Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I have been thinking, very deeply, about your adverse feelings towards your Masters program at your university.  I agree, that many theories, and what is taught, is not always correct.  That "ground" realities are not taken into account, that very, very smart and capable people, mess things up.  That is all true.  But the main point of studying is not the content, necessarily.  There are of course imperfections in the process, but the point is - the process.  The evolving conversation of what is true, and how to apply it.  

There is a HUGE divide between those who make policy and those who suffer from them.  Most people with "ground" reality, who have deep insight into how things really are, rarely have access to circles of power, and if they do, often do not have the tools to communicate it.  You are getting that chance.  

University education, in America, at least, has evolved over the past 40 years to include more people, and give them the tools of argumentation, both in terms of assessment and making arguments.  

It is this process that you must master.  Without this imperfect process, there's anarchy and nothing else.    

Some very concrete goals you need to have for yourself:  You need to write what you feel is true and be able to get assessment from leading scholars in the field.  That feedback is priceless and that is not always based on the content but how you frame your arguments.  It's good writing plus good research, skills that are necessary in whatever you do.  For good writing is what leads to good thinking.  You also need to get to the point of being able to publish an article, write op-ed pieces, in a convincing way.  You also need to be familiar with the pre-dominant theories to understand the mind-set of the outsider, in dealing with them.  Just saying it's Western, or White, or because they are not Indian, is not enough.  You need to attack their ideas, not their identity.  

My good friend , who is Lebanese, suffered similar problems in the beginning.  He had just come from the 2006 war and sitting in a class about theories seemed so frivolous.  Its easy, when we have direct experience, or when we have suffered, to just say everything is about power and money and might.  If you believe that, why study at all?  Isn't knowledge power?    Aren't we in a knowledge economy?  Knowledge is the motor.  What you are mistaking, is the content for the process.  Theories, most of them are wrong, but the courage and work in putting one together, does move mountains.  India would be nowhere without nationalism, and those ideas, and Pakistan would probably not exist if Jinnah wasn't so deeply moved by john stuart mill's "On Liberty" which argues forcefully about the plight of minorities in a democracy.

Everything you do, every action, the ancestor of it, is an idea.  

So go back now, but be positive and focus on writing and expressing your truth to those white fuckers.  And they will be open to it, they always want to be proven wrong and are open to criticism.  You needn't see the game as rigged, as see all sources as bias, and everyone brain-washed.  And you can't just say it without giving specific examples, and dissecting arguments, and persuading someone.  Right now you are not persuasive at all.  You are acting like a thug.  The essence of your argumentation is:  I am indian, I know ground realities, I have my classified courses, I just know and you don't because you don't know india, are american, are white, are western brain-washed.  Thats just rubbish.  How does one respond to that?  The argument is over before it began.  You shut down all discussion.   


That's it, please don't take this the wrong way, and please don't laugh this off or make fun of my concern.  Your doing this impressed me beyond belief.  It made me see you as someone who is more than just money and business.  Someone who believes in a truth and wants to contribute to making the world better.  You can write my feelings off to me being "weird", but trust me, I am not weird.  I feel much, much more confident in introducing you to people, and collaborating with you, knowing you are going through the process we all went through.  I just want to see you make the most of it.  

My love to you,


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