Friday, February 25, 2011

Search for a sound political philosophy ?

The posting of Feb 18,02.14 AM, "LOKAVIDYA JAN ANDOLAN AND/OR GYAN MUKTI?", fairly accurately captures our collective mind at the end of its tether in dealing with the complex problem of 'What then must we do?'. M.K.Gandhi's solution:

"Be the change you want to see in the world"

ignores 'two' factors, our limited capacity and the recalcitrant nature of the world, identified by Rosseau long ago:

"The flaws which make social institutions necessary are the same as the abuse of them unavoidable".

If,as I am inclined to believe, our Sysiphus-like condition is inevitable, I find the suggestion, "Perhaps the idea of a lokavidya andolan is search for a sound political philosophy which is able to stir the imagination of all those who find contemporary versions of 'The way of Tradition' and 'the way of Modernity' not very attractive or life-enhancing" appealing.Perhaps it can also help identify the half-truths in the various postings.Even more importantly, it may suggest a way out of the performative paradoxes of our (1) communitarian (2) universalist and (3)post-modernist political philosophies.


Response from Shamik Sarkar and Jiten Nandi from Kolkata

For several years now the concept of `lokavidya' has been developed by Varanasi ashram and associated people. We are summarizing the concept below, as we understand it :

1) Human social existence compels it to acquire knowledge for its own sake, and the knowledge evolves from social interaction and human interaction with nature. Lokavidya is this fundamental form of knowledge.

2) This fundamental knowledge form never ceases to evolve, rather it's continuously evolving, and originating.

3) This knowledge form doesn't have any organisation.

4) Peasant, workers, artisan, street vendors and women are embodiment of this knowledge.

5) A different knowledge form exists also, broadly it can be defined as organised knowledge. Often it is associated and sponsored by State. Capital favours this knowledge form.

6) This organised knowledge form gathers by taking the fundamental knowledge away from it's embodiement, and through subsequent structurisation of it, thereby facilitating the making of knowledge-fetish to the society as a whole. Then it creates its own structured route of evolution.

7) In the process of fetishisation, the embodiement of the fundamental knowledge form is made to believe in this structured knowledge form as the only form of legitimate knowledge in the society.

8) This systematic robing off the embodiement of fundamental knowledge takes a new and perhaps most predatory shape in the form of information and communication technology.

9) The struggle for emancipation of the society as whole from the shackles of its alienated offshoots (State, Capital, Structured knowledge etc.) must put itself into the stream of fundamental knowledge form.

The idea of Lokavidya Jana Andolon is a rather new one and it is a process of reckoning for the embodiement of fundamental knowledge form about its own, in term of knowledge.

Our observations

a) The concept of Lokavidya, as we perceived, is very important.

b) Lokavidya remains there amidst the embodiment of it. It is the only knowledge form by which large part of human society, particularly societies in our countries, survive.

c) A very large part of humanity, embodiment of fundamental knowledge form, is continuously rejecting organised knowledge forms like religious, scientific etc. The rejection is not a vocal/propagandist one, but a silent refusal to follow and grasp the organised knowledge forms. This refusal is not a conscious one, but from the perception of practicality. Organised knowledge forms are not practically relevant at the level of a petit human being with very little or no means of livelihood, who is trying to survive with social interactions and interaction with nature.

d) Soft database technology is the latest idea of organisation of knowledge. Earlier form, the scientific form took `why' and `how' out of context of fundamental knowledge stream, overblown it, and shaped the organisation. The new idea takes `how' and `what' out of Lokavidya, puts extra-relevance upon it, and is intending to shape a knowledge organisation. The aim of the sponsors of it is very similar to that of the earlier organised knowledge forms, to put forth a knowledge-fetish before the society.

e) Like all other knowledge organisations, this new one is also proving to be incapable to be practically useful for the large part of humanity, may be the absolute majority. Despite all out effort of Capital and State to make it work, it is a large failure till now. Despite everything is perceived as `good' for years what a Mobile phone can deliver, mobile connection is not available to the majority of our countrymen till now (and it's already showing its limit. The switching to 3G from simple phone would hamper mobile's expansion, would facilitate consolidation). And not to forget the fact that people use mobile as a mere mean of broader social interactions, and refuse to consider it as an instrument of knowledge fetish.

f) There is always an effort by the human social existence to make the organised knowledge form a part of fundamental knowledge stream. Often this is done by transforming the purpose of the pieces of an organised knowledge.

g) There is also an effort by human social existence to make the organised knowledge form a knowledge-fetish to the society as a whole. Most of the people who are engaged in that knowledge organisation favour this.

h) Formation of social knowledge-fetish is sponsored by capital, state, and the populace who are survived by other people's social and natural interactions, i.e., labour.

i) In our days, the knowledge fetish has got a new social proponent, which is corporate and elite social existence.

j) It is better to chalk out a strategy/process for the elite and corporate social existence, and not for the social embodiment of fundamental knowledge form.

k) Peasants, adivasis, workers, artisans, pavement retailers and their families (the lokavidyadhar samaj) constitute the informal social existence. It exists side by side of the formal social existence or State. It uses the formal society and associated elite organised knowledge system for its exsistence and creates the stream of fundamental knowledge which is subsequently used by the formal society. People are always `conscious' about their own `knowledge', in their ways. It is the knowledge-fetish, like every fetish, always puts itself as a shackle. So it is not the question of consciosness or claim, but to liberate themselves from the shackle of fetish. It is a matter of long-term struggle/job, not a matter of short-term movement. The mass movements in short-term (even revolutions) may only contribute to this process. We are saying this from our observation of the history of humanity.

l) The strategy/process for the elite social existence must include the deconstruction of knowledge-fetish, the recognition of Lokavidya as fundamental form of knowledge, the dissolution of organised knowledge form into that fundamental form of knowledge. There is a need for reckoning of the elite social existence about its own historical limitation, and destabilize itself.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Agenda Hyderabad Meet 27-28 Feb 2011

Given below is a scheme of the agenda for the meeting on 27-28 Feb. 2011. Filling up the details and also alterations on suggestions from you will go on. However this gives an idea of how and on what themes we are planning to structure the meeting, therefore you may start concentrating on where you come in, in a major way, of course scope for participation generally where ever you desire would always be there.

Also please find the venue details given again below. Outstation participants who want a place to stay may please inform Krishnarajulu immediately.

Proposed Agenda

27th Feb 2011

11:00.-11:30 Welcome, introduction of participants and finalizing the method of participation and discussion

11:30 -1:00 The idea of Lokavidya Jan Andolan
1:00- 2:00 Lunch
2:00- 3:30 Relation between alternatives and Lokavidya

3.30 -3.45 Tea
3:45-5:00 People’s knowledge organizations
5:00- 6:00 Open house-General discussion

28th Feb 2011

10:00-1:00 Building the Lokavidya Jan Andolan
1:00-2:00 Lunch
2:00-4:00 Panel discussion- Is there a politics of lokavidya?
4:00-4:30 Tea
4:30-5:30 Concluding session

The venue of the Vidya Ashram national Meet (27th-28th February 2011) is

Jeevan Jyothi Retreat Home
Street No.2 , Chikoti Gardens
(Lane Opp Shoppers Stop,adjacent to Bus Stop shelter)
Begumpet, Hyderabad 500016
Ph: 040-27762354

The venue is about 6 Kms from Secunderabad station and about 2 Kms from Begumpet station and easily reachable by auto.On entering the lane opposite Shoppers stop i.e Street No.2 Chikoti Gardens, proceed to the end of the street and take a short right turn to reach Jeevan Jyothi Retreat House.

Accomodation is available for outstation participants (for about 20+ persons) at the place and has been booked for 27th and 28th( you can plan to reach on 26th night/27th morning and leave on 28th night/1st morning). Please inform me asap if you need accomodation at the venue. Breakfast , lunch, tea and dinner will be provided at the venue.

Sunil Sahasrabudhey

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Further on the "andolan" aspect of LJA

A few more comments, part in response to the other posts and comments.

1. There is relatively greater clarity on what lokaidya is, its location, its relations with other knowledges, its history, its connection with Gandhi.
2. There is much less clarity and also some discomfort with the idea of a lokavidya andolan.
3. One source of discomfort is to do with the charge of elitism that may be leveled against university-educated folk who want to organize a lokavidya andolan. This is related to the issue brought up by Asokeji when he alludes to the contradiction between using cell phones and extolling adivasi lifestyles.
4. Here the response is simply that leadership and initiative of the LJA in fact cannot come from the university-educated. We are bringing the concept and issue into the public domain, not as leaders of a new agitation, but as interpreters and facilitators.
5. Several people have brought up the issue of the relation between LJA and Gandhi. There is one important difference between khadi and swadeshi etc on the one hand and LJA on the other hand. What is latent/implicit in khadi is overt/explicit in LJA, viz. the idea that this is a struggle over knowledge.
6. So the concrete struggles, be they against displacement, or for forest rights or whatever, don't suddenly change. But we see them differently. We see them as knowledge struggles.
7. The LJA can thus be the confluence of already existing andolans who see that it in in their advantage to cast their struggles also as knowledge struggles.
8. This is not only a matter of perspective. Class struggle derives a new potency from the theory of class exploitation. Gender struggles derive new strength when they become conscious of themselves as such. In both cases self-consciousness brings new allies also.
9. LJA is the people's movement that gains consciousness as a knowledge movement because it sees that without bringing knowledge into debate, the battle in only half fought.
10. The idea of gyan mukti, knowledge liberation, seems to be in tune with the times. The recent meeting of university activists called in Paris by Edu-Factory, has resulted in the formation of a group called the Knowledge Liberation Front.
10. Finally, we may also want to reflect on what the Arab revolts mean for us. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Bahrain show that civil disobedience and non-violent non-cooperation are not only 20th Century ideas. They carry potency today. Despite the dominant trend in the western media to interpret these as struggles for greater Western-style democracy, in fact the implications with regard to the new organization of society which may emerge, are not clear yet.

Amit Basole

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Random Thoughts

These are some random thoughts - reactions to contributions to the blog. Nothing cogent. I suppose that is allowed on a blog.

1. Do we regard LJA as a continuation of Gandhi? I think we have a serious case to do that. But then we cant regard Gandhi's movement as dead. LJA cannot be a continuation of something dead. We will have to connect to specifics in what remains of Gandhian movement. May be the spirit behind khadi which Surendran talks of.

2. The active / positive conception of lok is obviously central to any theoretical / philosophical exercise. It seems to me that the category to which it belongs is materially different from that of the conception of the proletariat. It is nearer to that of human labour. It is 'timeless', if such a thing is allowed. This should be so to the extent that a fresh description / interpretation of history is called for. Also this has something to do with concerns about 'universality' of which timelessness with regard to human societies is surely an attribute. Also this goes well with understanding of history as one of march of human creativity and autonomous nature of this creativity.

3. This autonomy also implies that creative human activity is by its very nature inward looking. It would be impossible to comprehend how lokavidya, its societal form, can be the vehicle for survival in the face of external assault unless it is admitted that the lok is necessarily inward looking. Our case is that the external condition has acquired an overbearing character of such magnitude that this very essence of human creative activity is in danger of extinction. That would be an unthinkable contradiction conjuring up nightmare of robot societies.

4. The perception that people do not want any government is a reflection of that external condition. This perception was actually voiced by the leadership of farmers' movement in Maharashtra. But then it receives a very different meaning when comprehended without an appreciation of the idea of lokavidya.

5. Lok is non-political. Politics is at the interface where lok confronts the external and I think it deeply affects ordinary life. Ordinary life has to engage with politics on a daily basis and from an inferior position. In times like the present this engagement may transform itself into one from an equal / superior position where future of human societies in concerned. The standpoint of lokavidya provides the basis for that transformed political engagement today. This engagement is at the same time purely temporary, eminently required and inevitably christened liberating. We should look at LJA as the effort to define its beginnings.

Girish Sahasrabudhe

Monday, February 21, 2011

On lok vidya

A look at the idea of lok vidya

Naresh Kumar Sharma

Lok Vidya is a synthetic term (as are many other terms having “lok” as a prefix). Gyan and vidya are terms more commonly encountered when we talk of knowledge, whereas lok vidya has been encountered only occasionally in the past. It has been suggested that lok vidya resides among the ordinary people, who again call their knowledge, values etc anything but lok vidya. Hence it is a term trying to convey a new idea. This idea has been with us for well over a decade now – since a time somewhere between the 2nd and the 3rd Congresses of S & T of India (CTSTIs) held at Chennai (then Madras) and Varanasi respectively. The 3rd Congress was also named Lok Vidya Mahadhiveshan. Even while returning from Varanasi to south India, many of friends were grappling with the introduction of this new term “lok vidya” – what it is; what more does it signify compared to traditional S&T ? etc. And that question has remained etched in my mind. When we are pondering over a new initiative, it may be worthwhile to look at the idea at some length. It would be useful to keep the context of emergence of this idea in view.

The CTSTIs came after quite intensive debates, discussions, studies by the PPST group regarding the nature, legitimacy and state of knowledge of Indian society, with particular focus on the knowledge of S&T. These congresses were not only a large scale effort to bring this understanding in to the public domain but also to relate it to the practitioners of this knowledge themselves. The effort brought to the fore the richness of various aspects of “traditional” S&T including practices of various arts, crafts, techniques, technologies etc from past and those in practice today as well as various aspects of theoretical knowledge.

It must be understood that traditional S&T is equally a synthetic phrase, as much as traditional society is. Neither any society calls itself traditional society nor do practitioners of “traditional S&T” call it so. A living and thriving society may talk of its traditions, but that is an altogether different issue. Likewise, possessors and practitioners of a knowledge system may talk about their own traditions, including some specific traditional designs, forms etc. without calling their knowledge itself as traditional knowledge. The phrase also sometimes creates confusion whether one is talking only about the past knowledge. It also had connotations of a certain kind of rigidity and non-adaptability – for example in use of computers in design for handloom industry.

Lok vidya provides a better expression as denoting and connoting knowledge of people of our society. It requires us to look at various aspects of that knowledge, their inter-relationships, its relation to structure of society and its institutions, values of the people etc. In this sense, it largely refers to indigenous knowledge and values. Lok vidya cannot be enumeration or collation of various kinds of knowledge dispersed among the ordinary people, but it consists of a connected whole of knowledge and values of people of any particular area – including large areas such as the country as a whole for some aspects.

It had already fallen into a state of disarray over a century ago and has not yet recovered from that disarray. We see a connection between the state of lives of ordinary people and the state of lok vidya in society. We still need to make efforts to understand the reasons for such state of disarray. As of now, we do not have a good idea of: what enthronement of lok vidya means? how it can come about? How it will change the condition of the people (i.e. what is the mechanism of such change in the condition of the people)? What will be the nature and content of that change? And why the people cannot take their own destiny in their hands? We do have some indications and descriptions on these aspects, but we find much less in terms of analysis to enhance our understanding. Indeed, we know very little about the way people understand each other and our means of analysis are often alien to modes of thinking and understanding of those very ordinary people.

The question of knowledge residing among the ordinary people in relation to organized knowledge has arisen often enough and must be a serious object of our understanding. Today it appears as a question of relation between university knowledge and knowledge in society. In any living and thriving society, this will appear an odd question indeed. A distortion in state of affairs of a society as well as falling in a disarray of its knowledge system makes such an understanding a false one. In a well organized, living, functional and prosperous society, lok vidya cannot be just the knowledge dispersed among its ordinary people. It gets organized and taken to higher levels of understanding and interaction between knowledge among people and organized, abstract, as well as codified knowledge in the repositories created for such purpose must be a perpetual state of affairs. It is hard to imagine that Nalanda and Takshashila or later universities were seen in an adversarial relation with the people of their times. It is also needs to be understood that all the knowledge that gets so organized, abstracted and/or codified does become elite and such institutions are almost always elite (though not necessarily elitist). The important question is: do they continue to serve the purpose of their society?

The disarray and disorientation of knowledge and values of society today is such that the connection and continuity between the knowledge in society and in the university is largely conspicuous by its absence and in a large measure, our universities are themselves quite dysfunctional. Both are damaging to the well-being of society. Enthronement of lok vidya would necessarily require not only re-establishment of healthy and a living relation between knowledge dispersed among the ordinary people and the organized knowledge and sharing of values inherent in the society but also valuing and encouragement of excellence in society.

It may be instructive to recall the comparative picture of Great Britain and India on the eve of colonial rule as well as on the eve of India’s independence, in terms of state of agriculture, irrigation systems, industry, S&T, knowledge about various aspects of everyday practical affairs, education, income levels, condition of labour etc. We are led to inescapable inference that India was enslaved when it fared better on almost all these counts compare to Britain and it attained its freedom, when it fared worse – far worse indeed – on all these counts compared to Britain. How can we make sense of it all? This is where importance of Dharampal’s contribution and Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj lies. Gandhi does not present any great analysis in his “Why was India Lost?”, but certainly important insights which also are relevant for understanding how was India regained.

That task was big, but in some sense easier part. Gandhi laid great stress in building inner strength of the people. Political freedom was only the first step. The main task still remains unfinished. Gandhi treated the constructive programme as training of the satyagrahi-s for the freedom struggle. There is a greater need for character building today. The universities need to be changed, as they are failing in this squarely. It will not be meaningful to talk of lok vidya without bringing in discussion of values relevant for our society as well.

It is in this context that we can try to understand whether lok vidya jan andolan will take us forward. However conceptualized, jan andolan must involve people at large, whether they do andolan through newer electronic means or on the streets. Dharampal’s work tells us something about how such changes came about. In particular, we see the causes for decline of education, S&T, irrigation, agriculture, industry etc in changes brought about in the institutions. In the absence of institutional changes, even large societal upheavals can come to a naught. We do not learn a lot, however from Dharampal’s work, how those institutions could be subverted by the foreign power? There are institutions that help realize certain values, including character building of its children.

I expect that we shall get some clarity on how lok vidya jan andolan can take us forward in realizing some of these goals.

What Do People Want

Some (personal) open questions

The position papers of Amit Basole, Budheyji himself, Krishnarajulu, Chitraji and others are clear about certain issues: that the onslaught of the global digitized society, aided by convergence of communication, media etc।, threatens traditional knowledge and means of livelihood of large part of humanity. The people who are most under threat from this attack are the most "backward", most "left out" of current civilization so to say. Ergo, from classical Marxist point of view, they hold the key to salvation of the entire humanity. Whichever way one looks at the LJA agenda, this is the core issue. How we go about this – how we organize the "people" – is the question that comes next.

The blog / contribution on "Khadi and the semantic web" talked about the 'music of the charkha'. Unfortunately, to many, the music may sound jarring. What was once liberating, revolutionary, may not remain so a hundred years (or nearly so) later. The ground reality has changed. There may be debate about this: how far it has changed, whether it has changed at all. But in my opinion, if we want a large number of the 'middle forces' with us, we cannot look like Luddites. We who use mobile phones, and have personal modes of vehicular transport, may look hypocritical if we chant that the modes of living of the adivasis must remain unaltered.

The name of Gandhi still is inspirational, not the institutions he had founded (has not the same thing happened with Marx ?). Look at KVIC, Gandhi Ashrams and foundations spread all over India : ruins or empty shells. Yet Gandhi, like Marx, remains source of inspiration. It must be the method they used, and not the material.

I keep asking myself what he would have done faced with this problem, which the Govt। (both in Delhi, as well as in Chattisgarh and MP) conveniently terms "maoist menace", and which we know as deliberate loot of natural resources and uprooting of the adivasis, mulvasis.

What Gandhi did before he came into politics (Congress) was, on the advice of Gokhale, he toured the country by train (3rd class). Can we claim we have that 'experience', that we know what people from this or that part of our nation really want ?

The knowledge question comes 'easily' to us, at least to those of us who are in academia, trained in arguments on abstruse concepts. To a villager or an adivasi being displaced, whether from construction of a dam, or from setting up of a mine or a factory, the primary question is (i) finding food and shelter for the whole family, and (ii) to ensure continuation of the same, at least for some time.

If these needs of an individual become collective needs of a large number of people, they become more difficult to ignore and bypass. That is being done by NBA, NAPM etc. Individuals are also writing about these issues, sensitizing a lot of readers about problems faced by fellow countrymen.

It is also being debated (at least in some corners), why large scale social experiments can be carried out in the Central and South Americas but not in our subcontinent। Is it because our polity is so divided that we are not accustomed to think of the needs of the nation as a whole ? "If Bengalis think of Bengal only, if Punjabis think of Punjab....then who will think of India ?" Is this to be the lasting British legacy that we must bear : Gandhi vs Ambedkar, Gandhi vs Periyar ?

We must find some answers to these problems. Otherwise, the movement ahead will be bumpier.

On the positive side, we have a lot of the intelligentsia and young people, students etc। who are coming out to protest against injustice. Spontaneous demonstrations are organized whenever there is apparent miscarriage of justice, atrocity on weaker sections etc. I particularly liked an article by D. Raja of the CPI against the Kalinganagar firing last year. These people ought to be contacted and their opinions taken.

There are also some positive signs from other places: movement towards more local economy (abolishing money as medium of exchange), Transition movement, etc। are some of the hopeful signs (perhaps). These are not confined to North America or Europe, but are also taking place in Kenya, in Phillipines, in many other places. Should we be in touch with these people also, as with the World Social Forum ? We must have pamphlets explaining our position in various languages, and use the media (the net especially) for such purpose. Paradoxical?

I needed to express what I have been thinking, feeling for quite some time. This is certainly not to put any dampener before the talks. That is why I am sending this to Budheyji first.

In solidarity with whatever decision is taken together in the meeting,

Asoke P. Chattopadhyay

Kalyani, West Bengal

P.S. The last blog (LJA and / or Gyan Mukti ?) is critical and one may find some overlap of the present one with it.

( It is posted here by me. Needless to say that no changes were made, except that the title What Do People Want is given by me; Asoke had not given any. Budhey )

Sunday, February 20, 2011

LJA -its meaning and import

“Khadaa hoon aaj bhi roti ke char harf liye

Sawaal yeh hai ki kitaaboan ne kya diya mujhko”

The debate on LJA is kind of very high on the intellectual plane. Not very sure whether ‘lok-vidhyarthy’ or any one of us would need that kind of philosophizing to understand ground realities in the social, socio-economical, and socio-political planes of , say, 90 crores of people in this part of the world.

The most visible and ubiquitous, in that part of the world, is poverty and the indignities of life that go along with it leading to total negation of their identity in the predominant section of the Indian society. It is not difficult to observe all this and not so difficult to un-earth the reasons for the same.

What I understand of LJA is that there is this need for this mass of 90 crores to evolve themselves in to a dignified society that resurrects their identity. For this to happen, they would have to look inwards rather than expecting the other world to bail them out.

If, indeed, the arts of, weaving, spinning, dyeing, steel making, soap & salt making, agricultural production etc., have survived the onslaught of the other world, then looking inwards may be a real possibility. These arts cannot be expected to be flourishing, but if the knowledge has not disappeared a beginning in the real world can be attempted.

I would say that the cause of poverty is that the people are not allowed to do that they are capable of; or cannot do because the circumstances are not conducive for them to practice their art. Therefore, if they get to practise their art then most of the questions related to their life shall find answers.

To look inwards to resolve the issues related to their very existence would implicitly have seeds of ‘disobedience’ & ‘non-cooperation’ that would become explicit and a challenge to the ‘modern’ sections of the society and their protagonists, if only over a period of time their skills can be harnessed to be useful and productive in their closed society with defined contours.

We need to initiate a meaningful & relevant (to the circumstances) intercourse with this mass of 90 crores to understand how various mechanisms can be put in place so that their skills become useful to them and their surroundings.

The starting premise is ‘I have not been an element in the schemes of socio-economic development of independent India till date and therefore, there is no reason why I should hope to be that element in future; therefore I resolve to be a useful element amongst the likes of me so that likes of me come to live a dignified life and become capable of asserting our collective identity.’

The deprived ones can be made to understand this premise by initiating a very intense dialogue with them. Concomitant with this dialogue should be some programmes that help mitigate their immediate concerns. In doing so, our own identities need to necessarily merge with theirs enabling them to perceive us as a part of them & not as outside sympathizers.

In my understanding, if the skills have to be harnessed then we need to determine a viable unit of ‘a number of villages’ where over a period of time their respective produce finds a market. While this may be possible to do; more important than this is their resolve to progressively boycott the goods that are not produced by them, so that their own produce is consumed. For example, if salt, over a period of time, can be produced by them in sufficient measure to meet with the requirements of their internal consumption, then there onwards the outside salt would be fully boycotted by them.

This kind of peoples’ movement will indeed be seen as an upcoming threat to the hegemony of the ruling class (at all the hierarchies of their existence) and is bound to face repression from them. Only the collective resolve of the people can blunt the repressive machinery; that is why the collective ‘resolve’ to defy the establishment to protect the new mechanisms of new world is more important and in that people like us would be in the fore front.

The fate of agitations –peaceful or otherwise- in independent India is known to all. I am sure that there is no reason why the ruling class would be impelled to give an ear to the demands (howsoever well articulated) of this mass of 90 crores. This mass has no strength to bargain with the other world and therefore this all important need to look inwards.

In the Vijayawada meet, I did put my thoughts to the members on the similar lines as above. I also told them that the day they reject wearing shirt & pant and accord respectability to their traditional way of dressing up that day their world would have emerged out of oblivion with an identity that the ‘modern world’ may follow too.

I draw strength in my thought process from the fact that I do not know how much Gandhi ji theorized before deciding to fight against injustice in South Africa!!

Lalit K Kaul

(0) 9490758622

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Addenda: The idea of Gyan Mukti


With apologies for leaving the last post unsigned (Lokavidya Jan Andolan and/or Gyan Mukti), I would like to add a couple of hints about what is meant by the idea of Gyan Mukti (Emancipation of knowledge) by reproducing excerpts from earlier Vidya Ashram documents.

1. From the Vidya Ashram pamphlet in Hindi 'Gyan Mukti Awahan'

GYAN MUKTI DARSHAN (The idea of emancipation of knowledge)

1. Knowledge is not an industry

2. Knowledge is not for profit

3. Knowledge is not the private property of anyone

4. Knowledge is not an instrument of exploitation

5. Exploitation of knowledge is a crime against humanity

6. Knowledge is the means for reconstruction of humanity and society

7. Gyan Samajhit ki Dharohar hai (help in translation required)

8. Knowledge is means of livelihood

9. Knowledge is the source of strength and liberation of humanity and society

10. All streams of knowledge deserve equal respect

2. From the VA document 'Autonomous Global University (AGU)'

"Twentieth century has been a century of knowledge production. It has also been a century of unprecedented violence. The knowledge that we produce is eventually turned against ourselves and against the whole society. While this was also true of the modern university, knowledge society that is in the making now seems to be singularly designed to appropriate knowledge and turn it against the producers of knowledge in the service of global capital and global machineries of violence.

AGU values all kinds of labour and all kinds of knowledge equally. AGU looks at knowledge as a means of reconstruction of society and individuals. AGU looks at knowledge as means of liberation, livelihood, culture. AGU thus works for the recognition and representation of all forms of knowledge in society. AGU seeks to step out on the periphery of time and gaze into the future. It seeks to build an imagination of the future society which is not just a variant of global capitalism. Through its activities it seeks to create idioms of global emancipatory transformations.

AGU looks at why our knowledge is turned against ourselves. It seeks to build solidarities across borders of the university and within the universities, solidarity of all bearers and producers of knowledge. It is not a bastion of creativity and production. It is an organ of dialogue, solidarity and organization. It seeks to organize the relatively empowered section of knowledge producers which are located in the university in order to challenge the global mechanisms of exploitation and violence. It seeks to expose the ways and means by which knowledge becomes an instrument of profit and a weapon against society. AGU seeks to emancipate knowledge from this condition."

Avinash Jha