Ram Janam Bhoomi movement in 80's 

Note: Throughout the post, whenever I use "we", "us" it is for cultural nationalists.

A Clear Eyed Assessment Of Hindutva

Where we are

In the wake of Narendra Modi's convincing victory, it's easy for us to be complacent, that is why it is a sobering realization that this victory was not about Hindutva, hell it was not even about Nationalism, cultural or otherwise. It was, to cut a long story short, about acche din.

In fact why just stop at this election. Hindutva (again not referring to Savarkar, but the popular movement) has not scaled well. After its decimation in 1984 BJP was resurrected by Hindutva, not only getting most number of electoral support till then in its history (incl its previous avatar as BJS), but also becoming the focal point around which politics contours will take shape. 

That however changed after demolition of Disputed structure in 1992, while BJP did try to revive the movement both locally in UP and nationally, but could never regain the earlier traction, that along with difficulty in attracting allies (as well as hostile secular-establishment) ensured BJP put it in backburner.

All of this is a repeat of what I wrote in the immediate aftermath of BJP's defeat in 2009 elections. (If it is any comfort, these elections are not a mandate for Center-Right either)

Be that as it may, it doesn't leave us at enviable position. A deceptive ascendancy and frail majority after continued hegemony of sec-lib establishment, (with ABV government nary a intervening blip), we are in state of disorientation, both electorally as well as intellectually.

Electorally, for while there still is a core constituency for Hindutva (however, vaguely defined and understood) it is, at best marginal  In fact, if we can afford to be candid to ourselves for a moment, as far are electoral calculations are concerned, not only we might be irrelevant for large swathes of electoral map, we might also be at disadvantage due to "secular" polarization

Beyond the core constituency of course we have a broad spectrum of sympathisers, however for them Hindutva is seldom the first priority, further antics of Hindutva organizations (vandalism & violence) frequently alienate even the sympathisers.

Related to this (even if not apparent) is question of our intellectual bearings. What does contemporary Hindutva stand for ? 370 UCC, Ram Mandir ? Is there nothing more to Hindutva?

At risk of earning ire of fellow Hindutva Vadis, let me suggest, Hindutva as it exists at presents is not much more than a confused cacophony of slogans. It is true that there is real passion behind slogans, but in absence of direction, the passion will degenerate into lumpen behavior.

And then there is question of elections. We can't persuade voters to our side, if our side doesn't have any message or if we ourselves are confused.

Hindutva, could and should, be more than that. This post and this blogger are hardly the right medium to do justice to such a humongous project. However let me suggest that at the least Hindutva should be a civilizational project, meant to rejuvenate our atrophied motherland.

With that context, here is what I think should guide evolution of Hindutva.

1. Independence from Government - I am no doctrinarian libertarian, however there are valid reasons to be wary of government interference,  both general (corruption in proximity of power) and specific (the more we empower government in religious matters, the more likely it is that it will be used by sec-lib establishment to undermine Hinduism and Hindu Dharma )

2. Creation Of Institutions - We must build institutions to support and nurture Hindu Dharma through, documentation, instruction, dissemination, discussion and ideation. These institutions can be conventional as well as unconventional.

3 Creation Of Ecosystem - The institutions created should aim to be as comprehensible as possible wrt all the facets of civilizational project such as spirituality, history, politics, civics, philosophy etc through interdisciplinary exchange.

4. Cultivation of  knowledgeable and motivated supporter. Who can engage and contribute meaningfully in this project.

5. Integration with the existing social institutions, networks and frameworks. We might not know what Hindutva is at this point, but we know what it is not It is not an attempt to recreate the civilization from scratch or upend the existing order for some utopian scheme. Rather it is an attempt to gradually and incrementally heal, nourish and strengthen our motherland.

6. Securing the capital to finance- Last but not the least, such a civilizational effort will need considerable amount of capital to sustain, which is only possible if we also have businessmen and traders, industrialists and financiers onboard this project.

To reiterate what I said few days back on twitter.

"Along with Chatrapati Shivaji, we also need Samarth Guru Ramdas, along with Maharana Pratap, we also need Bhama Shah"

To be continued...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

[Short Post]: Gnosticism Of Centre Right

Note: This is supposed to be a short post intended to be answer to question I posed on twitter

Also, my previous posts on "centre right" [1] [2]

Related [1]

I think it can be said incontrovertibly that last decade has witnessed an explosive growth in, for lack of better words, centre-right movement, both in terms of online supporters as well as emerging ideational-discursive ecosystem (something I predicted in passing in one of my earlier posts )

Now it shouldn't surprise anyone that I am not exactly enamoured with this "libertarian-lite" movement. There are multiple reasons for that (which also explain its popularity), however the fundamental error, from which all others emanate, is that of gnosticism.

Gnosticism is a collection of somewhat related religious doctrines, developed alongside Christianity, whose distinctive feature was extreme rejection of material, sensual world which was considered evil and false, having created by demiurge, and a single minded embracement of spiritual world considered pure and true.

It is my contention that Centre-right movement also suffers from gnostic vision, except instead of spirituality, its proponents consider abstract thought and sterile rationality, uncontaminated by all the incertitudes and irrationality and passion of human condition, to be pure and true, and hence end goal of their intellectual interrogation. Seduced by siren songs of intellectual certitudes, they lose sight of their end-goal, essentially reversing it, which is proving intellectual scaffolding for eudaimonia with its crooked timber and all.

In that they come dangerously close to how Nietzsche described Christianity 

To be charitable to centre-right movement, this gnostic vision may not be peculiar to it but to any intellectual endeavor. The only difference between a drunkard and intellectual is that while drunkard looks for the keys lost in dark under the lamppost, the intellectual insists that the keys should have been lost under the lamppost.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Christmas Metaphor

On the festival formerly known as Saturnalia/Yule, an interesting (or not) observation.

Isaac Asimov in short story, "Little Lost Robot", introduced Nestor series of robot. These robots in addition to being "three laws" compliant, had the ability to detect gamma radiation.

This is the basic setup which drives the story. Nestor robots, bound by first law ("A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm."), persistently try to save the scientists working with gamma radiation, even though the working scientists are at no point ever in danger (more than adequate safeguards, gamma radiation itself being mild etc). Since first law is absolute and gives no leeway for safeguards or human judgement, the robots have no option but to drag away the scientists from their experiment, literally stalling the project. In short, they were great pain in the unmentionables.

This has uncanny similarity with Christianity. According to Christian theology, all humans are afflicted by original sin, and as such destined for eternal torment of hell. Luckily for us, Jesus Christ, son of God, God in human form, sacrificed himself for our sins. As such it is duty of every Christian to bring heathens to light of Jesus and save their eternal souls. If this annoys the heathens or disrupts their (Satanic) customs, then (for Christians) it is but a small price to pay for their salvation.

And that is why neo-Christians who have consciously accepted Christian theology (unlike cultural Christians, for whom it is just part and parcel of inherited culture) , are usually such pain in the ass.

Monday, March 03, 2014

A Tax On Kejriwal BS (Day 9: Current Value 32152)

Day: Total 32152

Note: It was originally on twitter. Posting here for sake of convenience

As Alex Tabarrok succinctly put it, A Bet is a Tax on Bullshit.

In that spirit posting my original tweet

"Here it goes if any AAP supporter can show single instance where criticized Sonia Gandhi I will donate 2000 to AAP pls RT"

Now conditions (rather obvious):

1 The criticism must predate original tweet
2. The money is meant for AAP or a charity of winners choosing, not meant for personal gain.
3. People are free to pool money for the bet, however I am giving commitment only for myself, not for others
4 (Update) The criticism should be by Kejriwal NOT AAP and it should be of Sonia Gandhi personally in clear words and NOT Rahul Gandhi, Robert Vadera, Congress Party, High Command, Establishment or some other ambiguous or vaguely worded entity. Further the criticism or allegation should be for either act of commission and omission for corruption/graft/some other crime it CAN NOT BE ANYTHING ELSE.

By now few tweeples have pooled money for bet, for every new commitment the post will be updated with name of the tweeple and amount

The present value of the bet and tweeple who have pooled money

Myself 2000 (in the orig tweet)
@Keshda 101 (here)
@yogye 500 (here)
@kalpesh0304 2K (here)
@rohans84 2014(here)
@trlpathl 2K (here)
@TheGod4Atheism 2K (here)
@Abhi_BJP 251 (here)
@neha_aks 2014 (here)
@RaviGarg_iitm 1001 (here)
@Meluhan1 272 (here)
@shreak9 3K (here)
@ajayendar 101(here)
@adirajub 101(here)
@bhak_sala 420 (here)
@slyandsulk 1001(here)
@YashwantCharan 101(here)
@MistryMania 1001(here)
@shaleenchikara 500 (here)
@mnshzz 2014 (here)
@TheAv_ator 1000 (here)
@drgpradhan 2000 (here)
@hanpra 420 (here)
@nitin_goyal 2000 (here)
@AgentSaffron 420(here)
@ChdryPk 420 (here)
@liesfail 1000 (here)
@SpunamiR 2500 (here)

Friday, February 14, 2014

How to survive a zombie outbreak while campaigning for Lok Sabha.

Quick thoughts on Kejriwal's resignation.

Well if wishes were horses, beggars would ride, more importantly if wishes were Alison Brie, engineering students would be very happy. That however, is not the point of the post.

When I wrote about solving Saint Kejriwal, I was also wishing for the possibility however feeble of averting the scenario of Kejriwal launching an aggressive campaign for Lok Sabha.

Of course Kejriwal being a shrewd political operative made the same calculation, and was going to do everything to escape from the facing scrutiny for governance, and he did just that successfully.

He is being mocked by BJP supporters, and it is possible he might amount to nothing. still I remain wary of the potential for damage that Kejriwal possess to Narendra Modi's juggernaut.

To understand this, one must understand the dynamics underpinning AAP meteoritic rise. It is simply this, urban population, in particular middle class, is outraged at the political class including, not without justification, mired in culture of civic and political ignorance, Kejriwal provides two functions. The more familiar role, is of hope, of promise to deliver from the morass. The less recognize role is that of outlet for catharsis, for venting out all the frustration and  anger that middle class has against "the system".

Kejriwal's main purpose was never to govern, or to eliminate corruption. His aim as far as 2014 Lok Sabha elections are concerned, is to undercut BJP as much as possible, either resulting outright in third front government or a weak BJP government which will hopefully collapse before its terms.

Kejriwal plan is to wage an aggressive no holds barred campaign against Modi in order to undercut him. In that he hopes to channel above mention anger of middle class to build and sustain momentum of his campaign.

Is there any way to mitigate the damage that Kejriwal may cause to BJP campaign, in my view there are six ways to do this.

1. To employ Arnobspeak, Modi must never ever, ever ever engage with Kejriwal mano-o-mano, that will allow Kejriwal to draw Modi in a personal contest, to Modi's disadvantage in my view.

2. Modi should de-emphasize corruption as issue. That will expose BJP's flank to attack by Kejriwal. BJP supporters may argue till the cows come home that Gadkari and Yeddyurappa are not guilty. However in elections popular perceptions matter and as far as public perception goes BJP is as guilty of Congress as Congress.

3. Modi must emphasize his credentials as outsider to Delhi Durbaar. Modi's campaign should run a below the radar campaign silently delinking himself from the intrigues and shenanigans of Delhi leadership

4. He must put development at centre of his campaign. He must convince middle class that growth should the first priority for the next government.

5. If corruption is BJP vulnerability, capability and stability are its strong points.  Even though Modi campaign shouldn't make personal attacks on Kejriwal, it must weaken Kejriwal by emphasizing importance of stable ad capable government. Middle class should be scared with prospect of havoc caused by unstable and inept government at the centre. This has the advantage that performance and capability are achilles heels for Kejriwal.

6. Last BJP should try to subvert Kejriwal campaign from within by waging war of attrition. Whenever Kejriwal is mentioned in the news cycle it should be about the conspiracies and brinkmanship like binny episode within his campaign. The time Kejriwal spends on firefighting within his campaign, is the he can't damage Modi's campaign.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

How to Out-Kejriwal Kejriwal (Or How Do You Solve A Problem Like Kejriwal - II) Updated

Note: Update at the end

This post is sort of update of previous post. Also to clarify this post is based mostly on stray observations and not on empirical data.

Here are some more suggestions on how to tackle Kejriwal, but before that how not to tackle him.

1. Narendra Modi shouldn't directly engage with him, never punch below your weight. Once Modi directly addresses Kejriwal he will be treated on par with Modi by media and from that point onwards Media will compulsorily contrast any any coverage of Modi will become

2. BJP leaders should always be engage with Kejriwal respectfully, and observe the decorum.

This needs explanation. Personally I have nothing but distaste for Kejriwal, the man is a rank opportunist, the way he has dealt with BJP since start of India Against Corruption has been nothing short of utterly dishonest, boorish, and uncouth. I can understand if some BJP leaders are tempted to pay the populist charlatan in the same coin. However as tempting as the prospect may be, BJP must eschew it, in fact it should pass this throughout its chain of leaders and cadres, any engagement with Kejriwal must not cross the bounds of civil discourse.

Why is that ? Glad you asked!

In any fight Arvind Kejriwal will be the underdog, as far as optics go plebeians don't appreciate top dog pummeling underdog, there is a further glitch, BJP is part of political class. At present, middle class is downright hostile to political class, blaming it, not without some justification for present catastrophe.

Kejriwal has shrewdly positioned himself at champion of "aam aadmi". In what should concern any BJP well wisher, the middle class supporter doesn't just support Kejriwal he identifies with him. any ill advised comment against him by any BJP leader will be perceived by Kejriwal supporter as assault on him, an aam aadmi, by the all powerful political machinery.

Kejriwal is aware of this, which is why he will continue with his utterly disgraceful passive aggressive act to provoke some BJP leader into making some kind of personal remarks, after which Kejriwal can bask in the glory of martyrdom, a hero having to undergo personal humiliation for sake of public.
This is all the more reason why BJP should not fall in Kejriwal's trap

So what should BJP do then.

To summarize previous graph, Kejriwal is covered by deflector shield, before BJP can take him down it must destroy the shield. As I suggested in previous post BJP should relentlessly subject Kejriwal to intense scrutiny, however the focus of scrutiny shouldn't  be on personal honesty and integrity of Kejriwal which will be counter-productive, but on a. his competence to govern and his ability to seize of the issues b. honesty of rest of the the AAP members c. his judgement

To give an example, when criticizing Kejriwal's many flip flops, BJP shouldn't question his honesty, but his judgement and competence, further more BJP must emphasize the cost in terms of money, time as well as governance to public caused by theatrics of Kejriwal and his party

Above all BJP must eschew the temptation to reply in kind, it must not resort to histrionics or any kind of action that can be seen as gimmicky, instead all its criticism, arguments and policy pronouncement must be calm, dispassionate and well reasoned. Above all, BJP should try its utmost to impress upon public that its criticism of Kejriwal is not opportunistic, but a result of concern for public well being.

Above discussion doesn't mean Kejriwal can't be paid back in the same coin, only that BJP can't be involved with that. It is possible to out-Kejriwal Kejriwal by organizing otherwise apolitical section of people behind specific emotional hot button issues.

For instance, it shouldn't be difficult to start a agitation against Kejriwal's remarks on Batla encounter or Bhushan's stand on Kashmir or Naxalism, it will hurt Kejriwal's credibility even more if those directly involved with issue were to participate in the agitation. Similarly agitation can be started wrt even policy issues. Only condition to this is BJP's fingerprints shouldn't be visible on this/

The above two pronged attack can damage the positive public image of Kejriwal through attrition enabling BJP to go in for kill.

 Update: One point missed in above discussion was the role of social media, so far BJP supporters have been very strong in social media, however their monopoly has been challenged by Kejriwal supporters. Although role of social media is exaggerated, it does play a important role both for BJP and AAP.
My observation so far has been that majority of AAP supporters are as uncouth and deluded as Kejriwal, nature of the platform. Nature of the platform and the behavior by AAP supporters tempts BJP supporters to reply in kind. I confess, I am guilty of this too. However, if we want to persuade Kejriwal supporter to see the reality of AAP, we must control our urges, we must not make any personal attacks on interlocutor, further as far as possible we should try to refrain from making personal attacks on Kejriwal.

I am not sure if this is practically possible, I am pretty convinced it will not be possible in my case.