Essay: Asian Studies Short Answer Questions. Most Theories

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Asian Studies

SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS.

Most theories of indianization seem to underestimate the receiver cultures and societies because of a more or less marked high culture-centrism by which Southeast Asian cultures and religions are measured in relation to the classical expressions of Indian religions. Pertaining to this high culture-bias, these theories of indianization are inadequate to be able to explain the indianization of Southeast Asian societies as inspired socio-cultural revisions. In order to have a deep understanding of the dynamics, reasons and meanings of the indianization one has to have a sound understanding of Indian cultures and religions as well as an intimate familiarity of Southeast Asian societies, cultures and religions (Lukas, 2001).

Historically, Indianization was the term normally used for Indian cultural persuasion upon Southeast Asia. Earlier scholars had thought the process of Indianization to be an Indian plan with large-scale migrants setting up colonies in Southeast Asia (Smith, 1999). According to these scholars, the latter area was at the receiving end and played an inactive role. The entrance of large number of Indians would have made noteworthy social changes, but the people of Southeast Asia did not take on the caste system, or even the nutritional habits of the Indians like curry powder or milk products. Politically, none of the believed Southeast Asia colonies showed any loyalty to India. "Economically speaking, the states of Southeast Asia were not colonies as there was no scope of economic exploitation. India also did not enjoy monopoly in the field of foreign trade" (Mishra, 2001).

The lack of tangible evidence regarding Indian cultural expansion has resulted in the supposition of various theories regarding the motives and the procedure of the transfer of Indian cultural elements to Southeast Asia (Aung-Thwin, 1997). The consensus is that the course of Indian cultural expansion in Southeast Asia was accomplished by passive means and it was non-political in nature. There is first the kshatriya or warrior class theory, which assumes that Indian cultural growth, was due to the seminal influence of the Indian warriors and conquerors, which migrated in great numbers to Southeast Asia. The vaisya or merchant class theory assumes that Indian cultural infiltration began with traders, who intermarried with local women and wooed the indigenous population with their goods and culture. The third theory, commonly known as brahmana or priestly class theory accorded dominance to local initiative in those indigenous port patricians and rulers recruited the service of brahmans to support their political authority through Hindu ceremonies and rituals. Rather than being the outcome of a single factor, most likely the whole procedure of Indian cultural expansion was the result of actions of warriors, traders and priests along with the indigenous initiative. Most possibly all four groups of people were participating in the process (Mishra, 2001).

2. The mandala is a representation for describing the patterns of diffuse political power disseminated among Mueang principalities in early Southeast Asian history, when local power was more important than anything else. The idea of a mandala counteracts modern tendencies to look for united political power, like the power of great kingdoms and nation states of later history. It is engaged to indicate traditional Southeast Asian political configurations, such as federation of kingdoms or polity under a center of domination. It was accepted by 20th century Western historians from earliest Indian political discussion as a means of avoiding the term state in the usual sense. Not only did Southeast Asian polities not accept Chinese and European views of a territorially defined state with permanent borders and a bureaucratic apparatus, but they deviated significantly in the opposite direction. The polity was defined by its center rather than its borders, and it could be composed of many other tributary polities without experiencing administrative integration. "In some ways similar to the feudal system of Europe, states were linked in overlord-tributary relationships. Compared to feudalism however, the system gave greater independence to the subordinate states; it emphasized personal rather than official or territorial relationships; and it was often non-exclusive. Any particular area, therefore, could be subject to several powers or none" (Dellios, 2003).

These observations suggest that traditional Southeast Asia was mandalic insofar as it did not adhere to European formations of the state as a legal, territorial body but displayed the cosmological characteristics of states of Hindu-Buddhist influence prior to the development of the modern Western state system. Therefore a mandala is not a state in the modern European logic, but it is also not to be deprived of its statal rank because of such delimitation. "A mandala is a statal circle of Indian origin and Southeast Asian elaboration. It can refer to a single centre and to a circle of centers. In traditional Southeast Asian international relations one may therefore speak of mandalas as states and inter-mandala relations as international relations within the world mandala system" (Dellios, 2003). Whoever can assert the center of this system, a condition which requires being acknowledged as such, can claim the title of universal emperor. In order to better understand the viewpoint from which such thought derives, it is necessary to explore the religious meaning of mandala

ESSAY QUESTION

Between October 1, 1965 and April to May, 1966, the right wing government of Generals Nasution and Suharto seized power and established its grip in Indonesia. In those short seven months, as many as one million people were killed, including the best of the working class. Before October 1965, Indonesia had the largest communist party outside the Soviet Union and the other Stalinist states. It had over three million members and between fifteen and twenty million active supporters. The PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) had huge pressure amongst the working class and poor and could have taken power on a number of occasions. Tragically, PKI leaders followed a policy of class collaborationism, including relying on a so-called progressive section of the ruling class, instead of following an independent class policy in a struggle to overthrow capitalism and to build a socialist society. The PKI leaders leaned on President Sukarno, the nationalist, radical leader, against the most reactionary parts of the ruling elite and army, rather than mobilize the working class (Mulholland, 2005).

This mistaken policy proved fatal. The reactionary ruling class bided its time and in 1965 Suharto and the military moved against the PKI militants, claiming they were acting to stop a communist coup. Suharto was secretly aided and abetted by U.S. imperialism, which feared the PKI coming to power and other Asian countries falling to the communists. In early October 1965, Suharto and a group of army officers took advantage of political instability to commence a massacre. Much of the killing was done by Islamic-led mobs, which were mobilized by the military against the godless communists (Mulholland, 2005).

The level of the 1965-66 counter revolution meant that Suharto remained in power until the late 1990s. The general was a close ally of U.S. imperialism and Indonesia was used as an early laboratory for globalization and neo-liberal policies. Suharto was finally overthrown in 1998 by a magnificent mass movement of students, urban poor and workers. This shows the ability of the working masses, after a 30-year nightmare, to recover from even the worst bloody defeats and to take to mass struggle once more. Courageous youth and students from Left organizations, like the PRD (People's Democratic Party), played an important role in this revolt (Mulholland, 2005).

During this period, the left had an occasion to build a powerful position in society, based on independent class policies. Unfortunately, all the mistakes of the PKI were not learned and leaders of left parties, like the PRD, sowed illusions in progressive, democratic capitalist leaders, like the former presidents, Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawatti Sukarnoputri, a leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, and the daughter of former president Sukarno. Wahid and Megawatti did not represent a threat to the rule of capitalism or the army. In fact, they represented sections of the ruling class and continued the rule of the big capitalists and the power of the armed forces. Under Megawatti the army increased its repression in areas like Aceh. No stern effort has been made to bring Suharto and his associates to justice (Mulholland, 2005).

Nevertheless, the Indonesian ruling class remains weary of the power of masses, which have shown they will fight to stop attacks on the precious democratic rights they have won and for better living conditions. Under pressure from the masses, the Indonesian army has had to retreat from direct involvement in political life, although it remains a powerful force (Day, 1996). Growing disillusionment in the failure of the mass movement to bring about fundamental change, the experience of falling living standards under a series of crisis ridden pro-capitalist presidents, and the absence of a mass socialist left, with clear policies, has created a political vacuum which right wing political Islam is exploiting. The recent horrific bombings in Bali are a stark warning to the Indonesian working class about the dangers of inter-religious and inter-ethnic conflict.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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