Breaking News

Loading...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The World Wars and India


World War anniversary observances in Western Europe, Russia and the United States are efforts to imprint an alien and illusionist history of little significance to India's own national narrative.

The European view that the two world wars were a fight against fascism is prime facie nonsense. Britain and France ruled the two largest slave empires and fought to protect their racist tyrannies.

The United States intervened in both conflicts to help the side it saw as the lesser of two evils and failed both times in its declared aim of promoting the global rule of law.

After World War I, Woodrow Wilson steered the Covenant of the League of Nations to acceptance by other Powers but not by the US Senate.

In World War II Franklin Roosevelt tried to hold the British to the Atlantic Charter’s vision of a free world but after his untimely death Winston Churchill in collusion with the new military-industrial elite of the United States subverted America’s own democracy and launched the Cold War. (See here for an explanation of what happened.)

Russian memories of both conflicts leave out much bitter reality. It was during World War I that a bunch of violent misfits guided by the loony ideas of Karl Marx took over imperial Russia and turned it into one large slave labour camp. World War II was indisputably a great patriotic struggle against a vicious enemy but commemorations gloss over the paranoid Stalinism behind that effort.

Obviously, none of this holds much meaning for India.

What we need to remember about the two world wars is that they had a strong role in aiding our struggle to get rid of British rule.

The million Indians who participated in World War I created a new reality in Indian politics that frightened the British into the overreaction of the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre. That radicalized Indian opinion and filled the sails of Gandhi’s Non-cooperation movement.

Three million Indian soldiers participated in World War II, and after that Britain had no hope of holding India: the day after the Naval Mutiny of 1946, Clement Attlee announced his government’s intention to transfer power in New Delhi.

I would hazard a guess that most Indians are unaware of these facts and that even our expert analysts have not kept track of how these different narratives have played out over the last seven decades.

For India, there were immediate and heavy repercussions from the British success in engineering an American coup and launching the “Cold War.” It left Britain free to Partition India and create Pakistan as a permanently failed State to be its military proxy in South Asia.

Those realities have shaped our national life ever since, and it is alarming indeed to hear Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar speak of reciprocating Pakistani terrorism. The source of South Asian terrorism is not Islamabad but London and any tit for tat policy on Pakistan will lay us wide open to British manipulation.

That would have been obvious to everyone if our geopolitical pundits had done their work honestly over the years, but they have not, and we must live with the consequences.

The latest example of dishonesty is an edit page piece in BusinessLine (21 May) by former Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan G. Parthasarathy.

Although headlined “India still a pawn on the strategy board.”the article is no more than a review of what Parthsarathy sees as Washington’s various perfidies. This hardly shows that India is a pawn, for it is only because we pursue an independent line that there is room for perfidies.

More importantly, he ignores the fact that Washington has been guided throughout the post-World War II period by the British incubus within its national security system.

That cannot be dismissed as a coffee house “conspiracy theory” because Britain’s strategic role in launching the Cold War is much celebrated in Churchill’s March 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech.

Evidence of British involvement in launching the “war on terror” that followed the end of the Cold War is not equally clear but only because there has been no focused effort to uncover the transatlantic connections behind the 9/11 attacks.

For instance, little attention has been paid to the significance of the rigged election of Bush Jr. that set the scene in Washington a few months before the attacks.

The back story to that election is the friendship between two extremely rich families, the Bushes in the United States and the Gammells in Britain. As George Bush was ambassador in China and CIA Director, Bush Jr. was spending summers at the Gammell farm in Scotland, hanging out with scion Bill, whose college buddy was Tony Blair.

Bill Gammell founded petroleum major Cairn, which became a FTSE 100 firm in a matter of years; meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's long term ambassador in Washington became so close to the Bushes he was generally known as “Bandar Bush.”

That explains why, after a group of Saudis carried out the 9/11 attacks, a plane load of their countrymen was allowed to leave the United States without being questioned and in violation of the nationwide no-fly order then in effect.

Parthasarathy seems oblivious to this whole universe of seamy and dangerous connections underlying the most pivotal events of our time. In making the case that India is a “pawn” he makes not a single mention of Britain, a country that has manipulated us at every turn for the last 158 years (counting from the uprising of 1857).

Why our strategic analysts consistently overlook Britain's profoundly negative role in world affairs (see here and here), and its especially vicious treatment of India, is a question very much in need of an honest answer.

The issue is urgent for we could well be headed for another spate of cataclysmic events as Britain pursues its furious sense of entitlement in India (not to mention Africa, the Middle East and the United States!).

Pakistan and the United States should also pay heed, for we could all be headed for the time foreseen in the Vishnu Purana when the appearance of “eight suns” brings on a great drought.

In fact, the only way to avoid some such a catastrophe might be to talk openly about who might be responsible and publicize plans to share the heat.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Of IB and the Press

First a clarification. In my post on Back to Creepy Crawly Time I might have unwittingly implicated Ramu, who makes the wheels go round at Kamath Royale. I want to make clear I did not see him that morning. The worthy who almost fell of his bike when he saw me staggering off to Manipal Hospital is the person who lounges around Building 6.

Thinking of what has happened over the last few days brought to mind that a friend and fellow journalist, Appan Menon, was not as lucky as I was: he expired under very similar circumstances in 1996.

[Readers will excuse me for taking this opportunity to record fondly that I first met Appan when we were both about eight or nine, when his father dropped him off at our house in Calcutta to be sent on to school in Darjeeling while he himself went on to a UN job in Bangkok.I was immediately impressed with his sophistication, on exhibit in the rendition of "Whiskey, brandy, gin and rum! I want a lady with a big fat bum!" I mentioned that to his wife when I met her at the UN; she grinned, "He's still singing it."]

Another journalist who died in mysterious conditions was Jyotirmoy Dey, the Crime Reporter for the Mumbai tabloid Mid Day. In June 2011 he was shot dead gangland style on the street in front of his residence. He had just returned from a meeting in London with a source who, rumour has it, provided information on 26/11. Given the allegations of an IB role in 26/11, it is legitimate to wonder about the gunmen's motives.

Also in 2011, J. Sri Raman (whose consistent failure to present an Indian perspective on international issues made me want to throw things), died suddenly of "multiple organ failure.

I mention their deaths because the Intelligence Bureau's undeniable fingerprints on my brush with the hereafter -- which would never have been suspected if the outcome had been different -- makes me wonder about its broader attitude toward journalists.

I am quite sure the consistent pressure I have felt over the last five years is not because of any set IB policy; at the same time, it cannot be from a Brownian movement of idiots within the staff.

I think it reflects an  inherently unsympathetic attitude towards journalists. As indicated by the various attempts to entrap me in situations that would have seriously impeached my integrity, there also seems to be a profound misreading of what an intelligence agency can legitimately do in a democracy. My experience has made me wonder about the legitimacy of the charge of rape against Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal.

Does the government do anything to teach our domestic spooks the importance of protecting the basic human rights of Indian citizens?

Is there any sensitivity training about the need not to bully our citizenry into unethical conduct? (I am here thinking of the poor waiters compelled to add extra salt to my dishes or serve up half servings.)  In a country recovering from several generations of oppressive foreign rule it is critically important to protect every individual's sense of integrity.

Do the agency's leaders seek to build a culture supportive of the idea of Press Freedom? It might be convenient for them to have controllable journalists but do they consider the harm done in the process? A Press without undue constraints on its work is of enormous value, not least in collecting and analysing information that should be a staple of all intelligence activity.

The UNESCO declaration that a free Press is the touchstone of all other freedoms is the literal truth and it merits institutional attention from the IB.

Dawn of a New Terrorism?

Investigators of the Germanwings crash and the derailment of the Amtrak train in the United States should not discount terrorism.

They should look for evidence of a sinister new technology straight out of science fiction: mind control.

Brainwashed killers have long been a staple of Hollywood movies like the Manchurian Candidate with the hapless victims turned into the zombie tools of villainous foreign controllers.

But scientific reality has outdistanced the fiction of Pavlovian conditioning turning unsuspecting innocents into ticking time bombs.

 The discovery that thought is just a form of electronic activity has opened the door to invasive mind reading and manipulating technologies.

At the most mundane level those technologies allow thought control of things like wheel chairs and computers.

More extraordinarily, they allow such manipulations at transcontinental distances.

It should be theoretically possible to communicate telepathically at the same distances and control not a just a computer but another brain, a la Obi-won Kenobie in Star Wars.

The person thus manipulated might be like one hypnotized, without volition or even memory.

The driver of the Amtrak train, by all reports an extremely responsible individual, says he has no recollection of accelerating into a bend at twice the permitted speed.

Who is to say the co-pilot of the German aircraft was conscious of what he was doing, or that it was he who rehearsed flying into the mountain?

Is this too fiendish to imagine?

Hardly so in a world that has seen the cold blooded use of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons.

If my speculation is correct, we could be far along on the evolutionary path H.G Wells foresaw when he wrote of a future in which a vicious minority of telepathic controllers exploited a large majority incapable of self defense.

The only dim consolation is that before such a future can come to be, ordinary folk will probably butcher scientists in the streets and send us all back to the family farm.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Indian Strategists in Oz


"Pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain” says the voice of the powerful and awesome Wizard of Oz when he is discovered to be a mere trickster.

If India’s strategic pundits had been there with Dorothy and Toto they would undoubtedly have saluted and returned to analysing the grand illusion projected for their benefit.

The latest indication of their credulity is in Brahma Chellany’s Hindustan Times piece headlined (in my local Goa newspaper), “In a Heating Pot of Water.

The burden of Chellany’s analysis is that India needs to be worried because of the promised $46 billion in Chinese aid to Pakistan. It will promote Beijing’s “Silk Road” project, which he considers nothing more than the old “string of pearls” strategy to “encircle” India.

Although Chellany notes a number of potholes in the Silk Road/String theory, not least the success of Myanmar and Sri Lanka in “escaping Beijing’s clutches,” nowhere does he even hint at the overall absurdity of Chinese ambitions.

Beijing is touting the Silk Road project at a time when it has alarmed every one of its neighbours with its power drunk swagger (not exempting Russia grateful for oil contracts in a season of cold weather).

How Beijing expects to gain the cooperation of South-East Asian nations outraged by its grab of marine resources is a question that can be answered only by a student of mental pathology, not geopolitics.

Its grandiloquent talk of multi-billion investments in a variety of international schemes including the BRICS and Asian Infrastructural banks ignores another inescapable reality: Chinese economic growth is stalling and could turn into a precipitous and debilitating fall.

What makes the Wizard of Oz comparison apt is the blind eye Chellany turns on another aspect of the China-Pakistan picture, the critical British role in shaping their anti-Indian policies.

Pakistan became an anti-Indian British proxy with Partition in 1947.

China's deeply ambiguous India policy today is not so much a legacy of Mao-era paranoia as it is of Margaret Thatcher's 1996 deal on Hong Kong that left its huge money laundering industry untouched, to be the conduit of the enormous flow of investments that powered the Chinese economy for three decades. 

Much as President Xi might want to open a new chapter in India-China relations, he dare not for fear Britain will pull the plug on the Chinese economy.

The alliance between Islamabad and Beijing, especially in its anti-Indian dimension, makes sense only if we take the British role into account.

Chellany notes that Pakistan and China have little in common except for their anti-Indian policy but he does not then ask why either continues to maintain that stance when the overwhelming logic of the Asian situation is for much greater regional cooperation.

The answer is in that little man behind the curtain, Britain, with its multi-billion dollar interests in the Afghan heroin trade and its even more massive stake in Hong Kong's flows of black money.

Only those connections make any sense of Pakistan’s suicidal hostility towards India and China’s bizarre Jekyll and Hyde performance.

If India is to deal effectively with this situation, our strategic analysts will have to face the rigours of life without the goodies Britain provides to its "friends" in the mass media. 

They will have to write as if the country's fate depends on their honesty -- as indeed, it does.



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Creepy Crawly: Some Afterthoughts

In re-reading yesterday's post I see some important details are missing.

  • The ants who nested inside my Samsung laptop must have been extremely smart and technically proficient. They unscrewed a sealed compartment and (going by what the service center technician in Pondy said), replaced two standard black screws with white ones.
  • The neighbor who I called for help when having the asthma attack says he was awake at the time. His phone neither rang nor has a missed call record.
  • I forgot entirely about the Intelligence Bureau's successful effort to prevent me from a bid to show my paintings at the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai. See here.
  • I just spent a night at the Goa International Center of which I am a life member. The room had the latest membership directory, and lo, I had disappeared from it. Don't think it is an oversight. Why would the IB do that? For the same reason it has me in a virtual North Korea in India: to make me a non-person. 
Also wanted to share a thought about why the IB continues to harass me: they probably think my awareness of their attempts at surveillance and manipulation must mean I have superior foreign technology and hence I must not be what I seem.

It is perhaps useless to address paranoia or corruption with reasoned explanation, but let me try.

The technology that allows me to know what the IB is doing to me and around me is entirely indigenous.

It is much celebrated in the long history of Indian tradition as spiritual awareness.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Back to Creepy Crawly Time!

Just when I think the nut cases at the Intelligence Bureau have gone off my case they come roaring back.

In early April I woke up coughing one morning and the puff at the inhaler, which is usually good for my mild asthma, had no effect.

It got worse very rapidly, and feeling that I needed help, I tried calling a neighbor. It was before seven in the morning and there was no reply.

Next I tried calling a taxi. I have three on my mobile phone.

The first two did not pick up. The third did. "Manoj, I need to get to Manipal Hospital" I croaked. He knows who I am and where I live.

There was a slight pause. Then another voice came on. "Wrong number" it said.

By then I was in deep distress and passed out. How long I was out I don't know, perhaps a few minutes. But eventually I regained consciousness. As I was heading for the compound gate the resident IB spook was coming in on his bike. He was visibly surprised to see me.

That was only the most dramatic of recent incidents.

Another was when I went to a musical concert and at intermission, left a tiny package of pills on the seat to show it was taken. When I got back, the taped brown-paper package had been ripped open and one of the pills pushed out from its blister pack.

What exactly they're looking for or have against me is impossible to say. It can't be just that I keep writing that the IB is completely out of control and needs to be brought under constitutional controls.

In fact, it reminds me of the first time I went to Nepal. It was the sixties, and I went overland along what was then called the "hippie trail."

From the train-head on the Indian side you had to take a cycle rickshaw through a magical stretch of gloomy forest.

There was no one on the Indian side of the border. On the Nepali side a lone sentry inspected my backpack.

I did not notice the time because it was so pleasant, but eventually, the impatience of the rickshawwallah got through to me.

The sentry was carefully going through my underwear and socks.

"What are you looking for?" I asked amiably.

"I don't know sir," he replied

It seems to me that is the predicament of all intelligence agencies. They have to be suspicious with no idea what to look for.

What makes the IB particularly interesting is the belief of some of its staff that they need to control what journalists write. And that those who they cannot control must be harassed.

I have written about this off and on over the last few years, but rather than give links to old posts, perhaps it's time to offer a summary.

The first time surveillance turned to harassment it turned my face black, as if I was undergoing radiation treatment.

That was followed by two "accidents" in Pondicherry. On both occasions, motorcyclists ran into my bicycle. Neither so much as tapped his horn (a certain indication of mala fide in India).

One ran into me frontally and knocked me to the pavement. The shopkeeper there helped me up and wiped the blood from a cut to the forehead. The guy who ran into me, a rather hefty police type, took off.

The second incident occurred on a clear day on an uncrowded road: another police type ran into me from the back and sent me sailing a good six feet. No blood but I felt the jarring in my 66-year old bones for a fortnight.

Other harassment took the form of warning people that I was a spy. At a meeting of the Progressive Writers Group, the speaker, thinking I was asleep, remarked "Ah, the spy has gone to sleep!" (and had the grace to look embarrassed when I opened one eye to let him know I had heard.)

In 2011, I brought back a Sony laptop from New York. It became totally dysfunctional in short order. The local service center proved entirely, even arrogantly unhelpful. It comes back to life occasionally, I guess when someone at IB is feeling magnanimous. Last week I could use it to surf the web. Today I can't get it to boot.

Forgot to mention that a Samsung I bought in Mumbai in 2008 also became dysfunctional, but the guy at the service center found the problem: ants nesting inside. They ate up some vital ingredient and now it too will not turn on.  

Back in Goa, my cleaning lady came in one morning and asked me to get her a sim card. As it is illegal in India to get someone else a mobile phone connection, I declined. She refused my offer to accompany her to the shop and stand guarantor. That evening there were bomb blasts in Hyderabad, and I realized that I might have escaped entrapment very narrowly.

I wanted to go to the World Social Forum in Tunis and my attempt to get a visa set off all kinds of unexpected repercussions. Here I must resort to a link, for the story is too complex to summarize.

After I wrote about what had happened, a reader suggested that I complain to the Home Ministry. The Ministry passed the buck to the Home Secretary in Goa, who evidently initiated a police inquiry.

I got a call from the Dona Paula Police Station and went there to make a statement. In the course of my narration I mentioned the Hyderabad blasts.

Whether my statement was an FIR or not, it obviously must have put someone's nose seriously out of joint, for the harassment became intense.

There was urine in my microwave oven. (I forgot to mention, they seem to have full access to my apartment.) There was human excreta on an inside page of one of my newspapers.

The food I ordered from restaurants invariably came spilled loose inside their plastic bags. Dry food came liberally laced with grit. If I went myself to get the food, an IB flunky would -- with a very in your face attitude -- appear beside me at the counter and get anywhere from a third to a half of what I had ordered.

When this was at its height, I emailed the Governor of Goa, who I had met at an art gallery opening, suggesting we collaborate on a book about Indian intelligence. (He was the former head of RAW.) He declined, but it stopped the harassment: whoever was responsible was obviously reading my email.

I also tried to get a lawyer to file suit against the IB but had no luck finding one to take the case. (By the way, according to reports, none of India's intelligence agencies responds to RTI requests although they are supposed to do so in cases of infringement of human rights.)

In the period that followed there were successive efforts at entrapment.

At a musical evening at Taleigao Church a pimply teenager sat leaning into me. The man next to her whispered "Are you doing it?" Whatever it was she was supposed to do, I did not wait to find out.

At a film showing the man in the next seat was reaching for my crotch and I was getting ready to clock him when he suddenly sprang from his seat and literally ran up the aisle. (Did someone monitoring my responses tell him to run for it?)

On an evening visit to the Magsons supermarket at Caculo Mall as I was passing through a dim stretch of street a little kid leaped on the back of my bicycle; if I hadn't let out an inadvertent yell that scared him off, it might have turned nasty. (The papers then were full of rapes and assaults on kids.)

A continuing element of the IB activity is the interception of my incoming telephone calls. Because of that, it is impossible for anyone to reach me. Most calls I make go through two stages. In the first, a "No network coverage" or other service denial message flashes on my phone. In the second, if the call is deemed allowable, it goes through; otherwise it beeps off.

What leads me to write this lengthy resume of my interactions with the Intelligence Bureau is what I've just gone through with a real estate broker. Perhaps the tale is best told by the letter I emailed her yesterday.

Dear M------,

Given the possibility of fraud because of the non-return of my HDFC cheque number xxxxx I am putting on record the circumstances in which I wrote it.

You asked me for a cheque of Rs.23,000/- as earnest of intent in negotiating the rental of an apartment at Kamat Royale, Caranzalem owned by Mr.xxxxx xxxxx, also resident in the same compound.

When I received the draft agreement from the owner I realized that it would be impossible to have him for a landlord and told you I was not interested in pursuing the matter.

That was in the second week of April.

When I queried you about not receiving the cheque back you told me Mr. xxxxx had cashed it. Upon checking with my bank I found out it had not been cashed and put a stop payment block on it.

Since then I have repeatedly asked for the return of the cheque and you have told me that Mr. xxxxx was travelling and out of reach.

Yesterday (30 April), when I was told that again, I asked for his phone number so I could clarify his intentions. You agreed to give me the number but then the line was disconnected.

Following that, I sent a phone text message putting the matter on record.

This email message is for the same purpose, only in more detail."

What is behind this situation is anyone's guess, but the fact that I have felt the need to write the letter to protect myself in the event of an elaborate IB fraud speaks volumes. 

It is legitimate to wonder how much it has cost the Indian taxpayer for the IB to play its paranoid little Spy games with a journalist too brash to be good at any kind of deception.

Will they ever get tired? Or will someone ever tell them to stop?
 
 .      

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Africa Story

The Africa story in the world mass media is relentlessly negative.

If it is not the AIDS pandemic, it's Ebola.

If it's not the long-running fratricidal conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Mobutu's Zaire, Patrice Lumumba's Congo, the Belgian Congo, and one of the largest tribal confederacies in Africa), it's:

1. The Boko Haram in Nigeria

2. The Muslim extremists in Somalia,

3. The civil war in the Sudan

4. The murder of migrant workers in South Africa

5. Terrorism in Libya

6. The turmoil in Egypt

7. The Lord's Resistance Army in Kenya (where some mainstream leaders have been hauled up before the International Criminal Court)

There is never any effort on the part of the international media to look behind this seemingly hopeless mess.

When people fleeing the continent die in the hundreds crossing the Mediterranean, the focus is on the crocodile tears shed by "liberals" and the efforts of do-gooding NGOs, never on what they are fleeing from.

In all the massive international coverage of the drowning of over 300 people in the Mediterranean, no one thought to recall one simple staggering statistic that was in the headlines in 2013: that illegal transfers of wealth out of Africa in the last three decades amounted to $1.4 trillion.

The mayhem forcing the desperate flight out of Africa is directly related to those transfers.

The beneficiaries of the illegal transfers are all in the wealthy countries of the North.

The mechanism to transfer the wealth is managed by the wealthiest of banks in mainly two countries, Britain and Switzerland.

But international mass media are silent about those Satanic connections.

They hear no evil, see no evil, and never ever speak any evil.

African leaders must deal with this conspiracy of silence by speaking about the connections at every chance.

The real story of Africa is one of enormous potential.

It is also one of massive struggle: the African Union is the most advanced experiment in South-South Cooperation in any region.

Given the odds, it has been a stupendous success.

That is a record to be proud of, to boast about.

We should all participate.