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Upanishads As the Key to Peace


Atul Mishra


By Sarup Prasad Ghosh
K.P. Bagchi and Company, Kolkata, 2013, pp. xv 351, price not stated.

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 7 July 2014

It is often noted that International Rela- tions in India does not have a culture of meaningful internal criticism. Groups of scholars may occasionally comment on policy implications of one another’s work, but scholarly criticisms that are fruitful for new knowledge are hard to find. Why? Some fault tardy work ethics of scholars; others blame the disrepair of institutions. These are important reasons. But a basic problem is of how many of us conceptualize the field. Many in India take IR to be the domain where several excesses of thought about human affairs outside the state can be committed.The ‘international’, the ‘global’, the ‘world’ and the ‘foreign’ mean similar things to them. They come equipped with the license to ‘think’ about the ‘world order’ and ‘global issues’. The enormity of their subject matter does not give them the responsibility to be rigorous. Their unregulated minds produce shoddy pieces of writing that affect the training of students who read them. The book reviewed here is an example of such writing. We appear to think of big things in shallow ways. And it shows.   The book is poorly conceptualized; this is its basic but not the only flaw. The reader does not quite understand if it is about Swami Vivekananda’s international thought or about India’s foreign policy. There is a stark disconnect between its loose title and its empty subtitle. Given that Vivekananda died much before even the contours of an ‘Indian’ foreign policy had emerged, you wonder if the author really wants to present an account of how the monk understood the modern world and India’s potential contribution to that world as a modernizing civilization. But even here, the book’s ambitious self-description evades clarity. It seeks to ‘bring out’ Vivekananda’s visualization of the role of Vedanta in decision making on foreign affairs. It also tries to foreground his views on problems facing inter-state affairs. Moreover, it tries to show the ‘connection’ and ‘contradiction’ between the ‘concepts’ of Vivekananda and the ideas of the political leaders of the modern age. Finally, it tries to show how Vivekananda’s ideas can help solve problems of inter-state affairs!   The author emphasizes the ‘close relations’ of Vivekananda’s ideas with different branches of social sciences and is identified as an ‘orator of repute’ who delivers ‘special lectures on topics related to Social Science’. Four of the five chapters ...


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