Guest Post by Ravi Sinha
(Marx Bicentennial lecture – Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur, March 16, 2018)
etaddhastidarshana iva jatyandhah
That is like people blind by birth viewing an elephant.
- (Shankaracharya’s bhasya on Chandogya-Upanisad 18.1)
It was six blind men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The ancient Indian parable of blind men and the elephant, popularized in modern times by John Godfrey Saxe’s nineteenth century poem, has often been deployed in philosophical discourses about the nature of reality and its relationship to sense perception. It has served as a useful metaphor in many an argument about empiricist epistemology, moral relativism, cultural plurality, even religious tolerance. No such usage is intended here. My purpose in starting out with the parable is mostly methodological – how does one put together a vision of the beast based on necessarily partial observations of it. Continue reading To Gain a View of the Elephant – India, History, Modernity, and Marx : Ravi Sinha
This is a guest post by AKHIL KATYAL
Born on 4th February, 1949, Agha Shahid Ali would have been 62 next month. The Kashmiri-American poet who spent the last half of his life in the States (he migrated to Pennsylvania in the mid 70s) died in the winter of 2001 due to brain tumour. The next year had begun with papers and journals in the States, and in Kashmir and India, remembering Shahid. ‘Your death in every paper,’ Shahid had written for his own idol the singer Begum Akhtar after she passed away in 1974, ‘boxed in the black and white / of photographs, obituaries.’ In his new absence, he similarly reappeared in the words of his friends as an insurmountably beautiful poet, a gregarious Brooklyner, a near perfect cook, an impossibly good teacher and a lasting friend. Apocrypha started building around him very soon after his death. One could say this was the final proof that Shahid’s name would abide – that stories began to be spun around him as soon as he was not around. The Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie, Shahid’s creative writing student at Hamilton College in New York and then at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in the 90’s, and someone who always recounts his indelible influence on her writings (he coloured her drafts red), was one of the first to add to the stories that have multiplied since in this decade after Shahid’s death. Kamila’s friend, also a student of Shahid, had told her that some months after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, Shahid was riding the subway going to teach his class at NYU when he started to feel faint and began to black out. ‘For a moment,’ her friend told her, ‘he thought, “I’m dying,” and then he told himself, “No. First I’ll teach my class, then I’ll die.”’
Continue reading ‘i swear…i have my hopes’: Agha Shahid Ali’s Delhi Years: Akhil Katyal
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan, USA, UK, Spain, the Russian Federation, to name a few, are a testimony to the cruel attacks on civilians and other human rights abuses in the recent past by non-state armed groups, including terrorist groups. They are showing utter disdain for the lives of civilians and others, continuing a pattern of serious crimes and crimes against humanity. They fail to abide by even the most basic standards of humanitarian law. The attacks and other abuses by armed groups are so frequent and the security situation so grave, that it is impossible to calculate with any confidence the true toll upon the civilian population, let alone the long term consequences that so many people inevitably suffer.
Continue reading In Cold Blood: Abuses by Armed Groups