Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Basic Questions Re-addressed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunil Sahasrabudhey

Saturday, June 14, 2014

This article was written (and published) for Lokavidya Prapancham, our Telugu fortnightly. It is being reproduced here for comments from other readers


The elections mark a victory for Narendra Modi. Even the other 280 BJP  candidates(MPs) who won can attribute their victory to Narendra Modi. Large sections of Lokavidyadhar Samaj, especially in UP and Bihar have voted for Narendra Modi, probably with the hope that his government  would address some of the many problems (of existence) that they face today. During the past six months other individuals, especially those of the Aam Aadmi Party, have also won elections. There is a striking similarity in what all these people and Modi have in common. They are ALL identified as non-corrupt and primarily 'committed' to non-corrupt governance. The Anna Hazare movement against corruption set the scene for the remarkable victory of candidates against whom there are no charges of corruption. The anti-corruption movement seems to have struck a chord in the rank and file of Lokavidyadhar Samaj and they voted accordingly.

In all states, apart from the southern states and West Bengal, the vote was, in the main, for non-corrupt governance being offered by Modi. In Punjab, the corrupt Akali Dal government, whose ally was BJP, performed miserably at the polls and the people elected AAP candidates who had a non-corrupt  record. In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress fared very well because like Modi ordinary people see Mamta Banerjee as non-corrupt. In Odissa too, BJD also has a  non-corrupt track record. In the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala people voted for relatively non-corrupt candidates/parties.

A relatively large section of 'Backward' castes, Muslims and Dalits in UP and Bihar, who form a sizable section of Lokavidyadhar Samaj, seem to have voted for BJP candidates in UP and Bihar this time. In contrast, in Hyderabad, the Muslims comprising largely of artisans, small traders/shopkeepers and those engaged in semi-skilled manual-labour in the modern sector, have voted  for a  party that speaks only about the  concerns of the Muslim community maybe because they had no alternative non-corrupt party/candidates to choose from. They did not get swayed by the Modi 'wave'.

The youth (first-time voters) have also largely voted for Narendra Modi. This section of society has received modern education and are socially and economically upward-mobile. They do not think in terms of Lokavidya- modern education has almost completely alienated them from Lokavidya. Choosing between candidates/parties on the basis of caste, creed, religion, region etc are not primary criteria for them. A modern developmental agenda, with a no-corruption tag, appeals to them. Their concerns do not necessarily cover the plight of Lokavidyadhar Samaj and most of them believe that modern technology, especially Information Technology, will provide  solutions to ALL problems faced by ordinary people. China is a leading example of this perception.

It is also to be noted that many respected socio-political activists who have led and participated in many pro-Samaj movements during the past decades have NOT been elected even in constituencies where they did grass-root level work. This clearly points to the fact that this form of representative democracy(involving a great 'distance' between people and representatives) is not being seen by the Samaj as a route to liberation. This points to the need for a more grass-root form of democracy (Gram Panchayat etc) involving local representatives only and may be supported by the Samaj.

The capitalist enterprise- centralised capitalist production and an expanding capitalist market- has nutured a huge all-pervading corrupt class of politicians and bureaucrats. The capitalists have been working their programmes and executing their plans by encouraging this corrupt class. The people of the Samaj have been bearing the brunt of the development agenda of the capitalists through widespread displacement, resulting in loss of livelihoods, denial of access to 'modern education' and alienation from Lokavidya. The 'face' of this destructive agenda, that the members of the Samaj see, are those of the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, especially  at village and panchayat level.
The Anna Hazare movement and the Aam Aadmi Party victory at Delhi that followed, have apparently gone a long way in raising the hopes of the Samaj for a new era of non-corrupt governance.  The recent election results clearly point towards this.

This however, does not imply that there will be any slowdown in capitalist market expansion or that there will be a moderation in exploitation of natural resources for the capitalist industry. There will consequently be no reduction in displacement of farmers and tribals from land and forests and fisherfolk from small water bodies and swamplands. In fact, in all probability there will be a more vigorous expansion of the capitalist enterprise and more misery for the Samaj.

The media, which is controlled by big business interests, has been vociferously (and successfully) campaigning for Modi. The entire election campaign focussed on 'development' and good governanace and the public were made to believe that both these would be delivered in full measure by the Modi government. Apart from the campaign by the 'secular' parties about communal agenda of BJP , the media did not touch upon the socio-economic plight of Lokavidydhar Samaj consequent to the development agenda of the UPA government. In fact, the thrust of the campaign was to highlight the fact that this very development agenda was derailed by the lack of good governance and extreme corruption!

It is therefore very likely that in the near future, the condition of the Samaj is going to become more bleak. The plan to rapidly 'urbanise' the population will lead to large-scale displacement and the growth of urban slums and social unrest. The plan to increase growth rate (which means push capitalist production to the extreme) will result in greater exploitation of natural resources and destruction of the natural environment. All sections of the Samaj will become more enslaved to the urbanised popoulation. Farmers will be forced to quit farming or adopt high cost 'modern cultivation methods( based on GM seeds, fertilizers, pesticides etc). Artisans will be completely wiped out of the production map. Small shopkeepers will also be pushed out of business in greater and greater numbers (with the push for FDI in retail). Dalits and tribals will be 'liberated' into the new slavery and become co-consumers of the capitalist market.

The tasks ahead

The opening up of political  'space' for non-corrupt governance is where the LJA agenda can find a foothold.  The core demand of LJA i.e. that each working person, irrespective of his knowledge and skills, gets at least a minimum wage equivalent to what is paid to a  Government employee; can be put forth with full vigour as the basic demand of the Samaj. This will strengthen the emergence of a Lokavidya-based identity that would help transcend caste, regional, gender and religious identity that have hitherto greatly affected the unity of the Samaj. This would also bring into sharp focus the knowledge-divide and the great socio-economic divide that pervades our society.

LJA should spread deep and wide into the Lokavidyadhar heartlands pressing its basic demand. There should be a concerted campaign to make people aware of the denial of the fundamental right to 'live by Lokavidya'. All entitlements as per existing Acts, laws and regulations such as Panchayat control over local natural resources, free access to education and  health, equitable distribution of natural resources such as water, electricity, spectrum etc; should be simultaneously pressed for. Widespread mobilisation against unjust displacement should be planned whenever necessary. Local markets should be established and strengthened.

All aspects of its 'weaknesses' (division and conflict based on caste, creed, religion, region, language etc) will be exploited by the ruling classes to their advantage and NOT for the liberation of the Samaj. So, a  movement to create a sense of awareness of the current state of affairs of the Samaj and its emerging relationship with the ruling classes and their development agenda, needs to be widely carried out. This is possible ONLY if Lokavidyadhar Samaj can see a hope of reorgansing itself again on the basis of equality and its inherent strength i.e Lokavidya. The agenda of LJA  will be defined in terms of movements aimed at creating this awareness.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

जन संघर्षों में एकता की पहल

7 -8 जून 2014 की बैठक की संक्षिप्त रिपोर्ट
विद्या आश्रम ,सारनाथ वाराणसी, उ0प्र0

जन संघर्षों में एकता की पहल विषय पर 7 -8 जून 2014 को एक बैठक विद्या आश्रम ,सारनाथ वाराणसी, उ0प्र0 में आयोजित की गयी थी, जिसमे उत्तर प्रदेश ,बिहार ,मध्य प्रदेश व दिल्ली के करीब 50 साथिओं ने भाग लिया था। इस बैठक की पहल विद्या आश्रम और संघर्ष 2014 ने किया  और इसकी परिकल्पना वाराणसी में चुनाव अभियान के आख़री दिन 10 मई को की गयी थी । वाराणसी और आसपास की क्षेत्र में आम चुनाव के दरमियान संघर्ष 2014 द्वारा शुरू की गयी 15 दिन व्यापी अभियान में कई संगठनों,समुदायों  और व्यक्तिओं के साथ कंपनी राज व अन्य बुनियादी मुद्दों पर नियमित चर्चा चलती रही जो की चुनाव के समय में भी और चुनाव बाद की परिस्थिति के लिए प्र्रसांगिक हैं । हालांकि मुख्य पार्टियां उन मुद्दों पर कोई ठोस चर्चा नही कर रहें थे। उसी माहौल में ही यह तय किया गया था की इस चर्चा की प्रक्रिया को चुनाव के बाद की स्थिति में भी आगे ले जाना होगा और एक निष्कर्ष निकालकर कोई सामूहिक कार्यक्रम भी शुरू करना होगा ।  इस प्रक्रिया को आगे ले जाने के लिए मुख्य रूप से तीन संगठनो की सहमति बनी थी ।  संघर्ष 2014 की मुख्य आधार धरती माँ की सुरक्षा है, और विद्या आश्रम के लिए लोक विद्या प्रणाली को स्थापित करना तथा युवा भारत आम आदमी पार्टी की एवं जन-राजनैतिक प्रक्रिया में प्रभावी हस्तक्षेप करना है ।  इन बहुआयामी उद्देश्यों को एक खाका में लाने के लिए जनप्रयासों को मजबूत करने हेतु  व्यापक और बिस्तृत चर्चा की जरुरत सभी ने महसूस किया था और इस प्रक्रिया को आगे चलाने की निर्णय लिया गया था। इसी जरूरत के अनुसार 7 -8 जून 2014 की बैठक तय की गयी थी जिसमे विभिन्न्न क्षेत्रों में कार्यरत कार्यकर्तागण व समुदायों की प्रतिनिधिगण ने भाग लिया । 
बैठक में पहला मुद्दा चुनाव परिणाम और उसके बाद की स्थिति का विश्लेषण रहा जिसपर लगभग सभी साथी ने गंभीरता के साथ अपने अपने  विचार रखे । कुछ साथिओं ने इस पर कुछ महत्तपूर्ण सुझाव भी रखे । यह चर्चा काफी लम्बी रही व दिन भर चली जिसके बाद कुछ ठोस निष्कर्ष भी निकले । उल्लेखनीय बात ये थी की कोई भी साथी मौजदा हालत के दबाव  में नही हंै बल्कि व्यवस्था से लड़ने के लिए उत्साहित हंै । ये बाते सामने आई की मौजूदा सरकार बड़े बड़े देशी विदेशी कंपनियों के दबाव में हैं, और इन्हीं के फायदे के लिए काम भी करेगी । इसी लिए अब संघर्ष सीधा पूंजीवादी और प्रभुत्ववादी शक्तिओं के साथ है। और यह संघर्ष जनांदोलनों और जनसंगठनों को ही मुख्य रूप से लड़ना होगा । क्योंकि मौजूदा मुख्य राजनैतिक पार्टियां अब पूंजीवादी ताकतों के खिलाफ नही लड़ सकती ,ऐसे संघर्ष के लिए उनके संगठोनों में ताकत नही है और न ही जनसमुदायों  के  साथ उनका कोई सीधा राजनैतिक सम्बन्ध है। बल्कि ये सारी पार्टियां बिचैलियों के ज़रिये से काम करती हैं । राजनैतिक नेतृत्व के साथ लोगों का कोई सीधा रिश्ता नही है । लिहाजा  पूंजीवादी और प्रभुत्ववादी शक्तिओं के खिलाफ निर्णायक संघर्ष संगठित जनपहल से ही हो सकती है । इस निर्णायक संघर्ष को ज़मीनी स्तर  पर और वैचारिक स्तर पर भी लड़ना होगा। ये पूंजीवादी शक्ति भी पुराने तरीके से नही चल रही है नए नए तरीका इस्तेमाल कर रहे  हैं इसीलिए इन शक्तिओं के खिलाफ संघर्ष भी पुराने तरीके से नही लड़ा जा सकता है । नए तरीके का इजाफा करना होगा जिसके लिए नई राजनैतिक  आयाम  भी तैयार करना होगा । भूमंडलीकरण ,नवउदारवादी राजनैतिक अर्थशास्त्र के चलते आज पूंजी आधारित विकास मॉडल को ही अनिवार्य माना जा रहा है और तमाम सरकारी और बौद्धिक संस्थानें इससे ग्रस्ति है । इसके पलट में वैकल्पिक व्यवस्था का स्वरुप तैयार करना होगा जो श्रम और  लोक विद्या आधारित ज्ञान सम्पदा  पर आधारित होगा । जबकि आज श्रम पूंजी के कब्जे में है और लोक विद्या भी संस्थागत पूंजीवादी टेक्नोलॉजी के बोझतले दबी हुई है । श्रम को पूंजी से आज़ाद करने के लिए और लोक विद्या को सही मकाम पर स्थापित करने हेतु एक नया वैचारिक संघर्ष शुरू करना होगा और उसी संघर्ष से वैकल्पिक व्यवस्था का खाका भी निकलेगा जो एक टिकाऊ और दूरगामी विचारों को स्थापित करेगा । 

इस  चर्चा के  बाद इन्ही मूलभूत बिन्दुओ पर विस्तार से चर्चा हुई और भविष्य की कार्यक्रमों पर बातचीत शुरू हुई । करीब दो घंटे की गहन चर्चा के बाद एक ठोस कार्य योजना तय की गयी जो निम्नलिखित है -

  • जन संघर्षों में एकता की पहल के शीर्षक पर एक मुहीम शुरू की जाएगी जो एक साल तक चलेगी । इस मुहीम का वैचारिक आधार धरती माँ की रक्षा, लोक विद्या का राजनैतिक और शैक्षिक क्षेत्रों में प्रतिष्ठित होना तथा जन-राजनैतिक प्रक्रिया को     मजबूत करना होगा । 
  • मुहीम को व्यापक स्तर पर ले जाने के लिए बैठक ,सम्मलेन ,गोष्ठी आदि आयोजित की जाएगी जिसमे आम कार्यकर्ता आसानी से भाग ले सकें । 
  •  सरल भाषा में लेखन सामग्री  तैयार करना होगा। 
  •  इस मुहीम की शुरुआत कैमूर क्षेत्र से होगी। कैमुर 5 राज्यों उ.प्र.,बिहार ,झारखण्ड,म.प्र. और छत्तीसगढ़ में फैला हुआ है ।  इन 5 राज्यों में वहां के क्षेत्रीय संगठनों को भी इस मुहीम में जोड़ना  होगा। यह तय हुआ कि इन पांचों राज्यों में आगामी एक वर्ष में जनसम्मेलन करना होगा। इस मुहिम की शुरूआत बिहार के कैमूर जिला के अधौरा प्रखंड़ से 18 व 19 अगस्त 2014, प्रबुद्ध सामाजिक चिंतक डा0 विनयन की पुण्यतिथि से होगी। 
  • इस मुहिम का संपर्क केन्द्र सिंगरौली म0प्र0 में होगा।
  • इस पूरे मुहिम को संचालन करने के लिए 14 सदस्यीय एक संचालन समिति का गठन किया गया जिसमें ज़मीनी स्तर के     कार्यकर्ता और समुदाय के प्रतिनिधि शामिल हैं। 
अशोक चौधरी 
संघर्ष 2014 

बैठक के कुछ फोटो 

विचार विमर्श का एक दृश्य 

अंतिम सत्र में बोलते हुए सुनील सहस्रबुद्धे  (ऊपर) और अशोक चौधरी (नीचे)

विद्या आश्रम 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Following is an invitation to June 28-29 2014 Nagpur, announced earlier on this blog. Meeting convened by LJA. Attached is also the Agenda for the meeting.

Lokavidya Jan-Aandolan, Nagpur

D-1, Vrutta Srushti Sankul, Near Bole Petrol Pump,
Tel: 09422559348, 09890336873
East High Court Road, Dharampeth, Nagpur 440010
Email: ljamaharashtra@gmail.com
Blog: http://lokavidyajanandolan.blogspot.com/
Website: http://vidyaashram.org

Invitation to Meeting of

Organizations of Lokavidya Samaaj and Peoples' Movements

[10.30 AM, 28 June -- 04.00 PM, 29 June, 2014]


Vinoba Vichar Kendra, Amravati Road,

Near Bole Petrol Pump, Dharampeth,

Nagpur 440010

Reapected Sir / Madam,

During the past few months the country witnessed the heat and dust of the process of general elections. The results have brought to the fore an almost total political marginal-ization of peoples' movements. A new government is in power as a result of an urge for change, absence of alternatives and in complete absence of even a semblance of any national debate on economic and social policy. Peoples' movements in the country not only do not expect any radical departure from post-1990 economic policies pursued by successive central governments, but, on the other hand, apprehend a deepening of the same policy and its consequences. Among the activists of these movements there is a wide perception of an urgent need for new perspectives in formulation of peoples' questions. All are in search of ideas, which may provide a basis for unity as well as for politics of emergence of a society honouring social equality and justice. Lokavidya Jan Aandolan is an initiative in service of this need.

Dominant political practice revolves around the idea of development. All major and minor political parties and organizations speak the idiom of development. So do most of the peoples' movements, albeit with a humanitarian tempering of the idea. However, the very idea is fraught with two presumptions, which command a central position in it. The rst is that people are illiterate, ignorant, incapable, and so poor and weak. The second is that they need external agencies and forces to educate and develop their communities and so liberate them from the pervasive darkness of ordinary life. No amount of humanitarian tempering and patronization of people for their skills has ever dislodged these presumptions.

Lokavidya Jan Aandolan believes that people are knowledgeable. They live and or-ganize their societies by their knowledge. The central political reality today is that large sections of people have managed their lives entirely on the basis of their own knowledge of land, forest, water, environment, materials, economics, markets, management, culture, justice and truth. They do this in the face of severely repressive external conditions created by state policy, global markets, administrative apathy and natural calamities. It is this reality that provides a thread common to people in struggles led by peoples' organizations. This is their strength. It is essential to see that for them the politics of development, at best a ghostly shadow of radical politics of the past, is in fact a mere web  of deceit and fraud.    

Peoples' questions can be successfully addressed only in and by peoples' movements. A widespread peoples' movement needs rethinking peoples' questions from a fresh beginning. Lokavidya Jan Aandolan believes that strength in peoples' knowledge (lokavidya) is the nucleus for a unifying political idea for peoples' movements. The idiom of development should be discarded and search for a unifying idiom, that captures this strength to think and reformulate peoples' questions, should begin.

On this background Lokavidya Jan Aandolan, Nagpur is organizing a Meeting of peo-ples' movements and organizations of lokavidya samaaj, that is of farmers, dalit-aadivasis, artisans, women and small shop-owners. The Meeting will discuss formulation of peo-ples' questions with the above perspective. The discussions on the second day will center around two points in order to focus on peoples' knowledge and its potential for social regeneration. These are as under.

  1. Working by ones own knowledge and abilities, everyone must be assured of a minimum income, which is not less than the minimum wages laid down by pay commissions constituted from time to time by the govern-ment for the organized sector;

  1. Unequal distribution of national resources on the basis of supposedly progressive science and technology, economics and modern management practices must stop and these resources, namely education, health ser-vices, electricity, water and nance, must be distributed equally.

We cordially invite you to the Meeting. Your thought and your experience of peoples' organization and struggles will make a huge contribution to the Meeting and help it reach a fruitful programmatic conclusion.

With regards,

Vijay Jawandhia
Girish Sahasrabudhe
Vilas Bhongade

The Agenda for the Meeting:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dialogue with Government, Political Opposition and/or Movements ?

I wish to say that Modi's victory is not the most important feature of these elections. The most important feature is the empty space that has resulted due to strictly fractured opposition. It seems to us that the cause of both, Modi/BJP emerging victorious and a fractured opposition, lies mainly in the disturbance created in Indian politics by the Anti-Corruption Movement and the rise of Aam Admi Party (AAP). It seems that a new stage has been inaugurated at the Center and what occupies the empty space referred to above is most likely to determine the future course of Indian politics and whether and to what extent it is going to attend to the needs of people's world, the world of lokavidya samaj. It is understanding of some of these things that will help shape LJA strategies in times to come.

We can start with the assumption that Indian polity, specifically the one shaping in and from Delhi, is not going to be uni-polar. Processes that target to fill the empty space at the Center presently created, shall become the other pole(s). There are three possibilities that present themselves : (i) Congress recovers to reasonable strength,  (ii) Regional or state level parties develop effective coordination among themselves and (iii) AAP charts a course to become much bigger and effective than it is presently. Long arguments can be constructed in favour of one or the other in terms of both the possibility and desirability, but these two may often be at odds with each other. Although in the case of Congress many of us may find it both not possible and not desirable, but in the second case many of us may think that it is desirable but may not see how it can happen in light of what has been happening on that front for long now, these elections included. The case of AAP is interesting. Talking to many in this period of about three weeks since election results have come, the considered views on both the possibility and desirability of AAP gaining strength are highly divided. There are those who think that the political disturbance will continue, AAP or no AAP, and that is what is important for lokavidya samaj to continue its search of new bases of a people oriented political imagination. And there are those, who see that the rise of AAP signals strengthening of Delhi based politics which would have serious negative impact on regional politics, where actually politics ought to reside. Then there are those who think that AAP is a long term proposition and it is not necessary that AAP remain an outfit with command based in Delhi, it can also grow into a federal formation and perhaps there are some indications of this in election results and what has been happening since then. The LJA concern chiefly ought to be how to engage on its terms with the processes that shape to fill the gap created in opposition. And let us not forget that LJA is a Knowledge Movement, not a political movement. I am afraid that if it harbors dreams of becoming political then we may not be able to build the Knowledge Movement of the people that we have set out to do with LJA. न माया मिलेगी न राम।

I have chosen not to argue issue by issue with Kaul's propositions. It is not a question of liking or not liking Modi. The policies have started unfolding - 100% FDI in defense production, internal security on high priority, almost unconditional environment clearances for large projects, 100 cities of world level facilities, bullet trains, etc. Is not lokavidya samaj going to pay the price of all this? We have always held the view that seeing BJP as a communal party was and is the interest of certain classes in this society, whereas in our understanding it has over the period become the party of big business in India, partly competing with and  displacing Congress from that coveted position. 'Communalism' and 'Secularism' seem to represent the two tactics of Indian Big Business, either way they are at the helms of affairs. One can engage in detailed debates on what Congress, BJP/Jansangh, Communists, Socialists and the regional politics before and after Mandal have done to the people of this Nation. It is important but one cannot talk about all history all the time. If anything is strictly different about this election then it is this that Modi and the organizations that backed him actually mopped up the possible advantage resulting by the unsettlment of polity created by AAP. AAP raised issues that were bigger than it could handle and so those who had the organization to do it, did it. The entire election scene was permeated by the issues, methods and discourses unleashed by the Anti-Corruption Movement and the AAP, the victories and the defeats all owe it to that.
This is a sign of new times. The Indian phenomenon may be understood better if we take the context of what has been happening in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, from 2008 to the writing of this post. We should also be able to see what is common in all these and not get bogged down in the specifics of each case however important they may be for immediate political development in these places. For last two decades new classes are shaping and are rising to prominence globally through appropriation of the economic and social command. They are asserting their way for their share in political command of society, so these disturbances and huge uncertainties.

I would tend to agree with Krishnarajulu in that we need to take the ideas of the Multai Declaration to the public realm.
In brief it is :
  • To live by lokavidya is the birth-right of every human being. So stop all displacement.
  • Hierarchy in the world of knowledge is totally unjust. Those who live by lokavidya must get as much return as the modern educated do. 
  • Everybody must have an equal share in national resources - electricity, water, finance, health and education. 
  • Local society must control local systems-governance, market, resources, all. 
  • There should be a media school in every village. This is a nav-nirman effort to enable the village youth in the representation, communication and articulation of the standpoint of the village, the lokavidya standpoint. 
These ideas constitute our terms for dialogue with politics. For Multai Declaration see blogpost dated 21st January 2014 ( Link : http://lokavidyajanandolan.blogspot.in/search?updated-max=2014-01-26T01:07:00%2B05:30&max-results=2&start=2&by-date=false ). Also see the small Hindi booklet published on the occasion of the Multai Conference . Link:http://vidyaashram.org/papers/Jansangharsh_Unity_%20Multai_Conf.pdf 

The process of this dialogue has been started from the Varanasi Meeting on 7-8 June. We should be able to report it on this blog by tomorrow.  The meeting in Nagpur on 28-29 June provides occasion for many of us to meet and discuss at length the new challenge.

Sunil Sahasrabudhey
Vidya Ashram, Varanasi

Sunday, June 8, 2014

LJA and Modi

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Debate Continues

[ With Kaul responding with vigor, there are more responses. However these are by regular contributors to this blog. Welcome as they are, we look forward to wider participation. So this is to request all who are seeing this blog to come in with their views. This debate, as Krishnarajulu suggests, is likely to influence in important ways the future course of LJA. 
The notes below were received through mails. Please write directly on the blog, not as comment but as post. Comments apparently do not go directly to the mail boxes of subscribers. To write a post subscribers need to go through 'Sign In' given at the right top on the blog.         - LJA Secretariat ]

Mohini Mullick , Delhi ,  June 5, 2014 

I want to come in on one or two points of the debate that has started on the assumption that it was largely the the LokVidyadhar samaj  that voted Modi in. We must not forget that the 330+ seats of the NDA were won on 31% of the votes polled. The opposition was severely fractured. So the very premise  of Kaul's original  post is questionable. 
Two, let there be a serious effort to get the statistics of Gujarat's journey during the last 10 years and more. All kinds of figures were bandied about during the election. But some authentic information should not be impossible to get. On many social indices Gujarat we were told ranked very low.. A disinformation campaign carried out by highly skilled media managers--and I say this with some (grudging) admiration-- won the day. RSS pracharaks , highly disciplined and no doubt well paid, also started work along with Amit Shah months before polling in UP. Think of the astronomical sums spent by BJP on this election.
To believe that Modi will not want to do a top down job on India as he has done in Gujarat is a pipe dream.. That is why the sensex soared.
As  for MHRD, surely the agenda is clear to all. Wait for changes in NCERT, ICSSR and ICHR. Yes the Congress removed Chairpersons as well. Well, take your pick or work towards a third alternative. The point about Irani is her 2 different affidavits apart from suitability. On the latter, she is eminently suitable to carryout 'educational reforms'!
Leaving out comments on other points raised about LJA and science, for now.

Lalit Kaul, Hyderabad, June 6, 2014

Before I respond to Amit’s take on RSS, I want to position myself in regard to RSS & CPM. From my childhood days I continue to have some kind of revulsion towards RSS & CPM for the reasons that I could not connect the discipline in RSS drill to the discipline of those individuals in their personal lives while interacting with the outside world to fulfil their needs and requirements of day to day life & in case of the CPM its very symbol personified violence for me which I always detested. It may sound very irrational, but that how it has been and that is what has kept me conscientiously avoiding any contact whatsoever with them.

Every political party has strived to keep caste based divisions intact and Mandal politics indeed sharpened the divisions. It was argued those days that ‘Mandal’ tends to provide a sense of empowerment for the different castes in that one amongst them could be ruling the society hitherto dominated by the upper castes; while acknowledging a possibility that this kind of politics may not accrue any benefit to these castes in terms of their socio-economic uplift. So the likes of Mayawati, Mulayam Singh, & Lalu Prasad came to hold the reign of power. This phenomenon, in my understanding, gave birth to coalition politics and ‘national parties’ got marginalized. No body, for example, can discount the sense of redemption of honour among SC community when Mayawati became the Chief Minister of as big a state as UP.

So RSS cannot do anything further in this direction. What indeed RSS, BJP & its affiliated organizations can do is to recognize that Modi achieved landslide victory because people chose to transcend divisions perpetuated in the name of caste, religion, and gender. The fact repeatedly acknowledged by none other than Modi himself. Hence a strategy to be evolved so that over a period of time the divisions become more & more blurred & that cannot happen by sheer sloganeering, but by adopting policies that truly embody inclusive growth. What is inclusive growth? RSS, et. al; have their own perceptions & definitions. Herein comes the role of LJA: M K Gandhi has to be invoked & LJA is competent and qualified to do it. M K Gandhi once said (I hope I reproduce it to best of my memory),” If a small country like UK had to colonize three fourth of the world for attaining prosperity, imagine if a country of the size of India had to adopt similar/ same philosophy (means) for its people’s growth and development, how many worlds would it have to colonize!” M K Gandhi’s analysis has indeed become prophesy.

Therefore LJA need to put across Modi that no matter what level of industrialization and concomitant automation (by whatever means) he may bring in, it is not going to encompass that 80% of the population that continues to be left neglected post independence; building of expressways & high rise buildings; growths in use of cement & steel cannot be an index of peoples’ growth & development. Here is where the importance of Lokavidhya can be put in the right perspective. Modi is not going to disappoint the big business, but Modi cannot afford to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to a new (unexpected) vote bank, if he wants to rule for 2-3 terms. Therefore LJA need to strategize how to put across to him the aspirations of Lokavidhyadhar Samaj based on their vidhya. Many channels at various levels in a state can be tapped; especially in UP, MP, Bihar where in my opinion LJA is proactive. It can also be attempted in other BJP ruled states.

A new concept of the existence of a multi-civilization society is to be put in to Modi’s head. Modi wants to rule; he may, in my understanding, one day show RSS et. el; their place, but may not dismiss the legitimate, reasonable, and genuine demands of his new found vote bank. Keeping 2019 in our minds & strategising for that; LJA need to expose the farce (!) of Modi, if indeed it is.

There is only one religion that does not believe in pluralism. Therefore Hindu bashing does solve the issue of pluralism. In any case, Modi cannot allow persecution of a religious group in a civilized dispensation. Modi may concentrate on (at least) minimizing terrorism within the country and that cannot be defined as being anti (some) religion. If India is a modern state, religious pluralism cannot become the reason for undermining its very existence. So long as we accept ‘modern state’, there is no other choice; the only counter to it is Lokavidhyadhar civilization where every individual contributes based on his/her vidhya & therefore transcends all divisions & distinctions. Civilization based on Lokavidhya has this inherent capacity to allow different religious communities to organize themselves as per the ‘rights & wrongs’ as decreed in their religious philosophies.

Modi understands that Muslims have indeed voted for him. BJP never had any strategy/ understanding on how to bring Muslims in to their fold. ‘Secular’ parties always succeeded in portraying BJP as the villain of the piece; yet this dumb party had no clue on how to get rid of this ‘anti Muslim’ tag slapped on them. It is Modi who won the elections; not BJP. Modi has been trusted by the voters of all hues, not the BJP; Modi is clever enough not to miss this opportunity on consolidation of Muslim votes. Muslims are a predominantly ‘Karigar samaj’; and honest ones at that; Modi is bound to be seen as doing something meaningful for the Karigar samaj. Any step taken by him in the socio-economic uplift of this samaj is only going to increase the faith of Muslims in him. Remember, it has been the Congress policy to encourage minority ‘intolerant’ sect of Islam; but there is a vast majority of Indian Muslims that follow Sufi Islam & Modi is intelligent enough to concentrate on them. LJA can also play a significant role in achieving this aim.

K.K. Surendran, Pune, June 6, 2014

I am totally opposed to the Samaj developing a Modi centric development of its politics, even when that politics is yet to emerge and its leadership, when it does, may not be in the hands of LJA. Mahatma Gandhi, when he had ceased to have much political power was murdered for what? Datta Samant, even when he had lost his leadership, was murdered for his opposition to the sale of the Textile Mills Land in Mumbai. And what makes anyone so sure that the day Modi is against the complete displacement of tribal communities for the sake of efficient exploitation of India's natural resources, he won't be removed? The main attraction for 'development plank' is that it is the sign of good democracy; and the attraction for 'democracy' is to declare publicly that that you are not 'communist' /'socialist'. These are rather old , post WW-II positions, kept alive by the wars of the day.

Each time in any country, if in a reasonably normal situation a leader gets big majority ( and even Benazir's husband got it), people are supporting him through ballot or whatever, cutting across existing social divisions. That is sheer arithmetic. It does not prove sudden obliteration of various fault lines or caste divisions,or imaginations (sankalp). If I understand correctly, globalization is like gaining political independence for the global finance capital(ists).  In a definite sense they and their 'collaborators' are the only ones who are free. May be up to third neighbors on the relationship tree. LJA can 'sankalp' a different freedom, may be carry on a Cultural Revolution; but then, so also can the Buddhist monks. Sufi masters and church fathers can join too, if their 'sankalp' of heaven finds some match.

B. Krishnarajulu, Hyderabad, June 6, 2014 

The point is- does the current 'space' created by the ascent of Modi riding on a 'development' agenda not provide an opportunity to take the main LJA demands(Multai declaration) to the centre stage of national politics?

I think it does. We need to formulate the modus operandi of doing this at Nagpur. The points raised by Kaul, Surendran and Amit are all very pertinent and have been in our minds for some time now.
We also need to kick-start a widespread discussion (and hopefully some activity) within Lokavidya Samaj about the perception of caste-hierarchy and possible directions of activity to bring about an equality-based unity.