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Adiga’s Vacuum Theorem

August 26, 2011 3 comments

Arvind Adiga (hereafter Adiga-bhau), ‘winner of the £50,000 Man Booker prize’ makes a complete hash in a lengthy book review. Reading Arvind Adiga for the first time, I am surprised at the man’s obtuseness. Adiga writes,

Post-British Raj India had a difficult choice - which political system to choose! (Cartoon by RK Laxman; courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

Post-British Raj India had a difficult choice - which political system to choose! (Cartoon by RK Laxman; courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

French gives us vivid sketches of the peculiar, gifted men and women of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty – India’s Julio-Claudians – who governed the country until the 1990s, managing simultaneously to keep India democratic and united, while running its economy into the ground.

French follows the political sketches with portraits of the Indian businessmen who struggled to survive in the socialist economy that their politicians made for them – and who then burst free, with entrepreneurial vigour, when these controls were eased in the 1990s.

To keep falling for this promise, election after election, millions of Indian voters must be utter morons – and not the smart budding world-conquerors that French describes them as. (via India: A Portrait by Patrick French – book review | Books | The Observer).

British Raj – The Golden Age

If the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty were responsible for ‘running its economy into the ground’ is Adiga-bhau implying that the dynasty started with a prosperous and well-run Indian economy – which the dynasty ruined.

I wonder which history book Adiga-bhau reads? Which school taught Adiga-bhau this history? And if it just bad English, who decided to give him that Rs.30 lakh award?

From an India, which was a ship-to-mouth basket case, in 1950, to an emerging power, in 2010, seems to be have been a facile and an easy experience – and little credit is given to Indian political leadership for managing the post-colonial Indian system.

In this case, is it because Adiga-bhau forgets the state of Indian economy in 1950-1980?

At least in the 60s and the 70s, India was long on promise and short on performance. To imply now that the British Raj was better? Cartoon by RK Laxman. Click for larger image.

At least in the 60s and the 70s, India was long on promise and short on performance. To imply now that the British Raj was better? Cartoon by RK Laxman. Click for larger image.

Indian businessman. Patriotic …?

Coming to Adiga-bhau’s other point of ‘businessmen who struggled to survive in the socialist economy’ makes me hoot. As in laughter and cackle.

May be Adiga-bhau should keep his computer shut. After all, why take pains to prove himself to be an ignoramus?

Did anyone tell him about the Bombay Plan of 1944? India’s leading industrialists of the time proposed the Bombay Plan, which suggested a major role for the Indian State in independent India. Remember, way back in 1944,

the plan was put together by the who’s who of Indian industry (JRD Tata, GD Birla, Kasturbhai Lalbhai, Purshottamdas Thakurdas and Shri Ram) as well as top technocrats such as John Matthai, Ardeshir Dalal and AD Shroff (Matthai, who drafted the document, later became India’s Finance Minister). It was, in fact, half a Tata team. All three technocrats were working with the Tatas. Thirdly, and most importantly, what made everyone sit up and take notice of the Bombay Plan was its approach. Believe it or not, this capitalist-heavy team advocated government intervention and regulation. Words such as control, licenses and allotment were used in a manner no Indian capitalist has used ever since. Part II came a year later.

Left parties, politicians on the Right, Gandhians – all found fault with the Bombay Plan. But, India’s official planning documents that came out 4 years later in 1948, were very similar to the Bombay Plan.

So, much for business which struggled, Adiga-bhau!

A British War poster of 1939. British war poster of 1939. Just 8 years before independence. British racism and attitude towards 'Brown' Indians was discriminatory. Like this poster displays. Click for larger image.

A British War poster of 1939. British war poster of 1939. Just 8 years before independence. British racism and attitude towards 'Brown' Indians was discriminatory. Like this poster displays. Click for larger image.

Soon after WWII

From 1950, Britain still a major economy and a super-power, a victor of WWII, sent its best economists to advise the Indian Government.

They came from the leading Cambridge School, led by the redoubtable Joan Robinson, the keeper of Keynes’ ideological flame – and the group became famous as the Cambridge School. Apart from Cambridge School economists, other leading economists from all over the world came to India.

Long list, Big names

Among them was Harold Laski, of the London School of Economics, and Nicholas Kaldor and John Strachey from Britain. Not a few, but many American economists were sent to India, including Oskar Lange and Michael Kalecki (technically from Poland, but associated with US universities). Prominent among the American group were Neil Jacoby and Milton Friedman.

Apart from the Who’s Who of the world of economics many other big names like Paul N. Rosenstein-Rodan, Arnold Harberger, Richard Eckhaus, Alan Manne, James Mirlees, Ian Little, Charles Bettelheim, Brian Reddaway, Ragner Frisch, Richard Goodwin, Wassily Leontief and Jan Tinbergen – all came to India. Quite a few of these visits were financed by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations.

Many of these economists were neededto ‘sell’ the Indian point of view to the Western institutions like World Bank and IMF. And later the Aid India Consortium.

More than 30 years after this  cartoon, solar power is still not competitive. The West controlled technology, financial markets and raw material sources. Plus they had the killing machines like CIA, Mosssad. Just in case you stepped out of line. (Cartoon by Mike Peters; cartoon from the book-cover of SolarGas by David Hoye, published in 1979. Image courtesy - http://jimsbikeblog.wordpress.com) Click for larger image.

More than 30 years after this cartoon, solar power is still not competitive. The West controlled technology, financial markets and raw material sources. Plus they had the killing machines like CIA, Mosssad. Just in case you stepped out of line. (Cartoon by Mike Peters; cartoon from the book-cover of SolarGas by David Hoye, published in 1979. Image courtesy - http://jimsbikeblog.wordpress.com) Click for larger image.

Unhappy endings

Apart from the Cambridge School economists, the other big name was the leader of the Chicago School. Milton Friedman.

Unhappy at the reception to his proposals, Milton Friedman went for greener climes. Specifically, Chile.

Chile’s descent into the hands of a military junta, the human rights abuses, the political assassinations are the stuff of a Le Carre novels – except it was all real. And they happened under Milton Friedman’s very nose.

Sad and real, Adiga-bhau!

Neil Jacoby became advisor to another dictatorship – Taiwan.

The summer of hunger and poverty

Joan Robinson, it is claimed, used to say,The frustrating thing about India is that whatever you can rightly say about India, the opposite is also true.” Joan Robinson felt that in India the ‘problem is so formidable, that the mind boggles at it’.

Was it surprising that ‘more than half the world’s planning models were probably about India.’ And economists remembered Joan Robinson appearing dressed in a saree, at a conference in Europe.

British propaganda poster, promoting the 'special relationship' among Anglo-Saxon Bloc members. Was it possible for Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to confront the Anglo-Saxon Bloc in the 1950s and 1960s. Image courtesy - http://bertc.com. Click for a larger image.

British propaganda poster, promoting the 'special relationship' among Anglo-Saxon Bloc members. Was it possible for Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to confront the Anglo-Saxon Bloc in the 1950s and 1960s. Image courtesy - http://bertc.com. Click for a larger image.

The Ugly American

Post-War Europe itself, went down the way of planned economies – with some hilarious implementations.

Academic disagreement was battened down by threats and violence. Nehru appeared in CIA assassination lists.

It is unclear if it was Stalin’s lukewarm response to Nehru’s overtures or the alleged CIA plot against Nehru in 1955, temporarily Nehru did get close to Eisenhower.

The subsequent killing of Patrice Lumumba, the assassination of Salvador Allende or the ongoing coup in Iran, managed by USA and UK made these assassination fears real. One must not forget, (if one knows), that the price for independence was (and still is) CIA assassination or a regime change by USA.

For instance, the Shah of Iran worked against his own nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq – to protect Western Oil interests. To turn public opinion,

declassified documents detailing the 1953 U.S. overthrow of Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq reveal that something actually called the “CIA Art Group” produced cartoons to turn public opinion against the democratically elected leader.

The CIA, led by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., and the British intelligence, launched Operation Ajax. Finally, in 1979, the Shah was replaced by the regressive regime of Ayatollah Khomeini, which has taken Iran out of the USA orbit.

The real story, Adiga-bhau!

The Stick … and the carrot

Western aid was tied to India following Western advice. This continued to happen – at least till 1991. For instance, MJ Akbar quotes how American influence was behind Manmohan Singh’s appointment in 1991.

Really, Adiga-bhau!

India’s post-colonial choices were a mix of pragmatism, necessity and accepted wisdom of the times – and Western pressures and influences that are responsible for more than a fair share of guilt in these wrong choices.

This is scene from Kolkatta in 1943. Just 4 years before independence. Millions died, like flies, on the streets of Kolkatta, and across Bengal. Is this the economy that that the Nehru-Gandhi run into ground?

This scene from Kolkatta in 1943. Just 4 years before independence. Millions died, like flies, on the streets of Kolkatta, and across Bengal. Is this the economy that the Nehru-Gandhi run into ground?

Insult – but was there injury

Western media and academia conveniently forgets that Western institutions like World Bank, IMF, stampeded India (and Nehru), into some of these bad choices – which the West now claims were India’s own choices in the first place.

For instance, one of the worst choices made by India, tied to World Bank, IMF and US aid, was to follow the infamous population control policy. Blaming Nehru-Gandhi has become an article of faith in modern India.

But is it justified?

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Kashmir – How US Supported Pakistan Subversion

August 25, 2011 1 comment

Patrick French’s recent tweets are interesting footnotes to India’s tortured foreign policy, lurching between Nehru-Eisenhower friendship, to the US-Western support for Pakistan’s anti-India activities.

An Englishman named French

Patrick French has written two successful books on India – and is seen as another well-intentioned Indo-phile. His rather patronizing view of Indian leadership (refers to Indian MPs as HMPs – hereditary MPs) has become rather famous in Indian media. Unfortunately his view of Indian MPs as HMPs – hereditary MPs) displays a singular lack in understanding of Western demographics – and Indian society.

But then, he can be equally good, when he is mocking Michael Heseltine’s daughter, too!

Behind the bizarre policies of the Pakistani State are the dollars and mal-intentions of Pax Americana. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 15th April, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

Behind the bizarre policies of the Pakistani State are the dollars and mal-intentions of Pax Americana. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 15th April, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

Soldiers of fortune

Such as his ‘understanding’ is, he has been smart enough to hitch his career to Rising India than  Empty-Shell Britain, his native country.

Much like his other British colleague, William Dalrymple. Or British ‘traders’ who came to India to make a living – and later, looted, instead.

India’s new religion

The Dalrymples and the Frenchs receive a rather warm welcome in India due to their soft-push of liberal-progressive ideas. The same ideas that are behind India’s new religion – Westernization.

So enamored with the new religion of ‘Westernization’ are Indians, that no criticism is accepted or tolerated.

The ‘progressive liberal’ establishment of the West is viewed benignly in India – and seen as ‘well wishers’ of India. Many such ideas are welcomed in India without analysis, as the source of such initiatives is seen as well-intentioned. A ‘tolerant’ and ‘open’ society like India can be a complacent victim to Trojan horses.

After the dust settles

Much like how Marathas continued to ‘accept’ Mughal position of rulers of India, long after the claim had expired. Modern India too, accepts Western ‘achievements’. Compared to the ‘co-operation’ with the Islāmic plunderers our ‘collaboration’ with the West is in no way less damaging or in any way less culpable.

In this context, French’s report of this conversation is a rather interesting and independent confirmation of rather malignant (OK, unfriendly, if you will) Western intentions regarding India.


National Ratings – What Is The World Coming to?

August 24, 2011 5 comments

Examining governance records of selected ten premiere post-WWII governments across the world could throw up some surprises.

Momentum and direction is half the story. The Other Half is more difficult. (Cartoon by Bill Leak; Courtesy - cagle.com). Click for larger image.

Momentum and direction is half the story. The Other Half is more difficult. (Cartoon by Bill Leak; Courtesy - cagle.com). Click for larger image.

Any flavour – as long as it is socialism

With a global recession staring at the world, unemployment at record levels, gold prices in the stratosphere, there is need to understand where nations – and their country-models are going. Communism has failed, Capitalism died with end of African slavery – and in a world made of  socialist flavours, it may be worthwhile to understand what works – and for how long.

Maybe you should read more about भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

Performance and propaganda

If we are to examine governance records of selected ten premiere post-WWII governments across the world, a lot of State propaganda will stand exposed. To enable a broad understanding of national direction – based on historical milieu, current context and future prospects, a country Rating Engine is available.

10 nations have been chosen. Four from Europe (France, Germany, Italy and UK), two from South America (Argentina and Brazil) Japan and USA, China and India. Looking back at the 65 years after WWII (1945-2010), the context and strategies of these ten countries throws up some surprises.

10 Country Rating Engine

For purposes of this post, a 10-country snapshot has been presented with a Rating Engine. The Rating Engine can be used to measure performance on three parameters.

  1. Relative Decline or Rise From WWII-to Now

  2. Current Status

  3. Country Outlook Over the Next 10-25 Years.

Readers can do a country wise rating on these three parameters, for each country. Cumulative ratings will appear instantly.

USA – the world’s largest economy.

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

With

  1. 25,000 tons of gold after WWII, now down to 8000-odd tons
  2. Bretton Woods system on its side
  3. World industrial base in shambles,

USA was the supreme power. Without a challenger.

Especially after the atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

The same USA is a second rate power, mired with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, battling economic stagnation, with the world’s largest prisoner base.

Run by an intrusive policing system with CIA, FBI, and sundry other agencies that snoop on its own citizen.

The place of the US dollar in the world trade system has been eclipsed.

With a

  1. Huge Welfare State
  2. High levels of crime
  3. Low marital levels
  4. A Big Brother State

the US Govt. employs between 25%-30% of its labour-force.

The largest government in the world, only after China.

Probably.

Britain – The Grand Phuski (or also The Great Damp Squib)

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

Britain, a victor of WWII, a super-power in its own right, with its mighty industrial base intact, is now a shell of its former self.

Within two decades after loss of Indian raw-material sources and markets, British steel, shipbuilding, automobile, electrical, electronics, coal, railway industries collapsed.

North Sea Oil saved Britain in the 80s and 90s.

British sterling which was the world’s prime currency before WWII, is now not even in reckoning.

North Sea Oil is no longer a buffer or a significant opportunity.

Limited British industrial base is now captured non-British companies (like Tatas from India).

Labour supply managed by high immigrant population is proving difficult to integrate.

With: –

  1. Gross National Debt (Govt, Corporate &Individual) at 500% of GDP
  2. Low marital rates
  3. High imprisonment levels
  4. Bloated Welfare State,

the British economy faces a bleak future.

To this add, the threat of Scottish secession.

Argentina – The Land Of Missed Opportunities

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

Unaffected by WWII, Argentina, became a major food producer and exporter – especially to UK.

A raw material giant from 1900-1950, Argentina descended into

  1. Military dictatorships
  2. Economic stagnation

to be finally eclipsed by its Latin American neighbour, Brazil.

In the last 20 years, Argentina has seen: –

  1. Mediocre economic performance
  2. Debt default
  3. Bad fiscal position

This makes the current position of Argentina no better than yesterday.

Argentina’s polity has been served by husband-wife teams of Juan and Eva Peron earlier, and now by Nestor and Cristina Kirchner.

With no special economic advantage, Argentina’s struggle for relevance continues.

Argentina’s exports of soybean and corn were significant. Argentina’s industrial and agricultural base give it no special place or advantage.

Inflation (exceeding 100% at times) has been an endemic problem in Argentina for most of the last 60 years.

Brazilian Success – Resounding and Recent

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

Brazil success built partly on agriculture, raw-material mining, and a BPO sector – and long-term public policy decisions like the use of ethanol instead of petrol for cars.

A freshly minted democracy after years of military rule has stabilized Brazil’s political scene. From 1930-1945, Brazil was ruled by a military junta which was reestablished in 1964, to continue till 1985.

Brazil’s governance model is too recent to merit any credit.

Wealth disparities between the landed and wealthy and the poor, landless, employed or unemployed have been persistent and stubborn.

The ethanol industry has soaked up large amounts of subsidies – and finally may turn out to be a waste, as natural gas seems like a cheaper and feasible alternative.

Brazil’s

  1. Activism in multi-lateral forums
  2. Vibrant agricultural sector
  3. Comfortable foreign exchange position
  4. Smooth transfer of power
  5. Low-risk of war-and-conflict reduces defence burden.

positive points for Brazil’s future.

The French Success Model

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

French success is based on two very interesting devices. One is the creation of a democratic dictator who can have only one final challenger in the election – till recently, only once in seven years.

The other French innovation was to create a vast public sector economy with government bureaucrats.

 

French private sector is an oligarchy with deep links between French banks and industry and vast subsidies to its agricultural sector.

French auto, aerospace, defence, electronics industries remains competitive and significant.

French fiscal and debt situation while under control is not in the pink of health.

 

French agriculture based on huge subsidies not sustainable.

Managing public sector economy, using a large bureaucracy, with low-levels of entrepreneurial activity with low-cost migrant labour and a Welfare State, is not the most alluring model.

Integration of immigrants into the French society may be an issue

Loser’s Miracle

The three most ‘impressive’ examples of economic resurgence have been the losers of WWII – Germany, Italy and Japan. Significant industrial nations before WWII, it is no co-incidence that these three economies came together on one side to fight WWII – against colonial powers, Britain and France.

The Japanese Miracle

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

Japan’s airforce in WWII used its own Zero fighters (Mitsubishi A6M1); a significant industrial power by 1920s

Japan’s textile industry was a dominant player in the world from 1920’s-1970s; a major buyer of Indian cotton and exporter of polyester sarees in the 1970’s;

Toyota was a textile machinery firm, Toyoda

 

Japan’s

  1. 20 years of stagnation
  2. Aging population
  3. Uncertain economic outlook
  4. Dependence on exports to USA
  5. Government debt of more than 200% of GDP
  6. Focus on ‘developed’ markets

makes the Japanese ‘miracle’ questionable

 

With low traction in: –

  1. Emerging economies like India, China, Brazil
  2. In new sectors like software, internet

With an

  1. Aging population
  2. Stagnant markets (like USA and EU) for Japanese exports

Japan’s future seems cloudy – if not bleak.

The Italian Job

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

Italy, one of the three losers in WWII, built itself with a vibrant private sector based on

  1. Food, wine, luxury items, hi-technology
  2. And a small number of public sector firms.

Inspite of

  1. Frequent changes in coalition governments from 1945-1990, due to unstable coalition politics

 

 

Italy’s vibrant private sector

  1. Hobbled by an over-valued Euro
  2. Compromised by unstable banking

Italian public sector in telecom, heavy engineering, energy,  (like ENI, ENEL, Telecom Italia) does not dominate the economy like in France or Germany.

Few Italian companies make to the Global 500 companies- just about 10.

 

 

The Welfare State in Italy as not as efficient’ as the UK, USA, France or Germany.

The public sector too is weak.

With one large oligarchic Fiat, Italy is rather unique in that the common modern ill of MNC-Government oligarchy seems to be weak in Italy

Italy’s dominance of luxury and design businesses has only France as competition

The Rise and Rise of Germany

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

Germany’s

  1. Vast & competitive public-sector
  2. Export growth, in spite of an overpaid labour force, an over-valued Euro,

is without parallel in Europe – or anywhere else.

 

It must however be remembered that Germany’s

  1. Security
  2. Political structures
  3. Democracy

was imposed on it after WWII.

German reconstruction was bankrolled by the Marshall Plan – the US aid plan for Europe.

German smooth integration of East Germany is a plus

 

Germany’s technology prowess has consistently outperformed the world, without

  1. Mass slavery
  2. Captive markets,
  3. Colonies
  4. Military plunder
  5. Low cost labour

in 20th century.

Unlike Britain or France.

China – The Jade Garden Blooms Again

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

Mao’s China has gone through two major famines.

During the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

The Communist Party reinforced control using the Tiananmen Square Suppression.

 

China’s growth based on: –

Favorable yuan-dollar exchange rate; earlier used by Europe, Japan, Asian Tigers to grow.

Low labour costs

At a huge non-apparent costs on environment, health, lifestyle

 

China’s dependence on exports to the US markets, favorable exchange rate, clouds its economic and political outlook.

Can it keep Tibet under its control, using its army?

Can Xinjiang be ‘pacified’?

.

India – What is The Difference

Rise or Decline (1945-2000)
Today
Future

India’s

  1. Top-class entrepreneurs
  2. Competitive economy without a dollar-crutch
  3. Vast agricultural output
  4. Small-sized government
  5. Public sector in retreat
  6. Are clouded by rise of an oligarchy.

 

Peaceful changes in elected governments for more than 60 years is unprecedented for a country close to this size.

Except the USA.

Most importantly, India’s stable social structure based on universal marriage makes it unique among all other countries of the world.

Plus a young population.

 

India’s creation of a

  1. Modern industrial infrastructure
  2. Change in governments,
  3. Market-economy systems (stock and foreign exchange markets)

is without parallel or example in the last 200 years – with its religious, genetic, racial, economic, diversity.

Lethargy As Opinion

August 16, 2011 3 comments

Examining governance records of selected ten premiere post-WWII governments across the world could throw up some surprises.

Colonial motivations

The British Raj needed to mock and diminish the Indian politician. The Indian political leader was trying to dislodge the colonial Government from their position of power. Churchill’s famous descriptions of Gandhiji as ‘that naked fakir’ and Indian politicians as ‘men of straw’ was a sentiment shared across ruling elites in Britain.

Seems like in India, too

Post-independence, this mockery of the Indian politician has only grown. This criticism, carping and mockery has no basis in fact – statistics, measurements, performance metrics. Anything at all.

The drag government’s been on the Indian story is astonishing. No government in the world’s been such a burden to a country. It’s done none of the things it’s meant to while it seems to eye private success with greed. There’s only so long this frame can hold…

One of the things making me happiest in America was the man coming up was celebrated. In India, I sense disgust, revulsion for that person, that he should suddenly have aspirations, riches, ambitions. In Noon, I’ve tried to get at this. (via ‘I think of myself as Indian in a sense that includes Pakistan’ – Page 2 – Times Of India).

Aatish Taseer, whose books and writings have been met with much fanfare, publicity and soundbites, is another one who bites into the dust of empty criticism.

If we are to examine governance records of selected ten premiere post-WWII governments across the world, Taseer’s emptiness (he is not alone) will stand exposed.

These 10 governments four from Europe (France, Germany, Italy and UK), two from South America (Argentina and Brazil) Japan and USA, China and India. Looking back at the 65 years after WWII (1945-2010), the context and strategies of these ten countries throws up some surprises. India would definitely be a part of the Top-3 anyway that such a performance can be rated.

Image source and courtesy - economist.com.

Image source and courtesy - economist.com.

Just on what basis have other governments have done better? All that bedevils Indian governance are present in all other countries. And the answer to all that ails ‘modern’ governance, can only come from India.

You can do a 10 country evaluation here and vote. And maybe, Taseer-miya …

You should read about भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, .

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