Princely States, Jinnah and Sardar Patel

In 1947, India consisted of parts directly ruled by British and parts ruled by princely states. Prince states were creation of British to keep India divided. Princely states were loyal to British and opposed to Congress and its demand for independence.

Finally, when both independence and partition of India became unavoidable, they started dreaming about forming independence states (just like Pakistan). They were actively supported by British civil servant Sir Conrad Laurence Corfield.

“I charge the political department and Corfield particularly with misfeasance. I consider that a judicial enquiry at the highest level into their actions is necessary.”

-Jawaharlal Nehru

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Jinnah was very unhappy with the deal he got- “truncated, moth eaten Pakistan”. He wanted to expand boundaries of Pakistan. For this princely states were ideal targets. He tried to convince princes of Jodhpur and Border States to join Pakistan. He was also in touch with rulers of Bhopal and Hyderabad as they were Muslims.

“ Jinnah Sahib told us if we joined our states to Pakistan, he would transfer border district with Rajput population from Sindh province to our states, give us free access to Karachi port and complete autonomy.”

-Hanwant Singh of Jodhpur

Had princely states remained independent (or joined Pakistan), it would have been threat to newly independent India.

“The main task before India today is to consolidate herself into a well-knit and united power…”

-Sarder Patel

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Encouraged by Jinnah, King Hanwant Singh of Jodhpur decided to join Pakistan. Hanwant Singh was an interesting guy. First he married a Rajput girl called Krishan Kumari, and then he married a British girl Sandra McBryde and then married a Muslim actress Zubeida. He wanted Jodhpur to remain independent to so that he could maintain his royal life style (he used to travel by plane in state were common mode of transport was bullock cart) .He tried to negotiate with both India and Pakistan for independence of Jodhpur. But then Home Minister of India Sardar Patel was very clear about future of princely states- they had to join India. Hanwant died in plane crash with his wife Zubeida.

 

“But what more” demanded Hanwant Singh, bringing to their (Mountbatten and V.P Menon’s) attention Jinnah’s generous terms, “can India offer me?”

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Infact, three key players Nehru, Mountbatten and Patel, didn’t see any role for princes in independent India. Princes were dinosaurs, creatures from different era, who were totally misfit in democratic republic of India. Finally all princely states joined India.

 

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Black Swan, Internet and Placement Agencies

Nassim Taleb has written book called “The Black Swan” where he talks about Black Swan Theory.

The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.

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The Black Swan event is something nobody could foresee happening, but once it happens and upsets their world, everyone tries to find explanation for that and claim that it was predictable (infact some will claim that they knew it was going to happen)

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Nassim Taleb gives example of turkey. A farmer feeds turkey for 1000 days.  Based on existing data turkey comes to conclusion that farmer is a nice guy who has welfare of turkey in mind,  and thing will be better in future, but a day before Thanksgiving it gets killed. Based on existing data turkey could not predict this death.

“Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird’s belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race ‘looking out for its best interests,’ as a politician would say.

“On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.”

-Nassim Taleb

Infact just before black swan event optimism is at its peak and people feel that nothing can go wrong and future will get better.

“Consider that [the turkey’s] feeling of safety reached its maximum when the risk was at the highest!”

-Nassim Taleb

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In 80’s and 90’s the placement agencies in India had a great time, they could command fee equal to 25%-33% of annual salary of individual hired. In early nineties then Finance Minister of India Manmohan Singh opened Indian economy, with this hopes of placement agencies went up, from now on it was rise and rise for placement agencies or so they thought.

'These days I spend most of the time trying to find a job myself.'

But then came internet (Black Swan) resulting in something no placement agency had dreamed about- online job portals, apps like Facebook and LinkedIn etc. This new model took away major chuck of business from placement agencies.

Could placement agencies back in 90’s predict power of Facebook, Linkedin or Whatsapp? Not at all! But you will still find “experts” who will claim that they saw this coming.

Strawman Fallacy, Checker’s Speech, Richard Nixon

“Not one cent of the $18,000 or any other money of that type ever went to me for my personal use. Every penny of it was used to pay for political expenses”

-Checker’s speech

Strawman fallacy or Aunt Sally fallacy is a fallacy in which an opponent’s argument is overstated or misrepresented in order to be more easily attacked or refuted.

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In US one senator supported stem cell research, his opponents argued that he was supporting use of unborn babies for medical research- classical Strawman fallacy.

Leftist politicians in India (for that matter all over world) are famous for such arguments. Any policy towards land acquisition is seen as capitalist conspiracy to destroy India’s independence (ignoring the fact that communist government acquired land of farmers with strong arm tactics in Bengal)

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“But just let me say this last word. Regardless of what happens I’m going to continue this fight. I’m going to campaign up and down America until we drive the crooks and the Communists and those that defend them out of Washington”

-Checker’s speech

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President Nixon of US was accused of misappropriation of election funds ($18000), but during televised speech to nation, he shifted his argument from election funds to gift he had taken- a dog called Checkers, which his children were very fond of and he was not going to return the gift. The speech was big hit, people forgot about election funds, but only remembered Checkers. It is called as Checkers speech.

“It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas. Black and white spotted. And our little girl—Tricia, the 6-year-old—named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

-Checker’s speech

Checker’s speech- a Strawman fallacy- helped Nixon to win elections and become Vice President. He later became president of US and finally lost his presidency due to Watergate scandal.

 

But Nixon had mastery in strawman fallacy- after resigning (due to Watergate scandal) instead of admitting mistakes; he gave speech with strawman fallacy.

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“Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, “whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”

-Nixon, post-Watergate scandal.

 

 

 

Self-Sabotage, Lizard Brain, Rat Park Experiment

“It’s not like I’m shooting myself in the foot,” said Whitney. “It’s more like I’m using my entire body for target practice. With guns in both hands.”

-Martha Beck

We have fears- fear not getting a job, fear of not doing well in job, fear of losing job, fear of uncertain future etc. This fear is due to limbic system of brain, also called “Lizard Brain”, since in case of lizards limbic system is the brain. Limbic system is the seat of emotions, addictions, moods, anxiety etc. In case of fear it has only two responses – fight or flight.

During evolution human brain also became complex and it is capable of doing things beyond Lizard Brain.

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But we still listen to our lizard brain resulting in self sabotage. Two self-sabotage techniques are

  1. Fear of losing/ failing in _________ ( you can fill in the blank)
  2. Procrastination, we use procrastination as façade to hide our fears. Lizard brain argument is- currently situation is not favourable to do new things, I will do it when things become perfect i.e. I have plenty of money/time/education etc. By delaying decisions/avoiding risk we confine ourselves to world with which we are familiar, soon safety becomes addiction ( feature of lizard brain) and we refuse to come out of it.

Canadian psychologist Bruce Alexander conducted an experiment on rats. He came with a hypothesis that addiction is not due to drugs (which refutes the existing belief, that if person starts taking drugs, he becomes addicted to it). He claimed that addiction was due to living conditions and not due to addictive property of drug itself.

Initially he put rats in small cages with poor living conditions, when given option between plain water and water with morphine mixed in it, the rats went for morphine.

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Then he built a rat park (rat equivalent of Disney Land), with plenty of space, food, toys etc. Now given option between drugged water and plain water, the rats went for plain water; they were not interested in drugs. Addiction was due to living conditions.

“Hopeful thinking can get you out of your fear zone and into your appreciation zone”

-Martha Beck

Our self-sabotage mindset is like cage, we get addicted to failure, but once we broaden our mind with plenty of ideas and possibilities (Rat Park) we can get rid of failure mindset.

 

Nassim Taleb, Ugly Indian and Girl Child

Nassim Taleb is an American statistician, who wrote a book called “Fooled by Randomness”. Taleb feels that humans underestimate randomness. They try to explain a random outcomes as not random i.e. find explanation for random event, when none exists.

He gives an example of elephant shaped clouds. People tend to see elephants in clouds when in fact it is just a random formation of clouds.

One class of ugly Indians is evil mothers in law. They marry their sons for two purposes- produce grandson (no granddaughter please! if discovered in womb, just kill her) and to extract as much as they can from the bride in from of dowry, gifts etc.

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If bride fails in any one of them (or both) then punishment can be severe, ranging from domestic violence to death.

“People say in old age sons come in handy. Had that been true, so many old age homes would not have opened. Sons have cars and bungalows and yet, many times, parents remain in old age homes. On the other hand, there are innumerable daughters who work hard to keep their parents happy. If girls get the chance, they perform better than boys.”

-Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

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Birth of girl child is a random event, but ugly Indians don’t think so. They have their own theory of genetics, which will confuse even Gregor Mendel.

According to them birth of girl child has nothing to do with chance, it has it do with genetics and anatomy. One explanation is if bride comes from family where cases of birth of girl child are more then, bride is most likely to produce a girl child- so in case of girl child blame bride. There is an unwritten contract wherein birth of girl child is sole responsibility of wife, husband will be held innocent, but if opposite happens then husband takes the credit.

 

Molasses, Rum and Slaves

During 18th and 19th century a new type of economy developed between regions of three continents- America, Europe and Africa. America produced cash crops like sugarcane, tobacco and cotton. This raw material (ex. molasses), was then exported the Europe where it was converted into rum and other manufactured good. These were then exported countries of West Africa, where goods were exchanged for slaves. Slaves were then exported America, where they worked in sugarcane fields, tobacco and cotton plantation.

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Slaves worked harder and harder to produce more raw materials, which inturn resulted in more rum and other manufactured goods, resulting in purchase of more slaves.

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Molasses to rum to slaves

‘Tisn’t morals, ’tis money that saves

Shall we dance to the sound

Of the profitable pound

In molasses and rum and slaves

-1776, “Molasses to Rum”

Owners of this trade were Europeans and they made lot of money, which resulted in high standard of living for Europeans, while slaves who were at bottom of hierarchy lived a miserable life.

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Question was how Europeans managed to get so many slaves. One source was capturing regions of Africa and enslaving the people of captured regions, other source was tie up with African rulers who sold prisoners of war to Europeans. African rulers found this a good source of income, as they could get rum and other goods in exchange of prisoners which they would have anyway killed.

“African chiefs were the ones waging war on each other and capturing their own people and selling them. If anyone should apologise it should be the African chiefs. We still have those traitors here even today.”

-President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda

Two painters visited Latin America and through they painted for royal families, they also developed interest in life of common people esp. African slaves and American Indians. Their paintings depict treatment of slaves in America.

 

Johann Moritz Rugendas was a German painter, who visited several countries of American continent and his paintings give us glimpse of life of slave and conditions under which they were forced to live.

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Jean-Baptiste Debret was French Painter who took interest in black slaves and native people of Brazil. He did several paintings depicting life of these people. Unfortunately, his paintings were not a commercial success and he died poor.

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Dido Elizabeth Belle, Slavery and Jane Austen

“The real names of our people were destroyed during slavery. The last name of my forefathers was taken from them when they were brought to America and made slaves, and then the name of the slave master was given, which we refuse; we reject that name today and refuse it. I never acknowledge it whatsoever.”

-Malcolm X

 In 1791 a ship was carrying slaves from West Africa to Caribbean.  Jim Kimber was captain of this ship. The slaves were forced to work in sugarcane fields in Caribbean. The fields and slaves were owned by Europeans who made fortune by using slaves.

Before we go ahead with the story, something more about slave trade, the European slave traders used to kidnap Africans and then they were transported to various parts of world as slaves. Once they were kidnapped and branded as slave, they ceased to be humans; they were like trade inventory – a perishable commodity. They were dumped in ships and while transporting a periodic check was done of slaves- men, women and children. Those who were ill or unhealthy were labelled as damaged goods and where thrown in sea. The inventory was insured, so if slave died for reasons other than natural reasons then the owner could claim insurance amount. One way to keep inventory in good condition was to expose inventory to fresh air, this was done by forcing slaves to dance.

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“God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners”

-William Wilberforce, Anti-slavery activist in 1787

Coming back to our story, one young girl refused to dance. Jim Kimber did not like it at all, he had girl hung upside down and started flogging her. Girl died due to ill treatment. In Britain some people decided to try Jim Kimber for murder, but Kimber was acquitted.

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Ten years earlier in 1781, a ship called “Zong” was carrying slaves to Caribbean. During voyage the ship faced shortage of drinking water. The crew decided that if they were to survive, they should get rid of inventory. They worked out a strategy to get rid of inventory and in return earn cash. If they threw slaves in sea, they will get rid of inventory and by claiming insurance get cash. 133 slaves consisting of men, women and children were thrown in sea, when one slave managed to climb back, he was again thrown back (Sorry, our quality policy does not allow us to take back damaged goods)

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After getting rid of slaves, the owners of Zong went to insurance company to claim insurance, but company refused to pay. The owners went to court. The case came before Chief Justice, the Earl of Mansfield. Earl of Mansfield had in another case-Somerset v Stewart (1772) – had held that slave James Somerset cannot be sold by owner Charles Stewart against his will (Stewart wanted to sell Somerset to a slave owner in Jamaica), so Somerset had to be set free.

“…no master ever was allowed here to take a slave by force to be sold abroad because he had deserted from his service, or for any other reason whatever; we cannot say the cause set forth by this return is allowed or approved of by the laws of this kingdom, therefore the black must be discharged.”

-Earl of Mansfield in Somerset v Stewart case

Chief Justice after hearings arguments concluded that the insurers were not liable for losses, because deaths were result of errors committed by the Zong’s crew. Crew was not tired for murders.

A British naval officer Sir John Lindsay had affair with an African slave called Marie Belle in West Indies. Marie Belle gave birth to a daughter called Dido Elizabeth Belle in 1761. John decided to take Dido to England and keep her under care of his uncle William Murray.

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His uncle and aunt had adopted an orphaned niece called Elizabeth Murray, who was born in 1760. They were looking for a companion for their niece. Dido then 4 years old became Elizabeth Murray’s companion. William Murray treated Dido well, at par with his niece. Dido lived in their house for 30 years, she married a steward called John Davinier. They had three children. Dido died at the age of 43.

Her son Charles joined East India Company and was stationed in Madras- Vanakkam Saar!

It is said that Dido’s presence influenced William Murray’s judgements in cases related to slavery. William Murry was Chief Justice and Earl of Mansfield, we have talked about earlier.

A film was made on Dido in 2013.

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British author Jane Austen had probably heard about this story from her brothers, who were naval officers. This could have been inspiration for her novel “Mansfield Park” which was published in 1814, a decade after Dido died. Heroine of novel Fanny Price is daughter of a poor naval officer, who at the age of 10 is sent to stay with her aunt Lady Bertram and cousins at Mansfield Park. Her husband Sir Thomas Bertram is wealthy man who owns sugarcane fields in Antigua, where slaves work in his sugarcane fields. Jane Austen does not take any moral stand on issue of slavery, her characters are not concerned about slavery, they are more interested in politics at Mansfield Park.

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“All the evidence says that even the most routine aspects of holding slaves on a West Indian sugar plantation were cruel stuff. And everything we know about Jane Austen and her values is at odds with the cruelty of slavery. Fanny Price reminds her cousin that after asking Sir Thomas about the slave trade, “there was such a dead silence” as to suggest that one world could not be connected with the other since there simply is no common language for both. That is true.”

-Edward Said, professor of English at Columbia University