Why India is Clueless about China

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power, notes Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

The latest round of the unending and fruitless India-China talks on territorial disputes was a fresh reminder of the eroding utility of this process. It is approaching nearly three decades since China and India began these negotiations.

In this period, the world has changed fundamentally. Indeed, with its rapidly accumulating military and economic power, China itself has emerged as a great power in the making, with Washington’s Asia policy now manifestly Sino-centric. Not only has India allowed its military and nuclear asymmetry with China to grow, but also New Delhi’s room for diplomatic maneuver is shrinking. As the just retired Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, has put it plainly, the power ‘gap between the two is just too wide to bridge and getting wider by the day.’

Of course, power asymmetry in inter-State relations does not mean the weaker side must bend to the dictates of the stronger or seek to propitiate it. Wise strategy, coupled with good diplomacy, is the art of offsetting or neutralising military or economic power imbalance with another state. But as Admiral Mehta warned, ‘China is in the process of consolidating its comprehensive national power and creating formidable military capabilities. Once it is done, China is likely to be more assertive on its claims, especially in the immediate neighbourhood.’

It is thus obvious that the longer the process of border-related talks continues without yielding tangible results, the greater the space Beijing will have to mount strategic pressure on India and the greater its leverage in the negotiations.

After all, China already holds the military advantage on the ground. Its forces control the heights along the long 4,057-kilometre Himalayan frontier, with the Indian troops perched largely on the lower levels.

Furthermore, by building new railroads, airports and highways in Tibet, China is now in a position to rapidly move additional forces to the border to potentially strike at India at a time of its choosing.

Diplomatically, China is a contented party, having occupied what it wanted — the Aksai Chin plateau, which is almost the size of Switzerland and provides the only accessible Tibet-Xinjiang route through the Karakoram passes of the Kunlun Mountains. Yet it chooses to press claims on additional Indian territories as part of a grand strategy to gain leverage in bilateral relations and, more importantly, to keep India under military and diplomatic pressure.

At the core of its strategy is an apparent resolve to indefinitely hold off on a border settlement with India through an overt refusal to accept the territorial status quo.

In not hiding its intent to further redraw the Himalayan frontiers, Beijing only helps highlight the futility of the ongoing process of political negotiations. After all, the territorial status quo can be changed not through political talks but by further military conquest.

Yet, paradoxically, the political process remains important for Beijing to provide the façade of engagement behind which to seek India’s containment.

Keeping India engaged in endless talks is a key Chinese objective so that Beijing can continue its work on changing the Himalayan balance decisively in its favour through a greater build-up of military power and logistical capabilities.

That is why China has sought to shield the negotiating process from the perceptible hardening of its stance towards New Delhi and the vituperative attacks against India in its State-run media. Add to the picture the aggressive patrolling of the Himalayan frontier by the People’s Liberation Army and the growing Chinese incursions across the line of control.

Let’s be clear: Chinese negotiating tactics have shifted markedly over the decades. Beijing originally floated the swap idea — giving up its claims in India’s northeast in return for Indian acceptance of the Chinese control over a part of Ladakh — to legalise its occupation of Aksai Chin. It then sang the mantra of putting the territorial disputes on the backburner so that the two countries could concentrate on building close, mutually beneficial relations.

But in more recent years, in keeping with its rising strength, China has escalated border tensions and military incursions while assertively laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh.

According to a recent report in Ming Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper with close ties to the establishment in Beijing, China is seeking ‘just’ 28 per cent of Arunachal. That means an area nearly the size of Taiwan.

In that light, can the Sino-Indian border talks be kept going indefinitely? Consider two important facts:

First, the present border negotiations have been going on continuously since 1981, making them already the longest and the most-barren process between any two countries in modern history. The record includes eight rounds of senior-level talks between 1981 and 1987, 14 Joint Working Group meetings between 1988 and 2002, and 13 rounds of talks between the designated Special Representatives since 2003.

It seems the only progress in this process is that India’s choice of words in public is now the same as China’s. ‘Both countries have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of this issue,’ Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told Parliament on July 31. ‘The matter, of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience.’

It was as if the Chinese foreign minister was speaking. Isn’t it odd for India — the country at the receiving end of growing Chinese bellicosity — to plead for more time and patience after nearly three decades of negotiations?

Second, the authoritative People’s Daily — the Communist Party mouthpiece that reflects official thinking — made it clear in a June 11, 2009 editorial: ‘China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India.’ That reflects the Chinese position in the negotiations. But when Beijing is advertising its uncompromising stance, doesn’t New Delhi get the message?

The recent essay posted on a Chinese quasi-official Web site that called for India to be broken into 20 to 30 sovereign States cannot obscure an important fact: Dismember India is a project China launched in the Mao years when it trained and armed Naga and Mizo guerrillas. In initiating its proxy war against India, Pakistan merely took a leaf out of the Chinese book.

Today, China’s muscle-flexing along the Himalayas cannot be ignored. After all, even when China was poor and backward, it employed brute force to annex Xinjiang (1949) and Tibet (1950), to raid South Korea (1950), to invade India (1962), to initiate a border conflict with the Soviet Union through a military ambush (1969) and to attack Vietnam (1979).

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power.

So, the key question is: What does India gain by staying put in an interminably barren negotiating process with China? By persisting with this process, isn’t India aiding the Chinese engagement-with-containment strategy by providing Beijing the cover it needs?

While Beijing’s strategy and tactics are apparent, India has had difficulty to define a game plan and resolutely pursue clearly laid-out objectives. Still, staying put in a barren process cannot be an end in itself for India.

India indeed has retreated to an increasingly defensive position territorially, with the spotlight now on China’s Tibet-linked claim to Arunachal Pradesh than on Tibet’s status itself.

Now you know why Beijing invested so much political capital over the years in getting India to gradually accept Tibet as part of the territory of the People’s Republic. Its success on that score has helped narrow the dispute to what it claims. That neatly meshes with China’s long-standing negotiating stance.

What it occupies is Chinese territory, and what it claims must be on the table to be settled on the basis of give-and-take — or as it puts it in reasonably sounding terms, on the basis of ‘mutual accommodation and mutual understanding.’

As a result, India has been left in the unenviable position of having to fend off Chinese territorial demands. In fact, history is in danger of repeating itself as India gets sucked into a 1950s-style trap. The issue then was Aksai Chin; the issue now is Arunachal.

But rather than put the focus on the source of China’s claim — Tibet — and Beijing’s attempt to territorially enlarge its Tibet annexation to what it calls ‘southern Tibet,’ India is willing to be taken ad infinitum around the mulberry bush.

Just because New Delhi has accepted Tibet to be part of China should not prevent it from gently shining a spotlight on Tibet as the lingering core issue.

Yet India’s long record of political diffidence only emboldens Beijing. India accepted the Chinese annexation of Tibet and surrendered its own British-inherited extraterritorial rights over Tibet on a silver platter without asking for anything in return. Now, China wants India to display the same ‘amicable spirit’ and hand over to it at least the Tawang valley.

Take the period since the border talks were ‘elevated’ to the level of special representatives in 2003. India first got into an extended exercise with Beijing to define general principles to govern a border settlement, despite China’s egregious record of flouting the Panchsheel principles and committing naked aggression in 1962. But no sooner had the border-related principles been unveiled in 2005 with fanfare than Beijing jettisoned the do-not-disturb-the-settled-populations principle to buttress its claim to Arunachal.

Yet, as the most-recent round of recent talks highlighted, India has agreed to let the negotiations go off at a tangent by broadening them into a diffused strategic dialogue — to the delight of Beijing. The process now has become a means for the two sides to discuss ‘the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest.’

This not only opens yet another chapter in an increasingly directionless process, but also lets China condition a border settlement to the achievement of greater Sino-Indian strategic congruence. Worse still, New Delhi is to observe 2010 — the 60th anniversary of China becoming India’s neighbour by gobbling up Tibet — as the ‘Year of Friendship with China’ in India.

Brahma Chellaney



China should break up India: Chinese strategist

Almost coinciding with the 13th round of Sino-Indian border talks (New Delhi , August 7-8, 2009), an article (in the Chinese language) has appeared in China captioned ‘If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up’ (Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang, www.iiss.cn, Chinese, August 8, 2009).
Interestingly, it has been reproduced in several other strategic and military Web sites of the country and by all means, targets the domestic audience. The authoritative host site is located in Beijing  and is the new edition of one, which so far represented the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (www.chinaiiss.org).

Claiming that Beijing’s ‘China-Centric’ Asian strategy, provides for splitting India, the writer of the article, Zhan Lue (strategy), has found that New Delhi’s corresponding ‘India-Centric’ policy in Asia, is in reality a ‘Hindustan centric’ one. Stating that on the other hand ‘local centres’ exist in several of the country’s provinces (excepting for the UP and certain northern regions), Zhan Lue has felt that in the face of such local characteristics, the ‘so-called’ Indian nation cannot be considered as one having existed in history.

According to the article, if India today relies on any thing for unity, it is the Hindu religion. The partition of the country was based on religion. Stating that today nation states are the main current in the world, it has said that India could only be termed now as a ‘Hindu religious state’. Adding that Hinduism is a decadent religion as it allows caste exploitation and is unhelpful to the country’s modernisation, it described the Indian government as one in a dilemma with regard to eradication of the caste system as it realises that the process to do away with castes may shake the foundation of the consciousness of the Indian nation.

The writer has argued that in view of the above, China in its own interest and the progress of Asia, should join forces with different nationalities like the Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-States of their own, out of India. In particular, the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) in Assam, a territory neighboring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realises its national independence.

The article has also felt that for Bangladesh, the biggest threat is from India, which wants to develop a great Indian Federation extending from Afghanistan to Myanmar. India is also targeting China with support to Vietnam’s efforts to occupy Nansha (Spratly) group of islands in South China Sea.

Hence the need for China’s consolidation of its alliance with Bangladesh, a country with which the US and Japan  are also improving their relations to counter China.

It has pointed out that China can give political support to Bangladesh enabling the latter to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India to get rid of Indian control and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation; if the same is not possible, creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable, for the purpose of weakening India’s expansion and threat aimed at forming a ‘unified South Asia’.

The punch line in the article has been that to split India, China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support ULFA in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like the Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal  and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km territory in southern Tibet .

Wishing for India’s break-up into 20 to 30 nation-States like in Europe, the article has concluded by saying that if the consciousness of nationalities in India could be aroused, social reforms in South Asia can be achieved, the caste system can be eradicated and the region can march along the road of prosperity.

The Chinese article in question will certainly outrage readers in India. Its suggestion that China can follow a strategy to dismember India, a country always with a tradition of unity in diversity, is atrocious, to say the least. The write-up could not have been published without the permission of the Chinese authorities, but it is sure that Beijing will wash its hands out of this if the matter is taken up with it by New Delhi.

It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices — its diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding during their dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its selected media is pouring venom on India in their reporting. Which one to believe is a question confronting the public opinion and even policy makers in India.

In any case, an approach of panic towards such outbursts will be a mistake, but also ignoring them will prove to be costly for India.

— By: D S Rajan, is Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies.

Source: REDIFF

Nervous China may attack India by 2012: Expert

A leading defence expert has projected that China will attack India by 2012 to divert the attention of its own people from “unprecedented” internal dissent, growing unemployment and financial problems that are threatening the hold of Communists in that country.

“China will launch an attack on India before 2012. There are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century,” Bharat Verma, Editor of the Indian Defence Review, has said.

Verma said the recession has “shut the Chinese exports shop”, creating an “unprecedented internal social unrest” which in turn, was severely threatening the grip of the Communists over the society.

Among other reasons for this assessment were rising unemployment, flight of capital worth billions of dollars, depletion of its foreign exchange reserves and growing internal dissent, Verma said in an editorial in the forthcoming issue of the premier defence journal. In addition to this, “The growing irrelevance of Pakistan, their right hand that operates against India on their behest, is increasing the Chinese nervousness,” he said, adding that US President Barak Obama’s Af-Pak policy was primarily Pak-Af policy that has “intelligently set the thief to catch the thief”.

Verma said Beijing was “already rattled, with its proxy Pakistan now literally embroiled in a civil war, losing its sheen against India.” “Above all, it is worried over the growing alliance of India with the US and the West, because the alliance has the potential to create a technologically superior counterpoise.

“All these three concerns of Chinese Communists are best addressed by waging a war against pacifist India to achieve multiple strategic objectives,” he said.

While China “covertly allowed” North Korea to test underground nuclear explosion and carry out missile trials, it was also “increasing its naval presence in South China Sea to coerce into submission those opposing its claim on the Sprately Islands,” the defence expert said. He said it would be “unwise” at this point of time for a recession-hit China to move against the Western interests, including Japan.

“Therefore, the most attractive option is to attack a soft target like India and forcibly occupy its territory in the Northeast,” Verma said. But India is “least prepared” on ground to face the Chinese threat, he says and asks a series of questions on how will India respond to repulse the Chinese game plan or whether Indian leadership would be able to “take the heat of war”.

“Is Indian military equipped to face the two-front wars by Beijing and Islamabad? Is the Indian civil administration geared to meet the internal security challenges that the external actors will sponsor simultaneously through their doctrine of unrestricted warfare? “The answers are an unequivocal ‘no’. Pacifist India is not ready by a long shot either on the internal or the external front,” the defence journal editor says. In view of the “imminent threat” posed by China, “the quickest way to swing out of pacifism to a state of assertion is by injecting military thinking in the civil administration to build the sinews. That will enormously increase the deliverables on ground – from Lalgarh to Tawang,” he says.

Source: Times of India dated 12th July 2009

Chandrayaan launched successfully

India’s first ever unmanned flight to the moon was launched successfully today at 6.22 am from the Satish Dhawan space research centre in Sriharikota. The launch was a successful one and Chandrayaan 1 is expected to be a four day journey.
The launch of Chandrayaan 1 will mark the arrival of India in the big league of countries that have planned and executed space missions. The rocket called the PSLV(Polar satellite launch vehicle). The satellite has entered the geostationary transfer orbit and from there another apogee motor will kick it and launch it in the lunar orbit. The lunar orbit is at a distance of almost 3,87,000 kms from the surface of the earth. Once in the lunar orbit, the speed of Chandrayaan will be reduced so that it gets captured by the gravity of the moon and gets attracted to its surface. Once close to the surface of the moon, the Moon impact probe will be dropped from Chandrayaan which will land on the moon in order to collect scientific data and samples.
The entire process is made up of four parts, the first one today was launched with a solid state engine where as the second and the third lap will be powered by liquid propelled engines. The last part will again be launched by a solid state engine. The 1,380 Kg Chandrayaan is carrying eleven pay loads. Five of the payloads have been completely made in India, two have come from the United States of America, three from Bulgaria and one from the European space agency.
Not just the Indian scientists and members of the space fraternity, but scientists all over the world were glued in to witness the launch of Chandrayaan. Several other countries are also involved in the entire process of making Chandrayaan. A mini synthetic aperture radar which has been provided by NASA is also on board Chandrayaan. This radar will help find the ice or any possibility of water.
India has taken a huge leap forward by the launch of Chandrayaan. Chandrayaan is the 14th flight of the PSLV and is the thirteenth successive one in a row. India is the sixth country in the world that has gone on to send a mission to the moon. The United States of America, Soviet Union, European space agency, China and Japan. Thus it has now entered the big league of countries who have launched major probes into the solar system. The united states of America is the only country which has sent manned missions to the moon.
All Indians will be keeping their fingers crossed hoping that the entire mission will be successful. For the moment it has had a perfect successful launch and we hope and pray that the mission will go as planned.

How corrupt are we?

Corruption seems to be an endemic part of India as the latest report of Transparency International rates India as the 85th most corrupt country in the world but did we really need an international report to tell us as to how corrupt we are?
New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark seem to be from a different planet all together as they have been voted as the least corrupt countries all over. The redeeming fact was that our next door neighbor Pakistan is at the 134th position, but seeing our economic progress and the lack of theirs, Pakistan is not really the country that we should be comparing with. Where India and China were at par at the 72nd position last year, India has slipped whereas the Chinese despite hosting the most high profile event of the World- the Beijing Olympics have maintained their position.
The harsh reality is that corruption in India is not limited to the politicians and the government employees. It is woven in the social fabric of our country and is tangible in every section of society. Just look around you and you will see the impact of Corruption. The traffic policeman standing at the signal, the ticket checker at the railway station, the peon in the college premises have all been involved in corruption. But to say that these are the only people who breed corruption would be giving credit where it is not entirely due. For we are the people because of whom corruption thrives in our country.  It isn’t just the public sector where corruption thrives but the entire society. The person who offers the bribe is equally corrupt as the person who accepts is. So is it a lack of the respect for the law that makes us corrupt? Is the law enforcement in our country so weak that people believe they can get away with such activities?
The differentiating factor between India and the other nations of the world was its rich culture and heritage and its spiritual and religious outlook. But inspite of all this corruption has thrived in India. Look every where whether it is the public sector, private sector, the government, the judiciary and even the armed forces, none of them can stand up and say that we are not corrupt. Is there something wrong in our parental and teaching process for not instilling morals in us?
Perhaps this is the cynic view that many NRI’s hold once they have shifted abroad. The reason why they refrain from coming back to the country is corruption. The irrational rules of the system, the inefficient bureaucracy and the corrupt society are what confirm their beliefs. And those are the feelings shared by many of us staying within the country.
India is on the threshold of becoming a superpower in the world. But all these dreams can not be realized if corruption were to continue. One of the actors in Rang De Basanti had said, “No country is born great, it has to be made great”. It applies to every country including ours. Strong efforts need to be taken by all of us in order to curb corruption. The Right to information (RTI) act was a great step in empowering the common man in his fight against the system. Now he has the courage to challenge corruption. But this is not enough. For starters we could have separate to speed up the corruption cases, the media could play a bigger role in tarnishing the image of corrupt people in public and we could have stronger laws to deter corruption. We might have received freedom from the British more than six decades ago but we are yet to receive freedom from the perils of corruption. Corruption is like a termite which if not stopped now could eat up our entire society. But as Mahatma Gandhi had once said, “Be the change you want to see in the World” – the efforts will have to begin from our side.

China: outsourcing policing to India and Nepal?

Tibetans and Indians of Tibetan origin have been protesting the occupation and repression of their land and culture in the past couple of weeks. Not that they did not protest for the past 50 years; just that no one really bothered to listen to them earlier, and with the summer Olympics approaching, obviously they are trying to use the media to get the world to focus attention to their cause. And why not? They have to live with reality, and the reality today is that everyone is taking advantage of media to their own advantage, so why not for a just cause?The forceful occupation on flimsy grounds of Tibet by China was wrong on all accounts and was purely driven by greed and potential for exploitation of resources of Tibet, such as water and minerals. Just because UN or the so called power brokers of the world did not come to the rescue of Tibetians does not mean it was justified or legal in any way, shape or form.

Protester being hauled away in DelhiThe only country that came to their help in any meaningful way was India – which provided them a safe haven to settle and preserve their cultural identity and language. We should all feel very proud of that – because when it comes to rendering any meaningful help, without any strings attached, even institutions like UN, shied away from helping them against the unjust and forceful occupation by China.

That said, the current protests, atleast in India and perhaps also in Nepal, have been very peaceful. So why do we see statements from MEA (ministry of external affairs) that they are not allowed to protest? Why are we seeing images of them being forcefully stopped, being hauled away and being arrested? Nepal has even banned climbing expeditions to the mountains, lest some of the expedition members, protest against China in the rarified regions where human protest has never been recorded before. Just goes to show how much “grounds” need to be covered to cover up a deceitful deed.

The Dalai LamaFor China, the Dalai Lama, the revered, soft spoken 70+ years old, Buddhist monk, with no army, no weapons, no nation, is somehow a bigger threat than any terrorist – and they must think everyone in the world is totally retarted to believe, their official statement, that all of this protest has been somehow masterminded by this one person. Did someone ever tell the Chinese that the truth is mightier than the biggest army? I am sure this is one is covered by Confucius – but when you have a huge army, and a galloping economy, you sometimes ignore the teachings of wise men, only to rediscover the truth in their teaching.

Candle light protest in ChandigarhCandle light protest in MumbaiAnd BTW, since when did India ban the right to hold a peaceful protest? In the land of Mahatma Gandhi, how come we have turned away from his ideals?
Don’t know how other Indians feel, but this kind of state supression for something that is so right, is downright shameful.
And for those of us who feel “they” when it comes to Indians of Tibetian origins, most of them are as Indian as anyone else, as they were born and brought up in India. Besides that, they are one of the host of ethenic minorities in India who are law abiding and as patriotic as others. So they have the same damn rights as any other Indian to gather and protest whatever they don’t like about India, China or the world. If politicians and the establishment, believe that people in India have the damn right to have violent protest against cartoons published in faraway Denmark – why are these legitimate peaceful protests a “problem”?

So has China outsourced its repression and/or law and order over to India and Nepal?
And why are we doing their bidding?
When did India sign off the rights of Indians (whether of Tibetian origin or not) to protest the occupation and cultural steamrolling of China over Tibet?
Could we also know, what pact India has signed off with other countries, where Indians are suddenly not allowed the freedom to express themselves in a peaceful manner?

And even if we imagine for a moment, that this is a quid pro quo – what favour does China do for India? China has repeatedly thwarted India’s entry into the UN security council. It has illegally taken a large chunk of Kashmir, a territory which is under dispute with Pakistan. It keeps ingressing into Indian territory in the North East especially near Arunachal Pradesh. It goes into fits whenever the Dalai Lama is shown any respect anywhere in the world. It recently, threatened our PM from paying a state visit to Arunachal Pradesh (Tawang area), and sadly, the PM did not have the guts to tell them to go take a hike, somewhere else. China has over the years bribed and encouraged all kinds of separatists to keep causing problems for India – this is especially true of the north east region. It has consistently sided with Pakistan, providing advanced technology and sophisticated weaponry, again, to ensure that India is kept in tangles. In short, if they just kept to themselves, it would be a great help to India.

For law abiding citizens who protest peacefully, our police under the directions of their political bosses, take the high handed approach and haul them away in police vans. What do we do for violent, unjustified, constitutionally illegal protests? Read on…

Protesters in BangaloreJust a few weeks back we witnessed two weeks of rampage by goons under the “able” direction of Raj Thakerey – the police just stood on the sidelines when right in front of their eyes, public property was destroyed and citizens were being intimidated and beaten up. Every year several groups and political parties go on a rampage, destroy public property, cause large scale disruption of the economy and hardship to people – and the police take no action at all. In the end, those responsible for unprovoked, unjustified, blatantly illegal, grossly violent protests are never charged, never arrested, never carted away, never penalized – leading to more and more retarted people resorting to such tactics. It took the Mumbai police about 2 weeks to arrest Raj – and he was out on bail in 15 minutes flat, with a little tickle on his wrist – he had to pay Rs 15,000 for bail! The PM and CM were mute spectators and allowed this whole MNS episode to play out and in the end the CM declared that he wanted to come up with a “compensation package” for those affected – so goons are allowed to cause destruction and hardship to everyone else, and who has to pick up the tab? Not the goons but the tax payers! And this is not the first time. Everytime some group with political connections goes on a rampage, the “package” comes out of the tax payers. Is it any wonder that a state like Maharashtra is in debt?

So somewhere along the way, our politicians and MEA strategists have, without our knowledge, signed off our rights, in a quid pro quo, with China and perhaps with other countries.

Injured Protester in NepalNo wonder that we have had a luke warm reaction from our politicians? When it comes to Mahatma Gandhi the Cong-I lays first claim (they just manipulated to hang onto his last name) to his heritage and values – they seem to be pretty muted right now. Our PM as ususal, is in mute mode; “hear no evil, see no evil, therefore no reason to act”. What about our human rights “watch dogs”, and surrogates of the Chinese Govt in India – the marxists? At other times, it seems they have a monopoly on “human rights”, bestowing it on rapists, terrorists, naxalites, illegal immigrants etc. So why are there no street protests for the human rights of Tibetians in China. In the marxists view are Tibetians any less human or have they (marxists) been bribed so much that their lips are sealed? Fortunately, atleast some politicians raised this question in the parliament; but more than that it is for us people to be aware and to show our support, even if politicians have sold India’s soul.

It seems in today’s heartless environment, when many other traditions are under threat, this one tradition that made India stand out as a country with a heart – has perhaps been signed off, without the knowledge of its citizens.

Could the citizens alteast know what deals India has cut with heartless nations like China and others, so we may be more circumspect when we go marching on the streets, the next time?

India and Tibet

 Tibet ProtestsNo event since independence has more adversely affected India’s security than the fall of Tibet. Tibet’s annexation by China created a new geopolitical reality by bringing Han forces to India’s frontiers for the first time in history. Within 11 years of extending its full control over Tibet, China invaded India — a war whose wounds have been kept open by Beijing’s aggressive claims to additional Indian territories.

TibetToday, China’s occupation gives it control over Tibet’s vast mineral and water resources. Tibet not only has 126 different minerals, but is also the source of rivers like the Brahmaputra, Sutlej and Indus — the ongoing damming of which allows Beijing to fashion water into a political weapon against India. Indeed, China’s reckless exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources carries serious ecological and climatic implications for India.

The occupying power now is creating new demographic realities on the ground that would help accentuate India’s security challenge. Not content with having turned Lhasa into an overwhelmingly Han city, Beijing is pursuing a vigorous “Go West” Han-migration campaign, which is being facilitated by the new railway. Tibet’s Sinicization is helping marginalize Tibetans, sympathetic to India. Is it any surprise thus that Tibetans have risen in revolt against Beijing’s relentless repression?

With the Tibetan rebellion having spread to remote parts of Tibet, and even beyond to the areas forcibly incorporated in Han provinces, China has responded with brute force, cutting off the Tibetan plateau from the rest of the world, killing scores of protestors and arbitrarily arresting many in an ongoing crackdown. India cannot stay a mute spectator to the bloodletting on the land of the pacifist Tibetan Buddhist culture. The autocrats in Beijing will not ease their crackdown unless international pressure is brought to bear on them. The world has no second option.

Tibet is the core issue between India and China. So India should not hesitate to bring Tibet to the centerstage, and plan for the time when its ally, the aging Dalai Lama, is no longer on the scene.


Brahma Chellaney

Expert, strategic affairs

Economic Times, March 21, 2008



Is the celebration of Valentine’s Day against the Indian Culture?

The meeting of the Orient and the Occident will always produce a spark. Valentine’s Day is just not a day restricted to the West, Love is a global language and everyone who is in love ought to celebrate this day for love knows no barriers.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated with great fervour all across the World. Even in India the Day has captured the hearts of all romantic couples. You will see love in all malls and hyper markets with big discounts and freebies being offered to couples. There are contests on Air, TV and the Print to determine whose love is strongest. All major Brands and companies want to cash in on this day. Theatres where the Crowd generally flocks offer discount schemes to attract hapless couples which don’t really have any other place to go.

But the Detractors say that celebrating Valentine’s Day is against the Indian culture. They believe that we are just aping the Western Culture. Now there have been so many instances when we ape the Westerns. Our Constitution in itself is the longest constitution drafted and was made from the UK and the American Constitution. Whenever we want to make movies, we again copy the entire script and the screenplay. All the high technology products coming into our country come from the West. The Internet which has become the most vital medium for survival came from Switzerland. Even the SEZ policy which is being criticized by one and all right now came from China.

So why don’t the detractors of Valentine’s Day stand up against all these things? Isn’t Valentine’s Day celebrated as a Day? Love just does not mean love for your spouse or partner. You could be in love with your parents, your children and even your dog. After being under the British rule for so long, Indians had to acquire some of the traits from the British. It was just not restricted to the language of English even the colonial architecture stands out as a tribute to the British today.

Valentine’s Day began with St. Valentine, a Roman Christian. It is believed that this Saint died on February 14, 269 A.D. Legend also says that the Saint left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, and signed it “From Your Valentine”. Other aspects of the legend say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. But Since 496 A.D, February 14 is being celebrated as Valentine’s Day to honour St. Valentine.

Thus 1502 years hence, Valentine’s Day is still healthy and Strong all across the World. The legend of St. Valentine might not be that popular, but people do celebrate the Day as they would celebrate Holi, Diwali or any other festival. Saint Valentine became the patron of love and this day is remembered in his name and celebrated by everyone who is in love.

If Americans can celebrate Diwali at the White House, if parts of London celebrate Holi in the open where even Foreigners join in the fun, for the main purpose of a festival is to spread happiness and have fun. How can anyone be against the spirit of love? Indians too revere Parvati- the Goddess of Love and Kama- the God of Love. Since childhood, the stories of Laila Majnoo, Soni Mahiwal are imbibed in us. The Love Stories in Bollywood have been the biggest hits ever. Love is a feeling that brings everyone closer irrespective of all social, political or economic barriers. To not be in love or not celebrating it, would be to be devoid of the most powerful emotions that humans have. Even the Animals who cant communicate properly to each other exhibit qualities of love.

There is nothing wrong with the concept of Valentine’s Day, but the only problem which the detractors have is that we are aping the Western culture. Now if the Westerners have created a good precedent for us, then why shouldn’t we follow it. Ask all the detractors to celebrate another day in the name of love, im sure people wouldn’t mind sharing their feelings for each other on that very day.

Couples say that any day which spreads the message of Love cannot have any adverse effects on society. For Love is the perfume that you cannot spray on others without sprinkling a few drops on yourself. Spreading Love is spreading happiness in these days where due to terrorism and violence everyone is on the edge. Who knows what terror comes your way tomorrow? Till then you ought to enjoy every moment in love. And Love is not blind – it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less.