Utho Meri Duniya….and standing all the night until the dawn (LAAL)

When you are in Delhi and something is happening in JNU, the chances are you got to go there. It so happens more when something of exotic flavor comes in like international food festival and so. We went there to listen LAAL last year and had an awesome as well as awful night. This year Taimur Rahman of LAAL came to our University itself and had his performances just down a few floors from my hostel room at Akbar Bhawan.

When some programs of this sort happens in a residential university, the outsiders often become the most vulnerable and  marginalized minority whose concerns are nobody’s business. Why am I saying this? Read more to find it. Somebody informed us that the JNU program would start around 9 pm or so and most possibly be over before midnight.

In fact, when a bunch of us (students at SAU) went to JNU for the program, the JNU program has not yet started. After some time of wait, it started but for us it was already getting late to back Akbar Bhawan. I could not resist myself not listening the band at the open theatre of Partha Sarathi Rocks (PSR) area. The crowd was another reason. When the program was over around 1 am (the other morning), it was to late to find an auto. Thus how we did until the next dawn was basically “utho meri duniya”.

[Courtesy: Ganpat Teli]

The reason to buy the incense

Incense

Nine month before from today i.e. on 30th of October 2012, I was heading towards Nehru Place to  find some electronic devices for me.  And on the way, I was not aware that I had to encounter an old man selling an incense  sticks while The auto was waiting for the traffic signal to come. This old man asked me to buy his product by saying that he had not taken his meals for days. For me, the incense was of no use until the date I took this to home during this summer breaks in my University. My mother very happy to see the incense perhaps thinking that her son had now started to buy things required for her. But then when she along with father heard this story behind buying the sticks, they spoke nothing and I did not know what they had thought of.

Image Source: http://www.peacefulmind.com/images/incense/sacred_incense.jpg

The life line and the deadline

To read anything is easy but when comes to see the same things the level of understanding, increases. But the experiencing the same only can tell you the real sense of it. This week I am suffering from flu and taking medicines. Now I realize that my paramedical and public health training as well as interaction among the patients suffering from the flu was incomplete to understand the ‘rites de passage’ they went through. The realization came to me when this affected both my life line and deadline. Life line, the physical well being and the deadline, the assignment at the University.

 

 

Yatra with a cause

On the 16th of this month, I was hurried to come out of my anthropology class and eat the lunch at the campus canteen. I rushed for an auto with a freind and reached the Metro station at Race course, Delhi. We had to take a train from Old Delhi railway station to Gorakhpur at 3 pm.
tbc…

Nations and Nationalism in Contemporary South Asia: A Nepalese Perspective

The notion of nationalism and ethnicity is much pronounced now than ever before in Nepal. The idea of cultural sameness shared by the citizens of a nation and distinctiveness that differs them from what nationalism and ethnicity refers respectively to. This essay summarizes the main arguments made by Ernest Gellner in his classic writing on nationalism and ethnicity. The paper begins with definitions of nationalism, state and the nation followed by the reflection of these concepts in Nepalese context.

Ernest Gellner begins the writing by defining the political principle by which he means the congruency of political and national unit that includes political sentiment and political movement. According to him, political sentiment is the feeling about the fulfillment of the principle by either anger or satisfaction and political movemnet is actuated by this sentiment. For him, violations of the nationalism principle is through four reasons- political boundary of a state does not include all members of the nation, political boundary including some  foreigners, multiplicity of state resulting in no national state and rulers of the political unit belonging to another nation than the majority of the ruled. He further argues that Nationalism is a theory of political legitimacy, which requires that ethnic boundaries should not cross political ones. On explaing the state, Gellner cites the Weberian definition of the state which says that the state is an agency within society which possesses the monopoly of legitimate violence. He does this to explain that nationalism does not arise from stateless societies.

Gellner then explains the stages in mankind’s history where he outlines three societies i.e.  pre-agrarian society, agrarian society and industrial or post-agrarian society. Pre-agrarian society is characterised by hunting and gathering, small societies with no possibilities for political divison of labour and with absence of a state. Similarly,  the characteristics of agrarian societies was such that the most agrarian societies are state-endowed, state is one possible option and various forms of states. In the same way, post-agrarian society features  the state which is infact inescapable, once none had the state, then some had it, and finally all have it and large societies with high living standards need general division of labour and cooperation.

Nationality, accoording to Gellner is a given category and a modern man’s imagination. He provides an analogy of shadow to explain this concept. He says that nationality is a person’s identity and inherent with him like his shadow wherever he goes.  In fact, nations are no universal necessity. Nations and states do not exist all the time and under all circumstances. State emerged without the help of the nation. He further defines the nation on the basis of two criteria- cultural and voluntaristic.  Cultural definition stresses upon the sharing of a same culture whereas voluntaristic definition argues on recognition by others as having same nation.

As discussed above, states emerged in agrarian societies and agrarian societies are characterised by  two main factors – emergence of literacy to some groups and emergence of clerisy. Literacy was first required for keeping records (taxes / accounts) and functions were largely on legal domain for either contractual or administrative purposes. Those who were literate specialists  have chance of becoming a clerisy. The social structure of agro literate polity was such that ruling class was a minority with rigid separation and exaggeration of class inequality leads to  specialised sublayers. The stress was on cultural differentiation and there was horizontal lines of cultural cleavage.  Genetic and cultural differences covered functional differentiations. Production class was organized in small, inward-turned communities with no possible cultural homogenity. State interests were only on tax collection and peace maintenance. Clerisy was the only class which may have a measure of interests in imposing shared cultural norms, but the social structure prevented success. The definition of cultural boundaries was impossible, because culture and power were separated.

Gellner argues that cultural proliferation in this world does not generally lead to cultural imperialism and political boundaries and cultural limits are determined by totally different factors. Culture tends to be branded horizontaly in class or vertically in local communities. The proliferation is very complex and is based on different factors such as life-style, occupation, language, religion, etc.

The issue of nationality and nationalism has to be thought in context of people. Nationality is not a territory. It is often heard that Nepal’s King might have been autocratic but he was a nationalist. Often, it is voiced from a person who is not in King’s camp politically. It is surprising that how can nationalism be assured without people’s basic rights? Desh or nation is not a territory but people. This should be noted that Nepal is Nepal because Nepalese are living in Nepal. The territory may be there even in absence of Nepali but the true notion of Nepal as nation will not be there.

History suggests that current Nepal is the result of the expansion of Gorkha state by King Prithvi Narayan Shah. After the end of Mughal Empire in India during 18th century, many kings of this region were expanding their states by conquering other states. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was one of them. The primary purpose of unifying other states then was nothing but to expand his state. It would be wrong to say that it was unification because the concept of nationalism was not imagined during those days.  The brutality towards Newars of Kathmandu is the testimony that the conqueror was not acting like a statesman but a victor.  Sughauli treaty made the geographical territory of Nepal but not of the nation. After 1816, Nepal was formed but no attempts were made to make it a nation. The nationalism as a feeling was perhaps first experienced during 1950 (2007 BS) movement when people from the east and west and the north and south went to Nepal. The same was during 1990 (2046 BS) and 2006 (2063 BS). However, I doubt whether these movements were spontaneous or induced. Now, the need of the hour is again to form a nation not just to create a territory based on ethnicity or other. Only time can tell what will happen next.

 

Bibliography

Gellner, E. (2006) Chapters 1 and 2Nations and Nationalism, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pg. 1-7, 8-18, 19-37.

The article is also published in the following link page:

http://sausociology.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/nations-and-nationalism-in-contemporary-south-asia-a-nepalese-perspective/

Biostatisticians Vs Epidemiologists

There was once a group of Biostatisticians and a group of Epidemiologists riding together on a train to joint meetings. All the Epidemiologists had tickets, but the Biostatisticians only had one ticket between them. Inquisitive by nature, the Epidemiologists asked the Biostatisticians how they were going to get away with such a small sample of tickets when the conductor came through. The Biostatisticians said, “Easy. We have methods for dealing with that.”

Later, when the conductor came to punch tickets, all the Biostatisticians slipped quietly into the bathroom. When the conductor knocked on the door, the head Biostatistician slipped their one ticket under the door thoroughly fooling the layman conductor. After the joint meetings were over, the Biostatisticians and the Epidemiologists again found themselves on the same train. Always quick to catch on, the Epidemiologists had purchased one ticket between them.

The Biostatisticians (always on the cutting edge) had purchased NO tickets for the trip home. Confused, the Epidemiologists asked the Biostatisticians “We understand how your methods worked when you had one ticket, but how can you possibly get away with no tickets?” “Easy,” replied the Biostatisticians smugly, “we have different methods for dealing with that situation.”

Later, when the conductor was in the next car, all the Epidemiologists trotted off to the bathroom with their one ticket and all the Biostatisticians packed into the other bathroom. Shortly, the head Biostatistician crept over to where the Epidemiologists were hiding and knocked authoritatively on the door. As they had been instructed, the Epidemiologists slipped their one ticket under the door. The head Biostatistician took the Epidemiologists’ one and only ticket and returned triumphantly to the Biostatistician group.

Of course, the Epidemiologists were subsequently discovered and publicly humiliated.

MORAL OF THE STORY

Do not use statistical methods unless you understand the principles behind them!

Cited from

Patrick Royston (original author unknown) posting to allstat, 7–Feb–1996 in Some Quotable Quotes for Statistics J. E. H. Shaw December 28, 2001