Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world. It evolved in the Indian subcontinent over 5000 years ago and has a rich body of literature. Unlike monotheistic religions such as Christianity or Islam, Hinduism is polytheistic, with thousands of deities and gods being worshipped. Even in terms of ethnography and culture there is a rich diversity of Hindu expression. The sacred rituals and beliefs related to Hinduism vary across ethnic communities in India. The Hindu scriptures explain morality in the form of legends and myths. More than a religion per se, Hinduism can be looked at as a philosophical system. The key themes of this system are that of the interconnectedness of life, repercussions of good and bad deeds (karma), the temporariness of earthly existence and the aspiration toward liberation from it (moksha). Texts such as the Upanishads and epics such as Ramayana and Mahabaratha serve as mediums of this philosophic discourse.
In Geeta Kothari’s short story the . . . Read More
The Free the Children Initiative is a much needed social project. It aims to free children in developing nations from bonded labor and other forms of exploitation. The brainchild of Craig Keilburger, the project has attracted public attention in the United States and the rest of the developed world. The relevance of such an initiative cannot be overstated, for in the era of globalization, it is grossly unjust how children growing up in different parts of the world experience markedly different standard of life. The most important message of the initiative is how children from one part of the world help their counterparts in another part of the world. This way, a sense of global solidarity and fraternity is built into children at a very young age.
The Free the Children (FTC) – India Initiative has the basic objective of liberating children from child labor. But this cannot be achieved in isolation from social and economic factors that force children into work. . . . Read More
There are numerous favourable reasons why international students opt to study in Australia. A review of the literature pertaining to the topic published over the last 5 years throws light on these reasons. Some of the major reasons include cost-effectiveness, multi-racial academic environment, prospects for employment after graduation, precedent of successful immigrant integration into society, government support for overseas students, etc. But the review also revealed how there are some issues of racism and political conservatism that discourage international student enrolment. Nevertheless, on balance, the favourable reasons outnumber and outweigh the drawbacks. The rest of this paper will highlight the array of reasons why international students choose to study in Australia, while also indicating the negative factors gleaned from the research.
It is a reflection of the attractiveness of Australia as a centre for higher studies that it ranks third among a dozen competing . . . Read More
Based on the current rate of growth of world human population, the year 2050 is a fair estimate of when the 9 billionth baby will be born. The rate of scientific and technological advancement in the last few centuries has happened at an unprecedented pace. As recent as the beginning of the 19th century, societies across the globe were functioning on the feudalistic model, where local landlords and warlords ruled their dominions with brute authority. The agrarian societies of the time quickly gave way to the mass industrial economic models, where, as Adam Smith famously pointed out, division of labor and efficiency of production were given great importance. This era lasted a century and half till the 1970, by which time a new global economic paradigm was beginning to take shape.
The 1970s is the pivotal decade in which the neo-liberal economic model (also commonly called ‘globalization’) was being adopted as the core government policy. The United States . . . Read More
Both Ramayana and Shakuntala are great works of artistic and philosophical merit. Originally written in Sanskrit close to two millennia ago, their authorship and date of origin are both speculative and mythologized. Yet, these ambiguities do not detract from their unique contributions to Eastern philosophy and literature. Both are great dramatic narratives and are integral to Indian folklore and tradition. The two works offer a glimpse into the social, political and philosophical currents affecting India two millennia ago. In this sense, they can be treated as fictionalized yet historically informative documents. Though, both Ramayana and Shakuntala are different in scope and historical setting, they share a common focus on philosophical questions pertaining to morality, choice (freewill) and chance (opportunity). This essay will argue that, though the two works are narrative stories set in ancient India, their scales, characters, themes and tones are . . . Read More
By the start of 1980s, currents of change were detected in the global economic order, with nationalism and protectionism being replaced by neo-liberalism and free flow of capital. Even as elites from the West promoted this new economic order, the process was facilitated by respective business leaders from nations across the world. (Tyvela, 2004, p.156) Even Communist China was at the forefront of the global neo-liberal program, making it only a matter of time before other countries joined the system. And this is precisely what had happened in the 1980s and continues to this day. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and the shift in policy framework of several developing countries, the nature and complexion of geo-economics had taken a different form. Major financial institutions such as International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter- American Development Bank were the chief promoters of the neoliberal project.
The neoliberal system also . . . Read More
India is the world’s largest democracy. With a population in excess of one billion and an electoral franchise that extends to all citizens above the age of 18, the General Elections that is conducted every five years is indeed a grand spectacle. Moreover, considering the broad diversity of language, culture and religion within the population, the successful execution of electoral exercises deserves much appreciation. The United States, whose public representatives proudly proclaim their country’s democratic credentials at every given opportunity, is the second largest democracy in terms of voter count. Yet, the U.S. could not claim the same degree of representation and plurality that India can. In this respect Indian democracy can be said to be more functional than the more publicized democracies of the western world.
But this is not to say that real-politic does not exist in India, or that political campaigns and policy-making are fair and just. In . . . Read More
There is very little doubt that capitalism is a highly potent economic system for generating wealth and prosperity. In the last four decades of its implementation globally, there are numerous examples that support this claim. As Peter Berger writes, capitalism is a “horn of plenty that heaped…immense material wealth and an entrepreneurial class, on the countries in which it originated.” (Foulkes, 2006, p.22) This newly emerged entrepreneurial class shows little tolerance for government bureaucracy and regulation. At the same time it clamors for ever more material prosperity in the form of consumer goods, social progress in the form of quality education, etc. More importantly, it was argued, this entrepreneurial class would enforce democratic structures in the localities in which they operated. In other words, “by producing economic wealth and an entrepreneurial class, capitalism inevitably produces democracy. And since democracies don’t start wars or have . . . Read More
European imperialism of the last few centuries were heavily centered on the perceived moral responsibility of its leaders toward other supposedly backward regions of the world. Also referred to (not without a sense of irony) as the White Man’s Burden, this notion of cultural, religious, scientific and administrative superiority over far-off civilizations had led to several negative consequences. Irrespective of the real intentions (some are benign while others are pure snobbery) behind this construction, it has not ceased to exist with the demise of conventional projects of imperialism.
Rudyard Kipling, a writer who captured the essence of British imperialism in India, acknowledges the duplicity and hypocrisy that White Man’s Burden entails in his poem of the same title. The opening lines of the poem stingingly point out presumptions about cultural superiority by the White folk: “Take up the White Man’s burden-; Send forth the best ye breed-; Go bind . . . Read More
The author duo of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have made economics accessible to the general reader through their popular work Freakonomics and its sequel. Continuing on with the spirit of scholarly adventure, they yet again unfold unexpected correlations in understanding odd phenomenon. In the article in question, originally published in Slate magazine in May of 2005, the authors connect the dots and explain the skewed sex ratio in some parts of the Third World.
Amartya Sen, who has done extensive research on the problems of the Third World, especially his native India, originally attributed the skewed sex ratio to a list of social ills. This includes preference for boy babies in a patriarchal society, leading to female infanticide; neglect of baby girls in terms of care, nutrition and education; trafficking of adolescent girls through prostitution. Sen argued that all these factors combined to create a disparity of 100 million missing women in Asia. . . . Read More