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Partition, Aurobindo, and the truth – August 28, 2009
For some, history has only to fit around tradition or ideology. Unfortunately for these new proponents of ‘historical’ orthodoxy, life or individuals are not just black or white. Some actors may have larger dark spots, others more white ones, but all have shades of grey.
It is not my purpose here to go into the rights or wrongs of Jaswant Singh’s book on Mohammed Ali Jinnah (which I have not yet read), but the Enlightened One’s words, “we have no means to know the entire truth” are probably true for the history of the Partition.

China’s change is for good: Tibetan PM – June 25, 2009
Three years ago, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche was elected with more than 90% of the votes as the Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-exile in Dharamsala.
Though his second term will only be completed in August 2011, Prof. Rinpoche recently indicated that he was ready to leave his place to the younger generation. This was refused by the Dalai Lama who thought “it would send a wrong signal to the world community”.
Claude Arpi met the Prime Minister in Dharamsala and discussed some interesting developments in China: the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre held under tight surveillance in China and the recent publication of the biography of former Premier, Zhao Zyiang who frankly tells his side of the student protests’ story. Another surprising publication is the report of a group of independent Chinese lawyers who squarely put the blame for the 2008 unrest in Tibetan areas on the Chinese satraps in Tibet.
With the changing situation in China, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche sees a lot of hope for the future.

Interview with Capt. Bharat Verma – April 21, 2009
Capt. Bharat Verma is the editor of Indian Defence Review.  A quarterly journal read by leading policy makers at senior bureaucratic, political and military levels, the IDR is renowned as the `most-quoted Indian defence publication`.
Capt Verma is also the founder and current editor of Lancer Publishers, a publishing house dedicated to defence and security matters.
In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview to Claude Arpi, the former Army officer recalls the travails of setting up the IDR against stiff government opposition, and explains how India`s enemies use the country`s media and other democratic tools to try and destabilise it.
However, he argues, the India of 2012 will not be as pacifist? as it is today. It will be far more assertive and equipped with sufficient power to take on such adversaries in our vicinity.?

Fault Lines should be a compulsory read for politicians – April 21, 2009
Fault Lines is the title of the latest book by Capt. Bharat Verma, the outspoken editor of the Indian Defence Review, the country’s most prestigious defence publication.
The book, a collection of the Review’s editorial pieces, demonstrates the depth and consistency of his vision over the last decade.
At a time when very few in the country think of India as a unified whole, and vote banks are the only preoccupation of politicians, Capt. Verma speaks to Claude Arpi about the fault lines, not only in the defence sector but also in the nation’s psyche.

A refugee`s best friend, Interview Thubten Samphel – March 13, 2009
Fifty years ago on March 10, 1959, the entire population of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, revolted against the Chinese troops who had invaded the Land of Snows in 1950.
The uprising failed, and the Tibetan temporal and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, had no choice but to flee his country and take refuge in India. He was followed by 85,000 of his countrymen.
Thubten Samphel, now the Secretary of the Department of Information of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, was one of them. Samphel, who fled his country as a child, was educated in one of the best colleges in India, and now works as the spokesperson of the Dalai Lama’s Administration. He has recently penned down his experiences as a refugee in a book, Falling through The Roof, published by Rupa & Co.

The 1959 Tibetan Uprising: Rebels with a Cause – March 6, 2009
Fifty years is long in the life of a man. It is long also for a nation.
Fifty years ago, on March 10, 1959, the population of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital revolted against the Chinese Communist invaders. A few days later, the Dalai Lama, the temporal and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people fled his country. Since then, he lives as a refugee in India.

Obama and the Lama – January 30, 2009
A few hours before Barack and Michelle Obama began walking down Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20, 2009, another man at the other end of the planet made history of a different kind. Though unrelated, the two events of that day had a link: They were based on a Dream…

The 17-year-old braveheart – January 2009
He was a 17-year-old who was enrolled as a Jemadar (Junior Commissioned Officer) in the Indian Army in 1948. And he won his first Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) at that very age. Ever heard of this hero? The late Chewang Rinchen, a Ladakhi from Nubra Valley, went on to rise to the rank of a Colonel by the time his long and glittering army career came to an end in 1984.
Born in 1931, Chewang could have spent his entire life in the remote village of Sumur, at the confluence of the Shyok and Nubra rivers. But the visit of the Kalon (minister) of Leh changed the course of his life. The official spotted the spark in the 13-year boy and, after gaining the approval of his parents, decided to take him to the Ladakhi capital and educate him.

’The end of the world as we know it’ – October 2008
During the press conference that followed the summit, the Indian Prime Minister made a statement which surprised many. India was not really alarmed by the latest developments as the meltdown primarily concerned the US and the West. Sarkozy immediately intervened to say that nobody would be immune and though the crisis may not touch India immediately, each and every nation would suffer at some point.

China: What after the Games – August 25, 2008
The glittering function is over, and the Olympic Games declared closed. But as the last floodlights on the Olympic Stadium are switched off, an interesting question remains. What is the future of China? The leadership in Beijing would certainly have gone through an enriching experience. They would have learned the hard way that many across the world do not appreciate their lack of value for human rights and freedom or the way they treat ‘their nationalities’, in particular the Tibetans.Once the exacerbated nationalist wave within China dies down, the leadership in their paradisiacal enclave of Zhongnanhai will have to draw up a balance sheet and ponder on the future…

We are scared, says Tibet PM-in-exile – July 23, 2008 (Interview)
“The Three Stops were in Shenzhen and the Four Not-Supporting in Beijing. The Chinese officials said they are very liberal, and since His Holiness has himself declared that he is not engaged in any of these activities, they accept his stand. But now he should actively not-support, meaning he should oppose those who carry on such activities. It means a change in their stand. At this moment we are very much worried about what will happen inside Tibet after the Olympics. What will happen there at the ground level?”

Special Feature on ‘Tibet: The Lost Frontier’ – July 2008
Including Interview, book review, slideshow and exerpts.

The Tyranny of the Com – June 3, 2008
Though we are living in a world where ‘Com’ is sovereign, I wonder if a tragedy such as Cambodia in the 70’s when Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge massacred more than 2 million of their countrymen were to reoccur, would the media leave their market defined parameters to try to put a halt to the carnage?

‘The state has taken more responsibility than it should’ – Interview S. Gurumurthy – May 12, 2008
S Gurumurthy is a chartered accountant by profession, but wears several other hats. He is the National Convenor of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, a mass-movement committed to the promotion of swadeshi industries and culture. He is also a renowned columnist, writing regularly for The New Indian Express and other publications. Often, he also acts a mediator in large industrial disputes.
In a free wheeling conversation with Claude Arpi in Chennai, Gurumurthy — known for his candid and at times controversial views on various subjects — speaks on the current sub-prime crisis and the civilizational choices which have triggered the present difficulties.
He also reflects on the international food crisis, its political repercussions in India, and also on the Finance Minister’s recent decision to waive farmers’ loans.

Beijing ko gussa kyon aata hain? – May 6, 2008
Returning recently from a visit to China, a friend of mine e-mailed me: The Chinese are deeply upset with the French, they are really furious. Why? Because, the Olympic flames journey through the streets of Paris was not as smooth as in some other capitals; the Flame had to be extinguished 3 or 4 times (by the Chinese commandos/Men in Blue)…

Coming soon: The Hunger Tsunami – April 15, 2008
If you ask experts what is the ‘number one’ issue facing the planet today, you will receive different answers from different people. Some will vociferously argue that US ‘imperialism’ is the problem, others will tell you that it is the rise of China; still other will say it is terrorism or global warming. Everyone has valid arguments to press his or her points.
For me however, the most critical issue is the food shortage, which is itself linked to worldwide water scarcity. Last week, the Director General of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Jacques Diouf was in Delhi. During an interaction with the press, he acknowledged that “the world had just about enough cereal stocks to feed the global population for two to three months.”

Tibet: A road to Nowhere – April 1, 2008
Over the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed a large increase in the number of ‘Tibet pundits’ in the media, particularly in India.
This is a good thing: the public as well as the security agencies, our army brass and our diplomats should get acquainted with the question of Tibet and the larger issue of the so-called ‘Peaceful Rise of China.’
The Pakistan-centric attitude of the Indian establishment is one of the most dangerous aspects of Indian foreign policy, (if such a thing exists). Any widening of the horizon, particularly towards the north, can only be welcomed. In the years to come, India will have to deal with China and not Pakistan.

‘To destroy a country, you create a scandal’ – Interview Capt. Bharat Verma (March 25, 2008)
Capt. Bharat Verma has been the editor of Indian Defence Review.  A quarterly journal read by leading policy makers at senior bureaucratic, political and military levels, the IDR is renowned as the “most-quoted Indian defence publication”.
Capt Verma is also the founder and current editor of Lancer Publishers, a publishing house dedicated to defence and security matters.
In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview to Claude Arpi, the former Army officer recalls the travails of setting up the IDR against stiff government opposition, and explains how India’s enemies use the country’s media and other democratic tools to try and destabilise it.
However, he argues, the India of 2012 will not be as “pacifist” as it is today. “It will be far more assertive and equipped with sufficient power to take on such adversaries in our vicinity.”

Tibet keeps alive true Spirit of the Games – March 19, 2008
The French Baron selected the beautiful creed for the Games: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
It is difficult to predict what is going to happen now. In the best scenario for Beijing, we will have a repetition of the Burma unrest. In a few months from now, one will not hear anymore about the uprising in Tibet. Politicians would have given a few statements condemning the ‘excess of violence’ and asking for restrain and business will continue as usual…

A nation that swallows its history – February 12, 2008
At least for one thing, I love the United States: they meticulously and regularly declassify historic documents pertaining to their foreign policy.
Is it not legitimate to know what our leaders have thought, done or written 30 years after the events? In the United States, people are entitled to have this information. But it is not so in India.

Why France matters – January 20, 2008
As the protocol section of the Ministry of External Affairs goes frantic over whether to accord the French President’s companion Carla Bruni the status of the First Lady or that of a special invitee for the Republic Day jamboree, it is perhaps time to examine Indo-French relations through a wider prism.
During his campaign in May, the hyperactive Nicolas Sarkozy had promised to reenergise old France. Will he be able to perform the same feat for Indo-French relations? To answer this question, it is necessary to put the visit into a historical perspective.

Indian defence and the Abominable No Men – December 31
India’s defence sector is today facing one of the grimmest times since the debacle of 1962. Many will infer that it is because India is a democracy governed by the rule of law and not a totalitarian regime. It could be, let us first have a look at the facts…

As Dalai Lama gains, Tibetans lose – December 24, 2007
A recent report released by the Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala lists hundreds of other issues such as the forced changes in the lifestyle of the nomads, the poor state of education, unemployment and social exclusion, the urban inequalities, the damming of rivers in Tibet (Brahmaputra is one of them), the extraction of natural resources or the collateral of tourism on the roof of the World (38 lakh visitors in 2007).
Which brings us back to the original question: As far as the Dalai Lama is concerned, was 2007 an Annus Mirabilis or an Annus Horibilis?

Kissinger, China, and Indian amnesia – November 11, 2007
‘The Indians are bastards anyway’. So declared Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor to US President Richard M Nixon, on November 5, 1971. This followed a meeting a day before with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who had met Nixon and Kissinger in Washington and apprised them about the grim situation in East Pakistan…

India-China: Imperfect harmony – October 16, 2007
Democracy is not the agenda of the 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. President Hu Jintao only proposed a small dose of ‘intra-party democracy’ when he presented his ‘Political Report’ during the opening conclave on October 15. However, Hu did promote the construction a ‘harmonious society’, making sure that the different political blocs are in a position to get their share of the current economic boom. But while the President mouthed the usual platitudes, such as ‘boosting people’s participation in politics in an orderly and incremental fashion,’ the political situation in China remains far from transparent.

Burma’s freedom cry – September 27, 2007 (
The Dalai Lama also addressed the generals: “As a Buddhist monk, I am appealing to the members of the military regime who believe in Buddhism to act in accordance with the sacred dharma in the spirit of compassion and non-violence.” His fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu believed that “The courage of the people of Myanmar is amazing and now they have been joined by their holy men. It is so like the rolling mass action that eventually toppled apartheid.” The generals are difficult nuts to crack, but let us hope!

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