The Reality of Modern India: Recurrence of Corporate-State

The Reality of Modern India: Recurrence of Corporate-State

October 17, 2020

by Straight-Bat for the Saker Blog

For quite some time, I have been alarmed with the general lack of understanding on modern India among the readers and activists (Indians and foreigners alike). As soon as “India” word appears on the paper or computer screen, a section of the readers start imagining the philosophical and religious connotation of the word, they try to realise how great saints spent whole life to get insights of ‘life’, ‘death’, and ‘moksha’! Another section of the readers on hearing the word “India” get an adrenaline rush through their body, their mind gets full of apathy bordering on hatred about ‘uneducated’ people who would continue to get screwed by their master perpetually. A third kind of readers feel India is a land of religious fascists, so no point in thinking about it.

The truth is, like any other civilization, the Indian subcontinent also has both glorious and sordid past. As a truth-seeker in political-social-economic domain, my concern is with the present state of affairs in India. However, in order to understand the present society, one must look back into the recent past – this article takes the interested readers and activists into a journey through the significant historical facts, politics, society and economy from around 1720 CE till March’2020.

A word of caution – readers who wish to read about how present ruling party mixed up the question of governance and economy with Hindu religion/spiritualism to bring back ‘ancient glory’ OR readers who wish to broaden their understanding on how covid-19 wrecked Indian economy since last week of March 2020 till date, won’t find this piece of article at all useful.

 1.  Introduction

In the post-colonial modern era, the South Asian landmass consists of the following countries:

  • India claiming an area of 3287.26 thousand sq. km. with 1352.64 million population in 2016
  • Pakistan claiming an area of 881.91 thousand sq. km. with 212.23 million population in 2016
  • Nepal claiming an area of 147.18 thousand sq. km. with 28.09 million population in 2016
  • Bhutan covering an area of 38.39 thousand sq. km. with 0.75 million population in 2016
  • Bangladesh covering an area of 147.57 thousand sq. km. with 161.37 million population in 2016
  • Sri Lanka covering an area of 65.61 thousand sq. km. with 21.23 million population in 2016

[ Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Asia ]

Each of the above 7 modern political entities possess quite a few characteristics that would enable them to qualify as a ‘nation-state’, while there exist a number of other peculiarities that would render such definition of ‘nation-state’ as pretentious. So, for our discussion in this write-up, I would like to identify any entity listed above as a ‘country’ – it is simple and expressive of the actual meaning. A ‘country’ has a geographical boundary, a population, and sovereignty of governance within the geographical boundary.

South Asian landmass, as a whole, has a very significant characteristic – ever since the Palaeolithic age dawned over this subcontinent, may be around 10,000 BCE, the only common thread that links geography of all regions and history of all eras of this landmass had been / has been – DIVERSITY. In this respect, South Asia is very similar to the European subcontinent – just like South Asia, with a wide variety of clan, tribe, language, religion, custom etc. Europe could / can never come near to a homogeneous society (other than genocide, which was once tried as a political project). Similarity doesn’t end there – in case of both South Asian and European subcontinents, formation of political entities had/has been a dynamic idea and reality! So many republics, principalities, protectorates, kingdoms and empires dotted the landscape for past 4000 years, that the most uncommon feature of political processes across the South Asian and European subcontinents had been / has been – CENTRALISATION.

Without getting into the details of past history or trying to cover the entire south Asian subcontinent, I’m restricting myself within the region of Indian subcontinent (presently India plus Pakistan plus Bangladesh) from Maratha domination around 1719 CE till liberation from British empire in 1947 CE, and partitioned India from 1947 to 2020 CE. Through a thorough but brief survey of the significant political and economic narratives of recent 300 years of history of the Indian subcontinent, I want to establish the following hypothesis:

a) English East India Company (EIC) created world’s first ‘corporate-state’ in Indian Subcontinent – that fete is being repeated now by Indian oligarchy

b) Behaviour of wealthy elites didn’t change over time – EIC’s primary objective of exploitation and extortion now taken up by Indian oligarchy

The journey will begin with review of Indian society as well as economy during Maratha domination and British era, then discuss the post-independence Social Democracy, and Neoliberal Oligarchy era. I will end with current semi-fascist corporatocracy, but won’t discuss future possibilities.

2.  Maratha-Dominated Indian Subcontinent

2.1  Expansion of Maratha Empire & Fall of Maratha Confederacy

Had Maratha power appreciated the diversity of India and tweaked their expansion policy to acknowledge the significance of alliance, as well as assigned importance to economic affairs as similar to military affairs, the Maratha empire would have seamlessly replaced Mughal empire as the central power based in Delhi – the British imperialist history of Indian subcontinent would be, in that case, aborted by 1790.

2.1.1 Starting from 1674, Maratha king Shivaji and his two sons built a kingdom in west region of India primarily on the basis of their expertise in guerrilla warfare against the Mughal empire. Shivaji’s grandson Shahuji, in 1713 CE appointed Balaji Vishwanath Bhat as Peshwa (the governing authority of Maratha kingdom). He marched to Delhi in 1719 CE and deposed the Mughal emperor. Thus the century of conflict started with sacking of Delhi, capital of Mughal empire by Maratha kingdom in 1719, thereafter Maratha kingdom grew into an empire, then transformed into a confederacy, and, with comprehensive defeat of Maratha Confederacy against the British East India Company in the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818 the Maratha power was defeated and century of conflict ended.

During this period, marauding Maratha cavalry became a nightmare in northern, eastern, and southern regions (which were part of Mughal empire until a decade back and subsequently the ex-Mughal governors became independent rulers). Maratha power would extract annual tax chauth (levied at the rate of one-fourth the annual revenues of the region) and sardeshmukhi (additional 10% levy on top of the chauth) from all such regions as extortion tax. In the trend-setting incidence, in 1719, the-then Mughal emperor granted Shahuji the chauth and sardeshmukhi rights over the six Deccan provinces in exchange for his maintaining a contingent of 15,000 troops for the purpose of Mughal emperor.

2.1.2 After death of Balaji Vishwanath, his son, Bajirao was appointed in 1720 CE as Peshwa by Shahuji. An able military leader, Bajirao soon transformed the Maratha kingdom into Maratha empire. By the time Bajirao died in 1740, Maratha empire became strong and Maratha army was unconquerable. The regions under the Maratha empire in 1740 were:

  • Western part of present India except Solapur, Nanderh, Kutch, Junagarh regions
  • entire Central region of present India
  • Northern part of present India – Malwa

The Persian emperor Nadir Shah invaded the crumbling Mughal empire from January to May 1739 and sacked the capital, Delhi after defeating Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. The loot was so ‘fabulous’ that Nadir Shah didn’t collect tax in Persian empire for next three years following his return. From that event onwards, effectively Mughal empire became a dead corpse which would still be showcased in Delhi, until 1857 when British forces would bury it. Three political powers active in India who were seeking expansion of their existing domain, got alerted – Maratha empire, Nizam of Hyderabad (erstwhile Mughal governor), and British East India Company (that didn’t have any territory by in 1740 apart from trading outposts).

The Mughal empire still had jurisdiction over the following regions in 1740:

  • Northern part of present India except Ladakh, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan

The governors/kings of erstwhile Mughal empire became independent rulers:

  • Northern region of present India – Uttar Pradesh (Awadh, Rohilkhand), Rajasthan (Jaipur, Jodhpur)
  • Eastern region of present India – Bengal-Bihar (Nawab of Murshidabad)
  • Southern region of present India – Maharashtra (Nizam’s portion), Telengana-Andhra (Nizam’s portion), Karnataka (Mysore), Tamil Nadu (Nawab of Arcot)

2.1.3 After death of Bajirao, his son Balaji Bajirao was appointed in 1740 CE as Peshwa by Shahuji. He expanded the Maratha empire to greatest height, but during his reign, lack of diplomatic statesmanship and lack of appropriate military strategy caused irreparable damages to the empire. Shahuji died in 1749. By the time Balaji Bajirao died in 1761, the Maratha empire established direct rule and indirect control over:

  • Western region of present India except Kutch, Solapur, Nanderh regions
  • entire Central region of present India
  • Northern region of present India – Malwa, part of Rajputana-Haryana-Punjab
  • Eastern region of present India – Orissa
  • Southern region of present India – part of Tamil Nadu

In 1751–52, the Ahamdiya treaty was signed between the Maratha and Mughal powers. Through this treaty, Mughal rule was restricted only to Delhi (currently greater Delhi). In 1752 when Ahmad Shah Abdali annexed Lahore and Multan, the Mughal Emperor entered into an agreement with Holkar and Scindia for protection against external and internal enemies granting the Marathas chauth tax of Punjab, Sindh, and Ganga-Yamuna Doab plus subadari of Agra and Aimer.

Ahmed Shah Abdali plundered Delhi in 1756, and Maratha army raided Delhi after Afghan withdrawal, defeating the Afghan garrison in the Battle of Delhi. Maratha power conquered North-west India successfully wresting Lahore, Attock, and Peshawar. However, Ahmed Shah Abdali came back soon to reoccupy lost territories. Afghani emperor Ahmed Shah Abdali invaded north-west and north India 8 times. During 1760-61 invasion the Afghani army took on the Maratha army. Afghani army in alliance with the army of Awadh and Rohilkhand routed Maratha army (with contingents from Maratha chieftains like Holkar, Scindia, Bhonsale, Pawar, Gaikwad etc.) which didn’t feel requirement of any alliance. Marathas maintained poor relations with most of the Rajput and Jat kings. Due to the defeat of Maratha military in January 1761 in the Third Battle of Panipat, Maratha power lost the wherewithal to replace Mughals to rule majority of Indian subcontinent from Delhi.

2.1.4 After death of Balaji Bajirao, his son, Madhavrao became Peshwa in 1761 CE. Maratha empire regained some of the lost glory during this period. In order to effectively coordinate the large empire through the satraps, Peshwa Madhavrao allowed autonomy to the most prominent of the satraps, and the Maratha empire became Maratha confederacy. However, after death of Peshwa Madhavrao I in 1772 CE, following chieftains became de facto rulers in far-flung regions of the empire:

  • Peshwa of Pune
  • Holkar of Indore
  • Scindia of Gwalior (Chambal region) and Ujjain (Malwa Region)
  • Bhonsale of Nagpur
  • Gaekwad of Baroda
  • Pawar of Dewas and Dhar

Even in the original Maratha kingdom of Shivaji many jamindars were given semi-autonomous charges of small districts like Aundh, Bhor, Phaltan, Miraj, Sangli etc.

There were two undercurrents simultaneously getting played out in Maratha confederacy:

  • Struggle for prominence and revenue collection among the Maratha chieftains
  • Struggle for capturing power within Peshwa family

There were two outstanding military leader-cum-statesman during the confederacy period:

  • Mahadji Scindhia controlled entire central and north India regions crushing all opposition from principalities and protectorate kingdoms of Jats, Rohilla Afghans, and Rajputs to Maratha rule between 1761 and 1793 CE – the period was termed as ‘Maratha Resurrection’. However, it remained one of the unresolved mystery of Indian history, why, even at the zenith of his power, Mahadji Scindia didn’t attempt to put a Maratha leader as the ‘emperor’ in Delhi.
  • Yashwantrao Holkar during the period 1799 through 1811 CE rebelled against the policies of the-then Peshwa Bajirao II and fought against the rising British power teeth and nail. He tried to unite all Maratha chieftains as well as other significant kingdoms of the-then Indian sub-continent communicating to them “First Country, and then Religion. We will have to rise above caste, religion, and our states in the interest of our country. You too must wage a war against the British, like me.” With most other dominions, principalities and kingdoms ruled by Indians signing treaties with the British, Yashwantrao Holkar had to also sign peace treaty in 1805 CE. His plan for final assault on British-held Indian territories didn’t materialise because of untimely death in 1811 CE.

2.1.5 Apart from seizing territory to expand the Maratha empire/confederacy, Peshwa also created a network of tributary/protectorate states all of which were part of Mughal empire in not-so-distant past. Maratha power imposed annual tax/protection money from these erstwhile provinces of Mughal power, while those erstwhile Mughal provinces/tributaries balked at paying extortions at any opportunity:

  • Nawab of Bengal (Bengal and Bihar; Orissa ceded to Marathas)
  • Nizam of Hyderabad (part of Maharashtra, part of Karnataka, Telengana, part of Andhra)
  • King of Mysore (part of Karnataka, part of Tamil Nadu)
  • Rajput kings of Rajputana (Rajasthan)

2.1.6 British East India Company played the role of ‘king-maker’ when it changed the Nawab (ruler) of Bengal-Bihar by winning the Battle of Plassey in 1757. However the significance of next British win in Battle of Buxar fought in October 1764 between British East India Company and combination of Nawab of Bengal-Bihar, Nawab of Awadh, and Mughal (Delhi) emperor was immeasurable – British East India Company became the de facto ruler of the largest revenue earning province of Mughal empire – Bengal-Bihar. By 1770 British company brought the following regions under direct ‘rule’:

  • Western region of present India – Mumbai (Bombay trading outpost)
  • Eastern region of present India – Kolkata (Calcutta trading outpost), Bengal, Bihar
  • Southern region of present India – Chennai (Madras trading outpost), coastal Andhra (Northern Sircars)

The most ferocious period of the 100-year conflict took place between 1766 through 1818 when eight significant wars were fought among British East India Company, Mysore, and Maratha (Hyderabad Nizam most of the time supported English EIC):

  • First Anglo–Mysore War (1766–69)
  • First Anglo-Maratha War (1777–83)
  • Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780–84)
  • Maratha-Mysore War (1785–87)
  • Third Anglo-Mysore War (1789–92)
  • Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1798–99)
  • Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–05)
  • Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–18)

Third Anglo-Maratha War resulted in the British control of most of the Indian subcontinent either directly or through dependency/protectorate treaty. Through meticulous planning, cunning diplomacy, and psychological manipulation of the Indian states, the British power defeated/subdued all of them, and spread their empire across Indian subcontinent.

2.2  Administration & Revenue system of Maratha Power

The Maratha king (Chhatrapati) had an enlightened Council of Eight ministry through which the Maratha empire was administered: Prime Minister (Pantpradhan / Peshwa), Finance Minister (Amatya / Mazumdar), Secretary (Pant Sachiv), Interior Minister (Mantri), Chief of Military (Senapati), Foreign Minister (Sumant), Chief Justice (Nyayadhyaksh), and Highest Priest (Panditrao). After 1761 during the confederacy times, the administration of became quite complex with central Peshwa following the old ‘council of eight’ concept while the autonomous chieftains introduced some new processes. Maratha empire-turned-confederacy was avowedly military-state. The chauth collected across Indian subcontinent was primarily distributed for military purpose – two-thirds remained with Maratha chieftains for maintaining their military troops, 25% went to the King (Chhatrapati), 6% went to the office of pant sachiv for managing the royal secretariat.

Maratha empire was administratively divided into two regions: directly ruled by the king (regulation areas) and ruled by the semi-autonomous/autonomous chiefs (non-regulation areas). Land revenue from regulation areas were based on assessment, accounting and other factors, but revenue from non-regulation areas were not based on any realistic assessment. More vociferous chieftains would resist demand of king’s tribute and pay less compared to more docile chiefs. The assessment-based revenue was almost fixed during the 18th century, with minimum change in valuation.

The regulation areas had ‘vatandar’ system wherein land rights (including right to sale) would be vested in a brotherhood of patrilineal relatives. Vatandar units of about 20 to 200 villages was under a Zamindar termed as DeshmukhVatandars were co-sharers of the produce of ‘land’ as well as ‘revenue exempt land’. There were two types of tenants: resident cultivators with hereditary rights of occupancy, and temporary cultivators.

During late 1750s and 1760s, Peshwa completed the ‘tankha settlement’ considering old and new arable land, quality of land, and thorough measurement (king’s share became one-sixth of the produce). 1790s onwards when the Peshwa needed more revenue to pay for mobilisation of armies and obligations to the British, revenue collection target was raised.

The administrative systems in the semi-autonomous statelets called ‘saranjam states’ (Holkar, Scindia, Bhonsle, Pawar, Gaikwad etc.) were similar in principle, but each of the statelet would run its administration in its own way. Both – land revenue collection system within territory as well as extortion tax from neighbouring statelets, were managed by a well-structured bureaucracy (more often than not, these appointments were done within extended family).

2.3 Economy & Commerce

Summarising the economy in Indian subcontinent during Mughal era (assuming 1526 CE to 1739 CE), The Cambridge Economic History of Indian mentioned “Centralized administration, a uniform revenue policy, a network of inland trade fostered by Mughal peace and active encouragement to an expanding overseas commerce created conditions in which economic stimuli travelled fast enough from one part of the empire to another. A few propositions stated above wouldn’t fit while describing the Maratha empire-cum-confederacy era between 1719 CE and 1818 CE, two factors especially stood out – firstly, ‘centralised administration’ was replaced by decentralised statecraft within Maratha confederacy and few other powerful statelets, secondly, ‘peace’ was elusive during this tumultuous period. Trading and crafts manufacturing activities in large urban cities like Delhi, Agra, Surat, Lahore, Dhaka etc. took a hit during the period of 1710s through 1720s. During this period, for common people (small landholders, agricultural labourers, craftsmen, soldiers), daily life became more stressful.

2.3.1 An estimate by Angus Maddison (Table B-18 in The World Economy, Paris: OECD, 2001) shows that, in early modern era the GDP of Indian subcontinent as a share of world GDP was highest during Mughal era and lowest during British Raj:

1600 CE1700 CE1870 CE
GDP (million 1990 int. $)% of World GDPGDP (million 1990 int. $)% of World GDPGDP (million 1990 int. $)% of World GDP
Britain6,00701.8010,70902.88100,17909.10
Western Europe65,95520.0283,39522.46370,22333.61
China96,00029.1482,80022.30189,74017.23
India74,25022.5490,75024.44134,88212.25
World329,417371,3691101,369

A safe conclusion from the above estimate can be made that, even if the internal disturbances during Maratha domination were detrimental to the economic growth, the drastic reduction in Indian subcontinent’s share of world GDP in 19th century had minimum linkage with 18th century Maratha era.

2.3.2 While discussing the economy of 18th century Indian subcontinent, it must be mentioned that there is an uncanny similarity with imperial China of that period – close to 80% of total population were rural peasants. While Mughal power was deriving their land revenue primarily from north, east and south regions (as well as tax revenue from trade in west, east, and south regions), Maratha power grew out of west and central India where agrarian settlement reached limits of its development. That resulted in persistent pressure of the Maratha power into stimulation of higher productivity in more fertile areas (under their direct rule) like Doab region in north, and Tanjore region in south.

The Maratha rulers adopted revenue collection based on concessional assessment (istava) and extended facility of loans. Another significant policy was encouraging/rewarding the citizens to build and repair agricultural facilities like dam. Fukuzawa has noted that state promotion of agriculture and revenue management system by the Maratha rulers made considerable impact to medium and large plot-holders (18 acres to 108 acres of land)

He further noted that, over the years 1790 to 1803 the small plot-holders completely disappeared while the large land holders increased in number. The economic condition of vast section of rural peasantry and rural labours worsened considerably due to increased population and increased taxation, apart from prices of food grains.

During the power transfer process from Mughal to Maratha era, the families of privileged and powerful aristocracy (state ministers, deshmukhs, military officers, financiers and traders) who combined multiple functions simultaneously, became controller of rural resources and source of income through hereditary offices, tax collection, tax-exempted land etc. More often than not, these families were from non-cultivating background.

2.3.3 Medium and small sized mints were a feature of market towns. Copper and cowries were imported in large volume to meet the demand of highly ‘monetized’ local markets. People in western region of India were paid daily and monthly wages for handicraft production, agricultural labour, and other services. Records dated 18th century pertaining to monetary and contractual dealings, loans in cash and kind, etc. were found.

Apart from cultivation of staple food, cash crops and manufacturing were part of the economy in western, eastern, and southern regions. The crafts manufacturing in the northern region were negatively impacted due to the continuous warfare in Maratha era. Credit institutions operating in town and countryside were not only a vibrant part of economy, but it also played a not-so-impressive role of creating an indebted nobility class.

2.3.4 Development of market forces had impacted the subsistence character of Indian agriculture. Even though the peasantry met family requirements of food out of his own produce, very poor peasants would depend on moneylenders for seed and food-grains during non-cropping period. By mid-18th century non-food grain production (mulberry, poppy, indigo, sugarcane, tobacco, maize, and mango) increased substantially. However, the rural areas could never become source of ‘demand / consumption of goods’ due to poor purchasing power, and remained only ‘producers’ in spite of housing vast population.

In a somewhat similar trend as that of China, the rural peasants were also involved in manufacturing (like spinning of coarse cloth) for their own consumption as well as partly for disposal in the market. For production of agriculture-based products like raw silk, indigo, sugar, oil, and salt peasants were responsible. This type of rural manufacturing co-existed with urban artisan industries (which was independent from rural influences) that catered to a growing export market.

At the village level, there were marketing complex (mandi), which were permanent wholesale markets attracting traders and commodity sellers from both neighbouring and distant locations. Part of the produces would distributed across the country as well as pushed into overseas commerce. Surat, Masulipatam and Hugli were famous centres of export, and Agra and Burhanpur were significant inland commercial centre. By 1770’s English EIC almost monopolised the overseas trade through privileges from which the native Indians were excluded.

2.3.5 The arrogance of provincial rulers and the avarice of government officials during late Mughals (as against the philosophy of ‘good governance’ espoused by the early Mughal emperors) had curbed the enterprising spirit and prevented the accumulation of capital over generations. That type of administrative shortcomings were in place even during the Maratha domination in the subcontinent which deterred many traders and financiers who commanded immense resources (even if they had considerable influence with the political authorities). In fact, during 1750’s and 1760’s few prominent the-then Bengal traders-financiers conspired with English EIC officials against the Bengal Nawab (erstwhile Mughal provincial governor) to bring English EIC as the ruler of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa by enticing the commanders of Bengal Nawab’s Army. These Indian traders-financiers expected EIC would provide good governance and extend special privilege to them for business – it was a short-lived affair that permanently changed the history.

2.4 Significant observations on Maratha-dominated Subcontinent:

2.4.1 Between 1757 and 1819 the English EIC established control of most of the Indian subcontinent. Due to factors like (a) disunity, distrust, and rivalry among the Maratha chieftains, (b) short-sighted “hindutwa” policy of Maratha Peshwa who didn’t want to ally with Mysore Sultan because of few cases of forced religious conversion programmes in south India carried out by the Sultan, and (c) consistently pro-British stand of Hyderabad ruler Nizam and other small kingdoms, seven most prominent statelets of the-then Indian subcontinent (four Maratha statelets- Maratha Peshwa, Gwalior Scindhia, Nagpur Bhosle, Indore Holkar, Mysore kingdom, Hyderabad Nizam, and Sikh kingdom) never joined forces to fight the British forces. History showed that, had any four of them formed a united front and fought the English EIC forces, British forces would got vanquished. On the contrary, Maratha Peshwa, Gwalior Scindhia, Hyderabad Nizam, and Sikh king allied with English EIC at different point of time for their fight against other Indian statelets!

2.4.2 Compared to the early modern Europe and China, early modern Indian subcontinent had been a laggard in application of science and technology in to agriculture and crafts manufacturing. Apart from spinning, canon, and ship, labour-saving techniques in different sectors of economy remained elusive. However, with arrival of French and British companies, the subcontinent started absorbing new techniques and technologies like raw-silk reeling, indigo and saltpetre manufacturing, cloth printing etc. An intriguing observation by Indian scholars including M K Gandhi was that, specialisation and division of labour based on caste and clan got developed in Indian subcontinent since ancient era which kept the economy of villages self-reliant and all households had near-guaranteed employment that at least ensured subsistence. This old heartless and inefficient but effective system didn’t bring any impetus for major technological changes and labour-saving. The English EIC brought technological and management changes that started to break down the entire rural economy and urban crafts manufacturing as early as 1770s.

2.4.3 During the 15th century late medieval era, southern region, western region, Deccan region, and Rajasthan region witnessed emergence of powerful families (mostly upper caste Hindu Brahman-Kshatriya-Vaishya) who, across generations, accumulated various rights, offices, and capital (land, labour, money) and contributed to state building under different kings/emperors (both Hindu and Muslim). During the same time, northern region, north-western region, and eastern region witnessed emergence of powerful Turkish-Iranian Muslim families who similarly accumulated various offices and capital under mainly Afghan and Mughal Muslim sultans/ emperors. This aristocratic wealthy ‘class’ had been involved in state administration (including land survey, revenue accounting, and record keeping) in dual role – as land-owner and as administrator. They were also main driver for commercial ventures (export and shipping) and banking matters. Maratha domination up to 1818, didn’t change the existing structure, but reinforced it with induction of hundreds of aristocrat families based in west India most of whom were upper caste Hindu.

3.  British Rule in Indian Subcontinent

3.1  Road to Corporate-State Passed Through Bengal

English East India Company (EIC) was established in London in 1600 December through a royal charter from English monarch Elizabeth I for monopoly trading with Asia. Initially, EIC formulated separate joint stocks for each voyage, whereby investors would decide to allocate capital on the basis of individual voyage. The EIC became a permanent joint stock corporation in 1657 CE. A new company was awarded the monopoly of Asia trade, but with the old company decided to merge with the new one in 1709 CE – after that EIC became a pillar of public finance through its loan extended to the British exchequer. EIC became a colossus for Britain accounting for between 13 and 15 per cent of all Britain’s imports between 1699 and 1774. EIC trading outposts in Indian subcontinent were established in Masulipatnam, Surat, Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta by 1710 CE. In 1717 CE the company received privileges (firman) for duty-free trading rights in Mughal empire.

3.1.1 Since beginning of 18th century English EIC had a strong base in Calcutta. Due to proximity to good raw materials, and highly sophisticated division of labour, Bengal offered the world ‘an unbeatable combination of high quality and low prices’ and ‘immense diversity, with over 150 different names for the textiles … covering muslins, calicoes and silk, along with mixed cotton and silk goods’. Bengal’s share of total EIC imports (into Europe) climbed to 66% by 1738–40 from just 12% in 1668–70. Few prominent Bengal-based traders-financiers like Jagat Seth, Amir Chand, and Nabakrishna Deb came close to EIC officials owing to business relationship. These Indian merchants-bankers teamed up with the commanders of Bengal Nawab’s Army and conspired with Robert Clive and few other English EIC officials against the Bengal Nawab to remove him and place the-then Army Chief Mir Jafar as Nawab. The ulterior motive was to remove the anti-British Nawab and make way for the English EIC, which in the long run, would ensure special privilege awarded to those Indian merchants for business and trading.

Coup at Plassey in 1757 was followed by looting of the-then Bengal’s treasury at Murshidabad by English EIC – according to heresay the EIC shifted the treasury’s gold, silver, and jewels to their base at Calcutta by a fleet of over 100 boats. If the reality was even a small fraction, the Battle of Plassey not only paved the way for creation of British Empire in India, but it also resulted in a windfall one-time revenue equivalent to hundreds of millions of pound in those days – apparently, most of it was personally distributed among Robert Clive, few senior EIC officials, and few Bengal conspirator financer-merchants. After winning Battle of Buxar in 1764, English EIC got the Mughal emperor’s authorisation as “diwan” of government tax collection in Bengal province (the-then Bengal-Bihar-Orissa) August 1765 onwards. Robert Clive calculated that, from this acquisition there would be a profit to EIC to the tune of Rs12 million or £1.65 million. In 21st century terms, this amounted to an annual surplus of over £150 million, with a profit margin of 49%. It was a phenomenal ‘acquisition’ that propelled the shareholders and company executives on a completely new path to prosperity English EIC’s share price went for a boom when the news reached London’s financial markets in April 1766. In reality EIC would collect total over £10 million during the next 4 – 5 years, generating a surplus of £4 million, much less than initially expected – however that was still far lucrative ‘business’ at a time when the company’s total exports from Asia before the diwani amounted to around £1 million each year. The company directors instructed its officials in Bengal to split the surplus from tax collection between purchase of Bengal textiles, sending the remainder to Canton to buy tea, for shipment back to Europe and North America.

3.1.2 In January 1769, EIC bought British Parliament’s support for the acquisition of Bengal (presidency) with a commitment of annual payment to Parliament of an amount £400,000. In exchange, the Parliament would not attempt to interfere much in the English EIC’s business or other activities. World’s first corporate-state was born. The company used its dominance to monopolise the internal and foreign trade of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa in the decade that followed – very soon, they pushed out the Indian and other European merchants in the process. The EIC officials were extracting ever greater sums from the Bengal populace to maximise revenue for:

  • More and more dividend for British shareholders
  • Extra pay-out to British Parliament
  • Rampant corruption by EIC Officials who sought to line their pockets, make a fortune, take retirement

EIC officials forced the cloth manufacturers to work for them at an under price, at the same time those officials prohibited all Indian or European merchants from dealing with weavers – according to William Bolts, “the methods of oppressing the poor weavers were … fines, imprisonments, floggings, forcing bonds on them”. Consequently, widespread poverty and indebtedness followed. But profit margins for EIC’s cloth import into Europe from Bengal (and India) touched new high as the cloth cost was pushed down through oppression.

The greed, corruption, negligence, and apathy of EIC officials in the agriculture and textile sectors and lack of monsoon rains resulted in massive Bengal famine of 1770, during which millions of impoverished people in Bengal died from hunger, and disease. It was followed by floods. As Horace Walpole said at the time, “we have murdered, deposed, plundered, usurped – nay, what think you of the famine in Bengal, in which three millions perished, being caused by a monopoly of provisions by servants of the East Indies (EIC – author)”.

Between 1757 and 1780 goods worth estimated £38 million were transferred back to Britain by EIC on an unrequited basis – in 21st century terms, this amounted to over £3.5 billion. Apart from that, during the same period remittances to Britain by company executives averaged £0.5 million every year. Noted Indian scholar R C Dutt wrote, “A change came over India under the rule of the East India Company, who considered India as a vast estate or plantation, the profits of which were to be withdrawn from India and deposited in Europe”.

3.1.3 Due to humongous corruption and inefficiency, EIC faced significant financial strain in the early 1770s – in 1772 the company had to request British Parliament for a bailout of an £1 million to avoid bankruptcy. Parliament’s bailout came along with regulatory actions:

  • As per Regulating Act of 1773 during the premiership of Lord North, even though the ultimate sovereignty over the Indian subcontinent stayed with the British Crown, EIC would act as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown. It could do this while concurrently being subject to oversight and regulation by the British government and parliament., Warren Hastings was appointed as the first Governor-General of Bengal Presidency to govern the British dominion in India (supervising both Madras Presidency and Bombay Presidency)
  • The India Act of 1784, or Pitt Act, attempted to redress the shortcomings of the 1773 Act. A dual administration was created whereby the EIC would be controlled jointly by the company shareholders and the British Parliament. Board of Control was created to oversee the company affairs which rendered the Board of Directors (Proprietors) less influential. The India Act of 1784 signified the legal transformation of EIC and asserted Parliamentary oversight over EIC

These regulating measures limited EIC’s autonomy (and operational areas were restrained). Also, extending Parliament’s control over appointment of Governor-General (of EIC) business considerations such as profit and dividend could become secondary while state administration could appear as primary objective. These acts by British Parliament, thus legalised the transformation of the EIC from a corporation into a corporate-state. Establishment of similar corporate-state by Dutch East Indies Company in Java (in Indonesia) followed close on the heels of EIC’s ‘achievement’ in Bengal.

Many historians, economists, businessmen consider East India Company as a transition from medieval forms of business entity like the guild and the regulated company, and the modern joint-stock company. However, they forget that, apart from carrying out trading business, EIC also maintained a standing army, vast territory, bureaucracy, a system of taxation, a judiciary with legal code; EIC combined the rights of private persons (like entering into contract, to sue, be sued) along with features of public sovereignty (like prerogative to wage war, sign treaty, govern over people, print/coin money). Niels Steensgaard pertinently pointed out, “The (early modern chartered – author) companies were created in a unique encounter between political power and market oriented entrepreneurship; they were the result of dynamic improvisations and experiments”Considering Lenin’s view on imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism, it was no wonder that arrival of EIC as world’s first corporate-state on the world-stage was the final outcome of mercantile capitalist policy and monopolism promoted by the colonialist state of Britain.

3.1.4 The reforms of the 1770s, and 1780s had penetrated the Company’s autonomy as a business. ‘Industrial Revolution’ started impacting the industrial landscape of Britain – in 1781, mass production of British ‘muslins’ and ‘calicoes’ commenced. By 1793, a Lancashire mill operator had become about 400 times more productive than the average Indian weaver. Mill-made cottons took increasing slices of the EIC’s market share of textiles in both Britain and its key re-export markets in Africa, and America. 1790 onwards, EIC explored alternate business by promoting exports of raw materials (from Indian subcontinent) on a larger scale including sugar, silk, saltpetre, indigo.

Due to sustained campaign by merchants and bankers in Britain, in 1813 EIC lost monopoly of trade with India. Its commercial monopoly was removed for all except the China trade that was extended for another 20 years. 20% increase in import duties on Indian goods was added in 1813 to ensure that competition from Indian subcontinent couldn’t challenge the British mill owners. As a result, after 1813 textile imports from Bengal presidency and Indian subcontinent fell by three-quarters while exports to India of British textile rose more than fifty-fold. British textiles soon inundated the Indian markets – value of the textile imports grew from £5.2 million 1850 to £18.4 million in 1896. In 1818, EIC’s cloth ‘factory’ at Dhaka (now capital of Bangladesh) was wound up – by 1840, population of Dhaka had fallen from 150,000 to just 20,000. Not only the British rulers refused to give any tariff protection to Indian textile sector (until 1920) preferring imports from Britain, but in a grisly repeat of earlier cruelties, when machine-made yarns were first introduced into Dhaka in 1821, the ‘thumb and index finger of some of the renowned artisans began to be chopped off in order to disable them from twisting finer yarns’. The main aim of the British rulers was to transform Indian subcontinent into a consumer of British goods. Textile, metal, and glass industrial sectors in Indian subcontinent lost their traditional position as employer. In the beginning of 19th century, unable to compete with the British industry-made products, the Indian craft goods lost both their domestic as well as foreign market.

3.1.5 In the 19th century, the most lucrative trading for EIC was opium, which could generate up to 2000% profit from each chest of 63 kg opium sourced from Bengal presidency and Malwa region, and transported to Chinese empire through Canton port. As the textile export (mainly from Bengal) to Europe went down, opium export to China went up steadily – 2000 chests in 1800 CE, 12000 chests in 1824, 40000 chests in 1839, and 58000 chests in 1859 CE. Sticking to the original objective of ‘making profit’, EIC officials had no qualms about the ‘drug smuggling’ business. Tea, hides and skins, oil cake (used as animal feed and fertilizer) etc. became export goods 1860 onwards.

3.1.6 By 1832 CE, within Britain there were hue and cry from two sections of elite society:

(a) Merchants and businessmen wanted the trading charter from EIC to be completely revoked

(b) Few politicians, economists and social activists wanted to close down EIC for its blatant mismanagement of internal affairs in Indian subcontinent.

In 1833 CE, British Parliament put an end to EIC’s trading operations in India; EIC however, remained as territorial administrator in India; land revenue, opium, and textile imports into subcontinent became most important sources of revenue. The Governor-General of Bengal presidency was redesignated as the Governor-General of India.

3.2  Setting Up of ‘British India’ Empire by English EIC

Apart from the conflicts the English EIC had with the different political entities of Indian subcontinent, they also fought 3 wars with French East India Company primarily in Carnatic region (the coastal Tamil Nadu and coastal Andhra) which was itself a dependency of Hyderabad Nizam – popularly known as ‘Carnatic War’. Between 1746 (initiation of the First Carnatic War) and 1818 (conclusion of the Third Anglo-Maratha War) English EIC spread their empire across Indian subcontinent.

3.2.1 First Carnatic War (1746–1748), Second Carnatic War (1749–1754), Third Carnatic War (1756–1763) were essentially a series of diplomatic and military struggle between the French EIC and the English EIC for dominance among the European trading companies within Indian subcontinent. The French company was defeated and was confined primarily to Pondicherry, and the British Company eventually established British empire in India generally called as ‘British Raj’. Even before English EIC bagged their first imperial dominion in 1765 as Bengal-Bihar-Orissa, they had 5 trading outposts across India and in order to fight with the French EIC for supremacy in Indian subcontinent they maintained a standing army of 18,200 spread over Calcutta, Madras, Bombay trading outposts. Between 1763 and 1805, EIC’s army had grown almost nine-fold from 18,000 to 154,500, far beyond what was required for self-defence – the continuous build-up of military strength fuelled a powerful dynamic in favour of further aggression. By 1857, EIC commanded an army of 350,538 out of which only 39,500 troops were British. It was briefly described in Section 2 how English EIC colluded, collaborated and controlled most powerful statelets of the-then Indian subcontinent (Maratha Peshwa and warlords, Mysore Sultan, Hyderabad Nizam, Carnatic Nawab, Awadh Nawab, Sikh emperor).

3.2.2 Richard Wellesley’s tenure as governor-general was the most important in EIC’s history of territorial expansion. He expanded beyond Bengal presidency subjugating Mysore, Marathas, Hyderabad, and Awadh. He was a shrewd practitioner of ‘Subsidiary Alliance System’ – it was an alliance system which left the Indian ‘princely state’ a measure of internal autonomy in matters relating to administration, taxation and finance, but were obliged to maintain minimum defence and no foreign affairs. A resident appointed by EIC coordinated affairs between the Indian statelet and EIC. Through such protectorate alliance, more than 550 statelets (about 200 statelets had sizeable land area and population while more than 200 statelets were as small as couple of villages with an area of less than 10 sq. mile) were absorbed in British empire by mid-19th centuryIn 1947 when British rule in Indian subcontinent ended, princely states covered about 40% of the area of pre-independence Indian subcontinent and constituted about one-fourth of its population.

Five most significant princely states with an individual British resident/envoy permanently stationed, were:

  • Mysore state (29,326 sq. mile)
  • Nizam’s Hyderabad state (82,698 sq. mile)
  • Dogra’s Jammu & Kashmir state (84,516 sq. mile)
  • Gaikwad’s Baroda state (8,164 sq. mile)
  • Scindhia’s Gwalior state (26,367 sq. mile)

Almost all of the remaining princely states – large and small – were incorporated within special entities called ‘agency’ where British political agents/officers coordinated the affairs of those states:

  • Baluchistan Agency (significant states – Makran 21,000 sq. mile)
  • Northwest Frontier States Agency (significant states – Swat 3,190 sq. mile)
  • Punjab States Agency (significant states – Bahawalpur 17,726 sq. mile, Mandi 1,140 sq. mile)
  • Rajputana Agency (significant states – Bharatpur 1,978 sq. mile, Bikaner 23,317 sq. mile, Jaipur 15,579 sq. mile, Marwar/Jodhpur 35,016 sq. mile, Mewar/Udaipur 12,694 sq. mile)
  • Central India Agency (significant states – Bhopal 6,902 sq. mile, Indore 9,518 sq. mile, Rewa 13,000 sq. mile, Dhar 1,784 sq. mile, Panna 2,596 sq. mile)
  • Western India States Agency (significant states – Bhavnagar 2,961 sq. mile, Junagadh 3,284 sq. mile, Kutch 8,250 sq. mile)
  • Deccan States Agency (significant states – Kolhapur 3,217 sq. mile)
  • Madras States Agency (significant states – Travancore 7,625 sq. mile, Cochin 1,480 sq. mile)
  • Eastern States Agency (significant states – Keonjhar 3,096 sq. mile, Kalahandi 3,700 sq. mile, Bastar 13,062 sq. mile, Surguja 6,090  sq. mile, Tripura 4,116  sq. mile)

Three princely states however remained out of such ‘agency’ but were British protectorate:

  • Kalat (73,278 sq. mile in Baluchistan region)
  • Manipur (8,456 sq. mile in Bengal-Assam region)
  • Sikkim (2,818 sq. mile in Bengal-Assam region)

The territorial expansion of English EIC from 1757 to 1857 happened through outright annexation in:

a) Calcutta – 24 Parganas – Bengal (part of present east India & Bangladesh) – Bihar – Orissa combined as Bengal Presidency;

b) Madras – Carnatic region (coastal Andhra & coastal Tamil Nadu) – rest of Andhra – Tanjore region – Mysore regions (part of Karnatake & part of Tamil Nadu) combined as Madras Presidency;

c) Bombay – Surat – Maratha Gaikwad territory (part of Gujarat) – Maratha Peshwa territory (part of Maharashtra and part of Karnataka) – Thar region – Sindh region (present Pakistan) combined as Bombay Presidency;

d) Benaras – Awadh territory (east and central Uttar Pradesh) – Maratha Scindia territory (west Uttar Pradesh) – Dehradun region – Jhansi territory combined as United Provinces (North-Western Provinces plus Awadh);

e) Maratha Bhonsle territory (Madhya Pradesh and part of Maharashtra) – Sambalpur region combined as Central Provinces ;

f) Assam – Kachhar region (part of present India) – Sylhet region (present Bangladesh) – Hills of Khasi-Jaintya-Naga combined as Assam province

g) Delhi – Sikh territory (Punjab in present India and Pakistan, Peshawar region in present Pakistan) – Kangra region – Shimla region combined as Punjab province

Supportive Map

3.2.3 In 1829 the British ruled territories were reorganised through establishing districts which were small enough to be controlled by an administrative Head (acting as revenue collector, police officer, and judge). The high-ranking civil service officers were mostly British until the 1920s when Indian Civil Service examinations began to be simultaneously held in UK and Indian subcontinent. Apart from district/provincial administration, education, healthcare, public works, postal, and railway services employed a large number of British citizens.

3.2.4 Indian social reformers and modernisers like Ram Mohan Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar were leading social movements for modernisation of social life in Bengal presidency and Indian subcontinent. They instigated the EIC officials to initiate some far-reaching programmes to introduce modern education system which emphasized English language compared to vernacular languages and European justice system that blended customary Indian law (on the basis of religious community) with European concepts. But these changes didn’t bring major transformation in village society which was based on caste and religious identity, the position of downtrodden and untouchables, neither agricultural system changed.

The British officials demonstrated much less religious or cultural fanaticism in introducing Christianity and European culture into Indian subcontinent compared to what Spanish and Portuguese colonialists did in South America. Macaulay devised the education policy and its objective as: “It is impossible for us, with our limited means to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population” Thus, the ‘westernisation’ introduced by EIC in Indian subcontinent primarily served their main purposes of

a) creating a class of local professionals who would assist EIC in managing their business (administration of the vast empire itself was part of the business operation) for commercial profit and wealth accumulation in lieu of fat salary that placed them in a separate class

b) switching the loyalty of existing aristocracy (landlords-bankers-merchants-logistics owners etc.) from Mughal governors and Maratha warlords to British Crown by offering them a slice of land revenue as well as business opportunity

A new category of elites were formed who would embrace Western life-style and English medium education. The lifestyle and habits of EIC officials were copied by the new local professional elites (doctors, lawyers, business managers, higher education teachers, and businessmen). This new group of professionals, however, would still bear their caste identity sneakily – most of the new elites would come from Hindu upper castes: Brahman-Vaishya-Kshatriya.

3.2.5 In 1837 postal services was established in the British territory in Indian subcontinent. Network of post offices were established in the principal towns across the provinces. District collectors (of land-tax) coordinated the district post offices. By February 1855 telegraph lines (for paid messages) joined main cities of British India territory – Calcutta, Agra, Bombay, Peshawar, Madras – extending over 3,050 miles and touching 41offices. By 1857, the telegraph network expanded to 4,555 miles of lines and 62 offices.

Contracts were awarded in 1849 to three joint-stock companies to construct a 120-mile railway in Bengal presidency, a 30-mile railway in Bombay presidency, and 39 mile railway in Madras presidency. In 1854, the-then Governor-General Lord Dalhousie prepared a plan to construct a network of railway lines connecting significant regions of India. ‘By the turn of the 20th century, India (Indian subcontinent – author) would have over 28,000 miles of railways connecting most interior regions to the ports of Karachi, Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Chittagong, and Rangoon, and together they would constitute the fourth-largest railway network in the world.’ (Quoted from Wikipedia).

Such infrastructure programme opened avenue for British bankers and investors to invest surplus money in the construction of railways (with a guaranteed minimum profit of 5% by the government). Railways made trading in commodities much easier by providing faster and safer mode of goods transport between ports and internal markets, and also capital inputs like rail-lines, engines, coaches, wagons etc. would create demand for rolling stock industry. Thus it benefited the British businessmen and capitalists tremendously.

Rural infrastructure was not a priority for British rulers – out of about 565,000 villages less than 10,000 were electrified. While network of railways and highways connected the big and medium sized urban centres, most of the villages remained completely isolated.

3.2.6 In 1857, a partially organised rebellion broke out against the British rule, significant participants of which were native soldiers of EIC Army posted in Bengal Presidency and United Provinces, and the common people in United Provinces and Central Provinces. Third most important participants were few of the erstwhile princely states of northern and central regions like Awadh and Jhansi, that were annexed by EIC (ostensibly because rulers had left no heirs for the throne). Not only most of the princely states under ‘Subsidiary Alliance System’ remained in favour of EIC during the battles, but bulk of the native soldiers of EIC Army posted in Bombay Presidency, Madras Presidency, Punjab province also remained aloof from the rebellion. The overwhelming superiority of military machinery-logistics-communication, loyal native troops, and coordinated military strategy of EIC Army against the spontaneous and localised Indian rebellion proved decisive for defeat of the first nationalist struggle by Indians.

3.2.7 In 1858, British Parliament replaced EIC with direct British rule in India. The British crown forged an alliance with the remaining native princes and stopped taking over new territory. As described in previous section 3.1, the corporate state of EIC became a principle pillar of the British economy. From the beginning of 19th century, EIC became a resource base for Britain providing troops and supplies to the state. Also, EIC acted as the agent of British empire throughout west, south and east Asia.

The Company’s demise in 1874 ended the era of the chartered corporation. EIC already played its role as the leading torch-bearer of British colonialism-capitalism-imperialism.

3.3  Agriculture and Land Revenue in British Era

3.3.1 There were three systems of revenue collection in the Indian subcontinent that was directly under EIC rule:

a) In place of complex systems of Mughal (and Maratha) era ownership with intersecting rights and responsibilities of peasant, zamindar/taluqdar/jagirdar, and officials, the Governor-General Cornwallis introduced the English model of land-lordship termed as ‘Permanent Settlement’ in Bengal presidency in March 1793 that targeted fixed revenue £3 million (at 1789 prices) in perpetuity. The new zamindars (often upper caste Hindu employees of EIC, many of whom didn’t have rural background) were given exclusive rights over their lands – ’20 million small landholders were dispossessed of their rights, and handed over, bound hand and foot to the tender mercies of a set of exacting rack-renters’. Forced labour of the peasants by the zamindars became widespread to meet the Company revenue demands. The zamindars were often unable to meet the increased demands that EIC had placed on them – within 3 decades, almost one-third of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa was put up for sale in search of ‘new’ zamindar.

b) Thomas Munro, who was appointed Governor of Madras presidency in May 1820 introduced ‘Ryotwari Settlement’, which was extended to the Bombay presidency also. Political economist John Stuart Mill who was working for EIC in 1857 wrote in a report, “Under the Ryotwari System every registered holder of land is recognised as its proprietor, and pays direct to Government. He is at liberty to sublet his property, or to transfer it by gift, sale, or mortgage. He cannot be ejected by Government so long as he pays the fixed assessment, and has the option annually of increasing or diminishing his holding, or of entirely abandoning it. In unfavourable seasons remissions of assessment are granted for entire or partial loss of produce. The assessment is fixed in money, and does not vary from year to year“. The levy was not based on actual revenues from the produce of the land, but instead on estimate of the production potential of the soil. Traditionally dominant castes mostly acquired land titles, while lower-caste cultivators became their tenants.

c) The ‘Mahalwari Settlement’ system was introduced by Holt Mackenzie and Robert Martins Bird in the states of Punjab, United Provinces, Central Provinces in 1822, and modified in 1833. The settlement was directly made with the village/estate/Mahal by the instruction of the settlement officers (patwari/qanungo), who would fix the annual rent after consulting the ‘lambardar’ (the chief or head of the household or family, usually the eldest male) and the rent payment would be shared by the cultivating peasants. Here, the settlements had neither been with hereditary ‘revenue farmer’ like the zamindars in Bengal presidency nor with the plot-owners like humble cultivators in Madras presidency.

In all areas other than the Bengal Presidency, land settlement work involved a continually repetitive process of surveying and measuring plots, assessing their quality, and recording landed rights, and constituted a large proportion of the work of Indian Civil Service officers working for the government. According to a survey initiated by British government in 1927-28, the distribution of land revenue settlement method was:

  • Rayatwari settlement system – 51%
  • Mahalwari settlement system – 30%
  • Permanent settlement (zamindari) system – 19%

None of the settlement system ever achieved targeted revenue. Often there were several layers of tenancy between the actual cultivator and the ‘land-lord’. The tenant cultivators as well small plot-owners were grinded into distress and poverty by extremely corrupt local and EIC officials as well as excessive state demands. The landless agricultural labourers grew in size to about 15% of rural population at the end of 18th century. British control of India started with a famine in Bengal in 1770 and ended in a famine in 1943 again in Bengal. Working in the midst of the 1877 famine, Cornelius Walford estimated that in the previous 120 years of British rule there had been 34 famines in Indian subcontinent – there could be no better yardstick to measure the adversity brought by the British rule.

After British Crown took over the administration from EIC in 1858, land tax burden was reduced progressively. By the end of the colonial period, in Indian subcontinent the land tax was only 1 per cent of national income – however, most of the benefits of the lower tax burden were appropriated by the landlords and .

3.3.2 Because of the emergence of ‘clear titles’ for cultivation lands, it was now possible to mortgage land. As moneylenders’ importance grew with time, a considerable amount of land changed hands through foreclosures. While the Economists point out that, moneylenders helped to root out imprudent and inefficient landowners, it was equally true that, almost nothing was done by the colonial government to promote agricultural technology, like use of fertilizers. The government however made some arrangements for irrigation.

Increase in population was not matched by increase in cultivated area. United Province was one of the examples. By 1880 the cultivated area of the United Province was calculated at 34 million acres (including double-cropping in about 2.5 million acres). By 1947 with the land carrying a population of 63 million instead of 45 million, the cultivated area had increased only to under 37 million acres (of which over 9 million acres were double-cropped). Scarcity of food almost became a ‘normal’ in British India.

3.4 Industry, Commerce & Economy in British Era

3.4.1 Edmund Burke coined phrase ‘the great drain of India’ which he calculated in 1783 as annual £1.2 million between 1757 and 1780. In India, the drain depressed consumption and savings, while ‘enabling Britain to live beyond its means, to consume, trade and invest at a greater rate than its own internal economy would allow’.

During the rule of EIC, official transfers of funds to Britain rose gradually until they reached about £3.5 million in 1856. During the period of direct British rule after 1858, official transfers were called the ‘Home Charges’ – by the 1930s home charges were in the range of £40 to £50 million each year.

There were substantial private remittances by British officials working in Indian subcontinent – during inter-war period these amounted to about £10 million each year. Apart from those, there were dividend and interest remittances by shipping and banking companies, traders and other investors – most of these commercial transactions were resultant of privileged position of British business in Indian subcontinent.

British India contributed over one million troops for WW I cost of which were financed from Indian budget.

The comparison of real GDP per capita of Britain and Indian subcontinent would be an eye-opener. While GDP per capita of Britain was a direct beneficiary of the imperial colonies and industrial revolution, Indians languished. As per the Maddison Project Database, version 2018, (by Bolt, Jutta, Robert Inklaar, Herman de Jong and Jan Luiten van Zanden), the estimated GDP figures are:

YearReal GDP per capita (in 2011 US $
BritainIndian subcontinent
170015911200
17411712
17812046
18212182968
18613314925
190155721152
1941101161532

3.4.2 Mughal empire (and Maratha domination) not only had a larger industrial output than any other country which became a European colony, but Indian subcontinent was also an industrial exporter in pre-colonial times. The early modern industrial landscape of Indian subcontinent was completely destroyed in course of British rule.

Noted Historian R.C. Dutt argued, “East India Company and the British Parliament, following the selfish commercial policy of a hundred years ago, discouraged Indian manufacturers in the early years of British rule in order to encourage the rising manufactures of England. Their fixed policy, pursued during the last decades of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth, was to make India subservient to the industries of Great Britain, and to make the Indian people grow raw produce only, in order to supply material for the looms and manufactories of Great Britain.”

The main powerhouse of Indian industry was textile. During the period 1896-1913, massive import of cheap textile goods supplied about 60% of cloth consumption in Indian subcontinent, and the proportion was still higher during most of the 19th century. While British goods imported into Indian subcontinent as duty free, excise duty on Indian manufactured products prevented them gaining a market share in Britain. Thus textile sector was pushed to death.

The crafts manufacturing sector had another story to tell. Since the British rule dawned over the subcontinent, consumption of British and European luxury goods became a symbol of social status for the native aristocracy and newly created professionals. Angus Maddison wrote about the demise of crafts industry, “about three-quarters of the domestic demand for luxury handicrafts was destroyed. This was a shattering blow to manufacturers of fine muslins, jewellery, luxury clothing and footwear, decorative swords and weapons.”

3.4.3 Reindustrialisation started with installation of first textile mills in Bombay were in 1851 by Indian capitalists (preceding Japan by 20 years and China by 40 years). In 1896 Indian mills supplied 8% of domestic cloth consumption which gradually increased to 76% in 1945.

First jute mill was built in 1854 in the vicinity of Calcutta by Europeans. Between 1879 and 1913 jute spindles multiplied tenfold. Faster expansion of jute industry was possible because most of jute products was for export. In 1911 first Indian steel mill was built in the-then Bihar (succeeding Japan by 13 years and China by 15 years). Coal mining started in Bengal, output of which reached 15.7 million tons by 1914.

Around 1945-46, large-scale manufacturing industry in Indian subcontinent employed less than 3 million people as compared with 12 million in small-scale industry and handicrafts, while total labour force was around 160 million. British policy permitted the emergence of a small but wealthy class of Indian entrepreneurs based in Calcutta, Bombay and Ahmedabad. At independence, exports were less than 5% of national income, probably worst among all Asian countries.

3.4.4 After EIC’s trade monopoly privileges were withdrawn in 1833, the former British employees of EIC set up ‘managing agencies’ to operate most of the industrial enterprises and international trade in Indian subcontinent. Those agencies were closely linked with British and European finance and shipping lines. The agencies got commissions from the enterprise-owners/investors based on sales and/or profits.

3.5 Demography & Occupation in British Era

In 1881, British government conducted first synchronous decennial census. Due to ongoing WW II accuracy of the 1941 census is debated. The 1931 census is considered last accurate British-administered census in Indian subcontinent (including Burma/Myanmar but excluding Portuguese Goa and French Pondicherry).

3.5.1 The population as per 1931 census reached 352,837,778 from 253,896,330 according to census in 1881. The total literate population of Indian subcontinent in 1931 was 28,131,315 (i.e. 8%) – with 12% literacy, the figure improved a bit by 1947. The urban population in 1931 was around 38,985,427 i.e. 11%.

Number of working people (including working dependent) in Indian subcontinent as per 1931 census was 153,916,050 (male 105,086,333 and female 48,829,717) – that signify less than 44% of total population was employed. While most of the males aged under 10 and over 60 form the bulk of non-working dependants, most of the males belonging to the age group 20 – 60 were working people. As per 1931 census, out of every 10,000 persons of Indian subcontinent (including Myanmar but excluding Portuguese Goa and French Pondicherry):

  • Non-working dependants – 5609
  • Working people (including working dependent) – 4391…. Out of which, significant occupations:
    • Cultivation of general crops – 2766
    • Cultivation of special crops – 47
    • Stock-raising – 100
    • Fishing & Hunting – 24
    • Exploitation of minerals – 10
    • Textile Industry – 117
    • Industries of dress and ‘the toilet’ (toiletries?) – 96
    • Food Industries – 42
    • All other Industries (including construction) – 183
    • Transport – 67
    • Trade in foodstuff materials – 110
    • All other Trades – 116
    • Military force & Police – 24
    • Public Administration – 28
    • Professions & Liberal Arts – 66
    • Domestic service – 311
    • Insufficiently described occupation
    • (Services in unorganised sectors) – 222
    • Unproductive (like jail inmate, beggar etc.) – 46

Hence, 64% of working people were engaged in cultivation, and 12% of working people were engaged in unorganised sectors like domestic services and service to miscellaneous establishments. The 1931 census laid bare the reality of relationship among agriculture-industry-occupation in British India better than any scholarly article and book – Indian subcontinent and Burma in the early 20th century were backward pre-modern economies.

A break-up of ‘Cultivation of general crops’ occupation is a pointer on how the agriculture sector accommodated employment among such huge work force in rural Indian subcontinent:

  • Non-cultivating proprietors taking rent – 3.36%
  • Cultivating owners – 27.85%
  • Tenant cultivators – 35.24%
  • Agricultural (landless) labourers – 32.46%
  • Cultivators of jhum, and shifting areas – 0.85%

The big landlords/zamindars were largely parasitic and would spend their time and money for extravaganza. The smaller landowner’s ambition was to stop working and enhance social status based on return from agricultural labourers toil. At the bottom of social structure in villages, condition of tenant cultivators and landless labourers (mostly lower caste Hindu, except in Bengal where majority were Muslim and Punjab-Sind where majority were Muslim and Sikh) remained wretched. Extreme level of poverty was quite common for those tenant cultivators and agricultural labours i.e. about 68% of all families who were involved in cultivation.

In urban areas, occupation in industry, transport, trade, public administration etc., though limited, helped creating new westernized ‘middle class’ Indians (educated in western education institutions). Here also, the upper caste Hindus seized the opportunity though the Parsis and Sikhs also did well.

3.5.2 The census since 1881 opened another Pandora’s Box. The fault lines between aristocratic upper caste wealthy Hindu families and aristocratic Turkic-Afghani wealthy Muslim families (which existed since 1192 CE when Turkic-Afghani rulers established empire in north-west, north, and east regions of Indian subcontinent by defeating local Hindu rulers of dozens of kingdoms) developed into deep chasm. For large section of aristocratic Hindu elites, their ancestral land was steadily being ‘usurped’ by Muslim foreigners, which was ‘substantiated’ by census data:

  • In 1931, Hindu population was 239,195,000 (proportion of population in 1931 became 68.24% from 74.32% in 1881)
  • In 1931, Muslim population was 77,678,000 (proportion of population in 1931 became 22.16% from 19.74% in 1881)

The reality was/is that, the majority of Muslims in Indian subcontinent were not foreigners, they were/are local converts (with much higher birth rate in the community).

3.6  Political Movement for Independence from British Rule

Three acts passed by British Parliament paved way for Indian natives to take part in the process of governance at province and central level: Indian Councils Act 1909 (known as Morley-Minto Reforms), Government of India Act 1919 (called as Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms), and Government of India Act 1935.

The last one authorised establishment of the ‘Federal Legislature’ at the centre and the ‘Provincial Legislature’ at the provinces. Legislative assemblies in all provinces of British India had seat distribution based on religion-race-caste-occupation of the electorate – a voter could cast a vote only for candidates in his/her own category.

Central parliament combining British India and princely states was blocked by the rulers of the princely states

3.6.1 Starting from 1870s, political movements started taking shape in Indian subcontinent. Contrary to popular belief of M K Gandhi and his team vs. British rule that was promoted by Anglo historians as well as a large section of Indian historians, there were wide range of socio-political movements based on different beliefs and ideologies. Significant ones were:

Indian National Congress – moderate (wing) members were primarily the founders of founder of the party that believed in gradual reformation of British rule in Indian subcontinent without pushing for political independence; most of the leaders were from upper caste Hindu and some members from Muslim and Parsi communities, with background of western education and professionals by occupation; they were non-communal in outlook and believed in European style of secular society

  • Indian National Congress – ultra-nationalist (wing) members were relatively younger generation leaders who believed in continuous agitation for self-rule replacing British rule in Indian subcontinent; most of the leaders were from upper caste Hindu, with background of western education and professionals by occupation; they believed Hindu society should be the future in Indian subcontinent
  • Indian National Congress – democratic unionist (wing) members finally wrested control of the party under leadership of M K Gandhi who believed in opportunity-based mass movements for self-rule replacing British rule in Indian subcontinent; most of the leaders were from upper caste Hindu, and some members from Muslim community, with western education and by occupation professionals, businessmen and landlords; mostly they believed each community in subcontinent should be free to live in their own way within European model of governance; a small but vocal group led by Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose was influenced by Socialist thoughts
  • All India Muslim League – unionist (wing) members were relatively conservative elites who believed in collaboration with British rule in Indian subcontinent; they believed Muslim society should coexist along with Hindu society in future subcontinent with Muslim-dominated provinces separated from Hindu-dominated ones
  • All India Muslim League – separatist (wing) members were mostly from aristocratic society and were more vocal about the necessity of separate country for Muslim and Hindu population as they believed Muslim religion is a way of life completely incompatible with Hindu way of life and society; they believed in collaboration with British rule in Indian subcontinent
  • Hindu Mahasabha members were almost Hindu version of Muslim League – separatist (wing) who wished either separate country for Hindu and Muslim population due to completely different philosophy of life and society, or single country with Hindu majority in governance and no special treatment like ‘community-wise reservation’ for Muslims; they also believed in collaboration with British rule in Indian subcontinent
  • Communist Party of India members were mostly from upper caste Hindu, and some members from Muslim community, with background of western education; they believed each community in Indian subcontinent should be free to live in their own way within a communist society in Indian subcontinent; Communists’ emphasis on economic status that completely ignored or bypassed the religious perspective and caste system, made limited appeal in Indian subcontinent
  • Armed revolution was another type of movement to which educated middle class youths were drawn into; primarily a phenomenon in Bengal presidency, Punjab province, and Bombay presidency the revolutionaries depended on terrorist attacks on British officials; couple of large-scale uprising across Indian subcontinent was thwarted by British government
  • Backward caste movement was primarily led by Dr. B R Ambedkar to emphasize social equality of the lower caste Hindu population; they became ally of Indian National Congress – democratic unionist after agreement on reservation for depressed/backward castes in legislature assembly (proposed under Government of India Act 1935); primarily it was restricted in Bombay presidency, Central province, and Madras presidency among the educated lower caste Hindu

3.6.2 The largest among the political streams, Indian National Congress (INC) was not organized as a Hindu party, but due to the large difference in level of western education between Muslims and Hindus, elite Hindus made up the majority of the INC leadership since its inception. INC demands for competitive examinations for entry in the civil service and academic institution riled the Muslim elites/leaders, as they felt that would favour the Hindus since Muslims were lagging behind in western education. Also, Hindu leaders of the INC would not give sincere assurance to Muslim leaders about community-wise representation in future governance system. In the absence of mutual trust between educated elites of two communities, elite Muslim leaders from United Province and Bengal floated All India Muslim League (AIML) to represent interests of the Muslim community.

3.6.3 The political atmosphere between 1935 and 1947 was a triumph of personalities and their political ambitions over ideology – it was the most tragic period in the history of Indian subcontinent. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, one of the most secular AIML politician who always sought communal harmony, became ardent supporter of two-nation theory (separate independent countries for Muslim and Hindu communities) because partition would guarantee fulfilment of his political ambitions. Jawaharlal Nehru, a socialist and an impeccable believer in Hindu-Muslim unity, became supporter of partition because that would create the opportunity for him to preside over the Hindu part without political competition from Jinnah. Subhas Chandra Bose, a socialist who first initiated deliberations on Indian economy considering Soviet model of economic planning, with his ambition to preside over an undivided subcontinent, went out of India, and opened a battle front with the help from Japanese fascists in the north-east of Indian subcontinent to fight the British power during WW II.

While Nehru and Jinnah along with their close circle of elites and aristocrats of Hindu and Muslim communities lorded over the newly independent entities of India and Pakistan, the common people of the subcontinent bore the brunt of the unplanned and illogical partition happily assisted by the British power (who worked overtime to create a permanently feuding subcontinent). M K Gandhi failed to rise to the occasion and was relegated to the side-lines, he would be assassinated in India after independence by a terrorist who was a Hindutwa fundamentalist.

3.7  Significant observations on British Rule

3.7.1 Between 1755 and 1765, the giants of trade and finance of the-then Bengal conspired with the English EIC top officials to remove the-then ruler of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa (the region that earned maximum revenue in Mughal empire). It was modern world’s most spectacular corporate conspiracy. French historian Fernand Braudel concluded that the EIC’s rise to prominence only came about with the “help, collaboration, collusion, coexistence, symbiosis” of the local merchant elite.

Once the EIC corporate juggernaut was set rolling, it first crushed the Indian traders and financers to establish monopoly over export from and import into Indian subcontinent, then it transformed into corporate-state to plunder the subcontinent, finally it destroyed the local crafts and industry by duty-free imports into the subcontinent. The EIC’s demise in 1874 ended the era of the chartered corporation. The leviathan of mercantile capitalism was no longer suited to the new empire of colonies that Britain was establishing across the globe for sourcing of raw material and selling of finished goods produced in its factories as an outcome of industrial capitalism.

3.7.2 It won’t be truthful to put entire blame on the British rulers for the abysmal poverty of the common people. Two categories of elites were equally responsible for such poor state of affairs: (a) the rulers and bureaucrats of princely states ruling over 40% of subcontinent, who were, by and large oblivious to unemployment and poverty, (b) the local politicians and bureaucrats of British ruled 60% of subcontinent, who were more mindful to seek prestige and wealth than to influence the British decision-makers for benefit of common people.

Karl Marx summed up British rule as the tool of Britain’s elites-aristocrats-oligarchs, “the aristocracy wanted to conquer it, the moneyocracy to plunder it and the millocracy to undersell it”. Marx, however, didn’t notice that most of the elites and aristocrats of Indian subcontinent (Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Jain alike) were complicit in the crime – only few patriotic aristocrats put up resistance to British rule.

3.7.3 The partition of Indian subcontinent was most irrational decision agreed by INC under pressure from AIML under continuous ‘guidance’ from British imperialists, fostering the following irregularities during the partition:

(a) AIML got 425 seats in the election to Provincial Legislative Assemblies in 1946 for which AIML chose its main election plank as separate country for Muslims; apart from the provinces in north-west and east regions which were to be affected by partition, AIML got substantial number of seats from other provinces: Madras presidency (29), Bombay presidency (30), United Province (54), Bihar (34), Central Province (13) – why neither British rulers nor INC-AIML parties arranged for mass migration of Muslim community to Pakistan as wished by those constituencies?

(b) For the princely states, there was no process of considering the choice of common people for inclusion in either of the newly independent political entities – the ruler of the princely state was authorised to sign documents of accession; Hyderabad Nizam ruling over 82,698 sq. mile land with majority of population as Hindu wanted to join Pakistan, but army of independent India forced him to join India, while Jammu & Kashmir king ruling over 84,516 sq. mile territory (though China never accepted boundary drawn by British officers) with predominantly Muslim population signed to join India, but militia of independent Pakistan occupied major portion of the princely state – why neither British rulers nor INC-AIML parties settled such well-known problem areas across the subcontinent and did an orderly transition?

4.  India From 1947 To 2014 – Socio-Political Landscape

Newly independent India faced enormous humanitarian crisis due to chaotic partition of the subcontinent that resulted in inter-religious violence as well as displacement of millions of people. Post-partitioned Indian part of the subcontinent witnessed two variants of political economy followed by the mainstream political parties – social democracy during the period August’1947 to May’1991, and neoliberal oligarchy from June’1991 onwards. A brief recapitulation of the social democratic era is noted below:

4.1  Politics during Social Democracy: 1947 to 1991

Immediately after the independence, between 1947 and 1949 India was bogged down with exchange of population with Pakistan on massive scale, integration of princely states, and war with Pakistan over Jammu & Kashmir. On 26 January 1950 India became a democratic republic with adoption of the Constitution of India (with strong provisions for Fundamental Rights of the citizens) which guaranteed a federal structure of governance in the country.

4.1.1 Most of the pundits on India miss the most important political reorganisation that happened in independent India since 1950. About 10 British era provinces and more than 500 princely statelets had been reorganised into Indian provinces (called as ‘state’) on the basis of language and cultural identity – the process continued till couple of years back resulting in 29 self-ruled states and 9 centre-ruled territories. By this process, the immense diversity of India has been acknowledged by the political leadership of the country.

Supportive Map :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_integration_of_India#/media/File:India_Administrative_Divisions_1951.svg

4.1.2 INC remained the most important mainstream party that professed socialism, but in reality the policies were that of a social democratic party. Soon after the independence, the existing support base in rural and urban areas expanded – however, party didn’t notice or simple didn’t care that, instead of more people from poor and backward families filling up the grass-root leadership, the wealthy and well-established families filled the leadership layers from grass-root up to province. Slowly but steadily INC became a training centre for grooming leaders – whenever any non-Marxist party would offer to disgruntled INC leaders a position in their political hierarchy that is more lucrative than existing position, the leaders from INC would join them. Hailing from mainly aristocrat/ elite families, they had no qualms for changing party as long as that improve their prestige and power.

Socialist Party and its offshoot, Praja Socialist Party were political outfits of non-Marxist socialist leaders of India who wanted to blend M K Gandhi’s thoughts and modern socialist thoughts on industrial civilization with Indian traditions. After two decades of existence the ideological influence waned at the central elections since the beginning of 1970s primarily because INC became rallying point for most of the socialist-minded workers (and a section of communists also). But various splinters groups of Socialist Party remained a force to reckon with in few of the Indian states particularly in state elections.

Communist Party of India was a well-known force in the-then Indian politics with its limited but committed mass base in rural areas and industrial belts – the turmoil in global communist movement resulting from the clash of CPSU and CPC took its toll in India (as it did in every country of Asia-Africa-South America continents). A splinter group of Indian communists came to power in couple of Indian states during this period – in fact the government formed by Communists in Kerala province was world’s first elected communist government.

Bharatiya Jan Sangh (latter became Bharatiya Janata Party) was established as rightist political wing of Hindu revivalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Hindu Mahasabha leaders became the backbone of Bharatiya Jan Sangh. The socio-cultural propaganda by RSS and Hindu Mahasabha has been to relentlessly spread the message of perceived ‘superiority’ of Hindutwa (similar to any right conservative outfit) through its dozens of social wings. The essence of the campaign not only by RSS during its existence for about 100 years, but also by its progenies like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political wing, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing, can be summed up as below:

  • Aryan Hindu community has been living in Indian subcontinent perpetually since dawn of humanity,
  • Veda scriptures directly originated from Almighty God,
  • Veda is the storage of all significant knowledge in and about the universe,
  • Sanskrit has been the script of Hindu community since dawn of civilization in Indian subcontinent,
  • Caste system with Brahmans as ‘prime mover’ is way for socio-economic progress of Hindu society
  • Indian subcontinent is de facto Indian nation which is the ‘ancient Hindu nation’.

Swatantra Party was established by the right ideologues of INC and few of the royal family members from erstwhile princely states, who were peeved with Nehru’s leftist ideals and promotion of public sector economy. After a decade or so the party’s influence declined dramatically.

Indian Union Muslim League was established by Muslim elites after partition of India. The party represents religious conservatism in Muslim society of India. However, as a matter of fact, Muslim community in different provinces generally voted en bloc in favour of either INC or some strong regional party.

Apart from above mentioned political parties at the national level, there were a dozen of regional political outfits (based on language and caste based politics) which were more or less social democrats in policies. A significant point that should be mentioned here pertains to the conduct of the political parties vis-à-vis their professed ideology – during this period, all significant leaders and their parties not only would chalk out their policies and programs in line with their avowed ideology, but they would also try to implement those programmes if voted to power. It would be another issue that most of the time, such implementations would go haywire.

4.1.3 INC ruled at the centre for most of this period with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister from August 1947 to May 1964, Indira Gandhi from January 1966 to March 1977 as well as from January 1980 to October 1984, and Rajiv Gandhi from October 1984 to December 1989. Apart from these 3 leaders, few other leaders associated with INC at different point of time came to power at centre for very short duration, mainly through coalition politics at centre.

In 1975, Indira Gandhi advised the President to declare a country-wide emergency that allowed the central government to assume sweeping powers and suspend civil liberties in states. Due to the unpopularity of emergency, Indira Gandhi lost 1977 general elections where ex-INC senior leaders played crucial role in creating Janata Party piecing together many opposition parties.

Two of the Prime Ministers were assassinated in this period – Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Though Indians hardly engage in conspiracy theories about these assassinations, a thorough analysis of cui bono might point out towards involvement of anti-Soviet Union world order and Deep State in removing both leaders, so that in absence of pro-Soviet leaders from Nehru-Gandhi family, India can be easily drawn into USA-oriented world order.

4.1.4 Nehru’s foreign policy was centred on Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of which India was a co-founder. But, Nehru secretly worked with CIA for keeping religious disturbances alive in Tibet, and provided logistics and moral support to Dalai Lama who was resisting the attempt of government of China to establish the rule of law in Tibet province of China. Indira Gandhi continued the NAM policy of her father, but practically steered India towards USSR camp (during Bangladesh liberation war Soviet support was instrumental) in order to safeguard country’s interests in international arena, to deter USA Navy approaching India and Bangladesh coast.

India fought 2 wars with Pakistan over Jammu & Kashmir, and a third war with Pakistan to help East Pakistan (Bangladesh) get separated from West Pakistan. A brief border war with China was fought. Sikkim was annexed as a state within Indian republic. India deployed troops for peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict during Rajiv Gandhi’s leadership – next government withdrew the troops when they became entangled in fighting the Tamil rebels itself.

During Indira Gandhi’s tenure in 1975 Sikkim was integrated with India as a province. Sikkim used to be protectorate of India after 1947. Though there had been criticism internationally as ‘annexation’ by India, the anti-monarchy movement within Sikkim was a key factor behind the willingness of Sikkim’s politicians for getting integrated with India.

4.2  Politics during Neoliberal Oligarchy: 1991 to 2014

Even during the neoliberal era, there was/is still an important differentiation among mainstream non-Marxist parties which related to the party’s close identification with some communities demarcated on the basis of religion/ caste/language/region etc. (as against Marxist parties who try to identify with livelihood/income class) – it was/is also called ‘vote bank’ politics. While mainstream national party like INC profess secular policies, it had no qualms to promote medieval culture of divorce within Muslim communities (where husbands summarily divorce wife without alimony, particularly in low-income households) to keep their Muslim vote bank undisturbed. Overall, INC maintained lip service to the concepts of constitution of India (where 4 different ethno-genetic groups, 15+ major languages and close to 100 minor languages, 5 major religions have been cohabiting for millennium). On the other hand, mainstream national party like BJP professes extreme religious intolerance to polarise majority Hindu voters and create a vote bank. This party was proud to demolish a medieval historical mosque which would have been treated as a serious offence against archaeological heritage in any modern country! BJP’s parent RSS popularised their slogan of Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan which delegitimise equal treatment of other religions other than Hindutwa and other languages except Hindi.

4.2.1 Indian National Congress (INC), the most important mainstream party, transformed itself into a neoliberal democratic party after killing of Rajiv Gandhi. The entire party machinery and leadership positions were grabbed by the so-called ‘realist-cum-pragmatist’ camp through a ‘seize from within’ campaign by the elites-businessmen-landlords-technocrats. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh led the transformation of INC into neoliberal fantasy-land after INC won elections at centre in 1991. The media and academia (which till 1991 used to paint a social democratic façade of INC) went full steam ahead to preach on benefits of the so-called LPG (liberalisation-privatisation-globalisation) regime introduced by Rao-Singh duo. I will come back to the so-called economic benefits in the next section, section 5. The semblance of social democratic ideology got eroded so much within a span of 23 years that, during the general election in 2014 INC couldn’t escape from being branded as party of ‘crony capitalists’.

The neoliberal oligarchy period has been the golden period for RSS and BJP-BMS-ABVP – RSS spread its wings unchallenged during this period. With INC openly promoting economy and governance away from the political philosophy of ‘welfare state’, a right conservative institution like BJP promoted by Hindu upper caste landlords and businessmen had no problem in catching wind in their sails. Standing on the ‘solid’ bedrock of Hindutwa socio-cultural propaganda by RSS across India, BJP planned a political movement based on Hindutwa and implemented the plan – (a) Babri Masjid (in UP province) demolition by RSS-BJP workers was carried out in December 1992, and (b) Godhra (in Gujarat province) train-burning (BJP alleged that Muslim community burnt the train, but officially reason couldn’t be ascertained) in February 2002. Both the ‘main incidents’ were followed by religious riots across India (during which most of the attacks were by Hindu fundamentalists). Such gruesome carnage took place when the neoliberal politicians from both INC and BJP were ruling at centre and/or state. BJP’s message for political manipulation was simple, which at one hand, created a sense of deep insecurity among common Hindu (majority) population, and at the other hand, the same population was offered relief from such ‘insecurity’ if they chose BJP.

Communist Party of India and its splinter groups squandered its limited mass base but wide appeal among the middle class sympathisers, due to both internal and external reasons – (a) dissolution of CPSU and Soviet Union, and adoption of capitalist market economy by CPC were portrayed in Indian media and academia as ‘proof of failure of communism’; Communist parties in India couldn’t effectively counter such nonsense, (b) dozens of splinter groups of Communist parties were mired in politicking which lacked consolidated plan and programme across the country, Communist parties in India couldn’t effectively unite and make a single plan of action during past six decades, (c) attitude of ‘intellectualism’ among the senior leadership simultaneously with ‘careerism’ of the junior apparatchiks deflected the Communists from their main strength – strength of Marxist humanitarianism. The different splinter groups of Indian communists have been drifting aimlessly (generally their aim has been to get voted into power in a province through election).

During this period, the regional parties regrouped with social democracy as their declared ideology – in fact, such parties filled in the vacuum created by withdrawal of INC from its old ideological base. There has been three kinds of such regional parties all of which revolve around cult of personality:

  • Backward caste and/or minority language based political parties in few provinces
  • Breakaway splinter groups of INC in few provinces, where province-level INC leaders were charismatic
  • Erstwhile junior leaders of now-defunct non-Marxist Socialist Party created new entity through mergers/demergers

4.2.2 INC ruled at the centre for most of this period with Narasimha Rao as Prime Minister from June 1991 to May 1996, Manmohan Singh from May 2004 to May 2014. BJP ruled for significant period with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister from March 1998 to May 2004. Apart from these 3 leaders, few other leaders associated with different regional parties came to power at centre for very short duration through coalition politics at centre.

During this period of neoliberal oligarchy, the national bourgeoisie allied with the comprador bourgeoisie and influenced political programmes and economic liberalisation carried out by both INC and BJP. Substantial amount of foreign investment had been registered during this period, and Indian industrialists-traders-bankers happily collaborated with MNCs and vied for such FDI. In fact, an in-depth survey shows that, economic policy-wise there was no distinction between INC and BJP – both work tirelessly so that the top 1% of Indian population can amass wealth and power, and the fruits of economic growth gets shared by the next 9% population (as managers and implementers of all policies). The deep divide between INC’s secular socio-cultural platform and BJP’s Hindutwa socio-cultural base vanished when it came to economic liberalisation and westernisation assisted by capital from Zionist-Capitalist global oligarchy. It was only the style of election campaign that still demarcated them. Thus it is no wonder that, during past 7 years when Narendra Modi became crowd-puller for BJP’s campaign, hundreds of seasoned politicians of INC across India joined BJP for contesting elections at province and at centre.

4.2.3 The objectives of foreign policy was/is a peaceful global and regional environment in which Indian economy can grow as well as food security, water security and energy security are maintained. Along with the changing landscape of economic policies, Indian foreign policy also went for a makeover.

4.2.3.1 Background of Jammu & Kashmir Problem – All along, the main focus of Indian foreign policy has been the northern province/state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) which was/is the intersection of border disputes with both Pakistan and China. Fact remains that, it was the imperialist British power which created border problems in 1947 through a messy partition. British lawyer Cyril Radcliffe demarcated the so-called border in 1947 between India and Pakistan from the provinces/regions that were directly administered by the-then British government. British government neither issued notification on integration of the individual 550+ princely states with India or Pakistan (except those regions that would basically create the entity of Pakistan) nor arranged uniform procedures for general people of the princely states to choose between India and Pakistan. Even though in 1947 Dogra king signed accession document on behalf of J&K princely state with India government, Pakistan and China didn’t accept the legality, hence J&K became a permanent source of conflict between India and Pakistan as well as India and China:

  • India government controls more than half of the erstwhile J&K Dogra kingdom – part of Kashmir region, entire Jammu region, larger part of Ladakh region. India demands that Pakistan and China cede their control from all regions that were part of erstwhile Dogra kingdom of J&K
  • Pakistan government controls part of Kashmir region, entire Gilgit region, entire Baltistan region. Pakistan ceded a small part of Baltistan to China in mid-1960s. Pakistan further demands entire Kashmir region from India
  • China controls entire Aksai Chin region. China further demands part of Ladakh region from India

It wouldn’t be out of context to mention that, on behalf of princely state J&K, British government maintained foreign relations with Tibet kingdom (a protectorate of China) and Chinese empire, between 1857 and 1947. During this period, British government proposed boundary line between princely state of J&K and Tibet twice, namely Ardagh–Johnson Line in 1860s and Macartney–MacDonald Line in 1899. Chinese government didn’t sent formal acceptance to British government in either of the cases, but 1912 onwards with removal of Qing dynasty, Chinese government always denied the boundary demarcation proposed by British government. Upon independence in 1947, Indian government fixed official boundary that resembled Ardagh–Johnson Line (hence included Aksai Chin region), which was denied by China earlier.

4.2.3.2 Background of Arunachal Pradesh Problem – Border dispute with China has a second dimension in India’s north-east province/state of Arunachal Pradesh (earlier called as North-East Frontier Agency). British administrator Henry McMahon proposed the McMahon Line as the demarcation line between Tibet kingdom and the-then north-east region of British India at the 1914 Simla Convention signed between British and Tibetan representatives. Chinese government didn’t accept the legal status of McMahon Line because Tibet was a tributary state of China while Arunachal Pradesh was southern territory of Tibet.

India controls the Arunachal Pradesh region as per the McMahon Line border. During 1962 war, though China crossed the McMahon Line border and came southwards, soon Chinese troops were withdrawn to positions north of the disputed McMahon border line.

4.2.3.3 Possible Options of Solution to Border Problems – Till 2014, there could be only two options of solution to border problem vis-à-vis Pakistan and China. Best option entailed that all three countries meet in a conference in presence of UNO, discuss heart-to-heart and make adjustments with each other’s standpoint, and legalise the current line of actual control (LAC) with minor adjustment/accommodation as the de facto and de jure border demarcation. The other alternate option was that India or any country which felt aggrieved, would mobilise massive military forces to capture as much land as it wish and unilaterally try to redefine the border, in case the country wins the war against the adversary – but there would have been a gigantic cost to achieve such ‘success’ and sustain it, because all three countries developed strong conventional military power as well as semi-advanced capabilities of nuclear war.

4.2.3.4 After dissolution of Soviet Union, in order to adjust foreign policy to the unipolar world order dominated by USA, in 1992 the-then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao upgraded India’s diplomatic relations with Israel to ambassador level. Trade and investment were given a higher priority while building relations with USA, EU, ASEAN and China. Though relation with USA government temporarily went south after Vajpayee government conducted a series of underground nuclear tests in 1998, soon Vajpayee visited the USA and proclaimed that India and USA are ‘natural allies’. Manmohan Singh government pushed through the India-USA Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2006. In a major policy shift, India started rapidly moving away from Russian armaments and military technology and bring in USA and Israel as key suppliers for military hardware.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (also known as the Quad) forum was initiated in 2007 by Shinzo Abe of Japan, Dick Cheney of USA, John Howard of Australia and Manmohan Singh of India. Quad maintains summits, and military drills among member countries. India government also signed defence cooperation agreement with USA.

4.3  People and Society: 1947 to 2014

4.3.1 Indian society is highly diverse with hundreds (or thousands) of ethnic, linguistic, and caste groups as well as dozens of religious, and regional groups. On top of that, the differences on the basis of urban-rural and gender play crucial role. However, amid such differences and complexities of Indian society, there exist few socio-cultural themes that unify the social order even if that fail to bring social harmony. Across different ethnicities-religions-languages in India, a ‘male-dominated family’ is common basic building block of the society. In rural areas and semi-urban areas resources like land, building, or business are generally controlled by male members (even if legislation allows all Indian women to inherit real estate property). Traditionally women have control over precious stone and jewellery. However, as modern education has been making inroads into the society, male-dominated society is fading away slowly.

The other socio-cultural theme that ‘unite’ Indian society was/is ‘hierarchy of Caste’ – the people were/are grouped by birth, named and brought-up within caste based ‘entitlements’, forced into endogamous (in-marrying) groups, and employed within caste based ‘occupations’. As per old Hindu caste system, there were/are thousands of castes and sub-castes in India, where hierarchy-wise Brahmans are top ranking, Kshatriya-Vaishya-Kayastha groups are second tier, Shudra groups are third tier, while tribes (forest dwellers) are social outcasts. Indian Constitution identified 1,108 scheduled castes (SC, the Shudra) and 744 scheduled tribes (ST, the Forest dweller), and provided special reservation for higher education and government services which brought new hope for those marginal people (however, those benefits were/are more often than not cornered by a tiny section of SC and ST communities; in many crucial areas like medicine and scientific research such reservations had/has detrimental effects as well). With modern (western) education and government policies, in urban areas, the caste system is less divisive than 50 years ago. Rural India still has not only hierarchical caste system among Hindu population, but Muslim and Christian societies are also infected by the disease of caste system.

4.3.2 The key statistics related to total population, rural-urban divide, backward castes (scheduled castes and scheduled tribes), literacy, linguistic groups, religious groups as per census are given below (figures in million):

Data Element1971 census1991 census2011 census
Total Population (million)548.159838.5841210.854
Rural (as percentage of total)80.09%74.27%68.86%
Urban (as percentage of total)19.91%25.73%31.14%
Literate population (million)161.415359.324763.638
Average Life Expectancy at Birth (Years)45.658.767.0
Scheduled Castes population (million)[as percentage of total population]79.092[14.43%]138.223[16.50%]201.378[16.63%]
Scheduled Tribes population (million)[as percentage of total population]36.408[6.64%]67.758[8.08%]104.545[8.63%]
Literate – informal and below primary9.63%10.80%15.03%
Literate – primary and middle schooling15.84%21.27%26.26%
Literate – matriculate3.23%5.65%8.75%
Literate – intermediate and diplomaLess than 0.1%2.40%6.53%
Literate – technical diplomaLess than 0.1%0.26%0.60%
Literate – graduate and above0.60%2.46%5.64%
Illiterate70.55%57.15%36.93%
Population by religion – Hindu82.72%82.00%79.80%
Population by religion – Muslim11.20%12.11%14.23%
Population by religion – Christian2.59%2.34%2.30%
Population by religion – Sikh1.89%1.94%1.72%
Population by religion – Others1.60%1.61%1.73%
Population by language – Hindi36.99%39.29%43.63%
Population by language – Bengali8.17%8.30%8.03%
Population by language – Marathi7.62%7.45%6.86%
Population by language – Telugu8.16%7.87%6.70%
Population by language – Tamil6.88%6.32%5.70%
Population by language – Others32.18%30.77%29.08%

The significant inferences that can be drawn from the above statistics are:

  • Population of India (361.088 million in 1951) grew unrestrained over the decades to reach 1210.854 million in 2011. In 2011, Total Households 249.454 million and Average Population per Household was 4.85. Yearly growth rate of population peaked during 1973 to 1983 period when it hovered around 2.31% to 2.36%. Since then the rate has been slowly declining to 1.04% in 2018 (when population reached 1350 million). However, unevenness exist – on the basis of language, ‘Hindi’-speaking population in north, central, and east India show rise in share of total population, on the basis of religion, ‘Muslim’ community across India show rise in share of total population, on the basis of caste, SC and ST communities demonstrate marginal rise in share of total population.

Vast population was/is one of the key factors behind a multitude of socio-economic problems that has been afflicting the country since independence (because India has limited arable land and face scarcity of resources). However, massive population is not the only problem in India – institutionalised exploitation is even bigger problem.

  • Urbanisation has been increasing, but not as rapidly as government expected after policy changes in 1991. Also, in most of the tier-2 and tier-3 urban areas, management of basic civil amenities remain poor.
  • Life expectancy at birth has steadily increased over the decades, but standard of healthcare facilities vary widely across regions – while south and west regions are better than average north and east regions have below average healthcare facilities.
  • Indian government registered appalling performance in promoting literacy. Not only 37% of the population remained illiterate in 2011, but also less than 22% of the population were ‘employable’ who have academic qualification of matriculate and above. That signifies a whopping 41% of the population were ‘converted’ into literates by the over-zealous government officials of Education ministry (through luring the children into primary schools by arranging mid-day meals, who would drop out as soon as they become teenager to search any unskilled employment opportunity as a ‘child labour’).

Unless the children complete at least 10 years of formal education and clear matriculate, meaningful employment was/is not possible in a 21st century economy – overall productivity of labour as a crucial component of national economy remains a pipe dream.

5.  India From 1947 To 2014 – Economic Landscape

At the time of independence, Indian economy was mainly dependent on agricultural. Prime Minister Nehru’s development model envisaged a dominant role of the state, Industrial Policy Resolution of 1948 proposed a mixed economy of private-owned and state-owned enterprises. Narasimha Rao initiated the process of economic liberalisation and reform in 1991 which opened the Indian economy to global capitalist world order.

5.1  Economic Planning during Social Democracy: 1947 to 1991

Prime Minister Nehru and Professor Mahalanobis were the chief architects of planned economy in post-independence India. INC set the objective of Indian development strategy as to establish a society with self-reliance and socio-economic justice for all citizens as given in the constitution. Government set up the Planning Commission in 1950 to coordinate the entire economic planning, resource allocation, implementation and appraisal of five-year plans (basically modelled after Soviet planning system). The industrial policy reserved 17 industrial sub-sectors like Atomic Energy, Defence, Iron and Steel, Heavy Machinery, Coal, Petroleum, Electricity, Railways, Airlines, and Telecommunication etc. for the state-owned enterprises.

India’s first five-year plan (1951 – 1956) was focused on development of primary sector of the economy – agriculture and allied areas, power. The total planned budget of Rupees 23.78 billion was allocated as: irrigation and power generation (27.2%), agriculture and community development (17.4%), transport (24%), industry (8.4%), social services (16.6%), rehabilitation of landless farmers (4.1%), and for other sectors and services (2.5%). The target growth rate was 2.1% annual GDP growth; achieved growth rate was 3.6%.

India’s second five-year plan (1956 – 1961) was focused on development of industrial sector of the economy – primarily through state-owned industries especially in heavy industries and capital goods. The total budget was Rupees 48 billion was allocated to two broad sectors: industry and agriculture. Applying statistical models of Professor P C Mahalanobis the plan attempted to allocate investment between productive sectors in order to maximise long-run economic growth. The target growth rate was 4.5% and 4.27% was achieved.

The third five-year plan (1961 – 1966) put focus back on agriculture. But the conflicts with China in 1962 and with Pakistan in 1965 shifted the focus towards defence industry and military. On top of that there was severe drought in 1965. State electricity boards, State road transportation corporations, and State education boards were formed in provinces. The target growth rate was 5.6%, but overall failure resulted in 2.4% growth rate.

The fourth five-year plan (1969 – 1974) emphasised growth rate of agriculture as enabler of other sectors to grow. Family Planning programmes were amongst major targets of the Plan. Major Indian banks in private sector were nationalised. But a chunk of fourth plan resources were diverted towards war with Pakistan in 1971 along with refugee problem related to Bangladesh. The plan achieved 3.3% growth against target rate of 5.6%.

The fifth five-year plan (1974 – 1979) proposed to remove poverty (Garibi Hatao) and attain self-reliance particularly in agricultural production and defence. The plan promoted high rate of GDP growth, growth in the domestic rate of savings, and more equitable distribution of income. The central government entered into electricity generation and transmission. When Emergency was declared, Prime Ministers 20 Point Programme became the focal point. Even though in 1978 a new government rejected the plan, it was successful in achieving 4.8% growth rate against 4.4% target.

The sixth five-year plan (1980 – 1985) focussed on increase in national income, development of skill to reduce unemployment and poverty, modernization of technology, and providing slack season employment. Price controls were eliminated to a large extent resulting in increased cost of living. This plan onwards, the Military five-year plans became coterminous with national five-year plans by Planning Commission. Largely successful plan witnessed actual growth rate of 5.7% against 5.2% target.

The seventh five-year plan (1985 – 1990) strived towards social justice through anti-poverty programmes, agricultural development through increasing productivity of small and big farmers, ‘food, work & productivity’, and achieving independent economy through increased energy production. The plan targeted labour force to grow by 39 million people while employment was expected to grow 4% per year. The plan was quite successful with 6% growth rate of the economy against targeted 5%.

Industrial production index registered annual compound growth of 5.7% during 1951 – 1955, 7.2% during 1955 – 1960, 9.0% during 1960 – 1965 riding on quite high growth of basic goods and capital goods. The scale of investment in heavy industries were beyond the capital-raising capacity of the private-owned enterprises. A sort of complementary relationship grew between state-owned and private-owned business that resulted in good industrial growth during the period when overall prices remained stable in the country. Deceleration in industrial growth experienced during the period 1966 to 1980. The annual compound growth rate during 1965 – 1974 period was only 4.1% while 6.1% during 1974 – 1979 period. Finally, 1979-80 even recorded a negative rate of growth of Industrial production (-) 1.6%. Total factor productivity also registered negative growth of (-) 0.2 to (-) 0.3% per year during 1966-67 to 1979-80. The government put the blame on factors like wars in 1965 and 1971, Oil crisis of 1973, etc. However, a crucial factor was also present – low growth in agriculture sector created less demand of industrial goods. Industrial recovery during the period 1981 to 1991 witnessed much improved environment. Rate of industrial growth during 1981 – 1985 period was 6.4% per year and 8.5% during 1985 – 1990 period. The high growth rates were possible because of very robust growth in capital goods as well as consumer goods-durables. This growth was not associated with acceleration in growth of the factor inputs, but on higher factor productivity, which registered 3.4% per year growth during 1981 to 1985. Many commentators opine that liberal fiscal policies, and increased demand from agriculture and infrastructure sectors were key reasons for such recovery.

A close look at the planned economy and the overall parameters of performance reveal three key problems:

(a) Continuously rising population in India that negated the economic gains substantially, had never been tackled with due seriousness and resolve by INC leadership

(b) Even though five-year plans strived to achieve a lot on economic and social front, endemic corruption, faulty implementation, and lack of political resolve didn’t allow the period of planned economy to achieve greater efficiency

(c) Instead of long-term vision of a country free from all types of exploitation and poverty, INC leadership mostly used the planning process for scoring points for mid-term electoral success.

5.2  ‘Open’ Economy during Neoliberal Oligarchy: 1991 to 2014

The main objective of ‘new economic policy’ were liberalisation-privatisation-globalisation, as it used to be fondly called as LPG by the professionals in the 1990’s. The new policy wanted to convert the Indian economy into a full-fledged capitalist market economy by removing all kinds of government regulations and restrictions. It aimed at permitting unfettered international flow of goods and services as well as capital and technology. Another primary objective was to increase participation of private businessmen in all sectors of economy by withdrawing reserved government sector status from all sectors barring atomic energy and railways. Also, another compelling issue was stabilization of macro-economy through reduction of fiscal deficits (that was 5.4% of nominal GDP during 1991-92).

Some of the key economic reforms were:

(i) Removal of industrial licensing and restrictions

(ii) Abolition of restrictive trade practices through replacement of Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices act by other benign act

(iii) Freedom for expansion of Industrial production facility

(iv) Import of capital goods without restriction

(v) Increase in the investment limit for small scale industries

(vi) Free determination of interest rate by commercial Banks (within overall framework of central bank)

(vii) Transfer of ownership of state owned enterprises (in India it is called as ‘public sector unit’) to private businessmen at heavily discounted price

(viii) Reduction in import duty and tariffs

(ix) 100% FDI for high priority industries, increase in Equity limit of foreign investment in other sectors

(x) Partial Convertibility of Indian currency.

During this period, the existing process of five-year plan went on unhindered – eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth five-year plans were drawn up, budgets approved, and implemented. But with capitalist market economy progressing full swing under watchful eyes of successive governments, the five-year plans made little sense for the socio-economic parameters – common Indians soon learnt what is jobless growth, and uneducated literacy.

The new economic policy had a positive impact on foreign investments which rose to more than 5 billion USD in 1995-96 from a paltry 130 million USD in 1991-92. Nominal GDP increased from 14405 billion Indian Rupees in 1992-93 to 54821 billion Indian Rupees in 2012-13.

There was marked increase in inter-regional imbalance and inter-class imbalance in economic growth, upward movement of unemployment, poverty, and wealth gap in rural and urban areas. Crime rates increased across India. No mainstream politician would think about a balanced society any more.

5.3  Discussion on Economic Parameters: 1947 to 2014

5.3.1 Information of key parameters of Indian economic performance have been noted below (Data Source: Economic Survey 2019-20, Ministry of Finance – Government of India; Data-book for Planning Commission – Government of India; Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy – Reserve Bank of India):

(a) Data on GDP at factor cost at constant 2004-05 prices and share of sectors within GDP reveals that the share of the primary sector in GDP declined from 54% in 1950-51 to 33% in 1990-91 and further to 14.5% in 2010-11, while share of the secondary sector increased from 16% in 1950-51 to 27% in 1990-91 and further to 28% in 2010-11Statistics for GDP at factor cost has been officially withdrawn from 2012 onwards, instead of which Gross Value Added (GVA) at basic price has been brought in, that too with constant 2011-12 prices.

YearGDP at factor cost at constant 2004-05 prices(Billion Indian Rupee)Percentage share of sector in GDP at factor cost at constant 2004-05 price
Agriculture,forestry &fishingMining & quarryingManufacturing,construction,electricity & utility supplyTrade, hotels,transport &communicationFIRE, social & personalservices, other misc. services
1950-512796.1851.881.8416.1911.0118.51
1960-614102.7947.652.1620.0912.6417.55
1970-715897.8741.662.2023.6214.2818.98
1980-817985.0635.692.6225.6516.7720.88
1990-9113478.8929.523.4826.7017.6324.90
2000-0123484.8122.262.9627.2521.6428.84
2010-1149185.3314.592.2527.9227.3230.16

FIRE stands for Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate.

Data on GDP at market price at constant 2004-05 prices, and share of expenditures within GDP shows that economic growth was primarily fuelled by private consumption expenditure share of which came down from 83% in 1950-51 to 67% in 1990-91 and further to 56% in 2017-18 while contribution of gross fixed capital formation went up from a paltry 14% in 1950-51 to 23% in 1990-91 and further to 31% in 2017-18.

(b) Data on Per Capita Net National Income (Per Capita NNI) at market price and Per Capita Private Final Consumption Expenditure (Per Capita PFCE) at market price both at constant 2004-05 prices reveal overall dismal picture of Indian economy if average income and average expenses are estimated for a citizen:

YearPopulation(Million)NNI at market price at constant 2004-05 price (Billion Indian Rupee)Per Capita NNI at market price at constant 2004-05 price (Indian Rupee)Per Capita PFCE at market price at constant 2004-05 prices (Indian Rupee)Average Life Expectancy at Birth (in Years)
1950-51361.12697.247513678232.1
1960-61439.24115.199482814741.3
1970-71548.25964.7011025871445.6
1980-81683.37951.9311711968250.4
1990-91846.413420.31159961182558.7
2000-011028.722917.95224911535162.5
2010-111186.046574.38392702607467.0
2017-181316.073050.965551035566

5.3.2 Information on industrial productions of few significant goods and electricity have been noted below (Data Source: Economic Survey 2019-20, Ministry of Finance – Government of India; Ministry of Textiles – Government of India; Data-book for Planning Commission – Government of India; Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy – Reserve Bank of India):

(a) Data on basic industrial products and electricity reveals that even with increased production, pace of industrialisation was certainly inadequate for a country like India with vast population. Considering 1350 million population in 2018, per capita consumption of industrial products like finished steel, cement, and cloth was only 76 kg, 220 kg, and 49 sq. metre respectively, in case of finished steel and cement not even half of world average. Consumer price index shows unceasing inflation of food items.

YearIndex of industrial production(Base:2004-05 as 100)Consumer price index for industrial worker – food(Base: 1982as 100)Cotton & Manmade cloth(million sq. metre)Finished Steel (million tonnes)Cement(million tonnes)Coal and lignite(million tonnes)Crude oil(million tonnes)Electricity generated – utility & nonutility(billion KWH)
1950-517.917.01.02.732.30.306.6
1960-6115.621.02.48.055.20.520.1
1970-7128.138.04.614.376.36.861.2
1980-8143.181.089886.818.6119.010.5129.2
1990-9191.6199.02292813.548.8225.533.0289.4
2000-01453.04023332.399.2332.632.4554.5
2010-11888.56173076.3216.7570.437.7965.7
2017-181419.866845103.1297.7722.735.61483.2

(b) Data (computed by S V R Murthy from National Accounts Statistics, 2019, Government of India on the basis of GVA) on organised and unorganised sectors of shows that, Indian unorganised sector still contribute more than 52% of GVA and activities like agriculture and allied, construction, trade-repair-accommodation-food services are highly dependent on unorganised sector:

Economic ActivityPercent Share of GVA in 2011-12 byPercent Share of GVA in 2016-17 by
Organised sectorUnorganised sectorOrganised sectorUnorganised sector
Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing3.296.82.897.2
Mining and quarrying77.422.677.422.6
Manufacturing74.525.576.423.6
Electricity, gas, water & other utility services95.74.395.05.0
Construction23.676.426.673.4
Trade, repair, accommodation & food services13.486.613.486.6
Transport, storage, communication & services related to broadcasting53.047.053.746.3
Financial services90.79.388.111.9
Real estate, ownership of dwelling & professional service36.963.146.853.2
Public administration and defence100.00.0100.00.0
Other services58.841.252.747.3
Total GVA at basic prices46.153.947.352.7

5.4  Agriculture in Independent India

At the time of Independence, agriculture was the main source of national income and occupation. Even though agriculture sector’s contribution in GDP steadily declined from about 52% in 1950-51 to 14.5% in 2010-11, agriculture sector employed disproportionately high 54.5% of country’s workforce in 2011.

5.4.1 From 1948 to 1965 agrarian reforms were undertaken through which, substantial land titles were transferred to the actual cultivators, major dams and irrigation projects were constructed, and cooperative credit institutions were strengthened. Still, India remained dependent upon imports and food aid to feed the rising population.

During 1966 to 1990 period, New Agricultural Strategy or Green Revolution was formulated by government to apply science and technology for increasing yield. The strategy included (a) increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, (b) increased use of high yielding varieties of grains, (c) crop rotation and multiple cropping programme, (d) increased area under cultivation, and irrigation. Thus application of agriculture technology was the main driver. Along with that, diversification into related areas like vegetables, fruits, fishery, poultry, dairy etc. helped increasing amount of produce (hence, GDP) as well as employment and income.

The third phase of agricultural policy was a fallout of economic reforms initiated in 1991. Opening up of domestic market due to international trade and WTO affected agriculture. To address new scenario formally a new agricultural policy was launched in July 2000. It set an objective of 4% growth in output per year. Sustainable and efficient utilisation of resources was stressed. With inherent constraints, Indian agriculture, indeed, continue to perform much better as a sector of economy compared to industrial sector.

It is worthwhile to note that the modern applications in agriculture gave rise to unsustainable agricultural practices which deteriorated soil nutrients, reduced ground water table, and reduced biodiversity.

5.4.2 Information of key parameters of Indian agriculture sector performance have been noted below (Data source: Agricultural Census Division, Ministry of Agriculture; Agricultural Statistics at a Glance 2018, Registrar General of India; Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation – Government of India)

(a) There were 48900 million operational holding in 1960-61 with covered area of 131400 million hectares. The number of holdings increased to 115580 million in 2000-01 with covered area of 163357 million hectares which imply that average plot size reduced. Number of marginal (avg. size – 0.39 hectare) and small (avg. size – 1.43 hectare) holdings and area under such holdings have increased while number of semi-medium (avg. size – 2.76 hectare), medium (avg. size – 5.90 hectare), and large (avg. size – 17.33 hectare) holdings and area under such holding have reduced. Thus, number of uneconomical holdings are increasing regularly with increase in marginal and small plot holdings which means that (a) more and more cultivators are joining the ranks of agricultural labourers average income, (b) growth rate in average real income is poor, may be negative.

Plot sizePercent share in1960-611970-711980-811990-912000-01
Marginalnumber of holding40.6950.6056.4059.4063.00
operated area6.609.0012.0015.1018.82
Smallnumber of holding22.2919.1018.1018.8018.80
operated area12.1711.9014.1017.4020.18
Semi-mediumnumber of holding18.8015.2014.0013.1011.70
operated area19.9318.4021.2023.2023.96
Mediumnumber of holding13.4011.309.107.105.40
operated area30.5129.8029.6027.0023.84
Largenumber of holding4.903.902.401.601.02
operated area30.7430.9023.0017.3013.21

(b) As the rural population increased along with rising population of India, the ratio of Cultivators and Agricultural Labourer became skewed in favour of Agricultural Labourer – it signified that number of landless labourers steadily increased with rising population in rural areas along with rising level of povertyTill 2011, only 45% of net area under cultivation has been brought under irrigation.

YearRural population(Million)Net Area Sown (million hectares)Net IrrigatedArea (million hectares)Rural Agriculture workersFood-grains produced(million tonne)
CultivatorsAgricultural LabourersTotal (Million)
1950-51298.6118.7520.8569.927.397.250.8
1960-61360.3133.2024.6699.631.5131.182.0
1970-71439.0140.8631.1078.247.5125.7108.4
1980-81525.6140.2938.7292.555.5148.0129.6
1990-91630.6142.8748.02110.774.6185.3176.4
2000-01742.6141.3455.20127.3106.8234.1196.8
2010-11833.7141.5663.67118.8144.3263.1244.5
2017-18890.6285.0

(c) Rice and Wheat productivity and production increased steadily while per capita availability of coarse cereals and pulses steadily declined over the decades. 429.8 gram (Rice 178.1, Wheat 65.9, Other Cereals 119.4, and Total Pulses 66.4 gram) average availability of total food-grains per capita per day during the decade of 1951-60 increased to only 464.2 gram (Rice 198.1, Wheat 143.3, Other Cereals 83.2, and Total Pulses 39.6 gram) during decade of 1981-90Main reason for such marginal level of food security was lack of robust improvement in productivity of coarse cereal and pulses, and ever-increasing population.

YearRice CultivationWheat CultivationTotal Pulses Cultivation
Area (million Hectare)Yield (Kg/HectareArea (million Hectare)Yield (Kg/HectareArea (million Hectare)Yield (Kg/Hectare
1950-5130.816689.7566319.09441
1960-6134.13101312.9385123.56539
1970-7137.59112318.24130722.54524
1980-8140.15133622.28163022.46473
1990-9142.69174024.17228124.66578
2000-0144.71190125.73270820.35544
2010-1142.86223929.07298826.40691
2016-1743.99249430.79320029.45786

5.5  Occupation, Income & Poverty in Independent India

5.5.1 The key statistics related to population, rural-urban divide, and employment status in 1951, 1971, and 1991 census are given below (Data Source: Census, Government of India). The term ‘main worker’ is defined as those who work for 183 days or more in a year, ‘marginal workers’ are those who work for less than 183 days in a year.

Data Element1971 census1991 census2011 census
Total Population (million)548.159838.5681210.854
Population of 0-19 age (million)277.803391.400492.970
Population of 20-64 age (million)251.916408.540647.209
Population of 65 & above age (million)18.32433.93266.185
Population of unknown age (million)0.1164.6954.489
Total Workers (million)180.583314.131481.888
Main Workers (million)[of which workers of 20-64 age]180.583285.932[238.672]362.565[318.642]
Cultivators78.176110.65695.84
Agricultural labourers47.48974.62886.16
Household industry workers6.3536.86212.33
Other workers48.35593.785168.10
Marginal Workers (million)[of which workers of 20-64 age]No concept28.199[21.572]119.323[93.831]
Cultivators13.98722.85
Agricultural labourers11.39258.16
Household industry workers0.7616.00
Other workers2.05832.27
Non-Workers (million)367.576524.436728.966

A close look at the above mentioned data shows the unemployment and underemployment in India has been rising over the decades (obviously because of the known problem of employment opportunity lagging behind the rise in population):

(a) the proportion of total workers to total population increased from 33% in 1971 to 39.8% in 2011; but the lack of employment among working people of age-group 20–64 years was very high at about 36% in 1991 and 2011 census (official definition-jargon-statistics split off a smaller component as ‘unemployment’, but larger part remained a ‘disguised unemployment’).

(b) the proportion of marginal workers to total workers increased, which mean underemployment increased frighteningly from 9% in 1991 to 25% in 2011 census; within marginal workers, not only agricultural labourers, but workers in industrial and service sectors have also increased substantially.

(c) More than 13% of the (self) cultivators left the occupation between 1991 and 2011, a pointer to the fact that cultivation has become uneconomical for most of the small plot-holders; between 1991 and 2011 number of agricultural labourers increased by 5 times showing that landless labours and small plot holders increased leaps and bounds.

(d) As per report 568 of NSS round 68 carried out by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) of Government of India, in 2012 the worker population ratio for age 15 years and above is 54.7% which was uneven for males with 78.1% and females with 30.5%. So, the lack of employment among working people of age-group 15 years and above was astonishingly high at more than 45% in 2012 NSSO survey.

5.5.2 There exist another segregation so far as employment is concerned in India, apart from being organised or unorganised – the formal and informal category of employment. Informal workers don’t have any written contract with their employers, they have neither paid leave nor health benefits, and they don’t have any social security. The key statistics (Data Source: NSS 68th unit level data on employment unemployment, 2011-12 and Periodic Labour Force Survey, 2017-18) reveal that even in organised sector there exist substantial number of informal workers, besides the fact that unorganised sector is almost entirely comprised of informal workers. Even very recently in 2017-18 unorganised sector provided close to 87% of employment in India.

Worker CategoryPercent Share of Employment in 2011-12Percent Share of Employment in 2017-18
Organised sectorUnorganised sectorOrganised sectorUnorganised sector
Informal9.882.65.285.5
Formal7.20.47.91.3
Total17.083.013.286.8

5.5.3 Income distribution:

In India, there was/is no government initiative to document income of individual earning citizens except income tax filing procedure carried out by central government every year. However, out of 481.9 million working citizens in 2011, a paltry 37.9 million (i.e. roughly 7.8% of all working citizens) filed income tax return papers during 2013-14, which later went up to 68.4 million in 2017-18.

Indian Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation conducts all-India Household Consumer Expenditure Survey through National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). The data gathered during this exercise reveals the average expenditure on goods (food and non-food) and services which gets collated to estimate the household Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure as well as the distribution of households over the MPCE. While expenditure and poverty can be estimated with high accuracy through NSSO reports, income distribution remained a grey area in India.

The Inter University Consortium for Applied Political and Social Sciences Research (ICPSR), based at University of Michigan, provides easy access to India Human Development Survey, which was conducted in 2004-05 and 2011-12 among more than 40 000 households from rural and urban areas. The survey attempted to provide detail information on both household income and consumption. ‘Consumption’ related questionnaire matched NSSO questionnaire (expenditure item categories and referencing periods) while ‘Income’ related queries included all sources of income: labour income (wage, salary, pension), capital income (rent, interest, dividend) as well as business incomes. Government benefits were excluded from the analysis for consistency with tax tabulations. Thomas Picketty and Lucas Chancel in their paper “Indian income inequality, 1922-2015: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj?” estimated a detail pre-tax income distribution combining ICPSR survey data with Indian national accounts data and NSSO survey data. Key data is given below:

Income GroupPre-tax Income Distribution in 2015Approx. Share of National Income in 1990Approx. Average Annual Income Growth
Number of Adult (million)Share of National IncomeAverage Annual Income (Indian Rupee)1970 to 19791980 to 19891990 to 19992000 to 2015
Bottom 50%397.1514.7 %40,67122.3%1.25%1.65%1.15%2.20%
Middle 40%317.7229.2 %101,08444.0%1.55%1.85%0.80%2.40%
Top 10%79.4356.1 %776,56733.5%(-) 0.8%3.80%3.80%7.20%
Incl. top 1%7.9421.3 %2954,38610.7%(-) 4.6%7.20%6.00%7.20%

[ Link: https://wid.world/document/chancelpiketty2017widworld/ ]

The above data can be used logically to categorise Indian population into income groups as given below:

(a) The POOR class in India covers largest part of the working and nonworking adults – 50%.

(b) The LOWER MIDDLE class in India covers 20% of the adult population – rural lower middle may own less than 1.5 hectare cultivation land, urban lower middle may own a dilapidated small flat, but all of them are devoid of access to credit and meaningful deployment of capital to increase their income.

(c) The MIDDLE class in India covers 20% of the adult population who has some amount of money for spending in semi-luxurious items – rural middle class may own more than 3 hectare cultivation land, urban middle class may own a small shop, with access to limited credit from banks.

(d) The UPPER MIDDLE class in India covers 9% of the adult population who has high level of regular income from either job or business and splurge large sums of money on luxury goods – rural affluent class may own more than 10 hectare cultivation land, while urban upper middle class may be senior ranking officers in private and state-owned enterprises, owners of small industry, trading, and service providing companies, with access to very substantial credit from banks.

(e) The OPULENT class in India really owns capital in all forms – 1% of the adult population.

5.5.4 Consumer Expenditure and Poverty:

(a) The key statistics related to percentage of population below poverty line calculated as per Tendulkar method on Mixed Reference Period (Data Source: Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy – Reserve Bank of India):

Poverty Data1993-942004-052011-12
Rural MPCE at current prices (Indian Rupee)281.40579.21,287.17
Rural Poverty Line (Indian Rupees)446.68816.00
Rural population below poverty line50.1%41.8%25.7%
Urban MPCE at current prices (Indian Rupee)458.041104.602,477.02
Urban Poverty Line (Indian Rupees)578.801000.00
Urban population below poverty line31.8%25.7%13.7%
Total Poverty Ratio45.3%37.2%21.9%

The above data substantiates that the criticism against the basis of “poverty live” calculated by officials of government of India was/is too mild compared to the devilish act of intellectual skulduggery they engage inThe officials since 1950s had/have been artificially constructing “poverty line” which was/is at least 40% – 50% underestimated. If it is accepted by the current neoliberal politicians-bureaucrats-intellectuals-businessmen that an urban family of 4 belonging to the ‘poor’ class has a natural right to eat a breakfast and two square meals every day, then in 2012 the family would have spent at least 5000 Indian Rupees for purchasing food items and for cooking. Assuming a ‘poor’ would have very little money to spend for non-food items apart from electricity/cooking fuel and transport, the total expenditure per month would be 6000 Rupees for the 4-member family. Hence in 2012 the ‘poverty line’ of monthly per capita expenditure should have been 1500 Rupees instead of 1000 Rupees published by government.

(b) NSSO gather data during sampling rounds on two categories: food and non-food expenditures by Indian households. Food is further sub-categorised into cereals, milk and milk products, egg-fish-meat, vegetables, other food items, while non-food is further sub-categorised as betel-tobacco-intoxicants, fuel and light, clothing and bedding, education, medical, conveyance, other consumer services, other non-food items. The key statistics related to social group/caste wise percentage break-up of Average Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (MPCE) in 2011-12 (Data Source: NSS round 68, report 562, Government of India):

Expenditure Item & MPCE in 2011-12Social Groups
Scheduled Caste (SC)Scheduled Tribe (ST)Other Backward Caste (OBC)Other CommunityAll
Rural
MPCE (Indian Rupee)12521122143917191430
Food: Total55%56%53%51%53%
Non-Food: Total45%44%47%49%47%
Urban
MPCE (Indian Rupee)20282193227532422630
Food: Total47%44%45%40%43%
Non-Food: Total53%56%55%60%57%

The above data indicates the following:

(i) In terms of the regular monthly expenditures, all backward castes (SC, ST, and OBC) were found to be lagging behind the other castes and communities – the gap is more in urban areas compared to rural areas. This is obviously because of lower income in backward caste households. It would be fair to state that more than 90% of the population from three categories of backward castes are in the ‘poor’ and ‘lower middle’ class, while less than 10% of backward caste people are in the ‘middle’ and ‘upper middle’ class.

It is obvious that ‘poor’ and ‘lower middle’ classes who made up 70% of the population, also contain huge army of school drop-out and educated but unemployed people from upper castes.

(ii) Even after two decades (1991 to 2011) of ‘LPG’ economic reforms, household consumption has not increased substantially – average MPCE of Indian Rupees 1430 in rural area and Rupees 2630 in urban area. The fact which non-Marxist politicians, wealthy businessmen, bureaucrats, and professionals continue to hide is that the revenue share of growth during 1991 to 2011 never ‘trickled down’ to the ‘poor’ and ‘lower middle’ classes who jointly made up 70% of the population

(iii) Top 10% of population consisting of ‘upper middle’ and ‘opulent’ classes extracted most of the revenue and asset generated during the period of economic reforms – interestingly more than 90% of top 10% are from the upper caste Hindu community.

5.6  Significant observations on Independent India

5.6.1 INC has been transformed from being a party of elites representing all nook and corner of India (during British period there were indomitable INC leaders even in Pashtun-dominated regions of the present Pakistan-Afghanistan border) into a fiefdom of Nehru-Gandhi family after independence. As long as astute politicians like Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi came from the family, there was no major impact of this despicable transition on the party. But after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, the weakness of INC as a political outfit became too apparent to be ignored. The wife and son of Rajiv Gandhi kept the control with the family, but lack of political acumen resulted in slow demise of INC, which in turn helped immensely opening up of the political opportunity for RSS-BJP to come to limelight and fill the political vacuum.

5.6.2 INC leaders from Nehru-Gandhi family were mainly populists with leaning towards non-Marxist socialist and social democrat ideas. To broaden mass appeal during general election during prime ministership of Indira Gandhi, during 1970s INC took a decisive turn against the wealthy class of people that resulted in negative rate of growth in income of ‘upper middle’ and ‘opulent’ classes. Notwithstanding such ‘peronist’ policies, after death of Rajiv Gandhi, the party was hijacked by the neoliberal politicians-intellectuals-businessmen who formed coterie around remaining members of Gandhi family, and worked tirelessly to create an oligarchy where national capitalists was supreme in setting policy. Thus INC became unabashedly pro-businessmen and pro-capitalists during the Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh premiership.

5.6.3 India till 1991 failed to attain many parameters, but heavily concentrated wealth was surely not one of those parameters. Since INC ruled for most of the time, it was the INC’s monumental failure that even in 2012 exactly 64 years after independence, 37% of population failed to read and write, or 36% of 20–64 years age-group didn’t have employment – no amount of argument can justify this hopeless scenario! Well known economists Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze made so pertinent observations in their book ‘India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity’ as “ While the case for economic reforms may take good note of the diagnosis that India has too much government interference in some fields, it ignores the fact that India also has insufficient and ineffective government activity in many other fields, including basic education, health care, social security, land reforms and the promotion of social change. This inertia too contributes to the persistence of wide spread deprivation, economic stagnation and social inequality.”

5.6.4 Massive military conflict at northern and north-eastern borders was/is the recipe for socio-economic doom for India and Pakistan, hence none of the leaders in Pakistan or India since 1947 had/has been interested in conflicts beyond limited manoeuvre. Even if Bangladesh got partitioned from Pakistan in 1971, for Pakistani leaders, the solace was India didn’t grab its land (practically correct). China with its vast economy can afford massive military mobilisation in a tad more effectively than India. But experience shows that, China wasn’t interested to increase its landmass by getting back few thousand square kilometres into Tibet autonomous region from Indian control – otherwise, Chinese troops wouldn’t withdraw to north of McMahon line in 1962 in north-east.

The above mentioned status and obvious facts were/are known by all senior politicians and bureaucrats in India-Pakistan-China all through these decades. Chinese government can take any decision to legally accept/modify their boundary vis-à-vis other countries – China demonstrated it through signing of a series of border pacts with most of their neighbours. India and Pakistan governments can’t take such decision to make agreement to accept LAC as legal border (and ignore the ‘ideal’ border line soaked in ‘nationalism’ and claimed by government and public from both sides, existence of which has been taught since the school days of every generation) because the political opponents will misuse such wise action by the governing party, through cheap politicking of ‘surrender and sale out to a foreign power’On the contrary, with a tough stand on border dispute, the politicians in India and Pakistan earn extra mileage for campaigning during periodic elections. As a result, the border problems have been lingering on for decades with no end at sight.

6.  India Since 2014: Reappearance of Corporate-State

Since 1950, while formulating policies, the political and bureaucratic institutions of independent India tried to uphold the directive principles of ‘welfare state’ policy enshrined in the Indian constitution. However, while implementing the policies within unavoidable limitations, all mainstream political parties and their leaders surreptitiously represented businessmen-landlords-elites -– end result of such duplicity has been noted previously in section 5.

6.1 The Protagonists

Let’s briefly discuss how the protagonists stack up in the political economy of India during 2010s:

a) The main difference among the dozens of non-Marxist political parties (two of them national, rest regional) which have been controlling the government at centre and the provinces for past 73 years relates to form rather than substance. Fundamentally, almost every senior and junior leader of all non-Marxist political parties across wide spectrum of professed ideologies, treat their association with the party as profession to ‘make money’ if and when the party comes to power at centre or province. Such ‘professional‘ type of politicians join the mainstream national and regional political parties as a professional engagement to create accounted/unaccounted wealth using political and administrative power (a) by entering into business dealings in informal/unorganised sector as well as formal/organised sectors of economy, and (b) by swaying government/bureaucratic decision-making process in favour of their favourite oligarchs/businessmen.

All other activities like spending time and efforts for the sake of the political party (in the role of a party official) and/or for the sake of governance (in the role of managing public administration, when voted to power) become instrument of achieving the primordial target of making wealth. Hence shifting from one political party to another became a sort of professional move for all non-Marxist politicians. While shifting from one party to another, the leader is expected to carry his/her team of unemployed goons who would make required arrangements for winning the election (through booth capturing, false voting, electronic voting machine hacking etc.) – the team of muscleman would be provided protection from police force. These musclemen generate another type of regular revenue for their leaders if and when the party comes to power in any province – (a) ‘protection money’ from unorganised/informal sector of economy involving small manufacturers, small real estate companies, small traders, retail shopkeepers, roadside hawkers, and (b) ‘extortion money’ from organised/formal sector of economy consisting of real estate companies, construction companies, medium sized manufacturers, entertainment sector, etc. Such team, popularly known as ‘social worker’ may comprise of a couple of hundred local rowdies plus couple of petty criminals in case of leaders at provincial Assembly level, while leaders at national Parliament level commands up to thousand rowdies plus up to a dozen of hard-core criminals.

Some of the key information of 543 elected representatives at India’s Loksabha called as Member of Parliament (MP) who are the law-makers of the country:

Data related to MPIn 2009 general electionIn 2014 general electionIn 2019 general election
Elected on INC ticket (no.)2224452
Elected on BJP ticket (no.)112282303
Elected from other Non-Marxist parties (no.)185206182
Elected from Marxist parties (no.)241106
Elected with Declared Criminal cases (no.)162185233
– Out of which…Serious Criminal cases (no.)76112159
MP with education qualification intermediate and below (no.)127130
MP with asset valuation more than 10 million Indian Rupee (no.)315443475
Average asset per MP (million Indian Rupee)53.5147.0209.3

[ Link: https://adrindia.org/content/lok-sabha-elections-2019 ]

‘Serious Criminal cases’ as per Indian penal code include rape, crimes against women, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping etc. It is obvious from the above data that, not only Indian Parliament have been steadily turning into a den of criminals (in 2019, as many as 43% of MPs have criminal cases against them), but law-makers’ declared assets increased leaps and bounds (between 2009 and 2019, average asset of MPs increased by 4 times). The situation of assembly members in the provinces follow similar logic. In his book “Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule” M K Gandhi wrote in 1933 about British Parliament, “That which you consider to be the Mother of Parliaments is like a sterile woman and a prostitute. Both these are harsh terms, but exactly fit the case. That Parliament has not yet, of its own accord, done a single good thing. Hence I have compared it to a sterile woman. The natural condition of that Parliament is such that, without outside pressure, it can do nothing. It is like a prostitute because it is under the control of ministers who change from time to time.” Isn’t it right time to slightly modify M K Gandhi’s legendary statement to describe Indian Parliament as “…a prostitute who is at the centre of brawl among wealthy gangsters…”?

b) There was/is a limited group of educated people across the country who would join some Marxist party (since 1960’s it has become difficult to track the exact number of fragments of the old Communist Party of India, but at least 5 Marxist political parties significantly have small but committed activists and followers) believing they will fight the unjust system to further socialist cause. These ‘amateur’ type of politicians would be dedicated intellectuals throughout their life, instead of being dedicated revolutionaries. Hence, most of the leaders assigned more importance to debating over the theory than to mobilizing millions of hungry unemployed people in their own region. They lack unity and cohesion among themselves, lack robust socio-political action plan, lack resources, and most importantly they lack enthusiasm to change the social-political-economic realities in India. Very few leaders who assigned supreme importance to mass mobilisation, were actually voted into power in some significant provinces like Kerala and West Bengal through existing electoral democratic process.

The conduct of Marxist party functionaries during the period when they run the provincial governments were sometimes became controversial and the governance was not always efficient due to resource crunch. They couldn’t fight concerted campaigns against them conducted by the top 10% who owned all mainstream parties and media. A significant distortion in operational aspects of few Marxist parties can be noted during past two decades – they started believing that election campaign is the supreme task. Another development can be noted – economic reforms did create ‘reformist’ leaders many of whom are imitating professional politicians to leave their Marxist party to join other mainstream political party for, may be, gaining stature.

c) The third, arguably the most significant protagonist is wealthy oligarch families, the 1% OPULENT class, more than 95% of whom belong to the upper caste Hindu namely Brahman-Vaishya-Kshatriya Aryan and Vaishya-Kshatriya Dravidian ethno-genetic people (just like USA, another ‘great’ democracy, where oligarchy mostly comprises of Jewish, Anglo-Saxon ethno-genetic people). Similarly, the 9% UPPER MIDDLE class has more than 90% of the people belonging to upper caste Hindu community. Control of the space of banking-financial service-industry-trading-service business-large cultivation farm-politics-bureaucracy-judiciary-technology-medicine-professional services etc. by these two classes would put the 20th century British colonialists to shame! Regularly and almost religiously, the media and academia who are part of the top 10% have been shedding tears for progress or lack of progress (depending on which mainstream non-Marxist party they prefer) of the Indian society and economy, and pontificate about how the country should be or should not be governed – as a matter of fact, these are essentially an attempt to create a semblance of existence of difference of opinion in a ‘vibrant democracy’ of India while maintaining deafening silence over increasing exploitation of 90% population and atrocities against women, and minority communities (exactly similar to the hue and cry in mainstream media in USA over mistakes of Democrats party and Republican party, but never touching the real issue of endless exploitation by the zionist-capitalist oligarchy that controls both banks, businesses, political parties, media, academia, entertainment, and what not!).

Related data shows how effective the small oligarchic coterie (1%) has been for past 10 years in India to amass wealth while a larger group of elites (9%) applauded about ‘democracy’ and ‘rule of law’ in India:

Data related to Indian Oligarchy201020142019
Total Adult population (million)719.062775.767865.783
Median wealth in US Dollar (current)130010063042
Adults with wealth < median wealth50%50.0%50.0%
Adults with wealth [median – 10,000] US Dollar42.9%44.5%28.2%
Adults with wealth [10,000 – 100,000] US Dollar6.6%5.1%20.0%
Adults with wealth [100,000 – 1000,000] US Dollar0.4%0.3%1.7%
Adults with wealth above 1 million US Dollarnumber of Adult with 1 – 5 million US Dollarnumber of Adult with 5 – 10 million US Dollarnumber of Adult with 10 – 50 million US Dollarnumber of Adult with more than 50 million US Dollar0.02%154,93315,20310,1301,7720.09%666,92654,78132,4414,460
Gini wealth coefficient77.8%81.4%83.2%

[ Link- https://www.credit-suisse.com/about-us/en/reports-research/global-wealth-report.html ]

In the report ‘Time to Care’ published in January’2020, Oxfam India mentions “India’s top 10% of the population holds 74.3% of the total national wealth. The contrast is even sharper for the top 1%. India’s top 1% of population holds 42.5% of national wealth while the bottom 50%, the majority of the population, owns a mere 2.8% of the national wealth. In other words, the top 1% hold more than 4 times the amount of wealth held by the bottom 70% of the population. The bottom 90 percent holds 25.7 percent of national wealth.”

d) Finally, coming to the much maligned and slandered among all protagonists – the poor and lower middle class, the working and unemployed proletariat who are generally termed as ‘lazy-bones’ by intelligent elite managers/professionals in the corporate world. Truth be told. During past 30 years, whether central government or provincial governments which have been run by the mainstream national/regional ‘professional’ political parties (except few cases when Marxist parties formed government in province) campaigned invariably projecting the ‘interest of poor and downtrodden’ as the topmost agenda if they come to power. But barring few rare instances, across India the mainstream political parties ONLY GREASED THE OLIGARCHY – hypocrisy, thy name is politician! In 2015, World Bank estimated that a whopping 50.4% of Indians live below WB poverty line of $3.2 (2011 PPP) per day which was equivalent to 50 Indian Rupees per day. Previously while discussing consumer expenditure and poverty in sub-section 5.5.3, I have mentioned my opinion as “Hence in 2012 the ‘poverty line’ of monthly per capita expenditure should have been 1500 Rupees instead of 1000 Rupees published by government”. I will add that, World Bank officials at least were more ingenuous compared to India government officials.

[ Link: https://databank.worldbank.org/data/download/poverty/33EF03BB-9722-4AE2-ABC7-AA2972D68AFE/Global_POVEQ_IND.pdf ]

The 70% population (poor and lower middle class) at bottom of income and expenditure pyramid earn so insignificantly small amount to live a hand-to-mouth daily life that they can never build bare minimum asset like a 600 square feet house/flat. They just slog on day-after-day to buy daily daal-roti or daal-rice while directly and indirectly supporting the top 10% amass wealth and power. The inflation has been rising so stubbornly that, during 2019 and 2020 it would be a cruel joke to discuss about $3.2 (even in terms of nominal current exchange rate i.e. 224 Indian Rupees) per day expenditure as poverty line. Whether it is a village or town in India, apart from two meals a day what would be left for the poor fellow to meet other daily requirements like breakfast, snacks, medicine, and toiletries? How a poor man would arrange for local conveyance and mobile communication? How monthly requirements like cooking gas, electricity, house rent, clothing, education of kids would be met? In the words of a commentator, “the worker is becoming impoverished absolutely, i.e. he is actually becoming poorer than before; he is compelled to live worse, to eat worse, to suffer hunger more, and to live in basements and attics.” Has the world witnessed similar travesty of natural justice anywhere in the world in 21st century?

6.2 Reincarnation of Corporate-State under Modi’s BJP

Even before the year 2000, most of the successful billionaire capitalists of India belonged to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu provinces who collectively steered industrial economy of India– during two decades of 1980s and 1990s, based on industrial sector, Gujarat’s economy registered a remarkable growth rate of over 14% against the country’s around 5.5%.

6.2.1 Between 2002 and 2014, Gujarat province became the experimental laboratory of BJP for developing the concept of pseudo-religious authoritarian corporatist system of governance under Narendra Modi which was termed as ‘Gujarat Model’ – mainstream media owned by businessmen did the tomtoming of the model across India. Briefly the three characteristics of that experiment can be described as:

a) Pseudo-religious – section 4.1.2 lists down the essence of RSS-BJP campaign on how and why Hinduism has been the supreme ‘religious philosophy’ and Hindus were/are the ultimate ‘religious community’. However, as it happened with any other pseudo-religious groups, none of the propaganda has anything to do with God and spiritualism which remained the central theme of all religions in humankind. Every propaganda point relates to political objectives of (a) bringing the diverse sects of Hindus under BJP’s political umbrella, (b) implanting a belief among all disparate sects of Hindus that south Asian subcontinent belongs to ONLY them, (c) regimenting the Hindus to follow a hierarchical caste system with Brahmans as de facto leader of Indian society as written in book Manusmriti in Sanskrit, (d) inculcating supremacist ethos among Hindu children and youth about past history and civilization (some truth mixed with mostly fabricated narratives). Thus, the pseudo-religious characteristic turned the entire academic discourses of Indian archaeology-history-anthropology-sociology upside-down, and the academic arena had been converted into a ‘battle’ to uphold ‘India’s/Hindu’s glorious past stretching back to 15000 BCE’.

b) Authoritarian – section 4.2.1 lists down the political messages propagated by RSS-BJP that slowly but surely vitiated the social bonding between communities and the stage was set for further manipulation of the entire political environment. Within few months of Narendra Modi’s swearing in as Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002, Godhra train-burning incident took place, Modi and BJP used that incident to create terror and carnage of mainly Muslim people. Though Pakistan’s involvement in Islamic terrorism in India was decades old history, there was no robust proof within few days of Godhra train-burning. But Modi’s BJP utilised that event to build a fabricated narrative: (a) demographic growth of Muslim community is far more than Hindu community, unless Hindus ‘resist’ socially and politically, Muslims would once again initiate partition of the country, (b) Hindu community should continue to teach Muslim community unforgettable lessons, and, on behalf of Hindu community BJP will do the needful, (c) BJP is the only political party in India that fights for the larger interest of majority Hindu community, (d) Declaring India as ‘Hindu nation’ discarding the secular constitution, and cornering the minorities are the only solution for ‘bringing back the old glory’ of Hindu civilization, and only BJP can transform India into a Hindu nation. It goes without saying that such propaganda based on false narratives using lies and half-truths helped building an aura of authoritarian Modi that transformed BJP into authoritarian entity.

Voice of opposition parties, trade union leaders, farmers, social activists, and academicians, especially those who represent religious and caste minorities was suppressed by using police and revenue department officials – slapping of criminal cases against dissenting voice was the standard procedure. The mainstream media became an instrument of public campaign in Gujarat province under Modi’s BJP. The sessions of the legislative Assembly were squeezed so that elected representatives from opposition parties don’t get enough time to raise questions/clarifications on various bills and reports.

c) Corporatist – While Oligarchy has been controlling all levers of power at the centre and at the provinces, by and large the corporate honchos preferred to stay at the backstage of governance. Since 2003 the corporate honchos in Gujarat were sucked into part of governance through a fusion of government and corporate interest. The roles and responsibilities that Gujarat government should have played were curtailed and corporates were offered to fill in the vacuum. Among the beneficiary class were/are the Gujarati-Marwari corporate honchos like the Ambanis, Adanis, Ruias, Sanghvis, Mehtas and other big industrialists, and dozens of contractors who got their share of the pudding of various projects of infrastructure development. The new industrial policy of 2003 permitted dilution of laws of labour relations to the extent permissible at the province level. Industries were exempted from getting ‘no objection certificate’ from the pollution control board. Quick possession of farm land by industrialists and businessmen were facilitated. The cronies of Modi’s BJP were rewarded with lower than market price of land in most of the cases. The politicians belonging to BJP and government bureaucracy worked extra time and walked extra mile for the benefit of private capitalists – the whole programme was packaged as ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ and non-stop campaign was undertaken in media for public consumption.

The 2009 industrial policy was designed for transforming Gujarat province as world’s most attractive investment destination – megaprojects with investments more than Indian Rupees 10 billion were mainly targeted. Gujarat government’s industrial nodal agency acquired 21,308 hectares of land between 2001 and 2011 (starting with 4,620 hectares in 2001). Modi had become the favourite chief ministers of Indian capitalists especially Gujarati and Marwari businessmen who would attend the Vibrant Gujarat investors’ meetings and would shower praise on him and fill the coffers of BJP party fund. During these investors’ summits held between 2003 and 2011, Memorandums of Understanding were signed for investment totalling more than 4 trillion Indian Rupees – only 8% of promised investment, amounting to just over 300 billion actually came through. Another analysis showed from 2000 to 2012 Modi’s Gujarat could not attract many foreign investors (4.5% of FDI went to Gujarat, as against 32.8% in Maharashtra, 19% in Delhi, 5.6% in Karnataka, 5.2% in Tamil Nadu). By focusing on capital-intensive megaprojects, ‘Gujarat model’ benefited the big companies balance sheets and industrial growth rate, but job creation remained chimera – after all, the corporatist policies were indeed aimed at (jobless) growth of corporates!

6.2.2 The 16th national general election, held in early 2014, resulted in a huge victory of the BJP, the party gained an absolute majority and formed a government under the premiership of Narendra Modi, till then BJP Chief Minister of Gujarat province. Indian bankers-industrialists-merchants-big landowners who formed 1% opulent class wanted a stable government which would safeguard their long-term interest of endless accumulation of capital. For that, they needed a commercialised political party which has authoritarian background. BJP was best fit – hence, this class spent billions of Indian Rupees in donation to BJP election fund and provided 100% support in all types of media owned by them for 2014 election campaign. As the Modi government settled down at centre, the ‘Gujarat Model’ was quickly being redesigned keeping entire India in view.

67 years after the partitioned independence, in 2014, the hen has come home to roost! To fulfil political ambitions of few south Asian leaders, the Indian subcontinent was bifurcated. But (truncated) India never publicly or constitutionally accepted that fact that Muslim elites separated in 1947 to safeguard and multiply their wealth and power (not to keep the Muslim population in the newly created country hale and hearty), hence Indian constitution declared secular multi-religious multi-ethnic country. As we look into the break-up of capital-holding 1% opulent class) we note that, 95% belong to upper caste Hindu community. People with personal experience of staying and knowing different regions and provinces of India opine that, this opulent class wanted a sort of ‘official declaration’ that would perpetuate their hold on political POWER and WEALTH. Since 1947 INC or any non-Marxist political party at centre or at provinces could never think anything near to this ‘wish’ of the brute majority of Indian opulent class EXCEPT NARENDRA MODI’S BJP IN GUJARAT. Not even BJP government at centre led by Vajpayee could read the pulse of most of the Indian capitalists. The Indian corporates and the opulent class elites got their messiah in Narendra Modi. Thus, Corporate-state returned to India. Henceforth, the government of India would live for the corporates, work for the corporates and, more importantly, die for the corporates.

And what happened to the 9% upper middle class when their role-model, the 1% opulent class has been busy for manipulating the Indian democratic architecture for perpetuation of their not-so-indirect rule? They merrily chugged along with the 1% – with western education, high-paying salary, decent homes, and motor vehicles the prosperous upper middle class seized the opportunity to increasingly dictate the country’s political economy. Large number of this upwardly mobile and consumerist class of people have close ties with their relatives living abroad, mainly in 5-Eyes countries – this resulted in a notion that English language and western capitalism combination is the way for salvation to achieve prosperity. No wonder that the upper middle class also understood the underlying foundation of the western zionist-capitalist economic system that exploited world-wide colonies for sourcing materials and labour at (almost) no cost for five centuries – Indian opulent class and upper middle class applied same logic in India whereby the 90% population would be sucked dry in order to build the wealth of 10%. Only complete seizure of ‘state institutions’ can provide the power required to achieve such ‘economic miracle’. So the upper middle class was on board for the new journey towards ‘prosperity’.

What has been different in the second coming of corporate-state? So far as the ‘substance’ is concerned, there is no difference at all between English EIC corporate-state and BJP Hindu corporate-state. The dynamics of corporate-state clearly works in a fashion so that all government wings – legislature, executive, and judiciary – work in tandem towards maximisation of benefits of corporate interest and limitless accumulation of profit, and in turn the corporates extend illegitimate benefits to the decision-making persons/entities of government wings. Among many differences of ‘form’ most important ones are:

a) In case of the first appearance of corporate-state in 1769, governance of newly acquired Indian ‘state’ got added as an outer layer of function to the existing core function of corporate business; during the second appearance in 2014, governance of existing Indian ‘state’ acted as the body onto which the corporate business was injected as new blood

b) In case of the first appearance of corporate-state in 1769, foreign capitalists (specifically Anglo-Saxon and Jewish ethnic businessmen) were the most significant gainers while Indian capitalists played the role of lackeys; during the second appearance in 2014, Indian capitalists (specifically Gujarati and Marwari ethnic businessmen) are the most significant gainers while foreign capitalists (specifically Anglo-Saxons and Jewish ethnic businessmen in USA-UK) have been playing supportive role till now

6.2.3 Policy Vectors of Current Corporate-State

This sub-section lists few observations about key stated and unstated policies of BJP, as one could notice during past 6 years.

a) Creation of a virtual reality through print media (newspapers), broadcast media (television), digital media (social networking) which would ‘manufacture’ fake news, fake history, fake glory of fake entities, fake socio-economic parameters, in other words, a forged reality gets created on 24×7 basis by a specially created BJP IT Cell (employing thousands of IT professionals) that manufactures the messages to conform to the RSS-BJP’s social-political-economic-cultural propaganda. This virtual reality is transported to the poor, lower middle, and middle class of population i.e. 90% of population through Indian-owned media as well as USA-based Zionist-capitalist media especially social networking behemoths. Majority of Indians have very little education, who easily fell prey to these deceitful propaganda.

b) Creation of a virtual identity through broadcast media (television), digital media (social networking) through which the people who would come forward to raise voice against misrule and corruption, would be identified as anti-national as against the patriots meaning who would remain silent. BJP IT Cell members using thousands of real and fake accounts in social media would abuse and intimidate any dissident until he/she become silent. Thus, even the leaders of the opposition political parties are silenced by the pro-BJP media houses.

c) Exercise direct control over all key government institutions like bureaucracy, judiciary, and defence by installing RSS-BJP sympathiser at all key positions. Thus, for the first time in independent India, the Supreme Court judgements are being questioned among educated people, or Defence Force issues statements that are overtly political. All checks and balances (there were many, including some which were unnecessary) within governance system has been upturned. Many basic tenet of Indian constitution (‘democratic’, ‘secular’, ‘welfare’, ‘socialist’, ‘justice’ etc.) are being challenged and violated by BJP agenda.

d) Redefine citizenship criterion through a series of self-contradictory bills and amendments whereby all Indian citizens would have to prove through official documents that either their parents took birth and lived in India or they migrated to India due to religious persecution. While it is undeniable fact that illegal immigrants exist in India in large numbers, the same should have been dealt through administrative checking and controlling measures. However BJP utilised the problem of illegal immigrants to redefine the citizenship, which would result in a situation where most of the ST and SC population and many Muslim people won’t be able to furnish required official documents (living under abject poverty they spend all efforts and time to earn livelihood). Suffice to say that ST, SC, and Muslim communities fundamentally remain outcast in the RSS ideological frame of Hindutwa supremacy.

e) Modi government has been systematically using the very large Indian diaspora. The high-profile outreach of Modi himself in Anglo-American countries were/are to achieve certain objectives like – (a) proselytising the ‘hindutwa’ ideology in Hindu community who were/are well established in profession and business, (b) making inroads into top level executives of top Information Technology companies to enlist their committed support to BJP IT Cell, (c) entice the Hindu businessmen for FDI in India either by their business entity or by their Anglo-American associates, (d) donations from wealthy Hindus for BJP party fund.

f) Ostensibly to bring in digital economy by promoting use of digital monetary transactions and by suspending counterfeit currency notes, BJP government suddenly delegitimised use of notes 1000 and 500 denominations by 30 December 2016. To double down BJP government implemented Goods and Service Tax (GST) from 1 July 2017 without appropriate preparedness of infrastructure and training. Result of the ‘pincer movement’ on economy was spectacular – slowly but surely the cash-flow dried up in the unorganised sector of economy which used to provide 87% of employment among working population contributing 52% of value addition in the economy. Indian economy moved backstage instead of marching into digital economy.

A section of small-marginal businessmen is inclined to think that through ‘demonetisation’ and ‘GST implementation’ Modi’s government wanted to marginalise the unorganised sector of economy so that the wealthy businessmen can move into the hitherto uncharted territory of such sectors traditionally cornered by unorganised business – they point out to consumer retail stores, trading of agricultural produces, textile and garments etc. as the proof, where unorganised business took a beating even if sectorial turnover was/is huge, and organised big business stepped in with huge investments. Interestingly, big businesses were present in such sectors even earlier, but they were unable to compete with agile small businesses.

g) Gigantic scale of privatisation of state-owned enterprises (SOE) which couldn’t be even imagined during the era of economic reforms 1991 – 2014. While in the earlier days there would be privatisation of the sick and non-profitable SOEs after carrying out due diligence of assets, 2015 onwards the BJP government targeted handover of even the highly profitable SOEs (in sectors like mining, oil and gas, defence machinery, logistics etc.) and Nation-wide service networks of government (like railways, airlines, telecommunication) to private industrialists at a throw-away price. Being a corporate-state the primary objective is to support the crony capitalists in building their business turnover and profits. Slowly the government would retire into a small shell where taxpayers’ money would be used to run the three wings of governance, and government would have no responsibility or commitment towards welfare of common people of India. This conforms to the more subtle agenda of corporate-state – corporates would provide every possible goods and services that are required to live a daily life in India, and people who can’t afford to pay, will perish.

h) In March 2019, large borrowers accounted for 53% of the total loan portfolio in the banking system, they also represented 82% of the share of gross non-performing assets (GNPA) almost 90% of which is in state owned banks. India’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India has been alarmed that if the top three stressed borrowers failed to repay, the impact will be severe for eight banks in the country. State owned banks found their GNPA at 10.7% of total credit as of March 2020.

A close scrutiny shows a very diabolical game is being played by the corporates. While it was/is normal for businesses to make losses and close down (particularly electricity generation and infrastructure construction sectors performed poorly in India), it is abnormal for businesses to declare bankruptcy en masse when a particular political party is governing at centre. Bad loans written-off in state owned banks:

  • During the period 2004 to 2013 (both inclusive) Indian Rupees 1.238 trillion were written-off
  • During the period 2014 to 2019 (both inclusive) Indian Rupees 5.487 trillion were written-off

Bad debt which was still in the books of public sector bank before April 2020 (when additionally covid-19 impacted the economy) would surely be written off within next 2 – 3 years, amount of that future write-off is estimated as more than Indian Rupees 8 trillion. Thus the 1% Indian oligarchs (that includes mainly industrialists and businessmen, ruling party politicians, a section of bureaucrats, a section of professionals in banking and finance) have been siphoning off the public money through systematic collusion after formation of the new corporate-state. No business anywhere on earth can convert loan (a liability amount) directly into cash profit, as it has been happening in corporate-state of India. It reminds us of the loot of the fabulous treasury of Bengal provinces in 1757 by English EIC.

[ Link: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/k-c-chakrabarty-bad-loan-rti-write-offs-a-scam-small-loans-rarely-in-it-says-former-rbi-deputy-governor/ ]

[ Link: https://www.moneylife.in/article/51st-anniversary-of-bank-nationalisation-has-all-stakeholders-edgy-and-unhappy-time-for-government-to-rebuild-confidence/60935.html ]

i) Modi government significantly invested in the Asian NATO programme of the zionist-capitalist Deep State led by successive governments of USA-UK-Australia-NZ-Canada. Defence cooperation continue to expand with signing of Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), and Industrial Security Agreement (ISA). The Anglo-American military industrial complex views India as a promising area for their business growth.

The corporate-state of India under Modi’s BJP would utilize the burgeoning relationship with world order Deep State for – (a) short-term objectives like creating a bargaining power vis-à-vis China for border dispute and vis-à-vis Sri Lanka for autonomy of Tamil population, (b) mid-term objectives like becoming a permanent member of Asian NATO which would propel India to become de facto naval power in the Indian ocean, (c) long-term objectives like becoming a part of extended supply chain for MNCs belonging to primarily, Anglo-American ownership. The long-term objective is the most significant wish of the Indian capitalists for decades – they hardly understand that western societies got saturated in terms of consumerism, it is Asia and Africa where consumption will continue to increase for decades. Indian capitalists could have clocked more robust business benefits by joining the 3+ trillion US Dollar BRI programme of China.

[ Link: http://bharatshakti.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Indo-US-Foundational-Agreements-CNA.pdf ]

[ Link: https://www.orfonline.org/research/strategic-convergence-the-united-states-and-india-as-major-defence-partners-52364/ ]

j) The seven decade old border problems with Pakistan (related to erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir province of India) and with China (related to erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir province, and Arunachal Pradesh province of India) acquired a new dimension when Modi government bifurcated Jammu & Kashmir province into two parts – Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, and withdrew special autonomy enjoyed by the erstwhile province. Apparently BJP government wanted to integrate the region with other provinces for free movement of people and capital. There exist another view which suggest that, India wants to strengthen its military posture vis-à-vis Pakistan and China, and the new move on Jammu & Kashmir would facilitate the same.

As I have noted earlier in sub-section 4.2.3, all border problems were creation of British imperialist power, and three Asian countries may either resolve through dialogue or try to resolve by force (which would be too costly for any of these countries). Notwithstanding the USA oligarchy’s pompous statements, there won’t be any tangible support to India if it chooses to fight, USA would be happy to sell the dated military machinery at hefty prices though!

None of the policy trajectories mentioned above address the economic downturn that has been troubling the Corporate-State of India in the wake of demonetisation and GST implementation. It seems nobody in RSS-BJP is bothered about the worst nightmare in India in seven decades with immediate burning concerns like (1) slowing quarterly GDP growth rate 2017 onwards, (2) total debt increase by 38 trillion Indian Rupees in past 6 years while total debt was 53 trillion Indian Rupees as on March’2014, (3) no significant growth in finished goods exports, and (4) highest rate of unemployment in last 45 years among job-seekers of age 15 years and above.

Welcome to BJP’s Hindutwa Corporate-State of India!

7. Conclusion

As I have noted in the ‘introduction’ chapter, South Asian landmass has been very diverse in terms of people and society, as well as much decentralised in terms of political processes. And the discerning readers of ‘The Saker’ website who all are reading this article, must have concluded that even the political entity of ‘partitioned India’ would be very similar to its parent, the Indian subcontinent. Over and above that, widespread and tacit acceptance among the educated Indians about proliferation of (a) corrupt (b) criminal (c) uneducated ‘leaders’ across all non-Marxist political parties, resulted in such an impasse, that it is herculean task for any mainstream political party to steer present India away from being a ‘corporate-state’ into a ‘welfare state’. Only a Marxist political party that TRULY represent the downtrodden 90% of population which has been under repression by the class-caste combined institution for at least one millennium, can lead future India where everyone gets full security of food, education, and employment, and neither ‘developmental’ projects of the oligarchy trample human rights of poor citizens nor the citizens block economically beneficial environment-friendly large projects.

I would like to share couple of distinctly personal thoughts about Indian subcontinent:

  • Apart from the ruling oligarchy and their policy implementation team in all 3 countries – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh – nobody among 90% common people were benefitted in the long run from the partition of Indian subcontinent. Primarily, small group of 1% oligarch families consisting of bankers-merchants-industrialists-big landlords-politicians-bureaucrats that managed the politics plus economy, by and large, reaped all sorts of benefits during past 73 years from old class-caste institutions;
  • 90% common people in all 3 countries are kept busy with all sorts of divisive issues that were/are created by and sustained by the ruling oligarchy. Fissures along the lines of caste-clan-religion-region-language-education etc. were/are continuously created and publicised to maintain the division among common people so that, they never unite across the country on common economic and political agenda. During past 73 years, time and again real possibilities of mass movement got defeated due to the confusion generated among common people (by the ruling elites cutting across political party lines) using such divisive issues;
  • More often than not it has been found that after winning an election the political party that come to power don’t bother about the pre-election promises on different aspects; could there be amendment in constitution in the way of inclusion of article/clause whereby the performance of the political party that comes to power would be judged vis-à-vis their election manifesto?

As on date, India is firmly moving on the path of Indonesia model – as it happened in post-Sukarno Indonesia, the 90% population disowned by the State but owned by the Clergy, don’t have opportunity for getting ‘education’ (different from concept of ‘literacy’), and hence don’t go through the pain of realisation that they are being thoroughly screwed from-cradle-to-grave by vote-seeking politician, profit-seeking businessmen, and attendance-seeking clergy (more often than not, these three wings of oligarchy are rolled into one within an elite family where different family members establish themselves in a particular wing – family uses all those wings to accumulate ‘wealth’ and ‘power’ for generations). Only difference in BJP’s India is ‘clergy’ belongs to RSS and not to Muslim fundamentalists as in Indonesia.

Socio-economic as well as socio-political future is uncertain in India, possibilities galore. Future is wide open for the oppressed masses in India to even create revolutionary history, may be through a path that blends Russian revolution and Chinese revolution or may be through an altogether different path that directly leads towards a community-ownership of all means of production. But that would be only possible if a revolutionary Marxist party crystallises with coming together of Communist splinter groups who still have ideological existence, and all of them relinquish their inhibitions about others, publish a single manifesto based on current realities of India, make a long-term strategy and formulate mid-term plan, educate and unite the oppressed masses without sidestepping the class-caste conundrum. The Marxists have a long way to go. And, for the sake of 90% Indians, they need to embark on the journey afresh.

I would welcome any criticism from readers that is backed by facts and appropriate and correct data analysis. Though I have taken utmost care to present statistics directly from publications by government of India and globally acclaimed institutions, there could still be inadvertent mistakes.

Finally, before ending, I must acknowledge that in many aspects of this lengthy article – the basic hypothesis, and analysis of social-political-economic aspects – my father’s inputs were freely used that he imparted to me during 2006 – 2010 when I used to be informally part of his study-circle.

Reference:

  1. The Cambridge Economic History of India Volume 2
  2. The Corporation that Changed the World by Nick Robins
  3. Class Structure and Economic Growth: India & Pakistan since the Mughals by A. Maddison

Short profile:

By profession I’m an Engineer and Consultant, but my first love was and is History and Political Science. In retired life, I’m pursuing higher study in Economics.

I’m one of the few decade-old members of The Saker blog-site. Hope that this website will continue to focus on truth and justice in public life and will support the struggle of common people across the world.

A nature-lover since childhood, I’m an Indian by nationality with firm belief in humanity.

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

Source

By Godfree Roberts selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China

October 16, 2020

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

Editorial : Before we start with Godfree’s news, a short commentary on Pompeo’s attempt to create an type of NATO by way of the QUAD.  Plot Spoiler – did not work.

From Moon of Alabama

The US administration revived the 2007-2008 Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and rebranded it as the U.S.-Australia-India-Japan Consultations Quad. The aim was to turn it into an Asian NATO under U.S. command:

The U.S. State Department’s No. 2 diplomat said Monday that Washington was aiming to “formalize” growing strategic ties with India, Japan and Australia in a forum known as “the Quad” — a move experts say is implicitly designed to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region.“It is a reality that the Indo-Pacific region is actually lacking in strong multilateral structures. They don’t have anything of the fortitude of NATO, or the European Union,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said in an online seminar on the sidelines of the annual U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum.

The end of this meeting was disappointing for Pompeo as he could not even break through to a joint statement.  It is not that Mr Pompeo’s diplomacy failed, it is just that nobody is interested any longer.

MK Bhadrakumar, a very well known and now retired Indian career diplomat describes the Indian stance on the Quad meeting and the aftermath as well as the ASEAN positioning.

“The heart of the matter is that India has no reason to be the US’ pillion rider. Whatever remained of the US’ exceptionalism is also gone as the world witnesses its pitiable struggle with Covid-19, repeated displays of racism, gun violence, political venality, xenophobia. No wonder, the transatlantic alliance is withering and Europeans are dissociating from the US’ effort to “contain” China.

The US created the ASEAN but today no Asian security partner wants to choose between America and China. The ASEAN cannot be repurposed to form a coalition to counter China. Thus, no claimant against China in the South China Sea is prepared to join the US in its naval fracas with China.

China has resources, including money, to offer its partners, whereas, the US budget is in chronic deficit and even routine government operations must now be funded with debt. It needs to find resources needed to keep its human and physical infrastructure at levels competitive with those of China and other great economic powers.

Why on earth should India get entangled in this messy affair whose climax is a foregone conclusion? No, things should never be allowed to reach such a pass that India needs to tackle a China-Pakistan collusion.”


from Here Comes China and we start with protest in Thailand

[Ed.] As the lead-up to these protests are very similar to those others that we’ve seen, we have to come to conclusions that these are not grassroots, but the flames are fanned by outside influence.  I cannot help but consider and speculate that Quad Attempt failure may have kicked off this new attempt at influence. 

US efforts to overthrow the Thai government by funding and backing anti-government groups stems from Thailand’s growing ties with China and Washington’s desire to reverse them. China is currently Thailand’s largest trade partner, largest foreign investor, largest source of tourism, largest arms supplier, and a key partner in several major infrastructure projects including Thailand’s rollout of 5G telecommunication technology and a regional high-speed rail network.

Having clearly failed to attract public support since the 2014 coup ousting Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister from power and since 2019 after vowing to reverse the outcome of general elections the opposition squarely lost – protesters have resorted to increasingly violent and confrontational tactics to attract attention and provoke a government response they and their Western media partners want to portray to the world as “crimes” in order to invite wider Western pressure and possibly even intervention.

There are now fears that – having failed to attract public support – the protests will attempt to trigger violence to have their Western media sponsors spin as government-initiated and used as the Western media has in other nations targeted by similar US-backed “soft power” interventions to pressure the Thai government to step down or at the very least sow chaos and clear the way for sanctions and other punitive measures aimed at targeting Thailand’s economy and international standings. The protest leaders have demonstrated extraordinarily poor judgement and leadership throughout their protest campaign – not unlike other US-funded agitators such as in Hong Kong, China. Since their movement is ultimately directed by foreign interests seeking more to agitate China and those doing business with it than actually deliver “victory” to the protesters themselves – the protesters were always seen as expendable – with chaos always more preferable than  building a genuine, constructive, and sustainable opposition. –Tony Cartalucci – ATN. [MORE]


To counter some of the Xinjiang propaganda:

Xinjiang received 15 mln visitors during the holidayup 11% yoy. Tourism revenue during the holiday reached US$1.24 billion U.S. dollars.[MORE]

José Freitas wrote to say that you may have been unable to open Daniel Dumbrill’s Xinjiang links in last week’s issue, so I added more resources from the Qiao Collective and published everything to the web.


Christine Hong’s ‘A Violent Peace’: Race, U.S. Militarism, and Cultures of Democratization in Cold War Asia and the Pacific, arrives at a time when Washington’s Indo Pacific Strategy is driving U.S. political, economic, and military confrontation in the Asia-Pacific, as the culmination of a long process that began in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. A Violent Peace examines how the United States sought to encompass the Asia-Pacific “within the securitized contours of U.S. military empire,” and the responses to that policy by “a range of people’s struggles – black freedom, Asian liberation, and Pacific Islander decolonization.”

Hong focuses her political analysis through the the literary and artistic lens of relevant works by black authors Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin, Japanese writer Kenzaburō Ōe, Japanese-American artist Miné Okubo, and Philippine-American novelist Carlos Bulosan.

Following World War II, the United States swiftly expanded its military presence in the region and established and supported reactionary client states. It aimed to roll back socialism and pursue economic, political, and military domination throughout the region. Those goals remain unchanged to this day. As Hong writes: “Understanding the role of U.S. police and war power within the political economy of postwar U.S. ‘democracy’ entails critically revisiting World War II’s structural legacies. How we explain postwar U.S. militarism—its reliance on superior force to achieve political ends in foreign and domestic arenas—depends on our grappling with the transformation of the United States during World War II, a time of Jim Crow, into a boundary-blurring, total-war state, permanently mobilized not only for war abroad but also for war at its very core.”

The United States imposed regional postwar democratization and development based on how it defined those terms. This was a political project that was “realized at the barrel of a gun,” subsuming Asian and Pacific nations into American military and police power projection that encircled China and the Soviet Union.

The U.S. introduced a democratization model that established postwar Japan as an important client state and anchor for the projection of U.S. war power throughout the region. Rehabilitating capitalism and providing opportunities for Western investors were prioritized as goals over meeting the people’s needs, despite the fact that many Japanese urban areas lay in ruins, and the population faced food shortages and mass unemployment.

For U.S. capitalism, a more pressing task than improving peoples’ quality of life was to solidify a system that would serve U.S. power, and the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps “enlisted the Japanese police in routing out labor organizers with alleged Communist Party ties.” This policy planted “the ideological seeds of anticommunist U.S. police actions to come,” including the wars in Korea and Vietnam. “In the dawning Cold War order, wartime allies thereby morphed into peacetime targets whereas former rightist foes in Japan and the region were rehabilitated as linchpins of anticommunism.”

The Marshall Islands served as a sacrificial offering to U.S. nuclear weapons development. The disregard shown by U.S. officials toward islanders is stunning in its inhumanity. Residents of three islands that were downwind from the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb test on March 1, 1954 were not evacuated until three days later, by which time their “hair began falling out in clumps” and “their skin displayed burn patterns.” In the view of American officials, U.S. administrative control over the islands trumped the territorial rights of the inhabitants, giving the United States “the right to close areas for security reasons,” as it “anticipated closing them for atomic tests.”

Returning the Rongelapese to their contaminated homes was regarded by American researchers as an opportunity that would “afford most valuable ecological radiation data on human beings.” What better test subjects could there be? As Merril Eisenbud, director of the Atomic Energy Commission’s Health and Safety Laboratory, observed in an internal 1956 memorandum, “While it is true that these people do not live…the way Westerners do, civilized people, it is nevertheless true that these people are more like us than mice.” One may question just who is civilized and who is uncivilized in designating Marshallese people as “model organisms for biomedical study.”

As Marshallese politician Tony deBrum noted, “Some of our people were injected with or coerced to drink fluids laced with radiation. Other experimentation involved the purposeful and premature resettlement on islands highly contaminated by weapons tests to study how human beings absorb radiation from their foods and environment.” Hong observes that in this context, “no Marshallese could sustain the illusion that near-likeness meant an assurance of their humanity.”

Although the Marshallese were routinely denied medical care, U.S. researchers diligently conducted examinations and blood tests to gather data. Noting islander resentment, researcher Robert Conrad suggested that “next trip we should consider giving them more treatment or even placebos.” In a scathing public letter to Conrad in 1975, Rongelap magistrate Nelson Anjain wrote: “There is no question about your technical competence, but we often wonder about your humanity.”

U.S. policy in the postwar Philippines followed a familiar pattern, prioritizing opportunities for Western investors to exploit the land, labor, and natural resources. The United States “installed, most flagrantly in the office of the president, Filipino collaborators with the Japanese” and “secured military basing rights, transforming the Philippines into a launching pad for its anticommunist insurgencies in the region.” Inevitably, leftist guerrillas who had fought against Imperial Japanese occupation discovered that with the advent of peace, they were transformed into “targets of brutal U.S.-backed counterinsurgency campaigns.”

Postwar decolonization in the Asia-Pacific generally failed to free the region’s nations from domination, transferring that relationship from Imperial Japan to the United States. “Having returned in the garb of antifascist liberator,” Hong observes, “the United States erected a formidable extraterritorial garrison state, unleashing catastrophic violence throughout the region and placing the Asian communist opponents of Japanese fascism in its war machine’s crosshairs.”

In contrast to the punishment meted out to erstwhile wartime allies, the United States installed in power many of those who had collaborated with Japanese occupiers, valuing their experience in fighting against liberation movements. Hong points out, “In rehabilitating the empire it succeeded, the Pax Americana, as a military-imperial regime in its own right, strategically gave new life to subfascist figures who had served under the Japanese, thus thwarting the process of decolonization.”

U.S. power abroad is interrelated to issues of class and race at home. As was often the case when American soldiers encountered the local citizenry in Vietnam, there was and is a mirrored pattern at home. In both environments, “racial profiling presumes guilt not just by association but by location, sweepingly conflating racialized humanity with areas where ‘mere presence in a certain place’ is tantamount to a crime.” In that context, people are erased as individuals and incorporated into the category of “perceived threat.”

In the postwar era, the persistence of black exclusion from U.S. society contrasted with the image of inclusion provided through the U.S. military’s desegregation. This “liberal cover of integration, coalition, multiculturalism, and democratization” masked what was mainly “un-visible” to the U.S. domestic population – the “U.S. national security apparatus, military-industrial complex, empire of bases, and permanent war economy.” The military offered a politically equivocal personal emancipatory model that was essentially “extractive and destructive.” The “harnessing of race to the war machine required that racial labor risk its own obliteration” in performing its role in a “lethal agenda geared toward the devastation of distant lifeworlds.” The image of the military’s inclusivity “belied the U.S. war machine’s brute geopolitics and antihumanism.”

Black radical appeals to the United Nations General Assembly, such as W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1947 petition and William Patterson’s 1951 indictment We Charge Genocide, outlined a structural relationship between U.S. domestic and foreign policy, “construing racism within the United States to be the domestic expression of a global pattern of U.S. imperialism.” These appeals fell victim to intensifying Cold War pressures and the unequal power relationship between imperialism and Third World nations. Patterson approached several UN delegations, only to be informed that while they were in sympathy with the appeal, “championing such a petition, no matter how valid, would not be diplomatically prudent.” The United Nation’s human rights program was, and remains so today, inextricably bound with U.S. power. “Any account of black radical human rights as an oppositional politics,” Hong explains, “thus must theorize U.S. dominance in the Cold War system, the very institutional basis for human rights that emerged out of World War II’s ashes.”

U.S. domestic repression against oppositional voices during the Vietnam War, including COINTELPRO, the CIA’s Operation CHAOS, and other repressive mechanisms, blurred the distinction between the home front and war front, unleashing a “national security juggernaut” against “Americans perceived to be enemies.” The methods deployed against activists and organizers “uneasily mirrored, though by no means on the same scale, U.S. strategies of pacification and neutralization in Vietnam.”

Racial counterintelligence aimed to neutralize enemies both at home and abroad. “Predictably,” Hong notes, “each author of black radical human rights petitions to the UN – Du Bois, Patterson, Newton, and Seale – as well as key affiliates like Robeson, would be subjected to counterintelligence investigation.” Hundreds of thousands of American citizens were the targets of investigation and surveillance, while COINTELPRO engaged in burglaries, disinformation programs, and efforts to create discord and conflict within oppositional groups. “The vast military-industrial complex and intelligence apparatus that emerged from World War II paved the way” for police militarization and human rights violations throughout the “U.S. military empire, including at its imperial core.”

In the space of a short review, it is only possible to touch on a few of the book’s themes. A Violent Peace covers a much broader spectrum of topics, from which even the most knowledgeable reader will find much to learn. Christine Hong has written a profound and multilayered analysis of the U.S. military’s role in the postwar Asia-Pacific, and its relationship to militarized repression at home. Enriched by a deeply sympathetic understanding of black and Asian oppositional voices, Hong’s book exposes the reality behind comforting myths about the American democratization mission.

With great eloquence, she draws insightful connections between race, class, and power, while vividly demonstrating how the expansion of U.S. power into the Asia-Pacific in the postwar era has led to the world we live in today. Deeply considered and thought-provoking, A Violent Peace is essential to understanding our current predicament. [AMAZON]


Cover Art : A 75-minute bidding battle broke out as collectors competed to acquire Ren Renfa’s

Five Drunken Princes Returning on Horseback,

a late 13th / early 14th scroll from the Yuan dynasty. Over 100 bids pushed the final sale price to US$39,555,000, well beyond the pre-high estimate of US$15,484,000. The sum establishes the scroll as the most valuable work sold at auction in Asia in 2020, and the most valuable Chinese ink painting sold by Sotheby’s Hong Kong.  Ren’s masterpiece was already highly prized duringf the Ming dynasty, in the words of painter Zhang Ning (1426-1496), “Black, Yellow, Red, White, and Mottled Horses. Every horse is worth a thousand taels of gold.”

Selections and editorial comments by Amarynth.  (Go Get that newsletter – it again is packed with detail).

More Pressure On Russia Will Have No Effect

20 years of Vladimir Putin in power: a timeline.

Source

October 17, 2020

Over the last years the U.S. and its EU puppies have ratcheted up their pressure on Russia. They seem to believe that they can compel Russia to follow their diktat. They can’t. But the illusion that Russia will finally snap, if only a few more sanctions ar applied or a few more houses in Russia’s neighborhood are set on fire, never goes away.

As Gilbert Doctorow describes the situation:

The fires burning at Russia’s borders in the Caucasus are an add-on to the disorder and conflict on its Western border in neighboring Belarus, where fuel is poured on daily by pyromaniacs at the head of the European Union acting surely in concert with Washington.

Yesterday we learned of the decision of the European Council to impose sanctions on President Lukashenko, a nearly unprecedented action when directed against the head of state of a sovereign nation.

It is easy enough to see that the real intent of the sanctions is to put pressure on the Kremlin, which is Lukashenko’s guarantor in power, to compound the several other measures being implemented simultaneously in the hope that Putin and his entourage will finally crack and submit to American global hegemony as Europe did long ago.

The anti-Russia full tilt ahead policy outlined above is going on against a background of the U.S. presidential electoral campaigns. The Democrats continue to try to depict Donald Trump as “Putin’s puppy,” as if the President has been kindly to his fellow autocrat while in office. Of course, under the dictates of the Democrat-controlled House and with the complicity of the anti-Russian staff in the State Department, in the Pentagon, American policy towards Russia over the entire period of Trump’s presidency has been one of never ending ratcheting up of military, informational, economic and other pressures in the hope that Vladimir Putin or his entourage would crack. Were it not for the nerves of steel of Mr. Putin and his close advisers, the irresponsible pressure policies outlined above could result in aggressive behavior and risk taking by Russia that would make the Cuban missile crisis look like child’s play.

The U.S. arms industry lobby, in form of the Atlantic Council, confirms the ‘western’ strategy Doctorow describes. It calls for ‘ramping up on Russia’ with even more sanctions:

Key to raising the costs to Russia is a more proactive transatlantic strategy for sanctions against the Russian economy and Putin’s power base, together with other steps to reduce Russian energy leverage and export revenue. A new NATO Russia policy should be pursued in tandem with the European Union (EU), which sets European sanctions policy and faces the same threats from Russian cyberattacks and disinformation. At a minimum, EU sanctions resulting from hostilities in Ukraine should be extended, like the Crimea sanctions, for one year rather than every six months. Better yet, allies and EU members should tighten sanctions further and extend them on an indefinite basis until Russia ends its aggression and takes concrete steps toward de-escalation.

It also wants Europe to pay for weapons in the Ukraine and Georgia:

A more dynamic NATO strategy for Russia should go hand in hand with a more proactive policy toward Ukraine and Georgia in the framework of an enhanced Black Sea strategy. The goal should be to boost both partners’ deterrence capacity and reduce Moscow’s ability to undermine their sovereignty even as NATO membership remains on the back burner for the time being.

As part of this expanded effort, European allies should do more to bolster Ukraine and Georgia’s ground, air, and naval capabilities, complementing the United States’ and Canada’s efforts that began in 2014.

The purpose of the whole campaign against Russia, explains the Atlantic Council author, is to subordinate it to U.S. demands:

Relations between the West and Moscow had begun to deteriorate even before Russia’s watershed invasion of Ukraine, driven principally by Moscow’s fear of the encroachment of Western values and their potential to undermine the Putin regime. With the possibility of a further sixteen years of Putin’s rule, most experts believe relations are likely to remain confrontational for years to come. They argue that the best the United States and its allies can do is manage this competition and discourage aggressive actions from Moscow. However, by pushing back against Russia more forcefully in the near and medium term, allies are more likely to eventually convince Moscow to return to compliance with the rules of the liberal international order and to mutually beneficial cooperation as envisaged under the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.

The ‘rules of the liberal international order’ are of course whatever the U.S. claims they are. They may change at any moment and without notice to whatever new rules are the most convenient for U.S. foreign policy.

But as Doctorow said above, Putin and his advisors stay calm and ignore such trash despite all the hostility expressed against them.

One of Putin’s close advisors is of course Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In a wide ranging interview with Russian radio stations he recently touched on many of the issues Doctorow also mentions. With regards to U.S. strategy towards Russia Lavrov diagnoses:

Sergey Lavrov: […] You mentioned in one of your previous questions that no matter what we do, the West will try to hobble and restrain us, and undermine our efforts in the economy, politics, and technology. These are all elements of one approach.

Question: Their national security strategy states that they will do so.

Sergey Lavrov: Of course it does, but it is articulated in a way that decent people can still let go unnoticed, but it is being implemented in a manner that is nothing short of outrageous.

Question: You, too, can articulate things in a way that is different from what you would really like to say, correct?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s the other way round. I can use the language I’m not usually using to get the point across. However, they clearly want to throw us off balance, and not only by direct attacks on Russia in all possible and conceivable spheres by way of unscrupulous competition, illegitimate sanctions and the like, but also by unbalancing the situation near our borders, thus preventing us from focusing on creative activities. Nevertheless, regardless of the human instincts and the temptations to respond in the same vein, I’m convinced that we must abide by international law.

Russia does not accept the fidgety ‘rules of the liberal international order’.  Russia sticks to the law which is, in my view, a much stronger position. Yes, international law often gets broken. But as Lavrov said elsewhere, one does not abandon traffic rules only because of road accidents.

Russia stays calm, no matter what outrageous nonsense the U.S. and EU come up with. It can do that because it knows that it not only has moral superiority by sticking to the law but it also has the capability to win a fight. At one point the interviewer even jokes about that:

Question: As we say, if you don’t listen to Lavrov, you will listen to [Defense Minister] Shoigu.

Sergey Lavrov: I did see a T-shirt with that on it. Yes, it’s about that.

Yes, it’s about that. Russia is militarily secure and the ‘west’ knows that. It is one reason for the anti-Russian frenzy. Russia does not need to bother with the unprecedented hostility coming from Brussels and Washington. It can ignore it while taking care of its interests.

As this is so obvious one must ask what the real reason for the anti-Russian pressure campaign is. What do those who argue for it foresee as its endpoint?

Posted by b on October 17, 2020 at 16:31 UTC | Permalink

Two Misfortunes Dissolve the Saudi Crown Prince within a Week

Two Misfortunes Dissolve the Saudi Crown Prince within a Week

By AlKhaleej Today

According to a high-level source to “Saudi WikiLeaks,” the recommendation of the European Parliament to reduce the level of representation at the G20 summit to be hosted by Riyadh, via video link on November 21-22, “was a strong shock to the Crown Prince.”

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that bin Salman had “gone crazy” and proceeded to smash the contents of his office and shout at his aides.

The source stated that the Crown Prince made several contacts that evening with European personalities. To know the merits of the parliamentary decision, however, these personalities “did not give anything to the prince, who aspires to present his achievements at the next summit.”

The European Parliament called for a reduction in the level of representation at the G20 summit to be hosted by Riyadh, via video link on November 21-22. Because of human rights violations inside and outside the Kingdom.

Parliament issued its statement last Thursday with this recommendation to the European Union and its member states, and said that its goal is to avoid legitimizing impunity for human rights violations and illegal and arbitrary detentions in Saudi Arabia.

Parliament called in a letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to place human rights at the center of all discussions of the G20.

The message urged that the summit event be used to demand the release of all prisoners of conscience and women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, and for real accountability for those involved in the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The other disaster, revealed by the “Tactical Report” website, concerned with intelligence affairs, after US President Donald Trump was infected with the Corona virus.

Reports from Riyadh quoted the Saudi crown prince as saying: The kingdom should be prepared for changes in Saudi-American relations if Democratic candidate “Joe Biden” wins over President Trump in the upcoming US presidential elections in November.

Bin Salman added: The election of Biden will turn the situation upside down in the United States, and will force the Kingdom to take new matters into consideration.

He revealed that these concerns increased regarding the results of the US elections after the announcement of President Trump’s infection with the Corona virus. In addition, there are many reports from the Saudi embassy in Washington indicating that Biden’s chances of winning are increasing.

The crown prince recently contacted a number of President Trump’s close aides, particularly his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

“Kushner” assured the Saudi crown prince that the poll results are not confirmed and that the percentage of voters who support “Trump” will increase during the remaining four weeks before the elections. However, Kushner’s assurances did not convince Bin Salman.

Anticipating any “surprises”, bin Salman asked the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Princess Rima Bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, to obtain details from within the Democratic Party regarding the current course of the situation.

Princess Reema was also tasked with inquiring about the opinions of senior Democratic officials about the future of Saudi-American relations in the event Biden becomes president.

The Saudi crown prince was also very concerned about Biden’s recent statements, which pledged to reassess US relations with Saudi Arabia if elected.

Until the past two weeks, bin Salman showed little interest in Biden’s statements, as he relied on President Trump’s confidence and on reports from Washington that claimed that Biden had no chances of winning.

However, recent events in the United States, including Trump’s admission to a military hospital, have changed the views of the Saudi crown prince in this regard.

And the famous American journalist Bob Woodward revealed in his latest book entitled “Anger” that Trump boasted that he had succeeded in “rescuing” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on October 2, 2018, inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul.

The excerpts of the book revealed that Trump boasted, in one of their recorded interviews, that he had succeeded in “saving” bin Salman, whom Congress held responsible for the assassination of Khashoggi.

In his new book, “Anger,” which the Business Insider news site published excerpts from, Woodward recounts how Trump told him in an interview he had on January 22 that “I saved him,” in response to a question about bin Salman’s relationship with the murder.

According to the journalist, Trump made clear in the recorded interview that he had prevented Congress from pursuing bin Salman. Trump said, according to these excerpts: “I succeeded in getting Congress to leave it alone. I succeeded in stopping them.”

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia, Moscow, October 5, 2020

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia, Moscow, October 5, 2020

October 08, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Mr Vanderplaetse,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Colleagues,

Thank you for the opportunity to address once again the members of the Association of European Businesses in the Russian Federation. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the 25th anniversary of your association. We appreciate your efforts to promote our economic, investment and trade ties, laying a solid foundation for building good relations between us and the countries you represent.

Here at the Foreign Ministry we value opportunities for dialogue with European entrepreneurs aimed at pushing forward a pragmatic, politics-free and mutually beneficial agenda. At the end of the day, these efforts are designed to improve the wellbeing of the people in Russia and in your countries. Holding regular meetings in this format has become a good tradition, testifying to our mutual commitment to keeping this dialogue going.

Since our previous meeting last year, in fact more than a year ago, the overall global environment has not become any easier, seriously affecting business activity. For many years now, the problems of international terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime have been escalating around the world. Regional conflicts continue unabated and their number is growing. Recently, the coronavirus infection emerged as a new and a very serious challenge for all of humanity. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it changed the lives of billions of people overnight. Today, no one can say with certainty when the pandemic will end. I will not elaborate here on how the interruption of global supply chains affects global trade. Unemployment is on the rise in many countries. All this weighs on the global economy, which will have to go through a lengthy and probably challenging recovery.

Speaking broadly, in the global context, the pandemic has yet again highlighted what we have long been talking about, that all countries without exception are interconnected, regardless of their geography, size and the level of economic development. All of them have been affected. This is how the pandemic has shown again that cross-border issues cannot be disregarded in this globalised world.

We believed that the conclusion was obvious, that the common tasks and challenges should bring all of us together based on the universally recognised norms of international law. Regrettably, this has not happened so far.  Quite to the contrary, some of our Western colleagues led by the United States have tried to take advantage of the novel coronavirus crisis to promote their narrow interests even more energetically and to settle scores with their geopolitical rivals. The appeals by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to suspend the illegitimate unilateral sanctions at least during the pandemic, primarily to allow the delivery of medicines and medical equipment as well as the necessary financial transactions, have fallen on deaf ears. Likewise, they have paid no heed to the initiative, put forth by President Vladimir Putin at the online G20 meeting, for setting up green corridors free from trade wars and sanctions to supply medications, food, equipment and technologies. This attitude to unifying initiatives is seriously poisoning the atmosphere of international cooperation and increasing the lack of mutual trust, damaging not only ordinary people, who have been affected first of all, but also the business circles. You know this better than anyone.

These alarming trends have also affected Russia-EU relations. There are hardly any positive achievements to speak about. Since 2014, when the European Union flagrantly violated its own pledge to guarantee the agreement between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition, it has not just accepted the coup but has actually been encouraging those who seized power in Ukraine illegally and in violation of the Constitution. In particular, the EU has turned a blind eye to the fact that the coup plotters’ policy is based on Russophobia, and that they threatened to oust Russians from Crimea and tried to browbeat the Russian-speaking regions which refused to recognise the coup and said they wanted to sort out the situation. They were denounced as terrorists, even though they had not attacked anyone, and the army and Ukrainian security forces were sent to fight them. As I said, they have been designated terrorists for refusing to recognise the coup.

Since then, the EU, probably becoming aware of its negative role in these processes but still trying to shift the blame onto someone else. Since 2014, it has ruined the multilevel architecture of interaction between Brussels and Moscow, from summit meetings to over two dozen sectoral dialogues. The programme of four common spaces has been abandoned. To this very day, the normalisation of our relations is being artificially conditioned on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Moreover, they say openly that it is the Russian Federation that must do this. Meanwhile, our Ukrainian colleagues have announced once again through their leaders, as you probably know, that the Minsk agreements should be preserved as the basis of the EU and US sanctions against Russia. This is their logic.

Of course, we will insist on the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures, which has been approved by the UN Security Council, but we will not do this because we want the EU to lift its sanctions. We will do this above all in the interests of the fraternal Ukrainian people, who are suffering from what has been recently going on in Kiev and other parts of their country.

Restrictions are still retained on Russian economic operators’ access to external financial markets. European producers, too, continue to sustain multi-billion losses. The other day, we became aware that Sweden has taken yet another discriminatory step. A Swedish company, Quintus Technologies AB, has refused to supply spare parts for GAZ Group’s industrial press, under an absolutely far-fetched pretext. Allegedly, the equipment is of a military nature and has a dual purpose. This is absolutely artificial logic. This press has been in use since 2009, and never before, including the entire period of crisis in our relations after the coup in Ukraine, have the Swedish regulators entertained any doubts. Judging by all appearances, this is by far not the last example, where the wish to curry favour with those who lay down the West’s geopolitical line prevails over commonsense and own interests. Of course, this will also affect Swedish businesses that cooperate with the GAZ Group and the company’s employees.

Regrettably, we have to state that the EU agencies continue their shortsighted policies. In particular, this refers to the EU member countries that have proclaimed themselves “frontline” states. Their mood is also “frontline” and they pursue “frontline” policies. Let me note that in July, the EU set into motion, under an absolutely far-fetched pretext, its 2019 framework for unilateral sanctions against violations of certain “rules” in the cyberspace, which rules have not yet been coordinated on a universal basis. Invented last year, this generic regime, as they decided, should be “test-driven” in practice over Russian citizens. Without providing any real evidence, they have accused them of launching a cyber attack against the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. Created in 2019, this regime is not the only one of its kind. The EU has spawned, also within its “inner circle,” yet another generic regime punishing violations in the field of employment of toxic chemicals, or, to put it in a nutshell, the use of prohibited types of chemicals that are chemical weapons. It is intended to be used in specific situations. I have no doubt that they will be attempting to apply this regime to the situation involving Alexey Navalny. Moreover, there is no need to “test-drive” or discuss the facts for this on a universal basis either.

Our French colleagues, again unilaterally, have established the so-called “partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons,” a structure outside of the UN or any universal and generally approved international legal framework. But a narrow circle of soul-mates will establish so called “facts,” whereupon a unilaterally created EU organisation intended to punish those who are allegedly guilty of violations will approve sanctions, based on these unilaterally established “facts.” All of this is sad and makes one think that our Western colleagues’ talk of the need for everyone to respect the rules-based order is not just a figure of speech or a synonym of the need to respect international law, but a conscious policy to substitute unilateral and illegitimate actions for the universal international legal framework that requires a consensus of all states in order to approve relevant conventions.

We are interested in establishing the truth regarding Alexey Navalny. That said, this is an outrageous situation that is unfolding following the exact same scenario as in the so-called Skripal case, when accusations were made without presenting any evidence. As you are aware, Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office sent requests under the 1959 European Convention for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters to the relevant agencies in Germany, France and Sweden, where the required tests were allegedly carried out. Under the protocols to this convention they were asked to share information on the results of these tests. We were told that no action will be taken under this convention, which in itself is a violation, and that the results were handed over to the OPCW. They told us to wait for this organisation to release the results of its tests. However, the OPCW informed us that they continue investigating this matter and the samples they collected (it is unclear who collected them and when). We were told that once they are finished, they will communicate the results to Germany, since the request came from there, leaving it to Germany to decide whether to share this information with us. This is a travesty of common sense, and I believe that everyone understands this, including our Western colleagues who deny our requests that are based on a binding international convention. It seems that their Russophobic fervour is so strong that it prevents them from exercising good judgement.

We regret that trade and economic cooperation is becoming increasingly politicised. I have just cited some examples. Trade and economy have always been viewed as a safety net in relations among nations. Nowadays though, things seem to have shifted into a somewhat different phase. I remember so well that in 2014 German businesses called on the European Union and its agencies not to place politics above the economy in its approach to Ukrainian affairs. At the time it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said that there are cases when politics must be above economics. This is regrettable.

We are now witnessing another example. The European Commission has drafted a report with a long title: Report on Significant Distortions in the Economy of the Russian Federation for the Purpose of Trade Defence Investigations. You probably understand what this is all about. The document is clearly biased and can lead to new restrictions on the access of Russian goods to the EU market. You know that this will definitely prompt us to reply. In particular, this report presents regulatory measures that are totally legitimate, including in energy, transport and labour resources, as distortions in the Russian economy. We also have questions regarding another EU initiative. I am referring to the key element of the European Green Deal, the so-called carbon border adjustment mechanism. Brussels said that it will be enacted not later than on January 1, 2023 in one form or another. For now, we are looking into what this initiative actually means. We do hope that this mechanism would not contradict the World Trade Organisation (WTO) norms and will not lead to “trade protectionism on climate issues.” We would like to avoid having to take retaliatory measures. I believe now is not the time for trade wars, even in the current politicised environment.

I will not elaborate too much on the games with Nord Stream 2. It all started quite a few years ago when the EU retrospectively amended the gas directive within its Third Energy Package just to make it harder to carry out this project. This ran counter to all legal norms and established practices approved by all countries. It was with great difficulty that compromises were found. This did not prevent things from going awry afterwards. When the end of the project was on the horizon, a new factor emerged in the form of the heavy hand of the United States that stated its open and unscrupulous intention to derail this project for Russia and the Europeans in order to force the US LNG on the Europeans. They are franticly creating LNG capabilities. Washington claims that these measures are designed to support US producers. This is a gloves-off approach free from any ethical boundaries. They do not seem to be concerned with the fact that higher costs for buying expensive gas will undermine the competitiveness of entire European manufacturing sectors. In fact, this suits the US.

Politicised energy cooperation is yet another blow at the foundations of what we call European security. Energy is the area of cooperation dating back over 50 years. We recently marked the anniversary with our Austrian colleagues. Energy was always left outside any forms of confrontation during the Cold War. Our joint energy programme and cooperation have survived the dissolution of some states and the formation of others; they have always served the long-term interests of all European nations, including the Russian Federation.

Protectionism and other barriers and restrictions will only aggravate the economic situation, which is already complicated. By the way, we noted that the BusinessEurope Confederation of European Business recently published recommendations aimed at protecting European businesses amidst sanctions-related restrictions. The document directly states that the weaponisation of the sanctions policy to pursue economic interests is unacceptable. It may seem obvious but as things go nowadays, it takes a lot of courage to say something as obvious as this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Russian leadership is implementing measures to support the public and businesses in the face of COVID-19 related problems. We are doing everything we can, considering certain minimum requirements of the epidemiological authorities, to help return foreign workers to Russia, which you are well aware of. You have made respective requests and requests continue to come in. We will continue to process them promptly. We expect that, according to the forecasts made in Russia and foreign capitals (including multilateral institutions), the depth of the economic decline in our country will not be as significant as in many other countries, including the eurozone.

Our potential for countering infectious diseases is becoming increasingly more effective. We have learned a lot while taking practical measures to fight this challenge. Relying on our past experience in countering various pandemics, we managed to develop a series of test systems to diagnose the coronavirus and launch the production of drugs to treat it efficiently. As you know, we registered the Sputnik V vaccine. Registration of one or two more vaccines developed by the Vector Research Centre is being finalised. We support sharing experience in this area and cooperating with all interested countries because it is important for overcoming the consequences of our common emergency once and for all. As you know, speaking at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly via videoconference, President Vladimir Putin proposed an initiative of holding a high-level online conference involving the states interested in cooperation on developing coronavirus vaccines. We hope to receive a constructive response to this important proposal.

Before concluding my opening remarks, I would just like to say a few more words about the main subject on our agenda today: as we have already seen more than once, economic interdependence can be both a boon and a bane. I don’t really think that anything good will come out of this if the EU continues to see its partners as some “appendages” of the Eurocentric world. The world that was based on the central role of Europe has become history, not regrettably or happily but objectively. The drivers of economic growth and political influence are now in the East. The new polycentric reality calls for new approaches in politics and the economy. The “leader-follower” relationship is no longer tenable. What we need now is respect for the fundamental principle of equality.

Nowadays we must help the global economy through this difficult period and ensure its consistent post-COVID development. This goal should unite all of us, because this is about the welfare of all nations. We call for finding new growth points in order to overcome the global recession. It is crucial in this respect to combine the potentials of the various integration initiatives that are being implemented throughout Eurasia. This is the objective of President Putin’s initiative on the Greater Eurasian Partnership based on the universal principles of international law and transparency and open to all countries of our huge common continent without exception. You are aware that we are actively promoting dialogue on this subject within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), as well as in relations with ASEAN nations. While doing so, we point out that we would like all countries of our common continent to join this process, both members of regional associations and the unaligned countries. This means that the EU countries could also take a look at this initiative with regard to their own interests, the interests of European businesses, including the possibility of easy access to the rapidly growing markets and new transit routes within the framework of this project. We have a starting point for launching this work in earnest. I am referring to the contacts created at the technical level between the European Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission. We would like these contacts to break out of the restrictions of technical and regulatory issues. We would like our discussions to move over to a political level and to acquire a political vision of the development of Eurasia, which will become a global economic driver – there is no doubt about this.

We firmly believe that it is in our common interests to prevent the appearance of undesirable dividing lines in the new economic spheres created by the new technological paradigm. Energy and industry are becoming ever greener and all spheres of human activity, including the work of economic operators, are being digitalised. It is our strong conviction that this calls for combining efforts rather than trying to play zero sum games again, as was the case in the past. We are ready for cooperation on the broadest possible basis.

Thank you. I am now ready for the interactive part of our meeting.

Question: There is a saying in my native German language that smart people give way in a dispute. What steps would Russia be ready to make in this regard? What opportunities do you see for giving an impetus to this process and putting it back on a more constructive trajectory? What mechanisms and measures do you see for shielding small islands of cooperation from the collateral damage caused by geopolitical rivalry?

Sergey Lavrov: As far as I can see, the way you used this German saying (smart people giving way in a dispute) suggests that you are certain that the West will never give way.

I also see this in the way many of the ongoing developments are unfolding. In particular, this refers to the complaints we hear. Russia invariably owes something regardless of the international matter, be it Syria, Libya or Belarus. The same goes for Alexey Navalny, any cyber affairs and poisonings. But no evidence is presented. Moreover, when we question their claims and findings, in this case I am referring to the Bundeswehr laboratory, or to the Porton Down laboratory in the Skripal case, they see this as an insult. But no evidence was presented. Our German colleagues are now telling us that this is our problem and that the poisoning took place on Russian territory, so they don’t know anything. Go ahead and open a criminal case, but we will not give you anything, they tell us.

By the way, I remember a rather gruesome episode in our relations with Germany when there was a problem in 2016 with Yelizaveta Fesenko, a Russian underage girl. She disappeared and the search continued for quite a long time. She later resurfaced and said that she had been raped. It turned out that she had not been raped but Germany still opened a criminal case on child sexual abuse charges. One of the defendants received a suspended sentence. But when we tried to become involved to help the girl (apart from a German citizenship she also is a citizen of the Russian Federation) and asked our German colleagues to explain what happened, we faced an outpouring of resentment, including a statement by then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said that Russia should not interfere in Germany’s domestic affairs or use this incident for propaganda purposes. This is a similar case. Something happened to a Russian national on German territory. When we asked to explain what had happened they told us that it’s not our business and asked us not to interfere in their domestic affairs. When now we asked our German colleagues to share their findings after analysing Alexey Navalny’s test samples, they referred us to the OPCW. The OPCW referred us to Germany, arguing that it was Germany that filed the request, while Russia should have had the same findings as Berlin. However, the doctors in Omsk passed on to the Germans the results of all the tests they ran and everything they did. When the Germans came to transport Alexey Navalny to Germany, they signed papers confirming that they received all the information. Moreover, Alexey Navalny’s spouse signed a document assuming responsibility for all the consequences of his transfer to Germany, since our doctors were not convinced that this was safe. It is true that they did not find any traces of weapon-grade toxic substances. They honestly said so. Let me draw your attention to the fact that the Charite clinic did not find any toxic agents from the so-called Novichok group in Navalny’s samples either. It was the Bundeswehr clinic that made these findings. We still do not know whether the French and the Swedes collected the samples themselves or the Germans simply passed on these samples to them. The fact that our partners are trying to keep this secret, muddying the waters, is a matter of serious concern for us. We want to get to the truth and will pursue this objective. I don’t know what to do with this. Now we are being accused of the developments in the Central African Republic, and they are trying to pin the blame for something that happened in Mozambique on us as well. We stand accused of everything no matter where it occurs.

When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his deputies and other members of the US administration travel around the world, they openly call on their partners during news conferences in Africa, Greece or elsewhere to stop cooperating with Russia and China. These statements are being made officially and unceremoniously, for everyone to hear. It is difficult for me to say now what concessions we can make when it comes to this situation.

As your board chairman has already mentioned, it is good that the ties with the EU are being revived. Yes, they are indeed being revived, but only in specific areas, such as Syria, Libya and Africa – we have recently held such consultations. However, we do not see a systemic approach to our relations on the global and hugely important political plane.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell is a good friend of mine. We spoke with him earlier  this year on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. In June, we talked for two hours via videoconference. We discussed all topics in great detail. There is a common understanding that we need to review the situation, at least so as to see if the EU policy based on sanctions is really effective. This is for the EU to do. In our opinion, it is a flawed policy. Sanctions damage both those against whom they are applied and those who apply them. You are aware that we are trying to abandon all forms of cooperation that can strengthen our dependence on Europe, including in the fields of technology and agricultural goods. I believe that we have achieved good results with this. We are probably doing this because we are no longer sure that our European partners will honour their commitments. I have cited the example of Nord Stream 2. It would seem that the EU’s Legal Service has long analysed this project and concluded that it is good and does not contradict any EU norms. Nevertheless, the question has been reopened and the rules have been changed. Is this how reliable partners act? Moreover, this is being done contrary to the fact that companies from the five respected “old” EU members were fully interested, and continue to be interested, in the Nord Stream 2 project. But politics has prevailed over business.

Of course, selective dialogue is underway on some specific matters, as you mentioned. We are not abandoning it. But we can see that the EU has been trying to preserve the five guiding principles and only to modernise them (and they are based on the fact that the normalisation of EU’s relations with Russia is conditioned by the implementation of the Minsk agreements by Russia, not by Ukraine). While these futile discussions are underway in the EU and the very aggressive and loud Russophobic minority is preventing any efforts to reassess relations with Russia, very serious analytical processes are gathering momentum in Germany. As far as we know (this information is based on German media reports), experts close to the German Government are developing what they describe as “a new Eastern policy,” which actually amounts to removing the remaining positive parts on our agenda.  Their main arguments, as cited by the press, are that strategic partnership is a thing of the past; that the Partnership for Modernisation, which used to be a symbol of our cooperation with Germany and subsequently with the EU as a whole, has not materialised; and that Russia refused to become an ally for the EU and NATO and hence became their opponent when it comes to fundamental political and ideological aspects of the new international order. I have already said that our Western friends want the new international order to be based on rules rather than international law, and on rules invented in a narrow circle of confederates.

As for selective cooperation, the circles close to the Government who are formulating a new agenda say that such cooperation will be possible only after Russians mend their ways. Amid mental stagnation in Brussels, these processes are gathering momentum first of all in Germany. Geopolitical analysts have probably seen that Germany is becoming the lead player in ensuring a strong and lasting anti-Russia charge in all processes underway in the EU.

We have seen this before. The first sanctions were adopted after an absolutely transparent referendum was held in Crimea and nobody questioned their outcome – US representatives told me so immediately after the referendum. Nobody doubted then, and nobody doubts now, that it was a sincere desire of the Crimean residents. But as soon as this happened, we were told in a quite superior manner that Russia should know that there would be no “business as usual.” We replied that yes, there will be no “business as usual.” You yourself have ruined your standing and reputation when you were spit in the face – excuse my French – by those who terminated the agreement guaranteed by France, Germany and Poland. We know very well that there will be no “business as usual,” but we are nevertheless ready to look for spheres of constructive interaction. But take a look at the current situation. Just a small but telling example regarding Nord Stream 2: the Swedish authorities have cancelled their companies’ permit for cooperation with GAZ. There are more examples of this kind too. The question now is not that there will be no “business as usual,” but that there may be no reliable basis for doing business with Europe in the long term and we cannot be sure that our European partners will honour their commitments. I am not talking about companies. They want to do business, but it is the politicians who are ruling over business now. This is the problem. As I have already said, there is no lack of goodwill or desire to develop normal relations on our part. Just read President Putin’s message of greetings to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel on Germany’s reunification. It clearly says everything. But goodwill cannot be unilateral. It is said that he who is smarter and stronger should take the first step. We probably have grounds to believe that our partners are strong and smart. I really do hope that they think about us in the same way. If there is goodwill on both sides, we can turn the tide. But we do not see any reciprocity so far.

Question: We have noticed these concerns regarding the recent trends that you mentioned, and the articles claiming that the partnership has come to an end. We share these concerns. As an association, we agree that it takes two to tango.

Sergey Lavrov: These days, some prefer breakdancing and you don’t need a partner.

Question: Let’s hope that partner dancing will not go out of style. As an association, we adhere to the principle of independence. We communicate both with Brussels, by voicing our concerns with the current situation, and with officials in Russia. I was very happy to hear your greetings on our anniversary. This year we marked 25 years. We planned to organise a conference using the motto “Russia and Europe in the world of tomorrow: looking back on the past to move towards the future.” How do you see Russia and Europe in the world of tomorrow? What are the most promising areas for continuing the cooperation that has not always been easy but has undoubtedly been productive over these 25 years? What are the key areas for you?

Sergey Lavrov: We spoke about this at length today. If we talk about specific areas, these include, of course, the digital economy, the green economy and everything related to the new types of energy (the Russian-Italian-French thermonuclear reactor project). We have many hi-tech projects with Germany. There is mutual interest. But, again, the political course pursued right now, mainly by the United States, is aimed at preventing any mutually beneficial, promising and competitive economic projects in Europe to be carried out without the American involvement – be it Russia or China. This has been stated openly. Politics is the art of the possible but perhaps, in the current circumstances, the economy is also the art of the possible. As long as the leaders of your countries are capable of protecting the core interests of European businesses, as long as they can protect your competitiveness and as long as they can withstand this pressure.

But, of course, besides the economy, we are deeply concerned about the military and political situation. It is not improving in Europe and, on the contrary, it is becoming more disturbing. By the way, there have been many reports, analysis pieces and articles recently marking the anniversary of the German reunification. Russian television filmed a two-hour documentary, The Wall, which came to a rather sad conclusion: the Berlin Wall was never destroyed; it simply became virtual and moved to the East very close to the Russian border, despite all the promises and assurances. I will not comment on this film right now. I hope you watched it. If you did not, I recommend it because you will understand a lot about the current conditions for the Russia-Europe relations, how the Russian leadership and Russian people remember the times when – and we all know this very well – Russia played the decisive role in the German reunification, by making a huge sacrifice. I am not exaggerating. The withdrawal of our troops was conducted in absolutely cruel and inhumane conditions. We know the real (financial) cost Germany paid for this. We also know that, not that our Western colleagues tried to persuade the Soviet leaders against it but they asked whether they [the Soviet leaders] had thought carefully and whether everybody needed a united Germany. You know the outcome. I find the manner used by some representatives of the German leadership in communication with the Russian Federation not only unacceptable but fully indicative of the fact that the era everybody considered a historic victory of Germans and Russians and eventually the victory of the entire Europe is now completely forgotten. This is unfortunate. I really hope that this anomaly goes away. It cannot reflect the Germans’ true attitude towards Russia. Speaking of which, in a recent public opinion poll, half of the German people across the Federal Republic of Germany, including Western Germany, expressed a positive attitude towards the Russian people. I think the number of people in our country supporting cooperation with Germans will not be less than that. Our historic victory is in overcoming all phobias and focusing on the constructive process in the interests of our nations. Of course, it would be a crime to lose it.

Question: I would like to get back to the issue of highly skilled professionals returning to Russia. We are very grateful for the help we received from the Government of the Russian Federation and, in particular, from the Foreign Ministry. We know that the rules currently in place, the Government Directive No. 635-r of March 16, 2020, is greatly appreciated by our members because it opens a channel for returning highly skilled professionals. However, on the other hand, this process is still complicated and there are many unresolved matters. What are the prospects of relaxing the border crossing regime, especially ahead of the New Year days off?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already spoken on this matter multiple times. The Foreign Ministry will play a secondary role there. Public health is the top priority. Therefore, the epidemiological and sanitary authorities are calling all the shots. We have an Emergency Response Centre headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, the Federal Supervision Service for Consumer Protection and Welfare, the Healthcare Ministry and the Federal Medical-Biological Agency. All these experts are working on the best measures to protect our citizens and our visitors from the danger of contracting the coronavirus.

It is in the interests of the Foreign Ministry to establish contacts as quickly as possible. As you are aware, the aviation authorities are also interested in this – as are the airline companies which are suffering losses and hoping to resume air services as quickly as possible. Once again, the decisions are up to the epidemiologists.

Question: I can see that Russia is trying to shut itself off from the rest of the world by demanding that production facilities be more localised.  We invested about 2 billion and are one of the largest companies. Seventy percent of our products will not be considered Russia-made products in two years. I am urging you to do everything you can to make sure that Russia does not isolate itself from the rest of the world and cooperates with Western companies. Do not force us to resort to localisation which puts us at a disadvantage and which will seem rather strange after we invested 2 billion.

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with the idea that we should not destroy the global forms of cooperation and build barriers. If we look at localisation as a barrier, this logic probably applies here. But again, we need to remember about the strategic goals set for our economy by President Vladimir Putin and the Government. To a great extent, they have to do with the events in our relations of the past six or seven years and with the fact whether the West demonstrated itself as reliable and capable of negotiating in relations with us.

When it comes to localisation, we are not alone. For example, India is rather actively pursuing its Make in India policy and I think it is much more demanding than the localisation policy in the Russian Federation. Overall, I understand your production-related concerns and assume that these issues should be raised with the Government Foreign Investment Advisory Council that is in charge of these matters.

Question: The Government of the Russian Federation adopted new rules that prevent us from investing for the next two years. We do not know whether we can invest in the future because in two years there will be no benefits in this for us.

Sergey Lavrov: The Foreign Ministry is interested in continuing pragmatic and mutually beneficial economic cooperation; therefore, let’s agree that following this meeting, following our discussion, your chairman, the Director General, will send me a proposal outlining the steps which, in your opinion, would allow our cooperation to continue on a mutually beneficial basis.

I know that you cooperate with the GAZ Group. I meant exactly the same thing that you are talking about when I said that some small European countries are trying to run before the American hounds because the seizures by the United States were once again extended. The Americans are thinking about themselves, too. Many American jobs depend on continuing this cooperation. Our Swedish neighbours decided that they will be more American than the Americans themselves.

Question: When we discuss relaxing the border crossing regime for highly skilled professionals, please do not forget about their family members because it is a major part of their lives here. I would like to ask you to consider this issue.

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, their comfort is important. We will make sure to support requests concerning their family members as well.

Question: We are witnessing the US administration purposefully dismantling the international relations system that took shape after World War II. How much have they managed to accomplish in this regard? Is this an irreversible process? What can we expect from the upcoming election?

Sergey Lavrov: As I mentioned earlier, the current international relations system is collapsing under the banner of the “rules-based world order.” It became part of the political vocabulary, or narrative, in modern parlance, about three to four years ago. We took note of it immediately. When we began to talk about this term which was proposed to be included in the declarations of international forums, we were told that “this is the same as international law.” When we proposed replacing this term with “respect for international law,” we were told, by hook or by crook, that “we need to use some fresh language.” And then everything that I was talking about came to the surface.

Two parallel processes are underway that are directly related to the erosion of the system that was created after World War II, which suited everyone, made it possible to avoid another world war and, as we all hoped, would be ridding itself of confrontational components after the Cold War ended. We have already talked about the Berlin Wall and everything that followed and what we are witnessing now.

There are two obvious areas where this system is being eroded. The first is the privatisation of the existing international organisations’ secretariats. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is based on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), is a case in point. It was adopted unanimously (any convention can only be adopted unanimously) and is binding exclusively for the countries that have ratified this Convention, 193 in all. The OPCW is one of the most universal organisations. The Convention can only be amended by way of talks, and the language must be agreed upon by a consensus, after which the amendments are adopted and ratified. Under the convention, the OPCW Technical Secretariat (TC) has the competence to conduct a probe in response to an inquiry by any CWC member country. This should be done by an onsite visit by the experts to a location designated by the corresponding party to take samples that are then taken to certified labs. Then, a report is compiled which says whether a substance prohibited by the special lists attached to the CWC was found in these samples. That’s all there is to it. The OPCW Secretariat began to grossly violate the Convention. For example, in Syria, they were making decisions and compiling reports without onsite visits. They just said that they managed to get samples from, say, Great Britain or France (there was such an episode in Khan Shaykhun), since it was “unsafe” for them to go there. We insisted that, under the Convention, they must go there themselves. The answer was “it’s unsafe.” Then, we asked the British and the French, since they were able to obtain the samples in unsafe circumstances, to use their contacts to ensure the safety of the OPCW inspectors so that they comply with the convention. We were told there was nothing they could do, and it’s “classified.” The Syrian government was accused of airstrikes using bombs filled with toxic agents. This “classified” information was used to conclude that a poisonous agent was used in Khan Shaykhun. End of story. Nobody knows who took these samples, or who took them to which laboratory, because it’s “classified.”

There are many questions. When we started asking them and stopped accepting such reports in the UN Security Council (only the UNSC can decide who is right and who is wrong under international law and the UN Charter), our Western colleagues at the OPCW convened an extraordinary session of all parties to the Convention. They put to the vote a proposal that, in addition to what is allowed for the OPCW Technical Secretariat under the Convention (to determine whether a prohibited poisonous agent was used or not), it should also be authorised to identify the perpetrators and to carry out the attribution. Less than half of the countries members of the convention voted in favour of the proposal. The rest voted against it or abstained. However, according to the rules of procedure, the decision was declared adopted. Thus, instead of an international law instrument, which any universal convention is, we got an instrument of the “rules-based order.” Of course, we will not be paying for the portion of the Secretariat’s activities that focuses on these purposes. China and a number of other countries are doing the same, but that doesn’t make the problem disappear. This is an outright privatisation of the Secretariat, which can now be seen in the way the senior officials of this body (Western countries hold the posts of Director-General and his “right hand”) react to our inquiries on many issues (Syria, Navalny, etc.). Concurrently, privatisation is carried out in less aggressive forms, when the Western employees of the respective secretariats conduct blatantly one-sided policies at the UN organisations.

The second area is about the propensity to move “inconvenient” matters outside the UN system. In my opening remarks, I mentioned that our French colleagues had created the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. We asked why we can’t discuss this at the UN or the OPCW, which they are trying to manipulate. Why do this somewhere else? We were told that this is just a “group of like-minded people.” Today, I spoke on the phone with my French colleague, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, and asked him why they were not responding to a request filed by the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia regarding Alexey Navalny’s tests. Mr Le Drian told me they were waiting for the OPCW to respond. The OPCW has not yet responded (today is October 5). However, already on September 24, our French colleagues initiated the distribution, among their closest partners at the very same organisation in The Hague, of a draft statement by the countries participating in the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. The draft of this statement is already saying that, as confirmed by the OPCW Secretariat, Mr Navalny was poisoned with Novichok. The Secretariat has not confirmed or said anything. We have an official letter from the OPCW Director General Fernando Arias Gonzalez saying that the process is still underway.

This “privatisation,” as we call it, creates quite serious problems in other areas of the universal institutions’ work as well. Instead of once again provoking scandals at the conferences of the parties to the relevant universal conventions, they are now making decisions in a narrow circle of “like-minded people” and then present this as an example of multilateralism. This approach forms the basis of the Franco-German initiative for a new multilateralism, which they are promoting and which was proclaimed not so long ago. It was stated that the EU is an example of multilateralism. We asked again why multilateralism is being considered outside the framework of the UN multilateral organisation. There’s no answer, but we know it. There will be more cases like this. Along with this International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, the French have created a similar partnership on the freedom of journalism and information in cyberspace.

Question: The impact of geopolitics on de-globalisation. Modern equipment has a very broad built-in functionality for data collection and transmission. At the same time, requirements for a mandatory local hosting are being tightened, in particular, with regard to data collection and transmission. Some forecasts say that by 2030, many countries will close their markets to each other. What do you think could promote the opening of a common economic space?

Sergey Lavrov: For 15 years, if not longer, we have been actively promoting the initiative (it has gained a large number of supporters now) to figure out how the internet should work so that everyone feels comfortable. This question was raised at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an organisation dealing with all forms of information and communication technologies, and in the UN, where it was proposed to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour in the information landscape. It is about international information security. At the same time, we are promoting initiatives at the UN to combat crime in cyberspace. There is one part that relates to processes affecting national security, and the other is crime proper – drug trafficking, paedophilia, pornography, and so on. But things are moving with difficulty at the ITU. All these years of discussions have led us nowhere. The Americans do not seem interested in making this topic the subject of agreements. The discussion continues, but you know how the internet is governed, how it all works. It suits them. The Americans are actually pushing forward the idea that there is no need for any anti-cybercrime conventions or rules of conduct to ensure security in the information landscape. There is international law and it is applicable. This also reflects our Western partners’ policy to declare cyberspace an arena of potential confrontation, including the possibility of hostilities (and the outer space for good measure).

As we have seen from hours of discussions with the Americans and other Westerners, they are reluctant to introduce new regulations and cite applicable international law because the West again wants to reserve some extra rights. I mentioned the partnership to protect freedom in cyberspace. If it is established that someone has violated “freedom in cyberspace,” they will not have to prove anything to anyone, because international law is already in place. The Americans are primarily interested in Article 51 of the UN Charter (the right to self-defence and the possible use of weapons). They do not hide this and want to reserve the right to strike. More precisely, not reserve, but actually obtain the right to use military force in response to what they might consider an encroachment in cyberspace that affects their national interest. You can implicate just about anything there.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin proposed reopening the existing channels on cybersecurity issues. On October 2, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev met with US President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, who said that so far, Washington has not seen any Russian interference attempts in the 2020 United States elections. Well, they kind of expected Moscow to interfere, but “Mr Patrushev assured them they won’t.” What the Russian Security Council Secretary proposed – we actually lived through all this many years ago with the Obama administration, and later it resumed with Donald Trump – was a proposal to sign a deal on non-interference in each other’s affairs, including in cyberspace, concerning elections or other processes. The US does not want to, because they really interfere in our internal affairs. After Kiev events in 2014, they passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which explicitly ordered the State Department to spend $20 million a year to liaise with Russian civil society, to support certain “independent” and “non-governmental” organisations. You are certainly well aware of this. Indeed, a cutting-edge sphere like cyberspace and information and communication technologies in general, where progress is rapidly gaining momentum, is a field for competition. Look at what is happening with 5G networks now, how the Americans prohibit Europe and the rest of the world from cooperating with China; look at how these policies affect the atmosphere of international relations. Consider artificial intelligence. I think competition will continue, as we are seeing a new industrial revolution – or rather, not an industrial, but a technological one.

If we consider the US policy line they are pursuing today, it is difficult to predict how and when it will end, whether it will even come to a close in our lifetime, because anything’s possible. Who knows what will happen on this planet in 50-100 years. There are many people who believe the current US policy line is irrevocable, and from now on, they refuse to put up with it. The most interesting thing is that they actually achieve their goals in some cases. As we say, might is right. But it seems to me that the United States should and will try to pay more attention to its internal problems. I would say what we can see there now has very deep roots. There are many forecasts that any empire will reach a crisis at some point and become smaller and quieter. As Vladimir Vysotsky wrote, “it goes at random, all over the place, and downhill.”

I am not trying to make any predictions about the US elections now; I do not want to be blamed again for supporting someone or not supporting someone else. Vladimir Putin has said many times that we will work with anyone they elect. We are watching the squabbles between Democrats and Republicans. No silver lining, of course. Destabilisation in the United States is unlikely to do any good to any of us. We are actually all interested in the United States being a responsible player in the international arena; but for that, they should at least have some internal stability, which is now being tested. We want them to be a responsible player, which means they should follow the rules, not those invented by them, consistently rather than occasionally, and not change those rules at their whim or use loopholes (like we say, every law has a loophole). This is rules-based order. Unfortunately, the trend is quite steady – they have left the UNESCO, the UN Human Rights Council, and withdrawn from nearly all treaties; now the last one, the New START, is going to die. The conditions they set are absolutely unilateral and do not take into account either our interests or the experience of many decades, when arms control was enforced to everyone’s satisfaction and was welcomed by all countries. I cannot rule out that the World Trade Organisation will be next. They are also complaining about it, as I understand it, and continue blocking the dispute resolution body, preventing the appointment of the necessary participants for a quorum.

This question causes everyone’s concern, but I have no answer to give you. Some expound on how empires grow old and new ones emerge, like when you all play together as kids, and there is always the main bully in the sandbox who hits the younger ones. But later, when they grow up, they get even. This probably happens in different forms on a bigger scale, like centuries-long cycles.

Question: As you may be aware, Turkey and Libya have certain agreements regarding the Mediterranean Sea. We’re amid an abnormal situation, where Turkey, a NATO member, has a run-in with Europe, where most countries are NATO members as well. Clearly, in addition to the economic interests, there are geopolitical and military reasons as well. What’s your view about a potential increase in the number of clashes in this region and Russia’s role?

Sergey Lavrov: Here, too, we need to look through the lens of geopolitical interests. The situation in Libya, Syria and a number of other countries is far from being alright, but hydrocarbons are among the factors that clearly influence politics. At least what the Americans are doing with oil having illegally occupied the eastern coast of the Euphrates River in Syria and making a decision allowing their company to produce oil. Together with the Kurds, they are trying to “cobble up” a Kurdish autonomy, which will have quasi-state functions. It is well known that they are also trying to talk the Turks into not objecting to the idea of creating such autonomy, assuring them that the Americans will ensure the Kurds’ loyalty. Flirting with a country’s territorial integrity is a gross violation of international law. In this case, this applies not only to Syria, but also to the Kurdish problem, which can be so explosive that the current situation will appear much less serious. It affects a number of countries in the region. An invitation to separatism and its active promotion can end very badly. This is being done by a distant overseas country, but the countries of the region and Europe will have to deal with the consequences. We are not far away from there, either. So, we have come up with an initiative to develop a security concept in the Gulf with the participation of all Arab countries, Iran, the League of Arab States (LAS), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the UN Security Council permanent members, and the European Union.

The time has come when too many problems have piled up in and around the Gulf, including the Middle East and North Africa. We need to sit down and talk.

The Americans are also departing from international law and moving to the rules on which they want to establish the world order, I mean a Middle East settlement. They are turning the Arab Peace Initiative upside down, which proclaimed the creation of the Palestinian state followed by the normalisation of relations between the Arab countries and Israel. Now, the process has reversed.

We welcome any agreements that normalise relations between the states, but we cannot agree to this being done to the detriment of the Palestinian people’ interests which are enshrined in numerous consensus resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

Question: More than a year ago now, President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with President of France Emmanuel Macron in Bregancon. How would you assess the results of that meeting? I know that recently in Lithuania, President Macron said he would continue cooperating with Russia because it is crucial for Europe. What do you have to say  on this score?

Sergey Lavrov: In August 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron had a very good and productive meeting in Bregancon. France is the only state whose government responded to Vladimir Putin’s address circulated in autumn 2019, when it became known that the INF Treaty had finally “died.” That long letter went to all NATO members and a number of other states, in which Vladimir Putin spelled out the history of the issue, explained how important the INF Treaty was, how its termination would increase the risks and wipe out any control over such missiles, and proposed to declare a voluntary moratorium. He said that Russia has already announced it and will not build or deploy any such missiles until such US-made systems are deployed in some part of the world. The President of Russia asked his NATO partners to consider the possibility of a counter moratorium without concluding any agreement – just pure goodwill, similar to the previous nuclear test ban. Only a few of them even bothered to respond, usually “thank you and we’ll read it later.” Some just declined. French President Macron was the only one who actually wrote he was ready to discuss the proposal, and who noticed that we were not just proposing two counter-moratoriums in that letter – a Russia-NATO and a wider one – but we were ready to discuss specific ways to verify compliance. Western Europeans as well as our American colleagues said the “cunning” Russia was proposing a moratorium when it allegedly had such missiles in Kaliningrad. They believe our Iskander systems violate this Treaty, but never provided a single fact that proved it. If they say that an Iskander missile has been tested at a prohibited range, then obviously, they should have satellite images, but they never showed any, just as they have not shown any satellite images when it comes to the Malaysian Boeing shot down over Donbass. They have some pictures, but they just don’t show them to anyone. So Vladimir Putin proposed, if they have any such concerns, to discuss what verification measures we can agree upon to make everyone feel comfortable. The only one who responded to that was Emmanuel Macron.

Unlike our selective cooperation with EU’s Brussels on specific conflict matters, sporadically, from time to time, what we have with France is a stable dialogue, including the two-plus-two format with the foreign and defence ministers. In September 2019, our French colleagues were in Moscow. We also established cooperation in more than ten working groups on various strategic tracks. The working groups on combating terrorism and cybersecurity met recently – these topics should obviously be of interest to everyone, but the Americans and most other Westerners, including the Germans, have shown little interest in cooperating on them, to put it mildly.

Emmanuel Macron also makes critical statements. We can hear those. We also have some questions for France. I have just mentioned some of the steps they are taking that undermine the legitimacy of universal organisations, attempts to isolate some issues to be addressed by a narrow circle of participants they find comfortable. But we are having a dialogue, whatever disagreements we might have cannot be a reason to refuse to discuss serious matters, and limit interaction to some selective, elective topics, as the European Union does.

Question: The international community failed to prevent two global catastrophes in the 20th century: the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. Today we are witnessing the escalation of a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in which Turkey has become involved. Do we have any mechanisms for preventing genocide in the 21st century?

Sergey Lavrov: We have the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), which is effective. Genocide has been denounced as a crime against humanity. There are different types and forms of genocide. What is happening today to the Russian language and Russian education in the Baltic countries (in Latvia and Estonia), in Ukraine and several other places clearly amounts to infringement on the fundamental rights of a very large group of people.

One of the topics we discussed with Josep Borrell was discrimination against Russian speakers, in particular, in Ukraine. We regularly raise the question of the Baltics with the EU. They seem unable to do anything, and it even looks to me as if they are unwilling to do anything about it. They only speak in favour of naturalisation. The process is underway, they claim, adding that everything will be just fine, in time. Nothing good is taking place there though. And in Ukraine they adopted several laws on education and language, following which they have adopted amendments that stipulate exemptions for EU languages, which has placed the Russian language in conditions of double discrimination, even though the Ukrainian Constitution stipulates the protection of national minority rights. And it directly mentions Russians.

We have informed the EU that there are Hungarian, Bulgarian and Polish communities in Ukraine and called on them to join forces to protect the rights of the national minorities at the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. We sense a trend in each of these countries to settle the problems of their national minorities in Ukraine unofficially, and they don’t care what happens after that. I asked Josep Borrell if Brussels would support this policy. Absolutely not, he replied, adding that they would equally protect all national minority languages and that the EU would never be content with exemptions for their minorities. But these exemptions have already been made. A law prohibiting primary school tuition in any language other than Ukrainian was to become effective as of September 1. A three-year exemption has been approved for the EU languages, but not for the Russian language. I asked Josep Borrell why this was so. He answered that they were working on this problem.

I don’t think a repetition of genocide in its classical form is possible today, but regrettably, discrimination trends will be gathering momentum. Speaking about Karabakh, we maintain contact with Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as with Turkey and Iran as their neighbours. Today I had a telephone conversation with [French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs] Jean-Yves Le Drian, during which we also spoke about Karabakh. The presidents of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – Russia, France and the United States – have made a very strong statement. We are now preparing a statement of the three countries’ foreign ministers.  However, what we need is not only statements but practical moves that can be made to end the bloodshed and resume negotiations.

You have mentioned that Emmanuel Macron said in Vilnius that cooperation with Russia was crucial for finding solutions to problems. We fully share this view. He also met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya there; she has met with a number of high-ranking officials from EU countries.

This has jogged my memory regarding a situation, I think it was in 2017, when Jean-Marc Ayrault held the post of foreign minister. In March 2017, Marine Le Pen came to Russia at the invitation of our parliament. She met with President Putin. Mr Ayrault criticised that meeting between the President of Russia and the leader of a large French party. He interpreted it as “an attempt to interfere in the election process.” “We would like to understand if this is so. France is not interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, and we hope that Russia will not interfere in our affairs either,” he said. This is how he commented on President Putin’s meeting with the leader of a French political party who had been invited to visit Russia by our parliament. Now look at the [Western] reaction to what is taking place in Vilnius and other places. This is double standards.

Question: First of all, I would like to point out the importance of [foreign] professionals returning to Russia so that they can resume their operations here. As for our exports to Russia, we would like to say that we account for 25 percent of them, and we would like to continue to increase our share. We can see great potential here, in particular, when it comes to raw materials. We should start with renewable materials and discuss recycling. We also need to coordinate certification issues and think about improving the furniture industry in Russia so as to be able to export more IKEA products from Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: I hope your products will not be designated as military or dual-purpose items, as was the case with Sweden’s Quintus Technologies, and that you will continue to supply us with affordable, solid and reliable furniture.

OBSTACLES TO FRENCH SUCCESS IN LEBANON: SAUDI ARABIA AND THE US

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

Leb Zionists

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

A US counterterrorism official has claimed that Hezbollah “is stocking ammonium nitrate in France, Italy, Greece, Spain and Switzerland”. The French Foreign Ministry responded that these allegations were untrue. Consequently, it dealt a direct blow to the American administration, which is working in Brussels to place Hezbollah with its military and political wings on the EU’s terrorist list. France enjoys enough influence within the corridors of the European Union and the European Parliament to stand as an impediment to the American plans. For France, it is not a matter of love or support for Hezbollah, but rather its belief that the time has not come to declare war on the organisation. France believes that it needs a relationship with Hezbollah if it is to advance its strategic interests in Lebanon. Hostility to Hezbollah means engaging in a war with the group or moving away from acquiring a foothold in Lebanon. Paris is trying to advance its chances by, for example, avoiding the resignation of its candidate, Prime Minister Mustafa Adib. But France does not hold all the cards and certainly not all the aces.

It is common knowledge that Prime Minister Mustafa Adib does not have any experience in navigating Lebanese domestic politics and its complications and ramifications that extend out to Saudi Arabia, the US and France. These are the countries mainly involved in Lebanon, while Turkey and Russia play smaller roles.Adib’s nomination was arranged when former Prime Minister Saad Hariri lost any hope of being appointed to this position due to his rejection by Saudi Arabia. The Lebanese former Prime Minister Hariri holds both Saudi and French nationalities. During his time in office, More

Turkey’s Destructive Role in the M.E and Europe

Source

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 10:49

Turkey has for a longtime now been the enzyme that speeds problems in the area of the Mediterranean. Still unable to stomach the Treaty of Lausanne(1923) which defined the borders of modern day Turkey it has for a long time now been scheming to extend its borders by land grabbing from other countries. This can be clearly depicted in two countries Cyprus and Syria .In 1974 Turkey attacked Cyprus and occupied a third of the island and formed on its own the “Republic of Northern Cyprus” recognized by no country in the world except its creator. In Syria the story is even sadder – not satisfied with usurping Alexanderetta ,Turkey opened its borders to terrorists to infiltrate Syria and aided and abetted them(During the war of terror on Syria). Now it has taken a further step by arming and training terrorists and by actually sending its troops inside Syria. Turkey dreams of a revival of the Ottoman Empire and for that to happen boundaries must change and towns and cities might have to be erased. A question arises –why does no one do anything about  this? Why is the world silent while Turkey wreaks havoc where it wants. What is the UN doing or for that matter the EU?

 Syriatimes carried out an interview with EU parliamentarian Athanasios Konstantinou to clarify certain points.

  Member of European Parliament  to ST: EU’s appeasement of Turkey, has deeply injured the trust of Greek citizens

 Member of European Parliament Athanasios Konstantinou reckons that hollow actions that have no political and economic impact will be taken by the EU against Turkey for political propaganda reasons.

 He told Syria Times e-newspaper that from the 1980 till today, more than 60.000 Turkish planes have infiltrated Greek airspace not counting the paralleling actions of the Turkish navy.

 Konstantinou, in addition, has pointed out that U.N. repeatedly over time appears  powerless and without the will to enforce international law and in that way tolerate NATO to act in their place.

 Here below is the full text of the interview:

1-Can you tell us about the origins of the gas drilling dispute between Greece  and Turkey? 

For many decades Turkey has applied a calculated foreign policy that aims to seize as much of the Aegean Sea as possible, part of a larger plan to enforce itself as a Mediterranean power.

 This policy is obviously effective, due mostly to the failure of all past and present Greek governments (and their allies) to efficiently protect the Greek borders. This explains why Turkey defies international law and openly and officially threatens war, if Greece exercises its rights to the “12 nautical miles” international law, in Aegean.

A major phase for the implementation of their strategy was the occupation of Northern Cyprus. Until then, the Turkish plan was a “paper” one, but since then, Turkey is moving with real steps. Consider that from the 1980 till today, more than 60.000 Turkish planes have infiltrated the Greek airspace  not counting the paralleling actions of the Turkish navy.

 All major powers and alliances endorse the Turkish plan, otherwise the occupation of Cyprus, with its obvious geopolitical effects, would not have been tolerated and possibly would have not been tried by the Turks!

 So in that light, what we see now regarding the “drilling dispute” as you put it, is not surprising.

2-Is the United Nations able to influence Turkey?? 

The United Nations, unfortunately, wasn’t able in the past and cannot in the present, influence Turkey. Allow me to remind your readers that, for the illegal Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus, U.N. voted two resolutions, ordering the withdrawal of the Turkish army.

 Nothing of the kind has happened.

 Furthermore, the UN voted on an arms embargo for Libya, an embargo, today de facto ignored by Turkey and other countries.

 The greater issue here is that, U.N. repeatedly over time appears powerless and without the will to enforce international law and in that way tolerates NATO to act in their place.

And NATO’s first priority, of course, is the protection of USA’s interests and not the international law.

3-Many EU emergency summits were held concerning this issue, were the results positive?

The results of these summits, can barely  be described as “not-negative” but we certainly cannot define them as positive. In my opinion, European Union with its appeasement Turkish policy, has severely damaged the trust of the European peoples in the Union. And without any doubt, has deeply injured the trust of Greek citizens. After all, Greek borders are part of the E.U. ’s borders. And the Greek economy as well. When a malicious outsider defies your borders and tries to rip-off your wealth and you don’t defend either, then you void the reasons for your own existence as a Union.

4- Is the EU likely to approve  sanctions on Turkey ? What kind of sanctions will they be and most importantly how effective?  

So far, everything points out that no real measures or sanctions will be imposed on Turkey from E.U. Only hollow and without political or economic impact actions will be taken and only for political propaganda reasons.

If this is the case, then we are led to believe that EU politics obey and serve not the interests of European citizens but those of  big international financial lobbies. And I know that this is most frustrating for the Syrian people also, because you have felt this injustice through the sanctions imposed to Syria.

5-How does Libya enter into this equation? 

The Turkish involvement in Libya, is the second major stepping stone, of their plan to promote themselves to a Mediterranean power, as I have pointed out earlier.

The Turkish government wisely tries to capitalize on NATO’s great mistake and injustice on Libya, where once more, international financial lobbies have indicated policies aiming to gain and disregard the will of the peoples. The result was chaos in Libya and opportunity for Turkey. This is why other countries like Egypt, counteract against the Turkish actions.

Editor in chief : Reem Haddad

Basma Qaddour

المواجهة بين الأوهام الأميركيّة والحقائق الميدانيّة…

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

ابتغت أميركا مما أسمته «الربيع العربي» عموماً، ومن الحرب الكونية على سورية ومحور المقاومة خصوصاً، إعادة صياغة الشرق الأوسط وفقاً لخرائط استراتيجية جديدة تحصّن الأحادية القطبية التي عملت من أجلها وتزيل أيّ عقبة من أمامها في هذا السياق، شجعها على ذلك أنّ العالم بشكل عام والدول التي تخشى من عرقلتها للمهمة بشكل خاص موزعة بين تابع تملكه (دول الخليج) وحليف تملك قراره (أوروبا بشكل عام) أو مترنّح أزيح من الخطوط الأمامية دولياً (روسيا) أو حذر يخشى على اقتصاده من أيّ مواجهة ذات طبيعة أو بعد عسكري (الصين) أو محاصر يئنّ تحت وطأة العقوبات الاقتصادية والحصار السياسي والتهديد العسكري (إيران وسورية).

أما الخريطة التي توخّت أميركا الوصول إليها فهي صورة لمنطقة تكون «إسرائيل» مديرتها الإقليمية بعد أن تكتمل عمليات «التطبيع» مع جميع البلدان العربية، وبعد أن تضع أيّ دولة بين خيارين أما التطبيع والاستسلام الكلي للمشيئة الأميركية او الحصار والعزل وصولاً الى الانهيار والتدمير الداخلي. فأميركا لا تتقبّل فكرة قيام رأي معارض لمشيئتها أياً كان صاحب هذا الرأي ـ لأنّ أميركا تتصرّف وللأسف وفقاً لنظرية «الحق الإلهي» التي تعتمدها والتي عبّر عنها بوش الابن في لحظة زهو في أوائل القرن الحالي، حيث قال «أرسلني الله لأنقذ البشرية» وإن «العناية الإلهية جعلت من أميركا قائدة للعالم».

وبعد نيّف وعقد من الزمن وبعد المآسي والدمار والقتل والتشريد الذي أحدثته الحرب الإرهابية الأميركية في المنطقة من تونس وليبيا غرباً الى سورية والعراق شرقاً مروراً باليمن طبعاً، اعتبرت أميركا انها حققت ما تريد وأنها أنهكت او دمّرت عدوّها وباتت قادرة على الاستثمار والانطلاق الى جني النتائج التي خططت للوصول اليها وهنا تكمن الخطيئة وسوء التقدير الأميركي الذي إنْ لم يعالج قبل فوات الأوان فإنه سيقود الى مرحلة دموية خطيرة في العالم تتقدّم في مستواها وشراستها عما سبق في العقد الأخير الماضي وتنقلب على أميركا سوءاً بدرجة لا تتصوّرها.

ولانّ أميركا تعتقد او تتصوّر بانّ حربها على العرب حققت نتائجها، فإنها أطلقت «صفقة القرن» في مطلع العام الحالي وراحت تسارع الخطى الى التطبيع بين العرب و«إسرائيل»، وتتوعّد إيران بعقوبات متجدّدة عليها وكأنّ الاتفاق النووي لم يحصل او أنها تمكّنت من الإمساك بقرار العالم كما كانت تمني النفس يوم أطلقت فكرة النظام العالمي القائم على الأحادية لقطبيّة بقيادتها.

تريد أميركا وبكلّ صلف وغرور أن تحمّل كلّ الدول العربية على التطبيع، وبعد أن كان لها تطبيع من دولتين خليجيتين، يروّج ترامب انّ 6 دول أخرى قيد الانتظار وانّ الباقي لن يطول تردّده في الالتحاق بالركب. اما الممانعون وبشكل خاص إيران وسورية ولبنان فقد أعدّت لكلّ منهم نوعاً من الضغوط تقود بالظنّ الأميركي الى الخضوع. وهنا يكمن سوء التقدير الأميركي لا بل الخطيئة الاستراتيجية الكبرى ايضاً.

تظنّ أميركا انّ ضغوطاً على إيران وحزب الله، قد تحملهما على مواجهة عسكرية تبرّر لأميركا استعراض قوتها العسكرية ضدّهما تحت عنوان دفاعي، ما يجعل ترامب يحصد مع كلّ صاروخ يطلقه الجيش الأميركي على «أعدائه» يحصد أصواتاً إضافية في الانتخابات وقد يكون بومبيو ومعه صقور الجمهوريين قد أقنعوا ترامب انّ السبيل الأقصر لربح الانتخابات التي يتأرجح المصير فيها الآن هو حرب محدودة مع إيران وحزب الله يقوم خلالها بضربة سريعة خاطفة ثم يتفرّغ للانتخابات التي ستكون نتائجها حتماً في صالحه.

بيد أنّ التقدير الأميركي يبسط الأمور الى حدّ الخفة والسطحية تقريباً ويتناسى المتغيّرات الدولية التي جعلت من عالم 2020 مختلفاً كلياً عن عالم 2010، وإذا كان المفهوم الاستراتيجي للحلف الأطلسي الذي وضع للعقد الماضي قد حقق شيئاً من أغراضه فإنّ النتائج الاستراتيجية التي كان يرمي إليها بقيت بعيدة المنال. وها هو الحلف الأطلسي يُخفق في اعتماد مفهوم استراتيجي جديد يلتفّ حوله الجميع من الأعضاء كما انّ كيان الحلف بذاته واستمراره بات في الأشهر الأخيرة تحت علامات استفهام ما يعني أنّ الحلف لن يكون شريكاً لأميركا في خططها.

اما أوروبا فإنها وجدت بعد العقد الماضي وعملها العسكري خارج نطاقها الإقليمي، كم هو التباين بينها وبين أميركا في المصالح بخاصة في الشرق الأوسط، ما جعل الدول الأساسية فيها تفكر بسياسة أوروبية مستقلة لا تغضب أميركا في بداياتها، ولكنها ستتمايز عنها في جوهرها ما يجعل أيّ حرب تشنّها أميركا على أحد حرباً أميركية فقط ليس لأوروبا ضلع فيها. وما الموقف الأوروبي في مجلس الأمن في معرض الطلب الأميركي لاستئناف العقوبات على إيران ربطاً بالملف النووي إلا أول الغيث.

وعلى الاتجاه الروسي، فنعتقد انّ أميركا تعاني من المرارة الكبرى فقبل «الربيع العربي» والحرب الكونية كانت روسيا دولة داخلية بعيدة عن مسارح التأثير العالمي، أما اليوم فقد باتت ركناً أساسياً في النظام الدولي قيد التشكل وفاعلاً رئيسياً في الشرق الأوسط لا يقتصر وجودها وتأثيرها على سورية فقط بل يتعدّاها الى أفريقيا (ليبيا) وتستعدّ ليكون لها كلمة في اليمن أيضاً. وبهذا يكون العدوان الأميركي على المنطقة شكّل بطاقة دعوة او استدعاء ذهبياً لروسيا لتخرج من عزلتها وتحتلّ مقعداً أمامياً ينافسها على الصعيد الدولي العام.

اما الصين التي تؤرق أميركا بشكل عميق فقد جعلت من اقتصادها متقدماً على الاقتصاد الأميركي ولم تنفع كل تدابير الإرهاب والحصار الاقتصادي في كبحه، فاجأتها الصين أيضاً حيث قدمت جديداً في مجال الصراع هو ايحاؤها الاستعداد لاستعمال القوة لحماية نفسها واقتصادها وتحضيرها مع حلفائها للاستغناء عن الدولار أيضاً.

وفي إيران التي تعوّل أميركا اليوم عليها لتكون الحقل التي تزرعه قذائف تحصدها أصواتاً انتخابية تثبت ترامب في البيت الأبيض لأربع سنوات أخرى، نرى أنها تتبع سياسة مركبة تهدف الى حرمان ترامب من الأوراق التي يريدها من المواجهة، وحرمان ترامب من إحكام الحصار عليها، وصيانة علاقتها مع الأوروبيين من دون تراخٍ أمامهم وتمتين علاقاتها مع روسيا والصين وتجنب الصدام مع تركيا، هذا من جهة؛ اما من جهة أُخرى فإنها تستمرّ في تحشيد القوة العسكرية الدفاعية التي تفشل أيّ عدوان عليها وتستمر في خوض الحرب النفسية المرتكزة الى عوامل ميدانية مؤكدة التأثير وما مناوراتها العسكرية الأخيرة إلا وجهاً من وجوه عرض القوة الدفاعية المستندة الى فكرة الهجوم بوجه أميركا.

وبالعودة الى سورية، نجد وبشكل يقيني انّ كلّ ما حلمت به أميركا هناك بات في غياهب التاريخ، وأننا ننتظر في الأشهر المقبلة معالجة متدرجة لملفي إدلب والجزيرة (شرقي الفرات) بشكل لا يبقي للمحتلّ الأميركي أو التركي إثراً في الميدان يعيق تثبيت سيادة سورية على كلّ أرضها، معالجة نراها منطلقة من عمل عسكري لا بدّ منه أولاً وتستكمل بتفاهمات وتسويات يضطر اليها الفريق المعتدي وتحرم الأميركي مما يتوخاه.

ونختم بلبنان ونجد أنّ المؤامرة الأميركية لعزل المقاومة وحصار لبنان ودفعه لتفاوض مباشر مع «إسرائيل» بضغط أميركي يقود للتنازل عن المناطق المحتلة في البر وعددها 13 بالإضافة الى الغجر ومزارع شبعا، والتسليم لـ «إسرائيل» بما تريد في المنطقة الاقتصادية في البحر واقتطاع ما يناهز الـ 400 كلم2 من أصل 862 كلم2 متنازع عليها، كلّ ذلك لن يحصل لأن المقاومة لن تتخلى عن حقها في التمثيل الحكومي ولأن قرار لبنان لن يكون كما تشتهي أميركا حتى ولو اشتدّ الحصار وتعاظم الانهيار الذي تصنعه أميركا للبنان.

وعليه نقول إنّ العالم في حقيقته ليس كما تراه أميركا بعينها، وإنّ تطبيع دولتين خليجيتين واهنتين لا يعني نجاح صفقة القرن، وإن وجود 800 جندي أميركي الآن في سورية و3000 في العراق لا يعني انّ الدولتين في القبضة الأميركية، وإن النطق بغير حق باسم مجلس الأمن ضدّ إيران والقول باستئناف العقوبات الأممية عليها لا يعني انّ العالم انصاع للقرار الأميركي. فأميركا توهِم نفسها أنها تربح أو انّ بإمكانها اختزال إرادة العالم، ولكن الحلم الأميركي يصطدم بصخور الحقيقة فيتكسّر وتبقى الحقيقة صارخة لمن يريدها، فأميركا اليوم ليست أميركا 1990 وزمن الطموح لحكم العالم ولّى الى غير رجعة مع اشتداد بأس خصومها وأعدائها وتراخي وضعف أتباعها وابتعاد وتفكك حلفائها عنها.

Venezuela – A Tribute for Endless Pursuit of Democracy

Venezuela – A Tribute for Endless Pursuit of Democracy

September 19, 2020

by Peter Koenig for The Saker Blog

Venezuela is again the shining light of Democracy – pushing ahead with the 6 December National Assembly (NA) elections – despite the endless challenges of covid – of sanctions, of embargos, of confiscation of foreign assets, and even of a totally illicit blockage of reserve currencies – Venezuela’s gold – naturally in the world’s protectorate of international financial fraud, The City of London.

This unique drive for democracy against all odds succeeds to a great degree thanks to President Maduro, who relentlessly resists not only the attempts against his life, but the lies and vilifications about Venezuela from most of the western world, led, of course, by the United States, followed closely by the European Union which, it seems, dominated by NATO, can’t break loose from being at Washington’s bidding.

It is sad to see European states – hands and minds still dripping of colonial blood, not being able to break the stranglehold of their genocidal past – and step onto a new plate, into a new history – fighting for justice and human rights. An example how far from this eye-opening conscientious awakening Europe is, was again demonstrated today by the EU Commission’s call to “sanction” Russia for the totally unproven Navalny poisoning, by stopping the almost completed Nord Stream 2 German-Russian gas pipeline project.

Never mind the absurdity, that Germany and the EU are punishing themselves, not only because alternative badly needed gas supplies will be considerably more expensive – and god forbid – may be coming from US fracking sources. In other words, the EU would approve of an environmental disaster. Many of EU member countries are by their Constitution barred from using fracking gas or oil.

And again, the EU vassalhood – to call it what it is – refused President Maduro’s invitation to observe the December 6 elections. Mr. Maduro went out of his way to invite all the important opinion makers to come and observe the fairness of the elections, including the UN and the Europeans. The latter prefer not to see the correctness with their own eyes, but being able to criticize what they have not seen. There is no darker blindness than that emanating from not wanting to see.

And that of course only, because the European leaders (sic) – all shoe-ins by an international deep state elite – will do whatever it takes to preserve as long as possible the unsustainable – an unfettered, neoliberal no holds barred capitalism. The WEF (World Economic Forum) calls it best: The Great Reset – the upwards reorganization of assets. After the very elite-made global covid hoax has destroyed and continues to devastate most of what was the world economy, what gave work and food to billions of people – people are dwelling in the gutters with nothing left – no health care, no shelter, no food – no hope. The latter is the killer.

Venezuela is the antidote to this western usurping approach to civilization – what’s left of it. Venezuela pursues justice and fights for equality. By the way, Venezuela is in the honorable company of Cuba, Syria, Iran, Russia and China. The US, alias the west, cannot tolerate an example of ethics in its hegemonic orbit. Western allies – united under the boot of NATO – pretend freedom is their cause, while their own people suffer from unfathomable injustice every day – poverty and famine of children is skyrocketing in the Global North, the so-called developed or industrialized world – the bankers world, the world of those who indebt the Global South into dependence, into the Global North’s neo-colonies.

Venezuela, on the contrary, aims at eradicating poverty famine and misery – and that despite her constant strangulation by Washington and their western allies, and even by some of what should be their Latin Brothers, the Lima Group, formed in August 2017 in Lima, Peru (12 members as of December 2019: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Bolivia and Haiti).

Imagine – how much pressure these Lima Group countries are under to accuse, boycott, denigrate and speak out in international fora against their fellow Latin Americans of Venezuela. Once upon a time there was a United Latin America – united under the leadership of Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar. With the onset of the British Empire’s transatlantic move of its power center to become the United States of America, the southern part of the America’s became what recent US Presidents called “our backyard” – ready to be usurped in any way possible, mostly in the form of military dictatorships and lately by Washington-induced coups against democratically elected heads of states.

However, the spirit of Simon Bolivar, El Libertador, lives on. Together with Nicolas Maduro’s tenacious will for freedom, for autonomy, for full sovereignty for Venezuelans, their use and destiny over natural resources, may prevail and influence upcoming elections in Bolivia (October 2020), Chile (October 2020 referendum on whether a new Constitution ought to be drafted, replacing the one dating back to Pinochet), Brazil (municipal election in November 2020) and Ecuador (general elections in February 2021).

Venezuela’s overarching strength by solidarity and endless fight for justice and Human Rights, brought the opposition to its knees. The right-wing Washington supported opposition, led by self-nominated “president” Juan Guaidó, boycotted past elections, so as not to show their weakness vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Now, perhaps the real head of opposition, Henrique Capriles, is changing tactics. Realizing that the only way to have any say in the political arena of Venezuela is by participating in it, he is calling for participation in the 6 December National Assembly elections.

President Maduro has always invited participation of the opposition in elections and will welcome their presence for the December 2020 NA elections too. Because Democracy is at the heart of Chavismo, the very socialist thought being carried forward – steadily, without wavering, by President Maduro and his Government. – Viva! Venezuela’s Democracy – a shining light for the Americas and for the world.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.  Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

September 18, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Question: I’ll start with the hottest topic, Belarus. President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited Bocharov Ruchei. Both sides have officially recognised that change within the Union State is underway. This begs the question: What is this about? A common currency, common army and common market? What will it be like?

Sergey Lavrov: It will be the way our countries decide. Work is underway. It relies on the 1999 Union Treaty. We understand that over 20 years have passed since then. That is why, a couple of years ago, upon the decision of the two presidents, the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus began to work on identifying the agreed-upon steps that would make our integration fit current circumstances. Recently, at a meeting with Russian journalists, President Lukashenko said that the situation had, of course, changed and we must agree on ways to deepen integration from today’s perspective.

The presidential election has taken place in Belarus. The situation there is tense, because the opposition, backed by some of our Western colleagues, is trying to challenge the election outcome, but I’m convinced that the situation will soon get back to normal, and the work to promote integration processes will resume.

Everything that is written in the Union Treaty is now being analysed. Both sides have to come to a common opinion about whether a particular provision of the Union Treaty is still relevant, or needs to be revised. There are 31 roadmaps, and each one focuses on a specific section of the Union Treaty. So, there’s clearly a commitment to continue the reform, a fact that was confirmed by the presidents during a recent telephone conversation. This is further corroborated by the presidents’ meeting in Sochi.

I would not want that country’s neighbours, and our neighbours for that matter, including Lithuania, for example, to try to impose their will on the Belarusian people and, in fact, to manage the processes in which the opposition is unwittingly doing what’s expected of it. I have talked several times about Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s situation. Clearly, someone is putting words in her mouth. She is now in the capital of Lithuania, which, like our Polish colleagues, is strongly demanding a change of power in Belarus. You are aware that Lithuania declared Ms Tikhanovskaya the leader of the Republic of Belarus, and Alexander Lukashenko was declared an illegitimate president.

Ms Tikhanovskaya has made statements that give rise to many questions. She said she was concerned that Russia and Belarus have close relations. The other day, she called on the security and law-enforcement forces to side with the law. In her mind, this is a direct invitation to breach the oath of office and, by and large, to commit high treason. This is probably a criminal offense. So, those who provide her with a framework for her activities and tell her what to say and what issues to raise should, of course, realise that they may be held accountable for that.

Question: Commenting on the upcoming meeting of the presidents of Russia and Belarus in Sochi, Tikhanovskaya said: “Whatever they agree on, these agreements will be illegitimate, because the new state and the new leader will revise them.” How can one work under such circumstances?

Sergey Lavrov: She was also saying something like that when Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin went to Belarus to meet with President Lukashenko and Prime Minister Golovchenko. She was saying it then. Back then, the opposition was concerned about any more or less close ties between our countries. This is despite the fact that early on during the crisis they claimed that they in no way engaged in anti-Russia activities and wanted to be friends with the Russian people. However, everyone could have seen the policy paper posted on Tikhanovskaya’s website during the few hours it was there. The opposition leaders removed it after realising they had made a mistake sharing their goals and objectives with the public. These goals and objectives included withdrawal from the CSTO, the EAEU and other integration associations that include Russia, and drifting towards the EU and NATO, as well as the consistent banning of the Russian language and the Belarusianisation of all aspects of life.

We are not against the Belarusian language, but when they take a cue from Ukraine, and when the state language is used to ban a language spoken by the overwhelming majority of the population, this already constitutes a hostile act and, in the case of Ukraine, an act that violates its constitution. If a similar proposal is introduced into the Belarusian legal field, it will violate the Constitution of Belarus, not to mention numerous conventions on the rights of ethnic and language minorities, and much more.

I would like those who are rabidly turning the Belarusian opposition against Russia to realise their share of responsibility, and the opposition themselves, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and others – to find the courage to resist such rude and blatant manipulation.

Question: If we are talking about manipulation, we certainly understand that it has many faces and reflects on the international attitude towards Russia. Internationally, what are the risks for us of supporting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko? Don’t you think 26 years is enough? Maybe he has really served for too long?

Sergey Lavrov: The President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, did say it might have been “too long.” I believe he has proposed a very productive idea – constitutional reform. He talked about this even before the election, and has reiterated the proposal more than once since then. President of Russia Vladimir Putin supports this attitude. As the Belarusian leader said, after constitutional reform, he will be ready to announce early parliamentary and presidential elections. This proposal provides a framework where a national dialogue will be entirely possible. But it is important that representatives of all groups of Belarusian society to be involved in a constitutional reform process. This would ensure that any reform is completely legitimate and understandable for all citizens. Now a few specific proposals are needed concerning when, where and in what form this process can begin. I hope that this will be done, because President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly reaffirmed carrying out this initiative.

Question: Since we started talking about the international attitude towards Russia, let’s go over to our other partner – the United States. The elections in the US will take place very soon. We are actively discussing this in Russia. When asked whether Russia was getting ready for the elections in the US at the Paris forum last year, you replied: “Don’t worry, we’ll resolve this problem.” Now that the US elections are around the corner, I would like to ask you whether you’ve resolved it.

Sergey Lavrov: Speaking seriously, of course we, like any other normal country that is concerned about its interests and international security, are closely following the progress of the election campaign in the US. There are many surprising things in it. Naturally, we see how important the Russian issue is in this electoral process. The Democrats are doing all they can to prove that Russia will exploit its hacker potential and play up to Donald Trump. We are already being accused of promoting the idea that the Democrats will abuse the mail-in voting option thereby prejudicing the unbiased nature of voting. I would like to note at this point that mail-in voting has become a target of consistent attacks on behalf of President Trump himself. Russia has nothing to do with this at all.

A week-long mail-in voting is an interesting subject in comparing election systems in different countries. We have introduced three-day voting for governors and legislative assembly deputies in some regions. You can see the strong criticism it is subjected to, inside Russia as well. When the early voting in the US lasts for weeks, if not months, it is considered a model of democracy. I don’t see any criticism in this respect. In principle, we have long proposed analysing election systems in the OSCE with a view to comparing best practices and reviewing obviously obsolete arrangements. There have been instances in the US when, due to its cumbersome and discriminatory election system, a nominee who received the majority of votes could lose because in a national presidential election the voting is done through the Electoral College process rather than directly by the people. There have been quite a few cases like that. I once told former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in reply to her grievances about our electoral system: “But look at your problem. Maybe you should try to correct this discriminatory voting system?” She replied that it is discriminatory but they are used to it and this is their problem, so I shouldn’t bother.

When the United States accuses us of interference in some area of its public, political or government life, we suggest discussing it to establish who is actually doing what. Since they don’t present any facts, we simply recite their Congressional acts. In 2014, they adopted an act on supporting Ukraine, which directly instructed the Department of State to spend $20 million a year on support for Russian NGOs. We asked whether this didn’t amount to interference. We were told by the US National Security Council that in reality they support democracy because we are wreaking chaos and pursuing authoritative and dictatorial trends abroad when we interfere in domestic affairs whereas they bring democracy and prosperity. This idea is deeply rooted in American mentality. The American elite has always considered its country and nation exceptional and has not been shy to admit it.

I won’t comment on the US election. This is US law and the US election system. Any comments I make will be again interpreted as an attempt to interfere in their domestic affairs. I will only say one thing that President Vladimir Putin has expressed many times, notably, that we will respect any outcome of these elections and the will of the American people.

We realise that there will be no major changes in our relations either with the Democrats or with the Republicans, as representatives of both parties loudly declare. However, there is hope that common sense will prevail and no matter who becomes President, the new US Government and administration will realise the need to cooperate with us in resolving very serious global problems on which the international situation depends.

Question: You mentioned an example where voters can choose one president and the Electoral College process, another. I even have that cover of Time magazine with Hillary Clinton and congratulations, released during the election. It is a fairly well-known story, when they ran this edition and then had to cancel it.

Sergey Lavrov: Even the President of France sent a telegramme, but then they immediately recalled it.

And these people are now claiming that Alexander Lukashenko is an illegitimate president.

Question: You mentioned NGOs. These people believe that NGOs in the Russian Federation support democratic institutions, although it is no secret to anyone who has at least a basic understanding of foreign and domestic policy that those NGOs act exclusively as institutions that destabilise the situation in the country.

Sergey Lavrov: Not all of them.

Question: Can you tell us more about this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have adopted a series of laws – on public associations, on non-profit organisations, on measures to protect people from human rights violations. There is a set of laws that regulate the activities of non-government organisations on our territory, both Russian and foreign ones.

Concepts have been introduced like “foreign agent,” a practice we borrowed from “the world’s most successful democracy” – the United States. They argue that we borrowed a practice from 1938 when the United States introduced the foreign agent concept to prevent Nazi ideology from infiltrating from Germany. But whatever the reason they had to create the concept – “foreign agent” – the Americans are still effectively using it, including in relation to our organisations and citizens, to Chinese citizens, to the media.

In our law, foreign agent status, whatever they say about it, does not prevent an organisation from operating on the territory of the Russian Federation. It just needs to disclose its funding sources and be transparent about the resources it receives. And even that, only if it is engaged in political activities. Initially, we introduced a requirement for these organisations that receive funding from abroad and are involved in political projects to initiate the disclosure process. But most of them didn’t want to comply with the law, so it was modified. Now this is done by the Russian Ministry of Justice.

Question: Do you think that NGOs are still soft power?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course. In Russia we have about 220,000 NGOs, out of which 180 have the status of a foreign agent. It’s a drop in the ocean. These are probably the organisations, funded from abroad, that are more active than others in promoting in our public space ideas that far from always correspond to Russian legislation.

There is also the notion of undesirable organisations. They are banned from working in the Russian Federation. But there are only about 30 of them, no more.

Question: Speaking about our soft power, what is our concept? What do we offer the world? What do you think the world should love us for? What is Russia’s soft power policy all about?

Sergey Lavrov: We want everything that has been created by nations and civilisations to be respected. We believe nobody should impose any orders on anyone, so that nothing like what has now happened in Hollywood takes place on a global scale. We think nobody should encroach on the right of each nation to have its historical traditions and moral roots. And we see attempts to encroach upon them.

If soft power is supposed to promote one’s own culture, language and traditions, in exchange for knowledge about the life of other nations and civilisations, then this is the approach that the Russian Federation supports in every way.

The Americans define the term “soft power” as an attempt to influence the hearts and minds of others politically. Their goal is not to promote their culture and language, but to change the mood of the political class with a view to subsequent regime change. They are doing this on a daily basis and don’t even conceal it. They say everywhere that their mission is to bring peace and democracy to all other countries.

Question: Almost any TV series out there shows the US president sitting in the Oval Office saying he’s the leader of the free world.

Sergey Lavrov: Not just TV series. Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that America is an exceptional nation and should be seen as an example by the rest of the world. My colleague Mike Pompeo recently said in the Czech Republic that they shouldn’t let the Russians into the nuclear power industry and should take the Russians off the list of companies that bid for these projects. It was about the same in Hungary. He then went to Africa and was quite vocal when he told the African countries not to do business with the Russians or the Chinese, because they are trading with the African countries for selfish reasons, whereas the US is establishing economic cooperation with them so they can prosper. This is a quote. It is articulated in a very straightforward manner, much the same way they run their propaganda on television in an unsophisticated broken language that the man in the street can relate to. So, brainwashing is what America’s soft power is known for.

Question: Not a single former Soviet republic has so far benefited from American soft power.

Sergey Lavrov: Not only former Soviet republics. Take a look at any other region where the Americans have effected a regime change.

QuestionLibya, Syria. We stood for Syria.

Sergey Lavrov: Iraq, Libya. They tried in Syria, but failed. I hope things will be different there. There’s not a single country where the Americans changed the regime and declared victory for democracy, like George W. Bush did on the deck of an aircraft carrier in Iraq in May 2003, which is prosperous now. He said democracy had won in Iraq. It would be interesting to know what the former US President thinks about the situation in Iraq today. But no one will, probably, go back to this, because the days when presidents honestly admitted their mistakes are gone.

QuestionHere I am listening to you and wondering how many people care about this? Why is it that no one understands this? Is this politics that is too far away from ordinary people who are nevertheless behind it? Take Georgia or Ukraine. People are worse off now than before, and despite this, this policy continues.

Will the Minsk agreements ever be implemented? Will the situation in southeastern Ukraine ever be settled?

Returning to what we talked about. How independent is Ukraine in its foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think that under the current Ukrainian government, just like under the previous president, we will see any progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements, if only because President Zelensky himself is saying so publicly, as does Deputy Prime Minister Reznikov who is in charge of the Ukrainian settlement in the Contact Group. Foreign Minister of Ukraine Kuleba is also saying this. They say there’s a need for the Minsk agreements and they cannot be broken, because these agreements (and accusing Russia of non-compliance) are the foundation of the EU and the US policy in seeking to maintain the sanctions on Russia. Nevertheless, such a distorted interpretation of the essence of the Minsk agreements, or rather an attempt to blame everything on Russia, although Russia is never mentioned there, has stuck in the minds of our European colleagues, including France and Germany, who, being co-sponsors of the Minsk agreements along with us, the Ukrainians and Donbass, cannot but realise that the Ukrainians are simply distorting their responsibilities, trying to distance themselves from them and impose a different interpretation of the Minsk agreements. But even in this scenario, the above individuals and former Ukrainian President Kravchuk, who now heads the Ukrainian delegation to the Contact Group as part of the Minsk process, claim that the Minsk agreements in their present form are impracticable and must be revised, turned upside down. Also, Donbass must submit to the Ukrainian government and army before even thinking about conducting reforms in this part of Ukraine.

This fully contradicts the sequence of events outlined in the Minsk agreements whereby restoring Ukrainian armed forces’ control on the border with Russia is possible only after an amnesty, agreeing on the special status of these territories, making this status part of the Ukrainian Constitution and holding elections there. Now they propose giving back the part of Donbass that “rebelled” against the anti-constitutional coup to those who declared these people terrorists and launched an “anti-terrorist operation” against them, which they later renamed a Joint Forces Operation (but this does not change the idea behind it), and whom they still consider terrorists. Although everyone remembers perfectly well that in 2014 no one from Donbass or other parts of Ukraine that rejected the anti-constitutional coup attacked the putschists and the areas that immediately fell under the control of the politicians behind the coup. On the contrary, Alexander Turchinov, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and others like them attacked these areas. The guilt of the people living there was solely in them saying, “You committed a crime against the state, we do not want to follow your rules, let us figure out our own future and see what you will do next.” There’s not a single example that would corroborate the fact that they engaged in terrorism. It was the Ukrainian state that engaged in terrorism on their territory, in particular, when they killed [Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic] Alexander Zakharchenko and a number of field commanders in Donbass. So, I am not optimistic about this.

Question: So, we are looking at a dead end?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, we still have an undeniable argument which is the text of the Minsk Agreements approved by the UN Security Council.

QuestionBut they tried to revise it?

Sergey Lavrov: No, they are just making statements to that effect. When they gather for a Contact Group meeting in Minsk, they do their best to look constructive. The most recent meeting ran into the Ukrainian delegation’s attempts to pretend that nothing had happened. They recently passed a law on local elections which will be held in a couple of months. It says that elections in what are now called the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics will be held only after the Ukrainian army takes control of the entire border and those who “committed criminal offenses” are arrested and brought to justice even though the Minsk agreements provide for amnesty without exemptions.

Question: When I’m asked about Crimea I recall the referendum. I was there at a closed meeting in Davos that was attended by fairly well respected analysts from the US. They claimed with absolute confidence that Crimea was being occupied. I reminded them about the referendum. I was under the impression that these people either didn’t want to see or didn’t know how people lived there, that they have made their choice. Returning to the previous question, I think that nobody is interested in the opinion of the people.

Sergey Lavrov: No, honest politicians still exist. Many politicians, including European ones, were in Crimea during the referendum. They were there not under the umbrella of some international organisation but on their own because the OSCE and other international agencies were controlled by our Western colleagues. Even if we had addressed them, the procedure for coordinating the monitoring would have never ended.

Question: Just as in Belarus. As I see it, they were also invited but nobody came.

Sergey Lavrov: The OSCE refused to send representatives there. Now that the OSCE is offering its services as a mediator, I completely understand Mr Lukashenko who says the OSCE lost its chance. It could have sent observers and gained a first-hand impression of what was happening there, and how the election was held. They arrogantly disregarded the invitation. We know that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is practically wholly controlled by NATO. We have repeatedly proposed that our nominees work there but they have not been approved. This contradicts the principles of the OSCE. We will continue to seek a fairer approach to the admission of members to the organisation, but I don’t have much hope for this. Former OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger made an effort with this for the past three years but not everything depended on him – there is a large bloc of EU and NATO countries that enjoy a mathematical majority and try to dictate their own rules. But this is a separate issue.

Returning to Crimea, I have read a lot about this; let me give you two examples. One concerns my relations with former US Secretary of State John Kerry. In April 2014, we met in Geneva: me, John Kerry, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and then Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshchitsa. We compiled a one page document that was approved unanimously. It read that we, the representatives of Russia, the US and the EU welcomed the commitments of the Ukrainian authorities to carry out decentralisation of the country with the participation of all the regions of Ukraine. This took place after the Crimean referendum. Later, the Americans, the EU and of course Ukraine “forgot” about this document. John Kerry told me at this meeting that everyone understood that Crimea was Russian, that the people wanted to return, but that we held the referendum so quickly that it didn’t fit into the accepted standards of such events. He asked me to talk to President Vladimir Putin, organise one more referendum, announce it in advance and invite international observers. He said he would support their visit there, that the result would be the same but that we would be keeping up appearances. I asked him why put on such shows if they understand that this was the expression of the will of the people.

The second example concerns the recent statements by the EU and the European Parliament to the effect that “the occupation” of Crimea is a crude violation of the world arrangement established after the victory in World War II. But if this criterion is used to determine where Crimea belongs, when the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic joined the UN after WWII in 1945, Crimea did not belong to it. Crimea was part of the USSR. Later, Nikita Khrushchev took an illegal action, which contradicted Soviet law, and this led to them having it. But we all understood that this was a domestic political game as regards a Soviet republic that was the home to Khrushchev and many of his associates.

Question: You have been Foreign Minister for 16 years now. This century’s major foreign policy challenges fell on your term in office. We faced sanctions, and we adapted to them and coped with them. Germany said it obtained Alexey Navalny’s test results. France and Sweden have confirmed the presence of Novichok in them. Reportedly, we are now in for more sanctions. Do you think the Navalny case can trigger new sanctions against Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with our political analysts who are convinced that if it were not for Navalny, they would have come up with something else in order to impose more sanctions.

With regard to this situation, I think our Western partners have simply gone beyond decency and reason. In essence, they are now demanding that we “confess.” They are asking us: Don’t you believe what the German specialists from the Bundeswehr are saying? How is that possible? Their findings have been confirmed by the French and the Swedes. You don’t believe them, either?

It’s a puzzling situation given that our Prosecutor General’s Office filed an inquiry about legal assistance on August 27 and hasn’t received an answer yet. Nobody knows where the inquiry has been for more than a week now. We were told it was at the German Foreign Ministry. The German Foreign Ministry did not forward the request to the Ministry of Justice, which was our Prosecutor General Office’s  ultimate addressee. Then, they said that it had been transferred to the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office, but they would not tell us anything without the consent of the family. They are urging us to launch a criminal investigation.

We have our own laws, and we cannot take someone’s word for it to open a criminal case. Certain procedures must be followed. A pre-investigation probe initiated immediately after this incident to consider the circumstances of the case is part of this procedure.

Some of our Western colleagues wrote that, as the German doctors discovered, it was “a sheer miracle” that Mr Navalny survived. Allegedly, it was the notorious Novichok, but he survived thanks to “lucky circumstances.” What kind of lucky circumstances are we talking about? First, the pilot immediately landed the plane; second, an ambulance was already waiting on the airfield; and third, the doctors immediately started to provide help. This absolutely impeccable behaviour of the pilots, doctors and ambulance crew is presented as “lucky circumstances.” That is, they even deny the possibility that we are acting as we should. This sits deep in the minds of those who make up such stories.

Returning to the pre-investigation probe, everyone is fixated on a criminal case. If we had opened a criminal case right away (we do not have legal grounds to do so yet, and that is why the Prosecutor General’s Office requested legal assistance from Germany on August 27), what would have been done when it happened? They would have interviewed the pilot, the passengers and the doctors. They would have found out what the doctors discovered when Navalny was taken to the Omsk hospital, and what medications were used. They would have interviewed the people who communicated with him. All of that was done. They interviewed the five individuals who accompanied him and participated in the events preceding Navalny boarding the plane; they interviewed the passengers who were waiting for a flight to Moscow in Tomsk and sat at the same bar; they found out what they ordered and what he drank. The sixth person, a woman who accompanied him, has fled, as you know. They say she was the one who gave the bottle to the German lab. All this has been done. Even if all of that was referred to as a “criminal case,” we couldn’t have done more.

Our Western partners are looking down on us as if we have no right to question what they are saying or their professionalism. If this is the case, it means that they dare to question the professionalism of our doctors and investigators. Unfortunately, this position is reminiscent of other times. Arrogance and a sense of infallibility have already been observed in Europe, and that led to very regrettable consequences.

Question: How would you describe this policy of confrontation? When did it start (I mean during your term of office)? It’s simply so stable at the moment that there seems no chance that something might change in the future.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken on this topic. I think that the onset of this policy, this era of constant pressure on Russia began with the end of a period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, a time when the West believed it had Russia there in its pocket – it ended, full stop. Unfortunately, the West does not seem to be able to wrap its head around this, to accept that there is no alternative to Russia’s independent actions, both domestically and on the international arena. This is why, unfortunately, this agony continues by inertia.

Having bad ties with any country have never given us any pleasure. We do not like making such statements in which we sharply criticise the position of the West. We always try to find compromises, but there are situations where it is hard not to come face to face with one another directly or to avoid frank assessments of what our Western friends are up to.

I have read what our respected political scientists write who are well known in the West. And I can say this idea is starting to surface ever stronger and more often – it is time we stop measuring our actions with the yardsticks that the West offers us and to stop trying to please the West at all costs. These are very serious people and they are making a serious point. The fact that the West is prodding us to this way of thinking, willingly or unwillingly, is obvious to me. Most likely, this is being done involuntarily. But it is a big mistake to think that Russia will play by Western rules in any case – as big a mistake as like approaching China with the same yardstick.

Question: Then I really have to ask you. We are going through digitalisation. I think when you started your diplomatic career, you could not even have imagined that some post on Twitter could affect the political situation in a country. Yet – I can see your smile – we are living in a completely different world. Film stars can become presidents; Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can become drivers of political campaigns – that happened more than once – and those campaigns can be successful. We are going through digitalisation, and because of this, many unexpected people appear in international politics – unexpected for you, at least. How do you think Russia’s foreign policy will change in this context? Are we ready for social media to be impacting our internal affairs? Is the Chinese scenario possible in Russia, with most Western social media blocked to avoid their influence on the internal affairs in that country?

Sergey Lavrov: Social media are already exerting great influence on our affairs. This is the reality in the entire post-Soviet space and developing countries. The West, primarily the United States, is vigorously using social media to promote their preferred agenda in just about any state. This necessitates a new approach to ensuring the national security. We have been doing this for a long time already.

As for regulating social media, everyone does it. You know that the digital giants in the United States have been repeatedly caught introducing censorship, primarily against us, China or other countries they dislike, shutting off information that comes from these places.

The internet is regulated by companies based in the United States, everyone knows that. In fact, this situation has long made the overwhelming majority of countries want to do something about it, considering the global nature of the internet and social media, to make sure that the management processes are approved at a global level, become transparent and understandable. The International Telecommunication Union, a specialised UN agency, has been out there for years. Russia and a group of other co-sponsoring countries are promoting the need to regulate the internet in such a way that everyone understands how it works and what principles govern it, in this International Union. Now we can see how Mark Zuckerberg and other heads of large IT companies are invited to the Congress and lectured there and asked to explain what they are going to do. We can see this. But a situation where it will be understandable for everyone else and, most importantly, where everyone is happy with it, still seems far away.

For many years, we have been promoting at the UN General Assembly an initiative to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour of states in the sphere of international information security. This initiative has already led to set up several working groups, which have completed their mandate with reports. The last such report was reviewed last year and another resolution was adopted. This time, it was not a narrow group of government experts, but a group that includes all UN member states. It was planning to meet, but things slowed down due to the coronavirus. The rules for responsible conduct in cyberspace are pending review by this group. These rules were approved by the SCO, meaning they already reflect a fairly large part of the world’s population.

Our other initiative is not about the use of cyberspace for undermining someone’s security; it is about fighting crimes (pedophilia, pornography, theft) in cyberspace. This topic is being considered by another UNGA committee. We are preparing a draft convention that will oblige all states to suppress criminal activities in cyberspace.

QuestionDo you think that the Foreign Ministry is active on this front? Would you like to be more proactive in the digital dialogue? After all, we are still bound by ethics, and have yet to understand whether we can cross the line or not. Elon Musk feels free to make any statements no matter how ironic and makes headlines around the world, even though anything he says has a direct bearing on his market cap. This is a shift in the ethics of behaviour. Do you think that this is normal? Is this how it should be? Or maybe people still need to behave professionally?

Sergey Lavrov: A diplomat can always use irony and a healthy dose of cynicism. In this sense, there is no contradiction here. However, this does not mean that while making ironic remarks on the surrounding developments or comments every once in a while (witty or not so witty), you do not have to work on resolving legal matters related to internet governance. This is what we are doing.

The Foreign Ministry has been at the source of these processes. We have been closely coordinating our efforts on this front with the Security Council Office, and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media and other organisations. Russian delegations taking part in talks include representatives from various agencies. Apart from multilateral platforms such as the International Telecommunication Union, the UN General Assembly and the OSCE, we are working on this subject in bilateral relations with our key partners.

We are most interested in working with our Western partners, since we have an understanding on these issues with countries that share similar views. The Americans and Europeans evade these talks under various pretexts. There seemed to be an opening in 2012 and 2013, but after the government coup in Ukraine, they used it as a pretext to freeze this process. Today, there are some signs that the United States and France are beginning to revive these contacts, but our partners have been insufficiently active. What we want is professional dialogue so that they can raise all their concerns and accusations and back them with specific facts. We stand ready to answer all the concerns our partners may have, and will not fail to voice the concerns we have. We have many of them.

During the recent visit by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Russia, I handed him a list containing dozens of incidents we have identified: attacks against our resources, with 70 percent of them targeting state resources of the Russian Federation, and originating on German territory. He promised to provide an answer, but more than a month after our meeting we have not seen it so far.

Question: Let me ask you about another important initiative by the Foreign Ministry. You decided to amend regulations enabling people to be repatriated from abroad for   free, and you proposed subjecting the repatriation guarantee to the reimbursement of its cost to the budget. Could you tell us, please, is this so expensive for the state to foot this bill?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, these a substantial expenses. The resolution that provided for offering free assistance was adopted back in 2010, and was intended for citizens who find themselves in situations when their life is at risk. Imagine a Russian ambassador. Most of the people ask for help because they have lost money, their passport and so on. There are very few cases when an ambassador can actually say that a person is in a life-threatening situation and his or her life is in danger. How can an ambassador take a decision of this kind? As long as I remember, these cases can be counted on the fingers of my two hands since 2010, when an ambassador had to take responsibility and there were grounds for offering this assistance. We wanted to ensure that people can get help not only when facing an imminent danger (a dozen cases in ten years do not cost all that much). There were many more cases when our nationals found themselves in a difficult situation after losing money or passports. We decided to follow the practices used abroad. Specifically, this means that we provide fee-based assistance. In most cases, people travelling abroad can afford to reimburse the cost of a return ticket.

This practice is designed to prevent fraud, which remains an issue. We had cases when people bought one-way tickets knowing that they will have to be repatriated.

Question: And with no return ticket, they go to the embassy?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, after that they come to the embassy. For this reason, I believe that the system we developed is much more convenient and comprehensive for dealing with the situations Russians get into when travelling abroad, and when we have to step in to help them through our foreign missions.

Question: Mr Lavrov, thank you for your time. As a Georgian, I really have to ask this. Isn’t it time to simplify the visa regime with Georgia? A second generation of Georgians has now grown up that has never seen Russia. What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: Georgians can travel to Russia – they just need to apply for a visa. The list of grounds for obtaining a visa has been expanded. There are practically no restrictions on visiting Russia, after obtaining a visa in the Interests Section for the Russian Federation in Tbilisi or another Russian overseas agency.

As for visa-free travel, as you know, we were ready for this a year ago. We were actually a few steps away from being ready to announce it when that incident happened with the Russian Federal Assembly delegation to the International Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, where they were invited in the first place, seated in their chairs, and then violence was almost used against them.

I am confident that our relations with Georgia will recover and improve. We can see new Georgian politicians who are interested in this. For now, there are just small parties in the ruling elites. But I believe our traditional historical closeness, and the mutual affinity between our peoples will ultimately triumph. Provocateurs who are trying to prevent Georgia from resuming normal relations with Russia will be put to shame.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way as Ukraine. In Ukraine, the IMF plays a huge role. And the IMF recently decided that each tranche allocated to Ukraine would be short-term.

Question: Microcredits.

Sergey Lavrov: Microcredits and a short leash that can always be pulled a little.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way. We have no interest in seeing this situation continue. We did not start it and have never acted against the Georgian people. Everyone remembers the 2008 events, how American instructors arrived there and trained the Georgian army. The Americans were well aware of Mikheil Saakashvili’s lack of restraint. He trampled on all agreements and issued a criminal order.

We are talking about taking their word for it. There were many cases when we took their word for it, but then it all boiled down to zilch. In 2003, Colin Powell, a test tube – that was an academic version. An attack on Iraq followed. Many years later, Tony Blair admitted that there had been no nuclear weapons in Iraq. There were many such stories. In 1999, the aggression against Yugoslavia was triggered by the OSCE representative in the Balkans, US diplomat William Walker, who visited the village of Racak, where they found thirty corpses, and declared it genocide of the Albanian population. A special investigation by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found they were military dressed in civilian clothes. But Mr Walker loudly declared it was genocide. Washington immediately seized on the idea, and so did London and other capitals. NATO launched an aggression against Yugoslavia.

After the end of the five-day military operation to enforce peace, the European Union ordered a special report from a group of invited experts, including Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini. She was later involved in the Minsk process, and then she was asked to lead a group of experts who investigated the outbreak of the military conflict in August 2008. The conclusion was unambiguous. All this happened on the orders of Mikheil Saakashvili, and as for his excuses that someone had provoked him, or someone had been waiting for him on the other side of the tunnel, this was just raving.

Georgians are a wise nation. They love life, perhaps the same way and the same facets that the peoples in the Russian Federation do. We will overcome the current abnormal situation and restore normal relations between our states and people.


In addition, if you follow the Minister, follow up on this interview with Sputnik

Exclusive: Sergei Lavrov Talks About West’s Historical Revisionism, US Election and Navalny Case

Presidents that play chess

Presidents that play chess

September 15, 2020

by Katerina for the Saker Blog

This is a follow-up to my previous contribution, the “Relentless March” and I have to warn you, this one will be much harsher as it will be highlighting some home truths for east Europeans. If you are not ready or simply do not want to face those, I suggest you stop reading now.

In this essay, among other things, I will also try to provide some explanations as to why Russian President (VVP as he is widely known) does not respond to western provocations the way some people would like him to and it seems to bother them, especially those who see the perceived lack of response on his part as an indication of some weakness and indecisiveness..

He is none of that.

Although I have to admit that once I was one of these people. When ukro-nazis embarked on their killing spree in Donbass (historically part of Russia) and started killing Russian population there, I was absolutely enraged that the Russian Government has allowed for this horror to take place.

Looking back at it in a much calmer light I eventually realised that THAT was, without doubt, the right response on the part of Russia. If it got itself involved in that provocation, the body count would have been much, much higher.. besides, Donbass was helped in other ways.

What is a provocation? It is something that your enemy sets up, expecting you to react to it the way they were hoping you would react. So, what you do not do is GIVE them what they expected.

I will also admit that my understanding of this and other things to do with the actions of the Russian President are entirely due to my very calm, collected and analytical husband of Scottish ancestry, who would very patiently explain to me as to why VVP is doing what he does. Although, he had to calm me down first! He understood much better the Russian President’s thinking and actions, better than his Russian born wife! Must be the man thing. : )

I will also touch upon the attitudes towards Russia by former Eastern Bloc allies – former Warsaw Pact members and the reasons for their disturbing Russophobia that is being displayed towards Russia in the last couple of decades.

First on VVP.

President Putin is an exceptional strategist, not to mention, analyst and he sees all of this as a long engagement, very much the same as Chinese in that respect. The short- lived satisfaction of hitting back at every provocation thrown at him is definitely not the way he operates. He will respond only when that response is absolutely required, as in retaliatory sanctions on EU, which apparently now costing them BILLIONS, and his response will be selective and painful. He has also very adequately retaliated for the expulsion of Russian Diplomats after the made-up by UK Skripal nonsense.

He looks far ahead and plans accordingly. Crimea is a very good example of that. He knew what was brewing up in Ukraine for much longer than anyone of us, the Russian intelligence service is second to none, and he was absolutely prepared for that. The speed of his counter-actions there was breath-taking.

And here I will describe the sheer imbecility and stunning ignorance of some morons (no other way to describe them) in the USA administration. Did you know that one of their main objectives in meddling in Ukraine was to remove the Russian Naval Base from Crimea and replace it with their own? They even made plans for the adaptation of the barracks there! Talk about absolute insanity and DELUSION. They actually thought that they could pull that off!! Beyond belief.. But that’s the mentality of the people Russians are dealing with here. The sheer ignorance of not only a country’s history but also it’s sacrifices is incredible! Russian Crimea has always been an extremely important asset to Russia, hence the several and very bloody wars it had to fight with the Ottoman Empire to wrench it back from them. Since then it has always been the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet- it is a highly strategic naval base, which also of course, gives Russia an access to the Mediterranean and beyond.

Those imbecilic morons, who planned such idiocy actually thought that they could just cruise in there!! Oh my God… what passes for brains among that lot?!

Their sanctions, which were wheeled out almost immediately when their plan did not succeed, was the result of what can only be described as “sour grapes”. Their Euro “allies” were rather reluctant to join them in those sanctions as most Europeans know very well that Crimea has always been Russian, for more than two centuries, and were fearing the reciprocal sanctions from Russia.

To force their Euro vassals to join them in imposing the sanctions, the imbeciles decided that something needed to be done to make that happen. And so, together with their ukie flunkies that is exactly what they have carried out – an unbelievably evil and shocking crime of shooting down a passenger airliner. The screaming headlines that Russia did it and not only that, Putin himself was responsible, were all over their Western media even before “the wreckage hit the ground”. Their Euro “allies’ had no choice now but to go along with the sanctions. Cui bono? I will repeat again – this is the psychopathic mentality Russia and her President are dealing with.

As for those sanctions – here is a good example of when you “get lemons you turn them into lemonade”. Again, things were anticipated and everything was in place. Since Russian retaliatory sanctions, which were imposed on EU immediately, were to do with banning food imports from Europe, Russia had to become much more self-sufficient in providing for itself what was needed, also including substitutions. In fact, having more adequate self-sufficiency was something that the Russian President had been advocating for years prior – all of this totally played into his hands.

Donbass also wanted to re-join Mother Russia, same as Crimea, but VVP sees it as a very useful buffer and wants to keep it that way. Donbass is protected and now it is de-facto Russian, with same currency, pensions (Kiev “government” stopped paying those when the conflict started), same education programmes as in Russia and of course Russian passports. Russia has got back most of what for centuries belonged to it. Two more regions of what used to be called Ukraine – the south east of it, Mariupol and Odessa in the south (as Russian as it gets!) will eventually follow Donbass, and the rest, as far as Russia is concerned, can go to hell. The western part of so-called Ukraine is former Galicia, the ukro-nazis breeding ground that Russia wouldn’t want to touch with a barge pole, Poland can have it back. In fact, welcome to it!

“Ukraine” as most people know by now, is an artificial construct, (same as EU by the way and as such, will also have no longevity), was created by the Bolsheviks – some territory was added by Lenin (Novorussia), later, the Western parts, by Stalin after WWII and in 1954 Khruschev has “gifted” them Crimea, probably after having one too many one evening. Even under the Soviet Constitution at the time, that was ILLEGAL, as such a move required a Referendum, but being one big USSR with no borders between Republics it did not matter that much at the time. After the break-up of the Soviet Union all historically Russian parts of it should have been returned back to Russia. Ukraine hung on to these for one simple reason – money. Novorussia, which includes Donbass, was the most industrialised part of that country, as for Crimea, well, they were getting paid by Russia for the base.

As for the rest of the former USSR – the cheap little Baltic prostitutes – well, those three have already paid a very heavy price for prostituting themselves to the West. Their economies are routed, population drastically shrunk. Once the supply of money from EU dries out, they will be thrown to the kerb. What’s called “used and abused” and it will be richly deserved. Under no circumstances Russia would want those back.

Georgia is facing a similar fate – the country which owes its very existence to the protection by Imperial Russia at the time, from the total annihilation by Ottomans, and of course with loss of Russian lives.. Rings the bell, doesn’t it? What some of these former Soviet republics have discovered, is that without Russia they are rather nothing, non-entities. The West is simply using them and the very thing that they all had eagerly engaged in, meaning Russophobia – as was demanded and expected by their new, western Master, is now coming back at them with a vengeance. Most of them are broke, depopulated, despised, with no future prospects. That is the price you pay for Russophobia. I believe other countries in Eastern Europe should take some serious notice here as they are pretty much in the same boat, whether they would want to admit that to themselves or not.

After the collapse of the USSR the former Warsaw Pact members, comprising of Eastern Europe states became immediately “invaded” – by various western NGOs, “experts”, “advisors” and what not. Same was happening in Russia – the goal there of course, was looting and pillage, in Eastern block the goal was also plain and simple – to convert them all into one Russophobic entity. And once these countries became members of EU and NATO, well.. what can one say.

It usually starts with the re-writing of one’s history and inventing lies to fit that, and then the insidious, constant and pervasive brainwashing that the Soviet Union (and by extension, Russia) was bad, was an invader and aggressor, no better than the Nazis and Stalin was just as bad as Hitler, etc and so on, was unleashed and has never stopped..

Ironically, these East European nations that have suddenly achieved their long-cherished dream of becoming a part of this “EUROPE”, did not realise at the time that to this “EUROPE” they were nothing more than holops, good old-fashioned Russian word for lowly servant. As they were gleefully giving a middle finger to their Slavic brothers in the East, their new Western Master fully expected them to polish his boots, muck out the stables and fetch and carry. Pathetic is not even a good enough word to describe it. The day might come when you would NEED that Russia, but by then you would have burned all your bridges..

Now, what we have there is at least two generations of these east Europeans that are totally brainwashed, indoctrinated and absolutely ignorant of their ACTUAL history.

Their grandparents and even parents perhaps could tell them that life as they knew it, wasn’t that bad being part of the Eastern Block alliance with the Soviet Union. There was no “ghastly tyranny”, “oppressions” or “massacres” – it was in fact a peaceful and friendly cooperation. In case of the “INVASIONS” of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, well, at the time, the usual EXTERNAL players were trying to foment there the early versions of what is now called “colour revolutions” – obviously those two had to be brought back in line. It was an alliance after all.

One would think that in today’s world where you can get any information you need, there would be at least some attempt to get a true picture of your own history and not become victims of this despicable indoctrination and the vile, “in your face” propaganda. Critical thinking is obviously no longer taught in the class, let alone the ability to have an INFORMED opinion as compared to an acquired attitude. As a result, most of them now have a firm belief that Russia was and is some “enemy” – EXACTLY what your NATO masters want you to believe. The “West” has done it’s job rather well with you – producing generations of dumb-downed, ignorant and brainwashed, and to that lot we can add the sold-out, totally self-serving and west-worshipping “elites” and the rest is just a silent mass.

This is what most East European countries have become. Only Serbia so far has not sold itself out, but her government, unfortunately has, as was amply demonstrated by the latest developments, which I am sure made most Serbs cringe. This, your sad quisling “government” needs to be replaced, and fast. There are, no doubt, lots of great people in Serbia who love their country. Vote for these.

As for the rest of Eastern Europe, I will say this – re-writing your history is never a good move and neither is inventing lies to suit. Pulling down statues of Soviet heroes that liberated your countries from the Nazi scourge is just as bad. And shameful.

I will repeat – the EU is an artificial construct and as such will have no longevity and THEN where would you be?

Unfortunately, Russia also has few of those brainwashed morons as well. This rather useless idiot, Navalny, whom the West has been lovingly grooming to be a “face of Russian opposition” and who is a long-time recipient of Soros’s grants, even he has some following. Not large but none the less showing the exact same mentality shaped by some delusional beliefs picked up from so-called “social media” and in a very much the same age group. They don’t even realise that what they are displaying is a dumb, sheeple mentality and of course, ignorance. It is truly sad to see. I wonder how many of them will believe another made up garbage with another alleged “Novichok poisoning”, now of this twat. By the way, these politicians in Germany that are actually promoting this, do they comprehend as to how utterly stupid they come across with this idiotic accusation? Feel like saying to them – for crying out loud, give it a rest!

Just to note, according to Lavrov, UK still has not produced ANY evidence to support THEIR accusations of the totally made-up and “highly likely” Scripal “poisoning” tale. Well, how can one? But never mind, meanwhile the Russian Diplomats were expelled, en-masse, and some diplomatic properties illegally seized. Mission accomplished.

Sometimes I feel really sorry for both Putin and Lavrov as to what kind of people they have to deal with..

As for the Russian President, it has been often said that he is a very good chess player, and for a chess player to be that good he needs to anticipate his opponent’s every move, well in advance. Besides, he is playing that chess not on just one chessboard, but several at once and dealing with SUCH people it becomes quite a challenge to anticipate every deranged MENDACITY as being displayed by them.

What makes the Russian President stand head and shoulders above those Western politicians is not only his strategic thinking, but his morals and also his unshakable belief in a lawful approach in everything that matters. If you have signed some agreement you absolutely keep to it, if you have given your word you honour it.

In addition, he is also of course a judo master and for these who are not familiar with this particular form of martial art, the objective is to defeat your opponent by using THEIR OWN bulk and strength against them to get them off balance and then throw them on the floor. Hmm..

This is what THE WEST is dealing with when it comes to the President of Russia. There will be some detractors here, sadly without much ability for an astute analysis, who would immediately label me as being Putin’s fan, but we will ignore them. The man is formidable, in every respect.

What most Russians want from their President now is to show a much harder edge, and THAT is actually happening. Lavrov, being a Diplomat Supreme, has been showing this lately, quite noticeably, in his responses, which are now much more pointed, direct and blunt. Still, caution is required.

The hegemon is collapsing in front of our eyes and this is one of the most dangerous moments, but as I have pointed out in one of my previous comments, there is a very wise saying, I believe by SUN TZU – why disturb your enemy when it’s self- destructing. The only question is how much destruction can it wreak on the rest of us in its death throes. A very careful approach is absolutely essential now – the aim is to make this collapse more of a “controlled demolition” than to have it as a very destructive explosion in which many could be very badly hurt as a result, especially with regard to their economies, already rather shaky amid this “scamdemic”.

That is what, I believe, VVP and Xi are now working on, very carefully. Hence the very calculated responses to numerous stupid and nasty provocations. And lots of patience.

We are indeed living in very interesting times.

How Xinjiang “interferes” with the EU-China deal

How Xinjiang “interferes” with the EU-China deal

September 15, 2020

By Pepe Escobar with permission from the author and first posted at Asia Times

A Beijing-Brussels-Berlin special: that was quite the video-summit.

From Beijing, we had President Xi Jinping. From Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel. And from Brussels, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The Chinese billed it as the first summit “of its kind in history”.

It was actually the second high-level meeting of the Chinese and European leadership in two months. And it took place only a few days after a high-level tour by Foreign Minister Wang Yi encompassing France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway, and the visit by the powerful “Yoda” of the State Council, Yang Jiechi, to Spain and Greece.

The Holy Grail at the end of all these meetings – face-to-face and virtual – is the China-EU investment treaty. Germany currently heads the EU presidency for six months. Berlin wanted the treaty to be signed at a summit in Leipzig this month uniting the EU-27 and Beijing. But Covid-19 had other plans.

So the summit was metastasized into this mini videoconference. The treaty is still supposed to be signed before the end of 2020.

Adding an intriguing note, the mini-summit also happened one day before Premier Li Keqiang attended a Special Virtual Dialogue with Business Leaders, promoted by the World Economic Forum (WEF). It’s unclear whether Li will discuss the intricacies of the Great Reset with Klaus Schwab – not to mention whether China subscribes to it.

We are “still committed”

The mini EU-China video summit was quite remarkable for its very discreet spin. The UE, officially, now considers China as both an essential partner and a “strategic rival”. Brussels is adamant on its will to “cooperate” while defending is notorious human rights “values”.

As for the investment treaty, the business Holy Grail which has been under negotiation for seven years now, Ursula von der Leyen said “there’s still much to be done”.

What the EU essentially wants is equal treatment for their companies in China, similar to how Chinese companies are treated inside the EU. Diplomats confirmed the key areas are telecoms, the automobile market – which should be totally open – and the end of unfair competition by Chinese steel.

Last week, the head of Siemens, Joe Kaeser, threw an extra spanner in the works, telling Die Zeit that “we categorically condemn every form of oppression, forced labor and threat to human rights”, referring to Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

That caused quite a stir. At least 10% of Siemens business is generated in China, where the company is present since 1872 and employs over 35,000 people. Siemens was forced to publicly state that it is “still committed” to China.

China has been Germany’s top trade partner since 2017 – ahead of France and the US. So it’s no wonder alarm bells started to ring, on and off. It was in January last year that the BDI – the Federation of German Industries – first defined China as a “systemic competitor”, and not only as a “partner”. The concern was centered on market “distortions” and the barriers against German competition inside China.

The mini video-summit took place as the trade war unleashed by Washington against Beijing has reached Cold War 2.0 proportions. EU diplomats, uncomfortably, and off the record, admit that the Europeans are caught in the middle and the only possible strategy is to try to advance their economic interests while insisting on the same panacea of human rights.

Thus the official EU demand this Monday – unreported in Chinese media: allow us to send “independent observers” to Xinjiang.

Those Uighur jihadis

So we’re back, inevitably, to the hyper-incandescent issue of Xinjiang “concentration camps”.

The Atlanticist establishment has unleashed a ferocious, no holds barred campaign to shape the narrative that Beijing is conducting no less than cultural genocide in Xinjiang.

Apart from United States government rhetoric, the campaign is mostly conducted by “influencer” US thinks tanks such as this one, which issue reports that turn viral on Western corporate media.

One of these reports quotes “numerous firsthand accounts from Uighurs” who are defined as “employed” to perform forced labor. As a result, the global supply chain, according to the report, is “likely tainted with forced labor”.

The operative word is “likely”. As in Russia is “likely” interfering in US elections and “likely” poisoning opponents of the Kremlin. There’s no way to verify the accuracy of the sources quoted in these reports – which happen to be conveniently financed by “multiple donors interested in commerce in Asia.” Who are these donors? What is their agenda? Who will profit from the kind of “commerce in Asia” they are pushing?

On a personal level, Xinjiang was at the top of my travel priorities this year – then laid to rest by Covid-19 – because I want to check by myself all aspects of what’s really goin’ on in China’s Far West.

As it stands, US copycat “influencers” in the EU are having free reign to impose the narrative about Uighur forced labor, stressing that the clothes Europeans are wearing “could” – and the operative word is “could” – be made by forced laborers.

Don’t expect the Atlanticist network to even bother to offer context in terms of China fighting terrorism in Xinjiang.

In the old al-Qaeda days, I visited and interviewed Uighur jihadis locked up in a sprawling prison set up by the mujahideen under commander Masoud in the Panjshir valley. They had all been indoctrinated by imams preaching in Saudi-financed madrassas across Xinjiang.

More recently, Uighur Salafi-jihadis have been very active in Syria: at least 5,000, according to the Syrian embassy in Beijing.

Beijing knows exactly what would happen if they return to Xinjiang, as much as Moscow knows what would happen if Chechen jihadis return to the Caucasus.

So it’s no wonder that China has to act. That includes closing madrassas, detaining imams and arresting – and “re-“educating” – possible jihadis and their families.

Forget about the West offering context about the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), which declared an Islamic Emirate, ISIS/Daesh-style, in November 2019 in Idlib, northwest Syria. TIP was founded in Xinjiang 12 years ago and has been very active in Syria since 2011 – exactly the same year when they claimed to be responsible for a terror operation in Kashgar which killed 23 people.

It’s beyond pathetic that the West killed and displaced Muslim multitudes – directly and indirectly – with the “war on terror” just to become oh so worried with the plight of the Uighurs.

It’s more enlightening to remember history. As in the autumn of 821, when princess Taihe, sister of a Tang dynasty emperor, rode in a Bactrian camel, her female attendants following her in treasured Ferghana horses, all the way from the imperial palace in Chang’an to the land of the Uighurs.

Princess Taihe had been chosen as a living tribute – and was on her way to wed the Uighur kaghan to cement their peoples’ friendship. She came from the east, but her dress and ornaments were from the west, from the Central Asian steppes and deserts where she would live her new life.

And by the way, the Uighurs and the Tang dynasty were allies.

THE NAVALNY CASE: MERKEL VS. GERMAN DEEP STATE

The Navalny Case: Merkel vs. German Deep State

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

What happened to Navalny?

The short answer is we don’t know. Open-source information is contradictory in the extreme. However, both the course of events and Russian expert opinions make the allegation that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent  Russian doctors, including world-renowned toxicologists who have ran analyses on Navalny’s biological samples, are adamant there were no signs of poisoning, and instead hypothesized he has suffered from a rare metabolic disorder. Chemical weapons specialists are similarly incredulous that Navalny supposedly transferred traces of the nerve agent to a water bottle in his possession (as alleged by German politicians) but managed not to poison anyone on that flight, in spite of throwing up in the airplane bathroom and having to be manhandled by passengers and crew after losing consciousness. Nor was the Omsk hospital staff affected—evaluations performed afterwards showed no presence of toxic substances consistent with nerve agents. The absence of nerve agent in Navalny while in Russia is also indirectly confirmed by the Russian government’s willingness, even eagerness, to have him fly to Germany in order to not have his potential death on their hands. That permission would have never been given had nerve agent poisoning been detected in Russia or, worse, Russian leadership actually ordered Navalny killed by poison, which is an extremely unlikely proposition for a wide range of reasons. Moreover, had that order been given, Navalny would have died in the Omsk hospital that actually saved his life—a fact that is hardly consistent with the Putin-ordered assassination theory. Poisoning Navalny, then saving his life and allowing him to go to a NATO country with traces of the poison still in his body, in order to enjoy the inevitable international scandal, simply flies in the face of logic and common sense.

The Navalny Case: Merkel vs. German Deep State
Alexey Navalny

The German version is of course the one Western media portrayed as unalloyed truth. Navalny was poisoned with a “novichok family” nerve agent, with traces of it found in Navalny’s skin and blood samples, and the aforementioned water bottle that remained in the possession of Navalny’s relatives (who likewise suffered no ill effects from handling it). However, according to German news reports, it took several days to isolate the tocsin, and moreover, in contrast to Russian doctors and specialists who spoke on the record, German experts and physicians are entirely anonymous. No German toxicologists have yet come forward and put their reputations on the line. Apart from anonymous press releases, the only Germans to have voiced the allegation of Navalny poisoning are politicians, including Angela Merkel and her Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. To make matters worse, the Bundeswehr biochemical warfare lab that delivered the diagnosis refuses to release a detailed report on how it analyzed the samples, citing “secrecy”.

All in all, in the absence of evidence and given the lack of transparency of the German investigation, combined with the unwillingness to provide Russia with any official documents on the matter, suggests the German version is the less credible of the two by far. What might account for this disparity?

Der Merkelbunker

Considering the state of affairs described above, it would appear that Angela Merkel was set up, with the main question here being, by whom? Even though from the perspective of “cui bono” United States is the obvious suspect, it does not appear “highly likely” it was the reason German labs may have found byproducts of a nerve agent in Navalny’s system. One can also rule out a British or US intelligence operation in the Russian Federation. US agents would have risked capture, and entrusting Navalny’s entourage with such a mission would be a recipe for disaster. Moreover, were Navalny poisoned in Russia by US or British agents, signs of poisoning would have been quickly detected, and an investigation launched against the most likely suspects in Russia.

The Navalny Case: Merkel vs. German Deep State

It appears more “highly likely” that Angela Merkel’s own government factions played a really nasty trick on her, by opportunistically using Navalny’s illness in order to exert pressure on Merkel and force her to scuttle North Stream 2 which is, after all, one of her signature projects. This would not only fatally weaken her politically, but also force a reorientation of Germany’s foreign policy toward a higher state of confrontation with both Russia and China, incidentally fully subordinating its not only foreign but also domestic economic policy to the United States. Angela Merkel’s relatively measured approach to Russia is not due to her being some sort of a Russophile. There is no evidence suggesting such a set of beliefs. She is, however, a German nationalist who is aggressively pursuing the goal of expanding Germany’s power through the domination of the EU, and extensive economic contacts with Eurasia. These policies naturally made her enemies in both Europe and the United States.

But her luster as a leader has worn down over time, making the maintenance of the ruling coalition an ever more difficult task. While her position as Chancellor is still secure, Merkel was not able to avoid being surrounded by ministers who do not share her worldview, and instead have an Atlanticist orientation. The two German politicians who are prime candidates for this betrayal of Merkel are Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (or AKK), the current Defense Minister and chairwoman of CDU who ousted Merkel from that post in 2018, and Heiko Maas, the Foreign Minister. Both of them have been critical of North Stream 2 in the past, have espoused hard-line anti-Russia and pro-US views to the point of advocating the dispatch of German warships to the South China Sea, and who moreover control the relevant entities in the investigation of the Navalny “poisoning”. Maas, for his part, has been speaking in terms of ultimatums leveled at Russia, demanding that it explain how Navalny was poisoned with Novichok in Russia and prove its innocence, a task that he surely knows is impossible to fulfill. It is not difficult to imagine that as soon as the Navalny saga unfolded, Maas and AKK worked behind the scenes to have Navalny flown to Germany as soon as possible, with a German intelligence agent introducing a tiny dose of cholinesterase inhibitors, possibly Novichok-related ones, upon his arrival in Germany. When Charite apparently refused to play ball and limited itself to an inconclusive “cholinesterase inhibitor” funding, the matter was promptly handed over to AKK’s Bundeswehr lab where the desired result was duly produced.

https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/6867604717028117766?lang=en-GB

Since Germany is refusing to release the results of Bundeswehr’s testing or to have Navalny re-examined by Russian or international doctors and compare the results of German and Russian analyses (with Merkel tellingly unable to compel her institutions to actually participate in an effort that would almost certainly exonerate Russia), one can now predict that Russia will fail to “convince” AKK and Maas of its innocence, with the outcome being termination of North Stream 2, “coronation” of AKK as the next Chancellor of Germany, and a crackdown on political parties like AfD and Die Linke who have been vocal in questioning the official narrative. Indeed, with the German military and intelligence services playing an active “behind the scenes” role in German politics, one cannot even rule out a “Reichstag fire” style scenario.

Lessons Learned and Crises to Come

The Russian government clearly miscalculated in allowing Navalny to go to Germany, expecting that Angela Merkel still had sufficient political pull to override her hawkish entourage and force a transparent investigation that would reveal the nature of Navalny’s illness. The more appropriate course of action would have been to keep Navalny in Omsk and invite German doctors to perform analyses of Navalny’s blood samples right there in Omsk, where there was no danger of chain-of-custody violation by third parties determined to plant evidence pointing at Npvichok.

But what is even more worrisome is that Western intelligence services, apparently after being burned by the inept staging of the Douma false flag, have found an almost surefire way to stage “Novichok” false flags. From now on literally every loss of consciousness by a prominent figure can be transformed into an international scandal, as long as there is a compliant NATO biochemical warfare laboratory willing to deliver the required diagnosis, without ever having to reveal how it reached that conclusion.  We should expect this tactic will be used many times in the future.

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The Quiet Imperialism

The Quiet Imperialism

September 05, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Many if not most Americans have always been in denial about the imperial ambitions and practices of US foreign policy. There are honourable exceptions – Noam Chomsky, Tulsi Gabbard come immediately to mind. But on the whole the direction of US geopolitical strategy has been guided and implemented by a small cabal of geopolitical fanatics; these are ensconced in various state and non-state organizations such as the media and various think-tanks and have had a wholly negative effect on US foreign policy, both in practise and theory. The US’s global adventurism has been regarded by the US public, insofar that it concerns itself with such matters, as being conceived in good faith and benign in intent. Unfortunately, the facts don’t conform to the popular trust that American citizens put in their government, particularly the Deep State, National Security Agencies, the political elites, and the Military Industrial Complex, not to mention the mainstream media.

This popular narrative of America qua global good-guy was very beautifully illustrated in a novel by the British author Graham Greene. The novel The Quiet American was set against the background of the first Indo-China war, with one of the central characters, Alden Pyle, an ostensibly idealistic young American Aid worker, who presented himself as a proto third-way reformist opposed both to the excesses of French colonialism on the one hand, and Chinese Communism on the other. But in fact he was nothing of the sort, and his baleful motives are soon uncovered by the cynical, world-weary British journalist, Thomas Fowler. As it turned out Pyle had been working for the CIA all along. The novel itself has been made into two motion pictures. Both are well worth watching and instructive. The novel was of course an allegory on what was happening and what has always been happening in geopolitical national rivalries and machtpolitik.

Thus US imperialism is the theory and practise which dare not speak its name. In the third world, however, and increasingly in the developed world, the facts are plain to see for all but the ideologically purblind. The US, particularly since the neo-conservative ascendancy, is a rampaging imperial juggernaut, with a blatant empire-building agenda. The US imperial project was from 1945 onwards held in check by social democratic obstacles in western Europe, the existence of the Soviet and East Asian Communist bloc and national anti-colonialist movements in the south. But with the collapse of communism, the ongoing enervation and retreat of social democracy, and the stalling of the anti-colonial struggle in the south, the rapacious beast of American imperialism was off the leash.

Moreover, the US has made it perfectly clear that it will not tolerate the reconstitution of any economic or military power capable of challenging its global domination. (see The Wolfowitz Doctrine.) To this end it has arrogated to itself the right to wage ‘preventive wars’ against those who may sometime in the future threaten its global ambitions. The global system has been unipolar but now its dominance is being challenged by new adversaries, particularly Russia, China, and perhaps Iran and the Americans are determined to contain what they regard as a strategic challenge.

This project is assuredly not lacking in ambition. It aims at extending the ‘Monroe Doctrine’ to the whole planet; the establishment of a sort of US global suzerainty. This would be difficult for the US to accomplish alone – it therefore has to form alliances and spheres of influence with other (subaltern) partners in the developed world. Roughly speaking the geopolitical configuration for America’s global project is as follows.

The phase of the (present) global development of capitalism is characterised by the emergence of a collective imperialism. The entirety of the Americas, Europe west of the Polish frontier and Japan, to which we should add Australia and New Zealand, defines the area of this collective imperialism. It ‘’manages’’ the economic dimension of capitalist globalization and the political military dimension through NATO, whose responsibilities have been redefined so that in effect it can substitute itself for the United Nations.

This requires some skilful diplomatic balancing between the US and its junior partners – particularly within the EU, where conflict between certain European states and the US is always a possibility. This is clearly evident in the spat between Germany and the US with the contretemps over Nordstream-2 and the stationing of US troops in Germany. To this end the mobilization of various euro-quisling elites – the UK, Poland, and according to Donald Rumsfeld the ‘new’ (Eastern) Europe – are vital for America’s policy of divide and rule in this area. Moreover the globalization agenda (the economic prong in the US global offensive) has become the received wisdom in the EU. As for the Euro it has become a satellite currency of the dollar, although it is in fact a stronger currency since it is based upon a euro economy which runs persistent trade surpluses with the United States (as does most everybody else).

Thus the EU – with the possible exception of France – has tended to meekly follow in the wake of the US hegemon ensnared in an Atlanticist doctrine for which the raison d’etre – if there ever was one – definitively ended with the cold war. And the world pays a heavy price for this.

According to Samir Amin:

‘‘The US economy lives as a parasite off its partners in the global system, with virtually no national savings of its own. The world produces while North America consumes … The fact is that the bulk of the American deficit (on Federal and Current Account) is covered by capital inputs from Europe and Japan, China and the South, rich oil-producing and comprador classes from all regions in the Third World – to which should be added the debt service levy that is imposed on nearly every country in the periphery of the global system. The American superpower depends day to day on the flow of capital that sustains the parasitism of its economy and society.’’ (1)

This was written by Amin back in 2006, but the US’s drive has not really altered that much in the interim. If anything it has become even more bellicose in pursuit of its quest for world hegemony. However, today, we not only have a clash of interests with the Germans and the US over the above issues. And despite the nominally peaceful intentions between the US and its allies (vassals) eventually the rising nations find that pursuing their own interests hits the barriers of the prevailing international order. And the further the old powers try to sustain their outdated settlement, the more the ascending powers – both within Europe and without – are frustrated. The entire post-war system itself becomes a source of international tension.

NATO exemplifies this. Established as we saw in a different era to coordinate western military power since the Cold War 1, after the end of that war NATO has turned into a disruptive force. Pursuing an ‘open-ended and ill-conceived eastern expansion’ the EU has rekindled inter-state tensions instead of assuaging them. (2) This illustrates a broader trend; that conflicting attitudes to the entrenched institutional structures generate dissension triggered by outdated economic and strategic pressures. National differences are expressed and often inflamed through opposing or supporting the existing and outdated systems and rules.

It could be said that NATO is a locus classicus of a dysfunctional bureaucracy. It exists ‘in order to solve the problems which it created.’ Or as Schumpeter first noticed, that ‘’ … in Egypt a class of professional soldiers formed during the war against the Hyskos persisted even when those wars were over along with its warlike instincts and interests … ‘‘ He noted with a pithy summary of his viewpoint that ‘’Created by wars that required it, the machine now created the wars which were required.’’ NATO anyone!?

With regard to International Political Economy, It is not generally understood that the US with its chronic federal and trade deficits is actually on the brink of technical bankruptcy, particularly when long term commitments on Medicaid, Medicare and Pensions, and Social Security payments are factored into the calculations. According to research carried out by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve, Fed liabilities come to a staggering $70 trillion – this is roughly 5 times the size of the US GDP. However these figures are now out of date. Given the fact that sovereign (or government) debt currently stands at $24 trillion which in terms of DEBT-to-GDP ratio of 107% is bad enough. Then comes private DEBT-to-GDP which stands at 220% minus unfunded future liabilities. (See below).

Figure 1. Sovereign debt to GDP 107%

Figure 2. Private debt to GDP 220%

The TOTAL DEBT i.e. municipal, household, financial, corporate, cars and student fees/debts AND, unfunded future liabilities, social security, Medicare, and pensions, are pushing on to a figure of total debt of 2000% in the not too distant future. This according to a CNBC report by Jeff Cox, September 09, 2019. This whole process has more or less been on track since the demise of the Bretton Woods system in 1971. The date was significant since this was when the US defaulted on its gold IOUs handing its trading partners paper dollars, or near dollars such as US Treasuries (Bonds) which it insisted were as good as gold. As a result the holders of this US government paper have been subsidizing the US and its economy ever since. The ability to palm off its trading partners with green paper meant that the US has been able to buy stuff from the western world without actually paying for any of it. It gets better. The US has been able to buy foreign made goods with monies loaned to them by foreign governments! The ultimate free lunch! See below. Only one way up apparently! Bear in mind also that the figures shown only go up to 2014. It’s odds on that the debt has grown further in the ensuing time span.

Against this backdrop the foreign policy of the US becomes clear. Its purpose is loot pure and simple. The south must continue to be plundered for cheap inputs and raw materials and in order to do this comprador elites must be promoted who are friendly to US interests. Economic development of course cannot take place in this context as there will be an outflow of capital from South to North. Markets must be opened up to the rapacious incursions of US and other western capitals. Possible rivals – Russia, China – must be regarded as long-term enemies and will be divided and marginalised or possibly in 1970s geopolitical jargon ‘Finlandised’. And uppity allies in Europe – like France – must be slapped down and brought to heel.

Whether the Americans can pull this off is a moot point. It rather depends on whether and how the rest of the world will continue to take the green paper from the Fed/US-Treasury (they are now conjoint BTW similar to a pantomime horse).

When other countries and other private lenders borrow, in this instance from the US, they must consider the economic and financial strength and resilience of that economy. Let’s put ourselves into the position of a creditor. As follows.

  • US sovereign debt is greater than national GDP and is only going to get worse. That puts the US economy in what historically has been the danger zone for ruinous trouble of one kind or another: economic stagnation, default, or runaway inflation. As we have seen however it’s the TOTAL DEBT. Which makes the situation dramatically worse.
  • Manufacturing industry has been hollowed out by a strong dollar policy which makes US export costs rise leading to deindustrialisation.
  • The Economy has been left with little capacity for recovering from shocks – both internal and external. Despite the unprecedented money printing and deficit spending evoked by past – 2008 – and presently – 2020 – even greater and further shocks will arise which will only be comparable to the 1930s.
  • Zero or negative interest rates, courtesy of the Fed, which have resulted in a bonanza for corporations to juice up their stock-market capitalisation. Essentially by stealing money off of savers.
  • Investment markets can’t go anywhere without creating bubbles that eventually burst. 1. Dot.com bubble, 2000, 2. Property bubble, 2008, 3. Everything bubble 2020.

This seems to be the story of the 20/21 centuries with each crisis being bigger and deeper as the one before. Does this look like the picture of a healthy super-power? Or is it the picture of a vulnerable giant close to its historical inflexion point? I know where I would put my money.

But given the tsunami of dollar bills flooding the markets an engineered inflation or a Volcker style 20% hike in interest rates seems likely; my own view is that there will be an engineered inflation; in fact, it’s happening already. This means any persons, corporations or states holding US$s or dollar denominated assets, e.g. Treasury Bills is going to take a big hit.

Of course this US offensive, both political and economic, has and will continue to be met with stiff resistance. Most of this has been spontaneous and centered around the crisis in the Middle East, South East Asia, with the growing opposition to the reputedly Promethean gifts of globalisation.

Samir Amin identifies 4 aspects of a political programme which would give organizational coherence to this opposition. ‘’(i) A campaign against all American ‘preventive’ wars and for the closure of all foreign US bases, (ii) A campaign of right to access to the land, which is of crucial importance to the world’s 3 billion peasants, (iii) A campaign for the regulation of industrial outsourcing, and (iv) A cancellation of third world external debts.(v)’’ (3)

One could of course add more to this – capital controls, global minimum wage and labour standards … and so forth. This would only be a beginning, however. Amin himself looks forward to the reconstitution of the UN as a forum where the third world and smaller countries could find legitimate voice, as opposed to the dominant – i.e., US controlled – institutions of the present – the IMF, WTO, WORLD BANK, and NATO which are frankly little more than instruments of US/EU/NATO Triad collective imperialism.

Get ready for a long period of Sturm Und Drang.

(1) Beyond US Hegemony – Samir Amin – 2006

(2) Stephen Walt – 2018

(3) Amin Op.cit. 2006

Navalny Poisoning – The Real Target is Russian-German Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

US-NATO continue building “momentum” behind Navalny incident – hope to end Nord Stream 2 pipeline before facts emerge, the pipeline is completed, and as all other options have so-far failed.  
September 6, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – Alexei Navalny is the ideal opposition figure for any incumbent government – he is ineffective, unpopular, and transparently compromised by malign foreign interests.

According to a poll carried out by the Lavada Center – a polling organization funded by the US government itself  via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – a mere 9% of all Russians look favorably on him and his work, with most Russians unaware of who he even is.

Germany was the one place the US and NATO needed Navalny to be the most – and in a condition of poor health the US and NATO needed him to be in. 

His continued existence and his monopoly over Russia’s equally unpopular opposition ensures that an effective opposition never takes root in grounds choked by his presence.

For Moscow – Navalny’s continued existence is not only not a threat, he occupies space where a real threat might otherwise emerge.

For the United States and its NATO partners who have dumped millions of dollars and political capital into Navalny’s dead-end opposition in Russia – Navalny’s continued existence is an underperforming investment at best.

“Coincidentally” just as the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline nears completion – a pipeline project that will expand Russia’s hydrocarbon exports, increase revenue, and provide cheap energy to Europe in a business deal that would also help draw Europe and Russia closer diplomatically – Navalny was “poisoned.”

He wasn’t just “poisoned.” He was allegedly poisoned with nerve agents called “Novichoks” alleged to be available only in Russia. Navalny was rushed by a shadowy NGO with opaque funding called “Cinema for Peace” to Germany – of all places.

Delivered right to the heart of what is surely one of Russia’s most important economic and diplomatic projects at the moment – it is the perfect excuse for the US and NATO to pressure Germany to abandon Nord Stream 2 – an objective Washington has struggled and failed to achieve for years.

The US and NATO wasted no time accusing Russia even with no evidence presented that Russia was responsible – not to mention lacking any conceivable motive for the alleged “assassination” attempt of such an unpopular opposition figure at such a crucial time for Russia, its economy, and its ties with Western Europe and Germany in particular.

German state media, Deutsche Welle (DW), in an article titled, “Navalny, Novichok and Nord Stream 2 — Germany stuck between a rock and a pipeline,” indirectly lays out not only the real motive behind Navalny’s alleged poisoning, but the most likely culprit as well.

The article admits just how close to completion Nord Stream 2 is, noting (emphasis added):

Many are looking to Germany, whose Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a prominent example of selective cooperation with Russia despite concerns about the country’s approach to human rights both domestically and internationally.

The Nord Stream 2 project, which is more than 90% complete, aims to double Russia’s supply of direct natural gas to Germany. Running under the Baltic Sea, the pipeline bypasses Eastern European states, sending gas from Russia’s Narva Bay to Lubmin, a coastal town adjacent to Merkel’s constituency in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

It’s noted that the pipeline bypasses Eastern Europe where the US has repeatedly toppled governments and installed client regimes hostile to Russia – complicating Russia’s delivery of hydrocarbons to Western Europe – Ukraine being a recent example.

The DW article then admits:

Critics do not view Nord Stream 2 as purely a business affair, instead calling it a major win for Russia’s image and standing at the international level. The Navalny poisoning, which draws strong parallels to the 2018 Novichok attack on a former Russian double agent that the United Kingdom has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating, further complicates Germany’s efforts to keep politics out of Nord Stream 2.“After the poisoning of Navalny we need a strong European answer, which Putin understands: The EU should jointly decide to stop Nord Stream 2,” tweeted Norbert Röttgen, an outspoken Russia critic in Merkel’s conservative party. 

His voice carries particular weight, as Röttgen chairs the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee and he is currently running for the party’s leadership.

It doesn’t take an expert in geopolitics to have understood that an attempt on Navalny’s life would have provided a mountain of political ammunition for the US and NATO in its ongoing attempts to sabotage Nord Stream 2 and prevent “a win for Russia’s image and standing at the international level.”

This is the most compelling reason why the Kremlin would not have ordered it – especially so close to completing Nord Stream 2.

It must also be remembered that Navalny was flown directly to Germany after the alleged attack.

Germany was the one place the US and NATO needed Navalny to be the most – and in a condition of poor health the US and NATO needed him to be in. With Nord Stream 2 over 90% complete – there is little time left to threaten, coerce, and pressure Germany to otherwise abandon the project.

The alleged presence of “Novichok” nerve agents – had the attack been the work of the Kremlin – would have been a smoking gun and a virtual calling card left – all but guaranteeing immense pressure from across the West and in particular – pressure placed on Germany to cancel the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The DW article covers what the US has already done to pressure Germany, noting (emphasis added):

 The Trump administration wants to sell Germany its own gas, which critics say is more expensive than gas from Russia. Sanctions have bipartisan support in Washington, and the US has already imposed them against companies laying pipe in the Baltic Sea, prompting the Swiss-Dutch company Allseas to pull out of the project in 2019. More sanctions are awaiting the US president’s signature.

Then DW quoted Sarah Pagung – a specialist on German-Russian relations for the German Council on Foreign Relations. The article would note her saying (emphasis added):

“We can’t rule [the canceling of Nord Stream 2] out as an option, but it’s unlikely,” Pagung told DW, although she said Germany could use the Navalny poisoning as an “opportunity” to shift its position on the pipeline without appearing to be caving to US pressure. 

DW all but spells out the true motive of Navalny’s alleged poisoning and his “serendipitous” delivery to Germany for treatment – to serve as a catalyst for the cancellation of Nord Stream 2.

Since Moscow has absolutely nothing to gain from this – it is the least likely suspect.

Since it not only fits into the US and NATO’s openly declared agenda of coercing Germany into cancelling the Nord Stream 2 project, it also fits a pattern of staged attacks and fabricated claims used by the US and NATO to advance their collective foreign policy – they are the most likely suspects.

Consider the much worse and absolutely verified crimes against humanity the US and NATO are guilty of – with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011-onward military interventions in Libya and Syria as just two examples. Poisoning Navalny – a failed investment as a living, breathing opposition figure and turning him into a martyr – is a relatively small act of false-flag violence to create a difficult impasse for the German government regarding Nord Stream 2.

The fact that the US and NATO are rushing to conclusions without evidence – as they’ve done many times before when pushing now verified lies – only further incriminates both as the most likey suspects in Navalny’s poisoning.

For Navalny himself – his fate – if he was actually poisoned – is tragic. The very people he worked for and whose agenda he served seem to find him more useful dying than healthy in terms of advancing Western foreign policy against Russia.

There are too many “coincidences” surrounding this incident:

  • The attack itself at such a sensitive time for Russia, its economy, and its ties with Germany in particular;
  • The fact that Navalny was flown by a shadowy NGO to Germany itself;
  • The fact that the US has been openly trying to sabotage the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline all along and;
  • The fact that the “attack” was allegedly carried out in such a clumsy, ineffective, and incriminating way specifically to implicate Russia.

For a US and NATO who have sold the world entire wars based on “evidence” and “accusations” of everything from nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq to lies about viagra-fuelled rape squads in Libya – one more lie about an unpopular Russian opposition figure poisoned in Russia, picked up by a dubious NGO, and placed down right in the middle of German-Russian relations and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline the US and NATO are desperate to stop – fits a disturbing but all-too-predictable pattern.  
The question is why are people still falling for it? Will Germany fall for it, or at the very least, cave – costing itself economic opportunities in exchange for a deeper and more costly role in US-NATO aggression against Russia? Only time will tell. 
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Turkey Makes New Greece Threat ahead of Military Drill

Erdogan

 September 5, 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday issued a threat to Greece over simmering tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, the day before his forces launch military drills in the region.

Turkey and Greece, both Nato members, have been embroiled in an increasingly heated spat over gas and oil in the region since Turkey deployed an exploration vessel last month.

“As Turkey and the Turkish people, we are ready for every possibility and every consequence,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul.

Turkish defense officials said they would start five days of military exercises on Sunday in the breakaway republic of northern Cyprus — an entity recognized only by Ankara.

Nato said this week Greek and Turkish leaders had agreed to take part in technical talks to avoid accidents between their navies.

But Greece later said it had not agreed to the talks, leading to accusations from Turkey that the EU country was shunning dialogue.

Greece and Cyprus have accused Turkey of breaching their sovereignty by drilling in their waters.

But Erdogan made it clear that he would not compromise, saying: “Turkey is ready for any kind of sharing (of energy resources) as long as it is fair.”

Turkey on August 10 deployed the Oruc Reis research vessel and an escorting flotilla of warships to the waters between Cyprus and the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Crete.

The vessel’s stay in the contested waters has been extended three times.

Greece responded by staging naval exercises with several EU allies and the United Arab Emirates, not far from smaller ones Turkey conducted between Cyprus and Crete last week.

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Poland and Lithuania Are Ready to ‘Take Back’ Belorussian Lands (Anna Sochina)

Poland and Lithuania Are Ready to ‘Take Back’ Belorussian Lands (Anna Sochina)

September 02, 2020

Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leonya.

Hello dear friends, once again Anna Sochina is with you. You may accuse me of a biased attitude towards Poland and the Baltic states. I often criticize them in my releases. Firstly, these republics often throw such performances that one cannot just walk by. And secondly, there is food for discussion in view of the events in Belorussia. Because no matter how much the local authorities assure that they do not encroach upon Belorussian sovereignty, the facts speak the opposite.

Paralytics Politics with Anna Sochina

I read the news recently: “The European MP for Poland Jacek Dariusz Wolski raised a most important issue at the extraordinary session on the situation in Belorussia: Let us pronounce ‘Tichanowska’ instead of ‘Tikhanovskaya’, let us pronounce it the Polish way.” “Because when foreigners say ‘Tikhanovskaya,’” he explains, “they pronounce the last name in a Russian way, and this way they recognize that the Republic of Belarus is in the sphere of Russia’s interests.” While it should, by the looks of it, be within Poland’s sphere of interests. If the West is moulding you as a leader of protests, you must become clay. If they say you’re not going to be Tikhanovskaya but Tichanowska, you will be. If they say you’re not going to be Sochina but Soczynski, you will be.

Clearly I wouldn’t have paid attention to this news had it not been for this linguistic screen concealing rather more serious intentions of Poland towards its neighbouring country. Here is, for instance, Tomasz Sommer, the Chief Editor of the ‘Najwyższy Czas’ weekly, writes on his Twitter:

It is absolutely obvious that Grodno must, in case of Belarus breaking up, be taken by Poland. PiS (the ruling Law and Justice Party) knows this but is afraid to say so.”

Well, who cares what some editor in chief said somewhere, it’d seem. However, my friends, the voice of Tomasz Sommer is not alone. Many representatives of the Polish elite share his thoughts, only they don’t voice it. The Poles use other methods in order to advance their interests in Belorussia. Thus the Polish trade union conglomerate ‘Solidarność’, whose influence level arguably exceeds any parliamentary party, sent humanitarian aid to the Republic of Belarus, in the form of a few dozens tonnes of food, which could to be of use at the workplaces during strikes. Additionally, they, with the support from the Polish government, helped to create the Fund of Solidarity with Belarus, which has already collected 1,000,000 PLN to aid the protesters, which translates into over 700,000 Belorussian rubles, or over 20,000,000 Russian rubles which the Belorussian service of ‘Radio Freedom’ joyfully announces to us.

It’s not that much, it might seem. But ‘Solidarność’ is not the only one who pours money into the Republic of Belarus, and it is not just coming from Poland. For instance, the strike committee of ‘BelarusPotassium’ announced lately that the aid to the strikers from foreign funds and the EU will amount to 35,000,000 euros. The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, announces at the same time that the EU will allocate 53,000,000 euros to support Belorussia “in this difficult time.” Belorussia herself, on the other hand, was able to raise only 2,000,000 euros in aid of the striking workers. So it is not the Belorussians who will be determining their country’s policies in the near future I agree with the ‘Temnik’ Telegram channel:

The governments of the Baltic states and Poland announce almost on the daily basis that they assign new sums for ‘the civil society development’, for ‘the independent media’, ‘training of the psychologists’, ‘first aid to the victims’, etc. The sums are modest – only a few dozens of hundreds of thousands euros, but if you put together these streamlets, they shape up into a considerable investment in the regime change scenario in the Republic of Belarus.”

Apart from the direct financial injections, for which the Belorussians will of course be made to pay later, Poland and Lithuania employ other methods. Lithuania in particular jumps up the highest out of their pants. It is there where at the moment the Belorussian female version of Juan Guaido is being moulded. There a ‘strong leader’ is being created out of a ‘weak woman’, as Tikhanovskaya described herself. However, in this case, I will agree with our colleague Armen Gasparyan. A strong leader must be charismatic, which is a quality I cannot discern no matter what when I look at Tikhanovskaya’s writing. Either way Lithuania accepted ‘Tichanowska’ within its borders. Lithuania also wrote a hurriedly long sanctions list against over 130 names of Belorussian officials. Lithuania is organizing mass rallies in support of the Belorussians on its territory. “The ‘Road of Freedom’ from Vilnius to the border with Belarus. Tens of thousands of people formed a living chain in Lithuania in order to support the Belorussian protest.”

RBK: “On the Sunday evening, almost 50 thousand people in Lithuania held their hands, having formed a living chain from Vilnius to the village of Miadininkai on the border with Belarus, in order to express their support for the Belorussians who are fighting for democratic reforms in their country. The length of the chain during the ‘Road to Freedom’ action was 32 km.”

The authors of the Telegram channel ‘Horde’ noted an interesting moment in connection to this 32 km long chain. I don’t do well in math, but they made the calculations:

According to the estimates of the Sunday Party in Minsk, it gathered from 20,000-150,000 people, or if we average it, it was around 85,000 citizens. The Belorussian population is only 9 million. It is 3.5 times more than in Lithuania. So 50,000 sympathizers in lith is equivalent to 150,000 in Belorussia. In other words, the Lithuanians sympathize with the Belorussians more than the Belorussians sympathize with themselves.”

I, by the way, never stop being amazed at the Poles’ and the Baltics’ mentality. They make an impression of a small lap dog that pounces at your legs, wants to bite but is too afraid to do it and so it just yaps. I’ll explain why I think so, having quoted the Ministry of Defense of Republic of Belarus:

A probe consisting of eight air balloons carrying anti-state symbols was launched from the contiguous territory. Thanks to the actions of Mi-24 helicopter crews belonging to the duty air defense forces, the flight of the air balloons was stopped without weapon deployment.”

This news is actively ridiculed, including the mockery on behalf of some Russian authors. Wikipedia has already published an article titled “The Helium War”. Although I personally see nothing funny in this. Launching air balloons with the white-red-white symbol, which is totally anti-state but which very close in spirit to Poland and Lithuania, and to laugh when Belorussian helicopters take in the air: “Ha ha, the army is sent against our air balloons”, – can any one tell me what is so funny here? In reality, what’s laughable here are the imperial ambitions of Poland and Lithuania, who, in their dreams, are already dividing between themselves Grodno and other adjacent territories. And even if they are not yet dividing it, they demand to be included in the negotiations alongside Russia, Germany and France.

In this light, the interview with the former Foreign and Defense Minister of Poland Radosław Sikorski, is quite interesting and telling. Its headline is “The Crisis in Belarus Confined the Strength of Poland”. Nowhere in the article are arguments in support of this headline, but the principal thought developed by Sikorski sounds like this:

Radosław Sikorski: “Had Poland had normal diplomatic relations with Russia, she could have been the negotiator between Russia and the West about how Belarus could transform from a dictatorship into a democracy that does not infringe upon anyone’s interests. Poland should be in the centre of the situation but it is not so at the moment.”

It’s as if the neighbours on the floor have made a party but did not invite that one who always drills and makes noises after eleven. Poland is absent from the Normandy Four who negotiate about Donbass. It is also not awaited at the Minsk negotiations, although it would seem that nearest neighbour must be present. Evidently the Poles’ appetites for the tasty pieces of Belarus are apparent to Berlin, Paris and Brussels and the openly conservative policies of President Andrzej Duda doesn’t, let’s say, resonate in their hearts. Nevertheless this doesn’t mean that Poland and the Baltic states can be written off. As Sikorski himself incautiously notes in his interview when speaking of Lithuania’s role in the conflict, “sometimes small countries are used for scouting the battlefield.” That was a quote. And these small countries are being used by the United States, if to believe the former Defense and Foreign Minister of Poland.

It is on the Lithuanian territory where meetings between Tikhanovskaya and high ranking US representatives are being held at the moment. Strange is however that Sikorski does not draw parallels and does not understand that Poland, just like Lithuania, is being instigated, just like Lithuania, and is being used against Russia’s interests. But no, “Poland is the hegemon while Lithuania is just a mere pawn in the hands of the White House.” What do we have as a result? Cheap provocations like the one with air balloons. Large financial injections into Belorussia. Rallies in support of the protesters. Establishment of new foundations and non-governmental organizations within Belorussia. The support for such bloggers as ‘Nekhta’ or ‘Nexta’, I don’t know what is the correct pronunciation. I will quote Sikorski again:

Radosław Sikorski: “I am pleased that one of the principal Telegram bloggers ‘Nekhta’ came to Poland to study thanks the Erasmus program. The Belorussian House in Warsaw was founded in our time by the Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry and my personal idea was to create European Endowment for Democracy, and I know that it is also participating in the events in Belarus.”

Oh, European Endowment for Democracy is a topic for a separate conversation altogether. It this one is taking part, it is as good as lost. Someone may ask how do we differ from Poland or Lithuania. After all, Russia has been sponsoring Belorussia for years. Well, my friends, there is a huge difference between cooperation on the governmental level and pumping money and air balloons into the opposition. On the governmental level, Belorussia even holds joint marine exercises with Great Britain and it seems ok. But moulding a ‘Guaido’ on its territory and pumping money into the protesters and the strikers is not the official level, right? Besides answering the possible questions about Moscow’s role, I must remind that Russia and Belorussia are the Union State, and I don’t recall that Lukashenko made such unions with Lithuania or Poland.

Goodbye.

الدور الروسيّ في الاندفاعة الفرنسيّة الأخيرة نحو لبنان…

 باريس – نضال حمادة

فرنسا تعود إلى لبنان من الباب الواسع دولياً إقليمياً ومحلياً، وتأتي هذه العودة الفرنسية في ظل أزمات كثيرة يعيشها لبنان اقتصادية وأمنية وسياسية واجتماعية، فضلاً عن وباء كورونا الذي ينتشر بسرعة، وبسبب هذه الأوضاع المأساويّة لم تجد فرنسا أي اعتراض على اندفاعتها السياسية والامنية والعسكرية من أي طرف لبناني، وهي عندما دخلت الى لبنان أمنت لدخولها غطاء دولياً يمكن القول إن الغطاء الروسي هو الأهم في هذه المرحلة التي تعيش فيها أميركا أشهر ما قبل الانتخابات الرئاسية والتي تشل حركة السياسة الأميركية الخارجية، خصوصاً في منطقة الشرق الأوسط الساخنة والمليئة بالمشاكل.

ماذا عن الغطاء الروسي؟

تقول مصادر سياسية في العاصمة الفرنسية باريس إن الاندفاعة الفرنسية هذه أتت بسبب الأزمة التركية مع اليونان وقبرص في البحر المتوسط، فضلا عن التقدم التركي في ليبيا التي تعتبر فرنسا أنها الأحق بالدخول إليها بسبب قيادتها عملية إسقاط نظام الرئيس الليبي السابق معمر القذافي.

المصادر قالت إن فرنسا وضعت لتركيا خطوطاً حمراء في البحر المتوسط وحصلت على تأييد روسيا في هذا الأمر، لكون الأزمة التركية بالأصل مع دولتين لديهما أغلبية أرثوذوكسية، كما تتخذ كل من موسكو وباريس موقفاً متطابقاً في وجه التمدد التركي في ليبيا، التي أرسلت اليها روسيا بطاريات صواريخ أس 300 نصبتها في سرت بعد تقدّم الأتراك في طرابلس الغرب بفعل استقدامهم مرتزقة من الجماعات السوريّة المسلحة الى ليبيا.

المصادر الفرنسية تشير الى تنسيق روسي فرنسي واسع بشأن الأزمة التركية مع قبرص واليونان وتفيد أن قصر الإيليزيه شكل خلية أزمة تضمّ رئيس أركان الجيوش الفرنسية ومسؤولي أجهزة الاستخبارات ووزير الخارجية ووزير الداخلية لمتابعة مجريات الأحداث والتنقيب الذي تقوم به تركيا عن الغاز في البحر المتوسط.

وتشير المصادر إلى أن فرنسا لعبت دوراً كبيراً ضد تركيا في الاتحاد الأوروبي ما أدّى الى تراجع المانيا عن موقفها الرافض لتهديد تركيا بفرض عقوبات أوروبية عليها، وتشكل علاقة ألمانيا مع روسيا الجيدة، سبباً آخر في تراجع ألمانيا عن دعم تركيا وفي كلتا الحالتين يعتبر ما حصل انتصاراً لماكرون في هجومه لحصار تركيا.

من هنا تكمن أهمية لبنان بالنسبة لفرنسا وأهمية مرفأ بيروت القريب جداً من مناطق التنقيب التركية في البحر المتوسط الذي سوف يكون ساحة الكباش الدولي على الغاز.. وهذه المرة في مياه البحار.

مقالات متنوعة

President Putin says that Russia will help Belarus (UPDATED!)

Source

August 27, 2020

President Putin says that Russia will help Belarus (UPDATED!)

President Putin just gave an important interview to the Russian journalist Sergei Brilev in which he indicated that

  • Russia and Belarus are allies in the CSTO
  • Russia and Belarus are also Union states
  • Russia has obligations towards Belarus
  • Lukashenko has invoked these obligations
  • Putin has agreed to create a “security reserve force” which is ready to intervene in Belarus in case of danger for the Belarusian state and sovereignty
  • Putin added that these forces will only be used if “extremist elements” violently threaten the security and/or stability of the Belarusian state
  • Putin added that there is no need for such a force now, and he hopes that there never will be
  • Putin also added that neither the state nor the demonstrators should violate Belarusian laws (he did add that Belarusian cops are much less violent than the cops in the US).

It is important here NOT to start guessing what that force is, what it can do, etc.

Why?

Because Russia already had such forces, including light mobile military and police forces.

No, what is important is that Putin has just drawn a red line and made an implicit threat.

I consider that threat as absolutely credible.  Recall that just a few days ago, Putin told western leaders to stay out of Belarus, and at least some of them now clearly got the message (not all, obviously).

But, first and foremost, this is a direct warning for Poland and the Baltic statlets: stay out or else…

This is also a clear message to Tikhanovskaia and her puppet-masters: forget about Belarus leaving the CSTO or the Union state; also forget about Belarus joining the EU or NATO.  Ain’t gonna happen.

I am sure that we will post the full interview either dubbed or with English subs later today or tomorrow, but I wanted to share with you what I consider a watershed moment in the Belarus crisis.

I will keep you posted here should there be any updates.

The Saker

PS: full Russian speakers, this is the link to the original interview

Full English Transcript is here

Vladimir Putin – Interview with Rossiya TV channel

http://thesaker.is/vladimir-putin-interview-with-rossiya-tv-channel/embed/#?secret=0mbWdMOYXv

UPDATE: as predicted, the Poles are hysterical, see for yourself:

Global Capitalism, “World Government” and the Corona Crisis

When the Lie Becomes the Truth There is No Moving Backwards

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, August 27, 2020

Global Research 1 May 2020

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. (President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961)

***

The World is being misled concerning the causes and consequences of the corona crisis.

The COVID-19 crisis is marked by a public health “emergency” under WHO auspices which is being used as a pretext and a  justification to triggering a Worldwide process of economic, social and political restructuring. 

Social engineering is being applied. Governments are pressured into extending the lockdown, despite its devastating economic and social consequences.

What is happening is unprecedented in World history. 

Prominent scientists support the lockdown without batting an eyelid, as a “solution” to a global health emergency.

Amply documented, the estimates of the COVID-19 infection including mortality data are grossly manipulated. 

In turn, people are obeying their governments. Why? Because they are afraid? 

Causes versus solutions?

The closing down of national economies applied Worldwide will inevitably result in poverty, mass unemployment and an increase in mortality.

It’s an act of economic warfare.  It’s an unspoken crime against humanity.

Stage One: Trade War against China

On January  30, 2020 the WHO Director General determined that the coronavirus outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The decision was taken on the basis of 150 confirmed cases outside China, First cases of person to person transmission: 6 cases in the US, 3 cases in Canada, 2 in the UK.

The WHO Director General had the backing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Big Pharma and the World Economic Forum (WEF). The decision for the WHO to declare a Global Emergency was taken on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland  (January 21-24).

One day later (January 31) following the launch of the WHO Global Emergency, The Trump administration announced that it will deny entry to foreign nationals “who have traveled in China in the last 14 days”. This immediately triggered a crisis in air transportation, China-US trade as well as the tourism industry. Italy followed suit, cancelling all flights to China on January 31.

The first stage was accompanied by the disruption of trade relations with China as well as a partial closedown of export manufacturing sector.

A campaign was immediately launched against China as well ethnic Chinese. The Economist reported that

“The coronavirus spreads racism against and among ethnic Chinese”

“Britain’s Chinese community faces racism over coronavirus outbreak”

According to the SCMP:

“Chinese communities overseas are increasingly facing racist abuse and discrimination amid the coronavirus outbreak. Some ethnic Chinese people living in the UK say they experienced growing hostility because of the deadly virus that originated in China.”

And this phenomenon is happening all over the U.S.

Stage Two: The Financial Crash Spearheaded by Fear and Stock Market Manipulation

A global financial crisis unfolded in the course of the month of February culminating in a dramatic collapse of stock market values as well as a major decline in the value of crude oil.

This collapse was manipulated. It was the object of insider trading and foreknowledge. The fear campaign played a key role in the implementation of the stock market crash. In February, roughly $6 trillion have been wiped off the value of stock markets Worldwide. Massive losses of personal savings (e.g. of average Americans) have occurred not to mention corporate failures and bankruptcies. It was a bonanza for institutional speculators including corporate hedge funds. The financial meltdown has led to sizeable transfers of money wealth into the pockets of a handful of financial institutions.

Stage Three: Lockdown, Confinement, Closing Down of  the Global Economy

The financial crash in February was immediately followed by the lockdown in early March. The lockdown and confinement supported by social engineering was instrumental in the restructuring of the global economy. Applied almost simultaneously in a large number countries, the lockdown has triggered the closing down of the national economy, coupled with the destabilization of trade, transport and investment activities.

The pandemic constitutes an act of economic warfare against humanity which has resulted in global poverty and mass unemployment.

Politicians are lying. Neither the lockdown nor the closing down of national economies constitute a solution to the public health crisis.

Who Controls the Politicians?

Why are politicians lying?

They are the political instruments of the financial establishment including the “Ultra-rich philanthropists”. Their task is to carry out the global economic restructuring project which consists in freezing economic activity Worldwide.

In the case of the Democrats in the US, they are largely concerned in opposing the reopening of the US economy as part of the 2020 election campaign. This opposition to reopening the national and global economies is supported by “Big Money”.

Is it opportunism or stupidity? In all major regions of the World, politicians have been instructed by powerful financial interests to retain the lockdown and prevent the re-opening of the national economy.

The fear campaign prevails. Social distancing is enforced. The economy is closed down.  Totalitarian measures are being imposed. According to Dr. Pascal Sacré

… in some countries, patients can leave hospital by agreeing to wear an electronic bracelet. This is only a sample of all the totalitarian measures planned or even already decided by our governments in favor of the coronavirus crisis. It goes much further, it’s limitless and it affects a good part of the world, if not the whole world.
.

The “Herding Instincts” of Politicians

Are corrupt governments acting like “police dogs” with “herding instincts” going after their sheep.

Is “the herd” too scared to go after their “government”?

The analogy may be simplistic but nonetheless considered relevant by psychologists.

“Some breeds of dogs [corrupt politicians] have herding instincts that can be brought out with the right training and encouragement [bribes]. …. teach your dog [political proxy] basic obedience and see if it [he, she] displays herding tendencies. … Always look for a trainer who uses reward-based training methods [bribes, personal gain, political support, accession to high office]” (How to Teach Your Dog to Herd)

But there is another dimension. Politicians in high office responsible for “convincing their herd” actually believe the lies which are being imposed upon them by higher authority.

The lie becomes the truth. Politicians endorse the consensus, they enforce “social engineering”, they believe in their own lies.

It’s Not an Epidemic, It’s An Operation

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo  (slip of the tongue) tacitly admits in a somewhat contradictory statement that the COVID-19 is a “Live Exercise”, an “Operation”:

“This is not about retribution,… This matter is going forward — we are in a live exercise here to get this right.”

To which president Trump retorted “you should have told us”.

Those words will go down in history.

Geopolitics

Let us be under no illusions, this is a carefully planned operation. There is nothing spontaneous or accidental. Economic recession is engineered at national and global levels. In turn, this crisis is also integrated into US-NATO military and intelligence planning. It is intent not only upon weakening China, Russia and Iran, it also consists in destabilizing the economic fabric of the European Union (EU).

“Global Governance”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is david-rockefeller.jpg

A new stage in the evolution of global capitalism is unfolding. A system of  “Global Governance” controlled by powerful financial interests including corporate foundations and Washington think tanks oversees decision-making at both the national and global levels. National governments become subordinate to “Global Governance”. The concept of World Government was raised by the late David Rockefeller at the Bilderberger Meeting, Baden Germany, June 1991: “We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years. … It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.” (quoted by Aspen Times, August 15, 2011, emphasis added) .In his Memoirs David Rockefeller states: .“Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure, one world if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” (Ibid) .The Global Governance scenario imposes a totalitarian agenda of social engineering and economic compliance. It constitutes an extension of the neoliberal policy framework imposed on both developing and developed countries. It consists in scrapping “national autodetermination” and constructing a Worldwide nexus of pro-US proxy regimes controlled by a “supranational sovereignty” (World Government) composed of leading financial institutions, billionaires and their philanthropic foundations. .

The 2010 Rockefeller Foundation’s  “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development Area” produced together with Global Business Monitoring Network, GBN) had already outlined the features of  Global Governance and the actions to be taken in relation to a Worldwide Pandemic.  The Rockefeller Foundation proposes the use of scenario planning as a means to carry out “global governance”.

The Report envisages (p 18) a simulation of a Lock Step scenario including a global virulent influenza strain:

.

“LOCK STEP: A world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been anticipating for years finally hit. Unlike 2009’s H1N1, this new influenza strain—originating from wild geese—was extremely virulent and deadly. Even the most pandemic-prepared nations were quickly overwhelmed when the virus streaked around the world, infecting nearly 20 percent of the global population and killing. 8 million in just seven months”

It is worth noting that this simulation was envisaged in the year following the 2009 H1N1 Swine flu Pandemic, which was revealed to be a totally corrupt endeavor under the auspices of the WHO in liaison the Big Pharma which developed a multibillion dollar vaccine program. (Remember the “Fake” 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic: Manipulating the Data to Justify a Worldwide Public Health Emergency By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, May 02, 2020) 

“World Government”

Instructions are transmitted to national governments worldwide.  The fear campaign plays a crucial role in building acceptance and social submission to this “supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and bankers”.

Global governance establishes a consensus which is then imposed on “sovereign” national governments Worldwide, described by David Rockefeller as “national auto-determination practiced in past centuries”.  Essentially, this is an extended form of “regime change”.

Thousands of politicians and officials must be convinced and/or bribed for this operation to succeed. It’s an unsubtle form of “political arm twisting” (while respecting “social distancing”).

The decision to close down the global economy with a view to “saving lives” has not only been accepted as a means to combating the virus, it has been sustained by media disinformation and the fear campaign.

People do not question the consensus, a consensus which borders on the absurd.

.

Global Capitalism and “The Economic Landscape”

The crisis redefines the structure of the global economic landscape. It destabilizes small and medium sized enterprises Worldwide, it  precipitates entire sectors of the global economy including air travel, tourism, retail trade, manufacturing, etc. into bankruptcy.  The lockdown creates famine in developing countries. It has geopolitical implications.

The Pentagon and US intelligence are involved. The corona crisis affects to conduct of US-NATO led wars in the Middle East including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and Yemen. It is also used to target specific countries including Iran and Venezuela.

This engineered crisis is unprecedented in world history. It is an act of war.

The lockdown triggers a process of disengagement of human and material resources from the productive process. The real economy is brought to a standstill. Curtailing economic activity undermines the “reproduction of real life”. This not only pertains to the actual production of the “necessities of life” (food, health, education, housing) it also pertains to the “reproduction” of  social relations, political institutions, culture, national identity. At the time of writing, the lockdown is not only triggering an economic crisis, it is also undermining and destroying the very fabric of civil society not to mention the nature of government and the institutions of the state (crippled by mounting debts), which will eventually be privatized under the supervision of Big Money creditors.

There are conflicts within the capitalist system which are rarely addressed by the mainstream media. Billionaires, powerful banking and financial institutions (which are creditors of both governments and corporations) are waging an undeclared war against the real economy. Whereas the Big Money financial and banking establishment are “creditors”, the  corporate entities of the real economy which are being destabilized and driven into bankruptcy are “debtors”.

Bankruptcies

This diabolical process is not limited to wiping out small and medium sized enterprises. Big Money is also the creditor of  large corporations (including airlines, hotel chains, hi tech labs, retailers, import-export firms, etc.) which are now on the verge of bankruptcy.

The global financial establishment is not monolithic. It is marked by divisions and rivalry. The dominant Big Money faction seeks to destabilize its competitors from within. The results of which would be a string of  bankruptcies of regional and national banking institutions as well as a process of global financial consolidation.

In the US, numerous retailers, airlines, restaurant and hotel chains filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February. But this is just the beginning. The big gush of bankruptcies will occur in the wake of the lockdown (“The New Normal”). And at the time of writing, the financial establishment is relentlessly pressuring (corrupt) national governments to postpone the lifting of the lockdown. And the governments are telling us that this is to “protect people against the virus”.

Canada’s province of Alberta which is largely dependent on oil revenues is bankrupt.

“Countries that represent over 50 per cent of the world’s global GDP are closed for business. Economists looking for historical comparisons mention the 1929 stock crash, the 1974 economic crisis or the 2008 recession. But they admit that these all fall short of the toll that this pandemic could have.” (Wired News UK, April 29, 2020

In Britain, recent reports state (It’s very British”) “we do not know how many have gone bankrupt”.

A chunk of Britain’s business landscape may have already been permanently erased, as some 21,000 more UK businesses collapsed in March alone than the same month a year ago, according to data gathered by the Enterprise Research Centre, a group of university researchers.

What these reports fail to mention are the unspoken causes: a fear campaign on behalf of the creditors, instructions by corrupt governments to close down the economy, allegedly to “save lives”, which is a big lie. Lives are not being saved, and they know it.

The coronavirus crisis “has ground U.S. business to a halt”. National economies are destabilized. The objective of Big Money is to weaken their competitors, “pick up the pieces” and eventually buy out or eliminate bankrupt corporations. And there are many to choose from.

Global Finance Capitalism

The interests of Big Money (global financial interests) overlap with those of Big Pharma, Big Oil, The Media, The Telecoms, the Defense contractors, etc. Major banking institutions in the US including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, State Street Co. and Goldman Sachs, are investing in the war economy including the development of nuclear weapons under Trump’s 1.2 trillion dollar nuclear weapons program (first established under Obama). 

The ultimate objective of “Big Money” is to transform nation states (with their own institutions and a national economy) into “open economic territories”. That was the fate of Iraq and Afghanistan. But now you can do it without sending in troops, by simply ordering subservient proxy governments integrated by corrupt politicians to close down their economy on humanitarian grounds, the so-called “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) without the need for military intervention.

Impossible to estimate or evaluate. More than half the global economy is disrupted or at a standstill.

Let’s be clear. This is an imperial agenda. What do the global financial elites want? To privatize the State? To own and privatize the entire planet?

The tendency is towards the centralization and concentration of economic power. Heavily indebted national governments are instruments of Big Money. They are proxies. Key political appointments are controlled by lobby groups representing Wall Street, The Military Industrial Complex, Big Pharma, Big Oil, the Corporate Media and the Digital Communications Giants, etc.

Big Money in Europe and America (through Washington Lobby groups) seek to control national governments.

In what direction are we going? What is the future of humanity? The current corona crisis is a sophisticated imperial project, which consists in Worldwide domination by a handful of multibillion dollar conglomerates. Is this World War III? Global capitalism is destroying national capitalism.

The unspoken intent of global capitalism is the destruction of the nation state and its institutions leading to global poverty on an unprecedented scale.

The following citation by Lenin dated December 1915 at the height of the First World War pointed with foresight to some of the contradictions which we are presently facing. On the other hand, we should understand that there are no easy solutions and that this crisis is intended to reinforce imperialism and the clutch of global capitalism:
.

“There is no doubt that the development is going in the direction of a single World trust which will swallow up all enterprises and all states without exception. But the development in this direction is proceeding under such stress, with such a tempo, with such contradictions, conflicts and convulsions not only economical, but political national, etc. etc — that before a single world trust will be reached, before the respective financial national capitals will have formed a “World Union” of ultra imperialism, imperialism will explode and capitalism will turn into its opposite.

(V. I. Lenin, Introduction to Imperialism and World Economy by N, Bukharin, Martin Lawrence, London, printed in the US, Russian Edition, November 1917)

How to reverse the tide. The first priority is to repeal the lie.

In this regard, it is unfortunate that many people who are “progressive” (including prominent Left intellectuals) are –despite the lies–  supportive of the lockdown and closing down of the economy as a solution to the public health emergency. That’s the stance of the Democratic Party in the US, which goes against common sense.

Truth is a powerful weapon for repealing the lies of the corporate media and the governments.

When the Lie Becomes the Truth There is No Moving Backwards

Without the fear campaign and media propaganda, the actions taken by our governments would not have a leg to stand on.

“Social Distancing” does not prevent the financial elites from providing instructions to corrupt politicians.

On the other hand, “social distancing” combined with confinement is being used as a means of social subordination. It prevents people from meeting as well as protesting this so-called New World Order.

Organization, Truth and Solidarity are essential to reversing the tide. The first step of a worldwide movement is “counter-propaganda”.


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After the Lockdown: A Global Coronavirus Vaccination Program…

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, April 25, 2020The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

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