Reflections on India, useful for Argentines

Alberto Benegas Lynch (h)

INFOBAE – You have to be extremely careful with stereotypes since there is a mania of grouping everyone who lives within certain geographic borders and treating them as if there were no differences. In the case that concerns us, the misunderstanding is further aggravated because fourteen main languages ​​and two hundred secondary languages ​​coexist in India, three basic religions – Buddhism, Muslims and Hinduism, which, in turn, is subdivided into monotheists, polytheists and pantheists – at the same time that the ethnic groups and their ramifications are many in their one thousand one hundred million inhabitants.

As is known, Western culture was born with values ​​and ethical principles in ancient Greece to which the Roman legal concept and English common law were annexed with milestones and reference points supported by freedom to which, in an evolutionary and of discovery, different liberal thinkers from very different latitudes contributed. The application of this conceptual scaffolding resulted in a marvelous and remarkable progress, including the radical improvement in the living conditions of the masses. But here we are that with the passage of time, there are not a few who forgot or denied their origin and considered that progress is automatic, which means that priorities were altered and all the attention was focused on the material and left aside the guiding principles of the spirit. Thus, the compass was largely lost and the West sold its soul.

On the other hand, in the place (subcontinent) that we have called India since time immemorial, many are those who cultivate the spirit, give priority to inner peace, the search for meaning and contact with the transcendent, but unfortunately, to a large extent, they have been indifferent to social systems that allow reciprocal respect and, ultimately, those that give room to the inner life not only because of the possibility of attending to the bodily needs but also the space for contemplative life and meditation without frights or anguish everyday. The correlation between spiritual life and material progress is what characterized the West, the split of both aspects hinders the free development of people. The important thing is to understand and always keep in mind that everything depends on values ​​and principles.

In any case, the first characteristic referred to regarding the concern and occupation with the food of the soul has attracted and draws the attention of not a few Westerners, some with seriousness and responsibility, others for surface tourist snobbery – who only know about the Taj Mahal , that cows are sacred and that there are those who bathe in the Ganges with the idea of ​​purifying themselves – and also those who call for the need to renounce everything material as a shell to rant against the Western way of life about which never they understood its philosophical foundations and thus sponsor various modes of collectivism and socialism. Now there are some demonstrations that react against this cave climate.

In India, heavily authoritarian and bureaucratic systems take place (remember that a bureaucrat is “one who finds a problem with every solution”) and they were based on its close connection with the Soviet Union since its independence as an English colony (until the collapse of the Wall of Shame) and the influence of the Fabian Society, especially Harold Laski and the Poles Oskar Lange and Michael Kalecki with the logistical support of millionaire sums provided by international organizations financed mainly by American taxpayers, all of which has made that land will be populated with beggars, extreme misery, unheard of illiteracy and dreadful pests.

Since always, and certainly before the emergence of the East India Company -with its monopolies and privileges granted by the English crown-, the caste system made impossible the much-needed rise and fall in the social pyramid. This is precisely what caught the attention of Alexis de Tocqueville, who left a hundred pages with critical annotations for his projected third book that, due to his premature death from tuberculosis, unfortunately he could never execute on that millennial country.

In the last decade there have been some timid openings that give spaces in the middle of the suffocating structure imposed by the always thirsty Leviathan installed in New Delhi that manages the twenty-eight states at will with the appearance of a bicameral parliamentary system influenced by the Englishmen in their long forced stay, which is fueled by the underground economy which, especially in the area of ​​services, gives hope for the future and has enabled some marked achievements in the present. This openness is mainly due to the work of seven renowned economists: Bellikoth Shenoy and his daughter Sudha Shenoy, Peter Bauer, Milton Friedman, Mahesh Bhatt, Deepak Lal and Sauvik Chakraverti. The latter author, in his preface to the Indian edition of Samuel Smiles’s work (Self-Help) writes in 2001 from New Delhi: “This book was written in 1840 by a man who argued that the greatest of philanthropy lies in educating people how to make efforts themselves to improve their condition […], we realize that free trade and not state controls are the way to prosperity, especially for the poor […] This book constitutes a clear demolition of the thesis that the Third World will not develop without state education […], state education (which is propaganda, damaging to the mind) and a closed economy – Amartya Sen’s advice – is a recipe for disaster.

What has been said above confirms that there are famous philosophers who have not bothered to study aspects related to coexistence in society, with which they end up condemning precisely the systems that establish the indispensable reciprocal respect and open the doors for material progress for those who want to enjoy it. In this way, also the spiritual wealth itself is amputated since the ignorance of vital issues translates into misery for others since, in fact, they allow the planners of other people’s lives to wield all-encompassing power. It is the case of highlighting notable Indian thinkers such as Radhakrishnan, Tagore and Krishnamurti who largely write in the direction of the open society.

The first of the aforementioned authors eloquently points out in “The Spirit of Man” -which appears published together with thirteen other diverse authors in the succulent work Contemporary Indian Philosophy (The Macmillan Company, 1936) – that “the present chaos in the world is it is directly linked to the disorder in our minds […] Modern science has great faith in verifiable facts and tangible results. Everything that cannot be measured and calculated is unreal. The whispers that come from the depths of the soul are discarded as antiscientific fantasies […] To satisfy the destinies of nations they are turned into military machines and human beings are used as tools. Leaders are not content with governing human bodies, they must subdue their minds […] An abnormal moral and mental tension arises when free thought is replaced by servile obedience, moral progress by moral quietism, sense of humanity by arrogance […] The denial of the divine in man results in the disease of the soul […] With a great weight and tired of his loneliness, man is prepared to accept any authority […] The uncertainty between dogmatic faith and unbelief is due to the non-existence of a philosophical tradition or habit of mind ”.

Tagore, who has produced so many valuable essays, writes a novel that constitutes a hymn to the catastrophes of nationalism (The soul and the world) where he says: “They cannot love men as they do men, but they need to cry out and deify his country. Wanting to give our passions a higher place than the truth is a sign of servility. We feel lost as soon as our spirits are truly free. Our dying vitality needs fantasy or some compelling authority. As long as we are refractory to the truth and sensitive only to artificial stimuli, we are, let us know well, incapable of governing ourselves ”.

Krishnamurti, in The First and Last Freedom with a preface by the great Aldous Huxley, argues that “the problem most of us face is whether the individual is a mere instrument of society or whether he is the end of society. Are you and I, as individuals, to be used, directed, educated, controlled, shaped according to a certain mold, by society, by the government, or does society, the State, exist for the individual? Is the individual the end of society, or is he just a puppet to be taught, exploited, sent to the slaughterhouse as an instrument of war? That is the problem that most of us face. That is the problem of the world: that of knowing if the individual is a mere instrument of society, a toy of influences that has to be molded, or if society exists for the individual ”.

Finally, when referring to India, Mahatma Gandhi cannot be ignored, for which there is nothing better than to resort to the revealing and well-documented essay by Arthur Koesler published in the Sunday Times (October 5, 1969) on the occasion of the commemoration of the centenary of the Gandhi’s birth. Koestler points out that Gandhi pushed India back due to his xenophobic nationalism, which he illustrated with the insistence on burning foreign genres (“I consider it a sin to wear foreign cloth,” he wrote) and fighting industrialization (he noted that “the spinning wheel is the breath of life ”). Koestler concludes that Gandhi “passionately denounced the culture of the West” who with superlative arrogance stated that “India, as so many writers have shown, has nothing to learn from anyone.” Likewise, Arthur Koestler remarks that Gandhi undertook it against education so he did not send his own children to study but he himself notes: “All my children have complained about me in this regard. Every time they meet a graduate or postgraduate, or even a student, they seem to feel disadvantaged by not having had a school education ”- all of which did not prevent him from appointing the totalitarian Jawaharlal Nehru who was a Cambridge graduate as his political successor. .

Despite all these contradictions, it is necessary to highlight the enormous contribution of Mahatma Gandhi in terms of peaceful civil resistance, which has been imitated by so many defenders of rights trampled on by state apparatuses, with the exception that Arthur Koestler marks, that is, always and when faced with systems with a remnant of conscience since it is “a noble game that could only be played against an adversary who accepted certain rules of common decency established in a long tradition; in the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany it would amount to mass suicide ”.

Guy Sorman in The Genius of India sums up well the spirit that floats in those mysterious lands where a lot of inner richness coexists in which he underlines “Indian spirituality” in which “the soul points to something more” than what is seen in matter with “a country oppressed by the weight of its bureaucracy.”

In summary, regarding the central theme of this note, what is usually considered an enigma in India that seems to want to be deciphered from time to time is nothing more than the wisdom of those who search within their spirit for the comforting light of peace and plenitude, but, as we have emphasized, this in no way can mean the rejection of material progress, much less the imposition of systems that stifle creativity and comfortable life for those who wish to take advantage of it, as long as it is not lost sight of the prevalence of values ​​and principles of decency and consideration for others.