In the extent to which societies are governed by rule or person, in traditional societies based on agriculture, personal factors counts for almost everything. People are able to take finer personal distinctions in their businesses and other day-to-day work. In these societies, personal links can be used (or misused) for practically any purpose; and a … Continue reading Rule and Person
Few days ago, I read a newspaper story. On suspecting that bridegrooms is illiterate, the bride put him under an arithmetic test: "how much is 15 + 6?". And when the answer given was 17, she called off the marriage. A few childhood memories popped up. When I was a kid, my father asked me … Continue reading Arithmetic and marriage
There have been disagreement on what constitutes the basis of Indian society: caste or class. Both caste and class are extremely important in our collective social life. But a large part of our private lives is governed neither by caste or class but faction. Factions are easily noticeable in the domain of politics: they are … Continue reading Attraction of factions
The media coverage of the death of Nelson Mandela and retirement of Sachin Tendulkar brought back the memory of an old essay written 'on charisma' by German sociologist Max Weber. I asked a German colleague how many charismatic personalities he knows in politics in his country. He responded somewhat indirectly, "There are some, but usually … Continue reading Do we really need ‘strong’ leaders?
One of our national dailies reports that Madras High court has ordered a CBI inquiry into what is a quintessential internal affair of IIT Madras, namely the process of appointing faculty . The process of selecting students and appointing faculty are vital to any university health and must be a prerogative of the university. It … Continue reading Judicial activism
Social life in India is marked by subordination of individual to the group. This is not to say that Indian society knows 'anything of individuals' but the claims of group often prevail of claim of an individual . Family, being a universal social group, is a good candidate for comparison and contrast. An Indian family … Continue reading Caste and other ‘branded for life’ thingy
A growing tendency in India is to attack secularism, covertly and indirectly. The attack on secularism is somewhat similar to the attack on equality. They maintain since we can not define secularism (like equality) in a strict sense, it will be good if we stop using the term altogether, at least to avoid the intellectual … Continue reading In praise of : Secularism