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Understanding Capitalism’s Hidden History from a Stalinist Soviet Photo

The developed economies now require the developing economies to eschew the principles of protectionism and regulations

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Capitalism, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin
Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. Wikimedia

-by Vikas Datta

Jaipur, Jan 22, 2017: What does a Stalin-era photo of Lenin at a revolutionary gathering tell us about the evolution of the world’s developed economies?

It is that the developed economies do now require the developing economies to eschew the principles of protectionism and regulations and follow fully the principles of free market and trade, conveniently forgetting the role that these two factors had played in their own rise, said acclaimed South Korean development economist Ha-Joon Chang.

At a session titled “The Secret History of Capitalism” at the Jaipur Literature Festival’s third day on Saturday, he showed the original photo of Lenin flanked by Trotsky and Lev Kamenev and its Stalinist version where the latter two, who had been purged, have been air-brushed out.

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Chang, who moderator Sanjeev Sanyal noted had “heretical views on economics”, began by telling how Britain had in the 18th century invented protectionism, not free trade which it later championed and how the US had followed its stead.

A reader in the Political Economy of Development at Cambridge and author of books like “Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism”, “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism” and “Economics: The User’s Guide”, which focus on the double standards followed by the developed nations and international lending institutions and seek debunk received wisdom on economics, Chang said he had not obtained this information “by hacking the IMF” or “been told it by a old man in a remote Italian monastery” but relied it from open sources.

“But the problem is that economists now don’t know it and developed nations make excuses if you bring it up. It is like abolishing schools if some people don’t do too well in them,” he said, stressing the need for a change to a more equitable economic system in the world,

Chang observed that this needed strengthening of democracy, not necessarily the Western type, but one in which there is oversight, vigilance and checks and balances that crony-free systems come up.

Calling for an institutionalized mechanism for industry, he clarified that he was not calling for “compulsive Soviet planning” system but an open and transparent process, say a vision document, which can serve the needs of a country and its people, rather than a narrow section of the elite. (IANS)

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Attention Readers! Here are Five Books to Look Forward to in November 2017

While October saw a diverse bookshelf, ranging from "Finding my Virginity," by Richard Branson to "The Bhojpuri Kitchen," by Pallavi Nigam Sahay, the upcoming month is more about concrete titles by well-known faces.

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Looking for books to read in November? We have got you covered! Pixabay

New Delhi, October 30, 2017 : With the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Man Booker Prize – the two most coveted literary honors – having been awarded earlier in October, the literary season has indeed set in.

Two literature festivals have just concluded in the national capital. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be announced in about two weeks, while the Jaipur Literature Festival is also round the corner. What better time for publishing houses to release the most-awaited books of the year?

While October saw a diverse bookshelf, ranging from “Finding my Virginity,” by Richard Branson to “The Bhojpuri Kitchen,” by Pallavi Nigam Sahay, the upcoming month is more about concrete titles by well-known faces.

Here are five books we can’t wait to read this November

1. “The Book of Chocolate Saints” by Jeet Thayil (Aleph)

One of the most-awaited literary books of the year by Jeet Thayil, a past winner of the DSC prize, the Sahitya Akademi Award and a finalist of the Man Booker Prize. In incandescent prose, Thayil tells the story of Newton Francis Xavier, blocked poet, serial seducer of young women, reformed alcoholic (but only just), philosopher, recluse, all-round wild man and India’s greatest living painter. At the age of 66, Xavier, who has been living in New York, is getting ready to return to the land of his birth to stage one final show of his work (accompanied by a mad bacchanal). Narrated in a huge variety of voices and styles, all of which blend seamlessly into a novel of remarkable accomplishment, “The Book of Chocolate Saints” is the sort of literary masterpiece that only comes along once in a very long time.

2. “Conflicts of Interest” by Sunita Narain (Penguin)

One of India’s foremost environmentalists, Sunita Narain gives a personal account of her battles as part of the country’s Green Movement. While outlining the enormous environmental challenges that India faces today, Narain says political interests often scuttle their effective resolution. She recounts some widely reported controversies triggered by research undertaken by her along with her team at the Centre for Science and Environment, such as the pesticides in colas report, air pollution research in Delhi and endosulfan research in Karnataka, among others. Narain also includes an ‘environmental manifesto’, a blueprint for the direction India must take if it is to deal with the exigencies of climate change and environmental degradation.

3. “Life among the Scorpions” by Jaya Jaitly (Rupa)

From arranging relief for victims of the 1984 Sikh riots, to joining politics under firebrand leader George Fernandes, to becoming president of the Samata Party — a key ally in the erstwhile NDA Government – Jaya Jaitly’s rise in Indian mainstream politics invited both awe and envy. All this even as she continued her parallel fight for the livelihood of craftsmen on the one hand, and conceptualised and ensured establishment of the first Dilli Haat in 1994, on the other. With all the backstories of major events in Indian politics between 1970 and 2000, including her experience of dealing with the Commission of Inquiry and courts regarding the Tehelka sting, the story of Jaya Jaitly makes for a riveting read. A powerful narrative on why being a woman in politics was for her akin to being surrounded by scorpions; this is one of the best books set for release and a hard hitting memoir that offers a perspective on the functioning of Indian politics from a woman’s point of view.

4. “Chase Your Dreams” by Sachin Tendulkar (Hachette India)

Why should adults have all the fun? In his career spanning 24 years, hardly any records have escaped Sachin Tendulkar’s masterly touch. Besides being the highest run scorer in Tests and ODIs, he also uniquely became the first and only batsman to score 100 international centuries and play 200 Tests. His proficient stroke-making is legendary, as is his ability to score runs in all parts of the field and all over the world. And Tendulkar has now come up with this uniquely special edition of his autobiography for young readers.

5. “China’s India War” by Bertil Lintner (Oxford University Press)

The Sino-Indian War of 1962 delivered a crushing defeat to India: not only did the country suffer a loss of lives and a heavy blow to its pride, the world began to see India as the provocateur of the war, with China ‘merely defending’ its territory. This perception that China was largely the innocent victim of Nehru’s hostile policies was put forth by journalist Neville Maxwell in his book “India’s China War,” which found readers in many opinion makers, including Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. For far too long, Maxwell’s narrative, which sees India as the aggressor and China as the victim, has held court. Nearly 50 years after Maxwell’s book, Bertil Lintner’s “China’s India War” puts the ‘border dispute’ into its rightful perspective. Lintner argues that China began planning the war as early as 1959 and proposes that it was merely a small move in the larger strategic game that China was playing to become a world player — one that it continues to play even today. (IANS)

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Saket Suman and was first published at IANS. Saket can be contacted at saket.s@ians.in)

 

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The Dangerous Ideology behind Communism: Why is it a Delusion?

Read how the dangerous and radical ideology of Communism led to some of the darkest moments in the 20th century.

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Dangerous ideology of communism
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the greatest critique of Soviet communism. Wikimedia
  • In search of a utopian state, communism was born and instantly attracted a number of followers
  • The dangerous ideology was put to test in the 20th century in places like China, Cambodia and the Soviet Union
  • It is important to learn from the horrors of the 20th century that communism is not the answer to a perfect state, rather, far from it

June 14, 2017: In 1848 the ‘Communist Manifesto’ was published that propounded the dangerous ideology of Communism. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels discovered that they had the same thoughts which resulted in the emergence of this political-economic idea.

Communism rapidly grew in popularity, partly because it is the easiest idea to sell to the poor. The ideology seeks a transition “from each according to their abilities; to each according to their needs”. Simply put, everything should be divided equally between everyone.

Many cultures and countries tried to implement communism in the 20th century and we often do not realize the severe consequences of how that turned out. The totalitarian regimes that were in pursuit of a virtuous society were brutal and that is an understatement. They had no regard for human life.

China, Cambodia, Cuba, Soviet Union, all tried communism. The kind of misery that the civilians of these countries underwent is horrific to read. We take North Korea, for example, as a joke today but the situation there is adverse.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, an incredible critique of the Soviet Communism, estimates 66 million people murdered by Joseph Stalin. Even higher up is Mao Zedong of 80 million people. These numbers are no joke. Hitler killed 6 million people and we talk about it but nobody ever talks about what happened in the Soviet Union or China.

The reason for that could be because communism touches the compassionate people deeply. It feels good to be fair and equal. But here is the thing about communist ideology and the leftist ideology at large- what feels good doesn’t necessarily do good. However, it is immoral to steal from others and that’s what communism is- in theory as well as in practice.

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In an attempt to establish a utopian state, millions of lives were taken. Families either starved to death or froze to death in the Soviet camps.

The Soviet Union collapsed because of the weak economy. Agreed, Glasnost and Perestroika were the final blow, but the basic reason was backwardness of the nation. While the United States and other capitalist countries enjoyed prosperity and better standards of living, the Soviet Union was poor and struggling.

Communists argue that what happened in those places actually wasn’t communism at all. That is an arrogant argument. We cannot risk another 100 million lives to give communism ‘another chance’.

It is unnerving to think that so many people are falling prey to the communist ideology. One out of Five Social Scientist is a communist! They subscribe to the hammer and sickle symbol of communism.

Dangerous ideology of communism
Hammer and Sickle, a sign of Communism. Wikimedia

It should be understood that communism is based on force, while the capitalist world that we live and criticize so often, is based on consent. Consensual transactions result in the benefit of both the parties and there is nothing wrong about that. It is rightly said that communists do not think about uplifting the poor people as much as they seek to bring down the rich. 

Communism does not reward an individual’s hard work and labor. And consequently, when there are no rewards, there is simply no efforts to succeed or do well. What is the point when everybody is equal?

Part of the reason that the United States has done tremendously well and is a great power because it favors free markets (capitalism). It is only in a free market economy that innovation and choices emerge. Capitalism improves the standard of living and brings prosperity to the nation by rewarding individuals for their labor.

Milton Friedman, one of the greatest modern economists, had said “This world runs of individuals pursuing their self-interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. The only cases in which the masses have escaped from poverty is in cases where they have had capitalism and free trade. The record of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving a lot of the ordinary people than free enterprise”. 

Today, when communism should be absolutely irrelevant, many people still advocate it. The emergence of libertarian philosophy is a mirror copy of communism. Putting either ideology into policy would result in a catastrophe.

Communism is a delusion. It is a radical transformation in the individual if they decide to apply it. It constructs an illusion that makes the individual perceive he is doing the right thing but in reality, it is just a radical and extreme measure that puts the societal order at risk.

– by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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British Library to host 70 years of India-Britain Cultural relations of Jaipur Literature Festival

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New Delhi, April 21, 2017: The British Library will be transformed like never before as the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival animates its iconic spaces for the first time in celebration as part of significant 70 years of India-Britain cultural relations.

Held for two days on May 20-21, the fourth London edition of the ZEE JLF@The British Library will present a sumptuous showcase of South Asia’s literary heritage, oral and performing arts, music, cinema and illusion, books and ideas, dialogue and debate, Bollywood and politics in the context of this broader view of India and its relationship to the Britain.

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The speakers at the programmer include: Oscar-winning British director Stephen Frears, Swapan Dasgupta, Shashi Tharoor, Shrabani Basu, Neel Madhav, Philip Norman, Tahmima Anam, Sarvat Hasin, Amit Chaudhuri, Kunal Basu, Amit Chaudhuri, Meera Syal, Prajwal Parajuly and Lila Azam Zanganeh, Anita Anand along with William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale.

ZEE JLF@The British Library is the first of five cultural strands which form part of the Year of UK-India of Culture in 2017, celebrating the deep cultural ties and exchange in what is a year of great significance for the world’s largest democracy as India marks 70 years as an independent democratic republic.

“In only a decade the Jaipur Literature Festival has grown from 14 lost tourists to third of a million people and it’s now the biggest festival of literature in the world. We can’t wait to bring its energy and colour to the British Library: our Jaipur-on-Thames,” author and ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Co-Director William Dalrymple said in a statement.

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Namita Gokhale, author and ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Co-Director said: “Delighted that the fourth edition of JLF in London will be hosted by the British Library. London is a uniquely cosmopolitan and literary city, and we look forward to celebrating diversity through a series of vibrant sessions that reflect the special spirit of Jaipur.”

Sanjoy Roy, Producer, ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, said: “Our collaboration with the British Library is reflective of the shared history between the sub-continent and the UK. The festival will continue to be a platform for diverse voices and will celebrate 70 years of India’s independence.”

“The British Library is delighted to be hosting the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival this year as we celebrate the UK-India Year of Culture. The exciting programme reflects the richness of this new cultural partnership,” Jamie Andrews, Head, Culture and Learning, The British Library, said in a statement. (IANS)