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Indus Valley to Incredible India

Discussion in 'Cheeniya's Senile Ramblings' started by Cheeniya, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Indus Valley to Incredible India!

    The other day I was discussing with my granddaughter about the Indus Valley Civilisation and other prominent ones like the Egyptians, Mayans and Mesopotamians. She has a fascination for history and listened to me intently. Finally she asked me a question, ‘Thatha, the period we are now living in, will it also be called a civilization later and if so what name will be given to it?’ I was just stumped by this question. I really do not know if all the civilizations have ceased to exist with the prehistoric age and whether the present times will earn this nomenclature with posterity.

    During the final stages of my school, my maternal uncle presented me with a book of Hendrik van Loon titled ‘The Story of Mankind’. It was a comprehensive history beginning with the primitive man to the modern era. It was essentially written by him for his grandchildren but like, Harry Potter, it interested older men too. He did not confine himself to any particular region but covered a vast area. When he was asked how he selected the topics for his book, he replied that the yardstick that he applied for selecting the materials for his book was simply this: ‘Did the person or event in question perform an act without which the entire history of civilisation would have been different?’ I strongly urge you to get hold of a copy of this book and read it with your children.

    When my granddaughter stumped me with her question, I just remembered Hendrik van Loon’s parameter. Human evolution is marked by the rise, growth and decay of civilisations. Evolution does not necessarily mean progress. It simply features changing characteristics and adaptation to changing environments to ensure survival and growth. Evolution is a continuous process. Civilisation is not. We may not be able to identify our position in evolution but we can find ourselves in an identifiable location in respect of civilisation. Unlike evolution, which is a long drawn affair in human history, civilisation has an impressive glamour value by virtue of the grandeur of the accomplishments in a quick span of historical time.

    As we watch the wonders of our past civilisations fading away from the pages of history, a dumb sense of numbness fills us about the impermanence of it all. I recall here the prophetic words of W.B.Yeats:

    “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
    Mere anarchy is looked upon the world
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned
    The best lack all convictions, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity”

    We are now at this phase of evolution. If we need to give a name to this period of history that we are passing through, what would it be? A couple of decades back, the ace cinematographer Krishnaswamy produced a much talked about documentary titled ‘Indus Valley to Indira Gandhi’. He seemed intent on projecting an image that the rich cultural heritage of the country has remained intact till the modern age of Indira Gandhi. There were also derisive comments that the documentary was more of an attempt to portray the degradation that the country had suffered through the ages.

    Our Tourism department proclaims the present state of the Nation as Incredible. Incredible India! From Indus Valley to Incredible India, we have come a long way indeed! From the erudite learning centers of Nalanda, we now have learning centers with students who take to the streets at the slightest provocation. Mass rapes that get swept under the carpet, school children dying by the dozens due to the callous attitude of the Headmistress, murders for gain, political rivalry settled through state managed hooliganism, the tentacles of corruption holding the government machinery in its vice-like grip, it gets tiresome even to repeat them! And my granddaughter wants a name for our current civilisation. Coming to think of it, Incredible doesn't seem bad at all!
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
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  2. iyerviji

    iyerviji Finest Post Winner

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    My dear Anna it was very interesting to read your new write up. Your grand daughter is very intelligent after all she is your granddaughter na. I am sure she must be taking you as her Role Model. In the modern world good things are happening and also bad. Today's youngsters are more knowledgable than us thanks to modern technology. Like Shyamala has mentioned we hope that our grand daughters will be in a better world. As always I dont know what else to write but cant be without giving fb to your thread. So have taken the help of Google hope the quotes are apt for the thread.

    One... gets an impression that civilization is something which was imposed on a resisting majority by a minority which understood how to obtain possession of the means to power and coercion. It is, of course, natural to assume that these difficulties are not inherent in the nature of civilization itself but are determined by the imperfections of the cultural forms which have so far been developed. ~Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion

    Let us make future generations remember us as proud ancestors just as, today, we remember our forefathers.

    Roh Moo-hyun
     
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  3. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Cheeniya sir,

    I want to say what an incredible piece of writing it is but I will refrain from saying so just beacuse the dictionary explains Incredible "as so extraordinary as to seem impossible". With Cheeniya sir, is it impossible? Thank you for bringing such a lovely piece to us. The subject you have touched upon is something I have been mulling over for quite a few days now and I would never do justice like the way you did. Instead I went about thinking how to react and protect and take care of my inner self using yoga sutras :-(

    Your grand daughter has stumped you and that brings a smile to my face but then I also know that smile is there on your face and may be a tad bit of swell in your chest with pride! You should feel proud sir, not just beacuse it is your GD but if her thinking is any indication of what the future generations are thinking about, there is a ray of hope. The profundity in her thinking if it were there in every single human being even for a second a day, we have hope. We can indeed look forward to a better world.

    Sigh! "Incredible" does not sound bad at all given the way the country is shaping up sir. Indeed! I looked up the the definition for the word civilized and wiki assures it still is this in reals sense of the word "in a classical context, people were called "civilized" to set them apart from barbarians, savages, and primitive culture while in a modern-day context, "civilized people" have been contrasted with indigenous people or tribal societies." and we have redifined it further in the modern sense - "Use of the word "civilized" may be controversial because it could imply superiority or inferiority." Perhaps we are trying not to be either superior or inferior with what we are doing with our selves and our society!

    One of my pet peeves every time I visit and that leads to a lot of criticism and arguments is my cry that we live far more in the past glory not working on our present enough to answer questions of our children and grand children sir! We have such a strong foundation from the past, we could do wonders if we choose to! But then, I am a NRI, a Not Required Indian as told by a good friend who anyways works on and from her memories of her growing up days ! As natural as it is for civilazations to rise, grow and decay why should we not make an effort to be in the growth part as long as we can at least as far as human values are concerned?

    Finally and I promose, that little piece you have shared from Yeats brought tears to my eyes. Not fair sir, not at all. Kamalji makes me laugh like a crazy woman in the morning and then you make me cry. What is happening sir? But as difficult as it is to give a name to our present state of affairs, you will agree if I say we are creatures of hope and hope that our children will make that difference and so we have to continue nurturing the good and hope as much as we can! So, thank you for sharing the information on "The story of Mankind"!

    And sir if we do look around really well, all is not lost! There are some wonderful stories happening and people are making differences and for the better in their way. I sure hope that you have assured your GD that she certainly belongs to that generation who can make a change by virtue of which they will be able to give a name to the civilization, thus helping us all, as well!
     
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  4. shyamala1234

    shyamala1234 Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Sri,

    Very valid doubt from your granddaughter. What do our times would be called after a few hundred years???

    Yes, evolution and civilisation are different. Civilisation has a span of some years only. Historians many times would not present a correct picture....they would highlight the things they want to.

    I agree, moral values are on the decline at a steep rate and science and technology have advanced at a very fast pace. It is incredible! May be they both are indirectly proportional!!! Future Historians would project an image that they want to. In the fast pace of life I would doubt very much in future people would analyse as in our times....they would if it profits them materialistically. Otherwise they would be just stacked in labraries.

    I am an optimist. Everything is not lost. World is made up of some good people, good scenario also. Scales might be tilted. Already we hear feeble sounds of negativity towards modern technology. I go to Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad. I see a lot of well disciplined youngsters there in School of Languages and Human Excellency, software engineers getting down from their company buses in the evening along with their computor bags to attend a lecture or Bhajan session or a Yoga class behaving very well gives hope that all is not lost. Still it would be incredible India but not completely in negative sense. Positivity also is there. So, let us hope when children like your granddaughter grow up they would be living in a better world...incredible!

    Syamala
     
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  5. kelly1966

    kelly1966 Platinum IL'ite

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    Cheeniya sir
    Your Grand daughter has posed a very thought provoking question.. "what will our present modern age in India be called as 100s of years later?"...
    on one hand all the poverty.. corruption.. deceit .. frauds.. scams.. and the other hand.. we are a rising developing world power.. a threat to reckon with.. our think tank is increasing.. and our engineers are sort after..
    so lets hope and pray that this age where we live in India will be remembered as "incredible rising and shining" after all even in Ramrajya there were petty thieves and murderers...good and evil have to co-exist .. its just how much we can control the evil in us and groom the good that matters.. after all every drop makes an ocean and every citizen makes a nation.. what say???
    Kerman
     
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  6. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Cheeniya Sir,

    What a phenomenal question that your granddaughter asked you. Will our period be known as civilization and if so what will be the name of that civilization? Fortunately or unfortunately, the civilizations were developed in isolation in the earlier years because of two reasons a) there were no frequent travel and communication between various civilizations for each one to know from other civilizations and b) the members of the civilization were very proud of their accomplishments and respected their civilization. Now the world has become too flat as indicated by Thomas Friedman. The developments in information & communication technologies apart from easy transportation of people, processes, services and products made everyone's life a mixture of several civilizations.

    Coming back to the Indus Civilization, like other civilizations, seeking knowledge to improve the way to conduct life has been the underlying core value. The fabric of Indus civilization seeking knowledge continue to remain intact and your granddaughter's question is proof enough for that. Traditionally, even Indus civilization was developed by the knowledge they gained from ancient scriptures and domination in mathematics came from the origin of Vedic scriptures. The language Sanskrit lost its life and till today, this is the only language that could be used as programming language as it is, as the grammar of this language is structured so perfectly to develop logic from the language.

    Somewhere down the line, the strengths of this civilization that has played a leadership role got eroded and became weaknesses of this civilization. There are many reasons for that. This civilization had core value of seeking knowledge for the purpose of achieving peace and tranquility in life. This civilization had extreme tolerance levels and this has resulted in aggression by other civilizations. Besides, the value of developing knowledge for the benefit of the community has slowly turned into pursuit of material benefits due to cross-pollination of civilizations. The leaders became the followers. Our core value of working hard, adapting to the changes, seeking knowledge remain in tact but the civilization lost its ability to lead.

    Let the new generation not allow the cross-pollination of civilizations to affect the basic fabrics of the Indus-civilization. Instead, let them use other civilizations to learn the best values from them. Let them understand the conflicts of adapting the values of other civilizations. Let them gain strength to question the dangers to the society and not succumb to the pressure of evil. Let them lead by example to again become a vibrant civilization. If they don't, it will evolve into a "Regressive civilization".

    I fully understand that poverty, corruption, politics as a profession as opposed to governance, etc. have eroded the value of otherwise vibrant Indus civilization. On the other hand, the core values of seeking knowledge, sacrifice for the welfare of the community, tolerance, etc. remain in tact. The value of right living continue to remain as primary fabric of the civilization. The new generation should focus on the right components of this civilization and spearhead the progress. If they understand building character and learning right living is the purpose of the civilization and if they are willing to lead, they can revolutionize this civilization to make progress and can proudly call it as "Progressive civilization".

    Viswa
     
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  7. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sri,

    What a piece of composition! You have at last quoted something that I am familiar with, The Story of Mankind. This is a book that I have always liked immensely. And I think I once wrote up a snippet simply quoting the introductory page. I can't resist quoting once again.

    This was my first introduction to time, a concept that has never ceased to fascinate me. But that's not what I should write about anymore. Instead, I want to concentrate on Yeats' line

    Your granddaughter asked you a wonderfully innocent question. And she asked this question sitting in a world which has turned away its face from innocence almost totally. And I am wondering how I feel like answering the question. One possible name might fit the bill, though your granddaughter cannot be exposed to it. And that name is "The Uncivilized Civilization". I do think that we are lost. Or, as Yeats had put it:

    Faith, beauty, love -- nothing matters anymore. Sensitivity in particular has lost all significance. Hendrik Van Loon, whom you refer to, wrote another book, The Life and Times of Rembrandt. I wrote a set of posts on this book too during my early days at IL. I was fascinated to know that Rembrandt had tried to portray the colour of air. And it was through this attempt that the world of painting underwent a magnificent change.

    Have you ever thought of painting air, paint something that you can feel but hardly ever see? But Rembrandt took up that challenge. He brought about a revolution in art, that survived the test of time. He himself did not. He died a piteous death, no less touching than the one Mozart did.

    No wonder we live in an age where

    Fagin ran a school for pickpockets. Even he would shudder to be exposed to the centres of learning today!

    oj
     
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  8. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear Viji
    My grandchildren belong to a generation that is super-brainy. They have a very inquisitive mind and it is for elders like us to keep their imagination and inquisitiveness aflame. I do that very religiously by discussing with them all I know and encouraging them to read books appropriate to their age. Being a believer, I also give them an insight into our Karma theory as I strongly believe that a strong foundation in Karma theory will help the young to develop and sustain a strong conscience. When the new Prince was born to Kate, I told them that right at that moment of the birth of the Royal Prince, a thousand slum dwellers would have given birth to children who may have to slog along for the rest of their lives in slums. I asked them to think about it and tell me why there was such disparity in status right at the birth for no fault of the children.

    I am not much of a Freud fan but he seems to make some sense in this statement of his! I wonder if every one of us remembers our forefathers as 'proud ancestors'. It all depends on what was inherited by the present generations from their forefathers!
    Sri
     
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  9. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear Srama
    History is becoming the most hated subject now as the focus of the current generation is wholly on such subjects that will ensure them total economic freedom. The same granddaughter who raised this question on civilization now once asked me why were we studying history and what did we gain by it. It was then that I realized that the fault lay with the manner in which history was being taught in schools. When our grandparents tell us about their times and that of their forefathers, we listen with rapt attention because of the family bonding that is involved in the history of the family. But teaching of a country’s history becomes very impersonal and we end up easily distancing ourselves from it. When Richard Attenborough shows our freedom struggle in his momentous movie on Gandhi, we feel totally moved but the same freedom struggle narrated by our history teacher only succeeds in producing a series of yawns!

    During my school days, whenever a question was asked about why a particular emperor’s period was known as ‘Golden Era’, I would immediately start writing that they planted a lot of trees and built rest houses for the weary travelers! That is the reason why I take special care to tell my grandchildren about our hoary past in its proper perspective. It was during one of those sessions that my GD raised this question. A civilisation referred to the living conditions of a particular period but not to the mindset of the population. It was not as though that everyone had a heart of gold during the Golden Era of Chandra Gupta Maurya. Every period had its share of bad people.

    I entirely agree with you that the lines of Yeats are very poignant and disturbing but there is no escape from his prophecy. Still, as you say, we do not have to feel utterly hopeless if only we can sow a seed of pride of our heritage in every young mind and exhort them to keep this trend alive.
    Sri
     
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  10. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sri sir
    Very interesting. I think unlike our history lessons, you made this interesting just because of the way you presented it.

    India has come a long way from not only from the glorious Kalidasa, Aryabhaata, Nalnda, Guptas, and Cholas but also in abolishing Sati, Untouchability, casteism, etc. Good and bad. While science and technology have made the lifestyle much better in the cities, I saw not much improvement in the small villages during my travel to interior S.India. In fact my heart still bleeds when I recall the dilapidated mud homes, the poverty lines on those who chose to tend the fields with all the rivers including the Cauvery running dry.

    If in a hundred years I was asked to define today's India, I would call it the period of corruption. I sincerely hope and pray that it has reached it pinnacle and from now on corruption will be on the decline. It may take a couple more generations to oppose corruption and finally eradicate it.

    Discussions with some young folks in India revealed that they wish the British still ruled India and believe that India would have been a better place now.
    I was stunned at their ignorance of the struggles our forefathers went through to gain this independence. Appears that this independence is not valued at all. Is it because they don't know what it is to be under another regime? Are the atrocities our forefathers went through and their struggles for freedom diluted so much that the present generation does not know the value of independence?
    Perhaps this is because as you mention, our history lessons only glorify the past and do not focus on the real issues, the social struggles that the our forefathers fought against and changed the course of history.

    I can think of a million ways this ignorance can be changed but realize that it is not easy.
    ________________________
    Note: I read your article on vulnerability sir. I need a bit more time to put my thoughts to be more decipherable before giving my FB.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2013
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