Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Urvashi" is a poem by Rabindranath Tagore. In this poem, he praises the beauty of Urvashi.

Urvashi, Tilotama, Meneka and Rambha are mythological creations. They are believed to be the four nymphs who live in Heaven and their job is to entertain the gods. Urvashi was considered to be the most beautiful 'apsara' among them.

Tagore, in his poem, praises Urvashi and through his language elevates her from being a mere seductress to a divine being.
Since Urvashi is neither the daughter nor the mother/bride of any person. She is free from all the restrictions imposed upon such roles by society. She is unattainable - according to the myth, Urvashi did not let anyone touch her. Her beauty was enough to captivate anyone's attention and cause even the sages to break away from their 'tapasya' or meditation.

Tagore caters to the interests of the Western audience while translating this poem. He calls Urvashi the 'denizen of Eden'. He also likens her to a 'charmed serpent' which can be viewed as a symbol of evil, as per the Holy Bible.

Tagore states that Urvashi was born from the ocean and since she came to earth only in her youth, he wonders if she spent her childhood in the seas, playing with pearls.
Since she is not human, she cannot be on earth forever and when she leaves, the whole universe weeps. She is someone whom everyone desires but cannot attain.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Development - Gustavo Esteva

The Invention of Under-development

At the end of the Second World War, it was the United States of America that emerged as a super-power. All the institutions created in those years recognized that fact: even the United Nations Charter echoed the U.S. Constitution.
However, America wanted something more. They wanted their new position in the world to be explicit and sought to consolidate that hegemony and make it permanent.
On January 20, 1949, the day on which President Truman took office, the new era of 'development' was opened for the world.
Truman made use of the word 'under-developed' in his speech and thereby, changed the meaning of development...Never before had a word been universally accepted on its very day of political coinage: a new perception of one's self and of the other was suddenly created.
Thus under-development began on 20th January, 1949. On this day, 2 billion people became under-developed. From that time on, they stopped being what they were and in all their diversity, they were transformed into an inverted mirror of others' reality.
However, one must remember that Truman was not the first to make use of the word. Wilfred Benson was probably the first person to invent the word when he referred to the 'under-developed areas' while writing on the economic basis for peace in 1942. Others such as Rosenstein-Rodan and Arthur Lewis also made use of the term and it continued to appear occasionally in technical books or United Nations document but it was only because of Truman that the word actually acquired relevance.
Development is nothing but an escape from the undignified condition of under-development. For 2/3 of the world's population, today, to think of development, first, requires the perception of themselves as the under-developed, along with the whole burden of connotations the term carries.
Today, for 2/3 of the population under-development is a threat that has already been carried out. It is a life-experience of sub-ordination, of discrimination anad subjugation.

A Metaphor And Its Contorted History

Development describes a process through which the potentialities of an object or organism are released, until it reaches its natural, complete, full-fledged form. Through this metaphor, it became possible to show the goal of development, and its programme.
The development or evolution of living beings, in biology, referred to the process through which organisms achieved their genetic potential and development was frustrated whenever the plant or the animal failed to fulfil its genetic programme, or substituted it for some other. In such cases of failure, the growth was pathological.
Darwin's theory caused development to evolve from a conception of transformation that moves towards an appropriate form of being to a conception of transformation that moves towards an even more perfect form. During this period, evolution and development began to be used as inter-changeable terms.
The transfer of the biological metaphor to the social sphere occured in the last quarter of the 18th century.
Development also became the central category of Marx's work: the Hegelian concept of history and the Darwinist concept of evolution were inter-woven in development, reinforced with the scientific aura of Marx.

The metaphor of development gave global hegemony to a purely Western genealogy of history and robbed people of different cultures of the opportunity to define the forms of their social life.
By the beginning of the 20th century, 'urban development' became a very popular term.
In the 1930s, the association between development and colonialism acquired a different meaning. The British started the 'dual mandate' according to which the conqueror should be capable of economically developing the conquered land and also accept the responsibility of taking care of the well-being of the natives. This dual mandate collapsed and took the form of development once the level of civilization started being identified with the level of production.
It is not possible for us to de-link development with words such as 'growth', 'evolution' or 'maturation'. The word always implies a favourable change - a change from worse to better, from bad to good.
However, for 2/3 of the population this positive meaning of the word constantly serves as a reminder for what they are not. In order to escape from the undesirable condition, they need to be enslaved to others' experiences and dreams.

Colonizing Anti-Colonialism

Since it was taken for granted that under-development existed, an intensive search for the historical and material causes for that state started.
Many Latin American theorists strongly critiqued North America for all the development strategies. For them, Truman had just substituted a new word for the backwardness and poverty that had always been existing. Under-development was a creation of development and it only reflected a perception: it was just a comparable adjective.

Conceptual Inflation

Later, development was reduced to just economic growth. Development simply started to mean the growth in a person's income in economically under-developed areas. In the 1960s, however, social growth was seen partly as a pre-condition for economic growth and also as a moral justification for it.
By the end of the decade, many factors contributed to dampen the optimism about economic growth: the short-comings of the economic policies and processed had become very conspicuous by the end of the decade and it also became evident that economic growth was resulting in rapid inequalities.
Instead of seeing the social and economic aspects of development as separate, the next decade involved the merging of the two. The United Nations resolved to identify a unified approach to development and planning that would fully integrate the economic and social components in the formulation of policies and programs. However, this UN endeavour was short-lived and unsuccessful.
1975 onwards, theories regarding human-centered development started appearing. The Basic Needs Approach of 1976 aimed at achieving a certain specific minimum standard of living by the end of the century.
The 1980s was the 'lost decade for development'.
The 1990s gave birth to a new development ethos. In the North it called for re-development i.e. to develop once again what had been mal-developed, or what was now obsolete.
Now, re-development is taking the shape of sustainable development. Human development is also being taken into account.

Expanding the Reign of Scarcity

During the 19th century, the social construction of development was linked to a political design. The 'law of scarcity' was constructed by economists to denote that man's wants are great but his means are limited.
Polanyi was convinced that economic determinism was a 19th century phenomenon and that the market system completely distorted our views of man and society. He documented the economic history of Europe as the history of the creation of the economy as an autonomous sphere, disjoined from the rest of the society.
Louis Dumont showed that the discovery of the economy through the invention of economics was a process of social construction of ideas and concepts.

New Commons

For the common man, struggling to limit the economic sphere is not a mechanical reaction to the economic invasion in their lives. In order to free themselves from the economic chains, they see their resistance as a creative re-constitution of the basic forms of social interaction. They have created new commons in their neighbourhood or villages to live on their own terms.
In these new commons, there are forms of social interaction that emerged only in the post-war era. After having understood what survival means in an economic society, these people are counting the blessings they find in these refuges and actively work to re-generate them.
Following the economic definition of learning, education is equated with diplomas. Health is equated with dependence on medical services.
Within new commons, needs are defined with verbs that describe activities embodying wants, skills and interactions with others and with the environment.


In pre-independence India, Kashmir was ruled by a Dogra Hindu Maharaja called Hari Singh. He was known for his atrocities on the Muslims as well as the Kashmiri Pandits. In his rule, 6000 gazetted positions were reserved for the Dogras (especially the Rajputs) despite their inferior educational qualifications. Even the judicial system was such - the punishment of murder for everyone was capital punishment but it was not applicable only for the Dogra Rajput.
At the time of independence and partition, the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference (AJKMC) existed. In 1933, it was split and Sheikh Abdullah formed the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (AJKNC). They both protested against the atrocities done by Hari Singh.
The AJKMC wanted to establish a state on grounds of religion similarity i.e. a theocratic state. The AJKNC fought anti-feudalism. This is the reason why AJKNC withdrew itself from the All India Muslim League.
During partition, Hari Singh had signed a stand-still agreement with Pakistan and and India. However, Pakistan violated this agreement and started invading Kashmir. In anger, Hari Singh joined India. This decision was not taken by a plebiscite and therefore it was not accepted favourably by the people.
The first general elections took place in Kashmir in 1962. Though the AJKNC was more popular than the AJKMC, the latter won 16 out of the 21 seats as only 8% of the population was eligible to vote. The AJKNC unequivocally boycotted the elections.
The 1967 elections were believed to be the first fair elections with the AJKNC winning all the seats.
However, there were many problems that had been going on. In 1953, Sheikh Abdullah had been arrested as the Congress thought that his ideas were anti-India. This was a serious blow to the AJKNC.
In the elections during the 1970s, the AJKNC again won the majority seats while the Congress(I) won only 13.
The Congress wanted to desperately win in the upcoming elections.
There was a defection of 14 members from the AJKNC and the governor Jagmohan immediately dissolved the government without passing the Vote of No-Confidence or without calling the party on the floor to prove its majority. This was considered to be very undemocratic.
Sheikh Abdullah had transferred his power to son Farooq Abdullah rather than his nephew Ghulam Mohammad Shah who was considered to be more competent. In anger, Ghulam Mohammad Shah left the AJKNC and joined the Congress(I). In 1983, the latter won the elections.
However, rifts started appearing between Ghulam Mohammad Shah and the Congress, and even this faction broke.

All these incidents disillusioned the people of Kashmir regarding democracy and led them to believe that human development is possible only if they asserted their Right to Self-Determinism and separated from India.
In addition, the Armed Forces (Protection) Act, 1958 further angered the people of Kashmir. This act was put to effect in Kashmir in 1999. Since then, militant nationalism has been on the rise and in 1989, Kashmir was declared a sensitive zone.
This Right to Self-Determinism existed in the minds of the people of Kashmir even during the reign of Hari Singh because even in those times, there was no human development taking place. However, that time, the struggle was just for the freedom from the autocratic rule of Hari Singh and for democratic rights.
With the incidents that took place in post-Independent India, the people realized that they needed to separate from the Indian nation-state. As long as they remained a part of India, political parties would only want to exercise power and do nothing for human development. Only by breaking away from India could they get rid of the multi-party system and comprise of parties that actually did something to improve human development rather than simply enjoying its position of power.
Today, Kashmir is not fighting to separate from India and to join Pakistan. Kashmir is fighting to be an autonomous state - neither a part of India nor Pakistan.

Manipur - Struggle For Ethnic Identity

In pre-independence India, Assam was the only state in north-eastern India and it was under the rule of the Ahom dynasty. There were many internal struggles in the region as the entire north-east had people belonging to various ethnic groups.
Ethnicity refers to a collection of characteristics such as common lineage, shared history, a common culture and language shared by a group of people.
The Ahom ruler sought the help of the British in curbing the internal strife. The British observed that there were several differences between the hill-people and the plan-people. They decided to keep them separate from one another and in 1873, they introduced the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation which stated that if people from the hills needed to visit the plains. they required an Inner Line Permit
Christianity spread to the hill-people of the north-easy while most of the plain people were Hindus.

After independence, Assam was the only state that existed in the North-east. The other six were autonomous hill-regions that were economically funded by the centre. However, the funding came via Assam and Assam was accused of using large parts of the fund for its own benefit. Assamese was the official language of the entire region and the other ethnic groups did not approve of this cultural hegemony.
In 1964, Nagaland was the first new state to be created in the North-East; followed by the creation of Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura in 1972; Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram were created only in 1987.
There are several grievances common to all states of the North-East today.
They all have grievances with the central government as they feel that the centre extracts all the rich resources (such as oil and tea) from the North-East but the revenue generated is not used for the development of the North-East.
The north-east does not fit anywhere in the railway map of India indicating that it is cut-off from the rest of India; and very difficult to access.
Within each state in the north-easy, there are different tribes who are consistently at logger-heads with one another.
When we look at Manipur, we find that it is essentially comprising three sets of tribes - the Meitis, the Kukis and the Nagas.
The Meitis make up 60-65% of the population in Manipur. They are generally Vaishnavite Hindus and are concentrated in the plain-region. The Kukis and the Nagas accuse the Meitis for exercising a cultural dominance because what is depicted as Manipuri culture and the Manipuri language is essentially the language of the Meitis. This crushes the ethnic identity of the other two tribes.
The Nagas and the Kukis are mainly concentrated in the hill-region and Christianity is the pre-dominant religion. In the hills, the Kukis feel that the Nagar exercise more power and dominance.
Thus we see that the sub-national struggles in Manipur are essentially struggles for the assertion of an ethnic identity as each tribal group strives to maintain its independent identity.


Q. Is it possible for multiple nations to exist within one state?

States are sets of autonomous institutions that have the legitimate right of coercion and extraction within a given territory, and sovereignty in relation to those outside its borders.
Nations may be defined as named populations having a historical territory, shared myths, historic memories, a single economy and economic rights and duties for its people, legitimized by the principles of nationalism.
It is possible for one state to have multiple nations.
The Soviet Union, earlier, was a state with over 100 nations being a part of it.
The United Kingdom is a state made up of multiple nations - Britain, Ireland and Scotland.
Thus we can say that it is possible for one state to have multiple nations as state is more of a political identity whereas nations are mostly defined by cultural and historical differences.


These are just the answers from my mid-sem paper....posting them here...hope it is of some use...I don't have the question paper so I do not know what the question was - just putting the question number...

I. 2.
The untouchables are believed to constitute the bottom-most position of the Hindu social structure, which is dictated by the caste system.
The caste system is based on the concept of purity and pollution, according to Louis Dumont's 'Homo Hierarchichus'. The 'pure' and 'polluting' groups must be kept separate from one another so that ritual purity of certain groups is maintained. The Brahmans are at the top of this hierarchical ladder, followed by the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. Based on Dumont's principle of purity and pollution, the Brahmins are the ideal representation of the 'pure' and the untouchables of the 'polluting'.
There are certain groups who are considered to be permanently polluting owing to their choice of life-style and occupation - these groups are called the 'Untouchables'.
There are many speculations regarding who actually are the untouchables. Since they have no place in the Varna-model, there are a few scholars who believe that the untouchables were probably the Dravidians - since they did not fit in the societal structure created by the Aryans, they became the out-castes or the untouchables.
Other theorists like Dipankar Gupta state that the untouchables were originally members of one of the 'varnas' of the caste system but they were thrown out owing to violation of certain rules such as inter-caste marriage, or inter-dining with members of the low caste.
Though untouchability is a punishable offense, it still continues to be practiced in many parts of the country. It refers to those people who are considered to be so lw that merely by touching them, of if their shadows fall on one, that person will become ritually impure.

II. 2.
There have been several names suggested for referring to the Untouchables, down the years.
In 1933, Mahatma Gandhi selected the term 'Harijan' for the untouchables - this term was selected in the competition conducted by Gandhi for a suitable alternative to the term 'achuta' or 'untouchable'. The term 'Harijan' means 'people of God'. Over time, this term ceased to be popular as it was considered to be rather vague - what exactly was meant by 'people of God' was not clear. The Harijans, themselves, rejected this term, especially the militant groups, as it indicated that they had accepted the fact that they were the bottom-most part of the Hindu caste system.
Another term that is very popular today is 'Dalit' which was suggested by the Marathi Mahar community. As per the Sanskrit dictionary of 1873, the term 'Dalit' means 'broken' or 'fallen'. This term is also not preferred as the areas of Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh do not refer to the untouchables in those areas as 'Dalits'.
The British bureaucratic systems and census operations came up with a number of terms to denote the untouchables - the 'outcastes', 'depressed castes', 'exterior castes'. The final term they came up with was 'Scheduled Castes' and this is how untouchables are known as in the Indian Constitution. This term has legal and political implications but it is not used for referring to the untouchables.
'Ex-untouchables' is the least popular term used for referring to untouchables. While it has legal implications as untouchability is legally banned in India, it is still not very popular because in several parts of India, untouchability is still practiced.
This term 'untouchable' is the most preferred as it can be understood even by those not from India - unlike the terms 'Dalit' or 'Harijan'. Also, the word denotes the kind of treatment meted out to the untouchables and therefore, has a very practical implication.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Methods Of Job Analysis

1. QUESTIONNAIRE: This method is usually used to obtain information about occupations via a mail survey. The job incumbent is asked to provide data about himself/herself and his/her job in their own words. The method is good for people who write easily but not so good for collecting data from low-level workers who have little facility for self-expression. It is often time-consuming and a laborious process to analyze the data obtained in this manner.
Two types of questionnaires are used in job analysis: the unstructured questionnaire and the structured questionnaire. In the unstructured or open-end approach, the subject matter experts describe in their own words the components of the job and the tasks performed.
When the structured questionnaire is used, the people being interviewed are provided with descriptions of tasks, operations and working conditions and are asked to rate the items or to select those items that characterize the job.
A widely used questionnaire is the Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ).
Job analysis questionnaires can be administered online as well as in printed versions.

2. CHECK-LIST: This technique requires the workers to check the tasks he performs from a long list of possible task statements. However, in order to prepare the check-list, extensive preliminary work is required in collecting appropriate task statements. While Check-Lists are easy for the incumbent to respond to, they do not provide an integrated picture of the job in question. They are easily administered in large groups and are easy to tabulate.

3. INTERVIEW METHOD: The use of interviews for job and work analyses involve extensive meetings with the persons directly connected with the job. These include the workers performing the job, their supervisors and the instructors who trained the workers for the job. Job analysts may supplement interviews with questionnaires. The person being interviewed must be told the purpose of the interview and why it is necessary to answer all questions fully and honestly. The questions should be carefully planned and clearly worded to elicit as much information as possible.

4. OBSERVATION METHOD: This method involves direct observation of workers as they perform their jobs. The interviewer must collect data from the incumbent using normal interview methods as the incumbent performs his work. The interviewer observes and questions the worker in an attempt to get complete job description data. It is a slow and costly method and it may interfere with normal work operations. However, it generally produces a good and complete job description.

5. TECHNICAL CONFERENCE METHOD: This method uses 'experts' rather than actual job incumbents as a source of information. These experts are usually supervisors who have extensive knowledge of the job in question. They meet with the job analyst and try specifying all the characteristics of the job. The problem with this method is that experts may not actually know as much about the job as an analyst would hope as they do not actually perform the task themselves. Thus their judgements are only estimates based on their background experience.

6. DIARY METHOD: Here, job incumbents are asked to record their daily activities each day in a logbook or diary. The method is good as it systematically gathers a lot of information but it is time-consuming for the worker, especially if the recording forms are not kept simple.

7. WORK PARTICIPATION METHOD: In this procedure, the job analyst actually performs the job himself in order to gain first-hand information about what characteristics comprise the job in question. It is fairly effective for simply jobs but complex jobs usually require the analysts to be extensively trained prior to the session of work activity. This method is costly and time-consuming

8. CRITICAL INCIDENT METHOD: It is a means of identifying specific activities or behaviours that lead to desirable or undesirable consequences on the job.

Friday, October 2, 2009

OVERVIEW: Is There An Indian Way Of Thinking? An Informal Essay

In the FIRST SECTION of this essay, A.K. RAMANUJAN puts forth some questions and tries answering them by emphasizing on specific aspects of the question.
He asks Is there an Indian way of thinking? The answer to this question is: there was an Indian way of thinking but it does not exist now. The Indian way of thinking can be located in the upper-caste, Brahmanical section of the society - in the Vedas and other religious texts, or when one goes to the 'pundits'. However, since our thinking is still largely shaped as per the Vedas, it would not be completely wrong to say that there still is an Indian way of thinking that exists.
The second question he asks is: Is there an Indian way of thinking? He says that there has always been the existence of Great Tradition and Little Tradition. In India, we celebrate diversities and highlight these differences. Therefore, a single Indian way of thinking does not exist.
The third question is: Is there an Indian way of thinking? India is nothing but a product of the influences of external cultures, languages, religions and social evolutions - therefore, one might say that what we see in India is nothing unique to India. However, India is capable of adapting to the changes and accommodating these external influences into its culture...
The last question he asks is: Is there an Indian way of thinking? Ramanujan says that it is the West that is capable of thought. The West is projected as materialistic and rational. In India, logic is rationalized with religion and superstitions. In India, actions are projected, not the thoughts behind those actions.

Thus in the 1st part of his essay, Ramanujan states how India is perceived differently at different stages by different people and from different perspectives.

In the second part of the essay, the inconsistency between tradition and modernity is depicted with an example from Ramanujan's personal experience. He gives the example of his father to show how India can be ancient yet modern at the same time. For Ramanujan, consistency means strict adherence to only one - either religion or science.
Ramanujan's father was a South Indian Brahman.
  • While he wore dhotis in traditional brahman style, he also wore English jackets over his dhotis.
  • He wore tartan-patterned socks and leather shoes when he went to the university but removed them before entering the inner quarters of the house.
  • He was a mathematician and an astronomer + a Sanskrit scholar and an expert astrologer.
  • He had American and English mathematicians visiting him along with the local pundits and astrologers.
  • While he read the Bhagvad Gita religiously every morning after taking a bath, he would talk about Russell and Ingersoll also with the same amount of passion.
Ramanujan could not figure out such an inconsistency - his father appeared to neither think nor care about any sort of consistency.

In the third part of the essay, Ramanujan interrogates the concept of inconsistency in a larger context - and does not just limit it to his father. He talks of the concept of 'karma' and that of 'talaividi'. Karma implies the self's past as determining the present and future - it is an 'iron chain' of cause and effect. Karmic philosophy is written. Talaividi or 'head writing' focuses on destiny and it is a part of oral tradition.
The Western construction of the Orient (India) is that we are yet to develop the notion of 'data' or 'objective facts'. According to Sudhir Kakar, in the oriental world, there is no clear difference between self and non-self - this brings about inconsistency. India is not influenced by Newstonian thoughts according to Kissinger. In India, there is no concept of the universal. The Indian way of thinking lacks universality; it is a traditional society constituting of inconsistency and hypocrisy. Since the society is tradition in nature, the approach towards the entire society is not secular. According to Zimmer, Indians can imagine a time in history without man. West cannot do that as it is egoistic in nature.
While the west has universality, in India there are subjective positions. The understanding of reality in India is always context-sensitive and not context-free. In India, even the perception of truth is not a universal concept. In the West 'man shall not kill' is a universal statement but in India, punishments are meted out owing to a person's social status. Even in the Manusmriti, we find that moral codes need not be adhered to under all circumstances.

In the fourth part of the essay, Ramanujan examines how context-sensitivity is an important part of Indian culture.
In India, all additions are in fact a subtraction from any universal law. Stories get their context with reference to the frame in which they have been placed. Indian texts are historically dateless, but their contexts, uses and efficacies are explicit Even when we look at Ramayana and Mahabharata, we find that there are several episodes - each story is encased in a meta-story. And within the text, one story is the context for another within it - the outer-frame story as well as the inner sub-story provide relevant contexts for the other's existence. Aristotle's theory of unity of time, place and action cannot be applied to our narratives.
The way we divide time in India is also very different from the way it is done in the West. We have times that are auspicious, inauspicious (rahu kala), and the past and present seem to merge together. Even our houses have moods (vastu shastra).
Indians are prone to blame their wrong-doings on fate, vaastu and it is not possible for us to remove this context-sensitivity. It is latent in our society.
With modernity, we are widening our context in the way we want to rather than doing away with all the traditional practises. It is as a result of this that the original context seems to be lost.

Ramanujan says that all societies have context-sensitive behaviour and rules but the dominant idea is always context-free. In the fifth part of the essay, he observes that socieities that are context-free have movements which are context-specific in nature whereas in societies like India, which are context-sensitive, there is a dream to be free of context - this gives rise to the concept of 'rasa' in aesthetics, 'moksha' in the aims of life and 'sanyasa' in the end of life-stages.

In the last part of the essay, Ramanujan states how we have moved towards context-free situations in India. He says that with modernization, there has been a movement from context-sensitive to context-free at least in principle. Today, people can listen to any raga at any time rather than strictly sticking to the time prescribed. The new thoughts and behaviours borrowed from the West do not replace the old religious ideas. They get incorporated with the existing tradition. In 'Ayudhapuja', even computers and type-writers are worshiped instead of weapons. Therefore, no matter how hard we try to move to become a context-free society, the result is that the context-free nature ends up becoming yet another context i.e. the 'modern' context.