2ndlook

People for Profit – The NGO story

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Environment, European History, Feminist Issues, History, India, Media, politics, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on November 22, 2010
(Cartoon courtesy - http://www.bihartimes.in). Click for larger image.

(Cartoon courtesy - http://www.bihartimes.in). Click for larger image.

Funding India NGOs

Something very strange is happening. There are some 33 lakh (3.3 million) NGOs, operating in India – for the 20 crore (200 million) odd families in India. That would be one NGO for every 70 families.

These mushrooming NGOs are getting billions of US$ in funding. Recently,

Statistics released by the home ministry regarding ‘foreign funds to NGOs’ show that India, which has a total of 33,937 registered associations, received Rs 12,289.63 crore in foreign contributions during 2006-07 as against Rs 7,877.57 crore in 2005-06, a substantial increase of nearly Rs 4,400 crore (56%) in just one year.

The US, Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Italy were the top five foreign contributors during 2006-07. These five countries have consistently been the big donors since 2004-05. Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and France are the other countries which figure prominently in the list of foreign donors. (read more via Foreign funds to Indian NGOs soar, Pak among donors-India-The Times of India).

Foreign aid kitty - Table courtesy - Times of India

Foreign aid kitty - Table courtesy - Times of India.

What does this mean …

Rs 12,289.63 crore is roughly US$3 billion – based on average dollar value for 2008.

And that, is a lot of money.

That is more money than what the US Govt. gave as aid to more than the 100 poorest countries. Till a few years ago, India annual FDI was US$ 4 billion. Just a little more than the US$3 billion that India received as charity through various NGOs in 2008.

The total US Official Development Assistance to the whole of sub-Saharan Africa (more than 40 countries), in 2007, was “US$4.5 billion contributed bilaterally and an estimated $1.2 billion was contributed through multilateral organizations”.

What is the source of these funds …

The rich, the poor and the middle class in these ‘charitable countries’ are themselves deep in debt. Where are they getting the money from? Why are they being so liberal towards India? What is the source of these funds?

Where this money going …

Is it going as thinly disguised aid to Naxal affected areas – where some ‘Christian’ missionaries are working tosave’ the tribals? Is it going towards publicity for causes which are thinly disguised trade issues. For instance, child labour – which is, in many cases, a system of apprenticeship for traditional skills.

Or are these NGOs promoting policy frameworks which are distorting India’s social systems? The Population Myth /Problem /Explosion for instance was promoted for the first decade by Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation and USAID. Are they behind the NGOs which are promoting Section 498 laws as a legal solution – a solution that ‘benefits’ about 5000 women and creates about 150,000 women as victims.

AIDS was the excuse to open doors. (Cartoonist - Godfrey Mwampembwa “Gado”; from Nairobi, Kenya; courtesy - http://www.pambazuka.org). Click for larger image.

AIDS was the excuse to open doors. (Cartoonist - Godfrey Mwampembwa “Gado”; from Nairobi, Kenya; courtesy - http://www.pambazuka.org). Click for larger image.

These are laws and policies which are undermining the Indian family system. Which country in the world has a stable family structure with such low divorce rates as India?

The Clintons, The Gates, The Turners, et al

The ‘progressive-liberal’ establishment of the West is viewed rather benignly in India – and seen as ‘well-wishers’ of India. Many such ideas are welcomed in India without analysis. These ideas are viewed positively, as the source of such initiatives is seen as well-intentioned. These rich money-bags in cahoots with the State’s propaganda machinery, the media and academia are creating false messiahs, hollow idols and instant saints.

St.Tony Judt - The media and academia in cahoots with the State (Cartoon by Pavel Constantin, Romania; Cartoon Courtesy - caglecartoons.com).

St.Tony Judt - The media and academia in cahoots with the State (Cartoon by Pavel Constantin, Romania; Cartoon Courtesy - caglecartoons.com).

The beatification of Saint Judt

The last 90 days saw a surge on obits, reviews and tributes to Tony Judt.

Tony who? Exactly.

An unknown writer till a few months ago, has suddenly become famous in his death. Media (at least in India) has gone overboard. But when Marathi media started on Tony Judt, it was high noon. The straw on the camel’s back.

OK, guilty of misrepresentation. Not the camel’ back! It was my back.

There seems an effort at beatification of Tony Judt. In the modern era, temporal authorities, award a quick Nobel Prize, pin a Congressional Medal of Honor – and the process of ‘secular’ sainthood is completed. Media aids by marching to the drumbeat of the State. These ‘secular’ sainthoods by the ‘modern-secular-liberal-progressive-democratic’ establishment are not meant to be enduring or important. They , the latter-day, disposable, ‘secular’ saints, serve a utilitarian purpose to their masters – the State.

Tony Judt is no exception.

How come 'modern' Western identities are not included by Tony Judt in his 'problem' list? (Cartoon By - Angel Boligan, Courtesy - Cagle Cartoons)

How come 'modern' Western identities are not included by Tony Judt in his 'problem' list? (Cartoon By - Angel Boligan, Courtesy - Cagle Cartoons)

From the safety of a university cloister

By being overtly anti-Israel, Tony Judt, gets an inside track into the Islāmic mind – to start his ideas of ‘identity’.

A self-confessed, Social Democrat (but that is not ‘identity’) Tony Judt is the type who speaks from the comfort of a winning side.

We know enough of ideological and political movements to be wary of exclusive solidarity in all its forms. One should keep one’s distance not only from the obviously unappealing “-isms”—fascism, jingoism, chauvinism—but also from the more seductive variety: communism, to be sure, but nationalism and Zionism too. And then there is national pride: more than two centuries after Samuel Johnson first made the point, patriotism—as anyone who passed the last decade in America can testify—is still the last refuge of the scoundrel. (read more via Edge People | The New York Review of Books).

As fortunes shifted and wavered, Tony Judt’s recounts how his family moved from one declining economy to another growing economy. From Eastern Europe, vaguely in a region near Russia, to Antwerp in Belgium, thereon to Britain, and finally to the USA. He finds

over the years these fierce unconditional loyalties—to a country, a God, an idea, or a man—have come to terrify me. The thin veneer of civilization rests upon what may well be an illusory faith in our common humanity.

The West has systematically deformed Islamic identity - after dismantling the Ottoman Empire. (Cartoonist - Paresh Nath, Published by - The National Herald, India)

The West has systematically deformed Islamic identity - after dismantling the Ottoman Empire. (Cartoonist - Paresh Nath, Published by - The National Herald, India)

To people like Tony Judt, identity is a matter of convenience. And they rightly, recommend that people must have no identity – and by extension, no loyalty. Fly flags of convenience. May the highest bidder win.

I wonder where Judt’s family was, when the Belgians were flogging the Congolese.

Sainthood by the Vatican

The ‘modern’ State and the media of the Free World have it easy when it comes to cannonising people like Tony Judt!

The Catholic Church has a rather exacting process, stretching over a few years, at the very least. The Catholic Church even appoints a Devil’s Advocate – someone who tries to find reasons why the candidate should NOT be declared a saint.

This process has sometimes taken decades too. After multiple processes and steps, a committee. the Congregation for the Causes of Saints decides on these issues. With the kind of rigour that the Vatican process follows, Saints have ‘public memory’ life span extending to centuries.

The perversion of the Islamic world started with the break up of the Ottoman Empire (Cartoon By - Emad Hajjaj, Jordan; Cartoon Courtesy - caglecartoons.com)

The perversion of the Islamic world started with the break up of the Ottoman Empire (Cartoon By - Emad Hajjaj, Jordan; Cartoon Courtesy - caglecartoons.com)

Coming to Saint Judt

Today when the West is paying the price for creating a misshapen Islāmic identity, people like Judt thinly speak out against identity – an Islāmic identity. Or when the West faces a challenge from Asia, China and India, it pays to talk of less identity.

This idea of less identity would not be such a bad idea – if you have so little of identity, to start with!

Remember trojan horses

A ‘tolerant’ and ‘open’ society like India can be a complacent victim to trojan horses – and ‘secular’ saints like Tony Judt. Another article a few weeks ago gave an overview of the NGO ‘economy’.

In many ways, (the) metamorphosis from a modest, village-level, kurta-pyjama clad activist into a well-heeled, suited-booted, city slicker whose voice is heard in high places, mirrors the changing face of India’s burgeoning voluntary sector. Once the preserve of the humble jholawallah, the ‘third sector’ of the Indian economy is now teeming with smart men and women, armed with management degrees, laptops and huge funds generated by a liberalised and booming economy. As the state retreats in an era of privatisation, new-generation NGOs have moved in to fill the vacuum, often doing what the government used to do in rural areas and urban slums or conducting advocacy programmes for policy interventions, even holding skill-building workshops to update small voluntary groups. Their activities are vast and varied and bear little resemblance to the sweetly charitable work of the silent, selfless grassroots workers of the ’70s and the ’80s.

The growth of the sector has been explosive in the past two decades, both in numbers and financial resources. First, the numbers. If the findings of a survey conducted by the Central Statistical Organisation of the ministry of statistics in 2008 are to be believed, there are as many as 3. 3 million NGOs registered in India. In other words, there is one NGO for every 400 Indians. No other country in the world boasts of such huge numbers in the third sector. However, this mind-boggling figure should be taken with a pinch of salt, as even the CSO report has acknowledged that many are probably defunct. But, as Sanjay Agarwal, a chartered accountant who works with several NGOs, said, “At least the CSO has tried to shine a light where there was darkness all these years. No one has ever tried to collate any kind of data on the voluntary sector. “

The CSO report then is a starting point and its data is revealing. It found that the big growth spurt has happened since 1991. As many as 30 per cent of the 3. 3 million NGOs were registered in the decade of the ’90s and 45 per cent more came up after the year 2000. While religious organisations and charities were the most commonly registered societies in the period before 1970, there was a phenomenal expansion in social service organisations after 1991 – as much as a 40 per cent increase, according to the CSO report.

It is significant that the phenomenal expansion of the voluntary sector coincides with the opening up of the economy and its rapid growth. India was changing as it privatised and globalised, and the changes saw NGOs blooming in thousands as civil society matured and began asserting itself. Nothing underscores their growing influence more than enforcement of the Right to Information Act and the National Rural Employment Generation Act, both of which were products of pressure from civil society organisations.

Yet, despite such unprecedented growth, there has been little or no effort to map the voluntary sector or streamline it for transparency. It remains opaque, with questionable accountability levels, leaving it vulnerable to scams and scandals and the inevitable public suspicion about sources and utilisation of funds. Because of the lack of comprehensive data, even estimates about the financial size of the sector vary. One figure is as high as Rs 75, 000 crore annually, but Rajesh Tandon, president of PRIA (Society for Participatory Research in Asia), a leading mega NGO that works with a host of smaller ones, puts the amount of money available to this sector at around Rs 40, 000 crore per year.

Most of the funding comes from domestic sources, of which the government is the largest donor. However, foreign donations make up a significant portion of the financial resources available to NGOs. Unfortunately, here too, despite a Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, no authentic figures are available, underlining the laxity that prevails in this sector. Home minister P Chidambaram told Parliament recently that the government recorded a figure of around Rs 10, 000 crore from foreign donations last year. He went on to add that this figure was grossly undervalued because nearly half the NGOs registered to receive foreign aid had not reported contributions they have received over the years. In other words, he said, foreign funding of the NGO sector could be as high as Rs 20, 000 crores.

The prevailing confusion and the lack of systems to track movement of funds have only served to tarnish the image of the voluntary sector, despite the good work that many of them do. As with every sector, there are good NGOs and bad NGOs. Unfortunately, the latter hog the headlines. Scams are aplenty, particularly when it comes to the disbursement of government money. The rural development ministry’s main funding agency, which also happens to be the biggest government donor, CAPART (Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology ), fell into disrepute because of the high level of corruption in the department. (read more via People for Profit | Cover Story | Times Crest).

Vatican opposes abortion for a steady supply of targets? (cartoonist - Adam Zyglis; cartoon courtesy - www.adamzyglis.com.). Click for larger and original image.

Vatican opposes abortion for a steady supply of targets? (cartoonist - Adam Zyglis; cartoon courtesy - http://www.adamzyglis.com.). Click for larger and original image.

The hoax of this century

2ndlook tracked and collated the entire Climate change campaign, where

  1. Multiple PR agencies, NGOs were used and funded by the British, Norwegian and Australian Governments
  2. To mount a global campaign of ‘epic’ proportions
  3. To stampede the world into a regime of faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats –
  4. That would monitor nations, industry and economies of the world.

The campaign possibly even subverted the Maldives election campaign to propel a Trojan horse into the developing world camp. Nobel prizes were dangled in front of the Trinidad’s PM. A group of ‘Vulnerable 14′ was promoted to make proxy noises on behalf of the organizers of his climate change hoax.

The do-gooder industry

These NGOs under the garb of being do-gooders, soon end up showing their true colours. Whether its was the Climate change campaign, or the social-service sector, the do-gooder industry is dangerous idea.

A 62-year-old British national, who was arrested by the UK police on charges of sexually abusing several boys of a boarding school in Chennai over three years from September 2003, is likely to walk free in a fortnight because of a year-long delay on the part of Indian authorities in assisting the probe. (read more via UK paedophile may walk free-Chennai-Cities-The Times of India).

The do-good industry

An Australian do-gooder was arrested for sexually assaulting children of an orphanage in Puri. Powel Allen, an eye surgeon employed with the orphanage for the past four years, was arrested in Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh). Sometime back, two other orphanage administrators, and alleged pedophiles, Duncan Grant and Allan John Waters were convicted (their conviction is now under appeal-review).

What do the supposed beneficiaries get? A lot of 'wind' ...(Cartoonist - Godfrey Mwampembwa “Gado”; from Nairobi, Kenya; courtesy - http://www.pambazuka.org). Click for larger image.

What do the supposed beneficiaries get? A lot of 'wind' ...(Cartoonist - Godfrey Mwampembwa “Gado”; from Nairobi, Kenya; courtesy - http://www.pambazuka.org). Click for larger image.

Further back, Wilhelm and Lile Marti, a Swiss couple, again in the do-good industry, were granted bail in a pedophilia case. After bail, they promptly fled India.

Do we really need these do-gooders?

Mother Teresa, another do-gooder raised hundreds of crores in the name of Kolkatta’s poor, A few hundreds of the Kolkatta’s poor benefited from that money. But many missionaries rode on the backs of these poor Kolkattans, raising even more money. The PR machine of the Vatican has done a great job on this scam.

Create false alarums! (cartoon date - 2009/12/22; SeattlePI - (cartoon - Horsey) What's the take-away message?). Click for larger image.

Create false alarums! (cartoon date - 2009/12/22; SeattlePI - (cartoon - Horsey) What's the take-away message?). Click for larger image.

Even if India can’t take care of its poor, we don’t need these do-gooders!

Away!! Begone!

Should we say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!!’

They have problems at home

Spain has 400,000 prostitutes (for a population of 40 million) who ‘attract’ 15,00,000 clients every day. Some state the Spanish social system is in! Britain has 10,000 Muslim prisoners out 16,00,000 British Muslims . Quite a number of prisoners to have!

And these very countries had the temerity to ‘donate’ Indian NGOs a humungous US$3 billion (nearly) last year. May I suggest? Keep your money and keep your do-gooders at home.

Your need is greater than ours.

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The Great Unease

Posted in Current Affairs, European History, Feminist Issues, History, India, language, Media, politics, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on February 26, 2008
From the 1954 - 2010 - Indians are the most optimistic

From the 1954 - 2010 - Indians are the most optimistic. Cartoon by RK Laxman, Times of India.

The Great Unease

Global consumer optimism surveys routinely show anxiety, unease, dread in Europe and USA. This sense of unease should be absent considering the prosperity levels, the best health-care systems, a welfare state, guaranteed unemployment benefits, their technology, their currency and their democracy.

The Indians and Chinese routinely are more optimistic – which should not happen considering the low income levels. Fancy theory apart, to my mind, it is the ‘sword fatigue’ in response to constant exposure by Western Governments (to which they are exposed) which causes this low optimism.

Medieval – Renaissance Europe

16th century Europe – specifically, Spain and Portugal. The last of the Moors had been driven out of Spain. The Christian standard was flying high. The Papal Bull divided the Earth (for the Europeans) between Spain and Portugal. White Christian rulers of Spain, Isabella and Ferdinand, set historic standards in persecution and extortion. More than a million Jews were killed, crucified, burnt alive; their properties confiscated and distributed. Columbus returned to enslave the American Natives – and subsequently, work them to death.

New chapters in bloodshed were being written by conquistadors like Vasco Nunez De Balboa, Francisco Pizarro, Juan Ponce de Leon, Hernando de Soto, Hernando Cortez, et al. Not to forget the search for El Dorado led by, “above all, that prince of monsters Lope de Aquirre, colour the pages with the darkest hues of bloody emprise.” In South American memory, Francisco de Carvajal, the “demon of the Andes” remains alive. These real-life monsters set new standards in brutality, slavery and genocide.

Europe in the sixteenth century was “obsessed with questions of language, and especially so in Spain and its recently conquered American Empire“ (emphasis mine). This was driven by

what Marshal McLuhan called “the hypertrophy of the unconscious,” a phenomenon he associated with periods of revolution in media technology: the advent of print in the 16th century created a great need for sensational materials to be broadcast, and this need caused ideas that formerly had been only lurking in the dark recesses of men’s minds to come floating to the surface.

One of the great bestsellers of the 16th century was the Histoires prodigieuses of Pierre Boaistuau (Paris, 1560), a sort of Renaissance Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not containing marvelous tales on everything … Seventeen of the Histoires forty tales are about monsters, a fact that may explain why the book was republished anywhere from ten to twenty two times and translated into Dutch, Spanish and English. (from Popular culture in the Middle Ages By Josie P. Campbell).

Spanish literature of the Renaissance

From this hotbed of ferment, a representative of this period was Calderon de la Barca (1600-1681), the Spanish writer. Growing up in a Spain, a 100 years after the Conquistadors, benefiting from the twin advantages of fresh memory and hindsight “a century of Janus, facing backward, towards the rise of the Spanish Empire … and forward, toward its decline.” His more than a 100 plays and writings represent significantly, 17th century Spain – and even Europe.

There is probably no word that is more characteristic of Calderon de la Barca’s art than monstruo, “monster.” Rare is the play in which the word does not appear several times … (from Celestina’s brood By Roberto González Echevarría).

Calderon’s play about Semiramis, the Assyrian Empire builder, showed her in a monster mode – her hybrid character the most masculine modes and the most feminine, a monster of destruction and creation”. And Calderon was not alone. The fertile growth of monsters gave birth to a new study – teratology, the study of monsters.

“Monster lore truly becomes “popular culture” only with the Renaissance … Fresh works on the subject of teratology are written by Italians, Germans, and Frenchmen. The foreruuner of the modern newspaper, the broadside were bought at street corners and at fairs by the barely literate masses. The great reformers Luther and Melanchthon used the broadside medium to popularize their propagandistic and anti-Catholic versions of two of the most famous monsters of the Renaissance, the Monk-calf of Freiburg and the Pope-ass of Rome. (from Popular culture in the Middle Ages By Josie P. Campbell).

Some of Calderon’s plays dealt with the proselytization of the Native Americans – like his play, La Aurora En Copacabana (Dawn in the Copacabana), described as a play about “the conquest and conversion of the Indians in Peru”

The success of the conquest, therefore, is attributed to (Christian) faith which is valued as mans greatest gift to the world … Thus (Christian) conquest becomes a form of colonisation with the purpose of imposing religion and culture on a land “que habitan inhumanos” (512) and is in need of redemption and education. Finally, the play tries to harmonise irreconcilable contradictions which lie at the bottom of colonial discourse. (texts in parentheses mine).

With this idea, must be seen something important. That is the important element of “the escape of the monster.” In the … Monster Theory, Joel Cohen has remarked that the monster always escapes. Now combine the three elements – the newly acquired colonies of America, the proselytization (or otheriwse, the genocide) and the escape of the monster. These were the ‘monsters’ of colonialism.

A very interesting play by Calderon was La vida es sueño (Life is a dream). It tells the story of Segismundo, the Prince Of Poland, who was destined to be a monster. To forestall the prophecy, Segismundo was imprisoned by his father from the time of his birth. In adulthood, released from prison to test the prediction, Segismundo fulfills the prophecy. As a analyst of Calderon’s work summarizes,

Affirming a “better reality,” Segismundo’s message speaks as well to all of Europe: the “new European man” is the real monster. (from The subject in question By C. Christopher Soufas).

200 years after Calderon, HG Wells, in the The Island of Doctor Moreau, foretold Joseph Menegle’s experiments rather well.

Onshore genocide – The Roma Gypsies

Apart from the Jewish persecution, less known is the the persecution of the Roma Gypsy, which continues till date. In Europe, kidnapping children was considered legal for most of 1500AD-1750AD. On one condition – you had to kidnap Roma Gypsy children! More than 25,000 children kidnapped. No problem. Everybody sleeps peacefully at night. Switzerland was doing this till 1973!

Roughly, between 1500 to 1750, it was legal in Europe to hunt human beings. Yes! Just like hunting for deer in India, or hunting buffalo in Africa or fox-hunting in Britain. Yes! You could hunt human beings. As long as the humans you hunted were Roma Gypsies. In Europe you could be hung to death if you committed the crime of being born – between 1500AD-1750AD! Born as a Roma Gypsy!

Europeans, in the their age of Enlightenment and Renaissance, (1500-1750) could just pick up human slaves – yes, own them like cattle and furniture, if you found one! As long as they were Roma Gypsies. Later you could also sell them for profit!

Ship owners and captains in Europe’s Golden age, (1500-1750) could arrange galley slaves for free. No wages, no salary. You just had to feed them. Use them, abuse them, flog them, kill them, drown them. You could do anything – as long as they were Roma Gypsies.

What set off the Roma Gypsy Genocide

In 1420, a 60 year old man, blind in one eye took charge – and took on the might of the Roman Church and Roman Emperors.

Jan Zizka.

Over the next 12 months, he became completely blind. In the next 15 years, Zizka (and other Czech generals) defeated, many times, the combined armies of Germany, The Roman Church and others. His military strategy was studied for the next 500 years. Thereafter, the myth of military might of the Church was broken forever.

Jan Zizka allied himself with the Taborites (the radical Hussite wing). Zizka made Tábor in Bohemia into an armored and mobile fortress – the Wagenburgs.

Interestingly, a 100 years after the Hussite Wars, the European persecution of the Roma Gypsies began in full earnest. And during WW2, the Vatican joined with the Nazi collaborators, the Ustashe,  to extort gold and the genocide against the Roma Gyspises.

Military success

Zizka ranks with the great military innovators of all time. Zizka’s army was made up of untrained peasants and burghers (townspeople). He did not have the time or resources to train these fighters in armament and tactics of the time. Instead they used weapons like iron-tipped pikes and flails, armored farm wagons, mounted with small, howitzer type cannons.

Roma Gypsy Wagon Caravan
Roma Gypsy Wagon Caravan

His armored wagons, led by the Taborites, in offensive movements, broke through the enemy lines, firing as they rolled, cutting superior forces into pieces. For defense, the wagons were arranged into a tight, impregnable barrier surrounding the foot soldiers – the Wagenburg (the wagon fort), as they came to be known. The wagons also served to transport his men. Zizka thus fully initiated modern tank warfare. Zizka’s experience under various commanders was useful. At the Battle of Tannenberg (1410), Zizka fought on the Polish side , in which the famed German Teutonic Knights were defeated.

Coming back …

Who were the major users of the wagons in Europe then (and now?) Answer – The Roma Gypsies.

Who were the people who could pose spiritual and ecclesiastical questions to the Vatican? Answer – The Gypsies, with their Indian heritage, were not not new to spiritual dialectics (contests, discourse and debates). For instance, Mani, and his adherents, an Indic teacher of Buddhist thought, known to Christians as Manichean thought, were the nightmare for Christianity till the 15th century. When Mani called for overthrow of slavery, the Vatican at the Council of Gangra, re-affirmed its faith in slavery. European minds were occupied with the questions raised by the Hussite reformers.

Some think they (the Waldensians) had held them for centuries; some think they had learned them recently from the Taborites. If scholars insist on this latter view, we are forced back on the further question: Where did the Taborites get their advanced opinions? If the Taborites taught the Waldenses, who taught the Taborites?

Who were the people who could help the persecuted Waldensians, the Bogomils, the Cathars to escape persecution and spread out across the Europe? Answer – The Roma Gypsies – in their wagons. The same Gypsies, had earlier pioneered the Troubadour culture in the Provence Region, which provoked the Albigensian Crusade by the Vatican.

Prokop Coat Of Arms
Prokop Coat Of Arms

And who was the King of the Taborites? Answer – An entire clan of leaders who called themselves as Prokop (The Shaven /Bald; The Little and The Great) were the military leaders of the Taborites.

The word and name Prokop have no meaning in any European language – except in Sanskrit, where it means vengeance, retribution, violent justice.

Mythology as History

Jan Hus initiated the Reformation in the Vatican Church. It was Jan Zizka who broke the back of Papal authority. On the back of these Czech successes, was laid the foundation of 95 Theses by Martin Luther in 1517. The British break (1533-34) with the Holy Roman Church happened due to favors by the Papal office to the Iberian Empires – in matters of trade and colonial expansion, and the impediments to divorce of Henry-VIII at the behest of the Spanish rulers.

Today, the Germans and the British are loath to be reminded about the Czech Church Reform initiatives and the defeats at the hands of the Poles and Czechs. Western historiography about the Enlightenment and Renaissance, in Britain, France and Germany, leading to the reformation is ‘mythology as history’.

Of course, the role of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Byzantine Empire in the entire Czech saga is also worth re-examining. Were the Hussite Wars, a proxy war waged by the Eastern Church against the Vatican?

Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr.Hyde

In the 19th century came the monster story was dubbed as Gothic – and this form of story-telling matured as a craft.

A significant array of Gothic writers emerged from Ireland (from Charles Maturin, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde to the contemporary writer Patrick McGrath), in a colonial situation where a Protestant minority was the colonial occupier. (from Late Victorian Gothic tales By Roger Luckhurst)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797–1851), wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley started writing Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, at the age of 18, and completed it one year later. First published in London, anonymously, in 1818 by small London publishing house of Harding, Mavor & Jones – after previous rejections by bigger publishers like Charles Ollier (Percy Bysshe Shelley’s publisher), and John Murray (by Byron’s publisher). The writer’s name started appearing from the second edition of 1823 onwards. The interesting aspect, lost in popular usge, is that the monster is not named – and Frankenstein was the scientist, who brought the monster to life.

In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde was first published. This explored how ‘normal’ (Dr.Jekyll) human beings could become ‘evil’ (Mr.Hyde).

And in 1887, Bram Stoker, an Irish writer published his Dracula. The character of Dracula is based on Emperor Sigismund and his Order of the Dragon, who waged war against the Hussites – led by Jan Zizka. Infamous for his betrayal of Jan Hus, he sparked of the Hussite Wars, in which the Taborites (the Roma Gypsies) used wagons and gun powder for the first time in Europe. He founded a secret sect,  the “Dracul” called the Order of the Dragon.

Of course, these three are the most famous – but not the only ones. Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 “Carmilla“, about a lesbian vampire was another monster book of its time. An associate of Mary Shelley, John Polidori created the character of the “The Vampyre” in 1819 – on which possibly Dracula was based.

Most significantly, in 1896, was HG Well’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, which presaged Joseph Mengele – when Joseph Mengele had not even started on his higher education. A good 50 years before Joseph Mengele’s experiments were discovered by a shocked world.

The wellspring of these works is H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. In this 1896 novel, a vivisectionist attempts to transform animals into men until the misshapen creatures revert and kill him, the forces of nature overcoming man’s civilizing artifices. From The Boys From Brazil (Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele, alive and well and cloning Hitlers at a secret lab in the Brazilian Amazon) to Jurassic Park (Richard Attenborough alive and well and cloning velociraptors), Wells’ basic formula has become familiar: an island; a Frankensteinian experiment; a Faustian scientist; something gone terribly, terribly wrong. (from Requiem for the Mad Scientist By Arthur Allen, in Slate).

From the 1700-1800, while Spain was in decline, for about a 100 years, Western literary field did not see too much action on the monster front. The main action was in Haiti, where zombies, the ex-murderers, the living dead became a part of the voodoo cult.

The late Victorian era was one of the most expansive phases of the empire. Britain annexed some thirty-nine separate areas around the world between 1870-1900, in competition with newly aggressive America in the Pacific or the European powers in the so-called ‘Scramble for Africa’ after the continent was divided up at the Berlin conference of 1885. (from Late Victorian Gothic tales By Roger Luckhurst)

The last of the true great monster in popular culture came from the East. Soon after WW2, as tales of Japanese atrocities started coming out and as American atrocities in Vietnam started, Godzilla came out of Japan. But a different pressure head was building up, which gave rise to a new genre – detective fiction.

Euro-Pessimism

Between 1800-1950, Western powers killed (directly or otherwise) more than 50 million people in America (the Native Americans), Africa (the Native Africans and Afro-Americans), Asia (Indians, Chinese, Arabs). This led to a situation that every other person in the West had participated in murder or massacre. Western ambiguity towards Soviet Russia on one side, Hitler on the other – and to that add, Gandhiji’s resolute opposition to colonialism – and you have a inflammable situation.

The deluge of blood and murder caused moral anxiety and was a matter of ethical dilemma amongst common folks. The pressure valve for this was popular fiction. Identifying murderers became a form of proxy, vicarious entertainment for ordinary folks. Enter the super detectives, who pick out the murderer from a room full of ordinary people. Enter detectives like Auguste Dupin, of ‘The Purloined Letter‘ fame, who “investigates an apparently motiveless and unsolvable double murder in the Rue Morgue.”

The Controversial Tintin In CongoMurder in Popular Image

A trend started by Edgar Allan Poe, whose first detective novel, Murders In Rue Morgue (1841) soon became an avalanche. Writers like Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple solving murders happening by the second), Georges Simenon (and his Inspector Maigret investigating brutal crimes), Ngaio Marsh (Roderick Alleyn), GK Chesterton (Father Brown), Raymond Chandler (Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe) dealt with murder. Alfred Hitchcock made horror thrillers in similar themes.

Agatha Christie’s book filmed as Ten Little Indians, based on the book, initially released (the book) in Britain as Ten Little Niggers (later renamed as Then There None) gives the game away. Agatha Christie probably pre-saged the White desire to ensure that there should be none of the Native Americans left to tell the tale. The overt racism in Herge’s ‘Tintin in Congo’ made the world sit-up and note the pervasiveness of racism in detective fiction.

Jerome Delamater, Ruth Prigozy, in an essay compilation, ‘Theory and Practice of Classic Detective Fiction’, observe that Jane Marple, along with Hercule “Poirot becomes an equal opportunity detective who really believes that anyone might commit murder”. Dismissing the jaundiced view of human nature,” the writers of this book, while commenting about the detective fiction genre, do not mention slavery at all – and mention colonialism and racism once each.The History Of Mystery

The Mystery of the Dying Detective

After de-colonisation, as mass murder went underground, the detective-murder mystery books genre faded. This category was replaced by a new theme – the axis of corporation-government international conspiracies.

Conspiracy Theory – Full Steam Ahead

The new category of popular fiction are represented by Ian Fleming, Arthur Hailey, Frederick Forsyth, Irving Wallace, Robert Ludlum, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, et al. More and more contrived, each conspiracy theory writer has been ‘inspired’ by real life incidents.

While Ludlum’s international-conspiracy-plot-CIA-FBI-KGB series have worn thin, the spookiness of Le Carre’s Absolute Friends and Constant Gardner still work as novels representing the West.

Western Twins – Anxiety and Paranoia

To develop this understanding further, there are two classes of films that I wish to draw attention to.

Malignant Nature

Jaws (the shark that eats humans), Jurassic Park (mad scientists, conspiring technicians let loose man eating dinos) Gremlins and Poltergiest (things that go bump in the night). This paranoid fear of nature (and natural laws) seems to be a result of the subterranean knowledge of the way in which ecological damage and pollution is happening. These films produced /directed by Steven Spielberg (who is incomparable because as Time Magazine says, “No one else has put together a more popular body of work”)

Illegal AliensVindictive Humans

The other is the thinly disguised hate and prejudice films against the poor and the victimised. ‘Aliens’ needs just one small change for the films idea to become clear. Instead of LV-426, Nostromo the space ship, receives a distress call from some country in South America or Africa (or India, if you prefer). The meaning is clear when you see the movie while conscious of the fact that alien is is the word the US Government uses for people from other countries.

What Does This Mean

A US commentator Robert Putnam says that

“… We don’t trust each other as much as we used to. Trust in other people has fallen from 58 percent in 1960 to 35 percent in the mid-1990s. Our less trusting atmosphere has led us to recoil from civic life and social ties. We belong to fewer voluntary organizations, vote less often, volunteer less, and give a smaller share of our gross national product to charity (Putnam, 1995a, 1995b; Knack, 1992; 1986; Uslaner, 1993, 96-97). People who trust others are more likely to participate in almost all of these activities, so the decline in trust is strongly linked to the fall in civic engagement (Putnam, 1995a; Brehm and Rahn, 1997; Uslaner, 1997) …The Purloined Letter Drawing

Elephants in the room

Most critics and commentators write about the phenomenon of detective fiction devoid of context – and the detective fiction as entertainment only.

One writer, Franco Moretti did half the job in book Signs Taken for Wonders: On the Sociology of Literary Forms By Franco Moretti. He writes,

“The perfect crime – the nightmare of detective fiction – is the feature-less, deindividualized crime that anyone could have committed because at this point everyone is the same.” He further writes,“Yet, if we turn to Agatha Christie, the situation is reversed.Her hundred-odd books have only one message: the criminal can be anyone …”

Detective FictionIn his entire book he does not use the words like slavery, racism, genocide, bigotry even once. The 19th century, which was based on Western bigotry, White racism, Black slavery, and assorted genocides is unrecognised in Moretti’s books.

Running or hiding? Or it a case of feeling squeamish? Perhaps, a case of queasy stomach, Franco?

Another book, The Detective as Historian: History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction, by Ray Broadus Browne, Lawrence A. Kreiser does a better job. This book examines, the detective fiction genre, with some references to slavery and child prostitution.

How was this explained away

As the monsters increased, both in real life and literature, rationalizations were required. A person no less than Immanuel Kant, was pressed into service to deconstruct the ‘monster’, re-invent it and give it a positive spin.

The monster taken up by Kant in an aesthetic sense to refer to those things that exceed representation considers that the monstrous describes an entity whose life force is greater than the matter in which in which it is contained. Thus rather than something that malfunctions during the course of its production, monstrosity is associated during romanticism with “over-exuberant living matter” that extends itself beyond its natural borders in order to affect a much wider sphere. ((from The subject in question By C. Christopher Soufas).

Detective Fiction

In the twentieth century, Kant’s hypothesis finds an echo when Lord Randolph William Churchill, the ‘Bulldog’ declared

“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race has come in and taken their place. (from Minorities, peoples, and self-determination By Nazila Ghanea-Hercock, Nazila Ghanea, Alexandra Xanthaki, Patrick Thornberry)

In another instance, Churchill wrote how ’superior’ Arabs, imposed on the ‘inferior’ negroes.

The stronger race imposed its customs and language on the negroes. The vigour of their blood sensibly altered the facial appearance … (from The River War By Winston Churchill).

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