Sunday 31 January 2016

The double tragedy of Rohith Vemula

  Carl Sagan's widow has written a heart felt letter expressing her sorrow at the suicide of Rohith Vemula.
  Not being familiar with conditions in India, the lady naturally thought that Rohith had died because of prejudice- perhaps that of obscurantist Hindu priests against Scientifically inclined young people from working class backgrounds.
  'To read his (Vemula’s) suicide note and to learn the details of his predicament is to get a vivid inkling of the actual cost of bias to our civilization."
The problem here is that Vemula had received a generous Government scholarship to pursue a PhD program which included some Scientific and Mathematical courses. He chose to switch to Sociology. Still, had he concentrated on his studies, there was nothing stopping him from becoming a writer- if not one like Carl Sagan precisely- then still someone who wrote clearly and engaged with alethic material.

  It so happened that the University he was studying at had previously curbed the power of the Students Union because of serious bloodshed on campus. Since the political situation in the State has improved, the administration should have handed back power to the students. If they had done so then the dominant group could have beaten or harassed the weaker groups to their hearts' content without the police getting involved or any one getting suspended or being forced to quit their hostel. This was a terrible injustice, no doubt, but it was one of a purely political kind. The right of students to beat each other rather than do research is absolutely fundamental to Indian democracy. American Universities have discriminated shamelessly against Indian students- like the great Lalit Modi- and expelled them for trivial reasons- e.g. kidnapping and beating a student in connection with a drug deal gone sour. The bias displayed by the Americans did not however prevent Lalit Modi, on his return to India, from making a great contribution to civilization. Why was Rohith prevented from making a similar contribution? The answer is he killed himself. Ironically, this desperate action of his may end up benefiting his mother and siblings- his brother, a 'Geoscientist', and his mother, a graduate, may get Government jobs- surely, an unusual outcome for a Student activist.

  Carl Sagan's widow writes- "If we could somehow quantify the totality of lost contributions and innovations as a result of prejudice, I believe we would find it staggering.'
  Prejudice, similar to that displayed by the American University to Lalit Modi, resulted in Rohith being censured, rather than celebrated, for some alleged beating or threatening behavior aimed at a rival. But, if student leaders don't beat each other who will? Do you think President Obama will send Marines to do the job? Will Angela Merkel suddenly descend from a cloud and start laying about her with her rolling pin? I am sorry, you have a very naive view of Late Capitalism if you continue to indulge in such day-dreams.
  Prejudice and Bias prevented Rohith from continuing to make a contribution to civilization by beating his fellow students. His suicide was a double tragedy- his no less brilliant peers lost a chance to contribute to civilization by beating him.
"Is it possible that the attention paid to Rohit’s story will lessen its chronic repetition? I am trying to find something hopeful in an otherwise heartbreaking example of needless suffering and squandered potential.'  
 Rohith's tragedy has highlighted the role of student organizations like the Communist SFI- which he accused of casteism- and the Ambedkar Students Association which is now dominant in his University thanks to an alliance with the SFI.

 ASA, SFI, anything and everything exist for their own sake. Seldom the interest of a person and this organisation match. To get power, to become famous or to be important in between boundaries and to think we are up to changing the system. Very often we overestimate the acts and find solace in traits. Of course I must give my credit to both groups for making, introducing me to wonderful literature and people.” - See more at:

  Clearly, we should not feel any prejudice or bias against the ASA or the SFI just because they may appear to an untrained eye to have some sort of cognizable ideology but accept them as potentially equal to the Trinamool Youth Congress or even more disreputable Caste based Mafias.

  Vemula's death does have political implications quite separate from vindicating the inalienable right of PhD students to beat each other. These are

1) The wedge between Educationally Backward Classes and 'Dalit' Scheduled Castes. Vemula's father is OBC but his mother identifies as Dalit.  The same caste may be OBC in one State and S.C in another. On top of that, caste identities can be fluid. In this case, Vemula's mother was 'adopted' into the OBC caste of her husband but separated from him because of domestic violence. She raised her children in an exemplary fashion by her own efforts- her 'adoptive' mother, a highly educated woman, appears to have used her as a servant merely.
  Had Rohith brought a court case to claim the Dalit status of his mother (who was underage when married off), he might have won and established a valuable precedent.
   However, since Rohith entered in the General category, he could also fit the role of an OBC martyr, which is why his father now claims he was murdered by the Dalits. As a matter of fact, a modus vivendi is possible whereby Dalits claim Rohith for their propaganda abroad while the parties vying for the OBC vote claim him for their own in the domestic sphere.

2) The scandal that Govt. funded Universities feather-bed a class of student-politicians while the vast majority of students struggle to pay inflated fees for second rate instruction in private medical or engineering colleges.
 People like Vemula, who could have studied something worthwhile, received double the manufacturing wage to swan around repeating worthless Kancha Iliah type nonsense and either beating ineffectually or, more reprehensibly, not beating fellow students at all. When, for some reason, his monthly payments were delayed by red tape, he killed himself. This shows the bankruptcy of the student elite. Beating fellow students is a moral duty and healthful recreation, not something conditional on getting a hefty stipend. Incessantly repeating worthless nonsense is optional but this business of reading Carl Sagan (I've checked- it isn't porn at all) shows the low caliber of the fellow.

3) The student wing of the ruling party is licking its lips at the thought of capturing Rohith's University. The truth is the majority of students are Hindu and don't like Muslim terrorists and don't want to get a reputation as beef eating nihilists. Once Student Unions gain autonomy they will realize they can beat their fellow students with impunity and will do so with vim and vigor as part of their contribution to Civilization.

4) Indian youth has a choice between Hardik Patel and Rohith Vemula. Patel is in Jail- i.e. is enrolled at the most prestigious and best possible Research Institution concerned with 'making a contribution to Civilization'- whereas Rohith hanged himself after his stipend got held up. Older people like myself- who believe all these young fellows nowadays are Nancy boys simply- may take a dim view of the future. The day may come when our youth does not beat each other up with vim and vigor. Even the art of uttering obscene insults is declining. On my last visit to the village, I was distressed to see elderly men whose skulls had not been fractured by their hefty sons wielding agricultural implements. This is the main reason more and more Hindus are abandoning turban and flaunting their bald patches for all to see. Verily this is Kali Yuga.

Anwar M Shaikh's Magnum Opus

   Prof. Anwar Shaikh's magnum opus- 'Capitalism: Competition, Conflict and Crises'- is due out from O.U.P in February. This is a must read book for anyone with an interest in Political Economy.

  Unlike Piketty's famous tome, this is proper textbook presenting a Unified Theory of every aspect of the Economy without any reliance on standard assumptions of Utility Maximization, Perfect Competition, Rational Expectations and so on. This book has two great strengths
1) Shaikh is a superb scholar of Classical and 'heterodox' Economics- his exposition is magisterial and not tendentious in any way.
2) Shaikh has embraced the methods of 'Econophysics' and produces compelling empirical evidence for some truly innovative, indeed revolutionary, insights and predictions.

   Make no mistake- this is a path-breaking academic textbook but the author has worked very hard to express himself as clearly as possible so as to reach the intelligent layman who has no time for Academic point-scoring or Epistemological Methodenstreit.
   Shaikh is a very very bright guy who could easily dazzle us with his literary skills and encyclopedic knowledge of fashionable things like 'chaos' and 'turbulence'. But he simply isn't interested in celebrity status.
  He is a man of the Left- he volunteered to go teach in a school in Harlem in the late Sixties- and has been a Professor at the New School for many years. Yet he doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve or play the 'race' card. This is because his Theory is based on Reality and he wants us to use it to make things better.

  It may be objected that Marxism, nowadays, is represented by the likes of Varoufakis. It is a pose, a gimmick, nothing more. Shaikh's empirical and original theoretical work already attracts attention and gets incorporated in the models of the truly smart. But Marxism isn't about being smart its about 'attitude' and being entitled enough to indulge in 'retro' histrionics- thus Shaikh's book can't become a best-seller like Piketty's. All this may be true. However, the fact is, whether you are a young person choosing a career or a middle aged man worried about your pension, or a retired person wondering how much you can afford to gift away to your children, we all need to have a better model of what is going to happen in the Economy. Shaikh's book helps us do this.

Monday 18 January 2016

Mein Kant- Chapter One- Rise of the Philosopher Penguin.

In 1963, as I later learnt from my Akka, a drunken penguin with delusions of grandeur escaped from the Bonn Zoo by pretending to be the new born child of a passing Tam Bram couple. Sadly, the penguin- though correctly predicting that Bonn would one day be ruled by a South Indian- had attached himself to the wrong family. In any case, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Bonn's potential to become the seat of a more larcenous Fourth Reich greatly dwindled, which is why the penguin in question does not resent Herr Ashok Sridharan, the current Mayor of the latter City, too much.

Nevertheless, the above factum creates a scandal for a stare decisis Kantian Jurisprudence because the philosophical penguin's life-plan as conceived in 1963- i.e. well before Herr Sridharan's birth- would class with, for wrongly perceived as res judicata, uncontested Deduktionsschriften which- had the legitimacy of something like the Hague Concert of 1710 been prolonged in the manner Kant valorised- would have validated the following imputatio legis- 'It is the undersigned author, not any subsequent interloper with a South Indian name, who should be lording it over the Germans from their legitimate Capital City of Bonn and launching blitzkriegs against those bastard cousins of mine in Hampstead and T.Nagar and San Franfuckingcisco who still tease me for waddling around at weddings jutting out my belly which is like totally insensitive dude coz, let me tell you, for your kind information, it's no picnic being a flightless bird.'

The objection that some necessary imputatio facti is lacking for the above to hold is easily defeated by pointing out that I'm a fucking penguin dude. Qaestio juris can only be settled by me coz like fuck anybody else knows about what fucking law applies to fucking drunken penguins with South Indian names who were born in fucking Bonn? Get a grip.

Monday 11 January 2016

Subramaniyam Swamy's 'Krishna' offer.

I thank God I've always been ugly, stupid, hateful or just plain barmy
The exact opposite in every way of Subramaniyam Swamy
Whose Vishnu is the colour of the winning vervet's Scrotum
Tho' but upaashruti is ergodicity's Kunti Totem.

1) Vervet monkeys have a lot of blue skin, but most of it is covered by fur, However, the male scrotum is hairless and the bright blue colour is visible from almost every angle, and is interesting to other males who come to examine it. Brain and Gartlan reported that when a male vervet falls in rank, the bright blue fades to a powdery blue or sometimes turns completely white. This colour change takes about two weeks. I enquired what the colour is due to, and was told there was a blue pigment in the skin. This seemed interesting as it might reflect a reaction of melanophores, possibly mediated by some hormonal change in the blood supply. John Price.

2) The word totem comes from the Ojibway word dodaem and means "brother/sister kin".

3) UPAaSRUTI. a supernatural voice which is heard at night revealing the secrets of the future.

4) Krishna- he whose skin is black. Kunti- biologically, she is the paternal aunt of Lord Krishna but was adopted into a different Royal family. Still, the Lord discharges his duty to his cousins in the affectionate manner of a maternal uncle. Nevertheless, he does not take sides- except by reason of omniscience and an overriding duty to protect humanity.

Friday 8 January 2016

I'm the ugly child I was

Once again in the mirror, abashed, dismayed
See the trick Time, sudden, has played!
Now, as then, sore loved because
I'm the ugly child I was

All Surface is my Narcissus tomb
& Cain my Abel's nom de plume
Such Unanimity must Acquittal win
From, to, Sorrows' Sanhedrin

Saqi! Let Gemini breed in Liriope's womb
Wine to blooden, Christ to doom
So Love get drunk on Plato's Laws
I'm the ugly child I was.