Friday, 2 December 2011

How Britain plundered colonial India - George Monbiot

Outsourcing Unrest, June 17, 2009

The 300 year colonial adventure is over at last, which is why Britain is in political crisis.

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 9th June 2009

Why now? It’s not as if this is the first time our representatives have been caught out. The history of governments in all countries is the history of scandal, as those who rise to the top are generally the most ambitious, ruthless and unscrupulous people politics can produce. Pushing their own interests to the limit, they teeter perennially on the brink of disgrace, except when they fly clean over the edge. So why does the current ballyhoo threaten to destroy not only the government but also our antediluvian political system?

The past 15 years have produced the cash-for-questions racket, the Hinduja and Ecclestone affairs, the lies and fabrications which led to the invasion of Iraq, the forced abandonment of the BAE corruption probe, the cash-for-honours caper and the cash-for-amendments scandal. By comparison to the outright subversion of the functions of government in some of these cases, the expenses scandal is small beer. Any one of them should have prompted the sweeping political reforms we are now debating. But they didn’t.

The expenses scandal, by contrast, could kill the Labour party. It might also force politicians of all parties to address our injust voting system, the unelected House of Lords, the excessive power of the executive, the legalised blackmail used by the whips and a score of further anachronisms and injustices. Why is it different?

I believe that the current political crisis has little to do with the expenses scandal, still less to do with Gordon Brown’s leadership. It arises because our economic system can no longer extract wealth from other nations. For the past 300 years, the revolutions and reforms experienced by almost all other developed countries have been averted in Britain by foreign remittances.

The social unrest which might have transformed our politics was instead outsourced to our colonies and unwilling trading partners. The rebellions in Ireland, India, China, the Caribbean, Egypt, South Africa, Malaya, Kenya, Iran and other places we subjugated were the price of political peace in Britain. Following decolonisation, our plunder of other nations was sustained by the banks. Now, for the first time in three centuries, they can no longer deliver, and we must at last confront our problems.

There will probably never be a full account of the robbery this country organised, but there are a few snapshots. In his book Capitalism and Colonial Production, Hamza Alavi estimates that the resource flow from India to Britain between 1793 and 1803 was in the order of £2m a year, the equivalent of many billions today. The economic drain from India, he notes, “has not only been a major factor in India’s impoverishment … it has also been a very significant factor in the Industrial Revolution in Britain.”(1) As Ralph Davis observes in The Industrial Revolution and British Overseas Trade, from the 1760s onwards India’s wealth “bought the national debt back from the Dutch and others … leaving Britain nearly free from overseas indebtedness when it came to face the great French wars from 1793.”(2)

In France, by contrast, as Eric Hobsbawn notes in The Age of Revolution, “the financial troubles of the monarchy brought matters to a head.” In 1788, half of France’s national expenditure was used to service its debt: “the American War and its debt broke the back of the monarchy”(3).

Even as the French were overthrowing the ancient regime, Britain’s landed classes were able to strengthen their economic power, seizing common property from the country’s poor by means of enclosure. Partly as a result of remittances from India and the Caribbean, the economy was booming and the state had the funds to ride out political crises. Later, after smashing India’s own industrial capacity, Britain forced that country to become a major export market for our manufactured goods, sustaining industrial employment here (and avoiding social unrest) long after our products and processes became uncompetitive.

Colonial plunder permitted the British state to balance its resource deficits as well. For some 200 years a river of food flowed into this country from places like Ireland, India and the Caribbean. In The Blood Never Dried, John Newsinger reveals that in 1748 Jamaica alone sent 17,400 tons of sugar to Britain; by 1815 this had risen to 73,800 tons(4). It was all produced by stolen labour.

Just as grain was sucked out of Ireland at the height of its great famine, so Britain continued to drain India of food during its catastrophic hungers. In Late Victorian Holocausts, Mike Davis shows that Indian wheat exports to the UK doubled between 1876 and 1877 as subsistence there collapsed(5). Several million Indians died of starvation. In the North Western provinces the famine was wholly engineered by British policy, as their surplus production was exported to offset poor English harvests in 1876 and 1877(6).

Britain, in other words, outsourced famine as well as social unrest. There was terrible poverty in this country in the second half of the 19th Century, but not mass starvation. The bad harvest of 1788 helped precipitate the French Revolution, but the British state avoided such hazards. Others died on our behalf.

In the late 19th Century, Davis shows, Britain’s vast deficits with the United States, Germany and its white Dominions were balanced by huge annual surpluses with India and (as a result of the opium trade) China. For a generation “the starving Indian and Chinese peasantries … braced the entire system of international settlements, allowing England’s continued financial supremacy to temporarily co-exist with its relative industrial decline.”(7) Britain’s trade surpluses with India allowed the City to become the world’s financial capital.

Its role in British colonisation was not a passive one. The bankruptcy and subsequent British takeover of Egypt in 1882 was hastened by a loan from Rothschild’s bank whose execution, Newsinger records, amounted to “fraud on a massive scale”(8). Jardine Matheson, once the biggest narco-trafficking outfit in world history (it dominated the Chinese opium trade), later formed a major investment bank, Jardine Fleming. It was taken over by JP Morgan Chase in 2000.

We lost our colonies, but the plunder has continued by other means. As Joseph Stiglitz shows in Globalisation and its Discontents, the capital liberalisation forced on Asian economies by the IMF permitted northern traders to loot hundreds of billions of dollars, precipitating the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98(9). Poorer nations have also been strong-armed into a series of amazingly one-sided treaties and commitments, such as Trade Related Investment Measures, bilateral investment agreements and the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements(10). If you have ever wondered how a small, densely-populated country which produces very little supports itself, I would urge you to study these asymmetric arrangements.

But now, as John Lanchester demonstrates in his fascinating essay in the London Review of Books, the City could be fatally wounded(11). The nation which relied on financial services may take generations to recover from their collapse. The great British adventure – three centuries spent pillaging the labour, wealth and resources of other countries – is over. We cannot accept this, and seek gleeful revenge on a government which can no longer insulate us from reality.


1. Hamza Alavi, 1982. Capitalism and Colonial Production, pp 62-63. Croom Helm, London.

2. Ralph Davis, 1979. The Industrial Revolution and British Overseas Trade, pp55-56. Leicester University Press.

3. Eric Hobsbawm, 1962. The Age of Revolution, p78. Abacus, London.

4. John Newsinger, 2006. The Blood Never Dried, p14. Bookmarks, London.

5. Mike Davis, 2001. Late Victorian Holocausts, p27. Verso, London.

6. ibid, p51.

7. ibid, p297

8. John Newsinger, ibid, p86.

9. Joseph Stiglitz, 2002. Globalization and its Discontents. Allen Lane, London. First published in 2002 by W.W. Norton, New York.

10. See for example Myriam Vander Stichele, 24th October 2008. The facilitating framework for free investment and capital. Draft Briefing Paper. The Corner House.

11. John Lanchester, 28th May 2009. It’s Finished. London Review of Books.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

TNAU recollects the traditional paddy varieties from farmers

The traditional paddy varieties released before are seem to be lost  in Tamil nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) or it is collecting undocumented paddy varieties. It is the call request made by the head of the department of Rice, TNAU, Coimbatore.

The following are the traditional paddy varieties selections released from TNAU, since 1921.


            Department of Rice was established in the year 1912 and is the oldest rice research station in India. This centre is internationally renowned with its record in rice history, headed by the British scientists like F.R. Parnell, P.O. Iliffe and also by the first Indian paddy specialist Dr.K.Ramaiah.
            This is situated at an elevation of 426.72m and between 11oN latitude and 77oE longitude. The total area is 12.96 ha having clayey texture of soil with 7.8 pH. The average rainfall is 900 mm per year.
1.       Development of high yielding varieties of different duration groups through Inter disciplinary approach.
2.       Collaborative research programmes are being carried out with the co-ordination of Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad through All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Project (AICRIP)
3.       Collaborative research with International Rice Research Institute, Philippines and Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad.
4.       Hybrid rice research in the National and International network programme.
5.       Genetic enhancement through innovative approaches like wide hybridization, anther culture and molecular aspects.
6.       Accomplishing post graduate research
7.       Transfer of technology to create awareness by organizing training programmes, front line demonstrations and study tours for the benefit of the farming community.

University Research Projects  
1.       Development of three line hybrids in rice
2.       Development of hybrids crops rice
3.       Evaluation of short duration (105 – 115 days) rice varieties resistant / tolerant to BPH and blast through mission mode approach
4.       Nucleus and breeder seed production of Coimbatore rice varieties
5.       Evaluation of early and mid early duration varieties through AICRIP and INGER
6.       Development of TGMS lines in rice
7.       Development of two line hybrids in rice
8.       Development of new hybrid rice variety
9.       Hybrid seed production of ADTRH 1 and CORH 2 rice hybrids
10.   Collection, evaluation and conservation of germplasm types in rice.
11.   Evaluation of medium and long duration rice cultures from AICRIP
12.   Evolution of medium duration rice varieties resistance to blast and stem borer through mission mode approach
13.   Development of new CMS lines in rice
 Externally funded projects
1.       Large scale germplasm, breeding and mapping populations- collection and characterization for genetic enhancement of drought tolerance in rice. (Rockefeller Foundation, USA grant) (PI: Dr. S. Robin)
2.       Development and Dissemination of drought tolerant rice cultivars (Generation Challenge Programme- RF-IRRI grant)(PI: Dr. S. Robin)
3.       Diversification of tungro virus resistance into commercial rice cultivars (Govt. of India - Dept. of Biotechnology grant)        (PI: Dr. S. Robin)

Contact Professor and Head
Department of Rice
Center for Plant Breeding and Genetics
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University
Coimbatore - 641 003
Tamil Nadu, India.
E-mail  :

Build a selective barrier between Government and Ryots

The following is an article published in THE HINDU, a daily and I thought of adding few comments to the farmer's continuous questions, which has been asked for decades on which the country raiders (government) don't have any hearing. We need a real alternative to save peasants. 
Break the barriers between researchers and ryots
For a farmer, the field is office and a good crop means a rewarding salary. “If he manages to get a little extra then he considers it as a bonus. In a country, where agriculture is supposed to be thousands of years old, isn’t it an irony that a majority of its farmers are not happy financially,” says Mr. P. Jayaram, a progressive farmer in Bangalore growing grapes, tomato, vegetables and mulberry in 15 acres. Who is to be blamed for the present crises?
                Core reason: British are to blame. They were the one who have dismantled the village economy by bringing in the exploitative agriculture based on cotton, indigo, saltpetre, tobacco, tea, coffee and rice exports.

Accountability is a must
“There is no use in passing the buck. Accountability is a must, Of what use are all the financial schemes and bank loans, all claiming to be in the farmers’ interest?
“Most of these are only on paper. Do you know the difficulty in getting a Rs.10,000 small-crop loan from a bank? Ask a farmer and he will tell you. And today we are able to buy a Rs. 5 lakh car in a few hours over the phone. Is this a healthy economy?” he asks.
“I am not disputing the fact that the facilities and comforts are today a necessity, but in the name of new luxuries, farmers and agriculture should not be bartered,” he contends.
“Agriculture” is bartered i.e. the peasant farmers living in a village. Agriproduction is welcomed by the credit institutions. The economic system is capital centric. If a crop (Take example of Vanilla, Tea, Coffee, Sugarcane, cutflowers or any commercial crops, food processing) is economically yielding those farmers get crores of Rupees. I know a friend who works in a private bank didn’t want to risk with small farmers rather giving loans to few capital and creditworthy paddy processors than peasant paddy growers. The peasant farmers who stick to the staple food production were only bartered. Peasant farming is survival case for farmers. Banks are not charity institutions to lend the peasants. They will red carpet the non-food growers, borewell business, sand mining business and all sorts of businesses which destroys peasant farming resources. Gov’t has no understanding and this post independence gov’t is the middleman between illegal corporate and “85% land owning peasants”.

Role of media
India being an agrarian country, it is the duty of journalists to identify and suggest solutions to burning problems of villages, instead of only reporting on deaths and suicides, Mr. Jayaram argues, calling on the media to be proactive in this.
A journalist’s report must be like a platform to record, show, inform the society about farming experiences in villages, and their traditional methods of conserving land, water etc. According to him, though farmers are true scholars in their area, in reality they are not treated so.
Journalism in agriculture needs lot of regional and local understanding. Unfortunately it is the fundamental lacking point in the government system. Then how come the media would address the farmers issue. In India, the media don’t had original thinking and expressions since independence. It failed to fight the under understanding and misunderstanding policies of the nehruvian model.
“Often the brick compound wall and wire fences erected around agriculture research centres keep them away from approaching these places.
“Being shy and reserved by nature, a farmer naturally gets flabbergasted by the security at the gate and the protocols involved in such centres,” he says.
“Till date I have never heard or seen any instance where a farmer treats his guests anything but cordially. But the same farmer seldom receives the same courtesy in agricultural offices or research centres he visits.”
Securities were not five star hotel employees and researchers are not extension or consulting officer to receive the farmers cordially and hear his queries. But the AOs in the gov’t system, they are and they must.  For that they should be from local area and they should be consulted by the IAS officers in the top hierarchy for bringing policy decisions. Most of the AOs have interests to help farmers, but the misunderstood and malfunctioning top level administration will always destroy interests of grassroot extension officials. Brainless IAS officers and the backboneless politicians were to blame.

Not be a barrier
“Such a treatment of the farmers is not acceptable. The high walls of the research centres should be limited to safeguard the privacy of research, and must not become a barrier between the minds of the researchers and the farmers,” explains Mr. Jayaram. In fact it is their knowledge and skills that should be sought after by those in agricultural varsities. Scientific farming should evolve involving “true scholars” – the farmers, according to him. The fact to be noted here is that though the famine or flood does not seem to affect a politician a beauraucrat or businessman - it is only the farmer who endures the loss and suffers.
I never accept the scientific farming. It is scientific production. Farming is a history. Today, we have ultra modern scientists who compartmentalize the farming research and fail to think coherently to move further. Thatswhy the mainstreams disciplines like of so called scientific farming marches in different directions.

Needs money
“Have you ever heard about a person from any other profession committing suicide due to crop failure,” he asks.
Seeds, fertilizers, insecticides etc. do not come free of cost. Even such a basic profession as farming needs money.
And the farmer needs financial assistance. Drawn by the several advertisements, that endorse these financial institutions, a farmer buys the seeds and sows it with hopes of high yields.
“When he fails to get a good yield the company that supplied the seeds does not take any reponsibility, and the agriculture experts keep tight lipped. This is the case prevailing in many villages,” asserts Mr. Jayaram.
Guinnie pigs are only for tests. But unfortunately, here they are also for the businesses.

Indirect support
By lowering the rate of interests time and again, the government too indirectly encourages them to take such financial assistance, making them lifelong debtors.
The hope of a getting a good yield remains just a dream for a poor farmer.
For more details readers can contact Mr. P. Jayaram, Byrdhenahalli, Devanahalli taluk, Bangalore rural, mobile: 09740963352 and 09591527526.
Government is misgoverned. It will lost until it gets separated from the export oriented exploitative agriculture.
Land is important and its important that how you use the land. The current government system has no clue or understanding about the traditional system managing the land. Next generation has already turned in to economic, cultural and environmental refugees due to the wrong temptation, education and resource management. Its is time for the proactive, truthful scientists and the traditional farm folks who haven't lost their traditional land governance knowledge to wakeup and make checks wherever necessary  to  stop government in spoiling the system and reclaim the local administrative system. 

Thank you M.J.Prabhu, THE HINDU