Category Archives: politics

The cows are back.

Housekeeper Kareena went out to do the grocery shopping yesterday morning and came back empty-handed. The shops and produce stands were all shut up. It was the latest development in the strife between the Dalits and the Hindu Nationalists.

I can’t really say more than that without revealing my ignorance and no doubt also over-simplifying one of the many complex and interrelated issues troubling this country with so many cultures, languages, and religions clashing and blending and layering over the centuries. I know little about it but now I am living in it for a time. It feels like a lot of excitement for only my first week.

The photo above shows some Dalit demonstrators in our neighborhood, the only thing happening in the emptied streets. Tom took this one, and it is blurry because he didn’t want to get too close to the action.

He and I had been planning to buy lunch out before going to visit Baby Boy and his mom, but all of the  eateries were closed, too, so we ate some leftovers from last week, and then walked back to the hospital.

I had become familiar with this intersection from our trips to the hospital over the last couple of days. The same man was constant in roasting sweet potatoes on the corner near our apartment building, and at the side of the road across the street from the hospital, several cows always stood with their keepers in two groups, three cows and two cows.

But the sweet potato roaster was not to be seen, and even the cows were gone. Rickshaw drivers slept in their vehicles, shopkeepers slept outside their shops, and for the first time I had to walk around a man sleeping on the sidewalk. The street in the picture below is normally filled with hundreds of cars, rickshaws and pedestrians all flowing around each other in close and chaotic streams.

By the end of the day someone in power had met for talks with the police, and the Dalits called off further protests. I have been too busy holding a baby to read much about the situation (This is the article I am starting with), but we were all glad that last night the shops had opened again, and this morning the shopping got done and we now have spinach paneer and chicken tikka masala in the house, with fresh chapatis. The cows are back in their place.

On our walk home from the hospital after dark, the neighborhood church was in the middle of serving food to the poor. Its Light and its lights had not stopped shining for even one day.

ST church lights

Jacobs on Scruton and platforms.

Alan Jacobs thinks and writes on every topic imaginable. Not long ago he published The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography, which I think would be fascinating.  Before that, it was The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. I’ve mostly been listening to him on Mars Hill audio interviews for a couple of decades, but more recently I like to read his blog Text Patterns on The New Atlantis.

This morning his brief article quoting and responding to Roger Scruton’s new book provided a refreshing take, by each of them in different ways, on a old and wearying phenomenon. Here are a couple of paragraphs:

In the new edition of his book on the modern Left, which I review here, Roger Scruton writes,

Occasional lip service is paid to a future state of ‘emancipation’, ‘equality’ or ‘social justice’. But those terms are seldom lifted out of the realm of abstractions, or subjected to serious examination. They are not, as a rule, used to describe an imagined social order that their advocates are prepared to justify. Instead they are given a purely negative application. They are used to condemn every mediating institution, every imperfect association, every flawed attempt that human beings might have made, to live together without violence and with due respect for law.

Like Scruton and most other old-school conservatives, I believe that healthy mediating institutions are essential to a healthy society. And I think he is right in noting how relentlessly the Left attacks such institutions. But international capitalism does too, because every healthy mediating institution, by providing security and fellowship and belonging to its members, reduces its members’ dependence for their flourishing on what can be bought and sold. Neither the Left nor the Market want to see such institutions flourish, though their hostility sometimes stems from different agendas.

I’m usually allergic to generalizations in these matters, but let me risk a big generalization: I think what we have seen and will continue to see in our social order is the fragmentation of institutions and their effective replacement by platforms.

When I saw the word platforms I thought of the abstraction of a political platform, but that’s not what Jacobs is referring to. His meaning surprised me, but shouldn’t have. Read the rest of the article here.