Statement on 254th Anniversary of British East India Company’s Treacherous Conquest

Civil society activists have written an open letter to government of India on the 254th anniversary of Battle of Plassey with an appeal to not to forget painful lessons of that Battle, which changed the course of history of India. The open letter circulated by ToxicsWatch Alliance urges the government to abandon its plan to sign FTA with European Union and to avoid signing treaties with various countries and intergovernmental organizations without explicit approval or sanction of central and state legislatures. It also wants the government to immediately put on hold the UIDAI Bill and NIAI Bill for they pose a threat to civil liberties.

The Battle of Plassey. Illustration by Peter Jackson

Statement on 254th Anniversary of British East India Company’s Treacherous Conquest

23rd June

On this Memorial Day, we call on citizens to beware of the ulterior motives of Companies Bill, 2009, National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, role of political parties that are funded by the business enterprises, the role of donor-driven NGOs and Free Trade Agreements;

We urge the Government of India to recall how fake treaty namely, White treaty was signed by the British corporate entity “when the very existence of the Company was at stake” and to abandon its plan to sign Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. This was admitted by Robert Clive in the British House of Commons of Parliament on 10th May 1773, during their Parliamentary inquiry into the Company’s conduct in India;

We disagree with the separation between rule by British East India Company and rule by British Government in India because the Company worked at the behest of the British Government and Robert Clive was made a Member of House of Commons besides being rewarded with an Irish peerage, as Lord Clive;

We recall that the Battle of Plassey was waged during the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), between the British and French Governments. This corroborates the fact that the battle was being waged by the British Government, through its British Company;

On this day in 1757, British East India Company, first chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, the English Emperor in 1600 purchased Battle of Plassey , Murshidabad, on the bank of Bhagirathi River (about 170 km from Kolkata) from Mir Zafar, Army Commander of Nawab of Bengal, a province of Hindustan when Shah Alam II was its Emperor;

We recall that around 1750, India was responsible for producing over 25 per cent of the world gross domestic product (GDP) and world’s total outputs. Following the sale of Battle of Plassey, by 1800, India’s world share had already eroded to less than a fifth, by 1860 to less than a tenth, and by 1880 to less than 3 per cent. India’s share in world manufacturing output declined precipitously in the half century 1750-1800, before company-led industrialization took hold in Britain. Currently, India’s share in the world’s GDP to around five per cent now but this is at the cost of depleting Natural Capital;

Around the world, the influence of democratic legislatures is diminishing with because of the financial might of the transnational business enterprises who are operate as companies and don myriad corporate veils in the face of feeble capacity of our legislatures to pierce through it and make them subservient to legislative will;

We wish to draw the attention of legislators and fellow citizens the fact that the world order and world economy is being shaped by the big capital in possession of financial and non-financial transnational corporations, capital that uses the sovereign state only for protection, i.e., a place for securing legality of work, capital for which intergovernmental organizations (UN, IMF, WB, WTO) serve only as levers of pressure;

We wish to inform legislators and fellow citizens that as per the latest available aggregate data, about 78,000 such companies were identified in 2006, with available assets of over 51 trillion US dollars, total sales of 25 trillion dollars and 73 million employees – compared to the aggregate GDP of all the world’s countries for that year of 48.504 trillion dollars;

We submit that as per the latest published data on a group of 2000 global companies, just the top ten non-financial transnational corporations ranked by total sales realized 2.533 trillion in sales in 2007, which is more than the aggregate GDP of 161 countries according to IMF data for 2008;.

We are alarmed at the diminishing strength of Government of India when we note that the assets of the 30 largest financial transnational corporations (from the same group of 2000 global companies from 2008) amount to 48.883 trillion dollars, or more than the world’s 2007 GDP;

In such a backdrop, on 23rd June, it may recalled that Government of India has been signing treaties with various countries and intergovernmental organizations without explicit approval or sanction of central and state legislatures;

Recalling several defections from our intelligence agencies, efforts must be made to make these agencies accountable to our democratic legislature, which is not the case at present as has been revealed starkly by Intelligence Services (Powers and Regulation) Bill, 2011;

On this special day, we urge the citizens of India to examine the proceedings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that has dealt with Companies Bill, 2009 and is dealing with Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill, 2010 before it is too late;

23rd June is also an apt day to ponder over the Statement of Concern issued in the matter of world’s biggest data management project, Unique Identification (UID) /Aadhaar Number scheme and related proposals like National Intelligence Grid by 17 eminent citizens including Justice VR Krishna Iyer to prevent `intrusive bullying’ by Government of India because the government intended to be the `servant’ of the citizens, and not their `master’. The statement underlines that national IDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia, Philippines and by the British government. Based on research of UID Number related documents and advice from jurists, legal luminaries, former intelligence officials and academicians, we are convinced that UID number and related proposals pose a threat to both civil liberties as well as our natural resources;

We are disturbed by the contempt towards Parliament and State legislatures shown by The National Identification Authority of India Bill (NIAI), 2010 which has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 3, 2010 after the constitution of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and launch of UID Number project without revealing that it is linked to the Draft Land Titling Bill, 2010, Draft Paper on Privacy Bill, 2010, Draft DNA Profiling Act, 2007 and Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations (PIII) for a National Knowledge Network besides National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), Census, National Population Register and World Bank’s eTransform Initiative to converge citizen sector, private sector and public sector in order to promote a property based regime;

We wish to draw the attention of fellow citizens towards document “Homeland Security in India” underlines the connection between UID number and National Intelligence Grid. This document has been prepared by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) with a membership of over 300,000 companies and KPMG, a transnational firm that operates in 140 countries which is affiliated to KPMG International, a Swiss agency. NATGRID wishes to hand over internal security of the country to the commercial czars and recommends private territorial armies to safeguard corporate empires;

We express grave concern over NGO networks such as National Coalition of Organisations for Security of Migrant Workers having joined hands with UIDAI. It would be relevant if they take note of the statement of concern and re-assess its relationship with the UIDAI and withdraw from it;

The list of these groups is available at

http://uidai.gov.in/UID_PDF/Front_Page_Articles/MOU/State_Registrars/Coalition_of_MigrantWorkers_NGOs.pdf

We are vigilant about the meeting of Civil Society Organisation leaders with UIDAI. Their names are available at

http://uidai.gov.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=146&Itemid=157#con

We request those civil society organisation leaders who are opposed to the UID Number and related proposals and legislations but their names appear as if they have given consent to UID Number project ought to consider getting their names removed else they might be deemed fifth columnists;

We appreciate the considered stand of Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) that works in 21 states of the country which has disassociated itself from UID Number project which was being undertaken under Mission Convergence in Delhi because it is “opposed to conditional cash transfers and the UID will be used to dictate it.” Vindicating such stance Draft National Food Security Bill, 2011 gives legal backing to the Public Distribution System (PDS), thereby excluding regressive options like cash transfers, which may have included variants like food stamps and UID-linked smart cards;

We take note of the Companies Bill, 2009 introduced in the Lok Sabha on 3rd August, 2009 [Bill No. 59 of 2009] to revise and modify the Companies Act, 1956 and to make compact by deleting provisions that had become redundant over a period of time. The Bill was referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by Yashwant Sinha whose 375 page report has been submitted to both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on 31st August, 2010;

We wish to draw the attention of citizens towards the Companies Bill that has introduced the concept of One Person Company which means a company which has only one person as a member [Clause 2(zzk)]. The memorandum of a One Person Company shall indicate the name of the person who shall, in the event of the subscriber’s death, disability or otherwise, become the member of the company: The memorandum of a company shall state the name of the company with the last word ―OPC Limited in the case of a One Person limited company: The annual return shall be signed by the Company Secretary, or where there is no Company Secretary, by one director of the Company. As per Economic Census of 2005 done by chief statistician of India there are 42 million non-farm enterprises in the country of which less than 300,000 are corporates. The concept of One Person Company is being introduced to co-opt sector like retail with the Committee of Secretaries, Government of India considering allowing 51% FDI in this sensitive sector under the influence of global retail chains like Wal-Mart, Metro and Carrefour. Indian retail market is the fifth largest in the world with the unorganised retail sector, constituting 98% of India’s retail sector;

We have observed how the Companies Bill deals with the issue of appointment of “Independent Directors”. The Parliamentary Standing Committee observes “The role and responsibilities of Independent Directors, which has been under debate, has now come into sharp focus after the failure off many high profile corporations around the world and specially in the Indian context, the M/s Satyam Computer Services episode involving fraud and financial irregularities. Clause 49 of the listing agreement as prescribed by SEBI between the Stock Exchanges and the listed company had mandated induction of Independent Directors on their Boards w.e.f. January 1, 2006. Many brush aside the Satyam episode as a one-off-case. However, this episode needs to be seen as a watershed event for the institution of Independent Directors. It is a moot point that such a huge scam could be perpetrated, and that too for several years, under the eyes of some of the most reputed and competent persons serving its Board as Independent Directors. It has raised questions that even highly qualified persons may not provide any insurance for corporate governance, as they tend to trust and provide blind support to the promoters.” But the Committee observes, “there is a need to circumscribe and limit the liabilities of Independent Directors, so that they are able to act freely and objectively” resonating the demand of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in the aftermath of the mild sentencing of Keshub Mahindra in the Bhopal Gas tragedy case. CII demanded “to treat non executive members of the Board including Non Executive Chairmen, differently when it comes to Directors’ liabilities”;

We take note of the Clause 161 of the Bill deals with the Prohibitions and Restrictions regarding political contributions. It seeks to provide the manner and limits up to which a company shall be able to contribute the amount to any political party or to any person for a political purpose. The clause further provides the manner in which every company shall disclose in its profit and loss account any amount so contributed by it during any financial year. We seek a white paper on laws relating to donations to political parties;

We have noted that contrary to the recommendations of Indrajit Gupta led all party Parliamentary Committee seeking state funding for political parties for electoral campaigns, Clause 161(1) provides that “a company, other than a Government company and a company which has been in existence for less than three financial years, may contribute any amount directly or indirectly (a) to any political party, or (b) to any person for a political purpose: Provided that the amount or, as the case may be, the aggregate of the amount which may be so contributed by the company in any financial year shall not exceed five per cent of its average net profits during the three immediately preceding financial years.

We disagree with the Parliamentary Committee headed by Yashwant Sinha which has recommended that “sub-clause 1(a) of Clause 161 may be modified so as to make it clear that „any political party‟ would mean and read as „a political party registered with the Election Commission.” The Committee also recommend that “the prescribed maximum percentage for contributions to political parties in a financial year may be raised to 7.5% from the existing 5% of the average net profits during the three immediately preceding financial years, keeping in view the fact that the number of political parties in the country has increased and such donations are not made every financial year.

We recall that Companies Bill, 2009 has been proposed in compliance with the recommendations of an Expert Committee on New Company Law headed by Dr J. J. Irani, Director, Tata Sons Limited that submitted its report to the Government on 31st May, 2005. The proposal stipulating a mandatory 2 per cent spend of annual profit on corporate social responsibility is just a public relations exercise. The Companies bill, 2008 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 23rd October 2008 but due to dissolution of 14th Lok Sabha, the Companies Bill, 2008 lapsed.

When the British government chartered company took control of India, it was one of the richest countries in the world, when it left India in 1947 due to a legislation of the British Parliament; it became one of the poorest countries in the world.

Therefore, we urge fellow citizens to take cognizance of the retail sector’s contribution of 14% to the national GDP and it employing 7% of the total workforce (only agriculture employs more) in the country that the retail industry is one of the pillars of our economy.

In such a context, Free Trade Agreements with countries like EU and Japan, Companies Bill, FDI in retail, UID Number and related proposals have emerged as a threat to citizens of India, our socialist constitution, economy and national sovereignty;

We salute the sacrifice of the soldiers led by Mir Madan, the commander of Nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Plassey;

We applaud the role of Mohan Lal, the commander of Nawab of Bengal Battle of Plassey;

We reiterate the condemnation of treachery committed by Mir Zafar, Rai Durlabh, Yar Lutuf Khan and Omichand, “the most material engine in the intended revolution” by the British Company;

On this historic day, we call upon citizens to combat the act of silencing of invisible and inconvenient historical facts about our histories especially about 1757, 1764, 1857 and 1947 and those who were loyal to British East India Company;

We call on all thinking fellow citizens of India to recognize transnational or intergovernmental or non-governmental organization -be it financial and non financial- to be a “political institution”. The British Company too was a political organizations as is the with associations of companies;

The Battle of Plassey may have been sold or lost to British East India Company, let us resolve to identify both the true defenders of sovereignty and the traitors and remind ourselves of the lessons 23rd June has for the Indians to ensure that history of our defeat is not repeated ever again.

Gopal Krishna

ToxicsWatch Alliance

New Delhi, Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480

E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com, krishna1764@rediffmail.com

Blog: toxicswatch.blogspot.com Web: http://www.toxicswatch.com

Clive examining the Bengal infantry lines from the roof of the Navab's hunting lodge/ Battle of Plassey from the Illustrated London News, 1893

Mir Jafar and his son Miran delivering the Treaty of 1757 to William Watts. Platinotype by Henry Dixon and Son, London, c.1890 (BL)

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