Thursday, May 21, 2015

An irritating nurse - II

Once when I asked the nurse to turn the page of a book, she muttered something under her breath that sounded like, 'Why can't this guy just lie down quietly?' After that, I stopped asking her to turn pages. I would read the two pages in front of me and sit quietly. After half an hour, she may turn the page. If she did, I read; otherwise, I didn't. During such times of simple living and high thinking, my favorite pastime was how best to bore you in my next post. So you can blame this nurse for some of your miseries.

The nurse had the habit of saying one thing when people were around and muttering the opposite thing under her breath when she was alone. For example , she will say to people that she had learned my system of communication quickly while the reality was very different. She seemed to temporarily think that I was deaf and couldn't communicate anything to anybody. At these times, I will quietly continue doing whatever I had been engaged in, pretending that I didn't hear anything while she will be sitting with a brilliant smile as becomes the victor in a battle of wits.

She seemed to be the perfect example of the cliché  - a bad carpenter blames his tools. If she couldn't remember where she kept a towel, she blamed the towel; if some piece of clothing that she had put out to dry flew away in the breeze because she had not fastened it with a clip, she blamed the clothing. If she spilled some feeding or urine, she blame my cough even though I had been lying quietly.

Once she spilled urine all over my pant because she had not kept the can properly. At this time, I was lying on the bed and the so the nurse didn't have to call anyone to shift me. She struggled on her own to remove my pants and wipe me clean. I told Jaya about the incident when the nurse was not in the room. We knew she would blame my non-existent cough which was exactly what she did later when she described her struggles in making me clean. Jaya pretended as if she was hearing about the incident for the first time and said, 'Really? You should have called me to help!' I did my best to look on impassively.

When Sujit was discharged from the hospital, I asked Jaya to get the nurse changed. It was the first time I had made such a request. There had been other nurses too who had some similar characteristics but this nurse had them all to a much greater degree. In A damsel in Distress, P.G. Wodehouse wrote:
The gift of hiding private emotion and keeping appearances before strangers is not, as many suppose, entirely a product of our modern civilization...Of all the qualities  which belong exclusively to Man and are not shared by the lower animals, this surely is the one which marks him off most sharply from the beasts of the field.
Animals care nothing about keeping up appearances.  Observe Bertram the Bull when things are not going just as he could wish.  He stamps.  He snorts.  He paws the ground.He throws back his head and bellows. He is upset, and he doesn't care who knows it.  
As long as this nurse was around, there was always the danger that I might forget my better nature and decide that Bertram the Bull had the right idea.


Monday, May 11, 2015

An irritating nurse - I

Sometime back, I had a nurse  who the agency said was very experienced, had looked after quadriplegic patients and would be able to look after all the needs of the patient without trouble. All agencies say this so not much confidence could be placed on it. The part about experience was not very reassuring because rarely had a nurse handled a quadriplegic who could not speak so any experience would have had limited relevance.

The first and foremost problem with her was that she was never able to understand my basic communication of one blink for 'yes' and no blinks for 'no'. When I indicated that I wanted something, she would ask whether it was about pillow, hand, fan, etc. but was unable to understand what I was saying. She would randomly adjust various things which would make matters worse till my eloquent eyes discouraged further investigations.

I always want the nurses to close the door when my motion is being cleaned. This nurse would often forget it in spite of being told to do so numerous times. On one such occasion, when she forgot to close the door, I kept turning my head towards the door and making some croaking sounds. She understood that it was about the door and kept insisting that she had closed and bolted it which I could see wasn't the case. All she had to do was to turn and look at the door and the mystery would have been solved but she was reluctant to do it.

At times like this it is a good idea to ask the question, 'What would Sherlock Holmes have done?' But this did not help. The famed resident of 221B Baker Street had only handled murders, burglaries and international intrigues. This was a lot more tricky.I could not expect Luck to do the heavy lifting at all times. I had to occasionally give it a push with my own effort.

Not being known to act with promptness and dispatch in sticky situations (or in any situation for that matter), I had to fall back on my tried and trusted eyes to convey the gravity of the situation. They screamed at her in helpless anger, 'Look at the bloody door!' There were some fruity words long suppressed swirling about in my mind struggling for utterance. It is said that meaningful silences are better than meaningless words. I am full of meaningful silences and this was as meaningful as any. (My meaningless words are reserved for the blog.)

The usual clonus set in and my  hands and legs began to have the typical shivering movements. The nurse finally got the message, turned towards the door and found it wide open. Mission accomplished.  If she had looked at me sheepishly, I would have laughed over the incident. What irritated me further was that the nurse pottered towards door muttering under her breath as if she was annoyed that I had pointed out her error.

At this time, Sujit developed some health issues and had to be hospitalised for a few days. This meant that Jaya had to be in the hospital for extended periods of time leaving me to deal with  the whims of the nurse. This was a situation that could not have been avoided and I had no option but to depend on Lady Luck. In  A Damsel in Distress,  Wodehouse writes:
Luck is a goddess not to be coerced and forcibly wooed by those who seek her favours.  From such masterful spirits she turns away.  But it happens sometimes that, if we put our hands in hers with the humble trust of a little child, she will have pity on us, and not fail us in our hour of need. 
I decided that Wodehouse knew what he was talking about. I am pleased to report that my trust was not misplaced. Luck had shaken off her capriciousness and was on her best behaviour. I suffered only the discomforts that I had anticipated and there were no unpleasant surprises.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Harking back back to a glorious past - II

It is claimed that Pythagoras theorem was known in India before Pythagoras. This  is an example of a partial truth - a statement that can't be rejected outright because it has some elements of truth but it can't be accepted without qualification because it is some way from the whole truth. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, scientist and philosopher,  said that the most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth.

From what I have read, there were civilizations that knew about the theorem before Pythagoras.and they used it frequently in their construction activities. But they knew specific instances of the theorem. It was true for the instances they checked but they had no way of knowing whether it was true for an infinity of right angled triangles.  The theorem is named after Pythagoras because he was the first person to give a mathematical proof using variables to show that it was true for all right angled triangles.So till Pythagoras provided the proof, the equation was a conjecture.

The PM stated that the creation of Ganesha is proof of the existence of plastic surgeons thousands of years ago. He said that an elephant's head had been grafted on a person's body to create the god. There were claims that Kauravas were born using stem cell technology, that cars and TV existed in Mahabharat times, that a helmet used in the Mahabharata war is found on Mars, that there were inter-planet planes during the Vedic age...the claims keep getting more bizarre. Some of these claims were made at the Indian Science Congress. Here is a discussion about it. By such glorification of myths the real achievement of ancient India like creation of the number zero is  in danger of being brushed under the carpet.

The argument that science has often been wrong and the ancient sages always knew the right thing is underwhelming. Each generation finds out something about the universe that is more true than what the previous generation knew. Isaac Asimov illustrates this idea in a piece he wrote called The Relativity of Wrong in which he said that if you said that the earth is flat, you would be wrong; if you said that the earth was spherical, you would still be wrong; but the first statement is more wrong than the second. Asimov writes:
What actually happens is that once scientists get hold of a good concept they gradually refine and extend it with greater and greater subtlety as their instruments of measurement improve. Theories are not so much wrong as incomplete.
In IIT Madras, one Dr. A. B. Sudhakara Sastry delivered a speech on the topic of “Vedic Sciences: A Treasure waiting for YOU”. He said' 'Vedic literature has every speck of knowledge we need for today. There is no need to invent; we just need to discover what’s already there.' Judging from the videos of the event (Part 1, Part 2), he had a testing time. As Tagore said:
That our forefathers, three thousand years ago, had finished extracting all that was of value from the universe, is not a worthy thought. We are not so unfortunate, nor the universe, so poor.'
It is all designed to evoke a false sense of pride among the gullible. It is an extension of the trend of taking pride in what you are not. Résumés are about showcasing the outstanding personality that you are not. The inflated marks in schools are about projecting you as the brilliant student that you are not. Liberal use of fashion accessories is about showing off the trendy, debonair person that you are not. In one commentary stint, Sunil Gavaskar called this generation 'the hyped generation'. It is all about hype and show; about exaggeration and chest-beating; and reality be damned.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Harking back back to a glorious past - I

It is not difficult to call for a return to the past, to tell men to turn their backs on foreign devils, to live solely on one's resources, proud, independent, unconcerned.  India has heard such voices.  Tagore understood this, paid tribute to it, and resisted it. - Isaiah Berlin

H.L. Menken said, “Politics, as hopeful men practise it in the world, consists mainly of the delusion that a change in form is a change in substance.” One of the biggest delusions that people have is to think that recreating a Golden Age of the past is the answer to all problems. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay alluded to this in a talk quoted in Makers of Modern India.

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was one of the Makers who I knew nothing about. Apparently, after independence, she could have entered Parliament, Union Cabinet, become an ambassador etc. but she rejected all offers and preferred to concentrate on social work instead. Ramachandra Guha writes, "That Indian crafts are still alive and, moreover, have a visible national and international presence, is owed more to Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay than to any other individual." In a speech quoted in the book, she accuses the Muslim League of spreading 'medievalism' and the Hindus of similarly spreading 'fanatical passions'.
It has...souught refuge in a demagogic past. It tries to cover the complex present with the veil of a vague past, tinting the harsh realities with elusive shades and the gross angles with sentimental contours, conjuring up in short bygone ghosts to lend heroics to commonplace sentiments.
She warns that the selling of this Hindu mirage is trapping immature minds who, being overwhelmed by the present, 'fill the imagination with past achievements, which at least for the fleeting moment gives them a sense of security'. She warns that present problems cannot be tackled by going back to a glorious past but  by 'a bold and courageous reckoning up of existing conditions and their appraisal'.

It is often claimed that the democratic practices of modern India was a tradition of ancient India. Actually, the Indian constitution with its emphasis on equality and fundamental rights is a radical break from a hierarchical past. The hierarchical nature of the society can be seen in many parts of India even now. I can hear many statements of caste, gender and religious biases from supposedly liberal people who will swear that they don't harbour such biases. The idea of caste privileges exists even among educated city dwelling people. It is easy to change laws but it is not easy to change customs. As Sunil Khilnani writes in The Idea of India:
Mere recovery of the past could not make Indians self- sufficient: the necessry veneration of a rich and unusual history had to coexist with a modernist, more self-critical idiom that acknowledged the immense failings of that past. 
Every country has a Golden Age to talk about which in India is usually the Gupta period or the Vedic Age. People who don't know about either the science or the relevant scriptures will  neverthless be thrilled when told that something that science has discoved was actually foretold in an ancient text. It is regularly claimed that NASA has proved something in Hindu scriptures. It would seem as if NASA had nothing better to do than verify the historical truth of incidents in Hindu scriptures.

Instead of providing metaphorical explanations of speculative musings in Hindu scriptures, people will try to pretend as if they are the same as the discoveries of modern science. For instanc some have interpreted Vishnu’s ten avatars as foreshadowing the Darwinian theory of evolution. They know that their audience is science illiterate, that they will remember a few scienc words from school, put two and two together and conclude that philosophical musings and science are the same. Indian gurus do it all the time

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Nationalism - IV

Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest", but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)  

In his essay The Illegitimacy of Nationalism, Ashis Nandy writes:
Once he [Tagore] had dreamt, like Gandhi, that India's national self-definition would some day provide a critique of western nationalism, that Indian civilization with its demonstrated capacity to live with and creatively use contradictions and inconsistencies would produce a 'natianal' ideology that would transcend nationalism. However,  even before his death, nationalism proved itself to be not only more universal but also more resilient than it had been thought. Today, fifty years after Tagore's death and forty years after Gandhi's, their version of patriotism has almost ceased to exist, even in India, and for most modern Indians this is not a matter of sorrow but of pride.
I am one of those few Indians who is not enamored of what Ashis Nandy calls 'the clenched-teeth European version of nationalism' characterised by flag wrapping, chest thumping,Pakistan hating crowds. Or by giving the impression that the sole purpose of scientific missions like Chandrayaan or Mangalyaan is to plant the national flag in their destinations.Or by painting anyone who criticises the government as 'anti-national'. Or by thinking that military strength is the sole barometer of international prestige. (Till recently, India was the largest buyer of arms in the world still there is a constant clamour for more arms.) India is not Pakistan. It is said that most countries have an army but the Pakistan army has a country.

I heard a story about a US scientist who asked for more funding for a cosmological experiment. A politician asked him, 'Will it help defend the country?' He replied, 'It will not help defend the country but it will help make the country worth defending.' Yes, military strength is important but it has meaning only when other fields of human endeavor like science, business, arts, sport, etc. are  flourishing within the country. Blind appeals to to parochialism and past glory sound hollow. Tagore says it all in his poem Where The Mind Is Without Fear.

Tagore's warning about the fetish of nationalism ultimately 'making the cult of self-seeking exult in its naked shamelessness' is shown by this report about Mein Kampf having booming sales in Delhi. Apparently, many management students 'see it as a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it'. If this is how management students think these days, be afraid. As a poor villager, who was part of the group that was being rounded up like cattle by government officials to meet sterilisation targets, says in Rohinton Mistry's novel, A Fine Balance, 'What to do, bhai, when educated people are behaving like savages?'

Nationalism is the human equivalent of group identification among other primates. Within countries, different states; within states, different regions; within regions different groups; all think they are superior to others.  The VP Hameed Ansari's comment  that the idea of a homogeneous nation is problematic was called controversial but I think he is perfectly correct. The public discourse is shaped in such a way that everyone is hypnotised into thinking that being a homogeneous nation is the only way to survive. In this conversation Ashis Nandy tells of a lament by a Bhil woman for her dead son. The Bhils are among the poorest and most marginalised sections of Indian society but the woman says:
Come back to me in your next birth only as a Bhil, 
Take care not to be  born as a Brahmin because then you will spoil your eyes by reading and writing,
Do not be born as a baniya because you will be only counting money and will not learn the true value of things,
Do not be  born as a Kshatriya because  you will be unnecessarily violent all the while, 
You must be born only as a Bhil because that is the best community in the world.
Do not make a mistake, come back to me as a Bhil.
 I often hear people say that Indian culture is the best. What they mean of course is that the culture of the group they belong to is the best. An orthodox Brahmin from Tamil Nadu will find the habits of an orthodox Brahmin from UP strange. It substantiates a point that Nehru made in his Autobiography (a book that I have not read but I came across the quote in Sunil Khilnani's The Idea of India): 'Indian culture was so widespread all over India that no part of the country could be called the heart of that culture.'

The human instinct for group identification can be seen when a class is randomly divided into two groups, those sitting on the left and those sitting on the right. They will soon develop group loyalties and start competing against each other. Once, talking about peace between India and Pakistan, the Pakistani cricketer Moin Khan said, 'Hamme farak hi kya hai?' ('After all, what is the difference between us?') Perhaps the similarity is the problem? I came across this Chinese poem in Anti-Utopia:
When I carefully consider the curious habits of dogs 
 I am compelled to conclude  
That man is the superior animal. 
When I consider the curious habits of man 
I confess, my friend, I am puzzled.
In the video I linked to above about Ashis Nandy, he observes that like Indian epics, perhaps both gods and demons are required to make the world; only the definition of who the gods and demons are varies from community to community. He tells of the Zapatista world-view: one should cherish the 'otherness' of others, not the sameness of others. Again like in Indian epics, there is something of a demon in a god and something of a god in a demon.

In Mahabharata, Krishna cheats several times to make his side win. For eg., he tells the Pandavas to lie to Drona that his son had been killed which would make Drona depressed and thus easier to kill. On the other side, when a dying Duryodana (who had been defeated by Bhima aganist the rules of war due to a hint from Krishna) deplores his behavior, Krishna has no answer because he knows that he has done a wrong. The heavens shower petals on Duryodana thus acknowledging his unconquerable spirit and that he had been felled by unfair means. Similarly in Ramayana, Rama kills Bali by deceit and shows himself to be a poor husband by being quick to suspect Sita; while on the other side,  Ravana is skilled in Ayurveda and music and is a big devotee of Shiva. There are Ravana temples in India.

Gods are only gods most of the time and demons are only demons most of the time. Thus gods and demons are not wholly good or wholly bad; they are only relatively good and relatively bad. William Golding shows in his novel Lord of the Flies how evil is innate inn the nature of civilised man. As he said, one lot of people is inherently like any other lot of people and  the enemy of man is inside him.  In a nationalistic fervour one is likely to forget a warning that I saw in a Radiolab podcast - "As we act, we must  not become the evil that we deplore."Or as Nietzsche said, 'Not only the wisdom of centuries - also their madness breaketh out in us. Dangerous it is to be an heir.'

Group identification is an evolutionary instinct but the human brain has grown large enough to thwart it. Every time people use contraceptives, they show that human brains can overcome evolutionary instincts. As Richard Dawkins, who has struggled to reconcile his life-long liberal values with Darwinian evolution, says:
 Scientific theories are not prescriptions for how we should behave. I have many times written (for example in the first chapter of A Devil's Chaplain) that I am a passionate Darwinian when it comes to the science of how life has actually evolved, but a passionate ANTI-Darwinian when it comes to the politics of how humans ought to behave. I have several times said that a society based on Darwinian principles would be a very unpleasant society in which to live. I have several times said, starting at the beginning of my very first book, The Selfish Gene, that we should learn to understand natural selection, so that we can oppose any tendency to apply it to human politics.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nationalism - III

Here are some more passages from Tagore's Nationalism (you can read it online here):
In political civilization, the state is an abstraction and relationship of men utilitarian. Because it has no root in sentiments, it is so dangerously easy to handle. Half a century has been enough for you [Europe] to master this machine ; and there are men among you, whose fondness for it exceeds their love for the living ideals, which were born with the birth of your nation and nursed in your centuries. It is like a child who, in the excitement of his play, imagines he likes his playthings better than his mother. 
[SNIP]
Have you never felt shame, when you see the trade advertisements, not only plastering the whole town with lies and exaggerations, but invading the green fields, where the peasants do their honest labour, and the hill-tops, which greet the first pure light of the morning ? It is so easy to dull our sense of honour and delicacy of mind with constant abrasion, while falsehoods stalk abroad with proud steps in the name of trade, politics and patriotism, that any protest against their perpetual intrusion into our lives is considered to be sentimentalism, unworthy of true manliness. 
And it has come to pass that the children of those heroes who would keep their word at the point of death, who would disdain to cheat men for vulgar profit, who even in their fight would much rather court defeat than be dishonourable, have become energetic in dealing with falsehoods and do not feel humiliated by gaining advantage from them. And this has been effected by the charm of the word 'modern.' But if undiluted utility be modern, beauty is of all ages ; if mean selfishness be modern, the human ideals are no new inventions. [He said this a century ago. What would he have said now?! - Suresh]

[SNIP]
It is the continual and stupendous dead pressure of this unhuman upon the living human under which the modern world is groaning. Not merely the subject races, but you [Europeans] who live under the delusion that you are free, are every day sacrificing your freedom and humanity to this fetich of nationalism, living in the dense poisonous atmosphere of world-wide suspicion and greed and panic. 
I have seen in Japan the voluntary submission of the whole people to the trimming of their minds and clipping of their freedom by their government, which through various educational agencies regulates their thoughts, manufactures their feelings, becomes suspiciously watchful when they show signs of inclining toward the spiritual, leading them through a narrow path not toward what is true but what is necessary for the complete welding of them into one uniform mass according to its own recipe. The people accept this all-pervading mental slavery with cheerfulness and pride because of their nervous desire to turn themselves into a machine of power, called the Nation, and emulate other machines in their collective worldliness. the newly converted fanatic of nationalism answers that "so long as nations are rampant in this world we have not the option freely to develop our higher humanity. We must utilize every faculty that we possess to resist the evil by assuming it ourselves in the fullest degree. For the only brotherhood possible in the modern world is the brotherhood of hooliganism." 
[SNIP]

But it is no consolation to us to know that the weakening of humanity from which the present age is suffering is not limited to the subject races, and that its ravages are even more radical because insidious and voluntary in peoples who are hypnotized into believing that they are free. 
SNIP]
...the idea of the Nation is one of the most powerful anaesthetics that man has invented. Under the influence of its fumes the whole people can carry out its systematic programme of the most virulent self-seeking without being in the least aware of its moral perversion, in fact feeling dangerously resentful if it is pointed out. 

During the Swadeshi movement in Bengal, some students came to seek Tagore permission to boycott classes. He refused to give his consent making them angry and doubt his patriotism. He said that he is never tempted by 'the anarchy of mere emptineess' even when it is temporary. He said that tempting young people away from their careers before it had begun was a loss which could never be repaired and he could not take such a decision lightly.Ramachandra Guha writes in the introduction to the Penguin edition of Nationalism:
He had been accused of being anti-western by some, of being a colonial agent by others, seen as too much of a patriot by the foreigner and as not patriotic enough by the Indian. He had, we might say, been comprehensively misunderstood by the ignorant.
Tagore's idea of nationalism was looked on with hostility by middle class people who, in the European mould, wanted a more aggressive nationalism. Thus the national anthem has been dogged by controversy about its origin, fueled by people who had to say something because they couldn't directly question his patriotic credentials. The song was not parochial enough for them. Ashis Nandy writes in his essay The Illegitimacy of Nationalism
...he was bitter about the controversy..., for he knew that it was a no-win situation. He could never satisfy his detractors, as their accusations did not stem from genuine suspicions about the origins of the song but were partly a product of middle-class dissatisfaction with the 'insufficient nationalism' the song expressed,and partly a response to what seemed to them to be Tagore's own 'peculiar'versionof patriotism. To the chagrin of Tagore's critics, his version of patriotism rejected the violence propagated by terrorists and revolutionaries, it rejected the concept of a single-ethnic Hindu rashtra as anti-Indian, and even anti-Hindu, and it dismissed the idea of the nation-state as being the main actor in Indian political life.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Nationalism - II

Tagore was wary of patriotic fire escalating to xenophobia and the pursuit of material gain depriving people of their humanity thereby converting them into machines. He was of the view that hatred of the foreigner could easily be converted into hatred of Indians who were different from themselves. He illustrated his fears in a novel Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) which Satyajit Ray made into a movie. (You can watch the movie with English sub-titles in Youtube.)

During WWI he went to US and Japan where he warned  his audiences against harbouring the thought that love of one's nation meant celebrating its military strength. These lectures were published in a slim book called Nationalism which is not as well known as his stories and poems. reflecting the appeal of nationalistic sentiment among the middle class. Penguin has issued an edition with an introduction by Ramachandra Guha in which he writes:
No one could accuse Tagore of not loving his country. That is what lends a special force to his criticism of nationalism. As he saw it, the staggering heterogeneity of India was the product of its hospitality, in the past, to cultures and ideas from outside. He wished that the openness be retained and even enhanced in the present. Unlike other patriots, Tagore refused to privilege a particular aspect of India - Hindu, North Indian, upper caste, etc. - and make this the essence of the nation, and then demand that other aspects conform or subordinate themselves to it. For Tagore, as the historian Tanika Sarkar has pointed out, India 'was and must remain a land without a centre'. 
In the book, he doesn't mince words in criticising the nationalistic fervour that the European colonisers try to stoke in their people which was 'based on exclusiveness'. It destroys the whole futures of other people and 'tries to thwart all symptoms of greatness outside its own boundaries'. He calls this rapacious civilisation a 'prolific weed' that sets great store by ' the costly ceremonials of its worship, calling this patriotism'.

He acknowledges where Europe is great, her art and literature, her science and technology etc. He says that 'Europe is supremely good in her beneficence where her face is turned to all humanity; and Europe is supremely evil in her malefic aspect where her face is turned only upon her own interest'. He emphasises that true modernising does not lie in mimicry of Europeans but in 'freedom of mind, not slavery of taste'. He frowns on the mentality of 'survival of the fittest' or 'might is right'. (Unfortunately that is the meaning that most people have which, as I have written earlier, is a misunderstanding.) Then he writes this ringing  passage:
But now, where the spirit of the Western nationalism prevails, the whole people is being taught from boy- hood to foster hatreds and ambitions by all kinds of means, by the manufacture of half-truths and untruths in history, by persistent misrepresentation of other races and the culture of unfavourable sentiments towards them, by setting up memorials of events, very often false, which for the sake of humanity should be speedily forgotten, thus continually brewing evil menace towards neighbours and nations other than their own. This is poisoning the very fountainhead of humanity. It is discrediting the ideals, which were born of the lives of men, who were our greatest and best. It is holding up gigantic selfishness as the one universal religion for all nations of the world. We can take anything else from the hands of science, but not this elixir of moral death. Never think for a moment, that the hurts you inflict upon other races will not infect you, and the enmities you sow around your homes will be a wall of protection to you for all time to come. To imbue the minds of a whole people with an abnormal vanity of its own superiority, to teach it to take pride in its moral callousness and ill-begotten wealth, to perpetuate humiliation of defeated nations by exhibiting trophies won from war, and using these in schools in order to breed in children's minds contempt for others, is imitating the West where she has a festering sore, whose swelling is a swelling of disease eating into its vitality. 
In Mahabharata, there are some aggressive, war-mongering views, for eg. Duryodana quotes Brihaspati as saying that no device could be considered wrong which had as its object the destruction of formidable enemies. Opposing views are also expressed eg. Balarama says that a fit envoy would be one who is not a war-monger but is dead set, in spite of every difficulty, on achieving a peaceful settlement. I would have loved to read about Tagore's views on these statements but unfortunately, I am not aware of whether he has written about them.