Friday November 16, 2018
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Indians in Malaysia should use three canons: Indian scholar

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Photo: http://www.daytodaygk.com

by Rama Ramanathan

Malaysia: I’ve lost count of the number of Tamil newspapers in Malaysia. Occasionally I buy a Tamil paper. I seldom buy the same masthead twice in a row. This allows me to get a sense of what each masthead reports, the tone it uses, and its depth of coverage.

They cover socio-economic developments in Tamil Nadu, and in the rest of India. They also report news about Indian movie stars and singers.

The Tamil papers are valued by many Indian businessmen in Malaysia, both Hindus and Muslims. The death notices are also valued by readers.

Since there are so many Tamil papers, each one has limited circulation and, therefore, limited resources. Their reporters are concentrated in the big cities; they depend on stringers, so there is little first-hand Malaysia news.

When I’m in India, I often read the newspapers. Every day there is some mention of caste. On my last trip to New Delhi, I read about the Jat caste in Haryana state – they rioted and destroyed property to press their claims for more seats in institutions of higher learning and in government – called “reservations” in Indian English.

In Malaysian Tamil papers, I do not recall reading reports or discussions of caste. It seems Malaysian Tamils have overcome a still-common feature of society in India.

Professor R K Jain – whom I mentioned in my previous article – says Malaysian Tamils offer “a message for India: in [the] caste war the tables are turned through socio-economic and political mobility of the traditionally downtrodden without . . . caste enhancing . . . political bait of Reservations for the Dalits [the ‘untouchables’].”

After seeing my previous article, Jain sent me his most recent analysis of the Malaysian Indian over-representation in the catalogues of misery. His analysis is structured around three key words: ascription, aspiration and achievement.

Ascription” means attributing something to a cause.

Jain draws on social and anthropological studies of Indians in Malaysia, including his own work. He says the evidence says the cause of income and wealth inequality amongst Hindu Indians in Malaysia is not the Hindu caste system (as in India with its riots and reservations), but in class. Kudos to Malaysian Indians!

Aspiration” means ambition, the hope of achieving something.

The aspiration of Malaysian Indians is to reduce the incidence of gangsterism, chronic disease, slum-dwelling, etc. Jain warns Malaysian Indians not to think like a persecuted ethnic group or minority (often based on gossip and perceptions). He urges them instead to look for and latch onto chances for betterment, for instance in the 11th Malaysia Plan.

Achievement” doesn’t need definition.

Jain notes that Malaysian Indians have contributed beyond their numerical strength to Malaysia’s present success. He adds that though they have succeeded in defining themselves as “Malaysian,” they are still Indian. He urges them to network inter-ethnically with Malaysia-based and India-based businessmen to conduct business.

Jain, ever the scholar and sociologist, suggests a framework for analysis.

After noting that Malaysian Indians have “creatively destroyed” the stifling caste features inherited from their Hindu ancestry, he urges them to use “the canons of social scientific comparison and contextualization” to chart the way forward.

He recommends a three-component framework of analysis attributed to Max Weber (1864-1920), a renowned sociologist and political economist:

Market forces (for life chances or opportunities in the economy).
Status considerations (the choices of life-styles, in other words, consumption and culture), and
The play of power (as in the negotiations of political processes).
I find the framework attractive because it is neither overtly religious nor political.

It takes account of market forces, just as business and government policies do. It acknowledges personal responsibility for life-style choices which may hamper or hurry the process of rising from the ashes. It recognizes the need to leverage power.

Those who are active in working to reduce income inequality in Malaysia can learn from Jain: are you using the cannons of provocation? If yes, Stop! Are you using canons of sociology? If no, Begin!

The next time I read a Tamil newspaper, I’ll evaluate it using the Weberian canons.

(The article was first published in hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)

Next Story

Special Hindu Religious Education Program Starts In Sydney, Australia

HCA will provide Hindu SRE classes in a further six high schools in the Sydney area and will continue to expand the program over the coming years.

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Australian Census
Hindus in Australia have increased since 2011 Census. Wikimedia

By Madya Lila

On the auspicious occasion of Dusshera, Hindu Council of Australia began its first Hindu Special Religious Education (SRE) program at Sydney Girls High School. Genedine Sionillo, a volunteer teacher from the Australian School of Meditation & Yoga led the class which was very well received by all the students. They especially enjoyed Genedine’s introduction to Bhagavad Gita. The SRE classes at Sydney Girls High School will continue each Friday for the remainder of the school term.

What is SRE?

Special religious education (SRE) is the beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion delivered by authorised representatives of that persuasion. It is the distinctive religious tenets and beliefs of the home and family, provided by the churches and other religious groups for children of parents expressing the desire that they receive such teaching.

The NSW Government, through legislation and related policy, recognises the diversity of Australian society and supports parental choice in educating children about their faith. The delivery of Special Religious Education (SRE) is managed by religious persuasions, which are approved as SRE providers by the Department of Education.

Hindu
The Hindu Council of Australia is registered as an authorised provider of SRE with the NSW Department of Education.

SRE is mandated by the Education Act (1990) and gives parents the choice to have children formed in the faith of their family. Section 32 of the Education Act says that ‘In every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion.’

The provision of SRE is not funded by government.

The Hindu Council of Australia is registered as an authorised provider of SRE with the NSW Department of Education.

Hindu
Hinduism, religion

In 2019, HCA will provide Hindu SRE classes in a further six high schools in the Sydney area and will continue to expand the program over the coming years.

Also Read: Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

If you would like to volunteer to teach Hindu SRE classes, or if you would like to sponsor the cost of teaching materials please contact at sre@hinducouncil.com.au.

This Article was first published on the website of Hindu Council Of Australia.