Posts Tagged 'gurumurthy'

Are they just ‘useful idiots’? – S Gurumurthy

Are they just ‘useful idiots’?

S Gurumurthy

21 Jul 2011

See this list of seculars and liberals. Justice Rajinder Sachar, author of the famous Sachar Committee Report on the state of Indian Muslims; Dileep Padgaonkar, one of the three interlocutors on J&K appointed by the central government; Harish Khare, the media adviser to the prime minister; Rita Manchanda, the India/Pakistan Local Partner for Women Waging Peace; Ved Bhasin, editor, Kashmir Times; Harinder Baweja, editor (investigations), Headlines Today; Gautam Navlakha and Kamal Chenoy, human rights activists, and; Praful Bidwai, well-known columnist. This is the illustrative list of popular Indian liberals who exert powerful influence over the Indian discourse — be it on Kashmir or secularism or on corruption or communalism or on Narendra Modi or Sonia Gandhi.

But this is not the list of probables for the Padma awards. This is the list of those who have been the guests of Ghulam Nabi Fai, who was arrested three days back by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US for acting as the front man of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The Washington Times (July 19, 2011) reported that Fai “was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents in a suspected influence-peddling scheme to funnel millions of dollars from the Pakistani government, including its military intelligence service, to US elected officials to help drive India out of the disputed Kashmir territory in South Asia”. Fai was arrested in US not for working to drive India out of Kashmir — as it is not an offence under the US law — but for the offence of funnelling ISI money to buy influence over US officials for Pakistan. Under the Indian law, the case against the Indian liberals in Fai’s list may well be one of sedition if they had known who Fai was, or if they had not, they could be well just his “useful idiots” as a former editor, R Jaganathan, wrote in his brilliant column in But are they just useful idiots or more?

The 45-page affidavit by the FBI in the case has charged Fai with “conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign principal”. Media reports that the FBI swears in its affidavit that Fai, who floated the Kashmir American Council (KAC), was a front man for Pakistani interests in US in the garb of Kashmiri’s. The reports say that Fai “took dictation from his masters” in Pakistan. The media cites the FBI affidavit to say that Fai received at least $4 million — at some $500,000 to $700,000 every year — to manipulate the Kashmir debate in favour of Pakistan. And this is important. This is where the Indian liberals listed at the opening are party to advancing the designs of Fai. They had been attending the conclaves and meets organised by Fai, at the instance of ISI, to oust India from Kashmir.

The FBI seems to have worked meticulously to link Fai to his masters in Pakistan. It appears to have got the details of some 4,000 e-mail and telephone exchanges with his handlers in Pakistan. An accomplice of Fai seems to have confessed — as a confidential witness for FBI — that Fai was a henchman of ISI. According to the confidential witness, cited by the media, the ISI “created the KAC to propagandise on behalf of the government of Pakistan”. Fai could play this role unsuspectingly because he was originally from India, being born in Kashmir, with a master’s degree from Aligarh Muslim University. After becoming an ISI agent, according to reports, he began to do what Pakistan and ISI directed him to do, namely hold conferences and seminars funded by ISI for which he was sourcing the propaganda material of the ISI. According to the report, the confidential witness seems to have confessed that, “of the statements Fai makes, 80 per cent are provided by the ISI for Fai to repeat and disseminate verbatim. The other 20 per cent of the KAC’s messaging consists of Fai’s own ideas, which have been pre-approved by the ISI”. So Fai is a hundred per cent ISI mouthpiece.

Our liberals figuring in the list participated as important speakers from India in the conventions and seminars organised by Fai, now charged by FBI as an ISI agent. According to reports, Fai, assisted in his objectives by our liberals, was so effective in hurting India’s interests, that, to counter him, the Indian government specially had to appoint Wajahat Habibullah, a Kashmir cadre IAS officer who retired last year, as minister, community affairs, in its embassy in Washington. Imagine. On the one hand, the present media adviser to the prime minister and one of the three present interlocutors of the government on J&K had worked to hurt India’s interests in the way the ISI was conspiring to do, by participating in the seminars organised by Fai and funded by ISI to “drive out India from Kashmir”; and on the other, the government of India was forced to send out an IAS officer from Kashmir cadre to contain that damage. The result is that those who, through Fai, were part of the ISI design, are now part of the UPA government.

But could Fai with his mission to push Pakistan/ISI agenda “to drive India out of Kashmir” include in his efforts such important opinion-makers of India, unless he knew that their views would advance his master’s interests? Why would Fai not call an Arun Shourie? A Cho Ramaswamy? An M J Akbar? An Arnab Goswami? It is self-evident. Their views would stall, not support, the ISI. Undoubtedly, Fai knew that the views on J&K publicly held by our liberals in Fai’s guest list would further the cause of the separatists. Now, is it easy to dismiss that they were just “useful idiots”?

PS: Two of these liberals are still in high positions — one is an interlocutor on J&K appointed by the Centre and the other is the media adviser to the PM. Mr Prime Minister, this is evidence coming, not from our police, but from the FBI in the US, the country you love most! Are you listening?

The writer is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues.


Fence is not the border

Fence is not the border
S Gurumurthy
17 May 2010 11:09:00 PM IST

Demography is destiny”, said Augustus Comte, a French philosopher of the 19th century. Demography, to use a simple definition, means the religious, cultural, or any secular, composition of a nation’s population. As the French were the first to understand the ideas of nation-state and national interest that originated in the 18th and 19th centuries, they could realise the criticality of demography to a nation-state. History testifies that shifts in ethnic or religious demography materially alter people’s identity, attitudes, nationality and even worldview.

A recent example of what religious demographic shift could do is the separation of East Timor as a Christian state from out of the Muslim-majority Indonesia, simply because 99 per cent Timorese had become Christians. A decade before, it was politically incorrect to talk of religious demography. But, after 9/11, the US-West, which had assumed the end of religion in modern secularity, woke up to the reality of religion. And once the West got alerted, true to its nature, it became serious. It has initiated a number of studies on religious demography, but under the garb of researches into ‘spiritual capital’, a more acceptable form of study into religious demography. A study supported by John Templeton Foundation defines spiritual capital as ‘the effects of spiritual and religious practices, beliefs, networks and institutions that have a measurable impact on individuals, communities and societies’. Is it anything different from religious demography?

Despite the fact India has suffered the most from demographic shifts in the past and continues to suffer even now, to interrogate secular India from the perspective of religious demography is virtually impossible. But an honest inquiry into Indian history will reveal how, in the past, religious demographic shift in any area in India has not only carved that area out of the mainland, but, the separated cousins have even turned inimical to the mother society. Pakistan that separated from India waged two direct wars with India and losing both, it has started a covert war of terror on India. Not many Indians today are conscious that Afghanistan was part of the larger India or that Khandahar was from where Khandari of Mahabharata originated. Afghanistan ruled by Buddhist kings had resisted Islamic invasion for long. See what is Afghanistan today. It is now the land of the Taliban. Viewing anything non-Islamic as un-Islamic, the Taliban have gunned down the Bamian Buddha statues which Mohammed Gaznavi and Nadir Shah had tried centuries earlier but failed. Now, Afghanistan’s geography remains the same. But the Afghans have lost their Buddhist soul in the demographic shift. The Talibanised Afghanistan no more resembles the Buddhist Afghanistan. This is the cultural shift which religious demographic shift causes.

Look at what were today’s Pakistan and Bangladesh a few hundred years ago. The Sind in Pakistan was the birthplace of the Vedas and the Puranas. Of the 52 Shakti Peetas sacred to Hindus, two are in Pakistan; seven in Bangladesh. But a huge religious demographic swing from Hindu majority to Muslim majority saw Pakistan, West and East, move out of India. In the areas that constitute Pakistan now, there was no Muslim population prior to Islamic invasion. The Muslim population was just 1/6 when Moghul emperor Jehangir (1605-’22) ruled, according to his memoirs (Tarikh-Salim-Shahi). But it was the continuing religious demographic shift that saw the Muslims become majority in many parts later. And by 1941, the Muslim population in today’s Pakistan had risen to 80 per cent; the share of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jain (ie, Indian religions), that constituted the remaining 20 per cent then, has tumbled now to just two per cent. In the areas that constitute Bangladesh today, the colonial officials themselves were stunned when, in the 1872 census, they found Muslims, not Hindus, in majority, despite the fact that even as late as the early 15th century a Hindu King, Raja Ganesh, was ruling Bengal. Jinnah could begin the movement for Partition of India only because he knew that the Muslim majority in West and East would make it a fait accompli. And it did. But, the Partition is not the end of the story.

In the year 1941, the share of Indian religious adherents constituted 34 per cent in the area that is now Bangladesh. But, by 1951, that had come down to 23 per cent and further down to 10.3 per cent in 2001. So the demographic religious shift away from Hindu majority not only divided India physically and carved away over 9.51 lakh sq km of land from the mainland but has also shown that where such shift leads to intolerance, like in Islamic Pakistan and Bangladesh, most of the adherents of Indian religions had to abandon the partitioned geography, and come to the mainland. In contrast, in India, while the share of Indian religious adherents has fallen from 87.22 per cent in 1941 to 84.22 per cent in 2001, that of Muslims has risen from 10.45 per cent to 13.43 per cent. It is not just higher fertility rate of 18.74 per cent among the Muslims (against the national average of 15.93 per cent) as compared to 15.55 per cent among the adherents of Indian religions, that is the reason for the rise. That the rise was also due to infiltration across the border from Bangladesh is the real concern.

This is noticeable in the unusual rise in Muslim population in the border or near border districts of Assam, Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The demographic invasion is manifest in the fact that in this border belt the share of the Muslim population in the country has risen by more than eight per cent since 1951, that is five per cent above the national average rise of three per cent for Muslims. In Assam alone the rise is over eight percent. Likewise in Bengal, the rise in the share of their population since 1951 is 9.5 per cent, that is 6.5 per cent over the national average rise. The border district of Murshidabad in Bengal is Muslim majority (64 per cent); two others, Maladah and Uttar Dinajpur, are nearly so. In Bihar and Jharkhand also the Muslim share of the population has risen by more than eight per cent. This demographic shift is caused by Bangladeshi invasion. A world-class work on Religious Demography of India by the Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai, has brought out these and other critical facts.

The demographic invasion by millions of Bangladeshis has pushed the national border into India along Assam, Bengal and Bihar. It is the very demographic invaders who are being smuggled into the National Register of Indian Citizens in the Census 2011, via the Population Register, to be gifted with uncontested citizenship and decorated with National Identity Cards.

QED: When will secular India realise that demography, not geography, is nation, and demography, not iron fence, is the border?

(N)PR, a fraud, anti-national venture

(N)PR, a fraud, anti-national venture

‘The population enumeration in the Census 2011 has nothing to do with the citizenship issues under the citizenship law at this stage, because the census does not involve any preparation of ‘National Population Register’ (NPR) now, but only the collection of information for the preparation of NPR later.’ This is what the Union home minister means in his statement on the Census 2011 in Parliament (May 7). The acute legalism in the minister’s statement conceals the truth and presents a fake view of the population census for the NPR, thus totally whitewashing this ongoing fraud on the nation.

Start with what is undeniably a lie, even forgery. The title ‘National Population Register’ is itself faked. Neither the Indian Citizenship Act 1955 nor the Citizenship Rules 2003 speak of any ‘National’ Population Register. The Citizenship rules talk about just ‘Population Register’. The omission of the prefix ‘National’ here is no accident. It is intentional. This is self-evident from the citizenship rules, which, in the same breath, talk of ‘National Register of Indian Citizens’ (NRIC). The use of the prefix ‘National’ there is intentional in contrast. The reason why the Population Register is not similarly prefixed with ‘National’ as in the NRIC is obvious. The lawmakers knew that the Population Register is not a record of the Indian ‘National’ Population. That is why the Citizenship law titles it as ‘Population Register’, that is, it is ‘PR’, not ‘(N)PR’. But how then did the prefix ‘National’ get forged into the PR to make it (N)PR in the minister’s statement? Will he explain?

Saying that ‘the population census is the total process of collecting demographic, economic and social data’ the minister adds, ‘the particulars in respect of the individuals are kept confidential’. He further says that ‘the particulars collected’ ‘shall be verified’ afterwards under the citizenship law, and cases of ‘doubtful citizenship’ will be dealt with appropriately. Thus, the minister implies — yet not says explicitly — that the ongoing population census is not under the citizenship law, but exclusively under the census law. But, as the analysis here unfolds, the minister’s explanation that what the Census 2011 does is just to collect data for the Population Register and that the verification of the information would take place under the citizenship law later, is patently untrue, why, even a lie. A seer is needed to discover this? No.

The website of the minister’s own home department on Census 2011 uncovers it. The census manual in the website says: “the field-work of the House-listing and Housing Census and the National Population Register are being conducted simultaneously by the same enumerator”. And the answer to one of the FAQs in the website says: “The Census is a statutory exercise conducted under the provisions of the Census Act 1948 and Rules made there under. The NPR is being created under the provisions of the Citizenship Act and Rules.” So, admittedly, Census 2011 creates the PR under the citizenship law. And it involves enumeration under both laws — for housing under the census law and for population under the citizenship law. Does the minister’s statement that the census is purely a data collection under the census law just now survive the truth in his own website?

Now test the Union home minister’s statement on the rules under the citizenship law. The data for Population Register (PR) and National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) are collected under the citizenship law and rules, not the census law. The citizenship rules provide for population census thus: the government shall conduct house-to-house enumeration to collect details ‘including the citizenship status’; and the Registrar General of Citizen Registration (RGCR) under the citizenship law shall notify the period and duration of the enumeration. The particulars to be collected for the PR are also mentioned in the citizenship rules. So, the enumeration for PR is prescribed under the citizenship law, not census law. Therefore, the minister’s claim that the enumeration is under the census law and the later verification will be under the citizenship law is patently untrue.

The implication in his statement that the name of the registrar general, who is the authority under the census as well as citizenship laws, may have led to misunderstanding in the sense that he is involved from the side of the citizenship law, is deceptive. This subterfuge conceals the fact that the population details now being gathered are actually under and as prescribed in — but without complying with — the citizenship rules. But for this subterfuge, the minister will have to concede that the query in the ongoing enumeration, the Query No 11, to the effect ‘citizenship as declared’ is not only contrary to the citizenship law, but is actually a fraud on the law. Read on, with some patience as it is all about law.
It is the citizenship rules, not the census law, that provide for both the collection and verification of the population data. It is not that, as the minister pretends, information is collected under the census law now and verification takes place, later, under the citizenship law. Just take one mandate in citizenship rules. The citizenship rules direct that ‘during the verification process, particulars of such individuals whose citizenship is doubtful shall be entered with appropriate remark in the Population Register.’ Unless the enumerators are first asked to notice cases of doubtful citizenship, how will such cases come up for verification at all? But, instead of asking them to notice and record the cases of doubtful citizenship during enumeration, see how the census manual directs the enumerators to fill the space against Query No 11 ‘Nationality for each of the enumerated person has to be asked from the respondent and recorded. …… Please record the nationality of the respondent as declared by her/him for each of the persons enumerated. Do not get into any argument with the respondent regarding this.’(See Para 5.21.1 of general instructions). That is, when the citizenship rules ask for doubtful cases of citizenship to be identified, the census manual to collect details under the very citizenship rules virtually says ‘don’t doubt the respondents on their claim of nationality; just record what they say.’ How then will suspect cases of citizenship be discovered? Clearly, the ongoing enumeration is not intended to discover suspect citizenship, but to suppress them, and make them appear genuine. Can the minister deny that Query No 11, read with the census manual, exposes his lie?
Shockingly, anyone who had entered into India six months before the census, or any one who intends to stay for six months after, becomes a ‘usual resident’ under the ongoing census rules. Such persons, thanks to the census, can declare themselves as Indian citizens in response to Query No 11. And more shockingly, the government proposes to issue ‘National Identity Cards’ to all such people even though under the law, ‘National Identity Cards’ are allowed only for Indian citizens.

Imagine, like Kasab who did the mayhem in Mumbai on 26/11, a Pakistani enters India today and promises to be here for six more months, he is eligible to declare himself as an Indian citizen in response to Query No 11, also get a National Identity Card. He will be an Indian terrorist, not a Pakistani jihadi. According to intelligence sources, some 40,000 Pakistanis have entered India and after throwing their passports away, they have melted into Muslim-dominated areas. Under the Census 2011 they are ‘usual residents’, can declare themselves as Indian citizens and will now get National Identity Cards. After all the enumerators are directed to not to argue with them when they declare their nationality as Indian, and to just write as they claim.

QED: The ongoing population census is undoubtedly an anti-national venture. It is placing millions of timeless bombs all over India. Is the home minister, who seems lost in legalisms, aware?

A Bhadralok Communist

A Bhadralok Communist
[ ]

S Gurumurthy

‘Gana’ as Jyoti Basu who ruled West Bengal as chief minister for 23 long years from 1977 to 2000, was affectionately known at home, is no more. Undoubtedly a versatile politician whose public life lasted six decades, different people will recall Basu in different ways. His adversaries and friends alike will recall him as a practical communist who even undertook a visit to the US, the arch enemy of his party and its ideology, seeking its investment in his state. The official website of the Left Front government brings out his greatest achievement. It eulogises him as the one who perpetuated Communist control over the state apparatus of West Bengal — an indisputable fact. Understanding how he achieved this feat is critical to know Jyoti Basu as a politician as also his mission.
The State website says that Jyoti Basu “is known primarily” for “establishing a seemingly indestructible Communist control over some of the levers of the state-level political power in West Bengal”. The official website says that he achieved this by combining “communist extra parliamentary” political tactic with the parliamentary tactic “aimed at establishing indestructible Communist control”. But could ‘indestructible communist’ control be consistent with parliamentary democratic process? No. It could not be. But a re-reading of the official website makes it evident that what it talks of is not democratic, but “Communist”, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary political tactics.
Here is a telling illustration of how ‘the Communist extra parliamentary political tactic’ is different from democratic parliamentary process. In its editorial dated August 6, 2003 written in the context of the unprecedented violence that marked the panchayat polls in the state which the CPI(M) had won, The Statesman newspaper said it was not “the popularity of the Marxists” that was the reason for the marginalisation of the opposition parties in the elections, but, it was the Marxists’ “expertise in fixing elections by violence, intimidation, and by simple expedient of preventing opposition candidates from filing nominations”. The edit concluded: “it is the prescriptive right of the communists to use any method they choose and if it is a wrong or illegal method, the stigma is instantly washed away when they touch it.” The implication is clear. The Marxists never considered it a sin to fix elections by fraud and violence, and if they did it, no stigma would attach to them! The use of this extra parliamentary tactic along with the parliamentary — read electoral — process is the secret of Jyoti Basu’s success in perpetuating communist control over the State apparatus in West Bengal. But more than this achievement, that he did so without being faulted for it speaks volumes about how an acceptable face can make unacceptable things acceptable to the people who count.
Jyoti Basu was the face of Bengali Communism most acceptable to the Bengali Bhadralok. For the British, Bhadralok meant the ‘well-mannered’ Bengali. But, in the dictionary of Indian politics, it would simply mean the upper castes in Bengal. While in rest of India, with the democratic process deepening with each election, the lower castes’ share of power increased, the Marxist controlled West Bengal had virtually kept out the lower castes and denied their due share in power. Surprised? Here is the evidence. In the governments led by Jyoti Basu between 1977 and 1982, “there were even more Brahmins than in the Congress governments, over 35 per cent; the number of Kayasthas (31 per cent) and Vaishyas (23 per cent) was almost the same as in Congress governments”. What was the share of the Scheduled Castes in Jyoti Basu ministry? Believe it — just “1.5 per cent”. If the “inferior ministers — ministers of state and deputy ministers — were left out”, it would be even “lower”. Stunningly, in Basu’s ministry in 1977 and 1982 “there was not a single Scheduled Caste member of the Council of Ministers”. Yes, not a single one despite West Bengal having the highest concentration of Scheduled Caste population in the whole country — almost 24 per cent (Census 1991). These shocking facts have been brought out in a scholarly work that appears in
The message is evident. The transfer of power from Congress to Marxists had actually made it worse for the lower castes. The reason. Jyoti Basu largely represented the traditional Bengal, contrary to the popular notion that he and the likes of him were products of Marxian modernity. His dress and circle of friends readily identified him with the Bengali Bhadralok and endeared him to the media in Bengal dominated by the Bhadralok, which in turn made him inevitable for the party within. Result, Bhadralok actually dominated Bengali politics more under the Marxists than even under the Congress. The website says that Jyoti Basu was “initially distrustful of parliamentary politics as the politics of the ‘bourgeois talking-shops’”. But that is precisely what his politics substantially ended with. The Bhadralok-led media in Bengal, save exceptions like The Statesman, were understandably comfortable with the tactics of Jyoti Basu government since that preserved the political primacy of the Bhadralok. The national media was content to certify the CPI(M) as secular, which was sufficient to wash off all sins of its extra parliamentary tactics.
The extra parliamentary tactic that Jyoti Basu had bequeathed to the Marxists has sustained them for almost a decade after Basu quit in the year 2000. But things seem to be changing now. Thanks to the aggressive politics of Mamata Bannerjee, the Bengali lower caste political assertion is on the rise. The southern states witnessed such assertion in 1950s and the northern states, much later, in 1990s. But, thanks to Marxist — read Bhadralok — control over West Bengal politics, lower caste assertion has been delayed for almost half a century and has not taken off even today in the State. With the Marxists beginning to falter, the national media too has begun pointing to the Bhadralok character of Marxism in West Bengal which it would not do a day earlier. Analysing the Nandigram issue in Indian Express (March 20, 2007) Yogendra Yadav, a well-known political analyst wrote: “Nandigram did not surprise me…….. In West Bengal, the proportion of upper castes increased in the state assembly after the Left Front came to power. A coincidence? Not if you calculate the caste composition of successive Left Front ministries: About two-thirds of the ministers come from the top three jatis (Brahman, Boddis, Kayasthas)”. Yet, thanks to the very media’s indulgence, Jyoti Basu was not perceived as a traditional Bhadralok politician who did not share power with the lower castes, but, as a Marxian modernist.
But the one area where Jyoti Basu combined the parliamentary and extra parliamentary tactics to keep the lower sections of society satisfied was land reform. Thus, even as Jyoti Basu reserved state power for the Bhadralok, he also ensured that legislative land reforms were supported by extra legislative abrogation of land by the communists for distribution. Thus, Basu secured land for the lower castes but reserved power for the upper castes — a trade-off that retained the Bhadralok primacy in power politics, and also won rural Bengal for the CPI(M). But ironically, this is precisely where the Trinamool Congress is challenging the Marxists. How? The very land, distributing which the CPI(M) became the ideological darling of the people, has now become its nemesis as the CPI(M) forcibly took it back from the people in Singur and Nandigram to give it to the ideological enemies of the party.
But undoubtedly Jyoti Basu knew the art of building and wielding power within, and without altering, the existing social architecture. He was a practical politician, not an idealist nor a statesman. But despite ruling the state of West Bengal for 23 long years Jyoti Basu himself died as an unhappy man because when other parties wanted him as the prime minister of the country in 1996, it was his party which prevented him. Expressing his frustration, not once but twice, Jyoti Basu said that his party’s decision to veto his elevation to the highest political office was a “Himalayan Blunder”. Yet, till now there is no explanation from his party as to why it denied him the high office when the dream of any political party would be to see one of its leaders as the prime minister. The mystique veto of the CPI(M) against its own most popular leader makes Jyoti Basu unique. Thus ends the political saga of Jyoti Basu who made his party acceptable to Bengal but found himself unacceptable to his own party, to lead India!
(S Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues. E-mail:

Better know, before talking

Better know, before talking

S. Gurumurthy
Last Updated : 07 Aug 2009 12:13:28 AM IST

We have in our country a long but uneven tradition of philanthropy’. Thus lamented Sonia Gandhi at the function in Delhi to give the Indira Gandhi Prize to the American philanthropist Bill Gates. That was on July 25. Two days later, the Wall Street Journal printed, unusually, her whole speech. On July 29, Paul Beckett, a WSJ columnist, taking his cue from Sonia, mocked Indian businessmen for not being even remotely close to matching Gates. He pontificated: “India’s rich, open your wallets”.

Beckett used corporate India to dent the image of India itself, courtesy Sonia. Had she not spoken the way she did, he would not have written the way he did. What Sonia did not know — therefore, Beckett, who borrowed from her, could not — is what differentiates India from the US. American corporates, which almost exhaust America, are co-extensive with it; they account for over 80 per cent of its GDP. Bill Clinton had nicknamed the US ‘America Inc’, namely, the US as the aggregate of its corporates.

US corporate endowments aggregated are highly visible, like their brands. This is to emphasise their nature; not undermine their worth. The US market cap is some 40 times the Indian. Corporate India is insignificant in contrast. Some 400 top private Indian companies account for under six per cent of India’s GDP. This includes all Sensex members.

Sonia is understandably unfamiliar with the practices of traditional India. Indian charity, widely practised at the lowest unit levels down to every home, is socio-religious, not secular, in construct. Traditional India has high charitable propensities and deep philanthropic impulses. Indian religions do not convert others; their charity is therefore less known. Here are some examples of charity where the religious power is manifest.

Look at the charity run by Bhagwan Sathya Sai of Puttaparthi. His work for the poor is unmatched; yet equally unknown. Here are just two illustrations of his work. Anantapur district in Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh was known for water scarcity and water salinity and high fluoride levels in drinking water. Moved by the suffering of the poor, Sai Baba decided to do what the government could not for 50 long years; provide potable drinking water to the whole of Anantapur — yes, for the whole district.

He declared in November 1995, “Today it is ‘Raatlaseema’ (rocky region); it must be transformed into ‘Ratnala Seema’ (land that glitters like diamond)”. It took just 18 months. The work involved laying some 2,000 kilometres — yes 2,000 km — of water pipeline; building 43 sumps of 1.5 lakh to 25 lakh litres capacity; constructing 18 balancing reservoirs of three to 10 lakh litres capacity — where? — on top of hillocks; erecting 270 overhead reservoirs holding 40,000 to three lakh litres; installing 1,500-plus concrete pre-cast cisterns of 2,500 litres capacity, each attached with four taps for people to draw water.

This is how the 9th Planning Commission document describes the initiative. The Sathya Sai charity ‘has set an unparalleled initiative of implementing on their own, without any state budgetary support, a massive water supply project with an expenditure of Rs 3,000 million to benefit 731 scarcity and fluoride/salinity affected villages and a few towns in Anantapur district in 18 months’. Baba’s trusts repeated this feat in fluoride-affected Medak and Mehboobnagar districts. They provided water to some 4.5 lakh poor in 179 villages in Medak, and to some 3.5 lakh poor in 141 villages in the next. The drinking water projects in these districts covered more than 1,000 villages with some 20 lakh people.

Then, he saw the poor in Chennai struggling for water. He declared on January 19, 2002, “Today I have made a new resolve. Madras is suffering from acute shortage of drinking water. The rich can buy water. What will the poor do? I have decided to work towards bringing drinking water to Madras, no matter how difficult and how costly the task”. His central trust took up the construction of a 63-km stretch of the 150 km canal in the Telugu Ganga scheme, left incomplete for want of funds, thus denying water to Chennai. Thanks to Baba, Krishna water reached Chennai, irrigating some three lakh hectares of agricultural land on the way. These projects cost over Rs 600 crore.

The Sathya Sai trusts in Puttaparthi and Bengaluru run world-class speciality hospitals. They have performed some 24,000 cardiac surgeries, 34,000 cardiac cathertisations, 7,000 neuro surgeries, 40,000 eye surgeries, and 600 orthopaedic surgeries and treated millions more — all free. What is absent in these two hospitals is a billing department. The bill for these services might exceed Rs 1,000 crore. Baba’s trusts also run free educational institutions, cultural centres and music colleges. Secular India generously released a stamp to note the charity in Anantapur. Compare it with the Indira Gandhi award to Gates and the encomiums at the cost of India.

Take another religious charity, the Ramakrishna Mission. It runs 197 hospitals and its health-related work serves 85 lakh people annually, including 25 lakh in rural areas; 1,186 educational institutions serve 3.4 lakh students including 1.24 lakh in rural areas.

Take the Swaminarayan movement. Its 14 hospitals serve over six lakh patients annually; it runs 10 schools, eight colleges, 14 hostels; it has built 55 schools in disaster-hit areas; it aids 20 schools financially; gives 5000 scholarships annually. In Punjab, not a single man, woman or child would have gone hungry in the last three centuries, thanks to the langar in Gurudwaras feeding millions every day. Jains run huge charities all over the country. So do religious Muslims and Christians. Even the freedom movement was sustained by philanthropy. Lala Lajpat Rai gave all his properties to the movement; Chittaranjan Das and many others went bankrupt funding the movement. They never expected any Indira Gandhi Award. That is real philanthropy.

Traditional Indian business communities allocate a fixed share of their turnover for charity. The mahamai, an informal charity tax among the Nadars in Tamil Nadu has funded hundreds of the community’s educational institutions. The Nagarathars in Tamil Nadu too, through their mahamai, run huge charities. The Marwaris and others do so through the dharmada. Even today this informal system prevails in non-corporate business in India. So charity is by the community as a whole, not by individuals. But corporate India is unfortunately neither Indian nor American.

This is India, about which Sonia is singularly ignorant even after 40 years of domicile. When she said India has an uneven tradition of philanthropy it only exposed her ignorance, besides exporting it to the WSJ. The result? The WSJ is preaching to Indians about charity; the Indian media reports this nonsense without challenging it.

QED: To talk about Indian traditions, she first needs to know about them.

Black money haunts Congress

Black money haunts Congress

S Gurumurthy

The manner in which a bold initiative to unearth Indian black money lying abroad was aborted by the then Congress Government in the 1980s was suggestive. Then, as now, the party leadership acted as if it had skeletons to hide

Switzerland was accused of giving shelter to black money and there has been a lot of inflow of such wealth from India and other countries of the world.” This is not Mr LK Advani speaking in an election rally but the Swiss Ambassador to India briefing the media in New Delhi last year. The occasion was the 60th anniversary of Indo-Swiss Friendship Treaty. Admitting that Indian black money gets hoarded in his country, he added that the new law in Switzerland would not stop it but control it “up to a certain limit”.

The Swiss diplomat authentically answered the first of the FAQs, that is, whether lots of Indian monies are really stashed away in Swiss banks. Swiss banks are not the only secret destination. There are 37 such shelters in the world, says US Inland Revenue. The secret owners of the monies operate in secrecy — venal businessmen, corrupt politicians and public servants, drug lords, and criminal gangs like the D-company. These slush monies are the financial RDX for terror, besides weapons of mass destruction of national and global finance. That there is secret money is no more a secret. Only the amounts and the owners of that money are secret.

But how large could be such stolen Indian wealth hoarded in Switzerland so far? Specific estimates of this later. Before that, here is a side show, but a relevant one.

An apology would be in order. For, I figure in this show. In late 1980s, at the behest of an English national daily, while investigating a corporate scam, I had attempted to trail the Indian currencies stashed abroad. In the course of the probe, I had contacted Fairfax, a US investigative firm. Impressed by its skills, I persuaded the Government of India to engage the firm for the task. Fairfax agreed to work for a slice of the black wealth uncovered by them as fee. According to the Swiss sources then, the Indian money stashed in Swiss banks was estimated around some $300 billion. That was enough to excite the Fairfax to go for the kill.

But, soon my efforts landed me in jail on March 13, 1987, when the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested me on charges that later turned out to be bogus, but were enough to stop the probe. The whole nation knew then that real reason why rulers struck was their fear that the probe had targeted the Bofors pay-off and secrets monies of the ruling family abroad. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, moved honest and bold civil servants like Vinod Pandey and Bhure Lal out of the probe and eventually sacked the then Finance Minister VP Singh, who had authorised the efforts.

The chain of events that followed led to corruption emerging as the major issue in the 1989 poll in which Rajiv Gandhi, who had wiped out the Opposition in 1984 election, was defeated, and VP Singh became the Prime Minister. But there is a big lesson in these developments that often goes unnoticed. And that is the way the bold national interest initiative to unearth the Indian black wealth abroad was aborted clearly confirmed that the ruling party was mortally afraid of any probe into secret monies abroad. This fear haunts the Congress even today. That is why the 1987 episode is relevant now.

Now cut to the main story.

Illicit monies are the dirty outcome of modern capitalism. But, after the 9/11 terror attack, the United States realised that not just the buccaneers in business but terrorists like Osama bin Laden could hide their funds in secret havens and use them to bomb the world. Campaigns against dirty money as high security risk commenced with the path-breaking research done by Raymond W Baker, a Harvard MBA and a Brooking scholar. His research was published in a book titled Capitalism’s Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System in 2005.

This set off intense debate in the US as the exposure linked dirty business and black money with terror and national security. Raymond Baker had estimated, using authentic data, tools and reasons, the tainted wealth stashed in banks at $11.5 trillion to which, he found, one more trillion was getting added annually. He added that in the process the West was getting an annual bounty of $500 billion from the developing countries, including India.

Global Financial Integrity, a global watchdog headed by Baker to curtail illicit money flows, has recently brought out detailed estimates of the black money hoarded in secret havens from different countries. GFI research shows that during the period from 2002 to 2006, annually $27.3 billion was stashed away from India, making a total of $137.5 billion for the five-year period (the Executive Report of GFI in on ‘Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries 2002-2006’ Economists’ version). That is, in just five years, Indian wealth amounting to Rs 6.88 lakh crore was smuggled out of India. This gives clue as to how much Indian money would have slipped out of India in the last 62 years, particularly during the Nehruvian socialist regime when the income tax (97.5 per cent) and wealth tax (almost equal to the income earned on investments) together constituted double the income earned!

It is undisputed that the Nehruvian socialist model had forced huge sums of Indian money out of India. So the amount of Indian black money stashed away in the last 60 years — estimated at from $500 billion (Rs 25 lakh crore) to $1400 billion (Rs 70 lakh crore) — do not seem to be wide off the mark. Economists call it flight of capital. This is the Indian people’s money stolen away from them.

See the consequence even if part of it is brought back. A portion of it would make India free from all external debts which is now over $220 billion; India will transform into an economic superpower; some 10 or 15 Indian Rupee could buy a US dollar which today 50 Indian Rupees cannot. A litre of petrol on our roadside would cost some Rs 15 or even less, against today’s 40 plus; the cost of imports in rupee terms would be down to a third or half; India’s entire infrastructure needs can be funded; India will become so energy efficient and cost-competitive that exporters may need no sops at all; India will lend to — presently it borrows from — the world. India’s housing can be funded at affordable cost; rural poverty can be wiped out… The list is endless.

Unquestioned loot – by S Gurumurthy

Unquestioned loot
S Gurumurthy

First Published : 13 Apr 2009 03:04:00 AM IST
Last Updated :
All that the BJP leader L K Advani had perhaps intended to do — when he took up the issue of Indian black wealth stashed away in Swiss and other secret shelters — was to put the Congress party on the back foot at the time of the elections. But he would never have imagined that the Congress would go so far back as to hit its own wicket.
This is how the play opened. L K Advani told the media: the Swiss ambassador to India has himself admitted that lots of Indian black money gets secretly lodged in Swiss banks; estimates of Indian black money abroad vary from $500 billion to $1400 billion; forced by the economic crisis, the West, that is Germany, France, US and UK, which had winked at the illicit monies in the past, have begun a crusade against Swiss banks and other secret tax shelters to flush out the money; India must join the Western effort to bring back the Indian black wealth from abroad. With elections round the corner, Advani did turn the issue into a political one. He charged that the Congress was not keen to get back the Indian monies lodged abroad. He cited two instances to support the charge. First, despite his writing to the Dr Manmohan Singh in April last year to ask for the names of Indians reportedly mentioned in the secret record of LGT bank — which the German authorities had offered to open free of cost to give to all who asked for it — the government would not press for the Indian names from Germany. Second, he said that in the G20 preparatory meet in Berlin where Germany and France had called for blacklisting of Swiss and other tax havens, the Indian representatives at that meeting never opened their mouth on the issue.

Advani rounded off asking the prime minister to take up the issue of Indian monies stashed away in secret Swiss banks and in other tax havens at the G20 meet at London slated for April 2, 2009. Yet, at the London meet, Dr Manmohan Singh would not utter a word. Had he just said that India would join the G20 efforts, the Advani googly would have gone for a six. But, the Congress party went on the back-foot and hit its own wicket instead. But, why did the Congress hit its own wicket instead of a six? Read on.

“Why this now, at the time of the elections?” asked the Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari, not knowing that Advani had written to the prime minister long before, in April 2008 itself, on the LGT bank issue. Then entered Abhishek Singhvi, the more articulate spokesman of the party. He asked what did Advani do when NDA was in power. Obviously he has not even read Advani’s statement. Advani has only questioned why the Manmohan government is not acting now [in March 2008] in tandem with the West which has begun crusading against secret banking. Only now the West has turned against secret bank funds. So the question why did the BJP, or even the Congress, not act in the past does not arise. More. Singhvi said that “G20 is not the forum for the issue” of Indian black wealth in Swiss banks. Obviously, running between courtrooms and newsrooms, he had no time to follow the media abroad which were full of news about how the main agenda of G20 was about secret banking. He was all at sea. With the first two failing, entered Jairam Ramesh, the campaign manager of the party.

Like Sehwag deploying offence for defence, he wrote a harsh letter to L K Advani saying, “to tell bluntly — Mr Advani, you are lying”. Advani, he charged, was lying on his maths about the estimate of the Indian black wealth at between $500 billion and $1400 billion. These numbers, he said, were drawn from questionable Internet sources! All his shouts meant only this: “Mr Advani, the loot from India is not as big as you make it out to be”. But, when the Swiss Ambassador himself has admitted that ‘lot’ of Indian black wealth was flowing into Swiss banks, where is the need to quarrel over how big the loot from India is — as big as Advani says or as small as Jairam Ramesh thinks? The question is where does the Congress stand on the issue of bringing the hoarded Indian wealth from abroad. The three who shout at Advani are deafeningly silent on that.

The Congress campaign manager cites a well-known economist Bibek Debroy who has questioned Advani’s estimate of Indian black wealth at a minimum of $500 billion. Debroy, usually an agile and meticulous analyst, has erred in this case. He has looked at the wrong version of the right report and reached incorrect conclusions. Both Advani and Debroy have relied on the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) study that has estimated the global black wealth stashed away in tax havens including India’s. There are two versions of the GFI study — one a layman’s version and the other, the economists’ version. Debroy, an economist, seems to have relied on the layman’s version. And L K Advani, not an economist, has relied on the economists’ version. The economists’ version of the GFI study (at pages 29 and 30 supported by charts, specifically chart 18) estimates, in specific numbers the amount of black wealth stashed away from India between 2002-06 at $137.5 billion. If, in five years, the amount could be $137.5 billion (Rs 6.88 lakh crore), the Advani estimate of $500 billion (Rs 25 lakh crore) to $1400 billion (Rs 70 lakh crore) for six decades since 1947 is not wide off the mark. Bibek Debroy who seems to have looked at only the layman’s version of the GFI study, appears to have missed the specific estimate of the annual loot from India at $27.3 billion which only the economists’ version of the GFI report mentions. This is the cause of the dispute on maths. But even otherwise all maths of monies held in secrecy can only be estimates. There can be nothing final about it.

That lots of Indian black wealth is lodged in secret Swiss banks and elsewhere is undisputed. The dispute is no more about the loot from India. But only about how big that loot is. The Congress masks the undisputed fact of the loot by questioning the maths of it. Obviously the party seems frightened about the Indian black wealth abroad becoming an issue once again after 1987 when the Bofors bribe scam broke out. The Congress spokesmen do not seem to be defending their party. They are actually exposing their leader whose connections with her Italian friend Quattrocchi who got bribes from Bofors out of the defence budget of India are well known. They seem to confirm the cynical ones who ask: “Do we expect those who assisted Quattrocchi to run away with the money caught stolen from India to bring back the Indian black wealth from Swiss banks?”

Understand why the Congress chose to hit its own wicket instead of hitting the Advani googly for a six?.

Secret wealth abroad

Secret wealth abroad

Switzerland has been accused of giving shelter to black money and there has been a lot of inflow of such wealth from India and other countries of the world.” This is not L K Advani, on election mode, speaking last Sunday, but the Swiss ambassador to India briefing the media in Delhi last year.
The occasion was the 60th anniversary of Indo-Swiss Friendship Treaty. Admitting that Indian black money gets hoarded in his country, he added that the new law in Switzerland would, not stop it, but control it “up to a certain limit”.
The Swiss diplomat authentically answers the first of the FAQs, that is, whether a lot of Indian money is really stashed away in Swiss banks. Swiss banks are not the only secret destination. There are 37 such shelters in the world, says US Inland Revenue. The secret owners of the secreted monies operate in secrecy — venal businessmen, corrupt politicians, public servants, drug lords, and criminal gangs like the D-company. The slush monies are the financial RDX for terror, besides weapons of mass destruction of national and global finance. That there is secret money is no more a secret. Only the amounts and persons are secret. But how much of India’s stolen wealth could be stashed in Switzerland? Specific estimates of this later. Before that, here is a sideshow, but a relevant one.
In the late 1980s, at the behest of The Indian Express, while investigating the Reliance scam, I had attempted to trail the Indian monies secreted abroad. In the course of the probe, I had contacted Fairfax, a US investigative firm, to uncover the Indian wealth stashed abroad. Impressed by their skills, I persuaded the Government of India to engage the firm for the task. Fairfax agreed to work for a slice of the black wealth uncovered by them as fee.
According to Swiss sources then, the Indian money secreted in Swiss banks was some $300 billion. That was enough to excite Fairfax to go for the kill. But, soon my efforts landed me in jail on March 13, 1987, when the CBI arrested me on charges that later turned out to be bogus, but were enough to stop the probe. The whole nation knew then that the real reason why rulers struck was their fear that the probe had targeted the Bofors payoff and secret money of the ruling family abroad. Rajiv Gandhi, who was the prime minister then, moved honest and bold civil servants like Vinod Pandey and Bhure Lal out of the probe and eventually sacked V P Singh who, as finance minister then, had authorised the efforts.
The chain of events that followed led to corruption emerging as the major issue in the 1989 polls in which Rajiv Gandhi, who had wiped out the opposition in 1984 elections, was defeated, and V P Singh became the prime minister. But there is a great lesson in these developments that often goes unnoticed. And that is, the way the bold national interest initiative to unearth the Indian black wealth abroad was aborted clearly confirmed that the ruling family was mortally afraid of any probe into secret money abroad. This fear haunts the family-led Congress party even today. That is why the 1987 episode is relevant now.
Now back to the main story.
Illicit money is the dirty outcome of modern capitalism. But, after 9/11, the US realised that not just the buccaneers in business, but Osama bin Laden could also hide his funds in secret havens and use them to bomb the world. Campaigns against dirty money as high security risk commenced with the path-breaking research done by Raymond W Baker, a Harvard MBA and a Brookings scholar. He published his research as a book Capitalism’s Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free- Market System. The book was published in 2005. This set off intense debate in the US as the exposure linked dirty business and dirty money with terror and national security.
Raymond Baker had estimated, using authentic data, tools and reasons, the dirty wealth secreted in banks at $11.5 trillion to which, he found, one more trillion was being added annually. He added that in the process the West was getting an annual bounty of $500 billion from the developing countries, India included.
Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a global watchdog headed by Baker to curtail illicit money flows, has recently brought out detailed estimates of the black wealth hoarded in secret havens from different countries. GFI research shows that during the period 2002 to 2006, annually $27.3 billion was stashed away from India, making a total of $137.5 billion for the five-year period. That is, in just five years, Indian wealth amounting to Rs 6.88 lakh crore has been smuggled out of India. This gives a clue as to how much Indian money would have slipped out of India in the last 62 years, particularly during the Nehruvian socialist regime when the income tax (97.5 per cent) and wealth tax (almost equal to the income earned on investments) together constituted double the income earned.
It is undisputed that the Nehruvian socialist model forced huge sums out of India. So the amount of Indian black wealth secreted away in the last 60 years — estimated at from $500 billion (Rs 25 lakh crore) to $1400 billion (Rs 70 lakh crore) — does not seem to be wide off the mark. Economists call it flight of capital. This is the people’s money stolen from them.
See the consequence even if part of it is brought back. A portion of it would make India free from all external debts which is now over $220 billion; India will transform into an economic superpower; some 10 or 15 Indian rupees could buy a US dollar which today 50 Indian rupees cannot; a litre of petrol on our roadside would cost Rs 15 or even less, against today’s 50 plus; the cost of imports in rupee terms would be down to a third or half; India’s entire infrastructure needs can be funded; India will become so energy efficient and costcompetitive that exporters may need no sops at all; India will lend to — not, as it does now, borrow from — the world; Indian housing can be funded at affordable cost; rural poverty can be wiped out… The list is endless. But, then, is it possible to bring back the secreted monies? What are the roadblocks to such efforts?|35JpDfHVas=

The disaster of me, me

The disaster of me, me
S Gurumurthy
This happened in Mangalore as February 14 now marketed as Valentines Day by traders to sell their wares was approaching.
Upset with public drinking by boys and girls, a freak by name Pramod Muthalik got mad. He got some of them in a pub beaten up like their parents would do, but unlike them. He had informed the media about his show so that the news cameras were in place to telecast the Muthalik action everywhere. Thus the Muthalik show was a joint venture between him and the media to keep away the state police, which could spoil the show. Predictably, the whole world pounced on poor Yeddyurappa who heads the BJP government in Karnataka for allowing Muthalik to take the law into his hands. The BJP, ever torn between its love of Hindu culture and its desire for a modern image, was greatly embarrassed. With the BJP in power in Karnataka, Muthalik knew the publicity value of his show. Had he enacted his theatre elsewhere, like when the Shiv Sena raided pubs years ago in Mumbai and Pune under the secular Congress rule, it would have been far less noisy.
More. By just one mad act, Muthalik turned many, including a minister, into full-scale lunatics. Renuka Chowdhury, a minister of state, supported a pub bharo andolan to take on Muthalik, thus openly encouraging young boys and girls to take to mass drinking in public. And believe it or not, her portfolio is Women and Child Development. Came an even more mad response to Muthaliks take on Valentines Day. I support every kind of love, heterosexual, transgender, marital, extramarital.
This is Arundhati Roy sermonising to youths. Why she left out incest from her catalogue of love is not clear. Now, take the secular media. It quickly equated pubgoing with individual rights, and held Muthalik as an offender against human rights. Evidently, the mad act of a freak Hindu in a distant corner of India is sufficient to turn the whole of secular India into lunatics. Now move away from this trivia to the danger to which Renukas and Arundhatis expose the nations economy.
The current Indian discourse on individual and human rights, which tends to smuggle in even gay and lesbian rights, apes the West. As India attempts to copy the West, it clearly misses the serious economic issues that confront West, thanks to its obsession with unfettered individual and human rights. Many in the West now seem to realise that continuously undermining the moral and social order has led to the present economic crisis. The West did not slide overnight. Beginning from the late 19th century, the Anglo-American West gradually moved away from a relation- based lifestyle to a contract-based lifestyle.
While culture and tradition govern relation, law and rights inhere in contracts.
And this move from relation to contracts became almost complete in the second half of the 20th century. With law overriding relations, even parents could not curb the rights of their wards once they legally matured.
It is the other way. If they acted against their wards, the law would punish the parents for child abuse. So contracts replaced relations, and rule of law substituted for moral order. To what effect? The rise of unfettered individualism and undefined feminism have led to the erosion of families and a rise in divorces, singleparent families, unwed mothers, lesbians, gays and almost the collapse of traditional families. Over 50 per cent of the first marriages, 67 per cent of the second marriages, and 74 per cent of the third marriages end in divorce in the US. Over 40 per cent of births are outside wedlock. Almost half of the families are headed by a single parent.
The number is more in most of Europe. It was seen as cultural erosion first. But slowly it has turned into an economic disaster.
The contract-based model undermined families and led to low or no household savings, high personal debt, credit card based living, outsourcing of household functions including kitchen work. The erosion in relation-based lifestyle soon imposed a huge social security burden on the state because the family mechanism that supported the unemployed, infirm, aged and the rest and the state had to step in to aid them. Thus the family functions were taken over by the state. The families were nationalised. The overburdened state consequently had to shed its traditional functions, like public works, and privatise itself.
The socialisation of family functions obviated the need to save for a rainy day and led to even lower savings. With the growth of individualism to the exclusion of kinship and relations, corporates and the state alike promoted unrestrained consumerism.
Result, some 110 millions US households have some 1.2 billion credit cards, almost a dozen cards per household.
As the people saved less and spent more, they got into trillions of dollars of private debt; and as the government spent more, it also ran into tens of trillions of dollars of public debt. The result is that the government is bankrupt and so households are insolvent. More, the US, the largest creditor nation of the world three decades ago, is today the number one debtor of the world, with $12.5 trillion of debt.
A quick survey shows this: all individual- centric economies are deep in debt; but nations more family-oriented and less individual- centric, like Japan, China, India, and generally Asian nations, account for over three-fourths of global savings; the individualist West lives off the savings of family-centric Asia. Today the West says that, in the present crisis only Asia, which has huge savings thanks to family orientation, can save the West, which has almost lost its traditional family lifestyle.
So the idea of unbridled human rights and unrestrained personal freedom that have led to social and cultural degeneration are increasingly seen as the cause of the present economic crisis. Weeks ago, Thomas L Friedman, a leading economic journalist, wrote in the New York Times that he had told those eating in a restaurant that they could no more afford to eat out and they had better cook and eat at home. But how will they cook and eat at home unless families are re-created? If they do, how would the US compensate for loss of employment if restaurants, which exist because households have closed their kitchens, shut down? There seems to be no solution within economic laws to the present crisis of the West. Amoral economics once yielded higher returns. It now yields negative returns.
Here Renukas and Arundhatis advocate unbridled individualism that has undermined families and morals and dynamited the economies of the West. Renuka questions the idea public morals. Arundhati advocates amoral living. Both seem unaware that an economy built at the cost of family and social morals, too collapses on the ruins of the morals it has brought down. QED: morality supports economics; lack of it ruins economies.
About the author:
S Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues

The intellectual scene in Post-independence India A speech of S. Gurumurthy given to IIT Chennai

The intellectual scene in Post-independence India A speech of S. Gurumurthy given to IIT Chennai

 … Defeat and anger go together. Abuse and defeat go together. So, it is in this norm and with this understanding of what an intellectual debate means, I would like to place before you some of my thoughts today. Some of may find it provocative. I am confident that the audience is competent enough to absorb this and think rather than get into the mood which all of us have got used to in the last 30-40 years abuse.

Background: India before Independence

Let us see the pre-independence background, the intellectual content of India. See the kind of personalities who led the Indian mind Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Gandhiji, Tilak- giants in their own way. Most of them were involved in politics, active politics, day-to-day politics, handling men, walking on the road, addressing meetings, solving problems between their followers. And, meeting the challenges posed by the enemy, the conspiracies hatched against them. They were handling everything, yet, they were maintaining an intellectual supremacy, and an originality which history has recorded.

Let us look at the academic side. Whether it is a P.C. Ray who wrote on Indian Chemistry in 1905 or Sir C.V. Raman who wrote about mridangam, tabala, and violin, and saw the physics in it (this was in 1913); whether it was R.C. Majumdar or Radhakumud Mukherjee who saw greatness in the Indian civilization; trying to bring up points, instances, historical evidence to mirror the greatness of India to the defeated Indian race, they were all building the Indian mind brick by brick.

Sri Aurobindo spoke of Sanatana Dharma as the nationalism of India. He didn’t rank it as a philosophy. He brought it down to the level of emotional consciousness. Swami Vivekananda spoke of spiritual nationalism; it was the same Swami who spoke of Universal brotherhood. For them philosophy was not removed from the ground reality. The nation was at the core of their philosophy. Swami Vivekananda was called the “patriot monk”.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke of Rama Rajya. Bankim Chandra wrote Bande Maataram. The song, the slogans in it, the mantra in it made hundreds of people kiss the gallows smilingly and many others went to jail. It transformed the life of the people. This was the intellectual scene, this was the content. This is what powered the intellectual as well as the mass movement in India. This was the core of India, the soul of the Indian freedom movement.

The symptoms: India immediately after Independence

Imagine what happened in 1947 and after, India was able to intellectually lead not only Indians but also the whole world because of the intellectual assertion that the freedom movement brought about. Let us look at post Independence India. The persons who led post-Independence India were also trained in the same freedom movement. They went to jail, but they were not rooted in the intellectual content of the Freedom movement!

The first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru was in jail for 7 years. He was a great intellectual, purely in the sense of his capacity to reason, understand, read, and expound a thought. He told Galbrieth once, “I would be regarded as the last English Prime Minister of India.” See the intellectual capability of the man, the enormously competent mind.

But intellectualism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has to be rooted in something concrete. Swami Vivekananda’s universal brotherhood was rooted in India’s greatness as a civilization. The concept of “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam” cannot exist without a living form, a population which believes in it and believes in itself. You need to have a society which believes in it.

That is why India could invite the Jews who were butchered, raped, all over the world. In 107 out of 108 countries, this race was butchered. At least they had the courtesy and the gratitude to publish a book. The Israeli government published a book that out of 108 countries that we sought refuge, the only civilization, the only country, the only people, the only ideology that gave us refuge was the Indian civilization. They published a book, which most Indians are unaware of.

And we invited the Muslims. The refugee Muslims first landed in Kutch. And they are called the Kutchy Memons even today but not the Memons who bomb Mumbai. But the Memons who lived with us.

In the year 1917, many of you might be aware, a case went to the Prey Council, equivalent to the Supreme Court now. The Kutchy Memons went and told the Prey Council that we are Muslims for namesake, but we follow only the Hindu law. Please don’t impose the Shariat on us. The Prey Council ruled that they are Muslims but the only sacred book they have is called “Dasaavathaara”, it is not Koran. In fact they knew no language other than the Kutchy language.

And in the “Dasaavathaara”, nine avatharas were common between Hindus and Kutchy Memons. We call the tenth avathaara “Kalki” and they call him “Ali”. The Prey Council ruled that the Shariyat law is not applicable to them. The All India Muslim League took up the case, went to the British and told them that this finding is dangerous to Islam and requested them to pass a law which will overrule this judgment. The British government passed a law in 1923 which was called the “The Kutchy Memons Act” declaring, “If a Kutchy Memon wants to follow the Shariat, allow him to do so”.

It doesn’t mean a Muslim must follow the Shariat. Between 1923-1937, before the All India Shariat Act was passed not a single Kutchy Memon filed an affidavit with the plea that he wants to follow the Shariaat. That was the integration prevalent in India.

In 1937, when the All India Shariat Act was passed, the preamble to the act mentioned that this was being passed by a demand made by the AIML leader Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Today, the Shariat has become a part of Muslim consciousness.

The purpose behind making you aware of this background is that 99% of the people who speak about the constitutional rights of the minorities or the distinctiveness of Muslim life are unaware of the facts. Till the year 1980, in Cooch Behar district, the Shariat law was not applicable. In 32 instances between 1923 and 1947 by legislation, the Shariyat law was not applicable to the Muslims. This is the extent of the intellectual gap in India.

Secularism: A Reversal and perversion of the Indian mind.

And now, coming to what is the position today. Everything that drove the freedom movement – everything that constituted the soul of the freedom movement, whether it is the Ram rajya of Gandhiji or Sanaatana Dharma of Sri Aurobindo or the spiritual patriotism of Vivekananda or the soul stirring Vande Maataram song, came to be regarded not only as unsecular but as sectarian, communal and even as something harmful to the country.

Thus, there was a reversal, a perversion of the Indian mind. How did it occur? Today, the intellectualism of India means to denigrate India. There are mobile citizens and there are non- citizens deriding India. Go to the Indian Airlines counter you will find people deriding India. Go to a post office they will deride India. Go to a railway station, they will deride India. It is the English educated Indian’s privilege to deride India.

When I was talking to postal employees in the GPO, Chennai (a majority of them were women). I told them the basic facts about the post office. I said it is one of the most efficient postal systems in the world, one of the cheapest in the world, one of the most delivery perfect postal systems in the world. For one rupee, you are able to transport information from one end of the country to the other.

And you have a postman, no where in the world this happens the postman goes to the illiterate mother and reads out the letter, he is asked to sit there and shares a cup of coffee and comes away. Money orders are delivered to the last rupee. It is an amazing system, one of the largest postal systems linking one of the most populous nations, one of the most complicated nations with so many languages.

Somebody writes the address in Tamil and it gets delivered in Patna! It gets delivered to Jawaan at warfront! When I completed my speech many of the women were wiping their tears. I asked why are you crying I have only praised you. They said, “Sir, this is the first time we’ve been praised, otherwise we’ve only been abused!”

You know how many people use the railways in India? A million people and that is equivalent to the population of Australia! And we have only abuses for them!

Have we any idea of what this country is? India has been compared with Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. You can walk across many of these countries in one night (laughs)! The best politicians, intellectuals, sociologists in India have compared us with them because, we have never understood what we are and unless you do that, you can never relate us with others.

Demonising India: Projecting a negative image.

This enormous intellectual failure, to the extent of being intellectually bankrupt, did not occur overnight, it was no accident. There is a history behind this enormous erosion. And I told you about these mobile citizens, what they have done to us. Every country has problems. There is no country without any problem. Are you aware of what is one of the most pressing problems in America today? It is incurable according to the American sociologists; even American economists have begun to agree with them. American politicians are shaken, one third of the pregnant women are school going children. And mothers mix the anti-pregnancy pill in the food without daughter’s knowledge everyday.

But this is not the image of America. The image of America is a technologically advanced country etc. etc. Ours is the only country where the mobile citizens of India have transformed the problems of India into the image of India -its identity is inherently related with its problems.

Go to any country and the same negative stereotype is echoed that India is suffering from poverty and malnutrition. India has no drinking water. Indian women are burnt. If they are married, they are burnt, if they are widows, they are burnt. See the image that has been built about this country. Who did this? The English educated Indian.

And one Kaluraam Meena (have you ever heard of him? Asks the audience to raise their hands if they have), only a small fraction of this large audience has heard of him. When Clinton came to India, he went to a village called Nayla where the villagers interacted with him. And one of the panchayat board members asked him, “Sir, I am told that in the West, all of you believe that this country is a rotten country, a backward country, a poor, hungry country. Do you also think like that?”

Clinton was shaken, because he might have thought that this person might be approaching him for some favour. I will relate my experience when I went to the Carter Centre in 1993. They were talking about dispute resolution and all that. I went there to meet somebody, if not Carter, somebody else at least. His Deputy, a lady, was very hesitant to receive me. “Mr. Gurumurthy”, she said, “Mr. Carter is not around, anyway, I can spare seven-eight minutes for you.” I said three or four minutes of your time would do. Even before I could start, she said, “Mr.Gurumurthy, we don’t have funds, we will not be able to help” (laughter from the audience). I replied, “Let us assume you have a hundred billion dollars, how much will you give me? One billion? One million?” She kept quiet, I said: “I don’t need your money. I came here to discuss whether community living is an answer to disputes. I have come to discuss this because you have suggested electoral means to resolve problems in communities which have no damn idea of what an election is; whether community living is an answer because you don’t what that means. She sat and discussed this with me for two hours. This is the image we have projected that anybody, who comes from India, comes to beg. Ordinary Indians did not create this impression; educated Indians created it. This is the work of civil servants, NGOs. Christian missionaries during the freedom movement created this. Indians are filthy, rotten, dirty and unhealthy, advertising abroad these are the people who need to be saved. We have to Christianise them, enlighten them, and give us money. I can understand that because it is their business. But what did we do after 1947?

We repeated the same mistakes. We projected India as a country of unending problems. As I said, every country has problems. Only in India, problems become identities. How many dowry deaths take place in India in a year? Yet, India is projected as a country burning its own daughter-in-laws. And we also talk about it. Every damn newspaper will be writing about it. We believe in self-deprecation. And this goes on in the guise of intellectualism in India. And one woman, she attempted to take a film of the widows. I wrote an article, asking her to go to Lijjat Paapad. A widow brought me up. Millions of widows have worked to bring up their children. It is a nation, which believes in Tapasya. You may not believe in it but you are an exception. Compare Deepa Mehta”s attitude with Sarada Maa’s who was the wife, who became a widow after Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s passing away. She went to the very same place where Deepa Mehta went and saw the widows. Sarada Maa said, “These widows are so pure, they are an illustration and an example to me.” Deepa Mehta saw them as prostitutes. The widows have already been hurt once. Why are you sprinkling salt on their wounds?

I am very sorry to speak about this, but I have to, this audience is enlightened enough to understand me. Indian women are sexually unsatisfied and so they are becoming lesbians? This is one bloody story against us, about us. This is the image of Indian men and women, and this film is in English. Catherine Mayo wrote a book and Mahatma Gandhi said about it, “I have no time to read this filth. But I am under a compulsion, under pressure because this has been published abroad. The image of India has been rubbished and I have to counter it.” With this introduction, he wrote about the book and said that this woman is a gutter inspector (laughs).

The intellectualism in India is gutter inspection- people are of this kind etc. Understand the level of erosion.

Indian Politics: Weaknesses and Pitfalls

Let us look at the post independence scenario from the macro level. We installed a system of governance and it postulated all the important goals for the Indian society and polity, which was gulped by the Indian academia, by the Indian intellectuals. We will have a classless society through socialism. We will have a casteless society through equality. We will have a faithless society through secularism. We will have a modern society devoid of tradition.

Instead of politics restructuring caste, caste has restructured politics today. Political parties are talking only in terms of castes. Has any Indian intellectual come to terms with caste? You must understand caste if you want to handle the Indian society. You cannot say that I want to have a very different kind of society. You have to handle the Indian sentiment, the Indian tradition and Indian beliefs. You can’t clone a society of your choice in India. Social engineering has failed everywhere; the masters of social engineering have given up the Communists – whether it is sociologists or economists you have to accept a society as it is. You can only increase the momentum of evolution in the society; you can’t forcibly bring about a revolution today. But, Indian leaders and intellectuals, till today, keep abusing caste. They don’t know how to handle the caste.

Let me narrate to you how a community in Karaikudi handled this issue. The Chettiyar community assembled top businessmen, professionals from all over the world for 3 days to discuss their culinary act, how to construct houses, what languages they use, what old adages and stories their grand parents used to tell, what clothes they used to wear; not one word of politics, mind you. This was not even published in the newspapers. Intellectuals were not even aware of it. So, caste is a very important instrument in India, you may not like it. Unfortunately, every intellectual leads a caste life inside, but outside he is casteless! He is cloning an approach outside. There is no intellectual honesty at all.

And what happened in the case of secularism? In India, any one who is not a Hindu is per se secular. In the year 1947, just 10 years had passed after the Muslim League demanded and got the country partitioned, the leader who voted for the resolution for the partition of India was Quazi Millath Ismail, (who was leading the same Muslim League on the Indian side), the Congress certified that the Muslim League in Kerala is secular and hence it can associate with them. The Muslim League outside Kerala is communal with the same president! Three hundred and fifty crores are spent today for the Haj pilgrims out of the funds of secular India every year. No one can raise an objection. At least I can understand why politicians don’t want to do that because they want the Muslim votes. But what about the intelligentsia. What about newspaper editors and journalists? And academicians? None of them speak out. The reason is that we have produced a state dependent intellectualism in India. We don’t produce Nakkeerans anymore, our intellectualism is a derivative of the State and the State is a derivative of the polity. And in turn the polity is a derivative of the mind of Macaulay and Marx.

The Indian education system: A Legacy of Macaulay.

This Macaulayian system of education is a poison injected into our system. At least I had the opportunity of schooling in Tamil and hence could withstand the corruption that this English education brings with it. This corruption begins the moment the child steps out of the house. He is told to converse in English at home. This did not happen even in pre-Independence India, even when Macaulay wrote that notorious note sitting in Ooty. How many of you know Macaulay’s formulation? Just those two or three sentences at least which form the crux – “We require an education system in India which will produce a class of interpreters, who will be Indian in colour and Englishmen in taste, opinions and morals.”

This is the education system, which we have been continuing with, which was earlier conceived to produce clerks for the British Empire. If you have to differ from an English educated person you have to differ only through the English language. If you have to abuse somebody, even that has to be done in English! If you abuse the Anglicised Indian, he will not find fault with the blame but with the grammar in your language! This is the extent to which a foreign language has possessed us. But, we must master English, that is needed, but why do we have to become slaves of the English language? We must use that language as a tool, but why do we consider it as a status symbol? This is the influence of Macaulay.

If you want to understand the Macaulay/Marxist mix in India, you have to go a little back to see how Marxism grew out of the Christian civilisation. I recommend that you read the Nov 27, 1999 edition of the Newsweek, which describes how the Christian idea of the end of time called the “apocalypse”, influenced the entire history, art, music, prognosis, sociology, economics, and the entire attitude of the Christian civilisation towards the non-Christian civilisations.

A Christian scholar who describes how Communism grew out of Christianity has written it. In 1624, Anna Baptists, a group of Christians who believed in the basic tenets of Christianity seized power in a particular place, banned private property and use of any book other than the Bible. When Marxism came up later through the exposition of Das Capital, the Marxists began expounding their doctrine as an extension of Christianity.

The thesis, antithesis and synthesis of making Christianity acceptable to the age of enlightenment was the Hegelian way demanded rationalisation of Christianity in the days of the Protestant movement. Hegel began with a disagreement, then started interacting with Christianity and ultimately ended up accepting Christianity.

You can see the same phenomenon with Marxist postulates- “capitalism is my enemy, we have to deal with capitalism” and finally “we have to find a synthesis with capitalism”.

Marx on India

In fact in the year 1857, Marx wrote about India, ” India was a prosperous civilisation. It had a very high standard of living. Their productivity was higher. India was an economic giant.” It was so. If you look at the statistics in 1820, India’s share of world production was 19%, and England’s share was 9%, please note that Britain was deep into the industrial revolution at that time. 18% of the world trade was in Indian hands at that time whereas 8% was the figure for Britain and 1% for US. When 80% of the American population was engaged in agriculture, India had 60% of the population engaged in non-agricultural occupations. This is supposed to be an index of development. All these statistics can be found in Paul S. Kennedy’s “Rise and Fall of Great Powers”.

So, Marx says, “This was a great civilisation which had produced prosperous communities.” A prosperity which went deep into the villages. In the early stages, when the East India Company came to Murshidabad, an unknown name in Bengal today the Britishers were awe struck with its prosperity and wrote that it was more prosperous than London. This is no more disputed anyway, even by Indian intellectuals. Marx acknowledges the fact that this was a prosperous country and also had equality but unfortunately, he says for 2000 years the society did not change nor did it allow any revolutionary forces to enter! In his worldview human beings cannot progress without a revolution!

In the two articles on British rule in India and the East India Company- history and results written by Marx, quoted in the New York daily “Karl Marx does grant though somewhat in a grudging manner that “materially, India was fairly industrious and prosperous even before the onset of the British rule. He said that India was an exporting country till 1830 and started importing because it had opened its trade to the British.” Many of you may not be aware that the kings in India had no right to over the lands, which came under the jurisdiction of panchayats. Whether it was Emperor Ashoka or Bhagavan Sri Ramachandra, the rule was the same. It was changed only during the British rule under the Ryotwari system. Even the Mughals could not change it. It was also found that family communities were based on domestic industry, with the peculiar combination of hand-spinning, hand- weaving, agriculture etc. which gave them a supporting power.

The misery inflicted by the British on Hindusthan is of an entirely different kind and infinitely more intense than what it had to suffer before civil wars, invasions, revolutions, conquests, famines all these did not go deeper than the surface. But, England broke the entire framework of Hindusthan, the symptoms of reconstitution are yet to emerge clearly. This loss of the Old World without the emergence of a new order imparts a particular melancholy to the present misery of Hindus and Hindusthan. Marx goes on to say that the British interference destroyed the union between agriculture and the manufacturing industry. Suddenly he remarks that the English interference dissolved this semi barbarian, semi-civilised community.

He concedes that they were prosperous, that they organised their affairs well, they have a measure of independence, they have a democracy at the lowest level, all this has been conceded. Then, how does he classify us as “semi-barbarian and semi-civilised communities”? He notes that India’s social condition remained unaltered since remote antiquity. This is important, for him revolution is the core, the soul and centre of the society. This society never had a revolution; hence it cannot be modern! There is an underlying assumption, which considers revolution as a pre- requisite for being modern.

Hence, he feels that the destruction wrought by the British is the inevitable revolution needed for the development of the Indian society. England had vested interests, violent interests in bringing about this “revolution”. But, the question in focus is whether mankind can fulfill its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state? Whatever might have been the crimes of England, she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about a revolution, whatever bitterness the spectacle of crumbling of an ancient world may evoke, from the point of history, we have to exclaim – should this torture torment us?

Since it brings us great pleasure, were not the rule of Taimur, souls delivered without measure? It is a creative destruction in the cause of revolution according to him. If you see Indian Communism which was expounded by a man called Rajane Palme Dutt. Has anyone heard of his name? (Two persons from the audience raised their hands). Two. He was born of a white woman and an Indian father in England. He was in charge of Indian Communism for 25 years. He never came to India though. In his book, “India Today”, he laid down the framework, the policy for Indian Communists, what must be done, what is the kind of revolution needed in India, the development model etc.

In those days, even good photographs of India were not available, yet this man spoke about India sitting in London. He came to India for the first time in 1946, ten years after he wrote this book and realised that he had to revise it. He stayed for 30 days! A visitor to India was the father of Indian Communism! And from that day till date, the Indian Communist has never been with India. Not only that, they took over the Indian mind in the post- independence period. It is these Marxist/Macaulayist intellectuals who will certify whether somebody is modern or traditional, backward or secular or communal, progressive or regressive. They were running an Open Air University issuing certificates every day through the press. They have branded me as a communal man.

Labels: Tools for stultifying important debates

Labels substituted debate in India. Simply a label – communal, that is enough. Four or five editorials will appear preaching that Gurumurthy is communal and the matter must end there. No one would even discuss what communalism is! Religious fundamentalism, RSS/Bajrang Dal fundamentalism! Anyone, who exposes the Hindu cause in India is a fundamentalist! We have seen this term being used so casually and superfluously and incessantly by politicians and newspapers. Has anyone bothered to understand the meaning of religious fundamentalism going beyond these slogans?

Secularism is an intra-Christian phenomenon. It has no application outside Christianity at all. Secularism resolved the fight between two powerful persons, the King and the Archbishop who were loyal to the same faith, to the same prophet, to the same book and to the same Church. It is not a multi-religious virtue.

A multi-religious idea, a multi-religious living, a multi-religious culture, a multi-religious fabric or a multi-religious structure was unknown outside India. There was usually only one faith and no place for any other, not even for a variation of the same faith.

Fifty six thousand Bahais were butchered in one hour in Tehran! They believed in the same Koran, in the same Muhammad, the only difference was that they said that Muhammad might come in another form again. That was their only fault and they were all butchered.

But we have no such problem. We can play with God, we can abuse God, and we can beat God!

If I say that monotheistic religions have had a violent history, and the reply will be “you are communal.” But this is exactly the same conclusion that a study in Chicago revealed, probably, the only study on fundamentalism conducted by anybody so far. This fundamentalism project brought out five volumes each volume about eight hundred to nine hundred pages. The conclusion they have reached is that, “Fundamentalism is a virtue of Abrahamic religions. It is not applicable to eastern faiths at all.

What about the Indian intellectuals? Day in and day out, they keep abusing us as fundamentalists, communalists, that we are anti-secular and it is being gulped down by everyone including those from the IITs and IIMs, lawyers and police officials, journalists and politicians. Look at this intellectual bankruptcy.

An inner revolution: The much needed change

We need a mental revolution, an inner revolution; we need to get rooted in our own soul. There is a missing element in India today and it is this. That element has to be restored otherwise Indian intellectualism will only be a carbon copy of Western intellectualism. We are borrowing not only their language and idiom but also we trying to copy the very soul of the West.

So, all that we need to do is (it is impossible to share the entire depth of the subject in one evening’s lecture programme. I have only tried out point out in an incoherent way, how a completely fresh mindset has to be evolved. And unless it evolves, the Indian mind, which leads India, will be in a perpetual state of confusion ordinary people are perfectly all right.

Consider for example how thirty years before there was a question whether Tamil Nadu will be a part of India or not. The Dravidian parties have taken over the mind of Tamil Nadu. It had virtually ceased to be a part of India. And their attack was aimed at Hinduism. The moment you attack Hinduism you attack India. This is a fact. Neither politicians nor intellectuals nor academicians realised this. But, the ordinary people did. Just three religious movements- the Ayyappa movement, the Kavadi movement and the Melmaruvatthur Adi Para Sakti movement- have finished the Dravidian ideology to a very great extent. It is only the outer shell of Dravidianism that remains today. Tamil Nadu has been brought back successfully by Ayyappa, Muruga and Para Sakti, not by the Congress or the BJP or any other political party.

How many people have intellectually assessed the depth and the reach, the deep influence of religion over the people? A paradigm shift in a study of India would be an intellectual approach to this subject. Or consider for example its influence on economics. Many of you by now would have studied economics in some detail. Take a look at the society in India and compare the figures for public expenditure for private purposes, which is called the social security system in the West. 30% of the GDP in America is spent for social security, 48% in England, 49% in France, 56% in Germany and 67% in Sweden. This private expenditure is nothing but what you and I do by taking care of parents, our wives and children, brothers and sisters and grandparents, widowed sisters and distant relatives. This expenditure is met by the society in India.

And there is no law in India that people should do this. We consider it as our dharma. A person went to a court and demanded a divorce from his father and mother. The American court granted it saying that the only relationship that exists between two persons of America is their citizenship. The law in America recognises no other relationship … In the year 1978, an interesting incident occurred in Manhattan. There was a power failure for six hours. Manhattan is in the heart of New York where you find the UN building, the World Trade Centre and the head quarters of many multi-national companies. One third of the world’s health is concentrated in Manhattan. Within six hours, hundreds of people were killed, robbed and assaulted. We don’t need electricity to behave in a civilised manner. How many intellectuals in India have ever articulated from such a sympathetic approach? We have only tarnished the image of this country. We must be ashamed of this.


I shall conclude my speech with this example. When Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry in search of a new light. He used to get five rupees from a friend and four persons used to live on this. A cup of tea was one of the luxuries they used to have everyday in the morning, on the Pondicherry beach.

Sri Aurobindo used to always look at a mystic called Kullachamy (Subramanya Bharati has written a poem about him). He used to behave like a madman, wandering here and there, throwing stones … One, day he came near Sri Aurobindo, lifted his cup of tea and emptied it in front of him. Then he showed the empty cup to him, placed it on the table and went away. Sri Aurobindo’s friends were angry and wanted to chase him. Sri Aurobindo stopped them and said, “This is the kind of instruction I had been expecting from him. He wants me to empty my mind and start thinking afresh.”

That is my appeal to you.