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EI

Peter van der deer takes the case of religion to examine the mutual impact of Britain’s colonization on Indian and British culture He shows that national culture in both India and Britain developed in relation to their shared colonial experience and that notions of religion and secularity were crucial in imagining the modern nation.

Excerpt

The Colonial Mission in India

One of the greatest policy debates in the East India Company in the early nineteenth century was between Orientalists who argued that the Company should continue its policy of supporting native religious and educational institutions and Angelicists, who argued that there was a little of value in these native institutions which should be replaced by the more civilized and advanced institutions of England. This was clearly a complex debate that was, more or less decisively, won by the Angelicists. When Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Minute on Indian Education’ of 1835 was accepted as the basis of official policy. In this battle, evangelicals sided with Angelicists. Evangelists, such as those of the Clampham sect (Wilburforce, Zachary, Macaulay, John Venn…. ), who were prominent in the anti-slavery campaign, were indignant at the support of the Company had given to Hinduism and Islam in India. They concurred with the Utilitarian Angelicists in their disdain for native institutions and literature of India.

Hindustani Honour

In 1937 the Indian Boys Scouts movement went through a crisis on an issue of crucial significance for a discussion of how British masculinity was constructed by simultaneously feminizing the colonized Indians. As we will see, this imperialist construction of muscular Christianity was answered by an Indian nationalist construction of muscular Hinduism. According to Baden-Powell, there was no word in Hindustani that could fully translate the notion of honor that was central to the building of character in the Boys Scout Movement: “when in India I asked one or two scouters what word they used for ‘Honour’ in teaching their boys character and they said ‘Izzut’. But Izzut does not convey the meaning of Honour…

 

 

History as it happened

Why should Indian history be re-written?

We see more and more today that the Indian history has to be rewritten according to the latest linguistic and archaeological discoveries if Indian children are to understand who they are and where they come from. We know now that only the history of India’s beginnings was written by European colonizers, with an intention to downsize, downgrade and postdate Indian civilization, but that, unfortunately, generation after generation of Marxists Indian historians, for their own selfish purposes, endorsed and perpetuated these wrong theories, such as Aryan Invasion, which divided India like nothing else, pitting South against North, Aryan against Dravidian, and untouchables against Brahmins.

Excerpts

The Influence of the Hindus on Egypt

American mathematician A Seidenberg has demonstrated that the Sulbhasutras, the ancient Vedic mathematics, have inspired all the mathematic signs of the antique world from Babylonia to Egypt and Greece. “Arithmetic equations from the Sulbhasutras were used in the observations of the triangle by the Babylonians and the theory of contraries and of inexactitudes in arithmetic methods, discovered by the Hindus, inspired Pythagorean mathematics,” writes A Seidenberg.

What about Philosophy?

Hindu Shivaism seems to have had a tremendous influence in the Indo-Mediterranean world and reincarnated itself under different names, at different places, during antiquity. French historian Alain Danielou noted as early as 1947 that “the Egyptian myth of Osiris seemed directly inspired from a Shivaitte story of the Puranas and that at any rate, Egyptians of those times considered that Osiris had originally come from India mounted on a bull (Nandi), the traditional transport of Shiva.”

The Indian Muslim

Since the late 1980s, a radicalism seems to grip some of the Muslim youth. Yet, nowhere but in India, they have had so much freedom to practice their faith. Try to be a Hindu, a Buddhist, or a Christian in Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh! And we know that the Pakistani or Bangladeshi bombers in Hyderabad or Mumbai could never function without the (very) active participation of some of India’s Muslims although Indian politicians keep mum about it.

Today it is even more acute to physically attack a woman like Taslima Nasreen in Hyderabad and to riot in Calcutta, forcing her to go into exile, shows the intolerance of Indian Muslims today and how influenced they have been by the hard Wahabite streak that most of them pick up when they went to work in Gulf countries. Yet, they find it normal when an MF Hussain paints Hindu deities naked and fornicating. Is there a logic in it?

 

 

the theft of india

The Theft of India documents the intense rivalry for spoils that played out between the British, the French and the Portuguese and the impact these had on Indians. It details the political intrigue, the agreements and the betrayals, the oppression, swindling and greed of these foreign powers as they each try to strengthen their grip on this vast and ‘exotic’ land.

Excerpts

The Portuguese

Soon after Vasco Da Gama departed from India in 1502, his uncle Vincente Sodre sailed north, hoping to capture rich Arab ships. His fleet was caught in a storm of Arabia and he was drowned. The Zamorin of Calicut saw his opportunity. He ordered his nominal subject, the Raja of Cochin, to surrender the men da Gama had left behind at Cochin. The Raja refused and war broke out. The Zamorin’s army took Cochin and then burnt it. The Portuguese, and what was left of the Raja’s army, escaped to the nearby island of Vypin. Fortunately for them, a squadron of Portuguese ships under the command of Afonso De Albuquerque, came to their relief. The Raja then gave authority to the Portuguese to build a fort at Cochin. A square fort was constructed, made of double rows of palm trunks with earth rammed between. At each corner there was a bastion with cannon and the whole area was surrounded by a moat. On 1st October 1503 a Franciscan monk christened the first European fort in India. It was named, in honour of the King of Portugal, Fort Manuel. Many of the other forts would follow, but first the Portuguese had to secure control of the Arabian sea.

The English – Venture Capitalists and Adventurers

An expedition to the artic seas was the unlikely precursor to the foundation of the English East India Company. The English economy had blossomed in the early 16th century with large exports of wool to continental Europe. There had been a rise in imports too, even from the East. These, however, had mostly been purchased from Italian merchants who had established Mediterranean and overland trade groups. The price of spices had fallen as the century progressed. Simultaneously, the market had grown in volume. No longer was pepper the preserve of the upper middle classes. The English warship, the MARY ROSE, sank in 1545. When it was raised in 1982, it was found that most of those on board, even the poorly paid ordinary sailors, possessed a small amount of pepper. In the middle of 16th century, there was still a great deal of money to be made out of pepper and other spices and riches of the East. Some London merchants were convinced that the time had come for England to seize a share of these profits.

The English Religious Freedom and Peaceful Trade

On the east coast of India, the Coromandel Coast, the Company had established itself in 1611 at Masulipatanam. It had discovered, however, that the textiles most in demand were obtainable cheaper further south. In 1639 they received an invitation from the ruler of the area, Damarla Venkatappa Nayak, the Lord General of Carnatic, about Madrasapatnam village to trade from there. The ruler was to receive half the custom dues. Francis Day, was able to conclude an agreement to not only build a factory, but to fortify it against possible attack by the Portuguese or the Dutch. He chose a strip of sand at a point between the mouth of a river and the sea. It was three miles long and one mile wide. This was the first significant piece of land to be owned outright by the company in India – for at Surat and other places they were merely tenants. It was not sovereign territory for it was held as fiefdom of the ruler. Nevertheless, the company was able to impose many of its own laws within the enclave. In 1647 the area was captured by the Sultan of the Golconda who allowed the company to carry on its operations undisturbed. The fort was about a hundred square yards, with a bastion at each corner. The first bastion was constructed in 1640, but completion of the fort, named Fort St George, took some years. The factory was in the centre.

 

yv reddy

As Governor of the Reserve Bank of India between 2003 and 2008, Dr. YV Reddy stayed the course of financial pragmatism in times of relentless deregulation. Through visionary leadership, finely calibrated financial management and a prescient reading of global economic indicators, he ensured India largely escaped the fate that befell the worst affected of the world’s economies.

Extracts

Future of Commercial Banks

During the boom years, the main thrust of policy in advanced economies with regard to banking was towards universal banking, so that banks were in a position to provide a wide range of financial services, including investment banking. In addition to the enabling of universal banking, the economic use of capital was given importance. Consequently, the interest of shareholders in increasing their net-worth and the incentives to the management for taking risk became paramount. Liquidity problems that the banks could face were neglected when the principles-based regulation was emphasized. Capital adequacy calculated on the basis of similar mathematical models were adopted in major economies. Further, each bank focussed on the strength of the individual balance sheet and regulations governing the entities, in the process regulating system stability.

The Case for Tobin Tax

After the global financial crisis, the approach to the Tobin Tax has acquired a different focus, greater urgency, and some policy relevance. First, such a tax is considered necessary to recover the bailout costs incurred by the governments to avoid a collapse in the financial sector. Second, the ill effects of excessive financialization have been realized now. The volume of foreign exchange transactions is $ 2 trillion a day, while only 5% of this is necessary for financing trade in goods and services. Third, the impact of excess volatility in financial markets on the rest of the economy is better appreciated now. It is also realized that the ill effects and risk of volatility are inherent in all the financial markets and are not confined to currency markets. There is apprehension that several elements of financial-sector growth are in excess of socially desirable levels. Fourth, some developing countries have found it necessary to moderate capital flows through the use of several instruments, of which the Tobin Tax is just one. In view of the emerging uncertainties, developing economies find greater appeal in such options.

Financial Sector Taxation

The impact on the economic activity of taxes on the financial sector is country-specific and is critical to any packaging of taxes on the financial sectors. The financial sector needs to facilitate allocative-efficiency, but it also operates as an instrument of public policies, particularly among developing economies. In advanced economies, financial institutions need to deleverage as a consequence of this crisis, and hence they need additional capital in the future. Thus, it is often agreed that an additional burden of taxes will be overdue at a time when the development process is underway. In developing countries the links between the real sector and financial sector are critical, and in most developing economies banks play a dominant role in the dispensation of credit. Any additional burden of taxes could make credit expensive in such economies, which were not responsible for the crisis. However, review of the existing systems of taxation on the financial sector, keeping in view the lessons learned from the crisis is warranted.

Emerging Issues in Financial Sector Regulations

The emergence of the global financial crisis and consequent review of the regulatory structure reveal that the most critical tasks relate to the rebalancing of the competing considerations that govern regulations. The importance of the financial sector has to be better balanced with the real sector, and it should be recognized that the former is a means and not an end. Financial markets play a critical role, but they cannot be unfettered. They require an active public policy, but with the recognition that the apparatus of the state is also vulnerable to capture.

It is not speculation or volatility perse, but excessive speculation and high volatility that cause serious problems. No doubt what is excess is often contextual and judgemental. Further, public policy can ill-afford the dominance of speculation over fundamentals. The adequacy of the policy space for national authorities has to be reconciled with the compulsion of global trade and technological developments.

 

 

henry hazlitt

Considered among the leading economic thinkers of the Austrian school, Hazlitt has been credited as a fundamental influence on modern advocates on free market capitalism.

Extracts

The Drive For Exports

Exceeded only by the pathological dread of imports that affects all nations is a pathological yearning for exports. Logically, it is true, nothing could be more inconsistent. In the long run, imports and exports must equal each other (considering both in the broadest sense, which includes such “invisibles” items as tourists expenditures, ocean freight charges and all other items in the “balance of payments”). It is exports that pay for imports, and vice-versa. The greater exports we have, the greater imports we must have, if we ever expect to get paid. The smaller imports we have, the smaller exports we can have. Without imports we can have no exports, for foreigners will have no funds with which to buy our goods. When we decide to cut down our imports, we are in effect deciding also to cut down our exports. When we decide to increase our exports we are in effect deciding also to increase our imports.

The Curse of Machinery

Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines on net balance create unemployment. Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever. Whenever there is long-continued mass unemployment, machines get the blame anew. This fallacy is still the basis of many labor union practices. The public tolerates these practices because it either believes at bottom that the unions are right, or is too confused to see just why they are wrong.

Suppose a clothing manufacturer learns of a machine that will make men’s and women’s overcoats for half as much labor as previously. He installs the machines and drops half his labor force. This looks at first glance like a clear loss employment. But the machine itself required labor to make it. So here, as one offset, are jobs that would not otherwise have existed. The manufacturer, however, would have adopted the machine only if it had either made better suits for half as much labor, or had made the same kind of suits at a smaller cost. If we assume the latter we cannot assume that the amount of labor to make the machines was as great in terms of payrolls as the amount of labor that the clothing manufacturer hopes to save in the long run by adopting the machine; otherwise there would have been no economy, and he would not have adopted it.

So there is still a net loss employment to be accounted for. But we should at least keep in mind the real possibility that even the first effect of the introduction of labor-saving machinery may be to increase employment on net balance; because it is usually only in the long run that the clothing manufacturer expects to save money by adopting the machine: it may take several years for the machine to “pay for itself”.

After the machine has produced economies sufficient to offset its cost, the clothing manufacturer has more profits than before (we shall assume that he merely sells his coats for the same price as his competitors and makes no effort to undersell them). At this point, it may see, labor has suffered a net loss of employment, while it is only the manufacturer, the capitalist, who has gained. But it is precisely out of these extra profits that the subsequent social gains must come. The manufacturer must use these extra profits in at least  one of three ways and possibly he use part of them in all three: (1) he will use the extra profits to expand his operations by buying more machines to make more coats or (2) he will invest the extra profits in some other industry or (3) he will spend the extra profits on increasing his own consumption. Whichever of these three courses he takes, he will increase employment.

 

BeingDifferent

In Being Different: An Indian Challenge to western universalism, thinker and philosopher Rajiv Malhotra addresses the challenge of a direct and honest engagement on differences by reversing the gaze, repositioning India from being the observed to the observer and looking at the west from the dharmic point of view. In doing so, he challenges many hitherto unexamined beliefs that both sides hold about themselves and each other. He highlights that while unique historical revelations are the basis for western religions, dharma emphasizes self-realization in the body here and now. He also points out the integral unity that underpins dharma’s metaphysics and contrasts this with western thought and history as a synthetic unity.

Extracts

Dharma Logic Includes the Middle Ground

On the whole, dharma philosophers are comfortable with uncertainty and even deploy uncertainty as a logical principle. Turning to the West, we will see how Aristotle’s’ famous Law of the Excluded Middle argues for an either/or propositional logic. In Eastern philosophy, many more complex, though equally rigorous, understandings of logic have been put forth.

The Jains, for instance, expound elaborate theories of ‘non-unique’ conclusions (principle called ‘aneka-anta-vada’) which underpin the most important and fundamental doctrines. This principle refers to pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from a diverse point of view and that no single point of view is complete. Thus, reality possesses infinite characteristics that cannot be perceived or known at once by an ordinary mind.

Indian Comfort with Chaos

The flexibility of dharma in this respect comes in part from the emphasis on integral unity and context. All things are understood to be inherently held together, so one can be relaxed about plurality and not feel threatened by it. Sri Aurobindo writes: ‘Unity we must create, but not necessarily uniformity’. He goes on to explain that because, in dharmic traditions, unity is grounded in a sense of the integral One, there can be immense multiplicity without fear of ‘collapse into disintegration and chaos’. He adds that ‘nature can afford the luxury of infinite differentiation’ since there is the ‘secured basis’ that ‘the underlying immutability of the eternal’ always remains unaffected.

Two Ways of Knowing The Divine

In Judeo-Christain traditions, revelation comes ‘from above’. It is initiated by God, and its content is strictly God given. Human receptiveness is required but this alone is insufficient. God is transcendent and must personally intervene in history from without in order for human beings to discern the truth. The bedrock of such religions is this historical event. This leads to an obsession with compiling and studying the historical details of such interventions and makes them what I call history-centric.

The dharmic faiths do not depend on historical events in the same manner or to the same degree as the Judeo-Christian religions. The dharmic traditions posit that truth is not located ‘out there’ in a heaven, accessible only through the rare intervention of prophets, but resides as the indivisible Self within each person, animal, plant, and indeed in each tiniest particle. Theistic dharma traditions such as Hinduism see humanity as a manifestation of God, and the non-theistic ones – Buddhism and Jainism – see humanities’ self-realised consciousness as the highest reality. Endowed with the potential for achieving, in this very life, the state of sat-chit-ananda – blissful knowledge of, and unity with, God – anyone may explore and discover autonomously the meaning of our existence. An array of embodied approaches such as Yoga, shorn of any historical grand narratives or institutional authority, is available to aid the seeker. The path of embodied knowing begins with the sublime idea that humankind is divine, and this is one of India’s greatest gifts to humanity.

 

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Much of human history has played itself out along the rim of the Indian Ocean. In a first-of-its-kind attempt, best-selling author Sanjeev Sanyal tells the history of the significant region, which stretches across East Africa, the Middle-East and the Indian subcontinent to South East Asia and Australia. He narrates a fascinating tale about the earliest human migrations out of Africa and the greatest cities of Angkor and Vijayanagar; medieval arab empires and Chinese ‘treasure fleets’; the rivalries of European colonial powers and a new dawn.

Extracts

Kingdoms of the Lion

The injection of Indian DNA into Australia around 2000 BC shows that people living on India’s Eastern seaboard were capable of sailing long distances even before the Iron Age. Archeologists have found remains of a possible river port at a place called Golbai Sasan in Odisha that dates back to 2300 BC. However, there is a distinct boom in coastal trade from around 800 BC. At the heart of this maritime boom was Kalinga (roughly modern Odisha) and the adjoining areas of West Bengal.

….The Mmahavamsa, an epic written in Pali, tells the founding myth of how the Sinhalese came to Sri Lanka. It is said that at the beginning of the 6th century BC the king of Vanga (i.e Bengal) had a beautiful daughter who was kidnapped by a powerful lion. He kept the princess prisoner in a cave and had a son and daughter by her. The son Simhabahu, grew up to be a strong lad. One day, when the lion was away, he broke open the cave – prison – and escaped with his mother and sister. The lion followed in hot pursuit. Eventually, after several adventurous, Simhabahu faced his father and killed him.

Kharavela’s Revenge

…..Kharavela’s inscriptions suggest that he had defeated the Satvahanas, the Mauryas, the Indo-Greeks, and even the Tamil country in the deep south. Having done all these, he declared that the ‘wheel of conquest’ had been turned – possibly meaning that he had conducted a Vedic Ashwametha – Yaga and declared himself a Chakravarthi (or world conqueror). This would have made him the most powerful Indian ruler of his time. Despite these achievements, Kharavela is almost never mentioned in Indian textbooks because history is written in a way that systematically emphasizes continental viewpoint over the coastal perspective. It is as if political power was naturally centered in some island city like Patliputra or Delhi, and the rest of India must exist as mere provinces.

Arabian Knights

….. As we know, the term ‘Naga’ was often used to refer to people with Oriental features in North East India or in South East Asia (that is, the Sundaland diaspora). The Pallavas are known to have links with kingdoms in South East Asia that used the serpent as a symbol or called themselves the serpent people. As mentioned in Chapter 1, for instance, the remains of the Kadaram kingdom in Kedah, Malaysia are concentrated in an area that is still called the valley of the serpents. Similarly, the multi-headed cobra was the symbol of royalty among the Khmer. It raises the possibility that the Naga princesses who helped found the Pallava dynasty was from South East Asia – maybe a descent of Princess Soma and Kaundinya. Perhaps this explains the especially close links between the Pallavas and the Indianised kingdoms of that part of the world.

Merchants, Temples, and Rice

….The network of temples played an important role in financing this economic model. Unlike their Sumerian and Egyptian contemporaries, Vedic Hindus had preferred simple fire altars to grand religious structures. This changed in later times as temples became the center of social and cultural life. The early medieval period saw a sharp increase in temple building. Much of Indian classical music, dance, drama, sculpture, painting and other art forms evolved in the temples rather than at the royal court. What is less appreciated is that the temples were key to the financing of trade, industry and infrastructure building.

 

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Shaped by prize-winning author Ruchir Sharma’s twenty-five years traveling the world, The Rise and Fall of Nations rethinks economics as a practical art. By narrowing down the thousands of factors that might shape a country’s future, it spells out ten clear rules for identifying the next big winners and losers in the global economy.

Extracts

Growth Hype – The Case for Constant Vigilance

Why is it so difficult for any economy to sustain strong growth? One popular explanation is the middle-income trap, which holds that the poor nation can grow at catch-up speed by making simple improvements such as paving roads but will find it difficult to sustain rapid growth when it hits a middle-income level and needs to develop more advanced industries. The truth, however, is that “development traps” can knock countries off track at any income level. The challenges of creating productive industry –  backed by better banks, schools, and regulators, and fueled by steady infusion investment and credit – do not accumulate and confront an economy all at once. They hound an aspiring nation at every step of the development ladder.

The Geographic Sweet Spot – It’s partly the luck of location

Economic growth has followed existing trade routes since well before the modern era. In the 16th Century the nations of Western Europe suddenly started to grow faster than their rivals in Asia and Latin America; for the first time in history, the inhabitants of one region clearly distanced themselves from all others in terms of average income. In a 2005 article titled “The Rise of Europe”, the development experts Darren Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James Robinson set out to explain this continental boom and found that the answer was a combination of geography and a readiness to exploit it. Between 1500 and 1850, they argued, the boom in Europe was driven mainly by nations with two key advantage; port cities on major Atlantic trade routes, and monarchies that respected private property rights and granted merchants the most latitude to exploit growing trade channels. Thus the economies that led the 16th-century boom in Europe where Britain and the Netherlands, driven early respect for property rights and the thriving Atlantic ports of London and Amsterdam.

The Price of Onions – The Cancer that Kills Growth

I found that in the post-war era low inflation has been a hallmark of every long run of strong economic growth. Nations that post long runs of strong growth are almost always investing a large share of their national income, and that investment creates the strong supply networks that keep inflation low. China, Japan, South Korea, and indeed all the Asian miracles followed this miracle; heavy investment drove economic growth while inflation was kept in check. On my list of 50-56 nations that, since 1960, have posted runs of GDP growth faster than 6% for at least a decade, nearly 3 out of 4 had inflation rates lower than the emerging world average over the course of their runs. This pattern held even in less celebrated booms like Kenya’s in the 1970s and 1980s or Romania’s between 1971 and 1984 when inflation averaged just over 2%, or 18% points below the emerging-world average during that period.

Factories First

… Two kinds of spending drive any economy – investment and consumption – and while in most economies people and governments spend more on consumption, investment is the more important driver of growth and business cycles. Investment spending is usually more volatile than consumer spending, and it helps create new businesses and jobs that put money in consumer’s pockets. It includes investment by both the government and private businesses in the construction of roads, railways, and the like, in plants and equipment from office machines to drill presses, and building from schools to private homes. The basic question for a nation’s economic prospects; is investment rising or falling as a share of the economy? When it is rising, growth is much more likely to accelerate.

The Good, the Average and the Ugly -The Other Americas

…The biggest political shifts are happening where they were least expected. In Latin America, the bad times are pushing countries to the right. Spiraling prices for staple foods and collapsing growth conspired to unseat the left-wing government in Argentina and the left-wing legislature Venezuela. As the price of onions rule warns, rapidly rising prices for basics like onions doom economic prospects and often unseat leaders, particularly when high inflation is accompanied by falling growth and dwindling living standards. One simple rule of thumb is to watch out for countries where inflation is well above the emerging-world average, which has fallen recently to around 4%. In Argentina, the combination of 25% inflation and zero growth toppled President Christina Fernandez De Kirchner and her populist party, which has been in power for twelve years. Meanwhile, to the north in Venezuela, the pain of 100% inflation and -10% GDP growth ended it’s socialist parties hold on the national assembly after 17 years.

 

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