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ARTICLE: Have you wondered who was the cruelest person in history? Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party? Genghis Khan and his hordes? Consider King Leopold II of Belgium. In the 19th century, Belgium forcibly occupied Congo (Belgian Congo). Congo was not considered a colony of Belgium. Rather it was King Leopold II's personal estate. Only his rule applied. Leopold II and his other European royal colleagues would often go for hunting in Belgian Congo. They would ride on elephants. Natives would be released from cages and told to make a run for it. The hunters would open fire. A few natives would escape into the forest. Others were gunned down. If the native survived, he was stomped to death under the elephant's feet. The escaped natives were usually recaptured for a repeat performance. Leopold II personally handed out prizes to the hunter with most kills. In 1908, under international pressure, Belgian Congo was declared a "Belgian Colony". But nothing changed. In the 1960s, Patrice Lumumba was killed. Later, Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN Secretary General. No enquiry commission reached a conclusion. The Belgian government and the Belgian people consider Leopold II a hero. The Belgian people were fed the biggest cover-up in history. The EU Human Rights Commission is housed in Brussels. It would be befitting if a statue of Leopold II was placed at the entrance.

In India, we observe a crazy man - Narendra Modi. One of the underlying issues is that the untouchable class of Hindus (Dalits) found life so unbearable, that they were converting to other religions - Islam, Christianity. This has partly galvanized Modi's current madness. The rulers of the British Empire rarely fought a war with their own soldiers. 'Mercenaries', a form of slavery, from various colonies, mostly India, manned the front lines.

Currently 1 billion people in the world are in some form of slavery - bonded labour, forced labour etc. The expatriates who work in the GCC countries could be classified as slaves - they have no human rights. Voltaire, the French philosopher said, "Man is born free - yet everywhere he is in chains". The bestselling book of the 1960s was entitled "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit" by Sloan Wilson.

The author says that the modern executive (and his dependents) are slaves to the rat race - credit cards, mortgages, keeping up with the Jones, advertising, social status, etc.

The rat race can only be won by a rat.

(The writer is the former Executive Director of the Management Association of Pakistan)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020