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Posts Tagged ‘Anglo-Saxon Legal System’

Threat to bomb Indian community centre in Belfast- Hindustan Times

July 14, 2009 3 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What could be more logical, when these Roma,

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

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

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

Historian on a mission to save little-known caves – Mumbai – City – NEWS – The Times of India

July 12, 2009 16 comments
Magathane Caves

Magathane Caves

Two years ago, a historian, while researching traditional Indian methods of water harvesting, stumbled upon a series of ancient Buddhist caves in Borivli, which its custodians scarcely knew or cared about.

Initially, she was scared that the historical caves would crumble under the weight of the slum colonies that encroached upon them, but now she fears that the construction works being conducted on an adjacent plot might bring the structures down. (via Historian on a mission to save little-known caves – The Times of India).

Old Mumbai mills are valuable - but not the Buddhist caves

Old Mumbai mills are valuable - but not the Buddhist caves

While India has managed to obtain funding for ‘saving’ the gargoyle-infested colonial railway structures from UNESCO, breast beating activists have managed to increase awareness of structures funded by colonial loot and drug trade (of opium).

In all this, two things are forgotten.

One – Colonial versions show the start of Mumbai’s history when the Portuguese gave Mumbai as dowry to the British in 1661 – including a Government of Maharashtra website.

If there was no Mumbai before the British, where did these Buddhist caves (at Magathane, Kanheri, etc.) come from? Or did I miss the ‘fact’ that British first came to India in the 2nd century, made these Buddhist caves – and came back again to India in the 17th century, built these Gothic Victorian structures, and went away – which we ‘uncultured’ Indians are trying to save?

Did the British come in the 1st century and make these caves?

Did the British come in the 1st century and make these caves?

Two – The liberal establishment in India is worried about all the colonial ‘heritage’ and structures. Old Mumbai mills are included – but not the even more ancient Buddhist structures.

The Mumbai Municipal Commissioner, while decrying the attempts by the Indian neo-Colonial Rulers, to ‘save’ Mumbai’s colonial past, makes no mention of these Buddhist caves. While Kipling’s bungalow is a ‘hallowed’ institution, these Buddhist caves are dying of ‘active neglect’.

Radically rethinking Indian agriculture – Sanjeev Sanyal

July 9, 2009 7 comments

In recent weeks, there have been growing apprehensions that the monsoons of 2009 will fall short of normal. This has again raised fears of rising food prices, collapse in rural incomes and possibly farmer suicides. Many a tear will be shed for rural India. Predictably, there will calls for greater support for the agriculture sector in the form of subsidised fertilisers/pesticides, cheap electricity for pumping ground water and farm loan waivers. We have been doing this now for generations now and our impoverished farmers still commit suicide. Surely, it’s time to rethink this strategy. (via Sanjeev Sanyal: Radically rethinking agriculture).

The Good …

Sanjeev Sanyal’s article does raise some interesting points – and usual points. After a promising start he then loses his way half way through.

He demolishes the idea that “the route to prosperity in rural India lies in accelerating farm production. Agriculture … contributes 16.5 per cent of the economy … great exertion … cannot … (make it) grow much more than 3 per cent per annum on a sustained basis (when the rest of the economy routinely does 7-8 per cent).”

He correctly points out that “India … produces enough food to feed itself but … 20 per cent of output is wasted (a) problem … of distribution and storage, (and with) population growth is now 1.6 per cent per year … we need to grow production by no more than this rate. … we should … slow agricultural growth … if we do not want … greater wastage or a structural price decline …a buffer for drought years … is better management of bumper crops rather than ever more production. India should shift focus from increasing agricultural production to improving its efficiency (with) investment(s) … in storage and distribution.”

His best one is the warning that “farming comes with a large environmental cost … the Green Revolution is anything but “green”. Current farming techniques are severely damaging to the environment through the depletion of ground water, conversion of forest land and over-use of pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals … sacrificing the long-term viability of the farm sector. It … made sense in the ‘70s to force a level-shift in food-grain production but why should we be still sacrificing the food security of future generations?”

He reminds us that “it makes … sense to strictly conserve ground water and use it only when the monsoons fail. Special attention should be given to water management (as opposed to extraction). Agriculture consumes 80 per cent of the country’s fresh-water in order to produce just 16.5 per cent of GDP … poor use of a scarce resource.”

The Bad …

Do we need this Great American Dream

Do we need this "Great American Dream"

After such good work, he succumbs to the banal – with some usual conclusions. He thinks that,

very large investments in water systems are needed to maintain even the current growth path.

Large investments in water systems are a bad, imported idea. India’s successful water management model is the nearly local 500,000 water bodies – ponds, lakes, anicuts, barrages, bunds, talabs, bawlees, wells. These water bodies stored surface water – and sustained Indian agriculture for the last 2000 years. Post-colonial India’s quest for Nehruvian “temples of modern India” spurred huge and wasteful investment in large hydro-electric dams. Reviving Indian water systems and rivers will take some 10 years and Rs.25,000 crores. About the cost of two large dams.

With around 70 per cent of the population still in the villages, it is absurd to hope that such a small and slow-growing part of the economy can bring salvation to such a large population.

US agricultural subsidies

US agricultural subsidies

Mr.Sanyal, you should consider the following, before you make such a sweeping statement. With the declining power and use of the dollar, the US is fighting a losing battle against agricultural subsidies. The US depends on less than 50,000 corporate ‘farmers’ for 50% of ts production. These corporate ‘farmers’ will abandon agriculture at the first sign of reduced subsidies. Over the next 20-30 years, this leaves India (and Russia) to cater to global food shortfalls. The Western industrial model is in its sunset phase. The Indian agricultural model can be the big winner in the next few decades – under the right stewardship.

And in the meantime, he himself follows up with an observation, “studies by economists like Dipankar Gupta suggest, non-agricultural activity already accounts for around half of rural India’s economy and provides employment to 35-45 per cent of the rural workforce.”

Third, encouraging agricultural growth for exports in not a viable option for India. Export of agricultural products is tantamount to export of water. International trade may make sense for some niche products like tea or for managing natural cycles in food-stocks. However, it cannot be a central strategy for a water-starved country like India. It is especially careless to be thinking about exporting water when climate change may be putting even current supplies at risk.

As pointed out earlier, both water management and agricultural exports is something that is both feasible and sensible thing to do. This is something that India must prepare itself for.

The truly ugly

Meanwhile, policies should be aimed at encouraging the process of moving the rural economy away from agriculture.

Broke ... and Broke

Broke ... and Broke

The Ikshavaku clan, (of Ramchandra in the Ramayana fame), became a ruling family for developing the agricultural strain of sugarcane. Bhagwan Krishna came to be known as Natho, for domesticating wild bulls. Balarama is the 7th avataar of Vishnu – whose ‘weapon’ was the plough – the founder of Indian agricultural practice.

The Indian agriculturist has made a remarkable recovery after the colonial collapse – and he may still surprise you.

The aspirations of rural India have already shifted — the literate children of subsistence farmers want real jobs, not pesticides. Why should we stop them? However, this requires a big shift in policy mindset. For instance, we need to shift from a regime of cheap but irregular power supply (which may work for irrigation) to one that is fully-priced but regular (necessary for the non-farm sector). This is our best bet for making India drought-resistant.

After ceaseless bombardment of advertising, with Indian languages weakening due to massive Government subsidies to English language education, is the movement to urban lifestyle a surprise? Not to me Mr.Sanyal. Though, why you are surprised, Mr.Sanyal is a puzzle to me. We need to invest in rural India. Currently rural credit is way below its contribution to GDP – and the low price realizations for agricultural output makes the case for investments stronger.

Next, we need to revisit general governance in rural India. The traditional structures may have worked for subsistence farming (even this is debatable) but they will not support large investments in industry, construction and services. The government needs to focus on how to deliver policing, enforcement of contracts, property rights and so on.

This is about shifting from a world of farm-loan waivers to one that can support large-scale mobilisation and investment of capital in these areas. The Naxalite movement that affects a fourth of India is not due to the failure of agriculture but the failure of governance. At the same time, note that the cause of property rights and governance is not served by the indiscriminate use of “eminent domain” to acquire large chunks of land for so-called SEZs.

Do we need this American model?

Do we need this American model?

When you refer to ‘traditional structures’, are you talking about ‘general governance’ of the colonial Raj – that post-colonial India continued with? Or are you talking about the pre-Raj structures? The Indian peasant was the first and the only peasant in the world to own his property – till ‘Desert Bloc’ rulers started a 800 year trend of ‘landgrab’. Yes. India does need to re-visit ‘general governance’! We need traditional governance – and not the ‘modern’ colonial baggage, that India has not discarded.

We need to give back the lands that were grabbed from the poor Indian peasant and the poor Indian tribal.

The need is for a framework of governance that allows industry and services to grow organically in response to local conditions.

Finally, there should be a greater effort to provide urban amenities for education, health, shopping and leisure at places that are accessible to the rural hinterland. Together with the shift to non-farm jobs, this provision of amenities will inevitably lead to urbanisation. This is a good thing and should be encouraged. However, urbanisation is not just about migration to the mega-cities of Delhi and Mumbai … mofussil towns need to be revived as social and economic hubs

Indian agriculture has a great future – and don’t you ignore it, Mr.Sanyal. On the other hand, industrial over-production, debt-financed over-consumption, American economic model, funded by petro-dollars /Sino-dollars, is about to end.

India cannot go down that path.

Roma Gypsies face Northern Ireland ethnic violence

June 18, 2009 24 comments
A frugal Romani Gypsy Camp

A frugal Romani Gypsy Camp

Police said the racist attacks started last week, with gangs smashing house windows and attacking cars. The violence flared again on Monday when youths hurling bottles and Nazi salutes attacked an anti-racism rally called to support the migrants.

Belfast City Council press officer Mark Ashby said the majority of the victims were Roma, or Gypsies, from Romania.

Marian Mandache, from the Romanian Gypsy NGO Romani Crisis, said the Northern Ireland violence was the latest in a disturbing trend of attacks across Europe.

“Starting with Italy in 2007, there have been waves of … racist attacks against Roma,” said Mandache. “Afterwards, there were attacks in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.” (via Gypsies face Northern Ireland ethnic violence).

Hitler was never alone

Hitler’s biggest mistake – he lost the war.

The genocide with which his regime was charged with was also carried out against the Native Americans in the USA, the Australian aborigines, in Congo by the Belgians. Post colonial Governments in Kenya and India have ignored the cover-up of the millions killed by the colonial rulers – in the Mau Mau operations in Kenya or the 1857 War in India.

The Romani Gypsies Sinti have been a favored European target for the last 500 years – by the Vatican, by the Protestant Church, by monarchies and by Republican Governments. In war and and in peace.

Their crime. They civilized (?) Europe. No less.

A 'campaign' to remove Roma Gypsies from camping sites in Britain

A 'campaign' to remove Roma Gypsies from camping sites in Britain

Why Europe continues to demonize and persecute the Roma

Despite the immense contribution by the Roma Gypsies to European culture and life. Is it because: –

  1. They have a different lifestyle – which is migratory and frugal. They do not wish to have permanent homes, too many possessions or jobs. They prefer living in wagons, with skills and trade that they possess.
  2. They have not ‘integrated’ into the White, Christian, European social system. They wish to remain ‘different’.
  3. They stick out like sore thumbs – in a Europe where the Jews have been annihilated, where  descendants of the African slave populations have been exterminated and the Islamic population (past and present) is not tolerated. In such a situation, the Roma Gypsies have not only survived, but have regrown (after Hitler’s concentration camps killed them by millions).

Since when, are these qualities a crime.

Recent history

A few months ago, the Italian police started a campaign of racial profiling and persecution of the Roma – based on an isolated murder of an Italian.

This disproportionate response against a community, to a crime (I am making an assumption of guilt) by a Roma individual, smacks of persecution, racism and pogroms. After all, this is how Hitler and Mussolini too started their campaigns.

In Northern Ireland, the Roma Gypsy number less than 1000. What threat, what problem could they be to the nearly 2 million people of Northern Ireland?

In Britain,

For over twenty years Erith Borough Council continually tried to remove the gypsies from the Marshes. The Council’s eviction policy even made the National Press. In 1948 the Daily Mirror ‘Ruggles’ cartoon strip featured the plight of the Belvedere Gypsy community.

Finally, in 1956 Erith Borough Council got its way. The Council minutes for that year record that “over 700 persons and 280 ramshackle structures have been removed…The clearance could now be said to be complete” thus ending over 100 years of Gypsy history living on Belvedere Marshes.

By 1965, following a campaign led by Norman Dodds, MP for Erith and Crayford, the Government commissioned a national census survey of the Gypsy community living in Great Britain. Sadly, Norman Dodds died in 1965, but James Wellbeloved who became the MP for the same seat took up Dodds’ campaign and finally, in 1968 Parliament passed the Caravans Sites Act. This Act placed a duty on all local authorities in England and Wales to provide sites on which Gypsies could place their caravans and stay, either temporarily or permanently. However this duty was repealed by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1995. (from Gypsies In Bexley: A Hundred Years On The Belvedere Marshes By Simon McKeon, 13/07/2006, from Untold London).

Unarmed, and a few of them!

PS

To all those who wanted to pin the blame for this wave of violence at the doorsteps of the Roma, better find a new and better story. It was reported that Indians, Muslims and the Poles were also warned. Leave Northern Ireland, or else.

Apply command responsibility!

May 11, 2009 1 comment

In these days of easy communication and the existence of a clear chain of authority, ignorance cannot be an excuse. In the post World-War I era, the principle of ‘Command Responsibility’ was evolved for imputation of responsibility and criminal liability to superior officers for the actions of their subordinates. This principle was most famously used to sentence to death General Yamashita of Japan for crimes committed against civilians in the Philippines, and has been included since in a number of international law instruments, including the rules for the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In the Nuremberg trials after World War II, command responsibility was undoubtedly a consideration for affixing liability, but was not really applied because the accused German ministers and officers were found to have a direct role in the atrocities committed by the instrumentalities of the Nazi state. This is a principle that has been utilised to punish those who order the commission of crimes against humanity as also those who turn a blind eye to the commission of these crimes. As defined under the Rome Statute, it can apply to both military and civil authorities, although it has mostly been used to prosecute military commanders whose troops were found to have committed offences which were within their notice. (via Apply command responsibility- Comments & Analysis-Opinion-The Economic Times).

Interesting concept

Wonder how this can be used by the Roma Gypsies against Berlusconi for persecution by the Italian police. Or against the Hungarian and Czech Governments for their complicity and inaction against the persecution of the Roma Gypsies.

This disproportionate response against a community, to a crime (I am making an assumption of guilt) by a Roma individual, smacks of persecution, racism and pogroms. After all, this is how Hitler and Mussolini too started their campaigns.

Why does Europe continue to demonize and persecute the Roma

Despite the immense contribution by the Roma Gypsies to European culture and life. Is it because: –

  1. They have a different lifestyle – which is migratory and frugal. They do not wish to have permanent homes, too many possessions or jobs. They prefer living in wagons, with skills and trade that they possess.
  2. They have not ‘integrated’ into the White, Christian, European social system. They wish to remain ‘different’.
  3. They stick out like sore thumbs – in a Europe where the Jews have been annihilated, where the descendants of Black slave populations have been exterminated and the Islamic population (past and present) is not tolerated. In such a situation, the Gypsies have not only survived, but have regrown (after Hitler’s concentration camps killed them by millions).

Since when, are these qualities a crime.

Long history

In Europe, kidnapping children was considered legal for most of 1500AD-1750AD. On one condition – you had to kidnap Roma Gypsy children! More than 25,000 children kidnapped. No problem. Everybody sleeps peacefully at night. Switzerland was doing this till 1973!

Roughly, between 1500 to 1750, it was legal in Europe to hunt human beings. Yes! Just like hunting for deer in India, or hunting buffalo in Africa or fox-hunting in Britain. Yes! You could hunt human beings. As long as the humans you hunted were Roma Gypsies.

Sharing the Nazi concentration camps with the Jews were a fringe European group – Roma Gypsies. 80% of the Romany Gypsy population – a greater percentage of Roma Gypsies died than the Jews.

Jewish Double Standards

On 16 September 1986, as Elie Wiesel addressed a wide range of audience in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, he stated

“I confess that I feel somewhat guilty towards our Roma friends. We have not done enough to listen to your voice of anguish. We have not done enough to make other people listen to your voice of sadness. I can promise you we shall do whatever we can from now on to listen better” (Tanner 1997).

Elie Wiesel confirms that he feels only somewhat guilty and will do his best to listen – just like Europe and the world does – once in while, listen to the Roma Gypsy and then revert back to complete indifference rest of the time.

Sarkozy lectures to Manmohan Singh

A few months ago, President Sarkozy was preaching to PM Manmohan Singh of India, about managing minorities. Can you, Shri Sarkozy, look at your own backyard. For a start, will you start with some Muslim North Africans, Mr.Sarkozy!

Mr.Sarkozy, recently, in the EU, Roma Gypsies, who are EU citizens, were profiled and expelled from Italy because of 1 incident (yes, one) where a White was murdered – allegedly by a Roma Gypsy. France and Italy both belong to an organization called the EU – which now wants to teach India about Human rights.

A few months ago, the Italian police started a campaign of racial profiling and persecution of the Roma – based on an isolated murder of an Italian. Till recently, France was head of EU. If you, Mr. Sarkozy, can preach to Manmohan Singh, can you start with your colleagues – in Italy, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

Do European prejudices include Roma Gypsy children, Sarkozy mahodai?

Law and order

an angry mob attacked a Roma gypsy camp outside of Naples … when a gypsy woman was accused of trying to steal a baby from a nearby apartment. Police arrested the woman, but a crowd then turned against all 800 gypsies living in the camp. “They have to go,” said one Italian. “They stink, they bother us, and they steal from us. That is why they have to go.” Tuesday night, a group of people torched the camp, forcing residents to flee under police protection. (from Italian police crack down on immigrants)

Now, this Italy. If the Italians are so brave and law-abiding, I would like to see the Italians torch the home of a Mafiosi! Even a small time hood! A low-level Mafiosi. After all, the Mafia is the biggest criminal organization in Italy! Where is this outrage, when it comes to the Mafia?

Let us face it – this is entirely because the Roma Gypsies have not taken to violence or arms! If I were an Italian, I would be careful. Like the British found out, we Indians are a peaceful lot … till …

Roma Gypsies are Indians

The Roma Gypsies came to Europe 1000 years ago, from India – and are till today considered outsiders. They are not allowed to lead their lifestyle – and the Gypsy community is accused of all misdeeds. It is the same Gypsies who civilized Europe with their music. Today, the West desperately hides the fact that Western classical music was derived and grew from Gypsy music. No longer slaves, the discrimination and persecution continues.

Zombies versus churails

Could you have an equally successful version with churails and djinns? Perhaps, but Grahame-Smith’s success is also because of the public fascination with zombies, vampires and werewolves. Werewolves come from the Old Norse vargulf, and were feared as actual threats several centuries ago. Zombies originated in Haiti, but the idea of revenants—the walking dead—was very much part of Old English folklore. Vampires, especially the Transylvanian kind, reached the peak of their popularity in the 18th century.

True zombies, vampires and werewolves have not been feared for at least two centuries. But their place in the popular imagination has been maintained by horror movies and novels as well as several generations of gamers. Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight series elevated the classic vampire love story to interspecies romance, with a werewolf vying for the hand of the beautiful Bella. (via Nilanjana S Roy: Zombies versus churails).

Why are Indians so bad at horror films …

Why does the largest film production culture, i.e. India not produce Jaws, Jurassic Park (animals as malevolent monsters; justifying the extermination of huge swathes of wild life, “good that we have exterminated them). Where is the Indian Dracula or Frankenstein? In all its 25 major languages and more than 500 plus dialects, Indians don’t have a national ‘monster’ culture? The writer of this column writes, almost complainingly, how

But few have carried on the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote some of the most chilling ghost stories of all time—Khudito Pashan (The Hungry Stones) being perhaps the best of them. It’s not for lack of talent—for instance, Tarun Tejpal and Ravi Shankar Etteth have both played around with the ghost story. Ravi Shankar wrote at least one classic, featuring a busload of highly unusual passengers in war-ravaged Kashmir. In 1914, a Mr S Mukerji compiled a set of Indian ghost stories

The Ramsay family tried keeping the ‘horror’ flag flying. But most of their ‘horror’ films finally turned out to be romantic comedies – with a token presence of the ‘horror’ element.

The Indic spread

Other Indian themes have crossed languages, geographies, cultures – and spread all over the world. Witness the spread of Ramayana or how Sanskrit defined most languages of the world. After more than 1000 years of aggression, the Desert Bloc has only half the world as its adherents – though they have 80% of the world’s geography. The Indic belief systems still accounts for half the world’s population.

Why indeed does India have a scarcity of ‘monsters’. Even Indian asuras are not really monsters or devils! This columnist speculates that

perhaps something of the belief that ghost stories are for the masses, not for the purveyors of high literature, has rubbed off on to our authors. That, given India’s rich heritage of dakinis, betaals, nishibhoots and other things that go bump in the night, is a sad mistake.

To understand this better, let us look at the world’s most fertile ground for ‘monsters’ …

Medieval – Renaissance Europe

16th century Europe – specifically, Spain and Portugal. The last of the Moors had been driven out of Spain. The Christian standard was flying high. The Papal Bull divided the Earth (for the Europeans) between Spain and Portugal. White Christian rulers of Spain, Isabella and Ferdinand, set historic standards in persecution and extortion. More than a million Jews were killed, crucified, burnt alive; their properties confiscated and distributed. Columbus returned to enslave the American Natives – and subsequently, work them to death.

New chapters in bloodshed were being written by conquistadors like Vasco Nunez De Balboa, Francisco Pizarro, Juan Ponce de Leon, Hernando de Soto, Hernando Cortez, et al. Not to forget the search for El Dorado led by, “above all, that prince of monsters Lope de Aquirre, colour the pages with the darkest hues of bloody emprise.” In South American memory, Francisco de Carvajal, the “demon of the Andes” remains alive. These real-life monsters set new standards in brutality, slavery and genocide.

Europe in the sixteenth century was “obsessed with questions of language, and especially so in Spain and its recently conquered American Empire (emphasis mine). This was driven by

what Marshal McLuhan called “the hypertrophy of the unconscious,” a phenomenon he associated with periods of revolution in media technology: the advent of print in the 16th century created a great need for sensational materials to be broadcast, and this need caused ideas that formerly had been only lurking in the dark recesses of men’s minds to come floating to the surface.

One of the great bestsellers of the 16th century was the Histoires prodigieuses of Pierre Boaistuau (Paris, 1560), a sort of Renaissance Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not containing marvelous tales on everything … Seventeen of the Histoires forty tales are about monsters, a fact that may explain why the book was republished anywhere from ten to twenty two times and translated into Dutch, Spanish and English. (from Popular culture in the Middle Ages By Josie P. Campbell).

Spanish literature of the Renaissance

From this hotbed of ferment, a representative of this period was Calderon de la Barca (1600-1681), the Spanish writer. Growing up in a Spain, a 100 years after the Conquistadors, benefiting from the twin advantages of fresh memory and hindsight “a century of Janus, facing backward, towards the rise of the Spanish Empire … and forward, toward its decline.” His more than a 100 plays and writings represent 17th century Spain, significantly – and even Europe.

There is probably no word that is more characteristic of Calderon de la Barca’s art than monstruo, “monster.” Rare is the play in which the word does not appear several times … (from Celestina’s brood By Roberto González Echevarría).

Calderon’s play about Semiramis, the Assyrian Empire builder, showed her in a monster mode – her hybrid character the most masculine modes and the most feminine, a monster of destruction and creation”. And Calderon was not alone. The fertile growth of monsters gave birth to a new study – teratology, the study of monsters.

“Monster lore truly becomes “popular culture” only with the Renaissance … Fresh works on the subject of teratology are written by Italians, Germans, and Frenchmen. The foreruuner of the modern newspaper, the broadside were bought at street corners and at fairs by the barely literate masses. The great reformers Luther and Melanchthon used the broadside medium to popularize their propagandistic and anti-Catholic versions of two of the most famous monsters of the Renaissance, the Monk-calf of Freiburg and the Pope-ass of Rome. (from Popular culture in the Middle Ages By Josie P. Campbell).

Some of Calderon’s plays dealt with the proselytization of the Native Americans – like his play, La Aurora En Copacabana (Dawn in the Copacabana), described as a play about “the conquest and conversion of the Indians in Peru”

The success of the conquest, therefore, is attributed to (Christian) faith which is valued as mans greatest gift to the world … Thus (Christian) conquest becomes a form of colonisation with the purpose of imposing religion and culture on a land “que habitan inhumanos” (512) and is in need of redemption and education. Finally, the play tries to harmonise irreconcilable contradictions which lie at the bottom of colonial discourse. (texts in brackets and italics mine).

With this idea, must be seen something important. That is the important element of “the escape of the monster.” In the … Monster Theory, Joel Cohen has remarked that the monster always escapes. Now combine the three elements – the newly acquired colonies of America, the proselytization (or otheriwse, the genocide) and the escape of the monster. These were the ‘monsters’ of colonialism.

A very interesting play by Calderon was La vida es sueño (Life is a dream). It tells the story of Segismundo, the Prince Of Poland, who was destined to be a monster. To forestall the prophecy, Segismundo was imprisoned by his father from the time of his birth. In adulthood, released from prison to test the prediction, Segismundo fulfills the prophecy. As a analyst of Calderon’s work summarizes,

Affirming a “better reality,” Segismundo’s message speaks as well to all of Europe: the “new European man” is the real monster. (from The subject in question By C. Christopher Soufas).

200 years after Calderon, HG Wells, in the The Island of Doctor Moreau, foretold Joseph Menegle’s experiments rather well.

Onshore genocide – The Roma Gypsies

Apart from the Jewish persecution, less known is the the persecution of the Roma Gypsy, which continues till date. In Europe, kidnapping children was considered legal for most of 1500AD-1750AD. On one condition – you had to kidnap Roma Gypsy children! More than 25,000 children kidnapped. No problem. Everybody sleeps peacefully at night. Switzerland was doing this till 1973!

Roughly, between 1500 to 1750, it was legal in Europe to hunt human beings. Yes! Just like hunting for deer in India, or hunting buffalo in Africa or fox-hunting in Britain. Yes! You could hunt human beings. As long as the humans you hunted were Roma Gypsies. In Europe you could be hung to death if you committed the crime of being born – between 1500AD-1750AD! Born as a Roma Gypsy!

Europeans, in the their age of Enlightenment and Renaissance, (1500-1750) could just pick up human slaves – yes, own them like cattle and furniture, if you found one! As long as they were Roma Gypsies. Later you could also sell them for profit!

Ship owners and captains in Europe’s Golden age, (1500-1750) could arrange galley slaves for free. No wages, no salary. You just had to feed them. Use them, abuse them, flog them, kill them, drown them. You could do anything – as long as they were Roma Gypsies.

What set off the Roma Gypsy Genocide

In 1420, a 60 year old man, blind in one eye took charge – and took on the might of the Roman Church and Roman Emperors.

Jan Zizka.

Over the next 12 months, he became completely blind. In the next 15 years, Zizka (and other Czech generals) defeated, many times, the combined armies of Germany, The Roman Church and others. His military strategy was studied for the next 500 years. Thereafter, the myth of military might of the Church was broken forever.

Jan Zizka allied himself with the Taborites (the radical Hussite wing). Zizka made Tábor in Bohemia into an armored and mobile fortress – the Wagenburgs.

Interestingly, a 100 years after the Hussite Wars, the European persecution of the Roma Gypsies began in full earnest. And during WW2, the Vatican joined with the Nazi collaborators, the Ustashe,  to extort gold and the genocide against the Roma Gyspises.

Military success

Zizka ranks with the great military innovators of all time. Zizka’s army was made up of untrained peasants and burghers (townspeople). He did not have the time or resources to train these fighters in armament and tactics of the time. Instead they used weapons like iron-tipped pikes and flails, armored farm wagons, mounted with small, howitzer type cannons.

His armored wagons, led by the Taborites, in offensive movements, broke through the enemy lines, firing as they rolled, cutting superior forces into pieces. For defense, the wagons were arranged into a tight, impregnable barrier surrounding the foot soldiers – the Wagenburg (the wagon fort), as they came to be known. The wagons also served to transport his men. Zizka thus fully initiated modern tank warfare. Zizka’s experience under various commanders was useful. At the Battle of Tannenberg (1410), Zizka fought on the Polish side , in which the famed German Teutonic Knights were defeated.

Roma Gypsy Wagon Caravan

Roma Gypsy Wagon Caravan

Coming back …

Who were the major users of the wagons in Europe then (and now?) Answer – The Roma Gypsies.

Who were the people who could pose spiritual and ecclesiastical questions to the Vatican? Answer – The Gypsies, with their Indian heritage, were not not new to spiritual dialectics (contests, discourse and debates). For instance, Mani, and his adherents, an Indic teacher of Buddhist thought, known to Christians as Manichean thought, were the nightmare for Christianity till the 15th century. When Mani called for overthrow of slavery, the Vatican at the Council of Gangra, re-affirmed its faith in slavery. European minds were occupied with the questions raised by the Hussite reformers.

Some think they (the Waldensians) had held them for centuries; some think they had learned them recently from the Taborites. If scholars insist on this latter view, we are forced back on the further question: Where did the Taborites get their advanced opinions? If the Taborites taught the Waldenses, who taught the Taborites?

Who were the people who could help the persecuted Waldensians, the Bogomils, the Cathars to escape persecution and spread out across the Europe? Answer – The Roma Gypsies – in their wagons. The same Gypsies, had earlier pioneered the Troubadour culture in the Provence Region, which provoked the Albigensian Crusade by the Vatican.

Prokop Coat Of ArmsProkop Coat Of Arms

And who was the King of the Taborites? Answer – An entire clan of leaders who called themselves as Prokop (The Shaven /Bald; The Little and The Great) were the military leaders of the Taborites.

The word and name Prokop have no meaning in any European language – except in Sanskrit, where it means vengeance, retribution, violent justice.

Mythology as History

Jan Hus initiated the Reformation in the Vatican Church. It was Jan Zizka who broke the back of Papal authority. On the back of these Czech successes, was laid the foundation of 95 Theses by Martin Luther in 1517. The British break (1533-34) with the Holy Roman Church happened due to favors by the Papal office to the Iberian Empires – in matters of trade and colonial expansion, and the impediments to divorce of Henry-VIII at the behest of the Spanish rulers.

Today, the Germans and the British are loath to be reminded about the Czech Church Reform initiatives and the defeats at the hands of the Poles and Czechs. Western historiography about the Enlightenment and Renaissance, in Britain, France and Germany, leading to the reformation is ‘mythology as history’.

Of course, the role of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Byzantine Empire in the entire Czech saga is also worth re-examining. Were the Hussite Wars, a proxy war waged by the Eastern Church against the Vatican?

Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr.Hyde

In the 19th century came the monster story was dubbed as Gothic – and this form of story-telling matured as a craft.

A significant array of Gothic writers emerged from Ireland (from Charles Maturin, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde to the contemporary writer Patrick McGrath), in a colonial situation where a Protestant minority was the colonial occupier. (from Late Victorian Gothic tales By Roger Luckhurst)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797–1851), wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley started writing Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, at the age of 18, and completed it one year later. First published in London, anonymously, in 1818 by small London publishing house of Harding, Mavor & Jones – after previous rejections by bigger publishers like Charles Ollier (Percy Bysshe Shelley’s publisher), and John Murray (by Byron’s publisher). The writer’s name started appearing from the second edition of 1823 onwards. The interesting aspect, lost in popular usge, is that the monster is not named – and Frankenstein was the scientist, who brought the monster to life.

In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde was first published. This explored how ‘normal’ (Dr.Jekyll) human beings could become ‘evil’ (Mr.Hyde).

And in 1887, Bram Stoker, an Irish writer published his Dracula. The character of Dracula is based on Emperor Sigismund and his Order of the Dragon, who waged war against the Hussites – led by Jan Zizka. Infamous for his betrayal of Jan Hus, he sparked of the Hussite Wars, in which the Taborites (the Roma Gypsies) used wagons and gun powder for the first time in Europe. He founded a secret sect,  the “Dracul” called the Order of the Dragon.

Of course, these three are the most famous – but not the only ones. Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 “Carmilla“, about a lesbian vampire was another monster book of its time. An associate of Mary Shelley, John Polidori created the character of the “The Vampyre” in 1819 – on which possibly Dracula was based.

Most significantly, in 1896, was HG Well’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, which presaged Joseph Mengele – when Joseph Mengele had not even started on his higher education. A good 50 years before Joseph Mengele’s experiments were discovered by a shocked world.

The wellspring of these works is H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. In this 1896 novel, a vivisectionist attempts to transform animals into men until the misshapen creatures revert and kill him, the forces of nature overcoming man’s civilizing artifices. From The Boys From Brazil (Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele, alive and well and cloning Hitlers at a secret lab in the Brazilian Amazon) to Jurassic Park (Richard Attenborough alive and well and cloning velociraptors), Wells’ basic formula has become familiar: an island; a Frankensteinian experiment; a Faustian scientist; something gone terribly, terribly wrong. (from Requiem for the Mad Scientist

From the 1700-1800, while Spain was in decline, for about a 100 years, Western literary field did not see too much action on the monster front. The main action was in Haiti, where zombies, the ex-murderers, the living dead became a part of the voodoo cult.

The late Victorian era was one of the most expansive phases of the empire. Britain annexed some thirty-nine separate areas around the world between 1870-1900, in competition with newly aggressive America in the Pacific or the European powers in the so-called ‘Scramble for Africa’ after the continent was divided up at the Berlin conference of 1885. (from Late Victorian Gothic tales By Roger Luckhurst)

The last of the true great monster in popular culture came from the East. Soon after WW2, as tales of Japanese atrocities started coming out and as American atrocities in Vietnam started, Godzilla came out of Japan. But a different pressure head was building up, which gave rise to a new genre – detective fiction.

Euro-Pessimism

Between 1800-1950, Western powers killed (directly or otherwise) more than 50 million people in America (the Native Americans), Africa (the Native Africans), Asia (Indians, Chinese, Arabs). This led to a situation that every other person in the West had participated in murder or massacre – unlike the few Conquistadors. Western ambiguity towards Soviet Russia on one side, Hitler on the other was itself a concern. To that add, Gandhiji’s resolute opposition to colonialism and you have a inflammable moral situation.

The deluge of blood and murder caused moral anxiety and was a matter of ethical dilemma amongst common folks. The pressure valve for this was popular fiction. Identifying murderers became a form of proxy, vicarious entertainment for ordinary folks. Enter the super detectives, who pick out the murderer from a room full of ordinary people. Enter detectives like Auguste Dupin, of ‘The Purloined Letter‘ fame, who “investigates an apparently motiveless and unsolvable double murder in the Rue Morgue.”

Murder in Popular Image

The racist imagery in Tintin.

The 'racist' imagery in Tintin.

A trend started by Edgar Allan Poe, whose first detective novel, Murders In Rue Morgue (1841) soon became an avalanche. Writers like Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple solving murders happening by the second), Georges Simenon (and his Inspector Maigret investigating brutal crimes), Ngaio Marsh (Roderick Alleyn), GK Chesterton (Father Brown), Raymond Chandler (Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe) dealt with murder. Alfred Hitchcock made horror thrillers in similar themes.

In 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock series made its debut. Many of Conan Doyle’s characters came from the colonies. Many victims lived in isolated communities. Past (mis)deeds caught up. Crime, murder and malevolence hung in the air like thick smoke. Some of the stories addressed the colour prejudice. The status of England as a super-power was apparent. The intrigue and bloodshed in the India was palpable in stories like the The Sign of Four at the Pondicherry Lodge.

Tintin in Congo

Tintin in Congo

Agatha Christie’s book, filmed as Ten Little Indians, based on the book, initially released (the book) in Britain as Ten Little Niggers (later renamed as Then There None) gives the game away. Agatha Christie probably unconsciously verbalized the White desire to ensure that there should be none of the Red Indians left to tell the tale. The overt racism in Herge’s ‘Tintin in Congo’ made the world sit-up and note the pervasiveness of racism in detective fiction.

Media and academia

Jerome Delamater, Ruth Prigozy, in an essay compilation, ‘Theory and Practice of Classic Detective Fiction’, observe that Jane Marple, along with Hercule “Poirot becomes an equal opportunity detective who really believes that anyone might commit murder”. Dismissing the jaundiced view of human nature,” the writers of this book, while commenting about the detective fiction genre, do not mention slavery at all – and mention colonialism and racism once each.

One writer, Franco Moretti did half the job in book Signs Taken for Wonders: On the Sociology of Literary Forms By Franco Moretti. He writes,

“The perfect crime – the nightmare of detective fiction – is the feature-less, deindividualized crime that anyone could have committed because at this point everyone is the same.” He further writes,“Yet, if we turn to Agatha Christie, the situation is reversed.Her hundred-odd books have only one message: the criminal can be anyone …”

Detective FictionIn his entire book he does not use the words like slavery, racism, genocide, bigotry even once. The 19th century, which was based on Western bigotry, White racism, African slavery, and assorted genocides is unrecognised in Moretti’s books.

Running or hiding? Or it a case of feeling squeamish? Perhaps, a case of queasy stomach, Franco?

Another book, The Detective as Historian: History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction, by Ray Broadus Browne, Lawrence A. Kreiser does a better job. This book examines, the detective fiction genre, with some references to slavery and child prostitution.

How was this explained away

As the monsters increased, both in real life and literature, rationalizations were required. A person no less than Immanuel Kant, was pressed into service to deconstruct the ‘monster’, re-invent it and give it a positive spin.

The monster taken up by Kant in an aesthetic sense to refer to those things that exceed representation considers that the monstrous describes an entity whose life force is greater than the matter in which in which it is contained. Thus rather than something that malfunctions during the course of its production, monstrosity is associated during romanticism with “over-exuberant living matter” that extends itself beyond its natural borders in order to affect a much wider sphere. ((from The subject in question By C. Christopher Soufas).

In the twentieth century, Kant’s hypothesis finds an echo when Lord Randolph William Churchill, the ‘Bulldog’ declared

I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race has come in and taken their place. (from Minorities, peoples, and self-determination By Nazila Ghanea-Hercock, Nazila Ghanea, Alexandra Xanthaki, Patrick Thornberry)

In another instance, Churchill wrote how superior’ Arabs, imposed on the ‘inferior’ negroes.

The stronger race imposed its customs and language on the negroes. The vigour of their blood sensibly altered the facial appearance … (from The River War By Winston Churchill).

The Mystery of the Dying Detective

After de-colonisation, as mass murder went underground, the detective-murder mystery books genre faded. This category was replaced by a new theme – the axis of Corporation-Government-International Conspiracy.

The new category of popular fiction are represented by Ian Fleming, Arthur Hailey, Frederick Forsyth, Irving Wallace, Robert Ludlum, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, et al. More and more contrived, each conspiracy theory writer has been ‘inspired’ by real life incidents.

While Ludlum’s international-conspiracy-plot-CIA-FBI-KGB series have worn thin, the spookiness of Le Carre’s Absolute Friends and Constant Gardner still work as novels representing the West.

Western Twins – Anxiety and Paranoia

To develop this understanding further, there are two classes of films that I wish to draw attention to.

Malignant Nature

Jaws (the shark that eats humans), Jurassic Park (mad scientists, conspiring technicians let loose man eating dinos) Gremlins and Poltergiest (things that go bump in the night). This paranoid fear of nature (and natural laws) seems to be a result of the subterranean knowledge of the way in which ecological damage and pollution is happening. These films produced /directed by Steven Spielberg (who is incomparable because as Time Magazine says, “No one else has put together a more popular body of work”)

Illegal AliensVindictive Humans

The other is the thinly disguised hate and prejudice films against the poor and the victimised. ‘Aliens’ needs just one small change for the films idea to become clear. Instead of LV-426, Nostromo the space ship, receives a distress call from some country in South America or Africa (or India, if you prefer). The meaning is clear when you see the movie while conscious of the fact that alien is is the word the US Government uses for people from other countries.

As for the Indian churails

Coming to India, a writer notes how

Francesca Orsini identifies the detective  novel as one of the genres that ‘was brought into India ‘ready-made’ without the intellectual and historical substratus that had generated it in Europe’ This total lack of any indigenous roots, one could argue, makes detective  fiction a colonial imposition, and its adoption by Indian writers, clearly a case of copy-cat reproduction wherein ‘black-pens’ write ‘white-texts’ that have no identity of their own. (from Postcolonial postmortems – crime fiction from a transcultural perspective By Christine Matzke, Susanne Muehleisen, page 88).

How very true!

Ms.Christine and Susanne, you have hit the nail right in the centre of head! Your aim is truer than you imagine. Whatta shot! Though I dont know if you have hit the nail deep enough – deep into the heart of the darkness, which gave rise to these genres of Western ‘literature’.

The Indian churail (or pisach or djinni) faces similar problems as the Scandinavian myling or the Er Gui of China: they don’t translate well outside of their culture.

India may have had local incidents, where an oppressive zamindar may have created a market for horror stories and monsters – but without genocide, slavery and massacres to fall back on, popular imagination simply does not have the fodder to create ghouls and monsters.

And that is reason for Indian churails being rare – not lack of literary ability in Indians.

Military success

Zizka ranks with the great military innovators of all time. Zizka’s army was made up of untrained peasants and burghers (townspeople). He did not have the time or resources to train these fighters in armament and tactics of the time. Instead they used weapons like iron-tipped pikes and flails, armored farm wagons, mounted with small, howitzer type cannons.

His armored wagons, led by the Taborites, in offensive movements, broke through the enemy lines, firing as they rolled, cutting superior forces into pieces. For defense, the wagons were arranged into a tight, impregnable barrier surrounding the foot soldiers – the Wagenburg (the wagon fort), as they came to be known. The wagons also served to transport his men. Zizka thus fully initiated modern tank warfare. Zizka’s experience under various commanders was useful. At the battle of Tannenberg (1410), Zizka fought on the Polish side , in which the famed German Teutonic Knights were defeated.

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Modi fails the Kalinga test – The Economic Times

April 20, 2009 9 comments

Nothing in our modern democracy, nor anything in our political culture that is over two millennia old, permits the ascendance of a ruler who lacks compassion for the people. In our myths, our history and our practice as citizens of a free and democratic country, there is no warrant for the exercise of unbridled power, or for a leader who fails the Kalinga test. (via Modi fails the Kalinga test- Opinion-The Economic Times).

Ananya Vajpeyi, teaches at the University of Massachusets, Boston. A ‘concerned’ NRI, she is cautioning her unlettered and unsophisticated‘desi brethren’ about the dangers of electing Narendra Modi. The basis of her fears – a highly critical (of Narendra Modi) article in a US magazine The Atlantic, by a influential journalist, Robert D Kaplan (extracted and linked above).

First and foremost, फ़िकर Not! Ananya. The Indian Voter knows what he is doing.

Secondly, and sadly, the hatchet job done by Robert Kaplan suffers from many infirmities – none of which you point out. What Robert Kaplan has done is use Narendra Modi as a human shield to attack India – secure in the belief that ‘no one will dare defend Narendra Modi’.

One – ‘Free’ India made bad and the wrong choices

Look at Kaplan’s statement on India’s post colonial choices “to protect the poor against the ravages of capitalism, which benefits only the majority rather than everyone”

Same difference ...
Same difference …

No one, but no one, in their right minds, (Kaplan excepting) will ever state that Capitalism ‘benefits only the majority’. Capitalism benefited a small minority, who were allowed to concentrate and control the means of production – and enrich themselves; usually through Corporations.

The quid pro quo is that the capitalists will in turn advance the agenda of the ‘rulers’. E.g. The English East India Company. American Socialists may differentiate themselves by calling themselves as Capitalists,  may offer anecdotal evidence of a ‘trickle down effect’ – better than the Eastern European Socialists, but it can hardly be called a benefiting the majority.

Also, India could never have chosen capitalism – as that would have required vast numbers of slaves. Capitalism, which died out in 19th century, as we all know, was built on the pillars of ‘on-shore’ slavery and colonialism. Kaplan either forgets (unlikely) or does not know (surprising) that India has never used slaves – in the last 5000 years of history.

All countries are socialists today ...
All countries are socialists today …

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.

Kaplan conveniently forgets that economists like JK Gailbraith, 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.

Two -India is a paradox, cannot survive

Kaplan’s ‘deadly ethnic and religious tensions’ bit is again a case of selective amnesia. Would he like to trace the role of US and its client, named Pakistan, in the religious tensions that India manages today? Would he like to account for the US$ 3 billion that Indian NGOs receive each year – mostly from the West. These NGOs mostly, are a cover for proselytization or worse still, some of them are fronts for subverting or influencing Indian public agenda.

French youths face Paris riot police in Clichy-sous-Bois - Oct. 29, 07

French youths face Paris riot police in Clichy-sous-Bois - Oct. 29, '07

Or would he like to posit the fact that the West today has the lowest levels of ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity – and persecutes whatever little is left, like the Roma Gypsies for example. Would he like to mention any other country where such a large minority Muslim population, has greater freedom and opportunity, than in India? Would you like to suggest France instead?

India manages the aspirations of nearly 17 crore Muslims – which is equal to half the population of the entire US of A. Get a minority population of that size, and then Mr.Kaplan, we will talk about the Gujarat riots.

In case you don’t remember, a simple marker for persecution Kaplanbhai, is decline in populations. Has the Muslim population in India declined? Like the Native American population has or the post-bellum African-American population has declined (in comparison to the ante-bellum)? Or the Jewish and and Roma Gypsy populations has (ignoring the limited population recovery of Roma Gypsies in post WW2 West). Or the reduction due to genocide of the poor Congolese by the Belgian emperor.

Did you see such magazine covers in India, Mr.Kaplan?

Did you see such magazine covers in India, Mr.Kaplan?

Post colonial census started with a Indian Muslim population of about 11.2% – which has now crossed 15%. Is that persecution, Mr.Kaplan? Is the ‘perceived’ Muslim backwardness (as defined by the Sachar Committee report) an effect of Indian public policy or are social choices made by Indian Muslims, the cause?

All the “social homogenization that globalization engenders” I have seen in India is how Western culture and content (TV shows, Hollywood, etc.) continues to remain a flop show!

I have no clue where Kaplan gets his data or opinions from?

Three -The argumentative Indian

The Kalinga effect.

I always thought Ashoka’s change in heart was a universal lesson – especially for the war-mongering Desert Bloc killlers – like George Bush! Modi looked away while some (estimated) 2000 Muslims were killed in riots. George Bush was looking, everyday, at more people getting killed in Afghanistan and Iraq (20 lakhs (2 million) at last count) than in Gujarat. What about the various US Governors who looked away as more than 2000 killed in riots at Queens, Bronx and Haarlem?

Is it that only Indians (especially Hindus) are supposed to be moral, Bhai Kaplan? King Ashoka is a lesson in history for all war mongers – and not Indians alone, Mr.Kaplan! Is it that Indians will be always be held to higher standards – while the West (and the Desert Bloc in general) can keep getting away with murder, genocide and massacres?

Four -Kaplan ko kyon gussa aata hai or (If only Narendra Modi would apologize) …

Kaplanbhai has a brilliant idea for Indians!

He is suggesting we let Mr.Modi get away with the Gujarat riots, if he says sorry! By making a proforma apology!

Worry about the West, Kaplanbhai!

Worry about the West, Kaplanbhai!

Like the many false apologies, made or not made, after the genocide of Jews, Native Americans, or the Roma Gypsies or the Australian aborigines, and then get on with life. Ananya, you should know Indians better than Kaplan.

A common derisive Indian response to apologies is अँगरेज़ तो चले गए लेकिन, येह सॉरी शब्द यहीं छोड़ गए (the English have left, but they have left behind this word sorry). Indians will accept a change – complete and total change in behaviour! Satori! The flash! Indians will give a second chance to even criminals and robbers – without an apology!!

But empty apologies? Bad idea! Like Valmiki (the writer of Ramayana) did not apologize – but, instead he reformed! Or the many dacoits (Phoolan Devi et al) in the recent past, who were elected to the Indian Parliament.

Five -Kaplan in knots

Kaplan’s finds “migrants … Muslim, from throughout India have been streaming into Gujarat” and Kaplan also “encountered … alienation from India, evidenced by their withdrawal into their own communities …”

Two comments spaced a few paragraphs apart, and the contradictions become clear. If he cannot understand this anecdotal  ‘inconsistency’ he should either flag it or exclude it. What he is doing, is hiding it!

Six -The best of the trash

Obama and Modi comparison! Now that is interesting!

This is the only bit I liked in that entire article. Leaving his (one-legged, Godhra riots based) commentary aside, I would like to see a second Black person become a President of the USA. Just like there never has been a Catholic President, ever – except once, who was murdered!

Obama is tokenism.

In the last 60  years, in 15 US elections, only one bald US president has been elected – and only 5 bald presidents in the 233 years of Republican US. Seemingly, the US Voter and political system selects people with a headful of hair! And we are not even started on a woman president or a Muslim President! Worry about the prejudices and biases of the American Voter, Mr.Kaplan. India has had numerous Muslims in important positions – Supreme Chief justices,  Presidents (two of them, at last count), many Central Government Ministers!

It has taken nearly 60 years for Narendra Modi’s ‘right-wing’ Indian, ‘Hindu fundamentalist’ party to come to power – and lose it. They have been given opportunities at the states – and been suitably rewarded and punished – based on performance. The Indian Voter has voted the ‘Communists’ and the ‘Fascists’, fundamentalists and liberals, of all shades and colors – in and out of power. Indian Voters are smart enough and know what is good for them.

It is the American Voter, who is the concern, Ananya!

Seven -India – defeated and divided

Kaplan takes a misguided statement of a misinformed (by propaganda as education) Indian, Vijay Chauthaiwale, a molecular biologist that “They (the Muslim) conquered … we lost. The British conquered. We lost. We were a defeated society. We needed to come together as Hindus.” This is so juicy and tempting!

Would Kaplan take the word of an American molecular biologist on history as close-to-truth. If he did, The Atlantic, would throw him out faster than he can spell history.

Is this propaganda or opinion? History, it ain’t, Mr.Kaplan!!

Let us go to the ancient world.

The expansion of the Eyptian Slave Empire, led by their Pharoah Thutmose III,  was stopped at the Battle of Megiddo (1468 BC) – by an Indo-Aryan alliance of Mittanis, Amurrus and Cannanaites. It is the Battle of Megiddo, from which the Biblical Armageddon is derived, meaning, ‘mount of Megiddo’. The alliance led by “king of Kadesh with the support of troops and money from the Mitanni, the great power to the north,” was able to take on the might of the Egytian armies under Pharaoh Thutmose III.

Or the three important battles of the ancient world. Ramesis-II at the Battle of Kadesh!! Semiramis, whose Assyrian Empire, was finally dissolved after WW1, tasted a horrific defeat in her Indian campaign. The resounding defeat of Cyrus The Great at the hands of the Indo-Scythian alliance is rarely recounted in modern history.

More recently, Alexander’s retreat from India (which Kaplan also refers to, in his subsequent post) is too well known for me to repeat. The death of Crassus at the hands of Indo-Parthian General Suren is too grisly for Western tastes – and usually covered up, delicately. As is the defeat of Justinian’s Roman armies, at the Persian borders at the hands of Indo-Persian elephant army is not usually mentioned either.

The first foreign-Islamic ruler in Delhi, Qutubuddin Aibak, was in 1206 by which time large parts of Europe were already under Islamic rule for more than 400 years, from 8th century itself. Within 200 years, by 1400, the Ashvakans (these days known as Afghans) Lodhis and the Moghuls re-took New Delhi from the Khiljis – which ended foreign rule in India. Many Indians are still victims of colonial propaganda – which shows India as  ‘defeated society’. Kaplan is either a (unlikely) victim of this propaganda or a (most probable) part of the problem? Either way, bad job!

And you Ananya, should know better.

Eight -Small things that actually mean big things

He comments on how Narendra Modi wore “traditional paijama pants and a long, elegant brown kurta—ironically, the traditional dress of India imported by the Mughals.”

I got bad news again for you, Mr.Kaplan.

India is the only culture in the world to have unisex clothing. The plainsmen and women wore the 5-yard dhoti and saree – and the hills people wore the tubular top and leggings.  And this is one of the many things that Alexander’s armies learnt in India. Macedonian national dress is the salavaria!

Nine-Where would India be without the British Raj

Kaplan can’t resist crediting the British! His desperation to credit “The British, by contrast, brought tangible development, ports and railways, that created the basis for a modern state. … the British, despite all their flaws, advanced an ideal of Indian greatness”.

His Masters Anticipation - Uncivilized Indians fighting with each other like animals

His Master's Anticipation - 'Uncivilized Indians fighting with each other like animals

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

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

Britain today, a shell of its former self – with its manufacturing hollowed out, its agriculture in shambles, its economy on the verge of being relegated to the Third World is a huge descent. Much like Spain after Haiti.

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

The Masters Glee 2 - Rubbing their colonial hands in anticipation

The Master's Glee 2 - Rubbing their colonial hands in anticipation

India has in the meantime, led by ‘men of straw’, has moved from being a ‘ship-to-mouth’ basket-case, to a significant economic and political success. Yet, the British colonial administrators needed to prove that only they could rule over India. Indians were after all ‘men of straw … of whom no trace will be found after a few years’. And they were led byhalf naked fakir‘. If Britain was indeed so good at its job, why can’t they do anything to save themselves from this terminal decline.

For all this, we owe a debt of gratitude to the British, Mr.Kaplan? Can you make up a better story please, next time!

Next time, Ananya

I could have easily made it ten or even a dozen falsities by Robert Kaplan – but does he deserve so much attention or time, Ananya? Will you rise to any two-bit of writing that denigrates India – using Narendra Modi (or someone else next time) as a human shield?

Are you Ananya, suggesting that international opinion should decide who the Indian Voter will elect?

Akamai State Of Internet report

Akamai Releases Fourth Quarterly “State of the Internet

— India ranked #17 globally in terms of attack traffic, with 1.16% of observed attack traffic

During the fourth quarter of 2008, Akamai observed attack traffic originating from 193 unique countries around the world, up nearly 8% from the third quarter count of 179 countries. In the fourth quarter, the United States moved into first place for the first time in 2008, after placing second to either China or Japan throughout the year. Throughout 2008, the United States, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan were consistently among the top 10 countries that generated the highest percentages of attack traffic. (via Zee News).

High Crime rates and USA

With a population of 30 crores (300 million), the US has a criminal population of 70 lakhs (7 million) – behind bars, on probation or on parole. US Government estimates a figure of 20 lakhs (2 million) people serving prison sentences.

What is behind such high levels of crime and prison population in the US?

Contrast that with India …

The current status of Indian criminal system is a study in contrast. With a population of 110 crores (1100 million) India, has a prison population of 2 lakhs (0.2 million). The Indian National Human Rights Commission gives a figure of 3.5 lakhs as the prison population – including convicts and those who are undergoing trial. The UK Home Office survey of World Prison Population estimates Indian prison population at 2.5 lakhs.

With less than 25 people per 100,000 in prison, India has the world’s lowest imprisonment rate. Cynics may snigger at India’s ‘inefficient’ police or the slow court procedures as the cause for this low prison population. That can only mean criminals are at large and India must, therefore have the highest crime rate – which is not true.

Based on category, India has low or average crime rates. All the 5 indices (below) create a bias for lawlessness and rampant crime, in Indian society. With these five indices, namely: –

  1. Police to population ratio (increase police force).
  2. Prison population (put more criminals behind bars)
  3. Capital punishment (kill enough criminals to instill fear)
  4. Poverty (it is poverty which the root of all crime)
  5. Gun ownership (more guns means more crime)

against a stable social system, how does India manage low-to-average crime rates.

How can India have such a low prison population, with a poor police-to-population ratio and a crime rate which is not above the average – in spite of a large civilian gun population.

History …

The answer goes back 4000 years back in history – to Lipit Ishtar, Hittite laws, Hammurabi et al. More than 2000 years ago, Megasthenes a Greek traveller to India wrote,

Theft is of very rare occurrence. Megasthenes says that those who were in the camp of Sandrakottos, wherein lay 400,000 men, found that the thefts reported on any one day did not exceed the value of two hundred drachmae, and this among a people who have no written laws

Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ ‘shubh labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, or the West, which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade. In modern times, though a power in computing industry, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virus.

Naked short sales hint fraud in bringing down Lehman

The biggest bankruptcy in history might have been avoided if Wall Street had been prevented from practicing one of its darkest arts.

As Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc struggled to survive last year, as many as 32.8 million shares in the company were sold and not delivered to buyers on time as of September 11, according to data compiled by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bloomberg. That was a more than 57-fold increase over the prior year’s peak of 567,518 failed trades on July 30.

The SEC has linked such so-called fails-to-deliver to naked short selling, a strategy that can be used to manipulate markets. A fail-to-deliver is a trade that doesn’t settle within three days.

“We had another word for this in Brooklyn,” said Harvey Pitt, a former SEC chairman. “The word was ‘fraud.’” (via Naked short sales hint fraud in bringing down Lehman).

This is very similar to Joseph Kennedy’s shorting the market before The Great Depression. It has always been a wonder to me how could Joseph Kennedy, a bootlegger and a friend of the mafiosi could become SEC Chairman? And after that did happen, would a Great Depression not follow?

It was always 2ndlook’s suspicion that Hank Paulson’s behaviour in the Lehman collapse is similar to Bootlegger Kennedy’s behaviour. And this now coming out all in the open!!

U.N says world should ditch dollar – International Business Times

Multiple currency options

Multiple currency options

Currency specialist Avinash Persaud, a member of the panel of experts, told a Reuters Funds Summit in Luxembourg that the proposal was to create something like the old Ecu, or European currency unit, that was a hard-traded, weighted basket.

Persaud, chairman of consultants Intelligence Capital and a former currency chief at JPMorgan, said the recommendation would be one of a number delivered to the United Nations on March 25 by the U.N. Commission of Experts on International Financial Reform.

“It is a good moment to move to a shared reserve currency,” he said. (via U.N says world should ditch dollar – International Business Times).

What Has Been India Upto?

While the US has been resisting calls for action, busy doing post-mortem, Asia and Europe have been moving. Interestingly, Manmohan Singh has done some huge work in a crucial 60 days – the nuclear deal with the USA and NSG, the IBSA Summit, the ASEAN free trade agreement and his three Asian nation visits. India’s Trade and Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, has been talking about a multi-lateral set up. The UN was made to issue a statement on this. Am I reading too much into this? At times, India has seemed clueless.

Avinash Persaud, ex-JP Morgan, at the UN panel of specialists was a master stroke. Mainline media has ignored this development.The 2ndlook proposal, on November 8th, 2008, for the Third Global Reserve Currency, named BRIX, based on first appearances, has a superstrate layer over the UN panel’s proposal.

Though, I do wonder what the ex-IMF expert is doing? Will India take a leadership role?

Bush-doctoring?

Bush-doctoring?

What is the G20 upto

All G20 members were ‘invited’ to join another Western Club – the FSF. The Financial Stability Forum, another club, with the same G7 members. Just why does India join these rubber stamp bodies – and lend sanctity to the exploitative agenda of the sponsors. Does the world need another body, with the same Central Bank members, addressing the same monetary issues problems, with the same agenda?

At the sunset city of London, venue of the next G20 conference, Working Group 1, set up to suggest ways to enhance sound regulation and strengthen transparency, with a brief to

“monitor implementation of actions already identified … make further recommendations to strengthen international standards in the areas of accounting and disclosure, prudential oversight and risk management … develop policy recommendations to dampen cyclical forces in the financial system and to address issues around the scope and consistency of regulatory regimes.

Co-chaired by Rakesh Mohan, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and Tiff Macklem, Associate Deputy Minister, Canadian Ministry of Finance have readied their initial report – on predictable lines – as per the expected time lines.

Wishful thinking breaks against a brick wall of reality

Sooner rather than later, brothers!

Consistent with 2ndlook’s opinion, the Chinese and Russians have been found wanting. Niether have they the respect of the G7, which they so cravenly desire and dont get – and dont value the support and standing that they have in the Third World. Russia has a fond belief that they can float a new currency bloc – with the help of China.

The Russian industrial and corporate systems are on the verge of bankrupty. Russian industry with huge debts payable to Western banks in the next 12 months, have been unable to obtain refinancing of these debts. Russian foreign exchange reserves are down from nearly US$400 billion to US$275 billion.

The Chinese have been reduced to praying for a G20 success – so that their super-prime customer the US starts buying again. Never mind if the US does not pay their purchases. Russia has been threatening to launch a new Third Currency in collaboration with China. In the meantimes, ASEAN has created a emergency fund – like an Asian IMF.

Best of luck, Brother Putin & Tao.

Does this crisis affect the poor at all?

Does this crisis affect the poor at all?

The most dangerous of them all …

One supra-national currency. That seems like one bad dream. One global currency seems like the ultimate conspiracy theorist. Some 5000-10,000 people will control our lives. Of course, such ideas are injected into the discourse from countries like Russia.

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