Special report from Mumbai, India
from Mumbai, India
The bay fronting Mumbai (Bombay) is an arch called the Queen’s Necklace. The waters are an angry brown, with rough seas, white caps, and foaming waves blown by the monsoon winds slamming against the sea wall. The palm trees bend against the onslaught of constant winds bringing in sheets of monsoon rains.
Beggars and street vendors ply their trades under plastic tarps, cardboard boxes, tree branches and anything that gives some protection. Soaking wet and huddled in the shallow lakes that collect over what used to be sidewalks and parks, they reach out with dripping arms to show passers by their goods.
But the intellectual waters in Mumbai seem angry these days as well. Yesterday I spoke for the largest University in Mumbai, founded by the Somaiya Trust, and a representative body of the 26,000 students and professors shared their concerns about global economics and global conflicts.
One graduate student stood up and said: “We do not understand a nation that impeaches a president for a private affair, while ignoring a president that invades a country based upon a lie, and kills innocent women and children in the name of ‘liberation’.” A graduate student spoke and said: “How quickly the United States has changed from a nation stressing human rights and democracy, to a nation that fires upon people demonstrating for the right to vote!”
At a meeting with the Indian Merchants Chamber, I was the featured leader of a symposium that included industrialists, and business leaders. The IMC is Bombay’s most influential business organization, rich in tradition, even Mahatma Gandhi was a member.
The winds of anger and concern were blowing there as well. “We believe the Bush Administration has manipulated information and used war and fears to gain political power. But the economy of the USA is bad and it impacts the economy of the world. In India, our economy has suffered deeply for 2 1/2 years and instead of economic leadership from the USA, we just hear of threats of other wars in Iran and Korea.”
The United States pressuring the Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Bajpayee to send Indian troops to Iraq, while at the same time strong-arming President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to do the same. But the vast majority of the public of India and Pakistan are saying: “The U.S. got themselves into Iraq in face of opposition of the entire world. They can clean up the mess themselves. Why send our troops to be targets of the ‘liberated’ Iraqi people.”
In short, the people in this sector of Asia want the same thing that most Americans want. They want economic security and peace. As long as the United States is seen as a purveyor of war, the angry winds will continue to blow.
HIMALAYAN POVERTY THREAT TO THE WORLD
My friend, Krishna Bahadur Kunwar has written a book by the above title. Krishna Bahadur Kunwar was born in 1953 and is Deputy General Manager of the Agricultural Development Bank in Nepal. His bank is probably the most powerful national financial institution in Nepal. Thus a "banker Kunwara" has a unique perspective and opportunity to impact the future of the country of Nepal.
The book documents the history, development and frustration of the poverty striken areas of Nepal. He exposes the efforts of the a "do gooders" in international aid agencies and tells how that corruption has distorted and misallocated millions of dollars. He shows that while some politicians have benefited through greed, the poor people of Nepal have continued to languish.
As we look at Nepal, the nation has been racked by attacks of Maoist revolutionaries calling for more economic equity. A fragile truce exists and the King of Nepal is taking a more active role in solving the nation's problems. Thinkers such as Kunwar help expose and define the problems. We commend him for writing this book.
Kunwar's book: Himalayan Poverty, Threat to the World could be a microcosm of other nations struggling with weak economies. I recommend it to you. You can contact him at email@example.com
BOOTHE TO TRAVEL TO INDIA AND MONGOLIA
I have been asked to speak in India on global socio-economic trends and will be visiting India, Mongolia and other nations in mid June through the end of July. More details later.