Monday, July 13, 2020

Life without conditions: Non realisable dream

Life without conditions: Non realisable dream
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Lalit K Kaul

When parameters like truth, justice, morality, ethics, extravagance, falsehood etcetera are brought in, then no ‘life’ is without conditions because these define the boundaries of freedom that are not to be violated. These may be defined by a society living in inaccessible regions of Amazon forests or desert peaks of Ladakh; that is, the societies that have total disconnect with the modern world and its belief and value system. Even if there are no institutionalised definitions of all the said parameters, yet within every human being there is something that without conscious control allows or disallows him/her a particular type of conduct. That ‘something’ is conscience which is undeniably a very dominant attribute of an individual and which differentiates one from the other in terms of external conduct. This conscience of a being (the slave) is under nobody’s command and hence free to direct the slave without being restricted by any conditions. So, within a barricaded human being there is this attribute with unrestricted freedom.
In any case, the concepts of truth & falsehood, right & wrong, ethical & unethical, etcetera have / can have no separate and independent identity (recognition). If they don’t merge with the thought and deeds of an individual, they cease to exist. Their cognisance is derived from speech/act/conduct and all kinds of civic sense of an individual (who would never think that whatever he/she did was untruthful, unethical and/or wrong), but- as always- the Judge is a rank outsider. So, whether a particular act of an individual- under certain circumstances- is ethical or unethical, the outside world decides and thereby even the ‘free conscience’ of an individual is subjugated. So, when even the internal world of a human being is subject to the scrutiny of the ever dominating external world, the life ‘ordinary’ or ‘extra ordinary’ is not without conditions.
One cannot break free from the world, but one can find freedom within the externally imposed constraints like a horse which is restricted to move in a straight line due to blinkers. The problem is not that life is not without conditions, it is that even the limited freedom to act of their own accord, an extraordinary huge mass of people have been denied by one stroke of pen that declared them backward, ignorant and superstitious while declaring their knowledge base as unscientific.        

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Fifteen annas

Fifteen annas
Abinash Jha has recently written on what the state of ordinary life has become in the current extraordinary times. The piece begins with a general definition of ordinary life, which Lokvidya jana-andolan has adopted as the basis of their work. The definition is this – ordinary life is life without any condition. It is outside the domain of institutional exchange of science, technology, religion and philosophy. Falsehood, extravaganza and immorality are also part of that life. But it can recognize truth, morality, justice, wisdom etc.
Abinash Jha writes that, regardless of the importance given to it by history, ordinary life has always been there. Political systems, technologies, religions have come and passed, but ordinary life has flown, almost unnoticed, at its own pace. That life is under threat today. An order or system that usurps nature's wealth is spreading to all corners of the globe. Consequently, endless conditions are imposed on ordinary life, even as it struggles to stay ordinary. As the space for ordinary life keeps shrinking, now it is pushed to the verge of extinction.
In response to this persistent trend, some suggest that one has to let go of what is gone. After all, in today's world it is not possible to survive without the system. If nature is in turmoil, it is better to focus on making decent provision for one’s own survival rather than trying to repair all that is damaged. If water and air are poisoned, purify as much as you need. Of course that is not possible for everyone. So those who remain outside the system are destined to perish.
There are those who reject and oppose this approach. But the point is: one cannot expect a strong pushback to emerge from those who suffer perpetual contraction after being pushed away from ordinary life.
Yet there exists a source of potential strength. A core tenet of ordinary life – in the absence of external pressure – is its reliance on a direct understanding with nature. This life seeks to sustain the environment out of the sheer compulsion to sustain itself, and not from any ideological motive. It induces one to plant saplings after cutting down trees, to indulge in lazy talk and to lament the waste of time, to clash with a neighbour and to stand by the same neighbour’s side in calamity - without any humanitarian inspiration. This experience has a strength and vitality of its own.
The privilege of direct touch and feel keeps people happy. What one experiences from the practice of an ideology or value system – no matter how lofty that may be – is like the touch of a hand shaken with gloves on. Ordinary life without an agenda gets a direct taste of life.
That taste, and the craving for it, lingers even after the space for ordinary life shrinks in many ways. When a new order comes into being, people automatically seek out cracks and loopholes to carry on with their normal business. Most people on this planet still have this desire for ordinary life.
Rabindranath Tagore had expressed the glory of this ordinary life thus: “People are divided into two classes – fifteen-annas and the rest one-anna. The fifteen-annas part is calm; the one-anna is restless. The former is useless; the latter has a purpose. Atmospheric air consists mostly of stable and calm nitrogen; oxygen is only a small part of it. If the proportions are reversed, the world would burn to ashes. Likewise, once a section of the fifteen-annas seeks to become as restless and useful in worldly matters as the one-anna, there can be no peace. People would have to submit to their fate and get ready to be burnt to ashes. (“Fifteen-annas”, Bangadarshan, February 1903.)
It is noteworthy that Tagore did not eulogize the life lived by the fifteen-annas as an expression of high ideal or noble thought. Pleading in favour of the fifteen-annas he admits in the same article, "We ... play with friends for no reason, talk to relatives without purpose, then stage a son’s wedding with much pomp and put him in an office, and thereafter disappear from the world without leaving any trace of name or fame – we are part of the million forms in the dance of this vast life; its flow glistens with our million little laughter; it bustles with our little talks and laments.” (ibid)
A life bound by thousands of conditions can no longer be ordinary. Ordinary life can be lived as long as the general needs are freely met in a natural environment. A system driven by the motive of achieving boundless progress and profit will invariably put conditions on people, especially those belonging to the fifteen-annas, under various situations. That is what is happening all over the world now.
This conditioned state of life is not always a matter of compulsion. People do accept conditions voluntarily. The lure of a benefit or the pursuit of a happy dream often induces them to sacrifice freedom knowingly. But their inner movements, whether good or bad, can never be artificial. The natural tendency of a normal human being is away from living in a cage of imposed conditions. Even the happiness in pursuit of which a person moves away from ordinary life may seem – in hindsight – quite hollow.
The human affinity for freedom and direct contact may be a source of sustenance in the face of threat to ordinary life.
Paramesh Goswami (a friend of Manthan Samayiki,  Kolkata)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

सहज जीवन

यह पोस्ट फिर से प्रकाशित कर रहे हैं . नीचे से दूसरे पैरा में दिया लाल रंग का वाक्य पिछले पोस्ट में न जाने कैसे छूट गया था. अंग्रेजी वाला ठीक है.

सहज जीवन
Ordinary Life  पर चल रही यह बहस अगर हिंदी में चलाना हो तो ‘सामान्य जीवन’ की जगह हमारी राय में ‘सहज जीवन’ शब्द का प्रयोग करना अधिक सही होगा. ‘सहज’ शब्द जीवन के प्राकृतिक रूप के निकट ले जाता है और जीवन के स्व-भाव को समझने में मददगार हो सकता है. हमारे देश में सहज पर तो दार्शनिक चिंतन की एक लम्बी परंपरा भी है. किसी भी काल में सहज जीवन अथवा सरल जीवन जीने का प्रयास करना यानि जीवन के स्व-भाव को हासिल करना माना गया है, और यह किसी तपस्या से कम नहीं है. यह मुक्तिदायी जीवन है.   
एक बार की बात है हम कुछ महिलाओं से मिलकर बच्चों के पालन-पोषण पर बात कर रहे थे तब किसी महिला ने कहा “बच्चों को पाला नहीं जाता, वे पलते हैं ”. यह कथन ‘सहज जीवन’ के कुछ पक्षों को उजागर करता-सा मालूम  पड़ता है. सहज शब्द के अर्थ में सामूहिकता, साथ-साथ, सहित, मिलकर, सहोदर, पैदा होना शामिल है. सहज होना यानि अपने मूल रूप अथवा मूल स्वभाव पर आना है. मनुष्य को अपने जीवन को सहज बनाना यानि उसे अधिकाधिक सुविधापूर्ण बनाना नहीं है और न उसकी सक्रियता को घटाना. यह एक ऐसा जीवन है जो सहजीवन और सहअस्तित्व को आत्मसात करता है.
हमारे यहाँ कबीर के समय सहजिया पंथ का प्रभाव व्याप्त था. सहजिया, सहज पंथ, सहजधारी, सहजयान, सहज समाधी, सहज ध्यान आदि की लम्बी परंपरा है. हजारी प्रसाद के अनुसार सहज साधना में ध्यान की अवस्था मन्त्र, आसन और तंत्र साधना के बिना भी हासिल होती है. ‘सहज जीवन’ साधन, धन, तकनीकी, विचारधारा पर निर्भर नहीं है. 
सहज बुद्धि का अर्थ है सभी जीवधारियों में प्रकृति से प्राप्त वह चेतना जिससे वे कुछ करने के लिए प्रेरित होते हैं और सही-गलत का बोध कर पाते हैं. सहज का आग्रह यह नैतिक शक्तियों को अर्जित करने का मार्ग रहा है. सीता का अशोक वन में घास की पाती हाथ में लेकर रावण का मुकाबला करने की कथा सहज का आग्रह है. गांधीजी द्वारा सीता का खादी पहनने का उदहारण सहज होने का आग्रह है. सहज यानि सादगी नहीं है, बल्कि न्यायपूर्ण होने का आग्रह है.
समाज का नेतृत्व करने वालों को सहज होना, उनके विचारों को सहज होना, उनके तरीके सहज होना यह एक अनिवार्य गुण साबित हुआ है. कला की गुणवत्ता में सहज एक कसौटी रही है. माताओं का सहज होना बच्चों के सर्वांगीण विकास का आधार है. यह गौर करने की बात है कि इन सभी क्रियाओं में नेतृत्व और लोगों के बीच या कलाकार और रसिक के बीच या माँ और बच्चों में सम्प्रेषण हो पाए यह ‘सहज’ को अंगीकार करने का कारण नहीं है. इनके बीच ऊँच-नीच का सम्बन्ध नहीं है बल्कि एक ही हो जाने का प्रयास है. कला दार्शनिक नीहार रंजन राय के अनुसार सृजनकारी नेतृत्व या कलाकार जो विचार और कार्य सामने लाते हैं, उन्हें सामान्यत: समाज के अधिकांश स्त्री-पुरुष पहले से जानते हैं.
समाज में बदलती परिस्थितियां मनुष्योचित कार्य के मार्ग में तरह-तरह के भ्रम जाल फैलाती हैं. जैसे आज तकनीकी आधारित जीवन के चलते यह मान्यता हो गई है कि इनके बिना कैसे जिया जा सकता है? सहज कला और सहज साहित्य इन जैसे भ्रम-जालों को सरलता से हटाने का कार्य है. सहज कला-साहित्य अपने समय के सत्य को सरलतम रूपों में सामने लाता है. कबीर का ‘ज्ञान का हाथी’ सहज का दुशाला ओढ़े है, गाँधी की दृष्टि में विद्वत्ता की तुलना में ‘सहज बुद्धि’ श्रेष्ठ मानी गई. प्रेमचंद की ‘सहज शैली’ और हजारी प्रसाद का ‘सहज भाषा’ का चिंतन ज्ञान-मार्ग को नैतिक और सरल बनाता है. चंद्रधर शर्मा ‘गुलेरी’ का ‘बोल-चाल की भाषा’ को शुद्ध भाषा का दर्जा देना और नामवर सिंह का सामान्य पाठक की ‘सहज दृष्टि’ को सृजनशील समीक्षक का दर्जा देना, यह ‘सहज जीवन’ के कुछ महत्वपूर्ण पहलुओं को सामने ले आता है.

चित्रा सहस्रबुद्धे

Sahaj Jeevan
If this debate on ‘Ordinary Life’ is to be carried out in Hindi then in my view the appropriate word would be ‘sahaj jeevan’ and not ‘samanya jeevan’. The word ‘sahaj’ takes one close to natural forms life and it may be helpful in understanding the swa-bhaav of life.  In our country there is a long tradition of philosophical reflection on ‘sahaj’ , the ordinary. In any period attempts at ordinary life or simple life were seen as trying to be one with swa-bhav of life, and this was no less than tapasya. This is emancipatory life.
Once we were discussing with some women the question of upbringing of children and one of them said “ children are not brought up, they grow”. This statement seems to bring into light certain aspects of ordinary life, sahaj jeevan. The meaning of sahaj includes being natural, unhampered by extraneous influences, togetherness, inclusiveness, joining together, brotherhood etc. To be sahaj is to gravitate towards basic forms, instincts or the swa-bhaav . To make one’s life more and more sahaj is not to add conveniences to one’s life , not to reduce one’s activity. Living together and being together is intrinsic to ordinary life.
In the times of Kabir there was a popular sect called Sahajiya Panth. There is a long tradition of Sahajiya, Sahaj Panth, Sahaj Dhaari, Sahajyaan, Sahaj Samadhi, Sahaj Dhyan etc.  According to Hazari Prasad Dwivedi in Sahaj Sadhna the state of dhyan is achievable even without mantra, aasana and tantra.  Sahaj jeevan is not dependent upon resources, wealth, technology, ideology.
The meaning of sahaj buddhi for all creatures is, that consciousness obtained from nature which inspires them to do something and enables them to differentiate what is right from what is wrong. Sahajagrah (सहजाग्रह), that is  insistence on sahaj, is a way to obtain moral strengths.
Sita’s taking into her hand petals of grass as weapon to defend her against Ravan is an instance of sahajagrah.  Gandhiji’s  reference to Sita wearing khadi is also for sahajagrah. Sahajagrah is to insist on what is just.  
Leaders of society need to be sahaj, their thought needs to be sahaj, their methods need to be sahaj.  Sahaj is part of the criteria of art appreciation. Mothers need to be sahaj for all round development of children. It is not for communication between leadership and the people or between artists and audience or between mother and her children that the need for being sahaj is felt, for there is no hierarchy in these relationships, they strive for unity. The philosopher of art Neehar Ranjan Ray says that the thoughts and creations brought forward by the creative leaderships or the artists are ordinarily already known to most men and women in society.
The changing situations in society sometimes create confusions while performing tasks appropriate for human beings. For example the spread of technology has given currency to the thought that life would be very difficult without technology. Sahaj art and sahaj literature remove such confusion. Sahaj art-literature presents the truth of its time in very simple form. Some examples from the towering figures of Hindi literature illustrate the point. Kabir’s ‘elephant of knowledge’ wears a shawl of sahaj. For Gandhi, sahaj-buddhi has preference over scholarship. The ordinary style of Premchand and the ordinary language of Hazari Prasad Dwivedi make gyan-marg, the path of knowledge, simple.  Chandrdhar Sharma ‘Guleri’ gave spoken language the status of  correct and pure language  and Namawar Singh gave the natural stand point of an ordinary reader the status of a creative critic. These bring forward some important aspects of sahaj jeevan, Ordinary Life.
Chitra Sahasrabudhey

Monday, June 15, 2020


Ordinary Life

"Ordinary life is life without condition. It assumes no science, no technology, no religion, no methods of organisation and communication of knowledge, it assumes nothing. It is not true, austere or moral life, for there is falsehood, extravaganza and immorality in ordinary life. But it has the criteria of truth, morality, justice, wisdom etc. in it."

We cannot ever have words which are more apt to describe what is ordinary life. Ordinary life is not always true, good and beautiful, but it has the standards of truth, beauty and goodness.

There can be excellence and appreciation of excellence in ordinary life - excellence of knowledge, art, ethical behaviour. Everything is not 'ordinary' in ordinary life.

Ordinary life has always existed. It was taken for granted. Everything else came and then passed away - political systems, religions, technologies, philosophies appeared and disappeared. But ordinary life was always there. One did not need to speak of it, it was taken for granted.

Threat to Ordinary Life

Now we are living in an age where 'ordinary life' has become the most extraordinary thing. This is because the conditions necessary for ordinary life are threatened.

Earth itself is under threat. The rivers, forests, land, mountains, seas - all are under threat. There is no ordinary life without the bounties that earth provides. And the knowledge that lives in ordinary life is threatened. There is no regard for such knowledge. All activities of life from birth to growing up, from disease to cure and healing, work and play, from food to entertainment etc. etc. are under threat. From what does this threat come we do not know for sure - technology, capital, political systems, science etc. They used to operate taking ordinary life for granted. Now they threaten ordinary life itself.

Life without Ordinary Life

One response to this situation that is taking shape now in the front rank of dominant classes is that ordinary life is beyond redemption. We have to prepare for a future without ordinary life. We have to build technologies, systems of knowledge and control, systems of finance, etc. etc. that will equip human beings to construct a form of life that will survive the destruction of ordinary life and this planet for the foreseeable future.

There is an understanding and a conviction associated with such attitudes that this can't be done for the whole of humanity. This new form of life will necessitate not only exclusion of large number of people, but even their destruction cannot be ruled out.  This is not a conspiracy. The belief is that this is the only realistic way out unless we want to go back to a pre-technological phase of life. There is an underlying sense of the hard decisions that have to be made, and sentiments that have to be curbed.

This can be seen in the policy circles in the form of 'converging technologies' agenda, in certain attitudes to loss or possible loss of life in adoption of certain courses of action by politicians, in proposals of intensive virtualisation of life, in utopian zeal of new-age capitalists like Elon Musk, in currents of thought called 'post-humanism'. Names do not matter. This is not going to be an overt political project. My sense is that this vision of our future has been explored again and again in science fiction both in dystopian and utopian manner.

All this of course is in the name of the next ultimate step for humanities' progress where the humanity is emancipated from its dependence on natural processes of earth and reproduction of living creatures.

No Life without Ordinary Life

The other response is that life without ordinary life is no life.

It is perhaps such recognition which is the source of affinity among certain kinds of ideas, organisations, and movements. For example, Lokavidya, Sacred Economy, Food Soveignty, Rights of Mother Earth. There will be others.

It seems to me that 'the political' today gets defined by ordinary life, and not by the knowledge question. The questions of knowledge and lokavidya remain important in this 'politics', but my sense is that they do not define the political. In fact, 'the political' itself will have to be redefined in this extraordinary situation, where ordinary life is under threat of destruction.

There is another thing about ordinary life. We cannot banish 'dukha' or suffering from ordinary life. It seems to me that the project of banishing all suffering from life has in some way resulted in this threat to ordinary life that we face today.

-Avinash Jha

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Ordinary is Emancipating!

The post on ordinary life and emancipating transformations by Lalit K. Kaul was nice!

Just one small comment ... about the last paragraph.
I think the word 'ordinary' in 'ordinary life' is quite fitting. If you look up synonyms of this word you come up with these: everyday, natural, normal, traditional, typical, familiar, general, humdrum, public, routine, standard, stock, accustomed, customary, established, frequent, habitual, popular, prevailing, quotidian, run-of-the-mill, settled, usual, wonted. I think the concept of "ordinary life" embraces precisely all these shades, and, of course, much more. The connotation of ordinary as "lowly", or "inferior" is not implied by the word, or these synonyms ... Although this connotation is very much there in regular use of the word ordinary among the 'parasites' ... but that is expected!

It sounds much more fitting to end the blog-note by something like "Ordinary is emancipating!"

- Girish Sahasrabudhe

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Life ordinary Life and Emancipating Transformation

Written and posted by Lalit K Kaul, LJA, Hyderabad. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Life Ordinary Life & Emancipating Transformation:
This question always hangs around in my mind: Why was I born? The more I look at the animal world, animal life and put it on 1:1 scale with my world and life, the more this question disturbs me. The similarity being that like any animal I am born, learn ways of the world and life within it; marry (animals do not), raise a family and provide for the same; finally merge with the Mother Earth.  Can this be termed as ‘ordinary life’ or do I qualify to be an emancipated being?
The difference being that being a part of the ‘modern world’ that prides in the ‘scientific temper’ of the man I am trained to devour the resources of the Mother Earth, which animals are not trained to do; to exploit human resources; to perpetuate miseries on the human race that animals do not do in their kingdom. Does this difference make me more liberated than animals? In the last 500 years has this Man been emancipated? Transformed: Yes; Emancipated:?
If I say that there is no need to determine the exact date of the birth of this universe; no need to philosophise on how and why it was born; no need to speculate on the purpose of its existence and its ultimate destiny; does this make me an ordinary man with ordinary thinking and therefore associated with ordinary life? If I say that such quests are not material for human societies and therefore waste of time and resource; is it primitive thinking; an under developed skull; and if I choose to live on these precept, am I in urgent need of ‘emancipating transformation’!
If I live by the precept that I am the child of the Mother Nature, ever dependent on it for my existence/ survival and therefore it is my solemn duty to live as a member of its family and not exploit it to harm it, does it get classified as a primitive thought in urgent need of transformation? If I decide to restrict my reach to the geographical area around me where my legs can take me and understand my surroundings, discover the natural resources available therein, invent means to make use of them (without hurting the Mother Nature) for my existence; does this qualify to be an irrational thought in urgent need for rationalisation?
If I say that societies/communities/races living in geographical regions different from each other in terms of the surrounding environment, climatic conditions, and natural resources should be free to make use of their wisdom, knowledge (vidhya) to devise methods to integrate their lives with their immediate Mother Earth & Nature; does it qualify to be an emancipating thought for civilised living or a primitive one deserving its place only in a garbage tin can?
The choice may lie between exploitative and non exploitative ways; exploitative means are those that hurt Mother Nature & Earth. Emancipation is not the absolute term and so may not be the definitions of exploitative and non exploitative means; the moot point is that if the societies are allowed to figure it out for themselves and no thought process/ philosophies alien to them are thrust upon them then and only then shall emerge multiple definitions of ‘being emancipating’, ‘being ordinary’, ‘being exploitative’, and ‘being non exploitative’, in the extant context. 
This is in the nature of a man to dislodge a thought process, an idea or a scheme from his mind if it is not going to be useful to him (in his domain of things); given the freedom to do so.  The sense of right and wrong is also imbibed in every human being, if only there is freedom to practise it. From among the things relevant to life, most of them every individual learns from interactions with the external world; these are not taught in any school, college and/or university. Does the information so acquired, assimilated and put to use not qualify as ‘vidhya’/ ‘knowledge’? Some things that I learnt by whatever means I learnt & for whatever reasons I learnt that help me not only in living my life at my terms, but guiding it through a course, do these not qualify to be ‘vidhya’/’knowledge’? The bigger question is: Why do I care whether the ‘emancipated’ ones recognise my world of ‘vidhya’/’knowledge’ or not so long as it enables my life dynamics and steers it through a course and also imbibes within me enough strengths to face oddities of life ? Nature is so diverse and societies are born in to it with all kinds of diversities around them, therefore how there can be one & only one yardstick to certify some one’s ‘vidhya’ as ‘avidhya’ or vice-versa! When parents cannot sermonise their child in to believing that theirs is the only way life could be lived, how any ‘emancipated’ society can sit on judgement on the ways and means of others? The moment I decide to seek cognisance for my ‘vidhya’ from a knowledge system based on totally different precepts, I attempt an absurd comparison. It’s me & only me  who shall decide the relevance of the ‘vidhya’ in regards to the necessities of my life and only I am qualified to enhance my ‘vidhya’ in certain direction if I find it insufficient for my endeavours; and only I am qualified to set the priorities vis a vis enhancements in the domain of my ‘vidhya’.
Constitution of India provides for 1) right to live, 2) right to freedom, 3) right to work; it therefore concedes that during colonial rule these rights were nonexistent. The catch here is that someone/ somebody/ some holy book has taken upon itself to grant me such rights which I indeed acquire naturally by birth because I am the baby of Mother Nature & Mother Earth; so every ‘right’ is not only predefined (even for yet to be born), but also restricted by the wisdom of a few. So life gets defined before one is born because freedom & work are defined. Right to livelihood based on ones ‘vidhya’ is not provided for because then the grip is lost. More cleverly what was done was to recognise only one knowledge system which encompassed everything including ‘life’, ‘freedom’, ‘work’ etc.; this recognition rendered everything ‘guaranteed’ by ‘Constitution’ irrelevant, because my birth right to acquire ‘vidhya’ in my own way and within my own means was snatched from me. There cannot be a better way than this one to enslave minds.
The irony however is that the ‘recognised’ knowledge system churns out such ‘servants’ of the Nation that are ever dependent on somebody/ some organisation employing them for, they are neither qualified nor competent to fend for themselves, whereas an individual empowered with Lokavidhya does not hanker after jobs, but has the wherewithal to fend for himself under all possible situations. The ‘legitimately’ educated migrate to greener pastures for their ‘good’ & ‘carrier’; the unrecognised ‘vidhya’ holder contributes to the GDP, no matter what! No expenses incurred by anyone for someone to acquire Lokavidhya and yet this individual contributes a lot to the society & the Nation; efficiency: quantum of output divided by ZERO input costs equals ‘∞’.  Efficiency of ‘legitimate’ knowledge holder equals (output burdened with costs) divided by (input costs as borne by the exchequer) tends to near ‘0’. For those who migrate they become the parasites for the Nation; of course the apologists will say that NRIs contribute dollars to our country in later stages of their life.
The moot or may be ‘ordinary’ question is: which of the two is more appropriate ‘vidhya’ for a society, not forgetting the problem of unemployment.
India houses two civilisations: one parasitic in nature & content, devouring all possible resources and blaming the ‘population explosion’ for all the ills; the other one productive, non-parasitic in nature, non-devouring type; not accusing existence of others for whatever hardships & discomforts its populace go through. Of these two civilisations which one is ‘emancipating’ and which one is ‘ordinary’? In my understanding, one who gives despite hardships is emancipated and ‘emancipating’ & the other who is insatiably devouring is ‘ordinary’. 


Monday, May 25, 2020

Suggestions for LJA intervention on behalf of migrant workers

A Note on possible/desirable activities that can be taken up
by LJA activists for the benefit of returning Migrant Workers

The returning Migrant Worker population represent a hard working section of rural youth who have migrated to urban centres(towns, cities, metros) over the past decades to eke out a livelihood so as to help sustain their family members, who were ’left’ back in their villages. This population have been largely working in the construction, production and service sectors of the urban economy through acquired knowledge and skills. As a result of the Pandemic and lockdown, they have been ‘displaced’ from their urban homes, jobs and workplaces and have chosen to go back to their villages . However, they continue to possess these acquired knowledge and skills and would still be able to contribute to the economy without the need for ‘training for skill development’. Many of them would want to go back to their urban jobs and many of their employers would also want them back.

The numbers of such workers is estimated to be about 40 million largely from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. Those who have survived the ordeal of the forced "long march" would have reached their villages by the end of this month.
They have lost faith in the State, their employers in their states of migration and in the belief that the urban population and the market system has any element of empathy and 'human' values. That belief/hope has been violently shattered and they have trudged home, probably in the hope that such empathy and human values still remain in their villages! That is to be seen in the days to come.

LJA, which has been deeply involved in championing the rights of Lokavidya Samaj; such as the 'Right to a dignified life based on Lokavidya', "Sab ki Aay Pakki"(a guaranteed universal basic income), Lokavidya Bazar and Lokavidya Swaraj etc; needs to swing into action to bring these ideas into the collective consciousness of the Samaj using the heightened awareness on all these issues among these returning migrant workers, as a catalyst.

First and foremost would be the need to organize food distribution(grains, pulses, oil etc) to the families of these returning migrant workers for the next few months so that they don’t die of starvation.
LJA activists in these rural areas could play an important role in initiating, guiding and overseeing such distribution, in conjunction with workers of BKU, PDS, ICDS, Anganwadi  etc

I would like to suggest some areas of action that can be focused upon, during the next few months, based on the skills of the returning migrant workers. Such activity could help generate motivation and new skills among the rural population and possibly set in motion , regenerative rural transformation of village and cottage industry. It could also provide the necessary fillip for decentralized production( the ‘produce locally’ campaign) and reduce the need to ‘migrate for work’.

Workers who wish to return

The main issue concerning such workers is: under what conditions would these workers be willing to return ? These condition would include, in the main, assured safe housing and assured timely payment of a minimum wage. This process would involve serious negotiations with their employers/job-providers, mediated by individuals and organizations in whom both sides have trust.( This is akin to the situation handled by Gandhiji in 1928/29 with regard to the Ahmedabad Mill workers’ strike- with the final settlement arrived at to the satisfaction of both workers and Mill owners)

LJA together with other activists in Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Kolkata could play an important role in initiating and guiding such negotiations. This work must start as soon as possible.

Workers who wish to remain

Wherever possible, it must be attempted to setup functional decentralized units of urban factories and manufacturing industries, depending on the skill-set of returning workers, in identified panchayat areas. This would ensure that such workers find a place in the production/manufacturing chain asap.
LJA activisits in these rural areas together with other NGOs could play an important role in initiating and guiding such ‘decentralization’ of workplaces, while providing gainful employment to these ‘destitute’ workers.

Some examples:

1. Returning workers of the garment manufacturing industry:
A small cluster of such workers can be provided the (minimal) infrastructure required to continue their productive activity, such as, sewing machines(even hand-operated) housed in a small building in some convenient area close to their residences. The ‘raw’ material such as pre-cut garment pieces, thread, buttons etc could be supplied to them at the workplace(through local couriers) and the finished garment collected and transported back to the urban centre. Payment being made on delivery of finished garment etc.
The capital required to establish this infrastructure and logistics could come from Venture Capital(VC) in conjunction with the urban factory; a business model could be worked out to the best satisfaction of all.

2. Returning construction workers:
All building activity such as low cost housing, toilets, roads, warehouses etc can be taken up using the skills of returning masons, building workers etc. Once again the capital outlay for building material, tools, equipment etc could come from VC and a business model drawn up in conjunction with with Govt agencies such as R&B Dept, PM Awas Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission, MGNREGA etc

3. Workers from other ‘centralised’ industries,
Wherever production can be carried out in a decentralized manner; such workers can be encouraged to continue practising their acquired skills by designing distributed production centres(depending on the size and character of the skill set of returning workers) using VC ; with appropriate business models developed to suit each type of productive activity.

4. Workers from the service sectors of the urban economy
A number of returning workers have been involved in the urban ’service sector’ as delivery men, couriers, drivers/transporters etc and their skills and experience can be marshaled to man the logistics of these decentralized production centres.

The establishment of Gyan Panchayats

Wherever possible,attempts must be made to set up functional Gyan Panchayats involving migrant workers and local village members. All activities to be taken up must be discussed in these Gyan Panchayats and working plans drawn up for immediate implementation. This would facilitate the process of establishing Gram Swaraj/Lokavidya Swaraj and, hopefully, facilitate the process of the Samaj to regain control over it's life and activities.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

LJA - Draft Action Plan for 2020

Lokavidya Samaj – Action plan for LJA
an outline incorporating
Ghar Vapasi, Ghar se Kam karo, Sab ki Aay Pakki, Lokavidya Bazar

Ghar Vapsi

Migrant labour, all over the country, is comprised of, in the main, of vast sections of Lokavidya Samaj; who, having been displaced from their vidya ,skills and livelihoods have been forced to eke out a living in urban and semi-urban areas by doing jobs quite alien to their vidya and skills. Their labour ‘supports’ the urban economy and lives and livelihoods of the urban population. They are economically and socially enslaved. All problems associated with the plight of ‘migrant labour’ have arisen because of this displacement; now compounded manifold by the current pandemic together with the wholly inadequate and unthought-out response of the ruling classes to their plight.

As a result of the lockdown their response has been Ghar Vapasi ! The move of the government and civil society to stop this ‘reverse migration’ is solely to safeguard this enslaved labour force, so that they are ‘available on site’ after the lockdown.
It is clearly uncertain whether the MSMEs, construction, food and allied enterprises, petty transport etc will be actually able to survive the lockdown and the aftermath of the Pandemic. So, Ghar Vapasi is their real choice and not a knee-jerk reaction.

It could, however, serve as a first step in assisting Lokavidya Samaj regain control of it’s existence. A clear consequence of the ‘Ghar Vapasi’ movement would be: What do the ‘migrant labour’ do when they get back?

Ghar se Kam karo

Work from home has become a popular slogan the world over and all enterprises that can implement this strategy, are doing so to the extent possible. The adverse effects arising out of the need to commute to work and/or gathering in a workplace, on social health and environment, have been brought to the fore. So, this concept seems to be gaining firm ground.

Lokavidyadhars are a large productive and service component of our population, who largely work from their homes/villages. If their productive and service activities can be revived and bolstered; the economic, social, cultural and ‘spiritual’ revival of Lokavidya Samaj becomes a distinct possibility.

This would involve a great rebuilding, extending, ‘modernising’ of the different productive and service activities that this ‘returning population’ can engage in. Concomitantly, this would involve widespread planning to engage the increased numbers of Lokavidya Samaj (in every gram panchayat comprising 5 villages or
about a population of 4000). As also a restructuring of the local planning and management of a reorganised Samaj.

The demands on government/State support would be;

1. One school for every 1000 population
2. One PHC for every 1000 population
3. Drinking water supply for each gram panchayat
4. Revamped PDS for each 1000 of population and efficient utilization of the distribution mechanism through agencies such as ICDS/ Anganwadi workers.
5. Revamping/establishing Local Markets to serve each 1000 of the population
6. Capital inputs as and when required by each gram panchayat

So that the working members and children DO NOT HAVE TO COMMUTE TO REACH THEIR PLACE OF WORK/SCHOOL

Sab ki Aay Pakki

Our programme of ‘Sab ki Aay Pakki’ will now find vast support among Lokavidyadhars. In order to sustain the lives and livelihoods of the population, every household must receive a minimum wage of say 300/- per adult per day. Arrangements must be made under MGNREGA etc to provide the facilities for work, if needed, and timely payment of wages ‘at the doorstep’.

Lokavidya Bazar

The concept that the Bazar(Local Market) as a place for exchange of goods and services primarily to sustain the lives and livelihoods of the population and NOT for generating surpluses through the mechanism of trade, can also now be popularised and should find support among the Lokavidyadhars.

The small trader/shopkeeper , who operates in the Bazar, is assured of a minimum wage through Sab Ki Aay Pakki, while capital input( in cash and/or kind) for inventory management has to be planned and provided.

Surplus produce of foodgrains, vegetables, fruits etc of the farmers; and goods of the artisans must be procured from the producers from the local level and transported to godowns, markets etc by the state (through FCI etc).

A total revamping of local governance institutions is required so that all the above stated activities can get established and function with minimal external bureaucratic interference.


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Nationwide Fast 10th April 2020

The poster above is prepared by Gram Sewa Sangh, Bengaluru  in its campaign #KaronaKuch as part of the movement for Sacred Economy. They have given this call for fast on 10th April to express solidarity with and support for the migrant workers  who are facing unprecedented misery and are presently in an exodus from the metros to their home places compelled by the crisis precipitated by the spread of the corona virus and the apathy of the governments. 
This is also a call for thinking about reorganization and reconstruction of the economy and society centered on the villages and bastis where the farmers and artisans live. The Lokavidya movement sees also a silver line in an imagination that reinstates the farmer and the artisan who have been forced to become workers by the capitalist and imperialist economies.
Vidya Ashram inmates and several activists of Varanasi are joining this fast.

Sunil Sahasrabudhey
Vidya Ashram 

Monday, March 9, 2020

देश की वर्तमान परिस्थिति और भविष्य : रपट

The English version of this report is given below.
वार्ता : देश की वर्तमान परिस्थिति और भविष्य
29 फरवरी -1 मार्च 2020
 विद्या आश्रम, सारनाथ, वाराणसी

वाराणसी में देश की वर्तमान परिस्थिति और भविष्य पर 29 फरवरी 2020 को विद्या आश्रम, सारनाथ और 1 मार्च 2020 को दर्शन अखाड़ा, राजघाट में एक राजनैतिक और दार्शनिक वार्ता का आयोजन किया गया. देश भर में पिछले दो-तीन महीनों से CAA/NRC/NPR के विरोध में हो रही गतिविधियों की पृष्ठभूमि में और हम कौन हैं और किधर चले विषय पर शुरू हुई वार्ताओं के सन्दर्भ में समाज के कई तबकों से और देश भर से आये लोगों ने आगे के रास्ते और एक सार्थक परिवर्तन की संभावना पर अपने विचार रखे. लगभग 75 व्यक्तियों की भागीदारी में यह संवाद हुआ. वार्ता में 25 से 70 के आस पास के आयुवर्ग के लोग शामिल रहे. 

लोकविद्या के दावे का गीत पेश करते लोकविद्या जन आन्दोलन के कार्यकर्त्ता 

यह महसूस किया गया कि सरकार के वर्तमान कदम और सार्वजनिक रूप से अभिव्यक्त विरोध दोनों ही पिछले समय से नाता तोड़ते नज़र आते हैं और एक राष्ट्रीय समाज के रूप में हम कौन हैं और किधर जाना चाहते हैं? यह सवाल उठ खड़ा हुआ है. वार्ता में शुरू से यह आग्रह रहा कि इसकी समझ बनाने के लिए उच्च शिक्षा संस्थानों और समाज वैज्ञानिकों से मार्गदर्शन लेने की जगह यह ज्यादा महत्वपूर्ण होगा कि हम इसे सामान्य लोगों, उनका जीवन और उनके विचारों के राजनीतिक-दार्शनिक सन्दर्भ में अवस्थित करने का प्रयास करें.
स्वराज विद्यापीठ,  इलाहाबाद और आज़ादी बचाओ आन्दोलन के मनोज त्यागी 

स्वराज अभियान से राम जनम 
सुरेश और सिवरामकृष्णन ने बंगलुरु में चल रहे ‘पवित्र आर्थिकी सत्याग्रह’ की बात के साथ चर्चा शुरू की. यह सत्याग्रह हाथ के काम और उन्हें करने वालों के पक्ष में एक आर्थिक-सामाजिक आन्दोलन है. इस आन्दोलन ने सीएए/एनआरसी के विरोध का समर्थन किया है तथा उसमें एक महत्वपूर्ण पक्ष जोड़ने का प्रयास किया है. देश में चल रहे सीएए/एनआरसी के विरोध के आन्दोलन के सन्दर्भ में कई भागीदारों ने इस बात पर जोर दिया कि वर्तमान सरकार हिंदुत्व की वैचारिकी से प्रभावित होकर एक विनाशकारी रास्ता अपना रही है और इस देश में सभी पंथों और धर्मों के लोगों की आपसी सौहार्द के जीवन की जो परंपरा है उसे ख़त्म करने पर तुली हुई है. कई तबकों के लोग यह सोचते हैं कि सी.ए.ए., एन.आर.सी. और एन.पी.आर. का पैकज उनके अस्तित्व के लिए ही खतरा है. इसलिए इसका विरोध जिन लोगों ने और जितनी मजबूती से खड़ा किया है उसकी उम्मीद शायद किसी को नहीं थी. यह किसी प्रकार के "वाद" से बंधा हुआ नहीं है और इसने देशप्रेम की नयी परिभाषा दी है. यह मुख्यधारा के वर्तमान पक्षों को पीछे छोड़ आया है. ख़ास कर शाहीन बाग़ की महिलाओं ने यह दिखा दिया है कि जो लोग मुस्लिम समाज की स्त्रियों को सार्वजनिक मंच से कटा हुआ समझते हैं वे कितने ग़लत हैं. इन महिलाओं ने न सिर्फ राजनैतिक पक्षों को बल्कि अपने समाज के लीडरों को भी पीछे छोड़ दिया है. उनकी शक्ति के स्रोत क्या हैं यह समझने की ज़रुरत है. क्या यह एक नई प्रेरणा का स्रोत है?  
कानपुर से मज़दूरों के बीच कार्यरत मनाली चक्रवर्ती 
 बनारस हिन्दू विश्वविद्यालय के शोध छात्र राहुल राज 
वक्ताओं ने इस बात पर भी ज़ोर दिया कि यह आंदोलन केवल मुसलमानों का नहीं है. ये नए कानून और सरकार के प्रयास सिर्फ मुसलमान समाज के लिए ही नहीं, बल्कि देश के तमाम किसानों, कारीगरों, आदिवासियों, स्त्रियों और छोटे धंधे वालों के लिए समस्या पैदा करते हैं. इन लोगों के पास अथाह ज्ञान, विद्या और हुनर तो है, लेकिन कागज़ नहीं हैं. इस लिए "कागज़ नहीं दिखाएंगे" का नारा इस लोकविद्याधारी समाज का नारा है. इस आंदोलन के मार्फ़त समाज सरकार से कह रहा  है “हमारे ही देश से हमें बेदखल करने का विचार त्याग दें”. यह बात भी सामने आयी कि सीएए  के मुद्दे तक सीमित न रह कर इस आंदोलन को सरकार की अन्य नीतियों जैसे नोटबंदी, जीएसटी आदि की पार्श्वभूमि में देखा जाए.

वाराणसी के ग्राम  सुधार समिति और निषाद समाज संगठन से हरिश्चंद बिंद 
वार्ता में यह बात भी उभर कर आयी कि हिंदुत्ववादी सोच का मुक़ाबला करने और देश के विविध सम्प्रदायों के बीच भाईचारे के सम्बन्ध बनाने और अधिक मजबूत करने के लिए जिन मूल्यों और व्यवहार के तरीकों की ज़रुरत है, वह हमें सामान्य जीवन में और लोक परम्पराओं तथा लोकस्मृति में मिलते हैं. भारत में ऐसे भाईचारे की परम्परा  है जिसे  हिन्दुत्ववादी सोच नकारती है. लेकिन अगर हम महाभारत से कुछ सीखते हैं तो वह यह कि जब घर ही में युद्ध होता है तो किसी की जीत नहीं होती, सबकी हार होती है. वक्ताओं ने कहा की आर्थिक विषमताओं, बेरोज़गारी, और कॉर्पोरेट सेक्टर के फायदे  के लिए बनी आर्थिक नीतियों को भी चुनौती देने की ज़रुरत है. ये ऐसे हालात पैदा करती हैं जिनमें युवा नफरत और हिंसा की ओर गुमराह किये जाते हैं. यह एक लम्बी लड़ाई है. 
IISER मोहाली से वैभव 
यह भी कहा गया कि केवल संवैधानिक मूल्यों को पकड़कर देश बहुत दूर तक नहीं जा सकता. जिस उदारतावाद और प्रगतिशीलता से हम परिचित हैं वह अब और आगे देश को किसी नए रास्ते पर ले जा सकेगा इसकी संभावना नहीं दिखाई देती. उदार और सकारात्मक मूल्यों के स्रोत के रूप में हमें सामान्य लोगों के बीच प्रचलित परम्पराओं की ओर देखने का मन बनाना चाहिए, खासकर संत-परंपरा की ओर. केवल इतना ही नहीं बल्कि वर्तमान आन्दोलन में कलाकारों की भूमिका यह कहती नज़र आती है कि देश और दुनिया को कला दर्शन की दृष्टि से देखना ज़रूरी है. इस सन्दर्भ में श्रीमती मंजू सुन्दरम जी का एक विशेष व्याख्यान रखा गया था. श्रीमती मंजू सुन्दरम कला और भाषा के क्षेत्रों में विशेष दखल रखने वाली एक दार्शनिक विदुषी हैं. वे उपस्थित लोगों को एक ऐसी कला की दुनिया में ले गईं जहाँ से बातों को समझने और देखने के लिए प्रचलित राजनैतिक और आर्थिक श्रेणियों से अलग वैचारिक श्रेणियों के बीच खुद को ले जाना पड़ता है. ‘दर्शन’, ‘भाव’ और ‘मर्यादा’ की बातें करते हुए उस वैचारिक दुनिया का निर्माण किया जिसमें विश्लेषणात्मक तरीके का महत्त्व तो है लेकिन औरों की तरह ही, उनसे अधिक नहीं. पूरी सुबह राजनैतिक दृष्टिकोण से बात चल रही थी और कला की दुनिया का यह दखल ताज़ी हवा के एक झोंके की तरह था तथा वार्ता को एक बड़ी दुनिया में ले गया. 
मंजू सुन्दरम 
इनके तुरत बाद आते हुए राहुल राज ने विश्लेषणात्मक वैचारिकी के द्वंद्वों के ऊपर उठने में दर्शन की भूमिका को रेखांकित किया. अंत में चित्रा सहस्रबुद्धे ने कहा कि रचनात्मक पहल के लिए जिस सार्वजनिक और सबको शामिल करने वाले संवाद की ज़रूरत है उसे बनाने के लिए एक ज्ञान आन्दोलन की ज़रूरत है, एक ऐसे ज्ञान आन्दोलन की जिसमें लोकविद्या और नैतिकता को अहम् स्थान मिलता हो. इसे हम बौद्धिक सत्याग्रह का नाम दे सकते हैं, जिसमें कला दर्शन और संत वाणी की बड़ी भूमिका है.
वाराणसी  बुनकर संगठन के फ़ज़लुर्रहमान अंसारी 
कार्यक्रम  के दूसरे दिन लोकतंत्रसमाजवादरामराज्य, और स्वराज पर गंगाजी के किनारे दर्शन अखाडा में वार्ता हुई. यहाँ उपस्थित लोगों ने इन अवधारणाओं और व्यवस्थाओं पर अपनी-अपनी समझ रखी. लगभग 50 लोगों की उपस्थिति में बोलने वाले अधिकांश लोगों ने जीवन और समाज के संगठन के रूप में स्वराज के प्रति अपनी प्राथमिकता दर्शाई. लोकविद्या जन आन्दोलन के मैसूर से आये बी. कृष्णराजुलु ने बैठक की शुरुआत करते हुए यह कहा कि आज सभी देशों में लोकतंत्र एक दलीय तानाशाही में बदल रहा है. उन्होंने इस कथन के समर्थन में कई देशों के उदाहरण दिए, जहाँ अलग-अलग विचारधाराओं के दल राज कर रहे हैं. IISER मोहाली  से आये वैभव ने बाज़ार की नकारात्मक भूमिका को रेखांकित किया और कहा कि इस बाज़ार की व्यवस्था समझे और बदले बगैर मानव हित में आगे बढ़ना संभव नहीं है. स्वराज विद्यापीठ, इलाहाबाद के मनोज त्यागी ने कहा कि स्वराज की ओर बढ़ने में सबसे बड़ी बाधा कारपोरेशन हैं. उन्होंने स्वराज विद्यापीठ द्वारा ‘लोक राजनीति मंच’, ‘जन-संसद’ और ‘छोटे उद्यम’ के रूप में किये गए प्रयोगों के बारे में बताया. स्वराज अभियान के राम जनम ने कहा कि ‘एक व्यक्ति-एक वोट’ की वास्तविकता और वैचारिकी दोनों की ही सीमाएं हैं और स्वराज की ओर बढ़ने के लिए इनसे आगे बढ़ना होगा. भारतीय किसान यूनियन के लक्ष्मण प्रसाद ने उदाहरणों के साथ यह बताया कि छोटी से छोटी समस्या हल करने में वर्तमान सरकारी तंत्र पूरी तरह अक्षम है और यह कि स्थानीय लोगों की पहल पर ही कुछ काम हो पाता है. इसे संगठन का रूप देने से स्वराज की ओर बढ़ने के कदम तैयार होते हैं. विद्या आश्रम की चित्रा सहस्रबुद्धे ने स्वराज परंपरा की बात की. उन्होंने कहा कि स्वराज का विचार बनाने में और उसके व्यवहार के सिद्धांत समझने के लिए गाँधी के अलावा बसवन्ना के कल्याण राज्य, रविदास के बेगमपुरा, कबीर की अमरपुरी, अंग्रेजों के आने से पहले के ‘भाईचारा गाँव’ और आज़ादी के पहले औंध, मिरज और कुछ और स्थानों पर स्वराज के जो प्रयोग हुए उन सब पर ध्यान देना चाहिए. अविनाश झा ने कहा कि लोकतंत्र और स्वराज के बीच का अंतर 'स्वनियंत्रित' और 'स्वगठित' इन दोनों के अंतर से समझा जा सकता है. स्वनियंत्रित व्यवस्था बाहर से दिए हुए सिद्धांत के तहत चलती है. मगर एक स्वगठित व्यवस्था अपने अंदर ही अपने संगठन के मूल्यों का निर्माण करती है. स्वराज एक स्वगठित व्यवस्था की ओर इशारा करता है. 

 गाँधी विद्या संस्थान, वाराणसी से मुनीज़ा खान 
वार्ता सभा का समापन करते हुए उन सब लोगों के प्रति आभार व्यक्त किया गया जो भाग लेने आये थे और जिन्होंने इस वार्ता के लिए आवश्यक सारे इंतजाम किये. 
इस दो दिन के संवाद के लिए कई लोगों ने रहने-खाने और बातचीत के स्थान की व्यवस्था की. वे हैं – गोरखनाथ, फ़िरोज़ खान, मु. अलीम, नीरजा, आरती कुमारी, अंजू देवी, कमलेश, पप्पू, मल्लू, चम्पादेवी, रोहित, कुलसुमबानो, विवेक और प्रिंस.
[ इस संवाद में कई लोग बोले और कई के नाम इस छोटी सी रिपोर्ट में नहीं आये हैं. जो लोग बोले वे हैं—सुनील सहस्रबुद्धे, ज.क.सुरेश, जी.सिवरामकृष्णन, गिरीश सहस्रबुद्धे, वैभव वैश्य, राहुल राज, हरिश्चंद बिंद, मनोज त्यागी, मनाली चक्रवर्ती, मुनीज़ा खान, पारमिता, नीति भाई, संदीपा, अवधेश कुमार, लक्ष्मीचंद दुबे, फ़ज़लुर्रहमान अंसारी, एहसान अली, ब्रिकेश यादव, मु. अहमद, अमित बसोले, निमिता कुलकर्णी, अरुण चौबे, प्रेमलता सिंह, आरती कुमारी, वीणा देवस्थली, राहुल वर्मन, राम जनम, अभिजित मित्रा, चित्रा सहस्रबुद्धे, अविनाश झा, बी. कृष्णराजुलु. कुछ ऐसे विचार ज़रूर होंगे जो व्यक्त किये गए लेकिन इस रिपोर्ट में नहीं हैं. इसका कारण केवल यह है कि हमारे पास विस्तार से लिखित ब्यौरा नहीं हैं. पूरी वार्ता का एक विडियो बनाया गया है लेकिन अभी हम नहीं जानते कि उसका क्या इस्तेमाल किया जाय. सुझावों का स्वागत है.]

विद्या आश्रम    

A dialogue on 
State of the Nation: Whither India
Vidya Ashram, Sarnath, Varanasi
29 Feb. – 1 March 2020

A dialogue on State of the Nation: Whither India was held in Varanasi on February 29th 2020 at Vidya Ashram, Sarnath and on 1st March 2020 at Darshan Akhada, Rajghat. The immediate context was the ongoing movement against CAA/NRC/NPR across the country and the great debate it has given birth to, on ‘who we are and where are we headed’. This was a philosophical and political dialogue in which people from various sections of society and different corners of the country participated. There were about 75 persons debating out a considerable spectrum of views on both the days. Reasonable numbers were present from all age groups, ranging from 25 to 70 or more.
It was generally felt that the action of the government and the resistance in the open spaces, both appear to constitute a break with the past and raise the fundamental question about who we are as a national society. The dialogue can be said to have underlined that though this seems to be most important question that has come up, this has to be located in the larger politico-philosophical context which is understood in some sense in people’s terms and not too much guided by the modern learning that lies in institutions of higher education.

Suresh and Sivaramakrishnan started the dialogue on a positive note by talking about the Sacred Economy Satyagraha taking place in Bangaluru which stood for all that was hand-made and the people who made these things. This satyagraha has supported the movement against CAA/NRC etc. and adds a critically important dimension to them. Several participants stressed that this government, dominated by the political ideology of Hindutva, is on a destructive course and seems bent upon destroying the tradition in this country of living together of people of various sects and religions. The CAA, NRC, NPR package has been taken by several sections of people as amounting to a threat to their existence. So, this time the opposition to this has been coming from where it may have been least expected. Resistances on the ground appear to be free of any "ism" and are perhaps bringing the focus on thought about what constitutes patriotism. These people have left mainstream political parties and formations behind. In particular, the women of Shaheen Bagh have proved many wrong, who believed Muslim women to be cut off from the public sphere. It is important to identify the sources of their strength.

Many noted that the entire matter adversely affected the poor and the ordinary people and should not be seen as being limited to Muslims. This new law and the proposed NRC is not only against Muslims but is going to affect all farmers, artisans, adivasis, roadside vendors and women among all these. These people have their own knowledge and strength but they do not possess papers. Therefore the slogan "We will not show papers" is also a slogan of this lokavidya-samaj. CAA, NRC and NPR may be seen as a continuation of what was started with demonitization as digitalization of the economy. The resistances appear to be a cumulative response to what has gone on for a while now as social and economic policy. It was stressed that the values, practices, and philosophies which will strengthen the cooperative and harmonious relations among different sections of society are to be found in ordinary life, in peoples' traditions and memory. These traditions have existed in India which the Hindutva ideology denies and destroys. If we learn anything from Mahabharat it is that everyone loses in the war fought among ourselves. Speakers also stressed that it is necessary to challenge those economic policies that create inequality and unemployment, while benefiting the corporate sector, thereby causing conditions in which young people become instruments of hate and violence. It is going to be a long struggle.

It was underlined that just sticking to constitutional values may not take the country too far. Progressivism and liberalism that we are familiar with may have run its course and may have little to help the country steer on a new course. Liberal and positive values need to be sourced from the traditions popular among the people of India, in particular, the sant-parampara. And not just this, but the involvement of artists in the present resistance was compelling to take a view of the whole thing from the art-end. So, there was a special lecture by Smt. Manju Sundaram, who is a philosopher with scholarship in the world of art and languages. She looked at the matter from the world of art and showed how one traverses through very different categories of understanding, while approaching from the art-end those very issues which were under discussion. With focus on darshan, bhaav and maryada, the expressed ideas strongly underlined that how in times such as we are in today, the analytical political approach, which fails to open new vistas of thought for building a better future, is just not enough. It was very useful and enlightening to have her speak in the discussion where the political approach dominated. Rahul Raj appreciated this approach emphasising the role of darshan to transcend the given dichotomies of the analytical discourse. Further Chitra Sahasrabuddhe stressed the need of a knowledge movement, namely Bauddhik Satyagraha, which respects lokavidya and moral considerations, to build an inclusive public dialogue needed for a new constructive approach.

On Day Two of the programme, a discussion on Democracy, Socialism, Ramarajya and Swaraj was held in Darshan Akhara on the banks of the Gangaji, where people reflected on what these terms meant to them. In a gathering of about 50 persons there were many speakers preferring swaraj for the mode of organization of our life and society. B.Krishnrajulu of Lokavidya Jan Andolan from Mysoor opened the discussion with a talk on how democracies today are all on the course of one party dictatorships. He explained this by giving examples of various countries which were under the rule of different political ideologies. Vaibhav from IISER, Mohali stressed the negative role of the compulsions of the market. He said that we understand the nature of the capitalist market system and how without changing it nothing good was possible. Manoj Tyagi from Swaraj Vidyapeeth, Allahabad argued that the corporations were the main hurdle in movement towards swaraj. He also mentioned their experiments with ‘Loka-rajneeti Manch’ and ‘Jan-sansad’ and small units of enterprise. Ram Janam of Swaraj Abhiyaan said that the idea and reality of one person-one vote’ was simply insufficient to move towards swaraj. Lakshman Prasad of Bharatiya Kisan Union said that it is common observation that the present system is an all round failure on grounds of delivery. No problem however simple is solvable through the state machinery. Local people’s initiative is the only way. So this needs institutionalization which is the way to swaraj. Chitra Sahasrabuddhe from Vidya Ashram, argued that we need to look at the larger meaning of swaraj through swaraj-parampara which includes along with the ideas of Tilak and Gandhi, Basavanna’s kalyana-rajya, Ravidas’ Begampura, Kabir’s Amarapuri, the Bhaichara Villages of pre-British India and the experiments in swaraj on the eve of India’s Independence in places like Aundh, Miraj and some others. Avinash Jha proposed that the distinction between 'self-organization' and 'self-regulation' can be helpful in understanding the difference between swaraj and democracy. A self-organised system contains the principle of organisation within itself, whereas 'self-regulation' works within a given principle. It is a way of understanding the different kinds of freedom that different systems allow.
The meeting concluded with thanks to all those who had come to participate and those who made the arrangements for the dialogue.

This two days gathering was supported by the work of Gorakhnath, Firoz Khan, Md. Aleem, Neeraja, Kulsumbano, Aarati Kumari, Anju Devi, Kamalesh, Pappu, Mallu, Rohit, Champa Devi, Vivek and Prince in organizing the arrangements at the two venues and for lodging and boarding. 

[ A large number of persons spoke and it has not been possible to include all their names in the text of this short report. The following spoke before the assembly. Sunil Sahasrabudhey, JK Suresh, G.Sivramakrishnan, Girish Sahasrabudhe, Vaibhav Vaish, Rahul Raj, Manoj Tyagi, Harishchand Bind, Manali Chakravarti, Muniza Khan, Parmita, Neeti Bhai, Sandipa, Awadhesh Kumar, Laksmichand Dube, Fazalurrahamaan Ansari, Ehasaan Ali, Brikesh Yadav, Mohammad Ahamad, Amit Basole , Nimita Kulkarni, Arun Chaube, Premalata Singh, Aarati Kumari, Veena Devasthali, Rahul Varman, Ram Janam , Abhijit Mitra, Chitra Sahasrabuddhe, Avinash Jha, B. Krishnarajulu. It may also be added that perhaps some views expressed have not found a place in this report. This is only because we failed to take detailed notes. However a complete video has been made and we do not at this point know what use we can put this video to. Suggestions are welcome. ]

Vidya Ashram