2ndlook

Slavery & Oppression – In The West and In India

Posted in Current Affairs, Feminist Issues, History, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on February 18, 2008

The Moral Offensive

In 1901, Dadabhai Naoroji published his famous research – “Poverty and Un-British rule in India”. Before that, his 1876 paper, “Poverty In India” traced the rise of poverty in India due to colonialism. This laid the background for India’s Independence and shaped the strategy of Swadesh and Satyagraha. Fifty years later we were a Republic of the kind the world had never seen.

But …

This moral offensive continued for the next hundred years – provoking Nixon’s reaction during the Bangladesh War. “The Indians put on their sanctimonious peace Gandhi-like, Christ-like attitude,” an angry Nixon observed. Nixon declared, to George Bush Sr., then the USA ambassador to the United Nations, (later the President) on December 8, 1971, “We can’t let these goddamn, sanctimonious Indians get away with this. They’ve pissed on us on Vietnam for five years.”

Harry & Kill – Lord Irwin’s Peace Pact

The use of reverse-propaganda (a European tool) by the Congress against the British was singularly successful – and put the Colonial administration on the moral defensive. The British Colonial administration worn out by the “harry and kill” moral offensive of the Congress made peace. The British Viceroy, Lord Irwin brought some semblance of propriety in colonial administration thereafter. Military war then became less important.

The British response to that was ‘divide et impera’divide and rule; like the Euro-colonial cousins, the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg rulers. In the dying years of the Raj, the colonial administration put up issue of ‘untouchability’ and caste ‘oppression’. Untouchability, the caste system, social prejudices remained significant issues in post colonial India – and it continues to be a much debated and a divisive issue. Harijans, Dalits, manuvadis are terms and names used freely.

How much of this is real? Bad luck. It is a hoisted petard, which will blow up on the those who raise this.

Oppression – And It’s Many Avatars

Legal support for slavery is a feature of the Western and Levantine societies. Trade of human beings in market place had the support of the state. In Europe and USA, laws and courts  slavery. In Indic legal systems, such a feature has not been seen for the last 3000 years. The last Indic system which had explicit slavery laws were the Hittites around 1000BC. To cover up this aspect, and to shore up their image as champions of human rights, Western powers have tried to fuzzy the definition of slavery through the ILO – a creation of the Western powers after WW1.

To get some understanding on the oppression issue, a comparative examination may give a better perspective.

 Indian Removal

Painting by Robert Lindneux (Woolaroc Museum)

Wipe out of the Red Indian Population in North America

In 1492, when Columbus landed in the West Indies, the native American population was 3 million (in the what is currently USA) and more than 10 million in the Americas – and they spoke a 600 languages.

300 years later, they had become tourist attractions. The entire Anglo-Saxon race was against the very existence of the native Red Indian.

The British and the independent Americans were equally brutal with the Red Indians. During the French and Indian Wars, Britain waged a biological warfare against the Red Indians by distributing small pox infected blankets to Red Indians. 70 years later, Andrew Jackson delayed (some say withheld) small pox medical supplies and vaccines from Red Indians.

During the American War of Independence, George Washington, on May 31, 1779 Washington sent his official Instructions to Major General John Sullivan:

Sir: The expedition you are appointed to command is to be directed against the hostile tribes of the six nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible…whence parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, with instruction to do it in the most effectual manner; that the country may not be merely overrun but destroyed

Reminiscent of George Bush threatening the world, either you are for us or against us , George Washington, made a similar remark more than 200 years ago. George Washington wrote to the President of the Continental Congress in 1776:

In my opinion it will be impossible to keep them [Indians] in a state of Neutrality, they must, and no doubt soon will take an active part either for, or against us…

Thomas Jefferson view of the native Red Indians was equally dismissive. He (King George III) has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions… (Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776).

Treaty after treaty was made with Red Indians – which were broken time and again. The Whites coveted everything that the Red Indian had – but mostly, his life. This “land of the free” by all possible (and some impossible) means was soon made land free of the “natives and savages”.

The US President, Andrew Jackson started by (December 8, 1829) posing as a Red Indian sympathiser. He proclaimed

“By persuasion and force they (Red Indians) have been made to retire from river to river and from mountain to mountain, … tribes have become extinct … Surrounded by the whites … which by destroying the resources … doom him to weakness and decay … That this fate surely awaits them if they remain within the limits of the states … Humanity and national honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a calamity.” (parts excised for brevity and ellipsis inserted; bold letters mine).

His solution – remove the Red Indians.

In 1830, 40 years after George Washington became the President, the “land of the free”, a law was passed to make the land free of the native Cherokee (Red Indian) population. The vast prairie lands were expropriated – and the Cherokee Indians were marched out by the US army. This march, Trail Of Tears, signalled the break of treaty by White Anglo Saxons. Land West of the Mississippi were to belong to the Eastern Indians ‘in perpetuity.’

The Red Indians resisted removal and forcible transfers. Their resistance was brutally crushed. By December 4, 1832, Andrew Jackson was saying,

“After a harassing warfare, prolonged by the nature of the country and by the difficulty of procuring subsistence, the Indians were entirely defeated, and the disaffected band dispersed or destroyed. The result has been creditable to the troops engaged in the service. Severe as is the lesson to the Indians, it was rendered necessary by their unprovoked aggressions, and it is to be hoped that its impression will be permanent and salutary.” (bold letters mine)

Gen. Winfield Scott was sent in May 1938, (with an army) to deliver the ultimatum to the Cherokees. Move or we will make you. At your cost.

President Woodrow Wilson echoes the ideology behind the alleged “genocide” –

“The experience of Liberia and Haiti show that the African race are devoid of any capacity for political organisation… there is an inherent tendency to revert to savagery and to cast aside the shackles of civilisation which are irksome to their physical nature. Our industries have expanded to such a point that they will burst their jackets… Our domestic markets no longer suffice; we need foreign markets. In the matter of Chinese and Japanese coolie immigration, I stand for the national policy of exclusion… We cannot allow a homogeneous population of a people who do not blend with the Caucasian race.”

Just like Romani Gypsy and Australian aboriginal children were taken away from their parents, Red Indian children were also removed. In different continents, at different times, similar tactics were used by Europeans and the Anglo Saxons in the colonies.

Aborigines

In 1788, the estimated Aboriginal population was 7,50,000. By 1911, the survivors, were estimated at 31,000. Prior to the Anglo-Saxon settlement, “Australia was an ‘empty land’ because its inhabitants did not count as human“. Today, the Anglo-Saxon race prides itself for the building of Australia. Australia was a British colony and till date the Queen (or King) of Britain is the head of State for Australia.

Consider a one-time leader of the ‘free world’, the British Prime Minister during WW2, one time Chancellor Of The Exchequer, Winston Churchill, had his views on Arabs, Indians, Aborigines, Red Indians -

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.

Churchill similarly had highly enlightened views on Arabs. After all “the Arabs are a backwards people who eat nothing but Camel dung.” was Churchill’s stated stand.

One of the main causes of deaths was public health. In India, in the early 19th century, an estimated 25 million died due the cholera epidemic – as the colonial Government did not bother (to give them the benefit of any doubt). In Northern Ireland, during the Irish Famine, the then British Prime Minster with held supplies and essential aid from starving Irishmen. In USA, the Government delayed allocations to fight small pox, 20 years after similar actions for the Whites. Similarly from the Australian aborigines.

From 1860-1960

Little changed in 100 years after the American Civil War – except the matter of 25 million missing Blacks. At the start of the Civil War, the White Population of North and South was 22 million. And Blacks was 5 million. By 1960, the White population had grown by nearly 800%, to 160 million. The Black population in the meantime had grown by only 400% – from 5 million to 20 million.

What happened to the missing 400% of Black population growth? Apologists (and defenders) use white immigration to explain away some of the difference. But that further compounds the problem – because there was also about 1 million of Black immigration from Haiti, Jamaica, Africa and other countries.

Mortality amongst Blacks due to AIDS is higher than for Whites – 60,000 higher Black deaths every year. The New England Journal Of Medicine states,

Among patients infected with HIV, blacks were significantly less likely than whites to have received antiretroviral therapy or PCP prophylaxis when they were first referred to an HIV clinic“.

Nett, nett – about 20-25 million Blacks are missing. Due to deprivation, poor health care and indifference. The maths? US population today is 300 million. Black population was estimated 4-5 million and whites at 20-22 million at the start of the Civil war in 1860. By the 1860 ratios, there should be another 20 million to 25 million Blacks in the USA.

Woodrow Wilson Plugging Birth Of A Nation & KKKBut rights and equality is something else

From 1865 to 1965 Blacks though no longer bought and sold – were still excluded from the political and social systems – in the land of the free. The Freedman’s Bureau made the ‘free’ blacks into poor sharecroppers and destitute. The Ku Klux Klan became a vigilante group to ensure that Blacks stayed where they were – at the bottom of the economic, social and political ladder.

By 1890’s the disenfranchisement laws came into effect – which ensured that the disproportionate numbers of Blacks could not vote. Petty crime (where poor) where Blacks were convicted in higher ratios were grounds for disenfranchisement. These laws ensured that 10 times higher number of Blacks were disqualified compared to Whites. If that is not bad enough, it continues till now. After some 60,000 Black Voters were disenfranchised, George Bush, technically, won by less than 1000 votes (most were expected to vote against George Bush). Such tactics continue to be used to limit Black participation in democracy.

Martin Luther King in the Birmingham Alabama Jail April, 1963

The re-emergence of the Ku Klux Klan in its second avatar continued with its agenda of Black subjugation till the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The second coming was a mainstream event with President Woodrow Wilson endorsing the film and the message.

Black Emancipation

Black emancipation in the USA is a 1970s phenomenon, 30+ years ago event – and not 200 years ago as this article in New York Times seems to make out.

It took non-violent protests (Martin Luther King, inspired by Gandhiji) and violent threats (Malcolm X) for ‘emancipation’ and equity to come in. In the Cold War scenario, under international media glare, during the Little Rock School stand-off, Eisenhower (a Southerner himself) reacted.

Al Haj Malik Shabazz aka Malcolm XReluctantly,in 1954, he sent in the National Guard to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce de-segregation. The Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas closed down the school rather than de-segregate. The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation during the Kennedy years produced the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Demonise, Genocide and Apologise

Now that there are only a few Red Indians and aborigines left – they serve as tourist attractions. The ritual of regret and apology about their role in the genocidal past. Since, the “Jewish Problem” was solved by Hitler (there are hardly 1 million Jews left in Europe and 5 million in USA), the West and USA has no problems, anymore with the Jews. Australia, Canada and France have tendered their ritualistic apologies – and start demonizing someone else.

In fact, Jews today serve a useful purpose to the West. After the Anglo-Saxon led alliance broke up the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East (post WW1), the Israelis were introduced into the Middle East after WW2 as the Western cat’s paw. They have been suborned to the job of keeping a lid on the simmering oil rich, Middle East, and keeping it in check.

What is the real cost to the USA – an inflated arms bill. They make up the cost of supplying free arms to Israel by selling the same arms to the oil rich sheikhs. What does it cost Israel to serve as the ‘America’s terrible swift sword in the desert’ – millions of precious Jewish lives, lost in the fight to keep the Anglo Saxons in luxury.

Western demonisation of Islam has replaced the Jewish demonisation (Shakespeare joined in with his anti-Semitic Merchant Of Venice). Without taking responsibility for the destabilisation of the Islamic World by the liquidation of the Ottoman Empire after WW1 – perpetrated by Anglo-Saxon countries and the French.

The Greatest Suffering

The Blacks in the USA and Europe have seen some justice – as they were an important constituency in the Cold War. USA propaganda was on the verge of losing Africa to Soviet Russia. The Jews have been very persistent and they have not let the world forget – or the perpetrators rest in peace.

The forgotten lot is that that of the Romani Gypsies. This one segment based in Europe and USA continues to remain on the fringes and discriminated. They have been hunted (like forest animals), their children kidnapped (to end their race and social system), they have been gassed (by Hitler along with the Jews), they have been galley slaves, In fact there was a time when they could be killed, if found alive!

The History Of King Leopold-II & Congo

“Dr.Livingstone, I presume!” and that is how Henry Stanley made his name and the life of Congolese miserable. Based on this incident, he was given a contract by King Leopold-II to establish “trading posts along the Congo River”. In time, like with other colonial possessions, with a mix of fraud, guile, deceit, force, massacre and other such ‘civilised’ norms by ‘Christian’ civilisers, Congo was also made into a colony. By King Leopold-II of Belgium, in his personal capacity.

King Leopold King Leopold (current king’s predecessor 3 times away) was murderer. Plain and simple.

What happened was that in 1871, King Leopold decided that he needed to get respect. So he called for the Brussels Conference. His colleague, Otto Von Bismarck, of Germany got into the act and called for the Berlin conference. Plans were hatched and agreements signed.

Based on Dr.Livingstone’s propaganda, it was decided there that Europe will directly enslave the Africans - instead of the the Arabs. At that time 90%of Africa was free. In the next 20 years, 90% of Africa was colonialised.

King Leopold’s personally owned the Belgian Congo territory. His personal army-men and his personal agents killed more than 1 crore people. When hardly any Congolese were left, he sold Belgian Congo to his own country for GBP3.8 million. Congo was a major producer of rubber – and the King’s agents kidnapped African families – and released them against collections of natural rubber from African forests.

To understand oppression better, we also need to look at the genesis of the various religions across the world.

The Desert Religions

Judaism, Christianity, Islam were all born within 500 miles of each other and share a common culture and history. Judaism can be said to have been born when Moses led the Hebrew slaves from the Pharoah (across the Red Sea) to freedom. This possibly happened around 500 BC at the latest to 1500 BC at the earliest. His earliest followers were the Hebrews and they were a significant part of the Middle Eastern history all through till today.

The next major religious reformer in the Middle East was Jesus Christ. For the first 300 years, Roman slaves were the major believers in his teachings. Emperor Constantine earned the loyalty of his Christian troops and won the war for Roman throne by his win over Maxentius at Milvan Bridge. Prior to Maxentius, for the previous 30-40 years, Christians had been persecuted by “rule of four’ Tetrarchy reformists in Rome, headed by Diocletan. Hence, the Christian slave soldiers of Constantine were eager for victory – as the persecution under Maxentius would have been worse.

Liberated slaves were the founders and rulers of Islamic dynasties, (in India, the Slave dynasty – builders of Qutub minar). Thus all the three “desert religions” were first adopted by the slaves and only after gaining significant numbers of adherents, these religions became mainstream and commenced aggressive proselytising and conversions.

What’s Going On Here

‘Caste systems’ (by different names) are prevalent all over the world, in all societies, based on colour, race, income, wealth, education, social status, political position, et al. Most such ‘caste systems’ have no force of the state behind it or are legal. They are the burakumin in Japan today and the Blacks in Europe and USA. The most ‘respected’ caste system is the British nobility which exists even today – a caste system, approved by law. In India, colonial administration encouraged and increased divisions within society. Through propaganda efforts of the ILO, the Indian caste system, is now being equated with slavery.

Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) continued in the “desert bloc” till the 20th century. In the Indic territories, it was an inherited institution – and last seen in the Hittite rule around 1000BC. Faced with West Asian reluctance to give up slavery, Indo-Aryan rulers disengaged politically from West Asia and Middle East from around 1000 BC. Possibly, the slave revolt of Egypt by Moses itself was a result of the liberalising laws of the Hittites. Hence the fade out of the Indic rule from the Middle East – but the continuation of Buddhist influences, trade and peoples contact.

Reformers In India

After the slave revolts in the Middle East, India was witness to major renewal movements. More than a 100 Bodhisattvas and 24 Jain Tirthankaras were major figures in India’s renewal after the slave revolts in the Middle East. Modern history, influenced by Western historiography, recognizes only the “ahimsa twins” – Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira.The “ahimsa twins” – Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira were both princes of royal blood – Prince Siddharth and Prince Mahavira.

Their first adherents were the rulers and their methods of proselytising was also aimed at the ruling class. Ashoka The Great sent missions with his daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka – where Buddhism was established.

Guru Nanak Dev came from the upper caste family and his focus was to end feuding on the basis of caste and creed. His first converts were from upper class families cutting across religions – and hence the opposition from some of the Mughal Kings.

Gandhiji was from the upper caste and the first item on his reform agenda was end to the “bhangis” carrying fecal refuse on their heads. His initial focus was social reform and less of anti-British activities.

Half the world today follows Indic religions and culture. The other half follows the “desert religions”. The development trajectories of these two halves has been significantly different. The motivations, behavioural and acceptable civilisational norms for these blocs are different – and mostly opposite.

Same difference?

Based on the above most notorious cases of oppression, there are some clear markers for to ‘real oppression’.

Declining Populations

In all the cases above, Jews in Europe, Black population in the Africa and USA, the Gypsies across USA and Europe, the aborigines in Australia, The Red Indians in America, or the Belgian Congo, the ‘marker’ for oppression was the decline in population. And we are not talking about a few percentage points here and there (which can be explained by many factors) but by multiples.

State Oppression versus Social Discrimination

In all these cases, these genocides were legalised – in USA with the Dredd Scott case. In Europe, anti-Gypsy laws existed till 1973 in Switzerland and other countries. The Red Indians and Aborigines were dispossessed in connivance with the State and enabling legislation. There were laws in Europe and Australia which allowed people to kidnap children of the oppressed and take them away from their parents.

Economic Rationale

All these cases of oppression are marked by a clear economic motive. Cotton plantations in the USA needed black slaves,West needed natural rubber from Congo, Red Indian land Vilfredo Paretowas needed by the West, Gypsy and Aboriginal children were kidnapped by declining European and Australian populations. Europeans historically envied Jewish business success.

How much of the division of labour in Indian society was coercive, extractive or enforced – and how much is explained by Pareto’s Law of Social Disequilibrium?

Majority Oppression Or Military Might

In all these cases, the majority oppressed the minority – or massacred them till the oppressed became a minority. Military might was used for oppressive purposes – like King Leopold-II in Congo, till such time, the oppressed became numerically weak.

Does this hold true for India?

What about Harijan massacres incidents. Two aspects – these massacres are not approved or condoned by law. Massacres and death of Red Indians, Aborigines, Jews, Gypsies were approved by law (yes, that is right! Click on links and other posts to get more info on that). There are equally massacres by the ‘oppressed’ in UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, J&K, MP – which shows a failure of the ‘over-burdened’ State and not oppression.

The Oppressed Make The Laws In India

At the time of Indian Independence, the ‘oppressors’ (the ‘ruling’ Brahmin Hindus) gave the role of Constitution writing to the leader of the ‘oppressed‘ – Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. No ‘oppressed’ class has been ‘given’ such a position and responsibility in any country of the world – ever. No ‘oppressor’ lets the ‘oppressed’ write the laws.

And for the record, let me state, BR Ambedkar was NOT given that position – he earned it.

The Oppressed Population Grows Faster than the Oppressors

The population of the ‘oppressed’ is growing at a faster rate than the ‘oppressors’. Thus the ‘oppression’ of the majority in India is resulting in a faster growth for the oppressed. A first in the history of oppression.

Reservations Of Opportunities

The US affirmative action (a dilution of the Indian reservation system) was a persuasive system – whereas India is the only country where the ‘minority’ oppressors are supporting an enforced, legally mandated system of reservations for the ‘oppressed’ majority. The whole world is fighting to steal, rob, snatch, kill and maim for opportunities – but in India the ‘oppressors’ are giving away opportunities.

Caste System & Slavery

‘Caste systems’ (by different names) are prevalent all over the world, in all societies, based on colour, race, income, wealth, education, social status, political position, et al. Most such ‘caste systems’ have no force of the state behind it or are legal. They are the burakumin in Japan today and the Blacks in Europe and USA. The most ‘respected’ caste system is the British nobility – which is a caste system, approved by law.

Slavery was different – and a distinctive feature, promoted (largely) by the Western and Middle Eastern powers. It had state sanction, state protection, laws passed by the kings, emirs, emperors, parliaments and legislating authorities. The US Supreme Court (Dredd Scott Case) even prohibited slaves from approaching courts for any redress. There was an organised, legal, sponsored industry involved in the kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer (and might I add re-capture) of slaves – with the might of the state behind it.

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21 Responses

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  1. Parag Tope said, on February 19, 2008 at 4:31 am

    >>Oppression of a different nature existed in India. …it was social oppression….

    Where’s the evidence of this social oppression? These “ahimsa” twins, if their basis was fighting oppression – would they not talk about the existence of such oppression in the religious texts? When did Jainism start this fight against social oppression? 5th century BC with Mahavir, the 24th tirthankar? or 9th century BC with the 23rd? or has Jainism always existed in parallel to fight social oppression even earlier? Where does Buddha talk about social oppression that existed? Buddha attempted to alleviate suffering – does that mean that he was addressing suffering as an extrinsic societal phenomenon or as intrinsic individual one? Were Buddha’s teachings about looking inside for an answer or did he make a political commentary on society and its ills? If he did where is it? Where is the commentary that Mahavira or Parshva or any other tirthankar made about the “social oppression” that they were fighting? How does ahimsa and kindness to animals fit into your paradigm of social oppression?

    While Adi Shankarcharya is made famous for bringing about the demise of Buddhism in India, how does Mimansa and Sankhya fit in? The Adwaita school of thought won over – not only Buddhism – but also these schools? Were they also “progressive” schools of thoughts that Adi Shankaracharya was against?

    Or perhaps – Adi Shankaracharya represented the hundreds of Indian philosophers who participated in rejuvenating new ideas and new thoughts? Perhaps Buddhism’s demise in India – was not “conspiracy” by the “orthodoxy” to kill a “progressive” religion – but simply a natural result of a new “product” from India’s thought factory?

    >>>How much of the division of labour in Indian society was co-ercive, extractive or enforced?

    Whoa… first – you better find some evidence that there was coercion and extraction that existed before 500 BC – then you can proceed to find the proportions…

    …your eurocentric slip shows ;-)

  2. Anuraag Sanghi said, on February 19, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Hi Parag.

    Indian mythology has major reference of Raja Harishchandra selling himself into slavery. Similarly, the Boghazkoi tablets (which are a part) of the Indic kingdoms in the Levant have rules about slaves. All this is before 1000 BC.

    Now look at what happens after that. I think this is interesting.

    A (vengeful) Moses walks out of Egypt and forms a monotheistic religion. The (suspected) pharoah at that time was Ramesis-II roughly between 1300-1200 BC. This is also when the Battle of Kadesh happened with the Hittites which resulted in the most famous treaty. Hittites were one of the main branches of Indics in the region. Ramesis II is about 100 years after Akhenaten – Eknathan (One God). Akhenaten’s father is AmenhotepIII who wants to marry the Mittani (another Indic kingdom) princess of Dashratta (Tushrutta).

    The Indic influence and presence is overwhelming in the Levant at this time. E.g. Instead of building mausoleums, Akhenaten builds temples – much like other Indian kings.

    After this there is a slow fadeout and decrease of the Indic rule in the Middle East. The Persians take-over from Elamites (The Indic Dravidians who settled Persia). The Egyptians slowly turn westward. Judaism begins to grow.

    Christ – a more forgiving man than the vengeful Moses, come in. His life as a young man has been obscured. Till 400 AD, Buddhism was blanking out Christianity. Constantine’s council of Nice and force of the state and church oppression thereafter ensured the survival and growth of Christianity. Mani, a Buddhist preacher who also talked of Christ as a major reform teacher was seen as a major threat by the Church till about 1500 AD.

    Pistis Sophia (surviving as Bruce Codex, Berlin-Akhmim Codex and Askew Codex) were supressed by Britain and Germany for decades. Rediscovered as Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammdi manuscripts, research has been slowed to a crawl. The question now is no more ‘did Buddhism inflence Christianity’ but ‘how much did Buddhism influence Christianity’. Do these manuscripts show a greater extent of Buddhism than colonial Britain, supremist Germany and the Vatican would like to admit?

    Ok … now about slavery …And in India, slavery disappears from about 1000 BC. Zilch. Nyet. Non. So, while the Levant and the Occident continue with slavery for the next 3000 years, till 1900 AD, in India, after 1100 BC, slavery vanishes.

    Buddha and Mahavira come in. Western dates are slotted for 500 BC for the ahimsa ‘twins’. What if the Buddha and Mahavira are from the 1000 BC – and led the reform against slavery. This also ties in with the historic (and unique) movement of Indian diet towards an increase in vegetarian component.

    The gentleman who is supposed to have ‘fixed’ Gautama Buddha’s birthplace, date and time was a certain Dr Alois Anton Fuhrer. This gentleman was subsequently accused of having tampered with archaeological artifacts – and the Lumbini artifacts etc.

    Coming to social oppression. The exhortation towards ‘ahimsa’ is nothing but an appeal to the ‘oppressors’ to stop ‘himsa’ against all life – and similarly for the oppressed to resolve the social issues by ‘ahimsa.’ There is of course, some merit in taking some issues like oppression at a general level, as a matter of principal – and not to get bogged down in specifics.

    Do keep in mind that Elamites, (cousins of modern Dravidians) founded Persia; the Middle East was influenced and had significant presence of Indic Mittanis and Hittites – and India was far bigger than what we see today.

    So, yes slavery and oppression did exist – and it was eliminated. 3000 years ago, India went ahead and created a new economic model without slavery. The Occident and the Levant were using slaves till a 100 years ago. Middle East’s labour laws even today smack of slave owner mentality.

    In modern times, the easiest test of oppression is ‘statistically significant’ population decline. And there has been no population decline in India to even talk about ‘oppression’ in the genocidal meaning that the West tries equating with India – to cover up their own genocides.

  3. Parag Tope said, on February 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Ok – good start.

    I love your overall view of historical world events. I was not aware of some of these things and they make a lot of sense. Therefore, to preface my comments, *do* understand that my comments amplify where we differ and don’t necessarily reflect the large body where we agree.

    There are two different things to consider. First – the link between ahimsa and oppression. Second – the existence of slavery and the economic models that can exist.

    The first point – you are simply creating a unsubstantiated link between ahimsa and oppression. Take your time – but show me some evidence that these two facets have some common elements. Himsa is violence – not oppression. While, India is a thought leader in debating war and peace and the righteousness of war, neither Jainism or Buddha, as far as I know, make any sort of a commentary on *society’s* role in war, let alone oppression. It was always about an individual’s choice not society’s. Which is where, I believe you and I differ radically in our outlook of the events of the 20th century… but that’s a separate discussion.

    Second – the economic models for slavery. This, based on your posts, you might be amongst a few people who might know exactly what I am talking here. So you might not be outraged by my seemingly callous view of the economics of the subject.

    Slavery is basically an extreme case of the variety of contracts that can exist between a worker (producer) and buyer of the worker’s services. Consider the following shades of gray:

    1. Buyer offers to pay the producer a fixed price based on an agreed upon final deliverables. Cancellable based on agreed upon terms.
    2. Buyer offers to pay the producer a variable price based varying units of deliverables. Cancellable based on agreed upon terms.
    3. Buyer offers to pay the producer a variable price based on the producers time. The price depends on the implicit quality of the deliverable. Cancellable based on agreed upon terms.
    4a. Buyer offers to pay the producer a fixed price for a fixed time of labor, for some fixed responsibilities. Cancellable based on agreed upon terms.
    4b. Same as 4a, but without the simple cancellation terms. Additionally, the producer and the contract can be resold at a different price with the gains/losses only between the future buyer and sellers. No change to the producer’s contract during the validity of the contract.
    5. Buyer offers to pay the producer a fixed price for a fixed time of labor without an upfront agreement on the responsibilities. The producer and the contract can be resold at a different price with the gains/losses only between the future buyer and sellers. No change to the producer’s contract during the validity of the contract.
    6. Buyer offers to pay the producer a fixed price, upfront, for an *unlimited* time of labor. The producer and the contract can be resold at a different price with the gains/losses only between the future buyer and sellers.
    7. No contract between buyer and producer. Producer receives no compensation, other than sustenance. The producer can be resold at a different price with the gains/losses only between the future buyer and sellers.

    #1-#3 would be how most contracts in India worked in the past. Producers in turn did not turn into Buyers but did their own work without “employing” additional workers other than family members. Weavers in 18th century India worked like this. They could cancel their contracts with the buyers by returning deposits. Parthasarathi Prasannan has written some excellent papers on this subject. English weavers during the same period were like #4a – but without the option to cancel. If they failed to deliver – they were publicly whipped or even hanged. These were achieved through various laws that the English merchants lobbied the parliament to pass. These were the Bugging Act of 1749, the Worsted Act of 1777 and the Combination Acts of 1799 and 1800.

    #7 is how European slavery worked.

    #4-#6 would be how “gulami” existed in India during the Mughal times. #6 was the most oppressive, since there is not time limit on the contract. The references to slavery prior to the 9th century BC that you refer to probably fall into this category as well. Raja Harishchandra auctioned himself – therefore he was getting an upfront value for his future services, unlike #7.

    #4b is how players in American Football, baseball and basketball teams get compensated.
    #4a is how most employment contracts work.
    #1-#3 how service contracts work between buyers and producing “firms.” These producing firms, in turn – will use #4a for getting the services from their producers.

    There is a key difference between #6 and #7. As far as I know, #7 has *never* existed in India – even during the most oppressive times in northern India during the Muslim invasions or during the Mughal rule.

    I am not sure if the slaves in these west-Asian societies fell in the #6 or #7 category. The term “freeing a slave” could be used for any of #4b, #5, #6 or #7. Since the services could be resold, a new buyer could buy the slave and renegotiate the contract with the slave – including the cancellation of the contract.

    Eurocentric discussions on slavery, in order to dilute their uniquely oppressive forms, lump all forms of employment contracts into the bucket of “slavery.”

    So – when you use the word “slavery” and “oppression” – the devil is in the details.

    Before you fall into the Euro-centric liberal trap of judging a society through western notions of liberty, consider why India was different. You have all the “sadhans” to make this leap… and it is not a leap of faith – but a leap of objectivity.

  4. [...] Slavery & Oppression – In The West and In India The Moral Offensive In 1901, Dadabhai Naoroji published his famous research – “Poverty and Un-British rule in India”. Before that, his 1876 paper, “Poverty In India” traced the rise of poverty in India due to colonialism. This laid the background for India’s Independence and shaped the strategy of Swadesh and Satyagraha. Fifty years later we were a Republic of the kind the world had never seen. But … This moral offensive continued for the next hundred years – provoking Nixon’s reaction dur [...]

  5. Anuraag Sanghi said, on February 20, 2008 at 7:47 am

    First – on the link between ahimsa and oppression.

    Oppression can only happen thru violence or threat of violence (can be il-legitimate and /or il-legal), ‘hinsa’. Illegitimate but legal ‘hinsa’ is slavery in the USA. Illegitimate and illegal hinsa would be mafia-run prostitution rings. Legitimate but illegal actions would be the Dandi salt march by Gandhiji.

    Reaction to oppression can be violent – like Haiti or non-violent like the bus boycott in Montgomery. Not to forget ‘ahimsa’ of the Gandhiji’s boycott of ‘pardesi’ maal.

    Coming to the Indian model code of conduct is the moral of the Harishchandra story to the oppressed classes (say chandals) is parishram, pariksha and parakram works. Avoid revenge, retribution and revolt say the Jatakas, the Tripitakas, Raja Harishchandra story, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It is the ‘coaching’ of the individual response to oppression by (Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism) that is a pointer towards oppression. This was also the point of difference between Gandhiji and Ambedkar. Westernised Ambedkar was all for a political solution – imprison the ‘upper castes’ if they oppress the Harijans; and the Indic Gandhiji’s response was social sensitisation.

    Regarding the ‘purported differences’ in our views reg. oppression and outlook of the events of the 20th century.

    What I am saying is that the Levant and the Occident continued with slavery for the next 3000 years, till 1900 AD. In India, after 1100 BC, slavery vanishes. Where am I saying that slavery exists in the remotest manner in India – which is legally mandated and allowed.

    You say – Euro-centric discussions on slavery, in order to dilute their uniquely oppressive forms, lump all forms of employment contracts into the bucket of “slavery.”

    I loved you classifications of the various kinds of labour contracts and its implications thereof.

    I would like to add – They did this through a very devious means – the ILO. Way back in the 1950’s after getting beaten black and blue, they decided to sneak in a ‘employment contracts’ into the ‘slavery buckets.’ By doing this, they have white washed their crimes and equated their bloody record with the best records in history, i.e. India and by extension Asia. Of course, they could also create an escape hatch for themselves against compensations at a later date.

    Standard Anglo-Saxon modus operandi (and by extension Western) which I outlined in my other post – click here.

    My reform theory of India is as follows: –

    1. Compared to the retributive and vengeful Hammurabi’s code, the Indic rulers of Middle East (the Hittites. Mittanis and Elamites) already had a more liberal and humane legal system. For more refer my post on this.

    2. The slave revolt of Egypt by Moses, made the Indic rulers reform and distance themselves from the slave owning societies. Hence the fade out of the Indic rule from the Middle East – but the continuation of Buddhist influences, trade and peoples contact.
    3. This reform and distancing themselves was led by Indian reformers like Buddha and Mahavira. This happened not around and after 500 BC as determined by Western dating logic (which needed to fit the Aryan Invasion Theory, The Greek and Romans ‘evolution’) – but around 1000 BC.

    4. Slowly, the slave memory faded out and there are only some stray references in our classical literature about slavery – like the Harishchandra story.

  6. Parag Tope said, on February 20, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Oppression and Ahimsa – IMO – your personal beliefs and inferences – no matter how convinced you are of those – are clouding this discussion. I’ll wait for some *references* from you about societal oppression mentioned in Jain texts or Buddha’s teachings to comment. Let’s defer this for now.

    After doing some *preliminary* research of Harishchandra (darn, you are distracting me from my book here :-) I suspect the “story” that is being told is a 19th century inference of an ancient tale. I need to find some references to the original story to understand what *really* happened. There is some vaguely very “santoshi maa” about the Harishchandra story – something that seems too strikingly similar to India’s recent poverty stricken past… I think Harishchandra needs to be studied in the context of what else was going on in India at that time…

    About our ‘purported differences’ – actually I have barely written about them so far – because I see a *massive* diversion in our views… and unlike our relatively minor differences in viewing the past – these differences are real, present, and provocative, and best discussed in a completely different context.

  7. Anuraag Sanghi said, on February 21, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Yes .. you are right .. in the core Indian geography, slavery was an alien concept.

    Read this Jataka – which many seem to think are children’s stories. But these are cautionary tales for adults. Read this story which refers to a “demon’ – another word for a slave trader. This demon kidnaps the merchant – but leaves the goods behind. Trade in India is governed by Shubh labh – and hence you will not find Indians being major players in drugs trade, in slave trade, in software virus, in spamming, through out history.

    In the extended India, slavery was an inherited social system – for which the Hittites made some very liberal laws. This inherited norm of slavery was sought to be liberalised, in incremental manner by the Indic societies of the Middle East. This incremental liberalisation would have created a backlash against the ‘holier-than-thou’ Indians by the slave-owning, ruling classes of the non-Indic societies – and the newly liberated classes also.
    Around the 1000 BC inflection point, there is another interesting thing that happened – the so called Greek Dark Age. This is a relatively new concept – 1971. Fromm 1200 BC to 900 BC – when the Indic kingdoms, like Hittites, the Mittanis and Elamites were retreating from the Levant, the Greeks went through ‘a catastrophe’. Two Mycenaen cities, 40 other cities of Turkey, Syria and Middle East were destroyed. Egypt and Mesopotamia were threatened. This was reversed by the revival of trade links with India through the Phoenicians in 900 BC.

    What was the reason – Moses and Judaism, Slavery, revolt of the slaves is my hypotheses. My hypotheses, With the walkout by slaves, cities became dirty, plague broke out, agriculture suffered and locusts descended. With malnutrition, hunger and deprivation, came diseases. This led to reform in diet – increased vegetarianism in India. And Moses claimed credit for the mishaps in Egypt.
    Who were to blamed – the Indic reformers. I can practically hear people screaming, ‘ Who asked you to give such fancy ideas like dignity, freedom to these slaves. Look now what has happened”. And when the unemployed, hungry slaves were turned back by their bankrupt masters, the slaves must have said, “You have created these rifts. All that we asked for was a little less of work and a little more of comfort. We dont want this freedom. Can we eat freedom!”
    Indic rejection of slavery, led to their retreat from the Middle East, where other cultures, continued with slavery. From dominance, Indians became satisfied with presence and influence. Capture by slave traders and slavery was also the reason, I think that Indian traders preferred buyers to come to them.
    It was these events in 1000 BC which made two things happen. It catalysed the refinement and consolidation of Sanskrit, the Vedas, the Ramayana, The Mahabharata et al. And it led to many reform leaders, the Bodhisatvas and Tirthankaras – prime amongst whom were Buddha and Mahavira, who counselled patience, introspection, ahimsa to their followers.
    There is one problem with this hypothesis – dates.
    Buddha and Mahavira were periodized circa 500 BC by western historians; to ensure that the Greeks got all the credit and that the Aryan invasion theory became feasible. A relook at the dates will support my hypotheses. Even if Buddha and Mahavira are correctly dated, there are the Tirthankaras and Bodhisatvas who did the reform story. If reform is the word that is causing you discomfort, call it evolution. Slavery was clearly an inherited institution in some part of the great Indic spread.

  8. Parag Tope said, on February 21, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Awesome – I think you have something here. I had read about Ramayana and Mahabharata being dated by historians to fit into their paradigm of “greek miracles.”

    I think your thesis seems very plausible…

  9. [...] Slavery & Oppression – In The West and In India The Moral Offensive In 1901, Dadabhai Naoroji published his famous research – “Poverty and Un-British rule in India”. Before that, his 1876 paper, “Poverty In India” traced the rise of poverty in India due to colonialism. This laid the background for India’s Independence and shaped the strategy of Swadesh and Satyagraha. Fifty years later we were a Republic of the kind the world had never seen. But … This moral offensive continued for the next hundred years – provoking Nixon’s reaction dur [...]

  10. [...] Slavery & Oppression – In The West and In India The Moral Offensive In 1901, Dadabhai Naoroji published his famous research – “Poverty and Un-British rule in India”. Before that, his 1876 paper, “Poverty In India” traced the rise of poverty in India due to colonialism. This laid the background for India’s Independence and shaped the strategy of Swadesh and Satyagraha. Fifty years later we were a Republic of the kind the world had never seen. But … This moral offensive continued for the next hundred years – provoking Nixon’s reaction dur [...]

  11. [...] under the curse of history, Western intervention and poverty, the Carribean islands have been dealt a bad hand. Third World [...]

  12. [...] least 4000 years ago, India went ahead and created a new economic model without slavery. The Occident and the Levant were using slaves till 20th century. Middle East’s labour laws even [...]

  13. [...] slavery and colonialism. Kaplan either forgets (unlikely) or does not know (surprising) that India has never used slaves – in the last 5000 years of [...]

  14. [...] under the curse of history, Western intervention and poverty, the Caribbean islands have been dealt a bad hand. Third World [...]

  15. [...] a hundred years between 1750-1850, more than 10-20 million Africans were brought as captives – and sold in the US to be used as forced slave labour. Slave [...]

    • dan said, on February 1, 2011 at 1:25 am

      maybe 1/2 of that.More Slavs went to arab countries.

  16. [...] under the curse of history, a past replete with slavery, Western intervention and poverty, the Caribbean islands have been [...]

  17. Incognito said, on December 4, 2009 at 11:45 am

    >>>“The use of reverse-propaganda (a European tool) by the Congress against the British was singularly successful

    whereas the congress itself was a tool in the hands of the british!

    what success are we talking about ?
    the dismemberment of the nation ?
    the death of millions of indians pre-independence in the hands of british and post independence in riots ?

    Whatever propaganda tactic the congress learned from the british was used on gullible indians; not on their british masters, whom they willingly served as partners in governance prior to ‘independence’.

  18. Incognito said, on December 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    >>>“Indian mythology has major reference of Raja Harishchandra selling himself into slavery

    Indian mythology also has reference to the brahmin vamana stamping the asura king Bali into the earth. Does that not indicate that the ‘evil brahmins’ in india habitually stamped poor dalits into the ground ?

    Then there is the story of Parashurama having cut off his mother’s head on the orders of his father because his mother felt attracted to one kshatriya king.
    Does not that mean that indians were the originators of honour killings ?

    Parashurama also killed off every kshatriya in the land. Does not that mean that indians practiced genocide much before the westerners ?

    Ravana was a Shiva bhakta. Ramayana has reference of Ravana abducting Sita, which clearly shows that Shiva bhaktas were not averse to abducting other’s wifes!

    Misreading of puranas and drawing misconceived conclusions will end up in this fashion.

    >>>“Hittites were one of the main branches of Indics in the region.

    That way most europeans including Celtics, Slavs … and west asians are. http://www.bharatvani.org/books/rig/

    But what is being indic? Is it the same as bharatiya samskriti ?

    >>>“And in India, slavery disappears from about 1000 BC

    If slavery in India was based on Raj Harsichandra and tablets in Levant, chances are that it appeared only in imagination.

    >>>“Buddha and Mahavira come in. ……… the ahimsa ‘twins’.

    Does it mean that ‘ahimsa’ was unknown to indians before Buddha and Mahavira ?

    >>>“Do keep in mind that Elamites, (cousins of modern Dravidians) founded Persia

    ‘modern dravidian’ such as Karunanithi ?
    Does it mean that Ahmedinejab is Karunanithi’s distant cousin ?

    There is some resemblance between the ‘dravidian cousins’!

    Talageri’s ‘Rig Veda and Avesta- the final evidence’ is illuminating as regards Aryan-dravidian creation.

    >>>“So, yes slavery and oppression did exist – and it was eliminated.

    Wendy Donkeiger may find some supportive evidence in Kamasutra (her favorite text!).

    >>>” It is the ‘coaching’ of the individual response to oppression by (Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism) that is a pointer towards oppression.

    ‘coaching’ as in Gita ?

    what oppression is in there ?

    >>>“Westernised Ambedkar was all for a political solution – imprison the ‘upper castes’ if they oppress the Harijans;

    How wrong!

    >>>” and the Indic Gandhiji’s response was social sensitisation.

    Quite effective. His success in that direction with the muslims, through Khilafat agitation of 1920s and ending with the partition are worth remembering.

    One of those upper castes who got thoroughly sensitized, said this- http://www.vigilonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1003&Itemid=72
    These evil brahmins.

    nevertheless, your cross referencing is quite good.

    dhanyavaad

  19. p p (@pinkyp18) said, on February 9, 2012 at 3:01 am

    Hey Anurag,

    I have similar questions as @Incognito above. If you have time, please answer questions raised by Incognito , it would really help clear up many ideas discussed here.

    Thank You.


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