This product is a little different. It is a book but also a lot more. You may ask why write about a book on this platform that does not belong to the mundane biz environment. Well, there are more than one answers to this question. Let us understand the perspective.
Businesses in India have flourished mostly on western models. Ever since Independence, both Western and Indian entrepreneurs looked at Indian market from a perspective that was essentially foreign to Indian culture and ethos. As a consequence, the market grew on borrowed thought. This fundamental flaw led to kind of a forced market where products were designed, produced and sold without proper knowledge of the requirements.
In my view, this is one of the factors that resulted in stunted growth of Indian market.
True that some efforts were made to present a model that was “swadeshi”. But, such models too were ensconced in western thought process where consumer was seen from an individual perspective. It lacked the the Indian idea of interdependent production cycle where businesses were run on the concept of Artha (prosperity) and Kama (desire), solid distribution chain well interspersed with societal fabric and a huge social framework that ensured rise and growth based on merit and talent.
Even after Independence western world realised that to tap Indian market, one needs to understand her sociology and culture. Hence, many ‘seats of learning’ were established and all sorts of ‘studies’ were floated — some were genuine while a lot of them were bogus. This compounded the problem and hence what we witness today is hotchpotch Indian market that does not stand on strong philosophical and cultural moorings. Market continue to grow uneven and in an inequitable manner.
The book explores the battle between Western and traditional approaches to Sanskrit and Sanskriti (civilization). It exposes the dominant Western scholarship, in particular its subversive allegation that the Sanskrit heritage has been a political weapon for social oppression. Without adequate critical inquiry, Indian English-language elites have internalized such lopsided ideas and enshrined them in various mainstream institutions.
Controversial and thought-provoking, the book proposes a set of debates for the intellectual kurukshetra (battlefield) pertaining to the social, political, historical and contemporary dimensions of Indian Sanskrit. It is intended as a wake-up call to the traditionalists and seeks to inspire a home team to pursue such debates.
The tentative cover of the book contains a controversial plaque of Sir William Jones displayed at the antechapel of University College, Oxford as the compiler of Hindu laws with Hindu pundits sitting at his feet. Jones was a pioneer of British Indology.
In the contemporary times, the centre of Indology has shifted to America. The book is about the battle between the outsider perspective of the American academia on one hand and the insider perspective of the Indian tradition on the other. It must be qualified that ‘outsider’ does not bear an ethnic or national connotation, even Indians can be outsiders and foreigners be insiders. It is determined by the lens that a person uses to look at Sanskrit. For an outsider, Sanskrit is a dying tradition, highly oppressive of women, minorities and marginalised sections of the society and a political means of retaining the hegemony of priests, landlords and merchants. On the other hand, for an insider, it is alive in his/her daily routine, sense of community, philosophical and moral landscapes. It liberates one’s mind from mundane prejudices, ego, illusion, lust for power, wealth and indulgence and other exploitative tendencies. It is a sacred tradition of seers, who possess impeccable characters and profound insights, no trace of self-worship, but only desire for enlightenment and welfare of the society.
Coming from an Indian-American researcher, writer and speaker, the book will surely add a fresh dimension to ongoing “Insider” v. “Outsider” debate and would provide a solid platform to understand the various perspectives in a better manner.