Archive for March, 2011

Light that Failed

How excited would Harper Collins be, to publish a book about a British woman who fell in love with an Indian ….

What if it was a English woman and an Indian soldier?  |  Click for larger image.

What if it was a English woman and an Indian soldier? | Click for larger image.

Kohima was the scene of an Allied victory in the World War II that changed the contours of the war in Asia. The Japanese who had been advancing steadily into Asia after the success of their Burma campaign in 1941-42 were beaten back…

The “Battle of Kohima”, was a bloody affair. It lasted for three months, from April to June 1944, and left over 10,000 dead on both sides.

Easterine Kire’s Mari – a story of love in the time of war … lovers here are Mari, short for Khrielievu Mari, the 17-year-old daughter of a treasury officer in the district commissioner’s office in Kohima, and Staff Sargeant Victor (Vic), a British soldier in the India army. The novel is in the first person, a semi-fictional autobiography written from the stories that Mari told Kire, her niece, about those momentous years of her life, and from a diary that she kept in those years. (via War and love in Kohima.).

Anglo-woman and Indian soldier

How excited would Harper Collins be, to publish a book about a British woman who fell in love with an Indian …

A White Man going ‘native’ was a marked man. Joseph Conrad’s writings exposed the barbarity and depravity of Colonial Europe – only to finally blame the ‘native’ for ‘reducing’ the White Man to barbarity.

Rudyard Kipling tried to erase all his prior ‘connections’ with India, after emigrating to America. He tried has hand at ‘White’ themes like Captains Courageous(1897). What became famous were books like Kim and The Light That Failed (1890).

The story of Merle Oberon, a part-Indian actress in Hollywood, is a good instance (more in the insipid story Queenie by Michael Korda, her nephew). Merle Oberon’s biggest struggle was to overcome the ‘drop of tar’ in her blood. Her nephew, Micahel Korda, used her story to get a book commission, that was also made into a movie. Her great niece, Shelley Conn. is being cast by Spielberg, (whose ET was ‘co-incidentally’ similar to Satyajit Rai script.).

For Indians to find allurement in such themes, is incorrect, at least politically.

Onward, American Soldiers! Another million await death.

March 15, 2011 5 comments

Toppling USSR cost the US and Europe 4000 tons of gold. With a growing deficit of US$9t how far can Pax Americana go.

After millions killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Niall Ferguson wants war in Libya. With little to lose, Libyans may ensure that US loses its ‘empire’. (Cartoon by Steve Bell; cartoon courtesy – Click for larger image.

Bad history

Niall Ferguson, a popular, British historian, has been a cheer-leader for Pax Americana. On assignment to Harvard currently, he has been at the forefront of ‘persuading’ America to take the place of various European colonial powers. Instead of the USCAP-client states system, Niall Ferguson believes that US must revert to European-style colonialism.

Niall Ferguson starts-off by using two bad examples of revolutions. One is the American Independence and the other was a inconsequential bit of British history.

Was the American Revolution ‘completely organic’? Funny, I could have sworn those were French ships off Yorktown. What about Britain’s Glorious Revolution, the one that established parliamentary rule? Strange, I had this crazy idea that William III was a Dutchman.


Yes! Niall is write about one thing!

French supplies of gunpowder were crucial to Washington & Co., as Britain had cornered gunpowder supplies from India.

For the success of the American War of Independence, gunpowder apart, the French and Spanish economic aid to the armies of George Washington, was essential.

But …

My bottom चवन्नी chav-aani says Ferguson’s history teacher never told him, that Britain gave up 13 American colonies. Due to wars in India, especially with Tipu Sultan. Rather than lose India, Britain thought it wiser to let go of these 13 American colonies.

Why does Niall Ferguson forget that Haiti threw out their slave-masters.

All by themselves.

Haiti, defeated British, French and Spanish colonial armies in a space of less than 10 years (1794-1804). As did Cuba. I wonder what were ‘foreign additives’ in Kenya, Malaysia, South Africa or in Poland.

Reload /Refresh

Why does Niall Ferguson remind me of a sputtering, slow internet connection. Refresh the page a number of times. After 8 years of war in Iraq, he has the brazenness to

think of the Marsh Arabs’ fate at the hands of Saddam Hussein. Such events tend to be remembered as massacres.

The lowest figure for civilian deaths in Iraq has crossed 1 lakh (100,000) people. Corroborated by multiple news reports, eyewitness accounts, death certificates, hospital records, morgue reports, Western sources, Iraqi official figures, US army figures. The 1 lakh (100,000) figure assumes, in the middle of a civil war, Iraqis will cease all activity, postpone the funeral, in case of a death, to complete documentation and update multiple databases for a Western body-count. The figure of 100,000 assumes that Iraqis share Western enthusiasm, (or is it relish?), for ‘body-count’.

Other less ‘rigorous’ procedures, using Iraqi families as source and base, have reported around 10 lakh (1 million) Iraqi deaths. Whether you accept, 100,000 deaths or 1,000,000, it is a lot more people who died due to US invasion, than due to Saddam’s ‘oppression’.

Ever since, Pax Americana started their unwelcome visit to Iraq.

Hundreds … or hundreds of thousands

We must hope that someone gives Obama a history lesson before thousands of Libyans share their fate.

I am sure 100s of people are killed by Gaddafi’s regime each year. Trouble is, the US will kill more. Many more.

Niall-anna, are you sure that the cost of US intervention will be less than thousands? Iraq’s death-toll is a lot more than thousands – in fact, it is hundreds of thousands. If you can guarantee a figure in hundreds, I am all for a US invasion.

Good upbringing shows

I have always wanted to know, who gave history lessons to Niall Ferguson?

Such hubris cost US billions in Iraq and Afghanista. The bill will up for payment soon. Wil Libya be the straw on the US backs? (Cartoon by Stavro Jabra). Click for larger image.

It will be tragic indeed if America concludes from the experience of overthrowing murderous tyrannies in Afghanistan and Iraq that the correct policy is to turn a blind eye to murder in Libya.

Why not, for a change, pay attention to the home-front.

With more than 2 million prisoners, the capital of State-mandated murders is surely USA.

The evil empire

You get ‘One’ chance. One guess is all that you will need, Niall-bhai. Which country has more per-capita prisoners – USA, erstwhile USSR /post-Soviet Russia. I will throw China as a bonus?

The Cold War ended not because the US achieved a military edge over the Soviet Union, but because the legitimacy of the Soviet system collapsed from within. The West’s role was to insist on the importance of those “human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Even if not all America’s allies in the Cold War always upheld them, the other side respected them less.

And no, the story of Soviet collapse, has nothing to do with “human rights and fundamental freedoms.” It was economic warfare.

In the 70s, with out-sized gains in oil, platinum and aluminum prices, Soviet economy became an economic powerhouse. Soviet Russia, one of the largest gold producers in the world, made windfall gains. Funding anti-US regimes across Africa, South America, Asia and the Middle East, Soviet Union was dubbed the Evil Empire by Ronald Reagan.

The expansion in subsidies by the USSR in the 1970-1990 period to its allies and sympathetic regimes, created a huge pressure on Soviet finances. A simultaneous drop in oil and gold prices in the 1985-1995 period severely dented Soviet export earnings, leading to the economic collapse of the Soviet Union. In USSR’s economy, after WW2, commodities like oil, natural gas, metals (like gold, platinum, uranium) and timber accounted for 65%-80% of Russian exports.

Toppling USSR cost the US and Europeans 4000 tons of gold – and other hidden costs. With a US$9t deficit, which is not going down, how long and how far can Pax Americana go? (Cartoon by Steve Sack; courtesy – Click for larger image.

Toppling USSR cost the US and Europeans 4000 tons of gold – and other hidden costs. With a US$9t deficit, which is not going down, how long and how far can Pax Americana go? (Cartoon by Steve Sack; courtesy – Click for larger image.

The Central Bank Gold Sales Agreement, further dented gold prices, 1995 onwards. Gordon Brown, the then British Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been under pressure to ‘reveal’ details of British gold sales during this period.

The interesting bit was where did the European Central Banks get so much gold from! Was it the various gold hoards, that had disappeared from 1900-200o, making a re-appearance! A lot of Nazi and Soviet gold came into the markets, it is surmised, during the 1999-2005 Central Bank Gold Sales agreement – which was put in place to depress gold prices. These depressed gold prices, that coincided with price declines in oil, platinum and other commodities, bankrupted the Soviet economy.

Toppling USSR cost the US and Europeans, 4000 tons of gold – and other hidden costs. With a US$9t deficit, which is not going down, how long and how far can Pax Americana go? With an Afghan War going nowhere, Pakistan waiting to implode, will Libya be the straw on the Pax Americana’s back. You must be careful of what you wish for. Your wishes may come true.

Pax Americana may come – and go.

Pax Americana handles criticism

`Crowley was not even dissenting - unlike Bradley Manning? (Image courtesy -; cartoonist Matt Wuerker). Click for larger image.

Crowley was not even dissenting - unlike Bradley Manning? (Image courtesy -; cartoonist Matt Wuerker). Click for larger image.

The official spokesman at the US State Department, PJ Crowley, resigned. His

resignation followed Crowley’s remarks to an MIT seminar last week about Manning’s treatment in military prison.

Crowley had said: “What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence.”

Glenn Greenwald, a Salon reporter who has been outspoken about Manning’s detention, tweeted that “detainee abuse is allowed, speaking out against it isn’t”.

Last week, Manning gave his own account of how he is being held, saying that it was harsh treatment designed to punish him even before he was put on trial. He said he was stripped naked every night after he made a sarcastic comment to guards about the absurdity of the regime he was under.

Manning has been charged with multiple counts relating to the leaking of thousands of secret US embassy cables, as well as videos and warlogs from Afghanistan and Iraq.(via PJ Crowley Resigns After Remarks Bashing Bradley Manning’s Detention, Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, March 13, 2011).

What is the real story …

Crowley was not a critic – or even dissenting. He was an establishment man – concerned that Manning’s treatment may ‘impact on global standing and leadership’ of Pax Americana. Was this display of power more important than the display of ‘freedom’?


Indian Media Confronts Corruption (Corruption III)

March 13, 2011 2 comments

We are attacking individuals without changing the system? It is the Desert Bloc systems that we must throw out. (Image courtesy - Click for a larger image.

Sancho Panza

Indian Don Quixotes tilting at windmills of corruption, frequently confuse between system-problem, inadequate data and corruption. Everyone cannot be discerning enough to categorize forty types of embezzlement of government property – as Chanakya did. Classifying corruption can be a daunting task.

To understand this, we will have to go to Singapore.

Conspiracy and corruption

Singapore is interesting to examine.

Lee Kuan Yew ‘ruled Singapore for 31 years before stepping down as prime minister in 1990.’ Lee Hsien Loong, Lee KuanYew’s son, is the Prime Minister now. China Post called this as a ‘pre-ordained transfer of power a formality’, after an interim Prime Minister for 14 years, Goh Chok Tong. Ho Ching, Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter-in-law is executive director of Temasek, a Singapore government investment-and-holding company which controls some of Singapore’s biggest businesses. Lee Hsien Yang, another son of Lee Kuan Yew, is the chief executive of Singapore Telecommunications. Lee Kuan Yew remains in the Singapore Government with the title of “minister mentor”.

How is it that Lee Kuan Yew & sons run Singapore like a family business – yet face no corruption charges?

Oldest, largest Republican democracy

The other benchmark, is the world’s oldest and largest republican democracy – The United States Of America. Father-son duo of John Adams and John Quincy Adams set in motion the US Presidential dynasty which in all, accounts for 40% of all US presidents. This family, distant cousins included, counts Millard Fillmore, Harrison (William and Benjamin), James Madison, Zachary Taylor, Roosevelts, Nixon, Rutherford Hayes, etc. as its members. Rarely discussed, not remembered, is the fact that ‘700 families in which two or more members have served in Congress, and they account for 1,700 of the 10,000 men and women who have been elected to the federal legislature since 1774′.

Singapore run on the Platonic-Confucian model of a benign autocrat may work in the short run. (Image courtesy - Click for a larger image.

Not to forget the adoration by America of America’s ‘first’ family – The Kennedy’s (whose wealth came from bootlegging, crime, fraud; remember the RKO films share scam; or the next family, the Roosevelts whose racist record is possibly unparalleled. Rumour and murmur, has it how Joe Kennedy contracted for a kill by Frank Costello (a mafia boss), sold the US presidency to the mob, to save his life. A deal that was brokered by the legendary Sam ‘Momo’ Giancana.

To get a perspective on that, see the amount of criticism that the Nehru’s family gets for nepotism and dynastic politics.

Strict burden of proof

These issues while in the public realm is handled with great care. In the West, in the tradition of the Borgias, Medicis, Rothschilds, media has made these families into objects of mystique, adoration and study.

In Singapore, a pliant media was hectored by Lee Kuan Yew

telling the International Press Institute that it was naive to believe a free press curbs corruption because “the media itself is corrupted”.

Since sweet-heart deals leave little clinching evidence, making corruption charges can be disastrous. Especially in countries which implement libel and slander laws strictly, like Singapore. Even if these laws are loosely implemented, like in most Western countries, large awards keep opposition leaders, activists, the press and media in line.

Remember Julian Assange? Libel, slander, defamation awards in the USA,

include a $223 million award against the Wall Street Journal,$58 million against The Dallas Morning News, $34 million against The Philadelphia Inquirer, $29 million against Harte-Hanks, $18 million against Capital Cities, $16 million against a California weekly and $13.5 million against The Cleveland Plain Dealer and $10 million against ABC News.

Each amount was later reduced either by a judge or through negotiation. The exception was the California paper, which went bankrupt. In any case, even “winning” a libel verdict can have vast consequences, including monumental legal fees, damage to reputation and loss of jobs for journalists.

Going by the law …

How the Singapore systems, uses extreme measures to curb dissent, political opposition, a loud-and-raucous press are extracted below.

Fledgling Singapore Herald newspaper, which was strangled to death by Harry Lee, then prime minister, when it ignored his strictures on what news it should and should not publish.

Lee angrily summoned the American manager of the Chase Manhattan Bank branch in Singapore – the Singapore Herald’s bankers – to his presence, and publicly humiliated him by ordering the unfortunate man not only to stop honouring the cheques drawn by its customer, the Singapore Herald, but also to foreclose its accounts with the bank.

the Government Investment Company (GIC), Temasek Holdings and other linked companies, whose ultimate shareholders, lest it be forgotten, are the Singaporeans themselves whose enforced savings are invested in the GIC’s multifarious companies and subsidiaries. The vast corporate management, however, is in the cozy hands of the eminent Lee family: the father, the dauphin and his dauphine, Ho. But not – be it noted — the prime minister. They do not report their stewardship to parliament or the people. There are no real checks and balances. There is however an alarming opacity. Neither the Accountant General nor the Auditor General has any jurisdiction over them. What supervisory or enforcement authority they have is somewhat tenuous. It is a situation that cries out loud for oversight powers. Remember what Juvenal once said: quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards themselves?

Singapore’s chief justice – believe it or not — receives more than the combined salaries of the Lord Chancellor of England, the Chief Justices of Australia, Canada, and United States Supreme Court. (via Singapore: Past, Present & Future? Paper by Francis T. Seow – Former Solicitor General Singapore, February 14 2003| Some perceptions of the governing People’s Action Party’s grasp on political power in Singapore).

Multi-million dollar awards can seriously dent any newspaper or a publishing house. In India, the Indian Express newspaper group was rapped on its knuckles for exposing some of its wrong-doings – but not to the extent of ruining it.

In systems, where such laws choke dissent, the popular press and mainstream media cannot say much – without evidence. Much of corruption becomes post-facto and post-mortem. Unlike India, where slander, libel or defamation laws are not implemented at all. The mass-hysteria about corruption in India, is fueled by media ‘freedom’. Corruption has become breaking news – with no libel or slander prosecution on the horizon.

 Will isolated activism help? The role of the State and governance needs to change.(Cartoon by Zapiro; courtesy - Click for larger image.

Will isolated activism help? The role of the State and governance needs to change.(Cartoon by Zapiro; courtesy - Click for larger image.

India loved its kings

In the recesses of Social Unconscious, Indic kings remain a beloved memory. Indians have known incorruptible kings – without imperial ambitions, who left no palaces, monuments or memorials. Not even any hagiographic accounts. Rulers who governed without the help of prisons, police force, or a centralized judiciary.

Having known governance under भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, the gradual rise of Desert Bloc polity in India, has been viewed in by Indians with skepticism and distrust. Starting with Qutub-ud-din-Aibak (1206), to the rampant massacres of the British to gain control over ज़र zar (meaning gold), जन jan (meaning people) and ज़मीन jameen (meaning land) has been seen in India, as a case of individual or group corruption.

In remembrance of this polity, and these rulers, uniquely, an estimated 50% of India calls itself a कुमार, कुमारी kumar, kumari (prince, princess), सेल्व-कुमार, सेल्वी selva-kumar, selvi (prosperous and popular prince, princess), राजा, रानी raja, rani (king, queen), राजन rajan (king) राजकुमार rajkumar (prince) as a name or surname, in the memory of these anonymous rulers.

Indic governance was guided by a polity based on भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra. This system guaranteed four non-negotiable universal rights – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh (liberty) and धर्मं dharma (justice). The system also ensured access to ज़र zar (meaning gold), जन jan (meaning people) and ज़मीन jameen (meaning land).

Post colonial India, has made an uneasy compromise with Desert Bloc polity, using democracy, socialism, a (mostly) free-press, to rebuild itself from the ruin of of despotic colonialism.

Maya is a complex idea

'Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - A tale of how civilized West had gone barbaric, due to 'native' influences' and needed to brought back to 'civilization'.  |  Illustration by Lisl Weil

‘Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – A tale of how civilized West had gone barbaric, due to ‘native’ influences’ and needed to brought back to ‘civilization’. | Illustration by Lisl Weil

There is one particular episode in “Heart of Darkness” where Marlow is bringing back Kurtz on a steamboat through the forest and African tribesmen gather on the shore. The Europeans in the boat aren’t really threatened by the tribesmen because they are not within reach of their spears. Marlow blows the whistle to frighten them away but that doesn’t satisfy other Europeans. “And then that imbecile crowd down on the deck started their little fun, and I could see nothing more for smoke,” writes Conrad.
It’s a beautiful and provocative scene. What is actually taking place is a massacre. What is being lost in smoke is this massacre. I find the use of language here fascinating. Marlow the narrator and Conrad the author can only say so many things. There is a story beneath the story that remains untold. (via The Moment – Tabish Khair On India’s Thugs | March 8, 2011, 5:45 PM HKT)

Stepping back

Just how and why murder mysteries became popular in English fiction – in early 20th century. And then fade away. Or why horror and monsters were popular in European, especially, Spanish literature in 16th/17th century. Represented by Calderon de la Barca (1600-1681), the Spanish writer.

Post-WWII fiction created a new genre –  filled with International intrigue, spies, plots, cabals, faceless bureaucrats. You could call it Daughter of John Le Carre marries the Ghost of Robert Ludlum.

Empty boxes of cynical ideologies, gift-wrapped in shiny paper.

Blood and bones

Critics, usually from the West, dismissed these waves of popular fiction as inexplicable shifts in taste and fashion. But, taken together for the last 500 years, popular fiction mirrors European imperial reality. Spanish literary monsters were proxies for blood-thirsty and gold-grabbing conquistadors.

This theme reappeared in English literature symbolizing the massacres in post-1857 India. Brutish English men, Draculas and Frankensteins, appeared in India, to ‘pacify’ mutinous Indians (more @ Pacification usually meant annihilation of entire villages, communities. Emulating their masters, very soon most Englishman in India thought little, if an Indian life was taken.

Best seen in Agatha Christie novels. Closely matching American reality, was Agatha Christie’s famous book, Ten Little Niggers, that became Ten Little Indians to finally Then there were none.

Deciphering maya

Tabish Khair, a writer based in Denmark, with a Bihari origin, had his recent books nominated for some awards. He presents in the extract (linked above) a small bit of Western maya. What would be the modern equivalent of what was called maya in classical Indian texts.

The closest I could come up with was propaganda.

Rock Sculpture at Dudhai – UP

March 6, 2011 1 comment
Rock-cut Narasimha-deva at Dudhai  (Image courtesy - Click for larger image.

Rock-cut Narasimha-deva at Dudhai (Image courtesy -

Wonder how many more neglected sites are around?

Dated at 5th century, this sculpture at Dudhai is one of those ‘forgotten’ treasures of India.

A modern traveller writes

‘iconic rock cut narasimha in dudhai is a thing of past as the locals have erected a cement structure which makes visiting the place through the hell maze roads an absolute waste’. archaeology

Dudhai, Indian history, Indian art, Indian archaeology, India,

Pakistan – Blackmail as State Policy

March 6, 2011 1 comment

How American puppets in Middle-East have kept their people backwards ? (Image courtesy - Click for larger image.

United States is being subjected to an old-fashioned protection racket by Pakistan: pay up or things could go bad for you. Those making money out of extortion and blackmail always come back for more. It’s a measure of the US’s waning global strength that it seems to have no option other than to keep paying.US is paying for Pak protection racket | By SHAUN GREGORY |

Pakistan’s DNA

Jinnah held the entire sub-continent to ransom. After 200 conflicts in 150 years, as the British with their backs to the wall, were walking away, Jinnah became a spoiler. The hour of triumph turned into moment of tragedy. A country born out of this blackmail, has now formalized blackmail as State Policy.

Wedding Season Across The World

Lady GaGa does a Sheela Ki Jawaani?

Surfing news channels, I was hit by Lady GaGa at the 2011 Grammy Awards night. For a few seconds, I was confused. To me it seemed like Katrina Kaif was doing Sheela Ki Jawaani. Till the newsreader announced, that it was Lady GaGa.

Of course, plagiarism is not aone-way street. There was the little known case of Bappi Lahiri vs Dr.Dre case, I thought. Even lesser known is the enduring suspicion, that Spielberg was inspired by a Satyajit Ray script.

India sets off a global wedding theme?

Looking back at the last 20 years, one enduring theme that came out of Bollywood was the wedding story – starting with Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (Aug. 1994). A mega-success, this film of more than 3 hours, made an impact on the Indian psyche. Old wedding celebrations like sangeet, made a furious revival. Suddenly, Marathi weddings in Mumbai started having North Indian style sangeet during a wedding.

This theme found echoes across the world – My Big Fat Greek Wedding(2002); My Best Friend’s Wedding(1997), The Wedding Planner(2001), Runaway Bride(1999), The In-Laws (2003), Meet the Parents (2000) . Hollywood has made more than 30 wedding story in the last few decades with multi-million dollar budgets.

Videos from Tanu Weds Manu or the Main toh Avian, Avian lut gayaa (from Band Baaja Barath) are remarkable extensions of this theme. Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding has an exquisite change in tempo, at the end.

If only Bollywood was not so desperate to be a Hollywood clone.

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