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Europe’s new headache – Designer Drugs

August 1, 2010 6 comments

Though India is the world’s oldest and largest producer of drugs, Indian society does not have an drug-addiction problem. Wonder why?

A still from Apocalypse Now - a film full of surreal images like this.

A still from Apocalypse Now – a film full of surreal images like this.

European countries are scrambling to crack down. The U.K., Sweden and Germany all recently banned one of the most popular drugs, mephedrone, or Meow Meow, which first appeared in 2007. The U.K. last week announced a ban on naphyrone, or NRG-1, which surfaced after the mephedrone ban.

But authorities are having a hard time keeping up with all the new concoctions. As soon as one is banned, another appears, they say. Last year, 24 new “psychoactive substances” were identified in Europe, almost double the number reported in 2008, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which keeps European Union policy makers informed on the state of drug use.

European authorities say some of the drugs are cooked up in China, where they say lax control of chemicals makes it easier for manufacturers to obtain the raw ingredients. (via Designer Drugs Baffle Europe – WSJ.com).

Guns and crime

Gun ownership has been suspected behind the crime rates in the US. But the most recent argument against this theory is the spate of bank robberies – which dilutes this argument – at least partly. Estimates of the national stock of guns in the US varies between 40 million to 50 million households which own 200 million guns.

India nukes the gun-control logic! (Click for larger image.).

India nukes the gun-control logic! (Click for larger image.).

India is, in many ways, different. Recent estimates show that India is the second largest gun owning population in the world – with 4.6 crores (46 million) guns. One report states that UP alone has 900,000 licensed fire-arm holders and 1,400 arms dealers. Another report estimates more than 3 lakh illegal firearms in New Delhi alone.

Behind every great fortune …

In modern times, though India is a power in computing industry, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virus. In August 2008, there was a hoax story, which alleged that an Indian hacker, had broken into a credit card database – and sold to the European underworld – and some ‘experts’ feared that this would spark of a crime wave across Europe.

Like software, India has a large domestic, industrial base in advanced pharmaceuticals. With pharma firms exports to the developing world and with subsidiaries in the Western world, Indian pharma companies have posed a threat to Western pharma firms. The Western pharma industry’s dependence on ever-greening their patents for continued prosperity has hit a wall with the growth in Indian challenge.

How come Indian expertise in pharma manufacturing not getting diverted to ‘designer-drugs’?

How is it that Indian guns don’t kill, Indian software experts don’t spread malware and Indians pharma-engineers don’t lead in narcotics production?

There is crime

The largest prison population in the world is in USA, now at 2 million. The US has more people in prison than the totalitarian regimes of Russia or China. USA also has one of the highest crime rates in the world.

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

The ‘Desert Bloc’ societies are great believers in the death sentence. On the other, year after year, India has had the lowest numbers of death sentences – and executions. For instance, the ‘Grand Debate’ in the US of A, is as schizophrenic as it can get.

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

All the indices …

All the 5 indices (below) create a bias for a lawless Indian society and rampant crime. With these five indices, namely: –

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

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

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

A wrong question can only get you the wrong answers! Guns are the subject.

A wrong question can only get you the wrong answers! Guns are the subject.

When the State commissions crimes!

Behind every great fortune there is a crime – Honoré de Balzac.

For many centuries, piracy, slavery, were encouraged, licensed by European States.

Balzac’s statement only be understood with that background. Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness. A book examines this phenomenon tangentially – when a ‘licensed’ fighter goes ‘private’! In Asia. Like Britons did in India.

Remember O’Dyer and O’Dwyer!


The misguided war on drugs – Deepak Lal

March 21, 2010 2 comments

The War on Drugs - Vested Interests

The War on Drugs - Vested Interests

The British empire had not merely tolerated but promoted the opium trade with China from its Indian base as a means to balance its large incipient trade imbalance with the Chinese. The opium wars in China in the 19th century were fought to protect this … trade, through the legalisation of the importation of opium by the treaty of Tientsin in 1858. By the beginning of the 20th century, 23.3 per cent of the male and 3.5 per cent of the female adult Chinese population were opium users, consuming between 85-95 per cent of the global opium supply.

… Having failed in its avowed aim of reducing drug consumption in the US and the UK, the supply-control measures have created a large global illegal economy where trafficking in illegal goods — from drugs to arms to humans — has led to a vast shadow global economy … the extent of international money laundering is estimated to be between 2-6 per cent of world GDP. The total global retail value of illicit drugs was estimated to be $322 billion, just over 4 per cent of global licit exports. In Afghanistan, the gross profits of Afghan opium traffickers were estimated in 2006 to be $2.3 billion — nearly 33 per cent of the country’s GDP. The net effect of these international supply-control measures is to create narco states, as in the coca-growing states of the Andes. The drug wars and the accompanying corruption to garner the massive illegal profits in this illicit trade are now reaching the borders of the US as Mexico’s democracy is being gradually undermined by the drug-lords. The US foreign policy goals are thus continually being undermined by its War on Drugs.

The proportion of chronic drug users in the world is small, as is the use of opiates (from 0.7 per cent in Europe to 0.4 per cent in the Americas, of their adult population). via (Deepak Lal: The misguided war on drugs).

New global order

This was an interesting post. While the Oil and Terror linkage is much talked about, the global footprint of the drug trade is overlooked. As controls on gold sparked a global crime wave, the war on drugs is sparking another crime wave – a wave of terror. When the West wanted they imposed Opium Trade in the name of open markets. When the West wanted they declared a war on drugs. Either way, someone else is paying.

Will the new world order address these issues?

Gold and drugs .. and India

The world pays for the US war on drugs!

The world pays for the US war on drugs!

The opening of the gold trade across the world during 1973-1993 (especially in India) damped down the power of the Indian Underworld. The other leg on which the Indian underworld stands, is drug trade.

Three things strike me as interesting: –

  1. All the major drugs in the world came of India – opium is afeem, khus-khus पोस्त; cannabis is charas, ganja, marijuana, hashish. Heroin is a derivative of opium. Even, as Indians are significant (legal) producers, they are not high on consumption lists. However, drugs never became a big problem in India. Unlike in China, or in Medieval Middle East (when drug crazed criminals called hashishis became assassins). All these drugs were introduced to the world by India – with records going back to 1000 BC. In modern times, Indian gold smuggling was funded by carriage and export of drugs.
  2. Most of the world’s drug production (based on opium and cannabis) still happens in India and neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia. Yet, India is not a major consumer.
  3. Till the 80’s, these substances were available in India, through ‘licensed’ outlets.

On the other hand, the heavy-handed legal approach of criminalizing possession of drugs has yielded no results.

Hemp and Wootz

Al-biruni described the making of Wootz steel, (now called the Hyderabad process). How did the Wootz steel (famous Indian steel) makers obtain high temperatures without machine driven blowers? This has puzzled modern technologists. Hemp (cannabis) ropes were used to test steel blades made of Wootz. Wootz blades were tempered in hemp oil. Interestingly, chillum temperatures can reach 500-600 degrees centigrade with rapid and eager puffing.

Was hemp plant (cannabis) used to stoke Wootz steel furnaces?

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