Post colonial India, in the last 60 years has seen the shift of 30 crore (300 million) people from villages to cities – which is nearly the population of the entire USA. In 1947, India’s urban population was 6 crores (60 million) – and in 2008, it is estimated to have crossed 36 crores (360 million). Another 500 million are expected to move in the next 20 years.
It is the largest demographic shift in the history of mankind – without wars, revolts or persecution. Most revolts, wars and upheavals have been accompanied by urbanization. Urbanization as the cause or an enabler of the revolutions is a matter of debate, research and conjecture.
India is different.
Indian culture started with urban centres like Harrapa and Mohenjodaro (dated between 2000-4000 BC). India has gone through many cycles of urbanization and rural migration. Ashoka the Great resolved to build monasteries “in 84,000 of the cities of Jambudwipa”
The last de-urbanization happened at the the start of British Colonialism during the 1800-1850 period. Cities like Dhaka lost between 50% to80% of its population. British Colonialism immediately started flooding India with its Manchester & Lancaster wares – and restricted Indian handloom weavers from competing with Manchester & Lancaster.
The Renewal Of Mumbai
Half of Mumbai’s population (my estimate) was, directly or indirectly, dependent on these mills. In one of the most heroic renewals in modern urban history, Mumbai re-invented itself. From the manufacturing capital of the country, Mumbai has become the services capital of the country. It is this spirit which has made the Indian urban growth a remarkable story in the urbanization of the world’s population.
The largest Islamic population to co-exist peacefully with another religion, in the world, now lives in India. While the West has been demonizing Islam, Indians Muslims have been getting ahead. In the last 10 years, Indian Muslims have become the richest (Azim Premji), occupied the highest office in the land (APJ Kalam) in this country.
Europe – Revolution & Civil War
In 1800, 23 European cities boasted of a 100,000 population. By 1900, there were 135 cities with over 100,000 citizens. Amongst other causes, increased urbanization was a feature of the French Revolution – which started a chain of revolutions for the next 125 years.
The Russian Revolution by the Communists succeeded due to the rapid urbanization of Russia. Urban Russian population doubled from 7.3 to 14.6 million between 1867 and 1897. Expansion of railways between 1892-1903 made migration and travel to cities easier. Tsarist Russia, built on the support an land owning nobility, with serfs used for production, found that the urbanized industrial workers supported the Communists.
With increasing urbanization and the decline of colonies, Spain slipped into a civil war.
The Balkans Civil War, now running in its 100th year, with intermittent breaks and under different names, started with the urbanization.
Among other things, urbanization played a major feature in South American 150 years after de-colonization. From 1820 – 1970, South America went through de-colonization, urbanization, revolts, revolutions – and crime.
The tipping point in South America was initially de-colonization, peasant and slave revolts and thereafter urbanization.
Why Are Cities The Focal Point
Cities provided spaces where large numbers of people could gather – and a ‘change process’ can start. Red Square in Moscow, Champs de Mars (where the first public meeting after the French Revolution) took place, the Tian An Men in Beijing, or the Shivaji Park in Mumbai are places where such meetings can happen.
Marx famously dismissed peasants as “a sack of potatoes” – and saw the urban worker as the base for the workers’ revolution. Peasant revolts are more difficult to organize as the population is spread over vast areas.
Where Do We Go From Here
This urban growth in unprecedented – and unparalleled. It shows the tremendous adaptability and resilience of the Indian. The Indian urban concept aspires towards foreign idiom – and that is the problem.
Mumbai wants to become another Shanghai, says Chief Minister, Vilas Rao Deshmukh. This aspiration is something that is mostly referred in a derisive manner by others – thankfully.
What Indian cities need instead, is to learn from the home grown examples. For instance, the Mumbai urban train transport system. For a monthly cost of Rs.70-200 (US$2-US$5), people in Mumbai can travel any number of times, in relative discomfort. It is a safe mode of transport – unlike the legacy rail system of the Colonial Britain, which India modernised over 35 years. Accidents on this system happen due to its popularity – overcrowded trains. It is also profitable – and devoid of subsidies. Similar metros (not in scale or traffic though) have come up in Kolkatta and New Delhi.
What Indian cities needs are an Indian idiom – to solve the problems of these Indian cities. Will Indian planners deliver!
How safe are the world’s largest reserves of gold?
India, with the largest (private and government) reserves of gold in world, needs to examine the safety question. While, there have been many advocates and supporters for many European claims, I am yet to see any support for reclaim of any of loot from weaker nations by some of the temporarily dominant powers.
In spite of close cultural and economic relations, WW2 was started by countries of Western world for gold, oil and access to markets. With excess of printing capacity, any country in world can print notes. During any period of turmoil, what matters is gold. After all, even India with the largest gold reserves in the world, needed to pledge gold in 1991 for small loan from IMF and World Bank.
Is our gold safe? Look at the experience of some of these countries.
Anticipating German invasion of the Netherlands, the National Bank of Belgium moved some part of its gold reserves to Bank of France, for safe keeping. However, after France itself came under attack, Belgium instructed the French to transfer Belgian gold to London.
The French instead, moved that gold to Dakar, Africa, to a French bank. After the fall of France, Pierre Laval, Foreign Minister in the French Vichy government of Marshal Petain, handed over the gold to Hitler’s Germany – which reportedly, recast this gold, put pre-war stampings and sold it to the Swiss. What happened after that. Well, the Belgians lost it all, I presume.
Britain itself found that the they could buy anything only with gold. A staunch ally like the USA, demanded payments in gold. Britain sold the Viscose Company, receiving a paltry amount. British investments in Canada were disposed to pay US for for raw materials.
A significant part of British gold reserves, were safely moved to Canada on board the battleship Revenge and HMS Emerald to the vaults of Bank Of Canada (which still acknowledges the British crown) banks. American warship, Louisville was sent to Simonstown South Africa to take delivery of British gold.
Czech Gold Diversion
After Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, under the British-Czech treaty, Britain was enjoined to join the war on the Czech side. Instead, Montagu Norman, the head of Bank Of England, under a technicality, handed over Czech Gold to the Germans – in spite of the British Parliamentary restrictions; a supposedly secret transaction, blown open by a connected reporter.
After many enquiries, investigations, Montagu Norman, (yes, the same racist who collaborated with Churchill to loot the Indian peasantry) was let off without even a rap on his knuckles. After the war, Montagu Norman set up an institute to do research (like Joseph Mengele) in eugenics. His former boss, another racist, Churchill, set his armies on the Mau Mau, fighting for Kenya’s independence, and hundreds of thousands black Kenyans disappeared. Did the Czechs get their gold back? I doubt!
Central Banks – Portugal, Spain
From the 1980s, it became fashionable to hedge, trade, create derivatives, get into junk bonds. And the King Of Junk was Michael Milliken. His company Drexel, Burnham and Lambert.
A subsidiary of Drexel, Burnham and Lambert, used borrowed gold from Central Bank of Philippines, Pitcairn Island, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico – all lost money. Further investigations show that more central banks lost more money – which were finally shown as “gold sales” by many European banks – and there this where things get murky.
Friday. December 3rd, 1999. TV channels (in India too) announced that Edmond Safra died in mysterious circumstances. Based out of Monaco, a known off shore finance centre, he is believed to have been in the know and arranged numerous gold dealings. He was supposed to be behind the George Soros run-in with the Bank Of England gold sale and physical delivery.
At the time of his death, he was negotiating the sale of his bank to The Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation – set up with opium earnings by Jardine Matheson and David Sassoon and sundry others.
Secret of Japan‘s rise
Year 1542. The Sado gold mines were discovered. In 16th-17th century, Japan became the second largest producer of gold in the world. Rapid rise of Japan after that and the rest of story is known to the world.
Korea claims that Japan plundered Korea of hundreds of tons of gold from 1937-1944. Philipines, Indonesia have all raised claims against Japan for war time gold loot.
Regardless, one American writer had definitely hit a jackpot – Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold (By Sterling Seagrave, Peggy Seagrave). Ian Fleming is supposed to have based his story on the Yamashita chapter of WW2.
Japan’s top underworld crime boss, Taisho (Admiral) Yoshio Kodama, (ranked as an admiral at 34 years) a major figure in the Japanese underworld was in charge of Project “Golden Lilly” – after one of Hirohito’s poems! Objective – looting gangsters in Japanese occupied territories. Supervising the operations was Emperor’s Hirohito’s brother, Prince Chicubi. Management – Japan’s top financial figures.
Subsequently, allegedly, a lot of this gold landed with Ferdinand Marcos; the Filipino dictator. Swiss banks, Macao criminals, American generals and politicians – all involved.
Glen Yeadon, writer of “The Nazi Hydra in America: Suppressed History of a Century” writes how Presscott Bush (grand-father of George Bush), Douglas MacArthur were involved in various launderings, diversions and subterfuge involving Nazi gold and Japanese gold after WW2.
After WW2, and fall of Germany, at the Mercker mines, occupying armies found Nazi treasures.
And details of a bank account.
The bank account held in the name of Bruno Melmer, a SS captain. Further investigations revealed that this account received various looted material of the German Army – and gold recovered from Jews killed in concentration camps. After due investigations these files were returned to the the concerned German bank. In 1975, a journalist Peter Bild discovered that all these files had disappeared.
So had the gold.
Spain and Gold
For nearly 10 years, the Spanish Civil War raged – a proxy war between the Germans and Russians. The target, Spanish gold. In the see-saw of the civil war, entire Spanish gold disappeared – between the maws of the French and the Russians. Reputedly, Stalin boasted that Spain will never see their gold again.
I am sure the ghost of Incas were at peace after 400 years.
During WW2, after Hitler’s sweep across the Balkans, a Nazi puppet government of Ante (Anton) Pavelic, headed the “Catholic State of Croatia.” Archbishop A. Stepanic established a Croat Separatist Movement and seized power with Ante Pavelic. The Pavelic regime supported “Clerical Fascism” – a mix of Catholic religion, Anti-Semitism and authoritarian politics. Mussolini’s Italy and Nazi Germany’s “Ausland” department assisted Ante Pavelic and his Catholic terrorists to set up a dictatorship. Ante Pavelic was declared Poglavnik – or what we better know as Fuhrer.
Under the Ustashi, a reign of terror descended upon Jews, Gypsies and political dissidents. The Ustashi extorted a fortune in gold and other valuables from Jews and Gypsies and thereafter shipped them to work in concentration camps. The Jews have a well-organised lobby, an organisation and a nation which has pursued banks, criminals, countries for recovery of their property.
What happened to the Roma Gypsies (claim they are of Indian descent). Nothing. Sweet nothing at all.
Quantity Of Gold – 2400 kgs atleast.
Nazi gold was found by various armies and individuals all over Europe. In Lake Toplitz and in the Thuringien salt mines. Finally,a coordinating agency was set up by Americans for gold recovered by American Armies to account, re-distribute and reconcile claims. The European banking system, especially the Swiss and the Vatican have been subject to various claims, allegations and conspiracy theories.