2ndlook

Prince Charles related to Impaler Vlad – Surprised?

Posted in British Raj, Desert Bloc, European History, History, India, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on November 29, 2011

How Prince Charles is linked to Indian gunpowder ingredients that reached Roma Gypsies in early 15th century, giving them victory over the armies of royal Europe and the Church.

Where is the home of Count Dracula? Map showing Transylvania, home of Count Dracula.  |  Image source and courtesy - dailymail.co.uk  | Click for larger image.

Where is the home of Count Dracula? Map showing Transylvania, home of Count Dracula. | Image source and courtesy - dailymail.co.uk | Click for larger image.

Central European newspapers yesterday were alight with speculation that the Prince of Wales could be anointed the next King of Romania if the country’s monarchy is restored.

The last royal ruler, King Michael was forced to abdicate by the country’s new Communist leaders.

Romania went on (for) decades of communist government, most notably under dictatorial party leader Nicolae Ceausescu who ruled the country with an iron fist from 1965 until 1989.

The deposed King, Prince Michael, is still alive – albeit rather elderly at 90 – and has family of his own.

Despite the reintroduction of democracy, in recent years there have been increasing calls for the monarchy to be restored. (via Prince Charles could become king… of ROMANIA after revealing he is related to Vlad the Impaler | Mail Online, parts excised for brevity).

But … naturellement

Prince Charles claims descent from Vlad the Impaler (1431–1476); popularly and more famously known as Dracula was intermittently the ruler (between 1456-1462) of Wallachia.

Coming from a dynasty that has spilled the most blood in the history of the world, it is not surprising if Prince Charles is related to Impaler Vlad, the Dracula. Responsible for two world wars, many wars in Europe, genocides in Australia and America, millions of deaths in colonies (like India, Kenya, Malaysia), it is no surprise that House of Windsor (Prince Charles’ family) is related to Vlad the Impaler. Can it be forgotten that a little more than a decade ago, Prince Phillip (father of Prince Charles), contested the number of people dead at the Jallianwala Bagh firing?

After years of academic suppression and Hollywood misdirection, the story of the true Dracula is obscured. So, why did Vlad, the Impaler, give such gruesome deaths, impaling tens of thousands of people? Who were these ‘victims’ and how many such people died?

Impaler Vlad is being rehabilitated as an sworn enemy and ruthless killer of of Islamic Turks. Modern medal featuring Vlad Tepes "The Impaler." Metal plated with 24-karat gold  | Image source, courtesy - ancientresource.com  |  Click for larger image.

Impaler Vlad is being rehabilitated as an sworn enemy and ruthless killer of of Islamic Turks. Modern medal featuring Vlad Tepes "The Impaler." Metal plated with 24-karat gold | Image source, courtesy - ancientresource.com | Click for larger image.

Dark Ages – that never went away

For answers, we need to go back a hundred years (1409) before Vlad the Impaler.

After centuries of persecution by the Vatican, people in Eastern Europe, proposed changes in Church and its systems.

The mass-movement for Church reform was led by a University rector, Jan Hus (1369 – 6 July 1415), from Bohemia. Between the King and the Church, Jan Huss was tricked into ‘peace-talks’ with the Church, where he was captured and burnt at the stake (1415).

Large parts of Czechoslovakia, Romania, Eastern Germany rose in revolt against the killing of Jan Hus – till war broke out.

Time for War

Led by a brilliant military commander and diplomat, Jan Zizka.

Zizka was able to ensure an alliance between the two main reform factions – the Calyxtenes and the Taborites. This alliance defeated the combined armies of royal Europe and the Church, in many battles, and waged war for nearly 15 years (Hussite Wars-1419-1434). These battles, collectively known as Hussite Wars cracked open the authority of the Church.

The role of the Taborites in the Hussite Wars was of great importance. Taborites were migratory camp-people, who moved their camps in wagons and roamed Europe. The Taborites turned their wagons into armoured vehicles – and fought behind massed wagons. These Wagonbergs, made of armoured wagons, had one major element that gave them superiority. The Taborites using gunpowder, pounded the Church forces with fire.

Gunpowder it was

Gunpowder was a rare and mostly unknown element in the poor and backward Europe of 15th century.

India was the largest manufactory of gunpowder elements. And a major element of the commercial chain were the Banjaras. In 1656 British traders based at Surat, ‘inquired from Anthony Smith at Ahmedabad about the possibility of getting saltpetre from the Banjaras’. While the governor of Gujarat, Prince Murad Baksh, ‘oppressed the Banjaras so much that they gave up their trade in saltpetre’.

Banjaras are known as Roma Gypsies in Europe. The Roma Gypsies brought gunpowder to battle – and with their wagonbergs, ensured defeat of the combined Church and royal forces of Europe.

It was the the Hussite Wars that started Europe’s lurching movement over 400 years to end Church persecution and limit Church authority. From the death of Jan Hus in 1415 to the end of Napoleonic Wars (at Waterloo, in 1815), who had earlier enforced ‘secularization’of Europe.

Jan Hus being burnt at the stake |  Image via Wikipedia

Jan Hus being burnt at the stake | Image via Wikipedia

Taborites defeated

The Taborites were finally defeated after they were sold out by their allies, the Calyxtenes.

With Jan Zizka dead (October 11, 1424), the Calyxtenes  stuck a ‘secret’ deal with the Church, and betrayed the Taborites.

The unsuspecting Taborites, were slayed by the thousands in a surprise raid, by the combined forces of the Clayxtenes, royal armies and the ‘soldiers’ of the Church.

Soon after this massacre of the Taborites, the persecution of the Roma Gypsies started in full earnest across Europe.

Laws were passed, legalizing slavery of the Roma Gypsy, capture of Roma Gypsy children (which was allowed in Switzerland till early 1970s).

Vlad’s killing spree

Vlad the Impaler, killed thousands of people, foremost being the Roma Gypsy, who opposed the Church and its appointed rulers. The others that Vlad The Impaler killed were the Turkic captives (partly Roma Gypsies serving in Ottoman armies) of the Ottoman Empire. Europe has expunged this history from their books – and the Roma Gypsy contribution to the building of ‘modern’ Europe.

But is this ‘censorship’ by a State-supported academia, surprising?

Gold … and silver

Bohemia, a small kingdom, (now a part of Czechoslovakia) discovered major silver deposits. The King Of Bohemia, Charles-I, invited Germans from nearby areas to expand trade and commerce. In 1419 King Wenceslas of Bohemia died. Emperor Sigismund, of Germany, a staunch Catholic of the Holy Roman Empire, inherited the Kingdom.

The first major successful revolt against the Church were the Hussite wars – a 100 years before the Martin Luther’s Ninety Five Theses (in 1517). Led by Jan Zizka. A small Czech Army, repeatedly defeated the Catholic Army from Germany. After 20 years of defeats, the Church was forced to negotiate.

The trigger for this war was a University rector.

The Rector Of Prague

At the Charles University of Prague. The rector went by the name of Jan Hus. Pope Alexander V issued orders on 20 December 1409, instructing Archbishop Zajic (also spelt Zbynek, with diacritics), his representative to proceed against reformers – led by John Hus. A supporter of Church Reform, John Hus opposed many practices of the Roman Church.

Hus was persuaded to attend the Council Of Konstanz (Constance) under the protection of the Emperor Sigismund. The Emperor refused to honour his promise of safe conduct and allowed Hus to be tried and then executed as a heretic. In 1415 John Hus was arrested and condemned to death by the members of the Council of Konstanz (Constance).

Bohemia was in uproar. Supporters of Hus made their displeasure plain. The protestors organised themselves , took the Chalice (Calyx) as their symbol and came to be known as Calyxtines.

More than 500,000 died in the following unrest.

Woodcut from the title page of a 1499 pamphlet published by Markus Ayrer in Nuremberg. It depicts Vlad III "the Impaler" (identified as Dracole wyade = Draculea voivode) dining among the impaled corpses of his victims.  |  Image fi.wikipedia

Woodcut from the title page of a 1499 pamphlet published by Markus Ayrer in Nuremberg. It depicts Vlad III "the Impaler" (identified as Dracole wyade = Draculea voivode) dining among the impaled corpses of his victims. | Image fi.wikipedia

Jan Zizka

In 1420, a 60 year old man, blind in one eye took charge – and took on the might of the Roman Church and Roman Emperors.

Jan Zizka.

Over the next 12 months, he became completely blind. In the next 15 years, Zizka (and other Czech generals) defeated, many times, the combined armies of Germany, The Roman Church and others. His military strategy was studied for the next 500 years. Thereafter, the myth of military might of the Church was broken forever.

Jan Zizka allied himself with the Taborites (the radical Hussite wing). Zizka made Tábor in Bohemia into an armored and mobile fortress – the Wagenburgs.

Sigismund tasted defeat at Visehrad (now a part of Prague) at the hands of Zizka (July, 1420) and the Taborite troops. Many anti-Hussite crusades were launched unsuccessfully against Zizka. One Catholic stronghold after another, fell. Zizka continued to command in person, though he had become totally blind in 1421.

In 1423 Zizka formed his own Hussite wing, while remaining in close alliance with the Taborites. In 1424, Zizka used his army, to lower tensions between the radical Taborites and the moderate Utraquists, whose stronghold was at Prague. He sent his armies to Prague to force the city to adhere to the anti-Rome /German policy.

A negotiated armistice averted a civil war between the two Hussite factions. The outcome – a united attack on Moravia. The commander – Jan Zizka. On his death bed, Zizka, asked that his skin be used to make a drum that would lead his armies into battle.

Military success

Zizka’s army, made up of untrained soldiers, (peasants and burghers-townspeople) using gunpowder, defeated trained and well-paid armies of Royal Europe and the Church. He did not have the time or resources to train these fighters in armament and tactics of the time. Instead they used weapons like iron-tipped pikes and flails, armored farm wagons, mounted with small, howitzer type cannons.

His armored wagons, led by the Taborites, in offensive movements, broke through the enemy lines, firing as they rolled, cutting superior forces into pieces. For defense, the wagons were arranged into a tight, impregnable barrier surrounding the foot soldiers – the Wagonberg (the wagon fort), as they came to be known. The wagons also served to transport his men – forerunner of modern tank warfare. Zizka’s experience under various commanders was useful. At the battle of Tannenberg (1410), Zizka fought on the Polish side , in which the famed German Teutonic Knights were defeated.

The Gypsy secret weapon

And gunpowder was the secret weapon that the Taborite Gypsy armies of Jan Zizka used, mounted on top of the wagons that cut enemy troops to size?

Gunpowder. And Gypsies?

At the end of the 19th century, this was still known. And an extract from that books goes onto trace the introduction of gunpowder to Europe.

Now, Mons is the capital of Hainault ; and the first people known to have used firearms in England were the Hainaulters. “In 1327 the English employed some Hainaulters, who used cannon for King Edward III against the Scotch.” Do these facts not suggest very strongly that the artillerymen among the Hainaulters were procured from one or other of the ” quartiers des Sarrazins ” of that province ? The connection between Edward III and Hainault was very close, for in the year following the arrival of the gunpowder-using Hainaulters, he married Philippa of Hainault. And, since he imported artillerymen from Hainault, it is quite likely that those “foreign traders,” who came to St. Giles’ Fair. Winchester, during his reign, selling ” brazen vessels of all kinds,” were really from Dinant, near Namur, as has been suggested. These people are cited by Mr. Groome {Gypsy Lore Journal, i. 50), as possible Gypsies ; if one grants that there were Gypsies in Belgium in the fourteenth century. For, of course, both of these suggestions are based upon that assumption. (from Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society by FRANZ VON MIKLOSICH).

But do Gypsies and war ever mix?

They have often been employed in military expeditions, but never as regular soldiers. In the Thirty Years’ War the Swedes had a body of them in the army ;  and the Danes had three companies of them at the siege of Hamburg, in 1686. They were chiefly employed in flying parties, to burn, plunder, or lay waste the enemy’s country. In two Hungarian regiments nearly every eighth man is a Gypsy. (from Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society by FRANZ VON MIKLOSICH).

Post Hussite Wars and the ‘Reformation’, establishing the CRER-principle (cuius regio, eius religio, meaning whose land, his religion) to settle Germany, giving rise to the logic of ‘ubi unus dominus, ibi una sit religio’ (One ruler, one religion). Just in case someone had religious disagreement, the logic was they could well emigrate – (ius emigrandi).

In 1887, Bram Stoker, an Irish writer published his Dracula. The character of Dracula is based on the descendants of Emperor Sigismund and his Order of the Dragon, who waged war against the Hussites – led by Jan Zizka. Infamous for his betrayal of Jan Hus, Emperor Sigismund sparked of the Hussite Wars, in which the Taborites (the Roma Gypsies) used wagons and gun powder for the first time in Europe. He founded a secret sect,  the “Dracul” called the Order of the Dragon.

A very interesting play by Calderon was La vida es sueño (Life is a dream). It tells the story of Segismundo, the Prince Of Poland, who was destined to be a monster. To forestall the prophecy, Segismundo was imprisoned by his father from the time of his birth. John Hunyadi’s son, Matthias Corvinus, the voevod or warlord of Transylvania region actually kept Vlad, The Impaler, another candidate for Dracula imprisoned, dates vary, but seemingly, from 1462-1474. In adulthood, released from prison to test the prediction, Segismundo fulfills the prophecy. As a analyst of Calderon’s work summarizes,

Affirming a “better reality,” Segismundo’s message speaks as well to all of Europe: the “new European man” is the real monster. (from The subject in question By C. Christopher Soufas).

Pakistan and the Mumbai Attacks: The Untold Story

Posted in America, Current Affairs, India, Indo Pak Relations, Islamic Demonization, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on November 25, 2011

This is an extract from ProPublica’s post on the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. Not very new or revealing -but useful, as it a rare case, where most of the information in the public domain is presented as a single narrative.

This extract is about the role of David Headley. It is 2ndlook’s opinion, that David Headley’s role is a window to the smokescreen – and ISI-Pakistani State involvement, if it is, is a small part of a bigger story.

The bigger story is Oil.

Hundreds of miles away in Pakistan, a youthful terrorist chief named Sajid Mir was preparing a different sort of religious mission. With the support of Pakistan’s intelligence service, Mir had spent two years using a Pakistani-American businessman named David Coleman Headley to conduct meticulous reconnaissance on Mumbai, according to investigators and court documents. He had selected iconic targets and the Chabad House, a seemingly obscure choice, but one that ensured that Jews and Americans would be casualties.

His name at the time was Daood Gilani, but he would become known to the world as David Coleman Headley.

Headley, now 50, differed from Sajid Mir’s other protégés. He was older, a ladies’ man, a globe-trotter at ease among American and Pakistani elites. Born in Washington, D.C. to a prominent Pakistani broadcaster and a Philadelphia socialite, he moved to Pakistan as an infant and grew up in a conservative, devout household, attending a top military school.

Returning to the United States at 17 with his mother, he lived in Philadelphia and then New York and slid into a wild lifestyle of heroin dealing and addiction. In 1988, the DEA busted him at the Frankfurt Airport trying to smuggle drugs from Pakistan to the United States. According to court documents he promptly betrayed his accomplices, cooperated with investigators and won a reduced sentence.

After a bust in New York in 1997, Headley became a prized informant of the Drug Enforcement Administration. At the same time, he radicalized after years of a casual attitude toward Islam, according to associates. While spying on drug traffickers in Pakistan and participating in undercover DEA stings in New York, he began raising funds and recruiting for Lashkar. During a visit to his father’s home in Lahore in 2000, he became friends with Saeed, the Lashkar spiritual chief who draws tens of thousands to his rallies, and embraced the group’s ideology.

Headley juggled women as well as allegiances. He entered into an arranged marriage with a Pakistani in 1999 and now has four children with her. But he continued a longtime relationship in New York with a blonde make-up artist whom he married in 2002, according to court documents and interviews.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. authorities decided Headley’s unique profile would help them respond to a dire need for intelligence from South Asia. Prosecutors and DEA agents went to a federal judge and won an unusual decision ending Headley’s probation three years early, according to court documents and anti-terror officials. Weeks after the December 2001 ruling, Headley headed for Pakistan. U.S. officials say he was still a DEA informant when he began training in the Lashkar camps in early 2002 and may have remained an informant until 2005 or later.

Although the Pakistani instructors in the camps decided Headley was too old and too slow for combat in Kashmir, the charming American hit it off with Sajid Mir, the coordinator of foreign recruits. The two bonded because they both had smooth, aggressive con-man personalities, investigators say. Mir decided to cultivate this man of many worlds as a clandestine operative, according to documents and officials.

Later that year, Sajid Mir’s experience in international operations and his skills as a handler of Western recruits paid off. Lashkar chose him to develop its most ambitious plot to date, a strike on Mumbai, India’s economic and cultural capital. Mir turned to Headley, his prize American recruit.

Headley was eager to put his talents to use. He had studied ideology, weapons, hand-to-hand-combat and survival skills during five extended stints in the Lashkar camps. He had become friendly with Lashkar bosses, some of whom were his neighbors in Lahore. Mir, his friend and protector, lived near the airport and a golf club in that city, according to Headley’s interrogation.

During a trip to New York in August 2005, Headley survived a close call with his wife there. New York police arrested him for assault after he allegedly slapped her in a domestic dispute, according to investigators and an investigative document. The wife reported his activities with Lashkar to a federal terrorism task force, describing in three interviews his radicalization, his training in the Pakistani camps and his claims that he was working as a U.S informant. Nonetheless, the FBI decided Headley did not pose a threat and closed the inquiry. His travels around the world continued, unimpeded.

Soon afterward, Headley met in Pakistan with Mir and other Lashkar bosses. They told him he had been chosen to do reconnaissance for a big job in Mumbai. He went to Philadelphia in November and legally changed his name from Daood Gilani to David Coleman Headley to conceal his Pakistani heritage. He also arranged to use the consulting firm of a Pakistani friend in Chicago, First World Immigration Services, as a cover for his terrorist reconnaissance.

“The change of name, establishment of an immigration office in India …use of an American passport and so on were my ideas,” Headley later told interrogators. “Lashkar appreciated these ideas.”

Headley had learned by now that Lashkar had an almost symbiotic relationship with the ISI, according to his confession.

The spy agency has “control over the most important operatives” of Lashkar, and every chief “is handled by some ISI official,” he told investigators, according to the Indian report. An ISI brigadier general served as handler for Zaki-ur-Rehmane Lakhvi, Lashkar’s military chief, who also “is close to the [Director General] of ISI,” he said. The ISI funded Lashkar and shielded Saeed, the spiritual leader, from interference, Headley said.

Saeed “is very close to ISI,” Headley said. “He is well protected.”

Headley’s confession confirms the assessment of foreign intelligence agencies, according to officials and experts: In exchange for ISI funding and direction, Lashkar has steadfastly avoided attacking the Pakistani state.

Pakistani officials deny such allegations. But U.S. and Indian investigators say Headley was more than a terrorist: He became a Pakistani spy.

“I don’t know of any other cases in which ISI has used and worked with Americans,” said Faddis, the former CIA counter-terror chief. “Having a guy like this would be great for LeT and ISI. The Indians are working off a profile of what they think enemy operatives look like. This guy does not fit that profile. He can walk through the screen without being seen.”

Headley’s relationship with the ISI began in January 2006 after Pakistani authorities briefly detained him for trying to smuggle arms into India. An ISI officer named Major Samir Ali interviewed the American, then referred him to a Major Iqbal, who became his main handler in Lahore, according to Headley’s account.

Major Iqbal, described as a fat, deep-voiced cigarette-smoker in his mid-thirties, brought Headley to a meeting with a man identified as Lieutenant Colonel Shah. The two officers promised Headley financial support for terrorist operations against India, according to the interrogation report.

At subsequent meetings in safe houses, Major Iqbal gave Headley secret documents on India. He assigned a noncommissioned officer to give the American standard intelligence training. Headley learned techniques for detecting surveillance, developing sources and other skills, then practiced with the lower-ranking officer on the streets of Lahore. The specialized training lasted several months and continued intermittently as Major Iqbal taught Headley how to use cameras and other devices for missions, the report says.

“I became close to Major Iqbal,” Headley said. “The training given by this NCO under the guidance of Major Iqbal was much more scientific and effective than the trainings I did in the LeT camps.”

Phone and e-mail evidence have corroborated Headley’s contact with Major Iqbal and other suspected ISI officers, U.S. and Indian officials say. Major Iqbal has been detected directing intelligence and terror operations in other cases, officials say.

Because Lashkar keeps the spy agency informed about its foreign militants, Headley’s arrest near the Pakistani border may have been part of a plan to recruit a promising American operative, an Indian counter-terror official said.

Pakistani officials say they haven’t been able to identify Major Iqbal. They deny that any serving military officers were involved in the plot.

“It’s possible people impersonate the ISI or the army,” the Pakistani official said. “Uniforms have been stolen in the past for this kind of thing.”

In the summer of 2006, according to U.S. court documents and investigators, Major Iqbal gave Headley $25,000 to pay for expenses and to establish his cover, a new office of the U.S. immigration consulting firm in the city that was his target: Mumbai.

Reconnaissance

Headley seemed like a gregarious, high-rolling American businessman when he set up shop in Mumbai in September 2006.

He hired a secretary and opened an office of First World Immigration Services, which brought hundreds of clients to the United States. He partied at swank locales such as the ornate Taj Mahal Hotel, a 1903 landmark favored by Westerners and the Indian elite. He joined an upscale gym, where he befriended a Bollywood actor. He roamed the booming, squalid city taking photos and shooting video.

But it was all a front. Headley was busy gathering intelligence, taking photos and shooting video of potential terrorist targets. When he returned to Pakistan, he reported to Major Iqbal in Lahore and Mir in Muzaffarabad, according to court documents.

Mir and Major Iqbal were both keenly interested in the iconic Taj, the centerpiece of the plan, according to U.S. and Indian court documents. Mir told Headley he needed more images and also schedules for the hotel’s conference rooms and ballroom, which often hosted high-powered events, according to investigators and court documents.

“They thought it would be a good place to get valuable hostages,” the Indian anti-terrorism official said.

Headley did more reconnaissance missions over the next two years, reporting to Mir and Major Iqbal before and after each trip. His Lashkar and ISI handlers met him separately, but they coordinated with each other, according to court documents and investigators.

In addition, Major Iqbal sent Headley on separate spying missions to scout an atomic research center and military sites around India. The ISI officer called Headley from a phone number with a 646 area code (one used in the New York area). This could have been a technique to conceal the origin of the calls in Pakistan and avoid eavesdropping by American and Indian intelligence agencies.

“The whole thing feels like ISI is trying to maintain plausible deniability,” said Faddis, using the intelligence term for operating through an intermediary who can be disavowed. “They are running in parallel with LeT and clearly leveraging sources for their own purposes, but they are still trying to avoid being directly tied to the attack planning, most of the time.”

In 2007 he and Major Iqbal sent Headley to assess several dozen targets in Mumbai and other Indian cities. Headley even befriended aides to a Hindu political strongman, a potential first step for an assassination plot, according to his confession.

Both Mir and Headley got married during this period, although Headley was still married to his Pakistani and New York wives, according to court documents. Mir wed the daughter of a former Pakistani navy chaplain. Headley’s new wife was a Moroccan medical student in Lahore.

Headley’s bride, Faiza Outalha, was a devout Muslim who covered her head with the traditional hijab. But she was also strong-willed. Soon after the wedding, she demanded that Headley take her with him on what she thought were his business trips to Mumbai. Headley did not want to blow his cover as a non-Muslim American, so he kept her at a distance from acquaintances and hotel staff and tried to avoid registering her at the Taj, according to his confession.

“It was very difficult to conceal her Muslim identity as she was wearing a hijab,” Headley told Indian interrogators. “Two persons had seen me with Faiza when I was with her in the lobby of the hotel….I managed to convince both of them by telling them that she was a client of mine.”

In September, Mir showed Headley a Styrofoam model of the Taj that was constructed using his photos, videos and reports. They talked about attacking a conference of software engineers at the hotel. The plan resembled previous Lashkar strikes in India: a bold but limited shooting attack on a single target by gunmen who escaped afterward.

But soon Mir began working on a more ambitious project involving multiple targets, including Western ones. The shift resulted from conflict in the ranks of Lashkar and the ISI, according to investigators and Headley’s account. Disillusioned militants who wanted a bigger role in fighting in Afghanistan and in the global jihad were defecting to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, because Lashkar and the ISI were keeping the main focus on Kashmir.

Lashkar’s leadership responded to this dangerous internal rift by deciding to carry out a spectacular al-Qaeda-style strike on Western targets in Mumbai. The ISI approved the shift in tactics, Headley explained.

“The ISI I believe had no ambiguity of understanding the necessity to strike India [and] …shifting and minimizing the theater of violence from the domestic soil of Pakistan,” he said.

The analysis rings true, according to officials and experts.

“Lashkar’s senior leaders are sometimes pulled between adherence to the ISI and their dedication to pan-Islamist jihad,” Tankel said. “Meanwhile, the ISI is trying to pressure the group enough to keep it in line and not so much that it fragments. That becomes more difficult as LeT integrates further with other outfits and a segment of its members agitate for breaking free of ISI control.”

Warning Signs

Headley’s tangled personal life soon caused trouble again. His quarrels with his new wife spurred her, like the wife in New York two years earlier, to report him to U.S. authorities.

During walk-in visits to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad in December 2007 and January 2008, Outalha told federal agents that she believed her husband was a terrorist. She mentioned militant training and suicide bombings and described his travels to Mumbai, including her stay at the Taj hotel, U.S. law enforcement officials say.

But U.S. agents at the embassy decided the woman’s account lacked specifics. Headley continued to roam free.

In early 2008, the FBI and CIA began hearing chatter about Mumbai as a Lashkar target. The intelligence may have come from communications intercepts or sources in Pakistan. But privately, some U.S and Indian anti-terrorism officials suspect that U.S. agencies were tracking Headley’s movements and communications and picking up bits and pieces about the plot-without realizing he was deeply involved.

U.S. intelligence officials alerted their Indian counterparts in early 2008 that they had general information about a Lashkar plot against Mumbai. Officials insist that they didn’t warn the Indians specifically about Headley because they didn’t know about his involvement. Although U.S. officials say Headley was no longer working as a DEA informant by early 2008, it isn’t clear when that relationship ended or whether it evolved into wider intelligence-gathering. The CIA and the FBI say Headley never worked for them.

Meanwhile, Pakistani security forces stepped up their support of the plot. In March 2008, Mir brought Headley to an important planning session in Muzaffarabad hosted by Lakhvi, Lashkar’s military chief. They were joined by Abu Qahafa, a training specialist, and Muzzammil Bhatt, one Lashkar’s most feared bosses. The guest of honor was a frogman in the Pakistani navy.

The crew-cut, clean-shaven frogman, identified as Abdur-Rehman, was in his mid-thirties. He spread a maritime chart on the table. For two days the plotters discussed options for sending an attack team to Mumbai by sea and using a hijacked Indian boat for the clandestine journey.

“They had discussed various landing options along the coast of Mumbai,” Headley recalled. “The frogman told them that the sea became rough after the month of June. … [He] told me to check the position of the naval vessels on the Indian side so as to avoid a gunfight.”

Soon afterward, Headley met with Major Iqbal in Lahore. The ISI officer already knew about the maritime strategy, Headley said. In that meeting and other conversations, he said, Major Iqbal offered tactical advice: escape routes for the gunmen, setting up a safe house, the hijacking at sea.

In April 2008, Headley’s Moroccan wife returned to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad with another, more specific tip. She warned that her husband was on “a special mission.” She also linked him to a 2007 train bombing in India that had killed 68 people and that India and the United States blamed on Lashkar at the time, U.S. officials say. Authorities haven’t implicated Headley in that still-unsolved attack, however. It is not known how the U.S. Embassy personnel responded to the wife’s allegations, but officials say the tip didn’t reach the FBI until after the Mumbai attacks.

Headley returned to Mumbai in April. He went on a series of boat tours, using a GPS device that Mir had given him to assess landing sites for the amphibious attack, U.S. court documents say.

In May, U.S. agencies alerted India that new intelligence suggested Lashkar was planning to attack the Taj and other sites frequented by foreigners and Americans, according to U.S. and Indian anti-terrorism officials. A map identifying the U.S. consulate and other targets in Mumbai was found when Indian authorities arrested an accused Lashkar scout.

Despite the pressure of planning his biggest project ever, Mir took time during this period for a rather odd personal enterprise. He underwent plastic surgery on his face, apparently for esthetic reasons rather than to disguise his appearance. Mir’s fellow militant chiefs made fun of him afterward, according to the report.

“In my assessment, his face has not changed much,” Headley told interrogators. “Zaki ridiculed Sajid by telling him that plastic surgery had widened [his] eyes.”

The Stronghold Option

Mir and the other Pakistani masterminds decided on a classic Lashkar “fedayeen raid” in which fighters inflict maximum chaos and casualties.

“Fedayeen” is an Arabic word for guerrilla fighters and means “one who sacrifices himself,” but the concept is not the same as a suicide attack. Mir and Major Iqbal still envisioned a scenario in which the attackers would escape in the confusion, according to investigators and documents.

Over the summer, Mir oversaw the work of Abu Qahafa, the veteran Lashkar trainer, who prepared 32 recruits during months of drills in mountain camps and at the group’s headquarters outside Lahore, according to investigators and court documents.

Fifteen candidates were sent to Karachi for swimming and nautical instruction. But the youthful country boys had little experience with water. Some got seasick. Some ran away from swim training. Trainers had to bring in eight replacements, Indian and U.S. anti-terrorism officials say.

In June, Mir discussed targets with Headley. For the first time, Mir said he wanted to attack the Chabad House, thereby singling out Jews, Israel and-because the rabbi was American-the United States.

“I was very impressed to know that Chabad House had been put as a target,” Headley told interrogators. “Sajid, as I understand is a ‘Saudi Salafi.’ They consider the Jewish people as the number one target.”

Headley then met with Major Iqbal, who “was very happy to know that Chabad House had been chosen,” according to the interrogation report.

Headley’s final reconnaissance trip lasted the month of July. When he returned, the planning gathered steam. The leaders of Lashkar held a special meeting to discuss the plot. Mir had Headley wait nearby, coming out of the meeting to consult with him about details.

The chiefs decided the attack would be too complex for the fighters to escape. Instead, they would barricade themselves and fight to the death. The planners called this “the stronghold option.”

In September, the anti-terrorism chief of the Mumbai police visited the Taj Hotel to discuss new warnings from U.S. intelligence about a Lashkar plot. Hotel management beefed up security, Indian officials say.

At about the same time, Headley’s Moroccan wife complained about her husband to “senior police officials” in Lahore. Headley said Pakistani police jailed him for eight days, but his account doesn’t specify the charges. His Pakistani father-in-law put up bail and the ISI intervened as well, the interrogation report says.

“Major Iqbal also helped me [in] this case,” Headley said.

A Pakistani official denied the story. He blamed U.S. officials for failing to tell Pakistan about the intelligence the United States had shared with India in 2008.

“Perhaps with Pakistan alerted, the plots could have been avoided,” the Pakistani official said.

In November, Headley went to Karachi to meet with Mir, who updated him on the status of the operation. Headley had no contact with the attack team, though Mir showed him photos of the youthful gunmen, according to documents and officials.

The attack squad set sail for Mumbai in the fishing trawler. On the evening of Nov. 26, they reached a point about five miles offshore and transferred to an 11-seat dinghy. They landed in Cuffe Parade, a slum scouted by Headley where lights, phones and police were scarce.

At the Karachi command post, Mir took a moment to send a telephone text message to Headley at home in Lahore. The message told Headley to turn on his TV.

As the bloodshed intensified, Indian intelligence officers frantically checked known phone numbers associated with Lashkar. They were able to intercept and record nearly 300 calls. Mir’s voice dominated the conversations, according to officials and documents. Thanks to Headley, he knew the targets inside-out.

Although the recorded conversations between handlers and gunmen were broadcast worldwide, Mir did not appear concerned that the notoriety would expose him to arrest. During a visit to Headley’s home, he looked tired but was boastful and talkative.

“Sajid made me hear the audios of the Mumbai attack,” Headley recalled. “Sajid played…the Mumbai video where along with others Sajid was instructing the attackers from the Karachi control room. I heard Sajid’s voice and he was instructing the attacker in the Chabad House to kill the women.”

Mir and Headley were already at work on their next target: a Danish newspaper that in 2005 had published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The planning had begun before Mumbai, at a crucial meeting in November 2008. After maintaining a careful distance from each other for almost two years, Headley’s handlers from the ISI and Lashkar, Mir and Major Iqbal, paid him a joint visit in Lahore, the report says.

“This is the first time Major Iqbal and Sajid came together to my home,” the American said. “We discussed about the Denmark project.”

Mir directed and funded Headley’s subsequent reconnaissance on the newspaper’s offices in Denmark, according to the report and U.S. court papers. Major Iqbal’s previously undisclosed involvement in the high-stakes meeting to launch an attack in the heart of Europe is a “pretty seismic” revelation, said Sajjan Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London-based security consulting firm.

“They take it to the next phase,” Gohel said. “Either the hierarchy was aware or there was no accountability.”

Experts say Iqbal’s visit alongside Mir sent a message of trust to Headley. But the extent to which the major approved of the Danish plot, and the degree to which he was acting on his own, remain unclear.

“I think this was a particularly sensitive discussion, and somebody above Iqbal’s pay-grade told him to sit in and be present for the conversation between Headley and Mir,” said Faddis, the CIA counter-terror veteran.

Indian anti-terror officials think the ISI gave the operation its blessing, even if it did not participate directly. There is no record that Pakistani intelligence ever warned Denmark about Headley or the plot.

Mir gave Headley a thumb drive with information about Denmark and the Jyllands Posten newspaper, according to U.S. court documents and officials. They christened the new plot “The Mickey Mouse Project.”

In December, Headley suggested killing only the cartoonist and an editor. Mir disagreed. Despite the uproar over Mumbai, he seemed eager to take an audacious terrorism campaign into Europe, according to documents and investigators.

“All Danes are responsible,” Mir declared, according to U.S. officials and documents.

Across the ocean, the FBI was pursuing yet another tip about Headley. A friend of Headley’s mother in Philadelphia had come forward after seeing news about the Mumbai attacks. She told agents that she believed Headley had been fighting alongside Pakistani militants for years. Agents conducted an inquiry in December but then put it on hold because they thought Headley was out of the country, U.S. officials said.

Weeks later, Headley traveled from Chicago to Denmark. Using his business cover again, he visited the newspaper’s offices in Copenhagen and Aarhus and inquired about advertising his immigration firm. He shot video of the area and – because Mir mistakenly believed the editor was Jewish – of a nearby synagogue. He took careful notes, just as he had done when scouting in Mumbai, according to U.S. court documents.

But a few weeks later, Mir put the Denmark operation on hold. Pakistani authorities had finally arrested a big fish: Lakhvi, Lashkar’s military chief. The ISI also arrested Abu Al Qama, a Lashkar boss who had allegedly worked the phones with Mir at the command post for the Mumbai attacks, along with some low-level henchmen.

The ISI Reacts

The way the ISI handled the arrests deepens the mystery and ambiguity surrounding its role in the Mumbai case.

The agency held Lakhvi in a safe house for some time before putting him in jail, according to investigators. And Headley said Gen. Ahmed Suja Pasha, the ISI’s director general, met with Lakhvi after he was jailed.

“Pasha had visited him to understand the Mumbai attack conspiracy,” the report quotes Headley as saying, without further elaboration.

Pakistani officials deny that Pasha, one of the most powerful men in Pakistan, made the jailhouse visit. U.S. and Indian officials and experts are more willing to believe the story. Headley’s language suggests that Pasha, who had become director only two months before Mumbai, was surprised by the attack or at least by its dimensions. This reinforces the U.S. view that top ISI brass weren’t involved in the plot.

Meanwhile, Major Iqbal cut off contact with Headley and told him to get rid of compromising evidence, according to U.S. court documents and investigators. The ISI handler said, “the Mumbai investigation was getting bigger and hotter,” and a suspect had revealed “ISI cooperation” in the plot, the Indian interrogation report says.

But Headley did not sever all his links to the ISI. He remained in touch with Ali, the ISI major who had first recruited him, until June 2009, even during trips back to the United States, he said.

As for Mir, he stayed cool. Despite the evidence implicating him in the attacks, he visited Lakhvi, his Lashkar boss, in jail, according to the Indian interrogation report. If true, this reinforces suspicions that Mir was either an ISI officer or had powerful protectors, investigators say.

Headley’s Final Months

Despite Lashkar’s decision to hold off, Headley remained fixated on the plot against the Danish newspaper. In the spring of 2009, he gravitated increasingly toward al-Qaeda, according to U.S. and Indian court documents.

Lashkar veterans who had defected to al-Qaeda connected him with al-Qaeda’s chief of operations, Ilyas Kashmiri. At a sit-down in May, the veteran Pakistani militant offered to provide Headley with operatives in Europe for the attack. Kashmiri envisioned them decapitating hostages and throwing heads out of the newspaper office windows, U.S. court documents say.

In August Headley returned to Denmark for more reconnaissance. He also went to Britain and Sweden to discuss the newspaper plot with Kashmiri’s operatives, according to U.S. and Indian documents.

Despite occasional tensions, Headley stayed in touch with Mir. They discussed new reconnaissance in India as well as personal matters. The American asked about Mir’s baby son, referring to the boy in e-mails as “polar cub.” Headley also urged Mir to return to the Denmark plot, according to U.S. documents and officials.

In an e-mail, Headley described his trip to Copenhagen. He jokingly complimented Mir about his “music videos” – code for a TV program about Mumbai that had featured Mir’s voice directing the attacks.

With affectionate exasperation, Mir warned his operative to be careful, according to documents and officials.

“Your skin is dear to me, more than my own,” Mir wrote.

In September 2009, documents show that Headley again discussed joining forces with Mir for the Denmark attack, a sign that Mir was still operating freely. But Headley’s luck was running out. His contact with two known al-Qaeda suspects in the English town of Derby had put him on the radar of British intelligence, who alerted their U.S. counterparts. In October, the FBI arrested Headley in Chicago, where he had moved his Pakistani wife and children.

The FBI had been investigating Mumbai since a team rushed there right after the attacks. FBI leads- phone analysis, forensics, money trails – had been instrumental in the Indian and Pakistani investigations.

Now Headley gave U.S. agents a treasure trove of evidence and intelligence. He quickly confessed and spent days describing his exploits, according to U.S. officials.

In March he pleaded guilty to helping organize the Mumbai attacks and the Denmark plot. As part of the plea deal to avoid the death penalty, he agreed to cooperate. Officials say his confession and the contents of his computer showed he had scouted scores of targets, including American ones, around the world. They say he did not do reconnaissance in the United States, but they noted a chilling detail: His immigration consulting firm had offices in the Empire State Building.

Headley helped investigators overcome a basic problem. American agencies lacked data on Lashkar: photo books, organizational charts, profiles.

It seems clear, however, that the government did underestimate Headley. A recent review by the director of national intelligence found that U.S. agencies had received six warnings about Headley from his wives and associates from October 2001 to December 2008. Yet federal agents didn’t place him on a terrorist watch list or open a full investigation until July 2009, eight months after the Mumbai attacks.

Between June 3 and June 9, investigators with India’s National Investigation Agency questioned Headley for 34 hours in Chicago in the presence of U.S. prosecutors, FBI agents and his lawyers. Headley’s account, contained in the interrogation report obtained by ProPublica, opened a rare door into a secretive underworld of spies and militants.

A Pakistani official said the Indian version was “totally distorted and fabricated.”

“There was no involvement of the ISI whatsoever,” the official said. “Nor did any serving official interact with Headley or any of the perpetrators.”

But U.S. investigators say much of Headley’s account is credible and essentially repeats his account in the federal case in Chicago. The investigators believe Major Iqbal was a serving member of the ISI and that several other officers also had contact with Headley.

FBI agents and their Indian counterparts have spent more than a year checking Headley’s story against other evidence: witness testimony, phone and e-mail intercepts, travel and credit card records.

“Most of the Headley statement is consistent with what we know about the ISI and its operations,” the Indian counter-terrorism official said. “And it’s consistent with what he told the FBI and what they told us.”

Physical evidence backs up Headley’s confession. The FBI identified a phone number that investigators believe connects the American, Mir and ISI officers. Headley called Pakistani officers at that number. It was also called by an accused ISI spy who went on the secret mission with Mir in India in 2005, investigators say. (via Pakistan and the Mumbai Attacks: The Untold Story – ProPublica).

Folk Worship in India – Shani Mahatmya

Posted in History, India, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on October 29, 2011

Indian folk tales related to worship and sacred rites reveal sexual freedom in pre-colonial era.

Shani-deva - Image source - anand-gupte.tripod.com. Click for image.

Shani-deva - Image source - anand-gupte.tripod.com. Click for image.

A folk layer

The extract below is from Shanimahatmya – a folk tale that is recommended for narration, by brahmans and astrologers across India. This story displays sexual attitudes in India by women and society.

In this post, we start a little before halfway in the story, when

Vikramaditya reaches Tamlinda

As King Vikramaditya entered the city of Tamlinda, he met a very rich merchant name(d) Shripati who owned a local shop.  Seeing the King, the merchant thought of him as a very fine gentleman and invited the King to his house with a scheme in mind.

Shripati, the merchant, asked the king to refresh himself by taking shower etc. And then, he made some formal inquiries. The king replied that he was a Kshatriya and came from a foreign land and was in transit. The merchant ordered six flavored meal (six course meal) for Vikramaditya and invited Vikramaditya to stay for the night and leave in the morning.

After the dinner the merchant asked for more details about the king very frankly as he had some other intentions about the king.

Prospective ‘groom’ for the daughter

It so happened that the merchant had a daughter of a marriageable age called Alolika. Alolika could not find a suitable match for herself, nor could the merchant find one for her.

So the merchant had an idea that this Kshatriya would be a good match for Alolika so he went to find her to tell her the good news. When he found Alolika he excitedly told her ‘I found a very good match for you. Please marry him without any hesitation.’

But Alolika said, ‘Let me talk to him and then I can judge from the way he talks whether this kshatriya is good match for me. You might have seen many good qualities in him, but still, let me judge him.’ So she asked her father to send the kshatriya to the guest room, which was a studio for a painter.

The ‘guest’ room

Shripati went back to Vikramaditya and told him that the studio was available if Vikramaditya wanted to sleep. Vikramaditya went to the guest room, (and) he saw that there were many good paintings of the birds such as swans, peacocks and of animals such as horses and elephants. The paintings were so realistic that one could feel that the birds and the animals were alive.

He sat on the bed, which was decorated with jewels and beautiful colours and flowers. He also noticed that there ware many lamps in every corner. On seeing this he was astonished and kept on marveling about the customs of that place. Then he thought about what to do and decided to face the next moments as they come.

Daughter decides to ‘check’ out the man

Unfortunately his mind was still at unease so he covered his head to try and get to sleep.
After a short while Alolika entered in the studio where the king was sleeping. She brought with her all the paraphernalia as per the custom of the time such as five oil lamps in a plate with flowers etc. to greet the king. She did beautiful make up and wore pearl necklaces and used very aromatic perfumes. She also wore anklets, which were making a very pleasant sound. She had diamond ornaments on her hands, which were shining very brightly. She was looking like a beautiful statue and stood in front of the Vikramaditya who was pretending to be asleep.

As Vikramaditya did not awaken, Alokika thought for a while and sprinkled some water from a sandal wood jug onto Vikramaditya. Still Vikramaditya did not wake..

Thus, about two hours passed so Alolika got tired and took off her pearl necklace and hung it on a peg (hook) on a nearby wall. Eventually she fell asleep worried and disappointed.

Vikramaditya loses his ‘manliness’

Then Vikramaditya uncovered his head and started to think. Who is this girl? and why is she sleeping next to me? Keen to not commit any (mistakes) Vikramaditya decided it would be best to control his desires and treat this girl like a daughter and talk to her in that (manner). Then he looked around and again saw the paintings.

Suddenly, as if (by) miracle, the swan from one of the paintings came to life approached Alolika’s pearl necklace and grabbed it with its mouth. The King was astonished to see this and thought that it would be wrong to snatch the pearl necklace from the swan’s mouth as it would hurt the swan and it would be against his principle of not hurting any living being. So (he) watched as the swan swallowed the entire necklace.Confused about what he witnessed Vikramaditya fell asleep.

Impotent thief

The next morning Alolika woke up and thought to herself ‘This person is the greatest fool of all. For the whole night I was sleeping near him he never awoke, clearly this kshtriya (is impotent)’. She was very angry and insulted that Vikramaditya was not attracted to her so she started to leave the room and looked for her necklace on the peg.

To her amazement the necklace was missing so she woke up Vikramaditya and accused him of stealing the necklace.She ordered him to return the necklace and get out the way he came. She also threatened to tell all the villages about what had happened and told Vikramaditya that he would face public humiliation and shame for his theft.

So the King said that he did not take the necklace, and just because he slept there he was being accused.

A Woman Scorned

So, Alolika became very angry and immediately told her father that the perfect match, he brought home was a mere professional thief who stole her necklace. Then she told her father to get the necklace from the guest and send him on his way (164)

Then, Shripati said to Vikramaditya , ‘I gave you a (nice) place to rest, gave you nice dinner and on top of that I was about to offer you to marry my daughter. But, in spite of this you stole her necklace. How foolishly you behaved! And that’s the way you are returning my favors! So, return the necklace immediately and go away back to where you came from. (via Shani Mahatmya.).

Shani-deva - Image source - anand-gupte.tripod.com. Click for image.

Shani-deva - Image source - anand-gupte.tripod.com. Click for image.

The story continues

Further in this cycle of misfortune (sade-saati), Vikramaditya, after a criminal conviction, becomes limbless. Inspite of Vikramaditya physical condition, Princess Padmasena, of Tamlinda, becomes infatuated with Vikramaditya’s rendition of various ragaas.

The common Marathi version mentions that Padmasena, without her father’s consent, decides to initiate a भर्तृ-like (similar to husband) relationship with the crippled Vikramaditya – without getting married. Padmasena and Vikramaditya spend many evening celebrating in ‘Diwali’ like manner.

What is so interesting

Finding a groom was Alolika’s choice and responsibility. Both Alolika and Padmasena initiate a physical relationship with Vikramaditya – with or without their father’s knowledge. They are secure that they have the right and freedom to do so.

This initiation is also done openly – and no furtive actions are even hinted at. Further, Alolika threatens Vikramaditya with public disclosure of their night together, if he does not return the allegedly stolen pearl necklace.

Egalitarianism is a constant in the story. Vikramaditya reconciling himself to the life of a commoner  and a rich and eager Shripati willing to entrust his daughter to a kshatriya stranger, are two instances from the story.

Nala Damayanti is the other story which is associated with cyclical misfortunes - called saade-saati in Indian languages.  Image source and courtesy - greatertelugu.com. Click for source image.

Nala Damayanti is the other story which is associated with cyclical misfortunes - called saade-saati in Indian languages. Image source and courtesy - greatertelugu.com. Click for source image.

Online critical examination of this literature is absent – and original texts are not available online. The Gita Press has published a different series of Bhagwad Geetha mahatmya stories – which displays a liberal attitude towards courtesans and prostitutes.

Notes on extract. The translation by Anand Gupte while the most detailed; has been considerably ‘cleaned’ by the translator, to dilute the feminine sexual status; keeping in mind current ‘sensitivities’. Some parts have been excised from the translation for the sake of brevity and relevance.

Commonly this story is recommended for narration to short-circuit or dilute the effects for those who are going through sade-saati, cyclical misfortunes – a common Indian belief. This story is available in print at a nominal cost of Rs.10-20 – at relevant stores or practitioners. A 2ndlook Irregular drew my attention to this literature about 6 months ago.

Like the Santoshi-maa tradition, narration of this story is widely recommended across India – though this translation is from the text that is common in Gujarat, Maharashtra Goa, as per my knowledge. The Northern India tradition for this Shani-dev story is awaited. These Shani and Bhagwad Geeta mahatmya stories are not from vedas, puranas, upanishads, or any vedic sankrit text.

Meshing and gnashing – The Clash of civilizations

Posted in Current Affairs, European History, History, India, Islamic Demonization, Media, politics, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on February 16, 2011
Huntington's book gave pseudo-intellectual justification started the Western campaign of Islamic demonization. (Image source - http://www.bayesianinvestor.com/books; artist attribution not available at image source)

Huntington

Mercenary logic

Samuel P . Huntington’s 1993 book, Clash of Civilizations, has a historical ring to it – a hint of something grand. An influential book, it ostensibly examined ‘conflicts between Western and non-Western cultures’ – and brought the phrase, Clash of Civilizations into limelight.

In the post-Soviet World, the book marked the launch of a new Western campaign – Islamic demonization. This book, released some four years after Rushdie-fatwa, provided pseudo-intellectual justification for West’s anti-Islamic campaign.

The America+NATO sponsored ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaign in Bosnia was underway, since 1992. Saturation media coverage of Monica Lewinsky and cigars effectively drowned President Clinton’s role in the initiation of the anti-Islamic campaign – and the news coming out of the Balkans. Deliberate diversionary tactics?

India’s co-option too, into this campaign was planned in significant detail – and successfully executed. 9/11 (September 11, 2001) was still 8 years in the future. The verbal trickery behind Huntington’s Clash of civilizations ‘package-deal’ has gone by without challenge or de-construction in India. This post will cover some Trojan concepts Huntington  smuggled into the mainstream.

A Basic Stance

For one, the definition of civilizations has to be beyond race, ruins and region. Instead, a definition  around differentiated structures – political, social, economic and ethical structures makes comparative analysis possible.

Civilizations tend to repeat political, social, economic and ethical structures. In the last five thousand years, only three civilizational models can be identified and substantially differentiated.

Desert Bloc

The world’s dominant model today, it has been able to nearly erase competing systems from the collective minds of the ruling elites in the world.

Signs of the Desert Bloc’s birth were first evidenced in the Assyrian Empire – its first laws codified by Hammurabi. Dating is contested, and best estimates are that the Assyrian Empire collapsed around c.600 BC. Seven of history’s largest empires used the Assyrian Empire, as a springboard.

The Desert Bloc extends from west of India, across Middle East, West Asia, extending to Central Asia and Eastern Europe – with its core in a region of 1000 miles radius of Palestine. Inventors of religion, world’s three important religions, (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) were born within 1000 miles radius of Palestine, in the deserts of Middle East. Each of these religions were, so to say, ‘backward compatible’. Islam recognizes Christianity, which uses Judeo-Mosaic texts for its foundations.

Anti-feminist, none of the three religions have female goddesses – unlike the two other civilizations specified below. Western Christian world gave women the right to vote, mostly between 1920-1950. Low levels of marital success are institutionalized – and instead prostitution levels are high.

The Desert Bloc depends on extreme competitiveness between its own factions to gain leadership – extending the analogy of survival of the fittest. Some of its defining struggles in the last 1000 years were Islam vs Christianity; Spain vs Portugal; England vs France; USA vs USSR.

Such factions spring up around deified leaders based on a sharp identity – race, tribe, language, region, religion. Significant leadership struggles have broken out between even intra-religious sects – like Catholics and Protestants, Shias vs Sunnis.

A significant marker of the Desert Bloc is concentration of wealth, power and land in the hands of these deified leaders and their inner circle. Unlike the two other civilizational groups, as we will see. This allows Desert Bloc factions to indulge in extremism. Over 90% of the world’s bloodiest wars, genocides, massacres, annihilations, are to the Desert Bloc account.

The Desert Bloc is differentiated by extensive use of slavery, rule by elites, conspicuous consumption (show piece buildings, spectacular technology) et al.

Driven by ‘at-any-cost’ approach, in the Desert Bloc, everything and everyone is expendable to attain leadership position. Driven more by accelerated creation and destruction, Desert Bloc sub-groups have short life spans (Achaemenid Iran, Greece, Rome, Mongol Empire). Greece, Rome, the Ummayyads, Abbasids, Mongolian Empire, Colonial Spain and Britain best represent the Desert Bloc.

Can different factions of the Desert Bloc, like the Christian West and Islam collaborate? The Islāmic Ottoman Empire and the Christian European powers could not get around to colluding with each other. Even the collusion between the Christian European colonizers was  difficult.  Unless it was over carving the spoils, dividing areas for exploitation – like Papal Bulls (between Spain and Portugal) or the Berlin Conference which triggered the ‘scramble for Africa.’

The  Afro Group

Apart from the Indic System, the only other civilization, the Afro Group could resist the Desert Bloc onslaught in the last 1000 years. The Afro Group successfully kept its identity, at a great cost, unlike Native Americans or Australian aborigines.

An iconic photograph of the Soweto uprising. (Image courtesy - le-regent.net; photographer attribution absent at source).

An iconic photograph of the Soweto uprising. (Image courtesy - le-regent.net; photographer attribution absent at source).

They successfully engaged with the Desert Bloc in Haiti, at Battle of Isandlwana (22 January 1879), by the Mau Mau in Kenya.

Monica Schulyer, an assistant professor of history at Wanye State University, (thinks) the name Mau Mau was itself a British invention and means nothing in Kenyan. Members of the independence movement called them selves the Land and Freedom Army.

In modern South Africa, on July 16, 1976, the ‘day began with a march by 10,000 students carrying banners and slogans, saying “Down with Afrikaans” and “Viva Azania” (the name given to South Africa by black nationalists)’. Soon the number swelled to ‘fifteen thousand school children involved in the protests (Tuttle 1)’, rose against imposition of Afrikaans language by White Apartheid rule. Known to the world as Soweto Uprisings, it is without parallel in the annals of history. In the very heart of the modern Desert Bloc – the USA, after centuries of slavery and discrimination, the Afro Group was able to roll back excesses.

Their robust ‘native’ intelligence best describes how Desert Bloc works. In Jomo Kenyatta words,

“When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

Another unit from the Afro Group, Cuba, far from its base in Africa, after breaking from slavery,  successfully resisted coming under political bondage of the Desert Bloc, for the last 100 years. In the ancient world, Carthage checked the spread of Desert Bloc, represented by Greece. Carthage allied with Rome to destroy Greece.

Before that, Nubians brought the Egyptian Empire to heel. The 25th dynasty from Nubia or Kush, south of Egypt (modern Sudan), ruled over Egypt for at least 75 years. Piye, earlier”Piankhy”the Nubian king invaded Egypt (ca. 746 BC) – and started the 25th Dynasty, that probably continued till 650 BC. He was succeeded by Shabaqo (ca. 716-702 BC) and his successors Shebitqo (ca. 702-690 BC) and Taharqa (690-664 BC).

Traditional African structures had diffused land and wealth ownership – unlike the Desert Bloc. There is little proof of concentration of wealth in African structures.

Both, the Afro Group and the Indic System have a much superior record of minimal environmental degradation. The Big 5 in animals – elephant, tiger /leopard, lion, wild bull, rhino exist only in the these two core geographies. Big Game hunters in Africa (from the Desert Bloc, where else) described 5 animals as the Big 5 – elephants, lion, buffalo, leopard and the rhino as the Big Five. These were animals that were difficult to hunt and kill (for pleasure, if you thought otherwise).

This ‘pleasure’ was the operating principle. As a result of this ‘pleasure’, there are only two parts of the world where such Big Five exist. India and Africa. China, the Middle East and of course Europe and America, have wiped entire continents of all these animals.

Modern history, under a Hegelian spell has ignored Afro Group history. Bereft of spectacular structures, visible ‘leaders’ or the recent decline in fortunes, the study of African history has been decided as unimportant.

Indic systems

Based on भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra platform. Indic systems focus on four freedoms – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh(liberty)and धर्मं dharma (justice), and stipulates unrestricted access to ज़र zar (gold), जन jan (people) and ज़मीन jameen (land).

Originating in India, based on platform of anti-slavery, distribution of power and diversity, this was the dominant ideology in the world till about 8th century. In Tibet, Songtsen Gampa, the 33rd king, became the first dharma-raja in 7th century – a follower of भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra . The Indic system has been in sharp retreat for the last 500 years – especially after Mughal rule in India. Inspite of sharp reversals in the last 500 years, half the world is still significantly influenced by Indic systems.

Militarily impregnable till about 17th century, Mughal rule established the first beachhead for the Desert Bloc in India.

Strong population growth based on widespread marital occurrence, strong and extensive family structures, are features that have sustained Indic systems in the society, even though some rulers defected to the Desert Bloc.

Indians worship every item of God's creation - not just cows. (Image source - Sri U.Ve. Prasanna Venkatachariar Chaturvedi Swamin)

Indians worship every item of God's creation - not just cows. (Image source - Sri U.Ve. Prasanna Venkatachariar Chaturvedi Swamin)

With diverse liturgical, beatification, sacramental practices, graded pantheism (local deities, semi-divine gods and goddesses with a top layer of the Holy Trinity), faith and belief do not occupy the space or importance that religion has in the Desert Bloc. These are within the realm of individual choice with scattered efforts at proselytization

The Indic system still has significant following in China and most of ASEAN region – notably Indonesia, Tibet, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka. The modern proof of this was the India Independence League (IIL) headed by Subhash Chandra Bose.

In recent times

Each of these megaliths have traditional spheres of influence.

Post-WWII world has been been seriously influenced by the Desert Bloc. The Desert Bloc split into two factions. The liberal-progressive, democratic, Judeo-Christian faction led by America. Significant parts of the world has moved to the Desert Bloc orbit, and adopted the religion of Westernization.

An interesting study is the post-WWII behaviour of the Euro-American faction. After WWII, as British, French and Dutch colonialists were being thrown out of Asia, in country after country, the West was in real danger of losing markets and raw material sources.

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image source - loonpond.com; artist attribution not available at image source)

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image source - loonpond.com; artist attribution not available at image source)

A new power, fueled by a growing migrant population, USA, took the place of tired, old powers – Britain, France and the Dutch. Instead of the openly-exploitative system of European powers directly running colonial governments in these Asian countries, the US installed an opaque system – which is equally exploitative. To impose its writ on the newly independent Asian countries, the US simply destroyed their  economies by war. The USA, then instituted the innovative USCAP Program and ‘helped’ these countries. These countries (Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, et al) were now ruled by overtly independent regimes – but covertly, client states of the USA.

US multinationals and home-grown oligarchs (keiretsus, chaebols, etc.) took over the economy – and sidelined British, French and Dutch companies. To impose this economic model, US armies, using nearly 1 million troops, killed 50 lakh Asians. The takeover of European colonial possessions by the USA was handled over 3 regimes of Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson seamlessly.

Islamic units

The second faction is the Islamic faction. After the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, by the West, after WWI, new renegade groups supported by the West, sprang up. These renegade groups are using extremist  Islam to meld the Islamic faction into a more powerful factor in the global power equation.

Some of these Islamic regimes installed and supported by Western powers have been slowly drifting away from the West – like Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iran, etc. Some other regimes are longer able to call the shots – like the Saud family, or the Iraqi regime.

The other aspect of the Islamic faction is the geographical spread. The primary Islamic region is the Arab region, centred around Middle East /West Asia region. The secondary Islamic region is the Central Asia – earlier a part of the Mongol Empire. Walled in by China and Japan on the East, by Russia on the West and diverse countries in the South, it is a shadow of its former self.

The region with the largest Islamic population is South and South East Asia – concentrated across India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia. The South and South East Asia Islamic region has a moderate and non-imperial history.

Hence these three regions (Middle-East region, Central Asian region and South /SE Asian) have evolved differently and have little in common. Hence, the image of the Islamic ‘world’ as a monolithic unit is misleading.

Big trouble in Little China

The other puzzle is classifying China. China under Confucian State model was solidly in the Desert Bloc. After the advent of Buddhism, as the Chinese people became landholders, as they obtained rights to own silver and gold, they moved to Indic system. Marriage and family systems became the norm – instead of exception.

After and under Mongols, for instance the Kublai Khan restricted silver and gold rights – and issued fiat currency. The Chinese State has mostly been Desert Bloc in its tendency. But the Chinese people have great faith in their Buddhist teachers. Will China become a staunch Desert Bloc member like Iran in the past, is still possibly an open question.

Even stevens!

The Assyrian thread

With Niniveh, (also called Asshur) as its capital, the Assyrian Empire, ended in 600 BC. The Assyrian Empire passed through many hands – recreating and renewing itself in the same mould. The name, Assyrian Empire was a Roman modification of Asuristan – the area of current Iraq.

The  Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BC) were the first successor power to preside over the Assyrian Empire, from their capital in Perspolis. Many wealthy Jews were envied for their vast slave holdings. Alexander ousted the Achaemenids to rule over the Assyrian Empire – effectively after the Battle at Gaugemela (331 BC). Daidochi Wars after Alexander’s death and attacks by Rome-Carthage alliance  led to the disintegration of Macedonian rule. Romans, added Western Europe, and ruled over the Assyrian Empire for the next 350 years (60 BC-285 AD), with its capital in Rome.

Rome formally lost the Assyrian Empire when Diocletian was forced to split Roman Empire in 285 AD. Eastern Roman Empire, well-known for its premier city, Byzantium (a cognate of Indian Vyjayanti) mostly had its capital in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) continued to gain power and wealth over the next 400 years.

Various Islamic dynasties (c.700-1300) ruled over large parts of the Assyrian Empire, with capitals mostly in Damascus, Baghdad, till they were deposed by Genghis Khan’s Mongols. After adding China, Mongol factions ruled over the Assyrian Empire for varying periods, between 1300-1600 AD over different parts of the Assyrian Empire.

It was the Mongols who helped in the rise of the West. First, was the trade in millions of slaves from Eastern Europe (the Slavs, hence slaves) by Venetian and Florentine traders, which funelled vast monies into European economies from Egyptian and Byzantine slave-buyers. This wealth from slave trade was the stuff of which tales are told. Shakespeare wrote of Merchant of Venice, Comedy of Errors, Gentlemen of Verona. Leonardo da Vinci,  architect Bramante, sculptor Donatello, Michelangelo, Titian and other famous artists found patrons with the earlier Visconti, powerful Medicis, notorious Borgias, lesser known Sforza (Milan), Pazzi and the Albizzi families. It was this slave-trade that fuelled Renaissance art and culture. Florence, Venice, Milan became major banking centres. Double-entry book keeping became standard, under which any kind of financial picture can be created. Quite unlike the Indian single-entry system.

Mongols brought to the West two major technologies. One, was the Indian decimal system and Indian saltpetre for gunpowder, was the other. Indian mathematics (initially outlawed by European rulers) is the foundation of Western science and technology. Indian gunpowder was their ticket to military power. Wealth from trade in African slaves, conquest, loot, annihilation of Native Americans, using gunpowder, fuelled a 500 year technology boom in the West.

The last significant dynasties that ruled over the ancient Assyrian Empire were Islamic Ottomans and the Christian Austro-Hungarian Empire. These two empires were dismantled after WW1 (1920) by Western allies.

Slavery rarely finds mention in Indian media. Much less is any discussion or understanding about the role of slavery in the rise of the West. A rare Indian columnist with awareness of the slavery factor. Even this discussion about clash of civilizations does not work.

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.

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