AEP 73: Pakistan’s Hybrid Civil-Military Regime, with Saadia Toor

A sweep of Pakistan’s history, including the Left this time

I’m joined by the Anti-Empire Project’s special correspondent for Pakistan, Saadia Toor, professor at CSI CUNY and author of the State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan. Saadia gives us a quick sweep of Pakistan’s history including the key role of the left in the many twists and turns. We get caught up all the way to Imran Khan’s hybrid civil-military regime and the inspiring youth-led Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM).

Civilizations 20b: India 1857 pt 2 – the Revolution Defeated

India 1857, part 2

The Delhi Liberated Zone under Bahadur Shah Zafar falls; Tatia Tope and others fight on for another two years; the British kill perhaps 10 million Indian people (7% of the population); the 1857 has some victories even in defeat. But what does it all mean? We conclude our discussion with the concept of a point-of-view in history. I identify six different points of view (RSS, Congress, British imperialist, 1857 line, Subaltern Studies, and Marxist) and show how you end up having to pick one, and why I went with the “1857 line” on the event – for which the key source is Amaresh Mishra’s 2000 page book, War of Civilisations.

At the end of the episode, Dave and I discuss a table that I made about the different points of view I was able to identify in historical scholarship of 1857. The table we are looking at is in the Civilizations Resources Page under episode 20b.

I take full responsibility for this table, which I made up. Here is what I’d say is a representative source for each point of view. You may disagree – and I’m declaring my point of view, after reading all these, is with Misra and the 1857 line.

BJP – Savarkar, The Indian War of Independence

1857 line – Amaresh Misra, War of Civilisations

Marxist – Marx, the Indian War of Independence

Subaltern Studies – Guha, Prose of Counterinsurgency

British Imperialist – Kim Wagner, The Great Fear

Congress- Surendranath Sen, 1857

Civilizations 20a: 1857 – India’s War of Independence, pt1

India’s War of Independence – how and why it started

Are we really doing this? One podcaster with Indian roots and another with British roots, trying to do the history of 1857 India? This is the Civilizations podcast, so yes we are! I’m arguing that 1857 is up there with the other great revolutions of this time – 1848 or 1870 in Europe, or Bolivar’s campaigns in Latin America. Part 1 takes you from the antecedents and context through to the Delhi Liberated Zone under Bahadur Shah Zafar.

AEP 62: Kashmir and Xinjiang, with Carl Zha

Kashmir and Xinjiang

Another one in the Kung Fu Yoga series, with Carl Zha. 

This time we’re comparing the situations in Kashmir and Xinjiang, reporting what we’ve studied about state violence, censorship, economy, freedom of religion, popular agendas and state agendas of India and China in Kashmir and in Xinjiang.

AEP 61: Men’s self-help and propaganda from Jordan Peterson to Jocko Willink – with Amish Patel

Where do you get your rules for life?

Why do Indian boys love Jordan Peterson? If war is hell, as Jocko Willink says, why do they keep doing it? And is it unfair to consider Joe Rogan conservative?

To debate these questions, I’m joined by screenwriter and comedian Amish Patel, who analyzes fake gurus on the coffeezilla podcast. This episode is kind of a continuation of the episode 57 discussion with Dan about “super wealth through the right mindset”. 

AEP 56: The India China Border Clash of June 2020, with Carl Zha

The India-China Border Clash of June 2020, with Carl Zha

I talk to the incomparable Carl Zha of the Silk & Steel podcast about the border clashes between India and China in the Galwan Valley. We talked about the many changes in Indian politics with the rise of fascism over the past decade. In the second hour, we go into details of the McMahon line drawn by the British imperialists in 1914 and the 1962 war.

The Anti-Empire Project Episode 37: Postcoloniality and the Racist Legacy of the British Empire

The Anti-Empire Project Episode 37: Postcoloniality and the Racist Legacy of the British Empire, with Navyug Gill and Dan Freeman-Maloy

A wide-ranging and admittedly bookish discussion with William Patterson historian Navyug Gill and frequent guest and sometimes host of the show, Dan Freeman-Maloy. We talk about postcolonial studies, history, and the British Empire, and the ways that its racism lives on. 

The Carnage of Demonetisation in India

On the evening of November 8, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, went on live television to tell over one billion people that their 500- and 1000- rupee bills were invalid as of that night. They could exchange their invalid bills for new 500- and 2000-rupee bills at the bank. The exchange of notes was stopped on November 24, equally abruptly. There is a new deadline of December 30, 2016 for the deposit of all of the demonetised notes.

The economic damage caused by this unannounced fiat remains to be calculated. But it will be devastating. A ratings agency, Fitch, predicted a reduction of growth of 0.5% of GDP solely due to this ‘demonetisation’. Other estimates have been a 1% reduction, or a 2% reduction in growth. But the Forbes article reporting the prediction, in its title, points out that “No One Really Knows”. As for the editor of Forbes Magazine, he has called demonetisation “sickening” and “immoral”: “What India has done is commit a massive theft of people’s property without even the pretense of due process–a shocking move for a democratically elected government.” Forbes compared the move to the forced sterilization program of the 1970s: “Not since India’s short-lived forced-sterilization program in the 1970s–this bout of Nazi-like eugenics was instituted to deal with the country’s “overpopulation”–has the government engaged in something so immoral.” Historian Sashi Sivramkrishna pointed out that induced currency shortages helped cause the Great Bengal Famine of 1770.

The idea of demonetisation was to crack down on “black money”. The government claims that the users of this “black money” to attack India’s currency and conduct illicit business include, of course, the insurgents in Kashmir, the Maoists in Central India and of course, Pakistan. A flood of articles predicting the damage that would be done to these “black money” users followed – sourcing the police and army. Like this one, that said the demonetisation was “set to cripple the Maoists”. Or this one, a week after the announcement, that says that youth in Kashmir stopped throwing stones at the Indian military because of demonetisation. Other miracle cures by demonetisation will surely follow, as these ones are discredited.

It is worth noting that “black money” is unpopular. But, as this video from The Wire shows, demonetisation doesn’t address “black money” production by big businesses who don’t declare income or bribes by politicians who move their money overseas. Indeed, an astounding exemption was made for political parties who will be able to deposit their old currency freely.

The problem is that hundreds of millions of Indians – 80% of them, providing 40-50% of the GDP – work in the rural and informal economy and depend on cash transactions to survive. They don’t have bank accounts and consequently faced strict limits on how much they could exchange. Their small businesses are done in cash. Investigators from the left website Newsclick found a 25% reduction in the flow of vegetables to Delhi. These people had to run to banks that don’t work well for them at the best of times. They traveled to the banks however they could, stood in queues, and went back cashless day after day. The Indian Express counted 33 deaths in the first week. This video by the news site The Wire is indicative. A villager needed cash to see a doctor. Her husband waited in line for four days at the bank before giving up. She died. Now the husband has no cash for her funeral rites.

The other problem is that, while the surprise nature of the announcement was designed to catch black money users off their guard, the government also surprised itself – the banks weren’t ready, the printing presses weren’t ready to produce the new currency, and people who got the new notes were so afraid that a problem of hoarding the new currency immediately arose – a classic cash crunch. The best move at this point, would probably to be to walk back from this manmade disaster and re-monetise the notes, as Sashi Sivramkrishna argued in The Wire. Sivramkirshna also noted that the government was unlikely to re-monetise, but instead likely to double down and proceed into an artificially induced recession.

The government’s response has been to ease the process of demonetisation for the middle class – those with bank accounts and cards for cashless transactions – and to mount a PR campaign, including some paid tweets with the hashtag #IndiaDefeatsBlackMoney. But “black money” will emerge from this fiasco unscathed, while poor people lose their livelihoods and, in unforgivable numbers, their lives.

As Venezuela, facing genuine economic warfare including attacks on its currency, makes desperate moves to try to counter its own “black money” problems, Modi’s demonetisation should be a warning. The Venezuelan government backed away from a sudden plan to demonetise the 100-bolivar bill and has extended the deadline once, showing a flexibility in the face of reality that Modi has lacked. There are better plans out there for a government that actually cares about its poor majority than following Modi in bankrupting them.

First published by TeleSUR English: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/The-Carnage-of-Demonetisation-in-India-20161223-0011.html