Gandhiji’s Relevance in the 21st Century

Why I feel Gandhi ji’s Ideologies are highly relevant in today’s world.

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a name whom no one can ever forget for all he did to get India its freedom from the British colonialism. He echoed the dreams of the colonized Indian nation. Just like a desired father who takes every responsibility of his children, Gandhi bore the hope of the millions of Indians who were bowed under the weights of years of slavery.  He was a man who could speak to the crowd with his virtue and befriend with the king while not lose touch with the common man.

Gandhi’s ideologies are not just for politics or economies or societies but for the way of living. His philosophy can be incorporated at every stage of life in every century and that’s what his relevance is all about. Many people will see Gandhi as a freedom fighter but he was much more than that. His staunch belief in non violence was his power to win every battle. It takes a lot of courage to face the lathi (police stick) when you are empty handed. We are living in a world where there are such high rates of crimes and the only way to counterattack all the evils can be fought with non violence because non violence does not give birth to the feelings of hatred and revenge.

Gandhi was a man ahead of his times. He foresaw many of the problems which we are facing today. In 1927 he wrote “a time is coming when those who are in the mad rush today of multiplying their want will retrace their steps and say, what we have done?”

If we look closely we would know that much of our contemporary problems are due to unnecessary development. Due to industrialization and high technology are creating ample amount of waste which we don’t know what to do with. We also don’t know what to do with the huge stack of nuclear weapons that the world powers have. Only a part of these nuclear weapons are enough to destroy the entire world more than once. If a part of this money would have been spent for social welfare agendas then world would have been a better place to leave in. Since we live in a capitalist world we only believe in accumulating more and more which force us to create market demand for every possible goods and services. Gandhi could foresee this and thus he wrote in Hind Swaraj (1980) that the modern civilization is a few days’ wonder and then it will sink into its own weight.

When Gandhi was preaching Swaraj he didn’t only meant self rule but also to become independent from the British way of living. Today after so many decades of India’s independence we see how much West driven our life and the entire system of Government are. British left India physically but mentally we are still slaves of British in our way of thinking and working. The white collar jobs have been replaced and given to the browns and nothing else changed. Gandhi never supported the Westminster form of Government for it divides the society into two – rules and the ruled. This form of Government gives the power into the hands of a few whereas in case of a decentralized form of Government power is shared among many which help to reduce corruption and advocates for better governance.

Gandhi strongly believed in secularism and had to give up his life for being a secular at heart. Today’s world has a different meaning of secularism. For now secularism has become just to respect one’s own religious which is a paradox to what Gandhi had preached all his life. Gandhi has lived for poor. He believed that God lived in poor but the increasing number of poor and their sad living condition shows how Gandhi’s ideologies are falling today. Gandhi could feel that the cities would always remain unstable as they are man made and not natural. Whereas Gandhi believed that villages where mostly of the population resides are natural and are far more sustainable. In order to have a sustainable livelihood villages have to developed and utilized efficiently. Gandhi believed that even politics has to be dealt with moral values which we can’t see in today’s politics. Politics has become a bad word now. Politics doesn’t mean service for the public anymore but to be powerful.

Gandhi’s ideologies are very much needed to be practiced in the current world of growing inequalities between the rich and the poor. The world which is a witness to so much of terrorism, torture toward the females and children needs to be under control and only Gandhian philosophy of living can achieve that. Although many people would praise Gandhism but they would deny practicing them in real life as they would say that Gandhism is not realistic. Gandhi has become a figure of history. Everyone believes that his ideologies were just great to fly away the British but that’s not just what Gandhi meant to do. He wanted to make people realize the value of truth, non-violence and Swaraj (as per Gandhi’s understandings) and implement them in their way of living. The day Gandhi’s ideas of Sarvodaya, Swaraj, truth and non violence would take off the world would be the best place to reside.

For the people who believe that Gandhi was against science and technology I would like to say that he was not against technological advancement but was a pro people and protective of the environment personality. He thought no matter how much we develop in terms of technology we should attain sustainable ways of livelihood and if technology hampers sustainable living then it makes no sense to develop our technology.

Gandhi’s ideologies are only remaining in the pages of books which need to be fleshed out in front of the present world because I strongly believe that Gandhism is the instrument to make the world a better place.

AFSPA: A boon or bane for Kashmir

It is going to be almost 3 decades now AFSPA has been enforced at Kashmir and till date its very difficult to understand its role in Kashmir.

Ever since the creation of India and Pakistan as independent states took place in August 1947, Kashmir has been a contentious issue. Since Kashmir was a small, princely state to the North of India, under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh when India and Pakistan got their independence, Kashmir had the option of acceding its territory with either Pakistan or India. But due to the attacks at Kashmir by Pakistani forces and revolutionaries in 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh decided to accede with India to protect his territory. This marked the beginning of a series of clashes between India and Pakistan, which includes four major wars. Kashmir became the primary subject of the conflicts between the two states. Pakistan demanded Kashmir with the fact that most of the Kashmiri population were Muslims. On the other hand, India claimed this territory based on the fact that Maharaja Hari Singh had signed the document to accession with it.
Several battles have fought over and within Kashmir which led to the enactment of the Armed Forces (Special Forces) Act by the Indian Government in 1990. This act granted special powers of the army in “disturbed area.” Such powers allows the army to use force which can result to death, enter suspicious premises, arrest suspicious individuals without any warrant, and also this act provides legal immunity to army officials for their actions.

However, AFSPA has been majorly criticized by many human rights activists. The act fails to describe “disturbed areas.” Then it leads to a huge military crowds in and around Kashmir region. The appearance of so much military personnel hampers the “normalcy” of the region. Most of the time, due to clashes between the Kashmiris and the military the region remains under curfew. Regular curfews created negative externalizes on the population there. Children cant go to school and colleges regularly which leads to illiteracy. Only children from the richer section who can afford to move out of the region can afford to get quality education. Working people cant go to their workplace, local businessmen cant afford to run there businesses properly. All these causes huge economical and social loss for the entire Jammu and Kashmir region. Thousands of young children have grown up, and continue to grow up seeing military personnel all around them. This creates a negative image in their mind. They would feel that they have been cages within some boundaries and they are not and never will be allowed to move out of that line. As a result, organisations like Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front have demanded the freedom of Kashmir from India.afspa2

The biggest criticism of AFSPA, however, has been the Human Rights violations it has led to in Kashmir valley. Numerous concerned people from the Human Right divisions have opposed the state politically, by questioning the militarization of the region and the existence of AFSPA. According to survey reports, 322 people were reportedly detained under the AFSPA between January and October,2010. Human Rights watch alleged that thousands cases of disappearances since 1989. Human Rights Watch also claims that the torture by AFSPA is immense in every part of Jammu and Kashmir. Uncountable numbers of rape cases and molestation have been found. Although hardly a few of these cases were reported because of obvious reasons. It has also been found that militants are frequently executed by the security forces without trials just because they pose a security threat. Case like children of 8 to 12 years were shot dead while playing cricket boils the blood of any Kashmiri to get away with the draconian AFSPA. The Justice Verma committee, in January 2013, stated that AFSPA needs to be revised regarding the protection of women and children in conflict areas.afspa 2

During his six- years tenure of former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah constantly demanded for gradual  withdrawal of AFSPA from peaceful areas of Jammu and Kashmir. But the Indian Army denied his proposals. They even denied to remove AFSPA from places like Srinigar, Budgam and Jammu which can be easily tackled only by the Jammu and Kashmir police. It has been noticed that regarding the AFSPA, the union doesn’t open their mouth much and leave the decision to be taken by the security forces. On the other hand, if we critically think, then is it not quite obvious that the defense would never want AFSPA to be removed form Jammu and Kashmir because due to this draconian law, the defence gets all the control over the region and do whatever they feel like. Since AFSPA has the highest authority, it is understood that they would never want to leave Jammu and Kashmir.

As per my understanding, AFSPA should only be at the Line Of Control region in order to protect the security of the state. The places like Srinagar and others where Kashmiris live should be controlled by J&K police only. This would help India to get back Kashmiris. Indian Government seems to be more bothered about the geographical regions of Jammu and Kashmir while with this draconian law of AFSPA they are losing the people of Kashmir. Lot of Kashmiri don’t believe them to be a part of India and believes in Kashmiri Nationalism. This is the negative externalities of having AFSPA.

Its high time now for the Government to do away with AFSPA and get back the Kashmiris to have all the people of the geographical territory under the same umbrella of Indian nationalism.
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My take on Friedrich Hayek’s scholarly article The Use of Knowledge in Society

Friedrich Hayek is a famous economist and philosopher. He is widely known for his defense of classical liberalism. The Use of Knowledge In Society is one of his best scholarly article which deals with why should we support decentralization of knowledge to run the economy.

This article was first published in the September 1945 issue of The American Economic Review. This article is one of a kind. It ensures to give out the most important learning materials to understand economics. It explains the economic problem as clearly as possible. It emphasizes on the superiority of market economies.

Hayek was highly against establishing a Central Pricing Board. The price fluctuations in the market make it a very dynamic entity. He strongly takes the side of an open economy. He feels open economy is highly efficient. Centrally planned economy will be much lower in terms of efficiency because what one single agent will know will be only a fraction of the knowledge held by the rest of the society. A dispersed society will thus allow the flow of knowledge in the society. Proper allocation of scarce resources can only be done when knowledge is dispersing among many people because no individual or a group of experts is capable of acquiring it all.

Knowledge needs to be decentralized because each one of us has our own personal knowledge which depends upon time and place. Access to planning and control over resources should be given to everyone so that as per situational needs everyone can use it in their way. Unfortunately, major decentralization of powers may lead to imbalance in the social coordination but with the help of economic policies we can sort out this problem.

Simultaneously we can see misconception of economic policies as well because we tend to wrongly interpret economic problem of the society. The planning (allocation of resources) takes place in lack of knowledge and information asymmetry. How do we know that who will possess the best possible knowledge? How do we decide whom to recognize as experts? We tend to give away all the responsibilities in the hands of some specific individuals (whom we like to call as experts) who may not know all the information which can help to solve all the economic problems of the society. As we know every individual has their own needs thus, how can we just predict that one individual or a group of individuals (experts) can sort out everyone’s problems?

We tend to overestimate some peoples’ levels of knowledge where as on the other hand we underestimate the knowledge of most of the people from the society. This creates the misunderstandings of economic problems which further creates misunderstanding in economic policies.

Hayek correctly points out the problem of economic planning. “Planners” tend to come up with long term plans and nobody cares about the short term problems which may arise in various points during the long term planning period. Since the smaller problems remain unnoticed thus it takes big shape which becomes impossible to eradicate from the root at a later stage. With the improvement of technologies the need of economic decisions has decreased but we can never do away with economic decisions. At some or the other point we do need to form and reform our economic policies in order to help the market run at its optimal level.

Therefore I would like to conclude by saying that planning is not a good option to run the economy. Since everyone has knowledge based on time and place thus, decentralization of knowledge is very much necessary to run the economy. The need for the extra knowledge that all individual needs to acquire get reflected in price.

Book Review on Yuval Harari’s book Sapiens

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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Dr. Yuval Noah Harari has done an excellent job in this book which surveys the history of humankind from the Stone Age up to twenty first century. With this book, Harari tried to motivate his readers to question themselves, even if they are controversial. He wants his readers to question their beliefs, the basic narratives of their world and to build up connections between the past developments with present concerns. After completing the book the readers are expected to be left with too many questions on whatever they have known about their species, its evolution and the world till date.

Translation of this book can be found in 20 languages which show its popularity. The book was first published in Hebrew in Israel in 2011 and in English in 2014. It has also been presented, via online courses, to thousands of mind blown people.

The name of the book reveals the theme of the book itself. The book’s title is a sort of a reminder that, long time back, the world had half a dozen species of human, of which only homo sapiens survives today. The main argument Harari tries to make is that Homo sapiens is dominating the world because it can cooperate flexibly up to a certain number. The other animals lack the ability of cooperation and thus, Homo sapiens wins the race. The ability to cooperate comes from believing in the myths those are formed from various narratives by the human beings. Humans have the special powers to narrate their own form of stories and persuade the fellow humans to believe in the myths. This special feature makes human beings a super sapiens. Harari makes a controversial argument saying that all large scale human cooperation systems (such as, freedom, human rights, capitalism, religions, political structures, trade networks and legal institutions) are all made up on the basis of pure imaginations. The abilities of humans to share their thoughts, store and build up information is not common in the other animals.

As a historian it would have been an easy task for the writer to dig deep into how the evolution of Homo sapiens occurred. But the credit to him goes only when he critically analyses various historical happenings with scientific facts. It is not the historical data for which one should read the book but the interpretations of Harari for every event of the past. Harari has been great in building up a relation between history and biology. Also very cleverly he has divided the book into four sectors which again have few sub parts. Each of the sector deals with a concept like Cognitive Revolution, The Agricultural Revolution, The Unification of Humankind and The Scientific Revolution respectively. The sections under these sectors describe the main theme in great details. For example, in the first sector (The Cognitive Revolution) he writes about how human beings used their super powers of their brain and proved to be intelligent than the other sapiens. The second sector (The Agricultural Revolution) deals with how human made the nature do what they wanted. The following sector is The Unification of Humankind which shows the power of money and religion as tools to unify people. The final stage of the book is The Scientific Revolution which deals with the super powers of human beings. It says that how the human beings used science and became the most powerful species alive.

While I liked most of the arguments Harari makes, I am highly persuaded by his argument where he tries to say that agricultural revolution was the biggest mistake of humankind. He tried to justify his argument by saying that although agriculture allowed civilization to thrive but at individual level it has been a curse. He says that we were better off as hunter gatherers. As farmers, people had to work extremely hard and in return had a worse diet to that of foragers. Social hierarchy is also a result of agricultural revolution. Also, the agricultural societies have raised the number of deaths and violent activities due to competition over resources.

On one hand I am highly impressed with the persuasive writing style of the writer, on the other side; I am also disappointed because the author tends to impose his train of thoughts on the readers. It’s always good to be able to persuade the maximum numbers of readers with your writing but the writer should always set his readers free to have their own interpretations.

Anyways, I would recommend this book to everyone who is interested to know about their own species in details. This book certainly shows that doubts are good to broaden the horizon of knowledge of any person. The most beautiful thing about this book is a lot of details have been gathered by the author in much smaller number of words. Also, the breakup of the book in to various modules, chapters and sub chapters makes it an easy read for all. This may be an incentive for those who hates to read fat books like me. The book will keep its readers engaged till its end.

 

 

Book Review: 10 Judgements That Changed India

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August 05,2016

 

Zia Mody who is in The Business Today’s Hall of Fame as one of India’s Most Powerful Businesswoman and also one of the renowned Corporate Lawyer has very beautifully come up with this book which has attracted numerous readers worldwide.

She is the daughter of Former Attorney-General of India , Mr. Soli J. Sorabjee. She used her extensive knowledge of the Indian Constitutional Law to present this book with full of insights about the Indian Judiciary. This book deals with the ten most important decisions taken by the Indian Judicial Department which have left significant impacts in India.

The forward of the book has been written by Soli J. Sorabjee where he writes “ THE JUDICIARY, At one time, was considered and projected to be the weakest branch of the star because it possessed neither power of the purse nor power of the sword. That myth has been demolished and the best evidence of it is the set of ten judgments that has been analysed and discussed in this book.” These words by Sorabjee says a lot about the book in very few words. In the prologue, Zia acknowledges that it had been a very tedious task to select landmark judgments but ended up choosing the cases which dealt with the distinct constitutional angle.

The book deals with diverse issues and those which have public concerns. Thus, it is dedicated to one and all. The book has several themes like reservations, custodial deaths, environmental jurisprudence but the central theme was to convey the readers that how the judiciary came to exist now with the immense powers from a point where it was considered as to be the weakest section of the Indian Administration. The book also deals with the powers of the judiciary and its significance.

Every case has been dissected into fragments and then analyzed deeply. Each case has an issue covered, detailed facts and figures, stories from both the parties, discusses number of cases leading to the title case, judgement and follows on cases which are equally significant as of the title case. For example, the first case of Kesavananda Bharati V. State of Kerala also covers the cases of Shankari Prasad, Sajjan Singh and Golak Nath. The chapter on Shah Bano judgement also covers Danial Latifi case which succeeded the title case.

Zia is a bold writer. She dares to call a spade a spade. From her writing we can feel that in few cases she was not happy with the court’s decision and she felt that the political influences had to do something with the judgement.

Although all the ten judgments are important and have special features of its own but my personal favorite is the very first chapter of the book. It deals with the judicial appointment and the independence of the judiciary. In this chapter, the author writes about the lack of transparency in judicial appointments. She critically examines the powers of the executive to appoint the judges. The other main theme of this chapter was the legal developments of the expansion of the legal jurisdiction. This case is also famous as “the Case that saved the Indian constitution.” It proved that the Supreme Court is indeed the protector of the Indian Constitution. The judiciary finally got it’s independence from the era of single-party dominance.

The lucid language and the easy flow of the book makes it a easy read. Each of the cases has been framed in a very structured format. Very clearly the laws are not only just have been mentioned but also described vividly which makes it famous among the non judicial individuals as well. Since the book revolves around the ten most important judgement that changed the outlook of world’s one of the longest but flexible constitution, therefore, I believe that every person should go through it once.