The News – A war with no winners

A Rauf K Khattak

Op/Ed, 10 April 2018. Do ideologies rule the world? Do they last? Yes, they rule and last as long as they serve the purpose of powerful nations or individuals. This is a cynical statement. But cynicism is not without reason or it would not have existed.

Adam Smith, a Scottish economist, wrote his book ‘The Wealth of Nations’ (1776), which is considered to be the Bible of capitalism. His ideas ran counter to the prevailing economic theories of his day, especially mercantilism. He propounded the idea of free trade.

Free trade does not have a single, unified definition. It generally refers to trade between nations without any artificial barriers introduced by the government. He said that free trade brought wealth and prosperity to individuals and nations and, thereby, increase the sum-total of human welfare.

Governments, he said, should allow the “invisible hand” to rule the markets. If everybody acts from self-interest and is spurred on by the profit motive, then the economy will work more efficiently.

Smith wrote that it is as if an “invisible hand” guides the actions of individuals for the common good. Government action, however, was required to impose anti-trust laws, enforce property rights, and police and protect the industry essential for national defence.

This idea was further developed and refined by British politician and economist David Ricardo in 1817 when he presented the law of comparative advantage.

Simply stated, if two nations trade and one of them is more efficient in producing both goods A and B, it should produce good A in which it is more efficient and leave good B to the other trading partner nation to produce.

As a result, trading goods A and B with each other becomes more beneficial, even when one nation is more productive than the other.

Britain adopted free trade and became the leading industrial nation of the 18th and 19th centuries. It gathered enormous amounts of wealth and riches. Unfortunately, the ideology applied to Britain only. Its vast colonies were excluded from this ideology.

Let’s not forget how it pulverised the weavers of Bengal. Textile was the leading industry of the Subcontinent at the time. Soldiers were sent to destroy the looms so that the factories owners of Lancashire could thrive.

The worst example was the Salt Act. Britain’s Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt – a staple in their diet. Citizens were forced to buy the vital mineral from the British who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over manufacturing and selling salt, also exerted a heavy salt tax.

Defying the Salt Act, Mahatma Gandhi started the Salt March or the Salt Satyagraha in March 1930 – a trek of 240 kilometres on foot to the sea to make their own salt. The British called it an act of rebellion.

The Roaring Nineties and globalisation, an era of great optimism and great expectations, heralded not only free movements of goods and services but also resulted in free movements of finance and ideas. The world is one village, it was proclaimed.

Reams of paper were wasted celebrating globalisation and high-minded pronouncements came from intellectuals of all stripes. Poor nations were given hope that their days of deprivation will soon be over. The West will become the East and the East will become the West and happily the twain shall live.

China appears on the world stage with economic reforms called ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’. These reforms were started in December 1978 by reformists within the Communist Party of China that was led by Deng Xiaoping.

In three or more decades, it became the second largest economy of the world and was referred to as the factory of the world. According to the World Bank, more than 500 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty over the last three or more decades.

Unable to cope with a surging China, America’s public opinion shifted inwards and compelled Trump to push his ‘America First’, agenda.

Adam Smith has once again been turned on his head. On March 9, Trump slapped a 25 percent tariff on steel and 15 percent tariff on aluminum imports, daring the world to start a trade war. He said: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win”.

Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune. It is the mother of impudence and the nurse of obstinacy. Wars, whether they involve physical warfare or trade, have never been won. It is the war that wins.

After independence from Britain, the US embraced free trade as a policy, but only when it was favourable to it. The most prominent trade war of the 20th century was ignited by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which imposed steep tariffs on almost 20,000 imported goods.

America’s trading partners retaliated with tariffs on US exports, which plunged to 61 percent from 1929 to 1933. America had to repeal tariffs in 1934. It was such a disaster that it held sway over American trade policy for 80 years.

Free trade between rich countries and poor countries usually does not work to the benefit of both
Man in Blue

The writer is a former civil servant and a former minister.

Email: – 1995 Clock Tower Bomb Blast: Jathedar Hawara appears before Court via Video Conference

Sikh24 Editors

Ludhiana – Panjab – India, 05 April 2018. In a case pertaining to recovery of AK-56 rifle near Clock Tower of Ludhiana on December 30, 1995, the Sarbat Khalsa appointed Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara appeared before the Court of Justice Varinder Aggarwal on April 4 via video conference.

After recording the statement of Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara, the Court deferred next hearing onto April 6.

Sharing the development with Sikh24, Bhai Hawara’s legal counsel Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur informed that the Court might address verdict in this case on April 6.

Advocate Manjhpur further informed that Bhai Hawara also appeared before the Court of Judge Atul Kasana in a case pertaining to the bomb blast occurred at Ludhiana’s clock tower crossroad on December 6, 1995. “The Court deferred hearing in this case onto June 3 after recording Bhai Hawara’s attending,” he added.

Leuven Vaartkom – Leuven NMBS – Gent-Sint-Pieters

Leuven Vaartkom
10 February 2018

Leuven Vaartkom – Zomerkaai

Remains of the old Stella Artois brewery

Leuven NMBS
10 February 2018

16:19 IC to Brussel and Blankenberge via Gent

EMU S train to Brussel / ‘s Gravenbrakel

12 February 2018

The elevator to track 9 and 10
No door ….

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Human Rights Without Frontiers – Indian Christians charged with ‘hurting religious sentiments’ by handing out Easter tracts

Tejaswi Ravinder

World Watch Monitor, 05 April 2018. Four Christians, including the wife of a church leader, have been charged with “hurting religious sentiments” after they handed out Christian tracts during an Easter procession in India’s southern Telangana state.

Rayapuri Jyothi, 38, Meena Kumari, 52, Mahima Kumari, 35 and Bagadam Sudhakar, 45, were taken into custody by police in the state capital, Hyderabad, at around 5.30 pm on Easter Sunday following a complaint by the leader of a local group affiliated with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

They were later charged and released on bail on Tuesday, 3 April.

Jakkula Vinay Kumar, the patron of the Hindu Jana Shakti group, alleged the 20-25 Christians taking part in the march had entered the slum in the Dayarguda area of the city and attempted to convert the uneducated people there to Christianity.

But the Christians’ lawyer, Sudheer Kumar, told World Watch Monitor his complaint was only lodged after the Christians had already gone to the police to file their own complaint against Hindu Jana Shakti members, whom they accused of abusing them as they handed out the gospel tracts, which they were given permission to do by the local police.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Bhujanga Rao confirmed to local media that the Christians, members of New Blessings Church, had been given permission to hand out the tracts as part of their Easter procession.

“On the eve of Easter, yesterday, Christian brethren celebrating Easter in Dayarguda area were opposed by some men from distributing gospel tracts,” he told local media on Easter Monday.

“With permission from the police, we [the church] took out a peaceful procession, singing hymns, distributing tracts around our area,” one female church member said in a video that circulated on social media.

“When we were about to wind up and return back to the church premises, in the last moment, they [Hindu Jana Shakti members] attacked four Christians, and we went running back to their rescue.

“[The men] physically attacked the Christian youth and misbehaved with the women, and even tried to apply vermillion [a cosmetic powder] to the pastor’s wife.” (Vermillion is traditionally worn by married Hindu women, and only their husbands are permitted to apply it for them.)

She added that when she told the men they had obtained permission from the police, they grabbed her hand and ripped the bangles from it, shouting at her: “Do you know the law?” She said they then tore up the letter of permission she showed them, and started beating up some of the young Christian men in the group.

Some of the other church members told World Watch Monitor the men had said to them: “How dare you promote a religion! Will you also accept if we apply vermillion [a Hindu custom] to your forehead?”

“When we [Christians] resisted, they [Hindu Jana Shakti] paid no heed,” the church members told World Watch Monitor. “They called the women prostitutes and the Christians ‘children born out of prostitution’, and many such extremely foul words in the Telugu language spoken in the area.”

“We submitted a complaint to the police narrating the incident,” the leader of the church, who wished only to be identified as Andrew, told World Watch Monitor. “But they [Hindu Jana Shakti] ran ahead of us, to try to be first to give a complaint.”

In the First Information Report (FIR) lodged by the Christians, the Hindus were accused of assault, criminal intimidation, promoting enmity between classes and using force against a woman with the intention to “outrage” her modesty.

“The Hindutva elements are targeting small churches because we are weak, with less members, and also we don’t usually get the high level support from Christian leaders from all frontiers.”

The police assistant commissioner confirmed that three of the Hindu Jana Shakti members had been arrested, including its president Lalith Kumar.

A local source, who requested anonymity, told World Watch Monitor that several politicians from the Hindu nationalist BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, came to the police station to give their support to Kumar and pressure police to file a counter-FIR against the Christians.

“The police filed the FIR against the Christians without any evidence, but only because of the pressure,” the source said.

“What happens is the accused side will now try to silence the voice of witnesses, by threatening them, and, by hook or crook, they will see that no witness appears before the court during the trials, and with no witnesses or evidence, the benefit of doubt goes in the favour of the accused, resulting in their acquittal,” a legal expert, who did not wish to be named, told World Watch Monitor.

Police Inspector Prasanna Kumar remained unavailable for comment.

“Since the Christians were arrested post the court hours, I went to the magistrate’s house to release them on bail on 3 April,” the Christians’ lawyer, Sudheer Kumar, explained.

“The next day [4 April], we furnished the bail procedure. To safeguard themselves from the accusations, [the Hindus] filed a complaint against the Christians. All the BJP top cadre were at the police station, and have ensured the registration of [the] FIR.

“That evening after their [Hindu Jana Shakti] leaders were released on bail, they went to the church and threatened the Christians; I rushed to the police station and filed another FIR against them [which included charges on outraging the modesty of women].

He said they had used their contacts within the BJP to file the charges.

Pastor Andrew told World Watch Monitor that he and his church members were being spied on by members of the Hindu group and that he had received death threats. He said he is “very scared”, that he fears his phone is tapped and that he was told he would be killed “soon”.

“The Hindutva [hardline Hindu] elements are targeting small churches because we are weak, with less members, and also we don’t usually get the high level support from Christian leaders from all frontiers,” Pastor Andrew said.

“The reason the pastor and the church members are being threatened is they don’t want anyone to speak up when the matter is presented before the court,” said lawyer Kumar.

The Hindu – India extends support to Bangladesh for resolving Rohingya crisis

Dhaka – Bangladesh, 09 April 2018. India on Monday extended full support to Bangladesh’s efforts for resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis, including early repatriation of the displaced people to Myanmar.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said this following a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart M. Shahidul Haque on the second day of his three-day Dhaka tour. “India has been fully supportive of the efforts being made to resolve the crisis, including early repatriation of the displaced people,” Mr. Gokhale said in a statement.

He said India has sent relief materials for 300,000 Rohingyas in September last year under ‘Operation Insaniyat’ to support Bangladesh in its humanitarian efforts while he announced New Delhi’s plans for the second phase of such assistance.

“On the Myanmar side, we are providing socio-economic support under our Rakhine State Development Programme including construction of pre-fabricated housing in order to meet the needs of the returning people,” he added.

Mr. Haque said Bangladesh was “very happy the way our friend from India is looking at this [Rohingya] issue, looking to peacefully resolve the issue.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had recently asked India to put pressure on Myanmar for repatriation of over a million of Rohingyas, fearing their prolonged stay in Bangladesh could create militancy related security risks.

Some 700,000 members of the Muslim minority have fled Myanmar since August to escape a bloody military crackdown.

The army in the mainly Buddhist nation denies the allegations and says its campaign as a legitimate response to Rohingya militant attacks on August 25 that killed about a dozen border guard police.

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a repatriation deal in November.

The only real solution of the Rohingya crisis would be their recognition as citizens of Myanmar.
Man in Blue