Monday December 18, 2017

Industrial Revolution: How India financed Britain’s growth story

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By Harshmeet Singh

India’s biggest contribution to the Industrial Revolution in Britain was the finance.  With British earning tonnes of silver and gold by exporting Indian products through bullion trading, the capital investment for Industrial Revolution never faced any shortage.

How did British pluck the feathers of the Golden Bird

With the British getting the revenue collection rights (diwani) from the hitherto Mughal emperors, they started getting enough local currency to run their operations in the country and finance their wars against the French (who were trying to capture South India) and other Indian kings in different parts of the country.

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But since the local currency was futile outside the Indian land, the British came up with a different plan to satisfy their hunger. Before the British interference, India was a well known exporter of processed goods. The traders used to receive the payment of their goods in bullion (equivalent gold or silver) form. This soon changed and the farmers were forced to cultivate what the British thought was useful for them – opium and indigo. The opium grown by Indian farmers (who are offered petty rates by the British) was traded by the British to the Chinese traders, in return for silver, which was universally acceptable.

Sudden surge in the fashion market back in Europe gave an opportunity to the East Indian Company to make profits by exporting indigo dye from India.

India’s curse

India’s spectacular wealth attracted invaders and travellers alike. Infatuated by the Indian wealth, the British came to India to set up their business and ‘civilize’ Indian citizens in the 17th century.

With no universally acceptable currency at that time, a country’s wealth was deduced by taking into account the metals and minerals possessed by a kingdom. So intrigued were the people about Indian wealth that a number of expeditions were launched to find out the shortest route to India. It was during one such expedition that Christopher Columbus mistakenly discovered America while he was looking for India, the land of riches and spices! The stories of India’s wealth spread far and wide, which gave India the name ‘Golden Bird’.

Too many nations chasing India

In 1600, Queen Elizabeth I gave a charter to the East India Company, which gave it the sole right to trade with the East. This implied that apart from the EIC, no other British trading group would be allowed to trade in the East. At that time, most trading companies believed in excluding the competition to buy cheap and sell hefty. But the royal charter didn’t stop other European powers from capturing the lucrative Eastern markets. Before the British EIC reached India, the Portuguese, led by Vasco da Gama, had already reached Goa. Vasco da Gama is thus credited with discovering the sea route to India in 1498. Soon enough, the Dutch and French also joined the race to get a piece of cake, known as India.

With all the European powers eyeing the same Indian products, things were set for a series of battles. The high quality Indian cotton and silk was a probable jackpot for them. Other desirable products included cloves, pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. With none of the trading companies looking for reconciliation, eliminating the rivals was the only option, and thus followed some devastating battles between the trading companies. In the 17th and 18th centuries, incidences of ship sinking and route blocking were common. In the end, the Dutch conquered Indonesia whereas the British took India and Sri Lanka under their control.

With not many happy memories from our 17th to 19th century history, we can surely be proud for giving Industrial Revolution to the world!

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World’s No. 1 opium-producing Country: Afghanistan’s illicit Poppy Harvest on the Rise Again in 2017

A new United Nations survey said Friday the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has increased by 10 percent, from 183,000 to 201,000 hectares, compared to the previous year, leading to a significant rise in the production of illicit opium.

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An Afghan man walks through a poppy field in Surkhroad district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, 14, 2017. Source-VOA

The world’s No. 1 opium-producing country, Afghanistan, is braced for an exploding poppy harvest this year, as farmers are cultivating the illicit crop in areas where it has never grown before.

“Unfortunately, the narcotics production is on the rise this year,” Javed Qaem, Afghan deputy counternarcotics minister, told international donors in Kabul Tuesday. “We are concerned that narcotics would increase this year, including in areas and provinces where previously we had zero opium production.”

A new United Nations survey said Friday the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has increased by 10 percent, from 183,000 to 201,000 hectares, compared to the previous year, leading to a significant rise in the production of illicit opium. The illicit drug is fueling insecurity, violence and insurgency among other problems to discourage private and public investment in Afghanistan, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said in its survey report.

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Qaem’s comments come amid growing international concern that the Taliban, who are fighting Afghan government troops in rural areas of the country, are fueling the poppy trade by engaging in trafficking and skimming hundreds of millions dollars in profit to fuel their militancy.

Taliban insurgents, according to U.S. officials, net 60 percent of their war chest from narcotics.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, March, 16, 2017, after being sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, March, 16, 2017, after being sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.

Top producer of opium

Afghanistan is thought to produce an estimated 90 percent of the world’s heroin. As poppy cultivation spikes, U.S. intelligence officials warn that the war-torn country is likely to see more armed violence this year.

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“The intelligence community assesses that the political and security situation in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through 2018, even with a modest increase in [the] military assistance by the United States and its partners,” U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a Senate hearing last week.

Since 2002, the U.S. has spent more than $8.5 billion on counternarcotics in Afghanistan — about $1.5 million a day, according to the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

In addition to war, opium fuels corruption and organized crime in Afghanistan, a country already ranked among the five most corrupt states in the world by Transparency International.

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Only 13 of the country’s 34 provinces were reported poppy-free in 2016, and this number has dropped into single digits this year, Afghan officials say.

Areas of cultivation increase

Afghan authorities said poppies, which traditionally have been grown in southern provinces, have found fertile lands in several northern and northeastern provinces, including Balkh and Jawzjan.

A large-scale increase also is expected in provinces with previously little opium crops, such as northwestern Badghis and Ghor.

“Opium is cultivated in almost half of the province, including areas under the government influence,” a resident in northeastern Baghlan province told VOA on condition of anonymity for safety concerns. “Poppy crops are seen everywhere in the northeastern region. Badakhshan — which borders Tajikistan and China — is the epicenter of narcotics in the north.”

Afghan farmers work on a poppy field in the Gereshk district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2016.

Afghan farmers work on a poppy field in the Gereshk district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2016.

Helmand province a top producer

Around 50 percent of the poppy crop in Afghanistan is produced in southern Helmand province, which borders Pakistan.

The Afghan government says the increase in drug production and trafficking is taking place mostly in conflict-hit areas.

“Opium cultivation, production and trafficking take place in remote areas that are under the control of militants, terrorists and the Taliban,” said Afghan General Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, the deputy interior minister for counternarcotics.

The Afghan government says it, along with aid agencies, has been trying to help Afghans find a sustainable alternative crop source. But those efforts appear to be failing.

Afghan counternarcotics police said they last year seized almost 650 tons of contraband drugs. The confiscated drugs included raw opium, heroin and hashish. Around 2,683 smugglers and traffickers, including 67 women, were arrested last year, Ahmadi said.

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Experts say worsening security and immediate economic benefits for farmers are major reasons for the rise in poppy cultivation.

“A satanic triangle of smugglers, terrorists and corrupt government officials is involved in drug production and trafficking,” Haroon Rashid Sherzad, former Afghan acting minister of counternarcotics, told VOA. “Security is an important reason, but several other factors fuel the drug production and trade in Afghanistan. Corruption at the local government levels encourages poppy cultivation.”

Afghan response is lacking

Experts also believe that the increase is partly due to weak counternarcotics efforts by the government.

“The government lacks political will to fight opium production,” Abdul Aziz, a Kabul-based counternarcotics expert, told VOA. “For the last 16 years, the government has done little to rid the country of narcotics and provide alternatives to farmers.”

According to Sherzad, counternarcotics efforts require a comprehensive approach and coordination among government departments, which, he said, is lacking. He added that “narco-entrepreneurs” control large portions of government lands in several provinces where they cultivate poppies. (VOA)

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Here is why varied tribes of India are marking separate Independence Day on August 31!

About 150 communities known as Vimukt Jati or denotified tribes (DNT's) were stated as the 'criminal tribes' by the British Government under the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA)

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Baiga Tribe. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

August 31, 2016: The entire nation was reborn to freedom and liberty on the historic day of August 15, 1947, as we achieved Independence and established India as a free country. Hardly considering the fact that not the whole nation was able to pursue its freedom and celebrate, we celebrate the day as our Independence day.

Therefore, like every consecutive year, this year too- August 15 was celebrated as the 70th Independence day of the nation but being least bothered with the lesser known fact, that a particular section in our society is differentiated from this celebration and cornered from the society.

About 150 communities known as Vimukt Jati or denotified tribes (DNT’s) were stated as the ‘criminal tribes’ by the British Government under the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) and they could only mark their Vimukti Diwas (Liberation Day) after waiting for five more years, on August 31, 1952. This happened only when the CTA was repealed across India.

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These communities are now ready to celebrate an additional Independence day in India and August 31, 2016, marks their 65 years of their liberation. Even though these communities are differentiated, today all of them will be standing together. While this can be called the largest gathering as this will be the day of celebration as well as protest. The event took place at the famous site of Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, reported a news portal.

Today these denotified tribes are free from the label of ‘criminal tribes’ but they still have to face the dishonour from the contemporary society. As they hold a history of hereditary criminals from their communities. These denotified tribes include roughly 20 million people that are scattered across the country, but the similar label of ‘Criminal tribes’ stated by the Criminal Tribes Act unites the vast population.

The law was enacted in the year 1871 that labelled these communities as criminals from birth.

The communities were restricted from basic rights and were supervised at every step on a daily basis. They were forced into labour settlements and penal colonies on the Andaman islands. All this disgrace could stop only after their denotification in the year 1952. At this time roughly 3.5 million people fall under the tag of ‘criminal tribes’ communities.

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Even though being free from stated as ‘Criminal tribes,’ these communities still face some or the other discrimination in the society, due to their history and association of some of the tribes in the criminal activities. Therefore, for a handful of people the whole tribe is disgraced and this has become a matter of concern. Apart from that, further, poverty and illiteracy pull them back.

Many of these tribes came together after the law was enacted in 1952. These tribes came to celebrate their ‘Vimukti Diwas’ or liberation day on August 31 by organising small celebration or local affairs.

As the time passed, the tribes gathered in large numbers for their demands to be heard. Though a lot is done in the society to support them, but these turned out to be shallow and volatile attempts which resulted in no conclusion.

These tribal communities are still differentiated in the contemporary Indian society and this year, 2016, marks their 65th Independence day. These tribes only demand liberty and acceptance from people around them.

prepared by Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu of NewsGram with inputs from various sources. Twitter: @jagpreet_ks9

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Ayodhya: A Book claims Ram Temple was Destroyed by Aurangzeb not Babur

The book has given a new dimension to the history of Ayodhya and provides a new perspective that is contrary to the common belief

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Babri Masjid Demolition. Image source: newsworldindia.in
  • A book claimed that Ayodhya was under the reign of Aurangzeb, when the Ram temple was demolished
  • The author has tried to establish that a temple did exist at the site in question at Ayodhya by quoting many Sanskrit, English and French scholars
  • Kunal served as an Officer on Special Duty in Ayodhya from 1990 to 1992

NEW DELHI: With Uttar Pradesh polls ahead, once again, the Ayodhya issue is back in spotlight. A new book titled ‘Ayodhya Revisited’ gives a new perspective to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid controversy. Penned by Kishore Kunal, a former Gujarat cadre IPS officer of 1972 batch, the book claimed that it was under the reign of Aurangzeb not Babur, when the Ram temple was demolished.

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Kunal, who hails from Bihar was the President of Bihar Board of Religious Trusts, said the TOI report. He served as an Officer on Special Duty in Ayodhya from 1990 to 1992 to the then Union home minister and had an insider’s view of the goings-on in the dispute. After retirement, he became the Vice Chancellor of KSD Sanskrit University at Darbhanga.

Kunal said, the book is based on facts and immense research. With references to original sources and after thorough scientific investigation, it propounds a new thesis, which demolishes many popular perceptions like it was Babur who built the mosque in 1528 AD.

Babri Mosque prior to its destruction in 1992. Image Source:soundvision.com

According to the TOI report, Kunal argued that Mughal rulers with the exception of Aurangzeb who was a fanatic, were quite liberal and extended patronage to all religions. “All the Mughal emperors from Babur to Shahjahan were magnanimous and liberal rulers and the Bairagis of Ayodhya enjoyed patronage of the first four nawabs of Awadh.”

Kunal stated that Babar had not visited Ayodhya or ordered demolition of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple there but rather it was Aurangzeb who did it.

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In another report by HT, Kunal has accused Francis Buchanan, who surveyed Ayodhya in 1813-14, of erroneously crediting the mosque to Babar by drawing upon a ‘spurious inscription’ that contained a ‘fabricated portion’, which read that it was built by Mir Baqi at the command of Babar.

Image Source: ndtv.com
Ayodhya Revisited. A book by Kishore Kunal. Image Source: ndtv.com

Through his book, Kunal has tried to establish that a temple did exist at the site in question at Ayodhya by quoting many Sanskrit, English and French scholars. He has heavily relied upon literary sources of foreign travel accounts and archaeological excavation reports.

G B Patnaik , former Chief Justice of India has written the foreword of the book. He said, the author has given a “new dimension to the history of Ayodhya” that challenges the present view and provides a new perspective that is contrary to the common belief.

Kunal believes that the book will provide an insight to the true history of the issue that has created so much tension in the past and transform the thinking of the people on the matter.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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