Category Archives: Contemproary Issues

Contemprary Relevant Issues to be aware.

The Myth of population explosion


== Introduction ==
Most of us grew up on a poisonous diet of overpopulation propaganda. Remember the lifeboat scenarios in high school biology, where we had to decide who we were going to push overboard, lest we all die. Look up the speeches of former Vice President of USA Al Gore, who warned of an “environmental holocaust without precedent”–a “black hole” in his words–that will engulf us if we do not stop having babies.2 In this and a myriad of ways we have been force-fed–and most of us swallowed whole–the nasty theory that there were too many people, along with its even more terrible corollary that it is necessary to practice inhumanity in order to save humanity–or some worthy fraction thereof.

Everyone has read passages similar to the following, taken from James Coleman and Donald Cressey’s Social Problems, one of the standard social science textbooks from the nineties:

The world’s population is exploding. The number of men, women and children is now over 5 billion. … If the current rate of growth continues, the world’s population will double again in the next 40 years…the dangers of runaway population growth can be seen in historical perspective… It took all of human history until 1800 for the world’s population to reach 1 billon people. But the next … 1 billion was added in only 130 years (1800-1930), [the next billion] after that in 30 years (1930-1960), and the next in 15 years (1960-1975). The last billion people were added in only 12 years (1975-1987). If this trend (of runaway population growth) continues the world will be soon be adding a billion people a year, and eventually every month

But what if overpopulation is, as economist Jacqueline Kasun has remarked, a false dogma? What if the assorted population controllers, radical environmentalists, self-serving politicians, and others are wrong about our breeding ourselves off the face of the planet? From Ehrlich on, they have been peddling a worst-case scenario–times ten.

== Vedic Perspective ==
“According to the Vedas, population experts are wrong in their crucial assumption that earth cannot supply the needs of a large population. If people are God conscious, there is virtually no limit to the population the earth can comfortably support.”

One of the myths most strongly entrenched in the modern mind is that birth control is necessary because of the threat of overpopulation. But His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada the founder of ISKCON stated: “There is no scarcity for maintenance in the material world.” According to Srila Prabhupada, human society’s leadership “is disturbed about the food situation and, to cover up the real fact of administrative mismanagement, takes shelter in the plea that the population is excessively increasing” (Bhag. 3.5.5, purport).

The world is far from being overpopulated. A simple calculation shows that all five billion men, women, and children on earth could be placed within the 267,339 square miles of the state of Texas, with each person occupying about fifteen hundred square feet of space.

But what about food? A study by the University of California’s Division of Agricultural Science shows that by practicing the best agricultural methods now in use, the world’s farmers could raise enough food to provide an American style diet for ten times the present population. And if people would be satisfied with an equally nourishing but mostly vegetarian diet, we could feed thirty times the present population.

== Manage your resources ==
Studies of an African famine in the early 1970’srevealed that every country affected had within its borders the agricultural resources to feed its people. As Frances Moore Lappe points out in her well-researched book Food First, much of the best land was being misused for production of exportable cash crops.

Srila Prabhupada went on to say, “I have traveled to Africa, Australia, and America, and everywhere there is so much land vacant. If we use it to produce food grains, then we can feed ten times as much population as at the present moment. There is no question of scarcity. The whole creation is so made by Krishna that everything is purnam, complete.”

Food resources are also wasted by improper diets. During his lecture in Mauritius, Srila Prabhupada said, “I have seen in the Western countries that they are growing food grains for the animals, and the food grains are eaten by the animals, and the animal is eaten by the man…. What are the statistics? The animals are eating food grains, but the same amount of food grains can be eaten by so many men.”

Such statistics do exist. Government figures show that about ninety percent of the edible grains harvested in the United States are fed to animals that are later killed for meat. But for every sixteen pounds of grain fed to beef cattle, only one pound of meat is produced.

Srila Prabhupada concluded, “If there were one government on the surface of the earth to handle the distribution of grain, there would be no question of scarcity, no necessity to open slaughterhouses, and no need to present false theories about overpopulation” (Bhag. 4.17.25, purport).

== The Genesis of the theory ==
The first person to sound the overpopulation alarm was the English economist Malthus (1766-1834), who calculated that population tends to increase much faster than the earth’s limited food supply. New farmland, of which there is only so much, said Malthus, can be brought into production only slowly and with great labor and careful planning, whereas—because of the constant pressure of sex desire—people will have as many children as they are able, unless they are checked. Therefore the population is almost always pushing the limit of available food, and suffering results. Malthus summarized this with his maxim that food production increases arithmetically, while population increases geometrically.

“That population has this constant tendency to increase beyond the means of subsistence,” states Malthus “… will sufficiently appear from a review of the different states of society in which man has existed.” But according to the Vedic viewpoint, the earth can produce an almost unlimited amount of life’s necessities. Restriction occurs not from overpopulation but from some other cause, namely the self-destructive attitudes and actions of the planet’s population.

The science of ecology has awakened us to a greater appreciation of how different organisms and natural resources are linked in complex interdependency, and how easily this interdependency can be disturbed—as in the case of acid rain, for example. While doing research for NASA, scientist Jim Lovelock concluded that the “earth’s living matter, air, oceans, and land surface form a complex system which can be seen as a single organism and which has the capacity to keep our planet a fit place for life.” He calls his hypothesis the “Gaia principle,” after the Greek goddess of the earth.

=== The Earth can give more ===
Lovelock himself, adhering to the principles of materialistic science, does not believe in a personified earth deity. But he does point out, “The concept of Mother Earth, or, as the Greeks called her long ago, Gaia, has been widely held throughout history and has been the basis of a belief which still coexists with the great religions.” The Vedic scriptures clearly state that the earth is the visible form of the goddess Bhumi, who restricts or increases her production according to the population’s level of spiritual consciousness.

“Therefore,” states Srila Prabhupada, “although there may be a great increase in population on the surface of the earth, if the people are exactly in line with God consciousness and are not miscreants, such a burden on the earth is a source of pleasure for her” (Bhag. 3.3.14, purport).

So according to the Vedas, Malthus and later population experts are wrong in n their crucial assumption that earth cannot supply the needs of a large population. If people are God conscious, there is virtually no limit to the population the earth can comfortably support.

== Fallacy of Birth control programs ==
Nevertheless, Malthus did have some valuable points to make about population control. He believed that the best solution was voluntary restraint from marriage—without “vice,” by which he meant any kind. of illicit sex whatsoever. Malthus specifically opposed free sex, which relies on abortion and contraception for population control. The dangers Malthus warned of have come to pass. Divorce, teenage suicide, child abuse, sex crimes—all are on the rise. Neglected children from broken homes fill the courts. In the face of the dangers from herpes, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases, many people—often out of fear for their lives—are limiting their promiscuity. In Africa, where in some countries promiscuity is rampant, far more people face death from AIDS than from starvation.

In his study of population in different parts of the world, Malthus took special note of India, where the process of moral restraint is recommended in the Vedic scriptures such as the Manu-samhita, the laws compiled by Manu, the forefather of mankind. Malthus noted, “In almost every part of the ordinances of Manu, sensuality of all kinds is strongly reprobated, and chastity inculcated as a religious duty.” Srila Prabhupada states, “We do not find in Vedic literatures that they ever used contraceptive methods…. The contraceptive method should be restraint in sex life…. If one is fortunate enough to have a good, conscientious wife, he can decide by mutual consultation that human life is meant for advancing in Krishna consciousness and not for begetting a large number of children” (Bhag. 4.27.6, purport).

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), a principal organizer of the modern birth control movement, once visited Gandhi in India and tried to persuade him to support a birth control program for his country. “He agreed,” wrote Sanger, “that no more than three or four children should be born to a family, but insisted that intercourse, therefore, should be restricted for the entire married life of the couple to three or four occasions.”

Sanger and her followers had more success with people of other religious backgrounds. The wives of some American Episcopal bishops once asked Sanger to convince their husbands about the necessity for legalized birth control. Sanger complied, and soon thereafter the bishops reversed their previous opposition. Although most Protestant and Jewish denominations approve birth control, the Catholic Church continues to oppose it. Despite much opposition from the laity—and some clergymen as well—the pope has maintained that sex other than for conception is sinful. Nevertheless, the Church still allows sex during the socalled safe period, as well as after menopause and for sterile persons. That contradiction is not present in the Vedic society—non-procreative sex is against the Vedic principles.

Is reincarnation just a belief? According to the Vedas, it is a fact each of us must face. Even Western science has turned up evidence (in research into out- of-body experiences and memories of past lives) that strongly suggests there is a conscious part of us that survives the death experience. We return, the Vedas explain, to suffer the reactions to the activities we performed in our previous life.

Srila Prabhupada therefore warns, “Illicit sex creates pregnancies, and these unwanted pregnancies lead to abortion. Those involved become implicated in these sins, so much so that they are punished in the same way the nextlife. Thus in the next life they also enter the womb of a mother and are killed in the same way” (Bhag. 5.4.9, purport).

Because the soul is eternal, the soul denied birth by contraception and abortion does not die; he simply enters into another womb. Birth control is thus a total failure because it doesn’t prevent birth. It only brings suffering for everyone involved. To protect ourselves from the harsh reactions to illicit sex, the Vedic literature proposes sexual restraint.

== The Natural Way ==
Baron Dawson of Penn, the court physician of Edward VII and George V, who in a speech at a congress of the Anglican Church answered the proposition by the Anglican bishops that sexual activity should be restricted to that necessary for procreation. “Imagine a young married couple in love with each other,” said Dawson, “being expected to occupy the same room and to abstain for two years. The thing is preposterous. You might as well put water by the side of a man suffering from thirst and tell him not to drink it.” But what if, besides the waterpot, there were a pot of divine nectar? By drinking the nectar, the man could abstain from drinking the water and yet become relieved not only of his thirst but of all his suffering and experience a superior pleasure. In other words, if one experiences the superior pleasure of spiritual life, one can forego the lower pleasure of sex.

Because people have generally not experienced such higher pleasure, they must be attached to sexual pleasure, especially since we live in a culture where everyone is exposed to intense sexual propaganda. The Vedic civilization, however, strongly emphasizes [[Brahmacharya|brahmacarya]], or celibacy, and formerly every child was expected to spend the first twenty or so years of life as a celibate student of the spiritual science of God consciousness.

This celibacy was not, however, a denial of the individual’s innate desire for pleasure. Rather, giving up the lower pleasures of the sexual urge was merely a precondition for experiencing the higher, transcendental pleasures of the soul’s spiritual love for God, who is known as Krishna, the reservoir of all pleasure.

In an atmosphere of sexual license, pregnancy is often regarded as an unwanted by-product that greatly decreases the value of sexual pleasure. The remedy that Sanger and her followers favored was contraception, rather than abortion. Sanger felt that abortion is violent, whereas contraception is somehow different. But contraception is simply a less obvious act of violence. Most contraceptive methods work on the principle of making the womb uninhabitable, by physical or chemical means, for the fertilized egg. This is actually another type of murder, operating at an earlier stage than abortion, because even at this very early stage, according to the Vedas, the soul has already been introduced into the egg.

Other methods of contraception aim at stopping either the sperm or egg from reaching the point of conception. But whether the method involves obstruction or destruction, the result is the same. “Contraception deteriorates the womb so that it no longer is a good place for the soul,” warns Srila Prabhupada.

“That is against the order of God. By the order of God, a soul is sent to a particular womb, but by this contraceptive he is denied that womb and has to be placed in another. That is disobedience to the Supreme. For example, take a man who is supposed to live in a particular apartment. If the situation there is so disturbed that he cannot enter the apartment, then he is put at a great disadvantage. That is illegal interference and is punishable” (The Science of Self-Realization, pp. 49-50).

Such methods of birth control are now prominent all over the world. Reversing this situation is going to be a difficult battle, but important skirmishes are already being won. All around the world, thousands of married couples have adopted the Krishna conscious principle of voluntarily restraining from sex except for procreation, and many more thousands of single men and women have opted for total celibacy, either permanently or until they marry.

The Vedic system of birth control does not mean no sex and fewer people, but sex according to spiritual principles—and better people, be they few or many. In this regard, Malthus made a point worth noting: “I have never considered any possible increase of population as an evil, except as far as it might increase the proportion of vice and misery.” If the increasing population is of good character, there will naturally be a desirable decrease in vice and misery.

But how do we insure good population? According to the Vedas, the consciousness of the parents at the time of conception determines the quality of the child. Srila Prabhupada advises, “The birth of a human being is a great science, and therefore reformation of the act of impregnation according to the Vedic ritual called garbhadhana-samskara is very important for generating good population. The problem is not to check the growth of the population, but to generate good population…. So-called birth control is not only vicious but also useless” (Bhag. 3.5.19, purport).

Srila Prabhupada further states, “This material world is created to give the conditioned souls a chance … for going back home, back to Godhead, and therefore generation of the living being is necessary, … and as such one can even serve the Lord in the act of such sexual pleasure. The service is counted when the children born of such sexual pleasure are properly trained in God consciousness” (Bhag. 2.10.26, purport).

If the people are good, then no matter how numerous they are, they will be able to cooperate peacefully and, with the blessings of God, receive ample resources from Mother Earth. On the other hand, even a very limited population of bad character can make the planet into a hell. Selfish sex, aided by abortion, pills, condoms, and so on, is not going to make this world a happier place for anyone. People will continue in the cycle of birth and death, and the world will be a chaos of greed, anger, envy, and violence.

== References ==
# The Myth of Overpopulation by Drutakarma Dasa
#Steven Mosher’s book, Population Control—Real Costs, Illusory Benefits.
#[http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/why-is-the-human-population-ever-increasing Is the population really increasing?]
#[http://absolutetruth.in/2009/09/the-dangers-of-promiscuity/ Dangers of Promiscuity]

Compiled by [[Authors:Lndasa|LNDASA]]

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Decline of Indology in the West


Indology, which is the study of Indian history and culture from a Western perspective, is rapidly declining in the West under the impact of science and changed global conditions. Just as Max Müller represented Indology at its height, Michael Witzel symbolizes its current decadent state.

== Abstract ==
Indology may be defined as the study of Indian culture and history from a Western, particularly European perspective. The earliest Westerner to show an interest in India was the Greek historian Herodotus, followed by his successors like Megasthenes, Arrian, Strabo and others. This was followed by missionaries, traders and diplomats, often one and the same. With the beginning of European colonialism, Indology underwent a qualitative change, with what was primarily of trade and missionary interest to becoming a political and administrative tool. Some of the early Indologists like William Jones, H.T. Colebrook and others were employed by the East India Company, and later the British Government. Even academics like F. Max Müller were dependent on colonial governments and the support of missionaries. From the second half of the 19th century to the end of the Second World War, German nationalism played a major role in the shaping of Indological scholarship.

Much of the literature in Indology carries this politico-social baggage including colonial attitudes and stereotypes. The end of the Second World War saw also the end of European colonialism, beginning with India. Indology however was slow to change, and with minor modifications like seemingly dissociating itself from its racial legacy, the same theories and conclusions continued to be presented by Western Indologists. Towards the close of the twentieth century, first science and then globalization dealt serious blows to the discipline and its offshoots like Indo European Studies. This is reflected in the closure of established Indology programs in the West and the rise of new programs within and without academic centers driven mainly by science and primary literature.

The article will trace the origins, evolution and the devolution of Indology and the main contribution of the field and some of its key personalities.

== Background: Historiography ==
One of the striking features of the first decade of the present century (and millennium) is the precipitous decline of Indology and the associated field of Indo-European Studies. Within the last three years, the Sanskrit Department at Cambridge University and the Berlin Institute of Indology, two of the oldest and most prestigious Indology centers in the West, have shut down. The reason cited is lack of interest. At Cambridge, not a single student had enrolled for its Sanskrit or Hindi course.

Other universities in Europe and America are facing similar problems. The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, long a leader in Oriental Studies, is drastically cutting down on its programs. Even the Sanskrit Department at Harvard, one of the oldest and most prestigious in America, shut down its summer program of teaching Sanskrit to foreign students. It may be a harbinger of things to come that Francis X. Clooney and Anne E. Monius, both theologians with the Harvard Divinity School, are teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the Sanskrit Department. More seriously, they are also advising doctoral candidates.

Does this mean that the Harvard Sanskrit Department may eventually be absorbed into the Divinity School and lose its secular character? In striking contrast, the Classics Department which teaches Greek and Latin has no association with the Divinity School, despite the fact that Biblical studies can hardly exist without Greek and Latin. It serves to highlight the fact that Sanskrit is not and can never be as central to the Western Canon as Greek and Latin. It also means that Sanskrit Studies, or Indology, or whatever one may call it must seek an identity that is free of its colonial trappings. It was this colonial patronage in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries that sustained these programs. Their slide into the fringes of academia is a reflection of the changed conditions following the end of colonialism.

Coming at a time when worldwide interest in India is the highest in memory, it points to structural problems in Indology and related fields like Indo-European Studies. Also, the magnitude of the crisis suggests that the problems are fundamental and just not a transient phenomenon. What is striking is the contrast between this gloomy academic scene and the outside world. During my lecture tours in Europe, Australia and the United States, I found no lack of interest, especially among the youth. Only they are getting what they want from programs outside academic departments, in cultural centers like the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, temples, and short courses and seminars conducted by visiting lecturers (like this writer).

This means the demand is there, but academic departments are being bypassed. Even for learning Sanskrit, there are now innovative programs like those offered by Samskrita Bharati that teach in ten intensive yet lively sessions more than what students learn in a semester of dry lectures. The same is true of other topics related to India— history, yoga, philosophy and others. And this interest is by no means limited to persons of Indian origin. What has gone wrong with academic Indology, and can it be reversed?

To understand the problem today it is necessary to visit its peculiar origins. Modern Indology began with Sir William Jones’s observation in 1784 that Sanskrit and European languages were related. Jones was a useful linguist but his main job was to interpret Indian law and customs to his employers, the British East India Company. This dual role of Indologists as scholars as well as interpreters of India continued well into the twentieth century. Many Indologists, including such eminent figures as H.H. Wilson and F. Max Müller sought and enjoyed the patronage of the ruling powers.

Indologists’ role as interpreters of India ended with independence in 1947, but many Indologists, especially in the West failed to see the writing on the wall. They continued to get students from India, which seems to have lulled them into believing that it would be business as usual. But today, six decades later, Indian immigrants and persons of Indian origin occupy influential positions in business, industry and now the government in the United States and Britain. They are now part of the establishment in their adopted lands. No one in the West today looks to Indology departments for advice on matters relating to India when they can get it from their next door neighbor or an office colleague. In this era of globalization, India and Indians are not the exotic creatures they were once seen to be.

This means the Indologist’s position as interpreter of India to the West, and sometimes even to Indians, is gone for good. But this alone cannot explain why their Sanskrit and related programs are also folding. To understand this we need to look further and recognize that new scientific discoveries are impacting Indology in ways that could not be imagined even twenty years ago. This is nothing new. For more than a century, the foundation of Indology had been linguistics, particularly Sanskrit and Indo-European languages. While archaeological discoveries of the Harappan civilization forced Indologists to take this hard data also into their discipline, they continued to use their linguistic theories in interpreting new data. In effect, empirical data became subordinate to theory, the exact reverse of the scientific approach.

These often forced interpretations of hard data from archaeology and even literature were far from convincing and undermined the whole field including linguistics of which Sanskrit studies was seen as a part. The following examples highlight the mismatch between their theories and data. Scholars ignored obvious Vedic symbols like: svasti and the om sign found in Harappan archaeology; the clear match between descriptions of flora and fauna in the Vedic literature and their depictions in Harappan iconography; and also clear references to maritime activity and the oceans in the Vedic literature while their theories claimed that the Vedic people who composed the literature were from a land-locked region and totally ignorant of the ocean. Such glaring contradictions between their theories and empirical data could not but undermine the credibility of the whole field.

All this didn’t happen overnight: Harappan archaeology posed challenges to colonial Indological model of ancient India, built around the [[Aryan_Invasion_Theory|Aryan invasion model]] nearly a century ago. But the challenge was ignored because the political authority that supported Western Indologists and their theories did not disappear until 1950, while its academic influence lingered on for several more decades. It is only now, long after the disappearance of colonial rule that academic departments in the West are beginning to feel the heat.

== Colonial Indology ==
Modern Indology may be said to have begun with Sir William Jones, a Calcutta judge in the service of the East India Company. One can almost date the birth of Indology to February 12, 1784, the day on which Jones observed:

The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure; more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of the verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from some common source…

With this superficial, yet influential observation, Jones launched two fields of study in Western academics— philology (comparative linguistics) and Indo-European Studies including Indology. The ‘common source,’ variously called Indo-European, Proto Indo-European, Indo-Germanische and so forth has been the Holy Grail of philologists. The search for the common source has occupied philologists for the greater part of two hundred years, but the goal has remained elusive, more of which later.

Jones was a linguist with scholarly inclinations but his job was to interpret Indian law and customs to his employer— the British East India Company in its task of administering its growing Indian territories. In fact, this was what led to his study of Sanskrit and its classics. This dual role of Indologists as scholars as well as official interpreters of India to the ruling authorities continued well into the twentieth century. Many Indologists, including such highly regarded figures as H.H. Wilson and F. Max Müller enjoyed the support and sponsorship of the ruling powers. It was their means of livelihood and they had to ensure that their masters were kept happy.

Though Jones was the pioneer, the dominant figure of colonial Indology was Max Müller, an impoverished German who found fame and fortune in England. While a scholar of great if undisciplined imagination, his lasting legacy has been the confusion he created by conflating race with language. He created the mythical Aryans that Indologists have been fighting over ever since. Scientists repeatedly denounced it, but Indologists were, and some still are, loathe to let go of it. As far back as 1939, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great biologists of the twentieth century summed up the situation from a scientific point of view:

In 1848 the young German scholar Friedrich Max Müller (1823 – 1900) settled in Oxford where he remained for the rest of his life… About 1853 he introduced into English usage the unlucky term Aryan, as applied to a large group of languages. His use of this Sanskrit word contains in itself two assumptions— one linguistic,… the other geographical. Of these the first is now known to be erroneous and the second now regarded as probably erroneous. [Sic: Now known to be definitely wrong.] Nevertheless, around each of these two assumptions a whole library of literature has arisen.

Moreover, Max Müller threw another apple of discord. He introduced a proposition that is demonstrably false. He spoke not only of a definite Aryan language and its descendants, but also of a corresponding ‘Aryan race’. The idea was rapidly taken up both in Germany and in England…

In England and America the phrase ‘Aryan race’ has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature… In Germany, the idea of the ‘Aryan race’ received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions. (Emphasis added.)

These ‘special conditions’ were the rise of Nazism in Germany and British imperial interests in India. Its perversion in Germany leading eventually to Nazi horrors is well known. The less known fact is how the British turned it into a political and propaganda tool to make Indians accept British rule. A recent BBC report acknowledged as much (October 6, 2005):

It [[Aryan_Invasion_Theory|Aryan invasion model]] gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier.

That is to say, the British presented themselves as ‘new and improved Aryans’ that were in India only to complete the work left undone by their ancestors in the hoary past. This is how the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin put it in the House of Commons in 1929:

Now, after ages, …the two branches of the great Aryan ancestry have again been brought together by Providence… By establishing British rule in India, God said to the British, “I have brought you and the Indians together after a long separation, …it is your duty to raise them to their own level as quickly as possible …brothers as you are…”

Baldwin was only borrowing a page from the Jesuit missionary Robert de Nobili (1577 – 1656) who presented Christianity as a purer form of the Vedic religion to attract Hindu converts. Now, 300 years later, Baldwin and the British were telling Indians: “We are both Aryans but you have fallen from your high state, and we, the British are here to lift you from your fallen condition.” It is surprising that few historians seem to have noticed the obvious similarity.

In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that many of the ‘scholars’ of Indology should have had missionary links. In fact, one Colonel Boden even endowed a Sanskrit professorship at Oxford to facilitate the conversion of the natives to Christianity. (H.H. Wilson was the first Boden Professor followed by Monier Williams. Max Müller who coveted the position never got it. He remained bitter about it to the end of his life.)

It is widely held that Max Müller turned his back on his race theories when he began to insist that Aryan refers to language and never a race. The basis for this belief is the following famous statement he made in 1888.

I have declared again and again that if I say Aryan, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor skull nor hair; I mean simply those who speak the Aryan language. … To me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan blood, Aryan race, Aryan eyes and hair is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar.

What lay behind this extraordinary vehemence from a man noted for his mild language? Was there something behind this echo of the Shakespearean “Methinks the lady doth protest too much”?

Huxley attributes Max Müller’s change of heart to the advice of his scientist friends. This is unlikely. To begin with, the science needed to refute his racial ideas did not exist at the time. Moreover, Max Müller didn’t know enough science to understand it even if it were explained it to him. The reasons for his flip flop, as always with him, were political followed by concern for his position in England, not necessarily in that order.

A closer examination of the record shows that Max Müller made the switch from race to language not in 1888 but in 1871. That incidentally was the year of German unification following Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War. Thereby hangs a tale.1

For more than twenty years, from 1848 to 1871, Max Müller had been a staunch German nationalist arguing for German unification. He was fond of publicity and made no secret of his political leanings in numerous letters and articles in British and European publications. German nationalists of course had embraced the notion of the Aryan nation and looked to scholars like Max Müller to provide intellectual justification. He was more than willing to cooperate.

Things changed almost overnight when Prussia defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War leading to German unification under the Prussian banner. From a fragmented landscape of petty principalities, Germany became the largest and most powerful country in Europe and Britain’s strongest adversary. There was near hysteria in British Indian circles that Sanskrit studies had brought about German unification as the mighty ‘Aryan Nation’. Sir Henry Maine, a member of the Viceroy’s Council went so far as so claim “A nation has been born out of Sanskrit!”

The implication was clear, what happened in Germany could happen also in India, leading to a repeat of 1857 but with possibly a different result. All this was hysteria of the moment, but Max Müller the Aryan Sage, and outspoken German Nationalist faced a more immediate problem: how to save his position at Oxford? He had to shed his political baggage associated with the Aryan race and the Aryan Nation to escape any unfriendly scrutiny by his British patrons.

He could of course have gone along quietly but Max Müller being Max Müller, he had to strike a dramatic pose and display his new avatar as a staunch opponent of Aryan theories. In any event he was too much of a celebrity to escape unnoticed, any more than Michael Witzel or Romila Thapar could in our own time. So, within months of the proclamation of the German Empire (18 January 1871) Friedrich Max Müller marched into a university in Strasburg in German occupied France (Alsace) and dramatically denounced what he claimed were distortions of his old theories. He insisted that they were about languages and race had nothing to do with them.

He may have rejected his errors, but his followers, including many quacks and crackpots kept invoking his name in support of their own ideas. The climate in Oxford turned unfriendly and many former friends began to view him with suspicion. In fact, the situation became so bad that in 1875, he seriously contemplated resigning his position at Oxford and returning to Germany. Though there have been claims that this was because he was upset over the award of an honorary degree to his rival Monier-Williams, the more probable explanation is the discomfort resulting from his German nationalist past in the context of the changed situation following German unification.

The specter of Max Müller looms large over the colonial period of Indology though he is unknown in Germany today and all but forgotten in England. In fact his father Wilhem Müller, a very minor German poet is better known: a few of his poems were set to music by the great composer Franz Schubert. In his own time, Germans despised him for having turned his back on the ‘Aryan race’ to please his British masters. Indians though still revere him though no one today takes his theories seriously. One can get and idea of how he was seen by his contemporaries and immediate successors from the entry in the eleventh edition (1911) of the Encyclopædia Britannica:

Though undoubtedly a great scholar, Max Müller did not so much represent scholarship pure and simple as her hybrid types— the scholar-author and the scholar-courtier. In the former capacity, though manifesting little of the originality of genius, he rendered vast service by popularizing high truths among high minds [and among the highly placed]. …There were drawbacks in both respects: the author was too prone to build on insecure foundations, and the man of the world incurred censure for failings which may perhaps be best indicated by the remark that he seemed too much of a diplomatist.

His contemporaries were less charitable. They charged that Max Müller had an eye “only for crowned heads.” His acquaintances included a large number of princes and potentates—with little claim to scholarship—with a maharaja or two thrown in. He was fortunate that the British monarchy was of German origin (Hanoverian) and Queen Victoria’s husband a German prince (Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). It was these more than fellow scholars that he cultivated. It proved valuable for his career, if not scholarship, for he had little difficulty in getting sponsors for his ambitious projects. He lived and died a rich man, drawing from his rival William Dwight Whitney the following envious if tasteless remark: 2

He has had his reward. No man was before ever so lavishly paid, in money and in fame, even for the most unexceptional performance of such a task. For personal gratitude in addition, there is not the slightest call. If Müller had never put his hand to the Veda, his fellow-students would have had the material they needed perhaps ten years earlier, and Vedic studies would be at the present moment proportionately advanced. …The original honorarium, of about £500 a volume, is well-nigh or quite unprecedented in the history of purely scholarly enterprises; and the grounds on which the final additional gift of £2000 was bestowed have never been made public.

Max Müller’s career illustrates how Indology and Sanskrit studies in the West have always been associated with politics at all levels. He was by no means the only ‘diplomatist’ scholar gracing colonial Indology, only the most successful. It is remarkable that though his contributions are all but forgotten, his political legacy endures. His successors in Europe and America have been reduced to play politics at a much lower level, but in India, his theories have had unexpected fallout in the rise of Dravidian politics. It is entirely proper that while his scholarly works (save for translations) have been consigned to the dustbin of history, his legacy endures in politics. This may prove to be true of Indology as a whole as an academic discipline.

== Post colonial scene ==

The post colonial era may conveniently be dated to 1950. In 1947 India became free and the great Aryan ‘Thousand Year Reich’ lay in ashes. In Europe at least the word Aryan came to acquire an infamy comparable to the word Jihadi today. Europeans, Germans in particular, were anxious to dissociate themselves from it. But there remained a residue of pre-war Indology (and associated race theories) that in various guises succeeded in establishing itself in academic centers mainly in the United States. Its most visible spokesman in recent times has been one Michael Witzel, a German expatriate like Max Müller, teaching in the Sanskrit Department at Harvard University in the United States. In an extraordinary replay of Max Müller’s political flip-flops Witzel too is better known for his political and propaganda activities than any scholarly contributions. Witzel’s recent campaigns, from attempts to introduce Aryan theories in California schools to his ill-fated tour of India where his scholarly deficiencies were exposed in public highlight the dependence of Indology on politics.

While the field of Indo-European Studies has been struggling to survive on the fringes of academia, lately it has become the subject critical analysis by scholars in Europe and America. Unlike Indians who treat the field and its practitioners with a degree of respect, European scholars have not hesitated to call a spade a spade, treating it as a case of pathological scholarship with racist links to Nazi ideology. This may be attributed to the fact that Europeans have seen and experienced its horrors while Indians have only read about it.

In a remarkable article, “Aryan Mythology As Science And Ideology” (Journal of the American Academy of Religion1999; 67: 327-354) the Swedish scholar Stefan Arvidsson raises the question: “Today it is disputed whether or not the downfall of the Third Reich brought about a sobering among scholars working with ‘Aryan’ religions.” We may rephrase the question: “Did the end of the Nazi regime put an end to race based theories in academia?”

An examination of several humanities departments in the West suggests otherwise: following the end of Nazism, academic racism may have undergone a mutation but did not entirely disappear. Ideas central to the Aryan myth resurfaced in various guises under labels like Indology and Indo-European Studies. This is clear from recent political, social and academic episodes in places as far apart as Harvard University and the California State Board of Education. But there was an interregnum of sorts before Aryan theories again raised their heads in West.

Two decades after the end of the Nazi regime, racism underwent another mutation as a result of the American Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement, Americans were made to feel guilty about their racist past and the indefensible treatment of African Americans. U.S. academia also changed accordingly and any discourse based on racial stereotyping became taboo. Soon this taboo came to be extended to Native Americans, Eskimos and other ethnic groups.

In this climate of seeming liberal enlightenment, one race theory continued to flourish as if nothing had changed. Theories based on the Aryan myth that formed the core of Nazi ideology continued in various guises, as previously noted, in Indology and Indo-European Studies. Though given a linguistic and sometimes a cultural veneer, these racially sourced ideas continue to enjoy academic respectability in such prestigious centers as Harvard and Chicago.

Being a European transplant, its historical trajectory was different from the one followed by American racism. Further, unlike the Civil Rights Movement, which had mass support, academic racism remained largely confined to academia. This allowed it to escape public scrutiny for several decades until it clashed with the growing Hindu presence in the United States. Indians, Hindus in particular saw Western Indology and Indo-European Studies as a perversion of their history and religion and a thinly disguised attempt to prejudice the American public, especially the youth, against India and Hinduism to serve their academic interests.

The fact that Americans of Indian origin are among the most educated group ensured that their objections could not be brushed away by ‘haughty dismissals’ as the late historian of science Abraham Seidenberg put it. Nonetheless, scholars tried to use academic prestige as a bludgeon in forestalling debate, by denouncing their adversaries as ignorant chauvinists and bigots unworthy of debate. But increasingly, hard evidence from archaeology, natural history and genetics made it impossible to ignore the objections of their opponents, many of whom (like this writer) were scientists. But in November 2005, there came a dramatic denouement, in, of all places, California schools. Academics suddenly found it necessary to leave their ivory towers and fight it out in the open, in full media glare— and under court scrutiny.

It is unnecessary to go into the details of the now discredited campaign by Michael Witzel and his associates trying to stop the removal of references to the Aryans and their invasion from California school books. What is remarkable is that a senior tenured professor at Harvard of German origin should concern himself with how Hinduism is taught to children in California. Witzel is a linguist, but he presumed to tell California schools how Hinduism should be taught to children. It turned out that Hinduism was only a cover, and his concern was saving the Aryan myth from being erased from books.

Ever since he moved to Harvard from Germany, Witzel has seen the fortunes of his department and his field, gradually sink into irrelevance. Problems at Harvard are part of a wider problem in Western academia in the field of Indo-European Studies. As previously noted, several ‘Indology’ departments—as they are sometimes called—are shutting down across Europe. One of the oldest and most prestigious, at Cambridge University in England, has just closed down. This was followed by the closure of the equally prestigious Berlin Institute of Indology founded way back in 1821. Positions like the one Witzel holds (Wales Professor of Sanskrit) were created during the colonial era to serve as interpreters of India. They have lost their relevance and are disappearing from academia. This was the real story, not teaching Hinduism to California children.

Witzel’s California misadventure appears to have been an attempt to somehow save his pet Aryan theories from oblivion by making it part of Indian history and civilization in the school curriculum. Otherwise, it is hard to see why a senior, tenured professor at Harvard should go to all this trouble, lobbying California school officials to have its Grade VI curriculum changed to reflect his views.

To follow this it is necessary to go beyond personalities and understand the importance of the Aryan myth to Indo-European Studies. The Aryan myth is a European creation. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. The campaign against Hinduism was a red herring to divert attention from the real agenda, which was and remains saving the Aryan myth. Collapse of the Aryan myth means the collapse of Indo-European studies. This is what Witzel and his colleagues are trying to avert. For them it is an existential struggle.

Americans and even Indians for the most part are unaware of the enormous influence of the Aryan myth on European history and imagination. Central to Indo-European Studies is the belief—it is no more than a belief—that Indian civilization was created by an invading race of ‘Aryans’ from an original homeland somewhere in Eurasia or Europe. This is the [[Aryan_Invasion_Theory|Aryan invasion model]] dear to Witzel and his European colleagues, and essential for their survival. According to this theory there was no civilization in India before the Aryan invaders brought it— a view increasingly in conflict with hard evidence from archaeology and natural history.

In this academic and political conundrum it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the Aryan myth is a modern European creation. It has little to do with ancient India. The word Arya appears for the first time in the Rig Veda, India’s oldest text. Its meaning is obscure but it seems to refer to members of a settled agricultural community. It later became an honorific and a form of address, something like ‘Gentleman’ in English or ‘Monsieur’ in French. Also, it was nowhere as important in India as it came to be in Europe. In the whole the Rig Veda, in all of its ten books, the word Arya appears only about forty times. In contrast, Hitler’s Mein Kampf uses the term Arya and Aryan many times more. Hitler did not invent it. The idea of Aryans as a superior race was already in the air— in Europe, not India.3

It is interesting to contrast Witzel’s political campaigns against Max Müller’s. Where Max Müller hobnobbed with Indian and European aristocracy including princes and Maharajas, Witzel has had to content himself waiting on California schoolteachers and bureaucrats. These were his masters who held the keys to his career and reputation. It may be no more than a reflection of changed circumstances and the loss of power and prestige of the aristocracy but the contrasts are nonetheless striking.

No less striking is the contrast between their legacy and reputation. While we may look at Max Müller’s foibles and failures with amused tolerance and appreciate his monumental work in compiling the fifty-volume Sacred Books of the East, Witzel’s name is unlikely to command any respect much less affection. In addition to his support for the Aryan theories and the California campaign, Witzel is known for his association with the notorious Indo-Eurasian Research (IER), which has been accused of a hate campaign against the Hindus.

An article that appeared the New Delhi daily The Pioneer (December 25, 2005) began: “Boorish comments denigrating India, Hindus and Hinduism by a self-proclaimed ‘Indologist’ who is on the faculty of Harvard University has unleashed a fierce debate over the increasing political activism of ’scholars’ who teach at this prestigious American university. Prof Michael Witzel, Wales professor of Sanskrit at Harvard, is in the centre of the storm because he tried to prevent the removal of references to India, Hinduism and Sikhism in the curriculum followed by schools in California which parents of Indian origin found to be inadequate, inaccurate or just outright insensitive.”

The author of The Pioneer article (Kanchan Gupta) went on to observe: “Witzel declared Hindu-Americans to be “lost” or “abandoned”, parroting anti-Semite slurs against Jewish people. Coincidence or symptom? Witzel’s fantasies are ominously reminiscent of WWII German genocide. He says that ‘Since they won’t be returning to India, [Hindu immigrants to the USA] have begun building crematoria as well. … Witzel demeans the daughters of Indian-American parents, who take the trouble to learn their heritage through traditional art forms. In the worst of racist slander, Witzel claims that Indian classical music and dance reflect low moral standards.”

One cannot imagine any publication today, let alone in India, write in this vein about Max Müller, whatever one may feel about his politics and scholarship. Nor can one imagine Max Müller write in the style of Witzel about India or anyone else.

It must be recorded that Max Müller was emphatically not a racist. He was also a man of exemplary humility in dealing with fellow scholars. In a letter to the Nepalese scholar and Sanskrit poet Pandit Chavilal (undated but written probably just before 1900) Max Müller wrote:

I am surprised at your familiarity with Sanskrit. We [Europeans] have to read but never to write Sanskrit. To you it seems as easy as English or Latin to us… We can admire all the more because we cannot rival, and I certainly was filled with admiration when I read but a few pages of your Sundara Charita.

This reflects great credit on Max Müller as a scholar. One has to wonder if his present day counterparts are capable of such exemplary humility. Certainly none was in evidence during Michael Witzel’s recent disastrous lecture tour of India where he was severely embarrassed by schoolchildren and scholars alike, where he was shown to be completely at sea with basic rules of Sanskrit grammar. More than a hundred years ago, Max Müller declined invitations to visit India probably because he sensed that a similar fate awaited him. He chose discretion over bravado.

The decline from Max Müller to Witzel serves as a metaphor for the decline of Indology itself in our time.

== State of Sanskrit studies in the West ==

In recent months there have been cries of ‘Sanskrit in danger of disappearing’ from Sanskrit professors and other Indologists in Western academia. This is certainly true in their own case, but their next claim that they need more funding (what else?) to reverse the decline must be taken with a large grain of salt. Sanskrit existed and flourished for thousands of years before Indology and Indologists came into existence, and will no doubt continue to exist without them. If Sanskrit ever faces extinction, it will be for reasons of social and political developments in India and not due to lack of funds for Indologists in the West. They can no more save Sanskrit than Indian scholars can save classical Greek.

We may now take a moment to assess the contribution of Western Sanskritists from an Indian perspective. For those who believe that Western scholarship has made a major contribution to Sanskrit, such people are not limited to the West, here is an objective measure to consider: Indians began studying English (and other European languages) about the same time that Europeans began their study of Sanskrit. Many Indians have attained distinction as writers in English. But there is not a single piece in Sanskrit—not even a shloka (verse)—by a Western Sanskritist that has found a place in any anthology. This was acknowledged by no less an authority than Max Müller in passage quoted at the end of the previous section.

These are not the people who can ‘save’ Sanskrit, even if it needs to be saved. Sanskrit is India’s responsibility just as Greek and Latin are Europe’s. Let them study Sanskrit just as Indians should study Greek, but it is too much to expect a few sanctuaries in the West protect and nurture a great and ancient tradition when they are having a hard time saving themselves.

The principal contribution of the West has been in bringing out editions of ancient works like the Rigveda and translations like Max Müller’s monumental fifty volume Sacred Books of the East. These too have their limitations.

== Summary and conclusions ==

We may now conclude that that Western Indology is in steep decline and may well become extinct in a generation. The questions though go beyond Indology. Sanskrit is the foundation of Indo-European Studies. If Sanskrit departments close, what will take their place? Will these departments now teach Icelandic, Old Norse or reconstructed Proto Indo-European? Will they attract students? Can Indo-European Studies survive without Sanskrit? A more sensible course would be for Indian and Western scholars to collaborate and build an empirically based study of ancient Indian and European languages— free of dogma and free of politics.

A basic problem is that for reasons that have little to do with objective scholarship, Indologists have been trying to remove Sanskrit from the special space it occupies in the study of Indo-European languages and replace it something called Proto-Indo-European of PIE. This is like replacing Hebrew with a hypothetical Proto-Semitic language in Biblical Studies. This PIE has literally proven to be a pie in the sky and the whole field is now on the verge of collapse. The resulting vacuum has to be filled by a scholarship that is both sound and empirical, based on existing languages like Sanskrit, Greek and the like. Additionally, Indian scholars will have look more to the east and search for linguistic and other links to the countries and cultures of Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and others that have historic ties to India of untold antiquity.

== References ==
[1]This is explained in more detail in this writer’s The Politics of History and also in Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization, Third Edition, by Navaratna Rajaram and David Frawley, both published by Voice of India, New Delhi. Some recent developments may be found in Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization by N.S. Rajaram, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi. For the record the full name of Max Müller was Friedrich Maximillian Müller, but he is better known as Max Müller, the name used also by his descendants.

[2]Max Müller’s aristocratic Indian friends included the Raja of Venkatagiri (who partly financed his edition of the Rigveda) as well as Dwarakanath Tagore, the grandfather of the Nobel laureate Rabindranath. When Max Müller was a struggling scholar in Paris, Tagore helped him with Sanskrit as well as financially. He knew also British and European nobility having met Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. In his early years his patrons included Dwarakanath Tagore and Baron Bunsen, the Prussian Ambassador to Britain. It is a tribute to Max Müller’s personality and liberal character that he could attract the friendship of such a wide range of people.

[3] It should be noted that the Nazis appropriated their ideas and symbols from European mythology, not India. Hitler’s Aryans worshipped Apollo and Odin, not Vedic deities like Indra and Varuna. His Swastika was also the European ‘Hakenkreuz’ or hooked cross and not the Indian svasti symbol. It was seen in Germany for the first time when General von Luttwitz’s notorious Erhardt Brigade marched into Berlin from Lithuania in support of the abortive Kapp Putsch of 1920. The Erhardt Brigade was one of several freebooting private armies during the years following Germany’s defeat in World War I. They had the covert support of the Wehrmacht (Army headquarters).

[4]

by [[wikipedia:N._S._Rajaram|N.S.Rajaram]]

Here Money is free, Honey!

==Introduction==
Money is something most of us crave for, work hard for, and use in our day to day lives. It will be an interesting, as well as revealing exercise to actually understand where the money actually comes from.

Imagine a money lender who lends out Rs. 1000 to a borrower (by issuing a cheque) and  charges interest on the amount, while in reality he has only Rs. 100 in his account. He  would be charged with fraud and arrested.

Now for the shocking part – Our modern banking system does pretty much the same as the moneylender we were just talking about, at a much larger scale and gets away with it, because our legal and constitutional framework allows it to do so !! Read on to find out more!

The history of money and banking are interlinked. Hence, it will be helpful and interesting to delve a bit into how our banking system (as we see today) actually evolved.

==Evolution of the Banking System==
The modern banking system has its roots from the early ages when gold was the chief form of currency. Those who owned gold, for fear of being robbed, deposited this gold in the strong-rooms of the goldsmiths, who gave gold owners receipts (promissory notes) for the gold they kept for them in their vaults. So, instead of paying in gold when they purchased goods, these individuals paid with the promissory notes they had received from the goldsmiths, which proved that they had gold in the goldsmiths’ vaults. The one who was paid with these notes was thus becoming the new owner of the gold kept in the goldsmith’s vault, and was free to go and withdraw this gold at any time from the goldsmith. This system was most prominent in England in the 17th century and spread to other countries eventually.

The goldsmiths noticed that most of the people preferred to exchange the promissory notes instead of going to the goldsmiths and withdraw their gold. For example, for one person who actually came to the goldsmiths and ask for his gold, ten people did not come, preferring to exchange the receipts issued by the goldsmith. Simultaneously, many people approached the goldsmiths for loans. Then the goldsmiths hit upon an idea whereby they could issue promissory notes to the borrowers, instead of actual gold coins, as the paper receipts had already become an accepted form of currency. The goldsmiths soon realized that they could thus issue, without risk, ten times more promissory notes than they had actual gold in their vault, as very few depositors actually turned up to claim their gold. This would enable the goldsmiths to loan out 10 times more money (in the form of receipts) than the actual gold they actually possessed, charge interest on the same and make huge profits. As long as the same ratio of people did not show up at their place and ask for their gold, the goldsmiths could go on with their confidence trick, and pretend to have 10 times more gold than they actually had.
This fraudulent scheme continued because of the ‘confidence’ people had on the goldsmiths, and eventually evolved into a more sophisticated ‘Banking system’, where the bankers played the role of goldsmiths and ‘paper currency’ played the role of the promissory notes, and the bankers started lending more money (loans) than they actually had to people and corporates. The bankers/goldsmiths fully exploited the fact that people were preferring to use paper receipts/currency (for convenience) than actual gold. Eventually people figured out the nature of the fraud, and they all started withdrawing their cash/gold, which caused the system to collapse (technically called a ‘Bank run’). However, the greedy bankers wanted to continue their game, hence they tied up with governments (read ‘Corrupt Politicians’) to enable them to continue with their fraud while the government set up ‘Central Banks’ or ‘Reserve Banks’ (such as the Bank of England, the Swedish Riksbank and the US Federal Reserve) to rescue the individual banks in cases of a Bank Run. This system gradually extended to other countries, especially the ones which the British ruled. India had its first Banks in 19th Century when 3 presidency banks were established under the British rule.

Today’s banks operate exactly the same way as described above, because they observed that for one person who came to the bank and wanted to be paid in cash (paper money), about many more people only transfer figures from one account to another one, without using any cash. (Today, all huge monetary transactions are done by cheque or electronic transfer and only small payments are done by cash). This is what allows the banks to lend more money than they actually have. The only restraint to this creation of money is the fear that too many people show up to the bank and ask to be paid in cash, since the bank could only repay in cash to one consumer out of a few. One of the ways for the banks to protect themselves against such a possibility is to encourage depositors to leave their money at the bank as long as possible, by paying higher interest in fixed deposits, which are tied up with a bank for a few years. Besides, Banks and Governments also emphasize on using cheques, demand drafts and electronic transfers for all large transactions, where it is inconvenient to use cash, anyway. Many banks also dole out gifts and rewards to their customers who use debit or credit cards instead of cash for their purchases! Thus, the banks came out with many ideas that discourage people from withdrawing large amounts of cash.

==Fractional Reserve Banking==
To enable banks to carry on with this above mentioned scheme of loaning much more than they have, a practice called “Fractional Reserve Banking” was introduced. This practice allowed banks to keep only a fraction of their deposits in reserve (as cash and other highly liquid assets) and lend out the remainder, while maintaining the simultaneous obligation to redeem all these deposits upon demand.

The catch here, is that when the initial deposit money is loaned out by the bank to a borrower, and deposited into the account of the borrower, the amount in the borrower’s account is again treated as “Fresh Deposit”, which allows the bank to give out more loans based on this ‘Fresh Deposit’, which itself was a loan in the first place! Each such loan given out again gets treated as ‘Fresh Deposit’ against which even more loans can be given out! Thus, the banks can loan out many more times the money they actually have in their reserves. This means, banks are practically creating money out of nothing (‘thin air’) and giving them out as loans to corporates (business loans) and individuals (home loans, car loans etc). As we know that most corporates take huge loans and use them for business expansion as well as meeting their expenses (such as employee salaries), this means that most of the money currently being circulated in most economies is actually ‘debt’ disguised as ‘real money’!!

The lie is that the figures on the computer screen represent the value of gold and/or silver. This is not true anymore, as most of the world’s currencies have been taken off the gold and silver standards decades ago. The last currency that was supposed to be backed by gold (i.e. the US Dollar) was officially taken off the gold standard in 1971 when the then US President Nixon refused to pay gold to countries in exchange for US Dollars, as the US had already printed far more dollars than the gold they actually claimed to possess. If the money created by the banks really represented gold or silver, the banks would legally be bound to pay all of us in gold or silver coins in exchange for our notes, anytime we chose to opt for such an exchange!

All this means that when a person or company applies for a loan, the bank does not loan out the amount from actually existing deposits. The bank clerk just types some digits into the computer screen against our account (or makes an entry into the account books) and the loan is “set up” out of nowhere. From that moment, we are legally bound to repay the ‘amount’ (with interest) that never existed, failing which the bank would take away our possessions or take legal action until we repaid back the ‘non-existing’ amount!!

The total amount of money that infiltrates into the economy is calculated by the following mathematical equation:-
D + (D* (1- F/100)^1) + (D* (1- F/100)^2) + (D* (1- F/100)^3) + ………… + D* (1-F/100)^N
Where D is the initial deposit into the bank, F is the fractional reserve requirement in terms of percentage,  and N can go upto as high as 70. We see that apart from the first term in the equation (D), the other terms have been created out of “thin air” by the fractional reserve banking mechanism!

This loaning out of money beyond the bank’s existing reserves expands the total money supply in the economy. For instance, for the third quarter of 1995, the Canadian chartered banks held $3.1 billion in cash, and lent, for the same period, $216 billion (non-mortgage loans) – seventy times the amount of cash they actually held! In the US, as on 2009, the base money supply (Actual physical Currency + central bank currency) was approximately 0.9 Trillion USD, whereas the actual money under circulation, including the debts/loans given out to the commercial sector and retail sector was more than $11 trillion USD! In India, the total base money (reserve money) as on 2007 was Rs. 5,00,000 crores, whereas the total money under circulation, including loans to commercial sector was 3,000,000 crores.

==Consequences of Fractional Reserve Banking==

===Concentration of Power===

This empowerment of Bankers to create money out of ‘nowhere’ and loan them out allows them to gain control over corporates, people, and the economy as a whole. This is especially true in western countries such as US and Europe where central banks are operated from behind the scenes by private bankers which authorizes them to print money and lend them to the governments. This means, that the bankers control the state as long as they can keep the government under debt! This also allows them to control the economy by creating economic booms or recessions (by increasing or reducing the money supply). The Bankers of course work ‘hand in glove’ with the corrupt politicians who are ready to sell off their countries in return for tremendous selfish gains, and hence enact laws that allow bankers to run the show. A classic example of this is the ‘Federal Reserve Act’ that was enacted in 1913 in the US, giving the private bankers power to control the nation’s money supply via the “Federal Reserve”. Therefore, the REAL power in such cases is with the multinational bankers, and not the governments or the people! Institutions such as the World Bank and IMF are operated from behind the scenes by these powerful bankers, who control the foreign policies and economies of countries which borrow funds from them.

===Inflation===

As banks keep increasing the money supply as described above, this leads to inflation’ and currency devaluation, with too much money chasing fewer goods, commodities and services. This phenomenon of inflation gradually eats away into the purchasing power of our money, and we observe that the cost of living is always increasing. However, the salary hikes, in most cases, find it hard to keep pace with this inflation (unless we are employed in a niche sector such as IT or Finance) because companies that pay our salaries try to keep as much profit as possible for themselves and view employees as overheads instead of assets.
As a result of these banking practices, today’s paper currencies have no inherent value in them, as it is no more supported by precious commodities such as Gold or Oil. In fact, as we have seen earlier, most of the so called ‘money’ in circulation is infact merely ‘debt’ disguised as real money.

===Increasing Gap between rich and poor===
An important point that we need to understand is that the actual purchasing power we possess depends on the ‘percentage’ of the total money in circulation that we possess, and not the actual ‘quantity’ of money we possess. When the banks create money out of nowhere and more money is introduced into circulation, our purchasing power gets reduced. This phenomenon, however, hits the poor people much harder. When a bank increases the money supply by giving loans, they usually loan the money out based on the repaying capacity of the recipient. They loan the newly created money (as explained earlier) mostly to rich corporates (for business expansion) and to some extent to the middle class (home loans, car loans, etc). These fresh loans tremendously increase the purchasing power of the rich people (who run the corporates) as now the rich people have a much larger percentage of money under circulation. This marginally reduces the percentage of money that the middle class now possess (inspite of the small loans given to them) and drastically reduces the percentage of money (and hence the purchasing power) that the poor possess. With each cycle of fresh loans, this disparity keeps increasing.

It is akin to a pumping mechanism which constantly drains out wealth from the lower rungs to the upper rungs of the money chain. It is clear that the banks of our world are not here to distribute wealth. They are there to increase differences and to concentrate all the money/wealth/resources into the hands of a very few on the top of the money chain.

==How do the bankers and Politicians get away with this?==
The main reason for this is ignorance of the general public. A few that do know, do not want to upset the applecart. The fields of economics and finance have been deliberately made complex, filled with too many jargons, so that common people would not be able to make out what is going on behind the scenes. The mainstream media, which is anyway owned mostly by powerful politicians and corporates, chooses to ‘conveniently’ remain silent on the issue.

These modern banking practices are supported by governments, media and corporates under the garb of ‘rapid economic development’, ‘industrialization’ and ’employment generation’. Hence, even finance experts who are aware of these modern banking practices fail to understand the long term implications of these practices on the people and economy, as they are swayed by the short term benefits.
==Quotes from famous personalities on Modern Banking Practices==
“It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
– Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company.

“The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleight of hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in inequity and born in sin. Bankers own the earth. Take it [earth] away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of a pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take away from them the power to create money and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money.”
– Sir Josiah Stamp, former director of Bank of England.

“Give me control of a nation’s money supply and I care not who makes it’s laws.”
– Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founder of Rothschild Banking dynasty in 18th Century.

“I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
– Thomas Jefferson, former US President

“I am afraid that the ordinary citizen will not like to be told that banks can and do create money…And they who control the credit of the nation direct the policy of Governments and hold in the hollow of their hands the destiny of the people.”
– Reginald McKenna, former Chairman of the Board, Midlands Bank of England.

“We are completely dependent on the commercial Banks. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash or credit. If the Banks create ample synthetic money we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent money system. When one gets a complete grasp of the picture, the tragic absurdity of our hopeless position is almost incredible, but there it is. It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon.”
– Robert H. Hemphill, Former Credit Manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

==The Vedic Observer: Vedic Solutions==
The Vedic times were characterized by more stable economies with a robust monetary system that had very little scope of money laundering. Some of the salient features of the Vedic economic and monetary system were as follows:-

===Resource based Economy: Stable and Tangible Assets for People===

The Vedic economy was more “resource based”, as opposed to the modern economy, which is “money based”. This means people leveraged on replenishable natural resources to produce their needs. In the Vedic times, Agricultural Land and Cows were considered to be major assets, based on which a person’s wealth was measured, as opposed to the modern days where money (in the form of paper currency) is considered as a sign of wealth. With Agricultural land, people produced enough food to sustain themselves as well as sell off the excess produce to maintain a comfortable standard of living. Cows would produce nutritious milk as well as many by products that served as medicines as well as manure. All other needs were met using a “cottage industry” model where items were produced locally from raw materials procured from nearby forests and fields. Each town was mostly self sufficient. In this resource based economy, there is practically no need for anyone to artificially manipulate the monetary system in order to make gains.

===Bartering Model===

This resource based economy easily lends itself into a trading system called “Bartering”, where goods produced were exchanged for other goods. For example, a rice farmer could exchange his excess rice produce (barter) in return for some clothes produced by a cloth weaver. This system, while ensuring that the needs of everyone was met, also reduced the dependency on money/currencies that are subject to manipulation. All trades done under the bartering model ensured that parties on both sides received some commodity of value, unlike today’s paper currencies which do not possess intrinsic value.

===Bullion Currency Model (Gold)===

Gold was used as a currency medium in Vedic times. This system is less prone to manipulation compared to the modern paper currency system, where it is easy to print currency and devalue the same. The control of the monetary system was the responsibility of the Kings who held gold reserves in the kingdom’s treasury. Modern day Vedic Scholars such as Srila Prabhupada have also insisted that gold is real money whereas “paper money” is bad money and is subject to misuse.

===Limited Debt based on actual currency reserves===

This is technically called Full Reserve Banking, which is sadly not being practiced anymore. In the Vedic times, the emphasis was for people to live within their means, and take loans only in case of emergency. These loans were given out in form of actual gold, unlike in modern banking, where virtual money is created out of nothing.

===Varnashrama System – Less Corruption prone===

If we examine the problems above, one major cause has been greed and corruption. According to the Varnashrama system, the Kings were elected by the brahmanas (priestly class) who were well versed in scriptures and selflessly offered themselves to the service of the society without any expectation of remuneration. Thus, they practiced self restraint and were less prone to corruption. This ensured that they would train and elect Kings who were similarly dedicated to the welfare of their citizens. Such rulers would be less inclined to manipulate the monetary system or exploit the people for selfish motives, quite unlike modern politicians who have betrayed their citizens for personal gains.

===Recognizing and Understanding the Supreme Proprietor===

The root cause of the above problems has been a failure to recognize the Proprietorship of the Supreme Lord and claims to false proprietorship over everything we survey. These groups of multinational bankers and business tycoons are greedy for accumulating as much wealth as they can, at the cost of others. However, their agenda doesn’t stop there. There is emerging evidence that they are working on a secret plan to take over control of the entire world’s economies and enslave the masses, with full co-operation from the governments, corporates and media. The Vedic scriptures describe such persons as “demons” who try to claim false proprietorship and control over the world which rightfully belongs to the Supreme Lord. It is this demoniac tendency that causes much of the problems around. The Varnashrama system ensures that the rulers understand the Proprietorship of the Lord and do not get into the wrong attitude. Hence, they would consider themselves as mere caretakers (on behalf of the Lord) of the kingdoms they ruled, and served as guardians of the people who are trusted into their care, instead of exploiting them.

A combination of the solutions mentioned above is the key to a world free of exploitation.
Just as in the corporate world, we work for the satisfaction of the proprietor of the company who in turn takes care of our needs, saints have advocated that we work for the satisfaction of the proprietor of the world (The Supreme Lord) who in turn provides us (via nature) with our needs. Hence, performing one’s duties in the right spirit, as an offering to please the Supreme Proprietor (the Lord) is the key to happiness for everyone.

==References==

[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Modern_Money_Mechanics.pdf “Modern Money Mechanics” by Public Information Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago]
[http://mises.org/books/mysteryofbanking.pdf “The Mystery of Banking” by Murray N. Rothbard, Mises Institute, Alabama]
[http://129.3.20.41/eps/mac/papers/0203/0203005.pdf “Fractional Reserve Banking as Economic Parasitism” by Z. Nuri]
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional-reserve_banking Fractional Reserve Banking]
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money_supply Money Supply]

Written by [[Authors#vivek_d|Vivek Devarajan]]

Simplicity for a Better Tomorrow


=Simplicity for a better Tomorrow=

==Introduction==
  Think of some rich and famous personality, and mostly you end up hearing about the posh bungalows they live in, the swanky cars in which they drive about, a battery of security staff surrounding them, the expensive branded stuff that they wear or posses etc. The list goes on and on. However, have you heard of some personalities who are refreshing exceptions to this rule, who inspite of all their wealth or fame, are simple at heart and prefer to lead a simple lifestyle ? Read on, to find out more !

==Lifestyles of the Rich, Famous and Simple==

Warren Buffet is best known as the most successful businessman who recently toppled Bill gates to claim the crown as the world’s richest person, and his net worth is estimated to be to the tune of $40 billion. Yet in terms of lifestyle, he is frugal and simple ! For instance, he still lives in the same small 3 bedroom house in mid-town Omaha that he bought after he got married 50 years ago. He says that he has everything he needs in that house. He dresses up in normal clothes instead of big brand names. He drives his own car everywhere and does not have a driver or security people around him. He says, in an interview with students from a Business School “I just naturally want to do things that make sense. In my personal life too, I don’t care what other rich people are doing. I don’t want a 405 foot boat just because someone else has a 400 foot boat.”

Narayana Murthy, who is one of the founders of “Infosys”, a giant corporate in the IT space, leads a simple lifestyle that quite contradicts his position in the corporate world! He still lives in the same two bedroom, sparsely furnished house that he used to live in before Infosys became a success. His family does their house keeping by themselves, and do not have servants!

Many other famous personalities such as Dr. Abdul Kalam (former President of India) and Gandhi (Former freedom fighter) are known for their simplicity as well as their strength of character and selfless mindset.

It is refreshing to hear of the unwillingness of such personalities to make a scene of being rich or famous.  Its easy not to flash our cash when we have none, but it takes focus and a strong purpose to practise self restraint in spite of being rich.

The refusal of such personalities to pursue an “I get what I want” existence – the hallmark of modern society – is refreshing to hear. At a time when crass greed masquerades as simple ambition and frugal habits are frowned upon, such reticence has few parallels.

==Pitfalls of Over Indulgence in Luxuries==
Leading a high end, luxury filled life has its own set of pitfalls. People end up having the overhead of maintaining and protecting all the luxury assets (such as posh bungalows, high end cars, etc) that get accumulated over a period of time, and are often caught in the wrong foot once bad times (such as recession) set in. We then end up restricting our scope for happiness as we measure our self worth based on unnecessary possessions that clutter our houses as well as our minds. We then make ourselves vulnerable to a host of negative emotions such as greed and then anger, frustration and depression when we don’t get what we want, not to mention the envy when we are compared with others in our social circle.  A deep sense of insecurity crops up, with changing market conditions, twisting political fortunes and crashing stock markets. These fears provoke men to abandon all moral scruples and time honored spiritual values, creating a dog-eat-dog world. Recent examples such as the bickering within the Ambani Family and the Satyam scam speak volumes about the sorry state of affairs.

Many people who have indulged in a luxurious lifestyle have typically fallen into the trap of compulsive buying, instant gratification and uncontrolled greed for wealth and power. Some of them, such as Vijay Mallya (the promoter of Kingfisher group) have got themselves neck deep into debt. Vijay Mallya is well known for fuelling his flamboyant lifestyle by dipping into the revenues of his company which is now faced with an outstanding debt of more than Rs. 6000 crore, and is now almost at the point of selling off his company !

There are extreme cases like that of Saddam Hussein and Hitler whose extreme greed for wealth and power led them to wage unnecessary wars and ultimately invited their own destruction. There are also cases like that of Ramalinga Raju (founder of Satyam Computers) whose greed for wealth pushed him into corporate frauds and landed him into prison.  Besides, there are many well employed professionals who indulged in luxurious lifestyles, and over leveraged themselves financially (in terms of huge loans on car and property, and credit card usage) and were caught unawares when recession took away their jobs or cut into their salaries. Such are the results of succumbing to the cravings of the mind, which the simplistic lifestyle people (such as Warren Buffet) are spared from!

==The restless nature of the mind==
We may fulfill our desires, but our mind remains dissatisfied. Mr. Buffet and other rare persons of his ilk are fortunate to be spared the screaming wants of the mind. The human mind is fickle and, if let loose, knows no peace. As we unleash our passion to acquire the various pleasures, the mind points out the unattained delights. And the more elusive they are, the greater the passion to possess them. The enjoyment of all such things follows the law of diminishing marginal returns: Each successive pleasure derived from an object or person reduces our taste for that pleasure. A drastic gap occurs between the expectation of pleasure and the enjoyment experienced. To fill the gap, the mind desperately urges us to spend more, buy more, and go wild. In the ensuing race for happiness, the mind’s demands remain eternally unfulfilled. It is like scratching an itch: The momentary relief is accompanied by a greater itch, and the more you scratch, the more you itch. Repeated scratching causes only pain and bleeding. The mind’s nature is to either like or dislike (accept or reject) whatever we survey around us. This ensures that we are constantly oscillating between happiness and distress.

==Lifestyle Alternatives for a peaceful mind==
“He who is content is rich”, said the wise Lao Tzu. Voluntary simplicity essentially helps us think clearly and results in a deliberate organization of life for a purpose, while getting rid of the unnecessary clutter, externally as well as internally. A simple lifestyle spares us of a lot of anxieties as there are lesser assets to maintain and safeguard. It allows us an opportunity to enjoy and be grateful for what we already possess, and to take a break and ponder over the higher purpose of our existence and fill our minds with positive emotions.
Love is a powerful, positive emotion. When we lead a life centered around prayer, love and service to God and humanity, we are filled with serenity. The petty wrangling of the restless mind to “get what I want, when I want” is replaced by a desire to improve the quality of our offerings and service to God and other fellow beings.
There have been cases of many people who have successfully led such a peaceful and serene life, and even managed to kick of addictive habits such as drugs, alcohol and illicit sex.

 

==The Vedic Observer==
The Vedic Scriptures extol the value of not artificially increasing one’s wants.

īśāvāsyam idam sarvam
yat kiñca jagatyām jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā
mā grdhah kasya svid dhanam

“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 1).

When we recognize the proprietorship of the Supreme Lord and contribute our little worth towards ensuring that the needs of all are taken care of, we lead a life of responsibility, peace and renunciation as, in the process, we renounce the deep rooted conception that we are the ultimate enjoyers and proprietors.

If we find a wallet filled with loads of money, we have three choices: The first is to keep it for ourselves, the second is to leave it as it is (understanding that we are not the owner of the wallet), and the third is to find the rightful proprietor of the wallet and return it to him.

The second choice is similar to an intelligent philosopher who renounces worldly enjoyments, but the third choice (and the ideal choice) takes renunciation a step further and symbolizes a person who recognizes the rightful proprietorship of the Supreme Lord and uses everything in his service, which subsequently also benefits mankind. An example is that of many volunteers who distributed sanctified and spiritualized food (food offered to God as an expression of love and gratitude) to the victims of natural calamities such as the earth quake in Gujarat and the tsunami in southern India and Sri Lanka.

Thus, the great personalities mentioned above could take his renunciation a step higher and set a wonderful example for the world to learn from and emulate!

Authored by [[Author#vivek_d|Vivek Devarajan]]

Reasons behind Spiralling Crime Rates


=Introduction=

Open any news paper or tune in to a News Channel, and you can be pretty sure to stumble upon crimes of all sorts, ranging from petty thefts to dacoity, murder, terrorism, sexual crimes and the like.

The Statistics show that the miscreants have been quite focused and determined at their “jobs”. In India, for instance, as per the National Crime Records Bureau, incidences of crime since the early days of independence has gone up by more than 5 times, and this of course excludes the large number of unreported crimes, especially related to smaller thefts, crime against women and the many cases where the police just “refuse” to file an FIR. The western countries aren’t any better off either, with the UK recording an average of more than 2 violent attacks every minute (a very high figure for such a small country) and the US, which has the highest incarceration (imprisonment) rate in the world!

= Root Causes for Increasing Crime Rates =

To a certain extent, poverty and unemployment do have their contributions to the increasing crime rates. However, it is not easy to explain away most of the crimes purely based on such simplistic reasoning. Here we examine some of the root causes behind rising crime rates and examine possible solutions for addressing the root causes.

==Incomplete Education System==

The modern university education is focused primarily on providing extensive “Information” and “Data”, the sole purpose of which is to equip students to earn their livelihood. Thus, higher aspects of education, such as personality development, value inculcation and self discovery are often ignored. With the focus purely on materialistic achievements, people are tempted to employ unfair means to achieve the desired objective. This mentality, if extended further, can easily lead one to cheat and subsequently graduate into white collar crimes, such as fraud, forgery and false pretences. The financial impact of such crimes has been in the range of billions of dollars, according to the “International symposium of crime”. The recent “Satyam Scam” is only one among the many such examples.

==A Superficial Culture==

A superficial materialistic culture that focuses on “What we possess” rather than “What we really are” is largely responsible for misdirecting the masses. Beguiled by an endless array of ads, slogans and culture trends prompting us to switch to a high end luxurious lifestyle that we don’t need and can hardly afford, we are gripped with desire and then with frustration and dismay when we either fail to achieve this, or if they fail to satisfy us. Hence we see spiralling statistics of depression, as well as a concomitant upsurge in use of alcohol and drugs, big time contributors to crime. Because “having more” becomes the criteria for success and happiness, we will generally stop at little to get more, including breaking the odd law or two if we can get away with it.

==Dubious Scientific Theories==

Many modern theories that were floated around for the purpose of explaining the origin of the universe and the living beings, are primarily reductionist in nature, attributing the functioning of everything on the basis of elementary particles and molecules. Referring to a living being as merely a bag of chemicals breeds a destructive mentality: “why can I not destroy a particular lump of chemicals if it obstructs my path to success?”. Darwin’s evolution suggests that life is a “Struggle for Existence” where the strong win the struggle and the weak gradually become extinct. Such theories, in spite of being rejected by eminent scientists, have found their way into the academic text books, thus feeding generations of naive students with such perverted conceptions, which infact served as breeding grounds for racism, fascism, colonization, slavery, and even world wars!

==Lack of proper Role Models==
This has become a perennial issue in our society. The famous and powerful personalities in our society (such as the industrial tycoons, politicians and cinema stars) leave much to be desired in terms of their ideals. Most of them are involved either in corporate frauds, market manipulations, flouting land acquisition norms, sex scandals, land scams or have connections with the underworld dons. Yet such personalities mostly get away with all of this, and moreover seem to get whatever they want, in terms of wealth, fame or followers. Some of them privately even sneer and scoff at people who try to stick to moral and ethical values, while simultaneously maintaining the opposite stand in front of the public. However, common people easily see through this farce and this sets a wrong example for the others who eventually lose their motivation to follow any sort of values and eventually start feeling that it is “ok” to breaking the rules the in order to make it “big” in life, as long as they are not caught.

==Ineffective Law and Order System==
It is well known that many of the people responsible for law enforcement themselves are often hand in glove with criminals for making some quick gains by underhand means. Even otherwise, they are not too keen on nabbing the culprits unless the crimes are of larger magnitude. This sluggish attitude from the law enforcers encourages the criminals in their nefarious activities.

==Alcoholism and Drugs==
Alcohol and drug consumption affects the mind and impairs judgement and rational thinking, causing an individual to lose control over his inhibitions and act on impulse. This has been a big time contributor to crime worldwide. For instance, the US department of Justice reports that 40% of the crimes involved alcohol abuse and upto 87% of the people arrested in urban areas tested positive for drugs!

== Television ==
The television has a powerful influence, especially on the impressionable children and youth. Research studies have shown that children who grew up watching violence depicted on television exhibit aggressive behavior patterns. This is even reflected in their “play time”, where they act out violent scenarios, brandishing toy weapons, and screaming words such as “I am gonna kill you!”. By the time they grow into adolescence, they are like time bombs, ready to explode with all the violence they have been seeing on television. Generally, movies shown on television glorify all acts performed by the movie heroes. However, in recent times, it has been observed that the scope of these “heroic” acts has broadened to include many unacceptable acts such as flirting, occasional misbehavior, alcohol indulgence, and occasional rowdyism or hooliganism. All this used to be portrayed as strictly “evil or bad” in the earlier times, but recently, all this is getting portrayed as “acceptable behavior” by the movies, thus misleading the impressionable youth and children. Even adults are not spared from the influence, thanks to the mind programming techniques (such as subliminal effects) that most television ads and shows employ.

= Prison Houses: How effective are they? =
The general opinion among people is that tougher prison sentences would act as a deterrent for the criminals. However, statistics show that some 60% of the prisoners re-offend within two years of their release. The reasons are not hard to understand. The Prison is an excellent place for the criminals to meet other like minded criminal people and learn a few new tricks of the trade. The ancient Vedic Scriptures point out how our consciousness is shaped by our association, which in prisons is hardly of the best kind. Seeing this fact, David Waddington, a former home secretary in the UK, said in a government paper, “Prison is an expensive way of making bad people worse”. Though training and rehabilitation courses aim at rectifying the prisoners, and have been helpful in some cases, the statistics seem to indicate that they are not enough.

=The Vedic Observer=
The Vedic Education Model was holistic and dwell into higher dimensions of knowledge encompassing spirituality, self discovery, soul, Karma, Reincarnation, etc. The Vedic texts assert unequivocally that morality has to be founded on spirituality; otherwise it soon becomes a mere lip service. Unless one has an understanding of God as the supreme controller, there is nothing to impel him to stick to morality in his pursuit of pleasure. If a person has no understanding of higher laws of nature such as Karma, Re-Incarnation and of his identity as an eternal soul, then it would be natural enough for him to think that he could do anything he pleased and get away with it, provided he did it cleverly enough. Thus, moral education founded on spirituality can install the right values in people and make them disinclined to commit crimes. Occupational Education (required for maintaining oneself) can be imparted, but with an undercurrent of understanding that life has a higher (spiritual) purpose as well.

Scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita explain the various modes of material nature that affect our minds such as the mode of goodness (sattva guna), mode of passion (rajo guna) and the mode of ignorance (tamo guna). We usually act under a mixture of these 3 modes in various proportions at various times. People influenced predominantly by the mode of goodness are very less likely to commit crimes, whereas people in the modes of passion and especially ignorance (alcoholics, for example) are more likely to commit crimes. Scriptures have prescribed many activities that enable an individual to come into the mode of goodness and go even beyond that. These activities include having specified types of food, performing specified types of worship or giving specified types of charity.

All these activities make us peaceful and help bringing out the goodness in us. They also help in keeping negative qualities (such as lust, anger, greed, envy, etc) at bay. We are all intrinsically good, being parts of the supreme good, or God. We just need to revive our original spiritual nature and the goodness will emerge. This is done by curing the “material infection” that leads to crime. Recital of specific mantras or having spiritually sanctified food are some of the activities that help in this curing process.

In the recent times, spiritual organizations have been working more closely with Prison Inmates, with adequate support from prison authorities, for conducting workshops based on spiritual values, Self Discovery, Mantra recitations from vedic scriptures, and personal counselling. All this has caused a considerable transformation in the lives of the inmates, many of whom have given up their bad ways and bad habits for good!

Hence, controlling crimes is more to do with training and transforming people and cultures rather than making punishments more stringent.

Authored by [[Author#Vivek|Vivek Devarajan]]

Sky Rocketing Food Prices – Why?


= Sky Rocketing Food Prices =
== Introduction ==
High Food Prices – A phenomenon that impacts our everyday lives significantly, by eating away into our monthly budgets. We frequently get a taste of this, when we have our regular squabbles with the neighborhood vegetable vendor over the prices, or when we visit the grocery store.

Now for some number crunching – Rice, which used to cost around Rs. 18 per kg one and half years ago, now costs more than Rs. 30 per Kg (a 60% increase) . Toor Dal, which used to cost around Rs 35 per Kg, now almost costs Rs. 100 per Kg (a 3-fold increase). Sugar, which used to cost Rs. 25 per kg just a few months ago, now costs Rs. 36 per kg (a 50% increase in just a few months).

Most of us just trudge along, accepting this as a hard fact of our daily lives. It is all the more worse for the vast lower-middle class, for whom inflated food prices is yet another of the many hoops to jump through in order to survive.

Deficient monsoons this year has been a major cause of high food prices. However, food prices have shown a marked rise (increase in prices of rice is a classic example) in the last one and half years, much before India was plagued by Monsoon Deficit.

Here, we examine some more root causes of food price inflation and explore some possible solutions for the same:-

== Root Causes of High Food Prices ==

=== Ineffective Inflation Tracking Mechanisms ===
Inflation indicates the rise in price of a basket of commodities on a point-to-point basis (usually year to year basis). It basically indicates the quantum of increase in the cost of living over a period of one year.

To calculate inflation, the wholesale prices of the identified commodities are collected and a weighted average of those commodities is computed to arrive at the Wholesale Price Index (WPI). Around 400+ commodities that includes the prices of food items, manufactured goods, raw industrial materials (such as iron, copper, steel, etc), fuel and power, constitute the WPI. Whenever this weighted average figure exceeds 5% on a Year to year basis, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which usually tracks the WPI takes action and increases interest rates for money lending (this sucks out excess liquidity from the system and helps bring the commodity prices down).

Problems with this inflation tracking methodology – The weightage for manufactured goods is more than 60% whereas food and agriculture products have a weightage of less than 25% in the WPI. Hence a rise in the food prices will not attract much action from the RBI, unless it is accompanied by a significant increase in prices of other manufacturing goods and commodities. Other commodities have their own up and down cycles, but food prices remain persistently high.

Also, the wholesale prices do not factor in the additional retailer margins, transportation costs and other taxes, which are reflected in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Unfortunately the benchmark followed by the government is the WPI and not the CPI.

”’The Inflation Paradox:”’ The Inflation figure (as indicated by the WPI) is currently very low (1.5%), however, as we all know, the food prices have risen by as much as 50% over the last two years!

So, while the government proudly proclaims over the roof tops that inflation figures are ‘low’, these ‘low’ figures are somewhat a cruel paradox for the common man who sees no respite from rising food prices

=== Skewed Government Policies and Priorities ===
It is a known fact that the government has favored progress in Industrial and Service Sectors while neglecting agriculture and meting out step-motherly treatment to the farmers who feed the nation. Most of the economic development policies have a distinct ‘urban’ bias, serving the interests of a selected small percentage of the (urban) population.

Most corrupt politicians are hand in glove with the super rich industrial bigwigs and have no qualms about snatching fertile agricultural land from farmers and awarding them to the corporate tycoons at a throw away prices. Thus, the farmers never get a fair price for their lands and are merely paid a pittance.

The SEZ Act (read ‘Plot’): Adding to the farmers’ cup of woes is the government’s SEZ (Special Economic Zone) act that allows the government to acquire land for setting up export processing zones, industries and service companies and giving them tax breaks. 75% of the land identified for SEZ operations is agricultural land.

The SEZ act has a provision for a unique “Single Window Clearance” system that does not require the proposed projects to undergo clearances from the environmental boards, local panchayats, etc, and does not even require stating the purpose of the project to the relevant stakeholders (farmers). This leaves no scope of legal objection from anyone and removes the need to be more transparent!

Earlier laws and acts dealing with land acquisition needed proper justification to be given by the government (such as using the land for building public utilities like sewerages, tanks, roads, etc), but this is not the case with the SEZ act that also allows ‘private enterprises’ to be set up in the acquired land. Now it is anybody’s guess as to the hidden agenda behind introducing the SEZ act, under the garb of ‘economic development’.

The farmers are then offered employment as laborers or watchmen and exploited in the same land that they once used to own! The SEZ act does result in good employment to a few educated engineers and executives, but repeated recessions are making us painfully realize that the ‘agriculture sector’ clearly scores over the industrial and service sectors with respect to providing sustained employment.

Another problem faced by farmers is that most state federations and middle-men in the food chain pay them very low prices for their produce, whereas the input costs needed for irrigation infrastructure, fertilizers, pesticides, etc are not so low. Sometimes, farmers are not paid their dues at all by the government. A classic example of this is the plight of the sugarcane farmers in India recently.

The bitter story behind high sugar prices: In Uttar Pradesh alone, the government owed Rs. 1500 Crores to farmers for the sugarcane delivered by them to the state run sugar mills, at the start of the 2007-08 crushing season. Frustrated farmers then cut down their production of cane and instead sold the cane to jaggery mills. Thus, the sugar mills faced a ‘shortage of sugar’ leading to skyrocketing sugar prices (a 50% increase in just a few months).

All of this has led frustrated farmers to sink into deep debt and subsequently commit suicide or move to the cities in search of alternative employment. Some of them try switching to cash crops (such as Cotton, Tobacco, Coffee) with the hopes of clearing off their debts. All of this has led to lower production of Food Crops and increased food prices.

Did you know? India imports millions of tones of food grains (mostly wheat) frequently whenever food prices become uncontrollable. On one hand they snatch away fertile land from farmers for industrial development, and on the other hand they import food grains to tackle the shortage. A big irony, indeed!

=== High Transportation Costs ===
Increased migration of people to urban areas creates a need of transporting the food grains from farms to far away cities. Any increase in the prices of petrol or the cost of creating supporting infrastructure (such as roads) gets factored into the prices of food grains, ensuring that the urban folks like us shell out that much more for food.

Another culprit behind the high transportation costs is our ‘industry oriented’ economy which is extremely capital intensive, resource intensive as well as labor intensive. This is because any given industry depends on a lot of allied industries such as mining of raw materials (iron, coal), secondary raw material production (steel, cement), power generation (thermal, hydropower, etc), power equipment manufacture (turbines, windmills), industrial equipment manufacture (machinery), infrastructure creation (roads, bridges), construction (buildings, factories), etc. The list goes on and on, and all these industries are heavily dependant on one another. It is not possible to manufacture these things locally, and all this creates a need to have factories flung across many parts of the country based on availability of land, labor and raw materials. This in turn pushes up transportation costs as labor, raw materials and finished goods need to be transported across different parts of the country. Subsequently the food transportation costs also go up, thus, pushing up food prices.

The government does provide benefits to farmers occasionally, but that is only when elections are round the corner, for garnering votes from them. An example of this was when the government announced waivers for farmers’ loans during the budget of 2008, with an eye on the elections in 2009. Also, the subsidies provided by government to farmers mostly benefit either cash crop farming (which in turn will provide raw material for big corporates at cheaper prices), or the small percentage of large scale farmers, who have more access to irrigation facilities and are in possession of large tracts of high quality land, thus leaving the majority of the small time farmers in the lurch.

=== Hoarding, Black Marketing and Speculation ===
Any ‘anticipated’ shortage of food grains sets a panic wave into motion amongst the people. Many unscrupulous godown owners, merchants and even corporates try to hoard (buy) huge quantities of food grains before the prices rise. Powerful corporate houses have access to huge funds from NBFCs (Non Banking Finance Corporations) that aids them in their hoarding activities. This hoarding leads to increase in prices.

Many ration shops (which are supposed to provide food grains to the poor at subsidized prices, sponsored by the government), hoard most of the food grains and sell them in the black market at high prices, and the poor don’t get the food grains entitled to them.

Speculators sometimes ‘anticipate’ huge increases in prices of commodities such as wheat or corn, and buy huge quantities of futures contracts in these commodities in Commodity Exchanges, in order to profit from the price increase. This unnecessarily pushes up the food grain prices, and the sad part is that this is not even because of excessive consumption (which atleast serves to feed some people). This is purely because of speculation (read “gambling”) that is manipulating the prices, and depriving so many other poor people of their due.

Did you know? Wheat prices in US increased by 46 per cent between January 10 and February 26 2008, purely because of speculation in the commodities markets! Such wild swings cannot be explained purely based on the fundamental “demand and supply” factors.

== Possible Solutions for high food prices ==

=== Agricultural policy ===
# Encouraging agriculture and focus more on food crops instead of cash crops
# Ensuring that existing farmers get a fair price for their produce
# Providing excellent irrigation infrastructure
# Stop acquiring fertile agricultural land for industrial purposes, and acquire barren land instead

=== Setting up Farming Communities ===
Farm communities centered around sustained organic agriculture and dairy farming can be built for producing enough food grains, vegetables and dairy products. A self-sufficiency based model is a key to the success of these communities. Such a model will reduce dependency on the “Petroleum Based” economy and will serve to insulate people from the fluctuating prices of Crude Oil as well as Industrial Commodities such as Iron, Copper, etc. This will also reduce dependency on capital intensive High End Infrastructure, Machinery, raw material procurements and transportation, thus bring down investments drastically while ensuring a steady income from selling the farm produce. Most importantly, the residents would be protected from inflating food prices, and would never have to go hungry!

There are many successful farm communities run by spiritual institutions, missionaries, and welfare groups in India, US, Europe and Australia that are successfully practicing the simple mantra of self sufficiency!

=== Good Irrigation Infrastructure ===
This will help in combating monsoon deficit. Pipelines and bunds can be built for carrying water from rivers, streams and estuaries to the farms. Watershed development activities can be carried out for conserving water.

There are case studies of a few villages in Maharashtra (India) which have already built a good irrigation setup, leveraging on the rivers and streams in the forest with the help of an almost 10,000 feet pipeline, and watersheds, thus achieving self sufficiency!

=== Usage of Natural, Low Cost Manures ===
Usage of natural manures such as cattle dung, crop residues, biological wastes, neem, decayed vegetable matter, etc is much cheaper and also has many advantages such as soil enrichment, aeration, improving water holding capacity and simulate micro-organism activities that make plant food. This reduces the dependency on expensive fertilizers and helps bringing down food prices.

== The Vedic Observer ==
Interestingly, the Srimad Bhagavatam (a Vedic Text) incidentally predicts a huge food shortage in the future [http://vedabase.net/sb/12/2/9 Verse 12.2.9] :-

śāka-mūlāmisa-ksaudra-
phala-puspāsti-bhojanāh
anāvrstyā vinańksyanti
durbhiksa-kara-pīditāh

“Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined.” So these are times when we shall see imposed artificial life styles driven by destructive methodologies of our policies.

Economies in the Vedic times were run on a model predominantly based on Localized Production. This means that each town or set of towns produced their needs locally from nearby forests, natural resources and cattle by-products. Food was grown in local farms. This closely resembles the “farm community” model described above.

This optimal model has very low dependence on scarce and depleting resources such as petroleum products, coal, copper, iron, etc, and hence, we don’t end up paying extra to cover up for high transportation costs, mining, power, infrastructure, machinery, etc which eventually get factored into the prices.

Thus, the common man was spared from paying through the nose for basic necessities such as food and water, as most of the food was anyway produced locally.

Quite contrary to popular modern beliefs, the people of the Vedic Era (especially the brahmanas and the kings) were highly intelligent and had scientific and practical understanding of the higher laws governing the functioning of nature (such as the law of karma) described in the Vedas. By virtue of this, they understood the dangerous consequences of exploiting nature for satisfying ones own greed, and accordingly aligned their lifestyles, society and economies to function in harmony with nature.

All this, in turn, ensured that their needs would be abundantly supplied by nature. No wonder, inflated pricing was a rare phenomenon in the Vedic Era. DO we have better days ahead.

Authored by [[Author#vivek_d|Vivek Devarajan]]

Bio Tech or Bio Terror

==Introduction==
On October 14, the Indian Government’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) gave a green signal for the first commercial release of a genetically modified food crop (BT eggplant, brinjal), despite widespread disapproval from citizens, NGOs, farmer organizations and scientists. The decision has led to fury, protests and fasts in states across India on October 16, World Food day.

After having successfully reduced the fertility of the fertile soil making it poisonous with chemical fertilizers, cheating the innocent poor farmers by alluring them to buy terminated seeds and chemical fertilizers with false promise of increased yield, causing the death of many domestic animals by producing BT cotton, the BT (Biological Terrorism) scientists are now experimenting on food crops.

To know more about Genetically modified foods, their disastrous consequences on health etc, read the below article.

==How are Genetically modified foods created? ==
Genes are found in every cell of all living organisms, determining the characteristics, structure, and growth of successive generations. To create genetically modified food, a gene is taken from one organism and forcibly inserted in the genetic code of another unrelated organism, giving it new traits. Overriding ethical and specie barriers, scientists have introduced genes from bacteria, viruses and animals like fish and scorpions into vegetables, and human genes into rice. (www. iamnolabrat. com).

In “a plate full of toxins” (9/11/09), an open letter to M. S. Swaminathan, the chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, agricultural activist Dr. Vandana Shiva writes: “Genetic engineering is a crude and blind technology of shooting genes into an organism through a “gene gun.” It’s like infecting the organism with cancer. It is not known if the transgene is introduced, and that is why antibiotic resistance markers have to be used. Nor is it known where in the genome the transgene gets introduced. This is not “accuracy”, it is literally shooting in the dark.”

Advocates of genetic modification claim that BT (Bacillus Thuringenesis) is a naturally occurring bacterium that produces crystal proteins lethal only to insect larvae. A brinjal with inbuilt BT toxin in every cell could kill unwanted pests (like the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer, Leucinodes orbonalis), and theoretically increase yields and reduce hunger, all without the external usage of pesticides. Raju Barwale, the managing director of Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd, Mahyco (owned by multinational biotech giant Monsanto) argues that “insect-resistant BT brinjal has been in development for nine years and has been tested in full compliance with the guidelines and directives of the regulatory authorities to ensure its safety. It is the most rigorously tested vegetable, with 25 environmental biosafety studies supervised by independent and government agencies. It has the same nutritional value and is compositionally identical to non-BT brinjal, except for the additional BT protein which is specific in its action against the BFSB.”

== Consequences at all levels ==
To this Vandana Shiva replies, “while it is true that the naturally-occurring BT (which is an endo toxin) becomes a toxin only in the gut of insect larvae, the genetically-engineered BT is a readymade toxin. Navdanya’s research in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, has shown that BT cotton is killing beneficial micro-organisms in the soil. Reports of deaths of animals grazing in BT cotton fields are also related to the fact that BT in plants is a broad spectrum, readymade toxin unlike the naturally occurring BT.”

According to Sangita Sharma, who leads My Right to Safe Food campaign in India, “genes that are inserted into GE crops transfer into the DNA of the bacteria inside your intestines and might turn it into living pesticide factories, possibly for the rest of your life. This means that long after you stop eating GE foods, your own gut bacteria might be producing these foreign proteins, which might be allergenic, toxic or carcinogenic.” (www. myrighttosafefood. blogspot. com). In addition, the antibiotic resistant marker gene (used to mark cells in the host organism that have successfully received the alien genes) can spread to other disease-causing organisms in the environment, making them immune to antibiotics as well.

A study conducted in January 2009 by Gilles-Eric Seralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen in France, concluded that “BT brinjal cannot be considered as safe. The agreement for BT brinjal release into the environment, for food, feed or cultures, may present a serious risk for human and animal health and the release should be forbidden.” He also added that the tests conducted by Mahyco were simply not valid and raised serious health concerns.

Additional studies linked genetically modified food to stunted growth, impaired immune systems, potentially precancerous cell growth in the intestines, enlarged livers, pancreases and intestines, higher blood sugar and reduced fertility. These encouraged over 175 regions and 4,500 municipalities in Europe to declare themselves GM-free zones and oppose genetically modified exports from the US, which grows 57 percent of the world’s transgenic crops.

In India, poor farmers are promised higher yields by converting from traditional seed saving to BT cotton. However, often times they are not told that BT cotton also requires costly artificial inputs, like irrigation and industrial pesticides, which only a few of them can afford. Although the exact figures and circumstances are subject to much debate between civil and scientific organizations, the fact remains that in the last decade thousands of farmers in the BT cotton belt of Punjab, Vidarbha, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka committed suicide due to repeatedly failing crops and increasing debts.

In the light of such unfulfilled promises, why would anyone support and grow genetically modified crops? Well, huge amounts of money are at stake. The global market in 2000 was worth over two-thousand billion dollars a year, with Monsanto producing 90 percent of the world’s genetically modified crops. Genetic modification provides companies like Monsatno exclusive rights to biotechnology patents under the title of “intellectual property”, allowing them to extract high prices from farmers, either through increasingly expensive research products
(e. g. Round-up herbicide, “Golden Rice”, and sterile “Terminator” seeds) or lawsuits.

The genetic engineering industry is a well-organized system of collaboration between scientific educational facilities, government legislative support, and industry-dependent agricultural subsidies that encourage developing countries to compete over trade instead of meeting their food requirements locally. As Sreedhara Bhasin wrote for the Tribune in “Caution! GM foods may be on the way” (10/11/2009): “Days after the government announced introduction of genetically modified food crops in the country, Hillary Clinton who happened to be on her first visit as the US Secretary of State, which included a trip to India’s leading agriculture institute (PUSA), heartily supported transferring ‘cutting-edge technology’ to raise crop yields. Like many proponents of GM industry, Hillary Clinton mouthed the shibboleths – world hunger and high yielding crops . . . GM research and production are costly ventures and the biotech companies expect to make substantial profits on their investment. Many GM technology, plants and seeds are already patented by the leading GM companies, and it would be childish to believe that the ex-gratia support of the US government is for the future of a hunger-free India.” Besides, do profits really justify the patenting of living organisms and claiming false proprietorship over life?

Gene pollution does not end with eggplants. In India, at least 56 genetically modified crops are undergoing various stages of research and trials, of which 41 are food crops. These include corn, cauliflower, chickpea, peanut, mustard, okra, potato, papaya, tomato, rice, and cabbage. Once genetically modified food is released into the environment, it cannot be contained or recalled. Since the genetic integrity of the species is harmed, there is an increased chance for transgenic contamination of other natural organisms, either by cross pollination in plants or digestion by animals and humans. Furthermore, genetically modified plants are designed to look exactly like the originals, depriving consumers of their right to make informed choices in regard to what they eat, especially in the unlabeled Indian market.

== Conclusion ==
Man’s unnecessary interference in the working of God made nature has always created havoc to ecology, human society and other beings. The modern day demoniac attempts to manipulate nature will only worsen the already bad situation.

Food is a gift of nature to nourish our body so that we can work towards spiritual emancipation. Nature in itself is perfect. All we need to do is to simply live parallel to nature, retain it without polluting. Then all our needs are fulfilled by nature.

Instead of wasting time and the tax payers money in disrupting the nature’s natural way of working, the human society would to do better to accept the nutritious food provided by Mother Nature and utilize the remaining time in spiritual cultivation.

Authored by [[Authors#mgdasa|Madhur Gauranga Dasa]]