Archive

Posts Tagged ‘slavery’

Ignorant Teaching The Blind: Problem with the Parable

September 7, 2013 3 comments

To rebut shallow readings of Harishchandra story no external logic, data is needed Answers are in the criticism itself.

Advertisement for First Indian movie, ‘Raja Harishchandra’, appeared in Bombay Chronicle on 3rd May, 1913.

Advertisement for First Indian movie, ‘Raja Harishchandra’, appeared in Bombay Chronicle on 3rd May, 1913.

I

ndian ignorance of Bharattantra (the classical Indian political system that governed India) is so colossal that it only be seen when ‘respected’ writers expound on Indian classics in mainstream media – from a position of total ignorance and bias.

From Darkness

Take this. We have today a post on Raja Harishchandra which is being faulted for all the values that it stands against.

Below is an excerpt.

Fifty generations have been told to emulate the virtuous monarch. In order to keep his word, Harish Chandra was prepared to endure the worst possible misery. The nobility of this is emphasised in every retelling. Gandhiji, for example, loved the story and, certainly, he lived by this principle of accepting extreme personal hardship in the pursuit of his moral principles.

What is not emphasised is that Harish Chandra was also prepared to put other people through equally great misery, without consulting them, in order to keep his word. He ruined his family and humiliated his wife by forcing her to strip in public (that particular theme has always fascinated Indians). Apart from the patriarchal assumption that his wife and son were disposable goods, he thought his word outweighed his responsibilities as a family man.

We are not told what happened to the kingdom’s per capita income in the period between his abdication and the divine intervention. Perhaps the place prospered. Perhaps not. Either way, Harish Chandra handed over executive responsibilities and the state’s resources to someone with unknown competencies when it came to making executive decisions, or managing state finances. As an absolute monarch, he did not, of course, consult his subjects on the regime transfer.

The story also contains a raft-load of caste stereotypes and biases. Brahmins are good; Kshatriyas are good; corpse disposers are dirty, unless they are gods or Kshatriyas in disguise. The biases and assumptions offer fascinating insights into the social structure of ancient India: absolute monarchy, absolute patriarchy, caste rigidities and a twisted code that placed personal honour above the well-being of the family, or of entire kingdoms. In itself, this would be only of historical interest.

The scary thing is that Harish Chandra’s behaviour is cited as being worth emulating in 21st-century school textbooks. The negative externalities of his behaviour are ignored even in the modern versions of the story. Caste and patriarchal prejudices are reinforced, and the concepts of democratic consultation and consensus are conspicuous by their absence.

By contemporary moral standards, Raja Harish Chandra was a monster. He should have broken his word and taken whatever punishment the Maharishi handed out, sooner than cause this sort of harm to his family. Nor should he have disposed of state resources in this irresponsible fashion and placed the lives and fortunes of all his subjects in potential jeopardy.

Moral standards change. When you read an old story, you have to cherry-pick the moral lessons you should imbibe from it. Unfortunately, as a nation, we seem to have internalised all the wrong lessons from Raja Harish Chandra.

His laudable commitment to the truth and to keeping his word has fallen by the wayside. But the monumental self-absorption and absolute indifference to the well-being of others that he displayed characterise both our public and private behaviour.

The parable also supposedly teaches us to rely upon divine intervention. Raja Harish Chandra beggared himself and abdicated responsibility for the state’s resources. Only divine intervention put things right again. We emulate him as best we can, by playing ducks-and-drakes with our public finances. Unfortunately, divine intervention is not that reliable when it comes to fixing fiscal deficits.

via Devangshu Datta: The problem with the parable | Business Standard.

Usual Stuff …

The writer of this post, Devangshu Dutta (DD), makes the usual five points.

  1. Rigid caste system
  2. Absolute monarchy
  3. State-controlled economy
  4. Slavery
  5. Self-absorbed Indians

To see how shallow DD’s reading of Harishchandra story is, no external logic or data is needed. All the answers are in the criticism itself.

Caste System: If Raja Harishchandra could from a king become a chandala to a king again, how rigid was the caste system?

In which society, in the history of the world has a king become a king again after having come down in his life to a lowly status as a chandala?

Rajas & Nawabs: What are the marks of absolute monarchy? Grand palaces, monuments, costly wars, humongous treasuries, over-taxed peasants groaning in misery, oppressive police and soldiery, et al.

How many such elements do we find in Indian history for 4000 years after Raja Harishchandra?

From Indus Valley-Saraswati Basin cities till Mughal India how many monuments do we find? Over-taxed peasants make an entry after Mughal India and the British.

Royal Patronage: It may come as a surprise to DD that the ‘Indispensable’ State was not the engine for Indian economic activity till about 100 years ago.

While economies in the Rest of the World depended on royal patronage, Indians had unfettered right to land and gold. Even currency and coinage were not controlled by the kings. So much for DD’s silly argument of ‘absolute’ Indian monarchs.

This ensured that local and national economy did not depend on royal patronage or initiatives.

Unlike in the ‘modern’ ‘free market’ or socialist economies.

Slavery: Slaves have no control over slavery.

From capture to death, slaves have no control over their destiny – and this loss of liberty has State protection. Indian classics have many stories how kings became ‘dasas’ and later freed themselves from the position of ‘dasas’.

Dasas controlled their servitude – whereas slaves cannot. Indian legal texts expounding Bharattantra have no laws that give State protection to slave-owners. India remains the only society in history that has never given legitimacy to slave owners. It appears that slave owning societies were described as asuric societies.

In fact, there is no Indian word for slaves – except imported words.

Self-absorbed Indians: From Matthew Arnold to Max Muller, we have seen how colonial Britain has painted Indians as inward looking.

Factually, from the Indian woman who was the inn-keeper at Babylon to the Yogi who met Socrates, Indians have travelled the world over. Indians are the second largest diaspora in the world today – after the Chinese. Unlike Christopher Columbus or Vasco da Gama who were sponsored by the State, the Indian diaspora has spread across the world at their own risk –

Without State sponsorship.

The skeptical and unbelievers, will have counter-arguments – which is a valid position. But DD’s post seems to show that as far as Indian classics go …

In modern India, we have the blind leading the ignorant.


 

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.

India Non-Violent Struggle? The Myth

December 9, 2010 7 comments
Blaming political opponents is easier. Naxalism is one such trick. For 250 years, the Indian State has not solved this problem.

Blaming political opponents is easier. Naxalism is one such trick. For 250 years, the Indian State has not solved this problem.

The Madhya Pradesh Government are in consultation with the Centre on the action to be taken regarding Maharajah Pravinchandra Bhan Dev, Ruler of the erstwhile tribal State of Bastar in southern Madhya Pradesh. Among the charges against the Maharajah are that he has been inciting the Adivasis who number about eight lakhs to violence. The situation there is very delicate and calls for careful handling. The Adivasis still look upon the Ruler of Bastar as a representative of the Goddess Danteswari Mata in whose name the Maharaja ruled just as the Travancore Maharajahs ruled in the name of Lord Padmanabha. (read more via The Hindu : Today’s Paper / MISCELLANEOUS : This day that age).

Sense of priority

Bastar’s tribal peoples were never the quiet type. The British discovered that early in the day. The newly minted Indian State also discovered this – as this 50 year-old news-item shows. And that can be said for most tribals across the plateau. The tribal disaffection with the idea of the ‘modern’ State has been a permanent feature. It is all credit to the Unlettered Indian (aka The Indian Voter) who has been able to distinguish between shades of power grab.

Militant Maoists are seeking to using this disaffection for a power-grab. Just like Kashmiri terrorists. To impose a worse form of the ‘modern’ State – the Islāmic type in Kashmir or the maoist type in various tribal lands.

Increasing power and spending is the way of all 'modern' States! (Cartoonist - Daryl Cagle)

Increasing power and spending is the way of all 'modern' States! (Cartoonist - Daryl Cagle)

Sense of priority

These same tribals, now branded as Maoists, Naxalites, organized themselves into many armies and fought British armies for more than a 100 years. For the same reasons. Land grabbing by the State. The Indian State would do well to learn from the British experience. Probably, the modern Indian State does not know its own history – and believes in its own propaganda.

Official history, strangely, does not tell us that between 1800-1947, apart from the Anglo-Indian War of 1857, there were more than 75 battles, skirmishes, revolts, mutinies, involving thousands, up to lakhs of Indians, across India. And more than double that many conspiracies, hold-ups, explosions, bombings, which were not organized. These more than 200 violent actions have been completely glossed over by post-colonial India’s historians. Obviously, more than 200 incidents of violent opposition to British misrule over 150 years (1800-1947) deserves better treatment by official historians. Especially, the people who fought most of these battles.

The tribals.

Sense of priority

The Anglo-Mysore Wars, Anglo-Maratha Wars, the Sikh Wars, the Afghan Wars plagued British misrule in India.The 1857 Anglo-Indian Wars were a landmark in opposition to colonialism. These were the major conflicts that continued to blaze across India.

Apart from these major conflagrations, significant opposition to the British misrule came from Indian forest-dwellers and migratory peoples. The Chotanagpur area (Surguja, Ranchi and Hazaribagh areas) passed to the British from Mughals in 1765. War and famine followed. The Bengal Famine of 1770 (1769-1773) was much written and analysed. The Jharkhand area remained on the boil for nearly 150 years after Buxar.

On the conflict side, the Paharia Revolt (1766-1778), by the hill-dwellers of Rajmahal Hills, soon followed. Santhals, opened a wide front against the British. One of the first of many such campaigns, started operations from the Tilapore forest against the British from 1781-1785 – led by Tilka Manjhi (also spelt Majhi). The dates of Tilkha Majhi’s revolt, vary widely – some continuing till 1799. The Tamar revolt (1783-1789) was another revolt in the modern Jharkhand area which occupied British attention in India – while they were fighting the American colonies. The Anglo-Santhal battles continued for the next 100 years. The Kol (also Khol, Khole) continued these insurrections in early 19th century.

Immediately after Buxar, in 1764 Major Hector Munro, who took charge of “the Company’s army, found the sepoys in a state of open revolt. There is no instinct of obedience in native armies in India” complains the English ‘historian’. In 1780, the East India Company faced revolt in Benares from Raja ‘Cheyt Sing’ who was appointed to “furnish the company with three regular battalions of Seapoys” who instead ‘massacred , in cold blood, thirteen of Capt.Wade’s men, who fell into his hands in the Hospital at Mirzapoor’.

If this was not enough, there were the Sannyasi rebellions (1763-1800).

Sense of priority

The only system that will meet the aspirations of the tribals, the Kashmiris, is something that will give them access to ज़र, zar (gold), जन jan (people) and ज़मीन jameen (land). A system that will guarantee the four essential freedoms – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh (liberty) and धर्मं dharma (justice)

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

Karl Marx – A big hit with capitalists

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Karl Marx was a big hit with capitalists

This cartoon shows it all

Faced with a crisis of labour due to abolition of slavery, Europe (specially England) started looking at alternatives for a new economic model. They selected a fugitive theorist, whose theories were creating interest in mainland Europe. Karl Marx. Fearing unrest, some European countries exiled Marx. However, Marx was popular with capitalists and in capitalist nations of Europe – and in the USA.

Communism

Communism awarded a monopoly over slavery to one employer – the State. Single employer, total monopoly (on labour, political power, economic resources), impress the slaves with the glory and future – were the elements of the new political system that Europe devised. This was the only Western ideology that was born out of design. With the demise of slave trafficking, 1832 in Britain; slavery re-introduced in 1802 by France) Europe was concerned about labour and industry.

France, Brussels, Britain etc. took the lead and provided patronage to Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to devise another system – an alternate to slavery. In the next few years, their publications found eager publishers and sold well. Their books, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, The Communist Manifesto (published in) 1848 laid the basis for an alternative to capitalism. Marx and Engels received significant royalties from the sale of their books – and could survive on earnings from their writing careers.

Obviously, Communism could not be ‘sold’ to the designated victims, that they were the new slaves. It had to be ‘bought’ willingly by the ‘target audience’ as yet another ‘level of freedom’. Slavery sold as a promise of freedom – You have nothing to lose but your chains.

The Arctic’s strategic value for Russia

November 3, 2010 2 comments
In this Aug. 24, 2009 picture provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice ahead of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent in the Arctic Ocean. The two ships are taking part in a multi-year, multi-agency Arctic survey that will help define the Arctic continental shelf. Photo: AP; Courtesy-thehindu.com.

In this Aug. 24, 2009 picture provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice ahead of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent in the Arctic Ocean. The two ships are taking part in a multi-year, multi-agency Arctic survey that will help define the Arctic continental shelf. Photo: AP; Courtesy-thehindu.com.

NATO, for the first time, officially claimed a role in the Arctic, when Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told member-states to sort out their differences within the alliance so that it could move on to set up “military activity in the region.”

“Clearly, the High North is a region that is of strategic interest to the Alliance,” he said at a NATO seminar in Reykjavik, Iceland, in January 2009.

Can the West see beyond oil in the next 50 years. Not unless, they are led by their nose. (Cartoonist-Matt Wuerker; Date-25-6-2008; Courtesy-cartonistgroup.com; Copyright-Matt Wuerker).

Can the West see beyond oil in the next 50 years. Not unless, they are led by their nose. (Cartoonist-Matt Wuerker; Date-25-6-2008; Courtesy-cartonistgroup.com; Copyright-Matt Wuerker). Click for larger image.

Since then, NATO has held several major war games focussing on the Arctic region. In March this year, 14,000 NATO troops took part in the “Cold Response 2010” military exercise held in Norway under a patently provocative legend: the alliance came to the defence of a fictitious small democratic state, Midland, whose oilfield is claimed by a big undemocratic state, Nordland. In August, Canada hosted its largest yet drill in the Arctic, Operation Nanook 2010, in which the U.S. and Denmark took part for the first time.

Russia registered its firm opposition to the NATO foray, with President Dmitry Medvedev saying the region would be best without NATO. “Russia is keeping a close eye on this activity,” he said in September. “The Arctic can manage fine without NATO.” The western media portrayed the NATO build-up in the region as a reaction to Russia’s “aggressive” assertiveness, citing the resumption of Arctic Ocean patrols by Russian warships and long-range bombers and the planting of a Russian flag in the North Pole seabed three years ago.

It is conveniently forgotten that the U.S. Navy and Air Force have not stopped Arctic patrolling for a single day since the end of the Cold War. Russia, on the other hand, drastically scaled back its presence in the region after the break-up of the Soviet Union. It cut most of its Northern Fleet warships, dismantled air defences along its Arctic coast and saw its other military infrastructure in the region fall into decay.

(Cartoonist-Chip Bok; Date-23-6-2008; Courtesy-cartonistgroup.com; Image subject to copyright). Click for larger image.

(Cartoonist-Chip Bok; Date-23-6-2008; Courtesy-cartonistgroup.com; Image subject to copyright). Click for larger image.

The Arctic has enormous strategic value for Russia. Its nuclear submarine fleet is based in the Kola Peninsula. Russia’s land territory beyond the Arctic Circle is almost the size of India — 3.1 million sq km. It accounts for 80 per cent of the country’s natural gas production, 60 per cent of oil, and the bulk of rare and precious metals. By 2030, Russia’s Arctic shelf, which measures 4 million sq km, is expected to yield 30 million tonnes of oil and 130 billion cubic metres of gas. If Russia’s claim for a 350-mile EEZ is granted, it will add another 1.2 million sq km to its possessions.

A strategy paper Mr. Medvedev signed in 2008 said the polar region would become Russia’s “main strategic resource base” by 2020. Russia has devised a multivector strategy to achieve this goal. First, it works to restore its military capability in the region to ward off potential threats. Russia is building a new class of nuclear submarines, Borei (Northern Wind) that will be armed with a new long-range missile, Bulava. Navy Chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said recently he had also drawn up a plan to deploy warships in Russia’s Arctic ports to protect polar sea routes. (via The Arctic’s strategic value for Russia By Vladimir Radyuhin.)

Thin ice …

Some sixteen months ago, 2ndlook speculated that West’s redemption may come from oil – from the Arctic. With receding Arctic ice-caps, the West may find itself sitting on large oil reserves. Production from these discoveries may take 10-25 years – climate permitting.

West on the drip - needs Arctic oil. (Cartoon title- Arctic Oil; Cartoon By - Monte Wolverton, Copyright-Monte Wolverton; Date - 3/20/2005 12.00.00 AM). Click for larger image.

West on the drip - needs Arctic oil. (Cartoon title- Arctic Oil; Cartoon By - Monte Wolverton, Copyright-Monte Wolverton; Date - 3/20/2005 12.00.00 AM). Click for larger image.

A big if.

Climate change, I don’t believe in. How long will these weather patterns persist? The West is skating on thin ice – but then what can they do. Slavery is not an option – not for another 50-100 years at least. Dig mother earth, is the second and only option they have believed in.

For the last 3000 years at least.

New fools for old wine in old bottles

August 31, 2010 2 comments

Using GDP numbers you can prove a lot of things. Using history, you can disprove the same economics. Duh!

PT Barnum’s maxim

There is a sucker born ever minute – (more on PT Barnum and on this quote.)

A significant number of Indians are fooled by the ‘achievement’ the West – especially those who are ‘educated’ in English. A few days ago, Mint, a business newspaper carried a post by Manas Chakravarty, who was using an old report by Angus Maddison to support absurd conclusions.

Transatlantic Slave Trade (Table Courtesy - http://www.nps.gov/ethnography/aah/aaheritage/histContextsD.htm)

Transatlantic Slave Trade (Table Courtesy - http://www.nps.gov/ethnography/aah/aaheritage/histContextsD.htm)

Writes Manas Chakravarty,

By 1600, the centre of Europe had shifted northwards and the golden age of Holland had begun. Dutch per capita income was $1,381 in 1600, while Britain in Shakespeare’s time had a per capita income of $974.Recall that 1600 was the year the East India Company was founded. In contrast, India’s per capita income continued to be $550, while China’s was $600. Note that even Ireland, one of the poorest of Western Europe’s countries, had a per capita income of $615, higher than India’s and China’s. In short, the per capita GDP numbers mirror the changes in power, prosperity and cultural and scientific achievement.It wasn’t till 1981 that India had a per capita income of $977, beating that of Britain in 1600. And it wasn’t until 1993 that India’s per capita income of $1,399 surpassed what the Dutch had achieved in 1600. Maddison’s calculations show that in 2008, India’s per capita GDP in 1990 dollars, PPP terms was $2,975, slightly more than one-third of the world average of $7,614. We have a long way to go. (via World history by per capita GDP – Columns – livemint.com).

Basically, Indians are such rotters! That is what Shri Manasbhai Chakravarty is saying, in simple English.

I know a little English, Shri Manasji!

In the light of day

Any reading of history will show how hollow and risible Manasbhai‘s conclusions are.

One problem with economics is the complete lack of ethics. Economists (like Manasji Chakravarty) cannot be bothered with ‘facts’. For them numbers must do the talking and walking. Some ‘good’ economists like Angus Maddisson can even put up a good strip-tease show with numbers. Admirers can view these ‘assets’ admiringly.

Like Manasji Chakravarty seems to be enjoying Angus Maddison’s strip-tease show.

Poster annoucing sale of slaves in the USA.

Poster annoucing sale of slaves in the USA.

General Julius and the Gauls

Take Italian GDP, of which Bhai Manas has a high opinion.

Sum and substance of the Italian Job? Julius Caesar, (he would be an Italian now), loots the Gauls.

What happens?

Economics (and Shri Manasji Chakravarty) will tell us that Italian GDP goes up. What great history and important economic conclusions can we draw from this loot?

Nothing, except that Romans were good at looting others. Let us forget, for now, that after Roman loot, French GDP goes down.

Cynical economists like Angus Maddisson  could point out that Julius Caesar also massacred hundreds of thousands of Gauls. Loss of lives and wealth will have no effect on GDP as both cancel each other out. Since fewer Gauls now have lesser wealth, per-capita GDP will remain static.

Right, Manasji?

The other thing that the Italians (called Romans then) did well, was kill slaves.

After using them.

Rome, the city alone, had a million slaves. Crassus, (full name Marcus Licinius Crassus) a Roman general, was very good at killing slaves. Crassus was himself, finally, killed at Indian borders – when he made the mistake of thinking that Indians would be easy targets for loot and enslavement.

Crassus, Julius Caesar’s patron-in-chief,  lined Rome’s highway, Via Appia with the bodies of 6,000 slaves. A lesson for revolting slaves. The French, Spanish and the Brits also learned their Roman lessons well, history tells us.

Too well, I say!

Learn your lessons

Soon, it was the turn of the French. The Spanish and the British also. To start the killing.

Increase productivity in Manasbhai’s words.

And time for Native Americans and Australian aborigines to die.

The West (the French, Spanish and the British were very good at this) ‘imported’ at least 10 million, maybe even 20 million slaves, from Africa into West-controlled territories. Economic output of the West goes up! (What else did you expect.).

The output of these slaves is included in Western GDP calculations. But slaves are excluded from census calculation! The lives of African slaves and the deaths of Native Americans are excluded from this economics. But Western GDP goes up. That is what the ‘numbers’ tell.

And good job says, Shri Manasji Chakravarty.

What can I say! Apart from pointing out that Manasji Chakravarty is wasting a lot of wood-pulp.

Most probably from modern Norway.

You can always get slaves! Why bother about people?

You can always get slaves! Why bother about people?

Optical illusion in economics

Norway! My favorite ‘case’ study in modern economics.

Modern Norway does two things very well.

One – they exploit nature very well. Dig up the earth to extract aluminum, cut down forests, and suck oil from the North Sea.

Two – all  Norwegians over-pay each other.

Over-paid taxi-drivers pay huge amounts for a haircut. Over-paid waiters fork out fancy amounts for a car-wash. And so on. Compared to, say Indians, Norwegians are paid some 10-20 times more.

A waiter in Mumbai earns between 125-200 dollars. A Norwegian waiter earns closer to US$1500-2000 per month. Both do the same job and the net economic output should not change. But it does. What Norway does is overstate Norwegian economic output – by over-paying everybody.

Democracy, you see!

This economic ‘trick’ creates a brilliant optical illusion. Of higher wages, profits, turnover, prices – and GDP. Now replace Norway, with any Western economy.

Same story and the plot does not change.

Old wine, old bottle … new fools

This great science of economics has another trick up its sleeve. Norway’s manufacturing out-put is a gargantuan, awesome, jaw-dropping 1 percent of Norway’s annual GDP.

So, Shri Manasji Chakravarty, before you massage numbers and get an ‘erection’ of fancy conclusions, like your ‘guru’ Angus Maddisson does, look behind those numbers.

Take a 2ndlook.

Reinvented narrative

After WWII (1939-1945), using favorable US-dollar  exchange rates, Europe climbed out of rubble and destruction. Recovering from 50 years of bloodshed, faced with the rise of USA and a certain liquidation of their colonial empires, Europe needed to reinvent their history.

One task for this new narrative was to explain the rise of the West. A plausible econo-metric modelling effort from the 1970’s was led by a British economist, Angus Maddison. This model explained away Europe’s economic growth to increased ‘productivity.’

Eyes closed, mouths agape

This study gained some following in India also. India, this analysis estimated, for the last 1000 years, accounted for 50% of the world economy and a world trade share of 25% for much of the 500 years during 1400-1900. The real problem with this study was the trojans that came with this model.

40 years after this report first came out, Indians still cannot use this report critically.


%d bloggers like this: