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Walmart and Jahangir’s Love Letter

November 28, 2011 3 comments

What’s common between Jahangir and the UPA govt? They both licensed two large corporations. What did they get in return?

Has India been sold out? Graphic by Parag Tope; published on November 28, 2011; at quicktake.wordpress.com; copyright with artist. Click for image.

Has India been sold out? Graphic by Parag Tope; published on November 28, 2011; at quicktake.wordpress.com; copyright with artist. Click for image.

Two recent news stories about opposition to FDI in retail, highlight an issue that is relevant in a historical context.

News Story-1

The government had taken a Cabinet decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and increased the FDI in single-brand to 100 per cent. Sushma Swaraj later tweeted that “Parliament is in session and the government announced a decision of such far reaching consequences outside the parliament.”

“It is contempt of the House. They should have discussed this issue in the Parliament and taken a decision in accordance with the sense of the House. They bypass Parliament. We cannot accept this,” Swaraj said. (via ndtv.com | Govt’s FDI decision contempt of House:Sushma Swaraj)

News Story-2

BJP leader Uma Bharti on Friday threatened to set on fire Walmart store wherever it opens in the country to register her party’s protest against allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail.

“I would personally set afire the showroom when it opens anywhere in the country and I am ready to be arrested for the act,” Bharti said, condemning the decision of the Union cabinet to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail.  (via ibnlive.in.com | Will set Walmart store on fire: Uma Bharti)

Large Corporations need Large Governments

A corporation’s complex ownership structure and contractual obligations are impossible to sustain without an active involvement and protection from the government.  In order for corporation to sustain itself, the government needs to expand its functions, hire more personnel, and raise more revenue.  Whether or not the corporations pay that extra revenue, the problem remains that the government needs to expand itself as more corporations come into existence.

A license or government approval, then gets an implicit “protection” from the government, thus creating a romance between Big Government and Big Corporations.  The present UPA government has extended this “license” to Walmart by going around the parliament, which was going to oppose the motion, like eloping lovers.

Jahangir’s Love Letter

This romance is not new – Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor, had also written his own love letter.  Not to Anarkali.  That love, we are told, remained unconsummated, but his letter to James I, King of England, expresses a different kind of love.

After decades of piracy in the open oceans, English East India Company (EEIC) wanted a foothold on shore and were literally “fighting off” competitors such as the Portuguese.  EEIC, a state sanctioned monopoly, had the backing of James I, King of England, who sent Thomas Roe to “request” the Emperor of Delhi for a “license.”  History is unclear as to what discussions took place between Roe and Jahangir, and what नजराना (gift) was offered to Jahangir, but romance was clearly in the air.  Shortly after, Jahangir wrote a letter to James I:

The letter of love and friendship which you sent and the presents, tokens of your good affections toward me, I have received by the hands of your ambassador, Sir Thomas Roe, delivered to me in an acceptable and happy hour; upon which mine eyes were so fixed that I could not easily remove them to any other object, and have accepted them with great joy and delight.

For confirmation of our love and friendship, I desire your Majesty to command your merchants to bring in their ships of all sorts of rarities and rich goods fit for my palace; and that you be pleased to send me your royal letters by every opportunity, that I may rejoice in your health and prosperous affairs; that our friendship may be interchanged and eternal. [Emphasis added] (source)

What was that “object” that was presented to Jahangir that his eyes were “so fixed” that he “could not easily remove them to any other object?”  Jahangir’s “love and friendship” with the EEIC was apparently cemented with promises of more “rich goods that were fit for his palace.”

An affection that was purchased with a gift and promises of more gifts from a large Corporation.

Has the the present day UPA government received such gifts and promises of more gifts from the future?

Corporations and India

While Mughal rulers and Indian governments have shown an affection for gifts from corporations, Indians themselves, don’t take too well to large corporations, especially foreign ones.  The Anglo-Indian War of 1857, also lit a fire to the English East India Company.  The leaders that lead the war against the English, made a five point Proclamation of Freedom, under the name of Bahadur Shah.  Three of the five points were about economic freedom.

An excerpt:

Products such as textiles, indigo and other articles that India has exported in the past are now a complete under the control of the English. This leaves only the trade of trifles to the people, and even in this, they are not without their share of profits by means of high customs, stamps, and bureaucracy that is entrenched in limiting freedom in trade.

My government will abolish these fraudulent practices and open the trade of every article, without exception, both by land and water, to all Indians. (Tatya Tope’s Operation Red Lotus, p. xxix)

The EEIC was was shut down while the war was still in progress.

गुण, कर्म and Liberty

Many on the “right” side of the great divide, consider any opposition to Walmart as “protectionism” that is reminiscent of India’s days of socialism.

Most of these people on the “right,” fail to understand that the phrase “free market capitalism” is an oxymoron.

In a true free market, competition will prevent accumulation or aggregation of capital, making “capitalism” moot.  In a true free market economy, power is not derived from “capital” but from individual effort and ability – from one’s गुण and कर्म.

Only in Indic polity is there a triad of freedom.

Season for oligarchies – Corporates may control vegetable trade

November 26, 2010 33 comments
Very soon, this is all we will get to eat. Some overpaid corporate executive will decide what we eat at what price! (Cartoonist- Andy Singer; cartoon courtesy-www.mindfully.org.). Click for larger image.

Very soon, this is all we will get to eat. Some overpaid corporate executive will decide what we eat, at what price! (Cartoonist- Andy Singer; cartoon courtesy-www.mindfully.org.). Click for larger image.

death for ordinary rythu bazars and vegetable markets, (as) the entire trade of vegetables, fruits and meat will come under the control of corporates like Metro, Heritage, Reliance or Al Kabeer once the massive terminal market complexes (TMCs) being proposed come into existence in the state.

The corporate setting up the TMCs will (INVEST) Rs 150 crore towards this business, the state government will have a 26 per cent stake (for) 50 acres to 200 acres of land. The private enterprise (PE) will own the remaining portion of the business.

The state government is constructing these massive modern whosesale markets in Hyderabad, Guntur, Vizag and Tirupati, ostensibly to help the farmers. The farmers will directly sell the produce to the TMC, thereby cutting out middlemen. Another advantage is a cleaner, modern bazar with facilities like warehousing, cold storage, ripening chambers, cleaning, grading and processing along with extension of advisory service to farmers.

However, prices will be fixed by the corporate. (with) retail prices of vegetables likely to go up for the consumer. The question is would it benefit the farmers or the company which will gain control over the entire vegetable business of the state.

Corporations will decide which pesticide, what seeds, what prices, what items we eat. Who do you think will benefit? Not me, I know! (Cartoonist - Joe Mohr; cartoon courtesy - http://ecopolitology.org.). Click for larger image.

Corporations will decide which pesticide, what seeds, what prices, what items we eat. Who do you think will benefit? Not me, I know! (Cartoonist - Joe Mohr; cartoon courtesy - http://ecopolitology.org.). Click for larger image.

The TMC will control the production and collection of vegetables from the farmers over certain radius, “While it is not mandatory for the farmer to sell his produce to the TMC, the private operator will offer him a higher price as well as induce them with loans for procurement for seeds. This in the end will make the farmer a captive seller to the TMC and for the retail consumer, the prices of vegetables, fruits and meat will become costlier,” said the sources. (read more via Corporates may control vegetable trade; parts excised for brevity).

Ignorant bureaucrats

Kasargod in Kerala is in the grip of a strange malady. Deformed children.

The Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) has been cultivating cashew in 4500 hectares spread across this district. Since the early 1980s the PCK has been aerially spraying an organochlorine pesticide called endosulfan that has been banned in many countries including Singapore, Denmark, Germany, Holland and Sweden. Over the last several months, various reports in the media as well as studies done by institutions like the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi have indicated a strong link between the aerial spraying of endosulfan and the number of deaths and illnesses in the area. (read more via The Hindu : Cashews for human life?).

Cartoonist - Clay Bennet; cartoon courtesy - www.ritholtz.com). Click for larger image.

Corporate executives will soon dictate to us. They will buy Government's silence. (Cartoonist - Clay Bennet; cartoon courtesy - http://www.ritholtz.com). Click for larger image.

We have seen stories on how swine flu started in La Gloria, a little town in Mexico, at the one of Mexico’s biggest hog factories, owned by the world’s largest pig processor, Smithfield Foods. The world diabetes epidemic by industrial and junk food is become an old story.

And now this

AP Government wants to handover vegetable trade to highest bidder. Some 50-150 acres of land is proposed to be given these companies. These corporations will be able to raise all that money for investment just by p-ledging the land that the Government is handing over to them.

These private monopolies will have monopoly over agricultural output in their designated areas. Producers will given the choice of selling at any mandi to that monopoly buyer. All the ryuthu bazaars will close. The nearly 10,000 vegetable vendors who serve Hyderabad’s 10 lakh (1 million) households can buy from the one monopoly buyer. Another 10,000 eating houses will have the choice of one vendor.

India has indeed becoming a ‘free’ country.

Where Marx comes alive – Pallavi Aiyar

August 9, 2009 1 comment

For greater good of the most many ...

For greater good of the most many ...

perhaps nothing exemplifies European socialism more than the maze of regulations governing the retail trade in Belgium. It took a panel of five young government officials from the Directorate for Regulation and Organisation of the Market, armed with pages of notes, to explain the main highlights of these to me.

This is what I learnt: In Belgium, shops can only legally go on ‘sale’ twice a year, in January and July. It is only during these periods that shops may sell goods at below cost or ‘extremely reduced’ profit. For six weeks before the sales period, shops may not advertise price reductions.

Although offering discounts (as long as these do not amount to a loss) is legal at other times of the year, for a month before the biannual sales, textiles, shoes and leather products may not be discounted at all. Moreover, the sales are reserved for the ‘seasonal renewal’ of stock, so products deemed non-seasonal may not be included in the sale. Sofas, for example, are considered seasonal but antiques are not.

To implement all of this, two hundred-odd inspectors from the Directorate wander around the country inspecting and many complaints regarding non-compliance are also phoned in.

The rationale behind this mountain of red tape is the protection of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which it is believed would go bankrupt if big retail were to be allowed to dump in an unrestrained manner. (via Pallavi Aiyar: Where Marx comes alive).

Europe has come a full circle!

The State has slowly and surely, completely taken over. The hard-fought liberties, the Magna Cartas, the Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, have been in vain. The people have just stepped up to the dias and handed over all the power back to the State. The much touted Renaissance and Reformation have all come to nought.

For the Rest of the World, what is truly a cause of anxiety is that the East seems to be embracing Western political ideology and constructs with reckless enthusiasm – in their quest for ‘progress’ and ‘modernity’. And the public sector behemoths may yet cause some damage.

Remember the East India Company – a public sector company.

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