No magic wand, Professor Rajan? Oh but there is…2013 (Plus: 7 Jan 2016 “Professor Rajan stays or goes? My answer to a query”)

7 January 2016
rajan

3 June 2014

from World Economy & Central Banking Seminar at Facebook

Professor Rajan’s statement “I determine the monetary policy. I say what it is….ultimately the interest rate that is set is set by me” equates Indian monetary policy with the money interest rate; but monetary policy in India has always involved far more than that, namely, the bulk of Indian banking and insurance has been in government hands for decades, all these institutions have been willy-nilly compelled to hold vast stocks of government debt, both Union and State, on their asset-sides…and unlimited unending deficit finance has led to vast expansion of money supply, making it all rather fragile. My “India’s Money” in 2012 might be found useful. http://tinyurl.com/o9dhe8d

11 April 2014

from World Economy & Central Banking Seminar at Facebook

I have to wonder, What is Professor Rajan on about? Growth in an individual country is affected by the world monetary system? Everyone for almost a century has seen it being a real phenomenon affected by other real factors like savings propensities, capital accumulation, learning and productivity changes, innovation, and, broadly, technological progress… A “source country” needs to consult “recipient” countries before it starts or stops Quantitative Easing? Since when? The latter can always match policy such as to be more or less unaffected… unless of course it wants to ride along for free when the going is good and complain loudly when it is not…. Monetary policy may affect the real economy but as a general rule we may expect growth (a real phenomenon) to be affected by other real factors like savings propensities, capital accumulation, learning and productivity changes, innovation, and, broadly, technological progress..

22 September 2013

“Let us remember that the postponement of tapering is only that, a postponement. We must use this time to create a bullet proof national balance sheet and growth agenda, which creates confidence in citizens and investors alike…”

I will say the statement above is the first sensible thing I have heard Dr Rajan utter anywhere, cutting through all the hype…I should also think he may be underestimating the task at hand, so here’s some help as to what needs to be done from my 19 Aug 2013 Mint article “A wand for Raghuram Rajan” and my 3 Dec 2012 Delhi lecture:

“Rajan has apparently said, “We do not have a magic wand to make the problems disappear instantaneously, but I have absolutely no doubt we will deal with them.” Of course there are no magic wands but there is a scientific path forward. It involves system-wide improvements in public finance and accounting using modern information technology to comprehend government liabilities and expenditures and raise their productivity. It also involves institutional changes in public decision-making like separating banking and central banking from the treasury while making the planning function serve the treasury function rather than pretend to be above it. It is a road long and arduous but at its end both corruption and inflation will have been reduced to minimal levels. The rupee will have acquired sufficient integrity to become a hard currency of the world in the sense the average resident of, say, rural Madhya Pradesh or Mizoram may freely convert rupees and hold or trade foreign currencies or precious metals as he/she pleases. India signed the treaty of Versailles as a victor and was an original member of the League of Nations, the United Nations and the IMF. Yet sovereign India has failed to develop a currency universally acceptable as freely convertible world money. It is necessary and possible for India to aim to do so because without such a national aim, the integrity of the currency continues to be damaged regularly by governmental abuse. An RBI governor’s single overriding goal should be to try to bring a semblance of integrity to India’s money both domestically and worldwide.”

 

 

19 August 2013

A wand for Raghuram Rajan

9 August 2013

No magic wand, Professor Rajan? Oh but there is… read up all this over some hours and you will find it… (Of course it’s not from magic really,  just hard economic science & politics)

Professor Raghuram Govind Rajan of the University of Chicago Business School deserves everyone’s congratulations on his elevation to the Reserve Bank of India’s Governorship.  But I am afraid I cannot share the wild optimism in India’s business media over this.  Of course there are several positives to the appointment.  First, having a genuine PhD and that too from a top school is a rarity among India’s policy-makers; Rajan earned a 1991 PhD in finance at MIT’s management school for a thesis titled “Essays on banking” (having to do we are told “with the downside to cozy bank-firm relationships”).   Secondly, and related,  he has not been a career bureaucrat as almost all RBI Governors have been in recent decades.  Thirdly, he has been President of the American Finance Association, he won the first Fischer Black prize in finance of that Association, and during Anne Krueger’s 2001-2006 reign as First Deputy MD at the IMF, he was given the research role made well-known by the late Michael Mussa, that of “Economic Counselor” of the IMF.

Hence, altogether, Professor Rajan has come to be well-known over the last decade in the West’s financial media. Given the dismal state of India’s credit in world capital markets, that is an asset for a new RBI Governor to have.

On the negatives, first and foremost, if Professor Rajan has renounced at any time his Indian nationality, surrendered his Indian passport and sworn the naturalization oath of the USA, then he is a US citizen with a US passport and loyalty owed to that country, and by US law he will have to enter the USA using that and no other nationality.  If that happens to be the factual case, it will be something that comes out in India’s political cauldron for sure, and there will arise legal issues and court orders  barring him from heading the RBI or representing India officially, e.g. when standing in for India’s Finance Minister at the IMF in Washington or the BIS in Basle etc.   Was he an Indian national as Economic Counselor at the IMF?   The IMF has a tradition of only European MDs and at least one American First Deputy MD.   The Economic Counselor was always American too; did Rajan break that by having remained Indian, or conform to it by having become American?  It is a simple question of fact which needs to come out clearly.   Even if Rajan is an American, he and the Government of India could perhaps try to cite to the Indian courts the new precedent set by the venerable Bank of England which recently appointed a Canadian as Governor.

Secondly, does Professor Rajan know enough (or “have enough domain knowledge” in the modern term) to comprehend let aside confront India’s myriad monetary and public finance problems?  Much of his academic experience in the USA and his approach to Western financial markets may be quite simply divorced from the reality of Indian credit markets and India’s peculiar monetary and banking system as these have evolved over decades and centuries.  Mathematical finance is a relatively new, small specialised American sub-field of economic theory, and not a part of general economics. Rajan’s academic path of engineering and management in India followed by a finance thesis in the management department of a US engineering school may have exposed him to relatively little formal textbook micro- and macroeconomics, monetary economics, public finance, international economics, economic development etc, especially as these relate to Indian circumstances  “Growing up in India, I had seen poverty all around me. I had read about John Maynard Keynes and thought, wow, here’s a guy who managed to have an enormous influence on the world. Economics must be very important.”… He ran across Robert Merton’s paper on rational option pricing, and something clicked that set him on his own intellectual path. “It all came together. You didn’t have these touchy-feely ways of describing human behavior; there were neat arbitrage ways of pricing things. It just seemed so clever and sophisticated,” he said. “And I could use the math skills that I fancied I had, so I decided to get my PhD.”

Let me take two examples.  Does Rajan realise how the important Bottomley-Chandavarkar debates of the 1960s about India’s rural credit markets influenced George Akerlof’s “Market for Lemons” theory and prompted much work on “asymmetric information”, 325.extract signalling etc in credit-markets, insurance-markets, labour-markets and markets in general, as acknowledged in the awards of several Bank of Sweden prizes?  Or will he need a tutorial on the facts of rural India’s financial and credit markets, and their relationship with the formal sector?  What the Bottomley-Chandavarkar debate referred to half a century ago still continues in rural India insofar as large arbitrage profits are still made by trading across the artificially low rates of money interest caused by financial repression of India’s “formal” monetised sector with its soft inconvertible currency against the very high real rates of return on capital in the “informal” sector.   It is obvious to the naked eye that India is a relatively labour-abundant country.  It follows the relative price of labour will be low and relative price of capital high compared to, e.g. the Western or Middle Eastern economies, with mobile factors of production like labour and capital expected to flow accordingly across national boundaries.   Indian nominal interest-rates in organized credit markets have been for decades tightly controlled, making it necessary to go back to Irving Fisher’s data to obtain benchmark interest-rates, which, as expected, are at least 2%-3% higher in India than in Western capital markets. Joan Robinson once explained “the difference between 30% in an Indian village and 3% in London” saying “side by side with the industrial revolution went great technical progress in the provision of credit and the reduction of lender’s risk.”

What is logically certain is no country can have both relatively low world prices for labour and relatively low world prices for capital!  Yet that impossibility seems to have been what India’s purported economic “planners” have planned to engineer!  The effect of financial repression over decades may have been to artificially “reverse” or “switch” the risk-premium — making it lucrative for there to be capital flight out of India, with real rates of return on capital within India being made artificially lower than those in world markets!   Just as enough export subsidies and tariffs can make a country artificially “reverse” its comparative advantage with its structure of exports and imports becoming inverted, so a labour-rich capital-scarce country may, with enough financial repression, end up causing a capital flight.  The Indian elite’s capital flight out of India exporting their adult children and savings overseas may be explained as having been induced by government policy itself.

431314_10150617690307285_69226771_n

Secondly, Professor Rajan as a finance and banking specialist, will see at once the import of this graph above that has never been produced let aside comprehended by the RBI, yet which uses the purest RBI data.  It shows India’s mostly nationalised banks have decade after decade gotten weaker and weaker financially, being kept afloat by continually pumping in of new “capital” via “recapitalisation” from the government that owns them, using more and more of the soft inconvertible currency that has been debauched merrily by government planners.  The nationalised banks with their powerful pampered employee unions, like other powerful pampered employee unions in the government sector, have been the bane of India, where a mere 30 million privileged people in a vast population work with either the government or the organised private sector.  The RBI’s own workforce at last count was perhaps 75,000… the largest central bank staff in the world by far!

Will Rajan know how to bring some system out of the institutional chaos that prevails in Indian banking and central banking?  If not, he should start with the work of James Hanson “Indian Banking: Market Liberalization and the Pressures for Institutional and Market Framework Reform”, contained in the book created by Anne Krueger who brought him into the IMF, and mentioned in my 2012 article “India’s Money” linked below.

The central question for any 21st century RBI Governor worth the name really becomes whether he or she can stand up to the Finance Ministry and insist that the RBI stop being a mere department of it — even perhaps insisting on constitutional status for its head to fulfill the one over-riding aim of trying to bring a semblance of integrity to India’s currency both domestically and worldwide.  Instead it is the so-called “Planning Commission” which has been dominating the Treasury that needs to be made a mere department of the Finance Ministry, while the RBI comes to be hived off to independence!  

Professor Rajan has apparently said “We do not have a magic wand to make the problems disappear instantaneously, but I have absolutely no doubt we will deal with them.”  Of course there are no magic wands but my 3 December 2012 talk in Delhi  has described the right path forward, complex and difficult as this may be.

The path forward involves system-wide improvements in public finance and accounting using modern information technology to comprehend government liabilities and expenditures and raise their productivity, plus institutional changes in public decision-making like separating banking and central banking from the Treasury while making the planning function serve the Treasury function rather than pretend to be above it.  The road described is long and arduous but at its end both corruption and inflation will have been reduced to minimal levels, and the rupee would have acquired integrity enough to become a hard currency of the world in the sense the average resident of, say, rural Madhya Pradesh or Mizoram may freely convert rupees and hold or trade foreign currencies or precious metals as he/she pleases.

3dec

India signed the Treaty of Versailles as a victor and was an original member of the League of Nations, UN and IMF.  Yet sovereign India has failed to develop a currency universally acceptable as a freely convertible world money. It is necessary and possible for India to do so. Without such a national aim, the integrity of the currency continues to be damaged regularly by governmental abuse. 

Professor Rajan will not want to be merely an adornment for the GoI in world capital markets for a few  years, waiting to get back to his American career and life and perhaps to the IMF again.  As RBI Governor, he can find his magic wand if he reads and reflects hard enough using his undoubted academic acumen, and then acts to lead India accordingly.  Here is the basic reading list:

“India’s Money” (2012)

“Monetary Integrity and the Rupee” (2008)

“India’s Macroeconomics” (2007)

“Fiscal Instability” (2007)

“Fallacious Finance” (2007)

“Growth and Government Delusion” (2008)

“India in World Trade & Payments” (2007)

“Path of the Indian Rupee 1947-1993” (1993)

“Our Policy Process” (2007)

“Indian Money and Credit” (2006)

“Indian Money and Banking” (2006)

Indian Inflation

“Growth of Real Income, Money & Prices in India 1869-2004” (2005)

“How to Budget” (2008)

“Waffle but No Models of Monetary Policy: The RBI and Financial Repression (2005)”

“The Dream Team: A Critique” (2006)

“Against Quackery” (2007)

“Mistaken Macroeconomics” (2009)

“The Indian Revolution (2008)”

https://independentindian.com/2013/11/23/coverage-of-my-delhi-talk-on-3-dec-2012/

Enjoy!

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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 on 3 March 2011, followed the next day by the Indian Foreign Secretary phoning to give me an appointment to brief her about my talk upon my return) came to be sabotaged by two Pakistanis and two Indian politicians associated with them. (Both of the Indian politicians had bad karma catch up immediately afterwards!)

 

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.”

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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“Yes we might be able to do that. Perhaps we ought to. But again, perhaps we ought not to, let me think about it…. Most important is Cromwell’s advice: Think it possible we may be mistaken!”

President Barack Obama will be in all likelihood as worthy and competent a head of state and head of government as there has been anywhere, and, as he enters his high office, he deserves the good wishes of the world.

The beautiful  State of Hawaii can proudly call him its most famous native son.

South Beretania where he apparently lived some years is a short walk from Punahou Towers at  1621 Dole where I once owned a condo, from which could be seen the  school the new President attended for some time.   He happens to be the first  US President in my lifetime whom I find myself older than in age.

I expect President Obama may well find  governance  to be  much different from the campaign:  requiring more truth and less rhetoric,  more circumspection and  less dogmatism.

“Yes we can” will likely have to give way to something like “Yes we might be able to do that.  Perhaps we ought to.  But again, perhaps we ought not to.  I think I’ll have to think about this one more time.”

Most important might be the words of Oliver Cromwell: “Think it possible you may be mistaken”.

Subroto Roy, Kolkata

January 20 2009

Transparency and Economic Policy-Making

Transparency and Economic Policy-Making

An address by Professor Subroto Roy to the Asia-Pacific Public Relations Conference, (panel on Transparency chaired by C. R. Irani) January 30 1998.

This talk is dedicated to the memory of my sister Suchandra Bhattacharjee (14.02.1943-10.01.1998).
1. I would like to talk about transparency and economic policy-making in our country. For something to be transparent is, in plain language, for it to be able to be openly seen through, for it to not to be opaque, obscure or muddy, for it to be clear to the naked eye or to the reasonable mind. A clear glass of water is a transparent glass of water. Similarly, an open and easily comprehensible set of economic policies is a transparent set of economic policies.

The philosopher Karl Popper wrote a famous book after the Second World War titled The Open Society and its Enemies. It contained a passionate defence of liberal institutions and democratic freedoms and a bitter attack on totalitarian doctrines of all kinds. It generated a lot of controversy, especially over its likely misreading of the best known work of political philosophy since the 4th Century BC, namely, Plato’s Republic .[1] I shall borrow Popper’s terms ‘open society’ and ‘closed society’ and will first try to make this a useful distinction for modern times, and then apply it to the process of economic policy-making in India today.

2. An open society is one in which the ordinary citizen has reasonably easy access to any and all information relating to the public or social interest — whether the information is directly available to the citizen himself or herself, or is indirectly available to his or her elected representatives like MP’s and MLA’s. Different citizens will respond to the same factual information in different ways, and conflict and debate about the common good will result. But that would be part of the democratic process.

The assessment that any public makes about the government of the day depends on both good and bad news about the fate of the country at any given time. In an open society, both good news and bad news is out there in the pubic domain — open to be assessed, debated, rejoiced over, or wept about. If we win a cricket match or send a woman into space we rejoice. If we lose a child in a manhole or a busload of children in a river, we weep. If some tremendous fraud on the public exchequer comes to be exposed, we are appalled. And so on.

It is the hallmark of an open society that its citizens are mature enough to cope with both the good and the bad news about their country that comes to be daily placed before them. Or, perhaps more accurately, the experience of having to handle both good and bad news daily about their world causes the citizens in an open society to undergo a process of social maturation in formulating their understanding of the common good as well as their responses to problems or crises that the community may come to face. They might be thereby thought of as improving their civic capacities, as becoming better-informed and more discerning voters and decision-makers, and so becoming better citizens of the country in which they live.

The opposite of an open society is a closed society — one in which a ruling political party or a self-styled elite or nomenclatura keep publicly important information to themselves, and do not allow the ordinary citizen easy or reasonably free access to it. The reason may be merely that they are intent on accumulating assets for themselves as quickly as they can while in office, or that they are afraid of public anger and want to save their own skins from demands for accountability. Or it may be that they have the impression that the public is better off kept in the dark — that only the elite nomenclatura is in position to use the information to serve the national interest.

In a closed society it is inevitable that bad news comes to be censored or suppressed by the nomenclatura, and so the good news gets exaggerated in significance. News of economic disasters, military defeats or domestic uprisings gets suppressed. News of victories or achievements or heroics gets exaggerated. If there are no real victories, achievements or heroics, fake ones have to be invented by government hacks — although the suppressed bad news tends to silently whisper all the way through the public consciousness in any case.

Such is the way of government propaganda in almost every country, even those that pride themselves on being free and democratic societies. Dostoevsky’s cardinal advice in Brothers Karamasov was: “Above all, never lie to yourself”. Yet people in power tend to become so adept at propaganda that they start to deceive themselves and forget what is true and what is false, or worse still, cannot remember how to distinguish between true and false in the first place. In an essay thirty years ago titled Truth and Politics, the American scholar Hannah Arendt put it like this:

“Insofar as man carries within himself a partner from whom he can never win release, he will be better off not to live with a murderer or a liar; or: since thought is the silent dialogue carried out between me and myself, I must be careful to keep the integrity of this partner intact, for otherwise I shall surely lose the capacity for thought altogether.”[2]

3. Closed societies may have been the rule and open societies the exception for most of human history. The good news at the end of the 20th Century is surely that since November 7 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, the closed society has officially ceased to be a respectable form of human social organization. The age of mass access to television and telecommunications at the end of the 20th Century may be spelling the permanent end of totalitarianism and closed societies in general. The Berlin Wall was perhaps doomed to fall the first day East Germans were able to watch West German television programs.

Other than our large and powerful neighbour China, plus perhaps North Korea, Myanmar, and some Islamic countries, declared closed societies are becoming hard to find, and China remains in two minds whether to be open or closed. No longer is Russia or Romania or Albania or South Africa closed in the way each once was for many years. There may be all sorts of problems and confusions in these countries but they are or trying to become open societies.

Under the glare of TV cameras in the 21st Century, horrors like the Holocaust or the Gulag or even an atrocity like Jalianwalla Bag or the Mai Lai massacre will simply not be able to take place anywhere in the world. Such things are not going to happen, or if they do happen, it will be random terrorism and not systematic, large scale genocide of the sort the 20th Century has experienced. The good news is that somehow, through the growth of human ingenuity that we call technical progress, we may have made some moral progress as a species as well.

4. My hypothesis, then, is that while every country finds its place on a spectrum of openness and closedness with respect to its political institutions and availability of information, a broad and permanent drift has been taking place as the 20th Century comes to an end in the direction of openness.

With this greater openness we should expect bad news not to come to be suppressed or good news not to come to be exaggerated in the old ways of propaganda. Instead we should expect more objectively accurate information to come about in the public domain — i.e., better quality and more reliable information, in other words, more truthful information. This in turn commensurately requires more candour and maturity on the part of citizens in discussions about the national or social interest. Closed society totalitarianism permitted the general masses to remain docile and unthinking while the nomenclatura make the decisions. Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor said that is all that can be expected of the masses. Open society transparency and democracy defines the concept of an ordinary citizen and requires from that citizen individual rationality and individual responsibility. It is the requirement Pericles made of the Athenians:

“Here each individual is interested not only in his own affairs but in the affairs of the state as well; even those who are mostly occupied with their own business are extremely well-informed on general politics – this is a peculiarity of ours: we do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.”[3]

5. All this being said, I am at last in a position to turn to economic policy in India today. I am sorry to have been so long-winded and pedantic but now I can state my main substantive point bluntly: in India today, there is almost zero transparency in the information needed for effective macroeconomic policy-making whether at the Union or State levels. To illustrate by some examples.

(A) Macroeconomic policy-making in any large country requires the presence of half a dozen or a dozen well-defined competing models produced by the government and private agencies, specifying plausible causal links between major economic variables, and made testable against time-series data of reasonably long duration. In India we seem to have almost none. The University Economics Departments are all owned by some government or other and can hardly speak out with any academic freedom. When the Ministry of Finance or RBI or Planning Commission, or the India teams of the World Bank or IMF, make their periodic statements they do not appear to be based on any such models or any such data-base. If any such models exist, these need to be published and placed in the public domain for thorough discussion as to their specification and their data. Otherwise, whatever is being predicted cannot be assessed as being very much more reliable than the predictions obtained from the Finance Minister’s astrologer or palmist. (NB: Horse-Manure is a polite word used in the American South for what elsewhere goes by the initials of B. S.). Furthermore, there is no follow-up or critical review to see whether what the Government said was going to happen a year ago has in fact happened, and if not, why not.

(B) The Constitution of India defines many States yet no one seems to be quite certain how many States really constitute the Union of India at any given time. We began with a dozen. Some 565 petty monarchs were successfully integrated into a unitary Republic of India, and for some years we had sixteen States. But today, do we really have 26 States? Is Delhi a State? UP with 150 million people would be the fifth or sixth largest country in the world on its own; is it really merely one State of India? Are 11 Small States de facto Union Territories in view of their heavy dependence on the Union? Suppose we agreed there are fifteen Major States of India based on sheer population size: namely, Andhra, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, MP, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, UP and West Bengal. These States account for 93% of the population of India. The average population of these 15 Major States is 58 million people each. That is the size of a major country like France or Britain. In other words, the 870 million people in India’s Major States are numerically 15 Frances or 15 Britains put together.

Yet no reliable, uniformly collected GDP figures exist for these 15 States. The RBI has the best data, and these are at least two years old, and the RBI will tell you without further explanation that the data across States are not comparable. If that is the case at State-level, I do not see how the national-level Gross Domestic Product can possibly be estimated with any meaningfulness at all.

(C) Then we hear about the Government Budget deficit as a percentage of GDP. Now any national government is able to pay for its activities only by taxation or borrowing or by using its monopoly over the domestic medium of exchange to print new money. In India today, universal money-illusion seems to prevail. It would not be widely recognised by citizens, journalists or policy-makers that, say, 100,000 Rupees nominally taxed at 10% under 20% inflation leaves less real disposable income than the same taxed at 20% with 5% inflation. This is in part because inflation figures are unknown or suspect. There is no reliable all-India or State-level consumer price index. The wholesale price index on the basis of which the Government of India makes its inflation statements, may not accurately reflect the actual decline in the purchasing power of money, as measured, say, by rises in prices of alternative stores of value like land. The index includes artificially low administered or subsidized prices for petroleum, cereals, and electricity. To the extent these prices may be expected to move towards international equilibrium prices, the index contains a strong element of deferred inflation. One urgent task for all macroeconomic research in India is construction of reliable price-data indices at both Union and State levels, or at a minimum, the testing for reliability by international standards of series currently produced by Government agencies.

Without reliable macroeconomic information being spread widely through a reasonably well-informed electorate, the Government of India has been able to wash away fiscal budget constraints by monetization and inflation without significant response from voters. The routine method of meeting deficits has become “the use of the printing press to manufacture legal tender paper money”, either directly by paying Government creditors “with new paper money specially printed for the purpose” or indirectly by paying creditors “out of loans to itself from the Central Bank”, issuing paper money to that amount. Every Budget of the Government of India, including the most recent ones of 1996 and 1997, comes to be attended by detailed Press discussion with regard to the minutae of changes in tax rates or tax-collection — yet the enormous phenomena of the automatic monetization of the Government’s deficit is ill-understood and effectively ignored. Historically, a policy of monetization started with the British Government in India during the Second World War, with a more than five-fold increase in money supply occurring between 1939 and 1945. Inflation rates never seen in India before or since were the result (Charts 0000), attended by the Great Famine of 1942/43. Though these were brought down after succession of C. D. Deshmukh as Governor of the Reserve Bank, the policy of automatic monetization did not cease and continues until the present day. Inflation “sooner or later destroys the confidence, not only of businessmen, but of the whole community, in the future value of the currency. Then comes the stage known as “the flight from the currency.” Had the Rupee been convertible during the Bretton Woods period, depreciation would have signalled and helped to adjust for disequilibrium. But exchange-controls imposed during the War were enlarged by the new Governments of India and Pakistan after the British departure to exclude convertible Sterling Area currencies as well. With the Rupee no longer convertible, internal monetization of deficits could continue without commensurate exchange-rate depreciation.

The Reserve Bank was originally supposed to be a monetary authority independent of the Government’s fiscal compulsions. It has been prevented from developing into anything more than a department of the Ministry of Finance, and as such, has become the captive creditor of the Government. The RBI in turn has utilized its supervisory role over banking to hold captive creditors, especially nationalized banks whose liabilities account for 90% of commercial bank deposits in the country. Also captive are nationalized insurance companies and pension funds. Government debt instruments show on the asset side of these balance-sheets. To the extent these may not have been held had banks been allowed to act in the interests of proper management of depositors’ liabilities and share-capital according to normal principles, these are pseudo-assets worth small fractions of their nominal values. Chart 0000 shows that in the last five years the average term structure of Government debt has been shortening rapidly, suggesting the Government is finding it increasingly difficult to find creditors, and portending higher interest rates.

General recognition of these business facts, as may be expected to come about with increasing transparency, would be a recipe for a crisis of confidence in the banking and financial system if appropriate policies were not in place beforehand.

(D) As two last examples, I offer two charts. The first shows the domestic interest burden of the Government of India growing at an alarming rate, even after it has been deflated to real terms. The second tries to show India’s foreign assets and liabilities together – we always come to know what is happening to the RBI’s reserve levels, what is less known or less understood is the structure of foreign liabilities being accumulated by the country. Very roughly speaking, in terms that everyone can understand, every man, woman and child in India today owes something like 100 US dollars to the outside world. The Ministry of Finance will tell you that this is not to be worried about because it is long-term debt and not short-term debt. Even if we take them at their word, interest payments still have to be paid on long-term debt, say at 3% per annum. That means for the stock of debt merely to be financed, every man, woman and child in India must be earning $3 every year in foreign exchange via the sale of real goods and services abroad. I.e., something like $3 billion must be newly earned every year in foreign exchange merely to finance the existing stock of debt. Quite clearly, that is not happening and it would stretch the imagination to see how it can be made to happen.

In sum, then, India, blessed with democratic political traditions which we had to take from the British against their will — remember Tilak, “Freedom is my birthright, and I shall have it” — may still be stuck with a closed society mentality when it comes to the all-important issue of economic policy. There is simply an absence in Indian public discourse of vigourous discussion of economic models and facts, whether at Union or State levels. A friendly foreign ambassador pointedly observed an absence in India of political philosophy. It may be more accurate to say that without adequate experience of a normal agenda of government being seen to be practised, widespread ignorance regarding fiscal and monetary causalities and inexperience of the technology of governance remains in the Indian electorate, as well as among public decision-makers at all levels. Our politicians seem to spend an inordinate amount of their time either garlanding one another with flowers or garlanding statues and photographs of the glorious dead. It is high time they stopped to think about the living and the future.

[1] Renford Bambrough (ed.) Plato, Popper and Politics: Some Contributions to a Modern Controversy, 1967.

[2] Philosophy, Politics and Society, 2nd Series, Peter Laslett & W. G. Runciman (eds.), 1967.

[3] Thucydides, History of the Pelopennesian War, II.40.