Random Thoughts

Agriculture, Manufacturing, Services, Disaster

The above are stages in the cycle of civilization. Major ancient civilizations still extant, are the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Indian, Chinese and Greek. The best ancient records are available for the Egyptian and Sumerian ones. Hunter gatherer societies were the most primitive and remain so even today in the Kalahari, Amazon jungles and other parts of the world.

The invention of agriculture by modifying wild variants led to cultivation of barley and wheat in Mesopotamia and Egypt and rice in China and India. Domestication of sheep, goats and cattle were an added escalator to urbanization. Surplus food affordable to many, allowed congregation of many people with spare time, exchange of ideas and a spur to innovation. Necessity became the mother of invention and keeping tallies of grain and livestock led to development of weights and measures.

The English word 'calculate' derives from calculus meaning a stone. Even today in medical terminology, a kidney stone is called a renal calculus. Sanskrit word 'pramaana' means measure and the word 'pramaanik' meaning one who measures (correctly) also means one who is honest and has integrity of character. (Interested readers may wish to refer to my article 'Char, Chaar, Achaar, Acharya, Charitra, Character).

Record keeping was also responsible for progress of arithmetic and geometry for the use of storage of surplus grain and surveying land ownership. A primitive zero was invented by the Sumerians first and the Mayas later, but since their counting systems were sixty and twenty based respectively, this did not simplify arithmetic notation or calculation, which had to wait for the invention of zero and the decimal system by India around the fourth century AD. The remnant heritage of the Sumerian sixty based system still persists in our sixty seconds to a minute and sixty minutes to an hour which led to the division of a day into twenty-four hours to match the single rotation time of the earth around its axis and in 360 degrees to a circle. (Read Georges Ifrah's book 'A History of Numbers')

The availability of surplus food allowed others to develop their talent in manufacturing, ranging from pottery, bows, arrows, spears, ornaments, metal vessels etc. The invention of axes, spades, ploughs and attaching them to domesticated bulls and horses made agriculture more efficient and productive. The invention of the wheel allowed transport over longer distances and commerce flourished together with warfare. The horse charge, chariot based warfare and weapons of iron capable of shattering bronze swords may have been responsible for the dark ages between the old, middle and new kingdom dynasties of ancient Egypt.

The reverence for the horse is seen in the records of the ancient Syrian kingdom of the Mitanni who spoke Sanskrit. (Their undiscovered capital city was named VasuKhanni meaning rich earth and the tablets of the royal horse trainer Kikkuli use Sanskrit words for numbers and colors from which English numbers and colors are derived via Greek and Latin)

Hence the high importance of the Ashwamedha Yagna (and Ashwini Kumaras) in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The treaty signed by the defeated Mitannis around 1600 BCE with the Hittites, invokes Indra, Varuna and Nastutyas.

Contrary to the bogus hogwash promoted by the Hindutva brigades whose lies equal those of the American history taught in American schools, the Aryan tribes migrated in different directions from Southern Ukraine. There, they may have experienced the breakthrough of the Mediterranean Sea into the then freshwater lake of the Black Sea and it may have led to the story of The Flood, which went with their migration to Sumer and became common to their descendants, the Sumerians, Hebrews and Hindus. The prior work of Maria Giambutas and a recent exhaustive book by David W. Anthony -The Horse, The Wheel & Language provide proof. Ancient Indian writings like The Nighantu & The Nirukta by Lakshman Sarup referring to the writings of Yaska add further support.

The natural progress of civilization from hunter gatherers and nomads is to agriculture and then manufacturing. These are the upward motions of the wheel of time. They were followed by the Netherlands first in Europe and then Britain, as well as by the US in the Americas.  Japan, Taiwan, South Korea took the same path. Singapore because of its small land area went straight to manufacture. Indonesia and Malaysia took the standard route as did rapidly rising China.

Only India is leaping from shaky agriculture to services without an adequate passage through manufacturing. There have been recent attempts to promote manufacturing, but India's rise is on a shaky ladder. Its increasing trade and current account deficits portend a gloomy future. It is burdened with large external and internal debt and depends on remittances by Indians abroad. Its reserves though substantial, contain temporary deposits by its diaspora. It does not have a clean balance sheet like China and 1.6 trillion dollar reserves. That is why its foreign and energy policy are subject to bullying by America and it is willing to sign a humiliating civilian nuclear deal.

The Asian tigers prospered under the aegis of US hegemony, where they had protected access to American markets and were safe under the US defense umbrella to curtail defense expenditures and divert resources to industrial manufacturing.

The price of oil was cheap and affordable from 1950 to late nineties. The climate is now different literally and geopolitically. Oil prices are astronomical, food prices are soaring, developed countries are unwilling to accept cheap goods from developing countries because of public unrest in their countries due to rising unemployment and inflation.

India is sandwiched between a faster rising belligerent militarily and economically powerful China, a belligerent and nuclear armed Pakistan and a Bangladesh with exploding population and worsening ecology and economics.

Recently some experts at boloji site and elsewhere are trying to revive the dead civilian nuclear deal with the argument that we do not have enough uranium ore to achieve our third stage thorium based nuclear energy. If we are short of the ore, it just shows the stupidity and lack of foresight of our experts and leaders that they tested and declared India as an overt nuclear power without thinking of or preparing for the consequences. To restrict our nuclear arsenal and be subject to US, Chinese or Pakistani blackmail by their superior nuclear arsenal is downright idiotic.

It is better to scrap the civilian nuclear program and channel our scarce uranium resources to the military program. Civilian nuclear power is not a true panacea. There is the problem of nuclear waste that neither the US or Russia have been able to solve and the inevitable ballistic rise of price of uranium and our lack of adequate enrichment know-how and facilities. We can use coal, gas, oil, solar, wind and hydro power plants to meet our needs.

When a country de-industrializes, as was forced on India by the Raj or by willful Harakiri by America to enrich its corporations and impoverish its citizen workers, it begins the downward descent of the wheel of civilization. It runs deficits, squanders its wealth for conspicuous consumption and turns from being the largest creditor to the largest debtor nation in fifty years, a blink of time for nations.

Wise persons and nations learn from the experience of others, foolish ones face disasters, some like India repeatedly from being ignorant of their own history, lack of historic memory, ignorant uneducated people and ignorant corrupt leaders. Education for all would enhance manufacturing as cheap and trained labor would be attractive to domestic and foreign industries. Our current policy of neglect of primary and secondary school and technical vocational education leaves over three-quarters of our population trapped in poverty with only menial, domestic and daily agricultural labor as a means of marginal subsistence on the edges of starvation, malnutrition, and stunted mental and physical development. 


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

Top | Random Thoughts

Views: 3317      Comments: 0

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.