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How governments drive tobacco trade

Tobacco – a colonial addiction

Six companies and sundry State monopolies drive global cigarette consumption. These six companies derive more than US$100 billion dollars in revenues, globally. For many years they were advertising industries largest customers.These six companies are headquartered at former European imperial powers (UK, France, Spain), USA and Japan.

Four tobacco companies and State monopolies control global tobacco trade. (Image source - http://www.tobaccoatlas.org). Click for interactive source map.

Four tobacco companies and State monopolies control global tobacco trade. (Image source - http://www.tobaccoatlas.org). Click for interactive source map.

In recent years, dozens of cigarette manufacturing companies have consolidated under four major private corporations: Altria/Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, and Imperial Tobacco. State monopolies are also major cigarette manufacturers. The largest state monopoly is China National Tobacco Corporation, with a global cigarette market share that exceeds that of any private company. Because the European Union intends to restrict further mergers and acquisitions that increase a tobacco company’s market-share dominance, industry consolidation trends may have peaked.

The tobacco industry includes some of the most powerful transnational corporate entities in the world. Tobacco conglomerates have diversified into many other industries, such as financial services, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, real estate, hotels, restaurants, communications, and apparel, among others. The tobacco industry is expected to continue increasing in size and power.

The global tobacco market, valued at $378 billion, grew by 4.6 percent in 2007. By the year 2012, the value of the global tobacco market is projected to increase another 23 percent, reaching $464.4 billion. If Big Tobacco were a country, it would have the 23rd-largest gross domestic product in the world, surpassing the GDP of countries like Norway and Saudi Arabia. (via Tobacco Atlas Online – Tobacco Companies.).

India’s small production base is a combination of two aspects. Indian social inertia against addictive substances and the Government on the other. Indian cigarette business, small as it is, was put in Indian hands during Indira Gandhi’s socialist days. BAT lost control of ITC, which was placed in the hands of professional Indian managers.

Cigarette production in major markets (Graphics by timesofindia.com.). Click for larger image.

Cigarette production in major markets (Graphics by timesofindia.com.). Click for larger image.

Chinese State Tobacco monopoly

The complicity of governments is very similar to the modern expansion in prostitution – especially in the West.

Or Western powers pushing opium in China in the nineteenth century. After the opium experience of the Chinese, when Western trading houses, under State protection, using the garb of ‘free trade’, made China into the largest consumer of opium.

The Chinese Govt. has replaced opium with tobacco.

The second secret of the tobacco business is to be dominant in purchasing and cornering tobacco stock. For cornering tobacco stocks, Big Tobacco depends on Central Banks’ support – aka State support. For instance, ITC (and other major global tobacco purchasers) in India has a major presence in Guntur, where Indian tobacco trade is headquartered.

ITC’s over-sized chequebook buys it market dominance.

The Indian tobacco profile

India is the third largest producer of tobacco – after China and USA. India ranks 6th as a tobacco exporting nation, as most of tobacco in India is consumed by domestic consumers. Tobacco consumption in India follows traditional patterns, as a non-industrial product – spanning chewing tobacco, bidis (tobacco rolled in leaves), hookah, clay pipes and snuff. Indian traditional tobacco usage consumes between 75%-85% of total tobacco cultivation.

Indian tobacco consumption and control follows consumption patterns of psychotropic drugs. All the major drugs in the world came of India – opium is afeem, khuskhus पोस्त; cannabis is charas, ganja, marijuana, hashish. Heroin is a derivative of opium. Even, as Indians are significant (legal) producers, they are not high on consumption lists.

However, drugs never became a big problem in India. Unlike in China, or in Medieval Middle East (when drug crazed criminals called hashishis became assassins). All these drugs were introduced to the world by India – with records going back to 1000 BC. Similarly family and peer pressure plays an important role in controlling the less dangerous form of traditional tobacco usage in India. In modern times, Indian gold smuggling was funded by carriage and export of drugs.

Cigarette production consumes less than one-fourth of India’s tobacco production.

Until two years ago, non-filter cigarettes comprised 30% of the total cigarette consumption. But with an increase in excise duty on non-filter cigarettes from Rs 168 to Rs 819 per thousand from March 1, 2008, the demand for low-priced filter cigarettes has risen At present, the excise duty on a pack of 10 filter cigarettes is Rs 8.19, and VAT Rs 1.05. Thus, taxes total Rs 10 per pack. Illicit cigarettes are sold for less than this amount, leading the government to believe that either registered cigarette units are evading duty or foreign-made cigarettes are flooding the market from Myanmar and the UK The business of low-cost cigarettes is big in the country, especially in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. (via Article Window).

The expansion of manufacturing in cigarettes globally (see chart) is much like the housing scam in US and Europe. Banks made huge advances, created a bubble, and are now busy foreclosing these loans. The modern myth of Republic Democracy at work.

How maya works in real life.

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Pakistani diplomacy – a tour de force

May 28, 2011 1 comment
Cartoon by Jerry Holbert; Courtesy - caveviews.blogs.com. Click for larger image.

Cartoon by Jerry Holbert; Courtesy - caveviews.blogs.com. Click for larger image.

Without Comment

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled halfway around the world Friday for several hours of meetings with Pakistani leaders. Clinton’s brief visit — she arrived just after breakfast and was headed home by early afternoon — was part of the Obama administration’s efforts in recent weeks to leverage bin Laden’s killing during a secret raid by U.S. commandos into closer ties with Pakistan, rather than risk it finally severing the always-fragile partnership.

Administration officials also said they listened to Pakistan’s complaints about the slow delivery of promised military assistance and its desire for other forms of assistance that “they can show as proof of this relationship” to the Pakistani public. “We committed to look at that,” one official said.

Responding to recent reports that Pakistan has tried to solidify its ties with China and other traditional friends as a hedge against troubles with the United States, Clinton said that Americans provide Pakistan with “more support than Saudi Arabia, China and everybody else combined. . . . I’m not sure many Pakistanis know that.”

It was far from the first time the United States has announced an attempted reset. But administration officials traveling with Clinton said that the seriousness of the current crisis had forced both sides to confront the possible consequences of an irreconcilable breach and that the talks were marked by a new level of frankness.

After her news conference at the U.S. Embassy, she was whisked back to her plane and gone before most Pakistanis were even aware she was here.(via Clinton visits Pakistan to firm up new ties – The Washington Post; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).

Cartoon By Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle From the Cartoonist Group; Courtesy - americanprogress.org. Click for larger image.

Cartoon By Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle From the Cartoonist Group; Courtesy - americanprogress.org. Click for larger image.

She expressed Washington’s “strong commitment” to relations with Pakistan. Mrs Clinton said that the US had “absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest level of the Pakistani government” knew where Bin Laden was and said she would return to Washington “ever more committed” to the relationship. In what correspondents say was perhaps an attempt to smooth ruffled Pakistani feathers over the killing, Mrs Clinton acknowledged the ”sacrifices made every single day by the men and women Pakistan’s military and its citizens”.

Mrs Clinton was accompanied on her visit by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen. The pair held meetings with senior Pakistani politicians and army officers to plead for greater co-operation in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Having all of Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership in one room was unusual, perhaps an effort to get them talking to each other more.

It is the first such high-level visit to Pakistan since the killing of Bin Laden on 2 May. (via BBC News – Clinton exonerates Pakistan over Osama Bin Laden; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).

Taliban and Pakistan Nukes; Cartoon by Mike Keefe; 04/25/2009 (Ref Num:69801); Courtesy - intoon.com. Click forlarger image.

Taliban and Pakistan Nukes; Cartoon by Mike Keefe; 04/25/2009 (Ref Num:69801); Courtesy - intoon.com. Click forlarger image.

Pakistan is preparing for further deterioration, building its non-U.S. alliances and options. For Pakistanis, the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden was a vivid demonstration that America does not respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The presence of American drones flying into Pakistan’s airspace underscores this all the time. For Americans, the fact that bin Laden was hiding for years in a major Pakistani garrison town surrounded by Pakistani army cantonments and retired officers’ homes confirmed the U.S. view that the country engages in a complex double game of patronizing some terrorists while fighting others. Both sides are right about the other.

Pakistan has seen the United States cut off aid many ties before in the last half century. It knows Washington is capricious. So it is strengthening its alternatives east and west. China is Pakistan’s reliable “all weather” ally. Both Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders travel often to Beijing to ensure close cooperation. Chinese engineers are building highways to link Tibet to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are key Muslim allies to the west. Pakistan has been the kingdom’s largest recipient of aid for decades and Saudi Prince Bandar just visited Islamabad to secure promises of Pakistani troops if the Arab Spring threatens to erupt in the gulf monarchies. A battalion of Pakistani troops is in Bahrain backing up the Saudi and Emirati forces that intervened there this year to crush the Shia protest movement.(via America’s Menacing Pakistan Problem – Brookings Institution; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).

The respect Pakistan deserves – and does not get

Global alarm about Pakistan, is triggered by a new and disruptive player, who has joined the power-grab game. Meet the mullah-madrasa-mujahhid combine.

Pax Americana has abused its power to bend Pakistan to a path of failures - and then US media makes mockery of Pakistan. (Cartoon by Joel Pett; source and courtesy - cartoonistsgroup.com). Click for larger source image.

Pax Americana has abused its power to bend Pakistan to a path of failures - and then US media makes mockery of Pakistan. (Cartoon by Joel Pett; source and courtesy - cartoonistsgroup.com). Click for larger source image.

Test of Political leadership

What do you say about a leadership that has two of the world’s super-powers, USA and China, swearing friendship and loyalty – at least once, every week.

Must be a rich, hi-tech country.

No. We are not talking of Saudi Arabia or Japan.

How about describing a leadership that gets economic and military aid – on its own terms, after flouting every previous conditionality imposed on it by the aid-givers?

Is it some super-power? Or a very poor country.

Even Haiti, Cuba, Congo, Ethiopia have to live with very strict conditionalities, imposed on them.

In your words describe a country that shelters and protects half of the world’s most wanted fugitives?

A-ha! We are talking of tax-evaders.

Sorry. Switzerland, it ain’t.

This country has also become a de facto nuclear power – and liberally auctioned nuclear technology, to anyone willing to pay for it.

Israel is not who we are talking of.

One hint. They have been doing this for 60 years.

All this – and more

Any regime that can dictate terms to USA, China, Saudi Arabia, like Pakistan has, is a skilled leadership. What more can I say? Except doff my imaginary hat in respect. (Not that I would like to live under such leaders).

USA, China, Saudi Arabia have been able to do little about Pakistan, apart from some squealing, public name-calling. In the end they paid up. Each time. For 60 years.

That is what matters.

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. (via US is paying for Pak protection racket | By SHAUN GREGORY |

Pakistan’s DNA

60 years ago, Jinnah held the entire sub-continent to ransom. After 200 conflicts in 150 years, as the British, 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.

Pakistan leadership knows what it is doing. There must be a reason why there is

hostility towards India and belief in the reality of the Indian threat to Pakistan (that) is woven into the fabric of every Pakistani soldier.

Pakistani state education system inculcates a hatred of the Hindu “other” and glorifies the Pakistan Army as the saviour of the nation, and second through an outdated military training regime which builds on the child’s prejudice and lays the foundation for a career of military service at the metaphorical remote frontier military post. (via Primary threat to Pak is from within, not India – Times Of India).

For most Indians, the puzzling thing about Pakistan, is their hostility towards India.

Has India hurt Pakistan

Logically, all this hostility and threat perception of India is misplaced, feel Indians. The Indian attitude towards Pakistan is best represented by an anti-Pakistan hawk, Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena, a right-wing party and a a known Pakistan-baiter. In a recent interview, he says

TIMES NOW: How do you view what has been happening in Pakistan over the last few months?

Bal Thackeray: Why should I bother? Let them go to hell. I don’t want to know.

For  this is just about what Pakistan means to-day to Indians. Except when there are terrorist incidents. Must Pakistan be wary and suspicious of India. After all, India

has twice imposed military defeat on Pakistan – in 1965 and 1971 – and in neither case sought to assimilate, occupy or otherwise destroy Pakistan. The creation of Bangladesh in the latter war was Bengali-led and an inevitable working through of the inherent contradictions of East and West Pakistan; India did not press its advantage in 1971 over the rump West Pakistan despite Pakistan having lost roughly half its navy, one third of its army, and a quarter of its air-force.

India did not seek to exploit its nuclear monopoly over Pakistan, after the nuclear test in 1974, to the detriment of the Pakistan state. Nor has India been involved in significant military action against Pakistan since 1971 except in response to Pakistani or Pakistani-backed adventurism, such as in Kargil in 1999. India has a “no first use” nuclear policy and in terms of casus belli “Cold Start” is reactive not pre-emptive. (via Primary threat to Pak is from within, not India – Times Of India).

How are Ajmal Kasab and Jared Laughner different? Guns in the hands of killers.

How are Ajmal Kasab and Jared Laughner different? Guns in the hands of killers.

Power grab

Pakistan is actually 5 parts.

First is the army and the ISI combination. Then there are the popular politicians who take part in elections.

Add the mullah-madrasa-mujahhid combine with a fundamentalist clergy, various terrorist groups – like JeM, LeT, Al Qaida, various Taliban factions et al.

The economy and wealth are in hands of the 22 families. Mahbub-ul-Haq’s “22 families” speech in Karachi in 1968 highlighted the power and wealth of a few families in Pakistan.

And bringing up the rear there are the rest. No one in Pakistan talks to anyone. Each has contempt for the other four.

And all five have separate agenda.

Going for broke

To anyone but the most biased or blinkered, it is clear that there are political and economic goals that drive Pakistani rulers. Just like other rulers of the world. Instead of the one-party ‘dictatorship’ of China or a ‘two-party’ democracy in the West, there are many more Pakistani players – each jockeying for power, differently. In a very messy manner, according to ‘modern’ political standards.

Pakistani leadership has been able to use Saudi Arabia, China and USA to meets its own ends. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 24th May, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

Pakistani leadership has been able to use Saudi Arabia, China and USA to meets its own ends. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 24th May, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

Without making value judgements, multiple Pakistani factions are competing with each other to grab power.

The anti-India hysteria, alleged Islamization of Pakistan, the radical elements being a lunatic fringe or the mainstream, is just that much baloney.

Pakistani perception of the Indian threat to Pakistan is inculcated by the Pakistan Army for one central reason – to legitimize the Pakistan Army and ISI’s primacy in the Pakistan polity and thereby to justify the Army’s claim to a huge slice of Pakistan’s national resources. The perception of an Indian threat thus serves a purpose quite disconnected from the reality of that threat.

India’s large standing army is a material reality that has to be at the heart of Pakistan’s security concerns – is legitimate but misses two essential qualifications. The first is that India is no longer Pakistan’s primary security challenge; that is now the terrorism and extremism of militant Islam. The second is that in military terms, capability does not automatically equate with intent: India’s large standing army does not pose a threat to Pakistan per se any more than a large American or French army poses a threat per se to the UK. (via Primary threat to Pak is from within, not India – Times Of India).

India lives in a toug neighborhood. What to do? (cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

India lives in a tough neighborhood. What to do? (cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

All this talk of God, Allah, etc., is just that much hot and fetid air. The truth – all these are tools for power-players to use and come to power. What has made a difference and caused alarm across the world, is that a new disruptive player has joined the game.

What is worrying the world is that the LeT, Taliban are different kind of players  – and they play rough. Will the outcome be any different?

It will not be the usual ‘suspects’ but four different groups of Pakistanis on who will control Pakistan – and Pakistan’s atom-bombs, wealth, people, natural resources – the works. And a whole, new element.

It is called oil.

Managing China

May 27, 2011 3 comments

A sputtering economy with a strong yuan is not the same China anymore. How should India deal with a hesitant China.

Is India trying the same dance steps with a different partner? Things have changed ... (Cartoon by Tom Toles; courtesy - usnews.com/). Click for larger image.

Is India trying the same dance steps with a different partner? Things have changed … (Cartoon by Tom Toles; courtesy – usnews.com/). Click for larger image.

Flying dragon

The Chinese threat to India is something that occupies the minds of Indian defence strategists and every right-thinking Indian. Indian perception springs from the 1962 experience.

Last time China had a problem, it resulted in the India-China War of 1962. Just after the disastrous Great Leap Forward and before the equally disastrous Cultural Revolution.

The Great Leap Forward began in 1957-58, saw famine and hunger across China. After the Communist takeover of China, land seized from land owners, was given to peasants in 1949. Ten years later, in 1959, the Chinese State took away the same land from the same peasant. Food shortages, starvation followed. Western (questionable) estimates are that 30 million people died during this period.

War with India followed in 1962 – a diversion from the domestic Chinese catastrophe.

Crouching tiger

To handle this threat, India made, arguably, one of the best moves possible. An alliance with Soviet Russia.

As allies go, Soviet Union was in a different league, compared to USA. (Cartoon courtesy - siciliandefence.wordpress.com; artist attribution missing at source.). Click for larger image.

As allies go, Soviet Union was in a different league, compared to USA. (Cartoon courtesy – siciliandefence.wordpress.com; Source – from Chinese daily-Global Times; artist attribution missing at source). Click for larger image.

India tilted increasingly towards the Soviets in seeking protection from China. The Chinese humiliated India in 1962. The Soviets brutalised China in the late 1960s in a “border conflict” that may have been the biggest undeclared war ever. The US was wooing Yahya to act as via media to establish diplomatic relations with China on the basis of “enemy of my enemy” equations.

Mrs G was stampeded into the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty when she learnt from Kissinger that the US was pursuing diplomatic initiatives with China. The Chinese refrained from military action because the Soviets threatened to respond in kind. (via Cold facts about the Bangladesh war).

Is India doing the same thing now. Cosying upto USA, to seek an US umbrella against Chinese thunder? Just one thing needs to be remembered.

US is no Soviet Union – as allies go.

Can oil bring US, China and India together?

As things stand, oil is a good reason for China, India and USA to cooperate. US oil consumption is stagnant. But China and India are growing oil markets. Big Oil from US seeks to control flow of this oil to India and China. China is more mature power now. US power has its limits. India’s position is stronger.

Things have changed.


Pakistan – Shifting sands?

May 26, 2011 1 comment

Are things all that good in Yummrika? How bad are things in Pakistan? Some data.

Mebbe the Pakistani army is becoming less relevant? Is it possible. (Cartoon by Beeler / The Washington Examiner / Cagle Cartoons  Read more: http://www.time.com/time/cartoonsoftheweek/0,29489,2071308_2274759,00.html#ixzz1NU422ahi).

Mebbe the Pakistani army is becoming less relevant? Is it possible. (Cartoon by Beeler / The Washington Examiner / Cagle Cartoons.). Click for larger image.

Recent events in Pakistan confirm that the game in our neighbourhood has changed.

Wassup

For one, Big Oil has got into the game.

An imploding Pakistan, with gun-toting jehadi terrorists are convenient caricatures that hide a deep shift. As recent events in Abbottabad show. Even as we ignore Nawaz Sharif’s impotent talk of peace between India-Pakistan.

Who cares …

On 4th January, 2011, Salman Taseer died. Shot dead by his own body guard. His support for non-Islamic minorities in Pakistan coupled with his support for removal of blasphemy laws from statute books angered extremists. Leading to this killing. Salmaan Taseer’s other bodyguards did nothing against the killer.

Many ‘powerful people’ of Pakistan, afraid of the mullahmadrasamujahhid combine, did not attend Taseer’s funeral.

IS ISI still in charge of these gun-toting terroristas? I doubt ... (Cartoon by Gorrell Art / Creators Syndicate Inc.; cartoon courtesy timeinc.net). Click for larger image.

Has Osama’s death changed anything? Is ISI still in charge of these gun-toting terroristas? I doubt … (Cartoon by Gorrell Art / Creators Syndicate Inc.; cartoon courtesy timeinc.net). Click for larger image.

Another hate crime

Exactly 4 days later, in USA, on the other side of the world, on Saturday 8th January, 2011, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, was shot. At a Safeway grocery store, on the north side of Tucson, Arizona, during a public event.

More than 4 months since, Giffords remains hospitalized.

Desert Bloc parallels

Gabrielle Gifford and Salman Taseer were ‘marked’ for supporting ‘Others’. Christian intolerance, Islamic extremism.

Any difference?

Sympathy for ‘kaffirs‘ killed Salman Taseer. What hurt Gabrielle Giffords, was her support for a complicated healthcare bill and a ‘nuanced approach’ to immigration – seemingly to support ‘aliens’.

All that seems to separate Pakistan and US of A, is a very thick wad of notes.

Shoot-to-kill

Gabrielle Giffords a Democrat was put in the cross-hairs of a gun, by leaders like Sarah Palin – a US presidential hopeful. The job of pulling the trigger was left to some ‘radical’.

Just like in Pakistan. Where thousands of guns were handed over. Without due diligence. Targets were pointed out. Targets like Salman Taseer, Benazir Bhutto, Daniel Pearl.

And India.

There are new dots and the connections between these new dots have changed. Old habits die hard. (Cartoon by Chappatte / Int'l Herald Tribune / Cagle Cartoons  Read more: http://www.time.com/time/cartoonsoftheweek/0,29489,2070146_2272924,00.html#ixzz1NU7oMyfA). Click for a larger image.

There are new dots. The connections between these new dots have changed. Old habits die hard. (Cartoon by Chappatte / Int’l Herald Tribune / Cagle Cartoons.). Click for a larger image.

How deep is your love …

Usual news apart, read this.

LAHORE: The Punjab government has formed a committee which will present a report on the airing of cartoons depicting Hindu mythology and if they can be banned in Pakistan.

Even though Indian TV channels are currently off-air in Pakistan, several cable operators are broadcasting Indian content to meet the demands of their clientele.

A meeting of the committee was held in Lahore, which discussed ways to get these cartoons banned in Pakistan. (via Punjab govt goes after Hindu mythology cartoons – The Express Tribune).

I am reminded about an interview with Govindacharya (ex-BJP), in the same context, who claimed that well-springs of culture run deeper than commonly believed. I am beginning to wonder …

Was Govindacharya right, after all!

The taking of Pakistan

The game has changed.

Surely. Now oil is a part of the Pakistani jigsaw. Oil prices, the oil-dollar tango, Big oil hide behind the mullah-madrasa-mujahhid troika..

To understand this, we will need to ask some questions all over again. Just how strong is the idea of Pakistan? Can this idea of Pakistan be hijacked? Who benefits with such a hijack? What benefits are expected from this hijacking?

To understand some questions on Pakistan, we need to abandon official Congressi narrative. Equally, the Western rubbish about Pakistan.

Some answers, we have. For some haze to clear, we will need to wait. For some outcomes, we must be prepared.


The headache that is Pakistan

May 25, 2011 2 comments

Gunmen in USA have attempted and killed more people and US Presidents than gunmen in Pakistan. American Government has made guns cheap and accessible in – both in USA and Pakistan.

Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan - 2003- 2011. Source - South Asia Terrorism Portal; Copyright © 2001 SATP. All rights reserved. Click for a larger image.

Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan – 2003- 2011. Source – South Asia Terrorism Portal; Copyright © 2001 SATP. All rights reserved. Click for a larger image.

Why Pakistan gets bad press

After 60 years of Pakistan, India needs to take a fresh look at Pakistan. Maybe, even the world should look again at Pakistan.

To start with, Pakistan has become ‘famous’ for terrorist killings.

Going by numbers

Technically, more Americans are killed by guns in USA than in Pakistan. For instance, USA law-enforcement authorities found that ‘14,000 murders involving firearms were committed in 2005′. Surely, it is no comfort to American gunfire victims that they were not killed by jehadis.

What is it with America and guns? Why does the most advanced democracy, which prides itself on being a bastion of reason and civilisation in a brutal and ugly world, put up with this carnage in its own back yard? Why does it tolerate the sea of blood that flows from gun incidents, with about 100,000 people killed or injured every year? Why does it accept an annual murder rate by guns that is 13 times that of Germany and 44 times that of England and Wales? People tend to remember the low points, such as the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in 1968. But do they know that since those two men hit the floor, more than a million people have been killed in the US from the barrel of a gun? (via US gun crime: death for sale | World news | The Guardian.

The case of Pakistan is becoming more complex. Unchrted waters, anyone? (Cartoonist - Adam Zyglis; courtesy - http://www.adamzyglis.com). Click for larger image.

The case of Pakistan is becoming more complex. Uncharted waters, anyone? (Cartoonist – Adam Zyglis; courtesy – http://www.adamzyglis.com). Click for larger image.

Uncharted waters, anyone?

There will be protests that the SATP figure of 33,213 of Pakistani casualties, is a case of serious under-estimation and under-reporting.

Assuming that there is data-error, by how much can these numbers be multiplied. By 1000%? Maybe 2000%! Or will 3000% be more satisfactory?

At 3000%, more people are killed in US, with guns, than in Pakistan, as per SATP figures.

Coming to political assassinations, Pakistan is no worse. Gunmen in USA have attempted and killed more US Presidents than gunmen in Pakistan. Look deeply enough, you cannot hold the State of Pakistan (such as it is) responsible for free availability of guns.

One may argue that the Pakistani State anyway cannot be held responsible for most other things that a ‘modern’ State is responsible for. American Government has made guns cheap and accessible in – both in USA and Pakistan.

Not just Pakistan, but the whole world is misreading Pakistan. The problem is deeper and different. (Cartoon by DAVE GRANLUND, POLITICALCARTOONS.COM  -  5/4/2011 12.00.00 AM). Courtesy - caglecartoons.com. Click for larger image.

Not just Pakistan, but the whole world is misreading Pakistan. The problem is deeper and different. (Cartoon by DAVE GRANLUND, POLITICALCARTOONS.COM – 5/4/2011 12.00.00 AM). Courtesy – caglecartoons.com. Click for larger image.

So, why does Pakistan alone get such bad press – and so much name calling.


Zoroastrian Pride – At what cost?

May 24, 2011 3 comments

Is it a false sense of superiority that is behind the Zoroastrian problem? Instead of feeling superior, is it time that Zoroastrians learnt something from these Hindoos, divided by caste?

Life in Parsi Colony - Cartoon by Satish Acharya.

Life in Parsi Colony - Cartoon by Satish Acharya.

The Parsis were exemplary because they stood high above the common divisiveness of caste and demonisation of The Other. We must remain a community that’s worth emulating – and worth preserving. (via Blindly into the abyss – The Times of India).

Snootiness stops you from learning

Bachi, I would not be so superior over these ‘Hindoos, divided by caste’. The same Hindus united to give shelter to your refugee forefathers, when driven away from your homeland. And before giving refuge, some 500 years earlier, to win back the lands conquered by Alexander.

Without Indian elephants corps, would the Sassanians have ruled for more than 500 years?

Staying down is defeat

Anyone in the world can have their lucky day – including Alexander!

Losing to Alexander was not the tragedy. The one important question which is ignored was “Were the Greeks able to retain their Indian or Persian conquests?”

Within the next few years, Western history admits that the Indians kings won back all their losses – quite unlike the rest of Alexander’s conquests. For instance the Sassanians, a true-blue Persian dynasty was able to retake Persia, in 223 AD, 500 years after Alexander, from Parthians, who in turn were able to depose the Seleucids after 250 years – by 63 BC. Egypt and Greece never recovered.

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 cavalry and elephant corps, the Sassanians stopped the Romans at Persian borders in 363 AD.

Achaemenids did not learn their lessons from the death of Cyrus, the Great. Possibly, the outcome against Alexander would have been different, had they used more elephants at Gaugamela – instead of 12-15. Similarly, a 1000 years later, the Sassanian army, had forgotten their lessons – and could not use their few elephants to full effect, against the Islāmic Arabs.

But, the Sassanian dynasty was able to wrest back and defend Persian dominions from the Greco-Romans, after setting up an elephants corps in their army – evidenced, for instance, by the carvings at Taq-i-Bustan.

At one time, the Sassanian rulers had increased its Indian war elephant corps to 12,000.

Of an Edwardian India  By SILLOO MEHTA (Image courtesy - Copyright © 2011, The Hindu.). Click for larger image.

Benefits of collaboration? When life in a Parsi household was lived at a leisurely pace ... Of an Edwardian India By SILLOO MEHTA (Image courtesy - Copyright © 2011, The Hindu.). Click for larger image.

Entrepreneurs or Collaboration?

Is it the entrepreneurship of Homi Mody that you are proud of?

Or his collaboration with the British? Can it be Homi Mody’s adulation and admiration of the British?

October 28th 1933.

On that day, the Bombay Mill Owners Association signed the Lees-Mody Pact. This earned all Indian industrialists, Nehru’s distrust. The British had succeeded once again in divide-and-rule.

While the whole country was on a boycott of British goods (specially Lancashire), 21 businessmen led by Homi Mody (father of Russi Mody, Piloo Mody) agreed to a system of ‘imperial preferences’ – which furthered India’s impoverishment. Earlier, Homi Mody had warned Gandhiji against the renewing the swaraj movement.

Homi Mody had his own political ambitions. After Independence, Nehru did try and make up with Homi Mody. Homi Mody was also included in to India’s Constituent Assembly – even though he had served the British well.

Or is it the wealth from opium trade with China by Parsi traders who set up their offices in Hong Kong that you are proud of? Or the collaboration in the opium trade (and slavery) on which the British Empire was built. Not that Parsis were not the only collaborators. Remember these Hindus traders, divided by caste, restricted by shubh labh compunctions played a lesser role (compared to the European and Parsi traders) in this opium trade.

Even during Alexander’s conquest of Persia, witness the complete 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. But, at Indian North-West of the foursome Bessos, Spitamenes, Datafernes and the Scythians made Alexander’s life miserable. At Gaugamela, it was Bessos and his cavalry which broke Alexander’s formation.

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.

What were Alexander’s loot and pickings from India? Negligible.

SKETCH OF PARSI COUPLE BY MOKSHA; Posted on SATURDAY, MARCH 22, 2008. Click for larger image.

SKETCH OF PARSI COUPLE BY MOKSHA; Posted on SATURDAY, MARCH 22, 2008. Click for larger image.

Bactra – Bharat-ah …

Of course, India is not what India calls itself.

Bharat(ah) and aryavart are the more common names. Bactra is the Greek pronunciation (possibly) of Bharat(ah). Till about 8th century BC, Zoroastrians were based in Iran.

Within a few years, after the fall of Zoroastrian Sassanian kingdom, under persecution by the Islāmic conquerors, in Persia, the first set of Zoroastrians made their way back to  India. Over the next 200 years, from 8th century to 10th century, the Zoroastrians returned to Bactra  – Bharat(ah).

This false sense of superiority is what is behind the Zoroastrian problem. Just like all Parsis are not drug dealers or British collaborators, Hindus don’t deserve negative tags. Factually bad and misplaced in terms of etiquette, you should take a 2ndlook at this caste tag.

Instead of feeling superior, it is time that Zoroastrians learnt something from these Hindoos, divided by caste.


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