[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: False Gods [was: Hasan, Shourie]

Postings not related to the writing of the Manifesto or policy chapters
are likely to be summarily rejected. Thanks for your understanding. IPI
OK, OK, I know we're not supposed to write stuff not specific to something
in the manifesto- this is more in the nature of the philosophical
discipline we apply to our arguments, using the [IMO equally irrelevant]
discussion of Ambedkar's bachground. Given how much our debates meander I
think it is relevant. 


Ash Mahesh wrote:

> b) Ambedkar has apparently run into some problems with historical
> evaluation of his role in the freedom movement. Though that is not
> relevant to us specifically on IPI, I would like to hear what Henry has
> to say about Arun Shourie's book Worshipping False Gods which is
> excerpted at
> http://www.redifindia.com/freedom/29ambed.htm
> >>

The piece by Shourie makes good reading. I recommend it those who haven't read

What I take away from it is that worshipping ANY gods is fruitless, be they
Ambedkar, Nehru, Gandhi, Adam Smith, Hayek, Lenin, Freidman, Gates, whoever.
IMO, it is much more productive to evaluate IDEAS, regardless of their authors
and accept or reject them by thinking, and reasoning independently, for

Accepting something as dogma simply because someone eminent or revered says so
is sadly very common, seems to give a lot of people a great deal comfort and
to question such dogma elicits furious reaction. I'm reminded of an incident
in Maharashtra, about 25 years ago when a history professor named Ranade
attempted a Marxist analysis of the governance under Shivaji and concluded
that Shivaji didn't look too good in this light. The reaction of any thinking
person might have been "We'll, DUH!, Shivaji wasn't exactly trying to be a
good Marxist in the first place, or even a good administrator, he was running
an insurgency". Instead, there was a hue and cry calling for the resignation
and worse of the hapless prof Ranade for saying ANYTHING critical [however
irrelevant] about this god- Shivaji.

Analogously, in religion, things are mystified, and unquestionable, possibly
because, subjected to logic they could be trivialized and dismissed. Thus is
Judaism, the name of their god was yahweh [aka Jehovah], the vowels were
removed later to make the name unpronounceable, and later, it was decreed that
the god would have no name at all- if an entity is intangible or un-named how
can you analyze it? You can't. But once you establish the principle of not
questioning it is then easier for someone to acquire or consolidate power by
claiming to act in the name of the unquestionable to do just about anything. I
can't resist illustrating this by connecting this to the earlier example of
Shivaji- At one time Maharashtra's chief minister was a brilliant [and utterly
corrupt politician named Antulay]. To get the state to fund a trip to the UK
where he wanted to get personal medical care, he made up this story that he
was actually going there to recover some sword in a British museum alleged to
have belonged to Shivaji- now how can a Shivaji worshipper quarrel with that?

Coming back to false gods, the recent sex scandal surrounding Clinton provides
a topical illustration of the use of "gods" in the interest of power: Senators
and "learned" commentators are sonorously posing the question how would the
framer's [gods] of the US constitution deal with this weighty problem. Though
if you reference personalities of these framers/gods, it can be pointed out
that these gods were busy raping their female slaves to breed more slaves- and
would probably not have opinions very valuable to us on the matter. But they
are gods, thus anything someone can claim to be the action of a god is not
open to question anymore and is validated by definition.

Regarding Ambedkar, IMO, the excerpt from the speech on the notions of a free
person is a valid idea I agree with it. As an IDEA it stands on its own
regardless of the actions of its author which I found oppurtunistic and
reprehensible, but explainable- I recall reading that when Tilak called for
national independence he specifically called for no rights to be given to


This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/