’Every Year We Dig Mass Graves’: The Slaughter of Pakistan’s Hazara

5/4/2021

’Every Year We Dig Mass Graves’: The Slaughter of Pakistan’s Hazara

By Shah Meer Baloch – The Guardian

Ahmed Shah had always dreamed of bigger things. Though just 17, the high school pupil had taken a job in the coalmines of Balochistan, Pakistan’s south-western province, one of the harshest, most dangerous working environments in the world. Shah was determined to earn enough to educate himself, so he could escape the tough life of the Hazara Shia community, the most persecuted minority in Pakistan.

But Shah never saw a brighter future. He was among 10 miners who were resting in their mud hut near the mines in the small Balochistan town of Mach when armed militants burst in. A gruesome video from the scene shows the young men blindfolded, with their hands tied behind their backs. A security official said their throats had been slit. Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] claimed responsibility for the massacre.

The prime minister, Imran Khan, called it an “inhumane act of terrorism”, but for the Hazara, minority Shia Muslims who have been targeted for three decades in Pakistan by extremists among the majority Sunni Muslims who view them as heretics, this was not enough.

Shah’s mother, Amina, was on her rounds as a healthcare worker in the nearby provincial capital of Quetta when she heard about the massacre.

“I wanted to see my son one last time, but I was told that I would not be able to bear that,” says Amina. “The killers were not humans. They killed them so brutally.”

The Hazara community, after decades of injustice and neglect by the state, were driven to act, and in a protest unlike anything seen before in Pakistan, the families of the 10 men brought the dead bodies out on to the streets, and sat beside them, in the freezing cold, to demand protection and justice.

For a full week, they did not move, stating they would not bury the bodies until the prime minister listened to their demands.

In response, Khan accused them of trying to “blackmail” him, and said he would not visit until the bodies were buried.

Ahmed Shah was one of four from his family to die in the Mach massacre. So too did his cousin Sadiq, the sole breadwinner for his wife, children and six sisters.

Sadiq, a father of two daughters, had had breakfast with his wife before dawn at his home in Quetta before leaving for Mach. One sister, Masooma Yaqoob Ali, saw the news of the Hazara miners on Facebook and stumbled upon the picture of her brother’s blindfolded body.

“These monsters have not only killed 10 people, they have killed 10 families,” she says. “It has been two decades that we are being mercilessly killed but no one has been arrested yet.”

The Hazara Shia have been targeted over many years by Sunni extremists, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba and now Daesh. According to a 2019 report by Pakistan’s National Commission for Human Rights, an independent watchdog, at least 509 Hazara have been murdered for their faith since 2013. The non-profit Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says that from 2009 to 2014, nearly 1,000 Hazaras died in sectarian violence. Thousands have been injured.

To curb attacks on the 600,000 Hazaras living in the towns of Mariabad and Hazara Town in Quetta, authorities have built military checkpoints, roadblocks and walls around the areas.

In 2014, the international organization Human Rights Watch published a 62-page report on the persecution of Hazara Shia in Balochistan entitled “We are the walking dead.”

“We are living in two prisons. Our men and young can’t go outside. If they go, they will be killed. Our graveyards are full of young men with barely any space left,” says Ali. “We are tired of carrying their coffins. Every year we dig mass graves. Yet Prime Minister Imran Khan says we are blackmailers. Khan is heartless.”

The majority of Hazara in Quetta originally came from Afghanistan and Iran to seek work in Pakistan, with many ending up in the mines of Balochistan.

For 15 years, Chaman Ali, another of the Mach victims, would travel from Afghanistan to Quetta every winter to work in the coalmines.

“I would be worried for his life when he was here and when he went to Afghanistan. I would think ‘what if he gets into the hands of the Taliban?’ I thought he was safe here, but this is where he got killed,” his sister Zara says.

Chaman Ali is survived by his wife and eight children, the youngest just three months old. Aziz and Nasim, from the Daykundi province of Afghanistan, came with Chaman Ali to work in the mines for the first time. They were also murdered.

Nasim, 22, started work to fund his education and had arrived in Pakistan just a week before he was killed. “Afghanistan is in a very bad situation and we think that something is better than nothing, which is why we come to Pakistan just to make a living,” says Abdul Rahim, Nasim’s father. Along with other members of his family, he could not get to his son’s funeral from Afghanistan, when the security forces closed routes out of the villages across Pakistan’s porous border.

Victims of the Mach massacre were all eventually buried in a mass grave at Hazara Town, on the outskirts of Quetta. The Hazara community is running out of space to bury their dead. The graveyard is full of photographs of Hazara Shia men, women and children, many of them murdered.

Having Mongolian ancestors, many Hazara are identifiable by their distinctive appearance, and it is along the single road that leads to Mari Abad and Hazara Town that thousands have been attacked by extremist groups.

“Our generation has grown up in a cage. We make houses on the mountain and are afraid of going out to see other parts of Quetta,” says Arif Hussain Nasry, 21, founder of the Future is Young campaign. “We are even afraid to gather with Hazara from other nations and communities. We have to live to survive in these two ghettoes.”

But for Naseem Javed, an author and political activist, the attacks on the Hazara are not just about sectarianism. “I don’t think Hazara are being targeted just because of their faith,” he says. “They also are being targeted to divert the attention from the Baloch separatist movement.”

Balochistan, the most impoverished province of Pakistan and wedged between Iran and Afghanistan, has a separatist movement that has been active in the province for the past 20 years. “The region also has become a hub for international proxies, including the Taliban,” Javed adds.

Javed shows the pistol he keeps close to him in his shop, where he sells prayer mats and prayer beads. “We live under shadows of weapons and fear. None of us has a normal life. We are being slaughtered. If the security establishment has no role in this genocide, why have they not arrested any attacker?”

For many Hazara people the solution is simply to leave. Amjad Ali, 21, has made three attempts to leave Balochistan for a new life in Europe. He was first deported from Turkey and handed over to Iran, from where he was sent back to Pakistan. The second time he was deported from Iran.

During his third attempt to reach Europe, with 25 other Hazara Shia, Ali was caught a few miles from the border by Jaish ul-Adl, another Sunni militant group that operates mainly in south-eastern Iran. Pretending to be Iranian security forces, the jihadist group took Ali and others to a mountain camp in Pakistan, close to the Iranian border.

“They were very well updated and informed. As soon as we reached their camp they shot four Hazaras with Kalashnikovs. Two of them used to work in the Pakistan army. Two, as Jaish ul-Adl claimed, were going to be part of the Zainebiyoun brigade, an Iranian-backed militant force [fighting in Syria],” Ali told the Guardian.

The rest were held and their families sent random demands. Ali spent 55 days in the camp before his family members managed to raise thousands of dollars in ransom money for his release.

“If I get a chance now to go to Europe, I will try again,” says Ali. “There is no life for Hazara Shia in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

How Eurasia will be interconnected

How Eurasia will be interconnected

April 04, 2021

by Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The extraordinary confluence between the signing of the Iran-China strategic partnership deal and the Ever Given saga in the Suez Canal is bound to spawn a renewed drive to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and all interconnected corridors of Eurasia integration.

This is the most important geo-economic development in Southwest Asia in ages – even more crucial than the geopolitical and military support to Damascus by Russia since 2015.

Multiple overland railway corridors across Eurasia featuring cargo trains crammed with freight – the most iconic of which is arguably Chongqin-Duisburg – are a key plank of BRI. In a few years, this will all be conducted on high-speed rail.

The key overland corridor is Xinjiang-Kazakhstan – and then onwards to Russia and beyond; the other one traverses Central Asia and Iran, all the way to Turkey, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe. It may take time – in terms of volume – to compete with maritime routes, but the substantial reduction in shipping time is already propelling a massive cargo surge.

The Iran-China strategic connection is bound to accelerate all interconnected corridors leading to and crisscrossing Southwest Asia.

Crucially, multiple BRI trade connectivity corridors are directly linked to establishing alternative routes to oil and gas transit, controlled or “supervised” by the Hegemon since 1945: Suez, Malacca, Hormuz, Bab al Mandeb.

Informal conversations with Persian Gulf traders have revealed huge skepticism about the foremost reason for the Ever Given saga. Merchant marine pilots agree that winds in a desert storm were not enough to harass a state of the art mega-container ship equipped with very complex navigation systems. The pilot error scenario – induced or not – is being seriously considered.

Then there’s the predominant shoptalk: stalled Ever Given was Japanese owned, leased from Taiwan, UK-insured, with an all-Indian crew, transporting Chinese merchandise to Europe. No wonder cynics, addressing the whole episode, are asking, Cui Bono?

Persian Gulf traders, in hush hush mode, also drop hints about the project for Haifa to eventually become the main port in the region, in close cooperation with the Emirates via a railway to be built between Jabal Ali in Dubai to Haifa, bypassing Suez.

Back to facts on the ground, the most interesting short-term development is how Iran’s oil and gas may be shipped to Xinjiang via the Caspian Sea and Kazakhstan – using a to-be-built Trans-Caspian pipeline.

That falls right into classic BRI territory. Actually more than that, because Kazakhstan is a partner not only of BRI but also the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

From Beijing’s point of view, Iran is also absolutely essential for the development of a land corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea and further to Europe via the Danube.

It’s obviously no accident that the Hegemon is on high alert in all points of this trade corridor. “Maximum pressure” sanctions and hybrid war against Iran; an attempt to manipulate the Armenia-Azerbaijan war; the post-color revolution environment in both Georgia and Ukraine – which border the Black Sea; NATO’s overarching shadow over the Balkans; it’s all part of the plot.

Now get me some Lapis Lazuli

Another fascinating chapter of Iran-China concerns Afghanistan. According to Tehran sources, part of the strategic agreement deals with Iran’s area of influence in Afghanistan and the evolution of still another connectivity corridor all the way to Xinjiang.

And here we go back to the always intriguing

Lapis Lazuli corridor – which was conceptualized in 2012, initially for increased connectivity between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

Lapis Lazuli, wonderfully evocative, harks back to the export of an array of semiprecious stones via the Ancient Silk Roads to the Caucasus, Russia, the Balkans and North Africa.

Now the Afghan government sees the ambitious 21st century remix as departing from Herat (a key area of Persian influence), continuing to the Caspian Sea port of Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, via a Trans-Caspian pipeline to Baku, onwards to Tblisi and the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi in the Black Sea, and finally connected to Kars and Istanbul.

This is really serious business; a drive that may potentially link the

Eastern Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.

Since Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in 2018, in the Kazakh port of Aktau, what’s interesting is that their major issues are now discussed at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), where Russia and Kazakhstan are full members; Iran will soon be; Azerbaijan is a dialogue partner; and Turkmenistan is a permanent guest.

One of the key connectivity problems to be addressed is the viability of building a canal from the Caspian Sea to Iran’s shores in the Persian Gulf. That would cost at least US$7 billion. Another issue is the imperative transition towards container cargo transport in the Caspian. In SCO terms, that will increase Russian trade with India via Iran as well as offering an extra corridor for China trade with Europe.

With Azerbaijan prevailing over Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh flare up, while finally sealing a deal with Turkmenistan over their respective status in the Caspian Sea, impetus for the western part of Lapis Lazuli is now in the cards.

The eastern part is a much more complicated affair, involving an absolutely crucial issue now on the table not only for Beijing but for the SCO: the integration of Afghanistan to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In late 2020, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan agreed to build what analyst Andrew Korybko delightfully described as the PAKAFUZ railwayPAKAFUZ will be a key step to expand CPEC to Central Asia, via Afghanistan. Russia is more than interested.

This can become a classic case of the evolving BRI-EAEU melting pot. Crunch time – serious decisions included – will happen this summer, when Uzbekistan plans to host a conference called “Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities”.

So everything will be proceeding interconnected: a Trans-Caspian link; the expansion of CPEC; Af-Pak connected to Central Asia; an extra Pakistan-Iran corridor (via Balochistan, including the finally possible conclusion of the IP gas pipeline) all the way to Azerbaijan and Turkey; China deeply involved in all these projects.

Beijing will be building roads and pipelines in Iran, including one to ship Iranian natural gas to Turkey. Iran-China, in terms of projected investment, is nearly ten times more ambitious than CPEC. Call it CIEC (China-Iran Economic Corridor).

In a nutshell: the Chinese and Persian civilization-states are on the road to emulate the very close relationship they enjoyed during the Silk Road-era Yuan dynasty in the 13th century.

INSTC or bust

An extra piece of the puzzle concerns how the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) will mix with BRI and the EAEU. Crucially, INSTC also happens to be an alternative to Suez.

Iran, Russia and India have been discussing the intricacies of this 7,200 km-long ship/rail/road trade corridor since 2002. INSTC technically starts in Mumbai and goes all the way via the Indian Ocean to Iran, the Caspian Sea, and then to Moscow. As a measure of its appeal, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Oman, and Syria are all INSTC members.

Much to the delight of Indian analysts, INSTC reduces transit time from West India to Western Russia from 40 to 20 days, while cutting costs by as much as 60%. It’s already operational – but not as a continuous, free flow sea and rail link.

New Delhi already spent $500 million on a crucial project: the expansion of Chabahar port in Iran, which was supposed to become its entry point for a made in India Silk Road to Afghanistan and onward to Central Asia. But then it all got derailed by New Delhi’s flirting with the losing Quad proposition.

India also invested $1.6 billion in a railway between Zahedan, the key city in southeast Iran, and the Hajigak iron/steel mining in central Afghanistan. This all falls into a possible Iran-India free trade agreement which is being negotiated since 2019 (for the moment, on stand-by). Iran and Russia already clinched a similar agreement. And India wants the same with the EAEU as a whole.

Following the Iran-China strategic partnership, chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Mojtaba Zonnour, has already hinted that the next step should be an

Iran-Russia strategic cooperation deal, privileging “rail services, roads, refineries, petrochemicals, automobiles, oil, gas, environment and knowledge-based companies”.

What Moscow is already seriously considering is to build a canal between the Caspian and the Sea of Azov, north of the Black Sea. Meanwhile, the already built Caspian port of Lagan is a certified game-changer.

Lagan directly connects with multiple BRI nodes. There’s rail connectivity to the Trans-Siberian all the way to China. Across the Caspian, connectivity includes Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan and Baku in Azerbaijan, which is the starting point of the BTK railway through to the Black Sea and then all the way from Turkey to Europe.

On the Iranian stretch of the Caspian, Amirabad port links to the INSTC, Chabahar port and further on to India. It’s not an accident that several Iranian companies, as well China’s Poly Group and China Energy Engineering Group International want to invest in Lagan.

What we see in play here is Iran at the center of a maze progressively interconnected with Russia, China and Central Asia. When the Caspian Sea is finally linked to international waters, we will see a de facto alternative trade/transport corridor to Suez.

Post-Iran-China, it’s not far-fetched anymore to even consider the possible emergence in a not too distant future of a Himalaya Silk Road uniting BRICS members China and India (think, for instance, of the power of Himalayan ice converging into a shared Hydropower Tunnel).

As it stands, Russia is very much focused on limitless possibilities in Southwest Asia, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it clear in the 10th Middle East conference at the Valdai club. The Hegemon’s treats on multiple fronts – Ukraine, Belarus, Syria, Nord Stream 2 – pale in comparison.

The new architecture of 21st century geopolitics is already taking shape, with China providing multiple trade corridors for non-stop economic development while Russia is the reliable provider of energy and security goods, as well as the conceptualizer of a Greater Eurasia home, with “strategic partnership” Sino/Russian diplomacy playing the very long game.

Southwest Asia and Greater Eurasia have already seen which way the (desert) winds are blowing. And soon will the masters of international capital. Russia, China, Iran, India, Central Asia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Korean Peninsula, everyone will experience a capital surge – financial vultures included. Following the Greed is Good gospel, Eurasia is about to become the ultimate Greed frontier.

Critics of President Joe Biden’s first foreign policy speech

Critics of President Joe Biden’s first foreign policy speech

February 15, 2021

from Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

The only optimistic part of President Joe Biden’s first foreign policy speech is, “We’re also stepping up our diplomacy to finish the war in Yemen — a war which has produced a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe. I’ve asked my Middle East squad to ensure our support for the United Nations-led initiative to enforce a truce, open humanitarian channels, and restore long-dormant peace talks. This morning, Secretary Blinken appointed Tim Lenderking, a career foreign policy officer, as our special representative to the Yemen war. And I appreciate his doing this. Tim is a life — has a lifetime of experience in the region, and he’ll work with the U.N. representative and all parties of the conflict to push for a diplomatic resolution. And Tim’s diplomacy will be reinforced by USI- — USAID, working to guarantee that humanitarian aid reaches the Yemeni people suffering un- — an unendurable [sic] — unendurable destruction. This war has to finish. And to underline our commitment, we are terminating all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales. Mr. Secretary, it’s great to be here with you. And I’ve been seeing forward a long time to be able to call you “Mr. Secretary.”

It is yearned that there will be an end to bloodshed and loss of human lives.

The most important is he believed, “As I said in my opening address, we will heal our alliances and involve with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s. American leadership must encounter this new era of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disorder our democracy.”

He pointed out to strengthen alliances to counter China and Russia. It means a new cold-war he is going to launch. The world has hurt a lot during the cold war from the 1850s to the 1980s. Although the former USSR was disintegrated as a result of cold-war, the rest of the world has suffered a lot. There is a fear that if a new cold war is initiated against Russian and China, it will divide the world again, hate will be promoted. The lessons learned from the previous cold-war promoted understanding, tolerance, cooperation, and harmony, to develop the world into a better place for our next-generations.

On the other hand, ex-President Trump has annoyed and humiliated the allies so much that some are unwilling to be part of any alliance created to spread hate and coerce any other nation.

The most important ally, Germany, is annoyed, and Chancellor Angela Merkel alleged that the “cold war of alliance” is a new diplomacy devising type since the United States’ Biden administration came to power. It is “the starkest manifestation that one country resists the growth of another country.” Germany believes that China has the right to the upswing. The United States has no right to force other European countries into compliance with the “selfishness” practice of serving the United States. She has condemned the US Biden administration for “forming gangs” against China. The “cold war alliance” act open-minded European countries and the World why Germany asserted this position. She made it clear that Germany will not participate in any US-led activities aimed at “encirclement and suppression” China. She also endorses other countries not to join in this “hegemonic” behavior! Because it will procure no other benefits besides damaging European unity and world economic recovery! She said that the new U.S. Secretary of State Blincoln unabashedly dispensed new threats and sanctions against China in Washington. At the same time, he harshly condemned Europe and should not sign an investment treaty with China behind its back. Great disgust, anxiety, and restlessness in Europe.

Spain, France, and Switzerland shared similar views. Youth in Europe are quite mature and are opposing any initiative for the cold-war.

Regarding the U.S. as custodian of democracy is a false narrative. The U.S. was involved in killing democracy in some of the countries and supporting dictatorship in many countries. The toplinig of democratically elected Adil Morsey, the President of Egypt, is a typical example. Supporting General Sesi is openly supporting dictatorship. U.S. history is full of hypocrisy where they have openly endorsed dictators in their own interests. In the Middle-east, Africa, and many other parts of the world, the U.S. is standing with certified dictators. Even today, the U.S. is supporting many dictators around the globe. The U.S. has double standards and stands with dictators when their interests coincide.

Regarding human rights, the U.S. was using human rights as a political tool to coerce some countries while engaged in human rights violations in the middle-East, Latin America, South America, Africa, and other parts of the world, etc. President Joe Biden was part of policymaking under various presidents in the past to launch a crusade against Muslims, war-crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. He may be in the habit of dictating American terms and conditions during the unipolar world. He may need to change this type of mindset.

Recently, the U.S. uses this tool to coerce China and make propaganda of Hong Kong and Xinjiang issues and keep criminals silent on Human rights violations in Kashmir and Palestine. India and the State of Israel are the two countries that have surpassed the record of human rights violations, but the U.S. is being a close ally with them, kept eyes closed.

Although President Joe and Trump’s rivalry is their internal issue, it seems that President Joe is determined to undo all initiatives and policies launched by President Trump. From Pandemic to foreign policies, he has indicated to reverse Trump’s policies. He has hinted out undo troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, as announced by President Trump earlier. It might have severe consequences on the regional peace and stability. However, President Joe Biden’s approach to re-engage Iran for Nuclear Deal is positive thinking.

President Joe has been served under various Administrations during the last few decades. He is well-matured, well-mannered, and familiar with diplomatic etiquettes, and may not embarrass others. But President Joe is still in the mindset of a unipolar world, where the U.S. was the only superpower. He needs to re-evaluate the geopolitics and understand the revival of Russia and the rise of China. With this changed geopolitics, he needs to assert in an acceptable manner. His team, especially the scholars, intellectuals, and think tanks , may advise him appropriately.

The world needs peace and stability much more than ever. Understanding, tolerance, and harmony is the only option to cooperate with each other to turn the world into a safer place to live with dignity and honor. Any initiative to serve humanity is welcomed, and any policy disgracing humankind is rejected by all equally.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

China newsbrief and sitrep

Source

February 09, 2021

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

You can get it here:  https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe


Power of Siberia gas pipeline from Gazprom. com

Russia ramps up natural gas supplies to China via Power of Siberia mega-pipeline

“The export of gas to China through the Power of Siberia gas pipeline continues to grow. Supplies regularly exceed Gazprom’s daily contractual obligations,” the company said in a statement, adding that the volume of gas delivery last month “was 2.9 times higher than in January 2020.”


Next up, What the People say.

Says subscriber Frans Vandenbosch, “If I have to describe China in one word, then I would say ‘intense’. Western companies are sheltered workshops, they do not know what real competition is. They should benchmark China to know what real harsh competition looks like.”  Adds Josh Gardner, “Online retail in China is cut-throat. Comparing Taobao with Amazon is like comparing ballet to rugby.”

——————————-

This blog fairly reflects the stance of Chinese people on the long running trade war.  Although it contains some hubris, there is no question that the person in the street is convinced that China will be victorious.

China is establishing an invincible position in its trade war. It will switch many of its exports from the US to BRI countries and move the industries that produce goods for export to the US to the industrial parks in BRI countries to avoid US tariffs and reduce labor costs.

“In the long run, China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) will bring economic growth to developing countries and expand China’s market there. It will enable China to switch lots of its exports from the US to those countries. Moreover, BRI will enable China to move the industries that produce goods for export to the US to the industrial parks built by BRI in those countries to avoid US tariff hikes and reduce labor costs. China will thus establish its invincible position in its trade war with the US.”  Read more about the Plan for Long-term Victory


And where is Jack Ma? 

“Ant Group Co. is planning to turn itself into a financial holding company overseen by China’s central bank, responding to pressure to fall fully in line with financial regulations, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chinese regulators recently told Ant, which is controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, to become a financial holding company in its entirety, subjecting it to more stringent capital requirements, the people said. Ant, in response, has submitted to authorities an outline of a restructuring plan, they said.”

The video is worthwhile watching for background, even though it is from the Wall Street Journal.

Jack Ma made the unforgivable error of criticizing in public.  Rule one in China – don’t make the other guy lose face while there are methods to bring problems to the attention of the authorities.   In reality, he seemed to have been absolutely right, and Ant Group was immediately used as a case in point, where the financial regulators fixed their own errors.  This of course led to Ant Group having to disclose their real business as one of the biggest lenders in China, besides their vast technology footprint.  Given what happened in the US with behemoths such as Google and Twitter and large de-platforming, I do not blame the Chinese authorities one bit for having decided that no-one should have this much power.


Now that we’ve found Jack Ma who was busy restructuring his Ant Group, more on China’s credit market. 

China’s credit market got big fast because credit services fit traditional practices. Despite its reputation as a “nation of savers,” Chinese society has traditionally been heavily reliant on debt, facilitated through a long tradition of private and informal borrowing and lending. In this system, instead of concepts like “credit,” access to loans depended on renqing, “human sentiments.” Read full article $→


So, you want to join the CCP?  It is not that easy.

“Next year the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) turns 100. Since its founding in 1921, the CCP has grown from a small cabal of Marxist intellectuals into the world’s second-largest political party, behind only the Bharatiya Janata Party in India. One of the reasons for the CCP’s success has been its cultivation of human capital—any organization is only as good as its people.

Ahead of the Party’s centenary, understanding its longevity requires an understanding of its members. While the Party is frustratingly opaque about internal operations, its human resources division, known as the Organization Department, does publish annual data on membership. After the 2019 numbers were released in June 2020, MacroPolo scoured open source databases to compile the most complete public dataset on CCP membership.”    Read more …


Belt and Road

The Sinocentric bloc of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan could leave America’s ally India isolated and weak. The only three Muslim states with significant military capacity and economic potential participating in the $2 trillion BRI will promote Chinese influence from the Indian Ocean to the Black Sea.  Read full article $→

$10 billion for MENA (Middle-East & North Africa)’s Five BRI Projects): Egypt–Cairo’s New Administrative Capital & CBD; Turkey–The Hunutlu Thermal Power Plant; Jordan–Attarat Oil Shale Power Plant; UAE–Hassyan Clean Coal Power Plant; Lebanon–National Music Conservatory. MENA has 578 million people and 60% of world’s oil, 45% of its gas.Read full article $→


We end this week with some debunkery:

BUNK: Curbs on Mongolian Language Teaching Prompt Large Protests in China

DEBUNK: As a minority Chinese (Manchurian) with his mother side hailing from Hulun Buir, Inner Mongolia, I can say from my own experience that this is FAKE NEWS at its best. The truth is, in the Mongolian language primary education system, Mandarin has been taught and used since my mother can remember. The only change this time is to replace some locally created Mandarin language textbooks with national, official Mandarin language textbooks.

Yes, both of them are Mandarin textbooks. Yet New York Times and its FAKE journalists can’t wait to cook up new FAKE news completely distorting the truth. Shame on the New York Times and its FAKE news journalists! A bit of background for your information:

In Inner Mongolia, where half of my relatives are from, two primary education systems operate in parallel: one in Mandarin, one in Mongolian. Chinese Mongolians can opt for either one and most Chinese Mongolians so far opted for the one in Mandarin – the Mandarin system is of much better education quality due to better human recourse on teachers, and the kids won’t need another ‘prep-year’ before formal university when they attend a university program being taught in Mandarin. In contract, the ones who chose the Mongolian system, despite continuous government fundings to ensure it’s operational, still have to endure the less quality of education.

And this leads to life-long differences in career development and social mobility between two groups of students. There are law-required quota for these Mongolian-taught students in top Chinese universities, including THU and PKU. However, the truth is that these students often find their university coursework beyond their capability, and the fail rate is much higher than the Mongolian students taught in the Mandarin system.

So should the regulators allow those Mongolian-taught Chinese Mongolian students to rot and remain disadvantaged for life? Or should the regulators find ways to improve the education quality they receive? I know the US of A has chosen the former one for its Black, Latino, and Native American’ citizens’.

But this is the PEOPLE’S Republic of China. We agreed we shall advance together. Let’s never forget: Fabricating fake news to create hatred and conflicts between the native populations has always been a standard colonial conquest tactic and has been practiced by the western imperialists for centuries. Chang Wanyan

BUNK: British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has revoked China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) licence  because it is “controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and therefore disqualified from holding a broadcast licence under UK.” Ofcom criticized CGTN’s coverage of the Hong Kong protests as in “serious breach of fairness and privacy rules”. (Ofcom also banned Iran’s PressTV). Read full article →

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DEBUNK: CGTN says, “In early 2020, manipulated by extreme right-wing organizations and anti-China forces, Ofcom launched an investigation into CGTN’s broadcasting license in the UK. We provided detailed explanations to Ofcom in a proactive and cooperative manner, proposed transferring CGTN’s broadcasting license and sought a constructive solution. However, Ofcom disregarded CGTN’s reputation as a professional international media organization and its 18-year good record of broadcasting in the UK, and made a final ruling, based on the so-called political nature of CGTN and related Chinese media organizations, to refuse the transfer and to revoke CGTN’s broadcasting license.We believe that the continued broadcasting of CGTN’s television news service to a British audience is in the public interest of the UK. We comply with the laws and regulations of every country and provide news and information to an international audience with diverse and balanced perspectives, and will continue to promote understanding, communication, trust and cooperation”.  Read full article →


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Pakistan’s Hazaras Wait for Imran Khan Amidst Coffins of Their Loved Ones

Pakistan’s Hazaras Wait for Imran Khan Amidst Coffins of Their Loved Ones

By Saad Hasan – TRT WORLD

The murder spree has gone on for years. People belonging to Pakistan’s ethnic Hazara minority have been attacked in their homes, in shops, in mosques, at the doctor’s clinic, inside a snooker club and picked out from among other passengers on busses, forced to line up and summarily executed.

A similar episode played out again on January 3 when 11 Hazara miners were killed in the troubled Balochistan province. Daesh [ISIS/ISIL] claimed responsibility for the grisly incident in which the hands of the victims were bound and then their throats slit. A video of the killing was later uploaded on the internet.

Hazaras, most of whom ascribe to the Shia Muslim faith, have been relentlessly targeted in the past two decades. More than 2,000 people have been killed in suicide bombings and drive-by shootings between 2004 and 2018.

“We want these killings to end. That’s all we want. We are tired of burying our loved ones. All we want now is Prime Minister Imran Khan to come and give us surety that this won’t happen again,” Syed Abbas Ali, a member of the Hazara community, told TRT World from Quetta, Balochistan’s capital.

Hundreds of people have joined a sit-in protest on a highway near Quetta. They have placed the coffins there and refused to bury the dead until Khan comes to meet the families.

“Several government officials have met us. But that doesn’t mean anything. Whenever something like this happens, they come and give us the same assurances. It has done little to stop the cycle of violence,” says Ali.

Khan has refused to go personally and meet the mourners at the time of writing, promising that he will do so later. His decision along with the statement of one of his advisors, which was widely seen as being insensitive, has angered many.

Protests against the killings have also erupted in other cities including Karachi.

Most of the Hazara population, generally recognizable for their distinctly Central Asian facial features, is centered around Quetta. The size of the community is estimated to be around 800,000.

For years, Pakistan’s security forces have battled separatist insurgents in Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan. Sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which openly call the Shia heretics is also behind a spate of terrorist attacks.

The miners were living in makeshift quarters near a coalfield, located some 60km from Quetta, leaving them particularly vulnerable to such an attack, Zafar Baloch, a local journalist, told TRT World over the phone.

“A number of terrorist attacks against the Hazara community have come down in the last few years. The situation was really bad up till 2013 when someone was being targeted every 4-5 days.”

The year 2013 was particularly devastating for Hazara community. More than 175 people were killed in back-to-back bombings in January and February. In one incident, a suicide bomber killed scores of young men at a snooker club. When rescue services began evacuating the injured, an ambulance laden with explosives exploded, killing more.

Islamabad has deployed around a thousand paramilitary troops and police for security. But that has limited the movement of many Hazara people who are confined to a few areas such as Hazara Town or Alamdar Road in Quetta city.

Security escorts are needed whenever pilgrims travel by road to Iran where several Shia shrines are located. Even vegetable vendors need armed protection when they travel to the wholesale market.

The fear of being shot dead has forced thousands of young men to make their way towards Southeast Asia and then take the dangerous sea journey on rickety boats to seek refuge in Australia. Many have sold their businesses and moved to other cities in Pakistan.

A sizable Hazara population also lives in neighboring Afghanistan where thousands of them have been killed by the Taliban.

According to some reports, there were some Afghans among the dead miners. Abbas Ali says making an issue of the nationality of the victims undermines the severity of the situation.

“Does it matter where they came from? The fact is they were brutally murdered and we should all be condemning it.”

How West, Central and South Asia are interconnecting

How West, Central and South Asia are interconnecting

January 02, 2021

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted on Asia Times

It’s one of those quintessential journeys that make people dream: Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad by train. Let’s call it ITI.

Soon, in early 2021, ITI will become a reality. But, initially, just as a freight train. The deal was recently sealed at the 10th meeting of the transport and communication ministers of ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) in Istanbul.

ITI’s official name is actually the ECO Container Train. Trial runs started in 2019. The 6,500 km overland journey should now take 11 days – compared to the roughly 45 days across sealanes for trade between Western Europe and Pakistan.

ECO is a very interesting – and strategic – organization, virtually unknown outside of Asia, uniting Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, the five Central Asian “stans”, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan.

Some of these players are also members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); some are part of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); and almost all of them are partners to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

They have come up with a ECO Vision 2025 that emphasizes connectivity as a springboard to “social and economic development”, privileging trade, transportation, energy and tourism. ECO seeks to de facto integrate West, Central and South Asia plus the Caucasus. For all practical purposes, ECO straddles most of the New Silk Roads developing across a large part of Eurasia.

That pesky Sultan, again

The ITI/ECO Container Train will be yet another layer of connectivity running in parallel to the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, centered on the Caucasus, and as we have seen in a previous Turkey/New Great Game column, a key plank of Ankara’s trade strategy.

Soon, ITI/ECO will also link with the European rail networks via that 76-km long engineering marvel – the undersea Marmaray railway tunnel in Istanbul. Of course opportunities abound for branching out to parts of the Middle East. By the end of the decade, ITI/ECO may well go high-speed rail – think Chinese investment.

The fascinating counterpoint to the Marmaray undersea tunnel is the Trans-Caspian: the actual connection between the BTK in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

As you can see here , the strategically designed layout of the ports allows instant roll on-roll off from the cargo trains to huge freight ferries.

Iran, for instance, is building a roll on-roll off shipping port in Bandar-e Anzalī on the Caspian Sea – which will be used to export merchandise but also oil and gas transiting via Russia or Kazakhstan, both Caspian nations, and thus bypassing any further blockade imposed by the US.

The interlink of ITI/ECO with BTK will solidify yet another important East-West trade corridor. Apart from the northern corridors linking with the Trans-Siberian, every East-West trade corridor across Eurasia goes through Turkey. That gives President Erdogan a wealth of options – as Beijing knows too well. The Xian-Istanbul corridor is as important as the Xian-Kazakhstan-Russia corridor.

Our previous Turkey/New Great Game column provoked serious debate in Istanbul. Political analyst Ceyda Karan remarked Erdogan “has only one card: Turkish geopolitics. He doesn’t care how many soldiers will die in Libya or Syria. He doesn’t care about the Turkish people”.

Esteemed Professor Korkut Boratav, now a nonagenarian eminence in macroeconomics, wondered how I could “ascribe those important roles to our chief”, referencing Erdogan.

Well, it’s all about playing geoeconomics. Erdogan certainly has leveraged his Rolodex across Eurasia, in terms of foreign policy, going no holds barred in the manipulation of all sorts of proxy gangs practicing all manner of extremisms. But ultimately what The Sultan really needs is trade and foreign investment in his battered economy.

So trade connectivity is essential. But the problem always remains his own strategy. Supporting, feeding and weaponizing an army of ISIS/Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Uighur/Caucasian jihadi proxies is not exactly a sound business strategy.

Erdogan seems to be everywhere – Libya, Azerbaijan, the Turkish-northwest Syrian border. Strategists in Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Islamabad of course are asking questions: what for, exactly?

There’s no realistic geoeconomic scenario for him to bypass Russia. He may use Azerbaijan as a sort of de luxe messenger between Turkey and Israel – and perhaps, subsequently, profit from Israel’s courtship of Persian Gulf monarchies. After all, as far as allies in the Arab world are concerned, the only player he can really count on is Qatar. Follow the money: Doha by itself won’t finance an economic boom in Turkey.

Let a million trade corridors bloom

Silly rumors about the demise of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are greatly exaggerated – considering they are a sub-section of American propaganda. CPEC is a complex, very long-term project whose implementation, according to the Chinese timetable, has not even started.

What Islamabad must be aware of is how much sexier, in comparison, is Tehran, when seen with Beijing’s eyes. Pakistan counts mostly on Imran Khan’s efforts. Iran has a wealth of oil, gas, gold and an array of crucial minerals. As India famously shot itself in the back – once again – by de facto abdicating from investing in Chabahar port in Iran, China stepped in. The $400 billion China-Iran deal is way more comprehensive than CPEC, at roughly $64 billion.

Back on the road, the good news is Iran-Pakistan seem to be focused on increasing connectivity. It boggles the mind that until recently there was only one crossing along their 900 km border. Finally they decided to open two more border gateways.

This is hugely important, because the first gateway is in ultra-sensitive Sistan-Balochistan province – constantly susceptible to Salafi-jihadi infiltrators – and only 70 km away from strategic Gwadar port.

As far as tourism goes – what the Chinese describe as “people to people exchange” – that’s an extra dimension, because Pakistanis can now easily cross the border, reach Chabahar, and then go by train to Iran’s holy sites Najaf and Karbala.

Finally, there’s the all-important Russian factor – which always commands Erdogan’s undivided attention.

Arguably Moscow’s top strategic priority is to decouple the EU from any US/NATO-imposed Dr. Strangelove impulses. So a EU trade alliance with Beijing – now in progress, via their investment treaty – cannot but be a win-win, as it spells out closer European integration with the Eurasian century, driven by China but with Russia, crucially, positioned as the premier security provider.

And as President Putin once again made it clear in his year end’s vows, BRI and the EAEU are increasingly merging.

Quite a few readers have noted that Russia has now achieved the tripartite capacity that Kissinger once declared essential for US strategic leadership: mastery of weapons exports; control of energy flows; and agriculture exports. Not to mention diplomatic finesse – widely respected all across Eurasia and the Global South.

Meanwhile, Eurasia goes with the flow: let a million trade corridors – Trans-Siberian, BTK, ITI/ECO – bloom.

Pakistan is steadfast… So far. باكستان صامدة… إلى الآن

**Please scroll down for the English Machine translation**

باكستان صامدة… إلى الآن

باكستان صامدة... إلى الآن

الاخبار

الخميس 24 كانون الأول 2020

تتعرّض باكستان لضغوط شتّى يراد من ورائها جرّها بالقوّة إلى التطبيع مع إسرائيل والتموضع ضمن محور لا يزال في طور التشكُّل. محورٌ تشتغل السعودية، ومن ورائها الولايات المتحدة، على تعزيزه ورفده بدولٍ ترى في مهادنة إسرائيل مصلحةً لكفّ يد إيران عن المنطقة. لكن حسابات إسلام آباد لا تبدو متطابقة، على الأقلّ في المدى المنظور، مع رغبة حليفتها الحَرِدة في دفعها إلى حضن تل أبيب. وهو حردٌ نما وتمدّد في أعقاب انتقاد البلد الآسيوي نأيَ المملكة بنفسها عن قضية كشمير، وتلويحه بجمع قادة دول إسلامية خارج عباءة “منظمة التعاون الإسلامي” التي تهيمن عليها الرياض، لنصرة تلك القضية. وعلى رغم مساعي باكستان إلى تدارك الموقف، عن طريق إيفاد رئيس أركانها، قمر جاويد باجوا، منتصف آب/ أغسطس الماضي، إلى السعودية لاحتواء التوتّر، لم يفلح التودُّد في رأب الصدع.

وهكذا، كلّما اغتاظت الرياض وارتفع منسوب التوتّر بينها وبين إسلام آباد المكبّلة بالدين، عاجلتها بالدعوة إلى سداد القرض الميسّر. وكما حصل في أعقاب واقعة “التمرُّد” الباكستاني، حين اضطرّت إلى دفع مليار دولار قبل حلول موعد استحقاقها (هي جزء مِن حزمة إنقاذ أعلنت عنها السعودية في تشرين الأول/ أكتوبر عام 2018، بقيمة 6.2 مليارات دولار: 3 مليارات على شكل قروض، فضلاً عن تسهيلات ائتمانية نفطية بـ 3.2 مليارات دولار)، يبدو أن المملكة أرغمت باكستان، مرّة جديدة، على سداد المبلغ المتبقّي، بعدما أعلن رئيس وزرائها، عمران خان، الشهر الماضي، أن بلاده تتعرّض لضغوط مِن قبل الولايات المتحدة و”دول صديقة” لم يسمّها للاعتراف بإسرائيل، مؤكداً أنه لن يُقدِم على خطوة كتلك “ما لم تكن هناك تسوية تُرضي الفلسطينيين”. وإذ سارع وزير الخارجية الباكستاني، شاه محمود قرشي، إلى نفي صحّة التقارير التي تحدّثت عن سداد بلاده قرضاً بقيمة ملياري دولار للسعودية، والتشديد على “العلاقات المثالية” بين البلدين، أكّد مسؤولون باكستانيون لـ”رويترز” أن إسلام آباد أرجعت بالفعل مليار دولار ضمن الدفعة الثانية من القرض الميسّر، واتّجهت إلى طلب قرض تجاري من بكين، لمساعدتها على تخفيف ضغوط دفع مليار دولار أخرى إلى الرياض الشهر المقبل. وفي هذا الإطار، أكّد مسؤول في وزارة المالية أن المصرف المركزي الباكستاني يجري محادثات مع مصارف تجارية صينية، في حين أبلغ مسؤول في وزارة الخارجية، “رويترز”، أن الصين “هبّت لنجدتنا”. وعلى رغم فائض يبلغ 1.2 مليار دولار في ميزان المعاملات الجارية وتحويلات غير مسبوقة من الخارج بلغت 11.7 مليار دولار في الأشهر الخمسة الأخيرة ساعدت في دعم الاقتصاد الباكستاني، فإن مراقبين يرون أن ردّ الأموال السعودية ينطوي على انتكاسة يحتمل أن تواجه باكستان على إثرها أزمة في ميزان المدفوعات بعد الانتهاء من الدفعة السعودية التالية، ولا سيما وأن احتياطياتها الأجنبية لا تزال عند 13.3 مليار دولار.

لم تألُ الرياض جهداً لجرّ إسلام آباد نحو قاطرة التطبيع

بالعودة إلى التطبيع، لم تألُ الرياض جهداً لجرّ إسلام آباد نحو قاطرة التطبيع. وهو ما لفتت إليه مصادر دبلوماسية وعسكرية باكستانية تحدّثت، أخيراً، إلى صحيفة “هآرتس” العبرية، مؤكّدةً أن السعودية كثّفت ضغوطها، في الأشهر الأخيرة، على باكستان من أجل دفعها في هذا الاتجاه، ولكنها توقّعت أن يتوّلى الجيش الباكستاني هذه المهمّة طمعاً في صفقات دفاعية تسهّلها إسرائيل. ويريد وليّ العهد السعودي، محمد بن سلمان، بحسب الصحيفة، أن تمضي حليفته في هذا الطريق، قبل أن يتخّذ أيّ خطوة رسمية تجاه تل أبيب. ولفتت “هآرتس” إلى أن “باكستان ثاني أكبر دولة ذات غالبية مسلمة من حيث عدد السكان، وهي الدولة الإسلامية الوحيدة المسلّحة نووياً، وتطبيعها سيوفّر سبقاً جيّداً للسعودية”، معتبرةً أن الرياض تمتلك “بطاقة قوية لإسلام آباد، تتمثّل في توفير قرض بقيمة ملياري دولار لإنقاذ البلاد”. كذلك، أشارت إلى أن الجيش الباكستاني، وليس رئيس الوزراء، هو الذي يدير فعلياً الدبلوماسية الباكستانية، مُتوقّعةً أن يلجأ الأوّل إلى إضفاء طابع رسمي على العلاقات مع تل أبيب، على افتراض أن ذلك سيساعده في موازنة الصفقات الدفاعية الواسعة بين الهند وإسرائيل.

مقالات ذات صلة

Pakistan is steadfast… So far.

باكستان صامدة... إلى الآن

Al-Akhbar

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Pakistan is under various pressures to force it to normalize with Israel and to be positioned within an axis that is still in the process of being formed. Saudi Arabia, and the United States, is working to strengthen it and provide it with countries that see Israel’s truce as an interest in iron’s hand in the region. But Islamabad’s calculations do not seem to be identical, at least in the foreseeable future, with its fiery ally’s desire to push it into into Tel Aviv’s lap. He) Imran Khan) is a hard-working man who has grown and expanded in the wake of the Asian country’s criticism of the Saudi kingdom’s distancing itself from the Kashmir issue, and Imran waving of the gathering of leaders of Islamic countries outside Riyadh-dominated Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to support Kashmir cause. Despite Pakistan’s efforts to remedy the situation by sending its chief of staff, Qamar Javed Bajwa, in mid-August, to Saudi Arabia to contain the tension, and bridge the rift.

Thus, the more Riyadh is upset and the level of tension rises between Islamabad and Riyadh, which urgently calls for the repayment of the concessional loan, and forced Islamabad to pay $1 billion before its due date (part of a $6.2 billion bailout announced by Saudi Arabia in October 2018: $3 billion in loans, as well as $3.2 billion in oil credit facilities the kingdom have forced Pakistan, once again, to pay the remaining amount, after its Prime Minister, Imran Khan, announced last month that his country was under pressure from the United States and “friendly countries” he did not name to recognize In Israel, stressing that he would not take such a step “unless there is a settlement that satisfies the Palestinians.”

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi was quick to deny reports that his country had repaid a $2 billion loan to Saudi Arabia and the emphasis on “ideal relations” between the two countries, Pakistani officials confirmed to Reuters that Islamabad had already returned $1 billion in the second installment of the concessional loan and turned to requesting a commercial loan from Beijing, to help it ease the pressure of paying another billion dollars to Riyadh next month. A finance ministry official confirmed that the Central Bank of Pakistan was in talks with Chinese commercial banks, told Reuters that China had “come to our aid.” Despite a $1.2 billion surplus in the current balance of transactions and unprecedented remittances from abroad of $11.7 billion in the last five months that have helped support Pakistan’s economy, observers see the Saudi money back as a setback, with Pakistan likely to face a balance of payments crisis after the next Saudi push, especially as its foreign reserves remain at $13.3billion.

Riyadh spared no effort to drag Islamabad towards the locomotive of normalization

Back to normalization, Riyadh spared no effort to drag Islamabad towards the normalization. This was pointed out by Pakistani diplomatic and military sources who spoke to the Hebrew newspaper Haaretz, stressing that Saudi Arabia had intensified its pressure, in recent months, on Pakistan to push it in this direction, but it expected that the Pakistani army would take over this task in the hope of defensive deals. Facilitated by Israel. Between India and Israel

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the newspaper, wants his ally to go down this path, before taking any official step toward Tel Aviv. “Pakistan is the second most populous Muslim country, the only nuclear-armed Islamic state, and its normalisation will provide a good precedent for Saudi Arabia,” Haaretz said, adding that Riyadh has “a strong card for Islamabad, which is to provide a $2 billion loan to save the country.” Haaretz also noted that it was the Pakistani army, not the Prime Minister, that effectively administered Pakistani diplomacy, expecting the former to formalise relations with Tel Aviv, assuming that it would help him balance the broad defence deals between India and Israel.

Pakistani PM firmly rejects Israeli ties as ‘baseless’, publicity campaign

Source

Saturday, 19 December 2020 10:31 AM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 19 December 2020 11:45 AM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan removes his facemask during a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (not pictured) at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on November 19, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has rejected as “baseless” reports of his government officials visiting Israel, insisting why would any of the ministers visit Tel Aviv when Islamabad does not recognize the occupying regime.

Khan made the remarks during an interview on Friday with the local Samaa TV emphasizing that the Israeli-based news story was part of “an entire campaign” targeting his administration.

The development came following a publicity campaign by Israeli regime’s news outlets alleging on Wednesday that a senior advisor to Khan had visited the occupied territories last month.

Israel stirs media hype as Pakistan comes under pressure to normalize ties
Israel stirs media hype as Pakistan comes under pressure to normalize ties
Israeli news outlets are spreading a rumor that a senior advisor to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the Israeli-occupied territories last month, despite Islamabad’s repeated rejections of speculation about ties with Tel Aviv.

Citing a source close to the Tel Aviv regime, Israel Hayom and other Israeli dailies published a report claiming that the Pakistani aide had met with Israeli officials during an alleged trip to Tel Aviv.

The apparent propaganda story also said the Pakistani official was carrying a message from Khan that reflected his “strategic decision” to open political and diplomatic talks with the regime. The Jerusalem Post also covered publicity item but later removed it from its website.

Pointing to recent efforts by a coalition of 11 opposition groups — led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and the now London-based former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted after being convicted and later jailed on official corruption charges – Khan said he was prepared to face everything the opposition alliance aims to throw at him.

“The PDM can do anything that it wants. I am ready,” said the premier, adding that PDM’s recent protest rally in Lahore had damaged the opposition’s alliance.

“I am a jalsa specialist and I am telling you that this was a flop show,” he said.

Khan’s administration had dismissed the Lahore rally as “more [of] a ploy” to distract from the corruption charges against Sharif.

Huge opposition rally in Lahore urges resignation of PM Khan
Huge opposition rally in Lahore urges resignation of PM Khan
Thousands of Pakistani opposition supporters stage a protest rally in Lahore to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Khan also touched upon the threat of mass resignations by opposition legislators, saying, “If they resign, it would be better for Pakistan.”

He went on to say he would even assist the opposition if they came to Islamabad, but noted, “They cannot even last a week [in Islamabad] even if I support them.”

The Pakistani leader defended the country’s top military commander General Qamar Javed Bajwa against the opposition’s persisting allegations against him and the army, saying that “anger” and “disappointment” prevailed among the ranks after Bajwawas was targeted by opposition leaders during public gatherings.

“Gen Bajwa believes in democracy. Had it been another general, he would have given a quick rebuttal,” Khan said, adding that the army chief was “angry” but he was “controlling it.”

He also emphasized that all institutions — including the army — stood beside him, saying, “There are excellent civil-military ties in the country.”

He said the army serves under him as he is the prime minister, and as the army is a government institution.

India’s scheme to discredit Pakistan

Referring to a recent report by the EU DisinfoLab, Khan said the NGO’s research had exposed India’s network that kept spreading misinformation about Pakistan.

The Brussels-based NGO, which works to combat disinformation against the European Union, unveiled earlier this month that a 15-year-old operation run by an Indian entity had used hundreds of fake media outlets and the identity of a dead professor to defame Pakistan.

The report – Indian Chronicles: deep dive into a 15-year operation targeting the EU and United Nations to serve Indian interests – described the effort as the “largest network” of disinformation they have exposed so far.

The report – released on December 9 – said the disinformation network run by the Srivastava Group, a New Delhi-based entity, was designed primarily to “discredit Pakistan internationally” and influence decision-making at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the European Parliament, Al-Jazeera reported.

The report also revealed that in order to “undermine Pakistan internationally,” the network “resurrected dead NGOs” at the UN, impersonated the EU and laundered content produced by fake media to real media, and reached millions in South Asia and across the world.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv


Russia and Pakistan: the Fifth Year of “Friendship”

Source

Author: Dmitry Bokarev

10.12.2020

RUPK342311

The changing political situation in the world, and the growing threat of terrorism, require that the world’s powers periodically expand the areas in which they cooperate at an international level, and this includes defense. As far as Russia goes, what is interesting is how it is gradually developing the scope of its interaction with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (IRP).

For many years, the IRP was more inclined to be an ally of the United States, including on defense-related matters. The Pakistani military was trained by American instructors, inside Pakistan, during the 1979-1989 Afghan war, and with support provided by the United States camps for mujahideen fighters were set up; back then, not even a word could be uttered about cooperation between the IRP and the USSR/Russia.

But times change, and now a gradual rapprochement can be observed between Pakistan and the Russian Federation – and against the backdrop of that, it is slowly moving away from the US. One thing that is of no small importance is that both Russia and the IRP feel the pressure from the growing threat of international terrorism, and that particularly concerns Afghanistan. Both countries are at the forefront in combating this phenomenon, but Washington seems to have begun to withdraw from Afghan affairs in recent years, shifting more of its attention to China.

Since 2016, Russia and Pakistan have begun to conduct their annual joint military exercise, which is dubbed “Friendship”. The Russian side is represented by military service personnel from its Southern Military District. The exercise has taken on anti-terrorism overtones, and they take turns holding it in both countries: “Friendship” was first held in the IRP; in 2017 it took place in the Russian republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, and Friendship-2018 was held in Pakistan again. The Friendship-2019 exercise took place in October 2019 in the Russian area of Kuban, and will be remembered for how the new Russian Mi-8AMTSh transport and assault helicopter, known as the Terminator, was used during it.

The venue for the fifth Russian-Pakistani exercise Friendship-2020 was the training base for IRP special operation forces in the village of Tarbela (Pakistan), and the IRP’s national counterterrorism center in Pabbi. Special forces soldiers from the 49th Combined Arms Army in Russia’s Southern Military District arrived in the IRP to take part in the event. The opening ceremony for the exercise took place on November 9, 2020, and besides Russian and Pakistani military the Russian Ambassador to the IRP, Danila Ganich, took part in it; this underscored the event’s political component. For almost two weeks, the Russian and Pakistani military practiced counterterrorism activities in the Pakistani mountains and forests, after which they ended the exercises with a spectacular assault on a simulated adversary’s base.

It is worth noting that while military cooperation between the two countries usually speaks to the fact that they interact politically at a very high level, in Pakistan’s case this is twice as true since in Pakistan the army is not just an armed force, but also a state-forming institution that unites the country – and has great influence on the foreign and domestic policies taken by the IRP. At the opening of the Friendship-2020 exercises, Russian Ambassador Danila Ganich spoke about this, calling the Pakistani army “the core of Pakistani statehood and society”.

It is believed that fostering military and political cooperation between Russia and Pakistan may elicit discontent from Russia’s principal military partner in South Asia, India, since relations between Pakistan and India are extremely complex, and have often spilled over into bloodshed. The last time an armed clash between Indian and Pakistani military forces occurred in February-March 2019, was accompanied by participation on the part of Pakistani illegal armed groups, and resulted in dozens of casualties on both sides. In this regard, according to some experts, the Russian-Pakistani “Friendship” exercises could either cause – or be a sign of – cooling relations between New Delhi and Moscow. However, other experts believe that conclusions like this are premature. First, both Russia and India are aware that each country has its own interests and its own policies – therefore, for example, the Russian Federation cannot lodge any complaints against India owing to its strategic partnership with the United States. Incidentally, from November 3-20, 2020, at about the same time that the Friendship exercises were taking place, India held its scheduled Malabar exercise – its 24th one already – jointly with the United States (the opinion also exists that, to a certain extent, “Friendship” is Russia’s response to that), and this did not cause any issues on the Russian side.

Finally, it is worth reiterating that both countries – India and Pakistan – share a border with Afghanistan, where large swaths of territory are controlled by terrorist groups, and constitute a source of the terrorist threat for the entire world, especially for adjacent countries. And right now the terrorist threat from Afghanistan may intensify to an extreme degree by virtue of the decision made by the US to withdraw its troops from the country. Despite their various differences, New Delhi and Islamabad must be aware that this situation is dangerous for everyone. It is also clear that a huge role in combating Afghani terrorism belongs to the leadership in Pakistan. The border between the IRP and Afghanistan is very porous, and militants from terrorist organizations like the Taliban (banned in the Russian Federation) move across it freely, and control areas of territory on both sides. It is common knowledge that Pakistan’s leadership has led a relatively peaceful coexistence with the Taliban for a long time now. However, in recent years the IRP Armed Forces have been waging an increasingly active struggle against it.

After the Americans withdraw, terrorists in Afghanistan could reinforce their positions to such an extent that they could launch an offensive in areas that they control, including in those located in Pakistan. In this instance, both India and the rest of the region’s countries will be forced to provide all the necessary assistance to Pakistan’s lawful government to keep these Afghani-Pakistani terrorists in the bounds of certain pockets and not allow them to turn Pakistan into a springboard to perform their activities throughout all of Asia. And the fact that even now, without waiting for American troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, or for there to be an upward swing in the terrorist threat, Russia and Pakistan are practicing joint counterterrorism activities, holds tremendous importance for the entire region, including India – and New Delhi should have an understanding of this.

Dmitry Bokarev, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

UAE stops issuing new visas to citizens of 13 Arab and Muslim-majority countries

By MEE and agencies

Published date: 25 November 2020

There has been no official explanation as to why the countries, which include Turkey, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, were targeted by the ban

The flags of US, Israel, UAE and Bahrain are projected on the ramparts of Jerusalem’s Old City on 15 September 2020 in a show of support for Israeli normalisation deals (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, Somalia, Yemen and Algeria.

According to Reuters, the decision was seen in a document issued by a state-owned business park, which was sent to companies operating in the park.

The document cited an immigration circular that came into effect on 18 November.

It said applications for new employment and visit visas had been suspended for nationals who are outside the UAE of the 13 countries – which also include Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Kenya, and Iraq – until further notice.

It was not clear if there were any exceptions to the ban.

The move comes in contrast to the UAE’s decision to waive visas for Israeli citizens following a controversial normalisation agreement signed in September. The agreement was perceived by Palestinian and Arab public opinion as an act of betrayal of the struggle against Israeli occupation. 

The UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

A source briefed on the matter told Reuters the UAE had temporarily stopped issuing new visas to Afghans, Pakistanis and citizens of several other countries over security concerns.

The source did not say what those concerns were, but said the visa ban was expected to last for a short period.

Last week, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the UAE had stopped processing new visas for its citizens and those of some other countries.

It said it was seeking information from the UAE on the reason for the suspension, but that it thought it was related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pakistani ministry and the source said those holding valid visas were not affected by the new restrictions and could enter the UAE.

Perils of Unannounced War on the LoC

By Altaf Wani

Source

Over the past several years the Line of Control (LoC) has been on the boil. An unannounced war imposed by India is going on unabated. Bombing and shelling on the civilian population by the Indian troops have been a regular feature of the life near 740-kilometer long bloody ceasefire line, chosen by India’s fascist regime as a new battle-field to achieve its sinister designs in the region.

Unfortunately, the consequences of this silent war and its devastating impact on the lives of native people have gone largely unnoticed. Along with the potential of triggering a nuclear confrontation, this reckless violence is making life hell for the civilians settled in villages and towns along the LoC who have witnessed long spells of dreadful violence due to the ceasefire violations committed by the Indian forces. During the recent spate of Indian shelling in the Neelum Valley six civilians and a soldier of the Pakistan Army embraced martyrdom while two soldiers and at least nine civilians were wounded in AJK after Indian troops resorted to indiscriminate and ruthless shelling from across the (LoC) past midnight without any provocation.

Nearly 30% of total population of Azad Jammu and Kashmir lives in these highly volatile areas. Being at the edge of conflict, the long spells of violence have hit hard the lives of the common people in these highly vulnerable areas especially the Neelum, Leepa, and Jhelum valley, Farward Khota, Tatrinote, Nikyal and other areas that has witnessed a series of dreadful attacks by the Indian Army this year. As a result, hundreds of residential houses, vehicles, cattle-sheds, even schools, hospitals and places of worship (mosques) were destroyed and demolished due to the targeted shelling by the Indian troops from across the LoC. A perpetual and pervasive threat of aggression from India has caused displacement of the economically disadvantaged and downtrodden segment of the society on both sides of the line of control.

The most depressing aspect of this dirty war is that Indian troops have been using civilian population as a human shield to protect themselves from any possible reaction and response from the Pakistani side. Knowing that Pakistani side won’t target their installations in populated areas, the Indian Army is reported to have relocated its heavy artillery near densely populated areas and at some places in the middle of local population on other side of the LoC. The main aim and objective was to blame Pakistan for any civilian casualty and loss of property but India’s sinister plan was shortly exposed when people at Manzgam, Chokibal and Dardpora and Thandipora villages staged a protest against this anomaly. The incident was widely reported in local and international media wherein people revealed to the pressmen that the Indian Army was using them as human shields, which constitutes a serious crime under international law. But the fact remains that the restraint and responsibility showed by the Pakistan Army has emboldened the Indians to undertake attacks to spill the blood of innocent civilians.

While the realpolitik is steering the dynamics of the Kashmir conflict no one even bothers to talk about these war crimes being committed with impunity by the Indian forces. The absence of proper on-ground monitoring system has further aggravated the situation in the region since the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) that was mandated to supervise ceasefire violations on the LoC has been rendered virtually dysfunctional by the Indian government due to its noncooperation with the UN observers stationed in Srinagar, the capital city of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). On the contrary, the Pakistan Army on its part has continued to lodge complaints with UNMOGIP about ceasefire violations. The military authorities of India have not lodged any complaint since January 1972 and have restricted the activities of the UN observers near the LoC in IIOJK. Not allowing the observer mission to supervise the ceasefire violations, India, instead, choose to stick to its traditional policy of blaming Pakistan by paddling lies and trumpeting its so-called ‘counter-insurgency narrative’.

The historic 2003 ceasefire agreement that survived for over a decade has been instrumental in curbing cross-LoC violence in the region but this agreement too was thrown to the winds soon after the Modi government took over reins of power in New Delhi. Since then, there has been an upsurge in the incidents of ceasefire violations. According to statistics provided by Pakistan’s foreign ministry, and the State Disaster Management Authority Government of Azad Kashmir, the ceasefire has been violated by India at least 2,730 times this year, resulting in 21 civilian deaths and serious injuries to 206 others. Apart from fomenting trouble and creating instability on this side of the LoC, the Indian Army is raising tensions on the ceasefire line to deflect world attention away from the aggravating humanitarian situation in IIOJK.

The antagonistic approach and senseless targeting of innocent civilians would further, vitiate the tense atmosphere along the LoC and threaten regional peace and security. It is high time that the world must take effective notice of this reckless war imposed by India and force the government of India to resolve the lingering Kashmir dispute that happens to be the mother of all disputes pending between India and Pakistan.

Expansion of trade ties with Pakistan a priority

November 20, 2020 – 17:22

By Mahnaz Abdi

TEHRAN- Pakistan has a relatively large consumer market with a population of over 200 million.

According to the World Trade Organization, imports constitute over 66 percent of Pakistan’s trade.

Expansion of trade with Pakistan, and boosting exports to this neighbor is one of Iran’s priorities.

In a recent visit to Pakistan, Head of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) Hamid Zadboum met with Pakistan’s deputy economic affairs minister to discuss the expansion of trade ties with the neighboring country.

In the meeting, the officials reviewed important axes of trade, investment, and transportation between the two countries, and decided that the next meeting of the Joint Economic Committee of the two countries will be held in Tehran next month.

To be hosted by the Industry, Mining and Trade Ministry, the fifth meeting of the two countries’ Free Trade Committee was also decided to be held on the sidelines of the joint economic committee meeting.

Further in the meeting, representatives of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Ministry of Transport and Urban Development, and the Energy Ministry held talks with their Pakistani counterparts to discuss a variety of issues including electricity exports, and maritime, road, and rail transportation cooperation.

The TPO head had visited Pakistan along with a high-ranking delegation headed by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Iran’s exports to Pakistan in the past Iranian calendar year (ended on March 19) was $1.18 billion, but in the meantime, financial and banking problems have still created obstacles in the way of trade relations with this country.

And although due to the banking and financial problems, barter trade with Pakistan is still emphasized by Iran; experts and those active in the economic fields believe that Iran should seriously pursue the idea of a bilateral joint bank with Pakistan, while taking trade facilitation measures in line with signing agreements.

Last month, in a meeting with the Pakistani ambassador to Tehran, the head of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization stressed his country’s desire to have a free trade agreement with Pakistan.

Referring to the existence of a preferential trade agreement between the two sides, Hamid Zadboum stressed Iran’s willingness for a free trade agreement with this country.

Emphasizing the need for Iranian and Pakistani officials to pay serious attention to removing obstacles to expanding trade relations between the two countries, the official said: “According to the studies, Pakistan has the highest potential among Iran’s 15 neighbors and is the first country with which Iran is willing to develop trade.”

Expansion of border trade between the two countries is another issue that Iran is seriously pursued.

The value of Iran’s exports to Pakistan through the border in the southeast of the country has risen 26 percent during the first quarter of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20-June 20), compared to the same period of time in the previous year.

More activities of Iran-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce especially in the border areas is the other important approach to be adopted in line with the expansion of bilateral ties.

Syria’s International Conference On Refugees Is A Masterclass In Balancing

12 NOVEMBER 2020

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Syria

The kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria has mostly drawn to a close, as evidenced by the milestone event of the country hosting an international conference on the return of refugees, which resulted in several significant outcomes that speak to the masterful execution of its “balancing” strategy and raise hope that the Arab Republic will eventually transform into the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of China’s visionary W-CPEC+ corridor across Eurasia.

Strategically Disarming “Weapons Of Mass Migration”

Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees is a milestone event for the country’s war which shows that the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror against it has mostly drawn to a close. President Assad’s keynote speech saw the Syrian leader thanking his Russian and Iranian wartime allies for their help getting to this point and encouraging his compatriots abroad to finally return home. He claimed that some of their host countries are exploiting them for financial and other reasons, strongly hinting that they’re being used against their will as “Weapons of Mass Migration” like Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill earlier described such a phenomenon. In connection with that, President Assad condemned those states which continue to impose illegal sanctions against the Arab Republic, which has disincentivized some refugees from returning home and thus results in artificially perpetuating this historic humanitarian crisis that was initially sparked by their external war of regime change aggression against his people through terrorist means.

Syria’s “Balancing” Act

Thankfully, Syria can count on its Russian and Iranian wartime allies to help reconstruct the ruined country and thus facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homeland. To this end, Russia promised to allocate $1 billion as well as open up a trade mission in Damascus while Iran suggested setting up an international fund for this purpose. Both countries seem poised to enter into a “friendly competition” with one another for reconstruction contracts and market space which can only work out to Syria’s ultimate benefit. The Arab Republic is therefore expected to retain its carefully calibrated “balancing” act between them, wisely doing its utmost to prevent the emergence of any complete dependence on either of them in the future. This strategy is consistent with what it’s always pursued over the decades and represents its masterful execution which too many other small- and medium-sized states previously attempted but to no avail. Even worse, many of Syria’s peers saw this strategy backfire on them, thus leading to either their ruin or full dependence on one partner.

Full credit goes to Syria’s world-class diplomats for being able to manage such a difficult policy with such success. Not only are they “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but they also managed to attract the important participation of other countries in their international refugee conference, most curious of which for some observers is Pakistan. Those who only casually follow Syrian affairs might have missed it, but Islamabad recently dispatched massive medical aid to the Arab Republic. This and its participation in the international conference show that the “global pivot state” (which the author previously referred to it as) is capable of bold foreign policy moves independent of its close American, Saudi, and Turkish partners. Pakistan, just like Syria, is also practicing its own “balancing” act between its aforementioned three traditional partners and its three newest ones of Russia, China, and Iran. In fact, it can be argued that Pakistan and Syria are in the process of synergizing their respective “balancing” strategies for the betterment of Eurasia.

Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria”

To explain, not only is Syria “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but also between India and Pakistan too. Although Damascus and Delhi have a long history of close relations, Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shabaan told the Hindustan Times in August 2017 that her country is becoming hesitant about India’s role in its reconstruction after Prime Minister Modi’s highly publicized trip to “Israel” where he did everything from sign intergovernmental deals solidifying their de-facto alliance to even walking barefoot with Netanyahu along the beach. The author realized at the time that this is “Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria” whereby Islamabad could flex its anti-Zionist credentials to present itself as a much more credible partner than pro-Zionist Delhi in pursuit of strengthening the two state’s historic relations that reached their high point in 1974 after a Pakistani pilot flying a Syrian jet shot down an “Israeli” fighter flying over the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s diplomats were evidently receptive to Pakistan’s outreaches, hence the steady improvement of ties.

The Winding Road To W-CPEC+

It’s not just nostalgia for their Old Cold War-era ties nor their shared hatred of “Israel” that’s bringing them closer together nowadays, but pro-Chinese Silk Road pragmatism. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and its western branch corridor (W-CPEC+) through Iran has the chance of not only reaching Russia by running parallel with the stalled North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) across Azerbaijan but can also extend as far as Syria via Iraq. China is the little-discussed third economic force apart from Russia and Iran which is engaged in a “friendly competition” with its partners to develop Syria, and the improvement of Syrian-Pakistani relations as is presently happening could result in W-CPEC+ extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, all of which are allied with one another. It’ll of course take a lot of political will from all sides — not least of all Pakistan — to see this ambitious vision through, but if successful, then it could revolutionize Mideast geopolitics.

All five countries — China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and Syria — would benefit from this outcome. The People’s Republic is the world’s second-largest economy and actively eyeing more positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to complement its prospective ones in “Israel”, albeit via more geopolitically reliable mainland routes than the maritime ones connecting it to the self-professed “Jewish State”. Pakistan has an interest in bolstering its credential as the “global pivot state” by having CPEC serve as the platform for integrating Eurasia more closely together. Iran, which is desperately seeking all manner of sanctions relief, is reportedly negotiating a gargantuan economic agreement with China and would certainly benefit by facilitating more East-West trade through its territory. As for Russia, its recent control over Tartus means that it could profit from any Syrian export of Chinese products through that port. As for the Arab Republic itself, its expected benefit is that this vision would accelerate its reconstruction and allow it to finally actualize its pre-war “Five Seas Strategy”.

Concluding Thoughts

All told, Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees was about much more than just its titular topic. Reading between the lines of the details that have since been revealed about this milestone event, it was actually a masterclass in Syria’s “balancing” strategy. The Arab Republic proved that its diplomats are among the most highly skilled in the world after successfully “balancing” between Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan, all with the aim of fulfilling its visionary “Five Seas Strategy” which some argue was partially responsible for provoking the Hybrid War of Terror that’s been viciously waged against it for almost an entire decade already. In the best-case scenario, Syria will eventually serve as the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of the W-CPEC+ corridor connecting that strategic body of water with the Pacific Ocean via a several-country-long mainland commercial corridor. The successful fulfillment of this vision would revolutionize not only Mideast geopolitics, but also Eurasian geopolitics as a whole, which thus makes it an urgent priority for all.

التطبيع مأزوم لاهتزاز تغطياته فإلى أين المفرّ؟

د.وفيق إبراهيم

كان متوقعاً ان يرتفع عديد الدول العربية والإسلامية الذاهبة الى التطبيع الكامل مع الكيان الإسرائيلي ليسجل ارقاماً كبيرة بعد مرحلة الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية مباشرة.

انتهت هذه الانتخابات الى غير المرتجى منها، لان القائد الأميركي للتطبيع الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب خسرها، محاولاً تفجير الداخل الاجتماعي الأميركي باستثارة العصبيات العرقية والدينية والجهوية والطبقيّة آملاً الدفع نحو فوضى شعبية داخلية، قد تبقيه حسب ما يعتقد رئيساً لمدة اضافية طويلة.

لم يكتف هذا السعار الترامبي بهذا القدر من التوتير، فكلَّف فريقاً من المحامين والقضاة والمتخصصين بدهاليز الانتخابات بتقديم اعتراضات للمحاكم متهماً فيها منافسه الفائز جو بايدن بتزويرها، بمشاركة حزبه الديموقراطية.

إلا أن حظوظ ترامب في هذا المسار باتت في قلب الإفلاس ولن يتأخر طويلاً عن هزيمته لا سيما أن هناك شبه اعتراف سياسي داخلي أميركي بفوز بايدن وإقرار عالمي بذلك.

المسألة إذاً لن تطول أكثر من كانون الثاني المقبل حيث يشهد العالم التسلم والتسليم بين رئيسين أحدهما مهزوم والآخر منتصر، لكنهما لا يختلفان على المشروع المنحصر بتأمين أكبر قدر ممكن من النفوذ الأميركي العالمي، بل يتباينان في الأساليب المعتمدة.

إن تداعيات هذه الأساليب ترمي عادة برذاذها على العالم بأسره، لما للأميركيين من نفوذ عميق، اقتصادي وعسكري وسياسي وثقافي يشمل كافة الدول، لكنه يُمسك بشكل أكثر فاعلية الدول الضعيفة سياسياً والقوية بإمكاناتها الاقتصادية.

واحدة من هذه المناطق هي الدول العربية التي تشكل منذ تأسيسها المصطنع في النصف الاول من القرن العشرين، مجرّد آليات، صنعها الاستعمار البريطاني والفرنسي، لإدارة مناطق تختزن نفطاً وغازاً ومواقع استراتيجية وقدرة على الاستهلاك لأنها لا تصنع شيئاً.

كانت الاستراتيجية الأميركية بالتعامل مع هذه المنطقة تقدم على دعم الأنظمة العربية في وجه شعوبها على اساس الإمساك بالتاريخ ضمن القرون الوسطى، اما على مستوى الخطر الخارجي، فهو غير موجود لأن هذه الأنظمة تشكل حتى اليوم جزءاً من الجيوبولتيك الأميركي الذي لم يتجرأ أحد على مهاجمته في أي من مناطق نفوذه. باستثناء إيران التي تدافع عن نفسها وتحالفاتها في الإقليم لمنع الأميركيين من إلحاقهم بالقرون الوسطى.

هذا الرئيس المهزوم ترامب ذهب بعيداً في أساليبه في المنطقة العربية، مرغماً الإمارات والبحرين والسودان على التطبيع مع «إسرائيل» في إطار خطبة تدريجيّة كانت تضم السعودية وباكستان والمغرب وجزر القمر وقطر وعمان.

هناك سببان يضعان خطة ترامب في حجر زمنيّ قابل للتدمير، الأول هو باكستان التي فاجأ رئيسها عمران خان الأميركيين والسعوديين معاً برفض أي تطبيع لبلاده مع الكيان الإسرائيلي، مؤكداً أن هذا الأمر لا يتحقق إلا بعد إنشاء دولة فلسطينية، وقبول الفلسطينيين بها.

ألا يشكل هذا الموقف صفعة لترامب شخصياً وسياسته المطبقة في الشرق الأوسط، موجّهاً في الوقت نفسه ركلة لكل عرب التطبيع في الإمارات والبحرين والسودان، ومسدداً في العمق ضرباً مبرحاً لأداة الضغط الأساسية في العالم الإسلامي وهي السعودية، التي توزع الرشى والتحشيد من اجل دفع العرب والدول الإسلامية نحو التطبيع.

عمران خان اذاً بطل في زمن محنة، ولأنه استثنائي فلم يُعِرْه الاعلام الغربي أي أهمية مكتفياً بعرض موقفه بشكل موجز وهذا يشمل أيضاً الاعلام العربي، وإعلام المقاومة!!

لجهة السبب الثاني فهو فشل ترامب في الانتخابات الرئاسية، وهذا يعني ظهور أساليب أميركيّة جديدة خاصة بالرئيس بايدن الفائز وحزبه الديموقراطي.

لماذا هذا التغيير في الأساليب الأميركية في الشرق الأوسط العربي أكثر من ضرورة؟

عندما بدأ ترامب رئاسته في 2016، كانت المنطقة العربية، ملتهبة بمئات آلاف الإرهابيين تضرب الدول في المدن والقرى وتحاصر الانظمة السياسية في عواصمها.

لقد ورث ترامب هذه المميزات عن السياسة الأميركية التي دعمت هذا الإرهاب منذ 1990، ووضعت في ذلك التاريخ مشروع الشرق الأوسط الكبير، لذلك استعمل هذه المميزات في خطة فرض التطبيع العربي مع «إسرائيل». لكن ما يجري اليوم أصبح مختلفاً لأن هذا المشروع الأميركي متراجع بشكل كبير، ويتسلم بايدن الحكم في ظل موازنات جديدة في إطار الصراع على القطبية العالمية. فالصين لا تنفك تصعد فيما تُمسك روسيا بمنزلة أقوى قوة عسكرية تقليدية ونووية، هذا بالاضافة إلى أن الاقتصاد الأميركي لا ينفكّ يسجل الخسائر المتصاعدة، بسبب المنافسات الدولية من جهة والكورونا من جهة ثانية، والتي تسببت بضمور كبير في التفاعلات الاقتصاديّة.

هذا يعني أن بايدن متّجه الى تبني أساليب بعيدة عن نهج ترامب القتالي غير المحترف والغوغائي.

فبايدن بحاجة الى التخفيف من الصراعات العسكرية والسياسية لمصلحة جذب عناصر اقتصادية من الخارج بوسعها ترميم اقتصاده الأميركي المتعثر وكبح الصعود الصيني ـ الروسي. بنظام تحالفات جديد يضيف على ما يسيطر عليه الأميركيون حالياً.

هذا يؤشر الى إمكانية أميركية لتعامل جديد مع ايران التي برهنت أنها قوة أساسية في الشرق الأوسط، وذلك لأنها تمسك بالموقع الاستراتيجي ومعظم موارد الثروة والنفوذ السياسي في الإقليم.

فهل هذا ممكن؟

هذا ممكن، إذا توقف الأميركيون عن مسلسل الضغط من أجل التطبيع مع الانسحاب من العراق وسورية وفك الحصار عن إيران.

انها العناوين المقبلة للحوار المفترض الأميركي ـ الإيراني الذي قد يؤدي الى أساليب أميركية جديدة تعمل ايضاً من اجل المصالح الأميركية، الأحادية انما من خلال اساليب مختلفة جذرياً من أساليب البائد ترامب التزاماً فقط بموازنات القوى الجديدة.

Syria’s International Conference On Refugees Is A Masterclass In Balancing

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria has mostly drawn to a close, as evidenced by the milestone event of the country hosting an international conference on the return of refugees, which resulted in several significant outcomes that speak to the masterful execution of its “balancing” strategy and raise hope that the Arab Republic will eventually transform into the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of China’s visionary W-CPEC+ corridor across Eurasia.

Strategically Disarming “Weapons Of Mass Migration”

Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees is a milestone event for the country’s war which shows that the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror against it has mostly drawn to a close. President Assad’s keynote speech saw the Syrian leader thanking his Russian and Iranian wartime allies for their help getting to this point and encouraging his compatriots abroad to finally return home. He claimed that some of their host countries are exploiting them for financial and other reasons, strongly hinting that they’re being used against their will as “Weapons of Mass Migration” like Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill earlier described such a phenomenon. In connection with that, President Assad condemned those states which continue to impose illegal sanctions against the Arab Republic, which has disincentivized some refugees from returning home and thus results in artificially perpetuating this historic humanitarian crisis that was initially sparked by their external war of regime change aggression against his people through terrorist means.

Syria’s “Balancing” Act

Thankfully, Syria can count on its Russian and Iranian wartime allies to help reconstruct the ruined country and thus facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homeland. To this end, Russia promised to allocate $1 billion as well as open up a trade mission in Damascus while Iran suggested setting up an international fund for this purpose. Both countries seem poised to enter into a “friendly competition” with one another for reconstruction contracts and market space which can only work out to Syria’s ultimate benefit. The Arab Republic is therefore expected to retain its carefully calibrated “balancing” act between them, wisely doing its utmost to prevent the emergence of any complete dependence on either of them in the future. This strategy is consistent with what it’s always pursued over the decades and represents its masterful execution which too many other small- and medium-sized states previously attempted but to no avail. Even worse, many of Syria’s peers saw this strategy backfire on them, thus leading to either their ruin or full dependence on one partner.

Full credit goes to Syria’s world-class diplomats for being able to manage such a difficult policy with such success. Not only are they “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but they also managed to attract the important participation of other countries in their international refugee conference, most curious of which for some observers is Pakistan. Those who only casually follow Syrian affairs might have missed it, but Islamabad recently dispatched massive medical aid to the Arab Republic. This and its participation in the international conference show that the “global pivot state” (which the author previously referred to it as) is capable of bold foreign policy moves independent of its close American, Saudi, and Turkish partners. Pakistan, just like Syria, is also practicing its own “balancing” act between its aforementioned three traditional partners and its three newest ones of Russia, China, and Iran. In fact, it can be argued that Pakistan and Syria are in the process of synergizing their respective “balancing” strategies for the betterment of Eurasia.

Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria”

To explain, not only is Syria “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but also between India and Pakistan too. Although Damascus and Delhi have a long history of close relations, Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shabaan told the Hindustan Times in August 2017 that her country is becoming hesitant about India’s role in its reconstruction after Prime Minister Modi’s highly publicized trip to “Israel” where he did everything from sign intergovernmental deals solidifying their de-facto alliance to even walking barefoot with Netanyahu along the beach. The author realized at the time that this is “Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria” whereby Islamabad could flex its anti-Zionist credentials to present itself as a much more credible partner than pro-Zionist Delhi in pursuit of strengthening the two state’s historic relations that reached their high point in 1974 after a Pakistani pilot flying a Syrian jet shot down an “Israeli” fighter flying over the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s diplomats were evidently receptive to Pakistan’s outreaches, hence the steady improvement of ties.

The Winding Road To W-CPEC+

It’s not just nostalgia for their Old Cold War-era ties nor their shared hatred of “Israel” that’s bringing them closer together nowadays, but pro-Chinese Silk Road pragmatism. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and its western branch corridor (W-CPEC+) through Iran has the chance of not only reaching Russia by running parallel with the stalled North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) across Azerbaijan but can also extend as far as Syria via Iraq. China is the little-discussed third economic force apart from Russia and Iran which is engaged in a “friendly competition” with its partners to develop Syria, and the improvement of Syrian-Pakistani relations as is presently happening could result in W-CPEC+ extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, all of which are allied with one another. It’ll of course take a lot of political will from all sides — not least of all Pakistan — to see this ambitious vision through, but if successful, then it could revolutionize Mideast geopolitics.

All five countries — China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and Syria — would benefit from this outcome. The People’s Republic is the world’s second-largest economy and actively eyeing more positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to complement its prospective ones in “Israel”, albeit via more geopolitically reliable mainland routes than the maritime ones connecting it to the self-professed “Jewish State”. Pakistan has an interest in bolstering its credential as the “global pivot state” by having CPEC serve as the platform for integrating Eurasia more closely together. Iran, which is desperately seeking all manner of sanctions relief, is reportedly negotiating a gargantuan economic agreement with China and would certainly benefit by facilitating more East-West trade through its territory. As for Russia, its recent control over Tartus means that it could profit from any Syrian export of Chinese products through that port. As for the Arab Republic itself, its expected benefit is that this vision would accelerate its reconstruction and allow it to finally actualize its pre-war “Five Seas Strategy”.

Concluding Thoughts

All told, Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees was about much more than just its titular topic. Reading between the lines of the details that have since been revealed about this milestone event, it was actually a masterclass in Syria’s “balancing” strategy. The Arab Republic proved that its diplomats are among the most highly skilled in the world after successfully “balancing” between Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan, all with the aim of fulfilling its visionary “Five Seas Strategy” which some argue was partially responsible for provoking the Hybrid War of Terror that’s been viciously waged against it for almost an entire decade already. In the best-case scenario, Syria will eventually serve as the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of the W-CPEC+ corridor connecting that strategic body of water with the Pacific Ocean via a several-country-long mainland commercial corridor. The successful fulfillment of this vision would revolutionize not only Mideast geopolitics, but also Eurasian geopolitics as a whole, which thus makes it an urgent priority for all.

Pakistan Made A Compelling Case That India Is A State Sponsor Of Terrorism

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Pakistan released a detailed dossier during a press conference on Saturday strongly making the case that India is a state sponsor of terrorism whose intelligence services have weaponized this phenomenon as part of the proxy war that they’re fighting with respect to the UNSC-recognized international Kashmir dispute and against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with it now being the responsibility of the international community to investigate these scandalous claims in order to decide whether India deserves to be sanctioned by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and other related bodies for its rogue behavior.

This year’s Diwali celebration got off to a very symbolic start after Pakistan shined some light on the dark activities that it accused India of carrying out in the region. Islamabad released a detailed dossier during a press conference on Saturday strongly making the case that India is a state sponsor of terrorism whose intelligence services have weaponized this phenomenon as part of the proxy war that they’re fighting with respect to the UNSC-recognized international Kashmir dispute and against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). These claims aren’t anything new, but what’s novel is the amount of detail devoted to proving them this time around.

According to Pakistan, Indian diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan are being used to coordinate the training of various terrorist groups on that landlocked country’s territory, including efforts to unite relevant Baloch and Pashtun ones as well as create a new ISIS branch dedicated to attacking Pakistan. Islamabad mentioned names, dates, bank accounts, phone numbers, and other identifying information such as exposing the Indian mastermind of these regionally destabilizing activities to make its case that India is a rogue state whose behavior should be investigated by the international community, which might find it fitting to sanction the country through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and other related bodies.

Pakistan’s diplomatic masterstroke puts India in a very uncomfortable position because it had hitherto been the latter making such claims about the former and not the reverse. The comparatively muted reaction from the international community in the 24 hours since the dossier was revealed suggests that they feel uncomfortable about the accusations and aren’t too sure how to respond. India is a close military and economic partner of a growing number of influential players such as the US and “Israel” who might now be embarrassed for so closely associating with a country that’s been convincingly accused of such rogue behavior. At the same time, however, “birds of a feather flock together”, as they say.

For reasons of self-interest, it might turn out that the international community as a whole doesn’t react the same way to Pakistan’s accusations as they’ve done in the past whenever India made similar but much less detailed ones. Nevertheless, what’s most important to pay attention to is how these revelations might shape Chinese-Indian relations considering their clashes along the Line of Actual Control this summer and ongoing state of ever-intensifying cold war. The grand strategic interests of the People’s Republic are directly threatened by India’s Hybrid War of Terror on Pakistan, which aims to destabilize CPEC’s northern and southern access points in Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan respectively.

In fact, the timing of this dossier’s release might have been connected to those two countries’ rivalry. To explain, India was handily defeated by China during their clashes over the summer, which might be why it’s doubling down on its proxy war of terrorism against Pakistan in response. After all, Islamabad warned that New Delhi would soon seek to intensify its terrorist efforts in the coming future, so the dossier might have been intended to preemptively thwart that by exposing these plans in order to put pressure on India to reconsider its actions. Of course, it also took plenty of time to assemble all the details that were disclosed, but the timing was at least very convenient from the Pakistani perspective even if it was ultimately coincidental.

All told, the dossier heralds the advent of a new phase of Pakistani diplomacy where Islamabad confidently exposes India’s Hybrid War of Terror on the world stage. Since it can be assumed that China considers these claims credible considering the fact that its interests are directly threatened irrespective of the country’s public reaction (or potential lack thereof in line with its diplomatic traditions), the conclusion can thus far be made that this report already had a significant impact. It might very well end up being the case that Chinese-Indian relations will never return to their former friendliness, especially if Beijing begins to wonder whether Washington might be tacitly supporting New Delhi’s proxy war on CPEC.

China Newsbrief and Sitrep

China Newsbrief and Sitrep

November 10, 2020

Source

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

Infrastructure

The Three Gorges passed all its tests. Flood control, power generation, navigation and water resources utilization are running smoothly. The river dam, flood discharge, energy dissipation, water diversion and power generation, navigation facilities, protective buildings, mechanical and electrical systems are operating normally and stably. The reservoir accumulated 180 billion cubic meters of floodwater, reduced the flood peak by 40 percent, and the lowered flood control pressures in the the Yangtze River. Read full article →

Agriculture

A new record means a one mu (0.067 hectare) rice field can feed five people for a year. Scientists achieved record-breaking yields of 1,500 kg per mu, or 22.5 tonnes per hectare. The strain, named “Sanyou #1”, is known for its high yield and resilience to unfavorable weather conditions. The late-season hybrid rice yield measured on Monday reached 911.7 kg per mu – each mu measures about 0.07 hectares.  Read full article →

Aerospace

China has launched more satellites than any other country this year as of Sept. 30, putting it on track to win the space launch-rate race three years in a row. Through the third quarter of 2020, China has launched a total of 29 satellites. The US by contrast has launched 27 total, launching 10 this quarter. Only SpaceX keeps the US close to China. Read full article →

Useless Idiots?

What really happened at the US Consulate General in Hong Kong when those four young anti-China activists turned up seeking asylum? They were rejected because, as much as they would like to believe they fought the good fight against “tyranny” and merit “protection” for all the sacrifices they made, they are in fact nobodies in the eyes of the unscrupulous and manipulative officials and politicians in Washington who cheered them on and lulled them into a false sense of security that America had their backs. Read full article →

The four Hong Kong activists who sought protection at the US consulate last week had discussed their intentions with consular staff, who gave them the green light to enter the compound before firmly asking them to leave. Three were seeking asylum, while the fourth, who claims to be a US citizen, is accusing the consulate of neglecting its duty to help him.  Read full article →

Long Read: Investing in the Belt and Road

(This article selection is specifically for the explanation on Islamic Finance)

Pakistan BRI Projects

China’s Belt & Road Initiative officially kicked off in 2013, some seven years ago, under the initial title of ‘One Belt One Road’. That was later dropped as it became apparent that the scale of demand for projects would be rather more than single Eurasian and Maritime routes. While there has been some controversy over China’s financing and the exporting of its construction SOEs to build these projects, closer examination of the so-called ‘debt trap’ issue by US Universities such as John Hopkins and William & Mary have revealed this not to be the case; their studies failing to produce any evidence of debt trap problems created by Chinese loans. It is however encouraging that such finance is being monitored and it will help keep Beijing straight. This is good news for Pakistan, as it has been a significant recipient of Chinese infrastructure funding, with US$62 billion being spent on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) alone.

The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor 

The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure projects that are under construction throughout the country. CPEC is intended to rapidly upgrade Pakistan’s required infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones. CPEC became partly operational in late 2016 when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia, while certain nationally important power projects came onstream in late 2017.

A vast network of highways and railways are currently being constructed as part of CPEC that will span the length and breadth of Pakistan. Inefficiencies stemming from Pakistan’s current, mostly dilapidated transportation network are estimated by the government to cause a loss of 3.55% of the country’s annual GDP with little investment having been made since the days of the British Raj.

Modern transportation networks built under CPEC will link seaports in Gwadar and Karachi on Pakistan’s southern coast with northern Pakistan, as well as to routes and cities further north in Western China’s Xinjiang Province and onto Central Asia. This includes a 1,100 km motorway being built between Karachi and Lahore, while the Karachi-Peshawar main rail route is being upgraded to allow for high speed train travel.

To the north the Karakoram Highway from Gilgit to Taxkorgan and Kashgar is being completely overhauled while Pakistan’s railway network will also be extended to eventually connect to China’s Southern Xinjiang railway in Kashgar and from there onto China’s national rail system and its majority Muslim Provinces of Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Ningxia – all of which lie in a West-East axis, following the ancient overland trade routes of the ancient silk road. China’s Muslim population is about 80 million with significant hubs in cities such as Xián and Beijing.

To the West from Xinjiang, China is connected to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, all Muslim countries. Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjang, is a major Central Asian hub and reaches out via road, rail and air to many Central Asian destinations.

Pakistan’s Export Manufacturing Potential  

What this means for Pakistan – world renowned traders extraordinaire – is that the Belt and Road build in their own country can be used to service the business and human footfall needs now being created in hubs across the country, as well as vastly improved trade interconnectivity with similar cultures and values throughout China and Central Asia.

Pakistan’s south coast Ports also offer shipping access and trade to Southeast Asia including the Muslim countries of Malaysia and Indonesia – offering a combined market of 300 million people. Then there are India’s Muslims – another 172 million. The opportunities for Pakistan’s business export sector to grow and develop are immense.

This is important as Pakistan currently has a growing current account deficit. This is driven by a widening trade gap as import growth outstrips export expansion and could draw down reserves and dampen GDP growth in the medium term. That said, Pakistan is currently undergoing a process of economic liberalization including privatization of all government corporations, being aimed to attract FDI and decrease the budget deficit. Pakistan is generally regarded as one of the ten emerging global economies with a particular focus on its manufacturing hub.

The economy of Pakistan is the 23rd largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), while the country has a significant population of 220 million, and is expected, along with the BRICS nations to be among the world’s largest economies in the 21st century. Clearly, China has been investing in a friendly, emerging and significant economy. So too notably have expatriate Pakistani’s based in the UK and United States, as well as investments coming in from the UAE and Turkey. Investments from the West and mature Asian economies have tended to be big-ticket and restricted to MNC’s – while the CPEC builds, when completed, offer more opportunities for SME’s and medium sized investors as well as the big players.

Islamic Financing

Asian regional hubs have seen what is happening and have begun offering Islamic finance services as part of their portfolio. Hong Kong has been placing Sukuk (Islamic bonds) to raise capital for several years now, some into the billions of dollars. HSBS and Standard Chartered are often utilized as global advisers, with banks such as Malaysia’s CIMB and Abu Dhabi’s National Bank involved in Islamic countries. Singapore has had less success, with DBS closing its Islamic Bank of Asia in 2015 and folding Islamic finance facilities into core operations. Nonetheless, facilities are available in Hong Kong and the regional Muslim economies in Asia.

The major projects China has helped finance and build in Pakistan that would be of interest to Islamic and global financiers and businessmen are as follows:

Pakistan’s Gwadar Port (گوادر بندرگاه) is the deepest sea port in the world, and is under the administrative control of the Maritime Secretary of Pakistan and the operational control of the China Overseas Port Holding Company.  The port is a link between the Belt & Road Initiative and the Maritime Silk Road.

It includes the Gwadar Special Economic Zone currently being built on a 2,292 acre site adjacent to the Port.

The Gwadar SEZ will include manufacturing zones, logistics hubs, warehouses, and display centres and is modelled on the successful Chinese SEZ model which launched cities such as Shenzhen into global recognizance and shipping importance. Business established in the special economic zone will be exempt from Pakistani income, sales, and federal excise taxes for 23 years, while a 40-year tax holiday will be granted for imports of equipment, materials, plants, machinery, appliances and accessories that are to be for construction of Gwadar Port and SEZ.

The SEZ is being completed in three phases. Manufacturing and processing industries should start to be operational by 2025, while further expansion of the zone is intended to be complete by 2030. While the Chinese are building the Gwadar infrastructure, it should be noted that opportunities exist both for foreign investors within the SEZ and especially those who wish to target either the Pakistani domestic market or for reexport manufacturing to take advantage of the lower operational costs.

The good news for manufacturing in Gwadar to sell onto the domestic market are the tax incentives and low worker costs, coupled by the growth of the Pakistani consumer market, which although volatile, and has been impacted by Covid-19, has also been on an upwards trend. Estimates now suggest that Pakistan’s middle class has reached about 16 million. That may be small beer to many, but it is expected to grow, and now would be a good time to develop brands in a total market size of 220 million.

Gwadar SEZ is useful and extremely valuable to investors as component parts will be able to enter the zone duty free, with import duty not payable unless goods enter the domestic market. VAT breaks and refunds are also available to businesses setting up shop there. The fact that English, that global language of commerce, is widely spoken is another ”ease of doing business” advantage. That has been noted, the World Bank stating earlier this year that ‘‘due to a concerted improvement in business regulation, Pakistan climbed 28 places and rose to a rank of 108 in the global ease of doing business rankings in 2020″.

The same economic drivers suggest Gwadar will become an important Asian SEZ and ideal for export manufacturers. Under Chinese and Pakistani management, security will be tight, and the incentives make it attractive.

The other aspect to Gwadar that local Pakistani and their overseas counterparts overseas can make an investment case for are the facilities outside the SEZ and Port. These include business and human services to support these facilities, as well as property investments – they can be expected to significantly increase in the immediate Gwadar area. That is exactly what has happened in Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port City – another BRI project whose time has come. Investors both local and international are putting money into the surrounding area. Profits are being made, and the same will happen at Gwadar.

Gilgit SEZ – Access To China & Central Asia  

The Moqpondass Gilgit SEZ is a priority development under CPEC in Gilgit in Pakistan’s northern Baltistan Province. It borders Afghanistan to the north, China to the northeast, and the Pakistani administrated state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to the south. It covers an area of about 750 acres. Construction work has begun.

The area is naturally rich in precious stones, ore and fruits. The proposed SEZ would be connected with Gilgit Airport, about 30km distant and also scheduled for upgrades as well as being on the route to Sost, the last Pakistani border town to China. It is also connected to the important trade and supply route through to Skardu to the east, itself a Gateway to the Karakorum Mountain range. The town is located on the Indus river, which separates the Karakoram Range from the Himalayas.

The SEZ is being designed for processing marble and granite, iron ore, steel, (to be used in later regional construction projects) other minerals as well as fruit processing and added value such as packaging and so on.

The SEZ is significant as Gilgit has suffered from Taliban attacks in the past and was heavily infested with weapons as a result. There has been a mass cleanup, while the SEZ is intended to give inhabitants the ability to turn their time back towards trade and production and towards relative wealth in what is a naturally productive region. With the China border so close, it is an excellent opportunity. China also wishes to secure the region as train routes and major highways can then pass through to Xinjiang Province.

Securing regional trade and developing wealth creation opportunities in Central Asia and Northern Pakistan is important for Beijing as it, like Pakistan, seeks to deal with the worst aspects of Islamic fundamentalism.

Additional incentives may also come to the region as the Pakistan Government is considering declaring Gilgit-Baltistan as a Province, giving it more funding and a greater status within the country. That would upset India, pre-occupied with a military standoff with China in nearby Ladakh. That said, despite complaints, India is unlikely to interfere. However it would be good news for Gilgit and help advance regional trade, commerce and security. The opening of the Gilgit SEZ would probably coincide with news confirming Provincial status, expected to be ‘soon’. State funds can then be expected to be freed up to further develop the area. Investors can take advantage, as always occurs when following State encouraged funding.

The Karachi to Peshawar Railway

The Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line (کراچی–پشاور مرکزی ریل راستہ) is one of four main railway lines in Pakistan, being operated and maintained by Pakistan Railways. The line begins from Karachi City Station and ends at Peshawar Cantonment Station, with a total length of 1,687 km. It passes 184 railway stations and serves as the main passenger and freight line of the country. 75% of the country’s cargo and passenger traffic uses this route. It is currently undergoing a US$5.4 billion upgrade and renovation as part of CPEC with average rail speeds expected be doubled to 160 kilometers per hour upon completion.

Greater Peshawar Mass Transit System 

The Peshawar Circular Railway (پشاور مداری ریلوے ) Project is an inter-regional commuter rail system for the Greater Peshawar metropolitan area which will connect several industrial and commercial districts within Peshawar to the outlying suburbs and cities of Jamrud, Charsadda, Mardan, Nowshera and later, to Swabi. In August 2016, the regional Government agreed to a US$1.6 billion MoU with the China Communications and Construction Company (CCCC). This railway is expected to resolve transportation problems in the Peshawar region and generate jobs leading to the overall economic revival of the province. It will impact 11 million people in the Peshawar Valley. To the West lies the Khyber Pass to Afghanistan, it is hoped that the proximity will further settle tribal areas and better influence regional trade on a broader scale.

The Karachi-Peshawar Motorway 

The Karachi – Peshawar Motorway is a construction and development of a six lane, access controlled highway of 1,100 km. It is a tolled facility, and originates in Karachi through Motorway M-9 (136 km) to Hyderabad. From Hyderabad onwards, it comprises new build for 345 km to Sukkur, then from Sukkur to Multan follows the left bank of the River Indus for 392 km.

It opened at the end of last year, and is intended to allow speeds of up to 120 kmh. It is Pakistan’s first bi-directional six-lane motorway with an intelligent (smart) transportation function. It cost US$2.9 billion to build and took 36 months. There are 100 bridges, 468 underpasses, 991 culverts, 11 interchanges, six pairs of service areas, five pairs of rest areas, and 24 toll stations. The motorway was divided into seven sections for simultaneous construction. The project was undertaken by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC).

Multan and Sukkur are important cities in Pakistan, and they are now connected by the motorway. Multan is a major area for producing mangoes, dates and other crops, while Sukkur is an important transport hub. The motorway reduces the commuter time between the two cities from 11 hours to less than four hours, thus expediting travel between China and Pakistan.

These are just a handful of the Belt & Road projects that China has invested in Pakistan that are about to come to fruition; there are many more in terms of Special Economic Zones, road, rail and other infrastructure facilities that are being built and that will project Pakistan into an Asian manufacturing hub during this decade. This is further enhanced with China in particular as Pakistan has a Free Trade Agreement with China. Pakistan is also a member of SAFTA, a free trade bloc that also includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.   All countries completed the respective Trade Liberalization Program (TLP) under the Phase I and II of SAFTA, meaning that tariffs fell to 0-5 percent on all traded products other than those in the respective ”sensitive” lists. Although there has been some horseplay over what are and are not legitimate ‘sensitive’ products, a further 100 items are due to be exempted from tariffs in 2020. Read full article →

(We regularly include Chris Devonshire-Ellis’ articles partly because he lives in the port of Hambantota–and because he regularly visits Eurasia’s flyover countries.)

Analysis: Political Consciousness – Frans Vandenbosch 方腾波 18.10.2020

Consciousness is defined as the quality or state of being aware, especially of something within oneself. Political consciousness is then the personal awareness or concern for some social or political cause. For certain philosophers, all consciousness is political because in their view, it always is the outcome of politic-economic circumstances, a product of ideological influences. That looks close to the reality, but it is far from complete. Today in 2020 the picture is much more complex.

Four steps to full political consciousness

Without any doubt, most people either straightforward deny or are unaware of the entire economic, political, media and internet influence. With a lot of effort and a strong analytic mind it is nevertheless possible to escape that external influence. Not right away; that process takes time and effort. These are the four steps in the process. Everyone, whether they like it or not, has to go through these four stages:

The honeymoon

This is even for well educated people raised in a political active family, the first step. It is an inevitable stepping stone to a more correct political consciousness. Because of the heavy social pressure and the daily brainwashing by the mainstream media, many, if not most people never escape this first stage.

Ambiguity and doubt; the second step.

After being confronted with the contradictions between the mainstream media story and reality, a form of uncertainty slowly arises. Last week, a friend wrote me in an email: “I can’t believe they’re all lying”. Indeed, they’re all lying. I have not taken the effort to explain him the details; he wouldn’t accept my explanation anyway. Much, if not all what people read in the western mainstream media is pure propaganda. It is meeting all of the 10 features of propaganda as defined by Edward Bernays and his followers.

Awareness, apprehension; the third stage. 

Cracks appear in the image. People are getting aware that most mainstream media do not present real news but only a pre-made fairy-tale. They despise some or all of the western mainstream media and look for alternative media. They scold the media and politicians but are not yet ready to look for the root causes of the decline of democracy, the economy and freedom of speech.

Full political consciousness; the final stage. 

The nirvana of political consciousness. People no longer consume western mainstream media. They have strong indications of the root causes of the decline of their freedom. But they’re also fully aware of Confucius’ “Real wisdom is to know that one can’t know everything”.

Global political consciousness 

It is, as Mark Twain so vividly put it, not just useful but of the utmost importance to travel to other countries. To speak with the local people in their own native language:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

One of the reasons for the bias within the Anglo-Saxon population is the lingua franca status of their language. They do not feel the same incentive as others to try to speak the native language of their interlocutor. It is only with a deep understanding of the social and economic situation in other countries that political consciousness has a fertile soil to grow.

In this regard, it is remarkable that most Chinese people have a higher political consciousness than Westerners.  There are four main causes for the stronger Chinese awareness. In brief: the Chinese 10 points higher IQ, the Chinese education system based on STEM directions and analytical thinking, the harsh meritocratic selection process and the Western degrading but Chinese increasing Flynn effect.

And even more remarkable is that in general, sociologists are less politically aware than STEM graduates. At first sight this may seem contradictory, but on closer inspection it is very logical. Sociologists are believers, they absorb a way of thinking and pass it on to their audience in a convincing way. STEM graduates, on the other hand, look at things in an analytical way, measure and test, and don’t make a decision until they’ve reviewed enough parameters.

Aldous Huxley, fully aware of Bernays’ work two decennia before him, wrote on 21.10.1949 in a letter to his former student George Orwell, author of ‘1984’: “Within the next generation I believe that the world’s leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narcohypnotic are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience”

Frans Vandenbosch, Chinese name 方腾波, is a Fleming who lived in China for years where he supported companies in the automotive, medical, electronics and plastics processing sectors. He is cofounder and senior consultant at the International Institute on Governance and Strategy (IIGS) in Beijing and the author of Statecraft and Society in China about grassroots politics in China.


This represents but a fraction of what is included in the Here Comes China newsletter.  If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here

Pakistan’s Imran Khan Denounces France’s Macron for Encouraging Islamophobia

Source

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has lambasted French President Emmanuel Macron for promoting Islamophobia by “attacking Islam,” after the latter criticized Islam and defended the publication of defamatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

Khan’s comment on Sunday follows controversial remarks the French president made last week after an 18-year-old assailant, identified as Abdullakh Anzorov, beheaded history French teacher Samuel Paty outside his school in a Paris suburb.

Paty had raised controversy and provoked anger over showing the defamatory cartoons. The assailant was shot dead by the police soon after the killing.           

Macron had said about his fighting against “Islamist separatism,” which according to him threatens to take control in some Muslim communities around France. He also said that Paty was decapitated because “Islamists” wanted “our future.”

The Pakistani premier, in a number of tweets, said on Sunday that “This is a time when Pres Macron could have put healing touch & denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarization & marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization.”

“It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists,” Khan further said.

Earlier this month, Macron also angered Muslims around the world when he said that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world.”

“By attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, President Macron has attacked & hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe & across the world,” Khan further said.

A number of Muslim countries have so far called for a boycott of French goods over Macron’s controversial remarks.

Erdogan renews call for Macron’s mental checks

Separately on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again said that his French counterpart should undergo mental checks, accusing him of being “obsessed with Erdogan day and night.”

The French president “is a case and therefore he really needs to have (mental) checks,” the Turkish leader further said.

Erdogan comments came just a day after he said Macron “needs treatment on a mental level,” in response to what the French president had said about Islam.

The Turkish president’s comments angered Paris, which called his remarks “unacceptable”, prompting it to recall its ambassador to Turkey.

Separately, Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, tweeted that “offensive caricatures” of prophet Muhammed were being used to intimidate Muslims in Europe under the guise of freedom of expression.

“The dog whistle politics of offensive caricatures, accusations of separatism against Muslims, and mosque raids isn’t about freedom of expression,” he further said.

“It’s about intimidating and reminding Muslims that they are welcome to keep the European economy going, but they will never belong — against the backdrop of lectures about integration,” Altun added.

Turkey urges “hatred” against France: French PM

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday said that Turkey was purportedly “trying to whip up hatred” against France, continuing a war of words between the two NATO allies over Macron’s comments about Islam.

The French premier denounced the alleged “insults” against Macron, slamming them as “unacceptable conduct” from an ally, whose “hateful, slanderous propaganda against France” revealed a desire to “whip up hate against us and in our midst.”

Erdogan says Macron has a “problem” with Islam and Muslims for his controversial and provocative defense of the right to show insulting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed.

Press TV

Related

Macron Opens Floodgates for Muslim Backlash as He Insists on Insults

Macron Opens Floodgates for Muslim Backlash as He Insists on Insults

By Staff, Agencies

Numerous Muslim states and peoples denounced French President Emanuel Macron’s persisting support for blasphemy in his country against Prophet Muhammad [PBUH].

“We will not give in, ever,” Macron tweeted on Sunday. The tweet served to back up his earlier support for a French teacher’s displaying of cartoons insulting of the Prophet of Islam in his class under the pretext of “freedom of speech.”

“France will never renounce caricatures,” Macron had declared on Wednesday, defending the teacher for “promoting freedom.”

The teacher Samuel Paty was murdered by an 18-year-old Chechen assailant. Commenting on the attack, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide, trying to suggest that the assailant had been motivated to kill the teacher by the faith rather than radicalism.

The comments have raised controversy and provoked a wave of criticism from the Muslim world.

On Sunday, the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] described Macron’s position as “irresponsible,” and said it was aimed at spreading a culture of hatred among peoples.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had called on Macron to have his mental status examined for defending blasphemy, repeated the call on Sunday. Macron “is a case and therefore he really needs to have [mental] checks,” Erdogan said.

In a statement, Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry warned that attempts at linking Islam to terrorism “represents a falsification of reality, insults the teachings of Islam, and offends the feelings of Muslims around the world.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also hit out at Macron for “attacking Islam clearly without having any understanding of it.”

Khan urged Macron to rather address the marginalization and polarization that is being committed against minorities in France that “inevitably leads to radicalization.”

Jordan’s Islamic Affairs Minister Mohammed al-Khalayleh said “insulting” prophets is “not an issue of personal freedom but a crime…,” and Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said continuing publication of such “offensive” is an act of provocation.

Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements, Hamas and Hezbollah have also condemned Macron’s position.

Protests were, meanwhile, reported in the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Libya as well as elsewhere throughout the Muslim world.

Many Muslim companies and associations, meanwhile, have stopped handling or serving French items in protest.

Hashtags such as the #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #ExceptGodsMessenger trended across many countries, including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

The French Foreign Ministry, however, reacted angrily to the bans. “The calls for a boycott are groundless and must be stopped immediately, like all attacks against our country committed by a radical minority,” it alleged, trying to associate the protests with “radicalism.”

Related

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.

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