Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In Continuation with Gandhi

There have been TWO significant mass movements during the last 100 years.
Movements that have touched every household, every gram panchayat, every mohalla, that is, every ordinary man. Though different people might have taken different positions vis-a-vis these movements - active participation, active support, active opposition etc; no one could ignore them. That is why I say they were significant. The first was the Independence movement led by Gandhiji- it was an assertion of Lokavidya against the Macualay-based mindset of the rulers and their Indian allies(Nehru, Ambedkar included) and was based on a demand of Swaraj.

The second was (and has been) an assertion of Lokavidya-based identity and has been based on the demand for a greater share in the spoils of modern life and economy to the claimants of this identity. Neither movement has set itself the goal of Purna Swaraj; the first died with Independence and the death of Gandhiji while the second has been limping along with a begging bowl.

With the advent of globalisation(as the Varanasi Statement states) the lines have been clearly drawn. It is increasingly becoming obvious to everyone that there are indeed two worlds.Every movement that one sees- of farmers against land acquisition, against seed monopoly, against terrible terms of trade etc., of tribals against forest acquisition/destruction, of artisans of all types who find their skills and produce of no value, of small traders whose livelihood was centred around the goodwill of the client and not on some shrewd market manouvering, of rural educated youth having to face competition in the terribly loaded unequal battlefield of urban employment- clearly shows the need for a movement for a reassertion of Lokavidya, to lend support to the demand of Lokavidyadhar Samaj for a right to live a life of dignity based on Lokavidya, for a movement for the establishment of a society based on equality of opportunity(not necessarily equality of result) and justice. This is what LJA is all about.

Whenever I speak to people connected with different movements, I am always able to connect them to the central idea of LJA and the response has always been positive. Can we get all these people to think along the lines of LJA ? Can we weave them into a agitational web for achieiving what Gandhiji, among others, set out to do? I think this can be done. For a start, we must construct the LJA basis for every major agitation that is going on today and put these ideas together so that we have a compilation that substantiates the theoretical basis of inequality and exploitation that we have propounded.

Lokavidyadhar Samaj itself seems to be in tatters,completely despondent and on the verge of total collapse. Without doubt it needs to find itself and assert its existence and LJA may just about help it do that.

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    There are many among us who are apparently upset over a slogan that was used with regard to Lokavidya assertion. That slogan said ¨down with the walls of the University¨. The University represents the modern knowledge system and the slogan clearly implied that the Macaulay-like (iconoclastic) attitude of University knowledge (and its practitioners) vis-a-vis Lokavidya (and Lokavidyadhar Samaj) need to be debunked so that Lokavidya could move towards relegitimisation and that its relation to and interaction with modern knowledge could be redefined in a truly people-oriented way. This is not to be seen as a contradiction (in the Marxist framework) or as a thesis-antithesis type situation. There is a ´contradiction´, however, in that the ´walls´ have prevented the growth and development of Lokavidya and the first requisite ,for all of us who are practitioners of modern knowledge, is to bring them down for ourselves in the first instance.

    All of us have be ´brought up´ in the modern knowledge system and live by it. Minus our University education we may not be able to define any constructive societal role for ourselves and , in a reversed situation, would probably have been forced to enroll in the ranks of NREGA!
    Look at Lokavdiyadhar Samaj(the dalits and tribals included), they live by Lokavdiya, thats their world and every one of them, without the need of any external agency, can, in principle, define a constructive societal role for themselves even today. The external agency is the modern State and its apparatuses (University etc)- as oppressive as it can be. It appears to me that this is the crutch on which we depend not them.

    When Gandhiji talked of Purna Swaraj (or Mao of struggle from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom) he meant freedom from the bondage of ´certified´ knowledge, accredited institutionalised labour and pre-conceived notions of intrinsic inequality (caste, race, religion etc).
    LJA then, is that movement for the reassertion of Lokavidya that would lead to a new realm of freedom and equality.


  2. All of us have ...NREGA! Well not exactly. That is why Cultural Revolution failed in a sense. The class which disseminates knowledge for ruling ( upper castes) do not easily choose to be the class which learns / disseminates the knowledge for services ( lower castes). This dichotomy will exist forever as long as the state is strong. So may be , the service based knowledge must discover a method of destroying the state! And may be it will