India! I dare you to be rich

Category: India

Wendy Doniger’s superb lecture on the ancient Indian tradition of sceptisicm: Charvaka, Lokayata, Brihaspati, Jayarāśi

As part of the efforts of RSS and Hindutva bigots to focus my attention on Doniger, I had a quick listen to her lecture on Indian scepticism.

The lecture is brilliance personified. Both a depth of knowledge and a flair for analysis and presentation. I must say, the RSS have made at least one useful contribution in their long and useless history – to spread knowledge and awareness of Doniger's work.

Title: "Skepticism and Materialism in Ancient India"

Abstract: "Throughout its long existence, Hinduism has held in creative suspension two movements so different as to merit the title of separate civilizations:  one is the dominant strain of ritual, of celebration of life, of family, of children, of sexuality, of food and poetry and sculpture and the worship of many gods; and the other is the strain of philosophy, of renunciation, of the drive to become released from the cycle of rebirth, through denial of the senses, of family life, of children.   These two paths lived more or less peacefully side by side as available options for most Hindus, until more passionate and monotheistic strains of devotional Hinduism, or bhakti, developed after the 6th century CE.   Later still, the philosophical strain inspired yet other forms of Hinduism, broader in their total scope but containing within them a narrower, less tolerant streak, as they came into contact with other civilizations:  Islam, from the 7th century CE (but more intensely from the 13th century); then the British Raj, from the 18th century; and then, in the late 20th century, America and a broader global, Internet world. The cumulative effect of these encounters in present-day India has been an unprecedented form of repression that threatens freedom of speech.  My talk will trace this historical development, in the hope of shedding light on the present crisis."


Though ancient shastras such as the Arthasastra and Kamasutra pay lip service to dharma, and criticize the so-called Materialists (Lokayatas or Carvakas), their central arguments show a total disregard for dharma and a striking congruence with Materialist assumptions. Are the Carvakas straw men that allow shastras (and other texts, such as the Jabali episode in Book 2 of the Ramayana) to express skeptical ideas without
taking responsibility for them?


From this lecture I learnt about Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa's Tattvopaplavasimha – the only complete sceptical work that survives today. Will try to read more about it as time permits.

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Thank you, RSS and Hindutva bigots (e.g. Rajiv Malhotra) for introducing me to Wendy Doniger: a great scholar of Hinduism

I'm sure people like Rajiv Malhotra and RSS zealots had no intention of spreading the writings of Wendy Doniger, but that's precisely what they've done.

I don't judge anyone without first understanding their position. When fools like RSS start smearing people, I am very suspicious, because I know how shallow is their intelligence and knowledge.

So I had no comment re: Wendy Doniger's actual work during the Doniger book pulping controversy – because I had NEVER EVEN HEARD OF HER! I'm not much into religion or history so unless you point out a particular issue, I'm likely to never even think about it. I don't go out of the way (as I did when I was much younger) to buy books on religion/ history.

Now that Hindutva fanatics have introduced me to her, however, I was curious. I've since then had a quick look through the early parts of The Hindus: An Alternative History. Yesterday, I also listened to Doniger's recent lecture uploaded by the University of Chicago.

It turns out that Doniger is good. Very good. She has spent nearly 50 years studying Hinduism and India, and has many interesting insights to offer – in an extremely scholarly and dispassionate way. 

I'm surprised why Hindutva fanatics are upset by her work, since she has a rather favourable attitude towards Hinduism. She acknowledges that Hinduism is remarkably tolerant. She also shows other religious (like Christianity and Islam) have failed to dent Hinduism; perhaps because it offers to its adherents a structured  flexibility that other religions can't, or don't. 

Very insightful and scholarly is how I'd rate Wendy Doniger.


She points out also how American IT-literate Hindus (who dominate the internet and Wikipedia) have started insisting over the last 10 years that only THEIR version of Hinduism is right. 


I commend her works to everyone. Read it, if only to open your eyes and get a different, scholarly perspective. When I read or hear Rajiv Malhotra I get a sense that I'm reading/listening to a bigot (which he is, without any doubt). When I read/ listen to Doniger, on the other hand, I get the sense that I'm going to learn something through rational discourse. With the use of subtle humour, her work is also extremely readable.

I appreciate the place in the talk where Doniger suggests that scholars of religion, like scientists, merely make their best attempt to interpret things – thereby being open to other opinions and interpretations. ("Our best guess is this"). Unlike them, however, deeply ignorant bigots like Malhotra see the world in only one way – and their way is often plain wrong. 

I've got too many other non-historical/religious priorities and so might not finish reading Doniger's work, but if you've bot a moment, do read her and let me know what you think.


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George Selgin’s brilliant summary of why central banking harms everyone, and why sound money requires free banking

Selgin is definitely one of the top 10 living economists today.

I have sporadically read his work here

But this talk he recently gave on July 2, 2014 in Las Vegas (uploaded on youtube only recently) is superlative. It helped me understand the issues far better, and gave me more reasons to back up the Sone Ki Chidiya agenda's policy on sound money. There is not one minute of this talk (and QA session) that can be missed. 

I predict that Selgin will be a lodestar for sound money in the coming decades. India should hire his services AT ONCE. His talk complements Larry White's talk that I heard in Melbourne a few years ago.

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Why Hindus do extremely well abroad but just can’t create conditions for prosperity within India

Hindus are a remarkable "community". They are the richest group in the USA and are fast becoming the richest in Australia. No one, not even the Jews, do as well as the Hindus.

The following statistics from the 2011 Census in Australia raise important issues:


In Australia, Indians (mostly Hindus) tend to actively participate in the workforce and also earn the highest. Just like in the USA, they are fast becoming the richest "community" here.

Muslims, mostly from the Middle East, have very poor economic outcomes in Australia, most being dependent on the welfare state. This mirrors the situation in the UK and Europe.

On the other hand, Hindus tend to do very poorly in India (India is a massively Third Word country), because instead of creating conditions for wealth generation, the politicians in India (like RSS/BJP) are busy inflaming divisions among people.

This has also meant that the brightest and most well educated Indians have tended to leave India, for countries like the USA and Australia. Looks like the fanatic (i.e. incompetent) Hindus tend to stay back in India, and compete in the race to the bottom with the socialists.

There is absolutely no doubt that India (mainly Hindu) can quickly become the world's richest country IF THE CONDITIONS OF WEALTH GENERATION – found in the West – can be replicated in India. For this, the RSS must go. The BJP must go. The socialists must go. 

Why do Hindus succeed? Because their religion is quite flexible – particularly among the upwardly mobile groups. It is extremely rare for Hindu families to take their religion seriously. Most people are happy to "worship" anything and everything, or ignore anything and everything. Almost no one goes to temples, and if they do, they do so largely to enjoy the quality of art and painting in the temples. 

There are no mad mullas or mad Popes in Hinduism. Hindus have so many "gurus" they can ignore those they don't like. 

This makes religion occupy a very SMALL place in the Hindu mind, leaving them free to focus on professional attainments.

The Muslims of the world (including in India) have a big issue in front of them. 

1) They take their religion too seriously. 

2) They are also afraid of "consequences" if they choose to become atheists or agnostics. (In Hinduism, with its VERY LONG HISTORY of atheism and agnosticism, people are often called "Hindu" even if they are atheists or agnostics, and no one really cares).

The Muslim world is driven by fear. The Hindu world is driven by pragmatism and hypocrisy. That makes Hindus quite flexible and adaptable, and perhaps explains their enormous success in the West.

Note that this is not to condone Hinduism's many crimes – such as the atrocities against persons of lower caste. And I am definitely NOT Hindu. I have NO religion. 

But the one take home lesson from this is perhaps this: IF YOU MUST HAVE A RELIGION, DON'T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY. 

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Raju’s STRONG words of caution re: the Swarajya magazine: “more of BJP and less of Rajaji”

I was very angry when – while talking about Raju, this article started promoting the Swarajya magazine.

This is a blatantly false pitch for the rotten BJP magazine Swarajya. SV Raju himself wrote to me the following:

"The organisers – particularly the CEO, the Chief Financial Officer and the Publisher and Chief Digital Officer of Swarajya 2.are staunch BJP loyalists."Swarajya 2.0" will essentially be more of BJP and less of Rajaji."

Raju may have been nice (as a person) to these people but he would never associate with BJP-wallahs.

And now these BJP-wallahs want to usurp Raju's legacy!

I did not share the precise words earlier, but now I'm putting them out in the public domain as a clear warning to those who support the BJP mouthpiece, Swarajya.

I would not have embarrassed Raju by putting this out in his lifetime, but now that he is no longer there, his FORTHRIGHT classification of Swarajya as "more of BJP and less of Rajaji" – to his confidants – should ring clear in everyone's ears.


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My Wikipedia entry on SV Raju, and request for information to add to the entry

Naozer Aga – who worked for 30 years with Raju, has written: "Raju believed in self less service to the Indian Liberal cause, without the expectation of any personal reward. As a tribute to his no nonsense working approach, all I will say is that he lived respected and died regretted."

I think it is our bounden duty to document Raju's contributions to Indian liberalism.

I have begun a Wikipedia entry on Raju: I invite you either directly update the entry or to send me more details so I can update it. 

Current contents:

Raju’s lifetime contributions to Indian liberalism[edit]

SV Raju (1933-19 May 2015) was hired by C. Rajagopalachari, the former Governor General of India and retired Chief Minister of Madras, on 16 December 1959 as the Office Secretary of Swatantra Party, which was launched on 1 August 1959. It took Raju one year to shed his socialism and become a member of the party – of which he remained a member till the end of his life.

When Swatantra Party faded away, he decided to focus his energy on the Freedom First magazine which had been started in 1953 by the Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom, which was established by Minoo Masani in Mumbai.

In 1996 the Maharashtra unit of the Swatantra Party, led by Raju and its general secretary, LR Sampat, decide to revive the Swatantra Party. To register it again and reclaim the party symbol, the star, they approached the Election Commission. But Indian law demands that all parties swears allegiance to socialism, in accordance with a 1989 amendment of India’s Representation of People’s Act. They refused and, instead, filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging this provision. Unfortunately, the High Court is yet to have even a single hearing on their petition. Both Sampat and Raju have since passed away.

Raju took Freedom First through thick and thin, including raising funds for its continuation in print, and funds for digitization of the magazine since its inception. He was also the President of the Indian Liberal Group and, upon its dissolution, became co-Director or LiberalsIndia for Good Governance.

He wrote numerous books, in addition to editing and publishing Freedom First. He had a no-nonsense approach to work. As close colleague Naozer Aga, who worked with him for thirty years, wrote: “He lived respected and died regretted”.

Works of SV Raju[edit]

Documents about SV Raju[edit]

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