25 Oct 2015

The Bhishmacharya Complex – by A Concerned Ashramite

The situation of the old guard of the Ashram is the same as that of Bhishmacharya, who was unable to use his mighty bow in the service of dharma and was forced to fight on the side of adharma with an anguished conscience. This inability and helplessness to stand for the truth, this forced loyalty towards the powers that be, and the apparently virtuous stand which actually facilitates falsehood is what I call the Bhishmacharya complex!
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19 Oct 2015

Culture wars – By Swapan Dasgupta

It's more a clash of lifestyles than a battle of ideas

In 1961, in a monograph woefully difficult to locate today, the Chicago sociologist Edward Shils studied the predicament of the Indian intellectual in the high noon of the Nehruvian era. His approach was sympathetic but his larger conclusions were not terribly flattering to a community that saw itself as the vanguard of India’s journey to modernity. 

Despite its near-uninterrupted Brahmanical tradition of scholarship and sustained exposure to the West, India, Shils felt, “has not yet developed the traditions which are essential to intellectual life.”
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12 Oct 2015

The flawed logic of the award-returnees – By Swapan Dasgupta

Let me state at the outset that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for writer Nayantara Sahgal who I have had the privilege of knowing for the past 37 years. I have also had very convivial conversations with Ashok Vajpeyi, poet and culture apparatchik, during various literary festivals over the years. I may not have shared all their political likes and dislikes — and Sahgal has occasionally teased me about my “wrong politics”— but there is more to life than common voting intentions, or so I hope. 

Therefore, when Sahgal takes it upon herself to publicly disavow her Sahitya Akademi award, a gesture that Vajpeyi and some others have emulated, the least I can do is to seriously examine the rationale of their protest.
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