Wednesday, September 14, 2011

KTWV 12 Issue 5: Vir Sanghvi on Mani Shankar Aiyar

Although I have great regard for Vir Sanghvi, I must take issue with him when he headed his recent piece - "Parallax View: University fundamentalism is no different from religious fundamentalism". 

Belonging to any club, society, hobby group (philatelists, numatists, etc., bears exactly the same conotations as belonging to an alumni chapter. I could rate him belonging to a "foodie" group on the same parallel of Foodie Fundamentalism to Religious Fundamentalism.

There are literally hundreds of alumni chapters of alma maters spread around the globe. (I think Vir Sanghvi's Mill Hill School in London has a very active alumni association.)  

I remember asking my friends to become a member of their alumni association, being a money making proposition on the internet in the mid nineties. I did try my hand at that!

It has absolutely nothing to bring it on par with religious fundamentalism. It is related to man's basic need to be part of a social group with which one can identify oneself and one's interests. 

Religious fundamentslism is about usurping power with deception to control the masses.

In this process of alumni bonding, there has to be a catalyst. 

I started my online webletters to my alumni colleagues in the mid nineties because of a very personal experience. 

With the advent of the internet, it was fun to go through the hundreds of search engines (prior to the advent of Google) to see if one could track down old friends. In 1996 I hit the jackpot when I traced a long lost friend, him in California and me in the European Arctic, our roots, Indian. Within a short pace of a few months we were having a whale of a time exchanging notes about our lives after we had parted.

Then one day he told me to put him on hold as he had got a match and was going for a kidney transplant. He never came back!

That day I vowed to re-establish contacts with all my past friends so that we could share our appreciation of each other. In 2009 we held the 50th reunion of our school classmates, and it was if not a day had passed since we went our different ways. 

We paid tribute to those that were no more, gave comfort to those who had been left behind by them, and revelled in each others success. Classmates, and their spouses, assembled in Mumbai from USA, Canada, Malaysia, Finland, UK, and those that could not join us from Germany, Australia, were there in spirit.

This had nothing to do with fundamentalism. It had everything to do with friendships and bonds built by us having been in close proximity with each other, not only in the classroom but also on the sports playing fields.  Not only were we friends, but we shared our parents. Many of our children were also friends. We were a community with common interests in our nostalgic past. There was no power politics or fundamentalism involved.

I definitely take umbrage at the spin put on University comradeship by Vir Sanghvi - he certainly got this one wrong. And Mani Shankar Aiyar (and yet another Stephanian of my time - Arun Shourie) certainly do not represent the views of Stephanians . Exceptions prove the rule.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

have you read the transcript of sanghvis chat with nira radia?