A Critical Review of Sapiens- Yuval Noah Harari

The first thing that comes to my mind is that the book is magnificent. It gets you intrigue about the evolution of mankind. It has explored the way in which history and biology have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be a “human”. The thing I liked the most about Harari is the manner in which he has emphatically opened his views, we fall in unison with his views.

The premise of the story begins with 3 types of Revolution- The Cognitive Revolution (70,000 Years ago), The Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago) and The Scientific Revolution (500 years ago).

The first part of the book talks about how the universe was evolved. We’ve belonged to a family called ape. Human first evolved in East Africa about 2.5 years ago. The main argument about the first part is that how sapiens became the cause of extinction of other human species such as Neatherthals. Cognitive Revolution is basically a new way of thinking and communicating. Cognitive Revolution made sapiens to think about religions, myths, legends, and fantasies. Human brain was bigger than the size of the body. The dominant member of the family was the male which can be seen in most of the societies today. There existed coalitions, similar to today’s form of government.

The Cognitive Revolution forces us to think that Sapiens were living in a dual reality which Harari points out that on one side there were objective reality like rivers, trees, etc and on the other there were the imagined reality like gods, nations and co-operation. And the imagined reality overpowered us.

The Part-II of the book talks about the Agriculture Revolution. The shifts from having plucked wild figs and hunting sheep to farming are what Agricultural Revolution is all about. Sapiens devoted all their time to farming. Harari points out that 90% of the calories that we have today was domesticated in 9500 BC- 8500 BC like wheat, grains and the like. The fact that we didn’t domesticated wheat, wheat domesticated us is what really fascinates me. Human brain developed gradually for example they had an idea about what were the seeds to be produced. Harari points out that the Agricultural Revolution was the biggest mistake. But according to me it Agricultural Revolution is a great leap to humanity. Although it has brought many ailments like arthritis, slipped-disc, hernia etc but without the advent of Agricultural Revolution we couldn’t have survived because we can’t depend upon the environment as there’ll be a point where species will become extinct. The Sapiens population spread thinly over vast territories. Harari points out that increase in evolution lead to increase in human sufferings. The compelling fact about this part is that how imagined communities shaped our desires. The hierarchy system prevailed in the society. Harari also talks about the way that how in the Hindu mythology Lord Purusa created Sun, Moon, Brahmins, kshatriya, Vaishaya and Shudras with his body parts which is interesting to know.

In Part-III, in the discussion of the unification of mankind, Harari argues that political and economic interdependence increased. Empires grew and trade intensified. Barter System was established. He argues that how money, empires and religion drove us apart. Somehow I felt that he diversified from his topic in the end of the chapter.

In Part –IV of the book, the most fascinating part for me was how Harari saw Scientific Revolution as a progress of enormous power that humankind had obtained. I really liked the way he told about Modern Science, where we accept the fact that we don’t know everything. We aim to obtain new knowledge and acquire new theories about power to develop new technology. He talks about Imperial Capitalism – how credit lead to discoveries which lead to colonies lead to profits which lead to trust which further lead to more credit which is really interesting fact to know. Harari points out that how Industrial Revolution (manufacturing process) brought about global warming. He says that Industrial Revolution gave immense powers. Harari argues about the “imagined communities” which still prevails in the form of nations, empires and churches. Harari pointed that “States uses their power to kill their own citizen” is what muddles me. At the end he concludes by saying how modern technology has left us dependent and how will it overpower us in the coming years. We have mastered our surroundings, increased our food production build cities and stuffs. But with this we have invited a lot of sufferings. Had it not been happened what would be our situation? Is what comes to my mind, which  Harari fails to provide us.

India -Israel Relationship over the years!

“I” for “I” is India with Israel, and “I” for “I” is India with Israel.

As soon as the quote was commented, there were tons of articles being published about the relationship India has with Israel. Recently on 4th July,’17 Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi visited his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and other dignitaries.

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu welcoming India’s PM Narendra Modi

Looking back at the history India-Israel relationship developed in 1992 and since then their bilateral relations between them blossomed at the economic, military, agricultural and political levels.

Relation between Jurusalem(capital of Israel) and New Delhi(capital of India) were no always warm. While both countries gained Independence within month of each other, India in 1947 and Israel in 1948 – India as a leader of NAM maintained closed relations to Arab world and Soviet Union, Israel linked ties with the U.S. and Western Europe. The state of Israel was fully recognized on 17th September’1950.

In 1953, Israel was granted permission to open a consulate in Mumbai. Nehru government did not want to pursue full diplomatic relations with them, as India supported Palestine cause(Israel-Palestine conflict began in 20th century on the issues such as mutual recognition , border securities and the like) and would estranged the relations with Arab world.

India publically kept a distance from Israel until late 1980’s but in the coming years, there was in fact a great deal of bilateral activities between the two countries. India fully established its diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 only after Palestine President Yaser Arafat on board. There were two reasons for this-

  • The first was state of Israel and Arafat’s Palestine Liberation organization recognized each other for the first time.
  • The other was that there was a pressure from US AS India needed a global interface for its economy after the economic liberalization of 1991 as well as for the defense needs after the supplier USSR collapsed. It was America who asked India to accommodate Israel in its foreign policy.

Ariel Sharon became the first Prime Minister to visit India in 2003 wherein The Delhi Statement of Co-operation was signed. India–Israel co-operation increased drastically in 2014, since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Israel exported $662 million worth of Israeli weapons and defense items to India as Israel was considered to be the second largest defense supplier to India. During his visit recently, they announced partnership between these two countries and 7 agreements signed including  water management, agriculture, space, technology and agreed to create a Technology Innovation Fund worth $40 million for research and Development in industrial  sector.

Modi also issued OVERSEAS CITIZEN OF INDIA CARDS to the Indian origin who has done compulsory military service in Israel. The cards ease the difficulty of finding employment opportunities and other facilities.

The three components of India’s co-operation with Israel is of Water, Agriculture and Defense.

In terms of Water and Agriculture, Israel has a foremost technology in areas such as Rain Harvesting, use of oceanic water and using this for irrigation in dry areas. Israel is now a water surplus state and has established the water desalination technique. India is characterized by disruptive monsoon and deteriorating agriculture sector, the use of salt water from Israel is of immense importance. But the fact that India fails to benefit from is that – first the desalination plants requires a massive amount of water and then there is the misuse of desalination plant discharge which creates a havoc in the coastal areas.

In terms of Defense, the rise of Islamic Extremist Terrorists in both the nations has generated a strong alliance between them. India recently launched a military satellite for Israel through Indian Space Research Organization.

What we fail to understand is that India is treated to constant prate on how every single purchase from Israel will become a decisive factor or a key factor. Israel doesn’t produce complete military system, it’s a supplier and maker of parts and is expertise in small and medium range. It is an extremely complex process and India has no knowledge and experience in this field. This is the reason Israel refuses to share source-codes for any product that has to be integrated with Russian system (we cannot forget that Russia is the largest supplier of defense to India) for operational security reasons.

The way forward is – in the arena of methodological approach to population control and implicit methods of warfare (discussing the issue instead of a war) are important for India. In the Agricultural sphere, Israel should co-operate with India and find ways of overcoming irrigational and agricultural techniques. In the area of water, India should solve problems including land, electricity, fishing and farming.

The story of India- Israel relationship is blooming. Let’s hope that Mr. Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel can enliven to its full potential.

The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

Is the law reformative or retributive?

December 2012 was the month of shock and dismay. A horrifying incident broke all boundaries of restraints and silence and led men and women to highlight the supremacy of democracy and change.
A countrywide protest and demonstrations forced the government to take a punctilious stance against sexual assault, rapes and gang rapes and child rights. Nirbhaya is now forever etched in the minds of the people and so is the crime of the juvenile who was one of the rapists of Jyoti Singh, a medical student. Her only fault was that she was returning from a night show with a male friend. Her rapists’ reasons were that she fought back and asked for it because women of our proud country do not wander around with men before marriage.

In the event of the brutal gang rape in Delhi, not only, the new amendments were made under sexual offences of criminal law, but the criminal scope of juveniles was also widened through Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

What was the need to introduce the new Bill?

The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 was passed in the wake of public fury on the release of the juvenile after serving a maximum of three years of imprisonment. Maneka Gandhi, the Minister of Women and Child Development first introduced the amendment bill in the Parliament. The Union Cabinet approved the draft law by overriding the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee. It took almost fifteen months for the Rajya Sabha to pass the bill after the Lok Sabha. Observers believe that the Bill was hastily passed by the Parliament to calm the public anger and their sentiments.

The juvenile delinquency is a behavior not uncommon to the subject matter of criminology and sociology. But there always had been an effort to ameliorate the actions and behavior of young offenders. A belief is that the rehabilitation and care and protection of children can make their lives better. Therefore, the juvenile laws aim to protect the children found to be in conflict with the law.

The protection of child rights in India has a history since colonial times.

Under the Apprentice Act, 1850 and The Reformatory Schools of 1897 an attempt was to keep children with petty offences away from the adult criminal judicial system and to provide them reformatory institutions. Post Independence, the Children’s Bill, 1960 was passed in Parliament following the 1959 UN Declaration. It was the first central legislation on the subject of children’s rights when found in conflict with the law. Prior to this, each state had a separate juvenile legal system.

In 1980’s India became a participant to adopt the rules of the Sixth and Seventh U.N. Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Juvenile Offenders, also known as Beijing Rules. It led to the enactment of first Juvenile Judicial Act in 1986. The Act extended the protection to boys below 16 years and girls below 18 years along with the establishment of Advisory and Children’s Boards and Children’s Fund.

The 1990’s were a period of series of developments like globalization. There was also a tendency to move towards restorative justice. It is in this light of global momentum, India ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1992 and enacted Juvenile Justice Act of 2000. It called for Juvenile Justice Board and defined a juvenile as a person (whether a boy or girl) below the 18 years of age.

The new 2015 Act, is now in place of Juvenile Judicial Act, 2000.

Populist opinion and media play a significant role in politics. What prompted the government to take a new step was not only the shame that it carried on its back as the “Rape Capital of India” but also a number of misleading suggestions by the media houses to ascribe juvenile as the “most brutal” amongst the five rapists. The final move came when PILs were filed against the juvenile seeking to try him in an adult court instead of Juvenile Justice Court, as the offender was just three months short of 18 years of age.

One of the PIL petitioners and SC lawyer, Shweta Kapoor, said “ Minds of juveniles are well developed and do not need care and protection of the society. Rather society needs care and protection against them”.

However, in the history of juvenile laws, the new act has faced more dissatisfaction and opposition than any other legislation introduced before.

One step forward, two steps back.  The JJ Act, 2015 is a regressive law and unsupportive of the international juvenile system.

Let’s take a look at the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 to understand its viability.

1) The bill mandates people between16 and 18 years of age will have an adult trial for heinous crimes like rape and murder, punishable with imprisonment of seven years or more (Section 2)

2) It gives authority to Juvenile Justice Board (which now includes a group of psychologists and sociologists) to decide whether a child between 16-18 years of age be tried as an adult.

3) The bill adopts some changes like the period of preliminary assessment of juvenile offenders is increased to 3 months to assess the capacity of child’s crime.

4) It introduces foster care system in India and makes adoption process of orphaned and abandoned children more efficient by adopting the concepts of Hague Convention and Inter-Country Adoption, 1993.

5) The proper implementation and juvenile cases are under the authority of National and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

6) The Act under the care and protection chapter includes many offences that did not appear in any other laws. These include kidnapping and abduction of children, giving of narcotic drugs, intoxicating liquor and tobacco products, illegal adoption or sale or procurement of children, use of children in militant or terrorist groups and offences against disabled children.

 

It is, however, important to note that the new law did not apply to the juvenile involved in Nirbhaya gang rape as it has a non-retrospective effect. CPI (M)’s Sitaram Yechury who walked out of the House in protest of the bill, also invoked this point.

The whole idea of providing a stringent punishment to the juvenile that began with the demands of Nirbhaya’s parents was rather fruitless and created hurdles for the young offenders who will now face an adult trial. But the proponents of the bill believe that it’s a measure to scare them with harsher punishment to bring a change.

Book Review: Imperium by Robert Harris

The Roman Republic has always had an unusual place in the pages of world history. Indeed, we attribute a great deal of importance to the Roman culture that stands as an example to modern society. From it’s political structure of self-governance and bicameralism to the idea of “innocent, until proven guilty; its principles are known for shaping the ideas of citizenship, justice and politics.

Thus, Robert Harris’s endeavor, by tapping into the exciting period of Roman History produced his most famous novel The Imperium. First, of the trilogy, the novel traces the political journey of Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great statesman, orator and advocate.

Harris has a brilliant knack for turning insipid events of history into a stimulating fictional drama. Though Harris wrote the novel, the narration is in first-person by Tiro, Cicero’s slave but also his secretary and confidante. Cicero was an astute thinker and his composition of books, letters and speeches are the finest works of literature in Roman history. Tiro, the inventor of shorthand, remained loyal and always by his side. He described his life with Cicero as “ exciting, then astonishing, then arduous, and finally extremely dangerous.”

Cicero was considered a self-made man of his time. Often, there is a great admiration for a person with grit and perseverance. He cleverly outmanoeuvred his rivals to succeed to the most powerful position in Roman politics- the consul.

Not everyone is born successful. Even Cicero had to struggle with his health and stutter. With the professional help of Apollonius Molon, the Greek rhetorician, he became one of the powerful orators in Roman history.

A philosopher and an orator, Cicero’s fame was not unknown to the Romans. His sharp memory of remembering names, his public affection for his daughter Tullia, and his idea of fair justice were simultaneously on par with his insecurities, jealousy and his ruthless ambition.

According to Tiro, Imperium is “the power of life and death as vested by the state in an individual” and Harris emphasized on how power politics requires a man, who without a credible background had to risk his principles to reach the high level of political power of Imperium.

Cicero believed in the Roman judicial system, and as the book records, Cicero was determined to bring justice to the people who were cheated and robbed by Gaius Verres (governor of Sicily), which gained him the reputation of people’s champion. But at the same time, he was also afraid to ruin his image in the eyes of the Romans. His motive, in the end, was to achieve consulship, even if he had to defend the corrupt Marcus Fonteius, the former governor of Further Gaul.

However, Harris clearly shows that a true politician needs to be shrewd and pliant. Throughout the novel, Cicero found himself tangled between different social circles.

Despite all the efforts and endurance in collecting the evidence and witnesses against Verres, Cicero knew that the only way to win the case was to gain the support and friendship of Pompey. He even manipulated the Senate and the Romans to pass the two important laws Lex Gabinia and Lex Manilia in favor of Pompey. It eventually led to the fall of Roman Republic.

Such was the power of the aristocracy that the Roman Republic stood only for its name. Though each Roman class had voting rights, only the high-class aristocrats had a say in elections. The political system of Rome did not guarantee equal participation. What made Cicero popular amongst the people was his achievement without any aid, great wealth, powerful family and or a commanding army.

Cicero’s brothers, friends and Tiro- all played an instrumental role in his political career. But an exceptional and always a forgotten character in history is Cicero’s wife, Terentia. Though he married her only for money to become the senator, she was both supportive and critical of his tactics. Cicero often had to prove himself to her and twice in the book (the idea of short speech during Verres’ prosecution and her idea to form an alliance with the aristocrats to outplay Crassus and Catiline) had helped him surmount his struggles.

In the words of Tiro, “Cicero did not always emerge as a paragon of virtue” but his voice was so impactful that it was essential, to tell the truth about his dangerous and tactful venture in Roman politics.

Harris did a great job to prove the words of Tiro. His persuasive style creates a profound link between the story and its readers. A fast paced novel as this is sure to woo even to those who are uninterested in studying history.

Mexico: A Beginning of the Debt Crisis in 1980’s

1980’s was a watershed period for the Latin American economies especially Mexico that faced major financial and economic crisis from the late 1970s to 1980s. It is often known as the period of lost decade due to defaulting on sovereign debt by Latin American countries.

The crisis culminated due to mismanagement of fiscal and monetary policies of different government regimes of Mexico that proposed such policies.

Post World War II, Mexico followed an economic policy based on Import Substitution Model (a model that focused on internal development strategy by limiting the imports and encouraging regulated domestic markets in the country). Thus, from 1954 to 1972, Mexico claimed to have an era of Stabilizing Development (SD) or Mexico Miracle. It was a period of high economic growth and low inflation (3.5%). The major economic policies were introduced under President Miguel Alemán Valdés’s (1946-52) to maintain an overall price stability and a fixed exchange rate (fixed at 12.5 pesos per dollar). It allowed an economic structure that included private capital accumulation to stimulate industrial expansion along with high growth rates of agricultural output.

The high economic stability underwent a radical change under the presidential administration of Luis Echeverría Álvarez (1970-76). Under his regime, expansionary fiscal policy increased public spending in social development projects. In the succeeding five years, general government employment doubled and the share of total public sector spending in GDP jumped from 20.5 percent to 30 percent.

However, according to macroeconomic principles, as much as expansionary fiscal polices increase the aggregate demand that in turn helps in increasing the employment rates in the economy and high economic growth, if undeterred at the full capacity of the economy, it can cause high rates of inflation and fiscal deficit. Consequently, inflation rose above 20% in 1973-74 and another side effect of the fiscal policy was the crowding out. Since the government spending concentrated in the public sector, it led to a negative impact on private investment that slumped from 14 percent of GDP (at 1970 prices) in 1971 to 12.7 percent in 1975. The situation worsened with the disequilibrium of the balance of payments that led to a current account deficit of $4.4 billion in 1975.

Thus, Álvarez’s economic policies were a complete failure. Under his regime GDP grew at only 3.1%, slightly less than 3.7% under previous governments. An expansionary fiscal policy with high spending on education and other productive projects helps in long-term productivity. But the government failed to make such projects, as the priority was more on state-owned enterprises. The deterioration of the balance of payments led to a sixty percent devaluation in the peso at a fixed exchange rate of 12.5 peso per dollar.

Mexico was predominantly an agricultural economy with phases of industrial expansion undertaken by the government and a net importer of oil but this changed under President Lopez Portillo.

Years Real GDP per capita growth Inflation Current Account Deficit
1954-72 3.7% 3.5% -1.5%
Post 1972 3.1% 20% -2.9%

Source: IMF

In 1976, due to several unstable economic pressures, President Lopez Portillo replaced the political regime of Álvarez. To overturn the economic situation, Portillo made an arrangement of a stabilizing program of fiscal austerity with the IMF under Extended Fund Facility over the next three years (1976-79).

Positive Impact of IMF Intervention Pre 1976 1979
Fiscal Deficit (%of GDP) 9.9 6.7
Inflation (%) 27.2 20
Current Account Deficit $4.4 billion $2.2 billion

Source: IMF

The IMF intervention helped Mexico regained its reputation as one of the promising developing countries. The main reason for this positive impression was the two oil shocks in 1970’s and the discovery of oil reserves in Mexico. This placed Mexico in an advantageous position because in the period of oil shocks, Mexico became the primary exporter of oil. Moreover, the developed countries like the US encouraged by Mexico’s successful stabilizing program and economic growth extended bank loans to Mexico.

However, Portillo’s administration entered in an economic quagmire where rampant corruption and mismanagement prevailed and soon buoyed by the oil wealth, the IMF program was dropped and replaced by new expansionary fiscal policies. This was one of the first mistakes in the policy implementation due to the over optimistic picture of oil revenue wealth that eventually led to a fiscal deficit.

The new policy continued the Álvarez’s Public Expenditure-Led Growth (PELG) plan that entailed large development plans to increase real government spending. It also stimulated private sector investment from 11.7% to 14.1% in 1981.

The expansionary fiscal policies led to following changes:

Years From 1976 To 1981
Real GDP per capita (in US $) 4,973 6,467
Real GDP growth rate (%) 6.82 0.91
Inflation 27.20 28.61

Source: IMF

Though the policy reform led to some changes, it didn’t bring about a structural economic change. The inflation began to increase from 1978 and reached to high levels of 28.61% in 1981.

By early 1981, the share of Mexican oil market and export prices of oil began to decline, as the world economy entered a recession. This led to a sharp increase in the interest rates on short-term loans in contrast to near zero interest rates that the US commercial banks offered Mexico earlier. However, without analyzing the risk of borrowing more loans, the national oil company, PEMEX in the hope of continued demand for high quality of oil exported it without lowering down the prices.

The increase in fiscal deficit was offset by the reluctance of the banks to lend money and borrowed only at high interest rates. From 6.7% (in GDP), the overall fiscal deficit grew to 14.7% in 1981. By the end of 1982, the foreign debt grew to $81 billion. Inflation increased with an annual rate of 100 percent and real per capita GDP declined 8.1 percent.

In late 1982, Mexican Finance Minister Jesús Silva Herzog revealed the situation of the unsustainable debt crisis and that Mexico failed to service its debt to the lenders. The revelation brought out a bigger picture of the World debt crisis in 1982 and the incautious approach of the commercial banks to extend loans without considering the high risk of deficit involved. It also marked the end of new foreign lending and Import Substitution Model in Mexico.

Several efforts were made to leverage the economic situation that was marked by rising stagflation, high interest rates, and increased outflow of money from Mexico. Portillo responded by nationalizing the banks, introduced a system of exchange control, and devalued the peso by more than 260 per cent.

With the end of Portillo’s regime, the new President De La Madrid, restarted the structural reform program with IMF and with it Mexico’s economy set on a transition from ISM to the neo-liberal model of economy. Fiscal discipline was rigidly enforced and the consolidated public sector deficit relative to the GDP was halved from 17.6 percent to 8.9 percent. Drastic measures were taken to expand the export earnings and cut back the imports. This helped in trade surplus that rose to $12.8 billion.

Years From 1982 To 1985
Inflation (%) 98.87 63
Real GDP per capita growth rate -8.12 1.76

Source: IMF

However, such reform policies could not reduce the inflation rate that accelerated to 105% post 1985. The causes of the rising inflation were the contraction of domestic output and continued devaluation of the peso. Moreover, the situation worsened with another oil shock in 1986 and two earthquakes in Mexico post 1985. As the fiscal policies provided hardly any improvement in the economy, two Pacts- Pact for Economic Solidarity and Pact for Stability and Economic Growth were signed in 1987 to introduce a fusion of orthodox fiscal and monetary policy with income policy (limiting of the nominal wage increase to control the inflation) in short-term phases.

Hence, the economic changes along with the government policies moved Mexico to make a transition from inward-looking development strategy to outward and open market policies. The periodical fluctuation in the inflation and current account deficit rates show that poor policies of the government without considering the precautions and risks of the fiscal policies can have a negative impact on the economy along with the impression of distrust in foreign markets.

Bibliography

  • Buffie, Edward, and Allen Sangines Krause. “Mexico (1958-86): From the Stabilizing Developement to Debt Crisis.” Developing Country Debt and the World Economy (The National Bureau of Economic Research), 1989: 141-168.
  • International Monetory Fund. “The Mexican Crisis: No Mountain too High?” The Crisis Erupts 1982.
  • Gould, David M. “Mexico: Looking Back To Assess the Future.”
  • Kim, Kwan S. “Mexico: The Debt Crisis and Options for Development Strategy.” (The Helen Kellogg Institute of International Studies) September 1986.

Behind the Fog

When secrecy can harm the very purpose of having an intelligence organization in a State

Sitting in a café with friends sometimes makes one want to talk of complex global concerns. If for nothing else, then just to sound erudite to the person sitting on the table next to yours. And then there are times when this royally backfires.

So as my friend and I sat discussing intelligence agencies around the world, he mentioned China and that one word brought a hard-stop to the discussion. None of us could name the Chinese intelligence agency. Not that we are encyclopedias and that our not knowing, was a total shocker but still we could recall no mention of it in newspapers or in broadcast news. Anywhere!

I quickly made a run-through of all the intelligence agencies that I could recall- CIA, Mossad, R&AW, ISI but all the mind-palace efforts couldn’t help me stumble on the name. So finally, we pulled out our smartphones to clear the mystery.

-Ministry of State Security.

MSS was formed in 1983 and oversees counter-intelligence, amassing data from around the globe and political security. Not so astonishingly, it can even arrest citizens on violation of state security matters, unlike other intelligence agencies around the globe.

The MSS doesn’t work for the welfare of the people but for the maintenance of the Communist Party’s autocratic rule.

The Chinese name for MSS is Guojia Anquan Bu or GAB and it handles operations for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, spy handling, cyber security technical intelligence and foreign liaison.

During its initial years, Deng Xiaoping didn’t want the MSS to recruit spies but to employ businessmen, journalists who would have a natural existing cover to aid questioning of any sort on the international front. He thought that operating from under the MSS would have more information fall into China’s lap than via a façade of institutions, which would end up raising more eyebrows and investing in cover-ups than actual work.

There is a second civilian intelligence agency called MPS- Ministry of Public Security which supports information security research and engages to a lesser degree in domestic intelligence operations. Military intelligence, on the other hand falls under PLA(People’s Liberation Army).

china3

Most countries with populations more than 5 million have intelligence agencies asset up. Even Hong Kong had managed to set up a “political department’ to cater to such needs before it was returned to China’s control. But in a county of 1.3 billion such as China, talk of such an organization is taboo and non – existent in mass media conversations or official documents.

How do the citizens perceive the ‘intelligence agency’ which has transformed into ‘secret service’? Many concerned netizens have asked for reforms urgently to ensure transparency and instill a supervising mechanism in place for the Chinese intelligence. But first of all, China needs to officially admit the existence of such agencies which can allow for accountability by people or even relevant government agencies.

It has become a trend for scholars of comparative politics to overlook intelligence agencies as mere components of government information processing units. They miss the crucial role played by them in maintaining state power and in formulating international policies. The matter of policy interventions by an unchecked intelligence community, functioning on certain biases will lead to misguided decisions that can spell disaster for the country.

Taking US’s example, its intelligence agencies moved from “non-existence” to public scrutiny after the1960s, which led to unearthing of many scandals and direct control by the White House and Congress. Now, however damaging, be these scandals, they are atleast proof of the checks in place and reflect on the active-passive state of the agency.

But then yet again, ‘transparency’ in a secret service organization seems incompatible. Doesn’t the nature of the work itself incorporate discretion ? Also, the Snowden leaks have revealed, how little tabs governments can actually place on top intelligence bodies.

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China differs in another aspect — of reporting the information to the government. It does not have an official way of integrated reporting into considered strategic analysis, or the ability to distill assessments into a single holistic view. Chinese intelligence agencies, both military and civilian, also have components that operate at the provincial level, leading to regional differences in their analysis, performance and equipment. With multiple layers between the intelligence sources and China’s leaders, it’s probable that what reaches the top levels has been influenced by multiple procedures and biases, leading to a less reliable finished intelligence product. It’s important to remember that an authoritarian system isn’t necessarily a unified one.

The primary purpose of the MSS today is to be the panopticon in China. In Michel Foucaults’ Discipline and Punish, he mentions the Panopticon to be a circular building with a tower in the middle from where an observer can watch anything and everything – Non-stop surveillance. But for Foucault, panopticism wasn’t an intrusive term but an encouragement to economic productivity and social harmony.

But what he doesn’t take into consideration is what happens when the watchman starts abusing such all prevailing power, which is exactly the case with MSS and MPS today.

Hope China clears the fog.

Gandhiji’s Relevance in the 21st Century

Why I feel Gandhi ji’s Ideologies are highly relevant in today’s world.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a name whom no one can ever forget for all he did to get India its freedom from the British colonialism. He echoed the dreams of the colonized Indian nation. Just like a desired father who takes every responsibility of his children, Gandhi bore the hope of the millions of Indians who were bowed under the weights of years of slavery.  He was a man who could speak to the crowd with his virtue and befriend with the king while not lose touch with the common man.

Gandhi’s ideologies are not just for politics or economies or societies but for the way of living. His philosophy can be incorporated at every stage of life in every century and that’s what his relevance is all about. Many people will see Gandhi as a freedom fighter but he was much more than that. His staunch belief in non violence was his power to win every battle. It takes a lot of courage to face the lathi (police stick) when you are empty handed. We are living in a world where there are such high rates of crimes and the only way to counterattack all the evils can be fought with non violence because non violence does not give birth to the feelings of hatred and revenge.

Gandhi was a man ahead of his times. He foresaw many of the problems which we are facing today. In 1927 he wrote “a time is coming when those who are in the mad rush today of multiplying their want will retrace their steps and say, what we have done?”

If we look closely we would know that much of our contemporary problems are due to unnecessary development. Due to industrialization and high technology are creating ample amount of waste which we don’t know what to do with. We also don’t know what to do with the huge stack of nuclear weapons that the world powers have. Only a part of these nuclear weapons are enough to destroy the entire world more than once. If a part of this money would have been spent for social welfare agendas then world would have been a better place to leave in. Since we live in a capitalist world we only believe in accumulating more and more which force us to create market demand for every possible goods and services. Gandhi could foresee this and thus he wrote in Hind Swaraj (1980) that the modern civilization is a few days’ wonder and then it will sink into its own weight.

When Gandhi was preaching Swaraj he didn’t only meant self rule but also to become independent from the British way of living. Today after so many decades of India’s independence we see how much West driven our life and the entire system of Government are. British left India physically but mentally we are still slaves of British in our way of thinking and working. The white collar jobs have been replaced and given to the browns and nothing else changed. Gandhi never supported the Westminster form of Government for it divides the society into two – rules and the ruled. This form of Government gives the power into the hands of a few whereas in case of a decentralized form of Government power is shared among many which help to reduce corruption and advocates for better governance.

Gandhi strongly believed in secularism and had to give up his life for being a secular at heart. Today’s world has a different meaning of secularism. For now secularism has become just to respect one’s own religious which is a paradox to what Gandhi had preached all his life. Gandhi has lived for poor. He believed that God lived in poor but the increasing number of poor and their sad living condition shows how Gandhi’s ideologies are falling today. Gandhi could feel that the cities would always remain unstable as they are man made and not natural. Whereas Gandhi believed that villages where mostly of the population resides are natural and are far more sustainable. In order to have a sustainable livelihood villages have to developed and utilized efficiently. Gandhi believed that even politics has to be dealt with moral values which we can’t see in today’s politics. Politics has become a bad word now. Politics doesn’t mean service for the public anymore but to be powerful.

Gandhi’s ideologies are very much needed to be practiced in the current world of growing inequalities between the rich and the poor. The world which is a witness to so much of terrorism, torture toward the females and children needs to be under control and only Gandhian philosophy of living can achieve that. Although many people would praise Gandhism but they would deny practicing them in real life as they would say that Gandhism is not realistic. Gandhi has become a figure of history. Everyone believes that his ideologies were just great to fly away the British but that’s not just what Gandhi meant to do. He wanted to make people realize the value of truth, non-violence and Swaraj (as per Gandhi’s understandings) and implement them in their way of living. The day Gandhi’s ideas of Sarvodaya, Swaraj, truth and non violence would take off the world would be the best place to reside.

For the people who believe that Gandhi was against science and technology I would like to say that he was not against technological advancement but was a pro people and protective of the environment personality. He thought no matter how much we develop in terms of technology we should attain sustainable ways of livelihood and if technology hampers sustainable living then it makes no sense to develop our technology.

Gandhi’s ideologies are only remaining in the pages of books which need to be fleshed out in front of the present world because I strongly believe that Gandhism is the instrument to make the world a better place.