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Posts Tagged ‘Colonialism’

Indian Secularism: Is There A Rationale For Defensiveness?

April 30, 2014 2 comments


Does Indian society and polity need to defend itself against random barbs of sectarianism? Any quantitative measure would indicate that no grounds exist for such barbs.
.

Twitter exchange between - swapan55- and @_sabanaqvi We have agreement ... Screen shot on 2014-04-30 03-35-10 | Click on image to go actual tweet message

Twitter exchange between – swapan55- and @_sabanaqvi We have agreement … Screen shot on 2014-04-30 03-35-10 | Click on image to go actual tweet message

fter having to give away Pakistan and Bangladesh (now), which was about 20% of the Indian land-mass, India by rights could have decided to be a narrow, sectarian country.

End Games

Even before the Indian Partition, Indians in neighbouring countries (e.g. Sri Lanka, Burma) under British influence were expelled, excluded and made into second class citizens.

These were difficult political compromises made by Indian negotiators – to arrive at the outline of current political India. With a broken economy and no military back-up, negotiations with world’s pre-eminent military and economic power were never easy or straight-forward.

In any negotiations, British Raj usually started with an advantage.

Trading Losses

100-years before Independence, in 1840, Britain had already lost Afghanistan – which was a part of the Sikh Empire last ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and founded by Banda Bahadur.

Soon after Independence, Tibet was lost to China – while US made much noise and gave little support. Keeping Communist China with one foot outside the Soviet camp, to US was more important than Tibet or India.

After ceding Pakistan and losing traction in Burma, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet were major blows to India. These were major raw-materials sources for India and markets for Indian output. These countries were also important buffers from land-based military adventurers.

Polity Trends

After these kind of amputations, the modern India that was put together has a vast numbers of ‘minorities – with no singular elitist class. In Bharattantra, Brahmins and banias were excluded from political affairs and the State was excluded from academic and economic affairs.
In this kind of context, the Congress Party, painted as a ‘Hindu’ party, had to make special efforts to be seen as a national party. Above sectarian politics. After 70-years of seeing treatment in the West and in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh, the long-term fundamentals of Indian society should be plain.
Especially to Indian Muslims.

Worship vs Religion

Since, worship-practices in India have been so varied, to make that as a political point does not come easily to Indian polity or society. Unlike the West, where  secularism came about due to Napoleonic imposition to curtail excesses by the Church.
In Bharattantra, India’s traditional political philosophy, State intrusion into worship-practices or traditions is alien and unacceptable.
However, in most parts of the world, religion is usually a political weapon – controlled by One Book, One God, One Government, One Currency, One Morality, et al.
Hence, for and in India, wariness about making religion into a political issue is ever-present – which must be dealt with the contempt that it deserves.
Can there be any room for debate or discussion on this?

Can we?

Having granted Pakistan, midwifed Bangladesh, historical agreements are clear. Muslims from the Indian sub-continent, who wish to insert Islam into politics are free to do so.
In Pakistan and Bangladesh.
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Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – Problem? Solution! Irrelevant?!

March 26, 2013 7 comments

It is time that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) went to the BJP for some lessons in ideology.

RSS has been a favorite whipping boy of the Congress  |  November 2010 cartoon by R.Prasad

RSS has been a favorite whipping boy of the Congress | November 2010 cartoon by R.Prasad

Ihave no idea what kind of people Ram Madhav is hanging around with!

Me and the people I hang around with, seem to have no problems with women – and women who know us and deal with us don’t seem to be having a problem.

Who are the men that Ram Madhav thinks, who need to change that he is talking about?

Now…

So is Ram Madhav talking about?

  1. His set of people – of whom I know nothing
  2. My set of people – who are not a problem
  3. All Indians – in India, which has a low rape percentage by any world standards.
  4. Rapists – who are a small minority; and unlikely to affected by such silly statements or silly laws made by Lok Sabha.

Why fault an entire society or a gender for the actions by a few deviants?

BjP has built  a comprehensive, consistent agenda  |  August 2009 cartoon by Unny; source & courtesy - churumuri.wordpress.com

BjP has built a comprehensive, consistent agenda | August 2009 cartoon by Unny; source & courtesy – churumuri.wordpress.com

Earlier…

Regular 2ndlookers will recall earlier cases of such obscurantism from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

We had Mohan Bhagwat the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)  chief comparing and promoting the British Raj a little over a year ago.

Soon after an ex-editor of Tarun Bharat, the RSS publication, MG Vaidya was pushing Nitin Gadkari as the BJP chief. Why? Because Nitin Gadkari  is a Maharashtrian – and MG Vaidya suspected non-Maharashtrians to be anti-Maharashtrian.

Over the last 3 decades we have had the BJP build an enviable rightist narrative for India – at variance with the rather steamy Congress propaganda – overdone now for 60 years too long.

A geriatric RSS leaderehip with last century's narrative in an post-modern India

A geriatric RSS leaderehip with last century’s narrative in an post-modern India

A Past Dead & Gone

RSS with the Western chuddies, (copied  from Nizamshahi police uniform), their pseudo-martial Western marching music, hand half-raised, open-palm salute are all dated and irrelevant.

It is time that RSS went to the BJP for some lessons in building ideology.


Indian History – Blind At Birth?

January 20, 2012 11 comments

Unchallenged rule by Mughals and the British Raj over India, lasted for about 350 years. Cholas ruled longer than that. Why is Modern Indian history so besotted with Mughals and British Raj.

Tandava Nataraja at Rijksmuseum's Asian Art Collection. The Dancing Shiva - Probably a Chola Bronze.  |  Image source and courtesy - rijksmuseum.nl

Tandava Nataraja at Rijksmuseum’s Asian Art Collection. The Dancing Shiva – Probably a Chola Bronze. | Image source and courtesy – rijksmuseum.nl

Research recently revealed that the Rijksmuseum’s monumental bronze statue of Shiva was cast in solid bronze. The thousand year-old temple statue was X-rayed, along with the lorry transporting it, in the most powerful X-ray tunnel for containers of the Rotterdam customs authority. It is the first research of its kind on a museological masterpiece.

At 153 cm x 114.5 cm, the Rijksmuseum’s Shiva is the largest known bronze statue from the Chola Dynasty (9th to 12th century) kept in a museological collection outside of India. Given its weight (300 kg), the statue has always been suspected of not being hollow, as has been common practice in Europe since the Greek Antiquity. As part of an earlier investigation, an X-ray was taken of the statue in a Rijksmuseum gallery in 1999 while visitors were evacuated as a precaution against radiation. Unfortunately, the equipment used at the time (280 KeV) was not powerful enough to determine anything definitively. The Rotterdam X-ray tunnel of the Rotterdam customs authority offered a solution.

Complete surprise

The Rijksmuseum renovation project has provided conservators and curators the opportunity to carry out in-depth research on special pieces from the Rijksmuseum collection, including this masterpiece from the Asian Art Collection. The statue was created ca. 1100 in South India. Each temple had its own set of bronze statues which were carried through the city during major temple festivals. This gives the statues their name: utsavamurti, which is Sanskrit for ‘festival images’. Chola bronzes were considered masterpieces of Indian bronze casting.

Anna Ślączka, curator of South Asian Art, comments, ‘We had expected that the statue itself would prove to be solid, but it was a complete surprise to discover that the aureole and the demon under Shiva’s feet are also solid.’ (via Dancing Shiva X Rayed – rijksmuseum.nl.).

Curious … & Interesting

The Mughals from Babur (First Battle of Panipat – 1526) to Aurangzeb (died on 3 March 1707), ruled for less than 200 years. Even with the largest State treasury of its time.

With a fugitive Humayun, deposed by Sher Shah Suri (from 1540-1555) in between.

Within 50 years of Aurangzeb’s death, after the Battle of Plassey (1757), the British gained power. With the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British gained the dewani of Bengal.

For the British, the dewani of Bengal gave untold riches and the start of a global monopoly over gunpowder. Bengal which was the largest manufactory of gunpowder elements in the world was the keys to an Empire. For the British, making money in India was as easy as shaking a pagoda tree.

For India it was ‘hello famines’. A 100 years of wars with the British followed. The Bengal Famine of 1770 (1769-1773) is much written and analysed.

Lost – even before they began

Within 200 years, the British lost India.

British rule really started somewhere between the defeat of Tipu Sultan (1800) and the annexation of Punjab after the death of Ranjit Singh (1840). By 1947, the British story was over – and they were out of India. To be charitable, take it that British misrule lasted from Battle of Plassey (1757) to Indian Independence (1947).

Cholas

But the Cholas ruled over an equally large empire.

Even though Cholas rule started somewhere in 2nd century BC, their peak was  from 940 AD to 1279 AD – nearly 350 years. And what does Modern Indian history know or how important are the Cholas to modern Indian history?

This statue is just a pinhole peek into the technological advancements in the Chola period.


Indian Bania On British Raj Economics

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Indian minds decipher Western economic mechanisms.

Vithaldas Thackerdas from the Bhatti community  |  An illustration of the 1358 Bhatti Parishad meeting  |  Image source and courtesy - globalbhatia.org

Vithaldas Thackerdas from the Bhatti community | An illustration of the 1358 Bhatti Parishad meeting | Image source and courtesy - globalbhatia.org

Nearly a 100 years ago, in 1915, even before Keynes’s star had risen, an Indian economist, SV Doraiswami, published his book, Indian Finance, Currency And Banking. Doraiswami’s ideas were opposed to those of Keynes and his views are vindicated by events today.

Doraiswami had already published his views in several outlets like London’s Statist, and his book was reviewed around the world. In the decades that followed, though Doraiswami’s work was known in academic circles, the Keynesian economists who gained control of academia were dismissive of his ideas and relegated him to the footnotes as they were conditioned to believe that governments could solve all problems.

Doraiswami faulted the British economic policies in India and demanded that the central bank be an ‘instrument for allowing and encouraging the free and unfettered inflow of gold into India.’ He wrote that a ‘gold standard without a gold currency is an absurdity’ and wrote in support of a resolution by Vitthaldas Thackersey in the Imperial Legislative Council calling for the opening of mints for the free coinage of gold. (via Special: Economic meltdown vindicates forgotten Indian economist – Analysis – DNA).

In Days Gone By

Some of colonial India’s leaders and activists knew of and believed in भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra. For instance, the link between war and gold – forgotten today, but well known then.

One such person was Vithaldas Thackersey. His proposal for setting up a mint at Mumbai received wide attention – and support. The best of British brains were needed to derail and delay the project till such time that all its ‘problems’ for the British Raj were removed.

Keynes himself reviewed this proposal and included this in his tract on Indian currency.

Men and Money

From pre-Gandhiji era, Vithaldas Thackersey (a Gujarathi Bhattia) worked to deliver credit banking to Indians and  in urban and rural areas – at a time when the British Raj was working to extract and fencing access to capital for Indians.

Today India’s ‘intellectuals’ have forgotten both.

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra and gold.

Hindu Muslim Bhai-Bhai – End of an Era

September 1, 2011 1 comment

Urbane, educated, certain local and foreign elements served the British, Pakistani leaders, Indian princes, appealed to Hindus, Muslims using religion – and gained everywhere. But in each case, India lost.

Bhishma on the Bed of Arrows (image source and courtesy - http://www.harekrsna.com). Click for larger image.

Bhishma on the Bed of Arrows (image source and courtesy - http://www.harekrsna.com). Click for larger image.

My grateful  acknowledgments are due to His Highness the Nizam and His  Highness the ruler of Mysore for their princely donations. The  Nizam is a Mahomedan prince. Any contribution coming from him in aid of a work like the Mahabharata could not but  indicate His Highness’s enlightened sympathy for literature in  general, irrespective of the nation or the creed which that  literature represents.  As an administrator, Sir Asman Jah promises to rival the  fame of Sir Salar Jung. So long also as an officer like  Nawab Sayyed Ali Bilgrami is about the person of His Highness … (from the foreword of The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (Anusasana Parva) Translated into English prose Published and distributed by Pratapa Chandra Ray Published 1893 by Bharata Press in Calcutta . Written in English).

What’s religion got to do with this?

Soon after the 1857 Anglo-Indian War of 1857, we had the remarkable instance of the Baroda Gaikwad commissioning a ‘Basra’ pearl carpet for the prophet’s tomb at Medina, which was recently auctioned for US$5.5 million.

And here we have the case of a Muslim king, the Nizam of Hyderabad, who partly funded the translation and publication of the Mahabharata in English.

Coming storm

But, this was soon to change.

In 1905, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines, by Lord Curzon. West Bengal, Orissa, and Bihar on one side and the erstwhile East Bengal and Assam were divided into the other part. All India Muslim League and All India Hindu Mahasabha followed. The official logic was that Bengal was too large a province to be administered by a single governor.

An India that seemed possible and probable was brokento two pieces - and a Kashmir legacy left behind.

An India that seemed possible and probable was broken in to two pieces - and a Kashmir legacy left.

This explanation did not account for communal boundaries – and did not explain Curzon’s tour of East Bengal in February 1904, where he promised a separate zone for Muslim Bengalis.

Protests against this partition in the form of Arandhan (no food was cooked across Bengal), boycott of British goods, and Tagore suggested that Raksha Bandhan would be observed in a spirit of brotherhood between Muslims and Hindus. Lord Minto’s ‘reforms’ in 1909, was the next major step in division of India along religious lines.

Simultaneously, soon after the publication of Tarana-e-Hind (Song of India) in 1905, of the sare-jahaan-se-achcha hai-hindustan-hamaraa fame, Iqbal was sponsored by British authorities for ‘modern’ studies in Europe in 1906. In England Allama Iqbal joined with Major Syed Hassan Bilgrami, ex-Indian Medical Service, to form and promote the Muslim League in England, in 1908.

The mechanics of divide et impera

Major Syed Ali Bilgrami wrote the text for Simla deputation, headed by the Sir Sultan Muhammad (the Aga Khan), who with seventy ‘representatives’ of the Muslim community, asked the Viceroy for elections along communal lines.

The immediate cause for the Simla deputation was the matter of language. Soon after 1857, at Benares in 1867, with the expanding role of the State, a case for using Devnagari script was made. This issue simmered and in 1900, the Urdu-Nagri Resolution was notified by Sir Anthony Macdonald, Lieutenant-Governor, United Provinces, in April 1900 giving parity to Hindi as a official-language along with Urdu in UP. Muslim paranoia was watered and nurtured by the British.

By creating claims and supporting counter-claims, responding to alternate parties, the British administration created frenzy around a simple administrative issue. Pakistani historians to this day see this as “the machination of Dr. Feelan, District Inspector of Schools and Anthony Mac Donald, then Collector of Muzaffarpur, the two bitterest antagonists of Urdu”.

Major Syed Ali Bilgrami wrote the Simla address - presented to the Viceroy on October 1st, 1906, calling for separate electorates. (Image source and courtesy - storyofpakistan.com).

Major Syed Ali Bilgrami wrote the Simla address - presented to the Viceroy on October 1st, 1906, calling for communal electorates. (Image source and courtesy - storyofpakistan.com).

The rest of the story, most of us know.

Behind the man

Major Syed Hassan Bilgrami, an academic from Lucknow, was also from the same family as Sayyed Ali Bilgrami. Sayyed Ali Bilgrami was selected for employment by Salar Jung, one of the nobles in Nizam’s kingdom.

Syed Ali Bilgrami (Image source and courtesy - themuslims.in).

Syed Ali Bilgrami (Image source and courtesy - themuslims.in).

Designated as Imud ul-Mulk Bahadur, he presided over the setting up of Dairatul-Maarifil-Osmania, Hyderabad (or the Osmania Oriental Publications Bureau) in 1888. For some time, he was the tutor to the future Nizam of Hyderabad,

Connections everywhere

Sayyed Ali Bilgrami donated his own collection of books, manuscripts and texts to form a core for the Asafia State Library (1891). Of the initial nearly 24,000 volumes, nearly 16,000 were Persian, Arabic or Urdu. Some 7600 were in English and other European languages. There was, of course, no place for any books in Hindi, Telugu, Sanskrit, Marathi, Kannada – which was the languages used by more than 95% of the Nizam Kingdom’s population.

Sayyed Ali Bilgrami studied at Kolkatta where he also learned Sanskrit – and later translated the Atharva Veda. That possibly explains Sayyed Ali Bilgrami links to Kisari Mohan Ganguli and the publication of Mahabharata by Pratapa Chandra Ray – and funding through the Nizam Government.

Soon after 1905, Sayyed Ali Bilgrami became an activist in affairs of Urdu and Muslim affairs. Another member of the family, active academically, was Syed Asghar Ali Bilgrami who published Ma ‘athir-i-Dakan (Hyderabad, 1925) in Urdu and another study in English, called Landmarks of the Deccan (Hyderabad, 1927).

Collaboration Chronicles

Urbane, educated, the Bilgramis served the British, Pakistan, Indian princes, appealed to Hindus, Muslims – and gained everywhere. Post-independence, some of the Bilgramis moved to Pakistan. A few members of the family chose to remain in Hyderabad, and other parts of India. Today, they can be found in the UK, Germany, UAE – and many emigrated to the US.

This translation of the Mahabharata, by Kisari Mohan Ganguli and publication by Pratapa Chandra Ray, for which one of the Bilgramis arranged funding, remains the most popular and accessible work of the last 100 years.

Below are book extracts from a rather revealing and well-researched work on British colonialism in India.

Chronicles of Collaboration. Excerpts from Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic identity: the search for Saladin  By Akbar S. Ahmed, pages 56 and 64). Click to go source at books.google.com

Chronicles of Collaboration. Excerpts from Jinnah, Pakistan and Islāmic identity: the search for Saladin By Akbar S. Ahmed, pages 56 and 64). Click to go source at books.google.com

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.


War on drugs – Call it off say leaders

June 15, 2011 2 comments
The War on Drugs has now been on for 50 years. No success. (Cartoon by Barry Deutsch; Courtesy - leftycartoons.com). Click for larger image.

The War on Drugs has now been on for 50 years. No success. (Cartoon by Barry Deutsch; Courtesy - leftycartoons.com). Click for larger image.

A high-level international panel slammed the war on drugs as a failure. Compiled by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the report concludes that criminalization and repressive measures have failed with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. It called on governments to undertake experiments to decriminalize the use of drugs, especially marijuana, to undermine the power of organized crime.

The 19-member commission includes former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, Greece’s prime minister, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former U.S. officials George P. Schultz and Paul Volcker, the writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, and British billionaire Richard Branson.

At a news conference launching the report, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who chairs the commission, said ending the war on drugs does not imply complete liberalization.

Instead of punishing drug users, the commission argues that governments should “end the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.”

Cardoso said the commission called for regulation rather than legalization “because we don’t think that’s the moment’s come for legalization.” Even regulation and decriminalization are not a solution, he said, unless they are accompanied by information, publicity campaigns, and improved health care and treatment. (via High-level commission calls drug war a failure, recommends legal regulation of marijuana – The Washington Post).

Options, anyone?

With 2 crore (20 million) drug users in the USA, prisons overflowing with more than 20 lakh (2 million) prisoners, the American policy establishment is stuck for answers. The 2 crore (20 million) figure is more than 16% of the working-age, labour population of the USA – which stands at 16 crores (160 million). Similarly, when drugs became cheap and abundant in China, thanks to the British, China became the largest consumer of opium in the world.

But …

Interesting case

Why has drugs never become a big problem in India? Even, as Indians are significant producers, Indians themselves are not high on consumption lists – or have significantly profited from it.

2 million prisoners - and another 5 million on trial, parole etc. Does this war make sense? (cartoon courtesy - hightowerlowdown.org). Click for larger image.

2 million prisoners - and another 5 million on trial, parole etc. Does this war make sense? (cartoon courtesy - hightowerlowdown.org). Click for larger image.

The police actions against drug cartels have given little benefit. The heavy-handed legal approach of criminalizing possession of drugs too has yielded no results either.

in the past 40 years, the U.S. government has spent over $2.5 trillion dollars fighting the War on Drugs. Despite the ad campaigns, increased incarceration rates and a crackdown on smuggling, the number of illicit drug users in America has risen over the years and now sits at 19.9 million Americans.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair declare(d) last week that the Mexican government had lost control of its own territory. President Felipe Calderón responded by pointing out that his nation shared a border with “the biggest consumer of drugs in the world and the largest supplier of weapons in the world.” (via The War on Drugs).

Touché!

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