THE RIGHT VIEW
The 2 am call
27 Mar 2008, 1618 hrs IST,Tarun Vijay
Last week Nirupama Rao, our envoy in Beijing, was summoned by the Chinese foreign office at 2 am to protest against what they said was a breach into their territory by Tibetan protesters who hoisted a Tibetan flag in their embassy compound in New Delhi. At first it looks unbelievable that a foreign government could choose such an unearthly time just to hand over a protest letter and alert India to Tibetan plans to organize more protests in Delhi. Yet this is true and so is the feeble 'no protest' by the mandarins of Delhi's China policy.
A peeved India cancelled Commerce Minister Kamal Nath's China trip as an invisible mark of discomfort which can't be interpreted as anger. That's what compromising and spineless states do when humiliated. It's not to suggest we must send our armed protesters to Beijing. The response of the strong has to be calm but firm. Simply calling off a minister's visit is not enough. India should have protested appropriately and formally against such unsavoury behaviour towards a woman envoy.
Nirupama Rao is a suave diplomat and a poetess at heart. She was a cool reassuring face of patriotic diplomacy when she worked as the spokesperson for MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) in Delhi before taking up ambassadorial positions in Sri Lanka and China. As our envoy to Beijing she has done well so far to earn respect and appreciation from all quarters. China has been pushing its expansionist designs arrogantly and encircling Indian waters from Gwadar to Coco islands. It annexed Tibet, forcibly took possession of Aksai Chin and happily took an illegitimate 'gift' of Indian land by Pakistan, it claims the entire Arunachal Pradesh and refuses to issue visas to resident Indians of Arunachal; yet we try to ensure that nothing should be done to displease the mighty dragon.
And this is happening when the Tatas have acquired Jaguar and Land Rover, the two greatest icons of the British Empire turning every Indian joyous and reaffirming the truth that if leaders have failed the nation, its people have led her to glory.
Now speaking for a Tibetan cause is not exactly supporting independence for the Buddha Land. We have committed that Tibet belongs to China and even Dalai Lama has categorically accepted Chinese suzerainty. But we have an uninterrupted ancient relationship with Tibet, her culture and people and we just can't keep mum over their plight. It's dangerous to link Tibet with Kashmir since they are very different issues. We have not annexed Kashmir; the people of Kashmir have always been leaders in scholarship and national identity since ages, defining and interpreting the core of Indian-ness. In fact we are victims of foreign intervention and Islamic terrorism in the valley. We are not 'Indianising' Kashmir, it is India. The vidya that emerged from Kashmir's Shaiva sect and Shrada peeth, the highest seat of learning for Hindus, Indianises the rest of India.
Tibet is different. The Chinese state power killed and maimed and brutalised the local people, the Indian government lost the Tibetan case out of sheer weakness and a lack of farsightedness. Now the inhuman Hanisation of the Tibet land continues with the blood of the devout while Beijing refuses any dialogue with Dalai Lama. This has to be squarely condemned. This doesn't mean China will wage war with us on this. They need a peaceful 20 years to emerge a superpower. But we need to show some spine and stand up for our own dreams and inner strength. If India doesn't want an enemy on the northern front, do we think that China would love to have soured relations with India, enhancing trade and relations with whom are top priority?
Learn from Barack Obama. His speech on race and religion comes straight from his American heart without mincing a word or skirting issues. He spoke for American dreams and the American people. He stood for the unity and strength of the land and faced the most inconvenient factors governing American life in an honest and transparent manner. That won him laurels. Whether he wins is a different matter but the truth is that Americans love someone who speaks for the unity and oneness of their land.
Nor did Obama deride or humiliate his guru, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr, over his controversial remarks. "As imperfect as he (Wright) may be, he has been like family to me... I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother," Obama told an audience at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
He stood for his family, proudly proclaiming his lineage and stoutly defending American unity. The media has unanimously described his speech as one that urges unity and applies a balm on social wounds. Even to an Indian his words inspire: "I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents. And for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible... It is a story that has seared into my genetic make-up the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts — that out of many, we are truly one," he said.
Power and confidence flowed through his words. He has a mixed racial background, a Muslim history too and is up against a charismatic rival. Yet his candour and faith in America has won hearts. He has lived up to the Latin Christian roots of his land and tried to prove worthier than many natural born whites.
How many Indian leaders have that faith in their nation's great destiny? They are ashamed of their nation's cultural and civilisational heritage and do everything to belittle the country.
One can face the world only on the strong foundations of ancient legacy. China has a great civilisational history and a heritage that is has touched pinnacles of glory and achievement. The Communist government doesn't feel shy about it. In every official book on China, the glorious imperial past, its civilisational contours, the cultural and religious glory is presented with pride. Patriotism is not a dirty word as is the case with Indian Communists. We can face and stand before such a nation equipped with the strength that comes from pride in our civilisational heritage alone. The poverty of pride in Indian roots and a sense of embarrassment about the Hindu heritage which is common to every faithful of Indian origin worshipping any god or religion create a paucity of confidence. India is facing the same black hole of self-denying secularism which makes policymakers distance themselves from faiths having any resemblance or affinity to Hinduism. The lack of Bhakti (devotion) in the nation's life mechanism deprive it of the essential Shakti, the ultimate power to deal with enemies within and without. Often, friends and foes are confused.
That China should be engaged in a friendly manner is a different proposition. But to say we must ensure China remains friendly at any cost is a dangerously self-defeating idea which needs correction. The basic premise should be to keep our interest intact. If we need China as a friend, China needs our friendship too. If we are expected to act cautiously to strengthen friendly ties and increase levels of CBMs (Confidence Building Measures), China too is expected to do the same.
The author is the Director, Dr Syamaprasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.