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Posts Tagged ‘self-interest’

Eternal India is an idea. It is what Indians would like to see their country and they cannot feel but pride of their spiritual heritage. They also see a way of life in which the epics and countless of temples serving the people and disentangle spiritual confusion; a place to contemplate and submerge their selves into the eternal cycles of rebirth and being one with the cosmic force.. Irony of such a life of dharma in which the mundane world pales into shadows is nowhere practiced. Did this cardinal virtue of India evaporate into thin air?
In my youth it was somewhat axiomatic that a householder took to Aranyawas on reaching sixty. He had put his active life behind and paid obligation to his family and the society. He took to vana (the woods) where by inhabiting some solitary spot in the forest to meditate and he hoped to merge mentally with the forces of nature.
But already there were changes taking place as India won Independence.. Whenever a sanyasi was spotted on the streets word spread around to watch out. The class of ascetism that was revered in Ancient India was not what it used to be. They were seen by ordinary people prowling around to snatch young boys and girls if had a chance. Sadly I must admit this aspect of Eternal India like the fabled Atlantis had sunk into oblivion while currents of liberty and democracy were ringing in the air.
In India I could find nationalism of Gandhi sending ripples of excitement and also reactionary currents that on looking back was imbibed from National Socialism in Germany. Eternal India from experience turned out to be nothing more than a private South Seas such as Gauguin and Melville,- idyllic in innocence and simplicity, they had harbored. Nothing was farther than in reality. America in the 19th century had two kinds perception of a private Europe from which they drew spiritual strength, classicism and traditions while the youthful America thought of skyscrapers and the impossible. It was happy amalgam that worked as one to enable them to become the pioneers in the modern world where technology and politics were given new dimensions that worked. Such a single vision reconciling several strands of societal innovations of rural and urban India never come as one.
Casteism had shown itself too potent and self-interest and privileges of communities had blighted politics right through and through to let any politician think differently. ( to be cont’d)
benny

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On the festival eve the slaves gathered together for the Happy Hour, a custom that the master had allowed on special occasions. There they sat around reclining on boards. Before them were plates of meat, vegetables, dry fruits and cheese set on tables. Of course there were plenty of wine to drink. Aesop sat between two slaves who had a running feud between them only put under the lid because of their master. Here they were drinking merrily and trading insults while Aesop sat between. Archilochus who looked after the cellar kept at it while Bolus returned insult for insult. At one point Archilochus hit the floor stone drunk. Instantly Bolus took over and gently guided him out and helped to get over the effects of the drink. It surprised Aesop and he asked Bolus when he returned to the drink. Bolus explained he knew the limit of his enemy. “He can hold it only so much, no more.”
Seeing his puzzled expression he added, “I am subject to fits. When it comes he is the only one who know the signs and he sees to that I do not hurt myself.” Later when Aesop narrated the incident Hesiod said, “It is only good sense to see your best interests above what differences you may have with others.”
(Selected from The Life of Aesop)
benny

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Hero or Zero?

If we study history closely we see that man is often manipulated by larger forces at work. Then as now. Little by little, a man who is in positions of trust and authority often serves the interests of  some party or of such forces that are in ascendancy. What controls were set in place after the Great Depression was in the 80s were circumvented to allow risk taking as a virtue to be rewarded. What was the buzzword of that time? ‘Greed is good.’  Investment banking and hedge funds came into being as a result. Let us now look at an example from the time of American war of Independence. The scene is set in France, though.
In 1783 Treaty of Paris was convened to ratify American Independence during which one of the demands made by Britain was free-trade provision for its control of the Atlantic trade. (You may imagine Britain’s position as somewhat similar to what America holds now.) By a separate treaty of 1786 France was forced to accept terms that were suicidal. By accepting it the French economy was ruined overnight. From 2% annual real physical growth in the 1770s and early 1780s, France’s textile, shipping, mining and agriculture went into a downward spiral resulting in famine in many places. Naturally the royal budgets collapsed, and in stepped the banker Jacques Necker as the Finance Minister and First Minister. He was the Swiss agent for Lord Shelburne(  Prime Minister, Whig,  1782 – 1783) If you look into Necker’s antecedents you shall see he wasn’t entirely clean in his dealings: By 1762 he was a partner and by 1765, through successful speculations, had become a very wealthy man. He soon afterwards established, with another Genevese, the famous bank of Thellusson, Necker et Cie. Pierre Thellusson superintended the bank in London -his son was made a peer as Baron Rendlesham, while Necker was managing partner in Paris. Both partners became very rich by loans to the treasury and speculations in grain. ack:wikipedia)) and he through his contacts in Geneva and London brought in huge international loans to fund the royal budgets from 1787 onwards. (His service was something akin to IMF coming to the aid of developing nations.) Apparently his policy ‘Compte Rendu’ was meant to subject the royal treasury to transparency and austerity and in practice it made Louis XVI under the financial mercy of Necker, and the banking interests he represented. The kings attempt to regain control led directly to storming of the Bastille in which the populace cried themselves hoarse for reinstating Necker, the man who really was responsible for their ruin!
benny

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