Tuesday 25 July 2023

Decoding the Challenges Hampering the Growth of Indian Manufacturing

By Mudit Jain, edited by Naveed Ahsan, Fair Observer

Between April 2022 and March 2023, India's trade deficit in manufacturing exceeded $250 billion. This serves as a stark reminder of the challenges and lack of competitiveness of Indian manufacturing. The roots of this decline began in the 1990s and a lack of comprehensive reforms has limited the sector's ability to compete effectively on a global scale.

Indian Welder
Image by Swastik Arora from Pixabay

Following India’s hard-fought independence in 1947, the nation stood at the threshold of a transformative journey toward industrialization. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proclaimed the ascendancy of factories as the “temples of modern India.”

However, navigating the complexities of this nascent industrialization required a delicate balance between fostering domestic growth and safeguarding against the influx of cheaper imports. To that end, Nehru implemented a policy of imposing high import duties, thereby erecting a protective barrier around domestic industries.40

In the 1990s, India, under the leadership of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, confronted a pressing foreign exchange crisis that required urgent action. The government turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance, securing loans that would ultimately have far-reaching implications for the nation’s economic trajectory. The conditions attached to these loans marked a decisive turning point, as they compelled India to embark on a path of liberalization and open its economy to the world.

​​In compliance with the IMF’s prescriptions, India embarked on a momentous journey of economic liberalization, dismantling trade barriers and embracing free trade. Over the span of a mere decade, the government drastically changed its policy. It slashed import duties for industrial goods to the bone. The reduction, however, occurred without commensurate comprehensive reforms.

Amidst the rapid decline in import duties, the manufacturing industry found itself grappling with a confluence of factors that eroded its competitiveness. 

The costs of essential inputs for manufacturing, including furnace oil, power, loans and infrastructure, witnessed a notable uptick. Often, government-backed entities supplied these inputs. The cost escalations imposed a significant burden on domestic manufacturers, impeding their ability to compete on a level playing field.

Further red tape and corruption have plagued the implementation of a number of laws, including the Factories Act and the Environment and Pollution Control Act. This impedes the growth of the manufacturing industry and hinders its potential.

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To Meet Local Demand, Look Overseas

In the early 2000s, a noticeable trend emerged within India’s business landscape. An increasing number of domestic companies opted to outsource their manufacturing operations overseas and import products.

This strategic decision aimed at minimizing costs and capitalizing on global supply chains. Simultaneously, however, it contributed to the closure of numerous domestic industries that were unable to compete with the influx of cheaper imports.

Despite its vast size and burgeoning population, India finds itself heavily reliant on imports to meet a significant portion of its domestic demand. This has forced many industries in India to shutter their operations, as they are unable to withstand the onslaught of more cost-effective imports.

A notable example can be found in the calcium carbide industry, where Indian companies have increasingly turned to foreign suppliers for imports. By 2004, this had led to closures in the domestic industry due to the inflow of cheaper foreign sources, despite the presence of a heavy import duty.

The soda ash industry also outsourced production in the early 2000s as many big names like Tata Chemicals and Nirma bought plants overseas and imported soda ash into India rather than expanding their domestic operations.

Another striking example is India’s status as the largest importer of PVC resin globally. There has been no concurrent expansion of domestic companies. Neither have there been foreign companies establishing their own plants in the country.

These dynamics contribute to a business culture in India in which non-technocrats occupy leadership positions; their primary focus often lies in navigating the business environment rather than spearheading technological advancements. 

Subsidies, Taxes and Red Tape

The decline of India’s manufacturing sector can be attributed, in part, to the comparatively higher input costs imposed by the Indian government. This discrepancy in cost has made it arduous for domestic companies to thrive amidst global competition.

A glaring example of this disparity lies in the freight costs incurred for transporting goods. It is almost twice as expensive to ship goods to the north of India from the south of India than it is to ship them from China! This is largely due to the burdensome 100% taxes levied on petrol and diesel.

Remarkably, it is less expensive to fly from Mumbai to Dubai than to travel the same distance from Mumbai to Calcutta. This is due to the exemption of aviation turbine fuel taxes for international flights.

India’s practice of subsidizing the government without yielding significant benefits has also become evident. The case of calcium carbide in the late 1990s exemplifies this. Despite a substantial duty on the chemical, imports of calcium carbide from China are far cheaper than domestically manufactured calcium carbide.

This is due to the exorbitant power costs imposed by State Electricity Boards in India. These elevated power costs significantly inflate the cost of producing calcium carbide domestically, rendering it less competitive compared to its imported counterpart.

India’s high indirect taxes also contribute to the burdensome costs of the manufacturing sector. It should be noted that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has recommended that exports should be exempt from such taxes.

Lastly, the acts and regulations governing the manufacturing industry in India often take on a policing approach rather than fostering a partnership for growth. 

For instance, in the airline industry, companies seeking regulatory approval to operate are not only required to obtain licenses but must also pay the regulation agency’s employees to develop the necessary skills for certification. Generally, these authorities lack the expertise of the industries they oversee.

This necessitates a reevaluation of the regulatory framework in India. By fostering a collaborative and supportive approach, authorities can align themselves with the needs of the sector. This entails developing a deep understanding of the specific industries they regulate and providing necessary guidance.

While I have not exhausted all of the factors, these are the core reasons why manufacturing is less than 15% of India’s gross domestic product. Despite the country’s abundant natural resources and a large pool of human talent, outdated methods of governance have continued to hinder the growth of the manufacturing sector. It is crucial to address these issues comprehensively.

Regulators Can Do Better

Addressing the decline in manufacturing requires proactive measures from the government. 

Establishing a collaborative body: Creating a Ministry of International Trade and Industry-style body, similar to post-World War II Japan, can facilitate closer collaboration between businesses and industries.

Drastically reducing indirect taxation: Reducing the burden of indirect taxes can significantly alleviate the cost pressures on manufacturers. Additionally, allowing for the set-off of all indirect taxes at different stages of the production process would further enhance their competitiveness.

Embracing blockchain technology: Removing regulations and encouraging the adoption of blockchain technology can enhance transparency and efficiency in the approval process. By leveraging blockchain, the government can create a transparent and traceable system that streamlines regulatory procedures and reduces bureaucracy.

Incentivizing foreign investment: Providing attractive incentives to foreign companies can encourage them to invest in India’s manufacturing sector. Foreign investment can bring in advanced technologies, expertise and capital, leading to job creation and economic growth. Drawing lessons from Margaret Thatcher’s approach in the 1980s, India should embrace foreign ownership of companies to revitalize the manufacturing sector.

Implementing these strategies requires a change in mindset and a commitment to prioritizing growth. Government officials and policymakers need to adopt a proactive approach that encourages and supports industry rather than excessively regulating it. By fostering a conducive environment for manufacturing, India can move closer to achieving the goal of self-reliance—atmanirbharta—and become a global manufacturing hub.

Mudit Jain is third generation member of his family-owned company, which manufactures industrial chemicals. He has played an active role in various chambers of commerce.  In addition to his business responsibilities, Mudit is actively engaged in various activities and organizations. Outside of his business endeavors, Mudit Jain was a former Director on the board of the Rotary Club of Bombay. Additionally, he has been a part of the executive committee of the Museum Society of Bombay. 

Naveed Ahsan is the former North America editor of Fair Observer. He is a graduate student at St. John's College, Annapolis. 

This article was originally published in Fair Observer under CC 3.

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Tuesday 18 July 2023

The Two Decades That Created World’s First Middle Class

By Sam Pizzigati, Editor, Inequality.org

If we take on our rich, we can recreate that success.

Urban Housing - Picture from Pixabay

Amazing things can happen when societies realize they don’t need an awesomely affluent.

What sort of amazing things? Take what happened in the United States between 1940 and 1960, as economists William Collins and Gregory Niemesh do in a just-published research paper on America’s mid-century home ownership boom.

Over a mere 20-year span, the United States essentially birthed a “new middle class.” The share of U.S. households owning their own homes, Collins and Niemesh note, jumped an “unprecedented” 20 percentage points. By 1960, most American families resided in housing they owned “for the first time since at least 1870” — for the first time, in effect, since before the Industrial Revolution.

This home ownership surge, the two economists posit, rested in large part on an equally unprecedented surge in worker earnings. Median annual incomes in the mid-20th century “nearly doubled” as Americans realized wage gains “both large on average and widely spread across workers.”

This “widespread and sustained increase in the level of income,” Collins and Niemesh detail, “allowed more people to afford and select into owner-occupied housing than in previous generations.”

What brought about that “widespread and sustained” income increase? That question lies beyond the scope of the new Collins-Niemesh paper. But not much mystery surrounds the answer. The years of the mid-20th century saw a vast expansion of America’s trade union movement. The struggles of new unions — in major basic industries ranging from auto to steel — essentially forced the rich to begin sharing the wealth workers were creating.

This massive mid-century labor surge also changed the face of the American political landscape. Union-backed lawmakers put in place programs that helped average families on a wide variety of fronts, everything from making mortgages affordable to expanding access to higher education.

And those union-backed lawmakers helped pay for those new programs by raising taxes on America’s wealthiest. Between 1940 and 1960, the federal tax rate on income in the nation’s top tax bracket consistently hovered around 90 percent.

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That worker-friendly world of the mid-20th century has, of course, long since disappeared. Over the past half-century, we’ve witnessed an enormous redistribution — upwards — of the nation’s income and wealth.

Back in 1982, in the early stages of that redistribution, Forbes began publishing an annual compilation of the nation’s 400 grandest private fortunes. The initial Forbes 400 list included just 13 billionaires. Their combined wealth: $92 billion. Over the next four decades, Forbes notes, the combined net worth of America’s richest 400 would rise to “a staggering $4.5 trillion — making them nearly 50 times better off than their 1982 counterparts, far outpacing the consumer price index’s near tripling.”

Overall wealth in the United States, the Federal Reserve relates, now totals $140 trillion. The bottom half of Americans hold just $4 trillion of that.

The United States, adds the New York Times in a new analysis, is approaching an unprecedented “intergenerational transfer of wealth” that “will largely reinforce” this current record inequality. Households worth over $5 million, the Boston-based Cerulli Associates financial research firm calculates, make up just 1.5 percent of total U.S. households. Between now and 2045, this tiny share of the nation’s households will account for 42.5 percent of expected wealth transfers.

Making that top-heavy transfer even worse: Under existing U.S. tax law, wealthy married couples can pass on to their heirs as much as $26 million without paying a penny in federal estate tax.

Meanwhile, observes a top research exec at the Vanguard Group, tens of millions of American workers aging into their seventies can’t afford to retire. “All but the most wealthy” among us, Vanguard’s Fiona Greig tells the New York Times reporter Talmon Joseph Smith, appear to be — to some degree — financially unprepared for retirement.

Smith’s conclusion? The headline over his economic preview published earlier this week tells it all: “The Greatest Wealth Transfer in History Is Here, With Familiar (Rich) Winners.”

But our upcoming transfer of generational wealth doesn’t have to play out that way. The vast 1940-to-1960 expansion of America’s middle class, we need to keep in mind, didn’t just happen. Advocates for greater equality made it happen. Back before the Great Depression, those advocates confronted a maldistribution of income and wealth just as severe as the maldistribution we confront today. They battled for greater equity, and their success in that battle held up for a generation.

The challenge we confront today? We need to do more than create a much more equitable distribution of income and wealth. We need to create a much more equitable distribution of income and wealth that can last.

Sam Pizzigati co-edits Inequality.org. His latest books include The Case for a Maximum Wage and The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970. Twitter: @Too_Much_Online. This article was originally published on Inequality.org under CC 3

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Monday 3 July 2023

The Chronicles of Lili - A Must-Read Children's Adventure Book

 A Magical Journey Around the World

The Chronicles of Lili - Vol 1
The Chronicles of Lili - Volume 1

Welcome to a world of imagination, excitement, and thrilling adventures! We are thrilled to present to you "The Chronicles of Lili - Vol 1," a delightful children's book that will take young readers on a journey they will never forget. Join Lili, Bruno, Inge, and Mr. Squeak as they embark on captivating escapades around the globe. With its vivid illustrations, engaging stories, and heartwarming characters, this book is sure to captivate the minds and hearts of children aged 6-12.

In "The Chronicles of Lili - Vol 1," readers will meet Lili, a little Bavarian girl with a big heart, who sets off on extraordinary adventures alongside her loyal companions. Bruno, the talking bear, adds a touch of magic to their travels, while Fräu Inge, the shape-shifting duck, brings a unique perspective to their missions. And let's not forget Mr. Squeak, the detective mouse, whose keen eye for detail helps them solve perplexing mysteries along the way.

Together, this quartet takes on thrilling challenges and encounters adversaries in the most unexpected places. From the enchanting forests of Bavaria to the majestic Pyramids of Egypt, young readers will be immersed in a world of wonder and excitement. Along their journeys, Lili and her friends assist those in need, championing justice and spreading kindness wherever they go.

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Book Features:

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  • Engaging stories that captivate young imaginations
  • Exciting escapades filled with mystery, action, and heartwarming moments
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  • Suitable for children aged 6-12, making it perfect for both independent reading and shared family moments

Based on Series Concept developed by Aditya Basu, "The Chronicles of Lili" is written by Lisa Emma von Wagner, a talented writer who has expertly crafted these delightful tales. With a passion for storytelling and a deep understanding of what captivates young readers, Lisa Emma von Wagner has brought these characters and their adventures to life, inspiring children to embrace the power of imagination and embark on their own exciting journeys. The series has been edited and published by Aditya Basu.

So, gather your young adventurers and embark on an unforgettable reading experience with "The Chronicles of Lili - Vol 1"! Order your copy today and let the magic of Lili, Bruno, Inge, and Mr. Squeak transport you to a world of wonder, mystery, and friendship.

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Friday 27 May 2022

The Collective Psychological Effect of Mass Shootings

By Arash Javanbakht, Wayne State University

The deadly shooting of at least 19 children and two adults in Texas on May 24, 2022, is the latest in an ever-growing list of national tragedies, leaving families and friends of the victims gripped with grief, anguish and despair.

The latest mass shooting, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has plunged the country into yet another cycle of collective trauma. Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images News via Getty Images
In addition to those who experience direct loss, such events also take a toll on others, including those who witnessed the shooting, first responders, people who were nearby and those who hear about it – yet again – through the media.

I am a trauma and anxiety researcher and clinician, and I know that the effects of such violence reach millions. While the immediate survivors are most affected, the rest of society suffers, too.

First, the Immediate Survivors

It is important to understand that no two people experience such horrific exposure in the same way. The extent of the trauma, stress or fear can vary. Survivors of a shooting may want to avoid the neighborhood where the shooting occurred or the context related to shooting, such as grocery stores, if the shooting happened at one. In the worst case, a survivor may develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD is a debilitating condition that develops after exposure to serious traumatic experiences such as war, natural disasters, rape, assault, robbery, car accidents – and, of course, gun violence. Nearly 8% of the U.S. population deals with PTSD. Symptoms include high anxiety, avoidance of reminders of the trauma, emotional numbness, hypervigilance, frequent intrusive memories of trauma, nightmares and flashbacks. The brain switches to fight-or-flight mode, or survival mode, and the person is always waiting for something terrible to happen.

When the trauma is caused by people, as in a mass shooting, the impact can be profound. The rate of PTSD in mass shootings may be as high as 36% among survivors. Depression, another debilitating psychiatric condition, occurs in as many as 80% of people with PTSD.

Three community members with grief-stricken faces hold their hands up toward the sky at a prayer vigil in Uvalde, Texas.
Grief-stricken community members attend a prayer vigil following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images News via Getty Images
Survivors of shootings may also experience survivor’s guilt, the feeling that they failed others who died or did not do enough to help them, or just guilt at having survived.

PTSD can improve by itself, but many people need treatment. There are effective treatments available in the form of psychotherapy and medications. The more chronic it gets, the more negative the impact on the brain, and the harder to treat.

Children and adolescents, who are developing their worldview and deciding how safe it is to live in this society, may suffer even more. Exposure to horrific experiences such as school shootings or related news can fundamentally affect the way people perceive the world as a safe or unsafe place, and how much they can rely on the adults and society in general to protect them.

They can carry such a worldview for the rest of their lives, and even transfer it to their children. Research is also abundant on the long-term detrimental impact of such childhood trauma on a person’s mental and physical health and their ability to function through their adult life.

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The Effect on Those Close By, or Arriving Later

PTSD can develop not only through personal exposure to trauma, but also via exposure to others’ severe trauma. Humans have survived as a species particularly because of the ability to fear as a group. That means we learn fear and experience terror through exposure to the trauma and fear of others. Even seeing a frightened face in black and white on a computer will make our amygdala, the fear area of our brain, light up in brain imaging studies.

People in the vicinity of a mass shooting may see exposed, disfigured, burned or dead bodies. They may also see injured people in agony, hear extremely loud noises and experience chaos and terror in the post-shooting environment. They must also face the unknown, or a sense of lack of control over the situation. The fear of the unknown plays an important role in making people feel insecure, terrified and traumatized.

A group whose chronic exposure to such trauma is usually overlooked is the first responders. While victims and potential victims try to run away from an active shooter, the police, firefighters and paramedics rush into the danger zone.

Many of these first responders might have their own children in that school or nearby. They frequently face uncertainty; threats to themselves, their colleagues and others; and terrible bloody post-shooting scenes. This exposure happens to them too frequently. PTSD has been reported in up to 20% of first responders to mass violence.

Widespread Panic and Pain

People who were not directly exposed to a disaster but who were exposed to the news also experience distress, anxiety or even PTSD. This happened after 9/11. Fear, the coming unknown – is there another strike? are other co-conspirators involved? – and reduced faith in perceived safety may all play a role in this.

Every time there is a mass shooting in a new place, people learn that kind of place is now on the not-very-safe list. People worry not only about themselves but also about the safety of their children and other loved ones.

Is There Any Good to Come of Such Tragedy?

We can channel the collective agony and frustration to encourage meaningful changes, such as making gun laws safer, opening constructive discussions, informing the public about the risks and calling on lawmakers to take real action. In times of hardship, humans often can raise the sense of community, support one another and fight for their rights, including the right to be safe at schools, concerts, restaurants and movie theaters.

One beautiful outcome of the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in October 2018 was the solidarity of the Muslim community with the Jewish. This is especially productive in the current political environment, with fear and division being so common.

Sadness, anxiety, anger and frustration can be channeled into actions such as becoming involved in activism and volunteering to help the victims. It is also important not to spend too much time watching television coverage; turn it off when it stresses you too much.

Finally, studies have shown that exposure to media coverage for several hours daily following a collective trauma can lead to high stress. So check the news a couple of times a day to be informed, but don’t continue seeking out coverage and exposure to graphic images and news. The news cycle tends to report the same stories without much additional information.

Arash Javanbakht, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Wayne State Universityis the director of the Stress, Trauma, and Anxiety Research Clinic (STARC) at Wayne State University. Dr Javanbakht and his work have been featured on the National Geographic, The Atlantic, CNN, Aljazeera, NPR, Washington Post, Smithsonian, PBS, American Psychiatric Association, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and tens of other media.

This article was originally published on The Conversation under CC4

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Saturday 11 January 2020

Reason Why West Hates Iran So Much
By Stuart Littlewood,  Columnist, American Herald Tribune

Mossadeq’s great sin: he “broke the chains of slavery and servitude to colonial interests”. US and Britain are still smarting.

Nobody saw that coming. Trump ordering Soleimani’s execution, I mean.

Nobody thought even he was quite so stupid.

It follows his last year’s caper when the "cocked and loaded" drama-queen ordered military strikes against Iran's radar and missile batteries in retaliation for their shootdown of a US spy drone. He changed his mind with only minutes to spare on account of a reminder that such lunacy might actually cost human lives.

Plus the fact that the drone was eight miles from the coast, well inside the 12 nautical miles considered to be Iran’s territorial waters under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and it clearly represented a military threat and provocation. So he had no lawful claim of self-defense that would justify a military attack.  The United Nations Charter only allows the use of military force in self-defense after an armed attack or with Security Council approval. So his proposed action would have been illegal as well as unwise, but none of that seemed to enter into his calculations then, or now.

Before that we had Trump’s executive order in August 2018 reimposing a wide range of sanctions against Iran after pulling the US out of the seven-party nuclear deal for no good reason, a spiteful move that annoyed the EU and caused  all sorts of problems for other nations. And he was going to impose extra sanctions aimed mainly at Iran’s oil industry and foreign financial institutions.

“If the ayatollahs want to get out from under the squeeze,” warned US national security adviser John Bolton, “they should come and sit down. The pressure will not relent while the negotiations go on.” To which Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani responded: “If you stab someone with a knife and then you say you want talks, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife.”

United Nations Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy described the sanctions as "unjust and harmful.... The reimposition of sanctions against Iran after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, which had been unanimously adopted by the Security Council with the support of the US itself, lays bare the illegitimacy of this action."

The other countries party to the nuclear deal - Russia, China, Germany, France, the UK and the EU – vowed to stick with it and continue trading with Iran, some EU foreign ministers saying Iran was abiding by the agreement and delivering on its goal when Trump withdrew and they deeply regretted the new sanctions. Trump in turn called Iran “a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence and chaos.”  The irony of such a remark was, of course, completely lost on him.

I read today that the EU “will spare no efforts” to keep the nuclear deal with Iran alive though I doubt if Boris Johnson, passionate Zionist that he is, will be among them.

When it comes to aggression and dishonesty the US has form, and lots of it. Who can forget during the Iran-Iraq war the cruiser USS Vincennes, well inside Iran’s territorial waters, blowing Iran Air Flight 655 to smithereens and killing all 290 passengers and crew on board? The excuse, which didn’t bear examination afterwards, was that they mistook the Airbus A300 for an Iranian F-14 Tomcat manoeuvring to attack.

George H. W. Bush commented on a separate occasion: "I will never apologize for the United States – I don't care what the facts are... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy." Trump seems to have caught the same disease. And, from the outside, the White House itself seems home to the the sort of “murderous dictatorship” he describes.

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The Need to Continually Demonize Iran

When I say the West’s hatred of Iran, I mean primarily the US-UK-Israel Axis.  Ben Wallace, UK Defence Secretary filling in for Boris Johnson who had absented himself, has told Parliament: “In recent times, Iran has felt its intentions are best served through… the use of subversion as a foreign policy tool. It has also shown a total disregard for human rights.” This is amusing coming from the British government and especially a Conservative one which adores Israel, the world’s foremost disregarder of human rights and international law.

Britain and America would like everyone to believe that hostilities with Iran began with the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But you have to go back to the early 1950s for the root cause in America’s case, while Iranians have had to endure a whole century of British exploitation and bad behaviour. And the Axis want to keep this important slice of history from becoming part of public discourse. Here’s why.

In 1901 William Knox D'Arcy obtained from the Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar a 60-year oil concession to three-quarters of the country. The Persian government would receive 16% of the oil company's annual profits, a rotten deal as the Persians would soon realise.

D’Arcy, with financial support from Glasgow-based Burmah Oil, formed a company and sent an exploration team. Drilling failed to find oil in commercial quantities and by 1908 D'Arcy was almost bankrupt and on the point of giving up when they finally struck it big.  The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was up and running and in 1911 completed a pipeline from the oilfield to its new refinery at Abadan.

Just before the outbreak of World War 1 Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, wished to convert the British fleet from coal. To secure a reliable oil source the British Government took a major shareholding in Anglo-Persian.

In the 1920s and 1930s the company profited hugely from paying the Persians a miserly 16% and refusing to renegotiate terms. An angry Persia eventually cancelled the D'Arcy agreement and the matter ended up at the Court of International Justice in The Hague. A new agreement in 1933 provided Anglo-Persian with a fresh 60-year concession but on a smaller area. The terms were an improvement but still didn’t amount to a square deal for the Persians.

In 1935 Persia became known internationally by its other name, Iran, and Anglo-Persian changed to Anglo-Iranian Oil. By 1950 Abadan was the biggest oil refinery in the world and the British government, with its 51% holding, had affectively colonised part of southern Iran.

Iran's tiny share of the profits had long soured relations and so did the company’s treatment of its oil workers. 6,000 went on strike in 1946 and the dispute was violently put down with 200 dead or injured. In 1951 while Aramco was sharing profits with the Saudis on a 50/50 basis Anglo-Iranian declared £40 million profit after tax and handed Iran only £7 million.

Iran by now wanted economic and political independence and an end to poverty. Calls for nationalisation could not be ignored. In March 1951 the Majlis and Senate voted to nationalise Anglo-Iranian, which had controlled Iran's oil industry since 1913 under terms frankly unfavourable to the host country. Social reformer Dr Mohammad Mossadeq was named prime minister by a 79 to 12 majority and promptly carried out his government's wishes, cancelling Anglo-Iranian’s oil concession and expropriating its assets.

His explanation was perfectly reasonable...

“Our long years of negotiations with foreign countries… have yielded no results this far. With the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. Another important consideration is that by the elimination of the power of the British company, we would also eliminate corruption and intrigue, by means of which the internal affairs of our country have been influenced. Once this tutelage has ceased, Iran will have achieved its economic and political independence.” (M. Fateh, Panjah Sal-e Naft-e Iran, p. 525)

For this he would be removed in a coup by MI5 and the CIA, imprisoned for 3 years then put under house arrest until his death.

Britain was determined to bring about regime change so orchestrated a world-wide boycott of Iranian oil, froze Iran’s sterling assets and threatened legal action against anyone purchasing oil produced in the formerly British-controlled refineries. The Iranian economy was soon in ruins.... Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

America was reluctant at first to join Britain’s destructive game but Churchill (prime minister at this time) let it be known that Mossadeq was turning communist and pushing Iran into Russia's arms at a time when Cold War anxiety was high. That was enough to bring America's new president, Eisenhower, on board and plotting with Britain to bring Mossadeq down.

Chief of the CIA's Near East and Africa division, Kermit Roosevelt Jr, played the lead in a nasty game of provocation, mayhem and deception. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi signed two decrees, one dismissing Mossadeq and the other nominating the CIA's choice, General Fazlollah Zahedi, as prime minister. These decrees were written as dictated by the CIA.

In August 1953, when it was judged safe for him to do so, the Shah returned to take over. Mossadeq was arrested, tried, and convicted of treason by the Shah's military court. He remarked: “My greatest sin is that I nationalised Iran’s oil industry and discarded the system of political and economic exploitation by the world’s greatest empire… I am well aware that my fate must serve as an example in the future throughout the Middle East in breaking the chains of slavery and servitude to colonial interests.”

His supporters were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured or executed. Zahedi's new government reached an agreement with foreign oil companies to form a consortium to restore the flow of Iranian oil, awarding the US and Great Britain the lion's share - 40% going to Anglo-Iranian. The consortium agreed to split profits on a 50-50 basis with Iran but refused to open its books to Iranian auditors or allow Iranians to sit on the board.

The US massively funded the Shah's government, including his army and his hated secret police force, SAVAK. Anglo-Iranian changed its name to British Petroleum in 1954. Mossadeq died on 5 March 1967.

The CIA-engineered coup that toppled Mossadeq, reinstated the Shah and let the American oil companies in, was the final straw for the Iranians. The British-American conspiracy backfired spectacularly 25 years later with the Islamic Revolution of 1978-9, the humiliating 444-day hostage crisis in the American embassy and a tragically botched rescue mission.

Smoldering Resentment For At Least 70 Years

And all this happened before the Iran-Iraq war when the West, especially the US, helped Iraq develop its armed forces and chemical weapons arsenal which were used against Iran.  The US, and eventually Britain, leaned strongly towards Saddam in that conflict and the alliance enabled Saddam to more easily acquire or develop forbidden chemical and biological weapons. At least 100,000 Iranians fell victim to them.

This is how John King writing in 2003 summed it up…

“The United States used methods both legal and illegal to help build Saddam's army into the most powerful army in the Mideast outside of Israel. The US supplied chemical and biological agents and technology to Iraq when it knew Iraq was using chemical weapons against the Iranians. The US supplied the materials and technology for these weapons of mass destruction to Iraq at a time when it was know that Saddam was using this technology to kill his Kurdish citizens. The United States supplied intelligence and battle planning information to Iraq when those battle plans included the use of cyanide, mustard gas and nerve agents. The United States blocked UN censure of Iraq's use of chemical weapons. The United States did not act alone in this effort. The Soviet Union was the largest weapons supplier, but England, France and Germany were also involved in the shipment of arms and technology.”

And while Iranian casualties were at their highest as a result of US chemical and biological war crimes what was Mr Trump doing? He was busy acquiring the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Trump Castle, his Taj-Mahal casino, the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.... oh, and he was refitting his super-yacht Trump Princess. What does he know, understand or care about Iran and the Iranian people today?

On the British side our prime minister, Boris Johnson, was at Oxford carousing with fellow Etonians at the Bullingdon Club. What does he know or care?

The present Iranian regime, like many others, may not be entirely to the West’s liking but neither was Dr Mossadeq’s fledgeling democracy nearly 70 years ago. If Britain and America had played fair and allowed the Iranians to determine their own future instead of using economic terrorism to bring the country to its knees Iran might have been “the only democracy in the Middle East” today.

So hush! Don’t even mention the M-word: MOSSADEQ.

Stuart Littlewood worked on jet fighters in the RAF. After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also "indulged himself" as a newspaper columnist. In politics he served as a Cambridgeshire county councillor and member of the Police Authority. He also held various sales and marketing management positions in manufacturing, oil and electronics. He is a senior associate with several industrial marketing consultancies. Graduate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (MInstM). BA Hons Psychology, University of Exeter.

This article was originaly published on American Herald Tribune under CC 4

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