Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Suffer the Little Children

This is the kind of stuff that makes me really mad.

A new study by the World Health Organization and its partner NGOs has found that 3.3 million newborn babies died in 2009 of easily preventable causes. The "good news" is that a decade earlier the figure was 4.6 million.

“The first week of life is the riskiest week for newborns, and yet many countries are only just beginning post-natal care programmes to reach mothers and babies at this critical time,” said a WHO statement. It did not say why that was so.

The 20-year study covering all 193 WHO member States  found that deaths of babies in the first four weeks of life (neonatal period) accounted for 41 per cent of all child deaths before the age of five; 99 percent of them occur in poor countries.

India leads the list of five populous countries where more than half the deaths take place; its share of the total is 28 per cent. The other countries, in declining order of number of deaths, are Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The reduction of neonatal deaths over the last decade has been particularly slow in Africa, where the decline has been just one percent per year. Of the 15 countries with the worst records (more than 39 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births), 12 were African: Angola, Burundi, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR), DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone. The three others were Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia.

Pre-term delivery, asphyxia and severe infections, such as sepsis and pneumonia cause three-quarters of the infant deaths.

We need mass rallies and candle-lit vigils about this.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Open Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister, I am writing this as an Open Letter because of the certainty that any private communication would be useless. This way, at least some people will read my proposals and perhaps ...  who knows ...

What I propose will ensure double-digit economic growth, close the income and services gaps now separating our rural and urban populations, improve the quality of governance and eliminitate "black money." Except for the proposals relating to taxation, all other elements of the plan below are, in bits and pieces, already on the agenda or work programme of your government. This is what I suggest:

A. Transforming India's Postal Network 
1. Convert the country's 1.55 lakh post offices into a network of multifeatured community centres. This should be done through private-public partnership, with the government creating a standardized blueprint for centres and franchising operational responsibilities for individual centres to local entrepreneurs and social activists. The franchise agreements would spell out the roles of local contractors. Government would maintain support and oversight functions at the local, state and national levels.

2. The mix of services provided at each centre would depend on the nature and density of the population served, but all would provide basic connectivity to the Internet and Worldwide Web, and provide support for accessing a wide range of general and specialized information.

3. The social activists associated with each centre would be encouraged to network with others in their field of interest to promote progressive changes in their own communities. Their involvement in educational support, health services, environmental monitoring and reporting, improving the status of women and providing care for the elderly, could all be supported from existing state and central budgets.

4. Entrepreneurs associated with each centre would be contractually required to make it financially selfsufficient. Income could be generated from banking and insurance services (as already planned by the Information and Telecommunications Ministry), and from corporate contracts for research and marketing. Commissions on group purchase of heavy appliances and vehicles could be a significant source of revenue. So could participation as executors of the local components of government development projects.

5. Each community centre would maintain its own web site, and each would be part of a hierarchy of circles ascending to the national level. The linkages established through this system could have multiple uses ranging from the commercial to internal security. The network could provide a national grid of first responders in case of emergency, and serve to mobilize people to face any situation threatening their welfare, from epidemics and earthquakes to fire, flood or terrorism.
6. Each community centre should be part of a news reporting system run by a cooperative of journalists established on the network. The cooperative should generate a flow of news daily covering national, regional, state, district and local developments. The news thus generated can be sold to newspapers, magazines, investors and businesses within India and abroad. The proceeds could support the professional journalists working for the network.

B. Income Tax

The government should announce a time-bound schedule for the elimination of all taxes on individual and corporate income. The existing tax system promotes corruption even of honest people, and sustains a vast "black economy" that empowers criminals and anti-national elements. Value added taxes on manufacturing and services, and taxes on immovable property should be used to cover defence and security-related expenses, and to meet the government payroll. The payroll itself could be much reduced, as the Income Tax Department could be cut radically, and many economic policing activities eliminated. All development projects should be funded through interest-bearing bonds and executed with the support of the network of community centres established under A above. 

Concluding Note

The system above would automatically cleanse our political system of most of the ills now plaguing it. With activist networks ranging from the local to the national, it will be difficult for demagogues to thrive, as they can now, by manipulating the media, bribery and extortion. The system would put a firm floor under Indian democracy and modernize society at a pace set by the people themselves.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Anna Hazare in Perspective

The patriotic glow cast by the mass media on the end of Anna Hazare’s fast should not blind us to the fact that the primary institution of Indian democracy, Parliament, has just survived a serious assault. The chronological sequence below shows where the threats came from and how they were defused.

1.    The essential prelude to the agitation were the "CWG scams" brought to light in August 2010 by a leak from a source within the British government, and the "2G spectrum scam" revealed by the selective leak in November 2010 of wire taps on the phones of corporate lobbyist Niira Raadia, a British national. Media coverage in both cases verged on the hysterical, but no one made a peep about the significance of the British connection.

2.    In April 2011, Anna Hazare began a “fast unto death” to force the UPA government to enact a Lokpal Bill left hanging by a succession of governments for some four decades. He called it off after four days and “Team Anna” entered into consultations with the UPA government on the proposed legislation. The Team's lead member, a former bureaucrat turned social activist, Arvind Kejriwal, has reportedly received some $400,000 in foreign funds for his NGO Parivartan. Three other members of the Team – Swami Agnivesh, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan – put their divided national loyalties on public display in a February 2011 letter to The Guardian “appealing” for the continuation of the BBC’s Hindi Service. They argue that its balanced and impartial news was needed on such matters as Kashmir and when Indian democracy is threatened.

3.    While all this was happening, Baba Ramdev the billionaire yoga teacher and apothecary, travelled around the country trying to build a national political party; his main pitch was against "black money." His foray into politics came less than a year after receiving a small British island as a “gift from a devotee.” Located off Scotland, it is easily accessed from the British military training facility for dirty tricks/guerrilla warfare. In June 2011, after his "fast unto death" against black money turned into comic opera and Ramdev was hustled back from Delhi to his ashram in Haridwar, he developed a severe case of loose lips and told the Press he would field an armed force -- next time.

4.    In July, the government's refusal to accept Team Anna's draconian (and unconstitutional) proposals led to a breakdown in talks. Hazare announced that he would resume his “indefinite fast” on 16 August. However, talks with the Delhi Police over its venue and duration proved problematic, for "Team Anna" was reluctant to accept safety and traffic control constraints. In an overzealous effort to prevent trouble the Police arrested Hazare before he could begin fasting and took him to Tihar Jail, making him an instant martyr.

5. Although released the same evening Hazare elected to stay in Jail for a further two days. In that time massively disproportionate and sensationalized coverage of public protests and demonstrations appeared on all 24-hour television news stations and the "elite" print media. Hazare left Tihar to adulatory media coverage and made a heroic trip atop a flower bedecked carriage to Rajghat and then to the Ramlila Grounds where a giagantic photograph of the Mahatma served as backdrop to his fast. Unlike Gandhi’s fasts, which were always in private and devoid of all show Hazare was surrounded by flag waving, chanting, dancing, singing crowds. There was also non-stop gluttony all around as people scoffed down free food and left massive amounts of garbage. Faced with television reporters asking for their opinions, film stars and other celebrities provided statements of support. (Kiran Bedi was so enthused her inner Sita Ram Goel emerged and declared: “Anna is India and India is Anna.” Kejriwal, evidently a man of refined tastes in propaganda, disasociated himself from that statement. Congress Party spokesman Manish Tiwari's unfortunate observation that Anna was corrupt from top to toe did nothing to balance public perceptions.)

6.  Anna also seemed chuffed up by the outpouring of support from the television channels and in a fit of arrogance demanded that the government withdraw its own Lokpal Bill and have Parliament adopt his Jan Lokpal Bill. He set 30 August as the deadline for its adoption with only “minor changes.” When told that those demands could not be met he called on supporters to gherao the houses of Members of Parliament and Parliament itself. This attempt to replay the 1975 scenario that led to the declaration of Mrs. Gandhi’s "Emergency" could easily have snowballed out of control, but the crowds that turned out at MP’s houses were too thin to precipitate a crisis.

7.  An all-party meeting of Members of Parliament unanimously rejected the idea that a civil society group could contravene Parliamentary procedure that requires legislation to go through a Standing Committee charged, inter alia, with listening to all shades of opinion before formulating a proposal. As Government-Team Anna consultations continued it became clear that Hazare himself was not being accurately informed by his supposed representatives. Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmuk, a long-time acquaintance of Hazare began to liaise with him directly. Bedi and Kejriwal were excluded from the last phase of consultations.

8. The end came into sight after Hazare announced new conditions for breaking his fast. They were: (a) that the Lokpal’s jurisdiction should cover the lower end of the bureaucracy; (b) that states have their own Lokyuktas mirroring the Lokpal; (c) that all government departments have their own Citizen’s Charter; and (d) that Parliament debate his proposals. After his announcement Team Anna brought in the demand that the debate must be followed by a resolution of Parliament. The debate on Saturday, 27 August, made clear the wide diversity of views; however, all agreed on the primacy of Parliament. At the end of the debate Finance Minister Pranab Mukherji made a perfunctory statement mentioning Hazare’s conditions and members respond by thumping their desks. The “resolution” was deemed adopted. In comments later, MPs made clear their action did not bind the Standing Committee which will report a Bill to the House based on its own deliberations. Team Anna, thoroughly chastened, did not react to the brush-off. Bedi, who a day earlier was prancing around the Ramlila stage with a scarf around her head, mocking the government, appeared meekly on television to thank members of Parliament. Hazare set 10 A.M Sunday for breaking his fast.

9. Hazare broke his fast by accepting a drink of coconut water from two little girls rounded up for the occasion, one Muslim, the other a Dalit. The tokenism made clear Team Anna had no members or helpers who belong to the minority or underprivileged sections of society. Mendacious to the end, the media declared the outcome a great victory for Hazare. Headlines Today declared it “Anna’s August Revolution.” Times Now declared “Anna’s Complete Victory.” The Sunday newspapers continued the flow of lies.

This sorry train of events has underlined not only the very serious deficiencies of our “elite media,” but the dangerous extent to which foreign funding has bought up the loyalties of civil society. At any time during the last two weeks a few determined individuals could have precipitated a national crisis. Kejriwal's midnight announcement from the Ramlila podium that a move was afoot to arrest Hazare could have resulted in panic and mayhem, poisoning the political atmosphere and leading us down the path to a new "Emergency." If key leaders of the Government and Opposition parties had not been so adept at dealing with a confused and risky situation, we could easily have gone the way of the countries overtaken by post Cold War "velvet" and "color" revolutions. In India's case, the primary aim of foreign manipulators is not regime change for its own sake but the destabilization of the country at a critical juncture in international economic affairs.

As the Lokpal initiative seeks to rid the government of corruption, it is imperative to begin a parallel process to cleanse the media and civil society. The "new awareness" lauded by television analysts should not be directed only at the government; there is need for independent oversight of the media and NGOs.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anna Climbs Down, But ...

I've just watched Anna Hazare deliver an unbelievably energetic speech on what is supposedly the 10 day of his fast.

In a major climbdown from yesterday's arrogant position that the fast would end only if the government withdrew its Lokpal Bill and Parliament immediately passed his Jan Lokpal Bill, he set three conditions.

Only one of them was the same as the three identified as cardinal a few days ago: that the lower orders of the bureaucracy should come under the purview of the Lokpal. The others were that each state government must have its own Lokyukta mirroring the office at the centre; and that every Department of Government must have a Charter of Citizen's Rights. He also asked that Parliament discuss the Bill immediately (i.e. 26th August), and for a written assurance from the Prime Minister.

These are not redline issues for the government, and a resolution seems in the cards. However, there is a Joker in the pack: Anna declared that the popular agitation would continue. He seems to have some sort of an Indian version of Mao's Cultural Revolution in mind, a permanent stir targeting government at the state level and at the Centre.

We could be seeing an effort to create a new political movement and party, or to energize the BJP and expand its constituency beyond its core membership of the RSS and its extremist affiliates. That would be of serious concern to representatives of Scheduled Castes/Tribes, for their constituents are normally excluded from the BJP's high caste ambit. They have made that clear in a number of statements and even a public demonstration against Anna's fast.

All this sets the scene for interesting developments in Indian politics. The more progressive forces in the country will be under pressure to respond to this realignment, and at a time when the corporate globalization paradigm is coming apart at the seams, their only effective course will be to coalesce around a Gandhian agenda of development and change.

If that happens, we could be looking at the possibility of epochal change.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hammarskjold's Ghost

Newly discovered eyewitnesses to the plane crash that killed UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold in 1961 say it was not an accident. They remember the aircraft being shot down.

The eyewitnesses, men in their 80s who still live in and around Ndola in Zambia where the crash occurred, spoke to Göran Björkdahl, a Swedish aid worker based in Africa. Björkdahl became interested in Hammarskjold's death because his father had a piece of metal from the wreck; when his work took him to Africa a few years ago he began probing the rumours surrounding the end of the most effective of UN leaders. A British investigation had declared the crash of Hammarskjold's chartered DC-6 an accident due to pilot error.

Björkdahl says the witnesses also remember the authorities (of what was then the British colony of Rhodesia) sealing off the site of the wreckage hours before they announced its discovery. Some charcoal-makers who came upon the wreckage before the official announcement were told to go away; British investigators did not interview those witnesses, and Björkdahl's findings implicate them, at the very least, in a cover-up of a political assassination.

Hammarskjold was on a mission to negotiate an end to the secession of Katanga province from the Congo, a former Belgian colony enormously rich in natural resources. The Congo had become independent in June 1960 and, with considerable help from Belgium, plunged immediately into political crisis, armed conflict and chaos. The secession of Katanga was engineered by white mercenaries in the pay of Union Miniere du Haut Katanga, a politically well connected Belgian company with major investments in the province; fronting the operation was Moise Tshombe, with whom Hammarskjold was scheduled to meet in Ndola.

Local UN officials had informed Hammarskjold that the British Consul in Katanga was sympathetic to the secessionists and might even be sheltering Tshombe from UN peacekeeping forces. However, that did not stop the Secretary-General from asking the man to arrange the meeting with the secessionist leader. It was set for 18 September, in Ndola, in Rhodesia, a country then in the control of a rabidly anti-UN white-supremacist leader, Roy Welensky.

There was much speculation after Hammarskjold’s death about a conspiracy involving Tshombe, the British and Rhodesian authorities, but nothing could be proved. The official United Nations inquiry found “no evidence to support any of the particular theories that have been advanced,” but was also unable to exclude any of the possible causes it had considered, including “sabotage and attack from the ground or air.”

The Commission raised a number of unanswered questions which Björkdahl’s new evidence clarifies. One of the unanswered questions about the crash was why it took Rhodesian authorities 15 hours to find the wreckage; the DC-6 had passed over Ndola airport with its landing lights on, and local police reported hearing it crash in the jungle nine miles away.

The new evidence makes clear the delay in reporting the crash site was deliberate. Hammarskjold had survived the impact but with massive injuries, including a broken spine; the delay prevented any medical help to the stricken man. It also reduced the chances of survival of the only other victim to be found alive, a badly burned UN Security Guard; he could have been saved with proper medical care, but he was left in a poorly equipped local hospital and died five days later.

Björkdahl also found telegrams sent in the days before Hammarskjöld's death that reflect British anger at UN efforts to end the secession of Katanga.To understand that anger it is necessary to recall that the imperial Powers of Europe were engaged in a broad and violent effort to subvert decolonization. The United Nations, with strong support from the United States, stood in the way, most openly during the 1956 British-French effort to take the Suez Canal from Egypt.

In Africa, the British were under mounting stress. After the March 1960 Sharpeville massacre in South Africa, the Security Council, for the first time, asked the Secretary-General to get involved in the campaign against apartheid. Hammarskjold had visited Pretoria in January 1961, and hopes were high that he would emerge as a strong voice against the country's criminally racist system. (Posthumously, he shared the 1961 Nobel Peace Prize with Albert Luthuli of South Africa.)

Hammarskjold knew that he was in a no-win situation in the Congo; he told a colleague in New York before leaving on his last trip that if he failed in that effort to resolve the Katanga problem, he would resign. That probably added to the urgency to kill him, for a resignation would have been hugely embarrassing for Britain.

The British government has not responded to Björkdahl's findings, which have been reported in some English newspapers. Even if it acknowledges the story it is unlikely to make any admissions. It seems to me the only way to get at the truth is to have an International Commission look into its works. Among the topics that need investigation are the British roles in:

1. The WW-I era genocide of Armenians in Turkey.
2. The communal riots preceding the Partition of India and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
3. The creation of the civil war in Cyprus.
4. The Sri Lankan civil war and support of the Tamil Tigers.
5. The sponsorship of a number of terrorist movements in Asia and Africa.
6. International drug trafficking and management of the global black market.

Ideally, the primary support for such an examination should come from the people of Britain who have also been victims of a ruling elite as vile in its greed and lust for power as it has been brutal in the pursuit of its "interests."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hazare Hysteria

The cheerleading for Anna Hazare by the major television "News channels" is so blatant I almost felt embarrassed for the poor field journalists.

For the two days that Hazare sat in Tihar jail making the authorities squirm for their stupidity in arresting him, TV journalists were called upon to provide wall-to-wall coverage of a story that consisted of nothing more than crowds hamming it up for the cameras. They were reduced to asking ridiculously leading questions to elicit halfway intelligent responses from people who clearly had little knowledge of what the whole stir was about.

Some reporters with more integrity than is probably good for their careers noted the general ignorance about the issue, as well as the fact that most of the crowds seemed to be curious sightseers. Other reporters were enthusiastic propagandists. The station managements did their bit too, with crawlers and repetitive headlines that said things like “India say ‘I am Anna’” (sic), “Anna corners Government,” and “Stand up and be counted, support Anna!”

The “elite” newspapers were also unashamedly partisan. “Anna jailed, but India takes battle to govt,” screamed The Times of India’s six column headline on 17 August. The next day, in even larger type, it said “Govt Buckles, Anna Wins Round 1.” The New Indian Express declared in an all-caps headline “LOK POWER DEFEATS UPA.” The Hindu was staid by comparison, declaring in the main head: “Government arrests Anna, then Blinks,” and under it, “Mass protests across India catch Congress by surprise.” The paper diplomatically did not say what numbers of people constituted a “mass protest.”

In the two days leading up to Hazare’s emergence from Tihar Jail CNN reported there were “hundreds of people” demonstrating in Delhi. Times Now and Headlines Today reported “thousands” of demonstrators in the same period. At the Ramlila Grounds on Friday it became “tens of thousands.” The largest crowds outside Delhi were in Bangalore, a BJP stronghold.

 Television reporters and the "elite Press" studiously avoided noting the politicized nature of the support for Hazare. It was left to the lowly Business Standard to note that detail. A piece by Sreelatha Menon on 19 August reported that many who “you would imagine to be supporters of Anna are against him for being exclusivist, high handed, and a stooge for right wing parties.” Public support for Hazare, she wrote, was “perhaps more a testimony to the mounting public anger against brazen acts of corruption in the country, than any indication of concrete knowledge about Anna's Lok Pal Bill draft.”

 The article said "the number of civil society stalwarts who have lined up to speak out against Anna and his methodology for civic protest” was “remarkable."

Actress and communal relations activist Shabnam Hashmi recalled 1992 when "a similar frenzy led to the demolition of Babri Masjid."

Aruna Roy, the Right to Information activist who was part of the consultations with the government and Team Anna was “bitter about the way her views” were consistently “attributed to wrong intent and viewed with suspicion and mistrust” by Team Anna. Disagreement with Team Anna’s draft was deemed “tantamount to promoting corruption.”
Prominent activist Purushottaman Mulloli thought the whole campaign was "being scripted by political players with agendas—namely right wing ideologues like the BJP and the RSS, specifically the youth wing.” He thought it “strictly an upper caste, middle class urban phenomenon.” The BJP at its national conference in Lucknow last year had declared that corruption would be its electoral plank, and a few months later the ‘India Against Corruption’ campaign was launched.
Despite the vast amounts of airtime and print expended on the issue there was nowhere a critique of the Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by Team Hazare. Even the government did not make clear why the draft is problematic.

As far as I can see, the Team Anna draft is unacceptable for the following reasons:

1. It concentrates too much power in an unelected, unaccountable body. To open the judiciary to investigation and to put the CBI under the Lokpal is to create a Frankenstein's monster. If we call the Lokpal the Grand Inquisitor that problem should become readily apparent to everyone (or at least to anyone who knows the history of the Catholic Church).

2. To include all the lower ranks of the bureaucracy in the purview of the Lokpal is to condemn it to be ineffective. No amount of investigative power will be enough to deal with the volume of petty corruption at those levels. The solution to that sort of bribery is to set up in every Ministry a public email reporting system monitored by an outside invigilator. Anyone who is asked for a bribe should be able to report it. That should immediately reduce the volume of corruption, and if properly implemented, eliminate most of it.

3. To make the Prime Minister open to investigation by the Lokpal is to ask for trouble. If an adversarial relationship develops between the incumbents of the two posts it could tie up the whole government. The government Bill allows the investigation of ex-Prime Ministers; that should be enough.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Indian Press - 7 A: The Foreign Hand

In tracing the evolution of newspapers in India from the beginning of the colonial era, I have kept the British role constantly in view. However, the primary focus has been on Indians. That must necessarily change in the following section for it deals with the postcolonial British manipulation of India. I begin with a brief look at the colonial roots of such manipulation because that is essential background – of which most Indians, including journalists, are blissfully unaware.

In 1756, the East India Company factor in Calcutta withheld taxes due to the new Nawab of Bengal, the raw and impetuous 19-year old Suraj ud-Dowlah. The boy sallied out with his army from his capital, Murshidabad, took Calcutta without a fight and occupied Fort William, where he believed the English kept their treasure. Angered at not finding it, the agent reported to London, the Nawab ordered 146 British prisoners thrown into the dungeon at Fort William and kept without water until they divulged the information he sought. The agent described how, in the stifling heat of June, packed into the dark and airless dungeon, 123 of the poor souls died of suffocation and thirst in a single night, bearing bravely the mockery of their cruel captors.

The story of the “Black Hole of Calcutta” served to explain and justify the subsequent British attack on the Nawab: in 1757 Robert Clive came up from Madras at the head of 2000 men (1200 of them Indians), and at the “Battle of Plassey” routed the Nawab’s army of 20,000. These tales of Indian infamy and British valor became the founding legends of the British Empire, featured in history books and taught to generations of schoolchildren in India and around the world.

However, neither story was true.

The “Black Hole” story was patently absurd, for the dungeon at Fort William measured 14 by 18 feet and 146 Europeans could not possibly have fit into it. All accounts of the atrocity are rooted in a report the Agent wrote six months after the alleged incident as he sailed back to Britain. Clive’s heroic victory in the “Battle” at Pilashi was also a concoction. He had borrowed money from the fabulously wealthy “Jagat Seth” of Calcutta and bribed the leader of the Nawab’s forces to lead his men off the field without a fight. (Only some French gunners, evidently ignorant of the fix, put up even a semblance of a fight.)

In the century after the British took Bengal, as the Company slowly extended its death-grip across India, there was a separate mendacious justification for every aggressive step. One ruler was vicious to his own people; another was mentally incompetent; a third had no legitimate heir; others interfered with trade. These individual explanations slipped easily into the self-righteous narrative of colonial history that excluded such details as the death of several hundred million Indians in the “man-made famines” created by extortionate British policies. The net result was an official record surreal in its dishonesty. Based on it, Winston Churchill could claim (in his 1956-1957 History of the English Speaking Peoples) that the British were a progressive force in India and, in fact, not “imperialist” at all; they had gained control of India “in a fit of absence of mind.”

Britain’s overall colonial record received the same self-congratulatory treatment. Where the other imperial Powers of Europe chose only to engage in what Adam Hoschild in his1999 book King Leopold’s Ghost termed “the Great Forgetting,” the British actively twisted the most brutal of colonial records into a tale of civilizing adventure. School textbooks excised any mention that Britain accounted for more than half of all the slaves taken out of Africa. The Opium Wars in China became a worthy struggle to establish free trade. Genocide became pacification and social progress. (In Australia, that particular delusion allowed the government to continue into the 1970s a programme that – “for their own good” – forcibly took aboriginal children from their parents, for rearing in White families.)

Some British historians have acknowledged the falsification. P. J. Marshall noted with irony in the 1996 Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire how Britain had invested a “great deal of national self-esteem” in the view that its colonial record was virtuous. “Other European countries oppressed their fellow citizens overseas and drove them to revolt; the British, after the American misadventure, learned to nurture links of freedom, which evolved into that unique institution, the British Commonwealth of Nations. In the tropics, while the Spanish and Portuguese imperial regimes were sleazy and corrupt, the Dutch nakedly mercenary, the Germans and Russians brutally militaristic, and the French overbearingly chauvinistic in imposing their own cultural values, the British ruled with a high-minded concern for the good of the ruled. Others tried to resist the pressures of nationalism, only to go down to defeat — for example, the Dutch in Indonesia and the French in Algeria; the British entered into partnership with their nationalists and extricated themselves from empire with grace and goodwill.” (Marshall himself was not without fond delusions, for he went on to claim that the British had civilized the world.)

The whitewashing of their bloody past has continued into the 21st Century. Niall Ferguson hailed by The Times of London as the “most brilliant British historian of his generation,” has made a career of arguing that colonialism was beneficial to the world. In his 2002 book, Empire: The rise and demise of the British world order and the lessons for global power, he cited Adolf Hitler to argue that India was lucky to have had the British as rulers. Ferguson claimed that in a conversation with Britain’s Foreign Secretary Halifax in 1939 Hitler was “disarmingly frank in admitting that his version of imperialism would be a great deal nastier than the British version.” If Germany took India, Ferguson quoted Hitler as saying, “the Indians would certainly not be enthusiastic and they’d not be slow to regret the good old days of English rule.”

Among the youngest crop of British historians, the most comically dishonest is Alex Von Tunzelmann, author of Indian Summer, the secret history of the end of an empire (2007). Her book begins with a passage of pure fiction: “On a warm summer night in 1947, the largest empire the world has ever seen did something no empire had ever done before. It gave up. The British Empire did not decline. It simply fell; and it fell proudly and majestically onto its own sword. It was not forced out by the revolution, nor defeated by a greater rival in battle. Its leaders did not tire or weaken. Its culture was strong and vibrant. Recently it had been victorious in the century’s definitive war. … As the chimes sounded and the unexpected blast from a conch shell startled the delegates in the chamber of the Constituent Assembly, a nation that had struggled for so many years, and sacrificed so much, was freed at last from the shackles of empire. Yes, Britain was finally free.”

That 21st century rendition of Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” went unnoticed in the uniformly good reviews the book got in the elite Indian Press, a phenomenon that suggests either that none of the reviewers actually read the book, or that its publisher paid for them. The book is reportedly soon to be a “Bollywood” movie focused on the relationship between Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten.

An important component of the British distortion of history has been a consistently negative presentation of Indian realities. In a continuous stream of “histories,” novels, television and film productions the British have continued to tell the world that India is a cauldron of caste and religious hatreds, of benighted beliefs and twisted oppressions; they have comprehensively trashed the country’s humane and tolerant traditions, which compare well with Europe’s history of oppression, war and genocide.

To sustain this flow of calumny the British have continued the colonial practice of rewarding a handful of “Indians” to join their side. The most prominent of them are Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai and Aravind Adiga, all awarded the £50,000 Booker Prize for dankly negative books about India.

The Booker Prize is often described as “Britain’s most prestigious literary award,” but it has no literary antecedents. The Booker Corporation that established it was a right-wing outfit with a decidedly unsavoury colonial-era reputation; it endowed the prize at the suggestion of Ian Fleming, a psychological operations specialist in British Military Intelligence who authored the James Bond novels. Booker juries change from year to year and members are never asked back, an arrangement that empowers the shadowy sherpas guiding the selection process.

Three of the four “Indian” Booker Prize winners grew up outside India and are thoroughly deracinated; the fourth, Arundhati Roy, came from a broken Christian-Hindu home and led a vagabond existence until the founding head of Penguin India, David Davidar (who comes from the same small community in Kerala as she does), “discovered” her. Roy, for her part, claimed initially that she had written The God of Small Things without the knowledge of her husband. (Any writer will tell you, that is an impossibility.)

It is important to note that Penguin and Penguin India dominate the field of India-related publishing. Penguin India published three of the “Indian” Booker Prize winners. Adiga might have appeared under its imprint too if Harper Collins had not hired away two of its senior staffers. The Penguin backlist is replete with books presenting the preferred British view of India, and they tend to stay on the market long after they should have disappeared from sight.

A typical example is BBC correspondent Mark Tully’s No Full Stops in India (Penguin 1991), still available in Indian bookstores two decades after publication. The book is filled with familiar colonial stereotypes, beginning with its title, which reflects Tully’s “insight” that “India’s Westernized elite, cut off from local traditions, ‘want to write a full stop in a land where there are no full stops’.” That long-standing imperial theme – that the British understand India better than its own elite – leads easily into the book’s contents which, as another blurb on the cover says, throws “more light on this vast tragicomic country than anything since V.S. Naipaul’s Area of Darkness.”

It is not just Booker Prize winners who represent the British hand in Indian affairs.

A measure of Britain’s postcolonial success in shaping Indian opinion is that in February this year, 14 Indians, most of them prominent in their fields, were comfortable calling publicly for the continuation of British propaganda aimed at the Indian heartland. In a letter to The Guardian in Britain “pleading for the continuation of broadcast of the BBC’s Hindi service” they made an argument that should have caused a sensation in the world of Indian mass media. 

The letter said that for “nearly seven decades BBC Hindi radio has been a credible source of unbiased and accurate information, especially in times of crisis: the 1971 war, the emergency in 1975, the communal riots after the demolition of the Ayodhya mosque in 1992. Today India is facing other serious problems: the ongoing conflicts in Kashmir, in the north-east and in vast areas in central and eastern India, where Maoist militants are fighting the state. Ten million listeners in India – most of them in rural and often very poor areas – need BBC Hindi radio and the accurate, impartial and independent news it provides.” The service “cannot be silenced in times when democracy is under threat,” the letter added, as if India were North Korea or Iran.

In addition to Britain's dependable mouthpiece Arundhati Roy, the signatories were Vikram Seth (writer), Ramachandra Guha (historian), Amjad Ali Khan (musician), Kuldip Nayar, Inder Malhotra and M.J. Akbar (all three senior journalists), and Sunita Naraian (environmental activist). Others on the list were Swami Agnivesh the costumed social activist, Kiran Bedi the ex-policewoman, and Prashant Bhushan (lawyer), all members of Team Anna. (There were also a Dilawar K. Singh billed as “financial adviser, defence services, Ministry of Defence”, and Neelima Mathur of the “Foundation for responsible media, New Delhi”.)

There was no reaction at all in the Indian media to the public insult. No one asked any of the 14 for an explanation. Because of that, the leaders of Team Anna are now able to carry on with their deeply mischievous work as if their Indian loyalties were not seriously in question.

To be continued.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gaming Mumbai's Security

A ship floats in undetected one moonless night and grounds itself on Juhu Beach. It is not an empty shell but filled with a small and lethal army that sweeps inland and takes over strategic locations including the Stock Exchange, the Mantralaya and the various defence installations in the city. Once the key spots are secured, ships waiting offshore disembark several thousand additional troops. By the time the city wakes, it is too late; its disorganized defenders can do nothing.

Nor can the Indian military; they have overwhelming force, but to use it would be to destroy the city and cause catastrophic loss of life. New Delhi realizes that it is helpless and must do what the invaders want.
This can’t happen, you say. It’s just a nightmare gaming scenario.

Not necessarily.

Imagine that the global financial crisis has led to collapse of all the major economies. China is a roiling cauldron of disaffection and is no longer an inviting place for foreign investors. Africa and Latin America have small markets and inadequate infrastructure. Europe and the United States are sunk in negative growth. The sheikdoms of the Gulf are back in the bad old days of oil at $3 a barrel. The only bright spot in the world is India, where internal demand and cheap commodities make the economy hum. It is where investors in powerful countries want to bring their money, but the Indian government insists on observing environmental, social and other norms before greenlighting foreign investment. With Mumbai hostage, it will no longer be able to insist; a powerful foreign elite will call the shots.

 That scenario is a 21st Century replication of all the times in our history that foreign adventurers have looked at India and seen it ripe for the plucking. And anticipating it might not be all that unreal.

Since 2006, some 42 undetected ships have grounded or sunk along the Mumbai-Gujarat coast. The recent spate of junk ships floating into Mumbai was preceded by what can be seen as aggressive probes of Mumbai’s defence and response capacities.

     **  In March 2010, the stationary Indian Coast Guard Ship Vivek was rammed and sunk by MV Global Purity.

      **  In August the same year the MCS Chitra was rammed by the MV Khalifa, causing it to sink in the main navigation channel of Mumbai Harbour.

      **  In January 2011 the Indian Naval Ship Vindhyagiri was rammed by the MV Nordlake causing it to sink after docking.

All three foreign vessels were flying flags of convenience, their real owners hidden behind corporate shields of anonymity.

It is astonishing that in reporting the recent junks that have sunk or grounded near Mumbai none of our newspapers recalled the more aggressive events over the preceding 12 months. It is surprising that in reporting the recent sea trials of China’s first aircraft carrier, there has been no talk of its implications for India. If the aggressor in the scenario envisaged above is Chinese – fronting for investors in developed countries – the presence of a supportive aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean would be game, set and match for the invaders.

The point of gaming these possibilities is not only to create a framework within which the city's defenders can envisage their separate roles; it is also to get civilians to prepare for all eventualities. What will they do if there is a general disaster? What will they need? What can they do to defend the city, to ensure its survival?

Only when we get into this frame of mind can we be really prepared; and unless we are ready for any eventuality, it might be necessary in the future to fight for political independence all over again.

Anna Hazare is not "Gandhian"

Anna Hazare’s supporters are trying to present him as a “veteran Gandhian.” The most vocal of them, the BBC, has termed him Gandhi’s “heir,” and one of its ersatz Indian correspondents even claimed to have found people here who consider him “a modern day Gandhi.”

Hazare himself has not been shy about invoking the Mahatma as model. The BBC report had a clip of him saying it is time to “Do or Die, just as in the independence struggle.” Karenge ya marenge was, of course, the phrase Gandhi coined for the fateful Quit India Movement in 1942

The “elite” English-language Press in India that usually takes its cues from Britain has not gone to the BBC’s silly extremes, but it has frequently termed Hazare “Gandhian” without once explaining what that means. There is nothing in his life to warrant it.

Kisan Baburao Hazare was born in 1940 to an unskilled worker in the small town of Bhinagar in Bombay Province. He was raised by an aunt in Bombay and stayed in school until the Seventh Standard; after that he became a flower vendor and later the owner of a flower shop. In 1963, he enlisted in the Army as a Jawan and spent the next 12 years driving a truck. During that time, he became an enthusiast of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas about village development, and after quitting the Army in 1975, became an activist in his father’s village, Ralegaon Siddhi, in Maharashtra.

His first initiative there was to found a Youth Association. It became his primary instrument for a variety of campaigns, most importantly, alcohol prohibition. Those who persisted in making and selling alcohol in Ralegaon Siddhi had their shops smashed; alcoholics who got drunk in other villages were beaten. Hazare lobbied successfully to get the Maharashtra government to allow villages to impose alcohol prohibition by majority vote. His young acolytes also drove tobacco, cigarettes and beedis from the shops of Ralegaon Siddhi.

There were also constructive reforms. Hazare mobilized the village to improve management of water runoff and undertake the planting of trees. He had village cows bred with other breeds to increase milk production, and organized a cooperative to market village produce in the nearby city of Ahmednagar. Caste issues were resolved peacefully, and a cooperative effort made to improve the living conditions and ease the indebtedness of the Dalits. The Youth Association arranged for group weddings to help couples avoid the onerous costs of their own ceremonies. The village school was rebuilt and expanded, its curriculum extended to the secondary level, and students instructed in traditional agricultural practices. These achievements won Hazare a number of awards, including the Padma Shri (1990), and the Padma Bhushan (1992).

His anti-corruption efforts began in 1991with an attempt to expose and end the collusion between forest officials and lumber merchants. In 1997 he accused the Social Welfare Minister of Maharashtra of corruption, and was sued for defamation. He lost the case and was sentenced to three months in prison. A public outcry freed him, whereupon he renewed the attack on the Minister, who subsequently exited the cabinet.

In 2003 Hazare accused four Maharashtra Ministers of corruption and went on a “fast unto death” to demand action against them. He broke it after 8 days when the Chief Minister ordered a judicial probe. The report of the investigation found incriminating evidence against three of the four Ministers. The report also noted financial improprieties on the part of Hazare: a Trust fund he managed had not filed an audit report in two decades, and he had reportedly spent Rs. 2.20 lakh of its funds for his birthday celebrations. (An industrialist friend is said to have repaid the Trust.) What that episode made clear was that Hazare was not entirely his own man. A second “fast unto death” in August 2006 lasted 10 days; it got the government in New Delhi to rescind its decision to exclude handwritten notations on files from the purview of the Right to Information Act of 2005.
The third “fast unto death” began on 5 April 2011 and lasted four days, in which time the government promised to act on a proposal, left hanging by successive governments since 1969, to create a Lokpal or Ombudsman. The fast set to begin on 16 August reflects “Team Anna’s” dissatisfaction with the terms of the official draft the government has submitted to Parliament.

Specifically, Hazare’s wants the judiciary, the Prime Minister and the lower ranks of the bureaucracy to be subject to investigation by the Lokpal; and he wants the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) moved from the Home Ministry to the ombudsman’s office. “Team Hazare” has not dealt with arguments against concentrating so much power in an unelected and unaccountable body. For “Team Anna” – itself unelected and unaccountable – to insist on assuming the prerogatives of Parliament in framing a critical piece of legislation is unbelievably arrogant. That arrogance has come through in Hazare’s increasingly shrill attacks on the government. Nothing about him is “Gandhian” in this situation.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dealing With the Debt Crisis

As the financial skies darken and massive economic storms threaten the world, it is essential for people everywhere to understand that we are facing more than a double-dip recession.

We are seeing the end of the age that began with the trips of Columbus across the Atlantic (1492) and of Vasco da Gama across the Indian Ocean (1498).
The crumbling power structures of that era will cause great turmoil and the prospect of war is both real and close; but the situation is also ripe with opportunity. Strategic nonviolent action can mobilize people globally to avoid disaster and usher in a new era of democracy and peace. To see what nonviolent activists need to do we have to understand how the current situation developed.

The global expansion of European power that began 500 years ago laid the foundations of the current world economy. Before that, long distance trade consisted entirely of easily transported luxury goods like silks and spices, ivory and gemstones. With the enslavement of peoples in Africa, Asia and the Americas, and the development of large sea-going vessels, agricultural commodities (opium, sugar, tea and coffee), were for the first time traded over long distances. After the industrial revolution of the 17th and 18th Centuries, minerals and manufactured goods joined the mix. The volume of exchanges increased dramatically and, with a few exceptional periods such as the Great Depression of the 1930s, has continued to do so to this day.

The institution central to these developments since the 17th Century has been the joint-stock corporation, the first of which was the East India Company, chartered in 1600. Its centrality is easily explained: the corporation allowed investors to share risk and it limited individual liability.

As the number of investors and corporations grew, so did the support structure of stock markets, banks and brokerage houses. During the 20th Century, economies of scale led the most successful corporations to grow into multinational conglomerates. In the process, family owned companies came under professional managers who took strategic direction from bankers focused on the bottom line.

While that was happening, a parallel process saw corporations enter the political arena to protect their massive investments. Their influence soon grew into control, and in the richest countries they became the steel hand in the glove of government policy. Corporate power came to define social priorities and values.

In Europe, long-standing power struggles were infused with a sharp new energy, and war became a massively destructive -- and highly profitable -- corporate enterprise. That led to the military having a major say in State policy, especially in Germany, where an aristocratic officer class held sway.

Britain’s attempts to contain Germany’s rising power caused two world wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945), and its efforts to retain an imperial role led to the “special relationship” with the United States that launched the “Cold War.” (In developing countries, where that confrontation was very hot, proxy conflicts killed some 100 million people, as against the 10 million in WW I and the 60 million in WW II.)

The Cold War saw the emergence of what President Dwight Eisenhower described in his farewell speech to the American people in 1960 as a powerful “military-industrial complex” dominating the constitutional government of the United States. It promoted militarization globally. The Cold War also saw widespread government sponsorship of terrorism and support of drug trafficking to pay for it.

The net result of this history is the world we have now, violent, corrupt and highly militarized, with bankers defining strategy in the above ground economy, laundering the proceeds of the criminal underground economy, and guiding government policy in the most powerful countries. The “debt crisis” now roiling the world stems directly from this situation, in which there is neither check nor balance on the overweening greed of bankers.

In the 1990s, with the willing support of a political class indistinguishable from the corporate elite, major banks began to package people’s debts as investment-grade securities. To maximize their profits they eased conditions on who could get loans and handed out billions of dollars to people who could not pay them back. When they began to default, banks were left holding staggering amounts of worthless paper. Their solution to the crisis was to have governments bail them out with taxpayer money.

Taxpayers in the wealthiest countries now face all kinds of austerities to deal with the huge imbalances in public finances. As governments cut back on everything except military expenditures, growing political uncertainty has slowed economic growth; with major nations falling into recession millions of people have been thrown out of work.

The threat of armed conflict in this situation springs from several sources. The first is the real possibility that as in the last Great Depression, the misery and anger of millions of people will empower fascist demagogues like Hitler and Mussolini. The country most threatened by such an outcome is China, where the Communist regime sits atop a mountain of bad debt that has powered a vast real estate bubble. With its export-led economic growth under serious threat, the regime could be faced with a volcano of popular political discontent, with entirely unpredictable outcomes.

India might be economically better off, but its incapacity to defend its borders, especially its coasts, will certainly invite adventurers in a time of general turmoil. If the Euro Zone ceases to exist, all its member States will be in a state of free fall and at risk of violent disruption, especially given the explosive problems posed by Islamic minorities in many of them. The recent “riots” in Britain (see previous post), indicate how cynical political leaders might exploit the situation.

In such a scenario public demonstrations and calls for changes in government priorities are of limited use. The die is cast, and it is likely that we will see global hyperinflation as the United States maneuvers out of its multi-trillion debt, and sharp deflation if China should collapse. The road ahead is uncharted, unstable and rocky.

 That is not to say that civil society activists can do nothing to deal with the current situation. If they organize at the community level and network globally, they can sidestep and defuse the entire crisis. In the process they can usher out the economic system rooted in the colonial era and replace its poisonous corporate globalization with a networked world at peace with itself.

[Anyone interested in specific proposals for bringing about such change should contact me at – and read Reviving Gandhi at]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

British Riots a Put Up Job?

The police just happened to shoot an unarmed black man. They did it just when all national leaders and the Mayor of London were on vacation. Then, as vocal outrage brewed, they stayed away.

“There wasn’t a single policeman here last night” one outraged woman told a seemingly drunk Boris Johnson, the Mayor, who made a disastrous public relations foray into the streets of London after returning from his vacation on the third day of the so-called riots. The television cameras caught him mumbling incoherently as another angry citizen demanded "Why are you here now! Why are you here now!".

The Prime Minister staged a more decorous outing, popping out of his official residence to speak to the Press and then going right back in.

By then “copycat riots” had spread around the country. In London, a car driven by a black man mowed down and killed three Asian Muslims.

There is no ideology to it, no real social force. “Greed” is the watchword of media pundits. Disaffected young people driven by the desire for the latest Nike sneakers and colour television sets, they said, were behind the arson and violence. They could not explain the seemingly organized manner in which rioters avoided police. "Social media" was the explanation.

Strangely, no one noted that the “riots” occurred just weeks after the “troubles” started up in Northern Ireland, for no reason at all.

Looks to me like someone dusted off an old “Divide and Rule” playbook. In colonial India, whenever the nationalists got too united, the British would set off “Hindu Muslim riots.”

Chicago Tribune correspondent William Shirer noted in his book on Gandhi that it was difficult to find out how many of the communal riots “were incited by the British in their effort to keep both communities at each other’s throats so that they could not unite in their drive for self-rule.” He reported that the “British Chief of Police in Bombay once told me – almost as a joke – that it was very easy to provoke a Hindu-Muslim riot. For a hundred dollars, he said, you could start something really savage. Pay some Muslims to throw the carcass of a cow into a Hindu temple, or some Hindus to toss a dead pig into a mosque, and you could have, he said, a bloody mess, in which a lot of people would be knifed, beaten and killed.”

As with the current Nike riots, those in India spread quite spontaneously. They were a major factor in splitting India and creating Pakistan as a British proxy.

The current spate of riots are aimed at the British people. The massive social discontent at the cuts in social services and employment, followed by the revelations of elite corruption in the Murdoch hearings, could spell disaster for those squirreling around in the corridors of sleaze.

How conveniently the riots have diverted the attention of British society from the fact that the “austerity” forced on it is not for the general good but to save a political-financial elite whose greed and lust for power are legendary: it got Britain to the top of the list of slave traders, opium traffickers and colonists. And oh yes, brought on two World Wars.

Street riots? Pshaw, it's child's play for this crowd.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shocked, Deeply Shocked!

In the 1942 film classic Casablanca there is a priceless moment when Captain Renault, the amiably corrupt Frenchman who heads the local constabulary (played by the inimitably droll Claude Raines), closes down Rick’s.

Rick (Humphrey Bogart): How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here! [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

The scene comes to mind when I hear the expressions of horror at the misdeeds of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the FBI’s sudden discovery that Washington-based propagandist Ghulam Nabhi Fai has been working for Pakistan's ISI.

So what’s really going on?

It seems to me to be an indication of the widening rift between Washington and London.

The British have traditionally used their mass media as cover for intelligence and propaganda operations. With radio, that was a simple matter, for the BBC was a government monopoly with the World Service still paid for from the Foreign Office budget. (See the fascinating blog by a BBC insider at With newspapers centralized control was impossible, so London has traditionally worked through compliant “media barons.”

Murdoch has three predecessors. Two were Canadians: Max Aitken aka “Lord” Beaverbrook (1879-1964) and Roy Thomson “Lord” Thomson of Fleet (1894-1976). The third was Czech-born Ján Ludvík Hoch, better known by the name the British Secret Service gave him, Robert Maxwell (1923-1991). Like Murdoch, they came out of nowhere to build global media empires, and all became confidantes of the high and mighty in Britain.

With the opening up of the post-Cold War rift between Britain and the liberal Establishment of the United States, Murdoch’s right-wing media organs in New York, The Daily News, Fox TV, and The Wall Street Journal have been valuable assets in the heart of hostile territory, collecting intelligence and spreading propaganda. (The phone hacking of which Murdoch's companies are accused is probably the least of their sins.)

As for Fai, he is essentially a sideshow, albeit an important one in the Indian perspective. Washington’s sudden discovery of his ISI links points to the fact that an important driver of the US-UK rift is South Asia.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Land Acquisition With Vision

Acquiring farmland for non-agricultural purposes is not just a matter of changing ownership; it has to do with the nature of Indian society and must be addressed with vision.

Judging from news reports, the new draft of the Land Acquisition Bill prepared by Jairam Ramesh the new Minister for Rural Development will focus purely on logistics. Acquisition of farmland will require approval by 80 percent of owners in an area, and there will be an effort to ensure payment of a fair price.

But the Bill is without vision. It does not address two critical issues.

One is the future of those displaced by non-agricultural uses of the land. Will they, like so many before, be temporarily rich and then sink into poverty? Or will they go on to enriching and productive lives?

The second issue is the fate of the land itself: will the new owners treat it with the necessary respect and care?

I would like to suggest to Mr. Ramesh that the Land Acquisition Bill address these two issues within the framework of his former responsibilities to safeguard the country’s natural environment.

Specifically, the Land Acquisition Bill should contain two provisions:

1) To build into the transfer pricing a component that will ensure ongoing support for the education and training of the first generation of displaced people and their children. An effort should be made to maintain the connection to the land these people have had for many generations.

2) To facilitate the training of some of the displaced farmers to be paid Monitors of the lands transferred to other uses. The new owners of the land would fund this monitoring through a system of maintenance fees built into transfer agreements.

To be fully effective, these arrangements should go hand in hand with the development of a national Environmental Monitoring Service charged with maintaining a continuously updated Web-based reporting system, with a consolidated Annual Report to parliament.