Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Indian Society & Some Crucial Issues: Worm’s Eye view

Indian Society & Some Crucial Issues: Worm’s Eye view
By Remigius de Souza

Key words: society; institutions; nature-conservation; people-conservation; village-education.

People Energy













ANY EVENT that I notice /read makes me to introspect, watch what is burning under my feet and what is happening around, as far as my sight can reach... with whatever means available.

THE WHOLE PAST comes to my mind like a movie in a flash ...from the age I came to senses, the Four Worlds of India — the Third World (of peasants), the Fifth World (of the marginalized), the Fourth World (of Adivasis) and the First World (of Industrial Society) — where I lived, moved, worked and gained experience. Following few observations are based on this lifelong journey.

Society
WE generally use word 'society' that refers to all social collectives. However, there are some fine differences among the Indian social & cultural sub-groups. Some are civilized societies; some are aborigine communities and some ethnic communities.

India: Socio-Cultural sub-regions
Restore Languages to restore People’s Autonomy. There are as many languages as the cultural groups.

THE COLLECTIVES of the aborigines or Adivasis are better addressed as 'communities'. Because their social formation is not based on division of labour, caste and class, like civilized societies. Here, every individual is representative of whole community. A notable feature: there is no prostitution among Adivasis!

THERE ARE some ethnic communities. For example, there is matriarchal ethnic community in Kerala. Before Aryans came, there was matriarchal society in Karnataka (Bharatiya Sanskritikosha, editor: Pundit Mahadevashastri Joshi). There are also communities of Laman or Banjara (Romano), Dhangar (shepherd) etc.
Distribution of some major tribes of India
Adivasis come with the wealth of their ancient wisdom. The loss of their Forest habitat means assault on their existence and survival.

INDIA STILL HAS RICH BIODIVERSITY; hence, there is rich cultural diversity. The culture is the gift of Srishti, ‘Mother Nature’, to humans! It is, therefore, necessary in India, to include the subject of anthropology in all branches of higher education. It is necessary for the elite to learn about plural society of India. History of India, introduced by the British, is too narrow, mean and out of right context. It propagates feudalism, which is not good for democratic values, than “People History”.

Institutions
THE COLONIAL RULE brought here industrialization from Europe. It dominated entire educated and illiterate society, before anyone realized. It was not a revolution; it was borrowing; it was imposed. Industrialization came, along came many institutions and complex laws. They took over the private and public life of the collective and an individual. And both lost their autonomy of self-decision and self-reliance.

Social Work
BECAUSE OF INHUMAN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITY IN INDIA, many institutions, movements, activists… committed to social work started during past 100 years. However, we speak from a public platform; we take for granted what is below the platform, the reality that is constantly changing. We say 'Chalata Hai – This goes on,’. And the work that remains for the experts, professionals, politicians is to find "curative measures" to save their skin.

IS THE WORK of a teacher, doctor, technocrat, engineer, architect, Govt/semi-government-employee, city planner, economist, scientist... police not "social work"? Aren't they the part of society? Of course, in a decadent society — whether Western or Eastern — this may not happen. We, however, caress our ego. That's all!

NGOs
THERE ARE NGOs from UN at global level to countless numbers in the bye-lanes of Delhi-Mumbai... These social institutions are started with noble aims and objectives. Some work within their specialized fields. Some of them face resource crunch; they have to struggle to collect funds to survive. Some disappear in the blue. Some show feudal / bureaucratic traits. Some of those working in rural areas think of illiterate peasants and the tribal as backward and "uneducated", and they have come to educate them. These professional social workers from cities find nothing worth "learning" from them.

Education (Learning)
AT THE BEGINNING OF 20TH CENTURY – the times of Ranade-Gokhale – there were two percent educated (not literate) people. Gokhale then was struggling to bring a bill of 'free and compulsory primary education' for India in the Privy Council. That was hundred years ago!

EDUCATION – Learning and Teaching – is now an occupation, no more a vocation. Educational Institutions prepare the highly educated, professional, specialist etc. candidates for employment- business. But our Public Education Institution has failed to impart literacy to large number of people in the past sixty years. Isn't it the "State-at-misfortune"?

Social commitment
WHAT IS SOCIAL COMMITMENT and whom does it apply? To give the last rites to a dead body, according to that person's faith (if known), may rank at the top on the part of society. Just imagine: if the dead is not disposed off in time, what problem would it cause to the society!

BUT THE SOCIETY, religion or person/s need not worry about it. Srishti is does it by ‘recycling’ a dead body. Millions of worms will be born in the dead body and finish it, and they too die and turn into soil.

An ordinary example of social commitment
IN MUMBAI at our home, an illiterate woman of untouchable caste was our maidservant. Once she brought a dispossessed sick old man about to die, at her home – a hut on the roadside pavement. She nursed him. She also gave him the last rites after a couple of days. Honestly, I couldn't have done this.

Reunion with Mother Nature
Conservation of Nature
VINOBA BHAVE, in his commentary on Gita, spoke of three-fold Yoga Actions, Sacrifices –Yajna, gift and penance – as I recall.
1. Yajna (sacrifice): whatever we take from Nature we must return back, for example, we take food grains from land; therefore, we restore it by putting manure, watering etc. That is Conservation of Nature.
2. Gift: society, parents, guru, kin-kith etc help us in many ways. Give them gift in gratitude and to restore their losses (this is not charity).
3. Penance: we use our body – mind, intelligence, limbs – in daily actions. We must restore the loss of energy and remove impurities etc.
Society and our body are not outside of Nature. Similarly, these three actions are Yajnas, Sacrifices. (Ref: Gita-Pravachane, Chapter 17). This interpretation of “Social Commitment”, on the part of an individual and the collective, may sound non-conventional to the believers of Gita.

A PYRAMID, TAJ MAHAL... To build these artefacts does the money come from a government mint? All the wealth that humans use basically comes from the Earth. We only process it. However, all the living-beings have equal rights to the Earth. The artefacts mentioned above indicate 'feudalism' of persons, caste or class. Unfortunately today this is repeated even by democratic nations.

THE LAND IS NOT ANYONE'S PROPERTY. None, neither the State nor a person, has ethical, moral right to own land. In its history of 5000 years, how the civilized society mutilated this land!

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT'S OBJECTIVE must be “Janata”, the People: only the People are "Means & Goal". All planning, projects, laws… their making and implementation processes should be guided and materialized through the People. Government and other institutions are only facilitators and accountable to Janata.

GOVERNMENT and other institutions are merely tools, faceless entities. Their primary duty is to the People, to protect their primary autonomous functions — Work, Leisure, Health, Learning and Propagation — and according to changing situation prepare development projects and make them available to the People.

Need for right education
"FOOD-SHELTER-CLOTHING are basic needs", a million times they – expert, planner, politician – must have chewed this old dry bone on the public platform! These celebrities royally forget a fact: Even animals have this knowledge by intuition.
Leisure - Children exercise their autonomy

Peasants and Adivasis don’t Need Entertainment / Leisure Industry.

SRISHTI, MOTHER NATURE, gave all the living beings — plants and animals — an ability and autonomy to fulfil their needs for survival. For this purpose she also provided them with five autonomous functions: Work, Leisure, Health, Learning and Propagation. Srishti, also, does not give any authority to manipulate over these functions to any human or supernatural power or institution.

THERE IS NO NEED TO REPEAT HISTORY time and again. History is before us by its litter everywhere. Question is, is there any remedy to the problems created by the history? Whether we correct root cause/s of mistakes, or find new technology, or carry on status quo policy to make superficial changes, or import a readymade foreign technology? What for creativity / originality then?

People-conservation and Social balance
INDIAN FARMERS continue to commit suicides. About 300 million people are bellow poverty line (BPL). There is no reliable count of how many are living in sub-human conditions in the slums in cities. In the 21st Century of Gregorian calendar, there are 400 million illiterate Indians in the Age of Computer-literacy. How could this 'Janata' face the forthcoming annihilation from 'technocracy'?

Learning by Sharing
The urchins here give a Fundamental Lesson in Learning. By this indigenous method the whole India will be literate in five years. People's Need is Access to Resources.
New Education for Six Lakhs Villages
HOW TO DECIDE WHAT IS RIGHT EDUCATION FOR 900 PLUS MILLION PEASANTS? Who should be given priority, between Industry and Trade (organised sector), and peasants (unorganized sector)? About 90 crore people (not population) live in six lakhs villages. Which institution or media can give reliable facts about their despair in areas of food, water, education, health, agro-produce... and income? For this reason “Decentralization of Power” is an urgent need.

PREVAILING EDUCATION SYSTEM is being run for 60 years by making superficial adjustments time to time. There is no fundamental change. To bring a change following points must be attended and documented in details.

Survey of local conditions in six lakhs villages
THE SURVEY must be carried with villagers' participation at local level. Such a survey, not only becomes a part of people's education, but there is essential transparency. This must not be a sample surveys done by statisticians. The Census Surveys are insufficient.
1. Environment: natural, social, economic, educational, political etc. all aspects of environment;
2. Ecology: local language and vernacular, and their mnemonic knowledge, folk arts, the life-supporting skills in practice, traditional knowledge and tools used for living;
3. Energy: Climate, human-energy, animal-energy, bio-energy, mineral wealth, plant wealth, such as food, plants for oil-insecticide-medicine-aroma-building-colours & dyes-fibres-spices & condiments etc. Plants from land and waters, from algae-grasses to vines to giant trees;
4. Geography: location and regional linkages

Subjects for Rural Education
SUBJECTS AND TOPICS should cover all related areas that influence, affect, help that are relevant in the present situation of villages.
1. Water and land conservation, Farming & related topics, Animal husbandry, Biotechnology: (Remember that rice was domesticated 10,000 years ago, when civilised societies, cities, nations, and the word, biotechnology did not then exist.)
2. Development of Alternative Energy Sources that are used by the peasants, marketing, commerce;
3. Local self-government, land revenue, Land Acquisitions Act(?) etc. related laws;
4. This education should have field orientation;
5. Access to young and adult of all ages, genders, timings & batches suitable for peasants.
Buildings – Schools buildings – should be built in local vernacular technologies, using local materials, maintained and repaired by the locals, and not by the Public Works Departments (PWD) or third party such as contractors.

Epilogue
HOW MANY OF OUR 'CITIZENS', though they may have migrated from rural area in the past, know intimately any 'village' and its ‘Janata’? Many may be well versed in world geography, yet their personal world remains flat – two dimensional. The Sun and the Moon, however, move tirelessly around the Earth and meet each of our godforsaken villages, day and night.

THE VILLAGES must have their rightful share of resources of the nation. Their major stumbling block is education. If this is not restored to the People, the so-called 'progress', praised by others, mostly by the vested interests, may prove merely a 'pseudo-progress'.
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Related Posts
1. Politics of Literacy in India : Challenges of 21st Century
2. Farming: Politics of Education in India
3. Letters and Numbers, plus ‘Things to Make'
4. Work-Leisure-Health-Learning-Propagation

© 2011 Remigius de Souza | Mumbai

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Universal Holistic Definition of Environment in Five Words

Universal Holisti Definition in Five Words
Universal Holistic Definition of Environment in Five Words by Saint-Poet Tukaram

Saint-Poet Tukaram (17th century AD), of Maharashtra, India, defines “Environment” without mincing words.

It is unparalleled by any other definittion anywhere anytime. He doesn’t use adjectives or poetic embellishments to prove his point.

The definition combines Environment, Ecology and Energy in one go, in just five words.

It also proves that an environmentalist must be a spiritual person beyond professionalism, or a spiritual person must be an environmentalist; the rest is hypocrisy; there is no other way.

Environment is separated from Ecology and Energy by the technological capitalist society. Each of these is further broken into several compartments.

More advanced a civilised society more are divisions and subdivisions of its castes, classes that lead to fragmentation of society, consolidation of centralized power, but above all, the loss of holistic reality: LIFE is forgotten.

Tukaram reminds us that all living beings are interdependent. Hence there is need for moderation, particularly in ‘work’ to restore ‘leisure’ in daily living, irrespective of anyone’s place in any hierarchy – a president or a prime minister in the world of political environment, or a pauper in urban environment, or a peasant in the desert environment, or the "masses" in the social environmet.

LIFE – call it God of Creation or Nature of Evolution – is ruthlessly indifferent to arrogance, antics and assumptions of humans in general and the technologically advanced societies in particular.

Pollinator (Source: Nature)
NOTE: The relationship between forests, wildlife and pollination-dependant crops is crucial to increase the yield. Four hundred years later science is now developed with external aids/tools to see what Saint Tukaram says.

The recent scientific report finds that “…a pollination-dependent crop surrounded by plantations and natural forests, which comprised the matrix. Our analysis revealed a clear positive effect of the natural forest on the pollinator abundance, but the plantation forest had little effects" (Plantation vs. natural forest: Matrix quality determines pollinator abundance in crop fields | Nature Scientific Reports 28 October 2011)

Remigius de Souza

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Let A Billion Faiths Bloom

Let A Billion Faiths Bloom
by Remigius de Souza

Could there ever be a billion faiths, not one?
Could there ever be a billion gods, not one?
Could there ever be a billion incarnations?
Could there ever be one in love of Sovran Good?

Rather than in love of gods or ‘no-god’,
Or could I ever be relieved of loads on my head
Of history that grows with Ages with my growing age?
Let the billion faiths bloom in love of Sovran Good.
 
I met several cultures in places and among peoples
Like water that takes on colours of soil and skies
Putting my sole possession – my life at stakes
Beyond barriers of time and space, hell and heavens

Breaking loose, my life ether in flowering and fruition
Be a witness of the billion nameless in turmoil.
Let me be inside outside in love of Sovran Good.
Let the billion faiths bloom in love of Sovran Good.



Remigius de Souza | 27.04.2002 | Mumbai, India
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Hunger of Body and Mind & Sustainable Living

Hunger of Body and Mind & Sustainable living
by Remigius de Souza


Image - Engineer's Safety Key
(Author of this famous graphic not known; the interpretation is by Remigius de Souza)

We eat food to nourish body and also our mind by default. Hence wholesome food is elementary input to nourish mind.

Learning from books, as is mass education system, makes one dogmatic. It isn't enough also to see the world through media / Internet / books alone all the time.

We need to feed our mind also by watching down-to-earth reality under our feet, to feed and develop our perception, than merely on Virtual Reality.

With our entire senses alert, we put them to use that begins to watch self and around us; never to miss a detail as well as the whole, without bias.

Thus watching dispassionately we may witness reality as is. The Present, which is also the residue of the Past, then becomes all pervasive.

We then loose the shackles of the bygone past, as well as speculation of an unknown Future.

By actually holistic living here and Now, responsibly, we could spare a better tomorrow for the posterity, and enjoy ourselves wholesome Present. This is sustenance and Sustainable Living.

Living beyond the life of hydroponics

Food is considered our Basic Need. But like breathing, we are hardly aware of our action during eating-drinking.

We take Food for granted like Air that we breathe to keep us alive, more than our likes, dislikes and taste. This is a result of our prosperity – surplus economy – made possible by machine and market.
This also makes our thinking, working and thereby living a grand mechanical act, by default?

Are we either capable to produce even one percent of what we eat, or are we intelligent enough to perceive who produce our food? We are too busy to stop and think.

Are we not concerned about a large number of seven billion fellow humans go hungry?

Are we aware of our lifestyle on fast track that splurges resources taken from the earth on trivialities, which are actually 'external aids', particularly, in cities?

All this is in the name of “Our Lifestyle”: Indeed we live a life of hydroponics!

As Wealth and Waste grow in direct proportion, neither the rich nor the poor are spared from problems of heath – physical and mental. The rich suffer, for example, from obesity, while the poor are victims of malnutrition that cause sicknesses… Today’s story on BBC News Magazine, ‘India loses stomach for the pot belly’ gives a comprehensive picture.

Also read more on this issue: Civilization Trap In Our Era
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Civilization Trap In Our Era

Civilization Trap In Our Era
by Remigius de Souza

(CIVILIZATION TRAP was originally published in the Fourth World Review (FWR) | Editor John Papworth | Nos. 133 & 134, 2005, UK, p 16. The archives of FWR issues are available on http://www.4thworld.co.uk . This is an updated version.)
Quote: 
"…misapplied science has brought to the world's richest virgin lands a desolation compared with which the ravages of all the wars in history are negligible", (Jacks and Whyte, 'The Rape of the Earth').
MIGHTY CIVILIZATION AND EMPIRES have vanished, however, people prevail. Huge species like dinosaurs vanished, bacteria prevail.

But Industrial Civilization, from ‘Jenny’ to ‘Dolly’, monopolizes resources of the earth that belong to all the living beings.

It seems Industrial Civilization is in a great hurry to wipe out all living beings including 'other' humans (who don't subscribe to industrialization).

It takes on a role of God-the-creator to create enormous wealth and enormous waste with tools of science and technology, economy and market.

It, of course, shall vanish by its “over-specialization”, whether in big nations or small nations or societies. It is the lesson of history.

Thankfully, ‘the majority of the world still sustains outside the capitalist /socialist economy’, says Shanin, sociologist, in an interview (Teodor Shanin, How the other half live| New Scientist | 03 August 2002 | issue 2354, p 44). However the industrial civilization, through its puppets, tries hard to bring them into its dragnet.

It has created enormous number of institutions to control almost every aspect of living of an individual and the collective, which causes to end up loosing their autonomy of decision-making and action, therefore, their identity.

'Identity Crisis' is the result of mass type of civil society that reflects in today's worldwide unrest and in various forms of violence.

It is apparent in five autonomous functions of the living: Work 1, Leisure 2, Health 3, Learning 4 and Propagation 5. These functions are given by Mother Nature to all the living beings – from bacteria to plants and animals, including humans – to sustain. Morally there is no authority – an individual or an organization – to control these autonomous functions of living-beings – mosquito or man.

Now Industrial Civilization has taken over these functions, from the collective and an individual, of course, to capitalize for power and profit, through legal means.

Unfortunately, for example, the doses of 24x7 non-stop opium of Entertainment, called Leisure Industry, do not work! (A Great Epoch flies at a Tangent)

Some recent Examples:
WORK: 1. Farmers Strain to Hire American Workers in Place of Migrant Labour,but no takers for brown collar job in the US (Kirk Johnson | New York Times | October 5, 2011)
WORK: 2. UK unemployment total hits 17-year high (BBC NEWS, 16 March 2011)
HEALTH: Trillion-dollar brain drain: Enormous costs of mental health problems in Europe not matched by research investment. (NATURE | 4 October 2011 | Issue 478, 15)

Read More>> Michael Jackson is an epitome of great epoch

These are few recent stories of highly industrialized and wealthy nations. What could be imaginable condition of the Third World Nations?

Religion of science-technology, which is not universal phenomenon, failed to bring promised salvation to entire humanity globally or locally!
 
And the experts, who work in their boxes of specialization and have blinkered view of the world, find no answer/s.

In such a situation, can I be autonomous? Not until I reflect upon what I eat and wear and patronize, and why; until the end of all rationale beyond the most publicized term ‘Global’. Then there is possibility of creative action/ inaction. That’s what “Local” means.
--------------------------------- 
Quote:
...the social and finacial development which is called 
the industrial revolution. — H. G. Wells, 
A Short History of the World. 1922.
(Read: development 'of/in' inequality — my correction )
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Big Nations, Small Nations or Community Republics

Big Nations, Small Nations or Community Republics:
Aborigine Republics as Model for a Million Nations

Srishtiyoga means Reunion with Mother Nature
John Papworth often and rightly acclaims the Fourth World of ethnic communities... and small nations: Indeed 'small is beautiful'! That is, the autonomy – self-empowerment – of communities.

He, also, often says large nations will break up (which may include India). We saw break up of the USSR, and, also, coming together of European nations, the formation of EU. Perhaps both have been victims of economy in the present era!

Every region has its own natural, cultural, and prevailing political / economic conditions. The West grew with industrialization. However, the First World India, which often depends upon external aids, cannot be put on the same rank that of the EU or the US. The difference is it has no physical borders.

Even Urban India today cannot be called the First World India, because of the widespread presence of slum dwellers and the squatters, who are displaced and migrated from rural India.

There are more than 600,000 villages in India, where 70% Indians live, even after many have migrated to urban areas; no one knows 'how many'. (The Census Surveys miss the data of squatters in urban areas and along transit lines.) This is where the mainstream India is.

The Fifth World India

In Mumbai, they – the slum dwellers – are about 60 to 70 millions. So also in other metropolitan cities and towns.

The slum dwellers and squatters in urban areas belong to the Fifth World India -- the world of the marginalized, displaced and destitute in their homeland.

In this age of Information Technology, a very few may, or may not, perceive what ‘India’ is beyond the word Nation and the related dogmas. Even the idea of ‘Swaraj’, the self-rule, is fashioned after the British Raj, faces the same dilemma.

India may be better understood by an example of plants. Because plants have fewer needs than even animals.

In a patch of virgin forest several plant species coexist, so also wildlife, but certainly not the humans of advanced civilized societies. For them forest is for ruthless consumption or aesthetics of visual hedonism (tourism industry).

A large banyan spreads over centuries, over a large area and by its adventitious roots supports and balances itself. India is somewhat like that, now, of course, affected by the parasite of mega-cities -- the icons of centralized power in the civilized society.

Plants / forests don’t recognize the notion of 'nation'; so also many Indians. This idea of 'nationhood' cannot be measured by the ‘standards’, set by any authority or the so-called superior cultures. Their superiority, even in this age, is based on power of wealth, science-technology-economy-market and/or military! Isn't it barbarism!

Small nations or big nations! The quality of their citizens' personal and collective life at micro level remains to be assessed. It is impossible even at a town level.

Sample surveys at regional, national or international level are merely eyewash. They only pamper the ego of various vested interests - local or Global.

Nationhood needs to be tested on continued basis at micro-level of every individual's wellbeing in the functioning of the State! Indeed a tall claim! Any of the most efficient technology today is not capable to do this task. It is not as easy as sending a spaceship.

Clearly the Industrial Revolution, through science and technology, has failed to deliver the promised 'Utopia', called social and economic development, to mankind.

May be it has strengthened the powers of a miniscule minority section of Industrial Society. There is nothing to deify them, as the elite tend to do.

The science and technology are still in incubation stage — five thousand years of civilized society is pittance in geological time!

"For they know not what they do." And to know, what kind of and magnitude of calamity should befall upon them?

There is still a way out for the educated ignorant. There still exist numbers of republics of Aborigine Communities that hail from remote ancient times. They still exist in India and rest of world. Their time-tested wisdom helps them to sustain in spite of the onslaught by civilized societies. Their life-line is, in one word, Srishtiyoga, i.e. continued "Reunion with Mother Nature".

Aborigine Republics as Model for a Million Nations

Aborigine communities are "republics". This is not a concept but their millennia old unwritten practice.

These republics do not relate to the civilized concept or notion of 'nation', which is based on "ownership of land" and "centralized power" in civilized societies from beginning, or the start of "Urban Revolution".

The very civilized idea of "ownership of land" is most evil concept and is the "root cause" of all the strife mankind has been going through for 5000 years.

This statement will certainly not be palatable even to the atheist, agnostic or socialist sects, or not even to the so-called religious who believe in any branded God, or not even our friend John Papworth!

The suggestion to give-up "Ownership of Land" would amount to worst sacrilege of all; worst than "Original Sin".

There is lot to learn about a few fundamental things of living in harmony with Nature for us from the aborigines.

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Friday, 30 September 2011

These Offspring of Kali

By Remigius de Souza

Image 1: Ma Kali (Detail), Photo - Poulomee Das
  Kali - Goddess of Destruction and Regeneration,
is one of the three expressions of Shakti or Energy.
The other two are Lakshmi - goddess of sustenance
and Sarasvati - Goddess of Learning.

I jump on an incoming evening seven thirteen train
to secure a window seat.
As I open 'Leaves of Grass' the first line noticed,
declares, 'Sing on there in the swamp' in
the 'Memoirs of President Lincoln'.

An urchin occupies the seat next to me
With harmonium on her lap;
Her fingers wide apart, search for a pitch across
on the bars, high low, high low,
from maintain picks to deep seas.

She settles on a pitch appropriate to the crowded train
in motion, plays a pop movie song.
On the threshold of sprouting youth, her dark face
And full eyes glowed divine grace;
She is sound personified.

Her wards, two little sisters, one recites the songlines;
The other with tiny folded hands;
They appeal to the softer edges of weary home-going crowd;
They, not belonging to the mundane, remain
Untouched by hostilities or sympathies.

The Time atomised; there is no yesterday, tomorrow neither.
The concert moves to the next compartment.
They have not lost either their fragrance of innocence
Or dignity of untimely adulthood,
In the energies creative to sustain.

The last straw of hope, yet for the Post-historic
Civilization of exploitation
These offspring of Kali, until they open
The Third Eye imminent
To make way for regeneration.
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Image 2: Ma Kali, Photo by Poulomee Das
(Written, 1980s)
Notes 1: 21st century is witnessing uprisings of the poor at many places. This has been happening in the past, but now it is simultaneously a Global Action, as a result of Global Oppression by invisible tentacles of invisible global Capitalist Powers.
2: Images 1 and 2: Photographs by Poulomee Das show Head (detail) and the full form of the deity – Kali – made by the traditional Bengali artisans.

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© Remigius de Souza. all rights reserved.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Seeds of Hybrid-Cultured Mass Society

Seeds of Hybrid-Cultured Mass Society

Hybrid seeds of food-grains came much later. 
By then industrialization had successfully bred the hybrid culture through the assembly lines of mass education to produce mass society in the First World Nations, now named the (virtual) Global Village.

The result: "hybrid culture of mass society" who have no posterity ― no community, like hybrid seeds that have no second/third generation crop. 
Peasants must buy seeds for next crop from the markets. 
The culture of mass society characterizes its loss of autonomy to think and act on their own; now it is decided by the visible/invisible rulers.

No wonder, for the likes of the Gandhi, the Schumacher, the Thoreau… there are no takers on the assembly lines: no germination, no posterity.
They rest in peace in the archives, except for occasional ‘quotes’ in discourses by pundits and politicians.
They are already a part of the past, like socialism, radical humanism, modern, post-modern, Art Nouveau… but no action.

"Hybrid Culture of Mass Society" ia a milestone in the five thousand year old history of Civilized Society!

(04.07.05)

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Monday, 11 July 2011

'Tentacles' of Octopus Remi: Art in Metafiction

'Tentacles' of Octopus Remi: Art in Metafiction
By Remigius de Souza

"Srishti – Mother Nature – has Plenty to share; Nothing for sell; Nothing to buy. That is 'Reunion with Mother Nature' – Srishtiyoga." (SRISHTIYOGA July 7, 2011)

‘Tentacles’ | Remigius de Souza| 1987 | water colour or paper

Octopus Paul the Predictor one day suddenly came in limelight.

What was the cause? It predicted results of the World Cup 2010. That took the First World Nations by storm.

Twitter was crowded by twits that blocked the site for few hours! Such a craze... blind faith! That too from so-called advance societies! Amazing!

A European nation was even ready to buy that animal.

'Tentacles', Remigius de Souza's self-portrait, was published on Net but none was moved. Not even his friends!

Remi generally doesn't look into mirror. Because he notices 'octopus' in the mirror! What then could be his misery while wandering the streets of Mumbai metropolis?

He notices millions of people (his aborigine and peasant kinfolks) in the glass-clad multi-storied buildings mushrooming in the concrete jungle. But that never stops Mumbai!

Octopus Paul was a baby, lost to its community and natural habitat. After a few months it died. Relieved!

Did anyone ask Octopus Paul the predictor before it died, "When will this modern Industrial Civilization, which has become powerful within few centuries, vanish?" We have not heard.

Oh, what do you ask! The very strength of the powerful is their weakest point. There is a mythological Indian story of Bhasmasur that repeats again and again.

In reality the mighty industrial society has gone — if not dead, decayed — with the octopus.
 
In this self-portrait, 'Tentacles', Remi notices himself swallowing Natural Environment by his tentacles spreading and reaching across regions far and wide.

Call it his misfortune or his fate of unwanted share, or call it a ruthless criticism on Industrial Civilization. Words, images, movies, myths, scriptures, prophets, avatars... all tools to earn (power and profit) and/or entertainment! Does it make any difference?

Remi, however, laughs at himself at his cost.

NOTE: 1. As we write this post, there comes news about, Shuttle Atlantis docks with space station for last time! What a relief for the hungry masses of the world!! Better late than never!!!
2. Remi doesn’t watch cricket, hokey, football or such events as well as Olympics, World Cup etc. for he believes that any game must be played for leisure, and such mass events consolidate the centralized powers.
3. I have corrected some errors and edited this post. I request the subscribers to please bear with me. Thanks!



Mumbai Metropolis on Google Map

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Anyone for brown collar job?

Is there anyone for brown collar job? (metafiction)



Brown collar job means farming agriculture etc. – as an art.

Farming is a highest form of art; a compound of art and science; the beginning of biotechnology (current biotechnology, now, is in the safe custody of intellectual property rights); and constant contact with five primal elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space, as some Indians believe.

However in the Age of ET-IT who would be ready for such a job, in India? Today 'mostpeople' [1] prefer white collar or blue caller job; job that pays cash and perks! Who does need to work that feeds! Haven’t their forefathers made enough estate!

Who does wish to toil in soil-muck, sun-rain-cold? Soil has become ‘untouchable’ in the age of progress and development, and the farmers are non-entities.

"Farming is best, Commerce is medium, Service is low"

When was it we often heard this idiom? Our nation, then, was on the threshold of Independence. What dreams did our toiling peasants may have had seen?


Water Woes –1: Taxing the life of the displaced Indian peasants in Mumbai
Today, however, we notice a different scenario. The farmers are debt-ridden, some chose to commit suicide, they are left without literacy and appropriate education for six decades, their life-line – land – is legally acquired for the benefit of the First World India.


Water Woes –2: Taxing the life of the displaced Indian peasants in Mumbai
They are getting displaced from their ancestral homestead as a price of India’s progress and development. Millions of displaced villagers move to cities, megacities in hordes. You could notice them in towns, cities and mega-cities in the slums and along transit lines.

Field days for commission agents

And now commission agents, pimps of progress, have a field day to make hay, and to reap profits in free trade and globalized market. From the farms to the end-users, the farm-products go through a chain of brokers and sub-brkers.


Now, we hear, it is alleged that even employment in bureaucracy has 'extra' earning according to the status in the hierarchy.

Bureaucracy everywhere

As a result bureaucracy has penetrated from schooling to institutions – not only governmental institutions but also other public and private, social and political organizations
. It has entered even in the ancient institution of 'family': it is worth investigating the break up of family, which has been the unit of community (i.e. a cohesive collective), most essential for democracy.

Alienation of the educated

The root cause of 'alienation of the educated' is in the mass education started by the British. Any changes subsequently made in the prevailing education system in the independent India have been superficial by knee-jerk reaction, which do not take account of the culture of plural mass (sic) society.

“Pangira” – Marathi movie exempted from entertainment tax

'Pangira' is a recent movie in regional language, Marathi. It is about the plight of farmers. It is more of a documentary, though it has a story based on a Marathi novel by Mr. Vishvas Patil. Maharashtra government obviously has exempted it from entertainment tax.

The movie ends with a gory event – police firing on agitated farmers, killing several of them. Such violence is a typical in movies and reality.

Unfortunately, the movie ends at an event where it should have started! Firing and killing the farmers is not the end / answer to farmers' plight. This story / movie has missed an opportunity provide creative alternative to the system.



This reminds us of a novel by Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, 'Pather Dabi' (The Demand of the Road, 1926), based on armed uprising for freedom of India. It was banned by the British. The ban was lifted after Independence. The book ends with constructive creative option in precise words. We quote a specific paragraph near the end of novel:
Sarat Chandra Chatterjee wrote about 100 years ago [2]

“... from now onwards to serve village is my only solemn vow. Once there was such a time that village was life of our agrarian country Bharat. Village only was her bone-vein-blood. Today that village is on the way of destruction, the elite leave village and come to a city, from city itself they wield power upon village and from there they do exploit them. If they have any relation it is only this, none other. May they not keep? But until now the farmer who provided them with food for belly and cloth for body, that same farmer today is starving, is illiterate, and is haplessly on the way to death! Now onwards I shall devout myself for their welfare. Bharati also has agreed to help me wholeheartedly in this work. Now we will open school in villages. if need be, she accepted to teach children moving from house to house. My sanyas is for the country - not for myself, doctor."


Every year lakhs of science graduates come out of universities; some of them are biologists or botanists. Most of them end up doing clerical jobs. Their learning in science disciplines does never leave the laboratory and come "down to earth"!
Notes:
1. The term “mostpeople” is used by poet E. E. Cummings referring to people who don’t practice creativity.
2. This quote is translated from Marathi translation titled “Savyasachi” by the late B. V. Varerkar, and not from the original in Bengali (pages 399-400). It is only for information in simple language.


Related to this post

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Indian Farmers' Woes and Joys



Key Word: Art, Farming (i.e. Agriculture, Aquaculture and Horticulture (forestry) collectively or separate)

Five Elements
Traditional farmers’ lives that depend on monsoon are almost identical in many regions of the world. Hence the following text is inclusive.

Very few would ever believe farmers are artists. Farmers' art is most risky vocation, among all types of occupations, professions and vocations. Even a few may not understand this fact though they may know what is farming.
Haiku by Remigius de Souza
Farmer's art takes place on real field down to earth. Like in words, painting, photography etc. it does not create virtual reality. Farmers take the colours from Mother Nature - Srishti, of five elements, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space, and on a canvas of small or big plot of land; he works with contemplation. They are never verbose. They are fully in contact with every nook and corner of their farm; likewise the health of all the plants.
Haiku by Remigius de Souza
Farmers are not only artists, they are also planners, but not like town planners, who flatten the lakes and land, and cut it into pieces, make their 2D drawings to build 3D art of cities. Farmers use undulating land for management and conservation of water and land.
Poem by Remigius de Souza
Farmers are management experts, too! They manage land, water, seeds, fodder, weeding, manure, tools, carting, storage, other food crops, rearing animals and birds. And equally important are the repairs, maintenance, examination, improvement and policy planning in every aspect of home and farm, which is part of their homestead. All of these, they do within available resources. Many farmers may be ill-literate but are not 'un-educated' as the elite think.
Poem by Remigius de Souza
Traditional sculptors, for years, make Ganesha, Durga idols in clay. They are aware the deities are to be immersed. Yet they work with devotion, faith, without boredom. Farmers too work with same dedication. Their labour of love, therefore, is elevated to the status of 'vocation', of art. In their karma there is element of contemplation – Dhyan – hence it is 'spiritual' too. Traditional farming also involves action by Community Participation.
Haiku by Remgius de Souza
Politicians are like white clouds.
The educated elite class have an impression that farmers work only four months (during the season) and the rest of year lazy around. Even the experts like Amartya Sen are not exception. What about the governments and bureaucrats?
Haiku by Remigius de Souza | Image by Soojung Cho
More than natural calamities, the real cause of farmers' woes and miseries are the government and bureaucracy, market and industry, and their wrong priorities of progress and development.

Note: There is lot to learn from farmers:
1. Watering the farms: Learning from the people. Governments could learn how to save resources, particularly currency spent for development, and seal its draining at the bureaucratic level - the starting point, which consumes its major part.
2. Cow dung, Rice and Amartya Sen (a critique):Challenges of 21st Century
3. SEE: Soojung Cho’s Artworks of Inner Vision (http://www.soojungcho.com/home.htm )
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Minimal, Minimalist, Minimalism Defined


Key Words: Minimal, Minimalist, Minimalism, Environmentally Sustainable, Art, Science

Minimalism started as a trend in art and design in the west. However, minimalist way of living, objects or artefacts have been existing from unknown times. Customarily it refers to art and design, which puts it in a box of a fashion, where a person may not 'walk the talk'.

Minimal is not minimum, but is to go beyond or achieve the best within minimum in living, thought and action. Minimal implies essential; it is not merely simple. It is neither junk or trash nor extravaganza.

Definitions, however, limit the scope of the defined. We, therefore, start with examples, and arrive at our definitions according to our perceptions. There is no formula! However, it may not be out of place here to add Universal Definition of Design by Nature written by Martin Jones, bio-archaeologist.

Let us start with primary and most familiar examples: Water (by Mother Nature) and Food: Roti – 'bread' (home made – by Mom).

Water is one of the minimalist creations by Mother Nature

WATER is fascinating Element: It soft, malleable, takes the shape of a container, always goes down the soil or to meet the sea, in heat vaporizes, moves meekly around obstacles on the way, cuts through rocks, mixes salts-minerals of soils… 70% of our body is water.

But there comes a time, when this taken-for-granted and often ignored element dances Shiva's Tandav of tsunami!

Water in Science
Water (defined as: 'H2O') is one of all the expressions, creations of Mother Nature! As a matter of fact, all her creations – from microbes to mammals, from algae to giant banyan – are minimal events. This sets an example and also a definition of 'minimal'. Mother Nature is our first and the last Guru!

Such tsunamis also happen in civilized societies. Whenever the arrogant and powerful classes / castes exploit and push the lowly – the sea of people – to the brink of subsistence, the waves of tsunami arise. This is the power within 'minimal'!

Roti as food is minimalist act

FOOD: vegetables, roots, tubers, grains, fruits... each of these have their unique taste, flavour and nutrition. They are also revealed by minimal process and in eating them fresh.

But having four meals a day, on full stomach, we can't fancy their tastes and nourishment; we find it ordinary. We become imaginative and add embellishments, decorations, ornaments... new experiments, processes in preparations of food.

There begins a market competition and struggle to make tasty exotic foods. It is just as we try to beautify our body as if... in this extraordinary creation by Mother Nature was incomplete!

Most elementary food is Roti – flat round Indian bread, and its regional variations. It is by now known in many parts of the world. Roti is made of flour of different grains: maize, rice, millet, finger millet, bulrush millet, barley or wheat. Rich Indian biodiversity also offers variety in various grains.

To make Roti all that you need are: Tava - a concave plate of clay or iron to bake, a wooden or metal plate to knead flour, salt, Chulah – hearth – of clay or just three stones, brush wood for fire  and, of course, water. I believed Roti is indeed a 'minimal' food, until I tasted baked maize loaf made by Bhill aborigines.

Henry D. Thoreau in 'Walden' (pp 99-101) writes about bread by Red Indians, which may not be different from maize Roti made by Bhill and other aborigines and peasants in India. Thoreau writes by experiments and experience of Indian bread, not by impressions.

Minimalist maize loaf by Bhill aborigines

Bhill Festival at Mahi River, Kadana, Gujarat

It was three day annual fair during spring on Chaitri Poonam (full moon day: this year on 18-04-2011). Bhills from Gujarat, MP and Rajasthan states had gathered on the white sands on bank of Mahi River among hills near village Kadana.

I camped there for three days and nights in the open (no bed, no sleeping bag) among Bhill families. At night all would sleep around campfires. They get up at an early hour. First the women take bath in the river, and then men follow. As I come out of warm water I felt thousand pin pricks. No sooner the Sun appears the water becomes very cold. After bathing it is time for breakfast.

Adivasi women started to prepare breakfast, before daybreak. They made balls of kneaded maize flour, wrapped each in the leaves of a specific plant and put them in the campfire. By the time bathing is over the freshly baked maize loaves are ready for breakfast.

The taste, flavour and nutrition of the maize loaf were extraordinary. It remained in my memory as unique and only experience of lifetime. And also the memory of their warm hospitality, though I was a total stranger.

Ingredients of maize loaf are flour, salt, river water, wooden bowl, leaves and brushwood fire; that's all. This could truly be called ‘minimal’ and 'environmentally sustainable' food and way of living, both.

'It is Walking, not the Way' — Vatsyayana      

Hunger is basic to body and mind. Food nourishes both, body and mind. Yet we are only custodians of our body and mind. In transplant operations heart is kept alive outside of body by supplying energy. Why boast it is my heart?

Minimal object is possible when one follows minimal 'way of living', which can't be called 'life-style': No compromises.
Ancient flute of bone 30000 ybp (Credits: NYTimes)

Note: There are number of "minimal" artefacts people use. Bamboo flute is has ancient origine. Archaeologists have discovered 30,000 years old bone flute some time back. I took my lesson on slate. People still take lessons on slate; Rangoli is another ancient example of "minimal" (land) art.Traditional nine yard Sari in India is single piece dress for women, which is a minimal artefact; many do not even wear a blouse. However a bikini, which is displayed on a fashion ramp, is only a minimum object, and must not be mistaken as minimal. In his paintings Raja Ravi Varma uses Sari for his female subjects. Haiku in poetry is indeed minimalist.

Rangoli inscribed on Mumbai's roadside pavement
Swastika in the centre of this image is repeated for ages
  a million times by women in India.
It is believed this action draws Cosmic Energies.
Remigius de Souza | Mumbai
22-04-2011

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Indian Schooling

In the year 1947 India's population was about 400 millions, and 60% to 70% persons were illiterate. Presently there are 400 millions illiterate persons. What at the beginning of 20th century G. K. Gokhale attempted, to bring 'free and compulsory education to all, is still not fulfilled.


Indian Schooling

I HAD AN OPPORTUNITY to watch a short play on Door Darshan (DD), India's State TV channel, on 21-09-1989, in the afternoon transmission. It was on the occasion of International Year of Literacy. The play was about schooling. Now I, sort of, admire its main actors, Sulabha Deshpande and A. K. Hangal. I consider them to be respectable artists in the Indian cinema, TV and theater.

The play is obviously propaganda for the good cause of the spread of education by schooling. In the play an old lady (Sulabha Deshpande) wants the little boy to go to school so that he does not remain stupid like her old man (A. K. Hangal).

The boy looks after the goats and does not want to go to school. At last the old lady sells the goats. But the boy is upset. He refuses to go to school. He even attacks the other boys who come to take him bodily to school.

I wondered if Hangal and Sulabha pondered for a while over the treatment of the theme!
Here the goats are projected as the pets in the affluent families like pedigree dogs, horses, cats etc. For a villager a goat, cow, buffalo or hen is a means of livelihood.

Why then is the old man said to be stupid? Is it because he is poor? He is poor perhaps because he has been exploited first by British rulers and now by the industrialized society in India?

Why is schooling so important that one should give up the very means of livelihood – goats? Why is the rearing of animal so inferior? (Well. Some people consider that the goat is an enemy of forestation. Forestation means left over — whatever that is left after modern man — has eaten away the forest. Otherwise the goat is a sturdy animal which can live in the deserts as well as mountains, in hot as well as cold climate and is most economical to maintain for the poor. Its milk is medicinal.)

I wondered, couldn’t a goat, a tree, a paddy field, the making of an earthen pot, or moving of a plough in the field be part of schooling in India?

Why can’t actual cooking or preparing food, treating the sick, growing a kitchen garden, Milking a goat or a cow (the method of milking is different for each of these animals), making a toilet, urinal, treating garbage in the village, potatoes and onions, water and washing, sand dunes and ravines, cyclones and floods be part of schooling — actually, not merely verbally — not merely on the blackboard — either inside or outside the school building?

But the system the British started is so powerful that there is not much change except in nomenclature and timings.The so-called educationalists are still in the grip of the system started by the British. The play that was shown on DD is typical of the way the educated, the urban elite project schooling and education.

What if 5.57 lakhs of villages in India gave up rearing animals?

What if every family of 557 thousand households brings up graduates, masters and doctorates? Then, perhaps, those sitting in the chairs will lose the power game, of musical chairs; they play with lives of poor people. Finally, what is the relevance of present day English-made schooling in the eyes of these villages where 70% of the population is still illiterate?

This English-made system of education has not much changed since it started in this vast country made up of villages having a variety of landscapes, regions, climates, dresses, tongues, topography.

I take a little time off to ponder meanwhile this ‘natak’ (play or Tamasha) of Door Darshan brings insult and humiliation to realities of living in an Indian village!

For further reading: 1. Politics of Literacy in India; 2. Farming and the Politics of Education in India; 3. One Step Quantum Jump in Education; 4. Letters and Numbers, plus ‘Things to Make': Restructuring (Indian) Education 

Note: After twenty years I find this note is still valid. It has not changed the situation other than few numbers, while the population is growing. I republish it.

[Published in (1) GOGRAS, publishers Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh, Vardha, India 442001, March 1990, year 14, issue 5, p. 236-7; (2) FOURTH WORLD REVIEW, Issue 44, p 14, The Close, 26 High Street, Purton, Wiltshire SN5 9AE, UK. 1990]
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Friday, 1 April 2011

All Fools’ Day


All Fools’ Day 


Whatever may be, it’s my doing,
by choice or by force, that I forget;
my rush ends it in half-hearted doing
and in endless strife I am caught.

In my fear of loosing my doing
no moment spared to stop and look
from all sides around, inside out,
at all levels, in all dimensions:

much of it I am ignorant.
On the fast track of one dimension
never knew when I lost myself;
never realised I am the means;

and I am the end. A product, an idea,
a thought, an act, or a concept
in time is perishable and transient:
no sooner born belongs to the past.


In stagnant water all actions stink.
But waters of life are always flowing,
condensing, evaporating, raining,
reflecting; that’s the nature of water,

of life born in water, but not my doing.
In looking at doing, the doing ceases.
At the core of ocean prevails
Silence pregnant with new life.


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Remigius de Souza | Mumbai | 26 March 2004
NOTE: 1. Image "The Fool" from Tarot pack is occult system, and has no connection to western custom of "April Fools' Day".
2. Image credits- "The Fool" from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck.
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.