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Mercantilism reconsidered by Dani Rodrik

July 28, 2009 1 comment

Healthcare is killing

Healthcare is killing

the mercantilist mindset provides policymakers with some important advantages: better feedback about the constraints and opportunities that private economic activity faces, and the ability to create a sense of national purpose around economic goals. There is much that liberals can learn from it.

Indeed, the inability to see the advantages of close state-business relations is the blind spot of modern economic liberalism. Just look at how the search for the causes of the financial crisis has played out in the US. Current conventional wisdom places the blame squarely on the close ties that developed between policymakers and the financial industry in recent decades. For textbook liberals, the state should have kept its distance, acting purely as Platonic guardians of consumer sovereignty. (via Dani Rodrik: Mercantilism reconsidered).

Public sector or oblivion?

During the Great Depression, more than 19 auto companies (similar to the number of banks today) were folded into the Big 3. The Big 3 lived to fight for another 70 years. In their death throes, the US Big Auto is likely to go the way European auto sector has gone – public sector or oblivion.

What is on the table

Hobsons choice?

Hobson's choice?

2 out of the G-7 countries are bankrupt – US and Britain. Their industrial base was supported by raw materials and captive markets – acquired by genocide, and the loot of centuries.

France, Germany, Canada, Italy  and Australia (not in G7) are tethering on the brink – under the weight of their social security system, and most of their business is in the public sector. A geriatric Japan is dependent almost entirely on exports to these declining seven. Japan’s investment in India and China has been negligible.

Real low … real truth (seen an oxymoron like that?)

The real question – who will pay for this financial crisis?

Not the Americans! No siree. Definitely not. Neither the American super-rich or the American welfare-poor! Not the American tax payers or the American tax evaders? Not the American Whites or the American Blacks?

It is the Chinese, the Russians, Indians, Brazilians, and above all, the Africans, who will pay for these bailouts! They (BRICS+Africa) have done, what bankers call non-recourse lending! The Chinese, Russians, Indians, Brazilians and the Africans, have no recourse. Who will the Chinese go to, for redeeming their US$2 trillion? The bankrupt US of A?

Welcome to the real world.

US economic outlook

How the West can become competitive?

How can the West become competitive?

US auto is down – but not yet out. It will limp along for few more decades. The US is still the prime force in the computing industry – though not on the manufacturing side. US oil industry no longer dominates international markets the way they did in mid-20th century. The US nuclear industry faces increasing competition from a public sector French and Russian industry. The seemingly strong position of the US in agriculture is based on two aspects. Massive direct subsidies – of more than 8 billion dollars. And indirect subsidies of possibly another US$ 8 billion. Most of which goes to the 46000 farmers who account for 50% of the US agricultural production. The communication sector has again seen the erosion of US competitiveness – with the domination of GSM technology seemingly solid for another 10-15 years. The global financial markets were dominated by the US organizations in the past – but with the global financial crisis and the end to dollar dominance may see reduced clout for US firms.

Big Government ... Big oil ...

Big Government ... Big oil ...

With such an economic outlook over the next 10-25 years, what the US leadership may focus on, is Arctic oil. Oil will remain a strategic asset only with high prices (slower production increase and faster demand growth) and if no other energy source appears. Oil finds in the Atlantic and Pacific republics may spoil the party – for instance, Cuban oil.

Much like the respite of the North Sea oil to Britain, Arctic oil may provide a temporary halt to the slide in US economic dominance. If the US can lay its hands on a significant part of it!

The other option is to nationalize the US economy. Like France, Germany and Italy. The economies of France, Germany and Italy are practically run by public sector monopolies – or subsidized behemoths, who make survival of competitors difficult by their ability to sustain losses – based on Government largesse.

The lure of ‘capitalism’ …

The Franco-German-Italian public sector model may be the only answer

The Franco-German-Italian public sector model may be the only answer

Why is the West so keen on calling these publc sector, subsidy driven regimes as Capitalism? Capitalism depended on looted capital and slave labour to prosper – resulting in the famous ‘laissez faire’ quip. Capitalists wanted and got ‘laissez faire’ capitalism – which was a ‘coda’ for unlimited slavery. The restrictions on laissez faire were actually restrictions on slaves.

Now under socialism, they get unlimited protection from ‘destructive’ competition. Which is being papered over by names like crony capitalism, free market capitalism. etc.,  etc.

After the multi-trillion dollar bailout, which has just begun, and with more than US$4 trillion with China, Japan, Russia and India, neither is the outcome certain nor is the outlook bright.

Last but not the least, we must remember the power wielded by the Chartered Companies of Europe – another word for public sector.  East India Company was a public sector company!

The Rest of the World needs to be careful of these public sector monsters!

Caught speaking Malayalam, Apollo nurses asked to resign

Menon said they arrived for the afternoon shift at 1.45 pm. “We greeted each other in the lift lobby in Malayalam and did not realise that the nursing superintendent was standing behind us,” Joseph said.”

Menon added, “We spent the entire day apologising but we were not allowed to enter the ward after that.”

The hospital’s nursing superintendent, Usha Banerjee, said employees were encouraged to speak only in English within the premises. “We cater to an international clientele,” Banerjee said. “In any case, speaking in native languages might jeopardise patient safety; we avoid talking in any language other than English while inside the hospital premises.” (via Caught speaking Malayalam, Apollo nurses asked to resign).

It gets worse … before getting worser?

The inside story on this one is worse. Apparently, whispers are that some of the supervisors at Apollo Hospitals do not speak Malayalam – and were peeved with the giggling and laughing nurses, chattering away in Malayalam. Imagined grouses and paranoid about being ‘insulted’ the supervisors came down heavily on this ‘misbehaviour’ by mandating that only Hindi and English will be used.

And then when the matter came to the NHRC and reached the media, they amended their orders – and under the dubious logic of ‘international’ patients, safety, et al, they tried smuggling in the rule that only English will be used.

The issues at stake

What is worth highlighting in this entire chain of events are the following: –

  1. Only Indian Express and The Telegraph (from Kolkatta) picked on this story, seemingly. No other mainstream media (MSM) ‘voice’ had anything to say on this story. Neither of the newspapers, did not quite know how to ‘deal’ with this ‘issue’.
  2. Some internet news aggregators were better with thaindian.com, with topnews.com and yahoo.co.in picking this story. Some internet forums discussed this – some in a half hearted manner.
  3. If India’s earlier ‘colonial’ masters had behaved in such a manner, it would raised the hackles of the entire country. But now, since the Brown Sahibs are doing it, it passes muster. How does colour make a difference, when an English speaking person, in a position of power, abuse their authority and insult people, using any other language? Does the fact that it is a Brown Sahib make the behaviour less objectionable?
  4. The ‘logic’ of English as an international language slides down the Indian throat – hook, line and sinker? Like it was pointed out,

It is often argued that India has developed and come up in the world so spectacularly because we have English. But then, how did the rest of the G-20 get there? Fifteen of those top countries have made it by functioning almost entirely in their own mother tongue and national language. For the remaining four — the US, UK, Canada and Australia — there was no choice, for English is again their mother tongue.

Clearly, India needs to take a stand – and do away with English. It will only benefit India.

Too much, too soon? – Abheek Barman’s blog-The Economic Times

July 22, 2009 1 comment

By sheer chance, India was colonized by the British and not, say, by the Dutch or the Portuguese. That chance happening made sure that many Indians speak and write English, something that’s useful when English has become the dominant language for science, technology and business. (via Too much, too soon?:Folk Theorem:Abheek Barman’s blog-The Economic Times).

Satori

O, Master Abheek! I didn’t realize this, till the pearls of wisdom from your bountiful pen, burst forth in all their resplendent glory.

But for your profound and wonderful insight, I would have remained a backward and ignorant Indian. Now, I am only backward Indian. At least, I am no longer ignorant of the blessings of the Great English Language.

Till Indians learnt English, they could not speak to anyone else in the world at all. Indian trade must have been zero till the Great White Man came and taught us English! The trade in spices, cotton, metals, textiles, ships I now know is just blatant untruth. Otherwise before our Great White Masters taught us English from 1830 onwards, India could not have traded with the world at all.  Or Indians must have used sign language like deaf and dumb mutts (apologies to the acoustically challenged) – fit to be beggars.

How can we backward Indians ever, but, EVER repay this debt, O Wise Soul? Please enlighten me, O Master!

That chance happening

Rarely do such momentous happen by chance, Mr.Barman.

It was the British success in India, that made English into the most widely spoken language in the world for the last 100 years. It is also the huge subsidy given by the post-colonial Indian Government which has made India as the the world’s largest English-language administered country in the world. And the second largest English speaking population.

Not the other way round Mr.Barman.

The history behind the British ‘success’ in India

After being sidelined by the Papal Bulls, (favoring Spain and Portugal), it was Britain which was first off the block. After Vasco da Gama’s discovery (for Europeans) of trade route to India (1498), round Africa, the British started with the English East India Company (1600). And the first to obtain a royal firmaan in 1612.

The Dutch followed in 1602. The Danish Opperhoved initially started in 1616 and was reborn in 1732, as Asiatisk Kompagni. The Portuguese organised themselves as chartered company in 1628. The French came with the French East India Co. in 1664. The Swedes joined the rat race in 1731 with Svenska Ostindiska Companiet. The Italians came in as the Genoa East India companies. The Hanseatic League had its own operations.

In North America, the Hudson Bay Company (Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson in French) was given a Royal Charter in 1670 by Charles II. It practically owned Canada when the Dominion of Canada was formed – and is the oldest surviving company in North America.

English rule over India continues …

Over the next 250 years, from the formation and the firmaan, till the eve of the 1857 War, the campaign for the conquest and colonization of India was funded by the earnings from the vast slave economies of the Atlantic islands (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies), the loot from North and South Americas, – and later Australia and Africa.

Indian rulers and armies, without recourse to such wealth, fumbled. Indian polity and economy, weakened by the foreign slave rulers from the 12th-14th century (Slave dynasty, Tughlaks, Khiljis) and then the muddled ‘Indo-Saracenic’ rule by the Lodis and Mughals from Afghanistan (with Turkish and Persian advisors) left India in a weak position.

After the British were sent away

In modern times, within a short 70 years after British departure from India, the decline of the Britain has been slightly faster than the turn around in the Indian economy. Britain today, a shell of its former self – with its manufacturing hollowed out, its agriculture in shambles, its economy on the verge of being relegated to the Third World, it is a huge descent.

Much like Spain after Haiti. In a 100 years after Haiti, Spain flamed out. By 1930, it was in the throes of a Civil War. And in Spain today, prostitution is national industry.

Opposite directions

India, in the meantime, led by ‘men of straw’, has moved from being a ship-to-mouth’ basket-case, to a significant economic and political success. Yet, the British colonial administrators needed to prove that only they could rule over India. Indians were after all ‘men of straw … of whom no trace will be found after a few years’. After all, what more could be expected of a people, led by ahalf naked … fakir.

Could India survive without the British Raj?

Could India survive without the British Raj?

In 1947, when the British Raj was coming to an end, we heard that India would not survive without British ‘over sight’. Today, when Britain itself is on the verge of becoming a Third World country, one hears the echoes of the same message. If Britain was indeed so good at its job, why can’t they do anything to save themselves from this terminal decline. Why is English language not able to save the British?

What do we do about the Truth, O Master?

Modern econometric modelling shows that for much of the last 1000 years (at least), India has been a significant economic power. Till the 1900, China and India, this analysis estimates, accounted for 50% of the world economy. Statistical analyses showed India with a world trade share of 25% for much of the 500 years during 1400-1900.

Truth, my Great Master Barman, must be banished from your very presence. It affects the very harmony of your sublime thoughts.

Such a inconvenient thing. The truth!

I married Iranian girls before their execution

July 21, 2009 6 comments

Indian independence, which had a large dose of non-violent protest, was preceded by British loss of initiative and control.

In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a “wedding” ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard – essentially raped by her “husband.”

“I regret that, even though the marriages were legal,” he said.

Why the regret, if the marriages were “legal?”

“Because,” he went on, “I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their ‘wedding’ night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning I married Iranian girls before their girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

“I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over,” he said. “I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her.” (via I married Iranian girls before their execution | Iran news | Jerusalem Post).

Newer methods of killing people humanely

Newer methods of killing people ‘humanely’

The Law of the Land

The ‘law of the land’ is supreme. All are equal in the ‘eyes of the law’ of the land. And if humanity comes in the way, just trash it!

Whether is the US, which is a leader in ‘research’ to kill in a ‘humane’ manner – kill people deemed to be prisoners of the State. Or in Iran where people (young girls) are raped to meet the requirements of the ‘law of the land’.

These legal systems trace their lineage to the Hammurabic Code. Draco’s Laws in Greece, or the lex talionis in Rome, right upto and leading to the world’s largest prison population in the US, or the Sharia in Islāmic societies. Israeli propaganda apart, the real reason for this state of affairs is the legal philosophy inherited from Hammurabi.

The alternative

The other is the Indic model which is evidenced on the laws of Lipit Ishtar, the Hitties legal systems to the Arthashastra of Kautilya Chanakya. In India, till the advent of the Desert Bloc in India – with the brief Islamic rule from 1200-1400 (the Slave Dynasty, the Khiljis and Tuglaks), to the muddled Indo-Saracenic Moghuls to the downright asuric colonial rule. In spite of this, the Indian system has managed a low crime, low prisoner, low capital sentence, low police regime – which is unique in the world.


Trailing the Buddha

July 15, 2009 1 comment

Photographer Benoy K Behl’s pursuit of documenting ancient Indian art and the spread of Buddhism across the world does not show any signs of slowing. He is travelling to Siberia and Afghanistan to shoot art in the monasteries there, and his project will culminate in shows in London and New York, finds Anand Sankar (via Trailing the buddha).

Indian academia abdicates

Western historians trace this art form to Islamic school

Western historians trace this art form to Islamic school

This short post in Business Standard is an eye opener. It is another case of the Dysfunctional Indian academia, which is the story of abdication by the Indian academia in correcting colonial history. Western historiography, based on a colonial agenda and racial superiority is not being challenged – at least not enough.

To the lengthening line of non-specialists, who are re-writing Indian history, like Amaresh Misra (War of 1857), Anant Darwatkar (on Sambhaji Maharaj), Parag Tope (on Tatiya Tope’s role in 1857), Savitri Sawhney (on the Ghadar Party’s contribution to Indian Freedom Movement), we can now add the name of Benoy K Behl. As this article points out,

Some of Behl’s observations on the Indic vision might ruffle feathers in the academia, amongst certain ideologues. While politely saying that he “stays away from political issues”, he points out: “At some places, they are less confused than us. For example in Bali, they know that the Ramayana sets a benchmark for ethical rule. It is literature, an epic of ideas.

As Ganga descends from the heavens, it starts teeming with Nagas (fertility symbol)

As Ganga descends from the heavens, it starts teeming with Nagas (fertility symbol)

Awesome Work

Capturing Indian history across more than 20 countries, Benoy K Behl has spent,

almost two decades now, … to document the spread of Buddhism; his work evident in over 30,000 unique photographs that he has taken all over the world.

He has found that

“At many of these places people may not have seen present-day Indians but they still hold Indian culture in great regard”.

Unlearning and learning

Western history in the thralldom of the Greek Miracle and a colonial agenda of minimizing and subverting Indian history, is a bad (though usual) starting point to understand Indian history. To Benoy K Behl,

“The paintings of Ajanta appeared to me as a world of compassion. An entire world is enshrined there. It had an immense effect on me. I found all the things one had believed in and wanted to believe in there. I was really taught by that art. It is a really good way to learn. Western literature did not come in the way of art and me”.

At Ajanta, Behl says he found that the popular view was that the paintings were a “flash in the pan”. And that there was no documentation of what happened before and after these. “Sheer volumes of art are waiting to be discovered and with them, a perspective will emerge. People haven’t bothered to go to these places.

Mahajanaka vaanprastha

Mahajanaka vaanprastha

Desert Bloc legacy

Benoy K Behl makes an interesting observation that India discovered religion in the last few centuries. Early India never had religion. Which is exactly what the 2ndlook blog has said for the last few years.

“In ancient times, there was nothing called Hindusism, Jainism or Buddhism. This is a European construct of a divided religion. The philosophy of religion was not limited by these divisions in India or in Asia even”.

If I may add – The Europeans are a part of The Desert Bloc – where religion was born and propagated.

Gajalakshmi in Varaha cave

Gajalakshmi in Varaha cave

What Benoy K Behl brings to the table

An independent and interesting perspective. A rare commodity in the best of times. For distressed Indian history, it is invaluable.

Citing an example, Behl says, one of the stories that needs to be documented in India is the contribution of Kumara Jiva, a big name in Chinese Buddhism. “He was the son of Kumara Yana, an Indian nobleman who married Princess Jiva of Kucha (in China). Jiva took her son to the Kashmir valley, where he studied for 19 years. He became the greatest translator for Buddhist scriptures in China, especially the Lotus Sutra.” The Chinese government has built a statue recognising this at the Kizil caves, on the northern Silk Route in the remote Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Behl suggests that India must also “build a statue of Kumara Jiva” in recognition of his origins.

The ancient culture of India is important in world history. European writing has perhaps undermined this.” To substantiate this he says that Ashoka is still revered everywhere from the Volga basin to Japan.

New view on India

More of Benoy K Behl

The National Geographic has put together some good photographs – and I am sure there are more where these came from.

Threat to bomb Indian community centre in Belfast- Hindustan Times

July 14, 2009 3 comments

The Indian Community Centre in Belfast has received a threat letter from Protestant extremists asking immigrants to leave Northern ireland or face bomb attacks.

Besides the Indian centre, the threat letter has been sent to the Belfast Islamic Centre and the Polish Association, reports from Belfast said.

The letter, threatening of racist violence, from the youth wing of the Ulster Defence Association warned: “No sympathy for foreigners, get out of our Queen’s country before our bonfire night (July 11) and parade day (July 12).”

“Other than that your building will be blown up. Keep Northern Ireland white. Northern Ireland is only for white British.” (via Threat to bomb Indian community centre in Belfast- Hindustan Times).

When the Roma Gypsies were attacked and assaulted, ‘knowing’ readers responded that it was the fault of the Roma Gypsy!

After all, how can you blame other people? Apparently, the logic why the Roma Gypsies are disliked is, because,

“people dislike a group that don’t pay taxes, don’t integrate into the community, don’t speak the language of their guest country, and are seemingly the origins of most petty crime in any area they descend upon, and yet this same group demand the community supports them, demands that specialist teachers are provided for their offspring, demand they have unfettered access to the same services as the rest of us but don’t pay their way.”

What could be more logical, when these Roma,

appear anywhere they want, set up their camps, totally dividing entire communities, demand these things, and then get … bleeding heart liberals jumping to their defence when the people (btw – they were the people you guys would have been defending 10 years ago, although,to be fair, you probably patronisingly refered to them as ‘proles’) decide to give them a message, and yet you wonder why they’re hated.

Probably, the Indians, Poles and the Muslims also have similar problems – which they themselves cannot see.

But these enlightened British souls from Northern Ireland can see more and further – then we can.

Malaysia Ends Use of English in Science and Math Teaching – NYTimes.com

July 13, 2009 3 comments

Malaysia will revert to using its national language, Bahasa Malaysia, to teach science and math starting in 2012, abandoning a six-year English policy that the government said had failed to improve student grades.

The long-awaited decision, announced Wednesday, came after months of lobbying by Malay nationalists and was largely viewed as a political decision by local commentators.

Malaysia has taught science and math in English since 2003, when former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad implemented the English-language policy in an attempt to help graduates improve their English and employability.

However, the government has found that academic grades in science and math have fallen since English was introduced. (via Malaysia Ends Use of English in Science and Math Teaching – NYTimes.com).

While India is going on an English over-drive, Malaysia has decided to emasculate English in Malaysia. This leaves Malaysia with one last task. Throwing out Roman character for Bahasa Malaysia.

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