July 01, 2017

Macaulay and Malhotra, Wilber and Sri Aurobindo

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Before proceeding to describe the asymmetries that prevent genuine dialog specifically between Indic traditions and the scholars, I wish to clarify at the outset that I represent neither pole of what has become a bipolar fight for the representation of Bharat’s culture: I am not representing the Hindutva view, as Hindutva should not be conflated with Hindu Dharma, because: 
(i) Hindutva is a political mobilization,
(ii) it is a recent 20th century construct in response to contemporary situations, and
(iii) it assumes a specific (reductionist) package of stances,
whereas most Hindus pick and choose positions from an a la carte menu of choices [8].

At the same time, I do not deny the Hindutva proponents their right to a position within the vast spectrum of Hindu Dharma, as one of many ways to be a Hindu. At the other pole, is the theory of Hindu Dharma defined as The Evil Brahmin Conspiracy. Most Hindus I know belong to neither extreme, although there has been a tendency for one pole to insist, ‘if you are not pink, you must be saffron’, and vice versa. The vast middle is un-essentialized, where creative dialog can take place, and it is in this middle space that I position myself and the observations below.

[8] For instance:
(i) I have criticized the introduction of astrology as a ‘science’ into the academic curriculum, and the notion that there is a ‘Vedic Science’. (I have argued that Newton’s Laws of Gravitation are not ‘English Laws’ or ‘Christian Science’).
(ii) I have expressed concern that the Aryan theory controversy is overdone in its significance, at the expense of more serious issues.
(iii) I do not subscribe to the literalist interpretation of the Puranas – neither to claim hi-tech accomplishments (that the Hindutva claim), and nor to literally interpret the verses suggesting social abuse (that westerners like to rub in).
(iv) I have written about the general intellectual shallowness in many instances of Hindutva scholarship, at least in its current stage.
(v) I am against the demolishment of mosques, even when there is compelling evidence (including from Muslim sources) of some of these having being built by destroying Hindu temples.

It is the ethnography of elitist anti-tradition Indians that would make a fascinating field of research. Defensive about their awkward position, these elitists often brand anyone speaking assertively for Indic traditions as Hindutva, saffronist, fundamentalist, fascist, fanatic, neo-BJP, nationalist, or equivalent [21].

In fact, the only way to be a good Hindu in the eyes of some is to behave in accordance with Orientalist images. This name-calling has now been picked up by many western scholars as well.

[21] As one example only, those adopting a literalist interpretation of Bharatiya texts are deemed fanatics, nationalists, and fundamentalists. But in Bible Studies, literalist interpretations are a well-respected hermeneutical approach. George Gallup’s book of surveys of Americans’ religious beliefs says that over 50% of all Americans believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. Yet, we don’t denounce the majority of Americans as fundamentalist-fanatics. In the case of Islam, the Koran is viewed as the literal history and not metaphorically by the mainstream. Personally, I prefer the metaphorical interpretation of all religious texts, but feel that literalist interpretations are a person’s right without facing abuses.

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India and self-education
In early October 1896, he was transferred to BombayBritish India. On arrival Churchill badly wrenched his shoulder while leaping from the boat, an injury which would plague him throughout his life. While he was considered one of the best polo players in his regiment,[45]his injury would later require him to play polo with his upper arm strapped to his side.[46]
Churchill came to Bangalore that year as a young army officer. In My Early Life he describes Bangalore as a city with excellent weather, and his allotted house as "a magnificent pink and white stucco palace in the middle of a large and beautiful garden" with servants, dhobi (to wash clothes), gardener, watchman and a water-carrier. It was in Bangalore he met Pamela Plowden, daughter of a civil servant; she became his first love.[47] He privately described most British women in India as "nasty" and scoffed at their unshakable belief in their own beauty. [...]
Churchill opposed Gandhi's peaceful disobedience revolt and the Indian Independence movement in the 1920s and 30s, arguing that the Round Table Conference "was a frightful prospect".[133] Churchill brooked no moderation. [...]

Winston Churchill devoted a four volume biography of the Duke of Marlborough to rebutting Macaulay's slights of his ancestor, expressing hope 'to fasten the label "Liar" to his genteel coat-tails.'[40]

Mill's career as a colonial administrator at the British East India Company spanned from when he was 17 years old in 1823 until 1858, when the Company was abolished in favor of direct rule by the British crown over India.[16] In 1836, he was promoted to the Company's Political Department, where he was responsible for correspondence pertaining to the Company's relations with the princely states, and in 1856, was finally promoted to the position of Examiner of Indian Correspondence. In On LibertyA Few Words on Non-Intervention, and other works, Mill defended British imperialism by arguing that a fundamental distinction existed between civilized and barbarous peoples.[17] Mill viewed countries such as India and China as having once been progressive, but that were now stagnant and barbarous, thus legitimizing British rule as benevolent despotism, "provided the end is [the barbarians'] improvement."[18] When the crown proposed to take direct control over the colonies in India, he was tasked with defending Company rule, penning Memorandum on the Improvements in the Administration of India during the Last Thirty Years among other petitions.[19] He was offered a seat on the Council of India, the body created to advise the new Secretary of State for India, but declined, citing his disapproval of the new system of rule.[19]

India (1834–1838)
Macaulay was Secretary to the Board of Control under Lord Grey from 1832 until 1833. The financial embarrassment of his father meant that Macaulay became the sole means of support for his family and needed a more remunerative post than he could hold as an MP. After the passing of the Government of India Act 1833, he resigned as MP for Leeds and was appointed as the first Law Member of the Governor-General's Council. He went to India in 1834, and served on the Supreme Council of India between 1834 and 1838.[15]
In his famous Minute on Indian Education of February 1835,[16] Macaulay urged Lord William Bentinck, the Governor-General to reform secondary education on utilitarian lines to deliver "useful learning" – a phrase that to Macaulay was synonymous with Western culture. There was no tradition of secondary education in vernacular languages; the institutions then supported by the East India Company taught either in Sanskrit or Persian. Hence, he argued, "We have to educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother-tongue. We must teach them some foreign language." Macaulay argued that Sanskrit and Persian were no more accessible than English to the speakers of the Indian vernacular languages and existing Sanskrit and Persian texts were of little use for 'useful learning'. [...]
His final years in India were devoted to the creation of a Penal Code, as the leading member of the Law Commission. In the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, Macaulay's criminal law proposal was enacted. The Indian Penal Code in 1860 was followed by the Criminal Procedure Code in 1872 and the Civil Procedure Code in 1909. The Indian Penal Code inspired counterparts in most other British colonies, and to date many of these laws are still in effect in places as far apart as Pakistan, Singapore, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, as well as in India itself.

In Indian culture, the term "Macaulay's Children" is sometimes used to refer to people born of Indian ancestry who adopt Western culture as a lifestyle, or display attitudes influenced by colonisers ("Macaulayism")[20] – expressions used disparagingly, and with the implication of disloyalty to one's country and one's heritage. In independent India, Macaulay's idea of the civilising mission has been used by Dalitists, in particular by neoliberalist Chandra Bhan Prasad, as a "creative appropriation for self-empowerment", based on the view that Dalit folk are empowered by Macaulay's deprecation of Hindu civilisation and an English education.[21]

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