My article “India’s Money” in the *Cayman Financial Review*, July 2012

India’s money

India was recognised and received the comity of nations when it signed the Treaty of Versailles as a victor, later becoming a Dominion and successor-state of British India in 1947, and a sovereign republic in 1950. Pakistan emerged as a new state created out of British India in 1947, remaining a Dominion until 1956 when it became an Islamic republic.

India was an original member of the League of Nations, a signatory to the UN’s San Francisco Declaration, a participant at Bretton Woods, and an original member of the IMF.

Yet some 65 years later, sovereign India has failed to develop a currency universally acceptable as a freely convertible world money. Nor do trade, monetary, fiscal or political conditions appear such that the rupee can become a hard currency of the world economy easily or very soon.

JM Keynes in his first book, a century ago, gave a masterly survey of the immediate monetary history. The rupee had been on a silver standard until 1893 when an attempt at bimetallism failed; instead India stumbled into the 20th century on a modified gold standard that chanced to fulfil desiderata known since Ricardo, namely “the currency media used in the internal circulation are confined to notes and cheap token coins, which are made to act precisely as if they were bits of gold by being made convertible into gold for foreign payment purposes”.

Ie, the rupee was legal tender at home and convertible into sterling for international payments in London, the price being set at 1s 4d. Gold at £3.17s.10½d until August 1914 meant a rupee price of Rs 31 per troy oz.- long-forgotten now when gold retails at Rs 90,000 per troy oz, measuring an average annual rate of inflation in the gold price of about 8.5 per cent for the century.

Until 1947 the rupee remained subservient to British policy. Sterling payments included paying for merchandise imports, dividends and repayments on British business, as well as iniquitous “home charges” imposed by Britain to rule India as an unfree imperial dependency. Britain “returned to gold” in 1925, and did so notoriously at the same price as before though the rupee was revalued to 1s 6d.; Indian businessmen complained to no avail that this hurt exports and worsened the large deflation caused by the Depression. The same continued after sterling became a paper money again in September 1931, backed only by London’s position as a financial capital.

India remained a major trading nation during 1870-1914 with a share of world manufactured exports as high as 4 per cent. Keynes found Britain (the world’s largest exporter), exporting most to India; while Germany (the world’s fastest growing economy) received 5 per cent of its imports from India and sent 1½ per cent of its exports to India, making India the sixth largest exporter to Germany (after the USA, Russia, Britain, Austria-Hungary, France) and eighth largest importer from it (after Britain, Austria-Hungary, Russia, France, the USA, Belgium, Italy).

As of 1917-1918, India’s macroeconomics appear idyllic: an export surplus of £61.42 million, official reserves of £66.53 million, total claims on the rest of the world of £127.5 million (32.85 million troy ozs of gold), and a 1916-17 budget surplus of £6,594,885. The rupee, though legal tender only on the subcontinent, became what we might call a “super convertible” currency in being widely accepted in markets and stock markets from the Middle East through South East Asia to Australia.

Even at mid-century, India (without Pakistan) was still a trading power with 2 per cent of world exports and a rank of 16 in the world economy after the USA, Britain, West Germany, France, Canada, Belgium, Holland, Japan, Italy, Australia, Sweden, Venezuela, Brazil, Malaya and Switzerland. But then a collapse occurred over several decades to near insignificance in world trade and payments, from which India has yet to recover.

Of world merchandise exports, the subcontinent’s share fell to less than 1 per cent, and of Asia’s to less than 6 per cent, India accounting for two thirds; Malaysia alone accounted for more. Among 11 major developing countries (Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Israel, Yugoslavia), India’s share of manufactured exports fell from 65 per cent in 1953 to 51 percent in 1960 to 31 per cent in 1966 to 10 per cent by 1973. And this was before the entry of China.

Even India’s legendary textiles lost ground steadily. As of 1962-71, India held an average annual market-share of almost 20 per cent of manufactured textile imports into the USA; this fell to 10 per cent by 1972-81 and less than 5 per cent by 1982-91. India’s share of Britain’s imports of textile manufactures fell from 16 per cent in the early 1960s to less than 4 per cent in the 1990s. India may not be among the top thirty merchandise exporters of the world today, although there has been new growth seen in areas like pharmaceuticals and computer-services.

Causes of the collapse include Western protectionism as well as emergence of new technologies and new competitors willing to use these. But it was largely policy-induced. Between 1939 and 1945/46, Britain clamped draconian exchange-controls on what remained of the Sterling Area (which, besides Eqypt and Iraq, included the Empire and Commonwealth without Canada, Newfoundland and Hong Kong). The controls were relative to currencies outside the Sterling area, principally the US dollar.

The new India and new Pakistan, far from ending these war-time controls of their respective rupees (as Britain would itself do gradually with the pound) instead made them more draconian to include the Sterling area as well. Hence the Ricardo-Keynes dictum was breached – the rupee remained an inexpensive medium for internal circulation but was no longer convertible externally, indeed it had become open to being debauched the more easily.

Milton Friedman in November 1955 argued to the government of India that the new sovereign country should remove exchange controls completely and have a freely convertible rupee at a floating market-determined price on the pattern of the Canadian dollar, along with a steady predictable monetary climate. Far from debating such a proposal, the government ignored his advice, and his document was suppressed until I published it 34 years later in May 1989 at the University of Hawaii.

Intricate barriers, subsidies and licensing (based on war-time “essentiality” and “actual user” criteria) continued, now in name of import-substitution and “planning”. Major industries were nationalised, which became leading consumers of imports obtained by administrative rationing of foreign exchange earned by export sectors. Domestic business predictably diverted to the large protected markets that resulted. Import restrictions of consumer goods and gold expectedly led to smuggling and open corruption in Customs.

A vast parallel or “black” economy arose with its thriving “hawala” sector. The exchange-rate was seen as yet another administered price, not a reflection of demand for foreign relative to domestic moneys. Foreign currency earnings from exports were confiscated in exchange for rupees at the administered rate, then rationed first to meet foreign debt repayments and government expenditures abroad like maintenance of embassies, military imports, official foreign travel, etc; then for import of food, fertilisers, petroleum and inputs required by government firms; then for import demands of those private firms successful in obtaining import licenses; lastly, to satisfy demands of the public at large for purposes like travel or study abroad.

Not only was extension of war-time exchange-controls seen as axiomatic, the massive war-time deficit finance via money creation that the British had indulged in with India’s public finances, came to be permanently institutionalised in the name of socialist planning.

On 7 December 1952 the planners said: “The raison d’ être of a planned economy is the fullest mobilisation of available resources and their allocation so as to secure optimum results. There is no doubt that the Reserve Bank, which is a nationalised institution, will play its appropriate part in furthering economic development along agreed lines”’; and on 14 May 1956: “Insofar as government expenditure is financed by central bank credit, there is a direct increase in currency in circulation”.

The fate of India’s paper money was sealed. Just as the Bank of England could “theoretically lend the full amount” the UK government was authorised to spend by Parliament, and the US government had assurance the Federal Reserve “could and would see that the Treasury was supplied with all the money that it needed for war finance beyond those secured by taxation and by borrowing from non-bank sources”, so government of India expenditure over seven decades has been for all practical purposes assured of automatic limitless financing via money creation. Since more than two dozen state governments have no money-creating powers, their debts also effectively accrue to the government of India.

The next mention of money supply was 43 years later on April 5 1999 in the “Ninth Plan” when it was said a “viable monetary posture” was “to accept an average inflation rate in the region of 7 per cent per annum, which would justify a growth rate of money supply (base money) of 16 per cent per annum”. Recent money supply growth has been near 19-21 per cent per annum, and inflation properly measured has been well above 10 per cent. Hidden in thousands of pages of the “Tenth Plan” dated 21 December, 2002, a half century after “planning” started, is found it being said it is “financed almost entirely by borrowing… India’s public finance inherits the consequence of fiscal mismanagement in the past”.

Had the rupee been a hard currency, the vast amounts of government debt that have accumulated today could have been evaluated at world prices. As things stand, the value at world prices of the asset-sides of banks becomes an unknown, making profitability uncertain of the domestic securities’ market in general. This compounds myriad problems of the mostly nationalised banking system, candidly surveyed over years by James A. Hanson and summarised in his sentence: “The Ministry of Finance continues to run the public sector banks”. AC Harberger a decade ago called for “thorough understanding of the facts” and a “serious study of India’s fiscal deficits”.

“Where are they being parked? At what cost? And how much vacant parking space remains to be occupied before major problems emerge?” “… the authorities appear to have little sense of alarm about these deficits. Does this represent a myopic and irresponsible vision, aimed at surviving the moment while passing an ever greater burden to future governments and later generations? Or does it mean the authorities have studied the problem well, and that today’s deficits are being placed in convenient parking lots that still have plenty of unused capacity?”

As no such study has taken place, the possibility of “a myopic and irresponsible vision” takes credence. Besides, foreign lines of credit have become squeezed or closed by separate crises in the USA, Europe and Japan. India is far from being a creditor country able to help out with any world problems at present.

The last 20 years have seen liberalisation in consumer goods imports and travel and study abroad, and the rupee is no longer an administrative price for current account purposes. Indian firms have been permitted to do business abroad, Indian residents to send large cash gifts to relatives abroad, as well as relative liberalisation of gold imports. A natural technological revolution has been underway inducing real growth in India as in the rest of Asia, where populations are large and families stable: even small increases in capital-per-head, combined with modern communication technologies making travel or migration unnecessary, may explain rapid growth in productivity and output.

To move towards a currency of integrity today that befits the real growth requires comprehensive candid study of the structure of government liabilities and expenditures, systematic cleaning of government accounts at their roots, seeking to raise productivity of government investments and expenditures by better use of the audit function, as well as bringing coherence to fiscal and monetary policy through institutional changes in the processes of public decision-making, specifically, separating the banking and central banking functions from the Treasury function, while bringing the planning function to be one serving the Treasury function rather than pretending to be above it.

Waste or ostentation in public expenditure itself creates incentives for evasion of taxes; indeed, the untaxed economy may even have caused an underestimation of real growth being made. The road exists to be taken though it may be one that demands excessive political courage.

The author thanks Dr Warren Coats for constructive comments on earlier versions of this article.

Endnotes

  1. Friedman, Milton “A Memorandum to the Government of India 1955”, in Roy & James (1989).

  2. Friedman, Milton & Rose, Two Lucky People, 1998.

  3. Hanson, James A. “Indian Banking: Market Liberalization and the Pressures for Institutional and Market Framework Reform” in Krueger & Chinoy (2004).

  4. Harberger, Arnold C “Parking the Deficit – The Uncertain Link between Fiscal Deficits and Inflation-cum-Devaluation”, in Krueger & Chinoy (2004).

  5. Keynes, John Maynard, Indian Currency and Finance, 1913.

  6. Krueger, Anne O. & Sajjid Z. Chinoy (eds) Reforming India’s External, Financial and Fiscal Policies, 2004.

  7. Roy, Subroto, Pricing, Planning and Politics: A Study of Economic Distrtions in India, 1984.

  8. Roy, Subroto & WE James (eds), Foundations of India’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s, 1989, 1992

 

My article “India’s Money” in the *Cayman Financial Review*, July 2012, is linked here.

Of related interest:

Monetary Integrity and the Rupee

Towards Making the Indian Rupee a Hard Currency of the World Economy: An analysis from British times until the present day

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Pakistan’s Point of View (Or Points of View) on Kashmir: My As Yet Undelivered Lahore Lecture–Part I

Preface

27 April 2015 from Twitter: “My Pakistani hosts never managed to go thru w their 2010/11 invitation I speak in Lahore on Kashmir. After ‪#‎SabeenMahmud‬ s murder, I decline”

October 2015 from Twitter: I have started a quite thorough critique under #kasuri etc at Twitter of the extremely peculiar free publicity given in Delhi and  Mumbai power circles to the dressed up (and false) ISI/Hurriyat narrative of KM Kasuri; the Musharraf “demilitarisation/borderless idea that Mr Kasuri promotes is originally mine from our Pakistan book in America in the 1980s, which I brought to the attention of both sides (and the USA) in Washington in 1993 but which I myself later rejected as naive and ignorant  after the Pakistani aggression in Kargil in 1999, especially the murder of Lt Kalia and his platoon as POWs. https://independentindian.com/2006/12/15/what-to-tell-musharraf-peace-is-impossible-without-non-aggressive-pakistani-intentions/  https://independentindian.com/2008/11/15/of-a-new-new-delhi-myth-and-the-success-of-the-university-of-hawaii-1986-1992-pakistan-project/  I have also now made clear how and why my Lahore lecture (confirmed by the Pakistani envoy to Delhi personally phoning me of his own accord at home) came to be sabotaged by two Pakistanis and two Indian politicians associated with them.

Original Preface  22 November 2011: Exactly a year ago, in late October-November 2010, I received a very kind invitation from the Lahore Oxford and Cambridge Society to speak there on this subject.  Mid March 2011 was a tentative date for this lecture from which the text below is dated.  The lecture has yet to take place for various reasons but as there is demand for its content, I am releasing the part which was due to be released in any case to my Pakistani hosts ahead of time — after all, it would have been presumptuous of me to seek to speak in Lahore on Pakistan’s viewpoint on Kashmir, hence I instead  planned to release my understanding of that point of view ahead of time and open it to the criticism of my hosts.  The structure of the remainder of the talk may be surmised too from the Contents.  The text and argument are mine entirely, the subject of more than 25 years of research and reflection,  and are under consideration of publication as a book by Continuum of London and New York.  If you would like to comment, please feel free to do so, if you would like to refer to it in an online publication, please give this link, if you would like to refer to it in a paper-publication, please   email me.  Like other material at my site, it is open to the Fair Use rule of normal scholarship.

 

On the Alternative Theories of Pakistan and India about Jammu & Kashmir (And the One and Only Way These May Be Peacefully Reconciled): An Exercise in Economics, Politics, Moral Philosophy & Jurisprudence

 by

Subroto (Suby) Roy

Lecture to the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Lahore

March 14, 2011 (tentative)

“What is the use of studying philosophy if all that does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., & if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life?”  Wittgenstein, letter to Malcolm, 1944

“India is the greatest Muslim country in the world.”

Sir Muhammad Iqbal, 1930, Presidential Address to the Muslim League, Allahabad

 “Where be these enemies?… See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,… all are punish’d.” Shakespeare

Dr Roy’s published works include Philosophy of Economics: On the Scope of Reason in Economic Inquiry (London & New York: Routledge, 1989, 1991); Pricing, Planning & Politics: A Study of Economic Distortions in India (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1984); and, edited with WE James, Foundations of India’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s (Hawaii MS 1989, Sage 1992)  &  Foundations of Pakistan’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s (Hawaii MS 1989, Sage 1992, OUP Karachi 1993); and, edited with John Clarke, Margaret Thatcher’s Revolution: How it Happened and What it Meant (London & New York: Continuum 2005).  He graduated in 1976 with a first from the London School of Economics in mathematical economics, and received the PhD in economics at Cambridge in 1982 under Professor Frank Hahn for the thesis “On liberty & economic growth: preface to a philosophy for India”. In the United States for 16 years he was privileged to count as friends Professors James Buchanan, Milton Friedman, TW Schultz, Max Black and Sidney Alexander.  From September 18 1990 he was an adviser to Rajiv Gandhi and contributed to the origins of India’s 1991 economic reform.  He blogs at http://www.independentindian.com.

CONTENTS

Part I

  1. Introduction

  2. Pakistan’s Point of View (or Points of View)

(a)    1930  Sir Muhammad Iqbal

(b)    1933-1948 Chaudhury Rahmat Ali

(c)    1937-1941 Sir Sikander Hayat Khan

(d)    1937-1947 Quad-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah

(e)    1940s et seq  Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi

(f)     1947-1950 Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, 1966 President Ayub Khan, 2005 Govt of Pakistan, 2007 President Musharraf, 2008 FM Qureshi, 2011 Kashmir Day

Part II

  1. India’s Point of View: British Negligence/Indifference during the Transfer of Power, A Case of Misgovernance in the Chaotic Aftermath of World War II

(a)    Rhetoric: Whose Pakistan?  Which Kashmir?

(b)    Law: (i) Liaquat-Zafrullah-Abdullah-Nehru United in Error Over the Second Treaty of Amritsar! Dogra J&K subsists Mar 16 1846-Oct 22 1947. Aggression, Anarchy, Annexations: The LOC as De Facto Boundary by Military Decision Since Jan 1 1949.  (ii) Legal Error & Confusion Generated by 12 May 1946 Memorandum. (iii) War: Dogra J&K attacked by Pakistan, defended by India: Invasion, Mutiny, Secession of “Azad Kashmir” & Gilgit, Rape of Baramulla, Siege of Skardu.

  1. Politics: What is to be Done? Towards Truths, Normalisation, Peace in the 21st Century

The Present Situation is Abnormal & Intolerable. There May Be One (and Only One) Peacable Solution that is Feasible: Revealing Individual Choices Privately with Full Information & Security: Indian “Green Cards”/PIO-OCI status for Hurriyat et al: A Choice of Nationality (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran).  Of Flags and Consulates in Srinagar & Gilgit etc: De Jure Recognition of the Boundary, Diplomatic Normalisation,  Economic & Military Cooperation.

  1. Appendices:

(a)    History of Jammu & Kashmir until the Dogra Native State

(b)    Pakistan’s Allies (including A Brief History of Gilgit)

(c)    India’s Muslim Voices

(d)    Pakistan’s Muslim Voices: An Excerpt from the Munir Report

Part I

1.  Introduction

For a solution to Jammu & Kashmir to be universally acceptable it must be seen by all as being lawful and just. Political opinion across the subcontinent — in Pakistan, in India, among all people and parties in J&K, those loyal to India, those loyal to Pakistan, and any others — will have to agree that, all things considered, such is the right course of action for everyone today in the 21st Century, which means too that the solution must be consistent with the principal known facts of history as well as account reasonably for all moral considerations.

I claim to have found such a solution, indeed I shall even say it is the only such solution (in terms of theoretical economics, it is the unique solution) and plan with your permission to describe its main outlines at this distinguished gathering.  I have not invented it overnight but it is something  developed over a quarter century, milestones along the way being the books emerging from the University of Hawaii “perestroika” projects for India and Pakistan that I and the late WE James led 25 years ago, and a lecture I gave at Washington’s Heritage Foundation in June 1998, as well as sets of newspaper articles published between 2005 and 2008, one in Dawn of Karachi and others in The Statesman of New Delhi and Kolkata.

Before I start, allow me for a moment to remind just how complex and intractable the problem we face has been, and, therefore, quite how large my ambition is in claiming today to be able to resolve it.

“Kashmir is in the Supreme National Interest of Pakistan”, says Pakistan.

“Kashmir is an Integral Part of India”, says India.

“Kashmir is an Integral Part of Pakistan”, says Pakistan.

“Kashmir is in the Supreme National Interest of India”, says India.

And so it goes, in what over the decades has been all too often a Dialogue of the Deaf.  How may such squarely opposed positions be reconciled without draining public resources even further through wasteful weaponry and confrontation of standing armies, or, what is worse, using these weapons and armies in war, plunging the subcontinent into an abyss of chaos and destruction for generations to come?  How is it possible?

I shall suggest a road can be found only when we realize Pakistan, India and J&K each have been and are going to remain integral to one another — in their histories, their geographies, their economies and their societies.  The only place they may need to differ, where we shall want them to differ, is their politics and political systems. We should not underestimate how much mutual hatred and mutual fear has arisen naturally on all sides over the decades as a result of bloodshed and suffering all around, and the fact must also be accounted for that people simply may not be in a calm-enough emotional state to want to be part of processes seeking resolution; at the same time, it bears to be remembered that although Pakistan and India have been at war more than once and war is always a very serious and awful thing, they have never actually declared war against the other nor have they ever broken diplomatic relations – in fact in some ways it has always seemed like some very long and protracted fraternal Civil War between us where we think we know one another so well and yet come to be surprised more by one another’s virtues than by one another’s vices.

Secondly, with any seemingly intractable problem, dialogue can stall or be aborted due to normal human failings of impatience or lack of good will or lack of good humour or lack of a scientific attitude towards finding facts, or plain mutual miscomprehension of one another’s points of view through ignorance or laziness or negligence.  In case of Pakistan and India over J&K, there has been the further critical complication that we of this generation did not cause this problem — it has been something inherited by us from not even our fathers but our grandfathers!  It is two generations old.  Each side must respect the words and deeds of its forebears but also may have to frankly examine in a scientific spirit where errors of fact or judgment may have occurred back then.  The antagonistic positions have changed only slightly over two generations, and one reason dialogue stalls or gets aborted today is because positions have become frozen for more than half a century and merely get repeated endlessly.  On top of such frozen positions have been piled pile upon pile of further vast mortal complications: the 1965 War, the 1971 secession of East Pakistan, the 1999 Kargil War, the 2008 Mumbai massacres.  Only cacophony results if we talk about everything at once, leaving the status quo of a dangerous expensive confrontation to continue.

I propose instead to focus as specifically and precisely as possible on how Jammu & Kashmir became a problem at all during those crucial decades alongside the processes of Indian Independence, World War II, the Pakistan Movement and creation of Pakistan, accompanied by the traumas and bloodshed of Partition.

Having addressed that — and it is only fair to forewarn this eminent Lahore audience that such a survey of words, deeds and events between the 1930s and 1950s tends to emerge in India’s favour — I propose to “fast-forward” to current times, where certain new facts on the ground appear much more adverse to India, and finally seek to ask what can and ought to be done, all things considered, today in the circumstances of the 21st Century.   There are four central facts, let me for now call them Fact A, Fact B, Fact C and Fact D, which have to be accepted by both countries in good faith and a scientific spirit.  Facts A and B are historical in nature; Pakistan has refused to accept them. Facts C and D are contemporary in nature; official political India and much of the Indian media too often have appeared wilfully blind to them. The moment all four facts come to be accepted by all, the way forward becomes clear.  We have inherited this grave mortal problem which has so badly affected the ordinary people of J&K in the most terrible and unacceptable manner, but if we fail to understand and resolve it, our children and grandchildren will surely fail even worse — we may even leave them to cope with the waste and destruction of further needless war or confrontation, indeed with the end of the subcontinent as we have received and known it in our time.

2. Pakistan’s Point of View (Or Points of View)

1930  Sir Muhammad Iqbal

This audience will need no explanation why I start with Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), the poetic and spiritual genius who in the 20th Century inspired the notion of a Muslim polity in NorthWestern India, whose seminal 1930 presidential speech to the Muslim League in Allahabad lay the foundation stone of the new country that was yet to be.   He did not live to see Pakistan’s creation yet what may be called the “Pakistan Principle” was captured in his words:

“I would like to see the Punjab, Northwest Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state. Self-government within the British Empire or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North West Indian Muslim state appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims at least of Northwest India… India is the greatest Muslim country in the world.  The life of Islam as a cultural force in this living country very largely depends on its centralization in a specified territory”.

He did not see such a consolidated Muslim state being theocratic and certainly not one filled with bigotry or “Hate-Hindu” campaigns:

“A community which is inspired by feelings of ill-will towards other communities is low and ignoble. I entertain the highest respect for the customs, laws, religious and social institutions of other communities… Yet I love the communal group which is the source of my life and my behaviour… Nor should the Hindus fear that the creation of autonomous Muslim states will mean the introduction of a kind of religious rule in such states…. I therefore demand the formation of a consolidated Muslim state in the best interests of India and Islam. For India it means security and peace resulting from an internal balance of power, for Islam an opportunity to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian Imperialism was forced to give it, to mobilise its law, its education, its culture, and to bring them into closer contact with its own original spirit and the spirit of modern times.”[1]

Though Kashmiri himself, in fact a founding member of the “All-India Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference of Lahore and Simla”, and a hero and role model for the young Sheikh Abdullah (1905-1982), Allama Iqbal was explicitly silent about J&K being part of the new political entity he had come to imagine.  I do not say he would not have wished it to be had he lived longer; what I am saying is that his original vision of the consolidated Muslim state which constitutes Pakistan today (after a Partitioned Punjab) did not include Jammu & Kashmir.  Rather, it was focused on the politics of British India and did not mention the politics of Kashmir or any other of the so-called “Princely States” or “Native States” of “Indian India” who constituted some 1/3rd of the land mass and 1/4th of the population of the subcontinent.  Twenty years ago I called this “The Paradox of Kashmir”, namely, that prior to 1947 J&K hardly seemed to appear in any discussion at all for a century, yet it has consumed almost all discussion and resources ever since.

Secondly, this audience will see better than I can the significance of Dr Iqbal’s saying the Muslim political state of his conception needed

“an opportunity to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian Imperialism was forced to give it”

and instead seek to

“mobilise its law, its education, its culture, and to bring them into closer contact with its own original spirit and the spirit of modern times”.

Dr Iqbal’s Pakistan Principle appears here the polar opposite of Pakistan’s 18th & 19th Century pre-history represented by Shah Waliullah (1703-1762)[2] saying

“We are an Arab people whose fathers have fallen in exile in the country of Hindustan, and Arabic genealogy and Arabic language are our pride”

 or Sayyid Ahmed Barelwi (1786-1831) saying

“We must repudiate all those Indian, Persian and Roman customs which are contrary to the Prophet’s teaching”.[3]

Some 25 years after the Allahabad address, the Munir Report in 1954 echoed Dr Iqbal’s thought when it observed about medieval military conquests

“It is this brilliant achievement of the Arabian nomads …that makes the Musalman of today live in the past and yearn for the return of the glory that was Islam… Little does he understand that the forces which are pitted against him are entirely different from those against which early Islam had to fight… Nothing but a bold reorientation of Islam to separate the vital from the lifeless can preserve it as a World Idea and convert the Musalman into a citizen of the present and the future world from the archaic incongruity that he is today…” [4]

 

1933-1947  Chaudhury Rahmat Ali

Dr Iqbal’s young follower, the radical Cambridge pamphleteer Chaudhury Rahmat Ali (1895-1951) drew a picture not of Muslim tolerance and coexistence with Hindus in a peaceful India but of aggression towards Hindus and domination by Muslims over the subcontinent and Asia itself.  Rahmat Ali had been inspired by Dr Iqbal’s call for a Muslim state in Northwest India but found it vague and was disappointed Iqbal had not pressed it at the Third Round Table Conference.  In 1933, reportedly on the upper floor of a London omnibus, he invented for the then-imagined political entity the name “PAKSTAN”, P for his native Punjab, A for Afghania, K for Kashmir, S for Sind, and STAN for Balochistan.  He sought a meeting with Mr Jinnah in London — “Jinnah disliked Rahmat Ali’s ideas and avoided meeting him”[5] but did meet him.  There is a thesis yet to be written on how Europe’s inter-War ideologies affected political thinking on the subcontinent.  Rahmat Ali’s vituperative views about Hindus were akin to others about Jews (and Muslims too) at the time, all models or counterfoils for one another in the fringes of Nazism.  He referred to the Indian nationalist movement as a “British-Banya alliance”, declined to admit India had ever existed and personally renamed the subcontinent “Dinia” and the seas around it the “Pakian Sea”, the “Osmanian Sea” etc. He urged Sikhs to rise up in a “Sikhistan” and urged all non-Hindus to rise up in war against Hindus. Given the obscurity of his life before his arrival at Cambridge’s Emmanuel College, what experiences may have led him to such views are not known.

All this was anathema to Mr Jinnah, the secular constitutionalist embarrassed by a reactionary Muslim imperialism in that rapidly modernising era that was the middle of the 20th Century.  When Rahmat Ali pressed the ‘Pakstan’ acronym, Mr Jinnah said Bengal was not in it and Muslim minority regions were absent.  At this Chaudhury-Sahib produced a general scheme of Muslim domination all over the subcontinent: there would be “Pakstan” in the northwest including Kashmir, Delhi and Agra; “Bangistan” in Bengal; “Osmanistan” in Hyderabad; “Siddiquistan” in Bundelhand and Malwa; “Faruqistan” in Bihar and Orissa; “Haideristan” in UP; “Muinistan” in Rajasthan; “Maplistan” in Kerala; even “Safiistan” in “Western Ceylon” and “Nasaristan” in “Eastern Ceylon”, etc.  In 1934 he published and widely circulated such a diagram among Muslims in Britain at the time.  He was not invited to the Lahore Resolution which did not refer to Pakistan though came to be called the Pakistan Resolution.  When he landed in the new Pakistan, he was apparently arrested and deported back and was never granted a Pakistan passport.  From England, he turned his wrath upon the new government, condemning Mr Jinnah as treacherous and newly re-interpreting his acronym to refer to Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Iran, Sindh, Tukharistan (sic), Afghanistan, and Balochistan.  The word “pak” coincidentally meant pure, so he began to speak of Muslims as “the Pak” i.e. “the pure” people, and of how the national destiny of the new Pakistan was to liberate “Pak” people everywhere, including the new India, and create a “Pak Commonwealth of Nations” stretching from Arabia to the Indies.  The map he now drew placed the word “Punjab” over J&K, and saw an Asia dominated by this “Pak” empire. Shunned by officialdom of the new Pakistan, Chaudhury-Sahib was a tragic figure who died in poverty and obscurity during an influenza epidemic in 1951; the Master of Emmanuel College paid for his funeral and was apparently later reimbursed for this by the Government of Pakistan.  In recent years he has undergone a restoration, and his grave at Cambridge has become a site of pilgrimage for ideologues, while his diagrams and writings have been reprinted in Pakistan’s newspapers as recently as February 2005.

1937-1941 Sir Sikander Hayat Khan

Chaudhary Rahmat Ali’s harshest critic at the time was the eminent statesman and Premier of Punjab Sir Sikander Hayat Khan (1892-1942), partner of the 1937 Sikander-Jinnah Pact, and an author of the Lahore Resolution.  His statement of 11 March 1941 in the Punjab Legislative Assembly Debates is a classic:

“No Pakistan scheme was passed at Lahore… As for Pakistan schemes, Maulana Jamal-ud-Din’s is the earliest…Then there is the scheme which is attributed to the late Allama Iqbal of revered memory.  He, however, never formulated any definite scheme but his writings and poems have given some people ground to think that Allama Iqbal desired the establishment of  some sort of  Pakistan.  But it is not difficult to explode this theory and to prove conclusively that his conception of  Islamic solidarity and universal brotherhood is not in conflict with Indian patriotism and is in fact quite different from the ideology now sought to be attributed to him by some enthusiasts… Then there is Chaudhuri Rahmat Ali’s scheme (*laughter*)…it was widely circulated in this country and… it was also given wide publicity at the time in a section of the British press.  But there is another scheme…it was published in one of the British journals, I think Round Table, and was conceived by an Englishman…..the word Pakistan was not used at the League meeting and this term was not applied to (the League’s Lahore) resolution by anybody until the Hindu press had a brain-wave and dubbed it Pakistan…. The ignorant masses  have now adopted the slogan provided by the short-sighted bigotry of the Hindu and Sikh press…they overlooked the fact that the word Pakistan might have an appeal – a strong appeal – for the Muslim masses.  It is a catching phrase and it has caught popular imagination and has thus made confusion worse confounded…. So far as we in the Punjab are concerned, let me assure you that we will not countenance or accept any proposal that does not secure freedom for all (*cheers*).  We do not desire that Muslims should domineer here, just as we do not want the Hindus to domineer where Muslims are in a minority. Now would we allow anybody or section to thwart us because Muslims happen to be in a majority in this province.  We do not ask for freedom that there may be a Muslim Raj here and Hindu Raj elsewhere.  If that is what Pakistan means I will have nothing to do with it.   If Pakistan means unalloyed Muslim Raj in the Punjab then I will have nothing to do with it (*hear, hear*)…. If you want real freedom for the Punjab, that is to say a Punjab in which every community will have its due share in the economic and administrative fields as partners in a common concern, then that Punjab will not be Pakistan but just Punjab, land of the five rivers; Punjab is Punjab and will always remain Punjab whatever anybody may say (*cheers*).  This, then, briefly is the future which I visualize for my province and for my country under any new constitution.

Intervention (Malik Barkat Ali): The Lahore resolution says the same thing.

Premier: Exactly; then why misinterpret it and try to mislead the  masses?…”

1937-1947  Quad-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah

During the Third Round Table Conference, Dr Iqbal persuaded Mr Jinnah (1876-1948) to return to India; Mr Jinnah, from being settled again in his London law practice, did so in 1934.  But following the 1935 Govt of India Act, the Muslim League failed badly when British India held its first elections in 1937 not only in Bengal and UP but in Punjab (one seat), NWFP and Sind.

World War II, like World War I a couple of brief decades earlier, then changed the political landscape completely. Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 and Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September.  The next day, India’s British Viceroy (Linlithgow) granted Mr Jinnah the political parity with Congress that he had sought.[6]  Professor Francis Robinson suggests that until 4 September 1939 the British

“had had little time for Jinnah and his League.  The Government’s declaration of war on Germany on 3 September, however, transformed the situation. A large part of the army was Muslim, much of the war effort was likely to rest on the two Muslim majority provinces of Punjab and Bengal. The following day, the Viceroy invited Jinnah for talks on an equal footing with Gandhi…. As the Congress began to demand immediate independence, the Viceroy took to reassuring Jinnah that Muslim interests would be safeguarded in any constitutional change. Within a few months, he was urging the League to declare a constructive policy for the future, which was of course presented in the Lahore Resolution[7]…. In their August 1940 offer, the British confirmed for the benefit of Muslims that power would not be transferred against the will of any significant element in Indian life. And much the same confirmation was given in the Cripps offer nearly two years later…. Throughout the years 1940 to 1945, the British made no attempt to tease out the contradictions between the League’s two-nation theory, which asserted that Hindus and Muslims came from two different civilisations and therefore were two different nations, and the Lahore Resolution, which demanded that ‘Independent States’ should be constituted from the Muslim majority provinces of the NE and NW, thereby suggesting that Indian Muslims formed not just one nation but two. When in 1944 the governors of Punjab and Bengal urged such a move on the Viceroy, Wavell ignored them, pressing ahead instead with his own plan for an all-India conference at Simla. The result was to confirm, as never before in the eyes of leading Muslims in the majority provinces, the standing of Jinnah and the League. Thus, because the British found it convenient to take the League seriously, everyone had to as well—Congressmen, Unionists, Bengalis, and so on…”[8]

 Mr Jinnah was himself amazed by the new British attitude towards him:

“(S)uddenly there was a change in the attitude towards me. I was treated on the same basis as Mr Gandhi. I was wonderstruck why all of a sudden I was promoted and given a place side by side with Mr Gandhi.”

Britain, threatened for its survival, faced an obdurate Indian leadership and even British socialists sympathetic to Indian aspirations grew cold (Gandhi dismissing the 1942 Cripps offer as a “post-dated cheque on a failing bank”).  Official Britain’s loyalties had been consistently with those who had been loyal to them, and it was unsurprising there would be a tilt to empower Mr Jinnah soon making credible the real possibility of Pakistan.[9]  By 1946, Britain was exhausted, pre-occupied with rationing, Berlin, refugee resettlement and countless other post-War problems — Britain had not been beaten in war but British imperialism was finished because of the War.  Muslim opinion in British India had changed decisively in the League’s favour.   But the  subcontinent’s political processes were drastically spinning out of everyone’s control towards anarchy and blood-letting.  Implementing a lofty vision of a cultured progressive consolidated Muslim state in India’s NorthWest descended into “Direct Action” with urban mobs  shouting Larke lenge Pakistan; Marke lenge Pakistan; Khun se lenge Pakistan; Dena hoga Pakistan.[10]

We shall return to Mr Jinnah’s view on the legal position of the “Native Princes” of “Indian India” during this critical time, specifically J&K; here it is essential before proceeding only to record his own vision for the new Pakistan as recorded by the profoundly judicious report of Justice Munir and Justice Kayani a mere half dozen years later:

“Before the Partition, the first public picture of Pakistan that the Quaid-i-Azam gave to the world was in the course of an interview in New Delhi with Mr. Doon Campbell, Reuter’s Correspondent. The Quaid-i-Azam said that the new State would be a modern democratic State, with sovereignty resting in the people and the members of the new nation having equal rights of citizenship regardless of their religion, caste or creed.  When Pakistan formally appeared on the map, the Quaid-i-Azam in his memorable speech of 11th August 1947 to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, while stating the principle on which the new State was to be founded, said:—‘All the same, in this division it was impossible to avoid the question of minorities being in one Dominion or the other. Now that was unavoidable. There is no other solution. Now what shall we do? Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and specially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations., there will be no end to the progress you will make.  “I cannot emphasise it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities—the Hindu community and the Muslim community— because even as regards Muslims you have Pathana, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on—will vanish. Indeed if you ask me this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain its freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free peoples long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time but for this (Applause). Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed— that has nothing to do with the business of the State (Hear, hear). As you know, history shows that in England conditions sometime ago were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State (Loud applause). The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the Government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist: what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen, of Great Britain and they are all members of the nation. “Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State’. The Quaid-i-Azam was the founder of Pakistan and the occasion on which he thus spoke was the first landmark in the history of Pakistan. The speech was intended both for his own people including non-Muslims and the world, and its object was to define as clearly as possible the ideal to the attainment of which the new State was to devote all its energies. There are repeated references in this speech to the bitterness of the past and an appeal to forget and change the past and to bury the hatchet. The future subject of the State is to be a citizen with equal rights, privileges and obligations, irrespective of colour, caste, creed or community. The word ‘nation’ is used more than once and religion is stated to have nothing to do with the business of the State and to be merely a matter of personal faith for the individual.”

1940s et seq  Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi, Amir Jama’at-i-Islami

The eminent theologian Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi (1903-1979), founder of the Jama’at-i-Islami, had been opposed to the Pakistan Principle but once Pakistan was created he became the most eminent votary of an Islamic State, declaring:

 “That the sovereignty in Pakistan belongs to God Almighty alone and that the Government of Pakistan shall administer the country as His agent”.

 In such a view, Islam becomes

“the very antithesis of secular Western democracy. The philosophical foundation of Western democracy is the sovereignty of the people. Lawmaking is their prerogative and legislation must correspond to the mood and temper of their opinion… Islam… altogether repudiates the philosophy of popular sovereignty and rears its polity on the foundations of the sovereignty of God and the viceregency (Khilafat) of man.”

Maulana Maudoodi was asked by Justice Munir and Justice Kayani:

 “Q.—Is a country on the border of dar-ul-Islam always qua an Islamic State in the position of dar-ul-harb ?

A.—No. In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, the Islamic State will be potentially at war with the non-Muslim neighbouring country. The non-Muslim country acquires the status of dar-ul-harb only after the Islamic State declares a formal war against it”.

“Q.—Is there a law of war in Islam?

A.—Yes.

Q.—Does it differ fundamentally from the modern International Law of war?

A.—These two systems are based on a fundamental difference.

Q.—What rights have non-Muslims who are taken prisoners of war in a jihad?

A.—The Islamic law on the point is that if the country of which these prisoners are nationals pays ransom, they will be released. An exchange of prisoners is also permitted. If neither of these alternatives is possible, the prisoners will be converted into slaves for ever. If any such person makes an offer to pay his ransom out of his own earnings, he will be permitted to collect the money necessary for the fidya (ransom).

Q.—Are you of the view that unless a Government assumes the form of an Islamic Government, any war declared by it is not a jihad?

A.—No. A war may be declared to be a jihad if it is declared by a national Government of Muslims in the legitimate interests of the State. I never expressed the opinion attributed to me in Ex. D. E. 12:— (translation)‘The question remains whether, even if the Government of Pakistan, in its present form and structure, terminates her treaties with the Indian Union and declares war against her, this war would fall under the definition of jihad? The opinion expressed by him in this behalf is quite correct. Until such time as the Government becomes Islamic by adopting the Islamic form of Government, to call any of its wars a jihad would be tantamount to describing the enlistment and fighting of a non-Muslim on the side of the Azad Kashmir forces jihad and his death martyrdom. What the Maulana means is that, in the presence of treaties, it is against Shari’at, if the Government or its people participate in such a war. If the Government terminates the treaties and declares war, even then the war started by Government would not be termed jihad unless the Government becomes Islamic’.

….

“Q.—If we have this form of Islamic Government in Pakistan, will you permit Hindus to base their Constitution on the basis of their own religion?

A—Certainly. I should have no objection even if the Muslims of India are treated in that form of Government as shudras and malishes and Manu’s laws are applied to them, depriving them of all share in the Government and the rights of a citizen. In fact such a state of affairs already exists in India.”

.…

“Q.—What will be the duty of the Muslims in India in case of war between India and Pakistan?

A.—Their duty is obvious, and that is not to fight against Pakistan or to do anything injurious to the safety of Pakistan.”

1947-1950 PM Liaquat Ali Khan, 1966 Gen Ayub Khan, 2005 Govt of Pakistan et seq

In contrast to Maulana Maudoodi saying Islam was “the very antithesis of secular Western democracy”,  Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan (1895-1951)[11] during his first official visit in 1950 to North America was to say the new Pakistan, because it was Muslim, held Asia’s greatest democratic potential:

“At present there is no democracy in Asia which is more free and more unified than Pakistan; none so free from moral doubts and from strains between the various sections of the people.”

He told his audiences Pakistan was created because Hindus were people wedded to caste-differences where Pakistanis as Muslims had an egalitarian and democratic disposition:

“The Hindus, for example, believe in the caste system according to which some human beings are born superior to others and cannot have any social relations with those in the lower castes or with those who are not Hindus.   They cannot marry them or eat with them or even touch them without being polluted.   The Muslims abhor the caste system, as they are a democratic people and believe in the equality of men and equal opportunities for all, do not consider a priesthood necessary, and have economic laws and institutions which recognize the right of private ownership and yet are designed to promote the distribution of wealth and to put healthy checks on vast unearned accumulations… so the Hindus and the Muslims decided to part and divide British India into two independent sovereign states… Our demand for a country of our own had, as you see, a strong democratic urge behind it.  The emergence of Pakistan itself was therefore the triumph of a democratic idea.  It enabled at one stroke a democratic nation of eighty million people to find a place of its own in Asia, where now they can worship God in freedom and pursue their own way of life uninhibited by the domination or the influence of ways and beliefs that are alien or antagonistic to their genius.” [12]

President Ayub Khan would state in similar vein on 18 November 1966 at London’s Royal Institute of International Affairs:

“the root of the problem was the conflicting ideologies of India and Pakistan. Muslim Pakistan believed in common brotherhood and giving people equal opportunity.  India and Hinduism are based on inequality and on colour and race.  Their basic concept is the caste system… Hindus and Muslims could never live under one Government, although they might live side by side.”

Regarding J&K, Liaquat Ali Khan on November 4 1947 broadcast from here in Lahore that the 1846 Treaty of Amritsar was “infamous” in having caused an  “immoral and illegal” ownership of Jammu & Kashmir.  He, along with Mr Jinnah, had called Sheikh Abdullah a “goonda” and “hoodlum” and “Quisling” of India, and on February 4 1948 Pakistan formally challenged the sovereignty of the Dogra dynasty in the world system of nations.  In 1950 during his North American visit though, the Prime Minister allowed that J&K was a “princely state” but said

“culturally, economically, geographically and strategically, Kashmir – 80 per cent of whose peoples like the majority of the people in Pakistan are Muslims – is in fact an integral part of Pakistan”;

“(the) bulk of the population (are) under Indian military occupation”.

Pakistan’s official self-image, portrayal of India, and position on J&K may have not changed greatly since her founding Prime Minister’s statements.   For example, in June 2005 the website of the Government of Pakistan’s Permanent Mission at the UN stated:

“Q: How did Hindu Raja (sic) become the ruler of Muslim majority Kashmir?

A: Historically speaking Kashmir had been ruled by the Muslims from the 14th Century onwards.  The Muslim rule continued till early 19th Century when the ruler of Punjab conquered  Kashmir and gave Jammu to a Dogra Gulab Singh who purchased Kashmir from the British in 1846 for a sum of 7.5 million rupees.”

“India’s forcible occupation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 is the main cause of the dispute. India claims to have ‘signed’ a controversial document, the Instrument of Accession, on 26 October 1947 with the Maharaja of Kashmir, in which the Maharaja obtained India’s military help against popular insurgency.   The people of Kashmir and Pakistan do not accept the Indian claim.   There are doubts about the very existence of the Instrument of Accession.  The United Nations also does not consider Indian claim as legally valid: it recognises Kashmir as a disputed territory.   Except India, the entire world community recognises Kashmir as a disputed territory. The fact is that all the principles on the basis of which the Indian subcontinent was partitioned by the British in 1947 justify Kashmir becoming a part of Pakistan:  the State had majority Muslim population, and it not only enjoyed geographical proximity with Pakistan but also had essential economic linkages with the territories constituting Pakistan.”

India, a country dominated by the hated-Hindus, has forcibly denied Srinagar Valley’s Muslim majority over the years the freedom to become part of Muslim Pakistan – I stand here to be corrected but, in a nutshell, such has been and remains Pakistan’s official view and projection of the Kashmir problem over more than sixty years.[13]

Part II

  1. India’s Point of View: British Negligence/Indifference during the Transfer of Power, A Case of Misgovernance in the Chaotic Aftermath of World War II

(a)    Rhetoric: Whose Pakistan?  Which Kashmir?

(b)    Law: (i) Liaquat-Zafrullah-Abdullah-Nehru United in Error Over the Second Treaty of Amritsar! Dogra J&K subsists Mar 16 1846-Oct 22 1947. Aggression, Anarchy, Annexations: The LOC as De Facto Boundary by Military Decision Since Jan 1 1949.  (ii) Legal Error & Confusion Generated by 12 May 1946 Memorandum. (iii) War: Dogra J&K attacked by Pakistan, defended by India: Invasion, Mutiny, Secession of “Azad Kashmir” & Gilgit, Rape of Baramulla, Siege of Skardu.

  1. Politics: What is to be Done? Towards Truths, Normalisation, Peace in the 21st Century

The Present Situation is Abnormal & Intolerable. There May Be One (and Only One) Peacable Solution that is Feasible: Revealing Individual Choices Privately with Full Information & Security: Indian “Green Cards”/PIO-OCI status for Hurriyat et al: A Choice of Nationality (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran).  Of Flags and Consulates in Srinagar & Gilgit etc: De Jure Recognition of the Boundary, Diplomatic Normalisation,  Economic & Military Cooperation.

  1. Appendices:

(a)    History of Jammu & Kashmir until the Dogra Native State

(b)    Pakistan’s Allies (including A Brief History of Gilgit)

(c)    India’s Muslim Voices

(d)    Pakistan’s Muslim Voices: An Excerpt from the Munir Report



[1] EIJ Rosenthal, Islam in the Modern National State, 1965, pp.196-197.

[2] A contemporary of Mohammad Ibn Abdal Wahhab of Nejd.

[3] Francis Robinson in  WE James & Subroto Roy, Foundations of Pakistan’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s, 1993, p. 36.  Indeed Barelwi had created a proto-Pakistan in NorthWest India one hundred years before the Pakistan Movement. “In the later 1820s the movement became militant, regarding jihad as one of the basic tenets of faith.  Possibly encouraged by the British, with whom the movement did not feel powerful enough to come to grips at the outset, it chose as the venue of jihad the NW frontier of the subcontinent, where it was directed against the Sikhs.  Barelwi temporarily succeeded in carving out a small theocratic principality which collapsed owing to the friction between his Pathan and North Indian followers; and he was finally defeated and slain by the Sikhs in 1831″ (Aziz Ahmed, in  AL Basham (ed) A Cultural History of India 1976, p. 384).   Professor Robinson answered a query of mine in an email of 8 August 2005: “the fullest description of this is in Mohiuddin Ahmad, Saiyid Ahmad Shahid (Lucknow, 1975), although practically everyone who deals with the period covers it in some way. Barelwi was the Amir al-Muminin of a jihadi community which based itself north of Peshawar and for a time controlled Peshawar.  He called his fellowship the Tariqa-yi Muhammadiya.  Barelwi corresponded with local rulers about him.  After his death at the battle of Balakot, it survived in the region, at Sittana I think, down to World War One.”

[4] Rosenthal, ibid., p 235

[5] Germans

[6] Events remote from India’s history and geography, namely, the rise of Hitler and the Second World War, had contributed between 1937 and 1947 to the change of fortunes of the Muslim League and hence of all the people of the subcontinent.  The British had long discovered that mutual antipathy between Muslims and Hindus could be utilised in fashioning their rule; specifically that organisation and mobilisation of Muslim communal opinion was a useful counterweight to any pan-Indian nationalism emerging to compete with British authority. As early as 1874, long before Allan Octavian Hume ICS conceived the Indian National Congress, John Strachey ICS observed “The existence side by side of these (Hindu and Muslim) hostile creeds is one of the strong points in our political position in India. The better classes of Mohammedans are a source of strength to us and not of weakness. They constitute a comparatively small but an energetic minority of the population whose political interests are identical with ours.” By 1906, when a deputation of Muslims headed by the Aga Khan first approached the British pleading for communal representation, Minto the Viceroy replied: “I am as firmly convinced as I believe you to be that any electoral representation in India would be doomed to mischievous failure which aimed at granting a personal enfranchisement, regardless of the beliefs and traditions of the communities composing the population of this Continent.” Minto’s wife wrote in her diary the effect was “nothing less than the pulling back of sixty two millions of (Muslims) from joining the ranks of the seditious opposition.” (The true significance of Maulana Azad may have been that he, precisely at the same time, did indeed feel within himself the nationalist’s desire for freedom strongly enough to want to join the ranks of that seditious opposition.)

[7] “That geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute Independent States in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”.

[8] Robinson ibid, pp. 43-44.

[9] In the “Indian India” of the Native Princes, Hari Singh and others who sent troops to fight as part of British armies (and who were nominal members of Churchill’s War Cabinet) would have their vanities flattered, while Sheikh Abdullah’s rebellion against Dogra rule would be ignored. See seq. And in British India, Mr Jinnah the conservative Anglophile and his elitist Muslim League would be backed, while the radicalised masses of the Gandhi-Bose-Nehru Congress suppressed as a nuisance.

[10] An anthology about Lahore reports memories of a murderous mob arriving at a wealthy man’s home to be placated  with words like  “They are Parsis not Hindus, no need to kill them…”

[11] An exact contemporary of Chaudhury Rahmat Ali.

[12] Pakistan, Harvard University Press, 1950.

[13] It is not far from this to a certain body of sentiments frequently found, for example, as recently as February 5 2011: “To observe the Kashmir Solidarity Day, various programs, rallies and protests will be held on Saturday (today) across the city to support the people of Kashmir in their struggle against the Indian occupation of their land.  Various religious, political, social and other organizations have arranged different programs to highlight the atrocities of Indian occupant army in held Jammu and Kashmir where about 800,000 Indian soldiers have been committing atrocities against innocent civilians; killing, wounding and maiming tens of thousands of people; raping thousands of women and setting houses, shops and crops on fire to break the Kashmiris’ will to fight for their freedom…Jamat-ud-Dawah…leaders warned that a ‘jihad’ would be launched if Kashmir was not liberated through civil agitation…the JuD leaders said first the former President, Pervez Musharraf, and now the current dispensation were extending the olive branch to New Delhi despite the atrocities on the Kashmiri people….the Pakistani nation would (never compromise on the issue of Kashmir and) would continue to provide political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people.”

Seventy Years Today Since the British Government Politically Empowered MA Jinnah

Seventy Years Today Since the British Government Politically Empowered MA Jinnah

by

Subroto Roy

The bloated armies of Indian and Pakistani historians and pseudo-historians have failed to recognize the significance of the precise start of the Second World War upon the fortunes of the subcontinent.  Yet, twenty years ago, in the book I and WE James created at an American university, Foundations of Pakistan’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s, one of our authors, Professor Francis Robinson of the University of London, had set out the principal facts most clearly as to what flowed from the September 4 1939 empowerment of MA Jinnah by the British Government.

Germany invaded Poland on September 1 1939 and Britain declared war on Germany on September 3. The next day, Linlithgow, the British Viceroy in India, started to treat MA Jinnah’s Muslim League on par with the Congress’s nationalist movement led by MK Gandhi. Until September 4 1939, the British “had had little time for Jinnah and his League. The Government’s declaration of war on Germany on 3 September, however, transformed the situation. A large part of the army was Muslim, much of the war effort was likely to rest on the two Muslim majority provinces of Punjab and Bengal. The following day, the Viceroy invited Jinnah for talks on an equal footing with Gandhi” (Robinson, in James & Roy (eds) Foundations of Pakistan’s Political Economy 1989, 1992).

Jinnah himself was amazed by the new British attitude towards him: “suddenly there was a change in the attitude towards me. I was treated on the same basis as Mr Gandhi. I was wonderstruck why all of a sudden I was promoted and given a place side by side with Mr Gandhi.”

Jinnah’s political weakness had been made obvious by the electoral defeats the Muslim League had suffered in the 1937 elections in the very provinces which more or less came to constitute West Pakistan and today constitute modern Pakistan. Britain, at war with Germany and soon Japan, was faced with the intransigence of the Congress leadership.  It was unsurprising this would contribute to the British tilt empowering Congress’s declared adversary, Jinnah and the Muslim League, and hence make credible the possibility of the Pakistan that they had demanded:

“As the Congress began to demand immediate independence, the Viceroy took to reassuring Jinnah that Muslim interests would be safeguarded in any constitutional change. Within a few months, he was urging the League to declare a constructive policy for the future, which was of course presented in the Lahore Resolution. In their August 1940 offer, the British confirmed for the benefit of Muslims that power would not be transferred against the will of any significant element in Indian life. And much the same confirmation was given in the Cripps offer nearly two years later…. Throughout the years 1940 to 1945, the British made no attempt to tease out the contradictions between the League’s two-nation theory, which asserted that Hindus and Muslims came from two different civilisations and therefore were two different nations, and the Lahore Resolution, which demanded that ‘Independent States’ should be constituted from the Muslim majority provinces of the NE and NW, thereby suggesting that Indian Muslims formed not just one nation but two. When in 1944 the governors of Punjab and Bengal urged such a move on the Viceroy, Wavell ignored them, pressing ahead instead with his own plan for an all-India conference at Simla. The result was to confirm, as never before in the eyes of leading Muslims in the majority provinces, the standing of Jinnah and the League. Thus, because the British found it convenient to take the League seriously, everyone had to as well—Congressmen, Unionists, Bengalis, and so on….”(Robinson in James & Roy (eds) Foundations of Pakistan’s Political Economy,  pp. 43-44).

Even British socialists who were sympathetic to Indian aspirations, would grow cold when the Congress seemed to abjectly fail to appreciate Britain’s predicament during war with Germany and Japan (Gandhi, for example, dismissing the 1942 Cripps offer as a “post-dated cheque on a failing bank”).

By the 1946 elections, Muslim mass opinion had changed drastically to seem to be strongly in favour of the creation of a Pakistan. The intervening years were the ones when urban mobs all over India could be found shouting the League’s slogans: “Larke lenge Pakistan; Marke lenge Pakistan, Khun se lenge Pakistan; Dena hoga Pakistan; Leke rahenge Pakistan” (We will spill blood to take Pakistan, you will have to yield a Pakistan.)

Events remote from India’s history and geography, namely, the rise of Hitler and the Second World War, had contributed between 1937 and 1947 to the change of fortunes of the Muslim League and hence of all the people of the subcontinent.

The British had long discovered that the mutual antipathy between Muslims and Hindus could be utilised in fashioning their rule; specifically that the organisation and mobilisation of Muslim communal opinion in the subcontinent was a useful counterweight to any pan-Indian nationalism which might emerge to compete with British authority. As early as 1874, well before Allan Octavian Hume, ICS, had conceived the Indian National Congress, John Strachey, ICS, was to observe “The existence side by side of these (Hindu and Muslim) hostile creeds is one of the strong points in our political position in India. The better classes of Mohammedans are a source of strength to us and not of weakness. They constitute a comparatively small but an energetic minority of the population whose political interests are identical with ours.” By 1906, when a deputation of Muslims headed by the Aga Khan first approached the British pleading for communal representation, Minto the Viceroy replied: “I am as firmly convinced as I believe you to be that any electoral representation in India would be doomed to mischievous failure which aimed at granting a personal enfranchisement, regardless of the beliefs and traditions of the communities composing the population of this Continent.” Minto’s wife wrote in her diary that the effect was “nothing less than the pulling back of sixty two millions of (Muslims) from joining the ranks of the seditious opposition.” (The true significance of MAK Azad may have been that he, precisely at the same time, did indeed feel within himself the nationalist’s desire for freedom strongly enough to want to join the ranks of that seditious opposition.)

If a pattern emerges as to the nature of the behaviour of the British political state with respect to the peoples of this or similar regions, it is precisely the economic one of rewarding those loyal to them who had protected or advanced their interests, and penalising those perceived to be acting against their will. It is wishful to think  of members of the British political state as benevolent paternalists, who met with matching deeds their often philanthropic words about promoting the general welfare of their colonial wards or subordinate allies. The slogan “If you are not with us you are against us” that has come to be used by many from the Shining Path Maoists of Peru to President George W. Bush, had been widely applied already by the British in India, especially in the form “If you dare not to be with us, we will be certainly with your adversaries”. It came to be used with greatest impact on the subcontinent’s fortunes in 1939 when Britain found itself reluctantly at war with Hitler’s Germany.

British loyalties lay with those who had been loyal to them.

Hence in the “Indian India” of the puppet princes, Hari Singh and other “Native Princes” who had sent troops to fight as part of the British armies would be treated with a pusillanimity and grandeur so as to flatter their vanities, Sheikh Abdullah’s rebellion representing the Muslim masses of the Kashmir Valley would be ignored. And in British India, Jinnah the conservative Anglophile and his elitist Muslim League would be backed, while the radicalised masses of the Gandhi-Bose-Nehru Congress would have to be suppressed as a nuisance.

(Similarly, much later, Pakistan’s bemedalled army generals would be backed by the United States against Mujibur Rehman’s impoverished student-rebels, and India’s support frowned upon regardless of how just the Bangladeshi cause.)

Altruism is a limited quality in all human affairs, never more scarce than in relations between nations. In “Pakistan’s Allies”, I showed how the strategic interests of Britain, and later Britain’s American ally, came to evolve in the Northwest of the subcontinent ever since the 1846 Treaty of Amritsar as long as a Russian and later a Soviet empire had existed. A similar evolution of British domestic interests in India is distinctly observable in British support for the Pakistan Movement itself, leading on August 14 1947 to the creation of the new Dominion of Pakistan.

Sheikh Abdullah’s democratic urges or  Nehru’s Indian nationalism or the general welfare of the subcontinent’s people had no appeal as such to the small and brittle administrative machinery in charge of Britain’s Indian Empire — even though individual Britons had come to love, understand and explain India for the permanent benefit of her people. This may help to explain how Britain’s own long democratic traditions at home could often be found so wonderful by Indians yet the actions of the British state abroad so incongruent with them.

 

Why did Manmohan Singh and LK Advani apologise to one another? Is Indian politics essentially collusive, not competitive, aiming only to preserve and promote the post-1947 Dilli Raj at the expense of the whole of India? We seem to have no Churchillian repartee (except perhaps from Bihar occasionally)

Yesterday the PM is reported to have been asked by someone travelling on his aeroplane from Moscow “whether he had forgiven Advani for calling him a ‘weak Prime Minister’”.

The question was absurd, almost ridiculous, typical of our docile ingratiating rather juvenile English-language press and media, as if any issue of forgiveness arises at all about what one politician says during an election campaign about another politician’s performance in office.

Dr Manmohan Singh’s answer was surprising too: “I was compelled to reply to what Advani said…On May 16 when (Advani) telephoned me, he told me that he was hurt by some of my statements. He said he was hurt and regretted his statements… I apologised to him if I have hurt him. I am looking forward to a close relationship with the Leader of the Opposition.”

So LK Advani appears to have apologised to Manmohan Singh and Manmohan Singh to LK Advani for what they said about each other during the recent general election campaign! What is going on? Were they schoolboys exchanging fisticuffs in a school playground or elderly men battling over power and policy in modern Indian politics?

What would we have done if there was a Churchill in Indian politics today – hurling sarcastic insults at domestic opponents and foreign leaders while guiding a nation on its right course during turbulent times?

Churchill once famously said his parents had not shown him “The Boneless Wonder” in PT Barnum’s circus because it was too horrible a sight but now he had finally seen such a “Boneless Wonder” in his opponent on the Treasury Benches, namely, Ramsay MacDonald. Of the same opponent he said later “He has the gift of compressing the largest number of words into the smallest amount of thought”.

When accused of being drunk by a woman MP he replied “And you are very ugly, but tomorrow I’ll be sober”. Today’s politically correct world would scream at far less. Field Marshall Montgomery told Churchill, “I neither drink nor smoke and am 100% fit,” to which Churchill replied, “I drink and smoke and I am 200% fit”. That too would be politically incorrect today.

Churchill described Prime Minister Clement Attlee as “a modest man with much to be modest about”; also about Attlee: “If any grub is fed on Royal Jelly it turns into a Queen Bee”. Yet Attlee had enough dignity and self-knowledge and self-confidence to brush it all off and instead respect and praise him. In the 1954 volume Winston Spencer Churchill Servant of Crown and Commonwealth Attlee added his own tribute to his great opponent: “I recall…the period when he was at odds with his own party and took a seat on the Bench below the Gangway on the Government side. Here he was well placed to fire on both parties. I remember describing him as a heavily armed tank cruising in No Man’s Land. Very impressive were the speeches he delivered as the international horizon grew darker. He became very unpopular with the predominant group in his own party, but he never minded fighting a lone battle.”

Stanley Baldwin, who as PM first appointed Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer, once said “There comes Winston with his hundred horsepower mind”. Yet Churchill was to later say harshly “I wish Stanley Baldwin no ill, but it would have been much better had he never lived.”

Of Lenin, Churchill said, he was “transported in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus from Switzerland into Russia”. Of Molotov: “I have never seen a human being who more perfectly represented the modern concept of a robot.” Of Hitler, “If [he] invaded hell I would at least make a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons”. Of De Gaulle, “He was a man without a country yet he acted as if he was head of state”.” Of John Foster Dulles, “[He] is the only bull who carries his china shop with him”. Of Stafford Cripps, British Ambassador to the USSR, “…a lunatic in a country of lunatics”; and also “There but for the Grace of God, goes God”.

Decades later, that great neo-Churchillian Margaret Thatcher was on the receiving end of a vast amount of sarcasm. “President Mitterrand once famously remarked that Thatcher had ‘the eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe’. Rather less flatteringly, Dennis Healey described her as Attila the Hen. She probably took both descriptions as compliments.” (Malcolm Rifkind in Margaret Thatcher’s Revolution: How it Happened and What it Meant edited by Subroto Roy and John Clarke, 2005).

Politics is, and should be, grown up stuff because it deals with human lives and national destinies, and really, if you can’t take the heat please do not enter the kitchen. The slight Churchillian sarcasm that does arise within modern Indian politics comes very occasionally from Bihar but nowhere else, e.g. about the inevitability of aloo in samosas and of bhaloos in the jungle but no longer of Laloo being in the seat of power. In general, everyone seems frightfully sombre and self-important though may be in fact short of self-knowledge and hence self-confidence.

What had Manmohan Singh said about LK Advani that he felt he had to apologise for? That Advani had no substantial political achievement to his credit and did not deserve to be India’s PM. Manmohan was not alone in making the charge – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and numerous other spokesmen and representatives of their party said the same. Has Manmohan’s apology to Advani been one on behalf of the whole Congress Party itself?

Was Advani’s apology to Manmohan one on behalf of the whole BJP too?

What had the BJP charged Manmohan with that Advani felt he had to apologise for?  Being a “weak PM”.

Hmmm. Frankly, thinking about it, it is hard to count who has not been weak as a PM in India’s modern history.

Certainly Vallabhai Patel as a kind of co-PM was decisive and far from weak back in 1947-48.

Lal Bahadur Shastri was not weak when he told Pakistan that a Pakistani attack on Kashmir would result in an Indian attack on Pakistan.

Indira Gandhi was not weak when she resisted the Yahya Khan-Tikka Khan tyranny against Bangladesh.

Had he not been assassinated, Rajiv Gandhi in a second term would have been decisive and not weak in facing up to and tackling the powerful lobbies and special interest groups that have crippled our domestic economic policy for decades.

But the number of such examples may be counted by hand.  Perhaps VP Singh might count, riding in an open jeep to Amritsar, as might AB Vajpayee’s Pokhran II and travelling on a bus to Lahore. In general, the BJP’s charge that Manmohan was “weak” may have constructively led to serious discussion in the country about the whole nature of the Prime Ministership in modern India, which means raising a whole gamut of issues about Indian governance – about India being the softest of “soft states”, with the softest of “soft government budget constraints” (i.e., endless deficit finance and paper money creation) etc.

Instead, what we have had thus far is apologies being exchanged for no real political reason between the leaderships of the Government and the Opposition. If two or three sellers come to implicitly carve up a market between themselves they are said by economic theory to be colluding rather than being in competition. Indian politics may be revealing such implicit collusive behaviour. The goal of this political oligopoly would seem to be to preserve and promote the status quo of the post-1947 Dilli Raj with its special hereditary nomenclatura, at the expense of anonymous diffused teeming India.

Subroto Roy, Kolkata

Postscript July 15 2009: Churchill’s mature opinion of Baldwin was one of the fullest praise at the 20 May 1950 unveiling of a memorial to him.  See his In the Balance, edited by Randolph S Churchill, 1951, p. 281

Why does India not have a Parliament ten days after the 15th Lok Sabha was elected? Nehru and Rajiv would both have been appalled

There are at least three Supreme Court lawyers, all highly voluble, among the higher echelons of Congress Party politicians; it is surprising that not one of them has been able to get the top Party leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh to see the apparent breach of normal constitutional law in Parliament not having met more than 10 days after it was elected.

A Government has been formed, Ministers have entered their offices and have been holding press-conferences and taking executive decisions,  wannabe-Ministers continue to be wrangling night-and-day for the plums of office — BUT THERE IS NO PARLIAMENT!

Today is the death-anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru and last week was the death anniversary of  Rajiv Gandhi.

Nehru, whatever his faults and infirmities, was an outstanding parliamentarian and a believer in the Westminster model in particular.  He was intimately familiar with its  unpoken customs and unwritten laws.   He would have been completely appalled by the situation today where luminaries of the party that goes by the  same name as the one he had led are paying obeisance to his memory 45 years after his death but have failed to see the absurdity in having a Government in office with no new Parliament ten days after a month-long General Election was over!  (Incidentally, had he not left explicit instructions against any hero-worship  taking place of himself too?)

Rajiv knew his grandfather and had acquired a sense of noblesse oblige from him.  He too would have been appalled that the procedural business of government  had been simply  procrastinated over like this.

It surprises me that Dr Manmohan Singh, having been a post-graduate of Cambridge, having earned a doctorate from Oxford, and more recently having been awarded honorary doctorates from both Ancient Universities, should seem so unaware of the elements of the Westminster model of  constitutional jurisprudence which guides our polity too.

It is too late now and the mistakes have been made.   I hope his  new Government will  come to realise at some point and then keep in mind that our Executive receives political legitimacy from Parliament, not vice versa.   An Executive can hardly be legitimately in office until the  Parliament that is supposed to elect it has been sworn in.

As for our putative Opposition in the Parliament-yet-to-meet, it seems to have drawn a blank too, and eo ipso revealed its own constitutional backwardness and lethargy.

Subroto Roy, Kolkata

How tightly will organised Big Business be able to control economic policies this time?

The power of organised Big Business over New Delhi’s economic policies (whether Congress-led or BJP-led) was signalled by the presence in the audience at Rashtrapati Bhavan last week of several prominent lobbyists when Dr Manmohan Singh and his senior-most Cabinet colleagues were being sworn-in by the President of India. Why were such witnesses needed at such an auspicious national occasion?

Organised Big Business (both private sector and public sector) along with organised Big Labour (whose interests are represented most ably by New Delhi’s official communist parties like the CPI-M and CPI), are astutely aware of how best to advance their own economic interests; this usually gets assisted nicely enough through clever use of our comprador English-language TV, newspaper and magazine media. Shortly after the election results, lobbyists were all over commercial TV proposing things like FDI in insurance and airports etc– as if that was the meaning of the Sonia-Rahul mandate or were issues of high national priority. A typical piece of such “pretend-economics” appears in today’s business-press from a formerly Leftist Indian bureaucrat: “With its decisive victory, the new Manmohan Singh government should at last be able to implement the required second generation reforms. Their lineaments (sic) are well known and with the removal of the Left’s veto, many of those stalled in the legislature as well as those which were forestalled can now be implemented. These should be able to put India back on a 9-10 per cent per annum growth rate…”

Today’s business-press also reports that the new Government is planning to create a fresh “Disinvestment Ministry” and Dr Singh’s chief economic policy aide is “a frontrunner among the names short-listed to head the new ministry” with Cabinet rank.

Now if any enterprising doctoral student was to investigate the question, I think the evidence would show that I, and I alone – not even BR Shenoy or AD Shroff or Jagdish Bhagwati — may have been the first among Indian economists to have argued in favour of the privatisation of India’s public sector. I did so precisely 25 years ago in Pricing, Planning and Politics: A Study of Economic Distortions in India, which was so unusual for its time that it attracted the lead editorial of The Times of London on the day it was published May 29 1984, and had its due impact on Indian economic policy then and since, as has been described elsewhere here.  In 1990-1991 while with Rajiv Gandhi, I had floated an idea of literally giving away shares of the public sector to the public that owned it (as several other countries had been doing at that time), specifically perhaps giving them to the poorest panchayats in aid of their development.  In 2004-2005, upon returning to Britain after many years, I helped create the book Margaret Thatcher’s Revolution: How it Happened and What it Meant, and Margaret Thatcher if anyone was a paragon of privatisation.

That being said, I have to say I think a new Indian policy of creating a Ministry to privatise India’s public sector is probably a very BAD idea indeed in present circumstances — mainly because it will be driven by the interests of the organised Big Business lobbies that have so profoundly and subtly been able to control the New Delhi Government’s behaviour in recent decades.

Such lobbyist control is exercised often without the Government even realising or comprehending its parameters. For example, ask yourself: Is there any record anywhere of Dr Manmohan Singh, in his long career as a Government economist and then as a Rajya Sabha MP, having ever proposed before 2004-2005 that nuclear reactors were something vitally important to India’s future? And why do you suppose the most prominent Indian business lobby spent a million dollars and registered itself as an official lobbyist in Washington DC to promote the nuclear deal among American legislators? Because Big Business was feeling generous and altruistic towards the “energy security” of the ordinary people of India? Hardly.  Indian Big Business calculates and acts in its own interests, as is only to be expected under economic assumptions; those interests are frequently camouflaged by their lobbyist and media friends into seeming to be economic policy for the country as a whole.

Now our Government every year produces paper rupees and bank deposits in  practically unlimited amounts to pay for its practically unlimited deficit financing, and it has behaved thus over decades. Why we do not hear about this at all is because the most prominent Government economists themselves remain clueless — sometimes by choice, mostly by sheer ignorance — about the nature of the macroeconomic process that they are or have been part of.  (See my  “India’s Macroeconomics”, “The Dream Team: A Critique” etc elsewhere here). As for the Opposition’s economists, the less said about the CPI-M’s economists the better while the BJP, poor thing, has absolutely no economists at all!

Briefly speaking, Indian Big Business has acquired an acute sense of this long-term nominal/paper expansion of India’s economy, and as a result acts towards converting wherever possible its own hoards of paper rupees and rupee-denominated assets into more valuable portfolios for itself of real or durable assets, most conspicuously including hard-currency denominated assets, farm-land and urban real-estate, and, now, the physical assets of the Indian public sector. Such a path of trying to transform local domestic paper assets – produced unlimitedly by Government monetary and fiscal policy and naturally destined to depreciate — into real durable assets, is a privately rational course of action to follow in an inflationary economy.  It is not rocket-science  to realise the long-term path of the Indian rupee is downwards in comparison to the hard-currencies of the world – just compare our money supply growth and inflation rates with those of the rest of the world.

The Statesman of November 15 2006 had a lead editorial titled Government’s land-fraud: Cheating peasants in a hyperinflation-prone economy. It said:

“There is something fundamentally dishonourable about the way the Centre, the state of West Bengal and other state governments are treating the issue of expropriating peasants, farm-workers, petty shop-keepers etc of their small plots of land in the interests of promoters, industrialists and other businessmen. Singur may be but one example of a phenomenon being seen all over the country: Hyderabad, Karnataka, Kerala, Haryana, everywhere. So-called “Special Economic Zones” will merely exacerbate the problem many times over. India and its governments do not belong only to business and industrial lobbies, and what is good for private industrialists may or may not be good for India’s people as a whole. Economic development does not necessarily come to be defined by a few factories or high-rise housing complexes being built here or there on land that has been taken over by the Government, paying paper-money compensation to existing stakeholders, and then resold to promoters or industrialists backed by powerful political interest-groups on a promise that a few thousand new jobs will be created. One fundamental problem has to do with inadequate systems of land-description and definition, implementation and recording of property rights. An equally fundamental problem has to do with fair valuation of land owned by peasants etc. in terms of an inconvertible paper-money. Every serious economist knows that “land” is defined as that specific factor of production and real asset whose supply is fixed and does not increase in response to its price. Every serious economist also knows that paper-money is that nominal asset whose price can be made to catastrophically decline by a massive increase in its supply, i.e. by Government printing more of the paper it holds a monopoly to print. For Government to compensate people with paper-money it prints itself by valuing their land on the basis of an average of the price of the last few years, is for Government to cheat them of the fair present-value of the land. That present-value of land must be calculated in the way the present-value of any asset comes to be calculated, namely, by summing the likely discounted cash-flows of future values. And those future values should account for the likelihood of a massive future inflation causing decline in the value of paper-money in view of the fact we in India have a domestic public debt of some Rs. 30 trillion (Rs. 30 lakh crore) and counting, and money supply growth rates averaging 16-17% per annum. In fact, a responsible Government would, given the inconvertible nature of the rupee, have used foreign exchange or gold as the unit of account in calculating future-values of the land. India’s peasants are probably being cheated by their Government of real assets whose value is expected to rise, receiving nominal paper assets in compensation whose value is expected to fall.”

Mamata Banerjee started her famous protest fast-unto-death in Kolkata not long afterwards, riveting the nation’s attention in the winter of 2006-2007.

What goes for the government buying land on behalf of its businessman friends also goes, mutatis mutandis, for the public sector’s real assets being bought up by the private sector using domestic paper money in a potentially hyperinflationary economy.  If Dr Singh’s new Government wishes to see real public sector assets being sold, let the Government seek to value these assets not in inconvertible rupees which the Government itself has been producing in unlimited quantities but rather in forex or gold-units instead!

Today’s headline says “Short of cash, govt. plans to revive disinvestment ministry”. Big Business’s powerful lobbies will suggest  that real public assets must be sold  (to whom? to organised Big Business of course!) in order to solve the grave fiscal problems in an inflationary economy caused precisely by those grave  fiscal problems! What I said in 2002 at IndiaSeminar may still be found to apply: I said the BJP’s privatisation ideas “deserve to be condemned…because they have made themselves believe that the proceeds of selling the public sector should merely go into patching up the bleeding haemorrhage which is India’s fiscal and monetary situation… (w)hile…Congress were largely responsible for that haemorrhage to have occurred in the first place.”

If the new Government would like to know how to proceed more wisely, they need to read and grasp, in the book edited by myself and Professor John Clarke in 2004-2005, the chapter by Professor Patrick Minford on Margaret Thatcher’s fiscal and monetary policy (macroeconomics) before they read the chapter by Professor Martin Ricketts on Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation (microeconomics).  India’s fiscal and monetary or macroeconomic problems are far worse today than Britain’s were when Thatcher came in.

During the recent Election Campaign, I contrasted Dr Singh’s flattering praise in 2005 of the CPI-M’s Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee with Sonia Gandhi’s pro-Mamata line in 2009 saying the CPI-M had taken land away from the poor.  This may soon signal a new fault-line in the new Cabinet too on economic policy with respect to not only land but also public sector privatisation – with Dr Singh’s pro-Big Business acolytes on one side and Mamata Banerjee’s stance in favour of small-scale unorganised business and labour on the other.  Party heavyweights like Dr Singh himself and Sharad Pawar and Pranab Mukherjee will weigh in one side or the other with Sonia being asked in due course to referee.

I personally am delighted to see the New Rahul Gandhi deciding not to be in Government and to instead reflect further on the “common man” and “common woman” about whom I had described his father talking to me on September 18 1990 at his home. Certainly the “aam admi” is not someone to be found among India’s organised Big Business or organised Big Labour nor their paid lobbyists in the big cities.

Subroto Roy, Kolkata

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Why has the Sonia Congress done something that the Congress under Nehru-Indira-Rajiv would not have done, namely, exaggerate the power of the Rajya Sabha and diminish the power of the Lok Sabha?

We in India did not invent the idea of Parliament, the British did.  Even the British did not invent the idea of a “Premier Ministre”, the French did that, though the British came to develop its meaning most.  Because these are not our own inventions, when something unusual happens in contemporary India to political entities and offices known as “Parliament”, “Prime Minister” etc, contrast and comparison is inevitable with standards and practices that have prevailed around the world in other parliamentary democracies.

Indeed we in India did not even fully invent the idea of our own Parliament though the national struggle led by the original Indian National Congress caused it to come to be invented.  The Lok Sabha is the outcome of a long and distinguished constitutional and political history from the Morley-Minto reforms a century ago to the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms and Government of India Act of 1919 to the Government of India Act of 1935 and the first general elections of British India in 1937 (when Jawaharlal Nehru briefly became PM for the first time) and in due course the 1946 Constituent Assembly.   Out of all this emerged the 1950 Constitution of India, drafted by that brilliant jurist BR Ambedkar as well as other sober intelligent well-educated and dedicated men and women of his time, and thence arose our first Lok Sabha following the 1951 General Elections.

About the Lok Sabha’s duties, I said in my March 30 2006 article “Logic of Democracy” in The Statesman

“What are Lok Sabha Members and State MLAs legitimately required to be doing in caring for their constituents? First of all, as a body as a whole, they need to elect the Government, i.e. the Executive Branch, and to hold it accountable in Parliament or Assembly. For example, the Comptroller and Auditor General submits his reports directly to the House, and it is the duty of individual legislators to put these to good use in controlling the Government’s waste, fraud or abuse of public resources.   Secondly, MPs and MLAs are obviously supposed to literally represent their individual constituencies in the House, i.e. to bring the Government and the House’s attention to specific problems or contingencies affecting their constituents as a whole, and call for the help, funds and sympathy of the whole community on their behalf.  Thirdly, MPs and MLAs are supposed to respond to pleas and petitions of individual constituents, who may need the influence associated with the dignity of their office to get things rightly done. For example, an impoverished orphan lad once needed surgery to remove a brain tumour; a family helping him was promised the free services of a top brain surgeon if a hospital bed and operating theatre could be arranged. It was only by turning to the local MLA that the family were able to get such arrangements made, and the lad had his tumour taken out at a public hospital. MPs and MLAs are supposed to vote for and create public goods and services, and to use their moral suasion to see that existing public services actually do get to reach the public.”

What about the Rajya Sabha?  I said in the same article:

“Rajya Sabha Members are a different species altogether. Most if not all State Legislative Councils have been abolished, and sadly the present nature of the Rajya Sabha causes similar doubts to arise about its utility. The very idea of a Rajya Sabha was first mooted in embryo form in an 1888 book A History of the Native States of India, Vol I. Gwalior, whose author also advocated popular constitutions for the “Indian India” of the “Native States” since “where there are no popular constitutions, the personal character of the ruler becomes a most important factor in the government… evils are inherent in every government where autocracy is not tempered by a free constitution.”  When Victoria was declared India’s “Empress” in 1877, a “Council of the Empire” was mooted but had remained a non-starter even until the 1887 Jubilee. An “Imperial Council” was now designed of the so-called “Native Princes”, which came to evolve into the “Chamber of Princes” which became the “Council of the States” and the Rajya Sabha.  It was patterned mostly on the British and not the American upper house except in being not liable to dissolution, and compelling periodic retirement of a third of members. The American upper house is an equal if not the senior partner of the lower house. Our Rajya Sabha follows the British upper house in being a chamber which is duty-bound to oversee any exuberance in the Lok Sabha but which must ultimately yield to it if there is any dispute.  Parliament in India’s democracy effectively means the Lok Sabha — where every member has contested and won a direct vote in his/her constituency. The British upper house used to have an aristocratic hereditary component which Tony Blair’s New Labour Government has now removed, so it has now been becoming more like what the Rajya Sabha was supposed to have been like.”

The Canadian upper house is similar to ours in intent: a place for “sober second thought” intended to curb the “democratic excesses” of the lower house.   In the Canadian, British, Australian, Irish and our own cases, the Prime Minister, as the chief executive of the lower house has immense indirect power over the upper house, whether in appointing members or even, in the Australian case, dissolving the entire upper house if he/she wishes.

Now yesterday apparently Shrimati Sonia Gandhi, as the duly elected leader of the largest political party in the 15th Lok Sabha, accompanied by Dr Manmohan Singh, as her party’s choice for the position of Prime Minister, went to see the President of India where the Hon’ble President apparently appointed Dr Singh to be the Prime Minister of India – meaning the Prime Minister of the 15th Lok Sabha, except that Dr Singh is not a member of the Lok Sabha and apparently has had no intent of becoming one.

In 2004 Shrimati Gandhi had declined to accept an invitation to become PM and instead effectively recommended Dr Singh to be PM despite his not being a member of the Lok Sabha nor intending to be so.   This exploited a constitutional loophole to the extent that the drafters of our 1950 Constitution happened not to have explicitly stated that the PM must be from the Lok Sabha.  But the reason the founders of our democratic polity such as BR Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru did not specify that the PM must be from the Lok Sabha was quite simply that it was a matter of complete obviousness to them and to their entire generation that this must be so — it would have been  appalling to them and something beyond their wildest imagination that a later generation, namely our own, would exploit such a loophole and allow a PM to be appointed who is not a member of the Lok Sabha and intends not to be so.

Ambedkar, Nehru and all others of their time knew fully well that the history and intended purpose of the Lok Sabha was completely different from the history and intended purpose of the Rajya Sabha.  They knew too fully well that Lord Curzon had been explicitly denied the leadership of Britain’s Tory Party in 1922 because that would have made him a potential PM  when he was not prepared to be a member of the House of Commons.  That specific precedent culminated a centuries’-old  democratic trend of  political power flowing from monarchs to lords to commoners, and has governed all parliamentary democracies  worldwide ever since — until Dr Singh’s appointment in 2004.

When such an anomalous situation once arose in Britain, Lord Home resigned his membership of the House of Lords to contest a House of Commons seat as Sir Alec Douglas Home so that he could be PM in a manner consistent with parliamentary law.

Dr Singh instead for five years remained PM of India while not being a member of the Lok Sabha.  Even if reasons and exigencies of State could have been cited for such an anomalous situation during his first term, there was really no such reason for him not to contest the 2009 General Election if he wished to be the Congress Party’s prime ministerial candidate a second time.  Numerous Rajya Sabha members alongside him have contested Lok Sabha seats this time, and several have won.

As of today, Dr Singh is due to be sworn in tomorrow as Prime Minister for a second term while still having no declared intention of resigning from the Rajya Sabha and contesting a Lok Sabha seat instead.   What the present-day Congress has done is elect him the leader of the “Congress Parliamentary Party” and claim that it is in such a capacity that he received the invitation to be Prime Minister of India.   But surely if the question had been asked to the Congress Party under Nehru or Indira or Rajiv: “Can you foresee a circumstance ever in which the PM of India is not a member of the Lok Sabha?” their answer in each case would have been a categorical and resounding  “no”.

So the question does arise why the Congress under Sonia Gandhi has with deliberation allowed such an anomalous situation to develop.  Its effect is to completely distort the trends of relative political power between the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.  On the one hand, the Lok Sabha’s power is deliberately made to diminish as the chief executive of the Government of India shall not be from the Lok Sabha but from “the other place” despite the Lok Sabha having greater political legitimacy by having been directly elected by India’s people.   This sets a precedent that  might  get repeated in India  in the future but which contradicts the worldwide trend in parliamentary democracies over decades and centuries in precisely the opposite direction –  of power flowing in the direction of the people not away from them.   On the other hand, the fact this anomalous idea has been pioneered by the elected leader of the largest political party in the Lok Sabha while her PM is in the Rajya Sabha causes a member of the lower house to have unexpected control over the upper house when the latter is supposed to be something of an independent check on the former!

It all really seems an unnecessary muddle and a jumbling up of normal constitutional law and parliamentary procedure.  The Sonia-Manmohan Government at the outset of its second term should hardly want to be seen by history as having set a poor precedent using brute force.  The situation can be corrected with the utmost ease by following the Alec Douglas Home example, with Dr Singh being given a relatively safe seat to contest as soon as possible, if necessary by some newly elected Congress MP resigning and allowing a bye-election to be called.

Subroto Roy