Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fwd: Kejriwal’s Delhi; Back to ancient Greek City Republic !

Kejriwal's Delhi; Back to ancient Greek City Republic !
Recently, Turkish archaeologists discovered the oldest Parliament building in Assos in North Western Turkey belonging to fourth century BC, where both Plato and Aristotle taught for some time. The author had visited the ruins on a picturesque spot in 1995.
It may be recalled that Turkey also known as Anatolia and Asia Minor was part of the Roman empire and its imperial city on the Bosporus ,Byzantium, then Constantinople , with its borders right up to the Persian empire and river Tigris .But after the Ottoman Turks victory under Sultan Fethi the Conqueror ,it was renamed Istanbul and became the Ottoman capital ,until Ataturk shifted  to Ankara for strategic and other reasons .
So Turkey has more Greek monuments than Greece and more Roman sites than Italy .For its over 40 civilizations see
Let me briefly refer to the Eastern foundations of Western civilization.
"As there was little comparable civilization in Western Europe and certainly USA in pre Christian era, they claim that their civilization, culture and thought originate from the Greeks of Aegean and Asia Minor (Turkey).  According to them, Greek civilization and culture evolved and flourished in Crete and evolved when Greeks (pirates) coming from the Aegean islands settled on the west coast of Asia Minor (called Ionia-Yunani) .Therefore ,Minoan civilization of Crete forms the basis of Greek and hence Western civilization.  
It is too simplistic and illogical, if not downright absurd. Why not Cyprus, Malta, Sicily?  At that time, there were flourishing civilizations in Egypt, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Persia, Sogdiana and India. Persian Empire extended up to western Turkish coast with Sardis as its outpost. Most Greek city states in Asia Minor were under the Persians, who could cross the Dardanelles or the Bosporus at will or occupy Greek lands.  The first Greek victory over Persians is celebrated as Marathon race in sports.  The first victory of the West over East!  
Cretian civilization is derived from Egyptian and Phoenician.  Both are indebted to Mesopotamian, verily the mother of all civilizations, which evolved mostly between Tigris in Euphrates in Iraq and southeast Turkey.  The evolution in human progress took off six millennia ago.  But fourth millennia BC was remarkable, not only in Mesopotamia but in the Nile valley and the Indus Valley. From family units polity developed into villages and cities, kingdoms and empires.  The cities were ruled by a god and in his name by the king.  To begin with, the first deity was Earth, Mother Goddess. Civilizations in Mesopotamia were created by Sumerians, Babylonians, Akkadians, Assyrians and others. Nile got cylindrical seals from Mesopotamia and the beginnings of writing.  The Nile civilization is magnificent, well preserved but unidirectional and flourished in isolation, without the stimulus of exchange.  
If one studies the Egyptian or Pharoanic civilization, much has been contributed to it by the Nubians of Upper Egypt.  Many Pharaoh's had thick lips and crinky hair.  Or La la, Egyptians are bad enough and now to claim that the Sudanese might have influenced the Greek and hence the Western Judo-Hellenic Christian civilization. Yes, after the development of civilizations in Mesopotamia and the Nile valley, it filtered to eastern Mediterranean, which became a cradle of civilizations, with exchange of ideas through trade and people. That is how the island of Crete acquired civilization. 
The achievement of a civilization may be expressed in terms of its best points—moral and ethical, aesthetic, scientific, and, not least, literary. Legal theory flourished and was sophisticated. Early on, it was expressed in several collections of legal decisions, the so-called codes, of which the best-known and the earliest is the Code of Hammurabi.  Throughout these codes recurs the concern of the ruler for the weak, the widow, and the orphan.
There are 25 firsts achieved by Sumerians.  These include wheels, the plough, the loom, the potter's wheels, the brick, and the sail, working with metals and finally writing. Technical accomplishments were perfected in the building of amazingly accurate Ziggurats (temple towers resembling pyramids), with their huge bulk, and in irrigation, both in practical execution and in theoretical calculations.  At the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC, an artificial stone often regarded as a forerunner of concrete was in use at Uruk (160 miles south-southeast of modern Baghdad); The ultimate weapon to spread civilizations remains systematic writing."
Secular Turkish Republic's first Parliament building was constructed in the new capital Ankara from funds collected in India to save the Caliphate after WWI in the wake of Congress Muslim league agreement and sent to Kemal Ataturk .Ataturk abolished the Caliphate and used the funds for the first parliament building and the first bank of the republic .
City Republic of Athens
However, it is rightly believed that the Parliament buildings of Athens are much earlier and belong to fifth and sixth centuries, and so rightly the origin of democracy as practiced in a city state goes to Greece. These city states , their colonies and confederations reached great levels of prosperity that resulted in an unprecedented cultural boom, of classical Greece, expressed in architecture, drama, science, mathematics and philosophy.  In 508 BC, Cleisthenes instituted the world's first democratic system of government in Athens.
According to one definition, democracy is a political system in which all the members of the society have an equal share of formal political power. In modern representative democracy, this formal equality is embodied primarily in the right to vote.
(Indian democracy has been reduced to choosing between Chautala and Hooda.In Chennai between Amma and Dhritrashtra. In UP ,SP has a majority with 29% of the votes cast .So India does not even has representative democracy)
Athens emerged in the 7th century BCE, like many other poleis, with a dominating powerful aristocracy. However, this domination led to exploitation causing significant economic, political, and social problems. These problems were enhanced early in the sixth century and as "the many were enslaved to few, the people rose against the notables".
At the same period in the Greek world many traditional aristocracies were disrupted by popular revolutions, like Sparta in the second half of the 7th century BCE. Sparta's constitutional reforms by Lycurgus introduced a hoplite state and showed how inherited governments can be changed and lead to military victory. After a period of unrest between the rich and the poor, the Athenians of all classes turned to Solon for acting as a mediator between rival factions, and reaching to a generally satisfactory solution of their problems.
Democracy under Cleisthenes and Pericles
Even though the Solonian reorganization of the constitution improved the economic position of the Athenian lower classes, it did not eliminate the bitter aristocratic contentions for control of the archonship, the chief executive post. Peisistratus became tyrant of Athens three times and remained in power until his death in 527 BCE. His sons Hippias and Hipparchus succeeded him.
(A Congress spokesman once railed that Anna and Kejriwal should get elected to do what they wanted .He proclaimed that what they represented was tyranny of the unelected and unelectable .In fact most political parties are TYANNIES as defined by the Greeks since once elected they get power by hook or crook .Then comes democracy) Eat crow now.
 After the fall of tyranny and before the year 508–507 was over, Cleisthenes proposed a complete reform of the system of government, which later was approved by the popular Ecclesia. Cleisthenes reorganized the population into ten tribes, with the aim to change the basis of political organization from the family loyalties to political ones, and improve the army's organization. He also introduced the principle of equality of rights for all, isonomia, by expanding the access to power to more citizens.
 During this period, the word "democracy": δημοκρατία – "rule by the people") was first used by the Athenians to define their new system of government. In the next generation, Athens entered in its Golden Age by becoming a great center of literature and art. The victories in Persian Wars encouraged the poorest Athenians (who participated in the military exhibitions) to demand a greater say in the running of their city. In the late 460s Ephialtes and Pericles presided over a radicalization of power that shifted the balance decisively to the poorest sections of society, by passing laws, which severely limited the powers of the Council of the Areopagus and allow thetes (Athenians without wealth) to occupy public office. Pericles was distinguished as its greatest democratic leader, even though he has been accused of running a political machine. In the following passage, Thucydides recorded Pericles, in the funeral oration, describing the Athenian system of rule:
"Its administration favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life."
By 500 BC, the Persian Empire controlled territories ranging from their home Iran all the way to what is now northern Greece and Turkey, and posed a threat to the Greek states.  Attempts by the Greek city-states of Asia Minor to overthrow Persian rule failed, and Persia invaded the states of main land Greece in 492 BC, but was forced to withdraw after a defeat at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.  A second invasion followed in 480 BC.  Despite a heroic resistance at Thermopylae by Spartans and other Greeks, Persian forces sacked Athens.
Kejriwal having become the ruler of the city of Republic of Delhi has laid down some of his policies and reminds one of the earliest Greek city republics in Greece , Asia Minor and right up to Jordan , like Jarrash and others
First Post commented and wondered if it will transform the political process of India as the euphoric commentators in the national media predict? Unfortunately not, because AAP is a unique Delhi phenomenon which has a context that is specific to Delhi - the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare and the uprising against the Delhi gang-rape. In addition, it 's also the capital of the derelict UPA government. And most importantly, it had a tireless, strategic and committed leadership comprising Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia and of late, a socio-politically savvy Yogendra Yadav - a total A-list! As the national interest shows, AAP is indeed a template that inspires the progressive political minds and captures public imagination in India. It will certainly appeal to large sections of Indians.
But to copy the template and adapt to the local situations - even in urban centres - is an uphill task for a number of reasons: one, it has to be spontaneous; two, the leadership has to emerge and evolve organically; and three, it should have the right ecosystem that can justify and nurture the movement. Now that the Delhi AAP experiment has worked big time, the political parties at the state level will be extremely wary and they will ensure that such a space for an AAP kind of movement is curtailed.
In the highly polarized and vicious political situations in the states, the biggest threat to such movements will be violence, and abuse by government machinery. Can one imagine an AAP-type movement in Bihar or Madhya Pradesh, which had recorded 32 and 28 political murders respectively in 2012 (NCRB data)? Or in West Bengal, where roughly 26 per cent of the violent crimes the previous year were political? In fact, there have been several AAP-type local movements in different parts of India - founded on welfare of people, transparency and participatory processes - that took on the political mafia of goons, caste-lords and feudal order, but were quelled by the murderous violence. In India, the biggest threat to any independent political movement that threatens the turf of established parties is violence because there is so much at stake. AAP got away because it was in Delhi. Perhaps it might work in a few more cities with considerable media glare.

Now that it has made a historical mark, will the AAP be able to scale up across India on its own? Unfortunately, this again is highly unlikely although the party claims to have established the organizational base in many states all the way up to the districts, because the states are dominated by regional outfits. Moreover, in almost all states, local politics is driven by caste. But, this is not to rule out homegrown alternatives that mirror the AAP- character.
In fact, the AAP should provide methodological and logistical support to such movements and even provide national cover so that they are less susceptible to violence and other forms of intimidation. Can AAP lead a movement that can edge out the Left parties from the progressive, liberal space? Probably yes. With the Left parties abandoning their commitment to class struggle and getting drowned in petty bourgeoisie politics underwritten by corporate, other moneybags and thugs, the AAP and its offshoots should aim to occupy this space. India has lost its Left and the AAP can reclaim and redefine this space. AAP is an idea, a possibility. Will it work in the states?
But all political parties and leaders are running scared.

A bloody revolution, if AAP fails, likely, then chaos.
The huge octopus like mansion of corruption, political banditry and thuggry involving all parties has been built brick by brick over 60 years .It cannot be dismantled by peaceful means that easily.
Most revolutions are carried out by middle class educated persons.
Extracts from an earlier article on Hazare's fast for Jan LokPal bill and how the establishment of the political class hoodwinked every one.

Revolutions of the people by the people and for the people are not and cannot be planned in details. They happen when its time has come .It needs a spark, as say a suicide in Tunisia in February .It can take unexpected turns and twists .It may not succeed and can be even aborted .It can be high jacked as happened in Romania, when in 1989 it was taken over by old sidelined communists and finally, mafias owing loyalty to the West are now ruling .A poll 5 years ago showed the much maligned by the West Nicolai Ceausescu as the most important leader in Romanian history. Globalisation and neo liberalism has heaped misery on the masses .As it has all over the world including India.


In Iran, Mullahs hijacked the revolution in 1979 in spite of Ayatollah Khomeini and remains incomplete .In Algiers, the freedom fighters after seven years of bloody struggle for independence in 1962 just ended up replacing the ruling French elite. The usurping elite were and remain challenged by the angry masses with religious moorings under young radical leadership.


In India , independence came partly as a result of the changed world situation , with UK going bankrupt and US thrusting to replace it , which they have in India and the Indian elite is quite happy as the local proxies of  the Wall Street and Washington ie corporates ,MMS Kohli, Ahluwalias and many such others .


As a student of history of revolutions around the world, it is my firm belief that to avoid massive bloodshed which will put the fear of God in the heart of the totally corrupt, insensitive and brazen ruling elite across the whole political spectrum, a lasting and fundamental change must come about quickly whether it is Lokpal or electoral, educational and other reforms .


Look at the Egyptian revolution ,still underway  but after 6 months the old ruling elite of military fat cats minus a few prominent exploiters like Mubarak family and close cronies ,remains in place .

 This I had written when the Egyptian revolt began in February, 2011.


"Egypt might join France, Russia, Turkey, China and Iran, and emerge as a modern nation from the crucible of a bloody revolution. The people of Hindustan, are unlikely to do so, where the regime is no less corrupt, but where corruption is decentralized and almost 'legitimized '. Seventy percent of the poor who live on less than a dollar have been conditioned by Brahminical dharma that it is their Karma for sins in past lives.


"The political architecture after Mubarak is not easy to predict but democracy as defined and not as practiced say even in USA and India might not come about any time soon .The Egyptian armed forces are well entrenched since 1952 and remain powerful as in Iran, Turkey, Pakistan , China and military-industry complex in USA.


"In Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West aligned mafias have literally taken over .In Romania , after the spontaneous students revolt in end 1989 , the old dissident Communist group sidelined by Ceausescu took over the 'revolution' and is now ruled by neo-liberalism. After the 1989 Tiananmen Square popular opposition and revolt, military backed Communist party remains entrenched in China. But China was at least making economic progress. Egypt's economy has been stagnant."


Evolution of the Equality before Law or the Rule of law

An eye for an eye – Hammurabi


Rule of law is a Semitic contribution to human civilization. The 'Eye for an eye 'custom was codified as part of the Hammurabi Code, which formed the basis of law in Semite lands. If eye is not taken for an eye aka guilty not punished then lawlessness will take over .This Semite tribal thesis later became the core of Judaic, Christian and Islamic civilizations .In Europe it was further refined.


Rule of Law or equality of all before the law evolved further in Europe following the Reformation and the Renaissance.
Thus the current rule of law as acknowledged and accepted is basically a European construct on Hammurabi Code ,which evolved over a long period through revolutions and evolutions, along with the concept of a modern state and the nation .It emerged after centuries of wars among the Popes ,Holy Emperors and kings and other religious leaders and barons .And finally ; common people rose and fought for equality for all citizens and rule of law .A King was guillotined in France , Czar assassinated in Russia ,Ottoman Caliph fled Turkey , as did Chiang Kai Sheik in China and the Shah-in-Shah  from Iran and some others  elsewhere too.
During modern era the concept of duties of a citizen and of the ruler was further evolved and was codified in Europe helped by development of political, economic, social and ethical thought .It is only then that the concept of a nation and equality before law emerged and slowly took hold. These were then transmitted to colonies in America, Asia and Africa and implemented and accepted with different levels of success
India has not gone through any such metamorphosis yet. Nor is it likely any time soon .So do not hold your breath .Yes, there are revolts and rebellions in north East ,in Kashmir and in increasingly large swathes of areas where rights of tribal's have been usurped ,reducing them to misery .So they are now coming under Maoist influence and sway.


Hindu outlook and Rule of law & Removal of Corruption in India.


Just passing a strong Lokpal Act will not solve the problem of corruption or inequality in India .The problems are deep rooted, religious and civilsational.


Poet AK Ramanujam said that Indians don't seem to have a sense of absolute .They place everything in some context or the other. And, depending on the context, what the rest of the world would regard as being wrong in the absolute sense becomes quite all right in India.


All this is supported even by our epics , Ramayana and Mahabharata .Like the trickery by the great  noble and transparent  warrior of Ramayana , Lord Rama in killing his opponent Bali while hiding behind a tree or in the Mahabharata war ,the apostle of truth Pandava Yudhister  proclaiming the death of Aswathama (elephant) for military gains are all lauded , accepted and readily employed in daily life , specially by the new political leadership which has emerged from the grass roots from the villages and small towns and are not versed in western concept of  the rule of law .


Thus Indians in general have little sense or respect for rule of law. Their concept is very flexible. Show me the man and I will show you the law depending on the situation. There is almost total unanimity in applying rules and laws contextually for personal gains and advantage.


Thus India/Hindustan is not a nation in the European sense and even in many other ways .Identity is still caste based not only in India but to quite some extent even in Pakistan and Bangladesh too . Among the followers of Islam, supposedly an egalitarian religion,the caste has been replaced by Ashraffs (migrants from Arabia, central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan ) and high caste converts , mostly Rajputs and Jats , who are considered superior to converts from lower castes and untouchables .The caste malady exists among Sikhs too as manifested by recurrent resistance by low caste Sikhs against Jat Sikh domination in religious and political institutions . Christians in Kerala have separate caste based churches. Even in the most highly educated state in India, politics remains caste and religion based. Thus education is no panacea.
Let me give a few examples .When I made my first call in Cairo in 1962 on my first ambassador Azim Hussien ICS , on my telling him that I am a Rajput , he could not contain himself and smiled and blurted  ,'You know ,I am a Rathore Rajput' .Son of Fazli Hussein , pre-partition chief minister of  Punjab , who ruled the state in coalition with Jat leader Chhotu Ram , Azim Hussein was otherwise very reserved ,taciturn and aloof. While posted in Ankara (1992-96) I visited Bucharest and was invited for dinner by Ambassador Julio Ribeiro , a former police chief of Maharashtra and Punjab . Even before I had a few sips of the whisky, he said ,'You know I am a Chitpavan Brahmin'.
A retired Indian Ambassador Surendra Kumar wrote a piece for  Tribune, Chandigarh about the antics of Indian parliamentarians of all castes and parties about caste based census  .He then narrated from personal experience how Indians were not satisfied unless they found out his caste , when he encountered them. These included high caste top civil servants , diplomats and politicians , who were or rose to become vice-presidents and presidents of India .

Upward movement in India's caste system ?


Eminent Indian sociologist M.N.Srinivas, propounded the theory of Sanskritisation as the process by which castes placed lower in the caste hierarchy seek upward mobility , based on an ethnographical study of the Coorg Community of south Karnataka, India.

Srinivas defined Sanskritisation as a process by which "a 'low' Hindu caste, or tribal or other group, changes its customs, ritual ideology, and way of life in the direction of a high and frequently 'twice-born' caste. Generally such changes are followed by a claim to a higher position in the caste hierarchy than that traditionally conceded to the claimant class by the local community..."

One clear example of Sanskritisation is the acceptance, imitating the practice of twice-born castes, of vegetarianism by people belonging to the so-called low castes, who are traditionally not averse to non-vegetarian food.

Looked from another angle , Sanskritisation is but (cultural) 'colonization' of society that entails the imposition of a set of beliefs, social structures and practices (Brahmanism) upon the Hindu society, allowing it to take root progressively and in a top-down (NOT bottom-up) manner by first inducting the upper / ruling classes of the native population.

The British colonialism could be called Anglicization, defining it as a process by which the natives of India sought upward mobility by emulating the ways and manners of the British lords who chose to spend some time in India as part of their global mission to 'spread civilization' (and, incidentally, economic restructuring aka looting their subjects )
We will not discuss Hindu beliefs and relevance or importance of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and all that goes by the name of Hindu scriptures, and therefore in avatars and rebirth, the varnashram dharma or varna-vyavastha either in the sense in which it is explained in Hindu dharma shastras like Manusmriti or in the so-called Vedic sense and the Hindu taboo of not eating beef or the idol-worship and other such controversial matters.
High caste Imperialism
Thus we can also say that while imperialists divided the subject races to rule over them ,Brahmins , since time immemorial have divided the Hindu society, to rule over them as the highest rule making caste. They gave religious sanction and fear of hell and uncounted births as non humans and other untold tortures and miseries , if the non Brahmins wavered from the caste based Dharma and obligations , mostly for the benefit of the higher castes at the cost of those lower down.
In this Brahmin ordained apartheid like systemic cancer since millennia there has not been much weakening since 1947 or even in the equality of the sexes guaranteed by the Constitution. The women in real life remain relegated to the bottom by the religiously enforced grading led by Brahmin fraternity , warriors and nominally ruling caste of Kshatriyas , the trading and agriculture community of Vaishyas and even the Dalits ( who in the countryside still remain untouchables). While for political reasons the reservations in Assemblies and for jobs have distributed benefits unevenly to Dalits and Tribes the Muslims have now ended as the new untouchables as brought out in the prevailing discriminations against them by various studies and reports. Even rich and respectable Muslims are refused flats by Hindu dominated building societies.
But the situation of women remains unenviable .A girl child is still given food the last in the family , so it is with her education ,with female foetusicide ,bride burning for dowry or maltreatment of widows. A few years ago , Shankaracharya of Puri declared that women have no right to learn Sanskrit the language of Hindu Shashtras or read Vedas. A Shankaracharya , mostly a Brahmin ,tries to be like an Ayatollah Khomeini ,a jurist –consult in Shia Iran, to maintain Brahminical control over Hindu society and has been used to deny education to non-Brahmins and women. Brahmins , about five percent of India's population including obscurantist cranks and charlatans  continue to rule the spiritual life and flourish all over India ,with many of them named Ananda (bliss ) spreading swamis ,preachers and priests on religious TV channels . Some have been charged with , molestation ,rapes and other crimes somewhat like Catholic priests all over the world.

 K.Gajendra Singh ,29 August, 2011.Mayur Vihar, Delhi