A Fireside conversation at Vichaar Manthan’s Sustainable Narratives Conference 2020

With Eric Lonergan, co-author of ‘Angrynomics’

by Dr Sachin Nandha

In 2020, Eric Lonergan, a macro hedge fund manager and Mark Blyth, an economist at Brown University, co-authored a book titled ‘Angrynomics’ where they tried to make sense of why societies all over the developed world might be so angry. The book is a conversation between the two of them as they explore a wide range of issues concerning political economy. …

A Fireside conversation at Vichaar Manthan’s Sustainable Narratives Conference 2020

With Drishti Mae

by Anusha Kasture

In this raw and thought-provoking fireside conversation, Drishti Mae shares her extraordinary journey of religious identity through Islam, agnosticism, atheism and Hindu Dharma. The poignant discussion takes us through various stages of her life, from early childhood years to present day.

Growing up in a Muslim household, Drishti describes in detail how her childhood was set against the backdrop of a self-policing Islamic community and the Madresa school which introduced her to concepts in the Quran at a young age. The emphasis was on doing the mandated ‘right’ thing, combined with an upbringing “governed by fear”; fear of punishment for deviation from this path was made clear as early as at the age of 5. Examples of hell and the wrath of God were vividly described as punishments for breach of religious norms. Drishti describes feeling and being “limited” in the context of questioning ideas. She goes on to explain that although questions were permitted, this was only true if it fit the narrative of Islam and hence, strengthened one’s faith rather than brought doubt (shak). …

A Fireside conversation at Vichaar Manthan’s Sustainable Narratives Conference 2020

With Kushal Mehra

by Gaurang Bhatt

This fireside conversation with Kushal Mehra aimed to shed some light on an intellectual movement that characteristically eludes clarity — postmodernism. The aim of this discussion was to address a few key questions about the movement: how did postmodernism come to be, who are the key thinkers of the movement and what are their key ideas, and finally, how have these ideas manifested in Western society?

How did postmodernism come to be?

The predominant intellectual movement from the 17th to 19th centuries was “modernism”. Modernism can be defined by three important tenets: belief in an objective truth, reason as the valid route to that truth and an emphasis on individual liberty. However, after the deeply scarring events of the 20th century transpired — namely, two world wars and the Cold War — modernism was put under the microscope. With ideas of modernism being seen to lead to two devastating world wars, along with the downfall of Marxism at the hands of liberalism, a reactionary intellectual movement, the postmodernists, came into full swing. As a result, we can define postmodernism as the antithesis to modernity, an absolute rejection of the aforementioned tenets. …

by Ravi Lakhani

The evolution of human rights is a thread that can be traced to the origins of human civilisation. Intertwined with this history is the ever-present concept of duties. In this paper we will seek to understand the interdependency of the two concepts and ascertain if they can be sustainably prised apart or if they are inexorably linked. For the purposes of this discussion Professor Lou Marinoff defines rights as “an entitlement to something”, be it moral, legal, or customary. In modern society, legal rights often come with legally defined obligations. The legal right to drive on our roads comes with an obligation to drive responsibly and obey traffic regulations. Occasionally, however, the relationship is less clearly established. The right to free healthcare in Britain does not come with a legal or even customary responsibility to care for your own health, a situation that can generate gross abuses of the right. …

by Dinaay Sharma

History/definition of postmodernism

The narratives dominating the academic biosphere at present can be summarised under the umbrella term: postmodern.

Postmodernism has been articulated as a departure from Modernist thought, generally distrusting the idea of an “objective” truth or reality. Professor Makarand Paranjape opened with remarks on the history and a description of postmodern thought. Professor Paranjape began with remarks on the history of postmodernism, summarising it as the following: the “death of man”, that is, the death of the sovereign individual in favour of group identification; the “death of history”, best characterised by Karl Marx’s proclamation that all of history is a class struggle and finally the death of “grand narratives”. This being the deconstruction of meta-narratives such as language and morality. …

by Ravi Lakhani

This candid exploration of the nature of wealth creation and the future of sustainable wealth creation begins with Dr Jamie Whyte providing temporal context to the discussion:

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Nearly all human wealth has been generated in the past 200 years (see above). Whilst this growth has not been evenly distributed across the globe, we can say with some certainty that there has been no better time in history to be alive. Jamie Whyte contextualised this explosion in wealth within the backdrop of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment; an outright rejection of authority in enquiry and the rise of empirical science. Furthermore, he questioned the basic economic problem’s validity. Innovation, not efficient allocation of resources, he argues, is at the core of sustainable wealth creation. …

by Pravar Petkar

Religion has been a cornerstone in the flow of human civilization for centuries. This manthan examined institutionalised religion; the systematic organisation of religious beliefs, values and practices into institutions, including buildings, organisations and hierarchies of leadership. Since the Enlightenment, the traditional roles of religion have been steadily eroded and replaced with science and reason. With this intellectual erosion came a dilution of power and influence; although we may see the Catholic Church as a behemoth today, it is but a shadow of its former self. Is this then a bifurcation in the potential futures for religious thought? …

by Pravar Petkar

Governance concerns the structures and institutions that are essential to ordering the lives of human beings when they live together in communities. Fukuyama’s proclamation of the ‘end of history’ in 1989 has not, however, proved true: the uncontested dominance of liberal democracy, supposedly the most evolved system of governance, is currently under threat.

Dr Steve Tsang noted that a lack of vigilance for the health of liberal democracy has facilitated the rise of Chinese authoritarianism, shown by the unconvincing responses of many Western nations to COVID-19. China openly intends to make the world ‘safe’ for authoritarianism; Tsang was critical of this policy, terming it “anti-democratic” rather than undemocratic or a-democratic and stated: “it will not slowly democratise. Democracy goes against everything the [Communist Party of China] stands for.” …


Vichaar Manthan

An independent voluntary organisation which engages in open dialogue, exploring issues facing modern British society through a Hindu civilisational lens.

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