Thursday, August 18, 2011

They Knew All About Us, But We Know Nothing About Them

Every time I return home on a vacation, I always have an opportunity to meet this interesting person called Dr. Oliver Noone. Ever since our last couple of meetings, there has been a nudging feeling in my heart to write about this outstanding person and his marvellous work on the history of Malabar. I have known Dr. Noone since I was a child. I was introduced to him by my father who was a dear friend of his father. Personally, there are many instances that connect us – some loose, some tight - but of late what draws both of us close is our common interest in maritime history and the deep-rooted urge to understand our past, know our present and attempt to foresee our future. Born in the beautifully landscaped district of Palghat – also known as the granary of Kerala – Dr. Noone is primarily a physician with special interest in Chest Diseases. His professional career had taken him to the United Kingdom almost three decades ago and there he got a chance to delve into the beginnings of the mighty British Empire and give colour to his personal passion of understanding the history of Malabar. His keen sense of detail and his physician’s eye has enabled him to touch bottom in his quest into the vast, dark and deep historic past of the British Empire and bring up to the surface a few precious souvenirs and hitherto unheard of materials that are sure to interest a military mind and the seafarer-war farer, not to speak of the spectacular opportunity that these materials would provide to the students of the history of Malabar.

Chatting with him is a pleasant and enjoyable feat as he took me smoothly into the essence of complex ‘geo-political decisions’ that the Europeans took centuries ago that sealed the fate of our nation. While it is most appropriate to listen to Dr. Noone’s interesting presentation on a wide variety of subjects and his discussions based on authentic references, my attempt here is to bring to the reader a gist of his work and to place pointers down memory lane and make the reader think of the need to understand the past in order to figure out the future.

We all know a little bit of the origins of the British Empire essentially tutored unto us by the numerous text books that we were expected to study during our days in school and for some of us through college. Some of us may have chosen to pick up understanding modern Indian history as a source of bread and butter and may have gone to become ‘subject-experts’ with scores of pages of research and hard work behind them.

Well, how many of us have really thought about the origins and reason for existence of the magnificent old English buildings that now-a-days almost everywhere houses government offices or allied services? How many of us would care to think about why the Germans built the Commonwealth Factory right in the centre of the Calicut city? Why did ‘Maamankam’ only happen on the banks of the Nila at Tirunaavaya and not on the fine sands of the beach at Calicut, the headquarters of the Zamorin? Why is it that three-fourths of the city of Bangalore is filled with buildings built with colonial British architecture which today mostly houses the Armed Forces? How did the British manage to build them there which once were under the strong clutches of the Tiger called Tipu Sultan? How and when did the British, which, once upon a time held only a meagre share of power when compared to the Mahrattas, the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Mysoreans, the Rajputs, and the Sikhs become the unquestioned rulers of India? How did a small, impoverished, resource-less island in the periphery of Europe, on the edge of Atlantic, come to rule over the world with the epitaph “An Empire where the Sun does not set” attached to it? How did that island nation with limited manpower build so powerfully engineered and superbly seaworthy ships and construct awe-inspiring buildings all over the globe wherever they left their footprints? How did such a small country control major military campaigns so successfully and simultaneously in different parts of the world? How did their communications network work that even beats the most modern telecommunications systems of today?

Interesting questions – all of them. Many evenings spent with Dr. Noone made the legendary tube light flicker inside my mind and made me think. The more I thought the more intriguing it got. The more questions I asked to myself and sought answers, the more exciting it got. The revelations were astonishing and incredible. The facts that have been recorded and treasured in the long lines of bookshelves in one of the most respected libraries in the world opened up a ‘Pandora’s Box’ that were full of surprises and actual facts. Why is a successful medical specialist very much interested in unravelling the unknown records of our past? It did not take much time for the doctor to confess that it was some of the stories that he had heard from his aunty, Mrs Alice Absalom, which prompted him to make this time-consuming attempt when chance provided him with the opportunity and the ways and means.

The history of the British Empire goes way back into the early days of the formation of the Americas which were set-up by them as penal colonies for settling the wrong-doers. Where did the wrong-doers originate? They were those brethren of the English blood that opposed slave trade and forced labour – which the British specialised in along with other European nations of that time – and those who resisted the move of the British to annex Scotland, Wales and Ireland to recruit manpower to man the Army and the Navy and die for Britain and to work in the numerous plantations of Scotland, Ireland and Wales while the aristocracy lavished in the comforts of their castles and palaces in the secure confines of Britain and Europe. The rest were made up of slaves from the Dark Continent and elsewhere who were transported and held captive for labour. The Steven Spielberg classic “Amistad” provides in vivid detail the intensity of the various aspects of slave trade that the British and the whole of Europe had mastered. Human trafficking was one of the most profitable businesses of those days and any modern firm of today that boasts of centuries-old traditions would definitely have some strings attached to their history that would link them to this profitable trade. While the British allowed a moderately free administration in the Americas they introduced their trademark systems of education, law and general administration in that country. This marginal freedom proved detrimental to their control of that country in the decisive American Civil War that put an end to slavery in that region and the British were left hapless and lost. The English pride was hurt severely and the English society at large considered that an Empire was lost.

While the expeditions of the British mercantile community to the East was mostly to plunder the wealth of the East, their excesses in the West in the Americas was to extend their Empire and land holdings. It is interesting to note that while they allowed a moderately free administrative setup in the Americas, they were experimenting on a colonial model in the West Indies simultaneously. Upto the point in time when Lord Warren Hastings was the Governor-General of India, the British interests in India were purely that of merchandising and plunder and was not entirely aimed at colonising India. It was the loss of America that forced them to look at India as a potential breeding ground – and a very successful one – for colonialism. It was based on this realisation that certain policy decisions were taken to direct all energies to make India a substitute for the lost Empire in the American Civil War. This fact is cleverly kept under wraps in most history books – the most popular of the ones that people with an interest in this subject read in the beginning are authored by English authors – the English names and fervent reviews that praise such books blind us completely and we fall for the traps.

The decision to colonise India and the decision to make a major shift in the policy towards India was in the hands of two extremely smart and crafty British lawyers named Dundas and Pitt – for the mariner: it’s the same Dundas after whom ‘Dundas Point’ at the entry into Port Blair harbour is named. While modern English professors of history would rubbish the colonisation of India as a “Casual Decision at Lunch”, records that are available speak of a different story. The issue was debated, discussed and formally approved by the Royalty of that time as regards the political policy to be adopted, the form of governance to be adopted, the administrative policy to be adopted, the laws to be enacted and the military policy to be adopted for regaining a lost empire in India. It was a well-meditated decision. The experience in the Americas and the success in the West-Indies had enabled the British to perfect the drills to be performed in each aspect with surgical precision. Detailed reports that had been despatched since the first ever visit on Indian shores of a British sailor had been carefully analysed, conclusions drawn and tactics refined to match the kind of political and military resistance that were expected. Generous sprinklings of intelligence agents in the various ranks of the military and mercantile agencies of the British Royalty provided the vital link between the policy makers operating from their base in England, the Royalty and their representatives in India. These agents were masked as writers – some well renowned names too figure in the list, military officers, civilians and businessmen. The appointment of Lord Cornwallis as a replacement of Hastings as the Governor General was a strategic and political decision. Cornwallis was commissioned with the task of re-structuring and re-building the lost pride of the English Royalty at the hands of the Americans.

The military might of the British Empire and the beginnings of some of the popular Regiments of that time is very well documented. But an ardent military mind would be surprised to hear that many a Regiment had been setup with forced labour and severe punishments meted out to fellow whites – the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh -who formed the different layers of the officer cadres, while the bottom of the pyramid was stuffed with ordinary people called sepoys. Some of these Regiments that were raised solely for re-establishing the lost empire have outlived their primary aims and amalgamated into modern India’s Armed Forces.

As is well known, it was the sea-borne empire that the Whites built first - on the West by the Spanish and on the East by the Portuguese. Coming to talk about the Naval battles, there was an important sea battle off the coast of Malabar way back in 1503 which helped in establishing European sea power on the shores of India This decisive battle was fought between an Indo-Arab fleet led by the Zamorin (Saamoothiri) of Calicut and the Portuguese fleet led by Vasco-da-Gama. The first visit of Vasco in 1498 was exploratory in nature and was more of a reccee mission. The visit of Cabral that followed gathered more vital intelligence on the operations of trade and naval activities and carried them back to Europe. The third visit of the Portuguese was deliberate and aimed at securing the seas for the King of Portugal. This decisive battle saw the Portuguese using the Column and Line-Abreast Formations and generously using broadside firepower against small ships of the Indian fleet and completely destroying them. Militarily, this battle was a technology demonstrator and the first sea-battle to be fought in a completely different format from the hitherto widely practised method of “Ram, Board and Kill”. The result was that a one-million strong nation got control of the seas of a two hundred million strong nation almost overnight. Later research has proved that the broadside cannons (called Camoe) had devastating effect on the stability of the target ships once hit. Vasco-da-Gama’s ships of 1503 had enough such cannons to provide uninterrupted volleys onto the targets.

One needs to remember that akin to the British, the Portuguese were also renowned ocean explorers and experts not only in sailing ships but also in the most attractive profession of slave trade. So, when they came in search of India, they knew all about us and they had a clear idea what they wanted from us. It is also important to note the gap in technology and seafaring expertise that these alien forces possessed in comparison to the Indian fleet of that time.

While the Battle of Plassey is widely acclaimed as the most decisive battle that brought British supremacy over India, an equally important, but cleverly down-played battle was that of Seringapatnam where the Deccan Tiger Tipu Sultan was defeated and killed. Tipu was feared by the British more than any other Ruler in India because he and his father Hyder Ali were the only geo-politically sensitive rulers that India possessed at that time. They both were aware of their capabilities and their stature in the world as a whole. They maintained respectable foreign policies and had maintained healthy trade relationships with nations despite the control of the seas by the Europeans initiated by the Portuguese in Indian waters in 1503. The British had to defeat Tipu by hook or crook. They resorted to all sorts of tactics including bribes, contracts and diplomatic assignments to neutralise the threats from equally powerful Mahrattas and the military of the Nizam of Hyderabad. A close look at the power centres of those days would tell us the disposition of their territories and how difficult it was for the British to move and maintain a formidable Infantry and Cavalry from the coasts of the West and the East and then surmount the difficult Western and Eastern Ghats to reach the foothills of Mysore and mount an attack on Tipu. Cautious as they were, they never attempted to cross over from the North-West or the North-East as these areas were held tightly by the Mahrattas and the Nizam of Hyderabad and Circars respectively. However, they succeeded in securing Guntur from the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The first success in defeating Tipu’s forces in South India came to the Western Army on the shores of the Kadalundi Puzha at Thrikkulam, near the present Tirurangadi. This battle where three Regiments of the British Army took part could be portrayed as the beginning of the end of India as an independent State. This was the end of the first phase of attacks formulated against Tipu and this defeat marked the decline and the subsequent complete end of the rule of Tipu Sultan and his dynasty.

It would indeed be interesting to listen more about the unknown battles of Malabar and to witness the scenarios been recreated with the help of excerpts from authentic documentation from the proponent of this segment of information. Each and every street in Malabar has a tale to tell and so does each and every monument that lay scattered in the vast confines of this beautiful area. The River Nila, a significant witness to many battles still flows silently in the heat of the summer, but raging maturely in the flow of the monsoons. Scores of ancient households that line the banks of this legendary river would have at least one hero to boast about. There would doubtless be unheard ballads of valour highlighting legendary stories of victory of those heroes over the Whites known probably only to the residents of those pockets and now probably long forgotten.

One temple in the erstwhile Kingdom of Travancore has left a legacy which is amazing the world. Statistically Kerala constitutes only 4% of India’s gross wealth. I leave it to you to imagine what was looted out of India from 1717 to 1947?

Over the passage of time, the relevance of our past is fast disappearing from the minds and discussions boards of our families. Our quest for the future should never make us turn a blind eye towards our past. We owe our future to the numerous heroes who gave away their present for the sake of our today. It is important to realise that our children of tomorrow should know our today and our yesterday so that they might live to be better citizens and shape-up a brighter morrow.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Journey from the Past, through the Present and into the Future - Part - 3

Stopping to ponder over the Future …

As of now, we can consider our nation as a young country. We have a very low average age for the population, which means that we are looking at modest growth prospects in the future. However, the disposition of the present, which is the breeding ground for the future seems to be rotten in moral values while rich in facilities and economic freedom. I do not believe that economic freedom alone can lead a nation to be a regional leader. Cultural and moral education and practice is a very important part of growth that societies ought to inculcate in the youth who would be torchbearers of tomorrow. Culture is not the pseudo culture that the ‘American Idol’ or the ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ cults are propogating in the nation now-a-days. We have a much richer culture from our ancient past. We ought to embrace a path that takes us deep into that culture. Making money is not success. Aiming at excellence would naturally bring success along. Excellence is when we have a deep rooted understanding of a profession of our choice and a general knowledge on everything else that would help us take wise decisions when we have an opportunity in front of us. Our decisions have to be in line with the cultural fabric of our nation. One should not make the mistake of recognizing the latest glitzy TV shows as the true image of our cultural fabric. It is not. We ought to take the time out to go out into the hearts of India – at an individual’s level, one might chose to delve deep into his / her own village and its cultural make up and then broaden oneself to higher levels. Once we realize the pulse of India through our travel and interaction with people, we would be able to touch the lives of people around us with a meaning. Then our decisions and actions would give us more satisfaction and we would derive profits out of it. Success would come automatically.

Another important thing the youth should attempt and succeed is to remove politics from centres of learning – schools, colleges and universities – entirely. There may be firm resistance to this, but it is essential to remove politics from centres of learning if we want to look at progress of some kind. Think of the numerous lives that have been ruined because of student politics. I myself have witnessed meaningless fights and relegations and wastage of precious time in campuses due to stupid political games that political parties play inside campuses. Of late, we have had incidents of teachers being man slaughtered by gun-wielding psuedo-students as well as political hooligans inside college and school campuses. We also have incidents of politicians throwing public faith to dogs to tow the line of imperialistic and ingenuine world leaders, short-selling our great nation in some way or the other under tremendous international pressure. We have also witnessed with awe the shameless roles the so-called Opposition played at various stages behind the backs of the common man to short-sell their part of the share of India's sovereignty in some form or the other understandable only by the higher bosses of power and bureaucracy. During the time of Elections, we ought to apply genuine sense to decide on who should come to power – would we want to abet some traitor who would never be seen around until the next elections come, but would eat away all the concessions and priviliges we will be providing him based on our vote or would we prefer the honour to have voted a man who stands by his principles and for progress and not bound by stupid political party mandates and who can bring some kind of change in the daily life of ordinary people.

It is not only the political setup that has to wake up from their hangover from feasting on the honey pots seized from the common man’s bounty. The Industrial leadership that covers all sectors of development – which also funds all political parties irrespective of political ideology – needs to wake up to the needs of the modern Indian. There is an important part that the Industrialists and their partnering stakeholders need to practice in our times. They ought to provide decent wages and congenial work conditions to their workers. Putting boundless pressure on individuals will not only reduce their life, but also ruin their family life. In their pursuit to meet deadlines and please their bosses, they will lose out on precious time with their family, their parents and the all round growth that societal interaction provides to them. The industrial job-providers have conveniently disregarded one good thing that the White man practices. The white man hardly works on weekends and after office hours. He values his personal time and the time he allocates with his family and for leisure with as much passion as he would devote to his time spent on work. He believes on quality time at work and quality time for personal affairs. However, the Indian private industry has conveniently put personal affairs of their workmen in the back burner. The tactic is to lure the worker with carrots and ensure that his presence in the office premises is almost round the clock. I have had opportunity to witness and make a mental assessment of the work pressure to which professionals in the IT industry are subjected to. They hardly have any kind of quality family life, let alone a sprinkling of societal togetherness. Although the office spaces have grown swanky, clean and workable, what matters at the end of the day is what takeaway other than money and skills the individual has acquired so that he could contribute meaningfully to the growth of the society and community that he belongs to and thereby to the nation. Instead of professing and practicing an individualistic growth pattern akin to that practiced in the West, these industrial sectors – where the majority of skilled manpower of our country is absorbed – can do much better to improve relationships and brotherhood among their workforce. Some industrial houses have emerged on missions to empower rural India, but many still keep their corporate social responsibility to a bare minimum or even limit them to charity and trusts which are actually a part of their own large corporate structure so that the capital and efforts that is circulated largely remains within their own areas of interest.

What remains to be done in Education is phenomenal. Instead of training young boys and girls to be weightlifters by loading them with numerous text books and note books, the idea should be to minimize books and broaden their outlook and knowledge using practical systems of learning and put emphasis on educating them. Some effort is in vogue in reducing the pressure on the children by removing certain examination patterns. However, it does not reduce the workload of the children. The emphasis on outdoor activities and sports are very much less than what it used to be earlier. Very few schools adopt a proper physical training programme for their students that would mould them to good team players by the time they finish their higher secondary education. I have seen schools that operate out of hired flats with full state government recognition with not even a decent airy dining hall, water facility, bathrooms, recreation spaces and playgrounds for children. When enquired of such state of schools, the responses I got from teachers as well as parents was that there was no time for play for the kids as they got to prepare for entrance tests of all sorts and get good marks. This notion is absolutely trash. Work and play has to happen in balanced portions. Only then could a centre of learning boast of an education that has been provided. Otherwise they are merely training children and not educating them.

Community living and a life that has compassion to fellow human beings is getting eroded day after day in our society. Community is made up of families and individuals and it is one of the most basic units of the nation as a whole. It is where inter-personal transactions as citizens of a country takes place between families and households; between people of different professional, economic, religious and cultural backgrounds and where the interpersonal needs of people are provided for by each other. These kinds of interactions have reduced to annual affairs in most semi-urban and urban dwelling units. We hardly find active participation among people on community initiatives. There is a lot that we can learn from our country men of the North-eastern states on community living. It is interesting to note the natural ability of people in these areas to live together without individual egos overarching community needs. If this virtue could be learnt and practiced by the people of the rest of our nation, we would be much more ahead of any other country in the world.

The End of the Journey...

Doubtless, our great nation is poised for impressive economic growth and is emerging as a name to reckon with in international fora. However, at the end of this journey, I feel that unless we truly recognize our inner self, identify individually and collectively our strengths and weakness and put in sincere efforts to overcome our weakness to win over opportunities, we would long be overtaken by other emerging economies in our neighbourhood. We have a lot to do within and the very first thing to recognize is to look within and cleanse ourselves and our surroundings to healthy community living practices and build up our personal, professional and familial life on ethics founded on the strong foundation of our own splendid heritage. Let us be proud of what we are and lift our heads up high. Only then can we see better of the world around us and know where we are and go where we ought to go.

A Journey from the Past, through the Present and into the Future - Part - 2

In the earlier Part of this discussion I had gone to our immediate past where, delving into the psyche of the Indian Society of pre-Independence India, I had started a journey through the structure of that society and then came to a timeline almost a decade after gaining Independence. I had stopped at a point in the timeline when the Nation like a flower bud was starting to blossom. There, I had attempted to look at the future (which is today’s present) with the balance-sheet of a highly successful, world-renowned, Freedom Struggle and a bunch of hopeful Indians looking at a bright new future, in hand. It had then occurred to me that there were a few anomalies that were creeping in into the future balance sheets. I thought it proper to critically examine these anomalies that appeared to influence the growth process of our Nation. In this part, I intend moving further in the timeline, pondering over a few premises that became apparent during the journey so far. It would be natural to make an attempt to discover reasonable answers to many disturbing questions that formed the basis of this discussion in the first place. I may not be entirely correct in my findings. Many of you who read this at some point in time may have different ideas found over your own experience and gained over readings and peer discussions. You are free to key in your comments. My humble request would be to keep your comments crisp and clear. I would also request you to kindly upload only those comments which are relevant to the discussion and not to badmouth in this forum.

Part 2 of the Journey begins here …

Having had no successor mentored over a period of time, and having learnt the way Europe's Royalty kept their flag high for centuries on, it was but natural for the top line leadership of Independent India to nurture a form of politics where the Secrets of prime political decisions (that had been taken in closeted fora mentioned earlier) and the key to Power be retained within select groups (read families) of higher society. Whatever could have been the cryptic and complicated arguments that may have been deftly presented by the engineers of the movement in this direction, the greater part of national leaders of that time did not have enough spunk in them to either expunge such moves or to go to the people for a mandate. In hindsight: what could have the people decided either? They were so much isolated from the decision making processes, they never had any say in what transpired at the top, in any case.

The second line of leadership, which was expected to support the general cause of the nation as a whole, give voice to convey public opinion to the topline leadership, advise the topline leadership correctly on the long-term impact of their foolish decisions on the psyche of the young nation, nudge the more courageous leaders to stand up to such autocratic ventures of a select few, were in a state of trance after getting too close to the real centres of power. Rendered faceless in a Society that had once been the breeding grounds of ideologies of meaningful resistance, they had to face an emerging structure of the same Society that was slowly shedding its virtues of honesty, commitment to national cause and most of all, the choice of equitable participation for the able-minded in National Development. Meanwhile, the bosses of this society had already started formal sessions of training on a new form of politics in the ante rooms and at the dinner tables of their homes. Apparently oblivious to the evil developments taking place behind their back, the second line of leadership steadfastly ‘stood-by’ the top line leadership whom they believed-in blindly and were always prepared to obey without question.

What grooming the top line chose to provide their offspring, they carefully withheld from their able and experienced counterparts and comrades of the Struggle who would, had they been provided with the finesse of fine grooming, have risen to pinnacles of Statesmanship leading a whole populace to winning glory. With no formal grooming to help them nurture into strong national leaders of the future, the second-line leadership were left wanting on the ways and means of imbibing, practicing and nurturing the nuances of the key issue of leading a nation on which the later generations of the top-line leaders were getting groomed into. Except for a couple of ideologues, few realized that Dynastical Politics was being introduced by the ‘Centres of Power’ at the cost of a whole lot of genuine leaders who had been part and parcel of a long drawn Struggle. Soon the second line leaders found themselves in an irrelevant disposition with little or no role to play even in the most popular of matters of the emerging Nation. Having spent their time, energy, health and wealth for a Movement which had provided them and the Nation freedom from Colonial Rule and of which they were flag-bearers, many genuine members of the second line of leadership could not come to terms with the newly emerging form of politics and soon started to falter in their decisions and thereby misguide their loyal followers. The second line of leadership of a young India started to disintegrate. Few of those leaders, who had the will to fight, stood up to fight, but sadly, went down fighting. We don’t even know their names. The smarter of the lot, found it very convenient to be followers of the emerging form of dynastical politics. Having got to taste the legendary pot of honey (read privilege of proximity to power) they accepted for themselves the convenience of getting reduced to mere carpets on which the top leadership were happily treading on. Very soon they chose to forget the common man's trust and faith in them, which had made them what they were. They completely forgot the Common Man's needs that they were morally bound to fulfill, which were the essence of Nation Building. They chose the easier wrong than the harder right.

The utter disregard in enabling the masses to take part in true nation building led to chaotic overtures by a confused generation of leaders that emerged as a result of this serious mishandling of sensitive issues by the learned top leaders. The top leadership disregarded the need to develop think-tanks that had in-depth knowledge of the fabric of the nation, who were capable of making decisions and systematically executing them to successful completion. A classic example is the failure of the well-meaning five-year plans which took more than double the time allotted and still remains half undone. What the emerging nation needed was a sustainable knowledge bank of experts and elderly scholars who had the power to scrutinse parliamentary decisions and who held the power to veto such decisions that may, according to them has far-reaching negative consequences as far as policies related to national security, foreign relations and economic reforms were concerned. It took more than four decades of free and independent India to produce a sound financial manager who opened up Indian Markets ending a sickening License Raaj, which had been the result of distrust on the psyche of the ordinary Indian.

Where the native Indian failed, the White man won his war. Having tasted the creamy pie free of cost for more than two centuries, the whites never wanted to let go of the treasure trove that they had found, into the hands of 'monkeys' as he would later call the natives while in the company of his peers. He had started his psychological war on the people of India long before he left our shores and as years passed by, the results were emerging for his countrymen to party about. Hawks as they always were, watching out for the perfect chance to snatch away its prey, they got down to hatch plans for the economic invasion of the Indian peninsula. What seeds they had sowed at India’s Independence had grown to bear fruits. The Great Game had come to be in place to reap the benefits of the efforts of their forefathers. But by this time, having got wounded in War, he needed like-minded brethren in his quest and he forged alliances with a vide variety of Hawks. They packaged their potions in attractive deals that were designed for the emerging psyche of the modern Indian.

As for India, the masterplan of the Whites executed by default by the well-trained brains of Indian polity created a young generation of men and women who were more than willing to fight the white man's war against their own countrymen. The only difference this time, was that the whites had rented brains instead of guns. The packages were set to the modern Indian youngster where he could reach for it but could never grab it unless some major reforms had to be engineered in the nation’s Economic Policy. The neo-educated economists started the fight for the change - after all he too had become an intelligent slave at the hands of the whites who had taught his forefathers the tricks of the trade. Economic Freedom finally came and it became possible for the urban Indian to reach out and grab lifestyles, perks and facilities he had only dreamt-of in his wildest fantasies. The situation was akin to an overturned food basket amidst hungry fowl. Naturally, the fight for survival began yet again. Each member of each household in the country wanted to float in the comforts that were suddenly available for everyone who had the will to own and the inclination to pay the price of acquisition. Values that were cherised for centuries and traditions that were being followed from times immemorial were pushed to the corner in homes. Families made it convenient to suit the cultural setup the foreigner wanted the takers of his products to follow. The Economic Invasion had started.

Where peaceful daily life persisted with each family living in perfect harmony with his neighbour, there emerged envy and jealousy. The hunger for becoming an owner of a possession that hardly had a relevance to one's daily life came to rule the light of day. Families and communities started fighting for money, wealth and possesions within themselves. Groups of families emerged that were hallmarked for their quantum of possession of luxuries and wealth. Societies that were established as classless at the outset of Independence lost their relevance and many got replaced with those based on caste or community. In his passionate pursuit for luxury and wealth, the average Indian youth started losing interest in gaining a deep understanding of unity in diversity that has driven the nation for centuries. He started looking at the diverse culture of India as aberrations of the past. Heads of families blundered in not inculcating and breeding their offspring with a respect and concern for their compatriots. The limitless resources that the country offered and now deregulated in stages threw open immense opportunities for the modern Indian mind to make good use of. However, making good use was not welcomed in the transitioning society. Exploitation was the buzzword that the West had taught the educated lot that emerged with ideas to lead family businesses. The mentors of these neo-leaders could not match the new thinking nor relate it to suit the cultural fabric of the India they had seen and known. They themselves had been apparently blinded by the glare of the make-believe world that was taking shape in front of them. Facilities that they could never imagine when they were children were now available to be chosen not from one source, which they were used to, but from a variety of choices. The youngsters were gaining more intelligence than them, but were not interested in imbibing their wisdom. The elders in their struggle to match pace with the youngsters did try to drive some sense into the brains of the young; but the young never had the time to listen. Their psyche had been moulded differently by the West already – to look more closely at the Bottom Lines and to always set the eyes on the Bottom Lines only. What you do to improve the bottom lines mattered. How you did it did not.

While Economic Freedom threw open the wonderful world of opportunity hitherto unheard of in ordinary Indian societies, but were only the privilege of the Upper Class, it also brought in the bad effects of greed for money. Technology upgradation in all sectors made education, research and development scale greater heights. But it also started making virtual circles of exclusivity among its users. The youngster's peers and mentors at work were reduced to mere prototypes of an artificial world who only understood two words - money and money. Nothing else. The peers and mentors who by tradition have the moral responsibility to use his or her influence over their colleagues to advice on moral values, now laugh off such matters as trivial stuff. In result, the average young Indian, confused and misguided as he has emerged to be, with the help of like-minded groups of his society is now trying to circumcise the very diversity that has unified the nation for centuries and is trying to mould a society and class that emulates something he sees in the cultural extravaganza his foreign ‘master’ is presenting to him. The modern Indian has lost his true Identity, while the common man is awestruck at the struggle he has to do to manage a decent living. The emerging economy and the accumulation of wealth in certain pockets does not reward the technically qualified average Indian proportionate to his qualifications. When it came to wages, the Indian industrialists and their paymasters never paid any heed to the takeaway that the average Indian required to run his household. The age-old business tradition that the Whites practiced on their Slaves - to hold them on a thin line for survival while squeezing the juice of life out of them - was being practiced with great zeal in the industry but packaged in attractive literature and presented in a silver platter. In slow transition, the modern Indian has drained his brain for the sake of his white master. Some of them who saw greener pastures on the White man’s land and overcome by a self-centred drive, cheated on the soul of India when they migrated away to toil for their white master. For many of these migrants, the homeland has ceased to be dear to him and his offspring. He has degraded himself and his offspring to be glorified slaves of the White society. He has quietly forgotten what his motherland had given him in the form of the best of education and facilities to learn and elevate himself from the throes of downtrodden existence even when more than three-quarters of his countrymen were struggling to eke out a living to fill their stomach at least once a day. Not a tear fills his eye even as his motherland is being torn apart by the monster called communalism which his white master fomented through known friends as well as unknown elements. He remains stoic even as he, in his intelligent brain gets to realise that communalism and religious sentimentalism has grown to monstrous proportions with the realistic possibility of engulfing the entire nation in just a matter of time.