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Issues in Modern India

Tuesday, 16:30-18:30, 405

 

Participants

סוגיות בהודו המודרנית

 

Abstract

'Alternative' Scriptures: Reflecting Caste Confrontation in Contemporary Punjab

Recent decades featured a growth of social and caste (predominantly, Dalit-Jat) tensions in the Indian state of Punjab. Trying to get their share in the resources and assert themselves in Punjab's politics, Dalits are resorting to religion simultaneously trying to distance from mainstream Sikhs due to the overwhelming dominance of upper Sikh castes in gurdwaras and Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, and resultant discrimination of the lower castes. Dalit gurus have made attempts to adopt "alternative" sacred texts (of different origin) as a substitute to the Adi Granth, the core text of Sikhism.

In my paper I am going to focus on a rather sensitive issue of Bhavsagar Samundar Amar Bani Granth, a text compiled by Baba Bhaniarawala and his Dalit followers in the Ropar district of Punjab. The book was banned by the Punjab government in 2001 on the allegations that some parts of it offended the Sikh community and could create communal disturbance. The ban was quashed by the High Court in 2008 and subsequently re-imposed by the Punjab government. The proposed paper will discuss the development of this conflict with regard to the multidimensional role of controversial scriptures in Punjab's politics.

 

Jews, Judaism and Israel in India's English-Language Fiction: A Mirror of what India's Elites believe?

We have tried to assess opinions prevailing among India's elites, or opinions to which these elites are exposed, by reading the books of India's best-known English fiction writers since 1980/90: Anita Desai, Amitav Gosh, V.S. Naipaul, Arundathi Roy, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth and three more recent, successful young novelists, Aravind Adiga, Chetan Bhagat and Vikas Swarup. We added books by the Nobel-laureate Amartya Sen who is an economist and philosopher.

These writers have published five books where true or fictional Jews and Jewish themes play a dominant role. Two (Desai and Seth) speak about the Shoah, one (Gosh) about medieval Jewish long-distance traders and two (Rushdie) about fictional Jews, one a local Cochini and one a French Shoah survivor who becomes a famous American ambassador. Five books, among fifty to hundred important works by all mentioned authors together, is a lot for a country with no Jewish "problem". In addition, there are comments and indications in many other books which allow us to draw some conclusions on the author's views. We found great empathy with the dead Jews of the Holocaust and medieval Egypt, but less interest in living Jews, and in two cases (Seth and Roy) vitriolic hostility to Israel. What is known of traditional Jewish ethics is presented as Christian (Naipaul, Sen). Only Salman Rushdie has detailed knowledge of Jews and their history but he also incorporate anti-Semitic stereotypes from the West. All are profoundly interested in Islam, Muslims and their problematic in India and beyond. None knows anything about the Jews of Islam, from Muhammad's brutal encounters with the Jews of Arabia to the emigration, flight or expulsion of the Jews from the Arab world in the 20th century.

There is need for a broad Jewish and Israeli cultural policy and information outreach in India.

 

The experience of M. K. Gandhi in the light of crisis management

The role of crisis management around the world and among other academic disciplines is changing rapidly. In the wake of human relations approach to management crisis management begins to take into consideration the role of core national values as intangible assets of each nation. Especially because of globalization this aspect is becoming more important. Is successful globalization possible? Given that, we need to go back to history and some bright examples, which have never been scrutinized in the light of crisis management. One of the most interesting example is the non-violence resistance (satyagraha), managed by M.K. Gandhi in India in order to convince British to recognize the independence of India. We scrutinize this example, because not a violence and military power helped Gandhi to achieve such results, but the core national values of Indian nation, Gandhi as a leader himself and his campaign, which was entirely built on the basis of religion identity of Hindu people of India. In this paper I testify the following points: 1. The self-identity of Indian nation appeared only as a reaction of British intervention 2. Non-violent success of Gandhi's campaign was based on the religious roots of his nation, his negotiations with British were also based on the understanding of their different mentality, also rooted in religion 3. His personal ethic always correlates with his honest and open life as politician 4. The successful globalization in favor of all actors is only possible when core national values of each nation are taken into account.

 

"Kisush Hashem" and Satyagraha: A Comparison

On November 1938. Mahatma Gandhi used the Harijan newspaper as a stage for presenting his harsh demand from the Jews, specifically urging them to adopt his Satygraha (Non- Violence) strategy in order to resist the Nazis policy towards them. This harsh demand raised a wide variety of responses among the Jewish political- intellectual community, the most famous ones being from Martin Buber's, Judea Magnes' and Haim Grinberg's. In their responses, Buber and Magnes claimed that the Jewish concept of "Kidush Hasem" is a kind of Non-Violence doctrine.

The Holocaust serves as a unique and highly sensitive case study of Gandhi's Non-violence philosophy. It raises the question of whether Non- Violence can indeed serve as an effective strategy against extreme evil doctrines. In my lecture, I will focus on Gandhi's attitude towards Nazism as a doctrine and present his moral approach regarding the kind of action Jews of Europe should take. In light of Buber's and Magnes' responses, I will focus on the similarities and differences between "Kidush Hashem" and Satyagraha and show that the two concepts differ widely.

 

תקציר

מה בין קידוש השם לסאטיגראה

בנובמבר - 1938 פרסם גנדהי את הצהרתו "היהודים" שעסקה בשאלת ארץ ישראל ובמצבם של יהודי גרמניה תחת שלטונו של היטלר. גנדהי דרש מהיהודים לאחוז בתורת אי האלימות (סאטיאגרהא). נראה שהצהרותיו של גנדהי, שהתפרסמו ערב מלחמת העולם השנייה, חשפו הן חוסר הבנה לרוע הנאצי והן חוסר ריאליזם פוליטי, כפי שהתברר במהלך המלחמה ומשנודעו ממדי השואה. ההצהרה עוררה תרעומת רבה ושלל תגובות שהידועות בינהן הן של מרטין בובר, יהודה לייב מגנס וחיים גרינברג. מתגובותיהם של מגנס ובובר עולה הטענה שמושג "קידוש השם" הקיים במסורת היהודית הוא מעין תורת אי אלימות. השואה מהווה מקרה מבחן קיצוני וטעון לתורת אי האלימות של גנדהי ומעוררת ביתר תוקף את השאלה אם שיטת אי האלימות אפקטיבית כנגד הרוע המוחלט כפי שהוא משתקף בנאציזם. במחקרי אציג את עמדתו המוסרית של גנדהי לגבי כיצד היה על יהודי אירופה לנהוג, ולאור תגובותיהם של בובר ומגנס אנסה לבחון את השונה והדומה בין מושג "קידוש השם" במסורת היהודית לדורותיה לבין הסאטיאגראה הגנדהיאנית ואראה שהשוואה זו אינה במקומה.