$641 billion to European banks from ECB – Santanomics

Posted in America, Business, Current Affairs, Gold Reserves, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on December 21, 2011

European Central Bank (ECB) keeping the festive spirit alive, announces a $641 billion effort to keep Euro-banks standing.

The State saves the banks, so that the banks can save us. This 'logic' now suffers from a problem of credibility. It is looking like the Big Guys look after their own. As for the Rest of Us ...  |  Cartoonist - Joel Petit; source & courtesy - about.com/d/politicalhumor  |  Click for larger image.

The State saves the banks, so that the banks can save us. This 'logic' now suffers from a problem of credibility. It is looking like the Big Guys look after their own. As for the Rest of Us ... | Cartoonist - Joel Petit; source & courtesy - about.com/d/politicalhumor | Click for larger image.

It is Christmas season

And it is every Christian’s right, to expect freebies and goodies from Santa Claus.

This year

Since appearances must be kept, the European Central Bank (ECB)  decided to become Santa Claus this year.

The ECB decided to match the US$700 billion bailout package (TARP).

The European Central Bank on Wednesday attempted to send a strong signal to financial markets by offering to loan $641 billion to 523 euro-area banks in a massive three-year funding operation.

The bank-funding move by the region’s central bank, known as a longer-term refinancing operation, or LTRO, is open to lenders across the euro zone. The figure came in well above a Reuters forecast for $408 billion. The loans run for three years.

The loans expand the central bank’s balance sheet by 20%, according to Louise Cooper, analyst at BCG Partners.

A breakdown of which financial institutions were among the bidders for the funding was not immediately available.

A representative from the European Central Bank‘s press office said that the central bank would not be releasing the names of the banks that applied for loans. Nor would it provide a breakdown of loans by euro-zone nation.

The LTRO operation was the first three-year funding operation undertaken by the central bank. The funds are borrowed at its average benchmark interest rate, which stands at 1%.

Ahead of the auction some media reports and analysts suggested that the drive to increase liquidity across the region was part of an effort to encourage banks to purchase government debt. (via ECB lends $641 billion to European banks – MarketWatch).

If the US can come out with a US$700 TARP to save their Big Corporations, Europe can do better. The LTRO is a full US$100 billion bigger than the TARP. Jai Ho!  |  Cartoonist - RJ Matson; source and courtesy - rjmatson.com  |  Click for source image.

If the US can come out with a US$700 TARP to save their Big Corporations, Europe can do better. The LTRO is a full US$100 billion bigger than the TARP. Jai Ho! | Cartoonist - RJ Matson; source and courtesy - rjmatson.com | Click for source image.

Bigger than expected, the LTRO has been received with mixed feelings by analysts.

The ECB said 523 banks requested €489 billion ($641 billion) in funding from the central bank in a bid to boost liquidity.

A Reuters consensus had predicted funding requests worth €310 billion.

“The good news is a lot more banks will be well funded throughout the next three years. They need to place the money short term and will be buying bonds in European sovereign countries, obviously,” said Christian Tegllund Blaabjerg, chief Economist at FIH Erhvervsbank.

“But on the flip side of the coin, it also signals a lot more banks than originally thought need capital and that is negative news,” he said. “It sort of implies the banking sector is far worse off than originally expected.” (via ECB funding boost short-lived in Europe – Europe Markets – MarketWatch).

Coming back to the Christmas season.

Some analysts decided to run old number through their computers. What they found is that there is some kind of ‘season’ in the market also – around Christmas.

The stock market, at long last, is about to enter the seasonally favorable period that honestly can use the name “Santa Claus Rally.” It begins at the close this coming Friday, the last trading day before Christmas, and lasts until the end of the year.

It’s not a very long period of favorable seasonality — just one week, after all — but the historical odds are quite impressive.

Consider the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA -0.49% during this period. Since 1896, when this benchmark was created, it has produced an average gain between Christmas and New Years of 1.07%. On an annualized basis, that works out to a gain of more than 80%.

The market’s performance during this period has been relatively consistent, turning in a gain 78% of the time. That compares to a gain rate of 54% for all other weeks of the year.

What accounts for this seasonal strength? A fascinating research study suggests that it has something to do with Christmas. Click here to read their study. (via Here comes good old Santa Claus – Mark Hulbert – MarketWatch).

In the meantime, let us also remember how gold prices in the first 2 weeks of December 2011 have been soft. And probably it is Arab gold that is being dumped into the markets.

Also remember that more noise works better than censorship.

Gold and currencies outlook

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Gold Reserves, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on January 16, 2010
Gold /Silver /Oil and the BSE-Sensex Co-relation - How will this pan out?

Gold /Silver /Oil and the BSE-Sensex Co-relation - How will this pan out?

Gold scenario for this year

With gold prices at a historic high, the future trend of gold price is the question on everybody’s mind. There are a few wrinkles which make the future of gold price a complex subject. Gold prices in the coming 1-3 years, may not be a open-and-shut case. Lending stability to gold prices are the following six factors.

  1. IMF gold sales – IMF has some 3000 tons of gold – of which,  some 400 tons have been earmarked for sale. 200 tons has been bought by RBI and another 20 tons by sundry central banks of Sri Lanka, Mauritius, etc. Leaving less than 200 tons on the table. RBI claims that they have put in a bid for the rest also – and the decision on that will be taken soon. Thus, any downward pressure on gold prices due to IMF sale is unlikely.
  2. Central Bank gold sales – Various European banks have been selling gold from their ‘reserves’ on the open market, over the last ten years. Not much is left from that quota. No downward pressure from this quarter also.
  3. Chinese Yuan appreciation – The whisper on the street is that the Chinese yuan may see 10%-15% appreciation in the next 4-8 months. This may trigger a re-balancing of the global currency equations, making the dollar weaker in narrow range. This may lead to a welcome lowering of the US trade deficit – which will strengthen the dollar, against non-yuan currency. And re-create some confidence in the US dollar.
  4. Indian business outlook – Yuan appreciation will end up making the Indian export sector, specifically and corporate sector generally, more profitable. An increase in merchandise export seems unlikely. Improvement in profitability will attract dollar inflows into India for investment in Indian stock markets; increasing liquidity in India, decreasing interest rates and mildly strengthening the rupee.
  5. Double whammy – A strengthening rupee and a stronger dollar is likely to further put downward pressure on gold prices. For the first time in many years, India has slipped to number two position (by a minor ten tons) as the largest gold ‘consumer.’ Accompanied by the drumbeat of official media, Chinese consumers have been encouraged to buy gold – and comparisons to India are being freely made.
  6. “Even if it’s sold at a market price, we should still buy,” counters Xia Bin, head of a key Beijing think tank advising the State Council cabinet (and also making plain that this is his personal view).

    “India’s okay with it, why shouldn’t we be? What’s the use for so many dollars, whose purchasing power is weakening anyway? With so many foreign reserves in hand, I think China should buy, without doubt.”

  7. Gold value is 10% of Indian capital stock – Keep in mind that India is a US$1 trillion economy and India’s 25,000 tons of private gold reserves @Rs.18,000 per tola and Rs./USS$ rate @Rs.45 to dollar converts to US$ 1 trillion also. Adopting a return on capital employed @ 10%, implies total capitalization of the Indian population at US$10 trillion. And gold forms 10% of that capital. Is this an equilibrium in India. From here on, Indian gold demand may well be damped.
What about the Eagle's loot?
What about the Eagle’s loot?

One tremor is all

What can trigger a fresh upward burst in gold prices, can be any of the following events.

One tremor, in the market, on any of these triggers, will set off another stampede towards gold.

Depending on the event, the next breather gold may then take will possibly be at US$1800 (ounce)/ INR25,000 (tola).

As the last one year unfolded, the Citi, GM, rescue plans, have strained the US Treasury. The next upheaval may be sovereign debt.

How can Greece, Spain or the UK unravel the EU

Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, UK et al are tethering at the brink. If they regain their balance, world economic outlook may give reasons for optimism – and for gold prices to take a breather. To avoid a default by Greece, Spain or UK, the ECB may need to extend some really big sums of money.

What makes these five cases specially worrisome, is the near-absence of manufacturing and industrial output in these countries. Unlike France, Germany or Italy. This may make EU-member countries balk at extending lines of credit, sovereign guarantees, underwriting of new loans, interest /capital waivers, rescheduling of debts, rollovers – the works.

Defaults by any or all names. Without credit lines, loans, underwriting, guarantees to these on-the-edge countries, may set off an exodus or a break-up of the EU.

Can Russia and China become a problem?

Russia has seen a major drop in export income, due to crash in oil and raw material prices. Yuan appreciation in the China could the other trigger. But these two scenarios may take 2-5 years to play out. These may not be the reasons for the immediate run-up on gold prices.

But to get a real perspective on how changes in gold prices can happen, the Soviet Gold saga is worth looking at.

“Even if it’s sold at a market price, we should still buy,” counters Xia Bin, head of a key Beijing think tank advising the State Council cabinet (and also making plain that this is his personal view).

“India’s okay with it, why shouldn’t we be? What’s the use for so many dollars, whose purchasing power is weakening anyway? With so many foreign reserves in hand, I think China should buy, without doubt.”

1945 Britain – Imperial ambitions of a starving nation

Posted in British Raj, European History, History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on December 30, 2009

After WWII, failure at something as basic as agriculture did not stop a Britain from nursing imperial ambitions.

"Food shortages in Britain" - Vicky (Victor Weisz) cartoon First published by Daily Mirror on 11 February 1955

“Food shortages in Britain” – Vicky (Victor Weisz) cartoon, first published by Daily Mirror on 11 February 1955

Britain, after WWII, seeing its colonies slip away one by one, was an anxious nation. Facing food shortages, the mood soon lapsed from anxiety to near-paranoia.

A symptom of that paranoia were villains that Ian Fleming created. Bullion-smuggling Auric Goldfinger or bio-warfare master Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Blofeld, in Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963) is caught planning a germ-war against British agriculture.

Factually, British agriculture did not need a Blofeld to trigger a crisis. In doldrums for the previous hundred years, food-shortages till WWI were averted by massive imports – mainly from Russia. After WWII, it was US and Argentina that filled the gaps in food shortages.

But failure in something as basic as food shortages did not stop a Britain from nursing imperial ambitions.

Of Britain itself

It is a notorious weakness of Indian historians that they assume the British were far more clever and subtle than in fact they were. (from a book review Philip Ziegler, Not so duplicitous as painted, Thursday, 21st September 2006, from The Spectator).

Dependent on US food and economic aid, Europe rebuilt its economy with industrial exports based on a favorable exchange rate – much like Japan, Asian Tigers and China did later. His hand forced, Churchill had to call for elections, soon after WWII.

A starving, indebted Britain, took cold comfort in welfare state promises made by the Labour Party – and Clement Attlee (a sheep in sheep’s clothing as described by Churchill) became the Prime Minister of Britain.

Without assured raw-materials sources and protected markets, (especially India), British exports nosedived. The British economy collapsed in the next few decades. British Coal, Railways, Steel, automobile industry, ship-building went into a terminal decline – never to recover.

Memory lapses

Sixty years after decolonization of India, with memories dimmed, Western writers and academics credit British for decolonization and lay the burden of the Partition-related communal violence at Indian doorsteps.

“British government conceded Indian self-rule, they thought this the right thing to do. What would have happened to the Koreans or the Vietnamese if a local Gandhi had tried such tactics against the brutal Japanese kempetai or the French with their mercenaries from Morocco and Senegal? It was not that Gandhi was successful but that the British were forbearing … Gandhi’s tactics only work if the other side lets it …”(from Christie Davies’ Blog The Social Affairs Unit).

"The idea is to spray a little around the kitchen the smell of frying bacon permeates through the house whets the appetite"

“The idea is to spray a little around the kitchen the smell of frying bacon permeates through the house whets the appetite” says cartoonist NEB (Ronald Niebour) First published by The Daily Mail on 20 December 1951

Abdication! … retreat? … fait accompli.

This is an argument worth looking at.

Was Britain, after WWII, in any shape to impose, concede, accede or reject any position by the Indian leadership or the population.

But before that, an interesting extract about the handover of power to India.

But even as it bade farewell, Britain was to visit two disasters on the subcontinent. One was Attlee’s appointment of Lord Mountbatten as the last Viceroy. Conceited, impatient, and breathtakingly arrogant, he took to the grandeur and the raw power of the job with unholy relish.

Mountbatten decided that independence would come on August 1947, on the second anniversary of the day he had accepted the surrender of the Japanese in south-east Asia. Nothing was to stand in the way of this vainglory – not even the unresolved issue of Muslim demands for a separate state, and the gathering storm clouds of communal violence.

In a few summer weeks, colonial servants scribbled lines across the map of the mighty subcontinent, carving East and West Pakistan out of Mother India, and sparking a bloodbath so frightful that no one to this day knows exactly how many millions died. (via 1945-51: Labour and the creation of the welfare state | Politics | guardian.co.uk).

Like this article in The Guardian points out, Mountbatten’s August date for Indian independence was based more on his need to ‘celebrate’ his ‘personal’ milestones than ground realities in India.

"Now when daddy's broken it, we'll proceed anti-clockwise, to take a spoonful each." Cartoon by NEB (Ronald Niebour)First published by The Daily Mail on 24 March 1951

“Now when daddy’s broken it, we’ll proceed anti-clockwise, to take a spoonful each.” Cartoon by NEB (Ronald Niebour) First published by The Daily Mail on 24 March 1951

End of rationing

Potatoes, eggs, milk, cheese, petrol. clothes, meat and bacon (fish excluded) were all rationed – which finally ended in 1954. A huge bureaucracy and rules created an elaborate rationing system which finally ended 9 years after the end of the WWII – in 1954.

Reduction in Russian agricultural exports after Stalinist collectivization of farms, deprived war-ravaged Europe of a nearby source of agricultural commodities. In the Russia of  1953, one year before rationing ended in Britain, the year of Stalin’s death, grain production was below the level reached in 1913.

Instead, high cost food imports from Argentina were needed. This caused much angst and hand-wringing in the British Parliament. One British MP, Sir Waldron Smithers (Orpington), to revealingly, complain about how it “looks as if the Argentine Government took a nice commission of £49 million at the expense of the British taxpayer”. The same MP, Sir Waldron Smithers(Orpington), further referred to “an article which appeared in “Wall Street Journal, New York,” published in the “Evening Standard” on 13th March, with the title, “How to make 200 per cent. profit on wheat … The procedure is simple. Buy wheat from the farmers for £11 to £13 a ton—sell it to the bread-hungry British for £34 a ton.” This, according to the MP, was a price that, “tops the peaks of world war I and the Napoleonic wars … They know that Britain is short of food, and they are getting the highest prices they can.

"He must be very short this week - I've never seen him use a watch-repairers glass before." cartoon by NEB (Ronald Niebour) First published by The Daily Mail on 31 March 1951

“He must be very short this week – I’ve never seen him use a watch-repairers glass before.” cartoon by NEB (Ronald Niebour) First published by The Daily Mail on 31 March 1951

The break …

British and European farmers increased production as massive subsidies were lined up. A Europe-wide agricultural subsidy scheme named Common Agricultural Programme – (CAP) was put in place.

The CAP was instigated against the backdrop of food shortages and rationing after World War II, to stabilise European food markets while giving farmers a steady income and consumers low prices. (from Q&A: Farm funding row).

The CAP scheme was never withdrawn – and what was an emergency scheme, is now a US$70 billion behemoth.

The Gambia Egg Scheme

A desperate UK came out with schemes – non-union, low-cost, African ’employees’ would produce poultry and eggs, and groundnuts (scheme in Tanganyika), rice-and-fish in Nyasaland – ‘to assist in the rehabilitation of the motherland’, i.e. Britain.

The Colonial Development Corporation was set up to invest in the ‘development’ of the colonies. Schemes for ‘encouraging’ and ‘developing’ agriculture in the colonies were proposed and promoted. Each one a greater disaster than the other. Tired of food shortages, rationing, a desperate Britain announced

ill fated grandiose scheme that were heralded, with many a flourish of political trumpets, before grinding to an ignominious halt under the sheer weight of bureaucratic inertia and slipshod planning. The very names of these schemes – groundnuts from Tanganyika, eggs in Gambia, rice in Nyasaland – will evoke wry smiles among those whose memories can stretch back to the immediate postwar years, when “big is beautiful” caught the imagination of planners and politicans alike.

A groundnut scheme and eggs and poultry scheme became objects of much merriment, mirth, concern, and favorite objects of cartoonists – African groundnuts to Gambia egg ranches, ‘cost the Government a tremendous amount of public support‘. Post-War Britain, short of cooking fats, looked at Africa.

"Profiteer" and "Black Marketeer" saying "now we can skin him tax free", rabbit trapped in a hutch marked "British Public". Cartoonist Illingworth cartoon, June 27, 1946.

“Profiteer” and “Black Marketeer” saying “now we can skin him tax free”, rabbit trapped in a hutch marked “British Public”. Cartoonist Illingworth cartoon, June 27, 1946.

Frank Samuel, (managing director of the United Africa Company, a subsidiary of the large British corporation Unilever) suggested groundnuts cultivation in Tanganiyika. Tractors and equipment were airlifted from Canada and Philippines to the nearest airfield, and thence by sea to Dar-es-salaam. After landing at the Dar-es-salaam port, to be transported into the interior, rail tracks from Dar-es-salaam were washed away. Soil and rainfall were unsuitable – and the British taxpayer paid the price for these grand projects.

In 1949 the government had promised: “Within two years, British housewives will be getting 20 million eggs and 1,000,000 pounds of dressed poultry yearly from Gambia.”… The British government put $2,000,000 into a model poultry farm outside Bathurst, but disease and bad feed killed off the chick ens, and after production of 40,000 eggs—at $50 an egg—the farm was transformed into a teacher’s college … While waiting for the local feed supply to be produced, (to feed the chicks), the government authorized spending of more scarce dollars for American grain … Last week Colonial Secretary James Griffiths told the House of Commons that the plan had failed and would be abandoned. Reason: the government planners had regrettably failed to find out whether Gambian land would grow chicken feed. The fact: it would not.

The House of Commons, ever alert to possible cruelty toward dumb animals, had some questions. Richard Hurd, Tory member for the Newbury division of Berkshire, asked Griffiths: “Can the Minister tell us how the birds that will survive are to be fed for the next few months?”

End of WW2 did not end British problems. Illingworth's cartoon published on August 5, 1941. Churchill collecting rubbish into a sack, called "Britain's war problems" like "Dislocation of rail traffic" "Waste of coal" and "Local food shortage"

End of WWII did not end British problems. Illingworth’s cartoon published on August 5, 1941. Churchill collecting rubbish into a sack, called “Britain’s war problems” like “Dislocation of rail traffic” “Waste of coal” and “Local food shortage”

Tory members roared an answer: “On promises and groundnuts.” (This was a cruel reference to the government’s £36 million scheme for growing peanuts in Africa; failure of the groundnut scheme was announced Feb. 20.)

Edward Keeling, Tory member for Twickenham, asked Griffiths: “Can the Minister say if it is true, as was reported in the Daily Telegraph, that the new director of the scheme has stated, ‘I hate chickens’?” (From Time magazine articles; Foreign News: Scrambled Eggs, Monday, Mar. 12, 1951; and Gambia: Newest, Smallest Friday, Feb. 26, 1965).

In the dying days of the Raj

A defensive Britain, never one to lose sight of propaganda opportunity, used India’s ‘ship-to-mouth’ food shortages to diminish  the Indian economy. Even while grappling with the critical food situation at home. Or a war in Europe, British propaganda machine never stopped working.

In the middle of WWII, Britain pulled out a general from the Italian theatre of war and sent him to India – to head colonial India archaeological operations.

John Bull (Britain) pleading from Juan Peron (Argentina) for Food - Does Falklands make sense now?

John Bull (Britain) pleading from Juan Peron (Argentina) for Food – Does Falklands make sense now?

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


Why would the glorious British Empire, on which the sun never set, struggling for its very existence, in the middle of WWII, suddenly pull a general back from the battlefield – and put him into archaeology! That too, Indian archaeology. Not Egyptian, not Greek! Especially, when it was clear, that they would be departing from India – sooner rather than later.

Considering what theories came from Mortimer Wheeler’s rather fertile ‘imagination’ and his rigourous archaeological process, in hindsight, from a Western perspective, this was sound decision. The main targets for Mortimer were Takshashila and Indus Valley ruins. His ‘explorations’ led Mortimer Wheeler to remark,

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

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

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

et al.

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

Would the US have funded Britain's Imperial ambitions?

Imperial ambitions! Funded by US? Cartoon by Illingworth, August 6, 1947. (Attlee, the bird feeding a large chicken “British Zone in Germany” taking up the entire nest of “British economy”. 3 malnourished chicks named “Import export gap”, “Food shortage” and “Controls”).

Underneath the Western sky

Making sense of the newly formed Indian nation was herculean task. After more than a century of propaganda, Western ‘education’, inversion of history, post-colonial Indian rulers struggled between the ‘glossy’ imported idioms and the familiar native dialogue.

Caught in this dilemma, the Indian State vacillates between a unique Indic inheritance and the detritus of dead-end colonialism.

The other aspect of the entire Independence debate was of British debt owed to India. After loading every clause and phrase in the terms of trade, in its own favour, Britain was a debtor nation to India.

Britain now owes £1,030,000,000 (about $4,500,000,000) in the form of sterling credit to India. Britain is unable to repay even a small part of the debt immediately, and does not want India to sell her sterling credit to the U.S. In time she hopes to pay her debt by sales of export goods to India. (from INDIA: The Wavell Plan, Monday, May. 21, 1945).

More interestingly, Jaswant Singh’s book brings out clearly, Jinnah’s shrill demands for 30% reservation in all of India to ’safeguard the interests’ of the erstwhile Muslim ‘ruling class’ left only the Congress, SC Bose and the Hindu Mahasabha as the spokesman for an India – and not for a narrow community, class or section.

1857 again …

What made Attlee finally see the futility of holding on to India was the Indian armed forces.

At the end of WWII, Britain was a ‘superpower’, intact with its huge colonial Empire – 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.

The coming winter, Cartoon by Illingworth, October 1, 1945. Dark clouds over Britain. The storm clouds are 'Lend-Lease End', 'Food Shortage', 'Balkans', 'Russian Demands', 'Fuel Shortage' and U.S. Strikes'.

The coming winter, Cartoon by Illingworth, October 1, 1945. Dark clouds over Britain. The storm clouds are ‘Lend-Lease End’, ‘Food Shortage’, ‘Balkans’, ‘Russian Demands’, ‘Fuel Shortage’ and U.S. Strikes’.

February 18th, 1946. Some the 20 lakh colonial Indian armed forces, united and raised the banner of Independence. United across ranks, skin colour, language, geography, religion, caste, height, weight – with only one thing uniting them. They were all Indians.

On February 18th, the men of Indian Navy (then 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. The British acquiesced and 18 months later they were out.

By the night of the 20th nearly the entire Royal Indian Navy was in open rebellion: seventy eight ships across various Indian ports — Mumbai (then Bombay), Karachi, Chennai (then Madras), Vishakapatnam (thenVizagapatanam), Kolkatta (then Calcutta) and Kochi (then Cochin), extending to the Andamans. Most of the on-shore establishments lowered the Union Jack. Some ten ships and two on-shore establishments remained loyal to the British.

Before the sun went down, 12,000 seamen of the Royal Indian Navy had seized a score of ships, 18 naval shore stations and a naval dockyard in Bombay Harbor. For two days their ships, deployed in battle line along the harbor wall, defied the British. At Castle Barracks, where besieging British troops fought barricaded Indians, the mutineers turned their artillery on the Bombay Yacht Club (the very symbol of British racial supremacy), where no Indian may enter. At Karachi, Indian naval ratings seized the sloop Hindustan, dueled with British batteries along the waterfront …

British troops, ships and planes converged on Bombay, as rioters swept through the town, setting fire to banks, government grain shops, a cotton mill, a train, British cars, British stores. Night & day they fought police and Tommies, stoned British civilians. British authorities declared a state of “absolute rebellion,” ordered loyal troops to “shoot to kill” anyone moving on the streets at night. Before the mutiny ended, casualties mounted to 240 killed, more than 1,300 injured. On the other side of India, demonstrators surged through the streets of Calcutta, and sympathy strikers tied up transportation.

St.Clement Attlee chases a rabbit, while ignoring the Dragon of Egypt, Famine and India, holds Queen Britannia captive. First published - May 21, 1946

St.Clement Attlee chases a rabbit, while ignoring the Dragon of Egypt, Famine and India, holds Queen Britannia captive. First published – May 21, 1946, (Attlee was pulling back troops from Egypt, India was gaining independence, Britain was facing food shortages, the government was nationalising railways, coal mines, steel industry and public utility companies).

India’s Britons recalled the horror stories of 1857, when Army mutineers seized seven of India’s cities, including Delhi. Would Indian Army troops revolt again? Already Indian Air Force men had staged sympathy “strikes.” Like the Navy mutineers, soldiers demand better pay, better food, faster demobilization. Indian troops, the bulk of British overseas forces, are scattered wide in the world’s trouble spots: Greece, Indonesia, Syria, Burma, Egypt, Malaya, Iraq and Hong Kong. If the mutiny should spread among them, Britain’s weakened voice in the world’s councils would scarcely be able to whisper. The Army remained quiescent, but even trusted veterans were attending secret meetings of extreme nationalist groups. The British Government would have to act fast … London announced that three Cabinet ministers—Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Secretary of State for India, A. V. Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade—would go to India … The 1946 negotiations might prove more difficult than the first Cripps mission. Moslem and Hindu had drawn much more closely together…

Nehru and his fellows no longer denounced violence as if they meant it. They sensed a new mood in India’s masses, and swung toward extreme methods lest new leaders arise more in tune with the spirit of rebellion.

In the Calcutta riots the Congress tricolor and the Moslem green flag (and sometimes the hammer & sickle) had floated side by side from windows, from taxicabs, over the heads of marching throngs. Together they had flown from the masts of the mutinous ships at Bombay. At Karachi mutineers scrawled on their ships: “Not mutiny but unity among Indian sailors.” A new slogan was heard in India: “Ek Ho!” (We Are One). (from Time magazine INDIA: Ek Ho! Monday, Mar. 04, 1946; ellipsis mine, parts excized).

On February 19th, 1946, PM Clement Attlee announced that a British Cabinet delegation of three ministers would visit India. He followed this up, on 20th February, 1946, with a statement in the British House of Commons,

His Majesty’s Government desires to hand over their responsibility to authorities established by a constitution approved by all parties in India … His Majesty’s Government wish to make it clear that it is their definite intention to take necessary steps to effect the transference of power to responsible Indian hands by a date not later than June 1948 … His Majesty’s Government will have to consider to whom the powers of the Central Government in British India should be handed over on the due date

On 15th March, 1946, Attlee announced in the British House of Commons that Britain was leaving India. 23rd March, 1946, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Secretary of State for India, A. V. Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade came to India for consultations on modalities for power transfer.

Important documents relating to the Naval Action remains classified and inaccessible. What makes the Indian Government classify and withhold information pertaining to the colonial era? What purpose would this serve? What possible reasons exist for delaying de-classification of the 1946 February Uprising by the ‘Naval Ratings’? That was indeed a milestone in India’s history.

Why hide!

Cartoons of the period

Illingworth is, for me, a recent discovery. Leslie Gilbert Illingworth was a visually eloquent cartoonist of the period. His craft is admirable – not for his originality.

Bernard Hollowood, who edited Punch from 1957 to 1969, agreed that Illingworth lacked passionate involvement and “produced very few of his own ideas.” As he recalled, at Punch “the chief political cartoons were produced communally, and the method suited Leslie.”

Illingworth was a mirror that captured the mood, prejudices, biases, opinions, of Britain, so well. His cartoons on India were full of misplaced imperial certitude – extremely gross in hindsight. A favorite subject for cartoonists in 1945-1955 period, was food shortages and rationing.

A Britain fattened by colonies facing a future without an empire. July 9, 1947. (John Bull holding scales. On one side is "Let us face the future" and on the other side, are Britain's problems of Clothing Ration, Housing Problem, Fuel shortage, Food Scarcity ...)

A Britain fattened by colonies facing a future without an empire. July 9, 1947. (John Bull holding scales. On one side is “Let us face the future” and on the other side, are Britain’s problems of Clothing Ration, Housing Problem, Fuel shortage, Food Scarcity …)

Indic Justice – rediscover or reinvent?

More like Amartya Sen has foot in mouth disease?

More like Amartya Sen has foot in mouth disease?

Indic Justice …

The on-going saga of the Ambani brothers’ dispute, brings home how deeply and completely Indic norms of justice and fair play have been lost. The Ambani brothers have approached the Prime Minister and are pressing their cases in the Supreme Court for justice. Such a form of dispute redressal is alien and remote to Indic thought.

The other apparently unrelated ‘event’ is the much promoted and publicised book, The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen, has no clue about justice (at least on Indic thoughts on justice). Apart from a few token mentions about Ashoka Maurya and Akbar Moghul, he has very little to say about Indic thought on justice.

But he speaks very volubly on Western thinkers and thought on justice.

The wise king delivers justice

To bring out the contrast, one has only to read the Biblical story of King Solomon’s justice (where two prostitutes claimed the surviving baby as theirs). The point worth noting is that this paradigm of justice centralizes solutions and concentrates power in the hands of some central authorities.

So, whether it King Solomon or Caliph Haroun Al Rashid (the King in disguise), or the Turkish Çapanoglu Ahmet Pasha (of the bell of justice fame which even a donkey could ring to summon the king for justice) – the model was the all-knowing King. Variations of the Donkey /Horse and the Bell of Justice story is localized and retold in various cultures.

King Solomons Justice
King Solomon’s Justice

Going back earlier, the Desert Bloc model of seeking justice was captured in the story of Tehuti-nekht (the oppressive overseer); a sekhti’ (the poor salt-trader) the ‘clever’ Meruitensa (The Grand Vizier /Supreme Judge) and The Wise Pharoah Nebkanra.

The Duke of Venice perpetuates the myth of justice in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. The more than 120 Doges of Venice who ruled Venice for nearly a 1000 years, preserved the myth of justice during the Middle Ages.

In modern times, as republican democracy made Emperors and Kings redundant, the Smart Lawyer took over the justice function, in the garb of legal thrillers.

Perry Mason replaced The Wise Emperor as the fount of justice. John Grisham keeps company with many writers about legal-eagles, who go out to save the innocent from the hangman- and send the guilty into the dock. Like John Buchan, GK Chesterton, Wilkie Collins, et al.

Hollywood used the legal thriller genre with assembly line regularity – with successes galore, like Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution (1957), with earlier instances like Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich, or the screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), or the more modern Erin Brockovich (2000)and My Cousin Vinny (1992).

All quiet on the Indian front …

In more than 1000 Indic books, that record more than 10,000 years of history, there is no instance of any dispute reaching an Indic King.

The longest ancient epic in the world, The Mahabharata has no incident where a private dispute reached Yudhisthir (though a mongoose could lecture the King about sacrifices and yagnas). There was never any case of private dispute, recorded in the Ramayana, that reached Ramachandra (though a dhobi could ‘inform’ the king on bazaar talk about the Queen Sita). Even a poor Brahman, Kautsa, could reach King Raghu for help in the disbursal of guru-dakshina गुरु-दक्षिणा.

Kannagi and Devanthi - The Dream, from the epic Silappadhikaram

Kannagi and Devanthi - The Dream, from the epic Silappadhikaram

In yet another instance, rulers were warned against disproportionate punishment – through the Mandavya incident. Mandavya, was punished by Yama (the God of Death) for his ‘crimes’ as a child, of hurting insects. Through a chain events, Mandavya ended up, impaled on a trident /stake.  After best efforts to remove the offending weapon, a part remains inside  Mandavya’s body.

With a trident through his body, Mandavya confronted Yama. Mandavya, the sage, berates Yama for ‘criminalising’ children. Codifying the principle of juvenile justice, Mandavya exhorts “that no action committed by a human being till he is fourteen years of age shall be regarded as a sin  which it would thereafter.” In turn, Mandavya curses Yama to be born as a shudra child – to learn about the ‘reality’ of life. Yama, born to shudra woman, became Vidura, Dhritarashtra’s court.

In Buddha’s childhood, an injured swan becomes a point of legal dispute with his cousin, Devadatta. The injured swan, Devadatta’s hunting /archery practice target, was claimed by Siddhartha. Some minister’s preferred Prince Siddhartha’s claim, due to his position. Since the hunt was not for food, but for pleasure, Devadutta’s claim over the swan was seen as weak. Finally the claim of the saviour was seen as superior to the claim of the hunter /captor. Replace the swan, with a slave, and the legal principle for any dispute between a slave-owner versus slave-liberator, is established. The same principle is evidenced in Artha-shastra in many shlokas.

The Tamil classic, Silappadikaram, is ancient Tamil drama about the perils of royal justice.  Silappadhikaram is, a literary critic informs us is “a saga of the of the cult of the Goddess Pattini … the first ripe fruit of the Aryan-Dravidian synthesis in Tamil Nadu.” Who is Goddess Pattini? Once a widely worshipped Goddess in South India, now limited to modern Sri Lanka “Pattini was an angry deity, whose anger was directed at evil people and she is also associated with rational justice.” The destruction of the city by Pattini, the Goddess of ‘rational’ justice, is a warning against vengeful royal ‘justice’ – and instead move towards ameliorative Indic justice system.

Elango Adigal warns Indic kings from taking over and  interfering with dispute resolution mechanisms. The Pandyan King, Neduncheziyan, in  Silappadikaram, comes to grief, after royal intervention goes horribly wrong, resulting in miscarriage of justice.

It gets worse! No prisons …

Modern econometric modelling shows that for much of the last 1000 years, India has been a significant economic power – till the 1900. China and India, this analysis estimates, for the last 1000 years, accounted for 50% of the world economy. Statistical analyses showed India with a world trade share of 25% for much of the 500 years during 1400-1900. The interesting (historical) aspect of the criminal management story is the absence of any surviving mass jails in India prior to colonial India. Just how did pre-colonial India, one of the largest (and most prosperous) populations of the world, deal with crime and criminals?

Without prisons!

But then crime rate in India must be really high …

Cut to modern India. With such an inheritance, India has the lowest prison population in the world. How can India have such a low prison population, with a poor police-to-population ratio and a crime rate which is not above the average – in spite of a large civilian gun population.

All the 5 indices (below) create a bias for a lawless Indian society and rampant crime. With these five indices, namely: –

  1. Police to population ratio (‘increase police force’)
  2. Prison population (‘put more criminals behind bars’)
  3. Capital punishment (‘kill enough criminals to instill fear’)
  4. Poverty (‘it is poverty which the root of all crime’)
  5. Gun ownership (‘more guns means more crime’)

against a stable social system, how does current day India manage low-to-average crime rates. More than 2000 years ago, Megasthenes a Greek traveller to India wrote,

Theft is of very rare occurrence. Megasthenes says that those who were in the camp of Sandrakottos, wherein lay 400,000 men, found that the thefts reported on any one day did not exceed the value of two hundred drachmae, and this among a people who have no written laws

Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ ‘shubh labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, the West in which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade.

In modern times, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virusthough a power in computing industry. In August 2008, a hoax story alleged that an Indian hacker, had broken into a credit card database, and sold it to the European underworld. Some ‘experts’ feared that this would spark of a crime wave across Europe.

The Indic model of justice, crime and law

Evidence of a different Indic system goes far back in history. To Lipit Ishtar, Hittite laws, Hammurabi et al. At least as far back as 4000 years back in history. Indian kings did not deliver justice. It was done at the local level by panchayats पंचायत. Indian justice systems did not rely on imprisonment or executions or the police to control crime!

The answer – the world’s most stable marriage system and the extended family-social structures took care of the wayward.

Still from Breaker Morant - Edward Woodward, 3rd from left, portrayed Harry 'Breaker' Morant

Still from Breaker Morant - Edward Woodward, 3rd from left, portrayed Harry 'Breaker' Morant

A recent Hollywood film on the Desert Bloc system of justice was the schizophrenic Breaker Morant – by Bruce Beresford. In the closing lines of Breaker Morant, when asked about his religion, Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant declares that he is a pagan.

When the execution detail comes to get Morant and Handcock, the military chaplain asks their religious affiliation. “Pagan.” replies Morant. “What’s a pagan?” inquires Handcock. Morant replies, “Well, it’s somebody who doesn’t believe there’s a divine being dispensing justice to mankind.” Handcock nods and says to the chaplain, “I’m a pagan too.” (extract from Wikipedia; accessed on 25th January, 2010).

I have always wondered how much the writer knew – and understood the import of that statement.

Crumbling edifice

In India, under the onslaught of the Desert Bloc, Akbar-Birbal stories, Tenali Ram-Krishna Devaraya were used to create expectations of a Wise King. From then on, the Indic system of justice crumbled at a faster pace.

Is it that Indians were ‘saints’ and did not have private disputes? Were they so civilized that they could solve all disputes by talking to each other? Is it that Indian kings were not bothered about delivery of justice!

By Richard Brust

PT Barnum – Seven Pillars of Western Wisdom

Sanitize and smuggle

With passage of time, the real harm to the Indian society by some of the foreign rulers is forgotten. For instance, the Mughal period saw the impoverishment of the Indian farmer, due to uncertainty over land title, whimsical tax regimes – and not the religious agenda, which has been ‘sold’ to Indians. By latter colonial rulers, the British.

We may see a repeat of the same phenomenon, this time, seeing the colonial rule through rose-tinted glasses. Colonialism was an unmitigated disaster – and should be clearly remembered as such.

We may see attempts to cover up the colonial misrule, by ‘academics’ whose motives are not always obvious or in the open. One such ‘academic’ is Kishore Mahbubani.

Kishore Mahbubani

Kishore Mahbubani

Gushing Press

H.E.Professor Dr.Kishore Mahbubani, of the National University of Singapore, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy has recently written a book.

In an interview with The Times Of India he opined, a cloying, subservient and ignorant view of the modern history. “Asia has benefited immensely from the western seven pillars of wisdom — free market, science and technology, meritocracy, pragmatism, culture of peace, rule of law and education” says Mahbubani.

On Mahbubani, comments The Economist, very patronisingly, “Kishore Mahbubani makes some sensible recommendations.” Strangely, The Economist, says this is “an anti-Western polemic, designed to wake up Americans and Europeans by making them angry. In that goal, it will certainly be successful.” Reportedly, The Economist, has decided that Kishore Mahbubani is an “Asian Toynbee preoccupied with the rise and fall of civilisations.”

Echoing The Economist, is The Shanghai Daily, which pronounces “Singaporean author Kishore Mahbubani has been likened to an Asian Toynbee”. Joining the fray, The Deccan Herald chips in with “Kishore Mahbubani is the ultimate foreign policy guru.” Niranjan Rajadhyaksa of The Mint (a HT-WSJ publication) intones,“Asia has both suffered and learnt a lot from the West … Mahbubani has been extremely fair.”

I tried disagreeing. I thought I had overwhelming evidence. But after the Mahbubani experience, with liberal doses of assistance from St.Barnum’s (patron saint of propaganda), I must admit, I was enlightened.

And I also want to know, who your PR agency is, Kishorbhai!

Ulta Chor Kotwal Ko Datein

1. Free Markets

I was a non-believer in Western commitment to free markets. After reading Kishore Mahbubani, I realized, I was reading too much propaganda about how Indian mangoes could not be exported to USA for the last 18 years – because of pesticide residues.

India, (wrongly) disallowed imports of allegedly, ‘over-priced, gas-guzzling, polluting’ Harley-Davidson motorcycles. USA, in turn taught India a thing or two about free trade. After a sufficiently, enlightened India, lifted restrictions on imports of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, pesticide residues disappeared, and the US allowed imports of Indian mangoes again.

I am sure that Indian farmers, with some devious trickery, ensured that pesticide residues vanished.

For the last 300 years, the West restricted imports of fabrics and garments. Dhaka’s de-urbanization due to this in the 1800-1900 is written into history – wrongly. The last law was the MFA agreement which created a quota-based regime for textiles, in the West.

Agricultural subsidies of nearly US$20 billion dollars by USA and EU, to their farmers are also in the spirit of free trade. For the benefit of the starving Rest, the West is giving these subsidies to Western farmers, to lower food prices. How does it matter that the agricultural economy of the recipient nations gets destroyed!

West Is Best!!

Things like non-tariff barriers are hokum and over-worked Eastern imagination. The story of repeated and frequent rejection of mushroom exports from India is also in the spirit of free trade.

Indian applications for ‘equivalence’ certificates have been pending with EU for the last 7-8 years – and not processed for the last 7-8 years due to lack of manpower. Interim annuals approvals are given instead – in the spirit of free trade, after some ‘concessions’.

Of course, the Western zeal for free trade extends to enforcing opium trade (just ask the Chinese). Kishorebhai, I only wish, ignorant Easterner that I am, is that we in India can enforce ‘free trade’ in opium today in USA and the Europe.

When the ignorant East, did not see the benefits of Western invention of free trade, the West was compelled to use force (remember Commodore Perry? For more details, ask the Japanese).

St.Barnum’s Says

Mahbubani’s assertions are right. These ‘facts’ above are like a bikini. What they reveal is indicative, what they conceal is vital! In this case, the Western spirit of free trade. How can the ignorant East, question Western wisdom – or ethics, integrity, motives? Of course, all these cases and incidents are a conspiracy to defame the West.

2. Science & Technology

Before Western invention of Science and Technology, what did the East know?

Zilch. Zero. Sifr. Shunya. That is all. This claim about India inventing the zero and infinity is probably right. Because they had infinite knowledge about Zero – and nothing else. All their books about geometry (Aryabhatta, Bhaskara) are just figments of Eastern imagination. Eastern knowledge about eclipse prediction has now been proved wrong by Kishore Mahbubani’s expose. Indian shipbuilders and steel technology was just puffery – as demonstrated by Kishore Mahbubani.The Hulk Dropped The Easter Island Statues

Of course as Hegel said, there is no African history. I realize after reading Kishore Mahbubani’s interview that there is only Western Science and Technology. It must have been some Westerners behind the ‘achievements’ of China, Africa and India.

How ignorant I was before being enlightened by Kishorebhai!

PT Barnum adds – Are you not forgetting the option of crediting aliens?


Poor ‘Blacks’!

They were always mislead by their leaders. The only place in the world that they could find equity, was in the West. If the West had not ‘bought’ these poor ‘Blacks’ and allegedly ‘enslaved’ them, they would have still have been in Africa – and lost the benefits of the Western meritocracy. Some Black leaders are today claiming that they have even contributed to Western technology.

The sheer audacity!


Similarly, if the Gypsies had not left India, (supposedly) a thousand years ago, they would have lost all the benefits of Western civilization. Early Punjabi settlers in USA did not properly understand their position in Western society. They were basically inferior people who demanded equality to their White masters.

This mis-perception, of course, created misdirected protests. These ignorant immigrants from the East did not properly understand Western meritocracy.

The Wisdom Of St.Barnum If Japanese and Chinese immigrants faced discrimination in the USA, it was their fault – why did they have to look different?

4. Pragmatism

I agree that the West is truly pragmatic!

Dr.RA Mashelkar, a senior scientist and administrator, writes:

“A recent study by an Indian expert group examined randomly selected 762 US patents, which were granted under A61K35/78 and other IPC classes, having a direct relationship with medicinal plants in terms of their full text. Out of these patents, 374 patents were found to be based on traditional knowledge …”

After annihilating the Australian Aborigines, the Australian Government decided to apologize. What more does the world expect? This apology from the magnanimous West was as pragmatic as anyone can get! Kishorebhai, we have a saying in India, about cats going on a pilgrimage after killing a hundred rats. In this case, of course, the West went one better. They killed millions of humans – and apologized for that!

Western practice of Pragmatism at its best!

St.Barnum sez – What could be more pragmatic? I agree with Kishore Mahbubani!The Pollution Conundrum

5. Culture Of Peace

The Native Americans were wiped out – nearly the entire race! Today they are a relic – a tourist attraction! Like rare animals in a zoo!

Aborigines in Australia have similarly been annihilated. Two world wars in a space of 40 years. The entire Jewish population of the world has been reduced to 10 million – by the West.

But, Kishore Mahbubani says, the Western civilization is about peace! And he is right!

These wars were forced upon the West – and were fought to bring peace on Earth. Now since there are no Native Americans  and Aborigines, how can there be a war with the Native Americans and Aborigines. Similarly, if there are no Jews, there cannot be a war with the Jews. The West is also trying to cleanse the earth of all Muslims. Then there cannot be a war with Muslims also.

St.Barnum pays a tribute to Kishore Mahbubani – Kishorebhai, you concept of culture of peace is stunning to say the least. Hats off.

6.Rule of Law

Completely true and a matter of fact!

Consider the Western laws on slavery! And those related to minorities! Or current laws in the UK and US to deal with terrorism.

The disenfranchisement laws came into effect by the 1890’s – that continue till today. This ensured that the disproportionate numbers of ‘Blacks’ could not vote – and George Bush became the President of the USA for the 2nd time. After some 60,000 ‘Black’ Voters were disenfranchised, George Bush technically, won by less than 1000 votes (most of the disenfranchised voters were expected to vote against George Bush).

Petty crime (where poor) ‘Blacks’ were convicted in higher ratios were grounds for disenfranchisement. These laws ensured that 10 times higher number of ‘Blacks’ were disqualified compared to Whites. If that is not bad enough, it continues till now. Such tactics continue to be used to limit Black participation in democracy.

In 1904, the US pressured Tomas Estrada Palma, a ‘puppet’ Cuban President, to sign the Platt Amendment. This allowed US intervention in Cuban affairs, if ‘vital’ US  interests were at risk (meaning at US will) – finally modified only in 1934. The many laws which made Gypsy hunting legal – like laws which made hunting animals legal. The latest news in that Italians are going to crack down on Gypsies – as per a EU law.

St.Barnum confirms – Yes, Kishore Sir! The West believes in laws.

The Usual Suspects


I must admit, that Western education does achieve its goals!

West does produce leaders, generation after generation, who relentlessly execute the same agenda. The annihilation, the massacre, the pogroms – against natives in America and Australia, minorities like Gypsies, Jews and various Christian sects. The kidnapping of Aboriginal and Gypsy children. The massacres in Africa – from Roman times to 20th century. And now the specter of Islamic Demonization.

St.Barnum adds – This degree of continuity and consistency is missing with others. There is something about Western education Mr.Mahbubani, I agree.

Country Model of the West

The real country model that the West manages itself on is something else Mr.Mahbubani. Loot – of gold, resources, ideas. And slavery. Add significant amounts of fraud.

Nothing more and nothing less. And their strategy to ‘white wash’ this – propaganda. With Kishorebhai’s plausible sincerity, I am not quite able to decide if Kishorebhai is an innocent and ignorant victim of Western propaganda or a part of the propaganda.

Either way, his book and his ideas are trash – and this post is a case of intellectual slumming.

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