Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Conflict Diamonds (Part 2)

The word ‘Blood Diamonds’ is used for those diamonds which are illegally mined, sold and the money earned from it is used to purchase arms. Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, The Democratic Republic of Congo, The Republic Of Congo were the places where illegal diamond mining was done. To check such activities Angola was put under U.N. sanctions in 1998 forbidding other countries buying diamonds from it. In Sierra Leone following the U.N. mediation led to the signing of the agreement between the government and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) known as Lome Peace Agreement. Liberia also faced U.N. sanctions in 2001, same happened in the other areas. Now there is peace in these areas.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Conflict Diamonds (Part 1)

Panning for diamonds in Sierra Leone.

The word ‘Diamond’ has been derived from a greek word “adamas” , which means unconquerable. Diamonds are made of pure carbon and are so far the hardest natural substance known to man.
Diamonds are since long symbols of social status. Every famous diamond of the world has a sorrow tale to tell as many people have died to own it and many have died to steal it. These gems can be transparent, truculent white, yellow, green, blue, or brown. Diamonds have played a great role in many battles and have given birth to human tragedies.
Diamond was first discovered in India and Borneo in the river beds and later on in the eighteenth century in Brazil. In Africa they were discovered between December 1866 and February 1867 on the south bank of the Orange River. After the discovery, within 15 years the African mines produced more than what India had produced for the last 2000 years. This increase meant that the prices of diamond would not fall as there was a sharp decline in the production of Brazil.
Diamonds are found 150 Km. below the earth’s surface. The diamonds make their way up the surface captured within liquid hot rock or magma. Once they reach the surface diamonds can be found in volcanic pipes called kimberlite pipes or in loose mineral deposits called alluvial deposits.
Alluvial deposits are created by diamond pipe erosion and are easily excavated. They require very little financial capital to be invested in the removal. This is due to the fact that they are often found in riverbeds and along the coast and they do not require highly advanced mining techniques nor due they require a large amount of human capital. The simplest method of mining alluvial deposits is with a shovel and a pan. With this method diamonds and soil are shoveled into a hand held pan where they are separated by agitation and shorted by eye. More advanced methods of mining use large machinery that moves the alluvial in to large shorting pans that send different densities to smaller picking tables followed by a grease table. Since diamonds are mostly water repellent, they are sorted in alluvial deposits by using grease. While other minerals develop a water coding and slide of the grease, the water resistant diamonds stick to the grease and are collected. Mining kimberllite pipe requires a more advanced degree of mining technology and is more expensive. The first step in mining a kimberlite pipe is to dig the pit. In “open-pit” or “open-cast” mining, the layers of rock are dug up and eventually tunnels and pipe are build so the hard ore material can be removed with large hydraulic shovels and trucks. The hard rock is broken into pieces with shovels and other methods until the rock is small enough to be remove from the mine by truck. When the kimberlite ore is deep underground it must be removed by mining a series of underground shafts in the pipe that allow the ore to be carved off and make its way down the tunnel to a draw point. At these points the crushed ore is brought up to the surface for processing. Only about 20% of the world’s diamonds are taken from pipe mines, and the remaining 80% of diamonds are alluvial.
In 1866, the first diamonds in Africa were found. Before the discovery of diamonds in South Africa diamonds were very scarce and they were highly valued. Following the discovery of diamonds in Africa the production of diamonds increased tenfold in the next tens years.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The British hand in Dividing India

“For decades after 1885 communalism served as a second line
of defence of both imperialism and the reactionary forces.
But with the passage of time it became their chief
political and ideological instrument.”
(Bipan Chandra – one of the foremost historians of modern India)

British can be held responsible to a large extent for the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947.It were they, who if did not fan the fire of communalism, did not even try to control it. Imperialists never acknowledged the responsibility and even some of the Indian historians don’t believe in it. According to them this theme was only used by the nationalists to rouse the people against the British.
To a certain extent they are right. British could not have been successful in sowing the seed of communal hatred if there would not have been something within the Indian society to provide the fertile soil. But it is also a fact that if there would have been a nationalist government in power than they would certainly had checked its growth. It did not happen so because British were in power and they wanted that Indians should continue to fight among themselves.
It was in the 19th century that the country witnessed a rise in the nationalist movement and also a nation in the making. Britishers were afraid because it produced a serious threat to their rule. Back home in Britain the number of people who questioned the British rule over India were increasing. In the beginning Britishers used to justify by using the terms such as --- White man’s burden, civilizing mission etc. With the passage of time these things lost their shine and the Britishers began looking for some other reason so as to justify their rule. So they fanned communal hatred and declared that they must continue to rule for the protection of the minorities.(If this was the reason why they did nothing to provide a safe passage to nearly 14.5 million people who had to migrate to the other side of the border during partition, out of which nearly 1 million died )
 If Hindus and Muslims would have been united then it would have been difficult for the british to continue their rule over India
 If they supported Muslim communalists this doesn’t mean that they were anti-Hindu. They only wanted to divide the Indians.
 After creating a wedge between Hindus and Muslims then they tried to bring regional communalism. Punjabis vs Bengali vs Bihari etc.
 They did not support Hindu communalism not because they had sympathy with the Muslims because support to the hindu communalism meant uniting nearly 80% of the population. This would have certainly strengthened the Indian National Congress(I.N.C.)
 The Britishers created following divisions :

• Hindus , Muslims and Sikhs
• Agricultural and non-agricultural classes
• Martial and non martial races
• Punjabi, Bengalis, Biharis etc.
• To divide Hindus they invented the term The Depressed classes
• Created divisions between the rural and urban population

When the things went out of control they decided to divide and quit, leaving all the mess to be cleared by the Indians themselves.

I would like to end with a couplet from a poem written on the plight of women during the partition days.

Ik royee si dhee Punjab di, tu likh maaray wein
Aj lakhaan Dhiyan rondiyan, Waris Shah noon Kehn…….

[When one daughter of Punjab cried, you cried a river over her
(by writing Heer)-Today thousands of them are crying – in vain –for your attention]
Amrita Pritam (One of the best known Punjabi Poetess)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Freedom and Partition of India

The red Boundry shows the pre-partitioned India

The partition of India led to the creation of Dominion of Pakistan(later Islamic Republic of Pakistan) on 14 August, 1947 and Union of India (later Republic of India) on 15 August, 1947.   
The partition came along with Freedom from the British rule. Thousands of people who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of their country could no have even imagined that one day their beloved country would be divided with so much bloodshed. 

In the next post I will be discussing the role of the British in dividing India.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

"The Great Arsenal of Democracy"

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The Great Arsenal of Democracy is one of the most famous of 30 speechse given by Roosevelt, then the President of America. The term Arsenal of Democracy was used by Roosevelt for Detroit (Michigan) where the auto industry had started to produce war goods for being supplied to Britain.The speech was given on December 29, 1940, the time when Nazi Germany had ran over almost all of the Europe with Britain only standing in way. Nazis had joined hands with Italy and Japan (Axis Powers). They were also collaborating with Soviet Russia.The speech was given to arouse the American people in suport of the war effort. America polity at that time was divided into Interventionists and Isolationasits. While the former supported the intervention into the war the later were against it. However the speech certainly helped to turn the wave in favour of the Interventionists.
The term 'Arsenal of Democracy' was not originally coined by Roosevelt but by Jean Monnet, who was working as the supply coordinator and economic liaison to the United States for the French government in exile. During a meeting withe Rossevelt he had coined the phrase but was asked to use the phrase again. Since then Roosevelt has got all the adulation for the phrase. He had used this celebrated phrase in the following lines:
"We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is
an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves
to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency,
the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war."
Note: for full text of the speech 'The Great Arsenal of Democracy' visit the following link :