Where would India be without the British Raj

Posted in British Raj, History, India, language by Anuraag Sanghi on April 22, 2009

The British, by contrast, brought tangible development, ports and railways, that created the basis for a modern state. More important, they brought the framework for parliamentary democracy that Indians, who already possessed indigenous traditions of heterodoxy and pluralism, were able to fit to their own needs. Indeed, the very Hindu pantheon, with its many gods rather than one, works toward the realization that competing truths are what enable freedom. Thus, the British, despite all their flaws, advanced an ideal of Indian greatness. (via India’s New Face – The Atlantic (April 2009).

The Master's Anticipation - Rubbing hands in glee, aren't we? from The Daily Mail dated 25th February. 1946. The British Government apparently did not let the media in London onto the action by the Indian Navy on18th February, in 1946. (Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979). Courtesy - cairsweb.llgc.org.uk; Click for larger image.

The Master's Anticipation - Rubbing hands in glee, aren't we? from The Daily Mail dated 25th February. 1946. The British Government apparently did not let the media in London onto the action by the Indian Navy on18th February, in 1946. (Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979). Courtesy - cairsweb.llgc.org.uk; Click for larger image.

After the guns fell silent

At the end of WWII, Britain was a superpower, its huge colonial Empire intact – apart from the massive debt that it owed the US.

With Germany defeated and Hitler dead, Italy in shambles and Mussolini hanged, Britain sat at the head of ‘high tables’ in the post-WWII world deciding the fate of the nations – with its partner in crime, the US of A.

Trouble from unexpected quarters

On February 18th, the ‘lowly’ Naval Ratings from the Royal Indian Navy rained on the British parade – by raising the flag of Indian Independence.

Britain did not have the stomach to take on the Indian Colonial Army, battle hardened and exposed to warfare in all the global theatres of WWII. They acquiesced and 18 months later the British were out. From then, to …

Flamed out

Britain today, a shell of its former self – with its manufacturing hollowed out, its agriculture in shambles, its economy on the verge of being relegated to the Third World is a huge descent. Much like Spain after Haiti.

In a 100 years after Haiti, Spain flamed out. By 1930, it was in the throes of a Civil War. And in Spain today, prostitution is national industry.

Be afraid ... very afraid

Be afraid ... very afraid

India, in the meantime, led by men of straw, has moved from being a ship-to-mouth’ basket-case, to a significant economic and political success.

Yet, the British colonial administrators needed to prove that only they could rule over India. Indians were after all ‘men of straw … of whom no trace will be found after a few years’. And they were led byhalf naked fakir‘.

If Britain was indeed so good at its job, why can’t they do anything to save themselves from this terminal decline. For all this, we owe a debt of gratitude to the British?

Next time Mr.Kaplan, can you make up a better story?


The debt that India owes Britain

Churchill very much wanted the option of squeezing the brown man at least a little more. Whatever little there was left of the brown man after the Great Bengal Famine of 1943. Clement Attlee pointed out that there was nothing left to squeeze. Attlee thought that the cost of squeezing was greater than the value of the extract.

Colonial Indian armed forces took on the complacent Raj. Atlee appointed a Cabinet committee to finalize British departure after the Indian Navy put the British Empire on notice. This cartoon came in some 3 months after the Indian Navy's action. (Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979; Published: Daily Mail, 14 May 1946. Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Click for larger image.

Colonial Indian armed forces took on the complacent Raj. Atlee appointed a Cabinet committee to finalize British departure after the Indian Navy put the British Empire on notice. This cartoon came in some 3 months after the Indian Navy's action. (Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979; Published: Daily Mail, 14 May 1946. Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Click for larger image.

How can we ever repay this debt.

Or the great benefit of English language.

These stupid Germans, Italians, Japanese, Russians, French, Chinese – they don’t know what we know!! English is the universal language. All other super powers and developed countries (Japan, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy) use their own languages. They could have been very successful (like India) if they had learnt English.

I must admit, this small, little, disloyal question keeps raising its head, in my head? Why cant the British use that great English language to lift themselves from that terminal decline?

What could the British do without captive markets and raw material sources?

The British let all this go – so that Indian industry could survive. British business manager taught Indian businessmen how to run business competitively – and completely ignored their own business. Today, Britain has very few of the colonial era multinationals.

Within 10 years of Indian independence, the British car industry started closing down. British coal mining became unviable within 15 years – and had to be shut finally. British Rail similarly collapsed. British capital goods industry (electrical, heavy machinery, electronics) went out of business. There is no British automotive industry worth talking about. British Steel faced with mounting losses, was nationalised within 20 years (Ratan Tata may revive British Steel and British Automotive segments finally).

Should we complain so much, if we inherited a decrepit, run down, accident prone, investment starved railway system with outdated technology from the British – though financed by loot from India?

Even though it took India 40 years, to modernize the colonial railway system, we should be thankful. Remember, they could have uprooted the rails, and taken away the wagons and engines. After all, Indian Railways was the biggest scrap iron collection in the world at that time.

The Masters Anticipation - How about the British abdication of authority? Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; click for larger image.

The Masters Anticipation - How about the British abdication of authority? Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; click for larger image.

Till Lal Bahadur Shastri’s resignation – the poor Indian railway-man was routinely blamed for railway accidents – by his British, and later the Indian bosses also.

Hence, they did not kill us Indians in the numbers that they killed (more than 10 lakh Kenyans in 10 years) in the Mau Mau uprising. Or they did not torture and kill Indians the way they killed the Malaysians. Due to this reason, they also did not set up apartheid the way they did in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa.

The other British legacy that we should be very grateful is our colonial bureaucracy. This colonial era bureaucracy, a permanent establishment, has been growing faster than our population – thrives by demonizing Indian politicians. Its corruption is aided by a myriad laws created by the same bureaucracy – for the benefit of Indians. In most states this bureaucracy takes up all the Governmental revenues and leaves nothing but tax increases for us.

The Masters Anticipation - Arent we disappointed? (Artist - Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published - Daily Mail, 29 November 1946). Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk. Click for larger image.

The Masters Anticipation - Arent we disappointed? (Artist - Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published - Daily Mail, 29 November 1946). Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk. Click for larger image.

A blog reader responds

The whole of black Africa has become a basket case. The people are ripped off by their rulers, in a far worse way than they ever were under white rule. Many of their citizens long for the return of white rule and the stability that would bring. It’s just a shame they are never going to get it.

By this logic, the way Britain is being run, it will need to be governed by, guess who? Indians. Looking at where India was after the end of the Raj – and now, it is clear who is better at governing.

Looking at the ‘decline’ of Britain (what will happen after the secession of Scotland and Wales?) and Spain, after the end of Black Moslem rule, and you know who should be ruling over Britain and Spain at least.

Whatcha say …

The Detritus

As Britain (and the West) was forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The many issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony to the British gift to the modern world. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis.

An "anti-imperialist" cartoon, mocking Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden idea, published in the USA, during the Philippine-American War, as the US was itself preparing to compete with Europe as an iperialist force. Source - Originally from Life magazine, March 16, 1899. Click for larger image.

An "anti-imperialist" cartoon, mocking Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden idea, published in the USA, during the Philippine-American War, as the US was itself preparing to compete with Europe as an imperialist force. Source - Originally from Life magazine, March 16, 1899. Click for larger image.

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue.

Dravidian history no one talks about …

Posted in Current Affairs, European History, History, India, language, Media, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on April 6, 2009

Massive invasions and migrations even today, are fraught with risk. Why would people do that 5,000-10,000 years ago.


he Aryan Invasion Theory now has no legs to stand on. Bowing before the inevitable, Western historians, posing as ‘friends’ of India, have sneaked in something equally obnoxious.

Indian history as a negotiation

It is “The Dravidian Invasion Theory.We have a new situation now. The ‘deal’ seems to be – “We will agree to Aryan as Indians – but you have to agree that the Dravidians were the ‘actual’ invaders.” It was an alert 2ndlook reader  who pointed my nose to the Wikipedia entry under the heading of Out of India Theory.

If Dravidian migrated from Africa to India through the Middle East, it could have left traces in Egypt and countries under Egyptian influence as well, explaining the data which led earlier researchers to the thesis of a Dravidian ‘Indo-Mediterranean’ culture. (105) Sergent links Indian forms of phallus worship with Sahel-African, Ethiopian, Egyptian and Mediterranean varieties of the same. The Egyptian uraeus (‘cobra’), the snake symbol on the pharaonic regalia, has been linked in detail with Dravidian forms of snake worship, including a priest’s possession by the snake’s spirit. Dravidian cremation rituals for dead snakes recall the ceremonial burial of snakes in parts of Africa. (106) Others have added the similarity between the Dravidian naga-kal (Tamil: ‘snake-stone’, a rectangular stone featuring two snakes facing one another, their bodies intertwined) and the intertwined snakes in the caduceus, the Greek symbol of science and medicine. It has consequently been suggested that some Dravidian words may also have penetrated into the European languages. Thus, Dravidian kal, ‘stone’, resembles Latin calculus, ‘pebble’, and Dravidian malai, ‘mountain’, resembles an Albanian and Rumanian word mal, ‘rock, rocky riverside’. (107) But this hypothesis is a long shot and we need not pursue it here. Far more substantial is the Dravidian impact on another language family far removed from the recent Dravidian speech area, viz. Uralic. The influence pertains to a very sizable vocabulary, including core terms for hand, fire, house (Finnish kota, Tamil kudi), talk, cold, bathe, die, water, pure, see, knock, be mistaken, exit, fear, bright, behind, turn, sick, dirty, ant, strong, little, seed, cut, wait, tongue, laugh, moist, break, chest, tree; some pronouns, several numerals and dozens of terms for body parts. (108) But it goes deeper than that. Thus, both language families exclude voiced and aspirated consonants and all consonant clusters at the beginning of words. They have in common several suffixes, expressions and the phonological principle of vocalic harmony. As the Dravidian influence, like that of IE, is more pronounced in the Finno-Ugric than in the Samoyedic branch, we may surmise that the contact took place after the separation of the Samoyedic branch. But the main question here is how Dravidian could have influenced Uralic given their actual distance. (via Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate by Koenraad Elst).

Complicated Simplicity

Why can’t  Western historians get a simple idea in their head?

Aryans are from the land of Bharata-ah. Aryan culture is based on values – and not race and language. The single biggest differentiators, between Aryans and other cultures, is slavery. Under Aryadhwaja (the Aryan flag), rulers were expected (as spelt out in Arthashastra) to follow Aryan norms and practices – specially with regard to slavery. And there is no mention of an Aryan race or Aryan language! The Aryan Race is a piece of Western fiction – called history. There were and are, only Aryan values.

History would be a lot simpler – if simplicity is allowed to prevail. Massive invasions and migrations even today, are fraught with risk. Why would people do that 5,000-10,000 years ago. Dravidians are equally and fully Aryan, Mr.Elst. These games of Aryan /Dravidian are neither honest nor entertaining.

What is your motivation, Elst-bhai?

Hittite Kings – with Tamil names

Or is it that you can’t see beyond your nose, Mr.Elst?

Look at the interesting case of the (at least) three Hittite kings whose name is Mursili. Mursili  I (~1620-~1590; also spelled Mursilis). There is no Sanskritic meaning of this name – and most Hittite kings had Sanskritic names.

Based on presumptive vowels, the correct name would be Murasoli, which in modern Tamil means “giver of right and moral advice.” Murai means ‘approved code of conduct’ and soli is to ‘peel’; in Marathi ‘solna’ is peeling onions. An extant Tamil magazine calls itself, मुरासोली Murasoli – as also a politician who is known as Murasoli Maran. Mursili-I, (wife’s name Kali), the grandson and successor of the Hittite founder king Hattusili-I, also seemed to be the conscience keeper of the kingdom. Murslili I warned his administrators,

“‘You are about to go to the land, and the blood of the poor man you are not seeking!’

“His porters you do not question. You perform (the wish) of the rich man. You go to his house – you eat, you drink, and he rewards it to you. You take the poor man’s šiēt, (but) you do not investigate his case! Is it thusly that you hold the command of my father?” (KBo 22.1 rev. 34′-31′)


Hippodamia wears a ‘pallu’

Similarly, the names of some other Hittite kings, like Hantilli and Muwatalli, have not been deciphered till now. These name-meanings will get cleared, if the Tamil meaning of thalli /talli as ‘mother-goddess’ is used. Muwatalli was possibly named after the patron goddess of horse breeding (in Telugu, mawu /mavu means horse and talli is mother-goddess).

Hantilli is possibly named after the Goddess Annapoorna. han = अन्न anna = grain and talli is mother. The word अन्न anna is common across many Indian languages. In Telugu अन्न is అన్నము meaning food or grain; in Tamil it is அன்னம். Remember that vowels in Akkadian, Sumerian, Babylonian languages are presumptive; both a and अः ah are vowels in most Indian languages, unlike most non-Indian languages.

But much before Hittites, is another interesting piece of history!

Clay tablets talk of how Sargon captured Khishibrasini, King of Elam” and his son Lukh’ish’an. (Shibirasini /Shivarasini and Lakshman?). Elam was a Dravidian culture and King Shibi is among the legendary kings in the lineage claimed by Chola kings, (Suryavanshi clan), and the Tamil name for Shibi Chakravarthi is Sembiyan and the Chola kings took this as one of their titles. Between 2000 BC to 1000 BC, about three kings were known as Ebarat (Bharat?). And before that, regents were known as Sukalmah (Sukarma?).

Wars and wagers

Which brings another interesting aspect of chariots in Greece.

The chariot was brought to Greece by Pelops (Pallava?) from Anatolia. Pelops had come from Paphlagonia – Pallava + gonia (gonia as a derivative of गृह्या, or gaanv, in modern Hindi).

He established himself – without a war, with a wager. He agreed to race against the ruler of Elis, Oenamaus, – who fancied his chances in a chariot. The reason for his confidence – a Hittite charioteer, Myrtilus (derived from Hittite name of Mursilis).

Hippodamia - Pelops wife seems to be wearing a sari (Image courtesy - http://www.pompeiiinpictures.eu). Click for a larger image.

Hippodamia – Pelops wife seems to be wearing a sari (Image courtesy – http://www.pompeiiinpictures.eu). Click for a larger image.

Olympics Games & Pallavas?

Pelops won the chariot race – and  Hippodamia, the king’s daughter.

A painting of Hippodamia, excavated in Pompei seems to showing her wearing a saree – and another line drawing seems to be showing her using a ‘pallu’ – use of the saree as a head-dress. It is after Pelops that the Pelopinissean plains are named.

Pelops went on to institute the first Olympic games!


This was a famous city from which ancient Egypt, Babylon, Sumeria and other Middle East countries imported gold, sandalwood, ivory, gems, (wild animals and birds – peacocks, monkeys). This now seems to be a corruption of the Tamil kingdom of Oviyar.

Oviyar were one of the ruling tribes of South India and Sri Lanka. Ophir (as the Greeks called it and the West knows it) was a kingdom in South India and Lanka – a legend in its own time. Ships sailed from Sopara (modern Nallasoppara) and Lothal.

Elam – and world history

The people of Elam (yes in Tamil, Eelam means homeland), were the first to civilise the Iranian Peninsula in the 2700 BC period. They were contemporaries of the Egyptians, the Mittanis and the Hittites. The Elamites were a significant people till the 800 BC in Persia (modern day Iran). The Elam deity, Inshishunak, probably related to Sheshnag, is shown seated on a throne made up of coiled serpent. And if that was not enough, there are at least four kings named Shuqamuna – the last being King Shuqamuna in 986 BC. Accounting for presumptive vowels, spell it as Shaqamuni – or the more familiar name of Gautama Buddha, Shakyamuni. The Kassites also worshipped Shakyamuni.

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. The Elamites were a significant people till the 800BC in Persia (modern day Iran). The Achaemenid Dynasty succeeded the Elamites (Dravidian Indians) in Iran – and the took over the Assyrian Empire. With the change in regime, came a change in the linguistic policy. Elamite-Dravidian language was replaced by Sanskritic-Old Persian.

Kannagi and Kovalan

Kannagi and Kovalan

The Persian linguistic makeover from the Dravidian-Elamite language to Sanskritic-Old Persian however did not change everything. The Elamite element in Zoroastrian revolt against the daiwas (devas), continues today in Elamite-Dravidian-Tamil Nadu, where asura kings like Ravana and Neduncheziyan are respected.

Silappadhikaaram – Nebuchadnezzar and justice

One of the most prominent rulers of Babylon was Nebuchadnezzar (as spelt in English). Replace ‘b’ with ‘d’ and you are very close the Tamil name of Neduncheziyan (Nedunchedianuru) – a current and modern Tamil name.

Interestingly, Neduncheziyan is more famous as the fabled erring Pandyan King in the Tamil classic – Silappadhikaaram. The earliest legend on justice in India is Silappathikaram (Tamil: சிலப்பதிகாரம்). Written by Ilango Adigal /Elangovadigal, supposed brother of Cheran Senguttavan. In the famous play, Silappadhikaaram, (also Silappatikaram) was about miscarriage of justice. The protagonist in the play is King Neduncheziyan.

Neduncheziyan’s mistaken justice, brings him grief and finally death. Neduncheziyan is overshadowed by the other King – Cheran Senguttuvan. It is believed this Tamil classic, written by Jain Saint, Ilangovadigal /Elangovadigal, was Cheran Senguttavan’s brother.

Kannagi - A Japanese anime character.

Kannagi – A Japanese anime character.

And Kannagi, the heroine of Silappadhikaaram, is a popular Japanese anime character – along with Muthu.

Nebuchadnezzar and Dravidians

There are at least four Nebuchadnezzars – but we are interested in two of them. The first was Nebuchadnezzar I (ca1126-ca1105) who invaded Elam (the Dravidian rulers of modern Iran). But it was Nebuchadnezzar II, who commissioned one of the wonders of the ancient world – The Hanging Gardens of Babylon – for Amytis, his homesick Elamite princess. Amytis, the daughter of the Median King, (a neo Elamite King), longed for the greenery of her homeland. A prominent ruler of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar-II, 605-562 BC, (as spelt in English) not only married an Elamite princess, but also took on an Elamite name (related to the Dravidian languages). Nebuchadnezzar III (Niditu-bel), who rebelled against Darius I of Persia in 522 BC and Nebuchadnezzar IV (Arakha), who rebelled against Darius I of Persia in 521 BC are the other two.

From India To Babylon and Russia

Post colonial historical revision is proposing new theories. New archaeological evidence supports history that shows Aryans moved from India to the Anatolian plains and established the Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Babylonian cultures of Elam, Mitannites, Kassites along modern Syria to Turkey. The Elamites, Mittanis, Hittites competed and traded with the Egyptians.

Usually, we look for Indian history in India. But there is an Indian history outside India, which show India as completely different that what we have always thought it to be – especially Dravidian history.

Colonial historians first split Indian history into Aryan and Dravidian history. Then dismissed Dravidian history as subordinate and lesser than Aryan on the basis of the Aryan Invasion Theory. Now that the Aryan Invasion /Migration Theory does not have a leg to stand on, the contribution by the Dravidians along the दक्षिणपथ dakshinapatha becomes more important to the West.

And it is this part of Indian (Dravidian) history, which the West is trying to usurp – having been forced to give up the Aryan Invasion /Migration Theory.

Along the Dakshinapatha दक्षिणपथ

The other part to Indian history – which today influences and touches half the world. This history is full of wealth, military successes and a spread which taken India deeper than any other civilisation in the world. While the previous history was along the उत्तरपथ uttarapath, this story lies along the दक्षिणपथ dakshinapatha.

Its starts at Kerala, a highway across Nagpur, Jhansi, Gwalior, Delhi, Kashmir and ends in modern Iran. This history and geography is loosely dominated by the Dravidian segment of India.

There is (at least) 3000 year old history that Tamil language has, which makes it one the oldest, living language. Of course, the division between Aryan and Dravidian history is a Western creation. Arya was never around race, religion or language. It was about values. Noble values.

Languages related to Tamil and Dravidian linguistics are in use even today in Pakistan, where the Brahui tribe speaks a related version of the Tamil language. The Brahuis have marriage preferences which are similar to South Indians (cousins preferred in marriage) – rather than North Indians.

The Dating Imbroglio

Historical dating till the 1960’s was based on a matrix of archaeology, books, records, events, cross-indexing, astronomy. In most cases, all these factors were NOT present, resulting in a significant element of guess – work – and a major element of vested interests.

The two point agenda was the maintenance of the Greek Miracle – motivated by desire to use history as a colonial and exploitative tool. And the other item on the agenda was the proving of the ‘correctness’ of Biblical events – which was motivated by a racial agenda to prove Western racial superiority.

Modern history, is now caught between the Greek Miracle History School, which has stuck to the Sumer->Turkey->Egypt->Greece->Rome->Europe–>West-Is-The-Greatest Axis and the Velikovsky School which is stuck to proving that the Bible is indeed the Last & Only Word.

In 1960s, came new tools to assist archaeological dating system – the the Carbon-14 and the Bristlecone Pine tree-ring system – as well as others. Even this has been been distorted by calibrations, aberrant data and acceptable readings – all the time maintaining a veneer of secular and objective history. Traditional Western historians from both the schools dont want to change – as whole libraries of history based on theories of Western superiority will become redundant.

We cannot have that, can we?

Metrics Of Corruption

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, History, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on April 3, 2009

What you measure is what you manage.

Nixon and Tanaka

Nixon and Tanaka

Measurement of scandals and corruption is a particularly thorny issue. Due to the lack of a common measure, transnational comparison  of scandals is currently impossible. Was the Lockheed Scandal more egregious than the Harshad Mehta Scam?

Was Watergate more dangerous than The Lewinsky Affair? How does one compare corruption across nations and time periods?

Some scandals captured, much more than others, national and international attention. To understand the nature of scandals, we will examine three such scandals. These scandals were seen as particularly flagrant – and damaged the careers of the concerned politicians.

America’s Watergate scandal

President Nixon was forced to resign over this scandal. Two Washington Post journalists were tipped off by “Deep Throat”, William Mark Felt, Sr., an FBI official.  Disturbed by the sidelining of FBI insiders by President Nixon, Felt kept the two journalists updated. The scandal erupted when burglars, supposedly at President Nixon’s behest, were caught trying to bug the site of the Democratic Party Convention. Watergate was projected as a major ‘threat to democracy’ – and the resultant outrage was captured by films and books.

The two journalists were lionized by the American media – as well as international media. The media took care of their own, even though the role of media was only minimal. Under media pressure (and the threat of impeachment), ‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon resigned. Vice President Gerald Ford succeeded and granted Nixon a full pardon. Compared to the shenanigans in the Kennedy regime, Watergate was tame. Yet the media circus made Watergate appear as Armageddon.

Japan’s Lockheed scandal

1974. The Japanese Prime Minister, Kakui Tanaka, resigned, when it was found that he (and some politicians) had allegedly taken bribes to buy fighter jets from  Lockheed Corporation, USA – an incident that the ‘Japanese poetically refer to as kuroi kiri (black mist).’ Though, Tanaka resigned from Government, he remained a powerful politician in the LDP and remained king maker till his death.

After the revelation of the scandal, “Bungei-Shunju’s circulation has jumped 10%, and collectors are now paying up to $60 for a copy of the historic November issue.” The interesting part was the ease with which Bungei Shunju was able to cover this story – and the complete lack of opposition.

The team encountered no political interference. Says Tachibana: “We went to tax offices and census registration bureaus, bowed to the officials, paid a modest fee for copying and came back with a treasure-house of information.”

Was it the amakaduri, or was the faceless MITI, who gave a unspoken go ahead for this bit of muck raking journalism? In a usually compliant Japan, such adventurism raised questions!

India’s Bofors scandal

After Indira Gandhi’s assassination, her son, Rajiv Gandhi won a stunning 400 seat majority in India’s Parliamentary election (1984) – giving him unprecedented power. India had high hopes from him – which he partly fulfilled. India’s telecom revolution, software success owe their success, partly to initiatives during that period.

India’s rising crude oil output from Bombay High gave Rajiv Gandhi elbow room, which he utilized for increased imports. India’s historic rupee overvaluation, corrected during and after his regime. From roughly Rs.18 to a dollar, by 1995, Indian rupee depreciated to over Rs.35 to a dollar. But what finally did him in was the Bofors scandal. It was alleged that Bofors AB, paid off various people involved in the finalization of the howitzers for Indian armed forces.

Post Bofors, the resignations of Arun Nehru, Arun Singh and VP Singh, complicated by the strained relations between the Bachchan-Gandhi families, coupled with Rajiv Gandhi’s weak defense, ensured that he was guilty in public opinion – and he lived and died under the shadow of Bofors. Added, was the aggressive and strident press campaign by Chitra Subramaniam and N. Ram of the normally quiet Chennai-based The Hindu newspaper.

Other scandals

Of course, there were many other scandals – bigger or less famous. Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds to Valery Giscard d’Estaing or the Mark Thatcher shenanigans. Hardly anyone remembers Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Bokassa’s diamonds. But none captured the public bandwidth the way these three scandals did. Hence, it would be a appropriate to examine the elements of these three scandals to understand create metrics for such scandals.

Some other sample cases

To measure the magnitude of the scandal incident itself, it is proposed that the unit of measure can be named as a cBofors (constant Bofors). And the measure of individual corruption can be a cTanaka (a constant Tanaka).

Morarji On Rushmore

Morarji On Rushmore

This metrics also makes clear why I have devoted so much space to Morarji Desai in the past. Morarji Desai’s gold policy has been examined in previous other posts – especially its contribution to: – One, the greatest crime wave ever in human history.; Two – the survival of Bretton Woods for 25 years;

St.PT Barnum, my guru, mentor, friend, philosopher, guide et al, in matters of propaganda, also believes that Morarji Desai must be elevated to Mount Rushmore.

Of course, there was the old case where Seymour Hersh alleged that Morarji Desai was paid of by the CIA. So, I will not repeat myself here.

The four elements that are common in these three scandals were:-

  1. Country Risk – These incidents became scandalous as the future of the nation in all the three cases was seen as jeopardized. The Bofors guns were seen as more critical and hence the outrage. The Coffingate during NDA-George Fernandes was seen as ‘almost benign corruption.’
  2. Cost & expense implication to the tax payer – In all these cases, it was seen that the tax payer was footing the bill – for something illegitimate.
  3. Social Impact – In some cases, the effect is a perceived corollary – and in others, the incidental change is direct and visible. After the Harshad Mehta Scam, a lot of people lost money. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the financial crisis in the US was exacerbated.
  4. Beneficiary toxicity – Who gains from these scandals also changes the perception. If a harmless broker like Harshad Mehta benefits, it does not create the outrage that would result if the beneficiary is say, Dawood Ibrahim.

Based on these four elements, we can rate each rate each scandal. As an index, I would propose two measures.

For instance, a scandal like the collapse of Lehman Brothers measures at an impressive 15 kiloBofors – but Watergate weighs in at small 2.21 cBofors. Similarly, AR Antulay, is possibly (say) 7 deciTanakas, but Kennedy is clearly about 5 kiloTanakas.

This is, of course, a dynamic metrics system, which will allow new elements with weights to also come in. It will allow political ‘decision makers’ and ‘business leaders’ to choose between ‘lesser evil’ based on data, instead of gut feel.

One immediate benefit. Such a measurement system immediately makes one thing very clear. Media clearly distorts the gravity of the issue. A Watergate which was a minor political storm in an American tea-cup, which affected  few politicians was blown up (and out) of proportion. But the media ignores, (and understands much less how) Morarji Desai’s support to Bretton Woods with his gold policy condemned billions to lives of poverty.

Blindsided Indians

Possibly more people in India (at least the English press) know about Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (who wrote the) Watergate, than about Chitra Subramaniam and N Ram – who ensured that all details of the Bofors Scam came out. Sucheta Dalal, who broke the Harshad Mehta story has become a female Don Quixote – I some times fear.

And of course, nothing happened to the Lockheed and the Bofors.

Incident Beneficiary toxicity Cost & Expense Country risk Social impact
Morarji Desai Gold Policy
Watergate scandal
Bofors (index incident).





Harshad Mehta
Ketan Mehta scam
Lehman Bros. collapse

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