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Posts Tagged ‘Winston Churchill’

WWII Propaganda: 70 years later

October 31, 2011 2 comments

Ceaseless propaganda – the one weapon that the Desert Bloc never tires of using. 70 years after the start of WWII, the propaganda continues.

At least this Nazi was correct about Churchill. The caption: “I am the friend of all the small countries!” Winston Churchill removes his mask. A standard Nazi propaganda argument was that England used smaller nations, tossing them aside when they were no longer useful.  Source and courtesy : bytwerk.com). Click for larger image.

At least this Nazi was correct about Churchill. The caption: “I am the friend of all the small countries!” Winston Churchill removes his mask. A standard Nazi propaganda argument was that England used smaller nations, tossing them aside when they were no longer useful. Source and courtesy : bytwerk.com). Click for larger image.

Trade wars are, perhaps, the most serious threats to the global economic order. Because of that, they are also the least likely. So, while the current rumblings in Beijing and Washington may lead to increased frictions, even economically ignorant politicians will not do anything drastic.

Both Germany and Japan tried in the 1930s to limit unemployment and political vulnerability by maximising domestic production and restricting imports. But, since World War II, economic activity has increasingly crossed political borders. (via Mutually assured destruction).

Is this plain ignorance?

Given that Reuters is a British news agency, the propaganda motive can never be discounted. The author forgets that Germany, home of the automobile (inventors of petrol and diesel engines, and the motor car itself), Italy and Japan were significantly industrialized countries before WWII. These countries were shut out of colonial markets with high tariff barriers by Britain and France.

In India

Even after crippling tariffs, industry from Germany, Italy and Japan was able to stand up to British and French products. For instance during the Great Depression, the British Raj imposed a towering 75% duty on Japanese mill cloth to India – which was becoming highly popular. In turn the Japanese stopped buying cotton from India. British mills made a killing by then buying Indian cotton at throwaway prices.

What of the Lees-Mody Pact?

While the Churchill Norman extraction of gold continued to bleed the Indian peasant, such trade barriers further damaged the Indian economy. Edward Hadas surely knows this.

Why this propaganda – 70 years after the start of WWII?

Champions at Genocide – Taimur Leng and Churchill

December 31, 2010 7 comments
Cartoonist Leslie Illingworth's faithfully reproduces Churchill's views on India. (Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Published - Daily Mail, 20 May 1947).

Cartoonist Leslie Illingworth's faithfully reproduces Churchill's views on India. (Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Published - Daily Mail, 20 May 1947).

Hitler believed that the so-called Nordic race, which in his view included Germans and Britons, was destined to rule the world. He sought to emulate, not supplant, the British Empire: the German empire would comprise the Slavic countries to the east. As he saw it, the United Kingdom would retain its colonies but assume the role of Germany’s junior partner in world domination. (read more via Churchill’s Dark Side: Six Questions for Madhusree Mukerjee—By Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine).

Eat what you can digest

Looking at the lukewarm  coverage, desultory reporting and the general indifference to Madhusree Mukerjee’s masterly work on the Bengal Famine, I am drawn to some intriguing conclusions.

‘Modern’ Indians can be satisfied with perception and propaganda. Easier to digest, I presume. Empirical evidence be damned. Between the Rightist Islamic-atrocities and the Marxist effete-feudal theologies, Indian history suffers. At this rate, India will become another case of ‘forget-nothing-learn-nothing’.

Indian military might

The commentators are very enamored by ‘victims-of-Islamic-atrocities’ narrative – even though India’s military might would have reduced these ‘invasions’ to extensive plunder-pillage-massacre expeditions. In the few cases where these ‘invasions’ were able to consolidate, the regimes were short-lived.

British jaziya tax?

The crippling taxes that these Islāmic ‘invaders’ were able to impose, were less crippling than Western colonial extraction. At the end of the Mughal Raj, India was still a formidable economy. Even after, the Mughal rulers had bloated their treasury to the largest in the world. By the time the British were sent packing, Indians were left struggling for roti-kapda-makaan.

Taimur and Churchill

The Delhi massacre of Taimur Lame, the Mongol looter accounted for less than 2 lakh victims (most estimates are 1,00,00). The Bengal Famine engineered by the British accounted for 40-50 lakh victims (British estimates are 10,00,000-20,00,000). Taimur was a Hindu-hating Islāmic plunderer. Churchill and the British Raj oozed the milk of human kindness? From every pore and orifice of their bodies?

Westernization – the new religion

So enamored with the new religion of ‘Westernization’ are we, that no criticism will be accepted or tolerated. Compared to the ‘co-operation’ with the Islāmic plunderers our ‘collaboration’ with the West is in no way less damaging or in any way less culpable.

Not a welcome message, I guess.

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Eat what you can digest

Looking at the lukewarm coverage, desultory reporting and the general indifference to Madhabi Mukherjee’s masterly work on the Bengal Famine, I am drawn to some intriguing conclusions.

‘Modern’ Indians can be satisfied with perception and propaganda. Easier to digest, I presume. Empirical evidence be damned. Between the Rightist Islamic-atrocities and the Marxist effete-feudal theologies, Indian history suffers. At this rate, India will become another case of ‘forget-nothing-learn-nothing’.

Indian military might

The commentators are very enamored by ‘victims-of-Islamic-atrocities’ narrative – even though India‘s military might would have reduced these ‘invasions’ to extensive plunder-pillage-massacre expeditions. In the few cases where these ‘invasions’ were able to consolidate, the regimes were short-lived.

British jaziya tax?

The crippling taxes that these Islamic ‘invaders’ were able to impose, were less crippling than Western colonial extraction. At the end of the Mughal Raj, India was still a formidable economy. Even after, the Mughal rulers had bloated their treasury to the largest in the world. By the time the British were sent packing, Indians were left struggling for roti-kapda-makaan.

Taimur and Churchill

The Delhi massacre of Taimur Lame, the Mongol looter accounted for less than 2 lakh victims. The Bengal Famine engineered by the British accounted for 40-50 lakh victims. Taimur was a Hindu-hating Islamic plunderer. Churchill and the British Raj oozed the milk of human kindness? From every pore and orifice of their bodies?

Westernization – the new religion

So enamored with the new religion of ‘Westernization’ are we, that no criticism will be accepted or tolerated. Compared to the ‘co-operation’ with the Islamic plunderers our ‘collaboration’ with the West is in no way less damaging or in any way less culpable.

Not a welcome message, I guess.

Shortlink

http://dlvr.it/CQTYh

How was Churchill different from Hitler …

October 30, 2010 3 comments

How was Churchill different from Hitler? A mercenary mass-media and a ‘captive’ academia distort the picture!

Churchill blamed Indians for the Gret Bengal Famine - After all, why did Indians have to breed like rabbits ...? he asked.

Churchill blamed Indians for the Great Bengal Famine - After all, why did Indians have to breed like rabbits ...? he asked. Click for larger image.

Decades of planning

Emerging nations (India is, hopefully, re-emerging), at some point, will confront militant and aggressive powers, who have used major massacres to secure their ends. Apart from well documented and known military massacres , there are equally effective massacres – the Bengal Famine of 1943 being a prime example.

Like much of Western history, the British (Lord Willingdon, Neville Chamberlain, Montagu Norman, Winston Churchill – as the Chancellor of the Exchequer) executed a scorched earth policy in India from 1920-1945 – culminating in the The Great Bengal Famine.

After all what is a brown life worth?

A propaganda victory

Some three million Indians died in the famine of 1943. The majority of the deaths were in Bengal. In a shocking new book, Churchill’s Secret War, journalist Madhusree Mukherjee blames Mr Churchill’s policies for being largely responsible for one of the worst famines in India’s history. It is a gripping and scholarly investigation into what must count as one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the Empire.

The scarcity, Mukherjee writes, was caused by large-scale exports of food from India for use in the war theatres and consumption in Britain – India exported more than 70,000 tonnes of rice between January and July 1943, even as the famine set in. This would have kept nearly 400,000 people alive for a full year. Mr Churchill turned down fervent pleas to export food to India citing a shortage of ships – this when shiploads of Australian wheat, for example, would pass by India to be stored for future consumption in Europe. As imports dropped, prices shot up and hoarders made a killing. Mr Churchill also pushed a scorched earth policy – which went by the sinister name of Denial Policy – in coastal Bengal where the colonisers feared the Japanese would land. So authorities removed boats (the lifeline of the region) and the police destroyed and seized rice stocks. (via How Churchill ‘starved’ India.).

Pictures of the hungry and dying in Bengal during the famine.

Pictures of the hungry and dying in Bengal during the famine. Click for larger image.

Systematic Britons

They implemented a series of economic and administrative measures that killed millions in the Bengal Famine, would impoverish India – and sustain the empire. Between 1920-1945, the British manipulated exchange rates and trade to impoverish the Indians. Food grain prices rose sharply on supply disruptions during WW2. Indians had no financial reserves. 40 lakhs Indians died in the resultant Bengal Famine.

Savage response

After the fall of Singapore, and the rapid Japanese advance, with Subhash Chandra Bose in the vicinity, a revolt by Bengal would have had catastrophic effect on the colonial administration. Howard Fast, in his novel ‘The Pledge’ speculated that the Bengal Famine was a deliberate creation – possibly to weaken the local population. Subsequent research has confirmed that this ‘theory’ of  deliberate famine.

No bodies ... no famine ... What famine ... ? The British efficiently disposed of the bodies in Kolktta. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.).

No bodies ... no famine ... What famine ... ? The British efficiently disposed of the bodies in Kolktta. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

Caught in a pincer movement, between Subhash Bose’s trained and armed soldiers and Gandhiji’s unarmed force, the British Raj responded savagely. With massive additions to the Indian police force.

The British were better …

Under dubious licences and restrictions, the British Raj turned Bengal into a huge concentration camp. Like the Spanish had done in Cuba, nearly 80 years ago. General Valeriano Weyler, “The Butcher,” was sent from Spain to stamp out the independence movement in Cuba. He created modern history’s first concentration camps. Hundreds of thousands of men women and children were put into concentration camps. In Havana city alone, 52,000 people died.

Afraid that Bengal would fall to Subhash Bose, Burma’s rice crop was barricaded from Bengal. To cut Bengal from Burmese rice, Indian traders in Burma were hounded out. Grain trucks were not allowed to move into Bengal. Without Burmese rice, on which Bengal depended, an estimated 40-50 lakh people in Bengal died.

All that was left of Indians - Skin and bones. Why did Indians have to breed like rabbits? asked Churchill. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

All that was left of Indians - Skin and bones. Why did Indians have to breed like rabbits? asked Churchill. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

The Bengal Burma link of the ages was broken. Chettiar money lenders were thrown out of Burma. From being a granary of Asia, Burma started declining – and there was no rice for exports. Result – The Bengal Famine of 1943. Tally – 40-50 lakh deaths. As Gideon Polya has pointed out, Australian sheep have lower mortality rates.

Dignity of death

In his study (Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation By Amartya Sen) about The Great Bengal Famine, Amartya Sen highlights that “…for every dead woman there were nearly two dead men …” Sir Charles Elliot Famine Commissioner in Mysore in 1876 the general belief about Indian famines that “all authorities seem agreed that women succumb to famine less easily than men.”

The end of extraction

After WW2, Churchill very much wanted the option of squeezing the Brown man at least a little more. Whatever little there was left of the Brown man after the Great Bengal Famine of 1943.

A womans collects fallen grains of food from the road. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

A womans collects fallen grains of food from the road. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

Clement Attlee pointed out that there was nothing left to squeeze. Attlee thought that the cost of squeezing was greater than the value of the extract. After Montagu Norman, Churchill, Lord Willingdon, Neville Chamberlain had finished with the Great Bullion Scam against India from 1925-1945. After the war was over and the Brown man was used in Africa and Europe. They let us go – and allowed us to rule ourselves.

How can we ever repay this debt?

Hitler was never alone

Hitler’s biggest mistake – he lost the war.

The genocide with which his regime was charged with was also carried out against the Native Americans in the USA, the Australian aborigines, in Congo by the Belgians.

Post colonial Governments in Kenya and India have ignored the cover-up of the millions killed by the colonial rulers – in the Mau Mau operations in Kenya or the 1857 War in India.

Bodies were disposed as efficiently as food was denied in Bengal. ((Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image.

Bodies were disposed as efficiently as food was denied in Bengal. ((Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image.

While Hitler killed millions (some 5-6 millions) in his concentration camps, Britain killed a similar number in  Bengal. Britain wreaked havoc in India by creating The Great Bengal Famine. Some 40-50 lakh Indians died. Hitler rained the Holocaust on the Jews. Some 50-60 lakh Jews died.

Same difference.

What’s the difference

How were German concentration camps different from Bengal-as-a-concentration camp? There was one significant difference.

The British were kind enough not to use Zyklon gas – which would have killed Indians faster. Instead Indians died, slow, horrible deaths, over a period of 2 years. Unlike Jews, who were killed quickly.  The British were without doubt the more humane murderers – compared to the Germans.


The Problem With Hindus

July 27, 2010 11 comments

While Mother Teresa raised millions in the name of India and its poor, the money was unaccounted and no published accounts are available for public scrutiny.

Rudeness, arrogance, disrespect

The intellectual arrogance displayed in the interview below by the Late Mother Teresa is simply breathtaking. Her rudeness and disrespect for the host society leaves me wordless. In a society where ‘many, many, many Hindu people share with’ her, she finds it beneath her, to respect her hosts.

This, may not be Mother Teresa’s problem – but it may, well be, The Hindu problem. People living in India no longer know the difference between religion and dharma. People of Bharata-ah no longer remember when religion was maya and dharma was supreme. Giving equal position, respect and consideration to religions and dharma is the India’s problem today.

Mother Teresa’s advice – We regressive, dirty-brown, idolatrous, backward Hindus can and were never be a happy lot. Unless we embrace Jesus!

Jeeez-us.

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner @ theage.com.au)

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner @ theage.com.au)

Extracts from Mother Teresa’s interview

Q. Here in Calcutta, have you created a real change?

A. I think so. People are aware of the presence, and also many, many, many Hindu people share with us. Now we never see a person lying there in the street dying. It has created a worldwide awareness of the poor.

Q. Beyond showing the poor to the world, have you conveyed any message about how to work with the poor?

A. You must make them feel loved and wanted. They are Jesus for me. I believe in that much more than doing big things for them.

Q. Friends of yours say you are disappointed that your work has not brought more conversions in this great Hindu nation.

A. Missionaries don’t think of that. They only want to proclaim the word of God. Numbers have nothing to do with it. But the people are putting prayer into action by coming and serving the people. Everywhere people are helping. There may not be a big conversion like that, but we do not know what is happening in the soul.

Q. What do you think of Hinduism?

A. I love all religions, but I am in love with my own.

Q. And they should love Jesus too?

A. Naturally, if they want peace, if they want joy, let them find Jesus. If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there. They come closer and closer to God. When they come closer, they have to choose. (via : Interview with MOTHER Teresa: A Pencil In the Hand Of God Of God By EDWARD W. DESMOND, Monday, Dec. 04, 1989).

From the 1954 - 2010 - Indians are the most optimistic

From the 1954 - 2010 - Indians are the most optimistic. Cartoon by RK Laxman, Times of India.

Is it my Satanic mind

But Mother, or should I say Saint Teresa now, I have one question. It must be that ‘Hindu’ Satan putting this question in my corrupt ‘Hindu’ mind, which has not embraced Jesus.

You see the Christian world has been doing something they call consumer ‘optimism’ surveys. For  few decades now, these ‘Hindu’ Indians have been a rather optimistic lot. And the West, which has embraced Jesus (at least more than these Hindus have) are much more pessimistic.

Can I have some divine guidance from you.

Your statement somehow also reminds me too much of a similar statement by the alpha-dog of the Colonial pack – Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, FRS who ‘despaired’ for the ‘Hindu’ Indians , led by a half-naked fakir … and men of straw (mostly Hindus). Especially, since we Hindu-Indians are a “beastly people with a beastly religion

Being a Saint, the Mother must be right. She rightly loves her religion more. She also prescribes that we backward Hindus should also love her Catholic-Christian religion more.

Unless the Indic mind changes – and changes fast, Mother Teresa’s wish may come to pass.

 

A destiny superior to India

July 16, 2010 1 comment

In August, 1947, Pakistan & Britain both believed that they had a future, brighter and better than India’s. Ironic, eh?

Brothers in Arms  |  Cartoon titled Musharraf's Democracy by Bendib on Monday, November 12, 2007

Brothers in Arms | Cartoon titled Musharraf’s Democracy by Bendib on Monday, November 12, 2007

This interesting post from Pakistan’s The Dawn captures a defeated mindset – that yet believes it has some ‘clever’ answers. Unwilling to concede its bankruptcy, it proclaims a fresh beginning.

Dear Britain,

Has anyone told you how amazing you guys are? Well let me clarify – we love you. You guys are incredible and we’re not just saying that because you are allegedly giving us close to a billion dollars in aid.

In recognition of how terrific you are, we humbly request you to take back Pakistan. Our government, as you may have noticed, is quite useless. The security situation, steadily increasing food prices and inflation, unemployment and incessant load shedding – all of this is wreaking havoc on our populace. We are tired and need respite.

We realise that you had to put up with a lot of complaining and discontent when you had previously um….occupied the subcontinent. But rest assured, with substantial evidence, we have since then developed into quite a docile bunch. Look at our politicians, we keep re-electing corrupt, ineffectual fake degree-toting candidates, which goes to show we have no standards and are as accommodating as they come.

Admittedly, we’ve done a fantastic job of messing up everything in the country with our religious infighting and blaming Israel for everything. But with your guidance (and love of desi food), we’re sure that we can do better and improve drastically. So we implore you, take over and together we can re-kindle the glory of the British Empire. Uncle Sam out, Queen in! (via The Dawn Blog » Blog Archive » Letter to Britain).

The lethal Pakistani Mix!

The lethal Pakistani Mix!

India’s welfare

At the time of India’s Independence, there were two parties who felt distinctly superior to  India’s future.

One were the British. Best known of British sceptics was Churchill. The pessimistic British colonial narrative feared that India was being handed over to ‘men of straw … of whom no trace will be found after a few years’. Churchill was ‘concerned’ that Indians would be sold down the river, led byhalf naked fakir‘. Perhaps, British pessimism was an existential requirement for their polity and ideology.

British misrule in India has been the subject of countless writers, journalists, analysts. Equally there have been numerous ‘studies’ about British ‘contribution’ to India’s progress. Let us keep this subject aside, completely, in this post. Let us forget about British misrule in India in this post.

Instead, let us look at British misrule in Britain itself. British ‘capabilities’ in areas of technology, industrial management, academia stands naked and exposed. How could super-power Britain spiral down to bankruptcy, in less than 70 years, after WW2.

More, the British mindset itself may need examination!

The other party

The other set of Indo-skeptics were Muslim secessionists. Regardless of accountability, contribution or acceptance, Muslims secessionists were “much too conscious of their erstwhile political, intellectual, and cultural superiority to be able to accept their new position.” Muslim leadership saw themselves as in a position to demand an “equal share of the power which would befit and be commensurate with their status as the erstwhile rulers of India.”

A schizoid Pakistan! Torn between military, rich landlords, regressive clerics, and a cynical US.  |  Two Musharrafs cartoon by Bendib on Saturday, October 13, 2007

A schizoid Pakistan! Torn between military, rich landlords, regressive clerics, and a cynical US. | Two Musharrafs cartoon by Bendib on Saturday, October 13, 2007

With an aggressive campaign spanning cultural, political and motivational slogans, Muslim campaigners attacked the राम भरोसे हिन्दू होटल Indian leadership. A snide description for ‘directionless, loud, confused’ Indian leadership.

As the British oppression of anti-colonial movement during during WW2 increased, Muslims ‘leadership’ saw themselves as ‘descendants of erstwhile rulers’, and  coined a new chant. चिकनी चवन्नी तेल में, बुड्ढा गाँधी जेल में (into oil went the bald coin, as quickly as Gandhi into the can (jail). The secessionist Muslim eliteconscious of their erstwhile status as the rulers of India‘ proclaimed, हंस के लिए हैं पाकिस्तान, लड़ के लेंगे हिंदुस्तान (With a contemptuous smile, we robbed them of Pakistan; Now we will battle, to conquer Hindustan.). Derisively calling Hindus as दाल (lentil-eaters), secessionist Muslims considered themselves superior.

These two effete and crumbling Desert Bloc sceptics continue to believe in their own hubris – and propaganda. They would do well to remember how deep the well-springs of the Indic nation are.

What they forget, they forget at their own risk.


The building of the Churchill Myth

Winston Churchill - (courtesy - telegraph.co.uk)

Winston Churchill - (courtesy - telegraph.co.uk)

The three crucial broadcasts were made not by Churchill but by an actor hired to impersonate him. Norman Shelley, who played Winnie-the-Pooh for the BBC’s Children’s Hour, ventriloquized Churchill for history and fooled millions of listeners. Perhaps Churchill was too much incapacitated by drink to deliver the speeches himself. (via The New York Times > Books > First Chapters > First Chapter: ‘Love, Poverty, and War’).

Propagnda masters

To use an actor to deliver a speech, in the middle of WW2. To fool the British public itself, calls for a certain brazenness.

Whatever one may fault the British for, at propaganda they are the best. To drown facts under a tidal wave of falsities, shows British mastery over the ‘science’ of propaganda. I am sure that propaganda is what Indian ancients referred to as  माया maya. There are some other gems also in this post – about British propaganda, which persist even today. Worth a read!

Why am I not surprised by British acknowledgment of Goebbels as a ‘better at propaganda.’

Zombies versus churails

Could you have an equally successful version with churails and djinns? Perhaps, but Grahame-Smith’s success is also because of the public fascination with zombies, vampires and werewolves. Werewolves come from the Old Norse vargulf, and were feared as actual threats several centuries ago. Zombies originated in Haiti, but the idea of revenants—the walking dead—was very much part of Old English folklore. Vampires, especially the Transylvanian kind, reached the peak of their popularity in the 18th century.

True zombies, vampires and werewolves have not been feared for at least two centuries. But their place in the popular imagination has been maintained by horror movies and novels as well as several generations of gamers. Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight series elevated the classic vampire love story to interspecies romance, with a werewolf vying for the hand of the beautiful Bella. (via Nilanjana S Roy: Zombies versus churails).

Why are Indians so bad at horror films …

Why does the largest film production culture, i.e. India not produce Jaws, Jurassic Park (animals as malevolent monsters; justifying the extermination of huge swathes of wild life, “good that we have exterminated them). Where is the Indian Dracula or Frankenstein? In all its 25 major languages and more than 500 plus dialects, Indians don’t have a national ‘monster’ culture? The writer of this column writes, almost complainingly, how

But few have carried on the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote some of the most chilling ghost stories of all time—Khudito Pashan (The Hungry Stones) being perhaps the best of them. It’s not for lack of talent—for instance, Tarun Tejpal and Ravi Shankar Etteth have both played around with the ghost story. Ravi Shankar wrote at least one classic, featuring a busload of highly unusual passengers in war-ravaged Kashmir. In 1914, a Mr S Mukerji compiled a set of Indian ghost stories

The Ramsay family tried keeping the ‘horror’ flag flying. But most of their ‘horror’ films finally turned out to be romantic comedies – with a token presence of the ‘horror’ element.

The Indic spread

Other Indian themes have crossed languages, geographies, cultures – and spread all over the world. Witness the spread of Ramayana or how Sanskrit defined most languages of the world. After more than 1000 years of aggression, the Desert Bloc has only half the world as its adherents – though they have 80% of the world’s geography. The Indic belief systems still accounts for half the world’s population.

Why indeed does India have a scarcity of ‘monsters’. Even Indian asuras are not really monsters or devils! This columnist speculates that

perhaps something of the belief that ghost stories are for the masses, not for the purveyors of high literature, has rubbed off on to our authors. That, given India’s rich heritage of dakinis, betaals, nishibhoots and other things that go bump in the night, is a sad mistake.

To understand this better, let us look at the world’s most fertile ground for ‘monsters’ …

Medieval – Renaissance Europe

16th century Europe – specifically, Spain and Portugal. The last of the Moors had been driven out of Spain. The Christian standard was flying high. The Papal Bull divided the Earth (for the Europeans) between Spain and Portugal. White Christian rulers of Spain, Isabella and Ferdinand, set historic standards in persecution and extortion. More than a million Jews were killed, crucified, burnt alive; their properties confiscated and distributed. Columbus returned to enslave the American Natives – and subsequently, work them to death.

New chapters in bloodshed were being written by conquistadors like Vasco Nunez De Balboa, Francisco Pizarro, Juan Ponce de Leon, Hernando de Soto, Hernando Cortez, et al. Not to forget the search for El Dorado led by, “above all, that prince of monsters Lope de Aquirre, colour the pages with the darkest hues of bloody emprise.” In South American memory, Francisco de Carvajal, the “demon of the Andes” remains alive. These real-life monsters set new standards in brutality, slavery and genocide.

Europe in the sixteenth century was “obsessed with questions of language, and especially so in Spain and its recently conquered American Empire (emphasis mine). This was driven by

what Marshal McLuhan called “the hypertrophy of the unconscious,” a phenomenon he associated with periods of revolution in media technology: the advent of print in the 16th century created a great need for sensational materials to be broadcast, and this need caused ideas that formerly had been only lurking in the dark recesses of men’s minds to come floating to the surface.

One of the great bestsellers of the 16th century was the Histoires prodigieuses of Pierre Boaistuau (Paris, 1560), a sort of Renaissance Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not containing marvelous tales on everything … Seventeen of the Histoires forty tales are about monsters, a fact that may explain why the book was republished anywhere from ten to twenty two times and translated into Dutch, Spanish and English. (from Popular culture in the Middle Ages By Josie P. Campbell).

Spanish literature of the Renaissance

From this hotbed of ferment, a representative of this period was Calderon de la Barca (1600-1681), the Spanish writer. Growing up in a Spain, a 100 years after the Conquistadors, benefiting from the twin advantages of fresh memory and hindsight “a century of Janus, facing backward, towards the rise of the Spanish Empire … and forward, toward its decline.” His more than a 100 plays and writings represent 17th century Spain, significantly – and even Europe.

There is probably no word that is more characteristic of Calderon de la Barca’s art than monstruo, “monster.” Rare is the play in which the word does not appear several times … (from Celestina’s brood By Roberto González Echevarría).

Calderon’s play about Semiramis, the Assyrian Empire builder, showed her in a monster mode – her hybrid character the most masculine modes and the most feminine, a monster of destruction and creation”. And Calderon was not alone. The fertile growth of monsters gave birth to a new study – teratology, the study of monsters.

“Monster lore truly becomes “popular culture” only with the Renaissance … Fresh works on the subject of teratology are written by Italians, Germans, and Frenchmen. The foreruuner of the modern newspaper, the broadside were bought at street corners and at fairs by the barely literate masses. The great reformers Luther and Melanchthon used the broadside medium to popularize their propagandistic and anti-Catholic versions of two of the most famous monsters of the Renaissance, the Monk-calf of Freiburg and the Pope-ass of Rome. (from Popular culture in the Middle Ages By Josie P. Campbell).

Some of Calderon’s plays dealt with the proselytization of the Native Americans – like his play, La Aurora En Copacabana (Dawn in the Copacabana), described as a play about “the conquest and conversion of the Indians in Peru”

The success of the conquest, therefore, is attributed to (Christian) faith which is valued as mans greatest gift to the world … Thus (Christian) conquest becomes a form of colonisation with the purpose of imposing religion and culture on a land “que habitan inhumanos” (512) and is in need of redemption and education. Finally, the play tries to harmonise irreconcilable contradictions which lie at the bottom of colonial discourse. (texts in brackets and italics mine).

With this idea, must be seen something important. That is the important element of “the escape of the monster.” In the … Monster Theory, Joel Cohen has remarked that the monster always escapes. Now combine the three elements – the newly acquired colonies of America, the proselytization (or otheriwse, the genocide) and the escape of the monster. These were the ‘monsters’ of colonialism.

A very interesting play by Calderon was La vida es sueño (Life is a dream). It tells the story of Segismundo, the Prince Of Poland, who was destined to be a monster. To forestall the prophecy, Segismundo was imprisoned by his father from the time of his birth. In adulthood, released from prison to test the prediction, Segismundo fulfills the prophecy. As a analyst of Calderon’s work summarizes,

Affirming a “better reality,” Segismundo’s message speaks as well to all of Europe: the “new European man” is the real monster. (from The subject in question By C. Christopher Soufas).

200 years after Calderon, HG Wells, in the The Island of Doctor Moreau, foretold Joseph Menegle’s experiments rather well.

Onshore genocide – The Roma Gypsies

Apart from the Jewish persecution, less known is the the persecution of the Roma Gypsy, which continues till date. In Europe, kidnapping children was considered legal for most of 1500AD-1750AD. On one condition – you had to kidnap Roma Gypsy children! More than 25,000 children kidnapped. No problem. Everybody sleeps peacefully at night. Switzerland was doing this till 1973!

Roughly, between 1500 to 1750, it was legal in Europe to hunt human beings. Yes! Just like hunting for deer in India, or hunting buffalo in Africa or fox-hunting in Britain. Yes! You could hunt human beings. As long as the humans you hunted were Roma Gypsies. In Europe you could be hung to death if you committed the crime of being born – between 1500AD-1750AD! Born as a Roma Gypsy!

Europeans, in the their age of Enlightenment and Renaissance, (1500-1750) could just pick up human slaves – yes, own them like cattle and furniture, if you found one! As long as they were Roma Gypsies. Later you could also sell them for profit!

Ship owners and captains in Europe’s Golden age, (1500-1750) could arrange galley slaves for free. No wages, no salary. You just had to feed them. Use them, abuse them, flog them, kill them, drown them. You could do anything – as long as they were Roma Gypsies.

What set off the Roma Gypsy Genocide

In 1420, a 60 year old man, blind in one eye took charge – and took on the might of the Roman Church and Roman Emperors.

Jan Zizka.

Over the next 12 months, he became completely blind. In the next 15 years, Zizka (and other Czech generals) defeated, many times, the combined armies of Germany, The Roman Church and others. His military strategy was studied for the next 500 years. Thereafter, the myth of military might of the Church was broken forever.

Jan Zizka allied himself with the Taborites (the radical Hussite wing). Zizka made Tábor in Bohemia into an armored and mobile fortress – the Wagenburgs.

Interestingly, a 100 years after the Hussite Wars, the European persecution of the Roma Gypsies began in full earnest. And during WW2, the Vatican joined with the Nazi collaborators, the Ustashe,  to extort gold and the genocide against the Roma Gyspises.

Military success

Zizka ranks with the great military innovators of all time. Zizka’s army was made up of untrained peasants and burghers (townspeople). He did not have the time or resources to train these fighters in armament and tactics of the time. Instead they used weapons like iron-tipped pikes and flails, armored farm wagons, mounted with small, howitzer type cannons.

His armored wagons, led by the Taborites, in offensive movements, broke through the enemy lines, firing as they rolled, cutting superior forces into pieces. For defense, the wagons were arranged into a tight, impregnable barrier surrounding the foot soldiers – the Wagenburg (the wagon fort), as they came to be known. The wagons also served to transport his men. Zizka thus fully initiated modern tank warfare. Zizka’s experience under various commanders was useful. At the Battle of Tannenberg (1410), Zizka fought on the Polish side , in which the famed German Teutonic Knights were defeated.

Roma Gypsy Wagon Caravan

Roma Gypsy Wagon Caravan

Coming back …

Who were the major users of the wagons in Europe then (and now?) Answer – The Roma Gypsies.

Who were the people who could pose spiritual and ecclesiastical questions to the Vatican? Answer – The Gypsies, with their Indian heritage, were not not new to spiritual dialectics (contests, discourse and debates). For instance, Mani, and his adherents, an Indic teacher of Buddhist thought, known to Christians as Manichean thought, were the nightmare for Christianity till the 15th century. When Mani called for overthrow of slavery, the Vatican at the Council of Gangra, re-affirmed its faith in slavery. European minds were occupied with the questions raised by the Hussite reformers.

Some think they (the Waldensians) had held them for centuries; some think they had learned them recently from the Taborites. If scholars insist on this latter view, we are forced back on the further question: Where did the Taborites get their advanced opinions? If the Taborites taught the Waldenses, who taught the Taborites?

Who were the people who could help the persecuted Waldensians, the Bogomils, the Cathars to escape persecution and spread out across the Europe? Answer – The Roma Gypsies – in their wagons. The same Gypsies, had earlier pioneered the Troubadour culture in the Provence Region, which provoked the Albigensian Crusade by the Vatican.

Prokop Coat Of ArmsProkop Coat Of Arms

And who was the King of the Taborites? Answer – An entire clan of leaders who called themselves as Prokop (The Shaven /Bald; The Little and The Great) were the military leaders of the Taborites.

The word and name Prokop have no meaning in any European language – except in Sanskrit, where it means vengeance, retribution, violent justice.

Mythology as History

Jan Hus initiated the Reformation in the Vatican Church. It was Jan Zizka who broke the back of Papal authority. On the back of these Czech successes, was laid the foundation of 95 Theses by Martin Luther in 1517. The British break (1533-34) with the Holy Roman Church happened due to favors by the Papal office to the Iberian Empires – in matters of trade and colonial expansion, and the impediments to divorce of Henry-VIII at the behest of the Spanish rulers.

Today, the Germans and the British are loath to be reminded about the Czech Church Reform initiatives and the defeats at the hands of the Poles and Czechs. Western historiography about the Enlightenment and Renaissance, in Britain, France and Germany, leading to the reformation is ‘mythology as history’.

Of course, the role of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Byzantine Empire in the entire Czech saga is also worth re-examining. Were the Hussite Wars, a proxy war waged by the Eastern Church against the Vatican?

Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr.Hyde

In the 19th century came the monster story was dubbed as Gothic – and this form of story-telling matured as a craft.

A significant array of Gothic writers emerged from Ireland (from Charles Maturin, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde to the contemporary writer Patrick McGrath), in a colonial situation where a Protestant minority was the colonial occupier. (from Late Victorian Gothic tales By Roger Luckhurst)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797–1851), wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley started writing Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, at the age of 18, and completed it one year later. First published in London, anonymously, in 1818 by small London publishing house of Harding, Mavor & Jones – after previous rejections by bigger publishers like Charles Ollier (Percy Bysshe Shelley’s publisher), and John Murray (by Byron’s publisher). The writer’s name started appearing from the second edition of 1823 onwards. The interesting aspect, lost in popular usge, is that the monster is not named – and Frankenstein was the scientist, who brought the monster to life.

In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde was first published. This explored how ‘normal’ (Dr.Jekyll) human beings could become ‘evil’ (Mr.Hyde).

And in 1887, Bram Stoker, an Irish writer published his Dracula. The character of Dracula is based on Emperor Sigismund and his Order of the Dragon, who waged war against the Hussites – led by Jan Zizka. Infamous for his betrayal of Jan Hus, he sparked of the Hussite Wars, in which the Taborites (the Roma Gypsies) used wagons and gun powder for the first time in Europe. He founded a secret sect,  the “Dracul” called the Order of the Dragon.

Of course, these three are the most famous – but not the only ones. Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 “Carmilla“, about a lesbian vampire was another monster book of its time. An associate of Mary Shelley, John Polidori created the character of the “The Vampyre” in 1819 – on which possibly Dracula was based.

Most significantly, in 1896, was HG Well’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, which presaged Joseph Mengele – when Joseph Mengele had not even started on his higher education. A good 50 years before Joseph Mengele’s experiments were discovered by a shocked world.

The wellspring of these works is H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. In this 1896 novel, a vivisectionist attempts to transform animals into men until the misshapen creatures revert and kill him, the forces of nature overcoming man’s civilizing artifices. From The Boys From Brazil (Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele, alive and well and cloning Hitlers at a secret lab in the Brazilian Amazon) to Jurassic Park (Richard Attenborough alive and well and cloning velociraptors), Wells’ basic formula has become familiar: an island; a Frankensteinian experiment; a Faustian scientist; something gone terribly, terribly wrong. (from Requiem for the Mad Scientist

From the 1700-1800, while Spain was in decline, for about a 100 years, Western literary field did not see too much action on the monster front. The main action was in Haiti, where zombies, the ex-murderers, the living dead became a part of the voodoo cult.

The late Victorian era was one of the most expansive phases of the empire. Britain annexed some thirty-nine separate areas around the world between 1870-1900, in competition with newly aggressive America in the Pacific or the European powers in the so-called ‘Scramble for Africa’ after the continent was divided up at the Berlin conference of 1885. (from Late Victorian Gothic tales By Roger Luckhurst)

The last of the true great monster in popular culture came from the East. Soon after WW2, as tales of Japanese atrocities started coming out and as American atrocities in Vietnam started, Godzilla came out of Japan. But a different pressure head was building up, which gave rise to a new genre – detective fiction.

Euro-Pessimism

Between 1800-1950, Western powers killed (directly or otherwise) more than 50 million people in America (the Native Americans), Africa (the Native Africans), Asia (Indians, Chinese, Arabs). This led to a situation that every other person in the West had participated in murder or massacre – unlike the few Conquistadors. Western ambiguity towards Soviet Russia on one side, Hitler on the other was itself a concern. To that add, Gandhiji’s resolute opposition to colonialism and you have a inflammable moral situation.

The deluge of blood and murder caused moral anxiety and was a matter of ethical dilemma amongst common folks. The pressure valve for this was popular fiction. Identifying murderers became a form of proxy, vicarious entertainment for ordinary folks. Enter the super detectives, who pick out the murderer from a room full of ordinary people. Enter detectives like Auguste Dupin, of ‘The Purloined Letter‘ fame, who “investigates an apparently motiveless and unsolvable double murder in the Rue Morgue.”

Murder in Popular Image

The racist imagery in Tintin.

The 'racist' imagery in Tintin.

A trend started by Edgar Allan Poe, whose first detective novel, Murders In Rue Morgue (1841) soon became an avalanche. Writers like Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple solving murders happening by the second), Georges Simenon (and his Inspector Maigret investigating brutal crimes), Ngaio Marsh (Roderick Alleyn), GK Chesterton (Father Brown), Raymond Chandler (Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe) dealt with murder. Alfred Hitchcock made horror thrillers in similar themes.

In 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock series made its debut. Many of Conan Doyle’s characters came from the colonies. Many victims lived in isolated communities. Past (mis)deeds caught up. Crime, murder and malevolence hung in the air like thick smoke. Some of the stories addressed the colour prejudice. The status of England as a super-power was apparent. The intrigue and bloodshed in the India was palpable in stories like the The Sign of Four at the Pondicherry Lodge.

Tintin in Congo

Tintin in Congo

Agatha Christie’s book, filmed as Ten Little Indians, based on the book, initially released (the book) in Britain as Ten Little Niggers (later renamed as Then There None) gives the game away. Agatha Christie probably unconsciously verbalized the White desire to ensure that there should be none of the Red Indians left to tell the tale. The overt racism in Herge’s ‘Tintin in Congo’ made the world sit-up and note the pervasiveness of racism in detective fiction.

Media and academia

Jerome Delamater, Ruth Prigozy, in an essay compilation, ‘Theory and Practice of Classic Detective Fiction’, observe that Jane Marple, along with Hercule “Poirot becomes an equal opportunity detective who really believes that anyone might commit murder”. Dismissing the jaundiced view of human nature,” the writers of this book, while commenting about the detective fiction genre, do not mention slavery at all – and mention colonialism and racism once each.

One writer, Franco Moretti did half the job in book Signs Taken for Wonders: On the Sociology of Literary Forms By Franco Moretti. He writes,

“The perfect crime – the nightmare of detective fiction – is the feature-less, deindividualized crime that anyone could have committed because at this point everyone is the same.” He further writes,“Yet, if we turn to Agatha Christie, the situation is reversed.Her hundred-odd books have only one message: the criminal can be anyone …”

Detective FictionIn his entire book he does not use the words like slavery, racism, genocide, bigotry even once. The 19th century, which was based on Western bigotry, White racism, African slavery, and assorted genocides is unrecognised in Moretti’s books.

Running or hiding? Or it a case of feeling squeamish? Perhaps, a case of queasy stomach, Franco?

Another book, The Detective as Historian: History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction, by Ray Broadus Browne, Lawrence A. Kreiser does a better job. This book examines, the detective fiction genre, with some references to slavery and child prostitution.

How was this explained away

As the monsters increased, both in real life and literature, rationalizations were required. A person no less than Immanuel Kant, was pressed into service to deconstruct the ‘monster’, re-invent it and give it a positive spin.

The monster taken up by Kant in an aesthetic sense to refer to those things that exceed representation considers that the monstrous describes an entity whose life force is greater than the matter in which in which it is contained. Thus rather than something that malfunctions during the course of its production, monstrosity is associated during romanticism with “over-exuberant living matter” that extends itself beyond its natural borders in order to affect a much wider sphere. ((from The subject in question By C. Christopher Soufas).

In the twentieth century, Kant’s hypothesis finds an echo when Lord Randolph William Churchill, the ‘Bulldog’ declared

I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race has come in and taken their place. (from Minorities, peoples, and self-determination By Nazila Ghanea-Hercock, Nazila Ghanea, Alexandra Xanthaki, Patrick Thornberry)

In another instance, Churchill wrote how superior’ Arabs, imposed on the ‘inferior’ negroes.

The stronger race imposed its customs and language on the negroes. The vigour of their blood sensibly altered the facial appearance … (from The River War By Winston Churchill).

The Mystery of the Dying Detective

After de-colonisation, as mass murder went underground, the detective-murder mystery books genre faded. This category was replaced by a new theme – the axis of Corporation-Government-International Conspiracy.

The new category of popular fiction are represented by Ian Fleming, Arthur Hailey, Frederick Forsyth, Irving Wallace, Robert Ludlum, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, et al. More and more contrived, each conspiracy theory writer has been ‘inspired’ by real life incidents.

While Ludlum’s international-conspiracy-plot-CIA-FBI-KGB series have worn thin, the spookiness of Le Carre’s Absolute Friends and Constant Gardner still work as novels representing the West.

Western Twins – Anxiety and Paranoia

To develop this understanding further, there are two classes of films that I wish to draw attention to.

Malignant Nature

Jaws (the shark that eats humans), Jurassic Park (mad scientists, conspiring technicians let loose man eating dinos) Gremlins and Poltergiest (things that go bump in the night). This paranoid fear of nature (and natural laws) seems to be a result of the subterranean knowledge of the way in which ecological damage and pollution is happening. These films produced /directed by Steven Spielberg (who is incomparable because as Time Magazine says, “No one else has put together a more popular body of work”)

Illegal AliensVindictive Humans

The other is the thinly disguised hate and prejudice films against the poor and the victimised. ‘Aliens’ needs just one small change for the films idea to become clear. Instead of LV-426, Nostromo the space ship, receives a distress call from some country in South America or Africa (or India, if you prefer). The meaning is clear when you see the movie while conscious of the fact that alien is is the word the US Government uses for people from other countries.

As for the Indian churails

Coming to India, a writer notes how

Francesca Orsini identifies the detective  novel as one of the genres that ‘was brought into India ‘ready-made’ without the intellectual and historical substratus that had generated it in Europe’ This total lack of any indigenous roots, one could argue, makes detective  fiction a colonial imposition, and its adoption by Indian writers, clearly a case of copy-cat reproduction wherein ‘black-pens’ write ‘white-texts’ that have no identity of their own. (from Postcolonial postmortems – crime fiction from a transcultural perspective By Christine Matzke, Susanne Muehleisen, page 88).

How very true!

Ms.Christine and Susanne, you have hit the nail right in the centre of head! Your aim is truer than you imagine. Whatta shot! Though I dont know if you have hit the nail deep enough – deep into the heart of the darkness, which gave rise to these genres of Western ‘literature’.

The Indian churail (or pisach or djinni) faces similar problems as the Scandinavian myling or the Er Gui of China: they don’t translate well outside of their culture.

India may have had local incidents, where an oppressive zamindar may have created a market for horror stories and monsters – but without genocide, slavery and massacres to fall back on, popular imagination simply does not have the fodder to create ghouls and monsters.

And that is reason for Indian churails being rare – not lack of literary ability in Indians.

Military success

Zizka ranks with the great military innovators of all time. Zizka’s army was made up of untrained peasants and burghers (townspeople). He did not have the time or resources to train these fighters in armament and tactics of the time. Instead they used weapons like iron-tipped pikes and flails, armored farm wagons, mounted with small, howitzer type cannons.

His armored wagons, led by the Taborites, in offensive movements, broke through the enemy lines, firing as they rolled, cutting superior forces into pieces. For defense, the wagons were arranged into a tight, impregnable barrier surrounding the foot soldiers – the Wagenburg (the wagon fort), as they came to be known. The wagons also served to transport his men. Zizka thus fully initiated modern tank warfare. Zizka’s experience under various commanders was useful. At the battle of Tannenberg (1410), Zizka fought on the Polish side , in which the famed German Teutonic Knights were defeated.

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