Sunday, July 27, 2014

From Monkey Trial to Genocide by Germs

In February 1925 the American state of Tennessee adopted legislation making it unlawful “to teach any theory that denies the story of divine creation as taught by the Bible and to teach instead that man was descended from a lower order of animals.” The American Civil Liberties Union responded with advertisements in Tennessee papers, offering to support anyone who would challenge the law in court, and a group of businessmen in Dayton, thinking of all the attention and visitors the case would draw to their drowsy town, put up a 24-year old science teacher and football coach, John Scopes.
The Scopes “monkey trial” was pure theater. 
The prosecution team was led by three-time Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, whose eloquent campaigning against Darwin had led 15 states to initiate action to ban the teaching of the theory of evolution. Clarence Darrow, one of the most famous lawyers of his day, headed the Defence. 
The general expectation of fireworks was met in full measure. At one point, reported  H.L. Mencken in The New Yorker, “Mr. Bryan sprang to his feet, his face purple, and shook his fist in the lowering, gnarled face of Mr. Darrow” and shouted that he was trying to “protect the word of God from the greatest atheist and agnostic in the United States." Mr. Darrow, for his part, said he was trying "to prevent bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the educational system of the United States." 
In a move the presiding judge allowed reluctantly, Darrow called Bryan himself to the witness chair, but after he made the pious old politician look ridiculous, the cross-examination was struck from the record. The 12-man jury, 11 of them devout Christians, found Scopes guilty. In the court of public opinion, however, Darwin triumphed. Only two of the 15 States (Tennessee being one) actually banned the teaching of evolution, and Scopes himself got off on appeal. (Although widely breached, the Tennessee law stayed on the books for another 43 years before the Supreme Court struck it down.) 
The Scopes trial was widely assumed to have marked the end of the public controversy over Darwin versus God, but that was not so. In 2005 the matter was back in an American court, this time in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where a group of parents sued the Dover School Board for requiring science teachers to read a statement to 9th Grade biology students that evolution was “not a fact,” but a theory on par with “Intelligent Design.” 
Students were told of a “reference book,” Of Pandas and People that explained Intelligent Design.
 The parents asserted in their initial filing that intelligent design was “neither scientific nor a theory in the scientific sense;” that it was “an inherently religious argument or assertion” that was “consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” 
The Defence argued that its position was not religious. Appearing as an expert witness, a biochemist at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Professor Michael Behe, compared intelligent design to the widely accepted Big Bang theory in physics that explains the origin of the universe. Both were arrived at by using inductive reasoning based on scientifically observable clues; both raised questions about primary causes that had clear theological implications. 
The strategy did not work. 
In a scathing 139-page ruling, Judge John Jones of the US District Court in Harrisburg found for the plaintiffs, declaring that it was unconstitutional to teach Intelligent Design in public school because it was not science but a “religious” viewpoint advanced by a “particular version of Christianity.” Excoriating the School Board for a decision of “breath-taking inanity” he ordered it to pay the substantial legal expenses incurred by the plaintiffs. 
The judgment was generally applauded by those who considered themselves liberal and progressive, an outcome both ill-considered and dangerous. 
Ill-considered, because it undermined the traditional liberal view that Darwin’s theory must be contained by a strong moral framework if it is not to be an argument for the most regressive social policies. Dangerous, because we are now in an age when small groups have unprecedented power to commit surreptitious genocide. 
The full title of Darwin’s 1859 book was “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” 
The German philosopher Freidreich Nietzsche, who was 15 when Origin of Species came out, had by 1886, distilled Darwinism into an argument for the utterly amoral reign of power. 
In “Beyond Good and Evil” he argued that in every form of life there is “an incarnate will to power” that “will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant -— not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power... ‘Exploitation’... belongs to the essence of what lives, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the will to power, which is after all the will to life.” 
He was clear also on what that implied: “Suppose, finally, we succeed in explaining our entire instinctive life as the development and ramification of one basic form of the will—namely, of the will to power, as my proposition has it ... then one would have gained the right to determine all efficient force unequivocally as — will to power. The world viewed from inside ... would be ‘will to power’ and nothing else.” 
That insane vision lit Hitler’s path to power and fired the gas chambers of Dachau and Buchenwald. Its miasmic influence continued in colonial attitudes that have shaped the openly criminal policies of post-colonial Europe in Africa and Asia. 
The "religious" perspective on life is essential to counter this brutal madness of power.

It brings to the fore the reality that human life is not a pitiless desert of power relationships. While competition for resources is indeed pervasive, so are cooperation and compassion. It is only to the extent that the latter have framed and contained the depredations of power that human civilization has advanced.
Beyond the politics of the matter, there is the quite weighty case for Intelligent Design that rests on plain common sense. The theory of evolution only explains some of the physical processes that have governed the emergence of life on Earth; it cannot and does not address its purpose, meaning and mystery. 
Science cannot touch those issues because they are not measurable. The most it can do is postulate the spiritual as a shadow of material interests and present it in terms of brain waves and blood chemistry. 
Those who say that instruction on moral and spiritual issues has no place in the teaching of science are surely out of touch with a modern world confronted with test-tube babies grown to be harvested for body parts, the cloning of the dead, and the potential to use genetically engineered diseases to cull the human species of the defenceless poor. Consider the following: 
  • The laboratory creation of the HIV-AIDS virus in the Belgian Congo and its initial “escape” into the African population in the 1950s remains a story shrouded in unanswered questions and outright disinformation. (A 2005 Discovery Channel documentary provided an excellent overview; when last I looked it was available on-line.)
  • The smallpox virus, the last remnants of which were supposed to have been eliminated in 1999, lives on in a number of military laboratories, and is the focus of opaque experimentation. Australian scientists have reportedly tried to grow a more aggressively contagious strain.
  • Scientists have resurrected from the tissue fragments of long-dead victims, the potent Spanish Flu virus that killed some 25 million people in 1918. Ostensibly to help scientists prepare defences against a natural return of the virus, the genetic blueprint of this deadly pathogen was made available on the World Wide Web. 

It is not just the poor who have been victims of bacteriological attack; some of the most powerful people on earth have been targets.
After the 9/11 attacks, the United States Congress had to be shut down in the face of an anthrax attack; the strain used was later traced to a military laboratory and a South African scientist who had been part of apartheid era experiments in his own country.
He was never tried. The whole affair has remained buried in dark theories of conspiracy that pull in the sudden, unexplained deaths of a number of other scientists who could have been prosecution witnesses. 
Similar theories have surrounded the emergence in recent decades of the various strains of the SARS virus in Asia and the Ebola virus in Africa. 
The Ebola virus, which causes a catastrophic internal collapse in its victims, dates back to the same period as the origin of the HIV-AIDS virus and was probably rooted in the same European fear of “losing Africa.” Its current outbreak in West Africa – the worst in history – follows an African effort to raise the issues of money laundering and drug trafficking in the context of the post-2015 development agenda. 
Meanwhile there has also been a sudden upsurge of contagious diseases in increasingly assertive Asia.
In addition to recurring “bird flu” and "swine flu," China has just been hit with bubonic plague. It has quarantined an entire district. 
India has had not only experienced sudden clusters of contagion in recent years (encephalitis in Bengal most recently), it has clearly been set up for something catastrophic. 

In 2010, the British medical journal The Lancet carried a supposedly peer reviewed article on an antibiotic-resistant "Superbug" the authors claimed to have found in Delhi.

The day after publication the primary Indian co-author told the Press that The Lancet version was a major distortion of what he had put his name to; he charged that his British counterpart had "edited" the findings without telling anyone. The Lancet then refused to carry a correction because of "lack of space." (A recent vaguely referenced Press report about another study claiming that India suffered a million unregistered unnatural deaths annually left me wondering if that was true or if someone was setting the scene for grim things to come.)    
Given the apocalypse by virus theme of much of Western creative culture in recent decades, it is not too far-fetched to speculate about the underlying socio-political reality. 
Could those who feel threatened by the rise of Africa and Asia be planning great depopulating plagues? 
 African and Asian governments must take that possibility seriously and respond by bringing the issue out of the shadows. 
They can do so with two initiatives: make a determined push to give enforcement powers to the now toothless Convention on Biological (Bacteriological) Weapons; and initiate a process to build a case for presentation to the International Criminal Court. The latter will involve mapping every laboratory involved in relevant research and compiling the names of all scientists involved. 
They can also begin looking at communicable disease as an existential threat, warranting a general social mobilization equivalent to the struggles for political independence. 
That is the least they can do, especially given the plentiful historical evidence that European elites will engage in genocide for profit or to preserve their power.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How to Reform the UN Security Council in 2014

The Security Council has been without doubt the greatest failure of the United Nations.

Its five “permanent members” (Britain, China, France, Russian Federation and United States), have not only failed to use their privileged position under the Charter to promote world peace, they have actively sabotaged it.

 This is not a matter of opinion. Hard statistics show that the five, along with Germany, are the world’s leading arms merchants and by all accounts they have been the primary source of global tensions and insecurity for the last six decades.

 Over that period the landscape and dynamics of global power have changed significantly, and although the five admit it, they have also marshalled a wily resistance to changing the composition of the Council to reflect the new realities.

 The reasons for that opposition are not legitimate: they are resisting change to protect the narrowest of elite interests in the highly criminalized world order they have built.   

In such a situation, the rest of the organization’s membership must act to force a fundamental reform of the Security Council.

The stratagem to that end is easy to explain.

At the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, the African, Asian and Latin American-Caribbean groups should agree to support only those candidates for non-permanent membership of the Security Council who commit beforehand not to take their seats.

That will render the Council as a whole inoperative because the UN Charter requires it to have 15 members.

Under its 1950 “Uniting for Peace” resolution (number 377), the General Assembly established the precedent that it can take over the functions of the Security Council when it is unable to act. Even if constitutionalists argue that the precedent is not valid, the Assembly can cite it in adopting a new resolution to take over the Council’s functions until such time as it is able to function again.

This course of action will deprive the P-5 of their special status in the Council and force them into negotiations with other power centres to get back what they can of it; in effect, that will bring to the fore the new realities of global power.

As there will be much roaring, thundering and tempting blandishments from P-5 members who have most to lose, those pushing for reform must be prepared to maintain their unity until an agreed minimum agenda of change is achieved; at the same time, it is unlikely that the Permanent Members will be able to maintain any kind of united front, for they face very different circumstances.

The United States, which has the least to lose because it is in reality a global Power, might actually end up supporting the initiative because of its impact on the other four Permanent Members.

The Russian Federation, for instance, will find very little backing for its Big Power ambitions and might rapidly reverse the current drift towards a new Cold War.

Britain and France will have to be diplomatically very nimble to keep their Permanent Member status against German-backed European Union pressure for some form of unified or rotating representation. Of the two, Britain will have a better range of options because it can not only call up wars and targeted murders, it has the means (from global organized crime) to pay trillion dollar bribes.

China will be in an extremely uncomfortable position. Caught between the reality of its Great Power ambitions and the rhetoric of South-South unity, it will have to come to grips with its regional unpopularity and Japan’s push for Permanent membership.

How the situation will work out is entirely up in the air, but one thing is certain: the current smug and stagnant corruption of the Security Council will have to come to an end.

That can only be for the overall good.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Open Letter to UN Diplomats

Hey Guys,

I’m writing to tell you what I think of your latest “Zero Draft” of post 2015 Development Goals .

Sorry to be so blunt, but it seems to me you're trying to avoid real issues.

 Take the first sentence. “Poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.”

That sounds fine, but is it true?

Isn’t poverty just a symptom?

Of what, you ask?

Well, to begin with, of the theft of trillions of dollars from poor countries by corporations that misprice their trade flows.

Then there’s the problem that economists call “commercial wars” that spring from the “resource curse.” (Don’t you just love how economists whitewash grisly realities? It’s as if some great wizard in the sky cursed us with wars that actually result from criminal conspiracies.)

Those little wars are a major cause of extreme poverty. Take the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s one of the richest countries in the world, but also among the poorest because ever since the Europeans “scrambled for Africa” in the 19th Century, they’ve been stealing its wealth under one pretext or other (take a bow Belgian and French diplomats!).

That has happened throughout English-speaking Africa too (British diplomats take a bow!).

In Asia, the theft of resources has happened most often under cover of “Islamic terrorism” (British get the credit again), and in Latin America “Left guerrillas” and “drug lords” have been the fall guys (Americans take a bow!)

Drug trafficking needs special mention as a generator of poverty. It’s a $500 billion a year phenomenon, but most of that money goes to the same rich bankers noted earlier. If you ever wondered why Western bankers get such astronomical “bonuses,” that’s why: they keep the global criminal economy going, to the tune of anywhere between $4 trillion and $7 trillion a year.

Of course, they share it with the people who help them manage that underground economy. Every terrorist group in the world gets a cut: Al Qaeda, Taliban, Islamic Caliphate, Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army, Naxalites, Neo-Nazis; you name it, they get it. The Colombian drug cartels, the Mexican drug lords and the Central American murder squads all get funded too.

By the way, every one of those terror groups is a major producer of poverty for they make development impossible in many developing countries. The Naxalites we have in India specialize in destroying schools.

The bankers also plough much of the drug money back into other thriving businesses: producing counterfeit items in sweat shops in poor countries, environmental crime, and international trade of women and children for prostitution. The trade in counterfeit items, including medicines, now generates more returns than illicit drugs. The trade in endangered animals and body parts is a nearly $300 billion industry.

None of these “businesses” give non-criminals a living wage; all generate and sustain poverty big time.

I know you guys feel bad about all this and have just the right politically correct statements if the Press should call; but you’re also “realists” who know there’s no use wasting time on problems the rich and powerful don’t want solved, right?

So I know why your “Zero draft” is filled with noble goals like End poverty and hunger, Provide quality education for all, Attain health for all, as well as gender equality, secure water, sanitation, affordable energy, decent jobs, and so on.

Those are all issues poor countries can deal with on their own if they were free from massive theft of resources and constant economic and political subversion.

What we need the UN to do is deal with matters on which the poor have no purchase.

Those problems are not mentioned at all in your draft.

In case you are open to suggestions, here’s what I think the post-2015 Development Agenda should contain:

1. Introduction

The world stands on the cusp of a period of enormous promise. The new and emerging realities of the Information Age allow us to envisage a world in which we can make mass poverty, the threat of climate change and global environmental pollution the fading memories of a bygone era.

To realize that potential we have to deal effectively with the legacy of the Industrial era in which those issues are rooted. The first step in that process is to recognize the systemic nature of all existing global crises, including those already mentioned as well as endemic armed conflict, terrorism and rampant organized crime. They are not discrete problems and cannot be dealt with symptomatically.

The root systemic problem is a global criminal elite that rose to power during the colonial era; a meaningful post 2015 development agenda must disempower and dismantle it. The following goals are oriented to that end.

2. Goals & Implementation

A. Peace: The United Nations was meant to end war. The Security Council was created with its five “Big Power” Permanent Members to enforce action to that end. Instead, the five have become the world’s biggest arms merchants and supporters of war. Over the last six decades the five have promoted endless conflicts in poor countries that have not only killed well over a hundred million people but have drained them of wealth, blocked their development and trapped them in poverty.

To get things back on the track set by the UN Charter Development Goal #1 must be to end proxy wars in developing countries and establish a general peace by 2030.

The UN Secretariat should list all ongoing wars and create groups of independent experts to report on who is supporting them and identify the ultimate beneficiaries. The Security Council should be charged with meeting the 2030 goal and indeed, for accomplishing the larger task of general and complete disarmament. (In case you’ve forgotten, the General Assembly set the framework for such action in a 1961 resolution incorporating the McCloy-Zorin agreement between Washington and Moscow.)

B. Organized Crime: Through most of history, crime has been a local affair. It became global with colonialism and its ancillary crimes against humanity such as genocide, the slave trade and slavery.

When political decolonization set in after World War II, that criminal system disappeared “underground.” That is to say, the Big Powers that control world mass media began to pretend that it was all a deep mystery to them and that they had no control of it. The “war on drugs” is a typical outcome of such policy.

The trafficking of opium and heroin began as a “legitimate” colonial activity in the 18th Century; it was internationally recognized as a crime in 1912 but continued “underground” and became vastly more profitable as colonial Powers enlisted organized crime groups to expand markets and protect their turf.

Members of the British financial and political elite have continued to be in control globally because they run the system that launders drug money. They make obscenely large profits and spread corruption and endless violence throughout the world. Development Goal #2 must be to end all drug trafficking.

That will require ending the “war on drugs,” declaring all drugs legal, and providing them free as subscription pharmaceutical items. This will cost only a fraction of the “war on drugs” but will be far more effective: by knocking out all profit from trafficking it will remove the only reason why Organized crime is involved. Without drug pushers and their constant violence, governments can deal with the issue as one of mental and public health.

The General Assembly is set to have a special session in 2016 to focus comprehensively on the drug issue. Governments should use that session to amend the existing prohibitionist international drug Conventions and make them vehicles of the new policy.

C. Taxation: As long as there are taxes on income and profit, there will be people who cheat and honest people will always be at a disadvantage. That burden on the honest is a penalty on society as a whole. Governments should recognize that there are no police solutions to this problem; laws, regulations and enforcement agencies aimed at controlling economic forces only create more corruption. The only way to guide economic forces towards beneficial ends is by a market-driven system of incentives and punishments.

Development Goal #3 must be to abolish all taxes on personal and corporate income and profit while maintaining revenue neutrality with new imposts on immovable property.

Without taxes on income and profits there will be no incentive to hold black money; Governments should encourage all of it to surface by offering a general amnesty for those who invest their funds in long-term, profit bearing development bonds. Twinning that with the threat of prison terms for those found not to have revealed their holdings, and the offer to award all funds to informers should ensure full disclosure. These measures should make available a vast corpus of funds for development, more than enough to help all societies achieve the material goals in the current Zero Draft.

D. The Information Era: We are within a decade of having all people on the planet connected by mobile phone networks and broadband Internet. That opens the door to a range of new efficiencies in social interaction. It is not just e-governance and e-commerce, distance education and remotely administered medical care. There is spectacular potential in cloud-based data banks holding vast amounts of geospatially organized information that any smart phone can access and add to.

We are looking at the evolution of what has been called “the global brain,” with the strong possibility that a meta-consciousness will eventually emerge.

Two UN conferences in 2003 and 2005 promulgated the preliminary steps necessary for the healthy evolution of a World Information Society; it is now necessary to look farther ahead and decide on the mechanics, ethics, economics and politics of a fully interactive world.

Development Goal #4 should be to put in place by 2030 a global system to maximize the beneficial efficiencies of global connectivity.

The core effort to realize this goal should be the reform of the UN System, which is now a bureaucratic relic reflecting the brick and mortar realities of the 19th Century. The reform effort should aim to make each part of the thematically differentiated System the hub of global networks facilitating the work of a web of interconnected individuals, civil society organizations, corporations and governmental stakeholders.

C. Spiritual Development: As the world enters a new era of peace and material well-being, it will be necessary to address larger issues such as the nature of human evolution and its connection to universal realities. It will also be necessary to deal with the legacy issues of our swift ascent from barbarity manifested in attitudes such as religious intolerance, gender discrimination and abuse of other life forms.

Development Goal #5 should be an annually updated world map of spiritual progress based on the realization of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and established standards for the ethical treatment of animals.

Every country should map its own progress and discuss it publicly before submitting it to regional and global forums for comment. The UN Commissioner for Human Rights should compile the national submissions into the annual map and flag issues for discussion in the Human Rights Council.

Dear UN delegates,
I hope you do not think these goals are too unrealistic for action. They are the bare minimum if our species is to survive on a liveable planet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What the Vodafone Case Says About India

At one level, it is very simple to explain the position of British phone giant Vodafone in India: because it paid abroad in black money for a lucrative property in the country, it claims that no taxes are owed.

How this situation developed is almost impossible to explain because much that needs understanding is buried in post-colonial debris of which most Indians, including our so-called political class and Intelligence agencies, seem blissfully unaware.

For example, how can we explain the lack of alarm that a British company has become the second largest player in the strategic Indian telecommunications market? No one seems concerned that Britain is the nerve center of the most intense international surveillance effort in history or that it has a long and consistent record of abusing every advantage it has ever been given in India.

To understand our political torpor it is necessary to look to the past and take into account the role of Indian financiers and agents in bringing on and sustaining colonial rule.

When the Europeans first ventured into Indian trade five centuries ago, they found a well-developed market system here, with local, national and international networks of commerce and finance. Indian bankers provided credit and insurance facilities, set exchange rates for a variety of gold and silver coinage from as far afield as Greece and China, and set the terms of trade. European traders found it impossible to operate without Indian partners to help negotiate the system, both to get the loans they needed and to actually buy the supplies they shipped back to Europe.

In the 17th and 18th Centuries the largest and most influential Indian banking houses were run by Marwaris from Rajasthan and Chettiars from Tamil Nadu. Numerous accounts by Portuguese, Dutch, British and French traders attest to their heavy dependence on the support of those houses and on a variety of other Indian agents to trade in the country’s principal marts.

By all accounts, the wealthiest banks in that period were two Marwari houses. One, established by the jeweler turned merchant-banker, Virji Vora operated a pan-Indian network out of Surat (the main Mughal port); it dominated for a 50-year span ending in 1670. The other, founded by a Patna saltpeter trader Hiranand Shah in the last quarter of that Century, became by the early 1700s under his descendants Fateh Chand and Mahtab Rai in Bengal, India’s formally acknowledged “Jagat Seth” (world banker).

While these merchants had excellent business acumen, they had little political sense. That was not a serious failing as long as the Mughal Empire was strong, but after Nadir Shah sacked Delhi in 1739 they were increasingly at sea.

The lack of strategic sense is nowhere clearer than in Jagat Seth Mahtab Rai’s disastrous decision to lend Robert Clive the money with which to bribe Mir Jafar to run away from the 1757 “Battle” of Pilashi (Plassey). He probably thought of it as a convenient way to get rid of the arrogant new Nawab of Bengal, the teenage Suraj-ud-Dowlah; he foresaw neither his own swift ruin and ignominious murder nor the severe famine British oppression would let loose in Bengal, killing some seven million people, a third of the total population.

Throughout British rule in India such death tolls from the famines they created were frequent; yet, amazingly, none of the many Indian financiers and agents that made colonial rule possible ever seems to have had the least compunction about what they were doing to their own people. The nationalist movement drove them into the shadows but they continued to serve the darkest British ends, including arranging for mass communal violence and Partition. (Neither would have been possible without Indian financiers and dalals.)

In the absence of any post-colonial accounting, those who thrived under British rule became part of  independent India’s power structure, and they continued to be wedded to their old paymasters regardless of national repercussions. That continuity is the key to understanding how Vodafone arranged to sneak into India and then was able to pretend that it was the injured party.

However, the collaborators who paved Vodafone's way into the country were not the old dalal breed but two young entrepreneurs, Shashi and Ravi Ruia, whose father, Nand Kishore, had come from Marwar to Madras in 1956 to trade in iron ore. After his sudden death in 1969 the Ruia brothers, both then in their early twenties, expanded their business interests rapidly; that happened just as Britain was consolidating its post-colonial money laundering empire and finding many new clients among Indian businessmen.

In India, the face of that new empire was HSBC, the Hong Kong bank set up in the 19th Century by British drug traffickers; it took over Bombay's Mercantile Bank in 1959 and became the country’s primary conduit for black money.

All who made use of its facilities became vulnerable to blackmail, and to understand how that pertains to the Vodafone case we have to look briefly at how the British used their new clout to take control of Indian mass media.

They had begun the process before independence by arranging to sell the Times of India to a trusted comprador family, and in the decade that followed other financiers who had thrived under colonial rule took over all major publications. Even when there was no change in ownership, as in the The Hindu, British clout soon became evident in editorial content.

In newer media organizations the links were far more overt. The India Today Group emerged from a collaboration of “Lord Thomson of Fleet” and a Punjabi financier who had been neck deep in colonial British intrigues. NDTV was founded by the Anglo-Indian son of an employee of the British multinational Metal Box, and it has yet to cut its umbilical cord to the BBC.

All this led to Indian “elite” media reflecting, at best, a highly Anglo-centric worldview and at the worst becoming conduits for outright British propaganda – recent examples include the Purulia Arms Drop documentary on Times Now, and the vicious anti-Sri Lankan films on Headlines Today.

Not surprisingly, Britain’s devoted – or blackmailed – Indian claque raised no alarms as Vodafone made its stealthy entry into India.

To see just how many times the alarms could have been sounded, we have to return to the story of Shashi and Ravi Ruia, who had in 1976 reconstituted their father's company as ESSAR (S & R, their first name initials).

In 1992 ESSAR teamed up with Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Whampoa, a company that traces its origins to an opium “Dispensary” in Guangzhou established in 1828 by A.S. Watson, under which name it is now the world’s largest retail chain.

A.S. Watson is now part of a conglomerate that takes its name from two other British opium related enterprises, the Hongkong and Whampoa Dock Company and the John D Hutchison Company. Hutchinson Whampoa is now controlled by Chinese billionaire Li Shi-feng who has repeatedly been cited in American media, citing Intelligence sources, as closely linked to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He got his controlling share in the company from HSBC.

That dispensation of Opium Era goodies to the Chinese paved the way to the “One Country-Two Systems” deal that Margaret Thatcher negotiated in returning Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. It cut the corrupt Chinese political-military elite into Britain’s global criminal empire and gave enormous new heft to the “all-weather” alliance between Beijing and Britain's narco-terrorist proxy in Pakistan.

Much of this information has been in the public domain for over two decades, but none of it was reported in Indian media as ESSAR – in the wake of a sudden financial crisis – helped Hutchinson Whampoa enter the Indian market.

In May 2007, Vodafone paid $11.1 billion in black money for the Chinese company’s 67 per cent share in Hutchinson-ESSAR, beating out Reliance Communications, the Hinduja Group and ESSAR itself (which had the remaining 33 per cent of the company).

If the UPA government had not been so riddled with corruption, it could have stopped the transaction altogether on the grounds of national security (as the United States did in preventing a Hutchinson Whampoa takeover of the telecommunications firm Global Crossing). But with moral flakes like Kapil Sibal and Palani Chidambaram representing Indian interests that was never in the cards. The demand for $2.6 billion in taxes was the most assertive action the government dared to take.

Our Brit-proxy media have presented even that demand, and the retrospective law affirming its legality, as deep injury to “investor sentiment” abroad.

Not once has any Indian news organization looked at the dire implications of allowing a massive British company into the innards of our communications system. Not once has anyone complained at Vodafone’s temerity in trying to bully its way out of obeying Indian laws.

As far as our mass media are concerned, we could be back in the days when there was no one to observe or comment on Robert Clive’s insulting offer of a pension of Rs. 1250 to the scion of the Jagat Seth family that he had robbed of uncounted crores.

That is no overblown comparison. Our contemporary merchant princes are being every bit as dumb as the ill fated Jagat Seth. And it is not just the Ruia brothers.

Mukesh Ambani blindsided the Indian government and public in selling an $8 billion stake in Indian offshore gas to BP (British Petroleum), the most predatory oil company in the world; he consummated the transaction in the British Prime Minister's office.

Our media reported that Ambani then asked for police protection but showed no interest in explaining why. They also reported with the same strange lack of curiosity, the statement by the then Oil Minister Verrappa Moily that he had been threatened, as had his predecessors. No one made a connection between those strange reports and the new UPA policy of "freeing" gas prices that exposed the entire Indian economy to rampant inflationary pressures.

The Vodafone case is thus just the tip of an iceberg of British temerity.

More than six decades after our formal political independence India continues to be trapped in a network of British criminalities that range from relentless proxy wars and economic subversions to the threat of biological-bacteriological assault (on which I will elaborate in a later post).

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Changing Land Acquisition

If the BJP government changes the  "Consent" and "Social Impact Assessment" of the Land Acquisition Act in a bid to accelerate development, I suggest it also add two new provisions that will go far to still opposition and serve the ends of justice.

1. It should  put a 99-year limit on the validity of all deals. That will allow those taking the land to make use of it, without depriving owners perpetually. No one can argue that such a provision will seriously hamper development; and it could reduce social impact/deprivation significantly.

2. Mandate that any corporation taking private land should allot a set percentage of shares and stock options over and above the cash compensation. This will provide those who have lost land with a stake in development, and, in combination with provision (1), give them a sense of ownership in what happens. That will itself be a valuable component of development. If the land is taken for public purposes, landowners should be compensated, over and above the purchase price of land, by regular payments from the treasury. Payments should be indexed to rising real estate values that result from public use of the land, and could be from a dedicated fund supported by higher tax revenues.

These two provisions could go a long way to ensure that land acquisition is not a block on necessary development.

It will also bring into perspective the fact that over the next century the Indian population will peak and begin to decline. All development work would benefit from keeping that perspective in view.