Giraffes Africa-India-China – and other exchanges.

GiraffeValmik Thapar, in Exotic Aliens: The Lion and the Cheetah in India, reports that Jahangir was gifted a giraffe. Anand Yang in Bazaar India: Peasants, Traders, Markets in Bihar, reports that ruler of Bengal [it was Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah (reigned 1413–1414)] gifted a giraffe to the Chinese Emperor. What a gift to give, a giraffe! The gift of a giraffe by Bengal to the court of China in 1414. Got to also get hold of an article by Sally Church ‘The Giraffe of Bengal: A Medieval Encounter in Ming China’. I’m afraid I have little to add on this but awe. Giraffes! Even if I also know the trade in long necked beasts goes back some time before these Mughal exchanges with Africa – here, a photograph from Konark temple near Puri, 11 century C.E.

Meanwhile, I am also reading reading Murari Kumar Jha, 2013, The Political Economy of the Ganga River: Highway of State Formation in Mughal India, c. 1600-1800. Seeking out Danish smuggling/piracy back in the day…

fn 97 The first reference to opium purchase by the VOC at Patna come in the year 1652, see W. Ph. Coolhaas, ed., Generale Missiven van Gouverneurs-Generaal en Raden aan Heren XVII der Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, vol. 2, 1639–1655 (’s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964), 622, Reniers, Maetsuyker, enz. VII, 24.12.1652. But even before the VOC started buying opium from Bihar, the Muslim merchants seems to have been purchasing this commodity for Southeast Asia. This becomes clear from the cargoes of one of the two ships which both were captured in 1649 by Leyel, a Danish commander, before they reached Balasore. The ship with opium was destined for Aceh, see Coolhaas, ed., Generale Missiven, 2:348–49, Van der Lijn, Caron, enz. VIII, 18.01.1649. In 1641 the VOC was already buying some opium at Surat for the Malabar Coast, see Coolhaas, ed., Generale Missiven, 2:145, Van Diemen, Van der Lijn, enz. XVII, 12.12.1641

Quid pro Quo – Subversive Festival, Zagreb (2nd vid)

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 14.39.22

My third talk in a series of three on capital was at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb. The second talk is here (Translating Capital in Context) and it makes sense to see the second talk first [the first one in Rijeka was not recorded, but was based on my text on Citizen Kane], not least because it will help explain why the conceit in this third talk has Marx relocated to India, which of course he was always deeply interested in, but he never went, only picking up bits of info, and some myths – eg the horror stories of Jagannath etc – from his wide-ranging and varied reading. I think it is justified to deploy Marx to Calcutta, at least in fantasy, though its true not even Engels took his father’s advice to go to Calcutta to start in business. The old boys were European bound, but this did not mean they did not seek out the revolution elsewhere.

What also should be mentioned (the parts here are – great job – edited and slightly reordered, and the opening by Bernard missed) is that in this talk I set out to look at three different moments. 1) the arrival of Clive in Calcutta after the ‘sham scandal’ of the Black Hole in 1756; 2) the first all-India war of Independence, the so-called ‘mutiny’ 100 years later and; 3) the quid pro quo return of originary capital to the site of the East India Company shipyard in London in present times, under the aegis of the Farrell’s development of Convoys’ Wharf, Deptford, for Hutchinson Whampoa.

I am slowly writing this out as a long, too long, chapter, so this version is pretty schematic, but you will get the drift of new work. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks also to the crew at Subversive, especially Karolina Hrga, and Bernard Koludrović who was chair.

Abstract:

“Marx writing on India is key to understanding Capital. My argument is that we can make sense of Marx today by examining his theoretical and journalistic work together, each informed by an emergent anthropology, by historical hermeneutics, by a critique of political economy and by attention to a global political contest that mattered more than philosophy. Marx reading history, already against the grain and without being able to make actual alliances, is nevertheless seeking allies in a revolutionary cause. Is it possible to observe Marx coming round to realise, after the shaping experience of the 1848-1852 European uprisings, the possibilities for the many different workers of the world to unite? I consider the sources Marx finds available, what he reads, and how his writing practice parses critical support as habitual politics, and how far subcontinental events, themes and allegories are a presence in the key moves of his masterwork Capital almost as if India were a refocused bromide for Europe, just as slavery is for wages. I will take up four cases – the ‘founding’ of Calcutta by Job Charnock (disputed); the story of Clive sacking Chandernagore and going on to defeat Suraj-ud-duala at Palashi/Plassey in 1757 in retaliation for the ‘Black Hole’ (did it exist?); Disraeli verbosely saying nothing about the so-called Indian ‘mutiny’ 1857 (‘the East as a career’); and the question of legalizing Opium in China and the advent of Matheson-Jardine Company after the East India Company comes to an end (‘quid pro quo’). All of this brings us back to the realities of global investment and regeneration in Europe today, as international capital returns to the port of London to redevelop the old East India Company shipyards in Deptford.”

15/5/2014, 21h, Cinema Europa, Zagreb, Croatia
John Hutnyk: Quid pro quo: the East as a career
7th Subversive festival: “Power and Freedom in the Time of Control”
Moderator: Bernard Koludrović

Danish colonial ties

Danskemaritime

Some maritime gems in the library yesterday… ”Serampore had a certain importance to the illicit Anglo-Danish trade thanks to its facilities for anonymity and customs easements’ (Feldbaek 1969:199). Indeed, Feldbaek suggests that because of English East India Company restrictions, some 80-90% of goods sent from Bengal to Copenhagen were not consumed in Copenhagen, but moved along in various ways to London as the goods were shipped by English and Anglo-Indian traders working under Danish flags. In the late 18th century he suggests Serampore was more important than Tranquebar for the Asiatic trade (p232). This is in large part remittances because ‘by far the most part of the Anglo-Indian fortunes had to be sent to England through the foreign European companies (Feldbaek 1969:27) and banned ‘country trade’ by English EIC officials had been ‘driven underground and forced to seek cover of foreign European flags’ (Feldbaek 1969:11).

RELEASE JONATHAN BOARD – [Maoist] political prisoner in Kerala

Jonathan

India: Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners : An Appeal to International Community on behalf of Jonathan (Bold) Board

The Arrest of the Swiss citizen Jonathan Board who came to Kerala on tourist visa, by Kerala police on flimsy grounds, is highly discriminative and with ulterior motive.

After the arrest in order to justify the same Kerala police is fabricating canards, that Jonathan has link with Maoists and he has come to attend the memorial meeting organized by Maoists to show the respect towards the Maoist Guerilla fighter Sinoj who became martyr in an accidental explosion took place on june 16th of 2014.

The police also alleged that Jonathan addressed the meeting hence violated Foreigners Act.

The police has taken a case against him and incarcerated in the dungeon hole named Iringalakkuda Sub Jail,Thrissur District,Kerala.

I was the Chairperson of the Sinoj Memorial Committee that organized the meeting and was a main Speaker.

As the Chairperson I wish to state that Jonathan was neither an invitee to the meeting nor a speaker.

And he did not addressed the meeting as the police was trying to depict with a sinster view.

According to Jonathan, he came to the meeting only out of curiosity as he is a left lenient person.

He got the information of the meeting from an English Daily News Paper.

He listen to the speeches delivered in the meeting up to the end.

In the meantime he also purchased some English handbooks.

As the meeting was formerly over Jonathan himself approached the organizers and expressed his wish to introduce himself to the audience who was started disbursing.

Out of the same curiosity as the Chairperson I agreed to his longing.

He introduced himself and expressed that he also share our sorrow caused by Sinoj’s martyrdom. It was only a casual talk,any humanitarian from any corner of the World can express.

The police and the state which is a culprit in granting V.I.P treatment to the Italian marines who had violated the international water laws as well as Indian laws and shot two fishermen to death is now taking a different approach to meet their narrow political ends.

It is deplorable.

And I/We regret for the unfortunate faith met out with Jonathan, though created by state , and request to the progressive and democratic forces and personalities of International Community to intervene in Jonathan’s affair and put pressure on the India/Kerala governments and see that his release from the Jail unconditionally.

M.N Ravunni Vice President, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners
Kerala, India

ENIG-MAS Rich Mix – Sat 17 May 2014 at 1pm Free / Main Space / Unreserved Seating

The play Enig-Mas asks: What is woman? What is man? Where does love lie when you’re on a political quest? What does it take to be a revolutionary? Set in 1930s India and Bengal and modern Britain in 2000s, Professor Raminder Kaur of University of Sussex, has written a new play inspired partly by the 1931 novel, Kuhelika (Enigma) by the renowned Indian writer and poet/ national poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam. This play puts a searing lens on relations between men and women in times of political turbulence. It is one of the plays in the new season from Mukul and Ghetto Tigers directed by Mukul Ahmed.

The story covers a period of 7 decades through generational and geographical connections, characters that are vastly separated by time and space, but intimately connected through blood and passion. It is partly set in 1930s pre-independent India and Bengal, and 2000s Britain. Jahangeer, an impressionable young man, is gradually turned into a protagonist of revolution against British colonial rule. His high-class Muslim background proves to be an asset in circumventing British surveillance when the main ‘trouble-makers’ are identified as Hindus, making a marked contrast to the present era. Through the play we witness with the characters, the joy and horrors of revolutionary struggle, the sacrifices and dangers as well games and dilemma of loyalties and personal pain and loss.

The play relates a series of incidents inextricably interlinked through sorrow, grief, humour and happiness. Love, hatred and extreme emotions are laid out in multiple scenarios and deeply moving music and dramatic style. It makes for a memorable theatre experience through a story that reaches out from the past and embraces the present with echoes and meaningful questions that probe who we were, what we have become and suggest possibilities for all our futures.


www.mukulandghettotigers.com