2ndlook

Nollywood – New Kid on The Global Filmi Block

Posted in America, Business, Film Reviews, Media, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on January 18, 2012
Ulzee, a Nollywood pioneer maker of big Nollywood hit “Osuofia in London,”  |  Image source & courtesy - techcrunch.com

Ulzee, a Nollywood pioneer maker of big Nollywood hit “Osuofia in London,” | Image source & courtesy - techcrunch.com

A Story From Nigeria

In 2003, an unknown Nigerian Azuka Odunukwe, landed in London, with a ‘venture’ in his mind.

His investment in the ‘venture’ was less than US$10,000. In this venture, with him, was his lawyer wife. Over the next few months, this ‘venture’ succeeded – and with his ‘partners’, he netted more than US$500,000.

This was not the usual Nigerian banking scam,  that is now so famous across the world. Popularly known as

Ulzee, a Nollywood pioneer who decided to make movies after getting a science degree. His wife, trained as a lawyer, joined him along the seemingly crazy journey. His biggest hit was “Osuofia in London,” one of the first Nollywood films to get international attention. He shot it on location in London and it cost about $6,500 to make– a jaw-dropping investment for a Nollywood picture back in 2003. But it grossed more than $650,000. (via You Think Hollywood Is Rough? Welcome to the Chaos, Excitement and Danger of Nollywood | TechCrunch).

Together, director Kingsley Ogoro, and ‘marketeer’ Azuka Odunukwe ‘Ulzee’, made the world sit up and take note of Nollywood.

Miracle’ in Nigeria

Nigerian film-makers (collectively, Nollywood) have done what Germans, French, British, Japanese, even the Chinese, have not been able to do.

Challenge – and leave Hollywood behind.

Without support from the Nigerian Government. Even with State-support, the Chinese have difficulty in sustaining a film industry. Chinese film production, across 4 production centres (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, or mainland China), cannot match Nigerian production. The entire Islamic world produces negligible footage. Based on revenues, a 2007-report, notes that,

Still from the Nollywood movie - Osuofia in London|  Image source & courtesy - ImageShack  |  Click for source image.

Still from the Nollywood movie - Osuofia in London| Image source & courtesy - ImageShack | Click for source image.

The Nigerian film industry is the third largest in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood. Outside its native continent, Nollywood remains relatively unknown. Yet millions of African fans can’t get enough of its movies.

Unlike their international counterparts, the films coming out of Nollywood aren’t intended for the big screen. Nigerian filmmakers use a mix of quick-and-dirty digital technology, shooting their movies entirely on digital video, editing them on home computers and delivering them to the market on VHS, DVD and video compact discs, or VCDs.

Since its inception in the 1990s, the burgeoning Nigerian movie scene has bloomed into a $286 million business annually, despite the fact that films have minimal budgets (ranging from $10,000 to $25,000) and sell for just a few dollars apiece. What this industry does have is volume, with some 300 directors churning out an average of 2400 films annually. (via Nigerian Film Industry Mixes Digital Tech, Homegrown Scripts).

For media,

It is hard to avoid Nigerian films in Africa. Public buses show them, as do many restaurants and hotels. Nollywood churns out about 50 full-length features a week, making it the world’s second most prolific film industry after India’s Bollywood. The Nigerian business capital, Lagos, is said by locals to have produced more films than there are stars in the sky. The streets are flooded with camera crews shooting on location. Only the government employs more people.

Nigerian films are as popular abroad as they are at home. Ivorian rebels in the bush stop fighting when a shipment of DVDs arrives from Lagos. Zambian mothers say their children talk with accents learnt from Nigerian television. When the president of Sierra Leone asked Genevieve Nnaji, a Lagosian screen goddess, to join him on the campaign trail he attracted record crowds at rallies. Millions of Africans watch Nigerian films every day, many more than see American fare. (via Nollywood: Lights, camera, Africa | The Economist).

All this, in less than 20 years.

Nigerian film posters seen at Idumota market in Lagos, Nigeria.  |  Image source & courtesy - cbc.ca  |  Click for larger image.

Nigerian film posters seen at Idumota market in Lagos, Nigeria. | Image source & courtesy - cbc.ca | Click for larger image.

The secret ‘chutni’

Some in Western media, quick to deny credit, think that Nollywood’s success is probably linked to that ‘most of the movies are in English, allowing for the widest possible crossover appeal.’ But English language, may not be the biggest reason for Nollywood’s success. As the UN report confirms,

The survey also revealed that about 56 per cent of Nollywood films are made in local languages, while English remains a prominent language, accounting for 44 per cent, which may contribute to Nigeria’s success in exporting its films. (via Nigeria surpasses Hollywood as world’s second largest film producer – UN).

However, actors in Igbo and English Nollywood films do seem to be paid more than the Yoruba language films.

For most, especially in the Yoruba movie sector, the wages are lower. Their names are considerably bigger than their bank statements.

There are Yoruba movie actors with more than 50 lead roles who remain anything but wealthy. Yemi Solade, a big name in the sector, once told this magazine that many of his colleagues may die in poverty. “The industry is not organised and there are few professionals. Everybody wants to produce, direct, and at the same time, act. As a result of this, they do what I call man-know-man, a system whereby when I work for you, you won’t pay me and vice versa. It is absolute rubbish and the industry and individuals will never grow with that. Also, I detest the idea that everybody must produce films. It is only in the Yoruba sector that you will see a generator man claiming to be a producer because he managed to get some coins from a marketer in Idumota,” he said.

According to Solade, an actor, who co-starred with Yinka Quadri in the award-winning film 150 Million, got only N15,000 for his role in the two-part flick. (via Nollywood: Sex Glamour And Fake Life | The News Nigeria).

Probably, since English films have larger markets outside Nigeria, the returns are better. Even then, there are large number of films made in Yoruba.

Why?

Nollywood viewers seem to see African stories, told differently.

Shooting past Hollywood without the world noticing, Nollywood has made it to second place with films about family, love and honor, about AIDS, prostitution and oil, and about ghosts and cannibals.

In other words, films about Africa.

Nollywood movies with limited budgets use locations instead. |  Image source & courtesy - esquire.com  |  Read more: http://www.esquire.com/the-side/NOLLYWOOD/nollywood-part-3#ixzz1jqJhGB3y

Nollywood movies with limited budgets use locations instead. | Image source & courtesy - esquire.com | Read more: http://www.esquire.com/the-side/NOLLYWOOD/nollywood-part-3#ixzz1jqJhGB3y

The ‘Bigness’ of Nollywood

Nollywood is the apparent African iceberg, much of which is hidden out of sight. Post-colonial Africa, emerging from the shadows of its population and cultural destruction, films are the new narrative form.

But Africa’s most populous country Nigeria 18 years ago burst into production with affordable movies now shot with digital cameras that shun the more expensive classical 35mm format.

Nollywood has in recent years galloped ahead of Hollywood to be ranked second in the world in production terms after India’s Bollywood.

Nollywood “has taken over completely” from Hollywood, said Nigeria’s film producer and director Teco Benson, saying it is the latest “superpower” in the movie industry.

“It’s Africa’s new rebranding tool”.

One reason for Nollywood’s popularity lies with South Africa-based pay television MultiChoice. It has four 24-hour channels dedicated to African content, predominantly Nigeria productions. Two of the channels run movies in two of Nigeria’s main languages, Yoruba and Hausa.

But in poor neighbourhoods, shacks with old TV screens placed on dusty alleys or verandas pass for video viewing centres. Bootleg copies sell for a couple of dollars across the continent.

In central Africa, Nollywood movies are the only ones sold by market vendors as “African movies”, with the Nigerian productions dubbed into French in such countries as Cameroon and Gabon.

In Kenya, Nigerian films are also a hit – many of them broadcast on terrestrial networks – but face competition from Bollywood due to a historic large Indian population in the eastern African country.

Nollywood films are also immensely popular in Sierra Leone, to the extent of choking the growth of the country’s own movie industry, said Thomas Jones, a radio play scriptwriter.

“Nollywood has hampered the growth of the local film market because my contemporaries have just resigned themselves to watching these films from Nigeria,” he said.

More affluent South Africa on the other hand has seen a growth in its movie sector since the end of apartheid, and Neill Blomkamp’s science fiction “District 9” was this year nominated for an Oscar.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nollywood is “very popular on television” after being dubbed into the local Lingala dialect,

even in the tiniest of African countries such as Gambia, “Nollywood is ahead of Hollywood”, said Nigerian businessman Barnabas Eset, who since 2000 has been renting out both Nollywood and Hollywood movies. (via Nigeria’s Nollywood eclipsing Hollywood in Africa – Films – Arts & Entertainment – The Independent).

Nollywood – the birth and growth

If the market was so big, and the need was so great, why were other film makers unable to exploit this opportunity. Behind Nollywood were seemingly random events and coincidences, that triggered this seminal rise.

The Nigerian film industry emerged in the late 1970s, as the nation’s economy collapsed. Public funding of movies and original television programming vanished, and crime made cinemas too dangerous to visit. European and American shows soon dominated national television. But, disturbed by the absence of black faces on Nigerian television, the country’s fledgling filmmakers began spinning vibrant tribal plays onto the screen. By the early 1990s, filming on celluloid had become too expensive and production shifted to video.

Unlike African art films, which appear on the global film circuit and are commonly financed by European investors, Nollywood films are backed by African merchants. For instance, a merchant-investor could pay a director $10,000, covering the production costs and procuring the film’s distribution rights. About two weeks later, the merchant-investor gets the film’s master tape, then sends it to one of many mass-dubbing centers in Nigeria. The movie is copied onto a Video Compact Disc, known as a VCD and widely used across the developing world. VCDs cost $1.50 to make and are usually sold to consumers at outdoor markets in Nigeria for $3, or less.

Borrowing the style and structure of American soap operas and Bollywood films, Nigerian movies had gained popularity across sub-Saharan Africa by the mid-1990s, even in French-speaking countries. Soon, Nigerian expatriates were stuffing their suitcases with videotapes and VCDs on trips back to Britain and, eventually, the United States. Some of the films were passed on to relatives. Others, however, wound up in the hands of distributors, who have copied an unknown number of DVDs and sold them to stores or over the Internet. (via Nigeria On-Screen – washingtonpost.com).

The Case of The Missing State

While Australia, Europe, Japan, China subsidize domestic film-making, Nollywood success is without the support of Nigerian State.

Government film subsidies are almost nonexistent in Nigeria, and if there are any subsidies, most people assume that the money never leaves the pockets of those at the top echelons of industry unions.

Using basic filming technology,

The (Nigerian film) industry is in dire need of investment, however; presently, it self-finances through cable deals and street sales of DVDs. Churches often finance films to spread their message and many production companies are happy to take their money, particularly as competition is getting stiffer from countries like Ghana. (via Welcome to Nollywood: Nigeria’s Film Industry Is More Prolific than Hollywood — and Faces Even More Piracy – TIME).

If piracy, funding are Hollywood’s problems, these are bigger problems for Nollywood. State supported academia and critics ignore or pan Nollywood – even as

The brash populism of such Nollywood fare sits in sharp contrast with movies from Francophone Africa. The latter, frequently backed by French funding, often secure critical success, and get an outing at Fespaco, the continent’s premier film festival held every two years in Ouagadougou.

Nollywood films rarely secure Fespaco praise. But nor is this an industry reliant on subsidies: although plagued by piracy, it remains popular, independent and accessible. In a continent with few cinemas, an ever-changing selection of video CDs are sold for a few dollars a pop on street corners. (via Nollywood comes of age – FT.com).

Story-telling is worth big money and Nollywood made the world sit-up and note that

Africa is a gigantic market, with 150 million people living in Nigeria alone. Nigerian films are exported to other African countries, like Ghana, Sierra Leone and South Africa, but also to the United States and England, and to Germany, where they are sold in African shops — in other words, to places where they can capitalize on the nostalgia of a large African Diaspora.

Lagos from the Okada backseat - the Nigerian motorcycle taxi.  |  Image source & courtesy - esquire.com  |  Click for larger image.

Lagos from the Okada backseat - the Nigerian motorcycle taxi. | Image source & courtesy - esquire.com | Click for larger image.

Let numbers do the talking

More than entertainment, Nollywood has given Africa reasons for satisfaction.

For post-colonial Nigeria particularly ‘next to the oil industry, Nollywood is the second-largest employer in Nigeria.’

It has its own stars and its own red carpets, even its own version of the Oscars: the African Movie Academy Awards. Hundreds of thousands of the home videos it produces are displayed on dealers’ shelves, in the form of VCDs and DVDs, and the films are also broadcast on television channels like Africa Magic. Hollywood films play almost no role at all in this country. (via Nigeria’s Silver Screen: Nollywood’s Film Industry Second only to Bollywood in Scale – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.

By 2009, the UN noted that the Nigerian film industry (Nollywood) was the second largest in the world – based on number of films released.

The three cinema heavyweights were followed by eight countries that produced more than 100 films: Japan (417), China (330), France (203), Germany (174), Spain (150), Italy (116), South Korea (110) and the United Kingdom (104). (via Nigeria surpasses Hollywood as world’s second largest film producer – UN).

Ahead of Hollywood, behind only after Bollywood, as the Indian film industry has become known.

In 2006 Nigeria made 872 films (in video format, with about half of them in English), about 200 less than Bollywood and roughly 400 more than Hollywood.

Nigerian films took off in the early 1990s, helped by the availability of cheap video technology. Already massive in Africa, Nollywood is now gaining a reputation elsewhere. (via Nollywood comes of age – FT.com)

Rather surprising, when the larger Chinese market is having difficulties. Hong Kong, which led Chinese film-making from front is in trouble.

In the mid-90s, the Hong Kong film industry ate itself alive. In 1993, it had produced a record 238 films and its doyen director, John Woo, was about to dive, twin guns aflame, through Hollywood’s doors. Six years later, production had crashed to just 40 films a year and not even the local triad gangs could prevent their own films from being pirated: there were bootlegs VCDs on sale everywhere of Casino, a gangster pic about and financed by the notorious Macau hoodlum, “Broken Tooth” Koi. (via Back in action: the fall and rise of Hong Kong film | Film | guardian.co.uk).

German publication, Der Spiegel wrote of

Nollywood is the massive, pulsating film industry in Nigeria, which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared the world’s second-largest film industry, after India’s Bollywood, based on the number of films produced.

Mysterious puzzle

How did Nollywood leave Hollywood behind?

Without the benefit of funding or technology, that Hollywood has? Nollywood has achieved, what ‘advanced’ economies like the British, German, French, have failed at.

Sustain a viable, domestic film industry.

Even the oil-rich Islamic world, equally, has little to show. For instance, the film industry in Iran, Turkey, Egypt has sputtered for decades – without success. Pakistani film industry has been slowly asphyxiated as the ruling elites deny their Indic roots.

As have the Japanese and the Chinese.

The surprising growth of the Nigerian industry, without State support, direction or promotion, seems to be rooted in a deeper cultural streams than the apparent coincidences. Africans want to hear different stories, told differently and Nollywood directors

make films with plotlines that reflect the rapidly changing political and cultural climate, often weaving in aspects of current events. Whether revolving around corruption, prostitution, folkloric legends, HIV/AIDS, cautionary tales, romantic comedies or even epic period pieces about slavery and civil wars, the films present an unfiltered view of African culture, intended for an African audience.

As Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima, founder of the Africa Movie Academy Awards, puts it in This Is Nollywood, “It’s not about quality at the moment.… Africa still has people living on $1 a day, and these are the people that really watch these films.” (via Nigerian Film Industry Mixes Digital Tech, Homegrown Scripts).

Drawing deeply from the well-springs of their civilization, film industries seem to die out, when cut from their inspiration.

And what are Nollywood’s inspiration?

A typical story line went something like this: poor boy meets rich girl; they fall in love; rich girl’s parents strongly disapprove of union; boy and girl fight all obstacles and true love prevails in the end. Other typical story lines included voodoo tales, historical epics, religious conflicts and economic hardship.

The average flick sold over 50,000 copies. Some even sold as many as several hundred thousand, while a few hit a million. And at $1.50 per disc, they were affordable for most Nigerians and generated astounding returns for the producers. (via Hollywood, Meet Nollywood – Forbes).

Adding to this melee is the Christian Church, saving Nigerian souls from getting corrupted

Fire-and-brimstone evangelical preachers set up keyboards and microphones in the middle of the street to save souls, only adding to the chaos.

Bollywood & Nollywood

Thoughly vastly different in form, and substance, there are some who think that Bollywood and Nollywood may have similarities. Some Nollywood viewers from West Indies, now living in America are

struck by the similar good-versus-evil themes often found in the Indian Bollywood film genre she became fond of growing up.

Borrowing the style and structure of American soap operas and Bollywood films, Nigerian movies had gained popularity across sub-Saharan Africa by the mid-1990s, even in French-speaking countries.

Many African intellectuals dismiss the movies for playing up witchcraft, which they argue perpetuates negative Western stereotypes of Africans, said Onookome Okome, an English professor at the University of Alberta and author of the forthcoming book, “Anxiety of the Local: From Traveling Theatre to Popular Video Films in Nigeria.”

Some film experts remain skeptical that the Nigerian movies will penetrate the broader U.S. market. Jonathan Haynes, a Long Island University professor and author of the book, “Nigerian Video Films,” noted the films’ heavy emphasis on the supernatural and said, “Culturally, they’re from someplace else.” (via Nigeria On-Screen – washingtonpost.com).

“That can seem weird to Americans, especially if it’s not being cast as part of some traditional African past,” Haynes said. “It’s an acquired taste.”(via Nigeria On-Screen – washingtonpost.com).

Even Hollywood is an acquired taste, sir. Distaste comes from too much of this acquired taste. Ask me.

Looking for Nollywood roots, outside from ancient African culture, one is stuck by Nigeria’s post-colonial literary success.

Nigeria has perhaps the most distinguished literary tradition in Africa; Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri and Ken Saro-Wiwa are the best-known writers, but it is clear that Nigeria’s home video industry has no pretensions to high art. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | guardian.co.uk).

Looking for threads of narratives and the dominant themes, Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood occupy different spaces altogether.

If Hollywood’s forte is jaw-dropping spectacle and Bollywood’s is heart-warming musical slush, then Nollywood’s special draw is a genre that might be described as the voodoo horror flick: films that revolve around witchcraft and demonic possession. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | guardian.co.uk).

After years of consuming foreign fare, Nigerian film-makers have finely chiselled their theme – away from other global narratives of Hollywood and Bollywood.

Ultimately, it’s the way the films are crafted, rather than their juicy content that gives them universal appeal, says Fry. “The storytelling is so good. Nigerian filmmakers really know how to entertain their audiences. They’ve studied the populist genres from other countries – Bollywood musicals, low-budget horror and Brazilian soap operas, for example – and reworked these to appeal to anyone with a love of drama.”

The process is tried and tested, and the main reason Nollywood is currently in such rude health, but how long can it stay that way? It’s hard to see how an industry that prides itself on producing so much in so little time won’t start to lose its momentum in the coming years. (via Hooray for Nollywood! | Film | guardian.co.uk).

How does Nollywood do so much, in so little time – and so little money.

Necessity – The mother of invention

Film production in Nigeria, is a different story.

The market traders control Nollywood to this day. They make films for home consumption rather than for the cinema—a place few can afford, or reach easily. DVD discs sell for a dollar. Print runs can reach a million. Studios, both in the physical and the corporate sense of the term, are unknown. There are no lots, no sound stages and no trailers for the stars. There are no studios and no film lots. Market traders double as financiers

“Films are made on the run, sometimes literally,” says Emem Isong, one of Nigeria’s few female producers, during a shoot. “Some of the guys are hiding from the police.”

All scenes are shot on location and with a shoestring budget of no more than $100,000. Most of the financiers are based in a vast, chaotic market called Idumota. It is a maze within a labyrinth. Crowds push through narrow, covered alleys. The sound of honking motorbikes is drowned out by blaring television sets showing film trailers. The flickering screens light up dim stalls lined with thousands of DVDs on narrow wooden shelves. (via Nollywood: Lights, camera, Africa | The Economist).

The Alaba market for Nollywood DVDs. |  Image source & courtesy - techcrunch.com  |  Click for larger source image.

The Alaba market for Nollywood DVDs. | Image source & courtesy - techcrunch.com | Click for larger source image.

The rise and rise of Nollywood

As Nollywood nailed its formula of TV screens, direct retail to the audiences, Africa-themed stories, acceptance and growth has been phenomenal.

Nigeria is home to one of the world’s youngest film industries, but it’s booming. In just 13 years it has gone from nothing to estimated earnings of US$200m (£114m) a year – making it the world’s third biggest film industry after that of America and India. The films are made on the cheap, but they are big box office.

Except that there is no box office, of course. In Nollywood, as it has inevitably been dubbed, movies are shot on video and copied straight on to tapes or DVDs and then sold on from thousands of street stalls and hole-in-the-wall shops, not just in Nigeria but across the continent, as well to the African diaspora via markets in the west.

“They sell a lot of our films in Peckham and in Dalston market [in London],” says Paul Obazele, the veteran producer.

Empty claim? How global is Nollywood.

an entrepreneur named Jason Njoku (whose) parents are Nigerian, but he grew up in the United Kingdom. Entranced with Nollywood a few years ago and bored with London, he moved here, stunning his family and friends. He started Iroko Partners to catalog this vast Nollywood inventory and give it a new global distribution life on the Web. It sounds like a recipe for a city boy to get fleeced, but so far that hasn’t been the case.

Njoku spent weeks trolling the Alaba markets introducing himself to producers and trying to explain to them how a YouTube channel could be an answer for revenues, not simply another channel for the pirates to steal their intellectual property. Once he sold a few of the bigger ones like Ulzee, word spread and more producers piled in. Just four months in to his business, Njoku has bought the online rights to 500 movies from 100 different one-man production houses. Last month his YouTube channel had 1.1 million uniques, 8 million streams, and is on pace to do more than $1 million in revenues this year from YouTube ads. (via You Think Hollywood Is Rough? Welcome to the Chaos, Excitement and Danger of Nollywood | TechCrunch).

What are Nollywood themes? How different are these stories?

So, what did I glean from titles such as Sharon Stone in Abuja, Beyonce: The President’s Daughter, Good Mother and Blood Billionaires 1 and 2? (Most titles have at least one sequel). A lot.

Good girls can lose their way in Lagos, village values trump city truths, corruption is rife, witchcraft is everywhere, and stepmothers are bad news. And every man in Lagos, as one character told his wife, has a mistress. These films were peopled by poor village women, business men in Mercedes and hardy entrepreneurs.

These were tales of love, money and betrayal. Buried within these at times fantastic stories were, I thought as the passengers around me laughed and groaned in recognition, African realities. (via Nollywood comes of age – FT.com).

What do viewers make of these films?

The movies can be read as fantasies; they allow the powerless to feel vicariously powerful. The stories tell of poor men getting rich, of errant husbands who find their penises shrinking, of love rivals who go blind or crazy and end up running naked and shrieking into the streets.

Not all Nollywood movies are about the occult, of course. Nigeria is a country of startling inequality; in Lagos, skinny fishermen in pirogues skim past the skyscrapers of Victoria Island, the palm-studded local equivalent of Manhattan, and slums sprawl under flyovers. But as is true of Bollywood, Nollywood likes to eschew the grit of everyday life for a more upbeat vision.

As well as occult movies, and gangster movies, another popular genre involves straightforwardly aspirational tales. American Dream is typical. it’s the story of a driven advertising executive who falls in love with an American woman and then jeopardises his high-flying career with increasingly desperate attempts to get a visa for America.

Nigeria’s home video industry has no pretensions to high art. What it’s all about is money. Nollywood movies were originally financed by importers of blank video tapes as a way of promoting sales of their product – and commerce remains king.

The heart of the story

Getting to know Nollywood, the usual and

first point of call in Surulere is the home of one of the most prolific and successful Nollywood directors, Lancelot ‘the Governor’ Imasuen, whose unbroken record of blockbusters includes such titles as Last Burial, August Meeting, Games Men Play, Games Women Play, Games Men Play 2, and Games Women Play 2.

‘I recently had the pleasure of shooting a film in Hollywood,’ Imasuen tells me. ‘And I told them, “I want you to know that 75 per cent of your budget and timing is wasted! Sixty days to shoot a film!”‘ He looks shocked, bemused. ‘How many working hours are actually in those 60 days? It’s all razzmatazz. You see endless trucks and trailers parked on their locations. How much of this equipment is actually used in the process of making films? You see, in Nollywood, what we’ve done is to do away with all that excess; what we’ve done is to simplify the process of making films.’

With its potholed roads teeming with industrious street vendors, feral urchins, and extraordinarily brave commuters – perched calmly on the back seats of the motorbike taxis nicknamed, with morbid irony, ‘Okada’ after a now defunct airline – Surulere is the birthplace and headquarters of Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry. A far cry from Beverly Hills, Surulere is home to the Nollywood elite – the top producers, directors, marketers, distributors and some of the stars of an industry that has been blazingly successful where successive administrations, guided by the expert and combined wisdom of the IMF and the World Bank, have failed: not only is it a viable industry, it is the second biggest employer in Nigeria.

Although this is hotly contested, Nollywood saw its inauspicious beginnings in Living in Bondage: a tawdry, ineptly shot, earnestly didactic ‘home video’ that unleashed itself on the world in 1992. Many commentators believe Nollywood was born after the television industry stopped making popular dramas, which were infinitely better than the first several hundred Nollywood films.

Living in Bondage, filmed in Igbo, one of Nigeria’s languages, with English subtitles, had just the right mix of all the ingredients of a great soap opera

My first point of call in Surulere is the home of one of the most prolific and successful Nollywood directors, Lancelot ‘the Governor’ Imasuen, whose unbroken record of blockbusters includes such titles as Last Burial, August Meeting, Games Men Play, Games Women Play, Games Men Play 2, and Games Women Play 2.

‘I recently had the pleasure of shooting a film in Hollywood,’ Imasuen tells me. ‘And I told them, “I want you to know that 75 per cent of your budget and timing is wasted! Sixty days to shoot a film!”‘ He looks shocked, bemused. ‘How many working hours are actually in those 60 days? It’s all razzmatazz. You see endless trucks and trailers parked on their locations. How much of this equipment is actually used in the process of making films? You see, in Nollywood, what we’ve done is to do away with all that excess; what we’ve done is to simplify the process of making films.’

Imasuen, a theatre arts graduate, is shooting from the hip. Behind the braggadocio, though, lurk the aspirations of a filmmaker and a lover of film whose aspirations are embodied in what he had just pooh-poohed. ‘I had an experience in America recently,’ he says. ‘I went to Paramount Studios and was taken on a tour. I almost fainted at the sheer scale of it, the size of the place, the sound stages, the backlots. And I thought, Is this what they’re comparing us to? But we’ll get there, I promise you. We’ll get there.’

In a career spanning 12 years, the 36-year-old director has helmed more than 150 films – an average of one a month. (And there I was thinking Woody Allen was prolific.)

With its potholed roads teeming with industrious street vendors, feral urchins, and extraordinarily brave commuters – perched calmly on the back seats of the motorbike taxis nicknamed, with morbid irony, ‘Okada’ after a now defunct airline – Surulere is the birthplace and headquarters of Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry. A far cry from Beverly Hills, Surulere is home to the Nollywood elite – the top producers, directors, marketers, distributors and some of the stars of an industry that has been blazingly successful where successive administrations, guided by the expert and combined wisdom of the IMF and the World Bank, have failed: not only is it a viable industry, it is the second biggest employer in Nigeria. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | guardian.co.uk).

About 30 new titles arrive weekly at Lagos’s giant open-air markets, where canvas banners with gaudy portraits of movie stars flap above the mediaeval hubbub. A new movie costs the equivalent of £1.80 to buy, and only about 27p to rent from a video club.

For the most part, Nigerians are proud of their movie industry and other African nations are envious. “I think there’s a lot of things that converge to make this possible in Nigeria,” says Femi Odugbemi, president of the Independent Television Producers’ Association. “By tradition, we’re a storytelling people. We have more than 230 languages, different cultures, all unique in themselves.”

Nigeria is an African giant – it is the continent’s most populous nation, with 133 million people. But it’s also a country that appears to be constantly on the verge of a breakdown. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | The Guardian).

Nollywood has travelled far in its 15 years of existence. Its revenues are estimated to be over $250m a year and its films – all digitally shot – have a captive audience of 600 million Africans and millions more in the diaspora, particularly in the Caribbean and even here in the UK. There are few places in south-east London, the heart of the Nigerian community in Britain, where there isn’t a Nollywood DVD stall. The cable channel BEN shows several of these films every night.

After Hollywood and Bollywood, Nollywood is the world’s third-biggest film-producing industry. It has achieved this impressive feat without subsidy or investment and – fortunately perhaps – without attracting the faintest glimmer of interest from the Nigerian government or any NGO. It has a long way to go to achieve its dream of catching up with Mumbai or Los Angeles, but it is perfectly capable of doing so. The will is there. And at the rate it’s going, soon, so will be the means. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | guardian.co.uk).

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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.

Turning points in 20th century history

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Gold Reserves, History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on November 19, 2010
A poster advertising life of the "Abonos Nitrato de Chile" (Fertilizer Nitrate of Chile), 1930.

A poster advertising life of the "Abonos Nitrato de Chile" (Fertilizer Nitrate of Chile), 1930.

Gunpowder monopoly ends

Towards the end of 19th century, newly discovered nitrate deposits (sodium nitrate) in the Atacama desert of Chile came onto world markets. Chile’s nitrates were a crucial intermediate for gunpowder.

Chile’s nitrates broke the British monopoly over the trade in Indian saltpetre for the first time in modern history. French domestic production of saltpetre, barely enough for their own needs, could not challenge Indian saltpetre output that the British monopolized.

Indian saltpetre (potassium nitrate) could be simply refined and used directly in gunpowder – unlike Chilean nitrates. Also Chilean nitrates were limited natural deposits, whereas Indian saltpetre was produced on an industrial scale, accounting for some 70% of global production.

Germans quickly secured supplies of Chilean nitrates. A few years into the WWI, Germans brought the Haber-Bosch process from the laboratory stage to industrial production. The Haber-Bosch process for production of ammonia, gave Germans industrial capacity to produce gunpowder.

Causes for WW1

With this industrial capacity for gunpowder in place, Germany and Turkey, both non-colonial, industrialized powers challenged colonial powers, Britain and France, for access to world markets.

Diagram showing the world nitrogen quantities ...

Image via Wikipedia

The breakup of the Islamic Turkish Ottoman Empire was long seen (1890-1920) as an outcome essential for continued Anglo-French hegemony.

Funding WWI

Against Britain and France, the then dominant world powers, with extensive colonies, were Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire out of Turkey. Once WWI started, US funded both Britain and France. The US plied the Anglo-French alliance with extensive supplies and credit.

Emergence of USA

While millions died in European trenches, the USA bided its time. With mud, blood and disease taking a heavy toll, Britain, France, Germany, Turkey and Russia were soon exhausted and prostrate into a stalemate by the end of 1916. As the fate of WWI hung in balance, USA finally joined the Anglo-French side to gain a share of spoils.

 A soldier evacuated from the battlefront on a stretcher during WW1 - Image courtesy - bbc.co.uk. Click for larger image.

A soldier evacuated from the battlefront on a stretcher during WW1 - Image courtesy - bbc.co.uk. Click for larger image.

Financially unaffected, industrially strong, militarily effective, the US emerged on the world stage.

Post-WW1

Soon after WWI, as Anglo-French colonies and markets started opening up, US products gained new customers. Indians started buying Chevrolets, Buicks, Packards in small numbers. Victrolas started playing music in India – and on India. Michelin’s radial tyres from France became a byword in India for long-life. Indian natural rubber started going to Italy’s Pirelli and France’s Michelin.

Impoverishment of India

But Britain, a victorious nation was deep in debt – to USA and Colonial India. US emerged as the largest creditor nation. To settle these wartime debts, debtor Britain and creditor USA worked out a debt-repayment ‘mechanism’. Nothing but financial jugglery, this mechanism slashed the amount due to Colonial India and actually transferred the debt-burden of WW1 onto the backs of Indian peasant.

To settle this debt, Britain took recourse to gold from India. To give impetus to this transaction US supplied Britain with silver – then in abundant supply, in the form of US silver currency coins. This silver was ‘sold’ to Britain at double the market price – under the guise of the Pittman Act. Britain paid its wartime debt to India with this silver – at this inflated Pittman Act price. Abundant silver coins were stuck by the Colonial Raj, which are still available across India in large quantities.

To settle loans taken from USA to fight WW1, Britain extracted scarce gold from India. While payments for Indian exports were made in overpriced silver, the Indian peasant was forced to pay for imports and taxes in under-priced gold.

Starving Indian woman with swollen ankles & feet because she suffers from dropsy as young daughter stands by with swollen belly from hunger during famine crisis. (Photographer - Margaret Bourke-White; Date taken-1946; picture courtesy - life.com). Click for larger image.

Starving Indian woman with swollen ankles & feet because she suffers from dropsy as young daughter stands by with swollen belly from hunger during famine crisis. (Photographer - Margaret Bourke-White; Date taken-1946; picture courtesy - life.com). Click for larger image.

Due to this overpriced silver-under-priced gold combination, a surge in gold outflows started from India. Soon the US banking system was flush with liquidity.

Great Depression

Expecting the closed markets of Anglo-French colonies to open up, US economy expanded trade relations and industrial capacity. This expansion in trade and production of industrial goods was funded partly on the back of inflows of gold from India through Britain.

Finally though, protective barriers did not come down substantially enough – creating industrial over-capacity and excess liquidity in USA. Seeing ‘irresponsible’ bankers, waste ‘hard-earned’ gold on ill-planned trade expansion and production capacities, the US Federal Reserve clamped down on liquidity.

Great Depression followed. To ‘save’ gold-reserves, Roosevelt went further and nationalized gold.

Crime in the 20th century

In turn, Roosevelt’s gold nationalization, sparked a global crime tsunami. Only after the easing of restrictions on gold ownership by 1990, did the crime tsunami subside. The axis of this tsunami of crime was gold smuggling into India and narcotics trans-shipment through India.

A tsunami that engulfed all major economies of the world.

WW2

Unresolved issues of WW1 triggered WW2. Germany hemmed in from all sides by British client-states, unable to find markets for its industrial production,  reacted.

Germany, allied with Japan and Italy, proposed creation of larger ‘home’ markets. This was to be done by ‘expanding’ their own borders – to include neighboring countries. As first steps, on 3 October 1935 Italy invaded Abyssinia, now Ethiopia, Germany on 11-12 March, 1938, swallowed Austria; and Japan occupied Manchuria.

The basic assumptions of all the European powers, Japan and the USA were the same. The Confucian-Platonic ideal of superior, wise rulers who ruled over ‘inferior’ peoples.

These militant powers shared the same disregard for human life. Britain wreaked havoc by creating The Great Bengal Famine. Some 40-50 lakh (4-5 millions) Indians died. Hitler rained the Holocaust on the Jews. Some 50-60 lakh (5-6 million) Jews died.

Same difference.

Three faces of stagnation

Production capacity of non-OECD world was destroyed by years of colonialism, WW1 and WW2. Economic conditions after WW2 improved due to relative peace and as countries of the world started rebuilding their economies in the last 60 years (1950-2010).

The last 60 years has seen significant increase in industrial capacity of non-OECD nations. US extended supplier’s credit – using the US dollar, the favored currency of the Bretton Woods system.

A significant portion of economic expansion of OECD economies during 1950-1980 happened as production capacity of the world was rebuilt. The same capacities that were destroyed by colonialism, WW1 and WW2 – especially during 1850-1950 period.

WW3?

This creation of production capacity in non-OECD countries means economic stagnation and loss of political power for a few decades across OECD. With greater production capacity in the hands of non-OECD producers,  production capacity in OECD-USA must shrink.

Or a WW3 will be ‘needed’ to destroy the production systems of the poorest countries – to ‘save’ the West-OECD.

Creating false agenda's has become a full time job in the West with specialist think-tanks, media organisations and PR firms. (cartoon courtesy - http://polyp.org.uk). Click for larger image.

Creating false agenda's has become a full time job in the West with specialist think-tanks, media organisations and PR firms. (cartoon courtesy - http://polyp.org.uk). Click for larger image.

Red herrings

To get around this ‘problem’ of stagnation, the West has created artificial ‘crisis’ situations.

  1. Population Explosion
  2. Global Warming and climate change
  3. Civil Wars in Africa
  4. Islamic Demonization
  5. Terrorism
  6. Financial meltdowns

Complicating the current situation is the US currency mechanism, called USCAP (by 2ndlook) which favors selected US allies with advantageous exchange rates. China, Asian Tigers, Japan and NATO-Europe have gained significantly from the USCAP program.

The most notable loss due to trade distortion has been Africa’s.

Power Corrupts

During the 20th century, the world had to contend with an intolerable situation. The Anglo-Saxon Bloc (America, Australia, Britain and Canada) accounted for 80% of gold production (between 1200-1800 tons per annum) and controlled 80% of global gold reserves (around 100,000 tons circa  1920) also. Not even Chengez Khan had that kind of control over global economy.

Dawn of a new century

Things change.

At the beginning of 21st century, gold reserves in the hands of all the nation-States, are at a historic low. All the Governments in the world own less than 20%, i.e. 30,000 tons from global gold reserves of 150,000 tonnes.

Another 5 years of aggressive gold buying by global consumers will see this down to possibly 15%-17%. This will severely limit the ability of any State to wage a prolonged war.

A collapse of the currency systems in the world is imminent – in the next 5-15 years. Gold may give super-normal returns in the face of such an event.

Desert Twins - Westernization and Jihad. Problems both!

Desert Twins - Westernization and Jihad. Problems both!

Desert Bloc – beginning of the end?

The 20th century possibly saw the Desert Bloc reach its high-point. The world fully understands the bankruptcy of the Desert Bloc – and it may take some time for the effects of Desert Bloc propaganda to wear off.

Celebrations may, however, be premature. The alternate to Desert Bloc politics – भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra is yet to regain traction.

Emerging India – ‘Immi-grunt’ supplier to English speaking world

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, History, India, Media, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on October 31, 2010
The Komagata Maru in Vancouver harbor, surrounded by police boats. (Picture courtesy - bhagatsinghthind.com.) Click for larger picture.

The Komagata Maru in Vancouver harbor, surrounded by police boats. (Picture courtesy - bhagatsinghthind.com.) Click for larger picture.

Brave, new world?

On May 23, 1914, a Japanese tramp steamship, S.S. Komagata Maru, steamed into Burrard Inlet, near Vancouver, Canada. Chartered to carry a few hundred Indian immigrants into Canada, it arrived with a list of some 376 immigrant-passengers – mostly Sikh. The Canadian Government decided that these Indian-immigrants were not White enough – and disallowed entry into Canada.

When asked to sail out of Canadian waters, mutinous Indian passengers relieved the Japanese captain of the command. The Canadian authorities engaged a tug-boat, Sea Lion to tow the ship back into international waters. Sent back to India, the ship departed from Canada on July 23 and landed at Kolkatta (then Calcutta) on September 27th – only to be harassed by the British Raj. 26 of the passengers who returned to India were executed by the British.

Indians in Canada and USA, from the Ghadar movement, like Barkatullah, Tarak Nath Das (of letter to Tolstoy fame), and Sohan Singh publicised the incident giving momentum to the Ghadar movement for a massive uprising in India – against the British Raj. More than 90 years later, the Canadian authorities apologized.

Photograph of the SS Komagata Maru

SS Komagata Maru - Image via Wikipedia

One of the passengers on Komagata Maru was Jagat Singh Thind. His brother was Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind – an Indian-immigrant to the USA. Bhagat Singh Thind further tested immigration laws in the West – this time in the USA. Bhagat Singh Thind’s bid for US citizenship-by-naturalization finally landed at the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court rejected Bhagat Sngh Thind’s claim saying,

It may be true that the blond Scandinavian and the brown Hindu have a common ancestor in the dim reaches of antiquity, but the average man knows perfectly well that there are unmistakable and profound differences between them today … Our own history has witnessed the adoption of the English tongue by millions of Negroes, whose descendants can never be classified racially with the descendants of white persons notwithstanding both may speak a common root language … What we now hold is that the words “free white persons” are words of common speech, to be interpreted in accordance with the understanding of the common man, synonymous with the word “Caucasian” only as that word is popularly understood.

whatever may be the speculations of the ethnologist, it does not include the body of people to whom the appellee [Thind] belongs. It is a matter of familiar observation and knowledge that the physical group characteristics of the Hindus render them readily distinguishable from the various groups of persons in this country commonly recognized as white. The children of English, French, German, Italian, Scandinavian, and other European parentage, quickly merge into the mass of our population and lose the distinctive hallmarks of their European origin. On the other hand, it cannot be doubted that the children born in this country of Hindu parents would retain indefinitely the clear evidence of their ancestry. It is very far from our thought to suggest the slightest question of racial superiority or inferiority. What we suggest is merely racial difference, and it is of such character and extent that the great body of our people instinctively recognize it and reject the thought of assimilation. (excerpts from judgment on United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind 261 U.S. 204 (1923); delivered by Associate Justice George Sutherland; parts excized for brevity; text within […] supplied for clarity.).

Escaping to the West is an option ... for some!

Escaping to the West is an option ... for some! Click for larger image

In the post-War world

After WWII, with more than 50 million dead in Europe, European immigration to the US dried up. Without much ado, USA changed its immigration policy. Simultaneously, African-American activism created a market for Welfare Reform. The expanding Welfare State in the USA, created labour shortages. Many among the poor in USA, on welfare, soon stopped full-time work altogether. Faced with acute labour shortages, the West needed to something – and fast.

Back home, in India

Coinciding with this on the opposite side of the world was JN Nehru, trying to build ‘temples of modern India‘.

IIT-Chennai and Kharagpur with German collaboration were kick-started; IIT-Mumbai with assistance from UNESCO and the Soviet Union. The Anglo-Saxon Bloc jumped onto this bandwagon. They decided to ‘help’ India by setting up more IITs and IIMs. IIT-Kanpur, with US-aid in 1960; and IIT-Delhi with UK-assistance in 1961 followed. IIM-Calcutta with collaboration from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. More recently, to keep this flow coming into the US, American companies have tied up for virtual classrooms.

The Resident Non-Indians are a part of the problem.

The Resident Non-Indians are a part of the problem. Click for larger image.

And where do graduates from these centres go? Need I answer!

The Anglo-Saxon Bloc pushed disguised labour-recruitment programs as development aid. For instance, the Colombo Plan was pushed in the sub-continent – by the US, UK, Canada and Australia to bring English speaking populations of the Indian sub-continent up to scratch, for use by the Anglo-Saxon Bloc.

Ten years after … the Colombo Plan, … the four advanced countries who are members of the Plan, namely, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Canada … member countries, which have good training facilities to offer, are willing to make them available to others that still lack them. Under the Colombo Plan Technical Cooperation … training is provided at the cost of the host Government. (via This day that age-The Hindu; parts excised for brevity and clarity.).

The USA overturned Thind vs US Govt judgment by the US Supreme Court. As a result of this policy tweak, Indian students suddenly were welcome to the USA. Earlier, the US Supreme Court, in Thind vs US Govt supported US Government immigration policies which barred Asian immigration.

Suddenly Indians could land at USA shores and airports as immigrants. Soon, for Indians, USA became: –

  1. A liberal, egalitarian, non-racist society – based on meritocracy. A land of opportunity.
  2. Eager, grateful, hard-working, no-questions asked, English speaking, qualified, low-cost employees became available to US industry.
  3. US gained brownie points on global platforms in a world fighting the Cold War. A leg-up to USA propaganda.
  4. On the slippery slope of post-colonial India, the IITs and IIMs gave USA diplomatic traction in India.
  5. Net result – The most apparent result. 2.5 million Indians have come to occupy 10% of high-income, high-end jobs, professions, positions, careers in the USA, making them the richest sub-group in modern USA.
  6. All this at zero cost to the US taxpayer. The entirely amount was to the account of the Indian taxpayer.
  7. The Indian taxpayer is left with a 7% fiscal deficit. And Government debt equal to 60% of GDP debt.
  8. It provided USA with a steady stream of workers. US got it work-force from India. The expat and immigrant Indian workforce has become the richest sub-group in India.
With sucess at home, NRIs are not as hot as they once were!

With success at home, NRIs are not as hot as they once were!

Immi-grunts

Many ‘desi‘ Indians who migrate, believing that they can expect ‘superior’ systems in the West. All that these ‘desi‘ ’immi-grunts’ have to then do is take ‘advantage’ of opportunities in the West – they believe! Is it surprising that these ‘desi’ Indian ‘immi-grunts’ hit ‘glass-ceilings’, encounter ‘racism’?

Nation-building is a tough job – and someone’s gotta to do it! We can’t ‘escape from backward’ India to the ‘forward’ West. Not without becoming second-class citizens. The Indian ‘immi-grunt’ has seen some level of acceptance – after India itself achieved some modicum of success.

Importance of Indian immi-grunts to the US of A

Each year, India loses more than 1,00,000 doctors, engineers, other post graduates to the US alone and another 3,00,000 to other Western countries – commonly, referred to as ‘brain drain.’

To get a real handle on this number, project this number to the 25-65 age group in the USA. India currently sends 100,000 students and professionals, every year to the USA. With lesser numbers earlier, there are nearly 2.0-3.0 million Indians – mostly highly qualified, between the ages of 25-65 – holding up the US industry.

Opportunistic use of 'immi-grunts'!

Opportunistic use of 'immi-grunts'?

To get a perspective, assume that a worker is a tax paying worker. The IRS of the USA processed under 100.5 million individual tax returns – from a US population of 300.5 million. Thus, these highly skilled Indians are 2 million of the 100 million tax-paying workers – approximately 2% of the total US working population.

If we further gate people typically, white-collar workers, high technology work force, earning more than US$ 100,000 per annum, we are at about 20-30 million Americans (24% of US taxpayers). Put that way, Indians comprise an estimated 8%-12% of the highly qualified and (highly paid) workforce in the US. What would the US have done without this skilled and qualified labour force? Is it surprising that Bill Gates lobbies for H1B visas for Indians?

This message is not lost to others. Businessweek reported how even “the French and German governments, faced with declining numbers of engineers, are trying to attract grads through exchange programs.” More recently, Australia recruited, under a migration scheme of the Australian government, nearly 450 technicians (plumbers, masons, carpenters, electricians and heavy and light-vehicle mechanics) from the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) at Pune.

Give me your tired, your poor whites, Your huddled white masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched white refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the white homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp for these whites beside the golden door. - The real meaning of Emma Lazarus words.

Give me your tired, your poor whites, Your huddled white masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched white refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the white homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp for these whites beside the golden door. - The real meaning of Emma Lazarus words.

Remittances

As an article pointed out, India does not gain from these high-skill workers. Unlike

“less skilled workers, highly educated professionals tend to account for little in terms of remittances. Skilled Indian professionals in the U.S. have also failed, by and large, to contribute large levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) required by India. In contrast, China, which along with India is the largest exporter of students to the U.S., has greatly benefited in this regard from its skilled emigrants. The Financial Times (January 18, 2003) noted that China “has managed to attract 10 times more FDI than India on the back of strong in-flows from the Chinese diaspora.”

Interestingly, the IITs and their web sites are coy about the number of alumni who go abroad to study and work. Despite receiving substantial budgetary allocations from the Central government, the failure to collect systematically data on the sensitive point of the brain drain suggests an attitude of non-transparency. IIT managements and alumni networks tend to avoid initiating a public debate on the destination of IIT graduates and who benefits directly from the IIT system. (From The IIT Story: Issues and Concerns By KANTA MURALI; Frontline magazine.).

India is proud of its English language heritage - while English language itself is a declining force.

India is proud of its English language heritage - while English language itself is a declining force.

Chains made of words

What is making this easy is the subsidy given to higher education in English by the Government of India (GOI). This system of English language education turns out near-perfect candidates for absorption by the West.

Will India’s new generation get the perspective?

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