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Archive for August, 2009

OilMin mulls defamation suit against Anil Ambani’s RNRL

Anything more that you have to say, Shri Deora?

Anything more that you have to say, Shri Deora?

The ministry is contemplating seeking the law ministry’s view on slapping the suit on RNRL over a claim that government share from KG-D6 initially will be just Rs 500 crore, while RIL will earn a super-normal profit of Rs 49,500 crore.

Sources in the ministry stated that RNRL and its executives stuck to this claim despite the government clarifying in a written statement that its revenues from KG-D6 over the life of the field would be more than Rs 84,000 crore, with a clear objective to “malign and tarnish its image”. (via OilMin mulls defamation suit against RNRL).

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Ben Bernanke’s version of history blames the victims

But for Bernanke...

For Bernanke, central bankers were the heroes. In the face of irrational hordes, they offered liquidity and a host of innovative policies, ensuring that financial panic did not lead to a new Great Depression. In Bernanke’s word, “the outcome could have been decidedly worse”.

His assessment isn’t exactly wrong. But as a historical record it is incomplete and far too generous to central bankers. (via Ben Bernanke’s version of history is incomplete – Telegraph).

Blame the Chinese!

Blame the Chinese!

It ain’t the first time

Helicopter Ben has a way with history. Earlier he created the concept of ‘savings glut’ – thinly blaming China ( and others) for saving money! He explained how,

“a significant increase in the global supply of saving–a global saving glut–which helps to explain both the increase in the U.S. current account deficit and the relatively low level of long-term real interest rates in the world today.”

This time around he was congratulating Central Bankers and policymakers

“in the United States and around the globe responded with speed and force to arrest a rapidly deteriorating and dangerous situation.”

Awesome! The man is so brazen! He has no shame!!

Of course, he makes no mention how the current Great Recession first came about by printing too much money – and then keeping interests low. Edward Hadas is right in one thing at least! He says, “Those who spread kerosene should not take too much credit for putting out fires.”

Benny Boy – That is good advice. Take it.

The future of news – Indians as the largest consumers /producers of news?

August 30, 2009 1 comment

A take-off on the reality show - Sach Kaa Saamna

A take-off on the reality show - Sach Kaa Saamna

Indians are a news-crazy lot. By all reckoning we have the largest number of news channels and are the second-largest newspaper market in the world. If you add up the average across newspapers, news on TV and news online, in 2008, Indians spent an average of 50 minutes a day consuming news.

During the same period, advertisers spent Rs 12,000-odd crore to reach news audiences in those 50 minutes, according to data put together by Starcom MediaVest, a media buying agency. Add in subscription revenues and news is a roughly Rs 16,000 crore market. That makes it the second-largest media business in India after entertainment — in audience share, topline and (arguably) investor-interest too. (via Vanita Kohli-Khandekar: The future of news).

Interesting bit of analysis. This should make Indian media hopefully less of a Western clone! India as a softpower? The dark cloud on the horizon – the over-important position of English language!

‘BJP after Sardar because it needs an icon with mass appeal’ – Interviews – OPINION – The Times of India

August 30, 2009 1 comment

History, however, shows that India has disintegrated whenever the Centre has become weak. The regimes of Ashoka, Allauddin Khilji and Aurangzeb all became weak because their descendants were weak rulers. (via ‘BJP after Sardar because it needs an icon with mass appeal’ – Interviews – OPINION – The Times of India).

With historians like this, who needs enemies!

Firstly before regurgigating Western cliches, Shri Tripathi should ask a fundamental question.

Why did Ghenghis Khan avoid India?

India, a rich civilization, with massive exports and large gold reserves, was an attractive target. Genghis Khan, whose empire, from Mongolia to Austria, from Central Asia to Russian borders, was larger than Alexander’s – and whose conquests brought Chinese culture to Europe (like abacus, gunpowder, paper, printing) by-passed India completely.

Why?

It was India’s military paradigm

From the Battle of Kadesh to the retreat of Alexander, Indic rulers changed the military paradigm. Buddhist texts talk about 16 mahajanapadas – which formed this ruling federation. Five very important changes were seen. Buddhist texts refer to the “the 63,000 kings of Jambudwipa”. Power was distributed amongst the many kings to provide a choice of competing administrations, to which the populations could migrate, based on advantage, opportunity and benefit.

One war chariots became less important. By the time of Alexander’s march in India, chariots were a minor part of the Indian armies. Instead, the importance of cavalry increased. Bessos, the Bactrian mathista, designated to succeed Darius III, led the successful Indic cavalry charge, at Gaugamela, on the Macedonian right flank – which forced Alexander to focus on the centre of the Persian army, led by Darius III.

When Alexander finally was able to make his way to India, he met a fierce onslaught of the Indian cavalry units – supported by fearsome elephants. Indian cavalry units were always smaller than in other nations due to paucity of horses in India. India was a traditional importer of horses. For combat use, Indian cavalry used imported horses and Indian breeds. Behind Rajput power, was the successful breeding of the Marwari horses, which came about only in the 12th century. Earlier Indian horses easily trained and more intelligent, but smaller with less stamina, and used as as pack animals.

Two – a system of alliances supporting frontline kingdoms in the entire North West Indian swath was formulated. For instance, against the Assyrian invasion, led by Semiramis, a minor Indian king, Stabrobates, was supported to beat back the Assyrian invasion. Against Cyrus the Great, Tomyris, a Scythian Queen was supported to massacre Persian invaders. Alexander’s nightmare began immediately, as soon as he crossed into the Indic area.

Instead of the complete capitulation and collaboration that Alexander got from the defeated Achaemenid ruling family of Sisygambis, Stateira, Oxathres (brother of Darius III; also written as oxoathres and oxyathres) et al, the foursome of Bessos, Spitamenes, Datafernes and the Scythians made Alexander’s life miserable. At Gaugamela, it was Bessos and his Indian cavalry, which broke Alexander’s formations.

The tribes and kshatrapas (satraps) of Indian North West swath, delayed Alexander for nearly three years – before he could step into India. In India, Alexander had to pay the King of Taxiles, Omphis, (Ambi) 1000 talents of gold (more than 25 tons of gold) – to secure an alliance. He had to return the kingdom of Punjab to Porus – purportedly, after winning the battle. His loot and pickings from India were negligible. Alexander’s response“the Macedonians frequently massacred the defenders of the city, especially in India.”

Alexander realized that the Indian Brahmins had influenced the Indian princes to organize and support the Indian war against Alexander. Greek sources cite, how at ‘The City of Brahmans’, he massacred an estimated 8000-10,000 of these non-combatant Brahmins. Thus while, invaders were kept at bay, within the Indic area, borders and crowns kept changing and shifting.

Less than 300 years after Alexander, Romans came close to Indian border. They were led by Marcus Licinius Crassus – estimated (or allegedly) worth 200,000,000 sestertii. A writer of classical journals estimated that to be worth about 7.6 million in 1860. Inflation adjusted, about 7.6 billions. Source of Crassus’ wealth – slavery, corruption, pillage, bribery et al. Crassus is more famous in history for three things – One, for his wealth, Two – for having crucified thousands of rebellious slaves on the Via Appia, after defeating Spartacus’ Slave Army and Three, as the man who funded the rise of Julius Caesar.

It is his death, that is usually glossed over.

The rich Crassus decided to chase military fame“to penetrate even to Bactria, India, and the shores of the Eastern Ocean.” The North West swath was ruled by the Indo-Parthian rulers from circa 100 BC onwards. Western historical narratives place King Guduvhara (who Western historians equate with Gondophares) as a prominent king of this era – based on a mix of coins and contradictory written evidence. The value of numismatics in India gets diluted, the moment one factors the fact that Indian rulers did NOT have an exclusive prerogative to mint coins. Freedom to issue coinage was general – based on the acceptability of the issued coinage. Hence, Indian royal Indian coinage was usually crude and simplistic.The capital of these Indo-Parthian kingdoms was Takshashila – the major centre of Indian learning and the site of the Takshashila University.

A lesser known noble of this kingdom was the Suren family – one of who, led an Indo-Parthian-Iranian army against Roman armies, in 53 BC at Carrhae, led by the billionaire, Marcus Licinius Crassus. The Surens were  possibly powerful warlords – ruling over Siestan (Shakyastan). These Indo-Scythians, expert horsemen and archers, creators of the Parthian Shot (popularized as parting shot), pulverized the Roman armies. Crassus was captured – and his greed  was satiated when molten gold was poured down his throat. Mark Anthony tried avenging Crassus defeat – with a disastrous defeat, again.

For the next nearly 400 years, Romans were wary of any large expeditions into Indo-Persian territories. At least, the Italians did not forget Crassus. 1800 years later, Dante Alighieri, asked Crassus, ‘Crassus, tell us, because you know, how does gold taste?”

Of General Suren, not much is known – which by now, should not surprise us. Also, some ancient maps show the Gandhara-Takshashila region as Suren. Suren also supposedly ‘lacked strategic vision’ – these days, is called ‘killer instinct’, for which he was shortly later killed. But it is interesting that the enemies of the daiwas (enemy of devas are the asuras, in Indian scriptures), the Zoroastrians (followers of Ahura Mazda, speculatively Mahishasura) allied themselves with a Suren. The House of Suren’s had traditional rights to install the crown of Persian rulers.

Three – the biggest game changer were the elephant corps. War elephants was an Indian invention and an Indian monopoly. After the defeat and death of Cyrus The Great at the hands of Tomyris, the Persians stopped looking India-wards. 500 years later (nearly), with the help of the Indian elephant corps, the Sassanians stopped the Romans at Persian borders in 363 AD.

With these three changes, Indian heartland became invincible. Empire builders like the Assyrian Queen, Semiramis and the Achmaenian Emperor, Cyrus the Great mounted expensive campaigns to conquer India – and barely escaped with their lives. Later, Genghis Khan’s armies  avoided India completely. Timurlane could invade India – when Delhi was under rule by a foreign dynasty, the Tughlaks. Indian invincibility and military prowess was unmatched till the 13th century – when the first foreign rulers, the Slave Dynasty rulers from the Levant started ruling from Delhi – Qutubuddin Aibak, in 1206.

Four – Indian teachers and intellectuals were sent to all corners of the world. The spread of Buddhism in Asia is well chronicled. Socrates’ encounter with an Indian yogi however, is not so well known. Mani, the Buddhist teacher was feared by the Vatican for the next 1000 years. Vatican killed, burnt and quartered all those who displayed any leaning towards Manicheanism. Islamic invaders searched and destroyed statues or boet’ (meaning statues of Buddha?). In 2nd century AD, Origen, a Christian pioneer, attributed the spread of Christianity “The island (Britain) has long been predisposed to it (Christianity) through the doctrines of the Druids and Buddhists, who had already inculcated the doctrine of the unity of the Godhead”

Five – Indic legal and political structures were introduced. The usage of gold was popularized  and became widespread as an economic tool. Coinage in India was not a royal prerogative or   implemented by fiat. Even the British colonial government could not impose a single currency system in India.

Thus, for instance, there were intricate Greco-Bactrian coins, compared to crude and simple Indic coins. Sanskritic and Dravidian systems were used to structure ancient languages like Akkadian and Elamite.

The foremost administrative innovation was the concept of Bharata(ah) – the aryavart and the arya dhwaj. Comprising of 16 to 30 mahajanapadas, Bharata(ah) became a federation of kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms became a series of succeeding lines of defence against invading armies. What the European Union is grappling with, (and may yet fail) for the last 300 years, was implemented and used 3000 years ago in India.

The foremost proponent of this Indic construct, well known to modern history, is Kautilya Chanakya. Western colonial historians, have spitefully, called him the Indian Machiavelli. Chanakya, encoder-in-chief of Indic statecraft, came a full 1700 years before Machiavelli, who took office, after Savonarola was served en flambe to the Borgia papacy, in a declining and decadent Florence, under the Medicis.

Islamic Conquest of India …?

By 1000 A.D., Al Beruni’s description of India and its wealth, spread over the Islamic world. By the time of the first significant Islamic raid of Indian heartland, in 1001, when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded India, Islam was already entrenched in Europe. Spain was already under Islamic rule by 718 AD. Parts of Italy fell by 902. Crete (part of modern Greece) fell in 961. In Northern Europe, modern day Georgia (on Russian borders) fell to Islamic rule, by 735.

For the next 500 years, Islamic territories continued to expand. India was the last significant conquest of the Islam. Islamic raiders targetted India for plunder and loot – but were not able to establish themselves till the 13th century. The first significant Islamic dynasty in India was the Slave dynasty – only in the 13th century, Qutubuddin Aibak in 1206. From the 1206 to 1526, Islamic rulers struggled to consolidate in India.

The successful invasion of Babur, in the 1526 established Islamic rule in the Indian heartland. From 1526 onwards, Islamic conquest waned. Islamic empires started consolidating. On the other, the European star, was on the ascendant from 1492, with the voyage of Columbus. But then the Moghuls were from Afghanistan, part of Bharat(ah). And their greatest successes came after (reluctantly) co-opting the Indians.

Colonial historians mix up Central Asian and Levantine raiders with Islamic kings from the Indian sub-continent as Islamic invaders, but themselves as European.Why is the British Colonial rule not described as the Christian conquest of India? For the same reasons, that Islamic conquerors, by that time, had conquered most of Eastern Europe, had failed in India.

The other trick in bag of the colonial historian was to show successful invaders as foreign – and defeated foreign rulers, as an Indian defeat. The Tughlaks were powerful, foreign Islamic invaders who swept the weak Hindus, before them, but when Timurlane defeats the same Tughlaks, it becomes a Indian defeat. When Babur, from Afghanistan, captures the throne of Delhi, he is a successful foreign invader – but when his descendant Bahadur Shah Zafar, is defeated, he is the defeated Indian ruler.

And Shri Tripathi gives us the same lines …

Indian Government hesitates to de-classify documents

Indian Government’s reluctance to de-classify documents creates a conspiracy theory industry.

The business of secrecy?  |  Cartoon by Ben Sargent; source & courtesy - slate.com; on February 15, 2006  |  Click for image.

The business of secrecy? | Cartoon by Ben Sargent; source & courtesy – slate.com; on February 15, 2006 | Click for image.

The first excuse was trotted out by the Indian government in February 2008 when it refused to release the 1963 Henderson Brooks Report on the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The second excuse was given in August 2009, when the government refused to declassify a January 1966 document pertaining to the death of Premier Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent.

It is difficult to believe these reasons given the efflux of time. It is, in fact, very frightening if security implications noted in 1963 have not yet been dealt with. But keeping things under wraps is the default position of the Indian government. It doesn’t have a declassification policy — documents are rarely released, and never without tedious prodding.

The last time any documents were declassified was back in 1997. Those archives centred on the Naval Mutiny of 1946, and on Netaji and the INA circa 1942-46. Earlier, in 1989, some documents from 1950-60 were released. Nothing has been declassified since 1997.

As a result of this tight-lipped attitude, conspiracy theories abound in Indian public life. There are persistent whispers about Shastri’s death, about the 1962 War, the death of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Netaji’s disappearance. (via Devangshu Datta: Institutionalised ignorance).

Protecting colonial legacy! Why …

Why would the Indian Government classify and withhold information pertaining to the colonial era? What purpose would this serve? For instance, what is the reason for delaying de-classification of the 1946 February Uprising by the ‘Naval Ratings’? That was indeed a milestone in India’s history.

Why hide!

The three legged horse of the Congress Party

I can see three reasons! Propaganda. Propaganda. Propaganda.

The Congress which has ruled India for more than 45 years of the last sixty years has arrogated all credit to itself for British departure from India. This propaganda leg is one of the three legs of the Congress post-colonial strategy.


Going Jinnah’s way – DAWN.COM | Columnists |

August 29, 2009 1 comment

Had Jinnah had his way, there would be no need for the pathetic lottery of Ramazan invitations. There would be no need for the Justice Sachchar Committee, set up to investigate why Indian Muslims continue to be economically and socially backward six decades after independence from colonialism. (via DAWN.COM | Columnists | Going Jinnah’s way).

Is that what has become of Pakistan?
Is that what has become of Pakistan?

Best of all worlds

The Colonial British-Muslim League narrative asserted that India was ruled by the Muslims before the British takeover from Muslim rulers at the end of the eighteenth century”. And it was asserted by the Muslim League and the supporters of the two-nation-theory that ‘how could Muslims, the ‘ex-rulers’ now become subject’ people under a Hindu Raj.’

Jawed Naqvi, the writer at The Dawn, needs to reconcile the contradiction between their (Muslim) presumed memory of their days as rulers of all (or most) of India” and the current reality of Indian Muslims being “economically and socially backward”.

Desolate and dry desert sands

I also wonder why he makes no mention of the backwardness of people from his own country, Pakistan. Is it that Indians have a greater responsibility to ensure progress of Indian Muslims – but the Pakistanis don’t have responsibility towards the Pakistani population?

Why is Naqvi holding Indians to higher standards? After all, both India and Pakistan started their post-colonial history from the same cess-pit of British colonialism. If you stretch Naqvi’s arguments far enough, the arrows land in misplaced victimhood.

And that, Naqvibhai, is a rather sad and desolate place to be in!

Stereotypes of the Raj

August 29, 2009 2 comments
In the next one week ... Britain capitulated (Cartoon By Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, (1902-1979) in Daily Mail on 25 February 1946. Click for larger image.

In the next one week ... Britain capitulated (Cartoon By Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, (1902-1979) in Daily Mail on 25 February 1946. Click for larger image.

After the guns fell silent

At the end of WW2, Britain was a superpower, intact with its huge colonial Empire – apart from the massive debt that it owed the US. With Germany defeated and Hitler dead, Italy in shambles and Mussolini hanged, Britain sat at the head of ‘high tables’ in the post-WW2 world deciding the fate of the nations – with its partner in crime, the US of A.

The Raj propaganda

This cartoon from National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth by Leslie Gilbert Illingworth, (1902-1979) was first published by on 14 May 1946. A cartoonist with nearly 5000 cartoons, he was a solidly-establishment type man, who usually reflected the view of the masters.

This cartoon above shows a huge disconnect between British propaganda and reality. On 14th February, Illingsworth was busy depicting a ‘fractious’ India that would break up without the British Raj. Four days later, the 20 lakh colonial Indian armed forces, united and raised the banner of Independence. United across ranks, skin colour, language, geography, religion, caste, height, weight – with only one thing uniting them. They were all Indians.

The navy rebellion in Bombay in 1946, after which the army saw a mutiny in Jabalpur

The navy rebellion in Bombay in 1946, after which the army saw a mutiny in Jabalpur

Trouble from unexpected quarters

On February 18th, the lowly Naval Ratings from the Royal Indian Navy rained on the British parade – by raising the flag of Indian Independence. Britain did not have the stomach to take on the Indian Colonial Army, battle hardened and exposed to warfare in all the global theatres of WW2. The British acquiesced and 18 months later they were out.

The ruling Congress party distorted history and take all credit for the departure of the British colonialists. Contributions of leaders like SC Bose was ignored or the importance of the February 1946 joint action by the Indian armed forces against the colonial forces, was minimized to the ‘Naval Ratings Mutiny.’

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