Śrīkānta Profile picture
Writes on Politics, Religion, Classics, Economics, and Intellectual History
குமரவேல் / Kumaravel Profile picture pamsethuraman Profile picture 3 added to My Authors
Oct 8, 2018 24 tweets 5 min read
When one reads the arguments of atheists in our times, it invariably centers around the question -

"Does God exist"?

To me it is the wrong question. A more fundamental question is -

Can man discriminate between right and wrong all by himself? Can he govern himself?
Oct 8, 2018 9 tweets 2 min read
One of the shifts in Hindu opinion that I see over the past 10 years or so (particularly in the Modi era) is the reduced interest in "Uniform Civil Code".

When I was growing up as a kid in the 90s, a prime talking point on the RIght was - Uniform Civil Code, and also Article 377 In the Modi era, that has changed. I am talking of general RW opinion as I gauge it from social media. And I am not saying this change is caused by RW leadership.
Oct 8, 2018 4 tweets 1 min read
Interesting that Hollywood remakes "A Star is Born" every few decades - '37, '54, '76, and now

Suggests that notwithstanding all the rhetoric on gender neutrality, the dilemmas posed by fluid gender roles, male unease with female careerism, etc remain themes that don't get dated For Indians it is worth noting that the film was also made in Bollywood starring Amitabh Bachchan (titled "Abhimaan" in 1973)
Oct 7, 2018 18 tweets 3 min read
Just got hold of this remarkable book by the American anthropologist Milton Singer.

Title : "When a Great Tradition modernizes" - An Anthropological approach to Indian civilization The book is in the MN Srinivas mould, and examines the interaction between tradition and modernity in India soon after independence in the 50s/60s.

The focus is primarily on the changing character of brahminical HInduism in Madras city - his case study for the book
Oct 6, 2018 20 tweets 3 min read
One of the distinguishing features of the Supreme Court of United States is that there are no term limits. And the judges are appointed to serve for life

A sharp contrast to the Indian Supreme court where judges retire at 65. Now there is clamour for term limits in US and also India.

But this would be a very bad idea. Why?
Oct 6, 2018 9 tweets 2 min read
Kuldeep Yadav is that rarity

A Left arm wrist spinner.

He has just started his career well - with 4 tests averaging 23 so far.

But the history of left-arm wrist spin is so bare and slim that he has a good chance to become the greatest Left-arm wrist spinner of all time! A left arm wrist spinner is ofcourse one who bowls leg spin left arm as well as a googly. He typically brings the ball into the right hander and away from the left hander

Seems straightforward enough. But it is a bit hard to explain why there have been so few of them in history
Oct 6, 2018 29 tweets 5 min read
One of the riddles in political discourse is to define the "C" word

What exactly is Conservatism?

For Liberalism it is possible to chart out a messy history, starting with Magna Carta and ending with Me-Too movement,

Conservatism doesn't lend itself to narratives It doesn't even lend itself to a straightforward definition

A very simplistic way of defining a political conservative is to suggest that Conservatives are the ones who "resist" change. That's the definition that "liberals" like to foist upon conservatives
Oct 5, 2018 11 tweets 2 min read
I was not very familiar with Federalist society until recently

An organization that has played a central role in promoting the idea of Originalism, fighting liberal notions of "living constitution" and inspiring a generation of conservative judges on US Supreme court

(Contd) Here's an interesting talk organized by the Society back in the 80s featuring one of its stalwarts Robert Bork

Oct 4, 2018 6 tweets 1 min read
One puzzling aspect of India is the sharply contrasting attitude of Indians towards its Muslim rulers vs British Raj

Every Indian schoolkid has heard of Sher Shah Suri who ruled from 1538 to 1545. But how many kids are familiar with Lord Ripon - Viceroy from 1880 to 84? Most kids know the Mughal line of succession (atleast for the Great Mughals) -
Babar->Humayun->Akbar->Jehangir->Shah Jehan->Aurangazeb

But do we know the list of Viceroys from Canning to Mountbatten?

Why is that considered less important or relevant?
Oct 3, 2018 8 tweets 2 min read
Mahatma Gandhi's single greatest contribution to India for better or worse, was his pan-Indian mobilization of the masses in the freedom struggle.

A problematic legacy of his Mass mobilization almost inexorably led to -

The legitimization of populism and hartal culture

A fillip to the growth of Muslim nationalism and a hastening of the country's inevitable division

Precipitated a premature disengagement by the British that had consequences
Sep 30, 2018 96 tweets 17 min read
The Rupee reached an all time low against US Dollar in Sep 2018 hitting close to 73 units to a dollar

But this fall in the rupee has coincided with one of the strongest phases of the Indian economy ever

An economy growing at a faster clip than it ever has in the past 4000 years For those who are naive about the role of currency and monetary standards this may have seemed perplexing.

How can the economy be doing so well at a time when the country’s monetary unit is at its weakest.
Sep 26, 2018 12 tweets 3 min read
To my mind both Dhume's piece and the reactions to it are a tad silly.

Dhume's case seems to be - Learn English as it saves you from "HIndi imperialism"

That's very twisted

One learns English because it is a useful language. Not because it boosts Indian languages other than Hindi in any meaningful way
Sep 26, 2018 5 tweets 2 min read
On Bhasa

He is traditionally placed before Kalidasa and viewed as a fairly early figure in classical Skt literature

But Mr Pollock claimed a few yrs ago that Bhasa belonged to the Pallava court and is a much later figure

@blog_supplement: any thoughts?

Quoting Pollock -

"The corpus of plays discovered in Trivandrum in the early 1900s and ascribed to Bhasa, which have been fantastically dated as early as the 4th cen BC, have been shown in a recent careful assessment to derive most probably from Pallava court of the mid-7th cen"
Sep 24, 2018 4 tweets 1 min read
I feel very embarrassed for not knowing much about Kumara Kampanna, Gopanarya and Ganga devi until very recently.

The conquest of Madurai by Vijayanagar deserves to be rendered on film

These are among the most important figures in Hindu history

thehindu.com/todays-paper/t… What's worth emphasizing is that Vijayanagara conquest of the Sultanate helped restore worship in two of the greatest temples of modern India - Madurai and Srirangam

Imagine a scenario where the two temples (much smaller in extent back then) had become defunct in 14th cen
Sep 21, 2018 6 tweets 1 min read
Can too much education be a liability?

Wisdom from Peter Thiel commenting on the "hard left" tendencies in the Silicon Valley -

"Silicon valley is probably the most educated part of the country. One of the downsides of too much education is that you get the most brainwashed" This quote really struck me.

And it made me wonder -

Should we not regard religion / faith / tradition as antidotes against the ill-effects of education?

Education can make man conceited, and trust his own discretion in domains outside his narrow expertise
Sep 21, 2018 6 tweets 2 min read
Excellent piece

foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/20/nar… I was struck by this wise extract -

""And then there is the question of welfare. In a democracy like India’s, where the poor come out to vote in large numbers, no administration can afford to ignore the concerns that fuel populist impulses."

Sep 20, 2018 8 tweets 2 min read
On this chart -

A lot of the decline in "extreme poverty" is merely driven by sharp declines in fertility rates among the destitute

That's not an "achievement"

It reminds one of Jonathan Swift and his "Modest Proposal" This is the kind of chest thumping among the "development" economics crowd that is very annoying and mildly amusing.

Ofcourse the world will have fewer poor people if the poor people breed less. Maybe that's a good thing. But how is that something to be proud of.
Sep 16, 2018 19 tweets 3 min read
There is a tendency in India to miss the wood for the trees.

This was evident to me yesterday when several people reacted to my thread on Hindi saying -

"Oh...don't call Tulsi, Surdas as writers of Hindi"

They wrote in Avadhi, Braj Bhasha. "Don't try to fabricate a long history for HIndi. It is a young language that has "usurped" all these great languages of the past.

For people who hold such views, I have a short exercise.
Sep 15, 2018 12 tweets 2 min read
So there is this invitation to elaborate on the twitter handle

Shrikanth is pronounced with a "long a" in the middle. Also it is "a" as in "Audit" and not "Apple"

It is a Sanskrit name which ltranslates to "Husband of Goddess Lakshmi" i.e Vishnu

The origins of this name are not clear to me.

It is not one of the 1000 names of Lord mahAvishNu in the Vishnu Sahasranama.

But it is a very common name in India today - particularly in the West and South. Not so much in the North and East
Sep 15, 2018 21 tweets 3 min read
On the occasion of "Hindi Divas", it is worth our while to reflect on this great but underrated language

And also reflect on which variant of Hindi do we wish to preserve and popularize in future to facilitate national integration

There are many misconceptions about Hindi Misconception 1 : It is a very young language

Misconception 2 : Its persianized register (Urdu) is older and better understood

Misconception 3 : It is totally alien to people outside the Hindi belt
Sep 14, 2018 12 tweets 3 min read
This Indian budget doc suggests that in 2017-18 the govt is projected to earn Rs 19 lac crores as gross tax revenue

Of which the share of Income tax on individuals is ~4.4 lac crores - close to 23%

indiabudget.gov.in/budget2017-201… Now we all know that not everyone pays Income tax in this country. Barely 3% or even less do. (though I don't recall the latest number offhand).

And none of us relish paying income tax