शुक्रवार, 9 अक्तूबर 2009


(Understanding the nature of Reality, Knowledge and Value)

It is often felt that teaching a course in ‘Introductory Philosophy’ is far more difficult than teaching a course on a specific philosophical area at a relatively higher level. The ‘introductory’ nature of Philosophy is not elementary in nature. Indeed, there is not ‘elementary’ philosophy with which one can begin as a way of introducing the student to Philosophy. Philosophy is, by nature, intrinsically ‘deep’ right from the beginning. The pool of philosophy is deep all over, with no shallow banks. Any enduring academic experience of teaching Philosophy surely testifies to this claim.

If a teacher has to introduce Philosophy as a specific discipline in an under-graduate class, how would he or she go about doing that? Are there basic chapters of a typical text to start with, in the way there are in other disciplines like Physics and Economics and Biology? Even if certain basic chapters are touched upon, how basic are the contents of those topics or concepts? It seems that the so-called ‘basics’ of Philosophy are far too dense in meaning to help the student make a smooth and easy entry into the subject.

It is almost pointless to begin the discourse with the etymological meaning of ‘Philosophy’, e.g. ‘Love of Wisdom’. After all, the term ‘wisdom’ itself is not too clear or free from ambiguity. Besides, wisdom is not what the teacher is going to teach in a professional academic discourse of Philosophy. The teacher would therefore do well to think of a more ‘practical’ and ‘relevant’ way of accompanying the student in the journey
of Philosophy.

Perhaps the best strategy is to begin with the illustration of the central samples of philosophical discussion that have traditionally been the occupation of philosophers. Here the move would require making use of the traditional classification of Philosophy into three broad categories of discourse: Metaphysics or the Theory of Reality; Epistemology or the Theory of Knowledge; Axiology or Value Theory. The introductory discourse of Philosophy ought to take up the principal concerns of these three sectors.

The two-week long WINTER SCHOOL IN PHILOSOPHY is conceived as an interactive
workshop for young philosophy teachers and doctoral students, who will be instructed by a team of experts on how to deliver effectively introductory lectures in the classroom. Attention is to be drawn specially towards the role of being a teacher of philosophy inculcating philosophical knowledge to beginners in Philosophy. But the teacher himself or herself needs to be sufficiently clear about the way one ought to unfold the conceptual story of Philosophy. That unfolding is to follow the principal issues and arguments available in the discussions of metaphysics, epistemology and axiology.

Metaphysical issues relate to the question of being, whether it is the “Being of God, the World, or the Self”. There are traditional “Arguments for the existence of God: Especially the Ontological Argument”, arguments of “Realism or Idealism about the existence of the World”, and both “Substance-essentialist and Anti-substantivist arguments regarding the existence of the Self”. Furthermore, there are subsidiary metaphysical questions concerning “Mind-Body Dualism”, “Causality, Determinism and freedom of the Will”, and about “Universals and Particulars”.

Epistemological issues that prominently figure in discussion include the “Platonic Definition of Knowledge and the Gettier Problem”, “Perceptual Knowledge”, “A Priori Knowledge”, “Internalist and Externalist theories of Epistemic Justification”, and the general “Problem of Skepticism”.

Axiological questions basically concern Ethics and Aesthetics. Some major issues include “Morality and Egoism/Altruism”, “Moral relativism/Absolutism”, Moral Theories like “Eudaimonism, Utilitarianism and Deontology”, “Virtue Ethics”, and the rise of “Applied Ethics”. Aesthetic problems related to questions about the “Ontology of Art”, “Aesthetic Detachment”, theories of “Artistic Representation/Expression/Form”, and the “Value of Art in Human Culture”.

The Winter School will consist of discussions on a chosen set of topics that relate to these three branches of Philosophy. It is presumed that a basic understanding of Philosophy as an intellectual discourse is an understanding of the principal problem of metaphysics, epistemology and value theory. This understanding is supposed to be uniform and wellintegrated, so that a teacher of Philosophy is capable of rendering that understanding in a format which conduces to a systematic and coherent grasp of the subject.

Emphasis will be laid on thematic discussion and understanding of Philosophy rather than a historical understanding. Reference to history of philosophy would be subservient to thematic relevance. The Indian/Western division of Philosophy would be circumvented by an attempt to tackle a given problem from different angles.

It is most important to realize that the young mind of the student is quite likely to be puzzled by the kind of questions that arise in Philosophy. That is because of the unique peculiarity of the discourse. The teacher must therefore be able to explain why at all such peculiar problems arise, and how they inevitably arise given human rational inquisitiveness. The Winter School will take special care to alert the participants to the utmost need of grasping the rationale of philosophical questions.

It is expected that the two weeks of rigorous philosophical training and interactive exercise of reflection will create enough confidence in the mind of the young teacher/scholar of Philosophy. Towards the final stage of the School, some particular sessions will be exclusively devoted to the demonstration of teaching by the participants.

This exercise will be accompanied by regular written assignments on relevant issues. It is hoped that the result of this exercise in the Winter School will eventually be a rough working paper that synoptically describes a fairly standard programme of ‘A Classroom Introduction to philosophy’. The urgency of such an outcome cannot be denied at least for one reason. Philosophy is certainly unlike other academic discourses because of its peculiar nature. The ‘justification’ of Philosophy is often demanded in view of its apparently ‘impractical’ and abstract character. A young philosopher therefore must be well-versed in the arguments that lend justification to the philosophical enterprise. And the ‘arguments for justification’ must be amenable to their grasp at the introductory level.

It is known that the patterns of courses/papers taught in different Universities are not always the same, and not all Universities have Semester-system method of teaching. But the Winter School programme is catered to a generality of pattern that would be compatible with these variations. In other words, a participant duly trained in the course of these two weeks can be reasonably expected to play a better role in inculcating philosophical ideas in any pattern in which he or she is supposed to adjust to in his or her home-institution. On the whole, the Winter School programme is supposed to have a tutorial flavour. In this respect, it is supposed to be rather different from the usual Refresher Courses in Philosophy. The level of interaction is supposed to be much greater, and constant attention is to be maintained towards improving the analytical teaching potential of the participant.

From the Circular of:
Winter School in Philosophy (December 30, 2008 – January 10, 2009)
Organized by Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati in association with Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla

Friday, October 9, 2009

Relevance of Philosophy in Social Sciences and Humanities

Become a part of the book Philosophy, Education and Indian Value System(CPPIS 2011) Contact:


One thing that appears not to have been done in the country in recent times is to take a serious look at where the teaching, study and research in philosophy are actually heading. Such stock-taking is absolutely vital because philosophy itself has always been a very core area in the history and culture of our country. But, for all practical purposes, philosophy appears to have become just like any other routine academic discipline in the country since its teachers appear to have lost the vision of its special place and role in the general scheme of things. This is an extremely unfortunate development. It is sad that philosophy needs to be rescued from some of those very persons whose duty it happens to be to nourish and promote it. Philosophy should never become a tool for self-promotion and if it is being so used anywhere, every attempt must be made to stop it. We must also note that if such misuse is taking place at all, it is only because regular stock-taking by the community of philosophers in the country has stopped taking place long ago.

Philosophy teachers in our country seem to be perfectly satisfied in carrying on their teaching just like any other academic teaching the students if they like such teaching, doing some reading and preparing academic papers and attending academic seminars like all others in other fields. They are not playing any pro-active role. They have not been examining their own actions and roles critically. One of the chief purposes of this National Seminar is to focus on this serious shortcoming which has come to threaten the very survival of philosophy in our country where there was a time when philosophy was at the pinnacle of serious study and research.

While completely granting the academic character of philosophy, we should remind ourselves that in our country philosophy was always used as a tool for self-transformation and for the making of total and complete human beings. Philosophy was almost never pursued just for its own sake. This role of philosophy has become gradually lost on us probably under the inescapable and wide-spread spell of the colonizing West whose philosophy has for a very long time been fiercely autonomous and with no defined human purpose as its chief goal. In fact, the very notions of self-transformation and self-discovery have today come to be regarded as old-fashioned and have been relegated to the blind and ineffective sphere of religion. It is completely forgotten that self-examination necessarily involves self-criticism and self-assessment which are invaluable in themselves irrespective of whether they are rooted in any philosophical need or religious regimen. Having lost the benefit of self-criticism, some of our teachers of philosophy have gradually ceased to uphold any value even in public and private life and have thus ceased to lead a life of value. Such teachers are no more an asset to philosophy because no person not leading a life of value can value philosophy. They can only hypocritically claim to value it and live for it when they are actually living on it.

This sort of development must be arrested and systematically reversed in the interest of protecting and promoting philosophy. When some philosophy teachers themselves do not value philosophy, it is futile to expect the members of the general public to value it. That is how, it seems, philosophy is fast losing public esteem which it had gloriously enjoyed in the classical past. Nobody can dispute the idea of philosophy as a discipline valuable in itself even if s/he disputes it as a valuable tool for self-realization. Therefore it is high time that all of us in the field of philosophy pay serious attention to its study and teaching, to proper research in it. We are uniquely fortunate in the Government of India itself recognizing the importance of philosophy and we should try to make the best use of the assistance of the Government.

The Indian Council of Philosophical Research has already being doing whatever it can to promote the study of, and research in, philosophy all over India for the past several years. The present National Seminar is to bring together all like-minded individuals in order to take stock of all that has been done well and also of all that has gone wrong in teaching and research in philosophy. The attempt is to arrive at a generally acceptable diagnosis and also a general plan of attacking the maladies. Specific issues concerning the teaching of philosophy in India and also the shortcomings in philosophical research need to be clearly identified and addressed. This document is only tentative and indicative of the enormous task lying ahead and therefore the participants are welcome to add new dimensions and issues relating to the main theme of the National Seminar. The chief aim is to take into confidence one another and proceed as a united group with the generally accepted common goal of improving the quality of teaching and research in philosophy in the interest of philosophy itself and in the interest of all those engaged in the teaching and research in philosophy in India. It is hoped that this most urgent issue of revitalizing philosophical studies in India is as dear to your heart as it is to ours and that you will therefore join us in seriously trying to do what best we can for the future of philosophy in India since this future seems to be under serious threat from within the community as well as without.

NATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON THE STATE OF TEACHING, STUDY AND RESEARCH IN PHILOSOPHY IN INDIA in Mumbai between 23rd to 25th October 2009. From the Notice of the ICPR New Delhi, October, 2009.


मंगलवार, 7 जुलाई 2009


“One should always cherish some ambition to do something in the world. They alone rise who strive.”1 is the great wording of Dr.Ambedkar. There are two fundamental types of human nature. Creative and possessive. Creative humans use human intellect for creative endeavors which enriches human thought; knowledge and wealth thereby contribute to the development of human heritage for the posterity. Possessive people, on the other hand do not believe in the use of human intellect for creative purpose. Gautam Buddha, Jesus Christ, Guru Nanak, Kabeer, Ravidas, Tukarama, Krantiba Jotirao Phoolay, Periyar and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar they all belong to the great class of Ceative humans called as Humanists in Indian context.

Apart from his father, three names or figures- Gautama Buddha, Jotibha Phule, and Kabir-are the most important. They were regarded by Ambedkar as his three masters or gurus.
Dr। Ambedkar stayed in America, the land of liberty, for his higher studies. There he studied the western liberal thought and the humanitarian philosophy expounded by great thinkers such as Prof. John Dewey, who was also his teacher, John Stuart Mill, Edmund Burke, and Prof. Harold Laski to name a few. The impact of these original thinkers on Dr. Ambedkar's mind is evident from the frequent quotations one comes across in his writings and speeches. Whereas the West gave Ambedkar his ‘weapon’, the Indian masters gave him his soul force. According to Sonawane, “Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar's personality had strong humanistic underpinnings. It is only regrettable that the press in the past as well as the contemporary has projected Ambedkar mainly as a great social rebel and a bitter critic of the Hindu religion. Critics of Dr. Ambedkar have ignored his basic humanistic instincts and strong humanitarian convictions behind his every act or speech throughout his life. It is important to trace the origin and consolidation of his humanistic convictions.”2

In his article “Buddha and the Future of his Religion” published in 1950 in the Mahabodhi Society Journal, Ambedkar has summarized his views on religion and on Buddhism in the following manner:
1. The society must have either the sanction of law or the sanction of morality to hold it together. Without either, the society is sure to go to pieces.2. Religion, if it is to survive, it must be in consonance with reason, which is another name for science.3. It is not enough for religion to consist of moral code, but its moral code must recognize the fundamental tenets of liberty, equality and fraternity.
4. Religion must not sanctify or make a virtue out of poverty.3
In May 1956, a talk by Ambedkar titled "Why I like Buddhism and how it is useful to the world in its present circumstances" was broadcast from the British Broadcasting Corporation, London। In his talk Ambedkar said: “I prefer Buddhism because it gives three principles in combination, which no other religion does. Buddhism teaches Prajna (understanding as against superstition and supernaturalism), Karuna (love), and Samata (equality). This is what man wants for a good and happy life. Neither God nor soul can save society.”4

Dr. Ambedkar will be remembered for all time to come as the architect of the Indian Constitution, specially for the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles Chapters which, aim at eradicating “all injustice and tyranny” and ushering in social democracy and social equality. He was however, disappointed that the dominating section of our society did not rise to the occasion and did not water the plants that he had planted. Our political rulers have failed Ambedkar and his vision. It is now for human rights groups and grassroots activists to make social democracy and equality a way of life in the absence of which political democracy will always stand on a shaky foundation. “To translate into action the cherished dream of Dr. Ambedkar in an honest manner requires strong commitment, honest approach and effective implementation of the constitutional mandates upholding the ethos of secularism and eschewing ulterior considerations, narrow party politics, deep-rooted prejudices based on historical events and the so-called religious bigotry.”5 As Ambedkar himself says: “Men are mortal. So are ideas. An idea needs propagation as much as a plant needs watering. Both will otherwise wither and die.”6Dr.Ambedkar also laid down distinction between Dhamma and Religion. He says, “Religion, it is said, is personal and one must keep it to oneself. One must not let it play its part in public life. Contrary to this, Dhamma is social . It is fundamentally and essentially so.”7 So, for him it is system. But in reality when we give an analysis of Buddhist countries then we found that it fails to established equality, freedom, peace and socialism in China and Japan etc. being as a national religious system. They are suffering from the same problems as another countries do. It is another sound matter of consideration. In the West most people come to Buddhism for psychological reasons. In India it is different. Dr Ambedkar's followers were moved by his vision of a new society brought about by the practice of Buddha Dhamma. In the word of T.K. Tope: “Dr. Ambedkar’s erudition and learning were no doubt great….The generations to come may not remember the political achievements of Dr. Ambedkar, Ambedkar the social revolutionary, Ambedkar the modern exponent of Buddhism, may be forgotten, but Ambedkar the scholar, will be immortal.”8
Notes & References:
१. Ambedkar’s citation from Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission, p.२३४
2. Vijay Chintaman Sonawane, Dr. Ambedkar as a Humanist, p.०२
3. Ambedkar’s citation from Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission, p.४९०
4. R. M. Pal, Remembering Dr. Ambedkar ,p.०२
5. Mohammad Shabir, “Dr. Ambedkar’s Quest For Social Justice: An Analysis of Contemporary Scenario,”p.७६
6. Ambedkar, The Buddha and His Dhamma, p.३१५
7. ibid, p.३१६
8. D.C. Ahir, The Legency of Dr. Ambedkar, p.251
Last Modified:१०-१०-2009

शुक्रवार, 10 अप्रैल 2009

Foundations of Marxism

We are here to give you a starting point, a grounding in what Marxism is about. A Marxist has a certain kind of practice, a way of living and working, that we call being a Communist. A Marxist’s thought is based on this daily practice, a philosophy called Dialectics. Thus, Marxism is both a theory and a practice. The theories of Marxism are sometimes called dialectical materialism; to be clear there is no one answer to a question – theory is based on a particular set of conditions that are always finite, and thus, any theory is necessarily limited. To test the validity of theory, Marxists rely on practice as the criteria of truth. Using such a methodology Marx and Engels examined history, which lead them to elaborate theories of the class struggle, the basis of social relations through economics, and the form of society that could follow capitalism. These theories are not immutable truths, they follow something similar to the scientific method. Naturally, there are countless examples of Marxist theories that have been modified, revised, or altogether changed: starting with Marx’s own changes! In this sense, in reading the classics of Marxism your most important task is to comprehensively understand the method; having accomplished that, you’ll begin to see relevant and up to date answers for modern times on your own. :)
What does this mean past all the words and definitions? We are judged by our historical practice and our understanding of the past, present, and future. You can find information about our history in the History of Marxism section. You can see an enormous spectrum of our ideas, the vibrance of debate within our movement, in our Marxist Writers archive. You can find a wealth of ideas we find invaluable to understanding, from the Physics of Einstein to the morality of Lao-Tzu, in our Reference Archive. If your mind is on certain subjects, like the women's movement, art, philosophy, etc, look into the Subject Archive. When you come across some term that just doesn't make sense, a word which has a meaning you want to explore or critique, go to our Encyclopedia of Marxism. Lastly, if you love educating people around the world about Marxism as much as we do, feel free to volunteer! :)
Whew! Okay, so there is enough material up there to fill your nearest public library. It is helpful to have an area of concern, a topic of interest, and work from there. :) To start your journey, a grounding in the basics is important! Read a couple of the Selected Works of Marx/Engels, and to better engage these works you may like to read our study guides. Read Lenin's The State and Revolution, compare and contrasts that with Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed. Alternatively, before going to the classics you can read What is Marxism? by Emile Burns. In this handful of material you will gain a view of what Marxism is capable of. If you take one step further and embrace critique, you will then begin learning and understanding Marxism.
Marxists Internet Achieves, २००९

शुक्रवार, 3 अप्रैल 2009

The Definition of Social Change

The Definition of Social Change
Jo Hazelhurst
When I looked this up on the internet there were not many variations on the definition of social change. What is lacking is what it might mean practically. So I would like to invite you to make contributions of what it means for you, and how you see these changes making a difference to the lives of your own community.
For now here is a summary of the Wikipedia definition. It defines social structure as:
* change in social structure: the nature, the social institutions, the social behaviour or the social relations of a society, community of people, and so on.
* When behaviour pattern changes, in large numbers and is visible and sustained it results in a social change. Once there is a deviance from culturally inherited values, it may result in a rebellion against the established system, causing a change in the social order.
* any event or action that affects a group of individuals that have shared values or characteristics.* acts of advocacy for the cause of changing society in a normative way (subjective).
Others speak about it as any change that alters cultural or social patterns of a society.
This includes patterns of behavior influenced by a system and people in different social positions in relation to: patterns of modus operandi; the patterns that emerge as a result of belief systems; the goals and aspirations; the communication modes
Another interesting site I found offers visitors a chance to say what they think it means. You may have to wade through some rubbish and vulgarities. Go to Grace.evergreen.edu
What I would be interested to explore is what changes you would like to see in the social structure.
If you were president how would you go about creating change in a social context?
What is the ideal? What is missing? How would we know change has happened? i.e. In order to say change has taken place - enough to change the world - what would need to look and feel different?
Give practical examples. Try to look at it from Wilbur's model. i.e. What would need to change internally and externally in both the individual and the social context?

Social Change

Social Change
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Social change is a general term which refers to:
change in social structure: the nature, the social institutions, the social behaviour or the social relations of a society, community of people, and so on.
When behaviour pattern changes, in large numbers and is visible and sustained it results in a social change. Once there is a deviance from culturally inherited values, it may result in a rebellion against the established system, causing a change in the social order.

any event or action that affects a group of individuals that have shared values or characteristics.
acts of advocacy for the cause of changing society in a normative way (subjective).
The term is used in the study of history, economies, and politics, and includes topics such as the success or failure of different political systems, globalization, democratization, development and economic growth. The term can encompass concepts as broad as revolution and paradigm shift, to narrow changes such as a particular cause within small town government. The concept of social change imply measurement of some characteristics of this group of individuals. While the term is usually applied to changes that are beneficial to society, it may result in negative side-effects or consequences that undermine or eliminate existing ways of life that are considered positive.
Social change is a topic in sociology and social work , but also involves political science, economics, history, anthropology, and many other social sciences.
Among many forms of creating social change are theater for social change, direct action, protesting, advocacy, community organizing, community practice, revolution, and political activism.
Models of Change
-- The classic Hegelian dialectic model of change is based on the interaction of opposing forces. Starting from a point of momentary stasis, Thesis countered by Antithesis first yields conflict but subsequently results in a new Synthesis.
Kuhnian-- Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions argued with respect to the Copernican Revolution that people are unlikey to jettison an unworkable paradigm, despite many indications that the paradigm is not functioning properly, until a better paradigm can be presented.
Heraclitan-- The Greek philosopher Heraclitus used the metaphor of a river to speak of change thus, "On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow." (DK22B12) What Heraclitus seems to be suggesting here, later interpretations notwithstanding, is that in order for the river to remain the river change must constantly be taking place. Thus one may think of the Heraclitan model as parallel to that of a living organism, which, in order to remain alive must constantly be changing.
Daoist-- The Chinese philosophical work Dao De Jing, I.8 and II.78 uses the metaphor of water as the ideal agent of change. Water, though soft and yielding, will eventually wear away stone. Change in this model is to be natural, harmonius, and steady, though imperceptible.
Gene Shackman, Ya-Lin Liu and Xun Wang. Measuring quality of life using free and public domain data. Social Research Update, Issue 47, Autumn, 2005. Available at http://sru.soc.surrey.ac.uk/
Cited from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_change, date of citation:02-04-2009.

सोमवार, 30 मार्च 2009

Preface for the 4th Issue

The title of the present issue is On Social Problems in this we will discuss about some social problem. We will find here some collection of articles by different thinkers on different issues. They will give us the right direction to understand social problems. How we define them and what is the right way to find them as a basic problem. The following articles are:

1. Defining Social Problems Dr. John S. Mahoney
2. Corruption in Education system in India – A UNESCO Report
3. Domestic Violence Against Women
4. Corruption is a Violation of Human Rights -Justice K. G.

We have a first article on defining the problems, second and fourth about the Corruption with special reference to Education and Human Rights. The third article is related to the violence against women in family.May this collection of articles give us a good understanding about the social issues. We will continue it to the next issues of the Journal also.
-Desh Raj Sirswal

शुक्रवार, 27 फ़रवरी 2009

Corruption is a Violation of Human Rights

Justice K G Balakrishnan
November 24, 2008
When I was thinking about the theme for this summit, i.e. the restoration of national values -- I asked myself several questions. The first question was whether a discussion on abstract ideas will serve any constructive purpose. However, after going through the programme schedule and the writings of Swami Bhoomanada Tirtha, these doubts were quickly dispelled. There is a clear focus on evolving specific measures for instilling values in public as well as private life and the impressive list of speakers consists of those who have led by personal example in their respective fields.
The second question that I asked myself was whether I can bring in some new ideas to this discussion. Admittedly, what I am about to say is obviously shaped by my personal experiences not only as a member of the bar and subsequently the judiciary, but also as a concerned citizen of India. Hence, I would like to briefly dwell on two issues pertaining to public life -- firstly, corruption in public institutions and secondly, the means used for conflict-resolution in our society. I choose these two themes in particular since they have a direct bearing on the common understanding of citizenship and morality.
Corruption is identified with any person or institution who misuses the power and discretion conferred on the same. Ordinary citizens face unnecessary problems in their routine interactions with governmental agencies. Practices such as the acceptance of favours or misappropriation of public funds have actually come to be described as 'perks' of holding public office and employment. Admittedly, the extent of corruption may have a link with the increasing disparity between the pay-scales offered in the public and private sectors. However, the pervasive culture of graft provokes pessimism about the quality of governance.
In the words of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan: "Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life, and allows organised crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish."
In the discourse of international law, the prevalence of corruption is now considered to be a violation of basic human rights.
This means that the act of demanding or accepting bribes in lieu of performing routine governmental functions is being equated with unjust restraints on personal liberty -- such as suppression of civil liberties and arbitrary detention. If this understanding is adopted in India, then there will be a case for the judiciary to grant constitutional remedies in respect of instances of corruption, over and above the statutory remedies envisaged under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
In recent months, there has been considerable anxiety on account of allegations of corruption in the higher judiciary. The judiciary is the watchdog of the rights of citizens and these instances have once again raised the question of 'who will watch the watchdogs'.
Legal and judicial measures for deterring corruption are only a part of the solution. The long-term solution lies in the realm of education at all levels -- whereby the importance of personal integrity and the spirit of public service will be imbibed in our citizens. Such an education has to take place not only in classrooms but in a variety of social settings -- namely, the family, the workplace and the public discourse shaped by the mass media. Just as some of the distinguished persons gathered here have transformed the lives of people around them by setting strong personal examples, we need to re-build a culture where examples of integrity, personal sacrifice and innovation are given due recognition.
The second issue that I would like to touch on is that of the means being used for conflict-resolution in our country. In a pluralist society such as ours, there are bound to be perpetual differences as well as conflicts among the interests of various sections. However, the test for building an inclusive nation is one that pertains to the means used to resolve these differences.
With the maturing of our democracy, one would expect that social, economic and political differences are increasingly being resolved through means such as rational and constructive dialogue between groups with competing interests. Our liberal constitutional philosophy privileges methods such as reasoned persuasion through public institutions -- such as the legislature and the judiciary. In fact the advent of Public Interest Litigation over the last three decades has clearly widened the role of the higher judiciary in resolving conflicts that have a wider social dimension.
However, it is quite distressing to note that differences based on caste, religion, gender, class and regionalism continue to be the root causes behind organised and often institutionalised violence. Especially in the last few months, one can recount several instances of senseless violence and disruption of routine life in different parts of the country. In many instances, such extreme measures are clearly a strategy to polarise the electorate. Agitations are resorted to on the flimsiest of reasons and public order is threatened even in circumstances where an inclusive dialogue is the best solution.
Such a regressive brand of political action is threatening to undo the very foundations on which our constitutional order has been built, namely those of respect for 'rule of law', 'equal treatment before the law' and 'due process'. One of the key characteristics of a society that respects 'rule of law' is that the state is given a monopoly over the use of violence in the form of the military, police powers and the criminal justice system. This means that all other group interests in society -- whether they are in the form of political parties, caste groups, linguistic groups or business concerns, must respect the legitimacy of the state.
That is a pre-condition for ensuring a climate where constitutionally guaranteed rights are respected and promoted. Even if there is a strong polarisation of views among certain groups, the 'methods of persuasion' need to be preferred as opposed to 'methods of confrontation'. As US President-elect Barack Obama has repeatedly urged during his campaign, it is when we learn to reason with those who disagree with us, that we actually learn more about ourselves.
Justice K G Balakrishnan, Chief Justice of India, delivered this keynote address at the National Summit organised by the Foundation for Restoration of National Values on November 18 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

गुरुवार, 19 फ़रवरी 2009

Defining Social Problems

Dr. John S. Mahoney

I. We have addressed the historical involvement of Sociology in the definition and study of social problems and noted that early studies were done with the ultimate purpose of making the world a better place to live in. We also conducted a brief review of the theoretical perspectives involved in viewing social problems. We now turn to some of the conditions which must be met for a social problem to exist.

II. Not all social conditions become elevated to the status of "social problem." For example, here are some "objective conditions" which exist today, and as you will see, not all of them are considered to be social problems.

Environmental Pollution Resource Depletion Limited Energy Supplies Education Corporate Corruption Unemployment Poverty Drug Abuse Family Decline, (Increased Divorce, Family Abuse, etc.) Nuclear War Crime Racial/Ethnic/Sexual Discrimination Health Care Aging Moral Decline Weakening Institution of Religion Government

Each of the above represents an existing condition which threatens the well-being of the United States and, in some cases, the entire world. Also all are objective conditions that really exist! But we all realize that many of them draw relatively little public concern-- Why?
III. If you review a variety of social problems texts, you find that there is general agreement that four conditions must be met before an objective reality in the greater society becomes elevated to the special status of "social problem." They are:

1. The objective condition must be perceived to be a social problem publicly. That is, there must be some public outcry. People must become actively involved in discussing the problem. Public attention becomes directed toward that social condition.
2 The condition must involve a gap between social ideals and social reality। That is, the condition must run counter to the values of the larger society. At the beginning of the 20th century alcohol abuse was perceived to be a very serious social problem, responsible for family breakdown, abandonment of children, accidental death at work, and violence in society. A "Temperance Movement" emerged that further consolidated public opinion to a point that people wanted to do something about it.
३. A significant proportion of the population must be involved in defining the problem. (A large proportion of the population must be concerned about the condition… It must have national attention. If only a small segment of the population gets involved you have an interest group pushing for the general public to do something about the condition-- not a social problem).

4. The condition must be capable of solution through collective action by people. If no solution is perceived possible, people will resign themselves to their fate. A good example is government bureaucracy-- If everyone takes the attitude that "you can't fight city hall", government bureaucracy doesn't emerge as a social problem. Rather, it is a part of life that everyone must live with.

IV. OK, so lets say that a certain objective reality exists. Also, lets, agree that each of the above conditions is met. There are still other factors which will determine the degree to which something comes to be perceived as a social problem. These are all very logical--
1. If people affected by a condition are influential, or powerful, the condition is more likely to be considered a social problem than if those affected are not influential. When a condition begins to affect the white middle class, particularly those able to influence government policy, or the content of the mass media, the chances of it being considered a social problem increase substantially.

Example: Hard drug addiction had been a lower class, black problem for some time before it reached the suburban white middle class। But when it began to affect middle class kids, we see the emergence of a new social problem!

2. A condition affecting a relatively small segment of the population is less likely to be considered a social problem than if it has adverse effects on a much larger segment of society.

Example: The poverty of Native Americans has received much less attention than the poverty of Black Americans. Why? Native Americans are a relatively small and isolated segment of the U.S. population. African Americans are a much larger minority and are much more visible. The poverty of African Americans also has a greater impact on the middle classes than that of Native Americans.
3. A rapid increase in the number of people affected by a social condition is also important-- perhaps even as important as the number of people affected!

Example: People become accustomed to the prevailing levels of crime, pollution, and urban congestion-- But a sharp increase in the intensity of any of these leads to elevated public concern. One airline crash every year is grounds for concern, but not for the definition of a social problem. But, five crashes in one month will get the public's attention!
4. The mass media also plays an important role in the selection and definition of social problems. It gives selective attention to certain conditions. The liberal press will highlight certain issues while the conservative press will select others.

Example: A good example is the controversy over the Monica Lewinsky affair. The liberal press lamented it, but maintained that the larger issue was the quality of the job that the President was doing. The conservative press saw it as a basic flaw in the moral fabric of the presidency and counter to the values of the larger society. On this issue, the general public seems to have sided with the liberal position if public opinion ratings of the President's job performance are to be believed.

5. Finally, ideology plays an important role in determining which conditions are singled out as social problems.
Example: If the general population has adopted a Marxist ideology, then such things as corporate power, militarism, imperialism, etc. will be perceived as serious social problems in the U.S. However, if the public, as a whole, holds conservative values then "big government," "national defense," and "declining morality" will be perceived as social problems.
Ideology also determines how a social problem is defined। Conservatives and liberals agree that America has a poverty problem-- but they do not agree on a specific definition of the problem, nor do they agree on how the problem should be solved.

Example: Conservatives will perceive poverty as being caused by lack of intelligence, lack of motivation, lack of the ability to delay gratification, and other personal characteristics of those who are poor. Thus, they will tend to defend the system, or in the case of radical conservatives, will argue for a dismantling of the "welfare state" and a return to the free market system.
Liberals emphasize the lack of opportunity and structural factors in the system. The system must be adjusted to open up opportunity. Radical liberals will advocate overthrowing the current system of government and establishing something entirely new.
Cited from:
http://www.people.vcu.edu/~jmahoney/define.htm, Dated:05-02-2009

Corruption in Education system in India – A UNESCO Report

India’s education system is mired in corruption and a high rate of teacher absenteeism in the country was a key factor for it according to the new global study. The UNESCO’s International Institute of Educational Planning study on corruption in education released recently says that 25% teacher absenteeism in India is among the highest in the world, second only after Uganda that has a higher rate. The global average of teacher absenteeism is about 20%.
Teacher absenteeism does not just affect quality of education; it is also a huge drain on resources resulting in the wastage of 22.5% of education funds in India the study said. Politics in teacher appointments and transfers is a major reason for teacher absenteeism according to a professor at National University for Education Planning and Administration.
The study identifies the absence of well established criteria for teacher recruitment a uniform policy on promotion, remuneration and deployment as some of the main reasons identified for teacher absenteeism. However the report found married teachers to be more regular at job than unmarried teachers.
In Bihar two of every five teachers were reported absent the figure in UP was reported to be one-third of the total teachers। However in states like Gujarat and Kerala the figure was lower than 15% the report based on several small studies.
Teachers also believe highly in private tutoring a practice identified by UNESCO as unethical. It does not complement learning at school and leads to corruption the report said. The practice of ghost teachers and involvement of teachers in mismanagement of schools were other gray areas identified in the Indian education system.
Another indictment of the sorry state of Indian education was the view held by students that cheating in examinations is their traditional right। In India universities cheating is now well-established. The fees for manipulating entrance tests ranges between $ 80 to $ 20,000 for popular programmes such as computer science, medicine and engineering the report said.
Cited from:

बुधवार, 18 फ़रवरी 2009

Domestic Violence Against Women

"…the wife: however brutal or tyrant she may unfortunately be chained to-though she may know that he hates her, though it may be his daily pleasure to torture her, and though she may feel it impossible not to loathe him- (he)can claim from her and enforce the lowest degration of a human being ,that of being made an instrument of an animal function contrary to her inclinations." John Stuart Mill
The above lines reflect the brutality that one out of every three women has to face at the hands of their husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles in their homes around the globe। Domestic violence can be described as when one adult in a relationship misuses power to control another. It is the establishment of control and fear in the relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. It is basically an abuse of power. The abuser tortures and controls the victim by calculated threats, intimidation and physical violence. Although men, women and children can all be abused, in most cases the victims are women. In every country where reliable, large-scale studies have been conducted, results indicate that between 16 and 52% of women have been assaulted by their husbands\partners. These studies also indicate widespread violence against women as an important cause of morbidity and mortality. These physical attacks may also include rape and sexual violence. Psychological violence includes verbal abuse, harassment, confinement and deprivation of physical, financial and personal resources. For some women emotional abuse may be more painful than the physical attacks because they effectively undermine women's security and self-confidence.
Violence within the home is universal across culture, religion, class and ethnicity। The abuse is generally condoned by social custom and considered part and parcel of marital life .An example of this can be seen through the gist of a popular Spanish riddle: Question: What do mules and women have in common? Answer: A good beating makes them both better."
The statistics reveal grim picture of the realities prevalent in developing and developed countries alike.
In the United States a women is beaten every 18 minutes; between 3 million and 4 million are battered each year, but only 1 in 10 cases of domestic violence is ever reported.
In the United Kingdom, 1 in 3 families is a victim of assault and 1 in 5 a victim of serious assault, according to a recent report by the home office.
In Austria, in 59%of 1500 divorce cases, domestic violence is cited as a cause in the marital breakdown.
In India the records of National Crimes Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs government of India revealed a shocking 71.5% Increase in cases of torture and dowry deaths during the period from 1991 to 1995 .In 1995, torture of women constituted 29.2%of all reported crimes against women.
In Bangladesh, half of the 170 reported cases of women murdered between 1983 and 1985 took place within the confines of the homes.
The question arises why women put up with the abuse in the home? The answer lies in their unequal status in society। They are often caught in a vicious circle of economic dependence, fear for their children's lives as well as their own, ignorance of their rights before the law, lack of confidence in themselves and social pressures. These factors effectively force women to a life of recurrent mistreatment from which they often do not have the means to escape. The sanctity of privacy within the family also makes authorities reluctant to intervene, often leads women to deny they are being abused. This is equally common in the higher as well as in the lower segments of a society. A woman who files a charge of abuse is often forced to drop it by her husband's family if she wants an uncontested divorce. Social prejudices reinforce domestic violence against women. They are treated as their spouses' property; husbands assume that this subordinate role gives them right to abuse their wives in order to keep them in their place. Against this background is the tradition of dowry, an expectation of gifts and cash from the bride's family, one can imagine the anxiety these expectations may cause to a woman and the consequences she has to face if it is inadequate. Women's physical and mental health is often permanently damaged or impaired and in some cases violence can have fatal consequences as in the case of dowry deaths in India. Physical torture as well as mental torture usually occurs on a regular basis causing suffering and inflicting deep scars on the psyche of the victims and their families. Many assault incidents result in injuries ranging from bruises and fractures to chronic disabilities. Domestic violence has devastating repercussions on the family. Mothers are unable to care for their children properly. Often they transmit to them their own feelings of low self-esteem, helplessness and inadequacy. Violence against women is the most pervasive human rights violation in world today. We need to think and ponder as how this form of degradation of women can be stopped. It needs support from all quarters be it government, NGOs and women themselves. There is also a need to improve women's economic capacities that include access to and control of income and assets and also share in the family's property. The government should strengthen and expand training and sensitization programs.