Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sixty Years On ...

What Are We

India, China and Pakistan are nuclear powers, all. Between our three countries, lives half of humanity. The poorest half of humanity. At one time the richest half of humanity.

Our three countries are blessed with adequate natural resources - and between us three, we will hardly need anyone else in the world. The rest of the world cannot say that about itself - or for us. Remember, the world still ‘orients’ itself.

Between us we are three, of the seven nuclear powers of the world.

Position In The Global Economy

Between our three countries, we have a foreign exchange currency reserve of more than US$2.5 trillion - equal to the one third the global forex reserves. Each year, we subsidize the West to the tune of US$250 billion in currency depreciation. It is this subsidy that enables the West to continue exploiting us. Between our three countries, we have one third of the world’s old reserves.

The subsidy by the three of us to the West increases, when we use the PPP matrix. Based on PPP, Western currencies are overvalued by 30%-50%. Combine the fact, that the current system allows the West to maintain no foreign exchange reserves and to use their own over valued currencies for trade, means that they pay us a lot less - and we pay them a lot more.

Prove To The World

Sixty years earlier, 80% of the world’s poorest lived in our countries . For many decades now, peoples in our country have been patient in their suffering. T

here has been progress. These poorest of the world, living in our countries, deserve a better deal. A much better deal.

They deserve peace, security, progress. We have 5000 years of history to show that we can do it. We have done it many times before. We can do it again. That is all our poorest ask and need. History shows that our three countries have accounted for 50%-65% of the world’s economic output. In my mind these are conservative figures.

I am sure that if our three countries can work together, like they have in the past, we will be able to account for more than 50% of the world’s economic output. History shows that when we three live in peace, there is peace in the world. When there is war, in our countries, the whole world is at war. Peace in our countries will usher peace in the world.

What Have We Achieved

60 years on, there is nothing to show for these border disputes. Dutifully, the Indians, Pakistanis and the Chinese glare at each other - over colonial border issues. These border issues are less than peripheral to our nations. We have allowed the past to hold our future as a hostage.

The past is extracting a ransom that we cannot afford to pay. Let us recognize our past for what it is - empty ballast that is dragging us down. Having achieved nothing on this front for the last 60 years, why do we wish to continue down that path? We need to see that going downhill is always easier than climbing the Himalayas.

The Detritus

As various colonial powers were forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries.

Vietnam suffered from a prolonged war (1956-1976) - and finally peace had a chance after 20 years of war. Korea remains divided. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict (1935 onwards) will soon enter its 75th year. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis. The many other issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony of the Western gift to the modern world.

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue. Similarly, between China and India, the border issues remain 60 years after the eviction of Britain from India.

We Hereby Resolve

Let us decide that for the next 60 years, these legacy border issues will remain in cold storage! There are far more pressing issues that need our attention. Let us focus on those issues. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Indian ‘Hacker’ Shakes Crimeworld

The Incident

“A Sunday Herald investigation has discovered that late on Thursday night, a previously unknown Indian hacker successfully breached the IT defences of the Best Western Hotel group’s online booking system and sold details of how to access it through an underground network operated by the Russian mafia.” reported The Sunday Herald from Scotland.

The venerable Scottish newspaper, went on to quote a security expert, Jacques Erasmus, an ex-hacker who now works for the computer security firm Prevx. Erasmus declared, “The Russian gangs who specialise in this kind of work will have been exploiting the information from the moment it became available late on Thursday night. In the wrong hands, there’s enough data there to spark a major European crime wave.”

The Sunday Herald had no hesitation in saying that the “nature of internet crime makes it extremely difficult to track the precise details of the raid, the Sunday Herald understands that a hacker from India - new to the world of cyber-crime - succeeded in bypassing the system’s security software.”

Indian Media

India’s premier business newspaper The Economic Times featured this story prominently in their print edition. The Times of India, which says it the largest English newspaper, dutifully carried this IANS report. The challenger to Times Of India, DNA also carried this report. Looking at these reports just a little deeper, and the source of all these reports is a IANS (India Abroad News Service) report.

Indian bloggers went to town with this story. Piyush Sood wrote about this story. As did, Battakiran.

Foreign Media

Washington Post had nothing to say on this. Similarly, a search on New York Times site turned up empty. All quiet on the The Wall Street Journal site. A search using turned up many Indian newspapers with this news report.

Hot Hardware site did question this report with some balance. Another blogger, Limau Orange, was another who questioned this report.

The Rebuttal

David Clarke, CEO, of Best Western whose data was purportedly stolen, immediately, responded, “After a detailed investigation we can confirm that on 21st August a single hotel in Germany was compromised by a virus. The compromise permitted access to reservations data for that property only. This has affected only ten customers who we are currently being contacted to offer our assistance, none of these were GB customers. There is no evidence of any unauthorized access to any other customer data.”

Unanswered Questions

Not one Indian newspaper, published (later or then) any questions or rebuttal of this pathetic story. What got me wondering was the motivation of this story? How did this story land up in IANS agency? Where did the ‘original’ writer, Mons. Iain S Bruce, get to know that an Indian was behind this ‘heist.’ Who was behind this ‘leak’ to Bro.Iain S Bruce? What are the ’sources’ of Shri Iain S Bruce?

I am waiting.

In the meantime, I believe that this was a dry run - of some some stupid theory! Which got proved. Shame on you, Indian media.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Rise Of Modern Corporations

The Church As A Midwife

The most important legacy of the Church is the corporation. Much like the Holy Roman Church, built its organization, (on a heap of blood, bones and gold), Western Europe used the same organization corporate structures to create business corporations. The Eastern Church operating out of Constantinople did not quite have the structures and the ‘at any cost’ attitude of the Holy Roman Church.

Spain’s colonialism was built upon individual licensees of the Spanish Emperor - who was in turn a licensee of the Church; vide the various Papal Bulls. The main challenger to Spain’s hegemony was England - which set up the East India Company. The setting up of the East India Company was against the Holy Roman Church diktats - which finally (amongst other reasons) brought about the rise of Protestantism.

The Business Model Of Corporates

The continued use of corporations, especially the Anglo Saxon Bloc - and the West in general, has changed the economic landscape of the world.

The continued use of corporations, especially the Anglo Saxon Bloc - and the West in general, has changed the economic landscape of the world. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, companies could be formed by applying for a charter - which were given, sometimes with express conditionalities. While the associations of various types, have always been present, the use of corporations, especially in Western Europe, with limited liability and having a separate legal entity, freed businesses from all ‘human’ considerations.

These two elements, limited liability and a separate legal entity, have made these Frankensteins different from any previous association of businessmen. The legal structure of corporations allow actual owners to hide behind a legal facade, without liability. For Western Governments, corporations became a useful political and economic tool, an objective-oriented organization, with a self destruct feature. Western Governments created elaborate systems to create support structures for these corporations.

The Use Of Fiat Currency

These corporations have access to large amounts of fiat currency. Old debts are repaid by taking new debts. Competition is killed by raising entry barriers - which is again done by accessing huge amounts of debt. Some of this debt is irredeemable - and called equity. By giving an illusion of ownership, further amounts of money are raised from the populace.

Currency management systems (e.g. Bretton Woods systems) further strengthened corporations’ capability to raise ‘funny money’. The expansion of electronic trading systems further eased access to humongous amounts of money. Each day, more than US$ 5 trillion of trades in shares commodities, derivatives-options-futures contracts, et al are done.

The Faceless Entity

Thousands of people are employed in these large corporations - and the operation is divided into many small parts. Few individuals have the entire picture - and the rest implement the ‘grand design’. This is especially useful when it comes to challenging competitors. Ethical issues are rarely seen - as very few havethe complete picture.

By the time ethical concerns are flaged, these corporations are able to change the ground situation. Witness the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives! It is this ability to evade ethical practices and issues that differentiates these corporations from other business enterprises. From the massacre of millions of Indians during the 1857 War (by the East India Company), the many regime changes that corporations have pushed, the record of these organizations has been far from average.

Environment Maagement

By various methods of bribery (lobbying, creation of special interest groups, NGOs, think tank groups), media management, public and Government opinion is managed. Prominent personalities (nephew of Sigmund Freud) in case of the Chiquita, , the Nobel Prize winners at the LTC are but a few of these cases. LTC, promoted by Western media as another piece of Western financial innovation, with 25 Ph.Ds and 2 Nobel prize winners flamed out. The involvement of the Federal Reserve Board, under Chairman Alan Greenspan, in the LTC bailout, raised more questions and answered none.

Corporations learnt propaganda methods from politics. For instance, the appointment of David Livingstone to prepare ground for colonisation of Africa. An analysis of slave trade comments,”David Livingstone had called for a worldwide crusade to defeat the slave trade controlled by Arabs in East Africa, that was laying waste the heart of the continent. The only way to liberate Africa, believed Livingstone, was to introduce the ‘three Cs’: commerce, Christianity and civilisation.” (italics, bold letters mine).

The important things to note were - one the trade. Control of all trade and benefits. Second, to attack trading business interests of other racial groups - like Arabs, in this case. This was important. Or the use of Max Mueller to distort, twist Indian history for colonial ends. Most recently, the demonization of Islam is another well-oiled propaganda success story.

Increasing Consumption

Each new product has a shorter life cycle - more consumers are cornered into replacements older products with newer worse products. My family's first TV worked for 10 years - till we traded it for a colour TV which worked well for another 12 years - and then we made the mistake of trading that in for the latest TV which has gone on the blink twice in the last 5 years, needing expensive repairs. Ditto for the coffee machines, printers, monitors, etc. The environmental impact of this increasing production and consumption, is in turn blamed on the poor.
Indian Cows Fart Too Much

Cattle in India started getting blamed for global warming (Indian cattle fart too much!). UN and FAO got involved in this psuedo scientific study.

10% of the earth’s population, in the developed world (largely the western world), does not adequately price or cost the ecological damage they cause, into their production.

The post facto price is borne by the rest of the world (90% of the world population). This damage is then inversely blamed on increasing population of the under-developed world!

An exquisite instance of acrobatics in inverting logic.

By the 1990’s the Green lobby, global warming, Ozone layer, environment had become an fashionable issue. Kyoto protocol negotiations began. As usual, the Western world (led by the Anglo Saxon Bloc) dumped this problem onto the developing world.

Secure a greener earth - at the cost of the poor. This time even Third World animals were not spared.

Competition Management

Most competition is finally managed by buyouts. This business is today worth more than US$1 trillion every year. Who pays the price? Consumers, public savings, ’shareholders’, financial institutions.

An interesting situation exists in the food sector - especially in the US. Giant food corporations, killed buying competition with high prices (to farmers), direct buying from farmers (at higher prices), monoclonal seeds that destroy bio-diversity. And the US consumers are not getting the lower food prices that are being promised in India.

Farmers became dependent on corporate supplies of seeds (at high prices) and corporate purchases by the same corporations (at low prices). Today, an ‘efficient’ and ‘hi-tech’ agricultural farm sector in the US needs more than US$ 7.5 billion (conservative estimates, assuredly) of subsidies to survive. The US-EPA says, “By 1997, a mere 46,000 of the two million farms in this country (America), accounted for 50% of sales of agricultural products (USDA, 1997 Census of Agriculture data)” - and gobble up most of this huge subsidy that lowers Third World agricultural prices. These lower agricultural prices devastate agriculture in Third World countries, creating man-made famines. These man-made famines, of course, gives the West a false sense of superiority. (bold letters mine).

The Indian agricultural system, with nil subsidies, working with cost disadvantages, does not have giant buying corporations and monoclonal seed stock, is holding its own against subsidized agricultural systems of the West. And paid hacks of these Western corporations are trying to tell Indian consumers and policy makers that these giant corporations will reduce the costs of food In India.

These giant corporations are aiming for entry into India - promising ‘efficiencies’ in buying (which will give consumers a better price), and higher prices for farmers (which will increase farm incomes). Of course, this will last as long as there is competition. Once, these giant corporations, fueled by huge amounts of debt and equity, drive out competition, they will lower the boom on the consumers and the farmer - like in the USA.

Raj Patel, in his book, Stuffed and Starved, demonstrates how global food corporations are behind global food habits, imbalance traditional diets, creating disease epidemics (like diabetes) - and how India needs to be careful before crafting industrial policies that encourage these global corporations to destroy Indian agriculture. A book review extracts some key points as follows,

What we think are our choices, says Patel, are really the choices of giant food production companies. Millions of farmers grow food, six billion people consume it. But in between them are a handful of corporations creating what Patel calls “an hourglass” model of food distribution. One Unilever controls more than 90% of the tea market. Six companies control 70% of the wheat trade. Meanwhile, farmers across the world are pitted against each other, trying to sell these gatekeeper companies their produce. And if you think the consumer comes out on top because of all this competition, think again.

The Political Angle

This concentration of power allows the few to subvert, arrogate, reward, punish - even kill detractors. External checks and balances are few and far in between. However, the election rigmarole gives an illusion of freedom - that the powerful and mighty can be brought down. Similarly, the free press, serves to further the illusion of freedom.

In North America, the Hudson Bay Company (Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson in French) was given a Royal Charter in 1670 by Charles II. It practically owned Canada when the Dominion of Canada was formed - and is the oldest surviving company in North America. It monopoly ended only in 1870 - a few years after the Indian Independence War of 1857.

Anglo American Oil Company (subsidiary of Standard Oil) of Iran plotted the the assassination of Iran’s Prime Minister Haj Ali Razmara and the overthrow of the Mohammed Mossadegh regime. Thereafter, it was the puppet regime of Shah Of Iran which terrorized Iran for 30 years that paved the way for return of Ayatollah Khomeini - and Iran’s regression to medieval times.New Clues to JFK’s Murder?

In 1997, the CIA de-classified papers which admitted it planned and executed the coup in Guatemala - something that was known all along. This was done to protect the interests of the United Fruit Company - which owned large tracts of agricultural land in South America, used South American labour and shipped out fruit to America. Guatemalan farmers were run out of the market.

When Guatemala proposed land reforms so that Guatemalans could prosper in Guatemala, the Government of Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown. By the way, the term Banana republics came into being from the frequent intervention of the US into South American countries - and then ridiculing these countries for instability. To obtain US Governmental intervention, the United Fruit Company engaged services of Sigmund Frued’s nephew as PR front man.

Good ole Days

The last 100 years saw the use of these companies as a means of economic dominance. ITT was used in South America for installing and removing dictators

… ITT papers published by Jack Anderson in March 1972, and in the hearings on these papers conducted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a year later. This material establishes that offers of financial aid aimed at stopping Allende were made by ITT president Harold S. Geneen to the CIA in July 1970 and to Henry Kissinger’s office in September” (Foreign Affairs; January 1974). Had Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger not responded to International Telephone & Telegraph and Pepsi-Cola by overthrowing Salvador Allende, Chile “would have found a less violent, more constitutional way out of its conundrum.” writes Stephen Kinzer in his book Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq.

To gain control of the Panama Canal Company, the operator of the Panama Canal, US engineered the secession of Panama from Colombia. With a puppet Government in place, The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty allowed the U.S. to build the Panama Canal. Subsequent interventions to advance Western oil interests in Colombia and the Canal interests in Panama have reduced Governmental authority in these countries. Drug cartels, kidnapping and ransom now control the economy of these countries.

7. Concentration Of Power - Newer methods to measure this concentarion are devised. Today the most popular methods are he Fortune 500 listing and the Forbes listing. These listings finally demonstrate that half the world’s economic output is controlled by about 25,000 individuals. Add another 25,000 politicians and bureaucrats. We have about 50,000 people managing the lives of 5 billion people. Read this with the faceless entity aspect, it becomes more worrisome.

Co-opting Detractors

For instance, dissident writers are published and ignored. Detracting academics are given sinecures are put into think tanks. Uncooperative businessmen are managed - Edison vs Tesla, Panam vs TWA.

These detractors become the contemporary version of the court jester. They are tolerated and serve the purpose of exhibiting the ‘tolerance’ and ‘freedom’ of the rulers. These detractors become the Howard Hughes, John Z. DeLorean and Preston Tucker of corporate ecologies. Preston Tucker, alleged during his trial that the Big Three were behind his gargantuan troubles. DeLorean’s book, On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors, saw General Motors attempting to restrict circulation (though DeLorean, said nothing in the book, I could see, for them too).

What Is Happening In India

Out of the 30 current Sensex stocks, which make up the Indian Benchmark Index, 15 started off as SME (small and medium enterprises) 20-30 years ago. These organizations today are lobbying (successfully) to ensure that other SMEs do not challenge and compete with these large corporations. Indian policy makers, apparently, cannot learn from successes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Big 5

Wildlife Extinction

In America, the bison in the wild has been wiped out. The South American caiman was nearly wiped out. Cougar, or otherwise called the Jaguar, is a rarity. There are no other big cats in the Americas. By the time of Julius Caesar, lions, tigers and elephants had become extinct in Rome, Greece, France.

But India is different. Apart from the Big 5, numerous other interesting wild animals yet live in India. Pythons, deer, bears, bison, eagles and vultures still have significant presence - unlike in the rest of world, Africa excepting. The two popular theories trotted out by Western theoreticians is that all these were extinction-prone species or loss of habitat to human beings. India disproves both these theories. Especially, once you take Indian population density into account. India becomes a unique country with in terms of wildlife conservation.

How come?

Big Game Hunting

Big Game hunters in Africa (from the West, where else) described 5 animals as the Big 5 - elephants, lion, buffalo, leopard and the rhino as the Big Five. These were animals that were difficult to hunt and kill (for pleasure, in case you thought otherwise).

This 'pleasure' was the operating principle. As a result of this 'pleasure', there are only two parts of the world where such Big Five exist. India and Africa. China, the Middle East and of course Europe and America, have wiped entire continents of all these animals.


Lions killed camels of Xerxes' army during his campaign against Macedonia. Many European kingdoms used the lion motif on their coins. Lions disappeared from Western Europe around the time of Julius Caeser - and in Eastern Europe by 100 AD. The last lion of modern Pakistan, died in 1842 (of course, before the concept of Pakistan was even born). Wild Asiatic lions, once roamed over forests - from India to Western Europe, were wiped out by indiscriminate hunting.

The Asiatic lion was exterminated from the Mediterranean in the 13th century, Turkey in the beginning of 19th century, Syria in the beginning of 20th century; Iraq in the First World War and Iran during the Second World War. (from Gir Forest And The Saga Of The Asiatic Lion By Sudipta Mitra).

The last place on Earth where wild lions have refuge is the Gir forest in Gujarat - in India.


India has the largest wild tiger population in the world. And it is not an accident. In 1973, a poor and hungry India, went ahead and launched Project Tiger. In 2004, there were 6000 tigers left in the world - and 3000 were in India. In the last 4 years, this has now come down to 1300-1400. Tiger conservation studies say

India still offers the best hope for the tigers’ future because it has the most tigers and a conservation infrastructure. In 1973, the Indian government initiated Project Tiger, designating protected areas and wildlife corridors. This led to a dramatic recovery – their numbers nearly tripled by the 1990s. But that commitment faltered, and the population collapsed again. (from Tiger, tiger, burning out, report by Vinod Thomas, in Los Angeles Times, dated September 27, 2007).

The big drop in tiger population in India was due to poaching. Poaching due to demand from China - in Chinese medicine. The Chinese think there are no alternatives - and that tiger parts can cure them from various diseases. To meet this demand, China wants to reopen tiger-parts trade. Will they legalize this trade after the tiger farms stabilize or clamp down on the trade after the tigers become extinct?


Elephants once roamed across China, the Mediterranean, the whole of West Asia and Africa. By 850 BC, West Asian elephants were extinct. By 300 BC, elephants in China had become rare.

India has the largest elephant population - outside Africa. An Indian deity, Ganesha, is half man and half elephant. Airavata, the mount of Indra (and Lakshmi) is considered auspicious all over Indic Asia - and was a gift to the gods during churning of the Ksheersagar (The Milky Sea) for nectar. Indus Valley seals of 4000 years show domesticated elephants. India was the first country - and also the longest to use elephants in peace and war.


Again, outside, Africa, India has the largest Rhino population in the world. The biggest threat to rhinos in India is the use of rhino horn in Chinese concoctions to cure impotence and increase libido. Interestingly, the rhino finds scant mention in Indian mythology and ancient literature. At best, there are only folk tales about rhinos.

Once upon a time, Lord Krishna decided to use the rhino for battle and prohibited the use of elephants as he found that mahouts sitting atop "Haathi" were easy targets for enemy archers. Thus, a rhino was commandeered, dressed in armour and made ready for military service. But when the "Unicorn" was brought before Lord Krishna, he found that the animal was too stupid to learn and obey orders, so it was driven back to the forest - with its protective covering still on it. And that is why to this day, the rhino still have armour plating on them!

Wild Buffalo

The distant cousin of the African Buffalo is the Indian Buffalo. In Indian mythology, buffalo is the mount for Yamaraj - the God of Dharma (and Death). Less than 4000 remain in the wild. It is suspected that these 'wild' Indian buffalo may actually have bred with the domesticated buffalo.


Outside Africa, India has the largest leopard population of 14,000. The world population of leopards is estimated at 100,000. India has 80% of the Asian leopard population. Easily, the most successful of the big cats, the leopard has managed to proliferate. Spread all over India, many states in India have individual populations of more than 1000 each.

The one tragedy in India is the cheetah. There are no sightings of the cheetah in India for the past many decades. Iran has the last 200 or so of the Asian Cheetah. Africa has cheetahs in the thousands.

Behind The Success

India has managed a structured method of familiarizing the general population with the most dangerous animals. For instance, there are festivals where thousands of the King Cobra snakes are handled by common people. Thus fear is reduced - and secure human beings are more likely to live and let live.

On 2nd August, 2008, was 'gataari' amavasya as per Indian calendar. The next day was the start of the month of Shraavan. For the next one month, meat eating, traditional Hindus, avoid meat. Most see it as a religious practice. But the interesting aspect is that this co-incides with the monsoons, which triggers the mating season for many animals. Five days into Shraavan, is Nagapanchami. In some parts of India, elaborate fairs are arranged where snake charmers bring thousands of snakes - and people familiarize themselves with snakes.

Ancient Conservation Tradition

Apart from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain texts in India, Indian teachers spread the path of ahimsa across Asia.

Mahabharata has interesting insight on man-nature conflict. The Pandavas, having secured a favorable award from Dhritarashtra, in their inheritance dispute,decided to set up a new capital. The divine architect Maya was retained to build this city. The site chosen for the new capital city - a forest, Khandava.

Overcome by their hubris, the Pandavas, burnt down the entire forest - and the animals inhabiting the forest. In place of the forest came up the gleaming new city of Indraprastha.

All the kings were called to marvel at the new city. And in her pride, Draupadi mocked at Duryodhana - a guest. To avenge this mockery, Duryodhana challenged Yudhithira for a game of chess (instead of a war) - which Yudhishthira promptly lost. They lost their new city - and were sent into exile by Duryodhana. Lessons duly learnt, the Pandavas after the completion of their exile, asked for five villages. After winning the War Of Mahabharat, they ruled from the ancient capital of Hastinapur. No more gleaming cities for them.

The Buddhist teacher, Mani, condemned hunting - whose teachings, Manicheanism, were declared as heresy, by the Roman Church. Buddha, as the report went, brought a wild, rampaging elephant, Nalagiri, under his spell - and under control. Nearly, 1000 years later, in China, "... a Daoist hermit of the fourth century had made a tiger his servant, and a century later a Buddhist monk "converted" a man-eating tiger ..."

Concurrent Conservation Themes

India, in 1970s, still had a waiting period for Bajaj Scooters. Maruti cars had not been introduced. The Oil shock had hit India badly. Bombay High was yet to start production. Colour TV sets were not known and colour TV transmission started a few years later. TV transmission and content a public sector monopoly. Computers in India were rare and far in between - and IBM controlled the industry. Private sector, as we knew it was non-existent. Licenses were required for everything. Foreign exchange situation was precarious. Hence, for a poor country to launch the Project Tiger was unprecedented.

In October 1998, nearly eight Indian film stars were accused of poaching. This entire prosecution incident was initiated by the Bishnoi community. The Bishnois have a long tradition of conservation activity. The Bishnois were at the forefront similarly in the prosecution of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, accused of poaching.

It is this respect for life that is the secret behind India's success with wild life. But India, the West feels, needs some lessons and tutoring (from the West) in being green and environment friendly.

George Bush 'Thinks' Otherwise

“We can’t have an effective agreement unless China and India are a part of it. It’s as simple as that. I’m going to remind our partners that’s the case.” as India and China are now contributing to significant pollution says George Bush. Another news report confirms that Bush

"denied special environmental exemptions for China and India since they "are emitting increasingly large quantities of greenhouse gases, which has consequences for the entire global climate". Psychologist Sam Keen observed famously about the end of the Cold War that "we [Americans] were getting desperate in our search for a new enemy ... and the shift of emphasis to China and India as the new "hit me" toys in Washington is a surface-level manifestation of the realization in American strategic circles that the new competitors ... come from Asia." (ellipsis mine).

Cattle in India started getting blamed for global warming (Indian cattle fart too much!). UN and FAO got involved in this psuedo scientific study.

10% of the earth’s population, in the developed world (largely the western world), does not adequately price or cost the ecological damage they cause, into their production.

The post facto price is borne by the rest of the world (90% of the world population). This damage is then inversely blamed on increasing population of the under-developed world!

An exquisite instance of acrobatics in inverting logic.

By the 1990’s the Green lobby, global warming, Ozone layer, environment had become an fashionable issue. Kyoto protocol negotiations began. As usual, the Western world (led by the Anglo Saxon Bloc) dumped this problem onto the developing world.

Secure a greener earth - at the cost of the poor. This time even Third World animals were not spared.

The Best Of The Rest

One Western 'artist', Damien Hirst, makes art from killing butterflies, cows - and other such animals. What kind of art is this?

Two Czech scientists were arrested in Darjeeling recently - accused by the Indian authorities, of smuggling butterflies. The Czechs claim they were scientists. Indian authorities claim that the hundreds of samples that they were collecting are part of an illegal trade ring.

The role of traditional Chinese Medicine in extinction of wildlife is well known. The Chinese think that civet cats have to be eaten (till they are available), tigers flesh and bones can cure them of impotency (and what will they do after tigers are extinct?). Of course, Rhino horn and the bile juice of wild bears are essential! What will the Chinese do after these animals become extinct in the next few decades? Japanese resistance to a ban on whaling is symptomatic of a similar insensitivity to other forms of life.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Indo Pak Relations - What Will It Take

The Detritus

As Britain (and the West) was forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The many issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony to the British gift to the modern world. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis.

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue.

A Precedent

Till the 1983, world cricket was run by the UK and Australia. These countries, of course, had veto power, had the funding, to control the game. In 1983, however, Britain and Australia hit a financial roadblock - the 1987 World Cup sponsorship. They did not have a sponsor in place for the 1987 World Cup. And then India stepped in. India roped in Dhirubhai Ambani for the sponsorship. India roped in Pakistan to put in a joint bid for the 1987 World Cup.

What was Special

This was, simply, without a precedent. For three reasons.

First, this was a unique case, where rich and developed countries could not find a sponsor for a sporting event, which they dominated. And a poor country could.

India, in 1987, still had a waiting period for Bajaj Scooters. Maruti cars had just been introduced. Colour TV sets were rare and colour TV transmission had started a few years old - and a luxury. Competitive bidding for TV rights was not possible - and could be sold only to a public sector TV transmission monopoly. Computers in India were rare and far in between. Private sector as we knew it was non-existent. Licenses were required for everything. Foreign exchange situation was precarious. Hence, for a poor country to bid for a World Cup was unprecedented.

The second major challenge was the organization. Indian bureaucracy was then (much more than now) a minefield. Myriad laws made any kind of complicated organization a nightmare. Private sector was seen with suspicion. Indian films still portrayed businessmen as villains. Indian software industry was nowhere in sight. India did not have even one (private sector) company in the Fortune 500 list. To say the least, it was audacious, at a time when India dominated by stereotypes (more then than now).

But the third element that has remained unrecognized was the working of the India Pakistan partnership. The World Cup bid was a joint bid (1985) by India and Pakistan. No one would have bet that India Pakistan could have worked together. But together they did. And successfully. This Indo-Pak relationship has now survived for more than 20 years.

What Changed

India and Pakistan, went ahead and moved cricketing headquarters from UK to Dubai. Unlike Bro.Manmohan Singh at the high table, BCCI and Pakistan just took away the veto powers of UK and Australia over cricketing matters. In spite of best efforts of 'divide-and-rule' by the ECB (UK's cricketing authority) and Cricket Australia. UK, in a case of sour grapes, went ahead and stopped its players from participating in the Indian Premier League. Australia broke ranks, and participated. South Africa started with its first official post-apartheid series in India - the post-apartheid 'coming out' party.

In the UK and Australia, this loss of power rankles.

Use The Experts

This India Pakistan Cricketing relationship is very healthy - and has been managed by four people. Of course, there has been no case study, or a book or even a news report on this partnership.

The four people in this complex relationship have been Jagmohan Dalmiya and Shahriyar Khan at the administration level. Between these two, they have managed a consensus between the Asian cricketing countries. Jagmohan Dalmiya has a business background - and a career in cricket administration. Shahriyar Khan is a career diplomat and also a cricket administrator.

The other two are Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan - two well known and respected players in each of the countries. Between, these four, they have managed this complex cricketing relationship. Some of it is visible - but mostly, below the line. Especially, significant is the management of agreements. Recently, Asif Ali Zardari dismissed written agreements with his coalition partners, PML (N) headed by Nawaz Sharf, claiming agreements were not”holy like the holy Koran.”

The Learning

Now, if these four can overcome the complex political situation and the minefield of history, is there a learning for others? Especially, for those who manage the India-Pakistan political relationship.

Hidden in this cricketing relationship, is the solution to the sub-continental peace.

Post Script

This lesson seems to be dawning. Seven months after this post, a leading Indian newspaper carried an article on how Asian cricket needs to continue on the India Pakistan axis, which has been so successful in the last two decades. It points out how when cricket Indian administrators like

"I S Bindra ... suggested that India is capable of hosting the 2011 World Cup on its own ... (they) have sacrificed the much-used paradigm of subcontinental unity, which has seen India and its neighbours dominate international cricket politics for almost a decade." It furthers links how " it is inevitable that the West, rocked by the Stanford disaster recently, will try and regain composure and mount a counter-attack. Statements like English players may not be released for the IPL by the English Cricket Board and Tim May's urging that a thorough security assessment is necessary to convince international cricketers to consider playing in IPL are evidence that such an offensive has already begun."(ellipsis and bold text mine).

It is time that the Indian Foreign Service establishment took this learning - and start running.

Come June 2009, Shahriyar Khan (mentioned and pictured above) alongwith Shashi Tharoor came out with a book on Sub-continental cricket. Indian media, since it was not led by the nose, have this book cursory coverage.

Shashi Tharoor and Shahryar Khan in Shadows Across the Playing Field tries to provide answers by analysing 60 years of this intense cricketing rivalry, one, which has, on occasions superseded the intensity of the Ashes. (via something to hope for, and look forward to).