Monday, November 28, 2011


nov 28th, 2011 CE

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Date: Sun, Nov 27, 2011 at 9:48 PM

Thanks Bala Sir - BRH

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Remote-controlled from far and away

Anuradha Dutt

Sunday, 27 November 2011

[ Foreign influence pervades the Government and the NGOs that are dependant on external funds for their projects. Because of their money-power, foreign funding organisations command an influence in finalising the agenda of sovereign nations]

Nothing could be funnier. After giving free play to foreign influence-peddlers, the Congress, the dominant component of the UPA Government, is back to blaming the ‘foreign hand’ for stirring trouble in the country, as it did during late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s time.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs is enquiring into the activities of 10 NGOs, recipients of funds from outside, for inciting unrest.
The focus of the ruling dispensation’s animus are said to be Gandhian Anna Hazare and his team and other civil rights groups that, since early this year, have been campaigning against corruption or on other emotive issues.

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal had debunked team Anna, while Gandhi family loyalist Digvijay Singh had blamed the RSS for the Baba Ramdev-led campaign to get back black money from secret bank accounts abroad — as if such a demand was anti-national. But, anxiety over being dislodged from office rather than concern for the nation seemed to prompt such diatribe.

In the present instance, investigators are reported to have honed in on Denmark as the provider of funds to NGOs that mask their diabolical intent behind civil liberties and anti-corruption rhetoric. While there is no reason to doubt that these organisations take their cue from whoever funds them, the UPA regime has woken up to the perils of unfettered foreign influence-peddling rather late.

Apparently, the Indian Ambassador to Denmark has reported that the new Minister for Development Cooperation plans to deploy Danish Government aid for development “as a tool to generate popular unrest in recipient countries”. Actually, Indian officials should be ashamed that it took them so long to concede the truth about aid money, whether it comes from the US, UK or some other donor-nation. There are no free meals, ever.

Graham Hancock’s path-breaking 1989 expose, Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business, bared the truth about the vicious cycle of international aid/funding and consequent dependency and indebtedness of emerging nations. It ensures that poverty is never dispelled though billions of dollars are ostensibly poured into the charade of dispelling it. A sinister spin-off is insurgency, rebellion and regime changes at the behest of alien forces.

Our policy-makers and leaders, intellectuals and civil activists/professional do-gooders need to acknowledge publicly the deadly machinations underlying aid and much of the foreign-funding. But the ruling coalition and its advisors will never do so as their game will be exposed.

For years, the Congress and its allies have genuflected to ‘foreign’ influence-peddlers, be it the Washington-based World Bank-International Monetary Fund combine, the European Union or other entities based in the West, that, after the British withdrawal from India in August 1947 — and liberation of most erstwhile colonies from the Western yoke — pursue an imperialist agenda via proxy rulers.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a few of his close advisors from World Bank-IMF-allied backgrounds in particular are seen as visibly pushing that agenda, reportedly foisted on sovereign nations by global banks and inconceivably powerful business cartels. The end result would be to keep people and countries in a state of perpetual bondage, just as colonialism did.

Aggressive free-market policies and the freedom enjoyed by banks, lending agencies and corporations ensure that most people remain impoverished or in debt as the bottom line is ‘profits’ for players.

Government regulation, therefore, is being pruned down, with most people crushed by debt and want. That is what anti-Wall Street protesters and their ilk are demonstrating against.

The absurdity of a section of the ruling coalition accusing the foreign hand of stirring the cauldron of unrest is all the more evident. The Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council, a parallel and unconstitutional decision-making body, is crammed with civil activists, some of whom are recipients of foreign largesse and awards, bestowed by the very power and money cabal mentioned above, just as team Anna is apparently dominated by such individuals.

Funding and laurels are clearly an effective means to win friends and influence people, who, in turn, can be relied upon to help shape Government policies, and even subvert sovereignty by tinkering with the Constitution and laws.

The Union Home Ministry cites the example of the Right to Food Campaign — a showpiece of the UPA’s social justice plank — with Danish Minister Christian Friis Bach reportedly stating that a civil society group should sue our Government on the grounds that 400 million people did not have access to adequate food, though the Constitution guaranteed it as a fundamental right.

The Union Ministry needs to ask, who brought about this dismal state of affairs? The answer stares it in the face: Congress, which has ruled for the longest time and its allies. The disintegration of the former Soviet Union should serve to warn us about the outcome of uncurbed foreign influence-peddling.

Prior to its break up, thousands of foreign-funded NGOs, propagating openness and freedom and campaigning on all kinds of issues, mushroomed in the USSR. Nobel laureates, politicos, scientists, writers, artists, dancers — dissidents, feted by Western countries — joined the movement that led to its dissolution.

Here, Binayak Sen, jailed in Chhattisgarh for being anti-national, was released on bail reportedly under European Union’s pressure, and inducted into the Planning Commission’s panel on health.

Many India-baiters are not part of Government but command the media’s and establishment’s respect because the West recognises them.

This is a most unfortunate state of affairs.


Book Review:

"Lords Of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, And Corruption Of The International Aid Business"

by Graham Hancock

June 1991 • Volume: 41

[Atlantic Monthly Press, 19 Union Square West, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10003 • 1989 • 226 pages • $17.95 cloth]

Foreign aid has reached immense proportions. If one excludes the billions spent yearly by private voluntary organizations such as the Hunger Project, Oxfam, and World Vision, and looks just at money raised by taxation and distributed by government agencies, the figure hovers around $60 billion a year. The budgets of most multinational corporations, including Standard Oil, IBM, Phillips, Nestlé, and Volkswagen, pale in comparison.

And yet this figure, Graham Hancock, a former aid worker for the British Overseas Development Administration, points out, doesn’t even include the billions more in government-to-government loans, unless they are “soft” or concessional loans. The question Hancock asks, and answers, in this explosive book is just whom is this “aid” aiding.

The chief, if not the sole beneficiaries of foreign aid, Hancock shows, are the local elites in the recipient countries, special interest groups in the developed counties, and the aid bureaucracy itself.

The chief losers? The First World taxpayers and the poverty-stricken in the Third World.

The aid “industry” is quite lucrative for those who administer its programs. Incomes for employees of international agencies are determined by the “Noblemaire Principle,” named after Georges Noblemaire, an employee of the League of Nations in the 1920s. According to this principle, salaries for employees of international organizations should be high enough “to attract as employees citizens of the country with the best-paid national civil service.” United Nations pay rates, Hancock notes, must therefore exceed “those of the federal civil service of the richest country on earth—the United States.”

As a result, not only does base pay for U.N. officials exceed that for U.S. civil servants by an average of 25 percent, but the fringe benefits are also far more lucrative. Promotion comes twice as fast for U.N. employees than for U.S. civil servants. It takes a U.S. civil servant 14 years to accumulate as much sick pay as a U.N. staffer is entitled to on his very first day. U.N. pensions exceed those of the U.S. civil servant by 43 percent. And this is only the beginning.

An increasingly large part of aid budgets is for travel (first class, of course). And most of the travel is not to poverty-stricken areas in the less-developed world, but to poverty seminars normally held at posh hotels in exotic and very attractive locations. In just one year, Hancock notes, the Executive Board of the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization received $1,759,584 for travel and lodging. During the same time it spent $49,000 on education for handicapped children in Africa, and $1,000 to train teachers in Honduras.

Interestingly, despite the Noblemaire Principle which is supposed to attract experts, U.N. agencies increasingly rely on the expertise of “outside consultants.The minimum salary for a consultant is $100,000. The average salary is probably closer to $150,000. Since the number of consultants exceeds 150,000, this puts the cost at more than $22 billion. When the salaries of the regular employees are combined with the costs of consultants, the amount is well over half of all that is spent by governments on aid each year. In fact, “personnel and associated costs,” Hancock notes, “today absorb a staggering 80percent of all U.N. expenditures.”

Groups with political clout in the First World are also major recipients. The purpose of food aid was and is to help dispose of farm surpluses in the First World. The tragedy of this is that struggling Third World farmers are often driven out of business by the influx of food aid.

Similarly, the real rationale of other aid projects, as Hancock amply demonstrates, is not to help the poor in the Third World but the giant corporations in the First. Thus, between 80 percent and 99 percent of all aid money distributed to the Third World is actually spent in the First World in the form of purchase orders.

“Western aid,” as Hancock puts it, is used “to create profits for Western companies.”

And finally, Hancock shows that it is no accident that some of the world’s richest people live in the world’s poorest nations. Aid has been regularly siphoned off by Third World leaders. Often this has been done, it should be noted, with the knowledge and thus implicit approval of the aid agencies themselves. The agency term for this larceny is “leakage.” The figures reach into the billions of dollars: an estimated $10 billion for the Marcoses in the Philippines and perhaps $4 billion for President Mobutu in Zaire, to name just two.

Who pays the cost? The taxpayers in the First World and, more important and tragic, the poor in the Third World.

To cite just a single example, the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River in Ghana was built with World Bank and other agency money. Its purpose was to provide inexpensive power to the U.S.-owned VALCO aluminum plant and to the wealthy sections of Accra, Ghana. In the process thousands of villagers were displaced, without compensation, when the dam flooded their lands. And since the dam’s completion, well over 100,000 people living in the vicinity have been permanently incapacitated by river blindness. This is far from a unique case.

Aid programs in places such as Indonesia and Brazil have resulted in massive losses of life. Brazil has received $434.3 million to fund its huge resettlement program. The result was the needless destruction of millions of acres of tropical rain-forest (3.6 million acres a year) and the decimation of many of the indigenous Indian tribes. Of the 13,000 settlers arriving in the resettlement areas each month, Hancock writes, “Their prospects for supporting themselves are virtually zero and, in addition, more than 200,000 are estimated to have contracted a particularly virulent strain of malaria . . . to which they have no resistance.” Even the World Bank has acknowledged that the program has been “an ecological, human and economic disaster of tremendous dimensions.”

Very similar has been the Bank-funded resettlement program in Indonesia: the destruction of millions of acres of rain-forest, bloody and savage fighting between ethnic tribes, and the death of 150,000 indigenous Timorese who opposed having their land used as a resettlement area for Javanese.

Hancock’s conclusion is that the aid programs are so corrupt they are “utterly beyond reform” and should be abolished.

If there is any criticism of Lords of Poverty it is that, as John Hogan wrote in Commonweal (June 15, 1990), Hancock “offers no alternative.” And since the problems are so immense, critics contend, it would be inhumane to abolish all aid. The point is well taken. The reader is left with the feeling that if only the rascals could be thrown out (admittedly a big if) and replaced by good, public-spirited bureaucrats, foreign aid could achieve its noble purpose.

What is needed in Lords of Poverty is an explanation why foreign aid, by its very nature—by politicizing society, by generating large bureaucracies, by encouraging or even requiring recipient governments to pursue highly interventionist policies that scare off private investors and generate inefficiency—retards economic development.

But perhaps one shouldn’t criticize an author for not doing what he never intended to do. As the book’s subtitle indicates, the Lords of Poverty focuses on the “power, prestige, and corruption of the international aid business.” Hancock does a remarkable job. His book deserves wide readership.

Professor Osterfeld teaches political science at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana.



ed. Radha Rajan and Krishen Kak


(381 pages)


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