Thoughts on history and history writing
Can historians take the role of political activists?
Indian academic historians just did this type of roles!

Indira Gandhi

One school of historians passed resolutions against the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi.

They very same school also opposed the Babri Masjid demolition case referred to the Supreme Court.

The so-called other school, the rightwing school, that allied to the BJP/RSS agenda helped to rewrite the history texts that extolled the activities of the RSS.

Where were the nationalist historians? They were lying low.

Even now, the Indian academic historians don’t ask the critical questions, they don’t ask great questions of history. Questions like: will Indian remain one country? Will India get more united, in its very many divisive forces, in terms of language, ethnic chauvinist politics, and religious bigotry?

There is no open-minded approach to the study of religions in his story of India. Much more important from my point of India is the question: how the British interpretation of Indian history (we cant deny the contributions of the British officials and writers in unearthing and discovering so many forgotten and lost historic sites and also the contribution of the Western knowledge to the study of the emergence of modern India) and also the outcome of the British occupation and dominance of the Indian thought processes and the very Indian outlook. How the present Indian mindset, the very mental makeup of Indians is one of subservience and suffers from a sense of deep inferiority complex. These aspects, I consider, as the most critical questions Indian historians must explore, explain and give some guidance in history teaching and history education.

History writing must start with current realities!
What is the historic meaning of economic recession?
What is the historic meaning of international terrorism?

What is history? History is and had always been about wars and the ending of wars. History can also be about big persons, leaders and about evolution of ideas.

History is   one of the social sciences. As such, it must tackle political and social and sociological questions as much as even wars and waves of society’s rising and fall.
Why after building, say, the Parthenon, the Acropolis in Athens suddenly one day it became an empty place? So too the Roman colosseum, so huge an architecture suddenly one day became empty?

Why our archeological sites are important? What they convey?

History tells us, as historians from Herodotus to Thucydides to Edward Gibbon to our own times, historians like A.J.P.Taylor and others why the fortunes of a people, nations and superpowers, change dramatically. The dramatic changes on huge scale are all about history and history writing is just this only.

The 69th Indian History Congress was held in Kerala were both interesting and also a bit boring.

The historians, all are professional historians, met and debated a lot of themes in history, in history writing and the underlying conflicting ideologies in writing history. Pof.K.N.Panikkar, the Left historian and the session’s president gave the inaugural lecture and his theme, as expected, was on the Marxist interpretation which he sought to tag to the writing of Indian history.  His theme was that Marxist historiography, the art of writing history from the Marxist point of view, didn’t pay enough importance to the element of culture. Anyway, it is one point of view. There were other points of view and some were explained by Prof.Habib. There were many schools of thought in history writing and one was culture, another was subalterns in the creation of history. The other was the employment of tools from Western scholarship to the study of Indian history. Edward Said was one who believed that you can’t study orientalism from the tools shaped by Western schools of history writing.
And so on and so forth. However, the current Indian historians’ bugbear, the communal vs. the Marxist history, as represented by the BJP and others came out in the deliberations.

Why the current divide in the Indian history writing between the Left and the not so right?

It is a difficult question and I would consider as a not so great question otherwise.
I had studied history as an amateur and my keen interest in history continues to this day only as an amateur only. I had read my own volumes .often in a superficial way, skipping through the pages and yet getting interested in some vital questions.

Read More →

Only second best in Carnataic music this season!
Briju Maharaj, the Kathak guru was here!

Pt. Birju Maharaj

This December season in Chennai, it was as usual, houseful in all sabhas.

The “kutcheris” were more in number and The Hindu ran almost a full-page engagements column, unusual for any newspaper and more so for a quality newspaper like The Hindu. Then, it is the newspaper’s publisher Mr.N.Ravi who is the chairman of the prestigious Madras Music Academy and as such one can expect the newspaper to devote more space and more coverage of the music events spread out all over the city. And what a wonderful cultural environment the December music season creates and enlivens!

One thing strikes any casual visitor to the city this time is that high culture is here and that is what the December music season has come to represent over the years.

The NRI crowd descends in respectable number and this year, in spite of  the economic meltdown and also the NRI fears of unemployment and that discouraged the many usual visitors, as we read in the media and yet I met a few of them, both young and the old and  I was thrilled that the Carnatic  music  still  thrives  vigorously. I just met a gentleman soon after a concert at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan hall in Mylapore. Out of curiosity we picked up a conversation and I was surprised to find he was another Gopalaswamy with a namam in his forehead. I suspected he must be our own Goapalaswamy, the Chief Election Commissioner! He was not and yet he was an IAS officer and retired as Chief Secretary to the Kerala government. Very next he called and introduced his grandson, from the USA. The Youngman said he studies at Stanford University and was here for the season and he played the violin at the concert! Such is the strength of the Carnatic music and the ones who are devoted to the art, both as performers as well as listeners!

Carnatic music is very special for those who are born in the tradition. But for persons like myself, the pure hybrids (!)music has been all, from Carnatic to the Hindustani to the Western classical genres.

And yet, I keep coming to these humble and often dilapidated halls of yore, they have so much history and personal association and that makes the Chennai music season, the hours spent there in these crowded and now more dustry surroundings more ennobling and more enthralling at the same time!

This season, the Music Academy is very crowded. The programmes are so packed that there is no time, no leisure no time for relaxation in between the programmes.
Read More →

Prof.Amartya Sen and Dr.Manmohan Singh
What are their positions on critical issues?

Any  thinker like Sen or any one in  government like Dr.Singh can  continue to talk and get away. And yet nothing worthwhile happens as it is today. Because any theory, however brilliant in hair-splitting arguments, between niti and nyaya, as Sen displayed  here might remain untouched by ground level realities.

For this to happen one must have a  fuller understanding of how democracy works actually. Even how capitalism works in actual manner. So, what we have today is that the big corporates get away with whatever they want, be it Special Economic Zones or large PSU bank funds at concessional rates, the government sits tamely and just talks or at best gets the government carried on silently.

The poor continue to be excluded and farmers and rural India left to their own devices.

After all India and the Indian people have survived. For ages. Now, too the same survival strategy, if it is a strategy, might give the Indians the much sought after mukthi, niti and nyaya and what have you!

Prof.Amartya Sen and Dr.Manmohan Singh both appeared jointly the other day on Sen’s birthday celebrations. Dr.Singh and Sen started off their careers at the same time and both achieved eminence, no doubt.

One  participant who attended their speeches writes to say that the secret of their career success owes to their clever stand on most issues. They take central positions. So, it is difficult to pint them down ,so to say, on any issues. They are all things to all men!

Yes, that is why Dr.Singh’s many views are not known. Where does he stand, say, on rural India? No one knows! So too Sen. When asked about the choices to be made he often becomes vague, in New Delhi, later in Chennai he became visibly wobbly!

What does it mean to invest in social sector, day in and day out?
We have to have some conceptions, some basic ideological position whether we believe in rural transformation through panchayat raj or through market capitalism, let loose, through Special Economic Zones or  urbanisation that leads to land encroachments or through some
“planned” and dispersed and broad- based “small is beautiful”, government “regulated” path of “development”.

Singh won’t say anything. Nor does Sen.

That is one reason ,rather the major reason, I would say for the current patterns of rural development, large-scale farmers suicides, mounting  farm  indebtedness and yet  there is no “modernisation of farming or  modernisation of village services.
Read More →

Experts and political leaders of the people!
Why a new finance minister not appointed? What is the hitch?
Why the Prime Minister is keeping so many portfolios?

India just now, at the New Year eve, is inundated, so to say, with too many experts, economist of repute! Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel winner and professor of economics at Columbia University was here for a lecture. Not to let him go alone was our own Amartya Sen, on the eve of his 75th birthday which was celebrated by the New Delhi tribe of fellow economists. Sen gave a series of lectures as well, as expected. There was Raghuram Rajan, another heavyweight economist who is now also adviser to the Prime Minister. He is an IMF hand, as our own PM and his deputy in the Planning Commission Ahluwalia. In fact, one can go on and doll out names of economists who are crowding out the PM’s corridor at the South Block.
Why this crowd? Of course, it is holiday time in New York.

But then the PM must be feeling somewhat overwhelmed by receiving and entertaining old and new friends. Where is the time for the Prime Minister of India for all these small pleasures? And, consider the PM is also keeping for some unexplained reasons so many of key portfolios with himself. Finance, Coal, Information and Broadcasting and some other, something like six independent charges.

Why, why? Is this justified?

Is the country in a mood now to take things in a light manner?

The economic meltdown had taken its own toll. Jobs in key industries are cut and lost. IT is a first victim of the slowdown. And so too are many others key sectors, textiles and many other key sectors face the slowdown in the face of rising costs and falling export orders.

Even otherwise, there is a clutch of issues in banking and finance, infrastructure and the very formulation and announcement of stimulus packages, the first one didn’t enthuse, and the second one doesn’t meet the needs of the entire economy and so on.

A full-time Finance Minister must seem to be the urgent need in order to sit at the vantage position and take a view of the entire spectrum of issues.
The PM, more than any other person, including the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, must be knowing the pressure on his time and energy.  Is the PM the person who takes this decision, namely, not to have a full-time Finance Minister? Or, even a part-time one? Or, is Sonia Gandhi is the person behind such a decision.

Given the background of the relationship between the PM and the Congress President, there is every reason to suspect that it is decision of the two together not to have a full-time Finance Minister for the time being or till the next elections are over.  Why?

Because there is reason to suspect the PM might perceive some threats to his indispensability in the scheme of things. Even, as it was rumoured, if a person of the stature of S.M.Krishna, the Karnataka politician is given the responsibility, who knows, if things so change or tilt, even a man like him could pose a challenge if the constellation of forces, if the other Karnataka politicians around Sonia poison her mind to go for a change or a choice at the top slot.
Read More →

Readers across the globe now have access to latest information in agriculture and related fields!

Yes, thanks to the spread of Internet and along without our website (agricultureinformation.com) now in its 8th year of operations, there is a huge reservoir of demand for latest information in agriculture and related fields.

This need we now address to fulfill.

Thanks to this new venture and diversification to put the magazine’s content on the web, we hope to reach out to a worldwide audience and hope to provide them with a bouquet of services. The business potential for agri sector is thus multiplied many times.

Readers can now order their subscriptions over the web.
Now, our thoughts on what it is like with the Prime Minister taking over the finance portfolio as well in the wake of the Mumbai outrage that had shaken the country to its core value system.

What is the future looks   like?

Where is the agriculture debate? Where it is likely to head?
Agriculture won’t go away as long as there are experts are around! Yes, the agriculture debate is becoming more and more difficult for those participating in the debates. That is for the rich and powerful and influential. The rich, powerful and the influential are the corporates, those who want to seize the farm lands for their Special Economic Zones and even for factories like the just aborted Tata car factory in West Bengal .And also  the  powerful include the ruthless politicians of the present, like the Central and the state government functionaries, we see how the economic experts around the Prime Minister, including the Pm himself talk always in terms of rate of growth, fiscal deficit and also in terms of figures, quantity of funds allocated etc. The whole debate about agriculture has become quantity of grains produced and exported and imported.

We wonder whether any of our ministers really care for ideas, new or old. One wonders whether anyone among them, including the PM and his close colleagues, have read or remember Schumachar’s “Small is Beautiful”, a book that once helped to see the world in a more benign way. Read More →