Tag: <span>India</span>

China-India Frontier Appeals

Track Two Efforts Needed to Reduce China-India Frontier Tensions.

Featured Image: Arunachal Pradesh – India. Photo by Unexplored NortheastUnsplash.

There has been a constant buildup of military forces by the governments of both India and China along their common frontiers.  The Indian provence of Arunachal Pradesh (called Zangman by the Chinese) with Itanagar as its capital is claimed by the Chinese.  The frontier was drawn in 1914 and is called the McMahon Line. The frontier dispute led to the October-November 1962 China-India armed conflict with important consequences especially for Indian foreign-policy making.

    In recent years there have been flashes of tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the military of both China and India have built new roads and observation posts along the LAC. Such tensions could grow as the relative political power of India and China grows and takes the form of a struggle for power.  Currently there are no public negotiations between the Chinese and Indian governments. India, this year, is the chair of the G20 grouping of states.  The Indian government has organized a number of G20 seminars on different issues in a number of Indian cities.  However, for the moment, China has not sent representatives to these seminars.

Group photo of the G20 leaders during the 2021 meeting. By Casa Rosada (Argentina Presidency of the Nation), CC BY 2.5 AR https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/ar/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Track Two.

    The Association of World Citizens has expressed its active concern with these tensions on the China-India frontier and the possibilty that the tensions will increase.  With the lack of formal China-India negotiations, the Association of World Citizens raises the possibility of strong Track Two discussions.

    The term Track Two was coined by the U.S. diplomat Joseph Montville in his book The Arrow and the Olive Branch.  Track Two discussions are organized by non-governmental organizations often with the help of academic institutions.  Track Two discussions among non-officials of conflicting parties aim to clarify outstanding disputes and see on what issues negotiations might progress.

    As Adam Curle, experienced in Quaker mediation efforts has written:

“In general, governments achieve their results because they have power to influence events, including the ability to reward or to punish.  Paradoxically, the strength of civilian peacemaking resides specifically in their lack of power.  They are neither feared nor courted for what they can do.  Instead, they are trusted and so may sometimes be enabled to play a part in peacemaking denied to more official diplomats.”

     Thus, it will be important to follow as closely as possible the results of  the G20 seminars in India and then build upon them in a Track Two pattern. Concerning the China-India frontier issues, both governments must be convinced that there is a considerable desire for peace among their citizens.  There is also a need for some involved in Track Two efforts to hve an integrated perspective of peacebuilding techniques and a long-term view of possibilities for transforming political relations.

  René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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Piaget's Project Appeals

Completing Piaget’s Project. Transpersonal Philosophy and the Future of…

Featured Image Jean Piaget By Roland Zumbühl of Picswiss as part of a cooperation project. Wikimedia Commons.

Edward J. Dale. Completing Piaget’s Project. Transpersonal Philosophy and the Future of Psychology.

(St.Paul, MN: Paragon House Publishers, 2014)

Edward J. Dale has written a very useful overview of the intellectual currents in trans-personal psychology;  a broad field in which different practitioners use different terms for roughly the same approach:  Robert Assagioli – psychosynthesis, Ken Wilber – integral consciousness, Abraham Maslow – the farther reaches of human nature, Marilyn Ferguson – the Aquarian conspiracy. Dale provides an extensive bibliography of authors.

Therefore; there are at least two journals which specialize in trans-personal research:  Journal of Humanistic Psychology, founded in 1961 and the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology founded in 1969.

Roberto Assagioli

 Photo of Roberto Assaglioli, M.D. – Taken from the book ‘ Psychosynthesis (1965) By U3195247, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Roberto Assagioli: The Will as a Road to the Higher Self.

Psychoactive Substances.

All the trans-personal authors hold that it is very likely that the ability to develop trans-personal capacities is universal;  under the right developmental conditions. However, these trans-personal characteristics have been developed in many societies and are found in shamanism, in induced trance states, in contemplative prayer-meditation, in the use of natural psychoactive substances; and in more recent times in the use of LSD in psychedelic research.

Nevertheless; there is a possibility of a rapid and widespread emergence of trans-personal consciousness in the near future;  as an increasing number of people undertake spiritual practices of meditation, tantra, Zen, kundalini and other self-development techniques.

Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber. By Kanzeon Zen Center, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Trans-Personal Psychology.

There are basically three avenues leading to current trans-personal psychology. 

The first is a development growing out of therapeutic work. Assagioli began in the Freudian mode;  being the first translator of Freud’s writings into Italian. His work with clients showed that there were deeper aspects of the personality than Freud had stressed;  and thus a need to find therapeutic techniques,  which reached these deeper layers.  Much the same holds true for Abraham Maslow.

A second avenue has been from that of academic research and experimentation;  such as the work of Stanislav Grof, author of The stormy search for the self.

The third avenue  has been the presence of Asian teachers of meditation;  who came to Europe and the USA: the Tibetans after the 1959 flight from Tibet;  and the voluntary departure from India of yoga teachers and from Japan for Zen.

Stanislav Grof

 Stanislav Grof, psychologist and psychiatrist. By Anton Nosik, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Completing Piaget’s Project.

The value of Dale’s book is in its subtitle Transpersonal Philosophy and the Future of Psychology.  What can be confusing to readers is the title of the book Completing Piaget’s Project. Dale draws on an extended poem La mission de l’Idee;  written when Piaget was 19 and published in the French-speaking Swiss Protestant youth journal;  and his only novel Recherche;  written when he was 20 and trying to organize ideas from his college studies; his wide reading and his personal experiences of psychic events and their impact on his body. 

The poem and the novel do have trans-personal elements;  as well as reflecting debates going on at the time in the Swiss Protestant churches;  between more liberal and conservative currents. However; Piaget’s “project” linked to the creation of the League of Nations; and carried out from the 1920s in Geneva is not analyzed.

 

The League of Nations.

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was born and educated in the French-speaking canton of Neuchatel.  He was a brilliant student;  and at an early age started writing articles for nature and wildlife journals.  He became active in the Young Socialists League and a militant for peace. He was influenced by the destructive violence of the 1914-1918 war.  Many children from France were sent to Neuchatel to take them out of harms way.

At the end of his university studies in Neuchatel;  he went to Paris to work with Alfred Binet on the early IQ tests to measure intelligence. After a couple of years;  he returned to Geneva to teach and do research in an institute devoted to education: l’Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Piaget came to Geneva just as the League of Nations was starting at the end of 1922. Piaget hoped as did many others;  that the League would establish a peaceful world society. Piaget’s project was born in the intellectual currents stimulated by the League of Nations.

League of Nations

 Image: Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

A Peaceful World Society.

His project was to build a peaceful world society;  by developing education for peace that aimed at the full development of the person.  This had to begin with the very start of education in primary school;  and strengthened through education in secondary school.

In order to create primary education that would fulfill this aim;  one had to understand how children learn.  Thus,  began his life-long investigation of the sequences of learning – when does awareness of shapes, colors, numbers, relations to others and a moral sense arise.

However; a world at peace could not be created only by having good education in the primary schools of Geneva.  There had to be a world-wide improvement of primary education;  by bringing advanced child-development knowledge to the attention of educators the world over;  in particular to the Ministries of Education;  which had the responsibility for educational policy  and content.

Alfred Binet

Alfredo Benet Junior (July 11, 1857 – October 18, 1911). By Unidentified photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Rockefeller Foundation.

Thus, in the spirit of the League of Nations; Piaget and some of his Geneva colleagues created the International Bureau of Education in 1924;  which Piaget headed for nearly 40 years.  Intellectually, it was related to the League of Nations and brought together;  usually once every two years, the Ministers of Education of the League members to discuss curriculum and teaching methods influenced by research being undertaken. 

The Bureau was largely financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. Since the USA had refused League membership and so did not contribute to the League’s budget;  much of the intellectual efforts of the League were financed by the Rockefeller Foundation including the impressive Library;  which is part of the League’s Palais des Nations.

After the Second World War;  the Bureau continued its work of conferences for Ministers of Education as an independent organization, always with Piaget as director.  In 1964, the Bureau was administratively incorporated into UNESCO but remained in Geneva.

The Same Learning Sequences.

The International Bureau of Education, housed in the Palais Wilson; the original League Secretariat offices, Piaget’s separate office building and the experimental primary school;  that served for observations were just across the street from my office as professor and Director of Research of the Graduate Institute of Development Studies. 

We would often eat or have coffee in the same places. Of course, I knew who Piaget was and would say “hello”, but I interacted with his team of researchers,  who were more my age. They were working on observations in Africa and Asia to see if the same learning sequences that Piaget had observed for Geneva children were true in other cultures as well. Their findings were that the sequences were the same; but the ages at which they took place differed due to child-raising patterns in Africa and Asia.

Institute International_Bureau_of_Education_-_UNESCO

International Bureau of Education – UNESCO @ Le Grand-Saconnex. By Guilhem Vellut from Annecy, France, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Contribution of Education to World Peace.

Piaget’s project of peace through improved primary and secondary school education has not yet been fulfilled.  UNESCO has a major program “Education for Global Citizenship“. The teachers’ manuals for the UNESCO program owe much to Piaget’s research.

While Dale’s book has many interesting elements and is a useful overview of trans-personal efforts. I think that it is a mistake to try to transform Piaget into a forerunner of trans-personal approaches;  and to neglect the heart of Piaget’s project: the contribution of education to world peace.

Transformation of Education

 Image: Image by Ian Ingalula from Pixabay.

Peacebuilding and the Transformation of Education.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

You might to be interesting to read:

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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Simone Panter-Brick - Gandhi Book Reviews

Simone Panter-Brick: Gandhi and Nationalism.

Featured Image: Gandhi spinning at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. By Kanu Gandhi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Path to Indian Independence (London: I.B. Tauris, 2012, 225pp) Simone Panter-Brick.

Simone Panter-Brick had written two earlier books on Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi against Machiavellism: Non-violence in Politics; and Gandhi and the Middle East.

Here, in a book written just before her death; she deals with two key concepts in the thought and action of Gandhi: swaraj and dharma. Swaraj is best translated as self-realization; as in the Self-Realization Fellowship of the Indian teacher; Paramahansa Yogananda in California. “Gandhi and Swaraj” would have been a more accurate title of the book than “Nationalism”; but fewer people would have known what the book was about from such a title. As Panter-Brick points out:

“Swaraj is formed of two Sanskrit words: swa (self) and raj (rule). Thus, it can be construed either as rule over the self – the spiritual assertion of every person – or as self-rule – participation in the political affairs of the nation as citizens fully conscious of their rights and duties. For Gandhi, it was both.”

Dharma.

Dharma is a term used by Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. Buddhists do not normally speak of their own religion as ‘Buddhism’; but usually refer to it as ‘the Dharma’ meaning truth; the law as in the sense of the natural law which sustains the universe.

Dharma in Hinduism also means order in the sense of the law of the universe; immanent but made known to humans through awakening; the basis of moral life. In a narrower sense; dharma means duty – often caste duties or loyalty to the rulers of the country; into which one has been born through the working of karma.

It is in this latter sense – the duties that Gandhi felt to the Empire – that the book develops. The book is especially useful for those of us who try to use spiritual concepts within the political field; where words take on other meanings; and can also be understood by others in different ways than intended.

Paramahansa Yogananda with his book “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Paramahansa Yogananda, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

My life is my message.

The understanding of the ways spiritual concepts are used in political life is made even more complex; in the case of Gandhi in that he was not a thinker in terms of systems; but in terms of action. “My life is my message.” Most of Mahatma Gandhi’s writings were newspaper articles reacting to specific events and letters; often in reply to letters asking specific questions.

Copies of his letters were kept by his secretary, Mahadev Desai; and make up much of the many-volume Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi’s effort at systematic writing; in particular his 1909 Hind Swaraj; was used on the eve of independence against him by those wanting to establish Pakistan saying that Hind; which Gandhi had used as an old name for India really meant Hindu; and that Gandhi saw no place for Muslims in Indian society; and deliberately overlooked any Muslim contribution to Indian civilization.

Gandhi and Mahadev Desai, at Birla House, Mumbai (7 April 1939). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Panter-Brick points out:

“Gandhi’s entry into politics sprang from the firm belief that a citizen has rights and duties, and that he, as an Indian, had a duty to perform. This Indian conception of one’s life task is best expressed in the word dharma or righteous performance of one’s duty in life”.

Born into a family whose function was that of diwan, chief administrator of a princely state; both his family and he saw his dharma as that of a government administrator; probably of a larger state than Porbandar administered by his father. As the princely states were autonomous; but under the control of the British Empire; Gandhi stressed his individual duty to the British Empire. He had lost his caste standing by crossing the sea to study in England – there being a caste prohibition to crossing a large body of water.

Thus; the only dharma he had was a responsibility to the British Empire. However; dharma for Gandhi had to be considered as a self-imposed direction for duty and not imposed by tradition.

Quit India.

Thus in South Africa; he helped to create a medical corps for the English – the 1,100 strong Indian Ambulance Corps – in the 1899-1902 war against the Boers; and again for the government in the 1906 short-lived Zulu Rebellion in Natal.

On his return to India at the start of the First World War; he had tried to recruit Indians to serve in the British Army. He failed in his efforts as individuals; who were not already members of military castes felt no dharmic duties to serve the Empire.

Gandhi’s sense of duty to serve the state of his birth ultimately gave way; when the British Raj was too slow to react favourably to Indian nationalism, granting too little, too late. Moreover; Gandhi was surrounded by Indians in the Indian National Congress; who had never felt any dharmic duty to the British Empire. They wanted to rule India without the British. They had in their hearts the slogan; which they did not use publicly until 1942 “Quit India”

Gandhi’s Vision of Swaraj.

As Judith Brown; another specialist on Gandhi’s thought, writes on the evolution of Gandhi’s vision of swaraj :

“that was to be markedly at odds with the vision of political independence held by most of his colleagues in the Indian National Congress and the country at large. For him, swaraj was not a matter of Indians ejecting the British and stepping into their shoes and seats of power…It was a great enterprise of moral regeneration of a whole people and a transformation of their society, a righting of the wrongs and weaknesses that made colonialism rule possible, and ultimately a transformation of the processes of governance.” (1)

Home Rule.

Gandhi long hoped for Home Rule, Indian independence within what later became the Commonwealth; that is, national government with foreign policy set by consensus of all the member states having a Home Rule status. He had translated into English himself his Hind Swaraj giving the title Indian Home Rule. India had been accepted as a member of the League of Nations although not independent nor having Home Rule status. In fact, the Aga Khan; considered to be an Indian; had been President of the League of Nations Assembly.

For most leaders in the Indian National Congress; it was not foreign policy which mattered but; “who ran things on the ground” in India. The Indian National Congress took advantage of every possibility to extend its control at the local level. Thus; Congress was ready when the Government of India Act was passed in the British Parliament in 1935; to take power through elections set for 1937 down to the provincial level of governance.

Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might read: The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

Create a Political Vacuum.

From 1937 until 1940; Congress controlled the internal affairs of India; gaining experience in administration that would have paved a smooth road for governing the country at Independence in 1947.

However; at the outbreak of the Second World War; the Congress High Command instructed all its provincial governments to resign in protest at the Viceroy’s declaration of war on Germany; without consulting with the people of India. (Hitler; of course, had consulted no one before attacking Poland).

The immediate result was to create a political vacuum; into which Muhammad Ali Jinnah; also a British-educated lawyer and President of the Muslim League; stepped. Jinnah was aware that London badly needed some show of loyalty in its major imperial possession; and presented himself along with a vague concept of “two nations” – one Hindu; the other Muslim and the need for a “Pakistan” for the Muslim population. (2)

 Mohammad Ali Jinnah – Founder and 1st Governor General of Pakistan (1876-1948). By Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Quit India.

Congress formulated a “Quit India” Campaign of immediate independence for India. Japanese troops were in Burma on the frontier of India. Along with the Japanese; there was a fairly strong contingent of Indian soldiers; who had been captured in Europe by the Germans and then sent to Asia to help the Japanese. These Indian troops were led by the Bengali leader Subhas Chandra Bose; who had played an important role in Congress politics and was a close friend of Jawaharlal Nehru. The British took the Quit India Campaign as a sign of treason in wartime and jailed much of the Congress leadership until June 1945 when the war was over in Europe.

The days of the Empire were limited.

With the end of the Second World War; events speeded up. In 1945, 1st Viscount Wavell; who had been military Commander-in-Chief in India during the war was named Viceroy. Wavell knew the situation well enough to understand that the days of the Empire were limited. He called for an interim government that would be based on a combination of Hindu and Muslim leaders: Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, the organizational strong man of Congress at Interior, and Liaquat Ali Khan, Jinnah’s deputy, at Finance.

Photograph, silver Dimensions:Framed: 13 1/4″ x 11″ Description:Black and white portrait photograph of Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru with hand to chinThe photograph is inscribed to President John F. Kennedy.
Historical Note:This photograph was presented to President John F. Kennedy during Prime Minister Nehru’s state visit to the United States on November 9, 1961 in Newport Rhode Island. By White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi was largely on the sidelines as the administrative structures were being decided. As Panter-Brick writes:

“The Mahatma wanted to represent all Indians but not all Indians accepted that claim. He was too democratic for the autocratic princes and their vast estates. He looked too Hindu to the Muslims, too unorthodox to the Brahmins, too anti-class war to the Communists, too pro-landowner for the Socialists, and even in his party, too leftist to the right, too secular to some, too religious to others – and too non-violent to the politicians.”

Thus leadership moved to Jawaharlal Nehru; who also wanted to represent all Indians; but as Congress was over 90 percent Hindu, he was seen as a Hindu spokesman with Ali Jinnah for the Muslims.

Studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi, London, 1931.Elliott & Fry (see [1]), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jawaharlal Nehru.

Jawaharlal Nehru had been brought into Indian politics by his father, Motilal Nehru; an important lawyer and an early Indian Congress leader in the 1890s. Motilal, interested in spirituality; was a member of the Theosophical Society and a close co-worker with the Theosophical President; Annie Besant, and her Home Rule efforts. Motilal felt that his son needed a Western education to be able to play a real role in Indian politics.

Thus; he sent Jawaharlal to be educated in secondary school and university in England. The separation resulted in that Motilal and Jawaharlal had distant father-son relations; and Motilal passed on few of his spiritual interests to his son.

Jawaharlal and Gandhi developed much of a father-son relation; Gandhi serving as the replacement for the distant Motilal and Gandhi; who had bad relations with his own children; saw Jawaharlal as his son and heir.

Annie Besant, half-length portrait, seated, facing slightly right, clad in the style of the Aesthetic Dress movement (1887). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Congress Party.

Jawaharlal Nehru was basically a secular thinker; but who understood the need to make a religious appeal to the Hindu base of the Congress Party. As Nehru wrote:

“Sacralisation of the national movement? I used to be troubled sometimes at the growth of this religious element in our politics, but I know well that there was something else in it, something which supplied a deep inner craving of human beings.”

The “deep inner craving” seemed to express itself by Hindus and Muslims each wanting to govern without the other. Suaraj came to two states; with no spiritual transformation of the leaders. We have had since ‘nationalism’ in its narrowest sense; with wars between India and Pakistan; and the division from Pakistan of East Bengal; become Bangladesh.

Never in South Asian history did so few divide so many, so murderously.

Partition was imposed from above by the British; but no Indian leaders proposed forms of association; which would have provided autonomy without division. Some ideas of an Indian confederation were suggested; but the details had not been worked out. So division seemed to be the only solution. As has been said “Never in South Asian history did so few divide so many, so murderously.” Gandhi boycotted the celebrations of Independence held among riots, massacres and refugee flows. Over a million were killed in a short time; and there were some 18 million refugees and exchanges of population.

Thus; we see the importance of discussing and finding a consensus on the structures of a state. There were no Federalist Papers debates at the time of Indian Independence. Demands for the creation of Pakistan may have been a political move rather than a “final status” demand on the part of Ali Jinnah. Administrative structures may seem dull in contrast to the ideology of political independence; and the righting of social evils. But as Gandhi and Nationalism points out well; without clear understanding of the type of state desired and broadly acceptable; the door was open to religious chauvinists and their simplified divisions.

Notes.

1) See Richard L. Johnson (Ed). Gandhi’s Experiments with Truth (Oxford: Lexington, 2006)
2) For a good biography see Stanley Wolpert Jinnah of Pakistan(Oxford University Press, 1984). Wolpert is also a biographer of Gandhi, see his Gandhi’s Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi (Oxford University Press, 2001)

Rene Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens.  

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Rapprochement of Cultures.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888 – 1975) World Citizen.

Featured Image: Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Former President of India. By White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

If we claim to be civilized, if we love justice, if we cherish mercy, if we are not ashamed to own the reality of the inward light, we must affirm that we are first and foremost Citizens of the World…Our planet has grown too small for parochial patriotism

S. Radhakrishnan, Philosopher and President of India (1962-1967).

The present crisis in human affairs is due to a profound crisis in human consciousness, a lapse from the organic wholeness of life.  Today, there is a crisis of perception, a widespread sense of unease concerning old forms of thinking which require that we must recreate and re-enact a vision of the world based on the elements of reverence, order, and human dignity, without which no society can be held together.”

Philosophic Consciousness.

As Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan pointed out, the next stage of human evolution is in the human psyche:

in his mind and spirit, in the emergencies of a larger understanding and awareness, in the development of a new integration of character adequate to the new age.  When he gains a philosophic consciousness and an intensity of understanding, a profound apprehension of the meaning of the whole, there will result in a more adequate social order which will influence not only individuals but peoples and nations. We have to fight for this order first in our souls, then in the world outside.”

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan repeatedly stressed the close interdependence between the need to recover the visions of the Higher Self in each person and the need to move beyond a narrow, nationalistic view of the world.

The Human Heart and the New World.

If we are to help the present society to grow organically into a world order, we must make it depend on the universal and enduring values which are implanted in the human heart that each individual is sacred, that we are born for love and not hate…We have learned to live peacefully in larger and larger units”.

The concept of a community has grown from a narrow tribal basis to the Nation-State. There is no stopping short of a world community…Thus we rejoice that there is an institution like the United Nations, for it is the symbol and hope of the new world, of the light dawning beyond the clouds, clouds piled up by our past patterns of behavior, past ways of speaking, judging, and acting which do not answer to the deep desire of the peoples of the world for peace and progress. We owe it to ourselves to find out why the light does not spread and disperse the darkness, why the sky is still clouded by fear and suspicion, hate and bitterness.”

Photo by Shinobu in Pexels.

Then you could read The United Nations: The Reflection of the World Society.

President of a State.

It is rare for a world citizen to become president of a State and even rarer to find a professional philosopher as head of State outside Plato’s Republic. Radhakrishnan was a rare individual who played an important intellectual role in three crucial periods:

  1. The revival of Indian thought in the 1920s—1930s after a long period of marginalization.
  2. The Second World War period when a new world society was being planned and when India was on the eve of becoming a fully independent State.
  3. The first years of Indian independence  and the start of the Cold War, the Korean conflict and the need to help reduce Soviet-American Cold War tensions.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born into a middle-class Brahman family in south India near Madras.  His family valued education, and he attended Christian-sponsored secondary schools and did his higher education at Madras Christian College.  During his education, he came to study classical Greek and Western thought, especially Plato, Aristotle and came to know Christian religious views.

The Hinduism.

He was confronted with Western teachers who held a low opinion of the Hinduism they saw around them but who were active in promoting Christian social action, especially in the fields of health, education, and poverty reduction. 

Madras was also the headquarters of the worldwide Theosophical Society; which agreed with the Christians that Hinduism was asleep but who felt that it could be awakened from within by its deeper values and did not have to copy the West. This was the avenue which Radhakrishnan followed, a recognition of the stagnant state of much of Indian religious thought and practice but a confidence that the answer lay in a revitalization of the best of Indian thought such as the Upanisads and the Bhagavad Gita.

This folio samples a part of verse 20, and the beginning of verse 21 from the opening chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which is on the topic of Arjuna’s distress. By British Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Status of Indian.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan cited the status of Indian thought described by the religious reformer Sri Aurobindo; “If an ancient Indian of the time of the Upanisads, of the Buddha, or the later classical age was to be set down in modern India, he would see his race clinging to forms and shells and rags of the past and missing nine-tenths of its nobler meaning…he would be amazed by the extent of the mental poverty, the immobility, the static repetition, the cessation of science, the long sterility of art, the comparative feebleness of the creative intuition.”

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) around the turn of the century, 1900. By Rudolf 1922, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918).

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was aware of the then status quo. As he wrote “Stagnant systems, like pools, breed obnoxious growths, while flowing rivers constantly renew their waters from fresh springs of inspiration. There is nothing wrong with absorbing the culture of other peoples; only we must enhance, raise and purify the elements we take over, fuse them with the best in our own. Indian philosophy acquires a meaning and a justification for the present only if it advances and ennobles life.”

For Radhakrishnan, it was Rabindranath Tagore who best represented this new, flowing river, and his first book was The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918). Tagore remained his ideal. While teaching philosophy at the University of Calcutta, he saw the impact of Tagore’s thought in the cultural revival of Bengal.

 Radhakrishnan’s reputation for his analysis and presentation of Indian philosophy grew, especially since many of his essays were published in Western journals. Thus in 1929, he was called to teach in one of the colleges of Oxford University, and in 1936 he was appointed to a newly created chair of Indian thought at Oxford University.

Rabindranath Tagore By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Then you could read Rabindranath Tagore: The Call of the Universal Real.

Association of World Citizens.

Thus it was in England that the second phase of his intellectual contribution began. As the clouds of the Second World War were gathering in the late 1930s, he stressed the need for a world vision, freed from the aggressive nationalism of the times. He joined the English branch of the recently formed Association of World Citizens and started meeting with thinkers who would be the creators of UNESCO such as Julian Huxley.  Radhakrishnan was to play an important role as the 1948 chairman of the Executive Council of UNESCO and in developing the UNESCO emphasis on the study of Asian culture.

Julian Huxley (12 February 1964). By Unknown authorUnknown author, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Community of Spirit.

 As he said “If we are to shape a community of spirit among the people of the world which is essential for truly human society and lasting peace, we must forge bonds of international understanding.  This can be achieved by an acquaintance with the masterpieces of literature, art, and science produced in different countries.

When we are in contact with them, we are lifted from the present and immediate passions and interests and move on the mountain tops where we breathe a larger air…For out of the anguish of our times is being born a new unity of all mankind in which the free spirit of man can find peace and safety.

It is in our power to end the fears which afflict humanity and save the world from the disaster that impends.  Only we should be men of a universal cast of mind, capable of interpreting peoples to one another and developing a faith that is the only antidote to fear.  The threat to our civilization can be met only on the deeper levels of consciousness.  If we fail to overcome the discord between power and spirit, we will be destroyed by the forces which we had the knowledge to create but not the wisdom to control.”

The Independence of India.

 With the independence of India came the third and most public of Radhakrishnan’s roles.  In 1948, he was named as the first Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union then headed by Stalin (1948-1952). While he had little personal sympathy for Marxist thought, he realized that he was in a key post at a crucial time, as the Cold War was turning hot with the outbreak of war in Korea in 1950 and the possibility of war spreading to other parts of Asia. He had written a book on the relations between India and Chinese philosophy and so had a particular interest in events in China.

 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was among the few in India who studied deeply Buddhist philosophy and tried to place the Buddha in the context of Indian thought. Thus events of Southeast Asia and the French war in Indochina were of particular concern.

The Indian Political System.

In 1952, he returned to India to become Vice-President and in 1962 became the President of India for a five-year term. In the Indian political system, executive power is in the office of the Prime Minister rather than the President. During Radhakrishnan’s political life the Prime Minister was Jawaharlal Nehru who shared many common interests but who kept a close hold on political decision making.

         Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan put his political energy into the area he knew best, the improvement of university education and the development of culture.  As a man of South India in a government dominated by people of the north, he was a symbol of national unity. As a person with deep knowledge of both Indian and Western philosophical thought, he was the model of the “meeting of East and West.” He set out his challenge to world citizens clearly “We live in an age of tensions, danger, and opportunity.  We are aware of our insufficiencies, and can remove them if we have the vision to see the goal and the courage to work for it.”

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Jawaharlal Nehru, the main campaigner of the Indian National Congress, 1951-52 elections. The poster reads ‘for a stable, secular, progressive state; VOTE CONGRESS’. By Indian National Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Notes.

 For a useful overview of his philosophical
thinking see Paul A. Schilpp (Ed). The Philosophy of Sarvepalli
Radhakrishnan (1952)

For a good picture of his bridge-building role, see S.J. Samartha Introduction to Radhakrishnan: The Man and His Thought. Dr. Samartha was Director of the program Dialogue among Living Faiths at the World Council of Churches in Geneva

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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South China Sea Appeals

Saber Rattling in the South China Sea.

Featured Image: The USS John S. McCain conducts a routine patrol in the South China Sea, Jan. 22, 2017. The guided-missile destroyer is supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Navy photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez. By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Six days of Chinese naval maneuvers have begun on 6 August 2021 near southeast Hainan province in the South China Sea at the same time as war ships of the U.S.A, the United Kingdom, Australian Defence Forces ships and those of the Japan Self-Defense Forces are also training in the area. The South China Sea is fast becoming a theatre of brinkmanship.

“We view with concern China’s unlawful claim to the entire South China Sea – directly and negatively impacting all the countries in the region from their livelihood, wheither it be with fishing or access to natural resources.” said John Aquilino, commander ot the US Indo-Pacific Command at the Aspen Security Forum on 4 August. The U.S. Commander added that he was concerned by China’s suppression in Hong Kong, human rights issues in Xinjiang, as well as China’s military actions on the border with India. “These are the tings that lead me to believe that our execution of integrated deterrence has to occur now with a sense of urgency.”

John C. Aquilino

Admiral John C. Aquilino, USN Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. (April 2021). By United States Department of Defense, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi quickly replied that “foreign powers” must stop extending “black hands” in the South China Sea and show “four respects – respect for historic truth, inernational law, the countries of the region and their agreements.

China’s Global Times published a harsh editorial on the same lines warning to:

follow the current international shipping lanes and stay at least 12 nautical miles away from the Chinese islands and reefs…Stopping such intrusive behavior that violates China’s territorial waters is a struggle China is destined to intensify… Under international law, warships, including those of the US and its allies have been able to pass through the South China Sea unimpeded. But if those shipes want to exert geopolitical pressure and build a wall to contain China along those shipping lines, those warships will face a confrontation from China. And the intensity of the confrontation is bound to increase constantly.”

Wang Yi

On November 25, 2019, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi. By 首相官邸ホームページ, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

It is probable that the Cold War-like rhetoric in Washington has encouraged China’s siege mentality. While it is unlikely that there will be a deliberate use of violence by any party, there can be miscalculations and misinterpretations of actions. In addition to China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei all make claims to some of the islands in the South China Sea. Slowly but surely, Beijing has been expanding its strategic influence in the South China Sea. The South China Sea islands and surrounding waters are crucial as potential military platforms, plausible points of strategic surveillance as well as sites of energy reserve.

It is in the interest of the world society that the tensions concerning the delimitations in the South China Sea be reduced. The current tensions could slip out of control.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Religious Appeals

Religious Liberty: Continuing Efforts by NGOs Needed.

Image By S. Hermann & F. Richter in Pixabay

by Rene Wadlow.

22 August has been set by the United Nations General Assembly as the

“International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”.

Due to Nazi and Japanese militarist persecution of religious groups during the Second World War;   freedom of religion and belief was on the U.N. agenda from the start of the organization. The issue is at the heart of article 18  of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;  proclaimed in 1948.

Religious non-governmental organizations (NGOs);  were active during the San Francisco conference;  at which the drafting of the U.N. Charter was completed. It was due in part to their active efforts  that an article creating a consultative status for NGOs;  was included into the U.N. Charter. NGOs in consultative status with the U.N;  can make U.N. bodies aware of issues by providing timely;  factual information. Often NGOs will address matters to U.N. agencies;  when governmental delegations keep silence. The duty of NGOs is not to speak against States;  but for the interests of humanity and human rights.

Spiritual But not Religious.

Although religious NGOs have had a wide range of interests to stress at U.N;  meetings and conferences;  such as the status of women, ecology, food policies;  liberty of religion and belief;  has always been a concern. The concern of religious liberty is not limited to religious NGOs;  but is also championed by secular NGOs;  such as Amnesty International and the Association of World Citizens.

Over time;  there has developed a fairly large number of people;  who consider themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” There has been the development of a growing number of associations devoted to practices;  which have their roots in religious traditions;  but can also be independent such as yoga, meditation, Chi Quong. Such associations often fall outside the usual governmental protection of religions – their tax status or other facilities concerning their buildings and properties.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International at the Bologna Pride 2012, in Bologna, Italy. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, June 9 2012. By G.dallorto, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The U.N. holds that the religious liberty provisions of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration;  are not limited in their applications to traditional religions;  or to religions and beliefs;  with institutional characteristics or practices  similar to those of traditional religions. Thus;  newly established movements and religious minorities should be protected.

Article 18 of the Univesal Declaration of Human Rights is developed in detail by the: 

“Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance nd Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief”.

Adopted by the General Assembly on 25 November 1981. The Declaration recognizes that every individual has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, expression, and religion. The importance of inter-religious dilogue; is stresssed as is the need for intensified efforts to protect the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and to eliminate all forms of hatred, intolerance and discrimination;  based on religion or belief.

There is a hope that tolerance and pluralism will strengthen democracy;  facilitate the full enjoyment of all human rights; and thereby constitute a sound foundation for civil society;  social harmony and peace. Yet we are fully aware that forces of aggressive nationalism;  absence of religious tolerance;  religious and ethnic extremism continue to produce fresh challenges.

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Islamic State (ISIS).

A tragic current example of victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief;  is that of the Yazidis of Iraq at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS). The Yazidi world view is Zoroastrian;  a faith born in Persia proclaiming that two great cosmic forces;  that of light and good;  and that of darkness and evil are in constant battle. Humans are called upon to help light overcome evil.

However;  the strict dualistic thinking of Zoroastrianism was modified by another Persian prophet: Mani of Ctesiphon in the third century CE.  Mani tried to create a synthesis of religious;  teachings that were increasingly coming into contact through travel and trade:  Buddhim and Hinduism from India;  Jewish and Christian thought;  Helenistic Gnostic philosophy from Egypt and Greece as well as many smaller;  traditional and “animist” beliefs.

Islamic State

Variant of the jihadist black flag. This particular version is used by the “Islamic State of Iraq” and by al-Shabaab in Somalia. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


Demon Worshipers.

He kept the Zoroastrian dualism as the most easily understood intellectual framework though;  giving it a somewhat more Taoist (yin-yang) flexibility. Mani had  lived in China. He developed the idea of the progression of the soul;  by individual effort through separate lives through reincarnation – a main feature of Indian thought. He combined the idea of spiritual progress through different lives;  with ethical insights of Gnostic and Christian thought. Unfortunately;  only the dualistic Zoroastrian framework is still attached to Mani’s nme: Manichaeism. This is somewhat ironic as it was the Zoroastrian Magi;  who had Mani put to death as a dangerous rival.

Within the Mani-Zoroastrian framework;  the Yazidi added the presence of angels;  who are to help humans in the constant battle for light and good. The Yazidi place great emphasis on Melek Tauis;  the peacock angel. Although there are angels in Islam;  angels that one does not know could well be demons;  and so the Yazidis are regularly accused of being “demon worshipers”.

Collateral Damage.

There are probably some 500,000 Kurdish-speaking Yazidis in Iraq. Iraq demographic statistics are not fully reliable. Yazidi leaders may give larger estimates by counting Kurds;  who had been Yazidis;  but had been converted to Islam. There had been some 200,000 Yazidis among the Kurds of Turkey;  but now nearly all have migrated to Western Europe, Australia and Canada. There are smaller groups of Yazidis in Syria, Armenia and Georgia. (1)

The Yazidis have often been persecuted for their beliefs;  and as part of the Kurdish-speaking community. This was true during the period of the Ottoman Empire;  as well as during the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party rule of Iraq. However;  the most recent and dramatic form of persecution came at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS).

The Association of World Citizens stressed that the policy of the ISIS leadership was genocide – the destruction in whole or in part of a group. The killing of the Yazidis is a policy and not “collateral damage” from fighting. While ISIS has lost much of the territory in Iraq and Syria that it once held;  the trauma  continues. The Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief call upon NGOs for continued speedy and effective action.

Note:

1) See Nelida Fuccaro. The Other Kurds in Colonial Iraq (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999)

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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China-India Frontier Appeals

Can Track II Efforts Reduce China-India Frontier Tensions?

Featured Image: Nathu La Pass is Indo Chine Border and one of the three open trading border of India and China. Photograph has been taken during my visit to Nathu La Pass , Sikkim. By Indrajit Das, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By René Wadlow.

In a June 24; 2020 message to the Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Mr. Vladimir Novov, the Association of World Citizens (AWC); expressed its active concern with the June 15;  death of Indian and Chinese military in the Galwan River Valley in Ladakh on the India-China frontier; and the possibility that the tensions will increase.

While there have been brief discussions among Indian and Chinese authorities to prevent escalation; there have been no real negotiations. Negotiation is a basic political decision-making process to facilitate compromise without loss of essential objectives.

 

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said on June 25 that since early May;  the Chinese have been amassing a large contingent of troops and arms along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Also, within India;  there has been a good deal of media attention; highly critical of China; given to the events.

In addition; there have been calls for a boycott of Chinese goods; and some Chinese products have been removed from Indian shops. Both Indian and Chinese spokespersons have made references to the 1962;  war during which some 2,000 persons were killed.

The AWC believes that there is a need for prompt measures as the India-China tensions;  add to existing tensions between the USA and China; as well as boundary issues with Asian States in the South China Sea.

China-India Frontier
India China Border, Nathula, Sikkim. By Madhumita Das, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Track II.

There may be a role for “Track II” nongovernmental efforts and exchanges. Track I is official government to government diplomacy among instructed representative of States; usually diplomats from the Foreign Ministry. However; governments have a range of officials on whom to call: intelligence agencies, the military; and “friends of the President” – trusted individuals within the executive entourage.

 

Track II efforts are organized through nongovernmental organizations; and sometimes by academic institutions. Such efforts can entail informal; behind the scene communications that take place in the absence of formal communication channels. The term “Track II” was coined by the U. S. diplomat Joseph Montville in The Arrow and the Olive Branch: A Case for Track II Diplomacy.

Track II efforts have grown as there is increasing recognition that there is a tragic disjunction between the United Nations tension-reduction mandate;  and its ability to intervene in conflicts when called upon. As Adam Curle; experienced in Quaker mediation efforts has written: 

“In general governments achieve their results because they have power to influence events, including the ability to reward or to punish. Paradoxically, the strength of civilian peacemakers resides specifically in their lack of power. They are neither feared nor courted for what they can do. Instead, they are trusted and so may sometimes be enabled to play a part in peacemaking denied to most official diplomats.”

Those involved in Track II efforts must, nevertheless, have ready access to governmental decision-makers and Track I diplomats. As the World Citizen and Quaker economist Kenneth Boulding in a little verse writes:

“When Track One will not do,
We have to travel on Track Two
But for results to be abiding,
The Tracks must meet upon some siding”.

 

 

In the China-India frontier tensions;  both sides must be convinced that there is a considerable sentiment for peace among their own supporters. In this conflict;  which could slip into greater violence;  there is an understandable tendency to look for short term answers. Yet there is also a need for some involved in Track II efforts to have an over-all integrated perspective for both short as well as long-term transformation. Thus, there needs to be a “pool” of people with experience, skills and the ability to move fast when the need or the opportunity is there?

We are sure that there are groups in India and China which can rise to meet this challenge.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

China-India Frontier

nathula peak,gangtok,sikkim, by Vinay.vaars, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Pete Souza, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Appeals

Myanmar: Fair Elections But Challenges Ahead.

Pete Souza, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

The 8 November 2020 elections;  for the two houses of the Myanmar Parliament were carried out with little violence. The National League for Democracy (NLD);  headed by Aung San Suu Kyi won some 80 percent of the open seats. The military have one fourth of the seats;  reserved for their nominated members. This provision of the constitution;  gives the military an effective veto over any measures;  that they do not like.

There are still a few political figures;  linked to the military in the small party Union for Solidarity and Development (USDP);  but basically the military are satisfied with their veto power in Parliament;  and their opportunities for making money in government-related business. There is no political leader of first order in the USDP. Thus;  there is little change in the makeup of the Parliament;  since the previous election of 2015.

However;  a large number of people could not vote. The Union Election Committee suspended all voting in some minority areas. It is estimated that over two million potential voters;  were in these areas where voting was canceled. The largely Muslim Rohingya;  had already been stripped of their Burmese nationality. Many have fled to Bangladesh both in a 1990 exodus;  and again more recently. Yet there are still a good number living in Myanmar;  but unable to vote. There are also a good number of people (estimates are not clear);  who are held in internment camps as a result of military-ethnic militias tensions;  who could not vote. In addition;  there are a large number of persons;  who have moved to Thailand to escape the long years of military repression;  who could not vote. Thus;  we must keep the election results in their context.

The NLD Government.

The governing record of the NLD is very uneven;  both in terms of bringing an end to the ethnic conflicts;  but also in the economic sector. Much of the Myanmar economy is linked to that of China. While there has always been a fairly numerous population of Chinese and Indians in the commercial sector of Burma;  the last few years have seen a wave of new immigrants from China starting stores, hotels, and other businesses. However;  there is little organized political opposition to the NLD. The government has actively discouraged any other political groups;  and critics in the press or social media have been arrested;  or their actions limited.

The NLD government has made little progress in dealing with the central issue facing the country: in order to create a stable country;  there is a need to find a creative balance between the central government and the ethnic minorities. Creating a governmental structure that respects separate cultures;  and yet sees the need to work together is not easy. The majority ethnic Burman live mostly in the central river valleys – the Irrawaddy plain – while the ethnic minorities – of whom the Karen, Karrenni, Kachin, Mon, Wu and Shan have been most active in the insurgencies – inhabit a large arc along the borders with Thailand, China, Laos, India and Bangladesh. The insurgent forces have often been small;  often structured on kinship or village loyalties;  and rise and fall with bewildering frequency.

New and Just Governmental Structures.

Having worked at the U.N. in Geneva in the late 1980s;  after the 1988 pro-democracy demonstrations until the mid-1990s; with some of the main representatives of the ethnic minorities on a possible federal constitution;  I am fully aware of the difficulties of creating new and just governmental structures. My hope was that a younger generation would be willing to develop realistic federal arrangements;  which would provide for political equality, respect for languages and cultures and autonomy in decision making.

The problem is that this younger generation does not hold power. Those in power both in the government and the ethnic minority structures;  are unwilling to give up the present status quo;  with its many opportunities for corruption for an uncharted future. A certain amount of political courage and vision is needed. These are in very short supply. We will have to watch closely to see if there are new voices among those elected to the new parliament;  who could present new avenues for creative actions.

 Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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