Friday, September 17, 2004

is china going match the us's economic clout?

list member and economist anantha does not think so. this is from the
singapore business times.

china is pretty much all smoke and mirrors.

rajeev

======

Tue, August 17, 2004 Singapore

Business Times - 17 Aug 2004


China can't fill economic void left by America

If the US dollar and US prosperity decline, looking to China to take
over as global economic locomotive would be misguided - the Asian
giant has too many problems of its own

By V ANANTHA NAGESWARAN

RECENTLY, I came across an interview with a legendary fund manager,
Jim Rogers, in which he predicted a free fall of the American dollar
and, with it, the end of American prosperity. He also happens to be
very bullish on China and commodities, in general.

Since the bearish view on America and bullish view on China are at
risk of becoming consensus (if they are not already), it might be
worthwhile to indulge in some contrarian thinking on the issues
involved.

Prognostications on the impending demise of the US dollar and American
capitalism remind one of what Mark Twain said on hearing rumours of
his own death. These predictions have been made before.

Most recently, they were made in the early 1990s when the US fiscal
deficit reached nearly 6 per cent of GDP. Yet, a budget that mandated
spending cuts and tax increases in 1993 did the trick and paved the
way for eventual surpluses. The situation has been reversed again in
the last three years. But there is nothing in America's history to
suggest that the trend is irreversible.

The second issue is the current account deficit. It is indeed nearly 5
per cent of GDP and given that the GDP itself is around US$11
trillion, the deficit, which needs to be funded, is well over US$500
billion. However, in the late 1980s, the US current account deficit
was over 3 per cent of GDP and thanks to a substantial depreciation of
the US dollar, the deficit turned into a surplus in the early 1990s.

No damage was done to American prosperity. Indeed, the decade of the
1990s was the decade of the American economy.

To be sure, the magnitudes are different and the US household sector
too is deeply in debt, along with the government. Further, interest
rates are too low to attract sustained funding of the deficit. Hence,
along with lower demand growth, a substantially weaker US dollar over
the next few years may be required, to rectify the problem.

If they do come about, a super-competitive US economy might emerge, to
the detriment of the mercantilist Asian nations, notably China. That
is what happened in the mid-1990s.

The US dollar weakened substantially and three years later, we had the
Asian crisis along with the Japanese economic stagnation of the 1990s.

No American spoke of a Japanese competitive threat to the US in the
1990s when such talk was the norm in the 1980s.

More than these economic problems, the potential threat to American
economic supremacy is the country's own attitude towards
internationalism and openness.

American prosperity would be in danger if the US closes itself to the
outside world. Immigrants have made that nation what it is, since
inception. If that openness were scaled back, it would mark the
beginning of the end of US dominance of the world economy.

Contrary to what I have written above, if America's problems are
serious enough to permanently threaten its prosperity, should it be
assumed that the problems that China faces would be no more than a
short-term blip on the country's march towards lasting prosperity?

My scepticism about the durability of China's ascent stems from three
factors. One is geo-political. America would not be a graceful loser,
if a collapse of the US dollar imperils American prosperity and if
China fills the void.

Recall Bill Clinton's speech at the recent Democratic Party convention
when he mentioned Chinese holdings of US Treasuries as a long-term
threat. If China does indeed pose a threat, geo-political tensions
would rise.

The West is not short of reasons to gang up on China. The North Korean
missile programme and the Pakistani nuclear programme were both aided
and abetted by China.

There are also a slew of trade issues such as dumping and intellectual
property protection, where China stands accused of wrongdoing. An
article in the Financial Times on Aug 5 takes a harsh look at a recent
China ruling on Pfizer's patent for Viagra being invalid in China.

Second, China's own political transition would be nothing if not
messy. Chinese capitalists may be the best capitalists, but the same
cannot be said of Chinese communists. They are not going to give up
power easily. Nor might the resulting tensions be easily contained.

Then there is the Chinese bubble. The credit and investment bubble of
the technology era of the 1990s in the US and the credit and real
estate bubble of the last few years, again in the US and other
Anglo-Saxon countries, could be dwarfed by the current credit and
overinvestment bubble in China.

The most dangerous aspect of China's bubble is that no one knows its
exact magnitude. Data is so unreliable as to be practically useless.

Debt recovery mechanisms - an important part of any post-crisis
clean-up - are also weak. Recently, Standard Chartered Plc and other
creditors of Zhu Kuan Group, the bankrupt overseas investment arm of
the city of Zhuhai in China, failed to win a local court ruling to
help recover US$1 billion of debt.

Hong Kong-appointed provisional liquidators are investigating a series
of transactions between 2000 and 2003 that transferred about US$150
million in company land, shares and cash from Zhu Kuan to the
government and Zhuhai-controlled companies. Creditors in China may
well have to take, not merely a haircut, but a clean shave.

Therefore, the void left by a collapse of the US dollar and American
prosperity would not be neatly filled by China taking over. The more
likely outcome would be a dangerous vacuum in which there would be
many contenders, including both the US and China.

The assumption of the global mantle by the US from Britain in terms of
reserve currency, global economic leadership and so on, will not be
repeated. America was institutionally ready then. Neither China nor
any other nation is anywhere near ready now.

The vacuum would be inherently volatile and destabilising - both for
geo-economics and politics.

In politics, the disappearance of the bipolar world of the Cold War
gave way to the seemingly unipolar status of the US but, in reality,
it also gave rise to the forces of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist
groups.

Similarly in economics, the destabilisation of the US would unleash
many forces vying to occupy its place but without being quite ready to
do so.

This makes the case for safe-haven assets and resources compelling
because the fight for economic dominance would also be a fight for
resources such as energy and water.

But the case to buy China on weakness is not.

The author is an independent economist based in Singapore


Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

this is what's wrong with NATO's attitude towards terrorism

Sept 5

The Economist, as the voice of NATO, quite candidly explains why it
ain't international terrorism unless the victims are Americans (or
their poodles the Brits). Otherwise, it's merely a local affair which
can be blamed on local nastiness: it is not part of international
terror even if it is financed by the Saudis and spearheaded by
Pakistanis. Remarkable exhibition of hypocrisy even by British
standards!

So Putin should choose a "political solution". Now why didn't Bush or
Blair seek a "political solution" in Iraq or Afghanistan? Oh, that
must be because it's a totally different set of people. Let's see,
we'll call them the "al Qaeda". Yeah, that's the ticket. Yeah. It's al
Qaeda-led international terrorism that led to the Taliban and 9/11.
But when Russia has a problem, that's because Putin (and Stalin) were
nasty to the poor peace-loving Chechens, not because of al Qaeda.

Can we say "double-standards", boys and girls?


======================

http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3168912

Another siege ends in bloodshed

Sep 4th 2004
From The Economist Global Agenda


Russian forces have stormed a school where hundreds of children and
adults were being held by rebels demanding Chechen independence. Over
300 hostages have reportedly been killed—more victims of a war without
any end in sight

AP




AMID scenes of pandemonium, with naked, bleeding children being
carried to safety while machinegun-fire and explosions echoed around
them, the three-day siege of a school at Beslan, in southern Russia,
ended on Friday September 3rd. The Russian authorities had been
insisting they would not storm the school. But the confused reports
from the scene suggest that the final confrontation was triggered when
the rebels opened fire on children trying to flee after an accidental
explosion. This made the Russian special forces return fire and storm
the building; later, they battled on with escaping remnants of the
rebel band, in the school's grounds and in a nearby house.

On Friday night the crisis was declared at an end, though the fate of
some of the attackers remained unknown. By early Saturday, the death
toll was given by a Russian official as over 300, half of them
children; with hundreds more taken to hospitals, the toll is expected
to rise.



Chechnya



Russia's airline disaster
Aug 30th 2004
Former Soviet war zones
Aug 19th 2004
Chechnya and Georgia
Jun 24th 2004
War in the north Caucasus
Jun 24th 2004
Who needs democracy?
May 20th 2004
The killing of Chechnya's president
May 13th 2004
Chechen suicide bombers
Jul 10th 2003



The Office of the President gives the official reaction to recent
events. The Moscow Times posts the latest news. Human Rights Watch
posts material on Russia, including a report and news on Chechnya. The
US State Department publishes its "Patterns of Global Terrorism".



Bush's speech at the Republican convention Sep 3rd 2004
Malaysia Sep 2nd 2004
Poverty in America Aug 30th 2004
Israel and the Palestinians Sep 1st 2004
Australia's election Sep 2nd 2004
The Buttonwood column Sep 2nd 2004

About Global Agenda






The rebels seized the school on Wednesday morning, as pupils, parents
and teachers gathered for a ceremony marking the start of the new
academic year. The scene seemed set for a repeat of the notorious
hostage sieges of a Moscow theatre in 2002 and of a southern Russian
hospital in 1995, both involving Chechen separatists, and both ending
in more than 100 deaths after botched rescue attempts by the security
forces. And, despite the authorities' promises of restraint, so it
turned out.

Russian officials say that up to 1,200 people were held. The attackers
set free some small groups of hostages in the first two days but said
they would kill 50 children for every one of their number who died.
According to some reports, the hostage-takers demanded the release of
Chechen fighters seized by Russian forces in June and the withdrawal
of federal troops from Chechnya.

The separatist struggle in predominantly Muslim Chechnya results in
large part from the exceptional cruelty that Stalin meted out to its
people at the end of the second world war. Suspecting some Chechens of
aiding the Nazis, he deported the republic's entire population to the
frozen steppes of Kazakhstan. In the 1990s, sons of that deported
generation returned to start a bloody war of independence and, in
1996, forced Russian federal forces to retreat. After a wave of
terrorist attacks across Russia, in 1999 Russia's then prime minister,
Vladimir Putin, launched a second war on the rebels. His popularity
soared and he was elected president in 2000. Though the terrorist
attacks have continued, Mr Putin was re-elected by a landslide in
March this year (helped by a media clampdown during the campaign).

The nearest Mr Putin has come to seeking a political, rather than a
military, solution to the Chechen question has been his policy of
"Chechenisation", which in practice has meant putting the rebellious
republic in the hands of a favoured local strongman. Until this year,
that strongman was Akhmad Kadyrov, a former rebel leader who had been
persuaded to switch sides. In May, however, Mr Kadyrov was
assassinated. Last weekend, a deeply flawed election for a new
regional president was won by Mr Putin's new placeman, Alu Alkhanov.

Meanwhile, Moscow and other Russian cities continue to suffer
terrorist outrages. A few days before last weekend's election, two
Russian commercial aircraft exploded shortly after take-off from one
of the capital's airports, killing 89 people. And in the days between
the election and the start of the Beslan school siege, a suspected
Chechen suicide-bomber blew herself up outside a Moscow metro station,
killing ten people.



A local problem, not a global one
The metro bombing and aircraft attacks were purportedly claimed by the
Islambouli Brigades, a group which (under the name "Islambouli
Brigades of al-Qaeda") also said it was behind the attempted
assassination of Pakistan's prime-minister designate, Shaukat Aziz, in
July. Mr Putin has seized on these claims to bolster his argument that
he is, like George Bush, engaged in a war on international terrorism.
Russia's Interfax agency quoted a security chief on Friday night as
claiming that there were nine Arabs among those hostage-takers killed
at the school.

In truth, though there is some evidence of links between al-Qaeda and
some Chechen rebels, the conflict in Chechnya is essentially a
home-grown problem in need of a home-grown solution. Many of the
attacks have been carried out by "black widows"—Chechen women who have
lost family members in the conflict—not foreign jihadis. Women were
reported to be among the hostage-takers in Beslan.

Some world leaders have, unwisely, encouraged Mr Putin in his claims
to be fighting a war on international terror and his equally
questionable claims to be seeking a political solution in Chechnya. He
won warm support when he met the leaders of France and Germany this
week: President Jacques Chirac insisted that Russia was "completely
open to any discussions about a political solution". Mr Bush offered
his Russian counterpart "support in any form" to end the hostage
crisis.

Yet so far Russia has avoided looking for a real political solution.
The carte blanche given to Russian security forces to abduct, torture
and kill young Chechens suspected of rebel ties spawned the "black
widow" phenomenon. And it is no longer confined to Chechnya: the
neighbouring republic of Ingushetia, which used to be fairly free of
the arbitrary kidnappings that are common in Chechnya, has suffered at
least 50 of them since the start of 2003, according to Memorial, a
human-rights group. And incompetence and corruption have rendered the
security forces incapable of tackling the rebels: an appalling example
was the raid carried out by Chechen rebels in Ingushetia in June,
which claimed dozens of lives. The terrorists apparently bribed their
way through a series of checkpoints, while (according to some reports)
federal troops mysteriously took about ten hours to come to the aid of
besieged local forces.

While it is not yet clear to what extent mistakes by the security
forces contributed to the school siege's bloody end, it is obvious
that the second Chechen war has no greater prospect of success than
the first. The willingness of foreign leaders to endorse Mr Putin's
claims and to turn a blind eye to the abuses in Chechnya can only
contribute to making it worse.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Morgan Stanley honcho on India, China challenging the West

September 4.

The "giant sucking sound" redux? Where is Ross Perot when you need him?

=====

The Challenge of China and India

http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=4462

Stephen Roach
The Financial Times, 31 August 2004



China and India are leading the way in the race for economic
development, but their approaches are very different - what China is
to manufacturing, India could well be to services. Together, they
could usher in a broader and more powerful strain of globalisation
that will put pressure on the developed world.

China's manufacturing-led impetus has been nothing short of
astonishing. The industrial sector's share of Chinese gross domestic
product rose from 41.6 per cent in 1990 to 52.3 per cent in 2003 -
accounting for fully 54 per cent of the cumulative increase in the GDP
over this 13-year period. The impetus that services have given to
India's growth has been equally impressive. The services portion of
Indian GDP increased from 40.6 per cent in 1990 to 50.8 per cent in
2003 - accounting for 62 per cent of the cumulative increase in the
country's GDP.

But the strengths of China and India mask weaknesses in both
economies. Industry's share of Indian GDP has been essentially
stagnant at 27.2 per cent of GDP between 1990 and 2003. As a result,
industrial activity has accounted for only 27 per cent of the
cumulative increase in India's GDP over the past 13 years - literally
half the contribution evident in China. At the same time, the services
share of Chinese GDP rose from 31.3 per cent in 1990 to 33.1 per cent
in 2003. Over the period, the expansion of China's services economy
represented just 33 per cent of the cumulative increase in overall GDP
- only a little more than half the contribution services made to
Indian growth.

China has rewritten the classic script of manufacturing-led
development. Four main factors have distinguished its
industrialisation - a 43 per cent domestic savings rate, impressive
progress in building infrastructure, surging foreign direct investment
and a vast reservoir of hard-working, low-cost labour. By contrast,
India's national savings rate is only 24 per cent; its infrastructure
is in terrible shape; and its ability to attract foreign direct
investment - which ran at only $4bn in 2003 - pales in comparison with
the $53bn that poured into China in each of the last two years.

But these disadvantages have not stopped India. By opting for a
services-led path, India has sidestepped the savings, infrastructure
and FDI constraints that have long hobbled its manufacturing strategy.
Its reliance on services plays, instead, to its greatest strengths: a
well-educated workforce, information technology competency and
English-language proficiency. The result has been a renaissance in
IT-enabled services - software, business process outsourcing,
multimedia, network management and systems integration - that has
enabled India to fill the void left by chronic deficiencies in
industrialisation.

China, on the other hand, is deficient in most private services -
especially retailing, distribution and professional services such as
accountancy, medicine, consultancy and the law. Exceptions in the
services sector are telecommunications and air travel. Over the next
five to 10 years, China's gap in services represents a huge
opportunity. In the developed world, services account for at least 65
per cent of total economic activity - double China's current share.
Expansion of a labour-intensive services sector could also fill an
important employment need, as reforms of state-owned enterprises
continue to eliminate 7m-9m jobs per year.

If China's manufacturing-led growth continues and India pulls off a
rare services-led development strategy, the wealthy industrial world
will face big new challenges. The theory of trade liberalisation and
globalisation maintains that there is little to worry about. In the
long run, the income workers make as producers should show up on the
other side of the ledger as purchasing power for a new class of
consumers, presenting opportunities to suppliers in the developed
world.

The problem is that some of these basic assumptions are in serious
question. In their simplest form, "open" economic models comprise two
sectors - tradeables and non-tradeables. For rich, developed
economies, the loss of market share in manufacturing to low-cost,
developing nations is acceptable as long as there is a secure fallback
to the non-tradeable services sector, which has long been shielded
from international competition.

Yet now the knowledge-based content of the output of white-collar
workers can be exported anywhere with a click of a mouse, the rules of
the game have changed. Many services become tradeable, not only at the
low end of the value chain - call-centre operators and data processors
- but increasingly at the upper end where software programmers,
engineers, accountants, lawyers, consultants and doctors work.

Services-driven development models, such as the one at work in India,
broaden the global competitive playing field. As a result, new
pressures are brought to bear on hiring and real wages in the
developed world - pressures that are not inconsequential in shaping
the jobless recoveries unfolding in high-cost wealthy nations. For
those in the developed world, successful services- and
manufacturing-based development models in heavily populated countries
such as India and China - pose the toughest question of all: what
about us?

The writer is Morgan Stanley's chief economist.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Conversion mania: the elephant in the drawing room nobody wants to talk about

Their Other "Dirty" Linen: Evangelism's Quest to Conquer the World
by S. R. Welch

[Note: A slightly different version of this article was previously
published under the title "Sins of the Missionaries" in the
February/March 2004 issue of Free Inquiry magazine.]

Each year Americans contribute millions of dollars through
corporate-giving campaigns and Sunday tithes to support the
"faith-based" humanitarian work of overseas Christian missions. This
work--feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving medicine to the
sick--seems a worthy cause, an outwardly selfless endeavor unsullied
by the salacious headlines and bitter disputes now roiling the life of
the church at home.

But Christendom's missionaries bear their share of controversy. Though
most private donors and corporate sponsors are unaware of it, overseas
missions in certain parts of the world have long been embroiled in
scandals involving allegations of predatory behavior towards the
vulnerable. Though the largely poor and illiterate victims have
complained loudly for decades, their allegations involve no sexual
misconduct and thus garner few headlines in the West. Their outrage,
vented from halfway across the globe, rarely reaches English-language
media at all.

Evangelism is waged in earnest in a large swath of the underdeveloped
world spanning from North Africa to East Asia. Missionary strategists
call this region the "Unreached Bloc" or the "Last frontier."[1] In
the rural backwaters and isolated tribal hamlets of countries like
India, missionaries routinely peddle the fruits of generosity--food
and medicine--as "inducements" for conversion to Christianity. When
these allurements fail, more-aggressive means may be employed, not
barring fraud and intimidation. As we shall see below, in India at
least, "harvesting" souls has become an end that justifies almost any
means.

This subordination of humanitarian service to proselytizing is a
matter of theology--evangelical Christians believe they hold a divine
mandate, their "Great Commission" from God, to spread their creed. But
it is also a matter of policy. During his 1998 visit to India, for
example, Pope John Paul II bluntly stated that the Christianization of
Asia is "an absolute priority" for the Catholic Church in the new
millennium. He openly likened the Vatican agenda for that region to
its conquest of the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. His language, says Sanal Edamaruku, founder of New
Delhi-based Rationalist International, leaves little room for
interpretation, even among secular and progressive-minded Indian
citizens. "It is, in fact, not the fantasy of [Hindu nationalists],"
he states, "but hard reality ... nothing less than the conversion of
... the Hindus of the world is targeted."[2]

The church's "soldiers" in the field get the message. As a Mumbai
(formerly Bombay)-based missionary whom we shall call Paul attests (he
asked that his real name be withheld), he and his colleagues in India
have been unequivocally instructed by their superiors to "work extra
hard in the conversion process and choose any means possible to
convert these heathens." With such marching orders, earthly
consequences can be cavalierly disregarded. "It's not how we convert
that matters," Paul insists. "Conversion is what counts."[3]

In India, considered one of the richest "harvest grounds" in the
Unreached Bloc, the methods employed by missionaries like Paul have
stirred seething bitterness and resentment among the "heathen" public.
Perhaps no mission tactic galls more bitterly than the intentional
targeting of any society's most vulnerable members--its children.

Missionaries have long capitalized on the leverage they exercise over
India's young through thousands of church-run hospitals, schools, and
orphanages. In a 1923 report to Rome gleefully titled "The Spiritual
Advantages of Famine and Cholera," the Archdiocese of Pondicherry
related how a famine had "wrought miracles" in a local hospital where
"baptismal water flows in streams, and starving little tots fly in
masses to heaven." A hospital is a "ready-made congregation," the
report contended, where there is "no need to go into the ... hedges
and compel them to 'come in.'" Thanks to infection, they "send each
other."[4]

Thirty years later, a government inquiry exposed the wile by which the
baptismal water had been made to follow so easily. Catholic priests
had been instructed to learn something of medicine in order to gain
access to the bedsides of sick Hindu (and Muslim) children. There, on
the pretext of administering medicine, the priests secretly baptized
the children before they died.[5] What is troubling are the reports
that this practice continues today, with formulas of baptism whispered
and holy water sprinkled surreptitiously over non-Christian patients
even in the hospices of such well-known orders as the Missionaries of
Charity.[6]

Christian missionary schools, too, remain ubiquitous in modern India.
Many Hindu families believe that missionary schools offer a good
education; for others, a church-run school is their only, or only
affordable, option. Nonetheless, these schools can abuse parents'
trust by trolling the classroom for converts. In one highly-publicized
1998 case, the I. P. Mission Girls' School in the town of Rajkot,
Gujurat state, issued New Testaments to Hindu schoolgirls and
pressured them to sign declarations of Christian faith. The
declaration, printed on the last page of each New Testament volume,
stated that each signatory was a "sinner" and that she had accepted
the Lord Jesus as her "personal savior."[7]

Naturally, parents were outraged. Not only was this "conversion"
performed without their consent--illegal in India when minors are
involved--but several girls reported that school staff had intimidated
them into signing the declaration. Parents and other Hindus marched to
the school to protest, and a wave of publicity quickly mounted.
Embarrassed, the school recalled the New Testaments and published an
apology with the promise that "such literature" would not be
distributed again.[8]

Along with the apology, the school accurately denied a rumor alleging
that protesting parents had burned copies of the Bible during their
demonstration. Nevertheless, this rumor circulated wildly in the
India's English-language press and was later repeated uncritically by
Western media, adding fuel to a propaganda campaign that claimed that
Christians in India faced regular persecution from Hindu
fundamentalists. Since the campaign began, the money to missions in
India has increased considerably--demonstrating that prosecution of
the Great Commission requires more than Bibles and baptismal water.
John Joseph, a Christian member of the National Minority Commission
charged with investigating reported cases of persecution, complained
that most of the cases that hit national and international headlines
in recent years were nothing but "colorful lies, half-truths or highly
exaggerated stories unleashed by Indian Christian NGOs and missionary
groups to mobilize Christian donor agencies to open their wallets."[9]

Even when the wallets are open, overseas ministries feel strong
pressure to pay at least part of their own way. Some missionaries have
become quite inventive fundraisers; others have sought revenue in less
than ethical ways, as recent exposures of child-adoption rackets in
missionary orphanages have revealed.

Like parochial schools, church-run orphanages have long been fixtures
of Christian evangelism in India. Legally wards of the orphanage, the
children are usually raised as Christians, and it is not uncommon for
those who do not find homes to adopt the church as their surrogate
family and become priests or nuns when they mature. This swells the
ranks of native clergy, a welcome bonus given the dearth of seminary
admissions in the West. Distasteful as this may be to many Hindus, an
Indian orphanage is within its rights to raise its wards as it sees
fit. Still, those rights do not extend to fraud. But fraud is what
twenty-five families encountered in 2001 in Arunachal Pradesh, a
mountainous state in India's northeast.

With the promise of providing their children an education, a Catholic
priest from the neighboring district of Nagaland reportedly charged
parents 10,000 rupees per child (about $250 each) for tuition, room,
and board at the St. Emmanuel Mission Convent in Rajasthan, some 2,500
kilometers away in India's northwest. That price was high, but parents
considered it a bargain for a "sahib-run" (i.e., Western-style)
school. Some parents later developed misgivings, however, and traveled
to Rajasthan to visit their children. On arrival they were shocked to
discover that the children were not enrolled at St. Emmanuel's. In
fact, they were not in any school at all--they had been placed in an
orphanage. The priest who ran the orphanage said he had paid 5,000
rupees per child to a fellow priest--from Nyasaland--and allegedly
demanded compensation for this sum before releasing the children to
their families.[10]

The victims of such schemes typically come from India's "tribals,"
Hindu communities in India's most underdeveloped enclaves that have
retained distinct local cultures that set them apart from the modern
Indian mainstream. Illiterate and desperately poor, tribals rank high
on missionaries' target lists for conversion. They are the unreached
of the Unreached.

Both Rome and its Protestant competitors have been particularly
aggressive in efforts to convert the tribals. Exploiting customs that
make female children economic burdens on their families, missionaries
reportedly induce tribal mothers to relinquish baby girls shortly
after birth. Often the mothers are promised that rich Westerners will
adopt their daughters and they will live a "much better life." The
mother is typically paid about $70 for her child, which is then
adopted by Western parents for a "donation" of $2,500.

There is an irony to the notion of tribal "orphans," according to
Arvind Neelakandan, a volunteer with the Vivekananda Kendra (VK), a
Hindu nonprofit that works among the tribals. In most tribal
communities, Neelakandan explains, "Orphans as we know them are
nonexistent"; parentless children are typically cared for by their
extended family. But, he explains, missionaries will "fleece money
from their foreign donors by projecting these very same children as
'orphans'" in fundraising campaigns. Indignant, Neelakandan suggests
that, rather than focusing their efforts on schemes to raise money or
allure converts, evangelists ought to focus on the social betterment
of tribals, particularly their young girls. The VK, for instance,
specializes in educating tribal girls in useful--and secular--subjects
such as science and mathematics.[11]

The practice of allurement, or providing "inducements" to the poor in
return for their conversion to Christianity, is quite common, and one
that many missionaries readily admit using. It is also nothing new. In
the days of the Portuguese invaders, the Jesuits simply paid Hindus by
the hundreds to participate in mass baptisms. Today's methods are more
subtle: conversions are now "bought" with food, medicine, promises,
and micro-loans. Micro-lending programs are increasingly popular,
providing a revenue stream for cash-strapped missions as it adds
financial credit to the other blandishments missionaries can offer in
exchange for conversion.

The practice of enticing the hungry and sick to Christianity with
offers of food and medicine is not illegal per se, but is hardly
ethical--especially given that so many of the tribals and dalits
("untouchables"), who are its typical targets, have little or no
understanding of the concept of religious "conversion." The notion of
conversion as such is alien to Hinduism. Recognizing this, Mohandas
Gandhi criticized the practice in no uncertain terms: "I strongly
resent these overtures to utterly ignorant men," he once protested,
criticizing missionaries who, in order to gain converts, "dangle
earthly paradises in front of them [dalits] and make promises to them
which they can never keep."[12]

Whatever one calls the offer of material allurements in exchange for
religious conversion, it does not deserve the appellation of
"charity." But this is lost on missionaries like Paul, who offers no
apologies when confronted with Hindu objections. "If Hindus believe
that certain tactics like offering money, food or clothes to their
naked children in return for embracing Christ is immoral, then what
can I say?" he protests. "All congregations and missionaries have been
advised to follow these techniques, as others will only fail. Sounds
immoral but that is the only way."

One cannot help but ask how conversions garnered through allurements
can in any way be considered sincere, to say nothing of genuine, in
the sense that the convert has experienced a significant change in
beliefs. This has been a longstanding criticism of evangelical
methods, and missionaries in India are reminded of it each time money
runs short: they are forced to renege on their promises, and their
flocks return to Hinduism. But when asked how aping conversion for a
bowl of food could be considered a "real" conversion, Paul has a
quick, if rather optimistic, answer. "Embracing Christ through 'food,'
'shelter' or some other way may be considered a full conversion," he
says, because "their children," being raised in the Church, "will soon
be one-hundred-percent Christian."

History suggests otherwise. Duarte Nunes, the missionary prelate of
Goa, expressed the very same doctrine as far back as 1520.[13] Almost
five hundred years have since passed, much of that time under the rule
of pro-Christian imperial governments, and yet Christians stand at no
more than 2.4 percent of India's population. That may be why, out of
either impatience or desperation, some missionaries have chosen to
adopt more persuasive measures than allurement to secure conversions.

In the time of Duarte Nunes, support of the Portuguese military
allowed the Jesuits to have Hindus forcibly seized and their lips
smeared with pieces of beef, 'polluting' them as Hindus and thus
making Christianity their only option for salvation.[14] Such blatancy
is not possible today. Instead, the violence of others can be used as
a threat.

The tribal village of New Tupi lies in a deep, forested valley in the
northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. It also borders the district
of Nagaland, where a guerilla war between Naga separatists and the
Indian government has ground on for years. A Protestant missionary
started a primary school in New Tupi and actively evangelized there
for a number of years. Response to his ministry was lukewarm, however,
and villagers report that their pastor was feeling pressure to move on
to greener "unreached" pastures. Failing to uproot the people from
their traditional Vaishnavite faith (a monotheistic branch of
Hinduism) apparently became a prestige issue with him, so as a last
resort he played what could be called his "trump card."

The pastor of New Tupi began preaching a new sermon. According to
villagers, he told them to "get converted within one and a half
months," or else "everybody will be in trouble." In his warning he
allegedly invoked the name of the National Socialist Council of
Nagaland, or NSCN, the gun-toting insurgents in nearby Nagaland who,
as locals know well, indulge in kidnapping and extortion. The people
of New Tupi clearly got the pastor's message: Convert to Christianity
now, or terrorists may soon arrive at your doorstep.[15]

Sadly, this is not solely the behavior of a few renegade clergy.
Displaying the "neurosis of the converted," as V. S. Naipaul terms it,
many ex-Hindu converts seek to demonstrate their faithfulness to their
new creed by affecting open hostility toward the faith they abandoned.
This hostility is usually expressed through contemptuous labeling:
calling Hindus "heathens" and Hinduism "demonic" or "evil." Too often,
contempt manifests as physical aggression: disrupting Hindu festivals,
harassing recalcitrant family members or neighbors, and desecrating
Hindu temples and relics.

Tension between converted tribals and their Hindu neighbors had gained
national press coverage in Dangs, a district in Gujurat state. The
conflict grew so intense that villages and even families were being
rent apart. In 1999, India's National Human Rights Commission convened
a special investigation into the conflict. Some of the most damning
testimony that investigation heard was given by Ghelubhai Nayak, a
respected social scientist and disciple of Gandhi, who has worked in
tribal welfare in Dangs for over fifty years.

In his testimony, Nayak said that the conflict in Dangs was rooted in
the work of the Christian missionaries. In the preceding three years,
Nayak stated, there had been at least fifteen instances in which
Christian converts, "under the influence of their preachers,"
desecrated idols of the Hindu saint Hanuman, who has been venerated by
the Dangs tribals for generations. In one incident, he said, the
converts urinated on a statue of Hanuman, in another they "crushed
Hanuman's idol to pieces and threw it away in the river." In addition
to the desecration, Nayak testified, converts had raised the ire of
their Hindu neighbors by repeatedly publicly denouncing Hindu saints
as shaitans, or "Satans." This was done, again "under the influence of
their preachers." The native clergy, it seems, where also ex-Hindus
afflicted with the Naipaulian "neurosis."[16]

On the whole, no one can deny that through the efforts of Christian
evangelists, thousands of people across the developing world have been
fed and clothed. But the question remains, when the benefits of
mission work are weighted against the social costs of aggressive
proselytizing, are the peoples of the Unreached Bloc better or worse
off for having Christian missionaries in their midst?

One has to wonder. According to the World Evangelization Research
Center (WERC), there are more than four thousand mission agencies.
Collectively they operate a huge apparatus, manned by some 434,000
foreign missionaries wielding an annual global income of eighteen
billion dollars. And yet, for all the money that is spent--an
astonishing average of $359,000 for every person baptized--the
benefits of evangelism are meager.[17] Even harsher realities are
revealed by WERC research, which finds that most plans to evangelize
the world have fallen "massively short" of stated goals and reveal
that church embezzlement equals the annual global income of the
missionary enterprise.[18]

Meanwhile, the quality of life for India's Christian population
remains dismal. Despite "crocodile-tears for the oppressed," says
Edamaruku, and contrary to apologists' frequent boast that
Christianization brings justice and equality to the "untouchables,"
dalits who convert find that as Christians, they remain "as
'untouchable' as they had been as Hindus."[19] While more than 75
percent of the Catholics in India are dalits, dalits make up less than
5 percent of Indian priests. Most priests come from upper castes. The
vast majority of the church hierarchy is upper caste also, a fact
bitterly lamented by Christian "untouchables."[20]

Undeterred, Christendom forges ahead with its drive to plant churches.
As Paul tells us, the Vatican planned to add forty percent to its
missionary budget for India in 2003. "That could mean a lot of
rupees," he says. "More churches will be built in India, thus more
converts." That those rupees could be spent on more productive
endeavors does not occur to him.

Even the assertion that mere exposure to Western ideas and
institutions provides some benefit holds little water, particularly
when the principal effect of mission work is to replace one set of
superstitions with another. Tales of miraculous healings, even
exorcisms, are frequently found in evangelical newsgroups. In a
typical testimonial, an ex-Hindu claimed that, after losing her sight
following a fever, her husband had practiced Hindu "witchcraft" on her
but could not heal her. But, after "accept[ing] the Good News" and
taking a vow "never to worship idols," the woman "felt a touch" on her
eyes and was miraculously made to see. "Now," she says, "I am all
right and all my family members have accepted Jesus Christ."[21]

This is hardly the fruit of Western "enlightenment." In the end,
evangelism seems to offer little more than an exchange of idolatry for
bibliolatry, gods for devils, and magic for dogma. Meanwhile, families
are ruptured, division sown among communities, and ancient traditions
no less valid or holy than those striving to replace them are
disparaged for the sake of a jealous ideology bent on homogenizing the
world.

It is not widely advertised in the West that Gandhi, that icon of
compassion and self-sacrifice, detested proselytizing. In his
Collected Works, he states categorically that "the idea of conversion
... is the deadliest poison which ever sapped the fountain of
truth."[22] If missionaries could not conduct service for its own
sake, he said, if the price of their charity was conversion, he
preferred that they would quit India altogether. This was a man who
was neither a Hindu "fundamentalist" nor extremist. And he well knew
the suffering and need of his poorest countrymen.[23]

Nonetheless, missionaries in the field remain ever optimistic, albeit
misguided, about what they are doing. "I do admit our means of
conversation are almost horrible in nature," admits our friend Paul,
"but I suppose we are doing this for a reason." Self-doubt seems to
hover in his words, but he then finds harbor in a familiar rationale.
"The reason is Christ. It is honorable."

He then pauses and asks, "Wouldn't you say so?"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes

[1] "The Last Frontier," International Mission Board, December 19,
2002, http://www.imb.org/core/WE/lastfrontwo.htm. An entire research
industry, deploying specialized racial and linguistic databases,
ethnic mapping projects, and training resources, has been mobilized
for the world evangelism movement. See, for instance, Global Mapping
International (http://www.gmi.org/index.html). An updated version
(November 6, 2003) is available at
http://www.imb.org/WE/lastfront.asp.

[2] Sanal Edamaruku, "Indian Rationalists Defend the Right to
Criticize Pope," Rationalist International 22 (October 25, 1999). See
also "Vatican's Asian Agenda Revealed," 25 (November 14, 1999).

[3] Paul [pseud.], e-mails to author, 23 December 2000, through 03
February 2001.

[4] Arun Shourie, Missionaries in India: Continuities, Changes,
Dilemmas (New Delhi: HarperCollins India, 1994), p. 16.

[5] Government of Madhya Pradesh, Report of the Christian Missionary
Activities Enquiry Committee, (Nagpur: Government Printing Press 993,
1956), vol. 2 part B, p. 54, quoted in Shourie, p. 8. The document is
also available online at
http://www.secularindia.com/niyogi_commission_report.htm.

[6] Particularly notable is the memoir of Susan Shields, former member
of the Missionaries of Charity, whose unpublished manuscript, In
Mother's House, is quoted in Christopher Hitchens, The Missionary
Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice (London: Verso, 1995),
pp. 43-50. Shields also published a brief article in FREE INQUIRY
concerning her experiences ("Mother Teresa's House of Illusions," Free
Inquiry, Winter 1997/98, pp. 31-32.)

[7] I. P. Mission Girls' High School, declaration of faith (July 1998,
photocopy with translation).

[8] Office of the Principal, I. P. Mission Girls' High School, letter
to Rajkot VHP and Bajrang Dal (July 1998, photocopy with translation).
See also Ravindra Agrawal, "Church Conspiracy in the Guise of
Service," available online at
http://www.hssworld.org/all/baudhik/christianity/CHURCH_CONSPIRACY.html.

[9] Sanal Edamaruku, "Are Christians Really Persecuted in India?"
Rationalist International 43 (27 July 2000).

[10] Vishwinath, "Church as an Edifice of Fraud!" Breezy Meadows
(organ of the Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalayas Arunachal Pradesh Trust)
2, no. 9 (July 2001): 3.

[11] Aravindan Neelakandan, personal e-mail to author, 11 January 2002.

[12] Mohandas Gandhi, The Collected Works (New Delhi: Government of
India Press, 1976) 64:400.

[13] M. D. David, ed., Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity
(Bombay: Himalaya Publishing House, 1988), p. 8, quoted in Sita Ram
Goel, History of Christian-Hindu Encounters, AD 304 to 1996 (Voice of
India, 1996), p. 14.

[14] David, p. 19, quoted in Goel, p. 12.

[15] Vishwinath, "Pastor Threatens to Call Army of the 'Good Shepherd'
to New Tupi!" Breezy Meadows 2, no. 6 (April 2001): 4.

[16] Ghelubhai Nayak, (fax transmitted to Special Bench of the
National Minorities Commission, India, 7 January 1999), quoted in
Arvind Lavakare, "A Gandhian Speaks Out from Dangs," Rediff On the
Net, 19 January 1999 (19 December 2002),
http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/jan/19arvind.htm.

[17] David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, "Status of Global Mission,
2004, in Context of 20th and 21st Centuries," World Evangelization
Research Center, January 2004 (July 12, 2004), online at
http://www.gem-werc.org/resources.htm. Nor are the mid-2004 figures
unusual: Barrett and Johnson noted that "ecclesiastical crime"
exceeded mission income by $1 billion in their 2003 report. According
to their mid-2004 report, ecclesiastical crime is growing at more than
6 percent per year and is projected to exceed mission income by $5
billion in 2025!

[18] $20 billion in "ecclesiastical crime" versus $20 billion in
global income. See Barret and Johnson.

[19] Sanal Edamaruku, "God Longs for All Hindus! Covert Operations of
the Evangelical Church in India," Rationalist International 83 (29
November 2001).

[20] See "Problems and Struggles: Archbishop Arulappa Condemns Vatican
for Promoting a Dalit Bishop as His Successor," Dalit Christians (19
December 2002), http://www.dalitchristians.com/Html/arulappa.htm.

[21] "India: And the Blind Receive Sight!" Fax of the Apostles (April
2001), quoted in "Religious World News for Mission Mobilizers,"
Brigada Mission Mobilizers, 27 April 2001. Electronic subscription.

[22] Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (New Delhi:
Government of India Press, 1971) 64:203.

[23] Gandhi, 46:28.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Date published: 07/28/2004

rampant mccarthyism in the UPA

Has Congress an enemy from within?
Source: Free Press Journal

At the height of the Cold War, an American Senator from the state of
Wisconsin (1947-57) called Joseph R. McCarthy wanted to ferret out any
American with Leftist or even liberal leanings in any walk of life and
made him pay for his beliefs.

As a result, teachers and professors, film and theatre personalities,
economists and journalists, writers and authors, in fact anyone who
had intellectual pretensions come under his and a Senate Committee's
scrutiny which spelled disaster to them. For almost a decade
intellectual life in the United States all but came to a standstill.

Betrayal of friends almost became standard practice, so great was the
fear of McCarthyism. It was the most disgraceful period in American
history and the worst betrayal of human rights. McCarthy finally died
of drinking and was soon forgotten. But he wreaked untold damage to
civilizational life in the United States.

What McCarthy did for America, H. R. D. Minister Arjun Singh seems
determined to do in India. If Communism and Communists were McCarthy's
bugbears, for Arjun Singh it is the Rasthriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
He suspects that many from the RSS have by now been recruited into
government service and he wants to `detoxify' it, by eliminating all
people suspected of being members of the RSS or its supporters. It
will be remembered that Hitler in his time wanted to get rid of Jews.

Hitler eliminated some ten million Jews by sending them to the gas
chambers. What Arjun Singh has in mind, only Arjun Singh knows. In his
Memoirs, Mein Kamf, Hitler wrote: "The receptivity of the greatmasses
is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of
forgetting is enormous. In consequence of those facts, all effective
propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these
slogans until the last number of the public understands what you want
him to understand by you slogan".

What Hitler advised, Arjun Singh is trying meticulously to follow.
Hitler's Propaganda Minister Herr Goebbels would have been proud of
Arjun Singh who has been repeatedly saying that it was the RSS which
was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and therefore
anybody who has any connection with the RSS even howsoever distantly,
deserves to be thrown out of the government apparatus.

In the first place, the law long ago absolved the RSS with any links
with the Mahatma's assassination. Men of such high distinction and
credibility like Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan have
praised the RSS which does not require a certificate of good character
from an ageing but ambitious politician. But Arjun Singh apparently
hopes that by repeating a charge ad nauseum it will finally stick.
Thereby he shows Nazism's influence on his thought structure. In the
second place there is no law in the country which states that anybody
who believes in the RSS ideology or, for that matter, any other
ideology automatically disqualifies himself from being into government
service. What the rules specify is that government employees cannot
become members of any political party under the Service Rules.

As far as ideology is concerned it is assumed that this is strictly a
personal matter, so long as it does not affect the actions of an
individual as an official. That means that no government employee can
be a member of the Congress, the CPI or CPI(M), the Janata, the BJP or
any other party, even if his or her sympathies lie with one or more of
them. That is the position. But consider Arjun Singh's charge that it
is the RSS which was responsible for the assassination of the Mahatma
and by that token the RSS has been held guilty by dint of association
with the past.

Never mind if the charge was dismissed a long time ago but what is
both shocking and painful is that even after fifty-seven years of
independence the Congress has not dared to condemn the CPI(M) and the
original CPI for the traitorous role they played during the Quit India
Movement initiated by the same Mahatma. Those Leftist parties had
betrayed more Congressmen in the months between August 1945 and we
have their own word for it than anyone cares to remember, to be
tortured and killed by the British police.

Several files in the National Archives of India will show that:

* The CPI made several secret approaches to the British Government
with offers of assistance (to capture Congress rebels);

* Communist leaders held several secret meetings with the then Home
Member of the Viceroy's Executive Council, Sir Reginald Maxwell and
British intelligence officers and other bureaucrats;

* CPI gave assistance to the bureaucracy in intelligence work against
underground Congressmen. Worse, CPI also submitted reports to the
government about the excellent work it had done in sabotaging the Quit
India Movement.

After Gandhiji was released on 6 May 1944 numerous Congressmen
complained to him about the treacherous role of communists. Writes K.
K. Chaudhuri in his comprehensive study entitled Quit India Revolution
(page 206); "Gandhi referred the complaints to Bhulabhai Desai who
found that on the CPI's own documents, the Communist members of the
AICC acted in a manner diametrically opposed to the Congress, A
sub-committee of Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel and G. B. Pant too found
the evidence true".

The Congress filed chargesheets on several Communist members, traitors
all. All this is on record. That today's Congress, heirs to that great
party which fought for independence should today rely on support from
proven traitors, what can one possibly say of it?

If Arjun Singh has guts, he should boycott the Leftists and dare them
to throw out the UPA government. Instead he is embracing the Leftists
who have been saying that if the RSS sues Arjun Singh, they would
become a party to the case! It is to this depth of degradation that
the Congress has come to.

As for Arjun Singh's own credentials, this man didn't have the decency
to resign after the great Bhopal tragedy when he was the Chief
Minister nor has he any explanation to give to his links with the
Churhat Lottery. The Bhopal gas tragedy, incidentally, happens to be
the world's biggest incident of its kind.

What deserves to be taken seriously is that if Arjun Singh is not
stopped in his tracks he will create a vertical division in the
country and destroy its basic unity. If the RSS of today can be
associated with what happened 52 years age, why shouldn't the CPM be
equally well associated with what happened six decades ago? According
to Chaudhuri, "the 120-page main Report of (P. C.) Joshi on the good
work by the CPI to finish off the Quit India Movement could not have
been improved by any other collaborator of the British or by any
quisling.

Joshi was so anxious to prove the CPI's bona fides and its utility to
the British that he claimed that it was doing a better job of stemming
the Quit India Movement, of denouncing Subhash Bose and leaders of the
underground Jayaprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Achyut Patwadhan
etc. than the Government themselves".

If today's Congress has any self-respect, it will throw out the
Communists, lock, stock and barrel and dare it to upset the UPA
government. And let the Congress remember that in the last general
elections percentage-wise, the BJP won more votes than it did. More
people in India have faith in the BJP than in the Congress.

At this point to execute a witch-hunt against the RSS and by
implication the BJP and the entire Sangh Parivar is to invite
nation-wide trouble. Worse, it is to insult people who are as
patriotic as anyone else. Are we to presume that Messers Atal Behari
Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, to name only a
few are all traitors and only Arjun Singh and his ilk have the right
to rule this country?

What sort of nonsense is that? In what way has the NDA Government of
Vajpayee harmed the country's interests? If this trio can rule the
country well, surely lesser men and women serving at the lower and
lowest level can be equally trusted? The entire administrative staff
of West Bengal has been made slaves to the CPM and we have the
testimony of The Statesman (12 August) for that.As that distinguished
and objective daily put it: "West Bengal's officialdom, right down to
constables and peons, is arguably one of the best exemplars of
Stalinism outside the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Arjun Singh, thankfully, hasn't yet acquired the nerve and the
political training to start a full-scale Left-style ideological
cleansing, but that he is trying, obviously makes the communists
delighted. The question then arises whether it will be too high a
price the Congress may and up paying to keep the Left off its back on
economic policy.

India cannot really go West Bengal's way and survive as a viable
political entity", Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh are warned. If
they let Arjun Singh get away with his hatreds, the country will not
only be divided vertically, but it will invite disorders of the worst
kind.

Neither the BJP nor the RSS is the enemy of the Congress. The real
enemy functions from within like Capt. Amarendra Singh of the Punjab
and Arjun Singh from the HRD Ministry and from without like the
Leftist parties. These people will destroy not just the Congress but
the hard won unity of the country. Arjun Singh is playing a very
dangerous game with the backing of the CPM for his own nefarious
purposes. He has been baulked of his ambition to be the Prime Minister
and he is sulking.

The Congress will do well to put him in his place which is outside the
door. The RSS will survive, the Arjun Singhs and the Communist thugs
notwithstanding. But in the end it will be the Congress which will
forfeit popular support. Let it not be said that it has not been
warned. What Arjun Singh is doing is as close to what Hitler and
Goebbels preached in the past. He is playing with fire. One day it
surely will consume him.

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