معمارِ حرم باز بہ تعمیرِ جہاں خیز
از خوابِ گِراں خوابِ گِراں خوابِ گِراں خیز
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ادھر آ ستمگر ہنر آزمائیں
تو تیر آزما ہم جِگر آزمائیں

Friday, 29 August 2008

Narcotics and Western Imperialism

According to Oxford dictionary, the word narcotics means; an additive drug affecting mood or behaviour. The word also means a drug which induces drowsiness, stupor, or insensibility and relieves pain. Some of the drugs which fall under the category are mandrake root, Opium, Heroin which is an opium derivative and Cocaine. In legal context, narcotic refers to Opium, its derivatives and Cocaine.

Narcotics in general and Opium in particular have a very dreadful history. It reminds me of events during the beginning of the 19th century. When British came to the then Indian Sub-continent as traders, this trade was not limited to sub-continent. Trading expanded to China as well but using Indian Sub-Continent as a base. The problem occurred when the British realized that their trade was heavily in the favour of Chinese because they did not have anything to sell to Chinese. In order to balance the trade British started growing opium in the Bengal. This region had already been conquered from Mughal Empire of India. Slowly and gradually whole of the land of Bengal which was previously used to plant food crops for the whole of eastern region of the empire was forced to grow Opium, because it was bringing in money to the British. What were the effects of this move? The people adversely affected by this move were Chinese and Bengalis. British were able to turn the balance of trade in their favour within a couple of years at the cost of Bengalis who had to face famine because British didn’t allow any food crop to be planted and Chinese whose whole society was being destroyed because of opium addiction. But who cares, if the ancestors of today’s civilized world played with the lives of millions of people to gain wealth for the crown?

Did the locals not complain? Did the Chinese sit quietly and wait for the slow destruction of their society? When Bengalis had nothing to satisfy their hunger, they rebelled against British. The rebellion was successfully squashed and later the people were ruthlessly massacred villages were set on fire and their residents burnt alive. Those who tried to run off were shot by the British army supervising cremation. But in this case the people were alive. This is the past of today’s civilized world. Are you not surprised when they raise the slogan against Nazis for massacre of Jews? Are you not surprised when these people acting as saviours of the free world invade Serbia and Iraq and charge their leaders of war crimes and genocide? I would not say that I was against the ousting of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic or a supporter of the genocide that they carried out. But I am questioning the real motive of these saviours of civilized world, behind these steps. Could it not be money this time again? Or to dominate the region for that matter?
At the other front when Chinese government resisted destruction of their society because of Opium and banned opium trade in China, Opium Wars were launched against Chinese. All this was done to earn “profit”. All this blood of humanity was shed by ancestors of today’s saviours of free world and so-called-upholders of human rights to what end? The answer is, to destroy a superior society of Chinese and earn “profit”. In brings me to ask a very important question, is the human blood so worthless? Does human life has no value in the eyes of these predators? On what moral grounds do they wage wars on other nation in the pretext of drugs and human-rights abuses? Or do they have some other motives behind these expeditions, earning of “profits” at the cost of human blood.

What so ever maybe the case, fact remains that Chinese society was destroyed by the British Opium and they could not recover until Mao Zedong came in and killed all such perpetrators in 1949.

History tells us that by the end of Second World War, Imperialistic powers were declining and within a few years there were many new nations across the globe that got freed from previous Imperialistic powers. So is imperialism a thing of past now? Actually, imperialism had not died away; it had just evolved itself in the changing world scenario. Now most aggressive is economic imperialism which does also depend upon military might of those countries, not necessarily, but more often than not. Today United States of America stands as a sole superpower and enjoys imperialistic powers because of its military might. It’s CIA has destroyed societies of all Caribbean and Central American nations up to various degrees, with the exception of Cuba, with these drugs. It is the same CIA whose personal are shown in Hollywood movies as saviours and heroes of the so-called free world. So narcotics are still playing a role in achievement of foreign policy objectives of western imperialistic powers. Before people start labelling me as anti-western or something, I deem it necessary to clarify; history is witness to this that no other imperialistic power has ever used drugs to achieve its purposes. Soviet Union was an imperialistic power as well, but it did not use drugs to subdue the nations or to destroy their societies.

Then history saw Soviet-Afghan war. After this war Afghanistan became newer Bengal, this time not because of some imperialistic intervention but at the hands of nature. Afghanistan saw worst drought and because poppy being only crop that can be grown with least amount of water, afghan farmers started cultivation of poppy. Because of this, most affected nations were its neighbours viz. Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and China. But this poppy was being able to find its way to more lucrative markets of Western Europe and most importantly United States of America. This time the UN started a war against drugs and so-called civilized world suddenly woke up. Loads of money and effort was put in but not much was availed because of lawless Afghanistan.

In 1996, Taliban came into power in Afghanistan and they were successful in achieving what the rest of the world had failed to achieve. They because of their religious affiliation destroyed all poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. No matter what we think of their way of governance, of their way of life or their religious views, but they deserve the credit for poppy free Afghanistan.

After 9/11 world’s only superpower invaded Taliban’s Afghanistan under the pretext of so-called war on terror. Was it really a war on terror or it had any other political objectives? I wouldn’t go into that detail, as it is beyond the scope of this essay. After Taliban were ousted, things started to change for worse. Newer imperialist were no different from the old. US of A the world’s sole superpower after installing a puppet president of Afghanistan who was a former Unocal employee, is involved in planting opium in Afghanistan itself. Opium is being grown all over Afghanistan left, right and centre. They like us to believe that they are trying to stop it, but the fact of the matter is that it is being done right under their nose with largest output from the second largest city of Kandahar. This city after the capital Kabul is strongest hold of the coalition forces and more importantly, US troops. The fact of the matter is that there is heavy CIA involvement in opium cultivation. Then this opium under CIA supervision is being ‘exported’ to Pakistan and China. This opium is again coming into Pakistan to destroy our society, so that CIA can support it ‘covert’ operations in the region. Other than this it has got some political objectives as well. It is directed towards China again. It is rampantly being ‘exported’ the eastern provinces of China. Now that its production is being done in a controlled way and is directed towards those states where US wants it to go, we do not hear any clamour in the western news media or UN.
This quick view on the history tells that man is as barbarian as he has always been. It tells that man is as self-centred today as he has always been. It tells us that nothing has changed. Man would do everything possible to achieve his political objectives and to subdue other men. Today United States of America stands as a sole superpower of the world, but still is employing the methods centuries old. It is not that these methods are to win a war; rather they are to kill the whole society. It is to bring that society to its knees. This is the face of CIA, the real CIA whose face we only know from the Hollywood movies. Hollywood never gets tired to bringing out movies that would portray CIA as the saviour of the world. But it seems like an organization of ruthless criminals being governed by the corporatocratic government of their country. Willing to go as inhumane as possible to achieve what it wants. If this same heroin reaches American coast, it becomes illegal and the world needs to wage war on it. The world suddenly needs to stop it. But when it is being sent to other countries and by their own agencies, world never hears about it. Nor do we hear it in any of the corporate-controlled international media. Such are the double standards of the world today.

All we hear is an occasional appeal by some government official asking Hamid Karzai to do more to stop poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, who is the puppet of Americans themselves does not have any authority over Afghanistan is nothing more than the mayor of Kabul, While his brother happens to be world’s biggest heroin supplier. Mr. Karzai’s brother was detained by airport security for carrying heroin in US some two weeks ago.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Social Impact of Quantitative Pricing of Water

Britain happens to be an island, located at the northern part of the western hemisphere. Although its location suggests that the place should be cold, but the temperature here moves around zero degrees Celsius in the southern part which includes England and Wales. While in the north it does snow during winter time, imply that temperature does go subzero. In the summers, the temperatures get mild but still it has got loads of cloudy days. As for the weather, the saying goes “It is always raining in England.” The winter months get most of the rainfall, where it literally rains every day. As for the summers, they are relatively dry but still there is sufficient rainfall.

A thing that has recently been introduced by the water companies is the new pricing mechanism. According to this new (at least to this part of the world) mechanism, the water supply to the households and other consumers would be charged according to the amount used rather than the previously working system of fixed monthly charge levied on the populace. All this would either be being done under the pretext of “saving water” or increased costs.
Let us first examine the “saving water” part. Does Britain need to save water? Does Britain face any water shortage in near or far future for that matter? What would Britain do of the water saved? Well, my analysis says that Britain does not need to save water. Here I dare not suggest that everyone should start wasting the water, but at the same time Britain does not face any shortage of water in near or far future to make any extensive measure to save water. As for the water saved, it would end in the sea anyway, because as we all know Britain is an island.
So is it because of increased costs that this new scheme is being introduced? Well if it was only about cost they could easily be handled by increasing the fixed amount already being charged. Assuming there are 2 million households (which is far less than the original figure), an increase in the fixed amount by 1 pound raise the revenue by 2 million pounds. Therefore, the idea of tackling increased cost does not seem to fit it in either.
The only thing today’s ultra-capitalist system cares about is called “profit”. I would not say that I am a proponent of communism, but I do also believe that making profit out of the essential need of the people is highly immoral. It is not only about spending more money on a basic need like water or making more profit out of it, rather it would have serious social implications as well 30 years down the lane.
Let us just examine how it would affect the lives of people and because it is being introduced on newer connections only, its affect would become evident slowly but surely. We have always taken water for granted, and why not it is abundant. 70% of the Earth’s surface is water, excluding the rivers and streams. Water is used for many purposes in many different ways. Apart from the primary use of drinking it is used for bathing, washing and cooking.
Today if someone asks for a glass of water people readily give it to him because it does not incur any cost on them and it is morally inappropriate to say no to a thirsty man’s request for water. Taking the same situation in future, when someone comes asking for a glass of water. This time people would think before giving this to the person. They would think that can they afford to give water to someone? In the end they might simply refuse, even if they find it morally inappropriate but they cannot afford to give water even to a guest. Can you think of it? Someone comes to you asking for simple glass water and you refuse it? I think this is bizarre, but this where the society would go if such a measure is adopted. Therefore, what it does apart from “saving water” is that it de-grades the moral values of people.
Take another scenario, a poor man returns home running and has a dry throat tends to drink water but then in occurs to him, can he afford that glass of water? Or probably he would be able to survive without that. It would remove self-respect from that person. What would be the life of a person who would need to think about his pocket before he drinks a glass of water? Can the poor man not even drink water without thinking about is pocket? The rich people would still waste water and use it the way they want. It is the poor man who would be hit by this measure, who would be deprived even of the luxury of drinking water. Because of this condition he might want to earn more and more money. Such a person would put his heart and soul in the single purpose of earning money. At first sight there would not seem anything wrong in it, if a person wants to earn more money. But it would make him more and more materialistic in nature, then a more materialistic society at large. When a society becomes more and more materialistic it loses moral values and all that it cares about is money. Then you can never ignore the crime rate, which is intrinsically bound to go up under such circumstances.
Things get more and more bizarre when it gets involved in things such as euthanasia. There is a man dying man taking his last breath, he asks for water. Would you give him water in those circumstances? Of course, this is human nature. Now picture same situation some 30 years later, would the dying man be given water? Would the person not think about his purse before giving water? He might as well think that the person is going to die anyway, why “waste” money on him. In the end some people might end up not giving water to the dying man. With the passage of time we would not know and it would be happening at large in the whole of the society. What did it do? It took away the compassion from the society. It made the society more and more materialistic. The only possible next step would be taxing oxygen in the same way.
In conclusion this newly introduced scheme apart from “saving water” would have many adverse effects on the society, including degradation of moral values, making the society more materialistic, increased crime rate and taking away compassion from society thus making it less and less human to name a few.
What this scheme is achieving is more profits for the water company’s owners and share holders at the stake of the whole society. People would argue what is wrong with the desire to earn more profits and making more money. I would reiterate that making excess money out of the essential needs of people is highly immoral. This further reminds me of a phenomenon by the name of hoarding that sometimes occurs in some third world countries. When certain crops are harvested some wealthy business men, in order to make “profit”, buy all the harvest from the farmers before the crop reaches the market. What it does is that it causes shortage of that crop in the market making the prices to go high. Then these businessmen sell the hoarded crop slowly in the market at a higher price, making “profit”. Is this way of earning morally legitimate? I mean if profit is the only thing that should govern every aspect of life, then I find nothing wrong in this hoarding. But profit is not what governs every aspect of life; profit should not be governing every aspect of life.
The further question that arises from here is that if profit is taken away, what would be the motivation behind people to do business? I totally agree that private entities and business are always profit driven would always do enter any business only for profit. Therefore, a resource as strategic as water itself should not be in the hands of private entities at all. They should be in the hands of the government and thus a collective responsibility of the whole of the society. They should in the government control not because I am against free-market economy. Rather they should be in government control because they are too strategic to be at the hands of private companies. The governments are there for the welfare of their citizen and therefore would not be inclined in making profits out of the needs of people. I believe putting water in private hands is tantamount to privatizing the nation army or the police. Therefore, by the above stated argument I believe that Quantitative pricing of water does more harm to the society in the long term and it should be abandoned. If the profit motive of the private enterprises is at stake then these water companies should be nationalised. The citizens of state at least have the right to safe drinking water available to them for free or at minimum fixed price, provided to them by the state.