2ndlook

Where would India be without the British Raj

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

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

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

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

After the guns fell silent

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

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

Trouble from unexpected quarters

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

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

Flamed out

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

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

Be afraid ... very afraid

Be afraid ... very afraid

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

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

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

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

Please!

The debt that India owes Britain

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

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

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

How can we ever repay this debt.

Or the great benefit of English language.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A blog reader responds

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

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

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

Whatcha say …

The Detritus

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

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

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

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

70 years later, RBI remains true to its DNA

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Environment, European History, Gold Reserves, History, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on January 22, 2009
An bankrupt West is a bad economic model to follow. RBI in the last 3-5 years has shown some independence in policy matters - finally. (Cartoon courtesy - bhra.files.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

An bankrupt West is a bad economic model to follow. RBI in the last 3-5 years has shown some independence in policy matters - finally. (Cartoon courtesy - bhra.files.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

there is a curious aspect to the Indian economic System (defined as commentators, policy makers, and academicians). The System systematically thinks in a skewed fashion, and unlike any other System in the world. In particular, it is trigger happy to bring the economy to a screeching halt by raising interest rates, but asleep at the wheel when the economy is in desperate shape — e.g. confidence at historic lows, industrial growth at zero, and exports diving over a cliff. (via Surjit Bhalla: Lazy banking at its finest).

It is not so curious Mr.Bhalla. You only have to look at the history of RBI formation and its objective. Fact is RBI has not outgrown its colonial DNA.

April Fool Joke – The RBI

On April 1st, 1934, while the ‘Squeeze India’ campaign was under execution – and being choreographed by Montagu Norman, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and Lord Willingdon, RBI, India’s banking authority was set up. From that April Fool’s day till now, RBI character has not changed. It remains isolated, out of touch with the India – and looks at India through colonial viewing glasses.

First things, first …

RBI and the Colonial India Government initiated many reports on the ‘condition’ of the Indian economy. Based on these reports, they passed many of the laws restricting money lending activities. These reports – Central Banking Enquiry Committee (CBEC) report (1929) and its associated Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee reports (of Assam, Bombay, Burma, Ceylon, Central Provinces, Bengal, Punjab, et al) of which the Madras Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee (MPBEC) report is cited by lazy academics and out-moded bureaucratsas authoritative – even in post-colonial era.

Western economies have been hiding their economic stagnation for the last 10 years by handing out loans to voters, industry and banks. For how long can this system work? Cartoon by Michael Ramirez. Click for larger image.

Western economies have been hiding their economic stagnation for the last 10 years by handing out loans to voters, industry and banks. For how long can this system work? Cartoon by Michael Ramirez. Click for larger image.

Based on these reports co-ordinated by the RBI, Debt Conciliation Acts were passed between 1933 and 1936 by the governments of Assam, Bengal, Central Provinces and Berar, Madras and Punjab; the Punjab Regulation of Accounts Act (1930) and the Debtors Protection Acts of 1935 and other such burdensome laws buried the money lender in mountains of paperwork and licenses. These laws required money lenders to comply with extensive and prolonged compulsory licensing and registration – and extensive recording of transactions and accounts.

What these laws achieved was what was desired – a license for police and other ‘inspectors’ to start an extortion racket from money lenders (these days called corruption). A bureaucrat from colonial Punjab, Malcolm Darling (1925) shedding crocodile tears stated “the Indian peasant is born in debt, lives in debt and dies in debt” became a by line for tarring the money lender – while the cause was extractive, colonial revenue practices.

Options foreclosed

While the world was reeling under a crisis of the Great Depression, these restrictions on money lending foreclosed the liquidity option for the Indian peasant, which would have averted the gold outflow from India and the impoverishment of the Indian peasant. With this legalized persecution, money lenders’ activities were curtailed all over India.

RBI joined in this hounding of the money lenders – which continues to this day. The Bengal Burma link of the ages was broken. Chettiar money lenders were thrown out of Burma. From being a granary of Asia, Burma started declining – and there was no rice for exports. Result – The Bengal Famine of 1943. Tally – 40-50 lakh deaths. Similarly, the role of Chettiars in Singapore was wiped clean.

Subhash Chandra Bose's diplomatic initiatives left the British War efforts nervous and anxious. (Image sources - hindustantimes.com). Click for source image.

Subhash Chandra Bose's diplomatic initiatives left the British War efforts nervous and anxious. (Image sources - hindustantimes.com). Click for source image.

After the fall of Singapore, and the rapid Japanese advance, with Subhash Chandra Bose in the vicinity, a revolt by Bengal would have had catastrophic effect on the colonial administration. Howard Fast, in his novel ‘The Pledge’ believes that the Bengal Famine was deliberate creation – possibly to weaken the local population.

Elephants in the room

Firstly, the answer to your curiosity cannot come from the West. And since, the Indian English press (especially), depends on the West for cues, they miss out some vital elements. For instance, how the Indian economy was used to meet Britain’s Post WW1 liabilities. To ‘dampen’ gold demand for India, the Indian rupee was put on fixed overvalued rate vis-a-vis the sterling.

Indian exports crashed, imports ballooned. Indian accounts would be settled at ‘official’ silver prices, with inflated silver released by the US under the Pittman Act. Gold prices were deflated – and Indians would therefore have to pay more in gold. Thus with with a combination of inflated silver price, deflated gold price, high interest rates and an overvalued Indian rupee, the Indian economy was strangled. Few Western writers or books identify this – unwittingly, or deliberately.

RBI was a pawn in this game – and it remains true to its DNA.

India funded the post WW1 recovery

The mechanics and the development of this plan are laid out in a better book, John Bullion’s Empire by By G. Balachandran. This book traces how much of India’s poverty was a result of economic policies between the two World Wars co-ordinated by these four central bankers.

On October 27th, 1931, the Ramsey Macdonald led “National” Government (Conservatives and Liberals coalition, fearful of the rising Labour Party) in Britain won a huge majority of 554 MPs of 615. The economic crisis of September 1931 (misnamed as the Indian Currency Crisis) was a result of this economic policy which reduced Indian economic activity – resulting in bankruptcy of the Colonial India Government.

Parallel Great Depression era problems in the US, the Weimar Republic problems – and other issues pushed this ‘National’ government to ram through a series of measures (page 130-131) that inflated silver prices, depressed gold prices and raised interest rates in India. The Indian rupee was pegged at a high exchange rate vis-a-vis the sterling. Indian exports crashed. To ensure that Indian farmers had no options, Indian money lenders were regulated and licensed into paralysis. Further the Lees Mody Pact, gave few options to the Indian producers.

Indians were paid, with inflated and abundant silver stock, instead of gold. This silver was the same silver released by the Pittman Act. The silver buffer solution to the gold drain to India was seen as the “only buffer to protect Western gold reserves against the Indian drain (was) a silver buffer.” Of course, later the British Raj decided to settle Indian debts with promissory notes – and not even silver. It was this Indian ‘sacrifice’ which enabled the recovery of the West.

The yawning trench between talk and walk makes Western economiuc theory suspect.

The yawning trench between talk and walk makes Western economiuc theory suspect.

Crash in silver prices

New mines and increased silver production saw a crash in silver prices. US silver coinage was being depreciated due to increasing supplies of silver. On the other side, Britain had a large debt due to WW1. Britain and America stuck a deal at the cost of the Indian subjects of the British Raj. The US passed the Pittman Act which mandated silver sales at more than a dollar per ounce – double the 50c per ounce prevailing price of silver. Britain agreed to settle all Indian debts with silver. Gold prices were deflated. Interest rates in India were increased. Restrictions on gold imports on were placed and gold demand in India was ‘normalized.’

Impoverishment of India

With crashing exports and increased imports, the Indian citizenry had no option but to pay for all essentials and taxes with gold. As a quid pro quo, for this silver for gold scam, the US lent gold to Britain in 1926, which allowed Britain to revert back to the pre-War old standard.

Done over the protests by Gandhiji, trade bodies and merchants and threats of resignation by the Viceroy and his Executive Council , the resulting ‘money famine’ (page 155) had the Lord Willingdon ecstatically say ‘Indians are disgorging gold’ (page 156). Neville Chamberlain pitched in with his classic statement “The astonishing gold mine that we have discovered in India’s hordes has put us in clover.”

Looking back, it was clear that this achieved nothing but the impoverishment of India. In 1948, Montagu Norman had to admit that with these maneuvers “We achieved absolutely nothing, except that we collected a lot of money from a lot of poor devils and gave it to the four winds.”

The RBI was a vital element of this plan.

Ceterus paribus …

Today, in similar situation, the RBI, a colonial era body, continues with these colonial anti-Indian policies. They keep ever-greening and recycle colonial policies. Old laws with new labels and different wordings are made – with the same intent. Kill the money lender. While all this was happening, Indian agriculture and the peasant suffers.

The tragedy is that RBI is not alone. The IAS (a successor to the ICS) and the Planning Commission are the other two. Compare that with the brilliant track record of modern Indian regulators and organizations like the SEBI, TRAI.

India’s Money Lenders – The Colonial Stereotypes

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Feminist Issues, Gold Reserves, History, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on April 1, 2008

“Families have lost land, farmers have been asked to prostitute their wives to pay off debts …” writes Krittivas Mukherjee / Reuters.

Market Share Of Indian Money Lenders

Outdated Bollywood Style

I wonder what is the source of Krittivas’s article. I wonder how many prostitutes these money lenders have – from their 2,00,00,000 farmer-borrowers. Which era are you in, Bro. Krittivas? Apparently, the ghost of East India Company is alive, well and kicking. Is this the kind of grovelling that has to be done to be a part of Reuters, Krittivas? Friend Krittivas is reading a lot of colonial era propaganda – and seeing old Bollywood movies.

Even Bollywood has stopped this kind of portrayal of money lenders now. TV serials these days have business families as stars of the show.

A financial newspaper, The Mint, dutifully carries this Reuters article. Published jointly by The Hindustan Times and The Wall Street Journal, The Mint, regularly carries such bloopers. In yet another article that the Mint carried, for instance, writes how Indian “cities began suffering chronic milk shortages soon after independence in 1947” – implying that colonial India was the land of milk and honey. This kind of editorial blindness nearly makes me believe that the Indian Government got it right with the previous policy of excluding foreign media.

Some Stats About Money Lenders

There are 34,000 money lenders – and they have lent money to more than 2,00,00,000 farmers. They account for nearly 30% of the rural credit flows – and more credit than all the nationalized banks put together. They charge between 18% to 36% p.a. interest generally. Lesser than what most ‘educated’ credit card users pay – and what ‘modern’ banks charge their English-speaking customers.

So much about ‘usury’ by money lenders.

The Seths Who Funded The East India Companies

The vilification of the money lender by the British Colonial Raj at various times for political and economic gains has unfortunately been carried forward in post-colonial India. The English East India Company (EEIC) was initially funded and grew on Indian capital. The House Of Jagat Seth was most famous – and one of the largest banking families in the world. Virji Vora, Shantidas were other merchant bankers who funded the various European Indian Charter Companies in their trade. EEIC officials could not forget their supplicant status with these ‘seths’ – when they were desperate borrowers.

After 1757, and the occupation of the Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, transactions with the East India Company caused the ruin of many Indian lenders.

The other reason why money lenders were portrayed as villains by the the Colonial administrations was merchandise. Instead of bonded producers of Europe, Indian producers were free to sell their product to the highest bidder. The EEIC found that their contracts could be annulled by repaying the advance amounts. And the weavers and other producers could repay the advances by borrowing from the local money lender.

20th Century Vilification

Later during the Great Depression and the so-called ‘Indian currency crises’, Britain was extracting gold from Indian peasants, to overcome its own problems. For British loot to happen and to make their policies effective, they needed to leave the peasant without options. The only way to do that was to curb the money lender. To achieve this aim, between 1925-1940, enquiry commissions were created – and propaganda ‘reports’ flooded the system.

The colonial India Government passed many of the laws restricting money lending activities. These reports – Central Banking Enquiry Committee (CBEC) report (1929) and its associated Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee reports (of Assam, Bombay, Burma, Ceylon, Central Provinces, Bengal, Punjab, et al) of which the Madras Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee (MPBEC) report is cited by lazy academics and out-moded bureaucrats as authoritative – even in post-colonial era.

April Fool Jokers?

April Fool Jokers?

April Fool Joke – The RBI

On April 1st, 1934, while the ‘Squeeze India’ campaign was under execution India’s banking authority was set up – choreographed by Montagu Norman, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill (some sickness … some racism) Lord Willingdon. From that April Fool’s day till now, RBI’s character has not changed. It remains isolated, out of touch with the India – and looks at India through colonial viewing glasses.

The tragedy is that RBI is not alone. The IAS (a successor to the ICS) and the Planning Commission are the other two. Compare that with the brilliant track record of modern Indian regulators and organizations like the SEBI, TRAI.

Legalized Harassment & Extortion

Debt Conciliation Acts were passed between 1933 and 1936 by the governments of Assam, Bengal, Central Provinces and Berar, Madras and Punjab; the Punjab Regulation of Accounts Act (1930) and the Debtors Protection Acts of 1935 and other such burdensome laws buried the money lender in mountains of paperwork and licences. These laws required money lenders to comply with extensive and prolonged compulsory licensing and registration – and extensive recording of transactions and accounts.

What these laws achieved was what was desired – a license for police and other ‘inspectors’ to start an extortion racket from money lenders (these days called corruption). A bureaucrat from colonial Punjab, Malcolm Darling (1925) shedding crocodile tears stated “the Indian peasant is born in debt, lives in debt and dies in debt” became a by line for tarring the money lender – while the cause was extractive, colonial revenue practices.

Options Foreclosed

These restrictions on money lending foreclosed the liquidity option for the Indian peasant, which would have averted the gold outflow from India and the impoverishment of the Indian peasant. With this legalized persecution, money lenders’ activities were curtailed all over India. RBI joined in this hounding of the money lenders – which continues to this day. The Bengal Burma link of the ages was broken. Chettiar money lenders were thrown out of Burma. From being a granary of Asia, Burma started declining – and there was no rice for exports. Result – The Bengal Famine of 1943. Tally – 40-50 lakh deaths. Similarly, the role of Chettiars in Singapore was wiped clean.

After the fall of Singapore, and the rapid Japanese advance, with Subhash Chandra Bose in the vicinity, a revolt by Bengal would have had catastrophic effect on the colonial administration. Howard Fast, in his novel ‘The Pledge’ believes that the Bengal Famine was deliberate creation– possibly to weaken the local population.

Subhash Chandra Bose occupied a large mindshare within and outside India. (Image source and courtesy - editstreet.com). Click for a larger image.

Subhash Chandra Bose occupied a large mindshare within and outside India. (Image source and courtesy - editstreet.com). Click for a larger image.

The RBI, a colonial era body, continues with these colonial anti-Indian policies. They keep ever-greening and recycle colonial policies. Old laws with new labels and different wordings are made – with the same intent. Kill the money lender. In all this, it is Indian agriculture and the peasant who suffers.

Even the rare modern supporter of the money lender does not see the colonial baggage that India and Indians governance carries, sees only half the picture – and little opportunity.

The Pre-WW2 Currency Crisis

After (colonial) India’s accession to the world gold standard in 1898, India rapidly built up a export surplus – and British reserves of gold started drying up – in spite of gold export restrictions to India by the USA, Britain and much of the Western world. There was hysteria in popular press and politicians on the subject of India and its appetite for gold. To overcome this payment crisis, it was decided to pay India in silver released by the Pittman Act. Subsequently, even payments in silver became difficult. India then started getting paid by Bank Of England credit notes.

By WW1 end, it was evident that sooner rather than later, India would obtain independence. Between 1920-40, in a series of measures, it was decided to reverse this policy. Central bankers from the USA, Britain, France and Germany had many meetings to “coordinate monetary policy.” The agenda – gold flow management between themselves and an obvious understanding – don’t let the browns get the gold. They (Hjalmar Schacht, Governor, Reichsbank, Charles Rist, Deputy Governor, Banque de France, Benjamin Strong, USA Federal Reserve, Montagu Norman, Bank Of England) agreed that Indian demand for gold had a “deflationary effect on global liquidity,” therefore “Indian demand for gold had to be regulated.” So, while the West consumed Indian production and goods, they regulated Indian demand for gold!! The result – Bengal Famine of 1943 which killed 40-50 lakh Indians. As Gideon Polya has pointed out, Australian sheep have lower mortality rates.

Like much of Western history, the British (Lord Willingdon, Neville Chamberlain, Montagu Norman, Winston Churchill – as the Chancellor of the Exchequer) executed a scorched earth policy in India. (After all what is brown life worth?) They implemented a series of economic and administrative measures that killed millions in the Bengal Famine would impoverish India – and sustain the empire.

Montagu Norman, Winston Churchill (then the Chancellor of the Exchequer) returned to the gold standard – with the famous prediction by Keynes that this action would result in a world wide recession – of which much came to pass. Churchill confessed “I’m lost and reduced to groping,” but went along with Montagu Norman, united by their racism.

The National GovernmentOn October 27th, 1931, the Ramsey Macdonald led “National” Government (Conservatives and Liberals coalition, fearful of the rising Labour Party) in Britain won a huge majority of 554 MPs of 615. The economic crisis of September (misnamed as the Indian Currency Crisis), ensuing Depression era problems in the US, the Weimar Republic problems – and other issues pushed this ‘National’ government to ram through a series of measures (page 130-131) that depressed silver prices, inflated gold prices and raised interest rates in India.

Done over the protests by Gandhiji, trade bodies and merchants and threats of resignation by the Viceroy and his Executive Council , the resulting ‘money famine’ (page 155) had the Lord Willingdon ecstatically say ‘… Indians are disgorging gold … (page 156). Indians have a different reason to revile Neville Chamberlain who with great satisfaction said “…The astonishing gold mine that we have discovered in India’s hordes has put us in clover …”after impoverishment of the Indian serf.

What Can be Done

The largest rural credit agency system, which knows Indian agriculture like the back of its hand, is available to the Indian economy. Trash the colonial propaganda – and use these money lenders.

Step 1 – Stop calling them money lenders. This term was used and has acquired pejorative connotations.

Step 2 – Bring them under SEBI – an effective organization, not reputed for corruption.

Step 3 – Increase credit supply – and interest rates will automatically fall. Allow re-finance to these ‘banias’ – based on their loan books.

Step 4 – Create credit enhancement tools – by use of traditional adhatiyas, other money lenders, property collateral of the end user, etc.

Step 5 – Induce competition by simplifying registration and inducing initial success for existing and new comers.

These credit experts can become low cost credit delivery mechanisms – which will revolutionize Indian agriculture. Will Indian planners grow out of their colonial moulds? Will Indian legislation go native? Sooner the better.

What Can The Money Lenders Do?

Under generations of persecution, extortion and discrimination has blunted the organizational capability of the ‘native money lender.’ He needs to look at himself afresh – and exploit business opportunities and use his knowledge of the Indian financial ‘consumer.’

A simple outline of an action plan for the money lenders to reclaim their position can be as follows: –

1. Incorporate a holding company.

2. Contribute one lakh rupees capital per member – with 34,000 members.

3. Create a paid up promoter capital of Rs.340 crores – and an IPO for 660 crores.

4. Obtain RBI licence for a rural bank with this paid up capital of 1000 crores.

5. Enrol all money lender members as DSAs.

6. Refinance money lender portfolio – and create further liquidity.

7. Use the money lender network to raise deposits, sell insurance, obtain refinance mortgage for housing, etc.

Even a conservative estimate of Rs.1.00 crore lending, guaranteed by these money lenders can inject Rs.34,000 crores of investment in the agricultural economy in India. SEBI can be co-opted to create appropriate supervisory and oversight measures.

Post Script – The source of Krittivas’s article

It is 6 months and Krittivas has not seen it fit to give sources or details of his dubious charges. So, let me give the details. This entire story of prostitution of wives to money lenders was a colonial idea that the British plagiarised from a very successful French Emile Zola novel, Germinal (1885).

Of course, most of Zola’s work was propaganda for the Socialist causes that were dear to him. The Vatican banned Germinal – and proscribed its reading by Catholics. India’s vernacular press fighting for survival had no sources to overcome this propaganda. Indian English press was, of course, under colonial domination. When Emile Zola died in 1902, he was given a State funeral and the crowd chanted ‘Germinal, Germinal’.

Does this give you some idea, Bro.Krittivas, on how much propaganda we are targetted with, before you start hitting the keyboard.

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