Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan: India’s Defence Vision

Posted in British Raj, China, India, Indo Pak Relations, Pax Americana, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on October 30, 2012

With Agni, Brahmos missiles, Arjun MBT, Tejas LCA and the induction of a stealth fighter in ten years, Indian defence posture will have a profile that will intimidate any aggressor – adequately.

A Puff Of Dust

India’s collective memory plays strange tricks.

British Raj no longer evokes outrage or indignation in India, within a few decades after the end of colonial rule. The same British Raj, who were overseers of India’s rapid decline from the richest economy to the poorest in a short span of 100 years. Britain’s rapid decline after the loss of India rarely registers on Indian minds.

Inspite of a nuclear neighbourhood, defence issues are not electoral hot-buttons in India’s mind-scape. China and Pakistan apart, the three other nuclear powers, (USA, Britain, France) also have military presence in India’s immediate vicinity. In India’s collective memory, its remarkable rise from the Great Bengal Famine of 1941 to overflowing food godowns in 2011 is lost in the media din and NGO activism.

But then, this par for the course, for a society that keeps re-indexing even heroes like Raghu Ramachandra and Yadu Krishna.

Walk The Talk …

65 years later, after the end of colonial rule, the Indian State, is trying to be all things to all people – with giant-schemes like MNREGA and AADHAR. LB Shastri’s policy of Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan committed the Indian State to two objectives – India will not go hungry and India will not back down, militarily. To an India recovering from colonial loot of the British Raj, these were the two non-negotiables.

Ten years after Shastri’s Jai Jawan Jai Kisan policy, by 1975, India had achieved food security at a national level. Defence parity with immediate and emerging threats was another matter – and will probably take till 2025.

Today these may seem within reach – but back then in 1965, it the dark night seemed stretch endlessly ahead.

Kargil Infographic - Source & courtesy - globalsecurity.org

Kargil Infographic – Source & courtesy – globalsecurity.org

Trouble In The Barrio

India shares borders with two nuclear neighbors – unlike any other country in the world. India has also fought four wars with Pakistan, one with China and managed another war-scenario with Portugal.

Pakistan had to eat crow on all four occasions. Indian acceptance of Chinese ceasefire, made the Chinese campaign look better than the probable outcome had the war continued. India’s Goa campaign, does not even find a mention in Indian military history – even though India stared down a Western-colonial power.

Parity & Proportion

Fifty years after LB Shastri’s death, by 2016, India will probably start seeing military parity in the modern era. Behind this parity, are two developments in India’s defence posture.

One is the Indo-Russian development of the Brahmos missile. The world’s only supersonic missile, at many times the speed of sound, the Brahmos completes its attack in 5-10 minutes of its launch. There is currently no system whatsoever that can stop a Brahmos. Based on ramjet engines, Brahmos has no global rival.

Flying just 15 metres above water level, Brahmos is virtually invisible to radar, when launched from a warship. Fully mobile, it can stop an invading land-unit. The air-version, to be deployed soon, will probably shoot down an enemy aircraft even before it enters Indian airspace.

You Talkin’ To Me

The Americans, without a similar missile, have been talking-up an electromagnetic railgun – which can only be launched from nuclear warships, due to enormous electrical requirements. These railguns under development for more than 60 years now, cannot knock out a Brahmos. Being very compact, Brahmos can be launched from multiple platforms.

Further, Indo-Russian teams of defence scientists are developing Brahmos from supersonic to hypersonic missile. The Brahmos uses a ramjet engine technology that even the US or the EU don’t have. Brahmos effectively creates a 200 km barrier in Indian airspace, at borders and on the coastline – at a very low-cost. Guided by the Russian Glonass system, Brahmos is not dependent on the American GPS system.

By 2025, India would have deployed enough numbers of Brahmos missiles, to deter any invader.

The Big Whale

Two – The other major development is the T-50 Fifth-Generation Fighter-Aircraft (FGFA). Currently, the only FGFA actually deployed is the the US F-22 Raptor. Grounded due to faulty oxygen-supply system, the F-22 may never be able to match the T-50 FGFA, based on current evaluations – and comes at more than three times the expected price of the Indo-Russian T-50 FGFA.

Interestingly, India’s choice of Rafale, in the MMRCA tender, could be a crucial technology bridge that will enhance the Russian FGFA into a super-FGFA Indian version – like how the SU-27 became the SU-30MKI. For long, the SU-30 was a export product – and recently, the Russian airforce has ordered a domestic version, which is based on the Indian design.

The choice of Rafale is closely tied to transfer of AESA-radar technology – which currently, apart from US and Russia, no other country has. The Eurofighter Typhoon is expecting to get that technology a few years down the road. France is forming a JV-company between Thales and BEL to produce the AESA radar in India.

F-22 Raptor – Running or Hiding?

Curiously, the US has decided to stop the manufacture of F-22 Raptor aircraft. The F-22 Raptor aircraft was also not used in recent Libya operations or sold to any foreign US ally. But, while the US was ‘unwilling’ to sell the F-22 Raptor, the US has pressured eight of its allies to join the newer F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project. So, while the US was reluctant to sell the older F-22 Raptor, it is very eager to sell the F-35 to it allies and client-States.

Was the US hiding ‘secret’ technology – or hiding technology defects?

The FGFA for USA + 8 Allies - The F-35 (JSF) Variants

The FGFA for USA + 8 Allies – The F-35 (JSF) Variants

The next FGFA from the US, the F-35 is nearly US$250 billion in development, technically unstable, facing critical problems – and not yet in production. In contrast, the Indo-Russian T-50 FGFA is currently budgeted at less than US$40 billion.

Delays and cost overruns have plagued the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – which at $238bn is the Pentagon’s biggest weapons procurement programme – and one variant of the plane suffered cracks in the bulkhead after it had flown just 1,500 hours out of a planned 16,000.The US Air Force has also had to ground dozens of F-22 fighter jets for the second time this year, after a pilot had experienced oxygen deficiency in the cockpit, officers reported in early October. The announcement follows the air force’s highly unusual step of grounding the entire Raptor fleet between May and mid-September, to allow engineers to investigate possible problems with the plane’s oxygen supply

Elaborate tests and safety measures have nevertheless failed to locate the precise source of the fault. The latest case follows around a dozen previous incidents affecting F-22 pilots over a three-year period, the circumstances of which the US Air Force is reluctant to discuss in detail.

At a cost of nearly $150 million a plane, the F-22 Raptor is designed mainly for dogfights against rival fighter jets, and the radar-evading aircraft were not deployed in the Nato-led campaign over Libya.

via Top attack aircraft – T-50 to J20 – Airforce Technology.

Enormously complex, the F-35 project aims to deliver three versions of the aircraft.

Cost apart, there is also the matter of design-logic. While the F-35 seeks to attack deep in enemy territory, relying on radar evasion through stealth technology, the T-50 FGFA is designed to ensure that air dominance is not lost. While the F-35 relies on stealth technology, the T-50 depends to extreme maneuverability to win an aerial dog fight. The idea of deep-penetration-and-strike mission by a stealth aircraft was thoroughly discredited after the Serbs shot down America’s stealth aircraft, F-117 Nighthawk with a vintage Soviet-era S-125Neva anti-aircraft system in 1999.

The attack role of the F-35 will increasingly be the domain of cheaper missiles and drones – not expensive stealth aircraft.

The Russians are not looking to make the aerodynamic tradeoffs to stealth that the US has made, for a variety of reasons including the effectiveness and costs of such stealth. Given that stealth in the real world would be far less effective than the advertised “metal marble” because the enemy may not always come exactly head on, nor use the radar’s that the F-22s were tested with. Nor would any future competent enemy only have one radar on (but rather a plethora of ground and airborne radars at various frequencies). Further, wear and tear in a real world operational scenario are likely to reduce stealth.

via Grande Strategy.

On the other hand, T-50 will do a better job on denial of air-superiority, even against stealth aircraft. Since stealth aircraft have a small and low radar profile, a missile attack on a stealth-fighter will probably be unsuccessful – and a T-50 type of fighter plane may be a better aircraft for an aerial dog-fight with a stealth fighter.

Main performance characteristics of Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet and similar foreign aircraft  |  Source & credit embedded in image.

Main performance characteristics of Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet and similar foreign aircraft | Source & credit embedded in image.

Models From Russia

With three prototypes and nearly 150 flights to its credit, the T-50 FGFA will start rolling off Russian assembly lines in four years.

Twenty-one months after first flight at Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Siberia, the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fleet recorded its 100th flight on 3 November.

For perspective, the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme needed 31 months from the first take-off by the AA-1 test aircraft to pass the 100th flight mark.

via Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA passes 100th flight milestone – The DEW Line.

Europeans would still be tinkering with their 4G++ Euro-fighter Typhoon – even as India will be a FGFA manufacturer.

One notable feature that India wants is a 360° active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar rather than the more conventional AESA found on the original Russian aircraft. A 360° AESA would be a first for any fighter on the planet, and it will undoubtedly be expensive.

via Indian PAK-FA variant delayed by two years – The DEW Line.

AESA, Waisa, Kaisa

The 360° active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar is already in use on the sub-sonic Indian indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C), mounted on a Brazilian Embraer aircraft using about 60 antennae and sensors.

Work on the crucial transceiver unit is happening in parallel. Meanwhile the Russians are developing an AESA system using X-band radar antenna containing over 1,000 solid transmit/receive modules. India’s own development direction seems to be different from others. Russia’s offer to fully transfer AESA radar technology of Zhuk-ME system, from Phazotron-NIIR Corporation did not get much traction in India.

The Chinese J-20 FGFA, by most expert opinion, is dead in water – without an engine, AESA radar, technologies that the Chinese lack.

The Chinese J-20 (Mighty Dragon) fifth-generation fighter jet program is advancing in truly huge strides. The jet has already made over 60 test flights, performing elements of aerial acrobatics.

In 2009, General He Weirong, Deputy Commander of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force estimated that the J-20 would be operational no earlier than in 2017-2019. Now it appears Chinese engineers have done a great job and the jet is much closer to being ready than expected.

Created by Chengdu Aircraft Corporation, this heavy fighter jet is the first military plane China has constructed on its own, without visible attempts at copying foreign technology. It resembles neither the American Raptor F-22, nor the Russian T-50 PAK-FA.

Though peculiar forms of the jet and technical decisions allegedly realized in the vehicle might be questionable, one thing about this plane is an established fact.

As of now, the J-20 flies with two Russian AL-31F jet engines it borrowed from the Russian Su-27 fighter jet that entered Chinese service in the mid-1980s.

China also tried to put engines of their own on a second test J-20 vehicle, but the copycat of the Soviet engine AL-31F made by China is not in the same league as the Russian analogue for reliability and durability.

The real problem is both AL-31F and Chinese version are engines of the previous generation.

No question the Chinese jet is a prototype model and technology demonstration vehicle called to test new equipment and technology. Defined as a technology showroom, it may fly whatever engines its creator considers possible. But China has no working engine for a 5G jet.

via Chinese ‘Mighty Dragon’ doomed to breathe Russian fire — RT.

By 2025

With the Brahmos and T-50 FGFA, Indian defence will be able to hold on against any force in the world. By 2025, India’s Arjun MBT platform will be stable. The LCA will be in a position to bulk up the IAF. Indian shipyards will start delivering aircraft carriers. Agni missile family will make for a formidable missile array that can attack targets 5000 miles away.

Most importantly, this military parity will be achieved at a cost that India can sustain – and only India can manage.

Following India, Russia has taken some baby-steps in initiating defence ties with Israel and France. Based on an expanding defence trade with India, by 2025 France and Israel may join the Indo-Russian defence alliance.

This will further deepen the technology base – and drive down costs, to levels that Indians apart, no one even imagines.

What about China

If China has been given less importance in this post, it is for a reason.

Between 1990-2000, as the Soviet economy went into a tailspin, Russian defence producers had no customers and no money. Cut-off from Russian State funding, defence production and research suffered.

A year after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a cash-strapped Kremlin began selling China a chunk of its vast military arsenal, including the pride of the Russian air force, the Sukhoi-27 fighter jet.

For the next 15 years, Russia was China’s biggest arms supplier, providing $20 billion to $30 billion of fighters, destroyers, submarines, tanks and missiles. It even sold Beijing a license to make the Su-27 fighter jet—with imported Russian parts.

Today, Russia’s military bonanza is over, and China’s is just beginning.

After decades of importing and reverse-engineering Russian arms, China has reached a tipping point: It now can produce many of its own advanced weapons—including high-tech fighter jets like the Su-27—and is on the verge of building an aircraft carrier.

Not only have Chinese engineers cloned the prized Su-27’s avionics and radar but they are fitting it with the last piece in the technological puzzle, a Chinese jet engine.

In the past (few) years, Beijing hasn’t placed a major order from Moscow.

Now, China is starting to export much of this weaponry, undercutting Russia in the developing world, and potentially altering the military balance in several of the world’s flash points.

Russia’s predicament mirrors that of many foreign companies as China starts to compete in global markets with advanced trains, power-generating equipment and other civilian products based on technology obtained from the West.

In this case, there is an additional security dimension, however: China is developing weapons systems, including aircraft carriers and carrier-based fighters, that could threaten Taiwan and test U.S. control of the Western Pacific.

Chinese exports of fighters and other advanced weapons also threaten to alter the military balance in South Asia, Sudan and Iran.

But no other Asian country has sought to project military power—and had the indigenous capability to do so—since Japan’s defeat in 1945.

China’s rapid mastery of Russian technology raises questions about U.S. cooperation with the civilian faces of Chinese arms makers.

While Russia worries about intellectual property, other countries are concerned about security. The arms programs China initiated two or three decades ago are starting to bear fruit, with serious implications for the regional—and global—military balance.

The J-11B is expected to be used by the Chinese navy as its frontline fighter, capable of sustained combat over the entire East China Sea and South China Sea.

Aircraft carriers and J-15 fighters would further enhance its ability to stop the U.S. intervening in a conflict over Taiwan, and test its control of the Western Pacific.

China’s arms exports could have repercussions on regions in conflict around the world. Pakistan inducted its first squadron of Chinese-made fighter jets in February, potentially altering the military balance with India.

Other potential buyers of China’s JF-17 fighter jet include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Nigeria, Morocco and Turkey. In the past, China has also sold fighters to Sudan.

The potential customer of greatest concern to the U.S. is Iran, which purchased about $260 million of weapons from China between 2002-2009, according to Russia’s Centre for Analysis of the Global Arms Trade.

via China Clones, Sells Russian Fighter Jets – WSJ.com.

Su-30MKI Fighter that has become the mainstay of IAF. Image source & credits embedded.

Su-30MKI Fighter that has become the mainstay of IAF. Image source & credits embedded.

Indian and Chinese defence contracts played a huge role in saving Russian defence industry. During this same period, to overcome supply disruptions, the Chinese decided to expropriate Russian defence products without licence or consent.

It said that while more than 90% of China’s major conventional weapons imports came from Russia between 1991 and 2010, the volume of imports had declined dramatically in the last five years.

Russia’s diversified customer base, which allowed it to take a tougher negotiating stance with China, particularly given anxiety about how China would use its purchases.

“Russia is unwilling to provide China with advanced weapons and technology, primarily because it is concerned that China will copy Russian technology and compete with Russia on the international arms market,” said Holtom.

“The nature of the arms transfer relationship will increasingly be characterised by competition rather than co-operation.”

via Russia arrests Chinese ‘spy’ in row over defence weapons | World news | The Guardian.

Russians cite many cases where China has ‘copied’ Russian defence items.

It is an open secret that China has copied quite a number of Russian weapons. The list begins with Soviet I-15 and I-16 fighter jets, not to mention the legendary Kalashnikov rifle.

The list continues with D-30 howitzer, BMP-1 armored vehicle, BMP-3, Malyutka anti-tank complex, An-12 military cargo plane, Strela-2 shoulder-fired missile complex, S-300 missile system, Msta-S howitzer, Smerch volley-fire system and other weaponry. The last rip-off report was referred to Su-33 deck-based fighter jet.

China previously had the licensed production of Soviet Romeo submarines, which were dubbed in China as “Type 39.” Chinese engineers acknowledged that their developments were based on Russian state-of-the-art defense technologies. However, they vehemently denied the fact of blunt copying claiming that that they had considerably improved them.

It may seem strange that Russia has not set forth any claims to China yet. However, China is Russia’s long-time partner in the field of arms trade and Russia is not willing to ruin relations with China. Does Russia overestimate the importance of defense cooperation with the Asian giant? China usually makes small one-time purchases that do not bring much profit to Russia. Moreover, the purchases are made to simply copy the original. For example, the Chinese bought one or two radars for fighter jets from Russia only to launch their serial production several years later.

via China to conquer world arms market with poor quality rip-offs – English pravda.ru.

For close to fifteen years, China alongwith India were major buyers of Russian defence products.

For almost two decades, it was close to the perfect match of buyer and seller.

Denied weapons and defense technology from the West, China was almost totally reliant on Russia for the hardware it needed to jump-start an ambitious military buildup. And while the Russian economy teetered in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, huge orders from China helped keep a once-mighty defense industry afloat.

After orders peaked at more than $2 billion a year early in this decade, Chinese arms deals with Russia shrank to almost nothing in 2006, and no major new contracts are in the pipeline, according to Russian, Chinese and U.S. defense experts.

In the meantime, Russia – which, with its economy booming, is no longer dependent on arms sales to China.

Some Chinese analysts suggest that Russia, the world’s second-ranked arms supplier behind the United States, is also concerned about the threat of competition from the Chinese defense industry.

Russian analysts estimate that arms deliveries to China from 1992 to 2006 were valued at $26 billion.

Total Russian arms exports over that period were estimated at more than $58 billion.

With a Western embargo on arms sales to China having been in place since the Tiananmen (1989), it was these weapons from Russia that allowed the People’s Liberation Army to reduce a yawning gap in technology and firepower.

Chinese experts say the army wants access to the most advanced Russian weaponry, including strategic bombers, tanks, attack helicopters and manufacturing technology for high-performance aircraft engines.

A decade ago, as military spending shriveled, a slump in orders from China would have been disastrous for Russian arms makers. That is no longer the case, with the Russian economy growing at 8.1 per cent on the back of rising energy and commodity exports, according to official economic statistics.

With Moscow running a budget surplus, there are orders in the pipeline to supply the Russian military with hardware that until recently could only be sold abroad. And overall arms exports remain buoyant, particularly to India, a long-term client that Moscow views with far less suspicion than China.

Russia has also signed lucrative arms deals with new customers including Algeria and Venezuela in recent years.

To add to Beijing’s frustration, some of the Russian transfers to India include weapons and technology that Moscow refuses to supply to China. Moscow and New Delhi agreed to begin the joint development of a new, so-called fifth-generation fighter, the Russian government announced in October.

This aircraft would be a potential rival in performance to the U.S. F-22 Raptor, defense analysts say.

India also agreed last year to buy another 40 Su-30MKI fighters from Russia for $1.5 billion in addition to an earlier order for 140 of these aircraft. Some military experts say this versatile, twin-engined jet is probably the best fighter and strike aircraft in the world. But Russia has not offered it to China. And Moscow is offering to sell India its latest fighter, the MiG-35.

In nuclear submarine technology, Russia has also been more generous with India than with China, naval experts say.

Still, with the Western arms embargo on China still in place, most analysts expect that Moscow and Beijing will eventually negotiate compromises.

via Russia and China rethink arms deals – The New York Times.

Probably the biggest break-point was when China offered a SU-27 aircraft in the international market.

Last year, Russian aircraft sales internationally topped $3 billion – second only to the US. But others too want a slice of the aviation pie.

Fake Su-27s are widely offered in the world arms market. “Sooner or later, Russian arms traders will face competition from the Chinese colleagues,” he told RT.

China was given the design plans for the Russian fighter jet in 1995, when it promised to buy 200 kits and assemble them domestically. After building 100 planes, the Chinese said the Russian plane did not meet specifications, only for a copycat version soon to appear – “Made in China” – without copyright.

The threat from China is real, and it will be difficult for the Russian aviation industry to maintain its lofty position, and soar further unless it manages to better protect its intellectual rights and also find new ways of co-operating with its eastern neighbor.

Although it made its maiden flight over 30 years ago, the Su-27 remains the bedrock of the Russian air force, and is highly popular abroad.

Some are calling for calm over the controversy. While the similarities between the two planes are clear, experts say the Chinese J11B does not have the latest Russian high-tech features and will be no match for it on the international market.

Chinese version of Russian jet endangers bilateral relations — RT.

Russia went to the extent of arresting a Chinese national in Russia on charges of industrial espionage – a rare event in Russia.

Russia‘s security service has revealed that it arrested a suspected Chinese spy who posed as a translator while seeking sensitive information on an anti-aircraft system.

The man, identified as Tun Sheniyun, was arrested on 28 October last year, the federal security service (FSB) said in a statement cited by RIA-Novosti news agency.

It was unclear why the FSB disclosed the arrest on Wednesday, less than one week before the prime minister, Vladimir Putin, travels to China on an official visit.

The alleged spy was acting “under the guise of a translator of official delegations”, the statement said.

He had “attempted to obtain technological and maintenance documents on the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system from Russian citizens for money”, it added.

Last year, Russia delivered 15 S-300 systems to China, a popular Soviet-era arms export, as part of a deal signed several years earlier.

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the centre for analysis of strategies and technologies, a defence thinktank in Moscow, said: “They [the Chinese] are trying to copy this system illegally. They’ve already copied a whole series of our weapons.

“They’re trying to clone the S-300, to serve their interests and also to export. As I understand it, it’s not all working out. They probably wanted extra documentation to better deal with this task of reverse engineering.”

Earlier this year, Ukrainian authorities jailed a Russian man for six years, claiming he was stealing military secrets to further China’s aircraft carrier programme.

In the past two years, Russian customs officials have also accused two Chinese citizens of attempting to smuggle spare parts for Russian fighter jets across the border.

Russia arrests Chinese ‘spy’ in row over defence weapons | World news | The Guardian.

Hat Tip

While China and Pakistan are pariahs in the international arms bazaar, India is a preferred customer. To India’s policy makers and handlers must go the credit for positioning India as a lead partner in the global arms bazaar.

Traditionally Russia has been a stable and safe partner for India. The US has usually avoided arms sales to India – fearing leakage of technology to Russia. However, for its latest F-35 stealth fighter, the US has decided to waive all its habitual hesitation. France, Italy, Israel, Sweden, Britain are all willing to sell any technology, product, service or components that India needs.

China is richer and Pakistan, more mercenary and desperate – yet …

Short, Little Man With A Big Dream

It has taken seventy years, and LB Shastri’s slogan of Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan is on the verge of coming true. For most of the last fifty years, India has been criticized for its slow decision-making, its exhaustive processes, its complex negotiations.

When Pakistan joined CENTO and US armed Pakistan. When Nixon met Mao. When Israel defeated the Arab alliance in the 1973 war. When Reagan ‘partnered’ with Pakistan to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan. After each of these events, commentators lamented about India’s ‘missed’ chances and predicted disaster for the last fifty years. Yet after each decade, India has emerged a step ahead.

Who would have thought, seventy years ago …

Bated Breaths: Government-Change Across The World

Posted in America, China, Current Affairs, Media, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on June 18, 2012

Probably never in history have so many government changes happened in unison. To this add the global crisis in leadership.

A ballot box as a defibrillator?  Revive the Egyptian economy?  |  Cartoon by Luojie from China, Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

A ballot box as a defibrillator? Revive the Egyptian economy? | Cartoon by Luojie from China, Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Between April 2012 and March 2013, four of the five P5 nations with the Security Council veto at UN, will have a change in government. This probably more than in any similar period in history.

For a world, in the middle of The Great Recession, with a global leadership crisis, this period of uncertainty and change, does it mean hope? With empty agendas, greater resentments and despair is more probable.

Take Russia for instance.

A wooden-faced Putin, probably after a botox treatment, has become President amid street protests and allegations of vote rigging – purportedly, engineered by the US.

Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russian president on Monday in a glittering Kremlin ceremony that took place less than 24 hours after protesters opposed to his rule had battled police in downtown Moscow.

Putin’s motorcade had sped through empty streets locked down by a heavy security presence on its way to the Kremlin State Palace, where some 2,000 guests had gathered to witness his inauguration for a six-year term.

Those assembled included Putin’s predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev, and Patriarch Kirill, head of Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church. The patriarch later blessed Putin’s inauguration in a Kremlin service. Former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was also in attendance.

Police made 120 arrests as some 200 people, including Yeltsin-era deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, protested Putin’s return to the presidency at separate locations near the Kremlin.

Over 400 people were arrested and scores injured as Sunday’s rally against Putin’s rule turned violent when protesters briefly broke through police lines in a bid to take their protest to the Kremlin walls.

Putin was forced to step down in 2008 by a Constitution that forbids more than two subsequent terms, but is silent on further presidential stints. He shifted to the post of prime minister after installing Medvedev in the Kremlin, but remained by far Russia’s most powerful politician.

Russia’s Constitution was amended in 2008 to increase the presidential term of office from four years to six.

The amendment means that Putin could remain in power until 2024, longer than any Russian or Soviet leader since dictator Joseph Stalin. (via Putin Returns to Kremlin Amid Protests | Russia | RIA Novosti).

Soon after Vladimir Putin, it was the turn of France to have a new head of State. Right in the middle of a Euro-zone currency and banking crisis, a new French President has taken over.

Unlike the earlier German-French consensus over austerity, Hollande has made some noises against the austerity-led agenda. This opens a new wave of uncertainty across Europe – and the world.

What can embattled Euro-bankrupts expect? A taste of austerity? A helping hand with growth? What will Euro banks get? A haircut or a debt-cut? Euro-Corporations are left struggling with an over-valued Euro-currency, a stagnant home market and a weak global market.

In the meantime France and Germany are discussing how to manage European crisis.

Socialist Francois Hollande has defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential runoff by just over 1 million votes. He won 51 per cent of the vote against his rival’s 49. The president-elect has already pledged “to finish with austerity.”

Hollande will be the first French socialist president of France since 1995. He will be sworn in as new president of France on May 15.

Francois Hollande capitalized on France’s economic woes and President Sarkozy’s unpopularity. He has also promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than €1million a year, and lower the retirement age to 60.

Sarkozy, who has been in office since 2007, had promised to reduce France’s large budget deficit through budget cuts. It is only the second time an incumbent president has failed to win re-election since the start of France’s Fifth Republic in 1958. (via Hollande wins French presidency with 51.7% of votes — RT).

But Angela Merkel’s problems at home may make her more accommodating – or indecisive.

At the recent State elections, in May 2012, for North Rhine-Westphalia or “NRW” region, Europe largest state, also Germany’s most populous (13m), said a resounding ‘nein’ to Merkel’s party – the Christian Democrats.

This could either mean that Merkel becomes more flexible or worse, diffident. Soon after this wave of government changes across the world, Germany itself will be facing elections – between 27 August-27 October 2013.

These elecxtions are likely to be less than likely to be stabilizing  |  Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen of DryBones at Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image

These elecxtions are likely to be less than likely to be stabilizing | Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen of DryBones at Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image

But the Egyptians don’t have wait for so long. On Saturday, 16th June, Egyptians voted

in the first free presidential election in their history to make what many find an unpalatable choice between a military man who served deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak and an Islamist who says he is running for God.

Reeling from a court order two days ago to dissolve a new parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, many question whether generals who pushed aside fellow officer Mubarak last year to appease the pro-democracy protests of the Arab Spring will honor a vow to relinquish power by July 1 to whoever wins.

“Both are useless but we must choose one of them unfortunately,” said Hassan el-Shafie, 33, in Mansoura, north of Cairo, exasperated like many who picked centrists in last month’s first round and now face a choice between two extremes.

With neither a parliament nor a new constitution in place to define the president’s powers, the outcome from Saturday and Sunday’s run-off will still leave 82 million Egyptians, foreign investors and allies in the United States and Europe unsure about what kind of state the most populous Arab nation will be. (via Egypt makes stark choice for president – Yahoo! News).

Free and fair elections? Secret ballot? | Cartoonist - Marian Kamensky from Slovakia; source & courtesy - cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com | Click for image.

Free and fair elections? Secret ballot? | Cartoonist – Marian Kamensky from Slovakia; source & courtesy – cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com | Click for image.

Reports are Egyptians are already missing Hosni Mubarak.

While the Egyptian vote will be talking point in the Islamic world, for the Euro-zone, the election in Greece is more important. The day after the Egyptian election, on Sunday, June 17, 2012, the Greeks voted

in an election that could decide whether their heavily indebted country stays in the euro zone or is forced towards the exit, potentially unleashing shocks that could break up Europe’s single currency.

Opinion polls are banned in the final two weeks of the campaign but party officials’ own estimates on election day showed the radical leftist SYRIZA bloc, which wants to scrap the punishing austerity package demanded by international lenders, neck and neck with the conservative New Democracy party, which broadly supports it. (via Greek voters to decide euro future – Yahoo! News).

The one change in Government that is the most difficult to call is in China. The Chinese duo of Hu-Wen, who have presided over the biggest expansion in China’s economy, are at the verge of retirement.

Though they won’t be saying zai jian 再见 – good-bye, see you soon! Sometime between September 2012-November 2012, 3000 delegates of the Chinese Communist Party of China (CCP), will be meeting

For the new nine-member Politburo Standing Committee to be endorsed at the congress, which marks a transition of power after 10 years of rule under President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

People’s Daily, the CCP’s flagship newspaper, said on May 3 that “at present, the elections” of the 2,200-plus deputies to the 18th party congress are going as scheduled. By April 27, 12 provinces including Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Jilin and Shandong have already decided on their deputies (who in fact are not really “elected” democratically but nominated by grassroots party organs and decided by higher authorities).

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily also reported that deputies to the 18th party congress representing the PLA and the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP) have been nominated for the final approval of the Central Military Commission (CMC). There is no problem for other “constituencies” to complete their selections of deputies before June 30 – the set deadline.

The 18th party congress will be held “in autumn of this year”, in contrast to the official announcement of the CCP Central Committee that it would be held “in the latter half of 2012”. In China, autumn is generally considered to run from September to November.

It will be held in autumn or before the end of November following the party’s tradition. According to party rules and adopted practice, the current central committee will hold its last plenary session to endorse the agenda of the 18th congress shortly before its convention. (via Asia Times Online :: Rumor aside, a smooth transition is assured).

It is the economy stupid!  |  Caetoonist:  Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch at Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

It is the economy stupid! | Caetoonist: Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch at Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Definitely, the most widely covered government-change in the world, the American elections in November has set off an avalanche of speculation in world media.

Speculation has been let loose.

A nuclear deal with Iran? An organized retreat from Afghanistan? The eurozone picking up a little bit of steam? Stable oil prices? Forget it. The crucial foreign elector recruited for Obama II at the White House is one Osama bin Laden. Call it the “Obama nails Osama” winning strategy.

No wonder the winning strategy has been subcontracted to the Hollywood/Pentagon combo. Washington lost the Vietnam War, but won it in on screen. Oscar-winning director Kathryn Hurt Locker Bigelow had already started the process of “winning” the Iraq War on screen – at least morally. Now it’s time for her new project – an as yet untitled movie – on the “Get Osama” May 2011 Abbottabad raid and the events leading up to it. With POTUS (that’s president of the United States) as the hero of his own action movie. (via Asia Times Online :: How Osama re-elects Obama).

Obama is definitely worried about an asteroid like Euro-zone crisis derailing his campaign  |  Cartoonist: Christopher Weyant of The Hill, Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

Obama is definitely worried about an asteroid like Euro-zone crisis derailing his campaign | Cartoonist: Christopher Weyant of The Hill, Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Hollywood has been roped in. The hottest of Silicon Valley ‘brains’ have been called in. But, even then,

If the European crisis explodes or an attack on Iran drives up oil prices, the U.S. economy may tank and render moot all of Messina’s careful planning. Or the recovery could pick up steam, or the old gaffe-prone Romney could return and hand Obama an unexpectedly easy win. (via Messina Consults Jobs to Spielberg in Crafting Obama’s Campaign – Bloomberg).

Analysts have been reading the election-motive in the Chicago-Summit or the G* summit that Obama called for , in Chicago.

It believed that a worried

Barack Obama is to press German chancellor Angela Merkel to support a growth package to help bail out Europe at the G8 summit this weekend amid fears in the White House that the eurozone crisis could damage the president’s re-election chances.

Obama is scheduled to meet Merkel, the new French president François Hollande, the Italian prime minister Mario Monti and British prime minister David Cameron at Camp David on Friday evening.

But foreign affairs analysts said that Obama’s leverage with the European leaders is minimal on this issue. Although the US has the economic muscle to help Europe out of its mess, the Obama administration took the strategic decision not to become involved directly.

Instead, Obama is to use the Camp David summit for some quiet diplomacy, hoping to sway Merkel to endorse some immediate actions to help growth. The problem for Obama is that most of the initiatives being discussed in Europe are medium-term or longer, too late to help him if the European crisis impacts on the US economy in the fall, just ahead of the election in November. (via G8 summit: Obama to press Angela Merkel on eurozone growth package | World news | guardian.co.uk).

Soon after the US President is sworn-in to office by February, Pakistan will go for elections. Unless there is an army coup. Or a US invasion.

Probably, Pakistani Government is the only Government in history, which has taken the help of a foreign government, to invade its own country. It all boils down to

cessation of drone strikes is one of the two preconditions of Pakistan for ending the present standoff that has gone on for more than six months and has caused much tension. The second pre-condition is an apology by the US for the November 26, 2011, airstrike at Salala in North Waziristan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. After this ghastly “friendly fire”, Pakistan had closed the transit route for supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan. It remains shut because US President Barack Obama has refused to apologise, and it is doubtful that in an election year he can change his mind.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also faces election some four months after the presidential poll in the US. He is in no position, therefore, to give up either of the two preconditions prescribed by an all-party committee of Pakistan’s Parliament. The man most pleased with this intractable situation must be the all-powerful Army Chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. Ever since the US attack on Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden 13 months ago, the Pakistan Army has felt humiliated but has successfully turned the public anger over its failure to prevent the incident against America. The anti-American feeling within the Pakistan Army may not be as strident as among the public, especially the jihadis, but it is strong enough. The general can, therefore, sit back while the weak President is left holding the baby.

It is in this context that one must view also the big blow at the Nato Summit on Afghanistan in Chicago last month to the heavily fraught US-Pakistan ties. The US had seen to it that the invitation to Mr Zardari was delivered at the last minute, when it seemed to Washington that Nato supplies through the southern route would be resumed by the time the Pakistani President arrived at the summit.

When this did not happen, Mr Obama gave Mr Zardari a cold shoulder. At the opening of the summit, he did not even acknowledge Mr Zardari’s presence while welcoming Afghan President Hamid Karzai and even “officials” from Russia and Central Asian republics. Moreover, he denied Mr Zardari a one-to-one meeting. In Chicago, there was understandable concern that the widening gulf between the US and Pakistan might “complicate” the planned exit of Western combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

From then on, bilateral talks between America and Pakistan — which have not broken down even though there are senior members in both establishments who would like to end them — are focused on inducements to Pakistan to reopen the supply line. (via US-Pak: Separated, not divorced | The Asian Age).

On most matter, finally, Pakistan has the last word. Here also we will let Pakistan have the last word.

And a very important word, it may turn out to be.

Tagged with: , , , ,

1857 – A Year in Hindsight

Posted in British Raj, Desert Bloc, History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on April 23, 2012

Global power equations in 1857 favored the British. After a 100 years of continuous war, India’s global diplomatic presence was negligible.

Cartoon from the December 1857 Nick-Nax.  |  Source & courtesy - superitch.com  |  Click for image.

The pain of 1857 in America. Cartoon from the December 1857 Nick-Nax. | Source & courtesy - superitch.com | Click for image.

World in 1857

The year of 1857, was a remarkable period for Britain.

Germany was not yet born. With control over Indian gunpowder production, France had been comprehensively defeated – and relegated to second-grade power.

Haiti’s independence started a ripple effect across the Americas, Caribbean – and even Europe. Spain began losing most of its South American colonies. By 1857, Spain and Portugal were in steep decline.

America was preoccupied with slavery and its slow-genocide of the Native Americans. Ottoman Empire was not in expansion mode. Britain was well-prepared to militarily confront China and India. The modernization of Japan was just beginning.

That left only Russia to oppose or challenge Britain.

Beginning of the End

Russia was tamed by the Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856).

Britain, France, Austria, Ottomans, Sardinia (part of Italy now) combined against Russia. Nearly 600,000 killed in fighting, with disease or battle injuries, the Crimean War was fought by a trigger-happy Europe.

The Russian Foreign Minister, a German in Russian employ, Count Karl Robert Nesselrode, told Sir George Hamilton Seymour, the British ambassador that

“violence which had been supposed to be the ultima ratio of kings, , it had been seen, the means which the present Ruler of France was in the habit of employing in the first instance”.

Further, Count Nesselrode seeking British support pointed out that

France was forcing a confrontation and that in the conflict Russia would `face the whole world alone and without allies, because Prussia will be of no account and indifferent to the question, and Austria will be more or less neutral, if not favourable to the Porte’. Moreover, Britain would side with France to exert its superior naval strength, `the theatre being distant, other than soldiers to be employed as a landing force, it will require mainly ships to open to us the Straits of Constantinople [the passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean through the Bosplate and the Dardanelles], and the united naval forces of Turkey, England and France will make quick work of the Russian fleet.’

An interesting personage in the Crimean War was Hugh Henry Rose (6 April 1801 – 16 October 1885) at the British embassy in Constantinople as chargé d’affaires for the British.

Prevailing Complaint, from the December 1857 issue of the comic periodical, Nick-Nax. “Erie” refers to failing stock in the Erie Railroad & Canal.

Prevailing Complaint, from the December 1857 issue of the comic periodical, Nick-Nax. “Erie” refers to failing stock in the Erie Railroad & Canal.

On Indian Borders

Closer to India was the possibility of Russo-Persian alliance with Indian kings, to take on the British. And the British decided to counter that. Peace in Crimea came about after Treaty of Paris on March 30, 1856, at the Congress of Paris.

After this, the British took on the Persians in the Anglo-Persian War (Nov 1, 1856-April 4, 1857). The origins of this war itself are mired in confusing reasons.

One was the Persian military conquest in 1852 of Herat, now in Afghanistan, but many a time ruled by Persia also. For four years after Persian conquest of Herat, Britain kept quiet. Busy with the Crimean War. After the Crimean war, Britain saw the Persian action, as an extension of the Russo-Persian influence to Indian borders.

The other was the dispute in Persia over Hashim Khan and his wife. Hashim Khan, a part of Shah’s personal bodyguard, was married to the sister to one of the Shah’s wives. Hashim Khan’s wife, married twice previously, became the grist of European gossip  mills. The Shah’s administration preferred charges of deserter against Hashim Khan. The British Embassy provided Hashim Khan with diplomatic cover. The frequent visits to the British Embassy, by Hashim Khan’s wife became a subject of speculation.

The British sent an expeditionary force from India – and the British ambassador, Charles Augustus Murray, presented a charter of demands to the Persian Government. The expeditionary force from India captured coastal towns of Bushehr and the Kharg Island. After a few months of petty fighting in adverse weather conditions, the Anglo-Persian War ended with a treaty. Persia withdrew from Herat. All other issues became irrelevant.

On the Persian campaign were General James Outram, Brigadier-General Henry Havelock. Along with Hugh Henry Rose of the Crimean War, these three people played an important part in the 1857 War in India.

Using unparalleled brutality, they retained the British Empire after two years of ferocious fighting.

But before that

The British in 1857 reinforced their treaty of perpetual friendship with Amir Dost Mohammed of Afghanistan, the Treaty of Peshawar (1855) by an addendum.

Further Britain, withdrew huge amounts of money that were invested in the American markets – precipitating a financial crisis in US (see cartoons linked in the post). Much analyzed and discussed (including Marx and Engels), the 1857 financial crisis severely disrupted US economy.

Britain further reversed it earlier policy of licensing pirates – and instead moved to ban piracy by all countries. This made international waters safe for British shipping and naval force. Piracy was outlawed by The Declaration of Paris, in 1856, ratified by various powers. Initially by Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia and Turkey – but not by Spain, Portugal and the USA.

So, when India exploded into war against the British, it was pretty much alone. International alliances, trade, supplies, treaties were all on the British side.

Fighting against such overwhelming odds, Indian armies fought for nearly two years. Lakhs of soldiers died. Millions of civilians were killed by the British to cut-off Indian armies from their support base – and to force Indians to cease fighting.

The Day After

Th British Raj got the message.

The East India Company was wound up. India became a crown colony.

Overt religious expansionism was jettisoned. Queen Victoria went to great length to convince Indians that the British did not have religious ambitions in India. Christian conversion went intellectually underground. Anti-Indian history and propaganda was encouraged with false theories like Aryan Invasion (Max Muller), Caste System (Herbert Hope Risley), Aryan Conquest of Dravidians (Mortimer Wheeler) being the most prominent.

Another Terrible Failure, from the (New York) Picayune, November 7, 1857.  |  Image & courtesy - superitch.com  |  Click for image.

Another Terrible Failure, from the (New York) Picayune, November 7, 1857. | Image & courtesy - superitch.com | Click for image.

On the Home Front

At the beginning of the year, the British ended the Anglo-Persian War (Nov 1, 1856-April 4, 1857) British concluded peace with the Persian kingdom at Paris on March 5, 1857.

On 31st March, the 19th Native Infantry was disbanded for an earlier action (on 26th February) of holding an armed and un-authorized military drill at Murshidabad – the earlier capital of the Nawab of Oudh, near modern Kolkatta. The disarming and disbanding was done by the Queen’s 84th infantry brought from Pegu, at Barrackpur. This regiment from Pegu (now Bago), Burma, came by an Oriental steamer (later to become P&O) – ‘who made their appearance as if from the skies’.

It was on 5th April, that Mangal Pandey, of the 34th Native Infantry was hung to death.  On 3rd May, the 7th Reserve Infantry (irregulars) threatened to shoot their European officers in Lucknow. On 6th May, 1857, the Governor General’s order to disband the 34th Native Infantry regiment at Barrackpore were carried out.

After Tatiya Tope’s diversionary attack on Rose, and escape of Rani of Jhansi, British forces captured Jhansi – and after the loot, set it to torch. A field surgeon, Dr.Thomas Lowe, attached to the Madras Sappers wrote in 1860, how

The British soldiers were thirsting for vengeance. No maudlin clemency was to mark the fall of the city. The Jezebel of India was there, the young, energetic, proud, unbending, uncompromising Rani

Vishnukant Godse, an Indian traveller, whose Marathi account of the War, narrates,

I offered my evening prayers, ate a meal and went upstairs to see the condition of the city. And what a sight I saw! it looked like a vast burning ground. Fires were blazing everywhere and although it was night I could see far enough. In the lanes and streets people were crying pitifully, hugging the corpses of their dear ones; others were wandering, searching for food while the cattle were running, mad with thirst. All the houses in Halwaipura were on fire, their flames reaching the skies, and as no one was attempting to put them out other houses were catching fire too. I became sick and my head began to go round and round.

Caught in an updraft of cash flow from piracy, slave-trade, sugar-plantations using slave labour, opium, gold finds in Australia, Canada, South Africa (after 1857) – and India’s historic gold reserves Britain was in a unique position of financial prowess.

India paid the price for being positioned badly.

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 …)

New Global Reserve Currency – Connecting the dots – Part 2

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Gold Reserves, History, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on October 23, 2008

ECB’s Nowotny Sees Global `Tri-Polar’ Currency System Evolving Bloomberg.com: Worldwide

European Central Bank council member Ewald Nowotny said a “tri-polar” global currency system is developing between Asia, Europe and the U.S … leaders of the U.S., France and the European Commission will ask other world leaders to join in a series of summits on the global financial crisis beginning in the U.S. soon after the Nov. 4 presidential election, President George W. Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Barroso said in a joint statement yesterday.

European leaders have pressed to convene an emergency meeting of the world’s richest nations, known as the Group of Eight, joined by others such as India and China, to overhaul the world’s financial regulatory systems. … Sarkozy wants the G8 to consider re-anchoring their currencies, the hallmark of the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement that also gave birth to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Europe’s Been Onto Something … While the US gently weeps

The EU region calling for a ‘G8 + India & China’ conference to thrash out this global monetary issue – and has been twisting the knife in the reluctant US side. The US has been dragging its feet. While the EU has been going gung-ho on this, the US has been floating many trial balloons. Warren Buffet, Paul Volcker and Lawrence Summers have been co-opted by the likely President of the US – Barack Obama. There has been talk of a manipulation in bullion prices – which may be required for re-anchoring currencies. Interesting deals – considered impossible till a few years, are being done in a tearing hurry.

Imagine! The EU in the middle of a global crisis goes out and restores diplomatic ties with Cuba.

The US Gameplan

US analysts, led by Paul Krugman, have been calling for Barack Obama (or maybe McCain) to emulate Roosevelt – who waded into WW2, with 25,000 tons of nationalized gold. If gold is nationalized, it may depress demand in the short term – giving rise to huge volatility in gold prices. But Warren Buffett has been on the silver bandwagon for a while – and that is making the gold-silver equation hazy. What if Warren Buffet becomes the new US Treasury Chief? There is the real risk of another fraud like the gold standard happening all over again.

The US has been making its moves – differently. Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize is an indication of this. Will the US use Paul Krugman as the Keynes of the Bretton Woods. The background of Bretton Woods itself, is of course something that the US and Europe do not want the world at large to know. The other ploy that is being bandied about is the re-launch of the fraud called the Gold Standard – now in a better packing.

The Oil-Dollar Tango

The Oil-Dollar Tango

What Has Been India Upto?

While the US has been resisting calls for action, busy doing post-mortem, Asia and Europe have been moving. Interestingly, Manmohan Singh has done some huge work in the last 60 days – the nuclear deal with the USA and NSG, the IBSA Summit, the ASEAN free trade agreement – and now his three Asian nation visits. India’s Trade and Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, has been talking about a multi-lateral set up. The UN was made to issue a statement on this. Am I reading too much into this? At times, India has seemed clueless.

After the ministerial meeting, both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister PC Chidambaram talked about how the ‘developed’ world’ was now ‘listening’ to the developing world – and was willing to ‘give more representation.’

This language itself indicates the distance that the Third World needs to travel.

China and Russia

The big issue is of course, China and Russia. China has 2 trillion of US dollars – and what does China do with this? Russia has come out from a default about a decade ago – with a nearly US$400 billion reserves – flexing its muscles in Georgia and dependent on a high oil prices. What happens to Russia if a new Pacific Republic (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies, etc) were to start drilling for oil? In 5 years, the world would be awash with oil – and Russia’s mineral earnings could evaporate. This crisis seems to have made the Chinese Premier shaky. So, the world may not trust China and Russia too much. Russia and China can be the party poopers – but they cannot be the life of the party.

For financial and military reasons, the inclusion of Russia and China is useful – though not essential to the emergence of a tri-polar currency system. The cost of Russian and Chinese inclusion is high degree of influence that these ‘super powers’ will want – which the developing world will not approve.

Why supplant one form of exploitation with another?

Contours Of The Deal

The EU-USA-Asia may agree on a broad a global regulatory and oversight body to monitor and maintain oversight over a multiple currency regime – an improved, better IMF.

The new 3rd currency may take some time to figure out. Not that it is difficult, expensive, or impossible. Some of Asia may want to cling to the dollar skirt. The new currency may be an Asian-Developing world currency. This may see the emergence of a tri-polar currency regime – which the US and Europe duopoly is desperate to avoid.

The 2ndlook proposal for the Third Global Reserve Currency has been in circulation for some time now.

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