Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Basic Questions Re-addressed

 Surendran had raised 'some questions to create clarity at this juncture' which are given below. These had appeared on this blog in a post dated 4th June containing notes by many including Surendran. I had been thinking since then that this line of dialogue needs to be pursued parallel to the questions of LJA strategy in the wake of 2014 General Elections. So I am writing my understanding of these under each question

0 Surendran :  Is there a hidden adherence to "science" in the formulation of lokavidya thought?
    Sunil : Not to my understanding. In fact as it has happened, it is the opposite of this. It was a search for an appropriate idiom describing our emerging view ( in Farmers' Movement and in PPST Movement) during the 1980s and early 1990s. We traversed through terms like Kisan Vigyan, Nari Vidya, Agaria Vidya, Swadeshi Vigyan to arrive at Lokavidya  in the beginning months of 1995. Some of us may remember the meeting in the Sarva Sewa Sangh Hall, Rajghat, Varanasi in the summer of 1995 called on a note entitled 'Lokavidya Pratishtha Prayas'. This entire effort was with the understanding that Science has been an equal companion of Imperialism in enslaving and maiming non-European civilizations. All of us came from Science background and the appearance of  ' a hidden adherence to Science' should be because of our inability to transcend that condition. And one cannot discern any such hidden or apparent adherence in many of us who do not come with such backgrounds. There are surely such people in Vidya Ashram and in Lokavidya Jan Andolan. What is understood by lokavidya depends more on what is done with it and how it gets elaborated from time to time and less on how it was formulated historically or even conceptually.

1. Surendran : Knowledge is a "species characteristic" ... seems to be is a strictly modern scientific description/view.
Sunil : It is, in my view too, a modern view alright, but need not be 'scientific'. It is modern to the extent it presents itself to analytical dissection but transcends modernity as it lays the basis for the understanding that everybody is knowledgeable and thereof to the possibility of a new political imagination that may help transcend the 'modern'.

2. Surendran : In what sense is science of networks and communication technology NOT science?
Sunil : This seems to do as much with naming as with conceptual mapping. And we may find that the naming part in this case is much more interesting and significant than the conceptual interrelationships, at least to start with. Today we have an engineer (software) who need not know any physics. And he is not called engineer by courtesy or for promotion, for he commands greater respect in society than other engineers. There is a race to be good at software, knowledge management and social media all of which require understanding and working with networks and theory of networks but presuppose no physics, no chemistry and so on.  However I must say that this entire phenomenon has just started so all views are views in situ.

3. Surendran : Is the description of science being 'Asuri' replaceable with something without a racial / hindu mythological connotation?
Sunil : We have already done it with 'shaitan' or ' anti-human' at different places. In fact stopped using 'asuri' after an initial stretch. Also when we used 'shaitan' we were not conscious of its religious/mythological connotation. So we have effectively stayed with anti-human for want of a more expressive positive term. The idea of धरती माँ may provide a good way of developing that new discourse where such things can be said in more telling and appropriate ways. It has made its political entry, courtesy Bolivia. We are yet to deliberate on it more comprehensively.

4. Surendran :  What is really the idea of knowledge not returning to Lokavidya, how does something return? Is it meant to denote givjng back, recreating the newer form etc. where is the creativity taking place to achieve that? And return, how slowly, how fast? Knowing this seems to be knowing all!
Sunil : While discussing knowledge returning to lokavidya one may pay attention to various aspects of knowledge under discussion, namely pieces of knowledge (information, skills, techniques etc.), technology, logic, etc. When we say science does not return to lokavidya we may mean that it does not become part of people's lives to the extent technology and logic refuse to undergo this transition. Pieces of knowledge are not the issue, they are anyway incorporated by people in their lives, some times willfully and some times under compulsions, irrespective of where they come from. It is not meant to denote giving back, but recreating in newer forms I suppose is one of the most welcome ways in which it can happen. The creativity for doing this is I guess what is called innovation, particularly in the spheres of activity of the lokavidya samaj.

5. Surendran : Will the farmer of the plain ( lokavidyadhar samaj) consider the tribal slash/burn cultivators equal in knowledge? Similar question in other hierarchies regarding some functions with defining characteristics of 'science'.
Sunil : I think they would, provided the universe of discourse, the socio-political milieu is not disorienting. The meaning of the second sentence is not clear.

6. Surendran : The characterization of "todays struggles are being carried out by people NOT educated in Universities, ( as opposed to student and women's movements ...) and that calling for the lokavidya perspective - is this division of the history of struggles accurate or convenient or motivated by different considerations?
more later.
Sunil : This division of the history of struggles is from an understanding of who has gained and who has lost with the emergence of the new politics, science and commerce in the preceding centuries beginning in Europe and spreading all over the globe. Therefore such division of struggles is expected to provide the context for a politics that may liberate the losers from the condition they are in.

Sunil Sahasrabudhey

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