Thursday, March 27, 2014

Centre for Science and Environment's links with Public Health Fraud of India (PHFI)

This is my open letter - mailed Thursday 27 March 2014 - to Anumita Roy Chowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) who is participating tomorrow in the "foundation-day" function of Public Health Fraud of India (PHFI).

Dear Ms Anumita Roy Chowdhury,
Executive Director (research and advocacy)
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
New Delhi

It's interesting to find your name on the list of participants in Public Health Foundation of India's foundation-day celebrations on Friday, 28 March 2014 – not surprising though given A.K. Shiva Kumar’s presence on the boards of both CSE and PHFI.

Your and CSE's work on air pollution is a bit of a contrast to Anand Mahindra-chaired PHFI. It can't be easy avoiding Big Business these days.

Mukesh Ambani - from whom India buys a lot of 'gas' for American dollars - used to be one of the members of PHFI governing board. I am sure his affairs at PHFI board are now being looked after well by R.A. Mashelkar, former Director General of CSIR and now a member of the Board of Directors of Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL). 

Mashelkar is, of course, a versatile and hard-working personality. How does he manage to juggle Ambani's job with also being a Director at Tata Motors, Hindustan Unilever, Thermax Ltd, KPIT Cummins Infosystems, IKP Knowledge Park, Piramal Enterprises (formerly Piramal Healthcare) and several private limited companies I cannot begin to imagine.

He is even a Director of Reliance Gene Medix Plc., a company incorporated outside India. 

I am sure Mashelkar -- like other capable members of the PHFI board (such as Shiva Kumar, who’s been on your CSE, Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council and Rajat Gupta’s ISB, Harpal Singh of private hospital chain Fortis, and N.R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys who is 'PE'-invested into Wellspring Healthcare and Manipal Global) - has a supremely delicate understanding of avoidance of conflict of interests.

Not very long ago, former McKinsey head Rajat Gupta gave a demonstration of that delicate understanding. He resigned from the chairmanship of PHFI even before he was arrested by the FBI on charges of securities fraud. He knew his interests as a securities fraud accused could conflict with his responsibilities as chairman of PHFI board, filled as it has been with such Cabinet-rank eminences as Montek Singh Ahluwalia (Deputy Chair of the Planning Commission) and T.K.A. Nair (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Principal Secretary).

And Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was very careful to take as long as a few weeks after "launching" PHFI on 28 March 2006 on behalf of worthies led by Rajat Gupta to plough into this "public health" club his government's whole-hearted support, starting with Rs 65 crore 'grant-in-aid' from the public treasury.

It's like a luscious cherry on a rich (Bill) Gateau - baked lovingly by Ashok Alexander who's been loyally serving Microsoft founder on the board of PHFI ever since joining Rajat Gupta in putting together this exclusive club. (A "friend, mentor and occasional coach” is how Alexander described Gupta - now going to jail - at the trial of the latter in Galleon insider trading case.)

The rest, as they say, is glorious history of hundreds of crores of more public “grants-in-aid”, lucrative unbid contracts, generous giveaways of parcels of land, approvals, authorizations, ‘research’ institute status from DSIR,  stewardship/membership of each of the crucial health policy committees, a cart blanche to recast India's "public health".... leading up to the auspicious day on 28 March 2014 when you will rub shoulders with the likes of Prof. Michael Greenstone of MIT at the panel discussion on "air pollution and public health".

Talking about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it’s but an insignificant detail that he and his government consistently used falsehood and fraud in turning a private club into an enormously privileged "public health" body by claiming, according to their convenience, to the Parliament and the citizens that PHFI was a ‘Public-Private Partnership’ or an ‘autonomous body’ (even “autonomous PPP”) while it was (and is) neither.

I understand fully that it’s rather difficult to improve "public health" without engaging in falsehood and fraud.

I'd be remiss if I fail to point out here the role that McKinsey & Co. -- whose men, now Gautam Kumra and Prashanth Vasu, continue to be an inalienable part of PHFI board right from the very beginning -- has been playing in improving the "public health" of various countries, such as the United Kingdom.

The Daily Mail reported in February 2012, for instance, that McKinsey played a key role in Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s "reforms" to recast UK's National Health Service (NHS).

"The firm that hijacked the NHS: MoS investigation reveals extraordinary extent of international management consultant's role in Lansley's health reforms," the Daily Mail headlined.

The British newspaper used the Freedom of Information Act to reveal McKinsey’s myriad links to the "reforms". For instance, proposals were drawn up by McKinsey and included in the reform legislation wholesale. "One document says the firm has used its privileged access to ‘share information’ with its corporate clients – which include the world’s biggest private hospital firms – who are now set to bid for health service work."

"The company is already benefiting from contracts worth undisclosed millions with GPs arising from the Bill."


Having been writing about PHFI since March 2011 (when I published my first article, titled, 'Manmohan Singh's Public-Private Partnership with Rajat Gupta'), I should also point out that K. Srinath Reddy, with whom you'd share the dais tomorrow, has been so enthusiastic a "president" that he doesn't hesitate to forge documents and send them to information seekers under the RTI Act, like he did with me. ('Annexure B' in the files attached with mail is Srinath Reddy's work of art in forgery.)

It’s also a mere fact that PHFI cocked a snook at the RTI law for six years before the Central Information Commission indicted and fined this private club scrounging off public money for non-compliance and expressed its "dismay" that "the highest levels of public servants in India” – i.e. Manmohan, Montek and the rest – “did not accept the citizen’s enforceable right to information in PHFI, despite the government substantially funding it and exercising some control".

(The CIC decision of 14 February 2012 is attached with this mail.)

I feel almost embarrassed to be expanding "PHFI" to "Public Health Fraud of India" in my most recent article (published 24 March 2014) and finding out in my investigations that it's an organization wholly fraudulent in its conception, formation and operation.


Embarrassed, because these are mere facts while "public health" improvement takes no less than falsehood and fraud.

By the way, the first two key articles of mine in the series on PHFI can be read on the links pasted below.



I'd sent letters about PHFI's deeds - such as fraud and forgery - to the health ministry and several members of the board of this private club, including Amartya Sen, the venerable "Nobel Laureate". My complaint to the health ministry elicited only an acknowledgement, no action. None of the board members, Amartya Sen and SEWA's Mirai Chatterjee included, chose to acknowledge my letter. A copy of the letter to the health ministry is attached with this mail and a copy of the email sent to Sen is pasted at the bottom.

Also attached with this mail is a PDF containing information obtained through RTI -- forwarded to me by Dr. Arun Gupta of IBFAN (breastfeeding network) and AACI (Alliance Against Conflict of Interest) -- on PHFI's links with Pfizer, Merck Sharp & Dohme Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson.  

An early article on PHFI's formation and objectives authored by Prof. C. Sathyamala, a well-known Indian public health activist (who wrote 'Taking Sides', a book that critically evaluates the problems with the Indian health care system), is attached with this mail.

More of my articles on this "public health" club can be read on the following links.




Regards,
Kapil Bajaj
------

Monday, March 24, 2014

Public Health Fraud of India (PHFI): Here’s why Manmohan Singh deserves the fate of his crony Rajat Gupta

This article - which I wrote in October 2012 and is still incomplete - is a sequel to two articles I'd published in March 2011 and September 2012 whose links are pasted below.

http://kbforyou.blogspot.in/2011/03/manmohan-singhs-public-private.html

http://kbforyou.blogspot.in/2012/09/with-phfi-falsification-is-truth.html

This series of articles explains what I call the 'Public Health Fraud of India' or PHFI whose foremost perpetrator is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

As I noted above, this article was written in October 2012, but could not be completed then or subsequently taken up for completion, for various reasons. It's, however, quite substantial in its current form and is an important part of the painful research I'd done on PHFI, which must be shared with those who need this information now. Several public health-related people have been requesting me to publish this article at the earliest.

So, rather than waiting more for the time when I'd be able to take it to its final form, I am publishing the article in its current incomplete form and hope to publish supplementary material in my succeeding posts.

The article pasted below explains that Public Health Foundation of India (or PHFI whose 'F' should always be read as 'fraud' rather than 'foundation') is neither a 'public-private partnership' (PPP) nor an 'autonomous body', as the Manmohan Singh government claimed repeatedly.

That is, PHFI's formation and existence had nothing, whatsoever, to do with the PPP rules notified by the finance ministry. And PHFI's supposed status as an 'autonomous body' has nothing to do with the General Financial Rules (GFR), 2005, which apply to the formation of 'autonomous bodies'.

Manmohan Singh government falsely claimed alternatively, within and outside Parliament, that PHFI is a "PPP" or "autonomous body" or "autonomous PPP", thus committing a gargantuan fraud on the people as well as the Parliament - the latter being a fraudulent breach of Parliamentary privilege.

Equally massive is the falsehood and fraud that Manmohan Singh and his government used in first posing PHFI as an organization that was to engage only in education, research and career-building and then expanding its remit to include anything and everything that can be pushed under the rubric of "public health", including policy making and legislation drafting. 

PHFI is now 'the government' vastly more powerful than the central ministry of health and family welfare. This private club, which sponges on hundreds of crore of grants and other public support, has come to be an unelected and unlawful 'government', accountable only to a coterie of business owners who control it. 

Manmohan Singh, who's personally responsible for creating and supporting PHFI, is liable for prosecution for fraud and corruption, under various sections of various statutes, and should go to jail.

A full investigation will reveal the full scale of this massive fraud and many subordinate frauds, such as the illegalities in the formation/registration of PHFI society and the large number of lucrative contracts and other benefits that have been granted to this illegal and fraudulent organization without following the rules of public procurement.

Since I published my first article in March 2011, there has been huge pressure from the PMO on the mainstream media to prevent them from investigating further.

I had given some of the contours of the fraud to a senior journalist from DNA, an award-winning scam buster who had contacted me in the middle of 2012, but nothing came out of that.
-----

New Delhi (October 2012): Last June, when a US court held Rajat Gupta, the former head of McKinsey & Co, guilty of securities fraud, the sword of justice also brushed past Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself.

Being the conviction of a wheeler-dealer who has long had an “open door” to the PMO, the verdict of the 12-member jury represented a much closer encounter that Manmohan Singh or any of his associates has had so far with penal justice; it was closer, in terms of establishment of guilt, than the arrest and indictment of former telecom minister A. Raja − who’s since been freed on bail − in 2G spectrum scam case.

The verdict was also a reminder that if justice had indeed been allowed to run its course in India, many of the high and mighty would find themselves in jail.

An RBI investigation revealed, for instance, that Rajat Gupta, a US citizen since 1984, colluded with other foreign investors in making an illicit purchase of shares in Tamilnad Mercantile Bank and transferred his shares to another foreign investor in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Manmohan Singh, to take another example, has been abusing the prime ministerial office and public resources to promote and support Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a private club put together by Gupta, as a policy making body under the wholly fraudulent cover of a ‘public-private partnership’ (PPP).

While the Enforcement Directorate continues to “look into” Gupta’s alleged wrongdoing more than two years after it was reported by the RBI, Manmohan Singh being an Indian Prime Minister is virtually protected from any suggestion of an independent inquiry of his misconduct, let alone an inquiry itself.

Gupta has a record of more dubious dealings in India. And even without an inquiry a lot more is plainly evident in Prime Minister’s dubious dealings with the businessman, who is set to be sentenced on October 17, and his commercial network.

PHFI: an elaborate fraud
The most interesting manifestation of Manmohan Singh’s association with Rajat Gupta is Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), an organization wholly fraudulent in its conception, formation, objectives and operation. It is dominated by Big Business, but has been allowed to thrive on hundreds of crores of public money.

PHFI has also been advertised, fraudulently, as a “public-private partnership” in order to be given the privileges of a governmental authority with no public accountability. In over six years of its existence, PHFI has gone far in building its illegal empire and exercising its baleful influence on public health policy and administration with enormous costs to the citizens.

Based on information available in the public domain and obtained through RTI, this article explains why PHFI is an outright fraud on the citizens of India and a new low in the degradation of the concept of democratic accountability that has taken place under Manmohan Singh government. It shows how the government has been using terms like ‘PPP’ and ‘autonomous PPP’ to hoodwink the public and the Parliament about PHFI’s formation, identity, privileges, area of work and influence.

The intent behind this fraud has been to give powerful business interests a back-door entry into government, so that they are able to shape public health policy to serve their narrow private interests and gain control over public resources.

The establishment of PHFI also betrays the contempt with which the current regime has treated public health of over a billion people.

The illegal beginnings
The role of the government in conceiving and planning PHFI remains a mystery with no attempt by the official channels to explain how this organization was conjured up in early 2006.

(The morning after the “launch” of PHFI by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Indian Express reported: “The PHFI initiative has been collaboratively developed over the last two years under the leadership of Rajat Gupta of McKinsey, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Srinath Reddy, head of the Department of Cardiology at AIIMS.”)

According to the information – which is not free from dubiousness – released by PHFI under RTI Act, it was registered as a society (under the Societies Registration Act of 1860) on 08 February 2006 in Delhi by the following eight men who also formed its first governing body.

(a)    Rajat Gupta, then a senior partner in McKinsey. He was the prime mover in the creation of PHFI and became the chairman of the governing board within weeks of the registration of the organization. Gupta was compelled to relinquish the post in March 2011 after being charged in the US with involvement in Galleon insider trading ring.
(b)   Gautam Kumra of McKinsey. He has been a member of PHFI’s governing body from the very beginning.
(c)    Prashanth Vasu of McKinsey.
(d)   Ashok Alexander, country director of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which he joined in 2003 after 16 years at McKinsey. Alexander has also been a member of PHFI’s governing body from the very beginning. He described Rajat Gupta as a “friend, mentor and occasional coach” at the trial of the latter in Galleon insider trading case.
(e)    K Srinath Reddy, then a cardiologist at AIIMS. He has been heading Manmohan’s official medical panel and been Gupta’s right hand man in all matters PHFI. He used his access to the Prime Minister to wangle an unlawful five-year “deputation” to be made the president of PHFI. Having taken voluntary retirement from AIIMS after the five-year term, he continues full time as PHFI president at a salary of Rs 60 lakh per annum plus perks.
(f)    RA Mashelkar, then Director-General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). He has been associated with American India Foundation and Indian School of Business, both of which organizations list Gupta as one of their founders. He has also been a member of the board of PHFI since its inception.
(g)   Ajay Bahl of law firm AZB & Partners.
(h)   Raman Sharma of law firm AZB & Partners.

Two of the eight ‘main objects’ that PHFI’s memorandum of association lists are setting up public health institutes and “driving” research and consultancy for “shaping public health policies” through the help of central and state governments, corporate houses and other agencies.

PHFI claims its governing body enlarged itself to 24 members − who were drawn primarily from Big Business, corporate-funded international foundations (like Gates Foundation) and the central government − on 27 March 2006, i.e. a day before the organization was “launched”. 

The enlarged board, shows the information released by PHFI, had four officials of the ministry of health and family welfare: Prasanna Hota, Secretary, Nirmal Ganguly, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, RK Srivastava, Director General, Health Services, and K Sujatha Rao, DG, National AIDS Control Organization.

That takes, together with Reddy and Mashelkar, government officials on PHFI board to six.

In comes the Prime Minister
Manmohan “launched” PHFI on 28 March 2006 in a function attended by his ministerial colleagues (Anbumani Ramadoss, Panabaka Lakshmi, Kapil Sibal), top bureaucrats, K. Srinath Reddy (then senior cardiologist at AIIMS), Rajat Gupta (head of McKinsey & Co.), Barry R. Bloom (Dean of Harvard School of Public Health), Amartya Sen (the Nobel laureate whose presence on the PHFI board has played its part in camouflaging the real identity of the organization) and other worthies.

In his 1732-words speech, the Prime Minister referred twice to PHFI as a “public-private partnership” without ever naming any of the public partner(s) or the private partner(s). He made no reference to any contractual arrangement between the two sides nor outlined the contribution of any party to the purported PPP. He, however, did thank “all donors” including “the corporates who have contributed to this laudable effort” and “several international academic institutions of high repute”.

(No one is better placed than Manmohan Singh to know the specific meaning that the Government of India attaches to “public-private partnerships”, including the ones in the ‘social sector’. At the time of his speech, he was the chairman of the Committee on Infrastructure, the highest decision-making body on PPP policy matters then.)

He also said, “The setting up of the PHFI presents a unique opportunity to develop innovative models of public-private partnership in major social sector programmes.”

Speaking of the need for “managers of health and not just of diseases”, Manmohan commended the 7-weeks-old organization (whose fuller governing body came into existence the previous day) “in taking this initiative to bridge a critical gap in health education and in blazing a trail by setting up a series of public health schools”. He congratulated Rajat Gupta “for the efforts that he has made to give concrete shape to this idea”.

The Prime Minister also set PHFI sweeping objectives, calling on it “to develop an Indian agenda both in academics and research,” and hoping that it “will invest in capacity-building in existing public health institutions across the country” and “our state governments will find it beneficial to partner your initiative”.

Unexplained largesse
On 6 July 2006, i.e. 14 weeks after Manmohan conjured up PHFI out of thin air, the government announced that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (chaired by the PM) had approved a “one time contribution of Rs 65 crore to the initial Rs 200 crore corpus of PHFI”.

A notification issued by the CCEA said: “The PHFI basically aims to improve the public health human resource capacity and advocacy in India” by doing the following (seven items under three headings).

(i) Strengthening Education in Public Health: (a) Building new world class institutions of public health in India, (b) Strengthening existing such institutions, both within the government and outside, (c) Creating a critical mass of high quality faculty in the field of public health.

(ii) Setting Standards in Public Health Education: Improving quality of public health education, by clearly defining academic standards in public health education.

(iii) Strengthening Research and Policy in Public Health: (a) Conducting high impact, India relevant research in public health, (b) Using the research to empower national programme and enable appropriate policy formulation, (c) Working with the governments (central and state), as also the private sector, to create meaningful career tracks for public health professionals.

Interestingly, the notification of 06 July 2006 contains no descriptor for PHFI. The organization is neither described as a “public-private partnership” nor is there a mention of any agreement between the public and private partners that a PPP would require.

There is also no explanation as to the nature of the “one time contribution” of Rs 65 crore. What justified this expenditure of public money? Why was this “one time contribution” needed to be made? What made PHFI deserving of this governmental support? Who asked for it, on what grounds, in what form of proposal? What did that proposal, if any, contain? What were the terms and conditions governing this “one time contribution”?

None of these questions is addressed in the notification, which adds that the rest of the corpus “is being generated” from Gates Foundation (Rs 65 crore) and “approximately Rs 80-90 crore is being generated from an assortment of high net worth of Indians from all over the world”.

The to-do list is also very interesting, containing as it does only those items that are related to education, research and careers in public health, and nothing else.

It would indeed be a stretch to interpret any of the seven listed items to mean that PHFI was to directly participate in policy formulation or enjoy the privilege of being awarded government projects without competition or receive foreign aid as part of the agreements that the Government of India has signed with the foreign governments – though that is what has actually transpired.

Money first, plan later
On 28 July 2006, the ministry of health and family welfare issued a letter to K Srinath Reddy, President of PHFI, informing him that the “competent authority has approved the proposal for one time grant of Rs 65 crore to the PHFI corpus”.

The letter asked for the following seven items of information to be furnished “in order to facilitate the release of funds”: (a) Roadmap for the activities, (b) Progress achieved in receipt of fund from abroad and within India as indicated during the launch on 28 March 2006 for the corpus, (c) Status of getting possession of land and plan to start the first school, (d) The decision on the number of schools to be built, (e) Action plan for curriculum design and development, (f) Action plan for strengthening the collaborative arrangements with the existing Indian institutions engaged in public health education, (g) Action plan for demand survey in states for public health professionals passing out of PHFI schools.

What is immediately noticeable in this letter is the introduction of the word “proposal” for the planned financial support for PHFI, without an explanation as to when and where it originated and what it contained. And “one time grant” has replaced the earlier usage, “one time contribution.”

Obviously, the government was determined to pour public funds into PHFI anyhow and decided in just 22 days since the 06 July notification that the “one time contribution” would have to be clothed as a grant-in-aid.

Positioning the largesse as grant-in-aid would mean that PHFI would now have to be described as an “autonomous body” in order for the government support to pass muster.

The descriptor “public-private partnership” would be toned down for a while after which it would be used together with “autonomous body” – as a new term invented especially for PHFI – or interchangeably.

The 28 July letter also reveals the absurdity of the situation − in PM-headed CCEA and then the “competent authority” approving a large public investment in a non-entity even before ascertaining basic facts such as its “roadmap of activities” and “action plans”. This charade only serves to betray the larger game of the creation of PHFI as a front for a network of corporate interests, which then waits to be legitimized and propped up by the government with public money and other kinds of support.

Also revealing is PHFI being asked to furnish information on “progress achieved in receipt of fund from abroad and within India as indicated during the launch on 28 March 2006 for the corpus” − four months after the Prime Minister “launched” the organization and thanked “all donors who have graciously contributed to this noble effort”. 

It is noteworthy that the seven items of information contained in the 28 July letter also deal with only education, research and careers in public health, and nothing else. 

Misleading the Parliament
On 24 November 2006, in reply to a query, Panabaka Lakshmi, the then minister of state for health, informed the Rajya Sabha of the decision of the government to support PHFI.

“The Government has decided to support the PHFI in setting up of world class Institutes of Public Health in India. PHFI is an autonomous body. The Government of India proposes to contribute as one-time grant up to Rs 65 crore only to the initial Rs 200 crore PHFI corpus. PHFI initially proposes to set up two schools. The locations have yet to be decided by PHFI,” an official press release quoted Lakshmi as informing the Rajya Sabha.

Two obvious points to note in this statement are that PHFI has once again been described as an organization that will engage only in education-related work and the descriptor “autonomous body” has been introduced with no mention of “public-private partnership”.

Did the minister mean that PHFI was an “autonomous body” as Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is an autonomous body under the ministry of health?

Neither the ministry, however, has ever listed PHFI as an “autonomous body” on its website nor has PHFI − with top-most health ministry officials on its board − ever described itself as an autonomous body under the ministry.

ICMR, National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW) and several other organizations describe themselves as autonomous bodies under the jurisdiction of the ministry and are subject to CAG audit and the RTI Act 2005.

PHFI has neither been asked to submit to regular public audits nor to meet the statutory requirements for transparency, though it was compelled by an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC), passed on 14 February 2012, to start complying with the RTI Act.

Further, in the matter of setting up of autonomous bodies, the very first principle that General Financial Rules 2005 require the central government to adhere to reads: “No new autonomous institutions should be created by ministries or departments without the approval of the Cabinet”.

The GFR 2005 say: “Stringent criteria should be followed for setting up of new autonomous organizations and the type of activities to be undertaken by them. The Ministry or Department should examine in detail; (a) whether the activities proposed to be taken up are necessary at all; (b) whether these activities, if necessary, need to be undertaken by setting up an autonomous organisation only or whether these could be performed by the concerned government agency or any other organisation already existing.”

These rules also say that autonomous bodies with a budgetary support of more than Rs five crores per annum should be required to enter into an MoU with the ministry or department, spelling out the “output targets” and “input requirements”.

No Cabinet approval
There is nothing in the public domain to show that Cabinet approval was taken for setting up PHFI. Indeed, the government would have us believe that it had no role to play in bringing together the eight men who registered PHFI as a society on 8 February 2006.

The CCEA decision to give Rs 65 crore to PHFI came nearly five months after the registration with no mention of any Cabinet approval or use of the descriptor “autonomous body”.

Nor is any “stringent criterion” evident in CCEA deciding to make a contribution of Rs 65 crore to an organization registered few weeks ago by a bunch of manipulators and front men feigning an interest in improving India’s public health without any expertise or experience in this vital area of public policy and administration.

There is no publicly available proof of any ministry having signed an MoU with PHFI to make the latter spell out its “output targets” and “input requirements” in line with GFR 2005.

Lying to the Parliamentary panel
Considering the demand for grants (2006-07), the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare “cautioned” the government – in relation to PHFI which the department concerned described as a “Public-Private Partnership” – that “the track record of private sector participation in health sector has not been very helpful so far as public at large is concerned”. A number of corporate hospitals had failed “miserably” to provide free treatment to the poor after having received land from the government at cheap rates, said the panel and pointed out that the “so called public-private sector” had penetrated the state health systems also.

“The committee is not much convinced by the contention of the department that this experiment will be confined to the area of public (medical) education only. The committee would like to be apprised about the full details of this initiative.”           

The government responded by saying that “PHFI is created for capacity building in public health education, training and research”.

Here the government is clearly assuring the parliamentary panel that PHFI would only engage in educational and research work and that’s all there was to the “experiment”.

That was a patently false assurance as PHFI has been engaged directly in formulation of public health policy by being given membership of all important committees of the government.

For example, PHFI acted – at full public cost – as the secretariat for the High Level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage that was chaired by its president K Srinath Reddy and whose report is currently being considered by the government.
Belying its assurance, the government has also been granting lucrative assignments to PHFI without any competitive bidding.

For instance, PHFI charged the government more than Rs 1.68 crore for developing healthy-india.org website which gives vitally useful health tips, such as the benefits of eating home-cooked food, washing hands after using the toilet, and keeping the nails short and clean.

More falsification
The government told the Parliamentary standing committee that PHFI was managed by an “independent governing board” that had three representatives of the health ministry. It added: “TKA Nair, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister; MS Ahluwalia, Vice Chairman, Planning Commission; Sujata Rao, AS&PD, NACO (National AIDS Control Organization); Dr. Mashelkar, DG of CSIR, are also members of the governing board. The presence of the officials from government would ensure that the decisions taken in PHFI are in consonance with the objectives for which PHFI has been supported by Government of India”.

That assurance is also based on falsehood. The rules and regulations of PHFI have ensured that the government has never had anything more than a cosmetic role to play in decisions made by the organization.

The rules not only limit the number of government representatives on PHFI board to a meagre proportion of the total membership, but also give non-government members (read Big Business) the super-majority to decide who would be considered a “government representative” and, generally, who should simply be thrown out of the governing body.

Until 28 October 2011, when rules were tweaked, persons affiliated with the government (centre and states) could form no more than one third of the members of the governing body “either in an individual or ex officio capacity as determined by the governing body”. The actual government representation has always been too paltry to be anywhere near one third.

“MS Ahluwalia is a member of the PHFI board as MS Ahluwalia, not as deputy chair of the Planning Commission,” a counsel for PHFI explained “individual capacity” to the CIC on 24 January 2012 at a hearing that this writer attended. That makes “ex officio capacity” the only government representation on PHFI board.

Since the rules require a majority vote of 51 per cent of the membership of the governing body for decisions not amenable to consensus, the government representatives stand no chance of ever influencing any decision if enough non-government representatives don’t cooperate. A government representative (or any other member) in the governing body can just be stripped of their membership anytime by a simple majority of the members present and voting.

Further eroding the ability of the government representatives to play any meaningful role in PHFI’s decision making, the changes effected in the rules on 28 October 2011 turned the executive committee – its current strength being 15 – into the most powerful body within the organization, with just one ex officio position for the government.

Again, as a foolproof safeguard against government influence, the members of the executive committee who are affiliated with central or state governments cannot be more than one third of the total membership. As for the governing body whose current strength is 30, the changes of 28 October gave just four ex officio positions to the government officials (i.e. less than one seventh of the total membership).

While making the dubious claim that seven of its officials were on the PHFI board, the government omitted, cleverly, to apprise the Parliamentary panel of the important distinction between “ex officio” members (which it had no more than three) and “individual capacity” members who by very definition are not government representatives.

The Parliamentary panel was also assured, “It is expected that all members of the governing board would ensure the functioning of the Foundation as a professional organization and with complete transparency” − more humbug.

Ahluwalia, TKA Nair (both of Minister of State rank and nominated directly by Manmohan) and other government officials on PHFI board have instead allowed PHFI to cock a snook at even basic canons of transparency while continuing to scrounge off public resources and exert its sinister influence on public health policy.

PHFI remained non-compliant with the RTI Act 2005 for over six years of its existence until a CIC order insisted on compliance from 15 March 2012. In its order, information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi noted “with dismay that the highest levels of public servants in India did not accept the citizen’s enforceable right to information in PHFI, despite the government substantially funding it and exercising some control”.

PHFI was broached again in Rajya Sabha on 31 August 2007. This time Panabaka Lakshmi, the minister of state for health, described it as an “autonomous public-private partnership.”

The Minister said: “It (PHFI) will not only train health professionals, but will also assist in strengthening the existing institutions in the public health sector, create a pool of excellent faculty, act as a think tank for the Government providing inputs for policy initiatives and set standards for public health education. The research programmes of PHFI would be geared to facilitate policy and programme development in public health through inter-disciplinary studies.”

While the Minister described PHFI as a “Public-Private Partnership”, neither the PPP agreement, if any, has ever been made public nor has there been a mention of how the private partner of this PPP was selected in conformity with the elaborate rules and regulations governing PPPs.

(To be completed through succeeding posts.)



Money fraud ‘revealed’!

Almost everything in the discipline of ‘economics’ – which itself is a fraudulent concept cunningly abstracted from the wholeness of social relations – flows from self-serving theories presented as ‘empirically-tested science’. Hence a massive fraud. Here is an illustration.

The Bank of England has just let slip a 'secret' that shows that the 'educated' people across the world have been fooled and lied to.

The 'revelation' confirms that the discipline of 'economics' - which was probably taught to you and continues to be taught to your sons/daughters - has long been perpetuating a fraud.

Here is that secret.

Money is nothing more than a few strokes on the computer keyboard performed by a commercial bank - and not the hard-earned 'savings' of ordinary folks like you, nor the currency printed by the government.

Yes. Most of the money in circulation is created not by the savings of people like us, but by lending by the commercial banks, which is accomplished, literally, by keying in a few numbers.

It's the bank lending (on interest) that creates deposits of money in the economy, not the saving-deposits that make up the amounts lent.

This 'secret' has long been known to those who have been complicit in the fraud (including, of course, the so called 'economists') or those whose concerned voice could be drowned out by the fraudsters.

The implications of this 'revelation' are many and profound. What it implies, among other things, is that a sovereign government can never - never - be short of its own currency and the 'imperative' to 'balance' the government 'budget' is a load of non-sense.

Portraying government 'budget' as any household budget is pure fraud, a measure now used across the world, including India, by the plutocratic/kleptocratic governments to deny the needy citizens public funds for vital public services/projects and thus help their cronies operating in the so called 'market'.

We can really have funds for all public services without any limits! And the bogey about 'crowding out of private investment' and 'inflation' is, of course, all part of the worldwide propaganda and fraud.
To understand this fraud, read the article by David Graeber, pasted below and published recently in The Guardian.

Also pasted in this mail are links to articles published by New Economics Foundation (NEF) and by Positive Money, both of which organizations have plenty of other lucid material on money and money creation in today's world.

The Bank of England site can be checked for the material they've published. Two videos they have produced can be watched on the links pasted below. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziTE32hiWdk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvRAqR2pAgw

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http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/18/truth-money-iou-bank-of-england-austerity
The truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it
The Bank of England's dose of honesty throws the theoretical basis for austerity out the window

By David Graeber, The Guardian, Tuesday 18 March 2014

Back in the 1930s, Henry Ford is supposed to have remarked that it was a good thing that most Americans didn't know how banking really works, because if they did, "there'd be a revolution before tomorrow morning".

Last week, something remarkable happened. The Bank of England let the cat out of the bag. In a paper called "Money Creation in the Modern Economy", co-authored by three economists from the Bank's Monetary Analysis Directorate, they stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong, and that the kind of populist, heterodox positions more ordinarily associated with groups such as Occupy Wall Street are correct. In doing so, they have effectively thrown the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.

To get a sense of how radical the Bank's new position is, consider the conventional view, which continues to be the basis of all respectable debate on public policy. People put their money in banks. Banks then lend that money out at interest – either to consumers, or to entrepreneurs willing to invest it in some profitable enterprise. True, the fractional reserve system does allow banks to lend out considerably more than they hold in reserve, and true, if savings don't suffice, private banks can seek to borrow more from the central bank.

The central bank can print as much money as it wishes. But it is also careful not to print too much. In fact, we are often told this is why independent central banks exist in the first place. If governments could print money themselves, they would surely put out too much of it, and the resulting inflation would throw the economy into chaos. 

Institutions such as the Bank of England or US Federal Reserve were created to carefully regulate the money supply to prevent inflation. This is why they are forbidden to directly fund the government, say, by buying treasury bonds, but instead fund private economic activity that the government merely taxes.

It's this understanding that allows us to continue to talk about money as if it were a limited resource like bauxite or petroleum, to say "there's just not enough money" to fund social programmes, to speak of the immorality of government debt or of public spending "crowding out" the private sector. 

What the Bank of England admitted this week is that none of this is really true. To quote from its own initial summary: "Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits" … "In normal times, the central bank does not fix the amount of money in circulation, nor is central bank money 'multiplied up' into more loans and deposits."

In other words, everything we know is not just wrong – it's backwards. When banks make loans, they create money. This is because money is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes.

There's really no limit on how much banks could create, provided they can find someone willing to borrow it. They will never get caught short, for the simple reason that borrowers do not, generally speaking, take the cash and put it under their mattresses; ultimately, any money a bank loans out will just end up back in some bank again. So for the banking system as a whole, every loan just becomes another deposit.

What's more, insofar as banks do need to acquire funds from the central bank, they can borrow as much as they like; all the latter really does is set the rate of interest, the cost of money, not its quantity. Since the beginning of the recession, the US and British central banks have reduced that cost to almost nothing. In fact, with "quantitative easing" they've been effectively pumping as much money as they can into the banks, without producing any inflationary effects.

What this means is that the real limit on the amount of money in circulation is not how much the central bank is willing to lend, but how much government, firms, and ordinary citizens, are willing to borrow. Government spending is the main driver in all this (and the paper does admit, if you read it carefully, that the central bank does fund the government after all). So there's no question of public spending "crowding out" private investment. It's exactly the opposite.

Why did the Bank of England suddenly admit all this? Well, one reason is because it's obviously true. The Bank's job is to actually run the system, and of late, the system has not been running especially well. It's possible that it decided that maintaining the fantasy-land version of economics that has proved so convenient to the rich is simply a luxury it can no longer afford.

But politically, this is taking an enormous risk. Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.

Historically, the Bank of England has tended to be a bellwether, staking out seeming radical positions that ultimately become new orthodoxies. If that's what's happening here, we might soon be in a position to learn if Henry Ford was right.

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http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/bank-of-england-backs-nef-on-money-creation
Bank of England backs NEF on money creation

MARCH 14, 2014 // By Josh Ryan-Collins, New Economics Foundation

The Bank of England has just published probably the most accurate and clear accounts of how the modern monetary system works ever written by a major central bank. The two articles are published in the Bank’s prestigious 54 year-old Quarterly Bulletin series – the main channel it uses to communicate its thinking to the public.

The good news is that the Bank agrees with the key aspects of NEF’s book Where Does Money Come From? (first published 2011), which set out to dispel many of the myths surrounding the process of money creation.  Most importantly, their first article, on the nature of modern money, states that:

“Most money in the modern economy is in the form of bank deposits, which are created by commercial banks themselves…  When a bank makes a loan to one of its customers it simply credits the customer’s account with a higher deposit balance. At that instant, new money is created…”

In the second article, on money creation and its limits, the Bank lays to rest two of the great ‘money myths’. First, it dismisses the commonly held view that when a bank makes a loan it is simply recycling someone else’s savings. In fact, it is the other way round: “rather than banks lending out deposits that are placed with them, the act of lending creates deposits — the reverse of the sequence typically described in textbooks.”

The Bank also dismisses the ‘money multiplier’ theory, whereby the central bank determines the quantity of loans and deposits in the economy by controlling the quantity of central bank money:

“…the relationship between reserves and loans typically operates in the reverse way to that described in some economics textbooks. Banks first decide how much to lend depending on the profitable lending opportunities available to them…It is these lending decisions that determine how many bank deposits are created by the banking system. The amount of bank deposits in turn influences how much central bank money banks want to hold in reserve (to meet withdrawals by the public, make payments to other banks, or meet regulatory liquidity requirements), which is then, in normal times, supplied on demand by the Bank of England.”

The first article explains that “commercial banks can create new money because bank deposits are just IOUs of the bank; banks’ ability to create IOUs is no different to anyone else in the economy…” (page 8). But what makes bank IOUs different is that they are widely accepted as a medium of exchange. Why? Because the State guarantees every person holding a bank account the first £80,000 of these Bank IOUs. This “ensures that bank deposits are trusted to be easily convertible into currency and can act as a medium of exchange in its place.”

The Bank does not explain why private bank IOUs get this special treatment, however. To understand this you’ll need to delve in to the 19th Century and the Banking Act of 1844. At the time private banks were free to issue their own currency notes, a fact that was leading to repeated ‘bank runs’ and resulting instability.

The Bank legislated to outlaw the issuance of private banknotes and took up its monopoly position as the only agent able to issue legal tender. It did not, however, prevent banks from creating deposits in checking accounts, as described above. Since then, such IOUs have outgrown currency issuance and currently account for 97% of the money in circulation.

Modern money creation can thus be seen as something of an accident of history. As we point out in Where Does Money Come From?, there are serious questions as to whether a relatively unregulated system dominated by private money creation in the form of interest bearing debt is best suited to the challenges facing modern humanity. In a speech in 2010, Mervyn King suggested that “Of all the many ways of organising banking, the worst is the one we have today.”

Of course, money creation is not completely without constraints, as the Bank goes on to illustrate in the 2nd article. But the weakness of monetary policy focussed on short- or long-term interest rates has become clear in the last 5 years with lending to businesses remaining sluggish despite historically low interest rates and £375bn worth of QE.

Perhaps it is time for a return to the quantitative  controls on private money creation that were standard in the 1950s and 1960s; or perhaps it is time to consider whether the power to create money really should reside with private companies at all - the UK banks’ record since 2008 begs the question.

Whatever the future though, the Bank of England should be congratulated for setting the record straight on how the modern monetary system works. These articles will stand the test of time as a reference for anyone interested in both understanding and reforming our financial system.

They can be seen as a victory for those – like NEF, Positive Money, Michael Kumhof, Adair Turner, Richard Werner and many others – who have been working to educate policy makers and the general public about the realities of our monetary system. And let’s hope they lead to a few textbooks being ripped up.

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http://www.positivemoney.org/2014/03/bank-england-money-money-creation-modern-economy/
Bank of England on Money and Money Creation in the Modern Economy
Written by Positive Money on March 12, 2014

Where does money come from?  In the modern economy, most money takes the form of bank deposits. But how those bank deposits are created is often misunderstood. The principal way in which they are created is through commercial banks making loans: whenever a bank makes a loan, it creates a deposit in the borrower’s bank account, thereby creating new money.  This description of how money is created differs from the story found in some economics textbooks.

Believe it or not, this is an extract from the News Release on new Quarterly Bulletin on Bank of England’s website!

We’ve been talking about the way money is created for the last 4 years. We’ve also argued that the textbooks used in universities were inaccurate. At last, there’s an official document and videos that we can send to all those economists, academics, politicians and everyone who still shake their head when we’re explaining this.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Will Arvind Kejriwal take on the American empire?

Follow the money trail. It leads to the West. Could clean-up crusaders pretend otherwise?

Arvind Kejriwal says he'll fight corruption to the finish. Jason Hickel of LSE is telling him that he'll then have to take on the mighty West, the fountain-head of all corruption. Our corruption and kleptocracy, after all, is fully underwritten by the US-led Empire.
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http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/flipping-corruption-myth-201412094213280135.html

Flipping the corruption myth
Corruption is by far not the main factor behind persisting poverty in the Global South.
Jason Hickel, Al Jazeera, 01 Feb 2014

Transparency International recently published their latest annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), laid out in an eye-catching map of the world with the least corrupt nations coded in happy yellow and the most corrupt nations smeared in stigmatising red. The CPI defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private benefit", and draws its data from 12 different institutions including the World Bank, Freedom House, and the World Economic Forum.

When I first saw this map I was struck by the fact that most of the yellow areas happen to be rich Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, whereas red covers almost the entirety of the global South, with countries like South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia daubed especially dark.

This geographical division fits squarely with mainstream views, which see corruption as the scourge of the developing world (cue cliche images of dictators in Africa and bribery in India). But is this storyline accurate?
Many international development organisations hold that persistent poverty in the Global South is caused largely by corruption among local public officials. In 2003 these concerns led to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which asserts that, while corruption exists in all countries, this "evil phenomenon" is "most destructive" in the global South, where it is a "key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development".

There's only one problem with this theory: It's just not true.

Corruption, superpower style
According to the World Bank, corruption in the form of bribery and theft by government officials, the main target of the UN Convention, costs developing countries between $20bn and $40bn each year. That's a lot of money. But it's an extremely small proportion - only about 3 percent - of the total illicit flows that leak out of public coffers. On the other hand, multinational companies steal more than $900bn from developing countries each year through tax evasion and other illicit practices.

This enormous outflow of wealth is facilitated by a shadowy financial system that includes tax havens, paper companies, anonymous accounts, and fake foundations, with the City of London at the very heart of it. Over 30 percent of global foreign direct investment is booked through tax havens, which now collectively hide one-sixth of the world's total private wealth.

This is a massive - indeed, fundamental - cause of poverty in the developing world, yet it does not register in the mainstream definition of corruption, absent from the UN Convention, and rarely, if ever, appears on the agenda of international development organisations.

With the City of London at the centre of the global tax haven web, how does the UK end up with a clean CPI?

The question is all the more baffling given that the City is immune from many of the nation's democratic laws and free of all parliamentary oversight. As a result of this special status, the City of London has maintained a number of quaint plutocratic traditions. Take its electoral process, for instance: More than 70 percent of the votes cast during council elections are cast not by residents, but by corporations - mostly banks and financial firms. And the bigger the corporation, the more votes they get, with the largest firms getting 79 votes each. 

This takes US-style corporate personhood to another level.

To be fair, this kind of corruption is not entirely out of place in a country where a feudalistic royal family owns 120,000 hectares of the nation's land and sucks up around £40m ($65.7m) of public funds each year. Then there's the parliament, where the House of Lords is filled not by election but by appointment, with 92 seats inherited by aristocratic families, 26 set aside for the leaders of the country's largest religious sect, and dozens of others divvied up for sale to multi-millionaires.

Corruption in US is only slightly less blatant. Whereas congressional seats are not yet available for outright purchase, the Citizens United vs FEC ruling allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns to ensure that their preferred candidates get elected, a practice justified under the Orwellian banner of "free speech".

The poverty factor
The UN Convention is correct to say that poverty in developing countries is caused by corruption. But the corruption we ought to be most concerned about has its root in the countries that are coloured yellow on the CPI map, not red. 

The tax haven system is not the only culprit. We know that the global financial crisis of 2008 was precipitated by systemic corruption among public officials in the US who were intimately tied to the interests of Wall Street firms. In addition to shifting trillions of dollars from public coffers into private pockets through bailouts, the crisis wiped out a huge chunk of the global economy and had a devastating effect on developing countries when demand for exports dried up, causing massive waves of unemployment.

A similar story can be told about the Libor scandal in the UK, when major London banks colluded to rig interest rates so as to suck around $100bn of free money from people even well beyond Britain's shores. How could either of these scandals be defined as anything but the misuse of public power for private benefit? The global reach of this kind of corruption makes petty bribery and theft in the developing world seem parochial by comparison.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. If we really want to understand how corruption drives poverty in developing countries, we need to start by looking at the institutions that control the global economy, such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the policies that these institutions foisted on the Global South, following the Washington Consensus, caused per capita income growth rates to collapse by almost 50 percent. Economist Robert Pollin has estimated that during this period developing countries lost around $480bn per year in potential GDP. It would be difficult to overstate the human devastation that these numbers represent. Yet Western corporations have benefitted tremendously from this process, gaining access to new markets, cheaper labour and raw materials, and fresh avenues for capital flight.

These international institutions masquerade as mechanisms for public governance, but they are deeply anti-democratic; this is why they can get away with imposing policies that so directly violate public interest. 

Voting power in the IMF and World Bank is apportioned so that developing countries - the vast majority of the world's population - together hold less than 50 percent of the vote, while the US Treasury wields de facto veto power. The leaders of these institutions are not elected, but appointed by the US and Europe, with not a few military bosses and Wall Street executives among them.

Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank, has publicly denounced these institutions as among the least transparent he has ever encountered. They also suffer from a shocking lack of accountability, as they enjoy special "sovereign immunity" status that protects them against public lawsuit when their policies fail, regardless of how much harm they cause.

Shifting the blame
If these patterns of governance were true of any given nation in the global South, the West would cry corruption. Yet such corruption is normalised in the command centres of the global economy, perpetuating poverty in the developing world while Transparency International directs our attention elsewhere.

Even if we do decide to focus on localised corruption in developing countries, we have to accept that it does not exist in a geopolitical vacuum. Many of history's most famous dictators - like Augusto Pinochet, Mobutu Sese Seko, and Hosni Mubarak - were supported by a steady flow of Western aid. Today, not a few of the world's most corrupt regimes have been installed or bolstered by the US, among them Afghanistan, South Sudan, and the warlords of Somalia - three of the darkest states on the CPI map.

This raises an interesting question: Which is more corrupt, the petty dictatorship or the superpower that installs it? Unfortunately, the UN Convention conveniently ignores these dynamics, and the CPI map leads us to believe, incorrectly, that each country's corruption is neatly bounded by national borders.

Corruption is a major driver of poverty, to be sure. But if we are to be serious about tackling this problem, the CPI map will not be much help. The biggest cause of poverty in developing countries is not localised bribery and theft, but the corruption that is endemic to the global governance system, the tax haven network, and the banking sectors of New York and London. It's time to flip the corruption myth on its head and start demanding transparency where it counts.

(Dr Jason Hickel lectures at the London School of Economics and serves as an adviser to /The Rules.)

World’s most abusive and fraudulent labeling systems

Although there is much weight in my argument (that ‘religion’ is a false category imposed on the diverse cultural and philosophical systems of the world), am I not unduly “labeling the followers of all Judeo-Christian faiths, who between them cover the majority of the human species, as being misled by an invention”?

Another question posed by the senior bureaucrat cited in my previous post.

The following was my rejoinder to him.

It's not I who is doing the "labeling" of “the followers of all Judeo-Christian faiths” - it's the imperialists belonging to Judeo-Christianity and Islam who run a world-wide racket of false labeling of people, dividing the humanity into 'us' and 'them'.

For instance, Pew Research Center - located in the Western Christendom (aka The Empire) – runs the worldwide system of labeling of people  according to 'religions', somehow conjuring up the 'exact' number of 'Christians', 'Muslims', 'Hindus', Buddhists, 'Sikhs', etc.?  (What a gargantuan fraud!)

It's 'religionists' (i.e. promoters of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) who are responsible for running an abusive indoctrination system that alienates people – including the captive children and youth – from their culture and history.

(Look at how Pakistani citizens have long been beating their chests on complete distortion of their history by Islamists, such as late military dictator Zia-ul-Haq.)

And by 'imperialists belonging to Judeo-Christianity and Islam', I only mean those few who are at the helm of these abusive systems, not the billions of ordinary people across the world who are the victims of religious surveillance-indoctrination-conversion systems.

Those billions are certainly not the “followers” in my view; they are the unfortunate ‘followed’.

Let the systems of deception, coercion and indoctrination run by Judeo-Christianity and Islam (with billions of dollars and petro-dollars) be dismantled, and then we’ll have the true test of their public support.

Let the special privileges and state privilege of the multi-billion dollar Roman Catholic Church, for example, be ended and then we'll see what will remain of their putative billion-strong flock.

Let the Saudi fraudsters – the foremost custodians and promoters of Islam – be prevented from spending their petrodollars on spreading Wahabi-ism (widely regarded as the most virulent variety of Islam), with the connivance, and often the support, of their American masters.

Let the 'Islamic' countries put an end to the abuse of their own people by totalitarian claims made by 'Islam' and cease to pretend that the 'Muslims' are one Ummah of the faithful as against the rest of the world.

Let the promoters of Islam acknowledge and reconcile themselves to the de facto position of the so called 'Muslims' – of their being divided into a great variety of ethnic groups and States spread across the globe – and refrain from using Islam as an ideological weapon that must supplant the ethnic values and State influences.

And then we'll see what remains of the putative millions who are branded as 'Muslims'.

In other words, let the colonial-imperial influence be taken away from Judeo-Christianity and Islam to create a level playing field vis-à-vis other 'cultures' - and then we'll see how these 'religions' compete with the cultural and philosophical systems of the world.

Pakistani academic deems Sanskrit dead; Indian lawyer deems Hindi non-existent!

Arfa Sayeda Zehra, a Pakistani professor of history and a lover of Urdu language, likes to illustrate the idea of death of a language with S...