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MF Husain was Hindu

July 3, 2011 3 comments
M. F. Hussain gets Qatar nationality announces the editor of Hindu - N. Ram (Image courtesy - hindu.com). Click for larger image

M. F. Hussain gets Qatar nationality announces the editor of Hindu - N. Ram (Image courtesy - hindu.com). Click for larger image

Says Pritish Nandy

Maqbool Fida Hussain never said ‘I am a ‘Hindu”. Yet, Pritish Nandy insists on claiming Hussain for ‘Hinduism’. But then, Pritish Nandy for one is not a ‘Hindu’ – in mind, spirit or thought.

Not, if he cannot understand, that what Pritish Nandy calls ‘Hinduism’ does not require everyone to go by One book, belong to One Faith, worship One god or believe in any One thing. ‘Hinduism’ would have been absolutely comfortable with MF Hussain being a Muslim. And everyone includes Maqbool Fida Hussain also.

‘Hinduism’ does not believe or accept that it  is ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ to any other body of belief. The only one thing that ‘Hinduism’ does not accept is अधर्म adharma. Injustice to any man.

Everything else goes.

‘Hinduism’ is public property

At this point here, Farrukh Dhondy joins the debate. Dhondy implies ‘Hinduism’ is public property. MF Hussain has a perfect right to do whatever he wants with ‘Hinduism’ – believes our Mr.Dhondy.

When Mother Teresa became an object of media-adulation, Hussain turned to Moter Teresa. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com.) Click for larger image.

When Mother Teresa became an object of media-adulation, Hussain turned to Moter Teresa. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com.) Click for larger image.

The Hindus don’t have a single book and certainly not one that sanctions attacks for depicting one or the other goddess and using an imaginary or live model’s form and features to do it. Those who hounded MF were barking up the wrong walking stick.

It has happened before. Raja Ravi Verma was castigated, mobbed and prosecuted for using his mistress as a model for paintings of Hindu goddesses and heroines from the epics. Ketan Mehta’s film may shed some light on how and why a notion of heresy invaded the beliefs of Hinduism.  Hinduism, should be free from such an idea.

The demolition of the temple of Somnath may be seen as insults and affronts to the communities that built them and worshipped there but not in any sense is it heresy. Breaking icons is certainly insulting. But surely MF Husain was making them? (via Indian idol maker – Hindustan Times; parts excised for brevity).

Logically, Dhondy must understand that all idol-breaking or form-distortion can happen only at ‘Hindu’ sufferance – or tolerance, if you wish. ‘Hindu’ intellectual capital is available – at no cost.

To subscribers only.

23-May After Mamata Banerjee’s victory in West Bengal assembly elections, MF Hussain sent a sketch to Hindustan Times. (Image courtesy - hindustantimes.com). Click for larger image.

23-May After Mamata Banerjee’s victory in West Bengal assembly elections, MF Hussain sent a sketch to Hindustan Times. (Image courtesy - hindustantimes.com). Click for larger image.

No ‘free’ lunch at ‘Hindu’ expense

I don’t subscribe to FT.com. I don’t talk-up, talk-down, talk-about FT.com. FT.com does not want me. Separate ways. Good for both of us.

Same thing with ‘Hinduism’, I thought.

Without being a subscriber to ‘Hinduism’, others can use, accept ‘Hindu’ ideas, concepts, standards, clearly at ‘Hindu’ sufferance. Especially if an ‘artist’ wishes to make commercial profit by using ‘Hindu’ capital. Maqbool Fida Hussain wants to combine ‘Hindu’ sufferance, (or tolerance, maybe broad-mindedness), with Islāmic sensitivity (blasphemy, no idols and portraits), for his personal gain.

Hussain painted freely and frankly – nude goddesses, dark monks, rib-lined horses, elephants playing veenas, nations in distress – in canvases executed with style and showmanship, spreading artistic excitement across society.

But never an Islāmic theme – unless you want to count Meenaxi as an Islāmic theme! Why?

Now, Maqbool Fida Hussain used and adopted Islāmic standards, when it came to Islām. He should have stayed with Islāmic standards. Don’t portray any gods and goddesses.

MF Hussain sketches Madhuri Dixit from the film - Dil to Pagal Hai.

MF Hussain sketches Madhuri Dixit from the film - Dil to Pagal Hai.

Even Maqbool Fida Hussain cannot be chalk and cheese.

Everything to everyone

Maqbool Fida Hussain rode on the coat tails of  every media-star to gain publicity for himself. Vijay Tendulkar to Madhuri Dixit, Anushka Sharma to Mother Teresa. From Prabhu Deva to MS Subbalakshmi. He quickly made out a silly painting of Mamta Banerji’s election victory in Bengal – to keep himself in media-focus.

Maqbool Fida Hussain has always blown in whichever direction, the wind blows. He tried to be an admirer of playwright Tendulkar (and Sakharam Binder) when Vijay Tendulkar was bigger than Sachin Tendulkar – and supported Indira Gandhi’s Emergency when she was in power. Nandyभाई, Maqbool Fida Hussain cannot be ‘Hindu’ in spirit – and admire Mother Teresa’s blatant superior ‘Christian conversion’ therapy for  inferior ‘Hindus’.

Year - 2006; Bharatmata (Mother India) as a nude woman displayed at an exhibition by Nafisa Ali - an actress-turned-social-worker. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Year - 2006; Bharatmata (Mother India) as a nude woman displayed at an exhibition by Nafisa Ali - an actress-turned-social-worker. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Did I miss MF Hussain standing up for artistic freedom of the Prophet Mohammed cartoonist – or oppose Sarkozy’s hijab ban? Not a word in support of Salman Rushdie? Or why his ‘voluntary’ restraint from subjects that Islam forbids – which was Maqbool Fida Hussain’s own religion?

Did I see a single painting by Maqbool Fida Hussain on Muslim themes – maybe a Battle of Karbala, or Prophet Mohammed’s return to Mecca? Why is it that he wanted all his ‘freedom’ to caricature भारत माता Bharat-mata (Mother India) and ‘teen-deviyaan’?

In India, against ‘Hindus’?

In Qatar he found freedom

Maqbool Fida Hussain, in the same breath, cannot admire भारत माता Bharat-mata, take Qatari citizenship, and in death prefer to be buried in London (actually just outside London). By these actions, Maqbool Fida Hussain proved that all his claims of ‘artistic’ integrity and ‘artistic’ freedom were that much hot air. India lost nothing. It was for Maqbool Fida Hussian to decide if he was losing anything, by going away from भारत माता Bharat-mata.

Maqbool Fida Hussain choice of Qatar as his new country of residence, would not have given him more freedom. Qatar (pop. 3,00,000 lakhs approx.) is slightly larger than Maqbool Fida Hussain’s hometown of Pandharpur (pop. 1,00,000 approx.) but has a GDP which is 10% of India’s GDP – anchored to oil earnings. Did he raise his voice against Qatar’s support to Saudi Arabian troops sent to crush dissent in Bahrain? Or against the forced deportation by Qatar, of Libyan dissident, Eman al-Obeidi – back to Benghazi, Libya?

Picasso’s Art & Practices

Picasso’s (1881-1973) greatest skill was in his self publicity and the way the prices for his paintings were managed. This publicity and price manipulation operation was initially managed by promoters like André Level of the La Peau de l’Ours Art Club (Skin of the Bear group) – for a 20% cut to the artist. Picasso dealt with a number of agents initially – but mainly, Clovis Sagot, Ambroise Vollard, Wilhelm Uhde and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.

Later this promotions were managed by Picasso himself and Paul Rosenberg, his chief agent and a close cabal of people who used media effectively. First among 20th century artists, ‘Picasso was a gifted self-publicist who knew the rules of media manipulation. He openly encouraged a few hand-picked photographers to inhabit the house and studio.’

Family of Saltimbanques |  Pablo Picasso  |  1905 |  Chester Dale Collection 1963.10.190   | Image courtesy - Copyright © 2011 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC  | Click for larger image.

Family of Saltimbanques | Pablo Picasso | 1905 | Chester Dale Collection 1963.10.190 | Image courtesy - Copyright © 2011 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC | Click for larger image.

He fairly flattened journalists by the display of his wealth and connections. Nearly forty years later, Christian Zervos, an art historian and writer, recalls Picasso’s wealth, kept in the vaults of Banque de France. After the Great Depression, when many great fortunes in Europe and USA, had been wiped out, Picassos wealth was in ‘packages, piled one atop another to the height, say, of Picasso . . . And do you know what there was inside? Banknotes! Yes, sir, banknotes, the largest denomination that existed in France then, which was enormous.’

Picasso was an ‘extremely rich and famous man who came pretty near to doing whatever he wanted. The Picasso of the 1920s could charm the king of Spain, mesmerise Proust, shrug off Hemingway. He was news wherever he appeared.’ He could switch between various styles – and painted in ‘Neoclassical styles’ to attract “the patronage of aristocratic circles he encountered through his friendships with two impresarios, the poet Jean Cocteau and Eugenia Errazuriz, a woman of great taste and social prestige.’

Not above making compromises between cubism and surrealism, as his buyers and patrons wanted, he rarely gave press conferences. Instead he plied impresarios, journalists with his socializing, and with his ‘uncanny party trick of drawing a portrait upside-down while sitting opposite its subject so that, as the drawing unfolded, it would appear right-side-up to his inevitably amused subject.’ Hundreds of these Picasso drawings and sketches are scattered across Europe and USA, which he gave way for free.

Femme aux cheveux jaunes, December 1931 | From the Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, New York/Gagosian Gallery | Image courtesy - online.wsj.com | Click for larger image.

Femme aux cheveux jaunes, December 1931 | From the Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, New York/Gagosian Gallery | Image courtesy - online.wsj.com | Click for larger image.

In this he was ably assisted by the presence of his ballerina wife, Olga Khokhlova, a pretty ballerina from St Petersburg, with Diaghlieff’s ballet company, and his agent Paul Rosenberg.

Paul Rosenburg (also an agent of Georges Braque and Henri Matisse) left behind a huge fortune in paintings. Even after losing a vast number of these paintings to the Nazis. Through his son, Alexandre, Paul Rosenberg is the grandfather-in-law of one-time IMF chief, Dominique Strauss Kahn. Picasso’s other significant agents were Ambroise Vollard, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Leonce Rosenberg, and Georges Wildenstein.

Picasso’s mistress of eight years, Marie-Thérèse Walter (who he met at a Paris Metro station) and his wife were also the subject of his many paintings. In recent times, Picasso has even been compared to Princess Diana for his self-publicity. The many women in Picasso’s life added a patina of glamour that many of his competitors lacked.

The French artist Fernande Olivier, as model and muse, bridged Picasso’s Rose Period to Cubism. Miss Khokhlova, in the 1920s, stirred his return to Neo-classicism. The photographer Dora Maar documented and inspired Picasso’s involvement with the Spanish Civil War, including “Guernica” (1937). And the painter and author Françoise Gilot was his chief consort during his postwar period. From 1953 until Picasso’s death, at age 92 in 1973, Jacqueline Roque attended the artist during his ferocious, erotic and peace-loving late phase, in which “Hippie” Picasso, anticipating 1980s Neo-Expressionism, reimagined the Old Masters.

Now, as for paying off the critics, do it. Yes, as much as some critics pretend to not be on the take, they are — in some way or another. The best art critics accepted gifts: Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg. Artists frequently offer me a gift after I’ve written them up. I just take it. I feel I’d insult them or be condescending and inhuman if I said something like, “It’s my policy not to accept gifts.” Lighten up. We’re all in the family.

So be generous in giving gifts, but beware of the greedy opportunists who expect a gift without having the intention of reciprocating, like people attending your openings who ask for a “quick sketch” instead of just an autograph. If you do one, they’ll all line up expecting a freebie. With other artists, it’s best to do straightforward trades instead of gifts. And with friends outside the art world, wait for their birthday or Christmas. (via artnet.com Magazine Features – Ask Mark Kostabi).

Leave alone Prophet Mohammed’s portrait, could he have done a Battle of Karbala painting in Qatar?

Money made him contemptuous of India – and Indians

Maqbool Fida Hussain’s disregard of Indian judicial norms antagonized the courts. His refusal to acknowledge his ‘unwarranted’ liberties with ‘Hinduism’, precipitated matters. A simple statement that he will ‘explore’ ‘Hindu’ themes within norms would have been enough. His arrogant and rough shod dismissal of ‘Hindu’ sentiment, gave an opening to right-wing ‘Hindu’ sentiment.

No double-standards. The simple point that the ‘Hindu’ Brigade wanted. Usually this hunting with hounds and running with hares is called hypocrisy.

Though no one ever accused MF Hussain of being a hypocrite.

Gobbling publicity like Pac-man

Maqbool Fida Hussain never evolved from being a hoardings painter. Except when it came to publicity. His dual standards, his blatant contradictions would have easily made him an object of ridicule. Instead he managed respect and consideration. To manage this amount of media attention, Government attention – even international attention, surely, is some evolution. For one single man.

Maqbool Fida Hussain was finally a gargantuan machine that consumed huge amounts of media attention. His ‘artistic’ talents were surely hugely surpassed by his media management. This publicity and MF Hussain strutting his commercial exploitation of ‘Hindu’ constructs provoked the ‘Hindu’ Brigade’s backlash. His cars, or the striptease that he organized on his birthday (some 25 years ago), reeked of ostentation. Private displays of wealth in India will not arouse reaction. But such ceaseless publicity-seeking …

No wonder people called him India’s Picasso.

Reaction on Ground Zero

Indian Muslims have ignored this issue of ‘artistic freedom’ for ‘Muslims’ at ‘Hindu’ expense. But Indian liberal-progressives, steeped in Western polity, see confrontation and conflict as the answer to such ‘artistic’ restrictions.

Negotiated ‘freedom’ as in भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, is seen as a cop-out.

Related articles

Shyamchi Aai – Bringing up children

Shyamchi Aai - Book Cover from edition by Pune Vidyarthi Gruh Prakashan. Image courtesy - prashantb.wordpress.com. Click for larger image.

Shyamchi Aai - Book Cover from edition by Pune Vidyarthi Gruh Prakashan. Image courtesy - prashantb.wordpress.com. Click for larger image.

Spare the rod

There is an exceptional story from Indian पौराणिक pauranik texts on bringing up children.

Yashoda-ma, Krishna’s foster-mother, angry with Krishna for some prank, asks him to open his mouth, to see what he was eating. After some threats by Yashoda-ma, Krishna finally opens his mouth. And what Yashoda-ma sees is the entire creation in Krishna’s open mouth.

The shadow of Satan

Children, in Indic society, are seen as nandlala नंदलाला and balagopal बालगोपाल. On the other hand, in the Desert Bloc, naughty children a result of Satan’s influence. In Christian theology, children are born in sin. Children in Urdu are admonished for शैतानी shaitani – meaning behave like Satan.

This starkly brings out Indic attitudes compared to Desert Bloc. Reading Jane Eyre (on Adele Varens) or Charles Dickens children, one can see this negative attitude towards children. This was subdued, in modern West, partly and possibly, due Maria Montessori’s avant-garde  ideas on teaching children. Montessori taught the West that children learn during play. Play is part of the learning process, Montessori opined.

English speaking India

In modern times, in India this theme was explored by the Marathi writer, Pandurang Sadashiv Sane (better known as Sane Guruji) in his best-seller, Shyamchi Aayee – Shyam’s Mother.

Except for the fresh coat of oil paint, nothing much has changed in the 8×10 feet cell of Circle 4 in Nashik Road Jail, where Pandurang Sadashiv Sane (better known as Sane Guruji) wrote Shyamchi Aayee – one of the most moving and inspiring works in Marathi literature.

The book deals with his childhood in the Konkan with special emphasis on his mother’s influence on him.

The dimly-lit cell and high prison walls may not be the ideal settings for a writer, but for Sane Guruji (1899-1950) it was just fine. He finished writing the classic inside his prison cell (Circle 4) in just five days, between February 9 and 13 in 1933.

Sane Guruji was sentenced to jail for around one year after he participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930. (via Sane Guruji gets lost in the details, Lifestyle – Sunday Read – Mumbai Mirror).

Still from film - Shyamchi Aai (Image courtesy - http://default19in.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

Still from film - Shyamchi Aai (Image courtesy - http://default19in.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

Spreading ripples

Translated into Hindi, Japanese and English, the book was also made into a film. It won the first national award for Best film. Later on, the film version, triggered a satire, on how a ‘modern’ Shyamchi Mummy behaves.

With such an ideological inheritance, to see India top in female foeticide, makes me search for the external ‘stimulus’ behind this behaviour.

‘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.

Global Health Survey – Ghost In The Machine

June 5, 2011 1 comment
Map of international healthcare attitudes - LSE-BUPA 12 country study

Map of international healthcare attitudes - LSE-BUPA 12 country study

Around 84 per cent of Britons are drinkers – way ahead of the lowest nation, India, where just 27 per cent ever have a tipple – compared with the international average of 71 per cent. (via Why we are the world’s booziest nation: Britons drink more regularly than any other country | Mail Online).

This report by Daily Mail was widely distributed in the Indian print and online media. The Daily Mail report was itself based on a survey of 12 countries, conducted by London School of Economics (LSE), for BUPA, an insurance corporation – with India coverage also.

What happens when more than 500 million have close to zero family life.

What happens when more than 500 million have close to zero family life.

Data before doubt

Since this report came from IANS, further verification was required.

There are a few obvious areas where discrepancies can possibly come into in this survey. For instance, survey possibly measured consumption trends of Western alcoholic beverages.

After all traditional Indian alcoholic beverages are produced in every town and village. In Indian society, orthodox restrictions on consumption of alcoholic beverages apply to less than 30%-35% of the population (Brahmins, Vaishyas and Muslims).

For the balance 65%-70% of the population restrictions on consumption of alcoholic beverages don’t apply. Additionally, there are traditional home-brews that are not possibly reported, measured or estimated. Home brews made like tharra (from sugarcane juice), tadi, arakh (from palm tree sap), daaru (from mahua flowers, hadia, chuak, sonti, (rice-based), chhaang (grain based-barley, millet or rice) pheni (from kaju fruit), grapes, are common all over the country.

Substance use and addiction research in India by Pratima Murthy et al. Click to download PDF file.

Substance use and addiction research in India by Pratima Murthy et al. Click to download PDF file.

But going by some independent studies, this figure seems to hold up. A study which uses a wide data-set, reports 21.4% alcohol usage across India.

Previous posts on tobacco consumption and narcotics have examined this issue from historical basis.

Apparently, the Indian family structure does a better job than the State – in crime control despite a huge illegal gun population and a small police force. Low tobacco consumption in spite of being a large tobacco producer.

Most narcotic drugs were discovered in India – yet drug abuse remains low in India.  During the 1960-1990 period, when gold trade was severely affected, the drugs-transshipment-for-gold pipeline sparked a global crime wave. India became the conduit for drugs from the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent. Yet drug consumption remained a minor problem. Or the huge commercial sex and pornography industry in the West. But, then the Desert Bloc needs people to be ‘single – and far from home’.

Unlike भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

Islamic world changing?

February 28, 2011 19 comments

Does empty rage count as a reason to expose nations to unknown rulers and uncertainty? Unknown devils instead of known devils?

Widespread protests across the Islamic Middle East. Are they for real? (Image courtesy - Times Of India).

Widespread protests across the Islamic Middle East. Are they for real? (Image courtesy - Times Of India). Click for larger image.

Is this change for real?

After two months of protests, two regime changes, it may be time to take a 2ndlook at the developments across the Islamic Middle East. These protests were triggered when,

On Dec. 17, 2010, in the impoverished Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, a street vendor who had been slapped in the face by a policewoman confiscating his wares set himself on fire outside of a government building. The desperate act of the vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, led to protests in the town, which were recorded in video clips posted on YouTube. By the time he died on Jan. 4, 2011, protests that started over Mr. Bouazizi’s treatment in Sidi Bouzid had spread to cities throughout the country.

On Jan. 14, the president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, fled the country he had ruled with an iron hand for 23 years. Less than a month later, Hosni Mubarak, perhaps the most powerful figure in the region, president for 29 years of the largest Arab country, was forced to step down after 18 days of massive demonstrations cost him the support of the military and the United States. (via Middle East Protests (2010-11) – The New York Times).

There has been gushing coverage in the mainstream media on these ‘protests (which) may have now acquired a life of their own’ and ‘sweeping changes … coming to the Arab lands, where authoritarian regimes are the norm’ and how ‘present protests, could be a game-changer’.

While quick to deny the role of the very same media in the West, for events like the Gifford shooting, Western media has been quick to proclaim that Western ‘technology’, especially, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook were behind these protests and regime changes. An overjoyed world of Twitterati, Chatterati, Bloggerati, Paparazzi went ahead and claimed credit for this ‘change’. This was seen as extension of earlier trend like when

Soviet Union collapsed soon after copiers and faxes appeared and information began freely circulating here. The problem, however, is that nobody has proved a cause-effect correlation between fax machines and the Soviet collapse. Nonetheless, leading Western media outlets can’t stop glorifying the Internet and social networks as the new tools for empowering grassroots resistance movements. As President Dmitry Medvedev said last week in Vladikavkaz: “Let’s face the truth. They have been preparing such a scenario for us, and now they will try even harder to implement it.” Medvedev’s reaction shows that the Kremlin is taking the threat very seriously.

After 30 years, a few days of rage will not make a real difference! (Cartoonist - Carlos Latuff).

After 30 years, a few days of rage will not make a real difference! (Cartoonist - Carlos Latuff).

Aladdin’s Lamp – Old despots for new

Covering this wave of protests, CNN correspondents Nadia Oweidat and Cynthia P. Schneider wrote of the ‘the vision articulated in protests, blogs, posts and tweets’ – a vision of a ‘new great awakening is unfolding across the Arab world’.

decades of brutal repression and lack of accountability, governments in the Arab world will be responsible and responsive to their people. They will foster individual freedoms, religious and ethnic diversity, enable economic growth and uphold fair judicial processes

Ringing words – but empty. Specifically, what exactly is the Arab world asking for?

Are Arabs talking of Western style’ democracy’ and ‘freedom‘? Like ‘freedom’ in the USA, with 20 lakh prisoners – the largest prison population in the world? Or ‘religious tolerance’ like single-faith Switzerland where a third mosque with minarets was not allowed? Is it political freedom, like Europe which believes that a two-party collusive democracy is better than one-party conspiring oligarchy?

Maybe, build on ethnic-diversity like the Danes who want to pay Muslims to leave Denmark. Why not even aim for a ‘fair’ legal-system like Britain, where hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested to build a DNA data-bank – ostensibly to help in criminal identification. To be like the West today, that has the lowest levels of diversity – ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. And makes the most noise about freedom and human rights.

How bad were these ‘despots’

Indeed, a case could be made for these stable despots who have sent packing in Tunisia and Egypt. Says Foreign Policy, a US magazine “Tunisia and Egypt have made particularly rapid economic progress in recent years.” In both these countries, people have seen economic progress, without dependence on oil – unlike most of Islamic Middle East. Compared to Turkey’s per-capita, with its imperial past, at US$ 11,500, or oil-inflated Oman’s US$ 25,000 or petro-daddy  Saudi’s US$ 23,300, Tunisia with US$ 9100 per capita and Egypt with US$ 5900 come out favorably. Tunisia or Egypt did not favor the beheading or amputation routine of Iran or Saudi Arabia – or mass-imprisonment regimes like USA, UK or China. Like all modern-State-nations, concentration of wealth is a ‘given’ – regardless of Europe, USA or Islamic Middle-East.

There was neither a shining vision, nor economic necessity, or relative oppression, which triggered these revolts. Instead of an ‘elected’ Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians got Army Rule. Was that a satisfactory or a desirable outcome? Does empty rage count as a reason to expose nations to unknown rulers and uncertainty? Unknown devils instead of known devils? Does a change in government without modifying governance-model make any difference?

Without a viable ‘reason’ for revolt, what made so many people come out in the open?

Translation - 'SoLong suckers!' ( Cartoon courtesy - cagle.com).Click for larger image.

Translation - 'So Long suckers!' ( Cartoon courtesy - cagle.com). Click for larger image.

The trail of the US Plan

We may need to look at Wikileaks to get some real answers. Specifically, a trail of US diplomatic cables. These cables revealed US Administration’s consensus to institute a non-electoral regime change in Egypt. Some of these regime-change organizers from Egypt met in USA, supported by USA, with funds and covert promises of diplomatic support at the right time. Coincidentally, a Google employee, Wael Ghonim, became a spokesman for the protesters at Tahrir Square.

Frank Wisner, former US ambassador to Egypt, an old hand in US Foreign Policy, was sent to Egypt to arrive at modalities of Mubarak’s ouster – “to deliver a specific, one-time message to President Mubarak”.

Wisner has been active on Egypt policy and is said by several Egypt hands in Washington to have pushed to create a group of scholars and academics in Washington to advocate for strengthening ties to the Mubarak regime. That group, which was never fully formed, was to be a counter weight to the bipartisan Egypt Working Group led by the likes of former NSC official Elliott Abrams and the Carnegie Endowment’s Michele Dunne. The Abrams-Dunne group had been pushing for a harder line against Mubarak in the months leading up to the current crisis.

Wisner’s father, Frank Wisner Sr., was the CIA agent portrayed in the film The Good Shepherd. Wisner was previously married to Christine de Ganay, former wife of Pal Sarkozy, the father of French president Nicolas Sarkozy. (via Is Obama’s new Egypt “envoy” too close to Mubarak? | The Cable).

Within days of Mubarak’s ouster, on February 21st, 2011, Frank Wisner’s boss, a senior US diplomat, United States Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns arrived in Cairo.

Time out

After 30 years in power and 82 years of age, Mubarak’s time was over.  Nearly, 2 years ago, Elliot Abrams, associated with shaping US foreign policy, wrote, “Mubarak is 81 years old, so placing all our bets on him–even for so short a time as the three years left to President Obama–is unwise.” Tactically, it was better for US to initiate and control the regime change than allow some ‘random’ political events to determine the outcome in Egypt. Similar logic would apply to  Tunisia. An important cog in the wheel, in each country, were the army establishments in Tunisia and Egypt.

In Tunisia, the refusal of an army general to back Ben Ali and fire on protesters proved to be the turning point. In Egypt, too, the world is waiting to see what the Egyptian army will do.

Egypt’s army is the 10th largest in the world, almost half a million strong, and one of the biggest beneficiaries (along with the Pakistan army) of US military aid. Since 1952, all Egyptian presidents have come from the military. So, even though Mubarak has not been sighted since the protests began, all eyes are actually on the generals. (via Tunisia to Egypt, an Arab upheaval – The Times of India).

The US probably will be able to change Middle East's rulers in the next 2-4 years. Howmuch blood is theonlyopen question? (Cartoon by drybones.com).

The US probably will be able to change Middle East's rulers in the next 2-4 years. How much blood is the only open question? (Cartoon by drybones.com).

Soon after his inauguration, President Barack Obama’s

interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network on Monday was a dramatic piece of public diplomacy aimed at capitalizing on the new American president’s international popularity, though it balanced America’s traditional commitment to Israel, whose security Obama called “paramount”.

“I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries,” Obama said, according to a White House transcript. “My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.”

In Cairo, Obama said ‘the time had come to “speak the truth” and “seek a new beginning.” With most Post WWII regimes at end-point, America needs to break-in a new generation of rulers in the Middle East.

These new rulers need to be better attuned to diplomacy instead of war; economics and alliances instead of revolts and revolutions; economy instead of ideology.

Having softened the Muslim world with a relentlessly aggressive campaign from 1992-2008, the West chose ‘Hussein’ Obama to speak softly – after the Muslim world had seen the big American stick in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia etc.

How important is the gold-holdings of all these Middle East rulers?

Some answers we know. Some we can guess.

But some answers, only time will give.

Carnegie, I can see you

February 25, 2011 3 comments
Time magazine used the Population Explosion idea on its cover. (Picture courtesy - shipbright.wordpress.com).

Time magazine used the Population Explosion idea on its cover. (Picture courtesy - shipbright.wordpress.com).

according to a study by the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Energy. It has concluded that the 13th-century Mongol leader’s bloody advance, laying waste to vast swaths of territory and wiping out entire civilisations en route, may have scrubbed 700m tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere – roughly the quantity of carbon dioxide generated in a year through global petrol consumption – by allowing previously populated and cultivated land to return to carbon-absorbing forest. (via Why Genghis Khan was good for the planet | From the Guardian | The Guardian).

Genocides are good

For some 100 years, the Carnegie Endowment /Institutions has been providing cover, logic and justification for Desert Bloc’s genocidal behaviour. This is yet another example. Genghis Khan was good, because he ‘reduced population’. Hitler was good because he reduced the Jewish population. Churchill was very good – he reduced Indian, Arab, populations. Various American Presidents were also very good. They annihilated the entire Native American Population in the USA. Anglo-Saxon Policy in Australia is good because it has again wiped out Australian Aborigine population.

Before that, the Abbot of Citeaux instructed his followers at the start of the Albigensian Crusade“Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” (Kill them all, God will know his own). “Get gold, humanely if possible, but at all hazards, get gold.” (1511, King Ferdinand of Spain to his conquistadors). Since, it was not possible humanely, the Spanish Conquistadors massacred millions.

These massacres cut green house gas emissions. And this is a double-trick. So, in our outrage at the notion that Genghis Khan’s massacres were good, we don’t reject the fraud of Global Warming Is Bad notion.

Red herrings – the challenge ahead

To get around the ‘problem’ of economic stagnation, the West has created artificial ‘crisis’ situations.

  1. Population Explosion
  2. Global Warming and climate change
  3. Civil Wars in Africa
  4. Islamic Demonization and the spectre of Islamic terrorism
  5. Financial meltdowns

These are major diplomatic offensives using media, academia, events and situations to

  • Maintain superior negotiating positions
  • Define the agenda – which usually means non-substantive issues.

Carnegie, I can see ya!

Churchill quote - I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas ... I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes ... It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gases ; gases can be used which would cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror could be used which would cause great inconvenience, and would spread a lively terror and yet leave no serious permanent effect on most of those affected. (Litctman 1995: 519)

Churchill quote - I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas ... I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes ... It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gases ; gases can be used which would cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror could be used which would cause great inconvenience, and would spread a lively terror and yet leave no serious permanent effect on most of those affected. (Litctman 1995: 519)

Last train out

January 9, 2011 4 comments
EXULTANT Militants waiting to cheer an assassin threw rose petals. (Picture courtesy - nytimes.com; picture by B. K. Bangash/Associated Press)

EXULTANT Militants waiting to cheer an assassin threw rose petals. (Picture courtesy - nytimes.com; picture by B. K. Bangash/Associated Press)

In Pakistan,

the ruling elite cannot be expected to change things because the majority already has one foot out of the door. Most members of the ruling elite have dual nationality, which means that if the situation deteriorates further they can always leave, along with their capital. This saves them from taking responsibility for improving social conditions and the country’s politics for the benefit of all. http://is.gd/krkPC

Who cares …

On 4th January, 2011, Salman Taseer died. Shot dead by his own body guard. His support for non-Islamic minorities in Pakistan coupled with his support for removal of blasphemy laws from statute books angered extremists. Leading to this killing. Salmaan Taseer’s other bodyguards did nothing against the killer. Many ‘powerful people’, afraid, did not attend Taseer’s funeral.

Like this author points out, the State of Pakistan is in the hands of people who have interests, capital, and a life outside Pakistan. Pakistan needs complete, total commitment.

Anybody home?

Another hate crime

On the other side of the world, on Saturday 8th January, 2011, in the advanced world, there was a similar incident. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, during a public event at a Safeway grocery store on the north side of Tucson, was shot.

Call to arms! Against Gabrielle Giffords. What is the diference between USA and Pakistan!

Call to arms! Against Gabrielle Giffords. What is the difference between USA and Pakistan!

Giffords — who in 2006 became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, at 36 — has, for more than a year, been the target of violence-tinged rhetoric from political opponents and of threats that appear to have come from right-wing activists.

Sarah Palin’s political action committee posted a map of the US, showing the locations of the 20 Democratic members of Congress, including Giffords, it was targeting for defeat. Each location was marked by an image of a gun crosshairs.

Palin’s camp dismissed charges that she was encouraging acts of violence, saying she had spoken out against violence. But Giffords herself was one of many who spoke out against the image, telling MSNBC: “When people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”

In June, the campaign of Giffords’ Republican opponent in this year’s midterms, Jesse Kelly, placed an ad that read: “Get on target for victory in November/ Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office/ Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

The website for Kelly, a former US Marine, depicted him with holding an automatic weapon.

Today, Kelly said in a tweet: “We are all deeply saddened by this morning’s shooting. Gabrielle Giffords, the other victims, and their families are in our prayers.”

It is unclear why Gabrielle Giffords was shot. Was is it because she ‘approached the immigration debate in a nuanced fashion, mixing requests for more Border Patrol agents with calls to increase the number of work visas granted to foreigners.’ Or was because she was the first Jewish woman to be elected Congresswoman from Arizona.

Sarah Palin's and the vicious right wing agenda. Chickens come home to roost.

Sarah Palin's and the vicious right wing agenda. Chickens come home to roost.

Desert Bloc parallels

Gabrielle Gifford and Salman Taseer were ‘marked’ for supporting ‘Others’. Christian intolerance, Islamic extremism. Any difference. Sympathy for ‘kaffirs‘ killed Salman Taseer; supporting ‘aliens’ hurt Gabrielle Gifford. USA & Pakistan-Siamese twins?

Pakistan is evading the blasphemy issue. USA will ‘investigate’ if xenophobia behind Gabrielle Gifford attack. Christian intolerance + Islamic extremism = Desert Bloc behavior. Proof  – Attacks on Gabrielle Gifford & Salman Taseer.Last train out

After putting Gabrielle Giffords in the cross, the job of pulling the trigger was left to some 'radical'.

After putting Gabrielle Giffords in the cross-hairs, the job of pulling the trigger was left to some 'radical'.

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