Thoughts on economics and liberty

Category: India

All Western “Greenie” eyes on India >> how to decimate India’s population has been their MAIN focus



Since the time of Malthus, India has always been a prime target in the eyes of would-be population controllers. Both the British colonial administrators and the high-caste Brahmins who succeeded them in power following independence in 1947 looked upon the “teeming masses” of that nation’s lower classes with fear and disdain. Jawaharlal Nehru’s Congress Party (which controlled India’s national government for its first three decades without interruption) had been significantly  influenced by pre-independence contacts with the pro-Malthusian British Fabian Society. Notable members of the native elite, such as the influential and formidable Lady Rama Rau, had found Margaret Sanger and her ideas quite appealing.11 Thus during the 1950s and early 1960s, the Indian government allowed organizations like the Population Council, the Ford Foundation, and the IPPF to set up shop within the country’s borders, where they could set about curbing the reproduction of the nation’s Dalits, or “untouchables.” The government did not, however, allocate public funds to these organizations, so their programs remained relatively small.

Things changed radically in 1965, when war with Pakistan threw the country’s economy into disarray, causing harvest failure and loss of revenue. When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi—Nehru’s daughter —assumed office in January 1966, India was short twenty million tons of grain and lacked money to buy replacement stock on the world market. She was left with no choice but to go to the United States, hat in hand, to beg for food aid.

There was a lot that the United States could have asked for in return from India, such as support for the Western side in the Cold War (India was non-aligned), and particularly for the war effort in nearby Vietnam, which was heating up rapidly. One of President Lyndon Johnson’s aides, Joseph Califano, suggested in a memo to the president that the United States move rapidly to commit food aid in order to secure such a pro-American tilt. In reply he got a call from Johnson that very afternoon. “Are you out of your fucking mind?” the president exploded. He declared in no uncertain terms that he was not going to “piss away foreign aid in nations where they refuse to deal with their own population problems.” Population control initiative architect Bob Komer, who had recently been promoted to the post of National Security Advisor, was delighted. “We finally have the Indians where you’ve wanted them ever since last April,” he wrote to President Johnson. “From now on we hinge aid to performance.” 12

Indira Gandhi arrived in Washington in late March and met first with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who handed her a memo requiring  “a massive effort to control population growth” as a condition for food aid. Then on March 28, 1966, she met privately with the president. There is no record of their conversation, but it is evident that she capitulated completely. Two days later, President Johnson sent a message to Congress requesting food aid for India, noting with approval: “The Indian government believes that there can be no effective solution of the Indian food problem that does not include population control.”13

[Sanjeev: This probably explains the mass mania in Indira Gandhi’s time against population]

In accordance with the agreement, sterilization and IUD-insertion quotas were set for each Indian state, and then within each state for each local administrative district. Every hospital in the country had a large portion of its facilities commandeered for sterilization and IUD-INSERTION activities. (The IUDs, which were provided to the Indian government by the Population Council, were non-sterile.14 In Maharashtra province, 58 percent of women surveyed who received them experienced pain, 24 percent severe pain, and 43 percent severe and excessive bleeding.15) But hospitals alone did not have the capacity to meet the quotas, so hundreds of sterilization camps were set up in rural areas, manned and operated by paramedical personnel who had as little as two days of training. Minimum quotas were set for the state-salaried camp medics—they had to perform 150 vasectomies or 300 IUD insertions per month each, or their pay would be docked. Private practitioners were also recruited to assist, with pay via piecework: 10 rupees per vasectomy and 5 rupees per IUD insertion.16

To acquire subjects for these ministrations, the Indian government provided each province with 11 rupees for every IUD insertion, 30 per vasectomy, and 40 per tubectomy. These funds could be divided according to the particular population control plan of each provincial government, with some going to program personnel, some spent as commission money to freelance “motivators,” some paid as incentives to the “acceptors,” and some grafted for other governmental or private use by the administrators. Typical incentives for subjects ranged from 3 to 7 rupees for an IUD insertion and 12 to 25 rupees for a sterilization. These sums may seem trivial—a 1966 rupee is equivalent to 65  cents today—but at that time, 2 to 3 rupees was a day’s pay for an Indian laborer. When these pittances did not induce enough subjects to meet the quotas, some states adopted additional “incentives”: Madhya Pradesh, for example, denied irrigation water to villages that failed to meet their quotas.17 Faced with starvation, millions of impoverished people had no alternative but to submit to sterilization. As the forms of coercion employed worked most effectively on the poorest, the system also provided the eugenic bonus of doing away preferentially with untouchables.18

The results were impressive. In 1961, the total number of sterilizations (vasectomies and tubectomies combined) performed in India was 105,000. In 1966–67, the yearly total shot up to 887,000, growing further to more than 1 .8 million in 1967–68.19 No doubt, LBJ was proud.

But while ruining the lives of millions of people, the steep rise in sterilization figures had little impact on the overall trajectory of India’s population growth. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich wrote in The Population Bomb, “I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self sufficient in food by 1971, if ever,”20 thus justifying his explicitly antihuman call that we “must allow [India] to slip down the drain.”21 As in so many other things, Ehrlich was wrong; India did achieve self-sufficiency in food in 1971—not through population control, but through the improved agricultural techniques of the Green Revolution. It did not matter. The holders of the purse-strings at USAID demanded even higher quotas. They got them. By 1972–73, the number of sterilizations in India reached three million per year.22

Then, in the fall of 1973, OPEC launched its oil embargo, quintupling petroleum prices virtually overnight. For rich nations like the United States, the resulting financial blow was severe. For poor countries like India, it was devastating. In 1975, conditions in India became so bad that Prime Minister Gandhi declared a state of national emergency and assumed dictatorial power. Driven once again to desperation, she found herself at the mercy of the World Bank, led by arch-Malthusian Robert S. McNamara.

McNamara made it clear: if India wanted more loans, Gandhi needed to use her powers to deal more definitively with India’s supposed population problem. She agreed. Instead of incentives, force would now be used to obtain compliance. “Some personal rights have to be kept in abeyance,” she said, “for the human rights of the nation, the right to live, the right to progress.”23

Gandhi put her son Sanjay personally in charge of the new population offensive. He took to his job with gusto. Overt coercion became the rule: sterilization was a condition for land allotments, water, electricity, ration cards, medical care, pay raises, and rickshaw licenses. Policemen were given quotas to nab individuals for sterilization. Demolition squads were sent into slums to bulldoze houses—sometimes whole neighborhoods—so that armed police platoons could drag off their flushed-out occupants to forced-sterilization camps. In Delhi alone, 700,000 people were driven from their homes. Many of those who escaped the immediate roundup were denied new housing until they accepted sterilization.24

Mass sterilization camp in India.

These attacks provoked resistance, with thousands being killed in battles with the police, who used live ammunition to deal with  protesters.25 When it became clear that Muslim villages were also being selectively targeted, the level of violence increased still further.26 The village of Pipli was only brought into submission when government officials threatened locals with aerial bombardment. As the director of family planning in Maharashtra explained, “You must consider it something like a war. . . . Whether you like it or not, there will be a few dead people.”27

The measures served their purpose. During 1976, eight million Indians were sterilized. Far from being dismayed by the massive violation of human rights committed by the campaign, its foreign sponsors expressed full support. Sweden increased its funding for Indian population control by $17 million. USAID population czar Reimert Ravenholt ordered 64 advanced laparoscope machines—altogether sufficient to sterilize 12,800 people per day—rushed to India to help the effort.28 World Bank president McNamara was absolutely delighted. In November 1976, he traveled to India to congratulate Indira Gandhi’s government for its excellent work. “At long last,” he said, “India is moving effectively to address its population problem.”29

Prime Minister Gandhi got her loans. She also got the boot in 1977, when in the largest democratic election in history, the people of India defied three decades of precedent and voted her Congress Party out of power in a landslide.30

Unfortunately, in most Third World countries, people lack such an option to protect themselves against population control. Equally unfortunately, despite the fall of the Gandhi government, the financial pressure on India from the World Bank and USAID to implement population control continued.31 By the early 1980s, four million sterilizations were being performed every year on India’s underclasses as part of a coercive two-child-per-family policy.32

Since in rural India sons are considered essential to continue the family line and provide support for parents in their old age, this limit caused many families to seek means of disposing of infant daughters, frequently through drowning, asphyxiation, abandonment in sewers or garbage dumps, or incineration on funeral pyres.33 More recently the  primary means of eliminating the less-desirable sex has become sex-selective abortion, skewing the ratio of the sexes so that 112 boys are born for every hundred girls in India (far beyond the natural ratio of 103 to 106).34 A sense of the scale on which these murders were and are practiced, even just in the aspect of gendercide, can be gleaned from the fact that in India today there are 37 million more men than women.35


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How Malthus caused famines in India – and how climate alarmists want to destroy India’s poor

From 1805-1834 Malthus taught at the Hailebury College, the East India company’s LBSNAA where they educated ICS officers.

Prior to Malthus, only Adam Smith was taught. After him, his pseudo-economics became common, leading to mass scale indoctrination of the British rulers of India against Indian population.

In 1877, British Viceroy Robert Bulwer-Lytton told the Legislative Council that “the Indian population has a tendency to increase more rapidly than the food it raises from the soil.”


Combined with Social Darwinism, this ideology led to eugenics (from Darwin’s cousin Galton). Combined with Nietzsche’s Superman, this led to Hitler, veganism, Greenpeace and the modern climate alarm.



Three decades later, the death count inflicted on the British Empire’s subjects by Malthusian ideology soared into the many millions during  another famine, this time on the other side of the globe. From 1876 to 1879, a terrible drought reduced the crop yields in many parts of India, but as in Ireland in the 1840s, there ought to have been plenty left to feed the Indians themselves.23 Indian grain exports in 1876 were more than double those of the pre-famine year of 1875, and in 1877 they doubled again—hardly a shortage of food. But uncontrolled grain speculation and exports by the colonial pooh-bahs, in addition to rising taxation and a depreciation of the rupee against the new gold standard, combined with natural causes to make it impossible for Indian peasants to obtain food for subsistence.24

Having helped precipitate this catastrophe, the British government refused to provide any form of effective succor. Rather, as in Ireland, the imperial government used Malthusian reasoning to help justify its oppressive policy. In 1877, British Viceroy Robert Bulwer-Lytton told the Legislative Council that “the Indian population has a tendency to increase more rapidly than the food it raises from the soil.” This line was backed up by Sir Evelyn Baring, the future Lord Cromer, who told Parliament that “every benevolent attempt made to mitigate the effects of famine and defective sanitation serves but to enhance the evils resulting from overpopulation.”25

As Indian peasants, driven from their land by taxation, a collapsing currency, and crop failure, began to roam the country searching for food, Lytton’s government rounded them up and placed them in “relief camps” where they were subjected to hard labor and limited to rations of one pound of rice per day, with no meat, fish, fruit, or vegetables. This daily dole of 1,630 calories was actually less than the 1,750 calories per day provided by the Nazis to the inmates of the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944–45 , and it produced similar results.26 According to the medical commissioner for the city of Madras (now known as Chennai), monthly mortality in the camps was equivalent to an annual death rate of 94 percent, with postmortem examination showing the chief cause of death to be “extreme wasting of the tissue and destruction of the lining membrane of the lower bowel”—that is to say, starvation—with full-grown men reduced to less than sixty pounds in weight prior to expiration.27 Indeed, in looking today at photographs of the living, dying, and dead human skeletons taken by British and American missionaries visiting the “relief camps” in 1877, the modern viewer can only be struck by their similarity to the images taken by the liberators of the Nazi death camps in 1945.

Indian Famine Victims, 1876–1879.

As one junior government official later described the scene:

The dead and dying were lying about on all sides . . . for shelter some had crawled to the graves of an adjoining cemetery and had lain themselves down between two graves as supports for  their wearied limbs; the crows were hovering over bodies that still had a spark of life in them. . . . The place seemed tenanted by none but the dead and the dying. In a few minutes I picked up five bodies; one being that of an infant which its dying mother had firmly clasped, ignorant of the child being no more; the cholera patients were lying about unheeded by those around; some poor children were crying piteously for water within the hearing of the cooks, who never stirred to wet the lips of the poor things that were in extremis.28

As the above testimony suggests, Viceroy Lytton’s Malthusian policies were by no means in accord with the traditional sensibilities of Englishmen. There were many who actively rejected the policies born of overpopulation dogma, but their efforts were in vain. For example, outraged by the death-camp horrors, the British community in Madras, under the leadership of the philanthropic Duke of Buckingham, attempted to raise private funds to save the Indians from starvation—but Lytton stopped the plan dead in its tracks.29 In a series of searing articles denouncing the viceroy for creating “a hideous record of human suffering and destruction” such as “the world has never seen before,” Red Cross founder Florence Nightingale called on her nation’s government to suspend its merciless taxation policy.30 She was likewise rebuffed by Lytton. As British officer B. H. Baden-Powell put it, reducing the taxes on the Indian peasantry would only encourage further overpopulation.31

Within three years, between 6 and 10 million people died. In 1896–1902, the experience was repeated, this time with as many as 19 million victims in the subcontinent.32 Similar events would transpire elsewhere in the empire, a truly grim legacy for the ideas of Malthus. But even worse ideas were yet to come.

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Help the Rich, Hurt the Poor: Case of Special Economic Zones by EAS Sarma

Note: I agree with much of what EAS Sarma is saying here. However, I don’t agree with his defence of labour laws.

(Extracts from Economic and Political Weekly May 26, 2007)

In a country where more than 100 million people in the rural areas have no land of their own and another 80 million house­holds own agricultural holdings less than five acres, it is unfortunate that the central and the state governments should rush into forcibly acquiring hundreds of thousands of hectares of arable lands in huge chunks and dole them out to powerful industrial houses and real estate dealers at throw-away prices.

Central to the SEZ scheme is the facile assumption that handing over thousands of hectares of land cheaply to promoters of industry and relaxing the laws of the land, including those that relate to the welfare of the industrial workers, protection of the environment, taxation, etc, would automatically promote industrialisation and solve the m1gging unemployment problem of the country overnight. Similar doles were tried out in the past, with not much success. What our rulers fail to recognise is that it is bad governance that lies behind many of our failures on the development front.

SEZ Impact
The basic principles of good governance are to involve the people in decision-making, enhance transparency in the functioning of the government, create a competitive environment, provide greater choice for the citizen in offering public services, minimise the element of discretion and ensure non-discriminatory treatment to all. Government’s policies should be in the direction of creating competitive markets, rather than promote private monopolies. Unfortunately, none of these essential requirements of good governance find place in the recent policies. On the other hand, many so-called “reforms” during the last few years have openly gone against these basic tenets. The case of the SEZs is an excellent example of this.

Decision-making on SEZs has generally been non-transparent. SEZs are imposed on the local people without any prior consultation. Whenever the displaced persons opposed the location of an SEZ, their dissent had been termed “anti-devel­opment” and crushed mercilessly with the iron hand of the state.

The process of selection of the pro­moters of SEZs is in itself highly non­transparent. There is not a single case of SEZ in which the promoter is selected through well-established competitive bidding procedures. This has provided enormous scope for corruption and political patronage.

SEZs displace people on a large scale. The displacement is both physical and occupational. In coastal states like Andhra Pradesh, some SEZs are located along the sea coast, cutting off fishermen’s access to the sea from which the latter eke out their livelihood. In many places, small agriculturists are thrown out of their home­lands and, along with them, those that depend on agriculture, such as artisans and rural workers have also lost their livelihood. The latter do not figure at all among the beneficiaries of the rehabilitation packages.

Government’s Stand
In the case of the SEZs and a host of other similar industrialisation schemes, it is strange to find the government reversing its role and acting as a broker on behalf of the industry. In this role, the government has not even hesitated to invoke its “right of eminent domain” and forcibly acquire land for the SEZs. In the past, the land acquisition law, which is indeed a draconian one, had been used to acquire lands for genuine public purposes such as schools, hospitals, etc. It had rarely been used to further private interest, as is the case now.

The rehabilitation packages announced by the states lack credibility, as there are thousands of families displaced by pre­vious projects still awaiting compensation payments. In some cases, those displaced in early 1970s are yet to receive compen­sation. In many cases, the true beneficia­ries are the absentee landlords, interme­diaries and touts that collude with the government agencies. The Andhra Pradesh experience has shown that the poor that were assigned government land were the ones that were deprived of those lands to benefit the SEZ promoters.

India’s SEZ Scheme
While China has followed a step-by-step approach and set up only six SEZs during the last several years, India has already set up 19 SEZs, approved another 234, accorded “in prin­ciple” approval for 162 and notified 19. China’s SEZs are larger in size, whereas the extent of an Indian SEZ seems to depend on the political clout that the promoter wields and the leverage he is able to achieve with bureaucrats and politicians. China has a well thought-out land-use policy that seeks to protect its arable land. India has no such policy.

SEZs are given open-ended tax conces­sions. The experience so far in the country with tax holidays for industry has not been sanguine. Apart from the direct revenue losses they have resulted in, they also have led to an uneconomic location of industrial units.

The labour laws applicable to the rest of the country have been relaxed for the SEZs. The existing laws are well ­intentioned and they promote worker wel­fare [Sanjeev: disagree – these laws need to be revised to ensure greater liberty of contracting]. Relaxing such laws exclusively for the SEZs shows the government’s lack of conviction in its own commitment to social justice. In going along with this, for the first time, the government has openly accepted the untenable contention that social justice inhibits economic develop­ment and, therefore, it could be conve­niently jettisoned off its agenda.

In some SEZs, the state governments are joint venture partners. In the case of some, special incentives by way of concessional electri­city and water tariffs have been offered. In almost all cases, valuable lands have been given away at concessional prices. In return for all these sops that run into thousands of crores, the promoters of SEZs are not willing to assume any kind of social responsibility. For example, they have no intention to reserve jobs for SCs/STs.

The employment opportunities that the SEZs would create are limited, compared to the number of poor farmers uprooted. The promise of jobs for the displaced is a hollow one, as none of the displaced families would be able to find even one of its members having the right kind of skills and qualifications required for such jobs. Even if we assume that SEZs do create some job opportunities, the benefit of such limited employment would get more than offset by the number of rural families permanently deprived of their livelihoods.

In the recent years, the industry has been lobbying for relaxations in the procedures for environmental clearances. The SEZ policy has some elements that relate to this. In the case of many SEZs already ap­proved, no detailed environmental impact assessment has been attempted. For ex­ample, the industrial units in an SEZ would not only drain surface and groundwater resources at the expense of the local com­munities, but also their affluents could pollute the local water bodies.

Forc­ible acquisition of land should be done away with. Decisions that involve displace­ment of people should not be taken with­out prior consultation with the local com­munities. Models of development with minimal dislocation need to be adopted in preference to those that indiscriminately displace people. The existing rehabilitation policy of the government is flawed, as it does not allow the displaced people to have the status of shareholders of projects. The government should recognise the inherent rights of the local communities to resources such as land, water, minerals, forest wealth, etc. All these call for a paradigm change in the attitude of the government.

Economic development, growth and industrialisation are the outcomes of good governance, not policies based on sops, subsidies and political patronage.


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