Chronicles of the carnal

The newest entrant to explore the deep ocean that is desire is Gurcharan Das. With this book, he has completed the trilogy that comprises India Unbound (about worldly wealth or artha), and The Difficulty of Being (about virtue or dharma). Kama: The Riddle of Desire speaks of sensual gratification or kama and concludes the author’s tryst with the three purusarthas (the aims of a human life) that lead to the attainment of the fourth and final purusartha: Moksha (liberation).


Isaiah Berlin, the Oxford philosopher used to say, “Men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals.” This is good advice in these troubled times when our minds on the sub-continent are so obsessed with war that all other thoughts have been crowded out. No positive goal of Berlin's, I believe, is more worthy of debate than the quality of the education that we are imparting to our young. Ever since the draft paper on the national education policy came out, the debate across the country has been hijacked by the secularists who rightly see subversive designs in the saffronisation of education. All attempts to give colour to education—whether saffron or Marxist—are bad, but the real problem is that in the process important issues relating the imparting of excellence and the intellectual development of the human personality have been lost.


A few years ago, as a result of an unbelievable mix-up, I found myself at a party of middle-class youngsters in Delhi, mostly between 13 and 17 years old. Instead of making a quiet exit, I decided to stay, and make the most of it. The first thing I noticed at this teenage party is that the boys and girls were in separate corners. The boys were bragging and talking about adventurous things. The girls were giggling, speaking about clothes, gossiping about boys, and nervously sucking on Pepsi straws.


Today is the first day of the twenty-first century and a good time to take stock.   The ascent of a country from poverty to prosperity, from tradition to modernity is a great and fascinating enterprise. India has recently emerged as a vibrant, free market democracy after the economic reforms and it has begun to flex its muscles in the global information economy. The old centralised, bureaucratic state, which killed our industrial revolution over the past fifty years, has begun a subtle but definite decline.