Sunday, 18 December 2011

Invasion of Goa - 50 years

December 18th 1961, the armed forces of the self described "pacifist" Nehru, attack Portuguese India, the first and last bastion of European civilization in the subcontinent.

Portuguese India - Coat of Arms
Map of Portuguese territories in India
A few lines by the poet M.Daedalus (, to honour the day:

Goa 1961

A taciturn rain envelops the morning,
Tears drop from the cross of a white basilica,
India wears a Mediterranean nostalgia.

Man-made thunders agitate the palm-trees
The birds ebb in the ungrateful firmament
Afonso de Albuquerque is invoked in Konkani
"Nehru is coming" a soldier shouts
"Bandit, not pundit!" somebody retorts.

Pathetically the radio plays patriotic songs
Gagged by jet aircraft gutting the clouds
Shiva avenges the kingdom of Cambay
Kalashnikovs echo the screams of Bijapur
Salazar flies away in yesterday's newspaper
The Queen of the Orient drowns in the Mandovi.

Elephants loose their composure
Austins and Peugeots lie abandoned on the harbour road
Oranges and panic are spread over the pier
A man in white suit wraps a fist full of earth
Panjim dies for the sake of a life to be invented.

The empire sheds European and Asian blood
Dadra and Nagar Aveli, were the first perfidious blows
Goa, Daman and Diu completed the five wounds.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Dec 9, 2011: the first day of Europe's new life

Merkel and Sarkozy point the way... or poking fun at Cameron?
Today, 20 years after the Maastricht Treaty, the temptation may be to start a long rant on Britain's often successful attempts to block European integration, in general acting on behalf of its former colonies across the Atlantic. Thirty eight years of British Euro-skepticism and hostility have now been repaid with simple indifference. Britain was always the spanner in the European works, or as Der Spiegel puts it "the fly in the European soup"!

Anyway, let bygones be bygones and let us celebrate the first day of a new era: a two-speed Europe.

We are done with the hypocrisy, no more lowest common denominator agreements. The continent will march on forwards, and the island north of La Manche can continue swimming towards America... except that maybe Scotland may decide to join us later on.

History proved the Charles de Gaulle was right all the time: Britain should never have entered, having instead some kind of association agreement at the same level of Turkey. The unprepared US-led enlargement towards the East was also an error: although these nations are an absolutely essential part of Europe, the calendar was all wrong, i.e. deepening of the Union should have came before a formal enlargement. This has led us to a moment when only creative destruction will solve the problem, and Merkel and Sarkozy have earned their place in history. The debt crisis is Europe's blessing in disguise.

So we have a draft intergovernmental treaty, but that is only a first step. Europe now needs the instruments of representative democracy. Of course integrated economic policies, foriegn policy and defense are essential, but none are totally legitimate without the creation of European-wide political parties. Without truly European parties setting the agenda, we will always face the risk of crippling balkanization.

Having solved the problem of a Union eternaly blocked by the British, of course the intergovernmental agreement (the "compact") itself still has to run the gauntlet of approval in each signatory country. Furthermore, a 'fiscal union' may come in many forms, and the devil is in the detail. 'Fiscal union' at most will be an euphemism for common rules for budgetary discipline across the Eurozone, there will be no merger of tax structures and authorities.

Naturally the less naïve among us are also raising fundamental doubts on the sufficiency of the intergovernmental agreement as a tool to return public debt markets to normality, strong tools such as Eurobonds or the ability of the ECB to make large scale bond purchases or increase money supply remain off the agenda. Even simple budgetary discipline rules imposed from outside will only be effective if non-compliance will lead to powerful sanctions. Writing budget prudence into the constitution of each member country per se is not enough, if politicians have a talent is is fudging the rules. In case it was forgotten: rules for budgetary discipline across the EU are already in place. The Euro convergence criteria (aka Maastricht criteria) require that member states keep deficits below 3 per cent of GDP and ratio of gross government debt to GDP must not exceed 60% at the end of the preceding fiscal year.

Charles de Gaulle vindicated at last - Gallic revenge on the Brits