TIME magazine archives on the events in Tibet as the Dalai Lama left Tibet. Predictably, CIA and its failures are not mentioned. Not once. India and China are the ‘culprits.’
- Wen says Dharamsala behind Tibetan protests (thehindu.com)
- Tibetan immolators are outcasts, criminals and mentally ill, claims China (guardian.co.uk)
- Tibet’s Sangay blames China for self-immolations (ctv.ca)
- China calls Tibetan immolators criminals (independent.co.uk)
- China: will ‘crush Dalai Lama clique’ (thehindu.com)
What’s religion got to do with this?
The mechanics of divide et impera
Behind the man
Examining governance records of selected ten premiere post-WWII governments across the world could throw up some surprises.
Seems like in India, too
- The British Salt Tax. How Damaging? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Desi Nostalgia For British Raj (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Gold Standard: Forty Years Gone – And Good Riddance (blogs.wsj.com)
- Tendu leaves – How Maoist-Govt Cabal loot Adivasis (quicktake.wordpress.com)
After killing 20 lakhs of Viets, America cannot gloss over these deaths.
- Land of the Free … Home of the Brave (behind2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Church, Religion & Go-Gooders (behind2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Pakistan: The Hidden Chapter (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Soft Power: Dragon on the dance floor (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Egypt raids on US NGOs (2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Behind Population Control (2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Afghanistan: Obama’s Moment of Decision (thedailybeast.com)
- Nation: THE MY LAI MASSACRE (time.com)
- Readers’ reviews (guardian.co.uk)
- ‘The Korean War’ (nytimes.com)
- In praise of pragmatism (independent.co.uk)
- “Honoring War Heroes” and related posts (lewrockwell.com)
- My Lai Revisited (thedailybeast.com)
- Robert McNamara, Ex-Pentagon Chief, Dies (cbsnews.com)
- Why Was No One Punished for America’s “My Lai” in Iraq? (alternet.org)
- Afghan killings: The Devil dwells in all of us and when he possesses a soldier, it’s fearful to behold (dailymail.co.uk)
Tobacco – a colonial addiction
Six companies and sundry State monopolies drive global cigarette consumption. These six companies derive more than US$100 billion dollars in revenues, globally. For many years they were advertising industries largest customers.These six companies are headquartered at former European imperial powers (UK, France, Spain), USA and Japan.
In recent years, dozens of cigarette manufacturing companies have consolidated under four major private corporations: Altria/Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, and Imperial Tobacco. State monopolies are also major cigarette manufacturers. The largest state monopoly is China National Tobacco Corporation, with a global cigarette market share that exceeds that of any private company. Because the European Union intends to restrict further mergers and acquisitions that increase a tobacco company’s market-share dominance, industry consolidation trends may have peaked.
The tobacco industry includes some of the most powerful transnational corporate entities in the world. Tobacco conglomerates have diversified into many other industries, such as financial services, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, real estate, hotels, restaurants, communications, and apparel, among others. The tobacco industry is expected to continue increasing in size and power.
The global tobacco market, valued at $378 billion, grew by 4.6 percent in 2007. By the year 2012, the value of the global tobacco market is projected to increase another 23 percent, reaching $464.4 billion. If Big Tobacco were a country, it would have the 23rd-largest gross domestic product in the world, surpassing the GDP of countries like Norway and Saudi Arabia. (via Tobacco Atlas Online – Tobacco Companies.).
India’s small production base is a combination of two aspects. Indian social inertia against addictive substances and the Government on the other. Indian cigarette business, small as it is, was put in Indian hands during Indira Gandhi’s socialist days. BAT lost control of ITC, which was placed in the hands of professional Indian managers.
Chinese State Tobacco monopoly
Or Western powers pushing opium in China in the nineteenth century. After the opium experience of the Chinese, when Western trading houses, under State protection, using the garb of ‘free trade’, made China into the largest consumer of opium.
The Chinese Govt. has replaced opium with tobacco.
The second secret of the tobacco business is to be dominant in purchasing and cornering tobacco stock. For cornering tobacco stocks, Big Tobacco depends on Central Banks’ support – aka State support. For instance, ITC (and other major global tobacco purchasers) in India has a major presence in Guntur, where Indian tobacco trade is headquartered.
ITC’s over-sized chequebook buys it market dominance.
The Indian tobacco profile
India is the third largest producer of tobacco – after China and USA. India ranks 6th as a tobacco exporting nation, as most of tobacco in India is consumed by domestic consumers. Tobacco consumption in India follows traditional patterns, as a non-industrial product – spanning chewing tobacco, bidis (tobacco rolled in leaves), hookah, clay pipes and snuff. Indian traditional tobacco usage consumes between 75%-85% of total tobacco cultivation.
Indian tobacco consumption and control follows consumption patterns of psychotropic drugs. All the major drugs in the world came of India – opium is afeem, khus-khus पोस्त; cannabis is charas, ganja, marijuana, hashish. Heroin is a derivative of opium. Even, as Indians are significant (legal) producers, they are not high on consumption lists.
However, drugs never became a big problem in India. Unlike in China, or in Medieval Middle East (when drug crazed criminals called hashishis became assassins). All these drugs were introduced to the world by India – with records going back to 1000 BC. Similarly family and peer pressure plays an important role in controlling the less dangerous form of traditional tobacco usage in India. In modern times, Indian gold smuggling was funded by carriage and export of drugs.
Cigarette production consumes less than one-fourth of India’s tobacco production.
Until two years ago, non-filter cigarettes comprised 30% of the total cigarette consumption. But with an increase in excise duty on non-filter cigarettes from Rs 168 to Rs 819 per thousand from March 1, 2008, the demand for low-priced filter cigarettes has risen At present, the excise duty on a pack of 10 filter cigarettes is Rs 8.19, and VAT Rs 1.05. Thus, taxes total Rs 10 per pack. Illicit cigarettes are sold for less than this amount, leading the government to believe that either registered cigarette units are evading duty or foreign-made cigarettes are flooding the market from Myanmar and the UK The business of low-cost cigarettes is big in the country, especially in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. (via Article Window).
The expansion of manufacturing in cigarettes globally (see chart) is much like the housing scam in US and Europe. Banks made huge advances, created a bubble, and are now busy foreclosing these loans. The modern myth of Republic Democracy at work.
How maya works in real life.
- Australia takes on tobacco giants over packaging (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Big Tobacco’s Been Busy (fool.com)
- Philip Morris Int’l buys rights to nicotine system (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The unstoppable march of the tobacco giants (independent.co.uk)
- Tobacco giant BAT admits funding retailers’ campaign against ban on cigarette displays (guardian.co.uk)
- Yes, smoking kills – but not everyone wants to be saved | Tanya Gold (guardian.co.uk)
- FDA takes action against illegal marketing of tobacco products (gloucestercitynews.net)
- Why Gas Stations Love Cigarettes (MO, RAI, LO) (businessinsider.com)
- Smokers ignore health warnings, research shows (guardian.co.uk)
- World’s toughest antismoking laws set to pass in Australian parliament (telegraph.co.uk)
the ruling elite cannot be expected to change things because the majority already has one foot out of the door. Most members of the ruling elite have dual nationality, which means that if the situation deteriorates further they can always leave, along with their capital. This saves them from taking responsibility for improving social conditions and the country’s politics for the benefit of all. http://is.gd/krkPC
Who cares …
On 4th January, 2011, Salman Taseer died. Shot dead by his own body guard. His support for non-Islamic minorities in Pakistan coupled with his support for removal of blasphemy laws from statute books angered extremists. Leading to this killing. Salmaan Taseer’s other bodyguards did nothing against the killer. Many ‘powerful people’, afraid, did not attend Taseer’s funeral.
Like this author points out, the State of Pakistan is in the hands of people who have interests, capital, and a life outside Pakistan. Pakistan needs complete, total commitment.
Another hate crime
On the other side of the world, on Saturday 8th January, 2011, in the advanced world, there was a similar incident. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, during a public event at a Safeway grocery store on the north side of Tucson, was shot.
Giffords — who in 2006 became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, at 36 — has, for more than a year, been the target of violence-tinged rhetoric from political opponents and of threats that appear to have come from right-wing activists.
Sarah Palin’s political action committee posted a map of the US, showing the locations of the 20 Democratic members of Congress, including Giffords, it was targeting for defeat. Each location was marked by an image of a gun crosshairs.
Palin’s camp dismissed charges that she was encouraging acts of violence, saying she had spoken out against violence. But Giffords herself was one of many who spoke out against the image, telling MSNBC: “When people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”
In June, the campaign of Giffords’ Republican opponent in this year’s midterms, Jesse Kelly, placed an ad that read: “Get on target for victory in November/ Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office/ Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”
The website for Kelly, a former US Marine, depicted him with holding an automatic weapon.
Today, Kelly said in a tweet: “We are all deeply saddened by this morning’s shooting. Gabrielle Giffords, the other victims, and their families are in our prayers.”
It is unclear why Gabrielle Giffords was shot. Was is it because she ‘approached the immigration debate in a nuanced fashion, mixing requests for more Border Patrol agents with calls to increase the number of work visas granted to foreigners.’ Or was because she was the first Jewish woman to be elected Congresswoman from Arizona.
Desert Bloc parallels
Gabrielle Gifford and Salman Taseer were ‘marked’ for supporting ‘Others’. Christian intolerance, Islamic extremism. Any difference. Sympathy for ‘kaffirs‘ killed Salman Taseer; supporting ‘aliens’ hurt Gabrielle Gifford. USA & Pakistan-Siamese twins?
Pakistan is evading the blasphemy issue. USA will ‘investigate’ if xenophobia behind Gabrielle Gifford attack. Christian intolerance + Islamic extremism = Desert Bloc behavior. Proof – Attacks on Gabrielle Gifford & Salman Taseer.Last train out
- Family of slain Pakistani politician feels for Giffords (cnn.com)
- Political violence in the US and Pakistan (blogs.ft.com)
- Gabrielle Giffords a Champion of Green Causes (treehugger.com)
- Gabrielle Giffords, update on her brain injury (actionforbetterhealthcare.com)
- Gabrielle Giffords shot in Arizona – Sarah Palin ‘has blood on her hands’ (archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com)
- Bhutto pledges to defend minorities in Pakistan (reuters.com)
- Salman Taseer assassination – BBC News (news.google.com)
- Global worry: Tucson attack augur more violent US? (foxnews.com)
- Pope Asks Pakistan To Repeal Blasphemy Law (video) (nowpublic.com)
- Taseer Murder Reveals Depth of Pakistan’s Extremist Drift (time.com)
- Pakistan slaying divides nation – Washington Post (news.google.com)
Shourie’s two legs
Arun Shourie’s book, Eminent Historians, covers an important subject – Indian history. Shourie makes out a case that Indian media and academia have done a bad job of cleaning up Indian history. Colonial inversions, ommissions and distortions continue to plague Indian history – more than sixty years after British were sent packing. If Indian history is in bad shape, Marxist historians are to blame – says Shourie.
Using extensive primary sources, ranging from the Koran to Guru Granth Sahib (Chapter 13), from Marx and Engels to Lenin and Mao, Shourie’s builds excellent scaffolding. He uses his famed journalistic skills to uncover accounting scams in the academia.
The tactics used by these ‘non-productive’ academics to smear and attack critics, evade accountability are well exposed by Arun Shourie (Chapter 5 & 6). Whether dealing with the decline of Buddhism, or the outright falsification of Indian history, deliberate avoidance of evidence, while obvious in some cases (AIT, AMT) to see it exposed again is a shock (Chapter 11 & 15).
Since, Arun Shourie’s thesis is, by this time, well-accepted, more on this may not be useful. Instead, an examination of the non-Marxist structures are worth examining
Arun Shourie’s book, Eminent Historians, walks on two legs – the legs of religion and right-wing political ideology. Two rather weak concepts. It is worth remembering that the concepts of political Right and Left were defined, when European economies struggled with the end of slavery (1830-1860) and serfdom (1830-1910).
Right … Left … Same difference
Faced with a restive labour force, Europe adopted two distinct paths. Left and Right. In both cases the end results were the same – concentration of wealth, power and land in the hands of the elite. To European citizenry, it finally was a choice between two elites – a Leftist coterie and Rightist cliques.
These European concepts never worked well in India, where polity changes followed a different trajectory.
History in a box
Unfortunately, Shourie also limits Indian history to India’s boundaries. He cannot see the global canvas on which Indian history has played out over the last thousands of years.
Or the agenda of ‘external’ forces that continue to define Indian history. For instance, of the 911 World Heritage Sites, just three Hindu temples figure on the list. It has recently been decided that 2 temples each in Indonesia, Thailand and Nepal would be added.
Money isn’t everything?
Regrettable as it is, Arun Shourie also expects Indian historians to work on starvation diets and shoe-string budgets of Rs.12,000 (Chapter 2, 3 & 4). In the best of times, Rs.12,000 is not enough to pull out one sheet of sensible history.
To be fair to Indian academia, they have been usually under-funded and over-looked. Is it surprising that Indian historians seem to be writing and catering to the West?
Hagiography isn’t quite history
A large part of Arun Shourie’s narrative rests on accounts written by Islamic court-historians (Chapter 10, 12). These court-historians were appointed and rewarded to write glowing and exaggerated acconts of their patron’s campaigns. These hagiographic accounts of Islamic conquerors, written by court-historians, do talk of slaughter, loot, enslavement, mass conversions.
The most interesting exception is Shourie’s reference to Guru Nanak Dev’s description of Islamic atrocities in Guru Granth Sahib (Chapter 13) .
Gold, gems, jewelry
Temple destruction can be better understood by two things. One – temple wealth. A recent report revealed that the Tirupati temple alone has more than 8000 kg of gold. (Business Standard Page 1; December 18 2010) How much gold do the temples of Sabarimalai, Jagannath Puri, Madurai Meenakshi have? This temple wealth is not a modern phenomenon.
Would these temples not be tempting targets for loot and enslavement expeditions? Add to this temple wealth, the opportunity to capture slaves and extract ransom. Or capture of valuable military targets like horses, elephants, camels, gunpowder from India.
Islamic armies comprised of landless peoples, without wealth, many of them slaves, drafted into a loot and enslavement expedition by Islamic brigades. Fed on a thin gruel of riches from loot and plunder, the religious sanction and justification was the topping, the cherry on the cake. Religion, after all, was invented in the Desert Bloc to give a cover to the loot and enslavement expeditions.
The Desert Bloc has consistently resorted to ‘relegiofication’, a tactic defined by Eric Hoffer – and something that Arun Shourie also refers to (Chapter 18).
Learning from history
From their Islamic rulers, the Spanish also learned how to use religion to cover loot and enslavement expeditions. Spanish loot and enslavement expeditions to South America were also couched in religious garb. Portuguese, in the Mughal court were viewed suspiciously, as they too tried to give their trading activities a religious cover.
Till 1857, the British followed the Spanish model, and used religious logic, to justify their plunder and massacre in India. The British used religious differences to foist artificial Muslim ‘leaders’ on India – to finally partition India. While Shourie is critical of these Muslim ‘leaders’ (rightly), of Nehru (partly to blame), he is gentle in his criticism of the British role (Chapter 14).
The Desert Bloc has liberally and continuously used religious logic, to justify their plunder and massacre. In modern times, the new religion is ‘democracy’, ‘fredom’, ‘threat of communism’, etc. for wars by the West in Cambodia, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. In the name of ‘progress’, regime changes were attempted and /or made in Chile, Congo, Cuba, Haiti, Hawaii, Iran, Pakistan, Panama et al
Western propaganda has made us aware of atrocities, genocides, massacres in Islamic and Marxist regimes. Strangely, Arun Shourie has no objections to non-communist and non-Islamic atrocities, genocides, massacres – in India and the world. While Shourie talks of 1400 years of Islamic atrocities, genocides, massacres, (page 222) there is not a word of Western (more during Christian rule) atrocities, genocides, massacres. Is it ignorance – or just plain infatuation with the West, Arunbhai?
Arun Shourie effectively brings out how Indian-Leftist political parties looked towards Soviet Russia and China now, for direction, inspiration – and even instructions (Chapter 9).
How different is that from Shourie’s own loyalty to ‘capitalist-Western’ ideology. His rose-tinted view of capitalist ideologues makes his thesis brittle (Chapter 18). Is this because Arun Shourie has still not discarded his World Bank lenses? To the extent of minimizing the role of slavery in Greek and Roman territories (Chapter 16; page 188). Shourie’s inability to see Soviet collapse, in economic terms (collapse in oil prices), but only in ideological terms is shocking (pages 220-221).
More than priests
It may also be worthwhile to examine the role of Brahmins in military strategy. Recall how Alexander massacred thousands of Brahmins, after they organized a successful opposition to Alexander’s campaign.
Bakhtiyar Khilji’s (errata – earlier wrongly mentioned as Allauddin Khilji) destruction of Nalanda (1193 AD)may have been due to the collaboration between gunpowder producers and the Indian academia. How could the area around Nalanda become the world’s largest producer of saltpetre – a high-technology, essential and scarce element for gunpowder, unrivalled in the world.
Purbias, soldiers from the Eastern India (Bihar and Bengal) were in great demand, due to their expertise in explosives. Recruited by Ranjit Singhji’s armies, preferred by the British, the Purbias were also at the vanguard of the 1857 Anglo-Indian War.
The British villification of Indian Brahman also started soon after the kaala paani campaign by Indian Brahmans slowed British recruitment of indentured labour.
The imagery of rampant Islamic invaders, to which Arun Shourie subscribes, massacring helpless Indians, does not quite hold up – except in Islamic and Colonial narratives. The court historians’ caricature of Indians as perennial victims of invading hordes does not sit well – with facts, logic or commonsense.
I am not impressed
If these ‘official’ Islamic court-historian accounts are true, the final tally of conversions was not very impressive (Chapter 10). Just 25% of the Indian population was Islamic, at the time of independence. Divided into about 12 major sects, like Sunni, Shia, Bohri, Khoja, Ahmadiyya, etc., most Muslims were economically and educationally backward. Not quite the picture of successful invaders. (Many faces of Islam by Mohammed Wajihuddin – ToI: December 23 2010: Page 21).
Colonial history … and historians
The Islamic-conquest of India, is a narrative popularized by colonial historians. First, while Shourie talks of Islam through the prism of Arabic Muslims, we must remember it was not the Arabic dynasties of Sufyanids, Marwanids, Ummayads, Abbasids, Fatimids, Aghlabids, Hafsids who conquered and ruled over India. The answer to the riddle of Islam in India, is not in Arabia but 2000 miles east. In the vast steppes of Mongolia.
The biggest surge in Islamic population came after Mongol rulers, descendants of a non-Islamic Genghis Khan, converted to Islam. The success of Islamic invasions of India too increased after the Mongol Empire became Islamic.
It was not the Arabs, but the Turko-Afghans, from Ferghana to Kabul, who were able to establish rule over India. This region of Ferghana to Kabul, peppered with temples, stupas, Buddhist monastries was considered as a part of India. Military campaigns from this area were no foreign invasions.
Without Indian alliances
This aspect of non-foreign campaigns is more important than just chauvinism. India’s military lead over the rest the world was as formidable as its wealth.
War elephants, an Indian monopoly and specialty, were a feared armour corps, unmatched by any army in the world for 3000-4000 years. Persians, who were clients for Indian war elephants, paid a heavy price after ignoring Indian war elephant corps. The Persians could not stand up to the Arabs; were overrun and Islamized.
Indian cavalry units were legenday – as the inventors of the stirrups. As the largest producer of saltpetre, India’s gunpowder production was twice as large as the rest of the world combined. Behind the might of the British Empire was Indian saltpetre – an essential and scarce element for gunpowder. Behind the British Naval power, was Indian shipbuilding. With such overwhelming military advantages, invading India was not everyone’s cup of tea.
Thus, intra-India alliances were essential for access to elephants, cavalry, explosives and other war material – paving the way for military success.
Slaves for monument building
Monument building surged soon after the Mongol Empire became Islamic. This monument building needed slave labour. Slave-traders catered to the demand for slaves from the vast Mongol Empire, capturing Indians, protected by the Turko-Afghan regimes, like the Mughals in India.
The corridor of slavery
Usually overlooked, never factored, slavery accounted for a large amount of ‘traffic’ from India to Central Asia. The Khyber Pass was the largest corridor for slave trade and traffic, till it was overtaken by trans-Atlantic African slave trade by Europeans, 15th century onwards.
The name Hindu Kush was not due to the killings by invading armies, but the deaths of Hindu captives, as they were transported to Central Asian markets, across barren, cold mountain passes.
More than aphorisms
The important question that Shourie needs to ask – and he does not is, “Why did people give up pagan or other systems for Desert Bloc religions?” Or for that matter why did people accept Buddhism? Mostly, religion conversions were not forced, I believe. It was also not pretty statues, sonorous chants, elaborate temples or majestic mosques.
The reasons maybe somewhere else.
Dharma and moksha
Indic polity, society, culture, ethics did not allow slave trade. For the marginally ethical, religious conversion was the license to participate in slave trade. Conversion to Islam was a way to wealth and power. Much like Westernization is today.
The other distinction which Shourie blurs many a time in his book, is between Islamic rulers and generals (the perpetrators of these massacres and atrocities) and the ordinary Muslim of today (Chapter 14). If the Vatican has committed massacres and atrocities, will we hold every Christian guilty? For crimes committed by a ‘Hindu’ Government, will Arun Shourie hold ordinary ‘Hindus’ responsible?
But Shourie’s logic sometimes escapes me. For instance when Shourie goes onto ‘expose’ double-standards. He criicizes the system for not opposing Mayawati’s ‘murti-abhiyaan’ – but will not accept State installation of statues of Lord Rama (page 200).
Follow me … Worship me
Remember, how Hiranyaksha asked his own son, Prahlad and his subjects to treat and pray to him as god. Are Desert Bloc religions different from Hiranyaksha’s religion?
Arunbhai, the real battle is the battle between a sur Bharattantra and the asuric Desert Bloc ideologies. And these battles play out over centuries.
Arun Shourie’s book is an invaluable contribution to the ‘failure-by-Indian-historians’ thesis. Shourie allows his anti-left bias (for good reasons) to over-ride his better judgment, I believe. That is why Arun Shourie is so depressing, when the Indian position seems to inspire optimism the world over.