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Showing posts from May, 2016

The Obama legacy on race

Even those not particular about following political speeches were moved to tears listening to the now famous Yes, we can!” victory speech by Barack Obama in 2008.  I remember having printed copies of the speech and distributing them to my study-circle.  
US had come a long way since abolition of slavery, since Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement and the final nail on the racial coffin was the election of a black to the topmost position in the nation. Since, any further criticism on the continuing poor treatment of blacks is rebuffed with: “How can you talk about racism any longer, when a black man is the president, the most powerful human being on earth?”  At least this is how legitimate concerns about the enduring racial discrimination are papered down, feels author Richard Crasta.
In his latest offering The Many Faces of Barack Obama and Race in America: An Immigrant's View the author of the path-breaking Impressing the Whites: The New International Slavery, reviews the l…

The unity in diversity of Hinduism

Listening to a popular Telugu speaker on Hindu spiritualism on television, I was slightly shaken when he chided those taking sides in the Vaishnava-Shaiva rivalry and went on to suggest that Hindus do not need external enemies when we are so divided between ourselves.
This reminded me of a chance encounter with an elderly, learned person few years ago, whose home could be mistaken for a library if other signs of family life weren’t so apparent. For few moments, we had a discussion about the books – mainly Hindu philosophical works – and he was making a powerful case for his chosen (belonged to Madhva sect) theory of Dvaita philosophy as against others, notably Advaita (my inherited line). He also claimed that whereas Advaita philosophy lulled Hindus into other-worldliness, rendering them susceptible to Islamic invasions, Dvaita philosophy gave rise to the powerful Vijayanagara Empire (more on this part later). While he was pretty strong in his choice of worlds, calling Adi Sankara a cr…

The origin of Vijayanagara Empire

Let’s test our knowledge of history: name 10 Hindu kings of India, quick!
If you’re able to do so, you’ve have my admiration. But if you find yourself unequal to this task, don’t curse yourself, for this was the way our ‘eminent historians’ (Arun Shourie’s term for left-leaning historians who force-fitted history into their ideological template) designed the system. That Indians have no sense of their rich historical heritage, except when it can be used to shame them into disowning it as with caste system, sati, etc.
In school curriculum, we (I speak of CBSE syllabus) had one chapter each for Moghul emperors with detailed description of the social, cultural and political scenario; we barely had equivalent treatment of the pre-Islamic India. While medieval history is detail-rich on the exploits of Delhi Sultanate and Moghul Empire, many southern empires are reduced to a footnote.  But nothing explains the shoddy portrayal of the one the most important empires of South India whose legacy…