Friday, October 24, 2008

Marx, Gandhi and Social Transformation: Excellent Lecture at KU

Today, at the Kakatiya University, there was an Endowment Lecture , a tribute to my late grandfather Sri Pamulaparthy Sadasiva Rao garu. The guest presiding over this year (this being the 3rd yr) of the occasion was Prof. J V Raghavendra Rao (Prof of Sociology), Professor Emeritus of Osmania University.

The speech consisted of 3 sections, 1) On Marx as a revolutionary social transformer, 2) On Gandhi as a reformatory social transformer and 3) A critical analysis of today's relevance of Gandhi(ians) and (ism).
Speaking on relevance of Marx's theory in present day, Prof Rao quoted examples of Cuba (where there is no unemployement and illiteracy!!!) and Venezuela (improved employment and reduction in poverty in last 2 years) as s0me examples where there has been remarkable application of the "humanistic" principles of the anti-burgeose (read anti-capitalist).
On Gandhi, while speaking at it, an interesting and a new point was noted by Prof. Rao on the concept of Satyagraha. Besides the basic components like Fast, Hartal (Strike), Non-cooperation, and Civil Disobedience, the Prof emphasized an additional component of "Constructive" programme. While at it, he claimed that Gandhi was the first to start "Indian Universities" in British India and was inspiration to the likes of Malviya and others who started the Benares Hindu University. Henry David Thoreau's influence on Gandhi's thought was quoted by the Professor a couple of times and he expressed the opinion that like Thoreau, Gandhi felt Government should not interfere too much into the people's lives.
On the appraisal of Gandhi's present day stance, Prof Rao, had deliberated a concluding section with more debate like questions, perhaps to leave the audience to keep thinking about. However, he made clear remarks and quite intriguing too, that Gandhi was a philosophical anarchist and Gandhi's conception of the state was incorrect.
On the whole in his concluding remarks, the Professor had profusely and sincerely stated that Gandhi's "means-and-ends" relationship causing moral and spiritual elevation of man and that Gandhi is relevant now more than ever before.

The rhetoric was astounding and the Professor seemed to be very Objective in the analysis of both the immortal figures. The references and examples cited in the speech were extremely well chosen and ranged from historical books to recent newspaper articles, showing how much scientific he was in his approach. It was a total delight to get to hear someone with a charisma like that of the Professor, by being in the front row of the audience.

Here are a few pics of the Prof being felicitated on this occasion:

-Siddartha Pamulaparty
Dt: 24/October/2008.