Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Civil Works of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the mmost remarkable figures in the history of Europe. Despite being a great conqueror of his time and creating terror in the continent, he also carried out a number of reforms and lay down a very sound administration in France and proved himself a very efficient administrator. He carried out his civil works and established alw and order in France after it had seen many years of anarchy and confusion. That is why H.A.L. Fisher says, “If Napoleon’s conquests were ephemeral, his civil work in France was built on grainite.” Even Ludwig observes, “He strives for order and peace more resolutely than for war and conquest.”
He carried out his works in all spheres --- political, financial, religious, social, cultural etc. so successfully thayt his name still lives in France.
Centralised Local Government: The National Assembly in France had framed the local administrative system on the electoral basis. But Napoleon was not satisfied with this system.His system was, instead, based on the principles of centralisation and autocracy, and resembled more to the Old Regime than to the Revolutionary. He had more of the spirit of Louis XIV. Grant & Temperley observe, “He desired in everything the establishment of a central authority --- which could only be his own authority --- which should direct or control every part of the life of France.”He placed the Departments and other smaller administrative units ---- arrondissements and communes ---- in the hands of prefects, sub-prefects and mayors. These officers were appointed directly or indirectly by Napoleon.
Napoleon knew that it was only through this system of Centralisation that peace and order could be restored in France and an efficient administrative machinery could be framed. the system worked well, indeed, though it completely ignored teh ideas of self-government.
Equality vs. Liberty: Napoleon had devoted himself to the reorganisation of France. According to him, “Bonaparte came to close the romance of revolution, to heal the wounds, to correct extravagances.” To establish efficiency in administration, he adopted many measures to bring social and economic equality. Equal social rights were provided to all. High posts were no more reserved only for the privileged classes, and merit was the only basis for selection. The officials had to remain faithful to the Emperor and obey his orders. Thus all the able and meritorious persons were offered an opportunity to rise. He also brought many important changes in the Taxation system. Equal taxes were imposed and there was no sign left in the indifference and inequality of taxes.According to A.J. Grant, “He never proposed to re-establish the system of financial privilege.” By making appointments on merit, he became very popular among his subjects, because no French ruler had ever taken steps in this direction so far.
However, he did not favour Liberty, because he considered it as an important factor for creating chaos and anarchy. Grant & Temperley observe, “He thought of liberty as a disturbing factor that prevented the efficiency of a State. There is no hint in anything that he said or wrote that he thought of it as the great force making for stability, order and efficiency.” Press and books were kept under censor-board. Even theatres were controlled by the Government.
Finances : The financial condition in France was deplorable under the rule of the ancien regime. The National Assembly took some steps to reform the French finances, but its reformatory measures added to its debts. The National Convention and the Directory had also not been successful to check the financial indebtness. The economic settlement had failed all trade and industry in the country. Napoleon took very sound measures in this regard. First of all, he equated the taxation system in the country. Then he developed means of irrigation for the development of agriculture. New debt letters were replaced by the old ones. A separate treasure was established for the payment of the national debts. The Government made many arrangements for the technical education in the country. To popularise the national goods among the French, he increased the taxes on the imported goods.
The most significant work, which increased his honour in France, is the establishment of the Bank of France. It was a remarkable measure in the economic field. It was founded in 1800 A.D. Through this bank, he made many  attempts to revive the economy of France. Prof. Hayes is very right in his assumption when he considers as “one of the soundest financial institutions in the world.”
Crushing of Rebels and policy of conciliation : The Monarchists attempted to overthrow Napoleon and to reinstate monarchy in France. The Jacobins were seeking an opportunity to defend the Republic. But Napoleon had already made himself popular and won the public support by his extra-ordinary reforms and remarkable successes in the military front. He had raised the prestige of France in the entire vworld. He arrested his rivals and executed many of them. During the revolutionary days, the members of the privileged classes had to run away from France. Now he treated very sympathetically towards these emigrees and invited them to their native country. The offices were opened to all, including the royalists and the Girondists, provided they accepted the existing system.
Military Policy : Basically Napoleon was himself a soldier. Whatever he was and whatever he had achieved was all due to his military power. He introduced many changes in the military organisation and made several reforms in order to defend his achievements and also France against the foreign invasions. He established a very powerful army with modern techniques and arms. He gave no opportunity to his Generals and soldiers to make any complaint. He served them with dresses, shoes and good food. Payments were made regularly. Thus this organisation helped him to establish internal peace and order, conquer the foreign States and defend France against any invasion.
Napoleonic Codes : There existed a number of laws in France before Napoleon. Prof. Hayes says that the laws varied from one place in France to the other. To reconstruct France internally, his greatest achievement in this field was his Codes, which are considered as ‘a benefactor of mankind.’ During his days of exile in St. Helena, he once said taht his Civil Code and not his victories in war, was his most real claim to fame. His Codes came into existence in 1804 and many of them form the law in France till this day. It gave to France a common system of law, which was at all clear, orderly and systematic. It also made justice more rapid, cheap and reliable. Besides, it established social equity in the eyes of law and secured religious toleration for all.
In all, there were five Codes of Napoleon --- Civil Code, Code of Civil Procedure, Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Law, Penal Code, and the Commercial Code. The Codes passed through many stages before they became binding on France. He took an active part in revising the final draft of the Code. By his Civil Code, he stood for the absolute authority of father within the family. This Code even allowed the father to imprison his children. He was strongly in favour of the subjection of women. He used to say, “The angel told Eve to obey her husband.” It secured many of the victories that had been won by the Revolutiom. The Code of Criminal Procedure followed in many respects the English practice. Although the jury-system was severely criticised, Napoleon maintained it by his influence.
In the Penal Code, branding and confiscation of property was allowed as penalties.
Fisher concludes that although there are some defects, “the Codes preserve the essential conquests of the revolutionary spirit --- civil equality, religious toleration, the emancipation of land, public trial, the jury of judgement. ”
The Concordat : The Civil Constitution of Clergy (1790 A.D.) had divided the Church and the French people in their attitude towards the revolution. A large number of lower clergy had completely turned against it. It had made a considerable section of masses against it. Napoleon sought to win their gratitude by restoring the Roman-Catholic Church in France which had been the chief stumbling throne of the Revolution. In 1801 A.D., he made an agreement with the Pope, popularly known as the Concordat. He approved Catholicism as the greatest religion in France. The Church was returned its confiscated property. The bishops were now to be appointed by the State though nominated by the Pope. “The Pope could only reject his nominees on the ground of heresy or immorality, and, if there was no fault to be found with them on these points, was bound to grant canonical investiture.” The bishops had to take an oath of fidelity to the Government. Thus Catholicism was re-established in France, dependent on the State and satisfying the majority of the population.
Though Napoleon re-established the Catholic Church in France, its position was entirely different than in the pre-revolutionary France. To quote Napoleon, “The people must have a religion and the religion must be in the hands of the Government.” The object of his religious policy in the words of Ketelby is, “Religion was to him only a useful political instrument, a national imaginative focus, a social cement, a safety valve.”
Educational system : Napoleon introduced a number of reforms in the educational field as well. ‘Education is very essential for the development of a nation’, were his views. There were to be schools of four catagories : primary, secondary, military training (lycees), and technical training. There was to be the Imperial University at the head of all the centres. There was to be one University for all France, and it was intended to bring the whole educational system of France under the control of the University. To be a Graduate was an essential qualification to teach.
The Institut de France was established in 1795 A.D. for higher studies and research. Napoleon was satisfied with its works in physical science, fine arts, mathematics and literature. He disliked the study of moral and political sciences, and suppressed these departments by one his Decree of January 23, 1803.
His object in the educational field, like in religion, was also to fulfil his self-interests. He, however, did not succeed in his educational mission, because of the lack of wealth and experienced teachers. Moreover, his much attention to the military and political exigencies also prevented him to fulfil his desires in this field.
Legion of Honour : In 1802 A.D., Napoleon established an institution, Legion of Honour. It was established because “the French are accessible to only one sentiment --- love of honour.” This honour was confined on those persons who, according to Napoleon, had done something extra-ordinary either in civil or in military spheres. In the beginning, it was criticised very much, but soon its members got very respectable position in the French society. Even today, this system works in France and is a very significant and important institution.
Works of Public Welfare : Napoleon inaugurated a vast series of public works. Roads were projected and many were taken under construction. Canals were cut. Agriculture was improved by the introduction of modern scientific methods; industry was developed in France. Gas was introduced for illuminant. Trees were grown on both sides of the roads. These works also helped the improvement of finances in France. To quote Garnt & Temperley, “The general condition of France until the Empire touched its period fo ruin, showed an air of prosperity in all classes.”

David Thompson observes that between 1800 and 1803 A.D., Napoleon as First Consul devoted himself mainly to the interval reorganisation of France. “It was in this period that his most constructively valuable work was done. He brought to the task of reorganisation the qualities of swift decision and action, the same precision and concentration upon essentials which had already brought him success in war. The spirit behind the great reforms of the Consulate at home was the transference of the methods of Bonaparte the general to the tasks of Bonaparte the statesman. And, as in war, he was able to enlist in his service a brand of men imbued with the same spirit and devoted to the same ends.” Fisher confirms the above contention as he says, “Napoleon’s reforms in the domain of law, education, finance, religion and local administration certainly proved more solid and more enduring as compared to his military conquests. He esatblished many many enduring and everlasting institutions in France. He consolidated his country and at the same time preserved certain fruits of revolution. He had displayed his marvellous quality as an organiser and talented administrator.”

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Continetal System of Napoleon Bonaparte

Cotinental System is a political fight of Napoleon through economic means to ruin his obstinate enemy, England. After the treaty of Tilsit (1807), Napoleon bacame the paramount master of the entire continent. However, there was one hinderance in his way to the supremacy which blocked his path and that was the Navy.   Napoleon was aware of his weakness in the Naval Front, and, therefore, followed the continental system, which the historians have termed as the court of last throw of political gamble, compelled by the exigencies of the game to risk all or fail correspondingly. Napoleon having lost his Navy to Nelson had never tried to rebuild it to match the British strength. He thought that there was one weak point in the British industry and commerce, and if he attacked it, he would be able to bring the British on their knees. What he was required to do was to put an end to the monopoly of the British goods in the Continent. The cheap markets of the British goods promoted it, but once the British trade and commerce was lost, the British prosperity was to go to loss. This, in his opinion, was the best method of teaching a lesson to the ‘nation of shopkeepers’, as he called the British.
In Napoleon’s opinion, France was a self-sufficient country. Through his commercial codes, he organised his trade and commerce and made it prosperous and profitable. He knew that Britain was a manufacturing country. They sold their surplus goods outside their country, and thus earned huge profits and foreign exchange. Being prevented from carrying on this trade outside the country, she would no more have supply of cash and would go bankrupt. Her financial tendency would not then permit her to pay for the continuance of waar and hence would submit to the French.
Napoleon felt that the ruin of the British overseas trade would result in her ruin of industry. The British manufacturers, due to the lack of customers, would draw the shutters of godowns and factories. Thousands of workers would be thrown out of work and prevail starvation. Commercial classes would raise in revolt and would put terrific pressure on the government to make peace with Napoleon. In the words of Prof. Hayes, “During the period 1806 to 1812, the struggle between Napoleon and Great Britain was an economic endurance test. On the one hand the question was whether British government could retain the support of the British people. On the other hand, the question was whether Napoleon could rely upon the co-operation of the whole continent.”
After having thought the problem, Napoleon resolved and embarked upon his plan of conquering Engnland. The adopted policy of Continental Blockade, which the Convention and the Directory had started, gave it the real shape and forced more. In 1806 A.D., when he had his deserving victories at Moringo, Austerlitz and Jena, he considered himself the master of Europe and was in a position to enforce the Economic Blockade. He, therefore, used his weapon unflinchingly without changing his mind. He came out in November 1806 with the intention in this connection, for the first time, openly by issuing what are known as the Berlin Decrees. Through these Decrees, he outrightly came out with what had been going on so far vin his mind. He declared England to be the enemy of the European continent and expressed his intention unequivocally to fight and defeat the obstinate British, who had nothing but contempt for Europe and its people. These islanders (i.e. the British) had never considered themselves, in his opinion, the members of the same European family. He told the European nations that time had come to pay them back with the same contempt as the British had shown them. Till then, Napoleon in this way wanted to arouse the feelings of the Europeans against his enemy to get their whole-hearted co-operation in this great and earnest endeavour to defeat the British. It was a good plan and he could succeed if the Continental Blockade had not lingered on. Had it been a short affair, it would have succeeded. Unfortunately for Napoleon, the British had a reply for the Continental Blockade and it was this answer from which Napoleon’s scheme of  conquering England came to grief.
Though the continental blockade of England had been done by the National Convention and the Directory, but with no success. Now it was Napoleon;s turn to give it a definite shape. The Berlin Decree, the first in the series, was issued on November 18, 1806. It was compared to a thunder-bolt. He declared that the whole of the British isles, i.e. England, Scotland, Ireland and the Wales, was to be in the state of blockade. He miscalculated the usefulness of the French Navy to enforce the blockade on the superior British Naval Fleet. That is why the historians have called it the most fictitious blockade ever ordered in history. He prohibited all commerce with British ports, wholly or partially of British origin, and declared them liable to seizure. This was the most outrageous violation of the neutral rights under International Law, which had been perpetuated by Napoleon. The Cambridge Modern History has summed it up in the following words, “It is no exaggeration to say that the Berlin Decree of 18th November, 1806 was the climax to which Napoleon’s policy had so long been working for.” How srtict Napoleon wanted to be to the blockade can be found in a letter written to General Juno in which he stated that the wives of his chief officers and Generals should also avoid using English goods, because they were the people who were to set an example for others. “Let them take care also,” writes Napoleon, “that no part of their dress is composed of English merchandise. ....... It is a contest of life and death between France and England. I must look for the most cordial times in those homes I am surrounded.” To the Berlin Decrees, England’s most useful weapon lay, as according to Ramsay Muir, “ She could damage Napoleon in the eyes of the subjects by making them realise that his commercial war was cutting them off by necessary supplies and was a victim upon grievous harshes.”
An Order in Council was issued in January 1807, which pointed out that England had prohibited all trade with France. Again, the Orders were issued in which England made concessions to Denmark and Russia by making its goods available for sale in those countries. In November 1807, England imposed blockade of all European ports and thus brought to an end the neutral trade. It made the neutrals miserable as they were now between the devil and the deep sea. It made, in fact, impossible for them to be strictly neutral. At the same time, the British relaxed the navigations and offered substantial concessions to non-neutrals and thus encouraged the neutral countries openly to come out for trade with Great Britain instead of France.
Realising a setback and a dent in his Continental System, Napoleon again issued decrees from Warsaw, whereby he ordered the confiscation of the British goods and prohibited the possession of the British goods by any trader or householder. Again, he issued from Milan his decrees. In this Decree, he declared that any neutral vassal was liable to seizure. This was done to encounter the British orders. In 1809, Britain modified her policy by limiting her blockade to the coasts of Holland, France and Italy, thus leaving the trade open with Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Politic lands. Napoleon, on the other hand, stiffened his policy. He had realised that his vassals were not carrying on his policy on a large scale. So by the Tairiff Decrees of August 5, 1810, he imposed duties amounting to 15% average on Principal Colonial Prospects. On the same time, by the Decree of Fountainbleau, issued in 1810, Napoleon ordained the seizure and destruction of Britain manufacturing goods and set up a special tribunal to enforce this order. “These monster inactments brought ruin and suffering wherever they were applied and nothing did more to Napoleon’s subjects than the spectacle of the wanted destruction of grave stones of desperately needed supplies.”
Such were the measures of attack and reprisals by means of which Napoleon carried on his commercial war for years together. In the opinion of Marrott, “Between the Decrees launched by Napoleon and the British reprisals, there was this essential difference -- Great Britain had the power of enforcing them effectively, Napoleon had not. Britain was the mistress of seas and it ruled thw waves. She could cut off the trade of France and her allies from the rest of the world.”
Despite all this and the early realisation for the success of Continental System, it was essential that he had the support of every European country, more essentially that with Naval Power, he would survive off the aggression upon the countries in the European Continent. He was reluctant in resolving the deadlock, resulting to the costly wars. Prof. Trevelyan writes, “England’s resistance unexpectedly continued and drew Napoleon on into more and more dangerous schemes of Spain and Russia into ever stricter prohibition against trade. It seemed that he must conquer and starve the whole world in order to starve and conquer the islanders i.e. British.”
The Tsar of Russia had promised Napoleon at Tilsit in 1807 that he would not allow the British ships and her goods to enter any of the Russian ports. Austria and Prussia had been severely crushed by Napoleon that they had to enforce his policy willy-nilly in their dominions. Sweden was still in alliance with England and in 1808, Napoleon declared war against her and forced her to close all Scandinavians to England. Napoleon’s brother, Louis Bonaparte, was made the master of Holland, but he could not enforce the blockade. Consequently, Louis was forced to abdicate and Holland was annexed into France. Napoleon al;so captured North Coast. His empire included the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and the Duchy of Westaphalia, and also forced the system on Cis Alpine, Naples, Tuscany etc. His negotiations with the Pope brought him in conflict with the Papal States, which were captured and the Pope was put in the prison. This completely made him the enemy of all the Christian States, who would not forgive him for the insult inflicted on the Pope.
Portugal, the old friend of Britain, was also antagonised and this gave the British an opportunity to create trouble for Napoleon during the Peninsular War. Thus it was all suicidal for Napoleon during to enforce the Continental System on the unwilling nations of Europe. It failed right from the beginning and did fail ultimately because it lacked the sympathy and co-operation of the people of Europe. His policy of starving the world in order to starve Great Britain was also a negative one, which brought nothing but miseries, sufferings, trials and timulations for the people of Europe and people of France and ultimately led to his downfall. Napoleon had matured earlier and probably he had grown old earlier as well. It is said that after forty, he was not the same Napoleon. His knack of doing right things at the right time had left him in forty, hence his downfall.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where is India going?

Where is India going? Is it a blessing or a curse that India's economy is handled by the economists of so-called 'international level'. Do they make the economic policies favorable to the common masses? What has one to do with the growth in GDP, when one cannot eat two meals a day? Now the deadlock of FDI. One must understand that the foreign companies will enter the country not to serve the economic interests of the Indians, but to earn huge profits.
The Indian central government is giving plea that the entry of the foreign companies will put a check on the price rise. I am not an economist, but this much I know that the system of indirect taxes is a major factor in this direction. If the government makes a standard policy of taxation, I think much of the problems will solve automatically. To curb corruption has nothing to do with this govt.
One thing more. The foreign entry in the Indian markets will diminish the existence of the Indian traders and manufacturers. The example is very much here. Where has the Chinese industry taken the Indians. The Congress leadership says that the foreign investment will increase the job opportunities in the country. But the Chinese entry has given the opposite results! In fact, the Indian government is ready to give liberal concessions to the foreign companies at the cost of the Indians, and the Indians will themselves surrender.
The present Congress is totally working on the pattern that the soul of Gandhiji, who had struggled for the cause of Swadeshi, will be weeping bitterly, that had he sacrificed his life for these leaders and this party? If this was to happen then what was the need of having struggling against the alien British rule. Only the rulers have changed, and the position of common man in the independent India has deteriorated a lot. No law and order in today's India, anarchy, confusion, bribery and such all. Time has come when each and every Indian must study the history of India and understand when such conditions had arisen in the past, what was the result. And I am sorry that the things are not going to improve now as well. So be prepared of another foreign yoke.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Annexation of Lahore by Ranjit Singh

When Ranjit Singh succeeded to the leadership of  Sukerchakia Misl in 1790 A.D., Lahore was being ruled by the weak Bhangi trio. In 1765 A.D., a Bahngi-Kanheya combination had expelled Kabuli Mal, the rapacious governor under Durrani. The new masters of Lahore ransacked it indiscriminately, dividing the spoils among themselves. The city itself was divided among the three Bhangi Sardars. The Sukerchakia chief at that time, Charat Singh, captured the famous canon, Zamzama, and retired to his headquarter at Gujranwala. Thus the Bhangi chiefs became too engrossed in their debaucheries and too jealous of each other to offer a united resistance to any of their rivals.
Another peculiar favourable circumstance which helped Ranjit Singh in the conquest of Lahore was the revived ambitions of the Durrani Emperor. In 1793, Shah Zaman succeeded to the throne of Kabul and decided to recover Punjab from the Sikhs. To achieve his mission, he sent approximately 7,000 horsemen under his General, Ahmed Khan Shahanchi, from Hasan Abdal. However, the Afghans were routed by the Sikhs. Two years later, Shah Zaman again appeared at Peshawar and took possession of the fortress of Rohtas, but had to hasten back to Kabul on hearing the news of the Persian invasion.
In 1796-97, Shah Zaman was urged by the hard-pressed Rohilla chief, Ghulam Mohammad, and Nawab Asif-ud-Daula of Oudh to invade India.In November 1796, the Shah marched at the head of 30,000 men and reached unhindered the precincts of Lahore. He even set up his camp on the banks of Ravi. The Bhangi chiefs left the town in hurry and Shah Zaman occupied Lahore on January 3, 1797. Shah’s stay at Lahore, however, proved to be a short one, as the news of the rebellion of his brother, Shah Mahmood, hastened his departure.
As yet,  Shah Zaman’s invasion had failed to dislodge the Sikh confederacy from their established position. The Bhangi chiefs, Lehna Singh and Sobha Singh, came out of their hidings and re-occupied Lahore. While the Durrani invasion convulsed the centre of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh had realised inability of the Bhangis to hold it permanently against the onslaughts of the Afghans. Lahore represented the symbol of prestige and power to any master of the Punjab. It commanded sub-mountaineous region in the North-West, the hilly tracts in the North-East, the Doab in the center and the barren land in the South including Multan, Bahawalpur and Sind. To wrest it from the Bhangis was the main ambition of Ranjit Singh.
On October 25, 1798, Shah Zaman left Peshawar and advanced on Lahore. A Sukerchakia-Bhangi coalition attempted to hem in the Afghan army and Zaman, however, occupied Lahore. During the seige Ranjit Singh, in spirit of his youthful bravado, challenged the Shah from the Samman burj. The Bhangi chiefs, as usual, retired to the hills. Shah Zaman stayed at Lahore for about four months, but had to return once again because of the rebellion of Shah Mahmud. He left his Indian possessions under the control of Shahanchi Khan, who was later defeated by the combined forces of Ranjit Singh and others. With the dispersal of the Afghan forces, all semblance of Afghan authority between Ravi and Jhelum was obliterated.
The brave effort that Ranjit made against the Afghan chief, had impressed the citizens of Lahore, who were fed up with the oppression of the Bhangis. They approached Ranjit Singh to lliberate them from the Bhangis. On 4th July, 1799, he led an army of 25,000 soldiers and invaded Lahore. On 6th July, the guards threw open the gates of the citadel and the next day the fort was occupied. The Bhangis, however, were left unmolested. 
“The occupation of Lahore,” as Bikramjit Hasrat remarks, “by the youthful Sukerchakia chief in July 1799 is a landmark in the history of the Sikhs. It laid the foundation of sovereign Sikh monarchy in Punjab.” The conquest of Lahore, in the words of G.L. Chopra, “was an important addition to Ranjit’s possession, and greatly enhanced his political prestige as the holder of the traditional capital of Panjab.”
Writers like Princep and Lepel Griffin allege that Lahore was bestowed upon Ranjit Singh for his service rendered to the Afghan ruler for the return of 15 canons which were lost  in the Jhelum while the latter was on his way back to Kabul. Shah Zaman, pleased on the act of Ranjit Singh presented the Khillat to the Sikh chief. Dr. N.K. Sinha, however,  refutes this allegation and justifies his full claim. 
No doubt, that Ranjit Singh dug out and delivered to Shah Zaman’s Vakil 15 pieces of canon and got in return a rich Khillat from Shah. But at the same time, Shah had not relinquished his design on Hindustan and was anxious to conciliate Ranjit Singh, whose position in the Punjab is best described in the words of British Resident with Daulat Rao Scindhia, “Zaman Shah is endeavouring to attach to his interest Ranjit Singh, the usurper of Lahore who has lately received Khilat from the Durrani Prince..... The Sikh chief possesses considerable influence in Panjab and seems ambitious of acquiring still greater authority which he hopes of attaining by means  of  a close connection...”
Ranjit Singh became the master of Lahore on 6th July,1799, while Shah Zaman returned from that city on 4th January of the same year. But Dr. Sinha asserts that the Durrani grant could not have helped him to conquer the capital of  Punjab which he took on 6th July, 1799 while the Khillat was most probably conferred in March of the following year, when 15 pieces of  canon were delivered. Dr. Sinha’s argument is based on the British Record of April 1800, according to which “Ranjit has lately delivered to Shah Zaman’s Vakil 15 pieces of canon which Durrani prince had lost last year in retreat....”
At this stage of his career Ranjit Singh was not so strong as to refuse the Durrani support, dubious though it certainly was. Keeping in line with this, Dr. N.K. Sinha remarks, “Each wanted to make use of other to serve his own interest and the submissive attitude of the one and the conciliatory attitude of the other must be regarded as mere diplomatic camouflage to hide the real objective for which they were striving.”
Conclusively, the arguments advanced by Dr. Sinha with the help of dates disprove the theory that Ranjit Singh secured Lahore as a gift from Shah Zaman.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Why was Napoleon beaten?

Napoleon Bonaparte was the greatest military general of his times. No doubt, in 1807-08 he was at the height of his power. But soon after, his downfall started. It is a general observation that the year 1807 marks the zenith of his power. Further they observe, “Had he died in that year, his career would have seemed the most miraculous in the military annals of Europe and perhaps of the world...... The French Revolution was left far behind now. It was no France but Napoleon who commanded in Europe. And he had carried with him his family to wealth and fame and power.”
Here the question comes to mind that under what circumstances did the decline of Napoleon begin? No doubt, his decline was not affected by any royal reasons, but was the cumulative result of a variety of factors.
When did Napoleon’s downfall start? It is a very good question for discussion. According to a military historian, it started sometime between Jena and Moscow.A naval historian will place it at Trafalgar. A political historian, looking at the balance of power in the continent, might find the turning point at Tilsit. A historian, who considered the Napoleonic era as a period of struggle between France and England to control the European and overseas trade, would prefer to take the moment when the challenge was thrown down and taken up at the breach of the Peace of Amiens. A Frenchman asking himself at what point did Bonaparte cease to have the blessings of the Revolution and began to return to the practices of the Bourbon regime, might choose the moment when the First Consul crowned himself the Emperor of the French. These points of argument favour the year 1802 as the turning point; the year of the Treaty of Amiens, of the Concordat, and of the Consulship for life. Each was a climax, a settlement : of the war in Europe, of the crucial issue of the Revolution, of Bonaparte’s own rise to power. Each enclosed germs of decay; a trety which was only a truce, a pacification which inaugurated a new struggle, the climbing of a mountain which revealed the true summit at least within reach. And as Thompson remarks, “If an exact moment is needed, let it then be that of the Elevation in the mass of Easter Day, April 18, 1802, when the material might of the Napoleonic republic did homage to the central circle of the Catholic faith.”
The chiefmost cause of his failure can be stated as Napoleon himself had observed, “It was the Spanish ulcer that ruined me.” Napoleon was determined on his part to exclude English goods from all over the European continent. For this purpose he interfered in the countries like Portugal and Spain. The Portuguese and the Spaniards got good support from the British navy. Hence in the Peninsular War, the French were badly beaten and driven away from the Peninsula. It very much reduced the prestige of Napoleon and the victories of the Duke of Wellington exploded the myth of Napoleon’s invincibility on land.
While the Peninsular War was on, Napoleon commanded a wing of his troops to Moscow in 1812 A.D., which is again regarded a great diplomatic blunder on his part. When the Tsar hesitated in implementing the Continental System on the soil of Russia, Napoleon led his army against the Russians. But the circumstances forced him to retreat from Moscow in a very helpless condition, which encouraged his enemies to join their hands and bring about his decline.
It is stated taht the Continental System acted as a boomerang and destroyed its author. England was to Napoleon as his obstinate enemy. He wanted to beat England by adopting all possible measures.Therefore, he waged a commercial war against her and by issuing his famous decrees from Berlin, Warsaw, Milan and Fountainbleau he did all that he could do to deal a blow to the British trade and commerce. This system of his forced him to intervene in many countries. Although Napoleon failed in his real objective, yet he came across many difficulties. Hence his ultimate downfall.
Napoleon had given rise to militarism. No doubt, like other various supporters of militarism, Napoleon himself failed ultimately. Indeed, it was militarism by which he had risen to the peak of success, but later on he failed at all. In the beginning, he had recruited large armies and trained them very well, and with their support had defeated almost all the Great Powers of Europe one by one, with the exception of England. Later on, Napoleon had become very unpopular, because his constant wars had started taking heavy toll of human lives. Moreover, militarism had grown also in Russia, Prusiia and Austria. At that time, the military forces of all the nations formed a coalition against Napoleon and defeated him. Also, later on, Napoleon had to recruit more and more forces from the Poles, Germans, Italians, Dutch, Spaniards and the Danes. With it, he lost the fighting effectiveness.
It is narrated that once Metternich asked Napoleon at Dresden to accept his terms and give peace to Europe. But Napoleon denied: “What do you wish me to do? Should I dishonour myself? Never..... I cannot, because I rose to power through the camp.” Then Metternich asked him what he would do when his army of conscripts had perished. Napoleon answered, “You are not a soldier. You do not know what happens in the heart of a soldier. I have grown up on battle-fields and a man such as I care little for the lives of a million men.” Such thinking of Napoleon was, of course, responsible for his fall.
According to Dr. Sloane, “The causes of his decline may be summed up in a single word, exhaustion.” However, Prof. Holland Rose and President Theirs differ from this theory. According to them, Napoleon’s activity, both before and after Waterloo, was that of a man in good health. It wa his judgement and the decisions he took that proved fatal to him. His victories in successive battles in the beginning had made him proud and haughty. He did not listen to the advice of others. He refused to set his confidence even upon Fouche and the master planner, Talleyrand. He believed that he was the best brain and his decisions were also the best. No doubt, many a times his calculations became defective and ultimately ended in his fall.
Another important factor of his decline is attributed to the rise of a great strategist -- Gneisenau, and a great fighting general in Blucher. Napoleon, however, had a very poor opinion for both of them and it was also his contempt for his enemies that led to his disaster. It was his good fortune that in his early years he did not meet a general worthy of his steel.
There are still many other factors attributed to his downfall. He began to depend more and more on trickery and deceit. He had even stated many a times, “I know when to exchange the lion’s skin for that of a fox.” For his such actions, he lost his belief in the continent, and every State began to hate him. The Allies had no faith in him when he made declarations and pledges. They were determined to remove him for once and all.
He was also a stranger to the idea of compromise. So long as there was the least chance of success, he was never prepared to come to terms with the enemy. Till end, he believed that he would be able to take advantage of the military errors of his enemies. Had he decided to come to a compromise when his misfortunes started and not depended on treachery and deceit, he would have retained for himself the throne of France.
Apart from these, he lost the support of certain sections through whom he had come to power. With the passage of time, he shed off all his Jacobinism and became agreat imperialist. His own relatives became ungrateful to him whom he had treated very kindly. They took pleasure in thwarting his will on the occasion of some great crisis.He tried to make his brothers eagles, but they remained ordinary fowls. Once Napoleon told Metternich, “My relatives have done more harm than I have done them good.”
Thus we find many factors responsible for his downfall. There was no single factor which can be said to have brought about his downfall. All these factors jointly played their part and ultimately Napoleon --- the Terror of Europe, diminished from the scene of European politics, but to this day remains present in the minds of the people. No doubt, the Spanish ulcer, retreat from Moscow, the rise of Gneisenau and Blucher, and above all his egoism were the chiefmost factors which stood responsible for his ultimate decline.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

RSSS and the modern Congressmen

It has become a fashion with the Congressmen or are they a patient of any phobia that whatever happens against their wishes, they take no time to blame the RSSS. I don't know much about this organization than that it is a social one, which had worked a lot during the national movement, or any natural calamity. Moreover, it is a organisation which is based on Hindu culture and ideals and promote the same. It is a agony if its agenda does not fit the Congress why does its leaders cry and scream of RSSS. If the Congress is so tired of it and continue to blame it, why does it not put a ban on it. But mind the Congress leadership, Pt. Nehru himself had hailed many a times the activities of RSSS. One must be broad-minded. I don't appreciate many policies of RSSS, but what is good will remain good. It is not essential for anybody to take a certificate from the Congress to act.

Anti-corruption movement in India

Before I post my opinion, I will like to make it clear that I am not attached to any political party or group. I am a person to have voted only once in my career and that also about 22 years back, that so because I have found only once a candidate who was honest and having clean image.
Now coming to my point. What happened in New Delhi in the early hours of 5th June, 2011 is open to all. In fact, the issues being raised today are those which concern every common man. India achieved independence on 15th August, 1947. But what we achieved can be called a true independence? Absolutely not. No doubt, we got freedom from the alien rule. That is all. The dragons of divide and rule, communalism, regionalism, lingualism, casteism, poverty etc, and above all the problem of law and order were still there. What were the issues why we raised the voice for freedom? We wanted a form of government which was our own, a government which cared for our upliftment, a government which secured our country’s wealth, a government which defended its citizens’ life and property. Has the independent India achieved all these issues? When we study our nationalist leaders and their thoughts, we feel proud of our country. But the present day leadership has forced us to feel ashamed. In fact, one feels ashamed not of his motherland but of the system where one is forced to be crushed. Nobody’s life or property is secured in the country. The demon of unemployment dances over the heads of thousands of Indians.
When India was under the British rule, the cry was over drain of India’s wealth to Britain and other European countries. All major contracts were given to the Europeans. Indians remained unemployed as all the major jobs were reserved for the Europeans again. All these problems persist in the country even today. The British used to crush all those who dared to open their tongue against the British system. That problem is there even today. The example is the event of the night of 4th and 5th June.
The Congress leadership justifies that the danger of law and order was growing. Were the sleeping people, who were sitting on non-violent Satyagraha, making any plot in the midnight? The Police Commissioner of Delhi says that they attacked the Police with the bats of base-ball? Let me ask Mr. Commissioner had they gone to protest against corruption or playing base-ball or cricket. Accepted the people attacked them, but why had they gone there at that time? To be attacked. Very sad. And the Congress leadership justifies the action. The Prime Minister very proudly says that there was no other alternative with the government. I had a great regard for Mr. Manmohan Singh but now I hate this useless fellow. If he was being forced to take such an action, he should have resigned from his post and had been the most popular personality in the world. But it is also a universal truth that power makes a man corrupt and Mr. Singh is no exception to it.
The major issue why all this drama happened. India ranks among the top in corruption in the world. The Indian politicians and the Congress leadership in general are the most affected ones. This has been proved in this incident. Had Baba Ramdev not worked in this direction, he would have been the most affectionate for them. Now the government is talking of checking his assets. Was it sleeping for the last 6 or 7 years for which he is submitting the returns. It seems that the government is serious of tackling corruption only if the Baba is cornered. It will be better if it finds out the corrupt people from all walks of life in the country and then finds wrong with the Baba.
Many people compare the Ram Lila ground incident with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919. But there are certain differences in it. First of all, then the massacre was carried on by the foreign rulers, who had no love for the Indians, but this time it was our own elected rulers. Secondly, that event in the broad day-light, but this time it happened in mid-night, when everybody was sleeping soundly. But what is common in the two events is that in both the cases, something was being demanded from the rulers. In 1919 was the repeal of the Rowlatt Bill while in 2011 was the introduction of Lok-Pal and to take steps to put a stop on corruption. In 1919 the demand was not acceptable to the British and in 2011 it was not acceptable to the Congress. Today the Congress says it is not possible for the government to accept what the civilians demand. This is what the British used to say and the then Congress leadership used to agitate. Mr. Chidambaram and other Congress leaders say that the government is serious in curbing corruption? But the question is how? By crushing the people who agitate or dare to raise their voice against the system? If the Government is so serious then why it is doing so much drama and making such a hue and cry over this issue?
The present day Congress leadership should learn something from history. If it continues to crush the fundamental right of the masses to express their opinion, then the day is not far when we will see the 1789 of France or 1917 of Russia or 1949 of China in India very soon. God saves India!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Battle of Concessions in China

The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 proved to be a momentous and decisive event in the modern history of Far East. Apart from enabling Japan to revise her unequal treaties with the Western Powers and stimulating Japanese imperialism and exposing the ever growing weakness of China leading to the birth of anti-Manchu and pro-reform movement in the country, this war set in motion a process which has variantly been described as the “Battle of Concessions”, “Scramble for Concessions”, or “Cutting of the Chinese Melon” -- among the Powers of Europe and the West.
From Japan’s victory, it appeared to these powers that the Chinese Empire was falling to pieces. It was about to become another Africa, the booty of the powers. The idea of the partition of China gained ground; the nations began to scramble for spoil. There followed the struggle for concessions, for leased territories, for spheres of influence, which disregarding Chinese integrity seemed to promise only the imminent partition of the Empire.
Russia taking the initiative along with France and Germany, six days after the conclusion of the Treaty of Shimonesky, according to which South-East Manchuria was ceded to Japan by China, intervened to force Japan in giving up these gains. She did secure from China the island of Taiwan and the neighbouring islands.
It is very interesting to note that the Powers had undertaken this great step not sympathetically towards China but, in fact, they had their own axes to grind. In the true sense, their interests in various sectors in China were to clash with those of Japan. So they declared that in the name of peace in the Far East, it was their advice to Japan to renounce its possession of the Peninsula of Liao-tung, which “would at the same time render illusory the independence of Korea.” Being aware of ‘an unfriendly European intervention’, Japan accepted the advise.
Russia had won the point. It had opened the gates of what she desired. She had posed as the friend of China and won her goodwill, though the real cause of her intervention was her clash of interests with Japan in the Far-East. Again, she was aware of the growing economic needs of China due to war and corruption in the administration, which could be solved only through foreign loans.
Taking advantage of all this, Russia invited China’s ablest statesman of the time, Li Hung Chang, in 1896 at St. Petersburg, and by impressing upon him the friendliness of Russia towards China, persuaded him to sign the famous treaty of Lilo Vanu in 1896. The alliance was specifically directed against Japan, and the two agreed to support each other reciprocally, declare war or peace in common against the said country. In the case of war against Japan, China allowed Russia to use her ports promising to provide all necessary facilities. China also allowed Russia to construct tans-Siberian Railway across Northern Manchuria directly to Vladivotsk. Russia assured China of her non-aggression towards the Chinese territory. In another term, Russia promised loan to China on easy instalments to help her pay war-indemnity to Japan.
To fulfill these obligations, a Russo-Chinese Bank was established in China which, as described in its charter, was to be agency to collect taxes, finance the business of local government, coin money and secure commercial and industrial concessions as well as the right to construct and extend railways and telegraph. The opinion of Dr. H.M. Vinacke is that “although organized and controlled under Russian law, the Russo-Chinese Bank was to serve as the fiscal agent of the Chinese government in addition to undertaking the work of financing rail-roads and other projects to Manchuria.”
The railway was to be under the joint control of Sino-Russian company for 80 years after which it was to become the property of China. However, it was narrated that should the Government of China wish to redeem the road at the beginning of the 37th year, she would have to pay a sum of at least 700 million rubles, but it seemed improbable that China would ever try to occupy it after such a huge payment.
After sometime, Russia consolidated her gains by further concessions. She got the ease of Port Arthur for 15 years with the condition that it will be opened only to the warships of China and Russia. She also got for 15 years Kiao-Chao as a naval base. She also got certain more favourable rights such as maintenance of law and order. Moreover, she got mining rights in Southern Manchuria.

The pace set by Russia was followed by Germany who also extracted concessions. She had already given notice to Russia and France about her desire to get concessions in China of port or ports where German ships could anchor, carry out repairs and get food supplies. Capitalizing on the situation created by the murder of two German missionaries in Shantung, Germany sent a strong naval squadron to Kiao-Chao and forced China to sign a treaty on March 6, 1898. The Treaty remarked that “The Imperial Chinese Government consider it advisable to give a special proof of their grateful appreciation of the friendship shown to them by Germany.”
- Germany got lease of Kiao-Chao Bay and adjacent territories for 99 years.
- She was to have full jurisdiction in the leased territory.
-Germany got free passage for her troops in the neutral zone up to 50 kilometres outside the leased area.
- Germany’s special claims in Shantung for any foreign aid were recognized.
- No Chinese or foreign control over German armies in neutral territory.
- Germany could not ‘sublet’ the territory leased to her.
- China would cede to Germany a more suitable place in the event the Germans returned the territory before the expiry of the lease period.
- China would construct Shantung Railway under a German company.
- Germany was given the right to take out coal from mines within 10 miles of Shantung.

France also followed the suit and compelled China to grant her concessions in the Treaty of 1898. She had already in 1895, secured a statement from China that she would not hand over the island of Hainan to any other power in lease. She had gained a concession in customs’ charging on goods entering China from the French dependencies in the South and also an opportunity to exploit the mines of Yunan, Kwangsi and Kwangtung Provinces. She also got teh permission to extend the Annam railway into Chinese territory. But now in 1898, she furthered her interests:
- France was to get all facilities for the construction of Tongking-Yunnan railway.
- She got lease for 99 years of Kwangchao with the right to keep troops and extract coal.
- French advisors for Chinese postal service.

Britain alarmed at these developments, particularly on Russia’s growing influence in Peking, enforced a series of some agreements upon China during February to July 1898, according to which:
- She got the lease of Wei-Hai-Wei for the same period for which Russia possessed Port Arthur.
- Extension of the lease of the main territory opposite Hongkong.
- Boundaries of Burma were revised in her favour.
- Territories on Yang-Tse river not to be leased to any other power.
- A British national to be Inspector-General of customs.
- Lease of Formosa for 99 years.
- Right to construct railway up to 2800 miles (9 railroad concessions) was given to Britain.

Japan also made an agreement with China according to which the latter was not to alienate the Province of Fukien, lying across Formosa, to any other power. It was accepted by China.
Italy was the last to demand concessions from China, but being the weakest power, failed to get any. China boldly refused to comply with her wishes.

Thus it is evident from the preceding study that an acute struggle for concessions from China followed among the Europeans and the West after the Sino-Japanese War. The powers were now busy to secure their spheres of interest. Vinacke writes, “Each one of the power proceeded to secure from the others the fullest possible recognition of its exclusive interest in the area claimed by it for exploitation.” Clyde and Beers have also narrated that “an era of special and exclusive privilege was dawning in China.” It now appeared that the next logical step would be the partitioning of China among the powers. But this could not be possible partly due to the birth of a strong national and anti-foreign movement in China and partly on account of Hay’s Open Door Notes in which America clearly stated that she would not allow China to close her doors to this or that power in favour of one or the more concession-holding powers. Great Britain, already against the commercial interests within the sphere of interests, and a supporter of the Open Door Policy, greatly welcomed the Hay’s proposals, because in it Britain found the revival of its own Chinese policy of the years 1860 to 1865. Lack of mutual trust and acute rivalry and jealousies among these powers was also responsible for saving China from dismemberment. Thus writes Harold M Vinacke:
“The acceptance of the Hay principles by the Powers temporarily checked the movement toward the partition of China at the first stage of its development. The reaction of the Chinese government and people toward this foreign aggression, however, brought the question of the extination of Chinese national life again to the front. The lesson of the Sino-Japanese War and the years immediately following was, fundamentally, that China must so reorganize herself that she could successfully defend herself against attacks from the outside. The government’s policy in the past had been to rely for the defence of the country upon the lack of harmony of interest among the European Powers. Russia’s aggressive tendencies, for example, would be held in check, it was thought by Great Britain. One Power could be so played off against another as to safeguard China. This “balance of power” theory, however, broke down in the face of the revelation of China’s weakness, and of the bringing into play of the sphere conception. A Russian alliance, it is true, was accepted to secure China against Japan. But the German demand for a lease-hold, and the acquiescence of the other states in the advance she made, changed the situation materially. The Russian alliance did not cover European aggression, and China found no one to give her active support in the face of the German threat. The ‘balance of power’ idea was invoked certainly, but to the entire disadvantage of China, since each Power demanded compensation for gains made by the others in order that the ‘balance’ should be preserved. Ultimately the action of a foreign state, the United States, did bring some external support to China, but only after the active contestants had stopped to take stock of the situation.”