Friday, November 18, 2011

Collocations, creativity and education

Many words, most of the times, are always associated with other words. They always tend to go along with their “partners”. For instance, ‘Abject’ always goes with ‘Poverty’, ‘Blonde’ with ‘hair’ and ‘flock’ with ‘sheep’.

This fascinating feature of the language has its place in linguistics with the term- ‘Collocations’. Linguistics, the science of language, not only acknowledges their presence but also helps the beginners to understand them.

Collocation, though very effective way of expression, can not be formed just by placing any word along with any other. Collocations need to be formed, rather than, they are made to form. They are outcome of the efforts to express in minimum words without diluting the meaning.

A collocation, once formed out of such efforts, becomes part of the language. Its one word is juxtaposed with the other and its usage becomes so customary that its words are recognized only as part of it. ‘Abject’ has a clear identification mostly with ‘Poverty’.

When a collocation is formed, its words lose their original shades of meanings. The word ‘Herculean’ has lost its simple meaning- “Of Hercules”, ever since the collocation “Herculean Task” became part of the language.

But after its overuse, the collocation becomes a cliché and loses the sharpness of its first usage. Then, a chief guest is always ‘Eminent Personality.’ All difficult tasks are then either ‘Herculean’ or ‘Daunting.’ ‘Competition’ becomes always ‘Cutthroat.’ Whenever interest rates fall sharply, they always reach ‘Rock-Bottom Level.’ A manufacturing firm always has ‘Cutting – Edge Technology’. A sudden change is always ‘Drastic Change’
This overuse leads to ‘Stagnancy’ in the language and then a need to construct new collocations to express one’s thoughts emerges. Genius writers and poets do many experiments. They abstain themselves from using cliches and while doing that, old combinations are destructed and new combinations are constructed. It is indeed a creative process. Many times they appear bizarre, weird and even esoteric. But this process, which I would like to call ‘Creative Juxtaposition’, continues until the writer or poet is satisfied.

We should get into the process of ‘Creative Juxtaposition’ unknowingly and for this we should recall our childhood endeavors of creative experimentation. Children are deemed to be cute when they mix up the things. They have the natural tendency to juxtapose one with another. Children play with words without any purpose and place a word with some other. However, they can’t establish a relationship between these words as they have limited knowledge of words.

And as they grow, while their ability of understanding of words improves, their natural tendency of experimentation declines. First they forget this tendency, and then they forget asking ‘why’. This is detrimental to creativity, which is nothing but the ability of thinking about two things, (which may have no apparent relationship) simultaneously or one after another, in such a way that a link can be established between those two things. But it is sad that this acumen doesn’t develop, as a child grows. Many times it remains undeveloped instead of getting matured.

This happens because whenever children experiment with words knowingly or unknowingly, these efforts of theirs are rejected as ‘Mistakes’. Parents, elders and even the teachers laugh at them saying that they are making ‘mistakes’. Schools, homes should be safe places to commit more and more mistakes. Teachers should be facilitators to accelerate the process of creativity. But teachers and parents give emphasis on academics but not creativity. Children also succumb to their pressure. Creativity is curbed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Poem that everyone would like to ignore

I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return

 - W. H. Auden

Morality is no longer a prime concern for today’s schools. Teaching moral values sounds very antiquated today, as education has become a money-making commodity, which is directly linked with marks like the linkage between profit and share price. The higher is the profit, the higher is the share price. Similarly, the higher are your grades, the more money you make. The children are increasingly under pressure in order to prove their ‘extraordinary talent’ by securing good grades in exams. They do not want to leave anything to chance; they join coaching classes to sharpen their skills required for the ‘cut-throat’ competition. Coaching classes may have become essential, but their commercial nature makes them ‘brutally’ indifferent towards moral values. The only value that the children quickly understand today is that money attracts better education and better education attracts more money.

Today’s teachers are busy with completing the syllabus. Their main focus is on how students can pass exams with good grades. At very early age, the children understand that securing good grades is the purpose of education. Thus their goal is always tangible. Pursuing tangible goals at such tender and early young age induces stress and anxieties. How a school helps its students to manage the stress determines the moral ambience of the school because the children fall prey to different malpractices, as there are always quick and easy ways available in order to get rid of the stress.

And punishing students is not the way to curb malpractices. Once, in one of the famous English medium schools in Pune, I was conducting a workshop on soft skills. The students were extremely notorious and uncontrollably mischievous. Though I tried to control them by keeping myself calm, I lost my temper after some time and started scolding a boy. Immediately a few of them said, ‘Sir punish him, punish him’. I was flabbergasted. The boy gave them a vengeful look. The students told me the ‘standard’ forms of punishments that the teachers follow in the school: making the boy stand on the bench or say ‘sorry’ thirty times. I didn’t punish the boy and continued the workshop. However, I still remember the vengeful anger that the boy had in his eyes against those who had wanted him to be punished.

Schools have no time to think on how to create a mechanism which will resolve the students’ moral and ethical dilemmas. As the students pass through the adolescent phase, the complexity of such problems escalates. Counselling is a better way to deal with such problems than mere teaching what moral values are. Only those teachers who have the knowledge of how to deal with stress without falling prey to easy but risky short cuts can become good counsellors. Thus, teaching at secondary schools is the most challenging job in the field of education, as it requires both intelligence and rectitude.  However, it is the least preferred career option for the bright students; probably, because teaching requires a high level of righteousness and also because teaching is not a lucratve career option. Everyone today wants the world to be recognised as place where you can make money by any means; the poem of W. H. Auden is then worth ignoring.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Need imagination, not yatra.

I read Shyam Manohar’s Marathi novel ‘Kheksat mhanane, I love you’. The title can be translated into English as “Saying ‘I love you’ snappishly”. As I finished reading, a sentence came to my mind: Lack of imagination is the root cause of corruption in India. First, I thought, this sentence was from the novel itself. So I verified. There is no such sentence in the novel.
But the novel is all about lack of imagination power, an acute disease that India is suffering from. This disease has weakened our civilization making it increasingly degenerate.
The veteran BJP leader, Lalkrishna Advani is on a yatra (journey) against corruption. His objective is to create awareness among people about corruption. This objective appears ostensible to many. They say that his main objective is political. But I want to believe in him, as there is nothing that is apolitical. At least, his campaign is not like the one of Team Anna, who are running their campaign against corruption under the disguise of the Lokpal bill, which they are misleadingly projecting a panacea to corruption.
Advani’s objective is clear. He has no specific agenda other than the power to rule. But my concern is whether there is any imagination in Advani’s campaign. And there is not. Our politicians do not use any imagination power. Overall, Indians do use less and less imagination power.
Lack of imagination power causes lack of creation of knowledge. In a society where there is lack of creation of knowledge, a person always feels helpless. A helpless person tries to rely on an external help. He always feels dependent on others. This gives rise to a scope for exploitation of each other’s helplessness. And from here begins corruption.  
India is seriously going through a crisis of scarcity of ideas. We boast about our I.T. industry and our software engineering skills. But there is hardly any product based company in the I.T. industry. No company in our I.T. industry has used imagination power to create a word-class I.T. product, which is completely Indian.
Why just I.T.field? You take any field as wide as possible-manufacturing, service, agriculture, art, cinema, literature, science, technology, poetry, medicine. An Indian has no confidence that great imagination can take place in India. Once I said to a taxi-wallah, “Do you know, an Indian who lives in Mumbai has discovered a planet that is almost similar to our earth”. He looked at me, said, “Indian?” and started laughing. Erosion of such confidence is dangerous for our civilization.
We want confidence that great imagination can take place in India. This confidence itself will work against corruption.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grippingly philosophical

‘If one said to another ‘I love you’ snappishly, would it sound humorous or pitiful?
One community criticises another.
One political party criticises another.
One person criticises another.
Who is criticising all of us, society as a whole?’

Above are the lines in my translation from a Marathi novel: Kheksat Mhanane, I love you, which might be translated into English as ‘Saying ‘I love you’ snappishly.’ The author is Shyam Manohar, whose novel ‘Ustuketene mee zoplo’ was awarded by the Sahitya Akademi in 2008.

No other author, at least in Marathi literature, has been consistently examining, throughout his oeuvre, whether Indians have quest for mankind’s fundamental questions and what happens when Indians try to pursue such quests in the cotemporary political and social structure. His writing is highly experimental. It may not have a usual characterisation. Its events may not be chronologically important. But Shyam Manohar’s writing, however experimental it may be, has an objective. His Sahitya Akademi award winning novel focuses on whether Indian family system that Indians cherish a lot has a place for creativity and quest for knowledge. ‘Kheksat Mhanane I love you’ focuses mainly on following issues:

1) Why people, particularly Indians end up in either just quibbling over trivial issues or simply criticizing one another, though they aspire for grander and higher goals.
2) How Indian society is becoming increasingly susceptible to decadence. (Criminal or venal civilisation)
3) What the role of imagination is in making of civilisation

The novel ‘…… I love you…’ weaves mainly two narrative voices together. The novel starts off with the narration of a text, and it reveals that this text is a tape-recorded story that an educated criminal is writing down from a tape. The criminal is a first person character. He writes down the recorded story of a narrator from the tape on one hand, he narrates his own narration on the other. The tape-recorded narration that the criminal is writing down and the criminal’s narration keep coming on alternately. Initially it seems that the narrative voice of the tape-recorded narration is the narrative voice of the novel. However, since the criminal is the first person character, his narrative voice is the narrative voice of the novel. The tape-recorded narration has occupied most of the pages of the novel. At a point, through the criminal, it is revealed that this narration’s narrator himself is a character who is a very old man.

This old man’s tape-recorded narration has five characters, which are from his imagination: an elderly man, a professor, a dentist, a young man and a young girl. The elderly man is a hard-core Hindu ideologist. The professor is an ardent champion of socialism. The dentist is a spiritualist. The young man is a software engineer. The young girl is a B.Com graduate who comes from a higher middle class family and has no aim in life. There is one more character in the tape-recorded text. He is a friend of the young software engineer. His name is Dayal. The old man says that he has not imagined Dayal’s character. Dayal once happens to go into seculsion. He finds seculsion interesting and starts maintaining diary to write about his experiences of seclusion. The old man takes inspiration from Dayal’s diary to send his five fictional characters into seclusion to enable them find their life-goals by themselves. The old man-cum-narrator finds places for his characters' seclusion, describes their secluded lives in detail and intermittently intersperses Dayal’s diary which not just reflects on seclusion but also criticises Indians and Indian society as a whole. Looking at the diverse backgrounds of these six characters, it seems the old man wants a complete picture of India for his experimentation.

The old man’s fictional characters appear flat, emotionless, like characters from a carton film, as if they are just samples of his experiment. Yet, at the same time, they appear authentic with the vivid delineations of their physical characteristics such as body structure, colour and voice. Some of them are evocative too, for instance, to describe the voice of the Hindu ideologist (the second uncle), the old man-cum-narrator says, "the second uncle’s speaking voice is as sweet as the Alphonso mango". Most characters do not belong to any particular place except the young software engineer, who belongs to Pune. There are ironical, sarcastic and critical remarks on the city of Pune in his characteristic incisive style which Shyam Manohar is well-known for.

Whenever Dayal’s diary appears, the tape-recorded tale gets a different narrative voice. And another time the Novel’s voice ruptures when a long story appears consuming almost nineteen pages of the novel. The old man-cum-narrator shows that the young girl is reading the story. The title of the story is the title of the novel. This story from the magazine is placed almost in the middle of the book. It gives a novel spatial symmetry. It is not just characters or events that ‘form’ the novel but mixing voices in a smooth and structured manner can ‘form’ the novel too. This story’s writer is none another than Dayal himself. However, it is shown that Dayal reveals this secret by mistake. Such arbitrariness in the novel creates a sense of detachment in the reader.

Voices of the criminal, the old man, and Dayal look prominent. Voices of the first two are clear right from the beginning while Dayal’s voice slowly emerges and becomes prominent in the end. These are the three characters who are used as vehicles to carry the main objectives of the novel. However, they look more like narrators than like characters.

At a point in the novel, the old man makes it clear that he fails to imagine his fictional characters achieve their aims by themselves. But he makes them have realisations instead. The Hindu ideologist realises ‘Faith lacks wisdom. The bhakti (devotion) has wisdom. Faith is incapable of inventing anything’. The professor realises ‘He does not have intelligence’. The young software engineer realises ‘Nothing about Physics makes his Physics teacher happy’. The young female graduate realises ‘I lack depth, I am superficial’. The spiritualist realises, ‘He is not spiritual’. Dayal realises ‘He is criticising all Indians’. These realisations look abrupt. However, it is to be noted that they are realisations or revelations but not conclusions or inferences.

The deconstruction of faith as part of realisation of the Hindu ideologist is a case. Let me reiterate the realisation: Faith lacks wisdom. The bhakti (devotion) has wisdom. The bhakti is the word that is used as synonymous with faith in India. Shyam Manohar seems to separate ‘the bhakti’ from ‘faith’, probably because the bhakti movement which was once established in India to fight against the fanaticism and ritualism of that era has itself become the fanaticism and ritualism of this era.

The criminal does not simply copy the narration. He reflects on the narration. He is shown as an educated criminal, a useful vehicle to examine the following possibilities:
1) People (pre) tend to be aspirants of high aims but end up in only fulfilling small aims.
2) Indians are cantankerous in nature. They quibble over small issues and criticise one another.
3) Such hypocritical society becomes a breeding ground for criminals, crimes and a venal society.

At a point in the novel when the old man happens to meet the criminal, he sadly confesses before him that he fails to make his characters achieve their aims. He weeps and feels sad
as he fails to bring any emotions to his characters. He gives a reason why he is unable to do so. And here it looks as if Shyam Manohar himself cites reasons why his characters in most of his novels appear emotionless. Following are a few of them:

‘All of them (all five characters) are sent to seclusion and they are mulling over issues other than family matters, so their emotions are not active’

‘In India a way of acquiring thoughts (opinions) and putting them across is being increasingly established’

‘Newspapers mostly have just thoughts (opinions), and most Indians read only newspapers.’

Here Shyam Manohar seems to make a point that Indians’ emotions are active only when it comes to family matters. He, perhaps, also wants to link emotions to the way Indians
think: Indians tend to give importance to acquiring thoughts (opinions) instead of letting them appear on their own. This means that Indians mostly know how put across only opinions. Is this because Indians like to have realisations but they do not like to come to inferences and somehow the kind of atmosphere or freedom that is needed to have realisations has very little presence in today’s India?

Even the old man’s characters have realisations but not inferences. In this regard, I have an observation that the Indian languages do not have any room or a facility for drawing inferences (no facility for make-believe game), which is clear from the fact that the Indian languages have dispensed with the use of the articles (‘a’ and ‘the’).

The technique of mixing narrative voices has its pros and cons. One disadvantage is clear: no emotional bonding. Characters look emotionless. However, it will be interesting to see whether it is the drawback of the experimental writing technique such as Shyam Manoahar’s or it is an essential narrative technique to examine Indians’ indifference to man’s fundamental questions.

Another disadvantage is that there is a high amount of arbitrariness. Characters are undermined. The objective is undermined. However, it is tough to say that Shyam Manohar’s narration loses its focus, though it tires to undermine the topic, and also the characters.

But such narrative technique gives Shyam Manohar maximum freedom, the greatest advantage. He uses most of it to give a new dimension to a character. The old man’s characters are unemotional. But he becomes emotional. Thus, the narrator himself looks emotional. The criminal is not like a villain; rather he appears an anti-villain when he saves the old man from burglars. He appears like a philosopher, when he raises such deeply fundamental questions:

“For hundreds of years man has been living with the help of religion, race, province, ideologies. Will man ever have to merely live or survive? Is there a mere living or survival?

For hundreds of years a criminal has been doing crimes with the help of religion, race, province, ideologies. Will a criminal ever have to do a mere crime? Is there a mere crime?”

The criminal who does not do any crime in the novel (rather saves the old man’s life) is a link between the failure of the old man’s characters and the high susceptibility of India to a venal civilisation. Only he is the one who brings Dayal in the end as a kind of denouement to give a hint with which this big Indian mess can be solved. The end, thus, tries to seek answers to these questions: How civilisation can have the place for the creation of fundamental knowledge? What is the role of imagination in knowing the universe, and in creating art and philosophy?

Such incessant philosophical pursuits have been interwoven in the narration in such a way that the reader is not supposed to leave them away ever.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Get an idea, please!

Perhaps, Raj Thackeray’s recent address to a rally in Aurangabad was his most restrained speech, though it did use very crude and uncivilised language. A few days ago, the Aurangabad police ruthlessly beat up his party’s legislator Harshawardhan Jadhav who had tried to run over a police van. The media hyped the issue expecting that Raj Thackeray would flare it up further. However, it didn’t happen. Even though his political opponent Uddhav Thakeary, leader of the Shivsena unexpectedly condemned the assault, Raj Thackeary kept calm. He simply called a rally in Aurangabad. After being asked by the media about his reaction to the assault, he told the media to wait until the rally. There was also news that the police warned him to avoid saying something that would incite his followers.

However, the much-hyped rally turned out to be a damp squib for those who had expected a sensational speech. He avoided being provocative, yet he was aggressive. Like an opportunist as he is always, he cleverly used the emotional support that Harshwardhan Jadhav had received from everyone. Calling the assault a conspiracy, he targeted NCP leaders R.R.Patil and Ajit Pawar. Referring directly to the removal of the statue of Dadoji Kondev, he lashed out at NCP for doing caste politics in Maharashtra.

‘Maharashtra is for the Marathi people, not for just the Maratha caste’, this is how he tried to shape his political agenda against the caste based politics. As he has been very successful in creating an image of a saviour of Marathi people, the repackaging of his political ideology in terms of “Marathi, not the Maratha” looks cleverly opportunistic.

He has always tried to make himself appear as a state-level leader. No one looks at him as an Indian leader. Though he has said that he has no intention to separate Maharashtra from India, Maharashtra is rapidly being perceived as a state of intolerant and xenophobic people. Thanks to the Thackeray family’s politics based on language. So it looks strange when Raj Thackeray lashes out at caste based politics. Caste politics polarises society, so does language based politics. India is so diverse that it is always vulnerable to sectarian politics. If Raj Thackeray fears that caste based politics divides Maharashtra, then it should also be noted that his language politics divides India. His criticism of caste politics, therefore, gives a screwed impression that the unity of Maharashtra needs to be achieved at the cost of “India”.

Now it is accepted that he wants to be the messiah of Maharashtra, I want Raj Thackeray to give an idea that should bind the Marathi people together. Can he look at the Marathi society as a whole? No matter however he is criticized for his seatrain politics, he certainly has an edge over other politicians as he has created an image of a leader who can represent the entire Marathi society. Now in order to sustain this image and to gain more credibility, he has to give Marathi people an idea that keeps them together. We hope that he will not follow the path of Hinduism as his uncle did switching from “Marathi” ideology to Hinduism. If he does the same, he will lose credibility as a leader of the entire Marathi society.

One of the eminent political analysts, Pratab Asabe says in an article that Raj Thackeary has created a bigger space for himself in the Maharashtra politics by making the NCP as his main opponent in addition to the Shivsena. But Partat Aasabe doesn’t criticise the manner in which Raj Thackeary has done it. Our journalists are shying away from criticising the crude and uncivilised language that Raj Thakceary uses to attack his opponents.

Pratab Asabe says that if a political party wants to rule the state, then it needs to establish itself a chief opponent of the ruling party. This is insightful. Raj Thackeray has realised that the NCP which is the major party in the coalition government in Maharashtra has to be his chief opponent, not simply the Shivsena. Being an astute politician, Raj Thackeary has understood that the image of the NCP is becoming a party for the Maratha people. That is why he has taken the clear stand to give himself a space in politics by directly attacking its caste based politics. Whether NCP does caste based politics is a different matter, however he has become successful in making that impression in his Aurangabad rally.

However, we need to notice that Raj Thakeray’s politics is established on the same kind of sectarian politics, if not directly caste based politics. His ideology of being the messiah of the Marathi people is, at the moment, his advantage. Thanks to the current political chaos. In Maharashtra, no politician or political party, including the Congress, can directly attack his political ideology, because two major parties, the NCP and the Shivena, are simply local parties, though they try to appear as national parties. Despite being a nataional party, the congress in Maharashtra is not strong enough to take on Raj Thackeary’s sectarian tactics.

However, it does not mean that Raj Thackeary’s political re-packaging in terms of “Marathi, not the Maratha” will work. The Marathi language is not enough to bind Marathi people together. Caste based identities in India are much stronger than the language based identities. Telengana should be a good example of this.

Raj Thackeary needs to give Marathi people a better idea than “Marathi, not the Maratha”. Our politicians do not have imagination power. They do not have ideas. They need to speak well. They need to improve on language skills. They should develop good oratory skills. Raj Thackeary’s recent speech was not civilised.

In order to emerge and to creat a poltical space, our politicians simply become demagogues appealing to the emotions and the prejudices of people. They simple criticise one another. They use a crude language. They present themselves as very bitter and nasty enemies of one another.

Dear Raj, we expect a lot from you. What you need is a better imagination, get an idea please!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Raman Effect: the beginning and the end of Indian science.

Our Prime Minister addressed the 98th Indian Science Congress on 3 January 2011. While I was looking over its text, I stumbled upon a fact that he pointed out: “While C.V.Raman won the Nobel Prize eighty years ago for the Raman Effect, most of the instruments available in India today using this principle are imported. This is not an isolated example and many of our outstanding scientific discoveries have been converted into marketable products by technologies and firms based abroad.”

This is really appalling and shows how backward we are in the matter of science and technology. Prime Minister has also said that we need more Ramans and Ramanujans. Thanks to our Prime Minister. Someone has finally remembered C.V.Raman, the greatest Indian brain ever in the field of science. It is really important to remember them in the days when personalities like Dr. A.P.J. Abul Kalam and others are unnecessarily given the status of great scientists. They are given the status larger than life. Here I do not want to undermine their contribution. They are eminent personalities, but certainly not great scientists.

The point is why we have only C.V.Raman as a home grown Nobel Prize winner in science. Sir C.V. Raman won the Noble Prize in 1930. So in the eighty years we don’t have a single scientific discovery as great as C.V. Raman’s. We boast of I.I.Ts, but nothing great has happened also in the field of technology, which is clear from the fact that most remarkable Indian scientific discoveries are converted into products outside India. On one hand we do not have great scientific discoveries after the Raman Effect; we have not produced any great technology on the other. Our performance in the field of science and technology is extremely lacklustre. If I am not digressing, I must say that even in the field management, we have not discovered a single management theory which is so great that the world has to emulate it.

We generally tend to blame polity, bureaucracy and education system for our mediocre scientific progress. But this is barking up the wrong tree. We should blame ourselves for the fact that we have never given importance to pure science.

Shyam Manohar, noted Marathi writer’s latest novel has a character who is a software engineer, who happens to read an autobiography of his physics teacher. To his surprise, in the autobiography he does not find even a single mention of pleasure that his teacher finds in anything related to physics. This disturbs him. He wonders why his teacher does not have a single pleasurable experience related to physics to mention in his autobiography. He becomes introspective and starts looking back whether he ever had any moment of happiness during the years of his education. He remembers that when he was in 12th standard class, learning polarisation of light was the moment of happiness. He realises that as India always has given more importance to technology than to pure science, doing career in pure science has never occurred to people like him.

He finds that with the arrival of technology in India, achievements and financial growth became important. The fact that no one has realised the importance of pure science in India strikes him. ‘Nehru met Einstein, but Nehru championed technology in stead of pure science.’

However, our progress in the field of technology is also mediocre. The reason lies in our indifference to pure science. Shyam Manohar once said in an interview that we call physics a subject not a branch of knowledge. This clearly shows our indifference to fundamental questions. We have never looked at pure science as a source of knowledge, in turn as a source of technology. This exists everywhere, in all our Indian unversitites and institutions including our elite institues like Indian Institue Of Technology. Remember they are institues of technology not science. Even the goverment does not want institues of pure science. Great ideas are born in the attempts of solving fundamental and abstract questions. Unless and untill we bring about a change in our attitude to fundamental and abstract questions, we may have hunderds of I.I.Ts., nothing will make a difference. They will simply act as PLACEMENT AGENCIES, the way most parents today simply look at them. They hardly want their child to be the Raman of India today. They simply want him or her to be a technocrat who will be a highly paid 'servant' of some American and European and now Chinese multinational company.

C.V. Raman won the Noble Prize, with a simple instrument barely worth Rs. 300. Today very expensive instruments are needed for inventions. We do not have them, because we do not have technology. And we do not have technology, because we have never given importance to pure science.

It was a great beginning for Indian science, when C.V. Raman discovered the great Raman Effect. Sadly it is also becoming the end of Indian science.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sculptures are not statues...........

It was a sad moment for art, when the Pune municipal corporation removed the sculpture of Dadoji Kondev. The sculpture was sadly made the symbol of the perception that it is the conspiracy of one caste to show its supremacy over the other to call Dadoji Kondev the guru of Shavaji Maharaj.

The sculpture of Dadoji Kondev was a sculpture, not a statue. Historians may have a dispute over certain historical facts and perceptions, but art is not history and sculptures are not statues.

This may be true that Dadoji Kondev was not the guru of Shivaji Maharaj. It may be a historical mistake of holding him as the guru of Shivaji Maharaj. But interpreting the historical mistake as a conspiracy of a caste to show its supremacy over the other is a perception but not the fact. And using an artist’s sculpture as the symbol of this perception is not only absurd but also deplorable.

Have we lost the intellectual ability to understand the difference between “perceptions” and “facts”, “art” and “history”? Let us assume for a moment that some historians deliberately cooked up the facts as part of the so called conspiracy. But the artist who had made the sculpture was not a historian. So it can not be said that he made the sculpture to support the conspiracy.

There was no need to use the sculpture to symbolise the perceived conspiracy. Without removing the sculpture, the fact could have been brought out to people. In stead of removing the sculpture, the corporation could have placed a written declaration alongside the sculpture: ‘Dadoji Kondev was not the guru of Shivaji Maharaj, therefore Dadoji’s gesture as shown in the sculpture does not have to represent him as the guru of Shivaji Maharaj.

However, those who opposed the statue were not interested in simply bringing out the fact that Dadoji was not the guru of Shivaji Maharaj. They were also interested in making their perception appear as a fact. In the process, the sculpture was made a scapegoat for historians’ mistake showing disrespect to the artist and his art.