Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #169 - Imperialism redux

Photo by Cris DiNoto on Unsplash

“Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.” ― Adam Smith


History should never be forgotten. The past is a lesson in life that we have not lived. And, if we can have the humility and sagacity to learn from that past we will, hopefully, not re-live it.

Moksha is freedom from cycles. Cycles of compulsive reactions to the same stimuli. For, that is what Karma is.

A never-ending cycle of events and our compulsive reactions.

You will not know the play of karma if you cannot read or know the past. The ability to see your compulsiveness, and your bondage in that compulsiveness, you have to be cognizant of your past.

Only when you are knowledgeable of that past and its varied patterns it creates in your life and behavior, can you ever have the urge to break through that rut.

Those who forget the past, never leave their slavery to it.

That is why history in India was shared in terms of human stories as opposed to ideological annals by the victorious. You could learn from them. Mere scholarship was never of any use.

Patterns are consistent in the history of life, societies, and nature. To break through to real and eternal freedom, recognize them by being aware.


How Amazon is doing an East India Company

An interesting retail battle is going on in India. Future Retail is doing a deal with Reliance Retail to sell its business to the latter. This has not gone down well with Amazon, which will be left behind in terms of scale in India. Future Retail owns brands like Big Bazaar, Easyday, and WH Smith.

India’s largest retail chain, said on Sunday evening that its proposed deal to acquire Future Group’s assets for a whopping $3.4 billion — against which Amazon has filed a legal proceeding — is fully enforceable under the Indian law and it intends to complete the deal “without any delay.” (Source)

So, Amazon tried to plat party-pooper and used a shady transaction with Future Coupons to derail this Reliance Retail acquisition.

What did it do? It went to Singapore to restrain the Indian companies instead.

A day after Amazon India obtained an emergency order from the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) restraining Future Group from going ahead with the deal to sell its retail business to Reliance Retail Ventures, the two Indian companies have said that they are on course to execute the deal. (Source)

What is SAIC? It is a “non-profit body that provides an alternative method of dispute resolution arising from cross-border transactions involving foreign companies. It settles cases privately and confidentially outside the public court system.”

It is more of a face-saving as opposed to a real enforceable decision by a court. It should not have jurisdiction over Indian courts or contracts. Moreover, Future Retail says that it was not a “party to the agreement between Amazon and Future Coupons.”

Some experts have said that Amazon’s legal move is not strong enough to stall the deal. “SIAC order cannot be enforced in India until ratified by an Indian court,” a person aware of the development told The Economic Times. (Source)

The sequence of events is as below. (Source: Quartz)

Now, what Amazon has started doing is something totally unprecedented. It has sent threatening letters to an Indian quasi-judicial body SEBI and the Indian stock exchanges warning of “International repercussions” that Indian businesses will face if an order passed by SAIC is not followed in India.

This is not business as usual guys. It is neo-colonialism at play. It is imperialism by using non-profit arbitration organizations outside India to thwart the Indian judicial system and when the legal defense fails, to start threatening action against all the Indian businesses outside India!

Reliance Retail is not in online retail as yet in a big way. Its current retail presence in through physical stores. And that is what gives nightmares to companies like Walmart and Amazon.

Founded in 2006, Reliance Retail serves more than 3.5 million customers each week (as of early this year) through its nearly 12,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns in the country.(Source)

The Indian retail industry is quite large and likely to grow further. Over the past few years, the top guys - Walmart and its acquisition Flipkart, Reliance Retail and Amazon have tried to consolidate their place in this market.

Walmart’s Flipkart on Thursday acquired a 7.8% stake in Aditya Birla Fashion, a fashion retail conglomerate that operates over 3,000 stores in India, for $203.8 million. Flipkart dominates in the online sales of apparels in India, thanks in part to Myntra, a fashion e-tailer it bought it in 2014. Over the years, the Walmart-owned firm has made several more investments in strengthening its fashion category. In July, it invested $35 million in Arvind Fashions, part of a decades-old Indian retail giant. (Source)

Amazon’s modus operandi in India

Amazon’s attitude towards Reliance Retail and Indian bodies and organizations is not just a one-time thing. It has been a recurring theme.

Let us recall the saga of Amazon and Indian politics over the opening of the Indian retail sector.

BJP and specifically, Narendra Modi’s team, has never been in favor of large foreign retailers dominating the Indian market.

In 2011, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led government had decided to open up the retail FDI in India – thus inviting the large retail giants.

The Indian government decided on Thursday to allow foreign retailers like Wal-Mart and Tesco to open stores in the country, the first time that policy makers have moved to open India’s vast and fast-growing retail market to outsiders.

New York Times

It was something that BJP specifically opposed tooth and nail!

They had expressed reservations way back in 2010, when the then spokesperson and now Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, had categorically laid out the BJP stance.

“BJP is against FDI in multi-brand retailing. There are nearly 10 crore enterprises (SME and trades) in India and it is believed that they are growing by 15% annually. MNCs, with their predatory pricing policies and large cash reserves, will crush our retailers,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said in a statement.(source)

And, although, Modi government did open up the policy for large retailers, the policy was not conducive for Amazon and Walmart.

Amazon and Walmart felt “ambushed” by the Modi government given its policy.

The rules now bar Amazon and Flipkart Online Services PTE from owning inventory and require them to treat all vendors equally, throttling discounts and exclusives — a huge advantage to homegrown companies, including Ambani’s new venture. His Reliance Industries Ltd., which owns India’s largest retail chain and third-biggest telecommunications network, has the potential to evolve into a local version of Amazon or Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., UBS AG said last month.(source)

This was on December 26, 2018, where the new policies were estimated to hit Amazon and Flipkart (Walmart) by 40% in revenues!

This is the reason why when Modi just came in, Washington Post armed its Global Opinions desk with Barkha Dutt, a career Modi-hater. And, in 2016, it hired Rana Ayyub, another one who hated Modi - as their voice on India. (Read this: The Truth about Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, and Modi Government)

It was like “The Economist” hiring Steve Bannon as its US desk voice when Obama was the President.

The intention was clear. And the weapons sharpened. As they are now.

Prepare to see attacks in US and world media on India and its companies who don’t toe the Amazon line.

of what was left of me… you befriended

When I spoke for Tolerance, you cut off my tongue,
When I wrote against Hatred, you cut off my hands,
When I walked towards Liberty, you cut off my legs;
When I heard the Dissent, you cut off my ears;
When I bowed down to justice, you cut off my head;
Of what was then left of me,
you befriended.

To speak the truth about beliefs whose entire edifice is based on hatred and violence and differentiation of how good and evil are distributed based on the belief in a certain book or a certain god; has come to be known as a phobia in the new liberal world.

That is why when someone, despite the vengeance-powered attacks still goes on to say things the way they are, it is time to sit up and notice and listen to him carefully.

This monolog by Anand Ranganathan was a powerful articulation of what is inherently and fundamentally wrong with the bigoted liberal world that purports to decide for everyone on what is right and what is wrong.


Also, read - 55 Quranic Verses that Establish the Islamic Path of Genocide and Terror

Record growth in the US economy

In the middle of the elections comes the news that the economy is growing at the fastest clip since 1947. During the most devastating pandemic ever! This is surely one news item that will severely impact the fate of Joe Biden's campaign. Yes, almost 80 million voters have already voted in early voting, but they have factored in the growing economy into their decision.

The third quarter, however, was one for the record books. Gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic activity — grew at an annualized and seasonally adjusted rate of 33.1% between July and September. This was a faster rate of expansion than economists had predicted. It was also the fastest growth rate since the government began to track quarterly GDP data in 1947. It represented a sharp, albeit partial, recovery from the prior three months when the economy contracted at an annualized, seasonally adjusted rate of 31.4% (Source)

Now, to be fair, an annualized rate of 33.1% for a 7.41% increase in one quarter is not the same as growth in GDP of 33.1% in a year. So we need to be careful in our enthusiasm.

The headline figure was +33.1%, the seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of GDP growth from July to September. But keep in mind that 33.1% annualized growth does not mean that the economy grew 33.1% or will grow 33.1%. It means the economy grew 7.41%. (Source)

This chart clarifies the situation better.

Facebook and its mandate to “protect the integrity of the democratic process”

The role and the dynamics of various powers and forces in different democracies and electoral process is clearly becoming scary and worthy of careful national public policy actions. Mark Zuckerberg the Facebook CEO shares how “lessons from Indian elections” are being used in the US elections.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said steps taken by the social media giant have helped protect the integrity of more than 200 different elections around the world, including in India, and have also played an important role in stopping abuse ahead of US elections. Noting that next week will certainly be a "test" for Facebook, Zuckerberg said the company will continue "fighting to protect the integrity of the democratic process". "These are all changes we've made in the last four years -- and they've helped us protect the integrity of more than 200 different elections around the world, including in the EU, India and Indonesia. And they've been important for stopping abuse ahead of next week's vote in the US," Zuckerberg said during the company's earnings call and outlined some of the steps that have been taken. (Source)

Yes, one wanted to ask the same question that Ted Cruz asked of Dorsey - “Who the hell are you to decide things in a democracy?”

How do some random people working for salaries in a private company with dubious integrity of their own and no one to answer to, decide the “integrity of the democratic process” across the world?

We are looking at organizations that are now positioning themselves above national judiciaries, election management administrative bodies answerable to the parliaments of those countries to decide on the “integrity of the democratic process.”

They are injecting prejudice and bias based on their own ideologies. We are now looking at a phase in global imperialism where national democratic checks and balances will be made to act in deference to a small group of paid individuals with unclear credentials in order to be even eligible to manage the democratic processes within their own countries.

And these companies and individuals within those companies will reserve the right to make pronouncements on the national bodies - judicial, quasi-judicial, answerable to those countries’ representatives’ bodies - with extremely devastating impact. All in order to control those countries’ polity! It is a very scary situation indeed.

nota bene

UP Industrial Development Authority attract Rs 6700 crores: The Uttar Pradesh government, through its industrial development authorities, has allotted nearly 326 plots, or 426 acres of land, for projects with an investment size of around Rs 6,700 crore in the last six months. The investments have the potential to generate nearly 1,35,362 jobs, authorities said. The allotments are to major investors such as the Hiranandani Group, Surya Global, Hindustan Unilever, MG Capsules, Kesho Packaging, and Mountain View Technologies. (Source)

India to import 30,000 tons of onions and potatoes: Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said that India will import over 30,000 tonnes of onion and potato to stem the rising prices. The statement comes as retail prices of vegetables continue to soar across the country ahead of the festive season. For the past three days, the all-India average retail price of onions has been stable at Rs 65 per kg after the government has taken proactive steps to contain prices and ensure affordable onions for consumers, the minister said at a press conference here. Around 7,000 tonnes of onions have already been imported by market forces and another 25,000 tonnes is expected to arrive before Diwali (Source)

Brain-Computer interface via veins: On Wednesday, a team of scientists and engineers showed results from a promising new approach. It involves mounting electrodes on an expandable, springy tube called a stent and threading it through a blood vessel that leads to the brain. In tests on two people, the researchers literally went for the jugular, running a stent-tipped wire up that vein in the throat and then into a vessel near the brain’s primary motor cortex, where they popped the spring. The electrodes snuggled into the vessel wall and started sensing when the people’s brains signaled their intention to move—and sent those signals wirelessly to a computer, via an infrared transmitter surgically inserted in the subjects’ chests. In an article published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, the Australian and US researchers describe how two people with paralysis due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) used such a device to send texts and fool around online by brain-control alone. (Source)

China brainwashing Tibetans: China is pushing to transform the mindsets and values of Tibetans to bring them into the country's modern mainstream, which includes urging the region's devout Buddhists to focus less on religion and more on material prosperity. "Tibet has some bad old habits, mainly due to the negative influence of religion that emphasizes the afterlife and weakens the urge to pursue happiness in the current life," said Che Dhala, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region. On the trip to Tibet, officials showcased poverty-relief programs that include the relocation of families to better homes, schooling, vocational training, and business development efforts such as a climate-controlled mushroom farm. The efforts are part of China's push to eradicate rural poverty nationwide by the end of this year. Officials also described efforts to "manage the minds" of Tibetans, who for centuries lived in a deeply religious society with a belief in reincarnation and devotion to their spiritual leader. (Source)

US Military wants decisive result: A decisive result could allay such concerns by lowering the risk of a prolonged political crisis and the protests it could generate, say current and former officials as well as experts. “The best thing for us (the military), would be a landslide one way or another,” said a U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, voicing a sentiment shared by multiple officials. “It does sort of giving the military a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card,” said Risa Brooks, a professor at Marquette University focusing on civil-military relations. (Source)

‘not Christian enough’ - starts a different journey

Esther Dhanraj is an ex-Christian who lives in Houston (writer of a post on Drishtikone - review of the movie Trance and the crazy world of Christian evangelism) and has started a very interesting series on talking to Indian Christians who left their faith.

Dr. Robin Joseph Abraham is a Syrian-Jacobite Christian from Kerala. He discusses how living in Saudi Arabia and his experiences there pushed him to ask questions. And those questions had impacts (one on an evangelist who came to ‘convert another Christian to their denomination’ and ended up blessing his path of questioning his faith and on his cousin who became an evangelist).

There are many things and aspects that most of us do not understand or appreciate and take a rather homogenous view of things. It is important that one is well-informed of one’s own ignorance and the interpretations that one might draw from that state.

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