Archive for February, 2009

‘What use is a heritage building if not even 10 people visit it?’-The Times of India

February 23, 2009 2 comments

Already, the existing list of 675 heritage structures in a developing city like Mumbai is way too long. Look, the Taj Mahal is clearly a symbol of heritage, maybe the Agra Fort is too. But if you were to include 1,000 buildings on Agra’s heritage list you would stop the development of that city.

A heritage structure only acquires value if at least 10 people from the nearby ward visit it every day. If not even 10 people from the same ward go to see it, what use is an old building? People go to Crawford Market to buy fruits and vegetables, they use CST to commute, not to gaze at the architecture. I am not implying that these should be demolished to make way for a mall or a 100-storey building but Mumbai needs development, not heritage.

…  London has 500,000 heritage structures while Scotland has 46,000. But they are not growing economies like India. And, in 8any case, must we do what everybody is doing? (via ‘What use is a heritage building if not even 10 people visit it?’-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India).

Endlich …

Like many slave cultures of the past, Britain too is caught in the cross beams of history. More than half a million heritage structures is being effete, decadent and declining. It means giving up. Finito. Completo. Terminato. Endlich. Eindig. ändlig. They are preserving their yesterdays, as they have given up on ever being able to make a better tommorrow.

Jairaj Pathak is right. Very right.

India’s missing monuments

How come there are no Indian equivalents to the pyramids or a coliseum? Why did India never build a Great Wall? Where is the Indian Parthenon? Why are there no great palace complexes? How is it that that there are no Indic mausoleums? Where is India’s Forbidden City?

The Pyramids, The Coliseum, The Great Wall, were all monuments that were raised by slave societies. To impress the slave population? India has no such monuments because India had no slave populations to build such showpieces – and no slaves to impress.

Show case cities are a anti-poor – and a symbol of exploitation. Whether these are in Communist Moscow or Capitalist New York, show case cities are a symbol of slavery and exploitation. Indians did not much care for show case cities, starting with Tughlak’s Tuglakabad and Akbar’s Fatehpur Sikri, were seen as a lost cause.

Classical India

Valmiki’s Ramayana, is breathless with wonder, at Lanka – and makes no mention of ‘wonders of Ayodhya’ as a city. So, shining and gleaming cities were out of place in India – but Indians did associate show case cities with slave-societies of Asuras.

Mahabharata has interesting insight on man-nature conflict – a cautionary tale about the Khandava dahan, and the building of Indraprastha, which the Pandavas lost very quickly. The Pandavas, having secured a favorable award from Dhritarashtra, in their inheritance dispute, decided to set up a new capital.

A reluctant architect, the divine Maya, was pressured, persuaded and influenced to build Indraprastha. The site chosen for the new capital city – a forest, Khandava. Overcome by their hubris, the Pandavas, burnt down the entire forest – and the animals inhabiting the forest. In place of the forest came up the gleaming new city of Indraprastha.

All the kings were called to marvel at the new city. And in her pride, Draupadi mocked at Duryodhana – a guest. To avenge this mockery, Duryodhana challenged Yudhithira for a game of chess (instead of a war) – which Yudhishthira promptly lost. They lost their new city – and were sent, into exile by Duryodhana. Lessons duly learnt, the Pandavas after the completion of their exile, asked for five villages. After winning the War Of Mahabharat, they ruled from the ancient capital of Hastinapur. No more gleaming cities for them.

Cities in Indian history

Cut to Alexander.

Alexander’s campaign to drum up alliances, with Indian kings on the borders of his Persian empire, did not yield much gold or wealth. Unlike the description of Persian cities, the description of Indian cities in all the Greek accounts, is of very simple and plain Indian cities. Not one Indian city is extolled for its beauty, or its buildings, palaces or temples.

What gives?

Unlike Alexander’s experience of poor pickings in India, the Greek image of India, in history, was different. There were wild tales about Indian ants, big as foxes and jackals, that mined gold. These were tales related by Pliny, Herodotus, Strabo, Arrian – partly, based on reports from Megasthenes. And the very same Greek sources show that with each victory, at kingdom after kingdom, Alexander gained little in terms of gold. Unlike many other subsequent raiders.

What gives?

War elephants

War elephants

Extant Indian society

Three elements of the Indian economic system were unique till the 19th century – property ownership by the commoners, widespread ownership of gold and absence of slavery (defined as capture, trade and forced labour by humans – without compensation).

The Indian social structure in pre-Alexandrian Indian had widespread gold and property ownership. With complete absence of slavery, wages could also rise above subsistence levels. This restricted the wealth of Indian rulers – and thus impressive monuments, buildings and palaces are rare or non-existent in pre-medieval India. Thus Indian cities were plain and simple. Royal treasuries were hence, meagre.

Colonial Indian rule dispossessed many Indians of their property – and concentrated wealth in the hands of the few – the Thakurs and the Zamindars. Indians were dispossessed of their gold in the Squeeze Indian Campaign of 1925-1945 – started by Churchill and Montagu Norman and continued by Neville Chamberlain.

Urbanisation in modern India …

Mumbai wants to become another Shanghai, says ex-Chief Minister, Vilas Rao Deshmukh. This aspiration is something that is mostly referred in a derisive manner by others – thankfully.

What Indian cities need instead, is to learn from the home grown examples. For instance, the Mumbai urban train transport system. For a monthly cost of Rs.70-200 (US$2-US$5), people in Mumbai can travel any number of times, in relative discomfort. It is a safe mode of transport – unlike the legacy rail system of the Colonial Britain, which India modernised over 35 years. Accidents on this system happen due to its popularity – overcrowded trains. It is also profitable – and devoid of subsidies. Similar metros (not in scale or traffic though) have come up in Kolkatta and New Delhi.

What Indian cities needs are an Indian idiom – to solve the problems of these Indian cities. Will Indian planners deliver! Jairaj Pathak at least is on the right track.

Some more crumbs and bones – World Bank will lend a few billion to microbanks –

February 16, 2009 3 comments

The World Bank and the German government said Thursday that they hoped to inject as much as $600 million into microcredit banks, fledgling institutions in developing countries that are being starved of financing as the credit markets have tightened.

The effort highlights how even small banks in poor countries are getting caught in the financial crisis — and it offers them a chance to get public money to replace rapidly diminishing private capital. (via Microbanks Are Getting a Cash Infusion –

Under the plan, the World Bank would initially provide $150 million alongside an additional $130 million from the German government. Mr. Zoellick said the bank was soliciting contributions from other countries and agencies, and hoped to mobilize up to $600 million. That would be enough to help 150 to 200 microfinance banks in 40 developing countries.

Crumbs coming your way …

The US is throwing a few bones, our way, to keep us quiet. While they continue the flooding the world with these depreciating pieces of paper. India is losing 10% of its foreign currency reserves every year due to dollar devaluation. What we are getting from the IMF/WB duo is just 1% of this as debt.

And we have a few preening bureaucrats who think this calls for some self-congratulations!

Europe wants to stay relevant

Europe which has a major say in the IMF and World Bank, after the USA, obviously wants to increase its role – and decrease US importance. To gets its way, it has gone on a major diplomatic offensive – to the extent of restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba.

To placate the Third World, the duopoly and Europe may show some token resistance – and finally give the Third World some minuscule voting rights. The Third World must not waste time on reforming the IMF and World Bank – but instead focus on setting up a system to manage the Third reserve currency.

As an interim measure, to deal with the current liquidity problem, the US Fed, the IMF and World Bank should be pressured to part with some liquidity.

Why flog the IMF and World Bank dead horses.

Interview after G-20 Washington Summit

P.Chidambaram – They will give greater representation and voice to developing countries … Now whether they will be ready through that I can’t say, they have set the ball rolling now and it would be difficult now to resist any governance reforms on the IMF.(via Moneycontrol >> News >> Economy >> G20 meet sees agreement on common accounting standards: FM)

Describing the G20 summit as “very successful”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh … said that … There was one important significance which is clear that the balance of power is shifting increasingly in favour of emerging economies,

“We were previously also invited for the past couple of years for the G8 meetings. But consultations were merely for the sake of form. For the first time there was a genuine dialogue between many of the developed countries and the emerging economies,” he said. (via PM terms G20 meet as ‘very successful’)

Note the language …

This is the language of recipients, of pleading and impotence. Chidambaram says that ‘they’ will now “give greater representation and voice to developing countries” Manmohan Singh mirrors the sentiment when he says,”consultations were merely for the sake of form”.

The Developing World FTA

Instead of breaking heads with the WTO, the Developing World should declare a 100 country FTA. As Rajat Nag, of the ADB points out,

“East Asia already trades 55% of its output within the region. India’s trade with China, Japan and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is increasing. That is the structural shift which will have to happen. Our forecasts are not based on any dramatic shift”

Put the Doha round in deep freeze, and turbo charge work on a FTA within the developing world. That can add another 2%-4% to economic growth – especially to the poorest countries.

The Third Global Reserve Currency

To this add the Third Global Reserve Currency option – and junk the Dollar and the Euro. With this, the World economy will have two strong drivers for economic growth – without dependence on the West. The world needs to move away from the Dollar-Euro duopoly to tri-polar currency regime.

This calls for leadership – intellectual and political. Does the developing world have it? Can India provide it?

Indian Muslims Take Global lead – ‘Jihad and terrorism poles apart’

February 16, 2009 3 comments

A group of ulema (religious scholars) came out heavily against terrorism on Saturday. Besides reiterating the Deoband fatwa against

terrorism-first issued at the seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in February last year- and repeated at many mammoth anti-terrorism rallies in the country since then, the clerics also declared suicide bombings as anti-Islam. (via ‘Jihad and terrorism poles apart’-The Times of India).

The first step

On February 22nd, 2008, the Deoband Seminary, the most respected Islamic seminary in South and South East Asia, issued a anti-terrorism declaration at a huge public meeting attended by hundreds and thousands of people. This set up a new direction in Islamic social dialogue – where a non-establishment, Islamic theological group came out against terrorism. Subsequently, some other ‘liberals’ jumped onto this bandwagon.

And then …

Pakistan was sent on a cold turkey … by Saudi Arabia, China and the US. Pakistan has been forced to go to IMF which is prescribing a heavy cut back in defence spending.

But most interestingly …

Suddenly the world has been reminded about Khan Abdul Khan Ghaffar Khan. The LA Times recently ran an column on him.

As the 2ndlook post ‘Behind The Web of terror’, on December 17th, 2007, pointed out, the answer to the Pakistani problems in the North West tribal areas was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. On October 3rd, 2008, the Frontier Gandhi’s grandson was the target of suicide bomber. The terrorists are obviously worried that Khan Abdul Khan Ghaffar Khan’s sensibility may make a comeback.

Hopefully, this a new beginning for Pakistan …

History of Hindu Muslim Feud …?

For starters, you must consider the Hindu Muslim fight for the overthrow of British colonialism from 1857 War to 1947. The Deoband Seminary, Sheikh Abdullah were all popular Muslim leaders – who did not wish for or support the formation of Pakistan. Allama Iqbal (now the iconic figure in Pakistan) converted to the a very nascent two-nation theory after his stint in England – circa 1909. Poets like Sahir Ludhianvi moved from Pakistan to India. MJ Akbar’s family was another that moved from Bangladesh (then part of Pakistan) to India.

The two nation theory was a British creation – and remains a colonial legacy.

After 150 years, the dreams still lives – From 1857-2008

This is Mahmud Madani – head of Deoband Islamic seminary. Deoband seminary was set up after the 1857 War, as a religious institution to ‘escape’ British repression. A 75 years later, the Deoband school became famous during Independence due to its strong anti-Jinnah, anti-Partition stand. 60 years later, Mahmud Madani still talks about ‘our’ India.

His interview here lays out the land very clearly – without the pussyfooting around the issues. For all those in India, who are onto the Islamic demonization route, this should make them re-think.

In the West …

Sometime back, Nicholas Sarkozy reminded Manmohan Singh to take care of Christians in Kandhamal. Soon after that, the Pope came out and advised Christians that their faith came first – and their country and society later. What would happen in Ayatollah Ali Khameini told that to Mulsims in Britain, France and USA? Pope Benedict has confirmed the true intentions of the missionaries. Let us understand this for what this is – backdoor attempts to subvert Indian cultural fabric. Nothing less.

When Acharya Rajneesh ‘converted’ a few thousand Christians to his brand of beliefs (in Oregon, USA), he was picked up, packed out and sent back to India – on charges of ‘chemical warfare.’

India has 2.5 crore Christians – out of 110 crores. I would like to see how the EU would react if Indian missionaries went about converting 12.5 million Christians to Hinduism – or 7.5 million Christians to Hindus in the US! Russia has long persecuted the Hare Krishna devotees (spontaneous White Hindus converting White Christians).

For a beginning let them stop targetting Roma Gypsies for persecution.

Lowest levels of religious, ethnic, linguistic diversity,

The sight of the West, strutting as a protector of freedom on the global stage is a hoax. How can the West have a problem with Native American tribes (aka Red Indians) and the Aborigines – if there are none left. The West which has the highest levels of prison populations in the world – raucously reminds the world of lessons in freedom.

Western pre-occupation

With One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festival are the root of most problems in the world.

And this ain’t the lowest …

A free online game has sparked outrage among Muslims, in Australia. A player has to kill as many Muslims as possible has sparked an uproar in Australia, with members of the community accusing the government and police of double standards in their efforts to stop the game.

Things will get worse – and I am not sure when they will get better.

The West can speak from both sides of the mouth – tell Indians to respect foreign missionaries who want to convert Indians to their religion – and the West can continue with this demonization of Islam.

This is freedom – from both sides. For the West.

Wishful thinking or ignorance

Actually neither. It is propaganda.

The West has the lowest levels of religious diversity – and the way they have dealt with it is simple – genocide. Native Americans in Canada, USA, Native Aborigines in Australia are excellent examples.

India however, is exactly – and unfortunately, the only country of its kind. No country offers the freedom of religion that Muslims have in India – including Muslim countries. Christians cannot proselytize with as much freedom (and arrogance) in any other country as in India.

That is inconvenient truth (for the West) Mr.Kaplan.

Modern day demonization

The Western campaign aimed at the demonisation of Islam has replaced the Jewish demonisation (Shakespeare joined in with his anti-Semitic Merchant Of Venice). Without taking responsibility for the destabilisation of the Islamic World by the liquidation of the Ottoman Empire after WW1 – perpetrated by Anglo Saxon countries and the French.

Cover up

The problems in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle East have their genesis in the cynical intervention by the West – in the last 150 years. These interventions have imbalanced traditional structures – and magnified problems. The US has turned Peshawar into a military arms bazaar. CIA created these Afghan Frankensteins – in pursuit of it own imperial competition with USSR.

What was earlier localized tribal infighting in the Pashtun areas, which could possibly have been controlled by a leader like the Frontier Gandhi, has now been internationalized. The resultant toxic-load of terrorism is the highest in India.

The demonization of Islam is real threat to the peace and stability of this world. And it is an attempt to deflect Western culpability and responsibility for the present day ills.

Bush helped us forget …

Bill Clinton, arguably, would have become the US President for the 3rd time – but for bar by the US Constitution. And he is the one who facilitated the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia – and the Islamic demonization, which George Bush so successfully carried forward.

After the Iraq War and the Afghanistan quagmire, George Bush has become a favorite whipping boy – and people have forgotten Bill Clinton’s legacy – Monica Lewinsky apart. And Bill Clinton’s point man was Emanuel ‘Rahmbo’.

And who is Obama’s? The same ‘Rahmbo’. The more things change, the more they remain the same. I wonder how much, fiction inspires reality is based on fiction – which feeds on real life …

Look at Israel

You only have to look at a failed state like Israel, to understand where ‘false’ persecutions can take you. Where would Israel be – without US ICU support. It has been on ICU support for the last 60 years.

Casting the U.S. as Parent in a Teenage World – Thomas P. M. Barnett –

February 16, 2009 Leave a comment

“It took us 89 years to free the slaves and 189 years to guarantee African-Americans the right to vote,” he writes. “Women waited 144 years before earning suffrage. If a mature, multiparty democracy was so darn easy, everybody would have one.” (via Review of Book – ‘Great Powers’ by Thomas P. M. Barnett – Casting the U.S. as Parent in a Teenage World –

Maybe, Mr.Barnett, before you build a case for more intervention by the ‘adult’ US in the lives of immature Rest, he should look at the American record again!

The writer forgets how the disenfranchisement laws still work in the US. The disenfranchisement laws came into effect by the 1890’s – that continue till today. This ensured that the disproportionate numbers of Blacks could not vote – and George Bush became the President of the USA for the 2nd time. After some 60,000 Black Voters were disenfranchised, George Bush technically, won by less than 1000 votes (most of the disenfranchised voters were expected to vote against George Bush).

Or that in the Police Republic of The US has the largest number of people in prisons – disproportionately African Americans. USA, with a population of 30 crores (300 million), has a criminal population of 70 lakhs (7 million) – behind bars, on probation or on parole. US Government estimates a figure of 20 lakhs (2 million) people serving prison sentences.

Though US women have the vote, they cannot elect their own. Where is the US woman as a President?

Freedom - US Style ...?

Though, maybe the reviewer may be right, when the reviewer claims in the closing line, “it is hard to disagree with his … observation that “the world desperately wants America back.”

Especially looking at the Middle East, that US propaganda may be working. Maybe, the Middle East does want its Unca Sam fix.

Or that Indians may want ‘freedom’ – US style.

Pregnancies and media reactions!

February 16, 2009 1 comment

Facts apart, media and community reactions are also dictated by identity. How would media react to a ‘Hindu’ child father or to a ‘Caucasian’ mother of fertility-drugs assisted-octuplets.

Anyone or freedom ...?

Anyone for freedom ...?

Octomon Nadya Suleman case

The public relations group that has represented octuplets mother Nadya Suleman is stepping down because of death threats, its president said Saturday.

Joann Killeen also said the mother now has an agent: Wes Yoder, the same man who arranged book and music deals for the McCaughey septuplets a decade ago and publicity for controversial pastor Rick Warren. (via The Associated Press: Octuplets mother now has agent but no publicist).

and then came the other story.

Alfie Patten becomes a father

A British schoolboy who has grabbed headlines by becoming a father at 13 … amid calls for a crackdown on the trend towards “children having children” as Tory leader David Cameron put it … Prime Minister Brown call(ed) to avoid teenage pregnancies as figures showed that Britain had the highest teenage pregnancy in Western Europe … pro-life campaigners praised the young couple for their “courage” in deciding against abortion … experts called for better sex-education in schools … Police said it was “not in anyone’s interest” to prosecute the couple. (via Teenage dad not to be prosecuted).

After so much media attention, I have only two questions – What if Nadya Suleman was a White, Anglo Saxon Protestant – instead of a Muslim?

And what if 13 year old Alfie Patten and his 15-year-old girlfriend Chantelle Stedman were Hindus in India?

My fear is that the most two-faced reaction would actually come from Indian media – especially, the Indian-English media?

Facts apart, media and community reactions are also dictated by identity

US prison population just got larger … this time it is kids

February 13, 2009 3 comments

Two American judges charged with accepting bribes to convict juveniles for imprisonment at a private sector prison – a disaster waiting to happen.

Put em in ...

Put 'em in ...

In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

Prosecutors say Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC. The judges were charged on January 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania supreme court.

No company officials have been charged, but the investigation is still going on. (via New low: US judges jailed kids for cash-US-World-The Times of India).

Just a short step away …

USA, with a population of 30 crores (300 million), has a criminal population of 70 lakhs (7 million) – behind bars, on probation or on parole. US Government estimates a figure of 20 lakhs (2 million) people serving prison sentences.

And this was something that was waiting to happen. It is no accident.

In contrast …

The current status of Indian criminal system is a study in contrast.

India, with a population of 110 crores (1100 million) has a prison population of 2 lakhs (0.2 million). The Indian National Human Rights Commission gives a figure of 3.5 lakhs as the prison population – including convicts and those who are undergoing trial. The UK Home Office survey of World Prison Population estimates Indian prison population at 2.5 lakhs.

With less than 25 people per 100,000 in prison India has the world’s lowest imprisonment rate. Cynics may snicker at India’s ‘inefficient’ police or the slow court procedures as the cause for this low prison population. That can only mean criminals are at large and India must, therefore have the highest crime rate – which is not true. India has low or average crime rates – based on category.

The root causes of high crime levels …

At different times, high crime levels are blamed on the following five elements. The theory in crime management is control these five and you are in control: –

  1. Police to population ratio (increase police force).
  2. Prison population (put more criminals behind bars)
  3. Capital punishment (kill enough criminals to instil fear)
  4. Poverty (it is povery which the root of all crime)
  5. Gun ownership (more guns means more crime)

The Indian conundrum …

India has the low scores on the first three indices – low number of policemen, low prison population and low capital punishment number – and high on gun ownership and poverty.

Yet the crime rate in India is in the low-to-average range. How come?

Is it difficult to imprison people?

Increased imprisonment of suspected criminals can be easily enabled by lowering burden of proof and creating legislation which will allow for incarceration.

For instance, the various laws under which disproportionately large number of African-Americans were disenfranchised and /or imprisoned in the US. Or the large number of Muslims have been imprisoned in the UK.

And that brings us back to the central question …

How is it that India has the lowest prison population, the lowest police-to-population ratio and an average crime rate?

Behind the paradox is  4000 years in history

Why India’s top cities matter … or do they really?

February 11, 2009 1 comment

These giant corporations, fueled by huge debt & equity, will drive out competition, and lower the boom on consumers and the farmer – like in the USA.
Information on dangers of industrial food is suppressed by more noise through campaigns of advertising, PR, sponsored research  | Cartoon Concept - Mike Adams; Cartoon Art - Dan Berger; 2006; source and courtesy -  |  Click for larger source image.

Information on dangers of industrial food is suppressed by more noise through campaigns of advertising, PR, sponsored research | Cartoon Concept - Mike Adams; Cartoon Art - Dan Berger; 2006; source and courtesy - | Click for larger source image.

India’s top 20 cities account for just 10 per cent of the country’s population, but this population earns more than 30 per cent of the country’s income, spends 21 per cent and, so, accounts for just under 60 per cent of the surplus income. The next lot of cities account for 20 per cent of population, 13 per cent of income and under eight per cent of surplus income or savings. Rural areas account for 70 per cent of population, 64 per cent of expenditure and just a third of the country’s surplus income. It’s obvious then that India’s savings can grow only as the country’s urbanisation rises. Given this, the promise of creating more urban centres would be a more effective tool in getting votes from rural India. (via Rajesh Shukla: Why India’s top cities matter).

Twisted data

How about also pointing out, Mr.Shukla, that urban India hogs all the infrastructure investments? Or that traditional banking (in the form of money lenders) has been done to death in the rural areas – and ‘modern’ urban banks do not go the countryside. Or that the traditional health infrastructure has been demolished in rural areas – and urban areas are getting all the investments. Or that credit growth in the rural areas has been choked for nearly 80 years now – and the Indian farmer competes with the US farmer, without the US$15-20 billion dollar subsidy (estimates vary).

Are you looking at the fact that rural India which is largely a user of Indian languages is excluded from higher education, which is transmitted in English? Has it occurred to you that this exclusion of India’s rural population from higher education could be the reason for the stagnation in rural areas?

Why is the US consumer not getting low food prices? What stops these food corporations from delivering low prices to consumers and high prices to farmers in the USA?  |  Cartoo by Richard Crowson; 18th April 2008;  source and courtesy -  |  Click for larger image size.

Why is the US consumer not getting low food prices? What stops these food corporations from delivering low prices to consumers and high prices to farmers in the USA? | Cartoo by Richard Crowson; 18th April 2008; source and courtesy - | Click for larger image size.

Farmers – in India and USA

The Indian farmer working without subsidies, with low technology, lower productivity has a cost edge over his European an American counterparts.

Giant food corporations, killed buying competition with high prices (to farmers), direct buying from farmers (at higher prices), monoclonal seeds that destroy bio-diversity. And the US consumers are not getting the lower food prices that are being promised in India.

And paid hacks of these Western corporations are trying to tell Indian consumers and policy makers that these giant corporations will reduce the costs of food In India.

Corporate farming … anyone?

Today, an ‘efficient’ and ‘hi-tech’ agricultural farm sector in the US needs more than US$ 15-20 billion (estimates vary) of subsidies to survive.

We may reach this stage sooner than you think.  |  Cartoon by Mark Knight; on 7/8/09; cartoon source and courtesy -  |  Click for a larger image.

We may reach this stage sooner than you think. | Cartoon by Mark Knight; on 7/8/09; cartoon source and courtesy - | Click for a larger image.

The US-EPA says, “By 1997, a mere 46,000 of the two million farms in this country (America), accounted for 50% of sales of agricultural products (USDA, 1997 Census of Agriculture data)– and gobble up most of this huge subsidy that lowers Third World agricultural prices.

These lower agricultural prices devastate agriculture in Third World countries, creating man-made famines. These man-made famines, of course, gives the West a false sense of superiority. (bold letters mine).

Beasts of Debt & Equity

These giant corporations are aiming for entry into India – promising ‘efficiencies’ in buying (which will give consumers a better price), and higher prices for farmers (which will increase farm incomes). Of course, this will last as long as there is competition. Once, these giant corporations, fueled by huge amounts of debt and equity, drive out competition, they will lower the boom on the consumers and the farmer – like in the USA.

Raj Patel, in his book, Stuffed and Starved, demonstrates how global food corporations are behind global food habits, imbalance traditional diets, creating disease epidemics (like diabetes) – and how India needs to be careful before crafting industrial policies that encourage these global corporations to destroy Indian agriculture. A book review extracts some key points as follows,

What we think are our choices, says Patel, are really the choices of giant food production companies. Millions of farmers grow food, six billion people consume it. But in between them are a handful of corporations creating what Patel calls “an hourglass” model of food distribution. One Unilever controls more than 90% of the tea market. Six companies control 70% of the wheat trade. Meanwhile, farmers across the world are pitted against each other, trying to sell these gatekeeper companies their produce. And if you think the consumer comes out on top because of all this competition, think again.

Selective data, is usually called propaganda Mr.Shukla. I wonder, who your minders are?

Fitch cuts Russian debt rating, sparks memories of ’98 crash- International Business-News-The Economic Times

February 8, 2009 1 comment

Emerging markets are being battered by the global financial crisis as investors shun assets seen as being riskier. Russia, the world’s largest energy supplier, has spent $210 billion, or more than a third of its currency reserves, supporting the ruble since August, Fitch said.

“The country made a mistake trying to defend the ruble when it was indefensible,” said Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who forecast a US recession two years ago, in an interview in Moscow. (via Fitch cuts Russian debt rating, sparks memories of ’98 crash- International Business-News-The Economic Times).

G7 and OECD countries have created a club for themselves, by giving each other unlimited line of credit – while the developing world gets credit based on fast-depreciating dollar/euro foreign exchange reserves. Maybe this needs an inversion.

The OECD and G7 should be asked to pay their purchases. In a new global reserve currency. And the BRICS need to start working on that.

Right and wrong-The Times of India

February 8, 2009 1 comment

Those who support the change on the ground that the amendment merely puts in the statute what is already a requirement of arrest and part of police practice ignore the fact that the amendment alters the emphasis significantly, and mandatorily provides that the accused “shall not be arrested in respect of the offence referred to in the notice unless, for reasons to be recorded, the police is of the opinion that he ought to be arrested”. The sad truth is that India has a surplus of legislations but a poor record in enforcement.

By contrast, due to a combination of emotional reactions coupled with some jingoistic formulations, the lawyers have clearly got it wrong in their criticism of the LLP Act. The Act seeks to provide for the creation and regulation of LLPs essentially as hybrid entities which retain the partnership model but are closer to corporations in design and function. (via Right and wrong-The Times of India, By Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Minister in GOI).

Abhishek Manu Singhvi is a Minister in the the current UPA run Government. He is a legal eagle – and the sophisticated face and spokesman for the Congress Party.

Wrong is right, Mr.Sanghvi …

When you are worried about abuse of power by the police, your concerns  are quite misplaced Mr.Sanghvi.The Indian Police is doing a good job – and they can do without your cynicism. So you are quite wrong when you are worried about the police abuse of power – with this amendment in law.

All the 5 indices (below) of crime management create a bias for a lawless Indian society and rampant crime. With these four indices, namely: –

  1. High gun ownership
  2. Low police-to-population ration
  3. Low prison population
  4. Highest number of poor people in the world
  5. Capital punishment as a deterrent

against a stable social system, how does India manage low-to-average crime rates.

With less than 25 people per 100,000 in prison, India has the world’s lowest imprisonment rate. Cynics may snigger at India’s ‘inefficient’ police or the slow court procedures as the cause for this low prison population.

That can only mean criminals are at large and India must, therefore have the highest crime rate – which is not true. India has low or average crime rates – based on category. How can India have such a low prison population, with a poor police-to-population ratio and a crime rate which is not above the average – in spite of a large civilian gun population.

And what you think is a right move …

On the other hand, limited liability companies have created a huge debt mountains. What about expanding liability, instead of limited liability. While LLCs can have limited outward liability, they can create unlimited inward liabilities – in the way of debt, bonds, debentures, notes, paper, et al.

These two elements, limited liability and a separate legal entity, have made these Frankensteins different from any previous association of businessmen. The legal structure of corporations allow actual owners to hide behind a legal facade, without liability. These corporations have access to large amounts of fiat currency. Old debts are repaid by taking new debts. Competition is killed by raising entry barriers – which is again done by accessing huge amounts of debt. Some of this borrowings are irredeemable – and called equity.

Limited liability of the shareholders has meant that various stakeholders usually have little or no recourse – when things don’t pan out. Some stakeholders (usually shareholders and management) have access only to an upside, other stake holders, actually, finally take the risk. Such companies resist any attempt at accountability.

It is this ability to evade ethical practices and issues that differentiates these corporations from other business enterprises. From the massacre of millions of Indians during the 1857 War (by the East India Company), the many regime changes that corporations have pushed, the record of these organizations has been far from average.

Concentration Of Power

Newer methods to measure this concentration are devised. Today the most popular methods are the Fortune 500 listing and the Forbes listing. These listings finally demonstrate that half the world’s economic output is controlled by about 25,000 individuals. Add another 25,000 politicians and bureaucrats. We have about 50,000 people managing the lives of 5 billion people. Read this with the faceless entity aspect, it becomes more worrisome.

What Is Happening In India

Out of the 30 current Sensex stocks, which make up the Indian Benchmark Index, 15 started off as SME (small and medium enterprises) 20-30 years ago. These organizations today are lobbying (successfully) to ensure that other SMEs do not challenge and compete with these large corporations. Indian policy makers, apparently, cannot learn from successes.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi is so mixed up …

Just like his Government and party is …

The LLCs and LLPs are legal monsters that are the creations of the West to concentrate power and exploit their power.

SinghviSaheb – Get up and give up … your notions. They are mixed up.

Robert McNamara and the Ghosts of Vietnam

February 8, 2009 Leave a comment
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread - McNamara and LBJ

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread - LBJ and McNamara

he was so impressed by the logic of statistics that he tried to calculate how many deaths it would take to bring North Vietnam to the bargaining table … (later) he wanted to know why his reckoning had been wrong, why the huge casualties that he had helped inflict had failed to break the will of the men in Hanoi …

His ruminations about this began at the Americans’ April meeting in Washington, where he, Cooper and General Vesser agreed that casualties did not seem to weigh heavily with North Vietnam …. “Was there any consideration of the human cost in Hanoi as they made these decisions?” McNamara asked. “Is the loss of life ever a factor?” He noted that while 58,000 Americans had been killed, the most authoritative estimate — in a September 1995 article by General Uoc — put the number of Vietnamese deaths at 3.6 million. “It’s equivalent to 27 million Americans!” McNamara exclaimed.

To explain this to himself, he remembered … There were some people to whom life was not the same as to us, he reasoned as he stood one evening in the hotel lobby. (via Robert McNamara and the Ghosts of Vietnam; ellipsis and brackets mine).

McNamara’s unique contribution to the Vietnam War was ‘body count’.

He was right. Only he could have killed an equivalent of 27 million Americans – for American neo-colonial objectives.

And still talk about the value of human life. With a straight face.

The Free Press?!

The Free Press?!

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