Archive

Posts Tagged ‘History’

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

Advertisements

Adiga’s Vacuum Theorem

August 26, 2011 3 comments

Arvind Adiga (hereafter Adiga-bhau), ‘winner of the £50,000 Man Booker prize’ makes a complete hash in a lengthy book review. Reading Arvind Adiga for the first time, I am surprised at the man’s obtuseness. Adiga writes,

Post-British Raj India had a difficult choice - which political system to choose! (Cartoon by RK Laxman; courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

Post-British Raj India had a difficult choice - which political system to choose! (Cartoon by RK Laxman; courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

French gives us vivid sketches of the peculiar, gifted men and women of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty – India’s Julio-Claudians – who governed the country until the 1990s, managing simultaneously to keep India democratic and united, while running its economy into the ground.

French follows the political sketches with portraits of the Indian businessmen who struggled to survive in the socialist economy that their politicians made for them – and who then burst free, with entrepreneurial vigour, when these controls were eased in the 1990s.

To keep falling for this promise, election after election, millions of Indian voters must be utter morons – and not the smart budding world-conquerors that French describes them as. (via India: A Portrait by Patrick French – book review | Books | The Observer).

British Raj – The Golden Age

If the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty were responsible for ‘running its economy into the ground’ is Adiga-bhau implying that the dynasty started with a prosperous and well-run Indian economy – which the dynasty ruined.

I wonder which history book Adiga-bhau reads? Which school taught Adiga-bhau this history? And if it just bad English, who decided to give him that Rs.30 lakh award?

From an India, which was a ship-to-mouth basket case, in 1950, to an emerging power, in 2010, seems to be have been a facile and an easy experience – and little credit is given to Indian political leadership for managing the post-colonial Indian system.

In this case, is it because Adiga-bhau forgets the state of Indian economy in 1950-1980?

At least in the 60s and the 70s, India was long on promise and short on performance. To imply now that the British Raj was better? Cartoon by RK Laxman. Click for larger image.

At least in the 60s and the 70s, India was long on promise and short on performance. To imply now that the British Raj was better? Cartoon by RK Laxman. Click for larger image.

Indian businessman. Patriotic …?

Coming to Adiga-bhau’s other point of ‘businessmen who struggled to survive in the socialist economy’ makes me hoot. As in laughter and cackle.

May be Adiga-bhau should keep his computer shut. After all, why take pains to prove himself to be an ignoramus?

Did anyone tell him about the Bombay Plan of 1944? India’s leading industrialists of the time proposed the Bombay Plan, which suggested a major role for the Indian State in independent India. Remember, way back in 1944,

the plan was put together by the who’s who of Indian industry (JRD Tata, GD Birla, Kasturbhai Lalbhai, Purshottamdas Thakurdas and Shri Ram) as well as top technocrats such as John Matthai, Ardeshir Dalal and AD Shroff (Matthai, who drafted the document, later became India’s Finance Minister). It was, in fact, half a Tata team. All three technocrats were working with the Tatas. Thirdly, and most importantly, what made everyone sit up and take notice of the Bombay Plan was its approach. Believe it or not, this capitalist-heavy team advocated government intervention and regulation. Words such as control, licenses and allotment were used in a manner no Indian capitalist has used ever since. Part II came a year later.

Left parties, politicians on the Right, Gandhians – all found fault with the Bombay Plan. But, India’s official planning documents that came out 4 years later in 1948, were very similar to the Bombay Plan.

So, much for business which struggled, Adiga-bhau!

A British War poster of 1939. British war poster of 1939. Just 8 years before independence. British racism and attitude towards 'Brown' Indians was discriminatory. Like this poster displays. Click for larger image.

A British War poster of 1939. British war poster of 1939. Just 8 years before independence. British racism and attitude towards 'Brown' Indians was discriminatory. Like this poster displays. Click for larger image.

Soon after WWII

From 1950, Britain still a major economy and a super-power, a victor of WWII, sent its best economists to advise the Indian Government.

They came from the leading Cambridge School, led by the redoubtable Joan Robinson, the keeper of Keynes’ ideological flame – and the group became famous as the Cambridge School. Apart from Cambridge School economists, other leading economists from all over the world came to India.

Long list, Big names

Among them was Harold Laski, of the London School of Economics, and Nicholas Kaldor and John Strachey from Britain. Not a few, but many American economists were sent to India, including Oskar Lange and Michael Kalecki (technically from Poland, but associated with US universities). Prominent among the American group were Neil Jacoby and Milton Friedman.

Apart from the Who’s Who of the world of economics many other big names like Paul N. Rosenstein-Rodan, Arnold Harberger, Richard Eckhaus, Alan Manne, James Mirlees, Ian Little, Charles Bettelheim, Brian Reddaway, Ragner Frisch, Richard Goodwin, Wassily Leontief and Jan Tinbergen – all came to India. Quite a few of these visits were financed by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations.

Many of these economists were neededto ‘sell’ the Indian point of view to the Western institutions like World Bank and IMF. And later the Aid India Consortium.

More than 30 years after this  cartoon, solar power is still not competitive. The West controlled technology, financial markets and raw material sources. Plus they had the killing machines like CIA, Mosssad. Just in case you stepped out of line. (Cartoon by Mike Peters; cartoon from the book-cover of SolarGas by David Hoye, published in 1979. Image courtesy - http://jimsbikeblog.wordpress.com) Click for larger image.

More than 30 years after this cartoon, solar power is still not competitive. The West controlled technology, financial markets and raw material sources. Plus they had the killing machines like CIA, Mosssad. Just in case you stepped out of line. (Cartoon by Mike Peters; cartoon from the book-cover of SolarGas by David Hoye, published in 1979. Image courtesy - http://jimsbikeblog.wordpress.com) Click for larger image.

Unhappy endings

Apart from the Cambridge School economists, the other big name was the leader of the Chicago School. Milton Friedman.

Unhappy at the reception to his proposals, Milton Friedman went for greener climes. Specifically, Chile.

Chile’s descent into the hands of a military junta, the human rights abuses, the political assassinations are the stuff of a Le Carre novels – except it was all real. And they happened under Milton Friedman’s very nose.

Sad and real, Adiga-bhau!

Neil Jacoby became advisor to another dictatorship – Taiwan.

The summer of hunger and poverty

Joan Robinson, it is claimed, used to say,The frustrating thing about India is that whatever you can rightly say about India, the opposite is also true.” Joan Robinson felt that in India the ‘problem is so formidable, that the mind boggles at it’.

Was it surprising that ‘more than half the world’s planning models were probably about India.’ And economists remembered Joan Robinson appearing dressed in a saree, at a conference in Europe.

British propaganda poster, promoting the 'special relationship' among Anglo-Saxon Bloc members. Was it possible for Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to confront the Anglo-Saxon Bloc in the 1950s and 1960s. Image courtesy - http://bertc.com. Click for a larger image.

British propaganda poster, promoting the 'special relationship' among Anglo-Saxon Bloc members. Was it possible for Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to confront the Anglo-Saxon Bloc in the 1950s and 1960s. Image courtesy - http://bertc.com. Click for a larger image.

The Ugly American

Post-War Europe itself, went down the way of planned economies – with some hilarious implementations.

Academic disagreement was battened down by threats and violence. Nehru appeared in CIA assassination lists.

It is unclear if it was Stalin’s lukewarm response to Nehru’s overtures or the alleged CIA plot against Nehru in 1955, temporarily Nehru did get close to Eisenhower.

The subsequent killing of Patrice Lumumba, the assassination of Salvador Allende or the ongoing coup in Iran, managed by USA and UK made these assassination fears real. One must not forget, (if one knows), that the price for independence was (and still is) CIA assassination or a regime change by USA.

For instance, the Shah of Iran worked against his own nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq – to protect Western Oil interests. To turn public opinion,

declassified documents detailing the 1953 U.S. overthrow of Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq reveal that something actually called the “CIA Art Group” produced cartoons to turn public opinion against the democratically elected leader.

The CIA, led by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., and the British intelligence, launched Operation Ajax. Finally, in 1979, the Shah was replaced by the regressive regime of Ayatollah Khomeini, which has taken Iran out of the USA orbit.

The real story, Adiga-bhau!

The Stick … and the carrot

Western aid was tied to India following Western advice. This continued to happen – at least till 1991. For instance, MJ Akbar quotes how American influence was behind Manmohan Singh’s appointment in 1991.

Really, Adiga-bhau!

India’s post-colonial choices were a mix of pragmatism, necessity and accepted wisdom of the times – and Western pressures and influences that are responsible for more than a fair share of guilt in these wrong choices.

This is scene from Kolkatta in 1943. Just 4 years before independence. Millions died, like flies, on the streets of Kolkatta, and across Bengal. Is this the economy that that the Nehru-Gandhi run into ground?

This scene from Kolkatta in 1943. Just 4 years before independence. Millions died, like flies, on the streets of Kolkatta, and across Bengal. Is this the economy that the Nehru-Gandhi run into ground?

Insult – but was there injury

Western media and academia conveniently forgets that Western institutions like World Bank, IMF, stampeded India (and Nehru), into some of these bad choices – which the West now claims were India’s own choices in the first place.

For instance, one of the worst choices made by India, tied to World Bank, IMF and US aid, was to follow the infamous population control policy. Blaming Nehru-Gandhi has become an article of faith in modern India.

But is it justified?

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!

Tendu leaves – How Maoist-Govt Cabal loot Adivasis

June 13, 2011 3 comments
The Maoists-Naxals are fighting the Government for rights to extract from the adivasi. The adivasis have a choice. Pay protection money to the Government or to Maoists-Naxals. (Cartoon by Morparia; courtesy - development-dialogues.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

The Maoists-Naxals are fighting the Government for rights to 'exploit' the adivasi. The adivasis have a choice. Pay protection money to the Government or to Maoists-Naxals. Right now they are paying both - the State and the Maoist Naxal. (Cartoon by Morparia; courtesy - development-dialogues.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

Dried tendu leaf used fo rolling bidis.

Dried tendu leaf used fo rolling bidis.

Governments and tobacco

Globally four major companies and government monopolies control a US$400 billion trade in cigarettes. These cigarette monopolies, directly or indirectly controlled by governments, take away US$1 from every  US$175 that people earn. China and USA are leaders in this extortion game.

Tobacco – India Govt.’s ‘innovation’

The Indian State also, on a much smaller scale,  replicates this same mechanism. Since Indians consume tobacco in a traditional, non-industrial manner, the Indian State changes the method of extortion. Apart from tobacco, the main ingredient of bidis, is tendu leaf. Tendu leaf is used to roll the tobacco in. While tobacco farmers are exempt from income tax, adivasis have to sell all their produce to the State. For which the State pays them wages. A newspaper reports

TENDU LEAVES, A major forest produce used for making bidis, is the main source of income for the tribal people in Chhattisgarh.  (Photo source and courtesy - hinduonnet.com).

TENDU LEAVES, A major forest produce used for making bidis, is the main source of income for the tribal people in Chhattisgarh. (Photo source and courtesy - hinduonnet.com).

Over the last two decades, the graph of tendu patta wages has shot up. This year, the Chhattisgarh government raised the wage rate from 70 paise to 80 paise per bundle of 50 leaves. But collectors like Bargu earned higher wages (Rs 1.05 paise) courtesy the Maoists. As the parallel authority in large parts of Bastar, they fix wages and even a system of wage payment.

For instance, officially, the state government’s minor forest produce federation auctions each lot of tendu leaves. Traders or contractors pay a sale price to the federation. A portion is sent to the federation’s field managers, who are supposed to disburse it as wages to the adivasis. But, in reality, the managers simply hand the money back to the contractor, who adds an extra wage amount fixed by the Maoists and sends his own staff to pay off the collectors.

“In our areas, we bargain with the contractor every year, and get a higher price for the adivasis,” says Gudsa Usendi, Maoist spokesperson. ”Last year, it was Re 1. This year it’s between Re 1.05 to Re 1.20. This way, we have stopped the exploitation of adivasis.”

That’s not an empty boast — but it’s only partially true. The Maoists have wrangled higher wages for the adivasis and expanded their support base, but they have also obtained higher levies for themselves. Most traders refused to divulge exact amounts, some reluctantly offered a rough range: 5-10% of the sale price. For one Rs 1 crore, that works out to Rs 5-10 lakh.

“The market of tendu leaves is not less than Rs 2,000 crore,” says K Sadavijaya Kumar, of the Association of Beedi leaf traders. Given that at least a quarter of the tendu growing areas appears to be under Maoist control, the amount of levies could run into crores.

By maintaining a monopoly over the ownership and sale of leaves, the state earns revenue. In 2009, Chhattisgarh Minor Forest Produce Federation made Rs 256 crore from tendu leaves. Rs 189 crore was paid to the collectors, and Rs 66 crore retained by the federation. (via Tendu leaves little hope for tribals – The Times of India).

Tendu leaves

Tendu leaves

And the Maoist- Naxalites are fighting with the State for ‘exploitation-of-adivasis‘ rights. From being owners of India’s forests, under भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, the adivasis have become wage earners. By this one single action, the State has impoverished crores of adivasis. Such are the reasons for Indian poverty – The Indian State.

And the Maoist- Naxalites are fighting with the State for ‘exploitation-of-adivasis‘ rights.

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.

Karl Marx on the opium trade

June 7, 2011 1 comment
Faced with a labour crisis after slave revolts, Europe (specially England) needed alternatives for a new 'slavery' model. A fugitive theorist - Karl Marx. Capitalists and capitalist nations of Europe loved – especially the USA.. Click for bigger image.

Faced with a labour crisis after slave revolts, Europe (specially England) needed alternatives for a new 'slavery' model. A fugitive theorist - Karl Marx gave a model for 'slavery'. Capitalists and capitalist nations of Europe loved – especially the USA.. Click for bigger image.

Marx on the Opium trade

Some 150 years later, Karl Marx’s commentary on the opium trade remains relevant.

Much loved by the capitalists of his time, Karl Marx analyzed opium trade well.

Nurtured by the East India Company, vainly combated by the Central Government at Pekin, the opium trade gradually assumed larger proportions, until it absorbed about $2,500,000 in 1816. The throwing open in that year of the Indian commerce gave a new and powerful stimulus to the operations of the English contrabandists.

In 1820, the number of chests smuggled into China increased to 5,147; in 1821 to 7,000, and in 1824 to 12,639. Meanwhile, the Chinese Government, at the same time addressed threatening remonstrances to the foreign merchants, punished the Hong Kong merchants, (with) more stringent measures. The final result, like that in 1794, was to drive the opium depots from a precarious to a more convenient basis of operations.

The trade shifted hands, and passed to a lower class of men, prepared to carry it on at all hazards and by whatever means. Thanks to the greater facilities thus afforded, the opium trade increased during the ten years from 1824 to 1834 from 12,639 to 21,785 chests.

The year 1834 marks an epoch in opium trade. The East India Company lost its privilege of trading (and) had to discontinue and abstain from all commercial business whatever. It being thus transformed from a mercantile into a merely government establishment, the trade to China became completely thrown open to English private enterprise which pushed on with such vigour that, in 1837, 39,000 chests of opium, valued at $25,000,000, were successfully smuggled into China, despite the desperate resistance of the Celestial Government.

We cannot leave without singling one flagrant self-contradiction of the Christianity-canting and civilization-mongering British Government. In its imperial capacity it affects to be a thorough stranger to the contraband opium trade, and even to enter into treaties proscribing it.

Yet, in its Indian capacity, it forces the opium cultivation upon Bengal, to the great damage of the productive resources of that country; compels one part of the Indian ryots to engage in the poppy culture; entices another part into the same by dint of money advances; keeps the wholesale manufacture of the deleterious drug a close monopoly in its hands; watches by a whole army of official spies its growth, its delivery at appointed places, its inspissation and preparation for the taste of the Chinese consumers, its formation into packages especially adapted to the conveniency of smuggling, and finally its conveyance to Calcutta, where it is put up at auction at the Government sales, and made over by the State officers to the speculators, thence to pass into the hands of the contrabandists who land it in China.

The chest costing the British Government about 250 rupees is sold at the Calcutta auction mart at a price ranging from 1,210 to 1,600 rupees. But, not yet satisfied with this matter-of-fact complicity, the same Government, to this hour, enters into express profit and loss accounts with the merchants and shippers, who embark in the hazardous operation of poisoning an empire.

The Indian finances of the British Government have, in fact, been made to depend not only on the opium trade with China, but on the contraband character of that trade. Were the Chinese Government to legalize the opium trade simultaneously with tolerating the cultivation of the poppy in China, the Anglo-Indian exchequer would experience a serious catastrophe. While openly preaching free trade in poison. it secretly defends the monopoly of its manufacture. Whenever we look closely into the nature of British free trade, monopoly is pretty generally found to lie at the bottom of its “freedom.” (via Karl Marx in New York Daily Tribune Articles On China, 1853-1860 Free Trade and Monopoly; linking text in parentheses supplied; parts excised for brevity and relevance).

‘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.

%d bloggers like this: