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Posts Tagged ‘British Raj’

‘British Raj was not a vampire empire’

October 1, 2011 5 comments

India must be bled, it must be done judiciously. The lancet should be directed to those parts where the blood is congested, or, at least, sufficient, not to those already feeble for the want of it. (Lord Salisbury – Secretary of State for India – 1866-1867; 1874-1878; Foreign Secretary – 1878-1880; Prime Minister – 1885, 1886 – 92, 1895 – 1902).

Hastings, unlike Clive, offered no personal defence. Instead he portrayed himself and the British Raj as the Saviour Of India. (Original by James Gillray titled 'The Political Banditti Assailing the Saviour of India', published by W. Holland in 1786 or 1788. Warren Hastings was attacked by Edmund Burke, Lord North, and Fox, in the House of Commons. See 1851 water color version from Bohn Collection at  http://goo.gl/a90mq). Click for larger image.

Warren Hastings, when attacked by Edmund Burke, Lord North, and Fox, in the House of Commons for corruption, unlike Clive, offered no personal defence. Instead he portrayed himself and the British Raj as the Saviour Of India. (Original by James Gillray titled 'The Political Banditti Assailing the Saviour of India', published by W. Holland in 1786 or 1788. Image source and courtesy - shijieminghua.com. See 1851 water color version from Bohn Collection at http://goo.gl/a90mq). Click for larger image.

Historians today, many in India too, promote  the myth that the British Empire

bore no resemblance to the ‘vampire empire’ created by King Leopold of the Belgians in the Congo, which was responsible for perhaps 10 million deaths, let alone to the genocidal Nazi empire or to Japan’s vicious and corrupt Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Imperium et Libertas was a contradiction in terms. What it meant in a Roman mouth, as Gladstone said, was ‘Liberty for ourselves, Empire over the rest of mankind.’

Lord Salisbury (Marquess of Salisbury – then Secretary of State for India) himself exposed the truth. ‘If our ancestors had cared for the rights of other people,’ he observed, ‘the British Empire would not have been made.’ Its purpose was not to spread sweetness and light but to increase Britain’s wealth and power. Naturally its coercive and exploitative nature must be disguised. Bamboozle was better than bamboo, he considered, and ‘as India must be bled, the bleeding should be done judiciously.’
Actually, from the time that Britain had begun to transform its commercial dominance into political ascendancy, India was bled white. During the 1760s Bengal was so squeezed that the province, which the Mughals had called ‘the paradise of earth’, became an abyss of torment. It was ravaged by war, pestilence and famine. A third of the population died of hunger, some driven to cannibalism. Although relief efforts were made, British ‘bullies, cheats and swindlers’ continued to prey on the carcass of Bengal and some profiteered in hoarded grain. Meanwhile Indian revenues (which amounted to perhaps a billion pounds sterling between Plassey in 1757 and Waterloo in 1815) spelled the redemption of Britain, according to the Earl of Chatham. They were ‘a kind of gift from heaven’.

The history of the Raj was punctuated by further famines, which caused tens of millions of deaths. These were not, as Mike Davis claims, colonial ‘holocausts’. But the British failed lamentably in India, as they did in Ireland, in their duty of care. Condemning ‘humanitarian hysterics’ during the worst Victorian famine, Lord Lytton said that the stoppage of his 1876 durbar ‘would be more disastrous to the permanent interests of the Empire than twenty famines’. Despite pleas from the Secretary of State for India Leo Amery during the terrible 1943-44 Bengal famine, Churchill refused to divert scarce shipping to Calcutta. He thought that ‘the starvation of anyway underfed Bengalis’ was less serious than that of sturdy Greeks, particularly as Indians would go on breeding ‘like rabbits’.

After the Indian Mutiny soldiers such as Garnet Wolseley did much to fulfil their vow to spill ‘barrels and barrels of the filth which flows in these niggers’ veins for every drop of blood’ they had shed. During the South African War the British allowed a sixth of the Boer population, mostly children, to die in concentration camps.

British Empire was not only on “slave trade and the indentured labour traffic; cases of acquisitive aggression such the opium wars and the rape of Matabeleland; acts of vandalism such as the burning of the Emperor’s Summer Palace in Beijing and the destruction of the Mahdi’s tomb at Omdurman; squalid fiascos such as the Jameson Raid and the Suez invasion; crimes such as the use of dum-dum bullets and poison gas against ‘uncivilized tribes’ (Churchill’s phrase); massacres such as occurred at Amritsar in 1919, Batang Kali in Malaya in 1948 (the ‘British My Lai’) and Hola Camp in Kenya (1959).”

Piers Brendon does finally fall back on the usual thugee and suttee to justify British rule. And that is where Britain failed the most.

(Cheyte Sing rendering Homage to Warren Hastings. Illustration from The People's History of England; Cassell Petter & Galpin, c 1890). Click for larger image.

(Cheyte Sing rendering Homage to Warren Hastings. Illustration from The People's History of England; Cassell Petter & Galpin, c 1890). Click for larger image.

The truth behind Thugee

As though India was being overrun by thugs – and every traveller’s life was at risk. Defenceless Indian’s were waiting helplessly, for a saviour. And then the British anti-thugee campaign saved India.

As if Indians had no productive enterprise to engage in, thugee was the only option, for ‘backward’ Indians.

Till the British shone their bright light on us Indians. If Indians were busy with thugee, who was earning money that the thugs were looting? India could not have been the world’s largest economy, if India was Thug Nation.

After decades of loot-and-ravage, when it was suggested that the Indian economy was fragile, Lord Irwin responded,

It was surely unreasonable, to suggest that a country which had an enormous stock of gold and silver, and which was still drawing them in considerable quantities from the rest of the world, was so weak

Figures talk

If yes, why did the ‘Thuggee and Dacoity Department’ with William Sleeman as Superintendent in 1835, could capture no more than 3,000 highway robbers – of which only 400 were executed. Based mostly on the ‘identification’ by a few ‘hand-picked’ witnesses – from a bank of nearly 500 ‘approvers.’ In nearly a decade! In a population of possibly 25 crores.3,000 ‘thugs’ in a nation of 25 crores? Assuming that all the 3,000 accused ‘thugs’, were ‘guilty’, going by modern imprisonment standards, it remains low.

For instance, in modern Britain, there are nearly 17,000 prisoners for violent crime, in a population of little over, 6 crores (60 million). 3 people per thousand in Britain are criminally violent and in prison.

Were ‘thugs’ a bigger proportion of violent criminals in India. Going by modern British ‘norm’ of 3 per thousand, criminally violent Indians should have been close to 75,000 criminals. Just 3,000 ‘thugs’ out of the possible 75,000 criminally violent Indians?

In a population of an estimated 25 crores.

Some of the most infamous, like Behram was attributed to have committed more than 900 murders – for which he never faced any trial, for murders he confessed to, even after being captured. Most of these thugs were actually rebel peasants who were waging a war against the dispossession of the lands – like the Santhals, Bhils, Gujjars, etc.

Facts speak

Fact is India was not a criminal society then – and not one today.. India today has the world’s lowest police-to-population ratio – and the lowest prisoners-to-population ratio.


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?

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, .

The British Salt Tax. How Damaging?

July 29, 2011 3 comments

British taxes on salt made common table salt into a high-expensive commodity; created shortages which killed millions.

Gandhiji Dandi Salt March (March 12 - April 6, 1930) channeled seething rage on the salt tax into a frenzy. Click for larger image.

Gandhiji Dandi Salt March (March 12 – April 6, 1930) channeled seething rage on the salt tax into a frenzy. Click for larger image.

In 1770 famine hit Bengal. The land revenue had only been sporadically collected by the Mughals, especially in times of difficulty. After the Company took over the Diwani it was fully and ruthlessly collected. In 1969 the crop was poor. In 1770, after six months without rain, the crop almost totally failed. There has never been a failure of crops all over India. Local shortages can always be rectified if there is money to buy in grain. However, following the looting of Bengal by the Company and its employees, money was extremely scarce. The Company had no mercy; it took its dues in full. As people began to die, the amount of land revenue due from the survivors increased. It was so fiercely collected that many had to sell their seed corn. Out of the millions they collected, the Company gave back 90,000 rupees in famine relief — 90,000 rupees for 30,000,000 people.

Meanwhile the Company’s employees and their agents cornered the rice market. They bought up rice in those areas where the crop had not failed, warehoused it under armed guard, and sold to those with the most money. The price of a maund (82 pounds) of rice rose from about 0.4 to 13 rupees. The wealthier Indians exchanged their savings and jewellery for food. The peasants and labourers, who only earned 1 or, at most, 2 rupees a month, perished. Between one-third and one-half of the entire population — at least ten million people — died. The Salt Tax was, of course, still collected by the Company in full on the salt that was consumed. However, many could not afford to buy salt. In any case, the supply of salt was severely disrupted by the death of so many salt workers, bullock cart drivers and boatmen. …

The size of an average family was another point of contention. However, at the lower end of the scale, it is reasonable to assume that a small family, of two adults and three children, needed at least half a maund of salt, 41 pounds a year. Half a maund of salt, in 1788, retailed for 2 rupees or more — two months’ income for many families. The situation continued for many years and agrees with the evidence given to a Parliamentary Select Committee of 1836 by Dr. John Crawfurd of the Bengal Medical Service: ‘I estimate that the cost of salt to the rural labourer, i.e., to the great mass of the people of Bengal, for a family, as being equal to about two months’ wages, i.e., 1/6th of the whole annual earnings.’

(via The Salt Tax – Excerpted from The Great Hedge of India by Roy Moxham, Harper Collins, India 2001).

By the time Gandhiji picked up this peice of salt from the sea-shore, hundreds of thousands had died due to salt-starvation. Click for larger image.

By the time Gandhiji picked up this peice of salt from the sea-shore, hundreds of thousands had died due to salt-starvation. Click for larger image.

The Salt Famine

One more chapter in famines created by British misrule in India.
Roy Moxham’s book traces how extortionate taxes by the British Raj created virtually a salt famine – which also killed hundreds of millions. In today’s world, where salt has become common, easily available and cheap, it is not easily understood how salt imbalances killed many Indians.

The British Raj created a price regime where Indians could not afford to eat salt.

How Tax was Levied

Interestingly, Roy Moxham’s book details how the British tried for 10 years to create a thorny hedge, to prevent smuggling of cheaper salt from bordering kingdoms ruled by Indian kings. Rarely mentioned in history, it was referred to as the The Great Hedge of India or Inland Customs Line.

A customs line was established, which stretched across the whole of India, which in 1869 extended from the Indus to the Mahanadi in Madras, a distance of 2,300 miles; and it was guarded by nearly 12,000 men and petty officers…it consisted principally of an immense impenetrable hedge of thorny trees and bushes, supplemented by stone wall and ditches, across which no human being or beast of burden or vehicle could pass without being subject to detention or search. (Strachey and Strachey 1882, 219-20).

Gandhiji at the Dandi , Gujarat Salt March. Surrounded by adoring crowds, the end of the British Raj came in sight. (Image source - Associated Press File; Courtesy - pressherald.com ).

Gandhiji at the Dandi , Gujarat Salt March. Surrounded by adoring crowds, the end of the British Raj came in sight. (Image source – Associated Press File; Courtesy – pressherald.com ).

Birth of corruption

The Customs Line soon became a Corruption Line. Many small little Clive’s sprouted wings and extorted money for salt and other commodities. This corruption persisted, in a perverse way even encouraged by the Raj, in the other laws – in the money lending regulations, excise, customs, octroi – at every tax point.

Even as India was on the verge of independence from the British Raj, in September 1946, Nehru reminded his party of the “the colossal corruption and nepotism that are rampant everywhere.” In late 1945, Nehru said “Corrupt people have to be swept away by a broomstick,” while campaigning for Congress Party.

But much before this, way back in 1928, then a much-less famous man, wrote

Corruption will be out one day, however much one may try to conceal it; and the public can, as its right and duty, in every case of justifiable suspicion, call its servants to strict account, dismiss them, sue them in a law court or appoint an arbitrator or inspector to scrutinise their conduct, as it likes. – Mahatma Gandhi in Young India (1928).

Sarojini Naidu carried forward Dandi Salt March to the Dharsana Salt Works, Gujarat, in May 1930, which was covered by the international press in chilling detail. End of British Raj and the Salt Tax is close to end.  Click for larger image.

Sarojini Naidu carried forward Dandi Salt March to the Dharsana Salt Works, Gujarat, in May 1930, which was covered by the international press in chilling detail. End of British Raj and the Salt Tax is close to end. Click for larger image.


Desi Nostalgia For British Raj

July 26, 2011 2 comments
The conversation between Indian Swaraj Snake and the British Snake Charmer - Snake: I had hoped for something more congenial from this new instrument. Secretary for India: The Instrument may be new but I don't propose to change the tune just yet. Meanwhile you've got to be charmed with it, wether you like it or not. Note: British cartoon from Punch magazine, featuring British Labour Government as a Snake Charmer, the snake is called Swaraj which was the India Home Rule movement. (Image source and courtesy - collectorsprints.com.).

The conversation between Indian Swaraj Snake and the British Snake Charmer – Snake: I had hoped for something more congenial from this new instrument. Secretary for India: The Instrument may be new but I don’t propose to change the tune just yet. Meanwhile you’ve got to be charmed with it, wether you like it or not. Note: British cartoon from Punch magazine, featuring British Labour Government as a Snake Charmer, the snake is called Swaraj which was the India Home Rule movement. (Image source and courtesy – collectorsprints.com.).

Raj nostalgia among Indians

Many of the old Indian élite miss the British Raj. For its opulence, pomp, show and glitter. Forgetting, that the British Raj was built on groaning famines and grinding poverty.

The numbing atrocities were a bonus from the British Raj.

Raj legacy?

For glorification of the British Raj, Indian railways remains the favorite prop of the Raj elites and loyalists. A recent instance is a post on Indian railways that ends without once using the word British.

The writer Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, in his syndicated column remembers ‘a childhood spent in railway colonies’ when ‘trains were always on time’. This is not a fact and not even fiction.

So, where does Shri Datta-Ray gets his info from?

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray uses ‘instincts’ to illuminate us with his journalistic ‘revelations.’

Dens of iniquity

Indian railway systems of 20th century, during and after the British Raj, became increasingly notorious for accidents, lack of punctuality, high costs; and horribly elitist. This state of affairs continued for about four decades after Independence. It took LB Shastri’s resignation to bring home the fact that the responsibility for these accidents lay at the highest level – and not at at the end of rope.

While Sunanda K. Datta-Ray glorifies colonial railways (cocoons of permit and privilege) modern trains, faster and better, are dismissed as ‘upstarts of the railroad.’ Any which way, there is no satisfying Sunanda K Datta-Ray. He just cannot find anything good in modern India.

At least not in modern Indian railways.

In Britain, governing India was never seen as easy - and an intractable problem. (Churchill on the Problem Indian Elephant, with 'India Problem' across the elephants' forehead. Artist: Leonard Raven-Hill. Published in Punch Magazine - 8 March 1933. Source and courtesy - punchcartoons.com.). Click for source image.

In Britain, governing India was never seen as easy – and an intractable problem. (Churchill on the Problem Indian Elephant, with ‘India Problem’ across the elephants’ forehead. Artist: Leonard Raven-Hill. Published in Punch Magazine – 8 March 1933. Source and courtesy – punchcartoons.com.). Click for source image.

While people like Sunanda K. Datta-Ray were put up at ‘a good restaurant with khansamas in crisply beplumed turbans and gleaming brass medallions’, the paying underclass (like most of us), had to make do with Third Class ‘facilities’ – and treatment.

Dim lights, no fans, windows without safety grill, seats without even a cushion, dirty toilets and floors, corrupt TTEs, obsolete rolling stock, crumbling tracks, malfunctioning signal systems.

All the benefits of the Raj. The works.

Times change

Strangely, Shri Datta-Ray thinks that the removal of the viceregal saloon means ‘trains have been downgraded,’ and it is ‘likely that so have the rails and supporting infrastructure.’ Maybe, Datta-Ray should look up the meaning of non-sequitur.

Viceregal saloons were removed from Indian trains, because the successor to the British Viceroy uses a jet aircraft.

Plus the egalitarian impulse asserting itself. Notice the steady increase in ‘General Compartments’? Add voter-orientation. Instead of catering to an odd full-fare passenger in luxury class, it is more profitable to look after millions of economy class passengers.

Surrounded by servants, positions acquired by loot, power by massacres, the surviving elite pine for the age gone by. (Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers, image source and courtesy - allposters.com). Click for source image.

Surrounded by servants, positions acquired by loot, power by massacres, the surviving elite pine for the age gone by. (Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers, image source and courtesy – allposters.com). Click for source image.

Clearly, the focus during the British Raj was more on the comforts of the extracting elites, rather than on the economically declining masses. No wonder, ‘the main platform at Howrah used to be ablaze with the movers and shakers of the world.’

Metalosaurus

Railway engines that Sunanda K.Datta-Ray so lovingly talks about, were decrepit steam engines that were left by the British Raj.

Only in India. Iron hulks that clanked and wheezed their way to oblivion. Elephants were used for ‘handshunting’ – as shunting engines were not available. Sometimes humans too. Ramshackle steam engines pulled collapsing bogies, over crumbling bridges, on tracks that needed replacement. All this on trains that were late – and engines of corruption.

Life of leisure, massacre, extortion, servants, luxury, it is not surprising that some are nostalgic for that exploitative past. ((Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers. Image source and courtesy - collectorsprints.com). Click for source image.

Life of leisure, massacre, extortion, servants, luxury, it is not surprising that some are nostalgic for that exploitative past. ((Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers. Image source and courtesy – collectorsprints.com). Click for source image.

Seen from below, the railway underbelly was quite unlike Sunanda’s rose-tinted view from railway colonies.

Losers’ lament

Old elites, shoved aside after undue ceremony, isolate and magnify ‘consequences of mismanagement’ in post-colonial India. Diluting achievements of post-colonial India, the old elites confuse the legacy of ‘a creaking bullock cart packed with diseased and malnourished people’ that modern India inherited from the British Raj. Reluctantly, they admit the reality, of ‘an India trundling to the moon.’

As if the preceding ‘management’ was superior. India’s new élite, powered by voter-pandering and industrial oligarchies, is the current flavor of ‘mismanagement.’ It has overseen India climb out of the hell-hole of British Raj.

Step-by-excruciating-step – an unparalleled feat in world history.

A British magistrate 'surrounded' by 'supplicant' natives. How the British Empire 'brought' civilization to India? (Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers. Image source and courtesy - books.google.com). Click for source publication.

A British magistrate ‘surrounded’ by ‘supplicant’ natives. How the British Empire ‘brought’ civilization to India? (Image from “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station”; Published 1859; written by George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers. Image source and courtesy – books.google.com). Click for source publication.

Old vs New

The earlier ‘management’, made-up of British overlords and Indian ‘sepoys’, releases a steady drip of deprecatory commentary. Now stripped of privilege, preferences, privacies, built at the expense of cornered and huddled Indian masses, the Indo-British élite has seen itself decline into obscurity and inconsequential.

Left to maunder over their decline, the discarded élite fall back on evaporating nostalgia, using  a ‘manufactured’ past, for running down a ‘better’ India. Taking aim at present pock-marked India, against a ‘doomsday’ tomorrow is always an easy shot.

As Hindu, Muslim and Sikh tigers tore each other, departing British rulers hoped that they will be called back soon - as 'Only The British' could 'rule' over India. (The Rope Trick. Artist: Leslie Illingworth. Published in Punch Magazine - 28 May 1947; Source and courtesy - punchcartoons.com). Click for image source.

As Hindu, Muslim and Sikh tigers tore each other, departing British rulers hoped that they will be called back soon – as ‘Only The British’ could ‘rule’ over India. (The Rope Trick. Artist: Leslie Illingworth. Published in Punch Magazine – 28 May 1947; Source and courtesy – punchcartoons.com). Click for image source.

Especially compared to the horrors of the British Raj.

‘Opium financed British rule in India’

Elephants in the room. (from the Non Sequitur series of cartoons by Wiley Miller). Click for larger image.

Elephants in the room. (from the Non Sequitur series of cartoons by Wiley Miller). Click for larger image.

Under the British Raj, an enormous amount of opium was being exported out of India until the 1920s.

Before the British came, India was one of the world’s great economies. For 200 years India dwindled and dwindled into almost nothing.

Once I started researching into it, it was kind of inescapable – all the roads led back to opium.

I was looking into it as I began writing the book about five years ago. Like most Indians, I had very little idea about opium.

It is not a coincidence that 20 years after the opium trade stopped, the Raj more or less packed up its bags and left. India was not a paying proposition any longer. (via BBC NEWS | South Asia | ‘Opium financed British rule in India’).

Poor Indy Joe

Amitav Ghosh, a trained anthropologist and historian with a doctorate from Oxford University, did not know about the opium trade by the British Raj. The West has done a great job of hiding elephants in the room.

Does the average Indy Joe have a chance?

Birth of a new religion

But there is any layer to this problem. A new religion. It is called Westernization. ‘Modern’ Indians can be satisfied with perception and propaganda. Easier to digest, I presume.

At this rate, India will become another case of ‘forget-nothing-learn-nothing’. So enamored with the new religion of ‘Westernization’ are we, that no criticism will be accepted or tolerated.

Many ‘educated’ Indians have come to believe that the West is a friend of India – or has answers or solutions for India. Forget about India.

Does West have an answer to their own problems.

Even God can’t help you (Corruption-II)

February 24, 2011 3 comments
Cartoon by Ninan; courtesy - virup.wordpress.com

Cartoon by Ninan; courtesy – virup.wordpress.com

Not like that in ‘foreign countries

Jagdish Bhagwati, a wannabe-Nobel Prize-ee, declares, that unlike India,”In America, if you are caught, even God can’t help you’.

The world’s largest prison population will testify to Bhagwati’s assertion.

The biggest scams on earth, in the USA, will also confirm that sending minions to jail does not get rid of crime or corruption. Corruption is an ‘India only’ phenomenon, rests on a basic assumption that  ‘foreign countries’ are better. Bhagwati leads the charge on this front.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winning economist (2001) implies that all governments can be bought – but then he goes further. Stiglitz claims the ‘US has the best democratic government money can buy!’ In the august company of Jagdish Bhagwati are The New Chatteratti. Like Chetan Bhagat, who believe during the British Raj, nothing like corruption could have existed. They dive deeper.

the United States values wealth, competition, individualism and religion. These are pretty much core to the essence of American society and culture.

However, ask someone to articulate Indian community values, and there won’t be a clear answer. Do we value wealth or education? Do we value democracy where people have a greater say in how they are governed, or do we believe in power in the hands of a select few to whom the laws don’t apply? Do we value honesty, or do we value getting a job done anyhow? Do we believe in frugality, or do we want to show off our wealth? Do we value our local communities, or do we value being part of India?

There are conflicting responses to any of these questions in the India … I call it confusion. Values cannot be unpredictable, they are consistent. The past decade was spent by Indian society in a muddled set of values. A clear set of values … a lack of good values is why scams happen, nepotism exists and the government doesn’t care about its people.

The reason there is no concrete set of Indian values yet is that the concept of India itself is new. Just over six decades ago, there was no India. We had a collection of princely states, with kings and queens, which the British ruled at gunpoint. When the latter left, we loosely stitched these together, cut off a large chunk with partition and labelled the result India. (Read more: Adding values to life – The Times of India; parts excised for brevity).

It all boils down to a belief in ‘character-less Indians’. It’s not just Chetan Bhagat or Jagdish Bhgwati. Sharmila Tagore thinks that Indians are sexual deviants, lechers. Dipankar Gupta has a different take – Indians are ill-mannered. Of course, all these cognoscenti of Indian character are better than Indians – and also think that ‘foreigners’ are better!

Dirty, rotten, brown Indians!

In a manner of speaking, some Indians continue to live with a poor self image – the vacuum of self-esteem that that these worthies reflect so well. Our political leadership, fortunately, does not quite believe that they are the only corrupt ones. They should know better.

It was in response to Nobel economist Gunnar Myrdal’s famous observations on corruption in India in his three-volume tome, Asian Drama, that Indira Gandhi famously observed that “corruption is a global phenomenon”.(Sanjaya Baru: Corruption and development)

Some 10 years later,

In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi on his first foreign tour as prime minister (at) one of his press conferences was asked if civil servants in India were paid so low that corruption in government had become a big problem. “We have no evidence from the western countries that higher pay for civil servants has completely removed corruption there,” Mr Gandhi said. (parts excized; text in parenthesis supplied; A K Bhattacharya: Look afresh at cooling-off rules).

A multi-author study on international commerce and was more balanced

Despite popular belief, corrupt practices are not a developing country’s problem. It is global and affects both the developed and the developing … In a recent news item from the WBI published in April 2004 the cost of corruption in both rich and developing countries is estimated at $1000 billion ($1 trillion) a year. (from Issues in international commercial law By Iwan Davies).

A former Home Secretary, during the demolition of Babri Masjid, was Madhav Godbole. He writes in his book,

In line with Indira Gandhi’s famous remark, “corruption is a global phenomenon,” one could say that motivated campaigning through the media is also a global phenomenon (from Unfinished innings: recollections and reflections of a civil servant By Madhav Godbole).

Looking far … and further

Was the Lockheed Scandal more egregious than the Harshad Mehta Scam? Was Watergate more dangerous than The Lewinsky Affair? Of course, there were many other scandals – bigger or less famous. Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds to Valery Giscard d’Estaing. Hardly anyone remembers Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Bokassa’s diamonds. Or how Margaret Thatcher used her official position to obtain a Saudi arms deal for her son, Sir Mark Thatcher, which reputedly netted £12m (around US$17m). Mark Thatcher ‘coup’ shenanigans in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

Between WWI and WWII, many questions were raised in the British Parliament- and outside about Neville Chamberlain’s holdings in ICI, shares estimated at 11000. His son, Francis Chamberlain, had joined the Kynoch Works an old firm with which the Chamberlain family was associated. As also with BSA Company (Birmingham Small Arms) in which he was a director.

Joe Kennedy Cartoon| LIFE | 25 Jan 1963

Joe Kennedy Cartoon| LIFE | 25 Jan 1963

Joseph Kennedy, whose ‘career’ in Hollywood (after taking over a company by deceit), Wall Street, (he short-sold all his  shares just before the October Crash that set of the Great Depression), bootlegging (in partnership with the mafia), was second to none. His son – the President, John F.Kennedy. But don’t ask Americans about the son of bootlegger who flouted the US Constitution many times – John F.Kennedy. After JFK’s killing, 60 years on, there are many suspects who had motives. Mafia tops this list.

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

Joseph Kennedy got his leg up by funding the presidential campaign of Roosevelt – whose own family made their money from opium trade in China. For Kennedy’s support, Roosevelt rewarded Kennedy with appointment as Head of SEC (1934) and as US ambassador to Britain (1938). An interesting book traces the Great Depression to a clique of 40 bankers and politicians – including Kennedy, Churchill, Bernard M. Baruch etc. Jack Churchill, Winston Churchill’s brother, ‘airbrushed out of history’, had some role.

In a democracy, people have choice!

In a democracy, people have choice!

Jack Churchill emerges from this fascinating book as an engaging and honourable man who dealt well with the mixed blessing of having a very great man as an elder brother. He was a constant support to Winston, and was able to shield the family from some of the worst effects of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, although Winston never referred publicly to this.

More recently, we had the internet media agog with Dick Cheney and his misdeeds. His attempts to bribe Nigerian officials resulted in settlement offer of US$250m. (Finally, Dick Cheney seems to have got away. Was that with or without God’s help, Professor Bhagwati.).

Corruption and conspiracy

But all this is not corruption. These are conspiracy theories. In India, conspiracy theories become corruption. In the Great Land of USA, and much of the West, corruption is a Conspiracy Theory. Initially difficult to understand, but corruption-as-conspiracy has a simple explanation.

To understand this, we will have to go to Singapore. Where anything you say, write, print, about the rich and the powerful (called slander, libel and defamation). These are laws made for the ‘safety’ and ‘protection’ of the rich and powerful. A conviction will set you back by a few millions of dollars, euros, francs, pounds, et al. Unless you have rock-solid evidence.

Something that does not happen in India at all. Indian courts and jurisprudence, put very little value on  slander, libel and defamation. Indian media gets the rub-of-the green. But more on that in my next post.

So, Shri Bhagat, Bhagwati & Co., before you leap, fly, dive, jump, run to conclusions about us ‘backward’ Indians, let me tell you something. While you stay with us, we would appreciate some civility. You do know that India’s doors are wide open. You can leave. Leave us backward Indians behind.

I promise, we wont miss you.

PS

Corrupt border guards are not unique to India’s borders.

Champions at Genocide – Taimur Leng and Churchill

December 31, 2010 7 comments
Cartoonist Leslie Illingworth's faithfully reproduces Churchill's views on India. (Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Published - Daily Mail, 20 May 1947).

Cartoonist Leslie Illingworth's faithfully reproduces Churchill's views on India. (Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Published - Daily Mail, 20 May 1947).

Hitler believed that the so-called Nordic race, which in his view included Germans and Britons, was destined to rule the world. He sought to emulate, not supplant, the British Empire: the German empire would comprise the Slavic countries to the east. As he saw it, the United Kingdom would retain its colonies but assume the role of Germany’s junior partner in world domination. (read more via Churchill’s Dark Side: Six Questions for Madhusree Mukerjee—By Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine).

Eat what you can digest

Looking at the lukewarm  coverage, desultory reporting and the general indifference to Madhusree Mukerjee’s masterly work on the Bengal Famine, I am drawn to some intriguing conclusions.

‘Modern’ Indians can be satisfied with perception and propaganda. Easier to digest, I presume. Empirical evidence be damned. Between the Rightist Islamic-atrocities and the Marxist effete-feudal theologies, Indian history suffers. At this rate, India will become another case of ‘forget-nothing-learn-nothing’.

Indian military might

The commentators are very enamored by ‘victims-of-Islamic-atrocities’ narrative – even though India’s military might would have reduced these ‘invasions’ to extensive plunder-pillage-massacre expeditions. In the few cases where these ‘invasions’ were able to consolidate, the regimes were short-lived.

British jaziya tax?

The crippling taxes that these Islāmic ‘invaders’ were able to impose, were less crippling than Western colonial extraction. At the end of the Mughal Raj, India was still a formidable economy. Even after, the Mughal rulers had bloated their treasury to the largest in the world. By the time the British were sent packing, Indians were left struggling for roti-kapda-makaan.

Taimur and Churchill

The Delhi massacre of Taimur Lame, the Mongol looter accounted for less than 2 lakh victims (most estimates are 1,00,00). The Bengal Famine engineered by the British accounted for 40-50 lakh victims (British estimates are 10,00,000-20,00,000). Taimur was a Hindu-hating Islāmic plunderer. Churchill and the British Raj oozed the milk of human kindness? From every pore and orifice of their bodies?

Westernization – the new religion

So enamored with the new religion of ‘Westernization’ are we, that no criticism will be accepted or tolerated. 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.

Not a welcome message, I guess.

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Eat what you can digest

Looking at the lukewarm coverage, desultory reporting and the general indifference to Madhabi Mukherjee’s masterly work on the Bengal Famine, I am drawn to some intriguing conclusions.

‘Modern’ Indians can be satisfied with perception and propaganda. Easier to digest, I presume. Empirical evidence be damned. Between the Rightist Islamic-atrocities and the Marxist effete-feudal theologies, Indian history suffers. At this rate, India will become another case of ‘forget-nothing-learn-nothing’.

Indian military might

The commentators are very enamored by ‘victims-of-Islamic-atrocities’ narrative – even though India‘s military might would have reduced these ‘invasions’ to extensive plunder-pillage-massacre expeditions. In the few cases where these ‘invasions’ were able to consolidate, the regimes were short-lived.

British jaziya tax?

The crippling taxes that these Islamic ‘invaders’ were able to impose, were less crippling than Western colonial extraction. At the end of the Mughal Raj, India was still a formidable economy. Even after, the Mughal rulers had bloated their treasury to the largest in the world. By the time the British were sent packing, Indians were left struggling for roti-kapda-makaan.

Taimur and Churchill

The Delhi massacre of Taimur Lame, the Mongol looter accounted for less than 2 lakh victims. The Bengal Famine engineered by the British accounted for 40-50 lakh victims. Taimur was a Hindu-hating Islamic plunderer. Churchill and the British Raj oozed the milk of human kindness? From every pore and orifice of their bodies?

Westernization – the new religion

So enamored with the new religion of ‘Westernization’ are we, that no criticism will be accepted or tolerated. Compared to the ‘co-operation’ with the Islamic plunderers our ‘collaboration’ with the West is in no way less damaging or in any way less culpable.

Not a welcome message, I guess.

Shortlink

http://dlvr.it/CQTYh

India Non-Violent Struggle? The Myth

December 9, 2010 7 comments
Blaming political opponents is easier. Naxalism is one such trick. For 250 years, the Indian State has not solved this problem.

Blaming political opponents is easier. Naxalism is one such trick. For 250 years, the Indian State has not solved this problem.

The Madhya Pradesh Government are in consultation with the Centre on the action to be taken regarding Maharajah Pravinchandra Bhan Dev, Ruler of the erstwhile tribal State of Bastar in southern Madhya Pradesh. Among the charges against the Maharajah are that he has been inciting the Adivasis who number about eight lakhs to violence. The situation there is very delicate and calls for careful handling. The Adivasis still look upon the Ruler of Bastar as a representative of the Goddess Danteswari Mata in whose name the Maharaja ruled just as the Travancore Maharajahs ruled in the name of Lord Padmanabha. (read more via The Hindu : Today’s Paper / MISCELLANEOUS : This day that age).

Sense of priority

Bastar’s tribal peoples were never the quiet type. The British discovered that early in the day. The newly minted Indian State also discovered this – as this 50 year-old news-item shows. And that can be said for most tribals across the plateau. The tribal disaffection with the idea of the ‘modern’ State has been a permanent feature. It is all credit to the Unlettered Indian (aka The Indian Voter) who has been able to distinguish between shades of power grab.

Militant Maoists are seeking to using this disaffection for a power-grab. Just like Kashmiri terrorists. To impose a worse form of the ‘modern’ State – the Islāmic type in Kashmir or the maoist type in various tribal lands.

Increasing power and spending is the way of all 'modern' States! (Cartoonist - Daryl Cagle)

Increasing power and spending is the way of all 'modern' States! (Cartoonist - Daryl Cagle)

Sense of priority

These same tribals, now branded as Maoists, Naxalites, organized themselves into many armies and fought British armies for more than a 100 years. For the same reasons. Land grabbing by the State. The Indian State would do well to learn from the British experience. Probably, the modern Indian State does not know its own history – and believes in its own propaganda.

Official history, strangely, does not tell us that between 1800-1947, apart from the Anglo-Indian War of 1857, there were more than 75 battles, skirmishes, revolts, mutinies, involving thousands, up to lakhs of Indians, across India. And more than double that many conspiracies, hold-ups, explosions, bombings, which were not organized. These more than 200 violent actions have been completely glossed over by post-colonial India’s historians. Obviously, more than 200 incidents of violent opposition to British misrule over 150 years (1800-1947) deserves better treatment by official historians. Especially, the people who fought most of these battles.

The tribals.

Sense of priority

The Anglo-Mysore Wars, Anglo-Maratha Wars, the Sikh Wars, the Afghan Wars plagued British misrule in India.The 1857 Anglo-Indian Wars were a landmark in opposition to colonialism. These were the major conflicts that continued to blaze across India.

Apart from these major conflagrations, significant opposition to the British misrule came from Indian forest-dwellers and migratory peoples. The Chotanagpur area (Surguja, Ranchi and Hazaribagh areas) passed to the British from Mughals in 1765. War and famine followed. The Bengal Famine of 1770 (1769-1773) was much written and analysed. The Jharkhand area remained on the boil for nearly 150 years after Buxar.

On the conflict side, the Paharia Revolt (1766-1778), by the hill-dwellers of Rajmahal Hills, soon followed. Santhals, opened a wide front against the British. One of the first of many such campaigns, started operations from the Tilapore forest against the British from 1781-1785 – led by Tilka Manjhi (also spelt Majhi). The dates of Tilkha Majhi’s revolt, vary widely – some continuing till 1799. The Tamar revolt (1783-1789) was another revolt in the modern Jharkhand area which occupied British attention in India – while they were fighting the American colonies. The Anglo-Santhal battles continued for the next 100 years. The Kol (also Khol, Khole) continued these insurrections in early 19th century.

Immediately after Buxar, in 1764 Major Hector Munro, who took charge of “the Company’s army, found the sepoys in a state of open revolt. There is no instinct of obedience in native armies in India” complains the English ‘historian’. In 1780, the East India Company faced revolt in Benares from Raja ‘Cheyt Sing’ who was appointed to “furnish the company with three regular battalions of Seapoys” who instead ‘massacred , in cold blood, thirteen of Capt.Wade’s men, who fell into his hands in the Hospital at Mirzapoor’.

If this was not enough, there were the Sannyasi rebellions (1763-1800).

Sense of priority

The only system that will meet the aspirations of the tribals, the Kashmiris, is something that will give them access to ज़र, zar (gold), जन jan (people) and ज़मीन jameen (land). A system that will guarantee the four essential freedoms – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh (liberty) and धर्मं dharma (justice)

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

The cost of American attention

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment
President Gerald R. Ford and the Shah of Iran confer over a map during the Shah's May 1975 visit to Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sits in the background. (Photo courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library)

President Gerald R. Ford and the Shah of Iran confer over a map during the Shah's May 1975 visit to Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sits in the background. (Photo courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library)

Gratitude – the heaviest burden

Policy mavens in India, the print and visual media, all ‘gratefully’ acknowledge US role in the de-hyphenation of India and Pakistan. Indians have also become grateful to the USA, for ‘allowing’ India to play a role in Afghanistan.

So, India was at pains to justify its own policy, when Obama called on India to re-look at support to the regimes in Iran and Myanmar (Obama still calls it Burma).

India would do well to look at some facts and history. I will not use the indefensible and well-known US record in Pakistan.

Look back in anger

Instead, let us look at Iran itself. Shri Obamaji, can you without cringing, recall American involvement in Iran? Iran, under the Shah of Iran? A more totalitarian and repressive regime the people of Iran have not seen. A regime that the US installed, supported, promoted and shoved down the throats of Iranians.

Regime change

Are you forgetting Chile-General Pinochet, Bhai Obama? The military junta of Chile, that the USA supported, promoted, aided, propped up – and installed. After murdering the democratically elected President of Chile. Hint – his name was Salvador Allende. Choosing between Chile’s generals, the Shah of Iran and the Myanmarese junta is a no-brainer. Lessons we don’t need, Shri Obama? At least, not from America!

India may soon have a nuclear China, Pakistan, Iran at its borders. (Cartoonist - Patrick Chappatte in "International Herald Tribune"; cartoon courtesy - sinotrading.us). Click for larger image.

India may soon have a nuclear China, Pakistan, Iran at its borders. (Cartoonist - Patrick Chappatte in "International Herald Tribune"; cartoon courtesy - sinotrading.us). Click for larger image.

Oh! And by the way

You should know something about Afghanistan. Something which your State Department probably has not informed you.

India and Afghanistan was India.Till the British Raj lost Afghanistan.

Americans and Obama do no favor to India by accepting India’s interest, role and influence in Afghanistan. We Indians still remember that Afghanistan was an essential part off India – as do the Afghans. Without taking recourse to Ashoka, Mauryans and the Gupta kingdoms, which ruled over Afghanistan. Indian TV shows still rule over Afghanistan.

From 14th-18th century, it was the Afghan Indians who ruled over North India and Delhi. Ranjit Singh’s Sikh kingdom ruled over Afghanistan till about 170 years ago.

Coming back to Iran

Any regime is better than the American-installed Shah’s misrule. The reactionary Islamic regime in Iran is a result of the US-sponsored nightmare under the Shah. Some 30 years ago, Ayatollah Khomeini, returning from exile, seemed like deliverance, after the Shah fled Iran.

The cost of American attention and lessons of Pakistan are not lost. The people of Iran, I am sure, will do well without American attention. I have no doubt that the pendulum of politics in Iran will swing towards sanity and balance – soon. Unlike Pakistan, an American client-State.

Americans and Bourbons – learn nothing , forget nothing

What I seriously doubt is the American ability to learn or forget. The USA cannot forget Haiti, or learn from the Cuba. Even 200 years after Haiti’s independence. And a 100 years after America failed to ‘purchase’ Cuba.

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