The Dalai Lama Question – November 6, 2009
As the Dalai Lama arrives for a state visit in Arunachal Pradesh, a question goes around certain circles in Delhi: Is the Dalai Lama a burden for India? Several Indian ‘political thinkers’ are of the opinion that the Dalai Lama (along with more than one lakh of his followers) has become a liability for the nation. Some have suggested that the India should not have allowed the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang. The Tibetan religious leader, they argued, is the last stumbling block for a renewed friendship between India and China and ultimately a China-India dominance of the world.
China is awake, the world is trembling – October 1, 2009
This was 60 years ago, a full circle in the Chinese calendar. Li Zhisui, Mao Zedong’s private physician was a privileged man. On October 1, 1949, he was allowed to stand on the rostrum of Tienanmen Square to attend the ceremonies of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China.
Borderline amnesia – September 18, 2009
One of the arguments usually used by the Chinese to oppose anything happening in Arunachal (whether it is the visit of the Indian prime minister, infrastructure development or deployment of armed forces) is that Arunachal is theirs. They are so convinced of it that they have included the development of the area in their Plan expenditures for the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s southern districts.
One of the Chinese ‘proofs’ is that Tsangyang Gyaltso, the Sixth Dalai Lama, the great poet and lover was born near Tawang in 1683. This is an extremely lame point. Is France part of Kashmir because Dr Karan Singh is born in Cannes on the French Riviera? What about Liaquat Ali Khan, born in Karnal, Haryana; Zia-ul-Haq born in Jalandhar or Pervez Musharraf in Darya Ganj in Delhi? Does it make Haryana, Punjab or Delhi part of Pakistan?
Reliance on other archives – August 31, 2009
Indian rulers do not like history. It is difficult to understand why; is it a genetic problem? While for thousands of years, Chinese Emperors made sure that the details of their lives and times were noted for posterity, India has hardly any historical and political records of her past except for a few pillars and stone writings of Ashoka’s time. In China, the Records of the Grand Historian and the Bamboo Annals meticulously recorded life during the Xia dynasty, 5,000 years ago…
An unending tale of repression – July 12, 2009
On the Dalai Lama’s birthday on July 6, the news flash said that in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang (The New Dominion in Chinese), violence had erupted the previous day, resulting in at least 156 people dead and more than 1,000 wounded. The background to the bloodiest-ever riot in this restive region is still not clear. Apparently, it started with a peaceful protest which later turned violent. Uighur students were protesting against the killings of two Uighurs by Han Chinese workers in a factory in south China.
The new aristocracy – June 22, 2009
India has just completed one of the most stunning exercises in modern governance. As one national newspaper put it: ‘With a continent-sized 714 million voters, India has learned to pull off virtually flawlessly the biggest, eye-popping democratic exercise with the kind of ease that is a part of our new brand equity’.
Though India has repeatedly been compared to China, the land of Bharat often appears to be a pale copy of the Middle Kingdom, at least where development, defence preparedness or infrastructure are concerned. But while an authoritarian regime facilitates faster building of roads, airports or new cities, a one-party system undermines the state in other fields. One is long-term stability.
Will the Ox be as auspicious as the Rat? – February 17, 2009
“The year 2008 was an extraordinary one in the history of the People’s Republic of China. In that year China overcame a devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province; successfully hosted the 29th Olympic Games and Paralympics in Beijing; and greeted the 30th anniversary of the adoption of reform and opening-up policies”. Thus starts the new white paper on defence published by Beijing a few days before the Chinese New Year (January 26).
Road ahead for Tibet still in darkness – November 26, 2008
“Since I was very young, I realised that the transformation of our governance into a democratic system was of utmost importance for Tibet’s immediate and long-term interest. Therefore, after taking responsibility as the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, I worked hard to establish such a democratic set-up in Tibet,” the Dalai Lama said recently. As soon as he went into exile in 1959, the Tibetan leader continued his efforts to democratise Tibetan society.
Forty years on, the dream still inspires – May 13, 2008
MAY ’68 means very little to the average Indian. Here, the second French Revolution, when students took to the streets of France in the spring of 1968, has not acquired the mythical aura it still enjoys in France and in Europe. Though some sociologists have written that nothing happened, the generation that is celebrating 40 years of May ’68 still cherishes memories of those hot May days…
The Role of France – January 20, 2008
On August 15, 1947, the British left the subcontinent and became the good guys. The French (and the Portuguese) were seen as villains because Paris still clung to its small ‘colonies’ in India. At the end of the 40’s, successive French governments were too weak to take any drastic decisions; Paris was also worried about creating a precedent for its other colonies in Indochina and North Africa. All this negatively affected the relations between India and France during the first years after Independence. Fortunately, the issue was solved in 1954 and Pondicherry merged into the Union of India.
Mini Treaty for Europe? – November 4, 2007
The ambitious word ’Constitution’ was dropped and the ’Reform Treaty’, as it is now known, returns to the traditional method of an amendment to the existing treaties. Though the main outlines of a new Treaty had been agreed upon during the 21-23 June EU Summit, the last minute painful bargaining by the Twenty-Seven (and particularly new entrants like Poland) could have stopped the integration process. Everyone knows that it is more difficult to prepare a good meal with 27 cooks than with 6…
A Vague Policy – October 7, 2007
ANYWHERE in the world, the first thing that a student of international relations is supposed to learn is the definition of ‘national interest’. Of course, the concept can vary from one country to another, from one epoch to another, but it is nevertheless a rather clear notion, with more or less same the parameters everywhere. A couple of years ago, I purchased a textbook on “Indian Foreign Policy” out of curiosity.
A forgotten pedagogue – September 16, 2007
In July 2001, Beijing was awarded the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games. Many Human Rights campaigners across the world expressed their surprise as Beijing had been regularly credited with the worst human rights violations, particularly since the 1989 bloody crackdown on Tiananmen Square. The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Executive Director, Francois Carrard was quick to defend the choice of Beijing. He announced that the Games would be a ‘force for good.’ The IOC’s President, Jacques Rogge confirmed: “We are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve human rights in China.” Today, six years later, the ‘force for good’ has not brought any tangible progress and the Games’ spirit seems to be fading day by the day.
A R&AW Perspective – August 19, 2007
But who are these Kaoboys? Very few people in India have heard of Rameshwar Nath Kao, though he was held in great esteem by many heads of foreign states (Bush Sr. for example). In 1968, Kao was selected by Indira Gandhi to set up the R&AW after the IB was bifurcated into two separate agencies: one looking after internal intelligence (IB) and the other, the external (R&AW).
Will an Indian PM ever go jogging? – July 1, 2007
From our side of the planet, it is not difficult to grasp why France cannot compete with countries like China or India, which work much more for much less. Globalisation and delocalisation are here to stay and the Western society has no choice but to adapt itself to this new paradigm. However some of the President’s first reforms are nevertheless worth looking at by India too.
Who will feed India – April 2007
He added: “Why is this small piece of land — Nandigram — so important for a party that believes in the withering away of the State? When did they stop believing that Nation State is an artificial construct conceived and created by the bourgeoisie to oppress the working class?”
But the issue is even graver. It raises a more fundamental question: “Can India feed her people in the decades to come?”
A Pact with Nature – February 7, 2007
Where is Europe 50 years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome? The most pessimistic watchers like Michel Rocard, a former French Prime Minister, believe that “Political Europe is dead. But Economic Europe remains. It is the first economy in the world; it can put its weight on the rules of world game”.
Whether optimistic or gloomy, the fact remains that 50 years after the extraordinary adventure of the European Union was launched, the European process has seen the emergence of a new kind of aspiration for unity which translated into a voluntary association of its nation-states.
The Prayers Wheels of Hope – October 15, 2006
The Times They Are A-Changin”, said the poet. Nowhere as in China, do these words ring so true. A few days ago, I had a shock: on a French blog I saw the picture of a replica of the Potala Palace in the Tiananmen Square. What was the Dalai Lama’s palace doing in front of the Great Hall of the People? Wanting to display some buildings of China on the occasion of the People’s Republic Day, the Beijing authorities had selected the Potala. This exhibit is indeed symptomatic of the new passion for Tibet in China.
The second liberation of Tibet – September 3, 2006
A rather strange piece of news appeared recently in the press: a German Google Earth user spotted a military base in China’s Northern plains. There would be nothing extraordinary in this if the free satellite imagery software had not shown an accurate scale model of a highly sensitive stretch of the disputed Sino-Indian border in the Aksai Chin area of Ladakh…
Vive la France – July 9, 2006
France had the blues. Opinion polls showed President Chirac at his lowest ever. With his reign coming to an end, France has become for many observers an ‘old’ nation, a nation of losers: take Arcelor, the flagship of French industry being bought by an Indian ‘native’ while the prestigious ‘Clémenceau’ aircraft carrier beats a pathetic retreat…
Confiscated History – June 18, 2006
I believe that the study of the history of the sub-continent could be one of the keys to disentangling difficult problems such as the Kashmir issue. Unfortunately, nobody can today access the primary sources: they are locked in the vaults of the Nehru Memorial Library or in the almirahs of South Block. (I am told they are very dusty!)
Eyes wide shut – May 7, 2006
My only point is that it does not help India to always place the blame on a more environmentally-aware West, for all its ills. The predicament is in India, and as long as the government does not decide to take hard and perhaps unpopular decisions, we will continue to be sick during the spraying season.
A Year of Peace and Justice – March 12, 2006
“We are living today in a very interdependent world. One nation’s problems can no longer be solved by itself. Without a sense of universal responsibility our very survival is in danger. I have, therefore, always believed in the need for better understanding, closer co-operation and greater respect among the various nations of the world…” (The Dalai Lama)
Le Clemenceau, a story of grandeur – January 22, 2006
After retiring from politics, Georges Clemenceau had written his memoirs, The Grandeur and Misery of Victory. For the aircraft-carrier, its time of misery also followed its grandeur. In 2003, it was sold for scrap. Its 24,000 tonnes of steel were valued at 40 crores, but there was a quandary: a few hundred tonnes of asbestos were mixed with the steel.
All that’s missing is a glass of wine – December 18, 2005
I was shifted to the Institute of Cardio-Vascular Diseases where I was immediately operated. Here I experienced ‘new India’. The Insitute had the equivalent of the most modern hospitals in France, and the skills of the surgeon and cardiologist matched that of their colleagues in the West. But there is a difference – the ‘Indian touch’.
The Kashmir Saga – September 25, 2005
On September 22, 1965, Lal Bahadur Shastri, the Indian Prime Minister ordered a ceasefire to the Indian Army advancing on Lahore. This marked the end of the conflict started two months earlier when Pakistan launched military ‘infiltrations’ to capture Kashmir.
Fate and freedom – August 14, 2005
What a strange fate for this young toddler Lhamo Dhondrub, born 70 years ago in a small village of northeastern Tibet. One day in 1937, a delegation of monks entered the village and knocked at his parents’ door. A few weeks later, the boy was officially recognised as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama and at the age of 4, he was enthroned as the head of the Tibetan State.
How about SAU? June 6, 2005
New technological and communication discoveries shrink the planet every day to the size of a small hamlet, and international institutions have no choice but to follow the process, even if a few decades later. History goes in one direction only: Towards a greater unification of the people of the world.
Two cultures One identity – September 14, 2004
We have a tendency to often forget that Pondicherry was a sleepy colonial settlement on the Bay of Bengal: a colonial town par excellence. Apparently, nothing was happening. The month of August 1947 saw the sub-continent’s independence, its partition and the long-awaited departure of the British. The headquarters of French India finally emerged from its colonial torpor.