Sunday 1 February 2009

TED.com talks - Conservatives and Liberals

I have become a huge fan of www.TED.com of late.

See this video by Jonathan Haidt who studies how -- and why -- we evolved to be moral. By understanding more about our moral roots, his hope is that we can learn to be civil and understanding of those whose morals don't match ours, but who are equally good and moral people on their own terms.

This particular talk is about the difference between Liberals and Conservatives.



What is the relevance for Indian polity - specially right of center ?

Consider following points : Traditionally Indian society has been very very liberal. If we look at how Buddhism spread and kind of uprooted the traditional Hinduism from the land and how Adi Shankaracharya reinstated Hinduism as the prominent religion, it was all and all through convincing and logic. So, in round one Buddhism spread because it became more appealing - partly because the practised Hinduism had become too ornate and irrelevant - which can happen only in a liberal society - so a thinker comes and gives his interpretation of how things ought to be and WOW Buddhism is born.

And to counter that we get another Super Sized intellectual and doer - Aadi Shankaracharya. Before he dies at the age of 32, he walks from his birth place in north Kerela to transverse entire India, reforming society, giving his vision and WOW - Hinduism comes back.

The beauty about this entire episode - which by the way happenned over a couple of centuries, is that neither tried to wipe out the other idea by sword.

So, let me tell you a story about Hemu's father. Hemu was the last Hindu king in North India. He lost the second battle of Panipat in 1556 to Akbar.

Hemu's old father is captured and brought to Akbar. And inspite of whatever bull shit you saw in Jodha Akbar, the fact of matter (as recorded in Akbar nama) is that Hemu's father is asked to convert to Islam.

It went like this:

Bairam Khan (Akbar's guardian): You must convert to Islam

Hemu's father: But Why ? I have not read your ideology and I do not feel the need to change mine

Bairam Khan (Akbar's guardian): You must convert to Islam or you will get killed

Hemu's father: So, should I let go of my beliefs simply out of fear of death?

So, Bairam Khan get Akbar to slaughter Hemu's ~ 70 year old father by cutting off the neck of this man whose hand and feet are tied and Akbar becomes Ghazi.

The amazing part of this conversation is that Hemu's father is not saying that he is closed to another idea or philosophy. What he is saying is that he will not do this out of fear.

We see similar behaviour in treatment of Arab traders who came to Kerela coast. They married local women and were given the name Mopalahs (or son-in-law).

In fact show me another society that is so open and liberal in accepting other's beliefs.

So, what is driving the Hindu anger ? What is getting the Pramod Muthalik's of the world to go and destroy pubs - unless it is an individuals drive to get his 15 minutes of (in)fame ?

Let me ruminate over that in another post. Till then enjoy the amazing video on morals that separate liberals and conservatives.

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