Scientifically Foreward

The Living Paradox: Scientifically Forward, Economically Backward, Spiritually Inward

Introduction

In this chapter I reflect on the relation between science, economy and spirituality in the Indian context. It is assumed – at least ideally – that human progress in one of these areas will lead to the others in a mutually enriching manner. But as we see chapter, we can trace a unidirectional, non-correlated development among these basic areas of human concern! A lop-sided development indeed! In the final part we try to trace out some of the reasons for such a lop-sided development.

To begin with some tentative definitions may be helpful. In this paper I assume science as a general quest for understanding the material reality and economics as coping with the basic needs of life. Further spirituality could be viewed as addressing the basic human quest for meaning. Therefore, we can take science as providing the intellectual knowledge of reality, economics as providing the material necessities and spirituality as offering meaning and value systems of a community. Thus these three areas provide essentially the whole of the human quest: for food, knowing and for understanding. In other words, economics provide us with essential physical requirements (practical living), science the essential epistemological wants (knowledge) and spirituality the moral needs (wisdom).

A warning is called for. Since the topic that we deal with elaborate the whole of the Indian life style, some generalisation and over-simplification cannot be avoided. Moreover, popular notions are accepted and used without going to the exact sources. What we are interested in is not to trace the scholarly way of understanding Indian psyche, but the popular one that affects the ordinary life style of the millions of Indians.[1]

First, we elaborate the Indian paradox: it is a society which is scientifically forward, economically backward and spiritually inward. In the background of this lop-sided development, we ask the question: Why this fragmentation? This leads to the second part of the paper where a critical effort is made to understand creatively and respond ingeniously to this paradoxical situation. India is a unique country: a culture of contradictions!

The Indian Paradox

I try to understand the Indian scenario in terms of its scientific (intellectual), economic (practical) religious (philosophical) dimensions of life.

Scientifically Forward

India has an ancient tradition of scientific spirit and temper.[2] The scientific forwardness of the Indian psyche and atmosphere could be gauged from some of the facts taken at random. Obviously, I cannot claim any comprehensive effort here and so I need to be selective in presenting these facts as given below:

·        The deeply profound Indian philosophy, which has its origin about 4,000 years ago, provides testimony to the intellectual vigour of India. There is deep scientific spirit in the philosophical discourses of the ancient ages – be they the Jain philosophers, the Buddhist scholars or the Nyaya-vaisesika theists arguing and meticulously scrutinizing the stand of opponents. There is thorough logic, intellectual fairness and a sense of openness to scholarly endeavour.

·        The availability of a large number of highly qualified academic centres and universities also bear witness to the intellectual vigour and scientific temper of the country.[3] There are particular regions in India like Kerala & Goa which can boast of 100% literacy.

·        Trained academic personals abound and the greatest problem in India is to provide job facilities to those educationally qualified. Besides them, there is a vast resource of academicians, scientists and intellectuals that make the Indian population highly progressive when it comes to the intellectual depth.

·        The number of journals (both academic and non-academic) as well as the number of newspapers published in India exceeds that anywhere else in the world.

·        The case of the scientific forwardness of the Indian society is most evident in the number of world class software engineers produced by India every year.[4]

·        This is prominent particularly in the defence domain. Every month there is a new invention be they in the case of rocket missile project, technology, star-war enterprise, or even nuclear weapons. In general, India does not want to lag behind any other nation for their defence capabilities and therefore there is a deep desire to produce indigenous defence materials.

·        In 1991, the US State department refused to sell India any computer capable of performing more than 900 million operations a second. But the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) responded with the powerful Param series. The Param-10000 – probably the most powerful machine of its kind in the developing world, with applications in areas as diverse as engineering, industry, business, medicine, and astrophysics – met India's high-end computing needs, and made possible the most controversial application of an already disputed technology, India's nuclear weapons program.[5]

·        India is highly advanced and has performed commendably in the fields of Atomic Energy,[6] Space Research,[7] Defence capability,[8] Oceanography,[9] Bio-Technology & Electronics.[10]

·        Practically every week something revolutionary and dynamic takes place in the Indian electronic field.[11] The latest effort is India's ambitious foray in microchips. In terms of chip making, India now seems to be at a stage where it was initially for software about a decade ago (the nation's software exports rose to $7.5 billion in 2001 from $734 million in 1995/96). Therefore, Silicon India affirms boldly: “Whether it's forging new missile technologies, mapping lunar gravitational fields or tracking rogue protoplanets, the “Indian technie” has arrived. And it wouldn't be gross hyperbole to add that future technology will warrant the active participation of this breed of Indians.[12]

·        The tradition of research, culture and science can be felt and lived in Pune, the so called “Oxford of the East” where defence establishments, film institutes, computer centres, cultural extravaganzas and academic centres lie side by side and increase the harmonious mingling of the Indian diversity.

The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman affirmed, “this teeming, multiethnic, multireligious country is one of the world’s greatest wonders – a miracle with a message.”[13]

 

Economically Backward

It is obvious that India wants to become an Economic Superpower. At the same time the abject poverty of more than 500 millions of Indians just cannot be ignored. In the latest such instance the government has changed the mode of measurement of poverty and thus “decreased” the number of people living below the poverty line.

The economic reforms, the globalisation and the free market economy, which have become crucial slogans in the Indian scene just do not reach 50% of the people, who are too poor to take any advantage of them and who truly need them.

·        People living below the poverty line are on the increase, particularly after the liberalization and opening of the economy to foreign investors from the early 1990s![14]

·        Inhuman conditions of bonded labourers, child labourers can only be compared to the life style of the slaves. Thousands of them exist and even the government admit that.

·        Many of tribals and dalits, who live from hand to mouth. There are millions of people who live for Rs 15 (0.3 $) per day for the whole family.

·        Starvation deaths occurring periodically and the government white wash them as disease deaths.[15]

·        Beggars and abandoned children are of the magnitude of 100,000 in the city of Mumbai alone.

·        The villagers are flocking to the cities causing an overflow of slums in the cities. Slum population is on the increase and the miserable life style in the slums is preferable to the actual life villages where the “actual India lives” according to Mahatma Gandhi.[16]

·        Water has become a scarce commodity in the rural set up. It is not an uncommon sight to see village women walking daily more than 20 kilometres to collect the daily quota of water. On the whole, in most of the villages there is no sanitation or drinking water facilities.

·         General health care of the masses is a disaster in very many areas in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh; Every year thousands of people die of ordinary and deadly sickness like malaria and kala jar, and the easily available treatment does not reach the villages.

·        Though highly qualified medical facilities are available in the cities, they are completely unaffordable for ordinary people. We can have an idea of the affordability of it from the following fact. A trained nurse in some of the reputed hospitals in Pune earn a monthly salary of Rs. 2,500 and a simple dental root canal treatment cost about the same amount!

A Enlightening Survey

A survey was conducted recently by some of the staff and students of our Institute covering 860 households indicate the same trend. On an average there were 6.22 persons in a household: 3 adults and 3.22 children. The sample households were more or less evenly distributed across the five states. In terms of social status, two-thirds of our respondents (67%) were Harijans or members of lower castes. Only a few (12%) belonged to the higher castes. The rest (20%) were either tribals or members of religions which do not recognise the caste system.

The mean per capita daily income of the rural families in the sample is Rs 12.38 ($ 0.27). Grouped data on daily per capita income as calculated by Parathazham is given in Table 1. Of the total respondents, 41% had per capita daily income of Rs 8 or less; in fact 20% had a daily income of Rs 5 or less. About one-third had daily income between Rs 9 and 15; only 27% earned Rs 15 or more a day.[17]

Table 1: Measure of poverty among the respondents

Per Capita Daily Income in Rs

Percentage of villagers

< 5

20

5-8

21

9-15

32

>15

27

 

         

          The rural poverty line was computed in 1973-74 as Rs1.63 per day or Rs 49 per month. At 1993-94 prices, it was estimated as Rs 6.86 per day per person or Rs 206 per month. The official estimate of the poverty line at current prices is not available. As Parathazham notes, if we use an inflator similar to the one used to update the poverty line in 1993-94, the rural poverty line in 1998-99 would be Rs 8.43 per day or Rs 253 per month. By this reckoning, the proportion of the rural poor according to our data would be 40.6% in 1998-99.[18]

          The study attempted to study poverty also in respects other than income such as hunger, indebtedness, illiteracy, housing, availability of safe drinking water and electricity, and ownership of house-hold consumer durables and found that the lot of the poor is becoming worse.

The hungry and the poor

The straightforward question: “Does your family have enough to eat?” measures the magnitude of hunger in a crude manner. Responding to this question 28% said that their families get enough to eat always; 47% said they have enough to eat most of the time; and one-fourth reported that they had enough to eat only sometimes or rarely. In other words, more than two-thirds go hungry some of the time, and one-fourth go hungry most of the time.

          We have seen that the average per capita daily income of rural India is Rs 12.38. Of this 9.84 is spent on food alone, and a person is left with Rs 2.54 for all other expenses. That is definitely tragic to say the least!

The poor, needless to say, have a lot to be anxious about. As table 2 indicates, the basic worry of the poor is how to feed their hungry stomachs. Anxiety about the future of their children is a close second. Lack of land and resources, debt, inability to come up with dowry for the daughter’s marriage, failure of crops, sickness, and house repair are other frequently mentioned worries of India’s rural poor.

Table 2: Worries of the Poor (%)[19]

Lack of food

34

Future of the children

33

Lack of land / resources

22

Debt

19

Crop failure

18

Dowry for daughter’s marriage

17

Sickness

14

House repair

14

 

          In order to check what the most pressing needs of the poor are, we asked them: “Suppose someone were to give you Rs 5000, what would you do with it?” The most common answer (30%) was that they would use the money to pay back their debts. There were also quite a few who said that they would spend it to repair the house (13%) or buy food (12%).

Though India wants to become an economic super-power basing itself on the man-power, resources and abundance of educated middle class, given the above scenario, it is not surprising that the International Monetary Fund has predicted that India's growth 'will not erase poverty'.[20] The economic backwardness of India cannot be, sadly, wished away!

Spiritually Inward

India is a deeply spiritual country. One can sense the spiritual depth and transparency vibrating both in the poor and in the rich. Unfortunately the predominant spirituality is inward looking, where salvation (from the bondage of rebirth) is sought in the next world and by ignoring the material reality. The strength of the Indian spirituality is the awareness of the inner depth – consciousness!

·        There is a profound religious ethos vibrating in the whole sub-continent. India, it is said, bathes in spirituality and flowers in religious climate.

·        Committed to the priests, puja and god. In the city of Pune, the Ganesh festivals that are celebrated annually draw millions. Every village has more than one Ganesh statues which is taken in procession, with every affordable dance and excitement, for the immersion. It is not merely a ritualistic or a spiritual procession, but a way of life. (Unfortunately one cannot observe the same intensity of commitment to the people, to their life and to their material well-being.)

·        A sense of vibrancy, flexibility, pliability, joy and peace is apparent among the poor. That is why Calcutta (now Kolkatta) could aptly be called the “city of joy.” Sense of celebration, transparency, simplicity is evident in the Indian psyche.

·        A radical awareness of self surrender to God or to the destiny. The ordinary Indian can accept almost everything as kismat (destiny), that is demanded by karma and the previous birth. There is an enormous amount of serenity, which cannot cope with any amount of suffering. This spirit of “it is written” is also one of the key message of the famous Oscar-award winning move “Slumdog Millionaire”!

·        The feeling that they are not the masters of themselves is all too evident in India. They are not responsible for their own lives and destiny. Since everything is maya (illusion), they realise the worthlessness of everything material and so are not determined to control the destiny. To control destiny is actually to revolt against it, which is harmful according to the karma theory.[21]

·        Places of worship are over crowded, pilgrimages flourish and millions visit the shrines or places of worship. This is true of all religions, be they the Christian Charismatic Centre at Potta, Kerala, the Velankanni Church in Tamil Nadu or feast of Mount Mary at Mumbai. Millions of people visit these shrines, including those of other religions.

·        The emergence of two world religions is from India and so India is rightly called “the cradle of religions.” Almost every religion has its adherents in India.[22]

·        There is a deep spiritual insight present in the ordinary Indians, which expresses itself in the basic teachings of Upanishads, Buddhism and Jainism. These spiritual insights have a power over the people that is far beyond the materialistic attraction of the modern technological civilization.

·        Negatively, traces of sati worship is still prevalent in the modern India![23] The Rajasthan High Court has recently allowed pujas to be offered in a few temples devoted to the Sati Goddess which was replaced by Goddess Shakti by the organisers. The women activities were protesting against the glorification of sati. Barely a month after a woman committed sati in a village in Panna district in Maharashtra, another woman killed herself after her sati bid was foiled on September 12, 2002. The woman was only 28 years old and her husband had died of burn injuries earlier.[24]

·        In one of the worst communal carnages after the partition of India, involving the majority religion more than 3000 Muslims were killed or burned ruthlessly and brutally this year with the connivance of the governing party, in spite of the free press, the intelligentsia and the rule of law that Indian proudly claims to adhere to. Still worse, such heinous acts are celebrated and paraded in public paradoxically called “gaurava yatra,” “journey of pride!” Further, as we go to the press, we hear that terrorist have no qualms of conscience to enter the holiest of the temples in Gujarat and massacre more than 30 devotees in cold blood. These are instance of negative and dehumanising religiosity in India.

India is rich in religiosity. But this religiosity is deeply inward centred and is generally not oriented to the outside world or to the other human beings. Though there are some prominent exceptions like Mahatma Gandhi or Raja Ram Mohan Roy, this is by and large the general trend of the Indian spirituality: deeply and profoundly inward. Therefore, one contemporary Hindu philosopher has affirmed: “The outer world with its physical appearance never attracted Indian thought. Though physical science was extremely developed here much earlier than elsewhere in the world, it never remained India’s main concern. Politics never ruled over the minds of Indian people It was considered as a mere event, a seasonal one that was surely to pass away and thus India remained unaffected .The spirit ever remained alive though the body was subjugated.”[25] He elaborates further: “The Indian thought is based on reason and introspection. Idealism is in its very nature. It tends towards monism and finds the Reality as ultimately one and spirit and spiritual.”[26]

The Issues at stake                                         

We would expect that in a healthy, integrated growth all the three basic human dimensions will grow together. Together with scientific progress, spiritual depth and economic prosperity are also expected. Why this fragmented growth?

But it is difficult to find such paradigm case. The Western society is not the model, nor is the Church, nor are the religious orders the model. We do not find ideal societies where these three crucial human dimensions enrich each other and inform each other uniformly. Still, can we not long for a holistic and integral growth between the intellectual, material and spiritual? Uni-directional growth? In the case of India it is evident that there is a highly disproportionate rise in one at the cost of the others. Can we not expect some correlationship between the three basic human needs?

Creative Responses

It is here that I propose a tentative analysis and a provisional answer. Obviously, since I deal with the basic human life with its inner conflicts I do not hope to offer definite analysis and solutions. I assume that there is a deeper philosophical basis for the problem though not explicitly evident to the popular masses. I believe that philosophy has deep influence on the general psyche even though at an unconscious level. Further, it may be mentioned that in proposing this analysis some generalisations unavoidable, but we plan to stress the general feature of Indian philosophy and way of life.

Given such a paradoxical situation of uni-dimensional growth, it is proposed that we can understand and respond better to this situation if we keep in mind the following basic features of the Indian society. They are deeply philosophical concerns which embraces the whole Indian psyche.

The Missing Link of the Person

The notion of “person” as opposed to the other beings and the cosmos – both metaphysically and existentially – is not adeuately developed in India.[27] This discourages every attempt to focus or limit the economic or spiritual progress on the person. Person is just not the locus or focus of the society. Such a vision sabotages every real progress.[28]

This fact explains, to some extent, the lack of the awareness of “human rights” in the Indian psyche. Normally the person, understood as differentiated from the community is not stressed enough. That is why India falls very much to the feminine – identity through identification – as opposed to the masculine – identity through separation – features of the general human psychological trait!

Therefore, independence is not appreciated and not tolerated. In general, even independent thinking – heresies – is not very prevalent in the Indian philosophy. Further, it may be noted that atman – individual spirit – is not the person as we understand in occidental philosophy. Body is rejected or ostracised in the infinite spiritual realm.

Myself apart from the absolute self is not important, it is even an illusion. Once the well-known Indian mystic and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore was asked: “if the whole of Western philosophy could be summed up as ‘Know Thyself’, how will you sum up the Indian philosophy?” He promptly replied, “Forget Thy Self.” That is truly the distinguishing mark of the Indian ethos: the self – in our terminology the ‘person’ – is not a positively affirmed or developed category of thought.

Therefore, G. Karuvelil asserts that the concept of person is not only crucial to ethics, but to the whole way of life. Holding that the notion of “person” is quite different from soul or atman, he asserts that it “is very underdeveloped, if not totally missing in our culture.”[29]

The Over-presence of the Other

Just as the person, the other category of the individual is also very poorly developed in Indian philosophy. This is illustrated by the preponderance of the caste system. The caste system, which is all pervasive is one of the strongest factors of social cohesion, which goes beyond every religion and philosophy. It has played a significant role in perpetuating the miserable economic condition of the millions of Indians. Caste is more powerful than religion, politics, social taboos. It is a social system that incorporates every other aspect of the society (more than the base-structure of Karl Marx). Though it may be objectively very dehumanizing, the larger society is based on it and it has received a religious sanction.

In general it may be said that the category of the individual – as opposed to the community – is also not well developed. The other – the joint family, the village, the caste, the nation – is more significant for the Indian mentality than the individual person. The individual is actually all-encompassed in the larger domain of the family, village, caste, religion or nation. Even the tendency of “hero-worship” so prevalent in the Indian mentality could be traced to this need to dissolve oneself in another larger “self” which is all-encompassing.

That is why, by and large, for Indians, individual pleasure is not asserted and the ideal of a sacrificing mother – a mother who sacrifices herself for the children and the larger family – is highly priced. In short, the individual is submerged in the ocean of the community and what really counts is the community, which is far too powerful at the economic, existential, religious and metaphysical level.

The Domination of the Inner World

Together with the lack of developed concepts of “person” and “individual” there is a well developed and deeply rooted notion of the “inner world.” By inner world, we mean the conscious and unconscious world of the spirit as opposed to the visible and empirical material world.

Normally in every tribal religion there is an emphasis on this world and as the religions have evolved the emphasis tends to move away from this world into the other world. Judaism, which is basically a tribal religion emphasizes the land and progeny. The tribal religions see its fulfilment in terms of jal, jamin and jungle (water, land, forest). Christianity moves one step away and experiences a healthy tension between this world and the other world. For the Christian tradition the tensional relationship between this world and the next world (expressed in Christianity as “inaugurated eschatology” or the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the Church) remains a mystery even today.

Even at the risk of generalization, we may assert that for the Indian religions the primacy is for the other world, the inner world, as opposed to the material reality. They see this world primarily as maya (illusion) and do not give it any role in the final fulfilment of human beings. Nay, they go to the extent of asserting that the material world and preoccupation with it stifles every genuine eschatological fulfilment. The theory of maya further affirms this world is a samsara (world in flux and therefore not permanent) which is the result of the actions of the previous birth (the theory of karma).

The philosophy of re-birth and the consequent theory of karma gives a sound philosophical basis for negating this world. The only reasonable goal of life is to reach enlightenment, that is to get out of the world of maya, of samsara, of becoming. That is achieved not by action (karma) but by enlightenment. Any action that we do has its effects which in turn will make us re-born either to enjoy effects of the good actions or to suffer the effects of the bad ones.[30]

This gives a justification for the present state of suffering. We are poor due to destiny (fate). And our role is to accept this situation gracefully and not to fight against it. Changing this destiny – not accepting the fate from my previous life – will cause more harm in the next birth and, therefore, is not desirable.

This is the typical temptation of the spiritual person! To ignore this world for the sake of the poor. Such tendencies have been present in all religions, but is most evident in the Indian religions – Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism – and is least present in tribal religions and Islam.

In such a scenario, the person is negated,[31] the individual is mitigated and this world is disregarded. They have deep philosophical and existential consequences and I believe that the Indian paradox could be better understood in terms of these philosophical principles.[32]

Conclusion

In short the tension between the person and other beings, between the individual and community and the inner world and the material world is hardly experienced in the general Indian psyche. This world is not seen as a sacrament of the next world. It is (almost) totally negated, and is merely a lila (a play), having no real purpose.

Therefore we can very well appreciate the highly intellectual, spiritually deep and philosophically rigorous attitude of the Indian masses with a world-negating, body-ignoring world-view. This could certainly be one of the factors for the lopsided Indian scenario of the present. It is obvious that such a world-view will foster an inner search and therefore profound inward looking spirituality, with hardly any care being given to the economic – material – aspects of life.[33]

So the solution that is proposed is to realize and respect the “in-betweenness” of the human nature. Ours is a tensional life, where we try to encounter the infinite through the finite, where we need to be rooted to the material and open to the spiritual. Ours is a unique existence where we belong to the community, without sacrificing our own individual uniqueness. We are part of the cosmos – one like every other being – and at the same time different from it.[34]

This is not to be equated with the “moderation” or the call of the “middle.”[35] What we imply here is that there is a need in human life – both individually and collectively to respond to the dynamic dimensions of life. There will always be movement but like a pendulum that swings between two extremes. The focus is not on keeping the pendulum stationary – that rules out the possibility of life! But to not let the pendulum swing in only one domain – be they exclusively that of body or the spirit! What is called for a dynamic and vibrant mode of life where the extreme positions are respected without denying them.

 Humans may thus be regarded as the in-betweenness or “inzwischenheit.” Life is the tension between the following extremes of:[36]

·        Body and soul

·        Animal and angelic dimensions of life

·        This world and the other world

·        The finite and the infinite

·        The limited pleasures and the unlimited happiness

·        The individual and the community.

·        Immanence and transcendence

·        The concrete noun and the verb which is of infinite orientation.

In short we are neither animals, nor angels. We are both and we cannot remain stuck with either. That is the basic conflict in the human psyche. That is the basic openness of the human personality. A philosophy that respects this dynamic, dialectic tension, it is proposed, will enable a society that integrates its material – economic -, intellectual – scientific – and religious -spiritual – needs. Unfortunately India’s is by and large a lop-sided development. But it must be emphasized that a situation where science, economics and spirituality are integrated and equally progressive is not even present in the West.[37] So we do not have any models to go by. Still we can aspire for an open society. A dialogical society where there is more of healthy interaction between the various human sphere and dimensions of life is the result of a living tension between our commitment to this world – to me, to my ego, to my body – and an openness to the other world – to the spirit, to the infinite!

The Indian society needs to be more open towards a re-enchantment to the world: of the body; of the individual. This calls for the rediscovery of the dialectical tension. Then we can hope for a society, which is economically and scientifically forward and spiritually inward!

Bibliography

Anand, Subhash (2002) “Purushasurtra”, Third Millennium, 2002 **.

Asian Age, The (2002) Woman kills self after sati bid foiled, September 15, 2002, Mumbai.

BBC (2002) India’s growth will not erase poverty, 29 August, 2002 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2224667.stm

CNN (2002) Param computers, http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/industry/03/05/india.supercomputers.reut/index.html

Embassy (2002) India and Science at http://www.indianembassy.org/dydemo/science.htm

Karuveli, George (1999) “Hierarchy, Equality and Liberation: Some Reflections on Indian Culture,” Jnanadeepa July 1999 2/2 34-53.

Lahri, Rajnikant (2002) The Spirit Of Indian Philosophy at http://www.indolink.com/Religion/r031902-234110.html

Nadkarni, Vithal C. (2002) India’s Best and Brightest, Times of India, Sept 15, 2002, p. 10.

Pandikattu, Kuruvilla (1999) Idols to Die, Symbols to Live, Intercultural Publications, Delhi,

Parathazham, Paul, (2001) ”Rural Poverty in India: An Empirical Study,” Jnanadeepa 4/1 January 2001, pp. 149-158.

SAH (South Asian History) (2002) Technological discoveries and applications in India, at http://india_resource.tripod.com/technology.htm

Silicon India (2002) “The Indian Century- Science & Technology,” http://www.siliconindia.com/magazine/indian_century/siliconindia_THE_INDIAN_CENTURY_Science&Technology.asp also found in http://almavijai.sphosting.com/ India/ScienceTechnology/1.htm See also ambitious chip project of India inhttp://news.cnet.com/investor/news/newsitem/0-9900-1028-20052240-0.html?tag=ats

TOI (2002) “Bhatia sticks to his guns on malnutrition deaths”, Times of India, Sept 19, 2002, p. 3.

 



[1] The Indologist will find my treatment of Indian spirituality rather superficial. This is unavoidable because, first, I do not have any competence in this area, second, I do not want to deal from a scholarly or philosophical treatment of Indian religiosity, but a popular and generalised one, as it affects ordinary Indians.

[2] SAH (2002).

[3] India has the third largest scientific and technical manpower in the world; 162 universities award 4,000 doctorates and 35,000 post-graduate degrees and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research runs 40 research laboratories which have made some significant achievements. Embassy (2002).

[4] The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) made its presence felt internationally, as graduates from the top schools went to fuel the booming technological economy of Silicon Valley. Academics such as Raj Reddy, who was assigned co-chairman of the US President’s Technology Advisory Committee (PTAC), excelled in technologically creative avenues, like robotics and artificial intelligence. Amar Gopal Bose, a long time MIT associate, ushered in a new era of sound with the now famous speakers that bear his name. Take a walk into NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and you’ll see a host of bright Indian scientists (Silicon 2002).

[5] CNN (2002)

[6] India is today recognized as one of the countries most advanced in nuclear technology including production of source materials. The country is self-reliant and has mastered the expertise covering the complete nuclear cycle – from exploration and mining to power generation and waste management. Accelerators and research and power reactors are now designed and built indigenously. The sophisticated variable energy cyclotron at Calcutta and a medium energy heavy ion accelerator ‘pelletron’ set up recently at Mumbai are national research facilities in the frontier areas of science See Embassy (2002).

[7] The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), under the Department of Space (DOS), is responsible for research, development and operationalisation of space systems in the areas of satellite communications, remote sensing for resource survey, environmental monitoring, meteorological services etc. India joined a select group of six nations on October 15, 1994, when the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) successfully accomplished its mission of placing the 800-Kg remote sensing satellite, IRS-P2, in the intended orbit. Earlier in May, the fourth developmental flight of the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) achieved its mission by placing the 113 Kg SROSS-C2 scientific satellite in a near-earth orbit. India is well on its way to developing a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) capable of putting 2000 Kg satellites into space. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is currently trying to develop an indigenous cryogenic engine GSLV.

[8] In the field of missile launch technology, India is among the five top nations of the world.

[9] India has a coastline of more than 7,600km and 1,250 islands, with its Exclusive Economic Zone covering over 2 million sq. km and continental shelf extending up to 350 nautical miles. The Department of Ocean Development was established in 1981 to ensure optimum utilization of living resources, exploitation of non-living resources such as hydrocarbons and minerals, and to harness ocean energy.

[10] Embassy (2002).

[11] Some weeks ago there was talk of the Symputers, which uses a simplified computer technology to communicate with the villages in their own local language, using voice commands.

[12] Silicon India (2002).

[13] The message is that democracy matters! See Nadkarni (2002) 10. Further, The Sunday Times of India (p. 10) mentions the personalities as chess king Vishwanathan Anand, writer and critic Arundhati Roy and Prof Madhu Sadan of MIT who won the Rof Nevanlinna Prize.

[14] Parathazham (1991) 149.

[15] The allegation by Arun Bhatia, commissioner of Tribal Training and Research Institute affirmed that there were starvation deaths in Nandurbar area in Maharashtra in the recent month. He claimed that to say that the deaths were not due to malnutrition was “absurd.” A survey conducted covering 25 families that lost 26 children revealed that 92 per cent siblings of the deceased were malnourished. Severe malnutrition was as high as 55 per cent (TOI 2002) 3.

[16] Gandhi had maintained that “India lives not in the cities but in its seven lakh [700,000] villages.”

[17] As pointed out by Parathazham, the co-ordinator of the survey, the most-widely accepted measure of poverty in India is the ‘Head Count Ratio’. It measures the proportion of population below a level of income defined as the ‘poverty line’. The poverty line is an estimate of the income necessary to purchase a rudimentary food basket, which, when consumed, yields a minimum level of calories (2400 calories per day for rural population and 2200 for urban). The Head Count Ratio is computed on the basis of the data on consumption expenditure collected by National Sample Surveys (NSS) every five years. Parathazham (2001)

[18] This is slightly higher than the NSS estimate of rural poverty for 1993-94, which was 39.65% See Parathazham (2001).

[19] Parathazham (2001).

[20] BBC (2002). Two key areas that the IMF claims India needs to speed up are the privatisation of government enterprises and the liberalisation of labour laws. India’s trade unions and farmers have been highly critical of the IMF’s policies and have tried to persuade the government to resist adopting them.

[21] A more nuanced articulation of the theory of the world of samsara and rebirth is beyond the scope of this paper.

[22] Besides that we also have Jainism, Sikhism and numerous tribal religions that have their origin in India.

[23] Sati is the barbaric and inhuman practice of the widow burning herself at the pyre of the husband with a religious sanction. It has been banned in independent India and many of the Hindu social reformers have denounced it whole-heartedly.

[24] Asian Age (2002) 1.

[25] See Lahri (2002). At the same time the rich understanding of the purusharthas and ashramas do not go along with this line of argument. The above quote may be more influenced by an idealistic (German) interpreation of advaita, which happened to be the school of thought of the first Europen scholars who popularised Indian philosophy in Europe. It is beyond the scope of this paper to go into such deep and nuanced arguments.

[26] See Lahri (2002)

[27] In this essay I contrast ‘person’ to ‘non-humans’ which include animals and all other beings (person as “rational animal”), ‘individual’ to ‘community’ and inner world’ to ‘material world.’

[28] See Anand ( 2002)

[29] Karuvelil (1999) 45.

[30] It must be mentioned that this is the traditional advaitic interpretation of the Indian philosophy as jnanamarga. The bhakti tradition of Hindusim, which is very popular among the masses, does not go along with it.

[31] The person is negated in its very concept, in the Atman, in the community and in this earthly world. It must be again pointed out that this interpretation does not do justice to the whole of Indian philosophy, which has also given us a Kamasutra – the embodiment of emotional or erotic love as human fulfilment – and the tantric traditions. It must be pointed out that contemporary India, influenced by globalization, is moving away from such a general attitude.

[32] Therefore, tension – about which we shall be elaborating in the next section – of daily existence is not really felt in India! ***

[33] We repeat that this is an over simplification. There have been people in India who were very much economically developed. In fact it has been pointed out that before the colonisation, the economic status of India was superior to that of the West.

[34] This unique relationship was classically expressed by today’s inadequate terminology that humans are “rational animals.”

[35] This is similar to the classical Aristotelain expression that “virtue lies in the middle.”

[36] See Paul Ricoeur’s treatment of this as elaborated in Pandikattu (1999).

[37] We do not claim that an ideal integrated growth has ever existed anywhere. But we do affirm that our human goal is to arrive at such a situation of harmonius growth in all dimensions of human life.

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