2ndlook

Bollywood in Russia

Posted in America, Business, Feminist Issues, Film Reviews, India, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on January 29, 2012

Bollywood, as the Indian film industry has come to be known, leads the world in viewer numbers as well as production volumes. Soviet Russia was a key part of that story.

A Soviet film promotion poster featuring Raj Kapoor for Shree 420 | Image source & courtesy - timeoutmumbai.net | Click for image.

A Soviet film promotion poster featuring Raj Kapoor for Shree 420 | Image source & courtesy – timeoutmumbai.net | Click for image.

Baby steps to Big Daddy

For 2009, tickets sales for Hollywood films were numbered at 2.6 billion viewers. For Bollywood, the number was 3.6 billion.

A good 1 billion more.

More than the film-going population of USA, EU and Latin America put together. Against some 400 films that Hollywood releases each year, Bollywood releases 1200 odd films.

But it was not always like that.

Bollywood was post-colonial India’s first major export. In the 1950s, it had a huge following in the Soviet Union, India’s major ally. When leading man Raj Kapoor, a Charlie Chaplinesque tramp, and his heroine Nargis went to Moscow, they were mobbed by fans who shouted lines of songs from their movies, without understanding a word.

“Some years ago, when we started showing Bollywood movies in Toronto,” says Madeline Ziniak, vice-president of Omni-TV, “we were pleasantly surprised to find audiences in the Canadian Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Czech and Central Asian communities. We couldn’t believe it.” (via How Bollywood conquered the world… – Toronto.com).

Look back with surprise

Way back in 1954, when nearly a million Russian turned up at the Indian film festival in USSR, it seemed more like a flash in the pan.

Although Indian films caught on only after Stalin’s death in 1953, small steps to distribute them in the USSR were already being taken in the mid-1940s. Sovexportfil’m set up an office in Mumbai in 1946 to import films from India and ensure that Russian movies were shown here. The early preference was for socialist-themed movies: K Abbas’s Dharti Ke Lal was shown in Russian cinemas in 1949 and Chinnamul in 1951.

The watershed occurred in 1954, when a festival of Indian films, including Awara, was held in Soviet cities. Nearly a million people saw Indian movies within the first four days of the festival. From then, Indian movies, mostly in Hindi, were regularly distributed through theatres in the USSR. In all, 210 Indian films were shown in the USSR until 1991, of which about 190 were commercial Hindi movies.

Indian movies were embraced for a cluster of reasons. The “melodramatic genre’s explicit juxtaposition of exaggerated good and evil personages found a sympathetic audience”, she writes. The colourful characters, costumes, songs, dances and locations that typify the average Hindi film allowed viewers to indulge in “cinematic tourism”. Indian movies were “skazkas”, or fairy tales; they epitomised “byt” or personal space. Rajagopalan writes, “Byt was the realm of everyday life that remained untouched by ideology and was removed from if not opposed to the glorified realm of Soviet society.” An affinity seemed to exist between the Indian and the Soviet “dusha”, or inner world. Viewers felt that the situations depicted in Indian cinema were far closer to their own than those depicted in other foreign movies.

Over the years, Indian movies raked in the roubles. Love in Simla was the third biggest box-office hit in the USSR in 1963. In 1984, Disco Dancer had the highest audience turnout. Even as debates raged between fans and critics on the worthiness of Indian cinema, Soviet distributors knew that commercial films would guarantee financial returns.

Some explanations for this behaviour can be found in Sudha Rajagopalan’s engrossing book Leave Disco Dancer Alone! Indian Cinema and Soviet Movie-going After Stalin. Through research, interviews and questionnaires, Rajagopalan reveals the impact that Indian cinema had on the cultural life of (Soviet Russia). The book maps the period between 1954, the year after dictator Josef Stalin died, and 1991, the year the Soviet Union was disbanded.

“What inspired the book was really the fact that historians who have studied the former Soviet Union have looked at Hollywood and its reception among Soviet audiences, but it was news to many in my field that Indian films were an important feature of cultural life in the Soviet Union,” said the 37 year old historian. “So it was clearly a lacuna in historiography that needed to be filled.” (via Byt the bullet – Time Out Mumbai – parts excised for brevity. Supplied text underlined).

Most accounts of Bollywood in USSR seem to imply that Bollywood gained access to USSR because of political patronage. The official attention paid to India by the Soviet Bloc, aroused a mix of concern and envy from the West.

In fact, commercial success was the main reason. While the success of Awaara has had many tellings, Bollywood’s other successes are not known – at least in India.

After Awaara,

came the Indian saga about twin sisters, Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), a marvelous reminiscence of distant childhood. Children in Moscow courtyards tried to repeat the circus tricks of the brave heroine, Hema Malini. They copied her tightrope act and her daring manner of behaviour and speech. Indian cinema fans here still remember how one of the twins taught her wicked aunt a lesson. Songs from Indian movies were especially popular in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. The fashion for disco dancing forced young Russians to view Indian cinema differently after the appearance of Disco Dancer (1982). The rags-to-riches story of an ordinary young Indian boy who manages to become a famous singer once again staggered the imagination of Soviet moviegoers. Mithun Chakraborty, the film’s star, replaced Raj Kapoor in the eyes of the new generation. Disco Dancer earned close to 60 mn roubles at a time when movie tickets cost 20-50 kopecks. The dance halls at Soviet summer resorts in the `80s resounded with the sounds of “I Am a Disco Dancer”. Some fanatics were capable of requesting the song ten times over. (via Bollywood returns to Russian screens | Russia Beyond The Headlines).

Problems in ‘paradise’

Financed and controlled by party bureaucrats of Soviet Russia, Soviet film production was seriously limited. But the demand for filmed entertainment from the paying Soviet public was greater than the domestic film production in Russia.

Unable to deal with commercial uncertainty, Soviet government resorted to imports of ready-made products. Imported films accounted for about 35% of ticket sales at the height of Brezhnev regime in 1970s.

Masha Salazkina, a writer who has covered Indo-Soviet film trade lists many co-productions with

Mithun Chakraborty and Shabana Azmi present for Mrinal Sen's film "Mrigayaa" - exhibited at the X Moscow International Film Festival.  Event date - 07/01/1977  |  Source & Credit: RIA Novosti  |  Click for source image.

Mithun Chakraborty and Shabana Azmi present for Mrinal Sen’s film “Mrigayaa” – exhibited at the X Moscow International Film Festival. Event date – 07/01/1977 | Source & Credit: RIA Novosti | Click for source image.

equal representation from each county in all functions, even up to the point of having two directors, one from each country. These coproductions were “meant to create films that would hybridize each culture’s favored motifs and narrative structures, in the hopes of creating truly popular films.” Here are all the Soviet-Indian coproductions she lists: Pardesi (Khozhdenie Za Tri Moray, 1957); Black Mountain (Chernaya Gora, 1971); Rikki Tikki Tavi (1975); Eastward, Beyond the Ganges (Voshod Nad Gangom, 1975); Alibaba and the 40 Thieves (1980); Sohni Mahiwal (Legenda O Lyubvi, 1984); Shikari (Po Zakonu Dzhunglei, 1991); and Ajooba (Chernyj Prints Adzhuba, 1991). Mere Naam Joker (1970) and Mother India (1957) are not listed because they were not full coproductions like the above films (via Minai’s Cinema Nritya Gharana: Indian Dances in Western Films about India: Part 4 (Coproductions).

Instead of large capital outlays that Hollywood and Russian films needed, Indian films earned profits for the Soviets.

Russians have been enjoying popular Indian melodrama and musicals since the first festival of Indian films in Moscow in 1954. In fact, box office statistics suggest that Indian movies were more popular than any other foreign films shown in the Soviet Union. In the period between 1954 and 1989, for example, while forty-one American and thirty-eight French movies attained “blockbuster” status (defined as selling more than 20 million tickets) in the Soviet Union, fifty Indian movies did the same. (via INDIAN FILMS IN SOVIET CINEMAS reviewed in Slavic Review).

For India, cultural exports were an unexpected feather in the cap. Even recently, till a few years ago, exports to Soviet region accounted for between 10%-15% of Bollywood’s overseas revenues.

Significantly, this was the largest source of revenues from non-Indian viewers.

Till around early the 1980s, the USSR accounted for export of up to 150-odd movies each year.

“However, after the disintegration of the country, Hollywood movies took over our market. We now send just four or five movies each year to these countries,” says a Mumbai-based distributor. With increase in interest in Indian movies in Russia in recent months, Parmeshwaran is confident of doubling exports to that country over the next one year. A major delegation of film-makers and producers from Russia is expected to visit the country in November this year. (via Entertainment industry targets new shores – Economic Times).

Unlike Hollywood, Bollywood's growth is based on attracting viewers with a mix of values and vision, a huge talent pool, savvy business minds. Not imperial military might or overwhelming 'special effects', powered by raw money power  |  Image source & courtesy - tribune.com.pk  |  Click for larger source image.

Unlike Hollywood, Bollywood’s growth is based on attracting viewers with a mix of values and vision, a huge talent pool, savvy business minds. Not imperial military might or overwhelming ‘special effects’, powered by raw money power | Image source & courtesy – tribune.com.pk | Click for larger source image.

With success comes envy … and imitation

After the break up of Soviet Russia, Bollywood remains a big draw in the Central Asia. All this success has also drawn its own share of backlash – like in Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.

The Express Tribune (from Pakistan) reports

Indian movies are shipped to Uzbekistan from India and are translated into local languages. These movies are not just being showcased in cinemas but are also taking up airtime on local TV channels. “We watch Indian movies at home on TV and listen to Indian songs on the radio all the time,” he says.

Uzbeks are still drawn to the choreography and bright cinematography of Indian cinema. The proliferation of this infectious Bollywood glitz and glamour that continues to embed itself in the hearts of Uzbek women, men and youth is not going unnoticed by the government.

The government strictly controls the entertainment industry and has take measures to try and protect the industry.

President Karimov’s government is currently chalking out strategies to promote Uzbek movies at home over Indian movies. The government has written scripts and engaged the entertainment industry in its effort to reintroduce Uzbek youth to the country’s indigenous culture.

Today there are more than 50 private film studios in Uzbekistan that produce about 50 films a year.

The personality that seems to be embedded in the minds of most of today’s Uzbeks is that of Indian actor Mithun Chakraborty, who came to the country in 1980 to shoot Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves. The movie, shot by an Uzbek film studio in collaboration with India, was one of the biggest international projects filmed in Uzbekistan during the Soviet era.

Obid Karimov, a local in Tashkent, says the ‘great movie’ also starred legendary Uzbek comedian Asomov and was one of the best-selling movies of all times in the Soviet Union in the 80s, and was watched by millions of viewers in USSR alone.

Although the country always embodied aspects of different cultures, what seems to be gaining popularity today are Bollywood hits.

“Bollywood is fantasy, and we love being a part of the journey, even if it’s just for a few hours,” says Obid. The Uzbek film industry, in an attempt to keep its audiences’ interest, has in fact started to elements of Indian films in their own productions. “The characters [in some recent Uzbek films] are larger than life just like in an Indian movie, but the ending is usually sad like a Russian drama,”adds Obid.

An official from the Pakistan Embassy in Uzbekistan says that the influence of Bollywood is “huge” (via Bollywood calling: The fall of Uzbekistani cinema – The Express Tribune).

In Russia (like in Pakistan), there are indications that families and women are more loyal to Bollywood films. With Bollywood busy promoting itself at Cannes, Canada and USA, stronger markets have been ignored by Bollywood.

In Brazil, a Bollywood style tele-novela, Caminho das Índias (Road to India), a TV soap opera based on Indian themes became a huge success – and stirred some controversy. Similarly in Russia, too, a prominent media group, Red Media has launched a Bollywood channel, which will air Bollywood-style content that the Russian studio will produce on its own.

President Dimitry Medvedev, , Yash Chopra, Shahrukh Khan at press conference.

President Dimitry Medvedev, , Yash Chopra, Shahrukh Khan at press conference.

Russia continues to love Indian cinema classics from the 1960s and 1970s.

These are the films most talked about on Internet forums, where fans lovingly collect photographs and stories of their idols. They constitute a retrospective of Indian cinema that is regularly shown on Russian television, especially the Domashny channel, which is aimed at women and promotes family values. For Russian fans of Indian films, there is even a special satellite channel called India TV. Russia’s love of Indian films has now spilled over into a mass passion for Indian dance. Every self-respecting sports club in Moscow teaches yoga and the art of Indian dance. Russian girls array themselves in saris for these lessons, which are more popular even than traditional European fitness classes. (via Bollywood returns to Russian screens | Russia Beyond The Headlines).

And Russian leaders too

President Dmitry Medvedev, on his visit to India, made time to meet up with some Bollywood biggies – and tried to re-ignite the old Indo-Russian fires.

Soviet directors like Bondarchuk, Tarkovsky moved to Hollywood. This move, assuming endless financing for their creative output, did not quite turn out like that. The studio system worked pretty much like Soviet bureaucracy to limit their production – as evidenced by their limited output in the West.

Within the Soviet film industry itself, there was much admiration for Hollywood and Western film genres and styles. Interestingly, Indian critics have seen Bollywood films as sub-standard – much like Bollywood sees itself, also.

But the viewers aren’t paying attention to carping critics and ‘superior’ art-film ideologues.


Sexual Equations in Bharattantra

Posted in Desert Bloc, Feminist Issues, India by Anuraag Sanghi on October 4, 2011

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Desolate Wasteland

The anti-sex and anti marriage bias of the Desert Bloc has created a global population of nearly 1 crore prostitutes (10 million). Marriage is seen mostly as dysfunctional system across the West or exploitative as in the Islāmic world.

Sexual dynamics of Indian society does not stop at the explicit sculptures of Khajuraho, Konark or the Kamasutra. The most remarkable is the पंच कन्या panch-kanya pantheon.

Concept, Execution, Implementation

अहल्या द्रौपदी तारा कुंती मंदोदरी तथा ।
पंच कन्या स्मरेन्नित्य महापातकनाशनम् ।
Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari
Keeping in memory these five maidens will destroy greatest sins

All these 5 women, considered the ideals of womanhood, ‘knew’ multiple men. Unlike the 5 satis, whose sexual experience was limited only to their husbands. Even today, in classically minded households, the पंच कन्या panch-kanyapantheon is held as ideal in India.

This post extracted below technically examines in much detail, the significance of this shloka. Yet, the post below does not propose an alternate sexual equation – different from the Desert Bloc.

Walking The Talk

The relevance of this shloka was the sexual equation between the genders in भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra. This shloka proves how sexual liberty for women was guaranteed in भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

There is another traditional verse celebrating five satis, chaste wives: Sati, Sita, Savitri, Damayanti and Arundhati. Are then Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari not chaste wives because each has “known” a man, or more than one, other than her husband? If so, why should invoking them be extolled as redeeming? Moreover, why is the intriguing term kanya applied to them?

Of this group, three – Ahalya, Tara, Mandodari – belong to Ramayana, the epic composed by Valmiki, the first seer-poet. Draupadi and Kunti are celebrated inMahabharata, Harivamsa and the Markandeya, Devi Bhagavata and BhagavataPuranas. (via Panchkanya : Women of Substance by Pradip Bhattacharya).

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra guarantees four freedoms – धर्म (dharma – justice), अर्थ (arth – wealth and means), काम (kaam – human desires) मोक्ष (moksha – liberty) and ensures three rights – ज़र (jar – gold), जन (jan – human ties) and जमीन (jameen – property) for all.

People for Profit – The NGO story

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Environment, European History, Feminist Issues, History, India, Media, politics, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on November 22, 2010
(Cartoon courtesy - http://www.bihartimes.in). Click for larger image.

(Cartoon courtesy - http://www.bihartimes.in). Click for larger image.

Funding India NGOs

Something very strange is happening. There are some 33 lakh (3.3 million) NGOs, operating in India – for the 20 crore (200 million) odd families in India. That would be one NGO for every 70 families.

These mushrooming NGOs are getting billions of US$ in funding. Recently,

Statistics released by the home ministry regarding ‘foreign funds to NGOs’ show that India, which has a total of 33,937 registered associations, received Rs 12,289.63 crore in foreign contributions during 2006-07 as against Rs 7,877.57 crore in 2005-06, a substantial increase of nearly Rs 4,400 crore (56%) in just one year.

The US, Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Italy were the top five foreign contributors during 2006-07. These five countries have consistently been the big donors since 2004-05. Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and France are the other countries which figure prominently in the list of foreign donors. (read more via Foreign funds to Indian NGOs soar, Pak among donors-India-The Times of India).

Foreign aid kitty - Table courtesy - Times of India

Foreign aid kitty - Table courtesy - Times of India.

What does this mean …

Rs 12,289.63 crore is roughly US$3 billion – based on average dollar value for 2008.

And that, is a lot of money.

That is more money than what the US Govt. gave as aid to more than the 100 poorest countries. Till a few years ago, India annual FDI was US$ 4 billion. Just a little more than the US$3 billion that India received as charity through various NGOs in 2008.

The total US Official Development Assistance to the whole of sub-Saharan Africa (more than 40 countries), in 2007, was “US$4.5 billion contributed bilaterally and an estimated $1.2 billion was contributed through multilateral organizations”.

What is the source of these funds …

The rich, the poor and the middle class in these ‘charitable countries’ are themselves deep in debt. Where are they getting the money from? Why are they being so liberal towards India? What is the source of these funds?

Where this money going …

Is it going as thinly disguised aid to Naxal affected areas – where some ‘Christian’ missionaries are working tosave’ the tribals? Is it going towards publicity for causes which are thinly disguised trade issues. For instance, child labour – which is, in many cases, a system of apprenticeship for traditional skills.

Or are these NGOs promoting policy frameworks which are distorting India’s social systems? The Population Myth /Problem /Explosion for instance was promoted for the first decade by Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation and USAID. Are they behind the NGOs which are promoting Section 498 laws as a legal solution – a solution that ‘benefits’ about 5000 women and creates about 150,000 women as victims.

AIDS was the excuse to open doors. (Cartoonist - Godfrey Mwampembwa “Gado”; from Nairobi, Kenya; courtesy - http://www.pambazuka.org). Click for larger image.

AIDS was the excuse to open doors. (Cartoonist - Godfrey Mwampembwa “Gado”; from Nairobi, Kenya; courtesy - http://www.pambazuka.org). Click for larger image.

These are laws and policies which are undermining the Indian family system. Which country in the world has a stable family structure with such low divorce rates as India?

The Clintons, The Gates, The Turners, et al

The ‘progressive-liberal’ establishment of the West is viewed rather benignly in India – and seen as ‘well-wishers’ of India. Many such ideas are welcomed in India without analysis. These ideas are viewed positively, as the source of such initiatives is seen as well-intentioned. These rich money-bags in cahoots with the State’s propaganda machinery, the media and academia are creating false messiahs, hollow idols and instant saints.

St.Tony Judt - The media and academia in cahoots with the State (Cartoon by Pavel Constantin, Romania; Cartoon Courtesy - caglecartoons.com).

St.Tony Judt - The media and academia in cahoots with the State (Cartoon by Pavel Constantin, Romania; Cartoon Courtesy - caglecartoons.com).

The beatification of Saint Judt

The last 90 days saw a surge on obits, reviews and tributes to Tony Judt.

Tony who? Exactly.

An unknown writer till a few months ago, has suddenly become famous in his death. Media (at least in India) has gone overboard. But when Marathi media started on Tony Judt, it was high noon. The straw on the camel’s back.

OK, guilty of misrepresentation. Not the camel’ back! It was my back.

There seems an effort at beatification of Tony Judt. In the modern era, temporal authorities, award a quick Nobel Prize, pin a Congressional Medal of Honor – and the process of ‘secular’ sainthood is completed. Media aids by marching to the drumbeat of the State. These ‘secular’ sainthoods by the ‘modern-secular-liberal-progressive-democratic’ establishment are not meant to be enduring or important. They , the latter-day, disposable, ‘secular’ saints, serve a utilitarian purpose to their masters – the State.

Tony Judt is no exception.

How come 'modern' Western identities are not included by Tony Judt in his 'problem' list? (Cartoon By - Angel Boligan, Courtesy - Cagle Cartoons)

How come 'modern' Western identities are not included by Tony Judt in his 'problem' list? (Cartoon By - Angel Boligan, Courtesy - Cagle Cartoons)

From the safety of a university cloister

By being overtly anti-Israel, Tony Judt, gets an inside track into the Islāmic mind – to start his ideas of ‘identity’.

A self-confessed, Social Democrat (but that is not ‘identity’) Tony Judt is the type who speaks from the comfort of a winning side.

We know enough of ideological and political movements to be wary of exclusive solidarity in all its forms. One should keep one’s distance not only from the obviously unappealing “-isms”—fascism, jingoism, chauvinism—but also from the more seductive variety: communism, to be sure, but nationalism and Zionism too. And then there is national pride: more than two centuries after Samuel Johnson first made the point, patriotism—as anyone who passed the last decade in America can testify—is still the last refuge of the scoundrel. (read more via Edge People | The New York Review of Books).

As fortunes shifted and wavered, Tony Judt’s recounts how his family moved from one declining economy to another growing economy. From Eastern Europe, vaguely in a region near Russia, to Antwerp in Belgium, thereon to Britain, and finally to the USA. He finds

over the years these fierce unconditional loyalties—to a country, a God, an idea, or a man—have come to terrify me. The thin veneer of civilization rests upon what may well be an illusory faith in our common humanity.

The West has systematically deformed Islamic identity - after dismantling the Ottoman Empire. (Cartoonist - Paresh Nath, Published by - The National Herald, India)

The West has systematically deformed Islamic identity - after dismantling the Ottoman Empire. (Cartoonist - Paresh Nath, Published by - The National Herald, India)

To people like Tony Judt, identity is a matter of convenience. And they rightly, recommend that people must have no identity – and by extension, no loyalty. Fly flags of convenience. May the highest bidder win.

I wonder where Judt’s family was, when the Belgians were flogging the Congolese.

Sainthood by the Vatican

The ‘modern’ State and the media of the Free World have it easy when it comes to cannonising people like Tony Judt!

The Catholic Church has a rather exacting process, stretching over a few years, at the very least. The Catholic Church even appoints a Devil’s Advocate – someone who tries to find reasons why the candidate should NOT be declared a saint.

This process has sometimes taken decades too. After multiple processes and steps, a committee. the Congregation for the Causes of Saints decides on these issues. With the kind of rigour that the Vatican process follows, Saints have ‘public memory’ life span extending to centuries.

The perversion of the Islamic world started with the break up of the Ottoman Empire (Cartoon By - Emad Hajjaj, Jordan; Cartoon Courtesy - caglecartoons.com)

The perversion of the Islamic world started with the break up of the Ottoman Empire (Cartoon By - Emad Hajjaj, Jordan; Cartoon Courtesy - caglecartoons.com)

Coming to Saint Judt

Today when the West is paying the price for creating a misshapen Islāmic identity, people like Judt thinly speak out against identity – an Islāmic identity. Or when the West faces a challenge from Asia, China and India, it pays to talk of less identity.

This idea of less identity would not be such a bad idea – if you have so little of identity, to start with!

Remember trojan horses

A ‘tolerant’ and ‘open’ society like India can be a complacent victim to trojan horses – and ‘secular’ saints like Tony Judt. Another article a few weeks ago gave an overview of the NGO ‘economy’.

In many ways, (the) metamorphosis from a modest, village-level, kurta-pyjama clad activist into a well-heeled, suited-booted, city slicker whose voice is heard in high places, mirrors the changing face of India’s burgeoning voluntary sector. Once the preserve of the humble jholawallah, the ‘third sector’ of the Indian economy is now teeming with smart men and women, armed with management degrees, laptops and huge funds generated by a liberalised and booming economy. As the state retreats in an era of privatisation, new-generation NGOs have moved in to fill the vacuum, often doing what the government used to do in rural areas and urban slums or conducting advocacy programmes for policy interventions, even holding skill-building workshops to update small voluntary groups. Their activities are vast and varied and bear little resemblance to the sweetly charitable work of the silent, selfless grassroots workers of the ’70s and the ’80s.

The growth of the sector has been explosive in the past two decades, both in numbers and financial resources. First, the numbers. If the findings of a survey conducted by the Central Statistical Organisation of the ministry of statistics in 2008 are to be believed, there are as many as 3. 3 million NGOs registered in India. In other words, there is one NGO for every 400 Indians. No other country in the world boasts of such huge numbers in the third sector. However, this mind-boggling figure should be taken with a pinch of salt, as even the CSO report has acknowledged that many are probably defunct. But, as Sanjay Agarwal, a chartered accountant who works with several NGOs, said, “At least the CSO has tried to shine a light where there was darkness all these years. No one has ever tried to collate any kind of data on the voluntary sector. “

The CSO report then is a starting point and its data is revealing. It found that the big growth spurt has happened since 1991. As many as 30 per cent of the 3. 3 million NGOs were registered in the decade of the ’90s and 45 per cent more came up after the year 2000. While religious organisations and charities were the most commonly registered societies in the period before 1970, there was a phenomenal expansion in social service organisations after 1991 – as much as a 40 per cent increase, according to the CSO report.

It is significant that the phenomenal expansion of the voluntary sector coincides with the opening up of the economy and its rapid growth. India was changing as it privatised and globalised, and the changes saw NGOs blooming in thousands as civil society matured and began asserting itself. Nothing underscores their growing influence more than enforcement of the Right to Information Act and the National Rural Employment Generation Act, both of which were products of pressure from civil society organisations.

Yet, despite such unprecedented growth, there has been little or no effort to map the voluntary sector or streamline it for transparency. It remains opaque, with questionable accountability levels, leaving it vulnerable to scams and scandals and the inevitable public suspicion about sources and utilisation of funds. Because of the lack of comprehensive data, even estimates about the financial size of the sector vary. One figure is as high as Rs 75, 000 crore annually, but Rajesh Tandon, president of PRIA (Society for Participatory Research in Asia), a leading mega NGO that works with a host of smaller ones, puts the amount of money available to this sector at around Rs 40, 000 crore per year.

Most of the funding comes from domestic sources, of which the government is the largest donor. However, foreign donations make up a significant portion of the financial resources available to NGOs. Unfortunately, here too, despite a Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, no authentic figures are available, underlining the laxity that prevails in this sector. Home minister P Chidambaram told Parliament recently that the government recorded a figure of around Rs 10, 000 crore from foreign donations last year. He went on to add that this figure was grossly undervalued because nearly half the NGOs registered to receive foreign aid had not reported contributions they have received over the years. In other words, he said, foreign funding of the NGO sector could be as high as Rs 20, 000 crores.

The prevailing confusion and the lack of systems to track movement of funds have only served to tarnish the image of the voluntary sector, despite the good work that many of them do. As with every sector, there are good NGOs and bad NGOs. Unfortunately, the latter hog the headlines. Scams are aplenty, particularly when it comes to the disbursement of government money. The rural development ministry’s main funding agency, which also happens to be the biggest government donor, CAPART (Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology ), fell into disrepute because of the high level of corruption in the department. (read more via People for Profit | Cover Story | Times Crest).

Vatican opposes abortion for a steady supply of targets? (cartoonist - Adam Zyglis; cartoon courtesy - www.adamzyglis.com.). Click for larger and original image.

Vatican opposes abortion for a steady supply of targets? (cartoonist - Adam Zyglis; cartoon courtesy - http://www.adamzyglis.com.). Click for larger and original image.

The hoax of this century

2ndlook tracked and collated the entire Climate change campaign, where

  1. Multiple PR agencies, NGOs were used and funded by the British, Norwegian and Australian Governments
  2. To mount a global campaign of ‘epic’ proportions
  3. To stampede the world into a regime of faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats –
  4. That would monitor nations, industry and economies of the world.

The campaign possibly even subverted the Maldives election campaign to propel a Trojan horse into the developing world camp. Nobel prizes were dangled in front of the Trinidad’s PM. A group of ‘Vulnerable 14′ was promoted to make proxy noises on behalf of the organizers of his climate change hoax.

The do-gooder industry

These NGOs under the garb of being do-gooders, soon end up showing their true colours. Whether its was the Climate change campaign, or the social-service sector, the do-gooder industry is dangerous idea.

A 62-year-old British national, who was arrested by the UK police on charges of sexually abusing several boys of a boarding school in Chennai over three years from September 2003, is likely to walk free in a fortnight because of a year-long delay on the part of Indian authorities in assisting the probe. (read more via UK paedophile may walk free-Chennai-Cities-The Times of India).

The do-good industry

An Australian do-gooder was arrested for sexually assaulting children of an orphanage in Puri. Powel Allen, an eye surgeon employed with the orphanage for the past four years, was arrested in Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh). Sometime back, two other orphanage administrators, and alleged pedophiles, Duncan Grant and Allan John Waters were convicted (their conviction is now under appeal-review).

What do the supposed beneficiaries get? A lot of 'wind' ...(Cartoonist - Godfrey Mwampembwa “Gado”; from Nairobi, Kenya; courtesy - http://www.pambazuka.org). Click for larger image.

What do the supposed beneficiaries get? A lot of 'wind' ...(Cartoonist - Godfrey Mwampembwa “Gado”; from Nairobi, Kenya; courtesy - http://www.pambazuka.org). Click for larger image.

Further back, Wilhelm and Lile Marti, a Swiss couple, again in the do-good industry, were granted bail in a pedophilia case. After bail, they promptly fled India.

Do we really need these do-gooders?

Mother Teresa, another do-gooder raised hundreds of crores in the name of Kolkatta’s poor, A few hundreds of the Kolkatta’s poor benefited from that money. But many missionaries rode on the backs of these poor Kolkattans, raising even more money. The PR machine of the Vatican has done a great job on this scam.

Create false alarums! (cartoon date - 2009/12/22; SeattlePI - (cartoon - Horsey) What's the take-away message?). Click for larger image.

Create false alarums! (cartoon date - 2009/12/22; SeattlePI - (cartoon - Horsey) What's the take-away message?). Click for larger image.

Even if India can’t take care of its poor, we don’t need these do-gooders!

Away!! Begone!

Should we say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!!’

They have problems at home

Spain has 400,000 prostitutes (for a population of 40 million) who ‘attract’ 15,00,000 clients every day. Some state the Spanish social system is in! Britain has 10,000 Muslim prisoners out 16,00,000 British Muslims . Quite a number of prisoners to have!

And these very countries had the temerity to ‘donate’ Indian NGOs a humungous US$3 billion (nearly) last year. May I suggest? Keep your money and keep your do-gooders at home.

Your need is greater than ours.

Linguistics of the Jewish diaspora

Our knowledge of Jewish life in the second century B.C.E. comes mainly from Flavius Josephus (37/38-95/100 C.E.), the great Jewish-Roman historian who wrote in Greek, the scholarly language of his time. The hellenization of the Jews had been thorough.The King of Judea and the High Priest of Yahweh had Greek names. (page 240).

During the third century B.C.E., the Tobiads were the principal advocates of hellenization among the Jews (Grayzel 1969:49). The Jewish family called the Tobiads (the sons of Tobias) traced their ancestry to Tobias the Ammonite, governor of the Persian province of Ammon (now Jordan), east of Jordan River, during the tenure of  Nehemiah in Judea in the fifth century B.C.E. One of them, Joseph ben Tobias, became very prominent during the second half of that century. (page 219).

By the beginning of the third century B.C.E. the Jews were being hellenized rapidly. They no longer spoke Hebrew or Aramaic, but Greek. Their religious services were conducted in Greek. Their personal Hebrew names were hellenized: Honio became Onias, Ezra became Esdras, Yeshua became Iesous (Jesus), and Joshua became Jason. Some Jews had Greek names only, such as Antigonus, Hyrkanos, Aristobolus, or Philon (Philo).The choice of such names by Jews for their children indicated the degree of their hellenization. (page 219).

During the reign of Ptolemaios Philadelphos (Ptolemy II, 308-246 B.C.E.), the Torah and other Jewish holy scriptures were translated into Greek by a synod of scholars. (page 215).

During the years that he was the High Priest and ethnarch (175-171 B.C.E.) Jason promoted Greek sports at the expense of Temple worship. Jason did not last long in the office of High Priest. He was unseated in 171 B.C.E. by Menelaos, a member of the noble Jewish Tobiads and a more extreme Hellenizer than Jason himself.(page 224-225).

By the first century, Greek had become the language of the Jews in the”diaspora”. The Jews of the Hellenic world spoke Greek the way present-day American Jews speak English. During the Greco-Roman and the Byzantine periods, from the late fourth century B.C.E., to the early seventh century C.E. most Jews were thoroughly Hellenized.(page 454).

By the third century B.C.E the Jews of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt had become thoroughly hellenized. They worshipped Zeus, Hera, and the rest of the Greek pantheon. There were images of Greek sun god Helios, the wine god Dionysos, and the demigod Heracles on Jewish synagogue floor mosaics at Sepphori an other Gallilean cities as late as the sixth century C.E. But the Orthodox Jews violently resisted Hellenism. The conflict between Helenism and Judaism, or rather between hellenized and Orthodox Jews, was to lead to major trouble in the second century BCE, after Palestine was captured from Egypt by the Seleucid Greeks of Syria. (page 215).

Just as in modern America most Jews use English rather than Hebrew in their religious services and rituals, so Greek was used by the Jews of Egypt, including Judea, in their religion (page 215).

Hellenic culture was much more attractive to the young Jews of Judea than the rigid strictures of their own religion. The Greek myths and deities, projections of the deepest infantile conflicts and family relations, etched into the unconscious mind of every person, deeply appealed to the people, just as the Canaanites myths had to their ancestors. The Tobiads led the wave of hellenization among the Jews. (page 220)

Jews always spoke the language of the land which was their home. When expulsions and persecutions eventually brought about a wider separation between the Jews and the non-Jews, the result was a growing dissimilarity between the intimate languages spoken by each group.(Grayzel quoted on page 458).

in the early fourth century, the Jews were divided into three main groupings. Those living in the Western Roman Empire of Italy, which comprised much of Western Europe, spoke mainly Latin, the lingua franca of the West, and the native European languages of the ethnic groups amongst whom they lived. The Jews of the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium, with its capital at Constantinople spoke mainly Greek, the language of the East. The Jews living in Sassanian Neo-Persian empire east of the Euphrates spoke mainly Aramaic. Hebrew continued to be spoken by Jewish scholars and by the people in their prayers. (page 337).

During the seventh and eighth centuries the lands inhabited by Jew in the Middle East and North Africa were conquered by the Muslim Arabs. Arabic became the language of the these Jews. (page 454).

Text extracts from A psychoanalytic history of the Jews By Avner Falk.

Judaism – an existential challenge

Jews - the eternal victims

Jews - the eternal victims

The Jewish population, followers of one of the oldest religions in the world, across countries and in Israel, today faces an existential challenge. With 0.25% of world population, i.e. less than 1.5 crore Jews left, in a world of more than 600 crore people, they have made enemies of their neighbours around their country.

The Jewish state, dependent on US largesse, hangs by a thin thread. Without Hitler, the world population of Jews would possibly have been not much better. Maybe 2.5 crores instead of 1.5 crores (at the risk of sounding insensitive). Maybe 0.5% of world population, instead of 0.25%. Also, must be remembered that Jewish studies in the modern context are affected by the ‘Jews as the eternal victims’ syndrome.

Genetic analysis of the Jewish populations

So, what is the reason for this fragile position of the Jewish population? One recent study states that

Admixture analysis based on binary and Y-STR haplotypes indicates a high mean proportion of ancestry from North African (10.6%) and Sephardic Jewish (19.8%) sources. Despite alternative possible sources for lineages ascribed a Sephardic Jewish origin, these proportions attest to a high level of religious conversion (whether voluntary or enforced), driven by historical episodes of social and religious intolerance, that ultimately led to the integration of descendants.

(from The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula by Susan M. Adams, et al; Copyright 2008 The American Society of Human Genetics, The American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 83, Issue 6, 725-736, 04 December 2008).

Another study concludes that the Jewish population shares a high level of common paternal similarities.

Several lines of evidence support the hypothesis that Diaspora Jews from Europe, Northwest Africa, and the Near East resemble each other more closely than they resemble their non-Jewish neighbors. The only exception was the Ethiopian Jews, who were affiliated more closely with non-Jewish Ethiopians and other North Africans.

Second, despite their high degree of geographic dispersion, Jewish populations from Europe, North Africa, and the Near East were less diverged genetically from each other than any other group of populations in this study. At the most basic level, the genetic distances observed among Jewish and non-Jewish populations can be interpreted as reflecting common ancestry, genetic drift, and gene flow. The latter two processes will tend to increase genetic distances among Jewish populations, whereas admixture will also have the effect of decreasing genetic distances between Jewish and non-Jewish populations.

Our results suggest that common ancestry is the major determinant of the genetic distances observed among Jewish communities, with admixture playing a secondary role. (from Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes By M. F. Hammer, et al )

Of course, it begs the question, was the Jewish population ever a significant part of global population? One writer who has addressed this question is James Carroll, in his book, Constantine’s sword. He estimates,

Jews accounted for 10 percent of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million. (He goes onto recount that the) potential demographic crisis facing the Jewish people is defined by the loss of the murdered millions, not only in the twentieth century, but in all others. (from Constantine’s sword By James Carroll, page 26-27, texts in brackets, mine).

Population growth and changes (of not just the Jews) are subject to interplay of complex demographic factors – like assimilation, disease, migration, reproduction rates and proselytization. Since these factors affect all human populations, further analysis of these factors may just reinforce current red herring theories.

The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!

The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!

Jews – the eternal victims?

Of course, Jews have not been the only population group in the world who have had to face the problems of epidemics, migration, assimilation, and conversion. What could have been a significant reason for the decline in the Jewish population over the centuries?

A 2ndlook at history points out (extracts above) that the Jewish populations gave up their language and culture ab initio. Within a few centuries of its foundation, they were giving up on their culture.

Interestingly, and apparently, language plays an important and crucial role in the expansion and growth of populations – as the Jewish case seems to suggest.

Those who don’t learn from history …

The Jewish history has invaluable lessons for Indians. For one, all those who think that English is God’s special gift to India (and mankind), should look at the eclipse of the Greek language. I am yet to discover the logic which shows that English will fare better than Greek, Spanish, Persian or Urdu.

Reducing the role of the Indian State

The massive subsidy given by the Indian state towards English language education needs to be phased out. Indian languages (all of them) should start getting back on their feet. The people of India, each individual will choose their language. No bureaucrat, politician, ‘intellectual’ will decide that. Finito. Completo. Terminato. Endlich. Eindig. ändlig.

The Indian language basket also calls for diversification. India needs to learn more foreign languages. The great ‘software success story’ is actually two countries – US and UK who give between 70%-80% of Indian software business? This is coolie labour! We are missing out on the massive Japanese, French and the Spanish markets because we have not invested in those foreign languages. And we have missed out on computing in Indian languages, because we have not invested there either.

The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!

The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!

How 1857 changed world history …

A war of a different kind

During the 1857 War against the colonial rule of Britain in India, unable to gain military advantage, British armed forces started using Indian populations as human shield. For each military success of the Indian armies, the British armies exacted retribution on the local non-combatant populations.

This reign of terror and brutality on home populations disarmed Indian armies and ended the war. A impressive work on this period is by Amaresh Misra – a film critic and journalist, who was moved sufficiently to research for a few years, because, “Since 1957, no Indian has written a comprehensive account of the Revolt. Indian historians have done a limited work”. Another step in this direction is Parag Tope’s forth coming book, Operation Red Lotus, on the life and wars of Tatiya Tope.

And after subduing the Indian population with this brutal campaign, Britain started a more insidious war – a propaganda war. History started getting twisted, perverted, mutilated – and over the next 100 years, Indian and world history was changed beyond recognition.

    Semiramis Receiving Word of the Revolt of Babylon, 1624 by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

Semiramis Receiving Word of the Revolt of Babylon, 1624 by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

Let the games begin

After 1857, British racist propaganda and cultural baggage came covertly – to gain better traction at home and in the colonies. For instance, Priya Joshi, a researcher shows that after 1857, book shipments from Britain to India increased by a factor of three.

The death of Semiramis

In this propaganda campaign, the most interesting bit is the cold-blooded murder of the historical Semiramis. Readers will find that Semiramis as an Assyrian Queen till the 1850-60 period Western histories.

The Marchese Tommaso II of Saluzzo commissioned Jacques Iverny in 15th century to paint Semiramis, (alongwith Lampheto, Marpasia, Synoppe, Thamiris, Menalippe, Hippolyta, Orithyia, and Penthesilea) now known as The Nine Worthies. Chaucer’s character, Sowdannesse, is charged of being a ‘Virago, thou Semyrame the secounde’ in his Man of Law’s Tale. Edward Degas and Guercine made Semiramis the subject of their paintings. Calderon used her character in his plays. Mozart died before he could complete his melodrama based on Semiramis. A 16th century painter, Philip Galle used Semiramis and Babylon as the subjects of his paintings.

    Philippe Galle – The City of Babylon with the grave of Semiramis

Philippe Galle – The City of Babylon with the grave of Semiramis

Mired in legend and prejudice, Semiramis is discredited in modern Western history – especially starting from 1853-1857. Her very existence denied, accused of incest, Semiramis has been tarred and condemned to the rubbish heap of modern history – and the Bible.

Semiramis established an empire that lasted, practically till WW1. Some 300 years, after the reign of Semiramis, the Assyrian Empire passed into Persian hands. From the Persians, into Alexander’s lap.

Suddenly, from 1860 onwards, Western history started treating Semiramis as a wanton, decadent, probably mythical, a perverted sluttish character.

The reason.

Semiramis biggest defeat was at the hands of Indians. And soon after her defeat, was the defeat of Cyrus the Great, at the hands of Indians again. And before that were the Battles of Meggido and Kadesh, in which Indic armies confronted the Slave Empire of the Egypt. Such an Indian history was very inconvenient for the British Raj.

Edgar Degas. Semiramis Building Babylon. 1861

The Alexander mythos

Alexander’s raid of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, finally turned out to be a overthrow of the Achaemenid dynasty, usurpers of the Assyrian Empire. Unable to make headway into India, as the Indian Brahmins had helped and influenced Indian princes to organize and support the Indian war against Alexander. Greek sources cite, after this realization, at ‘The City of Brahmans’, Alexander massacred an estimated 8000-10,000 of these non-combatant Brahmans.

Alexander’s massacres in India, a colonial historian informs us (without naming a source), earned him an “epithet … assigned (to) him by the Brahmins of India, The Mighty Murderer.” This Indian Brahmanic characterization of Alexander, commonly taught to English schoolchildren and present in English college texts, as The Mighty Murderer, curiously disappeared from Western-English texts soon after 1860 – and instead now “a positive rose-tinted aura surrounds Alexander” … !

Since Indian texts were completely silent about the very existence of Alexander, colonial Western historians had a free run. Using hagiographic Greek texts as the base, Alexander became the conqueror of the world.

Max Mueller – Son of Hegel

Behind this propaganda was possibly a man who is much admired (wrongly) in India today – Max Mueller. For instance in Max Muller’s colonial propagandist history, when it comes to Indian triumphs over Semiramis, she becomes half legendary. Yet in another book, the same Semiramis becomes one of ‘the great conquerors of antiquity.’ In a matter of a few pages, he dismisses Indian history completely, in a half-Hegelian manner.

Among Max Mueller’s cohorts, was Karl Marx, who wrote from London, on Friday, June 10, 1853 on India, for the New-York Herald Tribune thus

Hindostan is an Italy of Asiatic dimensions, the Himalayas for the Alps, the Plains of Bengal for the Plains of Lombardy, the Deccan for the Apennines, and the Isle of Ceylon for the Island of Sicily. The same rich variety in the products of the soil, and the same dismemberment in the political configuration. Just as Italy has, from time to time, been compressed by the conqueror’s sword into different national masses, so do we find Hindostan, when not under the pressure of the Mohammedan, or the Mogul[104], or the Briton, dissolved into as many independent and conflicting States as it numbered towns, or even villages. Yet, in a social point of view, Hindostan is not the Italy, but the Ireland of the East. And this strange combination of Italy and of Ireland, of a world of voluptuousness and of a world of woes, is anticipated in the ancient traditions of the religion of Hindostan. That religion is at once a religion of sensualist exuberance, and a religion of self-torturing asceticism; a religion of the Lingam and of the juggernaut; the religion of the Monk, and of the Bayadere.[105]

Aiding Karl Marx-Max Mueller, English poets were press ganged into this propaganda war. Matthew Arnold wrote how, India, a ‘nation of philosophers, from

“The East bowed low before the blast
In patient, deep disdain,
She let the legions thunder past,
And plunged in thought again.”

Matthew Arnold’s influence in Indian education can be gauged by the fact that Indian-English language poetry was for long called derisively as Matthew Arnold in a Saree”. Just before 1857 War, the works of another ‘influential’ poet, John Keats, became popular. In his hubristic haze, Keats wrote how,

The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
And all his priesthood moans,
Before young Bacchus’ eye-wink turning pale.

Much of modern history’s debates and questions were born during this time – verily created to wage a propaganda war against India – and the world. India’s cultural stature in the pantheon of world’s societies was reduced to a minimal role – and the Greek Miracle was born.

In the dying days of the Raj

This propaganda war continued well for another 100 years. In the middle of WW2, Britain pulled out a general from the Italian theatre of war. Brigadier General Mortimer Wheeler, the general in question, was sent to India – to head colonial India’s archaeological operations.

One evening in early August 1943, Brigadier-General Mortimer Wheeler was resting in his tent after a long day of poring over maps, drawing up plans for invasion of Sicily. Mortimer Wheeler was invited to become the director general of archaeology by the India Office of the British government in its last years of rule in South Asia … Summoning a general from the battlefields of Europe was an extraordinary measure, an admission both of the desperate condition of Indian archaeology and an acknowledgment of its vital importance. (from The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture … – Google Books).

Amazing!

Why would the glorious British Empire, on which the sun never set, struggling for its very existence, in the middle of WW2, suddenly pull a general back from the battlefield? Remember, the deceptive Operation Mincement had just been completed. The Allies for readying their armies for their assault on Hitler in Europe. The outcome of the war was far from certain.

And they put a Brigadier-General into archaeology! That too, Indian archaeology. Not Egyptian, not Greek! Especially, when it was clear, that they would be departing from India – sooner rather than later.

Rule Britannia
Rule Britannia

Right choice … right time

Considering what theories came from Mortimer Wheeler’s rather fertile ‘imagination’ and his rigourous archaeological process, in hindsight, from a Western perspective, this was sound decision. There may be the facile answer that the British were, after all ‘searching for history and truth’.

And it led Mortimer Wheeler to remark,

“They demonstrate with astonishing clarity the extent to which the brief transit of Alexander did in fact Hellenize almost instantly vast tracts of Asia populated previously by nomads or semi-nomads and villagers”

It is this one incident which possibly contains answers to many unanswered questions like: –

  1. The amount of energy expended by the West in defending the Aryan Invasion /Migration Theory,
  2. The lack of access to Indian scholars of the archaeological sites in Pakistan
  3. The many myths in Indian history
  4. The clues to the partition of India
  5. The dating problems

et al.

Just why did the world’s foremost imperial power, struggling for its very existence, suddenly pull a general from the battle field, in the middle of WW2 – and put him onto the job of digging dirt.

Only one explanation fits – it had to be a struggle for its own existence at a higher level!

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