Monday, November 25, 2013

Bharat Ratnas of Sa-Chin-tamani: Going by their chins

This year's Bharat Ratna has been given to two people for whom the upper class of India --- irrespective of their politics, class and caste --- have no hesitation in declaring their greatest admiration. They richly deserve the award, even if I am nobody to authenticate this richness. 

IBoth Sachin Tendulkar and Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao (CNR) are appreciated by a very large number of people if one normalizes by the intellectuality of their profession. It is another matter that the cricket of Tendulkar earned considerable amount of money for companies he advertised for and that catered to upwardly mobile IT crowd. It is also another matter that science in India is exclusive (elite, select, restricted, limited, private, fashionable, special) and rarely inclusive (comprehensive, wide-ranging, all encompassing, complete, broad, general). Both Sachin and CNR were after accumulation of records/honours amassing runs/publications at rates that are way beyond that of even extra-ordinary mortals. 

The question we may have to leave for the future is the real impact that they had on the aam aadmi.Tendulkar has stopped piling runs for official records. He has reached the top and he's gotta stop and that's not bothering him. CNR, by his own accord I suspect, has not reached the top he wanted --- the Nobel. That's why he will not stop. All the best to him. 

What makes them the Ratnas they are? I could not know. My aspirations have stopped at the level of sackcloth and ashes of a garib Brahmoner chele (the son of a poor Brahmin). Accordingly I am one of those who only stand and applaud. 

At a first level, when one looks for the first things. I have sometimes wondered whether the aspirations of Sachin Tendulkar  and Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao, match their first names. 

Sachin is supposed to mean 'chaste' or 'pure'. Every critique of Sachin's cricked has waxed eloquent about the style in his craft. His last innings. his 200th test innings at Wankhede was a testimonial to his perfection of technique.  This perfection is not obvious to Indian traditions nor will it be obvious to a major league baseball player. But it is obvious to the British House of Commons which passed, without discussion, a resolution honoring Sachin, introduced by an MP of Indian origin. A little complex, this world is!

The Chintamani of CNR's name is after his birth place. This place is said to have been named after its last Maratha chieftain, a Chintamani Rao. The name Chintamani is a more complex word. In my prejudice, it is probably of Buddhist origin. In Buddhismm itt is the jewel that helps one to understand the path of Buddha or the path of enlightenment or truth. It is a wish fulfilling jewel according to the internet. It also means a philosopher's stone transforming base metal into gold. The philosopher's stone is the basis of alchemy. The connection of Chintamani with CNR seems to be natural. Both are exceptional jewels! The name Chintamani is now, after the Bharat Ratna, well deserved. of course. 

We do not know how names influence careers. Nobody calls CNR by his first name, Chintamani, or even as Chin in an American way. Nagesa  is his father's name. His close friends know him as Ram from Ramachandra. That is royalty as is Rao.. CNR has lived upto his full name. 

There is also a vital difference between Sachin and CNR. Sachin had three half-siblings and it was his step-brother who nurtured his cricket career to curb (Wikipedia) his earlier aggressive tendencies. All that Sachin had to do after that was to play. Listening to interviews in rcent times, it now seems that it is Ajit that has looked after Sachin's philosophical and aspirational needs. CNR is an only child. He had to fend for himself, drive himself, achieve himself, and bask in his awardsl by himself, 

I have personally known Professor Rao rather well  for twenty years between 1970 and 1990. I do think that in its heydays the bond between him, his wife Indumathi Rao, and me and my wife Lalitha was very close even if we did not need to make a public display of it. The closeness may seem to be decreasing to zero  over the years even if it asymptotically. What remains for me in the asymptotic limit now is still an immense respect and affection for them. This respect and affection is for his intrinsic and giant joi de vivre or bonhomie (easy, good-humoured friendliness) that is epitomized in the aura emanating in the picture below. 

There is a genuine-ness in CNR that cannot be denied! Part of this sunshine  is due to the personality of his wife (extreme right in the Norman Rockwellin picture below, where every face tells its story), who really nurtured him to provide a warm security that only a full understanding can provide. I must honestly say that despite forty years having passed, the youthful glow has not diminished!  As somebody said "Age cannot wither ... nor custom stale..." this glow. If there is any change it may be in the number of pens he uses. He had four different-colored pens for editing manuscripts then. There is only one now in his pocket in this computer age.
We have since grown in different ways, I in my own little world striving for a little spontaneous recognition for my work; and he conferring his much-sought-after recognition to the whole world. I have often basked in this sunshine and I am thankful for the warmth of his personality. I have my own reasons for doing science. He has his dufferent reasons. I suspect that I enjoy my science as much as he does. Otherwise there is no comparison. By alll accounts he is a giant of a personality and deserves every bit of the honor that ranks him, say, with Vishweshariah or Nehru. If he had gone into music I wonder whether he would have matched Bhimsen Joshi or Bismillah Khan. I think he would not have been insane enough for that/

Sachin's career began near the time I parted with the CNR. I was close to fifty at this time. Despite my lack of affection for the public-time-wasting aspects of cricket, there was something iundefined but immediately liked in  the body-language  of the sixteen-year-old  young-John-Mcenroe-look-alike, playing David-and-Goliath-like against the pace of a hostile "arch-enemy" that drew attention.  He survived it with glory and the rest as they say is history. As far as I can deduce, Sachin's professional chart zoomed distinctly upwards after his marriage.

CNR's first medal was the Marlow Medal of Faraday Society Royal Society. The announcement of this award in front page of Indian newspapers influenced my decision to join his laboratory.

In a way the career chart of both these ratnas has a similarity that seems to reflect the character of Indian achievers who come from a poor scholarly Brahmin home. 

In the absence of an all-embracing pan-national standard we--- hindus, muslims, christians, parsees, brahmins, Kshariyas, Vysyas, Kayasthas, bengalis, Tamil, Assamese, Naga, Punjabis, Haryanavis, Marwadis, Gujarathis, Kannadigas, Marathis,faircomplexioned, whet complexioned, dark as Tagore's krishna kali, --- strive for recognitions of the alien kind. The vocal middle class that has become increasingly alienated from the desi type and dependent more and more on in-comiings of outsourcing-mulah. The scholarliness that seems to come naturally to "brahmin" families of whatever caste or nationality is distinctly on the wane.

There is something about middle-class India in accumulating marks and be first-in-class so that they go on to a good job. The early British Empire hired them to be clerks and serve the empire in distant bungalows, being served in turn by their maalis (gardeners), bawarchi (cooks) and peons. That was a style to be aspired for. It allowed them a lording over their own kind. It is this style of the Viceroy that is Rashtrapati Bhanvan. t is this that drives us towards doing ti things beneficial to extra-Indian  societies instead of for desis or adivasis instead.

When one is around CNR (I have alway addressed him as Professor Rao; he kept his distance from perceived juniors) one cannot but be overwhelmed by his many personalities for various occasions. When I first joined him there was a Winter school in Solid State Chemistry attended by Professor John Goodenough among others. CNR wowed me by naming every participant and  their affiliation without error. at the dinner for the school. Since that time I have been amazed at the way he tucks information of all kinds, social as well as scientific, and to pull them out at the most appropriate time, regaling audience with jokes, and convincing scientists with statistics. In his younger days, when I first joined him (around 35) at IIT Kanput through my good friend S. Ramdas, he was very informal... we had free access to his office room in the evenings... there were dinners almost every month in his home with delicious cooking of Mrs. Rao, there were dinners in restaurants, there was loud laughter at home by those few who saw no harm in laughing. Once at a picnic in Nandi Hills where chicken was brought to be cooked but the fire could not be lit, he crawled on all fours to light the fire finally, He smoked a heavy pipe and kept telling us how he would be the first to know if hydrogen cyanide was leaking in the laboratory.  

When he came down to the Indian Institute of Science from IIIT Kanpur, I had come along with him and so I know how he began at IISc. H literally started his life in a barn. I suspect that Satish Dhawan  indulged his desires and pushes. A kind soul lent him a part of his laboratory for wet work, a car shed somewehere else was converted to a laboratory for his photoelectron spectrometer, another lab for animal experiments was converted to a space for his spectroscopic work, Later he got money for his Mateirals Research Laboratory, Building where he had a decent-ish office space. He lived in a modest hired bungalow-like space in the Patankar layoutin Malleshwaram, walked a good two kilometers to his office every day, while Indumathi Rao would be going round one her moped. CNR would be crawling on all four in his garden first thing in the morning growing the biggest hibiscus  in his little garden. 

CNR is extremely patriotic and like many like us he must have been impressed by Nehruvian socialism. He was genuinely intersted in finding funding for his Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Science. One of the amazing tales of this unit is that the building of this large unit was kept so closely guarded, that we, supposedly in his nearness, knew about it only when it was to be inaugurated as a complete building. It mus be a fulfilment of his wishes that his first grandchild was born on Nehru's birthday (or so I have been told). The space behind the main building had a lining of trees that traced out the Union Jack.. CNR, as director, planted so many trees that the outline of the flag was disturbed completely --- I suspect, deliberately.

I have not known a more dynamic personality than CNR. He had so many of them that you always liked more than 90 percent of them. I think it was Wodehouse who described Oofy Prosser as so fat that when you saw his photograph you would have to read from left to right like a group photograph, or that he would have to disperse in section 144 was applied when public assembly of many persons were not allowed. CNR multifaceted character reminded me of Wodehouse's Prosser. "CNR are coming" I would joke. He could multitask infinitely, read diagonally without missing anything, pick up the smallest relevant whisper from any distant corner, pick holes in your science with a stroke of red-pen, pick up at once what looks scientifically promising and nurture it for maximum printage,  go through every word on publications he had his name on, trained his secretaries to unravel his scribblings and type them into pages for his many books and reviews,, he created his own filing systems and a disposal mechanism for his manuscripts, he always maintained an academic atmosphere of weekly seminars and regular in-house conferences. 

CNR had his calibration of research colleagues. There were some who acted like his foremen supervising his research. There were others, mainly theoreticians, whom he would allow to spread their wings independently.

I was not one of the latter. If ithere has been any lustre in my scientific life it is always attributed to this connection,. Getting credit for a work is sometimes the work of scavengers in this modern world where it is necessary to brand one-self with a * as a mark of hierarchy in an experimental group, Like it or not, it had to be done to survive in a crediting world. As a scholar of the true Brahmin kind, if there is anything like that now, there would be no need to scavenge.

CNR began his accrual of titles and honours from early. At 25 he had finished his Ph D., for his work in Purdue, and the left-overs of this work he used to get a D.Sc. degree from Mysore University. In his own words (The 1993 Distinguished  Materials Scientist Lecture, MRSI)
For my Ph.D thesis at Purdue, I took up the study of molecular structure by electron diffraction of gases (with Professor R L Livingston). During my first year, I carried out spectroscopic and other physico-chemical studies of organic molecules as a research assistant to Prof. Eugene Lieber. In my spare time, I worked with a few other Professors in the Purdue Chemistry Department on structural problems  of interest to them. I fully made use of the X-ray diffraction facilities of the Purdue Physics Department for which I had free access. Prof. Herbert Brown was a great source of inspiration and with his guidance, I published some papers relating spectroscopic properties of molecules with reactivity. At the end of three years, I obtained the Ph.D. degree (I was 23-5 years old by then). ... We had to fabricate a new instrument, ..  I collaborated with almost all the students in the laboratory in solving molecular structures and also continued my association with Prof. Lieber who had then moved to Chicago. It was around this time that my friend Al Czanderna, who was working on the surface properties of spectroscopically pure TiO2 with George Honig, asked me to determine the structure of his TiO2 sample by X-ray diffraction. I found that it had the anatase structure. Soon we thought that we should study the kinetics of transformation of pure anatase to the rutile form (one of his more cited early work).. ...  Before leaving Purdue, I was a post-doctoral fellow and instructor for a short period. I also submitted my thesis for the D.Sc. degree of the University of Mysore based on my papers (other than those covering my Ph.D. work) in 1958.

He cntinues at that pace

By the tme CNR joined IIT Kanpur in 1963 he had two books on Ultraviolet Spectroscopy and Chemical Applications of Infrared Spectroscopy. He drove his way to become the Deanof Science and provided  the road map for the kind of research that IITK would impress the rest of India with. CNR's status was helped by his getting the Marlow Medal for young scientists for work within 10 yars after Ph. D.. From this point on CNR's career has been on the up and seem to be growing exponentially. It seems that in the last five years the citation to his work has doubled over all that was available earlier.

CNR loved doing his science, and seeing his name in print in  journals. What is infectious to those working with him, especially new students, is his exuberance. He would always carry his latest publication  caressingly in his hand at that time. Once he came excitedly shouting down the corridors of IITK because he one of his papers got published in PRL (an acronym known to all physicists) which, at that time, would have seemed to an average Indian chemist like a ODI 200. Much later, when he was at IISc, he would repeat this excitement when he, surprisingly it would seem for a chemist of hist stature, had a paper published in the Journal of American Chemicl Society. There is no better exhibition of joy in achievements than the sight of CNR dancing down the corridors with his most recent publication in a prestigious journal. I imagine he still does it in recent years. It would be quite unlike him, if he didn't.

Once an item was published, CNR, like all shakers and movers, would move on to new pastures and new fields. His erstwhile coworkers in an area would rarely continue with him or keep pace with him as he changed fields and gave lectures on his latest research in completely different areas. 

This is where CNR may be different from Tendulkar. Tendulkar had to run all those 50,000 odd runs, do his fielding and bowl his overs  on his own. He could not have somebody batting for him according to his instructions. Most top theoretical physicists are like that. Experimental chemists cannot be like that. There are so many systems and so many time-consuming experiments to be done. A good chemist is like a good captain in a sport like cricket, mustering  resources for tackling/solving problems. CNR has been a great captain. His ambitions required it. 

Sachin dis not want to be a captain. His personal ambitions did not require it. On the other hand, Sachin by honing his personal skills over the years, perhaps (I have no experience of his dressing room) could have advised and guided several young cricketers, regular players and coaches for the greater contribution to Indian cricket first and then passing it on to Indian confience.

It is another matter to asjk whether Sachin Tendulkar would have matched CNR's achievements if he had taken up chemistry. If he had spent as much time on perfecting his chemistry as he did on his cricket and achieved equal sachin-ity as he did in his cricket, he would have certainly looked as David enough --- if lhis typically Saraswat Brahmin looks mattered --- to get the Ratna if he had done individual-based research as in mathematics or physics. But then he would not have faced or managed the tremendous hurdles and the amount of cajoling and bowing that one required in the early stages to get funding for experiments. CNR knows all about that. If he sounds angry about funding  it may be for the enormous amount of useless energy expended on it. Expending that energy, believe anybody, is exhausting. It could have been expended  on better things. 

Like the Nobel prize.

CNR has still to each his goal. We wish him all the best. His magnificent brain and his personality can do it. The requires no more funding for Ratnas. 

CNR's anger about the inadequacy of funding R&D in India might have come from the excessive funding given to sports like cricket from both private and governmental sources (see figure below for comparisons; ). Private investment into science R&D from Indian Industry is indeed disgracefully minimal. It is 20% in India compared to 92% in Japan and 70% in China and USA. If we take a recent (Nov 2013) report in Science Magazine (brought to my notice by Ramesh Sinha) private industry funds twice as much as government does in the USA (see figure below for comparisons). CNR's angry outburst after his Ratna must have been partly due to his failure to get private industry involved in funding Indian science. 

It is not as if only an individual requires to be funded. A whole society requires being funded so that competition and collaboration leads to a culture where excellence is bred and sustained.

There was a cartoon sometime back --- before Murray got his Wimbledon---depictingt an English Wimbledon champion as an extinct species being as dead as the Dodo. In the original Jantoo cartoon,  the man was holding a tennis racket. I have replaced it with a Nobel medal. The hope is that the Indian Nobel may not be dead as a dodo, at least as long as CNR is on the scene.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Homo Anarchicus vs Homo Hierarchicus: The difference between Fascism, Nazism and RSS's Modism

One is always afraid that one's comments on RSS may be construed adversely by them or their enemies and one could end up in the dumps in several literal and figurative ways. I have not considered the RSS seriously before. This blog is after a study through the internet (all images and videos are from there) and I think.t that, try as hard as they would, they may not really have it in their homo-indicus ways to be anything but  tolerant.

It seems eminently possible that the next government at the centre will be led by Narendra Modi. This is a development which should be much outside my comfort zone. But, then, when have I ever been comfortable?!

It is quite likely though, as the private TV channels would want us to believe --- you may have noticed how these channels increase the volume of anti-congress speakers --- and as the Congress party refuses to make any experienced effort to dispel this belief. The verbal juggernaut of Modi is more than what the politically inexperienced likes of Man Mohan Singh and his PMO or the willingly first-a-mother perennial outsider Sonia Gandhi can effectively counteract. Modi will be controlled, some say, by the RSS, an organization that now needs to be understood, as I will attempt through my eyes (only) in the rest of this blog.

It is true that if Modi comes to power, it will be through the very disciplined campaign of the very middle-class cadres of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the very commanding financial power of our Gujubhais. In my childhood days we thought we were impressed by the financial power of Uncle Scrooge of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck family. In one comic strip Uncle Scrooge had built a big statue of himself with his money. Uncle Scrooge would otherwise be very stingy with the way he gave money to other middle-class poors. Modi’s building of Sardar Patel’s statue reminds me of Uncle Scrooge’s attitudes.

It may be an unhappy coincidence that the R of RSS is the rashtriya equivalent for national in the German Nationalsozialismus shortened to Nazi; SS of RSS is for Swayamsevak Sangh, which is not too different from Hitler’s dreaded SS for Schutzstaffel which could mean “protection squadron”. The RSS is, to its followers, a voluntary help society.

The RSS has an extraordinary ability to organize people in an ordered and disciplined manner as shown in the picture below. The one in the extreme right is in Kollam, Kerala. Their webste claims that one lakh (100,000) swayamsevaks had gathered in the 40 acre field (less than one person for every two square metres) to listen to Sarsanghachalak (supreme leader) Dr. (veterinary, incomplete) Mohanji Bhagawath. The fear that comes to the mind of my like-minded people --- judging by reports of Godhra, Ishraat Jahan, Babri Masjid, Ram Mandir, Hindu terrorism --- is that Modi’s ascent will be the dawn of new Hindu (whatever Hinduism means for them) fascism --- a word we don’t really understand. It may be a sign of some times that when I searched for some images and got the images below and clicked on them for details of the pictures I was led to a porn site. Later, my computer got infected. A computer specialist who is also a member of the RSS told me that the RSS sites are targets of such pranks.  On the other hand, when I mentioned to another expert that I was writing this blog, they warned me that the RSS will get to you. That’s how it is in this world now.

Fascism, a term used mainly by liberals for those who are “middle-class” in their orthodoxy, militarily nationalistic, aroused easily especially when present as a mob, or in parades with martial music, and a tendency to raise their hands synchronously with a shout of “Heil” (Hitler) or a “hail” (Caesar) or a “jai” (Modi!Modi!Modi!). This does not make them fascist per se. They become fascists in the hands of someone who moulds them to act in unison by the power of flag-waving or xenophobia. Modi, to his credit, has the mass-waving magic of a Mussolini or a Hitler but hardly a moral-raising reputation of a Gandhi of the Mohandas kind.

I have no idea of how the RSS works. Some very nice and principled people I know are unabashedly solid followers of RSS. The RSS followers I am deeply suspicious of are the shopkeepers, the most rabid of them being those who do not seem to pay their taxes and do not pay their vat. Actually, I cannot find a small-time --- and that means every small shop-keeper in every city I know in RSS’s Bharat --- who give me a bill leave alone a bill with vat amount in it. Given the difficulty in finding a news item in the highly flourishing advertisement prints of Times of India, it is difficult to imagine that the GDP as calculated from official returns should show so little growth.

There are, however, these simple nice middle-class highly disciplined people in their khaki skirt-like half-pants and with their dandas whom I have been seeing from my childhood days, especially healthy early in the mornings. I remember being told they did not wear leather shoes in their official parades because of their reverence for the holy cow. I vaguely remember the Patna around 1947 when, in the midst of the Hindu-Muslim riot, we, as young pre-ten children, will be hiding under our beds, and an axe or a dagger will be thrown in through the window for our protection. My mother was thankful to the RSS for this.

The formation of RSS in 1925 was inspired by the same ideologies that were used to form the fascist or nazi parties after First World War. Their leader Golwalikar openly admired Adolf Hitler. They were not anti-socialist to begin with; they were anti Muslims, who, like Catholics and communists, were kind of totalitarians RSS would love to emulate.

The RSS man in the picture above (second from left) is doing what has been called by the RSS as SanghPranam. The salute with the down-turned palm above the heart is also known as the Zogist salute adapted from the salute to Zog-I, President of Albania, who came to power in 1925, the same year that RSS was founded. Mussolini’s Roman salute (left of figure above) is thought to be modelled on the basis of a painting of 1784 (extreme right of figure above). None of these salutes have the clenched fist salute of Chaplin’s 1917 “Hand that will rule the world” (middle of figure above).

The one thing common about the fascists, Nazis, RSSists, is their demagoguery. There are two kinds of demagogues. The ancient demagogues (Type I) are those who was considered to be “a popular leader who represented the ordinary people.” Like Jesus and his sheep? The modern demagogue (Type II) is “... a political leader who gains power by appealing to people's emotions, instincts, and prejudices in a way that is considered manipulative and dangerous.” The demagogues of Type I are usually made out to be demagogues of Type II by demagogues of Type II who think that they themselves are type I demagogues. It sounds complicated but it is true ... perhaps. The picture below shows some popular demagogues in action. Only one of these, I think, can be deemed to be as of Type I. Notice, how they use a demonstrative/remonstrative finger of their hand.

A demonstrative/remonstrative finger is what Narendra Modi uses when addressing big crowds (see picture below right). He does attract large crowds, sometime perhaps as many as the RSS cadres gathered to pay homage to their supreme leaders. The happy Narendra Modi mask in the picture at left below stands out with raised V-for victory sign amidst the mass of BJP-colour-capped cadres, next to (what seems to be) a solitary un-capped turbaned face.

It seems to me that the training of RSS squads also involves picking out demagogues and training them right from their childhood. In the video below . is this very innocent and attractive young girl, seen urging (the crowd to shout jai in response to her Bharat mata ki ... . The obviously .pleased with her effort and she is able to dispense with some very grown-up advice also. .


Varun Gandhi would have failed the RSS demagogue classes. In the first part of the Video below. 

Varun Gandhi, is obviously fresh from his Gandhi family background (see picture below left). He sounds very bhole-bhale naive and obviously untrained (see image on left of picture below). Varuna Gandhi has been chosen by the BJP obviously because he was expected to have as much charm as the Gandhi family because he is a shahzada, a crown prince. They probably thought initially that his background was sufficient and he did not require any training in demagoguery. They did train him adequately (see right of picture below).  As the second part of the video shows, Varun Gandhi is transformed to a warrior, raising his hands in Jai SreeRam and urging the crowd to cut throats. Varun Gandhi was tutored to such an extent that even his young audience was startled.enough to hide their faces. Since that time Varun Gandhi has been eminently acceptable to the RSS cadre. . For an ancient Indian such as me, the shahzada’s speech was hardly becoming of his family name! 

The finger-waving VHP speaker does it very well using both hands admirably and continuously. while urging. the people to form a Hindu Vote bank hich should be alright for the RSS and Modi since he is not urging the formation of a secular vote bank. He does his finger waving extremely well .when warning about naxalite or communal muslim elements. Part of it is shown in the video with link below. I forget who the speaker is.

Modi has all these finger pointing talents. He plays the crowd very well and very professionally. Varun Gandhi can learn from him.. This speech of Modi is one that you least expect if you think he is an RSS man. Indeed, if you are young and not prejudiced, the speech can be inspiring. That is all you need to be in any case as long as election strategies are concerned. The crowd is a BJP-RSS crowd and Modi plays them well.. "are you tired?" "can we have a chat among ourselves?" "I sold tea in the train, and now you look at me... Dont'worry about your background... If you have the will to serve then just jump into the fray" "I never even saw the insides of a chief minister's office... now look at me!". 

Modi perhaps perhaps forgets and sticks to his junior RSS .ways where he must have been a very successful sevak. In the video below he is doing what the little girl did earlier. He urges them and they respond (picture below) "ill you repeat what I say? Will you shout with your full heart? Repeat after me Yes, we can, yes we can" He is obviously attempting an Obama effect. He then makes his own contribution. Instead of "Yes we can" he shortens to "Can" and then continues "will do". He is safe. He hails both Telengana and Seemandhra in Hyderabad. He ends with  Vande Mataram and shortens it to Vande hoping to sound perhaps like guns going off. He is a master RSS demagogue.. He does this VandeVandeVande" in other rallies,  I have noticed.  It is not necessary that a tea vendor cannot become (with increasing degree of difficulty) a prime minister, or a philosopher, or a string theoretician. The tea vendor has to sell his ware well. That Modi must have done well. ...  


Homo-Anarchicus vs Homo Hierarchicus
One redeeming feature of the second half of Varun Gandhi’s video above is that when he raises his arm as a true believer there is disbelief among many young people in the audience that is expressed more as a snicker than an appreciation. I am hoping that there is a basic difference in the attitudes of young men of India than the youth of Western countries. The basic difference is that the western youth are part of what could be called homo anarchicus while the Indian youth is part of homo hierarchicus.

There is a difference in being a true Hindu or a true Indian --- not of the Ram Mandir or the Babri Masjid kind --- and in being a true westerner. Life and living is not really difficult in the friendly climate of India even in the monsoon. Problems appear when one compares one’s daily living with that of the recently material-ised Western world. It is this “easy” life in India that makes us anciently non-material-ised so independently minded and so difficult to regiment in a authoritarian society. Indira Gandhi found that out. The communists in India never got to be totalitarian, fortunately. This independent-ness required, as Louis Dumont treatised in his book Homo Hierarchicus, a caste system that limited some naturally anarchic degrees of freedom. The first paragraph from the introduction of this book is given below.

On the other hand the harsh and extreme climes of the European world led them to a deep appreciation of nature. The gloriousness of the summer  and the frosty cold of the winter. It led to a dependence of the ordinary man on an organised society, such as that of a kingdom that provided security as well as a strict hierarchy. There was always a tendency to dislike hierarchical structure. Those who protested against them became anarchists.  The word “anarchy” (Thesaurus: disorder, chaos, lawlessness, revolution, mayhem, rebellion, mobocracy) by itself is not a friendly word to the middle-classed.  It has actually a much less sinister meaning.

Spartakus Freemann’s blog “L’anarchie : entre bouddhisme politique et sectarisme activiste” puts it well about the fear and the hope that is associated with anarchists:
Anarchie, anarchiste, anarchisme, que de mots chargés de craintes (fear) et de fantasmes mais aussi d'espoir (hope), d'humanisme et de liberté !

Although, Italians were part of the winning World War I team and the Germans were on the losing side Fascism came to power in Italy much before (nearly ten years before) the Nazis. This was because in Italy the democratic socialists were already in power. Because of the Bolshevik example in Russia, the fascist leader Mussolini was encouraged by the emperor to take over power in Italy. This move was made simple to protect the interests of the rich industrialists who were afraid that they would meet the same fate as their counterparts in Czarist Russia. Once in power in Italy, the fascists took advantage of the in-fighting in Italian politics to use ruthless political methods to put an end to divisions. They were not intellectually mature enough, however, to understand their place in the world and they made a mess of their Foreign policy so that by 1935 they had reached a disastrous conquest of Ethiopia! The early Fascist exercises were mainly to replace all administrative posts by people who were loyal to their part. They deprived the King of his rights to select Prime ministers, Fascist podestàs replaced the local mayors, and all local governance were subjected to central authority. Little by little the Fascist state became the personal dictatorship of Mussolini, Il Duce.

Hitler learnt well from Mussolini including his Roman salute. Following the fascist example, Hitler's primary aims in domestic policy was the total indoctrination of the German people. In the video given in the link below Hitler is speaking for the first time after coming to power. He is urging his men to obey. That is the fear. He seems to be a bit weak and the response he gets from the crowd is certainly more orchestrated than what Modi got from his Hyderabad crowd. That is the hope. One will not be able to regiment homo hierarchicus. Always a paradox!

Dr. Joseph Goebbels as the Minister of Propaganda, spread the popularity of Nazism among citizens with complete control over what the people could and could not see or read. Anti-Nazi messages were blocked out and books were banned. Propaganda campaigns over radio, film, newspapers, and mass rallies, all supported Hitler. Any anti-Nazi message in media such as literature and journalism were prevented from reaching the public. Teachers had to be selected by the Nazis. Hitler’s views on the supreme Aryan race were taught by selected teachers as part of the Hitler Youth brigade and the League of German Maidens which prepared ideal Nazi men (soldiers) and women (mothers). Most significantly, no notable movement against Hitler came from the people of Germany. All of this led eventually to Auschwitz and the execution in gas chambers of millions of Jews while all the time the overwhelming majority of Germans stood silent.

One has to ponder over the economic reasons for the rise of Fascism, or Nazism to guess why RSS-ism would rise to power in India.

The Jews of Europe had control over the money-lending trade and other small businesses with which the common man came into contact. Larger business stores controlled by Jews took over the smaller ones run by the local people. The adverse financial effects of being a loser in WWI led to the Germans being bled by the various treaties of War. The Emperor of Germany ensured the various treaties were honoured and led to the rise of the power of Jewish money lenders who were though to be villainous as all money lenders all over the world are known to be or have to be. The 15th century Prince of the Humanists, Desiderius Erasmus, would write about the Jews as: “The Jewish usurers are fast-rooted even in the smallest villages, and if they lend five gulden they require a security of six times as much. They charge interest upon interest, and upon this again inerest, so that the poor man loses everything that he owns.” Such anger against the Jews continued in Germany after WWI. It led to their abominable slaughter of the Jews. It is another matter that the price for this slaughter was paid for by the Palestinians thanks to the cunning of the British and the creation of the Israeli state, as protector of the middle-east oil. Money-lenders never lose; they just reappear in another form.

What social need has to be fulfilled for the RSS to come to power?

This part is purely speculative, even if it seems obvious to me.

The RSS has now completed nearly 88 years without coming to power, the way it would have really wanted. Vajpayee was not really an RSS man. He had a sense of humour and a lack of urgency that could never have made him a fascist or a Nazi. What one requires is a social economic threat that the striking leftists could not achieve. After all, the Shivsainiks were encouraged to come to power in old Bombay by the Congress and by Mill owners to counter the threat of agitating Leftists. The immigrant labour has not really posed a threat since the local people do not want to work as hard.

At the time the RSS was founded, the small groceries and businesses around Mumbai/Gujarat and elsewhere may have been in the hands of Muslims. They retained considerable business power after the British left. After all, many of the thriving business centres of Indian cities were dominated by Muslims if they were not dominated by Sindhism and Gujaratis, and Rajasthanis. As a group, the muslims were perceived as the biggest threat to small-time business. They had to be removed. The muslims themselves had a certain haughtiness and exclusiveness about them perceiving themselves to be part of an alien conquering race. This was so especially in the border regions with our Pakistani neighbours. Gujarat, has a long border with Pakistan and the Muslim businessman could have posed a competition.

The Godhra riots could have taken place to scare away the Muslims --- just as they scared the Muslims of Mumbai to Mumbra --- much to the vote-garnerning happiness of local non-muslim business men. If that is the case, then one could have every reason to be wary ---provided, of course, one is not one of them who are not them.

The small-time businessman is also wary of too many subsidies being given to the poor. If these subsidies are authentically given and taken, they pose a big threat to the ordinary usurer and small businessmen. As some BJP supporter said on TV the other night, if you give rice and wheat at the rate of a rupee or so per kg, how will business grow and how will GDP grow? How indeed? Manmohan Singh’s Congress economists would use these arguments. Rahul Gandhi’s socialistic congress do not care about these monetary arguments.

Ironically, the RSS’s time may now come when all the food-bill subsidies and minimum-wage subsidies are in position. Such bills harm the middle-class businessmen, many of whom form the working RSS cadres.

In the Homo-hierarchicus consciousness the vaisyas (skilled traders, merchants, minor officials) would have the maximum to lose in hierarchy if the Sudras (unskilled workers) or pariahs (the true indigenous people or Gandhi’s Harijans) have a respectability and independence coming from these bills. For them, poverty, like death, should not be eliminated, if they are not to be equal at the bottom.

But there is something humongous in our homo-hierarchicus ways! When it comes to a crunch, we are not really bothered about our hierarchicus. After all, we found Mahatma Gandhi, a teli caste traditionally involved in extracting edible oil and considered to be of vaisya caste (or lower), to be a man to be held in high-enough esteem to capture the imagination of the whole country and lead it to political freedom.

It also speaks volumes of homo-hierarchicus that a fellow teli, Narendra Modi, preferred to set up the building of world’s biggest statue for Sardar Patel, whom he certified to be the person who united India. Modi would not find Gandhi big enough! It shows Modi’s political dependence on the RSS. It would have been understandably difficult to commission a statue of fellow Gujarati since the RSS was involved in Gandhi’s assassination.

Gandhi, after all, was not a true Hindu-Indian as far as the RSS is concerned as Gandhi wanted the Muslims to be part of a greater India! The RSS could prefer  a more fascist-nazi Gandhi as in the caroon below