Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Practising Intellectualism: "Ism that emerged from household works"

Last one month, it has been a very different experience for me. I have never stayed out of office environment owing to sick leave. Although the leave has not been able to put me out of work in terms of reading, writing. But as people say, every phase of life presents a magic. In bits and pieces many times I have realised that magic - The magic of emergence of intellectualities from household work.

For understanding that it is actually not necessary to always read selected readings of Immanuel Kant which mentions the notion of synthesis of information to produce knowledge. And that knowledge can come through practice only. Kant says that but I realised it through various household works of boiling milk, eggs, cooking vegetables, khichuri, egg curry. In many of these attempts sometimes I have failed but overall this last one month practice of fulfilling household duties of cooking, cleaning and arranging household materials have taught me how much intellect is ingrained in every day to day work. In our households across the Indian society, so many people mostly women are doing all these with such a precision. Every moment when I have messed up the gasoven surface with spillovers from pressure cooker while cooking khichuri have felt that how brilliant practising intellectuals are spread across in the Indian society who are dedicatedly exhibiting their practising intellect. Whenever this thought has come up on mind I have found a similarity of the same in another personality - "Sachin Tendulkar" an epitome of simplicity and a practising intellectual who through 21 years by his childish aspiration exhibiting to all of us the intellect by incessant practising.

This brings me to the question - "Who is an intellectual" - I never understood the real meaning of the word and also cant trust often the dictionary meaning of this word. This last one month has told me that in every house around us there are more than one practising intellectuals whose services and intellectual contribution are not valued or undervalued. For instance isnt a housewife who can tell that before cooking one should check whether there is moisture in the lid and one should clear it through blowing air is equally an intellectual like any other scientist?

I guess so and more importantly when they are able to do that so consistently it really demands much more sense of appreciation. I was actually feeling to write a counter point while reading the synthesis of knowledge sections of Kant from his selected readings. Parallely, was also thinking in today's context what if Kantian discourse is put forward by all the practising intellectuals who are all around us in every household.

It is not far when some day a book will be published like - "Selected Readings of Kantian Discourse - by practising intellectuals of households". I look forward to read that book and learn more about the magical aspects of practising intellectualism.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Few weeks back a sensitive peace appeal in a popular newspaper for maintaining harmony across communities following the Ayodhya verdict caught the eye while doing a rough glance through the newspaper. The appeal covered more than half of the newspage and at the same time it was inspiring to see our government taking a proactive step to apply the form of media to maintain harmony. As a nation we are not in a situation to repeat the mistakes that we made during Babri Masjid , Godhra Incident specifically when our strength lies in our diversity and the dynamism inflicted on all of us through that diversity. Also today our priorities are to ensure a developmental pathway that balances the needs of the marginal groups, deprived sections of the Indian society. This has to be done with a minimal impact and footprint on the gifts and resources of nature and our people, culture. However this article will be taking a different pathway from this stage onwards.

The Ayodhya verdict was out yesterday on 30th September, 2010 and news channels were full with discussions, debates, expectation on the probable results of the verdict. There was inquisitiveness and sensitivity all around regarding the verdict. I had to go to a doctor’s clinic for a weekly visit and check ups. All through out, the auto driver was asking me about whether any incident happened or not. Just to understand the person who was driving the vehicle, I asked him what is his view point about what should be the verdict (as it was still thirty minutes before the verdict would be out) and I got an interesting answer.

The person told me that for him the results of the verdict are not so important, as for him a larger priority is driving and that helps him to live together with many other friends in the same profession from different communities.

As soon as he said this, I found out Immanuel Kant in him. Yes, the person in the auto yesterday reminded me of the works of Kant in his “Critique of Judgement” where Kant was trying to deal with the gulf between the application of reason and its practical application in the moral faith in God. This person bridged it so easily. He showed me how religion which is a way of living life can be attained by following the working principles, objectivities of working for a noble cause of an economic activity – viz. servicing passengers and earning from that followed by a tolerant, all encompassing way of living along with other communities. Similar achievement can also be made by so many of us by following our working principles, objectivities of creating new disciplines, outputs bridging the gaps between our sense of reasoning, tolerance, sense of creating harmony and practical application of our belief structures regarding faith in any religion. In order to do that we need to introspect and whenever, wherever required revise the fundamental tenets of the belief structures, reasoning sense to create larger social harmony. Kant had aimed to do this revision through his writings in the “Critique of Judgement” by questioning himself and was also open to listen to relatively more radical (in comparison to Kant) followers like Hegel, Fichte.
On similar lines, we as a nation in 2010 need to revise the fundamental tenets of the belief structures that led to the sufferings following Babri Masjid, Godhra Incident.
This could be one of the ways to help in attaining in enlightenment. On the note of enlightenment, Immanuel Kant also guides us through his works on “What is Enlightenment”?. Kantian enlightenment principles teaches us that all individuals have the responsibility to think freely about religious matters going much beyond the claustrophobia created by religious orthodoxies. In doing that reasoning should be applied that can create goodwill across communities and allow harmony to prevail.
But while following that pathway of freedom, we as human beings are often in a state of competitive conflict between our emotions, passions, instincts and the rationality that tells us to give equal dignity to all human beings. We as human beings have to live with this dualistic, contradictory, conflictual limitations of us and can only get an enlightenment by focusing more on the second dimension of rationality (guiding exchange of human dignities, respect) but at the same time recognizing the conflictual nature. Freedom to think this way and identify the aspects of our emotions and rationality has to be directed to create a channel for human actions that are harmonious and tolerant. Kant tried to do it through his innumerable writings. But in today’s context we also see it happening. For me, a researcher, scientist does it when they come up with innovative work through partnerships with people belonging to other communities, nations that help the society and human beings. Artists achieve it when they struck a harmonious chord together on a stage show in cross country projects. Sports does it when we see 11 footballers from various communities, nations playing together in football clubs and performing their tasks together for the welfare of a football club. Isnt it that all these cited examples are examples of “Enlightenment”. I think, we all can see enlightened souls who are moving all around us in day to day life. We need to have that eye to see through the enlightened part of a human soul.
Kant tried his best to attain that through his writings from 1740 – 1804 and continuous questioning of the systems that guide our reasoning, belief structures. On 30th September, 2010, I learnt about all those works again with the help of a person during the visit to a clinic in an auto drive.