Message to India and the Third World: Westernise or Risk Your National Identity
D. Sasy Kumar
A Journal for Western Man-- Issue XXXI-- February 7, 2005
NOTE-: This is an open letter to You ( i.e. to every individual in her / his total –holistic capacity, -qua- individual, family member, member of society or profession, citizen and leader); and by extension/implication,-also to the body-politic/nation-state,- to the psyche of the nation/culture with which the said individual may have identified and attached herself/himself : Let me emphasise that I am attempting to reach out to every individual, wherever she/he may be. However I draw your attention and wish to clarify that this message is NOT intended, per se, - for a mob or a collective; and any individual’s understanding of the theme of my message, will depend on the extent to which she/he is immune to the centuries of inculcated collectivist / mob-mentalities; or will be able to clear the mental effects of past conditioning.]
The CHOICE: Modernise(=Westernise) OR Risk Your National Identity.
The time has come for my fellow human beings in India as well as in the rest of the 3rd World (the so-called developing countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania; and also some of the less developed countries of Europe) to face an important choice, and the implications and corollaries (sub-choices) thereof.
The choice before You (individual, family member, citizen, leader and also the body-politic-as explained in the note above) is displayed as a title to this write-up- in bold red font to draw your attention; however I shall repeat the same again to emphasize the gravity of the situation:
Modernise / Westernise (=Americanise)
Face the possibility of National Extinction.
I shall attempt to define, elaborate and explain my theme and the necessity, --- nay, the critical urgency for phasing out the negative aspects of your so-called ancient culture/traditions; and simultaneously the urgent need for revaluing and upgrading your said culture and life styles in a manner consistent, and compatible with life in the modern age – ie the 21st Century /3rd Millennium;- and also to attempt an explanation of the true nature of Western Civilization, (please read Appendix-1;which is an integral part of my message);- which you have consistently, systematically and with missionary zeal,- chosen to ignore, denigrate and / or to laugh at.//
The choice before you is clear and unambiguous. This is an ‘Either-Or’ situation, and the luxury of compromise does not exist. Above all, please understand that the default status- i.e. not exercising your option to modernise, - is national extinction, - the possibility of a phase-out within a few decades / years. Your future as a nation is at stake;-the CHOICE- of action or inaction- is up to you. !
Of course the necessity of this choice is relevant only to those amongst you who desire to evolve / emerge out of your current status as a citizen of an under-developed, 3rd world country (as the UN chooses to describe you, and of which you should rightfully be ashamed of !) and achieve higher standards of living,- not only for yourself and your immediate/extended family and your future generations; but also for your friends, neighbours and fellow citizens as well as fellow humans, wherever they may be. And of course, I am presuming that you look forward to, and seek (a passive search will not suffice !) to have a better and higher standard of life, and above all, that you are prepared to work for the same;- albeit you may be confused and frustrated about the means; and further you may also be conditioned by beliefs,-drilled into your psyche by parents, teachers, journalists, and fraudulent ideologues of the political as well as the religious variety,--that the cause of your stagnation is the effect of past colonialism, exploitation by western civilization, globalization and similar leftist clichés.----- Understand that nothing could be further from the truth; the cause of your stagnation is within yourself; your leaders and your national psyche (“----underdevelopment is a state of the mind”;- courtesy-Mr. Jose Cordeiro of Venezuela,-an expert on 3rd World development issues.);- and if you wish to emerge from that cess-pool of material / intellectual stagnation, poverty and under-development, it is essential and critical for you to make the difficult and painful discovery that you have been deceived by those whom you consider to be your leaders; or more correctly,- you have been permitting them to deceive you.
However, this is a choice that each one of you will have to take by yourself, - in your individual as well as your political capacity- i.e., you, - gentle reader, - must choose and implement the vectors of your choice;-in your day to day life, - as parent and/or child, teacher and/or student, leader-politician and/or as one of the individual humans whom the leaders cynically refer to as ignorant masses. To make myself clearer, each one of you will need to make her/his choice in a holistic (i.e.-in totality) manner. You must think deeply on what I have to say, arrive at your own conclusions and act on your own. And further note that you cannot have multiple and contradictory standards within your chosen value system.
Let me try to explain what I mean by Westernisation = Modernisation [ and in this context I would like to emphasize the reality (which some of you may find difficult to accept ) that,- as of today the United States of America is the repository and personification of the core values of Western Civilisation; and those amongst you, who may choose to understand and appreciate the theme of my suggestions, in the positive sense, can look up to the US as a model; and attempt to implant and root those core values into your own psyche, institutions and culture. For the articulate intellectuals amongst you, who may choose to carry this message onwards to your contemporaries, I refer you to the works of philosopher novelist,-Ayn Rand (1905-1982),- who is still unknown in most parts of the world. [I consider her to be the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century]. Her writings will enable you to discover/ rediscover Western Civilisation and America. (additional details below and elsewhere on my site as well as the rest of the web).
By Modernisation=Westernisation, I mean the intellectual/psychological process by which an individual deliberately and consciously adopts rational, logical, secular, scientific and humanistic thought process, with corresponding changes in her/his behavior patterns, attitudes and outlook on life. To clarify the matter, let me attempt to elaborate on the procedure for implementing the process in your own life. =>
You will need to change the methodology and pattern of your thought process and adopt a scientific, rational-logical, secular outlook on life, - which, is in many ways diametrically opposed to your present style and outlook represented by fatalism, superstitions, cultural chauvinism, indifference, intellectual inertia, lethargy and laziness.=> You will need to check your personal values and beliefs; your conditioned and self-imposed cultural and religious memes;-- the axioms of your life! Rid yourself of the contradictions in your psyche; throw overboard the intellectual junk of past millennia. Cast off the shackles of cultural egoisms, pretensions, pseudo beliefs and the burden of centuries of warped and twisted concepts;- all of which should have been consigned into anthropology museums or into the junk yard of history/philosophy- long ago. –Western civilization also had its own voluminous junk, including an ascetic oriental religion (Christianity) that had latched on to it and has consistently been an obstacle to progress; but they were successful in throwing out most of the ballast;-the result is the wealth, prosperity and freedom you see there and which you too look forward to.
Au contraire, you are still attached to the umbilical cord of your ‘motherly’ traditions; your so-called ancient culture and civilization. It is high time to cut yourself free from the apron strings of the past. Of course many of you may find the separation rather painful; - but you have to face the choice .Your claim to being the descendent of an ancient culture and civilization has limited relevance to existence today, - you must face the truth. It may be true that your civilization (e.g.-India, China) is 5000 years or older, and had its origin at a time when the human race was relatively young. But Western Civilization (Greek-Hellenic) also originated at the around same historical period of about 3000 years ago; - and you will find many similarities; -- if you care to compare your ancient myths and epics with those of Greece. You (Indian-Oriental civilization) started out well, wrote up sweeping philosophies, great pieces of literature, made significant discoveries along the way; even in mathematics and sciences. You even invented “zero”-the 10 digit decimal system (Indo-Arabic numerals) and gifted it (freeware-!) to the world,-and this enabled the evolution and progress of science and technology, and higher mathematics, the binary(0,1- two digit) system needed for digital technology, computers; and you can even say (with the wisdom of hind-sight) that the thinkers who wrote up the Indian mythologies and the epics, (Dasha-awatharas etc) anticipated Darwin by millennia in discovering the principles of biological evolution; and you had also laid the foundations of a system of healing and medicine: ‘Ayurveda’./ However all this happened in a very distant past.-(Ruminating and salivating on the glories of ancient achievements has become a convenient tool of escapism for many of your modern day intellectuals). Well, the past is a matter for historians; and needless to say,- your creative history of the two recent millenniums is not worthy of narration; though I will stop short of saying that with the invention of the decimal system and its core component,-‘cipher’ (= zero), your creativity also seems to have withered away into non-existence / oblivion ! ?.
Somewhere along the way, the memetic evolutionary process fizzled out -There were many probable reasons for this dissipation/entropy;-your present day philosophers, historians and cognitive scientists can do some soul-searching and post-mortems and delve further into the matter. The potential exists for multiple PhD theses, and even for writing up of scholarly tomes.-(e.g.-‘The Rise & Fall of the Indian/Hindu Civilization’; ‘Collapse of Oriental Civilizations’; ‘Downfall of the East’- ‘Stagnation of the 3rd World’,etc etc--we must find our Edward Gibbon or an Arnold Toynbee ( sans AT’s bias towards religion !). My own views on the reasons for the decline and dissipation of your creativity are as follows,-with suggestions for changes –in brief. (the subsequent paragraphs also indicate the areas where changes are vital) ==>.
1. The ancient Indian gurukul system (guru-shishya parampara) of education was a one to one relation-ship between an elderly scholar and his multiple students, - and normally restricted to the upper classes with limited access to written records. Verbal recitation and memorization,- with marginal analysis,- of massive tracts of scriptures –the Vedas, Upanishads and other ancient hymns composed in Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Aryans;--this constituted education, as an end in itself.
2. Knowledge, - as dispensed out by gurukul system was mostly of a theoretical nature (arm-chair gurus and students), and totally divorced from applications and tool making skills. In fact such type of applied knowledge, including commerce and applied economic activities were considered demeaning by the priests and rulers;- and were relegated to the so-called lower castes,-who in turn were prohibited and excluded from the gurukul process. This self-perpetuating system was based on, - and sustained the hereditary caste-system of India; - creating a barrier between theory and application which has resulted in all round stagnation. [Curious readers can read the ancient Indian classic: “Manavadharmashastra” (i.e. Manusmrithi-as it is referred to these days)]. And in all probability the guru was unlikely to have passed on the entirety of his knowledge to all his students; --key components of the knowledge base was obviously limited to his favourites and/or to his own off-spring for obvious economic reasons of self-interest; thereby curtailing the proliferation of the knowledge base. The gurukul system was an exclusive guild for retaining intellectual property; a secretive club of vested interests. It should also be noted that the students who were permitted to study at the gurukulams were invariably members of the priestly class (Brahmins) with a sprinkling of the ruling classes (Kshatriyas); it was a self perpetuating closed system. It is no wonder that in spite of the sparks of originality here and there, the fire and the light of knowledge never heated or lit up the cold, damp and dark meme space of the Indian sub-continent. [ironically politicians of developing countries such as India are vociferous in their chronic complaints and lamentation about western patent and intellectual property rights;- they conveniently ignore the truth about their own past,-wherein even theoretical knowledge was subject to institutionalised control and restrictions.]
3.= Philosophical/Cultural Chauvinism: Referring to India in particular, there was an inculcated attitude (origin and rationale thereof is not very clear) that India is the source and fountainhead of all knowledge and that we have nothing to learn from the rest of the world. This syndrome, probably unique to the Indian psyche, manifests in off-hand, supercilious, cynical comments and remarks to the effect that there is nothing new in the achievements of the western science and technology.- nothing to wonder about or look up to; -“no big deal ! ”; -----that all those discoveries and inventions were known to the ancient Indians, - many centuries ago; and that the west is only engaged in re-discovery,-‘reinventing the wheel’. Some modern day Indians even have the effrontery to go to the extent of saying that the scientists of the west are secretly studying their ancient scriptures and copy-pasting or translating the knowledge into the languages and the methodology of western civilisation.; they may even furnish examples, illustrations and quotations from their ancient legends and epics to rationalise and embellish such pet beliefs.
3-(a)=Consequent to this attitude, (viz. - a mental block, a closed mind against any new concept contrary to a person’s pet beliefs or tribal conditionings) there have been multiple occasions of missed opportunities in India’s past. ----- The earliest is from history,-322.BC,-Alexander of Macedonia, student of the great Greek Philosopher, Aristotle,- had reached N.W.India (the Indus valley region in present day Pakistan), in the course of his eastern conquests. And in accordance with his usual practice,- (as per the training and guidance of his tutor, the great Aristotle ) sought to have an interaction with the (Indian-Hindu) sanyasis and yogis, the scholars and intellectuals of the region to understand their philosophy etc.----- Legend has it that he was snubbed by them and also told that they (the Hindus) have nothing to learn from the ‘Yavanas’ (foreigners=Greeks) [this attitude= ‘Yankee, go home’, ‘you are not wanted here’;-is still prevalent in 21st Century India]. An excellent opportunity for the flow of Greek philosophy into the Orient was pre-empted. Subsequent events including diplomatic and marital contacts (Greek ambassadors arrived during the Gupta-Maurya periods of Indian history; and a Greek princess is said to have been married to a Maurya king, and it is also possible that Greek classics were translated to Sanskrit by scholars of the ancient library at Alexandria.) did not result in any lasting impact. True, - Greek sculpture (Ganndhara school) had a short lived presence, but that was it. //-- India missed this early opportunity to absorb the greatness of Greek philosophy and culture, science and mathematics, art, literature and politics. Of course Athenian model city state democracy etc may not have found roots here, but there was so much India could have learned from the methodology of the Greeks.=> [ Imagine the resultant of a blend of Greek and Indian cultures, effective from the 4th century BC.?!].
3-(b)=Another similar situation can be observed during the early centuries of the first millennium. It is a matter of historical record that Roman trading galleys frequented the SW (Malabar) coast of India. Muziris, [currently the coastal town of Kodungalloor (Cranganore -as named by the British)], located about 50 km north of Cochin, was a port of call for these traders who came for the spices of Malabar. The trading was apparently limited to commodities and gold only; - and unfortunately intellectual exchanges did not take off! (incidentally Muziris was the point of entry into India for all the 3 Semitic religions,- the Jews (from ancient Israel) were the first ‘foreigners’ to settle in Kerala, to be followed in due course by the arrival of Christians and Muslims; -A very benevolent and tolerant atmospherre prevailed in the Kingdoms of Travancore/Cochin and Malabar (present day Kerala state) enabling these religions to take roots and flourish.-But consider the irony that secular Greek-Roman philosophy and culture could not find space in this part of India; and on the other hand and unfortunately (!) religions,-the bane of humanity,-managed to hog the meme space and the landscape ! [it is interesting to note that the Jews who originally settled did not choose to proselytize or increase their numbers. (Unlike the Christians and Muslims, - who jointly constitute almost 50 % of the present population of Kerala.) The Jews limited their activities and exposure to trade and commerce and flourished within that sphere; however with the arrival of the Europeans and the Christian missionaries, and for obvious reasons,-the Jews of Kerala dwindled in numbers; and today the only visible evidences are the ancient Synagogues at Cochin and Kodungalloor;- more a museum than a place of worship; and most of the Malayalam speaking Jews have since migrated to modern Israel or elsewhere.]
3-(c)=And of course the most recent (from the historical perspective) case of missed opportunities starts from Vasco-da-Gama’s discovery of the sea route to India, circumnavigating the African continent;- achieving land-fall (Y-1498) on the Malabar coast at Calicut (aka Kozhikode); about 100 km north of Muziris: this event marked the beginning of the opening up of the Orient;- the arrival of Europeans,- initially for trade and culminating in the eventual take over of India by the British. [Other European powers, such as the Portuguese, the Dutch and the French were marginalized and driven into small geographical pockets.] The British enabled and set into motion the slow and steady process of mordernisation; - however there was limited appreciation for their policies,- from the side of the narrow minded Indian culture chauvinists, who resented them as alien impositions. And while the British and other Europeans sought to understand and appreciate the native culture and traditions (the volumes of scholarly translations and analysis of ancient Sanskrit texts, and the socio-economic and scientific research conducted by Europeans speak for themselves), we Indians (with rare exceptions) never made any genuine attempt to reach out and absorb the essence of the West. The magnitude of the loss of this golden opportunity is colossal. The British had an active and visible presence in India for more than two centuries; however none of the rulers of the local ‘Princely States’ thought it worth while to initiate a project to modernise the areas under their control. (Contrast this to the insight and the vision of the Meiji Emperor of 19th century Japan who laid the foundations of the mordernisation process in that country; and in this context one must also remember the similar achievements of Kemal Attaturk of Turkey in the early 20th century.). And further not one of the so-called intellectuals of the period found it worth while to explore the root cause behind their subjugation by the British and other western countries. They were far too lethargic to look into their own minds; the numbing inertia of their so-called traditions closed their minds to reality and moulded them into chronic complainers, - spouting leftist clichés about western imperialism etc, etc. [and unfortunately these attitudes continue, - even today, -after half a century of ‘independence’]. There was a time when Hindu culture looked down upon crossing the “kala pani” (=black waters), i.e. traveling abroad by crossing the high seas. Those who finally broke this tradition and went to Britain for studies (e.g. Gandhi, Nehru, etal) came back with a partial understanding and / or misconceptions; but without any real desire to impart the lessons they learned from their exposure to Western culture. Gandhi touted a return to nature / Luddite philosophy. Nehru, who is eulogized as the architect of modern India made an attempt at industrializing India with an amalgam of Keynesian fiscal policy and state control over the ‘commanding heights of the economy’; a govt.controlled, planned socialist economy, ala the Soviet Union. (which was Nehru’s ideal state, –something he picked up from his association with the British socialists of pre-war London, where he studied for law.---a majority of the politician type in India seem to be under the delusion that making ‘laws’ in parliament will translate into economic prosperity.). Nehru’s inclinations towards socialism, (which he glorified) and ipso facto his political leanings towards Soviet Russia as a fellow (socialist) country, cost India bitterly during the cold-war era; - and caused a rift between India and the US. Nehru’s greatest shock was the 1962 invasion of India by the ‘People’s Republic of China’-which was considered as another fellow socialist country. The other socialist friend (Soviets) did nothing much to help India (why should they?). Nehru’s successors never learned; the state policy continued; his daughter Indira Gandhi tried to outdo her father with nationalization and dictatorial methods;-and even went to the extent of renaming India as a ‘socialist’ republic and removing ‘Right to Property’ from India’s 1950 Constitution.------ A person is known by the company he/she keeps; Both Nehru as well as his daughter and political heir, Indira Gandhi had excellent personal relationships with the tyrants of the Soviet Union and also Fidel Castro of Cuba, Tito of Yugoslavia, Nasser of Egypt, Gaddafi of Libya, and Sukarno of Indonesia; and maybe Saddam Hussein also. (Incidentally Saddam is known to have attended college in India!) And of course also with Labour party leaders of UK and altruistic/egalitarian US leaders such as President Kennedy.-“birds of a feather flock together”! //
Only during the early 90’s and after a financial crisis of unprecedented proportions (the cumulative logical outcome of the collectivist-Keynesian economic policies of the past 40 years as an independent nation.) did we see the first glimmerings of economic wisdom under the then PM: Mr.Narasimha Rao, under guidance from his Finance minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh (current PM of India). The political establishment was compelled to do a massive about turn and start the process of dismantling the economic controls, and initiate reforms such as privatization; a process which hopefully will enable India to evolve into a free-enterprise, laissez faire economy ala the US model or an improvement thereof. It was of course a forced choice; the alternative was national bankruptcy. Narasimha Rao, a veteran politician himself,- was elected on the platform of the Congress party which had,- ab initio,- touted the leftist agenda of state control, confiscation of private property etc:, a diluted version of the poison concocted by Marx and Engels; the Indian Congress party’s version is often referred to as ‘Gandhian’ socialism,-or socialism with a human face!!. In this context it may be noted that India did have one (and only one) political party with a right-wing economic agenda: the now defunct Swatantra Party -founded by the late Sri. C.Rajagopalachari,; -- they failed miserably and never succeeded in reaching out to the electorate (maybe the time has come to revive the party-?? !!). Au contraire there was a plethora of collectivist parties in all shades of red; - blood red to light pink, as well as communal and theocratic political parties. (The theocratic/communal parties are often wrongly referred to as right-wing parties; but they too were invariably ‘leftists’ in their economic agenda.).The Congress Party, founded by Gandhi, Nehru etal can be said to have been of the pink shade. (humane communists- a contradiction in terms!) [The tyranny of Nehru’s daughter and political successor: Indira Gandhi, - who seemed to have had an inclination towards darker shades of the communist color; indicates the direction in which the party was leading the nation?!] The Indian Congress party had the longest sequence of election success from the 1950’s onward; (thanks to the momentum of its significant role in the independence struggle and the association of larger than life politicians such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru etal. There was no alternative at the national level, - to this ‘left of center’ party.). Ipso facto the Congress party was the primary cause of the negative economic and fiscal chaos the spilled out in the early 90’s,-the cumulative and logical outcome of their 40 years of economic mismanagement and controls./
4.= Religions and Rituals: The amount of time, energy and wealth spent (wasted!) by 3rd World citizens on rituals connected with their religions is mind boggling. These ancient religions (Hinduism etc, as well as those of Semite origin = Christianity and Islam) originated centuries ago at a time when civilizations were at nomadic/ pastoral / agricultural and tribal levels of existence. These religions were a collection of value systems, rules, regulations and rituals needed for tribal-racial survival and economic sustenance of humans at nomadic/agricultural levels of existence; they evolved from centuries of precarious survival. And contrary to myths weaved around their origins; ----these systems could not and did not spring up overnight. Certain individuals may have been instrumental in consolidating and recording centuries old tribal experiences into a manageable form. [e.g., Zarathustra, Buddha, Confucius, Moses ,Christ and Mohammad, Guru Govind Singh etc. The identity of the individuals who consolidated the Hindu scriptures, viz.-the Upanishads and Vedas, and Manusmrithi are lost in antiquity or unknown]. However these consolidators were responsible for a major flaw of omission or commission:=> they indicated, implied and imposed the concept that their specific write up was the ultimate truth, the final revelation and there is nothing more to be discovered;- the option for upgrading the system with changing times and circumstances was pre-empted, blocked or prohibited; [what if Microsoft decided in the 1970’s that MS-DOS (no further upgrades !!) is a sufficient operating system for all computers for all times and / or Intel decided that the “AT-486” is the ultimate processor; and thereafter attempted various methods, including lobbying with government to maintain their respective monopolies.-- (my apologies to Microsoft and Intel for using their names in this analogy-I’am fully aware that such a possibility cannot and will not originate from those two US based Corporations,- paradigms / paragons and symbols of laisezz faire, free-enterprise capitalism;----without their creativity and their products, I could not have created this article).] ;- with the unfortunate and destructive results we have been seeing ab initio.-Thus, even today (Y-2005) at the beginning of the 3rd Millennium-we are the unfortunate victims of the contradictions, paradoxes, ignorance, superstitions, and the warped thinking of a bygone era of cow-herders, goat and camel herders, hunters, fishermen and sustenance farmers. The magnitude of this historical anomaly is compounded by the irony that these outdated values are now being propagated and often imposed upon the ignorant with the latest tools of science and the technology;- the mad hatters, the theocrazies [yes, this is not a error of spelling !-,maybe I have just coined a new word for the English vocabulary: meaning those who are crazy and obsessed about god and religion] of organized religion are universally in favour of using newspapers and books, radio, movies and TV, telephones and satellites, e-mail and internet, – in short the latest tools of multimedia mass communication,-to replicate and broadcast their warped messages to a massive population of believers and wannabes. And for those who refuse their message, there are swords and guns and arrows and bullets, fire and bombs, high jacking and hostage taking, threats and ex-communications, suicide bombers looking forward to martyrdom; and so on,- ad nauseum;----- this has been the centuries old methodology of certain religions. Needless to point out, please note that the theocrazies have become adept at converting the weapons of defense and mordern means of transportation and communication into tools of vengeance and destruction against those who refuse to kow tow to their ideologies./
5.= Empowerment/Emancipation of Woman (the ignored better half ).
The most unfortunate feature of 3rd World/oriental civilizations is the pathetic and down-trodden status of the female of the human species, in spite of all the high flown verbiage on the elevated status of women, as often referred to in their traditions and scriptures. The lives of women have always been dependent on, controlled and constrained by the irrational whims and fancies of the male of the species. The father-husband-son combination / conspiracy ensured perpetual slavery of the female at the individual level at various stages of her life;-duly compounded and complicated by religion, culture, tradition and the state,-these institutions themselves being created, sustained and controlled by men folk, usually oldies with a paranoid obsession for power over women. Note that from the dawn of civilizations, women were normally excluded from religious institutions and practices thereof;- no religion has ever been founded by a woman. The controls imposed by the male were omnipotent, all encompassing and self-perpetuating. And above all the supreme god was always a male (goddesses in the religions of India, as well as ancient Greece, Rome etc were usually consorts of male gods with limited powers doled out by the supreme male.).---- I wonder whether the feminist movement ever looked deeply into these matters. ------ Needless to emphasize, the emancipation of women is a necessary and indispensable condition; a sine qua non for progress and modernisation. Much has been written on this subject, and I am not elaborating thereon at present (maybe later,-link will be provided). Suffice it to say that women themselves are responsible for their centuries old down-trodden status; and they are yet to realize that the biological and evolutionary constraints that circumscribed their activities are now on the way out; human thought, science and technology have and will enable them to come out of their shells and stand shoulder to shoulder with the male of the species; but this also necessitates that females should be prepared to take responsibilities and risks; the comforts of lethargy and laziness-the easy life will also have to be consigned to the evolutionary history of their gender. There will be transitional problems for certain types of individuals consequent to this ongoing paradigm shift;-Courageous and independent thinkers need to emerge and set examples and role models. The neo-woman will face enormous obstacles, from the father/brother/husband/son combination and also from the theocrazies and the state; Let me quote / paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche as a mark of encouragement to the evolving neo-woman : “ For fear,-is an exception with us. Courage however and adventure, and delight in the uncertain, in the unattempted, courage seemeth to me the entire primitive history of humanity!” (Nietzsche is often construed as a male chauvinist; but it was his far reaching philosophic works which exposed,-inter alia, - the ulterior motives of religion, gods and their self appointed spokesmen.). We can look forward to a better and more humane world pari passu with the evolution of the neo woman.-and you can count me as one who will welcome this far reaching paradigm shift in human affairs.
6=English Language: Your gateway to Western Civilisation.
The English language (along with other British/Western institutions such as democracy, jurisprudence, banking and corporate institutions etc) is probably the greatest legacy which India received from the British. This language,- as a communication and thinking tool, is a sine qua non for human progress; and I myself can be considered as an illustration,-par excellence of its potential as the language of the future. Sans English, my cognitive evolution would not have been worthy of mention; I would not have written these pages, nor would I have created this web-site!!.[ The language of my parents is Malayalam ( I can of course claim that I am able to communicate in Malayalam, even better than ‘Malayalam only’ chauvinists), and I am also reasonably fluent in Hindi and Tamil,- two other Indian languages;------- however my own intellectual process operates in the English language,-which was the medium of instruction throughout my academic career and in my non-academic intellectual pursuits; i.e. the English language is my language by choice.-Thanks are due to Lord Macaulay, Governor General of British India ,who initiated English education during the 1830’s, and also to the Jesuits and other European missionaries who set up educational institutions modeled on British schools and colleges. India owes a huge debt of gratitude to the British, not only for the English language, but also for the legacy of other British/Western institutions that integrated us into a nation,--- of course I am aware that this will raise Cain among the language chauvinists and nationalists of India and that this would be a politically incorrect statement to expound. But face it and accept the truth:--Without the English language, and without our British past, the Indian Republic would not have existed;---- we would have been a balkanized group of states, each at pitiable levels of development, comparable with some of the basket cases of the African continent. The current generation may well remember that it is our command over the English language that makes us successful as immigrants in USA, UK and even in the Middle East and Africa. And that is the same reason for US corporate organizations such as Microsoft, Intel, Sun Micro, etc to set up off-shore units in India. (BPO-business process outsourcing).
Another and the more important reason for emphasizing upon the English language is the fact that English has become (whether you like it or not) the lingua franca of mathematics, science, engineering and technology and international commerce; and above all, -by accident or design it has become the core language of computer science and the internet; (let anyone try to operate a PC or use the internet without a basic knowledge of English!!.)
[and needless to say it is their background in English which enables Indian students (to the extent that they studied to English medium schools and to the extent they had parents/peers who were not “mother tongue chauvinists”) in US /UK colleges to excel and occasionally do better than local students in their academic pursuits]. I predict that within a few decades English will become the universal language of earth; and many of our existing languages are destined for philology-anthropology researchers. All 3rd world countries as well as non-English speaking European countries (France, for example may have severe ego problems on this issue; though other European nations appear to have a more positive attitude.) may well realize that the earlier they become proficient in the English language, the better it is for them. And if you need to look for historical precedents, recollect Kemal Attaturk’s attempt to modernise Turkey in the 1920’s-; it may interest you to know that the Arabic language of modern Turkey is written with English alphabet. I expect that Japan and China will change to English alphabets in due course for written communication; and within a few decades phase out their hereditary languages in the same way that Turkey did. The ground swell of an individual level desire to become proficient in the English language is already being felt in these countries and also in other areas such as the middle-east, the former soviet bloc etc./ (technologically savvy language chauvinists throughout the world are hoping to create an ‘universal translator’,-a digital / AI device to enable instantaneous translations between multiple languages;-the market for such a product/system is doubtful; but as usual there may be spin-off benefits from the research involved;-scientific research is always a win-win process in the long run.)
7=Modernisaion/Westernisation: Experiences of Japan and China,-two other Oriental civilisations:
The case of Japan’s modernisation is worthy of note: Japan realized the need for modernisation as early as the 1860’s [the recent Hollywood movie-“The Last Samurai” captures the spirit of Japan in those early days –the clash of values between the traditional ways of the Samurai and Meiji Emperor’s raison’d’etat –the urgent necessity to modernise and catch up with the US and Europe. The Emperor and his advisers (who are NOT the heroes of the movie) correctly realised that the alternative is national extinction.] Japan went ahead with modernisation; albeit unfortunately- in a partial way.=> They adopted the technology and commercial methodologies of the West (USA) , but chose to retain various contradictory elements in their national psyche, -resulting in a revival of militaristic traditions (the return of the Samurai-?!!) paving the way to their international military ambitions,- teaming up with the Nazis, and their misguided mania to make war with USA (Pearl Harbor- WW-II). After their rout in 1945, they did another level of self-searching and the resulting metamorphosis is the hi-tech Japan of today;-a commercial, scientific and technological powerhouse of innovation. [It is true that they still continue to emphasise upon and retain some of their traditions, but from an operational point of view, Japan is a highly westernised developed country; but sad to say, it may take another generation before they too finally purge their psyches from the left overs of their past. Let India and other 3rd World countries take note of the Japanese experience and learn from it.].
The situation in mainland China is a more peculiar and an unique phenomenon; China was another ancient Oriental civilization steeped in tradition and culture and under normal circumstances their development path would have been similar to that of India and other 3rd World nations. However history tried a different approach in this case;-Drawing parallels with the emergence of the Iron Curtain in post WW-I Russia ; the bamboo curtain of this people’s republic shrouded the massive population of China for almost half a century after World War-II. These 50 years of the Chinese version of communism enforced by a harsh and fundamentalist group of dictators, brought about a significant break in the continuity of Chinese history and civilisation. The Chinese communist party came to the conclusion that religion (Buddhism; an ascetic outgrowth of Hinduism.), culture and traditions of ancient China are incompatible with their ideology,-as expounded by their gurus- (Marx and Engels, Mao etal.); and they decided to clean up the slate, to provide a ‘tabula rasa’ for their massive socio-economic experiment. The ‘cultural revolution’ was apparently quite ‘successful’, and in the process a few generations of ‘ideal’ communist citizens were cloned,-including the group currently holding the reins of power. [the Chinese had the experiences of Stalinist Russia to model upon;--the enormity of the sufferings caused to individual citizens of their countries are of no relevance to such dictators; but that is an entirely different subject].-------However the last two decades of the 20th century saw the withering away of the communist dream. [Marx is supposed to have said that ultimately, - “the State will wither away”;-however it is his own offspring that has withered away]. Their ideology reached its logical and obvious terminal stage as foreseen decades earlier;- Poland was the first unit of the communist empire to collapse (early 1980’s), to be followed on by others of the group, one after another leading up to the complete balkanization of the soviet bloc; the evil empire ended as a damp squib, with hardly a whimper. The USSR = CCCP disappeared into oblivion, and the free world breathed in relief!! [In her magnum opus-‘Atlas Shrugged’,-written in the early 1950’s,- American philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand had predicted and chronicled the sequence of the process by which a collectivist state reaches its terminal stage.—however those new to her works are advised to start with her earlier novel ‘Fountainhead’ ] .------ The Chinese leaders understood the writings on the wall and concluded that change was critical to ensure that they remain in political control, and that communist fundamentalism –(Mao’s little red book version)- must be replaced or amended. And in true dictatorial style they have imposed and implemented an about-turn (almost overnight as historical periods go !) in their state policies; -----China presently has an unique form of state imposed capitalism (a contradiction in terms), a collectivist version of free enterprise (another contradiction in terms) with all the necessary bells, whistles and symbols, including a functioning stock exchange, commercial banks, commodity markets, posh hotels, English speaking business executives in western suits, beauty contests, high-rise buildings with plush regional offices of transnational corporations.;----they have thrown overboard their isolationist self-dependence and have been successful in convincing the international companies into making massive investments to modernise life inside the erstwhile bamboo curtain. (high risk consequences hang over these western corporations- and shareholders may be in for bitter disappointment, but I leave that for another day).--Maybe I have digressed on my theme of this particular paragraph;- the point I wish to highlight is that the communist rule during the four decades after WW-II (1950 to 1990’s) resulted in a complete break from the culture and traditions of China’s past;------ and when the party made the volte-face during the 1990’s and went gung-ho for modernisation (i.e. westernisation), individual Chinese were able to make the transition without the inertia or the leg-irons of their past culture, religion and civilisation. The younger generation in particular has soaked up the life style of US teenagers;-TV and internet assisted in the process. The timing was near perfect; (historical cause-effect analysis of this unique social phenomena can provide research opportunity for enterprising social scientists.) [the present situation in China is to be contrasted with that in India;--- here the younger generation is still shackled by family, religion, society and political parties; and ironically certain elements of the younger generation are conspicuous in their anti-Western/ anti-American stance, and often violently vociferous about what they consider to be ‘decadent’ western values,-inconsistent with Indian culture. As examples, note the fuss that leftist-feminist organizations create about beauty contests, the Valentine’s Day violence and lootings by the youth wing of fundamentalist political parties; and also dress-code for women being sought to be imposed by communal elements in certain northern states; ----such problems are conspicuous by their near total absence in present day China; and the reason for this is the discontinuity created by the half century old communist dictatorship.] [it may please be noted that my above observations and comments should not be construed as approval of the Chinese path to mordernisation;-nothing could be further from my values and the theme of this message;- the rapidity of China’s westernisation,-(thanks to the cultural discontinuity),- was an unintended but beneficial consequence of the communist dictatorship;---- the present and future generations of Chinese can enjoy the fruits ;---however nothing can justify the pain and the sufferings of the billions who slaved under the yoke for the best years of their lives and passed on without even seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.] In conclusion I wish to add that the Chinese path to westernization has far too many built in contradictions and omissions;-legacies of the state controlled economic system. The western corporations presently investing in China should do well to think twice, exercise due diligence, and hedge their investments; let them understand that business, commerce and industry,- as they are used to in their own countries can flourish only in conjunction with other components of Western civilization such as individual rights, rule of law, political democracy, a free press, commercial institutions (banks, insurance companies, accounting and audit firms etc). Unfortunately as of now, there are many missing links in China.-If I were to be consulted by a potential investor on ‘country risk’,- my answer would be obvious.!!- Hold it for the present! Wait for political reform, right-wing political parties, free elections and democracy, transparency in government, open education, a free press and an independent judiciary;--in short look for the emergence of the checks and balances that are the sine qua nons of a free country.// However we can hope that wisdom will dawn on the Chinese leaders and these institutions may evolve and take roots within the coming years.]//
8.=Individualism / Personal Responsibility/ Free-Enterprise / Capitalism / Rule of Law /Minimisation of the role of Government.
Probably the most important message that I wish to convey to my fellow humans and the theme of these passages is related to those core, indispensable values of Western civilization, as relevant to the present, -the 1st Century of the 3rd Millennium, -the golden age of Science & Technology. Allow me to list them:-They include the rights of the individual, private ownership of one’s own life and property, personal responsibility of the individual for her/his own future,- a responsibility devoid of dependence and/or interference by the society or state. And complementary to these values based on unfettered individualism are the socio-economic and political extensions thereof; namely:-free-enterprise, i.e. laissez-faire capitalism in the domain of economics and commerce, rule of law in jurisprudence and legislations, and above all elimination / minimization of the role of government;- and with self- interest / mutually beneficial trade forming the basis of all human relationships. The government/state should limit its sphere of activity to the protection of life and property of the individual from internal and external threats,- via the police, military and related services. The legislature/judiciary shall exist to protect individual freedoms and rights; and monitor, interpret and adjudicate on the very limited laws that will be required. (contrast this to the enormous plethora of ‘laws’, govt. orders, etc churned out on a never ending basis, by our semi-literate parliamentarians and their bureaucratic side-kicks.)
The principles of laissez-faire, free-enterprise / capitalism,- based on unregulated market forces, were expounded by professional economists such as Adam Smith, Jean Baptiste Say, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek;- with the grand, sweeping consolidation and integration of their theories into a holistic philosophy being completed by American Philosopher-Novelist,- Ayn Rand. (1905-82). Economists such as Adam Smith, von Mises etc may be given a passing acknowledgement by academicians and the arm-chair economist-bureaucrats who seek to manipulate the wheels of commerce and industry; however Ayn Rand is relatively unknown to them; or alternatively ignored or considered taboo within their ‘politically correct’ society. The world at large is yet to discover Ayn Rand and Laissez-Faire Economics/Capitalism, - an unknown, undiscovered solution to the problems of economic development and related problems of humanity. [The momentum of the centuries had ensured the continued domination of religions, superstitions, altruism, collectivism and related pseudo-ideologies,- masquerading as economics; and interlinked thereto we have the morbid picture of welfare states, a bloated bureaucracy,- a big brother government manipulated by the so-called representatives of the masses:-politicians ignorant of their own ignorance and a perspective limited to winning the next elections and holding on to their offices.//------ In historical terms the politician is a relatively new breed of the ruling class and the results of their rule/misrule over the past half a century,- in the various 3rd world countries can put the worst tsunami, earthquake, hurricane, or cyclone to shame.---The difference between these two categories of destructive forces being the relatively longer period over which the politician carries out his act; with the active sanction of the victims.!! ]
Appendix-1 –A Historical Recap.
(An integral part of my ‘message’)
There is of course all round confusion and mis-information as to what constitutes West and Western Civilization. Let me clarify the situation and present this to you in unequivocal terms.è
Western Civilization, as we understand today, has two clear cut divisions/components, namely the (ancient) Greek (Hellenic) culture; and secondly the Christian religion (the version which spawned out of the declining Roman Empire) (I would prefer the word vector instead of component) Allow me to elaborate as follows:
Vector-I. Greek (Hellenistic) Culture& Civilisation:- along with the related Roman (pre Christian) extension thereof is the fountain-head of all that is valuable,- the good and the positive face of the West [unfortunately this vital truth is often glossed over , ignored, bypassed and/or substituted by the hype that the Christian religion is responsible for the progress of the West.- Au contraire, the Christian religion/church is an institution which attached itself to;- or rather managed to climb on to the towering edifice of Western civilization;-a process comparable to the lush parasitic plants that climb and engulf giant trees of a tropical forest; so much so that the plant is often mistaken as the tree]. I will hereafter use the combo word, - “Greco-Roman” to refer to this core component of the Western civilization [the critical, indispensable and positive face of the West). It may please be understood that Rome was to a great extent, a mirror image of Greece; shall we say an evolutionary upgrade of Athens; there were of course subtle differences in style, but in essence ,and figuratively speaking,- Roman civilisation was built upon the hills of Athens, Greece.]
Ancient Greece (think of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Archimedes, Homer, Pliny, Pythagoras, Eratosthenes, Hippocrates, --- etal.) laid the foundations of philosophy, logic and mathematics, scientific methodology, literature, drama, music & poetry, sculpture and fine arts, political institutions and the methodology of historical records;-in short the entire infrastructure of modern intellectual process; (I consider this as a significant paradigm shift in human evolution ). And Rome (legend says that the city of Rome on the river Tiber in Italy, was founded by Greek brothers Remus and Romulus) went on ahead to create grand socio-political institutions on a scale unparalleled in history ;-patterns of government, jurisprudence and military organization which are valid even today throughout the world, including India and other developing nations. [Of course, these institutions, in amended /upgraded versions, reached the 3rd World through the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch -etc. -They came for trade and commerce during the 2nd half of the last millennium (15th to 20th centuries) and ended up as rulers and colonialists; -thanks to the philosophical vacuum prevailing in their future colonies.// “Nature abhors a vacuum”-search within yourself for proof of this harsh truth!]
Unfortunately socio-psychological and political factors combined and conspired at a critical time in the history of this great (Roman) empire, resulting in a gradual collapse and ultimate phase-out of that grand creation of humanity, and this coincided with the rise of the Christian religion. Historians and philosophers can debate endlessly about the cause - effect relation between the decline of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christian religion. [Christianity and Civilization] (Those interested may attempt to read through Edward Gibbon’s magnum opus: “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, or at least an abridged version thereof.)
Suffice it to say that the cumulative and cascading effects of logistical problems involved in governing a vast empire, border attacks by the ‘barbarians’ (forest dwelling Germanic tribes etc), internal strife, mismanagement of finances, poverty and economic depressions, declining competence of the later Caesars, - (weaklings,-further softened by the new religious propaganda / conversion) were the multiple factors responsible for this cataclysmic and unfortunate historical event. (for an in-depth understanding of the evolutionary-psychology of the Christian religion I refer you to the grand-master of Western-Philosophy- Friedrich Nietzsche;- read all his works including “Thus Spake Zarathusthra”, “Anti-Christ”, “Twilight of the Idols” etc;-most of his writings are available on-line at various sites including è [The Nietzsche Channel ] [Nietzsche's Features]
Vector-II. Christianity: Let me set aside the questions I posed at the end of the earlier paragraph, (i.e. the cause-effect relationship between the decline of Rome and the growth of the Christian religion). Fait-accompli! Nothing much is achieved by a post-mortem. However one can learn from the past, identify and weed out the negative forces. Suffice it to say the Christian religion, an ascetic Oriental religion, which spawned from the middle-east, established its roots among the slaves and the so-called down-trodden of Rome;-The first seeds of anarchy and socialism were sown. (The danger that this aspiring religion posed to the values that Rome stood for was recognized by Emperors such as Marcus Aurelius (himself a philosopher of renown-you may recollect him from the Hollywood blockbuster: ‘Gladiator’). But gradually Christianity succeeded in infiltrating certain weaker elements of the Roman aristocracy, including the Caesar (Constantine-1) himself. A point of no return was reached; the coup-de grace was the abdication of Constantine-1; he became a Christian, abandoned Rome and exiled himself to Constantinople,-(Istanbul of modern Turkey), to set up the so-called eastern holy Roman empire;-needless to say this eastern empire was a Christian theocracy. Constantine’s successor, Justinian-1 proclaimed Christianity to be the official religion of his empire-. The city of Rome was abandoned and the emperor’s position was usurped by the local bishop. In due course (and quite naturally/predictably) the (Eastern) Roman Empire dissolved into non-existence; to be balkanized into independent nation states of Europe –, Prussia, France, Britain, Spain and also Greece and Italy etc, with Christianity as the common factor;-the religion of the state.-theocracy through the back door..
The Christian religion, originating in the deserts of Judea as an anarchy against the local establishment (Jewish-Old Testament/Talmudic religion) had been successful in effecting a palace coup in Rome; the Bishop of Rome had ousted the Caesar, and hereafter came to be called Pontiff/Pope –the ruler over human souls!!; From its vantage position in Rome, the erstwhile power center of a great civilization, the Church made steady inroads, deleting and vandalizing the achievements of Hellenic culture –culminating in the notorious period known as the Dark Ages of (western) history. It is often conveniently glossed over that the cause of this miserable period in European history was an unbridled theocracy. (historians such as Arnold Toynbee go out of the way to paint a rosy picture of these times; he describes religion, or more specifically Christian religion as the “hand-maiden of civilisation”; and unfortunately this meme has become an useful tool to the church). [In this context it may be noted that theocracies invariably lead to Dark Ages- note Iran under the ayatollahs; Afghanistan under the Taliban; and India and other developing countries would do well to watch out and keep a check on their own versions, attempting to raise their hydra-heads by capitalizing on the ignorance and illiteracy of their masses.]. However with the passage of the centuries, Christianity has discarded, (thanks to the re-discovery of the Hellenic (Greco-Roman) culture during the period known as Renaissance.) many of its negative features. German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was probably the first to make a comprehensive review of the negative effects of Christianity on Western civilization. (And that is the reason why this grand-master of philosophy has been ignored by the academia and the media; of course he is sometimes given a passing mention, usually as a casual after-thought and without any appreciation of the greatness of his achievements.).
Nevertheless it must be stated for the record that two to three centuries of the reformed Christianity that came with the Europeans have certainly left positive footprints in India.- The missionaries (Jesuits for example) were an enabling factor in the modernisation of the country,- the setting up of hospitals and educational institutions; –western medical science, English language, and scientific knowledge have found firm roots in India. The Christians in India (a relatively small percentage of the overall population,) were more amenable to modernisation / westernization; thanks to their comfortable relationship with the Europeans. Their enterprise, their work ethics etc are certainly models for other Indian communities to follow.
Today the church has a declining role in prosperous western societies; however it continues to attempt an active political role in impoverished nations such as those in S. America, Africa etc; and in indirect ways attempts to influence public policies even in the US and in Europe. (Note the Church’s stand on birth-control and abortion, stem-cell research, cloning etc, and the heated political issues of the US presidential elections-2004; and it is reported that the Church played a very active role in the re-election of President Bush). [it must be clearly understood that all organized religions as well as collectivist ideologies can exist and thrive only in the fertile soils of economic and/or intellectual poverty.]
On History: The Rise & Fall of Regional Civilisations & Nation States..
At this point, I am compelled to digress and muse on the strange ironies of history!-the repeated cycle in the rise and fall of civilizations and nations;- (of course institutions, societies, nations and civilizations emerge as the vector resultant of individual thinking, with creative and articulate thinkers often directing the flow ) è The earliest historical examples of great civilizations are those of Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia-Persia, Indus valley, and ancient China (BC.5000 to BC 3000,-onwards);- ie present day Middle East and the Orient. (the Aztec, Inca and Maya Civilisations of Central/South America evolved independently and due to geographical barriers did not have interactions with western civilisation) During that period, N.Europe was still in the hunter-gatherer/Neolithic semi-barbarian stage, even as late as the early centuries of the 1st millennium. S.Europe (Mediterranean coast) did not show any promise until the Minoans emerged in Crete, the small island south of Greece, some time around BC.3000.The Mediterranean coastline (south, east and north-east) was certainly the crucible of civilization. From Crete, the northward voyage into mainland Greece evolved into the jewel in the crown, the Fountainhead of Civilizationè Athens/Hellenic culture. !!-The Aristotle-Alexander period (4th century BC) was probably the zenith of Greek culture. By this period in history, ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Persia had reached their nadirs or even dissolved into oblivion. In due course, Athens found itself by passed by the tides of history; but Greek culture achieved a transformation, ---- a metamorphosis, relocating itself in Rome; where it continued to flourish and blossom. And Rome was the agency that civilized the rest of Europe, including the British Isles. The decline of the Roman Empire during 1st half of the 1st Millennium (as elaborated above); and the palace coup staged by the Church in Rome ended a glorious chapter in civilization. The new ruling class, the theocrats of Rome (the Christian Pontiffs) found Greek ideas and methodology (reason, logic, science and mathematics etc, and also the arts and literature.) contrary to their world view. Freedom of thought etc ala the Greeks preempted the controls they wished to impose upon their human ‘flock’. --- Systematic vandalism was initiated and many great relics of Hellenic origin were permanently lost to humanity. The Dark Age of Western Civilisation had set in. (and as I have said elsewhere such dark ages are the logical resultants, whenever and wherever religion reaches out into the socio-political sphere).//
Fortunately for humanity, the light of Hellenism did not fade out completely; the lamp continued to flicker elsewhere: [I would like to characterise this as another magnificent twist in the games of history, especially in the context of current pseudo-debates about “clash of civilisations etc”] ------The destruction of Greek classics etc was possible only in mainland Europe, including Greece and Rome itself,- i.e. within the geographic areas where the Pope exercised control and domination. The Roman Church did not exercise control over the following geographical areas, viz: present day Turkey and the Middle-East, the N.African coastal belt (Egypt to Morocco) of the Mediterranean, the Arabian peninsula, etc.- in short the homeland of the Arabs. Fortunately Greek classics were already well known to the Arabs of that period. The Library and Museum of Alexandria, established by the Ptolemys of Egypt- 4th century BC, - was probably one of the largest repositories of Greek classics until it was vandalized in the course of a civil war against the Roman Empire and later completely destroyed by the Christians in AD.391. (a sickening illustration of the their attitude towards knowledge and intellectual freedoms). The Library had enabled the dissemination of Greek culture with availability of translations in Arabic, Hebrew and other regional languages. The Arab rulers of the period apparently had a positive attitude, an open mind that actively encouraged scholarship and creativity. (to be contrasted with the Arab rulers of the present, with rare exceptions such as the current rulers of UAE and the late Kemal Attaturk of Turkey). Universities and institutions modeled on the academe of Athens were set up and funded by the Caliphs and the Sultans of the period. Baghdad, Istanbul, Tunis, Cordova etc were University towns and centers of classical studies. The methodologies of logic and reason,- in mathematics and the physical sciences, as established by the Greeks,- were upgraded, codified with further developments. Arab mathematicians of the period were instrumental in sourcing the decimal system from India, and integrating the same into the Greek system. (Indo-Arabic numerals as we call them today) [Note the philology of some of our modern sciences; the Arabic roots are obvious: Al-Jabr =Algebra; Al-Jographi= Geography; Al-Chemy = Chemistry]. It must be noted that this state of affairs could exist in the Arab world of that period because Islam, which originated during the 8th Century AD was relatively new at that point in time, and was yet to morph into the rigid and fundamentalist theocracy it has become today. To sum up, Greek culture survived the vandalism of the dark ages of Europe and continued to flourish,- thanks to the Arabs who kept the torch burning.-----And the Moroccan conquest of Spain and the establishment of centers of learning in Cordova (Andalusia area of Spain) enabled the re-entry of Greek classics into Europe, culminating in the Renaissance and the resultant Reformation in the Christianity of Europe.-----Consider the irony of the roundabout intellectual route: Hellenic culture, the fountainhead of human civilization, geographically located in the backyard of Europe found herself exiled from her own homeland; however she was not destined to become an orphan. The Arabs of the 1st Millennium,--- spread over Turkey, Middle East, Egypt, N.Africa ----up to Morocco were sufficiently advanced to appreciate the value of learning, (Greek classical studies were probably a normal part of an educated individual’s intellectual baggage) (and it may also be noted that unlike the Indians, the Arabs did not have any mental blocks about sourcing ‘foreign’ knowledge; au contraire they were even instrumental in the link up of the Indian originated decimal system with western mathematics.) and thus enabled her onward return passage into Europe, via the Moroccan territories of Spain. The point to be noted here is that the Arabs of the 1st Millennium were the torch-bearers responsible for re-igniting the fire of (Hellenic) civilization in Europe; and had it not been for them, the Dark Ages of Europe may have continued for many more centuries. [Western historians as well as the Arab-Islamists should pause here and attempt a review of the recently completed Millennium].==>The re-entry of Hellenic culture into Europe saw the phase out of the Dark Ages.-The Renaissance (renewal/enlightenment) phase in European history had set in and the progress of humanity continued unabated ever since./ Christianity was forced into ‘Reformation’ and its control and influence gradually declined;-the process continues./
However this period in history was a negative phase for the Arabs who had carried the torch of Hellenism and passed it on to the West. Arab civilization and culture gradually went into a regressive state, a tail-spin from which they are yet to emerge. Drawing parallels to the Europe of the 1st Millennium, it can be said that Arab nations are presently in their own dark ages; ----and needless to say, they must emerge from this darkness and integrate themselves with the rest of human civilization; -- and in view of the exponential rate of progress in the rest of the world, the earlier the better! (See Appendix-II below: Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns). How will they achieve this process of intellectual self-transformation, metamorphosis?? Will history repeat itself, and if so how will it play out? Will Hellenism be relevant to the Renaissance of the Arab world, or for that matter to the westernization of any oriental country? Will the nation states take action,-suo moto,- to initiate the process? Can the thinkers of the west offer some guidance? Can the intellectuals of the Arab world rise to meet the challenge of history?------ The indications are positive;- the Crown Prince of Dubai,-Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Al-Maktoum has already raised a call for reform in the Arab world At a recent seminar held in Dubai, as reported in the Saudi newspaper, Arab News, dt.6-Jan-2005, the Sheikh presented the choice before the Arab world as “Change or be changed” [the report by Arab News Managing Editor,- Mr.Khaled Almaeena, titled ‘Engaging the Antagonists of Change’ is indicative of the fresh winds blowing through the Arab world.]
Let me end this digression with a criticism of the catch phrase “Clash of Civilizations”- a concept that emerged into the meme space, post 9/11, and is being tossed about by Arab as well as Western writers. The purpose of this concept is to indicate that Arab-Islamist culture is at odds with western culture and values; ----that they are mutually exclusive value systems, ---or as Rudyard Kipling said: “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet”. (Kipling was primarily referring to India and China and not to the Arabs). And in the background of my previous sections on history and the cyclic phases of regional civilizations, I wish to emphasise and highlight that this phrase is a mis-concept, a semantic hyperbole and should be avoided to prevent needless confusions and aggravation of the situation.---- Certainly there are many issues at stake between nation states involved and there is of course a clash of values between the three Semitic religions per se.-----However it is ridiculous to elevate this into “Clash of Civilsations”. The term Civilisation cannot be limited to the nation states and the three religions involved; and as I have clearly stated herein, the core values of Western Civilisation are sourced from Hellenism, and not the religion which happened to be in Rome during her downward phase.
The Arabs were once torch-bearers of Hellenism and carried the same to the West when it was badly needed there;--History has come full circle!. Who will now carry the torch to the Arabs in their time of need today!?.
In conclusion humanity can rest assured that Western Civilisation will continue on its forward march, in the logical direction;-the path of continual progress and betterment of human existence. And as I have suggested at the inception of this article, developing countries and regional civilizations should upgrade themselves and integrate / synchronise their cultures in tandem with the rest of humanity. Procrastination, delay, hesitation and other attempts to evade reality will be counter-productive; and needless to say time is not on your side;- time has become a limited commodity!,- as I shall attempt to explain in the following section(Appendix II) on the urgency for modernisation and for catching up with Civilisation.
Appendix-1I –Kurzweil’s Law and the future of the 3rd World
(An integral part of my message)
Necessity & Urgency for Westernisation / Revaluation
Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating (economic) Returns and your Sense of Time.
My message as highlighted and elaborated upon in the preceding paragraphs has an urgency to it, and this supplements my call for modernization / westernization of the 3rd World. Note this supplementary reason is based on science and its methodology of data collection and presentation, logic, reason, deduction, induction, experimentation and proofs. (needless to emphasise, scientific methodology is a core component of Western civilization.). Here again you will have to decide,-on your own,- whether I am needlessly pressurizing you or hastening you with non-existent and imaginary or ephemeral threats OR whether I’am justified in the scenario being presented to youè
Allow me to introduce you to Ray Kurzweil and his thesis titled: “Law of Accelerating Returns” ; - as sourced from the extensive articles available on-line at KurzweilAI.Net (in my opinion the best web resource for keeping oneself up-to-date on science & technology) and from his magnum opus: “When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence: The Age of Spiritual Machines” (spiritual=thinking) (a modern day classic in technology futures).
Mr. Ray Kurzweil (RK) is an US based scientist, engineer, inventor and entrepreneur and also a prolific futurist thinker; I would like to describe him as a Philosopher of Science & Technology. Though relatively unknown even in the technologically sophisticated US, the situation is about to change. Ray’s thesis will have to be factored into any discussion or study on the future of nations, societies and is even relevant to the individual. RK’s observations on technology trends since the dawn of civilization, and his projections of the near future, are revolutionary in every sense of the word; and further it supplements and extends the Darwinian Theory of (biological) Evolution; and also draws upon and links up with Einsteinian concepts of time (acceleration etc!), thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics etc. [I propose to write a separate article on Ray Kurzweil and his sweeping ideas; Link will be provided here]. (what follows is a summarization of his thesis on the increasing pace of technological progress.).
Ray Kurzweil’s thesis is built up on his observations of a certain recognizable pattern in the process of biological evolution; namely the increasing velocity of the evolutionary process; or stated inversely, the decreasing time interval between significant milestones of progress;-.(interpreted from the perspective of 20th Century astro-physics and current theories of the origin of the Universe) [Charles Darwin’s theory had focused on the micro-level mechanics of biological evolution; and of course he was not aware of DNA/RNA molecules and their role in evolution..].
Ray Kurzweil starts with the presentation of time lines and data from the origin of our (present) universe,- around 12 billion years ago to the formation of self-replicating DNA molecules [the source code of all terrestrial life] ,- around 2 billion years ago, and so on and on (->fast forward to the future->);---è--- è, onwards to mammals, early humans and ultimately homo sapiens sapiens,- the thinker, the tool maker around 100 thousand years ago;------ a very long period indeed;- until we reached our present biological status around 40 thousand years ago. The records of millennia clearly indicate the increasingly accelerating pace of biological evolution, - ab initio; with the rate accelerating further when humans appeared on the scene.
At this point Ray Kurzweil shifts gears / changes track with a sweeping observation, - breaking the narration of biological progress; -- but splices in another evolutionary phenomena,-the evolution of Technology.
To quote Ray: “Technology is the continuation of (bio) evolution by other means.”
Homo sapiens sapiens, the thinking primate started using rudimentary tools (sticks and stones, later improved by sharpening) around 50 thousand years ago, discovered fire, invented the wheel etc, etc----- and so on to the industrial revolution of the 19th Century. The rate of innovation has been rapid; or stated inversely, the time interval between major technological improvements has been decreasing dramatically. Technology (and its sibling, - science) has become an important an indispensable adjunct to human existence. Technological knowledge (information) is slated to become the greatest resource, the ultimate economic capital. There are far reaching implications in economics theories, commerce, finance & costs and industrial engineering; and by implication, in other social sciences also. The nascent fields of info-technology and artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology and nanotechnology stand poised on a path of convergence. Humanity is on the verge of another ‘industrial revolution’, - as Nanotechnology progresses and emerges from the research laboratories. Note that the previous industrial revolution (18-19th Century) occurred less than two centuries ago; and was a paradigm shift of unprecedented dimensions. The 20th century saw more developments, and at rates faster than all the preceding 10,000 years of recorded civilisation. -------Ray Kurzweil’s extrapolation and projections for the current (21st) century, including the next few decades are mind-boggling. He predicts that the 100 years of this 21st Century will see developments, equivalent to 20,000 years of the 20th Century;-the rates of progress will be exponential; the impact of these changes will become more pronounced within the coming decade(s) and there will be unprecedented changes in individual and social life styles. The casual, easy going ‘Oriental cultures’ of the 3rd world are in for a “future shock” (Alvin Toffler’s predictions, [1970’s (?)] are low voltage in comparison).
I trust that, by now,- you, gentle reader, would have appreciated the thrust of my argument;-----developing countries and 3rd World nations must wake up from their perpetual siestas; snap out of their inertia and lethargy and take stock of their position. And as I have emphasized in the above passage,- time is of essence; and it is critical and imperative that your sense of time and priorities need serious revision; -[British/Anglo-Indian fiction and biographical works of the colonial period are replete with anecdotes and comments about the oriental attitude towards time; with illustrations of late running trains and boats ; non attendance, lack of timing, and the lax style of work in government offices; the indifference, laziness and lethargy of the ‘natives’, and their lop-sided sense of priorities, the afternoon siestas, the inordinate time and money spent on rituals, ablutions etc.------; sad to say,- these behavior patterns are still omnipresent in administrative style of the big brother government/bureaucracy of India and similar countries ].
However I am hopeful and confident; - that you can still catch up with the rest of the world, but this requires a complete metamorphosis both at the level of individuals as well as institutions of the nations and cultures involved. It is of course likely that as an individual or, qua institution,- you may need guidance in your path to modernisation. To the extent that you can achieve this on your own,-excellent. And if you need to supplement your efforts, I suggest that you look at western think tanks as well as your own fellow citizens who emigrated long ago and have chosen to settle permanently in the US and other western countries.è
Role of the 3rd World’s Diaspora based in the US, UK & other Technologically Advanced Western Nations :
Fortunately for the 3rd World, they have an untapped resource for mordernisation, namely the diaspora of their respective nations; or more exactly the accumulated knowledge, attitudes and outlook of these individuals who left their homelands years ago and settled down in the US and other western countries. Many of them have reached high levels of achievements in their chosen areas; they have been there for many decades and some of them (probably a very few, even in the US) may have understood the reasons why, and the conditions under which,- they were able to blossom out; and perchance they are articulate enough to communicate their views. They are also likely to be familiar with and may be associated with institutions/think tanks etc of Western countries. And to the extent that such individuals exist and are willing;- they can be requested to assist in the process of westernization; either directly or by liaison with the organizations such as the think tanks mentioned below. However the great majority of the diaspora can also help by talking to their friends and relatives, by comparing and contrasting the social and economic policies and life-styles of their chosen homeland and the place of their origins. [Breaking News: the Indian diaspora was present in strength at a govt. sponsored meeting held in Bombay recently ( 2ndweek ofJan-2005);- the sponsors (politicians & bureaucrats ) hope to convince them to invest their hard earned wealth in their homeland; for altruistic and patriotic reasons; My advise: Do not be carried away by the sugary words of the politicians, the so-called incentives they dangle before you, and their attempts to “honour” you. Think deeply, exercise due diligence and ensure the safety of your investment.]
Role of Western Intellectuals/Think Tanks
The problems currently besetting the 3rd World are multifaceted; and may appear insoluble and mind-boggling to certain categories and levels of thought. However from the perspective of higher levels of philosophy; solutions do exist and are well within our reach. Applied Philosophy is an evolving discipline,--probably unknown and unheard of, even in the intellectually savvy West. However individuals as well as Institutions/Think Tanks do exist not only in the West but also in our own countries. (Note that I am referring to non-government, private organizations and certainly NOT to international white elephants such as the United Nations;-which Mr. George Bush Jr. had once correctly labeled as an increasingly irrelevant/defunct non-entity; -an effete organization.) Such privately funded institutions will probably have an increasingly important role to play in the modernisation/westernization of the 3rd world. Many of them have specific and narrow agenda with limited perspective; but I would like to draw your attention to the following two private foundations, which do have a vision and an encompassing long-term philosophy.
The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) [founded by the late philosopher-novelist, Ms.Ayn Rand (1905-1982) and currently managed/funded by her legal estate], is one such Think Tank which has a very clear and focused understanding on the socio-political and economic issues of 3rd world development. The ARI is presently managed by a team of US based intellectuals headed by Dr.Leonard Peikoff, a long time associate of the late philosopher. However as far as I understand, the ARI’s current focus is on US related national/geo-political issues; nevertheless extending the perspective for applications related to the overall development of the 3rd World is within the realm of possibility. In this context I would like to mention another long time associate of Rand; -Mr. Alan Greenspan (he is not connected with ARI), Chairman of the US Federal Reserve;- the Zeus presiding at the Mt.Olympus of the US economy. Mr. Greenspan has probably been doing an excellent job of monitoring and controlling the parameters of the US economy;- however he owes me (and maybe others) an explanation as to why, economic/fiscal controls are still required in the US in spite of his own unbroken tenure, spanning almost three decades at the Fed, and his involvement in the high level policy decisions of successive US Presidencies;-. And at a more personal level, what action has he taken (during his long and unprecedented tenure) to do away with “fiduciary issue” (paper currency) and re-introduce the gold standard for the US Dollar;-an essential and critical feature of any free economy, as brilliantly expounded in his 1967 essay titled “Gold and Economic Freedom”, [originally included in Ayn Rand’s non-fiction collection = ‘Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal’,-which I had first read in the early 1980’s, around the time he was appointed as Chairman of the Fed;----,a quarter century has since passed by !!][Greenspan’s essay is available online;-courtesy USA Gold (web-site of Centennial Precious Metals.Inc).//
I also wish to draw your attention to the Extropy Institute (ExI), founded by Dr.Max More PhD,- British-American philosopher, business & technology consultant, futurist and a prolific writer and probably one of the leading thinkers of and for this new age of Science & Technology. ExI has an all encompassing vision of the future, and their Mission statement offers a comprehensive and holistic focus on solutions. As stated on the home page of their web-site,-ExI presents itself as a world wide incubator for solutions to the problems besetting humanity from the perspective of the future. To quote further from their mission statement, (authored by Dr. Max More):
“We need not remain slaves to our cultural and evolutionary history. For centuries, cultures around the world saw human slavery as part of the natural order, until they were shown irrefutably otherwise. Likewise today, many of us passively accept or stridently defend the inevitability of human stupidity, malice, conflict, aging, and death.--WHY DO WE NEED THESE SOLUTIONS? ------Human beings achieved "civilization" thousands of years ago. Yet we have not shaken off the ancient tyrannies that haunt the human condition. We suffer physical and emotional sicknesses ending in decrepitude and death. The primitive parts of our brain spur us to envy, to hate, to despair, and to kill. Our philosophies and our religions attempt to express our highest values, yet we use them to oppress and control. We use them to crush the world's complexity into a simplicity that we can clutch like a security blanket for the human condition.
Human ingenuity has created many institutions and technologies to address these problems. Yet we still have to address our human nature that causes us to fear new technologies. The ever-changing world of the future brings us both anxiety and hope. New technologies that can cure diseases and improve the human condition are always looked on with suspicion and fear when they first arrive. We need to carefully evaluate and use new technologies for their usefulness and not reject them too quickly because they are new and different”.
I had the privilege of discovering (thanks to the internet) ExI around one year ago, and I’am one of those who look forward to the proactive role of the ExI for the solutions to the problems of the economic development in the 3rd World. ExI advocates a multi-disciplinary approach in addressing social issues and this is also reflected in the intellectual and professional credentials of the ExI Directors and Advisors, which includes Mr.Ray Kurzweil, the futurist referred to in my earlier passage; also Mr.Jose Cordeiro of Venezuela.[Mr. Jose is an engineer/businessman associated with the petroleum industry and is also well connected with international bodies such as the Club of Rome, UN and is a consultant to various global corporations etc. He is well versed on 3rd World issues.]
Private, non-government Think Tanks, such as mentioned the above can be expected to emerge as alternatives to the United Nations, which has unfortunately devolved into an extension of the bloated bureaucracies of the nation states. Needless to add, the UN’s vision of human development is a mixture of Christian altruism and Keynesian/socialist models of economic progress;- nothing can be expected from such an organization.
And apart from US based international organizations such as ARI and ExI, I would like to mention the Liberty Institute of India, founded by Mr.Barun Mitra and other forward looking Indian thinkers, and based in New Delhi; -they have been doing excellent work in spreading awareness of free-enterprise, privatisation, and related matters. Another Indian organization which attempted to promote an open economy was the “Forum for Free Enterprise”, founded by the late Mr.Nani Palkhiwala of Bombay. Another staunch proponent of economic freedom was Mr.Russi Mody, former chairman of Tata Iron & Steel Ltd; and as mentioned earlier, India once had a Swatantra (Freedom) party, which unsuccessfully tried to stem the encroachments of the collectivists. Such in-house organizations and individuals have the potential to integrate themselves into a creative force. / ----- Similar organizations may exist, or should be created to enable the process of modernisation,- at the level of all nation states, //
As my readers will have noted, my article is loaded with issues, examples and analogies specific to India; the obvious reason being my personal knowledge and familiarity with my home-land. However the fundamental theme of my message is valid to all individuals and cultures of 3rd world nations;-irrespective of the size or geographic location of your country. India is probably better off in certain areas than some other 3rd World countries; however the urgency to modernise and integrate with the onward march of Civilisation is common to all of you, wherever you are; and whatever be the level of your economic progress! // Let me end this rather long essay with a personal note anticipating certain types of questions and valid objections that can be raised:
Objections, based on objective facts and/or subjective angst,- against the theme of my above article;- to the following effects can be expected, and I shall attempt to counter, preempt the same to avoid needless wastage of cognitive resources.
1. You will point out that Greek/Roman culture (as personified by Aristotle, Plato, Socrates etal) is not 100% in house; and that they absorbed and amalgamated concepts and ideas from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, India, China etc.-True and quite possible!: Great civilizations grow and evolve by absorbing, amalgamating, and cross fertilization of ideas and values; and this is exactly where India has missed out. Of course you have always been eager to use the products of western science and technology; without understanding the philosophy and the motivations that resulted in the product; /
2. Indians will point out that Indian cultural memes and words are entering the West and the English dictionary in droves. Indian curry, masala, and chutney are becoming raves in London and New York. And above all Bollywood and Indian fashions are taking the west by storm. Indian engineers and scientists are achievers par excellence in USA- yes, - all that is good!, - maybe good for the west ,- and will NOT necessarily benefit the impoverished citizens of India.!
3. Indians will also point out that (with a touch of haughtiness and national chauvinism) that they are so valuable that US business is coming here in search of manpower- (BPO-business process outsourcing) –creating islands of prosperity in cities such as Bangalore , Hyderabad and Bombay. Think twice before you relax and assume that in due course these islands of prosperity will expand and the whole nation will reach higher levels of prosperity. Understand that such phenomena are only minor ripples in the development wave; /
4. And of course there could also be the personally directed criticism about my credentials to understand or comment about the situation in India and other countries;- true,- I have been abroad for the last 8 years with brief annual visits to India;-----but the initial 44 years of my life were spent entirely in India;:-- born in a typical middle-class family of Kerala;- early education in Bangalore and Allahabad (UP) as my Father was a GOI employee subject to periodical transfers;- high school and college years in Trivandrum, -capital of Kerala state and hotbed of politics of the leftist variety. [during these years in Trivandrum, academic studies (mathematics, physics etc) were combined with a personal, private and passionate pursuit of almost the entire spectrum of human knowledge;-- the process continues even today ];- a subsequent career/employment spanning 30 years in the areas of Accounts and Finance with private sector companies in India. (Bangalore, Madras, Cochin etc), the recent eight years being with a Gulf based IT Company;---yes I do know India and its psyche as well as,- if not better than all the self-appointed leaders of the Indian masses and the custodians of culture and tradition;- and the perspective from abroad is clearer.! (For more biographical details readers can visit my web-site later; as I write up my memoirs and perchance elaborate further on matters touched upon in the above passages.)
Thanks and Regards,
And Wishing You,- Gentle Reader, - a Happy and Prosperous Future.!
D. Sasy Kumar is a thinker profoundly influenced by the ideas of the Objectivist and Extropian schools of thought. You can visit Mr. Kumar's website, Science & Technology Futures, at http://www.scitechfuture.com, and contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA's Statement
Visit TRA's Principal Index, a convenient way of navigating throughout the issues of the magazine. Click here.