Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hundred years of OUP in India

It was a discreet gathering of publishers and authors,at the Taj Hotel, Ishwar Ahluwalia (self proclaimed ambassador of the relics from the world bank strata in Delhi's intellecual glitterati) deciding where people would sit, since the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was arriving to honour the centenary of the Oxford University Press in India.The politics of seating is ultimately the most interesting dimension of order and hierarchy.
The Prime Minister's speech was interesting, because he promises Libraries all over the country, and the idea very clearly communicated by him was that the knowledge of the natural person will be respected. So, craft communities and farmers, where an entire knowledge archive rests, should receive respect along with the feeding into BPOs and sweat shops of Indian labour, skilled as the new resource of our youthful population.This essentially means that if the redistributive ethic is in place, we should be moving from literacy to readership!
However, as I returned to JNU, I saw brawls among the city's poor: the new face of Delhi where the impoverishment of the slums is shocking citizens beyond measure. No highway, no mosaic art work for the common wealth games can hide the real face of India.Its a Dickensian world, and no amount of Malthusian speech that "the wages of the poor have gone up, but the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing" can hide hunger and the ravages of pensionless poor people. Why count the rise in wages of the working class,without looking at inflation side by side.
One of the interesting things that Hannah Arendt taught us was not to bypass commonsense in the understanding of the world. What is amazing that while the chandelier classes use up more and more electricity, it is left to the fisherpeople to protect the sea from which all life once originated if the unicelled theory of origins is to be believed. What nuclear energy will provide with instant gratification, the greens movement will displace with its fervour of belief in the future as a possibility. The fisher people took to digital technology fast enough in tarpaulin sheds after the Tsunami, but saying No to Nuclear energy will need much more support than we imagine. Germany has been very quick on vetoing nuclear energy, the French were quick to veto biotech agriculture, what Indian pacifists have in mind, I wonder.

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