Teach history of ideas, world history of religions!

The recent Mumbai blasts that took such a heavy toll, 8 bombs in 30 minutes, killing 200  people and injuring 500 more, is only the latest reminder, if reminder is needed, for the need for the society at large to deeply introspect on so many ills that make our life so insecure and disturbing. Yes, we are making material progress, making lots of money, the Indian middle class that is vocal and opinion-making and gives a more confident outlook. That is all very encouraging and gives hope.

Yet, what makes for such repeated violence, terrorism of a worst kind that grips the country. There is a commentary the next day of the blasts on why the terrorist attack.” Fallout of city’s extreme politics?” runs the headlines. Then we find that there is indeed such a background to the eruption of the serial blasts. Mumbai’s politics has all the unsavory character we associate with extremist politics.

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So, why not Rahul Gandhi too?

Rahul Gandhi had again spoken. This time on education. In Parliament. His speech was watched and applauded by ‘Mummy’, sister, brother in law and the ‘Daddy’s old pals, Suman Dubey and Romi Chopra. TN leaders, Karunanidhi “had been moved to tears by the speech and CM J mocked him (MK) for being sycophant”(Tavleen Singh). Tavleen Singh should know the goings on in the corridors of Delhi. After all she is a veteran journalist and moving in the paparazzi crowd.

Now, what ‘Rahul baba’ spoke? He said education only can empower people and he is very much concerned about people’s issues. Fine. Ms Singh writes about Rahul’s visit to Bangalore and his activities. He watched the mid-day meals scheme of the ISKCON temple, in Parliament he in fact read his speech instead of speaking (so the paparazzi political journalists giggled and winked and sneered).Let it go. Now, what he actually said? Education must be made available to the ‘toiling masses’ and the real impact of the programmes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan should be felt in the villages of UP and Bihar. “Mixing history with patriotism he also pointed out that Nalanda and Vikramshila were the Harvard and Cambridge of their time and it was important to revive the tradition of excellence in Indian education”.

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They may be intelligent and clever.They are also cunning and quite callous too!
Yes, I know what protests I would invite if I say this! We have great scientists and technologists.Nobel Prizes are not alien to Indian science. All these are known and widely publicised and we often pat ourselves what we have achieved.My only plea as an introduction is that I should not be misunderstood.
Now having said this much, why I remain still as an unimpressed Indian citizen as far as our scientists are concerned?

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Class divisions in education: we are just silent!

Equality is a great illusion!

In India we have been fed by our leaders from the Freedom struggle days  that we will create a democracy and there will be equality of  opportunities for all. Yes, our Constitution is a great document and it had proved its worth. We have been a stable democracy and the poor had improved their lot. Our society is secular where the largest number of Muslim population live in harmony.

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Middle In equality? Poverty? Or, denial of freedoms?

You can’t have everything in life, can you? Life doesn’t offer you too many choices, does it? Have you ever thought of these questions, do you? Yes, there is too much poverty in the world, in India! There is too much inequality, in the world, in India! There is too much denial of our freedoms, without most of us knowing, do you know? In India we don’t ask too many questions! Have you noticed this Indian trait?

Yes, India had a peculiar history, not all that so honourable, do you know? India had never been a nation of conquerors, were we ever? Like other countries. Just now I read a book review on Turkish history, the title being “Sons of the conquerors: The rise of the Turkish world”. Turkish language is one of the 10 main linguistic families, its members scattered across a score of states from the Balkans to the Great Wall of China! Turkic people dominated the central Eurasian landmass for a millennium that ended only with the fall of the Ottoman empire a century ago. The last of its imperial manifestions. So, Turkic memory is long, as a people of conquerors from 2nd BC. Modern Turkey was built as a Republic, says the reviewer, by refugees such as Ataturk, they were scattered across so many countries of the modern world. So, the current Turkic national psyche is embedded with this trauma of a loss of a glorified imperial past.

Western countries are torn asunder to Ottoman empire and so the current attempts to bring in Turkey into the Western embrace is creating a reflex in the Turkic psyche as an untrustworthy western intentions! One reason why I turned to Turkey is that I had a Turkish friend at Oxford, Biltin Toker, we shared rooms with the same landlady and so I became so close to this friend who was a brilliant architect, he won prizes and his name used to be flashed in the local Oxford Times! We were in correspondence for long and I promised him a visit to Istanbul one day and may be I would keep up that promise one day! But why I dwelt on the Turkic past was to point out to fellow Indians how we remember our past or how we like to remember our history? I feel terribly embarrassed sometimes whenever I talk of India’s past. We had been repeatedly conquered many times and in the process I find the Indian psyche peculiarly conditioned by a meekness ,a subservient behavior.

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