Decolonisation: More responses

  1. My response to Wildavsky appeared in Global Higher Ed blog at http://globalhighered.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/decolonising-our-universities-time-for-change/
  2. The conversation in the Sun has been updated to 15 Sep 2011, at http://ckraju.net/blog/?p=61.
  3. The response to EPW appeared in EPW 46(34) 20 Aug 2011. This seriously modified my original response, which was as follows.

My talk at the Penang conference on “Decolonising our Universities” was misreported by Srinivas Ramani (Economic and Political Weekly, 23 July, 2011). Hard sciences are critical for the project of decolonisation: Macaulay pointed to them and, even today, it is the desire for science and technology (not Western social science) which is still used to promote Western education. Decolonisation, therefore, will not work if it is restricted to social sciences.

My point about the mathematics curriculum is reduced by Ramani to a simplistic agenda to restore Indian tradition, though I pointed to Indian traditions and Islam only to show the non-universality of Western metaphysics. This misreporting undermines the gravity of the matter. A pro-Christian religious bias in present-day formal mathematics means its teaching is unconstitutional both in secular countries like India, and in Muslim countries. So, the mathematics curriculum ought to be immediately changed in schools and universities across those countries. Concrete curriculum changes, backed by teaching experiments, detailed in my paper. I even explained the religious bias in the 2+2=4 of formal math, since pleading ignorance of math to refer these changes to Western-endorsed “experts” is a colonial trap, and also involves a conflict of interests. So the matter be decided by public debate.

False history of science helped Macaulay to institute indoctrination through colonial education. Therefore, the critical first step towards decolonisation is to pull down this false history of science, still in our school texts. This thesis about the systematic falsification of history and its use as an instrument of “soft power” to establish and maintain colonialism was misreported by Ramani as a series of personal attacks on individuals (some who don’t even exist).

The religious bias in Western math crept into physics thorough Newton’s metaphysical notion of time (arising from his misunderstanding of the Indian calculus imported to Europe), and my suggested curriculum change in physics was to teach functional differential equations, which arise when Newton’s mistake is corrected. Einstein never understood this point about relativity lifelong, though Poincare did. To avoid the colonial trap of banking on “expert” opinion, it is necessary to explain this to laypersons. That requires us to get into the issue of Einstein’s personal credibility, which is very thin. Further, my actual question was about the truth of the proposition E=F (Einstein=Fraud), but about the processby which its truth is decided (emphasis original). Colonial education ensures widespread scientific illiteracy so that people decide valid science by blind trust in Western scientific authority, which entails subservience. So, for decolonisation, it is necessary expose this authority, and a superb example of its persistent failure for a century is provided by its approval of Einstein’s mistake about functional differential equations. Thus, I made no ad hominem fallacy; instead, Ramani’s misunderstanding reflects a colonised mindset which fallaciously guesses that the West could not have made such a serious mistake. That mindset is what the conference aimed to change.

A fuller explanation, with references, is online at http://ckraju.net/papers/rejoinder-epw.html.

Leave a Reply