Towards a Dharma-based economy – Swami Atmarupananda

Swami Atmarupananda

In early November 2015, the author participated in a four-day programme held in Varanasi and Sarnath entitled, Awakening the Light of Dharma: How to Uphold Dharma in the World Today, organised by the Global Peace Initiative, in partnership with Jnana-Pravaha of Varanasi, the Sarnath International Nyingma Institute, and the Malaviya Centre for Peace Research. On November 8 the proceedings were held at the Sarnath International Nyingma Institute, which included a morning session on the topic ‘Principles of a Dharmic Economy’, moderated by Dr Tho Ha Vinh.[1] After Dr Tho gave an introduction to the topic, the author was asked to address the gathering. The following is adapted from the substance of his talk. – Editor

This morning we are to discuss the possibilities of a dharma-based economy. But I think it will be useful if we first discuss where economic systems come from; the answer to that question is fundamental. How can we think of changing our economic system without first knowing the source of economic systems? Second, we will examine the present state of our existing economic system, in general terms. Third, we’ll look at the principles that can serve as a new foundation for a dharma-based economy. And finally we’ll look at some of the many efforts, the experiments already underway that are seeking to develop a new model. So let us begin.

Where does our economic system come from? It isn’t a part of nature, though economic activity is certainly intrinsic to human society; but a particular society organises that economic activity in a particular way. In other words, economic activity is natural to human society, but the economic system that a particular society uses is human-conceived.

By ‘human-conceived’ I don’t mean that people sat around and thought up the economic system any more than people think up language. No, it grew unconsciously; but how? It grew out of the stories we told ourselves and continue to tell ourselves, stories that answer fundamental questions: What is life? What is its purpose? Who am I? Who are other people and what is human society—that strange, intricately organised collective of other people? What is my relationship to the world, what are my responsibilities to the world, the world’s responsibilities to me? What is of value? Such stories are the myths of a society, and every society has them, including a modern, scientific, technological, atheistic society.

It is a demonstrable fact that the economy we have at any point in history has been generated unconsciously from the stories we tell ourselves, the stories that a society tells itself. So with all human institutions, so with society itself. We have the justice system we have in any particular society because of the stories we believe about justice. We have the penal system we have because of the stories our society tells itself about the nature of criminals and retribution and redemption.

Our problem today is that our stories no longer work. They are built on contradictions, which is perhaps true of all stories,[2] but the contradictions in our present stories have become compounded to the breaking point. This is true not just of the economy. Political systems around the world are largely broken, governmental and private institutions around the world are showing cracks, the idea of the nation-state is broken, the climate is broken because of the stories we have told ourselves about nature and the use of nature. The environment—that miraculous, extremely complex living envelope that sustains us and includes us—is itself broken because of our human stories. And all of these are interrelated; but today we will focus on the economy.

This general idea is fundamental to our discussion: our economy is built upon accepted stories, not upon facts of nature. It is fundamental, because its recognition bestows a flexibility of thought and action: the economy we have is not a law of nature, but a choice, even if it was chosen unconsciously.

Now let us move on and look at some of the contradictions inherent in our economy. First, and most obvious of the contradictions, our economic system is based on growth, specifically growth of production, consumption, and total monetary value of the system. Its aim is not to attain an equilibrium which can be sustained indefinitely. Its aim is growth, economic expansion. The reason why it is based on growth is important, and not beyond the understanding of anyone here, but it would take all my time to explain the reason. So for now, suffice it to say that the reason has to do with the way money is conceived of, created, and accounted for in the present system.

For long ages of human history, economic systems were not dependent on constant growth: it’s a modern phenomenon and therefore not intrinsic to economic activity. So the modern system is based on growth, but continual growth in a finite system is headed for disaster from the beginning, headed for breakdown. Yes, there have been people warning of this problem for a long time, but they have been ignored because the economy has expanded far beyond anything anyone ever imagined possible two hundred years ago, and it is still expanding.

So why not believe that it can continue growing? Because it can’t. It’s a practical, not a theoretical, impossibility. Yes, the population of the world is far larger than experts ever thought possible for the earth to sustain one hundred and two hundred years ago, and the economy is far larger than thought possible, but sooner or later we will hit natural limits, and it looks like sooner rather than later is in store for us.

Tied to this idea of continual growth is the destruction of the commons. ‘The commons’ is an interesting concept, universal in human societies in some form or another; but the conceptual understanding of ‘the commons’ as well as the term itself is taken from medieval England. The forests, rivers, lakes, and streams of a locality were under the control or ‘ownership’ of the lord of the manor, but were held for the common use, and therefore common good, hence ‘commons’. The timber and firewood, the herbal medicines that could be gathered, the wild foodstuffs, the animals for hunting, fish for catching, the water itself for household use, and grasslands for grazing one’s herds, all were there for the common good.

And a ‘commoner’ was one who used the commons, as opposed to the lord who controlled them. Add to that early concept of the commons, the resources recognised in more modern times: mineral rights, oil, and the broadcast spectrum of electromagnetic waves; these also become part of the commons, no longer under the lord of the manor but under the control of the state.

The modern capitalist economies[3] have more and more depended for their growth on privatising and monetising the commons and then selling the goods of the commons back to citizens, while the private interests control the resources profit. Lumber, oil, minerals, grazing rights, the tourism industry, the broadcast spectrum, bottled water—all are examples of the commercialisation of the commons, which leads to the disappearance in actual fact of the commons into private interests, and in the case of most physical resources, the eventual depletion or destruction—through overuse, pollution, mountaintop removal, and the like—of the resources themselves. And now, as more and more has been privatised, there is a rush to privatise water—the most essential resource for life after air. Air alone is safe for the time being, as no one has found a viable way to commercialise it—though they have found plenty of ways to pollute it, leaving the cost of clean-up largely to taxes collected from the public.

Thus, as the commons disappears into private control and eventual depletion, we are reaching the limits of growth. And no growth means death, within the context of the modern economic system. That is why China, for instance, is desperately buying up rights to resources all over the world, especially in Africa and South America. In the end that won’t work, because when a country is faced with the massive hunger and thirst of its own people, it isn’t going to honour pieces of paper saying that another country owns the rights to the resources there. And that, by the way, leads to the projected wars of resources.

And so we have a system built on the need for constant growth, the privatisation and destruction of the commons, and another related element, another part of the story we tell ourselves: happiness lies in material conquest, possession, control, extraction, and consumption, in that order. Let us look at the central equation in that statement: happiness equals material consumption. Material consumption is, of course, a part of nature itself: all living systems have to consume food and water and air. And resources for material consumption have been organised in human society from the beginning, and as such it isn’t in itself a problem: rather, it’s life. Hinduism, for instance, since ancient times has recognised that two of the four principal aims of human life are personal possession, artha and sense enjoyment, kama, both related to material consumption.

But something happened in the late nineteenth century, continuing increasingly to the present day: the conversion of the citizen into the consumer. In isolated places and times in the ancient world, such as ancient Athens and Rome, citizenship was a well-developed concept, meaning more than just being a ruler’s subject or a country’s resident. Again in Europe, with the birth of the nation-state, the concept of citizenship began to grow, until with the birth of an independent United States, citizenship took on full significance once more, implying rights and responsibilities and participation in state decision-making, a significance which began to spread to countries around the world.

Moving forward two hundred years, after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on 11 September 2001, the erstwhile US President George W. Bush told the American public that they should go out and shop, and thereby prove to the terrorists that they had not defeated the American people. If he had said that two hundred years earlier, one hundred years earlier, even forty years earlier, there would have been national outrage at such an insult to the people’s status as citizens—equating it with the ability to shop. But in 2001 the outrage was isolated, muted, and ineffectual. Why? There are several connected reasons.

Until the late nineteenth century, people’s purchases were needs-based. People needed food, so they bought groceries. They needed clothes, so they bought something appropriate to wear, or the material to make their own. A carpenter needed tools, so she or he bought them from the local blacksmith, according to the demands of her or his work. But in the late nineteenth century, entrepreneurs found that they could sell many more things if they could create needs: make people interested in buying something that they had never known that they needed, by explaining to them why this product would make them happier or more successful.

First, such agents of consumerism found that women were an untapped potential: they were sold new and improved gadgets to make their housework easier, and then women’s fashion spread from the rich to the burgeoning middle class, so that decent clothes were no longer enough: they needed the latest fashion, and ‘fashion was created by the people selling the clothing. The same spread to men. Advertisers developed the art of equating happiness with consumption.

In the early twentieth century, a nephew of Sigmund Freud named Edward Bernays brought Freud’s psychological discoveries to America and applied them to the advertising industry. One of his many successes was to sell cigarettes to women. Previously, in Western society, it was considered ‘unladylike’ for women to smoke. So he began an advertisement campaign which portrayed women smoking cigarettes defiantly to express and flaunt their new-found social independence. It caught on, much to the delight of the tobacco industry, and large numbers of women began to express their autonomy by smoking in public.

Also, manufacturers discovered that, if they made a light bulb, for example, that would last twenty years, they would sell one only once in twenty years for a particular socket. If, however, they made light bulbs that lasted two years, they would sell ten times as many. And so began the idea of planned obsolescence of products. And thus the citizen has become largely reduced to a consumer. ‘Reduced’, because as the citizen became a consumer, forces were also at work reducing his effective participation in governance, a topic of great importance but separate from the present topic of the economy.

Another element in the breakdown of our economic system is our very understanding of work—participation in the economy. The Protestant work ethic which was so effective in motivating people to engage in economic and other activity, and which was instrumental in the rise of modern capitalism, has outlived its usefulness. The stories out of which the Protestant work ethic developed are no longer vital, leaving modern society without a viable philosophy of work. A much simplified version of the Protestant work ethic can be expressed in two equations: hard work is a sign of morality, and worldly success is a sign of God’s favour. But the Protestant Christian worldview on which this ethic was based is all but dead.

The first blow to this philosophy of work happened in the early nineteenth century. As the Industrial Revolution began to reshape society, people who had once earned their livelihood by farming or through manual skills, like blacksmithing and shoemaking, began to work for wages in factories. Previously they had worked with a degree of autonomy, producing a needed good in exchange for which they earned money, which in turn allowed them to buy the necessities of life; their work was associated with accomplishment, pride, and they had a well-defined place in society.

As the economic system began to change, people could no longer support themselves in the old way, and were forced into urban labour pools. Now they worked in return for wages for someone who controlled production and distribution; they were cogs in a larger machine, and were replaceable. This was widely recognised as a new form of slavery—wage slavery—when it first arose. Now it is taken as natural. Most people today work long hours all week, week after week, in order to get money: their work often has little or nothing to do with their sense of identity or with a sense of fulfilment. They work for a pay check which allows them to buy what they want, and to entertain themselves in the very little time left to them outside of the workplace.

Another element of the present economic dilemma is of very recent origin—the phenomenal growth of the financial sector in society, in Europe, the Americas, Japan, and increasingly in developing countries like India and China. The financial sector has been around as long as there has been some form of money. Its primary purpose is to make unused money available for use by those who need it and can put it to good use. You have extra money that is sitting idle; I want to start a small business, and I have all the know-how and drive to do it, but no money. So you make the money available to me directly, or, in a more complex society, through financial institutions. And my success is partly owned by you as my financier, and so you profit as I profit. That is a social good.

But in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first, the financial sector has grown huge, and has become a way to make money out of money, huge amounts of money, making some people fabulously wealthy: it’s a legal form of gambling. The problem is, in itself it contributes nothing to society. It isn’t generating wealth by producing a social good, and wealth has to come from somewhere: it can’t just be wished into existence. And so it is coming at the expense of actual social good, and it—among several other factors—is helping to create wealth inequality that hasn’t been seen in generations.

All of these problems that we have discussed—the need to foster constant economic growth in order to service debt, the destruction of the commons, the conversion of the citizen into the consumer, the fostering of dissatisfaction in the populace in order to stimulate artificial wants-based—as opposed to needs-based – purchases, the decline of the work ethic, the introduction of wage slavery, the cancerous growth of the financial sector, as well as other factors, amplify one another.

And it’s not that this system ever really worked well for human happiness. It was more of a promise of future happiness, plus present sufficiency of food and clothing and shelter and consumer choices and entertainment for enough citizen-consumers to prevent popular revolt.

But now it isn’t working and gradually that will be evident to people. Right now there’s general awareness that the system isn’t working well, but most people, including most professional economists, believe that we just need to make some minor adjustments to get the engine of society going smoothly again. No, it’s broken, not theoretically but actually, and the inherent contradictions can no longer be sustained.

So what is the way out ? The solution is nothing short of a grand new story based on a new and truer view of self, of the world, of humanity, of meaning, of happiness, of freedom, of relationships, and of the meaning and purpose of life. That will be the real solution.

The problem is, we are at a point of desperation, and can’t wait for a new story to percolate through society and take hold and express itself through new institutions: that takes generations. Yes, that will still have to happen, but short-term thinking is needed as well as long-term thinking. And we need experimentation with new models.

Now, then, let us first look at some broad ideas that need to form the basis of any new system, focussing on the economic aspect. And then we’ll look at some of the experiments that are happening, and which show promise.

Since we are meeting here as representatives of the dharma traditions, we will speak of a dharma-based economic system, and what that might look like. Remember, all human institutions are based on stories; in fact, the very way in which we perceive the world is based on stories. And so, if the story told is based on dharma—broadly defined, non-sectarian, and aware of the universal principles that unite our traditions—how does that work itself out in economic terms?

First of all, whether you take the Buddhist principle of dependent origination or the Hindu and Sikh principle of the oneness underlying diversity,[4] there is the basic shared principle that we are all connected, and that intimate connection is not just theoretical: with practice it begins to become perceptual. That is, it is factual. From that comes love for all, sympathy for all, compassionate action towards all.

And when that principle is applied to economics, we get an economy based on sharing. There is nothing wrong with the creation of wealth, if it is done ethically, but wealth is meant for distribution. Not a crude egalitarianism which mandates that everyone have exactly the same, but an equality of opportunity, plus the provision of everyone’s basic needs and comforts, above and beyond which others are free to create more personal wealth. Sharing, rather than hoarding, needs to be favoured, structurally.

What else flows from this dharmic idea of connectedness? A model of cooperation rather than competition. Yes, competition is part of life, it’s the basis of sports and many games, it is often what motivates a person to better oneself; but in the modern system, which started in the West with the decline of Christian spirituality, competition has come to be seen as the basic driving force of life. Of course, there is one exception as this works itself out in the present society: those with power and resources are assiduous in reducing the competition that they face, while encouraging competition for everyone else. But competition isn’t the basic driving force of life, not even in the animal kingdom. Cooperation is far more important to social wellbeing than competition.

What else? Because we are either all interdependent or ultimately all one, we are responsible for the welfare of others, because my own welfare lies in the welfare of others. And therefore service to others and self-sacrifice have to be intrinsic parts of the new story on which society is founded. When I was a young monk, I was surprised to hear the head of the monastery speak of sacrifice as a grand and glorious thing. I knew sacrifice as something morally necessary, but to me it meant doing without something I really wanted in order to give it to someone else; that is, sacrifice meant loss and frustration; it also meant I wasn’t worthy, ever, because others were always more worthy.

But I learned that the head of the monastery had heard different stories about sacrifice, which made it something glorious and liberating to him, it was something which made him larger. That’s another topic, but again, it comes down to stories, and some stories are truer than others. The glory of service and self-sacrifice are part of a better story, based on a universal truth. There are other foundational ideas, springing from our common understanding of karma and of a universal moral order underlying the universe—that is, a morality not based on the likes and dislikes of a deity, but one that is broad and impersonal, part of the structure of the universe.

Karma and this universal moral order also work themselves out at the economic level, but there is no time to discuss that now; the larger implications are easily enough understood anyway. Now, let us go from broad principles to more specific ideas. In the interests of time, I will simply list the main ideas that follow from the preceding discussion, without explicitly stating the connection to dharmic principles, such connections being fairly obvious:

  • We need to re-establish the commons, broadly, with the understanding that the basic resources necessary to sustain life belong to the people and cannot be privatised by corporations.
  • We need an economy that finds its health in stasis, in equilibrium, not in constant growth.
  • Privilege of opportunity must be reined in, not through a crude egalitarianism of resources, but an equality of opportunity, plus the provision of everyone’s basic needs.
  • The financial sector must once again serve the simple and boring purpose it was meant to serve: providing available money to those who demonstrate that they can use it well.
  • We must go back to a needs-based economy that is not dependent upon stimulating an artificial and constant sense of want. Those real needs are not just material: they can be aesthetic, intellectual, social, cultural, religious, and so on.
  • Corporations must serve social needs, responsibly, with consequences for irresponsible behaviour, and their political power must be subordinated to the power of the citizenry.
  • The mad rush to privatise knowledge—through patenting and copyrighting—must be reined in. All patents and copyrights must be restricted to a shorter time-frame, as they once were, allowing an inventor or creator to get monetary benefit, after which the knowledge becomes public domain. Results of research at public universities and government-funded institutions must go directly into the public domain. And the realms of knowledge which are patentable must be restricted: absolutely no patenting of life-processes, period; no patenting of simple computer routines and algorithms; limits on the patenting and pricing of life-saving pharmaceuticals; and so on.
  • A new philosophy of work is desperately needed. Work as experimentation with Reality, work as self-exploration and world-exploration, work as self-expression, work as a means for manifesting the glory of the Self in Hindu, Sikh, and Jaina terms or the glory of the Enlightened Mind in Buddhist terms—in other words, ‘work as yoga’—is the need of the age.

In conclusion, let me state that experiments are already underway in many parts of the world, effecting these very ideas. Some will work, some won’t—that’s the nature of experimentation. Those that work will tend to spread, if enough people see the need and value in them. But even those experiments that don’t work deserve our gratitude, because they also are part of the process, and we learn at least as much from mistakes as from successes.

I wish to mention a few in order to show the variety of experiments that are underway, even if most of them are not consciously ‘dharma based’; however they do illustrate some principles that a dharma-based economy would  recognise. This is not an endorsement of any of the programs, because I haven’t looked deeply into all of them, but just a short and incomplete list of examples. Local currencies that keep money circulating within a community are being tried in many places; worker cooperatives and worker-owned businesses are being tried; sustainable communities—with various definitions of ‘sustainable’—are sprouting; the locally-grown food movement is spreading; ‘solidarity economies’, local economies, Buddhist economies, Gandhian economies, and gift economies are all being tried.

The GNH or Gross National Happiness program in Bhutan—whose Program Director, Dr Tho, is sitting next to me, and whose Executive Director, Dr Saamdu Chetri, is sitting over there—is a wonderful example of an innovative project. Food forests, distributed power generation systems, the Zapatista movement in Mexico, the Ejido Movement in Mexico—unfortunately and unfairly ended in 1992, after nine decades, as a concession to US demands—Auroville in Puducherry, the original Kibbutz movement in Israel, the libertarian socialism of the Kurds in northern Syria, all of these and many more are signs of the awakening to the need for new social models.

Eventually society itself—the living whole—will promote what works for its own survival. Society is an organism, not a machine, and like an organism, it follows its own laws of growth, and has its own self-corrective processes, like an auto-immune system, which we must work with, not against or in ignorance of. Therefore evolution rather than revolution is the path forward. That is, society itself will decide what it needs. Our part is not to impose our solutions, but to recognise the general need, to sow the non-theological, life-giving, experiential ideas of dharma, and to be open to solutions as they develop. Out of that the society of the future will flower, for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many: bahujanahitaya, bahujanasukhaya.

Notes 

[1] Dharmacharya in the Zen lineage of Thich Naht Hanh, and also the Program Director of the Gross National Happiness (gnh) Centre, Bhutan.

[2] This is the view of the great Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna.

[3] And practically all economies now fall within the spectrum of capitalism.  In the Soviet and Maoist systems, private ownership of capital was replaced by state ownership, which is really state capitalism—state-owned and state-planned economies as opposed to private enterprise systems. In a true  socialist system, the workers in an enterprise collectively control production, distribution, and capital assets. Stalin instituted state capitalism and simply declared it socialism, and Mao followed his example.

[4] The Jaina perspective here, though somewhat different from the Buddhist and Hindu-Sikh, can also be harmonised, but is not separately included in the interests of simplicity. — Prabuddha Bharata, February 2017

»  Swami Atmarupananda, born in the U.S.A., discovered the Vedanta tradition of Hinduism as a teenager and developed what has become a lifelong fascination and dedication. He joined the Ramakrishna Order as a monk in 1969 in Chicago and subsequently spent many years in India engaged in monastic, scholarly, and spiritual training. He has travelled widely in the world, giving lectures and retreats, speaking at conferences dedicated to finding a spiritual foundation for civilization, and participating in interspiritual dialog. Currently he resides at the world headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math at Belur, outside of Kolkata, India where he has been charged with bringing out a revised edition of the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda in ten volumes.

Dharma-Adharma
 

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How religion can lead to violence – Gary Gutting

Saint Etienne Church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, France

Prof Gary GuttingThe path of modern tolerance has proved more difficult for Islam than for Christianity, and many Muslims still do not accept the ethical constraints that require religious tolerance, and a significant minority see violence against unbelievers as a divinely ordained duty. – Prof Gary Gutting

The latest victim is a French priest, murdered in his church by killers shouting “Allahu akbar! ”Following such attacks, Muslim leaders assure us that, as Tariq Ramadan said after the Paris massacre, the murders are “a pure betrayal of our religion.” After the shootings in Brussels, the leading Sunni university, Al-Azhar, issued a statement saying,

“These heinous crimes violate the tolerant teachings of Islam.” Similar responses followed recent attacks in Orlando and Nice. We are told that the fanatical fringe groups who do these terrible things are at odds with the essential Muslim commitment to peace and love. I understand the reasons for such responses, but they oversimplify the relation of religion to intolerance and the violence it can lead to.

Both Islam and Christianity claim to be revealed religions, holding that their teachings are truths that God himself has conveyed to us and wants everyone to accept. They were, from the start, missionary religions. A religion charged with bringing God’s truth to the world faces the question of how to deal with people who refuse to accept it. To what extent should it tolerate religious error? At certain points in their histories, both Christianity and Islam have been intolerant of other religions, often of each other, even to the point of violence.

Yahweh / JehovahThis was not inevitable, but neither was it an accident. The potential for intolerance lies in the logic of religions like Christianity and Islam that say their teaching derive from a divine revelation. For them, the truth that God has revealed is the most important truth there is; therefore, denying or doubting this truth is extremely dangerous, both for nonbelievers, who lack this essential truth, and for believers, who may well be misled by the denials and doubts of nonbelievers. Given these assumptions, it’s easy to conclude that even extreme steps are warranted to eliminate non-belief.

You may object that moral considerations should limit our opposition to non-belief. Don’t people have a human right to follow their conscience and worship as they think they should? Here we reach a crux for those who adhere to a revealed religion. They can either accept ordinary human standards of morality as a limit on how they interpret divine teachings, or they can insist on total fidelity to what they see as God’s revelation, even when it contradicts ordinary human standards. Those who follow the second view insist that divine truth utterly exceeds human understanding, which is in no position to judge it. God reveals things to us precisely because they are truths we would never arrive at by our natural lights. When the omniscient God has spoken, we can only obey.

For those holding this view, no secular considerations, not even appeals to conventional morality or to practical common sense, can overturn a religious conviction that false beliefs are intolerable. Christianity itself has a long history of such intolerance, including persecution of Jews, crusades against Muslims, and the Thirty Years’ War, in which religious and nationalist rivalries combined to devastate Central Europe. This devastation initiated a move toward tolerance among nations that came to see the folly of trying to impose their religions on foreigners. But intolerance of internal dissidents — Catholics, Jews, rival Protestant sects — continued even into the 19th century. (It’s worth noting that in this period the Muslim Ottoman Empire was in many ways more tolerant than most Christian countries.) But Christians eventually embraced tolerance through a long and complex historical process.

VoltaireCritiques of Christian revelation by Enlightenment thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau and Hume raised serious questions that made non-Christian religions—and eventually even rejections of religion—intellectually respectable. Social and economic changes—including capitalist economies, technological innovations, and democratic political movements—undermined the social structures that had sustained traditional religion.

The eventual result was a widespread attitude of religious toleration in Europe and the United States. This attitude represented ethical progress, but it implied that religious truth was not so important that its denial was intolerable. Religious beliefs and practices came to be regarded as only expressions of personal convictions, not to be endorsed or enforced by state authority. This in effect subordinated the value of religious faith to the value of peace in a secular society. Today, almost all Christians are reconciled to this revision, and many would even claim that it better reflects the true meaning of their religion.

The same is not true of Muslims. A minority of Muslim nations have a high level of religious toleration; for example Albania, Kosovo, Senegal and Sierra Leone. But a majority—including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Malaysia—maintain strong restrictions on non-Muslim (and in some cases certain “heretical” Muslim) beliefs and practices. Although many Muslims think God’s will requires tolerance of false religious views, many do not.

A Pew Research Center poll in 2013 found that in Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan and other nations in which Islam is officially favored, a large majority of Muslims think some form of Islamic law should be the law of the land. The poll also found that 76 percent of such Muslims in South Asia and 56 percent in the Middle East and North Africa favored executing Muslims who gave up their religion, and that in 10 Muslim counties at least 40 percent favored applying Islamic law to non-Muslims. This shows that, for many Muslims, the revealed truths of Islam are not only a matter of personal conviction but must also have a central place in the public sphere of a well-ordered society.

Ibn Sina / AvicennaThere is no central religious authority or overwhelming consensus that excludes such Muslims from Islam. Intolerance need not lead to violence against nonbelievers; but, as we have seen, the logic of revelation readily moves in that direction unless interpretations of sacred texts are subject to nonreligious constraints. Islamic thinkers like Ibn Sina accepted such constraints, and during the Middle Ages Muslims were often far more tolerant than Christians. But the path of modern tolerance has proved more difficult for Islam than for Christianity, and many Muslims still do not accept the ethical constraints that require religious tolerance, and a significant minority see violence against unbelievers as a divinely ordained duty. We may find it hard to believe that religious beliefs could motivate murders and insist that extreme violence is always due to mental instability or political fanaticism. But the logic (and the history) of religions tells against this view.

Does this mean that Islam is evil? No, but it does mean that it has not yet tamed, to the extent that Christianity has, the danger implicit in any religion that claims to be God’s own truth. To put it bluntly, Islam as a whole has not made the concessions to secular values that Christianity has. As President Obama recently said, “Some currents of Islam have not gone through a reformation that would help people adapt their religious doctrines to modernity.” This adaptation will be long and difficult and require many intellectual and socio-economic changes, some produced by outside forces, others arising from the increasing power of Islamic teachings on tolerance and love. But until such a transformation is achieved, it will be misleading to say that intolerance and violence are “a pure betrayal” of Islam. – The New York Times, 1 August 2016

Religious law versus universal ethics – David Frawley

Priest, Rabbi, Mullah, Monk, and Sadhu

Vamadeva Shastri / David FrawleyAll religious leaders should sign a document of universal ethics rejecting any exceptions to it in the name of theology. No human being is condemned or damned, evil or wrong by belief alone. It is our thoughts and behavior that determines our nature and our karma regardless of the religion we may claim to follow. If our behavior is that of criminals, how can any religious law justify it? – Dr David Frawley

Do All Religions Share Common Ethical Principles?

It has been argued that all the major religions of the world share a common sense of ethics. They all teach us not to kill, not to steal, not to lie, to treat others well, to help the poor, and various other virtues acceptable to any sensitive human being. Such rules of respectful behavior form universal ethical principles and are found in many secular law codes as well. Even atheist humanists will honor them.

However, monotheistic belief-based religions teach another set of laws and principles that are purely theological in nature and can override these humanistic ethical principles, at times justifying violence and oppression. Such “religious law” or what could also be called “theological morality” teaches that if you don’t accept our particular belief in God, God will punish you, and in God’s name we true believers have the right to convert, punish or harm you as well.

These biased religious codes tell their followers that they are religiously justified in violating the human rights of those who follow other beliefs; in fact, they will be honored by God for doing so. For the true believers, religious law abrogates all other laws and principles of acceptable behavior.

Not Accepting Religious Beliefs made into Unforgiveable Crimes

The problem is that several prominent sects of Islam and Christianity have not questioned their theological beliefs even when these promote deception, conflict and violence. Islamic law or Sharia stands above all human law codes as something Divine. Christian missionaries similarly feel justified to deceive or intimidate others into conversion as part of spreading the Word of God.

According to many sects of Christianity, a murderer who repents on his deathbed will go to Heaven, while a saintly person who is not a Christian will go to hell in spite of his or her exemplary life. In other words, God will forgive you of heinous crimes if you believe in him, but will not forgive you of the ultimate sin of disbelief, whatever else good you may do. This means that not following certain Church dogmas is equated with great evils—as if violations of theology were worse than crimes against humanity.

In Islam, criticizing Mohammed or the Koran is a crime that can be punishable by death, as stated in anti-apostasy and anti-blasphemy laws. It has been said in Islam that the worst Muslim, be he/she a criminal, is better than the best non-Muslim, be he/she a saint. In other words, belief in Islam outweighs being a good person. Such unethical laws are part of the Sharia law code followed in Islamic states today.

For fundamentalists in Christianity or Islam, theological morality outweighs any universal ethics. It makes deception, theft and killing in the Name of God into virtuous acts, however much destruction and sorrow caused along the way. History is replete with examples of Crusades and Jihads, with genocide, witch-burning, and wanton destruction of entire countries and cultures.

Universal Ethical PrinciplesIslamic State, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

The Islamic State today is a good example of a religious group that follows a cruel theological morality that violates all universal ethics, extending to public beheadings of non-believers. Such true believers feel justified in promoting a wave of terror against all who do not accept their particular view of Islam, which may include those who follow other types of Islamic teachings like the Shias.

Yet Saudi based Wahhabi Islam follows the same law codes as the Islamic State, which it teaches in numerous madrasas throughout the world. As long as Saudi Arabia upholds these cruel religious laws, the rest of the Islamic world will likely continue to do the same, regardless of any covenants of human rights they may politically claim to endorse for the United Nations.

Pakistan is another prime Islamic State in which Islamic law is regularly invoked to justify brutality and to promote state support of terrorist Jihad, now threatening the entire world. Bharat has historically had the imposition of Islamic law that brought about a genocide of Hindus and massive destruction of Hindu temples during the long period of Islamic rule.

An End to Religious Law and Theological Morality

Though religions may appear to share certain universal ethics—it counts for little if they have overriding religious laws that consider it acceptable to harm non-believers. There can be no real interfaith dialogue until such dehumanizing religious laws and principles are totally rejected.

There can be no peace between religions until all theological morality is given up in favor of a universal ethics that does not depend upon any belief. It is wrong to kill, steal or deceive any human beings, not just believers. There is no exception for true believers that allows them to perform criminal acts as a form of religious virtue. That the other person is in your eyes a heathen, kafir or idolater is no excuse for their degradation.

Until such theological morality is rejected, and any religious law that promotes it, speaking of the unity or harmony of religions, and their promotion of love and human values, cannot be taken seriously. This extends to the Catholic Church, which while trying to bring an end to certain political conflicts in the world, continues to promote religious divisions and antagonisms as if it were the only true faith.

All religious leaders should sign a document of universal ethics rejecting any exceptions to it in the name of theology. No human being is condemned or damned, evil or wrong by belief alone. It is our thoughts and behavior that determines our nature and our karma regardless of the religion we may claim to follow. If our behavior is that of criminals, how can any religious law justify it?

If Islam is a religion of peace why does Islamic law promote and justify war, which may excuse terrorism? If Christianity is a religion of love, why does its God of love hatefully condemn the majority of humanity to eternal damnation? If a religion sanctions violating common courtesy and respect between people, how can it lead us to any higher truth or immortality? – Hindu Post, 28 July 2016

» Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is a Vedacharya and includes in his wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient teachings of the oldest Rigveda. Tweet him at @davidfrawleyved.

Cultural Relativism

Islam a tolerant religion!

Paedophile priests go to heaven

See also

What does being a vegetarian say about you? – Tom Jacobs

Vegetarian Mexican Eatery

Tom Jacobs“What does being a vegetarian say about you? It largely depends upon where you live. Vegetarians in India and the West are both driven by ethical concerns, but the moral codes that drive their eating choices are very different.” – Tom Jacobs

Why does someone voluntarily refrain from eating meat? Newly published research suggests the likely answer will depend on whether you ask a vegetarian in Minneapolis or Mumbai.

It finds vegetarians in India and the West are both guided by deeply felt ethical considerations. But the moral codes that lead them to avoid meat are, in many ways, radically different.

“The psychological associations of vegetarianism are more nuanced than has been previously theorized,” a research team led by Matthew Ruby of the University of British Columbia writes in the journal Appetite. “Although Western and Indian vegetarians arrived at the same moralised behavior, their motivations are based on very different moral principles.”

Ruby and his team note that, in the West, vegetarianism has been linked with “broadly liberal worldviews.” But they wondered whether this would hold true in India, where a much larger percentage of the population avoids meat. (According to estimates, 20 to 42 percent of Indians are vegetarians, compared to three percent of Americans and eight percent of Canadians.)

They conducted two studies to examine the psychological underpinnings of vegetarianism. The first featured 272 people recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk: 159 from Europe or North America, and 113 from India.

After indicating whether or not they were a vegetarian, participants filled out a series of surveys measuring their attitudes regarding environmental preservation; animal welfare (including whether animals belong in zoos or circuses); and right-wing authoritarianism (such as the importance they place on obedience and respect). They also answered questions designed to indicate what values they hold most highly.

Among Westerners, vegetarians (compared to meat-eaters) were “more concerned about the impact of their daily food choices on the environment and on animal welfare, more concerned with general animal welfare, more strongly endorsed values of universalism, and less strongly endorsed right-wing authoritarianism,” the researchers report.

Saravana BhavanHowever, among Indians who responded to those same questions, there were no significant differences between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The assumption that a vegetarian is more likely to have socially liberal attitudes holds true only in the West.

The second study featured 828 participants: 266 Americans; 106 Canadians; and two large groups of Indians, 256 recruited from Mechanical Turk, and 200 recruited from a small university. All responded to a series of statements measuring “the belief that eating meat pollutes one’s personality and spirit,” such as “Eating meat makes me behave like an animal.”

“Vegetarians more strongly endorsed the belief that eating meat pollutes one’s personality and spirit than did omnivores, and this difference was especially pronounced among Indians,” the researchers report. They note that in Hinduism, the dominant religion in India, “the aim of vegetarianism … is to keep the body free of the pollution associated with meat.”

They then took a survey based on the Moral Foundations theory of psychologist Jonathan Haidt. Haidt, who conducted research in India, argues that people are driven by a set of basic moral principles, including care/harm, fairness, in-group loyalty, and purity/sanctity. He argues that our fundamental differences arise largely from which of these we emphasize, and which we de-emphasize.

On that front, the differences between Indians and Westerners were striking. Indian vegetarians were more likely than their meat-eating counterparts to endorse not only values related to purity, but also those supporting traditional authority and in-group loyalty. Conservative values, in other words.

This was not true among meat-avoiding Westerners. Indeed, American vegetarians actually placed less value in traditional authority than meat-eating Americans. Ruby and his colleagues suspect these differences reflect the cultures involved, and the place of vegetarianism within those cultures.

“Most vegetarians in the West were not raised as such, but made a decision at some point to convert from the meat-eating diet followed by the majority of people in their culture,” they note. It follows that they would be less concerned with authority, and more concerned with fairness.

In contrast, “vegetarianism has been firmly established in India for centuries, and is associated with tradition, power and status,” the researchers write. “Most Indian vegetarians are raised as such by their families.”

“Given the historical association of Indian vegetarianism with dominant social groups,” they add, it’s no surprise that vegetarianism in that country is strongly linked with respect for authority and in-group loyalty.

The findings are a reminder that “a similarity in behavior across cultures” does not necessarily reflect a similarity in thinking. In avoiding meat, diners from Calcutta to California are making a statement about their values. But that tofu represents different things to different people. – Pacific Standard, 19 September 2013

» Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist in Santa Barbara who writes for Pacific Standard, highlighting interesting—often counterintuitive—findings in academic research.

George Bernard Shaw

Is Raghuram Rajan Moody’s agent in India? – S. Murlidharan

Raghuram Rajan

S. Murlidharan“Raghuram Rajan has clearly crossed the lakshman rekha [with his sanctimonious sermon at the Delhi IIT convocation ceremony]. He might have American pedigree, … and thus might have gone public with his empathy for the American rating agency, but he must realize that is not kosher. … He is as much a government servant as the Revenue Secretary or for that matter any other government employee. His job is to enunciate and implement monetary policy, period.” – S. Murlidharan

Moody's AnalyticsThe American credit rating agency Moody’s has advised India to mind the perceived, incipient problem of religious and cultural intolerance before it gets out of hand. Though it is clearly being influenced by the jaundiced eye views of a minuscule section of the Indian intelligentsia, it is exaggerating stray happenings as the orchestrated norm across the country.

The boot is on the other leg; it is these intellectuals who are being led by their collective noses. By whom? Well, no prizes for guessing.

The Modi government however cannot afford to be dismissive of Moody’s sanctimoniousness. Not even on the ground that the Ivy League rating agency should first hold the mirror to the government in its backyard, what with racial discrimination and gun culture fostered by right to gun feeding on each other to a devastating effect in some pockets of the USA off and on.

Because at the end of the day, India needs foreign capital and technology more even though foreign investors sift the grain from the chaff and are not always sold on what the rating agencies say. FDI and FII into India is not slackening despite the moody prognosis of Moody’s.

What has raised eyebrows and hackles alike is the Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan almost echoing Moody’s views while addressing Delhi IIT convocation ceremony.

The objections are both moral or propriety and technical. He is the RBI Governor first. That makes him a government appointee. There is a gag order on government servants from airing their views on the working of the government they are part of as a small or bigger cog in the wheel. Can the Revenue or Defence Secretary go to town with his views on the functioning of the department in particular or government in general?

The RBI Governor cannot afford to be sanctimonious or condescending. First he is as much a government servant as the Revenue Secretary or for that matter any other government employee. His job is to enunciate and implement monetary policy, period.

It is one thing for him to say “I am my own man” and reduce interest rates at his own pace as dictated by his assessment of inflation and money in circulation but entirely another to pontificate the government on matters not entrusted to him for oversight.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley might have in the past snapped at Rajan’s heels to persuade him to bring down interest rates to spur the economy on its growth path but he never deigned to even remotely comment upon the rights and wrongs of his monetary policies. Rajan has clearly crossed the lakshman rekha or the Rubicon. He might have American pedigree, having spent long years in the US, and thus might have gone public with his empathy for the American rating agency but he must realize that is not kosher.

Law and order is a state subject. There is a view among the Modi detractors that his government is conniving with those waging low intensity communal attacks. Assuming there is some truth in this assessment, what prevents the non-BJP governments from coming down heavily on these anti-social elements?

It is significant to note these so-called mischief makers are quiet in the BJP ruled states.

The central government has not gagged anybody from airing their views. The press is free though a section of it is too free, and economical, with the truth. Yet, it would do well to counter the negative image of India sought to be projected by forces inimical to Modi in particular and the BJP in general.

While a publicity blitz would perfectly be in order, it must roll out economic reforms faster. If Karnataka with Congress government can think of doing away with the mandatory consent clause in its land acquisition law, there is no reason BJP ruled states should lag behind.

This should be done not only to speed up investments in their states but more importantly to drive home a larger message—Modi government was right when it proposed abolition of mandatory consent clause as well as social impact assessment clause in its aborted land acquisition bill for five specified types of projects. – FirstPost, 1 November 2015

» S. Murlidharan writes for FirstPost and other financial journals.

Raghuram Rajan Quote

  • See the letter Vishwa Hindu Parishad WP(E) Ashok Chowgule has written to RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan HERE (PDF)

Media and its fatal obsession with the underworld – Jency Jacob

Chhota Shakeel

Jency Jacob“The Mumbai media’s fascination with the underworld has not been properly documented. Knowing a gangster—I will not use the term ‘Don’ or ‘Bhai’ as it is often used with a tone of respect, thanks to its glorification by Bollywood—is a badge of honour that some journalists are proud of. Anecdotal accounts abound of how many have used these connections for reasons far beyond their line of duty to enrich themselves.” – Jency Jacob

Media“The media seeks accountability from politicians. Who is the media accountable to?” This is a question a school friend asked me a few days ago on WhatsApp, referring to the blanket coverage Yakub Memon’s hanging and his burial received in [the July 31st] newspapers. 
 
Normally, like most other journalists, I must admit that I become defensive when it comes to defending the perceived ills of our profession. It is my firm belief that while readers and viewers have the right to question media coverage, they often analyse editorial decisions simplistically. 
 
That Memon’s hanging needed coverage cannot be denied even though one might differ on the scope and scale of the coverage. This time, though, the anger was not completely unjustified. Most media houses were running a parallel campaign for abolishment of death penalty using Yakub Memon as a crutch—which was unfortunate because they ended up projecting him as an innocent man paying for his brother’s sins at a time when his offences had been proven in court after court, all the way to the top, the Supreme Court. 

In doing so, the media may have also done irreparable damage by adopting this route to build public opinion against capital punishment. 
 
But more than the coverage given to Memon’s hanging, what troubles me more is the interview of underworld fugitive and Dawood Ibrahim acolyte Chhota Shakeel that some newspapers and TV channels ran post the hanging. 
 
Sample some of his quotes: 

Chhota Shakeel: “Woh (consequences) to hoga hi” (Times of India)
 
Chhota Shakeel: We don’t believe in the court. This is not justice, this is vengeance. Revenge has been taken on this man. (Aaj Tak 

Under normal circumstances, any such warning about ‘consequences’ (read revenge) that clearly indicate provoking violence between religious communities would be self-censored by the media. Editorial checks do mean that we edit out portions that could incite communal violence. 
 
Media BiasBut providing an open forum for a fugitive who has been on the run for the past two decades to air his inflammatory views without any fear of the law is clearly a sign of the new lows that the profession has hit. 
 
This is also significant as Dawood Ibrahim—the alleged mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts—has himself been under the radar ever since. This means when we air Shakeel’s views, we end up giving space to a man who has refused to face charges for one of the most dastardly acts of terror modern India has witnessed and still continues to live under the patronage of Pakistan and its intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence or the ISI.   
 
That he can mock Indian agencies and the law and lecture on morals and ethics does not seem to disturb reporters or their editors who routinely conduct and publish such interviews. 
 
It is not anyone’s case that the underworld does not need coverage. After all, they are part of the same society that we belong to and are products of the corrupt nexus that exists between politicians, law enforcers and our systemic inability to enforce the law (not to mention a broken state that fails to intervene in a humane way when they are young). Also, the media can’t always become one with the state in holding back information that is in public interest. A journalist often walks that thin line, sometimes passing on information to the police while at other times choosing to publish that information, both in public interest. Chhota Shakeel’s interview threatening of ‘consequences’ does not fall in either category. 
 
The Mumbai media’s fascination with the underworld has not been properly documented. Knowing a gangster (I will not use the term ‘Don’ or ‘Bhai’ as it is often used with a tone of respect, thanks to its glorification by Bollywood) is a badge of honour that some journalists are proud of. Anecdotal accounts abound of how many have used these connections for reasons far beyond their line of duty to enrich themselves. Factions exist among reporters covering the underworld and many are openly identified as belonging to rival camps depending on who one is closer to—Dawood or Chhota Rajan. So it is not surprising why the interview of a gangster is more about what he wants to say rather than getting him to answer any tough questions. 
 
Ask any young aspiring journalist and most dream of making a career in crime reporting. It cannot be denied that the fascination of speaking to underworld gangsters and being in their core circle is a big attraction, and newspapers and TV channels who routinely do these interviews that border on PR exercises fuel these ambitions. That honest crime reporting is full of unseen dangers, hard work and long hours of sweat and grime are often lost on such aspiring hacks, thanks to how they see their seniors almost identifying themselves with the gangland. 
 
Shazi ZamanThere is much to introspect for the Editor’s Guild and Broadcast Editor’s Association (BEA) on the need for the industry to identify and prevent such clear ethical breaches.  A few years earlier, the BEA had arrived at an informal consensus on providing less airtime to gangsters but as happens with every self-regulated industry, someone decides to violate the guidelines and then it degenerates into a free-for-all in the race for scoops and TRPs. 
 
In a book released in the US in 2011, author Jonathan M. Ladd gives some good insight on Why Americans Hate the Media and How It Matters. Citing a 1956 study carried out in America that “found 66 percent of Americans thought newspapers were fair,” the situation changed for the worse in 50 years. By 2004, when a similar study was conducted, “only 10 percent of Americans had ‘a great deal’ of confidence in the ‘national news media,’ he writes. 
 
Public anger against the media in India is rising. Suffice it to say that a similar study in India will show that trust in the media is at an all-time low. Whenever any attempt is made by the government to regulate the media, the industry is up in arms, and rightly so. But when you lose the trust of your readers and viewers, you pave the way for the government to bring in curbs. That most newsrooms, high on the ‘exclusive’ interview with a fugitive living overseas, are not able to perceive this distrust is a reflection of the disconnect today’s media has with reality. That is the saddest face of all. – Business Standard, 3 August 2015

» Jency Jacob is a Senior Editor for the Web at Business Standard in the Mumbai Area.

West Bengal’s evil days reflect a power-outstripping-ability imbalance – Anirban Ganguly

Dr Anirban Ganguly“Ancient edicts conferred on the subjects the power of rejection. Rulers who failed to nurture their constituents, ceased to be sensitive to their needs, and who grew arrogant while presiding over a venal administration could be rejected or dethroned by the people. The ruled were not consigned to perpetually suffer misrule or valueless conduct.” – Dr Anirban Ganguly

Rajaraja Chola IIAncient Indian texts on governance had always a detailed section on the ethics which enjoined rulers to establish and perpetuate a value-based relation with their subjects. Rulers were clearly directed to be accountable and responsive to those they ruled. Such injunctions on their conduct in public life also succeeded in drawing an effective line to the notion of unlimited power that the sovereign was purported to enjoy. It created the system of checks and balance within the power structure itself.

The edicts also conferred on the subjects the power of rejection. Rulers who failed to nurture their constituents, ceased to be sensitive to their needs, and who grew arrogant while presiding over a venal administration could be rejected or dethroned by the people. The ruled were not consigned to perpetually suffer misrule or valueless conduct. These may have been descriptions of ideal situations or circumstances, but the very fact that they were formulated point to the existence of a dynamic effort at evolving a discourse on ethics and a value inspired conduct in public life that was quite unique to the Indian civilisational spirit and discourse. 

Alluding to such a position, the legendary K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, while discussing the deeper nature of Indian polity in his Gleanings on Social Life from the Avadānas (1945), argued that though these sections and texts may have been utopian in character, a little reflection shall show “that in fact these apparently impossible ideals exerted a tangible influence on the conduct of all truly great rulers of India”.

Dr. R. NagaswamyThat there was a robust ethical tradition in the civilisational context is confirmed, among other sources, by the famed Utthiramemur inscriptions in Tamil Nadu, the first constitution to be conceived in India during the Chola epoch. The inscriptions clearly spoke of the rulers’ urge to see their constituents live a happy and prosperous life, in his opuscule, Elections in Tamilnad, noted epigraphist Dr R. Nagaswamy, for example, observes that the inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola II, found in many parts of Tamil Nadu, specifically mention that his rule aimed at making every individual feel satisfied that he had a full, free, independent and happy life—“Ellorum tanitanniye vaalntanam ena manam mahilndu” says the Chola edicts. The edicts also insisted on transparency in governance and strictly barred those who violated people’s trust reposed in them. Two such injunctions suffice to provide an insight into the stringent demands: “Any elected member who accepted bribe was also permanently debarred from standing for elections” and one who “misappropriated any property” also faced disqualification.

C. R. DasThe quest for evolving or sustaining an ethical framework of governance appears to have continued down to a later age as well. In 1923, C. R. Das, the celebrated Deshbandhu, and political philosopher Bhagavan Das presented before the nation An Outline Scheme of Swaraj. The proposal insisted that “every possible care should be taken to ensure that the people’s elected representatives shall be, not self-seekers, but seekers of the public welfare”.

It is ironical, to say the least, that some present day splurge-loving leaders, especially one rather unruly one from Das’s own state of Bengal, have thrown to the winds these very potent directives, which, if adhered to, in fact can only lend strength to one’s position.

While our Prime Minister strives to revive and rework that ancient Indian ethical framework in our governance structures and mindset, Mamata Banerjee remains a symbol of negating these higher values and ideals in our national life. Hers is a clear case of what Dr S. Radhakrishnan had alluded to, “when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days”.

Bengal’s evil days is a reflection of that imbalance. – The New Indian Express, 29 November 2014

» Dr Anirban Ganguly is Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. Follow him on Twitter @anirbangangul

Didi's governance?