Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Material Progress, Moral Pauperization

The India that can (no longer) say No
The Paradox of Prosperity

by Niranjan Ramakrishnan

"Where freedom is menaced or justice threatened or where aggression takes place, we cannot be and shall not be neutral."

-Jawaharlal Nehru, addressing a joint session of US House and Senate
October 13, 1949

Let us put Nehru's words in context: here is the leader of a country still dependent on foreign aid for food, militarily negligible, a country of crushing poverty, invited to address the Congress of the United States. We watch him treat the superpower as an equal, recalling it to its highest values. It lionizes him. JFK's first State of the Union speech invokes the "soaring idealism of Nehru". In 1962, C. Rajagopalachari (also known as Rajaji, an associate of the Mahatma and a political opponent of Nehru) visits the US and the USSR promoting the importance of nuclear disarmament. President Kennedy listens with rapt attention, later recalling his meeting with Rajagopalachari as "one of the most civilizing influences on me".

It was an era when India was regarded everywhere as a moral superpower, even if it was poor in material wealth. The authority India wielded on the world stage was lopsided, totally out of proportion to its military or economic power. Why was this so? Every country wants its people to eat well, but India, like America, represented something more -- the inspiration of high purpose. Gandhi's freedom movement set minds everywhere on fire. This was followed, after independence, by Nehru's forging of the entirely new paradigm of non-alignment where India refused to trade political allegiance for economic blandishment.

Paradoxically, today, when India is an expanding power, exporting not just food but steel, with rising incomes, foreign acquisitions and a nuclear bomb, she is often viewed as nothing more than 'a country with a middle class of 400 million'. And the moral voice? it hasn't been heard from in years. There was courage in rags, but there is only meekness and timidity in riches. And the bomb, far from emboldening us, seems only to have induced servility. This week, for regularizing a nuclear deal with the US, among other economic aims, India rolls out the red carpet to an American president who has sullied everything inspiring about America.

When Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, India remained mute, likely weighing the forfeiture of any potential contracts in post-war Iraq. How electrifying it would have been for India to resume its role as the world's moral superpower, to condemn the invasion from the rooftops, to recall its ambassador from Washington? India would have become the beacon of the world.

But all that is unimaginable today. For we are now rich, nuclear -- and fearful. In the words of my father, KG Ramakrishnan, "where there was the torment of the soul, there now was the swagger of the body."

Where the country of four hundred million 'subjects' overthrew the mightiest empire known to history, the weight of four hundred million 'consumers' forces a free nation to acquiesce in a fresh imperialism. Far from not remaining neutral in the face of aggression, as Nehru said, India this week is actually feting the aggressor! As Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "How heavy is the toll of sins and wrongs that wealth, power and prestige exact from man."

Niranjan Ramakrishnan can be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com..


Mosur Mohan said...

Beautiful article! It really makes me stop and think about the distance-- and direction-- that India has travelled since Gandhiji's days.

Shah4USCongress said...

Beautiful journalism, insight, and history of India by Niranjan.


Anonymous said...

The path to the Inherent mind has been lost. No longer do people find that sixth sense. That sense, a History actually, that everyone is able to recollect.

In the bhagavatam I find that Brahma holds the Wheels of the universe in his hand.

Ezekiel elaborates further on the Whirling Wheels of the Universe.

As Thoht or El suggests in the Emerald Tablets

The Infinite mind.
from Thoht to Thohtme

3 is the Key

argod said...

"Where the country of four hundred million 'subjects' overthrew the mightiest empire known to history,"

I guess you discount the fact that England was
devastated after the war, bankrupt fighting the war
and wanted to rebuild. They had already drained from India everything that they could already.
Nuclear deal is about energy independence from
saudi arabia which funds all the jihadis and pakistanis. I just don't understand why you can't
see this simple thing. If you want to cry about gandhi
and give credit to him for independence, fine I won't.

Anonymous said...

argod, you might be living in some dream world if you thinks nuclear power is the answer to India's energy problems. bush want to make india and china use the nuclear power so that usa will have no competition for fosil fuel.

argod said...


Yes, I live in a dream world where Peak Oil exists,
Global Warming is coming right around the corner.
All the major rivers in India will dry out in 100 years.
President of India just gave a speech about Thorium.
If you knew basic science which I guess in your world doesn't exist. India already has enough
Uranium to make enough nuclear weapons. It
does not need any help from anyone. So unless
you can fart something out of your ass that will
replace Jatropha and Nuclear then I would suggest
you keep to yourself.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Sitaram Goel predicted long ago, that with the fall of the USSR, the Nehruvian secularists would sell their souls to the Americans. Which is precisely what has happened.

To their credit, the Hindu nationalist BJP didn't send Indian troops to Iraq, and actually built up ties with Iran, Brazil and other third world countries. The current Congress - Communist coalition has ruined our ties with Tehran, and sold out the country to the Americans at the WTO and elsewhere.

So.... the choice facing Indians is Hinduism or Americanism. Let's see which they choose.

Rakesh Dubey said...


First, I find it funny that you, a guest on the blog like anyone else, is asking someone else to keep their opinions to themselves. Some humility is not a bad thing.

Second, I have trouble with your logic. You are actually proving the article right. Unlike anonymous, I think you do raise a valid point, but in your last post you have contradicted yourself. If we are not dependent on anyone (thorium), why are we opening up any of our facilities to anyone?

I personally think nuclearisation has actually increased the insecurity in the subcontinent, both in India and Pak.

There is enough evidence to show that nuclear technology is madness, which is why America quit building a new nuke plant in decades. But we in India run after any discard of the West and still continue to do so.

santanu said...

Came across this beautiful article in Counterpunch and then followed the link . So touching and pithy , you hit the nail right on the head Niranjan.
Argod whether you like it or not Gandhi played a pivotal role in India's independence from British rule and saying that the British would have left anyways is basically negating the role played by the millions in the freedom struggle . Finally as Rakesh pointed out as a guest perhaps one can show a little more civility and not be so insulting .

argod said...

Rakesh Dubey,

You have trouble with my logic. Ok. Let see what is wrong with what Anonymous said. He said "bush want to make india and china use the nuclear power so that usa will have no competition for fosil fuel."
First problem is that India asked for this deal. He is also assuming that India cannot handle nuclear technology where as white man can. He is also
assuming that Oil is not running out which it is already at peak. just look at TheOilDrum.com.

Also, In order to get to Thorium a lot of work is needed. Fast breeder is in R&D. It will take 10+ years in order to bring it in production. It requires plutonium as a seed. That is why India needs this deal, it has limited quantity of uranium which should be saved for strategic reasons. In order to build more nuclear plants; Thus, it is willing to be open to inspections. Obviously you know more that the President of India, All the scientist working on this area. Obviously the Armed forces are not complaining. Only people who are complaining are those against nuclear for idealistic reasons.

Finally, your following statement is really baffling:
"There is enough evidence to show that nuclear technology is madness, which is why America quit building a new nuke plant in decades. But we in India run after any discard of the West and still continue to do so."

So it is not madness Global warming caused by CO2 and NOx. You would rather destroy the planet as long as no one uses Nuclear technology. Talk about logic. France is already getting something like 70% of electricity via Nuclear. The reason US gave up on Nuclear was due to capitalism. The investors were afraid to invest money when coal and Natural gas is cheaper.
So they did not care about the planet, I guess don't either.

I would not have been so insulting if Anonymous had been so insulting but
I guess you can excuse his insinuation that I lived in a dream world.

Where would India be if it had not developed nuclear bomb and pakistan had.
India would be muslim country already. I guess you are in favor of that. I would rather die.

argod said...


I don't think british would have left if India had oil.
But I guess that is hypothetical. I don't think it is question of either or
in my mind. History is not a question of good or evil, there are shades of grey. I think Gandhiji was great leader, did what he could do given the state of mind of the Indian people. But that does not mean you cannot look at what is the reason british gave up. Is it because they were afraid to kill. They had already killed millions by exporting India's food when there was famine in bengal. So a little civil disobedience and press coverage would not have changed anything.

I am willing to be civil as long as it is civil debate, but if you attack me. I will attack you. Anonymous can question my sanity but that is not consider demeaning.

Anonymous said...

mr. dogra, your argument does not make any sense. merely because someone oppose nuclear energy does not mean that he support global warming. seems you are jumping to the conlusion, not me. of course bush is happy because he get to keep the gas price low for us market. he has said it exactly this today after agreement finalized with manmohan. mr. dubey is correct that nuclear energy is risky. i read an article that specially places like kalpakam plant close to the coast with threat of tsunami. you are imagining, no one said only white man can go nuclear. it is mad for all. solution is to reduce consumption of energy not choose from two equally bad ways of polluting.

Anonymous said...

I will let Fareed Zakaria's Newsweek article best describe this blogger's mentality.

"Will the state respond? Built during the British Raj, massively expanded in India's socialist era, it is filled with bureaucrats who are in love with their petty powers and privileges. They are joined by politicians who enjoy the power of patronage. And then there are some journalists and intellectuals who still hold on to some romantic idea of Third World socialism. There are many in India's ruling class who remain deeply uncomfortable with the modern, open, commercial society that they see growing around them."

"This is perhaps the central paradox of India today. Its society is open, eager, confident and ready to take on the world. But its state—its ruling class—is far more hesitant, cautious and suspicious of the changed realities around it. Nowhere is this tension more obvious than in the realm of foreign policy, in the increasingly large and important task of determining how India should fit into the New World."

"While Singh and some others at the top of the Indian government see the world clearly, and see the immense opportunities it opens up for India, many others are blinded by their prejudices. For many Indian elites, it has been comfortable and comforting to look at the world from the prism of a poor, Third World country, whose foreign policy was neutral, detached (and, one might add, unsuccessful). They understand how to operate in that world, whom to bargain with, whom to beg from and whom to be belligerent with. But a world in which India is a great power, in which it moves confidently across the global stage, and in which it is a friend and partner of the most powerful country in history—that is an altogether new and unsettling proposition."

Anonymous said...

While it is a virtue to be optimistic and not dwell on the follies of the past, it tends to give a nostalgic picture that is only partially true in the historical context.

After reading the article, which I admit is extremely well written, one gets the feeling that the Indian leaders of the past had absolute moral clarity and a ‘bigger’ purpose. Take the piece from Nehru’s address that Niranjan has quoted- while it has the usual bombast of a typical Nehru speech, it is just a speech. Actions, they say, speak louder than words. What followed not too long after this speech is more revealing and real- Tibet was literally raped by the Chinese while Nehru (Nero) ‘fiddled’. Again, when China literally steam-rolled India into submission due to Nehru’s miscalculations in the ’62 war- to whom did Nehru go for help? Uncle Sam! So why is it so surprising that India again finds itself in the arms of the US?

It is true that idealism was essential for achieving freedom from the British- but once free, these leaders had to face realism- the demands and the needs of the electorate. As in life, a democracy as it matures has to balance idealism against pragmatism required by its citizens.

Thanks Niranjan for providing this forum for debate!

jai said...

The previous two posts, one quoting Fareed Zakaria, and the other referring to Nehru's helplessness against China, make very good points. I think, however, that they miss the point of Niranjan's article. It is one thing to say that idealism should be tempered with realism, but quite another to imply that idealism has no place. Fareed Zakaria and the other poster miss the main import of the article, which, it seems to me, is the demise of idealism. I'm sure that when Hitler annexed annexed Czechoslovakia, there were enough voices advocating realism. "Munich" is how we now contemptuously refer to this attitude. Similarly, I'm sure the time will come when people will speak with disgust about all the world leaders who did nothing during these historic times.

Fareed Zakaria ignores the complete contempt of international law, and wholesale arrogance based on military might that underlies the so called "post-9-11" world order. That India too has gone along should and will anguish anyone who views India as being cut from a different cloth, as evidently Niranjan does.

Anonymous said...

july 2002.

How to hold on to what you have

Many people in India,under influence of english medium media and
their foreign and domestic agents,have for last 8 years have been lead
to belive that foreifn exchange,foreign money,foreign companies and Stock exchange
is something good for India -a sad misunderstanding to the detriment of Indian economy,people
and Indian nation; while for much benefit to our foreign enemies and their
Indian agents(especially english media).

Though the evidence was there of how Latin America was subjugated to
American-british interests,still India did learn nothing .FOr that the
indian agents for foreign enemies-especially the english newspapers and thier sympathisors are
mostly responsible for that. Remember how so called liberalization started
in India under Rajiv Gandhi when it was talked that foreign based Indians be given special
priviledges to bring money to India.These propagandists today are not
happy that Mr.Sinha is also lookin to NRIs today because these propagandists really wanted
to pave the path for Foreign companies ownned by non-Indians and that is why
the Economic Times today saisd of '98 budget as Swadeshi budget wanting to tap money from VHP peoples
living in foreign lands.It the same Economic Times who was very enthusiatic of Rajiv Gandhi's initiative
to ease NRIs entry tnto Indian market. When apprehension was raised at that time that encoraging NRIs and
all those talk of liberalization will pave the wave of foreign invasion and lose of Indian self sufficiency; then
that argument was pooh poohed.Ofcourse they were never interested in NRIs and wanted India to be slaved to foreign
money and influence. From '84 to ''89 ,the period of Rajive govt. the Indias foreign exchange reseve got depleted
, not only that ,india trade deficiet doubled.And all that liberalization was done to increase export.
To increse export wat was the formula of these foreign agents? To increase Import
of rubbish things! Naturally the foreign exchange crisis came,as it was to come and as it was wished for by
English media in India and abroad. TO solve that,instead of retracing the
steps from disastrous policy, this Narsingha rao,Manmohan singh and The financial secratary Ahullawalia(who thse three are
really the Anglo-American agents in India) brought enslavement of India which was hailed as great
step by Indian english media and ofcourse by thier spiritual masters Anglo-american press(the nubmer one
enemy of India). Thet when that govt. was in minority with out mandate and was even illegal!
^ years hance and inspite of having seen that none of premise promised was ever fullfilled,on
the contraiere opposite , still the propaganda machinery of English media is to prooceed with same,or rather more ,of
that poison of foreign dependence in economy defence and sacial policy.
Even Bajpaiye govt.;instead of declaring Narsingha Rao, Manmohan singh and Ahulluwalia(who is still allowed in Finance minisrty!)
as traitors to India and as foreign interest agents, is treating these traitors as respectable opposition.


spurious pharma industry of britain

decembr 2002.

All this media collusion with the evil design of this
sir(all pirates in english history have been called sirs)richard sykes to
eat up other higher institutions to charge hefty fee on the ground that middle class should bear the true cost
is ludicrous considering that the same people and media have been against any income tax insrease
becasue it would affect the middle class.(though the media's middle england is an ephemerism for plumber' class which is really the prodominant calls of england
One has to examine this richard's track record in glaxo and see what he is driving at. The media is saying in effect that his plan is good as it will draw a lot of money from abroad-so caalled market place of higher education. In other words it is colluding with drawing of money from the rich classes of Thirld world
that is what it wants.
First the flaw is that so called thirld world has better engineering and techinical instituitions than imperial college and the likes.
(This imperial college got prospered on the back of stolen German scince and technology since early 20th century.)

THe calcultaion of richard and media is that england with the help of america(becasue england on her own is an unimportant and impotant country) will pressurise and bully the thirld world leaders to
make policies favourable to english and only englaish trade so that thirld world will get poorer and the elites and rulaers of those thirld world will send their wards and money to england.after all that is what has been
happeneing in last 20 years tha t a thirld rate country like england is not getting any recession while real manufacturing vountries like germay and japan and Asian tiger'e economy has beeen in recession for last 15 years.
It is this calculation which is supported by the english media and english prime minister.
Ofcourse that tony blair is a pimp on behalf of english(and only english) busiess interests and so is this richard.
Take his record in glaxo. WHen a spurious value drug agasint influenza was brought by glaxo then it was hailed a a miracle cure-it was supposed to limit duration of flu from 7 days to 6 days at a cost of 35 pounds. AS this pimpming british government -with all the will to help only english companies-could not approve-through Nice-this drug -the n this richard was telling the
media that the glaxo had assured the govt, that ti would not have pushed the drug so much in england but only in abroad-in other worrd he said that -do not wory abouth rubbishness aband cost of this drug-we will make only the thrld world pay for it. and he didi get his way later all,
IN THE SAME WAY A SPURIOUS DRUG ALLED zYBAN WAS INTRODUCED TO STOP SMOKING-IT CASUED MORE THAN 40 DEATHS AND SEVERAL MISHAPS -BUT THE APROOVAL BODY DID NOT MAKE ANY CRITICISM OF THIS SPURIOUS DRUG.In fact there had been antismoking drugs in market for last 20 years but they were not approved for giving to patients till glaxo's drug was approved. If you look at the way how glaxo marketed other drugs like antiulcer drug(Too costly against competion with no advantage) and
again so caaled anti viral drugs(all of spurious value) then you realize what a big con glaxo under this richard ahs played aganst nHs and the public money. Of course this richard was also saying that university should follow and be in collboraion with industry-in other word not be an indeepdent institution but a stooge for english businees.athat is why the glaxo ' drug -many of spurious value -was not challenged becasue many doctors-during the course of traiing to be consultant -have to rely on industry sponsored research-and can not be critical of industry. In fact most of the research from imperial college and the like is of questinable value and pure lies becasue of tainted money and the man from glaxo.
ofcorse the pimping english media waill fuly support the move-it is others the rest of the world who should give a thump down to this nefarious axis of english business and higher education.