2ndlook

What happened to Alexander’s loot from India …?

Posted in European History, Gold Reserves, History, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on February 17, 2009

King Otto of Greece wearing Albanian fustanella

Alexander’s retreat from India … empty handed?

Alexander’s campaign to drum up alliances with Indian kings on the borders of his Persian empire did not yield much gold or wealth. Unlike the Persian Empire, most of the gold and wealth in India was diffused and spread. In raid after raid, Alexander came back empty handed – or almost. While he was managing the fires in Bactra and Sogdia, he had to release Scythian prisoners without a ransom. But, while stitching an alliance with Omphis (Ambi /Ambhi), instead he had to pay Ambhi about 1000 talents of gold – which provoked much envy in his camp.

The talk of an Indian invasion provoked assassination conspiracies, demand for release by soldiers and much expenditure. Many of his soldiers – Greeks units, Macedonian veterans, Thessalian cavalry had to be released, after handsome gratuities and payments. New soldiers had to be recruited again at a significant cost.

In antiquity

Unlike Alexander’s experience of poor pickings in India, the Greek image of India, in history, was different. There were wild tales about Indian ants, big as foxes and jackals, that mined gold. These were tales related by Pliny, Herodotus, Strabo, Arrian – partly, based on reports from Megasthenes. And the very same Greek sources show that with each victory, at kingdom after kingdom, Alexander gained little in terms of gold. Unlike many other subsequent raiders.

The case of missing Indian gold

So, where was the famed Indian gold?

Two possible theories suggest themselves. Alexander was singularly unsuccessful in his Indian campaign and could not, hence, obtain any gold. While this may please Indian jingoists, we will suspend opinion on this in face of overwhelming Western historical opinion – though the truth may be otherwise.

The second theory is more intricate – and also stronger. Unlike the description of Persian cities, the description of Indian cities in all the accounts, is of very simple and plain cities. Not one Indian city is extolled for its beauty, or its buildings, palaces or temples. What gives?

War elephants

War elephants

Extant Indian society

Three elements of the Indian economic system were unique till the 19th century – property ownership by the commoners, widespread ownership of gold and absence of slavery (defined as capture, trade and forced labour by humans – without compensation).

The Indian social structure in pre-Alexandrian Indian had widespread gold and property ownership. With complete absence of slavery, wages could also rise above subsistence levels. This restricted the wealth of Indian rulers – and thus impressive monuments, buildings and palaces are rare or non-existent in pre-medieval India. Thus Indian cities were plain and simple. Royal treasuries were hence, meagre.

Colonial Indian rule dispossessed many Indians of their property – and concentrated wealth in the hands of the few – the Thakurs and the Zamindars. Indians were dispossessed of their gold in the Squeeze Indian Campaign of 1925-1945 – started by Churchill and Montagu Norman and continued by Neville Chamberlain.

Greek clothing

Greek clothing

Monopoly in currency

Royal official coinage was only one of the options even in colonial India. This reduced the concentration of wealth which we see in evidence in the Persian Empire – where Darius’ treasury yielded (Greek estimates) more than 100,000 talents of gold (some exaggeration?).

Indian armies could only scaled up by voluntary services and funding. Hence, these motivated and volunteer armies could inflict so much losses on Alexander.

So, what did the Greco-Macedonians take away …

There were more interesting things that Alexander’s armies  took away from India. The odd and interesting things that Alexander carted away were cattle, elephants and the Macedonian national dress – and possibly kissing.

Persian clothing

Persian clothing

Cattle from Punjab

At the battle against the Asvanyas (Khamboj), called by the Greeks as Aspasioi /Aspasii /Assakenoi /Aspasio /Hipasii /Assaceni/Assacani, Osii /Asii /Asoi, and Aseni in Greek records, Alexander took some 230,000 Asiatic humped zebu cattle to, says Arrian, improve cattle stock in Macedonia. Indian agriculture was well advanced by that time – and exports of spices, textiles, iron and steel were significant.

Elephants from India

War elephants were rule changers – and Indians were the only significant trainers, users, and owners of war elephants. Alexander’s successor, Seleucos Nicator, considered by Ptolemy as the possible true successor of Alexander, ceded his possessions East of Persia – to Chandraupta Maurya. As a part of the treaty, Chandragupta also gifted Seleucos 500 elephants which proved invaluable in settling the Daidochi Wars – at the Batle of Ipsus.

The Greek fustanella (drawing By Theofilos Chatzimichalis)

The Greek fustanella (drawing By Theofilos Chatzimichalis)

Clothes

While the above two are well known, the other two interesting that Greco-Macedonian armies took back to Europe were more cultural. First was the current Macedonain national dress – the ‘salvaria’. The entire North West Indian sub-continent, from Punjab to Afghanistan wears the salwar – which is tubular leggings.

This is a unisex garment – like the sari /dhoti also is. And popular all over India today. Unlike other parts of the world, where women were forced to conform to a male standards and prescriptions of dressing, Indian women were free and dressed like their men did (Feminists note – Indian men were forced to dress, like their women did, since you insist). Unisex clothing, saris and dhotis dominated the Indian plains, and the salwars, in the North West mountain regions of India. The Indo-Scythians used leather leggings – which were helpful in case of long marches on horse backs.

These leggings even today called the salvaria in Macedonia. The Persians at that time had the robes – and purple robes were the sign of royalty. The Greeks wore chitons – and peplos. The Greek fustanella similarly, is very much like tribal costumes worn even today by Gujarathi rabari tribals.

Kissing … and Kamasutra

Rabari tribesman in modern Gujarat

Rabari tribesman in modern Gujarat

On kissing, Vaughn Bryant, an anthropologist at Texas A&M, has traced the first recorded kiss back to India, somewhere around 1500 B.C., when early Vedic scriptures start to mention people “sniffing” with their mouths, and later texts describe lovers “setting mouth to mouth.” From there, he hypothesizes, the kiss spread westward when Alexander the Great conquered the Punjab in 326 B.C.

The Greatest Crime Wave … Ever?

Seven time Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, 83

Seven time Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, 83

Crime in the last 50 years

From the 1960-1990, the Big Issue for people across large parts of the world was Big Crime. The 1960-1990 peak in organized crime, globally, is interesting due to the synchronized time frames – across USA, Europe and India.

The Godfather series was emblematic of this phenomenon. The Godfather trilogy of films remained popular amongst critics and viewers alike. For years, Mario Puzo’s books remained on best seller lists. When the freed slaves of Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, tried to overthrow American-foisted dictator Batista, the US used the American Mafia, to attempt assassination of Fidel Castro. The mafia controlled trucking in the US – and a company like UPS had to pay of mafia to continue its trucking operations across USA.

In India, the rise of the underworld was delayed by a decade – as was its decline. India’s underworld, centred in Mumbai, at its peak, intruded into trade unions, films and entertainment, gambling, real estate, extortion and smuggling. The specter of Dawood Ibrahim haunts India-Pakistan Governmental relations – even today.

American Mafia

Chief of Police Thomas Byrnes.

Chief of Police Thomas Byrnes.

In May 1950, Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, was formed with Estes Kefauver and four other senators as members. Between 1950-51, the Kefauver Commission informed the American public that the American Mafia was synonymous with Union Siciliana. FBI finally admitted to the Mafia’s existence as La Cosa Nostra in the 1960s. The testimony of Detective Frank Serpico to the Knapp Commission opened to public view, how deep Mafia hooks were, into the US police.

A 130 years ago, the legendary New York police chief (and ex-detective), Thomas Byrnes had a simpler solution to the mafia problem, “Let them kill each other.”

From Publishers Weekly
During the 1920s the Gambinos, members of the New York Cosa Nostra “Five Families,” which also included the Colombo, Bonanno, Lucchese and Genovese families, controlled many businesses … Among their strongholds were private carting, garment industry trucking and construction. The mob also had … in the meat and supermarket businesses … loansharking, extortion and pornography. Additionally, the dons, having forbidden trafficking in drugs to subordinates, could not resist the vast profits and became involved themselves. Mafia founding fathers Vincent and Philip Mangano were succeeded by Albert Anastasia, who was murdered in 1957. The most effective leader, shows Davis, was Carlo Gambino, who emerged supreme in 1970, reigned for 19 years and was succeeded by his cousin Paul Castellano until he was killed at the behest of John Gotti, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1992.

… during Carlo’s reign the whole Mafia/all 5 Familys prospered more than they ever did … (ellipsis mine).

While the Italian-American involvement in crime has received wide publicity, the inclusion of African-Americans (much smaller in size and scale) in organized crime is less noticed. Similarly, the involvement of the African-Americans in crime peaked during the same 1960-1990 period.

roughly 1968 through 1984, organized crime also flourished in many of the city’s African-American neighborhoods, most of it under the average Philadelphian’s radar.

“The Black Mafia ran the heroin trade in the city,” says Sean Griffin, a former Philadelphia policeman and the author of Philadelphia’s ‘Black Mafia’, a new book that combines gritty street reporting with extensive scholarly research. “They were ruthless and ultra violent. They ruled major sections of the city, and yet somehow today it’s as if they never existed.”

The Black Mafia was “founded” in 1968 by Sam Christian, “a thick-necked 215-pound bully” and former Black Panther with an extensive rap sheet. Christian built his reputation holding up craps games and extorting drug dealers, numbers men and illegitimate businesses.

In the early days, the Black Mafia’s organized command structure consisted of 14 men, all with extensive records, most for violent crimes. As Griffin points out in Philadelphia’s ‘Black Mafia’, a book that grew out of the author’s Ph.D. dissertation, the nature of their crimes made them difficult criminals to prosecute because their victims and witnesses so feared retribution.

Of course, in terms of size and organization, it never matched or came even close to the American-Italian mafia.

The Rise & Fall of Organized Crime in America

Meyer Lansky character portrayed by Lee Strasberg in “Godfather II” told audiences, “We’re bigger than U.S. Steel.” It was during that era that Las Vegas was born, with millions of mob dollars invested in the ‘Bugsy’ Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel, and Havana became the greatest adult playground in the world due to huge amounts of bribes paid to President Batista and his cronies; when the Teamsters Union became king of the road and began using their pension fund millions to finance newer and bigger hotels in Vegas; and when everything from garbage collection, to juke box distribution, to construction projects large and small, to linen supplies for restaurants, to garment unions and the production companies under their thumbs, to illegal gambling…to all the ancillary businesses connected to those already mentioned…became mob cash cows.

In his book, former mob boss Joe Bonanno outlined a Commission of organized crime leaders around the country who settled arguments and set policy for all its underlings. That confession led United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rudy Giuliani, to initiate a criminal case, under the R.I.C.O. Act, charging the alleged bosses (it was later proven that Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno was NOT the head of the Genovese Family, as he was convicted of being) of New York’s five traditional organized crime families as Commission members of a criminal organization, commonly known as LCN, or La Cosa Nostra. Each was convicted and sentenced to more than one hundred years in federal prison. Bouncing off Giuliani’s success in the Commission Case, federal authorities brought more charges and convicted more top mobsters in Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Chicago. More recently, in early 2008, sixty-two alleged members of the Gambino Crime Family were arrested both in the United States and Italy.

There is no more national strength.

Traditional organized crime families are well on the way toward total dissolution, as they probably would have six or seven decades ago.

Italian Mafia

Simultaneously, across the Atlantic, in Italy too, the mafia was very powerful. Mafia power peaked in Italy also at the same time. The death of numerous judges and police officials was emblematic of the power and means that the Italian Mafia used against opposition.

Popularly, it is believed that the killing of the police commander, Alberto Dalla Chiesa, in September 1982 marked a turning point in the battle against Italian mafia. Before that, it was the kidnap and death of Aldo Moro, initially by the suspected Red Brigade. Later, it was found, that the kidnapping and murder was done by the Italian mafia, allegedly, at the behest of Guilio Andreotti, the seven time Italian Prime Minister.

The iconic Post WW2 Italian politician, seven time Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti was himself investigated (first acquitted, then convicted on appeal and then finally the conviction was annulled) of links with mafia. This year, (2008) this story led to a film -which detailed the long running Andreotti saga – with some liberties. The Vatican weighed in on the side of Guilio Andreotti, and Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini said, “Also Jesus Christ was crucified before his resurrection.”

Nixon and Andreotti ...

Nixon and Andreotti ...

The Italian mafia also traced the rise of the Indian underworld.

Their ascendancy was followed, in the 1970s and 1980s, by that of Toto Riina, who strangled, shot, bombed and poisoned his way to the position of capo di tutti capi. Successive Italian governments either stood aside, embarrassed by the lawlessness of western and central Sicily, or actually connived in the corruption. But in the 1990s, the mafia, and the Corleone clan in particular, misread the end of the cold war. Their political cover in Palermo and Rome was removed by the collapse of the Christian Democrat and Socialist parties and several huge domestic political scandals.

This wave of crime affected Europe with crime, terror, extremism – much like India is today. But whether it was the US or Italy, the real roots of the Rise and Fall of the Mafia lay in India. As we will see.

Underworld and terror – The Indian face

On March 12, 1993, India woke up a new phase in terror. Urban terror of a type not previously known. In the space of less than 1 hour, 13 important places, including The Bombay Stock Exchange, Plaza Cinema, and some other prominent places were subjected to synchronized bombings – killing more than 250 people and injuring more than 700. For the first time, plastic explosives, of the RDX type, were used in India.

Who is responsible for Mumbai Bomb blasts?

Many, starting with Indian police and the Indian Government, blamed India’s premier underworld figure, the fugitive Dawood Ibrahim. Wrong! An accomplice, Tiger Memon was also suspected. Wrong again.

Gold policy in modern India

The answer is Late Morarjee Desai – India’s ex-Prime Minister and Finance Minister. And with Morarjee Desai, were a whole lot of RBI and GOI officials who were behind 40 years of legislation, which created India’s underworld, corrupted 4 generations of India Government officials and reduced the value of Indian savings by Rs.1,20,000 crores. 4000 tons of gold purchased by Indian consumers, during the 1965-1995 period, at a 30% premium at today’s value – do your numbers.

These laws corrupted four generations of Indians – Government and politicians. It made gold in India very expensive – and the Indian buyer remained in poverty longer. Many gold control laws were enacted which stopped all legal gold imports into India.

These laws were derived from two sources. One, the British colonial policy legacy (motivated by exploitative aims). Two, motivated policy recommendations by US sponsored institutions like IMF, World Bank, Western Universities and academics, was continued by Indian Government and RBI. Had it not been for this policy framework, Bretton Woods system would have collapsed within 12 years instead of 25 years. For which Morarjee Desai was allegedly rewarded by the CIA. But, before that it enabled the establishment of the Bretton Woods system itself.

Roosevelt had earlier in 1933, during his New Deal years, nationalized all gold. This restriction was finally eased only on December 31st, 1974, with Executive Order 11825 by Gerald Ford. It was Roosevelt’s gold nationalization which allowed the US to wage WW2 and create the Bretton Woods system.

From 1939, (the start of WW2), gold imports into India, the world’s largest market and also the largest private reserve of gold, were controlled or banned. Not only the largest, but Indian reserves of gold, are also the only significant reserve in the world without a history of war, genocide, slavery or loot, (unlike US, UK, Canada, Australia) or to due nature’s bounty (unlike South Africa, China, Peru, Ghana, etc.).

Gold imports restriction & history’s biggest crime wave

The first effect of restrictions on gold imports in India was on prices. Indian gold prices, on an average, were 30%-40% higher than international prices. The other thing that happened was that gold imports went underground. Gold imports (illegal), called smuggling, spawned the biggest criminals that India has seen.

The common threads in this were, of course, America, drugs, underworld, war, corruption, warlords – but what made all this possible was Indian appetite for gold.

All this was made possible by the Indian hawala system of money exchange. Hawala made money transfers safe, instantaneous, at a low cost. Traditional Indian ships from a thousand ports in Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat sailed with this contraband and brought back gold.

The countries comprising these Golden Triangle /Crescent are India’s neighbours. The Indian underworld transported drugs through India. These drug shipments originated, were acquired, grown and traded from the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle.

Tentacles of the Indian Underworld

Like the American and Italian mafia, the Indian underworld, also spread its tentacles, wide and deep. In trade unions, film industry, politics and legitimate businesses.

In 1982, Dr.Datta Samant, a trade union leader, called for strike by the textile workers in Mumbai. He was the leader of Magar Aghadi (Workers’ Front), with more than 300,000 members. The strike went on for a year – with 250,000 workers abstaining from work for 20 months.

Mumbai’s textile industry, tethering on the brink of collapse, went bankrupt – and was nationalized. Hundreds of thousands of workers became unemployed – and Mumbai started rebuilding itself. Dr.Datta Samant was notionally affiliated to the Congress party – and INTUC. Since, his connections were tenuous, he had little political protection or patronage. A ‘supari’ (Indian underworld jargon for a contract) was ‘put’ out and Dr.Datta Samant was killed – on January 18th, 1997. Mumbai police listed sixteen people as accused, including underworld dons Chhota Rajan and Guru Satam, of which nine, are absconding.

Similarly, on May 7, 1994, businessman and industrialist, Sunit Khatau, was shot dead in broad daylight. Having used various underworld figures for getting his way with the labour unions, politicians, et al, Sunit Khatau paid the price for running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. The killing of Thakiyuddin A. Wahid, Managing Director of East-West Airlines, was yet another case where industry and underworld tried coming together with disastrous consequences.

The killing of Gulshan Kumar, the owner-founder of T-Series, was evidence of the underworld’s grip on India’s Mumbai-based Hindi film industry. A few years later, after the killing of Gulshan Kumar, the underworld was dictating star casts, release dates, projects, directors – and the Mumbai-Hindi film industry was in the grips of the underworld.

Indian underworld figures

One of the founder figures of the Indian (also Mumbai) underworld was Ayub Lala, who headed the Pakhtuk Jirga E Hind, an Afghani Pathan association in Mumbai. These were all small time figures – compared to the later times.

The new breed – bloodier and nastier than the previous, were represented by Karim Lala, Haji Mastan, Varadarajan Mudaliar, Yusuf Patel, Tiger Memmon, Chota Rajan, and of course, Dawood Ibrahim’s – a biological son of a police constable Sheikh Ibrahim Kaskar, was spawned by Morarjee Desai’s laws.

What’s common in the Golden Crescent & the Golden Triangle

After WW2, traditional opium supplies from (Greater) China, by Government granted opium monopolies, from Yugoslavia and Italy, were replaced by Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mexico. It was the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent which dominated opium supplies from 1960s-1990s.

The fact that flows from these new supply sources coincided with the American ‘domino theory’ wars, against ‘under-your-bed’ Communism (in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, etc.) is the subject of much research, significant evidence and many Hollywood films – which have suggested that the American armed forces and the CIA were behind the start of the drugs import into USA.

Interestingly, this period is also the background to the other chain of events – now dubbed as Yamashita Gold. Involvement starts with Douglas MacArthur and the Who’s Who of American politics, bureaucracy and military. They purportedly, extracted information from Japanese warlords and crime bosses about the fabled loot of the Japanese bosses, who ruled over Korea, China between WW1-WW2. Some writers allege that the link goes from Prescott Bush right upto the soon-to-be-the-ex-President George ‘Dubya’ Bush.

Counterfeit Currency

The other interesting feature of this great crime wave was fake Indian currency. The counterfeiting of US dollars is understandable. It is the world’s largest currency – and most acceptable. The GBP or the Euro are also reasonable targets for counterfeiting activity. Even counterfeiting the Canadian dollar!

But, the most unlikely target is the Indian Rupee!

India is a small, poor economy, (at least, till about 5 years ago). India does not have capital convertibility either. So, this huge counterfeiting operation raises more questions. Is this counterfeiting related to India’s Gold reserves?

The entire currency and security-grade printing is dominated by less than a dozen companies. These companies will not dare to support ‘counterfeiting’ operations – unless there is official cover or support given to them, by their respective Governments.

The invisible Indian connection

The US eliminated gold ownership restrictions in 1975. India followed. 20 years later. In 1992, India took its first hesitant steps towards legalizing gold imports. By 1995, these import control laws had been diluted to near non-existence.

Much like the fading away of the mafia in the US and Italy, in India too, after the gold trade was legalized, the mafia’s source of power, liquidity, earnings, profit were taken away. With it came the underworld’s loss of power and influence – globally. And that coincided with the reduction and control of organized crime from the US and Europe and India. And an end to the greatest crime wave in the modern history.

Today, the abatement in organized crime is ascribed to vigourous efforts by the police and legal systems. The earlier lack of success is conveniently forgotten. In India, many ‘encounter’ specialists claimed credit for the reduction in the power of the India’s underworld.

A paperback by Penguin, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Mafia By Jerry Capeci does not mention India even once. Another book, Cops Across Borders By Ethan Avram Nadelmann which details global, cross-border police co-operation, mentions India only 11 times – in more than 500 pages. These books are symptomatic of the world’s non-recognition of the genesis of the greatest crime wave in history.

Indian social system itself does not see organized crime having any logical existential reason. It is these values that gives India one of the lowest prison populations in the world – and practically very few positions in the Forbes ‘Most Wanted’ List. With the lowest police to population ratio.

Indian media in feeding frenzy – 26/11 Mumbai terror strike

Posted in Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on December 2, 2008

Too much or too little

There are two schools of thought about Indian neta – especially when it comes to an crisis. One school says, that Indian bureaucracy is the best and can get it done – except it is hobbled by ‘interference’ from the neta.

The other schools veers to the view which says that Indian netas are doing nothing. It is the netas inaction which is the root of all problems in India. Usually, both schools of thought are used by the same set of people – based on what seems more appropriate for the context.

How can politicians become effective without ‘meddling’, and if they don’t ‘meddle’, we will then blame them for ‘inaction’. So, it has been after the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai.

Feeding frenzy in the Indian media

Feeding frenzy in Indian media

The Indian media (especially English) and the India’s Westernized elite has been hounding for blood ever since the terrorist attacks on Mumbai’s upper class business centres for the first time. After the 26/11 attack on Mumbai prime centres, they have been able to force the resignation of Shivraj Patil, India’s Home Minister. Maharashtra’s Home Minister, RR Patil has also resigned. Maharshtra’s Cheif Minister is expected to be replaced also – soon.

Rafiq Zakaria, a Westernized Indian, now a US citizen, said on CNN, at the Global Public Square program.

This crisis has highlighted one of the peculiarities about India. Its society, economy, private sector are amazingly dynamic. The same cannot be said of the Indian state. Government in India is too often weak, divided, incompetent.

The Times Of India, desperately sombrely, thinks, “it is time to ask our politicians: Are you going to go back to playing politics with our lives? Or are you going to do something worthwhile with yours?” The normally incisive, MJ Akbar,  falls into the trap of blaming politicians, latching onto politico bashing, by saying, “We have been defeated by incompetent governance, both in Mumbai and Delhi … ineffectual leadership (is) turning a tough nation into a soft state. We should have been world leaders in the war against terrorists, for no nation has more experience Instead we are wallowing in the complacent despair of a continual victim.”

The normally vacuous Lord Baron Meghnad Desai,writing in the Indian Express, continued with his inanities, “It is a test of leadership. Can India’s political parties, tested for 60 years in the crucible of democracy, rise to this occasion and save our country?” Hindustan Times joins in with its own two bits. Inderji Hazra, in a very superior fashion writes, but does not see the contradiction when he talks about ‘Frankly, the ‘lack of form’ shown by our political class isn’t a big deal for me … The two things: political meddling and the law of averages.”

Mint, a sister publication of HT and WSJ, was out with its editor saying, “The heads have started rolling — and high time too. While people such as Shivraj Patil, Vilasrao Deshmukh and R.R. Patil deserve to be sacked, this is also a good time to look at the overall leadership deficit in India.”

Anti-neta colonial legacy

From colonial times, the Indian neta has been a favorite target of smear campaigns, innuendo and propaganda. Colonial administration in India worked hard to undermine the credibility of the Indian ‘neta’ -for obvious reasons. Colonial bureaucrats (and their successors, the IAS) covered their incompetence and corruption with this lopsided image of the neta. Indians politicians are possibly as corrupt as any others in the world.

Ask the Japanese about Kakui Tanaka and Lockheed affair. Or ask the British about Mark Thatcher shenanigans. But don’t ask Americans about the son of bootlegger who flouted the US Constitution many times – John F.Kennedy. After JFK’s killing, 60 years on, there are many suspects who had motives. Mafia tops this list.

The State Of Foreign Affairs

The state of inter-government relations in South Asia is a sign of lazy Indian diplomatic corps (the IFS) which considers all these neighbourhood postings as ‘punishment’ postings. The ‘best’ of IFS corps wants postings to Western capitals. Like the IAS, the IFS is another albatross around India’s neck.

A large part of India’s Foreign Ministry budget goes towards Western engagement (for proof, look at the dubious Festivals of India in USA, France, Russia, Britain, etc). Instead if the same money was spent in the sub-continent, it would have been better spent. The huge monies spent on Western embassies are mis directed. It would be ideal if those Western embassies were Spartan, frugal (I should actually say Gandhian) – and the money saved can be invested in the sub-continent.

No neighbour would want to willingly embrace China! After all, India offers a template that others can use – and China offers a road map that points downhill. It is India’s superior attitude which has made it attractive for our neighbours to embrace China.

For this reason, again SAARC has been bombast – and little action. It is our diplomatic corps that are found wanting. The SAARC opportunities in the economic area are huge – and history is on our side. It is our Western pre-occupation and Pakistani Fixation which are to blame

Let us get real, shall we?

The Indian Government (Central and State together) have an employee base of about 55 lakhs. The number of elected representatives total around 5,500. The Indian population totals 110 crores (1100 million). It makes no sense to make scapegoats of 5500 politicians.

Blaming politicians, who are temporary office bearers, is escapist and is a well tuned strategy by the entrenched bureaucracy which bears the full responsibility for this –  the success of this operation and the lack of efforts to kill this problem at its root.

The Indian himself

Is the Indian looking at himself?

Firstly, the Indian does not want to pay his political leaders. For the last 20 years, I have received this chain mail, which talks about how each politician costs this country Rs.100,000 per hour, etc. What does the Indian expect – 10 million Gandhijis who will serve the country for free?

The same goes for the army, the police and the bureaucrats. The logic here is ‘anyway they take so much in bribes that they do not need anything more.” Or one step further, “However much you pay these guys, they will not stop. They will continue to take bribes.”

It is these Indian attitudes which make for a soft state – and not some 5500 politicians – a mix of great and inane, competent and corrupt.

And the solution starts here with me. Are you with me or against me!!

What should India’s counter terrorism plan look like …

Posted in Current Affairs, History, Indo Pak Relations, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on December 1, 2008

The Blood letting

The Indian media (especially English) and the India’s Westernized elite has been hounding for blood ever since the terrorist attacks on Mumbai’s upper class business centres for the first time. After the 26/11 attack on Mumbai prime centres, they have been able to force the resignation of Shivraj Patil, India’s Home Minister. Maharashtra’s Home Minister, RR Patil has also resigned. Maharshtra’s Cheif Minister is expected to be replaced also – soon.

Rafiq Zakaria, a Westernized Indian, now a US citizen, said on CNN, at the Global Public Square program.

This crisis has highlighted one of the peculiarities about India. Its society, economy, private sector are amazingly dynamic. The same cannot be said of the Indian state. Government in India is too often weak, divided, incompetent.

The Times Of India, desperately sombrely, thinks, “it is time to ask our politicians: Are you going to go back to playing politics with our lives? Or are you going to do something worthwhile with yours?” The normally incisive, MJ Akbar, falls into the trap of blaming politicians, latching onto politico bashing, by saying, “We have been defeated by incompetent governance, both in Mumbai and Delhi … ineffectual leadership (is) turning a tough nation into a soft state. We should have been world leaders in the war against terrorists, for no nation has more experience Instead we are wallowing in the complacent despair of a continual victim.”

The normally vacuous Lord Baron Meghnad Desai,writing in the Indian Express, continued with his inanities, “It is a test of leadership. Can India‘s political parties, tested for 60 years in the crucible of democracy, rise to this occasion and save our country?” Hindustan Times joins in with its own two bits. Inderji Hazra, in a very superior fashion writes, but does not see the contradiction when he talks about ‘Frankly, the ‘lack of form’ shown by our political class isn’t a big deal for me … The two things: political meddling and the law of averages.” Prabhu Chawla, at India Today magazine, shed some more darkness with some empty words “Our politicians never get the message. The fury of a nation betrayed by its political class knows no bounds. Our discredited politicians are protected with the most sophisticated arms when the ordinary cops have only antiquated guns to save the citizens. Soon, the netas may have to be protected against their own people.”

How can politicians become effective without ‘meddling’, and if they don’t ‘meddle’, we will then blame them for ‘inaction’.

Apportioning blame

Blaming politicians, who are temporary office bearers, is escapist and is a well tuned strategy by the entrenched Westernized bureaucracy, which bears a significant, though partial responsibility, for this – the success of this operation and the lack of efforts to kill this problem at its root.

The Indian Government (Central and State together) have an employee base of about 55 lakhs. The number of elected representatives total around 5,500. The Indian population totals 110 crores (1100 million). It makes no sense to make scapegoats of 5500 politicians.

Blaming 5500 politicians is the knee jerk reactions by the intellectually devoid. Taking down Shivraj Patil is small consolation.

The responsibility (for not taking actions) and the credit for the brilliant commando operation is with the bureaucracy. The rewards should go to the various people for handling this operation so well, starting with the Mumbai police – and the culpability of those who have twiddled for years, starting with the Indian diplomatic community, the IFS and the Finance Ministry bureaucrats, who have not earmarked enough attention to these areas, is more important.

Who gets killed determines actions

India Today reports,

‘1,202 have been killed in 23 terrorist strikes in the country since the attack on Parliament. Five of them took place between December 2001 and May 2004 when the NDA was in power and the rest during the last four-and-a-half years of the UPA Government.’

Millions were affected in Bihar, when the Kosi river changed course and flooded Bihar.

As the overall flood situation in Bihar registered significant improvement with the water level all major rivers flowing below the danger mark, Bihar government today launched distribution of money for relief and succor on a war footing.

The water level of Kosi, Ganga, Burhi Gandak, Gandak, Mahananda and Bagmati were maintaining receding trend and was flowing below the danger mark along their course in Bihar, Central Water Commission sources said. The death toll in the current spell of floods stood at 217 in 18 districts, official sources said.

How come no one resigned till now? Not after the train blasts in 2006. Not after the bomb blasts in 1993. What is the difference this time around? The difference is that the rich and famous have been affected this time around.

We cannot afford the rich and famous to get affected, can we? But that is another discussion and another place.

Round up the usual suspects

One idea that has now been floating around is the creation of a central agency for coordinating intelligence and anti-terrorist activities – much like the FBI and the CIA. The many failures of the FBI and the CIA is usually overlooked – against its few successes. While there may be a case for such an agency, this cant be the winning idea between 1993 to 2008.

The other idea is of course war with Pakistan! A direct war with quasi-nuclear power is something that India cannot afford, is unprepared for and raises more questions than it answers. Post war scenarios are of course much worse. India will neither be able hold onto Pakistan or let go of a truncated Pakistan. It may well turn out to be another Bangladesh – where the HuJI is emerging as another terrorist force threatening the East and North East India.

Then there is perennial loser idea of international and UN intervention. These are defensive ideas whose value is limited. India now needs to become more aggressive.

A street scene in Pesahwar?

A street scene in Pesahwar?

What can India do!

India must follow a five point agenda.

One – Close down the Peshawar arms bazaar. This one-time small arms bazaar has became the sourcing centre for terrorists all over the world. Initially, stocked up with arms from the CIA funded jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Peshawar, has become a problem that never ends. If required, there should be a UN mandate to send in a multinational force to surround, capture and destroy this centre for arms and armaments.

Two – Pakistan precarious financial position does not allow it the luxury of an arms race with India. The world must withdraw all technology from Pakistan for all arms and ammunition. No RDX, no tanks, no F-16s, no APCs. Pakistan must be put on strict diet of military technology blockade by the world. No less.

Pakistan’s suspected role in counterfeit currency operations must also be put under the scanner. Controlling Government’s of the 12 companies that dominate the currency printing business must be made to choose. Between India and Pakistan. If the German Government can arm twist their companies to suspend currency supply to Zimbabwe, there is no excuse for them to not to lean on dealings with Pakistan.

Pakistan’s (valid) security concerns should be met with a tripartite agreement between China, India and Pakistan which will guarantee Pakistan’s current borders. No disputes, no claims from Pakistan have any legitimacy any more. Let Pakistan take care of its current territory and people. POK will remain with Pakistan – and current LOC will remain unchanged. So, Pakistan will not lose.

Three – Pakistan is at the crossroads of a jihadi, terrorist, criminal elements who have joined together and created an incendiary mash-up. Fueled by a drugs trade worth billions, arms trade worth millions and respectability, as they are ‘carrying out a religious jihad’.

The leadership of these gangs has to be de-fanged. LK Advani, as the earlier Home Minister, forwarded a list of ‘Most Wanted 20′ to Pakistan nearly 7 years ago. Not one has come to India. The US has not co-operated on this one important Indian requirement.

Four – Zardari wants to export cotton (raw, yarn, gray cloth, finished cloth), cement and sugar to India. India has a large market for all – and can easily absorb Pakistani exports. Tie these Pakistani exports to quantitative achievements in shutting down terror camps in Pakistan.

Five – Pakistani Hindus (especially Dalits) are crucial to Pakistan. Announce a scheme for Hindu immigration from Pakistan to India. The loss of this 2% of Pakistani population can make life difficult for Pakistan. Facilitate Pakistani Hindu immigration to India.

How can India make this happen

It has to be realpolitik. India can no longer give away benefits without quid pro quo. Make P&G, ABB, Alsthom, Renault, Unilever, Siemens, Pepsi and Coke earn their living. The Indian operations of these companies pack a mean heft. They must join in to secure the markets they wish to exploit. The US has to deliver. Peshawar markets must close down. The Pakistan defence production cannot be used against India. Pakistan has to deliver the criminal elements – dead or alive.

Indian co-operation with the West on the new world financial system will be based on co-operation by the West. India should move to create systems which allow political and social stabilization a rule – and not an exception.

These strategic elements of using Indian advantages to gain our ends is the way to forge ahead.

Mumbai Massacre – The real blame and real culprits

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Islamic Demonization, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on November 30, 2008

Vital stats of the Mumbai siege operation

On 26th November, a Wednesday night, ten terrorists, (nine killed and one taken alive), mounted a terrorist strike in Mumbai. They attacked at least ten venues (Cama Hospital, Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, CST Train Terminus, Leopold Cafe, Girgaum Chowpatty, Metro Junction + the four buildings occupied) and later occupied four building complexes ((The Oberoi Trident Hotel; The old Taj Mahal Hotel and the new Taj;The Nariman Building), killed nearly 190 people over a space of nearly 60 hours. These terrorists came with machine guns, machine pistols, grenades, incendiary bombs, satellite phones, credit cards, Indian currency and US dollars, conflict rations of dry fruits like almonds, raisins, etc.

Indian commando On Nariman House, Mumbai

Indian commando On Nariman House, Mumbai

The assault on these terrorists, initially by local police and later by the elite NSG and MARCOS commando units spread over 60 hours, sanitized nearly a 1000 rooms, covered nearly 70 kilometres of passage ways, corridors, alcoves, enclosures, rooms and passages, in 4 building complexes, spread over nearly 1 square kilometre of dense urban population. Some 150 commandos were used – and final tally of defence personnel killed was 14 policemen and 3 commandos.

Jyoti Krishan Dutt

Jyoti Krishan Dutt

After this operation, crowds cheered and the commandos were surrounded by jubilant crowds. Indian media provided live coverage of this terrorist carnage with multiple cameras at multiple sites in a brilliant operation.

Israeli ‘experts’ were quick to condemn the Indian commando operation. Imagine the Israelis talking about collateral damage. ‘Experts’ carped about the total intelligence failure – whereas, it was clear that requisite intelligence information was drowned in the accompanying ‘noise’.

The aftermath

One day after the end of this operation, the Indian media and commentators are unanimous. Blame the politician.

The Times Of India, desperately somber, intones,

as heaps of bodies lie in morgues in a charred or decomposed state, and loved ones huddle outside to receive them one last time, it is time to ask our politicians: Are you going to go back to playing politics with our lives? Or are you going to do something worthwhile with yours? How many deaths will it take till you know that too many people have died?

Normally incisive, MJ Akbar, falls into the trap of blaming politicians.

The most significant part of the outrage should not be obscured by the drama of events hypnotized by attack, we should not become oblivious of defence. We have been defeated by incompetent governance, both in Mumbai and Delhi … Complacence and politics gave the terrorists more protection than silence or deception could. But ineffectual leadership turning a tough nation into a soft state. We should have been world leaders in the war against terrorists, for no nation has more experience Instead we are wallowing in the complacent despair of a continual victim. Some three years ago, Dr Manmohan Singh told George Bush that there were no terrorists among Indian Muslims. Perhaps he was unaware of the 1993 Mumbai bombings. Perhaps he want ed to please two constituencies: Bush, who needed a certificate for his view that democracy was the cure for all evil; and local Muslims, who were not being given jobs but could always be offered the consolation prize of a pat on the back. Dr Singh certainly did not fool any terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba might even have interpreted such self-congratulation as a challenge.

Declares, Lord Baron Meghnad Desai,writing in the Indian Express,

It is a test of leadership.

Can India’s political parties, tested for 60 years in the crucible of democracy, rise to this occasion and save our country? Can we set aside partisanship of our politics and forge a united front? Can the two major parties set aside differences in their visions of India and weave a common narrative of why India is a nation, united and single?

Hindustan Times joins in with its own two bits. Inderji Hazra writes, in a very superior fashion,

Frankly, the ‘lack of form’ shown by our political class isn’t a big deal for me. The pre-poll mud-slinging looks bad. But so does the shit on our roads. What makes me break into a twitch is something beyond this beggar’s opera. When pundits talk about ‘asymmetrical warfare’, they never mean lathi-wielding policemen vs AK47-armed terrorists, do they? And aren’t patrols and security checks, whether along sea fronts or at the entries of malls too much of a drag to bother about day in, day out? As for bringing about more stringent anti-terror laws — or even following standard procedures of law and order and investigations — is it worth all that effort when only two things really determine how easy or hard it will be for future terrorists to attack us?

The two things: political meddling and the law of averages.

Before coming to conclusions about this attack, let us also look at some other incidents across the world in the last few years.

Global Benchmarks

On 23rd October 2002, at a theater in Moscow, the Nord-Ost incident, some 40-50 Chechnyan separatist “Special Purpose Islamic Regiment” took an estimated 850 people hostage. An estimated 300 Russians died in an attempted rescue – and 39 terrorists were killed. This entire operation took was completed after 3 days by releasing a deadly poison gas – that killed many more hostages than the terrorists.

On September 1st, 1995, again in Russia, in the Beslan school tragedy, more than 360 people were killed in the 1995 raid, purportedly led by the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who escaped during the botched rescue attempt by troops. Basayev’s claims of responsibility for this attack on Beslan School Number One, are disputed. Basayev used a gang which turned out to be bigger than what Russian authorities initially claimed. An investigator, Mr. Torshin disputed the claim, posted on a Chechen website, saying it “could be a hoax”. Of the 32 hostage-takers, one was captured alive, 30 died and one was blown apart. And the number of time taken to ‘resolve’ this crisis was again about 3 days.

On 5th May, 1980. the ‘famous’ SAS rescued hostages from the Iranian embassy in London. On April 30th, 1980, six Iranian Arab gunmen, opposed to Ayatollah Khomeni, took hostages, demanding release of some nearly 100 Iranian political prisoners. After 5 days of planning, some 30 ‘crack’ SAS troops overran the embassy. Of the six gunmen, five were killed and one arrested. Of the twenty two hostages, ninteen were set free, one died and two injured in the cross-fire. A film was later made on this operation.

In Peru, the siege of the Japanese embassy began on 17 December when the Marxist rebels stormed a diplomatic cocktail party, seizing more than 400 guests as hostages. The Peruvian forces, with the help of the British SAS, took two weeks to plan this assault.On April 22nd, 1997, the hostages were finally released – after some 4 months.American FBI pitched in, claiming some credit for this operation.

In India, the Akshardham Temple attack took four days to clear.

Let us get real, shall we?

The Indian Government (Central and State together) have an employee base of about 55 lakhs. The number of elected representatives total around 5,500. The Indian population totals 110 crores (1100 million). It makes no sense to make scapegoats of 5500 politicians.

Blaming politicians, who are temporary office bearers, is escapist and is a well tuned strategy by the entrenched bureaucracy which bears the full responsibility for this – the success of this operation and the lack of efforts to kill this problem at its root.

Future Actions

India needs to act differently. India must work on a three point agenda.

Pakistani tribesman makes a grenade launcher in the Darra Adam Khel tribal area, 47 km from Peshawar

Pakistani tribesman makes a grenade launcher in the Darra Adam Khel tribal area, 47 km from Peshawar

One – Close down the Peshawar arms bazaar. This small time bazaar became the sourcing centre for terrorists all over the world. Initially, stocked up with arms from the CIA funded jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Peshawar, has become a problem that never ends. If required, there should be a UN mandate to send in a multinational force to surround, capture and destroy this centre for arms and armaments.

Two – Withdraw all technology from Pakistan for all arms and ammunition. No RDX, no tanks, no F-16s, no APCs. Pakistan must be put on strict diet of military technology blockade by the world. No less.

Three – Secure Pakistan‘s borders with a tripartite agreement between China, India and Pakistan which will guarantee Pakistan‘s current borders. No disputes, no claims from Pakistan have any legitimacy any more. Let Pakistan take care of its current territory and people.

These three actions will rid the sub-continent of all tensions and conflicts – no less. It has to be underpinned by India and China. The West, and Pakistan will protest, but must be made to follow this prescription.

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