My recent articles published by Rediff.com are available on my blog.
- On strike, at play: The two faces of France – June 15, 2016
As football fans arrive to watch Euro 2016, France’s trade unions have undertaken a series of strikes to provoke a make-or-break situation. Claude Arpi encounters both Gallic beauty and ugliness in the country of his birth.
- The Lonely Man of China – April 22, 2016
What was the need for Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, President of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman, Central Military Commission, to don the new role of Commander in-Chief?
- China’s defence spend: $146 bn. India’s: $40 bn! – March 7, 2016
Confronting a slowdown in growth, China says it will only increase its defence budget by 7.6% this year, against the anticipated rise of between 20% and 30%. ‘It is difficult to explain the reduction in the Chinese defence budget,’ says Claude Arpi. ‘Is there a hidden budget? Possibly!’
- What will India serve Hollande on R-Day? – January 21, 2016
While the Rafale deal seems to be the main order of business during French President Francois Hollande’s visit, other aspects could help sweeten the deal, says Claude Arpi. There was a time when head of States could leisurely travel abroad and spend a couple weeks visiting one or two friendly foreign countries.
- China’s living Buddhas: Nirnava for sale? – December 22, 2015
Communist China has recently developed a great expertise in ‘soul reincarnation’. The reason why the atheist Chinese Communist Party looked into the issue is that ‘living Buddhas, as Beijing calls the reincarnated lamas or Tulkus, usually wield great influence.
- Why did the British suck up to the Chinese? – October 26, 2015
Have you heard of ‘Hollandisation’? It is a new concept in geopolitics.The term is used to express ‘abandoning the pursuit of power, spending less on defence and stepping back from playing a role on the international stage.’ According to The Financial Times, this is what Britain did when it kowtowed to Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to the United Kingdom last week.
- The Rafale deal is modi’s masterstroke’ – June 02, 2015
‘Under the present Defence Procurement Procedure, it would have been a nightmare, and a long, long one at that, to build 108 Rafales in India. Modi realised this and took the wise decision, though it is a definitive setback for his Make in India scheme,’ says Claude Arpi.
- Mr Modi, be wary of the Chinese! – May 12, 2015
‘Chinese leaders rarely receive their foreign guests in cities other than Beijing. Such respect for India!’
‘Does it mean that Modi could replicate “the warmth and unconventional way” by sending Indian troops into Tibet, as Xi did in Chumur (Ladakh) when he arrived in India? Of course, Indians are far too polite to do so,’ says Claude Arpi.
- 40 years in Eternal India – December 19, 2014
Often when I meet a new Indian friend, who is not aware of my background, he exclaims: “So many years in India! but why, why? I can’t understand! My dream is to go to the States or Europe and you are living in ‘this’ country!”
Claude Arpi, who was born a Frenchman, looks back on his 40 years in India.
- Rijiju on Modi sarkar: Discipline can’t be termed as dictatorship – June 18, 2014
Claude Arpi and Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi ‘Our weather conditions are determined by the lofty Himalayan ranges, 90 percent of the fresh water to India comes from the Himalayan region. If the Himalayan region is protected, then India’s future is bright. But if the Himalayan region is in danger, it will be a disaster for our country.’
- Kiren Rijiju: ‘We must strengthen our position on China border’ – June 17, 2014
Claude Arpi and Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi ‘We’re not pursuing an expansionist foreign policy; we’re not going to have an aggressive policy. But that does stop us from developing our own area; by not developing or strengthening our area along the Indo-China border, we are indirectly conceding these areas to the other side (China).’
- When India had a consulate general in Lhasa – April 25, 2014
China has just turned down India’s proposal for an Indian consulate in Lhasa, Tibet. Claude Arpi reveals how India once had a full-fledged consulate general office in Lhasa, which was shut down after the 1962 war.
- India should take a lesson from what China thinks and does – December 2, 2013
Claude Arpi ‘There is still no road on the last 37 km between the McMahon Line and Menchuka in Arunachal Pradesh. Ironically, during my visit, Beijing announced the opening of a 117- km highway linking Metok, located just north of the McMahon Line.’
- Is there any point of the PM’s China visit? – October 21, 2013
If the 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2012 border agreements have been unable to check Chinese aggressiveness, how can a fifth one succeed? asks Claude Arpi.
The Fifth India-China Strategic Dialogue was held in Delhi earlier this year.
- Nets in the sky and traps on the ground – June 25, 2013
China has been keeping tabs on the restive Tibet province through a ‘grid’ system and some 600 ‘convenience police posts’ armed with high-tech equipment that monitor the daily life of the citizens of Lhasa and other Tibetan towns.
- Was the Chinese intrusion really a PLA strike against Xi Jinping? – May 13, 2013
Could some frustrated Chinese generals have decided to teach India a lesson to sink Xi Jinping’s world dream, asks Claude Arpi. What has China gained from its Daulat Beg Oldi excursion?
- Indian Space Mission: The French Connection – February 13, 2013
Indo-French cooperation in the domain of space, which began in the 1960s, is one of the oldest and most stable facets of the relationship, even if not the best-known, says Claude Arpi, as French President Francois Hollande begins his first official visit to India..
- Chairman Mao goes to War – November 15, 2002
Even if the Indian Government jealously keeps secret its own findings of the 1962 war with China, several authors, mostly retired generals and journalists, have covered the military sides of the conflict. Amongst them, Brigadier John Dalvi’s Himalayan Blunder shines as a great classic, written by a soldier who paid for the foolishness and arrogance of the few in power at that time.
- We were told that the Chinese will come in waves – October 17, 2012
Claude Arpi ‘I will say with pride that at no stage did any of my jawans suggest to me that we should withdraw or tried to run away from the fight… not even one of my men deserted.’
- 50 years later, what has the Goi got to hide? – August 8, 2012
After the defeat in the 1962 war with China, the Indian government requested Lieutenant General Henderson-Brooks and Brigadier Prem Bhagat to prepare a report. Fifty years later, it remains one of India’s most secret documents.
- Bye Sarko, Hullo Hollande: What France’s new president means for India – May 7, 2012
A solid political relationship with France could balance India’s foreign relations, which have often tilted towards the US or Russia, feels Claude Arpi. France has a new President.
With nearly 52 per cent of the vote, Francois Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy, the ‘hyper’ outgoing president.
- Controversy over book on him would have amused Sri Aurobindo – April 10, 2012
Despite a few shortcomings, Peter Heehs’s book on Sri Aurobindo, which has landed him in trouble with the Pondicherry ashram as well as earned a notice to quit India, could open the eyes of many more Indians (and Westerners) on the master’s vision and the true destiny of India. It would certainly be a good contribution, says Claude Arpi
- Jampel Yeshi: ‘The day has come to sacrifice your life’ – April 3, 2012
The death of 26-year-old Jampel Yeshi, who immolated himself in New Delhi last week, makes it clear, says Claude Arpi, that the regime in Beijing has utterly failed to extinguish the Tibetan fire for freedom. Jampel Yeshi has become ‘Pawo’ Jampel Yeshi, the hero.
- The Tibetans who fought the 1971 war – January 10, 2012
Dapon Ratuk Ngawang was one of the senior leaders of the Voluntary Freedom Fighter Force in Tibet, a Tibetan guerrilla outfit which fought Chinese rule and played a key role in the Dalai Lama’s escape to India in March 1959.
- Have you heard about this Indian Hero? – December 22, 2011
Major Chewang Rinchen became the youngest recipient of the Maha Vir Chakra. He not only seized the highest post ever captured, but also liberated an area of 800 sq km from Pak occupied Kashmir, the largest area captured in the 1971 war with hardly any supplies and no artillery support.
- Forty Years After: General Cardozo’s incredible story- 1971 A war Hero remembers – December 8, 2011
War Hero Major General Ian Cardozo (retd)was wounded in the battle of Sylhet in Bangladesh in the 1971 war with Pakistan.
He lost his leg in a landmine blast, but conquered his disability and went became the first disabled officer in the Indian Army to command an infantry battalion and then a brigade.
- My dam, my water – November 25, 2011
The problem is that nations or states are always ready to ‘share’ water with others living upstream, but their perception changes when the question comes to ‘sharing’ with lower riparians, says Claude Arpi after attending a 3-day conference in New Delhi on conflict resolution in the faceoff over water
- Interview with Arunachal Pradesh Governor General J J Singh – November 16, 2011
It is not well known that Arunachal Pradesh, which attained statehood in February 1987, is one of the fastest developing states of India. Though the state went through few weeks of instability after the untimely death of former chief minister Dorjee Khandu in a helicopter crash in April, peace has now returned to the state.
- Why Xi Jinping’s visit to Tibet is important – July 26, 2011
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who will takeover as president next year, seems to have realised that the past policy of repression can’t solve the long-pending Tibetan issue, says Claude Arpi. The visit of the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to Tibet to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 17-point agreement between China and Tibet is important for several reasons.
- Despite denials, China has a big problem in Tibet – July 19, 2011
The logical next step for a nation promoting democracy in North Africa or the Middle East would have been to invite the ‘elected’ leader of the Tibetan diaspora along with the Dalai Lama. But no, Washington prefers to receive the Dalai Lama and ignore Dr Lobsang Sangay, the new ‘elected’ Kalon Tripa. It is more convenient to receive a ‘religious’ leader, says Claude Arpi
- The Karmapa Interview – June 17, 2011
Claude Arpi in Dharamsala
On Wednesday the Himachal Pradesh police filed a chargesheet naming the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Thinley Dorje, among 10 people in the case over the discovery of foreign currency worth Rs 7 crore at the Gyuto monastery. In June this year, the Karmapa Lama gave an exclusive and rare interview, to rediff.com.
- We are always ready for dialogue with Chinese officials’ – June 6, 2011
Claude Arpi With His Holiness the Dalai Lama having devolved his political power, Dr Lobsang Sangay, who was elected Kalon Tripa (prime minister) of the Tibetan government in exile on April 26, speaks about changes to the Tibetan charter, the new role of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan administration’s relations with China.
- The Kalon Tripa interview – June 3, 2011
On March 10, the Dalai Lama dropped a bombshell: he had decided to stop all political activities. In one way, it solved the problem of ‘succession’ as all the executive powers were now to be concentrated in the elected prime minister. A few days after the announcement, the ballot box spoke out: Dr Lobsang Sangay, born in India 43 years ago and educated first in India and then at Harvard Law School, was elected as the new Kalon Tripa (prime minster).
- 60 years of Tibetan ‘liberation: From What? From Whom? – May 23, 2011
Claude Arpi As China marks 60 years of Tibet’s ‘liberation’, Claude Arpi lifts the veil off the propaganda surrounding the event
Though sad, certain historical ironies tend to make me smile. Today, May 23, the People’s Republic of China celebrates the 60th anniversary of the ‘Liberation’ of Tibet. According to Beijing, on that day in 1951, Tibet was ‘liberated peacefully’.
- With black money, we are the richest country in the world! – April 27, 2011
The recent revelations about multi-billion scams perpetrated by India’s top politicians and administrators have managed to jolt the nation’s populace out of its usual apathy towards corruption.
Dr Subhash C Kashyap, former secretary-general of the Lok Sabha and a well-known expert on parliamentary affairs, has been involved in fighting corruption for years.
- Will Xi Jinping bring reform to China? – March 15, 2011
Claude Arpi profiles Xi Jinping, the man destined to lead China soon. To attempt guessing the future of a Chinese leader, it is always tempting to look into his past or into his lineage. It is what US diplomats have done and thanks to Wikileaks, a better picture of Xi Jinping, who will take over the mantle of ‘core leader’ of China from President Hu Jintao in 2012, is emerging.
- The Karmapa story: Right intentions, bad accounting – January 31, 2011
The young, extremely bright Karmapa should teach his staff proper accounting ways, advises Claude Arpi. It made headlines for ‘news breaking’ channels when the Himachal Pradesh police seized foreign and Indian currency worth Rs 4-5 crore, stuffed in four large metal boxes, from a room of the Gyuto Monastery, the seat of Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the seventeenth Karmapa.
- In 2010 so much has emerged out of India’s gutters – December 30, 2010
Paradoxically, 2010 has been a Year of Wonder. An optimist like Claude Arpi believes it is the first positive step to clean up the system. To understand the past year, you have to be a great mathematician.
- The innocence that touched the soul of India – December 28, 2010
Keshava, the 7-year-old tabla prodigy stole the show at the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. Claude Arpi on the gifted talent whose innocence touched India’s soul.
- Will the Dalai Lama retire in six months? – December 6, 2010
The Dalai Lama is not only an institution, but also a ‘private’ human being. Tibetans will certainly ask him to continue to guide their destiny for the years to come, believes Claude Arpi. The Dalai Lamas of Tibet traditionally wear two hats, a spiritual and a temporal one.
- France is a very critical partner – December 3, 2010
President Nicolas Sarkozy’s arrival in India comes between the visits of Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev as well Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. In less than two months, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would have met four heads of nuclear States, all permanent members of the UN Security Council.
- The strange destinies of Liu Xiaobo and Wen Jiabao – October 8, 2010
Clude Arpi salutes the Nobel prize committee for giving the peace prize to jailed Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. On May 19, 1989, the director of the general office of the Chinese Communist Party, walked with his boss, CCP General Secretary Zhao Ziyang to meet the youth striking on Tiananmen Square.
- The mountaineer changing lives in a hill village – August 9, 2010
Claude Arpi and Abha Tewari
Munsyari in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand is the last small town before the Nepal-Tibet border. It is here that Malika Virdi, a well-known mountaineer, social worker and sarpanch till January 2010, has chosen to live amongst the local folk.
- 10 things where Paul Octopus can make a difference – July 28, 2010
From match-making for young Indians to choosing the Indian cricket team to rescuing nations from economic ruin, many commentators feel Paul could be very useful. Will the octopus please help?Claude Arpi looks at ten things where Paul The Octopus can make a difference:
- Exclusive an Interview with the Dalai Lama – July 5, 2010
His Holiness The Dalai Lama turns 75 on July 6. Compelled to flee Tibet and seek refuge in India in 1959, he has spent two-thirds of his life in exile. Claude Arpi reports on an enlightening interaction he had with His Holiness along with with a group of Indian and foreign scholars in Dharamsala recently.
- China dams on the Brahmaputra – May 25, 2010
For many months the fact that China was building a dam in Zangmu was known and photographs were circulating on the Internet. Why did India take up the matter with China so warily? Claude Arpi on the dangers of China’s dams on the Brahmaputra in Tibet.
- Why the Dalai Lama Matters – April 21, 2010
Professor Robert Thurman is a well-known figure in the United States. Not only because a few years ago, he was nominated as one of the 25 most influential Americans by Time magazine, but also for being a senior scholar at Columbia University, one of the Dalai Lama’s oldest supporters and Hollywood beauty Uma Thurman’s father.
- How Chinese hacked Google, and why India should worry – March 2, 2010
The recent announcement by the United States giant search engine Google that it might withdraw from China made the headlines in world media. The Google decision highlighted the aggressiveness of the Chinese hackers who had been penetrating cyber fortresses like the Pentagon or the White House (as well as the PMO or the MEA in India!).
- Obama – Dalai Lama meeting will not change anything for Tibet – February 19, 2010
When a friend asked me what I thought of the long-awaited meeting between the Dalai Lama and United States President Barack Obama, I immediately replied, “It is good for Obama’s karma.“And when the friend asked, “What about the Tibetans,” I just sighed.
- Ten more things I hate in India – February 04, 2010
A few years ago, when I wrote an article about the 10 things I hate about India, I was criticised by many, while others agreed. As I grow older, many more things irritate me now. I have listed 10 of them below. However, having completed 35 years in this country, I realise how much I love this incredible India, the following irritants notwithstanding:
- Interview Irina Bokova- Culture has to accompany development: UNESCO chief – January 27, 2010
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation was founded at the end of World War II. UNESCO seeks to function as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter to forge universal agreements on emerging ethical issues. On October 15, 2009, Irina Bokova of Bulgaria was elected as the tenth director-general of UNESCO.
- Why India should not get too close to China – January 20, 2010
There is no need for India to club its future with that of the Middle Kingdom, notes Claude Arpi.
Indians are good people, but this can sometimes become a problem, especially in the fields of defence and foreign policy. Why so?
- Why the Chinese are so upset about Tawang – October 21, 2009
Why has China suddenly ratcheted up tension with India over Arunachal Pradesh? Claude Arpi, who has written extensively on Tibet, offers an insight.Repeated Chinese intrusions into Indian territory, veiled threats to ‘split’ India, and a constantly aggressive stance on Arunachal Pradesh have recently got a great deal of coverage in the Indian media.
- China fully awake today, should we tremble – Does china have what it takes to be super power? – October 6, 2009
Sixty years after Mao Zedong proclaimed the birth of the People’s Republic of China from Tiananmen Square, China has become a power to reckon with. No doubt about it.
Napoleon Bonaparte, the French emperor, is supposed to have pronounced the famous sentence: ‘When China awakes, the world will tremble.’
- China: A full circle 60 years later – The Chinese people have stood up – October 1, 2009
As Chinese celebrate the People’s Republic of China’s 60th anniversary, Claude Arpi explores the rise of the dragon from the days of the Cultural Revolution to its projection of itself as a soft superpower in the modern world. Dr Li Zhisui, Mao Zedong’s private physician, was a privileged man.
- The importance of the Dalai Lama’s Taiwan visit – August 31, 2009
The Dalai Lama has arrived in Taiwan for a six-day visit, angering China. Claude Arpi looks at the significance of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s attempt to reach out to ordinary Chinese.
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Tibetans travelled directly from the mountains of Ladakh,
- A fable of blood and bribes – July 1, 2009
No French scriptwriter could have dreamed of such a great script for the Cannes festival. Even Bollywood could probably not have thought of it.
Flashback: May 9, 2002: It is early morning for the guests of the five-star Oberoi Hotel in Karachi. But some white men are not here for tourism, they have come on a mission.
- Interview Arun Shourie – The national election has become a local election’ – April 27, 2009
Arun Shourie, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, sits today in the Rajya Sabha. He is one of India’s most distinguished journalists, the author of some 24 books. In his last work Are We Deceiving Ourselves Again?, he questions with his usual incisiveness Jawaharlal Nehru’s China policy.
- 30 years on, will China keep its promises? – January 7, 2009
Hardly two years after the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (and Mao Zedong’s death), a diminutive man climbed the rostrum for the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. He was to change the face of China.
- Is this the End of the Middle Way Approach – November 12, 2008
For the first time since the Tibetans took refuge in India in 1959, the Dalai Lama has called a special meeting to decide the future course of action over the Tibetans’ relation with China.
- India and France: From bonhomie to mon ami – October 3, 2008
France and India were the first nations to sign an agreement for cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy after a waiver was given by the Nuclear Security Group in Vienna. On the occasion of the visit of Dr Manmohan Singh to France on September 30, the document was inked by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Anil Kakodkar, chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission.
- Interview with Ranjan Mathai (II) – September 30, 2008
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in France for a dialogue with leaders of the European Union and a summit with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In the first part of the interview with senior rediff.com contributor Claude Arpi, India’s Ambassador to France Ranjan Mathai discussed Indo-French nuclear cooperation.
- ’India values its nuclear partnership with France, Russia’ – September 29, 2008
After meeting President George W Bush in Washington, DC, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flew to Marseille, France, for the yearly European Union-India Summit. Dr Singh will then arrive in Paris where he is expected to sign an agreement in the field of civil nuclear cooperation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Senior rediff.com Contributor Claude Arpi spoke to Ranjan Mathai, India’s ambassador to France, to discuss not only the nuclear deal which will soon be operational and will have no other conditionality than the ones imposed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group waiver in Vienna [Images], but also all other aspects of the Indo-French relations, ten years after the signature of a privileged strategic partnership with France in January 1998.
- We do not belong to past dawns, but to the noons of the future – August 14, 2008
India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples.
And that which must seek now to awake is not an Anglicised Oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident’s success and failure, but still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma.
We do not belong to the past dawns but to the noons of the future.
- Why has Tibet been deleted from politicians’ memory? – July 3, 2008
When the Dalai Lama left Tibet for exile in March 1959, the bridges with China were cut. Often one does not realise that soon it will be 30 years since the contacts between the Dalai Lama and the People’s Republic of China’s leadership resumed.
As the Dalai Lama’s envoys leave for Beijing, it is perhaps time to look at what has been achieved and what has failed during these three decades. Such an analysis is, of course, subjective, but hopefully could generate a healthy debate at a time when the Tibetan issue has again come center stage, a few weeks before the Olympic Games in Beijing.
- The Wound of History – June 4, 2008
June 4, 1989 will forever remain a wound in the history of modern China. On that fateful night, hundreds, if not thousands were killed. Nineteen years later, the Chinese government maintains that no one died on the Square itself (only on the adjacent avenues) and it has still not released the list of those killed. A few days after the event, Yuan Mu, the then spokesman of the State Council, declared that only 23 students had died, along with some ‘ruffians.’
A year later, Beijing tried to make their version more plausible. Time magazine quoted the official report of the upheaval: ‘Chen Xitong, Beijing’s hardline mayor, claimed that 200 civilians were killed and more than 3,000 were wounded.’ But Chen insisted that casualties were mainly soldiers and policemen…
- Letter to Comrade Wen Jiabao – May 6, 2008
The Dalai Lama is a good man, a sincere leader. Do you think that you will be able to find a better interlocutor to bring about a radical change in the relations between Hans and Tibetans?
In fact, I would go one step further: The Dalai Lama is today the only leader who can unite China. If you are able to find a satisfactory solution with him, he is the only person who can convince the Tibetans to work for a harmonious society. This in turn, will be an example for all nationalities.
I do hope, Mr Premier that you will understand my presumptuousness in writing to you. I feel that there is a golden opportunity for China to satisfactorily settle this long-pending issue.
Please meet with the Dalai Lama, it will bring more good to China’s image than 1000 Olympic Games.
- 10 positive things about the recent events in Tibet – April 7, 2008
An event which may look negative at first sight can also trigger positive collaterals. We have listed 10 encouraging aspects of the recent unrest in Tibet and the subsequent Chinese muscled clampdown…
- ’India is soft on Chinese intrusions’ – March 27, 2008
In 1995, after years of protests, the people of Ladakh were finally granted a special status with the formation of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. This resulted in some degree of autonomy.
From 1995 to 2004, Thupstan Chhewang, 60, was chairman of the council, trying to lead the erstwhile Buddhist kingdom into modernity, without losing its traditional roots. Since 2004, Chhewang represents Ladakh in the Lok Sabha as an independent member.
Claude Arpi met him to find out the progress of education and development in the Himalayan region, and also about the Chinese incursions in the border areas, the state of the environment and the effects of global warming in Ladakh and the relations between the Muslim and Buddhist populations of this most strategic part of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Change will come from within China – March 26, 2008
Of course, one can think of different scenarios such as the “fall of the Berlin wall” or the “collapse of the former Soviet Union”. I still remember the Dalai Lama ‘prophesying’ at the end of the eighties (before the Tiananmen events), that China may go through a similar fate as the Soviet Union within five years. When several years later, I asked him about his ‘prophesy’, he just laughed and said that it was a ‘big mistake’. He added that it was not a ‘spiritual’ prophesy, but just logical thinking. It is true that things could have gone differently had the Elders not sent tanks to crush thousand of students on the Square…
- In Tibet, China dishonours Olympic spirit – March 17, 2008
What had to happen happened! As in 1959, 1987 or again in 1989, riots have erupted in Lhasa and other provinces of Tibet. The repression (and it is only a beginning) is said to be ferocious. But compared to the previous uprisings, this time the background is different: China is hosting the Summer Olympics, an event dedicated to world peace.
- ‘It is time to wake up to Chinese incursions’ – March 4, 2008
Kiren Rijiju, the 36-year-old firebrand Member of Parliament representing Arunachal Pradesh (West), does not share the government’s and Indian Army’s perceptions about Chinese incursions in his border state.
While Defence Minister A K Antony and army chief General Deepak Kapoor have underplayed the intrusions on several occasions, Rijiju has tried to convey in Parliament the seriousness of the situation in the strategic state. Unfortunately till now his voice has been lost in the corridors of power.
Rijiju has pointed out for long that the Indian Army is not prepared for a conflict with China and today this is an accepted fact. The young MP still regrets that only cosmetic actions are being taken to correct this imbalance.
In this wide-ranging interview with Claude Arpi, the MP highlights not only the patriotism of the people of Arunachal, but also conveys in the strongest terms that it is time for India to wake up, to be self-confident and to stand by her interests and her borders.
- Sarkozy visit: Style but no substance – Janaury 30, 2008
In a way, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to India was a mini media coup de boule. Even the most austere newspapers, without a famous (or infamous) page 3, covered the French president’s visit, speculating on a daily basis if the fiancee would be in the presidential plane (or later join him) for a darshan of the Taj Mahal…
- France’s Hyper President comes calling – Janauary 25, 2008
Diplomatically, January is a busy month. The Indian prime minister went to China, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was in India this week while French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be the guest of honour for Republic Day. The French media has coined a term for the new French head of State: the ’Hyper President’. This is probably due to his hyperactive life as President and man; he was elected in May 2007 after he promised to take a new look at the presidency and re-energise old France, which is what he has strenuously been trying to do. Will he be able to perform the same feat for Indo-French relations is a question on many observers’ mind?
- Good timing for PM’s visit to China – Janaury 10, 2008
True, there is enough good news not to be bothered by the border issue. Take business for example; it has never been so brisk between the two Asian giants. Trade has been expanding at an incredible pace; it has reached a staggering 34.2 billion dollars (about Rs 136,800 crore) from January to November 2007, up 54 percent from the previous year…
- Dear Father Christmas – December 24, 2007
At the beginning of the 20th century, a sage had dreamt of ‘a step in evolution which would raise man to a higher and larger consciousness and begin the solution of the problems which have perplexed and vexed him since he first began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.’
India was to lead in the world in this direction. Today, when the planet is in danger, why should her leaders use petty arguments instead of showing the way? Further, don’t you agree that millions of jobs can be created in the new fields of environment? In any case, will not the planet get ultimately richer if the environment is taken care of? I don’t have to tell you, but you will be one of the first to suffer if there is no more snow on earth.
- The battle over the new Dalai Lama – December 14, 2007
Today, even if the Dalai Lama holds a referendum to know if the Tibetan people want the present system to continue, he will still have to decide upon the best way to ‘transmit’ his knowledge and experience to ‘carry out the tasks of the previous life.’ One thing is sure, it is not for you or me or the Karats or Hu Jintaos to decide; it is too profound a tradition to be left in the hands of the profane.
- Busharaff of Pakistan – November 15, 2007
There is never a dull moment when one follows the soap serial of Pakistan politics. Though always predictable, the main character is full of seemingly new tricks. His antics keep the media busy by providing them their daily prescribed dose of ‘breaking news.’…
- A gold medal for the Tibetan cause? – October 17, 2007
The recent disturbances in Lithang in Eastern Tibet (Sichuan province) have been labelled as a ‘major political incident’. Oh Irony, the few Tibetan cadres of the Lithang County of Kandze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture have been replaced by Chinese. Autonomy has a different meaning for Beijing!
The award of the gold medal to the Dalai Lama is good ‘for the conscience of the US,’ but it does not help the Tibetans in their aspiration for freedom.
- Why China will not allow democracy in Myanmar – October 15, 2007
In a recent speech, Hu asserted: ‘Morality is a key factor to the country’s development, social harmony and the people’s happiness.’ Well, it depends on what one calls ‘morality’. The frail Aung San Suu Kyi may not have the same definition…
- Songs of Sadness – September 27, 2007
Apparently Beijing would have conveyed to Yangon that China hopes the junta will ‘properly handle issues’. But as a Western diplomat in Beijing told Associated Press, ‘China has been working to convey the concerns of the international community to the Burmese government, but it could definitely do more to apply pressure.’ It would be in China’s interest. After all, Beijing is supposed to be the trustee of the Olympic Truce whose objective is to ‘contribute to searching for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world.’ But has the Chinese leadership heard of this essential element of the Olympics Games?
- Has the PM thought of his grandchildren? – September 19, 2007
The two-pronged policy — increased renewable energy and reduction of consumption through energy-efficient industry, habitat or life style — has been agreed upon. It was not an easy decision, but the future of the planet is at stake. India, the 123 Agreement will probably ultimately go through, but nuclear energy can certainly not be called the ‘energy of the future.’Has the prime minister weighed all the expensive collaterals for his grandchildren?
- India’s Kaoboys: In the shadow of history – August 6, 2007
In the sixties, one heard about the Kaulboys, a few generals gravitating around Lieutenant General B M Kaul who took over as chief of the general staff at army headquarters with Jawaharlal Nehru’s blessings. Today we are introduced to the Kaoboys. While the Kaulboys were flamboyant, rash and braggart, the Kaoboys were discreet, efficient, often grey but professional to the tips of their fingers.
- Needed: Poorna Swaraj for Tibet – June 29, 2007
If you have visited Dharamsala or any other place where Tibetan refugees live, you would have had the opportunity to hear modern Tibetan songs. The uncommon blend of traditional Tibetan tunes with a contemporary beat is particularly enjoyable. Although one is unable to grasp the lyrics, one can notice a word coming up again and again in all songs — rangzen. It means ‘independence’ in Tibetan. Every young Tibetan longs for rangzen, even though nearly 20 years ago, the Dalai Lama had made his famous Strasbourg Proposal.
- A warrior’s tale: How it all began – June 26, 2007
To India’s surprise, in 1984 Pakistan began sponsoring mountaineering expeditions in the Siachen area and showing the glacier as its territory. The situation worsened in early 1987 when the Pakistanis established a post on a feature overlooking Indian defences located near the Bilafond Pass on the Saltoro ridge.
The post was so important for Islamabad that it was named the ‘Quaid’ Post, after its first Quaid-e-Azam, Jinnah. When the Pakistanis started sniping at Indian helicopters, some Indian posts maintained by air suddenly became untenable. The Indian Army then planned a daring, secret, operation to evict the Pakistanis from the post.
At a time when the de-militarisation of the Siachen glacier is in the news, Claude Arpi spoke to retired Captain Bana Singh, one of only three living recipients of the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest award for gallantry, who captured the ‘Quaid’ Post, 20 years ago this day, June 26, 1987.
- The Split between the Two Frances – May 16, 2007
On May 16, a new French President will occupy the Elysee Palace. Ten days earlier, forty million French voters, glued to their television sets, discovered behind a slowly fading tricolour national flag, the face of Nicolas Sarkozy who appeared standing in front of a photo of his new residence. He had been elected with 53 per cent of the votes. Segolene Royal was far behind with only 47 per cent…
- Lessons for SAARC from the European Union – April 4, 2007
A friend working for the European Commission recently showed me an amusing picture taken during a meeting in Brussels. In the early hours of the morning after an intense night of parleys, two of the negotiators were sleeping on the carpet, while their colleagues were dozing on a nearby table. These late night marathon discussions are quite well known amongst European bureaucrats. This made me dream: Could we see one day a similar picture with joint secretaries of South Asian nations totally exhausted after attempting to sort out the latest hurdles towards a closer integration of the SAARC?
- They will stab you in the back too – January 24, 2007
Interview with Lieutenant General Srinivas Kumar Sinha (retired), PVSM, is the governor of Jammu and Kashmir (Part II).
- 1971 War: How the US tried to corner India – December 26, 2006
India won a glorious victory against Pakistan in the 1971 war. It was the first decisive victory in a major war in centuries. And it was won singlehandedly, in the face of opposition and threats from a majority of the UN member-States, including a superpower. Every Indian patriot felt proud of this glittering chapter in the nation’s history…
- China: What’s ripe for settlement – November 20, 2006
Today, we are told that India and China are finally true friends, and special commemorations are being held to remind the public of this new sentiment towards the Middle Kingdom. South Block’s new motto is ‘let us engage Beijing, let us do business’.Nobody can deny that this is good. But it might be interesting to look at what things are ‘not ripe for settlement’, to use Zhou Enlai’s words at the time of the Panchsheel Agreement in April 1954.
- China: Will India repeat the mistakes of 1962? – November 17, 2006
Fifty years ago Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai paid three state visits to India in less than two�months. It was the zenith of the brotherhood relationship. Premier Zhou was in India from November 28 to December 10, 1956, December 30 to January 3 and again from January 24 to 26, 1957.
This should undoubtedly be entered in the Guinness Book of Records, though Zhou’s purpose was certainly not to establish a record. The Chinese government was simply nervous about the Dalai Lama’s visiting India.
- The soldier who won India’s first Param Vir Chakra – November 3, 2006
The ’secular’ protagonists claim that his execution will make a martyr of Afzal. I will not enter into these fallacious arguments, but the time has perhaps come to remember a true martyr: Major Somnath Sharma who on November 3, 1947 saved Srinagar airport (and Kashmir) at the supreme cost of his life.
- China will be ready. Will India be? – October 6, 2006
In the meantime, Beijing’s propaganda, including their concept of the ‘peaceful rise of China’, will continue to dominate the world media and lull India into a false sense of security. In 2008, the Middle Kingdom will surely demonstrate its might during the Games. It will coincide with the traditional Olympics truce. But what will happen during the following years in case events do not follow Beijing’s desired pattern?
One answer: China will be ready. Will India be?
- The Cola Rage – August 7, 2006
I have a problem with the media blitz around colas and their pesticide content. To me, it seems too ‘politically correct’. It is true that the easiest thing to do in India is to bash the US, its president, its policies or its (multi)national companies…
- The legend of Nathu La – July 6, 2006
Every pass has a legend, but perhaps more than any other the Nathu La (‘la’ means pass in Tibetan) has a singular history.
- 10 things I hate about India – June 22, 2006
In India, there are some aspects that I am still not able to swallow, even after thirty years. I have listed ten of them…. Apart from this, India is an incredible place and I have never regretted, even for one day, to have settled here…
- China’s scary asymmetry – April 19, 2006
The arrival of the train will open new vistas for the PLA. It will allow the Chinese generals to open a new ballistic missiles theater in a very short time and will facilitate a rapid redeployment in case of need. Firepower could be directed to India in a much more effective manner using the railway to transfer missiles to launching silos hidden in the Himalayan region…
- India and the small insect – March 28, 2006
A few years ago, while looking for a suitable subtitle for a book on Tibet’s relations with India and China, a remark made by the 13th Dalai Lama in 1910 came to me. It was the best description of Tibet’s vicissitudes. ’When big insects eat small insects’ accurately describes what happened to Tibet in 1950…
- Indo-US ties: The China factor – February 28, 2006
In May last year, the Chinese press was furious.Quoting The Financial Times, the Xinhua news agency reported that a Pentagon report on China’s military advised Washington planners to ‘take more seriously the possibility that China might emerge as a strategic rival to the US…
- How to Manage Anger – January 19, 2006
In the concluding segment of this series, Claude lists advice he was given on anger management by the fine doctors at the Institute of Cardio-Vascular Diseases in Chennai…
- A to Z of stress management – January 12, 2006
Last week, columnist Claude Arpi recounted the lessons a heart attack taught him. In this follow-up piece, he lists an action plan to tackle stress…
- What my heart attack taught me – January 04, 2006
I usually do not write for this section, but circumstances sometimes force upon you a new type of experience. In my case, it was unexpected: on October 14, a Friday, I had a heart attack…
- 1965 war: The Chinese bluff – September 30, 2005
The Pakistan War: forty years after. While continuing to squeeze India on Kashmir, the Western Powers were getting uncomfortable with the strange situation. They were supplying armaments to Pakistan, which in turn was flirting with Communist China…
- My religion is kindness – July 06, 2005
For years, India had two Nobel Peace Laureates of foreign origin living on her soil. But while one was given the highest honours by the Indian government (including the Bharat Ratna) the other has remained just a refugee. I have never really comprehended this discrepancy between Mother Teresa and The Dalai Lama…
- Myanmar’s Iron Lady – June 20, 2005
The fearless daughter of General Aung San, the hero of Burma’s freedom struggle, turned on 60 June 19, thereby completing a full cycle according to the Buddhists who follow the 5 elements and 12 animals calendar…
- Was Bandung in vain? – April 22, 2005
Few references have been made in the Indian press about the Bandung Conference which opened on April 18, 1955. However, this event is considered to be the beginning of the non-aligned movement and the first step of Communist China into world affairs. In many ways it marked a new era, bygone now…
- The history of a bus journey – April 08, 2005
Bhutto agreed that the line would be gradually endowed with the ’characteristics of an international border.’ After the resumption of the traffic between India and Pakistan across the International Border had gained momentum, movement of traffic would be allowed at specified points across the Line of Control…
- Can the Chinese ogre be peaceful – April 6, 2005
Mao had ‘Let the Hundred Flowers Bloom, Let the Hundred Thoughts Flourish,’ Deng Xiaoping ‘The Four Modernizations,’ Jiang Zemin ‘The Three Represents.’ Hu Jintao and his Fourth Generation colleagues coined a new one: ‘The Peaceful Rise of China’…
- Chinese ogre has giant appetite – April 5, 2005
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao begins what he says is his ’most important trip this year’ to India. To mark the occasion rediff.com presents a series on the India-China relationship, which will help readers understand China, its complexities and the directions forward in India’s relation with the Middle Kindgom…
- Nepal: The Chinese squeeze – February 07, 2005
The royal coup renders a complex situation even thornier. The question touched upon here will certainly be one of the most urgent to be dealt with by the king. While a few children were kidnapped in Bihar, on the other side of the India-Nepal border, the Maoists struck harder than their Bihari comrades…
- The day the Chinese glasnost died – January 17, 2005
Zhao Ziyang die on January 17. On the same day in 1976, Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, passed away.When Zhou died, modern China had gone through its 10 most tormented years. During previous months, Mao had refused to provide treatment for his premier who had cancer; the Emperor wanted Zhou to die before him.
- The cherry the French left behind – October 29, 2004
History is sometime complex. In France itself, there were different stances: the ministry of the overseas’ territories (which still hoped to be able to ’emancipate’ its ’overseas’ countrymen) often had an opposite attitude to the one of the ministry of foreign affairs, which knew that the colonial era had come to an end…
- Is China encircling India? – October 04, 2004
Deng Xiaoping used to say that it ‘does not matter if a cat is white and black as long it catches mice.’ So whether Jiang Xemin or Hu Jintao is in full control of the Communist Party’s machinery, Beijing’s attitude towards Delhi will remain the same (even if today the cat calls itself a ‘peaceful cat’)…
- The mysterious Tibetan Lake – August 11, 2004
Surprisingly, it seems last month’s friends cannot even help each other in time of distress. The facts: an artificial lake at Pareechu in Tibet was created, according to the Chinese authorities, by seasonal landslides. Experts agree that if it bursts, there would be devastating effects in Himachal Pradesh…
- The Blunder of the Pandit – June 16, 2004
Forty years ago, India’s first prime minister passed into the ages. Today, Claude Arpi analyses how Nehru’s obsession with the politics of his ancestral state eventually bequeathed a festering problem for the whole of India…
- Can the India-China border issue ever be solved? – April 30, 2004
Fifty years ago, during the Panchsheel negotiations, India shied away from bringing the questions of the borders to the negotiating table with Beijing. Today, India is still unable to sort out her frontier tangle with China. The question remains: is there a creative but feasible solution to solve the border issue?
- Panchsheel, 50 years after – April 29, 2004
Today, India and China ’celebrate’ the 50th anniversary of the ‘Panchsheel Agreement’. Is there something to celebrate? While this can certainly be questioned, nobody can dispute that the events of 1954 marked an epoch for India and Tibet…
- Diverting the Brahmaputra: a declaration of war? – October 23, 2003
Traditionally in China people respect their emperor when he undertakes grandiose projects that no human mind can conceive of. Today, as Hu Jintao and the Fourth Generation’s takes over China, an even more colossal project is lying on the design table: South-North water diversion…
- Beijing’s Arunachal card – July 28, 2003
If one looks at the issues India has been facing since Independence, one sees a long tale of failed negotiations even when India had a stronger moral (and often military) position than the opposite camp. The main reason behind all these failures seems to be this genetic craving for friendship…
- Aksai Chin for Arunachal? – July 25, 2003
It appears that once again, despite the prime minister’s will the babudom machinery reigns supreme on Indian foreign affairs and nobody in India has (and will ever have?) the power to change it. This lead us to the core issue: the border row between India and China…
- Words to the wise – May 14, 2003
It always surprises me that Pakistan-sponsored terrorism is termed as ’cross-border terrorism’. From the time the Instrument of Accession was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, India’s position has been very clear: the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir has legally and unconditionally acceeded to India…
- Reassessing the Chinese threat – April 21, 2003
A 130-page report prepared for Donald Rumsfeld was recently partially leaked by Jane’s Defense Review. When it reached Beijing, it must have left Hu Jintao and his colleagues pensive. According to US analysts, the US and India should be forging a long-term defence and security alliance aimed at containing China…
- China, a colossus with clay feet – March 18, 2003
Zhu Rongji, who retires as China’s premier is usually a very frank man. A few years ago he admitted the Chinese system was flawed by two plagues: incorrect figures sent by regional leaders about the development in their respective regions and the rampant corruption gangreening the Communist Party and the nation…
- The Third Axis – January 24, 2003
The 1960s saw de Gaulle promoting his fiercely independent foreign policy in Europe while in Asia, India participated in the Non-Alignment Movement. At a time when the world was bipolar, both nations, in their own manner, strove to keep their independent vision of a multi-polar world…
- The Phantoms of Chittagong – January 08, 2003
Is it not time for India to recognize the Dalai Lama’s genuine contribution to world peace, universal responsibility and the defense of the highest Indian spiritual values and confer on him the Bharat Ratna?
- The Looming Crises in China and Tibet – December 20, 2002
In Tibet, the situation is much worse and one can imagine the difficulties that MSF and other NGOs face in seeking to operate among a population termed ‘a marginalized minority’…
- From Top of the Party to Top of the World – December 10, 2002
Media reported that very little was known about China’s new boss. However, one part of his life is quite well documented: the period before he ascended to the standing committee of the Politburo in 1992. At that time, the core leader of the Forth Generation was secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region in Lhasa.
- Chairman Mao goes to War – November 15, 2002
Even if the Indian Government jealously keeps secret its own findings of the 1962 war with China, several authors, mostly retired generals and journalists, have covered the military sides of the conflict. Another angle is the internal struggles within China between 1959 and 1962 and the role of Mao…
- A POW in Tibet – November 6, 2002
We were faced with shortages of every kind. It was during these early days in NEFA that one of the commanding officers of an infantry battalion sent an official reply written on a chapati. When asked for an explanation, he gave a classic reply: “Regret unorthodox stationery but atta is the only commodity available.”
- The Confiscation of History – October 23, 2002
If someone asked me what is the greatest scam since Independence, I would have some difficulty in answering. But in the end, the one that I find the most stupid, and perhaps the most harmful to India’s interests in the long run, is the confiscation of history by government babus under the Public Records Act.
- Envoy in Tibet – September 24, 2002
A few days ago, various news agencies flashed the news that a Tibetan team led by Lodi Gyari, the Dalai Lama’s special envoy to Washington, had left for Beijing to negotiate with the Chinese government…
- American Dichotomy – September 11, 2002
The United States of America, the lone world super-cop since the end of the Cold War, also often demonstrates a split persona. Dichotomy, a division into two parts sharply distinguished or opposed is a perfect description of the difference between what the US preaches and does.
- Fear over Tibet! – August 22, 2002
China is full of dichotomies. One would think that as a Marxist country, China would propagate atheism and not have much interest in religious and spiritual affairs. Wrong! On July 31, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji officially received the child recognized by the Communist Party as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama…
- While the Wise Men of India talk and sleep – July 29, 2002
India is lucky. India has finally found in her new President, A P J Abdul Kalam, an achiever who can also dream. This has been terribly lacking since Independence…
- The Land of the Passes – July 5, 2002
The scholars do not agree on the etymology of the word Ladakh. For some, it is the ‘Land of the Passes’ (la); for others, it is the ‘Land of the Lamas.’ Whatever the correct interpretation, it is, for both reasons, certainly one of the most peaceful places on earth…
- Mr Straw, do you know who created the Kashmir mess? – May 28, 2002
Are we to allow Pakistan to continue to train new armies for invasion and to allow its territory to be used as a base for these attacks? The obvious course of action is to strike at these concentrations and lines of communications in Pakistan territory. Thus spoke Nehru…
- What the hell were they doing in this galley? – May 16, 2002
A suicide bomber drove his car into a bus leaving the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi. Fourteen persons, including 11 French engineers working in the naval base lost their lives. This heinous crime has deeply shocked the French public as it is the first time French citizens have been directly targeted after September 11…
- Homelands in Pakistan – April 26, 2002
A new topic has recently appeared on PTV: the regrettable riots in Gujarat. Since Gujarat saw an outburst of violence, PTV News seems full of delectation. The tone is, ’did we not tell you that they would do this?’ It is so excessive that it makes one feel Pakistan may not be fully innocent of the incident…
- True Friendship begins by getting to the bottom of yesterday’s problems – March 30, 2002
While official’ Indian history tells us that the building of the Aksai Chin road was discovered in 1958 when an Indian patrol was arrested by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for trespassing on Indian territory, the matter only became public in 1959 when it was raised in the Lok Sabha…
- Indo-China Relations: the Great Leap Forward – January 11, 2002
The visit of Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji to India cannot be dissociated from the ‘long Indo-China friendship’. So much so that Zhu’s visit had to be postponed in November when China and Pakistan were not very sure of the turn of events in Afghanistan…
- How many Ladens? – October 22, 2001
An interview of Jamaat chief, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, once the adviser to General Zia-ul-Haq, was published in February 1999. The qazi makes it clear that once in power, the Jamaat will abolish the voting rights of women and minorities who will be forced to become Muslims “either by monetary or psychological factors”…
- From Mao to bin Laden – September 24, 2001
Mao once told his physician: ‘The atom bomb is nothing to be afraid of, China has many people. The death of ten or twenty million people is nothing to be afraid of.’ Today, a new Mao has emerged on the world scene: Osama bin Laden…
- A Solution for Siachen – July 12, 2001
Is there a solution to the war on the glacier?
- Buddha fell pray – March 12, 2001
The destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan: The fact that Buddhist life was concentrated in these great centres of learning made it an easy prey for the hordes coming in from Afghanistan and Central Asia…
- The Graded Path to Rumtek – February 7, 2001
13 months ago, the 15-year old Karmapa in a Bollywood-type escape reached Dharamsala after crossing the highest Himalayan passes in the midst of winter. One remembers the hesitations of the Indian government to grant him refugee status…
- India must take advantage of Beijing sweet amiability – January 9, 2001
Chinese Premier Li Peng’s visit comes at a juncture when China seems to open up to its neighbours and choose the road of peace. At the same time, many signs show the instability of the regime in Beijing caught between the hardliners led by Li and the reformers whose role was subdued after the Tiananmen massacre…