RMF Summary: Week of October 24 - 30, 2011

Toward the end of this post is a riveting discussion on "free enterprise". There is a Dharmic approach to this enterprise that is original to India, appears to be organic in the way it came up, is pro-environment, and provides a viable (almost surely better) alternative to the "right wing or left-wing" economic models employed in the west.

October 24
{Breaking India} Vishal Mangalwadi: India’s Pat Robertson
Excerpted with permission from Malhotra, Rajiv and Aravindan Neelakandan, "Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines," Amaryllis...

October 25
Inculturation - Christuva Brahmana Seva Samithy
http://thammayya.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/christuva-brahmana-seva-samithy/ Recently read this blog.Another example of Inculturation as explained in "Breaking...

October 25
Similar books or those against which BEING DIFFERENT argues
Similar books or those against which BEING DIFFERENT argues Below is a list of comparable titles in this area, of varying degrees of relevance and value. With...

October 26
Prof. Al Collins review of BEING DIFFERENT
Reviewer: Al Collins, Ph.D., former core faculty, California Institute of Integral Studies. In 1957, Mircea Elaide wrote that "Western culture will be in...

October 26
Dr. Shrinivas Tilak's review of BEING DIFFERENT
Reviewer: Shrinivas Tilak, PhD, historyof religions, an independent researcher based in Montreal In Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western...

October 26
My Q&A with an American journalist on BEING DIFFERENT
Foll. are the responses sent to a written set of questions from someone in American media. We shall wait to see what finally appears, but I felt that this Q&A...

October 27
My response to Steve Farmer w.r.t. Angana Chatterjee
Dear Steve Farmer, you have made a false allegation below that I offered 100K to CIIS to get rid of Angana C or anyone else from her job. The CIIS president...

October 27
Dr. Satya Narayan Das' review of BEING DIFFERENT
Reviewer: Dr. Satya Narayan Das, Founder of Jiva Institute of Vedic Studies, Vrindavan Many Indian spiritual leaders, lacking a profound knowledge of their own...

October 29
Bhakti Vikas Swami (ISKCON): review of BEING DIFFERENT
Reviewer: Bhakti Vikas Swami, Vaishnav scholar and ISKCON sannyasi, author of twelve books All Things Must Pass -- so sung George Harrison on a megahit album..

October 29
Jati economics and free enterprise
Rajiv Malhotra: Those who have read the works of Prof. Vaidyanathan (IIM-B) will appreciate that free market was not the invention of the west. It was european colonialism that closed what had previously been free trade and free markets. They did this to control markets and come pout on top. Jatis functioned without state controls, and were free to negotiate with each other according to norms mutually agreed upon. Many of them still do so today and are thriving as a result.

Chinese are making the claim that free enterprise is consistent with Confucian thought. Why are Indians scared of free market as some "American" thing? One day these folks might think of yoga as an imported american thing!!!

Of course, there are many kinds of free markets - those that plunder the ecosystem are not dharma compliant, for instance. But I do not subscribe to the view that a dharmic renaissance would be one that cannot take advantage of modern science, technology, free markets and so forth. Its an alternative approach to globalization, not an ideology of.

Pooja responds:
"" a dharmic renaissance would be one that cannot take
advantage of modern science, technology, free markets and so forth"

Isn't this more along the lines of christian teachings ? I have not seen it in any of the major Hindu "scriptures" as a part of Hindu/Sanatan Dharm. This is not what the Vedas say, neither does Bhagwatgita say thay anywhere, that I have read it. All of them have encouraged the use of science & technology for
prosperity, but have also listed the downside of over-dependence on them to the point of denying the importance of life. Over mining, over consumption, etc.
have been pointed out & the consequences too have been pointed out."

Rajiv's response: 
I disagree that Vedas are counter to science.

In fact, in my new book there is a lot written on why science and dharma never went to war against each other and why Christianity has had (and still has) war with science. The Biblical metaphysics (called Hebraic) has never been fully
reconciled with Hellenism (based on reason). But dharma has not rejected reason or science. After all, Indians have a great history of scientific achievements since ancient times - volumes have been written on this including Infinity
Foundation's own 20-vol series of which 8 are available now).

If you quoted me more than just the sentence above, I DO say that damaging the environment is against dharma. But your statement that somehow we must see modern science and Vedic civilization as opposites is not true." 

Rakesh adds:
"I believe, with the discovery of new world ( the real promised land ), the Scarcity driven Abrahamic top down control civilization has met a new geographical context that has led to an irreconciliable tension- between the economic reality of openness to immigration to improve capital productivity in a resource rich United States and the compulsion to minimize difference anxiety by converting all of them to Christianity

With a Hindu ethos, the need for a single ideology would be much lower and a multi party system would have resulted in the USA. Abrahamic religious ethos, is behind the stalemate today, where each party is the GOD and the other the Devil ?

I also believe war torn, land deprived Abrahamic ethos, extracted more out of resources, higher productivity- so my view is not one-sided But the tensions between Helenic democracy and Judeo Christian top down centralization characterizes American foriegn policy- even if Helenistic at
home, judeo christian in its preference for top down totalitarian regimes such as China compared to chaotic India ..."

Rajiv's comment:
I am glad Rakesh has been reading BEING DIFFERENT as he noted earlier, and making these points on difference. Indeed, BD gives the differences in dharmic approaches and these could be extrapolated further to develop a dharmic free market world - quite different than western capitalism.

Please note that enterprise in dharma is not "bonded" or "controlled", but free." 

Venkat responds:
"I am familiar with Prof. Vaidyanathan's immensely valuable work. But the traditional Indian system was not Free Market. I use the term Free Market in the same sense as its  proponents use: a system of commerce without state
intervention and a system that is only constrained by the agreement between the transacting parties. In a Free Market system anyone is free to start any business anywhere provided the consumers of the services they offer exist. JÄti
institutions transacting business was by no means Free Market since jÄtis were often debarred from competing with other jÄtis especially when such competition jeopardized livelihoods. If members of a certain jÄti or varána violated this norm and took up professions that were considered the preserve of another jÄti or varána then those individuals were excommunicated."

Rajiv response:
Your description of jatis is right. But non-competes were by mutual consent, not imposed from above. I spent time living with fishermen jatis in Nagapatinam district after the tsunami where we sponsored building a strategic youth hostel (by AIM For Seva) for victims' kids - in the shadow of the famous massive cathedral. I studied their fishing non-compete practices. Each jati specializes in some kind of fish and hence a certain kind of boat and net, and hence where they go to sea varies. They dont interfere with the fishing variety of the other jati.

This is not counter to free market. Call it cartel-like arrangement, perhaps. Or just a mutual agreement of non interference in order to specialize and maximize the total benefit rather than cutting each other. Ditto for marketing the fish. Men went to catch the fish while women were the marketers. They too had their territories and practices neatly divided.

I dont use free market in the limited western sense. To me the contrast is with top-down central authoritarian rule. it starts with roman imperialism combined with Christian Church being the top boss and controlling everything. In medeival
times the Knights Templar became one of the first multinational corps (though mostly in europe) controlling manufacturing and trade. This later served as a model for the British East India company, which CLOSED THE PRE-EXISTING FREE MARKET OCEAN TRADE. Thus the modern MNC was born.

I dont like the idea that free marketing be gifted as a western invention. i dont like people being told that its an either/or choice between dharma and modernity/science/free-market/prosperity.  The reason smritis are rewritten and kept separate from shruti (whereas in the abrahamic religions they got collapsed into one book) is precisely to allow dharma to evolve. So just as the chinese claim Confucian Modernity, I am working on ideas of Dharmic Modernity - not a contradictory term." 

George adds:
"... in the Anglo-Saxon model practiced by the USA and its European cronies, it is applicable only to people and places approved by them, and goods and services from other places deemed unfavorable to them are restricted on various pretexts like "child labor", "bad quality", "unauthorized nuclear research", whatever. The farming subsidy is also part of this restrictive trade practice. So, actually, the "free trade" mooted by the West is a despicable practice that should be rejected by dharmic people. Innovate, not imitate!
In India, I know for sure that the fishermen of the sea could fish only in the sea and the fishermen of the backwaters/rivers could fish only in their own territory. They don't even inter-marry. Though these inter-jati conventions were not written down, they were inviolable laws at a time. And in case of inter-jati disputes, the Raja was the mediating authority. However the Raja had no right in intra-jati disputes."
Carpentier adds:
"The Varnasrama code of trade and economic activity had its western medieval equivalents in the system of guilds, corporations and sodalities which were analogous to jatis and were linked by pacts of complementariness, solidarity and
interdependence which protected them against State encroachment. One of the first acts of the "Liberal" , banker-driven French revolution was to ban all those guilds and decide that every individual was solely submitted to the government and had not other means of association for self-protection. That was the origin of the modern capitalist or socialist state."

Rajiv response: 
"I agree with this assessment. The top-down events in Europe that "every individual was solely submitted to the government and had not other means of association for self-protection" is where dharma traditions have a chance to
make a difference in the type of free market that emerges.

According to Vaidyanathan's statistics, well over 90% of India's work force are self-employed, making it the largest number of individual entrepreneurs in the world. This is a very different type of free market than one with large scale corporate entities under heavy government regulations.

I am opposed to corruption, but I differentiate that from many aspects of the black economy where people simply dont want to fall under the gov't controlled economy - thats a free market indian style that has not yet succumbed to western style controls." 

Senthil provides a wonderful perspective:
"The context in which the term "Free" is interpreted is different w.r.t to western and indian (dharmic) scenario.

In west, the free market is the one where any one is free to enter and corner any amount of market share. The best performing entity (company) becomes the winner, and it doesnt matter, how many lost their business, or how many even lost their life.

In Indic Scenario, Free market is the one, where the constituents of the market are free to trade, without interference from external forces (economic & physical). Its NOT free for all. In part, i agree with KV, that there is no
free market in india.

Let us look at the name of different Vyshya community, and the region they came from. In Tamilnadu, the Choliya Chetty, Kongu Chetty, Pandya Chetty are indications, that they are the vyshyas for their respective dhesam. Within each dhesam, there are vyshyas for different products. For eg, among kongu chetty, there are Ennai Chettiyar (For trading Oil), Uppiliya Chettiyar (for trading Salt) are still existing.

Same with Devanga Chetty, Gomathi Chetty etc. I dont know much about North Indian Vyshyas. But my point, is that Many Vyshya communities are associated with one of the ancient 56 Dhesams, as we see from the examples i gave above.  (And this is the unexplored secret of Indian jathis)

So a king protects the vyshyas of his dhesam, from alien economic invasion. NOT just vyshyas, but protects every other jaathi in doing their profession without any interference or invasion from others. We need to see Indian Dharmic Free Market as localised, ethical Trading.

In one perspective, the term market in indic sense refers to a specific place where different products ( or particular product) are traded. We call it as "Sandhai" in tamil.

However, from the western perspective, a market is defined based on selling potential. ie, they see entire India as a market. ( Please correct me if i am wrong)

Next, the use of Gold as currency is another factor in the existence of Dharmic Free Market. No one can manipulate Gold, and its value is universal across the world. The British East India Company, tried to persuade Shivaji to accept
their currency, but Shivaji refused, and demanded they trade in gold.

The fallacy of Western Freemarket can be understood, if we study the way in  which British East India Company, monopolised different trade in India. For example, salt was produced in Gujarat and traded to Bengal. To control this, the
Company erected a 4000 KM long Live Fence, from orissa to Kashmir, which is called Great Hedge of India. This is still largely unknown among indian historians and intellectuals, and recently Rox Maxhom, from University of London Library, rediscovered about this and published a book in 2001. For more details, pls refer the wikipedia article.  " 

October 29
BEING DIFFERENT - Prof. V.V. Raman's review
This review is pending publication in print journals, and meanwhile Prof. Raman will be posting it online at various sites.

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